Is Criticism Wrecking Your Relationship?

Through his research, Dr. John Gottman found that distressed couples tend to use destructive behaviors in their conflict discussions, which leads to conflict escalation. He calls these behaviors the “four horsemen,” after the Biblical four horsemen of the apocalypse. They include criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. In this blog, I’ll … Read More

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 6

pet

From the onset, a stepfamily has several moving parts that a first family doesn’t encounter. For the children in a stepfamily, it is an overwhelming amount of change and can feel destabilizing. Studies have shown that that the most disrupting factor for children is not divorce, but exposure to parental … Read More

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 5

Every family has it’s own unique culture. Family cultures include a set of belief systems that include aspects such as: how to spend money, how to spend time, what acceptable behaviors are and family traditions and rituals. When a stepfamily unites, they face the challenge of merging these cultures (Papernow, … Read More

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 4

divorce

In newly formed stepfamilies, the standard advice that I give to the couple is for the parent to take the lead with discipline. There is a great deal of research supporting this stance. The most helpful role for step parents during the early years of stepfamily formation is to nurture … Read More

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 3

stepfamily

While the step-couple may be experiencing the bliss of their new relationship, children are likely experiencing a myriad of emotions.  When a stepfamily forms, changes often happen too quickly for the children. According to Dr. Patricia Papernow, this presents a common challenge that stepfamilies encounter: Children are dealing with losses, … Read More

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 2

stepfamily

One of the most frequent challenges I see with the step-couples that I work with is that one of them is struggling with feeling like an outsider in their own family. According to Dr. Patricia Papernow (2013), stuck insider/outsider positioning is a core challenge for the stepfamily. And for those … Read More

Strengthening Your Stepfamily: Part 1

stepfamily

In her book, “Surviving and Thriving in Stepfamily Relationships: What Works and What Doesn’t,” Patricia Papernow, EdD, discusses the five common challenges that a stepfamily can face and offers some straightforward guidance to help address them. In my work with stepfamilies and in my own stepfamily experiences, I have witnessed … Read More

Marriage Relationships and Their Healthy Characteristics

pre-marriage

If you’ve been married for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced a few ups and downs in your relationship.  But do you ever wonder about the health of your marriage?  In his book, “The Science of Trust,” Dr. John Gottman discusses that, even though healthy marriages can vary greatly … Read More

Marriage and Kids: How Does That Work?

marriage

Ready for a surprise? Multiple studies have found that most couples experience a decline in marriage satisfaction during the first three years after a baby is born. Now that doesn’t mean that the parents aren’t thrilled about their new little one, it means that the couple’s emotional connectedness, passion and … Read More

Complain, but Don’t Criticize

fight

If you are in a committed relationship, you are occasionally going to complain about your partner. Valid complaints help us grow and become better partners. But how do you complain without it resulting in a fight? The key is to soften how the complaint is voiced. In Dr. John Gottman’s research, … Read More