Marbella Psychology Blog

Marbella Psychology

The Marbella Psychology Blog is a collection of the top concerns we've received on our site related to achieving a healthy mindset in Marbella.  

Life as an expat, away from familiar surroundings brings with it massive changes in ones state of mind. Whether you are part of a family or are a single woman looking to make your mark on the Costa del Sol, the pressures can be enormous. 

The Marbella Psychology Blog was developed to build a forum where local residents can obtain and exchange effective tips on how to develop a healthy mindset to achieve a true level of confidence and well being for their everyday lives.

If you have a specific question that you'd like to see addressed on the Marbella Psychology Blog, please let us know about it using our Ask a Question feature located on the bar above. Or, leave your question on our Facebook Comments section, below. We'd be glad to hear the topics you personally would be interested to read about.

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Let me show you how:

Take some time to sit down and make a list of all the things you blame and criticise your partner for. In order to get that gift from your partner you need to go through these steps:

PREPARATION: For this very powerful practice to work the preparation is of utmost importance.

Sit down in a comfortable position in a quiet place and put your favorite relaxing music. It is best done with your back upright. Allow the music to calm your mind. Put your attention in your breath to bring your focus to the here and now and to your body.  Once you have achieved that please put  your han don your heart and connect with it and feel deeply into it to check whether you want to end the conflict in your relationship sincerely. That means that you are willing NOT to be right about what you blame him/her for.  That is the most important point in order for you to truly turn your relationship around from blame to satisfaction of your needs through a true listening to each other. I repeat: you have to be willing to let go of wanting to be right for all reasons of your blame. Take your time to feel into your heart until you get to this point.


Take a pen and paper and write down a list of all the issues that you are blaming and criticizing your partner for.  Add to the list what you are accusing him/her of doing or not doing.

So a list as an example could be something like that:

You always leave me to do all the work with the kids.  

You are very disorganized and it drives me crazy.

I don’t feel you listen to me anymore.

It seems that you have more fun being with friends than being with me or at home with the family.

I don’t like what you transmit to our kids. We don’t agree on how to educate them. 

I don’t feel you are in love with me anymore. You stopped bringing me gifts.

I don’t like you wavering about the decisions you take. When something goes wrong there is always something or someone to blame. You never take responsiblity for your actions and decisions. 

You are extremely slow. I also have to push you to do things otherwise nothing gets done.

Sometimes I feel I have another child at home, not a man.

Please make sure you write exactly what you feel without thinking twice about it. Let it flow without restrictions or inhibition.


What I did with my client was to turn these frustrations, blame and criticism into insights that when achieved took her to take responsibility and change her attitude. Guess what happened? Bingo!!! He responded and started feeling warm and affectionate and physical with her again. 

Obviously that’s what you want right? So let’s do it.

Following the example of the 9 points let’s turn them around.

Is it really true that he leaves you always with all the work?

What happens to me and what does his dis-organization evoque in me? Where does it touch me? In other words how do I take responsability for my reaction to his dis-organization.

What is it exactly that I want him to listen to, to hear? Am I clear on what I want him to listen, to hear? Am I expressing it clearly?

What is happening at home that makes him prefer to be with his friends? What is my contribution to creating the dis-enchantment. 

Did you have a true communication and created a clear agreement on the kids’ education? Is it clear between the two of you who is responsable for what role in their education and are you both sticking to it? If this did not take place you cannot expect to get out of conflicto on this issue. I would urge you to make a clear, new contract as quickly as posible. If you need help please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Why do I feel he is not in love anymore? What is it that has changed for me, in me? 

Am I using blame and pointing at him to show him his undeciseveness? Is it helping him, supporting to stop being this way? Do I know if he needs help to stop?

How does his slow mode of being affect me? Where does it touch me inside? Am I taking responsibility for being too fast? 

Why did you choose a child as a husband? 

So please stay with the questions and feel through them. Probably you will have one insight upon which you can start acting. Congratulate yourself for it and take it one step at the time. The more you read through your list the more insights with come. So deal with the list one insight at the time.

If this has been of value to you and helped you change anything in your relationship please share so we all learn from each other.  

If you want to make your list and turn it around into insights you can write to me at:

Stop Killing Intimacy in Your Relationship - Part 2

Marbella Psychology

In Part 1 of the topic - Stop Killing Intimacy - I said that most of our feelings in a situation like the one I used as an example are mostly projections of our past into our present. That means that in any given situation where we react strongly we are not “in the situation of the present moment” instead we are feeling it and experiencing it through the filters of our own past story of similar situations. We “regress”.

If we look back to the example, to refresh our memories: you went to a party and your partner enganged in a fun way with a person of the opposite sex and ….your mind started to create a noise and a knot in your stomach occurred and you felt jealous or abandoned or not good enough anymore or, blah, blah, blah. These feelings come from the past based on experiences you had back then. This is what projection is all about.

In our example the projection is your feeling of being abandoned (a feeling you experienced in the past) which got triggered by the action: partner having fun talking to person of the opposite sex and engaging with him/her in that present moment. In the present moment he/she did abandon you, did not do anything specific to make you feel unworthy or not enough. These are your interpretations (projections) based on past experiences where you felt like this. The action that truly took place is that your partner talked and engaged with another person in a fun and special way, nothing else, right?. All your emotional conclusions are your interpretations based on your past experiences.

We constantly have misinterpretations in relationships because we constantly interpret (project) onto the present situations feelings based on our past experiences, as regressed children. We don’t deal with situations in the present as adults who respond to facts and actions that take place in the here and now.

We need to understand this mechanism very well because it is the base of ALL our conflict in relationships. Whether it is a relationship with a husband, wife, son, daughter, sister or brother, boss or employee, friend or enemy. All our conflicts originate because we react to what takes place from a regressed state instead of responding to a present situation as an adult. So please pay very strong attention. I will go deeper on this subject on future blogs.

Stay with me.

To the health of your relationships!

For more on the subjects of healthy relationships, visit: Leila Youssef

Stop Killing Intimacy in Your Relationship - Part 1

Marbella Psychology

Communication is the key to create, maintain and enhance intimacy in relationships. It either kills it or saves it. Let’s take an example:

You both go to a party, you see your partner spending time with someone from the opposite sex that makes you feel somehow insecure. Your mind immediately rushes with thoughts, questions, doubts. By the time you go back home you feel ill tempered, distant, confused and maybe filled with anxiety, jealousy, etc. You know what I am talking about, right?

Because you don’t want to appear like the controlling, difficult jealous one you wait for what you think is a convenient moment and say something like: "It sure looked like you were having fun talking to [so and so] at the party."  You try to come casual as if it is not something that truly affected you and your partner senses that this question is not innocent. Before you know you are both entangled in a ping pong verbal match that brings your mate to either shut down, withdrawal, denial or even may turn it around and tell you that you are imagining things.

You wanted to be reassured about your partner’s feelings towards you, right? But, that is not what you got right? Why? What went wrong?

What you did is the typical way of expressing feelings and it doesn’t work.

If you look closer at your words you will easily realize that you pointed at him, accusing him of….something that you have already assumed, instead of expressing your feeling about what took place in the party. When one feels accused, they immediately shut themselves off and start defending themselves.

No one wants to feel accused or criticized as an entry point into a delicate matter that relates to feelings. By making the comment you did you basically wanted to feel more secure in the relationship, but instead you were left feeling the very opposite. What's more, that "thing" that bothered you never seems to get addressed or resolved. Instead, you got more of what you DIDN'T want - more distance, less connection.

You were secretly seeking reassurance, but what you got instead was a fight... and now you feel WORSE.

“How long has it been since he/she looked at me like this”? “Does he/she still enjoy me”? “How long has it been since we had such good time like he/she looked to be having with that person in the party”? etc. These typical kind of questions are the mental noise that prevents you from connecting with your true feeling which is usually experienced in the body not the mind and it is most probably a feeling of insecurity or fear of…?

Marbella Psychology

There is a correct way to express your feelings that, when used consistently, delivers closeness and intimacy. It goes something like this: "When I saw you talking with that person, I felt scared. I was afraid of being abandoned, of not pleasing you anymore, etc."

Is it scary to say this? Yes. This communication is about “your” feelings. It taps into your partner’s ability to empathize and listen. It opens the space for both of you to truly discuss what really matters: feeling scared of not being enough for him/her, or scared of being abandoned, etc…Only this way can communication lead to more intimacy because now we come to the bottom of what truly matters.

Your partner does not become defensive because you are making this about YOU, and not about pointing at their behavior. Can you see the difference?

To sum it all up

  1. Communicate your true feelings instead of pointing at your partner’s behavior.
  2. To connect with your true feeling trace it in your body. Bodies don’t lie. Stay with the sensation in the body instead of addressing all the mental noise that rushes to your mind.
  3. Let the discussion be about the true issue like fear of abandonment, fear of not being enough, etc. instead of loosing yourself in the details that awaken the feelings.
  4. Most of these feelings come from our past and don’t really have anything to do with the present situations we go through in our relationships. We “project” our past into our present.

We will address this in our next blog. For the time being just accept that we did not learn about communication skills when we were young so need to judge yourself for not doing it right. It takes time, patience, diligence, persistence and strong commitment to turn all this around.

It is unrealistic for couples to assume they can change the "stuck-ness" by repeating negative patterns and destructive habits of communication that were learned as children without a new roadmap and the learning curve of new skills.

I am here to help you and assist you to create this new roadmap so you can find the safety, joy and healing that bring lasting passion and intimacy into your relationship. You can reach me anytime at:

Dating for Women over 40 in Marbella and the Costa del Sol

In this interview, Leila Youssef discusses a topic many women can relate to on the Costa del Sol: dating after 40. Click the image above for the interview.

The Power of Non-Judgement

Marbella Psychology

I asked a client after two months of working with her about what brought her to become so confident about herself? I myself wanted to know what exactly was causing this very strong shift in many aspects of her life.

She said that it was because I didn’t judge her she felt safe to start looking at herself without self deception. She learnt to look at herself the same way I looked and related to her. How beautiful - we learn by osmosis!

Looking at herself without self judgement allowed the following process to unfold:

  1. The guilt and the continuous pressure of fighting the possibility of finding out she could be a “bad girl” was reduced to a great extent.
  2. She experienced an inner peace, (unkown to her until she stopped self judgment) that allowed self exploration to start.
  3. With awareness sharpened, she started to see things about herself that required a shift in attitude, in action and in relating to those around her. That made her realize that she has the power to change herself, her relationships and her environment. As opposed to life happening to her.
  4. Experiencing success due to these shifts started to increase her confidence in herself and build a higher self esteem.
  5. She didn’t realize that the quality of courage was developing because she was having less and less fear to explore darker layers, that came as a bonus surprise for her.

The result was reflected in relationships:

  1. A new quality of intimacy with her partner increased because they found new ways of communication on the emotional level that was lacking in the relationship. Needeless tos ay that this shift in communication increased their capacity to enjoy each other and which automatically increases passion.
  2. Her relationship with her mother had new boundaries that are more healthy for her.  
  3. An old hurtful story with a dear friend came to a peaceful closure
  4. A more assertive attitude with her professor is taking place.

This is the power of non judgement. Start now and watch all the mental noise you have about yourself disappear.

Marbella Psychology

About the Author: Leila Youssef

Born in Egypt, Leila has lived in Spain for over 20 years and now offers professional relationship coaching to women and families in Marbella and the Costa del Sol. Her personal experience with both Middle Eastern and Western cultures have enabled her to offer a unique perspective to her clients in order to achieve wellbeing in their daily lives.

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