The Middle Way – Finding the Balance for Couples

By Lesley S. Cunningham, MA, LPC After watching a TV show that extolled the idea of the Middle Way, as in Buddhism, it seemed like a very nice solution to life in general … and, for couples, marriages/partnerships, in particular. In this sutta, the Buddha describes the middle way as a path of moderation, between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification. This, according to him, was the path of wisdom. It is not called the middle way because it lies between too much and too litt...
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The Perfect Storm – Perfectionism in Relationships

By Lesley S. Cunningham, MA, LPC We all say, “No one’s perfect!” But there is a subset of people who frankly strive to be and can seem pretty close. Born Perfect We are born as perfect as we will ever be: untainted, un-programmed, and un-manipulated. But soon thereafter, our well-intentioned parents may begin “fulfilling their dreams” through us, consciously and unconsciously. The dreams for their children hopefully will be translated into shaping behaviors that turn boys into success...
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The Couples Dance of Attachment

By Lesley Cunningham, MA, LPC If I have learned nothing else from Dancing with the Stars, it is at least a lovely metaphor for the dancing that couples do to maintain their most comfortable attachment level based on the early pattern they learned in childhood. There are many dance styles performed every week on the fun to watch show, but for our purposes, we will discuss the Tango, a sensual dance involving intimate connected holding, intense eye contact, and dramatic poses; and the Quick S...
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Parent Alienation: Manipulating a Child’s Loyalty

By Lesley S. Cunningham, MA, LPC Basic Instincts Children have a basic instinct: to survive. It is the reason for attachment, it is the reason for crying, and it is the reason why divided loyalties can happen. The survival instinct endows children with the innate ability to “read” their parents and, as a result, they are reading us constantly – our words and vocal intonations, but perhaps more importantly, our every move, the smallest facial expression, sigh, or teary eye. Parents al...
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Conscious Parenting

By Lesley S. Cunningham, MA, LPC I want a do-over! I want to have the wisdom I have now acquired through time, experience, and training and get to re-do being a mother, a wife, a daughter, and friend. If I knew then what I know now, all of my relationships would be beneficiaries of consciousness. For the purpose of this article, I will stick to “Conscious Parenting,” because of all the relationships I wish I had known more about, it is that between my children and me. My son was born ...
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The Language of Behavior

By Lesley S. Cunningham, MA, LPC Do you ever wonder “why” someone does something, especially when it makes little sense to you? Why did my son intentionally break a figurine that I loved? Why did my daughter wear the skirt she knows I hate to my birthday dinner? Why did my partner look down when I asked him where he had been? Baby Talk There are whole divisions of behavioral science dedicated to understanding the various ways we speak without using our voices: eye movement, jaw tension, s...
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Expectations: Malware in the Brain

By Lesley S. Cunningham, MA, LPC From the time we take our first breath, we are exposed directly or vicariously to opinions, beliefs, and ideas that form the way we see the world. They attach to our knowledge base like malware or viruses to our mental hard drive. Some are benign and cause no harm, some are loaded with hate and bigotry, some are lenses of beauty and love through which we see the world, but all involve some measure of molding our view of life and the people who populate it. The ...
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The Good Enough Family

By Lesley Cunningham, MA, LPC Most all of us came from a “good enough” family. We got our basic needs met most of the time; that is, we had adequate food, shelter, and clothing. We were mostly supported through difficulties, whether they were school, first jobs, or difficult relationships. This magical chemistry happens through “good enough” parenting and resources. Parenting can come in the form of birth parents, adoptive parents, grandparents, important near relatives, or family friends – ...
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