Archive for the ‘Relationship Problems’ Category

5 Common Dating Mistakes

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Recently I, along with a few of my colleagues, was interviewed by BuzzFeed on the topic of dating pitfalls.

I wanted to share with you some of the more salient points of the article, not all of them are made by me, but these are the points that I think are especially important.

  • One of the therapists feels that Googling or Social media research is not a good idea. I actually disagree with this, as I think you can learn a lot about the person you are about to meet. It is also helpful to do this after a date. Going on Google can reveal a lot of information as well as verify if what the person presents about him/herself is true. I think this is important to know as soon as possible. In terms of social media, what the person posts about themselves, what comments they make and the pictures on their profile, while not a sure thing, is telling.
  • Ignoring someone because you don’t want to hurt their feelings is not a good thing. This is another point made by the same therapist which I very much agree with. If the person reaches out to you and you are not interested in seeing them again, there is a kind way to tell them. Ignoring them or “ghosting” them is disrespectful and promotes the brutal reality of internet dating.
  • One of the points I made in the interview is that when you meet someone on a dating app or site, it is safe to assume that they are dating other people. After you have had 3-4 dates and you are starting to like them, it is a good idea to find out if the feeling is mutual and say that you want to keep dating, but exclusively. If there is a push back, I would reevaluate the situation.
  • Another big point is whether to obsess over how soon the person texts you or responds to your texts. While the suggestion is that you go about your life, if their responses take a long time, it is a warning sign. It may be as simple as the person is seeing multiple people and wants to maintain distance on purpose, or it can be they are simply too busy to become a good partner.
  • Finally, related to a previous point, a lack of follow up after a few dates, also is a red flag. While it is not something to take too personally, it may be a sign for you to move on.

Estate Planning In Your Second Marriage

Monday, April 17th, 2017

How often do you hear stories of families fighting over the estate of the deceased father or mother? Every other celebrity’s passing was followed by a nasty family feud over their assets. Do you think that is because they did not have their estate planned? Very possibly, but most likely, all of this mess was due to the estate planning that was done without consideration of their second and, for some, third and more marriages.

In fact, regular estate planning that people do in their first marriage will not work in the second marriage. That is mostly because the goals that spouses in the first marriage are pursuing while planning their estate are often very different from the goals in the second marriage. When people get re-married, they bring more assets with them that they have earned in the previous marriage. Most “new” families have “his” children and “her” children and for some couples “our” children arrive in the picture as well.

In the first marriage, the main purpose of the estate planning was to guarantee that the surviving spouse can maintain the lifestyle he or she is accustomed to and that the children are taken care of. In the second marriage, it is more likely that each person will worry about the well-being of their own children as well as the mutual kids and the new spouse. If you are entering into a second marriage, here is some helpful estate planning advice:

First, consider drafting a pre- or post-nuptial agreement. Make sure to review it with an experience estate planning attorney.

In the second marriage, you need to be extremely cautious about who to appoint as the beneficiary in your estate planning documents and how own your assets, including real estate. Yes, there might be a verbal agreement between you and your spouse, but no one will be able to control that this agreement is honored once you are gone.  For example, if you and your new spouse had children in previous marriages, one of the options you have is to leave certain assets in the trust directly to your children and make sure to appoint a guardian for them if the kids are minor.

Another very common case is when one spouse is much younger than another. If the age difference is significant – your children from the previous marriage(s) may never get to their inheritance. Think of leaving part of your assets to them by naming them as beneficiaries of your Life Insurance. This way, your children will get their portion of your estate right at your death, and your new spouse will continue to own her or his share until death or re-marriage.

These are just a few options of how the estate planning in a second marriage can be arranged. Each family is special, and each situation is unique. Be sure to consult with a professional estate planning attorney when revising your estate planning or planning from scratch in your second marriage.

Special thanks to Inna Fershteyn, Esq., the Principal and Founder of www.brooklyntrustandwill.com. (The Law Office of Inna Fershteyn and Associates, P.C.) for providing this helpful article.

Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Please do not use this article for legal advice. Each case has special circumstances and must be reviewed by a specialist.

3 Things To Remember If You Are Caught In Infidelity

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

3 Things To Remember If You Are Caught CheatingProbably 1 in 5 couples who come to my office have an infidelity as the presenting problem. This can mean a one night stand, a visit to a massage parlor, an on-line flirtation without actual physical contact or an actual relationship with another person. Whatever the details, this is always an extremely painful experience for both parties with many different emotions.

In my experience, there are many questions to consider in handling this type of situation, but the following 3 themes always come up. These 3 points come from numerous experiences of many different couples in various scenarios. Here are my suggestions to the couple and the partner who has cheated.

  1. Own up to it.

Regardless of what you want to do with your relationship, once the infidelity is discovered, it is important to admit it. In my experience, the person who cheated will go miles denying that it happened or details about it, until the other partner comes up with actual proof. While I understand that no one wants to admit to having a secret relationship with another person, in my experience with many couples, once you are found out just tell the truth and be honest. As hard as it is. Otherwise, what happens is that the injured partner not only feels betrayed but because of lies and denial of the affair and its details until the evidence and proof are right there. There is an even bigger trust issue. It’s hard enough to stomach the affair but all the lies and covering up make this much more difficult to move on from. “Once a liar always a liar.”

  1. Be prepared for questions, many of them and the same ones over and over again.

It is very common in my sessions with couples with an infidelity, the cheating partner complains about the same questions being asked over and over again. There seems to be no end to this “interrogation,” and with time it feels hopeless and even irritating. It is important to understand that an infidelity is often a shock to the injured partner and he or she will often feel like the world as they know it has fallen apart and there is a sense of not knowing what is going on or who your partner is. This questioning is in part an attempt to get control of the experience and also an attempt to “know everything” so that there are no more shocking discoveries later. It is also an attempt to understand and process the experience and find a new way of viewing your partner and relationship. It is an understandable way of mastering and understanding a new reality. The partner who cheated needs to understand that this is what comes with the territory and be kind, patient and honest with responses. While there is often a sense that these questions will never stop if handled lovingly and patiently and with reassurance, they will diminish and eventually stop.

  1. Don’t assume the relationship is doomed.

I think most couples therapists will agree that an affair is not necessarily the end of a relationship. At times it is, depending on the meaning of the affair. However, many times it’s a cry for help, and many relationships become more connected and stronger having survived such an experience and learning from it. It can be an opportunity to know your partner better and in a more realistic way as well as understand the aspects of your relationship that are problematic and detrimental. Correcting them will make the relationship better.

4 Signs That Your Relationship Is In Trouble

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

4 Signs Your Relationship Is In TroubleAll relationships go through their ups and downs. How do you know if you are really in trouble or if this is just a phase?

Here are some observations I have made based on working with many couples over the years.

  • Strange as it may sound, as a couples therapist, I think when a couple reports that there is no fighting or conflict between them, I believe they are disengaged and disconnected from each other. Some conflict is healthy and unavoidable; it tells me that there is life and some passion here and that the people have not given up.  In a way, when partners fight with each other, they are fighting for their relationship. They are also fighting for themselves to be seen and heard.
  • I think a relationship is in trouble when one of both spend a lot of time on the phone or other device or are in a different space from the other. I think these devices are tools for avoidance and creating distance from your partner and people fall into these patterns, not realizing what they are doing or their meaning. Sometimes when one person spends a lot of time on the phone away from the other, it can mean they are having another relationship.
  • I think that frequent late nights out with no ability to reach one another is another potentially problematic symptom of a troubled relationship. It is disrespectful to not be unreachable almost at any time and especially late in the night for many reasons, including safety and possibility of inappropriate encounters.
  • Sudden changes in your partner’s schedule, more frequent trips, unexplained absences and unaccounted for gaps of time all spell potential trouble and possibility of an affair – sexual or emotional. It is critical to pay attention to ebbs and flows of your connection to your partner.

All couples have problems. To create a relationship built on love and trust is to practice acceptance and compassion for your spouse. Recognizing these four signs in your relationship is a great way to identify whether you are just going through a rough time or it’s something more serious. Consult a trusted loved one or a couples counseling to help you overcome relationship challenges.

Honesty In Relationships: How Honest Is Honest?

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Honesty In A RelationshipHonesty seems to be a big topic floating around now. This comes up in many sessions with clients and especially with couples as well as seems to interest the media.

Here are some of the questions that have been floating around in my mind.

What does honesty in a relationship mean to you?

To me, it means being authentic and transparent about daily realities of life. It does not mean one has to share every thought and feeling with their partner. People are entitled to privacy. It also doesn’t mean that if a friend tells you a secret, you have to or even should tell your partner. But the daily events or facts about life in a relationship should be disclosed without any omissions and ambiguities. Things like whereabouts, money, plans, etc.

Is there a difference between honesty and full disclosure? A client asked me recently.  I don’t think so. I don’t see the difference between the two in an intimate relationship. That being said, I do not believe it’s a good idea to tell your partner that you have sexual fantasies about someone else unless it’s an accepted conversation between you.

How important is it for people to be on the same page when it comes to honesty?

I think it is extremely important to be on the same page, so there is no ambiguity. If you are not on the same page, there will sooner or later be an issue.

So all relationships have to be an open book?

This may sound like a contradiction, but my thought is not necessarily. We are entitled to some privacy especially when it comes to our thoughts and feelings. It also is not the worst thing to have a little mystery about your partner. It can spice things up. There is also room for surprises which can be really wonderful for a relationship.

The main issue is that your partner deserves to know who you are, your history and what your reality is on day to day basis.

Is It True That Once A Cheater Always A Cheater?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Once A Cheater, Always A CheaterI was recently interviewed by a reporter from New York Post following the breakup news of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The title of the article was, “If once a cheater always a cheater?”. I think the reporter wanted to believe that that is true. However, I do not necessarily think so.

The idea that she had was that Brad Pitt cheated on Jennifer Aniston, and it is only logical that he would eventually cheat on Angelina.

First of all, I think this couple does not make a rule on the subject. Their lives are in a different category with the various circumstances than most people I come in contact with professionally and personally.

If I believed this, my work with couples who come in the crisis of an affair would be senseless. I think cheating is a complicated business, and all affairs are not created equal. Also, I know couples where one or both people cheated on their partner(s) with each other, proceeded to leave those partners and have had long lasting relationships without cheating. This happens all the time.

It is possible to be married to a wonderful person, meet someone else and feel that you belong to that other person. Many times these types of situations don’t work out, but many times they do.

Unless the cheating happens due to compulsive sexual behaviors, otherwise known as sexual addiction, some complicated emotions and longings lead people to cheat on their partner.  Many times if these feelings and longings are understood and fulfilled, there is no reason for cheating.

What about the idea that you cannot build your happiness and relationship on someone else’s pain? While I think that the cheating partner and his or her new love will feel bad and guilty, again this does not necessarily lead to ruining a new relationship. It depends on many different things and cannot be generalized.

What Are Some Of The Signs That Your Partner Is Dishonest

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Signs of A Dishonest PartnerAs I mentioned in one of my previous blogs, honesty is a foundation to any relationship. However, dishonesty in romantic relationships happens often and being caught in a lie or lies is a frequent reason why couples seek therapy.  They want to “get past it”. What they are seeking is to repair the trauma that the relationship has sustained. Sometimes the couple comes in when there is an admitted lie, and sometimes it is not and there is still a battle about the truth.

What are some signs that your partner isn’t honest with you?

First of all, if you are a trusting person and don’t have a history of being suspicious or mistrustful in the past or the current relationship, and you start to get a sickening feeling in your gut that something is going on, chances are, it is. Many lies about affairs or other things get revealed when a spouse has an impulse to look at his or her partner’s phone or computer. There is a feeling that something is wrong. Usually, when they look, they find something.

What leads to this suspicion is a change in your partner’s behavior, there is vagueness or secretiveness in what they say they do and their whereabouts. There is a change in routine, a feeling of distance and disconnection, often there is more time spent on the phone or computer, and the phone is not left unattended, there are calls and texts at unusual times and particular urgency to respond to them. Things feel different. There may have been some problems before, but this is on another level.

It is a traumatic situation for any couples and is a red flag for other issues that are problematic for the relationship. It cannot be ignored or “swept under the rug”. It does not necessarily mean an end of a relationship, but it needs to be attended to very seriously. Honesty is important for any relationship to grow and survive.

Why Is Honesty Important In A Relationship?

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Importance of Honesty in A RelationshipI was recently interviewed for an article in a magazine about the importance of honesty in a relationship. Honesty is paramount in all relationships, and I am talking here about romantic relationships.

I think honesty is probably the MOST important thing for a relationship to survive and thrive. It is a foundation for everything else and is critical in all areas of a couples’ life together. It is essential when discussing and making decisions about children, finances, work, and social life and without it, everything else is unstable and shaky. It is like a house that has structural problems, sooner or later it will fall apart or will need constant repair, only to have problems again.

If there is the lack of honesty, you never truly know who your partner is and what is happening in their inner and outer world.

Dishonesty can be about feelings and thoughts as well as about behavior. Both are extremely damaging to a relationship. Lack of trust will always lead to conflict, doubt, suspicion, insecurity, or anger. It is a wound that keeps getting infected.

I see many couples in my practice who come in to deal with “trust issues.” Breach of trust is a major trauma to a relationship and we, therapists, call it “attachment trauma.” It means exactly as it sounds; it is a blow to a feeling of being connected, attached, loved, protected and cared for which are reasons why we seek romantic love, to begin with. When this connection is shattered or even shaken, a predictable negative cycle of attack-defense usually sets in which leads many couples to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and tears at the very fabric of love. Many relationships do not survive this trauma.

If you and your partner are stuck in this cycle, consider seeking professional help to help you navigate the tear in your relationship and, maybe, get to a place of repair.

How To Spice Up Your Marriage After Having A Baby

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

While having a child is the most wonderful and meaningful event in one’s life, predictably, it changes your relationship in profound ways. There is no longer just the two of you, you are now responsible for another life, and the attention and care are no longer just with you and your partner. Even the best relationships go through a major adjustment following a birth of a child. Relationships that are already strained become more strained.

A particular area of married life that is mostly challenged is your romantic and sexual relationship. There is a multitude of reasons for this: sleep deprivation, hormonal shifts, juggling work and family life, anxiety about taking care of a newborn, family pressures, etc. Women experience lower sex drive and desire after giving birth, changes in body appearance, and many simply don’t think about sex. Typically sexual activity diminishes as things get closer to delivery as well as right after birth. It is important not to let that derail you from each other.

Here are some ideas on bringing excitement and romance to your marriage after a baby.

  • Make sure you carve out at least one night a week to be out of the house with your partner. Do something fun, just the two of you. It doesn’t have to be anything extreme, even a walk or a glass of wine in one of your old hangouts.
  • Deliberately think of some fun things to do or things you used to do before.
  • If possible check into a hotel room for a night, once every couple of months.
  • When possible spend some time together after you baby is asleep, don’t use that time as an opportunity to be on the phone, computer or do something other than being with your partner.
  • Enlist your family, friends or babysitter to give you time to go away for a weekend at least 2-3 times a year. These weekends will be priceless in keeping your marriage viable.
  • Do not stop spending time with friends and do at least some of the things you used to do, watch a movie, concert, etc.
  • Make sure you think about your sexual connection and make space and time to connect, even if this requires some planning or conscious effort. You don’t want to become complacent and have a sexless marriage.
  • Deliberately make sure you are thinking about your partner and ensure that he or she is not feeling neglected, unimportant, undesired.
  • Don’t forget to touch and kiss each other often. Giving all your affection to your new baby is easy.
  • Pay attention to your appearance and make an effort to look good to your partner even if it doesn’t seem necessary.

My Partner and I Have A Large Age Gap – Does Age Really Matter in A Relationship?

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Relationships are not easy and in my experience, a large age gap adds complexities to an already often challenging situation.

I consider a large age gap if a man is over 15 years than the woman, or the woman is 7-10 years older than the man.

One of the issues that arise with a large age gap is that there is usually a generation gap which often means a parental dynamic between partners which ultimately becomes annoying, unsexy and dysfunctional. This generation gap between partners becomes more pronounced as partners get older, oddly enough.

In a typical situation, the age difference is not an obvious problem until partners start to age. In fact, when they are relatively young it feels great to be with someone who is wiser and more experienced in life, who knows more, “has been around the block.” However, with aging not only generation gap becomes greater, but also the barring unusual circumstances, the level of physical activity, including sexual activity and desire, becomes different. This leads to resentment and frustration and, ultimately, diminished attraction and connection. These differences result in feelings of aloneness, guilt and sometimes depression.

As partners age, there is often a difference in their mental acuity and activity. With physical slow down and health issues, there is often less interest in outside activities as well as social life. As much as I hate to say this, there is just less attraction to your aging partner, which many couples experience, fueled by the limitations it places on the younger partner.

What one of the most common complaints partners with a significant age gap talk about is the discrepancy in sexual desire and functioning. It leads to anger and depression in both partners and often to infidelity and abandonment. It is a real and serious issue which can and does happen to couples that are close in age, however in this scenario; it is a given at a certain point.

Finally, an obvious issue is that while most of us are fearful of our partner’s mortality, this fear is greatly magnified if your partner is much older.

Consider these points before you say “yes” to a partner much older than yourself.