It is a new year full of so many possibilities. What is it about resolutions that make us not want to keep them? What if we focused on what state of consciousness we would like to be in rather than resolving to give up anything? So much of addiction is driven by a feeling of deprivation—filling the soul hole. In late January, I will be giving a teleclass on moving through change into abundance, Italian style! I call it The Abbondanza Method: Seven Secrets to An Abundant Life I Learned From My Italian Grandmother.
Dear Dr. Galardi:
I don’t quite know where to turn. I have been married for fifteen years to a man who supports our family really well. He came from a wealthy family and I came from a middle class family. We don’t agree on how to raise our children. He believes in maids and nannies taking care of everything. I was raised to do chores in the home and I think our children need to learn to be more responsible.
Not only do my husband and I not share the same values, but we also do not enjoy doing the same things together. Six months ago, I was on the board of one of my children’s soccer league and I met the father of one of the other children on one of the teams. At first we were just friendly with one another. It has now progressed to a full blown affair. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to hurt my children or my husband, and I also don’t want to hurt the family of this new man. There are so many people to consider here. A friend of mine is a therapist and I saw this magazine that carries your column. I thought that perhaps you could give me another perspective. My girlfriend is thinks I should end the affair, and that I am sexually addicted to this man. She has seen so many bad divorces in her practices that came from extra-marital affairs. We’ve tried to end it but we always come back to each other. I genuinely think he is my soulmate. I have never cheated before.
What should I do, Dr. Toni?
Lost Soccer Mom
If this is your first affair in fifteen years of marriage, I doubt you are a sex addict. The greatest pain in life comes from indecision. Not all relationships that began as affairs are destined for failure. I can attest to that from my own practice. Ultimately, living in ambivalence about your husband and the fear of leaving is more damaging to you and your children. Although you may think you are concealing the affair, the deception is often read by children in other ways. I have often seen the children in these situations act out in their own ways through risky sexual behavior if they are of age or drug experimentation.
If you and your lover have tried to end it and have been unsuccessful, I would urge you to be courageous and tell your husband you want to go into counseling and deal with this. Once you are there, be transparent. Let the therapist guide the both of you toward a resolution that you both can live with. The truth shall set you free. There is an expression in Alcoholics Anonymous that says “You are only as sick as your secrets.” Healing can only begin with honesty.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I am a college student seeing a therapist my parents picked out for me. They pay the bills so they feel they get to control who I get counseling from. When I was sixteen, she (the therapist) was perfect for me. Now that I am in my last year of school, I feel that I need someone who can help me transition to life after college. How do I convince my parents that I need to see someone else? She is kind of a friend of theirs.
It sounds to me like this is more than just an issue of career counseling. You are seeking psychological individuation from them by asserting your independence on who is meant to be the transitional authority figure in your life. Your current therapist may have been perfect for working with teens rebelling. However, you are in need of a transitional guide to adulthood signified by leaving college and getting a job. As a transition specialist, I can tell you that you are not alone. Many young people come to me as college is ending or has ended and they are floundering without a strategy for moving on.
You don’t mention as to whether you have found this person you want to see next. If you have not found someone, you should do some research first. Ask for a free thirty-minute consult, talk to a few licensed therapists, and find one you like. Then, sit down with both of your parents and explain your reasons for wanting the change. Additionally, tell them you will do a session with your current therapist and put closure on the work you have done together and follow through with that. Do not just stop.
Good luck on your new adventure!
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I am giving a seven-week teleclass beginning in late January; call 310-890-6832 for more information. I am still doing most of my individual work through phone coaching. If you are in the midst of a major transition, call the LifeQuake Doctor.