Relationships

Relationships – come in all forms; family relationships, parental relationships, dating relationships, work relationships, relationships with friends, social relationships, club and institutional relationships, religious and/or spiritual relationships and relationships with acquaintances. We are usually involved in at least one of these relationships and probably more, of course, unless you are a hermit, in which case you wouldn’t have landed on the “Relationship” page of this website.

Whatever the relationship the most important aspect is the health of the relationship, and determining whether or not it is healthy for you. Now, most relationships are not perfect and from time to time there will be difficulties. Often these difficulties sort themselves out with some work by the parties involved. However, there are times that a relationship can become dysfunctional (not working) for a variety of reason, often what we bring from our own families or experience.

So, if you are wondering why your relationship is not working and perhaps unhealthy, we encourage you to go to the “Relational Violence section and work through the worksheets. They will assist you in determining how healthy your relationship is. It is important to be honest with yourself, no one will know how you answered the questions, but being truthful with yourself could be the healthiest thing you could do – for you!

What is an Emotional Affair?

Emotional affairs often make their appearance through innocent “chit chatting” in a social group or at work. Whether by the “water cooler”, the lunchroom, or over coffee at the coffee shop these chats grow into meaningful conversations. Thoughts of “they really understand me”, “they know how I feel”, “they get it, but my partner does not”, “why didn’t I meet this person first” start to invade the mind. These thoughts often lead to a desire to have more meaningful conversations and before one knows it they lead to longer and longer discussion times. These times appear to benefit both individuals and create a connection. Over time the home front takes on less and less significance for the person having the emotional affair. Often the marriage partner is viewed as distant, non-caring, and unapproachable. Arguing and family distress are often the outcome of an emotional affair, with the non-offending marital partner being confused as to what is happening and often blame themselves for the breakdown of the relationship.

If you have had an emotional affair or are the partner of someone having an emotional affair remember that it is possible to turn things around. We are committed to helping you avoid or turn around an emotional affair.

What is a Sexual Affair?

Sexual affairs are often the outcome of an emotional affair carrying on to the next stage of intimacy. Having convinced oneself that this person really understands me and cares for me then why shouldn’t I have sex with them? After all it just a natural progression, isn’t it? Often people have to fool themselves into taking this step or justifying it because they perceive some kind of commitment on the part of the person they are having the affair with. For those anxiously wanting a fresh start the sad truth (in our experience with clients) is that most will be disappointed for very few people leave their partners for the person they are having an affair with. There is a lot of truth in “talk is cheap”. For those individuals who do leave their marriages, research has shown that the likelihood of this relationship lasting more than 2 years is extremely low, approximately less than 11%.

Sometimes sexual affairs occur because one or the other partner wants to experiment with other forms of sexual intimacy. Many do not consider the risks they are taking and implications for their health, especially if they have unprotected sex. This can result in giving their marriage partner a STD, STI or even HIV.

Before you consider a sexual affair or want to end one, call us so we can work together to help you make healthier decisions for yourself and your partner.

Blended Families

As a result of separation and divorce rates being high, individuals choosing to enter into a second relationship will find there is a high probability that the new relationship may end in separation or divorce as well. Blended families have become an integral part of the Canadian family landscape. Step and blended families are the families of the new millennium. There will soon be more step and blended families than intact, original or nuclear families.

Close to 40% of all marriages end in divorce in Canada and of these marriages 75% remarry or re-couple. Of these remarried families 66% end in divorce when children are involved (www.stepfamilies.org). The impacts of family breakdown on children are varied and serious; many children experience persistent academic, social, emotional, financial and relationship difficulties as a result. (Read: The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Judith Wallerstein)

When couples form a new marital relationship it can be a time of new learning and unexpected conflict. Culture, family background, economic class, values, religious beliefs, and styles of working out conflict can be factors that impact the new family. Often disagreements arise as children are expected to get along and parents are disappointed when this is not the case. Children coming from different backgrounds and different styles of parenting begin to be in conflict with each other as they may defend which way is the “right” way of doing things. Parents often find it difficult to cope with this and wonder if they have made a mistake. While learning to live together can be difficult, blended families also have the potential of forming rich and lasting relationships.

Let us be a resource in your process of becoming a blended family, call us today.

Chronic Illness, Critical Illness and Accidents

As children we learn about “fairy tale endings”, especially the endings in Disney movies where their characters almost always “live happily ever after”. Unfortunately real life does not always resemble these lifestyles. Most of us do not wake up in the morning and say to ourselves “today, I will put a critical or chronic illness or accident on my ‘to do’ list. Rarely would one find any of these on a “bucket” list. Consequently, because they are things we do not plan on, when they do happen we are caught off guard. In an instant our lives can become tumultuous and chaotic. We are in crisis and we need both help and hope. We need to find new ways of coping with our “new reality” – the one we did not anticipate. We can provide you with strategies to help you cope, suggest resources, support you in your journey, and provide a way to vent and process how you are feeling. Let us show you how.

Pre-marriage Counselling

ACT Associates provides Pre-Marriage counselling weekend workshops 3 times a year. These workshops address the areas of struggle couples find themselves arguing about early on in their relationships. Utilizing the Prepare Enrich material, Myers-Briggs Type Indicators, Family System Genograms, issues of sexual dysfunction and intimacy as well as addressing addiction issues, couples are able to discuss and explore issues before the wedding.
Workshops are held in February, May and October each year and run from Friday at 7 PM through to Saturday at 9 PM. For specific dates and locations, give us a call or email us.

Strengthening Your Marriage

Perhaps your marriage is going pretty well. Things are fine, no big disagreements, and all is well. Good! Whatever worked to getting your relationship “pretty good” we encourage you to keep doing it. Sometimes it is just as important to know what works and why it works as it is to know what doesn’t work and why. Now, you know and we know that sometimes things change, a child goes to university (and that is a difficult adjustment), communication is not working as well as it once did, conflicts appear more frequent, your partner is communicating with their smart phone more often than communicating with you, or one or both of you would rather be at work than at home.

Well these things can become barriers, but they need not destroy the relationship. Our experience has shown that by learning new ways of interacting, by supporting each other, and by committing to your marriage can it be all you have hoped, dreamed and desired. Come, call us today and let us help you strengthen your marriage.

Separation and Divorce

As much as we hate to admit it, relationships do breakdown for one reason or another. The causes are many and usually fall into one or more of the following categories: communication breakdown, verbal and domestic abuse, affairs, pornography, coping with mental illness or physical illness, addictions, differing parenting styles, unforeseen accidents or critical injuries, all which weaken a relationship sometimes to the point of dissolution.

Our country has seen a tremendous increase in divorce and these statistics are frightening. In 2001 (which is the last year divorce statistics are available), across our country there were 71,783 divorces, of which 26,577 occurred in Ontario.

After 3 years of marriage, the divorce rate was the highest at 26.2% per 1,000 couples. The rate then declined slightly for each of the following years.

According to multiple studies, more than 1/3 or 37.7% of all marriages in Canada will end in divorce before the thirtieth anniversary and when they do end, the impact is significant for individuals.

  • 2006 – 1,629,490 divorced Canadians – 5% of the population with over half of these are females.
  • 43% females and 15% of males experienced a financial decline.
  • Divorced or separated men between 20-64 years of age are 6 times more likely to experience depression.
  • Divorced or separated females are 3.5 times more likely to experience depression.
  • 2006 – 15.9% of all families are female-led single parent families.

Individuals who end a relationship, tend to re-marry and re-divorce according to Statistics Canada at a relatively high rate.

Previously divorced 1973 2003
Men 5.2% 16.2%
Women 5.4% 16.2%

 
However, common-law relationships can also be problematic and the problems appear to be on the rise. The first year that statistics were available for common-law relationships was 1981 with 6% of all couples living common-law. In 2001, 14% of all couples reported living common-law; however, common-law relationships are no guarantee that they too won’t end.

Relationships take work. Whether you are dating, beginning your life together in marriage, or now learning to live together since the children have all left home, we are here to help you create the type of relationship that you want.

Yes, relationships take work. Divorce does not have to be the end result. If you think your marriage is heading for a crash on the rocks, look again and let us be the lighthouse that signals a way to a safe harbour. Let us guide you to decisions that will restore your marriage or create the kind of marriage you hoped for.

Affairs

Ah, yes affairs! What we at ACT Associates like to call “the grass is always greener syndrome”. Why does the grass always seem greener on the other side? Perhaps the “perfect” marriage did not pan out the way you imagined it would, perhaps the laundry trail throughout the house is getting to you, perhaps there seems to be no more time because of the demands of children, perhaps romance has taken a long vacation, perhaps sports channels or shopping channels offer more excitement or perhaps it just seems like too much work. Sound familiar? Most couples have experienced these situations in their marriage when primary needs go unmet and individuals can no longer accept life as they are living it.

So the alternative for some people – an affair! It can be either the emotional kind or the sexual kind and sometimes both. However, it does come at a cost. That cost is a breach of trust, where the commitment to the partner is broken and violated. Sound harsh? It should be – this is serious stuff.

What we do know is that affairs are a form of getting needs met, and please note we would like to indicate affairs are an unhealthy way of getting needs met. Affairs become possible if one or more of the following conditions exist:

  1. A tolerant attitude toward the possibility of the affair.
  2. The opportunity for the affair to happen.
  3. The presence of extra-marital models.
  4. A time of mental rehearsing about how the affair will take place.
  5. The consummation of the affair. (Atwater 1982).

Affairs can develop in many ways, but the choice is always with the individual. Our experience has shown that individuals can make choices to avert an affair before trust is broken.

Well what happens when trust is broken? Can it ever be salvaged? Can it ever be rebuilt? We would say, YES! However, we recognize that not all people deal with affairs in the same way and that separation or divorce can be an outcome. But, let’s stick to the positive, trust can be regained providing that both partners commit to hard work and a commitment to change what is not working in their relationship. All the reasons that a partner looks outside of the marriage can be changed.

We would like to put a disclaimer in here and that is if the partner who is having the affair does not choose to change by ending the affair immediately or is not willing to work on the marriage then it may be that another affair is just a matter of time.