Wednesday
Oct042017

Just Moved and Feeling Crazy? 10 Tips to Help you Feel Grounded, Happy and Settled after a Relocation.  

Moving is tough. Almost everyone reports feeling physically and emotionally drained after a relocation. In my work with clients I find that even if you wanted this move, planned for this move or sacrificed for your move - it is still very hard on your body, mind and emotions. Why? Because you have just lost most or all of your routines, support networks, communities, friends and sometimes even family. Many people assume that once the the “hard work” of a move is done they will feel settled. This “hard work” includes: packing, saying goodbyes, loading the truck and then unpacking at the new house. What is not taken into account is the work that you are left with after you unpack; you have to rebuild  complicated by the anxiety, grief and stress that comes up with any change - especially a change as big as a move.

If you recently moved you might be feeling out of sorts - perhaps unmoored, tired, tearful or easily angered. The first thing to know is that it takes 1-3 years (yes, years) to settle into a new city or town. Many clients get frustrated that they can’t just “get it together” after a few weeks or months following their move. This can easily cause a spiral into a self defeating inner monologue which makes everything feel worse. 

Here is a list of a few things to do right away to begin to feel grounded in your new home, neighborhood and community. 

 

1. Set up a ritual. 

Go to the same coffee shop each day; get ice cream on Friday evenings; watch your football games at the same place. Whatever you choose, it is important to set a daily and weekly rituals to begin to structure your time. This is important for your family, your marriage and yourself. These don’t have the be routines or rituals that you keep forever. This is just a way to begin to feel held within your day or week. It also allows you to see the same people over and over which is how we build community. 

After we moved, my family and I went to get ice cream every day at 3pm. No, I don’t advocate this as a long-term healthy food choice. However, for us, this was a way to begin to feel like we had a routine during this time where we all felt completely unmoored. We also took our dog to the dog park at the same time each morning where we saw the same people over and over. As they became familiar and we began to feel like we were part of this small community.


2. Tell everyone you just moved.

It may feel awkward to begin every conversation with ‘hi, we just moved here…,” but it is a wonderful conversation opener. People, for the most part, want to help and knowing that you are new to their community allows them an opening to offer help. As I used this opening with folks I discovered that many of the people I met were also transplants (some a year before and some 20 years before) and they wanted to offer advise on settling in or finding resources. They remembered how difficult it was for them.

Once you have told people you just moved this sets you up for Tip #3

 

3. Ask everyone for advise.

If you can be brave enough to let people know that you just moved you will most likely find that people will want to help you. It is a great idea to give them something to help you with. And you do need help - you need a doctor, a barber, a mechanic, a place to hike, a place for brunch and the best place for Thai noodles. You job is to ask for something specific - even if you know you can research, Google and Yelp your way to an answer. Ask them anyway - even if it is the same question you asked the last 10 people.

If there is something that you desperately miss from you old city - ask for that. Miss your poker night? Ask everyone if they play poker or know of a regular poker game. You might just find you get an invitation and suddenly find a wonderful group of friends. 

You may not be able to think of anything that you want to do or find. This is when you need to use your imagination and remember to get specific. Perhaps it is Dim Sum, the best consignment shops or where to find gourmet ice cream. If nothing else this will get people talking, thinking and then offering to get back with you or even inviting to take you somewhere.

I find that the asking for advise is mostly about finding openings to connect with people. Finding friends takes time and you will need to meet 20-30 people before you find someone that you might consider for a friend.

 

4. Go out for walks.

Even if you don’t have a dog - go for walks. Try to go walking at the same time each day so that you begin to see the same people. People who are walking are mostly moving slowly and have a minute to say hello. This is where you use your now familiar opening of “hi, we just moved here” and then throw in a question. 

Walking along your block also gives you an opportunity to catch your neighbors outside so you can introduce yourself. Not all of us live in places where neighbors go out of their way to bring over a pie and introduce themselves. You might need to go out and find your neighbors. When you do meet them I find that many “nosy neighbors” will want to pop into your house if you let them - so invite them in for coffee or simply a “want to see the house?” People are nosy and want to see if you repainted; they want to check out your stuff; and they want to share neighborhood gossip. Remember to ask them for their contact information, permission to contact them with questions and then write down their house number. And thinking about Tip #3 - follow up by emailing them with a question. Again, make it up if you need to. This is about opening conversations not actually finding the best ice cream in the neighborhood.

My father was out walking in our new neighborhood and started a conversation with someone who had kids close to my daughter’s age. He ended up dragging the family over to our house so that their daughter could meet my daughter. This ended up with a party getting organized by this wonderful family for all of her daughter’s friends so they could meet my daughter. This was all initiated by my father going out for a walk, saying hello and asking for help.

 

5. Have kids? Stay at drop off and pick up.

It is so uncomfortable to spend time in a crowd of people who all know each other and are all greeting one another. You can feel so longly as you walk between groups of friends laughing and sharing inside jokes. What you will want to do is flee - for home or your car. But what you need to do is just stay - for 5 or 15 minutes every day. Remember Tip #2 and #3 - approach people and say - “hi, we just moved - do you know a good place to get my car worked on?” But at a minimum just stay.

Just seeing people over and over again begins to build a sense of familiarity and a relationship. When you first move everything is new and unknown and you are new and unknown. As you simply spend time next to the same people - over and over/day-in and day-out (even if you don’t speak to them) - they become familiar. And as familiarity and comfort grows it becomes natural to say hello. And after a few weeks of saying hello, you will find it feels normal to ask them a question, tell them a funny story or commiserate about the news. The people you meet at your kid’s drop off may never become your best friends but you just never know. It is amazing how day-in and day-out greetings can quickly blossom into intimate friendships. Don’t underestimate the power of proximity with friends. Put yourself in their proximity.

 

6. Exercise - join a gym or a class.

First, exercise is a great stress reliever; it is good for your body, your soul and your emotional balance; and it is good for your skin. Secondly, classes or gyms can be great social environments especially if you stay after or arrive before class and ask people questions. Where to get good shoes? Any smoothy places nearby? Or if you are like me and are a bit introverted - just hang around and after a few months of seeing the same faces over and over again, I promise that they will begin to feel familiar. There is a strange phenomenon that happens when you just see the same people over and over - you gain comfort with them and begin to feel like they are friends. You might even feel comfortable asking them for coffee after class. And yes, this process takes weeks or months. You cannot get angry at yourself that after one spin class you don’t have a bestie.

 

7. Put everyone you meet into your address book.

Everyone is exhausted after a move. Just think of all that you just accomplished: packing, saying good-bye to friends, family, jobs and routines, moving and finally unpacking). It is exhausting and a tired brain cannot process new information well. It will be difficult to remember all the new names and faces you will be meeting. You need a way to store this information. I decided to enter every person I met into my address book - along with a short description of their physical appearance, where I met them, their address and the sometimes something obvious like the word “neighbor” if there were on my street. Before my move I would not have needed all these descriptors in my address book; before my move I could have relied on my memory. You can’t expect your brain to keep up with the torrent of information coming at you - outsourcing is a wonderful way to remove the expectation that you will remember anything.

 

8. Be gentle with yourself. 

This is the most important piece of information that I want you to take from this blog. You need to be very gently with yourself right now. Not just for today or for a week - but for a year or three. Gentle means allowing yourself to fall apart when you can’t find the eggs in the grocery store even though you have been there 5 times. Gentle means that it’s OK to have many movie nights at home on the weekends or to purchase season passes to local amusement park because you don’t have any invites yet. Gentle means that it’s OK to cry when your other new neighbor who moved the same week as you has girlfriends to hike with and go on weekend excursions with. Actually, I will amend that to just say it is OK to cry at silly things. Gentle means understanding that you are transforming and changing and that no transition is without pain, mistakes, missteps and feeling like it will never be completed. If you are crying reading this then you are doing it exactly right - you are totally normal. Yay.

 

9. Remember that it takes time to truly feel settled.

It truly takes 3 years to feel settled in a new city or town. Even using all of these tips you will still have a large amount of time where you will feel anxious, depressed or like you have lost your identity. It is normal for the first year to have many at-home nights, or to spend more than budgeting on eating out. Give yourself a break and allow for there to be a year where you don’t do big outgoing events but rather spend time being quieter and focusing on comfort foods and comfort events. Many people look back on this coccooning year as a precious family-building time. One thing that can help is to say to yourself (outloud) “I am exactly where I should be and things are unfolding in the exact right time.”

 

10. It bears repeating - be kind to yourself. And if needed, ask for support from a counselor, therapist or religious leader.

Change is difficult and if you find that you would like some additional support to discuss how this move is affecting you, your family or your marriage please call for a free consultation or to schedule a session in my sunny central Boulder office. I can be reached at 720-551-8084.

- Ashley Seeger, LCSW

Thursday
Sep212017

New to Boulder? Welcome!

Boulder is an amazing and wonderful place to live - with fantastic weather, amazing people, spectacular vistas and incredible places to visit, hike and ski just outside your door. But if you have recently moved here you might be having some trouble feeling the awe and wonder around you. You might be feeling numb, angry or unsettled instead. These are totally normal feelings. Anytime you move there is an adjustment period - even if your new location is amazing. Many clients are also confused by their response to their move because they wanted to move to Colorado; they worked hard to make this move happen. How confusing to then be mired in sad and troubled emotions. 

I believe that it is important to understand a normal reaction to a relocation. Typical responses to the stress of moving include:

 - feeling anxious

- difficulty sleeping

- feeling weepy and tearful

- feeling shut down or numb

- feeling like you have lost your identity

- an increase in fighting with your spouse 

So many clients ask how long will it take until they feel like themselves again. I believe it takes three years to feel fully settled into a new city. I realize that this sounds like a terribly long time to have to endure these feelings which at times feel intolerable. Having recently relocated from Washington, DC to Boulder with my family I have a full understanding of the complexity of moving - how it affects one personally, emotionally, professional and in your relationship.

While therapy cannot speed up this process of settling - it can help you to gain perspective on the emotions and teach you coping skills for the anxiety, depression and fatigue that comes with any big change. If you are interested in talking about how therapy might help you or your relationship after a move, please call for a free consultation. I can be reached at 720-551-8084.

- Ashley Seeger, LCSW

Friday
Jun302017

Help! Moving Has Wrecked My Marriage. Tips From a Couples Counselor on How Your Relationship Can Survive a Move

If you moved recently then you understand how stressful moving can be and perhaps you have seen the toll it can take on your relationship. I have many clients who relocate and report that their marriage suffered. This is confusing because a move is usually planned, sacrificed for, and wanted. So why do couples report an increase in fighting; feelings of sadness, anxiety, numbness, depression or rage; a decrease in sexual or sensual interactions; or even feelings of apathy creeping into their marriage after a move? Did the move ruin their relationship? The answer in no - or perhaps I should say that moving does not have to ruin your partnership. 

 

Moving is stressful. I believe it is one of the more stressful things a couple can experience. This is because change (any change, even a wonderful change) equals stress. Human beings, for the most part, do not like change. At a primal, emotional, gut-reaction level, change equates to “I don’t know how to stay safe.” When you move, you are putting yourself into a position where everything is new and changed and, therefore, everything is stressful. 

 

In addition to all the stress, are the many, many losses that you are grieving after you move. You have left friends and maybe family (the support network that you connected with daily). Your routine is gone - you no longer have the familiar coffee shop, grocery store or the sounds on the street that surrounded you for the past 2, 5 or 25 years. Your job is gone. And even if you have the same job you most likely have a new office, new colleagues and a new commute. Your house is gone with all its comforts and familiarity. Your kids’ schools are gone - with new ones to learn and new friends to make. Doctors, mechanics, dentists and all the supports that you counted on for when things broke are gone. In short, your list of losses is huge. Don’t underestimate the emotional toll this takes.

 

After a move, we have a couple who is stressed out and grieving. They are flooded with these big emotions and are without their usual support systems. The questions I ask all my couples include: how were you taught to deal with big emotions, and what model did your parents show you about coping with emotions, especially stress and grief? This parental model usually become our blueprint or our auto-pilot. We tend to slide into this auto-pilot when we are flooded with feelings and we react without thinking or planning. This is where couples get into trouble. This is where the fights begin.

 

Most people cope with big emotions in a few ways. They:

 

Control the Feeling
- These individuals want to get their minds around all the information, make lists, and lists of lists, and even spreadsheets of lists. The internal statement might be “if I can get all the information about this move in an organized way this feeling will go away.”

 

Ignore the Feeing
- I call this option the Netflix reaction. These individuals shut themselves off, consciously or unconsciously, from their feelings. They become numb or apathetic, and sometimes deny that they are feeling anything at all. The internal statement might be: “if I ignore this feeling it will go away.”

 

Get Angry
- These individuals want to find someone to blame and punish for their feelings. They want to fight. Their internal statement might be: “this is all your fault and if I can get you back and make you pay, this feeling will go away.”

 

Take Action
- These individuals seek out places where they feel empowered instead of helpless and take actions to feel better. Their internal statement might be: “if I take action this feeling will go away.”

 

Feel the Feeling - These individuals allow whatever feelings they have to arise and move through them. They find safe places where they can cry, laugh, yell, or hide. Their internal statement might be: “If I let these feelings out then I will feel better.”

It is important to note that we employ all of these strategies with our emotions. We just use them at different times or cycle through them until we find relief. Yes, some are more constructive or effective than others but most of us, when flooded with emotions, are operating on auto-pilot and reacting instead of choosing an action.

 

The tricky part of a move with your spouse is that while you are utilizing one strategy to cope with all the stress and loss, your partner is also using one of these strategies to keep themselves above water. However, it is rare that individuals in a couple use the same strategy at the same time. This is worth stating again. It is rare and very unusual that you and your spouse will be in sync with how you are coping, processing and understanding all of the stress and loss involved in your move. And there is nothing more infuriating than having your spouse doing something different with their feelings - not to mention that their coping strategy usually gets in the way of your coping skills. 

 

To recap: moving is stressful, we cope with stress in a variety of ways and we rarely cope the same way our spouse is coping. The end result of this is feeling distance, anger, apathy, resentment and sadness toward our spouse. What is lost is the generosity, curiosity and humor that I believe are the hallmarks of a strong marriage. 

 

What do you do with this knowledge? How does this help you to prevent your move from hurting your marriage?

 

My hope is that this opens up a conversation between you and your spouse about your move. You now have the language to discuss how you both were taught to react to stress and my wish is that you can also talk about how you want to react to loss and change. I believe strongly that good communication is a key to a successful marriage. And sometimes it is the language itself that is missing.

 

If you recently moved or a contemplating a move and need some help talking though the effect it is having on your marriage please call for a free consultation. I can be reached at 720-551-8084 or at www.CouplesCounselingBoulder.com
Friday
Jun232017

How to have Great Married Sex

4 Steps to Keep Your Sex Life Alive After Marriage

by Ashley Seeger, LCSW

I recently had a couple come in to see me for premarital counseling - worried and terrified. Many married friends had told them that their sex life was about to die. And that after the honeymoon the arguments about when, how often, blow job, etc would begin. “Is it true?” they asked. They have a wonderful sensual and sex life and wanted to know how to keep it alive. 

 It is true that every couple’s sex-life goes through stages and that the “new couple sex” stage will end. Your sex-life will change, mature, get better and have downtimes over the lifetime of your marriage. But it is also true that you can have a strong sexual, sensual and erotic relationship that is vital, exciting and fulfilling.

How? With four simple steps.

1. Married Sex is Different Than “New Couple” Sex

Great married sex is about understanding that the two of you will have a lifetime of sensual and erotic experiences together. Some will be great, most will be OK and some will be bad. The most difficult piece of work is to make the majority of your sex, the OK sex, OK. This kind of sex happens when one person has a higher level of desire and the other person goes along for the ride.  

Most of the couples that I see have a deep belief that there is something totally wrong with their sex life if they have different desire levels. In fact this is totally normal - age, stress, hormones, injuries, and medications all have an impact on your sex drive and ability to orgasm. It is important to learn to navigate this OK sex with creativity, understanding and generosity.

2. Sex is More Than Just Intercourse

The goal for your sensual life together is to have a buffet of touch - intimate, erotic, intercourse, etc. And to know that just because you are touching in an erotic way does not mean that you have to have intercourse. It can be a very freeing feeling to disconnect the link between touch and sex. There may be times in your life where intercourse is not an option (broken leg, sprained back, babies, etc) but don’t let that stop you from having playful and intimate dates. Plan a date night with your spouse where you agree to a level of touch (intimate/erotic) and stay there without moving up the scale to sex. 

3. Scheduled Sex

 This is a great debate among couples - how can scheduled sex be sexy? I believe that when you schedule sex with your partner you are stating that your sensual life is important to you and that you want to carve time out for your partner. You are not just waiting to see if there is enough energy left at the end of the day to give him or her.  It also allows for anticipation to build as you get ready, pick special clothes and imagine all the what’s and when’s. Try scheduling a few sex-dates and see if it works for your relationship.

  4. Be Spontaneous 

 It always feels odd to counsel couples to schedule spontaneous sex - it seems impossible. But the spontaneity that I am referring to is not about when you have sex but what you do during sex.  Passion and desire stem from the unknown. It is important that each month you add something new to your sex life. I am not talking about a big “new” but rather a small “new.” A slight change to the position or location, change the rhythm, turn the lights on or off, say something kinky, or keep some clothes on. These small changes invite the unknown back into your relationship and keep passions alive.

There are many octogenarian couples who report having wonderful and satisfying sex lives. Most of us throw a wish into the universe when we hear that - “I hope that can be us.” It can be. But you need to allow your definition of sex and sexy to change. And, as always, talk with your spouse about these 4 steps, about sex and about your desires and needs. 

If you are having a difficult time communicating with your partner about your sexual desires please consider meeting with a couples counselor to help facilitate these important conversations. If you have any questions about this information or wish to schedule a free 20-minute consultation please contact me at 720-551-8084.

Monday
Jun292015

Wedding Jitters Explained

Are you feeling anxious about your upcoming wedding? Sick to your stomach? Having bad dreams? Does the sight of the dress fill you with dread? Feeling like you may have made a mistake saying yes - or proposing? 

If you answered yes, you are experiencing wedding jitters.  It is your subconscious telling you that something is not right and you need to listen to it. It may be that you are nervous about your own ability to be a husband or wife, anxious that your fiancé can’t be the spouse you need, or both.

Having wedding jitters does not mean that the marriage is doomed or that it is time to call off the wedding. But all jitters mean that an intervention is needed.  Something is making you anxious and you need to understand what it is. 

We all have an internal compass that guides us in our life and when we go against it there is a reaction. At first you feel a gentle tugging at the back of your brain; something does not feel right. You feel “off.”  If you pay attention to this feeling the cause or causes will slowly become clear. But if you don’t pay attention your subconscious will get louder and louder and the bad feelings begin to turn to physical symptoms - you may have bad dreams, difficulty sleeping, stomach issues, illness or even injuries.

I have worked with many brides and grooms who have had jitters and some that have had physical symptoms of anxiety and stress about their upcoming nuptials.  The work is focused on finding the cause of their “jitters” so they can clearly see what action is needed. 

I have outlined my own list of the main causes for wedding jitters. I hope it will help you to begin to understand where your anxiety comes from so that you can begin to take action and have the wedding and marriage you want.

1. The Wedding Day

Sometimes it is the wedding day itself that is the cause of anxiety. Having one’s entire family together for a day or weekend can cause a great deal of anxiety especially when there are divorces, step-parents, estranged family members, or just one particularly difficult family member. For other brides or grooms, wedding-day stress is about being in the spotlight. 

One bride I know, who was anxious about being at the center of attention, decided to get rid of the aisle at her wedding. She and her fiancé walked together into the middle of the cocktail reception and said their vows surrounded by friends and family. Your wedding does not have to be conventional - you can set it up so that it works for you.

In all instances I believe that getting support for your wedding day is essential. A counselor or wedding planner can help you create a plan for dealing with difficult family members and organize your day so that you feel safe and connected with your spouse. 

2. Becoming A “Wife” Or “Husband”

Our parent’s marriage is our blueprint for our own marriage. We learn from them how to argue, how to ask for our needs, and how to negotiate power in an intimate relationship. Some of us did not get an ideal blueprint to follow: we come from broken homes, homes filled with anger, violence, shame or neglect, or homes where there is little or no emotional intimacy.  

Sometimes when we become engaged the fear that we will become just like our mom or dad is overwhelming. It is important to remember that you do not have to mirror your blueprint.  You can choose any type of relationship you want.  But if you do not actively choose a different way of connecting or expressing anger, you will go on autopilot and fall back on familiar behaviors.

If this sounds like what you are feeling then what you need is to gain an understanding of your past so you can clearly define your future. Get support around understanding your own blueprint so you can then decide what you want to keep and what pieces of your parent’s marriage you want to get rid of. Once you have this, you and your fiancé can openly discuss your plan, goals and dreams for the marriage.

3. What Is The Plan?

Have you talked through the BIG items with your intended? A few of these Big items include: do we want kids and when, where do we want to live, how much money do we plan to make and how will we budget, how much time will we spend with our extended families, who is staying home with the kids, and how ambitious are we individually and how are we going to make room in the relationship for this ambition.  

When you talk through all of these questions a picture or plan for your marriage emerges. Many couples don’t discuss their overall plan before they get married because they either don’t know how to or because they already know there is a conflict and they don’t know how to find a resolution. 

If you have not discussed the Big questions with your fiancé this may be a source of your wedding jitters. There can be the illusion that these conflicts will all “work themselves out.” I will tell you from personal as well as professional experience that they don’t. But I do know that your anxiety will be greatly relieved by beginning this conversation. Consider finding a workbook or a couples counselor who can guide you through this discussion, help you set goals for yourselves, and teach you the communication skills you need to negotiate when your desires or needs differ.

4. Violence Or The Threat Of Violence

Violence is never OK. It is never, ever, ever, ever OK.  

If there has been violence, threats of violence, or shaming or controlling behavior in your relationship you need to seek the support of a therapist to better understand the dynamics of the abuse and why you choose to stay.

If you are questioning the relationship because there has been abusive behavior in the past, please listen to your instincts. Slow things down and find some support.  Abuse rarely only occurs once. It is a pattern of behavior that cycles through wonderful times and then abusive or controlling times. It will happen again unless there is an intervention.

5. Addiction

Addiction is not just about alcohol or drugs. We can become addicted to food, shopping, sex, pornography and even to a relationship.  Addictions reek havoc in a relationship - especially with trust. In some ways the addiction becomes a third person in the relationship. 

If your partner has an addiction there is also the possibility that you feel like you are what holds this person together. And that without you they would fall apart or perhaps become depressed or suicidal which can leave you feeling trapped. This is a very difficult way to begin a marriage.

If you are having doubts about getting married because there is an addiction or addictive behavior then information is your most important intervention. AA and Smart Recovery are two wonderful organizations that provide information, literature, meetings and support groups. You will begin to understand what is an addiction, how to live with an addiction, and how to be in a healthy relationship with an addict.  

Many people who struggle with addictions are in rewarding, supporting and wonderful marriages. It does not mean that your relationship is doomed but it does mean that your relationship will have unique challenges. You need to be able to make an informed decision about the relationship.  A psychotherapist or counselor who specializes in addiction is another great place to get information and support.

6. Difficult Family Relationships

When you get married you are creating a new family. In order for there to be room for this new family you must first separate from your family of origin (your parents). This sounds easy as I type it but I have seen many couples where this step gets messy.  Family dynamics and politics are complicated and unique.

If you are having doubts about your relationship because of messy, complicated family dynamics you need to make sure that you and your fiancé have strong communication skills.  You cannot change anyone else’s behavior, expectations or feelings but you can make sure that you and your spouse are a team. You need to be unified in your expectations, boundaries and message to others. A couples counselor is the best place to learn these skills and to come up with a plan of action to cope with the wedding day and every day after.

Problems will arise if your partner is not willing or able to do this very important step of individuating and creating a new family. It can be very lonely in a marriage where you don’t feel that you are a central player; resentment and anger can build up quickly.  Consider individual counseling so you can learn how to best ask for your needs from your partner and then couples counseling to help you both understand the need for boundaries and how to create them for yourselves. 

7. Cheating

Is there a history of cheating in your relationship? It is devastating to have your trust betrayed and forgiveness and healing each take a long time.  But trust can be rebuilt and relationships can be stronger after a betrayal. It makes sense for there to be anxiety about entering into a commitment when there has been an affair. The fear is there that “once a cheater, always a cheater.”

I don’t believe this sentiment. But I do believe that you both need to understand what caused there to be an opening in your relationship for this third person; was it something in your dynamic together or was it something solely within the person who cheated.  A psychotherapist or couples counselor can help greatly with this process.

8. Sex

Sex is a complicated topic. It is central to an intimate relationship but it can feel almost impossible to talk about. Sex becomes an issue in a relationship when it is either too intense or there is no intensity at all. For some, it can be overwhelming to look at their current sex life and think that it might remain the same for the rest of their lives. And without open lines of communication and the skills to devise a plan, you begin to doubt whether you can stay committed forever.

Again, it is communication and knowledge that are the keys to alleviating this stress.  You need to know what “married sex” is and how it differs from “new couple” sex. Don’t walk away until you can learn and discover more about your own and your partner’s sensuality. A couples counselor or sex therapist is a good place to begin.  I also recommend the “Better Sex Video Series - Sexplorations” by the Sinclair Institute (http://www.sinclairinstitute.com) to almost every couple I work with as a teaching tool about how to talk about sex. Also read my blog post on how to have great married sex.

9. Illness

It can be terrifying when you find out that someone you love dearly has an illness.  You can be flooded with so many difficult questions: how long will we have? how bad will it get? will I have to be the caretaker and if so what happens to my needs, dreams and desires? will my children inherit this illness? 

If you or your fiancé has an illness and you are questioning if the relationship can work you need more information.  A joint visit to the doctors office can give you both a chance to ask questions and gather important information. Then a visit with a couples counselor can help you both fully express your fears and feelings, and help you to listen empathically to the the other’s feelings.  

We all want to know how our stories will end - and we want to know now. We want to know before the wedding if our marriage will last 50+ years. It is very scary to make any decision about the rest of our life when we don’t feel we have all the answers. And when we feel jittery or anxious about a big decision we usually ask family members for reassurance. We ask if these feeling are “normal” and if they had these before they married. They will usually tell us this is all normal, to go ahead with the wedding, and reassure us that everything will be OK. This rarely gets rid of wedding jitters.

The very best thing that you can do to alleviate the jitters is to get more information and open the lines of communication with your fiancé. Beginning this conversation may not remove all the jitters but solutions and paths forward will emerge. Also, consider using a couples counselor or individual psychotherapist to help. The best outcome would be that you gain:

 - the vision to know your needs

 - the ability to ask for your needs bluntly

 - the skills to express your feelings openly and be heard without judgement

 - the perspective to be able to see the truth of your relationship and not just the fantasy of it potential alone

With these you will be able to choose your partner with confidence, plan your wedding with excitement and joy and have the marriage you want and need. Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to schedule a time to meet.