Communication Is Important in a Relationship—Here’s Why

There’s a good chance you’ve heard this statement before: Communication is key.

You’ve heard this statement time and time again. Have you ever wondered why communication really is key?

I bet you are now…

Communication is one of the most important factors in any type of relationship.

No matter if your relationship is with a family member, friend, co-worker, or significant other, communication is essential in any relationship.

Here’s why communication is (and always will be) important in a relationship.

Get to Know One Another

Communication is used at the beginning of a relationship to get to know one another, see if you’re compatible, set expectations, and more. Once you decide you’re compatible and actually start to date and grow your relationship, that doesn’t mean the communication stops. If anything, the communication should become more frequent and involve deeper and more meaningful conversations.

With a relationship, you should constantly and continuously be working towards getting to know each other on a deeper and more personal level. Learn about each other’s wants, needs, desires, goals, and more.

Avoid Any Misunderstanding

By communicating with one another, you’re able to truly express your thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs. By doing this, you’ll be able to avoid any miscommunication in the future, especially in tougher conversations. Not every conversation you have is going to be an easy one.

Just because you have a difficult conversation doesn’t mean your relationship is struggling. When you use communication to overcome those tough conversations, you’re actually working towards building a stronger bond and trust.

Build Trust

Trust is a building block of a healthy and happy relationship. Communication is another essential building block. By having good communication skills, you’re also working on building trust with one another, which also builds confidence in your relationship.

Always be open and honest with one another. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

You Don’t Have to Become a Mind-reader

You shouldn’t expect your partner to have to read your mind, and they shouldn’t expect this of you either. Express your opinions, thoughts, and feelings, even if it may be something that conflicts with your partner’s ideas or opinions about a certain topic.

Those debates will only help grow your communication with each other. Communicating with one another creates a sense of safety and security in your relationship.

Support and Strengthen Your Bond

This may be easier said than done, but one of the best benefits of being in a relationship is having someone that is there to support you through the good and the bad times. If you’re struggling through a hard time in your life, let your partner know. They won’t judge you. They will be there for you however you need them.

Make sure you communicate your feelings and needs. If you just need them to listen, let them know. If you just need a shoulder to cry on, tell them. Or if you’re actually looking for advice, ask them for their opinion on the matter. If you’re open and honest with them from the beginning, they’ll have an easier time meeting you in the middle to help you along the way.

Overall Happiness

Healthy communication in your relationship is beneficial for you and your partner’s overall happiness. Communication is key and essential through the good times and the bad times. Supporting and strengthening your bond with one another doesn’t have to just happen during the hard times. Communicating how you’re feeling when you’re happy, loved, or proud can increase both your and your partner’s overall happiness, especially with each other.

If you’re looking for therapy or couples therapy as a way to improve your communication, reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.

5 Tips to Communicate Better with Your Partner

Communicating your needs can be hard at times. You may feel like a toddler unable to truly express your wants and needs. And you know what? That’s okay!

When it comes to relationships, it can become even more difficult. Two people. Two different personalities. Two different wants, needs, desires, dreams, goals, and more.

One of you may have had a long or hard day at work. Maybe you’re hoping to come home and push it out of your head and relax for the night, but as soon as you walk through the front door, your partner greets you with a smiling face and asks how your day went.

Here are 5 tips to communicate better with your partner.

1. Be Clear, Concise, and Direct.

You two could be two peas in a pod or maybe you’re polar opposites that balance one another. You may have been together for less than a year or over ten years. No matter how long you’ve been together or how perfect you may be together, you can’t read each other’s minds. And that’s okay! You shouldn’t have to, especially if you’re communicating effectively.

You’re two completely different people that share a love for one another. There are certain cues you may pick up on that your partner may not. For example, if your partner comes home after a long day of work, you may be able to see their hunched shoulders or tired eyes. Or maybe they’re really good at hiding it or leaving their work at work.

On the other hand, your partner may notice dirty counters, dog hair all over the floor, or grass that needs to be mowed. You both can’t assume that the other person will notice the same things.

If you want help with something, ask for it. If venting is what you need, vent.

Be clear, concise, and direct with your wants and needs. You can’t do it all by yourself and they can’t either. Meet one another halfway.

2. Don’t Play the Blame Game.

With tough conversations, it’s easy to place the blame on the other person. Sometimes this can happen without you even realizing it. Think before you speak.

Choose your words carefully because, in the heat of the moment, they could be taken the wrong way. It’s easy for a conversation to turn from open and honest to blaming and defensive. Try to use “I” instead of “You”. Take responsibility instead of placing the blame on the other person.

3. Share Positive Feedback with One Another.

Communicating doesn’t have to mean sharing feedback or criticism. Positively communicating with one another could be as simple as a compliment! If you like their outfit, tell them.

Maybe you’ve noticed how nice the house looks lately. Let them know how much you enjoy, respect, and love them.

4. Schedule Time Together.

Balancing everything in life can be a challenge. You’re both balancing careers, friends, family, and your relationship. Find time to actually be with one another, interruption-free!

Schedule date nights once a week to go out and have fun or just talk to one another. This will give you an opportunity each week to talk, listen, and grow together.

5. Seek Help.

Seeking help from an outside third party doesn’t mean you have a bad relationship or should just break up. Sometimes, it can be exactly what you need to move forward into a healthier and happier relationship with one another. A therapist can help you figure out the best way to communicate with one another and improve your relationship to meet both of your wants and needs.

If you’re looking to improve your communication with your partner, get started with us today by booking a free consultation.

Is Sex a Required Topic to Talk About in Couples Therapy?

Sex isn’t an easy conversation, but that doesn’t mean you have to run away or avoid it.

Couples who have been together for years may even struggle to talk about it, especially with an outside third party like a therapist.

Even just the thought of having to talk about sex with someone other than your partner could leave you feeling a bit uneasy or uncertain about the entire idea of going to therapy.

Try not to let those feelings and fears get in the way of your decision to go to couples therapy.

Let’s find out if sex is a required topic to talk about in couples therapy.

The Topic of Sex in Couples Therapy

Long story short, you don’t have to talk about sex during couples therapy.

But, just like any other type of therapy, you obviously don’t have to talk about anything that you don’t want to. Talking about sex during couples therapy is something to consider, though!

Think about it this way: There are certain layers to a relationship, bonding, and connecting with one another on a deeper level. For many, sex is a huge part of their relationship. But for some, it’s not. Perhaps this is a time to discuss with your partner what role sex plays in your relationship.

If you find you have different ideas about the role of sex in your relationship and are struggling to reconcile, it could be something to discuss in couples therapy, as it indicates there may be an issue with communication and compromise.

Couples Therapy vs. Sex Therapy

Couples therapy and sex therapy are two different types of therapies. Sure, the topic of sex may come up during couples therapy, but it also addresses the emotional aspects of your relationship. During couples therapy, the topic of sex may not come up at all depending on both your and your partner’s reasons for attending therapy in the first place.

Sex therapy is specifically related to the issues that may be taking place within your sex life.

Another difference between couples therapy and sex therapy is that both partners are required to participate during couples therapy. During sex therapy, only one person may be present.

Typically, the issues discussed during sex therapy include the following: low sex drive, sexual trauma, difficulty getting an erection, difficulty climaxing, and sexual preferences.

On the other hand, during couples therapy, the types of issues that are addressed could include the following: relationship building, effective communication skills, conflict resolution, anger management, and being open and honest with one another.

How to Talk About Sex During Couples Therapy

Keep in mind that a licensed therapist has probably discussed sex at least a few times during one of their sessions with previous clients. Sex is one of the main reasons that couples actually end up in couples therapy. No matter what your relationship status is, you can always learn more about sex and intimacy.

Here are some important things to keep in mind if you’re a little hesitant about discussing your sex life during couples therapy:

  • You’re not alone in your thoughts and feelings.
  • There’s a good chance your therapist has heard it all before.
  • Therapy is a safe place for both you and your partner.
  • If you feel uncomfortable at any point during your session, let your partner and your therapist know.
  • You may feel uncomfortable when you’re discussing it during your therapy session, but think of what it can do to benefit your relationship with your partner.

If you are looking to get into couples therapy, reach out to us today by booking a free consultation.

How to Tell When Conflict in Your Relationship Is Healthy (and When It’s Not)

Bickering over whose turn it is to pay. A fight over a change in plans for the weekend. A disagreement over household chores and responsibilities. An argument over not listening or remembering something that was said in a previous conversation.

These may seem like relationship red flags, but the truth of the matter is: All couples fight every now and then. Conflict doesn’t have to always lead to a breakup. Fights or disagreements can lead to better solutions and a stronger connection and bond.

If you find yourself fighting all the time with little to no solution, then it may be a relationship red flag.

Here’s how to tell when the conflict in your relationship is healthy (and when it’s not).

Relationship Green Flags

Healthy relationships look different in every single situation. Happiness in a relationship isn’t something where one size fits all. Each couple and individual in a relationship has their own specific wants, needs, values, goals, hobbies, and more.

You may look back on something you dated years ago and wonder what you saw in them or why you dated them in the first place. A relationship that happened ten years ago is probably very different from one that you have or are looking for now. That’s because you’ve grown and changed, and so have your desires and what you’re looking for.

The signs of a healthy relationship usually include open communication, trust, independence, curiosity, playfulness, physical and emotional intimacy, teamwork, and conflict resolution.

Relationship Red Flags

Although healthy relationships can look different depending on the couple, there are certain relationship red flags that can be big indicators of unhealthy conflict in a relationship.

No Respect for Boundaries

Boundaries are crucial in any type of relationship. If you have a set boundary and you made that boundary clear to your partner, they should be respectful of that. If you start to notice pushback or pressure on a specific boundary you have set, it’s a big indicator that there isn’t mutual respect in place.

Emotionally and/or Physically Distant

Relationships form and grow through constant communication and connection. If you start to notice more distance in your relationship, physically and/or emotionally, this is usually a good sign that your relationship may be struggling. You should want to be with one another. You shouldn’t be trying to avoid each other or find excuses to not be with one another.

Disagreements Stay Disagreements

Even in a healthy relationship, conflict can still happen, but conflict resolution is usually what makes a relationship healthy. In an unhealthy relationship, conflict usually stays as a conflict. It’s typically not a good sign if you’re constantly talking about the same issues over and over again with little to no resolution.

An open and healthy relationship means that you’re able to openly and effectively communicate with one another. This means having the ability to equally speak and listen to one another. If you notice that you’re not able to get a word in, or if your partner isn’t actually listening or remembering the things that you said, this can be a sign of a relationship that’s struggling.

What You Can Do

All relationships, even healthy ones, need a little extra TLC every now and then. Here are some things you can do to help work on your relationship:

  • Embrace your differences
  • Consider their side
  • Work through problems together
  • Communicate effectively—both speaking and listening
  • Try new things
  • Discuss your wants, needs, goals, and dreams
  • Try couples therapy

If some of these relationship red flags seem to be waving a little too close to home, it may be time to reach out to an unbiased third party, like a therapist, for support.

Couples therapy can help. Please feel free to schedule a free consultation or book an appointment today.

Is Intention Part of Your Relationship? Here’s Why It Matters

Relationships can be fiery and full of passion when you’re still dancing through the honeymoon stage. Eventually, you may discover the unexpected joy of being in a relationship after some time—sweet stability.

While it’s nice knowing that no matter how bad your day was, you get to come home to the arms of someone you love, this knowledge can also make us go into auto-pilot.

You may find yourself taking advantage of your partner’s kind habits, expecting them to be an evergreen part of your routine. When this happens, intention is lost, and we fail to see our partners as the people with whom we fell in love.

Instead, we see them as another cog in the nonstop machine that is our daily lives. Intention matters in our relationships because it gives us a stronger sense of trust, intimacy, and love with our partner.

What Intentionality Looks Like in Relationships

Proactive (Not Reactive) Love

Your ability to de-escalate an argument without hurting the person you love is great. However, if you only really prove yourself to your partner during times of crisis, your relationship is missing intentionality.

When you think of showing intention, think of proactive behaviors that help support your partner’s energy and goals.

For example, let’s say visiting family is an especially stressful event for your partner. Proactively (read: intentionally) loving them would look like saying, “When you come back on Sunday, I’ll have your favorite comfy clothes washed and ready for us to crash and watch a movie together.”

Show your partner that you understand the ebbs and flows of their emotions. Prove that you know when they’ll need support without them having to ask for it.

Planning for Growth Instead of Expecting It

Some people think that being in a relationship for a long time means it must be a strong relationship. However, time isn’t the best metric with which to judge a relationship’s quality.

Auto-piloting your way through a relationship will only leave you feeling burdened with the problems you never felt comfortable bringing up and/or overwhelmed with unmet needs.

Instead, plan for growth by being intentional about it. Ask yourself questions, like…

  • When in this relationship have I felt the happiest?
  • What has my partner done before that made me feel safe?
  • What are the ways I show love to my partner?
  • How do I prefer receiving love from my partner?
  • What things do I do solely for my enjoyment?
  • What things do I want me and my partner to do together?
  • When have I felt the most connected to my partner?
  • How do I typically choose to connect with my partner?
  • What are our strengths as a couple?
  • Where would I like us to improve as a couple?

Take a moment to write down and share these answers with your partner, and have them do the same.

Viewing your relationship from a high-level perspective can be beneficial. Together, you can come up with solutions to emotional problems, first. (As in, before you feel the emotions that can blind you to any possible solution in the moment.)

Setting Monthly Intentions

To practice, have both you and your partner create a list of 12 things to do for the other this month. (Gifts, gestures, activities, acts of service, etc.) They can happen at any time, but each partner has the responsibility to think intentionally about the other, and then act on it.

You can even get more specific by setting a more formal intention. For example, “We take an interest in finding new, healthy ways to cope with our conflicts and levels of individual stress.”

That way, you can plan 12 things for the month that are centered around stress-reducing coping activities or gifts.

Working with a counselor is a great way to support your own emotional capacity while working through these hard topics with your partner. Ready to get started? Schedule an appointment with me today.

Can All Couples Benefit from Couples Therapy?

For some couples, therapy is a last-ditch effort before splitting up. However, you don’t have to be considering a break-up to get something beneficial out of couples therapy!

Ditch the astrological compatibility and your petty best friend’s advice. Instead, follow the research! Around 70% of couples achieve positive, lasting change from couples therapy.

Why can’t that be you?

Misconceptions About What Therapy Means for Couples

There’s this stigma that people turn to therapists when they’re broken. However, we don’t view doctors and dentists in the same way, even though we quite literally go to them with broken bones, decaying teeth, etc.

We see them for annual check-ups, recurring physicals, regular cleanings, and other maintenance reasons. Why can’t we see therapy as something that strengthens us, instead of something that implies we are broken or failures first?

Enrolling in couples therapy does not mean there is something inherently wrong with your relationship, so cut the blaming and shaming. Therapy is a much healthier and productive way of facing relationship problems than pretending they don’t exist, convincing ourselves that our partner is the only problematic one, or insisting that real, true love shouldn’t require work.

For those with an avoidant attachment style, therapy may feel like a threat because shining a light on our darkest problems makes us think it will set them all on fire. In reality, most couples find that talking through their biggest relationship stressors with a therapist leaves them feeling lighter, more supported, and more confident in their relationship.

Signs You Could Benefit from Couples Therapy

While all couples can benefit from therapy, there are a few telltale signs it can make a big difference for you. Ask yourself: do you…

  • Feel emotionally distant from your partner or feel overwhelmingly lonely?
  • Mistrust your partner or feel you cannot rely on them for basic tasks, personal support, or loyalty?
  • Attribute your sense of self-worth to how they’re feeling?
  • Separate yourself emotionally from them to not threaten your independence?
  • Disagree on group decisions relating to finances, parenting, or in-law relations?

If you feel you have to choose between leaving the relationship to be happy vs. staying in the relationship for the family and sacrificing your happiness, it could be time for therapy. Believe that it can bring back the vibrance and love that your relationship lost.

How Couples Therapy Can Benefit Strong Couples

Your relationship may be healthy, but life still has its curveballs! How can couples therapy prepare you and your partner for everything life throws at you?

By…

  • Providing coping strategies for tough times like losing a family member, facing job insecurity, or supporting your child through their challenges.
  • Offering an outsider’s perspective on your plans for “big life” events, like preparing for a new baby, moving to a new place, or navigating a career change.
  • Teaching you or your partner skills on how to become more emotionally open and/or communicative.
  • Outlining the ways to have a “fair fight”. From dish duty to establishing boundaries with in-laws, fights are inevitable. If you can get through them without hurting each other, your relationship can thrive instead of slowly chip away.
  • Creating a safe space to talk about topics you’re afraid to bring up alone, like dry spells in the bedroom.
  • Assisting blended families in establishing skills that ensure all children feel seen, loved, and prioritized in their new family.
  • Suggesting meaningful ways to connect without giving into reflexive and offensive behaviors like “phubbing”. (Avoiding your partner by scrolling through your phone, of which we’re all guilty!)
  • Establishing and changing boundaries over time. Your mom stopping by to pick up your laundry may have been cute when you were in college, but it can become pretty invasive or patronizing once you start living together.

Don’t be like the average couple who waits six years before seeking professional help. Get ahead of the curve and schedule an appointment with us today.

What to Tell Your Children When Your Marriage is Struggling

When two people choose to spend the rest of their lives together, they don’t really plan for if things go wrong.

Love is hopeful, and many of us hope our love will last a lifetime. When it starts breaking down sooner than expected, it can feel like the curtain was lifted too soon, revealing the mess we really are behind it.

If your marriage is struggling and you have children to consider, here are some tips on how to acknowledge the stress without making it their problem.

Reassure Them That Everything Is Okay

While fighting is stressful, it’s important to teach children that disagreements are normal.

Sometimes we feel passionate and raise our voices, but we do not attack or hurt each other. (Children should never have to witness any kind of emotional or physical abuse between parents. If you think they may have been exposed, help by enrolling them in counseling to cope.)

Many children fear divorce, even if there are no signs of it in the home. Fighting can fill their imagination with hypothetical scenarios of moving homes, changing schools, and losing family well before you even consider divorce. Put these thoughts to rest by reminding them they are loved and in a safe place.

Do Not Lean On Your Children For Emotional Support

Children are not appropriate confidants for parents. They are not emotionally equipped to support adults through their problems. Even if you think your child is an empathetic genius, they will always see you as the parent, the adult, the life expert.

Parents provide protection, education, and love to their children. Confiding in your child as if they’re a close friend will only weaken the confidence they have in you, leaving them feeling anxious and insecure.

Let Your Children Come Up With Their Own Family Opinions

When you break up with someone, you break up with their friends and family, too. Children of divorce are in the tricky situation of still seeing these people as family, even if you don’t. While you may want to celebrate the end of annoying in-laws, it’s best that you keep quiet around your kid.

As long as they’re not a threat, you shouldn’t deter your child from wanting a relationship with their own family. One day they may even share the same feelings you do! Let them decide without your influence.

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect, You Just Have to Be Safe

Some of us remember the first time we realized, “Oh my God. My parents don’t know everything…” If your child still looks up at you with wonder in their eyes and questions in their heart, let them. The second they witness you take the low road or crack under the pressure, their view of you will shatter.

You’re allowed to be honest with your child about the hard times you’ve been through. Children can learn a lot through stories of resilience. However, burdening them with the issues you still haven’t worked out will only leave them feeling insecure about what else you don’t know.

Divorce: How to Go Over It

Share only necessary information that directly affects the child. Provide repetitive reassurance that you both love your child and assure them you are working together so their life doesn’t change more than it has to.

Never use your children as hostages or bargaining chips while you work out the details of a divorce, regardless of their age. They’re not prizes to be won, they’re responsibilities for which we care.

As parents, it’s our responsibility to model healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms for our children. Make use of your support network, put yourself first, and when all else fails, start therapy. There is no one more qualified to help than a therapist. (Plus, we give way better advice than your 9-year-old or your ex.)

Ready to get started? Schedule an appointment today.

How Couples Can Alleviate Stress on Their Relationship

“If to change is what you need, you can change right next to me.”

As Ben Platt beautifully illustrates in his song “Grow As We Go”, you don’t need to leave a relationship just because it hits rocky waters. Our society looks up to long-lasting relationships, not because we applaud their ability to stay the same forever, but because they could make it through each other’s lifetime of changes and still find love for them.

Your entire relationship can suffer even if only one person is dealing with stress. How can you better your relationship’s chances of survival? Follow these steps to help ease stress on your relationship.

Acknowledge the Problem and the Solution

If your relationship is feeling the consequences of outside stress, it’s probably because one or all partners are acting emotionally distant. Emotional distance is when one partner shuts out the other to deal with stress outside the relationship. This is normally not done intentionally, but can have a heavy effect on the partnership.

Emotional distance can look like sleeping in separate beds, keeping conversations intellectual instead of emotional, using harsh words to cut conversations short, or being entirely silent towards the other person.

You will need to introduce functional ways to cope with stress (whether on an individual or couple’s level) to regain a sense of intimacy and romance.

Identifying Your Stressors

Having too many external stressors can interfere with a couple’s ability to communicate well, connect intimately, and resolve conflict. You can try the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale to help identify where your stress is and how stressed you are, especially if you have a bad habit of denying or downplaying your stressors.

Compare your list with your partners and see how and where they might interact.

Share How You’re Feeling with Honesty

Sit down with your partner and go over these questions:

  • How has stress affected your emotions recently?
  • What are you trying to help cope?
  • Are there any coping mechanisms that have a positive effect on this relationship?
  • Any that have a negative effect?
  • What actions will you take to cope better in the future?

Take turns answering until each partner has felt fully heard by the other. When one person finishes, re-explain what they said in your own words to make sure you understand each other correctly.

Connecting with each other in this way will help you feel lighter, like the stress isn’t all your own anymore, and it will help to know for certain that your partner is supporting you through it.

Build Psychological Resilience

Psychological resilience is our ability to bounce back from stress and trauma. Everyone has psychological resilience, but its strength varies between people. The stronger one’s psychological resilience, the better they cope with stress that arises. It’s like a muscle you can work out over time through self-awareness and practice.

Here’s a list of things you can do to enhance your psychological resiliency…

    • Reflect on your strengths and talents. Ask yourself, how am I using these strengths in my everyday life? How can I create opportunities for me to use them more often? Consider strengths assessments like VIA Strengths to identify and start building on these skills. Even better: ask your friends and family what they think your strengths are! This will also help build your sense of gratitude, which is linked to improving mental health.
    • Expand your social circle. Being socially distant can weaken your psychological resiliency, as socialization is something all humans need to survive and thrive. Think of a hobby you love doing and see how you can build community around it. You could also perform random acts of kindness—this will bring more positivity into your life and leave you feeling like you helped someone today, which contributes to your sense of purpose.
    • Acknowledge each other’s “bids”. According to Dr. John Gottman, emotional “bids” are ways we ask for attention or affirmation from our partner. These could be straight-up, like asking your partner, “Can you help me clean out the car?” or more subtle, like a sigh from across the room, indicating that they need to vent. In a study comparing couples’ first six years of marriage, the ones that stayed together answered each other’s bids 86% of the time, while couples that divorced only answered bids 33% of the time. Talking about each other’s bids is important to building a lasting, healthy relationship.

By following these steps, you can watch stress float away from your relationship like songbirds off into the sunset. Sometimes though, it helps to have an outside perspective that knows every detail. Schedule an appointment with our counselors today for a more catered approach to building stress-coping skills as an individual or as a couple.

4 Ways Couples Can Practice Better Communication

There’s a million ways to say, “I love you.” You could write it on a sticky note, show it with a surprise lunch, or suggest it by blowing a kiss.

Unfortunately, there’s also a million ways to say, “I don’t.”

We use more than just words when we communicate with one another, and healthy communication requires a mix of the right words and the right non-verbal cues. How do you train your brain to work through your options instead of spewing off words triggered by emotion? Here are four easy ways to practice better communication.

1. Practice Active Listening

Good listeners do more than just sit silently while someone else talks. In relationships, we want to listen actively, not passively, when our partner is sharing. This means listening without distracting thoughts, judgement, and interruption—there is no quicker way to convince your partner that you don’t care about them than by cutting them off.

Your only goal should be to understand. Show your attention with nonverbal cues like nodding or softly “Mhm-ing”. A good way to practice this is by setting a five-minute timer and letting your partner speak for the entire time, only cutting in to ask follow-up questions.

You may find that your partner has more to say than you thought.

2. Interpret Your Partner’s Words Through Four “Ears”

According to the Four-Sides Model of Communication, there are four different “ears” we use to interpret meaning when someone talks. For example, say your partner mentions, “The gas was crazy low when I started the car today.”

According to the model, there are four ways you could interpret their statement depending on what you’re listening for:

FACTUAL INFORMATION: “The car is low on gas.”
SELF-REVELATION: “I like driving with a full tank.”
RELATIONSHIP NOTES: “You’re inconsiderate and selfish with the car.”
APPEALS FOR CHANGE: “Go fill up the car with gas.”

Conversations with loved ones can quickly descend into chaos if we’re only listening for specific information. Try re-interpreting what your partner said again through one of the four “ears” and see if you come up with a healthier way to understand and respond.

What might’ve felt like an attack before might look like a simple comment now.

3. Share Concerns in a Non-Judgemental Way

When you speak with words that aren’t meaningful or thoughtfully chosen, it ends up diluting the message you want to convey. Let’s say your partner left their laundry in the washer instead of promptly moving it to the dryer.

First, you want to objectively share the event with your partner: “I noticed that your laundry has been in the washer for two days.”

Then, communicate your feelings instead of hiding them from your partner, and express them in a non-judgemental way. This can be as simple as saying, “It made me annoyed.”

Next, take the time to understand your needs and share them with your partner. Like, “I want you to be considerate about the housework that I have to do, too.”

Finally, make a clear request as to how your needs can be met. “Please finish your laundry when you start it so it doesn’t get in the way.”

If you need more time to overcome those harsh first thoughts, try a handwritten note or text. These give you the space to craft exactly what you want to say, and you’ll find your words to be kinder and more accurate to how you actually feel.

4. Respond with Positivity and Genuine Curiosity

After years of knowing your partner like the back of your hand, it can feel easy to dismiss their exciting news, stories, and goals as something you already knew or could have guessed.

The older we get, the more we change, and so do the people we love. Stay curious about your partner and look for opportunities to re-discover them over the years. When they share news, respond in an active and constructive way that shows how truly happy you are for them.

We can solve a lot of our problems today with better communication. If you find your relationship needs help with healthy communication, schedule an appointment with one of our counselors today.

The Immediate Aftermath of Infidelity Discovery

Aftermath of Infidelity and affairs

When you get cheated on by the one that you love, you’ll see the world in an entirely different light. When you are in love, everything may seem nice and dandy, but when you’ve been betrayed, your surroundings suddenly turn gloomy. You start to question if what you had was truly real or if you’re the only one who thought of it that way. You also begin to ask yourself if you’re enough, worthy, or valuable. And to the people around you, you may seem perfectly fine, but on the inside, you’re shattered into a million pieces.

The truth is, it’s not easy to be cheated on. Some people who vowed to stay single for life were once madly in love with someone who betrayed them. Their heartbreak may have been so brutal that they refused to go down the same path again. However, no matter how much people know about the devastating effects of infidelity and betrayal, it never stopped them from breaking their promises to their lovers.

 

What Pushes People to Cheat?

According to psychologists and relationship experts, there are various reasons why people cheat. In most cases, they were in love and emotionally attached to their respective partners, but that wasn’t enough for them to step on the break in the face of temptation. Sadly, after all, that has been said and done, their partners often end up being the most hurt. Even if they’re the ones who committed a mistake, the party cheated on suffers.

Some people cheat because they are put in a situation that made cheating seem okay. For example, a man fought with his girlfriend. Since they couldn’t settle the matter by talking it out, he went on a drinking spree with his buddies and partied to his heart’s content. When he was already so drunk, he seemingly ‘forgot’ that another woman was flirting with him, and he, in return, gave in to the temptation. The morning after, he realized the gravity of what he did as he started feeling guilty about what happened. Though the situation made it convenient for him to cheat, he still had a choice to say no.

Other people also cheat because of a lack of intimacy and passion in the relationship. A woman who is in a romantic relationship with a man for seven years finally tied the knot. After the marriage, the husband worked doubly hard to support his family. Unfortunately, because he now spends more time in the office, he seemed to have wholly alienated his wife. When she asks for a cuddle, he turns her down because, as he would put, his job completely wore him out.

As days passed by, the woman grew more distant until it didn’t matter to her if he showed care or not. One day, she met a young, passionate guy who made her feel wanted again. They had an affair, and she justifies her acts by saying that her husband wasn’t emotionally available for her.

Aside from these two motivations to cheat, others betray their partners because they hate being rejected or looked down upon, or they’re only bound by an obligation to stay together than by love. Regardless of the reason, it all boils down to this fact — they are dissatisfied with the relationship.

It may be a hard pill to swallow, but that’s the truth. If they’re happy and content with what they have, why would they go somewhere else to fill the void? If they’re satisfied with their partner and the state of their relationship, there won’t be a void that needs filling in the first place.

 

Is Saying Sorry Enough?

Even those who cheat on their partners know that an apology, no matter how sincere, won’t be enough for everyone to forget and move on. Besides, you only say sorry when you didn’t mean to hurt the person. You only ask for an apology if you didn’t know the suffering people would go through if they knew the truth. If you cheat, it’s not like you’re in a daze or went crazy for a moment. You’re fully conscious of the repercussions, yet you simply threw caution in the wind as you go on full ‘you only live once (YOLO)’ mode.

Cheating will always be a choice, never a mistake, so saying sorry is meaningless. You’re not sad because you hurt the person; you seem sorry because you got caught.

Unless it’s rape or coercion, no one can force you to hop on the bed and have intercourse with someone other than your husband or wife. No one can also force you to send sweet nothings to someone other than your spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend. And most certainly, no one can force you to reply to text messages, chats, and invitations to hang out with someone other than the person you’re in an exclusive relationship with.

The point is, cheaters knowingly do these things, hoping that they won’t get caught to continue with the affair.

Though sorry isn’t enough, most people being cheated on are soft when it comes to their cheating partners. They may have been hurt and angry, but they’re still more than willing to work things out. And most of the time, they are even angrier towards the man or woman their partners had an affair with. In their disbelief that their partners are capable of cheating on them, they try to justify their actions by saying that if only the third party didn’t lure them, their partner wouldn’t have cheated.

When you recently found out that your husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend cheated on you, remember that it’s not your fault. You may be predisposed to think otherwise, but you did nothing wrong. It was your partner and his or her lover’s choice to betray you. And it’s not because you’re unattractive, unworthy, or lacking. They made a conscious effort to act on their urges and emotions because of their utter disregard of the consequences. They are cheaters by choice, period. You’re not the cause, so stop beating yourself out.

 

It’s Okay to Mourn

When you lose a lover due to infidelity, it’s normal to feel devastated about it. It’s also perfectly normal for you to think that everything seems surreal. And your family and friends may tell you that it’s okay, but there’s no comfort in their words. Sadly, you’ll have to go through these during or after a heartbreak. Some even experience an immense state of hopelessness and depression that they have a hard time functioning.

If you ever find yourself in these situations, know that you’re not alone. All your feelings are also valid. Don’t let anyone tell you what you ought to do or how you should cope up because it’s you who’s dealing with the problem. It’s also you who has been betrayed. So, if you’re mourning for a week, month, or year — so be it.

Take time to feel and process your emotions and anger so that you can move on without so much excess baggage. It will also help if you seek the help of therapists and counselors to help you address your thoughts and emotions.

 

Should you tell your kids about the affair?

The repercussions brought by infidelity multiply when kids are involved. When one of the parents cheated, they’re hurting not only their partner but also their kids. However, when the infidelity is exposed, the cheating parent feels ashamed to tell their kids about what they did.

Most parents, even the ones cheated on, often choose not to tell their children because they want to spare them from feelings of betrayal and hate. On the other hand, a few want to divulge their cheating partner’s wrongdoings to make them pay. While neither of these reactions is healthy, parents must know that children can sense when something at home is amiss.

Kids are naturally self-centric; that’s why they often assume that what happens is always their fault. Your children will most likely pick up the emotional pain and stress you’re feeling, and they’ll most likely know when something is not right. The sad news is unless you clarify with them that there’s something wrong, but it’s not their fault, they’ll continue feeling this way. These thoughts might even freely run in their minds:

  • Mom and dad are always angry and fighting. If only I were a good boy/girl, this wouldn’t happen.
  • Mom and dad no longer pay attention to me. I must have done something that made them mad.
  • If I would only be nicer and if I won’t complain about my chores, they might like me back.
  • If I stop making noise, mom and dad would be less mad at me.

Kids think this way and assume that they’re the reason for the family strife simply because they’re not doing anything. If parents fail to address this, the child will feel unworthy, wrong, and defective. As a result, their self-esteem and self-confidence will also plummet, thereby developing a negative and skewed self-image. It’s also possible that they’ll develop a sense of shame for who they are.

So, What Should You Say And Not Say to Your Kids About An Affair?

First and foremost, they don’t need to know the details of your sex life, most especially if it has gone awry. It’s safer to say that one of their parents crossed the relationship boundary that caused the other to be upset. They only need to confirm that indeed, there’s something wrong, but it isn’t their fault.

Remember that you can’t take back what you already said. So, make sure that you talk to your kids when you’re emotionally stable and calm. You might just say something that you’ll regret for the rest of your life.

If you have more than one child, speak to them together. And no matter how angry or hurt you are, put them first — at least when you explain to them the situation. Also, remember that pick the right words and make sure it’s age-appropriate.

 

How Can Counseling Help You Deal With The Aftermath Of An Affair?

If there’s one thing you should seriously consider doing after finding out that your partner cheated on you, that would be finding someone you trust that will listen. A trusted friend or a close family member could be that person. However, if you don’t have someone within your circle, it’s best to seek the help of a therapist or counselor that specializes in infidelity. The least you need to hear after infidelity is that you should have seen the red flags and that you should not have entered into a relationship with that cheating partner. It won’t also do good to hear people ‘I told you so.’

Aside from that, it won’t help if you get blamed for your choice of being with that person who betrayed your trust. It’s not the issue now, so that should be put on the shelf. There’s no point rubbing the hurt in and adding insult to injury. You need someone who won’t judge you and won’t make you even more messed up.

Counselors Will Listen Without Judgment

When you go through a betrayal, it’s normal to have so many things on your mind. You will question everything your partner did as you blame yourself for not noticing the signs of their infidelity. You may also think that they cheated because you’re lacking. If you dwell in these thoughts, they will surely consume you. You will only fall into a vicious cycle of self-pity and regret. However, if you let these thoughts out of your system, you can share your point of view with your listener, thereby easing the pain and torture you’re feeling.

And if your listener is a professional who is an expert in handling this kind of concern, they can process your thoughts and actions. Your counselor can help you reframe your mindset from being the pitiful victim to someone who can decide and take charge of the relationship. As Ashitaka from Princess Mononoke said, you ought to see with eyes unclouded by hate. With the help of a professional, you can achieve this emotional state.

Your counselor can explain to you the possible reasons why your lover cheated and also make you realize that it’s not your fault that they chose to be polygamous. Your counselor can also allow you to talk and talk until you dump all your negative and depressive thoughts, helping you find a new, fresh, and better perspective about yourself, your life, and your relationship.

Therapists Can Help You Process Your Own Issues

No matter how successful, attractive, or intelligent they are, some people always end up with a lover who doesn’t recognize their worth and continues to abuse them. They may have broken up with a past lover because that person cheated on them, and they thought that their new one wouldn’t do the same thing. However, later on, they found out that they are just entangled in the same toxic relationship cycle all over again.

By yourself, you may not be able to realize that you’re in the same kind of abusive relationship every single time because of your unresolved childhood issues and trauma. Or it could be because you grew up thinking that you don’t deserve to be loved perfectly and unconditionally. These thoughts may appear harmless, but they can mess your belief system and views. And you know what happens when these toxic beliefs stay in your system? You believe them as accurate. And you manifest them through your actions.

When you were young, your father or mother may have left you, and since then, you thought you’re not worthy of being loved. Because you were abandoned as a child, you believe that your lover will do the same thing. Even if you work hard to make yourself attractive, successful, and worthy to be loved, your belief system will sabotage you and lead you to dysfunctional and toxic relationships.

Your therapist can dig deeper into your subconscious to discover these unresolved issues. They can also lay these issues on the table to see how it hurts your present. After this, your therapist can also guide you on finally letting go of these thoughts and learning new, positive, and empowering beliefs. They will guide and coach you so the next time you enter a relationship, or when you start mending the old one, you won’t be carrying these damaging pieces of baggage anymore.

 

Takeaways

Cheating doesn’t only mean having sex with a person other than your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, or husband. If you’re attempting to do something you’re compelled to hide from your lover, then that could be considered cheating. When someone sends you an over-friendly message, and you’re obligated to keep it from your other half, there’s a considerable possibility that could lead to something more dangerous.

Quit playing with fire. Before entering into a serious relationship, both parties must realize their obligations towards each other. They must also be cautious of the feelings of their beloved that they should evade cheating on them. If you can’t be monogamous, at least keep yourself from entering into a committed relationship. If you’re not happy with your current relationship, better break up than cheat. You see, you won’t only be hurting your partner now, but you will also leave them with issues that they could be carrying for the rest of their lives.

Meanwhile, if you’re going through deep emotional turmoil due to a recently-discovered cheating incident, know that you’re not alone. You always have your family, friends, and other loved ones backing you up. And if they’re not enough, you can always seek the help of professional counselors and therapists. There’s no shame in admitting that you’re breaking down and needing emotional support. Speak to a counselor now and lighten your burden.