Posts tagged marriage counseling
When Good People Cheat: The Unmet Needs Affair
 
 

“I never meant for this to happen,” is what I typically hear when I sit down with someone who has been unfaithful to their partner.

I genuinely believe them when they tell me this because doing this work, I’ve heard from plenty of partners who have strayed in some fashion, and this is a common thread. They are good people, and they’ve made a mistake, and it’s not my job to judge, but to help them understand what lead to their behaviors so that they can prevent it from happening again.

There are many types of affairs. The most common one that I see is what Mira Kirchenbaum calls, the “unmet needs” affair. In her book, When Good People have Affairs, she outlines many types of affairs and I often recommend her book to clients who have or are having an affair because it can really help them understand their behaviors better, in conjunction with the work we do in session.

The unmet needs affair happens when you feel as though there is something missing in your relationship with your partner.

It could be sex, intimacy, or intelligent conversation. But focusing on one aspect of the relationship that is missing is a trap, and many times people only come to realize what they’ve been missing after they’ve already crossed the line.

When you look outside of your relationship for that one unmet need, you are essentially negating all of the many other positive aspects that likely exist in your relationship.

A whole, healthy, relationship only includes sex or conversation as a very small piece that makes up the relationship, however the trap occurs when you begin to see this piece as a gaping hole – it has the potential to become everything, and with the help of an affair partner, you begin to negate the many other positive aspects that you once based your relationship on.

Getting involved with someone else in order to fulfill this unmet need is typically clouded by the electrifying rush that happens in new relationships. It’s quite normal for people to see their affair partner as the most amazing person they’ve ever met, however an affair relationship is only a façade – it exists in a vacuum, and lacks much of the other important aspects that secure, long-term relationships need to survive.

Using another person to fulfill that one aspect that was missing from your marriage is fundamentally flawed because without fully knowing your affair partner, you are unable to see all of their true characteristics, as this relationship will also have missing aspects to it.

If you think back to the beginning of your marriage, I’m sure there were fireworks. Things in the beginning of relationships tend to be intense and full of passion.

I once read that falling in love has the same impact as a drug on the brain. It’s easy to become addicted to that feeling, and those intense emotions cloud your judgment.

The beginning of a relationship is when you go out of your way for that other person – you stay up all night talking even if you’ve got to be at work at 7am, you write silly love poems, and drive an hour both ways just to spend an hour in the arms of your love.

If you’re stuck in the difficult spot of having already crossed the line and engaged in an affair to fulfill a need that was lacking in your marriage, you’re not alone. I know that there is a great deal of shame and pain that comes from making that decision, but there is also support for you to right your wrongs.

Although the road is long and difficult, I’ve seen some wonderful things come from those who are willing to look at themselves, their decisions, and learn from their mistakes.

Relationships can be repaired, and that shame can go away, but the first step is asking for help. If you could use some support and want to begin the process of understanding your behavior, give me a call at (909) 226-6124, and we can talk about ways therapy can help. 

Choosing to show up in Marriage
 
Showing up in marriage
 

Marriage is hard.

Sometimes it’s REALLY hard. Sometimes I describe how hard it is with a 4-letter word with an ing at the end of it, just to describe how incredibly hard it is, to my clients.

Many times they look at me dumbfounded, and maybe it’s because I’ve just used the F word, but I don’t know any other way to describe just how challenging it is to show up and be all that you can in your relationship day after day, year after year.

What else do we choose to have in our lives, for the rest of our lives?

We don’t get to choose our family, for better or worse, we are just born into them. We choose all sorts of other long-term things to be committed to, like a job, a mortgage, a car loan, and possibly education. But none of those things come with contracts that bind us to them until death.

You can always change your career if what you’re doing no longer satisfies you. You can sell your house, or your car, if those things become lack-luster. Going to school and furthering your education may seem like something that’s life-long, but if you become disinterested you can always change your major, or quit.

Sallie Mae will still want her money, and that repayment might seem like a life sentence, but it’s not the same thing as entering into marriage.

Marriage is something we choose.

We choose to say our vows, and we make a lot of other choices about so many things that don’t matter, leading up to standing in front of all of our families and friends to profess our choice to be with this other person. Until death.

After the centerpieces have wilted, and the honeymoon is over, you start to settle in to your new normal with this other person that you’ve chosen. In the beginning it doesn’t seem like such a difficult choice for most, but as time passes, the novelty, and the newness of your choice wears off and life sets in. You might start a family, or be focused on your careers, or both.

When couples add babies into the mix, and time passes, then the choice seems to become much more apparent. Sometimes you have to choose between sex and sleep, conversation or isolation. Sometimes after a hard day of parenting and adulting, you just want to be left alone. You don’t want to have to talk or explain, because sometimes it’s just too exhausting. That’s when the choice rears it’s ugly head.

When you do choose sleep over sex, silence over connection, or to work just a little longer even though you know your partner is going to be asleep by the time you get in bed, it’s not always apparent that you’re not choosing your marriage.

I’m not saying that it’s always one or the other, and even though you might choose to work late (like I am right now), you may be showing up in your relationship at another time of the day, and making the conscious choice to put your relationship high on your list of priorities.

So maybe you’re in a rut, and life has just been happening, and date night has been on the back burner. The kids need you, work needs you, and those dishes in the sink aren’t going to wash themselves, and sometimes you might not even like the person you’re married to because, hello, do they not also see those dishes??

But you always have a choice.

You can both agree to ignore the dishes if it means you spend 15 minutes on the porch connecting, and talking, and maybe enjoying a glass of wine together. You can choose to get in bed 30 minutes earlier than usual, and forego reading or scrolling through your facebook in order to talk and possibly have sex.

Those choices aren’t easy. Neither is marriage. But it is a lot easier when you are both in it together, and find creative ways to show up in your relationship and make even the smallest of connections.

Turning towards one another is what keeps couples together, and keeps them saying, “I still do.” 

If you need help sparking your connection and making the choice to show up in your marriage, I'd love to help! Picking up the phone is the first choice you can make to show up in your relationship. You can reach me at (909) 226-6124, I'd love to hear from you! 

Let’s Talk About Sex! How Much Should We Be Having?
 
 

Is your sex life with your partner like a firework show on the 4th? Or more like a tiny sparkler in the corner of that show? 

Either way, it’s important to know that long-term relationships ebb and flow. Things outside the bedroom change, and can cause some major shifts and changes between the sheets. 

But how much sex should you be having in order to keep that spark going??

Well, I have a short answer, and a long answer, because that seems to be the way my brain likes to roll, and because the short answer inevitably leads to the long answer. 

The short answer is: whatever you and your partner are both comfy with. But this is where communication, trust, and understanding come in (along with my long answer): 

In the beginning of a relationship it’s normal for the sex to be hot, heavy, and happening all the time. But as the relationship progresses, it’s likely that the frequency decreases, and that’s totally normal. The frequency isn’t as important as the quality of the sex. 

If you and your partner are both getting your needs met in the bedroom, and each of you feels like you can be sexually expressive, one time a week of amazing sex can be just as satisfying and connecting as 5 nights of stale or bad sex. 

If you’re in the middle of a sex-slump, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Am I able to talk freely and openly about sex with my partner?  
  • Am I able to express myself sexually with my partner? 
  • Am I able to talk about fantasy, foreplay, and the things I like and dislike when it comes to sex? 
  • Do I feel sexy when I am in bed with my partner – does he/she make me feel wanted? 

If you answered no to any of those questions, the next question is, why? 

If you don’t feel like you’re able to talk openly about sex with your partner, what do you think is stopping you? Are you uncomfortable with it in general, or do you get the feeling that your partner gets a little squirmy when it comes to talking openly? 

If you aren’t able to express yourself sexually, where do you think that comes from? 

If you don’t feel like you can openly discuss foreplay and fantasy, who puts the brakes on the conversation? 

These questions are totally loaded, and feelings of inhibition can come from a couple of different places, but the first place to look is within you. 

We gain so much of who we are sexually from our families of origin, and I’m sure thinking about your family when thinking about sex is that last thing you want to do, but it can hold a lot of answers. 

Messages about sexuality are imprinted and engrained upon us throughout our development, and those messages can sometimes get in the way of healthy sexual relationships in adulthood. 

Was sex dirty and something that should never be spoken of in your home while you were growing up? If so, then it would make sense that you feel uncomfortable when talking to your partner about it. But the key to hot sex is communication. 

When you’re able to understand where the messages you tell yourself about sex come from, you gain the power to change those messages. 

Conversely, if you feel fully comfortable when discussing all-things sex, but are shut down by your partner, then it may be important for them to understand the meaning behind this. 

Sex is about feeling wanted and desired. Which is why sending a racy text message and getting caught up in the fantasy of making love to your partner can be just as titillating as hours of actual love making - because of the desire it creates.  

If your relationship could use a little boost in the sex department, and you feel like having those conversations is super difficult, I’d love to chat with you and see if couples counseling might be a solution. Give me a call, or shoot me an email: (909)226-6124 or Alicia.taverner@gmail.com

A Closer Look at Infidelity
 
 

Take a moment to think about how your life has been impacted by an affair. It might not have been you that cheated, or your partner that cheated, but I’m willing to bet that someone you know has either cheated or been cheated on. 

You might have seen a friend or family member’s relationship be torn apart after an affair. Or maybe you haven’t. Statistically, more people are staying together these days after an affair has happened, so chances are, you do know someone who has had this touch their lives, but they haven’t talked about it because they were busy getting help and working through it with their partner. 

But why do people cheat? What gets in the way or comes up for a person that causes them to stray and look outside of their relationship? 

I was so honored to have a conversation about all of these things with Dr. Lourdes Viado on her podcast, Women in Depth, and I wanted to share that discussion with you here: 

 
 

On the podcast we talked about how to define an affair, what the emotional impact is after an affair, and how men and women differ in their reactions to cheating, and so much more. 

I really hope you’ll check it out, and share it with your friends. You never know who is going through a tough time, and could benefit from hearing a conversation like this. 

Just in case, here is a direct links to hear the podcast: 


http://lourdesviado.com/02-closer-look-infidelity-alicia-taverner/

Enjoy! 

2-Minute Relationship Tune-Up: How do I get my partner to listen?

I seriously can't believe that it's been almost a month since my last blog! I know you felt like there was something seriously missing from your life and your inbox these last few weeks ;) But I'm back from vacation, and although I'm still soaking up the SoCal summer, I should be back to our regularly scheduled programming although today's post is in the form of a video. 

Do you have 2 minutes? Do you want to improve your relationship? Then I have just the perfect thing for you! Although it's only two minutes, it is something that will likely take a lot longer than 2 minutes to get in the practice of doing. 

Hang in there, and practice, practice, practice! If there is any way that I can support you in learning this and other skills, please reach out, I'm loving the responses I've received on this video, so check it out, and leave a comment below to let me know what you thought.

Here's the direct link for the video, don't forget to comment and share: https://youtu.be/_H8Tt39dtUQ