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 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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How To Reveal The Affair To Your Spouse Without Losing Them Or Being Physically Assaulted In The Process

How To Reveal The Affair To Your Spouse Without Losing Them Or Being Physically Assaulted In The Process

Are you afraid to reveal the affair to your spouse or partner?  A lot of people struggle to be completely forthright and honest about everything surrounding the transgressions.  It can be incredibly scary because you don’t know how they will react.  

Will they leave?  Will they hurt you somehow?  Will you regret it?  Are you better off never revealing what happened…or are you better off sharing all the details?
In our marriage counseling and coaching practices we’ve helped thousands of individuals from all over the world come clean to their partner about the affair…in the best way possible.  It’s not easy…but our methods work.

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Why A Museum Date in Oklahoma City Is A Great Way To Spice Up Your Relationship

Why A Museum Date in Oklahoma City Is A Great Way To Spice Up Your Relationship

You know what they say…a couple that explores together stays together…or at least having fun together scores big points in the romance realm.

Museums can be a novel way to spend time indoors during less than ideal weather.  When  you see something interesting it gives you an excuse to sit really close to read the tiny placard.  And if you have loud little people always around, many of the museums are incredibly quiet, which is a wonderful break from our crazy busy lives.  

Some of these museums might not be inline with your interests, but that’s why it’s important to go. Doing new and different things helps a romantic connection grow. You never know what will inspire you or if you’ll learn something new about your partner.  You never know what might trigger a good memory or even cause a conversation.  However you feel about the museum will spark a conversation

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3 Strategies For Raising Your Kid To Be A Kind And Likable Person

3 Strategies For Raising Your Kid To Be A Kind And Likable Person

How Your Parenting Today Impacts, Not Just Your Marriage, But Your Kid’s Future Marriage As Well

In a previous post called How To Raise Your Kid To Be A Great Spouse we shared several practical strategies for building a great relationship with your kid so they become a great spouse one day.  

This post continues that conversation about how do we do what we can do to ensure we raise exceptional human beings….AND how this has a direct impact on marriage.

We write from our experiences as parents and as professional marriage therapists.  We help couples every day who once were little kids seeking for attention and love.  We never lose that need for connection and love….it simply transfers to our marriage partner.

If we can learn to meet these needs for our kids we are doing 3 things.  1. We are learning how to meet those needs for our partner, 2. We’re learning about our own needs, and 3. We’re transforming lives for generations upon generations into the future.  

Humans have this incredible power to love and make a conscious effort to change.  We can heal and we can make little shifts to heal the lives of others if we’re brave enough to try.

We’re in this together!  One big human family.  Your family and your marriage plays a key roll in how the world thrives or falls apart.  If you don’t believe me…look at the education system for example…

When our public lacks an education there aren’t enough skilled workers to keep an economy alive.  People go hungry and loose hope.  The good news is you don’t have to rely on some government education system.

When you learn these skills you teach your children how seek their own education.  You remove obstacles so they can fully thrive and live up to their potential.  You’re giving them emotional intelligence.  This gift will allow them to never starve for love or intimacy.

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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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Were You Raised To Be Unfaithful?

Were You Raised To Be Unfaithful?

It’s not hard to believe that how we are raised greatly impacts our adult relationships.  But could our upbringing actually lead us to become unfaithful spouses?  

Research says yes it can.  How we are raised can cause us to be more likely to be unfaithful in our marriage.

If you ever wondered why your dad was so much harder on some boyfriends more than others…well this could be the reason!  Your upbringing says a lot about what kind of spouse you’ll be and if your marriage will be at risk for later betrayal.

Before we dive into these marriage counseling secrets….DISCLAIMER: please understand no person’s bad childhood is justification for extremely hurtful behaviors, like infidelity.  A person’s childhood doesn’t explain EVERY choice they make as an adult. 

We will unpack who is most likely to cheat, based on our decades of marriage counseling discoveries, and we discuss what you can do about it.  You’ll want to know if you or your spouse is at risk of being an unfaithful partner.

Spoiler Alert

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Sexual Intimacy A Struggle?

Sexual Intimacy A Struggle?

If only it were as simple as putting on a sensual song and slipping into something “more comfortable” to feel “in the mood” as a woman.  

If you come to us for counseling you have learned all about emotional intimacy and have probably experienced a deepening of your relationship bond in a short amount of time.  But sometimes couples still struggle sexually.  

Sometimes it’s a biological struggle, sometimes its dietary, and yet sometimes it’s just simply a matter of preparing the mind for an encounter with our spouse.... 

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New Parent Difficulties: A Case Study

New Parent Difficulties: A Case Study

When it comes to celebrity couples, Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling are one pair of Hollywood A-listers who have managed to keep the details of their relationship relatively private. Maintaining this level of confidentiality is no small feat given the celebrity status of the two.  After all, it's hard enough for us common folk to keep our private lives private. 

Nonetheless, when you're as famous as Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling are, there will always be prying eyes and lenses whenever you go out and public. As a result, there are some things that you just can't keep secret for long, and recent photos of the couple together clearly show that Mendes is expecting the couple's second child...

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How Infidelity Creeps Into Relationships: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner

How Infidelity Creeps Into Relationships: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck were more than just a Hollywood power couple. They were also the type of couple that a lot of couples aspire to be. His teary-eyed, heartfelt acceptance speech at the Grammy's was enough to make many women swoon. It's difficult to not be impressed by a man who unabashedly thanks and weeps over his wife and children on live television. When news of the their impending separation hit, followed by rumors of infidelity hit, however, public opinion dramatically changed. What people forgot is that celebrity relationships are fraught with all of the same problems that regular relationships are fraught with, and more. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are real people and the basic problem in their relationship is a very common one....

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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.    

Fixing Yourself Alone Doesn't Fix The Relationship

We know that when we get married that we are marrying an individual with many habits, personality traits, likes, dislikes, and of course a person with a history.  As we embark on a new future we have to recognize that we each have experienced different painful events and moments that sometimes get in the way of living a happy and healthy life.  

Some people feel like they shouldn’t get married or strike up friendships because there is something wrong with themselves and they need to be fixed before they can move forward with another person.  Now sometimes this is warranted - but more often than not - what you are experiencing is something that thousands of people face and to have someone walk through the fire and work it out with you is just what you need.  

We often think of couples therapy as just working on the relationship but more and more we see that couples therapy is also very useful for helping with individual issues as well. 

Research conducted by a group called Barlow & Colleagues found that when spouses were included in treatment for anxiety, success rate jumped from 46 to 82%.

The study also says that “recently, couple therapy has also been used to address “individual” problems such as depression and anxiety disorders, agoraphobia, addictions, and eating disorders (Baucom, Shoham, Mueser, Daiuto, & Stickle, 1998).”

In our office we have found that relationships are profoundly effected by depression and post traumatic stress caused by things like infidelity, past sexual abuse, and abuse by previous relationships.  It is amazing what a caring and attentive spouse can do for a person’s healing.  To know that someone will do what it takes to help you overcome the demons means so much.  It does not go overlooked and unappreciated.  

Do you like what you’re reading?  You can use this information and share this blog post just as long as you include the following statement exactly as you see it below at the end of your post:

“Brad Robinson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an expert in infidelity recovery in Tulsa, OK. Together with his wife Morgan Robinson they teach people about how to understand and overcome infidelity and how to make their marriage thrive even after betrayal. You can learn more about their work by visiting

The Cause of Most Fights in Marriage - and it's Not Money!

It is a commonly thought that the number one thing couples fight about is money. That is simply not the case. Although money is a point of stress it is not the biggest issue facing couples. The number one issue that causes the most trouble in marriage is actually a lack of feeling close. Here are 10 other more common problems a marriage faces...
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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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7 Steps to Separating From the Affair Partner

Here are the rules for separating from the affair partner: 1. Allow your spouse to participate in the severance. By allowing your spouse to have a say in how it is done will help your spouse find closure as well. Also, because the affair involved so much secrecy, this moment of truth is refreshing for them. Remember you and your spouse are a team. 2. Make it a clear, absolute, severance. There are a number of ways to separate from the affair partner that we will talk about but, however it is done, don’t let there be any question whatsoever that there is a glimmer of hope in the world that there could be anything between you again...
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