Lepage Associates Newsletter
Mental Health Matters
February 2010
Lepage Associates
Call: (919) 572-0000
In This Issue
Disaster Proof Your Relationship
The Keys to Relationship Fulfillment
Disaster Proof
Your Relationship


As Carrie Bradshaw asked, 'Wouldn't it be great if we had a flashing sign to tell us when our relationship is headed in the wrong direction?' What are some signs that your relationship is on the rocks? Here are a few ways to know if you or your partner has had enough, and how to keep your relationship afloat.


We never talk anymore...


Communication is crucial to relationship success. Asking questions, telling stories, and learning about each other all lead to a bond between partners. When you feel like one of those silent couples in a restaurant, it may be an indication that the love boat is getting ready to dock. The ability to talk to one another forms a connection between you that is different than other relationships. Consider setting aside a time each week that is dedicated to talking about what is going on with yourselves and each other. Time spent talking is time spent bringing value to your relationship.


You only notice what I do wrong....


All couples have disagreements, but when you find yourself or your partner focusing on the negative it's time to pay attention. When you or your partner persistently pick fights and make critical judgments there may be an underlying problem that is not being addressed. It's time to start addressing each other's concerns as well as catching each other doing something positive.


You don't bother to put the toilet seat down anymore.




When was the last time you washed your hair?


Over time we become more comfortable with one another and no longer feel we have to be on our best behavior. While this comfort is a great part of long term relationships, we also can drift towards apathy and taking each other for granted. Remember that time in your relationship when you used to make sure you cleaned your apartment and got dressed up for dates? How did it cross the line from comfortable jeans to sweats? You don't have to wear stilettos or always have a freshly scrubbed toilet, but you can demonstrate that you care enough to take care of yourself and your surroundings. It may be time to spice things up a bit by changing the routine. Plan a special date to a romantic restaurant or surprise your significant other at the office with lunch. A small change in the usual can bring some surprising results.


I need some space.....


Are you feeling overwhelmed with couple time? Feeling smothered is a big sign that things need to change in your relationship. You may not actually be spending any more or less time together than previously, but somehow, the time spent together has become less enjoyable. Remembering that it's ok to have time apart, whether you spend time in a hobby or visiting with friends, it's important to have a sense of your own individuality. This helps you appreciate the time spent with your partner as well as break the cycle of one person always chasing the other. Take turns making plans as a couple - and don't take it personally when one of you needs some alone time.


Do your problems seem more complicated than this...read on for tips to feel more fulfilled in your relationship. 



During the month of February we're inundated with messages about romance. Rather than boycotting Valentine's Day, here are some tips to help make your relationship even better than it is!.
Also check out our fun and informative In the News article about 7 Ways To Get More Sex. Then, come join us for the first lunch in our 2010 Lunch and Learn Series:
Love, Sex & Relationships, beginning on February 19th at noon to talk more about this topic. Check back for our full list of seminars soon.
The Keys to
Relationship Fulfillment 

Have you found yourself feeling less and less fulfilled by your marriage? Have you found yourself nagging or criticizing more lately? Want to know what you can do about it? Stop your 'griping' and do this instead! 


In a time of such uncertainty in our country (When will the economy pick up? Will I lose my job? etc), many people look to their spouses (usually the people closest to us in proximity) to explain how stressed they feel. It is not uncommon for people to report feeling less close to their spouses when they are experiencing other stress in their life, a result of mistakenly identifying their spouse's deficiencies as the sole cause for their discomfort (when in reality, a great deal of this discomfort may be coming from others places in their life). It is often helpful, when faced with uncertainty, to focus on what you DO have control over, and what many people do not often realize is how much control they have over the satisfaction they receive in their marriage.  


John Gottman, a leading researcher in couples dynamics, offers 7 principles that can help you feel more fulfilled in your marriage (from his book with Nan Silver, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work):


1. Enhance your "love maps":  

This principle focuses on increasing how much you know about your partner. While we typically spend a lot of time in the beginning of a relationship getting to each other, the time we spend on this tends to decrease until you can't even name your spouse's coworkers anymore.  Continuing to learn about your partner will help you feel closer. So go ahead and ask some questions! What are some goals they have? What about current stresses?

2. Nurture you fondness and admiration: What we focus on tends to expand (Ever notice the longer you stare at dirty clothes on the bedroom floor, the angrier you become?). Steer your brain toward positive aspects of your partner more often, like what a creative cook they are or their sense of adventure.


3. Turn toward your partner instead of away: Generally people are more fulfilled when they have a good dose of interaction with others. However, your partner may have learned to not turn toward you to look for interaction (possibly because you give advice when they'd rather have you listen instead). Be on the lookout for your partner's "bids" for your attention and answer them. For example, positively acknowledge when they speak by asking a question or making a comment, despite how trivial you think it may be. See how long you can go without giving a dismissive shrug or eye roll.


4. Let your partner influence you: Gottman's research showed marriages are less likely to end in divorce when a husband allows himself to be influenced by his wife (other research has shown married men tend to live longer, most likely for this exact reason when it relates to listening to your wife when she says it's time to have a check-up). Bottom line, you're not going to be very happy if all your energy goes into trying to get your partner to see things your way (aka "the right way").


5. Solve your solvable problems:The key to doing this is by talking to your spouse as if you were having a disagreement with a guest in your home. When a guest has done something we don't like, we politely assume there must have been a misunderstanding or acknowledge our part in the problem. The soft start-up to these conversations usually ends in much better conflict resolution then the blaming, defensiveness, and criticism that can plague disagreements with our partner. In short, be polite.


6. Overcome gridlock: Every marriage has problems that will NEVER be solved. That's okay. What can make these problems easier is by moving from gridlock to dialogue. Have the new goal of conversations around these topics be "How can I understand why this is so important to you?" instead of "How can I make you change your mind?" How can you be respectful of the differences between the two of you?


7. Create shared meaning: What makes the two of you a couple? What are the rituals the two of you have? What values do you share? What symbols or objects have special meaning to the two of you? Answering these questions and fostering an accepting culture between the two of you can help you add to these answers and feel more connected and fulfilled in your marriage.


If you have any questions about these principles, or need help implementing them into your marriage, feel free to give Dr. Nicole Imbraguglio a call (572-0000) or email (nimbraguglio@lepageassociates.com).





Monthly Reader
Each month we will recommend a book that someone at our practice has found useful.
This month's book is:
Love Is Never Enough
by Aaron Beck, MD 

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Happy Valentine's Day!