Do you frequently prioritize the needs of those you care for, at the expense of your own? Do you find it difficult to make space in your life for pleasurable activities or “me-time?” Do you feel obligated to care for your elderly parents or a mentally ill/disabled family member, and worry that your life will never truly feel like your own again? Following a divorce, do you fear that you and your ex-partner are unable to communicate and/or co-parent effectively? Perhaps you are burdened by the weight of a relationship that you feel you have no control over or feel afraid to set healthy boundaries. You might find yourself feeling sad or depressed because you are so overwhelmed with your care taking role. Maybe you feel like you’re starting to lose your dreams for a happy, fulfilling life, and fear that if you are unable to find balance in your caregiving and/or demanding relationships, you’ll end up lost, miserable and ultimately alone.
Relationships can be difficult to navigate, especially when you feel obligated to maintain a challenging or unhappy relationship, perhaps due to a sense of duty, love and/or concern. Becoming a caregiver, for example, can often mean pushing your personal needs aside, which can be a lonely, confusing and frustrating experience. You may feel guilty when unwelcome emotions, such as anger or resentment, emerge. Maybe you feel trapped, forced to maintain a civil relationship with an ex or a family member for the sake of children or loved ones. It may be that you’re forsaking your own happiness and fulfillment with the good intention of making another person happy. Do you wish you could maintain your caregiving relationships and transition through the changes and transitions inevitable in relationships while still prioritizing your own joy, health and peace?
Navigating Relationships In Today’s High-Demand Society
Many Americans today find themselves as part of the “sandwich” generation, taking care of adult relatives (often elderly parents) as well as their children. Statistics show that informal or unpaid caregiving is on the rise, with approximately 43.5 million people providing unpaid care to an adult or child in a 12-month period, according to a 2015 National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP study. And, while the number of male caregivers is increasing, females still shoulder 75 percent of all caregiving responsibilities. Additionally, divorce rates show that 50 percent of American couples with children will divorce and have to co-parent outside of a traditional, romantic relationship. And, while it’s becoming common in today’s society to have unusual or untraditional living situations, many people still suffer with feelings of guilt, resentment or inadequacy as a result of changing or challenging relationships. Many of us believe that in order to be a responsible adult, we must forgo our needs and desires as an individual. However, the truth is that it is impossible to be a successful caregiver while your own needs go unmet. In reality, you choose how much attention and care to give to all of your relationships, including your relationship with yourself.
Prioritizing self-care can be an uncomfortable experience for many adults, especially care-giving women. It can feel wrong to spend time, energy and/or money that you feel could be given to a dependent on yourself, however, self-care is an essential part of life and will help you better manage all the roles you hold, especially as a caregiver or co-parent. Relationship therapy can be an important and effective tool in helping you reorganize your self-care priorities and move toward a more balanced, joyful life. A skilled and compassionate relationship therapist can help you get to the root of your issues with guilt, resentment and/or worry, develop effective communication skills and embark upon a new, more balanced path forward in your relationships.
Relationship Therapy Can Help You Live A Healthier, Happier Life
In relationship counseling sessions, your therapist will listen with compassion and understanding as you recount interactions in your changing or challenging relationships, helping to identify behavioral patterns and places where communication breaks down. He or she can also offer practical strategies that you can use to better navigate stressful or frustrating situations. As you develop an increased awareness about the root causes of your frustrations and your personal needs, you can begin to break out of your codependency and gain the skills you need to express your desires and emotions clearly and effectively. You can learn to set boundaries with others so that you can begin living a full, healthy and rewarding life again.
While relationship problems are inevitable, speaking to an experienced, impartial relationship therapist can help you see things from a broader, more neutral and helpful perspective. As a relationship, communication specialist I spend a vast majority of my day working with couples and/or families who face challenges in sustaining healthy relationships. I have helped people from all walks of life live more fulfilling lives, often after they have spent years struggling with relationship issues. With time, help and support, you can learn to manage difficult emotions, develop effective communication skills, foster healthy, appropriate relationships and bring joy back into your life.
You still may have questions and concerns about relationship counseling…
I don’t have a choice; I have to take care of my loved one.
Many people feel obliged to care for elderly parents or other relatives, as well as family members who are struggling. While your sense of duty may compel you into thinking otherwise, it’s important to realize that becoming a caregiver at your own expense is indeed a choice, too, and one you don’t have to make. Relationship therapy can help you learn that finding balance in your life is the best choice you can make for you and your loved ones. It is possible to care for yourself in addition to your loved one, which is an essential part of fostering a healthy, happy, long-term relationship.
This is a family problem, how can therapy help?
While you may feel reluctant to share personal relationship problems with a non-family member, speaking with a professional, highly experienced therapist can be extremely helpful in identifying and resolving ineffective thought and behavior patterns. Relationship therapy provides you with the opportunity to unburden fears and frustrations to an impartial third ear, allowing you to experience relief. In therapy you can work toward resolving relationship imbalances and implementing more effective and rewarding strategies.
Nobody can understand what I’m going through.
Whether you’re a parent of a mentally ill child, or going through a difficult divorce, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone in your suffering. A skilled and compassionate therapist can help you understand and come to terms with the issues in your relationships, as well as develop strategies to find more balance in your life as a caretaker. This may mean learning how to become a single parent, how to get along with an ex-partner and/or how to let go of unnecessary guilt and resentment that may be holding you back from living a more jubilant life. What’s important is that you don’t give up hope. There is always help and a path toward healing.
You Can Foster Balance, Joy And Ease In Your Relationships
If you’re ready to begin reframing your relationship, I can help. Call (516) 639-0925 today to set up an appointment at my Smithtown, NY location. During your complimentary 15-minute phone consultation, I can answer any questions you may have and set up an initial meeting in which you can relax and learn about the benefits of working with a relationship therapist.