Attachment Theory In Practice: Avoidant, Anxious & Beyond

Attachment Theory In Practice: Avoidant, Anxious & Beyond

 

Attachment theory in practice helps us understand and respond better to the needs of humans in the context of their life and relationships. It is focused on connections between people, especially in long-term relationships, including romantic partners and bonds between a parent and a child. 

Before going deeper into learning about attachment theory in practice and naming the benefits it provides for clients, it is essential to understand what attachment is first. Once we know this, we can understand how attachment theory in practice has an impact on different types of relationships.

What is Attachment?

Attachment can best be described as an emotional bond one person has with another. The first bonds we form as children are with our caregivers, and it has an enormous impact on how we connect with other people throughout our lives. Attachment is also valuable when keeping the infant close to its mother, which improves its chances of survival. 

Behavioral theories of attachment suggest that we learn to attach, while other theories challenge that idea by proposing that children are born with a natural drive to dorm attachment with their caregivers. 

It is more likely that the children who maintain close to their attachment figure and receive comfort and protection from them will survive to adulthood more easily than those who don’t. Yet, defining successful attachment is not as simple as it seems. Behaviorists will suggest it is the food that leads to forming an attachment behavior, while others propose nurturance and responsiveness instead of food. 

In attachment theory, the central theme is that primary caregivers, available and responsive to the needs of an infant, will allow it to develop a sense of security. The child knows that its caregiver is dependable and that forms a secure base for the infant to later explore the world. 

Stages of Attachment

Many researchers have analyzed the number of attachment relationships children form from an early age. This led to the attachment theory accepting four different phases of attachment which help therapists and mental health professionals to provide adequate care and treatment.  

  • Pre-Attachment Stage – Up to three months, infants will not demonstrate any particular attachment to their caregivers. The common signals of an infant, crying and fussing, will attract the attention of their caregivers and the infant’s positive response will motivate the caregiver to stay close. 


  • Indiscriminate Attachment – Between 6 weeks to 7 months, the infant will start showing preferences for its primary and secondary caregivers. During this period, children develop trust that their caregivers will respond to their needs. They accept care from others, yet they are beginning to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar faces, providing a more positive response to the primary caregiver. 


  • Discriminate Attachment – From 7 to 11 months, an infant will show a strong attachment and preference for one specific person. When separated from that person, a child will protest and show symptoms of separation anxiety, while also displaying anxiety around unfamiliar people, known as stranger anxiety.

  • Multiple Attachments – When 9 months old, a child will start forming strong emotional bonds with their secondary caregivers as well, so their attachment will extend beyond the primary attachment figure. This might include the father, older siblings, or grandparents. 

Attachment Factors

As much as developing attachment towards someone seems like a pretty straightforward process, two main factors can influence how these attachments develop. One of them is an opportunity for attachment, in which children who don’t have a primary care figure may fail to develop the trust needed to create an attachment. 

The other factor is quality caregiving, which refers to caregivers responding quickly and consistently, so a child will learn they can depend on those responsible for their care. To me, this is the essential basis for any attachment. 

Attachment Patterns

When looking closer into it, there are four main patterns of attachment:

  • Ambivalent attachment: This child will be very distressed when their parent leaves. It is also one of the most uncommon patterns in the United States. As a result of parents being absent in a certain way, a child cannot depend on their primary caregiver to be around when they need them. 
  • Avoidant attachment: A child with an avoidant attachment tends to avoid its parents or caregivers, displaying no preference between its caregiver and an unfamiliar person. This attachment pattern is often a result of abusive or neglectful caregivers and makes children avoid seeking help later in life because they were punished for doing it with their caregivers. 
  • Disorganized attachment: A child with a disorganized attachment will show a confusing combination of behavior, seeming confused, disoriented, or dazed. They might even seem to avoid or resist the parent and their lack of attachment is typically connected to inconsistent caregiver behavior. Here, caregivers may even serve as both a source of comfort and fear, resulting in disorganized behavior later in life as well.
  • Secure attachment: A child depending on their caregivers show distress each time they are separated and joy when reunited with them. Even if the child seems upset, they feel safe because they know their caregiver will return. When feeling scared, a securely attached child will comfortably look for reassurance from caregivers. 

Attachment Theory in Practice

Understanding attachment theory in practice can be challenging. That’s why whether you or someone you love is experiencing attachment issues, the suggestion is to consider a mental health professional. Because we start forming bonds from an early age, it is often difficult to understand why our current behavior. And beliefs are affected by something that happened decades ago.

That said, regardless of the attachment pattern mentioned above, therapy can help every individual to learn a set of techniques that will facilitate their life, especially the aspect of relationships. Even if a person suffered trauma in their childhood and has attachment issues from it in adulthood. There are types of therapy that specifically help patients looking to improve their romantic lives, yet also bonds they form with everyone else in their life. 

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About Life Coaching and Therapy

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a therapy and coaching practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible. Multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systematically-trained and licensed therapists!

Get to know our founder and owner, Amanda Pasciucco, (a.k.a. The Sex Healer) a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). And an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist (CST) that has developed innovative therapy programs and therapy videos that get results.

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help all clients who visit us for a variety of personal, relationship, intimacy and sex problems.

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs.

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How To Survive In An Unhappy Marriage

Learning How To Survive In An Unhappy Marriage

Learning How To Survive In An Unhappy Marriage

 

If you ask your friend how to survive in an unhappy marriage, they will probably tell you to get a divorce, yet things in life are rarely this black and white. After all, you enjoy some of the things in your marriage. And you’re not willing to give up on them just like that. Maybe you enjoy the family life you built with your kids, or maybe it’s the fun you two have each time on vacation. Whatever it is, marriage isn’t something you just eliminate from your life without putting the effort to save it first.

So, instead of being torn between the two options – leave or stay – you should go back to the reasons why you got married in the first place and what you used to love and admire about your spouse. This process takes time, and if your marriage is something you once cared about. You should never leave just because you feel unhappy at the moment.

Go Back To The Beginning

To understand the source or sources of your unhappiness, you will need to figure out when you started feeling like this. For instance, it might be that you started feeling unhappy when you quit your full-time job and decided to become a stay-at-home parent. This might have led to putting high expectations on your spouse to participate more in family activities. Or romantic moments with you. However, due to their work, they were not able to live up to your expectations.

It might be that your spouse became distant due to work problems and that the two of you stopped communicating and being intimate. There are countless reasons why someone might start feeling unhappy in their marriage, yet the first step to solving it is to determine when and why it all started. And it doesn’t have to be just reason or one person that leads to you feeling like this, it might be a combination. 

So, make sure you ask yourself what changed in your marriage that is making you feel like this. If you don’t have a clear answer, make a comparison of before and after. Go into the most fulfilled phase of your marriage and reminisce on all the good things that made you happy in it. Then, do the same for now. What makes you unhappy? Are you able to separate expectations you put on your partner and reality? Which part are you responsible for?

Accepting Your Responsibility For Your Unhappiness

Before going any further, nobody says that it’s your fault that your partner is neglecting you, being distant from you. Or not hearing you when you talk about your needs. With that being said, we have to be aware that there is a certain amount of responsibility we have for each situation in our life. In marriage, as we’re so connected to our spouses, we often forget that we are two very different individuals. Yes, you might have the same plans for the future, the same values in life, and the same friends or activities. However, you don’t share one personality.

So, instead of blaming the other person for the way you feel, how about finding something that will make you feel satisfied and passionate about something new? It finally might be the time to take that pottery class, join yoga classes in your neighborhood. Or start learning Spanish or French. Think about the things that you always postponed because you never had time to do them, and decide to do them now. 

It doesn’t have to be anything revolutionary, it can be simple walks in the evenings with your best friend to unwind from a stressful day. And have a few moments for yourself. Once you focus more on working toward your own happiness. You will have fewer expectations of others to make you happy. 

Focus Only On Your Marriage

Only once you have taken care of yourself and implemented things that make you happy. You should take a new look at your marriage. There is a chance that the reason you were so unhappy in your marriage had nothing to do with your marriage. Or, it might be that even in your most fulfilled moments. You still don’t feel that marriage is the best option for you. Whatever your ultimate decision is, the important thing is to make a decision from a position of calm, happiness, and strength. Instead of frustration, sadness, or fear. 

Now, that you feel so energized and your life is filled with things that you enjoy doing. How does your marriage feel? If your partner is at his low, are you able to help them? Are you willing to motivate them to work on their own happiness, just like you worked on finding yours? 

You are married to a person, not a thing. What we often forget is that we all change and evolve, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Your partner might be stuck due to certain issues, yet with the right help, they might become again the person you fell in love with. That help can come in numerous shapes and forms. They can see how you changed and be inspired to do the same. They can start communicating openly about their feelings and what is troubling them. Often, people reach out to therapists to provide them with the tools they need to feel in control of their life and satisfied with what they have.

Saving A Marriage

If you’re determined to save your marriage, you should know it will not be easy. Everything that has unmeasurable value to us takes a lot of hard work and love for it to work. If you’re not sure whether you should stay and try to save it, think about how many months or years you have been unhappy. Compared to that, spending a few months trying to make your marriage work. While also seeking your own happiness, doesn’t seem like a long period, right? At least try to make it work by doing the best you can. And then you will know you truly tried everything. 

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Midlife crisis affairs

Midlife Crisis Affair: How To Build Trust Again

Midlife Crisis Affairs: How To Build Trust Again

 

Midlife crisis affairs are more common than you think, yet this still doesn’t make them easy to forgive. With so much fear around affairs in relationships and marriage, we tend to forget learning tools on how to deal with an affair if it happens, regardless of our final decision. Not to mention even just the fear of being cheated on can destroy healthy, long-term relationships.  

Once midlife crisis affairs do happen, both partners experience a wide range of emotions which are making it difficult for them to communicate rationally and find the best solution for the situation. No doubt, this is one of the most challenging moments of each relationship, and learning how to approach it right is crucial to maintaining your mental and emotional health.

Don’t Blame The Affair

If your partner had or is having an affair, try not to focus all of your efforts on blaming the affair for the troubles in your marriage. In most cases, the problems started way before the partner decided to be unfaithful. It’s definitely the easier route to express all your emotions towards that affair, however, is it the right one?

For those who are wanting to continue in their marriage, a reality check is inevitable. How long has it been since you and your partner have lost intimacy? When was the last time you went out on a date and just enjoyed your time as a couple? All these things affect intimacy, and blaming something or someone else for it will not make that problem go away. Yes, your partner was or is unfaithful, and that’s not okay, yet what you can learn from this experience is what will help you overcome it. 

Have a Long, Honest Conversation

Most people will be stuck in this situation and repeating questions such as ‘What was he/she like?’, ‘What was the sex like?’, ‘What does he/she give to you that I don’t?’, however, these questions are not constructive. Instead of letting jealousy take control over your actions, take a deep breath and ask questions that might save your marriage and help you do it right this time. 

The sooner you understand it’s not about who is to blame, it’s about what was wrong in the relationship that affected your intimacy. So, you should be curious about how your partner was feeling in the marriage, and what they need from you in order to feel happy and loved. Try to understand how your partner felt and what were their reasons for starting an affair, and avoid making them feel ashamed and guilty. 

Determine The Next Steps

Keep in mind that nobody expects you to forget about the affair immediately. It will take time to rebuild trust and intimacy in your marriage, so you’ll need to think of it as a process instead of a sudden change. It might even happen if you start the relationship completely from the beginning. Many married couples lost their connection years ago and they are completely unaware of what excites their partner, what are their recent interests, and what they dream about. After all, being overwhelmed with responsibilities will sometimes take away these valuable conversations from us.

So, start dating again, seduce each other, and share what you both need to make this work. You will need to set clear boundaries that will avoid additional complications, such as how you feel about having sex immediately, should you go to family gatherings when working through this affair, and if you should live separately during this period. 

Don’t Involve Others In Your Marriage

When your spouse cheats on you, you will probably first feel betrayed. This feeling might motivate you to reach out to all of your friends and family members to talk bad about your partner and turn them into a villain. As much as it is good to have someone you can talk to about how you are feeling about the affair, involving too many people might create a more complex situation than you can handle right now.

Avoid working on your marital problems outside your marriage. The person you should talk to is your partner. If you feel sad or afraid, share that with them. Understanding how you feel is what can bring your partner close to you again. Don’t think of this situation as a battle where one person comes out as a winner and the other one as a loser. You are both trying to save your marriage, and if you succeed together, there is no greater win than that.

If you become suspicious of your partner’s actions, call them out on it. Don’t fall into plotting conspiracy theories and scenarios that will only cause additional damage. However, make sure that you feel capable of giving your partner a new opportunity before trying to work things out and then using every chance you get to be jealous or suspicious of everything they do. 

Try Couple’s Therapy

Most couples who have been through a midlife crisis affair will need guidance from a professional. After all, it’s not easy to deal with all these emotions and try to make your marriage work, so many decide to go into couple’s therapy. A counselor will help you and your partner have more constructive conversations which will be beneficial for yourself and your relationship.

It will take time to heal and that’s completely fine, as long as you’re moving in a direction towards healing and not destruction. Therapy provides you both with a safe space to express your emotions and also gives you tools that can help you build trust again. The time you both dedicate to therapy should motivate you to make the most of having someone experienced in this topic to help you. Avoid treating it like a battlefield where you’re the victim, and your partner takes all the fault.

If you’re certain that you wish to rebuild your marriage and connect with your partner again, you will need to make that leap of faith and start clean. No resentment, no blame, no destruction. If you want to save your marriage, everything that is not working in favor of it should stay in the past.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

How To Catch A Cheater

How To Catch A Cheater

How To Catch A Cheater

 

If you’ve even been suspicious of your partner’s whereabouts, knowing how to catch a cheater should be a part of your love skillset. Usually, when your gut is telling you there is something wrong, it is because there is, yet it’s not easy to make decisions solely based on that, right? You will maybe notice subtle changes in your partner’s appearance, from being absent from home to being very protective of their phone or computer.

Let’s face it, with all these dating apps around us, it’s quite easy to find another person and even easier to cover your tracks. However, there is still a lot one can do to find out whether their partner is cheating on them or not. From looking closely at how they are with their phone to analyzing your intimate moments, here is what you will need to do if you want to find out if your partner is a cheater. 

 

Study Their Behavior When on Phone

Your friends might advise you to start checking your partner’s phone when they are not around and as much as this could provide you with more information, try to avoid it. Once you start going through their messages, phone calls and social media accounts, you will become addicted to the idea of checking it constantly. Even if nothing is happening and your partner is not cheating on you, you will be more focused on going through their phone than enjoying a beautiful moment with them. 

Instead, try to be more observant of their behavior when they are on their phone. What has changed? Maybe they are spending more time on their phone than usual or they are going to another room to take the calls. Be direct, ask who they are texting with or who is calling them, yet avoid sounding suspicious or jealous. Also, think about the time this person is calling your partner. For instance, if their coworker is calling them late and you know they usually don’t work at these hours, ask why they are calling and if everything is alright.

Another trick that a cheater will usually use is to change the name of the person they are seeing to something that will not raise suspicions, such as John from legal or Sarah from yoga. That’s why you must consider the time of the interaction and how your partner behaves before, during and after that interaction.

 

Review Their Social Media Accounts

Again a big ‘NO’ to hacking social media accounts as you will not be able to stop yourself and soon, you’ll be reading conversations your partner had with their ex five years ago and become upset about it. Just by visiting their social media accounts, you will be able to find a clue of infidelity if your partner is a person that shares a lot of details about their life on Facebook or Instagram. Of course, don’t expect they will publish a photo with the other person in the background, yet you might spot some other things.

For those who like to impress on social media, once they meet a new person and want to impress them, they will likely publish selfies, gym photos, their car, apartment or anything else that might show them as a great catch. You will probably not be able to find likes or comments from the other person on your partner’s profile, yet once you see they have changed their act on social media, it’s typically for a good reason.

This type of person will avoid publishing photos of you two, although they have maybe done it previously. So, take a cute photo with your partner and ask them nicely to post it on their social media just to see their reaction. If they post it yet don’t feel good about it, maybe it’s time to start being more observant of other signs of infidelity. If your partner doesn’t care much about social media, looking for signs there will be a waste of your time.

 

Changes in Lifestyle

Your partner will probably not buy a new car when they start seeing someone, yet other smaller things might change. For instance, they might purchase new clothes and spend more time getting ready to go to work or for dinner with friends. They might enroll in the gym even though they never showed interest in it before. Anything that doesn’t correlate with their personality and their personal objectives, be suspicious of it. 

Also, changes in your relationships might happen due to another person. If they always had dinner with you after a long day at work and suddenly, they are no longer interested or available, your partner could be cheating you. Ask yourself also what other aspects of your relationship have changed. Do they still try to spend their free time with you or have they found another hobby that’s taking most of their time? Are they still talking about the same plans you both had for the future?

 

Loss of Intimacy

If your partner is seeing another person, it will be quite challenging to keep the passion alive at home and in the streets. Most of the time, the cheater will have less motivation to have sex with their partner or to even talk in bed before going to sleep. Think about any of the intimate moments you used to share and enjoy and analyze if something changed. 

For instance, you both used to love drinking coffee in the morning and talking about everything, and now you cannot remember when was the last time you did that. If they are avoiding spending time with you, something is happening. Yet, don’t jump to conclusions. Make sure you are not feeling insecure due to your personal issues and whatever you decide to do, don’t attack your partner.

The reason why you shouldn’t attack is also that it will be different to study their behavior and body language. When someone is caught cheating, it’s never a pleasant situation, so you should be calm and rational to notice all the possible signs. And don’t skip the conversation and break up with them, each person deserves a chance to explain. Whatever the outcome, make sure you do all you can from your end.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

How To Break Up With Someone Over Text

How To Break Up With Someone Over Text

How To Break Up With Someone Over Text

 

How to break up with someone over text and not hurt their feelings? Sorry to disappoint you: it’s almost impossible to break up with someone, whether it’s in person, over text or a phone call, and not to impact the way they feel. With that being said, there are several approaches you can choose to break up with someone in a respectful way, even if it’s over a text message. 

So, if you’re currently in a relationship that is making you unhappy, learn here how to kindly break up with that person and give yourself a chance for a fresh start.

 

When should you break up with someone over text?

As much as you might think that this is not the best method to put an end to a relationship, there are many situations where it’s one of the most efficient and safest ways. For those who have been in a toxic or maybe violent relationship and their partner simply lacks comprehension and empathy, it’s almost naive to expect you’ll be able to break up with them successfully in person.

In general, if you have a partner that will not accept your decision on ending the relationship, you should always choose to inform them over text. Otherwise, you might get stuck in endless discussions which will lead nowhere. 

Also, if you went only on a few dates and you’re not sure whether this can be called a relationship yet you are certain you want to put a stop to it, text them about it. Making big announcements for something that is still in the casual phase of dating is a drama that everyone wants to avoid. 

If you have been in a long relationship with your partner and it’s no longer working out, don’t break the news to them over a text message. You can invite them for coffee or a walk in your text and do it respectfully in person. You wouldn’t want to be left by your partner of three years over a simple, plain text either, right?

 

How to craft your break-up text message?

If you have decided to break up with someone over text, you will need to be kind, yet straightforward. Don’t send an extra short or long text as they will not deliver the message properly. Instead, follow this simple break up formula:

  1. Start with a compliment. Say what you loved about the relationship or the person e.g. long talk, fun road trip or their kindness. Write it from your heart so your partner knows you were as honest as you could have been.
  2. Explain your reason. You are breaking up with them for a certain reason or more of them. Make sure you explain why that is the deal breaker for you.
  3. Wish them all the best. Consider that this is your last message to them and write what you wish for them. Avoid the sarcastic, angry or negative tone. It simply didn’t work out and that’s fine!

And what happens if you are trying to get out of a really unhealthy relationship? In reality, your text should follow the same structure yet instead of focusing on complimenting the person, you should firmly explain why you wish to end this relationship. Show you are not looking to discuss things and that you’re not expecting a reply.

 

Can you break up and still be friends?

This doesn’t depend so much on your chosen break up method as it depends on you and your partner. For instance, maybe it was a blind date that didn’t go well, yet you both decided to give it another chance. After three or four times, you decide to end it. If they agree there was no spark between the two of you, and they wish to keep you in their lives, there is a pretty good chance you two will stay friends.

If this is something you want, you should write it clearly in your text. This is a good example of how to break up and show you still wish to be friends:

Hi Alex, it was great going to your favorite restaurant the other night. I had so much fun, yet, from my end – there’s no spark. It seems like it’s the same for you, am I right? I would love to continue having fun as friends!

If you’re looking to be friends with them, make sure your messages are written in a positive tone and that you are not focusing on the breaking up part. Highlight what you really like about them and keep it light and breezy!

 

What do you need to avoid when sending a break up text?

Never broken up with someone over text before? Don’t worry, it’s actually not that difficult. From all those who are already experts in this field, these are the common mistakes we gathered that they wish never happened. Make sure they never happen to you!

  • Don’t swear or insult. Besides being rude, you will show that your decision is not rational as it comes from anger.
  • Don’t be sarcastic or cynical. Breakups are already uncomfortable without comments which will make the person feel even worse.
  • Don’t write essays. Writing long breakup messages can seem like you’re sharing your point of view and asking them to share theirs. Keep it short!
  • Don’t send multiple texts. Send everyone in one message. Sending a few in a row can seem like you’re not so certain in your decision.
  • Don’t block them. As much as it helps you not to know if they replied, be reasonable and don’t treat them immediately like your worst enemy.
  • Don’t finish with a question. You are breaking up with them so your message shouldn’t be an opening for a discussion. Be affirmative.

If this is your first time you will break up with someone over text, just think about the text you would prefer if someone was breaking up with you. It doesn’t have to be poetic, beautiful and with perfect grammar, it just needs to be from the heart and with all the respect that person deserves!

 

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Gray Divorce

Gray Divorce On The Rise

 

Recently the New York Times discussed a new phenomena known as “Gray Divorce”. Gray Divorce is a trend being seen of people over 50 getting divorced. And seemingly correlating with “empty nests” (after the children leave the home) and a variety of other factors.

The gray divorce trend seems to indicate that divorce rates generally are decreasing. However, among “boomers” and older folks, the divorce rates are increasing. Gray divorce means that long-term marriages of decades and are now divorcing at higher rates than expected.

The issues faced by this age group getting divorced overlap with reasons the general populations divorces. However, the impact is different. If you divorce younger, the financial and social impacts can be different.

 

Social and Financial Impacts

In divorces where people are older, we are seeing really challenging financial and social experiences.

Financially, many people at this stage in life are close to or in retirement. Which is making it extremely difficult to divide assets and can drastically shift plans people have to retire. If the couple has already retired, a divorce during retirement reverberates into a some really difficult and significant changes in each partner’s standard of living. Some people have to return to work or grieve what they anticipated retirement to look like for them.

The social impact is also unique in gray divorce as couple’s often have an established social network or already experiencing a reduction of socialization. Either of which can create some difficult circumstances for navigating a divorce. Often couples divorcing end up having friends and family choosing sides which can reduce social contact. And connection for each partner in the process. And increase tension and conflict at gatherings and functions where both parties are there.

 

Retirement and “The Empty Nest”

Retirement and the “empty nest” can create a significant change within the relationship. Both things individually are monumental shifts in people’s lives.

For years, work and family have been the focus in the relationship and when both those things shift couple’s are finding less satisfaction and less in common. This can the experience of “falling out of love” or wanting to different futures as it comes to their “golden years.”

Often, we see that the couple has focused much of their resources on work and family and over the years did not grow and change together. As children moved out and they retired this becomes more noticeable as there is less “distraction” from the couple’s relationship themselves.

Couple’s report that they have become more disconnected and their life became much more quiet or calm, leaving the relationship and marriage feeling quiet and disconnected.

 

New Relationships – Partnering / Re-partnering

Whether the new relationship is the catalyst for the divorce (engaging in emotional or physical infidelity). Or if the new relationship comes after the divorce there is quite a bit of challenges. If one or both people have new relationships, because of the long term nature of the previous relationship (or marriage) it is often more difficult for the family and friends to adjust to new partners. Often times, we see further conflict or tension in the family and community system as people engage in new relationships.

In the event of infidelity, the partner who engaged in the infidelity has the most difficulty, as they are blamed for “breaking up the family”. Unfortunately, this results in children, family, and friends that may refuse to be part of the relationship if they continue to see affair partner.

For the partner who did not engage in the affair, there is often varying levels of trauma that occur. They often received a lot of support. However, they may struggle with the emotional and relational components moving forward.

Regardless of how the new relationships started, this is extremely difficult in the event of a “gray divorce.”

 

Trauma and Grief

As you age, grief becomes an ever present part of life. Grief is the process of loss and could be a divorce, death, unemployment, and / or loss of connection.

In the case of gray divorce, it is the loss of what you expected in the “golden years”. Sometimes, loneliness is a common feeling for those grieving.

This grief and depression may be symptoms of greater trauma in life transitions. For example, when you are over 50 and getting divorced, there may be fear. That fear, in addition to the massive shifting, can create levels of trauma and difficulty. People going through divorce are recommended to seek therapy, and this population is no exception.

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs.

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Being Understood

The Importance of Being Understood Instead of Right Fighting in Relationships

The Importance of Being Understood Instead of Right Fighting in Relationships

 

A common issue we hear from our clients is communication, their lack of being understood and “right fighting” for a particular perspective. 

 

Many couples will say in a session “we can’t communicate.” 

 

Clinically, this may signify that the therapist will “translate” each individual perspective within the psychotherapy session.

 

Often, it isn’t about “being right;” rather, it is about not understanding or hearing, and thus, an individual is missing out on their needs of being understood, seen, and heard.

 

Yes, we can teach mirrored reflective listening, empathic and non-violent communication, yet at the core, all human beings have an innate desire to be heard and seen. 

 

As humans, we communicate ALL the time, through verbal and non-verbal ways. 

 

It is often not that we do not know how to communicate; it’s that we are not collaborating or using compassion in the ways we communicate with one another. 

 

Therefore, we are right fighting, instead of collaborating in connection. 

 

Right Fighting

 

Most often, I notice people in relationships who are focusing on “winning” or being “smarter” or “right.” I see this in romantic relationships, parent child relationships, friendships, etc. I often say to the people I am working with “I am wondering why you feel like you have to convince me” or my personal favorite “I am not a judge or jury!’

 

Usually people are surprised when I say those things and try to redirect them in session to have other goals (such as connection, problem solving, or conflict resolution).

 

All too often in our culture we are more focused on being heard than hearing what the other person is saying. This is usually rooted in our own personal traumas or feelings of powerlessness in our life. So instead of focusing on fixing the issue, we get stuck in the “facts” and our own perspective.

 

I call it “right fighting” and others call it “gridlock” or something else. Either way, it is one of the most common dynamics I see between people in my office. We are all guilty of this. I know this is something I have worked extremely hard on, myself. It is not easy work, but it is important work.

 

Inner Aspects Method (IAM) for Being Understood

 

One of the most transformative ways to support is utilizing a trauma-informed approach such as the Inner Aspects Method (IAM). 

 

IAM is an identity-affirming, trauma-focused approach used to increase insight to the various parts of our personality. Mostly, it helps us understand why we act the way we do. It focuses predominantly on bringing consciousness (or presence of mind) or awareness to what we are doing and why we are doing it.

 

At the core of the IAM model is compassion and collaboration, which ultimately enhances people’s connection to themselves and others. 

 

When an individual slows down what is happening to notice the aspect of themselves that is engaged, it provides more clarity. When this happens, individuals are able to notice the need under their emotions and thoughts, and then have a choice. The choice can be to alter and adapt a new strategy.

 

For those specifically engaged in “right fighting,” recognize that “being right” is a strategy you are using because a need is not being met.

 

Compassion Instead of Shame

 

There is nothing wrong with you, it is important to notice you have a choice in finding another strategy though… a strategy that can connect you.

 

When each individual in a disagreement is able to connect to their underlying need not being met, it allows for faster conflict resolution. 

 

When realigning the goal from “being right” to connection and collaboration, there is greater ability for joy, attunement, and respect. 

 

Finding a strategy to effectively and adaptively meet all needs is a healthier model of engaging than most individuals have been taught. 

 

The goal of this is that the “problem is the problem,” rather than the person. 

 

If you want to be right more than you desire to resolve the issue, that may be something to look at in individual counseling. 

 

Recognizing the line of what is your responsibility and what is others is important in addressing issues about communication. So, use these tips to make long-lasting relationships work. 

 

Strategies to Improve Being Understood:

 

Here are some quick tips on how to address this issue of right fighting in relationships right now!

  • PAUSE what you are doing and SLOW down!
  • Take a deep breath! There is a body of research describing the importance of taking a deep breath to help calm your physiological reaction 
  • Take a break if you need to. 
    • During this break, find an alternative strategy to calm your body. 
    • Consider a stretch, a calming app, meditate, listen to music, write, drink some water, do something active.
    • Note: this break should not be TOO long – no more than 30 minutes ideally
  • Reflect on what need is not being met.
  • Find a way to communicate that to others and ask yourself “which part of me am I responding from?”
  • Refocus your goal in the conversation to connection, collaboration, or conflict resolution
  • Slow the conversation down
  • Reflect back what the other person is saying – this is validation. VALIDATION IS NOT AGREEING it is just showing someone you are listening
  • APPRECIATE, LISTEN, REFLECT, BREATH, RESPOND
  • Rinse and Repeat as needed

STOPP Skill

If you cannot self regulate within the 30 minute break, please reach out to a mental health professional to help.

 

If you are interested in learning more about engaging in the IAM, we are happy to help you.

 

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

The Inner Aspects Method

The Inner Aspects Method (IAM):  A Methodology to Improve Communication and Satisfaction in Couples

The Inner Aspects Method (IAM): A Methodology to Improve Communication and Satisfaction in Couples

No one can make you do anything as an adult, unless there is physical force. Don’t believe it? Think about it…

Now is an intense time; locally, domestic violence is up 20%.

It’s time to learn a new way to teach others how to communicate.
Using the Inner Aspects Method changed my life and revolutionized how I practice with my clients. 
See a brief demo here: https://youtu.be/oxAOkI0clyI

If you are desiring to dive deep into therapeutic practices with your online or in person clients clients,  using the inner aspects model, created by Francesca Gentille, will help! 

The Inner Aspects Method

There are many couples counseling techniques: 

  • Imago Therapy
  • Gottman Method
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
  • Narrative Therapy
  • Couple-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Internal Family Systems (IFS) for Couples

The problem with these models is that it misses the pervasive cultural trauma that most of us have. So, if you aren’t looking at  childhood traumas and cultural conditioning of romantic relationships within the media, you are missing out on how to help couples. 

Actually, the problem is in the interaction with others, and specifically the systemic dynamic within the romantic partnership.  

We compare ourselves to what we see online, hear in music, or watch. We believe that other romantic relationships are going better and that they are having a more passionate intimate life, so then we begin to justify our learned behaviors (yelling, shaming, avoiding, and criticizing). 

Even if the best intentions in romantic relationships are acted out of fear, resentment, judgment, scarcity, or rage, these strategies for connection do not result in long-term positive outcomes for individual success or relationship sustainability. 

However, empowered strength with compassion, learning boundaries, and working on building new skill sets is what the Inner Aspects Method can help you model. 

For Counselors and Therapists

When you counsel your clients, do you wonder how clients justify the shaming, blaming, and yelling? Or, do you question that they criticize their partner or relatives in front of you? 

When in a “child” part of us, we believe that our only option is verbal violence, or even physical aggression. 

Even though our clients often assume that they know why someone said or did a certain thing, that is not true and is often a sign of black and white thinking patterns – the thinking of a young internal wounded part of ourselves, and even an inner rebellious streak we have. 

Refresher! 

No one can know for certain what is in the heart and mind of another. 

Most of us were not trained in how to listen with care and compassion to the variety of our own Inner Voices and diverse feelings and intentions. Even in graduate programs, sometimes, the nuances of working with the inner psyche is not addressed. 

This model helps clinicians uncover for themselves, and their clients, new skill sets! 

  • Collaborate for wins
  • Make requests that get responses
  • Express a boundary with compassion and firmness
  • Find the solutions to problems that trauma in childhood may leave behind

Conclusion

In this model, we can teach our clients to give empathy and compassion while holding compassion for their partner. Therefore, we can look for the win-win.

The most inspiring couples in therapy collaborate in uncovering, discovering, and recovering the many INNER ASPECTS that they have on the inside. Learning to bring love, understanding and compassion to themselves as a foundation for how they interact with their beloved.

If you want to learn more about these techniques to apply to your own life and your practice working with individuals and couples, please click this link to learn more.

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Conversation Starters For Couples

Conversation Starters For Couples

Conversation Starters For Couples

 

It can get pretty awkward in a dynamic, so we created conversation starters for couples as a way to keep the intimacy alive. 

 

In the beginning of being a couple, conversation starters are more about getting to understand what you both are looking for out of a partner. Then, as you bond, conversation starters are continuously important to increase a sense of spark between you. 

 

No matter where you are in relating, a purposeful conversation starter can help you get closer and increase your level of intimacy. 

 

How Long Have You Identified as a Couple? 

 

The days, weeks, months or years of being in a couple sometimes determines what you share with them. However, some couples go deep quickly!

Conversation Starters For Couples

If you just met a few days or weeks ago, consider asking questions about how much time they have in a week. Consider asking what they believe a romantic relationship is. 

 

At this point, you’re still getting to know one another and you can’t really tell if they are someone that is worth trusting yet. 

 

It even becomes more difficult when you’re meeting someone for the first time because you are worried what they may say.

 

Conversations at this point may range from general questions about your partner, such as:

  • What are your hobbies and how long have you done them?
  • Did you get nominated for a superlative in high school? 
  • What is your view about a long-term relationship without intimacy?
  • What are your goals for the next 6 months, and then 5 years? 
  • How long have you had a best friend?

 

If your relationship has gotten to a point where you can trust your partner, asking them some more intimate questions is important. 

 

Do you trust them to tell you the truth when asked certain questions?

 

Before starting a conversation with your partner, be sure that they trust you enough to share information. Especially when you’ve been together for months. 

 

The truth is, some people may be too reserved to start a conversation because they aren’t sure of what their partner would think of them or if there was any sense in what they’re saying.

 

Starting an intimate conversation is often a great way to tell if you’ve gained their trust. Pay attention to how they react when you ask specific questions. 

 

Do a reflection of your conversation and write down more questions to ask them.

 

You don’t need to put down the questions in your journal. Yet, you may want to put it in your notes on your phone to remind yourself of the important information. 

 

Naturally, lots of information will be exchanged during the answer and question sessions, and your personalities, or multiple inner aspects, will be exposed.

 

The situations, environment you are in, and which inner aspect you are in or “what mood you are in” could be some of the factors that will determine the kind of questions you’ll ask. 

 

Do They Like To Laugh?

 

You might have experienced a situation when a person took a humorous expression, question or conversation too personal. This is totally normal because we view things differently as humans. 

 

Now, before asking a controversial question, ensure that your partner will not find it embarrassing or take it too personally. 

 

If your partner takes some discussions or questions personally due to past experience, you shouldn’t judge them. It may be a reminder of a bad experience, and it’s better to know what their triggers are so you can discuss them when the time is appropriate. 

 

As you progress in your relationship, they may have grown enough to share some things with you without feeling triggered by it. 

 

Conversation Starters for Long-Term Couples

 

As stated earlier, some conversation starters for couples are for the beginning of your relationship, while some are for long-term relationships that are in the decades. 

Conversation Starters For Couples

You can write down a few of our conversation starters for couples in your cell phone to discuss later! 

 

Below are some typical conversation starters in a romantic relationship, where you’ve both bonded and shared some intimacy over the years or decades. 

 

These are the type of questions you ask at a romantic date or when spending a great time together:

  • Do you remember what I wore when we met? 
  • What is the wildest adventure you’ve ever had?
  • What attracted you to me?
  • When does foreplay begin for you? 
  • What have I done to make you feel loved since we met?
  • Do you remember the best thing about our first date?

What to do During the Conversation

 

Doing the following will help you understand a lot about your partner and who they are:

 

Keep to the aim of the conversation.

 

  • Now that you know when to ask some questions and what to ask, the next thing you should do is keep to the aim of the conversation. Do not make the mistake of going overboard or losing focus, because then neither of you may feel heard. 
  • The aim of your conversation with your partner is to bond and build intimacy. If you’re not sure about your partner’s acceptance of who you are, you may find it hard to give out some information about yourself. 
  • So, you need to be incredibly sure that you’re ready to do this and not withhold any vital information that may hurt later.
  • It’s better to let them know who you are, even when you think they won’t accept you. 
  • If someone can not accept you for who you are, then, let them take a walk.

Watch Their Reaction after the Questions

 

Now that you have both shared some information to help you bond, is your partner’s behavior the same with what they told you? Or is their lifestyle a total opposite of what they said? 

 

When you watch their actions closely, you will find out if your partner is omitting truths or unable to follow through on their word. 

 

The truth is, some people may find it hard to tell you everything about themselves until you are decades into the relationship.

 

You will discover some new things about your partner as you get through various life stages together. 

 

Don’t Forget Context!

Remember that you are both two different people coming from different backgrounds and upbringings. 

 

So, you need to do a lot of talking to know about your partner. Ask about what growing up was like and their belief system. What about considering how well they get along with their friends and / or siblings?

 

Don’t be left thinking “this isn’t the person I married.” Instead, use conversation starters for couples no matter what stage of relating you are in. Helen Fisher researched this and her findings are fascinating. To summarize, we need conversations starters during dating, falling in love, and attachment. 

 

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

 

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do

Tips on How to Save Your Marriage – Once and For All!

Tips on How to Save Your Marriage – Once and For All!

 

Relationships are hard and learning how to save your marriage is harder; yet, worth it. This is not to say it is all downhill once you walk down the altar. 

I cannot lie and say it is all rose petals and no thorns, though. 

Marriage is a complex component made up of legal bindings. It also falls under the category of romantic love and wanting your partner to be your everything. 

Sure, you have made it from the long-term relationship title into a completely different one – spouse, or husband, or wife. 

Marriages require effort, communication, and a lot of other things that may be made clear in this article.

Marriage is beautiful, yet sometimes it isn’t measured in years because it can end.

If you happen to find “your person,” having a successful marriage is a process to learn to love for both of you. 

Each couple is unique, and your situation and circumstances are different. 

As much as we would like a fairytale relationship and marriage, our expectations are often underwhelmed.

We are sold what marriage looks like in movies, books, music, and television. However, that is just a snapshot. It doesn’t often show the systemic process of the intense process that marriage is. 

There are different reasons that contribute to a couple drifting apart. Since each couple is different, these reasons range from unfaithfulness to a lack of communication to a desire discrepancy. 

We cannot promise that these tips and exercises will help save your particular marriage, yet it has worked for many of our clients. 

 

Some of the ways to start the journey back to being a happy couple include: 

1.Re-evaluate why you became a couple

The decision to be together did not come out of the blue. Both of you weighed your options and decided it was the best thing to do. This was way back, before the wedding and even kids. Before you said yes to marriage, the question to be their partner came first. Why did you decide on them? On the person you cannot stand now.

Ask yourselves what attracted you to each other. Was it their smile or work ethic? Their humanity or kindness? Their suffering? Their potential? 

This will remind you why you fell in love in the first place. It will have both of you reminiscing on a time before you discovered the flaws you see now. Your partner was once this person, and they can be that person for you if they want to.

 

2.Write down important things

Putting your feelings into words is therapy in itself. You can both write a whole list about your partner. What you like about them and what kept you by their side.

After writing down a list of all the things you appreciate about your partner, see if they want to receive it. 

Write down where you envision your new relationship future. 

Write down the steps on how to get there! 

It is also important to write down where you want the relationship to go, because how can you get somewhere without visualizing it first? 

Are there conversations you both need to have? Are children in your future? 

This will help you visualize a future with your partner, which is the whole point of how to save your marriage.

 

3.Set boundaries

Try telling your spouse what they do that has you feeling insecure. Own it with nonviolent communication. 

  • Is it them staying out late during weekends? 
  • Are they spending less time with you? 
  • Do you need them to help out more around the house?

Example: I feel _____ when I have the thought that you are spending less time with me. I am requesting that we _____. Are you able to do that, or can you offer another strategy?

You need to set reasonable requests, and abide by them as well when you are asked. 

If you ask your partner to be back home by 7 p.m. on a Saturday, you need to ask them what they would like as an alternative strategy for them. Maybe they want you home at the same time, or maybe they would rather when you come home late that you give them a massage. 

This negotiation for a collaboration cultivates trust in both individuals, and we all know the importance of trust in our relationships.

 

4.Show appreciation

Make a conscious note to appreciate your partner’s efforts. 

  • Notice when they change a hairstyle or buy a new article of clothing. 
  • Appreciate when they help out around the house.
  • Give compliments like you just met. 
  • Act as if everything they do is the greatest thing you have seen and watch as your love blossoms. 
  • People like to be noticed for their efforts.

For example, if your husband fixes a leak in the kitchen sink, give him a big hug and kiss and say “thank you. I feel so loved right now.” He will feel great about helping out and do it more often. 

It keeps him happy and provides you with the help you desire around the house. A WIN / WIN! 

 

5.Communicate

Miscommunication is a huge damper in relationships. Couples who do not voice their feelings end up holding a lot of remorse and resent. 

Make clear and respectful communication a huge part of your routine. Talking about your feelings towards your partner helps unburden you. It also allows them a chance to correct themselves in an effort to make the marriage work.

 

6.Do something special together

You can set a day weekly aside according to your schedules. 

  • Spend this day with your partner. 
  • You can decide to get dressed up and go out to a restaurant for a fun date. 
  • You can also decide to stay in, order take out and watch movies all day. 

The important thing is to spend quality time doing something special. Use this time to connect and bond with your spouse and talk about erotic opportunities. 

How to save your marriage requires effort from both parties though. 

Long-term relationships have their struggles and nothing is ever smooth sailing all the time. 

You both need to come to the decision that the marriage is failing and needs some work. 

Avoid talking to external parties about your partner, unless they are trained professionals. 

Address all issues with your spouse within the week, as communication is key.

If you need further help with how to save your marriage, please visit us or another licensed professional marital therapy. 

If you have any questions, or for clients hoping to take their intimate lives to the next level through personalized sessions on YOUR terms, learn more about our Text Therapy Program.

Life Coaching and Therapy (LCAT) is a relationship coaching and sex therapy practice that transforms our clients lives through our flexible, multi-technique approach and pleasure-skills training provided by systemically-trained and licensed therapists! 

Our team of compassionate, licensed therapists and certified sex therapists help Millennials and Baby Boomers alike who visit us for a variety of relationship, intimacy and sex problems. 

LCAT provides on-site appointments, as well as video chat and text therapy programs. 

Learn more about how LCAT can help improve your life at What We Do