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 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 Stephanie McCrackenMarch 19, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, sexuality, Uncategorized0 comments
As a psychotherapist who offers marriage counseling, affairs and their aftermath are sometimes ironed out amidst my office couch. Both parts of the couple struggle to make sense of the betrayal and its costs, they often seek a professional to find the answers to questions such as; should we stay together, should we separate, will our relationship ever be “normal,” (whatever version that may be for you), again. For both of the lovers there are painful truths to identify, the person who was cheating must come to terms with his or her guilt and the person who was victimized by the cheating may wonder if it is acceptable to forgive or if this somehow means that they are weak or foolish. While the answers to all of the many questions are highly complex, completely personal, and entirely up to you, if the affair has been ended and both lovers actively choose to stay there are abundant ways that you will both be able to enjoy the effects of an enhanced love bond! Here are some of the reasons why your love can rebound from an affair and be even closer and more intimate than before, provided that you both are willing and able to put in the time and work to make some big changes through the healing process.
- The affair itself is a symptom of a greater and deeper underlying problem. That problem could be anything from one of the partners acting upon impulses from narcissism, entitlement, and or sex addiction, or that there are some deficits in the relational component. For example, when the relationship is stuck in a pattern of withholding, and or criticism, when it is lacking in warmth, passion, communication and sometimes this causes one of the parties to conclude that she or he should look outside of the commitment to fill certain interpersonal needs. The affair must be understood as a symptom but also, if it addressed successfully, within every problem is an opportunity for the solution to be uncovered. Now you are free to explore the solution to the underlying issue.
- The time after the affair has been disclosed or discovered will be hallmarked by raw and real interaction, this kind of communication facilitates rebuilding. Obviously there will be a serious mourning phase caused by shattered trust and therefor many questions about who, what, when, where, and why. You both must be honest about what exactly is transpiring during this time. As the anguish ebbs allow the new to emerge. This honest and direct communication will feel refreshing as most often during an affair the communication had been stifled, the newfound open honesty will feel refreshing and serve as a great reminder to understand all of the ways that each partner was turning away from true intimate interaction previously.
- Your relationship will never be the same again and that very well could be a good thing considering the path to the affair is likely paved by anguish and deceit. Like a home that is being rebuilt there will be new walls and windows for the relationship, walls between the person who was conducting the affair and the man or woman who was facilitating the cheating, as well as shiny and new windows of transparency between the love partners. The windows should be framed in the light of honesty, openness, you may even want to place a chair nearby for reflective time, and renovations take time, work, and are not for the faint of heart!
To close and to be repetitive, the person who was having the affair must be completely honest and know that trust may not be given immediately or for a very long time to come. A message for the person who suffered the betrayal- recognize that you are healing within the cycle of grief. From anguish, anger, disbelief and all the way around you must place your long term intentions upon your healing and forgiveness for the cheating spouse. Keep your eyes on the prize however as if it is in your will, you both will eventually move beyond this troubling time and into a better relationship which will someday be capable of casting meaning upon this day when you are suffering the effect of the human misgivings of betrayal.
Sharing in happiness and love,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh
Pa 15233 Suite 100
by Stephanie McCrackenMarch 4, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, Uncategorized0 comments
Some incredible orator stated “Two broken wings won’t fly.” A healthy relationship or marriage is explicitly the product of the intentional and harmonious blending of two actualized psyches. True love and true life require wholeness and awareness. Self-help, self-talk, self-betterment, are all words of our time and just about everyone seems to be on the journey of self and relational growth, yet when it comes to the loves process we may be wondering what the notion of wholeness means. This may be particularly relevant when tracing the route through past relationships and recognizing that there is some naggingly similar quality to those in the rearview. Similarly, you may be married or in a relationship and wondering why you notice a certain je ne cest quoi ebbing into ether, placing you onto the familiar path of conflict speckled by a pervading sense of loneliness. Perhaps you are unattached but when your gaze falls upon the rearview you see lovers left to the wayside like mile markers off of the highway. All in all, its a fine moment to reflect upon wholeness. Not that the act of loving requires any encouragement to unfold, there is an powerful drive or instinct to experiencing love. The manner in which humans repeatedly attempt and often fail to sustain love is evidence of the intensity of this instinct, wanting to share our lives within the context of a meaningful and rich romantic bond. The heartfelt sensations which are a product of engaging in loves virtues and risks are certainly the most ebullient, ecstatic, soothing, and dually frustrating and disappointing! To love is a process by which the culmination of all of these sensations is inevitable, to love is a spiritual and complete act, yet it is also a specific skill set. If you sincerely believe that you have worked towards the mindset which embodies your best current version of you then you may be prepared to enter into a dance of this ancient and sacred heart song.
Step it on out of yourself! A loving relationship requires that we step out of ourselves to meet the needs of our beloved. Loving is most certainly not all about you! To love we must see beyond our own sore spots and insecurities to be present, empathetic, and understanding to the emotional, physical, and spiritual parts of those who are loving. This is no small feat, given the myriad of questions and concerns which arise as a part of a loving relationship or marriage. Often we will need to reflect upon our entire selfhood in relation to another and assess those things which the relationship, like a mirror, may show to us, this is at times startling to a psyche both well developed and those egos which may be in the midst of crumbling.
Love Song Birds Being whole requires attunement to the abundant social cues which are promenaded upon the faces of our fellow humans. Many people are perfectly competent to sustain friendships but when entering the unique atmosphere of romance our sore spots become stimulated by our mate’s. Our lover with their wants and needs and the intimate fact that to understand and accept, this is love in action. Why these sore spots? Remembering our first example of how to give and receive love and attention began as early as infancy. Messages internalized by the way that our mother or primary caretaker mirrored our expressions and responded to our cries, setting up and ever solidifying the evolving pattern of our being within the world. When your lover comes to you to say that she or he has had a terrible day, in that moment do you respond with equal concern and inquisitiveness? Do you launch into problem solving mode, speaking at length about how you can relate? Do you immediately become frustrated that you are stuck in dealing with their feelings or do you feel bad about yourself because you can’t fix it all for your love? So many highly personal responses to one elegantly poised prompt. Most often and simply when a lover comes to us in distress they are only seeking the opportunity to be heard and understood. In the very powerful act of giving that distraction free moment or ten we are filling our lover with the hypnotic sound of our loving song.
A touch of authenticity– It takes courage to be authentic especially with the person we love, it can be frightening to imagine their perceived judgment and fear. Psychological theorist Fritz Perl’s states that psychological distress stems from the proportion that a person lives inauthentically. All of those moments that you squash your verbal impulse to stay with the crowd or forgo offending your lover’s sensitivities certainly take an undeniable toll! Agree to attend the theater or the football game even though you loath it? Or perhaps you lie by omission in order to avoid a conflict? No matter the justification, being inauthentic stink the rot of decay. As Perls would say, you are being “phony” and it incurs a psychological cost, while it’s certainly important to make social trades and compromise its best to enjoy relationships which do not tax your dislikes too often and also make room for us to be authentic in representing our likes, values etc. Being phony runs the risk fanning the flames of eating the fiery venom resentment or making one into an inauthentic drone. One should also examine the part of his or her self which would continually betray one’s own essence for another person’s approval. Simultaneously if you are actually in a relationship with one who would sincerely limit or judge your solo activities then there may be even more questions which you could explore. In life and love must choose and act wisely. “Keep it real” express, fears, taboo, passions, with astonishing honesty and gusto.
Express Vulnerabilities – Love requires that we examine ourselves, own our emotional baggage and then we must feel safe to lay it upon the feet of our beloved, trusting that he or she will respond with tenderness and empathetic care. This can be a mountainous task for those who keep the pain of early or recent betrayals, trauma, heartbreak, or even for those who have never enjoyed the luxury of an open environment which lavished empathy and compassion upon pains. Lovers who were initially able to bask in the trusting atmosphere of a mutually nurturing atmosphere will still sometimes notice things falling off the tracks and wrecking into a place where less productive interpersonal patterns evolve. In this damaged place the expression of vulnerabilities becomes forbidden and is often replaced by defensiveness. This being said it is by allowing our lover into the areas of tenderness and softness that we develop trust and warmth the compassionate comfort which can only be produced by lovers who have navigated through many storms and basked through many summer suns together.
How can you apply these basics to your own love, if you are saying that you can’t really apply any of this they I would imagine that you may not be completely honest with yourself. The act of loving is one which is ever co-evolving and no matter how well or not so well we are doing it, there are ways which we can improve it.
In love and kindness,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy and Relationship Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Ave Pittsburgh Pa 15233Learn More