My Recent Interview With Decodinghim.com On Empowering Women

Interview with Carolyn Tucker

 1. Carolyn, sometimes women enter into a relationship with the expectation of finding happiness from the relationship and their partner. They are genuinely not happy and satisfied with their individual life and have this mindset- “If only I find the right partner, my life will be so much more better and I will be happy.” How important is it for women to be have a happy, fulfilling lives regardless of whether they are in a relationship or not?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if happiness only required plugging in a partner? Unfortunately, we cannot look to externals to provide happiness for us, and frequently we miss out on life while we are waiting for that partner to come along and provide for our happiness. As John Lennon said in his song Beautiful Boy, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

Women who spend all of their time waiting to become happy are not putting their best foot forward towards getting what they want. According to the Law of Attraction, in order to attract a vital, exciting, fulfilling relationship, you need to be living a vibrant, exciting and fulfilling life. There is nothing more attractive to a man than a woman who is bursting with love for her life. On the flip side, no man is longing to be in a relationship with a woman who has no interests and who waits for him to make her happy. It is a lot of responsibility to be accountable for the happiness of another.

A woman who is willing to go out and seize the day, to grab life by the horns and to drink from it fully until that right partner comes along will find that the time passes much quicker, her friendships, work and hobbies are more gratifying and that she attracts fun and exciting opportunities to herself whether she has a partner or not.

2. Sometimes women are very successful professionally but feel the exact opposite when it comes to their personal life especially relationships. In other words, they have an entirely different vibe in their careers where they are appreciated, respected, considered smart and successful, but somehow cannot seem to translate that vibe into their personal relationships. Why does this happen and what can women do to overcome this problem?

Every day I see women who are smart and competent in their careers, who admit to feeling unappreciated and disrespected in their relationships. I believe this has several contributing factors. Often in our society women are raised to feel that they are not complete without a man, and that they must compromise themselves to have a successful relationship. Many women feel guilty being successful and compensate by accepting treatment and behavior that would otherwise be considered unacceptable, or by making themselves “smaller” at home.

In my practice I address this by helping women step into their power in relationships as well as their careers. I do this by helping them learn to value their contributions and to own their gifts and abilities without fear of rejection or repercussion. This does not mean creating women who are aggressive, abrasive or masculine in their energy, however. This means truly looking at the feminine archetypes of the maiden, the mother and the crone and grasping a full appreciation of the ages and stages of a woman’s life and the power and gifts that come with each. I encourage my clients to find role models of women living in their power to associate with and to develop a support network of strong, encouraging women to assist them on their journeys.

Stepping into their power can be a very exciting process for a woman and can be invigorating to their relationships if done in a manner that is gentle and respectful of the relationship. Many women report an increase in their partner’s interest in them physically when they begin the journey of infusing their lives with this energy.

3. Can you elaborate on what you mean by stepping into power in relationships and how can women go about doing it in a manner that doesn’t come across hostile, aggressive and defensive?

Certainly! I believe that women do not realize the power they have, and that this is the cause of many of the problems of creating the life and relationships they want. By stepping into their power, I mean acknowledging their feminine, creative potential, and having a respect and reverence for it. When a woman is able to take herself seriously, speak her truth without apologizing, to express herself authentically without making herself small and to expect to be treated by all people as equal by virtue of her status as feminine, intelligent and competent then she has stepped into her power.

What many women fail to recognize is that they can be both soft and powerful at the same time. The men that I work with want a woman who knows her worth. The very act of acknowledging her worth increases her “stock value” in her man’s eyes. This is true in the workplace and in the bedroom. Men express a desire for their women to feel confident in their bodies whether they are perfect or not. The mere act of self- confidence is an aphrodisiac. When women realize and embrace this then they will realize their power in their relationships.

4. Can you explain the difference between masculine and feminine energy? How can women know that they are projecting more masculine energy and what are some ways they can transform it to feminine energy?

We all have a combination of masculine and feminine energies, and the key is making sure that we are in balance and harmony in the expression of them. Masculine energy is linear, goal oriented and mental focused. It is about “doing” and “accomplishing”. Feminine energy is more centered on creativity, nurturing, concern with feelings and emotions and intuition. Many times growing up, feminine energy is pushed to the back burner in school, with focus on concrete concepts, goals and performance. A little girl may be made to feel that she is “difficult” or “demanding” when she expresses her feelings, especially if the feelings are about her needs not being met. This dynamic is present from playground to boardroom.

Many women learn to sublimate their feelings and needs, and to express themselves in more concrete, masculine terms. In doing so, they also learn to suppress one of their most valuable assets, their intuition. Intuition for a woman is a built in GPS system that is designed to help her navigate relationships of all kinds. When she loses touch with that ability, she loses knowledge of how she comes across to people, and may not even realize that she is displaying more of a masculine energy.

Displaying feminine energy does not mean that a woman needs to “dumb herself down,” it is simply plugging into a different kind of intelligence. Feminine energy is the slow and steady, designed to be receptive, instinctual and empathetic. Our society has traditionally not valued this kind of intelligence, though there is currently a swing back in the direction of respect for these traits.

If a woman is too heavily weighted towards her feminine energy she may have trouble setting boundaries and standing up for herself. She may have trouble initiating a project and completing it. If she is too heavily weighted towards her masculine energy she may not feel comfortable discussing emotions, being receptive (either emotionally or physically in intercourse). Achieving balance is in order.

I try to assist my women clients in slowing down if they are living too much in their masculine energy. I encourage them to stop looking at the goal and to start looking at the process. Sometimes finding a creative expression such as journaling, creating some kind of artwork or even yoga or meditation can help them get in tune with their creativity, their bodies and their emotions.

5. Some women repeatedly attract the wrong men in their relationships. Can you explain why this happens and what women can do to overcome this problem?

I frequently have women clients who report that they attract the wrong men. I believe that is because they hold thoughts and beliefs that keep them repeating the same patterns in their lives. These beliefs could stem from childhood messages or from past relationships. These women benefit from therapy that examines the thoughts and beliefs and looks at the patterns repeated in their lives. Once these women gain insight and are able to reframe and reprocess these thoughts they find that they attract and are attracted to men and relationships that are healthier.

6. Some of our women subscribers have expressed that they have this deep inner fear that they would be single and miserable all their life. In the process they feel that they settle for someone who they truly believe is not a good choice for them but still pursue the relationship because they are afraid of being alone. Can you talk about how women can overcome this problem?

I see many women who would rather settle than deal with the ambiguity of not knowing if a good relationship is going to come along. The fear of being alone is greater than the desire for a relationship in which they thrive. I think that helping these women learn to address the anxiety of being alone is the best way to address this issue. Creating a life that is full and rewarding helps lessen the anxiety of not having a relationship. It has the added benefit of creating a life that is attractive and that draws people into her orbit. I find that a woman who is living a life that includes self-care, a strong pro-social network, and who is growing and learning is less apt to settle for anything in life.

7. While every relationship has its challenges and share of conflicts, at what point is it better for women to leave the relationship than work on it?

What a great question! I think it is easy to give advice for a woman to leave a relationship that has challenges and conflict, and very difficult for a woman to do it. Once a woman has given of herself and invested emotionally in a relationship, it is difficult to walk away. I think that knowing when to place appropriate boundaries regarding how much conflict or challenge is healthy is important. A trusted friend or therapist who can view the relationship without his or her own agenda is helpful in getting feedback on when to walk away.

Frequently outsiders are quick to say it’s time to call it quits when they do not have a deep understanding of the investment in the relationship. I also think that there is an element of knowing when one has reached the end of the journey that comes into play. I think that healthy women know instinctively when they are “done.” It almost seems that until a woman reaches that point it is very difficult to call it quits without regrets or revisiting the relationship over and over. Again, a trusted friend or therapist can help a woman obtain perspective on what the relationship is costing her and help her weigh the “cost to benefit” ratio of whether she is getting the appropriate emotional return on the relationship or not. If she is paying for being in the relationship by losing self-esteem then it is time to revisit the situation.

8. Can you provide some practical strategies that can help women who have a tendency to constantly compare themselves with others with regards to height, weight and physical appearance? They may feel they are not beautiful enough or slim enough or worthy enough as they make these comparisons with their friends, peers and family members.

Women who constantly compare themselves with others usually suffer from poor self-esteem. I advise using positive affirmations to address the negative thoughts they believe about themselves. Positive affirmations can actually change how our brains work. Affirmations like “I am unique and beautiful in my own way” repeated many times throughout the day can change that negative self talk. I recommend my clients set alarms on their cell phones that will remind them to repeat certain affirmations throughout the day. Making lists of things they love about themselves is another way to begin to change the need to compare.

In the beginning some women find it hard to find even one thing that they value in themselves. I find that the more these women institute a good regime of self care the more they learn to find things they value in themselves. The mere time spent lovingly lavishing lotion on the body can help a woman come to love each body part. Affirmations of “I love my legs, they are strong and beautiful and carry me through the journey of life.” Self-care encourages self love.

Learning to sit with the anxiety of not “being enough” can allow a woman precious moments to gather inner resources and to remember the positive things about herself. Getting grounded and centered by using deep breathing and paying attention to bodily sensations can help. “I feel the floor under my feet. I feel the cool air in the room. I hear the drum beat in the music.” Getting grounded and then going over the list of her own positive attributes in her mind can help a woman get off the hamster wheel of rumination and comparing.

9. Another question we get asked is about taking control of the relationship. I think there is a misconception that being demanding or nagging or controlling are the ways to show you have the power and upper hand in the relationship. Can you explain in detail what being in control of the relationship means and what are some ways women can regain control in relationships where they feel they don’t have control?

Control is such an illusion. We women fool ourselves into thinking if we nag enough we will be able to control out partner. Exactly the opposite is true. From a behaviorist perspective it takes ten positive strokes to make up for one nag or criticism. Therefore, if we are not giving ten times more positive strokes we are demotivating our partner, and may be having exactly the opposite effect of what we wish for. Encouragement and praise, and catching our partner doing “right” can go far in helping our partner be the best they can be and also encourage connection and closeness in the relationship.

Women can have control of one thing only in a relationship, themselves. This is immensely powerful if they choose to remember it. Control of one’s own reactions and responses can affect the reaction and response of the partner. It can also serve to help the woman manage her own anxiety. Believing that we can control a situation or a person is a big responsibility and can be anxiety producing in itself. Being realistic about one’s own sphere of influence is a valuable tool in knowing what one can control.

10. Experts say that the best relationship you can have in your relationship with yourself. Sometimes in this fast paced mechanical world, it is easy to place everyone’s interests above ours and women are especially likely to do this. How can women consciously and continuously nourish themselves irrespective of whether they are single or in a relationship?

A friend shared an idea with me recently that has changed my life and the lives of many of my clients. She said to me one day, “I am going to treat myself like I would a man I was in love with.” So simple. So profound. I began to toy with the idea of what would happen if we turned that tender, loving energy that we would give a lover, inward, on ourselves.

What if we began to notice the little things that bring ourselves joy, and to do them as a gift to our lover-self? What if we made time to do the things that nurture our spirit as an act of pouring love on ourselves? How about speaking those little words of affirmation and support in an intimate whisper when we need to hear them most? Or looking deep into our own eyes and forgiving ourselves for not being perfect, embracing the broken pieces, just like we would the “other” in a relationship? Even the way we relate to our own bodies could change if we learned to accept and embrace them lovingly.

I began sharing this philosophy with my clients and they reported back with tears of fragile hope that poured down their faces when they looked themselves tenderly in the mirror and said, “I love you.” One client stated that he realized that he would never use the kind of talk or tone with a lover that he used with himself on a daily basis, and he began to change that negative internal dialogue. Another reported that her relationship was improving because she was displaying better boundaries with her spouse, spurred by her newly cultivated loving relationship with herself. Yet another reported that during his daily meditation time he focused that loving energy inward, and that it was a sacred experience for him to sit daily in the presence of that unconditional love.

About Carolyn Tucker

Carolyn is a National Board Certified psychotherapist, certified life coach and energy healer, is a graduate of Argosy University, and a former Harvard research assistant. She specializes in divorce issues, trauma and anxiety. Carolyn works with a broad spectrum of clients. Among her areas of expertise are relationship issues, pre and post divorce issues and custody communication, trauma, anxiety, and gay and lesbian relationship issues.

She uses a unique blend of mind/body interventions, coaching, energy medicine and extensive traditional therapy modalities. She is distance counseling certified and offers Skype, email and chat counseling and coaching for your ease and convenience.

Carolyn is a person-centered therapist. Her therapeutic approach is to provide support and practical feedback to help clients effectively address personal life challenges. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client.

With compassion and understanding, she works with each individual to help them build on their strengths and attain the personal growth they are committed to accomplishing. Carolyn is known for her warmth and nurturing support as well as her extensive training.

To know more about Carolyn Tucker, visit her website, www.carolyntuckertherapist.com or call her at 770-789-0847.

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5 Reasons Why it is Better To Make a New Year’s Bucket List Than New Year’s Resolutions

Let’s face it, New Year’s Resolutions are a cruel taskmaster. They are just an opportunity to put ourselves on the line one more time and then to guilt ourselves for not following through. I propose that it is better and more effective to make a bucket list at new year’s rather than a list of resolutions. Living our lives as though this year may be our last has many advantages:
1. It is more fun. Electing to “spend one full week with my toes in the sand on a sunny beach somewhere that I have never been” feels a lot more fun than “I will keep my papers organized for my taxes.” Having the added incentive of a reward like a trip to a sunny beach may actually CAUSE you to keep your papers organized so that you are assured of the tax refund that will fund the trip.
2. A bucket list helps you focus on TRUE goals. By really looking at your life as if this year will be your last you are able to clarify what your true goals are, the goals that are lined up with what you believe your soul’s purpose to be. “I intend to spend time daily this year looking deeply into my children’s eyes and sharing authentically from my heart” may not jive as a good resolution but may resonate with your truth when you put it on your bucket list.
3. It feels much more motivating. Example: “I will lose 25 pounds this year” feels like a ball and chain around the leg, doesn’t it? Visions of carrots and celery stretching out before you for 365 days smacks of deprivation and loss. “I will give myself the opportunity to experience life 25 pounds lighter” feels like a gift you are giving yourself. You can practically feel the pounds melting away as your body and mind slip into alignment with this thought.
4. You are more apt to actually follow through on your bucket list than you are on a resolution. When you see your life defined in blocks of 365 days that you will never have the opportunity to live again, you are more inclined to follow through with every exciting possibility. Seeing life as fleeting and temporary gives us a wonderful sense of joyful urgency to grab all of the joy we can while we have time.
5. It keeps you from self sabotage to have a bucket list instead of resolutions. Year after year I hear people beat themselves up about their resolutions and how they failed to keep them. It is a self defeating prophesy for some people to set a goal that is too high, fail to meet the goal and then allow it to reinforce that they are “losers” in their own minds. Our thoughts about ourselves have a direct effect on our moods, our self esteem and our actions. Choosing to give ourselves incentives rather than directives is one way to help minimize the “inner critic” and lessen his effect on ourselves.

Sit down this new year’s and make your bucket list. Really look at it as if this year may be your last. Imagine what it would be like if, at the end of your life, you looked back and felt that you had done everything you truly wanted to do. Imagine the legacy you could leave behind to your family, setting the example of allowing each day to count, making each day vital towards accomplishing all the special and magical things you could dream of in your life.bucket

Loving Pain

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” Mother Teresa

Many situations in life cause pain. Scorching , excruciating, soul-searing pain. It can come out of nowhere, your lover leaves, you lose your baby, cancer. All destined to turn your world on its ear and to leave you with deep, abiding pain. Alice Cooper described it as feeling like “the man with no skin.” Sleep is evasive, being awake is intolerable, and it feels there is no escape. The only thing that is for sure is that it feels like it will never end.

The more we struggle against this psychic pain, the more difficult it is on us. Like having our wrists bound with barbed wire, the struggle drives the barbs deeper and deeper. The saying goes “what we resist, persists.” There is relief to be had from the pain, but the remedy sounds too radical to be real, too dangerous to risk trying. Believe it or not, love is the cure, because only love heals pain.

There is a point, when you have fought all you can fight, resisted with all your might, and finally have come to the end of your strength, where something amazing can occur. You see, at the end of you lies a miracle, where only the brave dare to tread. It is a place so terrifying, so beautiful, so radical, that I hesitate to direct you there, lest you fear I have lost my mind.

When you’re finished being pissed off, finished fighting, finished trying to create a different outcome by manipulating the world like a Rubik’s Cube, a phenomenon occurs that feels much like what J.M. Barrie describes in his book Peter Pan.  “When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”    When you let go of attachment to “what should have been”, and you roll over in acceptance, you will find that your ego shatters into a million tiny little pieces, and that an ocean of bright, beautiful love comes from your soul, radiating out in a tsunami so violent that it threatens to flood the world. Then you can love your pain.

Yes, I am suggesting loving cancer, and loving loss and loving grief. You see, as terrible as they are, they are your tutors that bring you to this beautiful land of love. They are the signposts on the path to a love so satisfying that it feels like you have transcended this world and have been transported to the next.  This journey is not for the feint of heart, but if you want to weep with joy at the beauty of a sunset, or be brought to your knees by the sound of a bird singing, this is the path for you. It’s only a simple shift. Just roll over from the fighting, the anger, the fear, and decide to love.

By giving up, you save yourself. As Antoine St. Exupery  said, “A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” The journey is not pleasant, few would choose to begin, knowing the cost on the road, but the destination is surely splendid.

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How to Parent in a Crazy, Scary, Mixed Up World

Receiving the news about the Connecticut school shooting this week was bone chilling and heartbreaking. Parents everywhere ran to hug their own children while feeling grief and pain for the parents of the school children, myself included. The world does not feel like a safe place when we cannot even expect that our elementary school aged children to be safe receiving an education.

It is overwhelming to add another fear to the anxious mix that parenting brings. How can you focus on doing work during the day when your mind reverberates with news stories of small children brutally murdered? Especially when your own children are in a classroom very similar to the one these dear babies were in.  It can feel like the world is closing in on you, and like there are threats everywhere if you allow your thoughts to have their way.

In order to regulate your emotions, I urge you to notice when your thoughts wander towards “rehearsing” a stressful scenario in your mind. When you play the movie of all the horrible things that could possibly happen in your mind, it affects your body as well. The anxious thoughts trigger a hormonal cascade that can serve to put you on “high alert”, inducing a state of hypervigilence that can be very uncomfortable, not to mention bad for your body. Being in this state is like idling a car on high for long periods of time. It depletes your adrenal glands and leaves you exhausted. Thought stopping is a technique that can be helpful with this. Every time you notice an anxious thought, use it as a signal to name three things you are grateful for, immediately converting that energy of anxiety, to a higher vibrational energy of appreciation. Learning to stop these thoughts is a discipline, but it is worth the effort.

Practicing mindfulness is beneficial, especially during times of uncertainty. Focusing on the moment, being really present with your children, is the path to mindfulness. If you find you are feeling anxious, really focus on their faces, as if you were seeing them for the first time. Look deeply into their eyes, and notice how beautiful they are, looking at their eyelashes one by one. Really tune in to their voices and notice the cadence and intonation. Pay attention to how your body feels in their presence. Breathe.

Your children feed on your energy, so at stressful and tragic times like this, it is important for you to take care of yourself emotionally so you do not inadvertently give off any messages that your children are not safe that may cause them to fear. It is the temptation to ignore the children while watching the news and to have conversations in front of them that may be anxiety producing . Making sure that your children are not exposed to a constant influx of traumatic images coming into your home via the television or radio  or conversations about the news stories is one way you can protect them. Having other adults to discuss your feelings with about the tragedy outside of your children’s presence can go a long way towards helping you maintain emotional regulation in the presence of your children and protecting them from adopting your anxiety and pain vicariously.

Reassure your children that they are loved and that you would do anything to keep them safe. They need to hear these words in uncertain times. They may also need to understand and grieve, just like you. Playing a game where you start by asking them to draw pictures of ordinary things and life events, eventually allowing them eventually draw pictures of what they have heard or seen can help them process their feelings.

Watch your children for signs of trauma, such as manic activity followed by periods of sitting and staring into space. If you notice nightmares or unrealistic or unfounded fears, talk to your child, if they do not subside, then seek a qualified mental health professional to assist your child in processing the trauma.

Talk to your children about what happened, reframing the events to help them see that there is still good amidst the evil. I love the precious words of Fred Rogers, who touched on the topic of tragic events in the news in his book “The Mister Rogers Parenting Book,” the last book he worked on before he died in 2003. In fact, his own mother’s words helped him make some sense of tragic events.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,'” he wrote. “To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

I would like to leave you with some more wisdom from Mr. Rogers:

Even if we wanted to, it would be impossible to give our children all the reasons for such things as war, terrorists, abuse, murders, major fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes. If they ask questions, our best answer may be to ask them, “What do you think happened?” If the answer is “I don’t know,” then the simplest reply might be something like, “I’m sad about the news, and I’m worried. But I love you, and I’m here to care for you.”

 

If we don’t let children know it’s okay to feel sad and scared, they may think something is wrong with them when they do feel that way. They certainly don’t need to hear all the details of what’s making us sad or scared, but if we can help them accept their own feelings as natural and normal, their feelings will be much more manageable for them.

 

Angry feelings are part of being human, especially when we feel powerless. One of the most important messages we can give our children is, “It’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to hurt ourselves or others.” Besides giving children the right to their anger, we can help them find constructive things to do with their feelings. This way, we’ll be giving them useful tools that will serve them all their life, and help them to become the worlds’ future peacemakers — the world’s future “helpers.”

Carolyn Tucker is a psychotherapist in Atlanta, Buckhead and Conyers who specializes in anxiety and divorce issues. For more information call 770-789-0847 or see www.carolyntuckertherapist.com.school shootingth

My Recent Interview: What Your Choices Are if You Believe Your Partner Has Been Unfaithful

Interview With Carolyn Tucker

By: infidelityinfo.com

December 4, 2012 By Leave a Comment

Q1. When someone suspects their partner or spouse is having an affair, what should they do? Should they confront them without having the proof or should they confront only after having the evidence?

I would suggest if someone suspects their partner or spouse is having an affair that they check in with themselves first. We all have natural intuition, the “red flag” feeling, and in this situation they really need to tune in to that feeling. It is important to remember what it felt like when they “just knew” someone was lying to them, or when they continued to probe something because “it just didn’t feel right.”

The reason I say this is because going into a situation where they feel someone may not be honest with them or might be deceiving them, they need their internal guidance system on “all systems go!”

They should step back for a while and watch for when the red flag feeling comes up and see if there is a pattern. This will lead them to all of the information they need to know. Breathing, getting centered and grounded and tuning in to intuition is definitely the wisest first move.

Q2. What do you suggest someone do when they see the red-flags and their natural intuition says something is wrong?

At this point I suggest that they get centered and notice what has changed.

  • Has their partner stopped seeking them out to spend time with them?
  • Has the partner begun spending more time away from home than is normal or are they away at odd hours?
  • Are they more secretive than usual?
  • Is the partner more attached to their phone or computer than normal or more secretive with it?
  • Is the partner responding to them differently physically?
  • Does the partner look them in the eye?

Many clients report that when their partner was being unfaithful that there was little eye contact. Does the partner still kiss them? The intimacy of kissing can be difficult to handle for someone who is being untrue.

These can all be soft signs that something may be going on. By noticing the things that have changed, it gives them an opportunity to really focus on the relationship as well. Looking closely at the relationship is important at this point because it may be that they themselves see something that has not been fulfilling or that is missing for them as well.

Becoming curious instead of angry or paranoid is the most helpful thing to do at this point. Choosing not to jump to conclusions right away gives them time to rationally and intuitively prepare for the eventual conversation that will occur.

Q3. So essentially, you are advising caution and giving their partner the benefit of doubt. At what point do you suggest someone have the conversation and should it be a conversation or a confrontation?

I am totally advising giving the partner the benefit of the doubt. Becoming curious instead of angry or paranoid has a benefit. It allows you to look at the situation without judgement. I have had clients who observed the relation up until this point in our process and discovered that they were not actually even happy in the relationship as it had existed for awhile.

This is important information! Becoming intentional about what you want at this point is key. After looking at the relationship with curious eyes, how does it look? Is it healthy? Is it fulfilling? Are there things that need to change? Are there things that are particularly good? All of this information will be important to bring into the conversation.

Having a frank conversation with yourself about what you expect from the conversation is important at this point. I know you are anxious to get to the conversation, but restraint and intention will allow a much more productive conversation.

Do you want to stay with your partner if what you suspect is true? Are you ready to walk away before you have the conversation? Your attitude going into the conversation will determine the course of the exchange. Running headlong into it will not benefit you.

I suggest that before the conversation that you attempt to get into the frame of mind where you are able to observe your partner from a place of gentleness and love. This is not easy if you are expecting to hear that they are cheating on you, but it will make all the difference in how the conversation goes and in what information you receive.

Picturing your partner as a small child who is afraid and vulnerable, or at a time when they were particularly open with you can help soften your approach. Practice assuming this soft and gentle demeanor towards your partner. The conversation depends on your ability to communicate from a place of compassion.

I do not suggest approaching the conversation attempting to find out if your partner is having an affair. I suggest a loving conversation about your own relationship with them. “I feel” statements are helpful.

Sharing with them your observations about how the relationship may have changed or things that you appreciate about the relationship is a good place to start. What you want to communicate at this point is a place of safety for your partner, combined with a loving presence.

It would be easy to run in and throw a nuclear bomb into the mix because you are hurt and angry, but this is never effective. Even if you plan to leave the relationship if there is infidelity, maintaining dignity and respect for the relationship will feel better in the long run.

Q4.  I think an important takeaway from your advice is “preparedness”- hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. So many people don’t really think through the process because they are anxious, confused, angry as a result of which they tend to have a confrontation than a conversation. I can understand why they would do that because it is so hurting and painful to think the person you trust and love the most is cheating on you.

Let me be a devil’s advocate here for a moment and ask you, is there a danger of this soft approach being taken advantage of by the suspected straying partner?

From what I hear from my readers, for the most part, the suspected straying partners almost always deny having an affair and very rarely are they willing to have this honest conversation. And to make matters worse, they get defensive and accuse their partner of cheating on them or being jealous or paranoid and controlling. What do you recommend someone do when they are trying to get to the root of the problem but have an uncooperative and hostile partner not willing to answer their questions?

Preparation for the conversation is indeed the most important thing. Know what you want and have all of the information you can gather from inside yourself so that you are able to make an informed decision.

First of all, I find that when you enter the conversation from a position that is not adversarial you tend to get more honest responses. When you do have a hostile and uncooperative partner, then knowing what you want is doubly important.

Are you willing to do the work to attempt to stay in the relationship or do you want to leave? Once you know the answers to this you can make better decisions.

I do not recommend going through their phone or their computer. Once the relationship gets to this place it is usually doomed. It is so tempting to gather information or “proof,” but you have to be prepared for the cost to the relationship and to your own self esteem if you proceed down this road.

I have had clients embark on all kinds of “protective” actions, like monitoring the phone bill or putting a keylogger on the computer. The relationships do not tend to last much longer after they reach this point because it is difficult to turn back after embarking on this surveillance journey.

Once you use these measures to feel “safe” then your partner only has to go deeper underground if they want to. It is a vicious cycle of mistrust and deceit. If you are looking at a divorce with custody issues it may be a different story, and I recommend that you follow the recommendations of your attorney in this case.

If you decide to stay in the relationship then boundaries are important. You cannot force a partner to be honest with you, but you can minimize opportunities for them to lie to you. Creating that safe environment is the most important piece to this.

Know that partners who lash back and project infidelity or lying on to you usually have something to hide. This is common in people who feel attacked, which is why I recommend a soft approach.

Practical concerns like potential STD’s are something that should be considered. Making decisions about whether a physical relationship is wise until issues are sorted out is part of the decision making process. If they persist in being angry or defensive, suggesting couple’s counseling is one course of action.

If you have decided that leaving is the best course of action for yourself, I would say that the hostile, uncooperative partner’s attitude is enough to spur you to consider whether the relationship is worthwhile. The hostile defensiveness is indicative of deep problems, whether infidelity or not. Individual counseling is a good idea to gain support in your decision making process.

I urge my clients to maintain their power at each step of decision making. You do this by making decisions based on logical, intentional, conscious information gathering, about yourself, your partner and your relationship. Following the impulse to fly off the handle and accuse only gives away your power and robs you of the opportunity to make wise decisions for yourself.

Q5. You mention, “Are you willing to do the work to attempt to stay in the relationship or do you want to leave?” I guess staying in the relationship is somewhat easier when the straying partner confesses the affair as opposed to a partner who still lies, deceives and continues having the affair.

Assuming the betrayed partner wants to save their marriage or relationship even when the straying partner has not confessed or ended the affair, what should they do- should they just wait for the affair to end its course or should they separate temporarily or should they work on themselves?

I never advise clients what to do in this case, I merely hold the space and inquire with them of their hearts and their intuition what feels right. Frequently they decide to separate in the same home or ask their partner to relocate during this process. When this is the case, I help my client do everything they can to keep their focus on the one thing they have control over- themselves.

Frequently we find that they have neglected self care and have been running on empty for a long time. We will institute a regime of self care that feels nurturing to them. Whether it is yoga and meditation, or running and a book club, rediscovering what brings them feelings of self love and nurture gives them the energy to face the relationship with a “full bucket” instead of exhaustion and panic.

Getting in touch with things that bring them joy is important as well. Noticing cloud shapes, blowing a dandelion or paying attention to the sound of music or the warmth of the fire can go so far towards creating a life that is joyful.

It is the little moments that we do not notice when we are ruled by the tyranny of the urgent that give us joy. When my clients start scanning their days for moments of joy they can then begin to string them together to make a quality of life that they may have been missing.

Time away from the relationship can offer time to reignite a passion, or to discover a new one. This is an exciting time for my clients, I find them coming in with pink cheeks and a smile on their faces.

Tapping in to something creative and re-engaging with life helps boost that life energy that they may have been missing. The best part of this entire process is that it is very attractive. The rediscovering of self-love, joy and passion and creativity is magnetic.

I find clients that have not had a good conversation with their partner in years will breathlessly share their new found passion for life and excitement with their partner, causing them to give a second glance. None of this is done with the intention of getting the partner’s attention, but I have found that it does have that effect.

When it does not have that effect, I have found that it helps ground my clients and to give them a vision of the future that they simply did not have before, so that no matter what the outcome, they are better prepared to thrive.

Q6. Interesting, for the most part what happens is you have the betrayed spouse in a constant state of panic and worry filled with negative thoughts and fear that their partner is having an affair. So they look for clues and evidence to confirm their fears- checking their partner’s cell phone, their computer, tracking their vehicles, checking their bank statements and credit cards, all of which is a natural reaction to a mind filled with conflicting thoughts. Needless to say, there is a lot of pain, hurt, grief and drama during this truth seeking phase.

And this continues till the point, they have undeniable evidence that their partner is cheating on them. At that point, they are even more hurt and angry because of the repeated lies. Unless the cheating spouse realizes the damage they have caused to their partner and family because of the affair, there is still lying, fighting, blaming and the denial to reveal the complete details of the affair.

Your philosophy seems to be more along the lines of Buddhism, where you encourage someone to look inwards and work on themselves to find inner peace and happiness than turn outwards where you may be looking for blame and suspicion and stop worrying about things that you cannot control.

Actually this does make sense, because so many readers have written to us that when they suspected their partner or spouse of having an affair or knew they were having an affair, they cried, begged, pleaded, threatened and even promised to change to become the person their spouse wants them to be, but none of this works for them and to make matters worse, they tend to backfire and push the straying partner further away.

However with your approach, the change you are seeking is for the right reason, it doesn’t come from a desperate state of mind, you are not doing it superficially because you want to win your spouse back but because it makes you feel good and makes you happy.

Assuming with this approach, the straying spouse notices the difference, finds this new change desirable, comes back and is willing to work on the marriage, how does the healing process begin and what needs to happen? Because the straying partner has betrayed the trust of their partner, hurt them immensely, exposed them to risk both financially and medically and caused a lot of shame and embarrassment to their family, they have to make it up to their partner and family. Talk us through the dos and don’t of the healing process for both the betrayed spouse and the straying spouse once both of them are committed to rebuilding their marriage after the affair.

Great question! The healing process is a delicate one. If the straying partner decides to return, then it is vital that the partners contract with each other to maintain the dignity of the partnership. This means the wronged party cannot throw dirty bombs or snipe. This is hard when you are tired or feeling insecure or wounded.

The transgressor is asked to show respect respect for the wronged party and the emotional risk they are taking in continuing the relationship. The partners must continue on equal footing, not one where one must kiss the other’s feet or be forced to live in fear that their partner may decide they are not worth the effort and walk out.

At this point both partners have made a conscious decision to be in the relationship, therefore giving up any right to holding more power than the other. There is an emotional vulnerability on both parts, and finding equilibrium may take some work. The errant partner often has as difficult time as the wronged partner because they elect to sit with their injured lover and to bear witness to their healing.

It can be very pain filled and guilt inducing. The wronged partner has a long journey of healing and it can be filled with anxiety. It is not an easy path for either partner, but for the right people it can be an amazing voyage of self discovery.

Committing to “hold the space” and allowing feelings to open naturally is the only way this will work. Good clear communication and reassurance when needed are the tools. There is the temptation to twist oneself into a pretzel trying to produce an atmosphere of trust at this point for both parties. This may be a little unrealistic.

Sitting with each other when feelings of insecurity come up (either feelings of fear, anger or wounding on the part of the injured party, or feelings of being scrutinized, judged or futility on the part of the transgressor) and allowing the feelings to exist without judgment in the presence of love can be very healing. Sometimes, just breathing together is all you can manage. Sometimes that is enough.

It is a slow process, learning to trust again, and rebuilding what was broken is a slow process, but it can be done.

Q7. Based on what you say, it really requires a magnanimous attitude from the betrayed partner because it is incredibly hard for them to accept the fact that the partners must continue on equal footing when they may feel otherwise.

They may think, ‘My partner had an affair, it was their choice, no one forced them to have an affair. While problems may have existed prior to the affair, they have to take a 100% responsibility of the affair’

A number of betrayed partners after the affair feel the need to have access to their partner’s email, computer and cell phone at least for a reasonable period of time because the trust has been broken by the straying partner and it takes time before they can trust their partner again.

They also feel the need to have all their questions about their partner’s affair be answered in order for them to heal since their mind is constantly obsessing over the details. They have problems with infidelity triggers and memories, mood swings and random episodes of crying and anger, all of which stems from the recollection of the affair. Sometimes it may take a year or two for the betrayed partner for healing process to be complete.

So in a way, the straying partner has to show a lot of patience and work hard to help the betrayed partner heal from the affair.

These are the typical expectations and feelings of a betrayed partner after the affair. Would it be unfair for the betrayed partner to have these feelings and expectations? What problems do you see, if any, with this attitude?

This really is a process of shifting from the place of fear to the place of love, and it can be a very difficult journey. Many choose not to walk it. For those that do, even society may prove a hindrance.

What people believe you should or shouldn’t “put up with” can become a pronouncement on the one who chooses to stay. It can be a lonely place without much support. What’s more is that the emotions are a tossing, turning, swirling sea of anger, pain, sadness and confusion.

Sharing details of the affair more than how it happened and the emotional course of it is not always wise. The details give mental images that may never heal. As much as a partner thinks they want to know and need to know, it may not always be wise. The bare minimum of details that can allow the wronged partner to understand it the better, though this may feel contrary to what they want.

It can become a compulsion to have the straying partner catalog their sins over and over, and can tend to be more self injurious than productive for the wronged party. Hearing details of their partners intimacies with another can become a way for them to punish themselves for not being “enough.”

The wronged partner is entitled to have any emotion that comes up. I suggest to my clients that they “allow” their emotions to flow naturally, without resistance. Since emotions are “energy in motion” in our bodies, that want to be literally expressed or “squeezed out,” resisting these emotions causes them to become trapped, and causes discomfort.

Really taking the time to drop their awareness into the area that the uncomfortable energy exists in their bodies, and to allow the energy to flow through the body without resistance, can help them heal faster, and to be more comfortable with the difficult emotional experience.

A lot of work is required of both parties. The straying partner is required to give a heartfelt apology and the assurance that all precautions will be taken to prevent it from happening again.

I usually recommend shared passwords, and access to all information, however I urge both parties to try to avoid leaning in this as a means of preventing any future bad behavior.

It simply isn’t effective to control another person. Being in a relationship is simply not “safe.” There are always risks when you open yourself up to another person. Learning to be alright in spite of taking a risk is the key to happiness in a relationship. This is why I recommend such deep personal work by both parties apart from the relationship.

The straying partner does have a lot of work and reassurance to do to help their partner heal. In my experience these partners are willing to do what they can to redeem themselves and to heal the relationship because they are so grateful for the chance to make things right.

One caution I would make is that this partner can become demotivated and get down on themselves if their efforts are not received and acknowledged in a loving manner.

I have seen relationships where this party has become the scapegoat, and has taken a lashing for years in hopes of righting the wrong. If we are looking to re-establish relationship and to rebuild after the reconciliation then obviously this continued flogging is counter to what should be occurring.

This is redemptive work, and again I will repeat, it is not for he feint of heart. Knowing themselves, both parties have to assess their goals and decide if they are willing to do what it takes to repair the relationship.

Q8. Some of our readers have written to us that even though they have tried to forgive their spouse for the affair they have a really tough time truly forgiving them. In a way, it is as if a part of them never wants to forgive their spouse or let go off the affair. As you mentioned earlier, these are typically the people who know too many details of the affair and these details comes back to haunt them. What do you recommend someone do when they are stuck in the forgiveness process and are unable to move forward? Is there anything the straying spouse can do to make forgiving them easier?

Unfortunately, this piece is not up to the straying partner to fix. If it were, I think the process would be much easier. For the wronged party, it is a matter of deciding that they do not want to be unhappy anymore. Forgiveness is a decision, albeit a decision that will have to be recommitted to with every memory and every trigger.

The grieving process must be honored, and all of the steps worked through, but ultimately, forgiveness is a decision. In therapy, there are skills, such as thought stopping, mindfulness and distraction that help the clients in coping with the pain.

Here are some techniques that are very helpful in dealing with unwanted thoughts that cause us pain.

Thought stopping is the act of noticing when your thoughts wander towards the topic that give you discomfort (in this case, the infidelity) and purposefully stopping that thought. I coach my clients that when their minds wander where we would prefer them not to go, to throw up a big red stop sign in their imagination, and immediately use that as their trigger to think of what to cook for dinner, for instance. There are many other forms of thought stopping.

One technique that is effective for some people is to wear a rubber band around their wrist and to snap it when a distressing thought comes up. The negative stimulus can encourage the mind to refrain from going there.

Mindfulness is the process of living in the moment. It is the act of focusing on this minute, right here in this room, being fully present with what is in front of you. When thoughts start to wander, immediate focus on bodily sensations is helpful.

Talking yourself through “I feel the floor under my feet, I feel the chair under my legs, I feel the cool air in the room, I smell the flowers from the vase on the table.” Being present in your body allows you to fully immerse yourself in the moment and thus avoiding the harmful thoughts of the past.

Distraction is just as it sounds. Making sure that you keep a list of activities available to take your mind off of the infidelity. When you start with the uncomfortable thoughts, watch a movie, immerse yourself in a book for awhile, go to a sporting event or pop in an exercise DVD. Anything that engages your mind and keeps it off of the pain you are feeling is helpful.

All of this boils down to realizing that you have power, that you can be intentional in your responses, and that you can make choices that honor the path you choose to take in life.

And again, the power is back in the wronged party’s court. That is what I love about this process. It allows the wronged party to maintain control of what they can control, and to have the dignity of making their own decisions.

About Carolyn Tucker

Carolyn is a National Board Certified psychotherapist, certified life coach and energy healer,  is a graduate of Argosy University, and a Harvard research assistant. She specializes in divorce issues, trauma and  anxiety. Carolyn works with a broad spectrum of clients. Among her areas of expertise are relationship issues, pre and post divorce issues and custody communication, trauma, anxiety,  and gay and lesbian relationship issues.

She uses a unique blend of mind/body interventions, coaching, energy medicine and extensive traditional therapy modalities. She is distance counseling certified and offers Skype, email and chat counseling and coaching for your ease and convenience.

Carolyn is a person-centered therapist. Her therapeutic approach is to provide support and practical feedback to help clients effectively address personal life challenges. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client.

With compassion and understanding, she works with each individual to help them build on their strengths and attain the personal growth they are committed to accomplishing. Carolyn is known for her warmth and nurturing support as well as her extensive training.

To know more about Carolyn Tucker, visit her website, www.carolyntuckertherapist.com or call her at 770-789-0847.

Suspected nfidelity can cause anxiety levels to soar and may give you the desire to control or monitor you partner. This is never effective. Reach out for help in maintaining healthy boundaries and learn to thrive in your relationship.

Suspected infidelity can cause anxiety levels to soar and may give you the desire to control or monitor you partner. This is never effective. Reach out for help in maintaining healthy boundaries and learn to thrive in your relationship.

How Technology Can Help Reduce Anxiety Surrounding Child Custody

Custody issues are stressful enough, having to communicate with your spouse or former spouse over them can be a minefield. Being expected to communicate and coordinate schedules with someone that you may have a contentious relationship is at times difficult and at other times impossible. Fortunately technology is available to make communications and coordination easier, and it is increasingly being applauded by lawyers and judges.

Technology also enables the non custodial parent to have more seamless access to their children, enhancing relationships. Online custody management tools, Skype and cell phones have revolutionized how former couples communicate, enabling parents to make arrangements without having face to face dispute and facilitating parent/child relationships. It is a win/win for the children and the parents. Unfortunately, if you aren’t tech savvy the prospect of depending on technology to manage your child custody calendar, medical expenses, communications with your former spouse, communications with your children, child support management, etc may feel daunting.

In helping my clients navigate the waters of the divorce process both before and after, I consider the technology piece a major boon to assist in keeping anxiety levels low during the process. In addition to learning coping skills and interventions to address the inevitable life stress that comes with this transition, getting connected with technology to help make life easier is now a standard part of what I do.

Fortunately there are people who are well versed in this technology and are able to get you set up in a way that will facilitate good record keeping for the court, interaction with your child’s school, coaches, etc, and communication with your former spouse. In my psychotherapy practice specializing in pre and post divorce issues this is commonplace. By taking some of the conflict out of divorce by making communication more collaborative and cooperative we help the parents feel more secure and less anxious. More secure and less anxious parents make for more secure and less anxious children, which in the end, is what really matters.

If you are having difficulty adjusting during the pre or post divorce process, or if you just need some support around the technology, please reach out to a qualified professional to help make the transition a time of growth and discovery for you.

Carolyn Tucker LAPC is a psychotherapist specializing in pre and post divorce issues and anxiety. For more information please call 770-789-0847 or see www.carolyntuckertherapist.com to set an appointment.

Anxiety and Divorce: Holiday Style

Going through a divorce is tough, really tough. Going through a divorce during the holidays is excruciating. Everything you have known about the holidays changes, and if you have children it is complicated exponentially. There are few situations that inspire more anxiety than figuring holiday schedules for children and planning how you will fill the hours while they are with their other parent. Even if you do not have children, the holidays represent a death of the norm.

Grieving is normal and natural during this season. Your singleness is magnified by images of happy couples gathered with their happy children around the tree, while you try to figure how you will pay for gifts and groceries on an income that has been decimated. Not spending holiday time with the family that had become like your own can be a painful part of the loss that no one acknowledges.

There is hope for you if you are going through a divorce during the holidays. Despite the fact that nothing feels secure until the divorce is final, you can learn to thrive during the ambiguity. I know that thriving may sound like a stretch. If you are like many, you spend much of the time curled up in bed trying to sleep the time away until the divorce is final and all the arrangements are in place. Learning to live mindfully can help you begin to appreciate your life again. Even though it may feel like you have had a giant bomb thrown into your life, learning to live in the moment can help you get out of bed, put your feet on the floor, and start all over again.

The first step is learning to breathe again. Yes, you heard me, breathe. When is the last time that you took a really deep breath? When we are anxious and grieving we actually forget to breathe. When we focus our attention on our breath, and really notice how luxurious it feels to throw our heads back and take a deep belly breath, we become engaged in the process of life again.

Remembering the little things that we love about the holidays is a big step towards learning to thrive again. A glass of eggnog in front of the fire, the twinkle of the lights at night, the smell of the Christmas tree, the feel of the winter chill on your cheeks when you step outside in the morning are all precious moments if we notice them. It is REALLY noticing the little things, the special moments, that make for quality holidays. When you string together several special moments, you have created a lovely day. Once you have created a lovely day, then you have the pattern for creating a delightful holiday season.

Making new memories is another way to help you flourish during the season. Time with friends, a chance to travel, shopping or seeing a newly released movie can all become thrilling adventures if you reframe how you expect to experience the holidays. Engaging with other single people or joining in celebration with another family can begin a tradition that will provide you with beautiful memories. A nice bottle of wine and your presence may be all that is required in return.

If you are having a really difficult time I recommend that you volunteer at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. There are people everywhere who are in need of encouragement, of a warm body to remind them that they still matter, that they are important. It is amazing how connecting with those less fortunate than yourself can give you perspective on your blessings.

The game plan for thriving through the holidays as you are going through a divorce is to put one foot in front of the other. Do the next thing. Keep your mind in the moment. Do not think about the future, do not dwell on the past. Take a deep breath, and realize that right now, this very minute, is enough.

Carolyn Tucker LAPC is a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in pre and post divorce support and anxiety. To find out more information call 770-789-0847 or see www.carolyntuckertherapist.com.