Marriage.com recently featured me, along with other couples therapists, with ideas for Expert tips for romantic date idea for couples. I suggested that there is no need to be expensive or extravagant with date ideas, simple and inexpensive can be just as good for building romance between you and your partner.
O, The Oprah Magazine recently featured some of my ideas in their Romantic Fall Date Ideas article. Read all of them here:
For many couples, the discovery of a spousal affair is the ultimate betrayal. And yet, the betrayal by one does not necessarily decrease the love of either party for the other. When you still love someone but the trust has been significantly damaged, is it possible to mend the relationship? Can marriages be rebuilt after an affair?
Dr. Janis Spring is a clinical psychologist and author of After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful and How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To. Through her work she has found that relationships can become even stronger after such a betrayal, provided the couples take some crucial steps.
Take Responsibility for the Pain Caused
Many unfaithful spouses are overcome with guilt and, because of it, urge their partners to put the deed behind them so they can move on and heal. This is a mistake, and one certainly not fair to the other spouse.
According to Dr. Spring, the offender must take responsibility and “bear witness” to the pain they have caused rather than defend or deflect their actions. This step is vital before the couple can begin the healing process.
Avoid Cheap Forgiveness
Sometimes, in an effort to save a marriage, the wronged partner quickly forgives the cheater before he or she has had a full chance to feel their anger and hurt. Spring calls this “cheap forgiveness” and warns that it can set up a marriage for future infidelities.
The behavior, she has noticed, is prevalent among individuals who are more afraid of being alone than staying in an unhealthy relationship with an unfaithful partner. But, cheap forgiveness essentially lets the cheater off scott-free and sends a message that the behavior is okay.
There are some situations where, even when only one person has strayed, both parties share guilt. While the unfaithful person has to take responsibility, own up to their guilt, and allow their partner to vent, the wronged party must also acknowledge their own role. What led to feelings of emotional distance and isolation? Did their own behavior cause their spouse to stray?
Shared responsibility is necessary for healing and true intimacy.
Once full responsibility is taken and grieving has happened, it is now time for both parties to “let it go” and begin coming back together. A couple has no chance of rebuilding trust if the wronged partner is going to hold onto the resentment and use it against their spouse in future situations.
Above all else, Spring advises that rebuilding trust after an affair takes time. Each couple is different. While some may feel closure after six months, others may need a year or year and a half to fully come together. Some couples may find they need the guidance of a therapist to move through their issues. But the important thing is that both parties remain committed and do the work.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
Relationships always start out on a high note. Your mutual attraction combined with your commonalities stirs up your feelings, while finding out about your differences and exploring the world together makes your relationship fresh and exciting. When your relationship starts to become more intimate, you may start to wonder when the right time is for you to open up to your partner about your past sexual abuse.
Being a survivor of sexual assault is, unfortunately, not uncommon. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in three women and one in six men in the United States experience some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. So when is the right time to open up to your partner about your past, and how do you tell them?
It’s important as a survivor that you are in control of when you share your story. Center yourself around your own needs and share only when you’re ready, and not before. You may need to discuss it first with a therapist, counselor, friend or support group.
Know What You Need
Know in advance what you’ll need to get through this discussion. You may need your partner to not ask questions, or to not touch you while you’re talking. Be honest and upfront, and ask for support when you need it.
Prepare for a Response
How people respond to your story will vary widely. Hearing sexual abuse disclosures affect both the person telling the story, as well as the person listening. Your partner may be silent for a while as they take the information and consider what to say. Give them time to process it. If it will make you more comfortable, you can ask them to give you some time before you discuss the matter again.
Opening up and discussing difficult, sensitive topics with your partner is never easy. But these challenging times are often the ones that create milestones in your relationship, and will ultimately bring the two of you closer than ever.
Are you a sexual assault survivor and in need of guidance and counseling? A licensed therapist can help. Call my office today and let’s set up a time to talk.
Many of us are all too familiar with this uncomfortable scenario: someone initially catches your eye, but for one reason or another you lose interest. After letting them know you’ve changed your mind and are no longer interested, they keep messaging you. Or perhaps you’ve never been interested in someone, but they seem to think you’re wrong about your own feelings and keep trying to persuade you otherwise. Dealing with unwanted romantic attention online can be annoying, anxiety-inducing, and harrowing in many ways. Here are some precautions you can take to do the best you can to avoid these kinds of interactions.
Look for Friends
If you’re just looking for friendships to start off, then make it clear from the beginning that you’re not looking for a relationship. Any woman can tell you that this doesn’t always work to dissuade a persistent harasser, but it’s a great place to start covering your bases.
Start Out Incognito
Don’t give out your cell phone number to anyone you haven’t met in person. Use a Google Voice number or use another messaging app that doesn’t show your phone number and has a blocking feature just in case. You can also get a special email address just for dating.
Don’t tell people where you live or where you work. You can tell them what you do and what city you live in but keep the details to yourself.
Go Somewhere New
When you meet, don’t take them to your favorite spots. Take them somewhere you’re unlikely to return so you don’t run the risk of bumping into them if you have to break things off.
If You’re Just Not Interested
If things aren’t going well and you need to break it off, it’s important that you’re very clear with the person that you’re not interested in pursuing anything romantic with them and don’t want to talk to them anymore. Don’t try to “drop hints” or sugar coat your message. All this does is create wiggle room for the perpetrator to start thinking that “maybe there’s a chance.”
Instead, be direct, and be honest with how you feel. As you’re letting the person know you’re not interested, make sure your message ends with a “final goodbye” at the end. “I’m sorry, but I’m not interested at all,” or “I don’t see this going anywhere romantic. Good luck.” Attempts to take the sting out of your message with emojis or compliments will only muddy the waters and your suitor might take this as a cue to amp up his pursuits.
Stop Responding and/or Block
If they keep responding to you, ignore them as best you can despite how tempting it is to respond negatively. Don’t agree to be friends. If they continue to pester, block their number. Do not answer calls, respond to texts or agree to meet for closure, to return items, or any other reason.
It might seem cold or cruel, but it’s not. It would be cruel to both of you to continue any sort of relationship out of guilt or a sense of duty. It’s better for both of you to move forward and find the right match.
Are you searching for a relationship and need help navigating the single life? A qualified mental health professional can help. Call me today and let’s set up a time to talk.
When infidelity occurs in a relationship, it can be very devastating for the parties involved. Infidelity involves breaking a promise to be completely faithful to your partner, and when it happens, it erases the trust that existed in the relationship. Dealing with infidelity can be pretty challenging and it raises tough questions. Should you stay? Should you forgive? Can trust be rebuilt? Will things ever be the same? If you’ve just found out that your partner has been unfaithful and you’re not sure of what to do, this article is for you.
It’s important to note that infidelity can occur in any relationship. We often think it’s never going to happen in our relationship, but existing statistics show that infidelity occurs in about a third of relationships.
Why do people cheat?
People cheat for a variety of reasons, and it rarely has anything to do with the person that’s being cheated on. You might think your partner was unfaithful because of something you did or didn’t do, but that’s rarely true. Here are some reasons people cheat:
– To feel desirable
– Impulse/Lack of self-control
– Impaired decision making under the influence of drugs or alcohol
– Sex addiction
Remember that none of these reasons is an excuse, and the cheater made choices.
Can a relationship survive infidelity?
Yes, it’s possible for a relationship to survive infidelity, but it means that both partners have to be willing to work hard at rebuilding the trust that has been broken, healing, and making the relationship strong again.
Here are a few tips:
– Talk about the affair- It’s important for both parties to have an open and honest discussion about the affair. It also helps to talk to a relationship counselor together, and explore ways that you both can heal faster.
– Remember the good times- Cheating is painful, but it helps to reminisce about the good times and all the wonderful things your partner did for you in the past.
– Tackle old issues- Now is a great time to tackle all the underlying issues in your relationship and create a fresh start.
– Practice radical honesty– Try to be completely honest with each other about how you feel and how you want to be loved.
– Set a timetable for recovery- Both of you need to be intentional about your recovery. The cheater needs to allow the betrayed party ample time for healing, and honor the other person’s recovery process.
– Start something new- Remember how excited you both were when you just fell in love? Rekindle that magic by doing an activity you both enjoy together, and incorporating more romance into your relationship.
– Reaffirm your commitment- There needs to be an understanding that infidelity will never occur in the relationship again, and a willingness to keep that promise by both parties.
In rebuilding a relationship damaged by infidelity, patience is key. With the support of each other, family, friends and a good therapist it is possible for a couple to move past an affair and become even stronger. I offer relationship counseling services for couples who find themselves in this difficult situation, and you can contact me to book a session.
It’s the natural course of things in any romantic relationship: as time passes, the “newness” and “butterflies” gives way to routine. You always know what to expect from your partner, and you’ve heard all their stories. While your love for your partner has grown and matured along with you and your relationship, it’s not uncommon for what was once a fiery passion to have fizzled out over the years.
All areas of a relationship takes work, and romance in your relationship is no exception. If you’re looking for ways to stoke the fire of romance with your spouse or significant other, below are some tips that can help.
It’s always more difficult to hear than to be heard. You might feel like you know everything there is to know about your partner, but people change. Make an effort to ask more questions, and really listen to your partner’s responses with interest. Ask them how their day was, probe them about their interests, and talk to them as you would if you were getting to know a new friend.
Research has shown that physical touch is a form of non-verbal communication that satisfies the desire for a physical connection. A lack of physical touch is often construed as a lack of physical affection, which can greatly decrease relationship satisfaction. Show your partner affection by making an effort to touch your partner’s skin through a hug, a touch of their arm, hand or back. Hold hands and kiss more often.
Try New Activities Together
No matter how long you’ve been with your partner, there are bound to be things you’ve wanted to do together that you haven’t gotten around to. Or perhaps there are things you’d love to try that you never thought of before, if only you could discover them. Whether it’s joining a hiking group, trying a new wine bar, or exploring your sexual fantasies, enjoying new and different activities together is sure to help bring back the spark that may be missing from your relationship.
Revisit the Past
Take a weekend trip to your honeymoon spot, revisit the place where you had your first date, where you got engaged or your old stomping grounds. Revisiting familiar places when you were just getting to know each other will help remind you both of the how’s and why’s of your love story.
Keep in mind that relationships are never perfect, and that it’s natural to have ups and downs with your partner. If you’re going through a difficult time, know that things can improve. With love, trust, and hard work, you can get your relationship with your partner back on the upswing.
Are you and your partner struggling in your relationship? A licensed therapist specializing in marital and couple’s counseling can help you both work on improving your relationship. Call my office today so we can schedule a time to talk.
If you and your partner argue about money, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, 27% of Americans said that disagreements about finances tend to erupt into full-blown arguments. This means couples fight more about money than they do about work, chores or the kids (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/alpha-consumer/2010/10/18/the-biggest-money-mistakes-couples-make).
Perhaps even more disturbing is that arguments about money tend to be particularly disastrous to the relationship. In fact, a study by Jeffrey Dew of Utah State University found that married couples who argued about money once a week were twice as likely to divorce as those who disagreed less than once a month.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is there are things you and your partner can do to reduce fighting over money.
Be Honest About your Finances
When your partner finds out you owe $20,000 in school loans after you’ve been married three years, that’s a problem. Though it may be hard to talk about, it’s incredibly important that both people be financially transparent. Any time you hide something from your partner, you make it that much harder to form real intimacy. Secrecy is one of the first things to undermine a marriage, and when those secrets do finally come out, and they will (how long do you think you can hide your debt), the arguments will follow.
Establish a Budget
Will establishing a budget be a fun project? Nope, but it’s really important that you both do it anyway.
Creating a budget gives you factual information that cannot be disputed, hence it takes the wind out of your argument for you. Many financial arguments are based on assumptions and emotions, so when you have a budget, you get to look at cold, hard numbers and nothing else.
Should one of you not stick to the budget, there is no need for finger-pointing, as the numbers speak for themselves.
One important thing to note about creating budgets is to make sure you each have some wiggle room. You’ll both, from time to time, want to buy something the other thinks is frivolous. Having some wiggle room will allow you to make smaller purchases you don’t have to defend.
Understand Each Other’s Spending Style
Everybody has their own unique money personality, so it’s important that you and your partner understand each other’s spending style. Are you a saver or a spender? Two savers joined eternally is a good thing – two spenders together will be challenging. But even more challenging is when a saver and a spender tie the knot.
When this happens, the saver resents the spender on an almost daily basis for buying those unnecessary lattes or that new pretty bra. Understanding each other’s spending styles won’t change them, but it will open the lines of communication.
The need for money in our society won’t be going away anytime soon, so every couple should spend a little time on these tips to make their home lives more peaceful and loving. And, should your arguments about money persist, it’s a great idea to seek guidance from a therapist, who can help you both communicate better and manage your issues.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
When it comes to relationships, it seems there is often a driving force behind the couple, or one partner who seems to always have the upper hand. This is often referred to as “wearing the pants.” The partner who “wears the pants” is the one most often in control of the relationship.
“Wearing the Pants”
But what does it mean to have control in a relationship? For one partner to have more control over the other often means that one partner in the relationship is more committed to and interested in it than the other. If one partner is less interested than the other, then the partner with more interest is frequently the one giving up their power in the relationship. This partner may do a lot of chasing and begging while the other wields the upper hand, giving little.
To avoid this scenario, each person in the relationship must value themselves. Each person should see themselves as “a catch” – a person with value, who deserves an equal and loving partnership.
Maintaining a balance of power in a relationship requires self-respect. If one person in the relationship doesn’t value themselves and they’re willing to do anything to keep the other person in a relationship, they are also setting the relationship up to fail. The person in control will lose respect and attraction, while the person giving up control will build resentment towards their partner.
To create or maintain balance in your relationship, you must learn to stand your ground. Make your demands known, figure out what your deal breakers are, and be prepared to walk away if necessary.
As you make your needs known, be sure to do so in a calm manner and don’t create an argument. If there are important things that your partner needs to change, set a time limit. For example, if they frequently put you down or name-call, give them a period of time in which they have to make significant improvement. Know in advance what you’re willing to accept, and what behavior is unacceptable. It’s possible that your partner won’t change, and if so you need to be prepared to walk away while your self-esteem is still intact.
Are you having difficulties in your relationship, and require the help and guidance of a licensed professional? Call my office today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.
Whether it’s expected or sudden, losing a partner is always a devastating heartbreak. The finality of the loss of the love of your life, and the idea that you will move forward in the world without them by your side, might be one of the most difficult challenges you will face.
If you’ve suffered the death of a significant other, have grieved and come up on the other side, you may be at a point where you want to find love again. You might have feelings of fear, anxiety, or even guilt, and you’re not sure how (or if) you should start dating again. Read on for some advice that can help you begin the process of starting over.
There’s No Timeline
In grief, there’s no handbook or checklist; how you mourn and move forward is completely personal. Whether it takes you 3 months or 3 years, your timeline is your own. When you begin to feel the sadness lift, and you find yourself yearning to share your life with someone again, it is probably time to begin the process of dating. Sharing every day with someone is a very intimate and special experience, and it’s healthy and natural for you to move forward with your life in a positive way.
Letting Go of Guilt
While it’s important to take the time to heal and recover from this devastating loss, it’s also important not to prolong the period of mourning. Your partner would not want you to live the rest of your days in sorrow. If you find yourself feeling guilty, know that your feelings are natural, but know also that you deserve to be happy.
Your children and other family members who are also grieving the loss of your spouse may not be ready for you to date again. While it’s important to be sensitive to their grieving process, you must also remind them that it’s your decision to make. Keep in mind that their journey of grief is personal to them. As you remain sensitive to their process of mourning, remain true to yourself and move forward when you are ready.
Overall, when you begin dating again is an entirely personal choice. As someone who has suffered such an incredible loss, it can be a difficult decision; but it’s a decision that is only yours to make. Moving on with your life doesn’t erase the memories of the past, nor does it do a disservice to the spouse that you loved and lost. A new relationship will bring you joy and happiness, creating more loving memories you can add to your life.
Are you struggling to move on after the death of a significant other, and need support and guidance? A licensed therapist can help. Call my office any time, and let’s schedule a time to talk.