Susan Valentine, M.A., M.Ed, is a Registered Psychotherapist in Toronto who specializes in and writes about relationship issues. Learn more at: susanvalentine.ca
Your partner is already feeling negative, and then what happens? You douse the flames with more fuel.
Ooh, couples, what is it that really breaks our heart? A lack of joy. It doesn't matter if we're embroiled in anger and blame, or frozen out by cold and distant withdrawal. Couples in crisis are not experiencing joy, either individually or together.
03/17/2017 04:48 EDT
As a therapist, I help people to recognize their patterns of defense, their habitual ways of responding: their default mode. We all developed ways of adapting and protecting ourselves in our early years when our brains and nervous systems were developing. These ways of coping can become hard-wired.
12/21/2016 07:27 EST
When we feel stuck, our usual tactics -- giving ourselves more time, assessing pros and cons, soliciting our friends for advice -- don't really help, and in fact, can escalate our anxiety.
11/11/2015 05:30 EST
You and your partner get into a spectacular fight. And let us guess... it's his fault. Or hers. Definitely not yours. It's never really our fault. Even if we apologize, we may still think our partner provoked us to act that way. If only he listened better. If only she stayed out of it. As couples therapists we see this often.
10/13/2015 05:18 EDT
As parents and caregivers, how can we best help our children shape their sense of self? Trust. Through trusting them, demonstrating trustworthiness, and instilling a sense of trust. The more we trust our children, and are open to listening to their feelings and experiences, the more they learn to trust their own internal state.
05/14/2015 06:03 EDT
We rely on the expression around the eyes with our partners to connect. It tells us if they are feeling safe or happy or worried or threatened. Without this cue we don't know how to respond. We see this in children with autism who have flat muscle tone around the eyes; not only are we unable to understand their social engagement cues, but they are not able to understand ours either.
07/18/2014 12:37 EDT
Want to really rev up your relationship? Even your life? Step it up for our one-week relationship challenge. We challenge you to embrace your relationship as the most important thing in your life. The most interesting thing is that if you and your partner meet this challenge, you'll find your own needs met in a way that doesn't happen when you're both optimizing for yourselves.
02/13/2014 12:16 EST
Divorce is ranked above going to jail or losing a family member as the second most stressful life event you can face. In fact, the death of a spouse or child are the only events considered more stressful. And yet, this doesn't even take into account what divorce is like for those who are separating from someone with a high-conflict personality.
01/29/2014 12:33 EST
We put our team therapy approach into action -- three of us working with one client at the same time. Over time we've come to understand why men seem to prefer this team approach to therapy. Not only can we help navigate rough emotional terrain, and get to the root cause, but we can help translate and teach them the emotional language of their spouse.
01/10/2014 07:44 EST
You need to see that your partner has suffered too, not from your anger, but from the weight of his or her own actions. If you believe your partner deeply regrets his actions, knows he was wrong, and even feels he violated his own personal standards, you will feel more trusting and open to forgiveness.
12/17/2013 17:36 EST
Sure, you may still end up fighting, but it won't be nearly as acute. And haven't you noticed how much easier everything seems when you and your loved one are close? How life feels better? Deadlines seem less daunting, children seem less demanding, and other stressors become more manageable.
12/05/2013 05:30 EST
With our couple, Robyn feels insecure about their connectedness. She wants to feel close. So when he comes home late, she turns that into, "I'm not important. He doesn't care." She feels hurt or abandoned, and that's why she gets upset. On the other hand, Blair needs validation. His sense of identity and confidence are important.
11/05/2013 12:25 EST
This may be one of the greatest conundrums a couple can face. How to have a stable and secure relationship, and keep the passion alive? How to become a family (with or without children) and yet remain lovers? We have gathered research, clues, and client feedback for some practical ways to stay hot and heavy.
10/22/2013 12:17 EDT
Yep, you can marry the wrong person. There are countless ways and reasons to restore your marriage, but sometimes the problem goes beyond trust, or communication, or intimacy. Usually in these cases, the question being asked is not, "How do I fix my relationship?" Instead it's, "Should I stay or should I leave?"
10/08/2013 08:04 EDT
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