Accepting Differences Between You and Your Partner

Accepting Differences in a Relationship

I was thinking about acceptance the other day and was realizing that this is a practice that might take a long time to get good at, especially when we are talking about relationships. You see, all of us pretty much like who we are. We like how we think, how we behave and act. We like our ways.

And many of us get really perturbed when our partner doesn’t agree with us. They might do something different than what we learned growing up. Or they might like something arranged differently then how we prefer. They might even say things we would never say.

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Lean on Your Partner to make it Through the Holidays

Lean on your partner to get through the holidays

I don’t know anyone who is not feeling greater stress during this time of year. Even terrific moments with people we love can cause us stress, and that’s if family and extended family are individuals we WANT to see. It’s even more stressful if we are acting out of obligation.

Whatever your circumstances, it’s probably likely there will be at least a few people who drive us up a wall and cause us enormous stress. Welcome to the holidays. Not to mention the numerous details; buying gifts, decorating, baking, cooking sending cards, and trying to be a loving person on top of all that.

I’m stressed just writing about it. Let’s just acknowledge it; Holidays are HARD! And they can be much harder if you turn on the one person who is your rock 90 percent of the time, your partner. Think right now what a good team you make during a crisis. Now ask yourself if you are pulling your hair out and fighting more than usual with your mate?

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Self-Soothing for Healthier, Happier Relationships

Self-Soothing for Better Relationships

While self-soothing is an important skill to have, not every one knows how to practice it. Even so, anyone can develop it. That’s important because using self-soothing skills can not only improve your life, they can also enhance your relationship.

I was recalling a conversation I had recently with a friend who was sad about a situation in her relationship. I was feeling the depth of her suffering, her pain at not being understood or left out or feeling ignored. I wasn’t exactly sure what she was experiencing, but I did sense that she was very sad.

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How to Stop Arguing with Your Spouse or Partner

How to Stop Arguing with Your Spouse

Wondering how to stop arguing with your spouse? You’re not alone.

Couples often tell me they are so tired of having continuous arguments about the same thing with the person they love. They say those arguments always end up the same way, both people exhausted and nothing gets resolved. They want to fix the problem but they just don’t know how.

This is a very common problem for people in relationships and marriages. So why does this pattern occur? Let me explain.

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How to Stop Fighting In a Relationship, and Simply Love

How to Stop Fighting in a Relationship

First off, no one plans to have a disagreement with the person they love. We love who we love and we want to be in harmony with them. So why is it so hard for many of us to stop fighting in a relationship? Why is it that the fights pretty much determine whether a relationship will last or not?

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One More Day

You are invited to watch the debut of a new show: Feel Better Live. It’s being hosted by Linda Nusbaum, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping couples.  The first show will air tomorrow, Thursday, February 21st at 6:00pm and continue every Thursday at 6:00 from then on.  It’s free and you don’t have to sign anything to be a part.  All you have to do is visit the Feel Better Live Stream Page ( by clicking here.

*Note, if you press play before the scheduled show you will be able to watch a promotional video.

So why should you watch?  The show is designed to help people in their relationships.  We all have many relationships in our lives; with our mates, with family, with children, at work.  Often we run into difficulties and sometimes these challenges leave us feeling terrible.  Let me help you work through your worries.  Send me your questions and I will answer them live during the show.  Don’t worry about identifying yourself, you can remain anonymous if you choose. You can start now by sending in your thoughts to

I can’t wait to hear from you and have you be part of our new show.  Me and my team are thrilled to be hitting the air.

See you soon!


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Why Giving Up Control Can Help Your Relationship and Your Life

As a relationship specialist I was working recently with a couple where one of the pair (“the client”) was in misery.  The client anguished because this individual thought their partner was talking with another person outside the relationship.  This worry was very real and took up an enormous amount of time for the client.  Although there was no sexual relationship the client kept ruminating with the following thoughts about their mate. “What if the partner was interested in another?  What would happen to the relationship?”  These types of questions played out in this person’s mind.  The more the client thoughts about it, the worse the client felt.

This situation continued for weeks; the worry, the anguish, the concern.  Then during a recent session I noticed something new.  The anguish was gone.  There was no more worry from the client.  There was a greater sense of calm.

How did this happen?  The client stated they just decided they could not control what the partner did and so they gave up trying to control it.  Yeah, it was that simple, and that profound.  This client realized that their worries could not accomplish anything even though they had spent countless hours trying to effect some change.  This client decided that they would not continue to try and alter or control what their partner was doing.  This client decided to just accept what they could do and accept what their partner was going to do.

This takes courage and self control.  This takes facing something that might not be to our liking and just accepting that we will be OK no matter what, even if we don’t want such a thing to occur.  This is a brave stance, and I don’t see it a lot during therapy.  I was surprised and grateful.

I was surprised, because the action was so evolved, grateful because the client was no longer suffering.  The client let go of trying to control the outcome, or what the partner was doing, or what might happen.  The client let go of trying to do anything.  The client just allowed what was going to happen to just happen.  And in doing so they were now calmer, the stress was reduced and they were more attentive and present.

I often talk a lot about being present.  Taking life in as it comes, allowing it to unfold; the good and the bad.  Once we have self confidence and are grounded we know that what ever life throws at us will not be enough to knock us off the rails.  What we learn is to trust in ourselves.  We stay connected to the knowledge that we will be OK.

This is true freedom.  This allows for real happiness.  We can’t ever be in charge of the outcome.  When we realize this we might be able to find a way to just be grateful for what we have, and to be confident that when difficulty arises we just may know what to do.  And somehow that seems to be just enough.

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When Couples Learn to Communicate

As a couples specialist I am sometimes humbled by the changes I see people make to improve their relationships.  It’s not that I don’t believe it can happen; it’s just that more often than not couples stay locked in their differences and expect the other person in the relationship to make the changes.

I spend a lot of time listening to how wounded people are because of what the other person has done to them.  I know it’s important for people to be heard because often they have exhausted themselves trying to tell their partner what is wrong and they just can’t get understanding.  I do know that listening to each person tell me about their perceived pain caused by the other has value, at least someone is listening.

But sometimes couples, or individuals in a relationship, can stay so wounded they see their mate as the one who causes their suffering.  They are so hurt from past injuries that they can not see anything but the harm caused to them.

When one or both people in the relationship stay bound up in their pain there is little I can do but listen.  I can not help someone get awareness on how they treat their partner if they are still living in the mistreatment they believe they have suffered.  Sometimes they are just so hurt they just see their mate as a monster.

It doesn’t matter how I encourage the couple to look at the possibilities of living happily with their chosen partner.  It does little good to talk about the ingredients that make up a good relationship.  If one or both people are suffering from unresolved wounds the couple can not move into a more neutral space.  And yet sometimes, that’s exactly what happens.

Twice in the last two weeks, two couples I had been working with, that had deep difficulties and lots of pain, moved the relationship to the next level.  I could sense it the moment they walked into the room.  There was a decrease in stress and worry and sadness.  I felt something else; a calm, an ease, tenderness.

So what happened?  In both cases one or both changed how they treated the other. In one of the couples one of the partners was mad about past hurts and kept accusing the partner of repeating the behavior.  Then in an instant after a disagreement this partner got some awareness about how they displayed harshness toward the other.  They immediately called the partner and apologized, and that was a first.  Both felt something new; a bit of closeness that they had been craving for years.

The other couple described an incident that they navigated without blowing up at each other.  In the past this issue would have ended with arguing and swearing and disconnection.  This time they walked delicately through the rough parts and stayed away from blaming the other.  Both worried about hurting the others’ feelings.  And that was a first for this couple too.

In both cases I was amazed and humbled by the beautiful changes I was able to witness.  Are all their problems solved? Of course not.  But what they discovered together is a new way of feeling, and those feelings felt good.  The human spirit wants to feel good.  Sometimes we just have to try something new to create something better.  Trust that you can find your way.  I know I do.

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Can a Couple Recover From Infidelity?

I was counseling a couple recently and as the session was coming to a close I was asked point blank, “How many couples come to see you with infidelity?” I had to stop for a moment and think, “About 30% of the couples I treat work with infidelity issues,” I answered.

Then I thought: That’s what I see, but I bet most couples probably don’t even make it as far as the counseling room. Where cheating is involved, many couples likely break up after the affair is revealed.

I am thinking of tales from history — people I used to know before becoming a counselor, and just stories of friends and acquaintances who have had a cheating mate. Most quit. Most say adios. Most don’t even think about ending the relationship they just throw the cheating mate out. Just stop the pain of the betrayal and quit.

I might do the same, I don’t know. I don’t make any judgments about how people react because all of us are different and come with all kinds of experiences that influence how we might respond.

Some people could never recover from this kind of break.  Others who come in for counseling find ways to deal with it.  It’s hard, but it’s possible to wade through the issues that led up to the betrayal in the first place, because that’s what’s needed.

No one starts a serious relationship they care about planning to cheat. Having a relationship outside the marriage happens when two people are not connected in a deep way anymore.

The cheating, or betrayal, didn’t just happen; it started way before there was even a thought of acting. It’s during those times when a couple is probably taking each other for granted, and they are just not conscious of how each other is feeling. That’s when distance can set in.

It’s not uncommon for couples to be blindsided by their partner’s betrayal. But after looking at what preceded the cheating, people get understanding of how they might have been inattentive to their mate.

Now that’s not an excuse for finding another outside the relationship, but it helps to understand what led up to it.

For couples to rebuild and heal, though, there has to be some heavy lifting. It takes a lot for a couple to come into a counseling room after a severe break like this. The story of how the infidelity came to light get’s told again and the person who did the cheating feels humiliated and guilty. It takes courage to tell a complete stranger about a shameful act.

Sometimes spouses will read a phone text, or call a suspected phone number. Others will confront the person who had an affair with their mate. There is sometimes so much anger that it just gets sprayed in all directions. Sometimes it’s easier to dislike the other woman or man than to get mad at the person you love. You may feel intense hate toward your partner for what they did to you, but you still love them.

Maybe there is great remorse from your mate and you feel hopeful, but that feeling of being lied to and betrayed starts creeping in and you start seeing your partner with another and then you start wondering if he or she really loves you at all because if they did then HOW COULD THEY BE WITH ANOTHER!

The feelings are so complex. It’s really hard to know whether a couple can make it through the pain. Can the wounded one forgive? Can the pained one learn to trust again without getting a phone call or text twenty times a day? Can the one who cheated stop from feeling like the worst person on earth for hurting the one person who loves them? Can both learn a new way to communicate their feelings honestly even when those feelings are sad and mad ones?

For couples to move forward there has to be awareness — awareness of where each person was before the breach. There has to be healing and maybe amends so the wounded one can feel better. There has to be the beginning of true connection and understanding.

It takes a shift; it takes falling off a cliff again without a guarantee. It takes faith, and hope, and sometimes, sometimes it works.

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He Won’t Talk To Me; She Won’t Stop Talking To Me. When Couples Can’t Communicate.

I was talking to a friend the other day and she was telling me about her husband and how he doesn’t really communicate with her.  She says she has resigned herself to just telling him what she thinks because she says she has just grown tired of asking him to talk about difficult subjects and watching him stay mute and not say anything.  It’s not a great scenario, but for the moment it works, somewhat.  I believe this is a problem that many couples live with.

Understanding the Problem

As a couples specialist I like to look at what each person wants and needs in a relationship in order for me to understand what they are not getting and why it has become so difficult to communicate.  The first thing I like to help couples understand is that both people want something from the other.  It usually includes some mixture of the following: feeling valued, appreciated, and understood.

It doesn’t matter if you are the female, or the male or a couple of same sex.  This is the core of what every person in a relationship wants to feel with their partner; valued, appreciated and understood.

Does Gender Play a Role?

I believe it does.  I think as individuals we are made up of a lot of parts. Sometimes these traits can be in both sexes but generally speaking in my experience this is the breakdown.

As females most of us feel energized when we are able to talk to others about things important to us. We get ideas about solving issues and we feel heard and supported.  It’s absolutely the best thing we can do for ourselves when we are having difficulty with a problem and need to find a solution.  We talk to others.  This is not only helpful, it’s enriching to us.

Men have wonderful skills to understand problems and issues and most of them do this inside their heads.  They explode with ideas and new thoughts and problem solve faster than you can say “fix it.”  This is a natural fit for most men.  That’s why when most men see women crying the first thing they want to do is fix her.  This is in their nature, to solve your difficulties.  But ask them to mull something over, or discuss the nuances of a dilemma and you might likely find them freezing up and disengaging.  That’s just easier and more comfortable.

How to Get Unstuck

So let’s say you and your partner find yourselves in this situation.  You are the talker and he is the silent one, or vice versa.  You have both staked out your positions and each of you is waiting for the other to do something.  This is a standoff, where a lot of couples live.  Someone has to make a move to become unstuck.  Maybe you can agree on one thing, like you both just want to feel better.  If each of you takes just one step toward helping the relationship there’s hope.

What to Do

Develop awareness that you are different than your mate.  Investigate what your partner needs to feel understood.  Why not just ask them?  You may discover that they appreciate it when you do something particular.  This is how we attune to our mate and give them what makes them feel good.  Beyond anything else this is the key to a good relationship.  Knowing what makes your partner happy.  If both of you know this and you provide it to the other you will live a happy life.  And that’s what all couples want.

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