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Date Night Just Got Easier: SL Tribune

A new date night service for married couples called “See You at Seven” was featured in the Salt Lake Tribune’s article “Don’t let dating end with marriage”. It also features a couple of quotes from me about the importance of continuing to date your spouse and why some people married couples stop dating.  Check it out here (my quotes are on pg. 2)

Read article in Salt Lake Tribune

Ask Julie: How do I get hubby to turn off his cell phone?

Ask Julie: How do I get hubby to turn off his cell phone?

Q: “My big question is how do you tell your spouse to turn off his cell phone?

I am a stay-at-home mom so as soon as hubby gets home from work, my mouth keeps going
about my day, then the cell phone rings, but he has to take the call
because that is our income. So what do you do? He has to take the call
no matter what time of day because it could mean more money for us,
but wow, I want him to listen to me. What do I do?”

A: The goal is really less about getting him to turn off his phone, but more about helping him to hear your longing to be closer to him.

The good news is that you’re still trying to figure out how to get your husband’s full attention and to let him know how much you’ve missed him during the day.  My guess is that you’re husband has no idea how much you need him, how much you miss him, and how you look forward to reconnecting with him when he arrives home.  The goal is really less about getting him to turn off his phone, but more about understanding your heart and your longing to be closer to him.

As you approach this touchy subject with your husband make sure that your goal is not to control his behavior but to deepen your understanding of one another.  Complaining and criticizing rarely get you what you want and often backfire by creating more disconnection.  Ask yourself how you’re doing in really getting his heart about the burden and responsibility he feels in providing for your family in an uncertain economy. What is it like for him to feel so much pressure to be immediately available to his clients, employees, or whatever the case may be even when he’s not at work.

Here’s a great formula for expressing yourself in a kind, clear, and direct way.

I feel _____________________ (your emotion)

when you __________________(his specific behavior)

because I think ______________ (your thought).

It would mean a lot to me if _____________________ (your requested behavior change).

Try something like “I feel sad and scared when you take phone calls while I’m talking to you because I think that I’m not important to you. It would mean a lot to me if you would turn off the phone for 20 mins. right when you get home so I can touch base with you and have your full attention. When you’re gone at work I really miss you. I appreciate how hard you work to provide for our family.”

Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is a licensed therapist, self & relationship expert, media contributor, and director of Wasatch Family Therapy.  Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com for individual, couple, family, & group counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family. Listen to Julie’s podcast You and Yours on the Women’s Information Network (The Win), and hear Julie every Monday morning at 7AM on B98.7!

Improving Communication Handouts – Plain City

Thanks for a wonderful evening discussing way we can better share our hearts with our loved ones. I’m still working on the handouts so I’ll post that tomorrow.

Remember…

Your spouse, friend, family member is doing what they can to maintain important relationships, even when it feels like they’re pushing you away.

Keep in mind that below the surface we all need to feel safe, connected, loved, valued, appreciated, and “seen”.

Handouts

Click here for workshop handout

Music

Buy Masterpiece CD on DeseretBook.com

Julie de Azevedo

Download Masterpiece CD on iTunes.com

Counseling

Find out more about my therapy practice

Get more marriage and family relationship advice

Watch KSL TV Segments

Music Video

I’d love your feedback about the workshop. Please post comments below.

Marriage Q & A – Is date night too much to ask? & I’m never in the mood!

This marriage Q & A article published yesterday in a local women’s magazine “Wasatch Woman Magazine. I love writing for women! Can you relate to either of these scenarios?

Is date night too much to ask?

Q: My husband and I spend most weekend evenings attending our children’s sporting events and never go out on dates. He says it’s because he wants to make sure we’re there to support our kids during this short time window of time before they grow up, but I’m feeling increasingly resentful, hurt, and neglected by him. What should I do?
(read my answer on pg. 17…)

I just don’t think about sex!

Q: After 10 years of marriage my husband complains that I don’t desire him physically. He feels hurt that I don’t initiate lovemaking and that I’m rarely “in the mood”. I love my husband, find him attractive, but sex rarely crosses my mind. Should I have sex even when I’m not in the mood?  (read my answer on pg 17…)

Can you relate? What advice would you give?

All He Wants for Christmas is You – Studio 5

All He Wants For Christmas is You

but first…a sneak peak behind the scenes on Studio 5 set (& attempt to try out my new iPhone app)


Studio 5 contributor and licensed therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW shares meaningful gifts of self to give your spouse this Christmas.

The most meaningful Christmas gifts don’t require much money, but do require thought, time, and awareness. Though it’s fun to shop and wrap gifts, we ultimately all wish for the same emotional gifts from our spouse — things that can’t be purchased – gifts of self. We all long for reassurance that we are loved and cherished, for comfort when we are sad or hurt or scared, and for validation that our experience matters to the person we love the most. Even if your husband doesn’t have the words to express these wishes, he longs for the same emotional gifts too. Here are some ideas to get you started thinking less about gifts you can buy and more about gifts you can offer from your heart.

1. Gift of Emotions

Tell your emotional truth

Too often, in an effort not to hurt your spouse’s feelings, you may have stopped expressing the full range of emotions – your hurts, your fears, your anger and your joys, and dreams. “I don’t want to be a nag” or “I ‘m supposed to be nice and happy all of the time” are common phrases I hear in my therapy office as reasons women stop expressing themselves. It’s helpful to consider that intimacy means “into-me-see” or see into me. True intimacy requires a deep level of emotional honesty and the tender expression of a full range of emotions, not just the good, happy, nice ones. Your thoughts, your feelings, and your expression of them are what make you uniquely you.

Ask for what you really want

Sending clear signals about what you need emotionally from your spouse can be difficult. It requires an internal awareness and a willingness to ask deeper questions that go below the surface. Behind every complaint and criticism you have for your spouse is an emotional plea for closeness. Practice going below the complaint and expressing the emotional need directly. Instead of saying, “You always work so much! Are you going to be working until 8PM forever? I’m sick of eating dinner alone.” try saying, “I want to spend more time with you. I’m afraid that I’m not important to you. Can we plan a date night for this weekend?” Trust me. Being direct with your emotional needs is a gift to him.

More gifts of emotion:

Write a handwritten love letter describing in detail what you love your spouse and what they mean to you.

Write an apology of letter or forgiveness for past hurts.

Share your “Bucket List” with your spouse.

2. Gift of Attention

Push the pause button

When is the last time you really listened to your spouse? Do often find that you’re so busy with children, household chores, or other commitments that you rarely look your spouse in the eye and talk? If your conversations with your hubby are while you’re multitasking – unloading the dishwasher or texting or watching TV, you may want to practice “pushing the pause button”. If you’re focused on other things, you’ll miss the meaning behind what your hubby is trying to tell you. Too often couples I see in my practice are so distracted by other activities or so busy reacting from their own intense emotions that they completely bypass the emotional meaning of their spouse’s expression.

Here’s an example of how this might play out in a therapy session. In an effort to reach out to his wife John says, “I really miss you. You’ve been so preoccupied since our son was born. Let’s spend some alone time together.”

Megan responds defensively, “I’m trying to be a good mother. You know this is all new for me. I’m overwhelmed and I’m trying to be there for you – can’t you see that? Megan, flooded by her own emotions missed John’s main message of, “I miss you. I need you” and she heard some version of “You’re not good enough.”

If Megan had “paused” her emotions response and slowed down her reaction enough to hear his emotional message she might have said something like, “Oh, John, you really miss me and want to spend time together. Thank you for reassuring me of that.” Then once John is heard, Megan can share with John how she is feeling about the transition to motherhood. Putting your emotions temporarily on hold and really hearing your spouse is truly a gift.

Learn to speak his love language

Ask your hubby how he feels most loved and learn to be more proficient in his “language”. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, identified distinct categories of how people experience love: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and gifts. Couples often give love in their own language instead of in their partner’s language. For example, if your husband’s primary love language is acts of service then make a special home cooked meal, or surprise him by doing all of his household chores. If his language is physical touch, actively approach him for a hug and kiss, hold his hand, sit by him, initiate physical intimacy more often. Offering love in his language will help him feel deeply loved by you.

More gifts of attention:

Ask him about the times he feels most loved and cherished. Take notes and do something from his list every day for a week.

Plan a candlelight dinner, turn off all electronics, and talk.

Plan a playful night of physical intimacy with your spouse.

3. Gift of Memories

Keep track of the good stuff

Do you keep a mental note of your spouse’s failings, or of past hurts or offenses? This year try write your hubby a Christmas letter recounting all of the good times, family milestones, and positive relationship moments. I knew a couple who did this for a few decades now enjoy a beautiful book containing years of personal expressions celebrating their memories of each year, significant family events, and the evolution of their love. To reflect on tender feelings and focus on the positive memories created through the years will validated that your husband is indeed cherished and loved.

Revisit the romance

Often I hear couples complain that they feel more like roommates than lovers.

After the initial infatuation of new relationships has faded, reclaiming and rekindling those romantic feelings takes…effort.

When is the last time you talked with your spouse about early romantic feelings that brought you together, browsed through your wedding photo book, or looked through photos of your favorite vacations? You don’t have to take a trip to the location of your honeymoon or first date to rekindle romance, just take a trip with your hubby down memory lane.

More gifts of memories:

Create a photo book of your favorite memories.

Create a relationship soundtrack CD with a mix of songs that have special meaning to you.

Plan a date to revisit a visiting a romantic location that has special meaning to you as a couple.

Learn more about my therapy practice

Gifts of Self: All he wants for Christmas is you: LDW Magazine

All He Wants for Christmas is You

I’m thrilled that Latter-day Woman Magazine invited me to write their “Love” article in their newly published Winter 2010 issue…

“Finding the perfect gift for your spouse is an exciting part of the holiday season. But fighting crowds to snag one of the latest must-have items and squeezing money out of a tight budget can make gift-giving stressful. While I wouldn’t mind a new iPad under the tree this year, (listening, Santa?) the best gifts are those that don’t require money, but require thought and time and emotional awareness.”

Read my tips on giving meaningful gifts of self…

Read Article online

Download PDF

What are you giving your spouse for Christmas?
What’s been the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received, and why?

Good Parenting is Not What You Think: Studio 5

What you may not know about good parenting

Studio 5 contributor and therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW, shares important parenting skills you might be overlooking.


Good Parenting is not just about you treat your child. I recently stumbled across a recent blog on PsychologyToday.com highlighting surprising research — two out of the three most effective parenting skills don’t directly involve interacting with your kids. In the recent issue of Scientific American Mind (Nov./Dec. 2010)“What Makes A Good Parent?” psychologist and researcher by Robert Epstein, PhD found that while showing love and affection to your child is the most important parenting skills, how you treat yourself and how your interact with your spouse or co-parent rank second and third. While real parents are quite good at love and affection, they report poorer scores on areas stress management and adult relationship skills.

These results aren’t surprising to me and coincide with my professional journey. Interestingly, all of my early training was in play therapy working directly with children, but within a few years I realized that the best thing I could do for children was to help support their mother’s emotional well-being and to support their parent’s in developing healthy relationships. In my practice I frequently see well-meaning parents who don’t take good care of themselves and their adult relationships and their children suffer. A common dynamic I often see in my practice working with divorced families is parents speaking poorly of their child’s other parent or putting the child in the middle of conflict between co-parents, with devastating impact on their child

Improve your parenting by developing skill these 2 areas:

Stress Management

Have realistic expectations for yourself
Take a “time out” when you’re overwhelmed
Practice optimism

Healthy Adult Relationship

Talk positively about other parent
Model affection & communication
Keep child out of middle

The Parents’ 10 Competencies

1-Love and affection – respect & support, physical affection, quality time together

2-Stress management – reduce stress, practice relaxation, positive outlook

3-Relationships skills – model good relationship with spouse/significant other, co-parent

4-Autonomy & Independence – treat child with respect and encourage self-sufficiency

5-Education & learning – promote learning and provide opportunities

6-Life skills – provide financially, plan for future

7-Behavior management – use positive reinforcement and punish as last resort

8-Health – model healthy lifestyle

9-Religion – support child’s spiritual and religious development

10-Safety – protect child & have awareness of child’s activities

Free Parenting Test

Test your competency in the “Parents 10” skill areas. Take this free online test :
myparentingskills.com

Pat yourself on the back for your strengths and then make a plan to improve in the areas with lower scores. According to Dr. Epstien, good parenting skills can be learned and parenting classes can be an effective way to improve your parenting and help raise a happier, healthier child.