by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 12, 2019 conversations for couples, counseling near me, how to tell that your relationship will lead to marriage, marriage and family statistics, premarital counseling near me0 comments
According to the US National Bureau of Family and Marriage Statistics, in 2017 there were 130 million married couples living in the US. Still, not every relationship is going to make it to the altar, it is even true that not every healthy or compatible relationship will have long term potential. The issue is that everyone is looking for something a little different to inspire them to settle down, even if you and your partner might connect well from your perspective, there are other factors which influence the choice to commit deeper. For instance, your partner may not be ready for that commitment or may have a different vision for the kind of relationship that they want. You are likely feeling anxious and wanting some sign to know which direction your partner sees things headed. Here are 8 ways to tell that your partner isn’t that into you.
- Your partner uses “I” instead of “we.” Generally, there is a lot of use of the word ‘we’ when connected partners talk about their life, their past, and their future. If your partner is still using “I” to talk about their 5 year plan they probably aren’t that into you.
- There is a lot of making up and breaking up, or if your relationship is toxic.
- Doesn’t make plans more than a week or few days in advance. If your partner is fairly last minute and doesn’t talk about your summer vacation or what you might do for holiday’s then they are probably not that into you.
- You haven’t met your partners family. Meeting the family is a signal that your partner is invested in making you a part of their life. If you have been together for 6 months or more and haven’t met their family then this guy isn’t all that into you.
- Do you talk/text/communicate every day? If there isn’t daily communication it is likely that your partner may not be very committal or into you.
- Your partner hasn’t posted any pictures with you on social media. Of course we don’t want to define our relationships by how they measure on social media but we do know that partners who are into you enjoy occasionally sharing a photo of them being together on social media.
- Your partner never talks about your marriage and family or a future together. If your partner were open to the idea of marriage or forever together, you would know it because they would mention it. If they don’t discuss the topic ever its probably because it is the furthest thing from their mind.
- If he has never ask whether you’re seeing other people, it might be because they are not that into you. Genders react differently to love, men are wired to feel a sense of protectiveness from a partner who he shares a sexual bond, if his testosterone is coursing in high volume with you, he will want to know that you are not seeing others and if not, your partner isn’t that into you.
- You are under 27 years old. If you are young, the people you are dating are a little less likely to want to get married or be your forever relationship. The lack of long term potential may have nothing to do with you but merely a reality of the numbers with the national average a man marries is 29.8 and for women 27.8, if you are dating earlier than that you are encountering people who are experimenting with relationships.
If you are noticing these signs, the best thing to do is to talk to your partner about them and ask what they think, a good opener is, ‘I have been thinking about you and I and its hard for me to tell where this is going, do you see long term potential between us?’ This might lead to a deep conversation about your partners perspective and take some of the guess work out of your future together. Read here for more premarital questions for couples and intimate questions and conversations.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 7, 2017 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, dating, divorce, marriage counseling, meditation, personal growth, psychology, therapists, therapy, wellness, wisdom, yoga0 comments
The Valentine’s Day Love Manual For Singles, Married, and Those Who Never Want to Date Anyone Ever
We develop patience because we come to understand demandingness, we best learn to love by having our hearts broken, when our dignity is usurped, and our sanity called into question, sometimes this is the starting point for some wondrous growth and opportunity. We develop spirit by first living soullessly, we begin the path toward discipline because we know the deleterious dangers of living in the aimless direction of ego and ID driven revelry. For the month of February, many of us are more focused on love and relationships with Valentine’s Day upon us. As therapists, as women, humans, lovers and people who know just a little bit about the psychology of relationships, we offer this, The Valentine’s Day Love Manual for Singles, Married, Dating, and Those Who Never Want to Date Anyone Ever. Lets make love to the world with our song, our breath, our actions, and the beautiful ripples of our actions come to life.
1-“The First Rule of The Love Manual” For The Singles, The Free Birds Fluttering Brightly.
Love Your Self!
If we are going to ever get anything done in this world we must first love ourselves. If we don’t come from a place of self-acceptance, self-love, self-compassion, we will never be able to move beyond animal nature, we will never have any real relationship with anyone, anything, or any project. So if you’re single and loving it, rather work on perfecting your down dog or grooming your cats mane, that’s ok, just as long as it comes from a place of mindful self-love, we think that’s swell! You see as we humans evolve, we no longer pay as much attention to where we are going but instead it is how are we getting there, what is the motivation for action? Sound lofty? It is and that’s exactly what we are going for, something a little more! We can fall in a million different directions if we don’t practice mindfulness vigilantly, we may fall backwards into lesser motivation. Motivation, if not coming from love, is then derived from ego, ego quests for power, attention, praise, control, and per The Sage and All of the Worlds Ancient Ones, the ego culminates inferior instincts.
2- “The Second Rule of the Love Manual”, To Be Used If you want to attract great love into your life;
Love Your Self!
Like attracts like or like attracts the opposite, most importantly those who we share attraction with are those who vibrate on the same frequency as our root identity or self-concept. If we are vibrating in our lower elements, or energy centers of the physical realm, we will fall into relationships that are purely on the physical realm, which can be really great if that’s what two people are wanting together. Perhaps we have entered the emotional stage of development, then we will invariably only commit to relationships which mirror that. Perhaps we are vibrating from ego, and we quest for idolatry or fame, we may look only for those who embody false values such as vanity or fame. If we value power then we connect on that plane, if we truly love ourselves, as we develop spirit, then we will only connect with those who have peaked the crescendo toward those levels of being; spirit, morality, goodness, compassion, authenticity, and respect. When we love ourselves, we only acquiesce with those who mirror to us genuine affection.
The Third Rule of The Love Manual, For Those who are in a relationship long or short term, to keep the Love Strong,
Yes, you guessed it!
Love Your Self!
How does loving yourself keep things in balance for long-term relationships? Well unless we are discussing an extreme form of narcissism, chances are we think of your partners needs and do it often. For some, it is hard or guilt inducing to incorporate some self-indulgence into life rituals. How do we make time for a jog in the park when our wife is finishing with work and will be disappointed if we aren’t at home early? Before we know it, we haven’t constructed a relationship, we have constructed a cage! We choose and choose again, others needs and requests far beyond our own and resultant we consciously and unconsciously become overwhelmed, withdrawn, frustrated, passive aggressive, withholding, and depressed. This is not helpful for our love, and furthermore when we don’t love with boundaries, healthy limits, and in loving acknowledgment of our own needs we are not participating in a relationship or marriage, this is bondage and emotional servitude. So go ahead, choose yourself, love yourself and value yourself and watch your relationships flower beautifully!
In love, kindness, warmth, and respect,
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh Therapy TeamLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghDecember 28, 2016 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, educational, meditation, mindfulness, personal growth, psychology, therapist, wellness0 comments
Wellness Hacks; 17 for 2017
Our Therapists Have Compiled 17 Wellness Hacks for your Holistic Optimization. We fancy this list diverse and have included something for individuals, couples, and lovers, we think that this list is so good that it may even have the wellness power to turn a hater to a lover or at least a frown to a smile! Why 17 you may ask? Well, because its year 2017 silly and we want to stick with the theme on this one! If you are much like the rest of the world, you may be wondering how you will fulfill your weight loss goals, how to improve your BMI and drop those pounds on the scale. Well in that case, this is not the article for you but you should continue to read anyway because our professional counselors and wellness gurus are offering you our best wellness hacks for your physical, emotional, spiritual and relational health, this stuff goes so much deeper than the numbers on a scale, when it comes to wellness, we have you covered! If you’re ever in a pinch, like on Wheel of Fortune or something, just remember this, “You can’t spell wellness without “WE”!”
Smiling when in a bad mood is scientifically proven to alter the mood- Yes that’s right, fake it till you make it has a purpose in psychology, smiling alone can be enough to lift your bad morning grumble back into your best internally smiling face and have your ready to sing a happy tune. Learn more here. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/smile-it-could-make-you-happier/
Curate a Healthy SEXXX Life- Do it and do it well, meaning feel good about it, find your orgasm, let go of the mindset that sex is chore or will put you on the naughty list. Healthy, safe, mindful, consensual sex is a stress reliever, a mood enhancer, it has predictive power into the longevity of bonds when its studied within the context of long term relationships. Don’t miss a beat, cuddle up to your partner and enjoy those sheets!
Your ego is not your amigo- Ego crusaders, the Buddhists, they know a thing or two about the ego, we don’t want to get all philosophical on you, or um maybe we do?! Ok, you caught us but how can we help but to share our enthusiasm, some magical things start to happen when we shift away from ego consciousness. According to the Yogis and Buddhists, when we let go of ego attachment and “I” we just may end up basking in the golden light of nirvana, ascending enlightenment and finding oneness with the universe, who could argue with that?!
Coconut Oil- Buy it, use it, eat it, rub it, mix it in smoothies, as an eco-friendly non-toxic furniture polish, as a conditioner, as an oil treatment, as an antimicrobial agent, as a source of fat that insulates the fibers which sustain neurofunction!!!!! Holy wow! Coconut oil is all that and some, follow this link for 107 of our favorite coconut oil uses here. http://everydayroots.com/coconut-oil-uses
Brush and Floss With Baking Soda and Peroxide- There is a reason that many of our leading tooth pastes and products use baking soda and peroxide, it’s because they work brilliantly. Give it a try!
Deep breathing meditation- Meditation and deep breathing can calm, energize, fuel the body, stop addiction, we can go on and on and on and we plan to!
Chew Slowly- One of the reasons smoothies and juices have such excellent nutritional power is because they are easy to digest once macerated. Chewing slowly helps our body produce chemicals necessary to digest and nourish. It’s no coincidence that we are hosting a mind body workshop and offering a chewing meditation in January, it’s because these things work! https://counselingwellnesspgh.com/wellness-classes-and-workshops/
Boundaries- This is key in all relationships, at other times such as in flings, marriages, or partnerships with psychopathic, narcissistic, antisocial, and borderline types clinging tight to boundaries is imperative. Step one-Create emotional, physical, and interpersonal boundaries which are minimum standard levels for treatment. Step two- if those boundaries are violated accept your hurt and anger as healthy and rational. Step 3- Assess for how to respond. Has this person overstepped boundaries before? Is it likely to happen again? Is it a threat to physical safety or emotional health? Looking at these questions will guide you to make constructive decisions moving forward.
Sleep Hygiene- Our therapists love sleep hygiene and creating wellness routines which examine how we sleep. Our nighttime rituals and how those bedtime pastimes are effecting restfulness is a great way to get those repairative, restorative, and vital Zzzzz’s on track, who could forget that sleep is one of the most fundamental building blocks for emotional and physical health.
Exercise, we can’t say enough about it for emotional wellness and longevity- Per the American heart association, as little as 30 minutes 4x a week has some benefits. We know that most Americans are missing the mark when it comes to physical activity. Yet here it is as an effective tool to boost mood, reduce anxiety, promote calm, enhance body image, yes, it is that good! Get moving whether it’s down dog or a quick jog, and for good measure, talk to your doctor to be sure exercise isn’t contraindicated for you!
Communicate and do it well- Study the language that you use to frame your thinking and your speech, it has much to do with the outcomes you experience and the way people interact with you. Whether in our family, romantic or work relationships, we should use direct, meaningful, purpose driven communication and then sit back and enjoy the results that you can create.
Listen and do it well- As an addendum to ^^^^^ it’s not only speaking that we must master but a large part of speaking is listening, as therapists, listening is our super power but this is a practice which helps all conversation. When we are at our best it’s a 50/50 deal, knowing what we need to say often begins with listening to others, and if we are being real, listening and really hearing is sometimes hard as heck because its often easy to hear what we want to hear instead of what is being said.
Dream Journal- Study those dreams, record them, start to notice the unconscious patterns and communications, it can be a huge opportunity for life transformation. Typically, the help of a psychotherapist who offers dream interpretation is necessary for this. It is often very hard to understand the meaning of our dreams but working with someone who speaks dream language and metaphor will help you to muddle through your unconscious code with ease! Let the synchronicity unfold!
Try a laughing meditation- Think that meditation is just for the strong, stoic serious types? Well think again, there are lots of forms of meditation and this one is one of our favorites. What could be more contagious than laughter? We cant think of much and this is a contagion we would like to catch!
Volunteer- We know, you barely have time to wash your socks and you’re reading these wellness hacks to get better with yourself so why are we getting all humanitarian on you? Take a cleansing breath wellness warrior. Volunteering is great for everyone and if you have never tried it, you might find that most of us are socially wired to feel good about helping. Social Exchange Theory says so if you don’t believe us! This is a two for the price of one deal!
Take time for yourself every week, make it a priority- Alright, now back to you! This one we insist upon, its necessary, its vital, its “ME TIME.” Sadly, the people who need it the most likely don’t take it much but if we are filling up the emotional cups of those who are around us we really need to serve ourselves first. Before you count yourself as selfish, it’s not just for us, it’s for our friends, spouse, and ability to achieve too…
Love and trust yourself first– This self-loving thing is our final point, this is us saving the best for a last. Be watchful of anyone who threatens, mocks, or tries to diminish your love, trust in yourself, and your precious instincts. When we lead our lives with self-love, every action becomes more natural, our behavior more nourishing, this is the final step, with brimming half-full cups we salute, we connect, we tend ourselves, each other, and the planet here! All we really need is a little self-love, la, la, laaaoove!
Peace, love, and good health,
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh Therapy Team
830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 15, 2016 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, educational, mindfulness, personal growth, popular culture, psychology, psychotherapy, wellness, wisdom0 comments
4 Lessons on Life from Farmer Jim; The Hawaiian Vanilla Farm
As a lifelong lover of all things Vanilla on a recent travel excursion in Hawaii, I opted to spend an afternoon at The Hawaiian Vanilla Companies’ farm. The farm which is a true artisans purveyor of some of the world’s best small batches of vanilla bean goodness. What was most striking about that afternoon wasn’t the lush tropical vistas, although the altitude and sea views were indeed stunning. Nor was it the fantastical process of cultivating Tahitian vanilla, which is in fact an orchid, the coveted vanilla bean are the tiny seeds which grow in the orchids stem. Botany and Geology aside, I am psychotherapist, for me, character succeeds setting, the man behind the bean is most noteworthy about that afternoon.
Jim Reddenkopp, farmer, my host, owner of the Vanilla Company is a man whose adult life began after he had acquired a dangerously steep, craggy, and startlingly cheap and unruly plot of Hawaiian land. Why purchase such a plot, a tour goer dared ask, his blank honesty, Lesson 1, ‘I had only one dream, to raise a family in Hawaii, with just enough money to buy this soil that nobody else was crazy enough to want, my wife and I were well on our way to dreams come true, we lay under glistening stars in our tent while building our home here happy as can be.’ As Jim implicitly seemed to know, the first lesson is that in mindful living every endeavor should first be aimed at cultivating our inner principals, most of the time, the rest will take care of itself if we toil hard enough.
With the thrill of striving for his goals steaming his sails he didn’t think too much about the ‘how.’ It was only in later conversation with his two university professor parents who looked to Jim, their long haired, increasingly thin, patchouli wearing son, living out his dreams in a tent in Hawaii. As good parents do, they lectured Jim and provided him with Lesson Number 2, “Better figure some things out Jim, what are you going to do with your life?” Lesson number 2 is that there will be naysayers and hurtles, Jim had been thinking about this, with lots of trial and error under his belt he had acquired a long list of all of the things which could not be done on this rocky plot of earth. It took years of failed crops for Jim to reply to his parents that he had a solution for the impossible bit of land he had been toiling, “I am going to grow Vanilla!” An excellent but complex choice, the elusive and exceptionally valuable vanilla orchid, a matter which would be much more challenging than he had anticipated.
Jim eventually mastered his craft, mastered in ways he had never thought possible in looking back. Yet the vanilla is not the thing of which Jim is most proud, closest to his heart is that his adult children have decided to stick around on the farm where they had grown up. They can be found working in the kitchen and grounds of the farm. The other tour goers kept astonishing with their consumer values, “why aren’t you growing more vanilla?” “yours is thought to be some of the best in the world! Surely there is a demand for it!” Master chefs reach out to Jim, buying out his stock of vanilla bean in advance of its harvest. Jim in his humble flannel looked to them with such brightness in his eyes, “yes, yes, but the thing is that I am already rich! My family is here with me, I like to take days off and on them I enjoy surfing. I get to grow vanilla and curate other products in a way that is comfortable and enjoyable. Work life balance is important to me.” Lesson number 3; less is often more, we should strive for balance in all things. The crowd of tour-goers looked at him curiously, some in wide eyed admiration, as though he had come to embody some elusive and novel concept, an unsung anthem which some of us had all been waiting all of our lives to hear!
Sometimes we wonder what happened to good old fashion family values, well sometimes they clock out with the 60 hour work week, we work, toil away to put food on the table, to get that bigger house, bigger promotion, yes to win at the game of life, to have that comfortable retirement and with any luck we will actually live to our 70’s to enjoy those golden years, that is a gift in itself. Yet Jim, he was living with that joy and comfort now, by embracing the values of a simple life, remaining surrounded by his loved ones, making contact with nature and his passions, his eyes seemed to sparkle with the happiness of embodying his values and don’t we all know what a tremendous accomplishment it can be to simply hold tight to our values in today’s fast paced world.
The tour continued on, we meandered over hills on a cloudless day, we walked passed a smallish house on the farm and Jim paused there, ‘this is where my father lived, he died last year.’ Myself and the other tour goers offering sad expressions, condoling comradery in understanding such loss. Jim, with dignified melancholy, gently waved it off. “Dad is gone but he died of natural causes at 88 years old right here while we held him in our arms, it was a beautiful thing and we are forever changed by it.” I paused in thinking about that, yes death is an agonizing loss for those alive to be touched by it, yet it is indeed the cost we pay to live life, the finality of it. Jim offered yet another lesson, lesson 4, that there is integrity to a long life, well-lived, clinging to loss would dishonor his father’s life. At that moment, Jims’ son popped out of the house’s shabby front door, holding the hand of a petite framed women who was waddling along with an enormous bulge in her belly. Jim waved proudly, “that is my son and daughter in law, they live there now and they are expecting their first child in a few weeks.” Ah, and now we see the circle of life continues, yes, there is so much honor in that, in a life well lived.
Wishing you all vanilla skies and sweet dreams,
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
830 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa 15233
by Stephanie McCrackenFebruary 19, 2015 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, mindfulness, new year 2015, personal growth, psychology, psychotherapy0 comments
Are you one of those people who when asked what is wrong you cross your arms over your chest and say “Nothing.” Ever notice that some people just seem to hold the power of persuasion? Maybe your husband or wife is that very person. Do you ever feel that you give so much of yourself yet often end up feeling exhausted, overworked and burdened by too many tasks? Ever notice how some people seem to have it all, others seem to listen or at least hear them? Yes for some the world effortlessly and gladly brings about their wishes. Well perhaps they hold some spiritual secret, hiding away a genie in a bottle or the like but the truth is, many people who get what they want hold certain similarities. As a counselor I note one very vital difference, these people hone in on their own wants and needs and then communicate their needs and expectations using power driven language and thinking. This is not the first article that I have written about the power of communication and I urge, if you feel that others often don’t hear you or the world most often doesn’t bring you forth the wishes and things that you want it may be time to begin to consider a different method.
It is easy to fall into a pattern of frustration and even resentment when we notice that we don’t often get our needs met in our relationships. We may feel uncared for and unimportant, yet for these very reasons we continue to hold our feelings in silence thinking they less important that our partners, our children’s, our parents, everyone’s needs but our own. Perhaps we have subtle dropped the hint that we would like to go to a certain show or restaurant and our partner obliviously keeps picking the same place for monthly date night. Or maybe those grumbling noises that we make while carrying the third load of laundry up the stairs fail to elicit even the smallest response. Our husband or wife may be just as mystified by noticing that we are grumbling or sitting silently not eating during date night. These scenarios are quite common but perhaps it’s time to try a new more direct approach.
It is often helpful to begin by writing a fantasy list. It’s not something that needs to be shared with anyone so don’t be shy, what is it that you absolutely would like to see in your life? If you were able to have your way every day what would your ideal day look like? What are some things that you imagine your husband or wife could help you with? Also add in some things that you really are grateful for and that are going well. What are some things that you have kept to yourself for a long time that you imagine your partner would be surprised to learn? Remember it’s not good for either your loved one or you to hold in truths about thoughts and feelings. After writing your list spend some time looking over it, maybe put it away for a couple of days and then bring it back out to reread it. Does it still make sense and appear relevant? Things like “On the days that I work late I would rather we order take out.” Or “I really don’t want to go to my mother in laws every weekend.” “I would like to get two days per month to attend a fitness workshop.” While this sounds like a very simple or obvious task to some, the very process of considering ones wants and needs is completely out of touch for some personality types, we put ourselves lasts in hopes that someone else may put us first yet this is not a path which often leads to wholeness or happiness, instead of content we often end up feeling used, disappointed, sad and frustrated.
In health and wholeness,
Reviving Minds Therapy
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Nicole Monteleone MA, LPC, NCCLearn More
by Stephanie McCrackenJanuary 22, 2015 counseling, couples counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, wisdom0 comments
The Grass is Always Greener, To the Brown Patches of Dirt in my Lawn, On Love and Life
The grass is always greener, the crab grass, the blue grass, the sea grass, I see it out there as one whose mind is prone to perpetual comparisons, squinting eyes contemplating between the haves and have not’s. My front lawn has large cavernous patches of dirt, etched amidst sparse littering’s of grassy blades. It’s something that really bothers me, sometimes in the way too early morning hours I lay awake and think about how to solve this problem, I should admit that I pride myself upon being a solver of life’s hasty demands. Yet this one has riddled me, how did this muddy pit get here? Once or twice I have even tried picking up all of my belongings and moving to a new home, so beside myself with this shoddy yard that I convinced myself to find a completely new house, a house with the dream lawn of my most romantic fantasies. I am not the only person to notice the grass, the grass provides the frame of ones home, the foundation for ones life, a connection to the earth, this is about so much more than the “grass,” it’s a part of ones identity, how does one manicure what is imperfect? How to maintain esteemed pride when the very things which frame my tidy house fail to meet my very own lofty standards of, “how it all should be.” Does one still thrust a pole into the lawn with a kitschy flag to commemorate each of the holidays? Does one dabble large planters upon the grass and fill them with marigolds and petunias? Maybe nobody will notice those miserable barren patches if I simply abandon all responsibility and allowing the lawn to grow long and wild, perhaps to revel in the mysterious and primal Amazonian nature of it. Coveting thy neighbors grass can become an obsession. A soothing Sunday drive to clear the mind and where am I? I am not in conversation with my fiancé who is stoically manning the wheel, I careen my neck from outside of his finely tuned automobile. I see the emerald spikes encasing the lawns of this neighbor and that, evoking for me a sense of desirous melancholy. Things can rapidly careen out of control, thoughts becoming high jacked, not wanted to walk out of the house to have someone see that this is my lawn, not wanting to be associated with those cursed drab patches of barren earth. I see my neighbors flaunting theirs, the grass that sparkles, those majestic little studs bolding jutting out from the earth, with their implicit meaning that any abode which has such grass is perfectly cared for, is more than a house, it is a home. I too want the kind that feels like that springs beneath bare feet and smells like a musky blend of lemon tart and pine needle. There are countless books written about landscaping and gardening, one can use seed or sod, barricade it to be sure nobody walks on it, or then too, one could walk on it with high heels to aerate, or perhaps enhance the soil with worms, for every curiosity help is a YouTube video, a google, or a guru away . Yet none of them say this: After a very long and drawn out rest, a celestial providence of an epiphany struck down upon me, opening up my mind with a shiny insight; nobody else is going to fix my lawn, moving isn’t going to help me find better grass, it is my very technique to tending the lawn which is lacking. It’s easy to get frustrated too much, to turn away from picnics in the grass because it doesn’t look, smell, or feel the way that one imagined it “should”. Soil samples and sod wont alleviate this eternal pondering for the clue to change the grass for good, there is a really simple way to enjoy the grassy knoll of ones dreams. Yet like all things worth cultivating, it will not be easy, lace up the old work boots and jean coveralls.
It all starts by loving the grass, those darling petite seedlings only dare rupture the earth for promise of the warming sun, give your grass warmth. Yes, I know my child, in this moment we see only barren patches of earth but I urge you to go out there and love them anyways, not just to say it but to do it, planting glorious seeds of intention. Water those blades each and every day, fill your watering can to the brim with hopeful water, set aside a collection of rainwater, the earth loves the water best which has danced amidst the clouds. Tend to your petite parcel of earth each day, when tired wield your soil crusted shovel, when fantasizing about a tropical holiday, one still must tend to the lawn. You see, I have learned something, our response to our imperfections, to those earthen patches of mud, does indeed determine our opportunities for growth. How do you tend to the patches of mud upon your lawn? Anyone can marvel at that which has been luxuriated with advantageous wonder but it takes one dedicated and master gardener to persevere with fortitude, to love a little earthen patch into a fully bloomed, springy and lustrous lawn. Just what is it in you or your relationship which just may need a little more love to blossom forth with life?
Dreaming of spring time grass, Stephanie McCracken MSPC Reviving Minds Therapy Offering Marriage or Couples Counseling and Psychotherapy 1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233 *This is an intentional fictional piece and similarity to real or actual events is sheer cosmic coincidence…Learn 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
by Stephanie McCrackenFebruary 4, 2014 couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, personal growth, psychotherapy, Uncategorized0 comments
Why Searching for a Soul Mate is Damning to Love
Soul mates, the stuff of fantasies, dreams come true, love at first sight and also quite likely among the reasons you may find yourself hurling towards disappointment when encountering real life love! A soul mate is a notion born from Christianity, the story is simple; at one time all souls frolicked in their natural and divine state of male female merger, we were celestial and reflecting wholeness. Then our souls were ripped apart and cast down to the earth leaving us with a longing which can only be subsided by the reunion of ourselves with our one “other half”. An interesting fact is that the western world nations practicing Christianity and love marriages suffer from exorbitantly high divorce rates compared to nations which may have practiced arranged marriages where the emphasis becomes working towards harmony.
A soul mate unintentionally dismisses the actual and expansive realities of true love by instead distracting a would-be lover with damaging beliefs such as “love at first sight.” In the soul mate version of love, emptiness and longing are the implications of living without ones eternal mate and the only remedy appears as the divine salve upon having found ones soul mate. When pirouetting from life’s various stages, including romantic encounters one may easily fall susceptible to the guise that wholeness has been reached, sustaining the faulty belief that the soul has become whole in those first throes of ecstatic merger. I assure you that any relationship which is built upon the understanding that perfection will be reached by the merging of two halfs, falsely acting upon the understanding that wholeness is only sustained by consolidating two empty jars; any such union will erode and suffer from disappointment and ensuing bitter resentment among a host of other maladies. Do not despair for this is no argument against love, this is a cautionary semblance meant to yield the reader towards a more mature and viable assembly of the hearts potential melodic chord!
I do not want to execute your love but I do want to help you to develop realistic expectations for romance and loving feelings. Love is not a magical act whereby to opposites attract or two fateful spirits find their missing piece. The act of loving is a skill set, to love is a verb implying that there is some action, exertion of effort, a labor of love indeed. Thus far we have established that love takes work and love requires two whole parts. A loving union offers many challenges but its rewards are tenfold. How does one find the harmonious chord when bringing together two humans with their own unique set of wants, needs, values, manners of loving and being? The answer is carefully, mindfully, and with intention.
Ways to move beyond the notion of soul mate and develop strong and healthy relationships
Approach from wholeness Feeling sad, lonely, inadequate? These are not places from which a healthy relationship can be born, a “soul mate” meant to complete your empty parts is a set up for failure. Equally for all of the white knights and Florence Nightingales, it may somehow speak to your fractured psyche to purchase a fixer upper but saving someone else or teaching them art of living skills will inevitably be dehumanizing and resentment building for both parties. The best we can ever do is to hone our own self-worth, know our ever evolving abilities and work to create some confidence in them so that we can enjoy sharing those attributes with others who can extend the very same!
Love takes work One must be willing to exert effort in the creation of a smooth and solid relationship. This will require you to leave behind the infantile suggestion of perfect mergers manifested by the divine, the stuff of this world requires honing interpersonal skills, speaking and being authentically, embodying compassion, trust, care, believe, compromise, caress, challenge. The list could go on forever indeed but I am sure most of you are already aware of that!
Know thy self, Socrates may have been the first to mention, the unexamined life is not worth living! Get to know yourself and develop a strong loving relationship with you! If you are hiding a ton of shame or uncertainties about the car you drive, your job, your interests and you want to create a relationship with someone able to “show you the way” then I assure you that even if you do meet a potential love match you will be starting the relationship off on shaky ground. Have respect for your unique being and as you become better equipped to share your presence authentically you will be far more likely to create similar relationships, the kind based on mutual likes, passions, values, and respect.
Don’t expect too much but never settle Sometimes settling may mean allowing the relationship or the self to fall into deterioration during the course of long term togetherness. Nurturing love requires one to constantly grow, maintain physical, emotional, spiritual growth. That which remains stagnant and rigid is bound to break but that which eternally renews shall remain strong and vital like the river flowing.
Forget about finding the perfect fairy tale lover, evolve into the best “YOU” Often in relationships men and women tirelessly search for that other who will allow the harmony and happiness to flow into their life. Yet beyond creating love based upon compatible personality, values, and interests that which prohibits the loving union is often to be found within our very own selves. As Rumi so profoundly proffers “Seek not for love but to remove all of the barriers within oneself which prevent it.”
I leave you with this contemplation, what part of you can be removed so that you my friends and readers are best able to share a love?
With a warm heart and lots of love,
Stephanie M McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
by Stephanie McCrackenJanuary 16, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychotherapy0 comments
The abundant contentment which our long term relationships provide is for many the ultimate hallmark of a life well-lived. Our human bonds sustain our happiness filling our celebrations with glee and making life burdens a bit easier to manage. Romantic relationships exert tremendous effects upon our long term happiness and even health. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, those in what is considered a supportive and positive long-term relationship or marriage enjoyed the benefits of better health and even longer life, compared to singles and especially those in relationships marked by high levels of stress.
Relationships are vulnerable, like our bodies they require regular care and nourishment to maintain vitality. There are indeed factors which make loving bonds more susceptible to “disease.” Consuming “toxins” such as deception is known to cause the life sustaining organ of trust to fail. Trauma such as physical abuse may erode at the relationships heart. Even joyous occasions such as the birth of a child, job changes or moving may exert subtle variations to the internal balance of loves inner mechanisms. The mortality rates are high, hope of returning to loves assumed previous vigor being dependent upon the quality of care that both parts of the couple are willing and able to usher towards its recovery. Relationships become sick just like any other organ, infected with disease which erodes at the common threads sustaining health. Have you ever been a part of one which is marked, “do not resuscitate?”
- Mutually supportive
- Trusting Space for individual time and voices
- A source of contentment for all parties most of the time
- Direct communication of both person’s thoughts, wants, needs
- Non-supportive, controlled, devalued
- Caustic, callous,
- Indifferent or Obsessive
- Doubting, jealous, insecure
- Separate time is viewed as threatening
- Passive aggressive/ aggressive/ or non- communication
Individuals yearn for relief from their ailing relationship and they typically want to explore every option to bring the vitality back to the bond. At this point a therapist or coach is a fantastic help towards examining and restoring the essence of a love hanging to life. For anyone looking for a prescription or a bandage to heal the wounds here is the “medicine” for some common relationship ailments.
- This medicine must be consumed daily in an atmosphere of humble respect for yourself and your partner.
- To be swallowed on an empty stomach which has been rinsed of pride, ego, and defensiveness.
- Take some time to listen to the sound of the beating heart, is the thumping sound weak or hastened? Be prepared to understand and accept your loves physical state without distortion.
- May be contraindicated if one or both partners are suffering from their own underlying “diseases” which prevent authentic, warm, respectful, interaction.
- Time is an important salve and must be lavishly applied to all expected recovery plans.
- If disease has been present for a long time then expect there to be permanent changes to the loving bond.
- Patience goes a long way towards renewing hope.
The truth readers is that not all of the patients make it, sometimes the damage is too pervasive and the blunt force too shocking to the system, there are times when we must best serve our holistic form by pulling the plug on love. Yet for those who do regain health and create a warm love anew, the reward is in the joy and comfort that a long time love is able to provide! For those of you who may be in the termination or resolution phase of a marriage or relationship, please stay tuned for next week’s edition “Wounded Warriors, How to Survive a Loss of Love!” As always no matter which stage of your relationship, from looking to leaving Reviving Minds is here for you with relationship coaching and psychotherapeutic services!
In love and warmth!
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
1010 Western Ave
Pittsburgh Pa 15233