Build a deeper relationship with your partner.
Work through your issues and gain the skills you need to do this.
Jennifer Lehr, MFT specializes in educating couples on the relationship skills they need to build a solid, connected and loving partnership. She is the founder of WeConcile, a writer and educator. Jennifer's main areas of expertise are to improve her Clients lives and relationships. She helps with intimacy issues and building deeper and more successful relationships between partners. No matter what types of complicated problems couples are faced with, she has the best strategies to help them work through it. Let's get to know more about Jennifer:
WikiExpert: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue that can cause a marriage/relationship to fail?
Jennifer Lehr: A couple often does not know how to resolve differences or conflicts. They also do not know how to manage conflict. Instead of knowing how to support each other during a conflict, they move away from each other. Ultimately this creates a lack of support, distance, misunderstanding and resentment – which causes the relationship to fail.
WikiExpert: What are the most common relationship problems that you deal with?
Jennifer Lehr: A common problem is when couples trigger each other’s wounds. One person does something that triggers a wound in the other and vice versa. For example, one person feels controlled easily and the other person has underlying anxiety and therefore tends to control. Then that person (the anxious one) feels abandoned by the first person’s pulling away.
Another common problem is that couples do not know how to communicate with their deep vulnerable feelings. They tend to get caught on the surface level of the problem.
WikiExpert: Please give a few examples of healthy boundaries in a relationship.
Jennifer Lehr: Landon and Skylar are at a party. They drove to the party in Landon’s car. Landon has had too much to drink. Skylar tells Landon that she would like to drive them home. Landon is argumentative and does not want Skylar to drive his car. Skylar tells Landon that she loves him and that she is concerned and does not want him driving. (Hopefully, at this point Landon will agree to let Skylar drive.) Landon insists on driving. Skylar tells Landon that she will not get in the car with him because she feels unsafe and that she will find another way home.
Layla told her boyfriend Jim that they are having dinner with another couple. Jim intensely dislikes this couple and does not like that Layla set this up without consulting him. He talks to Layla about his feelings. Layla still wants him to go to dinner with the couple and is unwilling to either cancel the dinner or go without Jim. Jim tells Layla that she may go, but he is not going to go.
Both of these examples show the person setting the boundary practicing self-care.
WikiExpert: When there is no trust in a relationship, how do you help couples to build it?
Jennifer Lehr: The first question is why is there no trust? For example, suppose one person was lying about smoking pot or drinking. Why are they lying? Are they willing to be honest, even if their partner doesn’t like what they are doing? So part of the process is looking at why there is no trust and changing the relational dynamics, so each person is trustworthy and there for the other.
WikiExpert: You published a great article on WikiExpert, Surviving Infidelity. It was enjoyed by many readers! Here, you can explain how hurtful it is for the person who has been cheated on. Tell us, is there hope for a relationship after infidelity?
Jennifer Lehr: It is usually extremely hurtful for the betrayed partner when there has been infidelity. Their partner is supposed to be their best friend, suppose to care about them, suppose to “have their back.” Relationships are about sharing and the partners being transparent with each other. When infidelity happens it brings up feels of extreme self-doubt. Questions emerge like: How did this happen to me? Why? What do I deserve? Am I good enough? When what we trust fails us, we don’t know what to grab onto and how to find our stability and sense of safety.
There is hope for a relationship after infidelity IF both parties want to keep the relationship and are willing to go through the process of repair and rebuild their relationship.
WikiExpert: How can the person who has been cheated on move forward in the relationship and trust their partner again?
Jennifer Lehr: The person who has been cheated on needs to know their partner will never cheat again. They need to feel their partner’s pain and remorse for the hurt they caused. They need to be allowed to talk about what happened as long as it takes them to resolve their feelings. They need their partner to show up for them in a different and more connected way.
WikiExpert: What are the most common reasons for infidelity?
Jennifer Lehr: Infidelity often occurs because the couple is struggling or have drifted apart and the cheating partner is looking for connection elsewhere.
It can also occur because the cheating partner has narcissistic tendencies and does not feel he/she should be restricted in getting his/her needs met.
It can also occur because that partner has a sex addiction.
WikiExpert: Please give us your opinion on open relationships. Do they work?
Jennifer Lehr: Open relationships are very difficult for most people. When a third person (or more) enters the relationship, it can cause one of the partners to feel as if they are not first. There is a disruption of what Stan Tatkin calls “The Couple Bubble.” The Couple Bubble is the protected space around a relationship. It also impacts our sense of safe attachment and our need to know our partner is there for us. However, for some people, an open relationship may work for a variety of reasons. Both partners have to honestly want the relationship to be open. If one does not truly want it, it will not work. I am defining working as each partner feeling safely attached in the relationship.
WikiExpert: Many marriages lack intimacy, how do you help couples with fixing this problem?
Jennifer Lehr: Couples have to learn to begin to connect again. Eye gazing, touching and the sharing of vulnerabilities all help bring intimacy back into the relationship. Also, blocks to intimacy have to be looked at. Is there something specific blocking intimacy? If there is, that needs to be explored, identified and hopefully changed.
WikiExpert: Often, in-laws tend to cause issues between partners which can lead to divorce. How do you advise couples to handle this and keep their relationship strong?
Jennifer Lehr: In-laws cause issues when a person sides with their parents instead of their partner. Because people often have strong ties to their parents, they may tend to put these loyalties before the loyalties to their partner. Also, the partner may feel insecure in the face of these previous loyalties. The partner must come before the in-laws. The relationship with the partner must be primary
WikiExpert: What can couples expect from your online sessions? What do you cover in these?
Jennifer Lehr: My online sessions are a DIY educational program - WeConcile. Couples will learn by reading or audio, doing exercises and guided discussions. The program covers assessments about each partner and the relationship. It covers understanding the relational dynamics and cycle. It covers learning how attachment theory is impacting them and teaching them the language of attachment. It covers increasing the ability to understand our feelings, sensations, thoughts and reactions. It also covers the family history and how it impacted us as well as our current relational skills. It covers the forgiveness process and exploring sexuality as well as much more.
WikiExpert: If one partner is willing to receive professional advice and help, but the other is not, how do you handle this type of situation?
Jennifer Lehr: When only one person wants professional help, it is harder for the relationship and that person. But that person can make changes even if their partner isn’t learning with them. So it is better to have one person learning and making changes than neither.
WikiExpert: Name 3 things that every healthy relationship should have.
Jennifer Lehr: Every healthy relationship should have:
- A sense of emotional safety with their partner;
- A sense that their partner loves them;
- A sense that they are better in the relationship than without it.
Now, let's get to know more about Jennifer.
WikiExpert: When you're not helping couples, where can we find you? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Jennifer Lehr: Much of my time involves writing and educating others. But I also love to read, and I have a large garden. I practice yoga. I spend time with my dogs and husband. I talk to my friends.
WikiExpert: You say that in your younger years, you did not have the skills that were needed to build a healthy relationship. How did you develop these?
Jennifer Lehr: I developed my relational skills with a lot of therapy, couples therapy, workshops, extensive training, as well as working with people. As I learned and grew, I took what I was learning and applied it to my life.
WikiExpert: Is there anyone that inspires you? If so, who and why?
Jennifer Lehr: There are many people who inspire me. There are so many amazing people in the world who create positive change and hold a light so that others may see more. Some are spiritual leaders. Others are writers. Some are Therapists. Others are activists. Thich Nhat Hanh is one of many who inspires me. He is a spiritual leader, a teacher, poet and peace activist. I have personally found his books and mediations to be enlightening.
WikiExpert: What has been your biggest success to date?
Jennifer Lehr: My fantastic relationship with my husband is undoubtedly my biggest success.
Fix your relationship today! View Jennifer Lehr’s profile and message her for free to book a session.