23 Nov 2018

BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert

Communication / Conflict / Culture / Family / Holiday / relationship counseling / traditions

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Strengthening Relationships During the Holidays

For many people, the holiday season truly is ?the most wonderful time of the year,? and for many others, this is an ideal they struggle to achieve. ?Whether you grew up with great holiday memories, struggling to recreate those experiences as an adult, or you grew up with terrible memories, now attempting to give your new family the opposite, it is not an easy task to achieve family unity and joy during the holiday season.? Let?s examine some common obstacles and how to work to overcome them.

Unresolved Issues

relationship | couple | intimacy

It is a common tendency in relationships to resolve issues by ignoring them.? Doing so results in the buildup of pain and irritation.? This is similar to an untreated infection in the body.? Let?s say you fall and scrape your knee, and many unsavory particles make their way deep into your tissue, and instead of cleaning it out, you simply put a bandage over it and ignore it.? Over time, infection sets in, and touch becomes sensitive.? Eventually, activities as simple as walking will become very difficult, if not impossible.? In relationships, the unresolved issues are the infection.? Any attempt to discuss those issues brings pain, and any attempt to draw closer together becomes difficult, and perhaps even impossible while the infection in the relationship remains.? In these cases, it is recommended to seek relationship counseling.? A qualified relationship counselor is skilled in healing conflict, just as a qualified physician in skilled in treating an infection.? Resolving the issues removes the barriers to unity and joy in the relationship.

Family Culture

Thanksgiving and Christmas are so deeply loved by many people that any change to these holidays are often seen as wrong, or even heretical.? Instead of bickering about which family tradition is correct and which is a mockery, it is better to understand that with the creation of a new family must come the creation of new and unique traditions.? Any attempts to recreate past traditions will ultimately end in frustration since there are different people involved, and it is a different generation.? Creating a new culture, your family?s culture, the culture your children will forever remember, is a wonderful and rewarding endeavor that has the power to unify the family in a lasting way.? This takes time, patience, and the consideration of new ideas.? Many families can accomplish this on their own, but if those attempts fail, relationship counseling can be a wonderful tool to help build a strong, unified family culture.

Time

Time is currency in the world today, and anything we desire requires a payment.? People have named our age the ?information age.?? It is called this because we can now access nearly any information we desire within seconds on a small rectangular device we carry everywhere we go.? More than anytime in recorded history, we can manage most of our affairs without getting out of bed.? We can pay bills, shop, connect with people, go to school, make money, watch movies, file a lawsuit, renew a prescription, all without even standing up.? There is one thing, however, that we cannot do from this small rectangular device, and that is to build strong, healthy relationships.? This requires time, time spent engaged with people, time not spent staring at a screen.? We can?t approach a relationship the way we monitor social media.? The time required to build strong, healthy relationships is not small; it is substantial.? Time is currency, and if we don?t pay the full price, the result is like the cheap shirt we buy at the discount store that shows its first tear two weeks after buying it.? On the other hand, if we spend substantial time together as a family, and that time is quality, it will be an investment that will pay us back with love and joy for years to come.? In summary, the holiday season can be a wonderful time to build strong, healthy relationships if we resolve buried issues, if we create new traditions together, and if we spend large amounts of quality time together.? If these attempts fail for any reason, seek a qualified relationship counselor who can help you and your family succeed.

?Click here to contact Armstrong Family Counseling.?Let us help you strengthen your relationship today.

03 Oct 2018

BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert

Addiction Recovery / How to / Sobriety / Stress

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Coping With Addiction: How To Get Back On Track After A Relapse

For the millions of Americans who are living with an addiction, learning how to cope with the stress and pressure of getting sober can be overwhelming. Relapses are common, and they can bring a weight of guilt with them, which can in turn lead to more substance abuse. It?s a very difficult cycle to break, but it?s important to figure out the best ways to get healthy in every way–mind, body, and soul–so that you can get back on track without sacrificing everything you?ve worked so hard for.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help things fall into place after a relapse. From opening up communication with your family members to practicing meditation and learning how to relax, taking care of yourself is the first priority. Whether that means ridding yourself of guilt and shame or simply learning how to cope with stress, finding out what works for you will help you break the cycle for good.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to feel better and get healthy after a relapse.

Ask for help

It can be very challenging and humbling to ask for help, especially if you?ve already done it once before, but suffering a relapse is nothing to be ashamed of. It happens to many individuals who have made a commitment to turn their lives around, and it?s not an indication of failure. The key is to recognize the issue and ask for help as soon as possible so that you may begin rebuilding. Find a counselor, therapist, or group session you can join, or talk to your sponsor or a close family member or friend.

Relax

Stress is a major contributing factor to many relapses, so it?s imperative to learn how to cope with those feelings and reduce them. This might mean learning how to say no, finding a way to reduce your task load at work, or working on family issues.

Think about the things that bring you the most stress and how you can effectively make your life easier. In the meantime, you can practice meditation and/or yoga to help break down those feelings. This has long been a benefit for those who are struggling with stress and anxiety. Make sure you have a quiet space to relax in that is free of distractions. You can find out more about creating a meditation space here.

Forgive yourself

The way you handle your relapse is extremely important. If you feel guilt or shame, it will be nearly impossible for you to move on and make healthy choices, so it?s important to learn how to handle those emotions and how to forgive yourself. This may require the help of a therapist, or you might talk to your friends and family about your struggle. Sometimes, simply being open and honest about what we?re going through is the best way to move on.

Adjust your strategy

It?s always possible to make changes to the way you approach your sobriety, and it?s important to do so if you feel it isn?t working. You might take a look at the people you spend the most time with. Are they supportive? Are there people in your life who abuse drugs or alcohol when you?re around? It can be difficult to make major changes, especially when it comes to your relationships, but it?s critical to make your own health a priority.

Coping with addiction relapse is never easy, and it often takes time to get to the place you want to be in. Try to be patient with yourself during this time, and think hard about the way any changes you make to your lifestyle will affect you down the road. With a good plan, you can get your life back on track.

Constance Ray started Recoverywell.org with the goal of creating a safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it. The goal is to share stories of hope from survivors who know that the fight against addiction is one worth having, because no matter how it affects you, life can get better.

 

Hand over water | symbol of freedom 06 Sep 2018

BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert

philosophy / Trauma / Uncategorized

Comments: 1 Comment

Freedom From the Past?

Living With the Past?and Freedom From It?

Our past is host to many memories and stories.? Past moments of our lives can bring about a plethora of thoughts and feelings.? Some of my most favorite memories are of the many adventures my wife and me have done together.? Although I’m grateful that I have a lot of fond memories from my past, I have?other memories that are difficult to look at.? These memories serve as reminders of my bad choices, disappointments, my sin, and failure.? I’m sure that if you’re reading this, there’s a chance that you too have struggled with past moments and situations in your life.?

A guy with sunglasses on smiling?People put on a front and cover up those less than pleasing things when interacting with others.? I see these personas when I am at church or out eating and in front of others.? We put on our best clothes and our biggest smiles acting like we have it all together.?? Sometimes we overcompensate by being overly joyful or talking too much.? Most people can see right through it, yet we continue the charade of keeping the mask on that tells the world that everything is ok in our life.

I see it when I meet with clients.? But a few sessions in, that?s when the mask starts to drop and they begin to reveal that on the inside, they don?t have it all together.? Most of their feelings of insecurity, sadness, guilt or shame were rooted in the past.? Past behavior, past hurts, and pain.? They struggle to live in the present because they are stuck, living in the history of their life.? It could be about anything.? Perhaps they were fired from a job for making a mistake.? Maybe they hid a family secret or even a secret of their own like an addiction or bad relationship.

person holding a sad face sign over their face

I recall when I was in college; I attended a support group called Adult Children of Alcoholics.? There were people in attendance that were 60 years or older.? For the first time in their life, they were dealing with things that impacted them from 30-40 years before.? ?Some of them had been carrying their past on their backs like a heavy bag of boulders that represented their most painful and difficult memories.? They became prisoners of those things that preceded their present.? There was no freedom to live in the here and now and look forward to the future as long as they were shackled to their heavy load.? I had my own heavy bag of memories but when I observed the struggle those people went through, I knew I had to let go of that heavy bag before it became heavier or buried me under the weight.? The chains had to drop and I had to find my freedom.

The question then becomes how?? How do we let it go?? Sometimes we don?t even know what bothers us.? Often, the answer is buried under years of repressing and concealment. ??All we know is that ?something? is causing us pain or emotional insanity.? We get to the point of being sick and tired of what we are going through.? That might lead us in seeking out extra help like a counselor or a support group. ??Counseling often stirs things up and one of the consequences of that is that we may feel pain.? That?s difficult for most of us.? We don?t like to feel pain.

However, it is through the pain that we begin to find a way out.? Finding that freedom from our past comes from 2 essential building blocks: Acceptance and forgiveness.? We?ll tackle these one at a time.acceptance displayed through 2 girls laughing together

Acceptance

One the biggest stumbling blocks to moving forward are denial.? We deny the reality to what occurred.? We make excuses or we self-medicate to avoid acknowledging the truth.? Once we can find acceptance, then there is a measure of peace that gives us strength in saying, ?this happened.? Or ?I did this.? There can be no moving forward without this.? I have worked with clients that struggled with addiction, PTSD, and were perpetrators to abuse or were victims of someone else?s violence.?? The first step to their healing began with bravely confronting the past and saying, ?I will face this, no matter what!? ?What things in your past do you need courage to face?

Michael J. Fox is best known for his role as Alex Keaton on the ?80s sitcom ?Family Ties? and the Back to The Future trilogy however in his personal life, he has battled with Parkinson?s disease.? He was diagnosed in 1991 and he had to face that his life would never be the same.?? He had this great thought on acceptance.? ?Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.?? For many of us, after acceptance, the way through to finding freedom from the past points to forgiveness.

Forgiveness:

There are two kinds of forgiveness:?Self-forgiveness and forgiving others.?? In acceptance, we face reality and what happened.? In self-forgiveness, we own the responsibility of what the flaw or mistake was that we committed.? I was fired from my first counseling job because I made a mistake.? After about 6 weeks of struggling with guilt, self-condemnation and?the shame over my actions, I was at my lowest.? I had to be broken.? In my brokenness, I found some scripture that allowed to me work through that difficult time.? They gave me hope for the future.? God wasn?t done with me.? Perhaps they can help you.

Jeremiah 8:4: ?Jeremiah, say this to the people of Judah: This is what the Lord says: You know if a man falls down, he gets up again. And if a man goes the wrong way, he turns around and comes back.?

Philippians 3:13-14:??Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead, I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.?

Self-forgiveness and accepting Gods forgiveness didn?t take away the action or the consequence.? But it allowed me to live with what happened.? Now when I look back, it is merely an event in my life.? I no longer have feelings of guilt and failure.? I?ve learned and moved on from it.? It no longer holds me as a prisoner.

Johnny Cash once said this about our failures of the past:? ?You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.?

We have talked about self-forgiveness but what about forgiving others.? When someone has wronged us, forgiveness can be one of the most difficult things we do.? For some, it seems impossible and creates a paralysis in even thinking about it and for others; they have tasted a freedom and release of bitterness and hate.

Carolyn Holderread Heggen wrote the book Sexual Abuse: in Christian Homes and Churches.? While the book focuses on abuse in the church and home, you can apply her words to your own journey of forgiving others.?? She writes that offering the offenders forgiveness is not forgetting and it’s not about letting them off the hook.? She said that ?while extending forgiveness is a profoundly spiritual act and can bring spiritual growth, it is not a way of avoiding the pain. It is not done quickly or flippantly to avoid the terror of woundedness.”

So if you’re struggling to come to the point of forgiveness, there is no timetable when such a thing should occur.? Talking to a counselor can help to begin this.?? The author notes that forgiveness “is a process that allows the victim to let go of the intense emotional pain associated with the abuse/offense and replace it with inner resolution and peace.”? She indicates that sometimes the abuser may not be repentant and then forgiveness becomes the process of letting go of the pain and bitterness to God?s care.

We must choose forgiveness–either live with it as it begins to burn bitterness and resentment onto our heart or be willing to give our burden over to a higher power. That requires actively exercising our faith by asking God to help us to work through that struggle to forgive.??? Al-Anon has a saying, “Let go and let God.”? When we let go of this burden and place it into Gods care, the transformation begins and like spring bringing new life to the land, so too does God brings us a new life and peace to our heart.

If you are struggling to find freedom and relief from where you are currently at in life or from your past, I can help.? Perhaps you are struggling to forgive or maybe you have been in denial on certain things.? Contact Armstrong Family Counseling and let us help you begin the road to recovery and independence.

Photo of Michael French M.A., PLPC | Armstrong Family Counseling
Michael French M.A., PLPC
24 Jun 2018

BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert

Life Coaching / Personal Development / philosophy / Therapy

Comments: No Comments

Q&A With Lauren Dees | LSCSW | Grief & Trauma Expert, & Group Counselor

Why do you do what you do?

My main goal is to connect with people, build real authentic relationships & participate in a journey of change together! I encourage my clients to be authentic, transparent and assertive in getting their needs met. I feel genuine satisfaction and gain energy after every session. This is honestly my dream job.

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What makes therapy with you unique?

I use humor and laughter to break barriers with clients. I am easy going and I understand that life happens. My goal is for therapy to be enjoyable and something people can look forward to instead of dread! I use unique ways to connect with clients-art, music, games, role play?whatever is needed to keep it fresh and engaging.

What is a therapy session with Lauren like?

Lauren Dees | LSCSW | Armstrong Family Counseling | LGBTQ Therapist | Grief And Trauma Expert

I use mindfulness meditation strategies at the beginning of every session to help patients relax and be in the moment. I love many different modalities, specifically I use DBT tools, CBT, SFBT, ACT, EFT and EMDR to assist my clients with problem solving, process trauma, reduce misery and improve their quality of life.

I love to play games, do collages, make playlists and other strategies to keep therapy fun and interesting. I enjoy connecting with clients in the group setting as well, engaging with each individual, as well as helping the group become cohesive and work towards similar goals.

What makes you, you?

I am a musician and often incorporate the feelings that are created by music into therapy. I enjoy utilizing music as expression. I also am a photographer and enjoy making clients laugh and smile throughout their wedding/engagement sessions because capturing joy is a passion of mine. I play volleyball weekly, sing karaoke, travel whenever I can and use those hobbies and experiences to help my clients understand different avenues where they can express themselves or build mastery. I have lost a parent and have experienced grief/loss first hand, so I use that knowledge to truly connect with those who are suffering from loss.

How does your specific skill set benefit your clients?

After working with me (or during) I help my clients feel and more importantly, assist them with accepting things they can?t change, feel in touch and in control of their emotions, develop healthy and happy relationships and feel a sense of fulfillment & mastery.

Contact Lauren today and start the journey towards healing and discovery.

24 Jun 2018

BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert

Anxiety / Depression / Faith / Family / Marriage / Relationship / Therapy / Trauma

Comments: 1 Comment

Melody Anderson | Play Therapy | Trauma Specialist | Neurofeedback Provider

I am a therapist because I believe therapy is a tool that God created to heal the broken-hearted. I believe that this is a broken world and sin often leaves trauma in its wake. As a therapist, my goal is to work with families to break the family cycle of trauma. Trauma impacts people of every age, race, gender, religion, or socioeconomic status. Too often, I?ve seen people minimize their own trauma or the trauma of others. Minimizing the travesty of trauma does not help the healing process and can lead trauma victims have low self-esteem due to belief that they have little or no worth.Melody Anderson | MSW | Armstrong Family Counseling | Teen and Young Adult Trauma And Depression Expert

I love this quote that I came across on twitter last year, ?Someone who drowns in 7 feet of water is just as dead as someone who drowns in 20 feet of water. Stop comparing traumas, stop belittling yours or anyone else?s traumas just because it wasn?t ?as bad? as someone else?s. This isn?t a competition. We all deserve support & recovery? @jesssxb

My goal as a therapist is to provide support and recovery to victims of trauma so that they can learn to know their own worth and view themselves as worthy of growth, positive change, and a healthy life.

I cater my approach to individual client needs. I find that depending on the therapy approach that is most appropriate to the client, there are often pre-existing exercises/worksheets that are evidence based. I naturally have a DBT therapy style, but am eager to continue to grow in the use of models which come less naturally to me as no therapy approach fits every client?s needs. I have had training in Motivational Interviewing which is based in the Transtheoretical Model of Change. Motivational interviewing is incredibly helpful for helping individuals make difficult changes and stick with those changes.

As an adolescent I struggled with a lot of insecurity and depression. I was raised in a legalistic Christian home where I learned all about God?s wrath, and nothing about his mercy and love. I felt trapped in my own imperfection and was certain that perfection was the only acceptable lifestyle due to my family culture. This caused a lot of feelings of worthlessness and led to deep depression. I was blessed to be part of a great youth group at my church where I had a mentor and healthy mother figure who poured a lot of prayer, time, and love into me. God used her in my life to show me that the perfection I was striving toward was crippling me and keeping me from genuine growth.

As I began to believe that I have value and worth, I found myself wanting to empower other women to break free from their own insecurity and low self-esteem. When I was working toward my bachelor of social work degree, I worked in a restaurant. I recommended to a coworker that she should go home after work and write down ten things she likes about herself because she I observed that she had little to no sense of self-worth. I learned years later that she actually did so and it began her own journey of increasing her self-esteem. I have met very few women that do not experience shame/guilt for not meeting societal expectations. I have also seen the ripple effect that occurs when women empower other women to improve their core beliefs about themselves and the world.

Contact me today and let’s start the journey towards becoming who you were created to become!

 

Girl at peace around flowers

Butterfly | Angela Lake | Armstrong Family Counseling 24 Jun 2018

BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert

Therapy / Trauma / Uncategorized

Comments: 2 Comments

Angela Lake’s Philosophy

A personal philosophy I have is the butterfly in the cocoon. The caterpillar typically has spun a cocoon around themselves, and are struggling and fighting to change (fighting their existence of being a caterpillar, fighting the environment, fighting the metamorphosis itself). If someone tears open the cocoon the butterfly will die. The caterpillar must do the work to change and become the beauty the lies within. They may not understand who they are as a caterpillar, they may not know how to change, they may not have an environment that is safe for them to change, they may fear or not believe they can become a butterfly.

As a therapist I want to assist in understanding of self, to define desires or goals, to encourage and support change and work toward goals, to give tools and interventions, to provide information and education, and to celebrate the butterfly.

Contact me today to start your journey towards, healing, hope, and joy!

22 Jun 2018

BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert

Divorce / Family / Mediation / Parenting

Comments: No Comments

Father’s Day, Divorce, & Mediation

As we’ve recently celebrated Father?s Day, I was reminded that the purpose of Father?s Day is to acknowledge all fathers and celebrate their special day. However, if your family has been impacted by divorce, it may not seem like a celebration. If this sounds like your situation, it may feel extremely stressful for you, your ex, and your children. If you are a mother, please remember you are normally the first person your child bonds with. Therefore, you can assume a positive role of modeling how to respect their father, no matter how you may feel about him (unless he was abusive and safety is a concern.) I would ask the same type of respect from him on Mother?s Day.

By having an open dialogue with your ex, your communication models how you have set aside any negative feelings toward the father(s) of your children because you know that is best for your child or children. Depending on the ages of your child/children, volunteer to take them to a card store so they can choose a Father?s Day card. Or, if that isn?t in your budget, suggest that they make a card.

If your child/children express an interest in giving dad a gift, again, follow through with their idea. If finances are an issue, once again, encourage them to make something for dad. Even if you have negative feelings toward their father, by helping them with these tasks, you are modeling for them how to ?care? for another human being.

Allow your children to spend Father?s Day with their dad on his special day. Try to do this no matter what is outlined in your parenting plan (if you don?t have a parenting plan or need to revise it and don?t want to pay for an attorney or the cost of going to court, consider contacting a mediator to help you resolve any conflicts or to assist you in making changes to the plan.) Flexibility and mutual consideration as co-parents makes your children much healthier emotionally and mentally.

If geography or travel logistics are an issue in bringing together your children and their father, suggest using social media so they can ?see each other.? Depression, loneliness and isolation are common in divorced or estranged parent(s.) If you experience these things frequently, please contact a therapist and /or seek help. I can help you. Your children need you in their lives.

Fathers, you need to ask your ex-spouse and/or the mother of your children for what you need. Maybe you (father) would really like your child/children to spend Father?s Day and an additional day since school is out for the summer. If you and your ex can communicate and practice being flexible, you are less likely to feel resentful.

For both parents, even though you are divorced, remember to stay focused on the needs and well-being of your child/children. It is crucial to plan ahead for holidays or other ?special? days so your child/children see that even though you are divorced, both of you are co-parenting in healthy ways.

If you are struggling with co-parenting, or other issues, mediation may be something to consider. Mediation is a more peaceful, economical resolution to resolve conflict. Please contact me. I am a therapist and a?Kansas State Supreme Court Approved Mediator.? Let’s start rebuilding your relationships today!

28 May 2018

BY: Gabe Fry | LPC | Relationship, Depression, & Anxiety Expert

Couples therapy / Divorce / Life Coaching / Marriage / Relationship

Comments: No Comments

Is It Time To Separate?

“Is choosing to separate the best option for me?” Choosing to separate in a marriage is never an easy decision to make. ?It is my hope that by reading this article you can gain some perspective on the topic of separation. ?A separation is different from a divorce in that you and your spouse will still legally share all parental and financial responsibilities. ?Also separations tend to have many different flavors. Here are the 3 most common types.?

The Working Separation

In a working separation the couple separates in order to spend time improving themselves. ?Maybe a spouse has a mental health issue they are working on, or perhaps one spouse has an addiction they need to focus on. ?Working separations are best when there is an informal agreement between the two partners. This agreement will ideally have an explanation as to what issue needs to be worked on, who will take care of the kids and other responsibilities, what limits or boundaries are placed on communication (we?ll only communicate through text or email, or no communication for 2 months, etc.) and on what grounds will reconciliation take place. Working separations have the highest chance of resulting in reconciliation. If you think this is the type of separation you are looking for please contact a therapist or counselor–like myself--and draw up this contract with their input and guidance.

The Trial Separation

A trial separation is when one or more persons in the marriage express a desire to try what being single feels like. ?The idea is that the person is given time to ?clear their head.? Afterwards they will then decide on whether or not to pursue reconciliation. One person generally will move out, either to another part of the house or to another place all together. ?Trial separations most commonly occur in families without young children.

These separations have a high rate of ending in divorce because most people leave a marriage when the pain and frustration are so high that staying seems impossible. ?Then,when they leave they find that being single has less pain and frustration then being married and make the jump to divorce.

The Legal Separation

This option is pursued most often when a marriage has become stale and anemic; there is little good in the marriage but also little frustration also. ?The couple may stay together for the sake of the children or because they both feel that becoming single is not attractive.

Whatever type of separation you are considering please understand that separation is a matter of last resort. ?Typically, divorce is the result of separation far, far more often than reconciliation. That being said if you separate when your pain and frustration haven?t yet caused you to give up there is a better chance of reconciliation afterward compared to waiting until you have one foot out the door.

If you or someone you know are going through a situation and you are contemplating separation or divorce, contact me today. I can help you work through your issues and come up with a plan that is best for your unique situation and relationship.

26 May 2018

BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert

Couples therapy / Infidelity / Marriage / Relationship

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Where Do We Begin? : Staying Together After an Affair

Should I stay, or should I leave?? After an affair, an injured partner?faces this question.? It?s never easy, and there is no one size fits all solution.

Experiencing the infidelity of a partner can be so painful.? It can make you believe you are losing your mind, and your life, as you have known it.? Infidelity creates a sudden upheaval in everything you believed?about your spouse, about yourself, and about your future.? Several couples are unable to remain intact, and will move to end the relationship.? But what if you aren?t yet sure, or want a different outcome?

Many areas in your relationship will need to be addressed, and it can be difficult to know where to start.? If you are choosing to stay in your relationship, here are a few suggestions to help you and your partner repair, rebuild and reconnect.

Repair

Staying in a relationship, following an affair, requires addressing all of the changes that have occurred because of it.? Changes, especially those we didn?t personally want or choose, can come with very strong negative feelings.? Its important these feelings are acknowledged, and by both partners.

There is usually no shortage of hurt and anger, and you may find conflict has become your main method of communicating.?? Hurt can manifest itself in several ways.? Anger tends to be one that is most commonly used, however, anger rarely comes alone.

Betrayed, sad, lost, scared, alone, confused, resentful, and vulnerable are just a few likely to surface.? Each relationship is unique, however, and so are the feelings that come with it.? Identify the feelings, as well as the underlying fears, insecurities, and loss the affair has created.? This helps focus your communication and creates a deeper understanding of the hurt and anger.?Emotional woman

Repair focuses on understanding our individual reaction to the affair, as well as recognizing that trust and friendship have now been called into question.? To address the loss of trust and friendship, it?s crucial to actively practice being a better friend.? This may seem obvious, but can often be overlooked in our everyday routine.

Learn what circumstances currently trigger negative feelings and/or conflict. Take action to correct these situations, and practice generating positive feelings instead.? Be mindful of your daily exchanges and build an atmosphere of comfort, kindness and consideration.? This creates a more neutral environment, and a neutral environment naturally reduces extra day-to-day conflict.? I?m sure you will agree that any way you can reduce conflict, will be of great benefit to you.

Consider actions such listening without interruption.? It sounds simple, but isn?t always so easy.? You can also defuse your environment by helping out with routines and daily activities, being considerate in your living space, giving genuine compliments, paying attention, and checking in with your partner about how they are doing. If you aren?t already taking these actions, then this is a great opportunity to demonstrate care for your partner.? With repetition and consistency, over time you share connections, and develop a sense of security.? This helps to repair the trust, and sets the course for?you to rebuild your friendship.

Friendship | holding hands

Rebuild

The level of friendship between partners is a significant indicator for success in a relationship.? The stronger your friendship connection, the higher your relationship success.

When your relationship began, together you created a vision of hopes, dreams and goals you planned to work towards.? This includes houses,?children, careers, vacations, lifestyle goals, and the timeline for achieving them.?? An affair is not typically part of this vision, and can lead the injured partner to question: Have we really been working toward the same goal all along?

This question can lead to uncertainty about your future, and in need of confirmation about what the future holds.? Address this uncertainty?by communicating your intent to stay together, as frequently as?needed.? Be honest and clear about what you want going forward, and?encourage your spouse to do the same.

Communicate your boundaries and expectations going forward.? As you?make these adjustments, you establish a clear vision of the future?while also reassuring your partner of your intent to stay together.?You are mending a friendship.? By consistently addressing the?uncertainty you demonstrate caring for your partner.? By sharing and re-negotiating expectations and goals, you establish a plan for being?together. Both are needed to encourage your friend to remain your?friend.

couple falling In love by lake

Reconnect

As we have all heard, time heals.?? But while you allow time to work,?this is the time to take active steps to build more closeness with?your partner.? Even if you and your partner are managing to get along,?life can manage to shake things up at any time.

Acknowledge Landmines.? Reminders of the affair, or that affairs exist?are similar to landmines.? You never know when or where they may be?hiding, but when you find them they blow up your whole day, week or?even longer.? A song on the radio, a scene in a movie or TV show.?Maybe a news article, mention of a city, or specific location connected to the infidelity.? These and many more not only can, but?unavoidably will also pop up.

When landmines show up the emotional response can feel just as strong?as the day the affair was discovered.? These experiences are, to say?the least, uncomfortable, and the straying partner may feel that?talking about them would be poking the emotional bear.

You or your partner may want to avoid, minimize, or even ignore them,?but don?t.? As awkward or uncomfortable as these situations may be,?they are actually opportunities for partners to share and understand?the ongoing impact of the infidelity, and then work through the hurt?together.? Emphasis on together.

landmine warning

The injured partner will be faced with landmines on sometimes a daily?basis.? Dealing with them alone can make your partner feel alone, not?understood, and uncared for.? These feelings will no doubt defeat your?goal of coming closer together, and will only create further distance?between you.? Working through these feelings together allows you the?opportunity to heal together rather than separate and alone.? It can?prove comforting when your partner is considerate of this, and is?willing to consistently demonstrate caring and support.

Working together through an affair takes time and a great deal of?patience.? The challenge of addressing the damage when our hurt and?defensiveness is high can be overwhelming, and at times seem?impossible to overcome.? Finding ways to reconnect with your partner?can be difficult or at times may not be well received.?man kissing his lovers hand

Practice patience, with yourself and with your partner.? Unfortunately?there is no timeline or rule book for exactly how you will find your?way back to each other.? At times you may want to speed up the?process, only to find a new bump in the road.?Rest assured this is truly a situation where persistence and?consistency pay off.? Stick with it, and you can get the results you?are looking for.

If you have dealt with this or are dealing with this, reach out to me. I can help you. I specialize in relationships. Don’t wait another day to start healing!

Unhappy couple on bench 16 May 2018

BY: Angela Lake, MA, LPC, NCC | Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Specialist, Trauma, Parenting, & Relationship Expert

Faith / Infidelity / Marriage / Relationship / Trauma

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How To Handle Infidelity

Marriage is a time when vows are taken.? Vows become a covenant.? Covenant is a word you may not hear a lot of unless you read a spiritual book like the Bible.? It is sacred word. Nowadays, there are people who don?t view marriage as sacred. When people in a relationship commit to each other and exchange vows, ideally, that event should be set apart.? What happens when that commitment is not looked after? If a marriage is left unattended or neglected by either spouse, then ugly will occur. What happens to the marriage if the husband or wife decides to seek comfort in the arms of another?

Infidelity, like adultery, is an ugly word.? Yet when spouses engage in an affair, ugly is the last thing they think about.? It?s a time of excitement and adventure for them.? The nagging guilt of breaking vows is often pushed back. Like an addict, the adulterer is very good at rationalizing their behavior.? It?s only when the person is caught or decides to finally come clean that the repercussions and consequences begin to unfold.? For the person being betrayed?? Other emotions are displayed.? Anger, hurt, betrayal, and sadness come screaming to the forefront.? Overnight, trust is shattered.? They ask questions and no answer seems good enough.

What happens next?? For some, infidelity is a deal breaker and to them there is no option but divorce. Lives are irrevocably changed.? Families are broken up and kids are left to wonder, “what happens now?”? There are a plethora of reasons why the Bible speaks so forcibly on the subject of adultery.? ?Do not commit adultery? is one of the 10 Commandments. God has warned us of the devastation that infidelity can bring.? It doesn?t get much plainer than those 4 words.? It?s Gods way of putting up flashing neon lights, road blocks, and danger signs just to get our attention.? Yet the sexual revolution has made it easier to go around these warnings signs and plow right into the ugly and pain.

There are some couples that fight for their marriage.? It is a difficult and emotionally draining time for both spouses. ?Offending spouses should come to a point of brokenness, not because they got caught, but because it is in that space of brokenness that remorsefulness is authentic that spouses can own up to their trespass. If the repentance is genuine, is there a chance for forgiveness and reconciliation?? For those that seek reconciliation, counseling can be a place where healing begins to take place.? My goal is that when clients meet with me or any therapist at Armstrong Family Counseling that they enter into a safe space that?s nonjudgmental and a place that fosters hope.

Both spouses have to face certain truths about the state of their relationship.? They will have to individually and together decide if their marriage is worth fighting for.? They will have to be willing to listen to each other. They should come to a point where they are willing to walk through the many different emotions and actions that a counseling session might bring up.?

Perhaps for the first time they will learn to be on the same page.? But as I am sure you know, nothing worth while ever comes easy.? Rebuilding a marriage will take time.? There are no easy fixes. ?If you are spiritual, then God or your higher power can play a giant role in bringing about new life to the marriage.? With honest hard work from both spouses, and lots of prayer, there is hope for a new beginning.? One woman wrote on the website The Unveiled Wife about her experience and what occurred when she trusted God to rebuild her marriage into something better.

?There is a reason for EVERYTHING ? every tear, every heartache, and every lonely night. Our marriage is already significantly more intimate, physically AND spiritually, than it ever was in the previous five years. Our God can heal? Our God can renew? It is all possible with our God. Believe!?

If you need help moving foward, I am a relationship expert. I can help you. Don’t wait, contact me today!happy couple

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