If you have been married for any length of time, it is likely that there have been times when passion and adventure waned. Routine and survival becomes the focus. It is also very likely that throughout the course of a marriage, the passion, adventure, and even the sex becomes routine and mechanical.
It is during these times that one or both spouses may begin to wonder what else they are missing. The eyes begin to wander. Conversation with a coworker or friend of the opposite sex may get too personal or slightly cross the line into the inappropriate. If this lingering around the line continues, an affair is likely to occur. While this affair may not be sexual or even physical, emotional affairs can still be devastating to a marriage.
Since an affair is often not really about the “other person” or even the sex but more about the adventure and the risk, what if you had an affair with your spouse? Add some risk and adventure to your relationship. Spice things up. Role play a bit. If there are two willing participants, go for it.
Feel free to take some liberty with this process in order to adapt it to your situation, and this should go without saying, but this is intended to be used with your spouse, not someone else.
The best way to start this affair is online. Send an email to your lover from a private email account. These can be created through yahoo or hotmail or many other services. Encourage your lover to create their own account as well, to be used exclusively for this relationship. Address the email to a pseudonym for your spouse. The initial email should be inviting and suggestive, but don’t move too quickly.
Part of the adventure and excitement is the wooing and enticing of your lover.
After the conversations have enticed and aroused the adventurous side of you and your spouse, an inconspicuous meeting for drinks or lunch would be arranged. This should occur during the day, either during lunch or when you can slip away from your job to meet your adventurer over coffee. The important thing is that you will meet with your lover and then return to your day. It is also important to keep a low profile with these meetings. Even though you are doing nothing wrong, in the spirit of the adventure, try to avoid being caught.
As the tryst continues to progress, be sure to keep the emails and the casual meetings coming. This will help in blending the affair into the marriage later.
As for the rest of the process, use your imagination and creativity. Here are a few ideas in order to keep adventure part of the process.
1.Never meet your lover for “affair sex” at your home. Part of the adventure is finding other places to hook up.
2.Agree to not discuss this part of the relationship at home.
3.Try to set up a regular schedule of “dates” with your lover.
4.Do what you can to meet your lover out of town once in a while.
5.Do not discuss your affair with anyone. At least until you and your spouse have incorporated the affair relationship into the marriage.
Enjoy the adventure. However, keep in mind that you will need to blend this part of your relationship back into your marriage.
First, when the affair has gone on for a while, have a discussion with your lover about their experience during this adventure and share yours. These feelings and thoughts can be incorporated into the marriage going forward. Have this discussion over dinner during a night out marking the end of the affair and the beginning of a newly designed marriage.
Second, this process most likely awakened some passion and adventure within yourself and your spouse. Find ways to keep this growing in you. Feel free to express these passions and adventurous thoughts in the marriage. This will allow for longer lasting passion.
And third, remember that you and your spouse are also lovers. Not just parents, employees/employers, housekeepers, landscapers, chauffeurs, roommates, cooks, and friends.
Marriage is the best place to be yourself, and also the riskiest. Go on, take the risk. You both may enjoy it!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The simple fact is that for many while there are children in the home, the marriage relationship often seems to be thrown to the background. The schedule revolves around feedings, changing, bedtime, bath time, homework, and on it goes. It is inevitable that just when you think the kids are asleep, and you make a move with your spouse, the baby starts crying or your other child ends up standing at the foot of the bed. Passion wanes. Time for adventure disappears. It is, however, possible to capture time with your spouse before passion fades. Here are a few ideas:
1. Establish a schedule. This is not only great for the kids and their development; it also helps create time for each other. This could be done as simply as scheduling a weekly dinner or lunch date. A coffee break together. Or a regular sexual encounter together (scheduling this does not lessen the passion and heat despite the lack of spontaneity; you can be spontaneous during the encounter). By having something scheduled, you create room for anticipation.
2. Utilize babysitters or family members. There are many very capable teenagers out there interested in earning a little bit of money while you take your spouse out for the evening. The beauty of this option is the kids get someone new to play and interact with, while you get a break together. Be sure to plan out the evening away in order to ensure you don’t return home until after the kids are in bed asleep. That way, if the date has gone well, there will be the possibility of being invited in for an uninterrupted “nightcap.” To create a greater flow towards the end of the date, look for a babysitter that either drives or can get to and from your home easily. An even better option is to utilize family members that live nearby. It is amazing to me the number of couples I have met that have not had their kids stay over night with family members or friends. Not only do you and your spouse benefit from this time, your kids do as well. They experience an expanded range of people who love and care for them. This can set a foundation for greater self-confidence and growth as they develop. It also begins to create a village mindset in the raising of your children. The best thing about the family option is the likelihood that the kids would be out of the house the whole night.
3. Secret signals or code words. It is often difficult to have conversations that may lead to deeper more intimate connections when you are interrupted every five minutes by one kid tattling on the other or needing something from you for their homework or wardrobe. This can be overcome by creating another language or codes to use with each other. This language or code should be based on whatever you would be saying to each other if given the opportunity. If this type of language is not part of your normal dialogue, then it would need to be created all together. It could be as simple as lighting a candle that is centrally located in the home as a signal one of the parties is interested in an encounter. Whether the encounter is sexual or emotional is up to you. Or it could be as complex as learning a second language. How great of a motivation would it be if you were trying to woo your spouse in another language? And if your kids begin to understand the language, they would only discover more about the love and desire you have for your spouse. There are far worse things they probably already know about you.
4. Be a lover to your kid’s other parent. As your kids grow older, there is nothing wrong with informing them of your plans to be alone with your spouse. You don’t have to give all the details, but claim the time you want to spend with your spouse and let the kids know they are not invited to join or interrupt. When your spouse and the marriage are a priority, the kids benefit. In fact, research is now showing that when the marriage is the focus rather than the kids, it is better for the family. I have always believed that the best thing you can do for your kids is to love your spouse. Let them also appropriately see you love them as well. Hold hands, talk, hug, kiss, sit by each other, and cuddle in front of your kids. They may be jealous that they aren’t getting the attention, but in time, they’ll be glad you paved the way for their relationships.
Kids in the home present some obstacles to passion in marriage, but they aren’t the only reason passion wanes. By overcoming the hurdles of kids, you are faced with what else may be going on in the marriage. The kids can provide a buffer for a stale marriage. If that’s the case, more work will need to be done individually and relationally to address the other concerns. Marriage is work. But the things in life that require work are more valuable and more worth it.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Imagine you’re 42 and in pretty good shape.
You exercise several times a week, eat okay, and outside of the occasional cold, are healthy.
You’ve been married for over 15 years, have a couple of kids, nice house, and a good job.
One morning you wake up to find that you can no longer move your right arm. Everything else in your body feels fine, you even have feeling in your arm, you just can’t move it.
What would you do?
If you’re like most people, you’d schedule an appointment with your family doctor as soon as possible. You may even immediately head to the Emergency Room. You also would probably be fine going to several visits with various specialists in order to find out what’s going on with your arm.
You’d sit through tests, scans, waiting rooms, and be willing to take whatever prescribed medication the doctor’s recommend. You’d be willing to go to physical therapy several times per week until your arm was working properly.
The point is, you’d be willing to do almost whatever it took to have your body working well.
Now, answer me this: What makes it so many people don’t treat their marriage the same way?
If you wake up one morning and discover a problem (or finally admit to a problem’s existence), would you seek out help right away or hope the problem simply goes away on its own?
It seems many people hope for the latter.
Don’t believe me?
Research continues to show that couples wait an average of 6 years after a problem has become a problem before seeking out professional help. That’s 6 YEARS!
Imagine if we treated our bodies the same.
Imagine if we said to ourselves, “Oh well, I really don’t use my right arm all that much. Perhaps it will begin working again soon. I’ll just wait and see. In the meantime, honey, can you cut up my dinner for me?”
Marital problems and struggles are common to us all.
But they don’t have to be the end of the relationship, and you definitely don’t have to go through them on your own.
Seek out a marriage and family therapist. This is your best option.
If you don’t want to do that, open up to a close friend. Preferably as a couple to another couple, or if it’s just you, share your troubles with a good friend of the same gender.
Life is so much better when shared with others. Including our struggles.
Most of the time, when you share a struggle with a friend, you find out that they’ve experienced it as well. Plus, you get the burden lifted off your own shoulders a little.
Thanks to the technology of today’s world, you can find help regardless of where you live.
One last point: being brutally honest with you.
Seeking out professional help or opening up to friends around you is a whole lot cheaper than divorce.
10 sessions with a therapist = $200-$650ish (depending on insurance)
Talking to a good friend = Free, unless you pay for dinner or the coffee
Divorce= $???????, but a whole lot more than all the above options combined.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
There are aspects of men’s experiences that are particular to being male. In working with men, it is important for a counselor to understand the differences in men’s experiences, what men need, and how to best help them achieve their goals. For men, psychotherapy can promote success in careers and relationships by teaching better communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills. Therapy can improve men’s relationships in general, at home and at work, by fostering greater self-awareness, self-confidence, and empowerment.. Therapy can also help men with issues of mid-life crisis, affairs, anger management, fear of entrapment in relationships, sex addiction, performance anxiety, social anxiety, and difficulties in relationships with women, e.g., understanding what women want from them.
Men often experience common dilemmas in their relationships with women. In relationships, men frequently overestimate their ability to sacrifice themselves for their partner, often trying very hard to please their women and accommodate them to make them happy and to keep the peace. These efforts may seem to go unrecognized or unappreciated, and they may experience confusing complaints from their partner in spite of their efforts. This pattern typically leads to a build-up of resentment and hurt, which the man may not even be aware of, except through his partner’s persistent accusations, of which he may feel innocent. These feelings may take a disguised form, for example, forgetting, being late or unreliable, not following through on his word, tuning out, working late, becoming impotent or losing sexual desire, having an affair. Men can be helped with this issue in a number of ways. Through psychotherapy men can learn to better recognize and identify what they need and feel, which may be foreign to them since boys usually grow up in this society trained to suppress or be ashamed of most feelings (other than anger). Once they become more self-aware, they can learn ways to be more direct, but non-combative, in expressing their opinions, even opposing ones. As men learn to express themselves more directly with words, versus actions, passive-aggressive expression of anger or resentment through actions, is no longer necessary. This change often leads men to feel stronger and more effective. Also, therapy can teach men how to decipher the language of women, so that they can more easily understand why they get upset and how to more easily satisfy them without sacrificing themselves.
Another issue particular to men, and often misunderstood by women, is the importance of sex. For a man, sex is often at the core of how he feels loved, and loved as a man. Though women may need to feel close or loved in order to have sex, men experience the reverse: they need to have sex in order to feel loved. This difference can create conflict and misunderstanding in relationships especially during times of conflict when their partners do not want sex. At these times whatever conflict already exists now becomes compounded by the man feeling more rejected, unloved, and angry, even suspect that his partner is using sex (or the withholding of it) as a weapon. When these patterns develop, men often retreat in hurt and anger or escape the relationship by acting out. Therapy can help by increasing self-awareness, developing more effective ways to communicate, and providing an experience of being understood.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The odds of at least one partner having an affair during the life of a marriage is anywhere between 20-40%; however, many affairs occur toward the end of an already failing marriage. That means that happier couples are less likely to fall prey to an extra-marital affair. Here’s some relationship advice for the aftermath of an affair:
Keep in mind that the “I didn’t go out looking for an affair” excuse may well be true. Unless a partner is a philanderer, affairs are often slow-growing and unplanned. Usually they happen to people who are going through a sluggish time in their marriage, who feel lonely or who are experiencing stresses and strains they don’t easily discuss with their spouses.
The kids don’t need to know everything. If the couple wants to save the marriage, it’s better that the children don’t know all the details of what went wrong. It can be confusing for younger kids and disheartening for older ones to know that mom or dad had an affair. The kids probably know already that mom and dad are having relationship problems. They’ll feel better once they believe that their parents are working things out without knowing the specifics of what happened. If the children do learn of the affair, they may take sides and add to the amount of tension in the household. It’s then important for the parents to let them know that the problems are being handled.
It is important for the unfaithful spouse to examine why the affair occurred and to ask serious relationship questions. Dissatisfaction with one’s marriage or unhappiness about one’s age or place in life common factors.
Addressing areas in one’s life that aren’t working well can help defend against an affair happening again. But the spouse who was cheated on may demand to know “Why?” over and over. That is because no answer to why can ever be good enough. At some point, an affair must be accepted and no longer explored.
Understand the stages to overcoming an affair. The months following the revelation of an affair are “roller coaster” months. Getting along one day can be followed by harshness and coldness on another. You may push away the guilty partner when he shows you affection, and be angry when he doesn’t show it. These ups and downs are exhausting and confusing but are not forever. They are usually followed by a stage of flatness— fighting is less, emotional outbursts are fewer and farther between, but passion and zest are absent. This is finally followed by a stage of peace and a rekindling of feelings of love accompanied by less resentment.
The guilty party must understand that trust will take a long time to rebuild. It’s realistic that arriving home an hour late from work may raise relationship questions. “Where were you? Why didn’t you call?” The guilty party is advised to accept these moments rather than get offended that there is mistrust. This may be a time when the person who had the affair is on a “tight leash.” He or she will feel controlled and not like it, but it can be helpful in the initial weeks or months for the injured partner to regain a sense of influence over the relationship. In the long run, there must be no leash, if trust is to return.
Schedule discussions. Random discussions about the affair—usually demanded by the injured party—are risky. They are often long and drawn out and tend to ruin the rest of the day for both parties. It makes the guilty party less willing to want to talk in the future. A better idea is to schedule discussions—daily or weekly—and have them be time-limited (no more than one hour). This allows the injured party to vent and ask relationship questions, and allows the other party to relax more during non-scheduled times.
No more lies. In most cases, it is not so much the sexual aspect of an affair that destroys a marriage but the deceit that went along with it. A partner needs to regain trust. Often, the guilty party will hold back certain facts to avoid more arguments and to avoid hurting their partner anymore than they already have. But if those hidden facts come out later, a spouse can be devastated and believing there must still be more that is hidden. Once an affair is revealed, it is best to put all the facts on the table, however painful.
The guilty party should raise the topic of the affair from time to time. Most often, the injured party thinks about the affair way more than the guilty one. This is why it’s very important for the guilty one to ask the injured party how he/she is doing. By initiating the discussion, the injured party will feel cared about and will not resent having to always be the one to bring up the subject.
If resentment lingers, consider couples therapy so you can have help working through questions about the relationship.
Tell the kids when real progress has been made. No need to get specific, but when real headway has been made in the marriage, tell the children. Let them know you are happier and that the marriage is on solid ground. It can ease their minds.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
When you or your partner feels an intense, negative emotion, you can bet that he or she is having a fight or flight response. This response happens in your brain stem – the part that is made for basic survival. When you feel threatened physically or emotionally, your brain stem sends surges of chemicals into your body to help you fight or flee.
When you feel jealous, you’re experiencing a threat to your primary attachment. The basic survival part of your brain feels that if you lose this person, something terrible will happen. It puts you on high alert to avoid this perceived danger. For many people with chronic jealousy, there is an old wound to a primary attachment. This may be an old relationship in which you were betrayed. Or it may go back to your earliest childhood.
If your parents were preoccupied, stressed or had difficulty knowing what you needed to feel safe and secure as a baby, you may have grown up feeling like you were on your own, craving close connection, but fearing that you could never really have it completely. If your parents were overburdened, they may have accidentally given you the impression that you were a burden or that you need for closeness was too much or that you were too sensitive.
When an old attachment wound gets triggered in the present – maybe your spouse or partner travels a lot, or forgot to call when they said they would – that’s when you begin noticing every little shift in your partner, checking every credit card statement, every cell phone log. It’s a terrible feeling – and even worse if you know, rationally, that your partner is not cheating and has no intention of leaving. Then you might also feel ashamed of being jealous.
Understanding jealousy is the first step to healing. In our next post, we’ll talk about what to do when your partner get’s jealous. In the meantime, we’d love to hear how jealousy has affected your relationships – especially if you found a way to overcome it!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
It’s a common complaint, and not just among women. You have the most amazing time together. You make each other laugh. There’s passion – really great chemistry. But as soon as things turn serious, he/she acts all weird, goes to Vegas with friends and doesn’t call or return your calls. Or maybe he/she started talking commitment first – wondering what it would be like to move in together, offering you your own drawer or key or toothbrush-holder. But as you warmed up to the idea of getting serious, he/she backed off. Maybe this is a pattern you guys repeat together – hot and cold, up and down.
In my experience, when one person in a relationship has a fear of commitment, the other one does too – even if they’re not fully aware of the fear. It’s common to fear the thing we long for most. And in relationships, it’s not unusual for one person to play out the side that want’s closeness, while the other person plays out the side that’s afraid of it. Since you may have your own fears of commitment too, your partner’s distance keeps you safe too. Otherwise you would probably have ended the relationship and moved on.
Even if your partner doesn’t want to look at the deeper issues, you can. As you learn more about your internal conflict – wanting closeness, but not always feeling safe or comfortable having that closeness – you can begin to heal any past hurts that have made it hard to be vulnerable and open to someone. As those old hurts heal, you may find that your partner becomes more trusting too. Or you may discover that you are ready to let go of this relationship and be with someone who is able to make the commitment you long for.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
More than one-third of women in America experience some form of relationship abuse during their lives. You might reject the idea that you’re in an abusive relationship because your partner never hits you. That’s far from the truth. According to Stanford University, most physically abusive relationships start out with no violence at all. Abusive partners work to gain power and control, which may or may not involve physical violence. What’s more, all types of unhealthy relationships can turn violent with little to no warning. Knowing what to look for in the beginning may help you get out in time to save your own life.
1. Control: Like all forms of abuse, control can start out small and build over time so that you hardly notice it. Control can mean determining who you can see, where you can go, what you can wear and even how you think. Control isn’t just about permission. It can also be about fear. If you find yourself doing things to avoid fights or hiding parts of your life that might set off your partner, you’re in a controlling relationship. Control is dangerous and effects you mentally and emotionally.
2. Jealousy: Jealousy is one of the most confusing unhealthy relationship warning signs to interpret. Because you’re human, seeing your partner get jealous can be flattering and make you feel wanted. The occasional twinge of jealousy even happens in healthy relationships. When your partner gets jealous on a regular basis or his jealousy leads to anger or controlling behaviors, it’s a warning sign that you may be headed for danger. No matter how it might make you feel, jealousy does not equal love. It stems from insecurity and a desire to control you.
3. Isolation: Your abusive partner wants to control you, and he might do that by trying to keep you to himself. Often this process happens slowly so that you don’t realize you’ve lost contact with most of your friends and family members. If your partner has rules about who you are allowed to see or asks you to stop hanging out with your friends and family, it’s likely an isolation technique. In extreme cases, abusers prefer women to stay home at all times instead of going to work or school. Ask yourself how your partner feels about the other relationships in your life.
4. Anger: Anger is one of the most dangerous unhealthy relationship warning signs. There’s a fine line between losing his temper and punching the wall and losing his temper and punching you. Anger often accompanies violence, but it can also serve as a springboard for name calling, jealously, control, intimidation and other abusive behaviors. If you’re nervous or afraid of setting off your partner’s anger, you may be in an unhealthy relationship.
5. Unhappiness: If you’re not sure if your partner manipulates you, tries to control you or has inappropriate anger, you can gauge the health of your relationship by determining if you’re happy. Are you free to lead you own life, independent of the relationship? Do you have your own identity, friends, hobbies and interests? Do you feel loved and supported more often that mistreated or belittled? If you answer “no” to these questions or feel unhappy for any reason, trust your gut and move on.
If you need help leaving an abusive relationship, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for assistance at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
What should parents do when they discover that their young teen or pre-teen has been looking at pornography sites online? And what does it mean?
Based on a survey of online victimization conducted by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, only a small percentage of kids seek out pornography on purpose, and most respond appropriately by quickly leaving the site, though few report such incidents to parents (Wolak et al., 2006). Exposure to sexually explicit content online can occur very easily through a misdirected “google” search using a innocent word such as “toy”, a misspelled word or URL, a misleading website or email, or a link or photo sent by a peer or through spam (Wolak et al, 2007).
When evaluating what it means that your child is viewing sexually explicit material, before reacting or drawing conclusions, the first step is to assess the situation to find out what is really going on and whether there is a problem. Is this an ongoing issue? How many times has this occurred? Does this seem to be a habit? Are there other changes in behavior, mood or sleep? Is your child isolating himself?
Find out how your child has encountered these sites. Does anyone else at home frequent these websites or suffer from a hidden sexual addiction? When others at home with access to the computer – have a hidden sex addiction, children are exposed to such material with or without the parent’s knowledge, giving the child more opportunity and temptation to explore such websites themselves.
What are the sites the child is going to and what is he looking at? For example, the meaning and effect of looking up the word “sex” on “ehow.com” (a website that is an “encyclopedia” of sorts on how to do anything) is different from watching porn videos online. Children may look for, or view, sites at first out of curiosity after having stumbled upon them – or to find out about sex. When the motivation is curiosity, the diagnosis could simply be: “teenager” or: “preteen”, the impact benign, and prognosis good.
However, viewing pornography, especially in an ongoing way, can have potentially detrimental effects on children, and may be motivated or perpetuated by loneliness, isolation and compulsion.
What are the potential negative effects of viewing online pornography?
In the absence of any context, and without having learned about or known healthy sexuality, children may experience depictions of sex as confusing and take the images they see to be representative models of adult behavior. They are thereby introduced to sex before they are ready through images they do not understand, which often involve sexual deviations, and sex detached from relationship or meaning, responsibility, and intimacy.
Children are most at risk when they are repeatedly exposed to images that are over-stimulating and potentially addictive. If viewed compulsively and accompanied by sexual release through masturbating, internet pornography can have a desensitizing effect, requiring greater intensity and frequency as well as causing deviant sexuality to seem like the norm.
Cybersex addiction functions in a similar way to any other addiction, leading to a cycle of preoccupation, compulsion, acting out, isolation, self-absorption, shame and depression as well as distorted views of real relationships and intimacy. However, not everyone exposed to pornography becomes addicted to it.
Teens who are most susceptible to addiction are those who cannot rely on parents to provide a consistent source of contact and comfort to help them regulate their emotional state. Such families include, but are not limited to, those where a parent may suffer from an addiction – including alcohol – or fail to be emotionally available for other reasons. Children from these families are vulnerable – they often have low self- esteem and feel alone. They learn not to trust or depend on others, and find ways to comfort and stimulate themselves which do not involve people and which are reliably available to them and within their control.
Another danger teens are exposed to online is unwanted sexual solicitation. Teens are the most vulnerable of any age group to such unwanted sexual advances (Wolak et.al, 2006.) One in 7 teens reported having been subjected to unwanted provocations – the majority of which involved invitations to meet offline, asking teens to talk about sex or answer sexual questions, or asking teens for sexually explicit photos.
A related hazard for teens online involves “sexting” – sending sexually explicit photos usually over cell phones or sometimes over the internet. Sexting is most commonly engaged in by teens with their peers and usually involves peer pressure. Sexting often creates an expectation of “hooking up” (sex) on the part of the recipient, and increases the pressure to have sex, and likelihood of it occurring, during the next encounter. Sexting is risky in this way and, also, because it often leads to unforeseen reputation disasters that may be irreparable. This often begins with a photo sent to a boyfriend or potential boyfriend, which then – unbeknownst to the sender – is passed around and forwarded to the recipient’s friends and “contacts”, like a chain letter, spreading out of control. In addition, these photos, of course, can resurface later on and be used for blackmail or to wreak havoc on a person’s career.
The surest way to protect teens is to be aware of what is going on with them, and within your family, and make it safe for them to talk to you. Finding out that your child has viewed internet pornography is not cause for panic. Most children and teens do not suffer from sex addictions. And when they do, this problem is usually secondary to other secret or hidden issues in the family affecting them, which must be the focus of treatment along with the teen’s symptom.
To keep teens out of harm’s way, the key is being their ally and helping them collaborate with you in wanting to be safe. If you are not on the same side, your teen will find a way to outsmart or work around even the best technology and well-thought out rules. Remember… the relationship you have with your child and his perception of you as trustworthy and reasonable is the most protective factor against all the dangers faced by teens today.
Tips for Parents
• The key is to remain calm. Use a neutral and non-judgmental tone in talking to teens, taking care not to lecture, yell, blame or shame them for their behavior or for hiding it. Prepare yourself in advance so that you can be in the right mindset for an open conversation.
• Be frank and upfront. Do not lie or test them to see if they will confess the truth. Let them know you are aware that they have have been looking at some websites that can be confusing and harmful to children.
• Explain the dangers. The dangers are:
1. You can easily get addicted to viewing these images because they trick you into feeling pleasure and excitement. You may not realize it until it’s too late. Once you get addicted you feel compelled to keep doing it, aren’t in control, and it’s hard to stop.
2. The images can be sexually exciting and that can make you want more and more. Eventually the things that would naturally create sexual excitement will no longer have that effect.
3. Going to these sites can make you feel ashamed and bad about yourself, and then you have to hide this behavior from people,
4. The images will mislead you. You won’t be able to tell what’s normal sexual behavior and what isn’t.
5. Viewing these images repeatedly can have negative effects on development of healthy sexuality and that will affect your relationships in the future.
• Educate teens about predators on line. Inform them that teens are targeted by predators – “grooming” them by appealing to teens’ interest in and curiosity about romance, sex, and risk-taking. Predators disguise their age and identity – and use tricks that make them seem like they are your friend, in order to get you to you trust and confide in them, preparing to manipulate and use you.
• Let them know that just like you have rules about where it is safe to go in the real world there are the same rules about the virtual world. Some places are dangerous and are especially dangerous because they pull you in and can make it hard to stop going there.
• Explain that you will keep an eye on where they go online in order to protect them. Explain the rules they need to follow to be safe online.
• Explain and answer questions that help them understand the basis for rules and guidelines. Don’t be mysterious or make the sites seem forbidden.
• Don’t be controlling or authoritarian.
• Avoid getting into a power struggle – you will ultimately lose. If teens comply to be obedient, to avoid punishment, or avoid disappointing you, they are more apt to rebel, go behind your back, and/or lie to you.
• Show an interest in who their online buddies are, just like you are interested in their other friends.
• Familiarize yourself with internet safety guidelines for parents, including learning acronyms teens use when they text and IM each other.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Fantasizing about another person may seem like a harmless indulgence, but it actually draws us closer to temptation and can increase the risk of being unfaithful. In the same way that dwelling on worries and possible catastrophes fuels anxiety and makes fears more vivid, immersion in fantasy can enhance, rather than quench, our longings. Dreaming provides a familiar example of how imagination has the power to cross the line and blend into real life. We all can relate to having an intense dream about someone, and finding the feelings from the dream temporarily spilling into our waking experience of the person.
Our Inner Dialogue Affects Our Thoughts and Feelings
How we manage our thoughts when they come into our mind (our “inner dialogue”) directly affects how we feel and what we do. If we use this to our advantage, we can have a potent tool to manage our state of mind and have more control over ourselves. Alternatively, we can give in to “natural” instincts and thought patterns and see what happens when they take over.
Jeremy, 42, was bright and outgoing — though as a boy he was shy, insecure and lonely. In high school he was convinced that any girl he liked would be out of his league and would not like him. He coped with these painful feelings by using his imagination, comforting himself with sexual scenarios in which any girl he liked would fall in love with him. Jeremy was never inappropriate with anyone and kept these fantasies a secret.
As an adult, Jeremy was active socially and happily married with a satisfying sex life. Still, he continued in the vivid fantasy life he had as a boy, habitually imagining scenarios about various women who crossed his path. Though Jeremy’s self-image seemed positive, unconsciously he carried with him the deeply ingrained, buried sense of himself as rejected and unlovable, and continued to use the power he found in his mind to abolish this perception of himself. Jeremy never sought help for this issue, since he believed that fantasizing was harmless, and that he was no different than other men.
Jeremy frequently fantasized about Zooey, a single co-worker at the same firm. He had made a commitment to himself never to let on to her about these fantasies, knowing that doing so could put him at greater risk for acting on them. Jeremy described his relationship with Zooey as neutral. There had never been any flirtation between them and Jeremy never felt any special connection with her other than a private attraction.
Eventually, Zooey decided to leave the firm for another job. As the two of them were saying goodbye, Zooey suddenly confessed to Jeremy that she had been fantasizing about him over the last several years. To his surprise, Jeremy found himself excitedly blurting out that he had actually been fantasizing about her too. At that juncture Zooey reached out to him to say goodbye, kissing him on the lips. Despite having breached his own boundaries, Jeremy rationalized to himself that he was still safe, since he had informed Zooey that he was happily married.
Previously, Jeremy’s fantasies had seemed safely compartmentalized. However, Zooey’s unexpected confession instantly dissolved the fragile line separating fantasy and reality, making Jeremy’s fantasy suddenly come true. In this confusing zone where the two worlds blend, acting in ways previously contained to the fantasy world can feel instinctive. After all, one has already “been there” in one’s mind.
Jeremy found himself drawn into in an excited, infatuated state that felt irresistible. Following the farewell incident, he and Zooey exchanged various texts and phone calls, a new occurrence. Jeremy said that he didn’t want to have an affair, and had no intention of doing so. Nevertheless, he was reluctant to follow his therapist’s recommendation to cut off contact entirely and make the ending of his relationship with Zooey final.
How Therapy Helps Us Focus on Adult Self and Values
Therapy focused on helping Jeremy access a more integrated sense of himself that included his mature, adult self and the values that were important to him. He began to recognize that despite his words to the contrary to Zooey, he was unconsciously encouraging the continuation of a fantasy between them, even knowing that Zooey secretly hoped that they might be together some day. Jeremy became aware of how easily he could hurt Zooey and, in the process, blindly destroy his marriage and family – which, to him, mattered more than anything.
In an excited state, Jeremy had lost touch with himself and his “higher mind,” including his executive functions, which enable brakes, judgment and thoughtful consideration of consequences. Therapy brought into focus aspects of himself that had been compartmentalized and thereby blocked from experience.
Soon Jeremy began to feel scared — a positive sign that reality was starting to intrude. With a greater awareness of internal conflict and fear, Jeremy gained the strength and perspective to end contact with Zooey. Upon doing so, Zooey suddenly showed another side of herself. She became enraged and threatening, telling Jeremy what she “really” thought of him. That shattered the fantasy entirely and catapulted Jeremy into full-blown reality.
Fantasies can provide a reliable source of comfort and stimulation. When people are not reliable sources of comfort for children, fantasies can become compulsive and repetitive, developing into symptoms. These symptoms may continue into adulthood, as in Jeremy’s case, even when such comfort may no longer be needed by the adult self, and when real sources of love are available.
Fantasy Provides the Fuel for Affairs
Fantasy provides the fuel for affairs. It helps lead up to them, it perpetuates them, and it makes it difficult to back away or let go. Failure to believe that one is caught in a fantasy is a central driving force. Swept away by the addictive, intoxicating power of the “rush,” romantic fantasy is confused with the complexity of intimate relationships and real life. Men who have difficulty emotionally letting go of an affair even after having cut off contact typically are fueling this process by continuing to fantasize about the relationship.
Recent MRI research shows that during the infatuation state of romance, or fantasy, the brain shows the same changes as does the brain on cocaine. It leads to continuous pleasure-seeking and immediate gratification. Even when Jeremy gleaned some awareness that he was moving into a danger zone, infatuation’s effect was like that of a drug, making it difficult for him to put on the brakes.
Typically, men who seek therapy because they are having an affair are conventional, well-meaning, and moral, often with life-long histories of unidentified emotional neglect. Their ingrained patterns of being overly responsible, self-sacrificing and accommodating make them especially vulnerable to needing to break out and seek relief from a feeling of burden and lack of vitality. As their weakened threshold of restraint is overwhelmed by temptation, it’s not long before they are headed for a freefall.
Affairs and Fantasies Are a Way to Protest Adult Responsibility
Affairs and fantasies provide an escape from reality. In the fantasy world, the unrequited childhood need to be mirrored, admired and merged with another is indulged. It produces the intoxicating feeling the child never experienced, and leads to the false belief that this euphoric feeling is something real and sustainable in the present. Giving up the fantasy can be like breaking an addiction, and can activate previously unconscious feelings of loss and emptiness.
Identifying and anticipating risky behaviors protects us from being overtaken by feelings and reduces opportunities for trouble. This strategy requires being “onto” ourselves about our vulnerability to falling prey to temptation. It involves making intentional decisions to set clear boundaries and limits on ourselves, and distancing from behaviors and situations that increase risk — including fantasy. Alternatively, denying risk, avoiding thoughtful consideration of what’s at stake, minimizing small boundary infractions, or overestimating one’s resolve all set the stage for flirting with danger and tempting fate.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
« Previous Entries