Posts by Zach Brittle

Helping you navigate through life

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Three Ps to Help You Focus

There is no shortage of distractions (legitimate or otherwise) vying for our attention. There’s a pretty good chance, in fact, that you won’t read this article straight through because you’ll be interrupted by a text or a child or a fleeting thought. If you’re at work, you’ll likely be interrupted within the next three minutes. And once distracted, it will take you about 23 minutes to get back on track according to a Stanford University study. In order to stay focused and truly hear the voice of your heart, you need to mind your Ps & Qs. In particular, you

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Dealing with Holiday Stress

My daughters were born on Halloween and New Year’s Day. That means that nearly all of our family “holidays” are crammed into about a 45 day window. I’d like to think that, somehow, my holidays are more stressful than yours. But that’s not really true. The Holidays (with a capital T and a capital H) are universally stressful. They’re the perfect storm of things designed to feed anxiety, depression, and addiction. The Holidays are loaded with family expectations, energy drains, financial strains, and the also the highest hopes. We desperately want these few months to be the highlight of the

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The One Question to Ask Before Your Wedding

The early part of a relationship is filled with questions: What’s your favorite movie? Where did you grow up? What makes you good at your job? If the relationship is going well, you may graduate to more profound questions: What are your dreams? What are your fears? Will we take the next step together? Eventually, someone may pop THE question: Will you marry me? The decision to get married brings on a ton of "Who, What, When, Where" questions: Have you set the date? Where are you getting married? Who are you inviting? But before you start thinking about the big day, I

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Why Pre-Marital Counseling?

About 2.6 million couples will marry in the U.S. this year. About 45% of those couples will participate in pre-marriage counseling. Seems like a good idea. Some research suggests that couples who seek counseling before their wedding report a 30% higher marital success rate than those who did not. There are, of course, other factors that play into marital success. And pre-marriage counseling certainly isn’t a silver bullet. (Notably, less than 1% of couples that are considering re-marriage pursue pre-wedding therapy.) If, however, you’re considering therapy in advance of your wedding, it’s worth exploring the question of why. Here are

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STRESS: Where does it come from?

What is stressing you out? Work? Family? Money? All of these? Maybe your football team is stressing you out. Or your car. Maybe it’s that relationship ghost that’s been haunting you for the last 10 years. Or your addiction. Or the decision you have to make by the end of the week. Whatever it is, it’s probably not the thing itself. Most stress—about 85%—comes from indecision or lack of control. It’s not your money that’s stressing you out. It’s the lack of control, or power, or influence. Or it could be a lack of information or actual insight into the

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Navigating Seasons

One of my favorite definitions of marriage is “moving through life together”. This journey is really just moving through a series of phases or seasons. More often than not, these phases are laid overtop of one another and you may even be in many concentric phases at once. Just like a summer, autumn, winter, and spring, the seasons of your life will not have a distinct beginning or end but will blend and dissolve as you move from one to the next. As our seasons of lives change, marriage can become stressed. For couples who ignore, minimize, or resist this

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E is for Empathy

I am more and more convinced that empathy is the key to healthy relationships. Empathy is why individual counseling and marriage therapy can be so effective. Your therapist is trained to listen to the voice of your heart and understand what’s at the root of your anxiety or depression, but also your hopes and dreams. That’s what empathy is. An awareness and joining of your feelings. Too often we simply feel the feelings without seeking a deeper understanding of what they might mean. This is true for both our interpersonal relationships and our relationships with ourselves. My favorite examination of empathy

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3 Elements of a Healthy Apology

When I was in the 10th grade, I used to intentionally antagonize my French teacher. I would hide her chalk and her coffee mug.  I’d ask to go to the bathroom in Spanish. I’d “forget” that my assigned seat was in the front row right next to her desk. I was a real prince. We had a little ritual. She’d get fed up and extend some kind of empty threat. I’d say, “I’m sorry.” Then she’d say, “I don’t want you to say you’re sorry. I want you to apologize.” As a sophomore in high school, I definitely didn’t understand

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Be Redirected

In the Christian New Testament there is a story that takes place not long after Jesus’s crucifixion. It’s a scene where Peter and his friends have been out all night working hard fishing without catching a thing. Just days before, they had witnessed the traumatic trial and execution of Jesus (their friend and mentor). During those days, Peter betrayed his friend, denying three times that he even knew Jesus. Jesus, having come back from the dead, goes early the next morning and finds Peter and friends who have gone back to their work as fishermen. It seems that working was

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Redesign, renovate, or remodel?

Getting Your "Relationship House" in Order Sometimes it’s helpful to consider marriage like a home improvement show on HGTV. Over time, a marriage may need a fresh coat of paint and some new pillows, other times there is a lot more happening that needs more significant attention. When your relationship is struggling, you may simply need to focus on repair, but when the relational house is unstable more severe intervention is needed. Dr. John Gottman has spent his entire career trying to answer one question: What makes relationships work? There, are of course, hundreds of theories spanning hundreds of years that

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