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The # 1 Thing…

May 16, 2019

I have a memory of one of my best friends from college telling me during her pregnancy that she was nervous about becoming a mother….

My response was to encourage her and reassure her that she already knew how to do the #1 most important thing in her relationships –  and if she were to do that with her children – then I was sure that she would be a wonderful mother.

What is the #1 Thing?  I will give you a clue here, but I don’t want to spoil Saturday night’s workshop… or what we will be working on in one of your next therapy sessions.  So, let’s just say it has to do with acknowledging your mistakes and flaws – in essence it is clearing away guilt and shame so you can respond without defensiveness.

From my observation, most people have a big heart and want to have better relationships, but they have emotional and spiritual blockages that get in the way…

In the book by Andy Stanley, “Enemies of the Heart,” he writes “just as a heart attack has the potential to destroy your body, spiritual heart disease has the potential to destroy you and squeeze the life out of your most valuable relationships.”

This weekend, I will be giving a sermon on Sunday morning about how guilt and shame keep people from being able to follow-through with the tools needed to do the #1 thing necessary for their relationships.

I am excited to help you unblock your heart and practice some new communication tools this weekend on Saturday night at the workshop and during Sunday morning’s sermon…

I hope to see you there!  Register Now

 

 

It’s A Family Affair!!!

May 15, 2019

It’s confirmed – my husband Brendan and at least one of my sons (hopefully both) will be at the Relationship Repair workshop with me on Saturday night.  (See picture below, aren’t they cute???)

This is not your typical (yawn) workshop.  Instead, think stories, music, laughter, role plays and more….

My family will be role playing how we use Relationship Repair on a regular basis in our house to keep our love healthy and strong.

When people learn that I am an author and they hear about my book, Relationship Repair for Couples, they often say, “thank goodness we don’t need that, our relationship is good…”

And that becomes the perfect opportunity to explain that Relationship Repair is not about Repairing Relationships when they are in trouble and on the verge of divorce.  Everyone needs to have a Relationship Repair Counter – I use the stuff I teach people every day in my own family and business life!

You see… small relationship repairs are required every day in our communication.  Research shows that many people are missing out on opportunities to strengthen relationships with small repairs that lead to Relationship Success, Security, and Deep Ever Lasting Love…

There is still room for more registrants, but do not delay… it’s filling up – on Monday I learned there were already 90 registrants!

Bring the people you know to learn some new communication tools for your relationships.  Invite your friends and loved ones – after all, it’s a family affair!  Register Here

I Am Just Teasing…

May 13, 2019

“I am just teasing” is not the correct response.  Let me explain…

Today I was teaching a workshop on Relationship Repair and someone asked me if it is important to open our Relationship Repair Counter for our children?

The answer was a definite yes – in fact, we should have our Relationship Repair Counters open to acknowledge and repair complaints for our children even more than we should for anyone else!

Why?  Because parents are responsible for meeting their children’s most basic attachment needs for unconditional love and security.  This includes if our child brings up a complaint about our parenting!  Whereas, our children do not have a responsibility to meet our attachment needs as the parent, we are the #1 person responsible for making sure our children feel emotionally safe and respected…

I am not talking about our child throwing a tantrum because we are saying no to something unreasonable.  But, pretty much if there are any other relationship complaints our children bring to the table – we should open our Relationship Repair Counter and provide resolution and support.

For example, yesterday I was asking my seventeen-year-old son about a girl he is talking to while we are at the dinner table for Mother’s Day.  The family was there, and I did not realize I was offending his sense of privacy about a budding summer romance.  He got a little embarrassed and complained that I was bringing this up at dinner when he didn’t want to talk about.  I immediately apologized.  I respected his boundary and acknowledged that I could understand if he didn’t want to talk about it, that was certainly understandable if he wanted his privacy.  We changed the topic to something else.  Later, when we have a private moment, I will ask my son if he felt that his complaint was resolved and ask if there is anything else I can do.

In many families, the parent would respond with “I am just teasing, what’s the big deal?” or other similar type responses.  But that does not provide relationship repair or build trust!

In my workshop for the public coming up this weekend, we will learn and practice Relationship Repair steps as well as I will teach the research on why using Relationship Repair is so open for having successful relationships with everyone – your significant other, your kids, your coworkers, and in any other important relationship!

Register here: https://relationshiprepair2019.eventbrite.com

Everything I Needed To Know I Learned From My Mom

May 12, 2019

Everything I Needed to Know About Being A Woman I Learned from Jean and then taught to my daughter Rachel (the picture here is of myself with my mother Jean and my daughter Rachel)…

My mother Jean learned from her Mom Irene, who learned from her mother-in-law because her mother died young.

Intergenerational patterns are very strong, and I feel thankful that I learned from some stable hard-working mothers.  All my clients should know that if I helped you to improve your family and your relationships in any way, a huge part of who I am is because of Jean.

Having spent twenty years hearing the stories of many clients who had mothers who went out to the bar drinking, who watched soap operas instead of cooking dinner, who criticized instead of showing love, and who beat their kids with belts instead of patient teaching – I know I am blessed.

My mother was home every night, devoted to her family.  And she spent her time working, not watching soap operas and drinking Tab.

I learned to keep working, even when you are broke and dislike your curtains and your kitchen.  My mother made the best of what she had even at the times when she didn’t have much.  From that example, I learned that eventually, you will earn the new kitchen and the new curtains.

My mother showed me the importance of always having good food in the home.  No matter how broke we were, food was never rationed.  There was always milk and fresh fruit and vegetables (even though that meant fighting with my sisters while we were cutting up strawberries from the strawberry patch).

Jean loved sweets, so there was always Hostess twinkies for the lunchbox and Shwann’s ice cream at night (with the strawberries that were picked with my sisters).

I can think of only a few times when my mother became angry at me, but when I think about the long days, she had raising five children and keeping her house, she was overall very patient.  She described my grandmother Irene being incredibly patient while raising eleven children and Mary having patience while she raised eighteen children who were mostly boys.  Can you imagine?

After stories of hearing about how some parents rage at their children, I know that I am truly fortunate to have had grandmothers who were patient with children.

Jean loved to find just the right gifts to give on holidays, and she made holidays special with decorated birthday cakes or sugar cookies.  On family vacation, she would set up activities in which we would all go around the table and say what we liked about another family member.

During times when my mother was healthy, she liked to play games and do craft projects.  She taught me how to sew and bake.  I collected my own recipes, just like my Mom.

She had standards for cleaning that German women have.  There was no mopping the floor.  It was getting down on your knees and really scrub the floor to get it clean.  Get it done right or don’t do it at all!

Jean was in the habit of having her house cleaned up before she went to bed at night.  Apparently, Irene was the same way, and this was because if someone became sick and the doctor needed to pay a home visit, the house should be clean and straightened up.  People used to hire me as a babysitter partly because when they came home, I had put all the toys away, swept the kitchen floor, cleaned and put away any dishes, and everything was neat as a pin.  Courtesy of Mary, Irene, and Jean.

I was in shock the first time I want to my friend’s homes in middle school and saw how their mothers kept house!  Food all over the kitchen.  Piles of laundry on the couch.  This was unthinkable in my mother’s home.  My father always said she “ran a tight ship.”

My mother praised me for things I did well, but she was also not shy to correct me when I was being selfish and not thinking of my family.  She allowed me to be on sports teams and to give speeches and to play in the band, although I am sure a part of her would have rather had my help on the farm.  She gave me boundaries and expectations, but they were not so rigid that I didn’t have the opportunities to develop and grow.

Jean loved music, so we had a piano and three guitars in our house.  She asked the choir teacher to come to the farm and teach my sister and I how to harmonize our voices.  When I was in the second grade, she took me to guitar lessons in addition to piano lessons.  And then she made sure I practiced on a regular basis.  Like it or lump it – mostly I liked it… and the house had music in between chores and fighting with my sisters!

My mother said she was sorry when she made mistakes.  When I was in my 20’s and I thought I knew everything, I told her about the memories from my upbringing that I didn’t like.  She had the wisdom to listen and to apologize for mistakes made.  My teenagers now have the benefit of her example.  When they complain about my mistake, I listen and apologize instead of defending myself.  Any mother who is sacrificing day in and day out for her children knows it can be hard to hear your child complaining about what you are not doing.

There are a million habits and routines that I learned from my mother about how to manage a house and take care of your family that some women do not have the courtesy of knowing. The stuff I mentioned above are only a few.  I am truly fortunate to have an earthly parent who is so remarkable.

In some cases, I get to teach women who are willing learners what I learned day in and day out in our farm house. Not everyone gets to experience an amazing mother in action.

Hard work combined with love, hugs, and praise.  Sprinkled with some ice cream and some play in the swimming pool or playing some Uno.  Then more hard work.  That was pretty much the sum of it, along with clean laundry, ironing, baked goods, cooking, and a clean house.  With the security of unconditional love and knowing I would get an apology and understanding if I felt emotional pain.

My clients say I am “down to earth” – that’s also from Jean.  If you met her, you would see that she is just herself.  I have often heard her say, “I like myself the way that I am.”  (usually that’s when she is referring to being in jeans and a t-shirt while working her butt off in the house – she would rather be baking cookies for her grandchildren with her hair pulled back in a ponytail than getting glitzed up to go out to a concert).

When it comes to Moms, you really can’t ask for much more than what I experienced in a mother-daughter relationship.  Relationship Repair and love and some good family functioning.  Our home wasn’t perfect, but it was as damn close as you can get to heaven on earth from what I have heard about other families.

I am fortunate to have a career where I get to counsel other women and families on how to be more like Jean.  My clients don’t necessarily know it, but along with my book knowledge and theories – that’s pretty much what they are getting.

Don’t Forget…

May 11, 2019

 

Don’t forget to cover your bases for Mother’s Day tomorrow.  LOL.

 

I will send out a similar reminder for Father’s Day, and of course I did my Valentine’s Day reminder!

 

Last night, I was meeting with a couple who have a six-month-old baby… so this is their First Mother’s Day.

 

I was joking that the father needs to be the woman’s love slave.  And of course, he took that connation the way most men would!

 

But that’s probably not the type of love slave the Mother has in mind!  Right ladies?  More likely, the mother of your child wants you to slave away putting mulch in the flower beds and completing some other household chores.

 

In case you didn’t grow up in a house where mother was pampered on the second Sunday in May, the tradition is for you to watch the kids so that she can have some quiet time, and of course she will love a card, some flowers or chocolates, and a nice breakfast or dinner at home or somewhere out (if your family doesn’t mind braving the crowds and people)!

 

But most importantly, don’t forget to look her eyes and tell her you appreciate what she contributes to your family (whatever paid or unpaid labor she does to show love to the family and the children).

 

Quick story, my teenage son gave me a big hug on Tuesday night and said, “it shouldn’t take thinking about getting ready for Mother’s Day to remember to tell you thank you for everything you do for me, but it did.”  My heart melted.  Those words with the hug were even better than when he and my husband helped to mulch my flower beds two weekends ago.

 

If it’s hard for you to say the words and look her in eyes, then make sure you write it in her card.  That will make her day (along with being her slave and getting her gifts and making sure she gets a day off from cooking).

 

Seriously, don’t forget…I don’t want to hear any stories in my office next week about how disappointed and unappreciated your wife or mother is feeling!

Welcome to Our New Repair Associate Anne Marie!

May 9, 2019

Anne-Marie James Henry exudes passion and a natural desire to help create positive change within the lives of her clients.  She comes from a multicultural society and has a background within many multicontextual
environments.   Anne-Marie is empathic towards clients who desire to find life purpose within the safe environment of therapy.
She believes that each person has the unlimited potential to navigate the challenges of life and achieve their personal and
relationship goals with the appropriate intervention and if given the right tools.

Anne-Marie has a Masters’ Degree in Christian Counseling, from the Jacksonville Theological Seminary
in Florida. She was a preschool educator, mentor, life skills and character education facilitator
for Secondary Schools in the Caribbean for fifteen years. She is currently completing her final
year of graduate studies in Marriage and Family Therapy at the Abilene Christian University in
Texas and is a Therapist Intern with Dr. Stephanie’s Relationship Repair Shop.

Anne-Marie has a capacity for working with clients to explore systemic intergenerational patterns and
deep emotions that sometimes prevent positive interactions between couples and families.
She is prepared to work with clients who have problems with communication, conflict management, divorce, infidelity,
anxiety, depression, children and adolescents with adjustment issues, career counseling, life
skills enhancement, self-esteem, and spiritual formation. Some of the
tools and models utilized in her work with clients include; Emotionally Focused Therapy,
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Integrative Family Therapy.
Anne-Marie sees clients at the Laurel office on Sunday 12-5 pm, Mondays 3-9 pm, and
Thursdays 9-am to 3-pm. Her fees are $90 for a 90 minutes session and $60 for a 60 minutes
session.
To schedule an appointment with Anne-Marie, the scheduling link is https://www.therapyportal.com/p/drstephanie/

I See You

May 8, 2019

I see you when you are grieving and anxious.  You likely will not be able to hide it from me… even when you put on a brave face at the beginning of our therapy session – when your defenses from being out in the world are still strong.  But I see you.  I see your foot start to go up and down and your breathing get faster when you start to tell me about your sense of loss.  I see the tears start to well up in your eyes before you push your emotions back down.

I ask the deeper questions and the defenses go down and you grab the tissues!  I see you…

—-

As humans, we all experience loss and we all need to be seen.  Out in the world with schedules and jobs and bills and responsibilities, it is difficult to be able to fully explore grief and loss – for the deep pain to be seen by others so it can heal.  However, inside the therapy room, people tell me about their loss everyday…  Their sadness and fear.

Recently, I have had many clients who have sought treatment for the grief associated with the death of a beloved family member.  Most people do not realize that they will experience trauma symptoms and anxiety as a part of grief.  In fact, a client just forwarded me this article from 2018 about how anxiety should be added as a stage of grief.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-anxiety-should-be-added-to-the-5-stages-of-grief/2018/10/19/a3573c78-c717-11e8-b1ed-1d2d65b86d0c_story.html?utm_term=.8c9488b7bbf1

I really do not see anxiety and trauma symptoms as a “stage” of grief – Trauma is just intertwined into the grief process.  People have a fear of death and mortality, and we can live in a certain denial of death until someone close to us leaves this earth.  For most people, underneath the denial is at least some fear and anxiety.

Trauma is defined as something that creates feelings of helplessness and is surprising.  In many cases, death is a surprise.  Watching a loved one die of cancer, or finding a partner on the floor after a heart attack, or washing a child’s body in the hospital after she has died are traumatic because they are unexpected and surprising.

People almost always say about their loved one, “I felt helpless.  I wanted to help him or her (live longer)” or “I was helpless to make him or her more comfortable” or “I have been feeling helpless because I don’t know if my loved one is truly okay in the afterlife.”

The death of a loved one frequently creates acute trauma symptoms and those symptoms sometimes develop into long term chronic trauma symptoms (sleep disturbance, irritability, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, emotional reactivity to name a few).

EMDR therapy has worked very well recently for several clients.  We have specifically targeted the memory of seeing their loved one die or the first memory of seeing the lifeless body.  Upon desensitization of the traumatic memory, symptoms improved.  The symptoms were different for each client, but the outcome of lowered anxiety symptoms was the same for all the clients whom I worked with.

If you are having anxiety or trauma symptoms due to the death of a loved one, please Contact one of Relationship Repair Associates today.

So, You Need Coping?  NOT Medication

May 7, 2019

So, you need better ways to cope and you don’t want to take medication.  I get it.  A lot of my clients want to be able to cope with stress and anxiety better and they consider medication a last resort option…

For myself, I have tried anything and everything to cope with anxiety.  I am a very Type A personality, and I have been a worry wart since I could walk.  For example, when I didn’t get a 100% on my first spelling test in the second grade, I worried and cried!  That was only the beginning of my lifelong battle with anxiety and stress.  It’s in my personality and my genetic code…

My sensitivity makes me a wonderful therapist.  I am intuitive and can sometimes pick up on what people need or feel before they can even put words to it themselves… Of course, I have still had to find my own coping mechanisms, especially when being a therapist can lead to burnout and chronic stress if I am not careful.

At the National Psychotherapy Networker convention that I attended in March, they announced that regular Yoga practice has been found to improve sleep and reduce anxiety symptoms better than medication.

This made my ears perk up.  I started doing yoga last fall after years of not getting enough exercise.  My youngest child has autism, and I was just in the trenches for a very long time with my husband trying to get all of his interventions and needs met.  Yoga one time per week helped me feel so much better.  I started falling asleep better, and I felt more energized.  I also started exercising a lot more.

Two weeks ago, I was on a roll exercising about five or six times a week.  I get bored easily, so I was mixing it up: cycling class one day, yoga another, Zumba, barre class, pilates, and kettlebell class.  My gym has every kind of class you can imagine!  Just when I was feeling like I was getting a lot stronger, I injured my lower back during kettlebell class.  🙁

My back was in pain for two weeks!  I took time off from exercise until today.  I drug myself to yoga class only because my stress was getting too bad from not exercising.  My back was in pain the entire class, but all of those yoga poses and stretches worked a miracle.  And I didn’t even think that was possible!  Ten hours later and I just did a Downward Facing Dog with zero back pain.  If only I had gone to yoga the day after my injury!

Yoga is so healing.  And there are apparently ways to help heal psychological trauma via yoga.  (Clearly it helped my mild physical trauma LOL).  I might even become a yoga teacher and incorporate in everything I have learned as a therapist about reducing anxiety into the yoga classes.

Bottom line, I don’t normally write about yoga since I am not a practitioner. However, I have started incorporating recommendations for yoga into treatment plans for some of my clients. If you are suffering from anxiety, and are looking for additional methods for coping in addition to psychotherapy, I recommend yoga for sure.

If you need assistance with reducing and managing anxiety via psychotherapy, please Contact one of our Relationship Repair Associates today.

Will You Join Me?

May 6, 2019

This morning I was working with a couple in therapy, and we were practicing the steps at the Relationship Repair Counter (kind of like a Customer Service Counter).  It is always wonderful to see people practicing how to open their body language and really listen to the concerns of their partners and children.  And, of course I love the question, “What can I do to help this feel better for you?”

People need the security of knowing they can go to their spouse or their parent (or other people) and really be heard and listened to!

At the end of the session, I personally invited this couple to learn and practice more at my next workshop – which is free to the public on Saturday evening May 18 in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Will you join me?  Here is the link to Register

After all, it’s important to have your Relationship Repair Counter in tip-top shape in order to have optimum Relationship Success!

I Miss Me More!!!

April 30, 2019

Recently, I had a client say “I Miss Me More” to me who was in therapy working on repairing their relationship with self…  Then I heard the country music song by Kelsea Ballerini last night, and I decided to dedicate today’s blog post to all my clients who are going through a breakup or divorce.

Of course, you know I am into helping people repair their relationships.  However, sometimes a relationship is super unhealthy, and the relationship ends. Sometimes we must first repair a relationship with ourselves…

It is very common for people to start therapy after a breakup or divorce.  Of course, people feel depressed at these times and, they want to explore how to not make the same relationship mistakes again.

A great focus during a breakup is to become the best version of yourself as a single person.  The best time to meet a new partner and get in a new relationship is later when you have become perfectly happy being single.  As Kelsea says, “I forgot I had dreams, I forgot I had wings.”  Check out the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b01QbOY-He0

Sometimes it is in the middle of a breakup after a difficult relationship that people finally heal whatever wounds kept them from going for their dreams.  Instead of finding real help and healing, they got into a bad relationship to try to heal their childhood or young adult wounds.

In therapy after a breakup, we focus on getting in touch with what makes you special.  We want to increase your self-esteem and diminish whatever anxiety you have about yourself.  In addition, it is so important to realize that although you may have loved your ex, it’s important to choose “I LOVE ME MORE.”  I hope you love yourself enough to evaluate whether your past relationship was healthy, and if it wasn’t then loving yourself more is way more important!

Now is the time to love yourself and take risks, get out there and do what you love.

Many years ago, when I was single, I danced every week, joined a kickboxing class, went out to the movies (sometimes by myself), lost weight, tried a new hairstyle, went to the symphony for the first time, and much more!

A breakup should be a time of self-discovery.  When you are content and happy with yourself, you will be more ready for a new healthier relationship.  You always want to engage in a new relationship from a place of strength and contentment.  You will not feel desperate within yourself – and if a dating partner does not have the qualities you are looking for or starts to mistreat you – then you can go right back to the happy single life instead of staying in a relationship just because you don’t want to be alone!

I hope you realize how much you missed yourself, how much you were and are missing out on!  Loving yourself and discovering how to be content and happy with yourself is vital to repairing your relationship with yourself.

If you need support and healing during your breakup and time of self-discovery, please Contact one of our Repair Associates today!

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