Relationship Adjustment

As I said in my last post I did move for love and a change in my life. This relationship started as a long distance relationship and we certainly had our bumps in the road. This morning as we tried to get our cats to really meet for the first time it was an interesting experience (I know everyone keeps reminding me that anthropomorphizing the cat is not a good idea but I can’t help but see the similarities). Bob’s cat a 10 year old male seems laid catsback and interested but if nothing happens walks away to find something else of interest. My cat, a 3 year old female who has gone through several major adjustments, seems scared but also curious about this other cat. This morning I thought was a good time to see how they did without a door between them. Curious, circling and sniffing about, the female more cautious and frightened eventually ran for her hiding space. I know this is the beginning and adjustments need to be made. It is the same in my relationship, it was different when the option to return home was there but now we share this home. Like the cats our default is to circle around and see how the other might respond instead of making statements we have been making more comments like “what do you want”. We are almost recreating the academy award winner movie “Marty” staring Ernest Borgnine. As I tell most of my couples communication is key to a successful relationship and yes at times it makes me uncomfortable but I know in the long run it will strengthen our relationship.  Mornings drinking coffee and reading the paper seems to be a good time to have a brief chat unless it is a bigger issue which I try and save for the weekend. We are finding our way as we go from long distance to the same home and I try to keep these relationship rules in place:

  1. Communication – don’t let issues store up and I try to come from how I felt not what is wrong.
  2. Keeping to one topic at a time, it is easy to store stuff up and start to express every grip that you have. I want to empower my partner to feel like they are wanted and valued even though we have some disagreements and I can’t do that if I am reminding them of what I feel they are at fault about.
  3. Fault & Blame – looking for the solution will get you a lot farther then trying to find and identify fault and blame. Each person as a part of the problem they should be accountable for and it’s important that in any kind of relationship we take responsibility for our role. There are exceptions to this and sometimes we find ourselves in relationships with people that hurt us and our role is to find help for the relationship or to realize when it is time to get out.
  4. Finding the strengths in relationships. It is the nature of people that they will disappointment us all in some way, not with intent but just the nature of being human. I want to be able to respect the person I am in relationship with and when I look for the positives that I get they usually fall along the lines of their strengths which helps me understand and tolerate the disappointments and or hurts.
  5. Tolerance – the truth of it no one lives life how I think they should not even me. Practicing tolerance of those things that annoy us, understanding what can and cannot be changed (the serenity prayer that I heard in 12 step meetings always plays in the background when I think of this) and understanding we all have imperfections and it is that humanness that we actually love about one another.

These guides I teach to my clients and try to practice in my life and my relationships and let me highlight the key word here is practice, I don’t always succeed and that’s why we have apologies, though it takes a good sincere one to work.

Licia Ginne, MFT

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Moving Isn’t As Easy As I Thought – Emotional Aspects

by Licia Ginne, MFTmoving boxes

I have found that when you ask most people questions about moving the common reference is it’s hateful. I moved, have moved and am still in the process of moving. Not only have I moved myself out of Los Angeles but have closed a successful private practice of over 25 years to start up a new chapter in my life in Santa Cruz, CA. In other words my whole life has been turned upside down, it has certainly been my choice but I falsely (or desired) believed it could be more seamless. I thought I was prepared for the emotional aspects of moving but when I woke up last week and felt like I wanted to go home it was the first time I really realized this was harder than I thought. In my own anxiety I find comfort when my external world is in order and now to make such a big change and realize all doesn’t fly into order immediately. As I sit here at my desk, stacked high with papers, lost bills and of course a pile of things stuck together by the bottle of cough syrup that opened in my desk drawer during my move, I can only think of an episode of the Kardashian’s I watched of them moving from Miami back to Los Angeles.  Of course the example I use has become a baseline of expectation, which intellectually I know I can’t reach but emotionally I ask myself why not?  In the show they are returning to Los Angeles, they  offer direction to their assistants who seemed to be doing all the packing and I am assuming all the unpacking and the girls leave for the plane with a couple of suitcases. Now they certainly are in a different financial strata (would Kris Jenner manage my practice and practice development consultations?)  but the emotional pull is there to keep asking myself “why aren’t you done yet?” and sometimes an added criticism of you saw how easy it was for them.  The reality has been learning patience that all is not in order, that I must prioritize what area I need to focus on and there is a great sense of accomplishment when one area is done and to accept it will take much longer than I imagined. I hope I never have to move again but I realized that the move in my head was doomed from the start in Los Angeles when it seemed there wasn’t all that much to pack. As my time frame started to shorten my organization went out the window, certain boxes contained computer equipment as well as dishes and then I threw in a couple of personal items (my system failed at the end in Los Angeles and greatly affected my unpacking in Santa Cruz). I was frantic looking for the keyboard to my desktop which has always been the center of my work world. There are still a couple of files missing that I just can’t figure out what happened. I will keep looking and know it has to be somewhere since when I walked through my empty home in Los Angeles there was nothing left (well that’s not completely true I forgot about the deli drawer in the refrigerator where I keep batteries and ink cartridges), the fridge wasn’t mine and my neighbor was kind enough to go in and get them for me and they are waiting for me in Los Angeles.

I don’t want to leave you with the thought that I am not excited about the move, I have made this move before, I moved to Santa Cruz to attend UCSC as an undergraduate and stayed here for a couple of years after graduating. I moved back to Los Angeles and later on found an opportunity to moved back to Monterey, CA trying to find myself as a therapist and person in life. I ended up moving back to Los Angeles where I stayed for the last 25+ years, developing my private practice, developing my skills as a therapist and business owner, returning to school to become a psychoanalyst and finding self love. When most people ask about my move they say you moved for love, which is partially true I also moved to find a different life for myself outside of work. I will keep you posted as settle in and keep growing.

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Relationships Come with Disappointments

I have been seeing couples in therapy for over 25 years and it seems to me we all come to a relationship believing it will be like the ones we see on TV or in the movies. Usually the story line goes something like couple meet, maybe have some problems but then live happily ever after. As I write this I can think of other movies that show the exact opposite but often even those are over the top, what keeps coming to mind is Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn in the “The Break-up”. I know it sounds silly to base our relationships on tv or movies but we do. I always thought once you met someone, fell in love it would all be great. I didn’t think about how do we make decisions. I always ask couples how do you make decisions? This relationship is suppose to meet your needs. So I ask couples to independently start writing what is their ideal relationship or marriage. Then they can come back in and we can start to understand the expectations that everyone brings to any kind of relationship.
stk23562sisWhat is always most startling is I think most of go into a relationship with the idea that our ideas are universal. I think we often get surprised and how our partner can have a different world view. I believe that couples therapy is an opportunity for couples to share the views they have and to try to understand the history that went into not only their partners view but theirs as well. We may think we are fighting about who took out the trash or how much one does or doesn’t help around the house. We are really fighting about different understandings or our emotional reactions to uncertainty. The goal is about being able to understand our partner, to understand that maybe when they are angry they are scared and lash out. The goal is for each person to work to understand themselves and be able to express their real fear, anger or anxiety and not lash out. We will never resolve all problems but we can learn tolerance and understanding.

by Licia Ginne, LMFT 21421

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twitter-birdI finally found a bit of time to work not only on my two twitter accounts, 1 for marketing (therapymarketer)  and the other for my private practice (LiciaGinneMFT) as well as a couple of other accounts I help with. I set about posting but also doing my annual cleaning up and reaching out. I prefer so far to do this on my own and not hire a service. So I started to follow one after another and forgot about the results I would get. So I have been inundated with return replies. Which I love and am fascinated by what I have found. I am wondering what all of you have to think about this. I find that people who use validation services I am not inclined to spend the time answering the questing so they get ignored. I would also love to hear why people find a validation service helpful, if you are posting on twitter than you have already made the decision to go public so why make it so hard for people. I have the same feeling about people who block their email accounts. I tend to ignore these accounts and feel like there are so many other ways of dealing with unwanted emails, delete them, get a good spam filter or if on a website use a form for contact instead of posting your email. The upside is that when I do this sporadic following or networking I find so much information and interesting people out there. I find that on Twitter I get to know the person a little bit better than something a bit more stagnant like LinkedIn. Their posts often add a bit of education but when you start reading a lot of their posts you start to understand what they are interested in, you start to see themes. If you have a website and marketing your private practice through it I would encourage you to use all the social media marketing tools that are out there. You never know where they can lead and what you can learn. Tonight looking at my email there was a twitter from Duane Law about Abram Hoffer, MD. early founder of orthomolecular psychiatry. Duane Law is doing some CEU events on the topic. It reminded me of the first psychiatric hospital I worked in during the late 1970’s and one of the psychiatrists was experimenting with this form of treatment on one of his schizophrenic patients. I can’t tell you how successful it was but I can tell you that we the staff loved taking the niacin and felt it helped us get through double and triple shifts. Working at the psych hospital was I gather working in any institution or prison, there are laws and ways of doing things what wouldn’t work in the outside world.  And all of this came from twitter sort of amazing.

by Licia Ginne, LMFT

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I have been thinking further about expectations and how to put them into a context so we can better understand them. As a Santa Cruz psychotherapist I have been thinking about my own expectations and noticing those of others around me, friends and clients. Our world-view is established by so many different experiences, relationships and situations. We bring our world- view into all aspects of our life. If we have been treated as if we have no value then we expect this from work, family, relationships even the supermarket cashier. We go into these situations with preconceived notions that will often trigger the reaction we expect and then we often say, “see this always happens”. I see people who can become anxious about how they are perceived, which then can make them quiet, tense looking or maybe angry looking; others may perceive them as being better then, or having disdain, angry, or unapproachable. The person may experience the others pulling away from them adding to the belief that no one wants to be around me. This is a great place for an intervention an opportunity to talk yourself through the situation and see if maybe there are other possible explanations for the feelings you are having. Maybe an opportunity to understand the origin the belief and how it might have come from someone else and their history and not an accurate representation of who you are. It’s a chance to have a different experience in the same setting and begin to develop a voice that counters the negative voice inside you and may create expectations that cannot be met in that situation.

Through the attachment to our parents or caregivers and the other experiences we have growing up we gather these belief systems about us. I have found one of the goals of therapy is to learn about these belief systems and understand where they come from and how they influence my life and question if they are real. Someone who comes from a family where they have been neglected could believe that they have been neglected because there is something fundamentally wrong with them. This is where I start to see the role of expectations. I have based my life on these beliefs and I expect you will betray me, leave me, blame me, or whatever it is my belief tells me and I am inclined to hear things in this way when maybe they don’t mean that. We come in with expectations that are not always based in reality and sometimes it’s hard for us to see who the others in our lives really are. Especially in relationships; friendship or romantic, we have these ideas of how things should go that are not always available to us. We believe the person has it to give and is withholding it from us; we should try and be clearer maybe they don’t understand us. So many movies and TV shows will show life as a problem arises, there is a series of misunderstandings and then all gets worked out in the end and everyone is happy. I have found with couples that I work with that most of us come into a relationship (and I am not excluding myself) and we believe there is a right way to do things and if the other isn’t doing it that way they are wrong. Yet if you look at your family history you may start to see the clues of how you were taught how to handle certain things. In my family we always balanced the checkbook and when I became a bookkeeper during school I learned more about managing money, so when my friend never balances her checkbook I can think you are so wrong let me show you how. But unless she wants the help (and she didn’t) then it is none of my business. We all have ways of doing things and often we find ourselves in situations where people do them differently and we need to learn to be tolerant and respectful of other peoples’ ways.

Expectations are not something to be tossed they are something we need to check out. There are certain expectations that we have that are conventional norms or laws. I expect when I go out to drive my car that everyone will follow the rules of the road, but even with these expectations I can’t always be assured it will happen, so they teach defensive driving and you still can’t expect all to go well.


Working with couples expectations I am aware of how we have not been taught how to talk about these personal things It is rare when a couple will come in and say they have explored many of these concepts; how do you pay the bills, how do you manage money, what’s your vision for your life, our life or what are you looking for. I think we do in a general way but when it comes to being with someone long term there are so many things to consider. Couples learn so much about themselves when they start to think what would my perfect relationship look like. I encourage couples to look at their relationship as part business and part romance and that each aspect as to be worked at. It is not often a couple gets together and sits down and says OK this is what I am looking for. I tell couples here is you chance to design the relationship you would like but remember just because you ask for something doesn’t mean the other person is capable of giving it. You have to ask yourself is this request a deal breaker for the relationship or can I live without getting this particular thing from my relationship. What I have found is if you at least know you are not going to get something in particular at least you can stop waiting for it and being so angry. We may also find that what we thought we could tolerate we really can’t so we need to look again at expectations since they are ever changing and need to be revisited often.


We can’t live without them, but it helps when we can discuss them and makes them known.
They help define us and know what we are looking for.
Learning to differentiate from our own expectations and desires and those that come from our history increases the chances of successful relationships,
In any type of relationship stating our expectations gives us boundaries for our relationships, sets goals and defines our roles in the relationship.

Licia Ginne, LMFT 21421


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