Conscious Uncoupling: How to End a Relationship with Grace and Respect

conscious uncouplingAs a psychotherapist for about 7 years now, I’ve had the profound privilege of helping many couples move from conflict, anger, and pain and toward deeper, more conscious intimacy. But it doesn’t always go this way.

 

Indeed, sometimes couples realize in the course of our work together that their relationship, for whatever reason, needs to end. Many partners view the end of the relationship as a personal failure, blaming themselves. Others wallow in anger and resentment, sometimes lashing out in destructive ways.

 

Tragically, in these instances the circumstances that bring about the end of the relationship can have the power to redefine a couple’s entire story together. This is especially true with cases of sex addiction, porn addiction, infidelity, or some other form of intimate betrayal. Partners carry with them the pain, loss, heartache, and anger about the relationship long after it ends and can even carry it over into their next one.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s another path. That’s where Conscious Uncoupling, a method pioneered by psychotherapist Katherine Woodward Thomas, comes in.

Contact with the Affair Partner After an Affair Ends

contact with affair partnerShould he have any contact with the affair partner now that the affair is over? Shouldn’t she cut her affair partner out of his life and stop talking to him altogether? How can I get him to stop talking to her?

 

After an affair, the couple is in crisis. They’re struggling to adapt to their new reality now that the affair has been exposed.

 

The hurt partner is reeling from this world-shattering news. She’s often traumatized and angry, while also struggling with the desire to scour phone records, check his phone, and other responses intended to help her feel safe after a massive betrayal.

 

The partner participating in the affair is often remorseful and desperate to save the relationship.

 

In instances like this, it’s a matter of course that the affair is over, that contact with the affair partner will not continue, and that both partners are all in the save the relationship.

 

But this is not always the case.

What to Do When Your Partner Doesn’t Want to Come to Couples Counseling

when one partner doesn't want to go to therapyAll couples face challenges and problems. Perhaps there are problems in your relationship that feel too big to overcome alone, so much so that you’re thinking about getting help. Or maybe you’ve already talked with your partner about meeting with a couples therapist.

 

Either you’re not optimistic that he’s going to want to go to marriage counseling or couples therapy before you’ve talked with him, or he’s already expressed reluctance to meet with a therapist with you.

 

What do you do?

Three Things Couples Can Do Immediately After an Affair to Start Healing

Things Couples Can Do Immediately After an AffairMaybe you’ve just found out about your partner’s betrayal, and your world has been turned upside down. Your heart has been shattered, and you wonder how you can ever trust him again.

 

Or maybe your partner has just discovered your affair, or you’ve just told her. You’re ashamed and scared of losing her. You’ll do anything to save the relationship. You’ve tried apologizing but it only seems to make things worse.

 

After the discovery of an affair, whether it’s a one-time fling or a long string of intimate betrayals over many years, the relationship can only begin to heal once the storm of the initial crisis is past. So what steps can you take to calm the storm and start healing?

Your Two Best Tools for Better Communication with Your Partner

best tools for better communication“We need tools to communicate better.” This is one of the most common things I hear couples say when I first start counseling with them. And of course, it makes sense. After all, anyone going to marriage counseling or couples therapy would expect to learn ways of communicating better with his or her partner.

 

There’s more to the story here, though. In order for couples to communicate better and grow closer together, they need more than tools. They need to become skilled at using those tools, and that means that they themselves need to grow and change. 

Why We Have Trouble Knowing Our Feelings: How to Recognize and Deal with Your Feelings (Part 2)

why you have trouble knowing your feelingsRemember the last time you felt something so strongly that your emotions got the better of you? Maybe you did something you regret. Maybe you spoke words that you wish you could take back. Or maybe you just gritted your teeth, trying your best to hang in there while it felt like the world was falling apart. Because in moments when strong emotions have ensnared us, it really does feel like the sky is falling.

 

Most of us, in moments like this, have at least some idea that we’re caught up in powerful feelings. What we don’t always know is what we’re feeling and why. As we’ll see, being aware of what you’re feeling is the first step to taking the reins back from your strong emotions.

How to Talk to Your Partner about Going to Therapy

how to talk to your partner about going to therapyWhen I get a call from a couple needing help, the spouse or partner on the phone usually says that the relationship is in some kind of crisis. Couples can sometimes struggle for months, even years, before something happens that at last causes the relationship’s ground to give way.

 

When this finally happens and partners talk about going to therapy for the first time, it may not go anywhere. In fact, things sometimes get worse. Fights get louder and longer. One partner might storm off or leave and not come back for the first time. Words are exchanged that can’t be taken back. Each partner feels like there’s nowhere else the relationship can go. Neither can see a way of working it out. They’re both at the end of their ropes. The relationship is crying out for help.

How Much to Tell & When, Part 2: Formal Disclosure

This post is the second in a series of posts called How Much to Tell and When: Disclosure in Early Recovery. This post discusses formal disclosure and its benefits. Click here to read part 1, here for part 3, and here for part 4.

 

“How much do I tell her?” In part 1 of this series, we considered spontaneous disclosure, which happens when the sex addict’s behaviors are either discovered, about to be discovered, or when there is partial disclosure of the addict’s acting out behaviors after the initial discovery.

 

Oftentimes, spontaneous disclosure occurs as a couple is preparing for formal disclosure. Although holding off for a few months on formal disclosure can give both sex addict and his partner time to prepare for the traumatic formal disclosure date, waiting can be excruciating, especially for the partner.

 

But what is formal disclosure? And as painful as it is, why is it worth waiting around for?

How Much to Tell & When, Part 1: Spontaneous Disclosure

This post is the first in a series of posts called How Much to Tell and When: Disclosure in Early Recovery. This post discusses spontaneous disclosure and the benefits of delaying formal disclosure. Click here for part 2, here for part 3, and here for part 4.

 

“How much do I tell her?”

 

When spouse initially finds out about your sexually compulsive behaviors, there’s enormous pressure on you to disclose details about your acting out. It’s completely understandable to struggle with what to say in response.

 

Whether she confronted you after an initial discovery or you confessed to her some or all of your behaviors, you’re facing some tough questions. If she hasn’t already, she’s going to press you hard for details. The more she finds out, the more she’s likely to grill you.

 

So what do you do?