Household Tasks

Performing household tasks- such as washing dishes and doing the laundry – are an inevitability of adult life.  Every individual has different preferences and standards for the levels of cleanliness that he/she upholds. When a couple chooses to cohabitate, they must also reconcile any differences in the performance of household tasks.  

It is not uncommon for couples to become stuck in a pattern of frustration surrounding the division or completion of menial tasks. If it goes unaddressed, what was seemingly small can- over time- feel monumental.  Here are some pieces of insight to help prevent or remedy this issue in your own relationship:

  • Keep in mind that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to divide household tasks; what works for one couple may be ineffective for another.  For example, there are some couples who may function best with a 50/50 split, while others may prefer a more fluid approach, and still others may have an arrangement where one partner completes the lion’s share of all household tasks.  All of these arrangements can work, as long as the situation is agreeable to both partners.
  • Getting help means relinquishing control. If you like tasks to be completed in a specific way, it may be challenging to allow your partner to take over.  If your partner is unfamiliar with a task, it may be appropriate to provide some amount of guidance if this can be done while maintaining a stance of mutual respect.  Once you have agreed to divvy up tasks, however, it is important that you allow your partner to have autonomy in completing his or her share; otherwise, you may be inadvertently signing up to complete more tasks than you would prefer.

To learn more about navigating household tasks with your partner, contact one of our couples counselors by clicking below:

Book an appointment with Artemis Counseling and Creative Life

Written by Joanna Aslanian, LPC, ATR-P

Creating and Maintaining Emotional Intimacy

Couples who come through our office often cite communication challenges and a lack of physical intimacy as main areas of concern.  An important third element in the relationship equation is the concept of emotional intimacy. Being able to communicate effectively and productively is a must, but it does not necessarily equate to emotional intimacy.  

So what exactly is emotional intimacy?  One could argue that a definition of this abstract feeling is highly subjective–but for the purpose of this blog, I will establish two main components:

  • An interest and in-depth understanding of each others’ internal worlds.  Effective communication is essential, but if it is only being used to discuss superficial aspects of your lives together, it will not do much to bring you closer together on an emotional level.  Asking questions and exploring one another’s passions, dreams, fears, and future aspirations are examples of topics that will lead to connection on a deeper emotional level.
  • Being vulnerable. Vulnerability precedes intimacy because it opens a pathway to your inner world that only a select few individuals are allowed to access.  By making yourself vulnerable, you are creating the opportunity for yourself to be fully known and accepted–and inviting your partner to do the same.

Both effective communication and physical closeness can exist without emotional intimacy (but rarely do!)  Without it a relationship loses its foundational strength. If you and your partner need assistance to locate or re-establish your ability to be fully present with one another, contact one of our couples counselors by clicking below:

Book an appointment with Artemis Counseling and Creative Life

Written by Joanna Aslanian, LPC, ATR-P

Mind-Reading: Why Doesn’t My Partner Just Know?

Rationally, we all know that our partner is incapable of reading our minds and anticipating our needs.  And yet, holding fast to this expectation is one of the most common blunders that we see in couples counseling.  

How can your partner know that you need more physical affection, or that you are bothered by the way she loads the dishwasher, if you never tell him/her? And what repercussions does this have on the relationship?

Here are some simple tips to improve communication and avoid this trap:

  1. If something bothers you, speak up! While few people enjoy confrontation, getting into the practice of airing your concerns in the moment will prevent both the continuation of the offense and residual resentment that builds over time.
  2. If you are looking for support, let your partner know how they can provide that.  Every person and situation is unique; sometimes you may need to talk, while other times you just need to be held.  Letting your partner know exactly what you need in the moment will ensure that your needs are being met.
  3. Catch yourself in the act.  If you find yourself feeling frustrated with your partner, ask yourself if you have done all that you can to express your needs and concerns. The more that you can recognize these mind-reading tendencies, the sooner you will be able to resolve them.

To learn more about improving communication with your partner, reach out to one of our couples counselors by clicking below:

Book an appointment with Artemis Counseling and Creative Life

Written by Joanna Aslanian, LPC, ATR-P

When Arguments Escalate

It may have begun with a heated conversation that progressed from yelling to slamming doors or throwing items across the room.  Maybe there was alcohol involved, or maybe one partner criticized the other so harshly that it sliced through them like a bullet wound.  Regardless of how it began, at some point it becomes clear to you that this is not a safe, productive, or healthy situation.

Perhaps you are able to remove yourself from the setting–leaving to take a walk or spend the night with a friend.  Or perhaps you aren’t.

When arguments escalate to the point of yelling and screaming at one another, this is a big red flag that poor communication with your partner has reached a critical mass.  The fundamental tenets of mutual respect, compassion, and understanding are missing–leaving the relationship vulnerable to a vicious cycle of criticism and contempt.

Without intervention, some couples may continue to escalate, even to the point of domestic violence. If conflicts become so heated that they reach the point of actual or threatened physical violence, both your relationship–and safety–are in dire jeopardy.  

Working with a licensed couples counselor to address any past relationship traumas or ineffectual patterns of communication can help prevent and safeguard both yourself and your relationship. If you or your partner continues to struggle with emotional regulation, supplemental individual counseling may be indicated.  

If you or someone you know is in danger, call the confidential, toll-free 24-hour state of Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline by dialing 877-863-6338.

To learn more about de-escalation during times of conflict, contact one of our licensed couples counselors below:

Book an appointment with Artemis Counseling and Creative Life

Written by Joanna Aslanian, LPC, ATR-P

Leading Parallel Lives

At some point in your relationship, you may realize that you and your partner have grown distant–so distant that it feels as though you are leading parallel lives.  Maybe you both work stressful jobs, are raising young children, or lack shared interests. Maybe it’s all three.

Regardless of the circumstances, you find yourselves in a position of having little to no quality time together each week, and communication may be limited to scheduling carpools and paying bills.  Over time, this disconnect can seep into every aspect of your relationship, such as your ability to constructively air grievances or be physically intimate with one another.

If you have reached this juncture, it will take time and effort to find your way back to one another.  Through a practice the psychologist Dr. John Gottman has coined “building love maps,” you can become reacquainted with your partner by taking an interest, asking questions, and building your knowledge about the ins and outs of each other’s lives.  In doing so, you can regain a sense of compassion and understanding for your partner. With mutual understanding, you are far more likely to work together as a team to overcome future hurdles.

To learn more about how to reconnect with your partner, reach out to one of our couples counselors by clicking the button below:

Book an appointment with Artemis Counseling and Creative Life

Written by Joanna Aslanian, LPC, ATR-P

When There’s Problems in the Bedroom

Sex is an undeniably important aspect of any romantic relationship.  Alongside emotional intimacy, it is one of the hallmark differences between a friendship and a romantic partnership.  Thus, it is understandably distressing if your once passion-laden romps in the bedroom begin to feel stale, stagnant, or cease altogether.

While there can sometimes be medical factors contributing to libidinal changes (and it is always a good idea to rule this out), sexual disconnect often arises from emotional and intellectual “blocks,” both within and outside of the relationship.  Some common contributing factors include: performance anxiety, body image concerns, lack of emotional/intellectual intimacy, traumatic experiences, feelings of doubt or insecurity, boredom, or resentment.

Although it may be an uncomfortable topic to address, communication surrounding intimacy is the key component in fostering a mutually satisfying sexual relationship.  After all, neither of you are mind-readers! Couples counseling can serve as a safe space to begin this dialogue with your partner.

To begin the process of addressing your intimacy concerns, schedule a couples counseling appointment with one of our licensed counselors below:

Book an appointment with Artemis Counseling and Creative Life

Written by Joanna Aslanian, LPC, ATR-P

The “Good Old Days:” Finding Strength Through Your Relationship’s Past

By the time a couple comes to us for help, they have often reached the lowest point in their relationship.  The situation may feel so bleak that it is hard to imagine anything beyond the layers of resentment and contempt. At these darkest hours, it may be helpful to remember that it wasn’t always this way. At one point in time, you saw something in your partner that was special–so special that you decided to devote a large portion of your time and life to being with him or her.

In sessions I often ask, what was it about your partner that drew you to him/her? This question cuts to the root of a partner’s shared connection.  Maybe it was his laugh, her intellect, or the fact that you have a shared love of traveling.  Whatever the reason, something brough and kept you together. Remembering and honoring these attributes about your partner can help to re-establish and cultivate a sense of mutual respect and admiration.  

Couples come to counseling because they believe that their relationship is worth fighting to keep.  Taking a strength-based approach does not mean neglecting to address the concerns at hand, it means utilizing areas of strength to fuel the fight.  Your strengths and your values can serve as a flashlight on your journey towards recovery, guiding you back to the path you deviated from.

To learn more about using your strengths to repair your relationship, schedule a couples counseling session with one of our licensed counselors here.

Written by Joanna Aslanian