4 Steps to Surviving Infidelity – What You Need to Know

affair healing hi
Crushed. Devastated. Hopeless. These are some of the emotions you may be experiencing if you have recently discovered that your partner has been having an affair.  Your world has been turned upside down. You feel like you don’t know your partner anymore. And you are desperately, desperately sad. You wonder if surviving infidelity is even possible. It is. But how? There are four broad stages you’ll need to go through. They aren’t easy. But they’re also not impossible.  Here’s what the road ahead looks like. 1. Feeling the Pain – The First Step to Affair Recovery Let’s be honest – this i...
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The Escape Room: A Message for Couples and Families

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Recently I had the great pleasure of going to an escape room for a bit of family fun. If you’re not familiar, escape rooms are a newish form of entertainment where you enter a room designed with all kinds of clues hidden around it and you are supposed to figure them all out in order to achieve a certain objective, like catching a thief, finding a stolen object, and/or escaping the actual room which you have been pretend-locked into, within a given amount of time (usually an hour). These rooms are designed to be solved in a team.  It’s a group activity, not a solo hobby or a date night idea....
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The Single Most Important Trait You Need to Develop to Save, Repair, and Maintain a Relationship

humble hi
Can it really be so simple? Is there really a Single Most Important key to relationships?  Yes and no.  Obviously there is no magic spell for fixing relationship problems or keep relationships vibrant and connected over the long term. There is certainly a lot of work involved.  But I believe that there is one trait, one mindset you need to have to pull it off, and I contend that all the other requirements start here. That trait is humility. People who are humble can admit that they are wrong.  They do not see mistakes or imperfections as assaults on their goodness as a person and thu...
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Good Job is Not Enough

encouraging children hi
It is generally accepted in today’s generation of parents that praise and encouragement are the tools of choice in childrearing rather than some past methods such as yelling, shaming, and, of course, whupping. Praise and encouragement have taken the place of criticism and disparagement.  The catchphrase of the new mentality might be pithily captured in the ubiquitous declaration, “good job!” While I think “good job” is far better as an encouraging statement than nothing at all (or even a diminishment of personal accomplishment), effectiveness in “positive parenting” demands a little more thoug...
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Your First Therapy Session

first therapy session hi
Most people have never been to therapy before and are understandably a bit nervous about what it’s going to be like.  If you’ve gotten up the courage to make that first appointment, you may now be wondering how you’ll even know if it’s going to work?  How long do you have to go for to see if you’re getting something out of it? Of course, every situation and every individual is different. It’s true that you probably shouldn’t expect major changes in your life within one or two sessions. Nevertheless, there are some important indicators you can look for in your first session that can help...
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How to Get Over a Breakup

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The end of a relationship is never easy, especially if you’ve been together for years.  This is true even if you know the relationship was going sour, or was unhealthy to begin with. The truth is that we are human, and our emotions aren’t always rational or logical. They just are.  How can you effectively deal with the emotional pain that can follow in the wake of a breakup?  1. Know that this too shall pass. No feeling lasts forever. It is in the nature of emotions to come and go – even the most intense of them.  No matter how bad you feel, remember that you will survive this difficult t...
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What Do You Do in Couples Counseling?

marriage therapist hi
If you’ve never been to relationship counseling before, the whole thing might seem mysterious, confusing, and downright frightening. The truth is it’s really not as bad as you think it is. The representations of therapy you’ve seen on TV are almost certainly inaccurate - maybe you’ve seen people bopping each other with foam bats, engaging in massive screaming matches in front of the therapist, or being asked about their deepest personal secrets. That’s not therapy; that’s Hollywood.  To help you get a feel for what to expect, here are some of the things you will do in couples counseling: 1. L...
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Making Your Marriage a Priority

empty nesters hi
Recently I was interviewed on the radio to discuss the question of how to prioritize your relationship with your spouse vs. your kids. You can listen to the 20-minute segment here. Here’s the spoiler: I come down firmly on the side of keeping your spouse #1 on your list. This of course doesn’t mean that you ignore your children’s needs or that you spend 100% of your time and energy on your spouse. It just means that your relationship with your spouse comes first. Many people think that “the children come first” and end up putting too little, or nothing at all, into the marital relationship....
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We’ve Moved! And It’s Not Easy

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Change is hard. This is a truth I live by professionally, but it is also a reality in my personal life.  This week we are moving to a new office, and I must admit that it stresses the heck out of me. I’ve already been through the crucible of finding the right place. I spent altogether too long shopping for furniture.  Getting up new signs was its own ordeal (I paid a deposit and then the person I was working with had to leave town to tend to a sick relative, telling me he had no idea when he’d be back).  But now it’s happening. I had my first few sessions in the new office. And it...
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Tyson V.

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Raffi made me enjoy going to therapy. I have learned to talk through issues that seemed impossible and I feel so much better about the communication in my relationship now.
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Summer H.

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My boyfriend and I see Raffi and it was the best decision we ever made. It is hard to gather the right words to describe him and how much he has helped us and our relationship.
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How to Save Your Marriage

thinking about relationships hi
Are you trying to save a marriage that’s on the rocks?  Hoping to turn things around from anger and resentment to happiness and love?  It can be done.  Most marriages can be repaired if both parties really want it – but that doesn’t mean it will be easy.  You will likely have to have some difficult conversations, take a hard look at where you’ve messed up, and make real changes to the way you do things in the future.  If you want to know how to save your marriage and are up for the challenge, read on. 1. Find a marriage counselor. This may seem like a cop-out answer, but it truthfully is the...
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Is Texting Good or Bad for Your Relationship?

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Texting is a very wonderful thing.  It allows us to send quick ideas and comments to our friends and families without having to catch each other at the right time.  It’s great for adding to the shopping list at the last minute or reminding each other of an appointment.  It can add all kinds of useful benefits to our relationships.  And, of course, as with any tool, texting can be seriously misused and can be a real detractor from relationships as well.  Let’s look at some of the ups and downs of texting as they relate to your relationships.  Certainly this applies to marriages and other romant...
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Is It Okay for Married People to Watch Porn?

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No. Okay, that was a little harsh.  But hear me out.  This is not a moral discourse on the propriety of pornography in general but rather a consideration of what it does to your marriage (or other committed relationship). While some writers have waxed enthusiastic about the benefits of porn watching, common sense – to say nothing of my clinical experience – tells me that the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits.  This is true of both the folks watching it solo and those watching as a couple.  Let’s take it one at a time. (Warning: this post doesn't pull any punches - be prepared for frank la...
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Don’t Start Couples Counseling Before You Read This!

marriage counseling hi
If you are considering seeing a couples counselor/marriage therapist to address a problem in your relationship, there are a few things it’s vital for you to know before you jump in. 1. Be prepared to change Many people come in to couples therapy feeling like their spouse or partner is causing the problem.  They ask their therapist, sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly, to “fix” their partner.  But more often than not, both parties will have to do some changing to make a difference in the problem.  Importantly, this is often true even when one of you is objectively doing something wr...
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How do you make a long-distance relationship work?

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In these days of constant change and mobility, long-distance relationships are increasingly common and necessary as people take jobs and pursue life goals that move them about the globe. There’s no question that a long-distance relationship poses challenges that typical relationships, where people live with or near each other, do not.  That does not mean that long-distance relationships can’t or don’t work; it just means that being aware of and real about those challenges, instead of downplaying or entirely ignoring them, is critical. So how can you make a long-distance relationship work?  ...
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Are You in An Abusive Relationship?

abusive relationship hi
All relationships have ups and downs. Some seem to have more downs than others. A relationship that’s on the rocks can often be fixed with commitment on the part of both partners and with professional counseling.  However, some relationships are abusive, and these cannot be repaired until the abusive partner decides to change his or her ways. However, since abusers often bring a strong sense of entitlement to the relationship, they rarely look at themselves as doing anything wrong and therefore rarely take stock of their own views and behaviors. If you are the victim in an abusive relations...
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Communication at the Office

office politics hi
Office politics are such a well-known phenomenon that entire television series have been successfully spawned from it. As most everyone knows, you are bound to run into difficult people at work. Fortunately, in most cases this doesn’t mean you have no choice but to suffer for the 8-or-so hours a day you’re there. The rules that apply to all interpersonal relationships apply at the office as well. Here’s how to use them to ease the relational strain at work. 1. Listen before you speak All too often we assume we know what the other person wants to say and where they are coming from. Generally ...
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How to Deal with a Difficult Coworker

coworkers hi
Following the recent office shooting not too far from Baltimore, many people have been feeling increased nervousness and tension in their offices. Having trouble with a coworker or employer is a common experience; but who wants that to turn into the kind of nightmare that the victims of this attack had to go through?  How can one handle a difficult person at work in a way that leaves everyone feeling safe? Naturally, there are many different configurations of possible interpersonal networks in various work settings. Let’s look at the relatively straightforward situation of dealing with a si...
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On Patience

patience hi
Recently I had a conversation with a client about patience.  He was working on trying to be more patient, especially as it related to the people in his life, and found himself losing his cool more frequently than he wanted.  This led to an important discussion about the meaning of patience which I thought was worth sharing with a broader audience. Google, which is basically modern man’s Webster, defines patience as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset,” and then follows it up with the endearing example, "you can find bargains if you...
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Anger in Relationships

anger management hi
Anger is one of the major destroyers of relationships. People can say and do things when they are angry that are offensive, hurtful, even downright mean. But anger is a normal part of the human emotional makeup, and it’s only natural to feel angry sometimes. How can you deal with angry feelings without harming your relationship? Expressing anger Being angry is different from being aggressive, mean, or threatening. If you have been in the habit of blowing your top when you get angry, you are probably aware that it does not work very well. Either you get into a screaming match and nothing is a...
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4 Ways to Fight Depression

depression hi
If you’ve been feeling down a lot lately, always tired, not in the mood to do much of anything, you may be suffering from depression. Depression is different from just feeling sad, and it is a medical condition that should not go ignored. While medical interventions such as psychiatric medication may be helpful or even necessary to treat depression, there are a number of options you can try on your own to improve the situation.  If nothing seems to help, or if at any point you find yourself thinking about harming yourself, please seek professional help immediately. Exercise It is well-known ...
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To Give and To Get: A Relationship Formula

relationship hi
This is a guest post by a colleague of mine in Chicago, Josh Hetherington of the Northside Center for Relationship Counseling. Mindfulness Lately I’ve been reconnecting with some Buddhist writing. It underscores a lot of ideas about mindfulness, which I see as a nearly universally useful concept. Everyone can benefit from a mindfulness practice. I like a simple breathing meditation where you focus on your breathing and then notice when you start thinking about something else and pull your attention back to your breathing. It’s easy. You can’t really do it wrong. Sit down. Close your eyes. Fo...
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How to Have a Fair Fight

How to Have a Fair Fight hi
Arguments are a natural part of any relationship. No two people will agree on everything all the time. Disagreements are bound to happen. Slight offenses are inevitable.  But how do you deal with them in a way that is productive and not destructive? What does a fair fight look like? Talk about yourself, not your partner This is one of the most important and most difficult shifts we have to make in order to prevent minor disagreements from turning into major fights. When you talk about the negative things you believe your partner has done, you automatically put them on the defensive. Defens...
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Can an Affair Help the Relationship?

affair hi
Many people believe that infidelity unavoidably spells the end of a relationship.  However, the truth is that many relationships survive the injury of an affair, and in fact many get much better in the aftermath.  If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you don’t need to despair of your relationship; it can certainly be saved if both partners are willing (which, of course, is a big question). We have helped numerous couples move beyond cheating in the relationship, whether they are dating, engaged, or already married.  And indeed in many of these couples, the relationship reache...
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