Looking At Infidelity In A Different Light

Looking At Infidelity In A Different Light.  Rethinking Infidelity.  Is it cheating if you sleep with other people after having a discussion about opening up your marriage?  Is talking to people on the internet or dating sites considered a betrayal?  There are many reasons why men cheat and other reasons why women cheat.  Whatever the reason, affairs are less about physical sex than they are about desire and the need to feel desired.  As a Marriage Counselor and Affair Recovery Specialist, I hear compelling stories about why boundaries were crossed and why indiscretions were made.

In Affair Recovery, there are three options discussed with the couples I work with as I guide them through the crisis phase.

Option 1: Status Quo – Do nothing more than what they have been doing.  Internalizing thoughts and feelings and continue to inappropriately act them out through bad behavior.  Never getting the professional help needed to acquire moving forward skills and manage emotions.

Option 2:  Move Forward – With a therapist who specializes in working with couples in affair recovery.  My couples receive a Moving Forward Plan developed specifically for them as every couple has their own set of unique circumstances where they can understand and gain insight into why the affair happened and what is needed to be able to make an informed decision about whether or not they can stay together.

Option 3:  Move On – Separation or Divorce.  I believe you cannot make an informed decision whether to stay together or leave the relationship without undergoing the Affair Recovery process.  Thereby making moving on premature where you may have regrets if you do so.  Divorce makes no room for repair, resilience, and recovery.

In rethinking infidelity, affairs can be a form of self-discovery, a journey for a new or lost identity and a silverling where couples can develop a newfound relationship filled with content and happiness.  Infidelity is likely to be a symptom of a problem.  Exploring the underlying issues can be an experience for the “cheater” to grow, explore, and transform.

Call me at (858) 735-1139 if you want to talk about rethinking and reframing infidelity.  As awful as an affair can be there can be something positive that comes from it.

 

 

 

 

Are You Assertive Enough?

Are You Assertive Enough?  The definition of Assertive is behaving confidently and being able to say in a direct way what you want or believe (Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary).  As a Marriage Counselor, I define Assertiveness as behaving in a way that teaches people how to behave around me and being able to say what I need and want to get what I need and want while being respectful of their request of me. If you really want something like a promotion, a better relationship, more respect, etc., you’ll have to be more assertive. Most people are nice enough, polite, and wouldn’t intentionally do anything to hurt anybody. So why don’t these same people get what they want?

At the heart of assertiveness is your ability to know who you are and what you stand for and then express these qualities effectively in everyday interactions with other people.   Unless they can see who you truly are, underneath it all, other people might not know how you expect to be treated.

Expressing yourself effectively involves maintaining respect for the rights and feelings of others. Assertiveness is not aggression. People who are assertive know that they can deal with the world much more effectively if they don’t resort to violence or other aggressive responses. In many ways, assertiveness is the exact opposite of aggression.  Assertion enhances constructive communication and cooperation between people, while aggression shuts it down. And assertion is not manipulation. Most people are aware, at some level, when they are being manipulated and it can lead to distrust and a lack of respect, for both parties. Manipulation involves hiding behind a facade. Assertion means tearing down that facade and happily announcing to the world who you truly are.  At the heart of assertiveness is your ability to know who you are and what you stand for.

We see situations of nonassertive behavior around us daily. Most people who lack an assertive style are those who are conflict avoidant and want to keep the peace. However, they often pay a price for this as communication is less effective in their interpersonal relationships whereby making needs and wants unclear.

There are many negative consequences associated with not being assertive. For example, those who are not assertive allow their feelings and boundaries to be violated by others. They believe they don’t have the right to their own feelings, beliefs or opinions and even if they do, they have difficulty expressing them in a way that is validating. They may feel that asserting their thoughts will lead to rejection or even being attacked. They frequently feel that it’s better to withhold their ideas rather than cause a conflict. Nonassertive people may feel guilty when they have to say “No.” As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I say feelings of guilt are irrational as guilt is something you feel when you’ve done something wrong.  Saying “NO” isn’t wrong if it’s the appropriate thing to say, and more importantly, if it’s what you WANT to say.  They often allow others to make decisions for them and may assume that others will care for their needs. They may place the needs of others above their own. Nonassertive people can become entrenched in Codependency and are easily victimized by others.

The ramifications of choosing to be nonassertive are costly. People feel hurt and mistreated when their needs are not met yet those who are not assertive do little to meet these needs themselves. They may store up negative feelings and then harbor anger. Their sense of efficacy in the world is diminished, and then they complain about how unfair the world is to them. This approach toward the world may lead to depression, poor self-esteem, anxiety, isolation, and anger.

Be More Assertive by Using “I” Statements

                              Use facts not judgments

                              Own your thought and feelings

                              Make clear direct requests

                              Respect yourself and others will too

Learning to be more assertive involves examining several dimensions of your life that include self-esteem, communication skills, ability to remain calm, and being authentic.  When you can comfortably share your authentic self with the world around you, with integrity and respect for the rights and wholeness of other people, you are truly asserting yourself.  When your Best Self (differentiated self, more evolved self) shows up it makes for a great partner in the relationship you choose to be a part of.

How often are you able to say “no?”  Do you ever say “yes” when you really want to say “no?”  It took me years to be able to say “no” and not feel bad about having to disappoint someone and feel guilty.  Give me your feedback as I’d like to know more about you and how assertive you are.

For more information on acquiring Assertiveness Training or becoming more assertive in all your relationships please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

 

Why Happily Married Women Cheat

Why Happily Married Women Cheat.  I wrote a blog about why women cheat and thought I’d elaborate more on why some happily married women choose to have extra-marital affairs.  Again there are many reasons why people make the choice to step outside their primary relationship.  As a Marriage Counselor, I talk to many women who make that choice.  There are research materials that indicate various reasons for this choice.  I am sharing a couple of reasons that have proven successful in keeping marriages intact.

In the movie, “The Bridges of Madison County,” it depicts an excellent example of how an affair kept a wife from leaving her marriage and family as the Heroine states if she hadn’t had her affair and the experience she gained from it she couldn’t have stayed on that farm she lived on to continue to lovingly meet the needs of her family.

Most women are socialized to marry, have children, manage the household and work outside the home.  Developing their Primary Relationship is an investment in time, energy, and resources.  Often they love their husbands but perhaps feel in some fundamental way that their emotional, sexual, or psychological needs are not being met inside the marriage.  Albeit not typically exercised or accepted in our Society women are getting these needs met elsewhere. Women are unwilling to abandon the marriages and families they have developed as other aspects of the family are functional, satisfying and happy. They were also unwilling to bear the stigma (although slowly changing in the 21st Century) of a publicly open marriage or to go through the effort of negotiating such a complex arrangement.

These women are turning to infidelity not as a way to blow up a marriage, but as a way to remain in it.  As a Marriage Counselor and Affair Recovery Specialist, I work with women who describe infidelity, not as a transgression but a creative or even subversive act, a protest against an institution they have come to experience as suffocating or oppressive.  I have a client who told me she is much nicer to her husband because she has something special going on (her affair) that is just for her.  She states she is more patient with the family, less resentful, and “less bitchy.”
Some may judge these happily married women who cheat as they claim they like their husband enough, (love them, too), have a shared history with them, have children to raise, developed a life together that for the most part works, have acquired financial resources they don’t want to split up and are friends.  But until any of us have walked in their shoes and feel what they feel to make the choices they have made to manage the ramifications of those choices, I wouldn’t throw the first stone.  Albeit affairs are dishonest because they are hidden behaviors from the primary relationship, the rationale is the positive energy from the affair is keeping that primary relationship intact.  What works for some people don’t necessarily work for others.

In my professional and personal opinion, having a dialogue about possibly opening up your marriage is a much better place to start than to unilaterally make a decision to be open or polyamorous.  Betrayals are not good on the receiving end and I do not recommend anyone having an affair without thoughtful consideration about the consequences.

For more information on open marriages and affairs please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

 

 

Polyamory Or Monogamy

Polyamory or Monogamy Which One Is For You?  Polyamory means having simultaneous close emotional and possibly sexual relationships with two or more other individuals with the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned.  The growing practice of polyamory in the United States indicates a significant shift in the way marriage and intimate relationships have evolved over the past few decades.  For some individuals, monogamy could be a better choice and for others, polyamory may be a better fit.  How do you know which one is best for you? If you’re not sure what would work for you, I highly suggest you find out sooner rather than later, especially before you get involved in a committed relationship as changing your mind from monogamy to nonmonogamy without a discussion with your primary partner can be deemed an infidelity.   The emphasis in relationships is openness, caring, and mutual consent.  Being attracted to what another person might offer needn’t be an irreversible disintegration of the relationship.  Learning how to have a dialogue about possibly opening up your relationship can go far in keeping your relationship truthful, transparent,  and trusting.

As a Marriage Counselor, working with all types of couples, monogamous and nonmonogamous, I come across individuals who are in monogamous relationships where one partner makes a unilateral decision to open up their marriage.  And because that partner didn’t make his/her intentions explicit an infidelity has occurred.  In Affair Recovery, learning how to talk about possibly opening up your marriage is an option that could be considered.  See my blog: https://couplescounselorsandiego.com/relationships/id-like-open-marriage-conversation/

As a Marriage Counselor consensual non-monogamy and the New Monogamy is the preferred term in the academic world and is being talked about in Marital Therapy in my office as well as in other innovative clinicians’ offices throughout the country.  What I mean is, while serial monogamy is popular, lifelong monogamy is obsolete and whether we like it or not, polyamory is catching on.  Author Deborah Anapol gives pertinent information from her book “Love Without Limits.” see blog article https://couplescounselorsandiego.com/relationships/polyamory-monogamy-one/

It’s extremely rare these days to find someone who has had only one sexual partner or “significant other” throughout his or her life.  There are definitely some people who are far better off taking it one person at a time, and then there are those who can have multiple partners sequentially or at the same time.  There are those who practice polyamory with ingenuity and vulnerability and those who justify what they refer to as polyamory but is really self-deception and lack of integrity by indulging in multiple affairs as a means of hedonism.

What’s important is not so much the Glamour of multi-partner relating as it is allowing love to dictate the form rather than attempting to force love into whatever mold the mind has decided is right.  Polyamory is less about how many people you are having sex with or feeling love for than it is about allowing love, not lust, to lead you into whatever form is appropriate.

There are pros and cons to both polyamory and monogamy but the main point is that it is not a question whether it’s possible to have one partner or two or several or none at all but rather a question of whether to allow love to lead and surrender to the direction that love chooses rather than surrendering to cultural conditioning, peer pressure, social censure, or unruly emotions.

When love, not lust, is freed from restrictions dictated by law and society it very often veers from the monogamous standard our culture has sought to enforce.  Understanding and educating yourself about polyamory opens up discussion about the different realms of open relationships and multi-partnering. Some people find the aspect of allowing love to lead unfamiliar and often difficult to comprehend at first. Obtaining the information you need about the subject will help you gain better understanding and perspective that may be helpful to you in making an informed decision about alternatives to monogamy and the nuclear family.  In this day the incidence of polyamory is far higher than anyone suspects as people keep their private lives private.

Whether working with Monogamous Couples or Polyamorists I have no position on whether people, in general, should be monogamous or not.  That fact is that it is very rare to find anyone who has had only one sexual partner for his or her entire life.  Monogamy works for some people and does not for others.  It’s a matter of what works for you and your relationship.  Having a dialogue about what you want in your relationship is a start.  In Couples Counseling,  I help Couples initiate conversation that may seem difficult and make them feel vulnerable, as talking about what you want sexually is unfamiliar and awkward to some.  As a Marriage Counselor, I characterize my position on polyamory as pro-choice rather than antimonogamy and have no position on whether people in general “should” be monogamous or not.  Individuals need to do what is right for them.  There is no judgment or criticism in however you choose to relate in your relationship.

What works for one person may not be the same for all people or even for the same person in different stages of their life.

For more information on polyamory and if it is suited for you and your relationship please give me a call at (858) 735-1139 or email me at [email protected]

 

Lucid Dreams Can Make Your Day

Lucid Dreams Can Make Your Day.  As a Marriage Counselor, I work with couples who want to enhance their relationship. I utilize many techniques within the field of psychotherapy to do just that.  As every couple is different and has their own unique circumstances for moving forward I add other methods to this process.  Incorporating fantasies or at least having a dialogue about a fantasy can make for very hot sex between you and your partner.lucid dreamsI’m entering my 20th year of marriage.  I completed nine years of my first marriage.  I have been working with couples for over 23 years.  After the honeymoon period, relationships can become routine, and as some of my clients say….boring.  As a married Marriage Counselor I understand relationships and the ebbs and flows we experience throughout the years. Because relationships can become mundane at times it doesn’t mean we stop loving our partners.  Novelty tends to bring about interest and talking about situations that pertain to sex and fantasies is a sure fire way to ignite excitement. We all want to feel excited every now and then.  It’s fun and keeps life interesting.  It fuels us out of bed to go work and want to maintain our responsibilities.

Sharing fantasies is one tool that helps transform sexual relationships.  The feelings that are generated through the discussion about fantasies or in this case dreams are magical.  On 12/4/2017:

lucid dreams

I had the most romantic lucid dream last night.  I was walking around what appeared to be a hotel lobby. Went snooping around several floors not knowing what I’d find.  Ended up seeing a friend who I have a deep crush on who was sleeping in an open area.  He was on his stomach.  He woke up, lifted his head and saw me staring at him.  In my haste, I ran out of the area a little embarrassed and hide by a coffee/snack shop.  He found me rather quickly.  The cashier greeted him and obviously knew him.  Asked him if he needed anything.  As he moved toward me he picked me up in his arms and replied…..”no all I need is Sarah.”  Then we locked eyes and had the most intimate open mouth kiss.

I woke up feeling happy and energized.  I’m not a morning person so I was pretty nice to everyone in the household, including my Silky Terrier….LOL.  That evening I shared my dream with my husband, who is the most understanding man. He smiled and said, “wow, that’s pretty good!” You can imagine what transpired that evening.

The point of the story is in healthy relationships sharing fantasies can generate sexual energy if done in the context of a helpful tool. There is a learning curve to understanding how to do this.  For more information on how please contact me at (858) 735-1139.