Is having an Affair, …fair?

Commit­ted cou­ples sail through life’s high seas, some smooth­ly and some rough­ly. Except for a few eccen­tric eddies in the stream, most peo­ple adhere to the moral code of monogamy with their spouse. The creed of most Amer­i­cans is to have one sex­u­al OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApart­ner at a time. But the fact is, anoth­er sex­u­al part­ner may lurk below deck. More than oth­er mar­tial argu­ments, an affair rocks the boat vio­lent­ly. The mar­riage is strand­ed ashore, ship­wrecked, or goes imme­di­ate­ly into the repair dock. Mar­riage ther­a­pists are the mechan­ics when your rela­tion­ship is strug­gling with mul­ti­ple sex­u­al rela­tion­ships.

Few fixed sta­tis­tics show how often affairs occur. The nature of affairs pre­vents hon­esty. (What respectable father who talks to his son about the ‘facts of life’ would admit to sleep­ing around?) Is an affair dis­hon­est when nobody knows about it? Social sci­en­tists say gross­ly that about a third of mar­ried men and a fifth of mar­ried women have had an affair, a lover, a para­mour. With­in the US, about 1 in every 2.7 cou­ples is touched by infi­deli­ty. (p. 1 Abrahms Spring, 2012)

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Therapy Marathon Aftershock

As a ther­a­pist I some­times ana­lyze what pos­sessed Djhokhar Tsar­naev, now accused of set­ting off the bomb­ings on April 15. I did meet him a few times when he was 16 at the Cam­bridge high school. He came to the US at the age of 9 from Chech­nya; after a
Boston and gay pride

Boston and gay pride

divorce the moth­er left the Tsar­naev broth­ers to live in Rus­sia. His fate is wrapped up with hun­dreds of injured peo­ple. I can­not excuse what he did.

I work with fam­i­lies who come from war-torn coun­tries. Some in my prac­tice are Lati­nos, some are Ethiopi­ans. I have clients who fled from FARC mil­i­tants and fam­i­lies who have applied for asy­lum in the US. Many refugees are escap­ing hor­rif­ic vio­lence from Haiti and Sal­vador and Sudan. When my curi­ous sons entered high school, I real­ized that our cities can be a war zone for teenagers. Many teens are harassed by gangs after school: they are intim­i­dat­ed and par­a­lyzed. An armed police offi­cer was employed at the high school, where some boys were told to leave the school for car­ry­ing knives.

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My Child Always Complains

Have you ever felt teth­ered with a short Leash to a whin­ing child?

Richard Fos­ter informed despair­ing par­ents,Cuban sisters

A dear friend of mine, Lymon James is a radio disc jock­ey. On the radio he’s called “Rhymin’ Lymon.” Lymon has a son, Zachary. One after­noon when Zachary was three years old, Lymon decid­ed to take Zach on an out­ing. They went for some walks and vis­it­ed some shops.

But it was one of those days, when noth­ing seems to go right. Zachary was fuss­ing and fum­ing. Lymon tried every­thing. He tried to dis­ci­pline him, and that didn’t work. He tried to bribe him: he gave him can­dy, and that didn’t work. He did some­saults in the park, and that def­i­nite­ly didn’t work. Lymon was a renowned radio genius, but the 3 year old was win­ning the bat­tle. Lymon felt deflat­ed. The boy wouldn’t be dis­tract­ed and kept whin­ing and snif­fling for no obvi­ous rea­son.

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Therapy Soothes and Challenges

I love my work, and I know this work delves deep into who I am. When I first start­ed to do coun­sel­ing with cou­ples, I stud­ied com­pli­cat­ed tech­niques like Mil­ton Ericson’s hyp­no­sis, and Vir­ginia Satir’s work on anx­i­ety that bur­rows inside your body. I watched in amaze­ment 15 years ago as trau­ma was elim­i­nat­ed with EMDR (Eye Move­ment Repro­cess­ing by Shapiro). I then stud­ied with Judith Her­man who wrote “the Book” onSueSerena heal­ing after acute trau­ma. One nev­er gets bored with the study of fam­i­ly ther­a­py. Con­sid­er these requests by par­ents:
  • Can you cure chil­dren suf­fer­ing from enure­sis?”
  • What hap­pens when my part­ner uses spy­ware on my com­put­er?”
  • When I sus­pect Janelle’s using drugs and she denies it, should I surep­tious­ly read her jour­nal?”

It is my plea­sure to help fam­i­lies, but I don’t take cred­it for cur­ing the prob­lem. Ther­a­py can help make crush­ing sched­ules more bear­able; realign the merid­i­ans of pow­er among par­ents and chil­dren; get par­ents pad­dling in synch instead of row­ing against each oth­er. The stress lev­el and com­pli­cat­ed after school activ­i­ties packs in too many expec­ta­tions. Headaches and stom­achaches can give cues as to whether stress is high. In ther­a­py I deal with the irri­tat­ing peb­ble in the shoe, and the chaos of flash­backs. Plus I now know how much the work is help­ing myself. The old adage says, “You teach the sub­ject that you most need to learn.”

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A Sad, Dark Knight

Jessi­ca, John, Gor­don, Alex, Rebec­ca, Matt, Jon, Veron­i­ca, AJ, Micay­la, Jesse fell to vio­lent killing in Auro­ra CO.This is a sto­ry of sor­row. These peo­ple have left us. Farewell, adieu, to God. It is a time to cra­dle our love and wish them safe jour­neys to the next world. We are griev­ing and we don’t want this type of gun­ning down to hap­pen again.

With your close ones, share your feel­ings and reac­tions to the Auro­ra killings. Chil­dren 8 and over have heard about it, and par­ents will want to ini­ti­ate a con­ver­sa­tion to assure chil­dren they are safe. We need to admit what hap­pened (no need to empha­size gory details). All fam­i­ly sys­tems need a pro­tec­tor, because kids know they are vul­ner­a­ble. Your role, along with fam­i­ly coun­sel­ing, is to keep them safe. Be con­fi­dent in this.

I’m sor­ry per­son­al guns are used this cen­tu­ry more against humans than for hunt­ing. I grew up on a farm, and guns were for deer and geese, nev­er to be used in self-defense. Killing was linked to the food you eat, not to get revenge or atten­tion.

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I can’t visit my child.”

Oné of the worst imag­in­able things is to be sep­a­rat­ed from those you love. Some par­ents are in prison, oth­ers lose their right to see their chil­dren for years. They were not grant­ed vis­i­ta­tion rights by a judge. In abuse cas­es, one par­ent may ask that the abuser refrain indef­i­nite­ly from see­ing their child.

Clients enter fam­i­ly coun­sel­ing, mourn­ing this con­tact. Of course they miss see­ing their chil­dren grow up. Still they can main­tain and grow in their iden­ti­ty as a moth­er or father. A wise friend of mine, mis­car­ried a child and nev­er was able to have anoth­er child. But in those months of car­ry­ing a child, she became a moth­er. Her ten­der­ness and her out­look towards oth­ers changed for­ev­er, even though she nev­er had phys­i­cal con­tact (well, con­tact out­side) with her child. Still, she iden­ti­fies as a moth­er.

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It takes courage to go to ther­a­py. Who adores wrestling with prob­lems? But ther­a­py could be a crit­i­cal turn­ing point for you. In Span­ish (I speak Span­ish), there’s an expres­sion, vale la pena. It means the pain is worth it.

I enjoy chal­lenges. I’m good at work­ing with those who are anx­ious or depressed or who have fam­i­ly prob­lems. Some of us are in deep grief, or have unre­solved pain from the past. I enjoy putting puz­zles togeth­er; some cou­ples feel that their spouse is too con­trol­ling. Some want to change old pat­terns of yelling or speak­ing. Some want help as they adjust to get­ting old­er or change in med­ica­tion.

As an inde­pen­dent fam­i­ly coun­selor I work well with angry kids and frus­trat­ed par­ents. I have often worked with abu­sive chil­dren, those who self-abuse and those who’ve bul­lied. Fam­i­lies grow, no mat­ter how bleak the present dilem­ma. My mod­el includes cre­ativ­i­ty and com­pas­sion. I include music and art in my prac­tice.