Free Advice

Free Advice – Dr. Jessica Higgins’ Blog

Every other week, a new blog article will be posted to give you the latest tips, insights, and recommendations on the topic of relationship, loving, and optimal living. You will get the best online relationship help advice from these articles.


17 Ways To Shift Criticism To Maintain A Healthy Relationship

constant criticism in relationship

What is criticism?

Criticism is the act of focusing on your partner’s flaws and passing judgment. Over time, a critical stance can turn into a habit of disapproving, critiquing, correcting, blaming, nitpicking, or trying to fix your significant other. Is criticism something that comes with a relationship? Do you simply have to learn how to take criticism in a relationship? In my previous article, How To Know If You Are Too Critical In Relationship & Why, I offered 10 signs to tell if you might be highly critical, which will help you identify whether or not you may be more critical than you think. I also provided 16 reasons why people are highly critical, which will help you understand if you fit in with...

How To Know If You Are Too Critical In Relationship & Why

constant criticism relationship

Being Too Critical In A Relationship

  Criticism is a behavior that can be toxic to a relationship. It erodes away positive feelings over time and leads to other problematic behaviors that can destroy a relationship. constant criticism relationshipWhile constant criticism in relationship can easily occur, it also is a major predictor of divorce according to John Gottman, a major couples researcher. It is very tough to be around someone who is constantly remarking about your flaws and blaming you for your shortcomings. Over time, being too critical will whittle away at the health and enjoyful parts of a relationship. Criticism occurs when we focus on our partner’s flaws and pass judgment. It is expressed through...

17 Traits Of Highly Sensitivity People

Highly Sensitive People Traits
Sensitivity is a trait or quality we tend to misunderstand or overlook in ourselves and others. Chances are you know someone who is highly sensitive, as 1 in 5 people are highly sensitive. Yet, you probably do not know very much about sensitivity as a trait. Most people don’t.

What does the term “highly sensitive” mean?

  • Sensitivity is a characteristic or trait that everyone has to some degree or another. Some people have moderate amounts of sensitivity, whereas others are highly sensitive.
  • Understanding Highly Sensitive PeopleHighly sensitive people process sensory data more deeply and thoroughly due to biological differences within the nervous system.
  • 20% of people are highly sensitive.
  • The number of men and women that are highly...

What Is Love? Learn Nine Types Of Love To Expand Your Relationship

Earlier this year, Hallmark release a video series for Valentine’s Day, titled Put Your Heart To Paper. They interviewed couples and asked them about their love for one another. They asked them, “How do you say I love you without using the word love.” I thought it was a clever and creative exercise. If you missed it and would like to watch a few videos, you can check it out here. How do you convey your love without saying “I love you?” This questions asks us to get more specific about what love is and why we love.

What is love?

This may be more of a philosophical question. The nature of love can be complex, especially when you...

Exploring The Feeling Of Irritability – Exercise

Is Anger healthy?

For various reasons, we may have learned it is not okay to express our upset, anger, or dissatisfaction, and that it is easier, safer, or more appropriate to avoid conflict or disagreements. man-263413_1280 copyWhen we learn to avoid or ignore things that are upsetting to us, we do not have the opportunity to learn. Irritability or anger can be very useful in letting us know something in our life either is not working or needs attention. When we overlook these feelings, we often overlook the opportunity to improve our situation. Our emotions usually have valuable information to communicate with us. Anger, for example, let's us know when a boundary has been crossed...

What Does The Development Of Intimacy Look Like In Relationship?

My relationship coaching practice experience has shown that every couple goes through clear and predictable developmental stages within their relationship. However, this is not common knowledge. Not sure why this is, but I think it has to do with how overpowering and attractive the first stage (romance stage) is for most of us. We love romance stories! Great movies and books are based upon budding romances and newly formed relationships. It is exciting. thrilling, and passionate. We get to vicariously experience the juicy, neurochemical high from all the romance. Rarely, do stories focus on the actual terrain of a long-term intimate relationship. If a storyline develops around an established couple, the plot is usually about some major pitfall within their relationship (i.e. an...

Part 3: How To Have A More Fulfilling And Dynamic Relationship

Over the last several weeks, I have been discussing the Seven Reasons Why Relationship Feels So Hard Sometimes and what to do about it. Many of us long to feel profound love, yet find cultivating a lasting, loving relationship to be an elusive and daunting process. In this three-part series, I am addressing ways that we can actively work towards a more fulfilling and rewarding relationship. Part one, I addressed the first two ways to deal with “why relationship feels so hard sometimes.” In part two, I discussed the third and fourth way to proactively...

How To Have A More Fulfilling And Dynamic Relationship Part 2

Four weeks ago, I published Seven Reasons Why Relationship Feels So Hard Sometimes. While one of our essential needs is to love and be loved, we can easily feel confused and perplexed at how to cultivate a lasting and loving relationship. Unfortunately, it is all too common to feel challenged, uncomfortable, and pained within the dynamics of our relationships. Two weeks ago, I wrote How To Have A More Fulfilling And Dynamic Relationship (part one), which addresses what we can do about the first two challenges discussed in READ MORE →

How To Have A More Fulfilling And Dynamic Relationship

Two weeks ago, I published an article titled Seven Reasons Why Relationship Feels So Hard Sometimes. I discussed the fact that while one of our most essential needs is to love and be loved, we often feel confused and perplexed about how to cultivate a fulfilling, lasting intimate relationship. It is very common to feel challenged, uncomfortable, and even pained within the dynamics of our relationships. In this article, I will discuss what we can do to help address these seven areas of difficulty. While these points might seem simple, there is a tremendous amount of depth to be understood, explored, and integrated in the process of applying these principles...

Seven Reasons Why Relationship Feels So Hard Sometimes

One of our most essential needs is to love and be loved. Yet, we often find ourselves feeling lost and confused about how to a cultivate lasting, romantic relationship. Many of us feel challenged, uncomfortable, and utterly pained within the dynamics of our relationships. There are many reasons why relationships are hard, and in this article, I will address a few of the most common ones.   1. We are uncertain of what to strive for in an intimate relationship. relationships are hardWe don’t have a good road map for what to expect within a long-term relationship. We are surrounded with media advertising and programming that portrays exploitative ways of relating romantically, which emphasize lust,...

Nine Destructive Behaviors to Avoid During Relationship Conflict

Most of us have had the experience of behaving poorly in relationship, Couple snowball fightespecially during an argument or a disagreement. While conflict is a healthy and normal part of an intimate relationship, it takes some skill and effort to be effective and constructive. People don't enjoy participating in destructive behaviors. Clients tell me all the time how bad they feel about their behavior when in conflict. Yet, most people feel as though they can help themselves or they don’t know how to stop the cycle. They feel threatened, hurt, upset, and/or angry, and they feel they need to protect themselves. When both partners react, it creates a negative loop that can breed...

Learn How To Connect More Deeply With Your Partner By Using The Platinum Rule

Loving in a New Way Dr Jessica Higgins
Many of us subscribe to the “golden rule”, which is to treat someone the way you would like to be treated. While this can be a good rule in general, as far as kindness, respect, and consideration for others, the rule doesn’t always work so well in matters of loving and relating.

Different Ways of Processing Emotion

To illustrate this point, I will use a little self-disclosure to provide an example. My husband usually prefers to process and work through his difficult emotions more internally. On face value it seems like a pretty neutral thing, we process our emotions differently. Typically, he will share with me once he has more clarity and understanding about his feelings. However, I have had to learn...

Expectations in Relationship: 10 Tips to Consider

relationship expectations
Expectations can fuel and motivate how we relate and react to others. However, most of us don't even realize that we have had an expectation, until we find ourselves feeling disappointed or upset. Most couples experience a great deal of confusion, disappointment, and upset within the power struggle phase of relationship. It may be important to read this article first before reading the following article (as the following article relates more to specific issues rather than the overarching relationship issue). Is it okay to have expectations? Are expectations always bad? If expectations are not always bad, how...

Turn Feeling Stuck In A Conversation Into Feeling Collaboration And Progress

We have all heard it before. “Be curious.” “Have a beginners mind.” “See with new eyes.” Yet, throughout our day-to-day lives we are so often easily swayed to our habitual thinking patterns.

Habitual Thinking

This morning, my husband told me about a podcast that he was listening to called Life is Marthon. The host, Bruce Van Horn, reported that on average, humans have about 50,000 thoughts a day, and out of those 50,000 thoughts, 45,000 are REPEAT thoughts. Which means 90% of our thinking is repetitive (He also added that 70% of the thoughts are usually negative.). When I heard this, I actually wasn’t surprised because I am a psychologist and coach, and I have an understanding...

A Step-by-Step Guide To Turn Any Argument Into Effective Communication

Dr. Jessica Higgins Effective
Have you ever wanted to address an issue with your partner and not known how? It is a common experience to try to address a concern with good intentions, and then something goes wrong. There is some misunderstanding or upset that takes the whole conversation off course. What was meant to be a conversation to resolve something has now turn into even more of a problem. Well, here is a tool for you to use. I am not going to lie and say that it is easy. Every step of the way will probably feel hard, but if you stay with it and see it through, I assure you it will be way worth the effort. As with most things, the more...