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Southlake Style

Five Minutes with...Maryellen Dabal, M.A., L.M.F.T.

Feb 02, 2017 10:19AM ● By Ashley Pape

Roses. Chocolate. A romantic dinner out. It’s all par for the course come Valentine’s Day. But for those who want to invest in their relationship for the long haul, there’s more to it than these traditional symbols of love. Hear from Southlake-based counselor Maryellen Dabal, M.A., L.M.F.T., on how to make your relationship the best it can be—on Valentine’s Day and beyond. 

BEST WISDOM YOU USE IN YOUR OWN LIFE: Not to analyze my family and friends—especially my spouse. When I am unsure what my husband is thinking or what he means by something, I feel that my skill of asking and phrasing questions is much better than the average person. 

COMMON MISCONCEPTION ABOUT MARRIAGE COUNSELING: It’s not just for marriages in crisis. We are preventative with our health in eating right, so why not think of counseling in the same way? 

BEST WAY FOR COUPLES TO SLOW DOWN AND RECONNECT: Turn off the technology and actually look each other in the eye. Take time to put everything else aside and just be with each other. Schedule it if you have to. It’s okay to say no to family or friends when you feel you are becoming distant from each other. Have a pajama day and get to know each other again! 

YOUR TOP PIECE OF MARRIAGE ADVICE: Balance your needs as an individual with your needs as a couple and as part of a family. If one area is not getting enough attention and you feel out of balance, talk about it and ask for help from your spouse. Work as a team to help give balance to each other. You can do this through good communication, taking the time to listen and sharing the responsibility for happiness. 

COUPLES SHOULD SPEAK UP ABOUT: Intimacy and deal breakers. In addition to intimacy in the bedroom, you can have intellectual, spiritual, social and even financial intimacy. This intimacy is achieved by creating a deeper level of connection with another person through conversations that are not about the logistics of your life but your goals and dreams. Talking about deal breakers allows you both to understand what is absolutely not acceptable in a relationship or what absolutely needs to be a part of the relationship. 

WAYS TO ADD SOME FUN TO A MARRIAGE: Put the kids to bed early, light some candles, order some take-out food or make your favorite meal and then snuggle up in the living room to watch one of your favorite movies. If you are lucky enough to go out for an adventure, try creating a date box and fill it with written ideas of things you would like to do on a date. Pull an idea from the box and be prepared to do what it says. Have some fun and be creative! 

NO. 1 TIP FOR A HAPPY, HEALTHY MARRIAGE: Prepare for your marriage this year like you would for your wedding reception or for a very special occasion. Discuss the details and your expectations with complete honesty. We all grow up in different environments. What you think is normal may not be normal for your partner. Know your partner’s background and what he or she sees as normal. Does it match or come close to yours? 

IF I WASN’T A COUNSELOR, I’D: Most likely be running a nonprofit agency of some kind. I enjoy using both my business and counseling education to further the lives of others. 

MY IDEA OF THE PERFECT DAY IS: Waking up without an alarm, spending time with my family at an amusement park, squeezing in a little alone time to relax and then ending the day with a swim in the ocean. 

I’M MOST PROUD OF MY: Family and how we work together to support each other in achieving our individual and family goals. 

MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF MY JOB: That individuals, couples and families allow me to earn their trust and invite me on this journey of growth with them. I am sharing the knowledge I have with those who need it and can use it to better their lives. It doesn’t get any better than that.