What is marriage coaching?

Posted by on Jul 28, 2014 in Nashville Marriage Counseling | 0 comments

So glad you asked!

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More about love, risk, and the Pacific Ocean

Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 in Nashville Marriage Counseling | 0 comments

She was 20-something years old and had moved away from the island she grew up on to give the Big City a try. Her father was terrified. He knew the stories about young, naive women moving out on their own, and he didn’t want his daughter to have any part of it. Unfortunately, his daughter wasn’t exactly known for submitting to other people’s demands.

She became a hostess at a pizza parlor close to the U.S. Naval Base. Unlike her friends, she had no interest in being an American Groupie. There were no pipe dreams about finding An Officer and a Gentleman. She simply wanted to work, make money, and help support her family back on the island.

His ship had come in. Him and his friends were out exploring this new world, the Philippines. So exotic compared to the small town in Tennessee he called home. He was recently divorced, and joined the Navy to go on the great adventure that any young man needs when looking for an escape from the drama.

He walked into the pizza parlor, so many miles from home and about as uninterested in love and marriage as one could be, and met my mother.

mom dad wedding ando st joe
(This is them in 1982.)

ando st joe
(This is the ocean that they had to cross to find each other.)

I never thought my parents’ story was terribly romantic because, well, they are my parents. Parents are, by law, unromantic.

But today the whole story takes my breath away.

He fell in love with someone he had basically nothing in common with, despite being a very logical man (he’s an accountant for crying out loud). And he did this after being freshly heartbroken. Didn’t he know better?!?

She also fell in love with someone she had nothing in common with AND THEN MOVED ACROSS THE OCEAN TO BE WITH HIM. Y’all. This is the same woman that didn’t let us cross the street until we were 24.

And it gives me chills that this whole idea that Love is Worth the Risk is in my genes. See, my DNA came from two very insane people that made me question love and marriage multiple times throughout my childhood (FYI: Jesus does save marriages), and I just can’t help but believe in the power of love.

I can’t help but believe that it’s worth taking the armor off to be fully known and loved by someone.

I can’t help but believe that there is hope for any couple willing to risk forgiving someone that has the potential to destroy your heart again.

I can’t help but believe that no matter how wrong everything seems, how differently the two of you see the world, how difficult this entire journey has been, it’s worth trying one more time.

(What happens when you take a risk AND keep trying. Also, Jesus. Lots of Jesus.)

And if you’re needing help finding hope or the desire to try one more time, then please let us see if we can help your marriage be what it’s designed to be.

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Love is worth the risk

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in Nashville Marriage Counseling | 0 comments

I am used to be a very jealous person. I mean, I once got mad because a boyfriend said that Jennifer Aniston was pretty.

When Mark and I were first dating one of our biggest struggles was my inability to get past the fact that he’d been married before. I hated that someone else had had his heart so completely. I hated that (in my head) I’d always live in her shadow, and that she’d always be the “one that got away”.

I might have read Rebecca one too many times.

And Mark didn’t understand any of this. He told me that he fell in love with her, they got married, they got divorced, and now here he was. With me. Why wasn’t that good enough?

It wasn’t good enough because I felt like sloppy seconds, and no one wants to be sloppy or second. But you can’t rewrite history. I couldn’t go back in time and unmarry them, so why was I wasting so much time and energy on this?

I have no clue. Because I’m a woman and I can’t just let things go? No matter the reason, my insecurities about his first marriage colored all of our dating life and even a little of our marriage.

Thankfully, I’ve learned to tell a different story.

In this story I’m not the sloppy seconds and he isn’t wishing I was her.

No, in this story, our love is so strong that it made someone that knows the devastation of divorce take the plunge anyway.

It’s like almost dying in a car accident and finding the courage to get back in the driver’s seat.

Or watching a business go belly up and finding an idea so great that you have to try one more time.

Mark had every reason to shut himself off to love and marriage and trying again. And when I think about the risk he took with me, how he went into our marriage eyes wide open about how this could all fall apart and he did it anyways? He let me hold his heart despite being fully aware of how fragile it is? It’s humbling to know that someone trusts you that much.

Here’s the thing, I really don’t think our love story is special. I think this kind of miracle happens every single time two people fall in love. Every day people forget about protecting themselves, and are letting people into their hearts and taking a huge risk. It’s my absolute favorite part of the human spirit, that we risk everything for love.

So what did you risk when you fell in love? What leap of faith did your spouse take by handing you his heart? Most importantly, how are you honoring that risk with your words and actions? What does your love story look like now that you see the risk?

Do you need help taking better care of your love story? Learn more about us and what we can do for you.

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Marriage ReFrames for All Your Problems

Posted by on Jul 9, 2014 in Nashville Marriage Counseling | 0 comments

new frames

One “trick” they teach you in counseling school (yes, that’s the proper name) to help couples get unstuck is to reframe the situation. It’s a technique where you figure out ways to look at your situation in a more positive or malleable way.

It’s like when you’re working on a puzzle and you’re stuck on how a piece fits. It came in the box so it has to fit, but you just can’t see it. And then you rotate the piece slightly to the left  and you see everything in a whole new way. It all makes sense once a small adjustment is made.

That’s (kinda) reframing.

In your marriage reframing can be done in a million different ways:


First look - Your husband tries to get you interested in sex by doing goofy dances in the buff to a Katy Perry song. Where is your candlelit dinner and romance, dangit? He doesn’t love you enough to put any effort into making you want him
REFRAME! Your husband is scared of rejection. If he puts a lot of effort into seducing you and you say no (like you do… a lot) he will be crushed and embarrassed. Asking in a silly way takes away some of the sting of your potential refusal, and he gets to pretend he was just joking anyways.

Movement – Now that it’s about his fear, and not whether you are worth effort, the conversation can go somewhere. You can let him know that you’re actually pretty easy when Barry White is playing and the dishes are done, and that you’d really appreciate him taking that risk for you.


First look – Your wife is fighting with her sister. She has talked to you for three days about all angles of the problem: who said what, who was wrong, what she was wearing and why that mattered. You’re sick of it and just want to watch Game of Thrones in peace. Mostly you’re tired of listening to her go on and on when you gave her the right advice 3 days ago! She never listens to you or takes your advice, so why is she still talking??

REFRAME! Your wife is emotional. Her feelings are hurt. She isn’t talking to fix anything, she is talking so that she can be understood (especially true if your wife’s Myers-Briggs type has an E and F in it). She keeps talking because she doesn’t feel understood.

Movement – This is about her feelings, and not whether or not you give good advice. Pause the season finale of Game of Thrones and listen to your wife’s feelings. Let her know that you hear her pain/stress/frustration/resentment, and that you hate that she feels that way or that she’s going through this with her sister. Point out that a similar sibling conflict is happening between the blonde queen and the dwarf and that maybe you guys could watch it together… it’s worth a shot, right?


First look - You’re in the middle of the bed time routine. Teeth are brushed, stories are read, and you’re in the home stretch of non-sensical thoughts about the day as your little one slowly drifts to sleep. Then all of a sudden dad busts in the room for a tickle fight! Fun Dad strikes again! Yay. An hour later the kid is finally asleep and you’re seriously fantasizing how you’d do as a single parent. It has to be easier than the dysfunctional three-legged race you’re running now.

REFRAME! Your husband wants to be included. He wants to participate in his beautiful family. He just doesn’t always know how, and tickling makes the kid happy and dad likes a happy kids so here we are…

Movement - This isn’t about a dad wanting to upstage mom in the Fun Department or being completely insensitive about formal bedtime procedures. It’s about helping dad develop a few more tools when it comes to interacting with the kiddos. Let him read the bedtime story or pull out the guitar for a sweet lullaby as the little guy falls asleep. Figure out ways to help everyone feel included, and make sure everyone has tools for success.

Reframing takes 3 steps:

  1. Identify the problem. What are all the pieces in the puzzle? Ambiguity is not your friend. Be as specific and focused as possible.
  2. Redirect the light. Normally we feel stuck when we’ve only considered our side in a situation. What other pieces (your spouse’s thoughts, opinions, experiences) are at play that you haven’t considered? Also, focusing on solely on your position is a main ingredient for defensiveness, a proven marriage killer.
  3. Brainstorm. Now that you have more pieces to the puzzle, what solutions can you come up with?

And if you’re feeling like this could help but you’re too stuck why not call us and see if our marriage coaching services would be a good fit in your marriage!


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Love 101: A survey

Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in Workshops and Events | 1 comment

surveySchool will be back in session before we know it, and Mark and I are brainstorming ways to teach more couples about communication and conflict resolution. Specifically, we’re thinking classes and workshops, but we wanted to get your thoughts before we got too far ahead of ourselves.

We would really appreciate any feedback you have about marriage workshops. Are you interested in them? What would you want to get out of them? Could you get your husband to spend a Saturday morning learning how to love you better? How much would you pay for such a thing?

Please fill out this survey to let us know how we can best help you and your marriage! Also, if you complete the survey before Saturday, July 5th and leave your email address (not required) you’ll be entered for a chance to win a free copy of our book This Bleep is Hard!

Also, we want to get as much feedback as possible so we’d love you forever if you’d share this post on your Facebook page and encourage your friends to share their thoughts about marriage workshops and classes for young couples. After all, it’s the Wednesday before a holiday weekend and we’re all looking for a way to procrastinate, right? Let us be your procrastination for the day!

Take the survey now!


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Make White Space

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Nashville Marriage Counseling | 0 comments

whitespaceThe other day I listened as two friends discussed how crazy their schedules were. They regretted that most of their summer had been spent chauffeuring kids to various activities. They wondered out loud if it was healthy for their family to be going so much. THEN they made plans to squeeze an impromptu play date into their already tight schedules.

I know everyone has a summer bucket list that is begging to be attended to, but I beg you to leave some white space. Your marriage needs it.

In the graphic design world white space is not simply a blank area forgotten to be filled in. White space is a design element. It isn’t wasted space, it has a job. White space points us to what is important. White space communicates elegance and wealth. White space makes the design useful and legible.

Google knows what’s up.

Our marriages need the same thing. We need time to breathe.

We need stretches of unscheduled hours that will point us to what ‘s important. (Hint: It’s not that last email from a client.)

Instead of chanting the mantra “There’s never enough time,” we need room on the  calendar for absolutely nothing (no play dates, no birthday parties, no work emails) so that we can live in the abundance of the only thing we really have: right now.

We need to cut away the excess. Say no to what doesn’t really matter so that you can say yes to the people that truly do.

We need to begin the trimming process, to find the white space, because this lack of time and attention is precisely what’s killing our marriages. Because if we’re being honest, our marriage is the first to get lost in the clutter of a busy life.

We laugh loud and hard at the idea of a spontaneous weekend getaway.

We promise to go on a date…eventually.

We rush out the door, late for work, and swap hurried kisses that you’d give your grandmother.

Yes, there are seasons of life where this is just reality and you simply trudge through. But we have to own our part of it because if we don’t, if we throw our hands in the air and always say “This is life right now,” we risk depriving our marriage of the only thing a we truly need from one another: time.

Where is your marriage’s white space?

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How to Kill the Voice in Her Head

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in Nashville Marriage Counseling | 0 comments

kill voice

Yesterday I posted a link to a blog post about 5 Minutes in a Mom’s Head (hilarious!) to Facebook and added my own commentary that if a husband could kill that voice his chances of Spontaneous Hanky Panky would increase exponentially.

Then I was challenged by my Dad’s best friend, Ed. He wanted to know how, exactly, does one kill the voice.

Challenge accepted, Sir.

First, I’m going to ignore the fact that this man, Ed, witnessed my earliest diaper changes, and I should totally NOT be giving ANY advice to him, but here we are.

The internal monologue that Honest Toddler creator, Bunmi Laditan, captured so perfectly is a wonderful tool for all husbands wanting to kill the voice that stands between him and nookie. But before you can kill you must first understand.

The voice in a mom’s head is constantly wondering if she should be do something more, less, better, or like something she saw on Pinterest. Should I be reading more books? Should we eat less Cheetos? Should I be better about not yelling? Should I chalkboard paint the lower third of all the walls in my house?

The voice in a mom’s head is constantly managing every detail of a family’s daily existence. Who needs to see a doctor today? What time does everyone have to be ready to avoid being embarrassingly late? When was the last time that toilet was cleaned? Is he showing sufficient progress with his ABC’s? A supreme pizza should get most of the nutrients in, right?

The voice in a mom’s head is wondering if she’s enough. If she really wanted the best for her kids, why does she cut so many corners? Why doesn’t she try harder? And on the days when she goes to bed feeling like, “Yes! I did it! I rock at motherhood!!!” she immediately wonders how long can she keep going at this level because Boss Lady is really going to want to sleep in tomorrow…

The core feeling to the entire monologue is failure. All moms feel like failures. Even the ones that look like they’ve got their crap together. It’s just a disguise. We all get to the end of the day and wonder if any of it was enough.

With this in mind, a husband can kill this voice in three ways:
1) Help. You know your kid’s birthday is coming up. Offer to make his Well Baby Appointment. You know that it’s going to be 80 degrees all week and the only clean clothes your kid has are only sold in Winterfell. Throw a load of summer dresses in the laundry AND REMEMBER TO DRY THEM. Remember, idle hands do not get to touch boobies after bedtime.

2) Praise. Tell her that you see what a good job she’s doing. Don’t take her work for granted. Acknowledge, with the words coming out of your mouth, that you see her and she is killing it.

3) Cuddle. Give up on the dream, and settle for some good, old-fashioned cuddling. Don’t you want a little extra shut-eye, too?

(Ladies, I’m just joking about that last one. We aren’t off the hook. Remember that breaking him off a little something, something is one of the best ways to take care of your marriage. If you have a man that’s helping, praising, and cuddling with you, you’ll want to take care of it and him.)

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