May is “date your mate” month! Wasatch Family Therapy’s Kathleen Baxter, AMFT, recently sat down for an interview on KUTV to discuss ways to keep marriage relationships strong and healthy. But first, she explained some of the biggest obstacles couples may face:
Some may panic when they realize they don’t feel the same way about their partner as they once did. But it is normal and expected for a relationship to change after marriage, so it isn’t necessarily an indication of a problem. Also, many couples “stop” being spouses because they are now parents. A couple’s devotion to their children can unfortunately lessen their devotion to each other.
It is human nature to cope. We try to make the hard things a little easier to endure. As a clinician, I have noticed that there are certain tendencies to cope that don’t help at all. These tendencies typically help us either ignore the problem or cause new ones, neither of which is effective. We live in a culture programmed for immediate gratification. Consequentially, poor coping mechanisms are easily available everywhere we turn. These mechanisms could include alcohol abuse, drug abuse, pornography, excessive gaming, excessive social networking, binge television watching, self-harm, infidelity, and even unhealthy eating patterns. You can guess how some of these behaviors could lead to addiction, and/or cause other emotional, relational, or health problems in a person’s life.
Healthy coping strategies will lead to positive outcomes, such as relief from stress or solutions to the problem. Healthy coping strategies do not rob you of the opportunity for growth. They take more effort, but the pay out is far greater and the effects long lasting. Here are some examples of healthy coping strategies you may want to add to your repertoire.
1. Exercise. The research overwhelmingly indicates the positive benefits of exercise both for the mind and body. There is no question that consistent exercise relieves stress and tension during life’s hardships. The more consistently you exercise, the more your brain will learn that a splendid cocktail of needed and pleasant hormones come after such activities. It will be a great day when something hard happens and your brain craves exercise for relief, rather than a doughnut. Lastly, exercise can lead to better sleep, and of course we cope better when we aren’t tired and grumpy.
2. Talk to a friend. Sometimes when things are hard, we have the tendency to isolate ourselves. This can be caused by the shame we are experiencing due to our problems. However, loneliness just leads to more problems and unhappiness. Though it is hard to talk to others about our problems, we know that it leads to a sense of relief and strengthens essential supportive relationships. Sometimes people use social networking or infidelity for a faux sense of connection, rather than going through the appropriate channels such as family and friends, to meet essential connection needs.
3. Spiritual Practices. I am not talking exclusively religion here. Many times when things get rough, we are so focused on the chaos outside us, that we forget to nurture what is on the inside of us. Spiritual relief comes in many different ways for many people. This could include prayer, meditation, being in nature, music, service, and many other possibilities. These practices increase self-awareness and bring the body out of fight or flight mode, which in the long term can be very destructive to our health and relationships.
Try adding at least one of these strategies to your life consistently, over an extended period of time, and I promise you will notice a big difference. Happy coping!
I have noticed that most parents try their best to teach their children to succeed. Of course we do! All parents want their children to grow into successful happy adults. No parent wants his or her child to suffer or be unhappy. Fortunately, life will always bring struggles and hardship no matter how much we love or prepare our children. Yes, I said fortunately.
When we don’t allow ourselves as parents to struggle, our kids never watch it or learn how to do it themselves. Children can develop the belief that everything has to be okay all the time. “Mom and Dad always have it together, so I should too.” That is an expectation that will surely be met with disappointment and failure. Here are some ways you can help your children expect struggles and embrace them.
This may come as a surprise to you, but sex begins long before you make it to the bedroom. Many people report needing to feel emotionally close to their partner before they get physically close to their partner. Sex can be the most vulnerable you become with another person and so you need to feel safe emotionally with your partner. What does emotional intimacy look like? I have heard many couples describe this as feeling “connected”. To become more emotionally intimate you can spend more quality time with your partner. Be open with each other. Share your thoughts and feelings with one another. Try talking about things that don’t revolve around the tasks of running a household. Share your fears, sorrows, dreams, and excitement for life. Play together. This could be as simple as laughing with one another or doing something new together. Make sure you spend quality alone time to develop emotional intimacy and build trust with your partner.
Hi everyone! My name is Kathleen Baxter and I am a new Marriage and Family Therapist(MFT) here at Wasatch Family Therapy. It has been a wonderful experience being on the team so far and I am thrilled to introduce myself to all of you readers.
First off, I would like to give you a little of my personal background. I have lived in Utah most of my life and I love it here! I am a huge outdoors fanatic. I love camping, hiking, 4-wheeling, fishing, water sports, and anything else that gets me outside. Some of my hobbies include cake decorating, rollerblading, gardening, softball, and music. I have been married to my best friend for 4 ½ years now and it is the most rewarding relationship in my life. He makes marriage bliss.
Deciding to become a therapist was a rather easy decision for me. It all started when I was a high school senior in AP psychology. I fell in love! I went on to receive my Bachelor degree in Psychology from Weber State University. There I had the opportunity to develop my fascination with research outcomes and the power of new knowledge. While deciding what kind of clinician I wanted to be, I noticed I was enamored with my relationship-centered courses. This is when I decided to become an MFT. At one point, I volunteered in a group that facilitated prison inmates on their way back into society. In the group we brought victims and perpetrators of crimes together to share their experiences. I couldn’t help but notice that sexual trauma survivors were often abused by their own family members. It was here that I developed an interested in working with sexual trauma and specifically incestuous families.
After Weber State, I was accepted to Brigham Young University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program. It was here that I developed a deep passion for working with couples and families. Here I explored my interests in working with sexual trauma survivors. I wrote my thesis on the challenging dynamics within families in which incest occurs and how to adapt new treatment protocol for these families. While at BYU I also developed a new passion for doing sex therapy with couples. I love helping couples get “unstuck” and rekindling that spark.
While at BYU I also had the valuable experience of working for Women’s Services and Resources. Here I developed a strong love and admiration for women who are trying to combat all the negative influences that our society throws at them. I worked with women who struggled with depression, anxiety, pornography addiction, as well as eating disorders.
This is the path that brought me to Wasatch Family Therapy. I look forward to developing professionally and personally working with such kind and talented clinicians. I am excited to be here and I am looking forward to my future here at Wasatch.
I’d love to talk with you about how I can help you and your family.
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