Month: February 2016

affair prevention

You may have heard the expression, “Affairs don’t begin in bed.” This just means that there are often a series of poor boundaries and bad choices that happen long before the affair. They are preventable and here’s how:

  1. Realize that you are capable of having an affair. We all are. You need to realize this or else you will not enforce boundaries like you should. I hear this a lot, “I never thought I would do something like this.” And we never do. Good people do bad things. all. the. time. You are not immune.
  2. Talk to your spouse. Are you unhappy in your marriage? Feel as though something is missing? Angry? You are vulnerable to making decisions based on your (conscious or unconscious) desire to fill that missing piece and be happy. If talking doesn’t work, try counseling! Ignoring a problem will not make it go away. In fact, it will most likely get worse.
  3. Get healthy. If you have an untreated addiction or mental illness, please seek treatment. You are more vulnerable to having an affair.
  4. Set clear boundaries. Decide with your spouse what is acceptable behavior with the opposite sex. I can’t make my clients be as conservative as I am in my own marriage with this, but I have one rule that I am adamant about: do not complain about your partner with someone of the opposite sex. In fact, be very wary of who you complain about your partner with in general. Choose one or two trustworthy friends of the same sex when you need to vent on occasion. Also, use facebook wisely. I don’t think you need to be friends with the “one who got away.” Block the person or get rid of your account if you are struggling with this. I have seen too many affairs begin on facebook. Not worth it!
  5. Be accountable. You will feel attraction to someone other than your spouse at some point. That is normal. What is not ok is keeping this a secret (although you do not need to tell your spouse about this unless you have acted on the attraction). Hiding things and trying to push them down has a way of making them get bigger. Find that trustworthy same sex friend and say something like this: “there’s just something about him /her that I find attractive. I will have extra boundaries with this person and if it continues to grow I will remove this person from my life to protect my marriage and family.”
  6. Learn about love. Love is a choice. You will always feel something is missing if you believe love is the same thing as the “in love feeling.” Hollywood and fairy tales set us up to believe that love is always supposed to be exciting, easy and make us happy (affairs are exciting…that is much of the draw).

If this blog is too late, please know that I have seen grace and forgiveness in sessions with clients. It will not be an easy road, but there is hope and healing is possible. I hope you’ll seek wise counsel and begin the process, friend. You are not alone.

how to not start a fight

Most folks believe that communication is the key to a happy marriage. And yet, usually when couples say they have a problem with communication they actually mean something like this: “we don’t know how to talk to each other without it turning into a fight” or “we don’t know how to talk to each other anymore.” Their problem is more specifically conflict resolution and a lack of intimacy/friendship.

So, my job is to figure out what folks really mean when they say, “we need to learn how to communicate better.” In many instances, I’m helping people learn how to start tough conversations about feelings and needs in the hopes of decreasing the chance of defensiveness and subsequently, an argument. Ultimately, my goal is not to prevent couples from fighting; it is to help them treat each other with respect.

A few tips for softening your start up:

  • Think before you speak. Calm down, decide what you really want to communicate, and avoid the words “always” and “never.”
  • Put yourself in his or her shoes. Do you believe your partner deliberately and intentionally wanted to hurt or upset you? Try to lead with   some other softening statements like, “I know you’ve been busy…” “I don’t think you meant to…” or  “I can understand why…”
  • Be specific about the behavior you would like changed. Name-calling and character bashing are just mean (and do not help get your point across)! Neither does yelling. If you want to be heard, don’t be mean, stop yelling, and speak rationally.
  • Stop fighting to be right. If one of you “wins,” you’ve both lost. Understanding is the new “right” and if you achieve it, you both are winners.
  • It’s ok to let some things go. But do not, I repeat: do not stuff your feelings and allow yourself to get bitter or resentful.

Good luck getting started!

Depression 101

Chances are that you or someone you know has struggled with depression. I truly believe knowledge is power, so…

Here’s my “quick and dirty” fact sheet regarding this ugly beast:
  1. The longer depression remains untreated, the harder it is to treat. It is treatable though, and there is hope and you are worth it.
  2. The symptoms of depression make depression worse. (i.e.: when you’re depressed you most likely have low self-esteem, want to isolate from people, and have difficulty completing everyday tasks. The aforementioned stuff, plus the rest of depression’s symptoms will make you feel worse).
  3. Another way of saying #2 is that depression will lie to you. It will tell you that you aren’t worth it, you will never amount to anything, and also that you are ugly and stupid and nobody likes you. Lies. All lies.
  4. Depression makes the simplest of activities feel monumentally more difficult. (i.e.: getting out of bed, taking a shower…)
  5. Women are more likely to suffer from depression.
  6. The combination of good psychotherapy and proper medication has been proven to be the most effective treatment of depression.
  7. However, not everyone with depression necessarily needs to be medicated. It depends on the severity and length of time depressed, as well as other factors.
  8. Regular exercise has been proven to effectively elevate mood, energy, and self-esteem.
  9. Mind, body, and spirit are all connected. Folks with physical problems, illnesses, women who have just given birth, people struggling with addiction, childhood trauma, etc. are more likely to suffer from depression.
  10. You are more “at risk” for depression if it runs in your family. Awareness of this can help you take preventative measures and notice “warning signs” in yourself.
  11. You are more likely to experience depression again if you have had depression in the past. Refer to my comment about awareness from #10.
  12. Clinical depression is diagnosed using the following criteria: http://www.mental-health-today.com/dep/dsm.htm
  13. I’m going to repeat #1: If you suspect you are depressed or are becoming depressed, get help as soon as you can. The longer you wait the more difficult it becomes to treat. I highly recommend first seeking a skilled professional counselor who can help you sort out whether or not medication is necessary or appropriate. He or she should be trained to offer depression-helping proven therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

You are worth it and you do not have to go through this alone.

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