The Forbidden Five: Five Of The Worst Things To Say To Your Partner

The Forbidden Five: Five Of The Worst Things To Say To Your Partner

If you are in a long-term relationship, chances are, you’ve said some things you wish you could take back. We all have. In the heat of an argument, it can be extremely difficult to hold back, especially if your partner really knows how to push your buttons. However, no matter how heated things get, the absolute worst things to say to your partner are these five forbidden phrases.

 

1. I Hate You

 

Hate is a very strong word, and by telling your partner that you hate him, you are saying that you hate his whole being, not just something that he did. I don’t know if anyone has ever told you that he or she hates you, but, trust me, it’s not something that is easily forgotten. You can hate war, poverty, or childhood illnesses, but, it’s just not a word that should be used on your partner.

 

2. You Never…

 

If you tell your partner that she never listens to you, you are probably taking one instance and generalizing her behavior from there. This kind of generalization feels very unfair, and, again, focuses on your partner as a person, rather than something that she did. In my work with couples, I find that people rarely do the same things ALL the time, so telling your partner that she NEVER does something is probably just not true. Try to stick to the moment at hand rather than bringing up every past transgression.

 

3. You Always…

 

Similar to “you never,” “you always” is another generalizing term. If you tell your significant other that he always makes a fool of himself in public, he is likely to get defensive and try to find examples of times that he acted like a perfect gentleman. Since he’ll be so busy pointing out times when this wasn’t a fool, he’ll probably miss the point of what you are trying to tell him, while needlessly angering the two of you in the meantime.

 

4. I Don’t Need You

 

This is a particularly hurtful statement to make to your partner because we all want to feel needed by the ones that we love. Telling your significant other that you don’t need her could even trigger feelings of abandonment because we often fear that if we are no longer needed, we will be left, or replaced with someone new.

 

5. You Are Worthless

 

Of course, any insult, like stupid, ridiculous, or weak could be hurtful, but, worthless, in my opinion, is one of the worst insults that you can hurl at your SO. This is because calling someone worthless not only puts down who they are as a person but it also calls into question their whole purpose in life. You don’t want to crush your partner’s soul, do you?

 

Okay, maybe if you are angry, you might be down for a little soul-crushing, but, deep down, (like, way deep), I know that’s not what you really want!

 

If you’d like to talk more about what to avoid saying to your partner, and what to say instead, contact me. I am here to help.

 

My Partner Had An Affair: Where Do I Go From Here?

My Partner Had An Affair: Where Do I Go From Here?

Despite the ever prevalent number of cheaters in mainstream movies and television, researchers have found that the real threat of an affair over the course of a relationship is about 25%. That’s approximately 1 out of every 4 couples, which isn’t great, but it also isn’t as common as it seems when you’re addicted to shows like “Scandal.” (side note: I can’t believe Scandal is over forever!)

 

Still, all the statistics in the world won’t help you if your union is the one being affected by an affair. First, you have to decide whether or not you feel that the relationship is even worth saving. For some, an affair is a “cry for help,” where one partner essentially leaves the relationship by seeking the affection of a stranger. If the relationship was hopelessly flawed to begin with, there may not be much left to save.

 

Similarly, if a person has cheated more than once, you may want to strongly consider cutting your losses and moving on. As the saying goes, “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair,” which means that multiple offenses are very difficult to undo. If your partner is cheating on you repeatedly, you may also want to seek assessment for sex addiction to see if this is the underlying cause.

 

However, let’s say that your partner cheated on you once, claims it was a huge mistake and you both want to work to improve the relationship and rebuild trust. What can you do then?

 

Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., who wrote the book,” After The Affair: Healing The Pain And Rebuilding Trust When A Partner Has Been Unfaithful,” shared some insights from her work in an interview with “Reader’s Digest.” Below, I paraphrase Dr. Spring’s main points:

 

Honesty, Openness, and Apologies

 

The first step to take after the discovery of an affair is to allow the person who was cheated on, (the betrayed partner), a chance to say everything that he or she is thinking and feeling. The betrayed partner needs free reign to go through all the necessary emotions of grief, anger, sadness, resentment, etc., and to be heard. New research is showing that being cheated on results in symptoms similar to PTSD, a mental illness that can occur after a major life-threatening trauma. The betrayer needs to be understanding of the emotional turmoil caused by his/her behaviors and “bear witness” to his partner’s pain without rushing her through it. One way to begin the process of rebuilding trust is for the betrayer to write an apology letter declaring his intentions to change his ways.

 

Avoid Cheap Forgiveness

 

Dr. Spring calls “Cheap Forgiveness,” the process by which the betrayed forgives the cheater too quickly, without going through all of the pain, anger, and sadness that comes with infidelity. Dr. Spring believes that some people rush themselves through to the acceptance phase of grief because they fear losing their partner. However, if you do this, you won’t fully heal from the incident and it’s likely to cause harm to your relationship in the future.

 

Set Rules

 

Here is one of the steps where it’s easy to tell how serious the cheater is about rebuilding trust. Dr. Spring recommends setting ground rules for allowing the betrayed to have access to the cheater’s private life. For example, she may request all of his social media passwords or request that he show her what he is doing on his phone when she asks. Yes, this may feel like an invasion of privacy to the cheater, but, it is necessary to be completely transparent to start rebuilding the trust that was broken. A cheater who really wants to change his ways will most likely be open to these invasions of privacy, whereas one who wants to continue playing the field might balk at these new restrictions. Hint: If he balks, it’s time to walk. Either he is still lying or he is not willing to do what it takes to rebuild trust.

 

Let Go

 

Finally, Dr. Spring suggests that after some time, the betrayed should be feeling more comfortable to loosen the reigns on the rules mentioned above. With time and healing, she should be able to start trusting her partner again.

 

Recovering from an affair requires hard work, vulnerability and emotional risk-taking on the part of both partners. Emotionally charged conversations, tears, mood swings, and a reluctance to trust the betrayer are common reactions in the betrayed. Given the heavy emotions that infidelity causes, it’s often helpful for both individuals and the couple to be in therapy to facilitate the healing process.

 

Trust Your Journey

 

One of my favorite personal growth blogs, Mark and Angel Hack Life, posted an article called 7 Things to Remember When You Feel Cheated On and I’d like to leave you with some of their words today:

 

“A wonderful, life-changing gift may not be wrapped as you expect. – When you don’t get what you want, sometimes it’s necessary preparation, and other times its necessary protection. But the time is never wasted. It’s a step on your journey. Someday you’re going look back on this time in your life as an important time of grieving and growing. You will see that you were in mourning and your heart was breaking, but your life was changing for the greater good.”

So, whether this experience helps you grow stronger as a couple and improve your relationship, or whether you break up, trust that you are on the right path and everything is happening for your highest and best good. And know that I am here to help you through this or any other hard times.

Is Premarital Counseling Right For Us?

Is Premarital Counseling Right For Us?

You’re getting married! It’s time to pick a caterer, a photographer, a florist, and a therapist. Hold up. Did you say therapist?

Yes, I did!

It turns out there are a whole lot of issues that many couples forget or are too shy to discuss before getting married. Seeing a couples therapist for premarital counseling is a great way to get these topics out in the open and come to decisions about them before problems arise.

 

But won’t that stir things up unnecessarily?

Now, some of you may be worried about seeing a therapist because you don’t want to “rock the boat” or start trouble where there is none. I get that and I want to reassure you that premarital therapy is NOT about creating problems and starting fights. It’s about preventing problems, deepening your connection, getting to know each other better than ever, and getting clear on your values and expectations for marriage and your future life together.

 

Will I be forced to share things I don’t want to share?

Or maybe you’re afraid you’ll find out or be forced to share things about yourself and your soon-to-be-spouse that you’d rather not talk about. Trust me, it’s better to know now! First of all, most things can be worked out through negotiations and good communication. Fortunately, you will learn a lot about healthy and effective communication in premarital therapy. That said, if there is a deal-breaker in your relationship, it’s much better to find out before your big day. I know it sounds extreme and heartbreaking but calling off a wedding is a lot easier than getting a divorce.

 

What will we do in session?

Ok enough doom and gloom, geez! If you are considering premarital therapy, you might be wondering about the kinds of things that you will talk about with your therapist. Everyone does things a little differently but here are some of the topics I cover in my work with premarital couples.

 

Assessment

Learn about each other’s emotional needs, personality types, communication styles and more using various assessment measures based on your individual needs.

Communication

It’s always important to set the groundwork of effective communication before getting into the hard stuff. And trust me, there will be hard stuff that comes up in your marriage no matter how perfect you are for each other. If you know how to talk about issues as they arise, you’ll likely have many fewer and less severe issues throughout your marriage. I teach couples specific communication techniques that include learning how to empathize with and validate each other to make sure both parties feel heard and understood.

Once you know how to communicate, then we can start getting into some other topics.

Topics we may discuss include but are not limited to:

Kids

Do you want kids? How many? Would you be open to adoption if the need arose? How about in-vitro? What kind of parenting style do you think you will use? Would you be okay if your spouse believed in spanking? How will you handle it if your spouse decides after trying for 2 years that he no longer wants kids?

Some of these may seem like worst case scenarios, but, again, it’s better to be prepared. Plus, as long as one of you isn’t dead-set for kids while the other is dead-set against them, we should be able to work things out with proper communication.

 

Money

How will money be handled in your relationship? Will you share an account or keep separate ones? If one of you is a saver and the other is a spender, how will you handle these differences? What limits will you put in place (e.g. talk to each other before spending more than $100) to ensure that major decisions are made as a couple?

Different money-styles brings many married couples into therapy. Talking about these things in advance can save you from headaches (and thousands of dollars in couples therapy fees) later. See, you’re already making good financial decisions together by investing in premarital therapy now!

 

Sex

How often would you each like have sex once you are married? Will you have regular date nights? What does each of you like/dislike in bed? What are your fantasies? What are you willing/not willing to try? How will you let your partner know if you feel you are letting your romantic life slide?

The busier you get, the more you may need to rely on a bit of planning to ensure that your sex-life stays active. In premarital therapy, I’ll teach you a simple and fun way to make sure you keep having sex no matter how busy you are.

 

Religion

What religion, if any, do you practice? How about your fiancé? If you plan on having children, will you want religion to be a part of their lives? If so, how much a part?

 

Values

A related issue is that of values. Even if you don’t practice a particular religion, are there values that are important to you? For example, do you believe in “The Golden Rule,” of treating others as you’d like to be treated, or are you more of a “fend for yourself” kind of person?

 

Politics

The country has become more and more divided in that arena. Will or does this play a part in your relationship? How would you handle one of you changing political parties? Would it matter?

 

Dreams

It’s important that your partner know about the dreams that you have for yourself and your family. What are the hopes and wishes you want to achieve one day? How can you support each other in achieving those dreams?

Have you always wanted to live out of the country? Is it your goal to go skydiving one day? Let’s make sure that your partner will be on-board. Pun intended!

This is just a basic list of a few topics you may discuss in premarital therapy. The process should be slightly different for everyone and tailored to your specific wants and needs as a couple.

If you would like to learn more about how premarital therapy can help your relationship, contact me!

The Real Reasons (That Nobody Tells You) About Why Therapists Don’t Accept Insurance

The Real Reasons (That Nobody Tells You) About Why Therapists Don’t Accept Insurance

Should I Use My Insurance Plan To Pay For Therapy?

 

Deciding to start therapy is a huge milestone in life. I’d even say it’s as big as getting married or starting a new job. I mean, think about it. What could be more important than committing to work on yourself and become the best version of you? Who you are and who you become influences every part of your life.

 

That’s why choosing the right therapist is SO important. It’s essential you and your therapist are a good fit and that the person you choose has the experience and expertise to get you to the next level in life, whether you’re working on career goals, relationships, self-exploration or all of the above.

 

One of the considerations you might take into account when looking for a therapist is whether that therapist accepts your insurance. For many people, this is a deciding factor when choosing someone.

 

After all, you’re paying a premium every month for your insurance so why wouldn’t you want to use it? It can save you money on your session costs and it can help you narrow down your search by ruling out therapists who don’t accept your plan. You use your insurance for all other doctors so why not do the same for therapy, right?

 

New therapy seekers with this belief are often confused and frustrated by the number of therapists they find that do not accept insurance. It can be really difficult to find someone that specializes in your area of need, is close to home, fits your personality, and accepts your insurance.

 

But why is it so hard? Why are there so many therapists out there that don’t accept insurance?

 

Many consumers don’t realize that there are several downsides for both therapists and clients when using insurance to pay for therapy.

 

So what do private pay clients who are shelling out big bucks for therapy know that you don’t?

 

 

Here are 4 reasons why you should not use insurance to pay for therapy:

 

1. Less Confidentiality

 

Everyone knows that what happens in therapy stays in therapy. Your therapist is required to keep everything you say confidential no matter what, right? Wrong! When you use insurance to pay for therapy, your therapist is required to provide your diagnosis and treatment notes to your insurance company in order to get paid. This undermines the basic premise of therapy and also gives a lot more people access to private health information about you. If this is news to you, you’re not alone. It’s all written into the HIPAA document you get when you start therapy (or go to any doctor’s office) but most people don’t read all the fine print.

 

2. Higher Insurance Premiums

 

Even if you’re okay with your information being shared with your insurance company from a confidentiality standpoint, you probably didn’t realize that sharing this information can have unintended consequences in the future.

 

As mentioned above, your therapist has to provide your insurance company with your diagnosis to get paid. But what if you don’t have a mental illness? After all, many people seek therapy for personal growth and exploration, not because they are depressed or anxious or have a serious mental illness.

 

In the eyes of your insurance company, these are not valid reasons for seeking therapy on their dime. If you don’t have an actual diagnosis, they aren’t interested in paying for your sessions and will not continue to authorize future sessions.

 

This puts your therapist in an awkward and ethically challenging position if you don’t meet criteria for a mental illness. He or she is left with choosing between 3 options.

 

  1.  Assign a diagnosis you don’t meet criteria for so that your insurance company will continue authorizing sessions.
  2.  Discontinue therapy.
  3.  Continue to work with you without assigning a diagnosis but risk having claims denied and not getting paid for the work.

 

At this point, you are probably starting to understand why so many therapists don’t accept insurance.

 

Ok, so you might be wondering how this all relates to increased premiums for you.

 

Let’s say your therapist opts for option 1 and assigns you a diagnosis so that your insurance company will authorize future sessions. Maybe you meet criteria for a diagnosis, maybe you don’t. Either way, you now have a diagnosis on record with your insurance company.

 

When it comes time to renew your insurance or switch plans, your premiums could rise as a result of your “pre-existing condition.” In addition, you may be required to share your diagnosis in future job interviews, which is awkward, to say the least.

 

3. Insurance-Driven Treatment Plan

 

When therapists take insurance, they are required to use treatment methods that are covered by your plan. This means they have less say in how to treat you based on your specific and individual needs. Ironically, the people who work in your insurance company and decide which methods of therapy can be used, are usually not even therapists! And they certainly haven’t met and assessed you personally like your therapist has.

 

This leads me to my next point…

Psychiatric Help 5 cents!

 

4. Questionable Quality

 

Let me preface this by saying that there are some fantastic therapists who take insurance. Sometimes highly skilled therapists accept a few insurance clients on their caseload to fill less desirable times slots or sometimes they do it as a way to “give back” to society and offer high-quality services to those that wouldn’t be able to afford it any other way. If you don’t know anything about insurance payouts (and why would you if you’re not a therapist or a doctor?), this last statement probably doesn’t make sense. Bear with me while I help clear that up and give you some rarely discussed insider info from the therapist’s perspective.

 

The going rate for a great therapist in most major cities is between $150-$350 per session. Most insurance companies pay therapists between $40-$90 per session. This is a fraction of what therapists receive from private pay clients and it requires a lot more paperwork and time to get paid by insurance companies. Submitting insurance claims is time-consuming and confusing as is getting approved to be on insurance panels in the first place. Many therapists have to hire a billing professional to help them manage insurance claims and make sure they actually get paid.

 

So why would any therapist ever take insurance if they get paid less and have to jump through paperwork hoops to get paid?

 

The answer is because they have to.

 

Again, something that is rarely discussed with consumers is the fact that insurance companies provide a steady flow of referrals to therapists. Let’s take a moment to think about who might need a steady flow of referrals to their practice and would be willing to take a major pay cut for said referrals.

 

  • New therapists just starting a private practice. Therapists who just graduated usually have some serious student loans to pay off and they need to start making money fast. It can take time to build up a positive reputation in a community so getting referrals from insurance panels (even if it means making significantly less per client) is a great way to get started. Often, therapists who opt for this route will start phasing out insurance clients as their reputation grows and they start getting more organic referrals from satisfied customers.
  • Therapists in low-income areas. If there are very few clients that can pay full price for sessions in the area, therapists in private practice will have to accept insurance or move to a community where there are more affluent people. For this reason, lower income communities do not have a lot of therapists in private practice but they do have more government subsidized community treatment centers where people can get help.
  • Therapists who do not have a lot of satisfied customers. As a therapist myself, this is a delicate situation for me to discuss and I suspect it will upset many of my colleagues. That said, the ones it offends are probably the ones who fall into this category. Many therapists who accept insurance do so because they are not good enough at what they do to facilitate referrals and command a higher fee.

 

Yep, I said it.

 

Satisfied customers talk. They leave positive reviews online. They tell their friends and family how happy they are with their therapist and they refer the people they love. They build their therapist’s practice for them by becoming walking billboards. Their friends and family start to notice positive changes in their personality and ask them what they are doing…and they tell them about their therapist.

 

Not only do satisfied customers refer to skilled therapists, other professionals do too. Medical doctors hear from their patients that they got great results working with a therapist and they send more patients. Other therapists who get asked by friends and family for referrals, send them to other skilled therapists in the community.

 

Therapists who don’t take insurance have to be really good in order to create a thriving practice. With therapy, you usually get what you pay for and if someone is charging a high fee, it’s usually because they are worth it.

 

Speaking of that price tag, I know it can feel scary to drop a couple hundred dollars on a therapy session, especially if you don’t have a ton of disposable income. However, what I’ve seen in my practice (and in many other settings besides therapy) is that those who pay the full fee and make a substantial investment, are actually more committed to doing the work than those who pay less.

 

Think about it. If you paid $20 for a meal or $200, would there be a difference in how you treated it? Would you rush through the $200 meal and then throw half of it away if you didn’t feel like eating anymore? I’m guessing not. You would savor that meal and ask to take anything you couldn’t eat home with you to enjoy later.

 

People who pay more for therapy are literally and figuratively more invested and it shows in their results. They make the most of every session, they do their homework, and they get great results. In my opinion, there is nothing worth more than your personal growth. If you take the work seriously, you will see your investment pay off in every area of your life. By the way, this is coming from someone who has spent tens of thousands of dollars on personal growth and I truly feel it’s been worth every penny.

 

Ok, but what if you literally CANNOT afford to pay the full fee but you also want to make sure you get a great therapist? Fortunately, there is sometimes an in-between option.

 

Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get reimbursed for out of network benefits, which can mean a savings of up to 40-60%. This is typically available with PPO plans. To find out, call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask how much your plan pays for out of network therapists.

 

Then, if you do have out of network benefits, ask your therapist if he/she can provide a superbill for you to submit to your insurance for reimbursement. You will pay your therapist for the sessions up front but your insurance company will reimburse you for some of the session fees. Not every insurance plan has this benefit but it’s definitely worth a phone call to ask!

 

The other option is that you can use your Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay for therapy. This allows you to save money because you are paying with pre-tax dollars.

 

So there you have it. That is the good, the bad and the ugly of using your insurance to pay for therapy as I see it. I’d love to hear from you. Have you used insurance to pay for therapy in the past? If so, how did it go for you? Let me know in the comments on this Facebook post.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go? How To Decide If Your Relationship Is Worth Saving

Should I Stay Or Should I Go? How To Decide If Your Relationship Is Worth Saving

Divorce rates are nearly 50% in our nation and more people than ever are opting to stay single longer in today’s day and age. Men and women all over the US are deciding to breakup when their relationships get tough rather than riding out the waves. Is this the right choice? How can you tell when it’s time to throw in the towel on a partnership that isn’t working?

 

No one wants to make rash decisions or worse, the wrong decisions when it comes to love. Sure, in the heat of the moment you may want to wring his neck and tell his mother all the terrible things he has said and done, but you also realize those feelings might pass. And when they do, you want to know that you’ve brought your most rational self to the table and made a decision you won’t regret. Granted it’s not always easy to be logical when it comes to matters of the heart but with practice, it can be done.

 

Make a List, Check it Twice

One thing you can try is a technique logical minded people have been doing for centuries – make a list. Divide a piece of paper in half lengthwise and write “pros” and “cons” at the top of each column. Start with the pros. What do you love about him? What made you attracted to him in the first place? What qualities do you see in him that you know you want and need in a partner? Next, move on to the cons. What bothers you about him? What do you wish you could change about his personality or way of being? What do you most commonly fight about?

Next, rank the importance of each pro and con on a scale of 1-10 and write that number next to each item. This part is important because not every item holds the same weight. One of your cons might be that he has brown eyes instead of blue. While that might be true, it also might not be a determining factor in your relationship. Thus you might rank this a 1 on the scale of importance whereas you might rank “poor communicator” a 10 if it has a big negative effect on your relationship.

Now, add the numbers in each column and take a look at your list. If the score is completely lopsided, your answer might be staring you in the face. If that’s the case listen!

 

Be honest – Are you willing to do the work?

However, chances are your choices won’t be so cut and dry. In many cases, you may find that there are things about the relationship that need mending but you have hopes that they can change. Get clear about what BOTH you and your partner need to do to address the problems, and ask yourself this very important question: Am I willing to do the work required to improve this relationship? Then ask your partner if they are willing to make the changes and put in the work necessary for you both to be happy. There is no right or wrong answer here as long as you answer honestly. If the answer is “no,” this is a good indication that your heart just isn’t in it.

 

Be Realistic

Still, before you split, consider the fact that there are at least 10 areas of compatibility that exist within every union. These are things like: the importance of sex and romance; financial styles; attitudes toward extended family; and attitudes towards having children. Some of these areas are workable, while others are more difficult – you can’t have 1/2 of a child, for example. So, think about whether the areas where you are incompatible with this partner are truly deal-breakers. Because, chances are, a new partner will come with his own list of incompatibilities and you will undoubtedly be trading one set of problems for another.

 

Make Sure Your Vision is 20/20

Whether or not you choose to stay with your current partner, one thing that I like to encourage clients to do is create a relationship vision. This is, essentially, a list of things that you would like to see in your ideal relationship. As you can see on the sample relationship vision in this blog post, your vision can include things like: having a date night once per week; spending time with each-other’s families; having sex 3-4 times per week; vacationing twice a year; supporting each-other’s goals and dreams, etc.

Making a vision statement for your relationship can help you decide what is really important to you. It will help you see what kind of partnership you want to engage in and it will empower you to create that for yourself. It’s also important to look at what kind of partner you are being and whether or not you are being the type of person you want to attract.

 

Hopefully, some of these ideas can help you with your decision. Yet, if all else fails, you can always flip a coin. I’m half kidding but in reality, you can learn a lot about your true desires when you notice which outcome you suddenly hope for when it’s in the air. Hey, the psychology of decision making is not always a scientific process 😉


If you are in the process of deciding whether or not to stay or breakup and really can’t decide, I think contacting a therapist is always a good idea. You may not know exactly what steps you and your partner need to take to improve the relationship but a well trained couples therapist should. If you’d like some help with this or any other relationship issue, I’m here to help!