Why Do Couples Fight?

Why Do Couples Fight? Fighting (relationship conflicts) can actually be healthy. Fighting demonstrates separateness and passion. I work with couples who claim they never fight and have many similarities yet do not feel the intimacy needed for that emotional connection. Over the years being polite and deferring, which I refer to as being “conflict avoidant” gets them to the state of feeling like roommates, and bad roommates at that.

In marriage, conflict is inevitable. Even the happiest couples argue. They argue over inadequate attention or affection, jealousy and infidelity, chores and responsibilities, control and dominance, future plans and money, children, in-laws, and sex to name a few.

And these arguments will continue over and over again if tools for communication aren’t acquired for being able to come to a consensus or compromise. As personal issues tend to trigger relationship issues it would be good to get yourself more grounded/(differentiated), the active ongoing process of a person being able to define their thoughts, their feelings, their wishes and their desires to one another and to be able to tolerate the partner doing the same thing. Which isn’t always easy.

differentiated couples having conversation despite conflict

Undifferentiated couple arguing shouting blaming each other of problem

When fighting fair know where your responsibility lies and try not point the finger. Your partner should do that, as well. Couples therapy pioneer, Ellen Bader, says “stay in your own skin” when managing fights. That’s basically what arguments consist of. Two perspectives trying to get one another to acknowledge the other. Both are correct but what do you do about it? Having a dialog (conversation), showing each other empathy for their feelings, and validating their point of view is the place to start. After which, a consensus or a compromise is to be executed.

Differentiated individuals are able to have such conversations. In helping people who ask the question…”should I stay or should I go?” I stress the importance of couples having the where with all to maintain their sense of self in their relationship. In relationships, the individual is independent in an interdependent union. Keeping good boundaries enables both to get their needs met and receive the harmony desired to live a happy and prosperous life together.

My book: Happy Me Happy We: Six Steps To Know Yourself So You Know What You Want In a Relationship helps you better understand about concentrating on yourself and becoming that differentiated (grounded) self.

For more information contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

Are You A Woman Of Substance?

Are You A Woman Of Substance? “A woman of substance is not only a woman of independent means but an individual who manages her inner child appropriately.”- Sarah Ruggera  There is a level of developmental maturity in both professional and personal life. Chronological age does not necessarily mean you show up in a mature manner when things get tough. On the contrary, you can be 50 years old and act like a 7 year old when you don’t get what you want.

When raising daughters it’s important to teach them that developing a sense of self is the most important thing she can do for herself. Secondly, it’s important for women to maintain that sense of self so she has good boundaries to meet her needs, as well as the needs of others she cares about. As women we are socialized to be the caretaker, homemaker, default parent, etc. If we choose to have a career it somehow adds stress to the harmony of a household. The professional women I work with who bring in substantial resources say they feel like they are doing everything to keep the family homeostasis. Some woman lose their sense of self (identity) when they couple up with a partner who is still stuck in the 2oth Century. The new rules for marriage are quite different in the 21st Century as there is more equitability between the sexes. Both in the job market and at home. Relationships come with an expectation of being less transactional and more emotional. Being companions is elevated to wanting more than meeting goals. Emotional connectedness is a big part of couples being able to choose to grow old together.

Are You A Woman Of Substance?

In past generations, women married for security, having children, and maintaining the household. Men married for procreation, as well, having a partner to caretake the family household, and sex. This sounds chauvanistic, however, past generations were brought up in a Patriarchy society where women were once considered property.

A woman of substance conducts herself with:

Patience

Honesty

Integrity

Awareness that life consists of more than money

Peacefulness

Love

steadfastness

A woman of substance possesses virtues that make others around her notice that she is not shallow

Knowledge is empowerment. Besides virtue and other character qualities, a woman of substance has knowledge. This does not mean just knowledge about makeup or hairstyles, but knowledge about subjects of interest to others. A woman of substance will educate herself fully about current issues. She will know about crises and concerns within her city, state and nation. She will want to take action to do all she can to help, whether by writing a letter to the editor or running for office. She will be aware of and participate in the political process.

A woman of substance has an independent life outside of her interdependent relationship. Her happiness is not entirely wrapped up in her job or her significant other/husband. She finds enjoyment in hobbies such as reading, writing or sports. She enjoys nights out with friends who share her same interests.

A woman of substance values her family highly. She cares about building a firm relationship with her husband if she is married, not a shallow relationship based on first-attraction feelings. She knows that love is built through the challenging and good times, and she does not quit when things get rough. Her children respect her for her kindness and firmness. She tries to spend time with her children and be there for their school and extracurricular activities. But never puts all her energy in one particular interest. There is work/life balance

Setbacks In Affair Recovery

Setbacks In Affair Recovery. Affair recovery with me starts with a 3-hour couples intensive. Both the Affair Partner and the Hurt Partner share their narratives and I take them through a series of affair questions to understand meanings and motives of why the affair happened. The single best indicator for affair recovery is for the Affair Partner to gain some insight about why they did what they did and articulate why it won’t happen again while the Hurt Partner manages the range of emotions that come up from the affair.  Affair recovery consists of follow up sessions to obtain traction within the healing process. The first few weeks and months after an affair is revealed are the hardest, obviously. Affair recovery is an ongoing process and healing doesn’t take place overnight. In fact, the process can take months, even years. While in recovery there are a number of ways a couple can derail their affair healing.

Setbacks In Affair Recovery

You may have serious doubts about your marriage surviving. It’s important to remember, your marriage CAN survive this, and can become even better on the other side. Both spouses have a role in recovery but, to be real, the burden falls more on the one who strayed. The truth is the Affair Partner holds the keys to much of this recovery process.

To prevent relapse you must be aware of the most common setbacks in affair recovery and marital healing:

  • Continuing any communication with the affair partner’s lover will destroy healing in your marriage.  A cease and desist is necessary.
  • Maintaining secrets, lies and hiding facts. You must be transparent at all times and willing to share any unforeseeable contact with the affair partner’s lover.
  • Being unsympathetic to your spouse’s pain and trauma.
  • Shutting down any communication and questions about the affair. The affair partner shys away from talking about the affair due to guilt and shame. And who wants to go there?!

  • Not being willing to do whatever it takes to rebuild trust. Whatever it takes means you follow through with affair recovery requirements.
  • Rushing and being impatient with your spouse’s healing process. Again, time will make the hurt a thing of the past, but this doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes months/years.
  • To the Hurt Partner: Staying stuck in unforgiveness toward your unfaithful spouse. Being stuck for a specific period of time is understandable and appropriate. When an excessive amount of time has past and the Hurt Partner doesn’t forgive or doesn’t want to forgive becomes a problem.

Setbacks In Affair Recovery

As a Marriage and Family Therapist and Affair Recovery Specialist, I have helped more than two thousand couples find joy in relationships. Knowing how to initiate conversation, share thoughts and feelings, and ask for what you need and want makes for being in the relationship of your dreams. Understanding what is required for Affair Recovery is the first step in healing.

Please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit by website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com if you want the same.

 

What Husbands Want Wives To Know About Sex

What Husbands Want Wives To Know About Sex.  Ladies, men want you to know they don’t always want sex.  As a  Marriage Counselor, I listen to wives say their husbands “always” want “it.”  The main reason problems arise in a couple’s sex life is due to lack of communication and understanding.  Each has their own perspectives about sex.  Finding and understanding those differences is the first step to achieving and maintaining a passionate, healthy, and incredibly fulfilling sex life.  What your husbands really want you to know is that sex means something to them just like sex means something to you.  Often times it’s “I just want you to want me”.

What Husbands Want Wives To Know About Sex

I want to share this piece of information from Mission:Wife as it includes a lot of what husbands in my practice talk about and want their wives to understand.  It articulates some of their thoughts and can be helpful in putting in perspective what sex means to them and why women experience these behaviors.

As a Marriage Counselor, I help women understand if they can make it a priority to do some of the points below their husbands will be willing to do more of what they ask of them and want to be there for them emotionally, be communicative, and will feel closer to them.  I think #5 is something most wives don’t realize.

What Husbands Want Wives To Know About Sex

  1.  Sex is not optional in his mind To a husband, sex is about right up there on the list with eating and breathing. Can he survive without it? Yes, but why should he? Sex is to the man, what talking/communication is to the woman. If you would ask several wives if it would be ok if their husband didn’t listen or communicate with them for weeks at a time you obviously wouldn’t like that. Frequent sex = happy, attentive, listening, cuddling, caring, talking husband.
  2. Husbands use sex to reconnectThink of it this way: Let’s use the example of a cordless phone (bear with me here). Let’s say the husband is the cordless handset, and the wife is the base. The handset may hold a charge for a while off the base, maybe even for a couple of days. But sooner or later, the handset is going to have to be recharged/reconnected to the base to keep the battery charged, the programming updated, and the phone usable. When your husband comes home from a long day at work, and the first thing on his mind is sex, it’s not that he’s some sort of sex addict, it’s just him longing to “return to his base” and reconnect with his wife in an “I’ve had a long day, and I need assurance that no matter how hard life gets, you and I are ok” way.
  3. He doesn’t always want to be the one asking Most husbands are fine with being the “sexual aggressor” most of the time, but if he is ALWAYS the one that is trying to start something, he starts to feel like you just “put up with him”, and don’t really care about sex. Every husband’s fantasy is to be sitting there on the couch, watching TV or whatever, and have his wife come over out of nowhere (obviously the kids aren’t around), straddle him, and start going at it. He wants to know that his wife DESIRES him sexually, not just PUTS UP WITH HIM sexually.This is a huge boost to his self-esteem and overall confidence.
  4. He thinks you’re GORGEOUS, and you can’t change that – It doesn’t matter how you feel about that leftover baby fat, or how you cringe when you look in the mirror and see those stretch marks – your husband couldn’t care less! He thinks you’re the most beautiful woman on the face of the earth, and even when he tells you this, you dismiss it and say stuff like “thanks, hon, but I don’t think so”, or “well, you may feel that way, but nobody else does”. Please don’t do this! Your husband isn’t giving you lip service by telling you he thinks your body is amazing – he truly thinks it is! You have to learn to accept the compliment as being honest and say thank you, instead of trying to play it off.
  5. 5. Sometimes he just wants to look at you NAKED I can already see you rolling your eyes, but hear me out. If your husband is working hard to avert his eyes from every other sexual source besides his wife, not viewing any porn, not checking out the girl on the billboard, etc – he has a God-given need/desire/appetite to admire his wife’s naked body. I know this may seem strange to you, but it’s true. So, when you’re getting dressed in the morning, or ready for bed at night, don’t try to position yourself so he can’t see those parts of you. It’s ok! He’s not going to attack you and want to have sex (as long as you have a regular sex life), he just wants to appreciate your beauty for a little bit! Remember, you are his only sexual source! Wouldn’t you rather have him looking at you than some billboard model? I’ve heard a lot of wives say that they are scared if they allow their husbands to see them nude, they will want to have sex right that minute. If it’s been a week since you’ve made love, this may be true, but if you have sex regularly, sometimes it’s nice for him to just be able to admire what he thinks is the most amazing body he has ever seen. So linger a little while when you bend over to pick up your socks off the floor or let your robe “accidentally” fall open a little when he walks by. Not only will he love it, but you just might find yourself thinking about sex a little more during the day, leading to a greater chance of you desiring intimacy later that night.
  6. He loves it when you surprise him By this I mean do something totally out of the ordinary, just for his benefit, and to see the look on his face. A few examples would be: Going out to dinner, and while you’re waiting for the waitress to seat you, lean over and whisper in his ear “You won’t have to take my panties off later when we get home because I’m not wearing any”. Or after the kids go to bed and you’re going to curl up and watch a movie together, go into your room to “get your PJ’s on” and come back out with no top on, telling him you’re going to need his help keeping warm, because somebody told you it was“topless movie night”. Once you pick his jaw up off the floor, you might just find he isn’t paying much attention to the movie anymore. Another one would be to surprise him when he is taking a shower by jumping in the shower with him that “you’re having a hard time using your hands this morning, so he is going to have to help soap you up today.” I’ve heard several wives say that they love to see the look on their husband’s face when they surprise him like that. You’ll have your husband wondering what’s gotten into you!
  7. If you have to say “no” to sex, watch how you say it I know it seems silly, but you have no idea how hard it is sometimes, for a man to get up the nerve to ask his wife if she wants to have sex. Usually he will try to “test the waters” first, by hinting at it, or maybe a little grab here and there, to see how you’ll respond. All this time there is a little argument going on in his head sounding something like this – “Just ask her! No, last time I asked her flat-out, she rolled her eyes and said something about that’s all I think about. Yeah, but this time it might work. Come on, I really want to make love. Can’t she see that? Maybe I’ll ask her later after dinner. Yeah, I’ll help with the kids and the dishes, and then ask later. (fast forward to 7pm) Ok, see, I got the dishes done, maybe I should hint at it now. Nah, I’ll wait until the kids go to bed. As soon as the kids go to bed, she’ll be able to think about me. She has to know it’s been a couple of days, I’m sure she’ll be ok with it. Right? (The kids go to bed) Ok, I think I’ll ask now! Wait, she looks like she’s got something going there on the computer, I’ll give her some time to get that done. I’ll just ask her when we go to bed, it will be more of a sure bet then anyway. (10pm rolls around, and they’re crawling into bed) Ok, I’m going to ask! “hey hon, do you want to make love?” This is how it goes in a guy’s head when he’s thinking about asking for sex. Why? Because guys have this strange tendency to make sexual rejection (even with a good reason), a personal rejection. Since the need for regular sex with his wife is so much a part of who he is, any rejection, feels like a rejection of HIM to your husband. I know this is hard to understand, and wives don’t mean it that way, but this goes for almost every husband I have ever talked to. Now obviously there are times when you are going to have to say “not tonight hon”, but the key is HOW YOU SAY IT. Don’t do it in a nonchalant or dismissing way. Remember, he has been working up the nerve to ask you for the past several hours most times. When you deny him, say something like this – “Hon, I love to have sex with you, but I just can’t do it tonight because (fill in the blank)” Then if he’s really pent-up, you could offer to help him out in another way besides intercourse, or give him a realistic date to “get a rain check”, like tomorrow morning, or the next evening. That way he feels like you understand he has a legitimate need, he feels like you care, and he feels like you want to help him as soon as possible. You’re still saying “not tonight”, but he doesn’t feel like you don’t care, you’re just blowing him off, or that you think sex is not important. One other thing – sometimes if your husband has been thinking about you all day, and then for whatever reason, you have to turn him down that night, he may feel like he “can’t wait” until tomorrow (no fault of yours , sometimes it’s just hard to turn it off, after it’s on). If you roll over and offer him your help to get a quick release before you go to sleep, he will sleep much better, and you’ll be a hero in your husband’s eyes. You just showed him that you care, even if you can’t offer him sex right now. I can’t understate how much this will mean to him.
  8. He LOVES to see you turned onThere is nothing quite as sexy to a husband, as seeing his wife thoroughly turned on, and enjoying sex. In the same way, there’s nothing quite as discouraging to a husband, as you lay there with an almost bored look on your face, and with the attitude of “would you just get it over with please, so I can go to sleep”. To your husband, his ability to arouse, stimulate, tease, drive you crazy with desire, and help you climax, is a huge part of what he feels his “worth” is as a husband. If he feels like he is failing in bed, he is going to be discouraged in other areas of life too. In contrast, if he feels his wife thinks he’s amazing in the bedroom, he is going to be much more confident and have a “I can conquer the world” attitude. You can help this by showing and telling him (not in a faking it way) how much he turns you on or makes you feel good, as you’re making love. Obviously, he’s not going to do everything right, but make sure you let him know when he DOES hit the right spot or do something you find particularly hot. Now I’ve heard wives ask the question “but what about the times that I’m not really into it, but am doing it because I love my husband, and know he needs it tonight?” Husbands understand you’re not going to have the same drive for sex that he has every time. He gets that. All he’s hoping for when this is the case, and you’re just giving him a “quickie” for release, is to not make him feel like he’s annoying for wanting it, or that he’s interrupting your day and you have so many other things you could be doing. He needs to feel accepted by you, even when you’re not particularly into it this time. Smile and give him that “come here baby, I know you need it and I’m here for you” attitude. Whispering a little encouragement in his ear in the process is a huge bonus too.
  9. Be a student of your husband but the same goes for you wives. Learn and observe what your husband likes in the bedroom. What color of panties/bra does he like best on you? What parts of your body drive him most wild? What turns him on the most? What turns him off? Does he like it when you express yourself loudly when you have sex? What is his favorite position/location? A wife who is willing to learn the ins and outs of what her husband likes most when it comes to sex will have one of the happiest husbands on earth.

Lastly, he loves it when you sexually flirt with him.  Whether it’s the “for his eyes only” text you send him during the workday, suggesting what you’re going to do later, or the surprise little “grab” you give him when he’s helping you dry the dishes after dinner, flirting with your husband this way lets him know you desire him and are thinking about the next time you are going to be together. Little things like wearing cute panties, or a skirt (there’s something about a skirt that drives most husbands wild) with some sexy underwear underneath, go a long way in letting your husband know that you love being his only source of sexual attention, and get a kick out of keeping him guessing with what you’re going to come up with next.  It’s easy to go into “mommy mode” and just wear what’s comfortable and practical, but remember, it drives your husband wild if you give him a little “eye candy” when possible.

For more information please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

What Stage Is Infidelity At High Risk?

What Stage Is Infidelity At High Risk? Seems it doesn’t matter if it’s been two, four, or seven years; more studies are finding that whatever year mile marker you’re in can place their toll on a marriage. Whatever recent statistic you choose to accept couples tend to head for divorce after certain periods of their married life. Whether it’s after the two year mark, the four or five year mark, or that infamous 7-year mark – more than double the number are divorced after they meet their relationship peak for whatever their reasons. This period of time is comically referred to as the seven-year itch.  There are Four Phases couples go through in relationships. There is the Honeymoon Stage, the Conflict Stage, the Stability Stage.

 

What Stage Is Infidelity At High Risk?

1.  The Honeymoon Stage is where you feel the most in love. For most couples, the beginning of a relationship is the easiest. Some say it’s like a drug addiction.  This is where you feel the most chemistry. You seem to be on the same page about most issues. Getting along is almost effortless. Some couples describe this as a merging of two people.  The Honeymoon phase typically last about eighteen months to 2 years.  Part of the thrill of falling in love is due to the fact that you see only the best in your partner.

2.  The Conflict Stage – As time goes on, each partner realizes that everything really isn’t perfect. This is the Conflict Stage where power struggles emerge. It is typically around the 3rd or 4th year as each look at their differences and respond to them where they either predict a happy relationship or continuing struggles. This is the stage where most couples break up or survive.

This is where Couples Counseling comes in. Marital discord peaks around the 4th year and then starts to taper off.  This period of time may be a combination of dwindling sexual chemistry and adjusting to each other’s idiosyncrasies.  The early years of marriage are when you replace the illusions with reality.  The “good behavior” put on at the beginning of the relationship is now normalized by being “just you” which could include being messy, displaying short temper, and not being as romantic as before.

3.  The Stability Stage is when conflict resolution and coping skills are learned and both have clear boundaries about each other.  The relationship is more balanced and both partner’s are usually getting their needs met and are fairly happy. There is commitment to the relationship for growing old together. This is where the couple chooses each other consciously deciding they want a future together and whether have children by co-creating or blending families from previous relationships and making a stronger commitment for longevity in their union.

 

What Stage Is Infidelity At High Risk?

As couples move through these phases over years and decades, life happens. As wonderful as it is to have children, most couples experience a sharp decline in their marital satisfaction during that time. If we live long enough, we’ll lose jobs, face significant set-backs, and dear friends and family will pass on. Our partners will inevitably disappoint and hurt us.

The marker of a good marriage isn’t whether or not the dark times will come (they most certainly will), it’s whether or not the dark times will permanently damage the relationship or whether they’re used to eventually create an even deeper level of commitment, intimacy, and sense of shared purpose.

People often confuse the rush of excitement and infatuation that characterizes the start of a relationship with true love. They are then disappointed when this rush fades and they encounter serious challenges in the relationship. These challenges, though, can be a doorway into deeper and more satisfying phases of the relationship.

Call me for more information about infidelity and affair recovery.