Couple Relationship, Depression/Anxiety, Trauma

Goodbye 2020. Hello 2021~ Word of the Year

We are coming to the end of 2020. How is 2020 treating you? No matter how odd this year has been, it still comes to an end. 

Before I discuss my 2020 review and the new year resolution, let me rewind to the fall of 2017 first. I saw a news clip on Facebook about a Japanese Temple choosing a Kanji (meaning Chinese characters) to represent the significant event that happened in Japan during that year. I thought the story interesting and wondered what word would I choose for myself. 

Then, again, on Facebook, I saw a link about A Year in Compass at the end of the year. In the website, it invited people to review the past year in different categories: personal life and family, belongings (home, objects), friends/community, intellectual, finances, work/studies/profession, relaxation/hobbies/creativity, health/fitness, emotional/spiritual, and the bucket list. It was quite extensive. I was pretty impressed with the idea of reviewing the year before setting up the new year resolution. I am also impressed with the idea of setting goals in different areas in life, instead of just a list of the goals. So, I decided to try. 

Word of the Year

After I started to review my year of 2017 and set up my new year resolution for 2018, I realized that I need something simple to capture the overall goals. That was when I connected the idea of the word of the year. 

For the year 2017, I chose the word “important” for 2018.

For the year 2018, I chose the word “worthy” for 2019.

For the year 2019, I chose the word “connected” for 2020.

Continue reading “Goodbye 2020. Hello 2021~ Word of the Year”
Couple Relationship, COVID-19

COVID- 19 Week 10 (5/18 to 5/22) Journal

week 10It’s hard to believe that we are in week 10 of stay-at-home and social distancing order. The important news this week is the business opening up in phase 1. There are a lot of conflicts happening in the news report. One of the gym owners opened up the gym despite getting the fine. Many people go to his gym, and he claims that he has members behind him to support him.

The weather is also becoming nicer. I know it’s hard for people to stay at home now that the weather is more beautiful. I also know that many small businesses need to open their store for survival. I know that many people are already experiencing quarantine fatigue that they need to get out of the houses. Continue reading “COVID- 19 Week 10 (5/18 to 5/22) Journal”

Couple Relationship, COVID-19, Trauma

COVID- 19 Week 8 (5/4 to 5/8) Journal

week 8

Week 8, (5/4 to 5/8), is it week 8 into the COVID-19 State of the Emergency in the State of Massachusetts?

It seems that everyone is adjusting to the new normal. All the training scheduled are all online. I jsut signed up another 5-day training online in the end of June. Most of my clients are getting into the routines of the Telehealth.

Positives, a few clients who have been working with me for over a year, actually started to feel much better than they can decrease the frequency of therapy to every other week. I was really happy for them because they have gradually moved out of their childhood trauma as the pandemic is slowly getting under control. When this pandemic is over, they will be ready to face the new world with their new self as they have worked through their childhood trauma with a new sense of identity.

The interesting observation is the number of calls I received for the couple’s therapy. I think, this week along, I have received at least five inquiries for the couple’s therapy. Many people, over the phone, told me that the conflicts have been increasing. Similar to my observations on some of the clients from the early weeks, it seems that one of the conflicts among all the regular topics is “safety vs. risk,” meaning, the partners have different ideas considering what’s safe and what’s a risk.

I found this interesting and sad. The conflicts between the couples about “what’s safe” made me feel interesting because the friction of safety wasn’t the focus in the past. Or, let me rephrase it, security is often not the focus of the conflict but hidden with some other topics. For example, some couples’ might fight about the savings for future retirement. The sense of security is hidden in the financial dispute. The other example is parents often fight about what’s the safety of their children. In this case, safety is hidden in the parenting issues. I live alone, and I have been single for many years.

I often envy people who have family members living with them during this period. I have not seen my mother and brother for three years. I just saw my sister right before the pandemic breaks out in early January in Taiwan. So, it’s been five months since I saw my sister. I feel sad when I heard people saying: “I can’t wait to go back to work so that I don’t have to see my partner 24-7.” It made me sad when I heard statements like this because I can’t help but wonder: “what happened? This was not how you feel when you walked down the aisle.”

In the past few years, I have found a group of close friends who live very close to me. We checked on each other during this period. One of them always asked if I needed anything when she went to the grocery store. She worked from home and didn’t have to check Clorox or Lysol, but she checked them for me whenever she went to the grocery store. When she dropped those supplies to me, if she was lucky enough to find a bottle, I savored the moment when we can be each other’s presence with the masks on and standing 6 feet apart.

I can’t imagine living with a significant other but wanting to get out of there. Maybe I am wrong, but it made me sad and wondered how did a happy couple walking down the aisle become a couple who just wanted to get away from each other.

So, notes to myself is to figure out how to help those couples communicate their sense of security of unsafely during this period and to build a new meaning of safety within the couple’s relationship.

Couple Relationship

[Relationship] Expectations & Fairness

ExpectationsYou might have already guessed that I am a mediator and practice yogaregularly as my self-care routine (and running, too). Meditation helps me calm down my inner voices. Meditation shuts down my inner voices so that I can listen to my clients to the best I can empathetically. It also helps me to set my emotions back to 0 at the end of the day so that I can be as clear as I can for every client the following day.

I like to go to the meditation retreat once in a while. You might wonder why I attend the retreat and sit quietly with a group of people without talking to each other would be something fun. The exciting thing is, when I sit with a group of people without speaking, I actually feel at my most peaceful time and very connected with human beings (in spite of them all being strangers to me), without being judged by anyone’s words.

During those quiet moments in the meditation, when no one but me peeking inside my head, I see my “judgment” coming and going, judgment about people, about the world, and about myself. Being able to see these judgments in my head helps me to maintain a sense of compassion in my life, especially in my line of work.

So, you might not be surprised at all when I also realized that not only do I have “judgment” about human beings in my head, I also have “expectations” about human beings in my head too.

Before I go into the length of the wisdom of the “expectation” and the impact on the relationship with others and self, let me fill you in with the background story. Continue reading “[Relationship] Expectations & Fairness”

Couple Relationship, Depression/Anxiety

New Year Resolution 2019: Take Charge of the Change

scrabble resolutions
Photo by Breakingpic on

Now that the Holiday season is coming to the end, most people are at the “the resolution preparation” mode. I certainly feel my 2018 flies by so quickly, especially at the end of 2018. Earlier this year, I made a decision to move my office to a new location. In October, I started to plan the move and in November, I was busy with the move. In December, I am still adjusting to the new office and still trying to put everything to its place.

I certainly have a lot of changes in 2018.

As I reflect this past year and the decision to move, I realized that I had learned something about CHANGE to help with my 2019 planning.

Continue reading “New Year Resolution 2019: Take Charge of the Change”

Couple Relationship

Surviving Holiday Stress with In-Laws (II)

woman and man sitting on brown wooden bench
Photo by Vera Arsic on

No matter it’s Chinese, American, or Hispanics, etc.. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the partner by marriage saying: “You made me feel like an outsider;” while the partner who is biologically related to the extended family saying: “I am stuck in the middle between my spouse/partner and my parents.”


So, how do you unstuck from this situation? The key is to make your relationship and your spousal relationship as a priority and see your partner’s feelings is yours no matter you agree with him/her.

(The Part I of Surviving the Holiday In-Law Stress is here.)

Continue reading “Surviving Holiday Stress with In-Laws (II)”

Couple Relationship

Surviving Holiday Stress with In-Laws (I)

candle celebration christmas christmas decoration
Photo by Pixabay on

I grew up in a big Taiwanese family. My dad has four siblings and my mom has five siblings. I often joked with my friends that the craziness of my family drama trains me to be a good couple’s therapist. Taiwanese is the culture with traditions during holidays. Holidays are the time when all the in-law issues played out. I often saw the fights between my parents because of the in-law dramas.

Continue reading “Surviving Holiday Stress with In-Laws (I)”

Couple Relationship

[Couple Relationship] How much do I give to my relationship?

50%How many percentages do you think your responsibilities are in the marriage?

I have heard many people said that marriage is 50-50. That is, I put in the 50%, and you put in 50%, and they combined to be 100%.

Do you agree? Why? Continue reading “[Couple Relationship] How much do I give to my relationship?”

Couple Relationship

How Do You Give Love?

heart shaped pink and purple flower garden
Photo by shahbaz Akram on

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five different love languages, words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of services, and physical touch.

The person whose love language is “words of affirmation” knows how to compliment others with words. He/she uses words to show the love to his/her partner.

When your love language is “quality time,” you enjoy sharing common interests and doing things that connected the two of you.

When your love language is “receiving gifts,” the token that symbolizes the love and special occasion are essential.

The person whose love language is “acts of services” shows love by acting on it. They do everything for their partner, and they do it for the love of their partner.

When your love language is “physical touch,” you use a hug, a kiss, and touch to feel and to show your partner your presence, care, and love.

One of the languages might be the strongest, and there might be a couple of them are equally strong. You can take the test to determine your love language.

So, what happens when the partners have a different love language?

Continue reading “How Do You Give Love?”

Couple Relationship

How Do You Ask for Support

two person holding hands while sitting on grey cushion
Photo by on

The idea of this post started with an innocent conversation with a friend on Facebook. My friend lives in a tiny apartment in a big city. He posted something on Facebook like this: “Why would anyone fry fish at midnight?”

I responded with: “maybe your neighbor is hungry?” 

The messages exchange on his facebook wall went on for 5-6 times when I realized that his original post was not a question but a complaint. 

I burst into a big laugh as I experience this scene in my couples’ counseling session. Continue reading “How Do You Ask for Support”