Your Couples Specialist:

My Number 1 recommendation among all the many relationship books is Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Love Relationships (Little, Brown 2013). Author Dr. Sue Johnson is the primary creator of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, the most successful method of helping couples renew connection and resolve conflict.

I strongly suggest couples who work with me read Love Sense during the course of counseling because they will be introduced to a new way of understanding their relationship. I even tell them that they'll probably save money because they may need fewer sessions with me.

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Couples often wonder why the negative emotions in relationships can have such intensity – Small problems escalate to big arguments, the disconnection that has evolved is fraught with pain and the hurt seems like a wound that is stubborn to heal. Indeed, the strong feelings between couples are real – as is the fear they often express that their relationship can’t improve. And, yes, your strongest emotions are going to be with your partner.

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If you and your partner struggle with setting boundaries with others, you are not alone. Many couples struggle to make their relationship a priority. Forces pulling them to spend time and energy include kids' activities, aging parents, careers, friends and even hobbies and fitness.

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We turn to the internet for all kinds of help, including relationship advice.
However, with so many sources of information, how can you be certain the help you're seeing will be valid? In other words, is what you're reading going to be genuinely helpful?

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You feel a difference when marriage problems begin: You might be arguing more (often about small things), you feel less emotional connection to each other, intimacy may have declined and you find you avoid talking about your relationship.

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An essential ingredient of a close, connected and lasting relationship is feeling heard and understood by our partner. We seek to be acknowledged for our uniqueness, to not be judged, to be "loved even when I'm upset, confused, hurt or scared." Communication and relationship success is built on good listening.

Yet, really tuning in to our partner can feel challenging. Our busy lives make slowing down and focusing on our partner more difficult. Too, we may fall into some common traps that cause our partner to feel he or she can't turn to us in times of need and to receive comfort.

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Blending two families with children presents a number of well-known challenges: Helping the "kids adjust to the new "parent;" coping with the kids' other biological parent's preferences and concerns; and setting up house rules and helping the kids get along with one another. What often gets lost in the "blending" as the two adults focus on helping the kids adjust is focus on the couple themselves. With so much to adjust to in the newly formed family, the couple can easily lose sight of the need to nurture their own relationship.

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Research tells us couples often prolong -- sometimes for years -- getting professional help for their relationship. Couples often tell me they delayed seeking marital counseling because of a number of fears and concerns -- all of which are understandable.

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Your behavior during the early periods of separation and divorce can make a critical difference in your kids' well-being during this process and beyond. If you and your spouse are calm, able to listen to your kids' concerns and answer their questions, the events have the potential to be less traumatic. And, remember, these experiences are what they will take into adulthood and which can influence how they handle their own adult relationships.

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When any type of cheating occurs in a relationship, there are two levels of pain: The first stems from the cheating or betrayal itself; the second from the lies and deceit that took place to cover up the betrayal.

Cheating, for most couples, is the ultimate hurt. Most people will say -- until it happens to them -- that cheating would be the ultimate "last straw." However, many couples also seek to try to recover, to renew their bond with each other and to strengthen their relationship.

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Aware Counseling

Linda R. Schwartz, M.Ed., LPC

Aware Counseling & Consulting, LLC

1130 E. Missouri, Phoenix 85014

9260 E. Raintree Drive, Scottsdale 85260

Email Linda