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Disconnect Bridged: Getting Closer in Your Relationship

She thought him self-centered. He thought her a complainer.

He hailed from a family where dad abandoned him and his mother, when he was an infant. Grandmother, a widow, took care of him much of the time, feeling guity for his situation.

Given his mom was hard working and grandmother aging, as he got older he was simply left much to his own to manage. He really only had himself to worry about, carried on as he wished, and didn’t have any role model for how parents might get along.

She grew up between two warring parents.

Her mother kept her head down mostly, seeking to avoid conflict and the violence that would ensue.

She learned to be indirect, never conspicuous or asking for anything for herself. She didn’t want to poke the bear. She mostly hid.

Within their relationship, their upbringing played out.

He basically did what he wanted, somewhat oblivious to her needs and wants.

She, not wanting to poke the bear by placing expectations or demands, did fall to complaining when her unvoiced needs weren’t met. She felt he should just know and act accordingly. When he didn’t, she stewed.

There were a few situations where she happened to voice a desire. Interestingly, when she did so, he always obliged.

It turns out both were lovely people. Both oblivious to the impact of their respective growing up experiences, let alone the other’s.

I pointed out that as she made her needs known, he obliged. I also pointed out that in this relationship, there was no particular yelling, shouting name calling or physical indicators of anger or violence.

The fellow was actually gentle and respectful, even though unaware of her needs and wants.

The challenge was getting them more plugged into each other, more aware of respective needs and expectations.

The solution was simply speaking up, sharing with each other want they wanted or needed.

Given both were otherwise reasonable albeit misunderstood, speaking up could solve much of their disconnect.

There was a perceived risk for her.

She saw how speaking up brought harm to her mother. Because of that, he needed to present as available and open. He needed to ask how she was, how her day was and if there was anything she would like from him.

Once asked, she needed to let him in and be forthright about what she needed or wanted of him.

Therein they both had things to practice.

Those seemingly small things were far from their life experience. It literally took practice.

They did practice and things improved.

With practice the new behavior became more automatic.

They just found themselves getting along better and enjoying the relationship.

As scary as the thought of counseling was, for them it worked.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Couple Counseling? Maybe in time….

I recently declined two requests for couple counseling.

I always screen referrals for domestic violence as well as substance use. I ask a series of questions that can continue depending on the answers.

Therein we can develop a risk profile for the likelihood of future violence.

Couple counseling can be an intense setting where issues are laid bare.

If a partner discloses issues of violence or abuse, it can upset the other who engages in such behavior. That upset can come out later as violence against their partner.

Interestingly, in both cases the callers were prepared to continue with couple counseling despite their disclosures of untoward behavior.

This is where the therapist must make a decision.

Just because the caller feels the situation is safe enough to continue, doesn’t mean it actually is. It doesn’t mean the therapist is comfortable with the possible degree of risk.

I suggested individual counseling in both cases.

One needs to determine if the relationship is truly safe, if the relationship should continue and how to manage in the situation.

The other needs to address the use of violent and/or controlling behavior, where it comes from, how to take responsibility and how to manage it.

If the one who has been violent and/or controlling refuses to attend or afterwards refuses to allow communication between their partner and therapist to review progress, those are red flags.

Please know, not all therapist screen for domestic violence ahead of providing service.

Screening is no guarantee of safety either. Much always depends on the honesty of the person reporting. Despite that, screening is at least one safeguard to lower the risk of harm.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Mixing In On Your Ex’s New Life – Don’t Do It!

She thought she would do his new girlfriend a favor. She decided to tell her he was a narcissist. She just wanted to warn him. You know, a sisters thing.

Trouble is, it backfired.

The new girlfriend was still in the charming and love bombing phase with him. She loved this guy. Next to her previous boyfriend she thought he was amazing.

The new girlfriend had already totally bought it when he explained his ex was crazy, so when she called to warn her of him, it was just taken as evidence of her craziness and maliciousness.

With that his stories of her keeping the kids from him were also accepted so she would pile on when the kids did visit, telling them how awful their mother was.

The relationship between the new girlfriend and her ex was solidified on the basis of her being the enemy. It lasted for years.

I’m sure you can appreciate the moral of this one.

Certainly think twice about jumping in on your ex’s new relationship.

Keep your boundaries tight.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

What Will I Be When I Grow Up?

Take pride in the child who wants to be a chef, a carpenter, a plumber, a dancer, a musician….

The issue is finding a passion and supporting it. If they have found it, let them run with it.

Let them explore. Get out of their way.

Point them towards where they may gather experience. Let them try, reach.

Therein they have purpose. It need not be easy. Purpose finds its way.

There is no waste of experience. Experience teaches.

If by chance they change their mind, so be it. Having tried, explored, engaged, from there they may find yet another passion, learning all the way.

Not all lives follow a predictable education and vocational trajectory. We don’t want to discourage.

Watch the journey. Be curious. Be pleased for their efforts more than outcomes.

One rarely finds oneself under the mismatched expectations of another.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

An Affair and Trauma

Please realize, an affair is a traumatic experience for the one cheated on.

Regardless the quality or issues in the relationship, fidelity remains an expectation.

When broken, trust is difficult to repair.

That repair requires unequivocal taking of responsibility by the one who had the affair.

There is no wiggling around trying to blame it on a poor relationship, drugs, alcohol, whatever.

Repair also requires a life of transparency on a go-forward basis. Your partner should never have to guess one’s whereabouts or the company one keeps.

Even if one does the work to improve the relationship, there must be an appreciation of the trauma the affair imposed.

That means there is no ever “getting over it.”

It will always be there, much like a wine stain on a white tablecloth. Cover it up, lay out the best dishes. It remains.

So with that, one must accept those consequences.

It doesn’t mean one must forever apologize. It’s not about that, assuming a genuine apology has been provided.

It’s just about understanding, accepting and living with the impact of one’s affair upon another.

Indeed, as one does understand and accept their role in the trauma of their partner, therein the partner may regain respect.

That contributes to the repair of the relationship.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

Gender? Transcend Any Label

For some, gender can be so confusing. Not fitting neatly into a checkbox can leave one feeling amiss.

As humans we strive for and typically require certainty. Ambiguity is unsettling.

Figuring out one’s gender may not be a destination, but a journey. Therein ambiguity continues.

Then there are those around you. They seek to have a definitive understanding of who you are all while you remain uncertain.

You may find yourself seeking to provide an answer to stave off the discomfort of the uncertainty. If not your own, then that felt by another projected upon you.

With that more discomfort. The label fails over time. You are perceived to have changed.

Truth is, you’ve just moved on from the comforting label you provided another seeking some peace from their discomfort, only now to confound with more ambiguity.

Learn to live with your uncertainty. As you do, so may it be easier for those others.

Explain you may never find a landing place for your gender. It may forever be a journey.

Do know, it changes nothing of your worth, your value, your intelligence, your core being.

Radiate, for regardless of landing on a gender, you are still beautiful and wonderful.

That can be your landing place. That can be your stability, your certainty. That need not confuse.

Radiate. Be a lovely person. Let that be your core.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

For Some, the Greater the Closeness, the Greater the Perceived Risk

Why would you want to invest in a relationship if what you saw between your parents was yelling, screaming, put-downs, or even hitting, pushing, shoving and perhaps even injuries?

The learning for some is the closer you get intimately, the greater the risk of harm and/or betrayal.

The thing is, even if you are with a good person, that fear, conscious or unconscious can undermine getting close.

In what could be a good relationship that can undermine intimacy and sink it.

Many are unaware of the impact of those growing up experiences on present day relationships.

Being insightful still doesn’t mean one sees all that occurs beneath our awareness.

Just be open to self-examination. Be ready to learn some things about yourself you may never have realized.

With that, you are available for growth and the possibility of a better relationship than you witnessed growing up.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

About That Referral, It’s OK to Think Twice

I was asked about a referral of a person described as a narcissist.

The person has apparently attended previous therapy on an individual and group basis. The marital and family issues continue.

The person seeking to make the referral explained that the person always thinks they know more than the therapist.

I declined the referral.

There is no room for the input of another when one is so full of themselves.

As a therapist It is important to know one’s own limits and demonstrate boundaries.

It is also important to know that when seeking to help someone described as a narcissist, if the therapist is unhelpful, it will be the therapist who is next blamed and scorned by the individual.

Limits and boundaries. Even for therapists.

They keep us safe too.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

The Challenge in Leaving an Abusive Relationship

There are many important reasons why someone may not leave an abusive relationship.

People need somewhere to go. Not everyone has alternative accommodations available for themselves, let alone with kids and even pets.

Then on top of accommodations, there is the cost of living beyond that. Food, clothing, transportation. Not all will have sufficient funds. An aspect of abuse can include financial control by the partner.

Leaving with kids can also impact their schooling and social supports. That can weigh heavily into a decision to leave.

Then of course there is the reality of leaving. It’s dangerous. The period of leaving increases the risk of harm as it increases the anger in the partner being left.

These are just some of the practical considerations for a person seeking to leave an abusive relationship.

So please, withhold judgement. Instead, offer support.

Be the person who is there to help.

If you cannot help directly, point to available community services. Do realize that crisis help isn’t always readily available, so point to services that may help plan one’s escape.

That includes women’s shelters because most do offer confidential planning to help women more safely leave an abusive relationship.

Leaving an abusive relationship does take time, planning and support.

Be that person. Be supportive. Be one who is safe to another when their world is anything but safe.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

If Your Childhood Abuser Wasn’t Held Accountable

If you were abused as a child and your parent(s) kept it secret, not wanting to cause turmoil for one’s family or a work relationship or someone else’s family, you are likely not only affected by the abuse at the hands of the abuser but by not having your abuse truly validated and dealt with meaningfully on your behalf.

The lack of holding the abuser openly accountable suggests they or someone else is more important than you and what you experienced.

Just know… that was wrong. You deserved better.

You should not have had your experience minimized or dismissed.

The abuser should have been confronted and not only for you, but for the protection of others likely affected by their abuse too.

Such secrets perpetuate pain and abuse to others and cause further psychological harm to the person abused.

Just know, at your discretion, now as an adult, you don’t have to continue to protect your abuser. You no longer need to keep the painful secret.

Sure there may be consequences, reprocussions.

However, you can take back your worth, your value.

This is always a personal decision. No one should tell you to do so. It’s just that now, grown up, you have the choice and you may not have realized that before.

Now you do.


Are you following me on Facebook yet? If not, you are missing many more posts!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

https://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.