10 Ways to Improve Your Marriage While in Quarantine

One of the best ways to improve your relationship is to have fun together. The more diverse the activities you experience together, the more you learn about each other and grow your admiration for one another. When you are stuck at home, one way to expand your activities is to get creative OUTSIDE. Obviously we all have different places we live, but being in quarantine does not necessarily mean you have to stay in your house, at least in Georgia where I live. Getting outside provide you Vitamin D from the sun that will help boost your mood. It will provide you fresh air and room to move. Also, it gets you away from those screens that we all have our eyes glued to. When you get away from screen time you invite activities that help to release energy and stress.

Here is my list of 10 activities that everyone of us can do outdoors:

  1. Exercise: Running, walking, push-ups, squats, dancing, jumping, and many other exercises can help with releasing that pent up stress. It also allows you to release endorphins that help you to feel good. Think about how productive you will feel. Can you imagine how awesome you would feel if you used your free time to get back into that exercise routine that you failed at after New Year’s? It’s fortunately warming up and all exercise can be done, OUTSIDE! Another benefit is a boost in self-esteem when you achieve that “beach body” we all desire.
  2. Throwing a ball or a frisbee: My wife and I every now and then will find a place to throw a ball of some sort or a frisbee. I love it! I enjoy the competition we create, and I love the thrill on her face when I don’t throw so well and she still catches it. But wait, isn’t this exercise too? YES SIR! All the benefits from exercise still exists.
  3. Water activities: Wash your car, create a slip and slide, get a little mini pool or just douse each other with water balloons or buckets of water. Water makes summer fun, so who says we can’t go ahead and bring it out of hibernation. It’s warm enough, and even if it’s not, remember that exercise we talked about? If you do some of that first, you will be warm enough to play in water.
  4. Sidewalk Chalk: My kids love this! Since my son was old enough to draw, we have been chalking up our driveway. He likes to draw roads, houses and football stadiums. Remember Hop Scotch? I like these new “stain glass” chalk drawings that people are doing too. Art is a great way to use your mind and creativity. It also gets you our of the house.
  5. Garden: Now for some people this might be hard if you are in an apartment. However, you probably can still garden in some way. If you go out in the parking lot with a bucket, dirt, seeds and water, you can plant you a small plant, or flowers. Others of you who have even a small yard can create a garden or plant flowers. We bought some small wild flower seeds and a planter from Walmart and are now watching them grow.
  6. People Watch: It’s an old past time that none of us do much anymore. We don’t take the time to slow down and just sit. I know all of us are at home, but I bet if you find some green space, there will be people to watch. Go sit on a bench or lay a mat out and take the time to be curious about people and behavior.
  7. Picnics: Along with the people watching, bring along a lunch. Eat out side on your back porch. My kids love it when I say we can “have a picnic.” This activity combines sunshine, fresh air, food and people watching.
  8. Bird Watching: This is for the curious at heart. Find a bird book and go see how many different types of birds you can find together. You will be amazed at the thrill you will feel when you both spot a bird and can name it. I know I sound like a nerd, but it is fun and stimulating.
  9. Talk to your neighbors: Who ever said we couldn’t get out and see people? If you are standing outside, 6 feet, 10 feet, 20 feet away, it is probably unlikely you will catch COVID-19. And when was the last time you spoke to your neighbor, or even met them? Humans are social beings. Say hello, be curious and start up a conversation. Ask them how they are fairing and how their life has changed since all this started. Get to know them and you may have just made new friends with another couple.
  10. Prayer Walk: I know, this one is probably not one you were expecting. Out of so much more I could talk about. There are so many activities you could do and I would love to list them all, but walking and praying together is a great way to experience deeper understanding and connection with each other. Even if you don’t believe in God, maybe their is a way you do this differently. Couples are meant to connect on a deeper level to grow their relationship, and during this time, we need to believe in something more than ourselves.

I hope these 10 suggestions help. I know their are a lot more and if you think of more, share them with others. I just want to jog your thoughts to help you be open to the many outdoor activities that we can experience together, even when our world is turned upside down. I even encourage you to find some that you will continue when or if everything returns to normal. It’s more about connecting with each other than it is about the actual activity.

 

If you want to check out the original blog post for this series GO HERE!

If you have questions or have concerns about your relationship, please call me at 706-955-0230 or EMAIL ME from my CONTACT page.

Next Post In Series – Be playful

10 Ways to Improve Your Marriage While in Quarantine

Staying home due to COVID-19? Are you finding it hard to manage your relationship, the children or working from home? The combination of those three can increase stress if you don’t know how to manage them well. It’s like the movie, The Perfect Storm. Please forgive me if I get this wrong, but if I remember correctly, in that movie 3 different storms come together and create a super storm. Sound familiar?

Having to work from home while the kids are home schooling and trying to keep from getting bored, and your spouse is home all day everyday, sounds like 3 stressful “storms” coming together to create a super storm. What are you going to do? How are you going to juggle it all?

Unfortunately, there may be more storms. If you are like me, I get cravings. The usual ability to get out and have fun or see different scenery than your own familiar walls is a very missed luxury during this time. Humans need newness, excitement and experiences outside the norm. I heard one person say recently, “There is a reason they use solitary confinement in jails and prisons.” We may not be totally isolated, but the combination of the changes that have come upon us so suddenly can cause intense amount of stress, especially when combined with the anxiety around COVID-19.

So, I want to try to help. Hopefully, this series of posts will provide some ideas on how to keep your relationship on track while working through the changes. Here are my 10 tips to improving your marriage during quarantine.

  1. Practice patience and kindness
  2. Bring back your creative side
  3. Share duties and give each other time to reboot
  4. Learn about grace and forgiveness
  5. Get outside
  6. Be playful
  7. Practice listening and understanding
  8. Rest
  9. Relax
  10. Focus on teamwork

These 10 tips are almost self explanatory, but I will expound on them in the next few blog posts. They may not seem like they are ways to improve your relationship, but if you are practicing each of these daily or weekly, I can assure you they will help. Please stay tuned. If you are having trouble in your relationship, please don’t wait to call me or email me so we can talk about how I can help you. Sometimes people just get temporarily stuck. Sometimes there are deeper things going on. Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us. Whatever it is, let me help!

Call 706-955-0230 to make an appointment or schedule through the patient portal.

Next Post In Series – Practice Patience and Kindness

 

Have you ever searched on the internet for a good article about communication? There are over five hundred million results when you type in the word communication into Google. People want to know how to communicate better. There is no shortage of information on communication out there. So, why add to the deluge of information? Because good communication is important to couples. I want to make it simple. How many resources give you 4 quick tips to communication? I believe we all need simple ways to remember how to listen to our spouse or partner so that communication is more clear.

Listening is the most important aspect of communication. I believe that if you listen well and with intention, all communication can be positive and clear. So, here are 4 tips to listening that will help you improve your communication today.

  1. Listen: What I mean by this is simply to hear the exact words coming out of the other person’s mouth. Start off the conversation by talking to your self and saying a trigger word such as, “listen,” “be open,” “hear,” or whatever word places you into the mode of truly listening. You need to be in a “gathering information mode.” Be a detective and gather all the information first, before you make any assumptions or react.
  2. Repeat or Summarize the “speaker’s” words: After the person speaking has said what they need to say, simply repeat back what you understood that they said and felt. Then, ask if this is what they are saying.
  3. Ask clarifying questions: Clarifying questions are those questions that attempt to help fill in blanks, but do not manipulate the content of what the speaker is saying. If I am ordering at a restaurant, the waiter may clarify if I want a large fry or a medium fry. An example of a lead in into a clarifying question might be, “Is it this? or Is it that?”
  4. Finally, don’t respond before you ask permission to respond. You can ask, “Did I understand what you said as you need me to?” If so, then you can ask, “Is it okay if I respond to that?” However, you must be okay with the speaker’s answer. If they say, “No, I would rather you not respond,” then you must accept their answer.

Obviously there is more to listening than these tips, but keeping it simple can help you improve your listening by a lot. The goal of listening is truly to understand the speaker the way they need you to understand them. By using these tips, it will help you to put your emotions outside of the situation and be open to hearing your partner. Gary Smalley has a podcast where he talks more about positive ways to communicate than can help improve your marriage. No matter what information you choose to use to communicate better, the most important key is to practice. Consistent and persistent practice will help build your communication skills so that they become second nature.

Starting a new website is a critical part of my therapy practice, apparently. I wish I had known this a long time ago. The lessons you learn along life’s way are many and diverse. This post is about why learning is important from a mental health perspective, but also a statement about what this blog is about.

You see, many people in my life have called me a “life time learner.” I hate to admit it at times, but I love learning. I love learning so much that I enjoy helping others learn. I realized when I decided to do this website, that it can be an important tool to share my enjoyment of learning as well as helping me build my business.

As a therapist, it is necessary to market yourself, or “put yourself out there,” as they say in order to draw in clients and build a network of referrals. I knew this was a need for my business, but I did not know how much, until a few days ago when our office manager told me that I don’t get any referrals calling to schedule with me. I was dumbfounded. I had been working with two very good organizations for about 2 years and still could not pull in clients. I wondered to myself what I was doing wrong. So, I went to my strength, reading and learning about stuff. I started to look at “ole trusty” google. Maybe I could find some valuable information about how to bring in clients there.

What I found was information about marketing, networking and social media. So, this website probably is not all I need, but it is a start. I realize that even through the daily grind of things, I can’t forget that information is important. Not only is information important, but correct information is important. As the saying goes, “Don’t reinvent the wheel.”

Through this website and blog, I hope not to reinvent the wheel. I hope to provide links to important articles that others have already written and expound on information that has already been discovered. I understand that there will be some redundancy, and, hopefully, that will help others to not have to look in so many different places for information I have already found.  I believe I am not the only one out there doing this, but this is my way of empowering myself to keep learning so I can spread the joy of learning to others.

Finally, to tie this all to the mental health perspective. Life is about learning and learning can help you solve the problems of life. All you need is a little help sometimes. People working together to solve each others problems and build a better world is what life is all about. People help other people learn to live life better.

* Before I start, I won’t to preface this blog post with a clarification. In my practice I do not judge others or push my beliefs on others. Counseling is about helping others reach their stated goals and not working on my goals. However, all people hold beliefs and these beliefs effect how they interact with others. My hope is that I interact with love, hope and understanding..

When a person thinks about sex therapy, I am almost sure that a Hollywood film starts playing in their mind. Sex therapy is mythical to people, conjuring up thoughts of intense emotions and fantasies. Thinking about sex therapy in this way is exactly that, a fantasy.  Sex therapy is far from what you see in Hollywood.  Although, just saying sex therapy can still make a person feel very uncomfortable, which brings me to why I offer sex therapy.

As a sex therapist, I can tell you that those who train others in sex therapy and provide supervision demonstrate a whole new respect for what sex really is. Through these brave souls, I have learned that sex is nothing to be scared of. The culture has made it taboo and negative in connotation. Even talking about sex in public arenas conjures up glancing eyes and awkward avoidance. However, humans are at their simplest, sexual beings. We were created with sexual anatomy. We were formed with intense emotions of love and passion. The problem is not sex; the problem is how the culture perceives sex. The reality is, sex is good when experienced within the proper boundaries of a committed marital relationship.

Thus, I offer sex therapy because when sex is used properly within a committed, loving and passionate relationship, it can be beautiful, intimate and empowering to the individuals involved. I believe sex is God’s gift to married couples to portray the power that two individuals can display when their relationship becomes so intimate that they enhance each other’s qualities and abilities due to pure acceptance and understanding of one another even at the deepest level of intimacy.

Just writing that last paragraph made the “feels” rise up in me. To be so in love and intimate with someone that knows everything about you and can read you’re every move is a feeling that makes a person entirely alive. I long to know my wife in that way and for her to know me.  Obviously, that would be perfection and although it may be attainable, most people never reach it. What if you could get a glimpse of it? What if you could feel that way even minimally on a regular basis?

This understanding of sex only comes from the knowledge of God’s intended uses for sex. Yes, sex is accompanied by intense pleasure in the moment and if you are not careful, or just desire to decrease your finances some (ie, this is a joke), a few offspring might be in your future. I believe though sex was intended to be much more. I believe it was intended to help to improve the marriage relationship and mirror some aspect of how amazing God is.

So, why do I offer sex therapy in my practice? I offer sex therapy because sex is central to a deep, loving and intimate marriage that empowers the individuals involved to help grow and evolve into more complete people. Research demonstrates that stronger families create stronger individuals and stronger communities. Stronger families improve quality of life and education for children. Stronger families decrease the number of incarcerations and crimes. Stronger families keep people safer.

Sex is only a part of the marriage relationship, but it is essential and powerful in strengthening the central most important part (ie, the married couple) of the family. Thus, if you are having sexual difficulties in your marriage, please talk to a professional who will keep your information confidential so you at least know the options available to you.