How will you solve that problem?

By David Joel Miller.

Is your life full of problems?

Problem Solving

Problem Solving.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

If you’re one of those people who seems to go from problem to problem, maybe it’s time to change the way you handle problems. Problems can cause you a lot of unhappiness, derail your life and result in depression and anxiety, or they can simply be one more thing you must handle today. Unresolved problems can fester and damage relationships at home and work.

The problems you don’t tackle can undermine your self-esteem and hold you back from the life you want to have. Here are some simple steps you can take to move from a problem-filled life to a “problems handled” way of living.

This approach is often used by companies or businesses, but you can easily modify it for solving personal issues or family and relationship problems.

Define the problem accurately.

A couple comes in for relationship counseling, the problem they describe is that they are constantly fighting over money. Before this couple can solve this problem, we need to get more specific about what the problem is. For some couples, this is largely a financial problem. Scraping by from month-to-month, not being sure you’ll be able to pay the rent and the power bill can put a strain on any relationship. The solution will be learning some financials skills.

Another couple has plenty of income, and their expenses would be manageable if they could agree on how to spend their money. What we need to establish is whether this is a relationship issue or is it about power and control? Maybe one of them is a saver, and the other wants to spend. If one’s goal is a large savings account and the other’s goal is to do lots of traveling the problem to solve is not financial, but how they make decisions.

For couples whose problems are primarily fighting about money, the real issue may be that they barely have enough income to survive. When you live a life where what you earn each month is less than what you must spend, and you make up the deficit by using credit cards, eventually something must give, either before bankruptcy or after. The stress of unpaid bills can result in a lot of irritability and arguments.

Start any effort to solve your problems by creating an as specific as possible definition of the problem.

Who owns this problem?

What if your problem is someone else? Your partner makes you angry, or your kids won’t behave. It’s hard to develop a plan for anything you can do when the problem is someone else. There are three possible approaches, try to change the other person, change yourself, or stay miserable while insisting that things shouldn’t be the way they are.

While it’s difficult, it is sometimes possible to change the other person. Every relationship, especially couples and families, develop a pattern of how they relate to each other. Therapists call this the “family dance.” If you want to change the interaction, you must change the dance, and you begin this by doing different steps than you’ve done before. As you change others will be forced to change in response, though they may not always change in the way you want them to change.

Both changing yourself and the process of encouraging others to change are skills you can learn. You might want to look at the posts about problem ownership and behavioral modification.

Generate possible solutions for your identified problem.

Once you are clear on what the problem is and who needs to make the changes, you can begin to generate a list of possible solutions. Let’s take the “fighting about money” problem.

It may be hard work, but a first step would be to develop a budget. You need to know how much money is coming in each month and where it is going. The couple needs to agree on how important savings are to them. What percentage of each month’s income do they plan to save? Saving should include putting something away for retirement. A small amount saved each year can grow to a substantial amount over your working lifetime.

You also need to prioritize what you spend your money on. That mixed coffee drink can be a nice treat. But if you add up what you spend on those lattes and compare it to the cost of making a pot of coffee and taking a mug with you, having the money to pay the power bill the first of the month may be worth more than those daily splurges.

Solutions you might consider for solving your financial issues could be ways to earn more income, ways to reduce expenses, or sell something you have, to raise some extra cash. Many people find that their payments on expensive cars or credit card balances are the hole the drains money faster than they can earn it.

Solving financial problems is often painful, but if you don’t solve these problems, the stress can damage your mental health and destroying your relationship.

Explore the advantages and disadvantages.

Any effort to solve a problem comes with pros and cons. The last real estate downturn forced people to choose between making large payments for houses that were worth less than what they still owed on them, or giving up their dream home.

To solve a specific problem, you may have to give up something or do something you don’t wish to do. Evaluating your options can be difficult. You will never have all the information you would wish for. But eventually, you must choose to change something, or you will choose to continue to live with the pain of an unresolved issue.

Implement your selected solution.

This step trips up a lot of people. The couple decides they need to let things from the past go and focus on the future, but the next time there’s a disagreement about raising the kids or spending money all that past stuff gets thrown into the argument.

You may have decided to stop splurging on little expenses, and the next day, when you feel a little down, you start spending again. If you decided the way to solve your financial problems was to stop making impulsive purchases and pay down your credit card debt, be careful of making exceptions and buying something just this one time because you want it.

When you have these little slips and don’t follow your plan, don’t beat yourself up and don’t toss the plan away. Accept that you’re not going to be perfect the following the plan. Redouble your efforts again the next day.

Evaluate the results you are getting from your plan.

Whatever the problems you’re trying to solve, you need to do periodic reviews and evaluate whether what you’re doing is moving you in the right direction. Some problems may be easily solved. Others may require effort over a long period. Don’t get discouraged. Do give yourself credit for the effort you put in and for whatever results you achieve.

Modify the solution as needed.

Be careful about getting locked into one solution. Some ideas you may have had for solving your problem won’t work. Others may take more effort and time than you’re willing to put into them. Make whatever changes you need to make to reach your goal.

What should you do if your solutions don’t work?

At any point in the process, you might want to seek out professional help. For financial problems, you may need financial counseling. For work-related issues, you might need to see an educational or career counselor. For mental health and emotional problems consider therapy. If the problem is your relationship consider couples, marriage, or family counseling.

Behavioral problems such as excessive anger or a substance use disorder are likely to require professional help also. If your relationship is full of conflict, a relationship counselor can help you work through the conflict.

Don’t feel that it’s a sign of weakness to seek professional help. Athletes have coaches and businesses hire consultants. Sometimes the investment of a few dollars spent on professional help can pay off in huge improvements in solving your emotional and relationship problems.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller.

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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8 Ways to improve your couple’s communication.

By David Joel Miller

Improving couples communication takes time and practice.

Couple Communicating

Couple Communicating
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Problems communicating is a common complaint in distressed couples. To improve communication between you and your partner will involve a lot more than simply spending more time talking with each other. If your communication is conveying the wrong message more of the same is only rehearsing the problem.

Here are 8 tips to see that your communication with your partner takes you in the direction you want to go.

1. Develop a “fund” of positive feelings in your relationship.

If all you ever hear from an important person in your life is negativity, you stop listening. Your relationship needs to include lots of positive communication with your partner when times are good.

Create happy interactions as frequently as possible to carry you through the times of conflict. If the only time you communicate with your partner is when you “need to talk” talking becomes painful and eventually stops.

It only takes a few angry hurtful statements to wash away the love in a relationship. Make sure you have communicated the positive messages frequently so that they do not get lost during the conflicts.

2. Discover ways to make your partner feel loved.

Communication can’t be restricted to the verbal channel. What your partner sees you doing and how you act carries a lot of the communication burden. Some people feel really loved when they receive gifts. But if you work all the time to pay for presents, your lack of presence in the relationship can damage your ability to communicate.

3. Ask for what you need.

If your relationship is not meeting your needs, consider that it may be because you are not asking to have your needs met.

Far too many people believe that their partner should know what they need and provide it without them asking. Unfortunately, we often have difficulty figuring out what we need and want, let alone know how to meet our partner’s needs.

Very few people are successful at reading their partner’s mind. Thinking that your partner should have that ability if they really love you will result in poor communication.

4. Fight fair – do not criticize your partner.

Many couples use a scorched earth approach to their disagreements. When there are conflicts limit your communication to the topic at hand.

The goal should be to resolve the disagreement not to see how much damage you can inflict on your partner. Keep your comments to the behaviors you want the partner to change not global descriptions of their character.

Saying that you feel more loved when he cleans up after himself can be helpful. Telling him he is a pig, was raised in a barn and his mother is the biggest sow around, are all the sort of personal attacks that will cut off communication.

If you try to destroy your partner during conflicts, your relationship, along with your couple’s communication will be collateral damage.

5. Look for win-win solutions to improve communication.

Winning arguments at the cost of your partner losing results in an impoverished relationship. Work on finding ways you both can get your needs met in the relationship rather than keeping score on who is winning the most.

Listening to really understand your partner’s wants and needs will improve communication. Finding solutions to disagreements where you both win will make your relationship a winner.

6. Make “I” statements to improve communications.

To improve communication talk about how you feel.  Rather than saying that your partner “makes you feel -” Let them know that you feel sad, hurt etc. when they do a particular action.

Own your feelings and your partner will learn how you are feeling. More understanding is the road to empathy. More criticism and blame will not improve your couple’s communication.

7. Avoid going for the jugular when you two disagree.

When conflicts grow heated and intense the temptation is to say and do the thing that will hurt your partner the most. It may feel good at the moment to get even and inflict some pain on your partner but over the long run, the thing that gets destroyed is your relationship.

8. Pick a good time for important communications.

When you partner is running late for work is not the time to start a serious conversation. Just before lovemaking is not the time to bring up your complaint about their behavior. When people are under stress, are sad, depressed, hungry or feeling other intense emotions they will find it hard to consider their partner’s point of view.

Pick a time when you two can have a leisurely conversation to work on areas that require deep communication.

If you discover that your joint life is always full of hurry and conflict? What then? Do you just keep putting off that communication? You shouldn’t. Many relationship failures are the result of conversations that couples should have had but never got around to.

Set a time and stick to it. This joint problem solving to set that time to discuss couples communication may be just the impetus to get your communication back on track.

If you have been trying to get your couples communication on track but it does not appear to be getting better consider seeing a professional relationship counselor. Seeing a couples counselor does not mean your relationship is over. It may be just the thing you need to repair the breaches.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The question why? – In therapy

By David Joel Miller.

Does it help to know why?

More than half the time in most therapy sessions is spent on the question why? Most of the time the focus of the why question, is not on the client but on some other person in their life. Clients spend a good deal of time asking me why their partner did this or that, why did their parent do something and so on.

It would be reassuring to know why. Most of us think if we just knew “why” then we could prevent something bad happening. The great illusion of most relationships is that we can somehow control the behavior of others. Most of the time we can’t control the others in our life, and except for teaching our children good behavior, controlling others is probably not healthy.

The questions we should be asking are not about others. More helpful questions are the ones we ask about ourselves. What do I really want out of life, what are my values? How much am I willing to invest in reaching my goals? Can I accept this situation? What am I willing to do to change?

Sometimes we focus on others to avoid looking at ourselves. It is easy to upset yourself about things happening in the next apartment, across the street, or across the country.  Looking at what is happening in your own life is more productive. It is also more challenging.

People like to vent about their partner, their boss or their children. It would be easy to devote a lot of therapy time to talking about others. Conversations between friends often turn to talking about others. We call that practice gossiping. It is easy to do. We may even think that by discussing others, we can gain some insight into the situation, some way to improve our outcomes.

One thing we tell clients in therapy is that it is not productive to talk about people who are not in the room. Taking about your conflicts with your partner may make you feel better, temporarily, but it won’t change the situation. There are two ways to improve this relationship situation, get the other person in the therapy room or change yourself.

Marriage, Child and Family Therapist’s work from a “systems” perspective, to change a family situation it helps to get all the people involved in the room. Often the “identified patient” is not the one with the problem. Let’s look at some examples of this situation.

Mother comes in with her teenage child. The child has a severe weight problem. The child has become depressed as a result of being overweight. Despite mom’s best efforts to put this teen on a diet, make them exercise; the teen continues to gain weight. The teen comes to therapy; they don’t want to talk about their weight. What is on their mind is the way their parents have been fighting and every time they go to visit Grandma, she runs mom down the whole visit.

Turns out that because of the marital conflict, every time dad takes this teen out they stop somewhere for something to eat. Dad always says “don’t tell your mother, she is way too hard on you,” which the teen tries to respect.

When the teen visits grandma, she does the same thing, makes excuses for why the teen does not need to lose weight and rewards the teen with food treats. Grandma does not like her daughter-in-law and gets even with her by being the teens “friend” and sabotaging the mother’s plans for the teen to lose weight.

Working with the teen around weight loss may not be very effective. One approach is to get the whole family together at once and talk about how they are all colluding to use the teen’s weight as a way to try to control or get even with other family members.

Sometimes we can’t get the whole family to therapy. We have to work with the teen on what they really want. If the teen is impacted by this weight issue, we may need to help them to learn how to say no to dad and grandma’s efforts to sabotage their diet. Some teens can’t resist the family dance and are stuck.

Boys escape this family dance by joining the military or running away from home. Girls try to escape by getting pregnant, moving in with a man or some other way of having to leave the family. Both genders may also use drugs and alcohol to escape the intolerable conflicts.

Another situation that results in a lot of talk about a person who is not in the room is the spouse of the alcoholic or addict. They are likely to want to spend a lot of time on how to make their partner stop or on what they did to make them drink and use.

The spouse did nothing to make their partner abuse substances.  A bad relationship may have contributed, but it is not the cause. People drink and use to change the way they feel. Eventually, they lose the ability to cope without the substances. Some people can use and drink a little or even drink a lot and then stop when they want. Other people find that when they try to stop, they can’t. We consider this an example of the disease of addiction.

There is not much the non-using partner can do to stop the other person’s substance abuse.  They have a choice. End the relationship, say that this is more than you signed on for and you are done, or you can accept that the other person is the way they are and go on from there. Spending time talking about the person who is not in the room is not helpful here either.

Do you spend a lot of time asking why others do what they do? How much time have you spent in looking at yourself? What do you really want? What can you accept or not accept?

Don’t waste time on the why; work on the “what and how” of the changes you need to make to have a happy future.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The question why? – In therapy

Adolescence

Adolescence (Photo credit: kevinthoule)

By David Joel Miller.

Does it help to know why?

More than half the time in most therapy sessions is spent on the question why? Most of the time the focus of the why question, is not on the client but on some other person in their life. Clients spend a good deal of time asking me why their partner did this or that, why did their parent do something and so on.

It would be reassuring to know why. Most of us think if we just knew why then we could prevent something bad happening. The great illusion of most relationships is that we can somehow control the behavior of others. Most of the time we can’t control the others in our life, and except for teaching our children good behavior, controlling others is probably not healthy.

The questions we should be asking are not about others. More helpful questions are the ones we ask about ourselves. What do I really want out of life, what are my values? How much am I willing to invest in reaching my goals? Can I accept this situation? What am I willing to do to change?

Sometimes we focus on others to avoid looking at ourselves. It is easy to upset yourself about things happening in the next apartment, across the street, or across the country. Looking at what is happening in your own life is more productive. It is also more challenging.

People like to vent about their partner, their boss or their children. It would be easy to devote a lot of therapy time to talking about others. Conversations between friends often turn to talking about others. We call that practice gossiping. It is easy to do. We may even think that by discussing others we can gain some insight into the situation, some way to improve our outcomes.

One thing we tell clients in therapy is that it is not productive to talk about people who are not in the room. Taking about your conflicts with your partner may make you feel better, temporarily, but it won’t change the situation. There are two ways to improve this relationship situation, get the other person in the therapy room or change yourself.

Marriage, Child and Family Therapist’s work from a “systems” perspective, to change a family situation it helps to get all the people involved in the room. Often the “identified patient” is not the one with the problem. Let’s look at some examples of this situation.

Mother comes in with her teenage child. The child has a severe weight problem. The child has become depressed as a result of being overweight. Despite mom’s best efforts to put this teen on a diet, make them exercise; the teen continues to gain weight. The teen comes to therapy; they don’t want to talk about their weight. What is on their mind is the way their parents have been fighting and every time they go to visit grandma, she runs mom down the whole visit.

Turns out that because of the marital conflict, every time dad takes this teen out they stop somewhere for something to eat. Dad always says “don’t tell your mother, she is way too hard on you,” which the teen tries to respect.

When the teen visits grandma she does the same thing, makes excuses for why the teen does not need to lose weight and rewards the teen with food treats. Grandma does not like her daughter-in-law and gets even with her by being the teens “friend” and sabotaging the mother’s plans for the teen to lose weight.

Working with the teen around weight loss may not be very effective. One approach is to get the whole family together at once and talk about how they are all colluding to use the teen’s weight as a way to try to control or get even with other family members.

Sometimes we can’t get the whole family to therapy. We have to work with the teen on what they really want. If the teen is impacted by this weight issue we may need to help them to learn how to say no to dad and grandma’s efforts to sabotage their diet. Some teens can’t resist the family dance and are stuck.

Boys escape this family dance by joining the military or running away from home. Girls try to escape by getting pregnant, moving in with a man or some other way of having to leave the family. Both genders may also use drugs and alcohol to escape the intolerable conflicts.

Another situation that results in a lot of talk about a person who is not in the room is the spouse of the alcoholic or addict. They are likely to want to spend a lot of time on how to make their partner stop or on what they did to make them drink and use.

The spouse did nothing to make their partner abuse substances.  A bad relationship may have contributed but it is not the cause. People drink and use to change the way they feel, eventually they lose the ability to cope without the substances. Some people can use and drink a little or even drink a lot and then stop when they want. Other people find that when they try to stop they can’t. We consider this an example of the disease of addiction.

There is not much the non-using partner can do to stop the other person’s substance abuse.  They have a choice. End the relationship, say that this is more than they signed on for and they are done, or they can accept that the other person is the way they are and go on from there. Spending time talking about the person who is not in the room is not helpful here either.

Do you spend a lot of time asking why others do what they do? How much time have you spent in looking at yourself? What do you really want? What can you accept or not accept?

Don’t waste time on the why; work on the “what and how” of the changes you need to make to have a happy future.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Is your marriage house collapsing?

By David Joel Miller.

Is your marriage house collapsing?

New post on relationships over at website counselorfresno.com

Is your marriage house collapsing?

Let me know how you like this post.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Love triangles and threesomes

By David Joel Miller.

Are you in a love triangle?

Those old love triangles are the stuff novels are made of and I expected to see a lot of them in the work I do as a Marriage and Family Therapist. Threesomes and triangles conjure up different images but the issues that turn up in the counseling session are very similar. One particular variety of this theme is especial common in my counseling practice.

The classic love triangle has love flowing around the outline but not back in the direction it came from. Usually, this is two people in a relationship when one decides they would prefer to be in another relationship. If they are married, or they have children this gets messy. The worst part of these affairs is when one partner wants out and the other wants to save the relationship. Often there are a lot of hurt feelings and when these relationships end there can be violence, depression or self-harm. This is common but it is not the relationship with three parties I see most often.

The relationship that jumps to mind when we say threesome is more like three people involved in sex or a close love relationship presumably with the knowledge and consent of all the parties involved. I can’t tell you if this is a particularly common occurrence as I don’t do research on sexual practices but when it does lead someone to counseling it is usually because it did not turn out to be all fun and games. When these relationships fall apart there are likely to be three or more hurt people. But this is far from the most common three-way relationship I see in counseling.

The most common threesome type relationship that drives clients to counseling involves two people, sex or sexual orientation doesn’t matter here.  What does matter is that one of the parties has introduced another love object into the relationship? That love object is far and away most likely to be some form of addiction.

Falling in love with a drug.

Sherry or Jack or Bud is likely to be a constant visitor in many a relationship. Men and woman will forsake their partners to be with Crystal or Crack. And members of both sexes are likely to fall head over heels for lady luck. Addictions of all sorts become a part of couples love relationships on a very frequent basis.

Some partners try to compete with the addictions intrusion in the relationship. Clearly, over time the formerly loving partner becomes alienated by the new-found love interest. Who can compete with the wiles of Ethel-nol? As the struggled for attention increases all sorts of family dysfunction becomes the norm.

Many a couple has thought that the way to tame an alluring addiction is to invite them into the relationship. Turn your partner’s new love addiction into a family affair and make it a threesome. This works for a while. Life is a party that seems to never end. An addiction, whether Crystal or lady luck, is a jealous mistress and eventually she takes over and turns the whole family into her servants.

Addiction stays to console the addict long after the family, loved ones; job and health have abandoned the house. Many an addict has given up their house to stay with their addiction.

By the time the unwary couple calls the counselor seeking treatment both partners, the relationship, jobs, and children will have been destroyed.

When addiction has become a part of the love triangle the only cure is a full divorce from the addiction before all is destroyed. Unfortunately, by the time the addict, alcoholic or gambler leaves their best friend, their addiction, the damage may have reached the irreversible point.

The moral of our tale is that when addiction is a part of a relationship there is not much left for anyone else. The earlier you seek treatment because you are in love with an addiction the better. If someone you love has fallen head over heels for an addiction insist they end this affair before everyone suffers.

Seek help early if addiction is a participant in your relationship.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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

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

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Unhappy Relationships

By David Joel Miller

The most important issues in our lives are our relationships.

Unhappy relationships bring more people to counseling and therapy than any other issue.  Relationship issues sent more people to psychiatric hospitals than all the other causes of emotional turmoil. That need for connection to other humans underlies all human activity. If having a good relationship is so important to a happy life, why is it such a difficult thing for us to do?

When we say relationship issues most people think first and sometimes only, about romantic, sexual relationships. Type a question about relationships into most any search engine and you will be taken forthwith to a dating site. As important as this relationship is to most of us, it is not the only or the most important relationship we might have. Many people rely on the romantic relationship and fail to develop another more important relationship – their connection with themselves.

Humans, like most vertebrates, begin life with our primary relationship being our relationship with our parents. Sometimes this is one parent sometimes two; sometimes the primary caregiver is a non-biological person. That first relationship sets the pattern for the rest of our relationships. We store a blueprint away in our brain and often we keep reproducing that first primary relationship in every human connection we have afterward. Just because that relationship is good or bad does not control the quality of all relationships afterward. We can learn new patterns of relating to others.

Our early years are spent developing relationships beyond that one close caregiver we are so dependant on. Children who have unreliable or impaired caregivers find it difficult to develop functional relationships with others in their lives. Their blueprints for life have smudges and missing lines where things they should have learned about relationships were left out. Sometimes the lines were drawn incorrectly such as when the primary caregiver abuses or neglects the child. In those situations, we may begin to think that things are normal and acceptable even when they are severely dysfunctional.

Even when the primary caregiver does a good job of meeting a child’s needs the person may get some of the lessons wrong. As a therapist I spend a lot of time helping people correct these blueprints, sort out the things they learned that are not so and we look for missing parts of that life blueprint, the lessons not learned.

Beyond the first lessons with that original caregiver, most of us learn by relating to others. The first five or so years are spent with close family, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relations. Eventually, there will be relationships with non-relatives, friends, and neighbors.  Some of these relationships will be helpful, some will not.

During our school years we might learn some lessons from teachers and other unrelated adults, most often we learn from peers. Those other kids our own age that were struggling to grow up and find their way in life taught us lessons even when they didn’t know the answers. Many of our likes and dislikes our habits and needs were formed at this stage. We rarely look back to examine the changes to the life blueprint during those years. Not until part of our structure collapses in divorce, addiction or a relationship failure do we have a reason to check our life blueprint.

The relationship most of us neglect is that one relationship which we should pay the most attention to – our relationship with ourselves. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you will be there. Do you like yourself? Would you want you for a best friend? Make friends with yourself. Spend time getting to know you. Learn to treat yourself the way you would want others to treat you. Become your own best friend.

So often when we are sad, depressed or anxious we crave a good fulfilling relationship. Often we reach out for another human, thinking that if we just found that one person that could love us enough, then we would be healed. That seems to only work in fiction. Two sick people do not make for a healthy relationship. To have a healthy happy relationship you need two healthy people. So before you go looking for a partner to fill in the missing pieces of your soul consider first getting to know yourself and become your own best friend.

Having children for the sake of making you happy all too often results in a short-term pleasure and long-term unhappiness. Sex and drugs are not a substitute for a happy inside. There are too many people who grew up in homes where their parent’s never learned to be happy and where they inherited the family blueprint for dysfunctional living, that constant search for something outside of yourself that will make you happy.

Before you begin your search for that one special person to fill your life, please work on the relationship with that one special person you already know – you.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.