Sunday, December 19, 2010


As Akash explains his marital relationship, there are tears brimming in his eyes. He looks down, unable to look the therapists in eye as he talks about why his marriage was not consummated even though they had been married for nearly 4 years now. They met at a wedding and he was instantly drawn towards Alka. Before the week ended he proposed to Alka through a common family friend. Alka and Akash met a couple of times before they committed to get married. As they courted, Akash sensed that Alka seemed disinterested in him and he asked her about her lack of enthusiasm, but she brushed it aside. They got married shortly and didn’t get much time to discuss this further in all the wedding preparations.
The wedding night Alka seemed to be very scared of sexual intercourse and Akash thinking that she will overcome it as time goes by, focused on making her feel comfortable in his joint family. Despite Alka’s efforts to be an ideal wife and Akash’s efforts to break the ice between the family members and Alka, she was unable to mingle with her family. Soon there began arguments which turned into huge fights between his mother and Alka. Initially he tried to explain to Alka that his mother used strong words to express her disappointments and that if she just let things be, it would help bridge gaps. But Alka was unable to digest this and started withdrawing and/ or getting righteous whenever she was criticized. Often they would end up in an argument wherein Alka felt that Akash was unable to stand up for himself and her. She complained of feeling unprotected in the family environment and they decided to move out on their own to maintain peace, sanity and intimacy in his marriage.
He got the desired benefits and they became closer to each other in their own house. Alka also started coming out of her shell and shared her feelings of how she thought that Akash was very naïve and not smart. He felt extremely hurt initially but also started matching up with her expectations of a husband. So he started learning dance, grooming himself well and even life coaching for his business. They now seemed to share some fun moments, however he was perpetually falling short of her expectations. He seemed to have gotten out of his mothers rows of criticism only to fall in love with a person who only could match his mother in being critical.
Soon he started feeling insecure and jealous of all his friends and cousins who seemed to evoke respect and / or interest of his wife. He found himself often in the periphery of their life events and withdrew further into his depression. He would often wonder with whom his wife talks to when he was at office. So he started giving ‘surprises’ to his wife when she least expected to check on her activities. On one such visit, he found his cousin cum business partner and wife in a compromising position. This is when he totally lost his faith and he started hurling abuses at her and at the same time criticizing himself. She unable to bear the abuse in a no – love marriage decided to move out into a rented apartment by herself. This made him even more insecure. He started begging and pleading at times in hope of getting her back and at other times he would shower her with violent abuses.
He blamed himself viciously for the break up of the marriage at times in his therapy and at other times he felt absolutely justified as she seemed to have evoked / instigated all this. It was now at a point wherein he did not know how mend their marriage. He was unable to forgive or forget her. He felt like an animal and was ashamed and scared as well as angry. Let us look at some of the theories to understand how and what this jealousy is and how one can overcome it.
Jealousy is a complex monster that develops from the melding of three other emotions - fear, anger and love. Romantic jealousy can be defined as “a perception of a threat of loss of a valued relationship to a real or imagined rival”. Jealousy in committed relationships is cultural and universal as a boundary-setting mechanism to protect certain relationships as important and exclusive. to protect the relationship of physical intimacy and self-disclosure from trespassers. In fact, all committed relationships, where physical and emotional intimacy exists (including purely sexual relationships), will be subjected to jealousy. Early attachment problems with significant others are known to profoundly affect feeling secure in future relationships, particularly the capacity to initiate and maintain loving relationships in adulthood. Given that attachment relates to anxiety regulation, support, and intimacy, it is not surprising that attachment also relates to jealousy.
According to the attachment theory of love, an adult becomes a secure lover, avoidant lover or an anxious-ambivalent lover in his or her romantic relationships based on the quality of his or her childhood parental relationship. Secure lovers are people who are comfortable with intimacy and have no problems with others feeling close to them. In contrast, avoidant lovers feel uneasy when close to another person. They have difficulty trusting or depending upon a partner. The third type, anxious-ambivalent lovers want to desperately get close to a partner, but often find that the partner does not reciprocate the feeling. This insecure relationship is often due to too much anxiety within the relationship stemming from the feeling that the partner does not really love them.
When "paranoia" or extreme distrust, arises in a relationship there are many factors which can be causing it. It is absolutely necessary to understand where these feelings are coming from, or else it is easy to act out in the relationship, blame the partner, put all kinds of unhealthy demands upon him, and even believe that he is cheating on you when he is not. Not only does this destroy his trust in himself and good feelings about himself, but he can easily grow to feel there is no way he can please you, or make you secure and happy.

When an individual gives into these feelings of paranoia, (or extreme fear, suspiciousness and jealousy,) and begins to create more and more restrictions upon the partner, or demand more and more information about what he is doing, this is often the beginning of the end.

Loving another person does not mean possessing them, or having them there simply to help you feel better about yourself. This does not take their needs into account. It is not loving or respectful of them, of who they are.

In all relationships each individual needs time alone, time with friends and of course time together. When we take away a person's individuality and freedom to enjoy all aspects of their lives and grow, we are not behaving in a loving way. Sooner or later the individual begins to feel it, and can feel trapped, misunderstood and blamed falsely. Naturally, they then often think of ways of getting out of a relationship such as this.
Much like infidelity, distrust can leave an indelible mark on a relationship and challenge even the strongest of marriages. Depending on a variety of circumstances, such as whether or not distrust and dishonesty have become a constant in the relationship, couples can work through past hurts to become closer together if both are committed to making positive changes.

If one requires that their partner take away the pain they are feeling, they will be disappointed sooner or later. They are looking in the wrong direction. No matter how loving a person is, no matter how solid the relationship, they cannot take away pain and confusion that exists within oneself. We have to take responsibility for our feelings and work them through on our own. Psychotherapy is an insight oriented process and helps couples achieve this. Do not hesitate to take professional help of a psychotherapist if you find yourself going around in circles.
Handling insecurity and jealousy in a relationship can be difficult. However, change is possible once you understand their underlying causes. In order to overcome insecurity, people need to:

* Be willing to be put in vulnerable positions in life where they might get hurt.
* Take risks to change their current behavior.
* Trust others enough to expose themselves to them, risking vulnerability and the possibility of being hurt.
* Have a healthy and humorous belief in themselves in order to overlook their exaggerated need for acceptance and approval.
* Take a rational approach to each problem they face so that they are no longer inhibited by debilitating fears or beliefs.
* Practice assertive behavior in their lives, earning respect and the acknowledgment of their rights.
* Arouse the courage to take small steps in learning to experience success and overcoming their lack of belief in self. Once the success is experienced, they can build on it to gain the courage to act out of a strong conviction in their self-goodness and worth.
* Break the barrier or outer shell of the self-doubt they have hidden behind and reach out to others. Breaking out of their "shells" requires letting go of past hurts (real or imagined) and moving on with life.
* Open themselves to the possibility of success and accomplishment. Visualize or make a prophecy of winning at life so their energies are focused in a growth direction.
* Reward themselves for who they are and capitalize on their strengths, attributes, skills and competencies.

Answer the following questions to handle insecurity:
a. What behavior traits signal my insecurity?
b. What happened in my past to make me insecure?
c. What are some of my beliefs that account for my insecurity?
d. What are some negative consequences I've experienced due to my insecurity?
e. What behavior traits do I need to develop in order to overcome my insecurity?

Even in a loving and open relationship, it is normal to experience some paranoia or doubt. However, if you find yourself overwhelmed with distrust and suspicion, it's time to confront your spouse. Whether he or she is guilty or not, it is important that you clear your conscience and put yourself at peace.
Confront your spouse but avoid making accusations at all costs. Your spouse will automatically react defensively, and if you are wrong, which you very well may be, you run the risk of making some painful and potentially permanent dents in your relationship. It is never a good idea to hurl unfounded accusations at your spouse. Instead, approach him or her with compassion and trust. Tell your spouse that you have been experiencing some worries in your relationship. Make sure and let your spouse know that you are approaching him or her out of love and a genuine concern for your relationship. It is extremely important that you do not attack them or judge them before finding out all of the facts. Specify what concerns you, keeping in mind not to accuse.
Accordingly, if your spouse is the one experiencing doubt, the most important thing to remember is that he or she is simply concerned out of love for you. Instead of immediately lashing out in defense, take time to consider what your spouse is saying and consider how it might make you feel if the situation were reversed. Instead of getting offended, be compassionate and empathetic. Your spouse will calm down when he or she sees that you have truly have nothing to hide. A defensive response, even if you are not guilty, makes you look as if you're trying to divert attention from the issue at hand.
Doubt in a relationship has serious and obvious consequences, and you and your spouse must work together to eradicate these feelings and concerns. Jealousy is a very strong emotion and often a culprit in leading to marriage breakups. It helps if there are intense emotions and hurts to take help of a psychotherapist who can sit down with both of you to help each of you gain objective insights into your own thoughts, emotions and behaviours which are causing this drift in your marriage and help you both arrive at a solution.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Enhancing communication and intimacy in marraige

Even in the strongest of relationships, there will be times when small irritations can cause mountains to grow out of molehills, so it’s important to keep striving for better communication. Good communication involves both partners being aware of their own thoughts and feelings and expressing them in an open, clear way. When a person communicates effectively, there is congruence between their inner experience and their outward expression.
As the essence of relationships, communication has a great impact on every aspect of life. Yet the channels of communication can sometimes become blocked, even among people who care deeply for each other. It’s often difficult to put our feelings into words or concentrate fully when our partner speaks. Unhelpful silences or verbal attacks can arise and drive us further apart.
Common barriers to communication include: threatening or unpleasant behavior such as criticism and bossiness; only hearing what we want to hear; getting bored or distracted; and not expressing our point clearly. Fortunately, working on our communication skills helps us to break through this sort of impasse. So follow these tried and tested tips to stop you reaching for the expletives and reach an understanding instead.
No matter what else is going on, try to make time for your partner on a day-to-day basis. Good communication is about deepening your understanding of each other, not simply avoiding arguments. Easier said than done, of course, but making time to talk is worth the effort. All being well, these occasions will be enjoyable and bring great rewards, so make a dinner date, share a bath or go for a walk together and let the conversation flow.
Secondly, remember the importance of intimate, non-sexual contact. Hugs and kisses are the glue which holds a relationship together, and consider activities such as sport to reconnect non-verbally. Psychologists believe the vast majority of communication takes place without words through body language.
Do you believe you know everything there is to know about your partner? It may be worth checking this out by asking them questions to reveal more about themselves. To deepen the communication and understanding between you, try talking about the times when you feel happiest or your hopes and dreams for the future. Don’t assume that your partner feels the same way you do.
This could bring up relationship ‘hot spots’ – work, money, childcare – which can then be dealt with openly. Experts suggest setting up reciprocal arrangements in which you both agree to take on an equal number of tasks and chores.
Arguments and disagreements between husbands and wives are normal. However, prolonged anger, frustration and resentment are not healthy for the relationship. What couples should engage in is arguing positively whenever conflicts in the marriage arise.
Edit the Argument
Refrain from saying out loud every single angry thought during an argument. Sometimes, talking about sensitive topics can turn really ugly if everything is let out. Couples who edit their arguments are consistently much happier than those who don’t.
Start Argument Gently
Stay positive. Bring up problems gently instead of in an accusing and sarcastic tone. Don’t start the argument as if you are preparing yourself for a big battle. When the tone is non-confrontational and the starting point has been given a lot of thoughts, the chances of the other person listening positively also increase.
Set High Standards in the Relationship
Successful married couples usually practice zero tolerance for hurtful behavior from each other, even when they were newly married. The lower the tolerance level for bad behavior in the early stages of the relationship, the happier the couple will be later on.
End the Argument Constructively
It’s common to see couples shouting at each other and ending the quarrel without any real solution, leaving both parties feeling drained and resentful. This can be prevented by learning to repair and exit the argument.
For instance, before the argument goes completely out of hand, change the subject, use humor, make caring and considerate remarks or show that you are both on the same side. If it’s too heated, call for a time-out. Agree to talk about the issue at another time.
Stay Positive
Happily married couples make at least five times as many positive remarks to and about each other as negative ones whenever they discuss an issue. So focus on the good side instead of the bad. In the heat of the moment, try to stay calm and accentuate the positive. See the other’s point of view while showing respect, and then look for a compromise that you can both accept. Listen carefully, give empathy and positive responses, and overlook the insults. Respond to criticism as useful information, if at all possible! Remember, the objective is not to stop every argument but to stop the escalating bitterness.
Give each other chance to constructively talk
Often couple either using emotions or anger do not allow the other to talk. This further adds to frustration. Give space for the other to talk and empathize by repeating the same sentence using the key words of what the spouse has said.

Accept Influence
To succeed in a marriage, a husband needs to be able to accept influence from his wife. Most women have no problem accepting influence from their husbands but for most men, this is something they need to learn.. A real partnership exists only when both husband and wife can influence one another in the same manner.
It’s alright to argue every now and then in a marriage. In fact, arguments help keep the marital relationship strong and healthy. The trick is to argue positively and constructively. Editing the anger, starting arguments gently, refusing to accept bad behavior towards each other, exiting the argument properly, focusing on positive statements and accepting influence from each other are strategies that smart couples use to stay happily married amidst arguments.
Accept responsibility of your emotions and thoughts
If you find yourself slipping into an argument, there are many ways to keep the row healthy. Most importantly, own your emotions by using “I” statements. For example, rather than “You make me angry,” or “This is all your fault,” try saying, “I feel concerned/upset…”. This keeps things calmer and makes it easier to compromise, as your partner will not become so defensive. Then keep to the point rather than slipping into attack and counter-attack, or emotional withdrawal. But talking this way is only possible if you are aware of your own feelings. For this, you must recognize them, be accepting of them, and able to express them. We each have our own way of dealing with conflicts – your style may be to avoid the issue, give in, or blame the other person. Being aware of your style and that of your partner will help you resolve the situation.
If either partner gets beyond the point of being civil and rational, ask for a “time-out” to calm down. But be sure to agree on continuing the discussion when you have had time to think about it.
Bear in mind that one of the secrets of happy couples is learning to tolerate or accept the other person’s faults. So-called “perfect relationships” do not exist, therefore small faults need to be accepted. Couples counseling encourages reaching an acceptance of one another through compassion and empathy, so you both come to truly understand the other person and become able to share your own feelings in depth. Then you can see the underlying reasons for their criticism or silence, perhaps they are really feeling unloved, rejected or hurt.
Having awareness of these techniques and skills is only half the battle – you need to develop them through practice until they become second nature. It will be an effort to change long-standing habits, but improving communication in your relationship is worth doing, as poor communication is one of the top causes of unhappy relationships.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Be Careful Of Your Thoughts When You Are Alone

And Be Careful of Your Words When You Are In a Crowd.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Fear of commitment? Why am I still single? You are doing the work that you love for a good salary. Your career is on track. Now, you've decided that you'd like to do something about your personal life. You are thinking about a committed relationship or marriage and maybe children. You are accustomed to articulating your goals and achieving them. You take personal stock. You have a lot going for you. You are attractive, personable, fun, smart and outgoing. You think that you have met Mr. or Ms. Right. You share common interests, common friends and common ideas and, you believe, common goals. Then somehow, much to your dismay, things go awry. You learn that your partner isn’t interested in marital vows. Or worse still I notice that I am getting involved in relationships where the only common thread is that I am being ditched / cheated by my partner, basically my partner is unable to remain committed to me.
Whether you were several months into the relationship or several years, that kind of disappointment is truly hurtful. Its worse, if this is not the first time. This is not something that you want to repeat. So, you talk it over with your closest friends, the ones who you really trust. And, to your surprise, many of them admit that they saw the warning signs but "didn't think that it was their place to say anything", especially because it seemed so trivial incident or because you were so strong on the relationship and didn’t want to hurt you.
You're a little miffed because you wish they would have said something. But, you can understand why they might feel that that would backfire. And too, you wonder, why didn't you see those elusive warning signs. After all, they were apparently obvious to everyone else. You note that you are generally a perceptive person -- can readily see the foibles in the relationships of others. So, what has happened here? And, how can you prevent it from, ever, happening again.
As you talk it over with your friends they each give you a list of "warning signs". "Don't date anyone over 35 who has never been married," one cautions. Don't date anyone who hasn't had a previous long-term relationship another warns. As well intended as they may be, the lists may lead to a mis-focus. Because the real thing to consider here is probably not the "mate-selection" process that is important, rather, it is: why have you, although probably unconsciously, been drawn to someone who is unavailable. Assuming that you are a bright, competent person, this is probably not a problem of the "wrong list". You might think of the problem with "mate-selection" as a symptom of something else that has gone awry. Think of it as the tip of the iceberg. That is, there is more to it than meets the eye.
Fear of commitment lies beneath the surface
If you have chosen a partner who turns out to be unavailable more than once, chances are there's a reason why you chose someone who is unavailable. It's painful to think about. The good news is as painful thinking about it can be: thinking about it, rather than sweeping it under the rug and going blithely along to the next relationship can allow you to understand it. And, understanding it can allow you not to repeat it. You can address and/or overcome it, and truly move toward the kind of relationship that you seek.
So, why are you, in effect, playing tricks on yourself? Although each individual and each situation is unique, odds are, as strange as it sounds, there may be a part of you who truly wants a relationship and another part of you, a less conscious part, who does not. That is, there may very well be a part of you who has a fear of commitment. As a starting point to your self-discovery process, ask yourself a difficult question, "what are the advantages to NOT being in a relationship?" And, in what ways do you have fear of commitment? At first blush, most people see these as ludicrous questions. If the answers were immediately apparent, you would have already dealt with them. Why aren't you in a committed relationship and what can you do to overcome your fears. These reasons may include:
1. You are terrified of intimacy.
People who are terrified of intimacy may not always be, consciously, aware of it. If you grew up in a household in which your parents behaved in ways that were hurtful to each other, to you or to a brother or sister than you may be more afraid of intimacy than you realize. This is an extremely common problem among successful young professionals who often become quite successful in their careers. Without realizing it, they allow their careers to take precedence over their lives. Work becomes to the worker as alcohol is to the alcoholic; balm to soothe the anxiety and fear. Of course, this sort of "workaholism", quite common here in Washington, is highly rewarded. Workaholism can be a cover for a fear of commitment.
2. You don't feel that you deserve a relationship.
This is a close cousin to the fear of intimacy. Many people, who are otherwise successful in life, do not feel that they deserve a relationship. Unfortunately, most of the time, though not always, this belief is unconscious. Thus, it is difficult to learn more about it and to resolve it. Often this type of belief comes from experiences in childhood. The person may feel responsible for something bad that happened in the family such as the death of a parent or a sibling, or the illness or drug or alcohol problem of a parent. Alternatively, the basis for the guilt might be far more subtle such as guilt for resenting a needy or vulnerable parent or sibling. Similarly, individual may feel guilty over outstripping a parent or sibling.
3. You fear that any relationship is destined to end in hurt or failure.
Another cousin to the first two apprehensions is the belief, again unconscious, that any relationship will end in failure or loss. This is a common concern among people who moved around a lot as children, such as those with parents in the military or in an industry where such moves were required. These people often report that every time they began to make friends and become emotionally invested they were, often over their strenuous objections, forced to uproot themselves. For some these moves were so painful that they learned to make only superficial attachments. Also, this is a common problem among individuals who had significant early losses such as a loss of a parent through death or divorce. It is important to note that the loss does not necessarily entail an actual separation, it could entail a loss of a role or status. It's understandable that individuals with this tyoe of experience have a fear of intimacy.
4. You don't know much about what you think and feel. Consequently, you are unable to use your reactions as a guide.
Often times people who come for psychotherapy or counseling know little about what they think and feel. People with this difficulty typically report, "I don't know why I have these problems. I had a very happy childhood". They may have had a stressful childhood but they have denied that to themselves. Such individuals became proficient, at an early age, at turning off painful feelings. They may avoid painful feelings by throwing themselves into activities in which they are busy and successful such as work and sports. Unfortunately, not knowing much about what you think and/or feel has serious drawbacks inasmuch as feelings and thoughts often inform and guide important decisions.
5. You are frightened by the prospect of learning more about some aspect of your sexuality.
Another reason why an individual might select unavailable partners is to avoid learning more about some aspect of their sexuality. An intimate relationship holds the possibility of self-discovery and this can be frightening to many people.
So if you are afraid of a committed relationship, if you recognize yourself in one of the descriptions what steps might you take? How do you go about teasing apart the nature of your fear of intimacy?
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What about an intimate relationship do you feel might be hurtful?
2. What is your worst fear?
3. How did your parent's relationship work? In what ways was it successful? In what ways was it hurtful?
4. What were your relationships with your parents like when you were a small child? In what ways were they loving and supportive? In what ways were they hurtful?
5. Are you, in some way, repeating a script of what you observed with your parents? For example, do you find yourself doing everything and feeling "walked on" like your mother?
The answers to these questions may give you some insight into your fear of commitment. Talk them over with a trusted friend. Sometimes talking with a friend can help us to learn more about ourselves. However, if selecting unavailable people as prospective partners has been a recurring problem for you, seriously consider seeking an consultation with a therapist. These intensive treatments allow individuals to develop the requisite trust to deepen their understanding of themselves so that they can make real and enduring changes.
Why do some people have profound difficulties with commitment while others seem to embrace it? True commitment can come about only when one has a clear sense of oneself. That is, a person knows who they are and what they want and need is more available for a committed relationship. Many single people intuitively recognize this and choose to work on themselves prior to entering into a committed relationship. Also, a committed relationship isn't for everyone. Some who know themselves well find it deeply enriching to take a solo flight. The key here is: just as individuals can remain unpartnered as a way of avoiding a host of painful experiences, they can marry or partner for a host of defensive reasons, such as avoiding aloneness or self-discovery. Self-understanding can help one to recognize when marriage or partnering is a growing experience and when it is a way of avoiding knowing oneself.

Monday, November 29, 2010

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Relationship Break-Up - Living in the Void

Let’s be honest. I believe separation, divorce, and relationship break-ups always have a gift to offer us, but the initial breakup period hurts. For most of us, when we’re in relationship, it feels like we’re on solid ground. It may feel comfortable and soft to walk on, or it may be rocky and painful, but at least you know where you stand.
When a relationship ends, we are inevitably launched into a void or abyss, where there’s nothing solid yet to land on. This is when the emotional rollercoaster goes on overdrive. Falling into the void feels disorienting and we don’t know where or when we’re going to land on our feet again.
Living in the void is a critical time to really dance and flow with our feelings. We feel the grief, sadness and loss not only of the person, but the dreams we had and the opportunities that were not yet realized. This grief is intense and overwhelming. Even those who initiate the break-up are not immune from this, although the degree of their emotional suffering is different than those who were left behind.
Inevitably the conclusion was “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it. Oh, no! We have to go through it!” Our healing comes from going through and flowing with our feelings, not bottling them up or denying them.
There is discomfort in the void, often bordering on pain. Literally, our hearts ache. It seethes with anger. It curls up in despair. Yet it’s so important to take time in this vacuum. Emotions live on a spectrum, and when we cap the downside risk of pain, we simultaneously cap the up-side reward of joy and love. If we rush the process of grief we risk leaving some unresolved pain and issues within us that will make an encore appearance in a future relationship.
Imagine when a child develops an infection. It stubbornly grows into a swollen, painful abscess below the skin. Eventually the toxins built up to the point where the abscess burst, releasing the infection in the form of pus. It was the release the doctor was hoping for, but it was nonetheless painful. Yet to complete the healing process for the child, it wasn’t enough. The doctor had to make a small incision in the seeping wound to make it bigger. He had to probe within the wound with medical instruments and disinfectant to ensure all the pus was indeed leaving child’s body. The wound had to be intentionally left open for a few days to ensure that everything drained out so that the healing would be complete.
Just as my doctor selected from various medical instruments to probe the child’s wound, here are some recommendations for how to probe gingerly into our own wounds to ensure a complete healing.
1. Practice pranayam
One strategy I’ve been using effectively is to welcome and breathe into my wounded heart. Make sure you take deep, conscious breaths. Shallow breathing doesn’t allow sufficient oxygen to come into the body and creates stress. Deep belly breaths help to quiet the ego-mind that may begin to start racing with thoughts in an effort to avoid the pain. Breathing deeply while having an emotional moment will help you digest the feelings and be able to restore a sense of calm and grounded ness more quickly.
2. Your Journal is Your sponge
A journal is like a clean, sterile sponge for a seeping wound. A journal is a safe place to collect all of those internal thoughts and feelings that must be released. I would even argue that life in the void requires a journal. Otherwise the unreleased feelings and toxic thoughts that are created in relationship break-up simply continue to run rampant within your consciousness. It is also the doorway to connecting with the wisdom and gift of why you have manifested this situation in the first place. There are no rights and wrongs about how to journal properly. Its job is to provide an arena for catharsis and objectivity.
3. The Medicine of Music
Music is a powerful tool to explore and help you release emotion. One particular tune or lyric can touch your heart to either uplift you or stir the pot of sadness and grief. If you feel numb and don’t know how to jump-start the release of your emotions, music can do it.
4. Let the tears flow
No need to bottle them up or keep a stiff upper lip. Talk it out with a friend or out loud to yourself and vent out your emotions. Feelings flow like water. When we bottle them up, resist them or deny them, it’s like we damming up the water. Like the water in the dam also finds its own outlet so do emotions, especially when we least expect them to. Therefore many dams have trickling water which has found its way to the other side and they are called weeping holes as they help ease the water pressure on the dam walls. Similarly expressing emotions in terms of tears just helps us channels emotions in an appropriate manner and releases the tension built up inside us. This in fact prevents unexpected flooding due to dam walls caving away suddenly or inappropriate demonstration of emotions. Tears are not a sign of weakness or neediness, but as a sign you are honoring your heart and growing stronger.
5. Time heals
Break-ups are painful and people struggle to dodge that pain. Sometimes our loved ones, hating to see us in pain, may urge us to move forward quickly and out of the void. But the void is the place where we will find the wisdom of the relationship breakdown, so we need to take the time to do our own inner work.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Leena and Akash had been married for about 4 years when Soham, their first child was born. They had been looking forward to having a baby and believed that the birth of the child will further strengthen their marriage. However, during pregnancy, Leena became irritable and depressed. She was aware of hormonal changes and mood swings during pregnancy and discussed it with her gynecologist as well as with Akash. Akash initially was very supportive but after the first trimester he started working longer hours and avoiding spending time at home. He found Leena’s constant complains and irritable nature difficult to bear. To add to this, he, without realizing, in his want to provide the baby with financially secure environment started feeling justified of his absences and expected Leena to understand. Especially now, that the financial burden was completely on him for a period of 3 years when Leena would be focusing on being a full time mother and would soon quit her work. Akash’s absences however made Leena feel more uncertain and insecure about their marriage, as now she was not only dealing with the physiological discomfort of the pregnancy but also the loss of work life. She desperately tried to regain their marital bliss and in her attempts to communicate this loss, fluctuated between getting angry / demanding with Akash to crying and feeling hopeless and hurt. Both started feeling justified and thought that their spouse was insensitive and uncaring. In the last trimester when the doctor advised that they should refrain from sexual intercourse, her anxiety heightened. Post natal depressive symptoms and the hectic schedule of keeping up with the baby’s demands did not help either. The emotional distance and anger intensified and eventually blew into a full fledged argument on the day Akash attended the child naming ceremony held in Leenas maternal house and forgot to get the return gifts. Leena was to return to her matrimonial house after the customary maternity break at her mother’s house right after the ceremony. Akash’s lack of involvement in the child raising because of the distance and also because of his own anxieties fueled Leenas own anxieties of managing the infant without her mothers help and dealing with their marital discord. Leena very reluctantly returned to her matrimonial house. After her return, she felt all the more lonely and abandoned. Akash’s focus was Soham after he returned from work partially because he missed the first three months of his son’s development and partially because he didn’t know what to communicate with Leena. He felt rejected by Leena whenever he initiated sexual intimacy between the two of them, often as Leena would be tired after a long day and would struggle to catch up with her own sleep while Soham rested. Leena, on the other hand, seemed to have nothing much to share with Akash apart from Soham’s daily activities. She felt worth less, unloved and unappreciated. Motherhood seemed to be her only identity now. She had also stopped taking care of her physical appearance. Without realizing they had made Soham the center of their relationship in their individual attempts to reconnect with each other and deal with their marital crisis. But this only lead to further spiraling down of their relationship as they both felt ignored by their spouses and jealous of whom soham preferred. Their concerns for a helpless infants needs to take priority seemed justified.
When they finally approached the psychotherapist they had a long list of hurts and anger against each other and both wanted to be acknowledged that they were justified in their feelings.

How could couples like Akshay & Leena regain their love and intimacy for each other?
1. “Parenthood As Crisis” typically includes a decrease in positive marital interchange, an increase in marital conflict, and a decline in marital satisfaction. This is because parenthood brings new identities and responsibilities for mothers and fathers.
3. There are often changes in a couple’s sex life and experience a slow down in their sex life. Women often feel differently about their bodies after childbirth, and they become insecure and less comfortable being intimate. Often, women gain a substantial amount of weight during pregnancy, and they have a hard time dropping the excess pounds after they give birth because they are so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being a new mommy. This occurs because of the strains, stresses, and sources of conflict as parents adjust to their new care giving roles, responsibilities, and routines—and the gender differentiation therein—amidst depleted resources of time and energy.
4. Many women are known to undergo post natal depression and require more help in the form of attention and care.
5. At times child birth is used as a ruse to get back to your spouse / avoid troubling topics between the two. Often these problems have existed for a long time in their relationship, child birth just give a valid reason to exit mentally and physically from a less satisfying relationship. It is emotionally less straining for a couple to accept that they are unable to spend time with each other because of the child than to say that they have lost interest in each other.
6. Couples have to consciously choose to bring these up with each other and deal with the hurts and anger rather than pushing it under the carpet.
7. Sometimes men feel rejected and unloved by their wives because of the amount of time she is devoting to caring for their baby or children.
8. Some women feel resentment towards their husbands because they don’t feel like their husband is involved enough in taking care of the children and household.
9. Husbands and wives need to understand that they have to work together as a parent team and they also cannot forget to foster and nourish their relationship as a couple.
10. Husbands need to compliment the wife and help her out in the house management as this is a crisis phase.
11. Wives on the other hand need to nurture and care for their husbands as well as their baby.
12. Both need to remove time to make things special between them. Romanticizing each other again by initiating loving acts for each other.
13. Arrange for time off work. Ideally, get at least a week off following the baby's birth. Your wife will need your help and this will be a wonderful time to bond as a family. Plan nothing else during your time off but helping your wife and child.
14. Ask relatives / friends to look after the baby for a while, while the two of you can catch a candle light dinner or cuddle up with popcorn to watch a movie.
15. Remember the heart of happy family lies a happy couple relationship.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

'The Holy Shadow' ~ A Sufi story as told by Osho

There once lived a saint so good that the angels came from heaven to see how a man could be so godly. This saint went about his daily life diffusing virtue as the stars diffuse light and the flowers scent, without being aware of it. His day could be summed up by two words -- he gave, he forgave -- yet these words never passed his lips. They were expressed in his ready smile, his kindness, forbearance, and charity.

The angels said to God, "Lord, grant him the gift of miracles."

God replied, "Ask what it is that he wishes."

They said to the saint, "Would you like the touch of your hands to heal the sick?"
"No," answered the saint. "I would rather God do that."

"Would you like to convert guilty souls and bring back wandering hearts to the right path?"
"No, that is the angels' mission. It is not for me to convert."

"Would you like to become a model of patience, attracting men by the luster of your virtues, and thus glorifying God?"
"No," replied the saint. "If men should be attracted to me, they would become estranged from God."

"What is it that you desire, then?" asked the angels.
"What can I wish for?" asked the saint smiling. "That God gives me his grace; with that would I not have everything?"

The angels said, "You must ask for a miracle, or one will be forced upon you."
"Very well," said the saint. "That I may do a great deal of good without ever knowing it."

The angels were perplexed. They took counsel and resolved upon the following plan: every time the saint's shadow fell behind him or to either side, so that he could not see it, it would have the power to cure disease, soothe pain, and comfort sorrow.

When the saint walked along, his shadow, thrown on the ground on either side or behind him, made arid paths green, caused withered plants to bloom, gave clear water to dried-up brooks, fresh color to pale children, and joy to unhappy men and women.

The saint simply went about his daily life diffusing virtue as the stars diffuse light and the flowers scent, without being aware of it. The people, respecting his humility, followed him silently, never speaking to him about his miracles. Soon they even forgot his name, and called him "The Holy Shadow."

This is the ultimate: one has to become the holy shadow, just a shadow of God. This is the greatest revolution that can happen to a human being: the transfer of the center. You are no longer your own center; God becomes your center. You live like his shadow. You are not powerful, because you don't have any center to be powerful.

You are not virtuous; you don't have any center to be virtuous. You are not even religious; you don't have any center to be religious.

You are simply not, a tremendous emptiness, with no barriers and blocks, so the divine can flow through you unhindered, uninterpreted, untouched -- so the divine can flow through you as he is, not as you would like him to be. He does not pass through your center -- there is none. The center is lost.

Finally you have to sacrifice your center so you cannot think in terms of the ego again, you cannot utter "I," to annihilate yourself utterly, to erase yourself utterly. Nothing belongs to you; on the contrary, you belong to God. You become a holy shadow.

~ Osho


Question: I have been married for the past 26 years. We applied for divorce 3 months ago, after our younger daughter got married, a mere formality which was on our agenda for many years. Both of us are strong headed and disagreed on almost every thing from the beginning of our marriage. We lived our own separate lives cordially living under the same roof for the sake of our 2 daughters for the past 18 years. Although we are not best of friends we are neither bitter with each other. Socially, emotionally as well as financially I have been independent in my marriage and had been looking forward to the divorce. So when it finally when we filed I was very relieved. But off late I am finding myself on edge, irritable and depressed. I don’t see any reason for the same. My business is doing better than ever before and I have done all the things I have longed to do for so many years but couldn’t do. Last evening, I was at a close friends place to celebrate her promotion and I suddenly broke down into tears seeing how her entire family was there to celebrate with her. I experienced deep loneliness and sadness. I was really shocked about the way I felt. I don’t understand why the pain when I am so looking forward to the divorce. Please help.
Mrs Dixit
Answer: Divorce is not only ending a marriage technically but also of all the wishes of having a happy family and an eternal need of being connected deeply to someone special for ever. This loss exists at an emotional plane irrespective of whether you are logically justified in taking divorce or not. Along with this loss, come all other similar losses of the past thereby making it appear out of proportion. You are bound to feel lonely, depressed and angry as it is not only the loss of the marriage but a cumulative loss of your life time wish to be happily married ever, a companion with whom you have deep connection, of being loved unconditionally, the house that you’ve been living in, the social status of a married woman and the loss of your family after the marriage of your younger daughter that you are dealing with and may be many more losses of the childhood. It is natural to mourn all these losses and you need to give your self time to heal. Denying these emotions will only lead to further such unpredicted outbursts till you are ready to face them. Having someone, a close friend or family to listen to you will also help. If these persist for over a year and half, or they get worse do consider taking professional help.
Following article provides information on the emotions and its stages during divorce which generally people go through:
1. Grief and Sorrow
Being sad when a marriage ends is natural. Although it's painful, grief is a healthy emotional response to the loss of an important relationship. We are hardwired to feel it, and it wouldn't be reasonable to expect otherwise. While sorrow and grief can be very hard to handle, most people do understand and accept the inevitability of these feelings.
We know from research, theoretical writings, and personal experience with thousands of people going through divorces that though the emotional impact of a divorce is as severe as that of a death in the immediate family, the grief and recovery process does have a beginning, middle, and end. Though they may seem endless, the pain and confusion surrounding separation and divorce do gradually lighten and finally go away -- for most people over a period of eighteen months to three or four years following the marital separation, though recovery can be quicker or slower.
• Denial: "This is not happening to me. It's all a misunderstanding. It's just a midlife crisis. We can work it out."
• Anger and resentment: "How can he [she] do this to me? What did I ever do to deserve this? This is not fair!"
• Bargaining: "If you'll stay, I'll change" or "If I agree to do it [money, childrearing, sex, whatever] your way, can we get back together?"
• Depression: "This is really happening, I can't do anything about it, and I don't think I can bear it."
• Acceptance: "Okay, this is how it is, and I'd rather accept it and move on than wallow in the past."
Understanding these stages can be very helpful when it comes to talking about divorce and decision making. It's important to know that when you are in the early stages of this grief and recovery process, it can be challenging to think clearly or to make decisions at all, much less to make them well. Identifying your present stage of grief and being aware of it is an important step toward ensuring that you will make the best choices you can.
2. Guilt and Shame
Experiencing guilt and shame is also a normal reaction to the end of a marriage. These feelings arise when we feel a sense of failure -- of not having fulfilled our own or our community's expectations. In the case of divorce, people often feel guilt and/or shame because they have failed to stay married for life. That's partly a matter of personal expectations -- not fulfilling the promises made to a spouse -- and also partly a matter of not fulfilling what our culture seems to expect from us. If our culture's expectations about marriage and divorce are reasonable -- if they fit well with how people actually behave in that culture -- and we don't measure up, the guilt and shame felt at the time of divorce may be appropriate. If the culture's expectations don't match well with the reality of marriage and divorce as people actually live it, the guilt and shame can be much more problematic -- difficult to see clearly, difficult to acknowledge, difficult to manage in a divorce. In addition, there are some marriages in which one or both partners have engaged in extremes of betrayal, deceit, or even criminal behavior that almost always involve feelings of guilt and shame.
Regardless of whether the feelings arise from not having met one's own or the culture's ideals or from actual wrongdoing, we know that for many individuals, guilt and shame can be so painful that they change very quickly into other, more tolerable feelings, such as anger or depression -- often without the person's even knowing that the guilt and shame are there. This is why it is so common in divorce for each partner to blame the other and why it can be so difficult for divorcing partners to accept responsibility for their own part in a failed marriage.
We've encountered few divorcing people who find it easy to see or accept their own feelings of guilt and shame. These powerfully negative feelings often remain under the radar, hidden and invisible, where they do the most harm. Strong feelings of guilt or shame can make it difficult or impossible to take in more balanced information, to maintain your perspective, and to consider realistically your best alternatives for how to resolve problems.
Guilt can cause spouses to feel they have no right to ask for what they need in a divorce, causing them to negotiate unbalanced, unrealistic settlements they later regret. Family lawyers have a saying that "guilt has a short half-life," and because guilt is such an uncomfortable feeling, it can easily transform into anger. We often see people who have negotiated guilt-driven agreements having second thoughts and going back to court to try to set aside imprudent settlements.
Similarly, shame often transforms into blame, anger, or rage directed at the spouse. Bitter fights over children or property can be propelled by feelings like these, which needs to go somewhere, goes into fights over matters that courts are permitted to make orders about.
3. Fear and Anxiety
Fear and anxiety are common because of our hardwired "fight-or-flight" instinct. Our bodies react to stresses (such as an angry phone call from a spouse) by using physical alarm mechanisms that haven't changed since our ancestors had to react instantly to avoid being eaten by saber-toothed tigers. You react to stress physiologically in the following ways:
Your heart speeds up, and adrenaline pours into your bloodstream Your adrenaline makes your heart contract more forcefully and may cause you to feel a pounding sensation in your head You may feel hot flashes of energy Your attention homes in on the event that triggered the strong feelings, limiting your ability to take in new information When people are under chronic and severe stress, they may have anxiety attacks, in which they tremble and their heart pounds. Or they may be paralyzed by almost overwhelming feelings of fear that seem to come out of nowhere. We work with many people who experience these feelings as their marriages end. People who feel overwhelmed or confused in this way tend to fall back upon old habits of thought and action rather than looking intelligently at the facts of their situation and weighing the best choices for the future.
4. Old Arguments Die Hard
As marriages become troubled, couples often rely on old habits of dealing with differences that lead to fights rather than solutions. If those old habits didn't lead to constructive solutions during the marriage, they will surely yield no better results during the divorce. In addition, people feeling anxious and fearful may resist pressure to move forward and resolve divorce-related issues because of feeling unready, while their spouses may be impatient, seeing no reason why the divorce wasn't over months ago. Bitter fights in the divorce courts often stem from differences such as these.
Unfortunately, both our court system and our culture at large encourage us to take action in divorces based on how we feel when we are at the bottom of the emotional roller coaster, when we are most gripped by anxiety, fear, grief, guilt, and shame. After all, that's when most people are moved to make the first call to a divorce lawyer. As a result, people are encouraged to make shortsighted choices based on emotional reactions that do not take into account anyone's long-term best interests. The resulting "bad divorces" harm everyone and serve no one well. They are very costly; they fail to plan intelligently for the future; and they inflict psychological scars on both the adults and the children. This can be avoided by consciously working on the divorce keeping ones personal prejudices away.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Country's first relationship helpline - Indiatimes: Picture Story
You too can save a lot of pain!
Avoid reaching a crisis point-

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010


INDIA'S ONLY Helpline for interpersonal relationships

Free telephone counseling sessions call us on…
888 884 6262
888 884 6363

Launch Date MUNBAI: Monday, 25th October 2010.

Dimple Shah
(Psychotherapist & Counsellor, director of revival.Life Counseling Center) / 9960900363


• Rishta is India’s first relationship helpline; an endeavor by counseling center to reach out to this very population who are struggling with relationship problems before they become chronic or critical by nature.

• While most help lines deal with specific crisis issues such as suicide / domestic violence / children, there is not a single help line dealing with relationship issues. Many interpersonal relationships show signs of turbulence much before it hits the crisis stage and if concerns are addressed at this early stage, one can save on a lot of pain and energy.

• Rishta Helpline was launched in Pune on 11th September, 2010 and the helpline has got a good response in Pune. Since its launch in Pune in the first month itself we have received 35% calls only from Mumbai, hence we are formally announcing Rishta help line launch in Mumbai on 25th October, 2010 along with new telephone numbers for our Mumbai callers.

• Rishta will be initially operational for 4 hours (1pm to 5pm) Monday through Saturday. Two lines will be simultaneously operational for receiving calls from Mumbai. The numbers are 888 884 6262 & 888 884 6363

• The calls will be manned by counselors trained by Rishta help line is one of the only helpline which offers psychotherapeutic help. This approach of counseling empowers the individual to resolve his / her issues without direct advice. We find that this approach works the best and the changes brought about in their lives are long lasting. From the statistics in Pune over 93% of our callers have expressed satisfaction with our services. About 27% of the caller population has called us again for follow up telephone sessions. Each call lasts for about 20 – 43 mins and for the convenience of the callers, they can make telephone appointments for a repeat session with the same counselor.

• We have received a variety of calls on different issues ranging from marital discord, family issues, couple / girlfriend – boyfriend issues, peer and friendship issues, senior citizens, parenting issues and work related professional relationships. I would like to specify two categories of callers here:

• The increase in relationship issues especially marriage, I find is largely due to duality of roles that now a double income group is playing. Wherein the man is expected to, apart from maintaining his traditional role of the financial provider also look into the role of a father, of house manager and like wise the woman apart from looking at the household and maternal responsibilities is expected to share the financial burden of running a house. This role expansion is against the traditional roles which the current generation still has in mind seeing their own parents and is in conflict with the new enlarged role that they are expected to play. So although they are accepting it at a mental level, at an emotional level it causes a lot of stress and conflict. Besides in their daily chores trying to manage these dual roles, they are so tied up that they do not have time to resolve the building conflicts. Many do not come for counseling due to sheer lack of time and the wounds fester.

• This issue is compounded with the divorce being relatively a more socially acceptable and easy option where couples instead of putting their mind together and working on their relationship to resolve their issues prefer to part ways whenever in disagreement or in pain. The social web of joint family which was present earlier is also disintegrating this also adds to the loss of any structure that can further bind them when in conflict.

• All in all with increased stress, ambiguity of roles, double income and financial independence, lack of social support and sheer lack of time to go for counseling are the reasons of increase in problems faced by couples in their relationships.

• We have received many callers who are struggling with this as a core issue and have benefited once they are able to get an insight into their perspective and conflict in resolving their issues over the telephone counseling provided by Rishta help line. We believe people know their problems better than any counselor in the world and therefore the answer to the best solution also lies within them therefore they do not require advice rather require perspective insight. Our counselors help them achieve this through psychotherapeutic skills.
• At work place too its sheer competitive spirit and increased number of opportunities available that itself create stress. There are no limits to what one can make out of his / her career, primarily requiring out of the box thinking which creates higher peer pressure.
Revival.Life is a Therapeutic Resource Aids and Educational Center founded by Dimple Shah, a practicing psychotherapist and counselor. Services provided are for both adult and child dealing with both normal and psychiatric problems. has also been conducting certificate training courses for counselors and social workers apart from out reach community programs and research.

In 15 years of my clinical work as a Psychotherapist, dealing with emotional issues of people, interpersonal relations have emerged as a single most crucial factor affecting their performance, health and harmony in life.

• People who are unhappy in relationships begin a domino ripple effect which then affects every other aspect of their lives initially in subtle negative ways; especially through low self esteem and weak self love but later it becomes all consuming.

• This crippling effect can be quickly reduced at an earlier stage, but many wait till things get unbearable to come in for face to face counseling, some never do. Often people have cited lack of awareness of counseling services, lack of time, heightened anxiety of labeling their conflicts as a problem, lack of financial resources, confusion or sheer unavailability of help during crisis as some of the reasons for not seeking early intervention.


In 2007, concerned with the rising suicide rates amongst the youth in the Software and BPO industry, and baffled with the work life stress being indicated as causal factor, conducted a research to study the causes and its impact of work stress. The outcome of the research was startling, but supporting with my clinical experiences: work life stress is an outcome of interpersonal relationship discord and not the other way round, as is generally believed.


• 7 out of 10 top stressors are interpersonal by nature.

• Interpersonal relationships are amongst the top three causes for suicides across all age groups.

• Relationship problems are cited as top 5 causal factors for poor academic / work performance increase in divorce rates and mental illness.

• 50% of calls to other help lines are pertaining interpersonal issues.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Every human being wishes to be eternally connected with a person. This connection is established or expected to be fulfilled in a love / marital relationship. Infidelity in the relationship causes severing of this connection and also the hope of it in future. Too often, the numbness and confusion, the pain and anger of uncovering the infidelity is intensified by the myths and half-truths about affairs and inability to share the wound, that makes surviving infidelity that much more draining and difficult - both mentally and emotionally.
Emotions in infidelity mimic that of death of a person, only more difficult to deal with because it is not an actual physical death. The partner is not only mourning the loss of the relationship but also the eternal wish to be connected with a human being. It stirs up deep infantile feelings of insecurity and leaves the person feeling unloved and abandoned.
Compounding the issue, infidelity is often kept under wraps as it is shrouded by societal humiliation, shame, guilt and lowered self worth. The partner goes through various stages such as denial/ disbelief, anger, apathy and then grief. This mourning can last up to a year, or even more. Each occasion/ incident is mourned individually till the person is ready to let go and forgive. Often, during this phase of grieving the wounded person, although aware of the practical approach to deal with the situation, is unable to do so due to intense emotions. Family and friends out of their concern and not wanting them to be in pain provide with logical/ practical solutions and try to cover the wound quickly. This only further complicates the problem and the person further withdraws into his/ her shell. Now, not only he /s he is wounded but is also expected to wear a smile on his/ her face and move on in life. To forgive, and forget. But the wound festers within, causing more damage.
Each affair is unique. Each different type of affair serves a unique purpose to the cheating husband or wife. Here are areas of knowledge that, once studied, generate tremendous relief and hope.
There are different TYPES of INFIDELITY.
I came up with 7 types of affairs in my work with couples over the last 15 years:
1. My Marriage Made Me Do It
2. I Can't Say No
3. I Don't Want to Say No
4. I Fell Out of Love...and just love being in love
5. I Want to Get Back at Him/Her
6. I Need to Prove my Desirability
7. I Want to be Close to Someone...but can't stand Intimacy
The reasons behind the varying types of affairs are distinctive. One may be motivated by compulsion, another by strong personal needs for excitement, another for revenge, another to maintain distance in all relationships, and another to project blame onto someone or something else.
These motives derive not from the marital relationship or the wounded spouse, but from the personal coping patterns of the cheating spouse. Additionally, these characteristics, motives, and patterns were already set well before the marital couple even met. At some level, it was necessary for the cheating spouse to "play out" these patterns. Unsurprisingly, most of this acting out (if not all of it), or at least the motivation behind the acting out, are well outside the consciousness of the cheating wife or husband.
Once the wounded spouse becomes aware of these patterns, the complexity of the infidelity and the motives for the cheating spouse - and other person as well - a flood of relief flows. The more one can make distinctions in a situation, the more refined those distinctions become, the less power that situation has to control the feelings and behavior of a person. Knowledge is power because it comes with options.
Overcoming infidelity requires a lot of space for the hurt and anger to be vented out. It is important that this venting out is listened to without any evaluation. This process along with challenging the beliefs about marriage and extramarital affairs helps the individual to cope with infidelity in an appropriate manner. It is difficult for the near and dear ones to do so because of their emotional attachment and involvement and often requires professional psychotherapeutic help for healing the individual/ s and their relationship. Working on these beliefs will provide the grieving person with clarity of thought and thereby the ability to choose his /her future actions. Knowledge about infidelity and self awareness becomes power with which one can heal oneself.
Look at the following false beliefs for example:
1. LOVE IS MAGICAL & SACRED: Coping with infidelity for the wounded spouse may mean dealing with the seeming fact that s/he is no longer "loved" and in reality that "love," which was so sacred, is given to someone else and one has no control over it/ the ability to regain it. And, honestly, what is more emotionally devastating than to feel unloved?

2. POOR MARRIAGE LEADS TO INFEDILITY: Another common misconception is that someone jumped into the arms of someone else because the marriage was awful. Quite often, this means that the sex was awful, or even nonexistent. The wounded spouse is left lamenting the arguments and the points of differences with his/her spouse as if those differences tainted the marriage or relationship or worse what could they have done to avoid the infidelity.

3. Everybody is unfaithful; it is normal, expectable behavior: Seeking solace in commonality of the problem can bring about temporary relief, but along with it it brings about disillusionment and hopelessness about life in general and relationships in particular.

4. Affairs are good for you; an affair may even revive a dull marriage: Back at the height of the sexual revolution. This is an ineffective way to pacify oneself as jt leads to further damage in a relationship and more so to ones own self esteem.

5. People have affairs because they are oversexed: Affairs are about secrets. The infidelity is not necessarily in the sex, but in the dishonesty.

6. People have affairs because they aren't in love with their marriage partner: On closer examination it routinely turns out that the marriage was fine before the affair happened, and the decision that they were not in love with their marriage partner was an effort to explain and justify the affair. Being in love does not protect people from lust. Infidelity with your loved one is not a very loving thing to do, and it may be downright hostile. If people are experiencing a deficiency in their ability to love their partner, it is not clear how something so hateful as betraying him or her would restore it.

7. TIME WILL HEAL THE WOUNDS: The wounded person is wounded because he/ she was unconsciously attracted to a person with particular traits. If these motives are not uncovered, he / she is likely to fall into a similar trap once again. So in a way they are responsible, albeit unconsciously. If these wounds are not opened, aired and well looked at, they are likely to remain infested and the infection likely to reappear at a later date, and often more damaging. Hence often we find the person saying that my partners often have uncannily similar personalities. Time does not help in protecting oneself in the future. One needs to work not only with ones emotions but also take professional psychotherapeutic help to figure out what about them drew them to such a person.
Such knowledge about infidelity brings great relief, quite often right then and there. Knowledge about infidelity gives options to act, feel and think differently, which gives one a tremendous feeling of personal power. The "wounded spouse" moves beyond playing the victim, and now recognizes that he or she is not at fault for the affair taking place. S/he is not defective. She or he can confront him or her with a basic educated guess as to the end result of that confrontation. There is nothing s/he could have done to avoid infidelity in the spouse. It also brings in awareness about ones own mental makeup protecting the person from future hurts.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Married Couples and Money Personalities

Studies show that money issues are the highest cause of marital conflict and cause for divorce. Conflicts over money and money management outweigh conflicts over sex (including affairs) and differences over raising children as the greatest trouble area in a marriage. Money management stirs up deep seated fears and anxieties about being nurtured and loved. This is because partners enter a marriage with an intensely personal history of how their families have handled money and the solutions they used to deal with this anxiety. Without getting to the crux of these issues, it is impossible to deal with the monetary anxiety at a superficial level. Following is a marital counseling case to illustrate the issue.

Ramesh & Jagruti (names changed) were attracted to each other by the very differences that they now found impossible to live with. Ramesh appeared casual and confident about his earning skills which greatly relieved Jagruti who always worried about spending money. Jagruti’s tight hand on monetary issues on the other hand brought immense relief and stability to Ramesh who was aware that his casual attitude towards spending money actually created constant anxiety in him. They therefore seemed to perfectly compliment each other; but one is incomplete without the other. They were like opposite pairs of bookends; both had deep anxieties about money but their reactions were different. But both their solutions to handle monetary anxiety by themselves were inappropriate.

Ramesh would rather take bold money risks to get quick money and not consciously deal with his anxiety over money and thereby constantly stay in an unstable financial circumstance. Jagruti on the other hand approached her monetary anxiety with a lot of caution and control; in effect loosing on many opportunities and feeling constantly deprived. Soon after marriage their illusion of safe monetary environment was broken and they realized the flaw in each others money handling solution. Along with this, it stirred up past experiences of being neglected or hurt due to financial reasons by their family. Both were loosing money but were quick to point the others fault. Ramesh opined Jagruti was miser and therefore she would never make huge success, whereas Jagruti believed that Ramesh was careless and took unnecessary risks which ultimately lead to loses and greater monetary anxiety. Any discussion about monetary dealings or resolving this issue would end up in a fight as they were both blind to the consequence of their behaviours while busy blaming the other for their issues.

As the sessions progressed we looked at their past family patterns in dealing with monetary issues which might be affecting their current behaviour. Ramesh’s father was a person who lived lavishly with little financial security; whereas his mother constantly worried about diminishing bank balance. Ramesh got all the luxuries but also was passed on the anxiety about the future finances. He learnt to deal with this anxiety by taking bold and risky decisions in business, which initially gave him quick money and paid off well but when he faced a major loss he unable to get around it. His lifestyle remained extravagant; he would not compromise and in his constant search for quick money got into deeper financial losses. His was an escapist / avoidance attitude in dealing with financial anxiety and wanted quick relief from it by making big money even if it required greater risks. Therefore when he met Jagruti he unconsciously realized that she would bring in stability and heal the hurt caused by his father, but did not realize that he was infact reliving his parents marriage, putting Jagruti through these anxieties.

Jagruti on the other hand hailed from a middle class family who lived under constant financial pressures. She at a very young age started earning to supplement her pocket money. Her parents encouraged her decision and soon she learned that money was earned through hard work and consistency. She also learned to compromise on her needs and save for the future. So she lived in a constant state of deprivation and wished all her financial worries be taken away. When she was dating Ramesh, his casual attitude towards money and him indulging her in her personal needs seemed to answer her prayers. It brought about a great relief on the financial front and she felt she could now rest her worries about finances. But soon after marriage when Ramesh faced loss, her illusion was broken and it stirred up feelings of being uncared for and neglected from her past hurts of her parents financial struggle. Without realizing she had in fact recreated her child hood experiences of her financial situation and made Ramesh responsible for neglecting her needs, not being good enough and taking care of her.

Therapy helped them to understand their different histories and expectations and over time, each one slowly moved slightly towards the center. Their disastrous fights lessened and they could begin to remember why they fell in love in the first place. It took courage for each of them to learn how to listen to the other and to give up pieces of their own dearly cherished beliefs. By the time they left therapy, money was rarely an issue between them.

Money is both a metaphor and a reality. Talking openly and communicating about money becomes another way for you and your spouse to get to know each other. Attitudes towards money range from the penurial to the extravagant. There is no reason to run to the divorce court just because you and your spouse have different ways of managing your finances.

Attitudes and relationships towards finances are unique to you and reveal a good deal about who you are and how you operate. Rupees and paise are the interface or unit of exchange between you and society and learning where you stand along the continuum, from prudent to expansive, can help you learn more about how you negotiate through life. The more you understand about yourself and your spouse when money matters, the better chance you have of working out a successful marriage.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Just like when a wound when cleaned causes more pain, so does talking about your hurt does. Talking about the problems brings about catharsis and a release of emotions. This can be perceived as threatening initially but is an essential step in healing.

Wounds when left unattended to are likely to form abscess and increase the pain. Similarly emotional wounds do not disappear over time. They need to be addressed carefully to avoid further problems or even amputation in worse case scenario.

Dragging along with negative emotions actually leads to further damage to the relationship. Emotional content of one incident adds on the next and carries on till it becomes unbearable.

People listen and trust non verbal or body language more than verbal messages. It is of no surprise that 80% of our communication is non verbal. Family and friends, if they are closely bounded, therefore will already have some idea about the problems. Keeping it hidden from them not only isolates you, but causes greater anxiety and even conveys a message to them that you do not trust them. In effect your efforts to keep them from being in pain actually cause more damage to your relationship with them and ultimately greater pain to both. Sharing pain with the family gets each other closer.

This is self induced pain and helplessness. This belief is the language of a victim who at an unconscious level prefers to remain as a victim. There is no basis to this belief.

Marriage is a relationship between two dynamic individuals. Changes in one lead to changes in the other. It has a ripple effect on the other. It is also a well known fact that one can only bring out changes in oneself and any attempt to change another is a foolish act. In my 10 years of practice I have worked with numerous marital conflicts and more often than not only one person consults for therapy as the other is either unwilling to come for therapy. Relationship has been resurrected despite only one member being present.

Blaming fate is an unconscious unwillingness on our part to bring about changes in our self. Change in any aspect is perceived and experienced as stressful and therefore unwelcome. However we verbally say that we are willing to work on the marriage, there is a resistance to change in a similar manner and its outward manifestations are in the form of helplessness to fate or blame on our partner. Our age old saying “taali ek haath se nahin bajti” goes a long way to explain this phenomenon.

Taking on the responsibility of change in your self is the first step to healing a marriage. Any attempts to change the other is seen as an evaluative, judgmental and a corrective act and therefore sabotaged at the first chance. I have more often than not worked with only one individual with equally effective results and in as much time.

The basis of this is negative thinking and the focus on what is not there. We can spend our time on focusing on how there is a speck on the drawing sheet or paint something so beautiful that the speck although there does not catch our attention. How we view things, a glass half full or a glass half empty is the premise of our belief in working out a marriage.

This is a powerful and omnipotent belief that love is magical. Therefore one can not really work on it or create it. It is either there or not there. If damaged, one can not create it. The fact is marriage or any relationship is not magical. We all need to work on it and resurrect it from time to time. Communication is therefore a crucial element in its survival. Even the purest form of unconditional love of a mother and child needs efforts to keep it alive. There is nothing magical about it. Any mother will tell you how she struggled with her child and that only conscious effort and good communication helped.

Many clients feel that going to a counselor will spoil things for them yes, many have experienced this too. Counseling is good; unethical practice in the name of counseling can have devastating effects. You need to be careful in choosing the type of marital counseling you are opting for.
Also, one may be aware that the marriage is not working out and may fear discovering that during the counseling. Some clients opt not to go for counseling as their fear of discovering this is higher than their pain. Some realize this in the middle of therapy and tend to push the blame onto the counseling sessions. Remember it is always your choice what you want. There is nothing right or wrong about it.
To avoid disappointments check out these basic premise of counseling before you enter therapy sessions:
• Consult a person who is non judgmental and non directive in his approach. We do not want it to be a verbal court battle in the counselors room where the counselor decides who is right and who is wrong.
• Another crucial element of counseling is confidentiality and therefore for any marriage counselor to take counseling sessions together with both the clients can actually do more harm than good. It actually turns out to be the power experienced by the counselor himself when he sits on a judgment on who is right and who is wrong.
• The counselor needs to empathize and work with you as an individual. If he is able to take you to a different level working with you, things automatically improve. The interest of the client is at the forefront in a session.
• Explore how comfortable are you with the changes in your life and decide for yourself what are your comfort zone. A good counselor can help you work on this.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Rahul was 12 years old when he was referred for bed wetting (enuresis) and passing stools (encopresis). He was referred by the family doctor who found a non medication approach to his bedwetting and encopresis a better solution, especially considering the long term side effects of the medicines and the fact that there were no physiological causes to his problem.
His problem had escalated soon after they had shifted into this new house. Parents didn’t think that shifting house could have been the reason for the same as he always wanted to shift back to this house. In fact he had many friends here and would initially quickly finish off his homework to go down to play. But soon he started wetting his bed in the night more often and the ‘accidents’ at school too increased.
By the time he started with play therapy, he was regularly wetting his bed in the night and the soiling his pants at least once a month. Rahul was so unsure of his own bowel movements that he refused to go for school trips or for a sleep over at his friends or cousins house. Off late he was fearful of going to school too, as he was now teased for being a sissy boy. At home too, he would play with his play station for hours on end and would be generally. His parents had tried every thing from making him visit the toilet at bed time and before going to school to more frequent visits when outside, but to no vain. Normally an active boy was now unsure and irritated most of the times.
During the case history on enquiring about any traumatic history the parents recalled that just before they had shifted the house he lost his grand mother and around that time the van in which the school children traveled had met with an accident. Although no one was injured Rahul had recounted the incident in great detail. They found it difficult to believe that these could again be the reasons as it was not the first time he was dealing with a loss of a grand parent or meeting with an accident. In fact he had lost his grand father the previous year, to whom he was more attached. Since his grandmother suffered from Alzheimer he hardly ever interacted with her over the years.
Bedwetting is considered to be problematic for children only above 6 years of age. Till about 5 it is considered normal if the child occasionally wets the bed. Usually children have considerable bowel control by the age of 4 and do not soil their clothes. Enuresis can be primary (the child did not grow out of using diapers) or secondary (child stopped wetting beds but suddenly after a period of time started wetting them again, as in Rahul’s case).
It is often connected to psychological issues of emotional stress / anxiety. Often the causes remain unknown to both the child and the therapist. Therefore using cognitive or reasoning approach is difficult with these children and it is not in their awareness or consciousness. Also emotions of shame and guilt are quite complex for the children to express verbally. This coupled with threats or punishment from parents (who feel an extreme sense of concern and frustration dealing with this problem) can become quite traumatic for the child. Play therapy, being dynamic, non directive and symbolic allows the child to reenact and work out his emotional issues leading to the problem in a safe and trusting environment without having to get into verbal communication. This is further supported by some parenting sessions where parents are usually asked to bring about certain changes in the child’s routine to support the sessions proves extremely effective.
The following are some of the changes that parents are requested to introduce:
• Having liquids at least 4 - 5 hours before the bed time.
• Setting up alarms at regular intervals and encouraging Rahul to visit the toilet.
• Keeping an extra pair of clothes and bed sheets so that Rahul need not wake his parents every time he had an accident.
• Not humiliating / threatening / asking too many questions to the child to rectify his behaviours .

Rahul began his play sessions. Initially he found it quite boring to play with toys that were around and often asked if he could carry his video games or whether there was access to computers. But slowly as the sessions progressed he started playing with animals, clay and balls. The therapist noticed that in most of his sessions he would give instructions to the therapist to follow. He would make loud noises and fight with the wild animals. With the clay he would often make snakes and then turn them into turbans which the therapist was instructed to wear and become the care taker of the animals. Some times he used the ball to knock down the animals. After many such sessions, he moved on to drawing. He initially drew only symmetric drawings but soon moved on to draw themes. Most of the themes again reflected anger, punishment and morality issues.
Around the 8th session, the mother mentioned that Rahul had wetted his bed only once and had soon woken up to change his clothes and the bedsheet. The therapist had given a list of instructions to the parents to follow. Soon after that Rahul showed greater interest in his play and also in the sessions.
After his summer break when he returned for the first session, he sent a message containing smiley face and to inform the therapist that they were on their way to the clinic. He seemed to have settled down with not a single mishap of soiling his clothes or wetting the bed. He had returned to his original confident self and seemed less tentative about things. Although he was apprehensive on the first day of school, he settled into his new routine pretty soon. On the follow up terminating sessions, the bedwetting and soiling behaviours had consistently shown improvement with no further accidents. His academic marks also returned to their earlier levels.