Crazy Making

“Crazy making” isn’t a clinical term, however I use it to describe what happens when one partner in a relationship has an outside emotional interest in another and then magnifies flaws in their partner and the relationship to justify ending it. In doing so he/she avoids taking responsibility for being drawn to another as the primary reason the relationship suddenly is so bad, unhappiness so great and prospects for improvement so dim. The abandoned partner is left scratching his/her head thinking – “Huh? Why all of a sudden is she so unhappy with me? These issues are pretty routine in a long term relationship. Why doesn’t she want to work on this anymore. It must be me.” Fact is that a day to day relationship can not compete with a new infatuation.

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Decision to love

Phase one of a romantic relationship lasts between 2 to 3 years depending upon the amount of real contact between the individuals. This means that long distance relationships with intermittent contact outside the context of day to day living ——(((((((where those flaws come to light so much more quickly than in fun hotel rooms meet-ups and vacations)))))))), will take more time to get to the same point— the point of really knowing someone.  So when does a couple move to phase 2?  When each accepts the other person’s flaws in light of their attributes.. And makes a decision….to love him/her regardless. At some point love is a decision, not a feeling.

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Relationship Life Cycle – Stage One

Falling in love is ‘heady’ and a wonderful thing. Sex is hot, he/she is always on my mind, completes me, makes life full/real/worth living. Brain chemistry is altered in this phase. If we could only bottle it!  The trite adage that ‘all good things must end’ is true in this respect. As time goes on we become more familiar with the object of our affection. We come to know their faults, idiosyncracies, in short , what drives us f****ing crazy. And at that point, after the infatuation ends a decision is made. Do I accept this person with all their bad points, or do I not? Stay tuned for Stage 2.

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Strip Clubs and Marriage

Read one man’s opinion on why he thinks a trip now and then with business associates to a strip club keeps the eroticism in his marriage and sex with his wife alive.

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Is sex addiction real or an excuse?

The debate continues with no clear conclusion. Estimates are that 5% of the population are compulsive sexually and use multiple partners for quick ego boosts -like eating chips when you’re really hungry for a meal. It’s more frightening to be vulnerable to your spouse than to have sex with someone you really don’t care about and can’t hurt you. For a good article on the sex addiction debate check out this article in the Wall Street Journal….

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Building Trust & Intimacy

Trust and intimacy go together. To be emotionally and physically intimate individuals have to let their guard down, be genuine and let their partner do the same. This requires a sense of emotional safety on both sides and a belief that one’s partner will not judge harshly or hurt you with what you have revealed about yourself. Trust is built on a foundation of emotional safety. How to build trust?

1. Say what you are going to do. Communicate plans openly. Don’t live your life in secret…share information about what you are doing.

2. Do what you say you’ll do. Actions must match words. When you say clearly what you are going to do and then do it, trust grows and strengthens over time.

3. Look at yourself. Is there something you are doing that is giving your partner the impression that you cannot be fully trusted? If so, bring that behavior into the open, and talk about it with your partner.

4. Live in the present. Do not bring up past behavior that is not happening now.

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Suggestions for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day where we show our love with a card or token to a person we care about. Men often feel pressured to create a perfect day. And as always, when faced with perfectionism the worry is “I may not do it right” (causing stress), or there may be hurt feelings (resulting in anxiety), which could possibly lead to a fight about our relationship (causing fear that the day will be ruined by dredging up old, unresolved issues)!

Society sets many expectations around Valentine’s Day. You’re supposed to be and feel loving. You’re supposed to get the ideal card and gift for your Valentine. You’re supposed to have a special dinner and a “perfect” day…or else. Moreover, certain common stressors like, “Will my spouse be hurt if I don’t buy an extravagant gift or plan a special Valentine’s event?” or “Will my wife be really happy with just a card?” or “My boyfriend and I are not doing very well, so should we still celebrate?” make us dread Valentine’s Day, rather than look forward to it.

5 Suggestions:
1. Discuss how you want the day to unfold rather than how it’s “supposed” to be or how it “should” be. This will clarify each partner’s wishes and help you let go of the huge expectations surrounding the day, the gift, the dinner, the card or the perfect sentiment.

2. After the above discussion, express your feelings to your Valentine in your own unique way, not what Hallmark dictates. Do one special thing, rather than three or four.

3. Forget the dinner reservations at a crowded, pricey restaurant where you can’t even hear each other talk! Instead, either cook an intimate dinner together or order in for a romantic meal at home.

4. Use this day as an opportunity to remember what’s good in your relationship by telling your partner two things you appreciate about them. This will acknowledge how special you both are to each other.

5.Put the day it into perspective. When you feel anxiety, you’re usually over thinking something and making it bigger than it is. Remember, it’s only one day in the life of your relationship and doesn’t define it.

When too much pressure is placed on an event, it sets the stage for disappointment when the outcome isn’t what is envisioned. Initiate a discussion about the day in advance try to see it as an opportunity to express your love and appreciation to your partner in your own special way.

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Book on "Affair-Proofing" Your Relationship

I recommend this interesting book by M. Gary Neuman called ‘Emotional Infidelity – How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship’.  It has interesting observations about the need for dependence in relationships and why/how to set boundaries on relationships with opposite sex friends/colleagues.

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What about sex?

Asking this question gives important assessment information about a relationship. It indicates level of closeness and emotional intimacy and a willingness to be vulnerable and available. It’s also a great indicator of how much underlying anger there is simmering underneath from past emotional injury and resentment. Many modern couples see their sex life crowded out by demands of children, work pressures, not enough time alone — and simply not enough time. In a long-term relationship you just have to have a willingness to be sexual. You just need to respond to your partner’s overtures, even if at first you don’t feel desire. Desire grows with openness to our partner. And the more frequently you have sex and it is satisfying, the more that reinforces your willingness to do it again.” In other words, simply having sex can fuel desire.

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Finite Emotional Energy

We only have so much emotional energy to expend before we are depleted. For example, if we talk about the trials and tribulations of work with friends of the opposite sex, do we really feel like going over it all over again with our spouse when we get home? Probably not. And it this sharing of our lives that keeps us close to our partners – it’s how we become known to each other and thus create a foundation of emotional intimacy.

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