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Dr. Heather Ehinger's Blog

Threatening Divorce in an Argument

Marni Feuerman ft. Dr. Heather Ehinger, LMFT

"Dr. Heather M Ehinger, a Marriage and Family therapist specializing in high conflict relationships also believes that these couples are trying to get their needs met in an ineffective way. “It feels like a way to get the other person to pay attention to how serious you are. Unfortunately, just like the story of Peter and the Wolf, all threats eventually land on deaf ears.” She advised couples to “take responsibility for yourself and examine what it is you need that you are not getting.” She goes on to say that if you are not prepared to make good on the divorce threat, then stop making them as “divorce will get you divorced, threats will get you ignored. Peter found out the hard way, don’t be like Peter!””
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Things to Do as a Couple

By: Dr. Heather Ehinger, LMFT

I am a marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in high conflict couples, divorce, and family restructuring. One of the main reasons that couples get to a such a deeply dissatisfying place in their relationship is there is a lack of investment into the relationship once they have married and especially once they have started having children. It is my experience that healthy couples find the time to invest in their relationship, and I call this “feeding” the relationship. The investment of time matters and also what type of time matters as well. Often the traditional date of dinner and a movie leaves the couple less than fulfilled since there still is nothing being “built” between the spouses.
Some examples of activities that could inspire deeper connection would be: Volunteering together: it could be a weekend project for a house of worship, or a community service organization. It could simply be a short one hour project or a weeklong trip to another country to help rebuild. Any type of give back, invested in a mutual goal to help others is wonderful for building a connection. • Find something you are mutually interested in. Being able to help the community or others while strengthening the bond between you and your significant other will help expand your horizons.
Mediation or yoga type activity is also positive because it fosters health and wellness. • Meditation or yoga is usually a singular activity promoting quiet and individual space. However, taking the time and the energy to do mutual meditation might prove to be just the relaxing activity you’ve been looking for. On a quiet weekend morning, roll out a few mats or pick a good spot on the carpet and just begin!
Take an adult education class together and learn something new at the same time. • Discuss an activity or subject that both are interested in. They usually offer adult education classes or community-based programs at the local college/university, community center, YMCA, or another affiliated program. Being able to share a new experience and potentially a new hobby/passion with each other from the start will strengthen your bonds as a couple.
Invest in family history to explore each other’s ancestry and make a family tree. • This would be a great idea for those interested in family heritage and genealogy. With websites specifically designed to help you investigate your family lineage, it would be a great activity to do together to help each other understand each other’s backgrounds.
Get dressed up together for no reason and go with each other to select the outfits, or just shopping together, going with each other to get your hair cut and give input that is supportive and nurturing about how you each bring out the best in each other. • Unfortunately, many couples tend to fall into a routine where there are only special occasions in which they can get dressed up and go somewhere nice for the night. This breeds contempt and complacency. The ability to be impulsive will keep your relationship fresh and will help you avoid those “routine woes”.
Cook together and find new ways to provide health and entertainment to your home, learning to make bread the old-fashioned way (no bread machines please) would be an example. • This is a great activity regardless of if you are a top-notch chef or someone who has trouble boiling water. Being able to work together from the start to create an entire meal or dish is a refreshing way to work together to create something tangible. At the end of it all, you will be able to see what you could create as a team and enjoy a nice homemade meal!
Make a playlist together and listen to it in the car. • Driving can be one of the most relaxing times in a professionals’ day. That twenty-minute period between leaving your home and walking into work can be extremely helpful for gathering your thoughts or just having some peace and quiet to listen to your favorite radio station. Take a blank CD and pick out twenty songs (ten apiece) then hop in your car and drive! Maybe add an activity to the end of the trip and drive to a restaurant, museum, or anything that you’ve never been to before.
Listen to a book on tape while driving someplace completely new and have lunch at a place with a type of food neither of you have tried before. • See above^
Do a house project together such as paint a room, plan it and make it a room for “just you two”. • Somewhat the same idea as creating a meal together, this allows the couple to see a tangible result. Taking an empty room and painting the walls, adding carpet, and creating a space that is just for the two of you is an excellent way to not only mutually create a space that represents you both individually and as a couple but also a great bonding tool that will create memories every time you step foot into the room.
Read out loud to each other. • This is the perfect way to wind down before going to sleep. Instead of switching on the TV and watching another episode on Netflix, pick up a book or any mutually agreed upon reading material and take turns reading to each other out loud. Being able to control the inflection of the characters’ voices and add some personal flair to a story is a great way to get in touch with each other’s emotions. I hope this inspires some creative thinking and exploration into new inroads to intimacy for you and your readers. Heather

Cheating Hearts Abound in Fairfield County

“I think people (in this region) are generally lonely and dissatisfied,” said Heather Ehinger, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westport. She said many people get frustrated with trying to balance their marriage and family responsibilities with their career aspirations, and it can leave them feeling overwhelmed and unhappy. Reversing the climate of infidelity “is going to take a shift in cultural priorities,” Ehinger said. “People are going to have to stop focusing on moving ahead and realize that family comes first.”
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