Couples Counseling – Building Trust in a Relationship after an Affair

Consistency Over Time = Results

“Success is achieved by a consistent working through of issues, each time with the partners taking more responsibility with the tools that they have learned from previous sessions. I have helped many couples, and I can help you” Dr. Kerns

Consistency is also vitally important when it come to building trust following an affair. After an affair the partners in a couple must reliably demonstrate, over time, that they have changed.

How is this achieved? When couples experience a betrayal in their relationship they are disappointed and angry. Many times in the first few weeks, the only civil conversation they have is in my office. Initially they may require sessions 2 times a week to assist in developing a new level of communication. In this time they are adjusting to living with their new reality.

How do we define our life together, now that this has happened?

Dr. Marie Kerns, PsyD. is a Skilled Psychotherapist, Supervisor, Adjunct Faculty, and Board Member. She is ready to help you and your partner navigate this tough time.

To make an appointment please call 949-285-5199
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How do I connect with my partner? We’ve lost that loving feeling. 949-285-5199

Most of my couples come into counseling feeling a disconnection from their partner. This may manifest itself as arguing, porn addiction, communication issues, affairs, the silent treatment etc.. So, what’s going on? Why all this distance?

As a therapist, my challenge is to deescalate negative cycles of interacting, while I help to facilitate building a secure attachment. A secure attachment helps to create safety in the relationship.

You may wonder what a negative cycle is and why it occurs. Some negative cycles begin when a couple is transitioning from one phase of life to another. Such as adjusting to parenthood or one partner getting a promotion at work. Many times a job loss brings new problems to the surface.

In any of these circumstances couples begin to blame each other for their problems. The stress of adjustment leads to insecurities. A new way of defining their life and the relationship serves to comfort and contain anxieties if a mutual understanding is developed.

Counseling can help a couple navigate this challenge of redefining their relationship and the adjustment to change. Without an agreement on the definition of their life together misunderstandings can develop.

Misunderstandings can cause conflict, leading to an increase in stress and anxiety. The change in each partners behavior, due to the misunderstanding, then leads to an increase in stress and anxiety, which manifests into further misunderstanding, leading to anger and frustration. The partners in the couple then begin to wonder why they married their partner.

This cycles continues and can be interrupted through counseling. 

 If you experience Conflict and/or Stress over: 

  • decision making
  • misunderstanding with your partner
  • not feeling appreciated
  • cybersex addiction
  • infidelity
  • problems with alcohol
  • gambling losses
  • lack of restful sleep,
  • improper diet,
  • the demands of life
  • overwork,
  • lack of work,
  • issues with lack of direction in life,
  • anxiety over being overweight
  • anxiety over aging issues
  • constant arguing and misunderstanding in relationships
  • confusion over what decision to make

As stated earlier a secure attachment helps to create safety in the relationship. When each partner feels the emotional support of their mate these life challenges are easier to work through.

Please follow my blog. I will continue to explore how I work with my clients to build a secure bond.

If you would like to make an appointment with me please call 949-285-5199

Couples Counseling – The Other Side of Increased Sexual Desire

In my previous blog I explored Mid-life women and Increased Sexual Desire. I will now discuss how many couples come into counseling with conflicts over Intimacy Issues. After years of parenting and living a domestic life together, deciding who takes out the trash, and arguing over dirty clothes left on the bedroom floor, how is it possible to integrate romantic desire? Will they ever be able to bring back the passion of their early years?

Esther Perel, (2010, p. 23) calls this double flame a paradox. In a loving secure relationship one flame is ignited and burns for the security of a committed life. This often conflicts with an opposing flame for the erotic, which requires excitement and novelty to ignite its flame, and to keep it burning.

For many couples this causes conflict in their relationship and they seek therapy. Jungian thought offers this type of paradox as a way to personal growth. James Hollis, a Jungian analyst states that, “We suffer authentically when we experience a conflict of opposites, a conflict between duty, say, and what we really want” (On This Journey We Call Our Life, 2003, p. 130).    

Perel states, “Love is about having and desire is about wanting” (Lieblum, 2010, 23), but it does present a problem, in that it leads us to think we have to have one without the other. This polarized thinking, in Jungian psychology, is a generally known principal called “holding the tension of opposites”. In holding two opposing positions the possibility of a third emerges, an answer that can change ones perspective, offering growth and maturity at the same time.  “ It is better to allow both options to continue to be present, working underneath the level of consciousness, …If one holds long enough, typically a third way emerges, an answer that one didn’t even realize was an answer to the original question” (Longpré, 2013).    

In the case of Alicia and Roberto, Perel works together with this couple to discover their pattern, “negative escalation, and how it follows a sequence of complementary reactions” (Lieblum, 2010, p.33). This pattern consists of one partner pressuring the other for sex, causing the pressured partner to distance. This is a typical scenario presented to therapists in couples sex counseling. Perel creatively uses interventions that increase this couples awareness of their own sexual desire and patterns, bringing them from conflict to understanding.   

 She suggested Alicia carry a notebook to journal any erotic thoughts. This brought awareness to Alicia of her internal desires and how often they occur. With many women I have treated in couples counseling Perel’s technique has brought dramatic results. Perel stresses that owning these desires is an important component to this exercise, in that it will bring Alicia closer to Roberto by seeing her sexuality as part of herself, and not just Roberto, a boundary she needs to acknowledge.   

Roberto is puzzled that, “Alicia talks about wanting to be intimate with the person with whom she is playing seductive games, but on the other hand, her predilection is for erotic games of anonymity, of not knowing the person” (Lieblum, 2010, p.36). This is another common tension in the relationship that when skillfully integrated can have beneficial consequences.  

You may call Dr. Kerns for references or to set up an appointment at 949-285-5199. 



Introducing Orange County Couples Counseling’s New Blog

COUPLES COUNSELING is my passion. In this new blog I will be posting helpful information and suggestions that support couples who experience challenges in their relationship.



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