Posts tagged counseling upland
Why? And other questions after Infidelity
questions after infidelity

There are so many questions that come up after one partner has an affair, and the main question that I hear when working with couples struggling to move forward is, why? This is usually one of the main questions asked by the injured partner, however it is typically something that the participating partner has the most difficulty answering.

There are various ways in which couples deal with affairs, they either 1) ignore the problem and hope to push past it without truly delving into discussing it explicitly 2) spend even more time together, and try to “love it out” in a sense, or 3) they separate in an attempt to stop fighting about it.

Wanting to know why your partner did this to you seems as though it will unlock so much, and help you to move forward. But in my opinion, and in the work that I do with couples I’ve found that there isn’t always one definitive answer that’s really good enough for the injured partner, and it typically takes a great amount of time for the participating partner to truly understand why they decided to look stray. 

This can be extremely frustrating for the injured partner, and difficult to understand, however I suggest more important things to focus on while getting to the “why?”:

1.     What about us? In the initial phase of healing from infidelity it is important to set boundaries for daily living and talk about how you will continue to be in the same household during this emotional time.

2.     Have you considered leaving the relationship? Although it isn’t vital to have a definitive answer at this point, it is helpful to find understanding in your partner’s feeling about staying in the relationship and working through the infidelity.

3.     What level of intimacy feels ok right now? Considering what normal activities feel right at the time and discussing them with your partner are essential in creating healthy boundaries in the initial phase of recovery. Deciding to do things like have coffee together in the mornings, hug, kiss, hold hands, and sleep in the same bed, and being vocal about what feels right will help keep everyone on the same page. I also suggest that you talk about what happens if you begin to feel uncomfortable with anything that you’ve agreed to try.

4.     What are we committed to doing in the short term? Creatinga short term plan to work towards healing and moving past the affair may be all you can commit to, and that’s ok. While there isn’t a definite time frame for this, it should be something both partners agree to and feel comfortable with. Within this commitment should be parameters about how you will work to improve the relationship and might sound something like, “I propose we work intensely on our relationship for the next 3 months and then reassess. That means attending weekly counseling, completing all homework set forth by our therapist, and continuing to stay in the home together, and making our relationship our top priority to see if we can indeed get past this.”

5.     Are you committed to a process of learning about how we each contributed to this affair happening? If so, are you willing to take responsibility? Are you committed to learning more about us individually and as a couple? I know this is a three-part question, but in order to move forward you must have all three components. This should also be something that each partner will commit to doing in small increments of time. While the larger question is always whether or not you should stay together, it is a process that occurs in order to find the answer.

Secrecy plays a huge role in an affair and is what the injured partner typically has the most difficulty dealing with and so if the participating partner is willing to be honest about their feelings and their commitment to move forward, this will help greatly in creating a new normal and in rebuilding trust.

Communicating after infidelity can be incredibly challenging. I see many individuals and couples struggle to find the appropriate way to move forward after their partner has been unfaithful, and so I’ve created a FREE guide titled, “My husband cheated: Communicating with your partner in the wake of Infidelity” and you can get it by signing up here. Whether you are the injured or participating partner, there is great info for both in learning to communicate after infidelity, so I hope you’ll get your copy!

If you could use more support and want to talk about the possibility of couples counseling, please give me a call at (909) 226-6124. I’m happy to chat with you about the benefits of counseling and how you can begin to move forward. 

Recognizing Resentment and Moving Forward
recognizing resentment

Happy New Year! It’s easy to use the New Year as a mark for starting over, making resolutions, and trying to be a better version of yourself. I personally love the feeling of a fresh start and set some great intentions for this coming year, but as I was doing so it got me thinking about how sometimes there are things that we just hold on to that keep us from moving forward.

In relationships we call this resentment. As a therapist, I can tell you, working through resentments with couples sucks. It’s not because I don’t love what I do, but it’s because it’s so tricky sometimes and I see resentments as the cause for so much destruction in relationships.

If you’re struggling to get past an infidelity or big hurdle in your relationship, there is likely some resentment that’s holding you back and keeping you stuck in an uncomfortable position. But how do you know if what you’re experiencing is the result of resentment? Keep reading and I’ll give you some hints in how to identify it, and what to do in order to move forward.

Resentments can be big or small, but an obvious indication is that something has happened between you and your partner, and you replay that event a few times over in your mind. You have some negative feelings about it and you use those negative feelings to justify your actions in some way. Resentments can be tricky though because they aren’t always so obvious, and many people react unconsciously as they hold onto resentments.

Maybe your partner didn’t help you clean up after dinner or prepare for a party in the way you had hoped. You feel negatively about the interaction, and maybe choose not to say anything, but hold onto the negative feelings for a while. After thinking about it more, you come to understand that they were just tired after work, and let it go. In this example, the resentment is short-lived, and not threatening to your relationship because it didn’t have time to fester and create larger problems.

The worst type of resentment is the kind that threatens the security of your relationship. The issue between you and your partner still feels painful after time and is often attributed to a fundamental flaw in them. You can find yourself using words like always and never – “she never takes my feelings into consideration,” or “he’s always so selfish.”

Bigger resentments like these lead to constant bickering, or the opposite- disengagement (which is just as destructive). The bigger resentments represent something important at the core of your relationship or your own core beliefs like trust, communication, or life goals that aren’t being agreed upon and met.

To combat bigger resentments it’s important to talk about them. Being honest with your partner about something you’re holding onto is going to bring them to light and help you create a better understanding for bickering and other negative patterns that may have been taking place. Resentments that go way back and that you feel you can’t resolve on your own are best dealt with in couples counseling, and if you are trying the following steps to no avail, it is best to consult a professional:

1.     Talk about the resentment, and identify what you would have liked your partner’s response to have been instead.

2.     Check in with yourself and see if what you’re holding onto represents something rooted in your history. If being talked down to makes you feel like a child, and is something you’re overly sensitive about due to a parent who talked to you in a similar fashion, acknowledge that and let your partner know how it relates and makes you feel.

3.     Express how you’d like to move forward, asking for what you need, and communicating the importance of this in terms of your relationship. For example: “It’s really important for me to feel like I’m respected in our relationship and that my opinion matters. I want to feel as though we are a team.”

These requests may take some practice and feel strange at first but the more you ask for what you need in your relationship the better it will feel. If these steps just don’t seem to come out right it may be time to request a consultation to see how you can start out 2016 with less baggage and more happiness in your relationship, give me a call at (909) 226-6124 and I’d be happy to help.

No matter where you are in your relationship, I’d like to offer you a free gift to start the year out right. I’m giving away my “Rules for Fair Fighting” to all of my readers. This guide is something I use with 99% of the couples that I work with, it’s just that important, so click to download, post it on your fridge, and get 2016 going in the right direction! Even the happiest of couples fight, it’s pretty much inevitable, but these rules will help you get through fights like a pro couple and allow you to get back to enjoying one another so don’t miss out on this awesome free guide!     

5 Things to stop doing in 2016 To improve your relationship
improve your relationship

Out with the old and in with the new? While most people love to use the New Year to mark the start of new habits, here are 5 things you should give up in order to create a happier, healthier relationship in 2016:

1.     Stop sweating the small stuff. Before you pick a fight with your partner about the laundry, unmade bed, or what to eat for dinner, ask yourself – in the grand scheme of my relationship how much does this really matter? Will you be worried about it 1, 3, or even 6 months from now? If the answer is no, let it go, or at best, check your approach.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t voice your opinion or make requests from your partner about things that are important to you. Most bigger arguments aren’t really about what’s happening on the surface, and so if you are feeling your claws coming out over something benign, it may be time to check in with yourself and consider other resentments you may be holding on to.

When there’s something bigger that needs to be discussed, schedule a separate time to do so when you aren’t feeling overcome by emotion and can have a productive conversation about what’s really bothering you. If there are trust issues or there’s been infidelity in the relationship, then it’s time to tackle those issues head on.

2.     Stop trying to get everything you need out of your one relationship. We live in a culture where our romantic partner is supposed to be our best friend, greatest confidant, our lover, our ally in parenting, and everything in-between. While all of those roles are fantastic, the image of having them all checked off of the list may contribute to lower satisfaction and disappointment.

When you ask your partner to be all things to you, it sends the message that they are the end-all, be-all in your world. They should definitely be at the top of the priority list for you, however you just can’t get everything you need from one person. Having a healthy set of friendships outside your marriage where you can be authentic, share and receive advice, and gain perspective is just as important.

3.     Stop saying maybe when you really mean no. This just sets your partner up for disappointment, and while you may be trying to let them down easily, it’s much more important to be yourself. Showing up genuinely in your relationship is the surest way to have a healthy and intimate relationship.   

4.     Stop going to bed with your phone. Make the bedroom a cell-phone free zone, and limit other screen time before bed. Those moments before bed when you unwind from a long day can best be spent talking, laughing, and sharing your thoughts with your partner, and this can do wonders for improving your relationship.

5.     Stop trying to change your partner. If changes need to be made, you can make requests, but for the most part, people are who they are, and unless they are committed to making changes for themselves, things will likely remain the same.

If there are character traits that bother you it may be time to look at the reasons they are urking you. Chances are those traits were there when you first entered the relationship but you looked past them. Moving forward in a relationship with the intention of breaking someone else’s habit is wasted time and energy and will likely leave you disappointed. Learn to embrace your partner’s flaws and instead look at what changes you can make in terms of your reactions and responses to the things that bug you.

I’m wishing you an amazing 2016, and if you could use some support in dropping some of the habits that are keeping you frustrated in your relationship I’d love to help. You can call me at (909) 226-6124 for a fee phone consultation where we’ll talk about how your relationship can improve in the New Year. 

Making the most of Couples Therapy On your Own
couples therapy

It happens more often than you’d think: things in your relationship aren’t going the way you’d like, arguments are happening more often, but they just aren’t going anywhere, you know your relationship needs help and so you decide couples counseling is what you need. The only problem- your partner doesn’t agree, and doesn’t want to go with you.

I hear this often in my practice. For whatever reason, one person just doesn’t see the benefit of counseling, and the other is adamant that it’s the key to solving the issues in the relationship. One partner makes the call to set up an appointment, and comes to therapy alone in hopes that they can make the shifts they need to create better communication, or to resolve an issue that’s been plaguing their coupledom.

While it might seem like this scenario is a foreshadow of negativity, I’ve seen amazing growth and change happen with only one partner present in therapy. Here are some tips for making the most of it when you’re going alone:

Understand that the only thing you can control is you. This is the premise that makes couples therapy as a single possible. Even when two are in the room, the only thing that you can control is you, your actions, reactions, and the way you operate in your relationship. You can’t change other’s behaviors, thoughts, and emotions, and so once you fully understand and accept that, you can get on the right track to making necessary shifts on your own.  

Take notes. When you journal or jot down ideas about what you’ve learned in your therapy sessions, it helps you to remember what you’re going to do going forward. If your goal is to argue less with your partner, or have more effective arguments as a result of what you’re learning in therapy, write down ways you plan to do this, and practice implementing them.

 

Talk to your partner about what you’re learning in therapy. Your therapy sessions are confidential, and it’s a time for you to process what’s happening for you in your relationship, but that doesn’t mean it has to all be kept hush-hush. Share general ideas that you are learning about yourself, and things you are coming to realize about the relationship with your partner to help them understand what it is you’re actually doing in therapy.

Many times people are fearful of the therapeutic process because they just don’t know what to expect. They have some misconceptions about what therapy might entail, and so if you share with your partner in general what the process is like for you, it might help them shift their opinion about attending.

Don’t be pushy. People have to do things when they’re ready. I think we’ve all had that aha-moment as adults where something your parents told you over and over finally clicked, and you stopped and thought, “Ohhhh, now I get it!” But at the time, when they were trying to get it in your head, you just weren’t ready to receive it, and so you just pushed it aside.

This is the same experience people can have with therapy, and so adding small tidbits about ways it’s helping you can get them to think about ways it might also benefit them, but the moment you go over-board and start demanding that your partner participate is the moment their defense will go right back up.

Lead by example. You’ll likely learn so many great things about how to approach communication, arguments, and interactions with your partner by participating in therapy. Showing your partner what you’ve learned by changing the way you do things might be a little odd to them at first, especially if it’s something completely out of the ordinary, but the more you lead by example, the more change you’ll see in your relationship, or in the way you react to your partner.

Continue to leave the door open. As you continue to make changes in your reactions and interactions with your partner, be sure to let your partner know they are welcome to attend therapy along with you. Begging, pleading, and giving ultimatums (unless you are serious about upholding your end**) won’t likely be as effective as gentle reminders, nudges, and invitations. Approach is key on this one.

**There is a time and place where ultimatums are appropriate, look for more info in an upcoming blog post.

As you continue through therapy it’s important to keep your goals in mind, and to continue talking to your therapist about them. If you haven’t yet started therapy because your partner isn’t willing to go along with you, I’d encourage you to explore it as an option because changes can be made in your relationship even if you are going solo.

Although this time of year tends to be extra busy for most, it’s also an excellent time to begin therapy because the holidays bring up so many challenges and feelings of angst and sadness. If you are anticipating a rough time going through the holidays, I want to encourage you to reach out. I’d be happy to help you get the support you need to get through the holiday season; I can be reached at (909) 226-6124 for a free phone consultation.

I’ve also put together a free 12 Days of Christmas Mindset Boost. You can sign up here for free. If you did the 14-Day Mindset Boost I put out right before Thanksgiving, kudos! I’d love to hear from you about how it helped, or any challenges you may have experienced while going through the exercises. The 12 Days of Christmas Mindset Boost will provide you with 12 emails that include an in-depth exercise for the day that will help you approach the holidays with gratitude and cheer in your heart, in spite of some of the common challenges that make the holidays a bit difficult. 

Same-Sex Friendships: Why they’re important, and how to make them
friendship after divorce

Remember when you were a kid and you and your BFF rode bikes together, went back and forth from each other’s houses, stayed up way too late laughing at nothing and everything all at the same time?

Moving into adulthood means you won’t likely be spending the night over at your same-sex bestie’s house every other weekend, but it doesn’t have to mean that the benefits of a close relationship like that have to change.

If you aren’t still in touch with your childhood best friend, you aren’t alone. Life gets busy. Work, family, and other obligations often get in the way, and high school and childhood friends often drift away.

It can sometimes be difficult to replace those relationships, but having a same-sex friend that you are able to share things with is so beneficial. When your friend is the same gender, you not only have the same anatomy, but you have the ability to share things that you may not with a romantic partner, or friend of the opposite sex.

There is typically no question of attraction between same-sex friends, (unless of course, one party is not forth-coming with their sexual preference) and so that diminishes some pressure in establishing a deep relationship that can be potentially threatening to a romantic partner.  

In case you haven’t heard, laughter is one of life’s best medicines and truly does have so many scientifically proven health benefits. In addition to sharing a laugh with a close friend, friendships are where we can go to gain strength, encouragement, and understanding.

No matter what you’re going through in life, it’s always better when it’s shared with a friend. Celebrating the highs, and getting encouragement through the lows is so important. But why can they sometimes feel so hard to make, or maintain once you reach adulthood?

The playing field tends to shrink once high school friends drift away for school, employment, and other opportunities. After college, the opportunity to join sororities and clubs is no longer right in front of you and so it can be challenging to find same sex friends who share common interests. 

Depending on the size of the company you work for, and your ability to interact, it can be challenging to cultivate those necessary relationships in the workplace.  Age ranges can differ greatly in the workplace among coworkers, and some places create a culture of competition, which doesn’t always elicit camaraderie.  

Friendships are unique in that they are something we seek out, and are responsible for maintaining. If you’ve found yourself in a place where you can use a few more same sex friendships, then it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and find ways to connect.

Places like meetup.com, and other community-based listing sites can be excellent avenues to find groups of people with common interests. There are literally thousands of groups out there that are gender specific with members truly looking to connect with people that share their interests. There are mommy groups, singles groups, divorcé groups, and couples groups, so regardless of your relationship status there is a group for you.

Community involvement and volunteerism can also open doors to meet others who value altruism and similar causes. Joining an adult sports league, running, hiking, or biking group incorporates fitness and connection. It takes some effort and strength to put yourself out there, but the connections you can make are worth it. 

We also live in an age where our friendships can be virtual. Looking for Facebook or other social media groups where others share similar interests can be an excellent way to “meet,” and once you find people who you’d like to share a more personal connection with, connecting via Skype or facetime can connect you with someone across the country or globe that you really hit it off with. It may not seem the same as sitting across from a friend at a coffee shop, but I’ve shared many cups of coffee with awesome people via a Google Hangout, and felt even more connected (don’t knock it till you try it!).

The avenues for connection are great, and the Internet makes searching so simple, so don’t let your location or place in life be an excuse not to cultivate great friendships. Friendships help us become better versions of ourselves; they make us more successful, and generate happiness.

If lack of connection in your life has you feeling ho-hum, and you just aren’t looking forward to the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, I want to help. I’ve created an awesome tool call the 14-day Mindset Boost to help you shift your mindset in preparation for the holidays. You can get it here, for free. You’ll get a nifty little calendar with a small exercise each day to help you shift into a more positive mindset, and prepare you to truly enjoy and connect with those around you. I hope you’ll take advantage of it!