Jill Baumgarner

Aim to Please: How to Talk to Each Other About Sex and Satisfaction

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By Jill Baumgarner, MA

Discussing sex with your partner should be a great experience. At the beginning of a relationship, it usually is.

People are always changing, though. Which means your desires and needs will change, too.

The longer you’re in a relationship the more likely there is a need to talk to each other about sex. Though for many, this can be an awkward moment. Sort of like walking on egg-shells.

While you certainly want to communicate your sexual needs, you may also want to avoid insulting your partner on their sexual prowess. It’s a delicate balance.

Despite the sensitive topic, following a few guidelines will help you to have a healthy conversation.

Get Out of Bed

When you talk to each other about sex, be sure you do it in a neutral location—not while you’re in bed. The goal is to make your partner feel safe, secure, and open to being vulnerable.

Instead of surprising your partner with this discussion, tell them ahead of time what you want to talk about. Preface the invitation with your desire to talk about something that’s been on your mind regarding your sex life.

Handle One Thing at a Time

Because there’s often a risk that a sexual discussion could go poorly, you may be tempted to talk about everything all at once. Trying to discuss every little thing about your sex life is not the best  approach. It can be overwhelming for your partner. Plus, the chances are not great that you will come to any conclusions.

Therefore, follow the “short-and-sweet” rule, sticking to one topic per discussion. For example, if you’d like to talk about your partner taking the initiative more often, simply focus on that one aspect of your sexual relationship.

Remember the Basics

As you head into this discussion about sex, keep in mind the basics. It’s not exactly about tackling a sex topic. It’s more like laying the foundation of your sexual relationship.

Talk about things like what initiating sexual intimacy means to your partner or what time of day they enjoy sex the most. Your partner’s natural life rhythm can greatly influence their sexual desires, so keep these facts and their concerns at the forefront of any discussion.

Take the Positive Approach

As with any discussion attempting to motivate change, the temptation is to focus on what you don’t like. Basically, you end up complaining. Avoid this approach, by all means.

Rather, offer your partner reassurance by telling them what you do like about your sexual relationship. Go as far as to discuss a certain action like the way they kiss you or caress your skin.

Only after you encourage and uplift your partner can you talk about any suggestions or concerns you may have. Keep in mind, too, that you need to leave room for them to give their point of view and be open to their feedback.

Be Incredibly Tactful

While sex is undeniably a very physical act, its impact runs far below the surface of your body. It is emotional, mental, and intangible. Further still, each person has their own unique relationship with sex.

It’s important to acknowledge that your partner could have different ideas about sex than you do. Possibly even a complicated history that affects how they feel about it.

For this reason, dedicate yourself to being as tactful as you possibly can when you talk to each other about sex. If you have trouble finding the right words, pause the conversation.  Search your mind diligently for them. Protect your partner from misunderstanding you and inadvertently hurting their feelings.

Obviously, sex can be a wonderfully intimate expression of the connection between two people. If you struggle with discussing it, take some time to determine why. Otherwise, your relationship may struggle as well.

A therapist’s objective support and guidance could make it easier if you find that you have difficulty with this subject on your own. Consider seeking out a therapist who can facilitate a discussion about sex and help you to reconnect intimately with your partner.
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Jill Baumgarner, MA, LPC Intern, works with couples at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin, helping them restore intimacy, sexual spark, gain communication skills, and find peace in their committed relationships. To schedule an appointment with Jill, contact her at 5121-270-4883, ext. 108, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

5 Affirmations Happy Couples Give Each Other Often

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By Jill Baumgarner, MA

We are regularly bombarded with images and messages about “true love.” They all seem to add to something like this:

  • You have one true soul mate out there
  • When you meet, it’s love at first sight
  • From there, well… it’s happily ever after

Sure, this is an oversimplification but, by how much? Each of us, through no fault of our own, get some very unproductive messages about relationships. Movies, books, and social media often present us with the image of what a relationship should be. This can result in big problems when real life doesn’t follow the fairytale script.

There is a very basic, yet powerful way to counter the “true love hype” in this age of social media, memes, and smartphones. What is it?

Affirmations!

What is an Affirmation?

An affirmation is defined as a positive assertion.                   

An affirmation is a conscious act. It is a mindful statement of truth.

We each have anywhere from 150 to 300 thoughts per minute. Most of the tens of thousands of thoughts we have daily are subconscious. The majority of these are negative, and most of the time we are not even aware of our negative cognitions. When we begin to pay attention and choose to mindfully be aware of the ticker tape of thoughts going on in our mind, we can then counter the negative thoughts with positive affirmations that are more helpful.

While everything else ricochets around your brain, an affirmation has a calming effect. It provides much-needed certainty among the many conflicting thoughts. Affirmations are helpful in relationship terms, as well as in individual. A steady practice of giving your partner and your relationship positive affirmations feels like a strong foundation against the changing, unpredictable winds.

When we affirm ourselves, our partner, and our relationship, we absorb the positivity. We feel it. We mean it.  We live it.

5 Affirmations Happy Couples Give Each Other Often

1. Our lines of communications are always open and always open to change.

Healthy communication is a foundational part of a happy relationship. Remember that good communication is a process — not a destination.

2. I love you as you are.

Too often, we stack up our partner against other people. Even worse, perhaps, is when we stack our partner up against some future version of them. We can love our partner as they are — while also supporting them as they evolve and grow.

3. I take responsibility for my words and actions.

No more defensiveness and passive-aggressive deflection. We will think before we act and speak and after we act and speak. If we make a mistake, we will repair that mistake and take responsibility for it.

4. I forgive when necessary and I apologize when necessary.

Hard times will happen. The goal is never perfection. When navigating rough waters, we will handle the struggle with maturity, grace, and love.

5. My respect and trust are unwavering.

No matter how our connection evolves — even if that connection dramatically shifts — respect and trust is non-negotiable. These are guiding principles for all our actions.

There’s Something Else Happy Couples Do

Leave nothing to chance. Accepting that sometimes you may need a bit of help is another way to affirm yourself, your partner, and your relationship.

Individually and as a couple, we must accept that sometimes we do better if we get outside help and support. This may mean reading books on healthy relationships, attending a workshop or weekend retreat for couples, or seeing a couples counselor. Reaching out for help with your relationship doesn’t mean your relationship is failing, it affirms that your relationship is important to you and you want to make it better and happier for you both.

The patterns we develop over time often mask what we choose not to see. To stay a “happy couple” means we must sometimes face some “unhappy” truths. We identify them, address them, and do the work to make different choices. All in all, there’s no other affirmation that shows love more clearly.
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Jill Baumgarner is a licensed professional counselor intern with the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. If you and your partner want to find new ways to affirm your relationship, contact Jill at 512-270-4883, ext. 108, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

Revenge, Rage, or Restraint? What To Do With Anger After Infidelity

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By Jill Baumgarner, MA

Recovering from an affair can be excruciating.

It doesn’t matter if you were the one betrayed or the one who did the betraying. Healing can prove to be a difficult journey. And along the path to healing, you will likely feel a great deal of anger after infidelity.

Sometimes, your anger might feel like a need for revenge and other times it could even feel like a rush of humiliated rage. While these feelings are natural, dealing with them in a healthy way might not come easily.

Here are a few tips on what to do with your post-affair anger.

Uncovering Your Anger

If you’re like most people, you probably agree that anger doesn’t often seem to need uncovering. Rather, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

You feel mad, right? Yet, there is more to anger than simply being ticked off.

Anger is often an expression of hurt. In terms of an affair, anger is usually the emotion standing center stage like a powerful singer, but it is not the painful emotion driving the song.

Emotions like fear, hurt, guilt, or inadequacy remain hidden behind the stage curtain, but they are the ones actually writing the harsh notes escaping your angry lips. In other words, anger is simply the emotion that upstages your other emotions most of the time. But those other emotions deserve more attention and anger needs more management.

So, how can you deal with the red-faced musician hogging the stage? How do you find relief?

Understanding Why Anger Isn’t the Problem

To be clear, anger is a normal reaction to an affair, both sides of an affair. An affair is traumatic. So, it’s only to be expected that intense feelings bubble up.

Feeling anger is okay. It’s all okay and it’s all natural.

Still, left unchecked by your internal management system, anger can forge a destructive path. It can be harmful to your mental and physical well-being, it can also be harmful to those around you, as you may say or do things in anger that ultimately destroy the relationship.

In short, what you do with your anger remains the issue. Not the anger itself.

Accepting Your Anger After Infidelity

Changing the past isn’t doable. This means that erasing an affair or its fallout isn’t possible either.

But, changing the future is within your control. And, believe it or not, anger has a lot to do with that.

When it comes to anger after infidelity, it’s important to let it come to you as it will. Respect your feelings and adopt a self-validating approach to these uncomfortable emotions.

You feel them for a reason, so allow yourself to feel them completely.

As well as feeling and validating your anger, make a commitment to expressing it. The hard part is knowing how to express your anger in a harmless way for you and others.

How to Express Your Anger

Expressing your anger might feel like you’re doing something wrong. It might even feel a little forbidden. Yet, when expressed appropriately, it can be very healthy.

What does it mean to express your anger appropriately?

For starters, avoid reacting towards another person in the heat of an angry moment. In fact, intense anger often requires a release far away from other people.

If you’re dealing with a whirlwind of toxic pent-up emotions, write it out. You don’t need spell check or even worry that anyone will be read it. Just write what you feel. Feel free to burn it later after you’ve released what you needed to.

Many times, anger is so overwhelming that you have to physically release it. Things like screaming into a pillow, hitting an old couch cushion, or a brisk walk for few minutes all help to release that steam.

If you’re having a hard time dealing with anger after infidelity, do not hesitate to reach out for help from a counseling professional. A counselor who works with couples and individuals in the aftermath of infidelity can help you navigate this tough time, and support you on your path to healing and helpful expression of your emotions.
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Jill Baumgarner, MA, is a licensed professional counselor intern at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. She works with couples and individuals to help them heal after relationship infidelity. Contact Jill at 512-270-4883, ext. 108, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

Is Your Second Marriage Doomed to Fail? Best Ways to Beat the Odds

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By Jill Baumgarner, MA

When you marry the first time, there’s usually a special feeling that it will last forever.

When you marry for the second time, however, that feeling may not be there because you’re keenly aware of that your first marriage didn’t last.

Sadly, divorce statistics don’t paint a more encouraging picture for those who have been married before. Some 67% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.

With those odds in mind, is your second marriage just doomed to fail? Not necessarily, if you are aware of possible obstacles that may arise, and tools to use to help beat the odds.

The Obstacles to Success

In general, second marriages face various hurdles that first marriages don’t. What are some of those?

Three formidable ones are:

  • Mistrust due to betrayal in the previous marriage

Many of those getting married a second (or third) time are unprepared to enter a new relationship when they do. Often, they are on the rebound, scarred by a previous betrayal, and simply have not allowed themselves enough time to recover from their ordeal. Without having reflected on their experience, and learned from their experience, they may repeat the same mistakes.

  • Living in the shadow of the former spouse

Those getting remarried to someone whose beloved former mate has died may find themselves in a dilemma, living in the shadow of the former spouse. On the receiving end, some feel like they’re constantly being compared to their new spouse’s ex-mate. On the inflicting end, others find they can’t stop talking about their former spouse, eventually causing resentment in their new mates.

  • Tension with extended family and friends

When two people unite that already have extended families and groups of friends, there are a lot more players who can make things stressful and challenging. Blending families, parenting strategies, divided loyalties, long-established activities—there are a number of opportunities for conflict and rivalries. Sometimes, it seems impossible to stay out of the crossfire. Under that kind of barrage, it’s no surprise that communication can break down and adversely affect their relationship.

How to Beat the Odds and Make Your Love Last

Clearly, a second marriage is not a casual undertaking. Despite the odds and obvious obstacles, though, many remarried couples have managed to find lasting love and happiness.

How can you achieve that, too?

  • Nourish trust

Open and honest personal communication between you and your new spouse is vital for nurturing the trust in your second marriage. During these talks, learn to be vulnerable and freely share your concerns and feelings with one another.

If your current spouse was betrayed by their former mate, you can take deliberate steps to demonstrate you’re different. For instance, although you’re not the one who committed the betrayal, you could agree to limit private communication with the opposite sex and with your former mate(s) letting each other know when you will or have had contact with them.

  • Create unity

It’s unrealistic to expect that either of you will simply forget your previous marriage(s). There are memories attached to every relationship we have in life. You can’t just erase them. What you can do, though, is create new and unique memories that build your new identity as a couple by regularly spending time together and focusing solely on each other.

If your new spouse needs to talk about their former mate, don’t hastily conclude that they’re comparing you to them. Instead, when you listen with compassion and empathy, you may learn that the conversation can help you draw much closer to your new mate.

If you’re the one finding yourself thinking or talking about your late ex-mate too much, try to focus on your current spouse’s endearing qualities. Reflecting appreciatively on what you love about your present partner can do much to help strengthen the unity of your new marriage.

  • Practice empathy

You may feel awkward around each other’s old friends and extended family for a time. Try to put yourself in the others’ shoes—both those of your family and friends and your new spouse.

First, show empathy when your present mate feels analyzed by your friends and family members. Moreover, show consideration for your spouse’s feelings when you spend time with old friends so that your mate doesn’t feel excluded.

And, second, show empathy for your family and friends, allowing them time to adjust to new circumstances. After all, your marriage situation changed, so your friendship/relationship dynamics could change as well. Some may not welcome that with enthusiasm.

Most importantly, don’t give up easily. The strength you need to make your second marriage last doesn’t develop overnight. You must approach the situation with a mindset of endurance and a firm determination to stay together.

Many people are proving that they have learned their lessons the first time around. Some have found that putting this knowledge to use with the support of an experienced couple’s counselor, has helped to be even more successful at building a happy and long second marriage.
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Jill Baumgarner, MA, is a licensed professional counselor intern with the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Her counseling focus is helping couples through challenging times in their relationship. Contact Jill at 512-270-4883, ext. 108, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

7 Ways Couples Counseling Can Make A Good Marriage Even Better!

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By Jill Baumgarner, MA

There’s a preconceived notion that only couples experiencing relationship issues should see a therapist. While couples counseling is recommended for anyone with marital problems, that’s not the only reason to schedule sessions.

Couples counseling is a great way to get to know your spouse on a deeper level while taking preventative measures to combat any potential problems. These seven benefits indicate that your marriage (no matter how troubled or enjoyable) can be supported by quality couples counseling:

1.   Improve communication skills

We all know that communication is a major cornerstone of every relationship, yet it seems to be something we all struggle with at times. This is, perhaps, because each of us has a different style of communication. You and your spouse certainly don’t have to agree on everything, but you should be able to appropriately relay your thoughts and feelings on a specific subject matter. In couples counseling, you will become equipped with the right tools to learn how to communicate effectively, solve problems, and understand the other’s point of view.

2.   Learn more about each other

This may surprise you, but whether you’ve been married 5, 15, or 55 years, there are probably still some things you have yet to discover about your partner. Sure, you may know their favorite clothing brand, how they take their morning coffee, or how to brighten their mood on a bad day, but do you TRULY understand your partner’s needs? Have you re-familiarized yourself with their love maps? Do you know their love language? Couples counseling will allow you and your spouse to connect and understand one another in an even deeper way.

3.   Practice assertiveness over aggression

No matter how healthy your relationship is, there are probably times when you get fed up, irritated, or even angry at one another. Couples counseling can help you to state your needs and get them met without engaging in repetitious arguments.

4.   Learn to acknowledge instead of avoid

Just as some couples handle conflict aggressively, others handle it passively. They like to bury their heads in the sand, pretending a problem doesn’t exist. Conflict is inevitable and is not something to fear. In couples counseling, you and your spouse can have a safe, unfiltered conversation about some issues you tend to slip under the relationship rug.

5.   Open yourself up to vulnerability

You and your partner love each other, right? Are you each other’s most trusted confidants? Perhaps there are still some things you probably don’t feel comfortable discussing with them. This could be anything from an embarrassing secret to unresolved trauma. While in couples counseling, you have access to an objective third party. You’re in a safe space. There, you’re encouraged to explore your deepest feelings, shared with one another, and receive support. By practicing this vulnerability in couples counseling, you’ll eventually be able to take home much-improved communication and empathy skills.

6.   Prevent change from hijacking your connection

The longer you and your spouse are together, the more likely it is that problems arise. While there is nothing inherently “wrong” with a problem, you want to be prepared to cope productively. As life is happening, a counselor can help you and your partner identify trouble spots, encourage strengths, and stay on course regarding your relationship goals. By acknowledging challenges and transitions with a counselor, you can move forward more successfully.

7.   Gain more mutual respect

Throughout the couples counseling process, you can come to understand yourself and your partner on a deeper level. You’ll understand why they react a certain way. You’ll gain insights into why particular responses or interactions really bother you. By understanding the reasoning behind your thoughts and feelings, you’ll be able to better respect each other.

Don’t shy away from couples counseling. It isn’t a sign that your relationship is on its last legs. You certainly needn’t wait that long. Take the next steps to better your relationship. Your marriage can benefit from having an encouraging counselor in your corner.
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Jill Baumgarner, MA is a licensed professional counselor intern with the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. If you are seeking to improve your marriage or relationship with your partner, contact Jill at 512-270-4883, ext. 108, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

Are You A People Pleaser? Use These 6 Tips To Break The Habit

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By Jill Baumgarner, MA

Humans are wired for connection to others. Relationships are important to us!

The feeling of being well-liked and well-loved by others - especially family, friends, and work-colleagues - is part of our innate desire to make and maintain connection with people who are important to us.

It’s natural to have a handful of people in your life that you want to make proud.

However, when that handful becomes most of your phone contact list then it’s likely you’ve adopted a people pleasing mindset. This perspective and its accompanying behaviors can quickly become detrimental to your life and physical well-being.

Is it possible to change your people pleasing behavior, stop stressing, and give up trying to make everyone else happy?

Of course!

Here are a few tips to say goodbye for good to the people pleasing way of life.

1. Recognize Your Choice in the Matter

People pleasing can be a cycle that makes you feel stuck.

Others see you as reliable and the person who will always pull through for them. But, do you often feel obligated or forced to please people the way you do? Do you feel guilt or shame about the prospect of saying “no” to requests or expectations others have for you?

One very important thing to remember is that you have a choice. You are not obligated to live just to make others happy.

Recognizing your choice will help you slow down and rethink the people pleasing cycle you are in.

2. Locate Where It All Started in the First Place

You might have wondered how you developed the people pleasing habit. Now is the time to figure out the origin of this behavior.

Were you rewarded or greatly praised for helping others as a child? Maybe you were raised by people pleasing parents and it’s simply been modeled for you when you were growing up. Being a people pleasure may feel like what you “should” do or the kind of person you “need” to be.

Knowing how it got started will help you to fill areas of your life with something else, rather than continuing down the people pleasing path.

3. Figure Out Why People Pleasing is Still Rewarding to You

You can also take your origin quest a step further and determine why people pleasing is still a way of life for you.

Why do you choose to make other people happy before making yourself happy?

Are you afraid they’ll be disappointed? Do you still seek the reward you were given as a child? Do you think people won’t like you if you stop living up to their expectations?

Knowing why you still feel obligated to please everyone will be a big step toward ending the behavior altogether.

4. Make a Very Short List and Stick to It

As mentioned before, it’s natural to want to others to care about you and be proud of you.

In your endeavor to stop people pleasing, intentionally determine whose happiness matters as much as your own. This list will likely include your partner, close friends, and family.

Everyone else will need to hear “no” from you more often from now on. Focus on those who truly love you and genuinely show them your love in return.

5. Learn to Accept Others’ Negative Response

One of the most difficult parts of giving up the people pleasing lifestyle is the perceived disappointment from others.

When you first start telling people that you won’t help, you might feel a little off-kilter. You might even feel like you let them down or that you are behaving selfishly.

The first few times you say “no” to a request, or don’t immediately volunteer to do something for someone are always the hardest. Lean into your feelings and realize that this is a normal part of breaking the pattern. Enduring the discomfort will help you learn to establish healthy boundaries for yourself. It may be a struggle in the beginning, but it will get easier the more you practice changing your people pleasing behavior.

6. Put Yourself First

Putting your own needs first might sound selfish. It’s anything but!

After all, how can you give your best to others if you’re constantly drained and exhausted from ignoring your own needs?

You can’t. And, that’s not something anyone deserves.

It’s important to take care of yourself first by establishing a healthy self-care routine. Think of it as keeping your gas tank full in your vehicle. Refuel your own tank routinely with premium grade nutrition, exercise, downtime, and rest.
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Jill Baumgarner, MA, is a licensed professional counselor intern at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. She works with men, women, and couples to help them break the people pleasing habit in their relationships. Contact her 512-270-4883, ext. 108 to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling Page.

Extramarital Affairs: 10 Excuses People Give For Having Them

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By Jill Baumgarner, MA

People can offer many excuses for a variety of reasons, all to defend or justify a fault or offense.

Excuses for why a work project wasn’t completed on time, or for getting fired from their job after only two weeks. Excuses for coming home late every day after work for the past month, or perhaps claiming a speeding ticket was undeserved “because everyone drives over the speed limit on that road!”

We’ve all done it at one time or another. Given a perfectly plausible reason as a defense or justification for some act or behavior that was really our own fault. Excuses are a way to avoid taking responsibility for our actions, whether the infraction was large or small.

When it comes to marriages and relationships with our partners, excuses about romantic involvement outside the relationship commitment is a slippery slope.

Men and women alike may give all sorts of reason for why they were unfaithful to their partner — from the most comprehensible to the most outrageous.

The truth is, any romantic involvement outside your committed relationship is damaging to your union with your partner. There is no justification for having an affair when you have made a commitment to someone.

A common misconception is that an extramarital affair is about having sex with someone other than your partner. The fact is, extramarital affairs include emotional affairs, sending notes and pictures via text, email, social media private messaging, or any other dalliance outside your committed relationship with your partner.

Here are a few common excuses that may be used when someone has been unfaithful to their marriage or committed relationship. Even though they may be used frequently, they don’t hold water when it comes to cheating on your partner.

Excuses for Infidelity

1: It’s not love, it’s just sex

Some truly believe that having an extramarital affair is acceptable if it’s purely about sex. They think their spouse has nothing to complain about if they don’t have an emotional connection to their affair partner. Saying “I don’t love them,” doesn’t make it any less hurtful for the faithful spouse or partner.

2: I can’t help it

“I’m made this way” is an excuse that some may use. The notion that genetic influences or primitive instincts cancel out a person’s responsibility for relationship choices has no substance. If you “can’t help” but be unfaithful to your partner, there is likely a problem other than your relationship that needs to be addressed.

3: I don’t know why I did it

Completely renouncing responsibility for an emotional or a physical affair, is like saying you have no control over what you watch on television or how much you eat. Of course, there are a lot of factors that play into making decisions, and some things can influence a person to make bad choices.  In the end, it’s still a choice that is made and saying, “I don’t know why I did it,” is avoiding exploration of what happened and owning the relationship infidelity.

4: Technology made it easy

No debate here! The Internet, cell phones, and social media have made flirting and cybersex something accessible and easy to engage in. Of course, not everyone is hoping to eventually meet in-person someone they have been engaging with via text messages, private messages on social media, email, or other websites. Still, even “just” doing these things online is a breach of contract for any monogamous relationship. It’s a betrayal of a commitment to a spouse or partner, and it’s just as hurtful as an emotional or physical extramarital affair.

5: The other person made me feel good

After years of being with one person, it’s not surprising that a person seeks affirmation that they’re still attractive, interesting, funny, intelligent, etc. Instead of addressing this concern with their spouse and working on reconnecting, some may find it easier to look outside their marriage or relationship for the fulfillment of their emotional needs—affection, attraction, admiration, and conversation. Looking outside the relationship for affirmation may seem harmless at first, but it leads to further disconnection and emotional distance from your partner, which is not the direction to be going for healing your relationship.

6: My needs aren’t met

When one partner doesn’t have the same drive or interest in sexual activities as their partner, some people think it is perfectly acceptable to indulge in their fantasies with someone else. The underlying problem may be a lack of clear communication between the partners about sex in the relationship. It may be something else entirely. But, addressing this with your spouse or partner is the place to start having your needs met. Seeking professional help if you can’t see eye-to-eye on how to meet each other’s needs is a good next step.

7: My spouse has changed

People change over time. We all learn, grow, and change as the years move on. When someone falls in love with certain personality traits or looks, “they’re not the same person I met,” may sound like a plausible excuse for being unfaithful. Maybe they feel their spouse has changed physically, philosophically, or perhaps there is more focus on the children than on the relationship. Maybe romantic gestures and kindnesses of courtship are distant memories. Rather than look outside your relationship, look for the things you fell in love with that are still present in your partner. Successful couples grow together and continue to learn about each other through the life of their relationship, even as one or both changes.

8: We weren’t meant for each other

If the complex dynamics of a long-term relationship become unbalanced, some people may begin to feel that they married the wrong person. Maybe they believe they married too young or were too inexperienced to make a good choice for a life partner. If a balance isn’t reestablished, frustration often rises, fighting ensues, and soon they’re looking for a way out.

9: I’m unhappy/bored

The demands of making a living and raising a family can wreak havoc on romance. Moreover, a lack of communication and connection can lead to feeling unhappy. The excuse of having “fallen out of love” with their spouse, though, only serves to stifle an underlying sense of guilt and responsibility and makes a person more vulnerable to extramarital affairs. Some feel that an affair will make their life more exciting and spice up their marriage. The excuse of boredom for cheating on your partner is unfair to you, to your partner, and to your union as a couple. Being bored in your relationship happens sometimes, and that’s a signal that it’s time to focus on your relationship and find ways to become “un-bored” in your relationship or marriage.

10: My partner did it, so I can too

It can sometimes happen that, in the aftermath of an extramarital affair, the betrayed partner often feels as though they “deserve” to even the playing field by having an affair of their own. Unfortunately, this adds insult to injury. By adding another wound to the relationship, the couple can be even further from finding trust again.

This list could go on and on. The list of damages extramarital affairs cause is just as long!

While something may be driving a person to be unfaithful, the choice to go through with it is never the faithful partner’s fault. However, understanding the underlying reasons can help both parties to move on, or perhaps repair their broken relationship. Often, the help of a counseling professional who specializes in working with couples is a step that can get your relationship back on solid ground.
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Jill Baumgarner is a licensed professional counselor intern at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Her practice specialty is working with couples to help them with infidelity recovery, sexual health, regain intimacy in their relationship, and improve communication skills. Request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling Page, or call her at 512-270-4883, ext. 108.

 

Infidelity and Broken Trust: 5 Reasons Why Couples Counseling is Your Best Option

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By Jill Baumgarner, MA

Few things can disrupt your relationship like infidelity.

While infidelity doesn’t have to end your relationship, it is a major cry for help.

Couples counseling can help salvage your relationship after a betrayal like infidelity.

Why Couples Counseling Is Your Best Option

1. Express Anger with a Third Party Present

If you’re the betrayed party, your anger can be intense and righteous. This anger should lessen over time, but it is likely to be very strong in the early stages after you discover it.

It’s understandable and natural to feel and express anger in this situation. But it’s wiser to do it with a neutral third party. You can still vent your anger, but a counselor can help you do it in a less damaging way.

2. Check the Root Causes

Some people may have other issues that can make infidelity more likely to occur. Addiction to alcohol or drugs commonly occur, but substance addiction is never an excuse for cheating. Yet, an addiction is often brought to light after discovering infidelity. You can encourage your addicted partner to get help for that issue as well.

Jobs are another common factor in infidelity. People in certain professions are more likely to cheat on their partners. Some may even have to change jobs to decrease temptation.

3. Identify and Address Underlying Issues

The unfaithful partner is always responsible for his or her own actions. But infidelity is also rarely an act that occurs in a vacuum. Unaddressed issues in your relationship need to be out into the open.

Many couples have hidden resentments in their relationship that are never addressed. But this can create the kind of environment that allows infidelity to occur. Resentments do need to be addressed so that both partners can move past them.

Talking about past resentments isn’t going to be comfortable. It will likely include at least one difficult conversation, if not several of them. Non-judgmental listening will help your partner feel safe enough to share these feelings. But you may not be able to have this conversation without a mediator. This discussion is best held in the safe environment of a counselor’s office. 

4. Learn to Prevent Future Infidelity

Unfortunately, there’s no 100 percent foolproof infidelity fighter. But strengthening your relationship makes infidelity less likely. Expect some time for healing if your partner was the unfaithful one. It’s okay if you aren’t ready to invest in your relationship yet.

Having more positive interactions will help restore your relationship. These efforts also help to prevent future infidelity. But you will likely need some help to discover the right actions to take. Both partners need to learn how to show love and appreciation to each other.

Though, you need to learn how to do it in a manner that the other can appreciate. It’s like starting over again—but this time, you get help to do things the right way.

5. How to Reestablish Trust

Rebuilding trust after infidelity is a long and difficult process. The offending party likely wants to be forgiven right away and to put things behind them. But it will take time to establish the trust that was lost.

This generally requires a series of steps by the unfaithful partner to prove accountability. They may need to be more transparent about where they’re spending their time. They may need to share access for social media, email and even bank account information. And they may have to give up some privacy to prove their trustworthiness.

A counselor can help you determine the unique steps you need to take to help you rebuild trust.

Unquestionably, infidelity is a difficult experience in any relationship. But it doesn’t have to spell the end. When you still love each other, couples counseling can help you heal the rift. You can even make things better than they were before.
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Jill Baumgarner, MA, LPC Intern is a couples therapist at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin (RCC Austin). She works with couples recovering from relationship infidelity, helping them to regain emotional connection and to reignite the erotic spark they once had. Call her at 512-270-4883, ext. 108 to schedule. You may also request an appointment with her by submitting the completed form on the RCC Austin Scheduling Page and request her as your counselor.