Relationship difficulties

“Love relationships or lack there of are often the precursors for people to seek out therapy. If you are having a hard time making a relationship work or seem to repeat the same pattern over and over again with different partners, therapy might have some answers for you.”

Excerpt from “Are you a relationship butterfly”
Mental  Health Digest, August 2014
by Mihaela Bernard, MA, LCPC 

Relationships play a big role in our lives and navigating through them can be challenging at times. Some common relationship difficulties that people experience and may address in therapy include:

  • Difficulties forming and maintaining relationships
  • Promiscuity
  • Sexual struggles
  • Attachment difficulties
  • Discord with family members
  • Marital discord
  • Divorce
  • Difficulties with trust

4 Signs that Your Are in an Abusive Relationship


Wondering whether you and your partner fight too much?

What’s normal and what’s abusive in a relationship? When we are in love, sometimes it’s hard to look at our relationship with an objective eye. We tend to find excuses for past behaviors and focus on the future with a hopeful, optimistic look: “It will never happen again; this was just a mishap.”

Unfortunately, when it comes to domestic violence and physical abuse, if s/he hits you once, s/he’ll hit you again. How do you know if the last argument you had with your partner has crossed the boundary between angry and abusive?

Psychoanalysis looks at abuse and abusive relationships with an eye of understanding, yet a sigh of shared pain and suffering. Listening to my patients’ stories about growing up in abusive households brings me to tears so the least I can do is share with you my knowledge on how to recognize the signs of abuse and hopefully give you strength to leave and prevent the trauma that comes along with it.

Here are four clear signs that point to an abusive relationship:

Sign #1. Anger and Violence. When arguments become frequent and quickly escalate into physical fights, hitting or throwing of objects, you know things have gone wrong. Emotional abuse is much harder to pinpoint but any type of physical intimidation, violence, threats and scare tactics signal you that your safety is at jeopardy and that you are not in a healthy, loving relationship.

Sign #2. Loneliness and Isolation. Your social circle has become limited to your partner and immediate family if that. Mostly, it seems like everything revolves around being with your partner and your children (if you have them). Your family barely sees you anymore and a night out with friends seems like a luxurious celebration. Trying to isolate you from your support system is a typical tactic of the abusive partner, who wants to control every aspect of your life, body and mind.

Sign #3. Fear and Anxiety. Feeling scared or anxious to please your partner is one of the signs that you are not feeling safe in your relationship, and that you are trying to minimize the outburst of anger and violence. Do you feel like you are walking on egg shells all the time? Do you find yourself blaming yourself or your actions for the violence and anxiously attempt to correct them in order to please? If so, chances are, you are in an abusive relationship and it’s time to get out.

Sign #4. Dependence and Control. If you feel like you depend on your partner financially, emotionally or otherwise, then s/he has a certain control over you and your decisions. Naturally, the abusive partner tries to exert his/her power and to control your life, thoughts and feelings by making you dependent and vulnerable to his will. If you feel like you are no longer in charge of your own path in life, your romantic life has probably taken a wrong turn.

Still wondering whether you are in an abusive relationship? Remember, safety comes first so if you feel unsafe in your own home with the person, who is supposed to love and care for you, you are not in a healthy relationship. Time to do something about it…
Find this article helpful? For more articles on common mental health issues affecting you and your family, plus some suggestions on how to address subscribe to Mental Health Digest and get the latest issue emailed to you today by leaving your name and email address in the contact form here.

7 Secrets to a Happy, Long-Term Relationship: How to Keep the Flame Burning


As time goes by in a relationship, the initial excitement of getting to know somebody, falling in love with them and feeling those butterflies in your stomach every time you see or touch them taper off.

Usually, somewhere between the first one to three years into a relationship, we start to settle in and what once felt like a magical, blissful state of enchantment turns into a more comfortable, relaxed and homey feeling of being together.

But how do we maintain that initial flame, that passion and excitement that drew us into our partner in the first place once the knot is tied and we are living our happily ever after?

Secret #1: Take care of yourself 

Taking care of your body and mind is probably the best way to sustain a happy and fulfilling relationship – if you don’t feel good about the way you look and feel, you can’t really expect to feel good in a relationship either. Often, once we feel at ease with our partner, we forget to walk that extra mile and put our best selves forward. But it is important that you pay attention to your attractive self both for your own and for your partner’s sake.

Secret #2: Don’t take each other for granted: One of the most exciting feelings when starting a new relationship is the experience of being idealized, adored and valued by another for who you are and what you do. We sometimes forget to show our partners how much we appreciate them and how important they are to us, especially after we’ve been together for awhile. Don’t take your partner for granted and show them how much s/he means to you. We all need some special attention every once in awhile.

Secret #3: Be spontaneous and break away from the routines: Another exciting part of being in a new relationship that tends to dissipate as the years go by is the sense of spontaneity and novelty that comes with getting to know someone for the first time. Make some room to get to know your partner in a different light, try new activities or places and challenge yourself to break away from the comfortable and familiar routine – be spontaneous, surprise each other.

Secret #4: Have sex more often and experiment:  Sex is like a drug – the more you have it, the more you want to have it; the more you get of the same dose, the more tolerant you get to it. Mixing things up and allowing room for spontaneity and improvisation keeps things interesting, especially when you know and trust each other.

Secret #5: Make time for just the two of you as in the good old days: 

This goes without saying but I am going to say it anyway: go out on dates and vacations just the two of you, especially if you have kids and us now equals you two plus the kids and the pets.

Secret #6: Have some alone time  Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your relationship is to leave it for a few hours and spend some time alone. Having your own space, hobby and interests is essential.

Secret #7: Surround yourself with other happy couples and spend time with friends: Spending time with friends, who share similar circumstances and values brings fresh energy and laughs into your home, much needed when you plan on happily ever after.

For more articles on common mental health issues, affecting you and your family, subscribe to Mental Health Digest and get the latest issue emailed to you today by leaving your name and email address in the contact form here.

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