Category Archives: Relationships

How Culture Can Affect Your Relationship

Intercultural-MarriageCultural can affect your relationship more than you may think even if you or your partner seems perfectly acclimated to the current culture in which you’ve been raised.  In my practice, I’ve seen a number of clients who are in intercultural or bi-racial relationships and, over the years, it’s become clear to me that, in many cases, what the client thought was a negative dynamic due to a personality or attachment issue was really a cultural belief being looked at through the wrong lens (the lens of their own cultural bias.)

A relationship can be considered intercultural even if both partners were born and raised in the environment where they live.  The question is really HOW were they raised and with what cultural values? In the case of many people I’ve worked with, we have talked about parents who are from a completely different culture, who coming here as adults, raised their children according to the cultural customs and mores of the country from which they came.

This does not mean that the (now) adult child in question who is my client or the partner of my client is not also acclimated or assimilated into the larger culture in which they find themselves. They often grow-up possessing traits of both cultures.

Going into cross-cultural relationships KNOWING that there are bound to be differences in perspective directly related to cultural differences is half the battle in many cases.

The following article by Fouad Alaa outlines a few of the ways in which culture can cause controversy between couples.  However, you can add to the list: level and type of attachment to family members (including extended family), the way in which emotion is expressed  (or not) and the way material goods are prized (or not), just to name a few.

THERE’S a beautiful honeymoon phase at the beginning of every relationship where couples fall madly in love with each other regardless of any major differences.

After the honeymoon phase comes the adaptation phase. Personal quirks that used to be cute become annoying. Discomfort, issues and even fights take place; doubly so for interracial couples.

Every culture affects our personal habits and preferences. In interracial relationships, personal habits might cause issues the same way they would when they are acceptable in one country but not tolerated for long in another.

A lot of interracial couples mistake cultural influence for personality flaws. The ability to differentiate between a cultural norm and a personal quirk is very important to prevent any misunderstandings or issues regarding compatibility. Continue reading

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Relationship dependency South Lake Union Therapy

Numerous studies have shown that once we become attached to someone, the two of us form one physiological unit.  Our partner regulates our blood pressure, our heart rate, our breathing, and the levels of hormones in our blood.  We are not longer separate entities.  The emphasis on differentiation that is held by most of today’s popular psychology approaches to adult relationships  does not hold water from a biological perspective.  Dependency is a fact; it is not a choice or a preference. -Amir Levine M.D., and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A. “Attached: The New Science or Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find-And Keep-Love.”

Adult Children of Alcoholics

It will never happen to meAdult Children of Alcoholics: “Upon reaching adulthood, the majority of children of alcoholics continue to experience problems related to trust, dependency, control, identification and expression of feelings.” – Claudia Black It Will Never Happen to Me: Children of Alcoholics As Youngsters-Adolescents-Adults

In Defense of the “Crazy” Ex

Broken Heart

If you’re one of those people who is dating someone who is emotionally unavailable and you blame the “crazy” ex, the red flag may be closer than you think.
We all know from experience that no one outside an intimate relationship can ever truly know what went on in that relationship or understand the subjective experience of either partner. And, we are getting only one half of the story from our new partner.
If you’re with someone who blames their lack of emotional presence, emotional intimacy and current relationship failures on “drama from the outside” coming from their recent ex, there is likely more there than meets the eye.
Relationship drama, with rare exception, can’t come from the outside unless your partner is actively BRINGING it in and actively participating in it.
I have been privy to situations in both my professional and personal life where the partner pointing the finger at the ex is still willingly communicating with them and, many times, is still carrying on a sexual relationship with them to boot.
The focus of advice columns and online articles is mostly centered around how to deal with the “crazy” ex but not many of them advise you, the current partner, to deal directly with your loved-one,  to look past what you are being told, to set aside your preconceptions, and really ask yourself, “IS the drama really coming from outside my relationship or is there more here than meets the eye?”  It may be time to ask some difficult and direct questions.
I am not defending abusive, controlling or meddling exes but I am advising those with partners who are not fully present and engaged in your relationship and are placing the blame on their ex, to take what their partner says with a grain of salt.  It’s often easier to blame the person we don’t know rather than the one we do.

Electric Currents And An ‘Emotional Awakening’ For One Man With Autism

AutismTerry Gross provides an insightful and humanistic look at autism through the story of one man who underwent an experimental treatment for his condition and then goes on to eloquently explain both the gains and losses he experienced as a result.   Continue reading

Teaching Men to Be Emotionally Honest

Men and Emotions South Lake Union TherapyFor many years I have been speaking to the increasing shift in traditional gender roles and the ways in which this shift is altering the power differential between the sexes.  In my practice, I see these changes manifest in a variety of new and interesting ways, both adaptive and maladaptive.  My work is primarily with men and this latest New York Times article gives a comprehensive overview of the very real and immediate need to foster and accept emotional vulnerability in men for the sake of their health and success.

“Last semester, a student in the masculinity course I teach showed a video clip she had found online of a toddler getting what appeared to be his first vaccinations. Off camera, we hear his father’s voice. “I’ll hold your hand, O.K.?” Then, as his son becomes increasingly agitated: “Don’t cry!… Aw, big boy! High five, high five! Say you’re a man: “I’m a man!”

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TED Talk: Depression, The Secret We Share

Goya South Lake Union Therapy“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.” In a talk equal parts eloquent and devastating, writer Andrew Solomon takes you to the darkest corners of his mind during the years he battled depression. Continue reading

The Real Scoop on Narcissism from Cause to Lived Experience

Narcissism South Lake Union TherapyIn our culture, the term naricissist is used often, informally and carries a pejorative connotation.  Jari Chevalier’s podcast, Living Hero, examines narcissism from all angles and provides a more humanistic perspective on the clinical meaning of the word. Continue reading