Category: Blog

It’s All Right to Have Separate Territories

It’s All Right to Have Separate Territories

When Michael and I first started working on getting our dysfunctional relationship back on track, we opened up separate checking accounts. Neither of us talked to the other when we withdrew money from our joint account. If either of us felt angry about this, we just stuffed it. As a matter of fact we didn’t talk about money period because we didn’t know how to! We were so focused on each other, or as psychotherapists say, enmeshed, that neither of us knew where the other ended and we, as individuals, began. Separate checking accounts forced us to reclaim our individuality and discuss money matters. 

My closet was also a source of disagreement for years, because, to this day, periodically it becomes impossible to get into. 

I have clothes strewn in piles all over the floor and sometimes they appear to be creeping out into the bedroom! We’ve even referred to the disaster in my closet as “the creature”. During the early years Michael would go into my closet to straighten it up. Afterwards, I wouldn’t be able to find a thing. Instead of expressing my feelings about this, I would stuff them.

​I knew Michael was trying to help and I feared sharing with him how upset I really was when he went into my closet and moved my things around. My sloppy system worked for me and each time he would organize it the way he thought it should be, I was an emotional wreck because I couldn’t find anything. It was my responsibility to set limits and boundaries in our relationship by saying, ‘Please stay out of my closet.” 

It’s important to respect one another’s personal belongings and private items. It’s also important to speak up and communicate with one another when we feel we are not being respected or in some cases, violated with regard to our personal space and belongings. Mind-reading doesn’t work in a relationship and, in the long run, expectation of it causes misunderstanding and difficulty between partners in a relationship. Respecting each other’s boundaries is essential for a relationship to work.

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It’s All Right to Say “No? to Sex

It’s All Right to Say “No? to Sex

There are times in every relationship when sex takes a backseat. During these “dry? periods we need to respect our mate when told, “No honey, not tonight.? To make our partner feel badly about not giving into sex builds resentments and kills intimacy. Kids, job pressures, illness and stress can bring the sex drive to a screeching halt. If we are concerned over a lack of sexual activity, it’s also our responsibility to speak up. 

When we are uncomfortable participating in particular sexual acts, it’s our responsibility to say “no?. If there is sexual difficulty, dysfunction, affairs, cyber-sex or pornography addiction in a relationship, it’s important for both partners to seek help with a good therapist, a clergy person, support group, or in some cases, intensive treatment.

With outside help, couples can slowly begin rebuilding the relationship. At times, it may be necessary to abstain from sexual activity altogether for a period of time, so that true intimacy can be developed between the partners.

​Learning how to be friends again can be an important part of the healing process. Trust has been lost and healthy communication is gone by the time most couples realize that the relationship is in trouble. Trying to be sexual with a partner we are upset with – when we don’t want to be, damages intimacy. Setting up sexual boundaries, rebuilding communication and trust provides the foundation for a healthy relationship. Initially it may appear that there is more disagreement going on than before and that things are getting worse. In reality this is a healthy sign because during this time issues are being resolved and boundaries are being set. Boundary building involves trial and error and conflict. It also indicates that both partners are taking care of themselves. Eventually the conflict levels out as a new and exciting relationship based on healthy intimacy emerges – including healthy sexual intimacy.

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It’s All Right to Have Fun in a Relationship

It’s All Right to Have Fun in a Relationship

In the early years, once Michael and I discovered our relationship was in trouble and in need of repair, neither of us knew having fun was a part of the rebuilding process. Couples need to take a break every now and then from the intensity of the healing process, just to learn how to enjoy each other and play. We always suggest couples have a date night once a week and take short vacations together. 

In our case, Michael and I had rarely taken vacations because we were both fearful of spending too much time together. In order to get reacquainted with one another, we started by taking week-end trips alone together to the seashore or the hill country. At first it was hard because we had to really talk to one another! There wasn’t anything to distract us from our relationship. Instead we had to work on communicating, listening, negotiating and really being there for each other. Eventually we began to really enjoy each other on date nights and mini vacations.

Today, we often take small trips for the sheer pleasure of just being alone together. We also continue to have a date night each week. One week Michael is responsible for planning our date while the following week, the way we spend our night out is up to me. We’ve had some great new experiences together and experimented with different leisure activities over the years. 

During the healing process, playtime brings a break of lightness into the relationship. Once intimacy is established together time keeps the relationship fresh. It’s important to remember that we are never too old to play and that learning how to enjoy life with a partner builds healthy intimacy.

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