A Talk with Kelli Miller, LCSW, MSW, author of  Love Hacks: Simple Solutions to Your Most Common Relationship Issues

A Talk with Kelli Miller, LCSW, MSW, author of  Love Hacks: Simple Solutions to Your Most Common Relationship Issues

Why do you believe it’s harder now for couples to work together than a decade ago?

I believe it’s harder now for couples to work together than a decade ago because there are so many more distractions today. We are missing the quality connection with our partners because social media, texts, and our phones divert our attention constantly. We aren’t as present with our partners than we used to be because of that. That is why it’s so important to carve out quality time with our partner with no distractions. We need to come back to making our partner a priority. 

Why do couples stop having sex and what are your top three tips for dealing with sexual issues?

Couples stop having sex for a variety of reasons. It could be resentment on the part of one partner, it could be lack of excitement, or other things like preoccupation with kids, careers, or aging parents that feel more important than intimacy.

My top three tips are:

  1. Uncover any resentments. To really feel connected to your partner resentments need to be addressed. Have an open and honest conversation about what you’re upset about. To feel connected physically, it starts with feeling connected emotionally.
  2. Focus on sensation, not sex. If sex feels too overwhelming, start with a massage or just gentle touch with your partner where climax is not the end goal. Sensate focus therapy can detail how to do this. 
  3. Do what you need to feel sexy and alive again. Dress up. Go on exciting date where you can feel adrenaline together (like rock climbing or going on a rollercoaster in a theme park). Follow some “quick partner connections” which I call: TEASE – Traditions (create traditions for just the two of you), Efforts (do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do for your partner), Acknowledge (validate your partner and what is working), Silly (add some fun into the relationship), and Erotic (send a flirty text). 

What is your advice for coping with addiction, anger, and past trauma that enters relationships?

The first step for addiction is getting the help immediately for partner who is struggling. We need to stabilize the partner with the addiction first before we can focus on the (continued) 

relationship. Eventually, the partner and couple will need help as well, but the first line of defense is helping to curb the addiction. 

Regarding anger, it’s important to recognize when you start to get heated. Anger typically starts as a physical sensation like your heart racing, face feeling flush, your wrists or jaw clenched, etc. Once you recognize the physical symptoms when you’re angry, it’s time to have a time-out or pause from the conversation. Then you reconvene when you are feeling calm. Our partners will respond to us more effectively when we aren’t yelling, screaming, or curt. It’s a win-win for everyone. 

We all come into relationships with our own experiences. Unfortunately, some of that includes trauma which may include things like abuse, dysfunctional in the household, alcoholic parents, etc. It’s important that the partner with the trauma first work out his/her issues with an individual therapist. If they don’t feel comfortable doing that, it’s important to determine how that partner can feel the safest in the relationship. That might include physical or emotional boundaries, determining what is triggering for him/her, and things of that nature. 

Why time-outs aren’t just for children.

Time-outs are one of my favorite tools to help couples. It allows everyone a break from a heated or difficult discussion. It’s not a punitive action and it’s not just for kids! It’s for anyone who recognize they or their partner is getting upset and the argument is better suited when everyone is calm. 

What is your fast-food communication method?

Couples misinterpret each other all the time. The same way a fast-food drive through can misinterpret your order. There is a reason the drive through employee repeats your order and puts it up on the screen: to ensure accuracy! I advise my couples to do the same. Clarify with your partner when talking about difficult topics in order to feel heard and get the information correctly. It’s as simple as saying, “What I’m hearing you say is…”

What is your number one recommendation to rekindle connection?

My number one recommendation to rekindle connection is being vulnerable with our partner. It’s getting honest with what we are feeling and sharing that with our partner. It’s an instant way to feel connected because we are opening our hearts. We often worry if we get vulnerable, we will feel more distant or isolated from our partner but it’s the opposite. We feel more connected when our partners are authentic and genuine.  

Love Hacks:  Simple Solutions to Your Most Common Relationship Issues

By Kelli Miller

Relationships • $18.95 • Pub date: February 13, 2024

Trade paperback • 256 pp. • 5½ x 8½

ISBN: 978-1-60868-908-8  • Also available as an ebook