Affairs

Secrets: The Difference Between Toxic and Healthy Secrets

Secrets:  The Difference Between Toxic and Healthy Secrets

So now you know what toxic and healthy secrets look like and how they impact your relationships… How do you know the difference between the two?  Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you determine the difference:

Secrets: Toxic Secrets

Secrets:  Toxic Secrets

This week we are talking about secrets! Secrets come in many forms. There are healthy secrets, but also toxic ones. What is the difference? A toxic secret is one that will block you from intimacy and puts walls between you and your loved one. Support4change.com says, toxic secrets “hide a part of your heart, disguise your vulnerability which denies a gift to your loved one, or prevents your loved one from supporting you.”

All About Affairs- Healing From an Affair

All About Affairs- Healing From an Affair

The Imagine Hope ladies have shared some great statistics and information on infidelity, and how to affair proof your marriage, but what can you do if an affair has already happened?

  1. Seek out a professional counselor that has knowledge and experience in healing from infidelity.  This one is imperative, because if you can't heal from the affair, it will cause more damage to your marriage on down the road!  It's important to understand how your relationship got to this place, and without professional help, it can be difficult to do so.  We all have blind spots-- that's what makes us human.  Most of the time, it's necessary to have someone who is a neutral party help us understand things from an outside perspective.

All About Affairs- Affair Proof Your Marriage

All About Affairs- Affair Proof Your Marriage

Unfortunately, too many people wait to walk thru our doors once an affair has happened. Although there is hope if an affair has occurred, it is much easier to prevent one from happening by affair proofing it. How do you affair proof your marriage?

All About Affairs - Are You At Risk?

All About Affairs - Are You At Risk?

If you haven't read Teri's guest blog yesterday on the statistics of affairs, please read it. The stats are alarming, depressing, sad and scary. It's easy to spiral and think, "It's only a matter of time before this happens to me!" Remember, there ARE marriages that don't have infidelity.

How do you know which category your marriage will fall under? Below are some signs that show who is at risk for an affair. This is not scientifically sound; this is to be used as a tool to assess whether your marriage is at risk:

All About Affairs- Affair Statistics

All About Affairs- Affair Statistics

Infidelity is an issue we work with multiple times a day at Imagine Hope. Unfortunately it is an epidemic that is plaguing America's marriages and relationships. This week Imagine Hope is digging deeper into this issue to give you a glimpse of how to protect your relationships, how to heal if you have experienced this, and whether or not your relationship is at risk for one.

Why is Your Wife Not Attracted To You? Part 4

Why is Your Wife Not Attracted To You? Part 4

This week, Imagine Hope is finishing up with the last two reasons why your wife might be unhappy in your marriage. As we shared in last weeks blog series (the counterpart to this week-- Why is Your Husband Not Attracted To You?), unhappiness can look a lot like your spouse is not attracted to you.

How Emotional Trauma Affects Everyday Interactions Part 3

How Emotional Trauma Affects Everyday Interactions Part 3

As Teri and Tamara have discussed so far this week, trauma is not necessarily something that happens that creates Post Traumatic Stress, but is often times things that may seem small that happen to us when we are growing up or events that occur as adults. As Teri said, a trauma reaction is when the victim transfers the abuse experience to that moment and feels like they are transported in a time machine back to the traumatizing event. Today I want to discuss with you the traumatizing affects created from an affair. 

4 Myths about Affairs Part 2

4 Myths about Affairs Part 2

There's no doubt that affairs cause grief, heartache, destruction and pain in relationships. One of the most important things to do when dealing with infidelity is to get information. Not only information to heal, but information that is correct. This week we're discussing myths people may have about affairs.

The difference between toxic and healthy secrets

So now you know what toxic and healthy secrets look like and how they impact your relationships... How do you know the difference between the two?  Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you determine the difference: 1.  What is the intention?  If the intention is to restore or promote passion and intimacy (e.g., not telling a spouse about a surprise date or party on their behalf), chances are that it's a healthy secret.  If the intention is to try and keep someone from feeling "hurt" (e.g., keeping someone from feeling angry that you have done something hurtful), the chances are that it's toxic.

2.  Is the secret effecting the relationship?  For example, if you feel that your partners behavior or appearance (e.g., their physical appearance or weight, their emotional outbursts) are causing you difficulty with intimacy, sharing your feelings about this "secret" can have a positive impact on the relationship (even though it might be painful for your partner to hear this).  If certain issues aren't impacting intimacy or other aspects of the relationship, but you are sharing a lot of critical and judgemental things with your partner, it may not be necessary and only push them further away and cause them to feel inadequate.

3.  Does someone get hurt as a result of keeping the secret?  Secrets like physical, emotional, and sexual abuse can cause someone t0 get hurt as a result of keeping the secret, and are therefore toxic.  Even if it's someone you don't know, having the knowledge that someone is (0r has been) abusive and keeping it a secret can keep the abusive person protected, which allows the abuse to continue with others.  If you are keeping a secret about an addiction or an affair, it can cause feelings of betrayal in the relationship when the truth finally comes out (which it will!).  If no one will get hurt as a result of the secret, it most likely is a healthy secret.

4.  Do YOU get hurt as a result of keeping the secret?  Secrets such as spending money and acquiring debt, having an affair, withholding information about previous abuse or neglect, can cause so much shame over not allowing your partner to know who you really are and what you struggle with in your internal world.  This not only hurts the relationship, but hurts YOU.  It doesn't allow others to know who you really are.  If a secret is hurting you, it is most likely toxic.

These are just a few of the questions to ask when trying to determine whether a secret is toxic or healthy. Thank you for reading!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

How toxic and healthy secrets impact our relationships

Teri and Tammy have discussed both toxic secrets and healthy secrets, but how do each of them impact our relationships with others? Toxic Secrets:

  • Create an unsafe relationship which makes intimacy difficult, if not impossible, to have
  • Create distance between the secret keeper and the one who is kept in the dark
  • Create alliances and dependency between the secret keeper and anyone who knows the truth
  • Usually come out in time, and can create a great deal of resentment and anger when they emerge
  • Can be dangerous and cause people harm, which doesn't protect and nurture those around you
  • Can cause the secret keeper to feel isolated and alone (which other people feel... even if they can't name what it is.)
  • Doesn't allow for the freedom of healthy decision making.  If someone is keeping a secret that is toxic, how can the other person make an accurate decision if they don't have all of the information to do so?

Healthy Secrets:

  • Can create a sense of healthy mystery in relationships and help to keep passion and intimacy alive
  • Create a sense of "self" separate from the other person (or people), which is interdependent
  • Promote respect and allow a relationship to have healthy boundaries
  • Nurture a relationship and protect it from hurtful information that will only harm (as opposed to help the relationship grow)
  • Creates a sense of "grace" and kindness that allow a relationship to grow stronger

These are only a few examples of how both toxic and healthy secrets can impact our relationships. Check back tomorrow when we will discuss how you can tell the difference between toxic and healthy secrets.  Thanks for reading!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Toxic Secrets

This week we are talking about secrets! Secrets come in many forms. There are healthy secrets, but also toxic ones. What is the difference? A toxic secret is one that will block you from intimacy and puts walls between you and your loved one. Support4change.com says, toxic secrets "hide a part of your heart, disguise your vulnerability which denies a gift to your loved one, or prevents your loved one from supporting you." Some will call them white lies, or lies of omission. People hold secrets to protect others, out of fear, they feel it could end a relationship, or because it's their job. As a therapist I hold many secrets. I can't count the number of times someone has said "I've never told anyone else that." Usually after a person reveals their secrets they experience a powerful sense of freedom. As the saying goes, "The truth will set you free." Toxic secrets can "haunt" you and cause emotional havoc. They can become poisonous and bleed dysfunction into your relationships and your moods.

Here are some examples of toxic secrets:

  • Abuse- Keeping the secret that someone is hurting you emotionally, verbally, sexually, or physically will make things worse for you and possibly for others. If you do not voice your pain, the perpetrator could inflict abuse to someone else down the road. Sharing this secret could save someone else's life- including your own. (**If you are in an abusive relationship, please seek professional help to consult on a safe way to disclose the abuse.)
  • Affairs- When you have an affair, it will block the relationship from being fulfilling. Even if it is scary to reveal this secret, many couples are able to heal and create a relationship they never thought possible if they do it right.
  • Addictions- When someone is struggling with an addiction, it will only thrive more when they keep it a secret. The first step to overcoming an addiction is not keeping it a secret anymore to yourself and others.
  • Legal issues-Keeping these a secret could be dangerous and cause pain for others around you. If you have a legal matter, not revealing it in a close relationship could cause someone to feel betrayed. You are lying to them by hiding part of yourself.
  • Health concerns- Keeping these fears inside will block you from being able to lean on a support system and your doctor. You may need help from others. If they don't know what is going on, they won't know what to do to help you.
  • Emotions- Hiding your emotions can result in internal turmoil for someone. Keeping your emotions a secret will cause you to carry your pain alone. Sharing your emotions will keep you real and open up doors to emotional intimacy in relationships.

We are not saying you need to share every detail of your life with everyone you meet. There are boundaries to keep in mind and you need to make sure you are revealing secrets to people you feel emotionally safe with. Remember toxic secrets have more power when they are kept. The more you keep them, they more alone you will feel.

Check in tomorrow as Tammy tells us about healthy secrets!

Guest post by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW is a licensed virtual therapist at Renewed Horizon Counseling. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Renewed Horizon Counseling services Indiana & Florida.

Depression- How it Affects Relationships

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 15 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the U.S. population age 18 and older, is affected with a major depression in a given year. If you or your loved one is experiencing depression, the chances that it will affect your relationship, friendships & family relationships are very high. How can depression affect relationships or marriages? First of all, depression makes a person want to isolate. The desire to hang around others, including close friends and relatives dwindles. Depression makes a person feel exhausted, and even if one can't sleep well, all you feel like doing is laying around the house, or laying in the bed. When in a relationship, unless the non-depressed person is willing to lay around too, the feelings of wanting to isolate and wanting to lay around are slowly going to create distance between the relationship. At first the non-depressed person is going to try to draw the depressed person out of their shell and suggest things to do (after all, they were attracted to each other b/c of common interests). However, after they get turned down enough times, they will quit asking and will either go without the depressed person (creating distance), or will stay at home themselves. If they choose to stay at home, this can lead to resentment and anger on their part (creating emotional distance).

If the depressed person is a parent, it will be hard for them to do their parenting responsibilities. They may find themselves doing the bare necessities, and then "checking out" for the rest of the evening. A depressed person's children may go to them for nurturing or emotional support, only to find their parent unable to provide those needs for them. The child is then left wondering what is wrong with mommy or daddy. The non-depressed parent may find themselves feeling more overwhelmed as they slowly see themselves becoming a single-parent in a 2-parent household.

Depression can make a person seems/come across as if they "don't care about anything"... including their relationships, jobs, children, responsibilities, etc. This couldn't be further from the truth! However, when a non-depressed encounters this perceived attitude, they get confused and sometimes arguments start. At the same time, depression can manifest itself in physical symptoms. It can create migraines, backaches, gastro-intestinal problems, unexplained pain, high-blood pressure, and many other health issues. This can render a person sick for days, weeks or years, depending upon how long their depressive episode goes untreated. These physical problems can limit a person's ability to be active, not be able to do things they once enjoyed, or even be so severe that a person is rendered disabled and face job loss.

Depression can also affect a person sex drive. I think it goes without saying how this can affect relationships! Being unable to be sexually intimate in a relationship can have serious implications. Oftentimes it manifests itself in the form of not having any desire to initiate sex, or an inability to enjoy sex.  The non-depressed person may have a hard time understanding how the depression is affecting the sex drive, and may take it personally, thinking their spouse finds them unattractive or undesirable.

In tying all of this together, what this can ultimately lead to for a marriage/relationship is an affair. As you can see, distance gets created slowly and slowly over time. When discord is present in a relationship, the risk for infidelity increases tenfold. If you notice any of these in yourself or in a loved one, please get help.

Tomorrow, we will discuss how to cope with depression.

Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counselingat Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

Emotional Affairs Part 4

There are many signs of emotional affairs, if you know what to look for.  While these signs can also be related to other life issues, as well as physical or sexual infidelity, there are some common themes to look for when dealing with an emotional affair:

  • Hearing your partner talk about another person of the opposite sex more frequently and with more fondness than before.  It could be a co-worker or old friend from high school from Facebook that your partner has been talking to on the phone.  When you confront your partner about your discomfort with the situation, he/she may become very defensive and be adamant they are "just friends".
  • Your spouse or partner no longer confides in you intimately any longer.  You may find out that he/she is sharing things of a personal or intimate nature with another person of the opposite sex, which are things that need to be reserved exclusively for your relationship.
  • Stange phone behavior, including secretive phone calls or text messages.  Your partner may hide the phone or hang up the phone when you walk in the room, or they may keep the face of the phone turned down when it is sitting in the open.  Also, your partner may be unreachable by phone for long periods of time when out of the house, and may fail to promptly return text messages or phone calls when they didn't used to do that in the past. He/she may refuse to answer the phone when they are with their "friend".
  • Your partner may be working later than usual, more often than usual, with no specific changes to his/her job title.  Also, your partner may be going out more frequently without you, wants to spend more time away from you, and could be secretive or evasive when sharing where he/she is.
  • Your partner may be overly flirtatious when around a certain "friend", speaking to them the way you remember he/she did with you when you first started dating.  Your partner may also act jealous when he hears of the other person going on dates, or when they spend time with members of the opposite sex.
  • You notice your partner keeping more secrets from you, and feel them avoiding intimacy with you.  You find out that another person of the opposite sex seems to know more about him/her than you do lately.

These are only a few of the signs to look for with emotional affairs.  For more information, feel free to contact us at Imagine Hope Counseling!  Check back next week for our new blog topic...   10 Tips for Positive Parenting.

Written by: Joleen Watson, MS, NCC

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.