Why Self Acceptance is Important in Relationships

On an individual basis, it’s well-known that self acceptance can make or break one’s confidence levels. One who isn’t comfortable in their own skin will have a hard time making friends, or even making it through day-to-day activities. But when that same lack of self acceptance is taken into account within a relationship, the effects can be even more widespread. Whichever individual lacks self confidence will always be looking toward the other in order to provide comfort, or even approval.

In short term, this is a recipe for an unhealthy relationship, one where the other is co-dependent on their significant other. In long term, however, it creates a situation in which one person is almost completely in control, while the other relies on them for everyday confidence. In whatever level it may exist. Obviously, this is an unbalanced combination of personal responsibilities for the one doing the encouraging. As for the one lacking confidence, he or she will never be fully able to accept themselves on any level. Let alone with another person in the mix.

While it’s regularly stated, it’s vastly important for one to accept themselves. Whether this is based on career, family members, or just overall personality, without doing so they will always work toward the expectations of others. Or rather, what they think to be the expectations of others. However, once working to accept oneself, actual growth can be had, leading to ongoing goals and personal growth. Which can then translate into growth within a relationship in an equal basis. Not where both sides are holding different responsibilities and expectations.

In order to create a healthy relationship, both sides should create healthy levels of self confidence, as well as self acceptance. To learn more about these aspects today, get in touch!

Relationships: What Makes Them Unique

Anyone who has ever been married to (or dated) more than one person understands just how different relationships can be. Even though you’re the same person, being with someone A vs. someone B completely changes the dynamic of the situation. Even when having a “type,” it’s impossible to completely recreate the bond you had with one with a former flame. Because of personality types, hobbies, personal reactions, etc., the combination will always create something unique. Consider it similar to that of comparing apples and oranges.

Additional changes, such as age, maturity levels, wants or needs at the time can add to even more differences. And in this light, it’s very possible that the same two people can’t (or won’t) have the same relationship over time. Not only will they grow separately, but together in areas of closeness, what they expect from one another, and more. People are complicated creatures, and rather than trying to force their actions into categories, it’s important to explore the complexities and work toward achievable goals. Especially in communication and personal growth.

What it Means

When entering a new relationship or working to repair a current one, remember that each combination of personalities is unique. What might have worked (or not worked) previously can be adjusted for later on. Additionally, relationships are a constant work in progress. They should always be worked upon in order to better improve the quality of each couple’s wants and needs.

This can also be said for friendships and family members, all of which should receive ample amount of attention to create the best level of communication possible. No matter the individual circumstances.

Keep these differences in mind for everyday life, as well as when heading into your next counseling session.

Why Relationship Communication is Better With a Counselor

The longer a couple has been together, the harder it can be to notice when there’s a problem. Or, if it’s noticeable, at least admit when there’s a problem. Because we slip into routines and couples become comfortable with their everyday lives, working to change that level of fluidity can often come as an unwelcome change. But when a problem does arise — no matter how large or small — it’s important that it be addressed before it grows into something larger.

Which is exactly why couples should communicate as often as possible. With the help of an outsider, however, especially one who is trained, that communication can be improved ten-fold. When talking with just one another, it’s likely that nothing much will change. Both parties will continue on with their everyday routines while the real issue at hand fails to get resolved. Even if it is discussed. But with a counselor, couples can be pushed to explore new and alternative communication methods. While this might cause the discussion to become heated, it also allows for both parties to say what they feel vs. what they think should be said. Counselors can also ask specific questions, and prompt others to explore topics that are most important to a couple.

Then, by better exploring these communication techniques, couples can learn to talk more effectively in the future. While it can be hard to get started discussion difficult issues at first, using an outside source, such as a counselor, can be a great way to jumpstart the relationship into better methods of communication.

Marriage Counseling Questions: Are We Compatible?

One topic that comes up often in marriage counseling quesstions is, “Are we compatible?” The reason couples in counseling ask this is that they’ve hit a wall in their relationship. They likely fight and argue a lot, have realized that blaming the other person will only lead to more disagreements, still love one another, but don’t know what else could be causing the fights. The discord doesn’t have to do with compatibility, or communication, the couples genuinely love one another, they just haven’t learned to see things from the other’s perspective.

This clip from the movie “Crash” shows a very typical fight between a couple in which one person sees things from her perspective and the other person sees it from his perspective. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who’s right and who’s wrong, the issue isn’t about communication, or the “facts” of the situation, the real issue is that it’s difficult to see things from the other person’s point of view.

Following is a typical conversation between a client in a marriage counseling session.

Client: It’s common sense!
Coach: You mean it’s your common sense don’t you?
Client: What?
Coach: He has a different common sense than you do, intellectually you understand that he thinks and sees the world differently than you, but emotionally you feel that because he’s your husband he should see it as you do. Say after me, “my husband and I have different common senses.”
Client: (laughing) But mine is the correct one, right?
Coach: (laughing) Of course!

With practice, self-observation, and a willingness to admit that you’re wrong sometimes, we can help you answer these and other marriage counseling questions you and your partner have.

Marriage Counselor Austin 512-653-4316

Surviving Infidelity: Get Busy Living

The first month of 2013 an unusual thing happened in my marriage counseling practice. I’ve been working with couples since 1996 and a good portion of those couples have come to me for help with surviving infidelity. This one month I seemed to get way more than the average. In general I work with about one or two new couples a month with infidelity recovery. This month I had over six couples and individuals within the first two weeks of the year. I’m writing this with the intention of giving hope to whomever is reading and is experiencing the pain of infidelity.

It can be tempting
sometimes to give up on a relationship, and when someone experiences infidelity, recovery is not the first thing that person has in mind. Instead one is likely to feel devastated, wounded, angry, confused, foolish, and lost. Regardless how painful and hopeless you may feel, consider there’s a good chance you can recover. I don’t mean just get by, or survive, I mean you can heal those wounds and move beyond them to a joyful, thriving relationship with your partner. In order to do so you need to begin the healing process one step at a time.What does it take for infidelity recovery?

First, an understanding
that both of you hurt. However it may seem to you, whenever there’s infidelity, both people suffer a lot, even the offending partner.

Second, you should know
that the problems of the relationship didn’t start with the infidelity, they began long before. It’s important that you be willing to address those difficulties. It won’t be the first thing you address, you need to first address the pain, but you will need to look within yourselves to find the root causes. Believe me you can do this!

Third, couples in these situations
generally feel like they’re on an emotional roller coaster. One moment they may feel in love, forgiving, and hopeful, the next angry, bitter, and full of despair. This is natural and there are things you can do to deal with the ups and downs.

Fourth, do not make any long term decisions.
Being emotionally charged means you are not likely to be the best person to see what’s really best for you. Give yourself time to come down from the pain you’ve been feeling.

Fifth, get help soon.
When you select a counselor you should have an experience of trust. A good marriage counselor will have both compassion and a willingness to help you look at difficult things you may not like to look at. Good marriage counseling in infidelity recovery is direct, firm, respectful, informative, and compassionate.

Sixth, get busy living.
Even though you’re addressing things that are painful you must keep your eyes and heart on creating a healthy relationship! It’s not impossible, think of yourself as a scientist setting out to solve an interesting mystery.

Spiritual Marriage Counseling: Contentment is a Choice

Spiritual Marriage Counseling is about creating contentment in a relationship. Contentment is not based on circumstances. It is the power of focusing your energy effectively in any situation – it is the choices you make every second of your life. It is taking action to change your circumstance while focusing on the joy in your present situation. Satisfying a desire differs from contentment because it does depend on circumstance and is usually fleeting. It’s easy for us to feel good when our desires met are met by a partner. But this cycle of looking for contentment by fulfilling desires is not a spiritual existence, it’s a hamster wheel life because it is not a constant and this is especially true in marriage.

Often we feel blissful when we get a new job, a new romance, or other token that we want. How often does that bliss last? The newness simply does not stay new. Many couples in marriage counseling say “I want the relationship I had when we were first dating.” New love ends because the oxytocin, serotonin, adrenalin, and endorphins wear off. What people are left with is the desire for the high and a misunderstanding of what it takes to build love and contentment in a spiritual marriage. Spiritual love is a result of the choices you make with your partner.

A Genie grants a man 3 wishes.
The man asks that his wife die so he may find a better one.
Poof: She’s dead.
At the funeral, friends and family say how wonderful she was. The man realizes his mistake and asks the Genie to bring her back.
Poof: She’s alive again.
Having one remaining wish, the man ponders, but cannot think of what wish is best. So, he asks the Genie for a suggestion.
The Genie laughs, then says, “Ask to be content no matter what you get”.

I don’t suggest that couples give up all desires, that would be foolhardy. Rather, the point of spiritual marriage counseling is learning that marital contentment begins with self contentment. Self contentment begins with an awareness of and embracing one’s own inner life, emotions, needs, and purpose. From that point learning to be content with each other is a matter of choosing to remain in love, each second of every day.

Emotional Affair Recovery, Steps to Healing With Counseling

Marriage Counseling Steps to Heal an Emotional Affair

An emotional affair is often no different than an actual affair. Many times a partner doesn’t really know whether or not physical intimacy actually occurred because the offending partner insists “nothing happened.” The offending partner likely lied and withheld information until now and frequently is telling the truth only because of evidence that can’t be denied like texts, pictures, or emails. The innocent partner has suspected that something was going on for many months and now feels “stupid” for having believed the lies instead of the gut feeling or suspicion. In addition there’s the feeling that if it happened before there’s nothing to prevent it from happening again.

If this has happened to you marriage counseling emotional affair recovery can help. You may be constantly checking your partners phone calls, asking what he’s(or she) doing, where he’s going, why he’s late, who a text is from. You may be asking for guarantees that it never happen again, you may be thinking of ending the relationship or marriage. If you have children, you’re likely concerned about the effect on them. You may think that if it weren’t for the children you would already have left. You probably don’t trust your partner. All of these feelings are understandable. The one thing I suggest is that there is hope. There’s a very high likelihood that your relationship can recover from an emotional affair. We have had success with many hundreds of couples facing these and other challenges, marriage counseling for an emotional affair begins with hope.

The offending partner must be sincere in her (or his) determination not to repeat the behavior. You must have a means of addressing all of your emotional concerns, the sadness, anger, depression, and feelings of abandonment. Forgiveness is also crucial.

For couples counseling and emotional affair recovery please contact us at 512-653-4316.

Relationship Chemistry Definition – Is it Love?

Chemistry in a relationship is like a performance; one is electrifying and another is boring. But no matter what, for love’s sake, you have to keep working at it to make it better.

Chances are you’re reading this because you’re in a relationship lacking in chemistry and wondering whether to stay or go. Maybe the chemistry was once there, but you no longer feel “in love.” Or it was never there and you suspect you made a big mistake. Consider this: Maybe the real issue isn’t so much the lack of chemistry but some other problem you haven’t identified.

ChemistryHow do you define chemistry? I think of it as a strong attraction that includes love, lust, infatuation, and a desire to be involved intimately with someone. Chemistry is emotional desire for relationship. It is outside of the realm of reason. With it, you may be attracted to someone who you know, intellectually, is not good for you. Without it, you may be with someone you respect but are not attracted to. At best, you can have both chemistry and love; at worst, you may have chemistry and misery or no chemistry and misery. Regardless your definition, chemistry is unconscious; we don’t “choose” who we’re attracted to. Even so, we aren’t helpless. We can do much to understand and manage it. Following are guidelines that can help you navigate the minefields of attraction.

  1. Do you have to have chemistry for a successful relationship? No, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you will learn to love someone. Yes, it’s possible; but if you aren’t attracted to her, you may come to resent your decision. Be honest with yourself; do not choose a relationship primarily because “she’s a good person.” This is a formula for disaster. On the other hand, if the attraction isn’t there, it can grow. Many times people grow to love one another as they get to know each other better.
  2. Because it’s unconscious, searching for chemistry in a relationship is a hit-and-miss proposition. You can find it, but you’ll have to be patient. How will you know you’ve found it? You won’t be arguing with yourself whether or not you love him. If it’s a debate, then either the chemistry is missing or he’s a poor partner for you.
  3. Once found, you’ll have to be patient again – or you may make a mistake you’ll deeply regret. Chemistry isn’t the end-all, be-all solution it may appear to be. Because it’s unconscious, feeling deeply attracted to someone can be a result of childhood issues you’re unaware of or haven’t resolved. A big red flag is when you see a problem in your partner and you tell yourself things like, “This isn’t such a big deal; I can handle this,” or “I know he has a problem, but he’s working on it,” or “He really loves me; I’m sure we’ll work it out.” Ignore these problems now and you’ll have much bigger ones to contend with later.
  4. If you’ve made it past these hurdles, you have one more challenge: The test of time. I’ve been coaching and counseling couples since 2000. One of the comments I hear most often is, “We’ve been married for years, but haven’t felt ‘in love’ since the early part of our marriage.” The “high” of new love rarely lasts more than a couple years. Once over, you’ll need to replace it with something more substantial: caring, respect, forgiveness, and an ability to communicate. These things can be learned, but you’ll have to work hard at them. Some may be difficult skills for you to master. You can definitely do it; roll up your sleeves and get to work!
  5. Can you recreate lost love? Yes! In order to do so you must have one essential ingredient – willingness on the part of both people involved. My experience with couples is once a person has “given up,” has decided in his heart he no longer wants the relationship, the chances of rekindling love are minimal. You don’t have to have a lot of willingness; faith the size of a “mustard seed” can be enough. Counseling to help resolve underlying problems and to motivate you can be helpful. Keep the faith!

David Cantu
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Chemistry in a Relationship – Is it Love? How Do You Define it?- Article © 2009

Marriage Communication Skills Coaching and Marriage Conflict Skills

If you fight a lot, join us at any of our upcoming workshops or give us a call to schedule an intitial session. 512.653.4316
Speak up; the alternative is grief.

I heard this from a friend recently: “Why is it like pulling teeth to get others to open up and say, ‘I really don’t like it when you…’”
On the same day another friend lamented, “I have so many people in my life who stew, steam, get so mad at someone, and tell everyone except that person.” Both of these people were understandably frustrated at others’ unwillingness or inability to speak their minds. Whether you have problems expressing yourself or you’re frustrated with people in your own life who don’t express themselves, the following suggestions can help you change or understand their experience.

Do you have a difficult time being assertive?
Do you avoid confrontation? Is making decisions a struggle for you? You aren’t alone; many people deal with these challenges. Often we learn to be passive and fearful as a result of childhood relationships in which parents and other adults hold all the power. From the vantage point of a child, the feeling of helpless makes sense. You may have learned to cope by giving in or backing off, rather than “arguing,” or remaining steadfast. You may have been raised by controlling or abusive parents and never learned confidence. Whatever your experience, it’s simple to see that we become what we practice. For you, authority and intimate relationships include both love and danger. The decision to protect yourself by “going along and getting along,” while necessary as a child, is kicking your butt as an adult. Regardless, you can still learn confidence and assertiveness.

Woman with Hands on EyesBeing assertive means speaking up for yourself and confronting difficult situations.
The reason this is difficult for you is that it’s more familiar to you to sulk or pretend “it isn’t such a big deal.” You likely bottle up your emotions, stew until you can’t stand it any longer, and then lash out. That’s your roller-coaster. You probably have what you imagine are good reasons for your behavior. Still, you’re unhappy; you know you have a problem; and you’re afraid to tackle it. Your complaints aren’t doing you any good because the world isn’t going to change for you. It’s time for you to take action, unless you’d rather remain frustrated, indecisive, and scared. What’s your choice? If you’ve truly decided to do something about this, I encourage you to follow this simple recipe.

1. Begin to address simple decisions with authority.
You’ll make mistakes, but the consequences of holding back from these simple choices are much more painful. Make a choice and move on, don’t dwell on “what ifs.”

2. Speak with someone you trust and can confide in; share with her how you’ve been afraid and lacked assertiveness.
Let her know you intend to change this about yourself. Ask if you can begin by being forthcoming about something that’s bothered you in your relationship with her. Hard as this may seem, it’s a small and important stepping stone on a new path.

WomanStrongWeb23. Be on the lookout for similar situations with other friends, family and co-workers.
You’ll find opportunities to express discomfort or frustration – speak up! If you miss a chance and become aware after the fact, prepare yourself mentally for a more assertive response. Do it soon; the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be.

4. You’re likely to find yourself at a loss for words sometimes.
This is to be expected. Think about it or ask a friend for advice about what you could have said. Situations when others are hostile can be especially hard to deal with. This is why you’ve begun with more manageable relationships. “Baby steps” are helpful in building self-confidence for those more challenging encounters.

5. When dealing with a combative person do not justify your actions,
become defensive, validate your view, explain the situation, or deny your behavior. Each of these responses is natural, but will only fuel his anger. Instead, acknowledge facts, verbally recognize his emotion, take responsibility for your choices, and ask what he would like to happen.

6. Assertiveness is not aggressiveness, but it may feel like it.
You’ll feel uncomfortable, maybe even sick, being firm. The discomfort is temporary and a normal response to change. You’re feeling this because you’re being different and stepping out of your comfort zone. Don’t let this stop you.

7. Be respectful in your communication.
Assertiveness isn’t an excuse to be inconsiderate or cruel. However, the pendulum often swings in the other direction; look for balance. Work on being both forthright and kind. This takes practice, and I’m sure you can do it.

David Cantu
Marriage Counselor Austin, Texas
The Art of Communication: Speak Assertively, Kindly, and Effectively – Article © 2009

Accept Them For Who They Are: Freedom in Relationships

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it. ~ Abraham Lincoln: Letter to H.L. Pierce, April 6, 1859

Relationships are sometimes a quagmire of emotion,
misunderstandings,Couple Upset and unmet expectations. Rather than feeling free and joyful, we often find ourselves feeling trapped and frustrated. I sometimes hear people lament, “I was really happy before we got together. I think I’m better off alone.” Despite the challenges of relationships, we all have boundless opportunities for intimacy and joy in a partnership. It’s just a matter of practicing what really works and giving up those things that get in our way.

The main ingredients of healthy partnerships
are effective communication, compatibility, authenticity, commitment, and love. The “secret” element, however, is acceptance; it’s a hidden but integral part of every other ingredient. Acceptance truly helps all relationships because it is a gift of freedom.

Living in Austin, Texas, can be difficult in the summer heat.
Interestingly, when I ask people about it, they generally have an easy-going attitude. The reason for this is that they see it as a “natural” occurrence, a fact of life.Couple Umbrella Yet those same people don’t see relationships in the same light. When we think about it, people agree that failures and emotions are a part of life. We intellectually understand no one is perfect and that even our best friends will sometimes let us down or get angry with us. Unfortunately, when it actually happens, when one’s spouse or girlfriend becomes highly emotional or behaves contrary to his desire, the response is frequently frustration, surprise, and resentment. Emotions and mistakes in relationships are natural but we often don’t see them that way.

Acceptance in relationships
says, “People in my life, including those I’m closest to, are going to make blunders, and more than occasionally will be angry, sad, depressed, or scared. I accept this as natural. I don’t condone the mistakes of others, but I don’t judge them either. Instead, I practice compassion and seek to understand them. I see emotion as part of the tapestry of life, something we all are learning to deal with. I don’t shy away from emotion; it’s life. I’m also not a doormat: I practice dealing with the ups and downs of others as effectively as I can. I speak up about wrong-doing. I listen to others’ frustrations with me with a willing ear, but I don’t tolerate abuse.”

Acceptance leads to freedom
Child and Balloon in relationships because one is no longer tied down by the bonds of expectation and demand. A person can still desire and hope for certain outcomes; but with acceptance, he frees himself from the result, whatever it may be. Acceptance is the gift of freedom to others and to oneself.
David Cantu
Marriage Counselor Austin, Texas
Freedom in Relationships with Acceptance – Article © 2009

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