Love and marriage. Love and significant others. It doesn’t matter what state a relationship is in, it is a slippery road to travel. Kaolene Metzger, a relationship/family counselor in private practice, helps to make the road less hazardous.
Today, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, hopeless or lost, she said.
“A healthy relationship is a wonderful thing. Being with someone you love, trust and respect can strengthen your whole being, but relationships are an investment, and you have to be willing to invest yourself to make them work,” said Metzger, who owns Blue Sky Counseling in Louisville.
Easily said, but often hard to maintain.
“There are so many extra factors involved in relationships,” said Metzger. “Keeping that spark means making an effort to spend time together. Couples have to do fun things together or surprise each other, because life gets in the way sometimes.”
In practice for six years, Metzger has a Master of Arts degree in counseling and human development. She is a member of the American Counseling Association, Ohio Counseling Association and Chi Sigma Iota Alpha Mu Honorary Society. She also serves on the Counselor’s Advisory Board at Walsh University.
She became a counselor because her son had disabilities and she wanted to help other families with kids with disabilities.
“That was my start; then my focus went to more mental health issues and relationships.
“My job is not to tell people how to work out their problems, but serve as a mediator, helping them build stronger relationships and learn how to communicate with each other.”
She said there is a lot of stress on couples today, especially when there are drugs, alcohol, technology, work, kids pulling at you.
“There is just a lot going on in relationships.”
“Love is irrational,” she said. “People will do anything for love, but it is important to think with your head, not emotions.”
She said too often people have affairs, not necessarily for love, but for peace.
“People stray because of the stress,” she said. “Affairs are an escape from everyday life. Keeping your love alive is important. It is equally important to communicate what you are feeling and to listen to the other person. It is important to understand reality versus fantasy and develop a healthy sense of chaos so you don’t look outside of the relationship.”
Other tips she offers:
• Before you marry, ask yourself what your expectations are in a marriage. Talk about them with your significant other. Do you share the same expectations? The same values?
• Be there for your partner no matter what. If he or she is having a problem, be supportive, not dismissive.
• Plan surprises for each other. If money is tight, there are plenty of free things to do, such as take a walk through the park, or spend a special evening at home with the phones turned off and the children at their grandparents or with a sitter.
• Identify the stressors in the relationship and work together to relieve them.
• Keep an open mind and be willing to give and take when it comes to what matters most.
• Be gentle with each other. Taking cheap shots at each other, or constantly criticizing the other is not building trust or supportive relationships.
• Let your partner have a say. Listen to what he or she is saying and respect his or her ideas.
• Don’t wait until you are married to discuss whether you want children or not. Likewise, find out beforehand if you are in agreement with finances.
• What are your priorities? Do you continue to work? If you have children, will it interfere with your career?