How to Build Emotional Connection in Your Daily Life

How to Build Emotional Connection: Increase Intimacy  by Looking at the Destructive Patterns in Your Relationship   What increases intimacy in the bedroom? The intimacy outside the bedroom. There can be intimacy in your daily life, and there should be to have a healthy relationship. Most people who come to me with relationship problems have this problem. The intimacy is not there daily, which, in return, causes their sex life to suffer. Let’s focus on the importance of changing your approach, with the result being increasing intimacy. A lot of people are in the weeds of their relationship. They’re very focused on the details and daily life routines, and they’re not stepping back and thinking about the destructive patterns that have developed over the years. Almost everyone who comes to see me has these destructive patterns. The arguments aren’t all separate things. If you look closely at a broader angle, you’ll see that the patterns are similar. If you can get ahold of a pattern, all you need to do is change one part of the pattern, and all of the arguments that fall in the pattern change, often for the better, and this is how to build intimacy in your daily life. Take a look now at the patterns that you contribute to the destructive patterns in your relationship to increase emotional connection.  Think about the arguments you’ve had in the past. Are you the one who backs down, let’s things go, doesn’t want to approach anything because it might get ugly or tense? Are you avoiding confrontation? Or are you the go-getter, “I’m not letting that go, I’m going to tackle this, I’m going to prove my point,”- are you that person? Do your arguments tend to start with you making your point? If you’re that person, this is a pattern that may be destructive in your relationship. The key is, people tend to idealize one of these approaches. Typically, one partner idealizes one, and the other partner idealizes the other. Which one are you? If you’re the one who’s the passive one, you must see that, sometimes, passivity isn’t the best choice. Avoiding confrontation and aggression is not the key to a happy relationship. There are times to be passive, but there are also times to be aggressive, constructively. Constructive Aggression Constructive aggression includes going for a gold medal, asking for a raise, swerving to avoid a …

family issues causing stress

Family Issues: Tension Between Your Parents and Your Spouse

Should You Choose Your Family or Your Relationship? How to Resolve Family Issues Between Your Parents and Your Spouse Let me start with a story about a good guy trying to do right by the people he loved… “Tony” came from a great family and was happily married. Tony loved his parents and his siblings; he loved his wife and his kids. He was a lucky guy. So it drove him nuts that whenever he and his wife spent time with his family, they ended up fighting the entire drive home—she didn’t like their comments about the kids or the gifts they gave or the unhealthy food. Whatever happened during the visit, his wife would find a way to be unhappy about it. Tony felt the pressure of what felt like family issues. He remembers finally yelling at her, overcome with rage. “It’s so unfair— you actually make me dread spending time with them.” He just wanted everyone to be happy. And more often than not, we’re just like Tony. We want the best for the people we love. So why does his dilemma seem so impossible to resolve? The issue wasn’t that Tony didn’t love his parents or his wife enough. The issue wasn’t that his wife was unreasonable. The problem wasn’t even that his parents were at fault. The issue was that Tony wasn’t prioritizing his marriage over his relationship with his family, which in return, was causing the family issues. I see the same conflict play out every week in my practice. Regardless of the specifics of a situation, I tell my patients that to resolve this conflict; we must remember two truths: 1. If we want to keep our marriage, our marriage must always come first. 2. We don’t owe our parents anything. My patients can’t help but argue with me. They say, “But Dr. Dabney … “ … my parents did so much for me. I don’t want to seem ungrateful.” “ … my parents are getting older. They need my help.” “ … I don’t want to be mean.” “ … I don’t want them to think I don’t love them.” “ … they’ll make me feel guilty.” “ … it’s expected of me.” “ … that’s just how things are in our family.” “ … they don’t mean the things they say.” “ … my wife just misinterprets everything.” “ … she just …

How to Build Intimacy

Three forms of intimacy and how to build intimacy Intimacy outside the bedroom- It’s a whole new frontier for some people. That is kind of sad and important because intimacy outside the bedroom is what makes intimacy in the bedroom better, or there at all. Some people come in, and they complain that they aren’t having intimacy in the bedroom, but there isn’t any intimacy in their relationship, period. I’m going to share with you three forms of intimacy and how to build intimacy.   1. Do things together. This may sound obvious. It’s all over social media, movies, etc…- you see a happy couple, and they’re doing something together. People get busy. You work and your significant other works, you come home, and someone is making dinner and someone watching TV or with the kids. He’s on his phone; she’s watching a movie. And then they wonder where the intimacy is, or they think it’s okay because they’re going to have a date night. Then something happens, the babysitter can’t watch the kids, you’re too tired to go out, so the date night gets canceled.  Doing something together doesn’t have to be sex, or it doesn’t even have to be talking, it can be anything. If you think about things that you do that you can invite your significant other to join you or can you join your significant other. Something as simple as getting ready in the morning, can you go to the bathroom and get ready at the same time? It doesn’t have to be an in-depth conversation to be intimate. It can be just hanging out together. What if your significant other is cooking, and you go in there and offer to be the taste tester or to chop up some vegetables, or sit and have a glass of wine together while she’s cooking.  There’s a lot of different ways you can hang out together to increase intimacy. It doesn’t have to be a big production; it doesn’t have to involve a babysitter — just time hanging out together. You’ll be amazed at how much that can help out, one little change. 2. Are you an avoider of confrontation? Most people divide themselves up into avoiders of confrontation or ones who dive head-on into a confrontation. No one likes confrontation. I’ve never had anyone come to me and say, “I like confrontation.”  If you’re the action avoider …

surviving the holidays with family

3 Fact-based Strategies for Surviving the Holidays

Right around this time, every year, my clients’ lives begin to churn with guilt and stress, and they wonder how surviving the holidays is possible. My clients’ tell me about all the extra stuff they “have to” do to get ready for the holidays. They tell me about the family traditions they’ve already begun to dread. They say they wish they could enjoy the holidays more. Then they chastise themselves as being “bad” people for feeling that way. Let me say here the same thing I say to each of them: The only way to enjoy the holidays is to do what fulfills you. When you start with a sense of obligation (a “have to”), that leads to guilt, which, in turn, leads directly to resentment. The way to beat what I call this Obligation-Guilt-Resentment cycle is by adapting three crucial strategies: 1. Take care of yourself first. There’s a reason the airlines tell us to put on our oxygen masks before helping others. When we’re tired or fed up or angry or emotionally exhausted, it becomes difficult (if not impossible) to show care to those around us. Sure, I’ve had plenty of clients who think they do an excellent job of hiding their feelings about the holidays, but in nearly every case, they’ve discovered that their loved ones did know they were unhappy. Kids say, “Dad’s always a grump at Christmas,” or their spouse says, “We have a major fight just after Thanksgiving every year, without fail.” If you don’t want to ruin the holidays for those around you, you’re going to have to get good at making sure you take the time to do the stuff that you enjoy, this is the first key to surviving the holidays. 2. Accept that there are no “bad” feelings. It’s okay to dislike going to your mother-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving every year. Hate the meatballs that have been a family tradition since before you were born? That’s okay. It’s even okay not to enjoy playing host to people you love. The only way to discover happiness is first to identify and acknowledge your other, sometimes uncomfortable feelings. The truth is, emotions don’t make us bad; actions do. Feeling so angry at someone that you want to punch them doesn’t make you a violent person; punching them makes you violent. So, accept the fact that you hate spending $2500 to fly your …

3 Ways to be Intimate Without Being Physical

3 Ways to be Intimate Without Being Physical   Intimacy inside of the bedroom is important. When most people come to see me about relationship problems, it’s because they have not mastered ways to be intimate without being physical. I want to share three tips that I give most people in couples counseling or if they come alone and have relationship problems. Don’t forget; you can go alone if your significant other doesn’t want to participate. I’m sharing three essential tips that work hand in hand with increasing sexual intimacy. If you can nail ways to be intimate without being physical, it gives a great launching pad to a good sex life. Tip 1. Watching the patterns to see where you can break them. One thing that I find surprising when people come in to talk about their relationship problems is that they have some trouble getting stuck in the facts of who is right and wrong, the proof, and all the details. The first thing I do is encourage people to step up and out and look at the dynamics going on because you can get a lot of information by doing that. When I encourage people to do that, what I’m looking for is patterns. If there is a pattern going on, you need to disrupt part of the pattern (your part), and the whole pattern changes. Typically, if you look at an argument and you examine many of your arguments, you’ll find the same pattern. Example: I had a patient who was very frustrated at the pattern happening in his relationship. When he would talk about something difficult, his wife would shut down. She would stop talking or give in. She would agree with him, agree to do things his way, and he took that at face value. But then, she would talk under her breath, and he would get distraught. He would ask his wife what she said, and she would respond by saying, “nothing.” So this turned into an argument of whether she said something or not. His question to me was, “how do I stop her from doing that? I’ve asked, I’ve begged. I’ve demanded she won’t change.” Shockingly, people don’t change because we want them to. What I did was, encourage him to change. We started back to the beginning of the pattern. Which is where he said, “what did you say?” I …