Q&A: The "AAA" of Affair Recovery

Q&A: The "AAA" of Affair Recovery

Q: "I had an affair that was emotional and involved kissing.  We didn't have sex. My wife found out and has been very upset. I have ended it. My wife just sent me a text saying she ran into my ex-girlfriend. What should I do?"

A: This question was sent to me from a former client. I replied as follows: Prepare yourself to engage well and actively listen to whatever she has to say. I would suggest responding in the spirit of what we've discussed in the past: AAA: Accept, Attend, Apologize.

A: Prepare yourself to engage well and actively listen to whatever she has to say. I would suggest responding in the spirit of what we've discussed in the past: AAA: Accept, Attend, Apologize.

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Q&A: Responding to a Teenage Girl Who's Self-harming

Q&A: Responding to a Teenage Girl Who's Self-harming

I received the following urgent text from a teenage female client, who at one point HATED coming to counseling and now, I'm grateful, trusts me and reaches out when she needs help. This is our text exchange (any identifying information or names have been changed or omitted to protect confidentiality). Bear in mind, as a text transcript, some of the conversation may seem disjointed, but I'm sure you'll follow along just fine. 

HER: "Hey, it's me. I need help. I really need advice."

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Q&A: Partnering with an ADHD Partner

Q&A: Partnering with an ADHD Partner

Q: I am dating a man with ADHD. Things are going well, but after having been through a bad marriage with a husband who had serious unresolved problems I'm leery of entering another marriage with someone with a disorder. Do you know where I can find some information on understanding and living with ADD/ADHD? I think knowledge will help resolve my fears and concerns. Thanks Jonathan, for all of your help—it is such a blessing to me!

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Q&A: What do you think about dating a man that is not yet divorced?

Q&A: What do you think about dating a man that is not yet divorced?

Q: I was wondering if you have any information or input on dating a man that is not yet divorced. I have been talking to an old friend that reached out to me. His divorce will be finalized very soon. After a week or so of communicating I respectfully told him that I feel that right now is not the right time for us to be talking and that once his divorce is finalized, and some time has passed, if he wants to still contact me, I will be there. He understood and thanked me for my honesty. I honestly feel pretty bad about it though. I think what I would like is validation that what I did was right.

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Q&A: Relationship Fact or Fiction?

Q&A QAQ: A Facebook friend asked me: "I have been struggling with a relationship lately and came across the following list of relationship advice in an email and I love it so thought I would pass it along to you. I also would like to know from your professional experience which ones you agree with and ring true to you. A: I appreciate when people check their sources of relationship advice rather than just take it at face-value. The truth is there is so much lame, but good sounding, advice out there that has nothing to do with the research or evidence about what actually works. So I've added my take on this list as follows: The numbered statements in bold are from the list and aren't mine (I don't know the source, yet... you know how these emails get passed around completely un-sourced... if you do know, please let me know). The comments in plain text below each one are mine:

1) If someone wants you, nothing can keep them away.

Sounds good and may be true for some. Someone may want you, but they may be shy, lack confidence, have been burned/hurt in previous relationships, etc. There may be many things that keep someone away. Also, just because someone wants you doesn't mean you want them. If that's the case, and  nothing can keep them away, I suggest a protective order is in order... ;-)

2) If they don't want you, nothing can make them stay....

Again, sounds good. All kinds of things keep people in dead (or "mostly dead") relationships--some legit and others not: kids, economics, fear, abuse, low self-worth, etc.

3) Stop making excuses for them and their behavior.

Yeah. I concur.

4) Allow your intuition (or spirit) to save you from heartache.

Yeah, too often people ignore their "gut." I teach people to tune into and trust their deepest, truest self.

5) Stop trying to change yourself for a relationship that's not meant to be.

Yep.

6) Slower is better.

Yes! Yes!! YES!!! In dating and courtship my advice is "Four seasons and a road trip." Take the time to get to know someone not just in the feeling of love and in the good times, but get to see what their real character is which only comes out in conflict and stressful situations. See how they problem-solve and correct their mistakes (or not). Also, in relationships: Slow communication is good communication; Slow conflict is good conflict. Emotions are reactive and quick. Slow it down. Do smart love, not just feelings love. No amazing cathedral or temple was rushed. If it's worth building it's worth building well. Rushed work = sloppy results and shoddy workmanship. What are you and your relationship worth?

7) Never live your life for another before you find what makes you truly happy.

Watch out for absolutes like "never" and "always." I agree this point is important, however, there are plenty of people who got married young and stupid (like all of us!) who had no clue what made them truly happy. However, some of them not only figured that out, in the midst of living their lives for their partner and their children, they figured it out through that very process of living their lives in the service of others. I get the point to not lose one's sense of self in an unhealthy relationship, but conversely losing one's ego in a healthy relationship can be one of the healthiest things one can ever do and experience in life and can be a path to finding the most profound happiness. This one smacks a little too much like the overdone narcissistic Culture of Self we live in that can be the enemy of healthy relationships. But I get the valid aspect of the point being made. I hope you get the point of what I'm saying on the other side of this coin.

8) If a relationship ends because you’re not treated as you deserve, then heck no, you can't 'be friends.' A friend wouldn't mistreat a friend.

I agree. Friends are friendly. Duh.

9) Don't settle. If you feel like you’re being strung along, then you probably are.

Yeah, no doubt! Why settle for the "best of the worst" when you can learn how to "Attract the Best" of the best?!

10) Don't stay because you think 'it will get better.' You'll be mad at yourself a year later for staying when things are not better.

True. I'm assuming that this list is talking about being in the dating scene, not already married. Because I agree totally with this statement if dating—don't waste your time working on a project person/relationship in dating. Maybe, maybe not in marriage. The truth is that for those who were considering divorce but decided to stay—five years later 69% reported being glad they didn't get divorced. Conversely, those who were considering divorce and did, five years later only 23% reported being glad they did get divorced. So the truth is it often does get better.

11) The only person you can control in a relationship is you.

Yep. But there are effective and ineffective ways to influence your partner. Learn the most effective ways. One of my fav workshops I do is called Animal Training for Humans.

12) Avoid someone who has a bunch of children by a bunch of different people. They didn't take responsibility for the pregnancy, why would you be treated any different?

Uh, yeah. Good one.

13) Always have your own set of friends separate from theirs.

Always? Nah. Watch out for absolutes. But yes, have your own friends, but you don't have to have separate friends. Whatever works is fine so long as the relationship respects each other having friends: shared or separate sets.

14) Maintain boundaries in how you are treated; if something bothers you, speak up.

Boundaries and assertiveness are relationship 101 basics that most neglect or don't even know they should have.

15) Be aware that healthy relationships are built on trust, and that trust takes time to develop. It may be unwise to share too much of yourself and about yourself too quickly. (See 6 above)

Yep. Well said. In dating, slow.

16) You cannot change anyone else's behavior. Change comes from within.

True... except, again see #11 above. You can't change people, but we all influence each other and there are wonderful and healthy ways to positively encourage people to change/improve.

17) Don't EVER allow another to feel they are more important than you, even if they have more education or a better job. And don't ever make another feel less important than you are either.

Yep.

18) Do not make another into a quasi-god; they are only human, nothing more, nothing less.

Yep. No pedestals.  People are people. No one is your savior—don't put that kind of impossible head trip on someone.

19) Never let another define who you are.

Amen!

20) A person will only treat you the way you ALLOW them to treat you.

I agree.

21) All people are NOT dogs.

Yep. Reject the whiney victim/martyr mantra "there aren't any good ones left!" Keep that up and you'll prove yourself right. Instead, get off the over-crowded pity pot and learn how to "Attract the Best" (see #9).

22) You should not be the one doing all the bending...compromise is a two-way street.

Yep. It doesn't have to be 50/50 all the time. And we shouldn't be keeping score. However, reciprocity is vital. Equality is essential.

23) You need time to heal between relationships...there's nothing useful about baggage... deal with your issues before pursuing a new relationship.

Yep. Again... SLOW!!!

24) You should never look for someone to COMPLETE you...a relationship consists of two WHOLE individuals...look for someone complimentary...not supplementary.

Yep. I call "You complete me" the Jerry McGuire Myth in my Realistic Expectations Roadmap: Navigating Marital Myths workshop.

25) Dating is fun...even if they don't turn out to be “The One”.

YES! Let a date just be a date. Don't project your whole future into this date or this person. Just enjoy the date and your date's company for what it is: A good time with a nice person. Period. If things develop great. If not then you had a pleasant time.

26) Allow another to miss you sometimes...if they always know where you are all the time, and you're always readily available - You may be taken for granted... remember that you have your own life to live which may not always include them.

Kahlil Gibran wrote one of the best things ever: "Let there be spaces in your togetherness."

27) Don't fully commit to another who doesn't listen to you and try to meet your needs.

Yes. But meet your own needs, too.

Bottom line: It's a pretty good list overall (apart from clarifications as noted) based in setting clear boundaries for yourself and asserting those boundaries.

Q&A: Relationship Fact or Fiction?

Q&A: Relationship Fact or Fiction?

Q: A Facebook friend asked me: "I have been struggling with a relationship lately and came across the following list of relationship advice in an email and I love it so thought I would pass it along to you. I also would like to know from your professional experience which ones you agree with and ring true to you. 

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Q&A: How do I stop my toddler from hitting?

Q&A: How do I stop my toddler from hitting?

Q: I have a quick question with probably no easy answer. Our son is three years old and he's exploded into a hellion almost overnight. Right now he is really having a problem with hitting. My first impulse, of course, being to reinforce the very behavior I don't want by slapping him back. Obviously, that won't help. Do you have any suggestions on what we can do to curb that? Or any websites that would offer some suggestions or resources? Thanks! —A Mom

 

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Q&A: "Why would you talk about sex in your presentation?"

Q&A: "Why would you talk about sex in your presentation?"

QUESTION: "Why would you talk about sex to a group of LDS singles?!" 

This was a question on one of my evaluations from a recent workshop on "Speaking Manglish and Womanese: Bridging the Gender Gap".  My thought in reply to that question was, "Why WOULDN'T I talk about sex to a group of middle-aged singles, many of which have been married before?" Many of these singles have had sex in the past and likely will again. Especially when sex and intimacy are one of the BIG conflict areas in many relationships, why wouldn't I discuss it candidly and respectfully in a way that can help many couples?

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Two Teens Answer "What Are Healthy or Unhealthy Relationships?"

Today I did a survey of local teen girls (at lunch today with my daughty and her bestie, both 15-years-old—a super small survey!) asking them, "How do you know when a relationship is healthy or unhealthy?" See their answers below and please answer the following questions:

Q: 1. What do you tell your kids about distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy, safe/unsafe, good/bad relationships?

—OR—

Q: 2. What do you wish you knew as a teen that you know now?

—OR—

Q: 3: Do you agree with the girls' answers? What would you add or change?

Healthy
Unhealthy
[divider] [/divider] "If you can work together." [divider] [/divider] "Beating up verbally, emotionally or physically."
[divider] [/divider] "Not fighting a lot." [divider] [/divider] "Fear telling others about being abused. Afraid to reach out for help."
[divider] [/divider] "Go out on dates weekly like you and mom. Reminds each other that you are still in love, and that you make time for each other." [divider] [/divider] "Fearful."
[divider] [/divider] "Can tell each other anything." [divider] [/divider] "Gossip. Bad-mouthing partner to others behind her/his back."
[divider] [/divider] "Need to have a good relationship with yourself. You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else." [divider] [/divider] "If you don't love yourself you might take out your own flaws on your partner."
[divider] [/divider] "Accept who you are. You are made to be you and not someone else."
[divider] [/divider] "Use 'I messages.' We learned about those in Teen Living. They are a more respectful way to talk about your problems with each other." [divider] [/divider] "When you use 'You messages' your partner feels attacked and they get defensive.
 [divider] [/divider]  [divider] [/divider]

Q: 1. What do you tell your kids about distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy, safe/unsafe, good/bad relationships?

—OR—

Q: 2. What do you wish you knew as a teen that you know now?

—OR—

Q: 3: Do you agree with the girls' answers? What would you add or change?

 

Q&A: Where Do You Draw the Musical Line with Your Kids?

Q&A: Where Do You Draw the Musical Line with Your Kids?

Q: Recently, I received the following question in my email:

"Parenting question for you: How do you handle music with explicit lyrics of the swear word type?  While I’m pretty much anti-censorship, parenting presents some exceptions to this thinking for me.  For example, I really don’t want the kids listening to songs about abuse, rape, torture, other extreme violence, and probably some other stuff Ive not yet heard but that is out there.

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