Archive for addiction

Building and Repairing Trust

As we watch with astonishment the battle that is being played out between Clinton and Trump and the bitter attacks that are being thrown at each other, its very difficult to believe that we can trust either of them to fulfil the role of President of the United States.

Being able to trust your partner is one of the cornerstones of a healthy strong relationship. Without trust it’s difficult to build a strong connection that helps deepen and grow a relationship. We need trust to feel safe and secure and have confidence that our partners are there for us physically and emotionally.
Building trust in a partnership is a gradual process and requires commitment from both parties. It is the foundation of any long term relationship and helps to
make us feel confident and secure with each other. It also helps us cope with challenges that may arise in the future trusting that our partner is there by our side throughout more difficult and testing times.
Being able to trust ourselves is an important element in being able to trust a partner. Perhaps you may have been hurt in the past, which may affect your ability to trust yourself and therefore others.

At Coupleworks we see many couples struggling with trust issues in their relationships for many different reasons such as money, addiction, texting, emotional and physical affairs. Trust is one of the easiest feelings to loose and the hardest to regain. Without it couples find it hard to deepen their relationship.

How to build Trust – Its worth checking out these pointers:

Are we there for each other?
Does your partner listen to you and is open with you?
Do you feel your partner supports you?
Do you feel genuinely cared about?
Do you feel its safe to talk about feelings and you don’t get a negative response?
Can you depend on your partner?
Is there consistency in what your partner says and how they behave?

What happens when we lose Trust

Not being open and honest with each other, keeping secrets erodes trust.

At times lack of trust can be something we experienced as children growing up in our family of origin. This imprint we can take into our adult relationships and may make us feel more vulnerable around trust issues. Its important to understand whether the mistrust is a pre-existing condition or something that has developed in the relationship due to the behaviour of your partner.
Believing that your partner does not have your best interests at heart can lead to a lack of trust creeping into your relationship.
Loosing trust in one another can be damaging and long lasting often creating wounds and scars that prevent closeness and intimacy growing between partners.
Betrayal of trust such as an affair can lead to trauma and injury.

Affairs can completely rock a marriage. According to psychotherapist Esther Perel while infidelity can shatter trust, it doesn’t mean couples cant find a way to rebuild their relationships.

How to repair Trust

Understanding this is a crisis in a relationship
Consider each other’s views and feelings and listen to each other calmly
Engage in positive and constructive discussion
Strong shared motivation to work together to resolve the issue
Understanding and appreciating the damage caused
The more effort put into the repair process the more you will make it through the crisis

Sometimes, despite all efforts, repairing a relationship when trust has been tested is not possible, seeing a couples counsellor may be a good idea if you are stuck and unable to move forward.

“The most precious thing in the world is trust – without trust you have nothing – with it you can do great things”

 
Dawn Kaffel

Addiction in a Couple

In couple therapy where one has an acknowledged addiction, there is a real challenge for them to see that this situation can only be changed by both partners adapting their behaviours.
Addictions are based on distorted thinking and this is underpinned by the co-dependency that often accompanies these complicated couples.
Therapy can be a safe place to unpick the misconceptions that form the fragile shell that appears to protect, but actually blocks, a healthy way forward.
Therapists should be wary of allowing the addiction to be the sole focus when it is actually both of them who are keeping the couple stuck.
It’s sometimes hard for the seemingly supportive partner to acknowledge that their enabling behaviour actually exacerbates the situation. It’s difficult to understand that kindness can be a block, but by caring and sheltering the other they are co-operating with the addiction.
Intimacy for some couples can be based on the concept of one persons drive to rescue and the others apparent inability to escape their dependency.
Addicts suffer from low self-esteem and drama keeps them attached to their partner by the attention they receive. Many ‘carers’ are terrified of abandonment so by becoming pivotal to the situation, they keep the other close and connected. One thinks they show love by nurturing while the other is kept safe by being looked after.  The dynamic is seen through the window of one person’s distress and the other ones hope of rescuing the problem.
In therapy, clients can begin to unravel this by looking at the early systems from childhood that may reinforce repeated patterns in adulthood.  They can examine what processes may have led each of them to seek the role they adopt. And by understanding some of the unconscious systems that they follow they can, together with the therapist, begin to explore a way to change the situation.
Shame is very close to addiction, and couples can benefit hugely from the safe space offered in therapy where they can begin to feel able to discuss their vulnerabilities. Self-compassion is so important, as without knowing and tolerating our own faults, it can be hard to believe that it’s possible for an other to accept us.
There can never be true intimacy without vulnerability, but in the counselling room people can gently begin to reveal their fears and allow themselves the risk of being accepted and can then see that they can also love the other completely in spite of both their flaws.
By taking responsibility for their current situation, many people can free themselves from the fear of repeating negative patterns.
Breaking a serious addiction is the work of a lifetime and requires specialist help, but by giving up the toxic control and trusting that there is a better life, many people can, and do, triumph over their dependencies.

Christina Fraser

We need to talk about Sex Addiction

A recent TEDx talk by Paula Hall, a specialist in treating both men and women who experience sexual addiction, is well worth watching.

In it she stresses the need to recognise and talk about the increasing problem in our society of sexual addiction.

What she means by that is an addiction or compulsivity where a person’s sexual behaviours have grown beyond their control.

This can manifest itself for example in the use of pornography, compulsive masturbation, the need for affairs, multiple one-night stands or cybersex. It is not the amount of sex or any particular way of having sex that is the issue; it is where these behaviours have become out of control and interfere with a person’s ability to form relationships or are having other unwanted effects on their lives. For instance these could include a lack of engagement with a wider social circle, poor concentration and performance at work, anxiety or depression.

As is well known the Internet and smart phones have led to an increase in the availability of pornography, which is now accessed by so many. That is in itself is not a problem, but when the use of porn is being used for example to numb some deeper emotional distress, or to alleviate boredom, this can lead to an addiction. As with alcohol and drugs, a cycle of addiction develops leading to distorted thinking and self-justification coupled with a desire for secrecy and feelings of shame.

Paula Hall argues that the easy access of pornography compounded by the lack of education of the risks that involves is what is leading to an increase in sexual addiction. To counteract these she says that people need to be able to talk more openly about these problems and to be less judgmental and more compassionate about those who experience these difficulties.

Coupleworks counsellors often come across clients for whom these issues are a problem either to an individual or within a relationship. From our experience we would strongly agree that naming the problem can provide the starting point for real healing.

Sarah Fletcher