To clients past, present and future.
To you, the reader of this blog post.
To those curious about therapy despite the WIDE variety of therapists, counselors, psychologists, social workers, etc.
To those who love deeply enough to leap for change.
To those of you who bare your soul and dare to hope.
I am grateful that I have the pleasure of working with brave people who dare to dream of a better life. I am honored to witness that change that occurs every week at Cascadia Family Therapy.
Last year at this time I addressed boundaries and how to use them effectively to have a good holiday season.
After giving a presentation to my community about boundaries and family of choice I heard a resounding theme.
It seemed the crowd had a great grasp on the concept of boundaries including how to use them and how to make them effective. The questions came as we shifted the focus to family of choice.
Family of choice refers to those who find the holidays are best spent with the family members they have chosen. Some times these are blood relatives, some times they are friends collected along the way. These are the people who make up the inner circle of your world. They are the people you trust fully and are there for you through thick and thin.
Guilt is a feeling associated with doing something wrong. Usually intentionally wrong. Or how dictionary.com puts it “the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability:He admitted his guilt.
When one gets married and especially when they have children, this is your family. Parents, siblings, and other relationships take a back seat to your marriage and children.
I suggest another word for the feeling associated with recognizing that a family of choice doesn’t include a parent(s) or sibling(s).
It sucks. No one in the world likes recognizing that a family member or someone they were raised by or raised with has a negative impact on them and their partner or children. And often those who need to build a family of choice the most have given way too much time, thought, consideration, and has given too many second chances.
Let go. Grieve. And give yourself permission to spend your holidays with people who make you feel loved, connected, and cared about.
It can be difficult to tell when you need outside help in your relationship. Relationships go through phases just like people and sometimes the stress we feel is simply a point of growth. However, when the stress or issue begins to inhibit growth and linger, it’s important to tend to the issue. Also if these behaviors or interactions occur for a long period of time or become primary ways of coping in the relationship they are red flags.
- You stop talking and start avoiding: Is there a topic you can no longer discuss because both of you get to mad or hurt? Is there a topic that you have discussed at great length with no resolution or understanding? When both partners begin giving up on finding understanding, it is an issue. It can be beneficial to have a professional guide you two to better understanding of one another instead of just avoiding.
- Withholding affection or stonewalling: when one or both partners participate in this behavior it is dooming the relationship. The good news is it’s just a coping skill, with therapy you can find more productive ways to move through issues.
- Keeping secrets: It doesn’t matter if they are financial, emotional, or any other type of secret, keeping secrets in a long term relationship doesn’t work.
- If you feel like the only problem is your partner. That isn’t how relationships work. It takes two people to build a relationship and chances are your behavior or attitude could be fueling what you don’t like in your partner. Keeping yourself stuck in the victim seat only prevents both of you from growing together building the life you do want.
- When one or both of you can no longer lighten up once in a while. When the topics or issues being avoided or the pattern that gets you two no where is so large you are no longer having date nights or having a good time together that’s when it is time to see a professional. Relationships need care and attention to survive.