Marriage Advice on How To Make Love Last

A good marriage isn’t something you find. You have to make it great, and then you have to keep making it that way. Most people stop working on their marriage right after the honeymoon is over. They get bogged down in work, kids, mortgages, and all the trials of life. If you don’t stay focused on then intimacy in marriage, you will lose it. Here are a few tips to help you keep the flame of love and happiness lit:

Show Them Respect

Every healthy relationship must include respect. Without it, you are doomed to fail. When your partner wants to speak with you, take the time to do so. Don’t mock their words or belittle them in any way. By showing your significant other that you value their thoughts, feelings, time and effort, you will let them know you respect them.

The opposite of respect is contempt or criticism. That is poison to the relationship and part of the “Four Horseman” of the final days of marriage. The other two destructive forces in marriage are stonewalling and defensiveness. These latter two “horseman” refer to emotionally shutting down and overly protecting oneself.

John Gottman, marriage researcher and author states: “Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.”

Give Them Priority

Your partner may not always be your number one priority, especially if you had children before you entered the relationship or have another situation that demands a lot of your time. If your partner is always last on your list, though, there will be trouble. Giving your partner at least some priority shows them that you value them.

Marriage needs balance to succeed. After work and kids are gone, couples end up with nothing. Put some time into one another, through date nights, talking after the kids go to bed, enjoying hobbies or activities together, reading, etc. What you do isn’t as important as the fact that you are doing things together.

Have Fun Together

Make time to laugh together. Plan fun activities and do new things together so that you can always remember the experience. Making memories builds bonds. This will give you and your partner good feelings when thinking about one another, because of the great times you have when you are with each other. Fun can involve the children too. Watch funny movies, tell jokes, ask about the highs and lows of the day so marriage and family intimacy deepens.

Have Fun and Show Appreciation to each other!

Learn with Them

Take a class together, or embark on learning a new hobby as a duo. When you stretch your brains in regards to the same subject, it gives you something to talk about. When a couple feels like they are challenging each other and helping each other to become their best, it brings strength to the relationship.

If you are struggling in some area of your relationship this is an excellent topic to read a book on or attend a course. There are thousands of YouTube videos and podcasts. Listen to one on the way to the store or off to visits grandparents. You might discover that one magic idea that causes your relationship to soar.

It has been said that the “capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, the willingness to learn is a choice” (Brian Herbert).

Maintain Your Individuality

Although time as a unit is important, don’t do absolutely everything together. Give yourself the opportunity to grow your other friendships and hobbies. When you do this, it gives you a break so that you can appreciate each other when you are together, and it also gives you something to talk about.

Women are more likely to connect with friends than men. Developing relationship as a couple and then branching out or reaching out might be something men can work on. Getting involved in men’s groups or sports can be an excellent outlet for men as well.

Express Your Appreciation

Let your partner know that you are grateful for them and who they are. When they have made sacrifices to do something kind for you, write them a thank you card or cook them their favorite meal. Showing your thankfulness and appreciation never goes out of style. The opposite could also be true: Stop showing appreciation for others and they might stop doing the things we appreciate!

Be Creative in Showing Your Love

Say “I love you” to your partner, but don’t stop there. Get creative in the ways that you show your love. Demonstrate it by using your own personal talents through actions such as writing them a poem, making their favourite dessert or composing a song for them. Plan a relaxing vacation weekend or even a one-on-one movie night together at home. It doesn’t take a lot of money to demonstrate that you love your partner.

Gary Chapman wrote a popular book: “The 5 Love Languages”. It outlines how everyone feels most loved in unique ways. We tend to show love in the ways we like to feel loved versus loving them in their own way.

Learn each other’s love language!

The 5 Love Languages include: Words of appreciation, physical touch, gifts, acts of service, and quality time. It is possible to have more than one but learning your partners special way of feeling loved is an act of love in itself. Try taking the online quiz to learn with your spouse at https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language

If you would like more help learning how to make love last, consider talking with Ron Huxley for online couples counseling today.

Building Family Resiliency (Video)

Parent Connection Coach and Educator Ron Huxley, L.M.F.T., is here to help you and your family build resiliency during these stressful times.
Watch the video and learn how to:
1. Gain new perspectives.
2. Teach your children to be problem solversHelp parents become resiliency coaches and avoid power struggles.
3. Eliminate negative game playing to develop loving and cooperative relationships.

Ron Huxley has over 30 years experience helping families heal and serves as a parent coach and educator with Parent Connection of San Luis Obispo County. In his capacity as a parent coach, Ron specializes in working with families who’ve experienced trauma. He believes in taking a strength-based approach that builds on solutions and he creates strategies that fit each family situation in the shortest time necessary.  


Ron Huxley is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist providing trauma-informed therapy for individuals and families. Currently practicing on the Central Coast of California, Ron travels internationally educating parents and professionals on trauma-informed care.

Finding comfort and joy, moment by moment.

During this season we hear a lot about comfort and joy but many people feel only pain and loss. Comfort and joy are the perfect antidotes to this suffering. It is what a broken world needs most. It may be that we can’t find comfort and joy because we believe that when we do we will stop feeling hurt. This is not always true. Our heart is to create more space not to eliminate hurt. That would be a nice result but isn’t reality. We strive to allow comfort and joy to coexist with our pain and loss. This inner act expands our heart of compassion. We now have a greater capacity for feeling both comfort and pain, joy and loss. It is a spiritual paradox but it is a direction for our own healing. 

Science confirms this idea. Our hearts literally do expand when we entertain compassion and allow more space for comfort and joy. Choosing compassion releases neurotransmitters in the brain and hormones in the body and calm down the hyperaroused nervous system, reducing fear, anger, anxiety, and depression. 

Studies on the practice of compassion reveal improved autoimmune functioning, decreased inflammation, improved digestion, increase mental focus, motivation, and even sleep. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a noted cognitive neuroscientist, and researcher on the mind-body connection report that compassion increases the grey matter in the brain, allowing improved thinking and sensory processing. 

So how does compassion start? How do we allow comfort and joy into our lives when we feel stuck emotionally? The answer is where we put our focus. 

Right now, at this moment, you have a choice. Whoops, there it went but don’t worry, here comes another. Missed that one. Just wait…

We have thousands of opportunities to choose comfort and joy. Every moment is a chance to change the directions of our lives. It will not remove pain and suffering but it will allow us to build a mindset that allows comfort and joy too. Take a deep breath and make one statement of comfort and joy. Maybe it is gratitude for that cup of coffee or tea in front of you. Is it warm and comforting however brief? Maybe you heard someone laugh and it made you smile? Perhaps, someone opened the door for you when your hands were full? Life is constantly presenting micro-moments of comfort and joy. You just have to notice them. 

The problem is that we allow suffering to be our filter for living. We get angry expecting things to be different than they are. We resent people for not treating us the way we deserve. Just allow those challenges to exist alongside the next moment of gratitude and pleasure. Build those moments up, one after the other, and live a day full of tiny, joyful experiences. Tip the emotional scale in your direction. 

The brain likes to automate our life. It will take any repeated experience, good or bad, and make it a habit. This is how we can do so many tasks and face so many diverse problems. It makes us efficient and skilled. It can also make us miserable if we stop being aware of what is going on around us. A lack of moment to moment awareness makes us a machine, driven to self-protect and insulate from anything that smells dangerous or out of the norm. We don’t want the norm. The norm is hurt. We want the new which is comfort and joy. This will cost you some mental energy until the new norm becomes a happy habit. 

Test these ideas out today. Stop three times today to recognize a moment of comfort or joy. Write them down on a post-it note. Remember, in as much detail as you can muster, throughout the day, what it felt like. Do this for a week and see if your pain, your suffering, starts to lessen and a life of greater compassion takes over. 

Let Ron Huxley, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, assist you in finding more comfort and joy. Schedule a session today – Click here!

Humility Allows Opportunity for Family Healing

Humility is a great opportunity for healing. It creates an ideal mental state that allows you to connect deeply with another human being. When you are in a humble space, I see our relationship as it is, not as I think it is… It restructures the nervous system to “fire and wire” with new neural networks that prepare us for change. This is why pain can bring breakthrough in our life and relationships. It is why loss can develop into growth. It’s not that you want to go through the pain and loss but it can be transformed into some new and precious.

Humility will break-through emotional programs of trauma from the past. In others words, you can get unstuck!

“The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.” Proverbs 22:4

Just Like Me…

In a recent training on Trauma-Informed Care, I led the group through a mindfulness exercise that explored the nature of suffering. The goal was to bring a higher level of compassion for others in emotional pain.

Suffering refers to the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. We know, in our heads, that everyone goes through difficult times but in our hearts, we neglect to connect with others, in their pain. This is because we are in pain too!

Professionals, who work with hurt people, are double-agents. They provide trauma-informed care and services to others AND they have experienced trauma too. We can be triggered by others pain and this will result in a distancing of emotions in order to keep ourselves safe. We sometimes call this a “professional distance” or “objectivity.” It might help us feel safer but it will also disconnect us from the heart of what we are trying to do in serving others. How to maintain this balance is the subject for another discussion. In the meantime, try this mindfulness exercise called “Just Like Me…” Examine how you feel before and after reading through it. Use it weekly or as often as you need to reconnect you with others who have experienced trauma and loss.

“Think of someone you like or dislike that you want to expect positive feelings and forgive. It help to think of that person who is similar to you. Take deep breaths and repeat after me…

This person has a body and a mind, just like me.
This person has feelings, emotions, and thoughts, just like me.
This person has in his or her life, experienced physical and emotional pain and suffering, just like me.
This person has at some point been sad, disappointed, angry, or hurt, just like me. This person has felt unworthy or inadequate, just like me.
This person worries and is frightened sometimes, just like me.
This person has longed for friendship, just like me.
This person is learning about life, just like me.
This person wants to be caring and kind to others, just like me.
This person wants to be content with what life has given, just like me.
This person wishes to be free from pain and suffering, just like me.
This person wishes to be safe and healthy, just like me.
This person wishes to be happy, just like me.
This person wishes to be loved, just like me.
Now, allow some wishes for well-being to arise:
I wish that this person have the strength, resources, and social support to navigate the difficulties in life with ease.
I wish that this person be free from pain and suffering.
I wish that this person be peaceful and happy.
I wish that this person be loved.
Because this person is a fellow human being, just like me.”

Need a therapist or trainer on healing from the hurt of trauma? Contact Ron Huxley today at rehuxley@gmail.com.

Take an online course on Trauma-Informed Care dealing with Trauma, Anxiety, Parenting, and more at http://FamilyHealerSchool.com

 

Children who no longer live with their birth parents must go through their own version of grief…

by Ron Huxley, LMFT

In 2014, Child Welfare Services checked up on 3.2 million children reported as abused or neglected, in the United States of America*. Many of these children are removed from their birth parents and enter foster care. Some return to their parents while others are adopted by loving families. The goal is always permanency for children but the issues of grief must be addressed regardless of the child’s placement.

What is Grief?

Grief is the state that individuals experience when a significant loss occurs in their life. The loss might occur as a result of death, divorce, and/or abandonment by a family member. It might be said that nontraditional families, like foster and adoptive families, are born out of grief as they are formed as a result of a loss. This is confusing due to this is a time for both celebration and sadness.

Grief is a profound loss for children that is not always recognized by parents and professionals. One reason is that children do not grief in the same way that adults do. Young children often act like nothing happened at all and adults wrongly assume they are not grieving. Later, when they erupt in anger and aggression towards others, adults are surprised by their behavior. Misunderstanding the behavior will lead to incorrectly managing it and parents miss an opportunity to address the loss and create a healing bond.

Stages of Grief

Despite the confusion, grief has predictable stages of development. This is beneficial to the nontraditional parent as they attempt to make sense of their child’s grief experiences. Most importantly they know that the most negative feelings of grief and loss will not last forever, at least not in the same intensity as when it first started.

Perhaps the best known framework for grief and loss are the stages listed in the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who wrote the book On Death and Dying (1969). Her stages of grief include:

Denial
Anger
Bargaining
Depression
Acceptance

These stages can manifest differently depending on the child’s developmental stage. As a child matures, their ability to understand themselves and their world changes, allowing for deeper levels of grieving. This is why young children can act like they don’t grief or care about their past. They may not want to talk about their past or have any questions for adults. When they are older, however, they may “suddenly” have questions and this can be perplexing to adults.

Another way grief can affect children is creating a division between “age and stage.” A child may be 16 years of age chronologically but act emotionally and socially like a 6 year old. Would a parent allow a 6 year old to take care of his or her younger siblings? Of course not! A 16 should be responsible to watch their younger siblings for a short time. A 6 year old would not have the cognitive ability. A 10 year discrepancy between age and stage can cause grieving children to look like they are on an emotional roller coaster ride. One minute they are responsible and calm. Then next they are reactive and impulsive. Parents can easily make the mistake of dealing with the child’s age and not their stage.

Close the gap between the child’s emotional and chronological stage by creating a space for them to grief past losses.

Waves of the Ocean

A useful metaphor for understanding grief are the waves of an ocean. When you are way out in the ocean, the waves are large and frightening. They pull you under and twist you about, creating a sense of hopelessness or fear of your future. This is similar to the stage of Denial or shock at the reality of the loss. When the waves pass and the ocean feels momentarily calm, this is called the stage of anger or bargaining. The shore represents the stage of acceptance. As nontraditional parents and children swim for the stage of acceptance, waves continue to crash over them, sometimes threatening to pull them under in denial and shock and at other times settling down and letting anger and bargaining propel them forward to the shore. The closer you come to the shore the less intense the waves. But even small waves, when standing on the edge of the ocean can unsettle and cause you to lose your balance.

Parents can use this metaphor to help themselves and their children find emotional balance. Because they are in the ocean and not on the shore they cannot compare their children’s action to others. In addition, rather than live up to society’s expectation of what an ideal family should look like, parents need to concentrate their energy on helping their child swim for the shore, in their own timeframe, even if it must be developmental stages.

Art and the Heart

Expressive arts can open the heart of the child who is grieving by allowing them to freely process thoughts and feelings that have been trapped in her heart and possibly . Parents have to set an atmosphere of acceptance to help the child “swim to shore”. Parents who avoid talking about sad or angry feelings communicate that it is unsafe or unwise to share. You don’t have to be an art therapist. Just get out the crayons and paper. Pull out paints and use your fingers. Play with legos and dolls. Make believe and role play. As adults we can interject healing ideas and allow grief and loss to work naturally. 

Talking about Birth Parents

It can feel rejecting for foster or adoptive parents to talk to their children about birth parents. Ironically, opening up conversation and allowing children to grieve will create a closer, more intimate attachment. Not talking about them will reinforce shame in the child and idealizing birth parents creating a vicious cycle or hurt between parent and child. The loss has already occurred. Avoid it doesn’t make it go away. It stays buried until it comes out in more painful ways. 

If parents need help in this area, consult with a child therapy and spend some time working through the age and stage of grief. 

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Sources: 

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/07/in-a-year-child-protective-services-conducted-32-million-investigations/374809/

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying (1969).

Ron Huxley, Love and Limits: Achieving a Balance in Parenting (1998).

How to Parent When YOU Are in Pain?

Parenting & Pain
By Ron Huxley, LMFT

It is hard to be on top of our parenting game when you are in a lot of emotional pain. This is especially challenging if the origin of this pain comes from the children that we are trying to parent. It might be simplistic to say but pain is “painful.” It hurts! It shuts us down and drives a wall between us and others so we can’t be hurt anymore. We want to retreat to nurse our wounds before risking more in relationships. Unfortunately, the everyday tasks of life have to be completed and our children continue to need us. As a compromise to this situation we become robotic in our actions. We are hyper-functional but we are hypo-relational. We get stuff done but we are just going through the motions and have no e-motions to share. We are too raw!

If you are in this place, make a resolution to find some help through good friends, therapists, doctors, etc. There are lot of support groups and parenting educations classes in your community. Be determined not to repeat past problems. Find new ideas and new support to achieve new, less painful interactions with your family. Second, be OK with being in a place of pain but don’t let it define you. You feel bad but YOU are not bad. Hurtful feelings are normal responses to hurtful actions they are not meant to be permanent. You will have better days again but don’t allow shame to pull you deeper into that dark place of despair. Set some boundaries, find some help and get mad a shame. It is not your friend!

Take back control of your home: 101 Parenting Tools: Building the Family of Your Dreams

How do you feel about your child today?

Are you feeling love or are you feeling anger or sadness or disappointment?

Our feelings are responses to events that occur in us and around us. They are not definitions of the relationship status or the amount of affection we can direct towards our children. When they mess up and they are good mess makers, we never change our affections toward them regardless of our emotional state.

Emotions come and go. The word emotion comes from the French term “to stir up” and stir up they do but they also settle down. Our emotional statement is based on our state of mind about our intentions to love our children in unconditional ways no matter what emotions have been stirred up. 

The good news about emotions and relationships is that they are new every day. Today is a new day to start fresh and re-store new emotional experiences. Don’t let emotions drag yesterday into todays thoughts and actions. Yesterday is a drag…it drags down your ability to parent from a fully charged emotional purpose to love and cherish your children.

Give yourself permission to feel freely, in love, with your child today.