Matters of the Heart
Valerie Doyle, MA Marriage & Family Therapist  #53102
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Matters of the Heart

Getting Past the Affair

by Valerie Doyle on 02/22/15

At the heart of recovering is the need to look closely at your relationship, at things that were happening outside your relationship, at your partner and even yourself if you want to get complete answers.  You are not responsible for your partners infidelity, but its important to find out whether you contributed to an environment  ripe for an affair. 

There are three critical tasks:

  •  Find ways to manage and minimize the painful emotions.                              
  • Come to understand how the affair came about.                                              
  •  Reach an explicit, informed decision about how to move forward.

One of the couples goals is to re-establish, and in some cases establish,  the emotional security that is critical and essential for an intimate relationship.

Seven Signs of Relationship Trouble & their Solutions

by Valerie Doyle on 11/16/14

Here is the list of the seven most damaging intimate relationships’ troubles and their solutions:
1. Inability to be emotionally open; the uniqueness and secret of intimate relationships in comparison to other social, workplace and family relationships is in staying emotionally open. By exercising daily confiding with each other, couples learn to become emotionally open towards each other.


2. Lack of physical closeness and signs of affection may starve the relationship. It is not easy to undo the pain, shame and hurts of the past. Learn to be affectionate. Do it for the sake of this relationship.


3. Not paying attention while listening: you might be listening to each other, even giving the right cues as in ‘active listening’. But do you get the meaning of each other’s message without the attempt to ‘solve’ the problem? Don’t solve each other’s problems. Share the gift of listening. Being heard is a treasure!


4. Difficulty articulating what you feel; many adults don’t know to express what they feel. Instead, you communicate what you think. Learning about emotions and their logic is valuable to every intimate relationship. Taking a risk to expose your accurate feelings in your relationship is a wise investment. As the relationship grows and thrives, that risk of exposure becomes safe.


5. Anger, fear, shame and other pains block the passages to feel tenderness, joy and love. Those painful emotions are not bad; they are information that should be shared so that your love will surface again.


6. Power struggles on sex, money, children, free time, relatives or friends are all signs of other issues surfacing in the relationships. Learn to decode these symptoms and see the meaning beneath the issues.


7. Contempt and its expressions are the ‘deadliest sin’ of all troubled relationships. This will take a bit longer to solve; I suggest treating this symptom deeper as in a ‘root canal’. Find the roots of those feelings of contempt or they’ll destroy your intimate relationship. It is challenging to get your intimate relationship out of trouble. The effort is worth it; as your intimate relationship is the most important investment of your time energy and endeavor.

How to reconnect after a difficult & challenging conversation

by Valerie Doyle on 10/28/14

Step One of Five:  You must wait until you are both calm.  Keep in mind that the Goal is greater understanding.  Each of your realities has validity.  Do not focus on "the facts."  Pay attention to the common barriers to communication:  Stop the "Four Horsemen" and use their antidotes:  Instead of Criticism, use a gentle start-up or make a request, Instead of being defensive, take responsibility for how you are feeling, Instead of Contempt ("I'm better than you" comments), build a culture of appreciation, Instead of Stonewalling, self-sooth.  Step One:  Share only how you felt.  Do not say why you felt that way.  Avoid commenting on your partner's feelings.   Source:  The Gottman Institute