Let's Talk About Love - Tips from a Marriage Counselor
🎶 Let’s talk about love, baby 🎶 Since it’s the month of love, we thought it only fitting!
To put us in the mood, we sat down with Omar Ruiz of Talk Think Thrive. Omar is a trained Boston Marriage Counselor who created Talk Think Thrive to help couples enhance their intimacy, communicate effectively & resolve conflict. He specializes in advanced counseling techniques, real world strategies, & guidance around complex relationship issues.
Tune in to our Q&A session with Omar, where we picked his brain on maintaining intimacy, the benefits of couples therapy, and the keys to success in marriage. Plus, he mentions some celebrity couples he thinks would benefit from their own therapy seshes! 😳
What are some ways our readers can increase their connection with their partner on a regular basis?
Continue Dating - After the initial honeymoon stage, people have the tendency to stop dating to a minimum or even stop completely. It's important to schedule dates, at least once a month, as a way to keep one another interested.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle - Many people tend to become a bit unhealthy with their food consumption and physical lifestyle over time. It can happen for many reasons like the responsibility of becoming new parents or advancing in a career where more responsibility has increased stress. Being so busy with trying to create a work-life balance can stop couples from trying to upkeep their physical appearance, as they become too comfortable in the relationship.
Make Intimacy a Priority - One of the main causes for divorce is infidelity. Not being able to maintain intimacy is a leading factor to divorce. However, intimacy does not always correlate to sex. It has more to do with understanding your love language - physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service & receiving gifts - and making sure you are able to show your partner their love language in the way they need as opposed to how you want to show it.
Premarital counseling is something that traditionally is seen as being done in a religious setting. What is your strategy/approach and recommendation for those couples who are not going with a religious ceremony, but could still benefit from this type of premarital counseling?
My approach to premarital counseling is to spend time exploring the main areas that most couples struggle with once they get married. This includes, but is not limited to, discussions around communication, household responsibilities, intimacy, coparenting, finances, & relationships with those outside the marriage (extended family, friends, coworkers, business partners, etc).
While discussing each topic, I reflect with couples how their upbringing, cultural beliefs, & personal values influence how they choose to navigate these situations plus how they can work together amidst the differences between themselves.
In your experience, do you find that couples that go through some type of counseling prior to their ‘I do’s’ last longer?
I do believe that couples who go through counseling are better equipped with skills and techniques on what can be done if any issues were to arise. Plus, even if those tools aren't as helpful in the present moment, they at least know that they could come back to counseling as a helpful resource to aid them during difficult transitions during their marriage. This ensures couples can continue with their marriage much longer than those who do not reach out for help until the very last minute.
What do you think is the key to a successful marriage?
Communication. Regardless of what the issue is - whether it's about lack of intimacy, a disagreement on co-parenting styles, or fundamental viewpoints on how to best manage household chores - if the couple is unable to communicate in a healthy and effective manner, their marriage will not last past the honeymoon stage.
Can you share some of the healthiest relationship portrayals you’ve seen in film?
Kevin (known as KevOnStage) & Melissa Frederick are a couple that I would say encompass healthy relationship vibes. They not only have been married for 15+ years, but they both co-host a podcast entitled 'Marriage Be Hard', which offers a fresh take on marriage and the challenges that come with it.
From a fictional standpoint, I’d say Beth & Randell, characters from 'This is Us'. Their portrayals of being able to go through the twist and turns of life without sugar coating the arguments, disagreements, and sacrifices that come with marriage is admirable. It's not to say that life is like TV and that all marriages would prosper during such challenging times, but it does offer some realistic perspective and hope.
Who are a few couples from TV or movies that you think would benefit from couples therapy?
Will & Jayda Smith. I don't know them personally or professionally. I believe they both are well accomplished individuals. Yet, their relationship has been publicly scrutinized for some time now, especially after the slap incident between Will and Chris Rock. They would benefit from couple therapy to address issues that surround the slap and others. Even though I saw that they publicly stated they would seek out therapy, I can only hope this would strengthen their marriage in ways that would prevent divorce.
John Legend & Chrissy Teigen. Even though they recently celebrated the birth of their newborn in January 2023, they did have an unfortunate loss of an unborn child back in 2020. That is a situation that many couples struggle with and would benefit from couples therapy to best move through that grieving process together.
One couple that seem like they are doing well, but I'm concerned for their future is Keith Lee and Ronni Lee. Keith Lee is a rising influencer on TikTok with his famous food reviews. Throughout my years, I have seen that with fame comes a lot of controversy. This can be surrounding past issues, current rumors, or even potential future problems. I wouldn't say they would require it now, but it may be beneficial for them to consider going through some preventative counseling to work through the changes & possible challenges that are coming his way due to the success of his TikTok channel.
What suggestions do you have for couples who are going through a stressful experience, like planning a wedding?
My recommendation is to…
Consider hiring a wedding planner, which will allow the responsibility to be taken on by a professional who is able to coordinate the planning intricacies without all the hassle.
If you cannot afford a wedding planner, lean onto friends and family to offer some suggestions on how to best plan, pay, and coordinate your wedding.
Look into premarital counseling if the mere thought of planning or preparing for your wedding is bringing up concerns (i.e. cold feet) about whether you both are ready for the long term commitment of marriage.
Do you think the shift to more virtual video counseling in place of traditional in-person visits has impacted the way that people engage with therapy?
I believe that online counseling has made therapy more accessible to people more than ever. People don't have to travel to an office, they can simply login from a laptop or phone anywhere they please.
Of course, I recommend for folks to be in a space that allows for privacy, like a closed off room or in their car. The service has not been impacted, other than the fact that it is a bit challenging on my part to fully read someone's body language - since that’s something that’s unique to face-to-face human interaction.
If, after reading Omar’s thoughts, you feel as though you and your partner would benefit from talking to a couple’s therapist, book a free consultation with Talk Think Thrive. Let him know that you found out about him from KE, so he'll prioritize you in his bookings! 😉