Apr 162014

Why is someone unfaithful? When people speak of infidelity, we usually look at the affects and aftermath of the deed. We assume that all infidelity is created equally. Men are pigs. Women are whores. Men have needs. Women are frigid. Men are overworked. Women need sex, too! All of these have been bandied about like one-size fits all explanations. However, all of these things are just societal labels that aren’t actual etiologies but just pigeon-holes. Now, to be clear, what we will be outlining here are not excuses for behaviors but starting points from which to start the healing.

cheating wesnedsay 300x200 Why Men And Women Cheat

Attachment Theory: This theory proposes that people create an understanding regarding relationships and attachments from their family of origin. If, when we are babies, we fail to attach to our care-givers because they are not present or ill or they do not feel comfortable with attachment, then we develop these cognitive and behavioral patterns where we fail to attach or attach in an unhealthy manner when we get older. People who develop insecure attachment styles, either anxious about attachment (clingy) or they avoid attachment (loner), they tend to have a hard time being faithful. Commitment is not a concept that makes sense to an individual who has very little permanence in their lives. Maybe Daddy or Mommy left them? Maybe they were cold and indifferent? Whatever the origin of their issues, this is something that can be addressed in therapy. Also, it has been found that individuals with attachment issues have a higher propensity for infidelity.

Depression: Sometimes people want to feel better about themselves. However, when an individual is depressed, they tend to make poor decisions with little thought as to the consequences. Infidelity is like a quick fix. It is like a drug. For a brief amount of time, the person feels good. They feel wanted and sexy. Of course, like all drugs, after the high is gone, the depression worsens. This creates that sick cycle of looking for the high again. Like we mentioned on Monday, that first high becomes this unreachable goal. The more they try to recreate it, the worse they feel about themselves which makes them want to feel that high even more.

Research has shown that infidelity is trivialized by those who commit it. This behavior is considered bad by society. People who commit adultery are not sociopaths and tend to feel guilty and are saddened by their behavior. It affects their self-concept. So, that cavalier attitude towards this behavior is really cognitive dissonance in full force.

What to do? Get help. Sex feels good now but the effects of infidelity are long lasting and more painful than being lonely or depressed.

Apr 152014

We can’t lie- we love Facebook. We have made friends, reconnected with old friends and kept in touch with loved ones from all over. Facebook has allowed people to heal old wounds, create a lot of new ones and create a community of support that rivals Hands Across America. Where else can you get 100 prayers in less than a minute? At the same time, we have all experienced trolls and flamers who have tried to make our lives miserable. And yet, many other people have taken these virtual relationships to another level.

sm tuesday 300x225 Cheating, Facebook And The Virtual Relationship

More than 20% of divorces are being blamed on Facebook. Of course, Facebook is not at fault here but it has become an avenue to find that long lost boyfriend from high school that you didn’t quite get over. Instant messages are allowing men and women to communicate all day and night without much chance of getting caught. A simple password or secret Facebook account is all you need to make sure that your significant other is unaware that you are conducting an emotional affair with someone your partner probably has never met.

On-line relationships seem to be the norm and the science behind this is compelling. Daniel Goleman, the same man who gave us Emotional Intelligence, coined the term “Cyber-disinhibition” which is the loss of our natural neural checks and balances when we communicate with others. Normal, face-to-face communication involved much more than words. We are constantly monitoring our tone, editing our words and also watching for cues from the person with which we are communicating. If we say something that has the person with which we are communicating wince or smile, we note this and accommodate this information into our continued communication. A smile allows us to continue. A frown tells us they do not like what we are saying so we stop or even apologize. On-line communication does not have these checks and balances, so we tend to disclose faster, we tend to react faster and meaner, we tend to become vulnerable quicker and thus we develop feelings quicker than in real life.

Of course, the up-side to this is that we can develop very real friendships and relationships that are based on honest communication. What do you have to lose in a virtual relationship? The down-side to adulterous relationships created on Facebook is that they are based on fantasy. In many cases, the person who reaches out to someone and creates an emotionally unfaithful relationship is looking for an outlet; a refuge from their current relationship. Instead of working on their marriage, they spend their time and invest their emotions on a fantasy. It is an outlet for their fears concerning their own relationship. With this fantasy, they can feel loved and cared for without needing to deal with the issues in the real world. This fantasy also allows the person to delude themselves into thinking that this new relationship is so much better than the old one.

We would never meddle in someone’s love life and if you have found ‘the one’, God bless you! However, before you emotionally leave your IRL (in real life) relationship for your Virtual Lover, make sure that you actually leave your IRL relationship. Starting one without leaving the other puts too much pressure on your new one. Fantasies are wonderful. However, they do not always stand the pressure of reality. Invest your energy with the one who is standing in front of you. If it is irreparable then end it in a healthy manner. Then go ahead, reconnect with your high school sweetheart. Who knows what could happen?

Mar 272014

This week we are jumping back into the dysfunctional relationship pool and discussing the common ‘relationship crimes’ people commit to destroy and undermine their relationships. Today’s Relationship Felony is very common and usually has its roots in your family of origin. Lots of kids are being raised by parents who do this and regard this behavior as normal. Statistically, they would be right. Lots of people go around life like victims and this way of thinking is seen in everything from the music we hear to the movies we watch. Heck, even politicians ‘apologize’ by crying about being victimized.

Chalk Outline 300x200 The Victimization Felony

The Relationship Penal Code considers victimhood a Class 1 Felony with special circumstances. The special circumstances come from the fact that both of you are probably behaving in this manner and also committing one or both of the other felonies we have discussed this week. Victimhood is the result of deciding that the world is against you. It is a deeply held belief that you are not responsible for your circumstances. It is a belief that you feed by seeing situations as unfair. Yes, there are situations in life that happen where we have little to no control over them. However, as in everything, how you choose to deal with these situations is where you make the choice to feel put upon by the universe or choose to make the best of a shitty situation.

I have worked with all sorts of individuals that have experienced abuses as children and adults. Childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, neglect and physical and mental abuses are horrible experiences and yet you still choose how to deal with these circumstances. When we bring this mentality into a relationship, we allow the slights to become scars. The feeling of helplessness and powerlessness allows us to endure being ignored or even, on the contrary, allows us to be abusive as well.

If the Relationship Penal Code teaches you anything, you should learn that the underlying cause for all of these crimes is being irresponsible and not keeping your partner and the relationship as a priority. When you forget about being responsible and blame your spouse for every irritation, annoyance, inequity, unpleasantness, delay, dropped soufflé and wedgie the relationship is doomed to interact in the Victim Triangle (and we all know how that goes).

Relationships are easy. We make them difficult when we forget that we love our partners.

Mar 262014

This week we are jumping back into the dysfunctional relationship pool and discussing the common ‘relationship crimes’ people commit to destroy and undermine their relationships. Most people would think that the worst relationship crime would be infidelity. However, the truth is that infidelity is actually part of a larger set of behaviors that hurt relationships. Yes, infidelity is painful and horrible but the problems that lead to infidelity are the real crimes that, if addressed early enough, can actually be mitigated to the point of strengthening the couple.

penal 300x300 Loss of Respect   A Relationship Felony

The behaviors that can result in infidelity and other relationship felonies usually start with the petty crimes of an instance of disregarding the feelings of your partner and competition. These crimes over time become worse and cause long-term damage to the individuals of the relationship. When we decide that a marriage is adversarial and the goal is to win at any cost, we commit the relationship felonies of Competing and Loss of Respect.

This is a common storyline in TV sitcoms, shows and movies. One-upsmanship in a relationship is so common that we find it funny. We love the one-liners, snide remarks and sarcasm is the basis of communication. Couples who communicate in this manner set up low bar of respect in their relationship. Even when one of you decides to not be defensive or offensive and shares real emotions, the other will quickly bring them back to the unhealthy communication pattern. Vulnerability is dangerous and met with swift, offensive comments to remind the individual that perceived weakness is fair game.

“All’s fair in love and war” is probably the ugliest saying of all time. There are rules to war just like relationship. Any talk of torture or killing of innocents brings up even the hackles of war-mongers. In relationships, insults do not get the same reaction as physical abuse. However, ‘all’s fair’ doesn’t seem to cover that, does it?

When we disrespect our partners we also belittle our relationship. When we belittle the relationship, the tethers of the commitment weaken to the point that infidelity is not a crime but a means to have needs met. If I do not respect you and I believe that I must look out for my own needs then having sex with someone else is not a crime against our relationship but simply a physical transaction that I deserve. Entitlement is not borne of arrogance but of justifications.

When we watch crime shows we usually see the detectives review the criminal records of the suspect. Very few people on these shows start with murder. They work up to capital crimes. When we look at the psychological history of a sociopath we look at whether they hurt animals or people in their childhood. All of these histories help us see the behaviors that lead to the crimes of the present. In relationships, it is no different. Being blindsided by a divorce or infidelity is neglecting the previous transgressions. There is never a time that an insult or lack of respect should be allowed without a discussion and reestablishment of boundaries. A one-liner today is just the gateway behavior to cruelty in the future.

Feb 052014

Last week we talked about what marriage is and isn’t. One of the topics that come up every time we talk about relationships is boundaries. On a weekly basis, we get emails and comments that mention family and friends who are, in a word, interfering with relationships. Every week, we write people back telling them to ‘stop it’. And yet, we still get them. Is anyone listening?! We will discuss this topic again but this time, we will also provide you with what to say to people in the future.

flect magic mirror 300x300 3 Ways To Stop You From Meddling In Your Own Marriage

Today, we will deal with you. Do you have healthy boundaries and are you meddling in your own marriage to the point that you are hurting it?

1. How to deal with yourself if you call your spouse names (no, not pooky or honey.)

Using bad language or calling your partner names is one of the worst boundary violations that can occur in a marriage. Consider the name calling a gate-way drug like alcohol or pot. When you allow you or your spouse to use words like ‘bitch’ and ‘asshole’ during an argument, you weaken the boundaries. Couples continually test boundaries like a child testing their parents. If one word gets in during an argument, the next time they will say them again and perhaps add a few more. Let us be clear, there is NEVER a time to call your spouse a derogatory name. NEVER.

2. How to deal with yourself if you do not filter hurtful things from your spouse

We aren’t perfect. Sometimes we have bad days. As stress increases, our fuses decrease. When our hormones or stressors get to be too much, we may find that the words that want to leap out of our mouths to our spouses are not very nice. This is where we will remind you that ‘A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the heart’. Words hurt especially from the person you love. Our advice? Take a time out. Walk away. Get your head on straight. We actually warn each other. We use words like, ‘Honey, I am having a shitty day.’ When we hear this, we know to give a wide berth. Now, just to be clear, this is not an excuse or a free pass to be an asshole for weeks on end. You are in a shitty mood so get yourself out of it.

3. How to deal with yourself if you have nothing nice to say anymore

If you do not like your partner, leave. If you only want to be mean to your spouse, leave. If you do not find them attractive or their face makes you want to go and buy a piñata put their picture on it and fill it with their favorite things and beat it with a bat, leave. When we choose to do something positive, everyone benefits in the end. It may seem scary or you might think it is something bad and your spouse will wither away and die if you leave them but that is not true. When we are in a toxic situation, we cannot see that leaving it is the best thing to do. We actually create these scenarios justifying your misery and making your spouse miserable. STOP IT. Get out.

So, to recap:

1. NEVER call your spouse names.

2. Take a time out.

3. Get out if you can’t be nice.

Marriages are like clothes. Sometimes you find something that fits perfectly, is timeless and makes you look great. Sometimes people find clothes that they have to jam their ass into and it’s uncomfortable and makes you look like you are smuggling reptiles into the country. It’s OK to give those clothes away and go shopping for new clothes or just have that space in the closet for a while.