Free Advice

Free Advice – Dr. Jessica Higgins’ Blog

These articles give you insights and recommendations on the topic of relationship, loving, and optimal living. To get the latest relationship advice for couples in the form of tips, tools, and suggestions, make sure to listen to the Empowered Relationship Podcast.


Awareness, Intention & Mindful Action – During Stressful Times

When faced with a threatening, challenging time, like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to feel scared, uncertain, and a sense of loss.

Some of us are impacted more than others. And we all have our different ways of responding and approaching the situation. Yet, we are all experiencing this together.

If you listen to the Empowered Relationship podcast, so much of what we talk about is not attempting to eliminate difficulties, but learning how to deal with the challenges.

Rather than turning away and attempting to ignore...

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, this stance of constant criticism in relationship can turn into deeper habits of disapproving, critiquing, correcting, blaming, nitpicking or trying to fix your significant other.

Is criticism something that automatically comes with every relationship? Do you simply have to learn how to take it and just deal with it?

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 helps to identify whether or not you may be more critical than you think. I also provided 16 reasons why people are highly critical, which helps to...

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

Criticism in relationship

Being Too Critical In A Relationship

Criticism in relationship is a behavior that can be toxic to the couple. It erodes away positive feelings over time and leads to other problematic behaviors that can destroy the connection. My intention for this article is to help you understand when criticism in relationship is too much to handle. Criticism in 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 in relationship...

17 Traits Of Highly Sensitivity People

traits of highly sensitive people
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 (HSP), as 1 in 5 people are. Yet, you might not know very much about sensitivity as a trait. Most people don’t. In this article, I will cover 17 traits of highly sensitive people to you know how to relate when in partnership with someone who is HSP.

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.
  • traits of highly sensitive peopleHighly sensitive people...

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

9 Types of Love Relationships
Professional relationship experts have differing opinions about how many types of love relationships there are. Some say 2, others say 4. In this article, I'm going to cover 9 types of love relationships (and define what love is) that will expand your awareness and help you experience a deeper connection with your partner. Earlier this year, Hallmark released 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...

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...

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...

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

behaviors to avoid in relationship conflict

Most of us have had the experience of behaving poorly in a relationship, especially during an argument or a disagreement. While conflict is healthy and can be a normal part of an intimate relationship, it takes some skill and effort to be effective and constructive during times of disconnection and conflict.

behaviors to avoid in relationship conflictHumans don't enjoy participating in destructive behaviors. Clients tell me all the time how bad they feel about their behavior when in conflict with their partner. Yet, most people feel as though they can't 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...

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...

ERP 014: Expectations in Relationship: 10 Tips to Consider

relationship expectations
Relationship 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 relationship expectations? Are relationship expectations always bad? If expectations...

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...

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...

Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching