Infidelity: What can a couple do to inoculate itself against cheating?
An affair can be extremely damaging; in fact, the single most common way for a relationship to end is for one partner to become involved with another person. People cheat for a variety of reasons, but one commonality is that the cheater feels that the new partner will meet more of their needs than their current partner. While most marriages survive an extra-marital affair, it is much better to take steps to prevent it, rather than have to heal the hurt after it happens. What most people don’t know is that there are some simple steps that can be taken to stop an affair before it occurs.
1. Engage in an open conversation. Most couples do not have an explicit discussion about affairs until one has already occurred. Affairs are a contentious matter that can be uncomfortable to talk about. However, taking the time to have a talk and create a Primary Prevention Plan can save you a lot of strife in the future.
2. Understand that it could happen to you. Extra-marital affairs are more prevalent than you might think. At least 80% of people start out their marriage with the belief that it will be a completely monogamous relationship. However, 35-45% of marriages involve an affair of some sort. Furthermore, while people tend to think that affairs are endemic to old or unhappy marriages, they are in fact most likely to occur in the first 5 years of marriage, with the highest rates occuring in the first two years. Avoiding denial is an important step toward making an agreement that can ultimately prevent an affair.
3. Identify vulnerabilities. Each partner should reflect on what situations would make them more likely to cheat, and share these vulnerabilities with the other. They should then agree to let each other know if they’re in a potentially tempting situation rather than acting impulsively. This makes affairs less likely by taking away the edge that they get from being spontaneous and secret.
4. Commit to honesty. Agree that you will tell each other within 72 hours if an incident of cheating occurs. Hiding what’s happened is usually more harmful than the incident itself. Covering up infidelity leads to feelings of betrayal which only grow with time. Honesty prevents an affair from becoming a bigger problem than it needs to be.
When trust is broken in a marriage it is extremely hard for both people involved, not only the person that was betrayed. When infidelity is exposed in a marriage the stability and future after the exposure can be very confusing. Many times in a situation where someone in the marriage is cheating it’s the secrecy that is worse than the actual infidelity - the broken trust. When couples are faced with infidelity, there are some ways that could possibly help find the answer to why the affair happened in the first place. If you want to save your marriage and you think the infidelity is straining your relationship, the cheater must work on fixing his/her mistakes with their partner. Here are some tips to help you work through infidelity in your marriage after it has been exposed.
Be Open and Honest: If you were the one cheating, be open and honest about all aspects of the affair. Sometimes opening up and revealing why the affair happened is the best way to figure out some voids that needed to be filled in the marriage. Identifying the voids in the marriage and what needs to happen to fill those voids could help heal the wounds in the marriage. It is about coming to an understanding – without excusing the infidelity.
Restoring Trust While Having Compassion: Making a list of trust- enhancing behaviors that will help a couple heal is a great idea! This is a good building block and a first step to rebuilding trusting your partner again. Compassion needs to be explained between both partners. Maybe the cheating occurred for a particular reason and something was lacking in the relationship. By having compassion the recovery process can begin.
Set Boundaries That Make Both Partners Happy: Make date nights and more time for each other. Set aside a weekend for hiking, tennis or other activities you both enjoy doing together. Communicate and voice what makes each of you uncomfortable and what makes each of you happy. Discuss how you would like the relationship to develop in the future. Being more vocal about where the couple spends their time separately is a trust-building method if it’s not too demanding of your partner’s space.
If you are struggling with marriage or relationship issues that may concern infidelity, feel free to contact our Bergen County, New Jersey or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists for an evaluation of your relationships. Our marriage counselors and psychologists have successfully helped many couples and families.
Abusive Relationships take many shapes and forms. The most commonly known forms of abuse are verbal and physical but there are other kinds as well. In romantically abusive relationships, usually the abuser yearns to have a sense of control and power in the relationship. Many abusers have similar behavior patterns and characteristic traits that can be recognized as “red flags”. It is highly important to recognize the “red flags” if you feel you might be in an abusive relationship. Abusive relationships, no matter what form, can be extremely harmful to a person’s self-esteem, often causing one to question one’s sense of identity. There is also the strong overlapping issue of someone constantly trying to control a victims thoughts and actions. This results in the abuser punishing the victim are verbally and/or physically abusive.
Some abusers share these traits:
Charismatic & Charming: It may shock some, but many abuser can at first, come across as very charming and charismatic, both widely attractive features. The abuser usually projects himself/herself as the ideal mate, courting the other individual by showering them with compliments, admiration, even with sentimental gifts. All of these “charming” approaches are smothered onto the person the abuser is trying to court. This can lure any person into starting a romantic relationship if they feel these signs of affection are authentic.
Manipulative and Controlling: Most abusers use the skills of manipulation and control. Both are innate characteristic traits of abusers. This may possibly be due to the fact that the abuser has often been the victim of abuse. People that have abusive tendencies, usually learned by seeing, hearing or experiencing abuse in their past. This might help us understand certain behaviors of abusers, but absolutely does not excuse it. These behaviors can potentially become dangerous.
Usually a person who is manipulative will control the more “submissive” individual by observing and taking advantage of “weak” and “vulnerable” areas of the other person. For example: ” Your dad left you because you have extreme anger issues and now I have to deal with it, because no one else will”. This is the point when power fuels the dynamic of the relationship into an unhealthy relationship. One person in the relationship obtains more authority which makes them believe they can set the boundaries and place rules as to what is right and wrong in the relationship. This bias is usually towards themselves. The victim of a master manipulator will either detect these behaviors at first and leave the toxic situation or give the abuser exactly the reaction he/she wants, by giving the abuser the satisfaction of having control.
Narcissistic: In simple terms, the whole world revolves around a narcissistic person He or she is typically self-absorbed. It is hard to develop meaningful communication with a narcissistic person because the conversations are usually about his or her own feelings and his or her views and his or her interests. Someone who is narcissistic finds it hard entertain opinions other than their own. Thus, they tend to be more close minded than most people.
Jealous and Aggressive: Many people in abusive relationships don’t realize the abuse; they grow scared or become comfortable in the cycle of abuse, feeling unworthy of their significant other. Jealousy is yet another way for the abuser to take control away from their significant other. Victims will get scrutinized over actions that may cause their partner-the abuser to feel jealous. People in healthy relationships fight and argue too, but abusive/ unhealthy relationships can be filled with words of discouragement and false accusations. What healthy relationships find petty, unhealthy relationships magnify. Insecurity plays a huge part in jealousy by abusers: if the abuser feels that he or she is losing authority and control over their partner they can escalate any situation fast. When the abuser has this feeling of entitlement, most likely because of narcissistic tendencies, it is not uncommon for jealousy to turn into rage that can lead to aggressive physical abuse.
Once a person touches you against your will or even threatens to, don’t ever take it lightly. If you are scared to leave your significant other, call a friend, a therapist or the police and discuss what happened immediately. Keep in mind that verbal abuse is no better than physical abuse; they both can intertwine quickly and the outcome could potentially be terrible. Thus, ask a few questions to yourself if you are unsure if you are in an abusive relationship and make sure to seek help as soon as possible.
*Some questions you can ask yourself:
1. Do you feel nervous or anxious around your partner?
2. Does he/she criticize and embarrass you in front of others?
3. Are you afraid of having a different opinion from that of your partner and voicing it?
4. Does your partner exhibit jealousy and accuse you of cheating or having an affair?
5. Does he or she threaten to hit you or harm you in any way?
6. Are you constantly criticized and made to feel that you cant live without your significant other?
Relationships can be extremely complex at time. Many woman and men stay in abusive relationships because they may feel that staying is their only choice. They may feel controlled by their significant other and scared to leave because of what their significant other might do if they leave. If this is you, get help immediately.
The problems that lead to explosive breakups or divorces often begin as small annoyances. Thus, it is extremely valuable to develop skills for coping with small disagreements before they become big problems. Any relationship can benefit from concerted efforts to keep it healthy and exciting. Here are some exercises you can do with your partner to help maintain harmony in the relationship.
Take time to talk about what’s bothering each of you. Ask what you have done to make your partner feel disrespected, unloved, or under appreciated. Rather than responding defensively, respond with understanding in order to keep communication flowing and nip problems in the bud.
Have an Honesty Hour. Set aside a specific time when you can each share how you truly feel about certain aspects of the relationship with complete immunity. This way, you each build respect for each other’s opinions, and there are no festering resentments.
Don’t go to into bed angry. The longer an argument lasts, the worse it gets. Agreeing to resolve conflicts on the same day they arise (if possible) can prevent conflicts from turning into bitterness.
Plan fun activities. List fun things you want to do together and agree to do at least one each month. Sharing positive experiences is an important part of making a happy relationship last.
Eat dinner together. Even in the midst of an argument, pausing everything else to share a meal is a great way to enjoy each other’s company.
How to prepare for a difficult conversation with your partner
Communicating can be very difficult when you are preparing to have a difficult conversation with an individual or group of people who you know most likely will have mixed reactions and emotions regarding the subject. Most People find it easier to avoid communicating something that they think is going to be controversial or unpleasant, which results in halting the communication and letting the situation linger. It’s usually embedded in people to avoid confrontation conflict and stressful situations.
“Learning how to have difficult conversations at work or in personal relationship’s boosts one’s confidence, increases one’s self-awareness, and gives one the sense of being in control of one’s own life. What stops us from having that difficult conversation we should have?”
Fear is usually what stops a person from confronting a difficult situation. Fear can arise when facing a difficult conversation because you may be afraid that you will hurt someone’s feelings, fear losing people you love, or fear of incurring in those we love or want to impress, “we fear the consequences of engaging in a difficult conversation”.
Some tips on preparing for a difficult conversation:
Don’t delay the conversation any longer and provide reasons for why it needs to happen: Delaying conversations just makes the situation more dramatic and can even lead to failing to ever resolve the conflict. Being honest and confronting the person/ group and giving them a reason to see why you would like to discuss the issue, this will optimistically lead to a respectful conversation between both parties.
Stay connected when communicating and encourage Questions: Each of us communicates in different ways; staying open-minded when communicating with the person or group and encouraging questions by the other person, may help the flow of communication and help to get a better understanding of how the individual or group feels about the subject at hand. It will encourage them to share their perspective. Do not focus the whole conversation on yourself; you should be interested in the other person’s opinions too. It is healthy to express your feelings but this is about you conversing back and forth, not one way.
Resist making fast assumptions; Think before speaking right away: Listen to the other person and assess the situation fairly. Many people have a hard time seeing things from the other person’s point of view. Before making assumptions about the situation, listen to the individual/group and then arrive at a conclusion because it could be that the situations that lead to the conversation was just a misunderstanding. Hopefully this will result in figuring out a solution to the situation/conversation or coming to a mutual agreement about what the future holds after the discussion.
Don’t Rehearse: Be genuine; if you are not you should not expect a sincere response. If you want to confront a situation that is bothering you, explain exactly how you feel honestly without sounding like your reading off a projector screen. Correct communication is the key to opening up new ways of approaching tough topics.
If you are struggling with communication issues, problems confronting a difficult situation that may concern you or anxiety, feel free to contact our Bergen County, New Jersey or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists for an evaluation.
Balancing Financial Issues such as budgeting overspending within the marriage
Financial matters can be extremely confusing and frustrating especially if a couple does not agree on the way money is budgeted and spent within the household. Marriage counseling encourages the couple to openly discuss their opinions on how money should be spent. No matter how rich or poor a couple is, one of the constant subjects of martial disagreement is money. Whether it’s over how money is earned, spent, or saved, money arguments are common and affect the relationship because money issues are emotionally charged.
Attitudes towards money are learned in childhood. When spouses are raised with widely differing attitudes toward money, conflict is inevitable. The key is for couples to discuss their views on money and come to an agreement as to how they will make decisions about the handling of the the family money.
A mistake couples often make is to have one spouse in complete control of all family assets. That’s not to say that a spouse with a particular skill in managing money should not use that skill, but that spouse should always discuss with his or her partner what ultimately happens with the money. Marriage counseling, family therapy, or family counseling can alleviate much of the stress caused by financial issues. Counseling and psychotherapy with a licensed psychologists,psychotherapist, professional counselor, family therapist or psychiatrist. On occasion one or both of the partners or family members might be helped by medications for depression and anxiety.
In some instances a spouse is unable to get a job creating tension within the marriage regarding financial matters and responsibility to the household. When one partner is unable to work resentment and guilt are often the result. The unemployed partner can develop feelings of worthlessness because he or she can not provide for their family or spouse.
The Stay at Home Parent
When one spouse in the relationship does not work there is often increased pressure and tension within the relationship. A stay at home partner is expected to handle all tension within the relationship. A stay at home partner is expected to handle all household endeavors and family issues. Because the domestic partner has no other job besides household duties the working partner takes this for granted. What the working partner sometimes does not comprehend is that household duties and family issues are a twenty four hour job with very little rest, praise, or reward. It is a job that often goes unnoticed by the working partner and the family. When there is little thanks, resentment and frustration can build within a marriage. This causes tension and marital dissatisfaction.
If you or your partner has trouble balancing your career life and your home life, marriage therapy can be extremely helpful in creating realistic goals to help improve the tensions that ensue. Many couples have difficulty balancing their home life and work life. Such a balancing act often increases stress within the martial relationship and within the household. Due to the fact that American households are mostly two-income, many couples have difficulties balancing their home life with their career. When one spouse is forced to work longer hours because of his or her job, tension can develop within the relationship. If a spouse loses a job or if the spouse’s salary seems insignificant to his or her partner, then conflict and stress often arises. In many instances being successful at work means giving up family responsibilities which can jeopardize one’s home life. In order to be successful, an individual is required to work a full time job, and then go home to handle all the domestic duties. In order for there to be harmony in the marriage, domestic responsibilities should be shared in a dual income household.
Family Therapy and Couples Counseling Can Help Ensure Success of the New Expanded Family
In a blended or step family, one or both partners have been married before, and each have lost a spouse through death or divorce. One or both may have children from their previous marriages and once married they will form a new step family that includes children from one or both of their first families.
Studies show at least one-third of all children in the U.S are expected to live in a step family before they reach 18 years of age. The blended family is now a norm for American Society. Due to the fact that each family has lost in some manner step families face many lifestyle adjustments and changes. Fortunately,most of them are able to work out their problems and live together successfully. But it takes careful planning, open discussions of feelings, positive attitudes, mutual respect and patience. While some families make the transition without counseling, seeking family counseling helps and ensures a healthier, smoother, and more successful transition. Those families who seek counseling and couples counseling before the marriage or shortly after will benefit greatly from marriage therapy.
Couples that have children are often faced with some stressful and challenging parenting issues. When it comes to parenting issues many couples disagree on the choices they wish to make for their children. When disagreements occur, often conflict and tension within the relationship is the result. Serious issues that test a a marriage include a chronically ill child, a child with learning disabilities, a mentally retarded child, a child with autism, or child’s death. These issues are often devastating to a family and can put stress on a marriage.
Special Education Children:
Maintaining a Healthy Marriage While Raising a Special Education Child
Parents raising a child living with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorders, or learning disabilities ( such as ADHD) are confronted with huge challenges regarding the care of their child. These Challenges range from providing the correct medical care to finding the right schools and the right opportunities.
Parents with children living with a disorder find that their entire family is extremely isolated. They begin to be left out of neighborhood functions and as a result lose the powerful connections they once had with friends. The stress of having a multiple handicapped child creates tension within the family and the marital relationship.
Parents may find themselves becoming depressed or grieving for the dreams they once had for their child. When a parent has a special education child he or she may throw him or herself entirely into the lives of their child. The child often becomes the center of his or her world. Another parent may become a workaholic in order to cope. Without balance between family, work and self parents may find themselves becoming increasingly stressed, anxious, angry or depressed. These feelings have a negative effect on the family and marriage. For couples who find that their marriage is suffering due to the stress of having a child with special needs marriage therapy and family therapy can be helpful. It allows each member of the couple to voice each of his or her concerns and achieve greater balance within their lives.
The Chronically Ill Child:
Parents raising a chronically ill child face overwhelming challenges that often result in martial distress. Parents of an ill child are completely responsible for his or her medical care and thus often devote all of their time to taking care of the child. Often such stress places their relationship with their spouse as their last priority. Couples with a chronically ill child often complain that their partner is emotionally distant, that they are unable to communicate, and intimacy is lost. Many couples focus all of their emotion, energy and time on taking care of their child learning very little time. For maintaining their relationship with their spouse. Family therapy or marriage counseling can help build trust, intimacy and secure attachment in the martial relationship.
The Loss of a Child:
The loss of a child is the most devastating experience a parent can face-and missing the child never goes away. A piece of yourself is lost and, our future is forever changed. The age of the child at the time of death does not lessen the hurt or devastation. It feels completely unnatural for a child to die before his or her parents. When a child passes away the parents are forced to live on. One might think that the loss of a child would bring parents together but more often it causes isolation and distance. Sometimes the distance increases to such an extent that one or both partners emotionally and sometimes physically seek comfort outside of the relationship. By seeking marriage counseling in a timely fashion couples can deal with the unfortunate consequences of the death of a child in a healthier, less painful manner.