I often get phone calls that start something like this: a person with a well-mannered voice says, "I need someone to talk to. I'm having relationship problems." When I ask for more detail, they name some general problems. "We have a hard time communicating." Or, "we don't spend a lot of time together." They may avoid adding any more, simply asking to talk more about it when we meet. If they're feeling especially brave or desperate, they may confide "I can't believe I'm in this situation but I want to save my marriage. I did something I never thought I'd do. I had an affair and my partner found out. They've told our friends and family and I'm so embarrassed. I don't know how we'll ever get over this."
Welcome to the new normal of lots of changes in everyday life. Whatever felt challenging a few weeks ago now seems more complicated. Between the health, financial, work/career and family care complications that come with this pandemic, we're all feeling more stressed. Even something as simple as getting groceries or going out to eat requires thoughtful decisions and considerations.
I hope these links will help you feel less stressed and more grounded as you ride this out:
We all want a life that's meaningful. What's challenging is that meaning is self-created. There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to having a reason to get up in the morning and engage in the day. For some people, meaning is about finding a balance between work and relaxation. For others it's about making a difference in someone's life. For others it's knowing you can take care of yourself and be in a state of physical, emotional, spiritual, financial and/or relational health. We tend to take what our culture says is important and live according to that, but what happens when you're not content with being focused on having more stuff and looking happy all the time (American cultural ideals)? Or when those are your goals but y...
I've done a couple of trainings with Barry McCarthy and love his approach to sexuality. He uncovers the myths, misconceptions and attitudes that limit our capacity to experience a lifetime of health sexuality. His work is especially relevant to couples in long term monogamous relationships but offers useful guidance for anyone who wants to enjoy sex more. His "average Joe" looks and straightforward delivery are a fun juxtaposition to the cultural myth that only hip, beautiful and young people get to have a great sex life.
Below is an interview with Barry about the book he wrote with his wife Emily McCarthy, called Enhancing Couple Sexuality.
Barry McCarthy talks about his book Enhancing Couple Sexuality
This is the time of year when we tend to reflect on what's been going well in life and what's been tripping us up. I love being a therapist and helping people find more of what helps them feel self-compassionate, alive and focused on what's meaningful to them. Sometimes clients wonder if the negative experiences they've had - such as poverty, substance abuse, loss, and sexual, physical or emotional pain or abuse - have left them permanently damaged and unable to move forward "like other people". There can be a sense that the hand they've been dealt means certain things - having a healthy love relationship or family, a rewarding sex life, or a meaningful career - just aren't going to happen for them. Luckily, that's not necessari...
A friend was talking with me about his latest relationship. He asked, What are you supposed to do when you're running out of gas or things start breaking down? As I listened to him, memories of a college road trip out west and then of my old tractor lawnmower ran through my head . How do you know whether to try to fix things or just move on? Not an easy question.
Comparing relationships to vehicles may seem odd, but they share some common elements. Both need fuel to keep going. You need to take care of them by performing regular maintenance. Sometimes they malfunction a bit and you can read a manual or talk to a friend and get things running smoothly again. Other times there's a problem yo...