Exhausted

Are you exhausted yet?

Exhausted yet?

Aside from the emotional stuff, you are also dealing with concrete issues. Your work has changed. You’re possibly on unemployment, if you’ve successfully filed your claims. You feel a great deal of uncertainty. You’re not sure where you will get money for food and necessities for your family.

It’s no wonder you’re tired. Staring at a screen all day, most likely, messes with your eyeballs and with your brain. Your sleep is off and when you do sleep, the dreams keep on coming.

What in the world can be done about all of this?

There’s no advice I will give you that is going to be a game-changer. I’m also not the advice lady. I’m more the help-you-look-inward lady. The I’ll-sit-with-you-when-you’re-breaking-down lady.

Besides, you read all the click-bait. The 10 tips for multi-tasking or the 5 tips for feeling exhausted. You know they don’t work. You’ve either tried them all or you think they’re way too cheesy for you.

Does it make you feel any better that I fall into both of those categories? That certain brands of cheesiness don’t sit right with me either? Believe me when I say that I get where you’re coming from. I hear it from my clients all the time – that nothing is working right now.

The best thing I can do for you now is give you support. It’s all I have right now. That support involves me listening to you.  And hearing you.  And getting you.

It’s not the same as the olden days, just a couple of months ago, when I sat in a room with clients and listened to their struggles. We have a screen between us now, but we can still see each other and hear each other.

What I see during this time is that if you have a pattern of coping when the crap hits the fan, you’re acting out that same pattern right now. Because if this isn’t crap hitting a fan, then what is? This is the most bizarre-o-land situation most of us ever dealt with. I had to say *most* because you’ve likely seen some stuff in your life. In this case, though, everyone around us is going through this all at the same time.

But about those pesky patterns…

If you’re someone who gets handed a load of crappy crap to deal with, you react to it in your own unique way. Some of you take the load and burrow away in your bed, pull the covers up, and will it away. Or pretend it’s not happening. Or refuse to get out until it’s all over. You are so mentally exhausted from all of the juggling.  Some of you channel that energy into worrying. And worrying. And worrying a little more. Because if you just worry about it, that’s really going to help. (I know that doesn’t work too well.)

There is no shame in needing someone to talk to right now. Someone who’s not your mom or your friend or your work wife or work husband. Is it possible to take this load of crappy crap we’ve all been dealt and see it as an opportunity? My hunch is that you had some patterns that weren’t working out for you long before this happened. And you put off getting some help. But maybe now is that opportunity. You want to do this crisis different than you’ve done the last one. Or the last twenty.

You’re not alone here

A lot has happened since then, but I wrote another blog post about the exhaustion of keeping up a frenetic pace.  You can read that here.

I’m around for a phone or video consultation if you are tired of feeling exhausted.  change is now. Or even the contemplation of making a change. Whatever pre-conceived notions you have about talking to a therapist online – just push them aside for a moment.  I know you’re exhausted right now.  You don’t have to be.  Let’s connect and see if we are a good fit. Send me an email at cmgsnyder@gmail.com. Looking forward to meeting you.

Financial Infidelity – Part Two

Financial infidelity money stories

Recently, I published a blog post about financial infidelity. It contained a broad overview of how our behavior with money manifests in relationships. This current post is part two of a three-part series about financial infidelity. If you’d like to see part one, please click here to read it.

In my first post, I wrote that there are two ingredients that need attention if we want to understand financial infidelity in ourselves or in our partner. By first understanding, we will get closer to managing our feelings about it. Those two ingredients are : 1) our money stories and 2) how we conceptualize transparency in our relationships. Because both topics require more specific explanation, I decided to dedicate blog posts to each topic.

What is meant by our money stories?

We develop a relationship with money, just like we develop relationships with people. These relationships could be healthy and satisfying or harmful and toxic. Usually we learn by observing our family’s spending habits. To look more deeply at your family’s behavior, consider these questions in your family growing up:

* Did you have enough money for basic necessities?

* Did your parents earn a high income, but you were forbidden to use the money?  

* Was money spent frivolously and not used for things you really needed?

* Were your parents or those who raised you employed?

* Did those who raised you have an adequate income? 

* Were your parents or those who raised you overly concerned about what others thought about them?

Many of these are yes or no questions.  Each question has a story to go along with it. This story is the plot line of your money story.  For example, maybe your family could not afford basic necessities. You observed conflict about spending in the house or you heard bill collectors calling your home. Your utilities were periodically cut off in your house. Maybe you didn’t have ample food to eat or you were unable to bring friends into your home as a child. Perhaps you experienced homelessness as a child or needed public assistance for food or living expenses. As a result of some of these experiences, you developed strong emotions about money.

What do I do with this information now?

These strong emotions led you to develop certain attitudes about money, some of which you heard growing up. Whether you learned that wealthy people are “evil” or that needy people are “lazy”, our family influenced us on some level. We sometimes grow to agree with some of the things we heard or we do a complete 180 and say that we will never share those attitudes.

Attitudes about money also sometimes influence career choices or how you go about earning a living. Did you say to yourself at some point, “I will never struggle like my parents did?” Or were you embarrassed by the extravagant items your parents bought? You might experience some emptiness in your career satisfaction if you find that you entered a career solely based on earning a high income.

Some of the emotions you may feel about money include disgust or shame. For example, if your family lacked money for basic necessities, you might still feel shame about not having enough. This may even cause you to feel “not good enough” as an adult. Conversely, if your family had an abundance of money, you might have felt disgust at the material items they purchased. Or you might feel annoyed by how much their cared about their own image.

Our feelings and attitudes about money influence our behavior with it. When we are in a relationship with someone, our money story is playing out, especially if we share a household. We act out what we learn.  Our fears of not having enough money sometimes cause us to withhold intimate financial details from our partners. In a similar way, a desire for to be seen in a certain light might cause us to purchase items without the partner’s knowledge.

How can I get some help with this?

When addressing situations where we withhold information from our partner or they are not sharing themselves fully with us, it’s important to examine our own money stories. If you recognize this pattern in your relationship and you think it’s time you started therapy, please reach out to me at cmgsnyder@gmail.com. Currently, I see clients online and can work with anyone located in the state of New Jersey. When life resumes some sense of normalcy, I will return to my office in Livingston, but will continue online therapy for clients who are more comfortable with that option.

 

Teletherapy: How Does It Work?

Teletherapy laptop; acquired from Pexels, no attribution required

Does anyone feel like they are really crushing it lately?  Chances are, in our day-to-day, we know people who act like they are on top of the world.  But the world has been a surreal place these days.  If you told anyone we’d be dealing with a quarantine due to a complicated virus a couple of months ago, no one would have ever believed it.  I bet you never believed you’d click on a blog post about teletherapy either.

Now that it’s been going on for over a month, depending on what state you’re in, you’re feeling feelings.  You’ve been feeling them all along.  And you’ve been feeling them long before this was even a blip on the radar.

Isolated from our extended families, friends, coworkers, and even the random chit-chat of strangers, you’re finding yourself irritable, angry, tearful, anxious, worried…Basically, I could word-vomit every emotion here because it’s a safe bet that you are all over the place.  Things you didn’t think you missed are popping into your mind.

You also might be bogged down by sleep disturbances, bizarre dreams, a lack of motivation, and exhaustion.  Which all make sense, given the new hats you’re wearing at home.  You’re working all the time now and helping your kids learn some new-fangled math you never saw before.  Simultaneously, you’re juggling laundry, dishes, meal prep, food shopping, caring for aging parents.  Again, I could go on, but you get the drift.

These things aren’t going to all go away overnight.  We’re in this for the long haul, most likely.  Even when we resume whatever “normal” looks like, our feelings won’t vanish.  This quarantine is shining a light on concerns you’ve had all along.  Being faced with the silence brings up things you wanted to ignore.  Fears of not being enough.  Temptations to connect with old flames on social media.  Managing your marriage and an extramarital relationship.  Concerns about whether you want to stay in your relationship.  A feeling that you’re done feeling “this way”, whatever “this way” means for you.

While therapy isn’t about getting hold of a magic wand and transforming yourself overnight, it can help you feel something different rather quickly.  This connection you make with another human being who is not your friend or family member can be comforting in the short term and transformative in the medium-to-long term.  The magic doesn’t even always happen during a session, but the wallop of a light-bulb moment can hit you at the most random time.

Now is a great time to start.  And yes, the vast majority of us are doing teletherapy now.  We are concerned for your safety as well as our own and we’ll get back into the office when it’s the appropriate time.  Why stay stuck in your life longer than you need to be?  Therapy won’t magically dissolve all of the juggling you’re doing right now, but it could help you feel better doing it.  It might even make you better at it.

You might be asking, how does this work, this teletherapy?  And why should I try it now?

If you were considering whether we’d be a good fit to work together, we can have a brief consultation and go from there.  Typically, I do a 15-minute consultation with you by phone or via Doxy.me, the secure online platform I use for teletherapy.  We’d set a regular appointment time and meet regularly via video or telephone if that’s your preference.

Most of us therapists love being in the room with clients.  There’s an energy I feel from the instant I welcome a client into my office.  It tells me so much about where you’re at emotionally.  And the colleagues I talk with regularly are missing that very much.  But there are some benefits to meeting you this way, too.

You can do a session with me anywhere, as long as you have reliable internet or phone service.  You can be in your jammies, have your dog or kitty on your lap, and enjoy your favorite beverage during our session.  Not only are you more comfortable, but it also gives me an interesting view into your real life.  You can even call me from your yard or your car if those are places you have the most privacy.

If you have any questions about teletherapy or if you think you’re ready to begin, I’d love to hear from you.  Email is best:  cmgsnyder@gmail.com. 

You might also want to check out more about my practice here:

How I Can Help

Because of state licensure regulations, I am only able to practice in states I am licensed so even if you aren’t local to my physical office in Livingston, NJ, I can work with clients anywhere in the state.

Financial Infidelity – Part One

Financial Infidelity

Financial infidelity has been an area that’s interested me for some time. I wrote this blog post several weeks ago – before a quarantine was even on our radar.

We are now going through a massive global health crisis that causes many of us to feel emotionally unstable. I’d bet very few people say they are feeling great right now. There are so many complicated emotions about what we are dealing with. So much fear and uncertainty about the health of ourselves and our loved ones. Financial concerns are also abounding due to the potential instability of our economy.

I’ve been at a loss about putting out a post about something other than Covid-19. Obviously it is on the minds of all of us. Considering that many people have lost their jobs or sources of income, there might be some relevance to posting this now.

What is so intriguing about this topic is that very few topics are as intimate as our interaction with money. Last month, the New York Times published an article about this very subject that once again, piqued my interest.

If you’re interested in checking it out, here’s a link to the article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/14/parenting/financial-infidelity.html?searchResultPosition=1

Financial infidelity, like affairs, can be defined in many different ways. It can mean so many different things to so many different people. Generally, financial infidelity could be defined as withholding certain details about finances from one’s partner. This involves one’s spending habits or whether someone is paying the bills as agreed upon. This could mean buying items in excess of what was planned and then hiding evidence of those items.  It could also mean taking out a loan or a credit card without informing the other partner or using money to gamble with, indulge in pornography, or buy drugs or alcohol with.

The article I shared above is typical of most articles on this subject. They always contain stories about doing something behind the back of your partner. But rather than dig into the emotional reasons that someone is pulled to deceive the other, they interview a marketing professional, provide data from a bank that seems to be in everyone’s neighborhood these days, and get the opinion of the head of a wealth management company. The closest they get to emotions is a quote from a financial coach. I had some high hopes about what he was going to contribute, but his advice involved the ambiguous “get your partner to do x, y, and z.” But selling your partner on a behavior isn’t what relationships are all about. It becomes more about creating a sales pitch to your partner than truly digging into what is driving their emotional train (and yours!) behind these behaviors.

I’m going to contribute my two-cents (sorry – I couldn’t avoid a money-oriented pun here!) from the perspective of a mental health professional. There’s an undercurrent to our emotions and behaviors that is worth exploring. This undercurrent causes us to eat when we know we aren’t hungry, curb our drinking when we know we drink for the wrong reasons, and spend money when we know we should save.

If financial infidelity is occurring in your relationship, changing it requires a clearer understanding why you are (or your partner is) concealing financial information or transactions.

There are two areas that I’d like to spend more time discussing that will appear in future blog posts.  The two areas to consider thinking about are:

1) our money stories and

2) what transparency means to us in our relationships.

If you or your partner is struggling with transparency in your relationship and you would like to consider working with me to resolve this, please contact me at cmgsnyder@gmail.com. My practice is located in Livingston, New Jersey. Due to the quarantine, I am providing services on a secure, online platform to clients anywhere in the state of New Jersey.

Covid-19 and Self-Care during Isolation

Self-care downloaded from Pexels

Covid-19, also known as Coronavirus, has been responsible for tragedy and chaos throughout the world for the last couple of months.  It’s not necessary for me to say anything about the science of this.  First of all, I have no authority to speak on anything related to virology.  And secondly, by the time you read this, you’ll find that what is being learned is changing on a daily basis.

Due to the highly contagious nature of Covid-19, countries all over the world have implemented strict isolation orders.  A few weeks before Covid began showing up here in the United States, videos circulated of spirited Italians singing from balconies to both comfort one another and help pass the time.  This isolation has caused the routines of almost everyone to come to a screeching halt.

Our day-to-day routines have changed, but so has the focus on habits like hand-washing and sanitizing.  Fear of catching Covid-19 from a surface or by breathing in germs has caused us to load up on hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.  Might as well throw in there the panic of shopping for the ever-elusive toilet paper or worrying about food shortages.

These changes have caused us to spend extra time preparing – running from store to store for products the last store didn’t have – and also getting ourselves prepared to transition ourselves to working from home.

Time is one of our most precious commodities.  Being isolated, both our time-management and our sense of time stresses our emotions.  We might have expected to have loads of free time while isolated, but we are finding that the isolation comes with new stressors and work expectations.  Now is an excellent time to tend to our self-care.

It’s no wonder that you might be feeling anxious or depressed. The isolation combined with uncertainty about the potential havoc of Covid-19 can wreak havoc on our emotions. While many of us have joked about our introverted tendencies at times, I find myself missing those tiny interactions I have in the world everyday. The banter with the barista, the pleasantries exchanged with a stranger in the gym, the transaction with someone I bumped with my basket in Target. These things are not happening right now and for some people, life without these exchanges can feel pretty lonely. Even if you are sheltered in your home with those you truly love.

The situation we are facing is not a vacation. Sure, we’ve probably spent days on end in yoga pants or pajamas (OK, well, I’m pretty sure it’s just not in my house), but most people have found this a time of juggling. Parents have found themselves taking on the role of teacher if they have school-age children at home. That’s on top of an expectation to stay connected to an already stress-riddled job. Single parents are doing it alone and even in homes with two parents, stress could feel unbearable at times. It is also a challenge for parents to explain the Covid-19 situation to their children in an age-appropriate matter and be there for them emotionally when they might feel together themselves.

There are also always dishes to wash and meals to prepare and clean up. Almost everyone I have spoken with has said their life has gotten rather difficult lately.   Those who work in healthcare are dealing with an even more difficult burden. Some people who are on the front lines are either sleeping at their workplaces or quarantining themselves from their family members to prevent transmission of Covid-19 to them.

There are some ways to make this time a little easier to get through this time of the unknown.

  • Take a shower. Sometimes getting bogged down in the daily scramble causes people to get lax about basic hygiene. Grabbing a few moments away from your laptop, your children, your partner, and your children’s and partner’s laptops can make a difference in your outlook.
  • Get dressed. This probably goes hand-in-hand with showering. But especially if you’re in a position to work remotely on video with other people, presenting yourself in close approximation to your in-person life might feel better.
  • Take a social media break. We use social media for all sorts of reasons, but probably one of the most common ones is boredom. Not that we don’t have something better to do, but it can be a distraction from things that take a little more mental energy. Chances are, you’ve seen the same memes going around repeatedly you probably won’t miss much if you get away for an hour.  Constant focus on fear of contracting COVID-19 isn’t helping your emotional health.
  • Unplug everything. Take some time and just unplug everything. Our constant accessibility causes enough mental clutter in normal circumstances and clogs our head now more than ever. Spend some time with people you live with without a screen in the conversation. Meditation and prayer are great ways to spend time inwardly focused.
  • Go outside. As long as you have a reasonable distance between yourself and others, exposure to sunlight and fresh air is always a pick-me-up.
  • Make a new recipe. Remember the recipe you saved for when you had the chance to make it? Now is the time to try something new. It’s also hard to scroll on your phone when your hands are chopping and mixing!
  • Tackle something. Everyone has a project they put off in their home. When you’re already working and trying to help your child with school work, you might not have time for the closet overhaul or the room re-design you planned. Something simple like cleaning out a drawer or re-arranging papers gives you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Take a break for creativity.  Every human being possesses some form of creativity.  Use this time to set it free!
  • Call someone. There is no end to how to occupy yourself during this time, especially if you use social media. There’s a never ending live-stream this or Zoom-meeting that. You can easily fill your day consuming content on social media or watching stuff on a streaming service. Chances are, you can make someone feel less lonely by calling a friend. Now is a great time to catch up with someone you haven’t talked to in a long time.

Hopefully these suggestions are helpful in navigating your time at home. This is a confusing time for all of us.  It’s OK to not feel like yourself right now. You are doing your best.

If you are overwhelmed or struggling to manage relationships, I am currently seeing clients for teletherapy on a secure online platform. Please reach out to me at cmgsnyder@gmail.com

Discovery of a Partner’s Infidelity

“When will I stop feeling so lost? The discovery that my husband had been with someone other than me and seeing the evidence right in front of me was like getting kicked in the stomach. It has sent me into a tailspin and I don’t know what to do.” This brief snippet is not a real quote from a client, but an amalgam of conversations I have had with clients.

There is never a cookie-cutter way these conversations go. Sometimes the genders vary. People who share the experiences are not always married. They might be in their 20s or in their 70s. There are sometimes children or a home or complications like caring for a dying relative or a business the couple runs together. These variables are both important and also unique. These pieces make you who you are and provide a context for understanding the pain of this discovery.

As the immediate dust begins to settle, your heart rate slowly starts to come down, and you breathe, you are angry. It’s possible that you’ve had a feeling that things are not quite right between you and your partner. Part of you may find that you had a sense, but you didn’t want to touch the white-hot pain that such a reality would invite into your world.

You’ve experienced inconsistencies in your partner’s schedule, new patterns of phone usage, new smells on them when they come home. Your relationship, like everyone’s has some predictability. You know if you bring up the ways your partner’s behavior is different, there may be defensiveness or unkind words, a slammed door, or a swift exit. Your partner has possibly even hit you or damaged your property. You’ve done everything in your power to avoid these sorts of interactions, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable.

There is also no quick fix to getting through the discovery of a betrayal without experiencing intense feelings that don’t feel very good. Most of us want to avoid emotions like anger, sadness, or fear as much as possible. But sometimes, it is in these moments when we feel our worst that change happens. This may be a relationship that you have had reservations about continuing. Or it may be one that you or your spouse is aware that changes need to occur and neither of you has been able to implement those changes. If you’re in the throes of a recent discovery, it may be hard to envision any semblance of peace, but infidelity expert Esther Perel writes in her book that it may be helpful to see this tragic life event as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity, as she would say, for something new to happen. You may work toward rebuilding the current relationship or begin to look within and work on yourself.

Some things to be mindful of as you are going through the discovery of a betrayal:

Take Your Time

Because of how terrible you feel, you want to get through this process quickly. You don’t want to cry. You don’t want to feel angry. You don’t want to be alone. You don’t want any of it. And who could blame you? It feels horrible. But please be patient with yourself. Going through any ordeal involving our emotions takes longer than we want it to. It also might be best to not rush into another relationship before you are over the emotions of the last one. Think about any long illness or injury you’ve had and remember how long it took to heal your physical body. Healing your heart will also take time, especially if it involves acclimating to spending time alone.

Self-Care

It might sound obvious, but you really need to take care of yourself. Getting through a betrayal, especially in the early stages, can interrupt your regular routine. You might have sleep difficulties or be sleeping too much as a way to avoid difficult feelings. Your exercise routine might have gone out the window or you might find your eating is off. Your alcohol or substance use might have increased during this time as well. It’s important to keep your life in balance, especially if you are taking care of children.

Being with Others

You might be tempted to isolate. At times like this, sometimes people feel shame or they want to keep things to themselves. There is no right or wrong way to handle these situations. While you are entitled to share whatever you feel comfortable with, putting up walls between yourself and trusted loved ones might also feel unpleasant. Some people find that being with friends and family who are healing influences can be a healthy distraction. Being alone sparingly to process your feelings or to rest can be good for you also. Finding the right balance that works for you is important.

Therapy

Going through this change in your life might trigger emotional confusion or losses you’ve had in the past. Meeting with a therapist to help you through this time could help you heal. A nonjudgmental and supportive therapist can help you understand your patterns and emotions and provide more long-term benefits than talking with your friends.

If you would like to consider the possibility of working together, please reach out to me via email at cmgsnyder@gmail.com or 201-248-5552. My practice is located in Livingston, New Jersey.

Feeling Wrecked by Betrayal

Feeling wrecked how people feel when they find that their partner has been unfaithful. Most people say that being cheated on by someone they trusted is one of the most painful experiences of their lives. It is hard to understand the feeling unless you have lived through it in some capacity. You want so desperately to stop feeling this way. Crying unpredictably. Heart palpitations. Difficulty concentrating.

You struggle so much that you aren’t sure you can envision what life will feel like when you get through this. It might be hard for you to remember a time when things were normal. A time when you could watch a show or read a book without getting tearful or being distracted. A time when you did fairly routine things like go to the gym or grocery shopping or paying bills without it feeling like pushing a rock up a mountain. You even find that you struggle with losing yourself in your work like you used to. It’s as if your whole identity has been rocked.

Secrecy

When you find the person you have been in a relationship with has been with someone else, this is not the sort of thing you are eager to share. In our social media heavy world, it’s unlikely you would reveal yourself in this way, even though you eagerly share so many intimate details about yourself. You typically check into various locations, take pictures of your delicious and photogenic meals, and share selfies periodically. You might feel that now that you’ve curbed your Instagram-worthy life, you worry that people will wonder what is happening in your life. They wonder why you used to share so many #couplegoals and now your partner is remarkably absent from your feed.

It gives me no pleasure to say that infidelity is increasingly common because there is a great deal of pain involved. In spite of how often it happens, there is still shame associated with it and it’s still the sort of thing that’s whispered about. Will she leave him? Will they stay together? The shame of being talked about can cause people a great deal of anxiety, even if you’re the type of person who doesn’t seem to care what other people think. You are mortified that your private life might be fodder for gossip. If you’re someone who is very open with your friends and coworkers and acquaintances, you might be concerned that your new tight-lipped persona might even cause people to wonder what’s going on. When people ask you how your spouse is doing, you might find yourself disengaging or flat-out lying because you want so badly to cover up what is going on for you lately.

What do I do now?

Infidelity causes you to question the future of your relationship. And in some ways, your entire future. You told each other you’d be together forever. You might have kids together. A mortgage. Dogs. It’s painful even without kids/mortgage/pets. What the hell do I do now? It is OK to not know what to do. The way you are feeling now is not the way you will feel forever.

There is no one-size-fits-all remedy for handling a situation like this. There might be lots of books out there telling you what to do. You might pick one up and take the advice of whatever the author suggests. But realistically, something else that is both hard for me to say and also hard for you to hear, is that it may be nearly impossible to avoid experiencing pain. Strong emotions abound and sometimes ugly words are said and people say things they might regret. Or not. Or you may say nothing or your spouse may say nothing.

I understand that as adults, we all enter relationships with a lifetime of expectations of how a relationship should go. And we’ve probably experienced heartbreak and betrayal to varying degrees. How our prior relationships have gone might influence how we move forward in the present one.   If you’ve run away in the past, maybe that’s what you’re inclined to do again. If you want to reconcile quickly, you might find yourself burying your hurt and pain to have the person back.

Even though it is a dreadfully painful time, when you find time and distance from this tragic event, it might look like a turning point in your life. Maybe as a result of this indescribable pain, you began to work on why you bury the hurt all the time or why you run away. Maybe you’ll find that some of your patterns are things you have always wanted to change about yourself and when the change evolves, you might have different perspective on the relationship. Your partner who departed from the relationship may also change, even though that is hard to digest right now.

There may be no concrete answers right now. Sometimes, it is very difficult to live in uncertainty and without access to a map or compass for your journey. People who love and care about you may want to tell you to “just divorce him” or “work it out”. You may choose to make those decisions at some point. But it is OK to not know what to do. In therapy, you are not told what to do. Those decisions are yours to make. But therapy allows for the space to mentally breathe. You might find that you are not sure what to do because you don’t really know yourself very well. This might be the time to start looking inward so that you know what next steps are best for you.

If you would like to explore the possibility of working with me, please reach out to me at cmgsnyder@gmail.com. I can also be reached at 201-248-5552. My practice is located in Livingston, New Jersey.

When Parents Cheat

When you learn of a partner’s infidelity, your head is spinning. Words don’t do justice to the tornado of emotions you feel. You might also find yourself vacillating between two or more emotional states within a matter of minutes. You might be feeling shock, anger, and sadness. At times, you might even feel relief that your suspicions have finally been confirmed.

These feeling are often amplified if you share children together.  You look at your children and you wonder how this happened.  How it happened that one of their parents has caused the other to feel the lowest they’ve ever felt.  Your marriage vows included promises to be faithful and you are in utter disbelief that your partner went back on that promise.  Not only has it led you to question how your relationship to continue, but it has also caused you to ask how you can now parent your children with someone you no longer trust.

There are no right or wrong answers in situations like this. Only what is best for you and your family. Sometimes it is important to weigh the options of what you share with others and it also may depend on whether you find particular people trustworthy enough to hold this sensitive information. If someone in your life has a reputation for being the town gossip, you may exercise restraint in what to share with that person.

One of the most difficult decisions to be made when you learn of your partner’s infidelity is whether to share this information with your children. And if you do, you consider how much information to share.

It pains you to not be fully transparent with your children because you’ve always said you would never lie to them. However, withholding sensitive details and blatantly creating an entirely different narrative feels like two ends of the spectrum. Chances are, your approach will reside somewhere in the middle for you.

Parents find themselves insisting on transparency with their children because their own parents lied to them. And they do not want their children to feel the same way as they did as children. Young people are savvy enough to understand from context clues in their environment that something feels different. As adults, they may find themselves struggling to discern their own feelings because their questions or experiences may have been invalidated by their parents. Perhaps their parents told them whatever they observed did not really happen. It leads to confusion for children.

As parents, sometimes you strive to raise your children differently than your own parents raised you. It is common to hear adults talk about their parents and say, “I will never do that to my children.” That runs the gamut from how they handle discipline to how to be there emotionally for their children. Humans are very much affected by what we experienced at young ages. And that includes how to (or whether to) divulge that their mother or father is involved in a relationship outside the home.

It is always interesting to hear from adults about how they learned of their parents’ infidelity when they were children. They might talk about how they met “dad’s friend” when they were very young. Or they have recollections of their mom emotionally exploding at their dad, which included some mention of a woman’s name. It was further confusing for them if they also knew and liked these people. It was hard for them to understand as children why mom or dad would be so incensed over a seemingly nice lady or nice man.

How you proceed with telling your own children also involves asking yourself whether you need to or not. You may decide that you have been able to keep a boundary with your children to not discuss any of this in front of them. And thus, you don’t see a need to tell them. Their age may also play a role in how or what you tell them. Or if you tell them. You may also decide to share this information with them when they get older and begin to be involved in relationships as adults.

Some things to consider are being mindful of how information is transmitted to your children if one of their parents is involved in a relationship. It does leave an impact on a child when they become a repository for a parent’s anger. You are entitled to being angry. But your child does not need to be exposed to unhealthy generalizations like “never trust anyone.” Statements like this, especially when they are expressed in frightening or confusing ways to children, can leave lasting impressions about how they understand healthy relationships in the future.

Navigating parenting is difficult enough. But if there is infidelity occurring, it makes everything feel so much more difficult. It is understandable that you feel angry and betrayed and confused. It can be helpful to utilize the services of a therapist during periods like this.

You can learn more about me at https://snyderlcsw.com/therapist/.  If you would like to consider the possibility of working with me, please email me at cmgsnyder@gmail.com or call me at 201-248-5552.

Holidays and Infidelity

Holiday stress

 

Holidays are stressful for mostly everyone. We often find ourselves over-extended. Our calendar may fill up quickly, causing us to juggle work parties, social gatherings for all the roles you play in life, ranging from your book club, to your church groups, to your volunteer activities. And these commitments multiply if you have children. We feel pressure to make holidays the most wonderful time of the year, not only for them, but perhaps something worthy of some humble bragging on social media.

Holidays can also do a number on our relationships. Even happy relationships can fall victim to the heightened expectations of the season. What do you buy for the special someone in your life? And what message will your gift convey? Will the other half be expecting the vehicle with the bow on top that causes your person to go weak in the knees? Are they expecting a proposal? Are you concerned that giving a certain item will suggest feelings deeper than what you actually feel?

An area of interest in my practice is infidelity and those affected by it. So at this time of year, I consider the myriad ways infidelity is both experienced and executed during this season of amplified expectations, stress on our schedule, and our bank account. Most people who have never experienced infidelity or been a friend to someone in that situation see these situations as solely about the “cheater” and the “cheated-on”. (Just a quick note…the usage of the word “cheating” as shorthand for infidelity isn’t my usual go-to and I try to avoid using it if possible.) But realistically, the subject is significantly more complex.

Consider the perspective of a single man in a relationship with a married woman. What he is dealing with, specifically during the holidays, does not tidily fit into the narrative of the way many conceptualize infidelity. Someone like this guy I’ll call Bob is dealing with stressors that are not visible unless you have an in-depth conversation with him. Bob is a guy I’ve created for the sake of this blog post and, while he does not represent any real client, his experiences are a composite of those I have worked with over the years.

So here is what Bob is dealing with at the holidays. But first, let’s learn a little bit of Bob’s back-story.

Bob has been divorced for about three years and has no children. He is 38 and works for an accounting department for a major corporation. Not only does he find satisfaction in his work, but he also is regularly recognized for his exemplary contributions and he is financially comfortable as a result.

Bob’s mom tells her friends she is proud of her son, but she would love to see him settle down with a nice woman. She doesn’t pressure him about grandchildren like her friends pressure their adult children. She tells her friends she just wants to see him happy, whatever that looks like for him.

What Bob’s mom doesn’t tell her lady friends is that Bob is in a relationship. They have been together for about eight months and Bob’s mom really likes her. Her name is Maureen. She has two adolescent children and she is married.

Bob’s mom keeps this relationship to herself. Not necessarily because she is ashamed of her son’s relationship, but revealing the nature of it comes with the understanding that it is not discussed. This adds to Bob’s stress during the holidays. His mother is the only one at the family Christmas gathering who knows about the existence of Maureen. For this, Bob is grateful. He appreciates that his mom respects his privacy and she does so with compassion and without judgment.

Not everyone in Bob’s family would be as compassionate. Bob knows he’d hear about it in many ways from family members if they found out about Maureen’s own relationship status. He gets enough ribbing from relatives about still being single, even when he tells them he’s dating, but hasn’t found the right person yet. Bob isn’t sure people would understand the position he’s in if they found out and historically, most people in his family are not what anyone would necessarily call “supportive”. They’ve always said they want the best for Bob, even when he was getting divorced, but he felt their judgment. In fact, he had heard through the family grapevine that his brother told their cousin that Bob was an idiot for leaving his wife.

So when it comes time for holidays, Bob puts on a brave face and pretends to be someone else when they’re all together. Bob feels nervous about the upcoming Christmas gathering. Uncle Ray always shows up with a pre-buzz and his too-loud speaking voice. Their cousin Elizabeth never cared for Bob and he knows she won’t say more than two words to him. Those words will likely be “Merry Christmas” and not much more than that. Whenever he sees the various children of his relatives since his divorce, he wonders if he’ll ever have children of his own.

Bob also knows that if some of these family members knew about Maureen, they’d tell him all the stuff like “you can do better” or “what are you thinking being with a married woman?” He would feel embarrassed and ashamed and yet, conflicted because he loves Maureen so much and is optimistic that they will be together when she leaves her husband. Bob knows what society thinks about a guy like him and he used to feel the same way. Until he began to have feelings for Maureen. He will think about her during dinner, just like he did at Thanksgiving, and also think about what it will be like when they are able to have their own Christmas later that week when they will be free from their family obligations. They’ll text back and forth when they get the chance. They’ll tell say they miss each other.

Holidays are mixed for Bob. Bob loves his family, with their loudness and drinking and less-than-supportive ways of relating. He knows they’ll always be there if he needs them, just like they’ve always been. But Bob isn’t about to advertise what is going on behind the scenes in his life.

You might be wondering why I’ve spent all this time writing about Imaginary Bob. And Bob’s mom. And the peripheral family members. Well, like I said above, issues relating to infidelity go beyond the one individual who has left their own primary relationship. That person in this scenario is Imaginary Maureen. But all the people mentioned are affected by this. Bob is a single guy and it kills him sometimes that Maureen isn’t free and clear to even hold his hand in public. Bob battles depression, sometimes drinks too much to cope when he’s home alone and Maureen is doing the wife and family stuff. Someone like Bob is the typical affected-by-infidelity client I work with.

You may be saying, well, maybe Bob shouldn’t be with a married woman. But alas. Bob is. And Bob needs some support. That support may come in many forms, including psychotherapy. A nonjudgmental and compassionate therapist will listen to Bob and allow him to reveal himself openly – something he has been unable to do as long as Maureen has been in his life. He may begin to feel unburdened and more willing to feel the feelings he’s possibly stuffed away. Whether Bob and Maureen continue is not the goal of our work, unless it is Bob’s goal. It is not the view of the therapist to advise clients to go one way or the other. We merely allow our clients room – both in the physical space of the office and emotionally – to explore where they are at.

If you are somewhere like Bob is, or Bob’s mom, or Maureen, or even Maureen’s husband, I can help you parse through these complications in your life. My office is located in Livingston, NJ and I can be reached at cmgsnyder@gmail.com or 201-248-5552.

Isolation

Isolation and Infidelity

In my practice, I don’t only see people whose partner has strayed from the relationship. I also see the person who has found a connection with someone who isn’t their primary partner.

The person who is on the receiving end of infidelity in a relationship can find himself or herself struggling. I also have compassion for the person who has betrayed their partner. It can be hard to be you, too. It is hard to be the person that society has dubbed “the cheater”. So many people even utter the word with disdain.

But “cheater” isn’t always someone skulking around in the dark of night, tiptoeing out of the house while everyone else is sleeping. Many people reflexively envisage this person to be male. That is not always the case. While percentages of women participating in infidelity has grown over the years, women often feel a double standard – that men are expected to stray but people assume that women who engage in the same behavior are considered “less than” or branded with ugly and derogatory names.

The one who has relationships or flings with someone other than their primary partner is indistinguishable from you or me. They are usually respectable, law-abiding citizens. The neighborhood gentleman who shovels the walkway of his elderly neighbor or the warm and caring woman who works in your child’s daycare center. It’s the guy who fixes your car, the mom who volunteers at a food bank. It could even be your best friend or sibling. Or your girlfriend. Or the husband with whom you celebrated your 25th wedding anniversary on a spectacular cruise in the Caribbean.

The life of someone who is seeing someone else is one of secrets, half-truths, omissions. Most of us have a differing comfort level with how we function in these various states.

You didn’t set out to let it get so far out of control, but you almost feel too far in to start cleaning up the damage. You might feel terrible about it. You might feel nothing about it. You might feel numb. If you were able to talk about it, you might discover your feelings. And that may scare you.

I recognize that you may not have told anyone. That not one soul knows about the person who replies to your texts after she puts her kids to bed. Or the guy you meet up with when your boyfriend thinks you are staying late at the office.

You are out there. And despite what society or your friends or your faith might think, you deserve as much compassion and humanity as anyone else.  I also understand how alone and isolated you feel at times.

If you would like to explore the possibility of working with me, please contact me at cmgsnyder@gmail.com or 201-248-5552. My office is located in Livingston, NJ.