by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 3, 2021 healthy relationships, marriage, marriage counseling, marriage counseling near me, marriage counseling pittsburgh, marriage counseling south hills, marriage counseling wexford, meaning of rituals0 comments
Creating a love that lasts takes time and commitment. One of the keys to this kind of love is intentionality. Intentionality is acting in a deliberate manner that shows your partner that you love them. It might look like cooking a nice meal for your partner, or getting them a special coffee, or maybe another gift like flowers. Being intentional is a necessity to maintain romance and foster a fun and exciting atmosphere in your relationship! As a couple it is important to foster a sense of intentionally, not just toward your partner, but toward your relationship as a whole. Taking time to create Rituals of Connection is one of the best ways to intentionally foster love and intimacy. Rituals of Connection are specific times of interaction, both informal and formal, that help couples come together and build intimacy. Building rituals of connection is a way to deepen your connection and create shared meaning in your relationship.
Rituals of connection can be simple and informal, like sharing meals together, the way you leave for work, coming home from work, working out together, and even rituals before bed. They can also be more formal and scheduled, such as planned relationship check-in’s, weekly dates, scheduling times for intimacy and romance, and routine times to release stress. Rituals of Connection also include how you as a couple celebrate achievements, anniversaries, and even hosting friends in your home.
Why is it important?
Rituals of connection create a sense of healthy anticipation and expectation for emotional intimacy. They provide ways for you as a couple to connect emotionally in a manner that is personally meaningful. You might be thinking that having this type of structure in your relationship would kill spontaneity, but it actually does the opposite! Planned out Rituals of Connection build intimacy and a sense of oneness in the relationship, and this actually increases that likelihood that you will go off the cuff and do something spontaneous. Having a planned ritual is not a structure that holds you back. It is a strong foundation that empowers your relationship to explore the world around you and grow as a couple.
The Top 5 Rituals of Connection to Create in Your Relationship
- The Daily Stress-Reducing Conversation – a Stress Reducing Conversation is a great ritual of connection to introduce into your day to day routine. A stress reducing conversation is a conversation where you simply take some time to listen to each other. It is a conversation where you simply take turns listening to each other about things that are stressing you out that don’t have to do with your relationship. This is a great time to decompress and reduce stress from work or hectic to-do lists. It is a time to listen to your partner without trying to problem solve, or correct, but just to hear them out, and understand the stressors that they are experiencing in life.
- The Weekly “State of the Union” conversation – The weekly State of the Union conversation is a weekly conversation in which you and your partner review your week in terms of your relationship. It is a time to talk about the things that went right in your relationship that week, to show appreciation for each other, to process or discuss any problems or difficulties that may have occurred, and finally to ask each other, “What can I do next week to make you feel loved?” The State of the Union conversation is a great way to stay up to date on your own relationship, set goals, and ensure that you are on the same page with your partner.
- The Weekly Date – Don’t underestimate the importance of having a weekly date! It doesn’t always have to be fancy or extravagant even having a coffee date, or maybe simply going on a walk is a great way to build your relationship. Having a weekly date is a great way to maintain a sense of adventure and fun in your relationship. Often times it can be overwhelming to plan a date, but don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Just do something! The weekly date ensures time to build emotional intimacy and check in with each other.
- Daily Cuddle Time – Couples need to be physically connected as well. Taking time each day to cuddle, hug, hold hands and kiss is a great way to connect and let your partner know you love them. Whether it is while reading, watching a movie, sharing a glass of wine or a cup of tea, being physically close to your partner builds connection and shows affection.
- Rituals about Sex – For many people talking about sex is uncomfortable, but discussing sexual needs and desires is a key component in creating a more satisfying sex life and expressing your love and connection to your partner. In love that lasts, sex is built on a foundation of friendship. Having conversations about how you would like to initiate sex and love making is crucial! Another crucial aspect of this ritual of connection is to discover a way to say “no” to sex, that works for you as a couple. It is important to be able to communicate needs to each other without ending emotional connection.
Discovering how to integrate these essential Rituals of Connection into your relationship strengthens and illuminates that bond that you share with your partner. These five rituals of connection are just a few of the many ways that you can work to establish a strong lasting relationship with your partner. Take some time this week to talk to your partner to see how you can integrate a few of them into your weekly routine!
Doherty, W. J. (1997). The intentional family: How to build family ties in our modern world. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing.
Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2018). The seven principles for making marriage work. London: Cassell Illustrated.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 12, 2021 healthy relationships, marriage counseling, marriage counseling monroeville, marriage counseling near me, marriage counseling pittsburgh, marriage counseling south hills, marriage counseling wexford0 comments
Many predict that divorce will be at an all-time high during the time of COVID-19 quarantine.
One relationship therapist emailed a survey to over 700 clients and found that thirty-one percent of respondents claimed the quarantine had hurt their relationship. With record amounts of time spent together in close quarters, it may feel like there’s no escape for a married couple, especially with none of the usual “me time” activities like gyms, spas, and dinners with friends.
For that reason, marriage counseling is more important than ever. Having a dedicated safe space to process issues, especially during a stressful situation like an ongoing pandemic, can help strengthen the bonds of a couple immensely. Below are just a few of the many reasons couples may want to seek marriage counseling.
1. Support Navigating Shared Relationships
A married couple has many important relationships outside of their marriage itself. The dynamics of these relationships can also affect a marriage. Couples may need outside advice on how to properly set boundaries and interact with children, parents, in-laws, friends, and members of blended families. A third-party who is impartial can be especially helpful in these scenarios because problems often arise when both members of a couple have a different relationship with one of these outside people.
2. Help with Sexual Issues
Many times, underlying relationship issues play out in the bedroom. Sexual issues can come up again and again, shaping a large part of a couple’s intimacy issues. Luckily, studies show that improvement is largely possible, especially when a sex therapist gives both partners coping strategies to employ when they encounter sexual difficulties. A study that followed 140 couples over the course of one to six years of sex therapy found that the long-term outcome for those seeking sex therapy was excellent, and the results carried over into the couples’ attitudes about their relationship in general.
3. Gaining an Impartial Ear
When weathering marital troubles, many people seek advice from friends and family who bring their own biases to the table. For example, someone’s mother is likely to want to see them as innocent and their partner as the villain. Marriage counselors don’t have previous associations with either party. They are more likely to hear both partners’ concerns fairly.
4. Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity
Studies show that between 20 and 40 percent of married people end up seeking an extramarital affair. These statistics are especially troubling when 42 percent of divorces cite infidelity as one of the causes. That said, when the right steps are taken, infidelity does not have to end in divorce, and a couple can ultimately rebuild broken trust and become even stronger.
According to Psychology Today, part of the process involves an opportunity for both parties to discuss the whole truth. It’s natural for the person who has been cheated on to have many questions they feel need to be answered to regain trust. To reach a place of forgiveness, the transgressor needs to be emotionally honest and take responsibility for what they have done. Without taking this step forward, forgiveness may not be found and an intimate connection may not be restored. A relationship expert can help couples navigate this tricky process together.
5. Avoiding the “Four Horsemen” of Conflict
Relationship expert John Gottman has defined the four horsemen of the “apocalypse” of a relationship: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. None of these are productive ways to respond to a partner, and employing these tactics will only heighten tensions and drive a couple further apart. A marriage counselor can help a couple identify when they are responding to each other in these unproductive ways and help suggest healthy alternatives that promote a healthier conversation.
6. Creating a Safe Space
Rather than bringing negative energy into the home, it can be helpful to have a neutral territory to discuss conflicts. Furthermore, a therapist’s office provides a space for a couple to discuss their issues away from those who may overhear them, such as children or other family members. A couples therapy session is a place where each party can feel safe being honest without fear of judgment.
7. Fostering an Attachment Bond
While attachment science is often discussed regarding child development, it is equally important for adults. Emotionally Focused Therapy is an emerging field that focuses on a couple’s attachment to one another. A secure attachment bond has shown to provide resilience to the couple and improved self-esteem to each individual. Therapy provides a time and place for a married couple to get to know each other better and become more secure in their bond.
When things may look grim for a person’s marriage, there is always help. Like all things, when a couple is willing to put in the time and effort, they can look forward to the reward of a healthier, happier relationship. Marriage counseling can help married couples find common ground and feel bonded once again.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghSeptember 24, 2019 comfortable relationship, counseling south hills, marriage counseling monroeville, marriage counseling south hills, marriage counseling wexford0 comments
8 Things you should do to make your relationship comfortable
- Have a disagreement! Most of us in the clinical world agree that it takes at least 2 years for a person to trust enough to become really honest about their past, present, and futures. If you haven’t disagreed with your partner, you don’t really have a relationship, its an acquaintanceship.
- Don’t tell your friends, family, about your relationship issues, talk to your partner about what you feel. While everyone at times uses others as a sounding board if you turn to others more than your partner to vent, you are likely robbing your relationship of important life blood.
- State your needs not your criticisms. People fear stating a position in a relationship because they don’t know how to be constructive and supportive so they instead fiend silence and then explode or repress their true selves until the relationship deteriorates. When we tell our partner what we need, we allow our partner and the relationship an opportunity to grow and nothing is more comfortable than a relationship that is evolving.
- Make time for yourself that doesn’t involve your partner. Keep your friends and solo activities, if you don’t have some, you will likely over rely on your partner for social support and approach your relationship from a perspective of need instead of strength. We can’t have a comfortable relationship if we cant stand on our own.
- Be vulnerable, share your insecurity, were you bullied as a kid? Went through an over weight stage or worked through stuttering? Say it, if this is your person, you must take small risks of sharing your vulnerable aspects, this is how trust is built by making small disclosures over time!
- Tell them what you really enjoy sexually, sexually intimacy is founded on trust and honesty conveyance of what turns you on and off, indicating your pleasure to your partner is paramount to enjoying a healthy sexual relationship.
- Share your dreams, what is your 5 year plan? Sharing this with your partner is a great way to grow closer together, or not. Especially if this is a newer relationship each of you can think honestly about the direction in which you see your life going.
- What are your boundaries or no go zones? These can be emotional, physical, interpersonal. Boundaries are unique for each of us. Some common ones include how you will interact with others, whether your relationship will be monogamous, frequency of communication. Boundaries teach others how we need to be loved and they define where one person ends and other begins.
Comfort is important in a relationship if it indicates that we have trust, respect, and attraction. Yet some people site that too much comfort can also detract from the relationship and erode at sexual attraction and contribute to feelings of boredom, we believe it is important to all yourself to be bored in a relationship and intolerance of boredom is an internal problem with ourselves.
Be well with us,
Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, NCC
Contact us today at 412-856-WELL to book an appointment for Therapy, Marriage, or Family Counseling at one of our 4 conveniently located centers:
Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, NCC is a certified counselor and founder of Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania’s largest and most trusted wellness therapy practice. Stephanie specializes in relationships and providing marriage counseling and she has been featured on local television and Huff Post where she acts as a thought leader on relationships.Learn More
No Sexual Chemistry in Your Relationship? Here are some ways that you can talk about it without them taking it personally.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 20, 2019 sexual chemistry, talking to your partner about sex0 comments
What can you do if you and your partner just don’t seem to have good sexual chemistry? Wondering it there are there ways to overcome it? How can you talk to them about it without them taking it personally? If you have ever wondered about the answers to these questions, we have you covered, read on!
Having a great sex life with a partner, assuming you both have already established an interest in each other takes awareness and intention if we are talking about a long term relationship. To enjoy ‘off the charts sexual chemistry’ really means that both you and your partner have compatible needs for sexual frequency, sexual style, that your anatomy is compatible and for many people having some degree of emotional connection also factors in to sexual chemistry. Having a great sex life doesn’t actually start in ‘the bedroom’, at least not when sex is coupled with a long-term relationship. Even if your relationship started with a lot of sexual energy, there is no promising that this will continue in years to come. ‘Habituation’, the tendency for our responses to any stimuli to become dulled or muted with greater frequency of exposure dictates that the same sexual positions and responses which were once wildly arousing will eventually become less arousing.
Good news, There are things that can be done to bring some of the arousal back! If on the other hand the relationship has always lacked sexual passion or chemistry, then think thoroughly by taking an internal assessment of whether the sexual component of the relationship is actually important to you. According to the Kinsey institute, we all have different sexual needs. There are many components to a healthy relationship, sexual intimacy is just one of them. If you are an extremely sexual person and can’t imagine life with less than 5 steamy sex sessions in a week, a relationship with poor sexual chemistry might not be a good fit for you. If you enjoy sex but are happy with ones a week or a few times per month, maybe it will be satisfying to maintain a long term relationship with less sexual chemistry as long as you have an intimate conversation with your partner about what is happening between the two of you. Without any sort of mutual understanding about the sexual relationship, it becomes likely that resentment will build over time and start to erode at the other parts the relationship which might otherwise be very nurturing and meaningful.
A great way to start a conversation about the sexual relationship is to; Ask your partner what they think of the sex you have been having! You could be surprised to learn that they too have been struggling with it, or perhaps they have a history or sexual aversion, sexual shame, or a sexual arousal disorder that prevents them from enjoying their full sexual potential. Ask them what turns them on the most and what you can do to make them sexually comfortable. You also might ask if they talked about sex in their family growing up or did they receive a lot of sexually shaming information about how taboo and bad it is to be sexually intimate. You will likely be able to tell if they suffer from sexual shame as the conversation about sex will be palpably difficult for them with stammering, blushing, and bouts of silence. After understanding more about their perceptions of sex and needs for sexual frequency and style of sexual intimacy, share a bit about your own thoughts, feelings, and needs. When we talk about our own needs, we always use constructive language that presents opportunities for understanding and if your partner takes that personally or becomes defensive, there might be something to further explore with a sex therapist or marriage counselor.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 19, 2019 gottman counselor, gottman marriage counseling, gottman method counseling, marriage counseling near me, sound relationship house0 comments
Gottman Method Marriage Counseling
Gottman Method Couples counseling is a form of therapy created by Drs John and Judy Gottman, which aims to support a positive and constructive relationship between two married or dating partners. Gottman method counseling is grounded in research and is proven to be one of the most effective ways to help couples enhance their relationship. The theory identifies the ‘Sound Relationship House’ as the model that helps the marriage counselor and couple conceptualize the parts to their marriage or relationship. The Sound Relationship house includes the following, from the basement up: Love Maps, Shared Fondness and Admiration, Turn Toward instead of Away, The Positive Perspective, Managing Conflict, Make life Dreams Come True, Shared Meaning and the two walls of the Sound relationship house: Trust and Commitment. Let us examine each of these components to your relationship house.
Love Maps denotes the amount of cognitive space that our partner takes up in our thoughts. When we spend time talking with our partner we generally can stay in tune with what is important to them including their interests and people close to them. Often in the beginning of a relationship there is a lot of time spent on getting to know our partner. Love Maps need to be continually updated and this only happens with shared time and connection.
Shared Fondness and Admiration All of our relationships are a mirror of ourselves. When we notice that we or our partner doesn’t respect, admire, or care for us, we both start to feel poorly about ourselves as well as the relationship. Healthy relationships are full of respect and care that are exhibited and practiced on a daily basis. We have many ways to express fondness and admiration, including the love languages of Verbal Affirmations, Physical intimacy, Time Spent, Acts of Service, and Gifts. Fondness is expressed in what we say and do as well as how we say and do it.
Turning Toward instead of Away Couples make bids for each other’s attention and time regularly when they are in love. It is important to analyze how each person is responding to the bids by either turning toward it in acceptance, turning away, or even turning against. The Gottmans recommend a 5:1 ratio of turning toward each others bids for every one time in a day we turn away. A bid might be, “look out the window honey, the sun is so beautiful right now!” If Johnny the husband accepts that bid by saying, “oh yes, it is beautiful.’ Then Sandy the wife feels connected, understood and pleased that she has shared a marriage moment with her husband. If instead Johnny the husband says, ‘Why are you bothering me?” That bid has instead been turned against. If Johnny the husband doesn’t respond that is an example of turning away. Everyone will miss some bids sometimes, but healthy relationships accept five bids for each one they miss. Turning against bids has predictive value to divorce according to the Gottmans’ research.
The Positive Perspective A Gottman Method Couples Counselor is always analyzing whether a relationship is in a negative or positive perspective. This is really the color of the fabric of the relationship, the perceptual lens through which our partner’s behavior is viewed. When we are in positive sentiment overload, everything our partner does is cute, loveable, and easily accepted as well as overlooked. Conversely, Negative Sentiment overload is when we believe that everything our partner does is evidence of their failing or lack of caring. Think about your partner being 10 minutes late for dinner. In positive sentiment overload we would think, ‘I hope she is ok, I know how much she would want to be here on time.’ In the same scenario if we were in negative sentiment overload, we would think, “What a clown, she never takes anything seriously and is late all the time!” Perception is the foundation of our thoughts and feelings, and they contribute to our response to our partner which also contributes to their response to us.
Managing Conflict Every form of couples therapy should help the couple learn to manage conflict if those skills are not already in place. Conflict is one of the most common reasons that a couple decides to enter counseling.
Making Life Dreams Come True The best and most healthy relationships allow us to have a balanced and peaceful sentiment from which dreams and goals are born. When our partner is on our side, they collaborate with us to make personal and shared dreams happen. Conversely when we feel that our partner has different dreams and goals or is non-supportive of ours, little bits of those dreams and our love for our partner can begin to erode.
Shared Meaning Do you feel that you and your partner are on the same page and moving in the same direction, do you share friends, do you have rituals that help you move through time together like a weekend retreat? How do you continue to connect with your partner over the years?
Trust and Commitment In the Sound Relationship House, all of the preceding points serve as layers to the house, with the bottom ones needing to be in place before moving on to the next level. Trust and Commitment are the walls and without the walls to a house, even the strongest foundation will not make a safe home. Trust is more than trusting that your partner is honest and monogamous or non-monogamous if that is what is agreed upon, it is faith in consistent reliability. Commitment is equally important. If the relationship uses tactics of holding the relationship hostage by threatening to leave, it is difficult to have trust in the commitment. Both parts are necessary to open up, feel safe, and stay motivated to care for each other.
Just like with the house or home that you live in, your relationship requires consistent care and attention to become the best version of itself. When we care for our home and our love, it cares in return by providing safety, warmth, and can become a place of magic which is worth every bit of time that we put into it.
Call for your appointment todayLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 18, 2018 premarital counseling, premarital counseling questionnaire, premarriage counseling, wellness counseling0 comments
Premarital Counseling Questionnaire
If you have recently answered ‘yes’ to a marriage proposal, then along with the rush of planning your version of the perfect wedding you also may also be considering whether you should be going to premarital counseling. Premarital counseling is a form of couples therapy that emphasizes wellness, you can learn more about the process here. Our counselors have put together a premarital checklist to look at your relationship and to determine if it makes the wellness grade for relationship health, this will help you and your partner to understand some parts of your relationship in a deeper way. Don’t be afraid to feel a little uncomfortable, these are not the kinds of questions that you normally think about but that also is what makes them especially powerful to assess the strengths and various qualities of your unique partnership. This does not replace premarital counseling but it does help you each to examine your relationship in a mindful and healthy way.
- Why do you want to get married?
- What roles do you see for yourself in your marriage?
- What do you imagine might be your biggest challenge in being married?
- What makes your relationship unique?
- How do your friends and family view your relationship with your partner?
- What is your idea of the perfect wedding?
Are there others who are close to you who have different ideas for how your wedding should go?
How do you each talk about your thoughts and needs on this topic?
- How do you manage conflict?
- What are each of your conflict resolutions styles?
- What has been a challenge for your conflict resolution?
- How you repair conflict?
- When you feel stress how can you partner help you?
- How would you describe your communication style?
Is it generally easy for you to talk about your needs?
Do you find you over communicate your needs?
Do you have an attacking communication style?
Do you become very emotional when you communicate?
- How similar or different are each of your sexual libidos?
Describe the amount of foreplay that you have with your partner on average?
Do you feel able to initiate lovemaking?
Do you feel able to decline sex with your partner?
Are you able to orgasm?
Do you have sex that is non-penetrative?
- What are some of your financial concerns about your future together?
- What is your ritual around managing the finances?
- How do you handle household maintenance like cooking and cleaning?
- Do you plan to have children together?
- What trait do you most admire in your partner?
- What is one mutual goal between the two of you?
- What do you see yourselves doing in 10 years?
- What do you see yourselves doing in 20 years?
With the help of questions like these, you and your partner can begin the lifelong process of deepening your understanding of yourselves and each other, keeping in mind, your answers to these questions will likely change over time. That is normal and to keep your marriage healthy, you should continually check in with each other and have hard conversations about things that matter to you. Wellness means that we manage and care for ourselves and our relationships in a way that keeps them strong and happy and that we strategically plan for success by growing our relationship to be stronger. Great marriages are created intentionally by addressing individual and relationship needs, prioritizing connection, listening and compromising. None of which are easy, but all of which are well worth it to live happily, in love, for the rest of your life.
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh PA 15233
2539 Monroeville PA 15146.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 16, 2018 counseling, marriage counseling, mindfulness0 comments
Relationship Wellness Checklist, A Mindful Marriage Moment
Marriage, relationships, couple-dom, all forms of interpersonal dynamics work based upon unstated rules, we peacefully and automatically operate with a lifetime of typical exchanges. Some moments are peppered with glimmers of joy, one part emotional support, heaps of memories made, when we are being good stewards of love we dutifully maintain our promises for commitment. How to maintain contented connections with our loved ones isn’t usually a goal that we think about until something starts to go wrong. We know that to keep our minds, bodies, and spirits healthy, mindfulness holds the keys to happiness and longevity. The wellness model has useful applications to marriage counseling and couples therapy, we have compiled a 5-part relationship wellness checklist – lets take a moment to see how well your relationship makes the grade.
- Do you disagree and air grievances with your partner? By disagreeing, we mean constructively having a discussion about things that are bothering you within the relationship. One very ominous behavior pattern is when a couple comes in for therapy and tells the therapist or counselor that they never argue. We know that this is usually a sign of relationship disease. In this situation, it is likely that one or both partners are withholding vital information and may even be passive aggressive and building resentment by not discussing their true feelings. This communication fallacy is a product of imagining that by not being open about annoyances that they are preserving their bond. Withholding feelings and missing chances to constructively manage disagreements is a relationship destroyer and leads to emotional disengagement in the long term.
- Does your relationship have intimacy? The concept and behaviors associated with intimacy are multifaceted. Intimacy is a dynamic synergy of emotional trust, physical connection, and having shared meaning within the relationship. Intimacy is built over time and is facilitated through travailing joys and difficulties together for example, by exhibiting the ability to offer emotional support through a crisis.
- Do you check in with each other through the day? Many of us have demanding jobs and schedules, even having to endure travel to maintain our work responsibilities. Yet, our cell phones and Skype provide us with a chance to tighten the chasm of disconnection by having some face-time, texting, or calls through the day. It is important to turn toward our partner to share highlights and check in, and this characteristic is something that healthy relationships do have in common. Alternately, this doesn’t mean to call every hour and lapse into conflict if our relationship is not experiencing as much face-time as we would like. We should highlight that checking in, is a natural response to feeling connected and participating in the intimacy of our friendship with our partner.
- Is there sexual and non-sexual touching between you and your partner? Both forms of touch are very important in our relationships, while many couples go through periods of lower sexual frequency, they stay connected by touching, hand holding and having other forms of non-sexual touch. Both forms, sexual and non-sexual touch are equally vital for our sense of well-being and bonding. Keeping in mind, consensual intimate touch provides a cascade of hormonal responses, releasing Oxytocin which is dubbed the cuddle hormone and facilitates bonding.
- Who do you turn to for support? Can you name 5 people? Is your partner one of those people? If your partner is not one of the top 5 people who you turn to for support, your relationship may be headed for trouble and this is an indication signaling that your relationship may be prey to a deeper issue worth exploring with a marriage counselor or couples therapist.
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The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh serving 5 locations with 75 counselors in Western Pennsylvania
- 830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh, Pa 15233
- 2539 Monroeville Blvd Monroeville, Pa 15146
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by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 1, 2018 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, psychology0 comments
Repair or Run the Other Way? My partner had an affair, Should I Stay or Go?
If you or your partner has recently discovered an affair has been happening in your relationship, in this moment you are likely trembling, a blurry fury of agonizing hurt, the entire relationship now may feel foreign to you. As a couples counselor affairs and their tempestuous aftermath are ironed our my office couch. Both parts of the couple struggle to make sense of the betrayal and its costs, couples seek aid and asylum to find the answers to questions such as; should we stay together or separate, will our relationship ever regain a sense of normalcy, ‘am I weak or foolish for thinking of staying?’ ‘how can we fix this?”
A relationship is founded and grows upon a platform of trust, without the reinforcement that trust provides, the person who was victimized by the affair will be thrust into a state of panic, questioning every action and motive of their life and partner. An affair is a trauma to the relationship, often people who have learned of, or been told about an affair from their partner, suffer from symptoms similar to PTSD or Acute Stress Disorder. Sleeplessness, anxious and intrusive thoughts and images, fear of it happening again. Within the wake of this mountain of emotional upheaval they create their next course of action, remain together or disassemble their lives. Use this guideline to weigh the options, keeping in mind the decision is one that must be made by ones self, as it is personal, intimate, and an infinitely complex choice to make.
- Is the partner who committed the affair being accountable? There must be a high level of accountability if the relationship will be repaired. This means that the cheating spouse accepts responsibility for his or her actions. If instead your partner is blame shifting or gaslighting, by saying that the affair is your fault or someone else’s fault, or if he or she is trying to minimize the impact or the hurt this will not work. The relationship must have truth to begin the healing process. It can be very frightening to own up, and some personality types that are antisocial, psychopathic, or narcissistic will likely use more defensiveness when met with the truth and or will struggle with empathy for their betrayed partners hurt. Under these circumstances it won’t be possible to work thought what happened in a healthy way.
- Has communication been cut off with the paramour? If communication is on going with the alternate partner there is no chance that the relationship can heal from the betrayal. There are people who will try to stick it out and court their partner while he or she tries to figure out which partner to choose. This is not a recipe for healthy connection, jumping around doing the “pick me dance” will likely lead to a major impact on self esteem and an internal sense of anxiety and profound sadness. Many couple’s therapists will not treat a relationship when there is an active affair happening.
- Is your partner willing to have greater transparency with you? This means giving you the codes to his or her phone, email, and social media accounts. Even with the codes and access to your partners interactions, it will take a herculean effort to restore any sense of safety or trust. This is a good first step in letting ones partner in and pushing the affair partner out.
- Do you want to do the work or forgiveness? While it is true that the affair is often symptomatic of deeper issues, the aftermath puts a tremendous strain on both parties. Deciding to work through and forge forgiveness is a toll which most heavily gets heaped upon the person who has experienced the betrayal. If you have learned that an affair has happened in your relationship and that you want to work on repairing it, you will simultaneously actively be committing to forgiving, this will be exquisitely difficult. After enough time has passed, you will be required to work through the process of handling anger, hurt, sadness, resentment, jealously, insecurity, all in the name of staying with your partner. Keep this in mind as it may not be for everyone which is ok!
All of these grim facts in mind, there is hope, if the above questions can be answered with certainty then there is a path to be forged toward forgiveness. Not an easy one but it is possible to have a connection which is stronger after an affair. Trust is a formula of consistency over a time, trust can be rebuilt if the formula is followed. With understanding, truth, and commitment, love is a robust and golden vessel which proudly contains the tender blossoms of our lives. A vessel that is able to withstand complete annihilation and be recreated to become gleaming and full again, or sometimes it is best to pluck our precious contents and replant somewhere anew…
In love and care,
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh and Monroeville
Stephanie Wijkstrom MS, LPC, NBCCLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 9, 2018 autism, child therapy, clinical herbalist, co-parenting, counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, educational, marriage counseling, mindfulness, Parent Child Interaction Therapy, parenting, therapist, wellness0 comments
Jackie Mandock, LPC, NCC, LBSC, MH is a counselor at Counseling and Wellness Centers of Pittsburgh- Monroeville. She provides therapy to children, adolescents, families, couples, and adults. Jackie approaches therapy from a holistic perspective, always staying mindful of how the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected. Jackie is certified in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and is trained in parent-child interaction therapy. She has worked with many different concerns in these specialized populations ranging from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder to trauma, as well as anxiety and depression. Jackie is also a licensed behavioral specialist with a strong background in autism. Jackie was a school-based therapist and is familiar with school concerns and supporting educational issues. She is a graduate of University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors in Psychology and Neuroscience and from Chatham University with a Masters in Counseling Psychology. Jackie also has a Master Herbalist diploma from American College of Health Sciences.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 9, 2018 co-parenting, counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, mental health, mindfulness, psychotherapy, therapists, therapy, wellness0 comments
Melissa Taylor, LMFT, MS is a very enthusiastic and compassionate professional that believes in the power of combining counseling and physical activity when working through personal issues. As a marriage and family therapist, Melissa works through family system issues that may influence a person’s current life situation, relationship issues, and emotional instability. As individuals, we have grown up with different family dynamics, viewed many family relationships and observed different ways of communicating that influence present time relationships and how we cope with issues. Family patterns exist, so Melissa helps people identify and understand those patterns, and then learn how they influence current problems. Melissa has worked for years with adults and adolescents that have been abused, abandoned, felt depression and anxiety, or struggle with current relationships; therefore, she is very comfortable working with individuals, couples and families that are dealing with past and current difficulties. She encourages self-care practices through counseling and exercise to build self-esteem, trust, communication and coping skills, to improve their own lives. Melissa is a psychoanalytic therapist that also provides CBT and other family system theories in her work. She encourages clients to trust her and themselves in the counseling process to work together towards healing and personal goals.
Melissa has lived in multiple states to complete her education and build her career while learning different cultures. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the University of Kentucky, and completed her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She also had the privilege of completing a Master’s degree in Kinesiology at LSU in Baton Rouge, which allows her to integrate physical activity for clients in their therapeutic treatment process. She has provided therapy in Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Texas and now Pennsylvania. She has worked with Rape Crisis Centers, FQHC’s, Inpatient and Outpatient locations, integrated healthcare centers, and group practices. Melissa has experience in different levels and types of mental health care and has learned how mental health symptoms affect all populations.
Melissa recently moved to Pittsburgh from Texas and enjoys exploring her new city with her husband and two young children. She enjoys playing and teaching her children, Zumba and other exercises, and cooking with her family. Melissa is very energetic and is always seeking new experiences for herself and her family.Learn More