Why Fighting is Good in Your Marriage.


Couple's aren't supposed to fight, right? Fighting is a sign that something bad is happening in your marriage, right? Couples who fight are headed for divorce, right? I've heard all these questions before. And the short answer to all of them is 'no'. Here's why:

First of all, as humans we have the most advanced brain on the planet. Along with that comes all sorts of advanced emotions. We can't be expected to only show happiness all the time. There are times when we want to be mad. And there are times we should be mad. Like if he arrives late for an important event. Or when she goes out with her friends again even though you can't afford it. Only showing certain emotions restricts ourselves and forces to be someone that we're not.

How You Make Up Is More Important Than How Much You Fight

Secondly,  research shows that it's not necessarily how much or how severely a couple fights that breaks relationships. What's more important is how the couple makes up. I don't mean sex or flowers or anything like that. What I mean is how the couple makes up after the fight and more importantly if  they makeup when they fight. 

After a fight, a lot of couples will just move on and try not to talk about it again. Neither one offers an apology, and neither one tries to make restitution. They just simply move on. This doesn't heal the argument and all it really does is just postpone the current fight for some future time. Then when the fight happens in the future it occurs with all the intensity as the first time plus some added resentment from being unhealed for so long. 

Arguing Creates Opportunities to Make Amends

Lastly, arguing is a form of communicating and couples need to communicate. When couples argue they see 'the real deal'...nothing held back. This is a form of pure communication. While it may not be the most helpful way to communicate, it does help each spouse to see exactly what the other is really feeling. This is really good for the relationship because it gives each spouse an opportunity to reach out to the other one in difficult times and try to make amends or restitution. And when this happens it creates REALLY good relationships. 

So even though fighting is unpleasant and nobody likes to do it, it gives couples opportunities to air things out and talk about things that are really bothering them. This is healthy in a relationship. And once a couple airs things out and takes steps to fix whatever was bothering them, then they can be on a path to a deeper and more intimate relationship. And it was all because of a fight.

Red Flags You Shouldn't Ignore in Your Marriage


All couples fight. Even those in the so-called good relationships. And most of the time, your fights don't really harm the relationship. One of you ends up saying sorry, you make up and your life goes on. When this happens, a lot of couples just ignore the things they were fighting about. There's not really a good resolution to it so you just move on.

A lot of the time, moving on without resolving doesn't do any harm to your relationship. Like I said before, for a lot of fights, there really isn't a good resolution so you just apologize and move on. But sometimes the things you're ignoring in your relationship shouldn't be ignored. They're actually bigger signs of deeper problems. And ignoring them just makes them get worse and causes a deeper divide in your relationship. Here are some of the most common red flags in your relationship that you shouldn't ignore:

Red Flags in Your Marriage You Shouldn't Ignore

1) No Sex For a Long Time.  Sex is an important part of your relationship. It brings a unique passion and romance into your relationship that can't be replaced in any other way. As such, it's what separates you from being roommates and makes you and your partner lovers. So if sex isn't happening in your relationship, you can't just ignore it. When sex isn't happening, it's a sign that there's something deeper going on that's keeping you two from connecting passionately and intimately.

Solution: Talk with your partner about your sexual relationship. Tell them you've noticed it hasn't happened in a while and that you'd like it to change. Try to get their input about why the think it fizzled and talk together about how to re-ignite your relationship.

2)  The Same Arguments Over and Over Again. When couples argue, they're usually able to drop it after a while. They eventually kiss and make up and don't bring it up again. But if you and your partner end up fighting about the same things over and over again without any resolution, that's a big red flag that you can't ignore. Arguments need resolutions in order for you and your partner to feel healed afterwards. And if this isn't happening there isn't any healing. And it's just causing more problems.

Solution: If the same old argument is causing you too much heartache, just learn to let it go. Is it really worth damaging your relationship over and over again? Most people would say no. But if it really is a big deal to you, and you can't just let it go without feeling violated or bulldozed it's time to see a counselor to see if they can help you finally come up with a resolution.

3) Very Little Talking. Communication is key in any relationship. And I don't just mean about the day-to-day stuff. Couples should be talking about how their day went, what goals they're trying to accomplish, what they think about events that are happening around them, etc. If you and your spouse aren't talking much that's a big red flag that you're not connecting and that there's something wrong in your relationship.

Solution: Ask your spouse about more than just how their day went. Ask them about if they heard the news today and what they thought. Tell them what you thought about the news, etc. Try to tune into them and know what happened at work, then followup tomorrow to see if it got any better. As you start paying more attention to your partner, they'll start paying more attention to you and talking will become a lot easier.

Some Red Flags are Hard to See

Just because your relationship may not be volatile doesn't mean your relationship is doing okay. As you can see from this short list, some red flags are pretty covert. But these three red flags are some of the most common ones most couples experience. If you start seeing any of these red flags, be sure to address them sooner rather than later in your relationship. You can read books, checkout informative websites (like the one you're reading now - there's a searchbar on here for a reason afterall :)) or ultimately you can go to a counselor. 

Remember that these red flags don't mean your relationship is doomed. They're simply signs of more important things. And when you address them, your relationship will be in better shape and you and your partner can move on to even happier times. 

Sex: 10 Fun Health Facts


Everyone enjoys a good time in the bedroom. But did you know that all of that moaning and panting is doing you more good than just an orgasm at the end? It's true. There are  plenty of health benefits that you get from good sex.  Checkout these ten fun health facts about sex.

10 health benefits of sex

1) Burns Calories. Research shows that  in a typical 25 minutes sexual encounter, men will burn 100 calories and women will burn 69. Don't ask me why there's a difference. But If you want more health benefits try to make it last even longer and burn more calories!

2) Promotes Longer life. Yup, it's true. Men and women who have a satisfying sex life live longer than couples who don't. So 

3)  Gets Rid of Headaches. Women with migraines reported having headache relief after experiencing orgasm. So next time you don't want to have sex because you have a headache, think of sex more like the remedy for the headache instead of the deterrent. 

4) Can be As Good For You as Jogging. If you really want to burn more calories (and have more fun in the mean time) try making sex last for an hour. It burns as many calories as a 30 minute jog. 

5) You Sleep Better. 1 in 6 women reported sleeping better after having sex. And this has many more implications than just a good night rest. Sleep helps you feel recharged for the next day, help decrease anxiety and even relieves feelings of depression. 

6) Decreases Your Risk for Cardiovascular Disease. Yes, sex increases your heart rate but it also decreases your risk for cardio vascular disease and other  heart problems. Research showed that men who had sex at least twice a week were half as likely to develop certain live threatening heart conditions. 

7) You Look Younger. Not only do you feel brighter and and have a little extra pep in your step after some good sex, but research shows that you actually look younger, too. A panel of judges guess the ages of people and found that people who were having sex 4 or more times a week with a regular partner, were guessed to be at least 7-12 years younger than they really were. So save your money on facial creams and get in on more instead. It's funner, and less expensive. 

8) Helps You Handle Stress. People who had sex at least once over the last two weeks were shown to be able to handle stressful situations better. So if you have a big presentation coming up or need some extra gusto while you're getting something ready for the boss, make sure to keep your bedroom rockin' to help you through. 

9) Sex Counts as Moderate Exercise. Everybody knows you should workout often to stay in optimal health. But did you know that sex counts as moderate exercise? It's true. The average sexual encounter has been shown to burn about five calories a minute. So if you miss a day or two of your regular exercise, try making up for it in the bedroom instead. 

10) More Sex Promotes a Stronger Immune System. Research shows that the more sex you have, the more your body produces a specific antibody called immunoglobin which helps your immune system fight off illnesses. Individuals who had sex once or twice a week had up 30% more immunoglobin. 

For mun fun health facts about sex. Checkout the infographic from invoke.ie below. It gives you even more fun reasons to have good sex. 

Infographic Courtesy of Evoke.ie

Is It Cold Feet? Or Should I Stop The Wedding?


Dear Aaron and Rachel, 

I’ve always heard that cold feet are normal before a wedding but I hope this isn’t what it feels like. I’m really freaking out. I’ve been together with my fiancé for about two years.  We’re supposed to be getting married next month but I’m really freaking out because I don’t know if I want to go through with it. 

He’s a nice guy and he really cares about me which is great because I’ve always been attracted to either the bad boys who I have to bail out of jail or the freeloaders who are behind on rent and make me pay for everything. My fiancé really has it all together compared to a lot of other guys I’ve dated. That’s actually what made me so attracted to him in the first place. But even though that’s what attracted me to him, now I’m worried that my life will be dull and boring with him. I want a life of excitement and spontaneity – which isn’t his strong suit. Even our sex is getting pretty boring already.  

Am I doomed for a life of boring if I stay with him? Or should I cancel the wedding before it’s too late? 

Thank you, 

Runaway Bride

She Said 

Dear Runaway Bride,

Having cold feet is normal! It seems likely that you would have some doubts about your fiancé because he is, in a large sense, so out of your comfort zone. You are craving the familiar and thinking the grass may be greener. You may not be bored with a bad boy, but would you be happy?

That being said, the decision of who to marry is not one to be taken lightly. You should do some serious thought as to whether or not you can be happy with your current man for the long term. If you have some serious doubts, you can either try to work on them, put off the wedding, or cancel it all together.

I suggest you work on them. Why throw in the towel already just because things have gotten a little stale? Relationships are what you make of them. If you want exciting adventure and better sex, start initiating it. Your fiancé may follow your lead and even surprise you. Good luck!

He Said 

Dear Runaway Bride,

Yup, cold feet is absolutely normal. Cold feet can cause you re-think decisions that you've already made and question whether they really are good decisions. Unfortunately, only you can decide whether this is just cold feet or whether the things you've mentioned are really cause for calling off the wedding. Let me give you something to think about to help you decide:

In the description you gave, it's curious to me what makes you look back to your relationships with the bad boys. Especially since apparently none of them ever worked out. It seems like you're looking back to the relationships with the bad boys to decide what you want your future to be like with your fiance'. If you want your fiance to be more like a bad boy, will that relationship really work - especially since none of the past ones did? If you want a safe and solid relationship, however, you won't find that with a bad boy. In this situation, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. You just need to decide what you really want and follow through with it.

No marriage is perfect and they all take work. In this case, if you decide to stay you'll need to plan to work on bringing more spontaneity and excitement into the relationship. If you decide to break it off to find someone whose more spontaneous, you'll need to plan to work on bringing more stability and safety into the relationship. But remember that it's your decision to make. You get to write the next chapter in your life. And it starts with a deliberate decision now. Good luck!

About Rachel:  Rachel Russo is a Dating, Relationship, & Image Coach who works with marriage-minded singles and couples in NYC and throughout the US. Checkout her website at RachelRusso.com

About Aaron: Aaron Anderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado and writer for various websites on marriage and relationships.

My Teen Refuses To Go To Therapy!


Dear Amanda,

I am a mom to a smart, ambitious, athletic teen who has just not been himself lately. He is moody, anxious, and withdrawn. I would like to schedule an appointment for him to see a counselor but he has made it clear that he’s not interested. Do I make him go? What happens if I can get him there but he’s angry to be there? I will do anything to get my son help but how do I get him there if he refuses? Help!

~ Worried Mom

Dear Worried Mom,

You concerns are very common. I often talk to parents that are torn about scheduling an appointment and “making” their reluctant child or teenager come to counseling. An important thing to remember is that you cannot “make” him go to counseling. Yes, maybe you can get him through the door but what happens next is up to him. What and if he chooses to share about himself and his challenges is in his control. A good therapist realizes this and will be working with your family to make therapy as helpful as possible for everyone.

It is not uncommon for me to meet with a family that includes a reluctant teen who is angry at being brought to counseling. Sometimes, one of the first questions that I ask is how everyone is feeling to be there. Having it addressed openly from the beginning can help your teen feel heard and validated, making it possible to move on to important areas of concern. Also, as part of my intake process, I meet with the family together, and then individually. This allows everyone a space to share their concerns and goals. Often, after meeting separately, a teen can return to a family session more willing to share and participate. Some other tips to make counseling a more helpful option for your teen are:

Tips To Help Your Teen Go To Therapy

1. Talk with your teen. Recognize it’s possible that his reluctance can stem from many different fears and anxieties. Listening to your child and helping him to feel that his concerns are heard and validated will go a long way in gaining his confidence. Let him know that it’s ok to be nervous or anxious about sharing personal information with someone they will be meeting with the first time. That’s normal and most people feel that way!

2. Compromise. Older children and teenagers might be willing to try something out if they know they do not have to commit long-term. If this is ok with you as the parent, try to compromise with them and ask them to attend a certain number of sessions. Would he be open to trying it for 3 weeks? 4? This will allow a professional to complete an evaluation and assessment, providing you additional perspective on concerns you should focus on versus age appropriate behaviors. After a few sessions, your child might be more willing to attend. And if not, you now have a greater understanding of your child, more resources to utilize, and more tools to make things better for your family at home.

3. Involve your teen in the process. Finding a therapist that is a good fit is very important to the success of counseling. If you would like your teen to also work individually with the therapist, it is important that he also feels like it is a good fit. Include your child as much as possible in the process and invite them to the consultation with you. Meeting the therapist and seeing the office space will help him to feel more comfortable returning. Encourage your teen to ask questions and get to know the therapist too.

If It's an Emergency, Don't Wait

Overall, if you are ever concerned about your child’s safety and well-being I encourage you to seek help from a professional immediately. A professional can help you to determine the immediate need for counseling or other referrals. Good luck Worried Mom – It is clear you want the best for your son and you have taken the important first step in reaching out for support!

Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a marriage and family counselor and clinician for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life

10 Fun Summer Date Ideas


Everyone knows that date night is important for you and your loved one. It's one of the best ways to keep your love alive and keep your relationship out of lulls. And with all the stress from work and parenthood it's a great way to connect as lovers and not just as roommates or parents. But even though everyone knows date night is important, not many couples routinely do a date night. In fact, as a marriage counselor,  it's one of the most common things I hear couples that couples don't do. 

One of the most common reasons couples don't do a date night isn't what you'd think. It's not because couples don't have time (most couples would gladly turn off the TV to go out and do something fun together) or because it costs too much (even though most couples wish they had more money, most couples are more than happy just going to a park or doing something else that doesn't cost any money). The most common reasons couples don't do a date is because of a lack of planning. They just don't put the effort into it to plan it out. 

But couples don't have to go to great lengths to plan out a date night. Like I said before, most couples are happy just to go to for a walk together. And summer is a great time to go on dates that are cheap, simple and don't require a lot of planning. Below are ten great date ideas for you and your loved one this summer. 

Ten Fun Summer Date Ideas

1) Lookout Point. Remember when you were teenagers and you'd just go and park at a lookout point? That's not just for teenagers. Sure, you might feel a little silly when you're parked by the rest of the teenagers but who cares? You'll never see them again anyway and you don't have to worry about getting caught or staying out past curfew like they do, so the joke's on them. 

2) Picnic at a Park. Summer weather is great. So take advantage of it and go out for a picnic. This takes a lot less planning than you'd think pick up a package of strawberries, chips and a couple of sandwiches from the deli at your grocery store and voila! You're all set. Meet your lover for lunch or pick them up for a surprise picnic. 

3) Star Gazing in the Back Yard. When was the last time you just star gazed? Take a blanket to throw down on the grass, look up at the stars and let your conversations drift along with the night sky. Make it funner by download an app like Google Sky and you can see all the constellations and planets, too. 

4) Wine and Crackers at Sunset. With summer comes later nights. Depending where you are in your time zone, your sunset might not even happen until 8:30 or 9:00pm. Having some wine and crackers as you watch the sunset is a great after dinner activity for you and your lover. If you have kids, they're already in bed, too so no need to find a babysitter. 

5)  Reading A Book Together. I know what you're thinking: reading a book together is lame. Usually, one person reads faster than the other or one of you wants to skip ahead. But reading a book together can be a lot of fun. Go outside, lay down on the grass or lean against a tree and read a short story to each other. The point isn't to finish the book but to be together. And there's nothing more relaxing than hearing the wind blow and smelling the grass while you do. 

6) Rerun Marathon. All the good shows are showing their re-runs over the summer. Most broadcasting stations have a list of shows for the last month that you can watch again. And if you're too late, you can always go to Netflix or Amazon to find last season's episodes. 

7) Drive-in Movie. Yes, they still exist. Just google your city name with 'drive-in' movie at the end and you'll see one. The best part is, drive-ins don't start until dusk so these are a great for last minute dates. Just grab a late dinner (or bring one with you via drive-thru) and catch a movie under the stars. 

8) County Fairs. Even though county fair season isn't quite here yet, there are still lost of town festivals and fairs going on. Go on to your city's website and look on their calendar to see what festivals are coming up. Also you can look up neighboring city's websites to see when their festivals are. 

9) Catch a Concert at the Park. Summertime is great for the music industry. A lot of parks, malls and even coffee shops will have bands come to play to attract more customers. Lookup your local city park's calendar or the nearest mall;s calendar and see if they have any concerts coming. Most of these are free and will last all night. Don't worry if the band stinks, at least it'll give you something to talk about. 

10)  Go for a Bike Ride. When's the last time you took those bikes in your garage out for a spin? Going on a bike ride doesn't mean you have to make an exercise out of it. Go slow and talk along the way. Don't know where to go? No problem! Talking about where to go is half the fun. 

Don't let the dog days of summer get you down. These ten ideas are a great start to fun dates this summer. You can also google 'fun summer date ideas' for a list of many more ideas for you and your loved one. You've heard that youth is wasted on the young, don't let this summer go to waste, either. There are plenty of things to do in the summer to make your relationship rockin'. These date ideas are just a few.

4 Common Mistakes Men Make That are Hurting Your Marriage


Everyone knows that women and men are different. And I don't just mean anatomically. You don't have to look any farther than the commercials on your TV to see what I mean. Commercials on TV are very gender selective. When you watch the Superbowl, for example, you see a lot of beer and car commercials. When you watch daytime soap operas, on the other hand, you see a lot of commercials for smelly lotions and hair products. Marketers know that women and men are different and they try to market to their unique interests.  
Another way that men and women are different are how they behave in relationships. All the textbooks I read in grad school and a lot of my experience in my clinic have shown me that women are more of the nurturers of the relationship while men are more of the 'action oriented' participants. 

Because men and women are different this also means that they contribute their unique problems in the relationship, too. Below are four things that men do that are hurting their marriage.

4 Ways Men are Hurting Their Relationship

1) Relying on Sex to Define the Relationship. Lots of men complain that their wife never wants sex. And lots of men rely a lot on sex to decide whether their relationship is going well or not. The truth is that while sex is a good indicator of how the relationship is going, it's not the only indicator. And men especially put too much stock into sex 

2) Dismissing Their Wife. Men have played leading roles in most of the major events of history. The Declaration of Independence was signed by men, most nations' leaders were/are men, etc. And historically, women have always played more of a "supporting role". As a result, many men (and many women) often expect the men to make the important decisions. And the wife's thoughts or decisions will often get dismissed or not taken seriously. This leaves the wife feeling unimportant and can even lead to feelings of bitterness and resentment. 

3) Using Anger Too Much. When men hang out with other men it's not very often that you hear them use flower "feeling language". It's just not in the boy code. But being mad is in the boy code. Afterall, anger is tough and strong and very manly. So men think that using anger is an appropriate and acceptable form of communicating - even with their wife. Unfortunately, this actually causes more problems. Instead of using anger there are a host of other ways to get a point across and communicate with wives. Listen to your wife and ask her what tone you use that works the best for her. 

4) Not Continuing to Date Their Wife. Let's face it, the dating scene isn't exactly equal. It's always the guy who asks the girl out, it's always the guy who pays for the date, and it's always the girl who is saying yes or not to going out again. So when you finally get married, you think all those stupid dating rules should stop, right? Well, you are right. But that doesn't mean it should stop entirely. Men should still take their wives out on dates and put just as much planning and effort into them as when you were dating. And yes, wives should also plan dates as well. It should be a 50/50 arrangement

Even though men and women are different - beyond just anatomically - that doesn't mean that men and women are doomed to quarrel all the time. And it certainly doesn't mean that your marriage will be plagued with arguments, either. By focusing on the things you can do in your relationship to fix the unique challenges you contribute can help your relationship to flourish and thrive in ways you never knew were possible. And the mistakes you make in the relationship will no longer be mistakes - they'll be replaced with positive behaviors that create more love, affection and a stronger relationship. 

Self-Care – Creating a Better Self for You and Your Family


In all the roles we perform as partners, parents, employees, leaders, and servers, filled with the busy and important tasks of caring for others, it is common for you to overlook the importance of self-care. As a therapist, I have come to expect confusion when I ask “what do you do for yourself?” Yet the busier you become and the more caring for others that you do, the more important self-care becomes.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care means being intentional about taking time for yourself. Self-care includes actions and attitudes that are intentional in improving or restoring health (mental and physical). For a lot of people, activities that focus on yourself can leaves you feeling guilty - especially when you have a family, children, and other obligations. But in reality, self-care helps you to recharge, empowering you to be more intentional in your relationships and creating more meaningful interactions with others. It also helps you in your work by being more attentive and thoughtful. So what does self care look like practically and realistically in our busy day to day lives? Here are three things you can do to exercise self-care and be a better you.

3 Simple Tips to Self-Care:

Schedule It. Make it a priority and schedule self-care like you do your other important events, classes, and obligations. In the middle of your busy days, it can feel overwhelming to try and think of when and how you are going to tackle one more thing - especially when it involves focusing on yourself. Scheduling it not only makes it a priority, but makes it feel more manageable and less overwhelming, which means you’ll be more likely to do it.

Just 10 minutes. People often think about self-care in terms of grand, time-consuming activities and actions that in reality, we just don’t have time for. Switch that thinking to recognize that just 10 minutes can make a huge difference in your attitude and energy. By giving yourself a 10 minute break, or time-out, you can return as an improved version of yourself. By taking this 10 minutes to focus on something for yourself like stepping outside to enjoy the sunshine, or reading a chapter in your favorite book, you empower yourself to return in ways that are more meaningful and intentional.

Pick one Thing a Day. When you think of all of the things you might like to do, self-care can feel overwhelming. Break it down to an area that you’d like to focus on fitting in for just that day. It can also be helpful to remember that self-care does not have to mean trying something new or spending a lot of money. Self-care can include ensuring you prepare (and sit down to eat!) a balanced meal, fit in a few minutes of exercise, and get adequate sleep. Even taking steps to ensure your health such as scheduling counseling appointments and medical appointments are a part of self-care.

Self-Care Isn't Selfish

Self-care is too often talked about in terms of feeling selfish and taking time and energy away from family and other responsibilities. Changing that thinking to regard self-care as an extension of your service to others and essential to your own contentment will help you to make self-care a priority. Start looking at self-care as a way to empower yourself to not only care better for yourself but for your children and family too. For many more awesome self-care ideas check out The Self-Compassion Project.

Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a marriage and family counselor and clinician for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life

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