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Some of us will say “Absolutely!” Some of us will say “Not for me!” And others may be too confused to decide. The reality is that sex plays a significant role in love relationships. While it promises so much joy and satisfaction, it can also be the deciding factor that destroys very loving relationships.

When we first choose to be in a romance or “fall into” a loving relationship, most of us are so infatuated with our partners. The sex drive is amazing… even through the roof (thanks dopamine). We can barely take our hands off each other. It’s exciting, engaging, enchanting and we just seem to connect on a level that we assume will last forever. So often we dive into a romance head first (Or is it “heart first”?) and the commitment to be together opens up new expectations and responsibilities, many unforeseen and under-discussed… “love is blind”.

Well not really yet it can certainly feel that way.  Diving in head first quickly becoming more committed than our understanding of one another can handle. As the expectations and assumptions increase, the pressure can overwhelm healthy relationship development. When certain steps are missed in almost any project, task or adventure something will usually falter.

Cracks in the relationship appear and couples can be found scrambling to save or salvage what wasn’t really well established in the first place. Many separated couples state that the connection “just isn’t there anymore”. The passion and excitement that was there when they first met is said to have “faded” until they felt like they were just friends, or worse, “roommates”.

Couples often agree that life and children and work get into the way of romance, however, isn’t this denying ownership and personal choice?  After all, who’s making the decisions? It’s about finding the strategy and skill set to balance our lives in such a way that are able to meet all our needs, not perfectly but sufficiently and satisfactorily for both partners.

Separated couples also share, retrospectively, that they become frustrated, disgruntled and then turn away from their spouse.  Gradually withdrawing to other distractions, many find other potential partners and their sexuality becomes sparked elsewhere. Relationship abandonment is frequently preceded by minimal effort, money and energy being invested into reading and seeking help to “tune-up” their run down relationship; finding ways to become new and adventurous in the apparently no longer “forever” relationship.

When couples seek counselling, many find it is often too late which is statistically supported. One or both have already “checked out” of the relationship and are thinking of lives without one another. What contributes to the decisions to give up on what was once a committed relationship, find another partner and go through the same thing all over again? Many factors can be draining on romance so it is important to have a thorough assessment.

Once we find ourselves moving toward a committed relationship, it is imperative to decide to invest time, energy and significant effort toward the ongoing improvement of intimacy skills; communication, sexuality, problem-solving, conflict resolution, assertiveness, moral and spiritual foundations and healthy family values and beliefs.

Don’t be a statistic. When you and your partner want to enhance ALL aspects of your relationship, contact us for a confidential and professional assessment / consultation.

 

They know the latest Apple application to download. Their profiles on Instagram and Facebook are always up to date. They score really high on games like COD (Call of Duty), Mindcraft and FIFA. Schools even have online computer applications for students who have “misplaced their agendas.” So why is my pre-teen and teenager still waiting the last minute to complete projects? Why do I have to repeatedly ask them to complete chores when I get home from work? When are they just going to “get it!”

Some may even believe that technology impedes the development of children. Studies show adults and children are spending an average of seven to nine hours per day screen time (includes phone, gaming devices, TV and computers). For us “old school” parents, who were not privileged with smart phones, laptops and social media, we may find it challenging to discipline effectively.

Many parents rely too heavily on taking their technology stuff away as a consequence. Taking things away and removal of privileges, especially after about age 10, is actually a fairly ineffective and frustrating method of discipline. Disciplining effectively is less about the “toys” available to our children, taking stuff away or grounding and more about teaching and time.

For those of us who knew how to obey, to respect and to do our chores (without being asked too much) regularly, we quite likely had positive guidance, good role models and a valued relationship with those caring for us. That’s how we learned responsibility. There are parenting manuals out there for parents… “I’m too busy”… “I shouldn’t have to read”… “They should just listen”… “Parenting comes naturally”………… ALL Stinkin Thinkin!

We want our kids to read and learn then… it is equally important to find ways to learn creative, effective, efficient and loving disciplinary strategies. Many families are opting to remove tech from the dinner table, preferring to enjoy meal time with talking and sharing the important events in their day.

Parent-focused counseling can help parents vent their concerning experiences, identify strengths both they and their child(ren) have as well as increase positive parenting strategies. One such example is to learn the skills of negotiating, developing, adjusting and maintaining healthy expectations or boundaries for all family members.  To learn more, call us today!

One Common Symptom of Poor Communication

Effective communication during disputes and disagreements is an essential component of high-quality and enduring relationships. Couples, even managers, employees and others, who are seeking to have amazing relationships are well advised to learn, develop and practice positive communication and interpersonal skills (especially conflict-resolution skills) in order to avoid destructive breakdowns like the one described by this young wife and mother below:

My husband and I have been dealing with disagreements, lies and affairs for the past 6 years. We got together when I was fifteen. Everything was awesome (obviously) but as we started to get closer, I started noticing things about him I did not like. So, of course, I tried to change him. He was very abusive, not physically but mentally and emotionally.

I looked for someone else’s comfort. As a teenager, I feel I didn’t know what I wanted in life so I cheated with an acquaintance.  When my husband found out, I told him the truth and told him I could no longer be with him.   I left him and started dating the man I cheated on my husband with. As time went on, the man I started seeing ended up in prison for a year. When he went to prison, I started to miss my husband, and we ended up back together six months later.

Well, after the man had served his sentence, he got out and I notice my husband still has not changed so I started dating this man…again. Four months went by and this same man ended up back in prison, for even longer. I got back with my husband, and ended up pregnant. I felt now, I have no choice and I need to make things work with me and him. I felt I tried my best to make things work, but they still weren’t working. This man got out of jail and I started seeing him again, while I was pregnant.
This time, our relationship was not sexual. I no longer had feelings for this man as I wanted my family to stay together. So, I would see him after school 3-4 times a week for about two hours and we would spend time at the libraries or just sitting and talking…nothing sexual (not even holding hands). I made it clear to him that I just wanted a friendship and felt he wanted the same. A few months later, he finally broke down and told me he was madly in love with me and would take care of me and my baby. I declined. I knew the relationship would never work.  I was in love with the thought of having someone there for me, as I didn’t feel this way with anyone before, he would make me feel safe and always had interest in what I had to say.

I cut off our relationship when my husband found out I was “sneaking” around to see the man while he was at work. So I stopped, and went to get professional help for this situation. Years go by, and last month is when I was at my worst. I stopped eating, no sleep, couldn’t even enjoy my dad’s vacation up here, and the way I react with my children changed. They could see and feel I was stressed out.

WE CANNOT STOP ARGUING!

We’d argue about things that didn’t even matter. I got so fed up one day that I made the biggest mistake that I’m still living with right now. I contacted the man again. I sent him a message through Facebook asking if he’d received the card I mailed him for his birthday. My husband had a suspicion I would go try to contact him again due to my history, so he checked the computer and saw the message. He was extremely upset. I did delete the message before the man would receive it. All I could think of was “What the h*ll have I done to my family”. I did this all out of anger, because my “Stinkin Thinkin” was thoughts like “Who cares about his feelings”, “Look at how he treats me”, “My kids won’t know they are too young to understand”, “He won’t leave… just do it anyway” and much, much more.

We talked about it. He was determined to leave but I broke down and I tried to explain that I was not happy and things need to change in our relationship. The talk we had that day was the most emotional and loving conversation that we’ve ever had. We discussed things he didn’t like that I do, and I explained things that he did I didn’t like. At the end of the conversation, we were both crying and I could feel that he loved me, for the first time. Now, we still are not perfect but I’ve noticed I have less “Stinkin Thinkin” and try to remain positive for my children, my husband and myself. I will remain positive now and not let “Stinkin Thinkin” choose my actions.

Help to develop and improve relationships is available at Jeff Packer MSW & Associates Inc., a counselling agency in Durham Region. To receive supportive assistance, coaching and effective communication skills training, contact us today!

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In a time where technology is the driving force of communication, we can be bombarded with too much information, much of which is quite negative.  Currently, Toronto is a media target, both nationally and internationally, due to Mayor Rob Ford’s numerous indiscretions. Negative media attention can easily fuel undue upset, anger, discouragement, and embarrassment.

Negativity is every where. People Finger-pointing and complaining inhibits growth opportunities, reduces possibilities and effectively stifles productive conversations and creative solutions.can feel blanketed by it like being shrouded by a thick fog when driving. This contributes to nervousness, confusion, frustration and anxiety. So how do we release such negative energy? Because “bad things” are happening all the time, and when we feel like we cannot take it anymore, what do we do about it? How can we move forward?

What follows are views, ideas and precepts that can help turn a negative experiences into a positive ones?

Gandhi once said, “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall,” (from Joe Vitale’s Life’s Missing Instruction Manual).

An ancient biblical reference in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7  refers to love as follows: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

During what sometimes feels like our darkest times, when we feel betrayed, hurt and defeated, what will bring us into the light is love. Love involves taking a higher road, putting aside our destructive attitudes, feelings and behaviours (e.g. like blaming and complaining), in favour of more positive and caring approaches.

Though this can feel like a major uphill climb, a loving view of others can lead to growth opportunities, increase possibilities and foster effective, productive conversations that generate creative solutions.

Love is a verb! It can be seen in a vast array of behaviours or actions. One such expression of love is forgiveness. Research supports this premise, suggesting that forgiving past wrongs can be helpful in the aid of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and chronic pain—it can alter the state of our health (University of Wisconsin, Department of Family Medicine).

Some may think of forgiveness as a process to make the other person feel better; however those who forgive may reap as much of not more benefit than those forgiven. In the material on The Nature of Forgiveness” (University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine) we learn the following:

  • Forgiveness is a transformation. The key is to release suffering and increase inner peace and understanding.

  • Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. In fact, you have to remember and acknowledge negative emotions and events before forgiveness can occur.

  • Forgiveness is NOT pardoning, excusing, or saying that something will be treated as acceptable behaviour in the future.
  • Forgiveness is, first and foremost, done for the person doing the forgiving.
  • Forgiveness is a path to freedom. It frees you from the control of the person who caused the harm. They lose their power to cause you to feel negative emotions.
  • Forgiveness can break old patterns that might otherwise interfere when you try to create new relationships.
  • Forgiveness can take a lot of time and hard work.
  • Forgiveness need not require ‘making up’ with the person who caused the harm. It is an internal process. It is primarily for you. The goal is to help you heal, to help you grow.

Thinking about forgiveness may not be enough. For many, tapping into principles described in various spiritual traditions from around the world is necessary. Prayer, meditation, intrapersonal and interpersonal dialogues, mindfulness, and developing emotional intelligence may be essential parts of the forgiveness process for many people.

It is essential to our physical, spiritual and mental health to seek ways to surround ourselves with positive examples of life, qualities and relationships.  Learning ways to increase our ability to love and forgive helps us let go and move toward a happier and more satisfying life.

 Get Help and Protect Your Children From Conflict

Once the decision to end a marriage is made, a whirlwind of emotions and a multitude of decisions spring up for all family members. Never having a marriage breakup before, couples will quite often wrestle with what to do, how and when to tell the children, the family, friends and employers.

They also may say “we are going to get along and work out the details” amicably. While this seems rational and reasonable at first, tensions around the unknown, legal matters and practical decisions that need to be made begin to press in on parents from all sides. Children feel and are impacted by this stress.

Managing the complexities of marital separation without experienced, professional coaching can be quite risky, especially when children’s emotional health is at risk.  As arguments build and hurts compound, a pattern of adversarial and conflictual interaction develops. All too often, sides begin to be drawn up, extended family join in the fight and getting along begins to seem “unrealistic”.

Peace is possible as is cooperative and  parenting after separation and divorce.

Our Oshawa counsellors at Jeff Packer MSW & Associates are trained to assist parents by developing co-parenting plans that address communication strategies, access coordination and schedules and coach practical ways to discuss issues with children, family and friends. Rather than risk your child’s health and well being, consider hiring a coach to help you with adjusting, developing effective negotiation and problem-solving skills and by reducing the time and money spent fighting unnecessarily.

Contact us today

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Entry #2) Remarried couples, especially when the previous relationships involved high conflict dynamics, are likely to take on the same characteristic conflict style, over time, they had in previous relationships. This is not a personal failure or flaw but rather a habit learned over time that also can be unlearned. In today’s second post of three we hear from a dad’s perspective on this dynamic…

“Most times when there is a problem brewing in the household my wife comes at me with arguments as if we’re having a fight.  I think she stews over issues in her head to the point when she talks to me its already a full blown fight.  I listen and understand what she is saying and she has validity to what she says.  I feel that when she comes at me I don’t know what to say because now I’m engaged in a fight that I had no idea was coming.  By not saying anything I look like I’m avoiding the issue. By blurting out “yes dear” I feel like I’m just giving in and not contributing any input or constructive resolution.  I don’t know what to do and this happens all to often.  Its like she prefers conflict over communication… rage-aholic”
                                                                                              Husband/ Dad
How to argue well is an art that we develop over time.  There are many books and resources to help. Negotiating changes and challenges in our families requires as much skill as we use in our careers, if not more, due to the higher emotional intensity present in our intimate relationships. It is work to develop these skills and they do not “just come naturally”.

Check out tomorrow’s post from Wife/Stepmom for the conclusion to this series.