Posts tagged couples
To ask, or not to ask?
 
Infidelity
 

“Every time she asks me who I was talking to it puts me on the defense.”

“I can’t do anything without being questioned!”

“He has the password to everything, I am an open book.”

These are some of the things I hear in sessions with couples who are trying to rebuild trust in their relationships. They come to me after they’ve discovered their partner has been unfaithful, and they are devastated and wanted to know what the next steps are.

After I help them through their initial crisis phase, we talk about rebuilding trust, and what that’s going to look like going forward. I’ve heard many creative solutions to this from wary spouses who have been cheated on, and sometimes they are exhausted with the constant checking they are doing.

Checking the emails, checking the texts, checking the location of their phone and making sure it matches up to their story. How long should it take to get home from the grocery store? Is that story about having to stay later at work even true?

This can become the reality in the aftermath of an affair, and quite frankly I too become exhausted just listening to all the extra lengths people go to in order make sure their spouses are being truthful.

But the honest truth is, if your partner wants to cheat, they will cheat.

You can’t affair-proof your relationship.

I know that can be incredibly difficult to hear for some.

But it can also be relieving when you really break it down. The truth is, no amount of checking is going to keep them faithful, so you can stop driving yourself crazy doing so.

In the initial stages after an affair has occurred it is important to negotiate boundaries. No contact with the affair partner, checking in frequently, and giving up passwords for devices if that’s what makes you feel better at the time.

However, trust is truly built on the interactions you have with one another after you decide to stay together. Trust is built on faith, and faith must sometimes be blind.

I often tell partners who have strayed, if you place even a tenth of the energy you put into your affair into your marriage, imagine the happiness you can have in this relationship. There’s a good amount of reconfiguring, time stolen, and effort put into meeting an affair partner. Imagine if you did that with your partner?

It’s easy to get defensive as the questions are asked over and over, but if you’ve strayed then you need to understand it’s not necessarily about your partner wanting to get a different answer from you. It’s really about them having gone through trauma and wanting to regain some sense of normalcy.

The person they trusted most and likely didn’t think was capable of cheating broke their trust, and so they are trying to regain their bearings and in some ways, their sense of control.

If you are the partner asking the questions, I suggest you ask yourself this: Do you want to know the answer to that question, or do you want your partner to know that you have this question?

Those two things are very different. It may seem like you want the answers to all your questions, but if you take a step back and really think about it, are the answers really helpful to you? Once you receive the information you can’t go back, and you can’t “un-see” the images that will float through your mind.

I’ll ask you again – do you want to know the answer to your question? Or do you just want your partner to know that you have this question?

You may want your partner to know that you have questions about how they were able to sneak away and make time for their affair. This question is different then, “when did it happen?” or “did you do it in the car? In the office? In our home?”

Similarly you may want to have access – phone, computer, and email passwords. Having access doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be checking daily. It’s really about your partner’s willingness to give you the passwords and access that means all the difference.

If you’re having difficulty navigating your way through reestablishing trust with your partner in the aftermath of an affair, I’d love to help. You can click here and schedule a phone consultation that’s totally free and we can talk about how therapy might help one or both of you through the recovery process. 

How to date your Spouse
8 ways to have a great experience in Couples Counseling
 
 

So you’ve decided to work on your relationship, and get some assistance from a therapist, kudos! Or maybe you’re still on the fence, questioning whether it’s the right time, and wondering what the process is like, check out my previous post to determine if now is the time.  

While couples therapists can't necessarily gurantee the exact outcome of your relationship, here are 8 things you can do to understand the process and have a great expereince regardless of what happens between you and your partner: 

1.     Find a therapist who specializes in working with couples.

Think of it as you would with your regular health care. If you were to walk up to a clinic to see a doctor, and on the door a sign read, “Specializing in all ailments, from A-Z,” I’m not sure about you, but that wouldn’t elicit very much confidence in me that I had someone who truly specialized in what I was looking for.

There are many generalist therapists, and many of them are wonderful, however if I’m looking for help with my eyesight I’m going to go see an optometrist because that’s their specialization. The best way to find out a therapist’s specialization is to ask them over the phone before setting your appointment. If you’ve already set an appointment you can use the first session to ask any questions you might have about their specialization, and the way they work with couples.

2.     Ask about the process.

Walking in to a first session can feel overwhelming, and you might not know what to expect. Most therapists use the first session as a opportunity to get to know you, and some will do what’s call an intake, where they ask many background questions that may not seem specific to your presenting issue, but are still important.

Others may include an intake questionnaire in their initial paperwork and have you complete it prior to coming to your first session. Either way, asking about what to expect for your first session over the phone or by email before walking in the door will help to alleviate some of the anxiety that can come up when you start couples counseling.

3.     Use the first few sessions to learn more about the therapist’s process and gauge for good chemistry.

One of the most important parts of therapy is the relationship you will have with your therapist and it is often one of the best predictors of successful treatment. If you’re not totally comfortable, be sure to let the therapist know what it is that’s causing you discomfort. This will give the therapist an opportunity to address your feelings, and change course if necessary. 

4.     Take notes.

A lot can be discussed in a single session and because you can get caught up in the emotions that you’re bringing in to session, it’s important to write down any recommendations your therapist may be making including homework that they may request you do throughout the week.

5.     Follow through with any homework that’s being given.

This may seem pretty obvious, but many clients forget and show up to their next session without working on things at home. Life can get in the way but if your relationship is important, then the things that your therapists is asking you and your partner to work on throughout the week will only help you reach your goals quicker. Some things may feel uncomfortable and are in fact designed to get you out of your comfort zone and to try things you may not have in the past. Trust in the process and do your best to complete tasks assigned in therapy.

6.     Know that sometimes things can get worse before they get better.

You will likely be touching on things in session that are uncomfortable. They may be things you and your partner may have been avoiding due to the difficult emotions those topics bring up. It’s normal to find yourself feeling a little down in the beginning of therapy, so be sure to take notice of what you’re feeling between sessions in order to discuss them with your couples therapist and ask for recommendations about dealing with those emotions between sessions.

7.     Continue to provide your therapist with feedback.

While many couples therapists make it avhabit to periodically check in with their clients about their level of satisfaction, some may not, but remember that you are the consumer and have the right to bring up any concerns or questions about the course of your treatment. If there’s something they haven’t addressed that you’d like to discuss let them know. A good couples therapist will be happy to accommodate or address any issues you may have.

8.     Check in with your partner regularly regarding your progress in therapy.

It’s easy to get caught up in doing the work and engaging in the process of couples therapy, but in couples therapy there are two customers. Be sure to check in with your partner about how they feel things are going throughout the process. You may feel like you and the therapist are really hitting it off, but if your partner isn’t feeling the same, it should be addressed with the therapist. Again, the relationship between the therapist and clients tend to determine the outcome of therapy.

It’s also important to remember that while therapists are professionals and have many years of training that have helped prepare them for working with you and your partner, they are also human. Most therapists I know are life-long learners who are happy to make any adjustments needed to be sure you feel like you are getting the best services possible, but they don’t know what isn’t shared with them. Having an open relationship with your couples therapist is a beautiful thing, so don’t hesitate to ask questions and provide feedback!

If you’re looking for a couples therapist in the Rancho Cucamonga area, I’m happy to help. Feel free to reach out by phone or email and we can talk about ways couples counseling might benefit you. 

The Perfect Gift for your Partner this Season
 
couples counseling
 

Tis the season for giving.

You can spend endless hours shopping for the perfect gift for your partner. Scouring the Internet for that gift that will knock their socks off, but the greatest gift you can give is the one of true giving.

We all like to say that giving is better than receiving, but sometimes this very principal is one that often gets taken for granted in long-term relationships.

Give the gift of true giving this season.

What is true giving?

It is giving without the expectation of anything in return. It’s giving for the pure aim of making the other person happy, and fulfilling their desires.

This seems to be easier for couples to do in the early stages of their relationship. Dating is passionate and emotions can be so overwhelming that it’s difficult not to truly give. Love letters, mixed tapes (or iTunes playlists for the current generation), late-night text messages – it’s easy to profess your love in the beginning without the expectation of much in return.

In the early stages, you just want to make your partner smile and let them know that you love them. It doesn’t matter if that means you wake up at 5am to make them breakfast and pack them a lunch for the day (I totally used to do that for my husband when we first got married).

As time passes you begin to settle into routine, and many people have children and their resources become limited. Time, energy, and sleep are depleted, especially when you’re raising babies and young children. The thought of staying up to finish a movie after 10pm starts to feel insane, so getting in bed and making love on a work night can feel equally draining.

So what does this have to do with giving? And what the heck are you supposed to give your spouse this holiday season?

It has everything to do with giving. True giving.

True giving means that you give even though it may cost you resources. Not necessarily monetary resources, but other resources that may be spread thin during this time in your life – time, energy, sleep, etc.

The perfect gift is the one that your partner truly wants to receive.

You might think you know what they want, but it may also just be what you want to give – it may be coming from your perception of what love is.

This brings me to one of the principals that I generally share and teach the couples I work with in my practice – The 5 Love Languages. If you’ve never heard of this concept, be sure to click here to take the quiz online, and find out what yours and your partner’s love language is, it will truly change your relationship if you apply it.

In case you’ve never heard of the 5 Love Languages, I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version: We all have specific ways that we show love, and ways that we perceive that we are being loved.

Gary Chapman breaks this concept down into 5 different languages, which are: gift giving, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and words of affirmation.

Which one best describes what’s most important for you to receive? Which one truly makes you feel loved? Is it receiving a small thoughtful gift? Spending an evening at home, talking and having quality time with your partner? Or is it hearing how much they love you, and having them express gratitude regularly for what you do around the house? Do you feel most loved when your partner sends you out the door with a lunch in hand, or folds your laundry?

And which one best describes your partner?

The complication that many couples get into is that they don’t always have the same love language. So, if yours is quality time, and your partner’s is physical touch, you may be continually trying to talk at him or her, when they just want to be cuddled.

I often use the analogy that your partner tells you, “I’m thirsty,” and so you go to the kitchen and bring them a glass of orange juice.

To your dismay, your partner doesn’t want orange juice, and they respond with, “I just want water please.”

But you’re so taken aback, and think, “who doesn’t want OJ?? It’s so tasty, and tangy, and has some essential nutrients in it.” You continue to try to get your partner to see your point of view, but alas, they just want water, and you feel like they’re completely missing out on your favorite drink.

Here you have two choices – you can either keep trying to get them to love OJ as their go-to thirst quencher, or you can just give in, and give them the water they so desperately want.

This seems like a no-brainer, right? I mean just bring a glass of water instead of the OJ and your partner will be happy.

So why, when we are talking about love languages, is it so difficult to speak you partner’s love language? I think it’s because we sometimes forget about the true gift of giving.

If all your partner really needs in the relationship is to feel your physical touch, why keep trying to talk? When you begin to feel disconnected, reach out, speak their language, and get physical.

Your love language may be quality time, and so having in-depth conversation may totally be your jam, but when you start to give without the expectation of receiving, and stop waiting for your partner to fulfill your needs before you take that step, you’ll see a change in him or her.

When you speak your partner’s language, they’ll be more likely to speak yours in return, and your relationship will improve.

Give your partner the gift they really need this season. The gift of love - in a way they can truly interpret.

If you’re stuck on this whole love language concept, please reach out to me! I love working with couples and helping them have the relationships they truly desire, you can reach me at (909) 226-6124, or learn more at www.ranchocounseling.com.  

How to love your Cheating Partner
 
 

 

Your partner has shattered your world.

The relationship that you once had is no longer, and maybe you’re still on the fence about staying in the relationship, but you certainly don’t know how to love them at the moment, and should you?

I have so many injured partners who sit on my couch and tell me similar stories. Stories of hating and loving their cheating partner all at the same time.

They often say things like, “I feel sick to my stomach when I think about the fact that I still want to be with this person, shouldn’t I hate them for what they’ve done to me?”

Dealing with infidelity is like getting on a roller coaster that you didn’t know you got strapped into. The emotions are high, and they are also really low, and they are incredibly confusing.

The only way to love your partner through something like this is to try understand them. But you also need to understand yourself.  

The greatest misconception that people have about cheaters is if they do it once, they will always do it – “once a cheater, always a cheater, right? Wrong.

Affairs happen more than people think. It’s really easy to say, “If my partner ever did that, I’d leave in a heartbeat!” But when push comes to shove, there’s often way too much at stake. There’s a long history and relationship that’s been cultivated for years, and ending it abruptly is often so difficult to fathom.

More people are staying together after infidelity than the public thinks – they just aren’t talking about it.

I advise my clients who are struggling in this area not to share it with family and friends. When they are working to repair their relationship either by themselves or along with their partner, they are taking the time to heal and to learn new ways of approaching the relationship so that it doesn’t happen again.

When the affair is disclosed to close friends and family that surround them, they are rightfully upset and angered that their sister/brother/friend/daughter/son was treated in such a way. But when the couple comes out on the other end of it with a new perspective, a new relationship, and have healed, their friends and family haven’t done the work that they have, and can be stuck in their anger towards the cheating spouse and often find it difficult to forgive.

Another common misconception about cheating partners is that they are solely responsible for what’s transpired in the relationship. People cheat for many different reasons, but both partners have some responsibility in what was happening in the relationship prior to the infidelity.

It can be incredibly difficult for an injured partner to hear that they somehow played a role in the infidelity. I’m not saying that the infidelity was their fault, and it’s important not to misconstrue or take this out of context, but there are often challenges that are occurring in the relationship prior to a partner stepping outside of it.

It could be as simple as not communicating in a way that one’s partner can hear. Is that totally your fault? No, absolutely not. But that’s when the work in couples counseling becomes about learning how to communicate in a way that will allow your partner to be receptive.

Most people who cheat want their partners to know that they didn’t go into the relationship with the intent to do so.

Sometimes there is a breakdown that happens during the course of the relationship, and the cheating partner feels lost and unable to find their way back. People who cheat don’t always understand why they did it, and it can take months for them to get to a place where they have learned enough about themselves to identify where they got off track, and what lead them to make the horrible decision to cheat.

If your partner has cheated there are a couple of things that you can start doing today to improve your relationship:

1.     Get support. Seek out counseling for yourself with someone who specializes in infidelity issues. You need a sounding board and a safe place to vent your anger and frustration. While it might seem like a good idea to use your partner as that sounding board, it’s really not the greatest way to go about it – you may say things you’ll regret later.

2.     Start journaling. While you’re looking for a therapist get a journal and start writing down your thoughts. This will help you understand your emotions and organize your thoughts in such a way that you can be a better communicator with your partner when you do have those difficult conversations.

3.     Decide what is important to know about the affair and what isn’t. Things like: how does this impact our relationship? Do you understand why you made the decision to go outside of our marriage to find something? Where do you want our relationship to go in the future?

All of those questions are very different than things like: where did you do it? Was she better than me? What types of things did you talk about? These questions fall into the category of what I call, emotional cutting, things that you want to know out of curiosity, even though you know that hearing them is just going to cause you pain.

4.     Start thinking about the boundaries and things that need to happen in order for you to want to move forward and repair your relationship. For most, the first thing is that the affair needs to stop, as does any and all types of communication with the affair partner.

But would you feel more comfortable if you had all email and cell phone passwords for the first few months as you work on the relationship together? Do you need your partner to move to a different department at work so they are no longer in close proximity to the other person? This is where your support and journaling will help to keep you on track, and making sure that you’re asking for things to better your relationship and not just to spite your partner.

It’s difficult to know the exact statistics surrounding infidelity, but it’s estimated that 35% of couples decide to stay together after infidelity, and according to the American Association of Marriage and Family therapists, about 15% of women, and 25% of men say they’ve had sex outside of their marriage. When you factor in things like cyber relationships, and emotional affairs, those numbers increase by 20% according to AAMFT.

The number of couples staying together after infidelity may be even higher, as I stated earlier, many people experiences it but don’t talk about it. It’s a difficult thing to bring up, especially when you’re not sure what the fate of the relationship will be. But the future can be promising if both partners are able to own their faults and learn to create a new relationship that is more fulfilling.

In seeing those statistics, my hope is that you take away the fact that you are not alone.

If your partner has been unfaithful, know that you are not crazy to want to stay, or to want to go, or to have no idea what it is you want, and you’re not crazy for still loving them.

What you’ve experienced is a psychological trauma, and you must treat it as such. Take care of yourself first, and you can make the big decisions later after you’ve started to regain your strength and have gotten the support that you need. 

If you could use some more support in understanding your relationship and what you really want after experiencing infidelity, please reach out and we can talk about ways therapy can help (909) 226-6124