What To Know About Breakups

What To Know About Breakups. One of the biggest challenges on mental health is obsessing about relationships that are in the process of ending, have ended, or should end. As a Marriage Counselor working with couples, married or not married, I utilize strategies for navigating what one can and cannot control when their relationship ends.

I recently worked with a couple who came in due to infidelity. The Hurt Partner (female) stated she wanted to work on Affair Recovery. The Affair Partner (male) was willing to go through the process and took responsibility for his behavior. During the course of counseling the hurt partner continued to inappropriately act out her emotions of hurt, anger, and disappointment by yelling, blowing up his phone, showing up at his office unannounced, etc.  According to the Affair Partner her melt downs and inability to manage her feelings validated his decision to end their 5 year relationship as he realized his betrayal was one of many issues the couple faced.

His decision blindsided her and she was left devastated. Reconciliation was not an option as his decision was final for all of his valid reasons. Both were experiencing grief and loss.

With mixed emotions they individually sought counseling with me to try and understand what happened. Breakups are awful. The one who wants to leave the relationship feels just as bad as the person who was left. (See blog: Dumpers and Dumpees)

Both asked what they can do to manage their feelings about the breakup. The best thing you can do during a breakup is to concentrate on yourself. Spend time focusing on “self” rather than “other.” Everyone has their own way of healing. Sometimes that way is not conducive to the other person. You can’t control anyone but yourself. Develop a support system.  Stay off of social media so you can concentrate on yourself and not what your “ex” is doing. Journal your feelings and what you learned about yourself in this relationship.  Your breakup can be a means to grow. Take advantage of the time alone.  Become the person someone would want to grow old with.

Call me at (858) 735-1139 for more information on surviving your recent breakup.

Sex After 50

Sex After 50.  As we grow older it becomes a bit more difficult to keep things hot in the bedroom.  I for one, can personally relate.  If you’ve been married to the same partner for a long period of time it becomes even more of a challenge.  As a Marriage Counselor, I see older couples who come in with sexual intimacy struggles.  After ruling out any medical problems I assess what their communication with each other is like. Great sex usually comes hand in hand with being able to share thoughts and feelings with each other and taking risks in being vulnerable (susceptible to emotional hurt).  Study after study shows that high relationship satisfaction is likely to increase both desire for sex and orgasmic response.  That being said here are ways I keep things hot in the bedroom.

1.  First of all, there is no shame in taking Viagra or Cialis to enhance an erection.

2.  Schedule a Sex Date – carve out and honor the time; set the mood; create the space.

3.  Travel – Romantic travel can be an Aphrodisiac.  A 3-day weekend getaway can be exciting because being in another place under different circumstances creates novelty and a change in behavior follows.

3.  Set the mood – Add a dimmer switch to a bedroom light.  Part of sexual allure is looking and feeling beautiful; a dimmer achieves both.  Light candles and incense. Put on some soft music.  Have a romantic beverage of choice bedside.

4.  Talk about a fantasy – you don’t have to act it out but go into details.  Talking about it can get you aroused.

5. Sex Videos and books – in the same vein learning some new techniques are helpful tips and can be a turn-on, as well.  Suggested sites: sinclairinstitute.com and Evesgarden.com; suggested books:  The Joy of Sex (The Ultimate Revised Edition) and Guide To Getting It On (offers detailed instructions on and drawings of, various options).

Every study that I’ve read that links between sexuality and health finds sexual behavior highly correlated to overall happiness and health.  I find when I’m not emotionally connecting with my spouse we don’t physically connect.  When we don’t physically connect it makes emotionally connecting even more difficult. Before you know it you’re in a vicious cycle living separate lives wondering why you’re so angry all the time.

Nonetheless, whatever your age, if you are having problems with your sex life Marriage Counseling may be worth trying to fix them.  No time of life is without its difficulties.  Many 60-plus couples are having the most rewarding and pleasurable sex of their lives. Don’t you want to be one of them?

Call me at (8587) 735-1139 let’s get that conversation started.


Starting The New Year With A Breakup

Starting The New Year With A Breakup.  The beginning of a new year is typically the time when couples either become engaged or separate and divorce.  As a Marriage Counselor working with couples deciding whether to stay in their relationship or leave it, January 1st is an important deadline for ending relationships.  Breaking up, separation, and divorce can be devastating.  It can also provide the opportunity for self-examination and a New Beginning.

There’s nothing easy about ending a relationship. Breaking up is seldom the ideal resolution to problems within relationships, but all too often is the outcome, despite our best efforts to prevent it. The person who was once your best friend and your companion for life, the one who knew you better than anyone else, has now in some ways become your enemy. You cannot believe that this has happened. How could that love have been destroyed? The breakup of a relationship is one of life’s most emotionally painful experiences. The depth of pain depends on many factors – how sensitive you are to the meaning of your life experiences, how much you have idealized the relationship, and how much you depended on your partner to make your life worthwhile.

A broken relationship shatters much that we have known and dreamed about. Our relationships, especially intimate relationships, help us define who we are. Our values, our views of the world, and how we define our most intimate feelings are all embodied within our love relationships. When our relationship comes to an end, our lives enter a chaotic period for which we may be unprepared. We suddenly find ourselves dealing with a host of emotions and thoughts – grieving, despair, anger, revenge and retaliation, hoping for a miracle, negotiating, feeling out of control, hoping for happiness again and not knowing how to get there, fear, and loneliness – and little of it seems to make sense.  Most of us have never acquired the tools to deal with a loss of this magnitude. When we entered the relationship, we put our energies into building a life with our partner. We put little effort into learning to be alone again. A breakup forces us to jump into an overwhelming, and often dreaded world of new experiences.

There are stages of grief that we all go through whenever we experience a loss.  During a Break-Up individuals will undergo a Grieving Process.  These are predictable stages commonly experienced by those in the process of a breakup.  They include:

Denial – Denying the truth of the breakup actually helps us postpone the pain, so denial certainly has a place in the process, at least initially. A problem occurs when we experience so much denial that we are unable to come to terms with the reality of the task before us. There comes a day when “this is not happening to me” is no longer an effective way of coping. Ending the denial stage involves a major shift in our thinking about ourselves, what our partner means to us, and where we must go from here.

Fear – Most people experiencing a breakup are forced to come to terms with a number of fears. What will people say? Whom can I trust to talk to? How can I handle my partner’s anger toward me? How do I deal with my own anger? Am I a complete failure? How can I be a single parent? What about money? Can I do the banking and buy groceries and pay bills and fix the car? Can I handle my loneliness? Am I completely unlovable? Will I ever love anyone else again? Do I have the energy for this much change? When we are dominated by our fears and feel unable to do anything about them, we increase the likelihood that these will be the very areas where we experience trouble. The best way to handle fear is to accept it, with awareness, planning, and support.

Loneliness – The loneliness a person experiences at the time of a breakup may feel overwhelming. The finality of ending the relationship, uncertainty about the future, as well as the knowledge that your partner will no longer be there to comfort you or to spend time with you, all contribute to an empty feeling that seems as if it will never away. While you were in the relationship, you defined yourself as being partnered and you felt that you always had someone there to share your experiences. And now you don’t. The clue to dealing with this is to change the feeling of loneliness to “aloneness.”  Loneliness suggests a longing to be with another person. Aloneness can be a time to observe who you are – you have the opportunity to explore your independence and challenge yourself to do things on your own. It can be a valuable time of self-exploration and self-enhancement.  Because aloneness may not last very long, or not long enough, it can be seen as a valuable opportunity.

Friendship – The breakup is a true test of just who your real friends are. It is important to draw on the emotional support of friends during this time. Unfortunately, many of your friends were those who knew you as a couple and they may have to choose between you. Those who try to stay neutral may find it difficult. Some may feel that your breakup somehow threatens their own relationships, and some friends may now find it difficult to relate to you as a single person. Not only that, but you may find it difficult to trust others during a breakup. Getting out, feeling free, trusting wisely, and opening up to others become major goals of healthy adjustment.

Grieving – It’s normal and necessary to experience a period of grieving over the end of the relationship. You may feel depressed for some time and experience changes in your energy levels, as well as your sleeping and appetite patterns. You may dwell on negative thoughts for a period of time and find it difficult to find pleasure in everyday events. If your negative thinking turns into self-destructive thoughts, you should find a  therapist who can help you through this challenging time. As unpleasant as this period of grieving may feel, comfort yourself with the knowledge that this is a temporary phase and it is how you are saying goodbye so that you can move on to a healthier and happier future.

Anger – People ending their relationships usually say that they never knew they could have so much anger. The rage seems overwhelming at times. Think about it – you have just lost one of the most important things in your life and your partner may seem like your enemy. You have a lot to be angry about. Use this opportunity to look within – explore your anger and find out how it helps and hurts you. One rule: don’t engage in any behavior you will regret as in Acting Out Behavior. Because it may be difficult to contain your anger at this time, your partner is not the appropriate target for your anger. Instead, process your anger by talking about it with a trusted friend or Counselor. Anger is helpful in the sense that it helps us end the loyalty and trust we used to feel for our partner, and this allows us to move on.

In Marriage Counseling I help Couples and Individuals think of the ending of their relationship as a process, which is taken one step at a time. Some of these steps are challenging. Not only do we have to confront all of the stages listed above, but we must also deal with making the final break emotionally, understand what really went wrong, learn to feel comfortable with ourselves again, see ourselves as single people, make new friends, forge new purposes and goals, and learn about trust and love again.  There’s never pressure in rushing through any of these stages as everyone grieves losses differently.  As painful as this journey may seem at first, it can lead to a life which is more satisfying as being in a relationship that isn’t working isn’t healthy.

You don’t have to do this alone.  For more information on the process of breaking up please contact me at (858) 735-1139

The New Year’s Eve Kiss

The New Year’s Eve kiss.  Whether you ring in the new year watching the Times Square ball drop from your living room or toasting champagne at an upscale establishment, tradition makes a case for celebrating the new year with people you love.  According to English and German folklore, the first person you encounter in a new year—and the nature of that encounter—sets the tone for the rest of the year.  A kiss is about strengthening relationships you wish to maintain in the future. If a couple celebrating together on New Year’s Eve want something more from their date taking the time to lock lips at the stroke of midnight can solidify the relationship.

For single people, there’s a superstition that not kissing anyone suggests a year of loneliness and lack of validation that you are lovable.  Like any other holiday, New Year’s Eve can put a great deal of stress on those without “plus ones”.  As a Marriage Counselor in private practice, I had a client, Julie, 38, who ditched New Year’s Eve plans she’d made with friends because she didn’t want to be the only single person in the group.  Julie stayed at home, where a New Year’s Eve kiss wasn’t a possibility or a threat and she ended up regretting the decision as she missed out on being with people who cared about her.

Even having a significant other doesn’t guarantee a romantic smooch at midnight.  I worked with a couple who have replaced a romantic night out on the town with a family-friendly community event with their children.  She said her husband says the New Year’s Eve kiss is passé because they were too tired to stay up til midnight.  They kissed each other and their children the following morning.

This relaxed, flexible approach seems to be the key to enjoying New Year’s Eve, whatever your relationship status. Celebrate with loved ones in an environment that makes you feel safe and comfortable. The midnight kiss isn’t so different from a New Year’s resolution—despite your best intentions, you probably won’t pull it off perfectly, if at all.

You can always kiss your friends, family members, pets, or whoever is around that make you happy.  Some people close their eyes at midnight and remember their favorite kiss.  Remember a Kiss is just a Kiss so whoever you kiss your new year will be the best year ever.

Happy New Year everybody.  Call me at (858) 735-1139 if you need to put some plans in place to make your New Year the best year ever.


Teresa Caputo and Larry’s Divorce

Teresa Caputo and Larry’s Divorce.  I’m a fan of the T.V. show, “Long Island Medium.”  I’ve always been intrigued by psyche mediums and what they can do for individuals who have lost loved ones.  They can offer peace and comfort informing us our loved ones are still with us in spirit.  My brother and I went to see Teresa Caputo in Long Beach in June 2014.  My brother, Sal, lost his partner many years ago.  We had hoped we’d hear from him as we were seated not too far from the stage but alas, the night went on without a sign.  He was happy to take a photo with Larry Caputo.  Two years later my brother unexpectedly died.

Larry seemed like a very nice guy.  Throughout the show, Theresa made some cute and humorous comments about him that were endearing.  I observed him to be supportive, as well as playful with his wife with each episode.  In Theresa’s book, “There’s More To Life Than This,” and on her show, she said her husband was very understanding of her anxieties about her psyche abilities early in their relationship and was always there for her during her tough times.

When I heard about The Caputos breakup and divorce I couldn’t help wonder if their marriage ended due to becoming Dreaded Roommates after being with each other for three decades.  As a Marriage Counselor, I hear the statement “I love you,” but “I’m not in love with you” from couples who experience what I believe Theresa and Larry experienced.  Being with each other for 30 years and trying to keep the romantic piece alive can be challenging.  When we first get together in our romantic relationships we feel excited and alive due to the newness of it.  We grow with each other and hopefully continue to grow as individuals.  In healthy relationships, the individual still exists within the relationship.  The two are Individuating and Differentiating from each other.  Meaning we continue to grow and evolve into the person we are becoming while differentiating from our partner creating a good balance between the two processes to maintain a happy relationship.

The relationship can become threatened when one person starts to differentiate more than the other.  As a Marriage Counselor, I hear couples say one of them has become distant and does their “own thing.”  Coupling activity is limited and sometimes nonexistent.  When individuals tend to overly concentrate on their individual interests and neglect their relationship the result can include a feeling of emotional disconnectedness.  In Theresa and Larry’s situation, I can imagine her work with the T.V. show, writing books, touring, etc. put a toll on their marriage.  The energy she receives from “doing me” can be alluring.  Some women define themselves as wife, mother, daughter, and sister.  But when they establish a successful professional life, that is validating.  Perhaps a lot of personal energy went into her professional life, therefore, making little time for the relationship.  Maybe becoming empty nesters enabled her to dedicate even more time to her endeavors.  She states they grew apart.  I believe that is true, however, I also believe the two of them differentiated from one another as concentrating on their individual selves (and not always in a bad way) damaged the intimacy needed to want to continue in the marriage.  They say they will remain friends.  And that’s a good thing.

For more information about maintaining the intimacy needed to stay “in love” please contact me at (858) 735-1139