Stop Tolerating Bad Behavior

Stop Tolerating Bad Behavior. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I hear many stories about tolerating bad behavior within a primary relationship. It begs the question….”why don’t you just leave?” If you can’t or won’t tell your partner their behavior is unacceptable you are complicit in allowing them to carry on as they have which is abusing you. You must be assertive in order to effect change, otherwise, you will remain stuck in an unhappy and unfulfilling relationship. Hoping “things” will improve on their own is not a strategy; it only means you’re in denial. Poor self-esteem and codependency on your part may be the problem and can fuel your partner’s desire to “act-out unacceptably.”

Stop Tolerating Bad Behavior

I worked with a couple where the husband left his wife and 7-year-old daughter for his mistress. His reasons for leaving his marriage are symptoms of underlying issues that we continue to explore.  After “sacrificing so much” to be with his mistress, he now confesses there are similar problems with his new relationship, which, of course, has a lot of obvious stressors because of the way it evolved. He struggles to manage his emotional reactions to his new reality and often “acts out.” Rather than develop the self-focus and insight needed to develop better coping skills and move forward, he defaults to his normal bad behavior. In doing so he is now sabotaging a new relationship, one that he acquired at great personal cost, and he does not hesitate to remind his mistress of that fact whenever he doesn’t get what he wants. This habitually manipulative strategy is threatening his new relationship.

For a relationship to work, the people involved need to learn to self-soothe in stressful situations. This removes detrimental “acting out” behavior from the equation so the couple can reap the benefits of mature, respectful behavior. Healthy relationships do not tolerate abuse of any kind; instead, they encourage open communication where the partners can freely express their thoughts and feelings and ask for what they need and want without being shamed or punished for it.

What to do if you’ve been tolerating bad behavior:

  1. Give your partner the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments.
  2. Give them time to demonstrate either their ability or incapability to make those adjustments.
  3. If change isn’t happening determine whether there is a “can’t” or “won’t” factor.
  4. Then call me at (858) 7351139.

If the acting out partner cannot or will not make the necessary adjustments for learning to behave appropriately, there is poor prognosis for moving forward.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I believe we need to give our partners a reasonable amount of time to adjust their behavior before deciding whether to stay or go. There may even be neurological circumstances that preclude behavioral adjustments. All avenues should be investigated before accusing your partner of simply not wanting to change.

If your partner is acting out, ask yourself why you’re in that relationship. Remember, you can’t control or change anyone but yourself; if you think otherwise, you may be “codependent” and will need help managing that. Codependent people tolerate bad behavior for a variety of reasons; fear of abandonment, fear of the grief and loss process, low self-esteem and self-worth, etc.

For more about making the choice not to tolerate bad behavior and making better choices for yourself call me at (858) 735-1139

Affair Recovery 101

Affair Recovery 101.  You might not know this, but affair recovery isn’t just saying, “Honey, I swear I’ll never do it again.” Or “I’ll do whatever it takes to make this up to you.”  Then do nothing behaviorally afterward where you demonstrate an adjustment that backs up that statement.  As a Marriage Counselor and Affair Recovery Specialist, whether it be the male or female I hear those two statements each and every time a couple enters into the process.

 Affair Recovery 101

Affair Recovery 101. What Affair Recovery is not about for the Affair Partner, (the person who had the affair) is making excuses why they stepped out of their primary relationship.  Blaming the Hurt Partner because they lacked whatever the Affair Partner needed is not helpful in moving forward.  Nor is the Hurt Partner to place all the blame on the Affair Partner as each partner needs to take ownership of their part in this problem.  Affairs are typically symptoms of other problems in the relationship.  There are many reasons why people cheat and engage in affairs.  What is essential to Affair Recovery is both the Affair Partner and the Hurt Partner taking responsibility for their behavior in the demise of their relationship.  A collaborative approach by both partners is needed in ownership of the relationship.

Recovering from infidelity involves the willingness of unfaithful partners to demonstrate sincere regret and remorse.  Just talking about making changes while actually not following through implementing the acquired tools can’t get you there.  Talking to friends and relatives can be detrimental to the process and can even make things worse because if a reconciliation is to occur your circle of people has privy to information that may affect their objectivity with your newly developed relationship.

As a Marriage Counselor and Affair Recovery Specialist, there are three types of outcomes a couple can receive through the Affair Recovery process.

1. They can relive their trauma and bitterness over and over again never recovering only to continue torturing each other.  Hoping to get better while never acquiring tools to do just that.

2. Revert to the status of life before the affair.  Where both are either lonely, angry, shutdown, disconnected, etc. and either continue to think about cheating, live a life of deprivation of emotional and physical connection, or secretly continuing to cheat.


3. Have the affair become a transformational experience and catalyst for renewal and change for moving forward and develop a new relationship where both can receive what is needed and wanted to feel happy and content.

The single best indicator of whether a relationship can survive infidelity is how much empathy the Affair Partner shows for the pain they have caused the Hurt Partner.  Affair recovery is possible with the gradual rebuilding of trust through actions, not promises, and allowing time to heal by being patient.  With acquiring the appropriate tools and implementing a learned process there is good prognosis for Affair Recovery

For additional information please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or go to my website:



To Divorce Or Not To Divorce

To Divorce Or Not To Divorce. So You Think You Want A Divorce?  It doesn’t really matter how long you’ve been married. If your marriage is not a good working relationship with mutual respect who says you have to stay in it? Add abuse of any kind and wonder why individuals stay in relationships longer than they need to. I’ve been a Marriage Counselor for over 25 years and still have compassion for those who need and want to leave their marriages for all the right reasons. Contemplating divorce is never an easy decision.  Even if you still love your spouse divorce can still be a viable option to your continued well being and happiness. Sometimes a relationship just runs its course.

To Divorce Or Not To Divorce

As a Marriage Counselor, I see couples where one partner wants to preserve and repair the relationship and the other is leaning towards ending it. It’s obviously agonizing for both parties as they want different outcomes. In Marriage Counseling, options are discussed for moving forward.  Options can include:

  • Status quo – keeping things the same and being miserable
  • Move Forward with a plan specifically developed for you both. Implement for 6 months
  • Discernment Counseling where we talk about what separation and/or divorce would look like and what that entails. Sessions involve mostly individual conversations along with sharing insight about what each partner is learning in these conversations.
  • Move on – Separation and divorce

Discernment counseling is appropriate when one partner wants to separate and the other wants to stay and work on the marriage.  It differs from traditional marriage counseling in three ways: 1) the goal is not to solve problems in the relationship, but to figure out whether the problems can be solved; 2) the process involves mainly individual conversations with each partner, since they each have different needs and agendas, and 3) it is always short term.

While in Discernment Counseling couples get the clarity they need to help them decide what they want from their relationship to be able to want to move forward.  I help them get a better understanding of what happened to their relationship and each other’s contribution to the problems.

Discernment counseling is time-limited and can be as brief as one session and as long as five sessions.  The couple decides each time whether to come back for a subsequent session. The sessions are usually 1.5- 2 hours long.  Whatever the decision I respect and help the couple move towards the option selected.

During my divorce from my first husband was difficult as we both still cared about one another.Understanding my options helped get the clarity I needed for moving on.

Wanting to work on your marriage or believing you need a divorce is a personal choice. For more information on whether or not you want to stay in your relationship please contact me at (858) 735-1139.


Symptoms of Relationship Addiction

Symptoms of Relationship Addiction. Addictions come in many forms. There is alcohol addiction, drug addiction, eating disorders with food addictions, even addiction to healthy things like exercising. What can be troubling is when a once healthy relationship turns into a toxic one. Relationships are wonderful until you start to put boundaries in place to take care of your needs oppose to others. A healthy partner will respect those boundaries and your need for self-care. An unhealthy partner with unresolved personal issues can take this as a bad thing. Some individuals continue to accept bad behavior and before you know it you’ve become addicted to the vicious cycle of something that is not good for you.
Symptoms of Relationship Addiction
Symptoms of Relationship Addiction:
  • Premature Bonding
    Relationship addicts have an overwhelming need to bond with someone. This goes beyond a healthy need to connect with others. Unfortunately, this need to form an instant attachment tends to overwhelm other people and pushes them away. And it leads to poor decisions about whom to let into one’s life.
  • Excessive Fantasies
  • Throughout the course of the relationship, the addict spends a great deal of time thinking about the other person and how perfect things will be. Even after the relationship has ended, the fantasies about getting together again may continue. Of course, a healthy love relationship also involves fantasies, but addictive fantasies have an obsessive quality about them. These fantasies tend to take over one’s day. The need to fantasize takes precedence over socializing with others, work, taking care of normal daily routines – and they tend to become dreams or expectations that must come true.
  • The Need for Excitement
    Addicts in general crave getting “high.” Relationship addicts base their ideas about a relationship on romance, and this involves creating drama. They might pick fights just to experience a rush of excitement. An ordinary argument becomes a war. They see reality in terms of their own needs, so they easily read between the lines (“No matter what she says, I know she really loves me”). A love addict fails to understand that a normal relationship involves a series of highs and lows – in real life, lows do not mean that the love has ended. They see an ordinary relationship as boring because it lacks a sense of constant excitement.
  • Symptoms of Relationship Addiction
  • Exaggerated Anxiety and Jealousy about the Relationship
    Relationship addicts typically have fears left over from earlier experiences in their lives when they have been neglected, rejected, or abandoned. Their greatest fear in adulthood is feeling lonely because this reminds them of their earlier negative experiences – and they never want to endure that again. They need to feel attached and find it difficult to live independently. So, in their relationships they tend to look constantly for signs that things are not going well. They become possessive of their partner, experiencing anxiety when the partner is not present and frequently accusing or nagging the partner.
  • Ineffective Expression of Emotions
    The relationship addict, because of difficult earlier life experiences, is confused and overwhelmed by emotions. For example, she/he might feel that anger leads to rejection or abandonment, so she/he doesn’t express anger and instead holds in all emotional expression – and when someone expresses anger to the relationship addict, she/he is unable to tolerate it. She might harbor painful feelings that seem unrelated to present circumstances. She/he may become stoic (relationship addicts have a great tolerance for suffering and endure substantial pain rather than face the prospect of a breakup of the relationship). Because she/he suppresses her normal, flexible emotional expression, she/he may revert to polarized expression of feelings (“all or nothing”) – for example, love or hate (but nothing in between), vigilance or complacency, fear or courage.
  • Loose Personal Boundaries
    Because many relationship addicts have issues with self-esteem, they have weak personal boundaries. They lose their sense of individuality and become enmeshed with their partner. They don’t know where their needs and emotions begin and where their partner’s end. If their partner feels happy, they feel happy. If their partner feels sad, they feel sad. If they sense that their partner wants them to be a certain way, that is what they become. They have difficulty saying “no.” Unfortunately, this sets the stage for being treated with disrespect. Addictive relationships show a lack of equality between the two partners.

Symptoms of Relationship Addiction

The healthy love relationship can be viewed in terms of two independent people who come together and make a commitment to each other. They each have the freedom to live as they choose within the boundaries of the commitment, and they are loved by their partner for showing integrity in how they live. Their partner encourages them to follow the beat of their own drum. The commitment enhances each partner’s ability to experience a full life – with love, security, and support.

If you believe you or someone you know can relate to any of the above symptoms it would be good to seek the help of a counselor or therapist who can make an assessment to determine whether or not there could be a relationship addiction in the making.
I work with individuals and couples in San Diego and its neighboring communities.  I also provide telephone and internet counseling so please contact me at (858) 735-1139.