I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Kift, who runs LisaKiftTherapy.com and I took the chance to ask her about her background in marriage and family therapy. With an interesting background and profession, and a clear passion for what she does, I couldn’t wait to share her story and tips for healthy relationships with you all.
- What made you want to become a marriage and family therapist?
I had several influences in my decision to become a therapist; one was dissatisfaction with my prior career (movie/tv production) and a desire to do something that resonated more with me personally. My father is a psychiatrist so I’ve always had that as an influence as well. Most importantly, however, was my own positive experience in therapy. I experienced first-hand the power and potential of the therapeutic relationship.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
Working with individuals and couples, the rewards are a little different but for me it’s ultimately about bearing witness to people’s deepest experiences and pain; as well as the potential for life-altering change. Being a part of that is humbling and inspiring.
- What would you say are some of the most common problems married couples experience?
The most common marriage problems I see stem from less than optimal communication patterns, the impact of resentment (unrepaired pain and anger) and unresolved family of origin wounds impacting the relationship. Couples usually present to counseling with other issues but if I unpack those a little, this is what often lies beneath.
- What advice would you give to a couple who are trying to keep the romance alive in their relationship?
I advise couples seeking to keep the romantic connection to remember to begin with the fundamentals of strong relationship; feeling heard, prioritized, safe… all the elements of basic emotional safety. Couples need to be checking in with each other no matter how busy life is. From that can be added carving out adult time (for those with kids) in date nights, walks, etc. I suggest couples mix it up as happiness studies have shown that doing new things can increase happiness. Get playful again…
- In your opinion, what are the secrets to a happy marriage?
I believe a happy marriage is one where several things exist; open communication, time made for each other, intimacy, repairing damage if it occurs, a solid friendship and similar couple/family goals for the future. It’s great if couples can share a few hobbies or activities – and if not, they at least show interest in each others’ worlds. They stay regulated during conflict and feel emotionally safe together; a port in the storm for each other.
- What research was involved in putting together material for your books, The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples and The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples and what do you think the big takeaway for readers is from each book?
My premarital and marriage workbooks are very similar but for different audiences. They both stress the importance of having a strong relationship foundation for longevity and happiness together. Both workbooks provide a framework to do that with worksheets couples can do separately, then discuss together to assess their strengths and areas for improvement while learning about each other and how they each perceive their relationship. It was modeled around my own therapy practice and how I view people, relationships and change. While doing research, I pulled from the work of John Gottman, Harville Hendrix, John Bradshaw, concepts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, neuroscience, attachment and others.
The big takeaway from The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples is to put as much energy into wedding planning as you do your marriage. It’s very easy for premarital couples to be swept away in the “honeymoon” phase of their relationship and not consider that things could get challenging for them. I’m suggesting they strengthen the foundation of their relationship before they tie the knot to increase the chances they stay connected through the inevitable storms of life; that they have the basic tools in their toolbox to do that.
The big takeaway from The Marriage Refresher Workbook for Couples is that no matter how long you’ve been married, it’s never too late to get the tools for a strong and connected marriage. Many married couples never got premarital counseling so this is their opportunity to reset and do it now. If they have gotten off track and are disconnected, it can provide a roadmap towards reconnection.
Lisa works with couples to improve their relationships, through consultations and her workbooks, ‘The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples’, and ‘The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples’.
Thank you for sharing Lisa!