Therapy Q&A: Understanding Those Around You – September (2013)

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Written by Catherine Bridwell

Therapy Online: Getting through just one day stress-free is a rare occasion for many. However, by understanding those around you, in the home, the workplace, or even a personal relationship, you can overcome part of what causes that stress in the first place. Catherine Bridwell answers your questions about everyday challenges that can easily be solved through communication and the help of Identity, of course.

catherine-bridwellQUESTION: I broke up with my boyfriend because he cheated, and I feel bad because I am usually a forgiving person.   Is it wrong that I broke up with him?

ANSWER: What is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is unconscionable, what is forgivable and what is not are individual truths.   Certainly you were not wrong to have broken up with a guy who steps out of a committed relationship.   Rather, you’ve made a statement to him and to yourself about your sense of self worth, your personal ethics and your deal breaker boundaries.   You may, someday, feel forgiving but that doesn’t necessarily mean you would return to a relationship in which your core beliefs were disregarded.

Of course, talk about it with him — don’t let the rage that accompanies first learning about cheating be the only determining factor in your decision.   You are not wrong to not forgive the unforgivable.   Time and distance may give you perspective and be helpful.

QUESTION: What is the best way to approach a dear friend who I think is moving too fast in a relationship.   Is it even my business?

ANSWER: Of course it is your business to be a good friend.   To know whether to speak up with your observations, ask yourself:   would you want to hear your friend’s thoughts if the roles were reversed?   If the answer is yes, then ask your friend if she’s open to your observations and concerns.   You could preface your inquiry with: “Would you want me to tell you if . . . so I want to know if you want me to . . . .”

QUESTION: I had a miscarriage within the first few months of being married and I am annoyed that I am feeling so bitter against my husband because he hasn’t had to deal with over a month of healing and surgery, etc.   It’s not like there is anything he can do, but I have this bitterness.   How do I let go?

ANSWER: You are being way too hard on yourself!   Remember: we can’t control how we feel, only how we act.   So, for you feeling bitter is a sign that your emotional needs are not being met.   A miscarriage, surgery, healing can be traumatic.   Of course your new husband can do something: he can ask how you feel, is there anything he can do to help, . . .   A marriage is a partnership, when one partner is struggling the other helps by, at a minimum, being involved and supportive.   Feeling bitter is your red flag — tell your partner you need him to . . . .

QUESTION: I found that there is a friend I wish to no longer be friends with.   She’s exhausting and doesn’t add anything positive to my life.   Do I just kind of distant myself or do I say something?
ANSWER: Since this friendship is currently having a negative effect on you, give thought to its history before deciding what to do, but, of course, do something.   Was it formerly valuable?   Is it long-lived?   Does it merit addressing the negative effect, perchance that could be changed?   It’s always wise to burn no bridges, so either distancing respectfully or acknowledging “we are such different personalities” should leave you feeling fine about changing the relationship’s status.


HAVE A QUESTION FOR CATHY and would like to receive some therapy online? Please feel free to email with your question. It will be answered in the order it’s received. Please continue to check back for your question to be answered. Note: we do not use last names

About the author

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Catherine Bridwell

Catherine D. Bridwell is in private practice in Morristown, NJ. She is a psychotherapist and counselor to families, couples, and individuals. She is a Certified Divorce Mediator and a Parenting Coordinator for divorced couples. In addition she lectures and has authored workshop presentations on family related and emotion management topics.


Feel free to e-mail Catherine at

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