How Does Abuse and Emotional Neglect Make Someone An Avoider?

How Does Abuse and Emotional Neglect Make Someone An Avoider?

Understanding the Avoider’s Past So You Can Gain New Ways To Interact That Help You Break Out Of Old Ruts

We’ve talked a lot about what makes someone an avoider in previous articles on our website here and here.  We also explain more about why it matters and in different contexts.  But there are some other areas I want to dive deep into because they also play a huge role in your marriage. 

There are several things that can make someone grow up to become an Avoider. In this post we’re focusing on the aspects of your spouse’s past that make them an avoider.

There are several things that contribute to that from their past that we’ll get to in a moment. I don’t want to ignore the things that are happening now in your relationship that might cause them to avoid, that’s the the topic of another article you can find here. 

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How To Reconnect With Your Family When You Travel For Work Or You’re In The Military

How To Reconnect With Your Family When You Travel For Work Or You’re In The Military

This post is written in a frank and direct tone.  But I want you to know that it is because of the love I have for you and your family.  Most of all, your kids, whom I know you love deeply....I know you might be thinking “wait don’t you do marriage counseling? Wouldn’t it be my marriage you’d care the most about?”  

You bet I’m thinking of your marriage too.  But we’re constantly thinking about future marriages.  While these tips will transform your marriage in many ways...if you take this will also release something in your children that will cause generations of transformed relationships.  It transcends far beyond you or me or even things we can see.  You change thousands of lives by your choice to make these little changes. 

I am tired of seeing my dear friends missing these incredibly important and crucial details.  So I am writing this for you, the internet, as well as my dearest and most beloved friends who have to travel for a living to support their families or who are serving our great country in the military.  

I hope as you read this you hear my desperation for you.  If you saw a burning building and you knew someone was inside suffering wouldn’t you run in to save them?  Yes you would because that’s the type of person you are.  I am that person too.  This post is the water meant to quench the flames you can’t see, but you can feel.  Every time you want to get close but you can’t.  Enough with the small talk and butterfly kisses.  Let’s get on with it. 

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How Long Should I Try To Work On The Marriage If My Partner Is Unwilling To Try?

How Long Should I Try To Work On The Marriage If My Partner Is Unwilling To Try?

Maybe you’ve been unhappy in your relationship for a while but your partner seems unwilling to do anything to improve the situation.  It can be so hard to know what to do.  You can feel so incredibly stuck.  

I can be even worse if you’ve experienced a significant hurt.  Maybe they don’t know know how to be there for you emotionally or physically when you need them most.  

Maybe there’s been betrayal like an affair.  Maybe you’ve considered looking outside the marriage for comfort.  If you have then READ THIS.
But the question we get quite often in our marriage counseling private practices is, “how long should I try to work on things before it’s a hopeless case?”  Other questions we get are…”am I crazy for wanting to work on things?” Or “Is my partner a Narcissist just trying to hurt me?”

In our years of experience counseling couples we’ve identified several types of people, and situations couples find themselves in, when they have to decide if they should leave their spouse or not.

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Why You're Really Stuck And Unable To Heal After The Affair

Why You're Really Stuck And Unable To Heal After The Affair

Right now, if you’re reading this, you are looking for something, anything, to heal yourself…and maybe your marriage…from broken trust.  For most of you the trust was violated because of infidelity.  

You’ve tried what feels like everything.  Your inbox is likely flooded with tons of advice e-mails and sifting through that alone can feel like a stressful event all by itself.  

But this is all you need.  Right here.  You don’t need to look any further.  We take everything helpful that’s ever been published or thought of and we’ve condensed it to make it manageable and easy to follow.

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The Hidden Desires That Lead To Unfaithfulness In Marriage

The Hidden Desires That Lead To Unfaithfulness In Marriage

There are many different factors that cause someone to become unfaithful in their marriage.  We’ve been helping couples in our private practice Marriage Solutions approaching 10 years at this point and have helped thousands of couples.  

We don’t just study what makes a healthy marriage and family…we’re in the trenches every day actively working it out with each couple one at a time.  

In this article we explore the deep hidden desires that cause someone to fall into infidelity.  The goal here is to help you heal, prevent this, or keep it from reoccurring again in your relationship.  

We dive really deep into healing couples in our marriage counseling practice.  But we don’t always have the time to explain what we can here on our blog in session because…well…we only have so much time.  

So in this post we’ll talk about…

  • The hidden desires that lead to an affair

  • The real lack of trust that leads to infidelity

  • How islands become unfaithful spouses

  • What’s the root of it all

  • Giving the best away

  • Giving what we don’t have

  • So what seeds are planted early on that leads someone to infidelity?

  • Why do Pursuers pick Islands?

  • Why do Islands pick Pursuers?

  • What is the solution?

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Is Emotional Blindness Hereditary?

Is Emotional Blindness Hereditary?

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “If I go to my partner with this issue or concern they won’t handle it well?”  

I think we all have thought that at some point.  But what happens after that initial hesitation is what matters a lot.

How do you handle these tough situations?  Do you still go to them and weather the stormy conversation or do you hold back?  Why?  What are we afraid of happening?

How we answer this says a lot about us and our upbringing.  It also tells us a lot about what your children will do when they grow up too….

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Struggling with Anger? Check Out this Great Read!

This is such a great book that has changed so many lives and really helps those of us who struggle with anger.  

Do yourself a favor and check it out. You won't be sorry! Get "The Anger Management Sourcebook" by Glenn Schiraldi today!

If you read it and like it send us a message letting us know how you were helped.


Healing Trauma & Depression As A Couple

In this post we talked about how research has shown that couples therapy is becoming more and more effective in helping individual issues.  The reason is because everyone needs a support system and everyone needs to feel connected to others, especially to our significant other, emotionally.  This need for connection to others is known as the Attachment Theory in psychology. 

We also talked about if an individual has experienced trauma, if they have a significant other walk with them through their healing process, then they are more likely to heal and heal quicker than if they had to go at it alone.  

Part II will discuss why couples counseling is effective in helping individuals overcome trauma. Susan Johnson, a highly respected couple’s therapist, said, “Isolation and a lack of secure connection to others undermine a person’s ability to deal with traumatic experience.  Conversely, secure emotional connections with significant others offer a powerful antidote to traumatic experience (Johnson, in press).”

How does a secure relationship help us heal and deal with trauma?  Well, to simplify it, a traumatic experience turns our world upside down and a good relationship with our significant other can turn our world around by soothing us, offering safety, promoting confidence and trust, and helping us to feel comfortable in taking risks and learning new coping mechanisms to name a few.  

On the other hand if your relationship is not good then that in-and-of-itself is a traumatic experience.  If you have experienced war, past sexual abuse, a life altering accident, or any other sort of trauma, a poor connection with your spouse can actually worsen the trauma from the past.  


“A significant portion of clients identified as having borderline personality disorders, most of whom are survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), improve substantially in later life if they find a positive attachment relationship with an understanding other (Stone, 1990).”

Brad uses the Attachment Theory as a foundation when working with couples.  He works with couples to feel and become closer to each other by helping individuals feel comfortable being honest and forthright talking about issues.  He also helps each spouse rise to the occasion and teaches them how to become that caring support system their spouse so desperately needs.  

So here are the 10 central tenants of attachment theory as described by Susan Johnson in her book Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy with Trauma Survivors (some of this is copied directly from her book and some is my own interpretation in order to best explain attachment):

  1. Attachment is an innate motivating force.  We all desire to be close. It is imbedded in our genetic make up.  It isn’t simply an infantile need but is what we all need in order to survive.
  2. Secure dependence complements autonomy.  “There is no such thing as complete independence from others or overdependence (Bretherton & Munholland, 1999).  There is only effective or ineffective dependance.”  Surprisingly, the more securely dependent we are the more autonomous and separate we can confidently be.  
  3. Attachment offers a safe haven.  Even back in the stone age people lived together, worked together, fought together and without one another there surely would be no procreation and death of a population was insured.  As a survival mechanism, people need to be securely bonded to one another for safety.  If this is not possible stress and uncertainty is the outcome.
  4. Attachment offers a secure base.  It is a spring board for people and a foundation they can refer to.  When you know you have a secure place to return to you feel more confident and encouraged to explore the world and take necessary risk, to learn, and continually reinvent yourself.
  5. Accessibility and responsiveness build bonds. The building blocks of secure bonds are emotional accessibility and responsiveness.  It is emotional engagement that is crucial.  In attachment terms, any response (even anger) is better than none.  If there is no engagement, no emotional responsiveness, the message from the attachment figure is “Your signals don’t matter, and there is no connection between us.”
  6. Fear and uncertainty activate attachment needs. When an individual is threatened (by traumatic events, the negative aspects of everyday life such as illness, or an assault on the security of the attachment bond itself) emotions arise and the need for comfort and connection become very obvious.   People begin to ask “Where am I in proximity to my spouse?” or “Where do we stand?” or “What does my partner think of me?” or “Do they love me?” or “Can I depend on you when I need you?”.
  7. The promise of separation distress is predictable.  When someone reaches out to the spouse for connection but the spouse fails to comfort them and respond to their efforts then the normal response is angry protest, clingy behavior, depression, and despair.  Ultimately, this leads to detachment.  Depression is a very natural response to a lack of connection in your relationships.  
  8. A finite number of insecure forms of engagement can be identified.  There are only so many ways a person can respond to negative answers to the plea for connection.  Our responses fit into two different categories: anxiety and avoidance.  When the attachment or connection between an irreplaceable other like your spouse, a parent, or a child anxious behavior may increase.  You may become more clingy, pursue harder, and even become quite aggressive.  Or you may become more detached or avoid the situation or conversations out of fear.  These are strategies people use to protect themselves from further pain.  
  9. Attachment involves working models of the self and the other.  This is how you view yourself and how you view others.  If you view yourself as lovable and worthy of care and as confident and competent this is a secure attachment and can determine your responses to situations.  Securely attached relationships can help us grow and become a person who views ourself that way because we look to others to validate our opinions naturally.  Securely attached people, who believe others will be responsive when needed, tend to have working models of others as dependable and worthy of trust.  These outlooks are formed by thousands of interactions and become expectations and biases carried forward into new relationships.  The way we relate to ourselves and our significant other is infused with emotion.
  10. Isolation and loss are inherently traumatizing.  When someone has experienced trauma in their past and the isolation that follows, their personality formation and their ability to deal with other stresses in life is greatly altered.    

Should You or Your Spouse Take a Lie Detector Test & Other Common Questions

There are many words to describe an affair. It is often called a fantasy, a break from reality, infidelity, some call it unforgivable, everyone calls it painful. But what it truly is deep down to the core is a lie. In counseling part of what we do is work with the couple to rebuild trust. Sometimes we recommend that the betrayer should take a polygraph also known as a “lie detector test”. This is another way to help the betrayed spouse feel at ease with the truth the betrayer is telling them. If the betrayer is with holding parts of the truth the polygraph will help bring that to light.
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The Affair Trap

Did you know that most affairs are not actually about sex? Surprised? You may also find it interesting that most people who have had an affair believed it would never happen to them. It doesn’t matter if you are religious, a good person, or a smart person. Affairs have very little, if at all, to do with the type of person you are. So you may be asking, “what are affairs about anyways, if it's not just sexual addiction, and what types of people have them?” We will tell you. Affairs are about many different things. Reasons can vary based on circumstances and what is going on inside the heart and mind of the person who has the affair. Let’s look at a few different ways a person falls into the affair trap:
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How the Internet Affair Virus is Spreading

The painful feelings are still very similar whether your spouse is having sex with someone or they are just having an “internet fling”. We often hear from people that say even though their spouse hasn’t slept with anyone it still feels like they have cheated. Your heart still feels ripped out. Yet many can’t fully understand why. That is what this series of blog posts aims to sort out for you.
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Successfully Manage Your Guilt

In order to successfully understand your guilt you must understand the stages that we go through in the guilt process: Denial. We may be shocked and numb at first because the guilt is so uncomfortable. We may deny responsibility at first. Processing. Over time, we are able to accurately assess the harm done and legitimately assess our responsibility. Lessons are learned and emotions are neutralized by no longer looking at the situation with faulty thinking. Resolution. In this third step, we express appropriate grief for the hurt we have caused and make appropriate amends. We no longer feel the need for guilt and self-punishment. We are now able to truly think about and elevate others.
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Women & Depression

Women & Depression

We talked about depression in men in the last blog post. Now we want to address depression in the ladies. Depression can have a significant impact on your marriage as you begin to withdrawal. Many of us have heard about postpartum depression and depression throughout pregnancy which often occurs because of the hormonal changes experienced. We will address this further, however, did you know the higher rate of depression can’t be blamed on biology alone? Your life situation and cultural stressors could play a role in your depression as well. In this blog post we will outline the biological causes of depression, such as occurs with pregnancy, and those related to non-biological causes as well....

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Symptoms of Depression in Men

Symptoms of Depression in Men
Depression effects all of your relationships and looks different for men than it does for women. It isn’t known exactly why it is different for men then it is for women but it likely involves hormones, brain chemicals, and life experiences. This blog will discuss #1 how depression manifests itself in a man’s life and #2 healthy coping mechanisms for men experiencing depression.
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How Common is Depression?

August 12th, 2011

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has found that 1 in 20 kids and teenagers is significantly depressed. 

Almost 30% of 13 year olds show symptoms of depression.

15% of kids have had a major depression episode before they finish high school.

Because many depressive symptoms go unreported, experts predict that 1 in 4 kids will have a serious episode of depression before they finish high school.

Depression is not a normal phase, but it is a serious illness that can have severe consequences that sometimes result in death.

Kids with depression are more likely to develop drug or alcohol problems by their twenties.

Depression leads to suicide for 1 in 10 prepubescent kids.

In the past 30 years, suicide rates have tripled for kids and teens.

44 percent of kids who develop depression before they are 18 years old will go through another episode by the time they are 24 years old. 

Almost all of kids with untreated depression will go through another episode in the next three years of their life.

When diagnosed and treated early, kids will usually be able to get out of depression.

Family & Life Solutions

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1st Steps to Healing After an Affair

Knowing the true story behind a trauma is the only way the victim can stop obsessing and begin to heal. Because affairs are secret, betrayed partners can’t resolve their grief over their loss of innocence until they know what really happened. Unfaithful partners who lie about the details cause more harm than good because the only way to restore a betrayed partner’s sanity is to be honest about what has, up to now, been concealed. A key question that must be answered for the betrayed partner is, “How do I know you won’t betray me again?” They can answer this by knowing what led to the infidelity and what kept it going.
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