EducationPremarital Counseling Tips #1

Craig Toonder, MFT. Oakland Couples Counseling

Premarital Counseling Tips #1

I have recently launched a new premarital counseling and maintenance program. One of the tragedies of my profession is that couples wait too long before coming in for help. They show up with so much pain and resentment from years of fighting or disconnection that it is extremely difficult to repair or re-open lines of communication.  Much of the damage could have been avoided by an earlier effort to seek out professional counseling.

I have written a six-part blog series to share some of the common insights I discuss with premarital couples who want to safe guard their relationship. Help spread the word. Please feel free to forward this information to anyone you know who is planning on getting married or just got married (even the starry-eyed couples), or anyone else who might benefit from this information. Thank you.


Premarital Counseling Tip #1, The Limbic Brain and the Heart

Our ability to give, receive and feel love is governed by the limbic portion of our brain (the emotional center) and the heart. Scientists have shown that both the brain and the heart attune themselves to the energetic fields of the brains and hearts of those around us. This means, whatever we are feeling, our brain and our heart create an electromagnetic frequency that is then perceived by the brains and hearts of those around us. This is particularly true with the heart. One of my favorite books on the Heart as an organ of perception is The Secrete Teaching of Plants by Stephen Buhner.

This electromagnetic resonance between people can even occur at a distance. Studies have demonstrated that even when two people are in different rooms, if one person is shown an emotionally evocative image, both people register a predictable electromagnetic frequency on devises such as EEG’s and EKG’s.

As a Couples Therapist, I’ve seen many examples of how deeply a couple “wires together.” There is a nonverbal dance that occurs (or is absent) between a couple that operates far beneath their level of true consciousness. For instance, have you ever seen a couple sitting at a booth at a restaurant and under the table (outside of their visual fields) their feet are wiggling in perfect synchrony with each other? We call this “tail waging.” This unconscious synchronization occus frequently in couples therapy.

While most of this synchronization goes on whether we recognize (like) it or not, couples can use this knowledge to their advantage through intentionally developing and engaging with each other with emotional intimacy. In my free report on successful couples, I discuss several ways couples can strengthen and utilize emotional connection to strengthen and enhance their relationship. (You can download this report for free when you sign up for the Couples Connection newsletter.

Remember, emotions are electromagnetically “contagious”! Your brains and hearts will “wire” together. Learn to recognize and choose moments of loving connection. Relationships are meant to enhance our lives and help us grow. Keep in mind… emotional intimacy is the most pleasurable when we learn to properly meet each other with all the flavors of emotion – joy (mutual celebration), sorrow (compassionate presence), fear (comfort and reassurance), and even anger (care and understanding).


Helpful Hint:

  • Make sure you take time to relax together. Life can be very stressful.  Long term or extreme stress is inherently damaging to our health and sense of wellbeing. Everybody knows the importance of stress management. Not everybody knows how to best utilize their relationship as a power resource for stress reduction.
  • Learn to tolerate feelings of sadness by simply offering your compassion. Sadness does not need to be fixed. It needs to be “cared for”. Practice compassion with each other.
  • While keeping in contact through phone calls and text is helpful, long distance “mechanical” connections are insufficient.  Face to face, eye to eye, and belly to belly connections have a profound effect on our nervous system, our blood chemistry, and our ability to attunement to one another. Hug belly to belly until you feel each other relax. Frequently gaze into each other’s eyes. This may be uncomfortable at first, but it is well worth the effort in the long run.
  • Make sure to take time to laugh and play together. Every moment of positive interactions builds “credit” in the “love bank.” Keeping your love bank in the black is important for when you get on each other’s nerves. And let’s be honest, you will get on each other’s nerves.


“Laughter may be the shortest distance between two brains.”

– Daniel Goleman