Take Time For Your Relationships

Here it is….another school year.  Labor Day is just around the corner.  Summer has ended.  The kids are back in school. Vacations are a thing of the past.  Hopefully you made nice picture albums to memorialize all the fun you had with the children and whoever else visited you during the summer break.  With all the commotion of kids home and summer activities, it was easy not to concentrate on your relationships…..or conveniently neglect it.  Kids can be a diversion in keeping you from being intimate with your partner.  Not just the physical intimacy but for most males, and females too, that is an important part of a healthy and happy relationship.  I’m talking about the emotional connectedness that comes with mindful and regular attention paid in making your partnership a working relationship outside “family obligations.”  The Romantic partnership rather than the Companionship Roommate you know the two of you have become good at as you’ve had years of practice.

Isn’t it time to make that conscious decision to enhance what you know you want?  A relationship that has the zest of how new lovers feel.  I realize we are all busy with the Details of Life.  In Couples Counseling I recommend making a date with your partner for sex.  Sex dates are an important part of creating spontaneity and special time in your relationship.  As a Couples Counselor I help Couples show each other that commitment and intention to your partnership adds a caring and more erotic element to your connection.  And, ironically, spontaneity only happens when you PLAN it!

I will talk more about the SEX DATE in my next Blog so be sure to check in.

Thank you.

 

 

Can Obsessing Over An Affair Be Helpful?

Can Obsessing Over An Affair Be Helpful? Recovering from an affair is a very difficult process. The mere disclosure of the affair may set the tone for these kinds of questions:

–  “Are we going to stay together or separate?”

–  “Are we a couple or aren’t we?”

–  “Will I ever be able to trust you again?”

–  “Does the lover know more than I do?”

–  “Did our friends or family members know about this before I did?”

–  “Are you going to continue seeing her/him?”

–  “Where did you two meet”

–  “Where did you have sex?”

– “How many times did you have sex?

–  “How long did it take before you became engaged in the affair?”

Can Obsessing Over An Affair Be Helpful?

A partner obsessing about the details of the Affair can be annoying yet hurtful if you are the Affair Partner (the person who had the affair), you continue to feel the pain you created for the Hurt Partner. Hearing about the Affair over and over again can become tiresome and the Affair Partner can become weary and discouraged that the relationship is unable to move on. While the Affair Partner is remorseful and is willing to do anything to repair the relationship, listening to the details about the Affair over and over again is counterproductive.

When two people date they get to know each other. Some fall in love intensely and decide to become a couple. Others are more thoughtful as they consider differences in culture, age, social class, religion, etc. Whether they decide to marry or live together in a homosexual or heterosexual partnership, the decision puts a boundary around the two of them as a Couple. This decision completes the initial bonding stage of a relationship and paves the way for a healthy growth-promoting process to be able to differentiate (that is, become different from one another). It is this security of their bond that provides the support for each other’s differentiation to become whom they will become as individuals within the relationship.

Can Obsessing Over An Affair Be Helpful?

In this culture, marriage/committed relationships come with an expectation of Sexual Monogamy, unless otherwise agreed upon. When one partner discovers that the other has had a sexual encounter with another person it is an assault on this security. An affair can be defined as one person secretly violating an actual or implied expectation of the other’s Primacy. The secrecy is more disturbing than the actual sex. The Affair Partner has disrupted the commitment with the Hurt Partner, therefore, this disruption violates this boundary around them as a Couple.

Because the commitment and boundary have been disrupted and violated, everything is open again and the inevitable questions get asked. All the questions that existed before becoming a couple are back on the table again. This time it’s more challenging because there are more dependencies (other people), like children involved. Each partner must re-decide whether he or she wants to start over and reinvest in their previous relationship. This decision can come with soul searching dialogue and self-confrontation of issues with the help of a trained counselor specializing in working with Infidelity.  It is important to seek the help of a trained Counselor to effectively direct the process as continual questioning can become hostile and persecutory and stagnate therapy, which may turn it into “beat up” sessions.  Confusion surrounds how to handle the persistent search for more facts and answering of questions.

Can Obsessing Over An Affair Be Helpful?

Is it valuable for someone to obsess over details of the Affair? It’s a way of working through the trauma of the affair. It is through this process that each partner decides whether to recommit to the partnership. When the Affair Partner answers the questions truthfully without being defensive or belligerent, it helps the Hurt Partner put an end to the “crazy” feeling since he or she is left fantasizing or sensationalizing answers to the questions themselves. When the evasiveness continues, it signals that the feelings leading to the Affair still exist and the Primacy of the committed partnership does not. Being honest about the details of the Affair helps put the blown up fantasies about the “other” woman or man into perspective and they are seen as being human, and not perfect or better.

As the Primary Couple deals with the betrayal of secrecy and deception created by the Affair they may create shared meaning by talking about these questions in detail. This process is essential to rebuilding trust and commitment.  Developing a New Monogamy Agreement also helps with generating a new relationship preventing similar situations from occurring again.  (See my article on The New Monogamy and look for How To Develop New Monogamy Agreements).

 

No Time For Weekly Therapy, Try A Couples Intensive

No Time For Weekly Therapy, Try A Couples Intensive. An Intensive is an in-depth intervention to create dramatic and long lasting shifts in your relationship where you acquire valuable tools needed to help make you move forward creating the life you want with your partner. In this one session counseling venue couples will learn to make implicit assumptions and agreements explicit so that each partner knows exactly what is expected from one another. Couples intensives are designed for those who can’t attend weekly sessions, have childcare challenges, and busy schedules receiving results sooner rather than later.

No Time For Weekly Therapy, Try A Couples Intensive

A Couples Intensive can focus on special issues and problem areas such as:

  • Communication and Conflict Repair
  • Intimacy and Connection
  • Emotional Closeness and Passion
  • Affair Recovery
  • Infidelity Disclosure

  • Sexual Desire Issues
  • Pornography and Internet Abuse
  • Sexual Addiction or Compulsion
  • Open Marriage or Polyamory Issues
  • Separation and Divorce Coaching
  • New Monogamy Visions

Everyone has their own concept of what “monogamy” means—and most people assume their partners and spouses are on the same page. Couples may assume that they are monogamous, but never discuss exactly what the monogamy agreement means to them. What happens when this implicit agreement is broken? After infidelity, relationships can become strained as both partners lose trust and faith in each other.  Having a dialogue about what monogamy means to you and what you want it to look like moving forward offers a way out of these difficulties for couples struggling to stay together, especially after infidelity. Counseling helps regain the trust, romance, and intimacy after infidelity by redefining their marital contract. 

A Couples Intensive can help you and your partner increase the passion in your relationship and maintain the Erotic Connection you truly deserve and desire. By learning to communicate with your partner you become motivated to stay connected. A vital and healthy interest in sex and a passionate curiosity in life is the way to keep a relationship alive for a long, long time.

Whether you are looking for marriage counseling, want to work on relationship issues, or want an Intensive to resolve conflict or improve your Sex life please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

How To Affair Proof Your Relationship

How To Affair Proof Your Relationship.  It seems everywhere you turn someone you know is having an affair. I bet you claimed you would never cheat on your partner, right? Who intentionally gets into a relationship and then decides to cheat? It’s devastating to be on either end of that situation as the guilt and betrayal can be overwhelming. It can take up to two years or more for a couple to repair the effects of an affair so wouldn’t it be in everybody’s best interest to prevent one?

How To Affair Proof Your Relationship

Putting the following into practice could prevent the downfall of any relationship:

  • Be the Mature Person you need to be –  A person who is independent within an interdependent relationship makes for a less needy individual.  A less needy individual makes for a more attractive partner.
  • Don’t ignore your spouse’s complaints – Listen to and acknowledge their discomfort about housework, money, in-laws, etc., whether you agree or disagree.  It’s important they feel heard.
  • Be Honest – I’m talking about when you feel an attraction for someone else share that with your partner and talk about the feelings around it.  It’s perfectly normal to fantasize about other people but can be dangerous if acted out.  Telling your partner before something actually happens is less disastrous and painful than having to deal with the consequences of an actual betrayal (affair).
  • Show Appreciation – Telling your partner every day that you appreciate something they have done for you or how they look in appearance is very endearing contrary to any criticisms.
  • Tell your partner what you want – Women tend to think men can read their minds, well they can’t.  You need to tell each other what you want.  How you want your coffee in the morning or what you’d like in bed.  Being open is part of being communicative.
  • Have lots of Sex – (or an agreed upon amount between the two of you); when there is a physical connection often times there is an emotional connection.  When you make the space for your sex you hold your relationship in high regard and validate your partnership in a loving way.  It is during these encounters where sharing honesty and being communicative about your wants and desires that protect you from other people who can come between you and your partner.
  • Develop a Monogamy Agreement that is ideal for your relationship.  (see http://erelationshipadvicecafe.com/the-new-monogamy)

Continue talking to each other about what works in your relationship and what doesn’t.  Every relationship is unique to its own developed agreement.  If you put into practice what you agree upon your relationship should be safe from others trying to infiltrate it.

Call me at (858) 735-1139 for more information about preventing an affair.

 

Bringing A New Monogamy To Couples In The 21st Century

The New Monogamy

As we’re into the 21st Century all the diversified groups of relationships have surfaced and I believe are here to stay.  Heterosexual relationships, Homosexual relationships, Traditional Monogamous relationships (Closed); Open Marriages; Semi-Open Marriages; Polyamorous Marriages/Relationships; and Polysexual Relationships.  People are no longer living in the past or “dark ages” where one way of living was the only or right way of living.  With the new Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA) Laws being passed throughout the Country Same-sex marriage has been legalized in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, The District of Columbia and five Native American tribes. These populations will continue to fight for rights to normalize and equalize their standards of cohabitation.  I would hope there are open minded Counselors such as myself to help guide these Couples to develop and negotiate Agreements that help their relationships sustain the diversity of their non-traditional choices.

Developing New Monogamy Agreements (discussed below) offer realistic solutions for moving past infidelity and the immobilization it tends to create within the old relationship.  That’s right, the “Old Relationship.”  What is needed now is a “New Relationship.” One filled with practical guidance, checklists of wants and don’t wants, and candid questionnaires that promote validation and honesty.

New Monogamy Agreements help you communicate your needs effectively so that both you and your partner can start the work of building a new relationship based on what is Ideal for the two of you.  It is an agreement that is unique to your relationship’s needs.  After an affair, it’s normal to feel confusion, betrayal, and hurt, but if you are both committed to working together, then you can emerge from this experience with a renewed and even more rewarding relationship.

Has Marriage Become Obsolete?

We are in the 21st Century.  We don’t have the marriage our parents’ or our grandparents’ had.  There are less people married now since 1985.  Most people marry later in life and 40% of Americans think marriage is obsolete. People married much younger 60 years ago, in their early teens and had a shorter life expectancy.  Longevity of marriages in the 20th Century averaged 10 – 15 years at the most.  The average lifespan for men in 1940 was 60 and for women 65. Today everyone is living longer.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics’ 2011 study, the average lifespan for men is now 76 and for women 81.  The divorce rate is at 50% for first marriages, 67% for second marriages, and 73% for third marriages.  About 45 – 60% of partners will cheat – women 45% and men 60% (Atwood and Schwartz 2002). These percentages aren’t accurate as people tend to lie to researchers.  According to Janis Spring, author of After The Affair, affairs affect 1 out of 2.7 couples, which is almost 1/3 of us all.

But yet, people are still wired to pair and bond.  Something has shifted and continues to shift.  What is needed and wanted at this time is to make marriage more appealing.  The “Romeo” period has come to an end.  There is no precedent for maintaining desire.

Is Monogamy Even Possible For The Average Person?

According to Dr. Tammy Nelson, author of The New Monogamy, most material on affair recovery assumes infidelity is a symptom of some fundamental problem in the marriage or committed relationship.  What if monogamy isn’t even possible for the average person?  Ten percent of affairs last only one day.  Another ten percent last less than a month.  The rest typically last a year or two.  Few last longer than four years.  So, the question is if affairs last an average of three years at the most, do they even work?

Infidelity doesn’t have to be the end of the road.  It may feel that way, but couples can and do find their way to an ultimately deeper and more intimate bond.  After infidelity, individuals feel a range of emotions and have difficulty regaining trust and intimacy with their partners.  Their pain is understandable, but there are ways that can heal and create a better, stronger, and more honest connection.

Some Reasons Why Affairs Happen

  • People try to get out of relationships before they even know they want to get out.

  • It’s a passive-aggressive way for the other person to take action in ending the relationship.

  • Another reason people have affairs is because of the “Person” they become within that affair.  They create a part of themselves that they feel they cannot integrate into the marriage/relationship.  Those people say they can be more themselves: alive, charming, sexy.  They can’t be that part of “Me” with “You.” So, the dilemma is how the person in the affair can integrate that part of themselves into the relationship.

  • Opportunity

People typically come into counseling with me after about 10-12 years of marriage, and again after about 16 – 20 years. Most people get divorced after the children are about 7 years old as the children are able to take care of themselves by this age.  Becoming parents and the companionship of raising a family can create distance between a couple that causes the Erotic Energy to be lost.  They become roommates.  Some couples tell me, “frankly they can find better roommates”.

On a cultural level, society is challenging monogamy more than ever because of the high infidelity rate.  Infidelity is created by opportunity.  These days the opportunity has increased 100 fold.  This is the first time in history that you can cheat on your partner while lying in bed next to them as we utilize the Internet and other computerized gadgets.

How we all think about monogamy is completely different from one another.  There are implicit and explicit assumptions we all possess.  It’s the implicit assumptions that we don’t talk about that are the ones usually betrayed.  An example would be a husband who watches pornography on the Internet and masturbates from time to time.  He doesn’t think he is being unfaithful.  This is an implicit assumption that this behavior is acceptable.  The wife, on the other hand, thinks differently and believes he has committed a betrayal.  These implicit betrayals don’t come up until there is some kind of crisis.

In Affair Recovery it’s important to assess where the Couple is in the process:

1.  Crisis or “freaking out” phase.  Couple hasn’t made a decision about their relationship right now.  They’re in crisis management.  Be calm, and don’t make any major decisions right now.

2.  Insight phase.  The Couple starts to say this was “Our Affair,” and has honest, empathetic, and kind conversations with each other.

3.  Vision phase.  The decision has been made to stay together.  What is our New Monogamy Agreement and how do we create it?

Remember, after an affair the thought of changing rules to allow for more fluidity may seem as if it could only create more instability.  It may feel like you are creating a slippery slope that could lead to another betrayal or even the end of your relationship. This is why the idea of evolving agreements is very important to the concept of the New Monogamy.  Your lives are dynamic and constantly changing.  So are your expectations and needs for your relationship.  Your agreement needs to be developed to work for you, and revisited and tweaked every 6 months or yearly.

The Monogamy Agreement

So what is a Monogamy Agreement?  They are explicit agreements that you and your partner discuss and choose based on each of your individual needs within the relationship.  The agreement is an obligation that you willingly support your relationship and want to meet both your partner’s and your own needs.

This can mean agreeing on a Traditional Monogamous relationship (Closed); Open Marriage; Semi-Open Marriage; Polyamorous Marriage; or Polysexual Marriage.  Each to be discussed with an open-minded Counselor whose goal is to guide the Couple to develop and negotiate an agreement that works for both of them.

In this Agreement, it is essential to include discussions about thoughts, feelings, desires, arousals, fantasies, flirtation, emotion, connection, sex, wants, don’t wants, love, and detachment.  Like any agreement, it is good to formalize it.  Problems may arise at the beginning.  Having open and honest communication about the snags in moving forward will continue to reconnect and bond the two of you in becoming closer with one another and building more intimacy.  It doesn’t matter what your monogamy becomes. Rather, the emphasis is on how you feel and talk about it.  That’s what creates the bond that binds.  And in Affair Recovery trust isn’t the only thing that is needed to repair that bond.  Developing a new agreement that works for the two of you for moving forward will ensure greater success.

I look forward to any comments.  Thank you.