Archive of ‘Relationships’ category

Leaning In and Letting Go

This past week at yoga, the instructor said, “Where in your practice are you resisting or rigid in ways that are not serving you well? Blam. These words really hit home for me- not just in my yoga practice, but in my life.

Jennifer Alley, LPC

As I noticed my tense muscles and began focused relaxing and leaning into the pose, I also quickly realized that any tension in relationships I am currently experiencing, any interpersonal difficulties, resentments, or stresses that I am ruminating on, tend to be very related to my own ideas about how things “should”be, how others “ought”to be, or ideas that I am holding onto that are making life more painful and stressful for me.

After the class and since then, I have tried to think about my relationships in new ways, asking myself: Where can I let go? What beliefs or ideas are inhibiting or hindering my relationships with people I love and care about? What “shoulds”are keeping me from being humble and open-minded to people and relationships that I tend to have more difficulty with? In what areas is my need and desire to control failing and making life much more painful for me (and for others)?

As I work on this, I feel somehow freer, lighter, more able to lean in to others and less stressed with managing outcomes or relationships. I am purposed to check in daily with myself to notice my feelings, to pay attention to the tension and beliefs or ideas that are behind the resistance. I am going to try to lean in to the discomfort, letting the rigidity and desire to hold on go, deepening my ability to be vulnerable, more authentic, and open-hearted in my relationships with others.

Suggested questions for journaling/meditating on:

  • What people/situations tend to be most difficult for me?
  • What are my beliefs/ideas about this person/situation/conflict?
  • What are my feelings about this person/situation/conflict?
  • What are my fears regarding this person/situation/conflict?
  • What is my personal agenda/ what do I want to have happen?
  • What am I holding on to that is not helping me or my relationships with others?
  • What beliefs/ideas/agendas could I let go of that would be helpful?
  • Are there ways that I can “lean in” or “let go”?
  • Is there someone that I can share my feelings/fears with?

“Letting go is hard, but sometimes holding on is harder.” ~Unknown



Family Time in the School Year

girl swinging pic

It seems like the middle of summer but the next school year is right around the corner. As you stock up on pencils, paper and other supplies, it is a good time to set family goals and have important conversations about finding balance this year.

School often brings with it extracurricular activities, homework, endless laundry, and large to do lists. It is easy for family time to be replaced with children playing sports, studying, and attending birthday parties and other social events while parents hustle to run errands, keep up with housework and their career, and shuttle their kids from place to place.

Because there are only so many hours in a day, something has to give. And all too often, it is family time together. Uninterrupted, device-less, quality time is a precious commodity these days. But maybe this year, you and your family can be intentional about making it a necessity.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider it:

  • Children whose parents are involved are less likely to engage in risky behaviors and are more likely to do better in school.
  • Families are better able to adapt to challenging situations if they are emotionally close.
  • Children whose mother communicates frequently with them (listening, answering questions, and talking) are more likely to perform well academically.
  • Children whose father spends time with them doing activities tend to have better academic success, as well.
  • Adolescents whose parents are involved in their lives tend to exhibit fewer behavioral problems.
  • Youth who participate in activities with their parents and have close relationships with them are less likely to engage in violence.
  • Eating dinner together frequenting reduces the risk of substance abuse for teens.
  • Adolescents whose parents are home with them after school and during the evening hours are less likely to experience emotional distress.

Spending time together doesn’t have to be costly or elaborate. Often, it is more about the frequency of checking in, talking with one another, eating meals together, playing games or playing outside with one another, and other low-stress activities that help family members bond the most. Now is a good time, before it all begins again, to sit down and talk about setting up regular rituals and routines for connecting with one another and committing to make family time a priority this year.

Keeping Your Relationship Alive

After having our first child this past summer and experiencing a series of life transitions and stressors, I became keenly aware of the impact these events had on my relationship with my husband. While we used to spend much of our free time playing and enjoying each other’s company, connecting through conversation and shared interests, our relationship quickly shifted into almost one of a business- complete with to do lists, caring for our daughter, and navigating the challenges at hand.

Certainly, we still loved and cared deeply for one another, and we both are very committed to our relationship. However, the stress was taking its toll on the fun side of our partnership, and it was easy (especially with little sleep and lots to do) to be short with one another and to put our relational happiness off until things calmed down.

We soon realized, however, that things would likely not slow down anytime soon. And, we both enjoy being connected and having warmth in our relationship. We also recognized that we were neglecting our individual and family self care plans, which include exercising, connecting with friends, and making time for spirituality. In addition to   incorporating more of these activities, we also began practicing a principal that my husband deems one of the most important lessons of having a successful partnership: being gentle with one another.

The truth is, life can often be full of stressors and challenges. And having children certainly is a major transition. But a relationship can still thrive if both partners are committed to nurturing their relationship and intentional about practicing their love for one another.

couple embrace in keeping their relationship alive

In thinking about thriving relationships, I was reminded of Gottman’s Five Magic Hours. Marriage researcher John Gottman found that couples in positive relationships invest an extra five hours each week in their marriage in fairly specific ways (even though it may look different for each couple). Following are his tips for incorporating the magic 5 hours into your relationship:

Using the MAGIC 5 Hours to Help Keep Your Relationship Alive

1) Partings: Before you leave in the morning, be sure you have learned at least one thing that is happening in your partner’s life that day.

Time: 2 minutes/day x 5 working days= 10 minutes

2) Reunions: Engage in a stress-reducing conversation at the end of each work day.

Time: 20 minutes/day x 5 working days= 1 hour 40 minutes

3) Admiration and Appreciation: Each day, communicate genuine affection and appreciation toward your partner.

Time: 5 minutes/day x 7 days= 35 minutes

4) Affection: Hug, kiss, hold, and touch each other during the time you are together. Remember to kiss before you go to sleep. If possible, try to let go of irritations that have built up over the day.

Time: 5 minutes/day x 7 days= 35 minutes

5) Weekly Date: This can be a relaxing, low pressure way to stay connected. Ask one another questions that help you know one another better and turn toward each other.

Time: 2 hours/week= 2 hours

Grand total: 5 hours!

Certainly, relationships will go through ups and downs as issues arise and life happens. However, by intentionally incorporating some of Gottman’s tips, remembering to be flexible with one another, appreciating each other as evolving human beings, supporting one another’s dreams and goals, and being kind to one another can help keep your relationship stay alive even when things get really tough. It can also be helpful to seek out marriage or family counseling for additional support.


“Love doesn’t commit suicide. We have to kill it. Though, it often simply dies of our neglect.” ~Diane Sollee

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