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Tag Archives: Love & Intimacy

Loving Bravely Begins with Dating Bravely

Young couple at coffee shopThe desire for an intimate partnership is woven into our DNA. Human beings want to love and be loved. When you look at our culture, it’s easy to see how obsessed we are with the idea of love (Exhibit A: Match-making shows like “The Bachelor” and networks that devote entire days to wedding-related programming like “Friday Bride-day” on TLC). However, we seem to be far less obsessed with learning what it takes to create a healthy and happy intimate relationship. Spoiler alert: it takes A LOT more than swiping until your soulmate appears on the screen of your smartphone.

Today, Dr. Alexandra Solomon offers three things you can do right now to prepare yourself for a romantic relationship.

1. Get to know yourself

A healthy romantic relationship begins with two people who are willing to take responsibility for who they are and how they think, feel and act in love. Love requires relational self-awareness. Modern love looks a lot like a marketplace with lovers searching for a partner in a manner not entirely dissimilar to how they search for a great pair of shoes. This focus on the other guy takes you away from the really important work of understanding how your history, your personality, and your beliefs profoundly (but subtly) shape how you “do” love.

2. Create a life of meaning

Many of the ways we talk about love — “You complete me”, “my better half”— suggest that we aren’t quite fully alive until we have found “the one.” It is important to be aware of an important “both/and” here. Creating a fulfilling romantic relationship BOTH adds dimension/possibility to our lives AND we are better able to dive into a romantic relationship when we feel comfortable and happy in our own skin. Creating a life of passion, meaning and connection lays the foundation for an intimate partnership.

3. Practice self-aware dating

Self-aware dating means treating dates with a sense of sacredness and specialness. It means letting yourself be fully present on a first date by putting your phone away, letting go of thoughts about what else might be out there and opening yourself to the possibility of creating magic with the person across the table from you.

Making the shift from searching for Mr. or Ms. Right to becoming Mr. or Ms. Right is the difference that can make a difference.

This desire for an intimate partner is why The Family Institute at Northwestern University is launching Loving Bravely: A Relationship Readiness Course. This course will help you expand your relational self-awareness by providing:

  • A practical framework to understand your patterns, strengths and weaknesses in intimate relationships
  • Tools to manage the complex dynamics that are inherent in all romantic relationships
  • Exercises for living and loving mindfully

So if you are between 18-35 years old and …

  • Single
  • Frustrated with dating
  • Starting over
  • At the start of a new relationship and committed to getting it right

… join us for a powerful and engaging opportunity to better understand what it takes to make a relationship work!

Loving Bravely: A Relationship Readiness Course is a six-session course based on the forthcoming book by Alexandra Solomon, PhD, Loving Bravely: 20 Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want (New Harbinger, February 2017). Dr. Solomon has been in clinical practice for nearly 20 years. She presents nationally on topics related to love and intimacy and teaches the internationally renowned undergraduate course, Building Loving and Lasting Relationships: Marriage 101 at Northwestern University.

For more information on the Loving Bravely course, visit our website.

The Family Institute offers affordable, effective mental health counseling for families, couples and individuals in Evanston, Chicago, Northbrook and Westchester. To learn more about our therapy and mental health services, please visit our website.

 

JULY COUPLE TIP OF THE MONTH

Couple with communication issuesThe Family Institute’s July Couple Tip of the Month discusses the third ear we each have, which hears the mood and emotion of our spouse.

From this month’s tip:

We all have a Third Ear, but we don’t always use it. The Third Ear hears beyond the surface words to a spouse’s underlying mood or emotions. With our Third Ear we’re like an audience listening while staying in our seats, never climbing onto the stage to join the drama. While hearing something potentially button-pushing, the Third Ear’s signal reminds us to refrain from taking the bait … and to aim for Being Smart instead of Being Right (read Right Versus Smart).

Read the entire Tip of the Month and learn how to control emotional reactivity.

For additional Tips and to sign up for our Tip of the month, visit our Tips webpage.

The Family Institute offers affordable counseling for families, couples and individuals. Learn more about our services on our website.

To get support at The Family Institute, visit our Find a Therapist page.

Same Love: Do the Health Benefits of Relationships Extend to LGB Individuals?

Gay Couple in Love“Findings suggest that the presence of a partnered relationship confers several health benefits to LGB individuals,” writes Steve Du Bois, in his Clinical Science Insight white paper, “Same Love: Do the Health Benefits of Relationships Extend to LGB Individuals?”.

This white paper discusses if the health benefits heterosexuals gain from their intimate relationship are also experienced by LGB relationship. Research on the health benefits of LGB relationships is not as robust as the research on the benefits for heterosexual relationships but there is a dedicated focus to learn more.

Visit our website to read the entire white paper.

 

 

How to Treat Your Marriage Like You Treat Your Health

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RelationshipWe go to the doctor when we have severe pains, fevers or other physical symptoms. We take vitamins, have routine checkups, exercise and adapt our diets to prevent physical illnesses. As we commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month at The Family Institute, we’re talking to our expert clinicians about the connections between physical and mental health, as well as what can be done to prevent more serious mental illnesses.

Today’s insights relate specifically to couples, and come from Jaime Henry-Juravic, LMFT, a staff therapist at The Family Institute’s couples services. We asked Jaime a couple of questions about how we can tend to our relationships the way we tend to our physical health.

 


 

What are some symptoms that might clue an individual or couple in that she should seek mental health treatment to help with marriage issues?

  • Feelings of disconnection from the other that are not remedied by spending quality time together or participating in activities that once cultivated a sense of connection
  • Persistent thoughts or impulses to engage in a physically or emotionally intimate relationship outside of the primary relationship
  • Increasing or repeated conflict that you have not been able to resolve on your own, despite repeated attempts.
  • Significant life transitions that are contributing to increased stress in the relationship. These can include the birth of a child, the transition of a child out of the house, a change in location, a career change, or an ongoing physical illness in one or both members of the couple.
  • Dissatisfaction with sexual intimacy or the presence of sexual dysfunction

 

 

What are some preventative measures an individual or couple can take to avoid larger conflict, mental health or marital problems?

  • Continue to prioritize each other and the relationship throughout the entirety of the relationship. Avoid the trap of “checking the relationship box”.
  • When spending quality time together, focus on quality. Experiment with keeping technology out of the equation during your time together. Phones and computers can often serve as a barrier to intimacy and quality time.
  • Have dinner (or another meal) together as often as possible. Be intentional about engaging in conversation with each other, rather than zoning out in front of the TV or your phone. *Note: Zoning out is sometimes necessary. Just be aware of how often that occurs when you are spending time with your partner.
  • Experience new things together
  • Incorporate playfulness into the relationship. This can be in a sexual or non sexual way
  • If you are parents, be intentional about maintaining the “couple sphere” of the relationship in addition to the “parent sphere”. Imagine these as separate spheres, with areas of overlap. Each sphere has unique responsibilities and needs in order for it to thrive.
  • If you are feeling disconnected or unfulfilled, say something. These feelings will not simply disappear if you ignore them. And if you are struggling with how to communicate these feelings effectively to your partner, or are feeling invalidated when you do communicate them, reach out to a professional (such as a couples therapist) for help. That’s what we’re here for!

The Family Institute offers affordable counseling throughout the Chicagoland area. To learn more about our therapy and mental health services, please visit our website.

Relationships in the Digital Age: An interview with Alexandra Solomon, PhD

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On Thursday, April 30th, The Family Institute will present our Circle of Knowledge event Dating, Mating & Marrying in the Age of Social Media. This event, presented by Alexandra Solomon, PhD, will explore how our digital age has added enormous complexity to relational communication and romance. Dr. Solomon will help individuals and couples learn how to use social media to enhance and expand their love lives, not replace it.

To gear up for this exciting event, held at Microsoft’s office in downtown Chicago at 6:30 p.m., we sat down with Dr. Solomon to get a sneak peak at the sort of issues she’ll be tackling in her presentation. Read a few of her responses below, and visit our website to register for the event.

 

TFI: Has our digital age impacted the way interact with romantic partners?

AS: Our digital age has impacted how we interact with romantic partners in complex ways that range from the subtle to the profound.  And I think we are only just beginning to wrap our minds around these changes.  It is difficult to find a facet of our intimate relationships that the digital age has not touched.  Everything from seeking a partner using online medium, to formalizing commitment to that relationship in a series of status changes, to shaping our definitions and experiences of fidelity, monogamy, and betrayal (How much texting is too much texting?  Can I be Facebook friends with my ex?).

 

TFI: Technology moves at such a quick pace—how does that pace compare to that of forming a romantic relationship and/or intimacy?

AS: Our relationship with technology is marked by our expectation that we can have exactly what we want, exactly when we want it, preferably at lightning fast speed.  However, intimacy requires an entirely different energy.  Trust must build over time through, as M. Scott Peck says, “a relationship of constancy.”  Technology also offers us such quantity, such volume.  Building a romantic relationship requires less—less distraction, more mindful presence in this moment with another.  Neither of these energies is good or bad per se, but we need to be careful not to bring what we expect from our technology into our expectations of our intimate relationships.

 

TFI: Are there advantages to technology/social media/the digital world? How can these things positively impact relationships and/or dating?

 

For sure!  I am confident that online dating is here to stay.  Many people report positive experiences and create amazing relationships with people they would not have otherwise had the chance to meet.  And it invites all of us to elevate our games, so to speak.  To be really conscious about WHY am I selecting this media avenue right now?  What is my intention?  We are invited to practice discernment and to observe ourselves.  All of that is very positive.

 

Dating Mating & Marrying in the Age of Social Media will feature Dr. Alexandra Solomon addressing these questions and more. The event, held at no cost at Microsoft’s downtown Chicago headquarters, will focus on how the digital age impacts our relationships — for better and for worse.

Find more event details below, and visit our website for more information.

Dating, Mating & Marrying in the Age of Social Media

Presented by Alexandra Solomon, PhD

Thursday, April 30, 2015
6:30 p.m. registration, 7:00 p.m. presentation
Microsoft, 200 E. Randolph, Chicago

Free of charge, space limited
Register online today!
Deadline to register: April 23, 2015

For more information, call 312-609-5300, ext. 480 or email cok@family-institute.org.

 

Text Your Love

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couple_selfie_cellphoneYou can send flowers. You can send chocolates. You can send a text.

A text?

Who would have thought that texting could be an effective way for spouses to express affection, to convey “I’m thinking of you”? So much of the time, we hear and read about modern technology coming between us. Apparently, it doesn’t always have to be that way.

Research reported in Family Relations (April, 2011) noted that in a study of married couples, the single most common use of texting between spouses was for the expression of affection. What a great concept during these over-scheduled times, when spending thirty seconds sending a caring message can truly promote relationship closeness. Consider these approaches:

  • Snap a photo of something you see that you think your partner would enjoy. Send it as a text with a thoughtful message.
  • Surprise your spouse in the middle of the day with a few texted words of love and affection.
  • Photograph your lips in a mirror, and text the image over with the words “Consider yourself kissed.”
  • Text unique abbreviations that are shared only between the two of you. For example, ILYCD (translation: I love your cute dimples).
  • Use your imagination … the possibilities are endless.

 

 

At our next Circle of Knowledge event, Dating Mating & Marrying in the Age of Social Media, Dr. Alexandra Solomon will address these questions and more. The event, held at no cost at Microsoft’s downtown Chicago headquarters, will focus on how the digital age impacts our relationships — for better and for worse.

Find more event details below, and visit our website for more information.

Dating, Mating & Marrying in the Age of Social Media

Presented by Alexandra Solomon, PhD

Thursday, April 30, 2015
6:30 p.m. registration, 7:00 p.m. presentation
Microsoft, 200 E. Randolph, Chicago

Free of charge, space limited
Register online today!
Deadline to register: April 23, 2015

For more information, call 312-609-5300, ext. 480 or email cok@family-institute.org.

 

Technology & Love: How do they relate?

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Heartshaped cableTechnology offers us the opportunity for more — more interaction, more resources, more to do — and it does so incredibly quickly. Yet love and intimate relationships thrive on a different kind of pace: Intimate relationships need a focus on us instead of on the outside world. Love and intimacy require acceptance, gratitude and embracing what is, rather than the continued comparison to what else is out there. Love and intimate relationships require a slower speed — more time, patience, being there for each other — that builds trust over time.

 

Here is a breakdown of some of the major differences between technology and love:

 

Technology:

 

All about me

 

More

 

Better

 

Faster

Love:

 

All about WE

 

Less (less distraction, less choice)

 

Acceptance/gratitude/embracing what is

 

Requires time to grow and time to maintain

 

So how do we discern when, where, and how to make use of technology’s offerings?  And when, where, and how do we return to something we once knew?

At our next Circle of Knowledge event, Dating Mating & Marrying in the Age of Social Media, Dr. Alexandra Solomon will address these questions and more. The event, held at no cost at Microsoft’s downtown Chicago headquarters, will focus on how the digital age impacts our relationships — for better and for worse.

Find more event details below, and visit our website for more information.

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