Navigating Relationship OCD (ROCD)

Navigating a relationship can be challenging enough, but when you add Relationship OCD (ROCD) into the mix, it can seem like an overwhelming wave of doubts and fears. ROCD manifests in a variety of ways, often placing immense stress on both partners. The two most prevalent types of ROCD include doubting your love for your partner and fearing their infidelity. Let’s dive deeper into these patterns and explore some approaches that might help alleviate the mental turmoil.


“Do I really love them? Is this relationship right for me?”

These questions can haunt someone with ROCD. Imagine this: your partner has planned a perfect picnic, the weather is gorgeous, and everything looks like a scene from a romantic movie. Despite recognizing the effort, your mind wanders. You notice every minor annoyance, from how loudly they chew to their choice of attire. You start comparing them unfavorably to others, questioning if enduring these perceived flaws is worth it. This constant scrutiny can make you feel distant and indecisive about the relationship.


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Yet, the thought of breaking up feels just as scary. You might feel an uncomfortable void at the idea of being without them, which seems contradictory given your earlier frustrations. This paradox is a hallmark of ROCD, where your mind loops through doubts about compatibility while fearing the loss of the relationship at the same time. If breaking up feels more daunting than relieving, it’s likely that ROCD is playing a large role.

“Are they cheating? Do they truly love me?”

The other common facet of ROCD revolves around trust. You might find yourself dissecting every word and action, looking for signs of infidelity or disinterest. An offhand joke or a day spent apart can spiral into a vortex of anxiety and insecurity. Often, this leads to compulsive behaviors like seeking reassurance or snooping through personal items, which only serves to fuel the anxiety further.


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Acknowledging ROCD: The First Step to Healing

Realizing that these overwhelming thoughts are driven by ROCD is crucial. They are not reflections of reality but distortions created by anxiety. Understanding this can empower you to begin effectively addressing these intrusive thoughts.


Changing Your Inner Dialogue

When dealing with ROCD, the typical response might be to seek reassurance or to combat intrusive thoughts with counterarguments that emphasize your partner’s positive traits. For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “Do I even want to be with them?” you might instinctively respond with, “I DO want to be with them. They are kind, funny, and I enjoy spending time with them.” This is a form of self-reassurance that, while comforting, can be counterproductive.

Instead, a more effective approach involves leaning into the uncertainty of your intrusive thoughts. Rather than trying to convince yourself of your feelings, consider responding with, “Maybe I don’t want to be with them.” Similarly, if you find yourself thinking, “That person is much more attractive than my partner,” resist the urge to immediately counter this thought with, “But my partner has a great personality.” Instead, acknowledge the thought: “Maybe that person is more attractive, or maybe my partner isn’t as attractive.” This strategy involves agreeing with the intrusive thoughts, which might seem counterintuitive, but it helps to lessen their emotional impact over time.

The same principle applies if you’re stressed about potential infidelity. Instead of reassuring yourself by checking their phone or recounting their affectionate actions, try to accept thoughts like, “Maybe they are cheating on me. And if they are, that’s okay. I’ll manage.” This approach doesn’t mean you believe these scenarios are true, but by accepting the possibility without judgment, you reduce the urge to engage in compulsive checking and reassure yourself, which ultimately diminishes the power and frequency of these intrusive thoughts.

Moving Forward

Leaning into your fears and accepting intrusive thoughts without immediate counterarguments allows you to deal with them more rationally. It reduces the urgency and anxiety surrounding these thoughts, making them less intrusive over time. ROCD can be a tough wave to ride, but with awareness and proactive coping strategies, navigating it can become more manageable. Remember, seeking professional help like therapy can also provide significant support in dealing with ROCD. Schedule an appointment today.


Communication Is Important in a Relationship—Here’s Why

There’s a good chance you’ve heard this statement before: Communication is key.

You’ve heard this statement time and time again. Have you ever wondered why communication really is key?

I bet you are now…

Communication is one of the most important factors in any type of relationship.

No matter if your relationship is with a family member, friend, co-worker, or significant other, communication is essential in any relationship.

Here’s why communication is (and always will be) important in a relationship.

Get to Know One Another

Communication is used at the beginning of a relationship to get to know one another, see if you’re compatible, set expectations, and more. Once you decide you’re compatible and actually start to date and grow your relationship, that doesn’t mean the communication stops. If anything, the communication should become more frequent and involve deeper and more meaningful conversations.

With a relationship, you should constantly and continuously be working towards getting to know each other on a deeper and more personal level. Learn about each other’s wants, needs, desires, goals, and more.

Avoid Any Misunderstanding

By communicating with one another, you’re able to truly express your thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs. By doing this, you’ll be able to avoid any miscommunication in the future, especially in tougher conversations. Not every conversation you have is going to be an easy one.

Just because you have a difficult conversation doesn’t mean your relationship is struggling. When you use communication to overcome those tough conversations, you’re actually working towards building a stronger bond and trust.

Build Trust

Trust is a building block of a healthy and happy relationship. Communication is another essential building block. By having good communication skills, you’re also working on building trust with one another, which also builds confidence in your relationship.

Always be open and honest with one another. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

You Don’t Have to Become a Mind-reader

You shouldn’t expect your partner to have to read your mind, and they shouldn’t expect this of you either. Express your opinions, thoughts, and feelings, even if it may be something that conflicts with your partner’s ideas or opinions about a certain topic.

Those debates will only help grow your communication with each other. Communicating with one another creates a sense of safety and security in your relationship.

Support and Strengthen Your Bond

This may be easier said than done, but one of the best benefits of being in a relationship is having someone that is there to support you through the good and the bad times. If you’re struggling through a hard time in your life, let your partner know. They won’t judge you. They will be there for you however you need them.

Make sure you communicate your feelings and needs. If you just need them to listen, let them know. If you just need a shoulder to cry on, tell them. Or if you’re actually looking for advice, ask them for their opinion on the matter. If you’re open and honest with them from the beginning, they’ll have an easier time meeting you in the middle to help you along the way.

Overall Happiness

Healthy communication in your relationship is beneficial for you and your partner’s overall happiness. Communication is key and essential through the good times and the bad times. Supporting and strengthening your bond with one another doesn’t have to just happen during the hard times. Communicating how you’re feeling when you’re happy, loved, or proud can increase both your and your partner’s overall happiness, especially with each other.

If you’re looking for therapy or couples therapy as a way to improve your communication, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.

5 Tips to Communicate Better with Your Partner

Communicating your needs can be hard at times. You may feel like a toddler unable to truly express your wants and needs. And you know what? That’s okay!

When it comes to relationships, it can become even more difficult. Two people. Two different personalities. Two different wants, needs, desires, dreams, goals, and more.

One of you may have had a long or hard day at work. Maybe you’re hoping to come home and push it out of your head and relax for the night, but as soon as you walk through the front door, your partner greets you with a smiling face and asks how your day went.

Here are 5 tips to communicate better with your partner.

1. Be Clear, Concise, and Direct.

You two could be two peas in a pod or maybe you’re polar opposites that balance one another. You may have been together for less than a year or over ten years. No matter how long you’ve been together or how perfect you may be together, you can’t read each other’s minds. And that’s okay! You shouldn’t have to, especially if you’re communicating effectively.

You’re two completely different people that share a love for one another. There are certain cues you may pick up on that your partner may not. For example, if your partner comes home after a long day of work, you may be able to see their hunched shoulders or tired eyes. Or maybe they’re really good at hiding it or leaving their work at work.

On the other hand, your partner may notice dirty counters, dog hair all over the floor, or grass that needs to be mowed. You both can’t assume that the other person will notice the same things.

If you want help with something, ask for it. If venting is what you need, vent.

Be clear, concise, and direct with your wants and needs. You can’t do it all by yourself and they can’t either. Meet one another halfway.

2. Don’t Play the Blame Game.

With tough conversations, it’s easy to place the blame on the other person. Sometimes this can happen without you even realizing it. Think before you speak.

Choose your words carefully because, in the heat of the moment, they could be taken the wrong way. It’s easy for a conversation to turn from open and honest to blaming and defensive. Try to use “I” instead of “You”. Take responsibility instead of placing the blame on the other person.

3. Share Positive Feedback with One Another.

Communicating doesn’t have to mean sharing feedback or criticism. Positively communicating with one another could be as simple as a compliment! If you like their outfit, tell them.

Maybe you’ve noticed how nice the house looks lately. Let them know how much you enjoy, respect, and love them.

4. Schedule Time Together.

Balancing everything in life can be a challenge. You’re both balancing careers, friends, family, and your relationship. Find time to actually be with one another, interruption-free!

Schedule date nights once a week to go out and have fun or just talk to one another. This will give you an opportunity each week to talk, listen, and grow together.

5. Seek Help.

Seeking help from an outside third party doesn’t mean you have a bad relationship or should just break up. Sometimes, it can be exactly what you need to move forward into a healthier and happier relationship with one another. A therapist can help you figure out the best way to communicate with one another and improve your relationship to meet both of your wants and needs.

If you’re looking to improve your communication with your partner, get started with us today by booking a free consultation.

Our couples counseling therapists are based out of Los Gatos. We’re here to help. Get in touch any time.

Is Sex a Required Topic to Talk About in Couples Therapy?

Sex isn’t an easy conversation, but that doesn’t mean you have to run away or avoid it.

Couples who have been together for years may even struggle to talk about it, especially with an outside third party like a therapist.

Even just the thought of having to talk about sex with someone other than your partner could leave you feeling a bit uneasy or uncertain about the entire idea of going to therapy.

Try not to let those feelings and fears get in the way of your decision to go to couples therapy.

Let’s find out if sex is a required topic to talk about in couples therapy.

The Topic of Sex in Couples Therapy

Long story short, you don’t have to talk about sex during couples therapy.

But, just like any other type of therapy, you obviously don’t have to talk about anything that you don’t want to. Talking about sex during couples therapy is something to consider, though!

Think about it this way: There are certain layers to a relationship, bonding, and connecting with one another on a deeper level. For many, sex is a huge part of their relationship. But for some, it’s not. Perhaps this is a time to discuss with your partner what role sex plays in your relationship.

If you find you have different ideas about the role of sex in your relationship and are struggling to reconcile, it could be something to discuss in couples therapy, as it indicates there may be an issue with communication and compromise.

Couples Therapy vs. Sex Therapy

Couples therapy and sex therapy are two different types of therapies. Sure, the topic of sex may come up during couples therapy, but it also addresses the emotional aspects of your relationship. During couples therapy, the topic of sex may not come up at all depending on both your and your partner’s reasons for attending therapy in the first place.

Sex therapy is specifically related to the issues that may be taking place within your sex life.

Another difference between couples therapy and sex therapy is that both partners are required to participate during couples therapy. During sex therapy, only one person may be present.

Typically, the issues discussed during sex therapy include the following: low sex drive, sexual trauma, difficulty getting an erection, difficulty climaxing, and sexual preferences.

On the other hand, during couples therapy, the types of issues that are addressed could include the following: relationship building, effective communication skills, conflict resolution, infidelity counseling, anger management, and being open and honest with one another.

How to Talk About Sex During Couples Therapy

Keep in mind that a licensed therapist has probably discussed sex at least a few times during one of their sessions with previous clients. Sex is one of the main reasons that couples actually end up in couples therapy. No matter what your relationship status is, you can always learn more about sex and intimacy.

Here are some important things to keep in mind if you’re a little hesitant about discussing your sex life during couples therapy:

  • You’re not alone in your thoughts and feelings.
  • There’s a good chance your therapist has heard it all before.
  • Therapy is a safe place for both you and your partner.
  • If you feel uncomfortable at any point during your session, let your partner and your therapist know.
  • You may feel uncomfortable when you’re discussing it during your therapy session, but think of what it can do to benefit your relationship with your partner.

If you are looking to get into couples therapy, reach out to us today by booking a free consultation.

How to Tell When Conflict in Your Relationship Is Healthy (and When It’s Not)

Bickering over whose turn it is to pay. A fight over a change in plans for the weekend. A disagreement over household chores and responsibilities. An argument over not listening or remembering something that was said in a previous conversation.

These may seem like relationship red flags, but the truth of the matter is: All couples fight every now and then. Conflict doesn’t have to always lead to a breakup. Fights or disagreements can lead to better solutions and a stronger connection and bond.

If you find yourself fighting all the time with little to no solution, then it may be a relationship red flag.

Here’s how to tell when the conflict in your relationship is healthy (and when it’s not).

Relationship Green Flags

Healthy relationships look different in every single situation. Happiness in a relationship isn’t something where one size fits all. Each couple and individual in a relationship has their own specific wants, needs, values, goals, hobbies, and more.

You may look back on something you dated years ago and wonder what you saw in them or why you dated them in the first place. A relationship that happened ten years ago is probably very different from one that you have or are looking for now. That’s because you’ve grown and changed, and so have your desires and what you’re looking for.

The signs of a healthy relationship usually include open communication, trust, independence, curiosity, playfulness, physical and emotional intimacy, teamwork, and conflict resolution.

Relationship Red Flags

Although healthy relationships can look different depending on the couple, there are certain relationship red flags that can be big indicators of unhealthy conflict in a relationship.

No Respect for Boundaries

Boundaries are crucial in any type of relationship. If you have a set boundary and you made that boundary clear to your partner, they should be respectful of that. If you start to notice pushback or pressure on a specific boundary you have set, it’s a big indicator that there isn’t mutual respect in place.

Emotionally and/or Physically Distant

Relationships form and grow through constant communication and connection. If you start to notice more distance in your relationship, physically and/or emotionally, this is usually a good sign that your relationship may be struggling. You should want to be with one another. You shouldn’t be trying to avoid each other or find excuses to not be with one another.

Disagreements Stay Disagreements

Even in a healthy relationship, conflict can still happen, but conflict resolution is usually what makes a relationship healthy. In an unhealthy relationship, conflict usually stays as a conflict. It’s typically not a good sign if you’re constantly talking about the same issues over and over again with little to no resolution.

An open and healthy relationship means that you’re able to openly and effectively communicate with one another. This means having the ability to equally speak and listen to one another. If you notice that you’re not able to get a word in, or if your partner isn’t actually listening or remembering the things that you said, this can be a sign of a relationship that’s struggling.

What You Can Do

All relationships, even healthy ones, need a little extra TLC every now and then. Here are some things you can do to help work on your relationship:

  • Embrace your differences
  • Consider their side
  • Work through problems together
  • Communicate effectively—both speaking and listening
  • Try new things
  • Discuss your wants, needs, goals, and dreams
  • Try couples therapy

If some of these relationship red flags seem to be waving a little too close to home, it may be time to reach out to an unbiased third party, like a therapist, for support.

Couples therapy can help. Please feel free to schedule a free consultation or book an appointment today.

Breaking Down Consensual Non-Monogamy

Most of us were taught to associate love and romance with monogamous relationships only. However, love exists in many forms! The number of people involved doesn’t define whether it is or is not a genuine relationship. As long as there’s consent from everyone involved, you may find that relationships are more meaningful to you when you add more people!

Let’s break down consensual non-monogamy.

Consensual Non-Monogamy in a Nutshell

You may not have heard of the term “non-monogamy” before, but you’re more than likely familiar with it. Non-consensual non-monogamy is when someone else is invited into the relationship without one of the partner’s consent—a.k.a. cheating.

Consensual non-monogamy, however, means that everyone involved consents to the specific people and dynamic of the relationship. This umbrella term represents many variations of non-monogamy, from open relationships to polyamory.

Assuming someone’s non-monogamous relationship is just as taboo as having an affair is offensive. These relationships can often be healthier than monogamous relationships because of how much communication and vulnerability they require.

Let’s break it down.

Open Relationships

Open relationships involve one primary couple where one or both partners are “open” to sexual activity with people outside of the relationship. The person who isn’t in the primary couple typically has a specific role and is seen as a secondary addition to the couple.

Open relationships most commonly take place between couples who have been married/committed for a long time and are looking to spice it up in the bedroom by inviting another person. You make the decision together, and couples should establish clear boundaries about what sexual contact is okay and what isn’t.


While swinging is technically a kind of open relationship, couples who swing are typically more open to meeting with strangers, and tend to engage with more of a swinging “culture”.

Swinging is a diverse space. It could mean kissing strangers briefly at parties, or it could mean getting together with a group of friends you’ve known for years to swap partners.


Polyamorous relationships are relatively popular in certain cultures around the world. Polygyny, for example, is often seen in Muslim parts of the Middle East and Africa. It is when one husband shares sexual relationships with multiple wives who have no sexual contact with each other. We sometimes see this in the U.S. as well.

Polyandry, the same thing with reversed gender roles, happens rarely, as it’s less likely to receive social and cultural support.

The Tenants of Consensual Non-Monogamy

Some people think that having a relationship with multiple people dilutes the relationship you have with each individual. This isn’t true.

Consensual non-monogamy idolizes the same standards that monogamy should—no lying, no sexual pressure or coercion, and no making decisions that affect the relationship without everyone’s voice present.

Everyone’s relationship is unique, even in monogamous relationships, so every relationship should have its own unique set of expectations. With consensual non-monogamy, couples should consider a few things before introducing another cook to the kitchen…

  • Is the relationship casual, committed, brief, or long-term?
  • What role does each person serve in the relationship? (Primary, secondary, tertiary…)
  • What is okay and what is off-limits between partners sexually, romantically, and emotionally?
  • To protect us from STIs and/or unwanted pregnancies, what kind of sexual behavior is okay?

For consensual non-monogamy to work, you need to take a genuine interest and care for your partners’ feelings. You need to establish a foundation of trust, vulnerability, and communication. If boundaries get crossed, it’s important that you each have the reflective tools and communication skills necessary to problem-solve without feeling betrayed.

To better understand how your own insecurities, upbringing, and preferences may affect you in a consensually non-monogamous relationship, work with a therapist! Schedule your first appointment today.

Is Intention Part of Your Relationship? Here’s Why It Matters

Relationships can be fiery and full of passion when you’re still dancing through the honeymoon stage. Eventually, you may discover the unexpected joy of being in a relationship after some time—sweet stability.

While it’s nice knowing that no matter how bad your day was, you get to come home to the arms of someone you love, this knowledge can also make us go into auto-pilot.

You may find yourself taking advantage of your partner’s kind habits, expecting them to be an evergreen part of your routine. When this happens, intention is lost, and we fail to see our partners as the people with whom we fell in love.

Instead, we see them as another cog in the nonstop machine that is our daily lives. Intention matters in our relationships because it gives us a stronger sense of trust, intimacy, and love with our partner.

What Intentionality Looks Like in Relationships

Proactive (Not Reactive) Love

Your ability to de-escalate an argument without hurting the person you love is great. However, if you only really prove yourself to your partner during times of crisis, your relationship is missing intentionality.

When you think of showing intention, think of proactive behaviors that help support your partner’s energy and goals.

For example, let’s say visiting family is an especially stressful event for your partner. Proactively (read: intentionally) loving them would look like saying, “When you come back on Sunday, I’ll have your favorite comfy clothes washed and ready for us to crash and watch a movie together.”

Show your partner that you understand the ebbs and flows of their emotions. Prove that you know when they’ll need support without them having to ask for it.

Planning for Growth Instead of Expecting It

Some people think that being in a relationship for a long time means it must be a strong relationship. However, time isn’t the best metric with which to judge a relationship’s quality.

Auto-piloting your way through a relationship will only leave you feeling burdened with the problems you never felt comfortable bringing up and/or overwhelmed with unmet needs.

Instead, plan for growth by being intentional about it. Ask yourself questions, like…

  • When in this relationship have I felt the happiest?
  • What has my partner done before that made me feel safe?
  • What are the ways I show love to my partner?
  • How do I prefer receiving love from my partner?
  • What things do I do solely for my enjoyment?
  • What things do I want me and my partner to do together?
  • When have I felt the most connected to my partner?
  • How do I typically choose to connect with my partner?
  • What are our strengths as a couple?
  • Where would I like us to improve as a couple?

Take a moment to write down and share these answers with your partner, and have them do the same.

Viewing your relationship from a high-level perspective can be beneficial. Together, you can come up with solutions to emotional problems, first. (As in, before you feel the emotions that can blind you to any possible solution in the moment.)

Setting Monthly Intentions

To practice, have both you and your partner create a list of 12 things to do for the other this month. (Gifts, gestures, activities, acts of service, etc.) They can happen at any time, but each partner has the responsibility to think intentionally about the other, and then act on it.

You can even get more specific by setting a more formal intention. For example, “We take an interest in finding new, healthy ways to cope with our conflicts and levels of individual stress.”

That way, you can plan 12 things for the month that are centered around stress-reducing coping activities or gifts.

Working with a counselor is a great way to support your own emotional capacity while working through these hard topics with your partner. Ready to get started? Schedule an appointment with me today.

Can All Couples Benefit from Couples Therapy?

For some couples, therapy is a last-ditch effort before splitting up. However, you don’t have to be considering a break-up to get something beneficial out of couples therapy!

Ditch the astrological compatibility and your petty best friend’s advice. Instead, follow the research! Around 70% of couples achieve positive, lasting change from couples therapy.

Why can’t that be you?

Misconceptions About What Therapy Means for Couples

There’s this stigma that people turn to therapists when they’re broken. However, we don’t view doctors and dentists in the same way, even though we quite literally go to them with broken bones, decaying teeth, etc.

We see them for annual check-ups, recurring physicals, regular cleanings, and other maintenance reasons. Why can’t we see therapy as something that strengthens us, instead of something that implies we are broken or failures first?

Enrolling in couples therapy does not mean there is something inherently wrong with your relationship, so cut the blaming and shaming. Therapy is a much healthier and productive way of facing relationship problems than pretending they don’t exist, convincing ourselves that our partner is the only problematic one, or insisting that real, true love shouldn’t require work.

For those with an avoidant attachment style, therapy may feel like a threat because shining a light on our darkest problems makes us think it will set them all on fire. In reality, most couples find that talking through their biggest relationship stressors with a therapist leaves them feeling lighter, more supported, and more confident in their relationship.

Signs You Could Benefit from Couples Therapy

While all couples can benefit from therapy, there are a few telltale signs it can make a big difference for you. Ask yourself: do you…

  • Feel emotionally distant from your partner or feel overwhelmingly lonely?
  • Mistrust your partner or feel you cannot rely on them for basic tasks, personal support, or loyalty?
  • Attribute your sense of self-worth to how they’re feeling?
  • Separate yourself emotionally from them to not threaten your independence?
  • Disagree on group decisions relating to finances, parenting, or in-law relations?

If you feel you have to choose between leaving the relationship to be happy vs. staying in the relationship for the family and sacrificing your happiness, it could be time for therapy. Believe that it can bring back the vibrance and love that your relationship lost.

How Couples Therapy Can Benefit Strong Couples

Your relationship may be healthy, but life still has its curveballs! How can couples therapy prepare you and your partner for everything life throws at you?


  • Providing coping strategies for tough times like losing a family member, facing job insecurity, or supporting your child through their challenges.
  • Offering an outsider’s perspective on your plans for “big life” events, like preparing for a new baby, moving to a new place, or navigating a career change.
  • Teaching you or your partner skills on how to become more emotionally open and/or communicative.
  • Outlining the ways to have a “fair fight”. From dish duty to establishing boundaries with in-laws, fights are inevitable. If you can get through them without hurting each other, your relationship can thrive instead of slowly chip away.
  • Creating a safe space to talk about topics you’re afraid to bring up alone, like dry spells in the bedroom.
  • Assisting blended families in establishing skills that ensure all children feel seen, loved, and prioritized in their new family.
  • Suggesting meaningful ways to connect without giving into reflexive and offensive behaviors like “phubbing”. (Avoiding your partner by scrolling through your phone, of which we’re all guilty!)
  • Establishing and changing boundaries over time. Your mom stopping by to pick up your laundry may have been cute when you were in college, but it can become pretty invasive or patronizing once you start living together.

Don’t be like the average couple who waits six years before seeking professional help. Get ahead of the curve and schedule an appointment with us today.

What to Tell Your Children When Your Marriage is Struggling

When two people choose to spend the rest of their lives together, they don’t really plan for if things go wrong.

Love is hopeful, and many of us hope our love will last a lifetime. When it starts breaking down sooner than expected, it can feel like the curtain was lifted too soon, revealing the mess we really are behind it.

If your marriage is struggling and you have children to consider, here are some tips on how to acknowledge the stress without making it their problem.

Reassure Them That Everything Is Okay

While fighting is stressful, it’s important to teach children that disagreements are normal.

Sometimes we feel passionate and raise our voices, but we do not attack or hurt each other. (Children should never have to witness any kind of emotional or physical abuse between parents. If you think they may have been exposed, help by enrolling them in counseling to cope.)

Many children fear divorce, even if there are no signs of it in the home. Fighting can fill their imagination with hypothetical scenarios of moving homes, changing schools, and losing family well before you even consider divorce. Put these thoughts to rest by reminding them they are loved and in a safe place.

Do Not Lean On Your Children For Emotional Support

Children are not appropriate confidants for parents. They are not emotionally equipped to support adults through their problems. Even if you think your child is an empathetic genius, they will always see you as the parent, the adult, the life expert.

Parents provide protection, education, and love to their children. Confiding in your child as if they’re a close friend will only weaken the confidence they have in you, leaving them feeling anxious and insecure.

Let Your Children Come Up With Their Own Family Opinions

When you break up with someone, you break up with their friends and family, too. Children of divorce are in the tricky situation of still seeing these people as family, even if you don’t. While you may want to celebrate the end of annoying in-laws, it’s best that you keep quiet around your kid.

As long as they’re not a threat, you shouldn’t deter your child from wanting a relationship with their own family. One day they may even share the same feelings you do! Let them decide without your influence.

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect, You Just Have to Be Safe

Some of us remember the first time we realized, “Oh my God. My parents don’t know everything…” If your child still looks up at you with wonder in their eyes and questions in their heart, let them. The second they witness you take the low road or crack under the pressure, their view of you will shatter.

You’re allowed to be honest with your child about the hard times you’ve been through. Children can learn a lot through stories of resilience. However, burdening them with the issues you still haven’t worked out will only leave them feeling insecure about what else you don’t know.

Divorce: How to Go Over It

Share only necessary information that directly affects the child. Provide repetitive reassurance that you both love your child and assure them you are working together so their life doesn’t change more than it has to.

Never use your children as hostages or bargaining chips while you work out the details of a divorce, regardless of their age. They’re not prizes to be won, they’re responsibilities for which we care.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to model healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms for our children. Make use of your support network, put yourself first, and when all else fails, start therapy. There is no one more qualified to help than a therapist. (Plus, we give way better advice than your 9-year-old or your ex.)

Ready to get started? Schedule an appointment today.

How Couples Can Alleviate Stress on Their Relationship

“If to change is what you need, you can change right next to me.”

As Ben Platt beautifully illustrates in his song “Grow As We Go”, you don’t need to leave a relationship just because it hits rocky waters. Our society looks up to long-lasting relationships, not because we applaud their ability to stay the same forever, but because they could make it through each other’s lifetime of changes and still find love for them.

Your entire relationship can suffer even if only one person is dealing with stress. How can you better your relationship’s chances of survival? Follow these steps to help ease stress on your relationship.

Acknowledge the Problem and the Solution

If your relationship is feeling the consequences of outside stress, it’s probably because one or all partners are acting emotionally distant. Emotional distance is when one partner shuts out the other to deal with stress outside the relationship. This is normally not done intentionally, but can have a heavy effect on the partnership.

Emotional distance can look like sleeping in separate beds, keeping conversations intellectual instead of emotional, using harsh words to cut conversations short, or being entirely silent towards the other person.

You will need to introduce functional ways to cope with stress (whether on an individual or couple’s level) to regain a sense of intimacy and romance.

Identifying Your Stressors

Having too many external stressors can interfere with a couple’s ability to communicate well, connect intimately, and resolve conflict. You can try the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale to help identify where your stress is and how stressed you are, especially if you have a bad habit of denying or downplaying your stressors.

Compare your list with your partners and see how and where they might interact.

Share How You’re Feeling with Honesty

Sit down with your partner and go over these questions:

  • How has stress affected your emotions recently?
  • What are you trying to help cope?
  • Are there any coping mechanisms that have a positive effect on this relationship?
  • Any that have a negative effect?
  • What actions will you take to cope better in the future?

Take turns answering until each partner has felt fully heard by the other. When one person finishes, re-explain what they said in your own words to make sure you understand each other correctly.

Connecting with each other in this way will help you feel lighter, like the stress isn’t all your own anymore, and it will help to know for certain that your partner is supporting you through it.

Build Psychological Resilience

Psychological resilience is our ability to bounce back from stress and trauma. Everyone has psychological resilience, but its strength varies between people. The stronger one’s psychological resilience, the better they cope with stress that arises. It’s like a muscle you can work out over time through self-awareness and practice.

Here’s a list of things you can do to enhance your psychological resiliency…

    • Reflect on your strengths and talents. Ask yourself, how am I using these strengths in my everyday life? How can I create opportunities for me to use them more often? Consider strengths assessments like VIA Strengths to identify and start building on these skills. Even better: ask your friends and family what they think your strengths are! This will also help build your sense of gratitude, which is linked to improving mental health.
    • Expand your social circle. Being socially distant can weaken your psychological resiliency, as socialization is something all humans need to survive and thrive. Think of a hobby you love doing and see how you can build community around it. You could also perform random acts of kindness—this will bring more positivity into your life and leave you feeling like you helped someone today, which contributes to your sense of purpose.
    • Acknowledge each other’s “bids”. According to Dr. John Gottman, emotional “bids” are ways we ask for attention or affirmation from our partner. These could be straight-up, like asking your partner, “Can you help me clean out the car?” or more subtle, like a sigh from across the room, indicating that they need to vent. In a study comparing couples’ first six years of marriage, the ones that stayed together answered each other’s bids 86% of the time, while couples that divorced only answered bids 33% of the time. Talking about each other’s bids is important to building a lasting, healthy relationship.

By following these steps, you can watch stress float away from your relationship like songbirds off into the sunset. Sometimes though, it helps to have an outside perspective that knows every detail. Schedule an appointment with our couples counselors in Los Gatos today for a more catered approach to building stress-coping skills as an individual or as a couple.