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.


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

Couples Counseling Can Feel Like The Kavanaugh Senate Hearing

Couples Counseling Can Feel Like The Kavanaugh Senate Hearing.  If you’re following the Kavanaugh Senate hearing you most likely have your personal opinion about Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.  Both have their perspective about their narrative and both feel strongly about it.  Judge Kavanaugh appears aggressively defensive which is what most of my clients display when they are in a hostile-dependent relationship where they are either incapable of or choosing to not to show empathy toward the other.  Dr. Ford, on the other hand, remained calm and collected and showed “grace under fire” sharing what she believed is her truth.

As a Marriage Counselor, I experience what some of you heard/observed today in working with my couples in Marriage Counseling Couples Counseling.  We all tend to have our own perspectives when sharing our point of view about situations/conflicts.  When working with couples who have a perspective that is on opposite sides of the spectrum, a solution-focused conversation can be frustrating.  That coupled with excessive arguing, can present as a toxic relationship dynamic that can destroy a marriage/relationship.  I refer to these couples as Hostile-Dependent or Conflict-Avoidant.  A hostile-dependent dynamic is defined by conflict where a conflict-avoidant dynamic is defined by fear

The hostile-dependent couples tend to be in a competition to be right (power struggles), where there is a lot of finger pointing and blaming in an attempt to be in control.  Sessions typically involve lots of mediating and pointing out who is not exercising appropriate behavior.

The conflict-avoidant couples tend to fear the emotional risk of speaking up which outweighs the potential benefit of getting the clarity they need to work through issues.  Conflict-avoidants are individuals who contort themselves to be acceptable (avoid problems) to avoid being rejected or abandoned.  These couples compromise their needs and wants, as well as their identity, and hide their authentic selves.

Whether a couple is Conflict-Avoidant or Hostile-Dependent, I want to emphasize what is needed for these couples to survive.   In any new relationship, couples start off being nice to each other.  As differences begin to show up each person’s value system will fall back on whatever coping mechanism is familiar to them.  If there is conflict avoidance people tend to avoid bringing up issues because they don’t want to risk a conflict, so they compromise themselves.  In the moving forward process, couples need to go through the uncomfortable process of “differentiation.”  Where each person has to identify their values and communicate them to the other.  While acknowledging that their partner will have different values from their own.

In couples counseling, I teach couples how to validate each other’s perspective and develop the self-focus to understand how they contribute to or limit themselves in any situation about to go south.  Developing a greater sense of “sense of self” helps with the differentiation process.  Striving for becoming a healthy relationship isn’t easy.  It takes two people who are committed to behaving like the grown-ups to make this happen.  You can’t just say you’re going to be better you have to demonstrate consistent adjusted behavior to know that you are not lowering yourselves to the lowest common denominator.

Bottom line, when couples say what they need to say to each other and learn how to have a mature dialogue, validate the other’s perspective, and show empathy for the other there can either be a breakthrough or a break-up.  You actually have a choice in the matter.

For more information about healthy relationships please contact me at (858) 735-1139