Does US mean no more ME? Relationship strain.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Couple not talking

Unhappy relationship.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Can your relationship survive?

The client comes for counseling, sometimes it is a couple, sometimes they have already spit or divorced and the client comes alone. The complaints are remarkably similar.

In the beginning, this relationship was so perfect. We spent a lot of time together, couldn’t wait to be together, and then things started to change.

Starting a new relationship sets off a series of changes in everyone’s life. Some of these changes are enjoyable, falling in love is better than most drugs. But that new relationship also sets off stress. Those seeds of change planted at the start of the relationship become the weeds of disappointment later on.

In the process of creating an US, the couple finds themselves distancing from people who have been in their life before the relationship. Most of us have full lives, even when we say that there is something missing, like love, still to make room for the new partner something has to go.

The picture I get of this person entering a new relationship is sort of like my desk. It is full. No matter how much I clean it off more stuff appears and fills it up. So anytime I add a new thing, a book I want to read, something else I planned to look at gets covered up or if I push that new book onto the desk something falls off the other side.

Is your relationship overly full like that?

So to make room for that new love, you see less of old friends. Maybe your new partner doesn’t like some of your friends, so you stop seeing them. There may be conflicts between your partner’s interests and expectations and what your family expects. So you change a little and then your relationships with family and friends, those relationships change in response.

As the relationship progresses all sorts of conflicts arise. Where do you spend the holidays? Do you go to activates with your friends and family or your partners?  As your new love takes you away from your established relationship your family and friends may push back.

You may be expected for a holiday meal with one part of the extended family and another part is angry because they expected you. You can see how the conflicts mount up.

You may decide to adopt the customs of one person or the other or you may compromise. Either way life activities outside the relationship will change. You have to stop doing some things to make way for others.

Creating an US in your relationship.

At this stage, couples come to counseling for help in creating space for an US. They need help in setting boundaries with people outside the relationship. They may also need help setting boundaries within the relationship.

The resentments may accumulate. You have given up a lot to make this relationship work and now you wonder what happened to ME since we became US?

Not losing ME in your relationship.

He came home from work after a hard day and she wasn’t there, out with her girlfriends again. She used to call him about every little decision now she calls her mother and tells him what her mom said she should do.

He used to want to be with her all the time. Now he spends Friday night out with the guys. Soon Friday turns into 3 or 4 nights a week. He starts going to the gym or running every day.

The time they used to spend together each now wants time apart. Often one or the other partner thinks the other is having an affair, sometimes they are, but most of the time they just decide to go back to doing the things they did before they got into this relationship before WE and US started to obliterate the “ME.”

Rarely does a couple both start the US to Me change at the same time.

So as the process of reestablishing ME begins to take shape, The relationship undergoes a new strain, creating separateness within togetherness.

Relationship counselors have looked a lot at the progression of relationships. We are seeing that relationships and the people in them go through a series of changes. If one partner’s changes are out of step with the others then there can be problems in the relationship.

Sometimes that first embrace gets too tight and one person may push the other away.

This is a time to look at how the relationship is progressing not to think you picked the wrong person. Healthy relationships change over time.

There can be ME’s for both partners within the US. It takes time, understanding, and effort to create that space within the loving relationship.

Frequently the two of you become three or more and then the relationship stress mounts. Do you have to give up being that loving couple to be a family? Can there still be a ME and US and an ALL OF US?

Making it a Family.

Family can and do make these transitions. It helps if you know they are coming. If these inevitable relationship strains and changes are making you wonder if you made the right choice in the first place, consider relationship or family counseling.

All relationships continue to change and starting over with a new partner means going through these relationship changes all over again. Couples who are willing to work at navigating the changes that always come, end up navigating those changes together.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Bullying, Families and Resiliency

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Crying child

Youth mental health.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is there a relationship between Bullying, families, and resiliency?

At least one research study says yes. My task of reading all these research studies about resiliency and what makes some people bounce back from trauma quickly while other people are down for the count continues. This one study seems worth sharing. It is not extremely new (from 2010) but it was new to me so I thought I would pass it on.

The study by Bowes, Maughan, Caspi, Moffitt, and Arseneault, says yes there is a connection. They say three factors improve the resilience of children who are bullied. Now after reading as many studies as I have so far I take everything with a lot of salt. (Please don’t tell my nutritionist.) I am leery of studies that say that doing or not doing something will protect your child from harm. Parents sometimes do everything right and still, something bad happens, but this study does suggest some things that help reduce the impact of bullying on kids.

They found that being the victim of bullying in primary grades set the child up for both emotional and behavioral problems as well as increasing the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions and other self-harming behaviors. Victims of bullying, not surprisingly, have an increased risk and the younger they are when bullied the more the risk. At least that is the way I read this.

Some factors they found, well there is nothing you can do about it. Being poor adds to your risk. But then poverty adds to the risk of almost everything. In the early grades, girls seem to be more resilient than boys. That surprised me. High I. Q. protects kids from some risks and increases resiliency. Most efforts to increase your child’s I. Q. aren’t going to work, though appropriate effective education and counseling might help a little. Children with emotional or behavioral problems to start with were more affected by bullying. I take that as an indication that early interventions in childhood emotional and behavioral problems are better than the wait and see approach.

They suggest there is a difference in the factors that promote resiliency in the emotional area and those that increase resiliency in behavioral areas. Now here is the thing that was noteworthy for me. The family characteristic that was most helpful in promoting behavioral resiliency in boys was – the warmth of the mother. That is boys who knew their mother liked them were less affected by being the victim of bullying that boys whose mothers never treated them warmly. So much ladies, for worrying about spoiling your sons. Let them know they are loved and their behavior improves. At least it did in sons who were bullied.

The second thing that promoted resiliency in these kids was the warmth of their siblings. Even boys whose mothers were cold and uncaring did better when they had siblings that were warm and caring. Another good reason to promote siblings getting along.

The third factor, after maternal warmth and sibling warmth that protected kids who had been bullied and increased their resiliency, was a positive family atmosphere. So parents, while money, as in poverty, play a small part in reducing resiliency, the things you can’t buy, like maternal warmth, sibling warmth, and a positive family environment made the most difference.

Some issues with the study were that they left out the problem of girl’s behavioral resiliency. I think a lot of girls do act out behaviorally because they were teased and bullied. Usually, the girls do their acting out in ways that we don’t connect to being bullied, at least till they get to high school. The study started out talking about parental characteristics and then switched to maternal warmth. Didn’t we stop blaming the mothers a long time ago? And didn’t any of these kids have fathers? I don’t see much about the role of fathers in promoting resiliency. I continue to think that we underestimate the child’s need for a father or male role model, who takes an active part in a child’s life.

For those of you who are purists,’ the reference for this study is: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 51:7 (2010), pp 809–817.

So what do you think? Does maternal warmth matter? Should a father ever be warm to his children? And does anyone else out there have any suggestions for reducing the bullying and increasing the resiliency of kids who have been bullied?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel