Signs You Need to Enforce Boundaries In Your Relationship

The word “boundaries” can often conjure up negative images. People may think about walls that keep outsiders away. There’s some truth to that, but in relationships, many of the “walls” are quite healthy. They can lead to greater closeness to your partner while enhancing your well-being. Think of it as having mutual respect, greater independence and interdependence, and clarity about expectations.

Boundaries come in many varieties (emotional, physical, sexual, and more). But even when agreed upon in advance, boundaries sometimes must be enforced. The trick is recognizing when such a dynamic is necessary. With that in mind, let’s explore a few signs.

Signs You Need to Enforce Boundaries

In Your Relationship

You Feel Unheard and Invalidated

Even in healthy relationships, couples can slip into counterproductive patterns. They begin to take each other for granted. This can leave you feeling as if you have no voice. You just go with the flow even if it seems your partner isn’t listening to you. You’ve lost confidence that things can get better so you don’t even try fixing the situation.

You Lack the Amount of Privacy You Need

Pop culture conditions us to see a “soul mate” as someone we do everything with. You tell them everything and become an open book. Not only is this unrealistic, but it doesn’t take into account that everyone sees privacy differently. If you are craving space and solitude, you may need to revisit your boundaries.

You Feel Your Partner Is Taking Advantage of You

You’ve down your guard so much — often in the name of trying to deepen your bond — that your needs are not being met. This can be happening consciously or unconsciously but it still hurts. You feel manipulated and asking for more leads you to a place of guilt.

You Just Don’t Feel Good

It’s not something you can easily name or put your finger on but something is happening. Your physical health is less than ideal, e.g. fatigue, aches, and pain. Simultaneously, your mood alternates between depressed and anxious. Nothing seems to be in balance and it’s damaging your self-esteem. Maybe the underlying problem lies within your relationship dynamics.

A Few Ways to Set and Enforce Boundaries In Your Relationship

Communication

couple talking to each other

This is your foundation. As you can see from the signs listed above, they’re built on vagueness. Something is off but you can’t always identify it. To make things more clear, you and your partner must commit to steady, face-to-face, honest communication. Don’t try to read each other’s minds. To avoid conflict and confusion, both of you should do the work to gain a deeper understanding of the other’s needs, values, beliefs, and more.

Expect and Accept Some Differences

Once again, pop culture does us no favors when it paints a happy couple as being in synch about everything. You are individuals and should be free to see and experience the world in a way that honors your autonomous spirit. This means an acceptance that not all battles are worth fighting. Perfection is a myth so your goal is to accommodate each other and respect each other’s boundaries.

Honor Each Other’s Boundaries

  • Immediately address it when your partner violates a boundary
  • Take responsibility for any time you cross a boundary
  • Develop a method for talking about issues in advance
  • When in doubt, communicate!

You Don’t Have to Figure This Out Alone

Couples therapy is a proven path to better communication. If you find that the issue of boundaries is a recurring problem, it’s best to invite an unbiased professional into the mix. Boundaries are tricky but can be managed. We’d love to help you along on this journey.

couple having a discussion

Why You Should Listen First, Without Immediately Trying to Resolve An Issue

It’s a very common scenario for couples. One of you is struggling with a problem, so you share the details with your partner. Let’s say you’re the partner hearing about the issue. You feel sympathy and concern. More than anything, you want to relieve their stress. So, you start laying out possible solutions. After all, if something is broken, the natural move is to fix it.

Despite your heart being in the right place, this can be frustrating. Your partner might be looking more for validation than suggestions. To them, being heard is the precise “solution” they need. But how were you supposed to know this?

Listening or Resolving?

If your partner’s problem is a pickle jar too tight to open, it’s common to assume resolution is the immediate goal. Unfortunately, life’s problems are rarely that obvious and simple. But if you decide you’ve done enough listening and just skip to the “fixing,” you risk making the situation more tense.

As mentioned above, you can come to the rescue simply by offering a compassionate ear. In other words, you listen and resolve at the same time. The tricky part is getting comfortable being someone whose first instinct is to listen.

How to Get Into the Habit of Listening First

To engrain a new pattern requires you to do some solo work. The ideal first step on this journey involves acceptance. Even when you feel confident that you have the exact solution to the problem, you must accept that everyone has their own way of handling a crisis. What appears logical to you can be rejected by someone else.

Generally speaking, this is not about “right” or “wrong.” So don’t let this become a contest of potential solutions. It’s far more productive to take such situations on a case-by-case basis and remain flexible and open. Here are a few concepts to keep in mind:

Validationcouple having a discussion

Your partner might come to you to talk about a conflict they had at work. They’re upset and triggered thus, it can mean the world to them to just tell the story. Tell them you’re ready to listen and then live up to that pledge. Stay focused, check your body language, and note the emotions your partner displays.

It’s tempting to analyze the story or even express a desire to tell off the co-worker in question. But careful listening is the ideal starting point. When your partner has finished replaying the incident, you can validate their frustration and then move to the next step.

Asking For Guidance

Rather than attempt mind-reading, directly ask what you can do to help. Let your partner decide if they need a hug or an immediate solution (or both). It’s their crisis, so let them control what happens next. Follow their cues and save any big-picture questions or comments for a different time.

Be Prepared

It can be tough to read the room in moments of tension. Therefore, it makes sense to plan in advance. During a moment of calm, discuss how you prefer comfort when a problem arises. Such a preemptive discussion can prevent misunderstandings in the future.

Couples Counseling is an Ideal Way to Address Such Situations

Couples’ best-laid plans often go astray. Partners get locked into patterns, and when a crisis pops up, they fall into predetermined roles. Working with a couples counselor is a proven way to address such patterns and move toward new methods of communication. When you are ready, don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more about couples therapy.

photo of a couple standing outside near trees while holding hands

Tips for Communicating With an Avoidant Partner

Each of us has an attachment style. How we connect with others as an adult has a whole lot to do with what happened during our childhood. If your primary caregiver left you feeling confused or neglected, the odds are that you’ll grow up to be an avoidant partner. You don’t want your partner to feel invalidated but you probably don’t realize you’re doing it. It’s an old and dysfunctional coping mechanism.

An avoidant attachment style is especially obvious when it comes to communication. Your partner may seem distant or unwilling to express their emotions. You sometimes feel you have no idea what they’re thinking. Well, the good news is that we can all change our attachment style!

Step 1: Rule Out Other Possibilities

Here are just a few reasons why your partner may appear avoidant but is not:

  • When your relationship is new, some people take it slowly
  • They simply might be inconsiderate
  • They’re being other people and/or don’t see your connection as “serious”
  • A lot is going on in their life and they’re overwhelmed

You must familiarize yourself with attachment theory but also, not jump to conclusions. If something feels off about your communication dynamic with a partner, talk to them. Find out more. Best of all, talk to a mental health professional. If it turns out that an avoidant style is the culprit, there are definitely steps you can take.

Tips for Communicating With an Avoidant Partner

Talk Openly About Your Past

Let your partner know how you were raised and how it may have influenced who you are today. Ask them to also share as much as they feel comfortable sharing about their childhood. During such a vulnerable conversation, practice active listening and be sure to validate any troubles they had during their earliest days.

Be a Role Model of Trust

An avoidant person has a hard time letting down their guard. They felt betrayed when they most needed intimate care and even if they desperately want to trust you, it does not come easily. Help them feel safe by showing — in word and deed — that you are here to stay. Demonstrate that you’re happy to do the work to move past communication issues to deepen your bond.

photo of a couple standing outside near trees while holding handsBe Patient

It took years or even decades for your partner to develop avoidance as a defense. Obviously, this pattern will not instantly vanish. It’s a process but you have every right to request that it involves check-in conversations. You need to know they remain committed to changing. Attending therapy together is an ideal way to make this happen.

It’s Not Just Sacrifice For You

Helping your partner reinvent their attachment style is a challenge — but well worth the effort. However, you must be sure to honor your needs as you progress. Set boundaries and talk openly about your own triggers. It can be helpful to recognize that healthy communication has no finish line. You keep working on it and evolving as a team. Again, it’s wise to ask for help.

The Role of Therapy in This Situation

Whether you start with individual or couples counseling (or both), you will find it illuminating to gain a true understanding of attachment theory. A therapist is ideally situated to offer such information while also working directly with you — and possibly your partner. Even when our patterns are counterproductive, we tend to hold on to them tightly.

Over the course of your weekly sessions, more past history can be revealed as progress happens. Committing together like this can be a powerful positive step for your relationship. Let’s talk soon about how to get started for couples therapy.

photo of a couple sitting by a body of water with a bridge in the background

How To Communicate With Your Partner If They Have ADHD

Every couple undergoes some communication issues. If your partner is diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), this will definitely be the case. Your communication style as a couple must take into account a range of ADHD-related factors. You’ll have to discover what specifically works for the two of you. There’s no blueprint for this process. However, the tips below cover enough ground to be excellent starting points.

Let’s first mention acceptance. You’ve fallen in with someone who deals with ADHD. You will have some clear differences in how you each operate. Working to accept the differences is a giant step toward enhancing your communication and your connection.

How To Communicate With Your Partner If They Have ADHD

Do Not Take It Personally

This is the most obvious and perhaps the trickiest step of all. The issues created by your partner’s ADHD diagnosis are not intentional. They can make you feel frustrated and angry but it’s not a personal attack. Seeing it that way will only complicate communication. Practice re-focusing the angry energy you feel into productive energy to find solutions. Working with a therapist can be helpful here (see below).

Remember That You’re Not Perfect

When something goes wrong during communication, you may automatically blame it on ADHD. Before doing so, check yourself. You may not have ADHD but you certainly have blind spots. Do an honest appraisal and apologize if necessary.

Pay Close Attention

When your partner interacts with you, they are probably at least a little nervous. They are aware that ADHD has caused schisms in the past. It goes a long if you give them your full focus. Face them, make eye contact, and keep your facial expressions neutral. If it isn’t a good time, calmly explain this and agree on a better time.

Also, pay close attention to what you’re feeling inside. If that edgy vibe is creeping in, notice it and manage it before it has a chance to escalate.

photo of a couple sitting by a body of water with a bridge in the backgroundChoose Softness

When you have something you need to address, ease into it. Some suggestions:

  • Trade the “you” statements for “I” statements and avoid blatant criticism
  • Avoid words and vocal inflections that take on a threatening or bullying tone
  • Stay calm and ask for clarification when necessary
  • Use affirming statements even when you disagree to make it clear that you’ve heard and processed what’s been said
  • Again, make eye contact
  • Always be respectful
  • Ask open-ended questions that leave room for disagreement

Seek Common Ground

Yes, ADHD creates differences between. But what about all the common ground that brought you together in the first place? What similarities do you have? Talk about those and put them to work. Also, agree to disagree at times. Not everything is worth a confrontation. Choose your battles carefully.

Get Creative

You don’t have to follow a textbook or roadmap. You know each other and love each other. Tap into your shared creativity and try new ideas for smoothing out the rough spots. Remind open to experimenting and keep checking in with each other.

You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers

This is inherently a challenging situation. No one should be expected to injure up all the right solutions. Rather, ask for help. Working with a couples therapist is a proven path for improving your collective communication skills. Being in a room together with an unbiased guide allows them to observe you in action and offer real-time input.

You can in a deeper understanding of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder while discussing tactics and techniques that have worked for other couples. If you or your partner has ADHD, reach out to learn more about couples therapy and how it can help all couples learn to communicate better.

couple in bed cuddling with each other

How Intimacy and Communication Are Linked

Two hallmark pillars of any healthy relationship are intimacy and communication. If a couple is strong in both of these aspects of their partnership, it’s safe to assume that their relationship is healthy. But why and how are these two factors so important? 

Both intimacy and communication play critical roles in the strength and health of any relationship, romantic or platonic. To become emotionally close, the two factors work together to create a sense of trust and understanding. But how, exactly, do they work together? Let’s review some of the most asked questions regarding intimacy, communication, and how the two work together to create a rock-solid foundation for your relationship. 

What are intimacy and communication, really? 

When it comes to understanding how concepts work together, defining is key. Communication is simple: it’s how people talk to one another. In relationships, an open and honest flow of communication is key. It’s very difficult to be in a healthy relationship with someone who does not tell the truth or otherwise does not share things. 

Intimacy is a little less straightforward. Essentially, the term intimacy encompasses the entire emotional connection between two people. It can refer to the vulnerability and trust that builds over time in a relationship. It can also refer to the physical aspect of romantic relationships, although it does not have to. Once you realize you can be open and transparent with another person without fear of judgment, you have reached very intimate levels. 

How communication works to build intimacy

Communication is a tool that is used to foster a deeper sense of intimacy between people. Without effective communication, true intimacy is incredibly hard to achieve. Through you and your partner’s communication skills, you can build trust and emotional connection. This is done through sharing things with one another and being open and honest. 

couple in bed cuddling with each otherHow intimacy allows better communication

A deep sense of intimacy also allows you and your partner to have more effective communication with one another. When you are vulnerable with another person and allow them to see all parts of you, it is much easier to have increased trust in them. This trust is also known as emotional safety. It is the sense that you know your partner will not judge you for whatever you have to say or do. 

Ways to foster intimacy and strong communication 

If you and your partner are not quite at the highest levels of emotional intimacy or deep communication, there is no need to worry. There are plenty of steps you can take to work on your communication and intimacy together. Try a few of the following steps to see how they work for you. 

  • Hone in your listening skills: Always practice active listening! Nothing damages communication more than only half listening to what your partner has to say. 
  • Ask about their day: The little things are what matters most in life. Even a quick question to show you are truly interested in your partner’s day will go a very long way. 
  • Share experiences with one another: Having shared memories creates a bond that will last a lifetime. You also will have the chance to test your relationship in different capacities.

Ultimately, every relationship looks a bit different from the other. Whether you and your partner’s intimacy looks different from your best friend’s form of intimacy is entirely up to you and what you are comfortable with. If you find that you and your partner have potentially been struggling with either intimacy or communication, then couple’s therapy may be a good route for you to take. Reach out today with any questions you may have about couples counseling.

person holding a wedding ring in their hands

How Your Marriage After Financial Infidelity

No one wants to get cheated on by their partner. However, this understandable concern is almost always limited to worries about sexual affairs or online dalliances. Did you know that infidelity can come in many forms? For example, financial infidelity is a thing and it’s probably as common as sexual infidelity. It occurs when one partner keeps secrets about their money-related activity.

Financial infidelity can cause upheaval in any relationship. Not only has emotional trust been broken, but your finances can end up a mess. It can start out as unintentional acts but eventually, one of you has to consciously deceive the other in the name of covering up their deception.

What Does Financial Infidelity Look Like?

These are typical examples and, of course, they will vary from person to person:

  • Making a purchase and not letting your partner know
  • Opening up a secret credit card and/or bank account in your name only
  • Neglecting to mention that you are in debt
  • Earning money but not telling your partner

Why Does Someone Commit Financial Infidelity?

Money is a tricky topic. We each have our own unique relationship with money and quite often, that involves issues of guilt, shame, scarcity, and secrecy. When connecting with a potential partner, you may ask them about their views on children, religion, and politics. Meanwhile, a major issue gets neglected.

It is crucial that both partners talk upfront about their financial style. When this discussion doesn’t happen, it leaves the door open for infidelity. This is not an excuse. Rather, it’s an explanation of how this scenario usually plays out. Financial infidelity, at the end of the day, is rooted in communication problems.

How to Save Your Marriage After Financial Infidelity

Couples can and usually do heal from this kind of betrayal. But this is only possible when direct communication becomes the norm. So, let’s start with some communication-related steps:

Find Out Your Partner’s Thought Process

Asking your partner to honestly explain why they committed the transgressions is a powerful way to find out what work needs to be done. This is not about accusations and confrontation. Instead, it’s a giant first step in reimagining your communication style and making your economic choices transparent.

person holding a wedding ring in their handsDiscuss Your Money Goals and Needs

If you haven’t done so before, now is the time to open up about your values when it comes to money. What are your fears, goals, and needs? How were you raised when it comes to saving and spending? This will create a foundation from which you can be more open as you move forward.

Schedule Regular Money Conversations

Do not leave anything to chance. Talk face-to-face on a regular basis to ensure that you’re both on the same financial wavelength. Review and pay bills together. Make a list of all your collective earnings. The days of full transparency are here.

Set Up Some Preventative Measures

For example, never make a large purchase without calling each other first. Of course, you must agree together on what “large purchase” means.

Create and Adhere to a Budget — Together

Make a budget together and agree that it is non-negotiable. Also, if the financial infidelity landed you in debt, create a plan together to pay it off. If you think it will help, go together to consult with a financial advisor.

Trust is the Underlying Issue

After one partner engages in financial infidelity, it can be easier to recover economically than it is to rebuild trust. You’ll probably need more than a financial counselor. Couples therapy is an excellent venue for reconnecting after a betrayal. Your weekly sessions offer continuity and guidance as you take steps to trust again. Contact us soon to begin.

couple surrounding by candles looking out at dark night sky

How Does Online Couples Therapy Work?

Before we can answer the question posed in the title above, it’d help to ask: How does couples therapy help? It’s a version of psychotherapy designed for people in a romantic relationship. They may have a specific issue they wish to address. In other cases, they want to improve their relationship in a more general sense.

Each couples therapist, of course, will have their own approach but the general concept is universal. You’re not there for individual counseling. Rather, you and the therapist are working together to treat the relationship. A recent survey found that 97 percent of couples who tried this kind of therapy reported getting the help they needed.

Why Online Couples Therapy?

As with so many aspects of life today, online couples therapy is akin to a video meeting. You can choose the telephone but the vast majority of couples opt for the video option. Some of the many reasons why people may choose teletherapy include:

  • They’re partners but they do not live together
  • Busy, incompatible schedules
  • Lacking access to an in-person therapist in their geographical area
  • Privacy (not wanting to risk running into someone at the therapy office)
  • One or both partners have an illness, injury, or disability

How Does Online Couples Therapy Work?

In most cases, it’s a virtual version of in-person couples therapy. Problems and their underlying roots are identified. Negative patterns are exposed. Together with their therapist, the couples set collective goals. The therapist uses standardized tools to assess progress and direct focus and attention.

The fact that this takes place online doesn’t change the traditional model. Using video allows the therapist to perceive important cues in gestures, tone, body language, and more. Once everyone has settled into the digital format, the sessions have a rhythm and tone of their own.

A Few Reasons to Not Choose Online Couples Therapy

  • When one partner feels uncomfortable in the home
  • If domestic violence is present in the household
  • When one partner feels strongly about being in an in-person therapy setting
  • If circumstances in the home (noise, lack of privacy, etc.) can sabotage your efforts
  • The couple is not knowledgeable enough to handle the technological aspects (or if their equipment is not reliable)
  • If the process of doing this online causes distrust or distress to either partner

couple surrounding by candles looking out at dark night skyAdvantages of Online Couples Therapy

  • Convenience: There’s no commute and no need to pick out an outfit or put on makeup. This dramatically shortens the time commitment without compromising the quality of care.
  • Scheduling: Since you’re not limited by strict office hours, you may be able to meet on a day and time that is atypical of any type of medical appointment.
  • Privacy: As touched on above, there’s no concern about running into someone on your way or even in the waiting room.
  • Comfort: Your therapist gets to see you on your home field. No matter what, people can assume a certain presentation when meeting in a therapy office. At home, however, you can show your therapist more of who you are.
  • Application: Part of couples therapy is learning new skills. Doing this in a setting where those skills will be more often applied can be empowering. This can streamline the process from skill acquisition to skill application.
  • Normalcy: For nearly three years, video meetings have quickly become the norm. Transferring this reality into the realm of therapy has never been easier or felt more normal.

Will Online Couples Therapy Be the Game-Changer For Your Relationship?

There’s only one way to find out. Couples therapy has never been more available and accessible. You know the basics now. What not follow up by giving us a call so we can talk.

mixed race couple hugging one another lovingly

Is There More Conflict In A Multicultural Marriage?

Almost 20 percent of married people in the U.S. have a spouse of a different ethnicity or race. About 50 years ago, that number was three percent. It wasn’t until 1967 that interracial marriages were legally allowed in many states. In other words, so much change has happened and continues to happen. But, amidst the celebration, what does this mean on a minor level? How do individuals fare in this more inclusive world?

More people are embracing different religions, identities, and cultures but this does not negate the inherent challenges of a committed, long-term relationship. Could it be that multicultural marriages face more strife?

All Marriages Involve Conflict

Marital conflict is inevitable. The words “for better or for worse” are not window dressing. Couples that accept this reality are best positioned to navigate the ups and downs. So, to be clear, cross-cultural connections are not the cause of conflict. It’s inaccurate and unfair to blame this relatively new trend. However, multicultural marriages do face issues and problems that other relationships don’t.

Conflicts Unique to Multicultural Marriages

Hostility, Judgment, and Worse

Things have changed but meanwhile, racism still thrives in some people and institutions. Such folks cannot bear the thought or sight of multicultural couples. They make their toxic opinions known through methods like:

  • Public comments, stares, insults, etc.
  • Online intimidation
  • Stereotyping
  • Seemingly innocent comments and questions that add up over time

Isolation

When you start dating someone of a different race, you also get to learn more about the people in your life. This will be an enlightening experience. It may also bring heartbreak. Family members and/or close friends may reject you. Being cut off from folks you once relied on can result in feelings of loneliness and isolation. In turn, this adds strain to your marriage.

mixed race couple hugging one another lovingly

Holidays and Traditions

These are areas that notoriously create stress within families. But this is more than where you eat on Thanksgiving. It could be about what you eat on a holiday or if you even celebrate that holiday at all. This conflict often bleeds into differences when it comes to traditions. Few people are fine with giving up rituals they’ve engaged in since childhood. Multicultural couples typically do more compromising than other sets of spouses.

Raising Children

All of the above combine when and if you decide to start a family. Even the friends and family members who’ve been accepting will be voicing opinions. At the same time, you and your partner will be engaging in plenty of long and possibly contentious discussions on topics like:

  • Schooling
  • Wardrobe
  • Religion
  • Holidays and traditions
  • Identity

So, Does This Mean There is More Conflict in a Multicultural Marriage?

No matter what, this will vary depending on the people involved. Still, it might be safe to say that multicultural couples face more potential for conflict. They have all the usual stuff — the arguments over money, communication, sex, household chores, and so on. They also have the stuff highlighted above (and that is hardly a comprehensive list).

There’s a more productive and positive way to state. Multicultural marriages have more opportunities to commit to growth. They will be challenged more often than other couples and this opens the door for them to evolve and deepen their bond. Committing to couples therapy is an excellent and proven path toward such goals.

Let’s Talk About the Conflict and Challenges You Face

You’re not alone in this struggle. A therapist who understands these issues can be critical to you both finding healthy ways to thrive and move forward. If you are in a multicultural marriage, I’d love to chat with you soon. Let’s connect soon for a free and confidential consultation for couples therapy.

Anxiety Over A Relationship Is Common: How To Help Manage This

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. Relationship-related anxiety is normal. Everyone experiences it. That said, it can transform into dysfunction if not addressed. Relationship anxiety can also cause you to unconsciously sabotage your connection. You feel so anxious that you begin to imagine that breaking up is the only source of relief. Picking fights or testing boundaries might be a sign that anxiety is the culprit.

But there is good news. Anxiety over a relationship is common and very much can be managed. The first step is to identify its presence in your life.

A Few Common Signs of Relationship Anxiety

If relationship anxiety is normal, how can we tell when it has crossed the line into something more serious? Here are a few red flags to watch for?

Doubting Your Partner’s Feelings For You

You’ve both said, “I love you.” You’ve committed to being a couple. Yet… there is a nagging doubt. Does she really love me? What does it mean when he looks at me a certain way? If all is going reasonably well, this is not normal anxiety.

Fearing a Break-Up

Every couple has rough patches, disagreements, and conflicts. If such situations cause you to fully believe you’re about to be dumped, anxiety may be ruling the day.

Planning a Break-Up

Do you spend a lot of time and energy looking for reasons to break up? Those reasons might not exist but anxiety sure does. Thus, as mentioned above, you view splitting up as more palatable than living under so much stress.

Over-Thinking

This includes:

  • Overanalyzing everything your partner says and does
  • Needing constant reassurance
  • Comparing your relationship to other couples
  • Not trusting, e.g. checking their phone, etc.

If any of this sounds even remotely familiar, you must immediately address it. The longer you wait, the harder it is to manage relationship anxiety.

4 Ways to Manage Relationship Anxiety

1. Accept the Situation Without Shame

Relationships are challenging. If you feel into a pattern of anxiety, accept it. But do without self-shaming. Be honest with yourself and your partner and accept the need to make changes. This is an excellent opportunity to work together as a team.

2. Identify Your Triggers

Displaying anxiety of any kind can often be an outward sign of a deeper issue. Do the work to identify:

  • What external behaviors cause you to act in an anxious manner
  • The root issues that created this cycle

3. Enhance Communication Skills

So much of your anxiety is probably triggered by you wondering “what if.” Commit together with your partner to improve your individual and collective communication skills. The more often, more directly, and more frequently you talk in person, the less likely that misunderstandings occur.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Relationship anxiety can be driven by regrets about the past or fear of the future. Meanwhile, the present moment is where we all live. Mindfulness practice guides us to stay present. In this state, it is much easier to appreciate your relationship as it is happening.

Getting Help for Relationship Anxiety

Anxiety is the most commonly diagnosed mental health issue in the world. You are not alone but you may not be able to manage it alone. That’s why so many people choose to heal from anxiety via therapy. Working one-on-one with a skilled therapist is a proven path toward recovery.

Your weekly sessions are the ideal setting for recognizing patterns and causes. From there, you are better positioned to discover new approaches and solutions. You can absolutely thrive in your relationship so please do not hesitate to ask for help. We’d love to support you on this journey with couples therapy.

3 Ways to Improve Communication When You Are in a Neurodivergent Relationship

Not everyone sees and experiences the world the same. If this difference is due to neurological reasons, that person is called “neurodivergent.” Common examples include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, the list is much longer than that. Roughly one in seven people are neurodivergent.

With the percentage being that high, it’s not unusual for a neurodivergent person to connect in a relationship with a neurotypical person. Like every relationship, there will be challenges. In this instance, perhaps the biggest hurdle is communication. With that in mind, let’s explore some ways to improve that important element of any couple’s life.

Communication Struggles in a Neurodivergent Relationship

In many ways, this section can be summed up with the phrase “speaking different languages.” Each partner sees the world through a different lens. This is definitely not a deal-breaker but it requires special focus.

Unless both of you commit to the work, it’s likely that at least one of you will feel unheard or invalidated. This can result in resentment and emotional distance. Thus, it’s essential that you recognize your differences and put in the effort to connect.

Communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship. Prioritizing this skill is a powerful step toward strengthening your bond. And remember, there is no finish line. Communication is an ongoing process that evolves as you do and as circumstances change. There is no secret formula except doing the work. Here are some tips to help you along that road.

3 Ways to Improve Communication When You Are in a Neurodivergent Relationship

1. Be Aware of Timing

Not every time is a good time to communicate — especially about weighty topics. Work together to identify times that feel compatible and productive. Over time, you can create routines to allow consistency to guide you. Many neurodivergent thrive with routines.

Another way timing plays a role is in not letting small problems fester. Express your feelings early and often. Suppressing difficult emotions may prevent an uncomfortable discussion now but will almost always result in a major disagreement later.

2. Be Clear

Do not expect your partner to intuitively know what you mean, feel, need, and want. Even if you’re soul mates, you need clarity. This usually means you can’t rely solely on nuance, body language, or implications. Something like sarcasm or metaphor can be misread or missed entirely.

Everyone has their own lens and framework for communication. Take the time to learn how your partner clicks. Take the time to share with your partner about yourself. And put a strong emphasis on clarity.

3. Be Ready to Learn

When a misunderstanding occurs, it can lead either or both of you to immediately expect the worst. This is a crisis, after all… right? Sure, all couples have rough patches but not every disagreement is cause for panic. In fact, you can agree to work together to see such scenarios as teaching moments.

If you choose to stay curious and compassionate, there is so much to learn. Differing viewpoints are a chance to broaden your horizons. Hearing your partner out during an argument is an opportunity to deepen your knowledge about them. The more you learn, the fewer misunderstandings you have.

Couples Therapy is Proactive

You do not have to wait for a crisis to emerge to seek guidance. A neurodivergent couple can work proactively to prevent many of the more common pitfalls. Connecting with a skilled, unbiased therapist early in your relationship is a proven path toward easing the challenges.

If you’re in a neurodivergent couple, I invite you to reach out soon for couples therapy. Let’s schedule you for a free and confidential consultation.