What You Need to Know About Relationships and Recovery

Comment

What You Need to Know About Relationships and Recovery

Living with active addiction creates extraordinary relationship challenges and does considerable damage to significant relationships—with partners, parents, children, other family members, and close friends. When you enter recovery, it’s natural to want to repair this damage as soon as possible, and your impulse might be to try to do just that. However, attempting quick fixes is rarely helpful and almost never works well. Often, it can make things worse. READ MORE

Comment

Open, Non-Monogamous, Poly or Designer Relationships

Comment

Open, Non-Monogamous, Poly or Designer Relationships

One of the differences in my practice today versus ten years ago, is the openness with which couples are entering therapy to discuss their desire to open up their monogamous relationships.  They may also contact my Center for Love and Sex in NYC to discuss their well-established open relationship to work on better communication skills, get advice around parenting, or to discuss a renegotiation. 

The recent article in the New York Times Magazine section, Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage? featured profiles of a few couples that ventured into non-monogamous structures.  The author was helpful in revealing that opening up or living within non-monogamous agreements are really for people who are interested in talking about their feelings whether they be about insecurity, pride, jealousy or erotic excitement by proxy among other issues raised in these relationships.  But some other significant points were missed, in my opinion. 

Source: Franklin Veaux

The article didn’t present the full spectrum of diversity in the non-monogamous communities including those that come from various ethnicities, cultures and sexual practices. Although they included a small description of the African American couple Kevin and Antoinette Patterson, and the gay couple Logan Ford and Robert Reynolds, the lack of more detailed description made their story feel less important.  More description and discussion was spent on the white heterosexual couples, thereby presenting a more privileged view of non-monogamy and polyamory. While the author cited important historical sources like the first book about Open Marriage by Nena and George O’Neill from the 1970’s and The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton, the article neglected to cite Opening Up by Tristan Taormino or Designer Relationships by Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels, significant educational contributions in the handed down by people immersed in these communities. Johnson and Michaels pointed out that the couples portrayed in the article were those who chose “nonmonogamy as a solution for marital problems as opposed to something that people enthusiastically choose” .

One of the emotions the writer didn’t name explicitly in her article was that of compersion, defined as the experience of being happy for your partner’s happiness including when they have had sex with a partner other than yourself. This feeling is hard for committed monogamists to understand and certainly many therapists would have difficulty trusting that this emotion is authentic since we have all been brought up in a world where jealousy seems the norm.  It’s not that non-monogamous individuals never feel jealousy, they just work on it in a deeply committed way while also feeling compersion.  So when a client of mine is expressing joy that his wife is experiencing a new kind of arousal with her boyfriend, most traditional therapists might look for some sort of pathology as to why this husband isn’t exclusively feeling jealous of his wife’s partner.    

While the Times story included a therapist who told one of the couples they were likely heading for divorce, it didn’t articulate how this reflection showed the monogamous-centric attitude the therapist seemed to hold. The omission in the article of how the therapeutic community views non-monogamous couples may have been an oversight by the writer, but from my seat I see it as a missed opportunity to reveal a professional blind spot in most general therapists’ toolkits.  Why would a therapist assume that divorce was the only option? Why not help the partners work past the power struggle they were in and towards a compromise that included the husband’s stated desire to open up early on in the relationship and the wife’s newly discovered erotic interest with someone else?  I am of course not implying a therapist should convince a couple to take something on they are not interested in, that would be unprofessional but rather not considering the question about opening up as a choice in certain situations and whether the couple had ever discussed it at all could be an omission based on the monogamous norm.

Given that many couples therapists and sex therapists see many couples in crisis when an affair or infidelity has been discovered, it is curious that these same therapists have trouble treating a consensually non-monogamous couple with a different lens.  Many therapists believe that those practicing a non-monogamous relationship structure are somehow damaged in their attachment styles, or this structure is just a convenient way for partners to cheat with permission.  And while there are those in the CNM (Consensual Non-Monogamous) community that might break rules set up by their primary partner and lover, why would they be seen differently than supposed monogamous couples where one partner was unfaithful?    Are they held to a different ethical standard by couples’ therapists? 

Another point I was relieved to see in Kevin Patterson's recent blog after his being interviewed for the article is that the fact that the woman Elizabeth who was featured in the article was seeing a married man who wasn’t “out” with his wife about seeing another woman. So that in fact, he was cheating on his wife with a woman who was being open with her husband.  I agree with Patterson on the fact that this arrangement is actually unethical non-monogamy since not all parties involved have chosen this arrangement and not something that many communities accept given the lack of transparency for all involved.  

Infidelity has been a presenting issue for which I have seen intentional non-monogamous couples in my practice, whether it is due to a partner seeing a lover more times than was originally agreed upon, engaging in a sexual behavior that hadn’t been approved or beginning a new relationship without discussing it beforehand with the primary partner. And while I treat the infractions with the advice that the couple might pull back from outside relationships for a while to re-boot their trust and agreements, I also am aware that at some point they would be open to practicing polyamory or non-monogamy again given their lifestyle.  Another therapist might think of this as a negative outcome for this couple, but I think the therapeutic process should be tailored for each couple’s stated goal and expressed lifestyle.

Many couples have come to my practice after seeing a general couples’ therapist who told them that they were heading for a divorce or who tried to convince them their lifestyle itself was the source of their conflict.  The couple ended the treatment having felt like their presenting issue was not addressed and that the therapist was not informed.  In research about attitudes towards monogamy and CNM, a recent studyfound that subjects were more likely to think that individuals in the monogamous relationship were superior to those in the CNM relationship.  The researchers were studying a potential halo effect that has far reaching consequences in our society in general, but for the purpose of this topic I’m focusing on the consequence of viewing one type of couple healthier than another as a significant therapeutic problem. 

If therapists are supposed to help clients in their romantic relationships, they need to be able to see past society’s and their own discipline’s history of negative views of non-monogamy.  It would be critical for them to learn that recent research shows that non-consensual partners in partnerships/marriages (those individuals cheating, or having affairs) are significantly less likely to use protective sexual behaviors with both their lovers and partners (leaving them both open to STIs) and less likely to participate in frequent STI testing than consensually non-monogamous individuals.    

When I presented at an AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists) several years ago on the Clinical Implications when Working with Non-Monogamous Couples, the response was so overwhelming the organizers had to move us into the largest ballroom to accommodate the audience.  

If all therapist become more knowledgeable about CNM, Polyamory and Designer Relationships,  their understanding of how an individual’s exploration in other relationships while maintaining an open secure, trusting primary bond can be a quest to explore aspects of one’s own personality which they then bring back to their primary relationship.  A heterosexual couple who discusses openly the husband’s desire to bring his wife to a sex party while she feels shy or inclined to meet a 3rd party online are navigating not only the behavior but the deeper intra-personal and erotic meaning it may have for each of them, thus allowing each of them to witness and know one another more intimately than a person who secretly has an affair who is perhaps never discovered.

Many times when we see couples after the discovery of an affair, therapists assume the therapeutic work is only to re-establish trust but I would add that to go deeper to explore the meaning and timing of the affair, aspects of the affair both interpersonal (that is, was it in reaction to something their partner was or wasn’t doing?), and/or intra-personal (was it an internal voyage that the person navigated in order to grow, alter or settle how they felt about themself?) are questions that allow a couple to grow in ways that they could never have imagined when the affair was first discovered.  

My colleague Esther Perel, whose upcoming book The State of Affairs explores these issues, with the understanding that both partners, if working with therapists who are able to hold them through the emotional rollercoaster of recovery will learn about the private domains of their partners as much as the private domains they had avoided within themselves.  It is this type of continual self and partner discovery that open, communicative monogamous and CNM partners can gain when they share their deep longings and fantasies in a non-judgmental context whether they're at home or with a CNM-informed therapist who is willing to meet them where they are. 

 

Comment

Hepatitis Testing Day (May 19)

Comment

Hepatitis Testing Day (May 19)

Millions of Americans have chronic viral hepatitis; most of them do not know they are infected. The goal of Hepatitis Testing Day is to help raise awareness of hepatitis B and hepatitis C and to encourage more individuals to learn their status. It is a day for people at risk for viral hepatitis to be tested, and for health care providers to educate patients about viral hepatitis and testing.

Hepatitis Testing Day is an important opportunity for stakeholders across all sectors of society to educate their constituents and communities about viral hepatitis and encourage those at risk to be tested. First observed in 2012, Hepatitis Testing Day was designated as a national observance in the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis as part of broader efforts to raise awareness of the silent epidemic of viral hepatitis in the United States.

An estimated 850,000 people are living with hepatitis B and 3.5 million are people living with hepatitis C. Most people with chronic hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus don’t have symptoms until the later stages of the infection. As a result, many Americans living with viral hepatitis do not know they are infected and are at risk for severe, even fatal, complications from the disease and can spread the virus to others. Untreated chronic viral hepatitis represents a leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States. Treatment for hepatitis B is also available and can prevent the development of liver disease and liver cancer. Hepatitis C kills more Americans than any other reportable infectious disease. Testing individuals at risk for hepatitis B and hepatitis C and linking those chronically infected to medical care and treatment can reduce related illness and death.

Hepatitis Testing Day 2016 Observed at the White House

The White House hosted an observance of Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19, 2016. Co-sponsored by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the event put a spotlight on strengthening our national response to hepatitis B and C.

As part of the observance, the President issued a proclamation recognizing National Hepatitis Testing Day 2016. In it, he called on all of us to “rededicate ourselves to ensuring all people with viral hepatitis know their infection status and have access to necessary care and resources.” He also encouraged “citizens, Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and communities across the Nation to join in activities that will increase awareness about viral hepatitis and the need for expanded testing.”

During the White House observance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recognized 12 organizations for their outstanding commitment to increasing the number of individuals who are aware of their hepatitis B and C status.

Read more about the event in this blog post.

View more photos from the event.

Ways to Get Involved in Hepatitis Testing Day

Assess Your Risk and Take Action

Use these easy online tools to find out if you are at risk for hepatitis B or hepatitis C, then take action to locate a nearby provider of hepatitis B vaccination or hepatitis B or C testing. Share these tools with friends, family, colleagues, members, clients, constituents, and others.

Use the Hepatitis Digital Tools

Incorporate the Hepatitis Testing Day logo into your website, blog posts, social media, email, and other communications. Visit this CDC page to find an array of digital tools including a quiz widget and buttons, badges, and banners in different shapes and sizes that are ready to download and use online.

Learn about the CDC’s Hepatitis C Testing Recommendations for Baby Boomers

CDC issued a recommendation that all Americans born from 1945-1965 get tested for hepatitis C. People in this age group are five times more likely to have hepatitis C. This short video  describes what hepatitis C is and why testing is important.

Get Social

Join the conversation on social media. Use the hashtags #HepTestingDay, #HepAware, and #Hepatitis to share information on viral hepatitis and Hepatitis Awareness Month.

Follow @HHS_ViralHep  on Twitter to learn about the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, federal hepatitis actions and resources.

Follow @cdchep  on Twitter to receive information from CDC about hepatitis resources, tools, publications, campaign updates, and events.

Use CDC’s Educational Campaign Materials

Know More Hepatitis is an educational campaign aiming to increase testing for Hepatitis C among people born during 1945-1965. Supporting fact sheets, posters, infographic, buttons & badges, live-read radio scripts, templates, and other images can all be found under campaign materials.

Know Hepatitis B is an educational campaign aiming to increase testing for Hepatitis B among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). This multilingual campaign has materials in English, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese with select fact sheets also available in Burmese, Hmong, Khmer, and Lao. Supporting videos, fact sheets, posters, infographics, customizable flyers, and other materials can all be found under campaign materials.

CDC has multiple viral hepatitis posters available for ordering at no cost. Some posters are available in Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Watch and Share Videos

Learn more about viral hepatitis in these videos from federal partners.

Read About the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan

Learn more about our national plan to harness available tools and focus the U.S. response to viral hepatitis. The Action Plan features many opportunities for nonfederal stakeholders to take action in support of reaching its goals.

Read Related Blog Posts

Follow our blog posts about Hepatitis Testing Day – and the federal response to viral hepatitis. Feel free to cross-post, share or re-use these posts in your communications.

Join the White House 2016 National Hepatitis Testing Day Event via Live Webcast on May 19

Comment

HIV VACCINE AWARENESS DAY

Comment

HIV VACCINE AWARENESS DAY

HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (HVAD) is observed annually on May 18th. This observance provides an opportunity to recognize and thank the many volunteers, community members, health professionals, and scientists who are working together to find a safe and effective preventive HIV vaccine. It is also a day to educate communities across the nation about the importance of preventive HIV vaccine research.

Looking to get involved for HIV Vaccine Awareness Day? Here are some ways you can prepare for and get involved in this observance in your community.

Read and share the 2016 NIH Statement on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

Comment

The Healing Power of Relationships

Comment

The Healing Power of Relationships

The Healing Power of Relationships

BY: Linda & Charlie Bloom

The Real Key to Good Health

When we hear the word ‘health’, most of us think of diet, exercise, genes and . . . well that’s about it. We like to focus on the first two because we have some control over them. As for the genetic factor, it’s a little late to do much about that. But there is another factor; one that we do in fact have a lot of influence over that is, according to many of the world’s leading health authorities, the most significant variable of all in affecting the level of our overall well-being. That variable, according to such experts as Dean Ornish, Andrew Weil, Daniel Goleman, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Larry Dossey, John Robbins, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the quality of our relationships, or to put it more simply, in a four-letter word, “Love”.

We’re not referring to the syrupy-sweet Hollywood version of romantic infatuation (although, there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that), but to the experience of deep intimate connection with another person with whom we share a mutual feeling of care, understanding, good will, and a desire to enhance each other’s well being. Love is not so much a feeling as it is a way of being which informs us to act in ways that are life-enhancing to others as well as to ourselves.

Giving and receiving love is the ultimate win-win game. Lovers tend to be somewhat unconcerned with a return on what they give. They don’t see their offerings of kindness and care as an investment for which a return will be forthcoming, but experience the benefits and rewards in the act of giving itself.

Most of us have experienced the pleasures and joys of giving enough to know that it feels good to contribute to the well-being of others, whether we show that love by an act of kindness, an encouraging word, a caring touch, an expression of appreciation, or any of the other countless ways that we humans have of touching the heart of another. Now, thanks to some important and compelling findings compiled by many researchers and scholars, including some of the forementioned individuals, there is hard evidence that it not only feels good to create caring relationships with others, but that such connections have a profound impact on the quality of our physical as well as emotional health.

It’s conclusive that one of the most significant factors that influences the strength of our immune system and our ability to sustain good health and recover from illness quickly, is the quality of our relationships.

In his best-selling book Healthy at 100, John Robbins cites a 1993 study from the British Medical Journal that followed 752 men for seven years monitoring the effects of stress on their lives. The study found that the men who were experiencing high levels of emotional stress at the beginning of the study had more than triple the risk of dying within the next seven years than those with lower stress levels.

While this wasn’t particularly surprising to the researchers, what was surprising was that for those men who at the outset of the study claimed to have a “dependable web of intimacy” including a spouse and/or close friends, there was no correlation whatsoever between high stress levels and the death rate. It turns out that social supports neutralize the negative impact of stress by lowering the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine, which suppress immune resistance rendering the body more susceptible to disease.

In 2005, a ten year study which followed 3600 men and women aged 18-77 concluded that those women who kept quiet when conflicts arose with their spouses experienced the greatest health risk. While they may have thought that they were “keeping the peace” with their partners, they were four times more likely to die during the study than those who spoke their minds. This finding reminds us that it is not the presence of discord or negative feelings that causes emotional and physical suffering, but the way in which such feelings are dealt with. Suffering in silence produces a very different outcome than an honest expression of upset which can lead to and promote a deepened experience of intimacy and well-being.

In his ground-breaking book Love and Survival , Dr. Dean Ornish makes the point that it is not so much the number of social relationships that we have, but the nature of those relationships that influences our health and well-being. It’s definitely a matter of quality rather than quantity. Dr. Ornish claims that “While some studies measure the number of social relationships, I believe that it is your perception of the quality of those relationships- how you feel about them- that is most important.”

He goes on to cite a Yale study involving 119 men and 40 women were undergoing coronary angiography, an x-ray movie that shows the degree of blockages in coronary arteries. “Those who felt the most loved and supported had substantially less blockages in the arteries of their hearts.” The researchers found that feelings of being loved and emotionally supported were more important predictors of the severity of coronary artery blockages than was the number of relationships a person had. Equally important, this effect was independent of diet, smoking, exercise, cholesterol, family history, and other standard risk factors.

Dr. Ornish cites another study in which researchers from Case Western University followed nearly 10,000 married men with no prior history of angina (chest pain). Men who had high levels of risk factors such as elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, or electrocardiogram abnormalities were over 20 times more likely to develop chest pain over the next five years. However, those who answered ‘yes’ to the question, “Does your wife show you her love?” had “significantly less angina, even when they had high levels of these risk factors.” Men who had these risk factors but reported that they did not have a wife who showed her love had almost twice as much angina.

The researchers’ conclusion was “The partner’s love and support is an important balancing factor which apparently reduces the risk of angina pectoris, even in the presence of high-risk factors.” Those who answer “ No” to the questions “Do you have people in your life who really care for you, to whom you feel close, who are there to provide help you if you need it?” have a 3-5 times higher risk of premature death and disease from ALL causes. In addition, people are much more likely to choose life- enhancing behaviors rather than self-destructive ones when they feel loved and cared for.

The studies that Dr. Ornish cites also reflect this rather significant finding which is that loving relationships provide as much benefit to the giver as to the receiver. That is, it’s not just how much you GET, but how much you GIVE that matters. Citing a study of over 700 elderly adults, the effects of aging had more to do with what they contributed to their support network than what they received from it. The more love and support they offered, the more they benefited themselves.

In a nutshell, anything that promotes feelings of love and intimacy is healing; anything that promotes feelings of isolation, separateness, loneliness, anger, cynicism, hostility, and related feelings, leads to suffering, illness, and premature death. These findings aren’t hypothetical conjectures, they’re based on hard scientific research. There seems to be little doubt that there is no greater gift that we can give to ourselves and our loved ones, than our offering of love and our openness to receive it when it is offered from others. Surprisingly, despite our desires and best efforts, practicing the exchange of love can be easier said than done. Creating loving relationships requires the willingness to experience unprotected openness and vulnerability, which for those of us who have unhealed past emotional wounds, can be a daunting prospect.

With a clear intention, a strong commitment and adequate emotional support however, the resistance to love that so many of us have experienced can be dissolved and transformed into life-giving energies that are empowering and creative. When we fully appreciate the possibilities that open up when we deeply connect with others, the motivation to become more loving arises within us, and we find the courage and commitment to live with an open, healthy heart. Literally!

Comment

What Adam and Eve Can Teach You About Modern Relationships

Comment

What Adam and Eve Can Teach You About Modern Relationships

Back in 2014, best-selling author and PBS host Bruce Feiler was visiting the Sistine Chapel with his eight-year-old twin daughters when the girls made a shrewd observation about Michelangelo’s famed fresco ceiling. As they stared up at the panel depicting God reaching toward Adam, giving him life, one of his daughters said, “That’s just men. Where am I in this picture?” His other daughter followed up, asking if the woman under God’s arm was Eve—a question Feiler had never previously considered. From these two seemingly off-the-cuff remarks, a larger concern suddenly dawned on Feiler: The story of Adam and Eve has been at the heart of every conversation about men and women—and how they relate to one another and to the world—for more than 3,000 years. But what, Feiler wondered, could they tell us about relationships today?

Enter The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us, Feiler’s latest work, out Tuesday, which addresses that matter exactly. Feiler entered into the project expecting to write a book about Adam and Even; instead, he wrote a book about love. Though the story of Adam and Eve is one that has, for the most part, been synonymous with the introduction of sin, death, and deception into human existence, Feiler argues that the “first couple” should instead be looked at as an example of a healthy relationship built on understanding and resilience. Ahead of The First Love Story’s release, Glamour chatted with Feiler about the book, what advice Adam and Even can provide to modern couples (as well as singles), and why he thinks Eve suffered the “greatest character assassination” the world has ever known.

Glamour: In your research you saw the varied ways that both religious and secular institutions view the relationship between Adam and Eve. What did you find most surprising about the way Adam and Eve have been used, historically, to shape the conversation about relationships?

Bruce Feiler: The most surprising thing is the difference between what’s in the story and what organized religion has done to the story. It begins with equality. It has a back-and-forth, a give-and-take, that’s very contemporary to modern relationships. It’s all about resilience and forgiveness. Yet that’s not what organized religion has said about the story. They’ve used it essentially to dump on Eve. Adam and Eve—and especially Eve—are victims of the greatest character assassination the world has ever known. But what’s actually in the text proves Eve is not secondary. Eve, if anything, is the great initiator in the story. She’s the first independent woman. For me, rediscovering that Eve was the greatest badass women of all time was a revelation.

Comment

5 Tips For Celebrating Couples Appreciation Month

Comment

5 Tips For Celebrating Couples Appreciation Month

Forget Valentine’s Day, it’s April and we are celebrating National Couple Appreciation Month! Since February has become commercialized with giant red hearts filled with candy and car advertisements, we are going to take it down a notch and give you some simple tips to show your other half how much you appreciate them and how you can celebrate your relationship. READ MORE

Comment

Is Your Relationship Toxic?

Comment

Is Your Relationship Toxic?

By: Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Is Your Relationship Toxic?

Toxic relationships are like poison. Though painful, they can be hard to leave.

Healthy relationships nourish and support us. Like poison, a toxic relationship is one that is damaging to us. Instead of uplifting us, it makes us feel worse. When it ends, we might experience post-traumaticstress or a lessening of our self-esteemand trust in ourselves and others. Although friends and family might tell us to leave, it can be hard to let go – despite the fact that the relationship is harmful and painful.

Signs and Symptoms

In a survey conducted by Glamour Magazine in 2011, 60 percent of women 18-35 years old said that they’d experienced abuse. About half were in a physically abusive relationship, but don’t underestimate the damage of emotional abuse. It’s more predictive of stress and depression than physical abuse, which is almost always preceded by emotional abuse.1 It’s not uncommon for people to minimize, deny, or rationalize their pain and unmet needs and thus stay in a toxic relationship. In so doing, they underestimate the real consequences to their mental and physical health, including increased stress and depression. Some signs that you may be in a toxic relationship are:

  1. You feel drained or starved instead of nourished.
  2. Your behavior is motivated by fearanger, or guilt.
  3. Your needs and feelings are ignored.
  4. You “walk on egg-shells,” for fear of upsetting your partner.
  5. You frequently feel used, exploited, or disrespected.

Any of the following behaviors are symptomatic of a toxic relationship:

  • Violence (including physical and sexual abuse or property damage)
  • Active addiction
  • Chronic dishonesty
  • Gross irresponsibility
  • Frequent or big mood swings
  • Chronic passive-aggressiveness
  • Misappropriation of money or property
  • Emotional Abuse ( including frequent verbal abuse and manipulative, belittling, controlling, punishing, or withholding behavior)

What to Do

If you’re experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, don’t keep it secret. If you or a child is being physically abused, get help and access to safety immediately. Talk to someone you trust and seek professional help - ideally in couple therapy. However, if there is violence or coercion, individual counseling for each partner is preferred. If your partner is unwilling to get individual help to attend conjoint sessions, get individual help. A relationship can change when only one person is in counseling.

By not reacting, and learning to trust yourself, speak up, and set boundaries, the toxic patterns in your relationship can improve. Meanwhile, keep a journal of your feelings. Observe and note your partner’s behavior, how it makes you feel, what is said and what you’d like to say. Take action to build your self-esteem and learn how to be assertive. You will need support in making changes. Consider whether you both are willing to:

  • Reciprocate more.
  • Go to individual or conjoint therapy and seek group support (attend a 12-Step Program; e.g. Codependency Anonymous, or Nar-Anon or Al-Anon Family Groups for addiction).
  • Treat each other with more respect.
  • Take responsibility for your behavior.
  • Care about the effect of your behavior on one another.

On the other hand, change is less likely if either of you:

  • Continue to be secretive or dishonest and won’t admit it.
  • Violate the law or ethical standards without remorse.
  • Continue to be physically or emotionally abusive without remorse.
  • Continue to be grossly irresponsible.

By getting help, your self-esteem will increase, and you will gain the confidence to better cope with the relationship or leave. Once it's over, although you may feel relief and not even miss your ex. However, you might still need professional help to rebuild your self-esteem, learn effective communication skills, and heal from the detrimental effects of the relationship. This frees you to once again trust yourself and others and to have a healthy, loving relationship in the future.

Comment

NATIONAL YOUTH HIV & AIDS AWARENESS DAY

Comment

NATIONAL YOUTH HIV & AIDS AWARENESS DAY

NATIONAL YOUTH HIV & AIDS AWARENESS DAY – APRIL 10

Today's young people are the first generation that has never known a world without HIV and AIDS. In the United States, almost 40 percent of new HIV infections are young people ages 13 to 29. Despite this harsh reality, young people and their allies are determined to end this pandemic once and for all.

It’s more important than ever to recommit to the fight against HIV and AIDS. We must continue to invest in scientific advancements like a vaccine and a cure - without forgetting the importance of prevention strategies and ensuring equal access to information and healthcare for everyone.

And most importantly, we must invest in young people- bring them to the table not only as partners, but as leaders that can truly turn the tide of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Only by fully investing in young people - in their health, their education, and their leadership - can we reach an AIDS-free generation.

WHY A NATIONAL YOUTH HIV AND AIDS AWARENESS DAY?

The creation of NYHAAD is a step toward acknowledging and addressing the needs of young people in the HIV and AIDS response.  Each year, young activists in high schools and at colleges and universities across the country will use this day to organize and educate about HIV and AIDS. They will promote HIV testing, fight stigma, and start the necessary conversation we need to deal honestly and effectively with the challenges we face. NYHAAD will also provide a yearly date for all of us to hold our leaders responsible to their commitments and invest in realizing an AIDS-free generation.


WHAT CAN I DO?

Click here to add your name in support of National Youth HIV & AIDS Day. Together, we can make sure that the needs – and voices – of young people are central to the U.S. response to HIV & AIDS.

Comment

STD Awareness Month

Comment

STD Awareness Month

Take three simple actions to protect your health: Talk. Test. Treat.

Starting this STD Awareness Month, CDC is calling on individuals and healthcare providers to take three simple actions: Talk. Test. Treat. Remember these three words, learn what they mean and how to apply them, and then carry out these important healthy habits all year long!

The Inside Story on Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Too many people want to avoid the topic altogether, but public health data show us that there is a hidden STD epidemic in this nation. In fact, CDC estimates 20 million new STD infections occur each year in the United States, costing the healthcare system nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs. There are also now more than 110 million total sexually transmitted infections in U.S. men and women.

Why do we care?

For the first time in nearly a decade, rates for three of the most common STDs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis) all increased at the same time. These infections can threaten immediate and long-term health and well-being. Untreated STDs can lead to reproductive complications such as infertility (inability to get pregnant) and ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb). They can also increase a person's risk for getting and giving HIV.

Young people aged 15–24 and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men continue to be at greatest risk for infection. Why? It's complicated, but we know that individual risk behaviors aren't the only reason. Environmental, social, and cultural factors, including a high level of STDs in these populations and difficulty in accessing quality health care contribute to a higher STD burden.

The good news is that STDs are preventable!

There are steps everyone can take to avoid the negative health consequences and to reduce the overall burden of STDs.

Let's breakdown how you can Talk. Test. Treat to protect your sexual health:

TALK. Talk openly with your partner(s) and your healthcare provider about sex and STDs.

  • Talk with your partner before having sex. Not sure how? We've got a resource to help you get started. If you're going to have sex, discuss the many prevention options available, including the use of condoms.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about your sexual history, and ask what STD tests are right for you.

TEST. Get tested. Many STDs have no symptoms, so getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have an infection. See what tests CDC recommends, and find out where you can get tested.

TREAT. If you test positive for an STD, work with your doctor to get the correct treatment.

Some STDs can be cured with the right medication. Those that aren't curable can be treated. To ensure treatment is successful, be sure to

  • Take all of the medicine your doctor prescribes for you, and don't share it with anyone.
  • Don't have sex again until both you and your partner(s) have completed your treatment.

Healthcare providers can help too. Protecting your patient's health is also as easy as Talk. Test. Treat.

TALK. Providing the best care possible means talking with your patients about sexual health and safe sex practices.

TEST. Test your patients as recommended by CDC. We know you're busy, so we've put together an overview of CDC's STD screening recommendations.

Pregnant women can get STDs, too. Protect mother and baby by testing all pregnant women for syphilis, HIV, chlamydia, and hepatitis B, as well as testing at-risk women for gonorrhea, starting early in pregnancy. Read CDC's STDs during pregnancy fact sheet , so that you can easily reference who you should test and when.

TREAT. Follow CDC's STD Treatment Guidelines to make sure your patients get successful treatment and care. Keep this guidance at your fingertips by downloading our free app for Apple and Android devices from this page.

You should also know about your role in these important treatment topics:

  • Expedited Partner Therapy, or EPT, for partners of your patients unwilling or unable to access care. More information is available on our website.You can also contact your state or local health department to learn more about EPT in your area.
  • Drug-resistant gonorrhea is making this common infection harder to treat. Preserve our last treatment option by only using the CDC recommended dual therapy.

Comment

The Power of Our Trans Visibility

Comment

The Power of Our Trans Visibility

We are at a moment of unprecedented visibility for transgender Americans. According to a new survey released today by the Human Rights Campaign, one in three people personally know or work with somebody transgender.

That’s twice what it was just two years ago. And it’s a huge jump from 2008, when less than one in 10 people reported knowing someone transgender.

This is a good step, remarkable news and, still, there’s so much more to do. We know that when straight, cisgender people know LGBT people, they support laws that protect us. We also know that being a visible transgender person today is far from easy and can be enormously dangerous.

As we celebrate today’s International Transgender Day of Visibility, it’s time for an honest conversation about the realities of what visibility means to our lives and to our movement. READ MORE

Comment

Sex and relationships education is finally on the curriculum. What should it teach?

Comment

Sex and relationships education is finally on the curriculum. What should it teach?

By: Tanya Barrow

There are rare occasions when new legislation comes forward which can be greeted with the satisfying response: “Well, that just makes sense.” The announcement that sex and relationships education will be compulsory in English schools is one such occasion.

Justine Greening’s statement is the culmination of a long campaign to bring the curriculum into the 21st century.

The naysayers are wrong: this law will help keep children safe. It will not expose them to harmful material. Your four-year-old child will not be learning about pornography.

What this legislation does is recognise the reality of children’s lives in 2017: lives where exposure to sexually explicit material can be a daily reality, and in which girls can be pressured into sending sexualised images of themselves to their peers. The old curriculum – we’ve all put condoms on cucumbers – is simply no longer fit to deal with the challenges of the age of the internet, smartphone and social media.

What’s so important today is that the government has recognised the clamour from around the country for this to change. Children – girls especially – have been telling us at Plan International UK that they want to see improved sex and relationships education. Just one in five recent school leavers (aged 18-24) we surveyed felt what they learned about relationships was of any use.

What about parents? Might they be nervous about their children learning about sensitive topics such as sexting and the impact of pornography in the classroom? Certainly, parents have a crucial role to play in ensuring their children are equipped to deal with the challenges that they have to deal with around sex and relationships. Again, don’t believe those who tell you that this is a ‘nanny state’ law designed to cut parents out. Good sex and relationships education means conversations both in the home and at school.

When we asked parents what they thought about teaching in this area, they were fairly unequivocal. No less than 77 per cent of parents felt that children should be taught about the impact of pornography at school.  73 per cent wanted the curriculum to address sexting.

A critical question, of course, is the age at which some of these difficult concepts should be introduced. Justine Greening has confirmed that the education will be age-appropriate. Rightly so. With younger children, the focus will be on relationships – what friendship means, or whether it is OK for your friend to hold your hand without asking, for instance. As children grow up, more difficult concepts can be introduced – in line with the age that they are likely to first be exposed to sexual material online.

Crucially, guidance will be published which will be subject to public consultation. This is a national conversation that we need to have – teachers, policy experts, parents and most importantly children need to have their say on what the new curriculum looks like. Once decided, training needs to be put in place for those who will deliver it.

Some questions remain. Faith schools will be allowed the freedom to teach in line with their religious beliefs. We respect that – but also note that the internet, and some of the harmful material it contains, makes no distinction based on a viewer’s faith. As the guidance comes forward, we will be making the case that the new curriculum must be evidence-based, fully inclusive of issues including LGBTIQ (seven out of ten parents backed education about different sexual orientations in our research). We would encourage the faith community to engage in these discussions in the hope that all children can receive the basic support they need.

So, we applaud Justine Greening’s leadership on this issue. Her vision for a better world for women and girls while at the Department for International Development is in evidence here. Girls – and boys – will thank her. Now, the work to design a curriculum that meets their expectations begins. 

Tanya Barron is chief executive of Plan International UK, which has been campaigning for statutory sex and relationships education. Find out more at plan-uk.org/itsmyright

Comment

9 Habits Of People In the Healthiest Relationships

Comment

9 Habits Of People In the Healthiest Relationships

By: Kelsey Borresen Healthy relationships aren’t necessarily effortless and completely conflict-free. Rather, the strongest, longest-lasting couples are better equipped to deal with conflict in a mature way and are committed to growing both as people and romantic partners. We recently asked relationship experts to share what people in the healthiest relationships do regularly to keep their bond strong. Read on to see what they had to say:  1. They compliment their partner in front of other people.   “Couples in healthy relationships talk positively about one another to friends, kids, relatives, even coworkers. This is the opposite of undermining behaviors that characterize less functional relationships. Just saying, ‘My husband is handy,’ or ‘Mommy always makes the best dinners’ can be automatic and is a great way to maintain connection and closeness.” ― Dr. Samantha Rodman, psychologist and dating coach 2. They make time to connect, no matter how busy life gets.  “People in healthy relationships have regular times in their day-to-day routine to connect with each other. I’ve seen couples do this by walking the dog together, talking after the kids go down, watching their favorite shows or praying together.” ― Dr. Kurt Smith, therapist who specializes in counseling for men 3. They laugh freely and frequently.  “My husband and I laugh a lot. To the point where it’s difficult to be too upset for very long because one of us will usually do something to lighten things up. Topics can and should be serious when needed but having a sense of humor is a tremendous asset if you want to be in a healthy relationship. People that laugh a lot and generally just don’t take things too seriously can more easily enjoy a healthy relationship.” ― Dr. Marie Land, psychologist   4. They appreciate their partner’s positive qualities, instead of harping on the negative ones. “As a marriage counselor, I see couples on my couch who have a lot to complain about when it comes to their marriage. But for the most part, they have the same problems as just about every other couple. The healthiest couples don’t focus on complaints. Instead, they look at the good things their spouse does and they make it a point to not hold back in their expressions of gratitude for each other.” ― Aaron Anderson, marriage and family therapist 5. They practice empathy, regularly putting themselves in their partner’s shoes.  “By doing this, couples are often able to overcome the misunderstandings that commonly occur in all relationships. This conflict management skill helps people in my office feel heard, understood and valued when their partner can genuinely say, ‘I may not agree with you but I understand you and can see how it felt that way.’” ― Kari Carroll, couples therapist 6. They always let their spouse know when they’ll be home.  “A frequent bone of contention in conflicted relationships is when one partner feels out of the loop or unprioritized. A simple call or text to say when you’ll be home from work or from a girls night out helps your relationship thrive and makes your partner feel secure.” ― Dr. Samantha Rodman 7. They never stop flirting with each other.  “Flirting is a unique way for a couple to show love and excitement for each other and have fun doing it. When couples stop flirting, the relationship gets bland and boring. The healthiest couples still flirt with each other ― and they do it a lot.” ― Aaron Anderson 8. They keep their fights clean. “This means no name-calling, labeling or disparaging remarks about your partner whether you’re together or not. I often hear partners use sarcasm, biting comments or little put-downs with each other and then brush them off with a justification like, ‘I was just joking.’ Partners in healthy relationships practice being loving and respectful with each other always.” ― Dr. Kurt Smith 9. They forgive and move on, instead of holding grudges.  “A disagreement isn’t followed by emotional distance. Both partners own their mistakes, apologize and move on. They actually have time to enjoy their lives together even if an hour earlier they were disagreeing about something.” ― Dr. Marie Land

By: Kelsey Borresen

Healthy relationships aren’t necessarily effortless and completely conflict-free.

Rather, the strongest, longest-lasting couples are better equipped to deal with conflict in a mature way and are committed to growing both as people and romantic partners. We recently asked relationship experts to share what people in the healthiest relationships do regularly to keep their bond strong. Read on to see what they had to say: 

1. They compliment their partner in front of other people.  

“Couples in healthy relationships talk positively about one another to friends, kids, relatives, even coworkers. This is the opposite of undermining behaviors that characterize less functional relationships. Just saying, ‘My husband is handy,’ or ‘Mommy always makes the best dinners’ can be automatic and is a great way to maintain connection and closeness.” ― Dr. Samantha Rodmanpsychologist and dating coach

2. They make time to connect, no matter how busy life gets. 

“People in healthy relationships have regular times in their day-to-day routine to connect with each other. I’ve seen couples do this by walking the dog together, talking after the kids go down, watching their favorite shows or praying together.” ― Dr. Kurt Smiththerapist who specializes in counseling for men

3. They laugh freely and frequently. 

“My husband and I laugh a lot. To the point where it’s difficult to be too upset for very long because one of us will usually do something to lighten things up. Topics can and should be serious when needed but having a sense of humor is a tremendous asset if you want to be in a healthy relationship. People that laugh a lot and generally just don’t take things too seriously can more easily enjoy a healthy relationship.” ― Dr. Marie Land, psychologist  

4. They appreciate their partner’s positive qualities, instead of harping on the negative ones.

“As a marriage counselor, I see couples on my couch who have a lot to complain about when it comes to their marriage. But for the most part, they have the same problems as just about every other couple. The healthiest couples don’t focus on complaints. Instead, they look at the good things their spouse does and they make it a point to not hold back in their expressions of gratitude for each other.” ― Aaron Anderson, marriage and family therapist

5. They practice empathy, regularly putting themselves in their partner’s shoes. 

“By doing this, couples are often able to overcome the misunderstandings that commonly occur in all relationships. This conflict management skill helps people in my office feel heard, understood and valued when their partner can genuinely say, ‘I may not agree with you but I understand you and can see how it felt that way.’” ― Kari Carroll, couples therapist

6. They always let their spouse know when they’ll be home. 

“A frequent bone of contention in conflicted relationships is when one partner feels out of the loop or unprioritized. A simple call or text to say when you’ll be home from work or from a girls night out helps your relationship thrive and makes your partner feel secure.” ― Dr. Samantha Rodman

7. They never stop flirting with each other. 

“Flirting is a unique way for a couple to show love and excitement for each other and have fun doing it. When couples stop flirting, the relationship gets bland and boring. The healthiest couples still flirt with each other ― and they do it a lot.” ― Aaron Anderson

8. They keep their fights clean.

“This means no name-calling, labeling or disparaging remarks about your partner whether you’re together or not. I often hear partners use sarcasm, biting comments or little put-downs with each other and then brush them off with a justification like, ‘I was just joking.’ Partners in healthy relationships practice being loving and respectful with each other always.” ― Dr. Kurt Smith

9. They forgive and move on, instead of holding grudges. 

“A disagreement isn’t followed by emotional distance. Both partners own their mistakes, apologize and move on. They actually have time to enjoy their lives together even if an hour earlier they were disagreeing about something.” ― Dr. Marie Land

Comment

6 Queens You Should Know About for Women's History Month

Comment

6 Queens You Should Know About for Women's History Month

By: Olivia B. Waxman

Ever since March became Women's History Month in the U.S. in 1987, it has been a time to reflect on and share stories about influential women — of which queens are certainly obvious, colorful examples.

If the only queens you can name off the top of your head are Queen Elizabeth IIQueen Victoria and "Queen Bey" then peruse this round-up of notable women in charge, presented in no particular order, who range from revered rulers to royal pains:

Olympias (on the throne 375–316 B.C.E.)

Alexander the Great's mother and queen to Philip II of Macedonia, she was perhaps history's most extreme, and certainly one of the earliest, examples of a helicopter mom. "After Philip was stabbed to death by his jealous male lover — an act that had Olympias’ fingerprints all over it — she arranged for the assassination of Alex’s two siblings from another mother," says Kris Waldherr, author of Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends. In her spare time, she enjoyed worshiping the god Dionysus and dancing with snakes.

Njinga of Angola (1622-1663)

She was the queen of Ndongo, an area around the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo and is considered the "Cleopatra of central Africa" — whose political instincts rivaled those of Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great, according to the first full-length study in English of her life that was just published, Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen by Boston University historian Linda Heywood. According to the new PBS documentary Africa's Great Civilizations, she dressed like a man and insisting on be called "king" — and kept concubines — and yet was still discriminated against by rulers of other countries for being a woman. For example, she negotiated a treaty with the Portuguese on behalf of her brother while sitting on the back of her servant, who crouched on all fours so that she could look the Portuguese in the eye after they refused to get her a chair.

Berenice III (81 BC-80)

"She was the first queen of Egypt to rule without a consort in over a millennium," according to Waldherr. "Though her reign was less than a year, her example inspired her descendant Cleopatra to rule alone." The example was particularly driven home by what happened after Berenice gave in to outside pressure from Rome and married a man to help her rule as her consort: just a few weeks later, he killed her and took the crown for himself.

Get your history fix in one place: sign up for the weekly TIME History newsletter

Sophia Charlotte (1761-1811)

Some experts believe she was the first black Queen of England, arguing that she may have been descended from an African branch of the Portuguese royal house. (Others say the first black Queen may have been Philippa of Hainault, who was consort to Edward III in the 14th century.) A patron of the arts, she is said to have been tutored in music by composer Johann Christian Bach, while Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dedicated at least one work to her. An avid botanist, she founded Key Gardens. She also gave her name to the city of Charlotte, N.C., shortly before the Revolutionary War began.

Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi (1835-1858)

When the Queen of Jhansi was in her early 20s, she famously led the unsuccessful Indian Mutiny (1857-58), refusing to cede the city of Jhansi to the British. (Despite her efforts, the area did fall under the control of the British government.) Waldherr describes her as "sort of an Indian Joan of Arc because she also dressed in male clothing and was a warrior," skilled in martial arts and sword-fighting. British newspapers reportedly characterized her as the "Jezebel of India," but she came to be remembered as an icon of the Indian movement for independence.

Theodora (527–565)

She has been described as "Theodora from the brothel" because of the stories that have been told about her life as a child actor and prostitute before she met Justinian, who was then heir to the throne of the Byzantine Empire. "Justinian wanted to wed immediately, but as heir, he was forbidden to marry an actress, even one who had reformed," according to the Brooklyn Museum. "Justinian had this law repealed the following year, and the two were married in 525." She is famous for presiding over the restoration of Constantinople's famous Hagia Sophia cathedral and for helping compile the paper On Pimpsan analysis that led to a ban on forced prostitution.

Comment

5 Practical Relationship Tips

Comment

5 Practical Relationship Tips

IMG_2430.JPG

Listen More than you Talk: 

Often times we are so busy trying to get our point across to our mate we fail to hear what they are saying. This is not a race to the finish line of who is "correct," but the end goal should be to seek an understanding. Then you can move forward together. 

Give more Time and Attention: 

Too often in our relationships we are all things to all people and forget about our mate in our relationship. There is an old saying, "What you don't do someone else will!" This doesn't have to be your story because you can change the narrative! WTry an evening without the Ipad or iPhone and focus on connection.  

Let's talk about Sex Baby: 

Too often in relationships we forget about sex. Now this may seem like an oxymoron. Everyone has sex....... Right? But is everyone satisfied? That's the better question. More times than not sex can become a "one way" street where one gets enjoyment and the other is marking off a check on the "to do list". Communication around sex is vital. This is often a silent killer in a relationship because people are afraid to be honest.  

IMG_2431.JPG

What do you need from me? 

Too often we get into relationships and everyone assumes a lot of things. But when is the last time you stopped and honestly asked your mate, "What do you need from me?" Times change and so do people. You can never assume that everything remains the same.  

Try Maintenance Time: 

Communication is one of the major issues in relationships. People talk to everyone but the appropriate one..... "their mate".  Maintenance Time is a concept we have developed that puts aside time to discuss how the relationship can be better. It's a "safe zone," and the goal is to have those otherwise hard to have conversations about what needs improvement in the relationship. Try Maintenance Time, your future relationship will thank you. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Need Help Planning the perfect date night?   Try Maintenance Time Planners (MTP). This is an event planning service that takes the guess work out of planning that unforgettable event or night for your special someone. LEARN MORE 

 

Comment

I Had My Friends Get Brutally Honest About My Interracial Relationship

Comment

I Had My Friends Get Brutally Honest About My Interracial Relationship

We value the opinions of our friends and family because their involvement in our lives is crucial to how we function. Dating is already tough on its own, but the real dragon to slay is an interracial relationship. Now this isn’t to say that interracial relationships are the only “hard” type of relationship, but if you’ve ever been in one, you know it comes with a tad more hurdles to jump over.

Read more: http://elitedaily.com/dating/friends-get-brutally-honest-interracial-relationship/1811234/
Follow us on Instagram | Elite Daily on Facebook

Comment

Sexual Assault Awareness Day of Action

Comment

Sexual Assault Awareness Day of Action

uesday, April 7, 2015

This nationally recognized day provides an opportunity for prevention advocates to engage with their communities.  Plan or support a SAAM event in your community on April 1, and keep the conversation going all month long on NSVRC social networking sites.

SAAM Day of Action

The SAAM Day of Action will be observed on Tuesday, April 7, 2015.  This is nationally recognized in the United States as a specific day to focus awareness on sexual violence prevention. Through coordinated planning of special events, advocates can raise awareness, media attention and national momentum for ending and preventing sexual violence. 

Use SAAM campaign materials and resources for ideas on how to observe this day in your community. Check out our  Event planning guideSocial media toolkit, and How to create a campaign

Comment

NEW SERIES ALERT: Conversations

Comment

NEW SERIES ALERT: Conversations

Conversations is here!!!!!!!!!!! This highly anticipated series hosted by: David L. Massey is the new place to be on www.davidandjohnny.org  This is "The place for Real Dialogue!" David dives into those sometimes uncomfortable "Conversations" and provides a unique outlook. The series is exclusively available for members of David & Johnny's site! Check out the trailer below:

 

Learn More about David & Johnny Membership to access this series and so many other wonderful videos.  

Comment

Young 22 (AKA 22 Savage) "Relationships" Video

Comment

Young 22 (AKA 22 Savage) "Relationships" Video

Young 22 comes through with "Relationships."

He might no longer be named 22 Savage, but the artist currently known as Young 22 can still make a mean clip. Coming through with the visuals for "Relationships," the rapper does justice for his standout Nothing 2 Life 4 track.

We get to see a softer side of 22 with this release, letting us know the stresses of being in love among other things. It's a message that more of his fans can relate to, and might hook a larger audience.

Take a look at "Relationships," and let us know your thoughts in the comments. Is this the right direction for the artist formerly known as 22 Savage?

By: Zakk Feig

Comment

Are You Your Family History? Advice For Creating Healthy Relationships

Comment

Are You Your Family History? Advice For Creating Healthy Relationships

By: Michael Mamas

We’ve all heard it before: “I can’t believe I married my father!” (or mother). In a sense, it could be argued that we all are in relationships with our father or mother. But what do we mean by that?

We form our notions of a partner based upon our childhood family structure. Those notions run far more deeply than we can imagine. We are drawn to what is familiar. For that reason, we tend to gravitate towards people who have the characteristics of a parent. But perhaps even more so, we push our partner into that role. We subconsciously expect them to act a certain way, and we accommodate, support, and enable that behavior. 

Certainly, there are parts of our childhood family dynamic that we like and parts that we dislike. We are not nearly as capable of detaching ourselves from our heritage as we may like to believe. It is all too ingrained. Instead of denying that it’s true, we do better to acknowledge the truth and find ways to work with it constructively. 

There are aspects of our family heritage that we love and that are supportive to our lives. This can include positive qualities of our father, mother, or siblings. Our father may have been very loving and family oriented, for example. Our mother may have been understanding and patient. We do well to embrace these attributes and enjoy them. These good qualities can be passed down through the generations as they are ingrained on a cellular level. 

We also need to acknowledge and work with the qualities of our heritage that we feel are unhealthy or inappropriate. We need to see how we may recreate our childhood family dynamics through falling into an old role or pushing our partner into a certain way of behaving. Working with these issues is not an easy thing to do. One of our parents may have been controlling or needy. Perhaps they were angry and abusive. Very few people understand that they push their partner into being their mother or father. But for the dynamic to heal, it must be perceived and our part in it must be recognized. Such self-honesty is a challenge. When a particular situation happens and we observe a behavior of our spouse that reminds us of our parent, we might do well to ask ourselves how we enable, invite, or encourage the behavior. 

The simple truth is we are largely a product of our heritage. To completely extract ourselves from it is not realistic. However, we can be discerning and nurture the attributes we love and that provide support our lives. We can use these positive traits to help cultivate a relationship that is fulfilling. 

The bottom line is that we do well to acknowledge and embrace the aspects of our family heritage that are of value, and build upon them. At the same time, we can acknowledge the detrimental qualities so we don’t fall into their trap and, meanwhile, work to heal them. Ideally, we support our partner in this process without blame, without judgment, and hold the relationship as a union of the best of both heritages.

Follow Michael Mamas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/michaelmamas

Comment