Ashley Madison Hack; First Steps In Healing Your Relationship

As a follow up to the Ashley Madison Article I posted yesterday, Here is another article from Mari Lee, LMFT, CSAT on how to heal after the Hack.  

In the aftermath of the Ashley Madison hack, my therapy center has been blowing up with calls and emails from individuals and couples who are afraid, ashamed, and angry. These hurting people are asking for help in moving through the painful discovery or disclosure sharing that their relationship has been impacted by deceptive sexual choices, including infidelity on the Ashley Madison website. 

If you are reading this and you are the person who has "cheated" on a loved one and have been losing sleep this week, terrified that your secret sexual life will soon be revealed, you have likely been scanning the Internet looking for ways to support yourself and salvage your relationship. 

Or perhaps waiting was creating too much anxiety for you, and you decided to come clean with your significant other and are now dealing with the consequence of your partner or spouse's trauma, betrayal, anger and confusion. 

Maybe you are the wounded partner or spouse reading this, and have either discovered or your partner disclosed to you about his or her affair or account with Ashley Madison.  If so, my heart goes out to you. I have stood in those shoes and know first hand the devastation you are feeling right now. 

As a couple in crisis it may feel like this is the end of the road for you. The trust is broken, the information is out, you are ashamed and enraged, the arguments, tears and excuses have been keeping you up late into the evening, and you are exhausted and feeling hopeless.

And now...what do you do? Continue Reading...

This blog post was written by Mari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT-S

Help! The Ashley Madison Hack Will Ruin My Life

Help! The Ashley Madison Hack Will Ruin My Life

By now most of the world has heard about the Ashley Madison website hack.  Ashley Madison’s website slogan is, “Life is short, have an affair.” AM is not a traditional dating website, instead it caters to married people and people in relationships interested in having a secret affair. With over 37 million members, the company prides themselves on keeping their client’s identity and information confidential through top notch data security.

However, this may be changing soon as the hackers are now threatening to release all of Ashley Madison's customer records and make the names of their customers public if the website isn't shut down. Continue Reading...

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Married To A Sex Addict? 14 Signs That They Are Recovering

If you are reading this article, you are most likely a concerned person who cares about a sex addict and wants what is best for them. I applaud you. You are a caring and giving person who has the best interest of the sex addict in mind. You have empathy or the ability to feel and understand what another human being is going through. I challenge you to use these qualities to care for yourself as much as you care for your loved one. Why? Because the road to sobriety is hilly and there are a lot of bumps and turns along the way.

Sex addiction is different from other addictions because it is easier to hide. It is obvious when someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol because they put you in an altered state. Gambling and shopping addictions lead to a loss of money in your bank account or a ton of new clothes in the closet. Food addiction shows up on your hips.

But sex addiction can be washed away with no immediate evidence. Pornography can be viewed daily on a smartphone. Hookup apps can be downloaded and deleted in seconds, which is just enough time to find and meet with a hookup 600 feet away. The list is endless.

But an addict is an addict no matter what their drug of choice is. Sex addiction thrives in a secret world, Read more...

10 tips to create a true emotional connection with your partner

As I was standing in line waiting, a man was standing nearby. He was talking to his wife on the phone trying to figure out her order. His voice was loud, back and forth the conversation went, he trying to get her order correct and growing more frustrated with each interchange of the conversation. The conversation dragged on for what seemed like hours to me.  The tone of his voice sent me into major anxiety and I wanted to run out of the store. It took all the strength I could muster to wait for my order to be completed. It felt intolerable for the 5 minutes it lasted. I couldn’t help but think about what this couple must feel each time they have an exchange similar to that phone call. If a couple has most conversations like this one in their relationship it can be called emotional trauma for both people. It certainly was traumatic for me to listen to his end of the conversation that day.

As a Couples Therapist who focuses on Intimacy issues, I’m interested in helping people to feel safe, and to support a secure bond with each other. Most couples come to therapy wanting help because they are feeling unsafe emotionally or have experienced some form of betrayal of trust which has shattered the secure bond between them.

Safety and developing a secure bond in the relationship can be created by improving true emotional connection with your partner. That means doing some things differently to improve your relationship.

10 Tips To Emotional Connection

  1. Identify and name your feelings. The first step to identifying your feelings is to recognize you are having a feeling. Many guys and some women are unable to even recognize they are feeling anything.  When asked what they are feeling, reply “I don’t know”.  If you are human and you are alive you have feelings, period.

  2. Share your feelings with your partner. Once you can identify your feelings, then you need to share them with your partner. Your partner wants to know you and your feelings are part of knowing you. You can’t share what you dont know. If you don't know your own feelings then you can't share much of who you are. You learning about your own feelings, helps you be able to connect to yourself emotionally which helps you to connect to others emotionally. This is a Key Step!

  3. Practice one person at a time sharing, and listening for understanding. This technique helps people share one idea or perception at a time. Take turns One person shares their feeling first, the other person listens for understanding and repeats back what they heard. if they got it right then switch roles, if not try again.

  4. Spend quality time together. spend time together where you are present emotionally, physically, and spiritually with each other. Be in the present moment.

  5. Make your partner your go-to person 24-7. Find ways to make your partner feel they are your number one priority. Return phone calls promptly. Text messages throughout the day when away from each other. Be creative.

  6. Do what you say you are going to do. Integrity and character building, If you say you will mow the lawn then mow the lawn. If you don't intend to take out the garbage before work don't indicate you will do it.

  7. Love all of your partner, warts and all. Don’t point out their weakness, they already know. Accept your partner in all things all of their weird little quirks. Remember, you have them too, and you want the same respect from your partner.

  8. Build up your partner in words and actions. Be positive and help you partner to be the best they can be. In turn, they will help you be the best you.

  9. Have your partners back at all times. No throwing them under the bus. Building safety and trust means protecting your partner and making sure you are always standing together through every life circumstance with strength.

  10. Protect your coupleship from other people.  By protecting your coupleship from other people whether it is an inlaw or the threat of a flirty coworker, it is up to the two of you to make sure your coupleship is strong and secure with each other. Make sure you address threats to the coupleship and make accommodations that strengthen your relationship above your individual needs. By serving the coupleship first your individual needs will be fulfilled in a more stable and satisfying way.

 

If you find yourself being irritated and annoyed by your partner you can focus on your behavior and identify your feelings and name them. Use the statement, “I feel_________(feeling word) when you__________(behavior).” Be vulnerable when you share your feelings. If you come across as angry, critical, or blaming you may have less than optimal results. The key is to be vulnerable and share your feelings with love not venum.



 

Abusive Relationships: Taking Back Your Sexuality After Trauma

Abusive Relationships: Taking Back Your Sexuality After Trauma

They seem terrifying, but your feelings are the key to healing. It takes time, so don't be hard on yourself.

If you suffered from childhood sexual abuse you probably land in one of two camps; those who have nightmares and avoid sexual experiences out of fear, and those that repeat the pattern of sexual trauma, justifying it in the name of freedom. Both behaviors are problematic and can deprive you of a fulfilling life. Even though you were abused as a child, it doesn't mean you need to live a life of self-abuse now.

Like all things in life, too much or too little of a good thing can be harmful to you. So it is with your sexuality, too much sex and you could be repeating a pattern of the trauma, unconsciously harming yourself. Too little sex, and you could be harming yourself by depriving yourself of a life giving experience. The key to healthy sexuality is to find where a healthy middle zone is located for you.  read more...

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Teresa's interview by Carol The Coach on Blog Talk Radio

Carol the Coach Interviewed Teresa Maples on March 3, 2014 about Partners of Cheaters. If you are interested click on the link and you can listen to the interview in it's entirety. Teresa talked about her up coming webinar and how she can help women who want healing after being betrayed by their partners. Many partners feel like they are going crazy and the cheater often wants you to believe you are the problem and reason they cheated. 

This is simply hogwash and manipulation on the cheaters part. Partners have typical symptoms to the betrayal which resemble post-traumatic stress disorder. The same problem that war vets come home with after serving a term on the front lines of war. You have been through a trauma.

In the Interview Teresa talks about some ways you can calm yourself and treat the symptoms. One example is to do deep breathing to calm your body. Once you calm your body down it is easier to think and you will feel less overwhelmed. 

If you want more tips, sign up for my free webinar on Monday March 10, seats are limited

Live Radio Show March 3

Teresa Maples, MS, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist, and YourTango Expert,  will be interviewed by Carol the Coach  on Blog Talk Radio. She will be discussing an exciting new transformational educational healing process she has developed for partners who have experienced sexual betrayal.

 

You can join the radio show live on Monday March 3, 2014 at 6pm PST, 9pm EST http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sexhelpwithcarolthecoach

 

If you have been experiencing an emotional roller-coaster ride after finding out about your partner’s infidelity or sexual addiction? Then this radio show is for you. Partners of sex addicts and sexual betrayal experience many of the same symptoms as those who have experience being in battle in a war, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is important to recognize that these symptoms would be expected given you have lived through a traumatic experience, the betrayal. You are not crazy.

 

In this interview, Teresa will talk about the symptoms many partners experience and that there is hope that you can heal from these symptoms.  She will also share information about her free webinar that is coming up on March 10, 2014 where you can actually experience one of the tools she teaches to help you heal from your symptoms. Reserve your seat

 

If you want more information, reserve your seat at Teresa’s next free webinar Surviving to Thriving, help for women who have discovered her partner has cheated.

 

Manipulation And The Sex Addict: How To Find Value In Yourself

When it comes to sex and intimacy, trust your inner voice to create boundaries

If you are a partner of a sex addict, you probably don't even know it yet. A typical sex addict relationship begins with both people blinded to the subtle red flags of the sex addicts underlying beliefs. One of his beliefs is that sex is love. He wants it to feel loved and oftentimes there is no other way for him to feel loved. But this is simply a MYTH he believes. He has just not experienced how to feel those feelings in any other way. There are other options but he is just not aware of them.

In the early stages of the relationship, both of you enjoy being together and might even spend all of your time together. You probably have physical intimacy within the first month of meeting. After several months of frolicking, the hormones settle down and you don't feel the need to spend all your time together any more. This is normal in relationships; there is nothing wrong with you. This is when the red flags start to kick in. Read More...

5 Reasons Disney Starlets Are Terrible Role Models For Your Kids

Hollywood starlets don't pay for their mistakes...but your daughter likely will.

I don't know about you but observing young Nickelodeon and Disney starlets growing up has been difficult to watch, especially while raising daughters. In their younger years, the Disney starlets are portrayed as innocent little girls who could be seen as role models for their peer audience. As long as the only thing we know about these actresses is their acting role, everything is fine. Our daughters see them as someone to emulate, a role model. When the Disney starlet's popularity rises, the media begins to draw attention to their private life. This is when the danger begins. More media attention is given to the actresses whose private lives don't match up to their squeaky clean images on screen. This is probably not the type of young woman you want your impressionable daughters to look up to. Read on to see why these starlets aren't good role models for your children and what to look for when searching for the person who will be.  click here to read more...

A Christian Look At Marriage: It's Not The Marriage You Think

The holiday season is perhaps the most stressful season on couples through out the year. The pressure of family gatherings and dealing with “family personalities” is tough for many couples. So how do you stay connected with your most intimate partner and help protect each other? In reality, most couples don’t’ know how to do this very well, especially when their stress meter is off the charts. People tend to seek professional help when they are hurting the most. This is one of the reasons my and other counseling practices are very busy during and after the holidays.

Those couples who have a faith in a higher power tend to have just as many stressors as those who don’t. As humans we are all equally subjected to physical ailments such as cancer, diabetes, and the like. Our friends and loved ones will leave us one day since we have a limited life span. How do some people cope with these normal stressors better than others? It may have something to do with believing in a higher power or something greater than ones self.

For a Christian look at marriage, It means believing in a God who loved us so much he came to earth as a baby. Jesus’ whole mission in life was to be God incarnate who came to us, to let us know he get’s us. God loved each and every human so much he gave the ultimate sacrifice, His Son, as a means of redemption for the entire human race. God is on our side rooting for us. read more...

When Men Choose Porn Over Their Wives

He is miserable to be around… unhappy, unfulfilled, he has a black cloud over him, he is negative about everything, and no matter what you say or do he finds a way to crush your spirit. He is caught in the cycle of pornography addiction. He has lived with a never-ending cycle of lies and deceit. He has no idea of how to do anything different. He has relied on his lover pornography for years. She has brought him soothing and comfort from his feelings of isolation, and the stresses of life for a long time. He can’t imagine his life with out her. He chooses pornography and she is deceptive in every way. He even deceives himself.

When he escapes her clutches for a moment, he wants his real live wife and kids, his family. This feels good and right to you. This is what you want, he is attentive and caring toward you and the kids. He feels remorse and wants to forget about the pornography lover. But her claws are strong and he is pulled back into her soothing arms at the slightest stress. You feel him pulling away from you and reach for him. He pulls away further into the hole of darkness. You become more stressed and anxious and want to yank him out of the hole by confronting him. As you confront him, he feels more stress, and wants to run away to be comforted by the arms of the only one who has ever provided comfort. He chooses pornography again. After his tension has been relieved he is able to escape her clutches for a moment and the cycle begins again.

After multiple times of this scenario happening over and over again, as a wife or partner you go through many feelings.  At first you might feel confused, you want to believe your husband when he says he won’t choose pornography again. Then you find out later that he stopped for a few months and then went back to viewing it again, only this time he hid it better.  When you realize he has been lying to you, rage, anger, and sadness hit you like a ton of bricks. You begin to grieve.

Your husband is not the man you thought he was. He puts on an act for other people to be socially presentable, and his inner world is kept secret, sometimes even from himself. He has a secret self that is worried about being rejected if his secrets were to be revealed. He has a vested interest in keeping the secrets, so he lies to you. You feel betrayed. He learned to deceive to protect his secret of choosing pornography or other sexual acting out behaviors.

Here are a few beliefs and reasons that men who choose pornography have that keep them stuck in the clutches of Ms Pornography.

1. Easy Access & Availability

High Speed Internet has created a funnel of pornography specific to each person’s interests. Each click on an image will take them to more content that provides novel and more interesting images and videos specific to their interests. Internet is also available 24/7 from pretty much anywhere in the world via cell, and satellite.

2. “I’m Not Hurting Anyone”

A person who chooses pornography actually believes they are not hurting any one. Sometimes they will agree they are hurting themselves, but choose to do it anyway because they don’t know how else to calm their anxiety. Men are choosing to stay home and look at pornography rather than go out with their wife or family.  Thus he is choosing isolation rather than connection. Belonging is the basic human need that is the problem for him in the first place.

3. ”Sex Is Love”

Many people who choose pornography believe sex is love. I’m not saying they believe porn is love, but that love is so difficult to obtain that they will settle for porn.  Porn is predictable, see #4 below. Human beings have a deep desire to love and be loved. When the only way you know how to give and receive love is through sex, with no emotional connection to another human being, it can feel empty and lonely.

Love is much more than just the behavior of attempting to procreate. It encompasses feeling safe with a person emotionally, knowing the other person hears you and has your back. It involves communicating with one another in a way that is received well by your partner, even if it is difficult. Love is being honest and is unconditional. I know this is a lofty definition, but it can be something to strive for. Healthy couples will use mistakes in connecting as a learning experience to understand each other better. They try not to repeat the same mistakes twice.

4. Choosing Porn Is Predictable

Guys who want a sexual release choose porn because it is easy and predictable. Having to negotiate a relationship and possibly getting turned down for sex (when the goal is sex) is a risk. Some believe sex is love, others just want sex and are not interested in a relationship.

5. “Sex Is Their Greatest Need”

Porn addicts believe sex is their greatest need (this is a flawed belief system). What he may really fear is rejection. One of the greatest human needs is to have a felt sense of belonging and acceptance. He may be confusing your saying no to sex as rejecting him as a human being.

Grieving the losses of who you thought you married or partnered with can be every bit as painful as losing a loved one to death. In many ways, partners grieve the relationship they thought they had. From grieving these losses, can come strength to live in reality and live life fully present. It is important that you listen to your gut and seek professional help if you believe pornography or sexual acting out is present in your relationship.

If you are a partner of a pornography or sex addict and would like more information to make your Couple-ship Thrive,  please sign up for my free newsletter. You may also connect with me on my website Teresa Maples LMHC, CSAT and on twitter.

Heterosexual Men Ask, “Am I Gay?”

A man married for 21 years is sitting across from me in my office. His wife is horrible upset and has threatened to leave him. She told him to get into counseling right away and he agreed. Now he is sitting in front of me in my counseling office telling me a secret he has kept for over 30 years. After a long period of silence he softly says, “I have had sex with men as far back as I can remember. I am not romantically attracted to men. Men just seem to be available to hook up with and I get a sexual release. I have tried to stop but I keep going back to it. I really love my wife and I want to stay married. My wife and I wonder, am I gay?”

As a counselor, this question “am I gay” is not an easy one to answer. The question itself is not for me to answer. I can help him explore and understand himself better, which may lead to him coming to an answer to the question, “am I gay” himself.

Working with sexually addicted people, there is a group of men who identify as heterosexual (meaning they are attracted to females and want a relationship with a female), but act out sexually with anonymous men. These men do not want and are revolted by the thought of having a relationship with a man. They find the sexual release they get from anonymous encounters is what they are seeking. There are several ways the encounters are acted out.

8 possible reasons heterosexual identified men act out sexually with other men.  read more…

Do 12 Step Meetings Work For Sex Addicts?

As a Sex Addiction Therapist I am asked all the time “how can I stop my sexual acting out behavior?” While the acting out behaviors are different for everyone, the root causes are very similar. Treating the root causes of the addiction is how people gain sanity in their lives. A healthy lifestyle is encouraged by attending 12 step meetings, individual counseling, sex addiction group counseling and living a life that includes recovery from addiction.

Participating in all that recovery work may seem overwhelming for people early in their recovery process, but that is what it takes to become free from sexual addiction. Those who have had the best recoveries are the people who make recovery their number one priority. You can’t sort of do recovery; you are either all in or all out. Now there is a period of time where people need to experience whether or not they can feel safe and build up to living a healthy lifestyle in recovery. In this article I want to focus on the 12 step meeting benefits.

Normally, people are just plain freaked out about attending a 12 step meeting. I encourage them to just go and observe for the first few times. See how it works and get used to the format and how the meetings are run. Usually after a few meetings they feel more comfortable and find out no one has been judged and that other people are struggling just like them. 12 step meetings are a place to feel accepted and valued for whom you are with no strings attached.

Many times the roots of addiction included a childhood in which it was not ok to be you. You may have been blamed for someone else’s anger or chaos, and then learned to feel like you were a failure or a bad person. Others were praised for everything they did and got a sense of entitlement, they walk around with a bloated sense of self, but underneath feel like they need to perform to get praised and affirmed. Both types of people suffer from negative self-esteem and self-image. Both are seeking approval from others rather than having a deep sense of feeling ok internally.

12 step meetings help people to experience unconditional love and acceptance, an experience that was non-existent in their lives. Most addicts have only experienced conditional acceptance. Meaning, if you do this I will approve of you. Conditional acceptance sets you up to have addictions because you can never do enough to get the approval you need from others. We can learn what unconditional acceptance is by being part of a group experience and 12 step meetings are one free way to gain this experience.

Those early in recovery have a hard time seeing the benefits from 12 step meetings due to still viewing the experience from their “conditional eyes.” They make comments like, “These guys messed up this week and every one was patting them on the back and telling them they did a good job. That doesn’t make sense to me.” The conditional eyes only see the failures and judge. There is no shame in seeing this way. This is the only way you have been taught to see things. However, you can learn to see differently if you want. Unconditional eyes see the person’s efforts to correct the failures and affirm these efforts to become healthier.  Seeing things differently is one of the main goals of 12 step meetings, and an honorable goal of recovery from sex addiction.

Experiencing others unconditional acceptance of you is another surprising benefit from attending a 12 step meeting. It doesn’t happen the first time you attend a meeting, it happens over time. One day, if you go to a 12 step meeting regularly, you will realize that people really like you for who you are, not for who you pretend to be. That is a huge realization, and incredibly healing when it happens.

Many people make life long friends in 12 step meetings. Sex Addiction especially makes people isolate which reinforces the shame, which reinforces more isolation. 12 step meetings stop the isolation part of the sex addiction cycle. You get to expose the addiction cycle and the shame you feel which takes the power out of the acting out.

There are many types of 12 step meetings for sex addicts and their partners. Here are a few to research for yourself and see if they appeal to you.

Check out these free resources if you think you might have a problem or feel you partner might have a problem. There is help and it is there for anyone who wants it. You just have to ask.

If you are like most people you are feeling scared to death to expose your inner feelings to anyone especially strangers. That is really normal. Every person at a 12 step meeting has had to walk into the meeting feeling the exact same feelings, they get it. The people in the 12 step meetings are all recovering from something and know how hard it is to start the recovery process. You will find ally’s and support from them if you allow yourself to be open and share your struggles with them. You get enormous value from12 step meetings, which far out weighs the initial uncomfortable feelings starting something new.  Start by educating yourself about 12 step meetings, then find a meeting in your area and go. If you take those two steps you will be on your way to something better for you and your family. I would love to hear how your experience with 12 step meetings has changed you. Please leave comments below.

If you would like more information to make your Couple-ship Thrive please sign up for my newsletter. You may also connect with me on on twitter.

Help, I Think I’m Married To A Sex Addict

“My whole world feels upside-down”, I noticed she was tearful, and her whole body was shaking. I asked her to tell me more. She said, “I found a secret phone with lots of names of women on it. I called a few of the numbers, the women answered in a sexy voice with my husbands name.” She then began sobbing. I waited.  Her sorrow deserved respect and even honer.  She had just experienced the ultimate betrayal of intimate partners. She needed time to allow the shock of what she discovered to sink in. Healing from this type of betrayal can take years.

As a counselor specializing in working with partners who are married to a sex addict, I hear stories like this every day. Here are a few ways a partner finds out about a sex addicts behavior;  read more….

When Porn Goes From A Hobby To A Problem

With easy access to the Internet, porn is just one click away. Research has shown that most men (over95%) have viewed porn at some time in their lives. The porn industry has been the number one income producing industry in the country for quite some time. There are many reasons for that; the main one is that the porn industry exploits those people who are obsessively compelled to search for new and novel stimulating images. The line where porn becomes a problem is different for each person. It is a personal and a relational issue.

While some people can use porn with a real life partner to stimulate desire, sexuality, and play, others use it as a way to isolate and be in control of their sexuality, and desire. Often they feel fearful of not knowing how to meet their partner’s needs. Some people even avoid sex altogether with real people due to their hopelessness of a real person ever meeting their sexual needs like porn offers them.

What human beings desire at the deepest level is to belong. To have people who care about them and in turn who they care about. In generations past, humans lived in tribes, or communities, that provided life long relationships that provided support and belonging during our best times and our worst times. These relationships sustained each individual through life’s difficulties and blessings. For the most part we don’t have that now. Most people are isolated in their homes, and in front of a computer screen.

For instance, today many families are sitting in the same room together, texting each other or people not in the room. That passes as quality time together. Humans actually need eye contact and touch as part of their basic human needs. The Internet provides an escape from the pressure of relating with a real person. Now add the element of porn into the picture, and the user gets a dopamine hit from viewing a porn image. The brain’s reward system is stimulated, the person feels instantly better for a few minutes. If the same person tried to interact with a real person, that person may be in a bad mood, or have a negative response to the porn viewer. The porn viewer’s brain is reinforced that people are dangerous and unpredictable and should be avoided, so they return to the predictability of porn viewing. 

Predictability of having sexual stimulation with porn is at the viewer’s control. Needs of other human beings are not considered or valued. People become an obstacle to viewing porn and obtaining predictable sexual stimulation. Many problem porn viewers will reject real women preferring their predictable self stimulation with porn. 

Porn as a Hobby is like anything, use it in moderation, and only if it feels healthy to you and your partner.

Where Porn Viewing Becomes A Problem 

  1. You feel compulsive about viewing porn
  2. If your partner says no, no means no and that means it is a problem.
  3. You neglect meeting with real people to view porn
  4. You have tried to stop but keep going back to it
  5. You have feelings of guilt and shame after viewing porn
  6. You spend multiple hours a day viewing porn, neglecting healthy behaviors such as exercise, eating healthy meals, socializing, hobbies, etc.
  7. Porn use is affecting your job performance
  8. Porn use is negatively affecting your marriage or intimate partnership.
  9. You have or are thinking about harming your self in some way; broken skin integrity through cutting or rubbing, or suicidal feelings.
  10. You use porn when feeling bored, anxious, or stressed to numb out your feelings.
  11. You become angry when you have to wait to get to get to the porn images.
  12. Recovering sex addicts are encouraged to stay away from any porn use if it is part of their addiction cycle.

If you see yourself in the above statements you may be wondering that’s what every guy deals with. What would there be to be gained by stopping my porn viewing? That’s a very good question. It is a personal decision you will need to make for yourself. Do you want something more fulfilling in your life? Porn is a poor substitute for a real relationship. You can overcome your fears, you can learn relationship skills, and have fulfilling relationships. It takes time and commitment and work but many people before you have found freedom from porn and you can too, if you want it.

Where Is My Happily Ever After?

You may have found your prince, but what happens when he begins looking more like a toad?

Where is my happily ever after? We have all been exposed over and over to romantic stories from movies and television, and the story always ends when the romantic partners finally get together and live happily ever after. In actuality, this is when the realrelationship story begins. There are several stages that relationships go through over time, but most of us want the happily ever after — and believe our relationship should be easy. This is a myth. Satisfying, mature, relationships happen when both people work hard to maintain a sense of safety with each other.

According to Stan Tatkin PhD, there are a few stages in love relationships. These stages will help you identify where you are in the development of your own relationship. All three involve very different emotional states, so they require an adjustment with each transition. The 3 stages of development of relationships, click to read more...

Positive Self-Esteem Influences Intimacy

Discover how developing your self-esteem deepens intimacy.

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The new Dove Advertising Campaign video has gone viral. It was released on YouTube 4/14/2013, and after 4 days has had over 7 million views. The Ad itself is a social experiment where women described themselves to a forensic sketch artist. Then strangers described the same women to the artist. The side by side portraits are telling of how we as women are harsher on ourselves than others are of us.  What is it that this ad is touching on that has us so interested?  Well, working as a Counselor for the past 14 years, I see this message over and over in my office.  A women’s self-esteem is directly relatable to her satisfaction in romantic relationships. Read More…

Infidelity, What Do I Need To Know?

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This question is often asked of me, “What are the things I need to know if I suspect infidelity in my relationship?” Most people are wanting more intimacy in their relationship, others are wanting to know so they can drop the relationship and move on.

I’ve included several articles that will give you information about some next steps to consider.

What’s Good Husband Material?

Think He’s Cheating? Here Is What To Do

Emotionally Opening Up In Relationships

10 Love Tools For Romance & Mutual Couple Satisfaction

Another Great resource is Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin it is an excellent book for couples wanting a mutually satisfying relationship.

I also highly recommend getting into couples counseling, if the cheater refuses to go with you then consider doing individual counseling for yourself. Counselors are trained to listen to you and help you attain your goals. Counselors are also bound by confidentiality laws so they don’t share any information with others about you.

 You can follow my blog at couplesthrivesexhelp.com and sign up for my newsletter.

Follow me on twitter

Choosing The “Eye “Of The Storm Promotes Serenity

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I’d like to share a metaphor with you in which you can visualize what I am trying to say. Nature has examples that are helpful illustrations of this concept. I call it “the eye of the storm metaphor.”  If you look at weather pictures from a satellite of a hurricane you can see a swirling mass of clouds and destructive chaos where ever it lands on the ground. In the center, “the eye” of the storm is a haven of peace and calm. The eye is protected from the storm brewing all around the eye. I believe this is where our recovery goals are located. Staying centered pulling ourselves back into the center of our experience keeps us safe from the chaos of the storm.

This means when you are defending and blaming others you are choosing to be in the midst of the storm. You are making sure you are unable to attain a sense of peace and serenity for yourself. You are choosing the storm over the centered calm of the “eye”.  Remember, you do have a choice to be in the chaos, and be pushed around by life events and messes. Or, you can make a choice to be centered, accept responsibility for your own life and emotional experience and retreat into the “eye” of calmness.

Life is messy and chaotic when you depend on the approval of others. It is much easier to maintain serenity when you take responsibility for your internal experience, without blaming those around you. Try this at home: For one day, try to focus on being in the “eye” when others are in chaos. Detach from your approval seeking an see what happens.

Peace and Blessings to each of you,

If you would like more information like this you can follow me on twitter, sign up for my newsletter , or contact me at my website www.woodlandpathways.com  Sincerely, Teresa Maples MS, LMHC, CSAT (Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist)

What’s Good Husband Material Anyways?

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4 things to consider before making a life long commitment

What is husband material anyways? If you are single and looking for Mr. Right, this question probably has crossed your mind more than a few times. If you are a romantic, you will want to feel the sparks and fireworks every time you are together. If pragmatic, you have a list of attributes that you are looking for and dismiss men who don’t live up to your expectations. In reality, each approach will need to be somewhat accommodating to include real human beings with strengths and weaknesses.

So let’s consider how to look for the best traits for a lifelong partner. READ MORE…