The relationship that a wife has with her Mom or a husband has with his mom, may very well impact their marriage. When we do not feel filled up by our parents in childhood, it is often to feel emotionally safe in our marriage. If you find that you have a difficult time believing your husband or wife when they profess their love for you, it may be a residual pain that you suffered as a child. If you find your self distancing from your spouse after you have felt particularly close, you may be stuck in a parent/child cycle.
When we lose a loved one, we often feel like a part of us has been taken. Physically one can feel, heavy, sad, tired, desperate and a myriad of additional feelings. Everyone grieves at a different pace on their own schedule. Sometimes friends provide solace and sometimes friends are not helpful. If you find that you need a safe place to grieve as long as needed, therapy may be the answer. Contact me at 818.200.9513
One of the subjects that come up most often in couples counseling is mistrust. One partner has cheated either emotionally or physically and the other partner just isn’t sure if they can forgive and trust again. Without trust, there is not a healthy relationship.
The first conversation that needs to take place is for each of the partners to be able to describe to the other the impact of what happened on themselves and to describe to the other what they understand about the impact on their partner. There will be questions that the partner who was cheated on will feel compelled to ask. There is no way around the longing to know what the cheating involved. It is a tight rope that is best handled in therapy so that safely the couple can understand without shaming the partner who cheated.
Healing takes time and patience. There will be set backs but don’t be discouraged. You can each grow and heal from what happened.
Jeannette York, LMFT
4405 Riverside Drive/105, Burbank, Ca
I often hear one member of a couple say that their partner’s sudden anger is the most challenging roadblock to creating a loving relationship. The couple is generally having a “normal” conversation when out of what seems like nowhere one of them explodes with anger. This leaves the other partner feeling confused, hurt, unsafe and distrustful. The partner who has become activated is convinced their significant other, has deliberately said or done something to hurt or disrespect them.
Anger that happens suddenly and with very little provocation often has very little to do with what is happening in the moment. This type of “eggshell” encounter is when an unresolved hurt from very early in life is triggered in the present. It may seem as if your partner is deliberately trying to cause a fight. However you or they may unknowingly be responding to past family circumstances when you felt helpless or ignored and were unable to fight back.
Ask yourself what your triggers are? What are your partner’s triggers? Examples are feeling disrespected, ignored, not heard, helpless. Start to be aware of when you have these feelings. Learn to replace the anger that surfaces with statements that identify the feeling. “I feel helpless”. “I feel ignored”. Keep in mind that this does not mean that your partner is ignoring your or that they are intentionally trying to take away your power, however it is important to state that this is the feeling that you are having. Together try to find ways that each of you can express yourself and learn to separate what is happening between your and your partner in the present from the past.
* Make it emotionally safe to bring up difficult subjects.
* Don’t use affection, sex and loving behavior to reward or punish
*Dare to expose your imperfections and fears. This is especially difficult since it conflicts with the need for safety.
*Consider your partner’s desire for greater distance or closeness as expressing a need for comfort-not a personal rejection.
*Listen to each other with openness and curiosity.
* Remember you are on the same team!
A good couple’s counselor helps couples navigate the emotional minefields that are part of relationships. These emotional minefields represent the predictable, yet often painful experiences that many couples go through as they learn to adjust to life together.
When a couple does not understand the other, each member will often tell themselves stories or make up meaning to fill the void of not knowing what is really going on. A good couple’s counselor will challenge those stories and help to uncover the real meaning behind words and behaviors.
Sometimes a couple is at the “end of their rope” and believe that the relationship stands little chance of surviving. However a good marriage and family therapist will help rebuild that hope and provide the couple with the tools they need. Once a couple has started to build defenses, they may need help to bring down those defenses so that they can hear what their partner needs to say. Marriage and Couple’s therapy can help that communication happen in safe environment.
To make an appointment call 818.669.8066, there are some evening and afternoon appointments available. The sessions are on a weekly basis for 50 minutes at a time. Cost is $135.00 per session.
The term “gaslight effect” comes from the a 1944 film starring Ingrid Bergman. In the film, Bergman’s character is made to feel that she is going crazy by her husband. He does this by creating situations in which Bergman begins to doubt her own ability to recognize what is real and what is not.
Today the term refers to psychological and emotional abuse inflicted on one partner by another partner. If you are in a relationship in which you feel that you constantly need to prove yourself or your feelings are invalidated then it may be that you are being gaslighted. Gaslighted can be hard to pinpoint because the attacker is hiding behind a mask of good will or “being right”. Some traits to look for in this type of unhealthy relationship are a partner who often says to you that you are “too sensitive”, right after he insults you or calls you a name or puts you down in front of others. Other traits are when you know something is right and the person you are with insist that you are wrong, causing you to doubt yourself and your own truth.
Eventually this type of relationship will cause the victim to experience a loss of joy in life. They become so focused on making their partner see that they really are smart, caring, good people or whatever traits are being attacked that their ability to enjoy life vanishes.
There are some tools to help the partner who makes the decision that they want to stay in the relationship. It is not easy and requires the ability to learn to speak up for oneself in healthy ways and to not engage in trying to win an argument. Gaslighters have more experience and skill at “winning” than their victims.
*Learn to “agree to disagree” even if you gaslighter partner wants to continue the argument.
* Learn to practice not responding to every insult or veiled criticism that your gaslighter partner says to you.
*Let your partner know what your boundaries are, and when they cross the line. A good time to have a discussion about boundaries is before an argument.
* Guard against constantly seeking your partner’s approval or begging them for reassurance. Sometimes they will not approve. Practice the emotional muscle it takes to not constantly seek approval.
More than half the couples that I see in therapy are living together without being married. Often they describe it as a step toward getting married. There are other reasons that couples choose to live together such as convenience, share expenses, fear of divorce or do not believe in marriage.
Studies show that couples who live together have a greater chance of becoming divorced during the first five years of marriage. If they live together in the place of marriage, there is an even greater chance that they will breakup within the five year mark.
The reason for this are many, but in general, it seems that living together, often keeps the relationship in the status of “testing it out”. In place of commitment there is the ability to simply walk away when things become difficult.
As a therapist and a clinician, I am not opposed to couple’s living together. However I do recommend that they discuss what each of their definitions are of the status of their relationship. Does one of you feel that you are on the way to engagement and marriage while the other is simply living together? A healthy discussion about where you would like to see the relationship in 6 months time or 1 year will help each of you to understand the other’s expectations.
Jeannette York, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
When families come into my office, there are often feelings of suspicion, hurt, betrayal and other painful feelings that they bring in with them. In addition there are topics that each member knows will be discussed that have not been talked about out in the open before. It takes courage for a family to come to therapy and to be willing to face one another and discuss topics that may hurt or initially feel embarrassing.
The first question that I each family member is “If the sessions go well and they feel that therapy was a good use of their time, what is different for them?” Often people will say “I won’t feel ……….”. I encourage them to imagine what they will feel. It is important to know what each of them is longing to be different. I am also curious about the incident that finally brought everyone into therapy? In addition I asked who is an ally and which family member does each family member feel the most vulnerable around? How does this impact what happens at home? Families are the lens with which we learn to operate out in the world. Our original defenses and vulnerabilities are usually developed and first expressed within the context of the family. These same vulnerabilities and defenses can also be healed and transformed in the context of family therapy.
A wise person once said that no matter how tempting, we can’t give up on our families. No matter where we go or how far away, we carry them around inside.
Jeannette York, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
One of the characteristics that I notice in the couple’s that I see, is a tendency to criticize each other when all they really need to do is make a request. If a person comes from a family of origin that is highly critical, they often learn to criticize to get their needs met. This leads to distrust, anger, hurt and anything but a loving relationship. An example of this, is one partner says to the other partner, “you never empty the dishwasher. You just don’t care about how hard I work.” Chances are the partner cares very much about the other, but has not been asked to empty the dishwasher. It is impossible to criticize a person into being or doing what you want them to do. It might work temporarily, but the price paid is hurt and less closeness . The next time you are tempted to criticize your partner, simply ask them to do what you are complaining about. Even if you have made the request before. Remember: Behind every complaint is a request.
Jeannette York, LMFT
Private Practice Located in Burbank California