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.

Navigating Family Gatherings When You’re in Pain

tips for navigating family gatherings when you're in painDuring my drinking days, there were holiday seasons when I was really struggling. I remember being so anxious about what was going on in my life and so ashamed about my drinking that I really didn’t feel like talking to anyone.

 

With the holiday season upon us, so are the joys unique to this time of year. But if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, if you’re reeling from an intimate betrayal, dealing with an addiction, or whatever, the holidays can be a tough time of year.

 

Family gatherings can present challenges. How do you deal with your family, who may have contributed to your pain in the first place? How much do you tell about what’s going on for you? Let’s take a walk through some ways of navigating family gatherings when you’re in pain that might help, no matter what’s going on in your life.

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 Change Beliefs to Form Better Habits (Part 2)

change beliefs

I believe I don’t like pineapple. That belief isn’t going to change.

Changing our habits can be challenging, and in part 1, we saw why. Whether it’s starting a new habit or ditching an old one, any changes we try make will quickly send us to a meet-n’-greet with the beliefs that are tied up with that habit.

 

Maybe you have trouble regularly checking your finances because we believe you’re not with money and there’s a lot of fear there for you. Maybe you’re afraid to start something new because you believe that you’ll fail. Maybe it’s been really tough to kick your pornography habit because you feel like you’re not good enough no matter what you do, and at least pornography makes you forget that for a while.

The Guide to Empathy for Sex Addicts (Part I)

Sex addiction therapists will, if asked, most likely tell you that sex addiction is an intimacy disorder, but what does this mean?

 

Rob Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S, author and renowned sex addiction practitioner and expert, puts it this way: “Sex addicts typically struggle with underlying emotional or psychological problems often stemming from early life abuse such as physical or sexual trauma or emotional neglect. . . . “[Sex addiction] is in essence a symptom of underlying profound adult challenges with intimacy and attachment, stemming from both genetic and environmental sources.”*

 

If you’ve struggle with sexual addiction and or sexually compulsive behaviors, creating and participating in meaningfully intimate relationships probably isn’t easy for you.

3 Things Your Therapist Must Do in Couples Therapy

I recently submitted my first response to Help a Reporter Out (HARO). If you don’t know what HARO is, it’s a subscription service that connects inquiring journalists doing research for stories to experts hungry to provide them with a few good quotes (and get some publicity in the process).

 

Now, chances are I’m not going to get picked because these reporters get a lot of responses. So in the offchance I don’t get instantly famous, I thought I’d share my thoughts with you. Here’s the response in its entirety.

Creating Magic in Your Relationship, Part 3: The Magic of Surprise

We began considering how to create more magic in intimate relationships by looking at the rhythm that’s created in relationships when two partners are managing their feelings together. Next, we talked about what happens when that rhythm gets disrupted and how to repair these unavoidable disruptions. Today, I invite you to think about with me how surprise can pave a path toward greater intimacy with your partner. What do I mean when I say “surprise,” though? Before we go there, we need to talk about what every relationship needs—romance.