[ Trisha’s Blog ]

Love Will Keep Us Together.

This post is the follow up to last week’s post ” Stop in the Name of Love” which discussed four behaviors which may lead to divorce. The behaviors are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. John Gottman and his team looked at which marriages fail and which ones last. They found that the marriages which made it through hard times included these behaviors:

A) Culture of Appreciation. ( Minimum of 5 times as many positive comments to one negative comment )

B) Soft start up. When a person brings up a potential disagreement it is best to begin with a loving message. Then make specific concerns and requests –  “When _______ happened, I felt ________.  ( Offer Solution ) Would you be willing to try __________ next time? ”

C) Accept responsibility for your part. ” What can I do differently next time? ”

D) Self soothing. If discussions become heated, take a break of 20-60 minutes to lower your heart rate and become less stressed. It is difficult to discuss or decide outcomes while stressed. Agree as a couple to use time outs when necessary. Remember, time outs are to be a minimum of 20 minutes and a maximum of 60.

Will love keep you together? The answer is “Yes” but loving feelings don’t last forever automatically; they require nurturance.  Couples who actively practice behaviors which increase that “loving feeling” are significantly more likely to last. Learning to communicate, manage conflict and appreciate what each person brings to the relationship are proven ways to do just that.

If you are looking for a Couples therapist in the Twin Cities area please contact Trisha Falvey, LMFT


Make EVERY Day Valentine’s Day!

” Did you hear about the man who loved his wife so much he almost told her? ” A Prairie Home Companion Best Jokes of 2003

Up here in Minnesota folks may not be best described as effusive, however there are couples everywhere who could benefit by increasing their appreciation for each other -first in thought and then in action.

Valentine’s Day calls people to appreciate their spouses or romantic partners. Valentine’s Day calls people to think more about their partner and make sure their love is known. This may be accomplished through flowers, a romantic date, a heartfelt card or countless other ways.  Valentine’s Day calls us to stop and dedicate time to appreciating our partners. This is a great idea, an idea which if practiced daily may help a relationship last.

You can make everyday Valentine’s Day with this 2 step process:

a) THINK about one positive trait of your partner

b) ACT in a way that demonstrates the appreciation you feel

To do this you simply need to take a moment and  think of a reason you appreciate your partner. After the first date it is easy to come up with someone’s shortcomings, but in the long run it is much more important to remember their assets. ( Assuming you are hoping to continue dating, remain married etc… )  So, once you have come up with one ( or more ) things you appreciate about your partner you can begin to think of an action to demonstrate this. While thinking good thoughts about one’s partner is important, it falls short if the other person has no idea that you feel this way.  There are many ways to show appreciation. Sometimes it is by doing something  you would not ordinarily do if you lived alone  ie: putting a dish in the dishwasher instead of leaving it in the sink or turning off the tv during dinner. Sometimes it is by remembering to say out loud that you care and are proud to be their partner. It could be just stopping what you are doing when they walk through the door to greet them. It does not have to be something expensive, time consuming or extravagant. It is the small acts  of affection which, when practiced daily,  help to sustain and nourish a healthy partnership.

I am glad that we have a day which calls us to celebrate partnerships. I would like to invite you to bring Valentine’s Day into your life everyday by appreciating, and acting on the love you have for each other. If you do this you will be making every day Valentine’s Day and increasing the likelihood of a loving and lasting partnership.

If you or someone you know is looking for a therapist in the Twin Cities area please call Trisha Falvey, MA. LMFT


Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015

Martin Luther King Day is here once again. It is holiday from every day life so the country may honor MLK Jr and focus on race relations. In past years we have spent the holiday celebrating all the gains Dr. King, and the millions of others who supported his work, made for civil rights. We have celebrated how far we have come as a nation.

On Martin Luther King Day 2015 there seems instead to be a sense of how far we haven’t come, and how much work continues. This can sometimes feel so disheartening we are tempted to try to ignore the pain of separation and racism which still exists. Due to the deep scars of racism we may feel unable to go forward and so instead to try to bury or minimize the problems. This is not unlike the survival mechanisms of dysfunctional family relationships, just on a larger national scale.

I have yet to find, in my work or research that problems or concerns are most effectively addressed and solved by pretending the problems are not there. On the contrary, problems need to be identified first, and attention given to solutions for the future. This  often involves feeling some hard feelings, and saying some words that are new and difficult. This often means being MORE uncomfortable for a while then when we were in denial or minimizing. While it may feel difficult, the gains include deeper honesty and greater connection. This process gives us strength and integrity that simply can not exist in systems where dysfunction thrives.

Recently I heard a colleague speak of his time in South Africa in 2010. South Africa, as a country, is actively working to eliminate racism through legal equality and healing. He spoke of meetings where both black and white South Africans were weeping, because of the pain of racism. They were acknowledging and grieving together all the years spent adhering to a system of disconnection and harm.

As a country there are many changes that need to be in place for racism to be further reduced and eliminated. While I am not a law maker or public policy creator I support their efforts to dismantle racial barriers which keep us divided. I am a family therapist, trained to help families learn better ways to communicate, support each other and heal. This can only occur when families realize there are problems in the first place. On this Martin Luther King Day 2015 I encourage all of us take a moment to acknowledge that there is a problem called racism which harms us personally and as a nation. It is by doing so that we will move forward as opposed to feeling stuck and letting racism continue.

Thank you Dr. King for helping us to become a better family. Let us not give up now!

Reduce the likelihood of Divorce by 30% – With Premarital Education & Counseling.

A research study by Stanley, Amato, Johnson and Markman found that couples who complete Premarital Counseling/Education are 30% less likely to divorce. As a Marriage and Family Therapist who is certified in Prepare/Enrich and works with many couples as they prepare for marriage, this makes perfect sense to me. I see couples learning more about each other and gathering tools for a lifetime together each time we meet.

Not only has research found that couples who complete Premarital education report higher levels of marital satisfaction, but they are also more willing to seek help in rough times. These factors, along with gaining communication tools and learning to actively nurture their marriage decrease the likelihood of divorce.

Premarital Counseling and Education is better than a wedding gift – it is a gift for your marriage that can help love last a lifetime.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself As You Choose a Therapist

Deciding to begin counseling is a big step. It may be the result of realizing you would like something to be better in your life or relationships. It may be because you are in transition or have experienced a significant loss or challenge. Finding the right therapist for you is the best way to begin. If you are having a particular concern, it may benefit you to find a therapist with expertise in that area. There are many different counseling styles, theories and techniques, however the number one factor to consider is your level of comfort with a therapist. When you first meet with a therapist you believe has the expertise you would like, here are 5 questions you can ask yourself as you choose who may be best for you.

1) Does the therapist accept you for who you are?

2) Would you be comfortable sharing personal information with this therapist?

3) Does the therapist listen without judging or interrupting?

4) Do you feel like you have to hide pieces of your life or pretend to be someone you are not?

5) What is your gut telling you?

It is a courageous step to seek counseling. You deserve to feel safe and supported during your work in therapy. Asking yourself these questions as you begin counseling is a great way to start.

If you are looking for a therapist in the Twin Cities please contact Trisha Falvey, LMFT