couples playbook

The Couples Playbook

Written by Rob Giltner, MAMFT

The process of self-soothing is extremely important.

  • When an individual feels flooded (emotionally overwhelmed) she/he may begin to have over 90bpm and it makes it very difficult to listen to understand, offer empathy, and dialogue. This may then result in stonewalling, criticism, and defensiveness.
  • Antidote to flooding is self-soothing. Being aware that you are flooded and that your partner might be flooded is the first step to avoid causing damage in a relationship.
    • What triggers you and your partner to feel flooded?
    • What ways does your partner soothe?
    • What is something your partner does that soothes you?
  • Couples who soothe are extremely more likely to come back to the argument and discuss the problem in a rational and gentle way leading to a solution.
    • Steps to manage flooding:
      • Being mindful
      • Pause
      • Soothe
      • Ask for a Break (not avoidance)
      • Come back to the problem

The act of accepting bids.

  • Couples have small moments throughout the day that build up and can “make or break” a relationship.
  • Bids are bids for connection.
    • Ex. Come sit with me while I read.
    • Do you love me?
    • Is it cold in here?
    • What do you think of this outift?
    • Look at this meme.
    • That cooking class looks fun.
    • I am so tired.
    • Did you see that?
    • I am fine.
  • Couples need to accept influence to accept the bid.
    • Accepting, understanding, and allowing your partners perspective, feelings, and needs into your decision-making process as a couple.
    • Find the emotion in the bid and turn towards.
  • Managing failed bids.
  • Couples must repair after failed bids because small moments can create lasting scars. Ex. A partner might be feeling lately that her partner is annoyed or frustrated towards her. She offers a bid to connect to feel valued. If her partner is not aware of the bid it has failed and she may be left feeling rejected and not important and that feeling can grow.
    • The Script to repair after failed bids:
      • Understand your partners subject reality. (Both partners have their own subject reality)
      • Communicate your understanding, make meaning of it.
      • Admit some role.
      • Offer empathy.
    • Ask follow up questions:
      • How have I/we been expressing needs for loneliness?
      • How have I/we been expressing needs to be alone?
      • Is there a better way I/we can express needs?
      • Is there a conversation we need to have but have not?
  • Understand the triggers
    • Events related to influence.
    • Events related to acceptance.
    • Events related to affection.
  • Triggers that go unnoticed can grow into emotional wounds that can corrupt relationships.
  • Find the “seeds” (dreams within conflict) to heal wounds.

Before We Abuse: 5 Ways To Handle The Quarantine

Written by Chris Davis, MSSW, LMFT

Stress at home is not a new thing. We all experience a regular amount of tension, conflict and stress on a daily basis. Being a loving, patient, caring partner and/or parent can feel like a full-time job. When the stress gets too high, and we find ourselves without coping skills, the slippery slope from conflict to abuse can happen all too quickly.

If this scenario is all too common during “normal” life, the “new normal” of isolation and quarantine from the coronavirus has compounded the difficulties of managing conflict in households. Combine this likelihood with the fact that abuse hotlines and state child/adult services were already overwhelmed, and the potential problems multiply exponentially. In fact, statistics from all over the world are showing a definite increase in reported abuse. It does need to be clearly stated: If abuse has happened or is presently occurring to you or someone you know, those incidents have to be reported. Anyone who suspects, or is aware of abuse, can and should report it. While services may be overwhelmed, actions can still be taken to help those in danger.

So, what can be done prior to abuse? This article is intended to provide some awareness and options to those who find themselves on the edge of committing abuse. By taking important steps before getting to the point of no return, you can choose an alternative path. While options may be limited, there are steps that can be taken to lower the risk of domestic violence and child abuse. Below are five options that can lower the risk of abuse and provide tools for those that find themselves on the brink of doing or saying that will damage those they love.

1. Get Help

While it may not be possible to see a therapist in-office right now, telehealth is a perfect solution to get the assistance you need before things spiral out of control. Telehealth has proven to be a perfect solution for the times we all find ourselves in when we need counsel. Reach out to a therapist or schedule an appointment here to get started:

2. Stay Connected

We may not be able to have all the social interactions we’re so used to, there are alternatives to stay connected with family and friends. FaceTime, Zoom, Skype and a host of other options are available to stay connected to friends and family. Reach out and be real with the struggles you are having and the fears you have about what you may say or do if you can’t de-stress.

Click here to read the full article!

toxic positivity

When the Dust Settles: Avoiding Gaslighting, Toxic Positivity, & External Validation

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

In Julio Vincent Gambuto’s brilliant article, “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting” we see that the treadmill we’ve been on for a decade has abruptly stopped. When life returns to “normal” or some semblance of a “new normal” the economy is going to need a huge boost and we will be sold a lie that we need stuff to soothe ourselves from the trauma we’ve experienced due to COVID-19.

Gambuto’s article refers to Gaslighting as: “Manipulation into doubting your own sanity.” The example he gives is, “Carl made Mary think she was crazy, even though she clearly caught him cheating. He gaslit her.”

The last several weeks of realizing that the treadmill is broken and there’s no way we’re ever getting back on it has been a traumatic experience whether we realize it yet or not. While we’re “in” the traumatic experience we go into survival mode (fight, flight, or freeze) to get through it. It’s not until the trauma has stopped and things go ‘back to normal” that we begin to see the effects of trauma unfold.

Most of us are quite resilient and will recover from the isolation of this pandemic just fine. Some of us will be shaken up for a while and need help getting our bearings. If this is you, therapy can be extremely helpful. Look for a wonderful therapist who will validate your experience and allow you to move beyond it as you are ready. Don’t get caught up in toxic positivity which forces you to think that if you aren’t “staying positive” something’s wrong with you. That’s a load of shit. You are human and your moods are watery, shifting and changing with the tides. A good therapist helps you make friends with the ocean so you can navigate it and find the balance that is best for you in each new moment as you ride the wave of life.

Click here to read the full article!