Words of Affirmation: I need to hear it

Words of Affirmation: I need to hear it

Words of Affirmation: I Need to Hear It

There are  five languages of love that were made popular by author, Gary Chapman in 1992. The other four languages are touch, acts of service, quality time and gifts. I am not convinced these are the only languages of love (which I write about here,) but they are a helpful place to start). words of affirmation

I was reminded of the power love languages during my last session of the day.  I had seen this couple many times before.  They are interesting people with unique and independent personalities; both are quite smart, well educated, and equally very likable.  They are funny too.

He likes to be right. He is usually clear about his frustrations and what he would like to see different in their home and in their relationship. I could always tell from his curiosity about how she feels, his laughter at her jokes, and his soft eyes when he looks at her that he also admires her.  As you’ll see though, I don’t think she could always tell.

She wants to get things right, to make him happy.  It has always been obvious to me that they feel great love and friendship for each other, too, but it was never evident through his words.  His words were used to process what wasn’t working and what needed more attention.

She started with, “I worry that my anxiety is hard on you and the kids.”  With genuine concern, she continued, “I know you don’t like that part of me and I wish I could compartmentalize it so it doesn’t affect you.”  He listened to her with his usual soft eyes and open heart as she struggled to share her feelings.  When she finished, he repeated what she said so he could be sure he understood her.  As he did so, his eyes began to water.

While visibly working to hold back tears, he said, “Yes, anxiety is a part of what you bring to our family, just as you bring love, thoughtfulness, humor, helpfulness and much more.”  Then the first teardrop found its way out of the corner of his right eye, and he continued, “I can not wish for some parts of you and reject the others; you are all of it, it is what makes you you, and I love you.”

He was done talking. He just shared genuine words of affirmation and vulnerability filled the air. 

I could tell he felt like he had said more than he was accustomed to sharing already.  So, I did what any good therapist does, and asked him to share more.  When I invited him to explain what he felt as he told her that, he gave up the battle to hold back his tears (and no, this is NOT the goal of therapy – to make people cry – so stay with me here as the magic unfolds).  He said, “It makes me sad to think that you feel alone with your anxiety.  That you believe I may not love part of you because of that.”  Then he went on to say, “I am here for you.”  “I love you.”  “All of you.”

Who doesn’t want to hear that?

People who rely on words of affirmation to feel loved must hear it. 

Let me say it again because if you love someone, this is exactly what they want to hear (as long as you mean it, of course).


Turning to her, I anticipated that she might reciprocate with her own endorsement of love for him.  However, her response surprised me.  She seemed skeptical; untrusting of his words.  I asked her to share with him what she was feeling as she listened to him.  “Embarrassed, really,” she said.  “You don’t talk to me like that, and I don’t know what to do with those words.”  She continued, saying, “I feel embarrassed…maybe vulnerable is the word, because this is not how you talk.  It feels unfamiliar, foreign.” 

Then she said to him, “And, it surprises me that you feel that way, I had no idea.”

He was noticeably sad at the thought that his wife did not realize how much he loves her.  He said, “I thought my actions let you know how I feel, I didn’t realize you needed words.”  (Actions are generally the love language of “acts of service“). Then without prompting, he continued with, “I think about how grateful I am for you, how much I love you, and how important you are to me all the time.”  And, “I just don’t think to say it to you.”

She said, “I need to hear it.”

When your love language is hearing words of affirmation, this means that you feel most loved when you hear someone say loving, kind and appreciative words about you. Words are important, and to gain credibility you must use them regularly enough that they are not unfamiliar to your loved one.  Words are not the only way to show your love.  For some people though, it’s just what they need.  Lucky for her, he seems to get that now.

As the session closed, he turned to her and said, “I understand now that you need to hear it, and I want to give you that.”

Premarital Counseling Online for Couples Seeking Marriage Preparation

Premarital Counseling Online for Couples Seeking Marriage Preparation

premarital counseling online


Falling in love is the easy part.

Growing love in the context of a long-term, committed relationship, well, that takes a bit of work.

That’s why it is a good idea to get a thorough relationship checkup before you make one of the most biggest, life-changing choices of your life: getting married. powerful choices of your life.  


Premarital Counseling Online vs. In-Person. 

There are many benefits to doing your premarital work online instead of in person. The greatest advantages are ease of accessibility, and time-savings. As long as you have a private space to meet via phone, tablet or computer and internet access, you are good to go. 

Sessions take place in my HIPPA approved zoom.us video room. If you are unfamiliar with this, you can do a quick and easy free-download of zoom.us software on the device you plan to use, and once it’s downloaded, you simply enter the URL of the zoom.us room at the time of our session and we will be face-to-face on the computer screen, from our separate spaces.  



 What does premarital counseling online include? 




Marriage preparation with me starts with a thorough assessment (Gottman Relationship Checkup) of your relationship, that covers the five key areas of a relationship:

Friendship and Intimacy

Trust and Commitment

Conflict Areas

Shared Meaning

Individual Concerns

STEP TWO: Results Session ($205)

Once the assessments are complete, you will schedule an 85-minute session with me to discuss the results of your completed assessments. During this session we will review the current status of your relationship and discuss in detail both your strengths and your challenges. 

With premarital counseling online, you will get a thorough overview of your relationship and a clear picture of what is working, and what needs attention. We will identify the most vulnerable areas of your relationship and you will receive feedback about the seriousness of these vulnerabilities and what it will take to address them. 


STEP THREE: Vision Homework (included in process)

Following the Results Session, you will be provided a vision exercise to take home. This exercise will guide you through an exploration of your expectations for your relationship, as well as how you wish for your relationship to support the person you are, the values you hold as important, and the feeling experience you wish to have on a day-to-day basis. 

The vision exercise is a critical component that offers you a deeper understanding about how you think about the role of a relationship in your life, and what expectations you have about a long term relationship. This exercise is driven by the belief that:


The “right person” is the one with whom you can create “the right relationship” that allows and encourages you to be and feel the way you wish to be and feel in this life. ♥️

STEP FOUR: Strategy Session  ($205)

This session will combine the results of your Gottman Checkup assessment and your Relationship Vision homework to provide you with insights, strategies and skills to practice in an effort to help you strengthen the areas of your relationship that put your future happiness at risk. Relationships are designed to add to our lives, not take away. 



Once you complete Premarital Counseling Online, you will have the option to continue with additional strategy and skill building sessions in an effort to help you gain the skills you need to grow the relationship you desire. 



Got Questions?

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Imago Therapy Training Online with Michele O’Mara, PhD

Imago Therapy Training Online with Michele O’Mara, PhD

Imago Therapy Training Online: What is it?

Imago Therapy is one of several counseling approaches to couples seeking help for their relationships. This approach is designed to assist partners in identifying how their unconscious mind has been influenced by their unique childhood experiences.

Growing up, we are surrounded by people, places and things that inform us about the world. We learn what types of behaviors to expect from people, based on the people we are most commonly exposed to. Our brain is built for shortcuts, for efficiency. Therefore, each time we negotiate a new behavior our brain is assessing the situation for the best responses – the responses that keep us safe and provide us with what we need.

What works for us may not work for others, including our siblings. Though we are raised in the same family, with the same adults, we all have unique relationships with different nuances. Suppose you grew up with one sibling in a family of four. Your mother was moody, unpredictable, and would occasionally get so mad she would stop talking to you for days, maybe even weeks. This is a strong emotional withdrawal that can register as very scary for a child. Your instinct will be to find ways to preserve your connection. It is likely that one sibling may try to pursue a connection even if she is not getting much of a response. This can involve efforts to please her, such as cooking, cleaning the house and otherwise making life easier for her mom. The other sibling might decide it is best to lay low until this passes. That getting involved will simply make matters worse.

We don’t identify the “right” way to respond to people in our childhood, we only discover the best way that works for us. And, like most things, when we learn what works, we tend to automatically repeat this behavior over and over and over again without even thinking about it.

In Imago Therapy training online, we explore your automatic responses to different life experiences, and in particular, different emotional experiences in your marriage/romantic relationship. By doing so, we can begin to grow more aware of what works and what does not.

Can you imagine consulting a five year old for advice about how to respond to a spouse who stops talking to you when her feelings are hurt or she’s upset? Unfortunately, that’s essentially what most of us do until we stop and consider that our automatic response is not really working.

Relationships are always harmed by our efforts to protect ourselves. Therefore, in order to reverse the damage in a relationship, and return to a more connected, safe, and loving experience, we must identify and reverse the coping responses that are not working.

This is a simple overview of the Imago Theory, and provides you with some insight about what the goal is when you pursue Imago Therapy.

For more information about imago therapy training online, you can read this article. To take a brief quiz to identify your imago, go here. If you are outside of Indiana, you can receive Imago coaching services which are essentially the same as imago therapy, given that most couples seeking help for their relationships are not experiencing mental health concerns. Though I am a licensed mental health therapist in Indiana, I am not licensed outside of the state, and all of my services outside of Indiana are limited to coaching, which does not involve a mental health diagnosis, nor does it qualify for use of insurance.

If you would like to schedule an appointment for Imago Therapy training online with Michele O’Mara, visit omaratime.com.

Lesbian Couples Retreats Near Me | Boot Camp 101

Lesbian Couples Retreats Near Me | Boot Camp 101

Couples Retreats Near Me

Lesbian Couples Retreats Near Me

A global pandemic has forced most of us to spend greater amounts of time together at home. For some in relationships, this has been a much-needed opportunity to reconnect and rediscover the importance of time spent together. For others, the impact has highlighted some pre-existing challenges with communication, patience, and understanding.

At a time where large gatherings are not ideal, it is more important than ever to find resources to support your relationship. If you came across this site while searching for “Lesbian Couples Retreats Near Me,” you have stumbled across the perfect resource for lesbian partners with access to the internet and a device with a webcam (smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop).

For more information about upcoming retreats, visit here.

Got Questions?

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Access to Her Inner World with Open Communication | Couples Quickies #2

Access to Her Inner World with Open Communication | Couples Quickies #2

Do you have access to her inner world?

Open Communication vs. Closed Communication 

Couple’s Quickie #2

There are two types of communication: open-door and closed-door.

Open-door communication is a direct and vulnerable sharing of your feelings, which gives the listener access to your inner world.

Closed-door communication is a self-protective way to share feelings by using protective behaviors such as criticisms, making up stories, accusations, explanations, and defensiveness.

If your partner shares a feeling with you, she is giving you a glimpse inside a world to which only she holds the key. When she unlocks this door for you, it is a gift. The views into her inner world may not always reflect back to you what you wish to see.

The gift is not about what you find inside her inner world.

The gift is that you are trusted with access to her inner world.

Imagine your workload is doubled and you have to work twice as much for a temporary period of time. Likely, both you and your wife will have feelings about this situation. If you are committed to open-door communication, you will come to each other from a vulnerable place and express your feelings in a direct and genuine way.

Open-door communication might sound like: “I miss you. Lately, I have been feeling lonely since you’ve had to work more.”

Closed-door communication might sound like this: “You work too much. I feel like you don’t care that I am alone all of the time.”

While the closed-door message is coming from the same vulnerable source of pain, the delivery is harder to hear. She is letting you know there is something going on in her inner world, but she’s keeping the door shut by using criticisms, in an effort to protect herself.

If she says she feels something, then she feels something. Unfortunately, it is a common communication mistake to hear feelings as complaints, disappointments, and criticisms. For example, the first statement, “I miss you,” might be heard as a complaint or a criticism.  You may hear it as if you are doing something wrong. That you should be home more than you are. This interpretation of “I miss you,” will likely provoke defensiveness.

When you interpret her feelings as a complaint, you are more likely to respond with a closed-door, such as: “I have no choice. I have to work.” This response misses the feeling she is expressing. This is a closed-door response to open-door communication.

If you heard “I miss you,” as a validation of your importance to her, you might respond with more softness. An open-door response may be as simple as, “I miss you, too. I can’t wait for work to slow down. Thank you for sharing that you feel the same way I do.”

It is not sufficient to add the word “feel” to your statements. When you say, “I feel THAT you…” or, “I feel LIKE you….” these are not feelings. These are opinions, stories, accusations, or potential criticisms. To truly share your feelings, you must be the subject of what you are sharing, not your wife or partner. A feeling statement will include a feeling word… I feel __________ (feeling word).

Feelings are never wrong, though they do change. They are also not accusations or criticisms. Sometimes we don’t fully understand our own feelings and all of the factors that contribute to them. The very best way to respond to your partner’s feelings is with open-door communication.

If she opens the door, appreciate and take good care of the access she is giving you to her inner world.

Got Questions?

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Access to Her Inner World with Open Communication | Couples Quickies #2

Ten Types of Relationship Betrayals | Couples Quickies #3

Infidelity is Not the Only Betrayal in Relationships

“”I have never understood the mindset that there is a game-winning or game-losing shot. This, to me, renders the entire rest of the game useless, and unimportant. If the star player has made a record breaking, 62 points in the game leading up to the final 3 seconds, the team is down by 2 and her final toss toward the basket misses, is she really responsible for the game-losing shot? I think not.

Nor do I think that one betrayal can make or break a relationship. Sure, it can complicate, undermine or greatly influence a relationship, but one isolated betrayal is not typically what leads to the demise of a relationship. Furthermore, just as a bad pass might lead to a missed catch in a basketball game, one betrayal might lead to another betrayal in relationships. 

We are all responsible for our part. Always. No matter what the game. Especially in relationships. 

Betrayals come in many forms. Though many people might disagree with me, I do not believe in a hierarchy of betrayals. A betrayal is a betrayal is a betrayal. 

  • Invalidation 
  • Not making their partner a priority
  • Not being there when their partner is hurting or sick
  • Not contributing to the well-being of the family (“me” versus “we” mindset)
  • Not keeping promises
  • Keeping secrets
  • Lying
  • Humiliating or putting down partner in public or private
  • Committing an act of emotional or physical infidelity
  • Being physically violent

Relationships are fluid. They are strengthened one choice at a time, and they are weakened one choice at a time. There are no make or break moments in a relationship, there is always a gradual movement toward better or toward worse.

Take notice of the entire dance, not just the last few steps. 

Got Questions?

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