Dr. Julie's Blog

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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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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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One Thing That Makes it Hard to Avoid Toxic Relationships

Everyone I’ve worked with who finds themselves in a toxic relationship has problems with setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. It’s one of the reasons people end up in toxic relationships and then have a hard time leaving.

What is a toxic relationship?

It’s a relationship where one person violates the other person’s boundaries, values, and identity on a regular basis. These relationships are verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically abusive.

When I talk with people who are in toxic relationships common themes emerge.

  • They believe they are responsible for how their partner treats them
  • They try to anticipate their partner’s response to situations to avoid fights
  • They rearrange their social time to avoid upsetting their partner
  • They lose contact with friends and family because their partner doesn’t like them
  • They feel confused as to why their partner gets upset with them when they are trying so hard to be loving and give their partner...
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The one thing that can break the ice after a fight

Have you ever been arguing with your partner or family member and realized you didn’t want to be fighting? You wanted to stop but you didn’t know how to get your point across without continuing the fight?

We’ve all be there and it feels like being caught in quicksand. The more you talk, the worse it gets.

Instead of talking, find the right moment and give your partner or family member a hug.*

 First, find the right moment.

This is important because if the argument is currently happening, your partner isn’t going to be receptive to a hug. But later, after things have cooled off, go up to your partner and ask for a hug. No reference to the early disagreement, no explanation. Just ask for a hug.

As a matter of fact, I recommend hugging your partner (and other family members) multiple times per day.

The magic of a hug lies in the neurochemistry that happens when you hug someone. Both people in a hug release oxytocin, a neurochemical responsible for bonding....

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5 Key Signs You’re in a Relationship That Will Actually Last

Have you ever wondered if you are in the right relationship? At some point while you are dating, you are going to wonder if this relationship is right for you, if this partner is truly THE ONE. How do you know if you are making a good decision or if you are blinded the honeymoon phase of the relationship? There are lots of articles online that help you identify unhappy relationships or toxic people. But, if you are in the honeymoon phase everything could look much rosier than they will be later. So, how can you tell the difference?

1. You can trust your partner

The biggest sign of a good relationship is TRUST. Do you trust your partner with your most intimate thoughts and desires? Do you know whether he or she will be there to support you if you need help? Would your partner help out around the house, come to your rescue if you were stranded, or stay by your side if you were going through a difficult time (emotionally or physically). Do you know your partner has your best...

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