Author Archives: couplecenter

Keys to a successful relationship

I was watching a TED talk this week on what constitutes Success. Richard St. John asked 500 people with successful careers what they thought made them successful. He condensed their responses into a lively, humorous, 4-min. talk for the TED audience. I was struck by how many of his 8 keys to success were so applicable to the success of relationships.

Surprisingly many couples don’t really work very hard at making their relationships better. If they were growing a new business they’d likely be thinking, planning and working on it constantly. What if even half of the effort people put into a new business or project, were applied to improving their relationships? Assuming they knew what efforts to make, they’d be almost certain to see some real improvements!
FOCUS (#4 of St. John’s eight keys to success) is paying more attention to something you often take for granted. Really think about what you could do to improve things between you and your partner.  Even just ONE thing.

Brainstorm (IDEAS, #7) about what might make it more satisfying.  Get creative.  Brainstorm together with your partner.  Think outside the box.

PUSH YOURSELF (#5) it may be hard to change, but work at it anyway! Always wanted to run a marathon but knew you’d need to get in better shape?  Taking the first step is crucial.  Get up off the couch!  Or how about a no TV night together?  Or a date night?

GET GOOD AT IT (#3) Practice, practice, practice. We all know that practice yields results.  What results can you achieve in your relationship?
One of the ways in which THE COUPLE CENTER works with couples, is to get them to take a more proactive stance in their relationships, to follow through with what they learn in our sessions and apply it during the week.  We provide the ‘know-how’; you provide the application. You end up with a more successful relationship.  What we notice is, the harder  a couples tries to make their relationship better, the better it usually gets!  If they get stuck, we can help them get unstuck and move toward results.


Ready to get unstuck in your relationship?  Call us and see how we can help?            510 277-3111

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How to get your ‘silent partner’ to talk to you more often

He:  “Do we have to talk about this right now?”
She : “If I wait for you to bring it up, we’d never talk about anything!”

Blaming each other for everything only leads to more conflict and less connection in relationships. When conversations have become predictably negative and our partner seems to be avoiding talking, we are left feeling hurt, alone and very frustrated. Unresolved conflicts can stack up in the background only to resurface days later in a flash. Soon tension fills our relationship and we may wonder if we will ever feel close again. Does this sound like your relationship?

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The Importance of Pre-marital Discussions

When meeting with married couples in therapy, I am so often struck that they are arguing about a topic that they never discussed before marriage. Each partner is now surprised that the other person sees it differently. When I explore this with them, what I often hear is that it never occurred to them to discuss these ‘far-in-the-future’ events beforehand.

Topics like …
Do we have the same values about health and fitness?
Will we celebrate all birthdays and holidays with extended family?
How will we share housework? Childcare?
What will our standard of ‘tidiness’ be?
What amount of our incomes will we save vs. spend?
What constitute an affair?
How much debt is OK?

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The Fragile Relationship

by Barbara Swenson, Ph.D., Director, THE COUPLE CENTER

I am frequently struck with sadness when I meet a couple whose relationship is dangling by a slowly fraying thread.  Typically this couple has been together for some time, often many years, while wounds and resentments have stacked up so high in one corner of their relationship that at least one of them seems to have already  ‘checked out’.

This partner appears distant, guarded and does not express much optimism that couple therapy can be of any help.  The other partner seems more hopeful and desperately wants the other not to give up. Since it takes two to heal a relationship, the therapist’s  job becomes that of determining whether the reluctant partner really is “done”,  or, if their distant, pessimistic stance is the way they are protecting themselves from further hurt and rejection.  This is not a question the therapist can pose early in a first session.   Each partner must begin to experience the therapist as fair, able to see both sides, and able to communicate some understanding of each of their points of view.

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