How To Reboot Your Out-Of-Tune Relationships

by Mar 14, 2016Couples and Marriage, Relationships0 comments

Welcome back to the Unearth Your Passion Relationship Blog from AVL Couples Therapy! This week I have a guest post from an amazing therapist out of the Twin Cities. Brian Zirngible has recently opened his private practice in Burnsville, Minnesota, and his work focuses on Marriage, Men, and Musicians. Without further ado, here’s Brian’s awesome contribution…

Hi, my name is Brene Brian and I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with a private practice in Burnsville, Minnesota. OK, fine. I already lied to you and you’re supposed to trust your therapist! My actual name is Brian Zirngible I’m happy to share some information with you about connecting with your partner to build a stronger relationship together!

My passion is working with marriage, men and musicians in our Twin Cities community. Being a working professional musician myself, I have experienced firsthand the ups and downs of the music industry & how it can impact all of our relationships. My work with couples includes conversations about intimate connections, conversations and how to actively listen to your partner. Many times the conversations include how to better connect with sexual intimacy, as well. I also love working with men & older teenage males who struggle with depression, emotional expression and anxiety. I love it because many men do not want to go to therapy to talk to a stranger. Many men are “dragged into therapy” by their partners so they can be “fixed”. In my work with older teenage males, I’m used to building trusting relationships with people that don’t want to be in my office. That’s where my knowledge of pop culture, music, sports and the entertainment industry is extremely helpful to the folks I work with!

Most everyone has at least heard of Brene Brown and her groundbreaking research and TED Talk on the power of vulnerability, courage, worthiness & shame. This is especially of interest to me in my work with couples and men. In my own experience as a husband and in my work with couples, it seems & feels extremely counter intuitive to express any kind of vulnerability to our partner. Doesn’t that show weakness, frailty and powerlessness? If I express my feelings or share a fear or anxiety, won’t it scare my partner away? What if my partner makes fun of me or I feel embarrassed? All of these questions and concerns are valid and true. We address all of these topics in our sessions together. I’ve been amazed at the gentle care that is given to a partner who is able to share a fear or anxiety. I’ve seen anger and irritation melt away in my office when struggles are genuinely listened to and validated by a partner. The transformation can be quite life changing!


Now, let’s talk about self-care, shall we? Most relationship specialists say and recommend that in order to be involved in a truly intimate relationship, that individual self-care is a necessity. I couldn’t agree more! I do want to validate that each and every single relationship is different and has developed in its own unique way. We must be able to practice self-care ourselves in order to be healthy enough to thrive in our couple relationships. Here’s where I describe the airplane oxygen mask analogy. When you board an aircraft, the airline fight attendants make this announcement: “You must place your own oxygen mask on first before you try to help others put theirs on”. It’s a safety procedure that has proven results and makes total sense. If you can’t breathe, you’re dead. And last I heard, you can’t help others if you’re dead!

Practicing good and consistent self-care is essential to healthy and vibrant relationships. Some examples of self-care could be participating in a regular yoga practice, daily meditation, various sports leagues, book clubs, social gatherings, listening to or playing music… You get the point and there are so many options to choose from! There are certain things that my wife does that I just don’t do, and vice versa. She doesn’t go out to see local bands as much as I do on my own. And that’s OK! And I don’t attend monthly dinner clubs like she does. And that’s OK too! We actually support & encourage each other to engage in social interactions outside of our marriage. We would honestly get pretty sick of each other if we spent every minute together.

A couple that laughs together… I cannot advocate enough the importance of having a good sense of humor does for relationships. I’ve always had a pretty good sense of humor (according to me) and it’s been helpful in the relationship I have with my wife. I’m a very lucky man in that she also “gets me” and my unique sense of humor. Did I mention that I’m a very lucky man? I’m not here to tell you to laugh your problems away. I’m saying that having the ability to crack a joke at the appropriate time can help improve relationships. Please note that I said at the appropriate time! Just like in stand-up comedy, appropriate timing can mean a room full of laughs versus a room full of crickets. And trust me – you don’t want crickets. A well-timed joke or thoughtful smile can help diffuse extremely stressful conversations or situations. The key to this interaction, might be to discuss that the conversation can and will be continued when both parties are in a better or different mood. The next key is to actually follow through on this agreement! There are times when couples will see me and say “oh yeah, we forgot to return to hot topic conversation of choice”!

It goes without saying that we need to be able to trust our partners. If we don’t, and our partner tells us they’re “going out with the boys” and they end up at a bar hitting on other women, well…Houston, we have a problem! Each relationship has it’s own contract or agreements that can be discussed and revisited. It’s helpful to have conversations about what each partner is OK with. When jealousy & resentment set in, that’s when I start to see people in my office. The most recent research says that the average amount of time it takes for couples to come in for therapy after the struggles start is 6 years!!! (Adjusts glasses…). You read correctly – 6 years!!! And that’s just the AVERAGE!!! That’s a lot of time to be holding things in, not talking about issues and ignoring the problem. But I totally get it. We’re not all able to notice slight changes or problems when they happen in real time. All of a sudden, 6 years later, we don’t feel as connected to our partner as we once did. I’m here to tell you that there is hope and I that believe in relationship repair! Now, this is where you come in…

As a man, I know how difficult it can be for us to talk about emotions and feelings. I keep joking that in my office I’m going to frame Terrance Real’s book called “I Don’t Want To Talk About It: Overcoming The Secret Legacy Of Men’s Depression”. And I still might do just that. He outlines his personal story of abuse from his father and how society does not encourage men to share feelings and to express emotions. From sports teams, to sex, drugs & Rock & Roll – most men just don’t talk. And I know that’s a generalization. There are sensitive men who are able to more freely share their feelings without fear or shame. And I’m one of them…sometimes! And yes, even I, a therapist, struggle with sharing my own thoughts and feelings with my wife. So I’m here to help spread Terry’s message. There is not a session that I don’t reference his book – especially in my work with men and couples. It’s a very helpful reference to open the door to understanding why us men shut down and don’t share our feelings with our partners. Shame, embarrassment, lack of confidence, and fear of rejection are all contributors to this negative relationship cycle. Patience please – we are a work in progress!

Speaking of men & vulnerability, I’m going to role model and share a personal growth story here – so here goes! I was teased and bullied in elementary school. That might be a shock to most people who know me now. But back then I was an overweight, unpopular outcast as well as an astronomy nerd. Not the coolest thing to be when you grew up in a mid-sized town in central Wisconsin! I remember the day that my world flipped around. Jeremy, a student two years older than me, handed me a Morrissey and The Smiths mix cassette tape (yes, cassette tape!). He told me my life was about to change for the better. And it did – immediately! Jeremy was now my positive male role model and I took notice of how he didn’t care what others thought of him. He dodged the labels that others assigned to him. The music he gave me was a crucial guide to living life with purpose, without regard for other’s opinion and how to thrive as an outcast. It encouraged me to find my voice as a creative and musical individual with hopes and dreams. They were literally the songs that saved my life!

So, what the hell does that story have to do with connecting with your partner, you ask? Everything! Before my friend handed me that cassette tape (yes, cassette tape!), I was embarrassed and ashamed of who I was. I was still trying to figure out who I was as an awkward, nerdy teenage male. Jeremy’s friendship gave me the courage to stand up for myself. It gave me the bravery to ask my future wife out on a date. It gave me the confidence to bend down on one knee to ask my wife to marry her – in Mexico – in Spanish! It gave me the wisdom to take a deep breath and ask my wife for forgiveness when I mess up and make really stupid mistakes. That’s exactly what it did, and I’m a much better man for it.

Brian Zirngible is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with a private practice in Burnsville, Minnesota. He specializes in working with marriage, men and musicians. He has been a husband for almost 12 years with a very supportive and understanding wife. They have a Shih Tzu dog that keeps them honest and on their toes. He is part owner of a successful wedding entertainment business. He also is a DJ & professional musician in two different, independent bands. Some of his hobbies and interests include photography, painting, downhill skiing, hiking, golf, and world travel.

While we patiently await the unveiling of Brian’s new website, you can contact him at:

Brian Zirngible, LMFT

Summit Executive Suites, 1500 McAndrews Road West, Suite 233, Burnsville, MN 55337

Office: 952.892.8433, Email: brianzirngible@gmail.com

Check out the message, video, and lyrics that Brian leaves us with…

My favorite Morrissey song is “Every Day Is Like Sunday”, and I’ve provided the lyrics & video below. It is iconic and resonates with so many people that experience self-hate, depression, shame, embarrassment & guilt. It’s an an anthem for the outcasts, and a victory cry for those who share similar experiences. The song is a joining moment and a welcome to be included no matter what you look like or what you believe. Intimate relationships can often feel “silent and grey”, lost and lonely, angst and disappointment. This theme song captures the hope of improving relationships through effort, genuine connections and honest communication.



Trudging slowly over wet sand

Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen

This is the coastal town

That they forgot to close down

Armageddon – come Armageddon!

Come, Armageddon! Come!


Everyday is like Sunday

Everyday is silent and grey


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard :

“How I Dearly Wish I Was Not Here”

In the seaside town

That they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come – nuclear bomb


Everyday is like Sunday

Everyday is silent and grey


Trudging back over pebbles and sand

And a strange dust lands on your hands

(And on your face…)

(On your face…)

(On your face…)

(On your face…)


Everyday is like Sunday

“Win yourself a cheap tray”

Share some greased tea with me

Everyday is silent and grey



Everyday Is Like Sunday lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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