Self-love in a Time of Upheaval

More clients have had thoughts of sui­cide this year in my psy­chother­a­py office than in the last five years. I’m not scared for them, but as a fel­low trav­el­er, I grieve for those con­tem­plat­ing sui­cide. One woman comes in and clutch­es a pea­cock pil­low. In the ear­ly Spring a depressed client comes and sips chamomile/ginger tea. I want them to enter the door and curl up in com­fort on a sofa. We talk about their loss­es, grat­i­tude, and per­son­al strengths in a warm den of soft­ness.

Climb Away from Dan­ger

Sui­cide behav­ior is an act of des­per­a­tion.

Fear of the future and hope­less­ness grip our young peo­ple. Many don’t expect to raise chil­dren, many can’t plan the next 10 years. “I would go off of birth con­trol tomor­row, but will my chil­dren end up liv­ing in some kind of dystopia?” Because of cli­mate change, the Earth is becom­ing more and more inhos­pitable and dis­as­ter looms more immi­nent­ly.

I’m remem­ber­ing two grad­u­ate stu­dents who brave­ly came into ther­a­py. They resilient­ly crawled away from the sui­cide precipice. Con­tin­ue read­ing

Torching Love with Cybersex

Excus­es heard in the mar­riage therapist’s room–

Hid­den Love

I didn’t intend my flat­tery to be tak­en as an invi­ta­tion for sex.”

She was the one to start talk­ing dirty. I was just jok­ing.”

He sent me a sexy pic­ture that blew my socks off.” Does this sound famil­iar?

The inter­net per­me­ates all the cor­ners of our lives. Many peo­ple assume that cyber­sex isn’t a threat to the mar­riage. When cou­ples com­mit to each oth­er, the con­tract doesn’t explic­it­ly say, ‘No sex­ting and no court­ing on email.’ Have you ever heard of a mar­riage vow that says, “I promise to be a lov­ing and faith­ful spouse in sor­row and in joy, in sick­ness and in health, with flir­ta­tious and with chaste texts.

Promis­es get bro­ken. Be assured that the rela­tion­ship can heal after an affair.

How com­mon is cyber­sex? Extra-mar­i­tal affairs are clos­et­ed, thus no one is sure of the exact per­cent­ages: as many as 37% of mar­ried men and 20% of mar­ried women have been unfaith­ful. Even our pres­i­dents have affairs, leav­ing cit­i­zens to won­der about sex and moral turpi­tude. Dig­i­tal affairs are not about polyamory — hav­ing mul­ti­ple lovers. Polyamorous rela­tion­ships, on- or off-line are con­sen­su­al, so there is no betray­al.

How do cou­ples con­front Inter­net Infi­deli­ty? Infi­deli­ty is a cru­cible for the pri­ma­ry rela­tion­ship. The hurt and the offend­ing part­ner must accept that the rela­tion­ship is bro­ken by cyber inti­ma­cy. The unfaith­ful­ness has noth­ing to do with phys­i­cal touch. Janis Abrams Spring defines “cyber­sex is when two or more per­sons send each oth­er sex­u­al­ly explic­it mes­sages via the com­put­er. A cyber-affair can be emo­tion­al, sex­u­al, or both.” (Abrahms Spring, 2012)

Soci­ety agrees that secret extra-mar­i­tal affairs are hurt­ful. We are delu­sion­al if we see a cyber-affair as triv­ial. If we want to hide a text or an Insta­gram from our spouse, then we our lying to them. The offend­ing part­ner is in denial. The affair hurts both par­ties, or more. Affairs involve fire. The secret of the online inti­ma­cy is like inhal­ing smoke from a for­est fire, it suf­fo­cates the pri­ma­ry rela­tion­ship. The offend­er is not inno­cent, nor is s/he like Teflon, able to return to the pri­ma­ry rela­tion­ship unscathed. So both part­ners need to stare down the fire that escaped from the hearth. Both spous­es are respon­si­ble for change.

Unlike real­i­ty where you can walk away from your para­mour, it’s impos­si­ble to elim­i­nate our use of com­put­ers and apps. Rebuild­ing trust is like rebuild­ing the fire with green wood. Coun­sel­ing can reset the rela­tion­ship, pri­or­i­tize how to rebuild love, and offer next steps. In cyber­sex, like oth­er unfaith­ful acts, the one who has been betrayed must move past the charred land­scape. Find a way to move away from the dying fire into a green­er land­scape.

Torch­ing the Old: Ready to Relight

And the one who dal­lied and used the inter­net for arousal and love? Can the unfaith­ful part­ner own their guilt? Will they find help (Hey! maybe a couple’s coun­selor) to under­stand why they chose the hurt­ful action? Embers from the camp­fire can eas­i­ly flare up into anoth­er cyber affair. With­out under­stand­ing, the offend­er will repeat the betray­al.

The Hebrew sage says about inti­ma­cy out­side of mar­riage, “Can a man car­ry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? Proverb 6:29

The rock­i­est bar­ri­er to recov­ery from cheat­ing is the loss of hope. I have been awed by cou­ples who recov­er from the cyber­sex cri­sis. I cred­it them with verve and open­ness as they move from dis­trust to a new plateau of trust.

Marriage Happiness & Weight Gain

Why do women put on weight after they get mar­ried? I have recent­ly had some clients moan about their extra pounds. This can be depress­ing but it’s com­mon.
Marriage Appetite

Mar­riage Appetite

In the first 10 years of mar­riages women in the US hap­pi­ly mar­ried gain an aver­age of 37 lbs., while those unhap­pi­ly mar­ried gain 54 lbs. So choose your food and your mate wise­ly.

Over 6,000 Aus­tralian women were stud­ied by Pro­fes­sor Annette Dob­son. The 10-year weight gain for a mar­ried woman was 15 lbs if she had a part­ner but not a child, and 20 lbs. if she was mar­ried with a baby. Mar­riage is linked to increased BMI (body mass index) for men and women of all eth­nic groups. In North Car­oli­na a study found that mar­ried men and women in their ear­ly 20s gained 6 – 9 more pounds than sin­gle peers. Con­tin­ue read­ing

Helpful Hints on Living in Difficult Times

Preventing Suicide

ignacioMaking a con­nec­tion with one per­son, even a ther­a­pist, can keep you alive,” says Gil Zals­man a psy­chi­atric researcher at Tel Aviv Uni­ver­si­ty. What can pre­vent sui­cide for those of us at risk? Stud­ies, found that clin­i­cians were able to reduce self-harm for patients with a his­to­ry of self-harm by mak­ing phone calls to them. Anoth­er study dis­cov­ered that when patients are released from the hos­pi­tal and are then sent a post­card remind­ing them of a hot­line num­ber to call, their sui­cide attempts are decreased sui­cide by 50%. Con­tin­ue read­ing

What If I’m Not Married before 40?

silo girlsunHow do you know what is the best time in your life plans to get mar­ried? Many cou­ples come to mar­riage ther­a­py explor­ing this cru­cial ques­tion. Is this part­ner the right choice? Many peo­ple are ready to get mar­ried, but are not pre­pared to stay mar­ried. What’s the dif­fer­ence? Get­ting mar­ried is the romance and the shar­ing of your life up to that point. You are attract­ed to each oth­er, and as my moth­er used to say, “He (or she) is a good catch.” Stay­ing mar­ried is where cou­ple coun­sel­ing can help. Do you have the skills to move thor­ough the ups and downs of life; how do you make major deci­sions togeth­er; what about the first (sec­ond and third) huge fight? The medi­an age of women and men get­ting mar­ried for the first time is now 27 and 29, respec­tive­ly. That com­pares to a medi­an age of 20 for women and 23 for men in 1960, accord­ing to the Pew Research Cen­ter. Con­tin­ue read­ing

Working Through Problems, It Takes Work

Solving Problems Together

Solv­ing Prob­lems Togeth­er

How can cou­ples work through their prob­lems?

To make a com­mit­ment to anoth­er per­son is more than a busi­ness con­tract. Whether you are legal­ly mar­ried or involved in a seri­ous rela­tion­ship, it takes atten­tion and work to make deci­sions. Where will you live? How much mon­ey do you need? How do you pay the bills and divide the tasks of liv­ing togeth­er? Will you raise chil­dren togeth­er? What hol­i­days will you cel­e­brate togeth­er? For a cou­ple who is form­ing into mar­riage or liv­ing togeth­er, who will be your fam­i­ly, or your ‘peeps.’ Con­tin­ue read­ing

Does Ray Rice Need Counseling?

As a ther­a­pist, I work with abusers and vic­tims, though not at the same time. Nor does any­one fall into an easy cat­e­go­ry. No one is blame­less. Often vio­lence like an addic­tion breeds on itself. fam siloquetteWe’ve been hear­ing about the NFL and Ray Rice’s blud­geon­ing assault on his wife, Janay (née Palmer). Not only is it shock­ing the Rice punched and kicked his wife uncon­scious, but Rice showed a com­plete lack of care or remorse for her as she’s lying bleed­ing by the ele­va­tor. He also beat her up sev­er­al years ago. They got mar­ried the next day. He did it once with­out seri­ous con­se­quences, are you sur­prised that the mar­i­tal vio­lence con­tin­ued? Con­tin­ue read­ing

Super Care with Divorce

The US laws should declare 2 types of divorces. I believe Divorce between 2 peo­ple is com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent than a divorce that involves kids. TunnelLet’s call it super-divorce. Super­di­vorce is two adults sep­a­rat­ing with kids dragged unwill­ing­ly into the upheaval. Legal prob­lems, prop­er­ty, hous­ing, mon­ey should not be a child’s prob­lem. Swear­ing, demean­ing com­ments, blam­ing the oth­er par­ent is so typ­i­cal in divorces. Does any child ben­e­fit from hear­ing “Idiot!” “Slut!” or “You’re a los­er, no one could live with you.”? Adults don’t even want to hear it; but those words sear hot­ly into a child’s psy­che. Con­tin­ue read­ing

HELP. We’re Breaking Up

HELP. I’m Break­ing Up with my Boyfriend

When a pair of love­birds break up, expect pain, blush­ing, and anger. It’s a bust. The deal is bro­ken. Your heart is raw, stabbed with razor thoughts. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImag­ine you go to a par­ty and you see your Ex- danc­ing with some­one else. That ador­ing look she gives him used to be for you. Don’t spas out. Of course you’re upset when he leaves you. Maybe you can’t go to that school reunion, because you are furi­ous at the guy. Maybe he fathered your child and then for­got to get a job to pay for the child. (The term sperm-donor is said with hiss­ing dis­dain from sin­gle moms who speak in my fam­i­ly coun­sel­ing office.) Con­tin­ue read­ing

Seriously Angry? Think about it.

I am angry every day. It’s tough to admit it — as a coun­selor cognoscente I’m sup­posed to be in charge of emo­tions. How­ev­er, all stu­dents and teach­ers; OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAelders and babies; patients and ther­a­pists alike cope with anger. How?

Damm!”, “Rats!!” “Sh- -!!” and oth­er vicious exple­tives. Stamp­ing your foot. Slap­ping, punch­ing, cut­ting, and men­ac­ing. In coun­sel­ing, we see them all. …Anggerr…Animals growl. Grrrrr. I want food. I want it my way. Fangs flare. Grrg r owl ing (not grow­ing). I want what you have. Ouuwl. Grrrr…Give it over. You are toast. Anger. An Grrrrr. Con­tin­ue read­ing