Dr. Julie's Blog

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Why does your childhood affect your relationship?

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All relationships have their moments when things don’t go well. Usually we can chalk this up to a difference of opinion or a simple misunderstanding. But have those differences of opinion or simple misunderstandings ever mushroomed out of control leaving you and your partner confused as to what the heck just happened? Does this happen a lot?

What do you do when this happens? That’s a key question. 

When an upset like this occurs, we need to calm ourselves down. There are several ways to do this, especially if the argument surprised you. Some ways are healthier than others and what you do to recover says a lot about what you learned about yourself and others growing up.

If you generally feel that you have a valid position AND are willing to consider your partner’s position. That’s a good sign. Maybe the conflict just flared up and after everyone settles down the two of you can talk calmly about it.

But, if that’s not what typically happens after a...

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New Year's Resolutions: Make them easier with these tips

 

For those of us who make New Year's Resolutions, we are connecting with a sense of hope that things can be different. It's part acknowledgement that things could be better and hope that we can engineer that improvement in our lives. Really, the hopefulness we feel is a love affair with the potential of what could be.

But, if you're more connected with the hopelessness of setting New Year's Resolutions because you haven't realized the potential of past resolutions or have seen too many others fail to realize theirs, it's okay. Being in touch with the problem of your current situation is often troubling and disempowering because you might not know how you got here or how to effectively change it.

Keep in mind though that the idea, "Things could (should) be better" is the first step in making a change. You have to identify a problem before you can fix it.

If you'd like to be in touch with the hopefulness of a better version of you in 2022 (or if you're already hopeful), here are...

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💕 3 Communication Tips for an Easier Holiday Season

I recently posed the question, “What’s a positive change you want to make in your relationship?” All the responses I got were focused on communication, everybody wanted to communicate better. As it turns out faulty communication is a top relationship problem.

I couldn’t think of a better topic to address during the holidays. What can be more stressful than arguing during a time when everyone is expected to be bright and cheery?

Here are 3 tips for making your romantic relationship a little less stressful and a little more romantic this holiday season.

  1. Listen more and talk less. Listening is something we think we do easily, but we are rarely actually listening. Instead, we are usually thinking of what we are going to say next. To help you listen better challenge yourself to ask a follow-up question about what your partner just said before you add anything to conversation. Another tip for being a better listener is to focus on how your partner is feeling,...
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Handling Holiday Stress 💥 If You Are A People Pleaser

Holidays are a magical time of year AND an incredibly stressful time of year. Many of us look forward to our family traditions, holiday parties, decorating, and gift giving. But, in order to do all these things, we feel like we have to squeeze them into our normally hectic, busy schedules AND get it all done with ease and grace. Except, ease and grace are often forgotten in the hustle, leaving us to wonder “Where is all the magic I’m supposed to be feeling?”

This is especially true if you are a people-pleaser and over-giver. You know what I’m talking about. You try so hard to get everything perfect so other people feel at ease and have a good time and you’re left with a few moments of fun and a big mess to clean up.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can have more ease and grace in your holidays so they feel magical today and in the years to come. It just takes a little planning.

Acknowledge your tendency for high expectations. If you are a...

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Could being curious help your relationship?

Child’s play is something anyone can do, and yet usually, only children do it. We equate child’s play with something simple and easy. Wouldn’t it be awesome if hard things in life were more like “child’s play?” 

What if child’s play could make something like your relationship easier? Wouldn’t THAT be awesome? Initially, your relationship probably felt like child’s play, but over time maybe that stopped being the case. Let’s spice it up again with something children do well that adults usually don’t. 

Let’s get curious.

Curiosity is something we are all born with and use a lot as children, but as we become adults, it fades away. It is that wonderful state of being open to learning something new, approaching a situation without assumptions or preconceived ideas of how it will go. It is child’s play at its core. There is little fear, no ideas or expectations about how something works or what will...

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Women of the Mayflower

March 1st marks the beginning of Women’s History Month. It also prompted me to think about the history of women in the founding of this country. Specifically, the women and families that came over on the Mayflower. I’ve done a little reading on this part of US history and ran across some amazing stories.

The background

Plymouth Colony, founded by the families of the Mayflower, was the first colony to include women and children. It was founded to provide a group of families a place to worship in a manner of their choosing. [Jamestown, the first colony established by the English, initially only included men because it was founded as a profit-making venture. Here’s a little history on Jamestown: https://www.history.com/topics/colonial-america/jamestown.]

 

The Mayflower

The Mayflower was not a big ship. There were 102 passengers and probably about 30 crew. The living space on the ship was 50 x 25 feet with a 5-foot ceiling. (That’s less than 10 sq feet per...

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Two Easy Suggestions for Making Valentine’s Day Special

Many people dismiss Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark holiday. But, let’s think about this for a minute. It’s a lot more than just a money-making scheme for a big corporation. Valentine's day has been around since before the Middle Ages. If it has been celebrated in some way for the last several hundred years, don’t you think there might be something to it? 

A little history

Pope Gelasius declared February 14th to be St. Valentine’s Day in 498 (yes, over 1500 years ago). The oldest surviving Valentine’s Day poem was written in 1415. In the 18th century, it became popular to exchange small tokens of affection and handwritten notes. Pre-made cards became popular about 1900. Today Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, following Christmas. This is probably why it is thought of as a Hallmark holiday, but as you can see, it pre-dates Hallmark, by a lot.

Valentine’s Day has remained important because it gets...

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28-Day Rekindle Your Relationship Challenge

Once the honeymoon phase is over and familiarity begins to dominate your relationship, it can start to feel stale and boring. Relationships take work but sometimes you just don’t know what to do. All you see is that things don’t feel right and you’re at a loss as to what to do about it. When this happens, it can feel like you’ve hit a roadblock.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is plenty you can do to rekindle the spark that brought the two of you together in the first place. 

To help you out with this, I’ve put together a 28-day Rekindle Your Relationship Challenge designed to give you simple activities to rekindle the spark in your relationship. The challenge activities are fun and designed to reconnect you to your lover. 

In the challenge, you will receive a daily email with your challenge action of the day and a short explanation of why it works or is important for your relationship.

There’s no obligation and if you miss a...

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Lying and Truth Telling for Effective Communication Guide

What lying is and how to tell the truth

Connie could tell something was wrong. Her boyfriend of 5 years seemed more distant but denied anything was going on. When she asked what was wrong, he said everything was fine. Then one day she found a stack of papers he had left out on the counter. The papers were a new rental agreement he had just signed for an apartment in another city. He had not mentioned he was planning to move out and he wasn’t moving to their dream city, Chicago. Why would he rent an apartment, especially without telling her? 

When Connie confronted him, he said he rented the apartment to be closer to work. But as Connie told me more details of their recent interactions and his behaviors it became clear to both of us that he was leaving the relationship. At one point during my conversation with Connie she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I just wish he’d tell me the truth.”

The truth. What is the truth of the situation? It...

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Does He* Know He’s Hurting Me?

I hear this question a lot from clients and on social media and my answer is not what you’d expect. Here’s how I think about it.

The questioner is in a relationship with someone who repeatedly violates boundaries and treats her in highly disrespectful ways. Treatment could be anything from name-calling to hitting, blaming to criticizing, threatening to trivializing. Whatever the behavior, it is repeated and it hurts the questioner. 

Invariably the questioner has told the partner that the behavior is hurtful and not okay. 

The question, “Does he know he’s hurting me” is a reasonable question if one assumes that people who love each other don’t intentionally hurt each other. 

So, what is going on?

Reasoning through this we will see something like this:

Assumption: 

People who love each other don’t intentionally hurt each other.

Facts: 

He tells me he loves me.

I love him.

He’s hurting me.  

I’ve...

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