Depending on your partner creates independence

Dependency: Not a Bad Thing In Relationships

Here’s a little secret about my own relationship. My husband regularly goes on hiking trips with people he has met on the Internet (often women!). Oh, and I don’t go on said trips with him and often have never met the people he goes with. He really enjoys hiking/backpacking and well, I don’t as much. I went on a few hiking trips with him and I just didn’t have that great of a time. This is his hobby and passion. I’ve got other hobbies that he has no interest in as well.

Guess what? I consider my relationship pretty rock solid and wonderful.

How can that be, you may ask? Some questions/remarks I have heard throughout the years… “Why in the world do you let your husband meet people let alone other women and spend all day with them in the woods?” “Aren’t you afraid of something happening?!” “What kind of husband would go on a hiking trip without his wife?” And oh so much more….

We live in a culture where we are taught not to rely on others for emotional support and yet see relationship red flags when two people do hobbies independent from one another.

The answer, to put it simply at first, is no, I am not worried because I trust him and I do not want to deprive him of something he is truly passionate about (nature, hiking/backpacking, mountains etc.). I do worry about him when he is hiking though safety-wise!

The more complicated answer has to do with what Mary Ainsworth, a developmental psychologist, called a secure base. She did an experiment studying attachment with infants and mothers called the Strange Situation Test. Basically, a child is put into a room with toys and the mother leaves the room and comes back. The child with a secure attachment style, while upset that the mother left, is able to be soothed by her, and then uses her as a secure base and is able to go out and explore the toys with confidence while glancing at her/his mother. The child knows that she needs her mother, her mother is available.

As adults, we are put into ‘strange situations’ every day, whether they are at work, with friends, or even when our husbands are in another state hiking with people we don’t know. Ok, maybe the last one is just me… Having a secure base as an adult is having someone who, in your time of need, 100% has your back and is supportive of you. It’s someone whom you can depend on and vice versa. As adults, we are capable of knowing that our partners are there for us emotionally and psychologically even if they are not close in proximity. If your partner makes you feel safe and is able to reassure you during hard times, you are free to focus your attention on other things that make your life more meaningful, such as hiking.

Early on in our relationship, there were many times where my husband stood up for me, gave me pep talks, and had my back and I for him. We created this security early on, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing (more on that in later posts). My husband is my secure base and I am his. This type of relationship may look very independent from the outside. He’s off hiking on the weekends, I’m back in Chicago. On the contrary, we are actually very dependent on one another. *gasp* He is the first person I turn to if I need advice on just about anything. He opens up to me about his work stress. We are very emotionally close. So how can we be emotionally close but physically apart for a good portion of the weekends in the summer when he is off hiking?

This is what attachment theorists call the “dependency paradox” meaning the more dependent you are on someone during hard times and they are available to meet your needs, the more independent you become. Think of the kid who stands up to the class bully because they know their friends have their back either way or the husband who applies for a job promotion out of state and rocks the interview knowing he has his wife’s full support and that they will make things work no matter what happens.

Create a relationship of dependence and this will create independence

 

The saying “if you love someone, let them go, if they return, they were always yours” comes to mind, but I’d tweak it a little bit.  I would say “if you love someone to the point that you can depend on him or her to have your back and support you and likewise you for them, let them go. Do your own thing, they’ll be back and they’ll tell you how much fun they had and how they wished you were there too.” You’ll both probably feel more satisfied with your relationship and your lives.

Good guys do exist!

How I Almost Missed Out On My “Good Guy” and Tips So You Don’t Miss Yours!

I’m just going to go right out and say it, dating sucks, especially now with all the apps and the swiping and the paradox of choice. However, I don’t think it’s the modern technology, although it doesn’t help, that makes dating suck. It’s more scientific than that. You’ve heard that saying ‘dating is a number game,’ right? It certainly is!

Let’s talk about attachment styles for a minute. Neither one is good or bad (although it may seem that way). Odds are you either will recognize these characteristics in yourself or someone else. The three main attachment styles are as follows:

  • Anxious
    • Wants a lot of closeness in relationships
    • Has a lot of insecurities about rejection
    • Sensitive to small cues and fear the relationship is in jeopardy and that he/she must work to keep you interested
    • Struggles expressing what is bothering him/her
  •  Secure
    • Reliable and constant
    • Naturally expresses feelings for you
    • Not afraid of commitment or dependency
    • Communicates relationship issues well
  • Avoidant
    • Sends mixed signals and doesn’t make intension clear
    • Values independence a great deal
    • Emphasizes boundaries in relationship
    • Has difficulty talking about what’s going on between the two of you

Odds are, you have most likely dated people with an anxious or avoidant attachment style. I know I have certainly dated my share! In fact, I dated so many people with this attachment style, I almost blew my chances when someone with a secure attachment style (my husband–believe it or not) came along!

Don't miss your secure person!

Here’s my story, hopefully you can benefit from hearing it and the lessons I’ve learned from it. Keep in mind, I would consider myself to have an anxious attachment style (at least at this time!) and my husband having a secure attachment style. I will include my inner dialogue and ways my husband calmed my “activated attachment system” as well as some 

See if you can pick up the cues that his attachment style is secure. 

Back in the day, I was a big fan of online dating. It was easier than meeting people in person and I liked the screening process. When my now husband messaged me on a site, I at first did not see it, but then he messaged a few days later and I quickly scanned his profile before responding. We didn’t seem to have much in common, but decided to respond to him anyway. We chatted online for an hour or so then he quickly asked for my phone number that same night. 

“My phone number?! I don’t even know him, he’s moving very fast!”

“What if we talk and he gets bored because we’ve already talked for a while already?”

I gave him my phone number anyway and we talked for a few more hours that night. He said he had a great time talking with me and then asked me on a date for a few days from now. 

“I don’t know about this, I usually like to talk to people more before I meet them.”

“He’s very direct, I don’t know how I feel about that.”

“I bet once he meets me he won’t want to see me again. I don’t know if I am good enough.”

We met and had a wonderful date where we talked and seemed to really hit it off. The next morning, he called and left me a voicemail saying that he had a wonderful time and he wanted to know when I was available next. 

“This is unreal. I meet a nice guy and he tells me right away that he had a great time and wants to make plans with me again right away!”

“What’s his angle here, I’ve never met someone with such clear intensions.”

I messaged him saying I had a great time too and that I was available that next weekend. We called and texted throughout the week, getting to know each other further. He was available to talk during the day (work permitting) and let me complain about my crummy job at the time.

He said he knows he just met me once, but he wants to see where this goes and is planning on canceling any other dates he had lined up for the future. 

“I can’t believe this. No guy has ever been this direct and able to express his feelings so clearly.”

“Do I have to do the same? I am not sure if I like him as much as he likes me…” (no, I did not have to do the same)

“He’s taking a big risk on me, I don’t know if I am worth the risk.”

A close friend warned me about “guys like him.”

Can you pick up on his secure attachment style? How about my anxious one and what I was used to dating in the past (anxious and avoidant men)? Had I listened to my friends and my rather calm but confused attachment system, I may have missed out on someone really special.

A few tips on how to not let a secure person get away:

  • Ask yourself “is this person able and willing to meet my needs?”
    • Do you really like a few texts throughout the day? Are they able to meet that need for you?
    • Do you need to vent about your work? Do they listen to you and not shut you down?
  • How do they react to you expressing your feelings (within reason) for them.
    • Do they shy away from commitment or play games with their feelings?
  • How do they react when you express displeasure with something they did or said?
    • When you effectively communicate that you were disappointed, how open are they to your feedback.
  • Do you know where you stand with this person? Is there very little “drama”?
    • We’ve conditioned ourselves to be used to and welcome the drama, but people with secure attachment styles are upfront with their feelings and can at times seem boring due to the lack of drama. 

Stay tuned for more attachment style insights to help you improve your dating life.

Two Tips on How to Deal with Your Family and Partner During the Holidays

The holiday season brings many joyful times as well as many stressors. Spending time with family is something many of us look forward to enjoying, but depending on our relationship with in-laws and parents, the holidays may not be as rewarding as we hope. Getting married or being in a long-term relationship means you inherit a new set of parents, your partner’s parents, for better or for worse.

Here are two tips that may help you keep your relationship intact when navigating the relationship you have with your in-laws:

1) Discuss holiday schedules ahead of time in a productive way

Figuring out which family you visit or visit first and when should be a decision between the two of you and usually involves a bit of compromising. This is an important step in showing both of your families that you are now separate from them and have formed your own family. John Gottman identified a method called ’the two ovals’ which works well for figuring out holiday schedules.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Draw two ovals, one inside of the other like a donut or a bagel.
  2. In the smaller circle put the family time you are unwilling to compromise on, the things that if you gave up, you’d really regret and feel badly about. Say holiday dinner at your aunt’s house.
  3. In the larger oval put the family time you are more flexible with, like when you visit your grandparents the next town over.
  4. Discuss your ovals with your partner and ask the following questions:
    1. Where you do agree?
    2. What are both of your inflexible areas?
    3. How can you reach a temporary compromise for this holiday season?
  5. Come up with a plan that works for both of you and then tell your families as a united front. 2 Ovals

2) Create a sense of ‘we-ness’ and solidarity with your partner, especially around the holidays.

Tense situations with in-laws and spouses often occur in marriages and sometimes you may wonder where your and your partner’s allegiance lies. You both have been part of another family for a long time; that family has its own holiday traditions and customs. Somewhat of a ’turf war’ between the spouses and in-laws may ignite, both wanting the partner’s attention during the holidays.

One of the main ways to end the war is to create a sense of ‘we-ness’ and solidarity with your partner and side with your partner over your parents. This may mean having to hold your ground and stand up for your spouse and take this or her side over your parents. This may seem harsh, but slowly your parents will adjust to reality and accept that your partner comes first. You are a partner/spouse first and a son/daughter second. Remember which team you are on. 

Here’s a more mild example:

Your father says: “Jane’s mashed potatoes are good, but your mother’s are better aren’t they? I don’t like all of the onions that Jane put in them this year.”

You can say: “Actually, I really like the extra onions, it gives it a more flavorful taste.”

And another example:

Your brother says: “I don’t know why you married Jack, he’s got no personality!”

You can say: “He really opens up once you get to know him. Why don’t you ask him about his fantasy football draft this year?”

This way you are choosing your partner over your parent/relatives. It might seem like a small gesture, but it adds up, especially in the eyes of your partner!

Hopefully these two tips help you navigate the holiday season with your partner.

4 Tips To Have A Great Date

I hear these comments fairly often in my practice:  “I’m not good at dating,” “I never know what to say” or “I can’t get past a 2nd or third date.” I also hear from my couples that their date nights are “boring” or “lacking connection.” Dating isn’t so much about what you say, but more about how you listen. Like Dale Carnegie wrote about in his classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, focus on being interested, not interesting. Although this advice was more about being a good salesmen, it can be applied to any relationship you have in your life. Everyone genuinely wants to feel understood and appreciated and nothing makes a person feel more understood than sincerely listening to him or her. If you keep this in mind, it can take some of the pressure off of you to feel like you need to have a bunch of interesting things going on in your life to share with the other person.

Based on John Gottman’s decades of observing people, here are 4 tips on how to have a great date, whether it’s a first date, 10th date, or a date with the spouse you’ve been with for 10 years!

Tip #1 Ask open-ended questions

There is a fine balance between asking a question that is too open such as “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?” People tend to give one word responses to those questions, possibly because they aren’t sure you want to know the full answer. Instead ask questions that are still open but more directed, such as “How has your summer been going? Have any plans for vacations?” It might be a good idea to ask questions about goals or visions of the future.  This will allow you to get to know the person’s aspirations and dreams. Be careful to watch your audience and gage if your questions are uncomfortable for the person and find the right level of disclosure.

“How’s your summer going? Have any vacation plans?”

“If you could have a job in another field, what type of job would you want to have?”

Tip #2 Listen to the person’s answers and find commonalities

As you ask open-ended questions, listen to the person’s answers and share something you have in common with what they are saying. People are more attracted to people who can relate to them and to those people with whom they share common ground. After you share a bit about yourself put the conversation back to them. Share enough to establish commonality and then ask a follow-up question to what they said earlier.

“Oh, you’re a teacher? My roommate is a teacher. He’s getting pretty stressed thinking about this upcoming school year. What do you do to prepare for the beginning of the school year? Maybe I could give him some tips from you.”

If your date had said he or she had returned from a vacation in California, a follow-up might be: “I love California, it’s such a diverse state, something for everyone! When I went there a few years ago we saw the Redwoods, I remember they were so tall and majestic. What did you see when you went there?”

Tip #3 Paraphrase what the person said and show non-verbally that you are listening

If you paraphrase what the person said, it shows them that you are listening. This is also helpful when asking questions or when mentioning a commonality.

“You seem to really love your job! How did you know you wanted to be a veterinarian?”

“You used to live in Lincoln Square? I love that neighborhood and spend a lot of time there! Have any gotta-go to places?”

Another helpful thing to do that shows people you are listening is to nod briefly or respond with a verbal cue “uh huh, yeah?, hmm.”

Tip #4 Let go of your own agenda

Try not to focus so much on the outcome of the conversation. It’s hard to focus on listening when you are trying to come up with your next interesting question to ask the person. Instead, focus on what the other person is saying in that moment and ask follow-up questions to further your understanding of what they are saying. Look for those emotional cues where you can empathize with what they are saying.

Above all, just listen to the other person with your full attention. Your ability to draw people out with a general curiosity about them will go further than if you were the most interesting person in the world.

 

Four Changes You Can Make To Have More Productive Conversations

Have you ever had a conversation with a significant other, a co-worker or a relative and thought “well, that could have gone better…” I know I have! It’s hard bringing up issues with people; maybe that’s why so many of us keep our feelings to ourselves and do not share them with others.

Based on John Gottman’s 40 years of research with couples, here are 4 changes you can make so that your conversations do not turn into arguments or feelings of ill-will.

Change #1

Before even starting the conversation, think to yourself: “What is the specific behavior I want to see changed?” When you start to think about the issue this way, you are already changing what might come off as a criticism into a complaint. Complaints are about specific issues, not about a person’s character.

 

Change #2

Erase the phrase “I feel like…..” from your vocabulary. What usually comes after this phrase? The word YOU. As soon as you add the word “like” you are describing the other person. Your intentions may have been to describe your own feelings, but you are actually criticizing the other person instead.

Instead use the phrase “I feel/felt ______ (identify a feeling) when you do/did ______ (specific behavior). 

By actually stating how you feel, you are more likely to elicit an apology. And let’s be honest, isn’t that what you want?

 

Change #3

Add the phrase “I see your point” to your vocabulary. If the other person starts to get defensive or critical, it’s very easy to get defensive back–almost too easy! Instead try to pick out small parts from what they are saying that you can understand. Saying “I see your point” goes a LONG way when someone is being critical or defensive and can almost instantly decrease the tension in a conversation.

 

Change #4

Never roll your eyes or smirk when having a conversation. These are both signs of contempt and tell the other person that you do not respect or value what they are saying. Although they might not create a blow-up mid conversation, over time these behaviors will chip away at your relationship with that person. These behaviors might be automatic responses for you depending on the person with whom you are talking, so be mindful of when you do them.

 

And there you have it! Try some of these out and see if your conversations turn out much better than you expected!

Why Taking A Career Risk Was Worth It

Today marks the one year anniversary of starting my solo private practice. As I reflect on this past year, I really surprised myself at the risk I was willing to take and the new found confidence I now have in myself. Early on in my career as a therapist, when asked if I was going to go into private practice, I would almost always reply with an excuse about how I “did not know enough yet” or how I “knew nothing about running a business,” etc. Soon after I became licensed, I accepted a job at a group private practice (one where the clinicians work for someone else) even after discussing plans to share office space with a friend of mine. Looking back on that decision, I realized that it was out of my own fears, self-doubts, and lack of confidence in my abilities as a therapist back then, that I made that decision.

Years passed and my confidence in my abilities as a therapist grew. I received great feedback from clients, saw them making progress, and began making a name for myself in my area. Still, I did not feel ready to be completely on my own. I still felt like I needed the referrals from the group practice, the support of co-workers, and the guidance if something went astray with a client. A few more months passed and I realized that other clinicians in the group practice were coming to me for guidance with their clients, their paperwork, and talking to me when they had a particularly hard session. It was around that time that I realized that I had begun to rely on the support from the group less and less, that I was beginning to develop the confidence as a therapist on my own. It was then I knew that I DID have the ability to run my own practice and no longer needed the support of a group practice.

I realized that I no longer had the same fears I once had or maybe those thoughts became quieter. I realized that I was ready to take the risk and open my own practice, that my ability to be an effective therapist would still be there even when I worked for myself.

A year ago today, I opened my doors to my own independent practice. I became my own boss, my own administrative staff, my own office manager. No one was holding me accountable but myself. Soon, the fears came rushing in…

  • What if no one calls?
  • What will I do if clients don’t like me?
  • What if I am not as helpful as I once was?
  • How will I handle all of the messy administrative issues?

Guess what? People did call!

Guess what! Clients continued to say I have helped them make a great deal of progress!

AND I have been able to handle all of the messy administrative things that come with being your own office manager too!

Are those thoughts still around a year later? ABSOLUTELY! Do I let them control my actions like I once did? No way! I tell those fears where to go and I continue being the best therapist I can be!

I was watching Shark Tank a little bit ago and something Mark Cuban said really stuck with me. “Perfection is the enemy of profitability” he said to one hopeful entrepreneur who had taken many years to test his product, wanting to make it perfect, before taking it to market and getting any sales. “You will be testing it for 72 years!” the Sharks said to him. “It doesn’t need to be perfect!”

I realized that I almost did the same thing myself, but in a different way. I was holding back starting my own practice because I felt I was not ready, whether I did not have enough experience or knowledge, I wasn’t “perfect” yet. But I’ve realized that even if I were practicing for 40 years working for someone else before opening my own practice, I might never feel 100% ready, be 100% perfect. Sure, I’ve made a few mistakes this year and am far from “the perfect therapist” but there are no perfect therapists out there! Being a therapist means constantly learning and growing. Working for myself has given me even more of an opportunity to do just that by allowing me more freedom and has forced me to learn things that I never would have gotten the chance to do working for a group practice. In a way, I’ve had to continually build my confidence in my abilities even more so since I am the one “running the show.”

What I’ve learned this year is this:

  1. I do not have to be the “perfect” therapist in order to be an effective therapist.
  2. Just because I work for myself does not mean I have to stop improving myself as a therapist.
  3. Having a bit of confidence can grow into more and more confidence, but you have to give yourself the opportunity to cultivate it.
  4. Working for myself has taught me to advocate more for myself, because no one else is around to do it for me!

My challenge to you (therapist or not!) is to let go of some of your perfection, some of your “should-ing” or “have to do this-ing” or “have to do that first-ing.” There might NEVER be a perfect time to take a risk but there is ALWAYS a perfect time to believe in yourself and your abilities–and that time is TODAY. That time is RiGHT NOW.

What happens if you fail? If you aren’t successful? Then you learn from your mistakes and try again. But if you never give yourself the opportunity to fail, then you learn nothing! Like the famous Wayne Gretsky quote “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

 

 

Fan the Flames in Your Relationship

What would you say if I asked you to describe how you felt about your partner in the beginning of your relationship? Would you remember positive memories of getting to know each other? How you felt excited just to speak with him or her on the phone? How you felt nervous and giddy to see your partner in person for a special date? Listening to a couple describe how they felt about each other earlier on in their relationship is a great measure of the couple’s fondness and admiration for each other. Fondness and admiration are related to affection and how much spouses look forward to being together after being apart. It speaks to how strong their friendship is which is related to passion, intimacy, and good sex.

Often times it is night and day hearing couples describe their feelings about one another when they first started dating compared to how they feel now. As you can imagine, couples whose relationships have deteriorated often rewrite history to only remember the negative aspects of their earlier days. Often describing the things their partner did wrong early on. “She was an hour late for our second date, I looked like an idiot waiting at the restaurant!” “He was so nervous we sat in silence for 10 minutes!” These couples probably did not start out viewing each other this way, but the negativity of the present has crept in to re-write the past. This is indicative of how they view their relationship now. Per John Gottman’s research, re-writing relationship history in a negative light is also predictive of the future of their relationship.

Luckily, it is possible to revive fondness and admiration that has been dwindling for many many years. It takes a cognitive switch, a choice if you will, to view your partner in a more positive and admirable way. Making a choice to scan for the positives instead of the negatives.

We can mentally rehearse all the positive things about our partner’s qualities or we can choose to focus on the negative, annoying, irritating things about their personality. What are you going to focus on? You have a choice.

Here’s a personal example. My husband leaves his dinner dishes on the counter for a long time after he has finished eating dinner. It used to bother me ALL THE TIME. I would come home and those dishes would jump out at me, instantly ruining my mood.

It had to stop. Not his dish leaving habits, but my scanning for his faults.

Instead, I chose to focus on what he was doing right. I would come home after a long day of sessions and he would greet me with a “hey sweetie, I’m glad you’re home.” I chose to focus on that nice greeting, a positive bid for attention, instead of focusing on the dishes. You know what? Soon those dishes did not mean as much to me anymore.

Ways to rekindle affection, fondness, and admiration:

  • Take some time and remember the positive experiences you and your partner had together, the fun times, the adventures and share them with one another.
  • Instead of pointing out what your partner did not do right, point out something that they DID do right.
  • Identify two positive characteristics of your partner and mention to him or her two specific events in which he or she displayed these characteristics

A Simple Way To Be Better Friends With Your Partner

I see this time and time again. A couple will come into my office and tell me that they feel like they don’t even know each other any more, that they feel like “roommates,” or worse that they aren’t even friends. Sadly, this is a very common problem with couples that have been together for a while. Life gets in the way, they don’t take the time to talk to one another, and they drift apart. According to John Gottman’s research, a main culprit of this is that their “love maps” need updating.

Gottman defines love maps as how well someone knows their partner, how detailed their map in their mind is of the other person’s life. Think about when you first met your partner, you wanted to know everything about them! Their favorite food, their pets’ names, the name of their childhood best friend, their hopes, their dreams, their fears! You would ask open-ended questions to find out more about how your partner thinks or feels about certain things. Yes, you were getting to know them but you were also building your love map of their internal world. Then the years passed and now you sit next to your partner and feel like you don’t even know him or her anymore. Many people build a deep love map in the beginning of their relationships but they do not update them regularly.

“Without such a love map you can’t really know your spouse. And if you don’t really know someone, how can you truly love them?”–John Gottman, 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work

Luckily, couples can get to know one another again and update their love maps! I often give couples the homework of deepening their love maps by asking each other a set of questions to learn more about one another, to get to know each other again, and to keep them emotionally connected. When you feel like your spouse knows information about you, it helps you feel cared for, valued, and appreciated.

Here is a quick snapshot of the Gottman Love Map Exercise you can practice with your partner right now!

In the spirit of getting to know your partner again, pick a question and try to come up with the answer, then have your partner gently correct you if you did not guess correctly.

1. Name my two closest friends.
2. What is my favorite musical group, composer, or instrument?
3. What was I wearing when we first met?
4. Name one of my hobbies.
5. Where was I born?
6. What stresses am I facing right now?
7. Describe in detail what I did today or yesterday.
8. What are two of my aspirations, hopes, wishes?
9. Name one of my major rivals or “enemies.”
10.Who is my favorite relative?

Remember, the point of the exercise is not to be right or wrong, but to deepen your understanding of one another.

The next time you feel like you and your partner are “ships in the night” ask yourself if you have taken the time to update your Love Maps!

Questions Asked by Couples Before Starting Counseling

When couples seek counseling they often have questions about my style of counseling as well as my beliefs about relationships and divorce.

I recently got asked what my stance is on divorce. Meaning am I for, neutral,  or against divorce.

  • My stance on divorce would depend on the specific couple. As a couples therapist, I like to think that there is hope for many couples to repair their marriages. The type of couples therapy I use in sessions, the Gottman Method, does provide a roadmap for most couples to do so. The Gottman Method can be used to help couples repair and move past many difficult relationship events (affairs, traumas, etc.). That being said, there are some circumstances that couples therapy is contraindicated such as cases where characterological domestic violence is present.
  • When two people are in a relationship, they will have a set of perpetual unsolvable problems that will continue to come up. Each person has to decide if they are able to live with the other’s unsolvable problems. If they are not, they should probably not be in a relationship together.

Can couples counseling be helpful for couples going through a divorce?

  • Absolutely. It looks a bit different than counseling for couples hoping to stay together. My goal as the therapist would be to reduce the same unhelpful patterns that I would in a couple hoping to continue being married and to help facilitate more productive conversations. Even though you are getting divorced, you still have to be able to exist in each other’s worlds (especially if children are involved). A divorce takes a huge psychological toll on people, and anger and sadness are normal and common emotions. You can be angry at one another without being demeaning, and you can be hurt without turning your relationship absolutely toxic.

How can I trust my partner after they’ve betrayed me?

  • When your partner is unfaithful, your whole sense of self is shattered and you begin to doubt yourself. The person you trusted is now untrustworthy. You doubt your own instincts.
  • A mistake that couples make where one person has been unfaithful is to try to make the unfaithful partner trustworthy again. This leads to the betrayed person checking up on the partner (checking their phone, credit card statements etc.).  Because they cannot trust themselves to trust their partner, the betrayed might make their partner call them every number of hours, send them pictures to make sure they say they are where they said they would be, etc.
  • Instead of focusing on making the other person trustworthy, focus on yourself and your own self-esteem/self-worth. Once you begin to trust yourself again, trusting your partner will come easier.

Hopefully these answers shed some light on the hard questions you may be wondering about before you consider therapy. Feel free to call or e-mail me if you have further questions.

 

Couple Counseling

Couples Counseling

 

An Easy Way to Get Therapy at No Cost to You

It’s been my experience that many people view cost as a barrier to getting therapy. They might have a high deductible insurance plan or no insurance at all and have been putting off contacting a counselor because they fear they will have a big bill to pay at the end of the month. Many people are aware of their employer offering them medical, vision, and/or dental insurance, but often are not aware of another benefit offered by many employers called an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). By using your EAP benefits you can receive therapy at no cost to you!

An Employee Assistance Program is a benefit separate from the insurance that your employee pays to be able to offer benefits to employees. The EAP program can offer employees resources such as financial planners, child care, legal services and (you guessed it!) counseling services. These counseling sessions are paid for by your employer and are at no cost to you. Many employees have plans that offer between 3-6 counseling sessions but in my experience, I have seen plans that offer up to 10 sessions. EAP counseling sessions are considered to be “short-term” counseling and if you want to seek counseling beyond the number of sessions for which you are approved, you would have to use your insurance benefits or pay out of pocket.

You would access these therapy services by calling your EAP company and speaking to an EAP staff (usually a therapist) about why you are seeking counseling services and any preferences you would have in a counselor such as location, specialties or available times. If the EAP staff feels like your situation is appropriate for EAP sessions, he or she would would then either give you a list of therapists to call and set up an appointment or would set up an appointment with a therapist for you and give you the therapist’s information. It’s that simple.

Many people assume the word “employee” in EAP means that your employer will know if use your EAP benefits and that is not the case at all. With the exception of being told you are required to attend counseling sessions by your employer, your employer will not know if you are attending therapy or not. In the case that your employer requires you to utilize your benefits, the therapist that is providing the EAP services still cannot speak to your employer without your consent and the EAP staff will usually be the go-between between the therapist and your employer.

How do you find out if your employer offers EAP benefits? Contact your Human Resources department and ask how you would go about contacting your EAP. You do not have to inform your HR department you are wanting to seek counseling, because, like I said previously, EAP programs offer many services. Many people are told about these benefits when they have their employer orientation or sign up for their insurance benefits and then often forget they even have them! Why not take advantage of a few counseling sessions at no cost to you if you are able?

Please note: Although I am an EAP provider/affiliate for many EAP companies, this blog post does not reflect any one company in particular and is based solely on my understanding of the EAP referral process.

EAP benefits provide therapy sessions at no cost to the employee.

EAP benefits provide therapy sessions at no cost to the employee.