Tag Archive for: couples therapy

How to Reconnect – Phase One: Recognizing the Exit Strategy

As I reflect on this American celebration  from this week, I want to give all my thanks to my faithful readers and supporters. I also want to thank all my patients who have trusted me and work with me to better ourselves and the world around us. Finally, I want to thank my family and friends and particularly the very special people who generously donated their time, support and love to carry me this past month through a most challenging medical time. Thank you!

Falling in love is exhilarating; staying in love is a labor of love! And so we relished in our romantic love, blind and happy, until we started sharing house and dirty socks! The red flags were there but our happy hormone pumped up self was oblivious to the potential smell of the dirty socks. Eventually of course, it started to stink along with our responses to it. So came the comments, then the remarks, the heated exchanges and the full fledge fights, all very gradually, until one day, the gap was so wide that we became estranged to each other, wondering how we got there.

Of course, some of us decide that “life is too short”, that “it’s not worth it”, that “there are plenty more where they come from” and use other clichés to justify our personal reasons to withdraw and start a new relationship. Some of us, however, for other personal reasons, do not feel so easily defeated. We want “to work at it”, “rekindle the initial flame”, enjoy the long term effect of companionship and acquire the trust and respect of the lover who over time also becomes our best friend. This choice is arduous and painful but rewarding and validating.

Because this choice is difficult, it is always a good idea to create an environment that will facilitate the process of reconnection. The first step is to close most of the exit strategies. Let’s go back to my lovely initial reference of unsavory household details. Overtime, we have developed strategies to avoid the smell of the dirty socks. We have justified longer work hours. We have made our phones our free-time full-time partner. We have declared ownership to the “do me” hip slogan and decided to go to the gym five times a week regardless whether our mate was available or not. We have made ourselves intimately unavailable because of the children, etc. I think you’re getting the picture. These are exit strategies.

Exit strategies are developed consciously or not to escape. When the relationship becomes tense, boring or conflicting, we disengage, disconnect and increase time away from our partner. Instead of calming the game, overtime, we intensify the disconnection. The key to start closing exit strategies is to examine your individual activities and find out your hidden motivation. Remember that the reconnection business is like meringue, salsa or tango, it requires two people! Also, the goal is to be successful, so no big leap to start with. Kafka, European philosopher, once said:”a path is made by walking it”.

Good luck! Next time, I will talk about phase two…

Loyalty to a spouse or partner is the respect of sexual exclusivity. However, they are different forms of infidelity from a long term affair to lack of sexual life at home. As the Inuits have different words to designate the word snow according to its nature: powdery, heavy, wet, etc., we should have different versions of the word “infidelity”.

There is a huge difference between each type of infidelity and many subcategories to each. A “loyal” unfaithfulness over a long period of time is different from long term multiple unfaithfulness. What is a long time anyway: a week? Two weeks? A month? What about short term infidelity, for instance a quickie in the park? A night shot? A weekend? And then, can we label the abandonment of the conjugal room for the sofa, the computer or the office as infidelity?

The basic concept is that faithfulness involves the body and the mind. Therefore, infidelity is the scission of the mind and body. When the scission is prolonged, it creates a new dimension, a journey that influences and changes the couple’s reality. It endangers the intimate connection because it brings in a new element. Even if love subsists for the regular partner, the initial couple as a protection against the world has now lost its primary function. On the contrary, a short escapade as identity reinforcement or an exception to the rule may reinforce the couple especially when guilt is involved.

A partner involved in a long term love affair may save the couple by showing love, preference, involvement and protection to the regular partner. However, the erosion of the couple is unavoidable when faced with half lies, compromising information, prolonged absences, unusual expenses and absentmindedness. Overall, couples seldom resist long term infidelity because it destroys the assurance of knowledge and beliefs that were patiently build up. Trust is a long term construction that can be destroyed extremely rapidly and definitively.

She made me slap her…he forced me to lie…like if she actually took his hand and slammed it on her face. Funny when we think of it, but kind of scary when we think about the lack of accountability, responsibility for one’s action, the blaming game. It is also saying that we do not have control over our actions. Of course actions can be the consequences  of our emotions and our emotions are sometimes slipping away from our control. However, should we  live our life expecting that we do not have choices? Should we stand for no individual freedom?

Because we are talking about freedom here! Freedom is not necessarily about doing what we want

when we want regardless of consequences. Freedom is about choices. It is about happiness! I suggest a good read with Barry Schwartz the “Paradox of Choice.”

Do you want to share your opinion?


We all know how it feels to be deceived, belittled, let down, controlled, lied to, betrayed,

cheated upon… And we also know how difficult it is to regain trust when we inadvertently or

intentionally broke it with our loved one. We certainly do not like to be in either position when

we care, when we want the relationship to be successful. So let’s find out how we manage trust

or better yet how YOU manage it!

TRUST is the number one ingredient of a long term relationship. It is also called the GOLDEN RULE.

The GOLDEN RULE has three behavioral components. Do you have any suggestions as to what these

components are?

Tag Archive for: couples therapy