Archive for May, 2014

Anxious in Love

May 26, 2014

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At a recent meeting of Imago therapists, Harville Hendrix, the founder of Imago Relationship therapy, reminded us that most any rupture between a couple can be traced back to anxiety—our fears of being hurt and rejected.

“Anxiety,” he said, “is the greatest enemy faced by couples and learning to regulate  anxiety is very challenging yet crucial to relationship happiness.”

Both Tigers and Turtles can experience a lot of anxiety in relationship – typically one partner tends to carry more anxiety than the other.  Imago therapist Carolyn Daitch’s new book “Anxious in Love: How to manage your anxiety, reduce conflict and  reconnect with your partner” offers practical suggestions on reducing anxiety. She gives suggestions for calming activities to use during time outs and also has written a chapter to help the less anxious partner understand the world of high anxiety Dr Daitch is the director of the Center for Treatment of Anxiety disorders in Michigan. She is also the author of “The Affect Regulation Toolbox” and  “Anxiety disorders: The go to guide for clients and therapists”. Find out more about her work at www.anxiety-treatment.com

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Don’t have an affair.

May 13, 2014

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“The course of true love never did run smooth” – Shakespeare (A Midsummers Night Dream)

Well my friends, I know I can’t tell you what to do but I am going to tell you anyway…..don’t have an affair. I know this seems like a stupid statement, one that doesn’t even need to be stated because everyone already knows it but really….so many kind, good, confused and frustrated partners are having affairs!

Maureen and I have been seeing a rush of couples lately who are coping with the devastating fallout of affairs.

We know that no one wakes up and says “I’m going to embark on an affair today…” Instead you gradually move away from your partner and, at the time, your reasons seem justified.

It could be that you feel disconnected from your partner, or your sex life is in the gutter or you feel criticized at home all too often or you just don’t feel that spark anymore or you travel for work so much and get lonely or you find yourself spending too much time with someone from the office that truly believes in you or….fill in the blank. The reasons are endless  – still,  DON’T DO IT!

Shakespeare said it best: “Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice to Deceive”.  Lies have short legs. When you lie you always get found out and then your life will be filled with regret. Believe me, you will cause yourself more pain and heartache than you can imagine. If you have children they too will be affected ultimately. One of the hardest things to work through post disclosure is coming to terms with the fact that you betrayed your partner.

I know you might not be happy in your relationship. You may even have been unhappy for a long time. I am just saying DON’T DEAL WITH YOUR UNHAPPINESS BY HAVING AN AFFAIR. Imago theory tells us that  affairs happen because lots of things in the relationship are not going well and having an affair helps you feel alive again. Affairs are the result of an already existing rupture that seems impossible to fix. Still DON’T DO IT;  it is not the answer. Maureen and I do know from working with couples for over 20 years that the worst and most painful thing to get past is an affair.

Instead of having an affair see if you can muster up the courage to  figure out why things feel so bad in your  relationship and begin to take steps to fix them. That might include coming for therapy or to our Getting the Love You Want workshop (next one is May 23-25 2014  – I promise it will begin transform your relationship).  It may include sitting down with your partner and having a difficult conversation about the state of things between the two of you. For some of you, it may even include taking a short term break from each other in order to decrease the tension. These are difficult conversations to have but they are honest.  Being honest, especially when it is  hard, says a whole lot more about you as a person than being deceitful does.

Finally – if you find yourself justifying your actions, keeping secrets and lying you are already on the slippery slope of no return. Don’t do it my friend; don’t have an affair.

Dare ya- Have the tough conversation about yourself and your experience in your relationship.

– Tamara

A change in your relationship begins with a single step…

May 8, 2014

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In their book, 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, John and Julie Gottman say “Happily married couples handle their conflicts in gentle, positive ways.  They recognize that conflict is inevitable in any marriage, and that some problems never get solved, never go away.  But these couples don’t get gridlocked in their separate positions.  Instead, they keep talking with each other about conflicts. They listen respectfully to their  partner’s perspectives and they find compromises that work for both sides.”  (p. 4) 

Conflict is inevitable in an intimate relationship. Yet conflict is not a sign of a bad relationship. In fact, Imago theory says that conflict is growth trying to happen. Our partner is calling for us to grow into some part of ourselves that has been denied or disowned as part of our growing up years. And some conflict areas will only shift in very small steps over a very long period of time.

The first step towards change is to understand.  Rather than fight endlessly or give up on the relationship, we can choose to get outside of our own automatic preferences. We can listen to and understand our partners. And the best way to do that? Invite them for an Imago dialogue of course!

We have to remember that you are two different people who have different perspectives. Listen carefully to your partner’s point of view. Seek to understand. Mirror frequently in order to check your understanding of your partner. This effort will open the door to new solutions.

Dare ya– think of 3 things that you and your partner feel differently about (keep them on the lower scale of differences i.e. Canucks vs Leafs or music genres) and just for fun and practice… Have an Imago dialogue about whatever the topic is where differences exist . See if you can have some fun with it and make sure you validate. It will help you both to walk in each other’s shoes!

Let us know how it goes!

‘Til the next time! Xo

– Maureen