Preventing affair in marriage

Marriage is a source of happiness but in affairs, heartache and pain are most intense. Moreover, if it leads to divorce, its adverse ripple effects dwell long and deep in both partners and the children.

Like driving in a treacherous, winding road, when unwarned, we drive leisurely or even at high speed, negligent of danger. But when alerted to warning signs, we exercise caution, slow down, and are extra watchful. Thus, we avert fatal accidents.

Usually, people do not intentionally have an affair. They are mostly caught unaware. Relationships developed in close proximity in the office or business meetings. By and by, conversations deepen, feelings develop, and before they know it, they are in an intimate relationship. So here are a few tips on being vigilant on the road of marriage and warning signs to heed.

1) Be aware of any distance that has developed between you and your partner. Identify your need and gently make your request known to your partner. For example, say “I notice that we are having tiffs about household chores often. I really like to have more peace at home. Can we sit down and talk this over and see what I can do to help you feel better?” Notice this is not finger-pointing nor a power struggle but stating your need and phrasing it in a way that contributes to the partner’s sense of well-being. Be a model of good communication rather than a critic. Affair usually meets an unmet need in marriage. An unaddressed dissatisfaction becomes long drawn likely causes the partner to look elsewhere to meet an unmet need.

2) Build a secure sense of self. It is easier to blame our partner for our dissatisfaction with the relationship. But marriage is an interaction between 2 persons. The only behaviour we can change is our own. Our marital relationship mirrors our relationship with parents – is there a lesson or discovery to be made from our family of origin?

3) One of the innocent ways of starting an affair is to share your marital dissatisfaction with your friend/ colleague of the opposite gender – resist that. Instead, seek professional help.

As early detection of cancer has a higher success rate of treatment, early intervention in marital discord increases the chances of repair.

Written by:
Tan Soh Hiang
Marriage and Family Therapist
SACAC Counselling

Body Image And Its Effect On The Child’s Self Esteem And Confidence

Body image is the way that someone perceives their own bodies and how others perceive them. In simple words, it relates to one’s shape, size, and weight. Body image may vary from unhealthy to healthy or vice-versa at the different stages in one’s life. A healthy body image in early years lays the foundation for good physical and mental health.

Some facts pointed out by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

• Body size awareness tends to start around the age of 5 in children.
• 40-60% of elementary school girls and 25% of elementary school boys are
worried about weight gain.
• By preteens, 50% of girls are dissatisfied with weight, shape and start to
withdraw from activities because they feel bad about their appearance
• In middle school, girls start to actively manage their appearance (more than boys), and is particularly stressful for them because of the change in body shape, as a result of puberty.

Research data shows that body satisfaction may hit a low between the ages of 12-15, this means that obsession with “looks”, starts at a much earlier age. The need to look perfect is spreading across most age groups, ethnicity, strata and the influence seems to be strong and impossible to ignore.

Did you know that, 24-year-old double Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Adlington, who was credited to inspire a generation of young swimmers, was reduced to tears, feeling insecure during a conversation about body image after her retirement from the sport, on BBC breakfast?

Family life and culture tend to have a strong influence on the teen’s views about their bodies. Different cultures and families have varied views about ideal body shapes and sizes – some being more encouraging and realistic than others. The family pressures to look perfect, coaches’ expectations of “making weight” for the sports team, body changes during puberty may impact the child’s perception of body image. Interestingly, media has been defining the “ideal” size by bombarding us with unrealistic, airbrushed pictures, creating a negative influence on our children’s concept of body image. Health professionals have pointed out if a teenager is constantly seeking assurance on their appearance, overly obsessed with looks, shows a drastic change in food habits, or a loss of considerable weight, might be struggling with body image issues.

Body image plays a major role in defining a teenager’s self-esteem. It’s hard to feel good about oneself if one is unhappy with their bodies and in turn their appearance. Self-esteem, in other words, is the “real” opinion one has of themselves. It’s something that can’t be touched or seen but seems to be always following us around like a shadow. Some children may try to compensate the way they feel by manipulating (excessive exercise routines, using fad diets, counting calories, etc.) their body images. Parents can play an important role in helping children form a positive body image.

Tips to Help Boost Your Child’s Positive Body Image

• Ensure use of positive statements around food, meal times, body sizes, and shapes.
• Promote and model healthy behaviors, to ensure “fit” bodies with higher levels of self-esteem and healthier body images.
• Avoid practicing fad diets and introduce “Self-Attuned eating”, a concept of learning to pay attention to and trust feelings of hunger and fullness – this will help promote a healthy, normalizing attitude toward eating
• As a parent, appreciate and celebrate your own body for what it can do, not just how it looks
• Teach by modeling to accept and value people for who they are irrespective of their looks and appearance.
• Compliment children on their qualities rather than their physical appearance
• Enhancing the children’s knowledge on the authenticity of the images on screens and magazines projected by media around us
• Educate children on changes in body type and sizes, during puberty

Parents are increasingly concerned at the rate of dissatisfaction among children with their appearances. On seeing signs, they wonder whether they should ignore or be concerned as it could be the start of bigger body issues. If you think your child is experiencing any challenges with body image, start by talking about your concerns with them. If things don’t change, consider talking to a health professional to get some support.

Written by:
Vinti Mittal

Director SACAC Counselling Pte Ltd
Clinical Member SAC
SAC Registered Counsellor
CMSAC, Reg, CLR, MSc (Counselling), Grad Cert. (Counselling)
SACAC Counselling

Are people with a burn-out lazy people? NO, on the contrary.

First of all, what is a burn-out?

Having stress is not always bad or damaging, in fact it can even be helpful. It prepares us, helps us achieve things in life and to avoid and act on danger (Fight/Flight). If we don’t have energy left and we need that energy for something our hormonal stress system gets activated to make more energy available. We are usually not aware of this and don’t notice this. A feedback system in our body shuts down the hormonal system if there is enough energy made free.

However, stress is unhealthy if it lasts too long or if there is too little relaxation after stress (recovery time). The “income” and “outcome” of energy is not balanced. The stress system is activated all the time and you are living on your reserves. Slowly but surely the neurohormonal control system will get disrupted. This creates a downward spiral, the system needs to work harder (increasing stress physiology) in order to be able to continue to perform.

We usually only notice it when it is too late and are not expecting it. Compare it with a car: Your car drives perfectly well, until you don’t give the car fuel. You will first be able to drive a bit further on the reserve tank, but eventually when the spare fuel is used the car will not move another inch. No matter how hard you try the tank is really empty > exhausted > burned out.

Second, people with a burn out are not Lazy. On the contrary.

Usually they are people that like to work hard, are willing to help others, are very driven, wanting to do the right thing, can be strict/harsh/critical towards themselves and/or  have difficulty knowing where their limits are and acting on them. They are usually an ideal friend, colleague, employee and husband/wife. But the problem is they don’t think about themselves and their body.

How do we get that recovery time in this busy social society? In a society where everyone has high expectations of themselves and others, we are able to access everything on our phones and tablets, we are “on” all day long and our brain gets constant stimulation and information to process.

My biggest advise would be to act on the following quote:

“Listen to your body when it whispers, so you don’t have to hear it scream.”

My next blog will be about how to cope with a burn-out.


Written by:

Flo Westendorp
Registered Clinical Psychologist
SACAC Counselling


Does unconditional love exist?

Could there be a debate between people who prefer dogs and those who prefer cats? We can be certain of one thing: the unconditional love we receive from our pets is good for our health.
Whether you are greeted at the door by your dog wagging his tail yapping happily or by your cat looking at you indifferently and seems to mean “Oh, it’s just you”, the fact is that animals give us as much love as we can take, and more.

Many studies have looked at the health benefits of pets, and the result is always positive. If you live alone, a pet can bring you the comfort of a friend or family member.  Pets have a very beneficial effect on our social and emotional well-being. Just knowing that “someone” is waiting for you at home at the end of the day is enough to help you feel good. Pets can also reduce stress and anxiety. Studies show that patients with Alzheimer’s disease experience fewer anxiety episodes when there is an animal in the house. Even those who care for these patients experience less stress and improve their well-being when a pet lives in the home.
People in high-stress employment areas were to find out that animals positive effect on high blood pressure. Playing with your dog and pampering your cat really lowers blood pressure. It also helps reduce high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
Some cat owners find that the sound of the purr of their cat is enough to inspire calm. Animal owners are known to be happier, healthier, and more responsive people than people who do not.
Specifically, pet owners have greater self-esteem, are in better physical shape, are less bored, are more conscientious and more extroverted, and tend to be less fearful and less concerned than people who do not.
Dr. McConnell titled his research, Friends with Benefits: The Positive Consequences of Pet Ownership, and goes on to say that in fact dog owners show more feelings of belonging and self-esteem, and they have a happy life.

Written by:
Saveria Cristofari
Counsellor & Psychotherapist
SACAC Counselling