The ‘F’ Word: Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a voluntary and intentional process by which you have a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense.

The rule is simply this: forgive. This is sincerely the best thing you can do in your marriage and really the only way to keep your marriage intact for the rest of your life. It takes letting go of negative emotions such as anger or vengefulness, and the ability to wish the offender well. Studies have shown that forgiveness inspires love and can be healing in many ways.

Use these tips to keep forgiveness at the heart of your marriage:

1.      Look at both sides of the story.

There are often simple explanations for frustrating behavior, but you have to be willing to see both sides. Too often, spouses jump to conclusions and immediately go into a blaming or defensive mode instead of looking reasonably at both sides of the story. If everyone looked at themselves first before attacking their partners, many fights would be dispersed before they even began. When you can view both sides honestly, it is easier to find forgiveness because you see what part you contributed in the fight.

2.      Practice a policy of open honesty, but not necessarily all the time.

Some spouses operate on the premise that honesty is the best policy no matter the circumstances. In reality, this is not true in marriage. When you hear that honesty is important in a marriage, it is. But it doesn’t mean cruelty or lack of tact is necessary. Honesty means not lying about how much you spent shopping and if your husband asks how you are, do not say ‘fine’ when you don’t mean it. If you need to, schedule a time each week that is your ‘honest’ time. When you have both had a chance to air your grievances, it will be easier to follow number 1 above.

3.      Imagine your spouse dying or leaving you.

This isn’t something that you usually hear recommended in a marriage. But it is a simple and powerful way to remind yourself of how much you love your spouse. When you are feeling especially angry, think about how you would feel if he or she died before you sorted out your feelings. Would this incident be of importance? This is not to say that you should pretend to be happy all the time because he or she might die. This is just another way to look at your marriage and realize how much you do love each other and want the marriage to go forward.

4.      Think about how forgiving will also help you.

Holding on to negative feelings and grudges is extra emotional weight you don’t need. You have likely upset your spouse at times too. There is  no way to exist in any long term relationship without some misunderstandings and doing unintentional harm. Forgiving will be freeing for you and is likely to bring you the same in return from your partner.


By following these simple guidelines, you will find that you can forgive your husband or wife more quickly. Throughout your relationship, you will frequently have moments of “rupture and repair.”  There are times you both go off course and will need to correct it. This is quite normal. Love always follows forgiveness. So, put these ideas into practice to strengthen your bond and ensure that you are truly together until death do you part.

At Star Point Counseling Center, there are two convenient locations for you to choose from in Brandon and Tampa. Call or Text us today, to schedule your appointment. (813) 244.1251
 To view the Brandon website, click here.

We provide counseling services to individuals, couples, families, children, teens, and adults with any type of crises.  We help you build tools as well as help design and implement individualized goals and objectives, help you sort out beliefs, thoughts, and behavior patterns that may be hindering you in your relationship(s) whether at the work place or in other areas of your life.  
We have the tools you need for managing pain, anxiety, disappointment, frustration, hopelessness, or anger resulting from circumstances that interfere in achieving a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.  By working together, we will show you how to set and achieve goals and objectives therapeutically designed to meet your needs that will allow you to live the life you know that you deserve.






Couples Therapy at Starpoint

Marriage counseling, also called couples therapy, is a type of psychotherapy that is conducted by licensed therapists. Usually involving both partners, marriage counseling helps couples to recognize underlying conflicts and improve their relationship. It can help married couples make thoughtful decisions, overcome differences and enhance communication between them. Marriage counseling is also an ideal resource for relationship help. Often short term, marriage counseling also encourages both partners to focus on self-improvement and self-awareness. In couples therapy at Starpoint Counseling Center, a marriage counselor can help you to:

  1. Explore your hopes, expectations and relationship concerns
  2. Understand each other better
  3. Teach your effective ways to communication with each other
  4. Explain why there are differences of opinion & what to do about them
  5. Learn problem solving strategies
  6. Learn how to move on from marital disappointments and anger
  7. Understand the possible implications of a breakup

Starpoint Counseling Center is also aware of the fact that couples come to them reluctantly, but with a hope that it can benefit their marriage. A good counselor will make every effort to help the couple feel at ease and advise them as best as possible. We can schedule your appointment around your busy schedule. Call or text (813) 244-1251.  You can also reach us online:

Also see: http://www.starpointcounselingbrandon &


Tips for a Happy Relationship

Tips to finding happiness and satisfaction in a relationship: Express admiration and affection. The idea is to look for ways to appreciate and feel warmth for your partner, and express those things. Send unexpected text messages, leave a loving note near the … Continue reading

It All Begins With Clear Communication

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Many people will agree that communication is KEY to any relationship. Whether it is with your significant other, family members, or very close friends, you want to have clear and open dialogue. Are experiencing communication blockage in your relationship? You might not be using clean communication. Follow these basic guidelines for cleaner communication:

  1. Avoid using judgmental words.  Avoid using words that convey to your partner that he/she is flawed. Examples: “childish, uncooperative, thoughtless.” These words do not belong in a caring relationship.
  2. Avoid using global labels.  A global label is a generalized disapproval of your partner’s identity. Examples: he or she is “stupid, selfish, lazy, useless.” These labels attack your partner’s person instead of his/her behavior. They convey that your partner is “always” bad. Use of these labels results in a loss of trust and a loss of closeness.
  3. Avoid “you” messages of blame and accusation.  Examples: “You always make us late; you never ask what I want; you never offer to help with chores.” The true meaning behind these “you” messages is: “I’m in pain, and you did it to me.” They also convey the message: “You were bad and wrong for doing this to me.” Instead use “I” messages which show no direct accusation or blaming of your partner. For example: “I feel sad about missing the evening with you when you come home late; I feel tired and irritated when I put the groceries away alone.”
  4. Avoid bringing up the past.  When communicating with your partner, especially while angry, try to stay in the present moment and deal with the current issue. Bringing up past events tends to build up a case against your partner compiling evidence to prove his/her faults. Example: “You did the same thing to me last week, and the week before.” This statement sends the message: “You’ve always had this flaw, and it’s not getting any better.”
  5. Avoid using negative comparisons.  Clean communication is about helping, not hurting your partner. It is meant to resolve conflict by not rejecting your partner. Negative comparisons only seek to punish and attack your partner.
  6. Avoid using threats.  Example: “If you leave this house right now, don’t expect me to be here when you get back.” This sends the message that your partner is bad and you are going to punish him/her. The deliberate intention to hurt is tremendously destructive to your relationship.
  7. Describe your  feelings rather than attack with them.  Using clarifying words to describe your feelings will help your partner to hear and understand you. Statements like: “I am sad, or I am feeling hurt,” are clear ways to express your feelings to your partner. Be mindful of your tone of voice when describing your feelings. Using sarcasm, threatening, or raising your voice can be perceived as an attack on your partner.
  8. Keep your body language open and receptive.  Believe it or not your body language can actually depict whether or not you are open and willing to communicate. Crossing your arms, pinched lips or a tight jaw, or looking away in a disgusted manner are all signs that you do not want to communicate. To portray openness, keep good eye contact, nod or acknowledge while listening, relax your face, uncross your arms, and if you are sitting lean slightly forward.
  9. Use whole messages.  Whole messages consist of observations, thoughts, feelings, and needs or wants. “You’re spending too much time at work” is not an appropriate way to express thoughts in a whole message, because it turns your opinion into  an absolute truth. “I am sensing that the balance is off; I think you need to spend more time at home.” This statement shows that the speaker takes responsibility for his/her own opinion and does not try to make it absolute.
  10. Use clear messages.  A woman who sarcastically says to her partner at the dinner table, “You’re talkative as usual,” may pretend her statement is a simple observation, but the observation is contaminated with judging thoughts, feelings, and needs. A more accurate statement would be clear and whole: “I notice you’re pretty quiet tonight (observation). It makes me think you’re not interested in me (thought), and I feel hurt and a little angry (feeling). I’d really like you to talk with me more (need).”

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Are you using clean communication with those around you and/or with your partner? Call Star point today to set up an appointment with one of our counselors. They can help guide you and your partner (or family members) down the road to cleaner and clearer communication.

McKay, M., Fanning, P. & Paleg, K. (2006). Couple skills: Making your relationship work. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Visit our website to learn more about how a counselor can help:, or

Perk Up Your Relationship.


Relationship advice usually comes in the form of don’ts. Don’t nag, don’t tell them to pick up their clothes, don’t remind them to take out the trash and complain when they don’t, don’t put blame. Well here’s a new one for you, don’t listen to any of the advice about the don’ts. Couples who focus on the do’s and who seek to increase the good in their relationship are happier and get along better than those who just focus on avoiding the negative.

Here are some do’s to perk up your relationship:

  1. Be Grateful. Gratitude helps remind us of all the good qualities in our partner. Expressing gratitude towards the other person makes them feel better about themselves, which in return makes the relationship stronger.
  2. Poke fun. When life gets serious is always fun to lighten up the mood by teasing your partner in a non hostile way. Couples who poke fun are happier and come to more peaceful solutions to their issues. 
  3. Celebrate the good. It’s always nice to have your partner’s shoulder to lean on during bad times but its also important to celebrate the good times too. Be enthusiastic about your partner’s good news, ask questions, pay compliments, and be each others biggest cheerleaders. 
  4. Find your ideal self, in your partner. Make a list of your personal goals and then make a list of the qualities you like most about your partner, chances are they are similar. Let your partner help you improve on those things that matter most to you. You will become more like your ideal self and in the process become closer to your partner.
  5. Notice the new. Once we have been in a relationship for a while we stop really noticing and looking at our partner. People are always changing, so take the time to notice something new in your partner, whether it be a new shirt or a change in their values and beliefs. 
  6. Random acts of kindness. When your partner is going through a rough time don’t worry about grand gestures, focus more on doing little acts of kindness that can help make their life a little easier. 
  7. Get back in touch. Even when you don’t have the time for full blown intimacy, you can still benefit from physical closeness. A gentle touch on your partner’s neck, shoulders, and hands, increases oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates bonding, and reduces blood pressure and stress levels. Next time you want to boost your partner’s mood, give them a quick back rub.

If you find yourself struggling with keeping the fire in your relationship going, let us help you. Our Mental Heath Therapists can help you keep that fire alive!

Call us today! (813)244-1251

Fighting Big = Big Resolution


Some say that having a screaming match with their partner is effective, because it shows that there is passion in the relationship. But can having big fights with your partner end in big resolutions?

Disagreements are normal and can even strengthen relationships, if resolved in a healthy manner. In close relationships, feeling frustrated, misunderstood, or having differences in opinion is natural. Therefore, it is expected that there may be an emotional combustion. By fighting big (i.e. arguing), this allows for stressors to be released, and in turn, leads to a solution. Boundaries can be established as a result of these differences, and partners can establish their own fighting style to effectively approach these conflicts.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, couples in satisfying relationships who have negative communication, are more likely to have bigger conflicts, but this is usually followed by bigger resolutions by both partners. An internet questionnaire was given to couples in a satisfying relationship, and to couples in an unhappy relationship. The self-reported data from the questionnaire relayed how the couples felt during the conflict and how they currently feel about it. This was used as a measure of the progress the participants made toward progress.

Results revealed that the presence of negative communication in satisfying relationships was associated with bigger conflicts, but that these conflicts were generally followed by big resolutions. However, the presence of negative communication in unhappy relationships was associated with big conflicts, as well as trouble finding a resolution, regardless of the type of communication they used. These findings highlight how a couple can have a big fight, feel upset, reach an argument, and then feel happy with one another again. A much stronger predictor of progress toward conflict resolution is a person’s level of relationship satisfaction. Conclusively, keeping a feeling of satisfaction alive in a relationship is more important than the type of communication used to resolve conflicts.

You can read the entire article from Medical Daily here:

For more information on Couples Counseling, visit our website at, or

Improving Relationships By Reducing Blame

Blaming the other person is one of the most common ways couples tend to destroy their relationships. According to Psychology Today, chronic blaming is a form of emotional abuse. Chronically being blamed for an act that you did not actually commit is like taking a verbal beating. Eventually, the person being blamed will start believing he or she is responsible for things that are beyond his or her control. This feeling of responsibility, otherwise known as “guilt,” later leads to poor self-esteem.

Seeking counseling is a great first step in eliminating blaming behavior and influencing growth and healing in relationships. Learning how to improve communication with your partner will help to increase respect and reduce emotional abuse.

For more information on mental health counseling, visit our website at, or

There’s a Word for That?

limerenceRecently I came across a word that I didn’t even know existed. As I was looking for love and types of love, I ran across Sternberg’s triangle. Although its reliability has been questioned in many ways, there are many important concepts that are introduced within this theory. One of which is the concept of limerence. The term was actually developed by a psychologist Dorothy Tennov and was explained in detail in many of her books.

Limerence is almost like an infatuation of sorts. You may recognize it in the beginning of a romantic relationship. Its the period of overwhelming feelings of love and attachment that is involuntary. There are many aspects of limerence, according to Tennov. One will usually have intrusive thoughts about the “limerent” and being overwhelmed with the idea that the limerent MUST have reciprocal feelings. So, how often does this happen? Is it healthy? Well, Tennov’s predecessors are working hard to make more people familiar with this term, and eventually may try to label it as a disorder.

Stay tuned for more information on limerence in the next blog. But we want to hear from you… Have you ever experience limerence? And if so, was it a positive experience? What was the outcome? Your feedback is appreciated!!!!!!

Employee Profile: Norma J. Barnes


Norma has been with Star Point Counseling for about a year. She has added much experience and knowledge to our team. Here is a little bit about Norma…

Norma recieved a Master’s Degree from Nova Southeastern University and has been in the counseling field for over 15 years. Norma is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a Certified Addictions Professional and a Certified Employee Assistance Professional.

Norma’s experience includes working with individuals, couples, gay and lesbian, blended families, family counseling, multicultural dynamics, women’s issues, grief and loss, personal growth, addiction, ACOA, depression, anxiety, stress, workplace issues, marriage counseling, separation and divorce, and phase of life challenges.

Norma is available for appointments on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at our Brandon location. She takes most major insurances as well. If you would like to make an appointment with Norma, or recieve a free phone consultation call Star Point Counseling of Tampa at 813-244-1251.

New Additions To the Team

Star Point Counseling would like to welcome Farida Stino, Suzanne Stokes, LMHC, and Bob Scarff LMHC, to our wonderful team of therapists and interns. Farida is now taking appointments at both the Brandon and Tampa locations. Suzanne is taking appointments at the Tampa location. And Bob is available on Saturdays in Brandon. These guys bring great experience and knowledge to the counseling team and we are so happy to now have them on board!
Our team of dedicated therapists work hard to help you live the life you deserve. Our combined knowledge and experience covers areas of Parenting, Family Dynamics, Alternative Lifestyles, Anxiety, Depression and other Mood Disorders, Grief and Loss, Couples Issues, Separation and Divorce, Teenage Struggles, Phase of Life Challenges, Military Lifestyles, and many others. We also accept most major insurance providers, and may be able to offer sessions on a sliding fee scale based on your income. Call Sam to make an appointment today! 813-244-1251 or check out our website for more information: