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The Marriage Podcast for Smart People
32 minutes | a year ago
Defining Emotionally Abusive Behavior
This is a subject we’ve wanted to address for some time. We see some irony in the work we do with couples or individuals when it comes to abuse. Often, though not always, people who are in a relationship with a truly abusive person do not realize it. On the other hand, couples who are in high conflict often label the other person as abusive when they are not really an abusive person, although they may relate to abusive tactics from time to time. So, the ‘abuse’ word gets abused sometimes. And other times, when it should be used, it’s not. So, we hope we can provide some clarity today by going through some of these emotionally abusive behaviors. One distinction we want to make right off the bat is that probably all of us at some point in time have resorted to using one or more of the abusive tactics we are going to discuss in this episode. There’s a difference between bad behavior and a more fundamental problem of being an abusive person. The latter is a more characterological issue: it’s a way of seeing one’s intimate partner all the time as someone to be controlled, dominated, manipulated to serve you, as less than you. On the other hand, many of us in conflict may use some abusive tactics — that’s not acceptable either, but it’s nowhere near the scale of severity compared to a spouse who faces a characterologically abusive person every day. It may just be that your marriage is normal, there’s no cycle in that sense, but when you get into conflict, you might use unpredictability or blame. That’s bad too, but not problematic in the same way as abuse. The key distinction between resorting to abusive behavior when in conflict and being in an abusive marriage is that the cycle of abuse is always happening in an abusive marriage. We talk extensively about being in an abusive marriage in episodes 123, 124, and 125. Generally, abusive behavior can be verbal, emotional, and/or physical. Right now, we’re focusing on emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can include verbal assault, dominance, control, isolation, ridicule, or the use of intimate knowledge for degradation. This is the kind of abuse that targets the emotional and psychological well-being of the victim in order to gain power over them. It is often (though not always) a precursor to physical abuse. Some types of physical behavior can be considered emotional abuse in that they involve acts of physical violence although the victim is never physically impacted. Examples include: throwing objects, kicking a wall, shaking a finger or fist at the victim (threateningly), driving recklessly while the victim is in the car, or threatening to destroy objects the victim values. Emotionally Abusive Behavior 1. Gaslighting According to Paige Sweet, gaslighting is "a type of psychological abuse aimed at making victims seem or feel 'crazy,' creating a 'surreal' interpersonal environment (so bad it didn’t seem real) (p. 851). It’s more of a gendered phenomenon that occurs in power-laden intimate relationships where the wife is dependent, not the husband. The husband brings the social and economic capital to the relationship, and so has a degree of power that he can abuse. It promotes the idea that women are overly emotional, irrational and not in control of their emotions. Signs of Gaslighting: Spouses who gaslight will often "flip the script.” That’s the basic tactic: whatever actually happened, they’ll say something else happened. You heard them say XYZ, they’ll deny saying it at all or tell you it was actually ZYX and you must be losing it for not remembering. When there’s not another witness and your spouse is doing this constantly, it erodes your sense of self-trust. There’s lots of lies: about what was said, what actually happened, and who did what. This is usually more subtle, rather than a blatant thing. Another tactic is to use your insecurities against you: you’re worried because he didn’t come home last night?
37 minutes | a year ago
How Do I Know When/If I Can Trust My Spouse After Betrayal?
How do I know if I can trust my spouse again? This question represents one of the most profound dilemmas a betrayed spouse will struggle with as they journey towards healing after a significant betrayal. How do I know I’m not going to get hurt again? How do I know I’m not just being a fool to trust him or her? Trust is so easy to break and so hard to build: today we’d like to give you more insight into the dynamics at play in this important struggle. Before we talk about indicators of trustworthiness, we’re going to look at factors that are independent of trustworthiness, or a lack thereof, in your spouse, that affect your ability to trust them again. The Interference of Betrayal Trauma Betrayal often causes symptoms of trauma to appear. Symptoms of betrayal trauma include: Avoidance (possibly even as far as terminating your relationship with your spouse)Hypervigilance (fear response) which can involve scrutinizing all of your spouse’s behaviors, searching, researching, double-checking and interrogatingObsessive questioning, meaning that you continually grill your spouse, and may find it hard to stop Rage (fight response)Numbness (freeze response) Identifying these symptoms isn’t meant to pathologize any of them. It’s just good to be aware of the symptoms so that you can recognize it if you experience betrayal trauma. Sometimes you can spend a lot of emotional and mental space trying to figure out what happened. Gordon, Baucom and Snyder (2005) note "a primary disruption experienced by the injured partner is intrusive, persistent rumination about the event, which can become so overwhelming and uncontrollable that it interferes with both concentration and daily functioning" (p. 1394). If you’re experiencing symptoms of betrayal trauma, the process is entirely inside because of what the betraying spouse has done. The symptoms of betrayal trauma can protect you from reaching out to your spouse again, even if they’ve returned to a trustworthy place. We’re delicately saying that the symptoms of trauma can prevent you from trusting, even if you are in a situation where it would be safe to trust again. Part of the impact of trauma is how it affects trust. Gordon, Baucom, and Snyder (2005) go on to observe: "A major cognitive response associated with the discovery of an affair is the change in beliefs about the partner and relationship; one can no longer trust in his or her partner or feel safe within the relationship" (p. 1394). Trauma affects what you believe about your spouse. Here’s the point: they betrayed you. The betrayal causes trauma. In the ensuing fallout, it is possible that significant cognitive and emotional changes occurred in your spouse so that they are now a trustworthy person. But if your trauma is unresolved and unhealed, the trauma itself will prevent you from seeing, believing and acting on that trustworthiness. We’re not saying all betraying spouses become trustworthy. Yours may not be. But we are saying that yours may now be, but your trauma prevents you from acknowledging this because it’s protecting you. In conjunction with your spouse doing what is necessary to become a changed, trustworthy person, you also need to take care of this trauma that has occurred. For betraying spouses listening, it is not for you to turn on your spouse and say this is your fault/problem. A trustworthy betraying spouse can say “yes, I caused this, and I understand that your healing may not follow the same trajectory or speed as mine and you take all the time you need and I will do what I can to support you and I will do what I can to support you.” If they won’t do this, that is a sign that they’re not really trustworthy because they are still blame shifting. That’s for betrayed spouses to consider as you reflect on yourself. Now, as you reflect on your spouse, we want to give you some warning signs, and some proceed with caution signs. Keep in mind that trust is not a switch that you...
41 minutes | a year ago
The 5 Pillars of Attachment
We talked a lot about the 4 predominant styles of attachment in episodes 251 to 254. Attachment is basically the science of love, and in the marriage counseling world, it’s one of the core issues that we’re interested in working on when we are looking at how spouses are relating to one another. As we discussed in previous episodes, there are four styles of attachment, and the best style is called secure attachment. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the five pillars of secure attachment that make up that style of relating to others. Review of Attachment For a quick review, attachment is the science of love, or more specifically, the secure emotional bond established between two people (either in a parent to child relationship or in marriage). With a secure attachment style, you can create robust, healthy relationships, and the people in those relationships, your spouse and children, will be best positioned to thrive and grow. A default attachment style is formed within us as a result of the bond during infancy with our primary caregiver (often our mother). Generally, that attachment style becomes the default for how we bond with our spouse through courtship and into marriage. It is possible to change one’s attachment style, but for 68-75% of the population, the childhood attachment style persists into adulthood and only about 40% of people are securely attached (which is the best style to have). Most people don’t realize that it’s possible to change styles, or that they need to, which is why we want to tackle some of these conceptual topics in today’s episode. 5 Pillars of Attachment The five pillars of attachment are: A sense of felt safetyA sense of being seen and known (attunement)The experience of felt comfort (soothing)A sense of being valued (expressed delight)A sense of support for being and becoming one’s unique best self. We’re going to start each one with how a parent does it for a child and by extension how when a child becomes an adult, they extend that for their spouse, and how they can extend that to their spouse today. 1. A Sense of Felt Safety Parent to Child Safety comes from consistency, reliability, and protection. Consistency and reliability are about predictability. Are you present and available in a dependable way, when your spouse needs you (or was your parent)? If a parent was unpredictably available, you probably felt you could never be sure so you needed to check in regularly to see. This leads to an anxious attachment style. If a parent is able to consistently respond to their child’s emotions, needs, and wants, the child will experience a sense of felt safety. On the other hand, if a child grows up in a home where their parent flies off the handle unpredictably, this can lead to an attachment injury even if the parent is always there because the parent is not consistently available. It’s important to note that just because you are unavailable at one particular time does not mean the child will not have a secure attachment style. No parent is perfect, and as long as a parent’s response to their child is understandable and predictable most of the time, then the child will have a sense of felt safety. Protection is also not helicopter parenting. All children have small injuries such as cuts and bruises; providing a sense of safety does not mean parents need to prevent their children from experiencing any level of pain. Protection does mean taking care of adult concerns without exposing the child to them. Children should not feel responsible for other adult concerns (e.g. financial instability). And of course, parents need to pay attention to adult-level threats such as serious physical hurt, inappropriate sexuality, etc. A child should always be protected from serious threats such as physical and emotional abuse and neglect. Failed protection means the child develops memories and feelings relative to their primary attachment figure that a...
26 minutes | a year ago
What Causes Infidelity?
Today we are going to take a compassionate and sensitive look at the “why” of infidelity. We believe that infidelity is a choice, and, from our own moral perspective, it is wrong, but at the same time when it comes to making sense of infidelity as part of rebuilding a marriage, further examination reveals a lot of complexity and many sensitive topics. Infidelity Looks Different for Different People Infidelity is more common than we might think. A 1994 study showed that nearly a quarter of all men and fifteen percent of women engage in sex outside marriage in either a current marriage or previous marriage. Individuals who commit infidelity can have very different stories. From the perspective of a betraying spouse, some people come in and know how they got derailed. Others come in saying “I don’t know how I got here,” or “I didn’t want this.” There can be a real disconnection from the consequences of their actions. Factors that Can Contribute to Infidelity Dissatisfaction with marriage People who are dissatisfied with their marriages are more likely to seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere than people who are satisfied with their marriages. According to Gerald Weeks, an expert in the field, one of the strongest factors making marital infidelity more likely is diminished marital satisfaction". This information may bring up questions like “what does this mean for distressed marriages?” “Do all affairs point to a distressed marriage?” “Does this happen to all distressed marriages?” It is certainly not the case that distressed marriages always lead to infidelity. There are some situations where infidelity is a result of diminished judgment and an unexpected opportunity, rather than a sign of distress. For example, if a partner goes on a work trip and has too much alcohol and ends up having a sexual encounter with someone other than their spouse. And not everyone in a distressed marriage will have an affair, many people in distressed marriages are faithful to their spouse. But if your marriage is in distress, it’s best to get help and not just to hope for change without taking action. Little or No Sexual Intimacy There have been shown to be higher rates of infidelity when sexual intimacy within the marriage is low in frequency or quality. This is not to say that if you’re not having sex with your spouse that justifies going elsewhere for sexual fulfillment, but a lack of sexual intimacy does increase the temptation. From a Christian perspective, continually withholding sexual intimacy from your spouse is also abandoning one of the privileges of marriage. Doubts the Marriage Will Last Individuals are more likely to engage in extramarital sex if they doubt the long-term viability of their marriage. These doubts may lead them to think that the traditional rules regulating marriage no longer apply to them. One can start thinking “because the marriage won’t last, I’m going to seek sexual fulfillment elsewhere.” But once the norm of sexual fidelity is violated, prospects for the continued stability of the marriage are lessened considerably, so this mentality ends up leading to the disintegration of your marriage, regardless of what hope you had for the marriage to begin with. It’s important to watch for doubts, and what you may entertain based on those doubts about the viability of your marriage. If you find yourself having doubts, try re-visiting your core values. Ask yourself, even if it didn’t last, how you would like the end of the marriage to be remembered? If you’ve been holding off getting help for your marriage, maybe now is the time to do so. Multiple Sexual Partners Prior to Marriage Once again, this doesn’t mean that if you’ve had sexual partners prior to your marriage that you will be unfaithful to your spouse. Correlation is not causation. However, statistically individuals who have had numerous past sexual partners prior to the marriage are more likely...
21 minutes | a year ago
How To Balance Parenting and Marriage (Even During a Pandemic)
Did you know that the research shows that marriage takes a hit when you have kids? One author reported in 2005 that an analysis of 90 different research studies showed the drop in marital satisfaction is a shocking 42% larger among the current generation than their predecessors. A more recent study from 2016 showed that 67% of couples reported a decline in relationship happiness for up to three years after the birth of their first child. Those figures are reported in non-pandemic situations. Clearly, parenting does impact marriage for most of us, and parenting during a pandemic presents additional challenges. We want to give you some concrete ways to boost your marriage even while you’re parenting during a pandemic. How to Prioritize Your Marriage Instagram and Facebook don’t tell the full story. While we find ourselves posting photos of some pretty sweet moments with our kids, we need to normalize the fact that parenting is very challenging. It makes life more complex and challenging. And those Instagram moments are few and far between. We don’t want to be negative, but we do want to be real. Parenting is hard work. Recognize the Pressure High expectations mean lots of social pressure to have your kid excel in one area, if not multiple areas: academically, socially, in sports or athletics, with spiritual values, etc. It’s exhausting and consuming. As if this wasn’t challenging enough, the compounding problem is that by the time the kids are all launched, the dad and mom hardly know each other and they’ve endured all this stress with little resolution: divorce can become an appealing option. So how does a couple balance all these demands and not end up in that place? Here are a few ways to help couples find balance. Have a Daily Stress-Reducing Conversation Stress often creates overwhelm and emotional reactivity. Having a stress-reducing conversation involves discussing the day’s frustrations, but separating those frustrations from the relationship. Don’t blame all of your frustrations on the relationship when stress is likely the root cause. That gives you both a chance to vent, gain support, and show empathy for one another. This is very important during isolation too. Spend Time with Just One Another This is good at any time, but extra tough if you have kids at home right now who are normally at school. Be intentional about making the time for one another. This restores or fosters a sense of partnership so it’s not only about parenting but also what exists between you two. Think about ways you can do this on a daily basis (smaller, consistent moments) but also on an intermittent basis (e.g. date nights). This may look a bit different during a pandemic, but try to find creative ways to spend time just with one another even if you can’t do some of the activities you would normally do together. In a pandemic context you likely have more time, but it can be harder to make time just for each other if you are home with your kids, so being intentional about creating time is key to prioritizing time with your spouse. How to Stay Close to Your Spouse When Parenting is Demanding If you feel like you’re several years into raising kids and aren’t exactly sure how to pivot back to putting some focus on your marriage, the bonus guide for today’s episode has a couple of great starting points to help you with that. You can get this by becoming a patron of The Marriage Podcast for Smart People. Get the Guide! Discuss Division of Labour A University of California, Berkeley study tracked 100 couples from first pregnancy through the child's transition to kindergarten found that the No. 1 source of conflict in the first three years of parenthood is the division of labor. According to psychologist Carolyn Page Cowan, the couples had expected a more 50-50 arrangement than they ended up with. The study also showed that when dad doesn't step up,
25 minutes | a year ago
How to Confront Your Husband About His Pornography Addiction
Reasonably often, we get inquiries from a wife whose husband is addicted to pornography and he won’t do anything about it. In this article we want to help you prepare for that first serious confrontation where you have a very deliberate conversation about this problem and how it is impacting you as his wife. Understanding Denial It’s almost inevitable that you are going to run into some level of denial in a conversation like this, so let’s begin by talking about denial. It would be easy to run into this and throw your hands up in the air and give up. However, it is important to understand that denial is a common response to addiction. It is a feature of addiction. And addicts are typically in denial of the negative consequences of their addiction. One important piece to understand is that the part of the brain that craves or desires something has no direct neural connection to the part of the brain that holds the consequence for engaging in what you desire. One relatable example is a second piece of dessert: the idea of that second piece is always significantly more attractive when you’re about to start into it than the experience of it when you’re through it and starting to feel gross. If someone were to stop you before that fork bite and say, “No, you should not do this! You’ll feel gross” your automatic response would be, “Get out of my way or you’ll be wearing this fork! I want it anyway!” Now, that is a somewhat trivial example, but it illustrates the power of denial in addiction to the point where a person can ignore the evidence that their choices are harmful. Nevertheless, it’s still important that the addict is confronted with the consequences of the addiction. We’d just like you to understand that the addict will be in denial and we want to help you prepare so that you can present your evidence, your complaints and concerns in a way that you can motivate him to seek help. Prepare Yourself First As we’ve mentioned in other episodes, we are born-again Christians who are not perfect but are trying to live lives that reflect the values of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. All of that to say, we come at this issue with a moral belief that pornography is not helpful to marriage. We also recognize that we have a lot of listeners who don’t share this belief system and so you’ll approach this issue differently. So, we’re going to offer a range of questions that you should consider as you prepare for this conversation. Depending on your own beliefs and values, some of these questions will be more relevant than others. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions: we just want to think through all that might be going on for you as you approach a confrontation like this with your husband. Consider your motives for having this conversation:What are you hoping to accomplish?Is it to reassure yourself that you are enough?Are you angry and looking to express this?Is it a conviction against his use of pornography?Consider the basis of your objection:Is it moral?Is it based on general beliefs that you have about pornography?Is it the fact that your spouse is lying or hiding to cover it up?Is it other behaviors that come with the addiction, such as gaslighting?Being clear on exactly what you are objecting to will help you make yourself clear to your spouse.Consider the consequences:What impact has his pornography use had on you?What needs and fears are you carrying into this conversation?Pay attention to what your body has been telling you, what your thoughts have been, what you feel in your heart about pornography and describe its impact on you as thoughtfully and precisely as you can. Your husband needs to know the negative effects this has had on you.Know what you are willing to accept and be prepared to state boundaries that you will consider implementing in order to create emotional and relational safety for yourself. When Your Husband Wont Face His Pornography Addiction...
21 minutes | a year ago
Coronavirus and Your Marriage
Well, we live in unprecedented times as many of us are adjusting to a global crisis. We are recording this episode in the middle of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, with some of our listeners in cities in full lock-down and others nervously awaiting the community spread of this disease. Certainly, it has created considerable stress and new issues to negotiate. Today, we’d like to help you understand how these kinds of crises impact marriage, but more importantly, how your marriage can help you buffer the storm. How Coronavirus (Or Any Crisis) Affects Marriage We want to start by normalizing what many are experiencing during this time of crisis. This is a very stressful time. Under this kind of stress, all sorts of issues are going to show up: things related to your family of origin, how you wish to feel supported under duress, communication differences, sexuality issues, attachment, and also loss. To start with the loss issue, many people have lost the regular rhythm of their normal routines. You may find yourself no longer gathering with colleagues at work every day. If you had kids in school, you’ve lost your quiet time at home and the routines you were accustomed to. You may have lost the ability to gather with your church community, go to the gym, and head to the grocery store without fear. There is a lot of loss all around us even if the coronavirus is not in our neighbourhood. And if it is? There could be tragic loss as well. All of this comes with a lot of stress, so we’ll start by looking at how stress affects your marriage. Stress Affects Both Spouses Even if you are not personally as stressed, if your spouse is feeling it, it will bleed over into your experience too. Studies have shown that there is more of a correlation in wives experiencing the stress of their husbands than vice versa. So if your husband is stressed, even if you weren’t, you are going to pick up on that and are likely to have an empathic response. It’s just really hard to get through a time like this untouched by what is going on around you. You May Disagree on How to Handle the Pandemic At ordinary times in life, you may disagree about how to handle money or whether to spend holidays with family or away on vacation. Similarly, you can also disagree about how to handle crises like this pandemic. These disagreements could be related to your family of origin. If your respective family of origin handled crises in different ways, your spouse’s approach to handling the current crisis may be much different from yours. For example, you may believe that this is a time to connect (carefully, and with social distancing) and help one another out as much as possible by sharing resources. But your spouse may feel this is a time to stockpile and hunker down and really protect yourselves and your children. Normal disagreements and differences in the way your family of origin styles tend to show up during a time of crisis. You Deal with Stress Differently It may also be that you have very different ways of coping with stress. This will be accentuated right now. One spouse may want to control the situation and take every possible step to ensure safety. That would be more of a doing or busy response — nothing wrong there. But the other spouse may just really need to talk about their fears and anxieties. You can see how it would be easy to have a disconnect: one spouse wondering why the other is not helping with what needs done, and the other just longing to sit down and be able to talk it out. Naturally, if you don’t take time to communicate with one another, the stress of this crisis can make you feel estranged. So, it is important to pay attention to how the pandemic may be affecting each of you differently and how you respond both respond to it. Your Attachment Style Impacts Your Stress Response We have talked about attachment style in past episodes (episode 251-254) and this is relevant when you are under str...
27 minutes | a year ago
Key Things to Include When Disclosing Infidelity
While the disclosure of infidelity is never going to be a happy experience for either the betrayer or the betrayed spouse, you need to know that there are helpful and unhelpful ways to go about it. And the unhelpful ways can make a difficult experience especially damaging for the betrayed spouse. Today, we want to talk about some of the key things you should discuss and the reactions you should be prepared for when disclosing infidelity of any kind. The Value of Disclosure It’s very easy to come to a topic like disclosure and wonder if anything positive could possibly come out of it. It is normal to dread an event like this and believe that it is going to cause catastrophic and irreversible damage to your relationship. Those fears may be realized regardless of how well you prepare. One thing that it’s important to realize is that any damage should only be from the behaviors that you are disclosing, not from the disclosure itself. A thoughtful, caring disclosure may actually end up becoming a first healing step for your spouse if you validate that what they are experiencing is real. It can even begin to restore trust in themselves if there were suspicions or questions about your activities prior to the disclosure. That’s not to say that the outcome you desire will be achieved or that the difficult feelings of disclosure will be avoided if done right. No, you can still expect the full range of emotions that flow from betrayal. However, a well thought out, intentional, planned disclosure is going to offer much greater possibilities of repair, recovery and restoration than a careless or forced disclosure. Discovery or Disclosure? Let’s define some terms briefly. Discovery is when your spouse finds out some or part of what’s been going on. There are a lot of different ways this can play out. In one scenario, the spouse can find something on her husband’s phone and then challenge him and he may start disclosing immediately. In another scenario, the wife can have suspicions and have all of the lines tapped in their home (in the days before cell phones) and record conversations between her husband and his affair partner for several months before confronting him. We think it’s fair to make the sweeping statement that a well-prepared disclosure is always better than discovery. One variation on a prepared disclosure is a forced disclosure. That is a situation where, for example, you may have a political candidate who had an affair a few years back and ended that affair and never disclosed it. However, it’s election season and the opposition dug up this information and is about to hit the news with it. In that case, the betraying spouse is forced to urgently disclose the betrayal to their spouse. This is obviously a very difficult situation to be in, not only because of the betrayal itself, but also because of the public exposure tied to it. Even with that being said, there’s still a lot of variables around disclosure. The recommendations that we want to make is primarily around the more typical forms of infidelity: an affair has occurred, there is a pornography addiction, or there has been some form of financial betrayal. If you are sex addicted and you need to do a disclosure, this is a much more severe situation that warrants a more carefully planned and thought-out approach than even what we are suggesting today. We have team members with our online counseling agency who can help you with a professionally coordinated disclosure. Make a Full Disclosure Another piece of terminology you should be familiar with is “staggered disclosure.” This is where you trickle information to your spouse over a period of days, weeks, or even months. Usually, this happens because the betraying spouse wants to minimize the pain their betrayed spouse feels by delivering the medicine in small doses. However, it does not work and actually has the opposite effect. The problem with staggered disclosure is that your...
27 minutes | a year ago
6 Porn Groups To Help Your Recovery
If you are trying to break a pornography addiction, one of the best things you can do is to find a group that you can join in addition to doing individual counselling. Fortunately, there are a number of great options out there to choose from depending on what is available in your area or whether or not you are looking for something that fits with your faith/beliefs or your goals for sobriety. Today, we are looking at 6 of the largest groups available so that you can make a choice about what might work best for your situation. A number of porn and sex addiction groups came into being in the 1970s, probably in response to the sexual revolution. A number of these groups have been around for a long time and they are well established. But they are not all the same — we’ll try to articulate those differences as we go through so be sure to note what seems to be a good fit for you based on the information we provide about each group. Try to pick a couple because you’ll also want to go on their websites and see if one of them has a group near you. Group 1: Pure Desire Website: https://puredesire.org/ About: Pure Desire Ministries International began in a local church. It was founded by Ted and Diane Roberts. It began as a program to help people with addictions and codependency. Over two decades, they developed a strategy for working with sex addiction that is both Biblically-based, clinically informed, and successful in creating change. In 2007, it became an independent 501c3. It has expanded beyond the church it started in and become internationally known. Their services are available in Canada, the United States, and around the world. Pure Desire is a Christian organization designed to help men, women and young adults recover from sex addiction and intimacy disorders. They have specific groups for men, women, young men, young women, and college-age men. Training: Their counselors also have training through the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction (IITAP) and are licensed as either Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSAT) or Pastoral Sex Addiction Professionals (PSAP). In-Person or Online: Pure Desire offers both local and online groups. The local groups are volunteer-led and the online groups are led by a Certified Pure Desire Group Leader. Program: They have groups both for those struggling with addiction and for those struggling with betrayal. It’s difficult to see what the program is for local groups, but their online groups are a 2 hour-long weekly meeting with 1-2 hours of homework a week. It’s a 10-month long commitment in total. Fees: The local, volunteer led groups are free, but the online groups led by one of their leaders are a paid commitment. At the time of this writing, the group for addicts was $490 plus resources (about $60) and the group for betrayed spouses was $290 plus the resources (US Dollars). Strengths/Weaknesses Compared to Other Groups: The founder of Pure Desire, Ted Roberts, was working alongside Pat Carnes when he was doing his research and started writing about sex addiction back in the 90’s. It’s very well-grounded clinically as well as Biblically with a lot of experience helping people recover from porn and sex addiction. Group 2: Celebrate Recovery Websites: https://www.celebraterecovery.com/ (Around the world)https://www.celebraterecovery.ca/ (Canada) About: Celebrate Recovery offers a faith-based 12 step program. They began in 1991 at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California when John Baker wrote a letter to Rick Warren, the senior pastor outlining the vision God had given him for starting Celebrate Recovery. John is still the primary author of the Celebrate Recovery curriculum and materials. Though it has Christian affiliation and a biblical approach to addictions treatment, more than 70% of their members come from outside the church. Celebrate Recovery began with just four Open Share Groups and has expande...
25 minutes | a year ago
Responding to The Rage of Your Betrayed Spouse
If you have betrayed your spouse and disclosed that betrayal to them, one thing you will have become very aware of is the rage that betrayal can cause. In our experience in working with couples, many people who are working through their own infidelity and trying to recover their marriage find that they aren’t sure how to respond to this rage or what to do with it. Today we are going to look at why anger is a normal part of responding to betrayal, where it comes from, and how to best support your spouse in the face of it. Anger Is A Common Reaction to Betrayal When a person is betrayed, there are a lot of potential responses that often come in waves and in varying degrees of intensity. According to researcher MeowLan Chan (2009) "Typical responses to betrayal include: retaliation, reduction in trust, distrust or suspicion, increase in monitoring, negative emotions (e.g., anger, disappointment, frustration), deterioration in the quality or even termination of the relationship, withdrawal of effort and cooperation within the relationship, and demand for more legalistic forms of trust as substitutes for interpersonal trust." These reactions affect both your spouse and your relationship. One of the most prominent negative emotions is anger, or even rage. In all fairness, when anyone is faced with an extreme threat they will often respond with anger. Anger helps a person survive by shifting their focus toward doing the things necessary for survival. Since a marriage is usually grounded on what was seen to be a reliable foundation of trust, when that foundation is shattered by betrayal, this significant breakdown in one’s foundation is often experienced as a threat to survival. Furthermore, anger is a common response to events that seem unfair or to circumstances that set you up to be a victim of the choices of others, especially a situation like a betrayal event. Understanding Trauma and PTSD from Betrayal The severity of a spouse’s response to betrayal can come as a surprise to the betraying spouse. Often, a betraying spouse wants to justify their actions and the way they may have gone against their values with those actions. They do this by denying and minimizing their actions in their mind. As a result, they tend to mentally turn the dial down on what the anticipated consequences will be. Regardless of how much denial is occurring, it does not affect the severity of the impact on the betrayed spouse. Quite often, a betrayal becomes a traumatic event, even causing many of the symptoms of PTSD. Your spouse may experience other negative effects of trauma such as forgetting important parts of the traumatic event, exaggerating negative thoughts about oneself, others, or the world, distorted blame of self or others, detachment or estrangement from others, inability to experience positive emotions, lack of interest in activities, or globally negative experiences of fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame. This is all due to the trauma that frequently comes with betrayal. It’s such a blow to a person that it becomes a shattering event. Looking at the rage response more specifically, some of the criteria for rage include: Having an experience that exceeds healthy anger.Losing the rational component of brain functioning that enables a person to think clearly and logically. Losing the ability to consider consequences for actions.Even seeking to hurt your spouse in a physical way. It should be noted that these particular features of rage were observed in a study of violent women who experienced rage towards their partner, but not in a betrayal context. However, we hear about betrayed spouses experiencing the same symptoms when they have experienced spousal betrayal. It’s important to note that even when you have been betrayed, it is still not acceptable to resort to physical violence. Yes, it’s also unacceptable to be betrayed, but two wrongs won’t make a right and physical violence wo...
21 minutes | a year ago
How Self-Compassion Can Help Your Marriage
Compassion is probably something that you find harder to provide for yourself than for others. However, did you know that self-compassion can help your marriage? Yes, we often talk about what you could and should give to your spouse in marriage, but today we want to talk about the need for self-compassion and how beneficial that can be both for yourself and for your marriage. In Western culture, compassion is most commonly thought of as something that should be extended to others. In fact, most of what you will read nowadays about self-compassion finds its roots in Buddhist traditions where compassion to oneself is considered to be as important as one’s compassion to others. At OnlyYouForever, we operate out of a Christian worldview, and we think we can very easily point to a Biblical basis for self-compassion in the second greatest commandment that the Lord Jesus stated: love your neighbor as yourself. That little phrase, “as yourself” is the justification for taking a serious interest in self-compassion because your love for your neighbor (or your spouse!) is going to be based on this. What is Self-Compassion Self-compassion was first defined by psychologist Kristin Neff and she described it as “Kindness toward the self, which entails being gentle, supportive and understanding.” So rather than harshly judging oneself for personal shortcomings, one offers oneself warmth and unconditional acceptance. The reason why this subject is worth addressing is that a growing body of research suggests that self-compassion is strongly associated with psychological health, and less anxiety and depression. As well, Self-compassion is negatively correlated with depression, anxiety, and perfectionism, and is positively correlated with life satisfaction. Research also indicates that self-compassion is associated with better emotional coping skills, greater ability to repair negative emotional states, and generally a more positive state of being. You can imagine how those things can all benefit marriage as well. How Self-Compassion Can Benefit Your Marriage A recent study from 2018 looked at the effects of self-compassion on romantic relationships. The students involved in the study who reported higher levels of self-compassion tended to report having higher quality romantic relationships. Now, one of the limitations of the study was that it was done on young people in romantic relationships who were in undergraduate students in university. Nevertheless, the results are worth considering for anyone in a romantic relationship/marriage. So, why does self-compassion lead to greater satisfaction in relationships? One reason is that people with higher self-compassion are more aware of and able to meet their own needs for kindness and self-comfort. In a distressed marriage, a lot of the focus goes toward figuring out what your spouse needs so this may be a little counterintuitive. But, the ability to balance independence with connectedness, which is being able to observe and respond to your own needs as well as to your spouse’s, is important for healthy relationships. Another reason that individuals with high levels of self-compassion have stronger conflict resolution abilities is that self-compassion gives you more of an ability to see their spouse’s point of view during the disagreement as part of your common humanity rather than a personal hardship that is happening to you. In essence, it means you can love your spouse as yourself while in conflict. That’s a very powerful skill to have when working through conflict. When to Use Self-Compassion Of course, with self-compassion one might simply say “use it everywhere,” but here are a few specific examples to consider. Compassion can be extended toward yourself when suffering occurs through no fault of your own, such as when the external circumstances of life are simply painful or difficult to bear. For example,
28 minutes | a year ago
4 Key Things to Avoid When Disclosing Infidelity
The thought of disclosing an affair to your spouse can be quite terrifying. You know that it is going to cause a lot of distress, perhaps even profound distress, and you also know that you do not really have control over the outcome of your disclosure. While no disclosure is ever going to be a positive experience, our experience working with couples over many years has shown that there are some helpful and some very unhelpful ways to disclose infidelity. We want to help you prepare as well as possible to disclose a betrayal to your spouse. Disclosure is Important If you have broken a promise of faithfulness or fidelity to your spouse and have not told them, then you are facing the need to disclose this betrayal or infidelity. Infidelity can be a number of different things. It can be a purely emotional (and sometimes romantic) relationship with someone of the opposite sex, an online relationship (or relationships), viewing pornography, a one-time or ongoing sexual relationship outside the marriage, or a financial betrayal (e.g., hidden gambling debt or purchasing something significant without disclosing it). Although it is very difficult to disclose an affair, the research shows that individuals who do disclose acknowledge that in the end it was a challenging but correct decision to make. We do want to mention that if you are realizing that you are sex addicted and have an extensive double life to disclose to your spouse, there are professionals who specialize in helping with this kind of disclosure. In this article, we’re mainly focused on the disclosure of an affair, although some of the principles will apply to other betrayals as well. We just want to note that for sex addiction, the process is much more deliberate and planned because of the extent of what must be disclosed and how traumatic that typically is for the betrayed spouse. Avoid These Things When Disclosing Infidelity It is important to be fully honest. You definitely want to avoid lying while disclosing the truth. That may sound funny to say, but sometimes people think they can ease the blow by reducing the overall truthfulness of the disclosure. When those lies get discovered, even the truth is called into question at that point. There are several things to avoid, but we’re assuming that you, as the reader, have the goal of becoming radically honest with your spouse as a result of engaging in this disclosure. Avoid Excessive Detail First of all, every spouse varies in how much they want to know about the infidelity. Some want to know very little. Others want to know what the infidelity was and who it was with, and others want to know all the details even down into the exact play-by-play intricacies of the extramarital sexual encounters. While it is important for your spouse to know the truth, it is also important not to give too much detail as this will greatly increase the traumatic blow of the disclosure. When too much is disclosed, we hear a lot of betrayed spouses talking about flashbacks and scenes playing like a movie in their mind even though they did not see the event. We do recommend in cases of infidelity that the betrayed spouse know who the affair partner(s) was, where they met, when they met, and what happened (e.g., whether the trysts involved intimate conversations or if they involved sexual intercourse, etc.). Those facts help the betrayed spouse to understand the pattern and extent of the extra-marital behaviours so that they can be aware of the signs of the behavior. Now, if your spouse wants extensive detail (sexual positions, what she was wearing, your exact thoughts at different points, etc.) you have to be careful not to appear to be hiding or minimizing what happened. A thoughtful response is really important. We recommend that you tell your spouse you are not entirely opposed to sharing all of the details, nor do you wish to continue any form of hiding or dishonesty,
21 minutes | a year ago
Overwhelmed or Flooded? Here’s How To Calm Down During Conflict
If you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed during conflict, then this article is for you. We describe the psychological experience of flooding: when you white out or shut down or get hijacked by your own emotions. Usually, this happens during a fight with your spouse and it never helps resolve the issue you’re facing. In this article, we talk about what flooding is and how you can calm yourself down in order to navigate through conflict more successfully. What is Flooding? This is a problem that marriage researchers have been paying attention to since the 1990’s when Dr. Gottman first began describing it. It’s a common experience — typically for the withdrawer in marriage, and, since the husband is most commonly the withdrawer in a pursue-withdraw cycle, it happens the most to men. Of course, there are some wives who experience it too. Gottman defines flooding as "the subjective sense of being overwhelmed by the partner’s negative affect, finding it to be unexpected and intense, and feeling as though one’s information processing is impaired.” In other words, in the face of your intense anger or upset I get overwhelmed and shut down. Flooding is not an emotion in itself. It’s just the experience of becoming overwhelmed and feeling like your thoughts are disorganized and you don’t know how to respond. How to Recognize Flooding The more obvious signs of flooding to watch for are just that sense of being overstimulated, feeling that you are overwhelmed, and mentally disorganized. It will typically prompt a fight or flight response in you so that you will want to either respond with anger or withdraw from the situation. About 80% of husbands will stonewall in this situation which looks like emotional withdrawal (shutting down) and sometimes physical withdrawal (e.g., heading to the garage) as well. The less obvious signs of flooding are much like an intense stress response. These signs may include: increased respiration, an increased heart rate, an increase in blood pressure and perspiration. At the same time, you may notice yourself starting to have very negative or catastrophic thoughts about the relationship, for example thinking that “this is never going to work” or feeling very hopeless. Impact of Flooding It’s also important to notice that flooding may really compel you to want to put a stop to the situation that caused or prompted the flooding. In other words, you’ll want to shut down the argument or end the conflict, almost at any cost. It’s like you are driven to escape the situation. The really difficult thing about flooding is that while it is something that happens to you during conflict (nobody does this intentionally to themselves) it is almost universally interpreted as you doing something to or against them! So, the more withdrawn you get as you feel overwhelmed, the more your spouse is likely to turn up the volume. In actual fact, as a result of the flooding, you may even be unable to hear what your spouse is saying. This inability to hear your spouse is a key part of the cycle that we unpack and unravel with our marriage counseling clients as we help them find new ways to navigate conflict. In this article, we are going to talk about why this happens and how to calm yourself down. How to Reduce Flooding During Conflict Once again, we’ve created a bonus guide for our much appreciated supporters. We’ve got a PDF download that shows you how to practice self-compassion as a way to reduce flooding during conflict. This exercise is an effective approach to helping you navigate conflict more successfully. You can get this by becoming a patron of The Marriage Podcast for Smart People. Get the Guide! Why Do I Flood? You may be wondering, why does this happen to me? Or perhaps it is your spouse that gets flooded and you’re asking yourself, “Why does he do that?” It’s important to be aware of this because as the intensity of conflict increases,
31 minutes | a year ago
When Your Spouse Is Too Friendly With the Opposite Sex
If you are married, it’s more than likely that you’ve had a discussion with your spouse at some point about a friendship between one of you and someone outside your marriage. So, what about those opposite-sex friendships? Are they healthy or are they dangerous? Should we avoid them at all costs or take them on a case by case basis? How much friendliness with the opposite sex is too much and could land you in trouble? What if the person you’re friends with is 50 years older than you? These are all questions we explore in this article. Recognize the Hazard First of all, we don’t take a hard line on this issue in either direction. We neither tell you to back off and let your spouse be a grown-up and choose his or her friends or insist that there can be no friendships with the opposite sex for either of you. This is a nuanced issue with lots of variables and we want to point you towards a thoughtful, nuanced, self-reflective review of this issue. Hopefully, you do this in a way that prioritizes the sanctity and value of being in a loyal, committed, thriving marriage. It’s important to recognize that we all need to recognize there is a potential hazard in opposite sex friendships. This doesn’t just apply to flirtatious friends; it’s is really true with any friend. If someone is your friend, it is because you are attracted to them: to their personality or characteristics or physical appearance or what they have to offer or how they make you feel. The word “attraction” may make you nervous there: it doesn’t necessarily mean physical attraction or even attraction in a way that is unfaithful to your marriage. It’s natural that we like our friends. You may not be thinking in that direction today, but it is important to acknowledge this as a potential hazard. That doesn’t call us to paranoia or isolation: it should call us toward caution and self-reflection to make sure we keep things in a healthy place. What to Watch For The Potential for More The first issue to be aware of is that there is often the potential for more than a friendship. There are conceivable circumstances under which a friendship could exist with absolutely no sexual attraction or sexual compatibility. In a case like this, having a friendship with someone of the opposite gender presents no problem at all. An example of this is little old ladies from church. You can go to her house for the afternoon, chat, share personal stories, have a cup of tea, pet her cat, and nothing is ever going to happen. At the same time, it’s important to realize that many opposite-sex friendships involve people who—if circumstances were different—might be potential romantic partners. It’s also worth noting that it is common for men to mainly befriend women that they have at least some degree of physical attraction to. In light of this, it can be hard to know how best to handle opposite-sex relationships because another important task for married people is to stop considering alternatives. You don’t want to be moving through life considering potential alternatives to your spouse. But you also have to recognize that if someone is a potential alternative then that friendship has greater risks associated with it. The key difference between these two thoughts is the element of fantasy. Fantasy says, “I wonder what it would be like to be married to him or her?” Or worse, “…To have sex with that person?” This is called considering alternatives, and it erodes your commitment, intimacy, and loyalty towards your spouse. On the other hand, it is possible to realize that someone is attractive or kind or admirable in some way. You need to be conscious of recognizing that there is potential for more (without fantasy or thinking about what that potential might be) and just set a mental boundary for yourself. Warning Sings It’s important to pay attention to the warning signs and not to ignore them. Some warning signs might be:
20 minutes | a year ago
Why You Might Be Experiencing Pain During Sex (for Husbands)
Four episodes back we addressed the topic of pain during sex for women and that show received a lot of downloads. Today we return to the topic but this time for men. Sexual issues like this can be difficult to figure out and often people just don’t even know who to ask, so they struggle alone. We hope this will be the start of getting help for anyone who is struggling with pain during sex so that you can return to enjoying physical intimacy with your wife. Pain During Sex for Men Often, the cause of pain during sex can by physical, psychological or a mixture of both. Generally, you’ll want to start by addressing this problem with your family doctor to see if there is a medical cause. You may also find help with a referral to a psychiatrist, counselor or sexologist in order to work through the causes and find a solution that works well. If you’re going to talk to your doctor, it helps to go prepared with the information you need. Men can experience pain during erection or ejaculation or post-erection or post-ejaculation. Often, because we feel awkward about the topic, we don’t really think carefully and precisely about the timing of the pain, but do keep this in mind so you can assist your doctor in helping you. Also, sometimes the pain will come with other problems such as erectile dysfunction, though this may be a symptom of another problem rather than the primary cause of the pain. It’s good to note that there are some common lifestyle changes that can help with this issue of pain as well: exercising, eating well, limiting your alcohol consumption and quitting smoking can all help reduce sexual problems for men. Basic Sources of Pain We are going to speak about some more complex causes of pain. But I think it’s worth noting that just the friction of sex can irritate the skin on your penis if your spouse is not sufficiently lubricated. Using a quality lubricant is the solution for this problem. It’s also helpful to note that there’s a connection between sex drive and pain. Low sex drive does not necessarily cause pain, but pain during sex may cause low sex drive. Finally, we’re not going through an extensive list of sexually transmitted infections or diseases but it should be noted that STIs such as herpes or untreated gonorrhea can cause burning, itching, or sores, bumps, or blisters in the genital area (treatment is similar for men and women). Common Causes of Pain During Sex There are a number of other causes of pain during sex, some of which are not as well-known. Delayed Ejaculation Delayed ejaculation is characterized by taking more than 30 minutes to ejaculate during sex, or in some cases, not ejaculating at all. Depending on what’s happening, this can either be caused by pain or result in pain. It’s hard to distinguish cause and effect: there could be a minor physical issue that results in the delayed ejaculation. Or the delayed ejaculation may be the by-product of a medication and then the pain comes from irritation, for example, from friction due to the extended duration of intercourse. If you’re facing this issue, you should consider causes such as anxiety and stress, or medications such as antidepressants or hair loss treatments. There could also be a prostate or urinary tract infection, a hormone imbalance, possible birth defects, or pelvic or spinal nerve damage. You’ll definitely want to start with your doctor on this one. Your doctor can help you figure out the underlying issues and recommend treatment. In the meantime, use plenty of lubricant and it’s also helpful sometimes to just remind yourself to take the focus off achieving orgasm and, instead, really enjoy being with your spouse. Persistent Pelvic Floor Muscle Spasms Sometimes the muscles in the pelvic floor stop working properly. These are muscles that extend from your pubic bone at the front, back to the base of your spine. One problem that can occur is pelvic floor muscle spas...
20 minutes | a year ago
Impact of Your Porn Use on Your Wife
The purpose of today’s episode is simply to act as an eye-opener. In our online counseling agency, we help a lot of men break their pornography addiction. One common theme is that many of them are surprised by how devastated their wife is by their pornography use. It’s like they really don’t anticipate the impact: most think she’ll be mad, but the hurt often surprises them. So the goal with discussing this topic is to educate husbands so that they can be better prepared to understand and respond to their wife’s distress. Pornography Use is Common Let’s start on the more general end of things. Porn use continues to increase: a 2018 article in the Journal of Sex Research indicated that half of men are exposed to pornography prior to the age of 13, nearly all men use it occasionally for masturbation, and roughly 46% use pornography weekly. In contrast, only 16–31% of women report regularly using pornography. Pornography Use Affects Your View of Sex When people view pornography, they may not really realize it, but they are learning about sex. So the viewing impacts how they think and what they believe about the human sexual experience. Pornography is a very intense medium where you are generally seeing people with unrealistic and uncommon physical attributes, and videography or photoshopping of images to idealize and intensify the sexual experience. The consequence of this is that you will start to feel the romantic and sexual aspects of your marriage are just inadequate. This means that your marriage relationship is going to deteriorate. This is through no fault of the marriage itself or your wife. Pornography is Highly Addictive It seems like something you could figure out, but it isn’t. It’s like when you go into a major fast food chain and you see that juicy burger with a perfect, fluffy bun, and the lettuce and sauce all decked out in a pristine form — you know that the burger you get is going to look nothing like that. But you still buy the burger. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in marriage — probably because the brain circuitry and addictive components are far more powerful in human sexuality and relationships than they are with how you relate to fast food. The idea that a little porn use doesn’t hurt anybody is unrealistic. Another study that took a nationally representative sample (in the USA) of over 20,000 married people found that "those who reported seeing an X-rated movie in the last year were 12% less likely to have a happy marriage, 25% more likely to be previously divorced, and 10% more likely to have had an extramarital affair." Another interesting stat is that a survey of attorneys found that 56% of divorce cases involved heightened use of internet pornography by one partner. Research shows that pornography use definitely poses a threat to a happy, healthy marriage. Pornography Decreases Intimacy The act of secretly using pornography, hiding it, and feeling guilty about it, may make the other partner feel inadequate and that the user is emotionally withdrawn from his or her partner even if the partner is not aware of the addiction. This can also lead to sexual dysfunction and deteriorated emotional intimacy. Negative Effects of a Husband’s Pornography Use on Wives First of all, a lot of men are likely to expect that their wife will be angry when she discovers he has been using porn. Very angry. But many men have not really thought about how traumatic it will be for her. Upon discovering their husband’s porn use, women often experience symptoms of relational trauma, including fear and/or anxiety, outbursts of anger, intrusive thoughts of the trauma, feelings of self-blame or responsibility, feelings of panic or feeling out of control, sadness or depression, feelings of detachment, feelings of worthlessness or being broken, preoccupation with body image, difficulty falling or staying asleep, hyper-vigilance (being constantly on the alert for signs that y...
22 minutes | a year ago
When Family Visits Are Traumatic
What do you do when you’re going to see family for the holidays or on a vacation and you know that not everybody is in that healthy place where they’re going to be able to show you, your spouse and kids respect and care? So many of our listeners — if they want to spend time with family — know ahead of time that it’s not likely to go well. How can we prepare and protect ourselves when this is the case? For many people, family visits are a time to look forward to where you enjoy spending time with your family. But for many people, they would have at least some concern about one of their parents or family members making part of the time difficult or uncomfortable. And I know there are other folks where they feel an obligation to honor their parents by visiting them but also know that there are going to be some legitimate hardships during that visit. Signs of a Toxic Relationship Let’s start by just looking at the signs of a toxic relationship. If you are put down a lot or if you experience passive-aggressive behaviors or comments from a family member then that’s evidence of a toxic relationship. For example, they may bring something up out of the blue like “why did you not invite me to that movie you went to?” Or they may tell your wife something that they want you to hear, but not have the courage to confront you directly. Another sign of toxicity is if you find the person consistently attempting to cross boundaries that you have set. When this happens, you may withdraw or feel anxious or uncomfortable but perhaps not really recognizing why. If you notice this reaction in yourself, it may be because one of your boundaries has been crossed. We’ll talk more about setting boundaries later on, but the reality is that many people, despite having difficult family members, feel that they should continue to make visits or spend time with difficult, sarcastic, narcissistic, ill-mannered, or toxic family members. What’s the best way to handle that reality? Ways to Handle Difficult Family Visits 1. Prepare Beforehand If you know you're going to a family gathering and you have a difficult relationship with one or more family members, practice self-care before going on the visit. Sleep and good nutrition can help you feel good, and help you be in a positive frame of mind before meeting family members. It’s also a good idea to get on the same page with your spouse. If there are predictable patterns of behavior that you’ll be facing, what do you want to ignore or tolerate, and what are behaviors that one or both of you would consider severe enough to confront? What are your shared boundaries that you both agree to? What are your absolute no-zones? The question here is how can you face this as a team? And support and maintain connection with one another in the face of these challenges? 2. Do What You Can to Work With the Relationship It doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that some toxic relationships can become healthy. Sometimes people just go through a phase or even just slip into a way of relating to us that isn’t really a true reflection of their deeper values. If this is the case, accountability may be prudent. You might decide that you want to gently call them out if they are being passive-aggressive and let them know how this kind of behavior is hurtful to you. At the same time, you may wish to acknowledge their feelings, saying things like “I didn’t know you were upset about that.” It’s good to remember that, typically, remaining silent or else trash-talking the person to your spouse doesn’t really help them to grow. And it may be worth confronting some of these behaviors to see if the person is willing and able to respond. If you find that your spouse does not respond, then it may be time to set some healthy boundaries until the person is in a place where they can relate to you with some basic elements of respect and care. Just be sure to be thoughtful and not judgmental.
33 minutes | a year ago
Is Your Spouse Taking You For Granted?
Is your spouse taking you for granted? Well, you may be expecting us to pick on that nasty spouse of yours: but as we often point out, the only person you can change is yourself. Today we’re going to look at how a people pleasing personality or a codependent personality can lead you to feeling very much taken for granted, and what to do about it. There can be a number of reasons why you may be feeling that you are being taken for granted by your spouse. I think all of us go through at least brief phases in our marriage when we feel that way. Often this comes up around the issues of fair distribution of household labour or emotional labour. If you think that this may be a shorter-term imbalance, those two episodes/articles are definitely worth checking out. On the other hand, feeling taken for granted may be due to relationship or personality dynamics in yourself. That’s what we want to consider today as another possible explanation for how you arrived at a place where you’re feeling very taken for granted. First of all, we want to consider marital roles and then two personality dynamics: the people pleasing personality and codependency as two possible explanations. Codependency and people-pleasing are two tendencies that can make you more easily taken for granted by others, including your spouse. These tendencies are not the same thing. Someone is usually one or the other, though there are times when a person displays some of the attitudes of both codependency and people-pleasing. Roles in Marriage Sometimes couples have a more traditional view of marriage: the husband makes a lot of the decisions and the wife is supportive of the husband. This isn't a bad thing as long as it's agreeable to both spouses, but you want to be sure that the arrangement is considered to be fair by both spouses, and especially that the wife's needs and wants are not overlooked in the relationship. The dominant vision of marriage in the twentieth-century was created during the interwar years. Before this period, husbands and wives were seen to represent complementary but separate natures and existences. Today, couples with a less traditional view of marriage generally negotiate household arrangements in a more "fluid and individualized fashion" than their parents’ generation had.” While old norms were based on separate spheres and an elevated appreciation for female self-sacrifice, modern norms are based on comradeship and self-expression. For example, it's more common in modern marriages for the wife to contribute financially to the family than it was in previous generations. A woman’s role in marriage was more set with the old norms, whereas women who adopt more modern norms have more expectations to manage than men because of the way things have changed. They need to "mediate tensions between experimentation and stability--between the old norms based on separate spheres and female self-sacrifice and new norms of comradeship and self-expression” in order to find a healthy balance. In marriages with a more traditional view of the husband and wife role, it can be easy to set up the expectation that the wife will always be willing to sacrifice her own needs and wants for those of her husband, and will always be supportive of what he does at the expense of her own needs and wants. Having a traditional model certainly doesn’t always lead to the wife feeling taken for granted. But this model does set the stage for that possibility. In any marriage, regardless of whether or not the wife is working or not, it's important for there to be space for her own individual self-expression, as well as room to connect to one another as peers. This requires creating space for one another's thoughts and feelings. For husbands, it means not dominating or controlling your wife and allowing her space to have her own voice. The People Pleasing Personality A brief definition of a people pleasing personality is...
23 minutes | a year ago
Why You May Be Experiencing Pain During Sex (for Wives)
If you experience pain during sex, you are certainly not alone. Pain during sex is called dyspareunia, and research shows that about 7% of women experience pain it. Of those 7%, about one-quarter of them reported that the pain had been occurring frequently or every time they had intercourse over at least 6 months. Today, we’d like to look at some of the most common causes so that if you’re experiencing dyspareunia you maybe have a starting point to know how to explore and hopefully resolve this challenge. Pain during sexual intercourse is a relatively common issue. Of course, the lifetime prevalence is going to be higher, and I would expect that every person is likely to have at least some discomfort if not some pain during the course of their sexual interactions with their spouse over the lifetime of their marriage. This can be tough to talk about for some people, so we hope that today’s show serves as a bit of an icebreaker and introduction to the subject. We’re not sexologists, sex therapists or medical professionals. I am a marriage counselor so we do address sexual issues, but just be reminded that if you are experiencing pain your wisest course of action is first of all to talk to your doctor or gynaecologist, and possibly to book an appointment with a sex therapist. There are more reasons for pain during sex than what we will cover, for example, we are not going to address urinary tract infections or sexually transmitted infections. But anxiety and menopause are two major causes so we’ll start with them. Sexual Anxiety Sexual anxiety (or sexual performance anxiety) is something that affects men and women of all ages, regardless of how much experience they have had with sexual intercourse. There are a variety of possibilities here. A newly married wife may be too self-conscious to tell her husband what she does not enjoy: this could lead to some trepidation or anxiety about having sex which could result in pain during sex. In some cases, the anxiety may be short-lived and go away on its own. In other cases, it may be something that occurs on a regular basis and interferes with a healthy sex life. According to sex educator Amy Jo Goddard (n.d.), two things are generally the root cause of sexual performance anxiety. She states, "this response is conditioned by the way in which we were brought up to think about certain aspects of sex and our own bodies, and by social expectations that impact our relationship with our own sexuality." This means that messages from your family of origin, your church, or from locker-room discussions or friends at school — all those sources could potentially contribute to anxiety during sex. Other times it may simply be a lack of sex education: perhaps not that you don’t understand how sex works, but that you’re just not prepared for all the realities of sexual encounters with your husband. Everyone functions differently and has different needs when it comes to sex, and not being well educated can lead you to feel unsure about the techniques of giving, achieving or receiving pleasure. Additionally, you may experience fear because of myths concerning pregnancy, or myths about how your body is supposed to react during sex, and these beliefs can be very anxiety-inducing. Of course, anxiety impacts arousal, which impacts your body’s ability to prepare itself for penetration and intercourse. It’s also important to note that the anxiety doesn’t have to be sexual performance anxiety. It could be anxiety about anything: how you’re going to pay the bills, your child’s health, the family get-together that’s coming up, whatever. General anxiety can also impact your sexual experience, potentially resulting in discomfort or pain. What to do About Anxiety Obviously, with such a wide variety of potential sources for anxiety it is challenging to cover all the possible solutions. If your anxiety is more generalized then taking care of that anxiety may just as...
27 minutes | a year ago
Betrayed By Your Wife? 5 Things You Need to Do
Back in episode 209, we did a show on the five things you need to know if you’ve been betrayed by your husband. Today we want to look at the experience of a husband who has been betrayed. Men and women both experience betrayal, but have different ways of responding to it. Betrayal trauma is the result of a shocking disclosure of a relational breach, whether that’s unfaithfulness or some other form of broken trust or loss of confidence in your marriage. These breaches can come from things like spousal neglect, cheating or various forms of infidelity, dishonesty, deception, betrayal, rejection, or other circumstances that cause you to stop trusting your spouse. Men Process Betrayal Trauma Differently Than Women Unfortunately, there is much less research on men dealing with betrayal trauma than on women. Men definitely experience pain and have to go through a process of healing after they are betrayed, but they tend to process it differently than women. According to Douglas Weiss (2019), a psychologist who sees both women and men dealing with betrayal trauma, men tend to compartmentalize more than women and they tend to block out painful experiences such as betrayal. Research shows that men tend to go in one of two directions when dealing with infidelity: either they divorce their spouse or they give them one more chance. Women are actually more likely to experience symptoms of trauma and PTSD after betrayal, whereas men don’t end up with the same PTSD symptoms. Keep in mind that this is a general statement. There are men who do experience trauma and PTSD symptoms after betrayal. They also should look for professional help, grieve what has happened, and deal with the hurt, anger and betrayal that they’ve endured. Betrayal can Have Lasting Effects Just because you have not developed symptoms of PTSD, this does not necessarily mean you are free and clear of any lasting effects. Even without adverse ongoing symptoms, you still have to take time to process the hurt, anger and betrayal. You have to grieve the loss of an unadulterated marriage and other effects of what has happened. There are some feelings that betrayed men experience that are common to both genders. For example, shame. It could be shame of believing that others will see them as sexually incompetent, thus prompting their spouse to go outside the marriage. It could also be believing that they are relationally or emotionally inadequate, again prompting the spouse to seek to meet their needs outside the marriage. However, where other women will typically rally around one of their own when betrayed, a man in the same situation may find himself with friends who don’t know how to support him in this very vulnerable and emotionally raw stage after he discloses the affair to them. Finally, it’s always helpful to remember that everyone processes betrayal differently. And every kind of betrayal is different. For example, a financial betrayal (e.g., a hidden gambling loss) will prompt a very different reaction than the discovery of an affair. One thing both genders need to do is to consider, process and express the emotions generated by the betrayal. If you have friends, a mentor, or someone in your support network who can be there with you as you do this work, that is a huge help. It’s also a good idea to reach out to your therapist for counseling. If you haven’t worked with a therapist before we have a number of our team members at OnlyYouForever who work with betrayal situations in marriage too. 5 Ways To Heal From Betrayal We’d like to give you the five things you can do to help you recover from a betrayal. 1. Give Yourself Time It’s important to understand that there is no quick fix to a situation like this. Recovery from betrayal is a painful process. It takes time to heal. It is totally normal during this time to feel anger and distress. It’s normal to be fine one moment and ambushed by emotions the next.
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