Posts in Relationships
Why Mamas Need a Tribe
 
 

Have you ever had one of those days? I’m talking one of THOSE days. The kind where no matter what you do, and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t pull yourself up and dust yourself off. The kind where even though you truly try to just hit pause, and take a breath, and reset, but the reset just seems like a freakin repeat of what you were trying to reset from.

I have.

I actually just had one of those days yesterday. 

My terrible, horrible, very bad day started like most other days. I got up, and got my coffee fix in, and had some time at my desk to myself.

I got a little work done before my beautiful little angel of a 2-year old woke at his usual time (Which is 8am, in case you were wondering. I know you’re thinking I should just shut up, because really, how bad can life be when your toddler sleeps in past 6am, right? But I digress, and I never said this day wasn’t full of first world problems).

Somewhere in between his first diaper change and breakfast, this beautiful, sweet, tiny little angel morphed into a fire-breathing monster. I didn’t exactly see the change happen. Maybe I missed his head spinning around while I prepared his breakfast, but something definitely happened, and he was unrecognizable!

The day proceeded to be filled with frustration after frustration. I’m sure the rest of the mamas out there can attest to having such a day.

The word “no” equaled the end of the world, as we knew it to exist, and my responses to the tantrums sounded something like, “I’m really sorry that you can’t keep sucking the ink out of the Crayola marker! Even though it says non-toxic on the box, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean it’s ok to try and drink it!!” 

I’m not even sure how many time-outs we went through on that terrible, horrible, very bad day. I stopped counting and started counting down the minutes until I got to leave for work. But just as I was about to walk out the door my husband and I had a spat (I know I’m a couple’s therapist, and you may have assumed that I have the perfect relationship, but I am human, and I too fight with my husband, you can ask me about it in session anytime ;)).

Dealing with my toddler had me weak and broken down, and that spat was enough to send me into a spiral. Not only was the little one against me, but so was my partner, and wouldn’t you know it, that was the precise moment my teen decided to text me and let me know just how unfair I was being for not letting her take the car and leave her dad stranded at home for the entire evening while she hung out with her friends after school.

The score was now 3 against 1. One angry tot, one stubborn man, and the wrath of a teenage girl were all in my opposing corner.  

I can literally feel the tension rising in my shoulders as I recall the details of the day. When I returned home, my house looked like a war zone. I know I’d been begging for the ice maker to be fixed, but damn, why did it have to be today and do we really need to move ALL the appliances??

I locked myself in the bathroom several times. Took deep breaths, and desperately tried to start over with a fresh and positive attitude. None of it worked. It was like the movie Groundhog Day. I really hate that movie!

I finally used my last lifeline. I reached out and phoned a friend. Ok, I didn’t really, but I did text my bestie. If anyone was going to understand what a frazzled mess I was, it was her.

I’d love to end this post by saying that she text me back, and we had a laugh, and all was right with the world. She did text me back. 1 hour later. She has 3 kids of her own, and between diaper changes and kindergarten drop-offs, things get hectic.

We did have a laugh the very next day, and the only thing that I could do was sleep off my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. I went to sleep knowing that the next day would be better because I have a tribe that loves and supports me. I knew that the next day would bring clarity, and laughter, and connection with at least one friend who truly gets me.

But sometimes there isn’t a bestie to laugh it off with. Sometimes you just lay down and the tears stream onto your pillow, and you feel so alone in this life as a mama. You just wonder if you’re really doing it right, and if anyone else out there is trying to figure it out just like you.

But I’m here to tell you that you are not alone, and motherhood is really freaking hard sometimes, and that’s why I created the Mindful Mums group. I wasn’t born knowing how to be a mama. Things don’t always come naturally to us, and I’ve had to learn how to be mindful and gain the strength and tools that I need to sleep it off, and reach out to my tribe.

Maybe you have a tribe, and your BFF is on speed dial like mine, but maybe you both could use a push in the right direction, or an excuse to get together once a week without the kiddos and focus on yourselves. If so, I want to invite you to see what it’s all about, here

Whether you join our tribe of Mindful Mums, or another mom's group, I truly want to encourage you to find support for those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days, and everything else in-between. You might not find it on your first try, but keep trying, and keep reaching out, because you will find the one that feels comfy and accepting. Having a tribe is not just a want, it's a need.  

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

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

Is this normal? Losing yourself after Infidelity

The blow of receiving the news that your partner has been unfaithful is mind blowing.

It rocks your world and shatters what you thought you had into a million pieces. You may have trouble sleeping, eating, talking without crying, and you might feel as though you’re obsessed with thinking about your partner and their lover.

It might feel like you’re going crazy, trust me, you’re not.

What you’ve experienced is a trauma. A psychological trauma.

Don’t give me any flack for this comparison, but when soldiers or first responders see things that involve carnage or devastation, there is a physical and emotional response in the body.

Having the person that you love do something that goes against all things that you thought were supposed to happen creates that same physical and emotional response.

I know it seems like a harsh comparison, but the way our minds and bodies respond to trauma is the same.

There are so many things that you may feel you have lost through this trauma, and I want to assure you that they are normal.

The most common is the feeling that you don’t know who you are anymore.

This may seem strange because after all it wasn’t you that strayed. But you might find yourself reacting to your partner in heinous ways, snarling and spitting insults and anger as you struggle to cope and make sense of it all.

It’s normal to ask, “who is this person?” while staring at your angry, tear-stained face in the mirror. Reacting in ways that are completely uncharacteristic of yourself is a normal response to something that is completely uncharacteristic of what you thought your relationship was supposed to be like.

There is a certain loss of specialness that comes with the trauma of infidelity. Hearing that your spouse called another woman the pet name he gave to you, or used your vacation home for secret meetings with a lover will not only be upsetting but it leaves you to question whether or not anything you had was special or sacred. This too is normal.

You might find yourself doing other things completely out of character like obsessively checking cell phone records, emails, and web activity, trying to catch your partner in the act. They may have told you it was over with their lover, but you just can’t trust again, and even though you might not want to obsessively question and ask them to recall every step of their day, you just can’t help it. You might once again question who you are, and where this crazed person came from. As uncomfortable and unsexy as it seems, this too is quite normal.

Another common thing is doing things in desperation to try and win your partner back. As angry and hurt as you are, it would seem normal to just end the relationship, and as bad-ass as it seems to just throw your partner’s belongings out on the lawn and change the locks like they do in the movies, it’s not practical, and there are so many more emotions that aren’t shown.

Years of love that built the foundation of your relationship is difficult to deny, and you might find yourself doing things out of character and obsessing about your partner in ways you never have. Tempting them with sex and gifts, trying to get their attention and remind them of what they could be losing may be uncharacteristic, but it is also normal.

How long will this last?

This is one of the most common questions I receive when working with clients struggling with infidelity. Although I wish I had a finite answer, it’s much like any other trauma in that it’s really difficult to tell. I can’t tell you how long it will take you to get over the loss of a job, or a loved one, and I certainly can’t tell you how long in exact days and hours it will take you to heal from infidelity.

I can tell you that if you are willing to do the work and try to find understanding about yourself and your relationship through the process, it will create space for healing to happen much quicker than if you sweep it under the rug.

If you’ve recently discovered that your partner has been unfaithful, I’d like to offer you my free guide for surviving infidelity. You can get it by signing up here. It’s a guide that provides steps that you can take in the aftermath of infidelity, to help you feel less isolated and alone, and to get you moving towards a space of communicating productively with your partner. 

5 Things that come between Couples And Cause Affairs

I’ve sat across from enough couples trying to repair their marriages after an affair to know that they don’t just happen. There are some telltale signs that a relationship is ripe for an affair. No one thinks it will happen to them, and its easy to see in hindsight that there were in fact signals leading up to it.

While we can’t affair-proof our relationships, we can invest in them enough that an affair will be much less likely.

Here are 5 things that commonly come between couples and have the ability to cause an affair:

1.     Time

In the beginning of a relationship things are usually the best they will be. Couples have plenty of time to enjoy one another, they spend a significant amount of time together, they talk openly, and they share hobbies and interests that keep them connected.

As time passes two becomes three and then four, and the focus shifts from the couple to the family. Responsibilities increase, stresses increase, and time and energy decrease. The lack of time and energy once used towards one another dwindles, and a lack of connection that once kept the relationship fresh, diminishes.

2.     Caring for Children

Children are one of the most amazing gifts, and in order to be a good parent it takes time, energy, and a great amount of effort. Sometimes that effort and energy comes at the detriment of the marital relationship.

I often see parents killing themselves to put their kids in all the right sports and extracurricular activities, running them around like an über driver on a Friday night. They angst over participation in activities because “they look good on college admission essays,” or even preschool applications.

All that running around, over-committing, and overextending leads to exhaustion and under-commitment to the marital relationship. Who has the energy for intimate conversation or sex after running on empty with kids all day?

When children leave the nest I often have couples coming into my office wondering who the person is sitting next to them. After years of committing to their children, they forget they were once committed to one another, and lack the intimacy that comes with regular connection. 

3.     Career

Work/life balance is often elusive. As couples work to provide the biggest and the best for their children, it’s easy to continually strive for the next promotion, which usually comes with an increase in responsibility, and longer hours.

Working long hours can lead to a lack of connection at home. Often times, inter-office friendships can spark as a result of all the time spent on the job, and although they may seem innocent at first, feelings of loneliness can surface and be a cause for infidelity.

4.     Outside Hobbies and Interests

I tend to be a big cheerleader when it comes to both partners having interests of their own. I encourage the individuality that comes with doing something that doesn’t include your partner or kids because I think it makes us more whole. It’s what we bring back to the relationship and talk about, and it’s what makes us unique.

However, there is a fine line, and balance is always key. When there’s no regular connection in the relationship, and date nights aren’t happening nearly as often as the kid’s play-dates, it’s difficult to justify an out of town fishing trip with the guys, or a daily 2-hour gym routine.

5.     Difficult life-transitions

The transition into parenthood, a career change, caring for an aging parent, a move to a new state - all of these are examples of life-transitions. When things change in a big way, there are lots of feelings that go along with these transitions.

When the feelings are not outwardly expressed in the relationship, and one partner feels as thought they aren’t able to confide in the other, it can cause a wedge that leads to loneliness.

What all 5 of the things I’ve listed have in common are their ability to cause disconnection and loneliness. Loneliness and disconnection often lead to vulnerability, and vulnerability has the ability to lead to an affair if the right person comes around at the right time.

The bottom line is that connection is key.

If you’re connecting with your partner, sharing intimate moments with one another, and each of you feels valued and satisfied with your relationship, any of the above listed things can come into your lives. While they may be challenging, the strength you feel from the friendship and connection with your partner will help push you through the storm together.  

Find ways to sneak 15 minutes out of your day to be alone.

Create routines that encompass connection. Make it a habit to connect through text or email throughout the day, and sit together after the kids go to bed and talk before getting into bed.

If you’re having trouble finding the connection you need with your partner, I’m just a phone call or email away. My passion is helping couples find their stride and connection with one another, so don’t hesitate to reach out! Let’s set up a quick phone consultation, and I’ll be happy to discuss ways to connect more with your partner (909) 226-6124.