Author Archive for Dawn Kaffel

Holidays – a Dream or a Nightmare?

Holidays are usually seen as a break from the stresses and strains of everyday life, a chance to take a deep breath and have a change from everyday routine.

Going away with your significant other can be joyful and a great time to spend more time together to relax and reconnect. However for others spending a period of concentrated time together can be difficult and stressful and not always a bed of roses!

Perhaps it is taken for granted that because we go on holiday it means that we should get on better, but if there are issues that are unresolved they are going to come on holiday with you!!

So as we approach a time in the year where thoughts go to planning a holiday here are a few guidelines to avoid some of the common pitfalls:

1.Plan the holiday together.  Make sure you are both going somewhere that you both want to visit.  This can eliminate disappointment and frustration of the others choice of destination.

2.Make it clear and discuss what you both want to achieve from your holiday.

3.If you want to sit in the sun and your partner prefers to explore and sightsee, just make sure there is enough time and space to do the things you both want to do, both separately and together.

4.Don’t make the mistake of doing too much running around on holiday and replicating what happens at home.  A holiday is the opportunity to do something different from the normal. Doing nothing and just being comfortable with this is part of relaxing on holiday.

5.It’s important that we feel that we have our partner’s undivided attention, so avoid constant use of mobile phones and laptops.  If you need to be in touch with the office, make sure it is the minimum and at a time that suits you both and quickly return to holiday mode.

6. Don’t use the holiday to bring up past arguments and resentments.  It will be much more beneficial to focus on the positive bits of each other to help relax, reconnect and achieve closer intimacy so you can deal with the niggles and annoyances better when you return home.


Dawn Kaffel


How to tell if your relationship is in trouble

If you are continually fighting with each other, what does that say about your relationship?

When you need each other the most why can’t you communicate and stay connected rather than turn against each other?

If you find yourself in a relationship where you are continually fighting, this is not necessarily an accurate barometer of where the relationship is.  We can spend a long time in therapy trying to make sense of an argument and what it means but the real barometer when we fight is to be aware of the distance it causes between us.

There are times in a relationship when we feel loved and safe and secure that it’s ok to argue and fight.  But when we can’t connect with the person we love, and we don’t feel very secure – this is scary and creates distance.

When a relationship is in trouble we tend to start a dance which Sue Johnson, the founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples writes in her book Hold me Tight calls the Demon Dialogues.  One person starts complaining and criticising and gets angry and the other starts defending and stonewalling.  The couple get caught up in the dance which takes on a life of its own as it gains momentum and very soon we see the other person as the enemy.

As therapists working with the Emotionally Focused therapy model we can help couples stand back and look at the patterns they are caught up in.

Its about learning how to step out of the pattern, stand back  and reach out for each other to sooth and calm and create emotional safety between the two of you.

By paying more attention and valuing our relationship it is really possible to find a better barometer for understanding our unhappiness and hopefully take care of it sooner.  This makes for a more active approach to marriage.

For further information visit

Dawn Kaffel


How to Survive Long Distance Relationships

More and more couples appear to be struggling with the affects of being in long distance relationships.

This can either take the shape of couples who usually for reasons of work, spend long periods of time apart often in different countries, with different time zones and meet up for short bursts of time or couples who are forever juggling the comings and goings of regular travelling often having to stay away from home on regular nights or weeks which disrupts the home life balance.

Struggling with the highs of a reunion and the lows of separation can be an emotional roller coaster that affects the partner that is absent as well as the partner that remains at home.

The partner that has been away often returns expecting more attention and interest only to be disappointed that the partner at home may be too preoccupied with daily life and too tired with having to manage everything to attend to new needs.

Despite the difficulties long distance relationships can bring, they are doable and can often be very rewarding as long as you are prepared to talk to each other about what you are finding difficult and find ways to tolerate the loss and pain which long distant relationships may bring

What to watch out for:

  • Although the internet age and texting has made long term relationships easier to connect it is not always easy to talk about what you are finding difficult.
  • Loss of a physical connection, no touching or hugs let alone no sex, can be hard to re-establish, take it slowly and be more mindful that it might be different for each other and lots of shared reassurance may be required.
  • Making a life for yourself to compensate for what is not possible in the relationship is important but can often lead to feeling of jealousy, so often words of comfort and wishing you were with me can help.
  • Finding routines that work for both when you may be separated by large time differences is difficult but partners need the reassurance that you are trying to put time aside to connect even though its difficult.

Spend time creating plans for the next meet up and target shared ideas. Surprising each other can feel special.

Yes long distance relationships, like any relationships bring their own set of issues but they can be overcome with a lot of work to make it work better for you.

Dawn Kaffel

Emotion is the Glue in our Relationships

Every day we talk to couples because they are either struggling with their relationship and want to stay in it and want *more from it, or they want to get out of a relationship that is no longer working and is causing distress and pain.  Equally single clients are often looking to be in a relationship and wondering why they are finding it difficult to find a partner.

The turning point is finding new ways to face these challenges and the key to transforming your relationship starts with understanding our emotional connections.  Working with emotions can give you a stronger and more vital relationship.

Getting a clearer picture of how emotions play a role in your relationships opens up new ways of understanding yourself and engaging with your partner.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) enables couples to become more trusting of their emotions and in turn more tuned in to their emotional experience which makes for a more effective relationship.

EFT helps change on-going negative cycles of arguing and conflict by helping couples understand their more vulnerable emotions of fear and hurt.

The EFT Therapy process focuses not only on what happens between two partners but it also encourages each partner to develop greater self-awareness of his or her own emotions.

If you are lacking in emotional self –awareness you may:

  • React rather than respond to your partner
  • Not know how your arguments escalate
  • Not realise how your emotions are sometimes overwhelming

If you are more emotionally self –aware you are better able to:

  • Notice an emotion when it presents itself
  • Manage your responses to others better
  • Choose a response with more awareness.

Dawn Kaffel


In your relationship are you the high desire person (HDP) or the low desire person (LDP)?

According to David Schnarch in his thought provoking book INTIMACY AND DESIRE ‘Sexual desire problems are part of the normal healthy processes of marriage’ its how we go about them that is the difficulty. According to his approach there is always a low desire partner and there is always a high desire partner and there is one of each in every relationship.

If we look at our own relationship there is a LDP and a HDP on virtually every issue and decision we make. Whether it’s deciding to move in together, visiting family or having sex.  One partner wants to do something (the HDP) that the other doesn’t (the LDP).  Even if you want to do the same thing, one of you will want it more. Depending on the issues, positions change.  You may be the HDP for sex and intimacy but the LDP for having children.

The LDP and HDP are relative positions in a relationship. Being the LDP person doesn’t mean you have no desire.  You could want sex every day and still be the LDP person if you are in a relationship with someone who wants sex twice a day.  Accepting LDP and HPD as positions in a relationship helps make us less defensive about our levels of sexual desire.  It gives both partners a more equal standing for dealing with each other.

Another rule of sexual desire that David Schnarch adheres to is that the LDP in a relationship always controls sex. Understanding this is one of the “people growing processes” The HDP usually initiates sex.  The LDP decides whether to respond.  This determines if and when sex happens.  This gives LDP control of sex whether it is wanted or not.

How you feel about yourself, your partner and your relationship is essential for personal growth. Stop blaming, be less defensive and be more curious. If you can tolerate the anxiety of hearing and saying difficult things and sooth your own emotions you are on course for a more integrated meaningful sexual relationship.

Dawn Kaffel