As promised, I am going to give you guys the scoop on some of the activities we did while in couples therapy. Obviously, communication was a big part of our problem. Although we talked often, we weren’t communicating effectively. Man we received soooo many tools. This part of therapy was awesome. These are skills I will keep for the rest of my life. I dont remember the order of the activities of when we completed them, but they were all useful. Lets divulge.
We had been together so long that things just became complacent. We were well into year 5. We were basically just doing the every day things to go through life. One of the first activities we did while looking at each other, we had to list reasons why we loved the other. I know I know. It sounds cliche. But you would be surprised how much time you can let pass by without telling your partner specific reasons why you love them. This was hard for me because I was in a state of Eff him Lol. But it can really soften your heart. When is the last time you said to your partner, “I love ___ about you.”
We were challenged to be intentional about dating. Prior to this task, we were in the habit of hanging with friends, or just hanging at home. We barely left the house to hang out with each other. Maybe once every 3 weeks. We started being intentional with date night again. Thursday night movie nights were our thing for new releases. We started to have so much fun by including things like bowling to bike rides to jazz clubs. This is how we built the friendship again.
We had to practice being intentional about our words. Sure its easy to say, I appreciate you. But it means so much more when you say I appreciate that you cooked dinner tonight. Thank you for ironing my clothes. Even just saying Im sorry. Sure its easy to say, Im sorry. But it means so much more when you say, Im sorry for yelling at you. Im sorry I wasnt listening. I apologize for not calling those people when I told you I would. Man this part is so humbling. Its so next level. You are forced to put your pride to the side.
Speaking of apologies. Did you know that people receive apologies different ways? There are apology languages just like there are love languages. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/apology-quiz/ Heres the website. My apology language is to accept responsibility. Yes and that was spot on for me. You have to admit that you were wrong for me to accept your apology. The other ones are 1. Requesting forgiveness 2. Genuinely repent 3. Expressing reget and 4. Make restitution.
The Five Love Languages is always paramount. My love language is acts of service. I think my mom created this in me. My mom used to help me with everything. Even in adulthood, my mom would cook for me and help me pack. When people help me out, it means the world to me. Take that quiz also. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/
We were challenged to serve each other. Who can out give each other? This was so good. It changed my mindset into working with a partner. This isnt about gifts at all. Its about being a helper to your partner. We started to love doing things for one another. It didnt feel like one person was doing more than the other. It felt equal. It was small things like getting my charger when my phone was dying or me getting up to get him a bottle of water. This was such a raw expression of love.
Lastly my all time favorite. The Four Horsemen from the Gottman Institute. Dr John Gottman is like the godfather to relationships. The Four Horsemen is an approach to identifying conflict in relationship. These are the 4 things you need to identify like right now in order for your relationship to survive. They are 1. Criticism 2. Contempt 3. Defensiveness 4. Stonewalling. The last one was big for me. It means shutting down and withdrawing. I did this all the time and it was causing a major tiff between us. I had to work through which was not easy. I had to allow my partner to call me out when I would resort to this behavior. That was difficult too. Here is the link. https://www.gottman.com/blog/category/column/the-four-horsemen/
I hope these tools have been helpful. Put them in your toolbox and pull them out when you need them! Comment below and tell me what you think.
I came across this video posted by comedian David Arnold on Instagram. He told a story about how he ended up in couples counseling over an argument about oatmeal! I laughed so hard because that is seriously how it happens sometimes. The last straw may seem so petty!
I ended up in couples counseling over toilet paper! No lie. The toilet paper was the argument that broke the camels back. Let me paint the picture. We were watching a movie and he went to the bathroom. He went to grab the toilet paper but was annoyed that I accidentally bought paper towels instead of toilet paper. Oh Baby! He was sooo mad. He wanted me to leave the house at 8 at night in the winter to get him some toilet paper pronto. Nah fam. I wasnt doing that. You all know that its gets pitch black dark at 3p in the winter. Besides, we were watching a movie. So I suggested that he go downstairs to the lobby and use the restroom. Nope, homeboy wasnt having it. So we ended up arguing because I wouldn’t go to the store and he wouldn’t go downstairs. Needless to say, the night was ruined. And that, ladies and gentlemen had us in front of a therapist.
I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into when we went to therapy. Therapy was his idea actually. Im a social worker so I was totally in agreement with going. But chilleee someone should have told me to buckle up for that ride. I literally had no idea that our relationship was in such turmoil. Hanging on by a thread. Im pretty sure I cried at every darn session for months. I thought we would go, talk about feelings, chat it up. Nah son. Sis had us pulling back layers and layers. Hurtful things were said. But a lot of healing was done.
You have to be emotionally prepared for this. I was not. Its a safe space for both partners to express how they feel. Ask yourself some questions before going. Give yourself a pep talk that you will be receptive to what your partner says even though it may cut deep. And most importantly, you have to commit to doing the work. In the future, Ill talk about some exercises we did. Keep tuning in.
I’ve had my share of tough break ups. But as I get older, things arent as black and white as they used to be. When I was younger, I could walk away from a relationship and not even think about looking back. My cut-off game was REAL. Now, things arent that easy. My friends and I have had countless of conversations about when should you be patient and when should you let go.
We talk to each other about weighing the pros and cons. Finding compatible people seems to be extremely difficult these days. Yeah, you could go on countless of dates but that gets old. And fast. In my time of singleness, I started to get annoyed sitting on the other side of a table with a guy and Im thinking WTF is he even talking about. Or what is he looking at because his eye contact is horrible. BORING.
That brings me back so our discussion of how do you make the decision of being patient with someone verses just letting them go. One of my friends has a really good connection with a guy. The conversation is awesome. It flows freely. The connection is there. Boom. The drive to push each other is there. Jackpot. They have fun and can share intimate details. That’s also a win. So what’s the problem?! BABY! These men have commitment issues. You can check all the boxes and still find that something is missing. So should she walk away or stick around and be patient for him to get it together? Walking away may be easy for you to say unless your heart is involved.
Here is my take. I don’t have all of the answers but I know for sure my peace means the world to me. If you are disrupting my peace, then I cannot wait. Losing sleep, feeling unsure of myself and all the rest that goes with that AHT AHT. Gotta go.
Also I have to step back and assess the internal work you are doing. I ask myself, what am I waiting for you to do? Where is the goal mark and what does it look like? Is that something I want to wait for you to do? Or are you just stringing me along with no real end goal? After asking and answering these questions, things become more clear.
Regardless, you can talk to your friends to get their opinions until you are blue in the face. But let me tell you, when you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough. Your heart will scream, its time to go.
I know I will probably step on some toes with this one. Let me first just say that this is not a post to man bash. Just follow me.
I know I don’t have children but I am always planning ahead, thinking about the future. I like to have thought provoking conversations often. I had a conversation with a guy I was dating. He already had a child. I always found it interesting that men insist on the child having the fathers last name, although he never married the child’s mother.
Anywho, back to his guy. We had a hypothetical conversation one day about us having a child and the child automatically receiving his last name. See, I am kind of opposed to that. Most times, the child lives primarily with the mother if the relationship doesn’t work. The mother is the one going to Drs appts, making and receiving calls, going to the school and is the emergency contact. I don’t know how other mom’s feel, but I don’t want to have 2-3 kids in my house with all different last names. Maybe it doesn’t bother some people. But if the relationship doesn’t work out, and I decide to have children with someone else, then the new guy also feels entitled for my child to have his last name. No sir. This is too complicated for me. So it’s ok for the guy to have all his children having the same last name even if he isn’t the primary parent? It’s actually a conversation that I have with men who I am serious about. I set the standard and let them know that if you want your child to have the same last name as you, then you very well better make sure his/her mother carries that same last name. So it’s on you… partna.
Ooo I’m shaking the table. Leave your comments below 😉