1. You both are feeling ‘unheard’ and having trouble seeing the issue or situation from your partner’s point of view.  If there’s lots of conflict in your relationship about what seems like everything, even the little stuff, consider that it is difficult to get to the place where you can productively consider potential solutions to your problems if neither of you feels like the other person hears where you’re coming from.
  2. When there has been emotional or physical infidelity.  You may think you can work through this on your own, but a professional can create a meaningful framework for the recovery process, provide a safe space for each individual to be heard, help redefine the relationship, and create a narrative lending an understanding as to how the relationship got to a place where it became vulnerable to the affair in order to recognize the first signs in the future and innoculate the relationship against any potential threats.
  3. When you are having difficulty adjusting to a major life transition, such as parenthood, launching of children, or dealing with the problems and responsibilities associated with aging parents. Let’s face it, when our lives get turned upside down, and what we once knew to be ‘normal’ seems so far away, it takes some adjusting, not only as an individual, but also as a couple. Our ‘normal’ patterns of interaction and reaction may not make sense given the new circumstances.




Nuff said...



 Still looking for one word for 2014? Consider the word 'CHOICES'. Stuck in a personal rut or unhealthy relationship cycle? We all have CHOICES about how we think about our situation, what we do about it, and how we respond to those around us. As humans we are wired to pay attention to the negative. Think about what would happen to our ancestors if they weren't hyper-sensitive to any potential threats (negatives). They'd be wiped out by a saber tooth tiger or other unforseen threat! However, if they passed up a watering hole or fruit tree (both positives), chances are they would pass another at some point, so it wasn't as critical to notice the positive around them. Paying attention to the negative was critical while noticing the positive wasn't beneficial when the name of the game was survival. This is where the work comes in for those of us whose lives aren't in daily jeopardy, and who desire to live happily. YOU HAVE A CHOICE AS TO WHAT YOU PAY ATTENTION TO.  If you are new to this process, in the beginning stages paying attention to the positive takes commitment and perseverance. It's not natural. Your brain isn't wired to pay attention to the positive. With time and practice, paying attention to the positive can become second-nature, and when it does, how you view yourself and the world around will shift, and your life will become the life you envision it to be.

Happy New Year,




A Nation of Cutoffs 

According to Murray Bowen, cutoffs develop as an attempt to adapt to intense anxiety in a relationship. Have you ever said to someone you're in a relationship with, "I'm done. I don't need you anymore. It's just too hard to deal with you?" Cutoff is a distancing posture carried to the extreme. In some cases, cutoff may be the only viable answer, such as in an abusive relationship. Sometimes cutoff is subtle, in the form of emotionally removing oneself from the relationship, but still keeping in contact.  Whatever the form of the cuttoff, most of the time when we say, "I'm done",  we are far, far from actually being done. The intense fusion to this other person doesn't just go away. And in fact, it seeps into other relationships.

America has been called a nation of cutoffs, since most of its inhabitants were immigrants who often left important others across the sea.  Culturally, cutoff is a pattern seen in American families, and is often considered a desirable state of affairs. Children grow up and leave home, and often never 'emotionally' return, thus severing what were once emotionally meaningful relationships, only visiting on holidays or when obligated.

Cutoff is a temporary fix. Cutoff can initially ameliorate intense feelings of anxiety, but over time it will have the opposite effect. People involved in cutoff relationships will often develop an intensification of feelings of depression and anxiety. A history of cutoff in the family of origin can be linked with difficulties in current relationships, including the workplace, friends, and family.

Rather than focusing on the issues that lead to the cutoff, try focusing on the pattern. The distancing pattern may play out several times a day. When we become familiar with our own patterns, we are in a better position to recognize the anxiety that is driving these patterns. Working with the anxiety itself may be more productive than trying to change a distancing pattern. And, as with all patterns, asking ourselves the following three questions might be helpful:


Working to resolve cutoffs with the family of origin is always helpful. Cutoff cannot be changed unless someone steps up and takes responsibility for for his or herself.

(Adapted from Roberta Gilbert's 'Extraordinary Relationships', 1992)





Emotional Flooding 101


We've all been there! Anger. Increased heart rate. Increased blood pressure. The secretion of adrenaline. Any kind of 'threat' (beit hunger or an emotional violation) creates the same physiological response as if someone were threatening you physically.  The logical, thoughtful part of your brain, the pre-frontal cortex, shuts down and the amygdala kicks in. The amygdala doesn't care what you think. There's no time for that! Its role is to get you the heck outta the situation (fight, flight, or freeze)! YOU CAN'T THINK CLEARLY OR HEAR WHAT YOUR PARTNER IS SAYING.

The solution: TAKE A 20-30 minute break. Don't ruminate about whatever the issue was during this break. Practice SELF-SOOTHING.  Agree to resume your talk later.