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125 Ash St
Lino Lakes, Mn 55126

(651)263-2930

By providing a safe and effective therapeutic environment, Amanda Nephew Therapy Services is a catalyst of change for men, women, couples and families to engage in personal growth, to create healthy identities and to strengthen their relationships.   

Blog

Engaging in personal growth to create a healthy identity is a journey. Keep checking back here for things I find inspiring and helpful. 

Being Sharpened

Amanda Nephew

Cute little wall hangings with quotes or verses on them are so popular right now. They are everywhere! I recently saw one with the words of Proverbs 27:17 so gracefully written on it. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”  I found it a little ironic that the font was cute and the letters were sparkly, when in fact the act of being sharpened can be painful and often times difficult to navigate.

I meet with a lot of couples for premarital counseling and one thing that I am intentional about bringing up is that when we get married, we will learn just as much or even more about ourselves than we will about our spouse. The actual act of sharpening is built into the design of marriage. We now have a sounding board who is always in front of us. Our spouse (and kids) are reflecting back to us our good, bad and ugly. BUT, we can choose whether we allow ourselves to be open to the discovery or not.

When we are open to it, we allow ourselves to be transformed though humbly admitting the yuck and taking responsibility for it. When we choose to not be open, we become hardened and resentful toward the ones who are just doing their jobs. (Assuming it was done in a safe manner). When we harden our hearts, we miss the opportunity for a better way. We miss the opportunity for growth.

In the book Sacred Marriage, author Gary Thomas says, “Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance.” We need to be honest with ourselves, our spouse, and God about weaknesses revealed to us in order to grow out of them. We are doing it right when we create an emotionally safe space so our spouse can actually say what we need to hear in order to be sharpened and then in return we are led by the Spirit to bring up what we see in our spouse. Iron sharpens iron.

It is a great honor to be transformed in the context of a marital relationship. Let’s live out the Word (no matter how uncomfortable) by sharpening each other out of a spirit of love.

Does “Two becoming One” mean I become invisible?

Amanda Nephew

We are made for relationship. It’s at our core. But, sometimes it’s confusing to try to balance individuality within relationship. What does that look like and how can we do it well?

Although it seems contradictory, the only way to fully become one with your spouse is to hold on to your own sense of self.  Wait, what? I’ll say that again. The only way to fully become one with your spouse is to hold on to your own sense of self.

The fancy therapeutic word for this is differentiation. This is Murray Bowen's term referring to the ability to have a sense of connection with others while still holding a clear sense of who you are. The opposite of differentiation is what he calls fusion. The problem with fusion is that it can actually look and feel like love, commitment and closeness. But, what it really turns out to be is insecurity and emotional dependence. (1)

Dr. David Schnarch explains all of this better than I can. “Giving up your individuality to be together is as defeating in the long run as giving up your relationship to maintain your individuality. Either way, you end up being less of a person with less of a relationship... Differentiation is the ability to stay in connection without being consumed by the other person." (2)

Every aspect of your relationship will be truer when both people fully show up. The greatest gift you can give your spouse is a grounded and differentiated YOU!

 

(1)Bowen, Murray (1978) “Family Therapy in Clinical Practice”

(2)Schnarch, David (2009) “Passionate Marriage”

Staying Connected After Baby Comes

Amanda Nephew

Renown researcher and therapist, Dr. John Gottman, explains in his book And Baby Makes Three that he conducted a 13-year study with 130 young families. The results show that during the first three years after baby was born, two-thirds of couples experienced a significant drop in quality of their relationship. Time with the baby was wonderful, but time together became conflictual. (p.16)

So, how do you avoid being apart of that two-thirds? Although there are several communication and problem solving skills that can be developed to make the transition smoother, the key is enjoying the friendship you have with your partner. Being able to make your partner feel loved and appreciated verbally as well as in action is foundational. Picking up his or her favorite coffee drink on the way home, renting the favorite movie, talking about the time you two got lost on the road trip are all practical ways to bid for each other’s affection.

Just because you are now parents, does not mean you have to stop being friends. The little ways that you find connection will go farther than imagined. Not only will you as parents create a calmer environment for yourselves, but also for baby. Gottman is clear to state, “The greatest gift you can give your baby is a happy and strong relationship between the two of you.” (p.27) 

 

Speaking Each Other's Love Language

Amanda Nephew

Communicating effectively in a relationship can boost affection. But, first you have to know what affection means to your partner and how he or she receives it. Relationship expert Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, breaks down the five ways that people tend to receive love. I’ve found this book to be important in helping understand how to successfully give affection in the way that meets your partner’s needs (since we often fall into the trap of giving how we want to receive ourselves instead of how our partner receives the best). This is also useful with our children! You can usually tell what theirs are by how they love on you. People usually have two love languages that are most important to them and maybe a touch of the other three. Take a look:

1.)   Words of Affirmation (Encouraging words, kind words, noticing strengths)

2.)   Quality Time (Focused attention, doing an activity together, quality convos)

3.)   Receiving Gifts (Thinking of someone, knowing their likes)

4.)   Acts of Service (Doing chores unasked, filling up gas tank, making a surprise dinner)

5.)   Physical Touch (Cuddling, holding hands, stroking an arm in the car)

A Positive Mind

Amanda Nephew

People often find themselves in patterns that lead to conflict, unhappiness, anxiety, bitterness and bad attitudes. While changing behavior is the goal, the way to do that is first to change the mind. You cannot have a positive life with a negative mind. Here are a few things to consider:

 *What we think about becomes what we talk about and how we behave.

 *Be self-aware. The truth is you may have more negative thoughts than you notice. So, pay attention. Do they come some of the time, in certain situations, about specific people or maybe even most of the time? You don’t have to feel shame about it, but instead notice them and actively challenge negative thoughts when they come.

 *When negative thoughts do come, it gives you an opportunity to explore what’s going on inside you that might be causing them.  

 *Our past experiences form the way we think about things, but don’t let them be an excuse to stay stuck in negative thought patterns. There is freedom from that!

 *A positive mind is a good defense against pride, entitlement, judgment, fear, doubt and anger. It actually encourages peace, resiliency, patience, hope and health.

 *A positive mind brings life to you and others around you. Plus, it’s contagious!