Tag Archive | commitment

Can You Totally Trust Your Partner?

Morning After Christmas Party

I often receive emails on the topic of trust so I think this might be a good time to talk about it. This is especially so as the Christmas season is upon us and for so many organisations this is also the time of the office Christmas party with potentially lots of alcohol and sometimes a little too much “merry”.

Trust, as defined in the dictionary, is the reliance of one person on another for honesty and sincerity in their relationship. Everything is open for discussion and, as a committed couple there is an expectation that as no subject is taboo then also there is an expectation that both of the couple will say what the truth is for them even when this might be hard to say.

So when we feel we cannot trust our partner, is that saying more about us or is it saying more about them?

My hunch is that maybe it says something about both of you.

Our distrust of another may well be about our own insecurities. While we might say we expect truthfulness from another we actually might find it difficult to be truthful ourselves and consequently not really believe that it is possible to get that from the other.

Alternatively it might be that if I have grown up with dishonesty, either between my parents or from my parents to me, then it is also more likely that I will be unsure about the ability of someone else to be totally truthful in their conversations with me.

The alternative of course is that your partner has already done something which was less than honest leaving you suspicious of their every word and action. If your relationship has come to this then you are in serious danger of losing your relationship unless you do something about it and quickly.

Where these two possibilities might intersect is at the place where, if you already have a distrust of your mate, then they actually might act upon it as they feel that they’re dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t.

What can you do about it?

If you feel that the issue is more about you then go and speak with a professional about it. You might benefit from doing some personal psychotherapy. In this case the therapist may explore some of your early life history to discover the past experience of your distrust.

The process would be similar if you are the one struggling to stay honest. The reason for this might also be discovered in exploring your past.

Once you know where it came from you can then do something about it.

If on the other hand you are married to someone who has behaved in such a way that no longer deserves your trust then you need to talk about it as quickly as possible either with your spouse or with a Couple’s Counsellor.

The Couple’s Counsellor will help both of you in articulating what your concerns are about hearing or telling the truth assisting you to communicate this to each other. This is because it is only in the truth that you will find true happiness and a promise that your relationship really can make it to become a long-term committed relationship.

If you don’t have access to a Counsellor try this exercise:

Make a time with each other to sit and talk. Choose one of you to have the entire stage first. You are “The Speaker”. That means that for whatever time you have chosen you get to speak without interruption other than for the other person clarifying what you are saying or to ask questions to help both of you get as clear a picture as possible about what it is “The Speaker” has chosen to speak about.

The other of you is “The Listener”. Your job is simply to listen. This must be without judgement or response in defence of yourself. That means that the other person can say whatever they want while you remind yourself that this is only their opinion even if you don’t agree with it.

And whatever you do, and whatever it is they say, just keep listening. And when I say listen I mean really listen: with your head, hour heart and your spirit as you just might be surprised at what there is to learn.

Try it one way and then next time you come together it will be the listeners turn to become “The Speaker” and the speakers turn to become “The Listener”.

This is what a real conversation is. As we speak and listen we will come to hear the truth and maybe even rediscover the trust that might have been lost making it once again the glue for a truly healthy, loving relationship.

Remember you were designed with two ears and one mouth for a reason!

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Ending a Relationship (Part One)

Ending a Relationship - Five Tough Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Relationship

Five Tough Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Relationship

In all relationships there comes a time when you will come to ask questions about whether it’s time to end it or not. The hardest question of all to answer is how can you know for sure when your relationship is just not working and it may be time to get out?

To help those of you, who think you might be at that point right now, let me see if I can make it a little easier for you.

There are five really tough questions that you can ask yourself to see how close you are to that point of no return. And, while you answer these questions you also need to remind yourself of what the real truth of the situation is.

Also as you answer these questions keep in mind the definitions I spoke about in an earlier article/blog of the five keys to an enduring relationship relating to our basic needs. If you remember, they were recognition of our emotional, physical, spiritual, social and security needs.

The answers must be based on your partner’s recognition of your needs in those areas, as well as your recognition of his or her needs in those areas, and the rights of both of you to have your needs met.

  1. Would you say you behave in a way that reflects that you are in love with your partner and if so, why? And, using those same keys is your partner in love with you and why do you say that?
  1. Knowing what you now know about your relationship, would you still get involved with the same person if you had to do it all over again and why?
  1. When comparing yourself to other people in relationships do you feel that you have been cheated or have settled for second best, and why?
  1. If you could break off your relationship or get a divorce from your partner right now without any inconvenience, legal costs or embarrassment and without any undue hardship on yourself or your children, would you do it? And then why have you answered that way?
  1. How bleak are your feelings about your relationship and just how negatively do you think about yourself and your partner?

You need however, to be very careful here because when you are in a negative place, in your personal lives, you can also get caught up in the negative aspects of your relationship and forget about all the good things. You can even begin to think that it is your relationship that is at fault when the truth is it is more about you as an individual rather than you as a couple.

Look out for part two in these series of article/blog entries to learn what to do with the results of this questionnaire. If you can’t wait till my next entry you can subscribe to my mailing list. Then you will receive the free e-book that this questionnaire comes from. It’s titled “Relationships – A Couple’s Journey”.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Am I Jealous Or Just Insecure?

Am I Jealous Or Just Insecure 2

 

A question I was asked recently was about the apparent need for a fiancé to continue to contact previous girlfriends. It went something like this:

“I wonder why my fiancé can’t get over with his past relationships. We’ve been together for two years and I recently found out that he was trying to reach his ex-girlfriends. It hurt me so much. I wasn’t expecting that he was the one who took the first move. We had a fight over this. The conversation was so nasty. Is it my fault? Or am I just insecure or jealous?”

I was saddened to read this as it seems to come up again and again for couples. I think the real culprit here is simply that some people, despite the fact that they no longer are in a relationship, have not yet really finished their business in those former relationships. And interestingly this can even be the case for the person who initiated the ending of the relationship in the first case.

So let’s take a closer look at what this might actually be about. As you are growing up the way you are treated by your parents and other close family, together with your observations of others in relationship, shapes the way you become as an adult in your relationships. This shaping defines what you do, think, feel and say and how you present yourself to the world.

My theory is that the resulting beliefs directs us to fall in love with people who on the surface may appear quite different from us but who underneath we unconsciously know will reaffirm the beliefs we already have about ourselves, others and relationships.

We then go on in one of two ways. We will both embrace the differences, as opportunities for learning, and take on some of those qualities becoming more whole in terms of the options we now have for responding to life’s events. The other option is that we turn against those differences as we become more fixed in our own opinions.

The problem with this is that you don’t learn anything from the experience. And as you stand fixedly in your position you run the risk of losing the relationship as the conflict between you will invariably escalate.

So what has this to do with what so often happens in future relationships?

Well there is a reason why you are attracted to all the people who come into your life. If you have finished your business with them you are more likely to come to the conclusion that you are simply not ever going to be well-matched. You can then step away from that part of your life and truly move on as you embark on another, hopefully more healthy, relationship.

The alternative is that you simply walk away from the relationship as a reaction to whatever was going on, or not going on, without ever really having learned or rationally made any sense of what actually happened and why.

You leave still angry and then go into another relationship unresolved to the previous one. Why then would you not still be attracted to those from earlier relationships as the opportunities for growth are still to be found there if only you open your eyes to it.

So for the new partner there may indeed be a sense of disconnection from this person. And while there is still some unfinished business for the other, there is also something for the new partner to learn as well. It might feel like jealousy or insecurity, and maybe the other person might like you to wear the responsibility for what might not be working in your relationship so they don’t have to. But this actuality may not be yours entirely.

The way through this is to take responsibility for what is yours, and your thoughts and feelings are your responsibility, to come to accept that you are OK. Your partner also has to take responsibility for their thoughts and feelings; to figure out what it is that s/he needs to learn to truly be able to put that old stuff aside once and for all so they can focus fully, without any distraction, on the current relationship.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Are You Thinking of Leaving? Consider These Seven Things

Are You Thinking of Leaving?

Being the one to decide whether or not to leave a relationship can be just as hard as the one being left, and for some even more so. The one being left really has no say in the matter. The one making the decision to leave is the one taking absolute responsibility for what will happen next.

And although you may be very dissatisfied with your relationship or are wondering if you even have any love left, you may feel reluctant to really make the break.  When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time fear of the unknown can stop the most determined of you in your tracks making the decision even more difficult.

Here are a few things to consider before making the final decision to stay or leave.

  1. Do not expect yourself to feel love for your partner when you are feeling resentful.  These two emotions are almost incompatible. Actually part of the process of leaving anyone is that you must feel the resentment and even anger otherwise you probably wouldn’t consider going at all.
  2. Do not let anyone pressure you into a decision. Imagine yourself living with your partner on even days and living apart on odd days to see if you can get a really good idea for how it’s really going to be like to be separate from each other.
  3. Discover how you allow yourself to be a victim by talking to friends or a therapist.  You will not stop feeling resentful until you stop giving up your power. Tormenting yourself over whether or not to continue the relationship may interfere with looking at the changes you need to make in yourself.
  4. If the decision is too hard for now take some time first to focus in on yourself and figure out what there is to learn about relationships that you may have missed that put you in this predicament in the first place.  Identify one change to start with that you are going to make in yourself for the better.  Make this change consistently until you sense that you are no longer acting like a victim.
  5. Only when you have learned your own lessons and made some changes in yourself make your decision.  Don’t be hurried into it either by yourself or by others. The years you spent together deserve that much thought. This will give you a much better sense of what you need to do. And of course don’t be surprised that in the meanwhile your partner may make your decision for you as they are going through their own process and challenges.
  6. If there are problems with physical or substance abuse, a separation may be needed to save the marriage or to save that person from their habit.  Often, people stay in such relationships until they have no love left.  It is better to recognise problems early and insist on living separately until the other person has sought help. Promises to get help should be ignored until the person takes action and makes significant changes.
  7. Whatever the decision you make about your future it must be viewed from the perspective that it took the two of you to get you to this place so each of you must take responsibility for your part in it. Only when you accept responsibility and do your own therapy around that can you really make a good decision for yours and your partner’s future together.

And let me add one more that is probably even more important than the ones above.

Do not leave one relationship on the promise of another.

These relationships rarely survive as until the lessons are learned from the previous relationship the likelihood of coming back to exactly the same place is actually fairly high. That’s why they call them “rebound” relationships.

Oh and don’t count on a new partner to take away any underlying insecurity you might have. That is why new relationships, gone into too soon after the last one ended, can be fraught with danger and are likely to end you up in exactly the same place.

Learn what there is to learn about yourself, others, life and loving and then, if your love is still there, renew your commitment to this relationship. If however the time is right for you to move on then do so without regret, without resentment, without anger but with love and gratitude for the time you have had with each other and all that you have learned and experienced together.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Ten Reasons Why People Cheat and What to Do About It

Ten Reasons Why People Cheat and What to Do About It

Betrayed By A Fiancé/Fiancée?

I receive many emails asking about the meaning of affairs and what to do when you catch someone out. This question is one that comes up regularly both in my rooms as well as via email. In this post I will try and put my thoughts down about what I understand about affairs when they happen and what you can do about them.

Let me first define what an affair is and what an affair is not. For me, and you may agree or not, an affair is when someone creates a relationship with another person, with or without sex, in which that other person becomes the centre of their attention at the expense of their partner.

An affair is not a “one-night stand” where someone gets carried away in the moment and has a sexual encounter with someone outside of the marriage/relationship. Both, however, may be considered equally a betrayal and unforgivable to the other party in the relationship.

When someone has been caught out in any kind of unfaithfulness some of you have simply decided to walk away and others have decided to forgive and move on. There is no right or wrong way to respond to this. It is up to each of you to decide how significant the indiscretion is to you and decide on how you yourself should best react.

Often the actual decision made is more likely based on your personal value system. For some of you, when someone betrays you, it feels like the worst thing that they can do and there is no room for stepping away from the hurt or the loss of trust. For others of you there is such a strong value in your love and commitment that you will find a way to forgive even this most unforgivable of betrayals.

In either situation it seems to come down to which value is the strongest – the value around love and commitment or the value around fidelity.

When someone has been unfaithful it is worth pausing for a moment to take a look at why they may have done it before deciding what the best course of action is.

Reasons for being unfaithful may include:

  1. Fear of committing to one person at the exclusion of all others
  2. The behaviour was modelled by a parent or someone close to the person
  3. Curiosity, especially for the inexperienced, of what sex might be like with someone else
  4. Boredom in the current relationship
  5. An escape from reality into fantasy
  6. A lack of, or insufficient, intimacy in their marriage or relationship
  7. A way to experiment with sex that might not be welcome in their marriage
  8. A spontaneous response to the moment with or without alcohol or other drugs present
  9. A way to exhibit a position of power over another person
  10. An escape from an otherwise tedious or unfulfilling life

Once you have ascertained what might be behind the betrayal then you can make the best decision about what to do about it. You may ultimately decide it is totally the responsibility of the wrongdoer or you may decide that you have to take some responsibility for what has happened as well and change some of your own behaviours.

My belief about this is that when two people truly love each other and are totally committed to their partner then unfaithfulness simply does not have a place. Instead when there are issues they will talk them through until they get a resolution.

And a word of advice: if you ever find yourself in a situation where there has been an infidelity, I would really encourage you to seek professional counselling before making any decisions you may come to regret.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Is It Ok to Lie in a Relationship?

Is It Ok to Lie in a Relationship?

You wake up in the morning and look across to the person you say you care for more than any one in the world. What do you really think about this person? Does he/she immediately fill you with love and adoration or are you thinking terrible or maybe even contemptuous thoughts about that person.

You get up and go to the shower in preparation for the work day. You weigh yourself and realize that you have put on a few kilos. You say to yourself “Oh, that’s just because of the extras I had at dinner last night. It will be ok”.

You sit down to breakfast and find yourself wishing your partner were different somehow. If only they’d dress differently, act differently, weren’t so selfish, paid better attention to you or whatever it is. You don’t say anything.

You go to the office and find yourself seeking out that one special person who is always so nice to you. You flirt with them and find yourself requesting or agreeing to meet after work for drinks. Over time this leads to more regular meetings until one day this becomes more serious. You convince yourself this is not an affair but just a “bit of fun” that you can control and that no-one is being hurt by it.

And then one day you lose the control and the innocent flirting becomes a one-night-stand, the one-night-stand becomes a fling and the fling becomes a full-blown affair that now seems to have a mind of its own.

You have reached the point of no return and you realize you are now in really deep trouble.

How many lies were told in this story?

The truth is we all lie sometime and most of us lie most of the time.

We lie to ourselves about what is going on in our life and we lie to ourselves about what is going on in our relationships. And we lie to each other about what is going on in our relationships as well.

The lies are expressed in one of two ways; either by what we actually do say but most often the lies are expressed by what we don’t say.

So what should you do when you find yourself lying or catch someone out in a lie?

I often get asked questions about lying. When is it ok? When is it not? What to do when you find someone has lied to you? Should you forgive a lie?

The answer is not as simple as it might appear. You might be thinking that you simply should never lie. But as Allan Pease, in his book “Body Language”, says; to be socialised is to lie.

In other words every day we are confronted with situations, such as the first utterance we make when greeting someone, when we say: “how are you?” (As if we really care). The inevitable reply is: “fine thanks, how are you?”

We say this when what we’d really like to say is something like: “I feel terrible; the kids are mucking up, my husband does nothing to help me, and I’m fed up.” Or for the man who might really want to say; “I’m so over it. I work hard to provide for my family and there’s no thanks when I get home; just nagging to do more around the house and for the kids.”

This response would be heard as complaining and, while it might be the truth, is most often not aired in public.

So what about the lies that should never be told?

This is how I advise my clients. If you have done something wrong for which you think you should tell the truth about ask yourself these questions first.

  1. If I tell the truth about this for whom am I doing it? If it’s just about my own feelings of guilt – then think carefully about the good of that for the other person. If it’s because they really deserve to know then you must tell the truth.
  2. If I tell the truth what good will it do? If it means an opportunity to start afresh then you must tell the truth and deal with the consequences as they come.
  3. If I tell the truth what do I want as the outcome of doing that? Keep that outcome in mind to give each of you a chance to get to that rather than having the truth lead you to a place of regret.

And here are a couple of things you can do to help you both get to the best outcome.

  1. Create a good place and time for the conversation to happen.
  2. Alert the person to what it is you want to talk about prior to the meeting so they can prepare themselves for it.
  3. Before saying what you want to say in truth, let the other know how you would prefer for them to respond eg “There is something I need to let you know, and I hope that once you’ve heard it you will be able to find forgiveness for me so that we can continue our relationship”.
  4. Be willing to forgive yourself and the other person for any part they had to play in the situation that led to creating the lie in the first place.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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Reasons Why Women Cheat

Why Women Cheat

 

Recently I was surprised to hear news of increasing number of websites promoting affairs. So it maybe a bit of a surprise to hear that men are not the only ones who cheat on their partners.  It is becoming more and more common for women to be guilty of cheating.

And while years ago a woman cheating on her spouse was unheard of more recently the number of women who enter into affairs and cheat on their spouse is growing exponentially.

However while women may be cheating as often as men, the reasons why women cheat are very different to the reasons why men cheat.

Men Cheat for Physical Reasons and Women for Emotional Reasons

Research is showing us that the principle difference between men and women cheating are that men often cheat for physical reasons while women often have emotional reasons for cheating on their partner.

The reasons why women cheat include loneliness, revenge, and boredom or as an attempt to raise their self-esteem.

A partner who becomes excessively involved with his work or some pastime may no longer make time to spend with his partner. This often results in the woman feeling as if she is all alone. So if a woman is not receiving the attention she feels she deserves in a relationship, she may be tempted to seek that attention elsewhere and become involved in an affair.

Loneliness has amazingly become one of the primary reasons that women seek out affairs and cheat on their partner. Although it sounds contradictory that they should feel lonely while being in a relationship, it is because that relationship has simply become emotionally unfulfilling.

Revenge has also become a growing factor in why women cheat. The modern woman is no longer willing to sit back and accept the fact that their partner may cheat on them. If a woman confirms or even just holds a suspicion that her partner is cheating on her, she may be driven to engage in an affair of her own as an act of revenge.

An Eye for an Eye

They may be extremely hurt by their partner’s actions and seek a way to hurt them in the same way.

Boredom may also factor into why women cheat. Their current relationship may have fallen into a rut and lost the excitement that it possessed in the early stages of its existence. They may feel that their relationship has become dull and predictable so rather than trying to bring excitement into their current relationship they may pursue affairs in the hopes of rediscovering the excitement they felt when they first became involved with their partner.

While an affair may bring about a temporary solution of making the woman feel excited about love again it may ultimately destroy both their current relationship as well as their cheating relationship.

An affair is exciting not only because it involves a relationship with a new person but also because it involves sneaking around and ultimately getting away with doing something wrong.

To many women this is very exciting and they are willing to risk losing their relationship over the affair.

Another reason why women cheat is a lack of self-esteem. Women may feel that they are not getting an adequate amount of attention from their partner and they may be tempted to cheat to confirm that they are still attractive and desirable.

Being found desirable by another compensates for the lack of appreciation they feel from their partner which helps to boost their self-esteem. While women with a healthy self-esteem are more likely to remain happy in a relationship, and do what needs to be done to find it, those who lack self-esteem may be more driven to cheat on their partners.

So if you are finding yourself lonely, bored or feeling like your self-esteem is failing you think twice before embarking on an affair. Maybe there is a better way out. This might be to seek some counselling and then to find a way to confront your partner about what it is you’re experiencing.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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