Delaware Marriage Counselor: Coping with Empty Nest Syndrome – Together

November 9, 2013

As a Delaware marriage counselor, I understand how tough it can be for couples after all their children grow up and leave home. For years, a large part of your identity was likely based on being a parent, and when your adult kids no longer need you on a daily basis, you’re left to reform your identity and revisit your relationship with your partner. This isn’t a bad thing, but some couples struggle to figure out their new relationship dynamic in the absence of their kids. Sound like you? See if this relationship advice helps.

How Couples Can Survive the Empty Nest: Tips from a Delaware Marriage Counselor

Stay curious about your partner. When your kids lived at home, you probably asked them how their day at school was or what they were planning on doing over the weekend. You should make an effort to be just as curious about your partner. You might think that you know everything there is to know about one another, but you may be surprised about the new things you can learn if you just keep asking questions.

Make time for dates. Setting aside time for dates may have been a challenge when you had young kids at home, but one of the benefits of having an empty nest is that you have more time to go out with your partner. Take this opportunity to reinvent your date night: go to new restaurants that you both want to try, take turns planning dates for one another, explore parts of your town or city that you haven’t spent much time in. Doing these types of activities together will help you get to know each other again.

Learn a new skill together. If you find yourself thinking about your kids a lot once they leave home, talk to your partner about learning a new skill together. You might try learning a language, taking up a sport, doing a craft project, or just about anything else the two of you can think of. Learning something together will give you more time to bond and also help keep you from missing your kids as much.

Help each other stay in touch with your kids. Remember that just because your kids are no longer living at home doesn’t mean you’ll never see or hear from them again. You and your partner can set up times when you can both call or Skype with your kids, or plan a trip to a child’s college campus for Parents’ Weekend.

Talk to a Delaware marriage counselor. If you and your partner are struggling with empty nest syndrome or wondering where your relationship is going after your children leave home, you should consider talking to a Delaware marriage counselor. Having an empty nest can be a tough transition, and you and your partner should feel like you have support as you transition to this new stage of your life.

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Delaware Marriage Therapist: Preparing Your Relationship for Your First Child

October 24, 2013

Seeing a Delaware marriage therapist might not be the first thing on your mind when you and your partner have your first child together, and that’s very understandable. Suddenly the new addition to your family is at the forefront of your thoughts, and you may feel like you don’t have any time or energy left to focus on your relationship.

However, even if you don’t want to see a marriage counselor, you should make an extra effort to focus on your relationship after your first child. Relationship issues can quickly escalate when partners are sleep deprived, trying to navigate parenthood, and attempting to figure out their new role in the family.

Delaware Marriage Therapist Offers Tips for Couples Expecting Their First Child

Figure out how to divide domestic duties. There’s no getting around it—there will be a lot more household duties once you welcome a baby into your family. Figuring out who’s going to do things like clean up the kitchen, change diapers, or get up with the baby in the middle of the night can be a huge source of contention, so head off this problem by sitting down with your partner ahead of time and discussing how you’ll divide tasks. It may work best for you to trade off tasks on a daily or weekly basis, so one person does not get stuck doing the same things all the time.

Discuss logistics. Sure, it’s not the most romantic activity, but you and your partner need to discuss the practical implications of having your first child rather than just playing it by ear. Discuss whether one parent is going to take some time off from work, how much time they will take off, and what that will mean for the family’s income. As a Delaware marriage therapist, I know that stressing out over money is a huge source of relationship issues, but having a plan in place can help ease anxieties.

Plan for date nights. Before you have your first child, you may take alone time with your partner for granted. However, once the new baby arrives, you may inadvertently neglect your significant other. This can lead to feelings of rejection, which can turn into bigger relationship issues, so you need to make an extra effort to spend time with your partner. Plan to get a babysitter every so often so that you can spend time together and remember what you love about one another.

Learn to be flexible. As much as I’ve advocated planning ahead, there’s only so much a Delaware marriage therapist—or anyone—can prepare you for. Having a child for the first time will be accompanied by plenty of surprises. You may find that the baby doesn’t want to nap on the schedule you’ve set up, or that there are new domestic duties that you never even anticipated. Be prepared to learn alongside your partner as you raise your child.

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Delaware Relationship Counselor: Practice the Skill of Mirroring

October 10, 2013

A lot of people seek out the help of a Delaware relationship counselor because they are experiencing a conflict with their partner and just can’t understand their partner’s perspective. They’ll claim that marriage issues are coming up because they feel like their partner has changed or has started picking fights out of the blue. The true reason behind most of these marriage issues, though, is that we go into a relationship with ideas of who a person is, and it’s only later that we begin to see all that person’s complexities. This causes us to realize that they’re not always going to do what we expect or want all of the time, and this can be an unpleasant surprise.

However, these differences between expectation and reality don’t have to spell the end of a long-term relationship.  It’s possible to work through conflicts with your partner and better understand where they’re coming from by practicing the skill of mirroring.

What is Mirroring? Delaware Relationship Counselor Explains

Mirroring in the context of a relationship involves repeating what your partner has said so that you can better understand their true meaning. This absolutely does not mean doing a sarcastic imitation of your partner or throwing their words back at them in a hurtful way. In fact, if you don’t think you can neutrally repeat your partner’s words in the heat of the moment, you should wait to calm down before practicing mirroring. If you do feel ready to practice mirroring, here is what you can do:

Listen first. Pay close attention to what your partner is saying; don’t interrupt. This is one of the hardest things to learn, but a Delaware relationship counselor can help.

Restate. Tell your partner that you want to make sure you understand what they’re saying, and that repeating what they’ve just said back to them will help. Ask them if you got the restatement right.

Give your partner a chance to elaborate. If your partner says that you got what they said wrong, give them a chance to re-explain. If they say you got it right, gently ask if there’s more they’d like to add.

Share your perspective. Once your partner feels they’ve said all they need to say, go ahead and explain how you feel about the conflict. Try to be as clear as possible, and don’t just cast blame onto your partner.

Mirroring requires a lot of patience, and it can take time to get good at it. If you and your partner practice this skill, though, you’ll be better prepared to confront marriage issues as they come up. And if you’d like more advice on how to incorporate mirroring into your relationship, consider visiting a Delaware relationship counselor. I know that I would be glad to talk to you and your partner about this form of dialoguing.

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Delaware Marriage Therapist: How Couples Recover from an Emotional Affair

September 5, 2013

Contrary to what some may believe, my job as a Delaware marriage therapist isn’t just to help couples repair their relationship after one or both has committed adultery by sleeping with someone outside of their marriage. In fact, one problem I’ve been seeing more and more lately is a couple trying to recover after a partner has had an emotional affair.

Many partners don’t even immediately realize they are having this type of affair because they believe that it’s not cheating if they’re not having sex. However, cheating isn’t just about sex, it’s about betraying your partner’s trust. If you’ve been carrying on a flirtation over email or Facebook, or have been secretly meeting someone you’re attracted to for lunch, you may be doing just as much emotional damage to your partner as if you had committed adultery.

So how can partners restore trust and resolve relationship issues after an emotional affair?

The Key to Recovery is Open Communication, Says Delaware Marriage Therapist

Every couple will go through the recovery process after an emotional affair differently, but the most important thing to remember is that you must rebuild trust, and the best way to rebuild trust is to communicate openly. Both partners need to be honest with each other about how they’re feeling. Holding on to negative emotions and pretending everything is alright is only going to create more damaging relationship issues in the long run.

The partner who has cheated also needs to be honest and take responsibility for the affair, rather than making excuses for why they did what they did. Admitting to themselves and their partner that their behavior constituted infidelity is a major step towards recovery.

Not only do both partners need to talk to each other and be honest, they need to take turns really listening to one another. Listening shows that you care about your partner and want to do everything in your power to meet his or her needs, and actively listening is how we develop compassion for another person. Don’t interrupt your partner when they are talking – let them get everything they need to say off their chest before you take your turn.

Delaware Marriage Therapist: It Takes Time

Recovering from an emotional affair will take time for both partners, and sometimes it’s just too much to do on your own. If you and your partner are currently struggling to move on after an emotional affair, talk to a Delaware marriage therapist.

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Delaware Marriage Counselor: How to Develop a Conscious Partnership

August 23, 2013

As a Delaware marriage counselor, I’ve talked to clients who say that sometimes they feel incredibly close to their partner, but other times they just don’t understand where their partner is coming from. Relationship problems arise when we get into arguments and can’t empathize with the other person. Whenever the couples I counsel tell me this, I work with them on an Imago therapy practice called developing a conscious partnership.

If you’re not familiar with Imago therapy, you may not understand what a conscious partnership is. The founder of Imago therapy, Harville Hendrix, describes it as “a relationship that fosters maximum psychological and spiritual growth.” That means that each person is supporting their partner’s psychological well-being by working to understand their feelings and personal history.

What Does a Conscious Partnership Look Like? Delaware Marriage Counselor Explains

Couples who want a conscious partnership need to dialogue when they are having relationship problems rather than becoming combative or ignoring whatever’s been going wrong. This dialogue shouldn’t focus on what one partner perceives as the other’s faults, but should instead concentrate on how each partner feels. No one’s a mind-reader, so even if you think your partner should be able to intuit how you feel, they’ll never know exactly what’s going through your mind until you tell them.

Talking through relationship problems is important because most of the time, an argument isn’t just about what’s happening at the time – it’s also about past unresolved issues. By dialoguing with your partner, you can get to the real source of the problem faster and work together to resolve the issue.

Delaware Marriage Counselor: A Conscious Partnership Takes Time

Developing a conscious partnership takes practice, and that’s why you and your partner need to keep up an ongoing dialogue, even when you’re not in the middle of a heated conflict. By communicating honestly and openly, you’ll be better able to empathize with one another when relationship problems do arise, and you’ll be able to work together to overcome them rather than just fighting.

Of course, starting this kind of dialogue is not always easy; sometimes you just don’t know where to begin. If you’re feeling lost but want to work on developing a conscious partnership with your significant other, the two of you should try talking to a Delaware marriage counselor who has been trained in Imago therapy.

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Delaware Counselor Walt Ciecko Offers Insights on How to Sustain Better Relationships

February 9, 2012

Imago therapist Walt Ciecko is dedicated to helping you find, develop, and enjoy positive relationships. In his Delaware counselor blog, Walt introduces you to unique ideas and insights to help you grow more nurturing relationships, troubleshoot difficult ones, and explore the concepts of great thinkers like Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.

Three types of visitors might particularly enjoy this material:

1. You're having trouble finding/sustaining meaningful relationships.

Maybe you’ve been looking for love, unsuccessfully, and you crave better answers regarding what’s holding you back. Or maybe you're simply having trouble meeting new friends here in Delaware. You want to know: is it you? Is it the people you're meeting? Or is it some combination? This blog will help you find relationships that really work.

2. You're struggling with one or more key relationships.

Maybe you and your spouse have grown distant since the kids were born. Or maybe you and a business partner/long-time friend cannot talk about a work problem without fighting. This blog will serve up useful ideas and strategies to get your communication back on track.

3. You’d like to get more out of an already fulfilling relationship.

Perhaps you want to revitalize your spark in the bedroom; or maybe you crave more meaningful conversations with a parent or close friend who’s been stricken with a disease. Again, this blog will open your mind to positive and resourceful ways of getting more out of your relationships.

Why Yet Another Delaware Counselor Blog?

There’s certainly no shortage of information and advice on the web about how to improve/sustain better relationships. However, Walt offers a uniquely valuable perspective. As a practicing and well respected therapist, Walt can help you filter this advice and avoid getting distracted by fluff or by irrelevant/inaccurate ideas.

If you're interested in connecting with a licensed Delaware counselor and psychologist, give Walt a call today at 302-429-0195 Ext 1.

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Walt Ciecko, Ph. D., BCB
605 Wynyard Rd
Wilmington, DE 19803