Faith Offers Hope for Relationships

Even the best of marriages are challenging and can be difficult. Many couples were not modeled positive ways to communicate with their partners. We see couples that struggle with communication, getting their needs met and identifying their partners needs, as well as more difficult couples who struggle with addictions, infidelity, or abuse. I always find myself breathing a sigh of relief when couples come in and reveal to me they have faith. I feel relieved because I feel like we have a positive resource to now draw upon. Having faith provides you with so much more than couples that don’t believe in God. Why?

Enmeshment

It is common for relationships to begin with an intense start, where you spend endless hours talking, texting an emailing back and forth. You want to spend every waking moment with your loved one getting to know them and enjoying that newness of the relationship. However, after this intense time, things slow down and you don’t spend as much time with your new beau or belle as you were before. This intense time together can be a phase, because it’s generally hard to sustain such an amount of time together, and this is normal. It is ok to develop space and see your significant other on a more regular time basis. Many people don’t recognize that this is a natural process to move out of this intense time and think there is something wrong with their relationship, but this is far from the truth.

Emotional Affairs

With the explosion of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, as well as the increase in our dependence on technology like cell phones, the internet and computers, we are seeing a rather drastic increase in emotional infidelity in relationships. Educating yourself and developing good boundaries are the keys to safeguarding your relationships against emotional affairs. In this article, we will address some of the most common questions we hear in relationship and marriage counseling about emotional infidelity.

Emotional Abuse: The Hidden Attacker

My dream come true? I was married at age 21- naively excited and full of hope! “Life” had begun, right? This was the set schedule for my life: to go to college, get my Bachelors degree as well as my “Mrs.” degree. I was right on track. Unfortunately, that all came to an end, actually before it began! I started seeing some things in my engagement that I wasn’t too sure about. I had a feeling in my gut that this person wasn’t right for me but everyone else thought I was nuts! “He is so nice! You’ll never find anyone better than him. He’s the All-American guy! You’re just scared!” I didn’t listen to my internal feelings or my heart. 

 

Depression strikes! Shortly after we were married I became very depressed. I couldn’t understand why. I had almost successfully completed my BA in Psychology; I had my “Mrs.” degree, and was living among other college-married couples. I was having a great time. I started gaining weight quickly, about 20 pounds in the first 6 months of our marriage. I realize now I was eating to numb the pain of the abuse I was suffering. 

 

Dream over! My new husband began berating me for the amount of weight I had gained. He started with subtle comments that grew into insults and inappropriate comments about my weight. He then began hiding money from me, lying to me, staying out all night and drinking a lot. When I was upset about these things somehow he would twist it and I would end up feeling bad and apologizing for being upset! He would say things like “I didn’t come home because I knew you would nag me about where I had been!” I would then feel guilty for confronting him in the first place. He was a master at turning things on me and I would believe his reality rather than my own. He made extra efforts to be nice to my friends and family. That way when I talked to any of them they would either tell me I was over-reacting or “He’s just struggling with being married-he’ll come around.” It wasn’t until they started witnessing it first hand that they agreed there was a problem. 

 

Hope for me Because I grew up in a family with a strong denial system, I never believed in my own intuition or gut feelings when things felt bad or not right. That in combination with what lies he was feeding me caused me to believe there was something terribly wrong with me. So I sought counseling. Thank God for my therapist!! After seeing her, she helped me see what was actually going on. I was being emotionally abused! I had heard of physical and sexual abuse but I had never heard of emotional abuse before. So I started doing my own research and found it to be true. The lying, the twisting, berating, putting it all on me- that was his way of brainwashing me in order to get what he wanted and live life not conducive to being married. 

 

Time for change I began making drastic changes in myself. That obviously did not go over well with my husband. We really started having major problems. I begged him to go to marriage counseling with me and he refused. I continued working on our relationship and myself the best I could. He continued to pull away. Eventually the emotional abuse even started going away. The reason- he had found another person to do it to because I would no longer allow to participate in the abuse! Once I realized what was going on and that he had no intention of ending this new relationship, I had to leave the relationship. I couldn’t allow another person to be in our marriage. 

 

Freedom! I can’t tell you the freedom I experienced by leaving the bondage of emotional abuse. I continued in therapy and working on my issues and myself. I even decided to pursue my lifetime dream of becoming a therapist- something he had always told me I wasn’t smart enough to do. “You just need to accept that you’re not Graduate School material and not smart enough to be a therapist!” Well here I am-not only a therapist but a darn good one WITH my own practice! 

 

Love again? Life was good again… I began dating again; I had my eyes wide open! I knew I would not date or be in a relationship with an abuser ever again! I met a wonderful man and the poor guy had to pass vigorous “tests” just to be allowed a small portion of my heart! Luckily, he is very patient and we ended up marrying 6 years later! I thought I was home free. 

 

Depressed again?? I got a job that I felt was too good to be true. It was! After being there a year, I started really feeling depressed. I couldn’t figure out why I was depressed again! I was happily married, doing what I loved and living out my lifetime dream. In the meantime, I was having a lot of issues with my boss at my job. I kept trying to work on the issues but he constantly turned things around on me and convinced me that the problems were my issues. I constantly 2nd guessed myself and my own gut feelings (once again). He would minimize things that I felt were big issues in the practice. He would invalidate me by refusing to acknowledge the reality of inappropriate things that were happening at our practice. Once again, I was constantly questioning myself and my internal feelings about my experiences. 

 

Not again! After about 2 years of this, I realized what was happening. It literally hit me like a 2x4 across my head. I had been sucked in again! Here I was, educated and informed. I thought I had even fixed the problem by picking a wonderful, supportive partner. But I had just transferred it to another area of my life. 

 

Time for change, again Once again, I began working on boundaries and being strong. I listened to my gut when things weren’t right and tried setting appropriate boundaries with my boss. Once I did that in the work environment, things started heating up. As in the previous relationship with my ex-husband, my employer could not respect my boundaries or make the appropriate changes in his behavior to allow me to continue our relationship. He did apologize for some of his behaviors in the past but did not change those behaviors. I realized we were no longer compatible and it was my time to leave. 

 

Freedom again!! I cannot begin to tell you how truly blessed my life was for doing so. I really did feel freed, once again. I was no longer depressed and constantly questioning myself or my feelings. Being out of the situation opened my eyes to a lot: I realized I had to work on and manage what makes me attracted to these types of relationships and situations. I know for me it came down to boundaries, feelings of self worth, learning to listen to and validate myself, and valuing my OWN feelings and perceptions or viewpoints. I learned and practiced what my rights are in all my relationships. I had gotten this in my relationship with my present husband but this was new for me in relationships outside of my marriage. And people who like to emotionally abuse did not like being in a relationship with me anymore. It ruffled a lot of feathers and hurt relationships that were functioning because the person was able to act inappropriately in our relationship and not respect my boundaries. I no longer filled that need for them and they chose distance because of that. And I was finally ok with that. 

 

Do you see it in you? My goal in this article was to show how hidden emotional abuse is and the ways it can pop up in your life if you don’t realize why you are drawn to those types of relationships. Once you recognize those reasons, you can work on those core issues, usually of low self-esteem and boundaries. I also wanted to show that emotional abuse is not just someone yelling at you or calling you names. It can be sly and hidden, as was the case in my work environment. 

 

Hope for you, too! I hope this article has been helpful to you. If you identify to anything in this article, it may benefit you to talk with someone about emotional abuse. Feel free to drop us a line on a comment card to give us any feedback or questions you have about emotional abuse. A therapist at Imagine Hope would like to set an appointment and talk to you about possible emotional abuse. There are also several resources available to help you identify if you are being emotionally abused. Below are some links and resources to help you with your research.

 

www.thingsarelookinup.com (A test for emotional abuse)

www.studentaffairs.com (Describes emotional abuse and gives types of emotional abuse, gives rights in your relationships)

www.lilaclane.com (symptoms of emotional abuse) 

 

Engel, Beverly, MFCC. The Emotionally Abused Woman: Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1990 

Cure for Perfectionism!

10 months ago I was well on my way to be perfect!! I was a full-blown Perfectionist. I took pride in how clean I could keep my house, my office, and my car. I was always punctual. I even took pride in how many germs I could keep away from myself by doing certain rituals upon leaving a restroom or eating at a restaurant. I wouldn’t want to get sick and ruin my perfectly planned schedule! Then along came my little boy! 

 

I had a very “normal” pregnancy at first. Seriously, everything seemed to happen to me right on time according to the books and articles I was constantly reading. I wanted to get pregnancy right you know! I was gaining the perfect amount of weight, my hormones were perfectly raging, my appetite was perfectly wonderful- all the fun stuff that comes with being pregnant. Everything was perfect until my 8th month of pregnancy when I went into pre-term labor. Suddenly things were not perfect. My little one was trying to enter the world before I had planned! My world was suddenly rocked. For the first time, all the things I tried to do to be perfect didn’t matter. I was put on 2 weeks total bed rest. This was very hard for me because I am a major Type A, go-getter, always doing something (usually to make things more perfect for my life!) I was told to stop all that. Stop cleaning, stop working, stop worrying and planning…. Stop everything! 

 

I did as the doctor’s ordered in order to keep my precious baby healthy. We went from week to week until it was ok to do whatever I wanted again. Aaahh, I had my control back. Things could be “perfect” again! 

 

Our son was born on a beautiful fall day. It literally couldn’t have been more perfect. The trees had changed colors but the leaves hadn’t fallen yet, the temperature was nice, and the sun was shining. One of my favorite songs even came on the radio as we rode in the car. I’ll never forget my husband saying to me as we were driving to the hospital, “It’s a beautiful day to have a baby”. Yes, it was perfect! 

 

We had our son at 10:20 and everything went perfect. Our family and friends were there to welcome our baby into the world. I had a wonderful stay at the hospital where they taught my husband and me everything we needed to know in order to perfectly take care of the baby. We pulled away from the hospital thinking we could do this easily and if not, we’ll just get on the Internet and figure it out! 

 

OH MY GOODNESS! No one prepared us for this!!!! This little guy doesn’t sleep when I want him to. He doesn’t eat when I want him to. And he won’t poop for goodness sake! What is going on? Doesn’t he want to be perfect, too? !? I kept praying for God to make him do this and make him do that. It just wasn’t happening! And my husband wasn’t having it either! I constantly nagged him to help me keep our house clean so when people came to see the baby they could see I still had it all together. 

 

Finally, after a whole 2 weeks of being a mommy, it hit me. I could either choose to continue trying to make my life perfect again or I could knock it off and begin enjoying this wonderful experience that God was giving me. I’ll never forget that day. It was Election Day 2004. My wonderful friend was coming to watch the baby so I could go vote. I was getting ready and fussing over my hair. It wasn’t perfect. My clothes were ugly (postpartum clothes are the worst!) I felt frumpy and ugly. But I remember thinking if I can just get presentable I can spend a few minutes with my baby before I leave. I chose for my hair and clothes to be mediocre that day. And that was the first of many decisions I would need to make for the next 18 years: Do I want to be perfect or do I want to be a good Mom? That day I chose to be a good Mom. I’ll never forget how wonderful it felt holding my little boy for a few minutes before my friend got there. I truly did not care that I wasn’t perfect that day. 

 

Since then, my clothes aren’t always pressed, my hair is not perfect, my car gets cluttered, I am usually running a few minutes behind, and on good days my house looks like a bomb went off in it. But you know what, it’s worth it! The gifts and blessings I receive everyday for being a Mommy make it all ok. I wouldn’t trade it for anything-not even being perfect!! 

 

It’s amazing how being a parent changes everything about you, especially you’re thinking. When I went to the polls that day, I saw a woman with a child and she was dressed perfectly! Her hair was done, her clothes were trendy, and she even had a tan in November. Usually when I see a woman like that I think “Now that’s the kind of Mom I want to be- cool and trendy!” But this time I saw her and thought, “I wonder if she made time to hold her baby this morning or if she chose to spend that time getting fixed up?” A couple minutes later I saw a woman with 2 children. She had on sweats, a wrinkled t-shirt, tennis shoes, and a baseball cap. She looked like she spent her extra time that morning holding her babies. I thought to myself, “Now there’s the kind of Mommy I want to be- not perfect but present!” 

 

I had found the cure for perfectionism! 

Coping with Sudden Loss

The sudden, unexpected loss of a friend or loved one can be one of the most difficult things to cope with. While most losses are devastating, a sudden loss can leave us feeling uncertain, anxious, and vulnerable about life and the future. Because there is no forewarning, sudden loss can cause the entire grief response to be more intense. Most people greatly struggle with sudden loss because there is no opportunity say good-bye to the individual who died, and there is no opportunity to prepare for the loss. Common feelings surrounding sudden loss include; fear and anxiety, anger, shock, numbness, despair and hopelessness, sadness, and feelings of intense depression. It is important that the grieving person do the best they can to take care of themselves following the sudden loss of a loved one. An important part of the grieving process is to find effective ways of coping, such as:

Coping with Job Loss

With the decline of our economy in today’s world, job loss through company closures, downsizing and layoffs is on a steep incline. Many people are suddenly faced with the stresses of paying bills and taking care of their own life and their family, while at the same time trying to cope with the emotional impact that loss of employment brings. In addition to the loss of a job, unemployment causes:

Coping With Divorce

Divorce is one of the most devastating, stressful, and life changing experiences a person can go through. Many people feel it is worse than a death of a loved one, in that you feel the feelings of the “death” of the relationship but are still forced to deal with the person you once committed your life to. It is even more difficult when children are involved.

Coping With a Loved One’s Long Term Illness

The statistics are alarming. In 2003 an estimated 556,902 people died from cancer. Every year there are 5.2 million people living with Alzheimer’s and it’s estimated that 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s in their lifetime. If that’s not enough, 1 million people are afflicted with Parkinson’s and an estimated 3 million people are undiagnosed. However, this article isn’t about those who are sick or who might become afflicted with some unfortunate illness. This article is about those of us on the other side of the illness. 

It can be confusing to find yourself facing a parent, sibling, child, spouse or friend who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. We all know that we are eventually going to be faced with death at some point in our lives. But we hope that when our loved one’s pass on, that they will go peacefully, quickly, and without pain. However, when we find out that someone close has an illness that may not be curable, or in some cases may take years to run its course, we find ourselves unprepared.

Common Blended Family Problems

The U.S. statistic for divorce is now up to 60%. If a couple has a child when they divorce, and one of the ex-spouses decides to remarry, this creates a stepfamily. Stepfamilies are more common now than ever, and one-third of all children will be a part of a stepfamily before the age of 18. Obviously this is going to create a lot of unique family dynamics. It’s a time of anxiety, anger, confusion and sometimes panic for both the parent and the child. Depending upon how long it’s been since the announcement of the divorce between the child’s biological parents, the child may still be dealing with, or just settled into the feelings that divorce creates for them. Now, throw into the mix another parent (or two) and siblings! Hopefully this article will help you know what to expect from your child, how to be a team with your spouse, and what to do if the blended family isn’t getting along.

First of all, be realistic. Things are not going to change overnight. Secondly, be patient. Relationships take a lot of time to grow and for trust to be created and established. Kids need time as well to learn that they can trust and count on adults, especially when there are major life changes occurring. Limit your expectations. You may not get a lot of love, attention or affection back from your child in response to all of the love, energy, affection and time you are putting into them. Don’t take it personally. This is a normal adjustment period that takes time. Think of it as planting seeds that will eventually take root and grow into a beautiful plant. 

Children of every age have basic needs & wants. It may be hard to see this if you’re having a hard time getting along with your spouse’s children. It’s easy to get caught up in their misbehavior or back-talk. But, underneath that disrespectful behavior is a need that may not be heard. They’re not automatically going to love you, and you may not automatically love them. Children especially need to feel:

  • Safe & secure- to know they can count on you no matter what.
  • Loved- to not only hear that you love them, but to feel it and see it from you as well.
  • Seen, validated & heard- to know you do listen to them, to know you recognize their needs when you make family decisions. They need to know you can see a situation from their view and take their perspective into account.
  • Appreciated & encouraged- to hear praise and appreciation for what they do to help the family.
  • Limits & boundaries- a lack of boundaries sends the unspoken message that they as a child are not worth your time or attention.

Children divide and conquer parents, and the best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to let all parents involved know what is going on at all times. Children also need access to both biological parents. Let your child know that you and your ex-spouse will continue to love them and be there for them throughout their life & that their stepparent is not a ‘replacement’ parent but another person to love and support them. You and your ex-spouse need to agree that you love your child more than you hate the other, so no matter what, you will not criticize or bad-mouth the other in front of your child. This only kills the spirit of your child and works in the opposite direction of whatever you’re trying to achieve. 

Create clear, safe boundaries in your stepfamily. Each couple should discuss the role each stepparent will play in raising their respective children, along with household rules. It’s very important to do this at the beginning, because it’s harder to do it later! You may want to keep the stepparent as more of a friend or counselor than a disciplinarian until they have developed a more solid bond with the children. Create a list of family rules. Call a family meeting and discuss the list with the kids and keep the list in an area where they can be easily read. This can help relieve any tension in the house. Try to talk with the other residence that the child is also living in and have similar rules so as to create consistency if possible (bedtimes, chore lists, computer time etc…). Do not contradict your spouse in front of the children. The two of you need to privately set the rules for the kids. If you have to work out an adjustment or exception to the rules, do it in private, and have a really good reason for doing so. If they see you contradicting each other, then they will learn how to split and play you against each other.

All in all, you need to keep communication open to avoid any misunderstandings and to create more possibilities for connection. Despite all of your efforts though, you may find that you or your new spouse and the children are not getting along. If one of the following occurs, it might be time to seek counseling:

  • If one of the children directs anger upon any other family member or openly resents a parent or stepparent.
  • You notice a stepparent favoring a child.
  • You notice family members no longer enjoying activities they once enjoyed (going to school, playing, learning, or being with family or friends).

Imagine Hope Counseling Group can help you open up the lines of communication between individual members of your family. If you find yourself struggling to make your stepfamily transition flow smoothly, please give us a call at (317) 569-0046. We provide individual, marriage, family, & adolescent counseling for Indianapolis and the surrounding areas including Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, Noblesville and Westfield. You my also visit our website at www.imaginehopecounseling.com.

Sources:

www.helpguide.org

www.way2hope.org

Codependency

When you hear the word codependency, many people think of being married to an alcoholic or growing up in a family with addictions. You might also think of someone who is addicted to relationships. Although these are both manifestations of codependency, there are other ways to be codependent that are more common. We see many people who suffer from codependency that are not in addictive relationships or in homes with an addict or alcoholic.

CAN MARRIAGE COUNSELING HELP YOU? Six Attributes

One of the most common questions we get asked as therapists is: How does Marriage Counseling really work? Many times, people want to know how effective marriage counseling will be for their relationship before spending the money and time needed in order to see progress in their relationship. While we don’t have a crystal ball for all marriages, we can tell you what qualities we see in couples who are extremely successful in healing their relationship wounds and creating a healthier marriage through marriage counseling.

BECOMING A STEPPARENT

With the high rate of divorce and remarriage, many couples are experiencing a new first: becoming a stepparent. Blending families creates it’s own set of challenges, and on top of that, stepparenting doesn’t exactly have a great image in our culture (e.g., Cinderella, Snow White). Often times, most of the issues of becoming a stepparent can be resolved by addressing things prior to the family blending. Here are some suggestions of things to remember when becoming a stepparent:

A MEMORIAL TO MY FATHER

Some may own castles on the bank of the Rhine

and hire an orchestra each evening at nine

-but richer than I they will never be…

I had a Father who spent time with me. 

–Author unknown

 

My Dad was born in 1944 to Herman and Beverly Jane Watson, in the rural town of Bardolph, Illinois. He was the second of four sons born into a farming family, who were very successful, hard working, and well known in the community. His mother died from Spinal Meningitis when he was barely five years old, and his last memory of her was trying to get her to play with him when she was laying on the couch, right before she was taken to the hospital, where she soon died. My father never saw her again, and was never able to say goodbye to his mother, which was a large source of his pain the remainder of his childhood and adult years. His father was a hard worker, and very success driven, but emotionally and physically unavailable for his four children. My father and his brothers lacked the consistency of a loving, stable relationship with their father, who was working to provide financially for the family, and were cared for mostly by babysitters and grandparents.

In vying to receive the attention and recognition all children need, my father quickly learned to receive his validation from overachieving in almost everything he attempted. As a child, he earned excellent grades in school, was a member of 4-H, sports, was involved in all sorts of extra-curricular activities, and had expertise in many things that his grandparents had taught him at an early age. He learned to feel special, important, and valuable through his success, though I believe that in his own heart it was never good enough for him, and he never received the praise and recognition of his father that he really needed. I truly believe that my father spent the majority of his life trying to get his own Dad’s attention, to hear loving words of encouragement and to make him proud, but always feeling like he fell short of the goal. This created a drive in my Dad that I would later, in my own recovery, learn as Counterdependency. My Grandfather remarried two additional times in my father’s lifetime, with many additions of children and stepchildren to the Watson family, and with each addition, my Dad felt a little more lost in the shuffle. He had many unresolved grief and loss issues, learning at an early age that when he really loved something or someone, it couldn’t be trusted to always be there. Having done some of my own recovery work and in learning more about my Dad, it gives me such a great sense of peace and comfort to have truly known who he really was, inside and out. On the outside, he was a strong, independent, rescuing, brave, successful, and driven man on the outside, but really a needy, fearful, attention starved, little boy on the inside, who desperately needed to be validated, approved of, and loved unconditionally. I believe that somewhere along the way, my father vowed to hang on as tight as he could to those he loved, and to his own family, as a means to overcompensate for what he didn’t receive growing up.

 

My earliest memory of my father is from when I was barely four years old. I remember waking up on a spring morning, going outside in my footed, fuzzy pajamas, “helping” my Dad paint the fence in our back yard. I remember my sister and I fighting each other to take the next turn having Dad “push me higher” on the swing set, playing “birdie” where we pretended like we were flying, being carried on his shoulders when our feet were too tired to walk anymore, and running from the “tickle monster”, only to run back again for more. Even when he was working late, Dad would come home at night for dinner, returning to do his work after he had read us a book and tucked us in bed. Most of my warm, loving, memories of my Dad include some aspect of him teaching my sister and I- anything from woodworking and gardening, to sewing and baking. Even in some of my uncomfortable memories of my relationship and issues with Dad growing up (like “hiding” school projects because I wanted to “do it myself”, and struggling to hold onto my newly found adolescent and teenage independence) my father was actively involved in my life. Despite the enmeshment of our family, and issues I continue to work on in my own recovery, I feel truly blessed to have such an available, present, and loving father who cared so deeply for those in his life. Looking back on our relationship, I don’t ever remember a time when my Dad wasn’t available and involved in my life. Even in his workaholic and success driven busy addiction, my Dad spent quality time with us. It was apparent that his love for his family showed in everything he did, and his family came first in his life above all else.

 

My father’s presence and active involvement in my life, though certainly not without issues, has so greatly impacted who I am as a person. In recovery, we teach that there are 5 qualities that make a person successful in their recovery process: Motivated, Insightful, Teachable, Trusting, and Trustworthy. As I process through my grief and take a look at our relationship, I realize how many invaluable tools my Dad provided and modeled to me through his involvement in my life. I recognize how many positive “Dad tapes” I hear in my thoughts each day, since I no longer have him as a sounding board. My father was an extremely passionate man. He was passionate about his family, being a father, his values and morals, his hobbies and interests. Whether it was his business, stained glass, gardening, woodworking, his involvement in many community organizations, his love for children, or teaching us, he showed passion. He taught me to use my passions to take risks in order to grow and better my life. Though often with words of encouragement and sometimes quite a bit of rescuing, he taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to if only I trust myself (“What do you mean you can’t do it? Of course you can do it…”), give it my all, and have faith that things will work out if I give my every effort. His love for teaching me new things has instilled in me a love for learning and an endless thirst for knowledge and insight, a great motivational tool in my life. Most of all, there wasn’t a day that went by where my Dad didn’t live life to the fullest. He loved to laugh, and loved to have fun. I am so grateful for the time and relationship that I’ve had with him, especially having done the recovery work that I have in the past several years with my Dad issues, which has strengthened our relationship immensely. I would have never thought in a million years that my Dad would be ripped out of my life so suddenly, at his young age of 58, and it makes me overwhelmingly sad that the strength in him that my “little girl” cherishes (though often fought), is also the thing that took his life. Though I do have wishes and regrets, which is common when a loved one passes away (I wish he would have taken better care of his health and paid more attention to what his body was telling him), I feel fortunate to know that his death came without unresolved issues between us, or things left unsaid. The last words we exchanged on the phone the day he passed away were “I love you”. Even though he isn’t here anymore, he continues to teach me every day. He was right. We do need to live life to the fullest, and not take for granted our relationships with those who are precious to us in life, because issues or dysfunction and all, they may not be here tomorrow. I sure am proud of you, Dad. Thank you.

 

In loving memory of my father,

Larry Watson

February 26, 1944 – December 22. 2002

 

7 Tips to Keep Your Child from Being Self-Absorbed

It’s developmentally appropriate for a child and teen to be egocentric or “all about me”. However, there does come a point when that God-given egocentrism starts giving way to selfishness, a sense of entitlement, or being down right cocky and rude. In order to make sure this can turn around, we have to look to the environment and see if the child is getting messages in anyway saying, “It is all about you!” Take note of the following 7 items and see if you identify with any of them or share any of the attitudinal beliefs.

15 SIGNS YOUR MARRIAGE IS IN TROUBLE

  1. You wish to be left alone by your spouse.
  2. You keep secrets from your spouse (hide money, purchases, withhold information or lies of omission, etc . . . ).
  3. You find yourself doing things to avoid coming home.
  4. When you are at home, you stay in a different room from your spouse for the evening.
  5. Either of you is having an affair (sexual or emotional).
  6. You don’t like going to couples functions b/c it means you have to pretend to be happy.
  7. You find yourselves arguing over the smallest details.
  8. You don’t see yourself in the marriage in the future.
  9. You have the same fights over and over.
  10. You never have any disagreements or conflict with your spouse (not because the relationship is healthy, but because both of you are avoiding conflict and not being truthful about how you think and feel). \
  11. You feel constant tension in the relationship and it doesn’t seem to get any resolution.
  12. You find yourself not sharing things about your life with your spouse that you normally would share.
  13. You find yourself “venting” to your friends and family about your spouse.
  14. You don’t talk to your spouse about the things you “vent” to your family and friends.
  15. You sleep in separate rooms. 

10 Communication Myths in Relationships

Good communication is one very important aspect of building a stronger and healthier relationship with your significant other, family, friends, and your support system. Unfortunately, many people never learned healthy ways of communicating with others, which has a negative impact on all areas of their lives. In our counseling work with individuals, couples, and families, we frequently hear the following 10 misconceptions about communication

STRESS!!!!

We all have stress in our lives. Some stress is good. Positive stress keeps us ready and alert to deal with or avoid danger. However, negative stress, when it is continuous and there is little relaxation or relief between episodes can be fatal! See if you have any of the symptoms below. If you do, you may be stressed and not even realize it: 

  • Physical symptoms:
  • Headaches
  • Neck or back pain
  • Digestive problems
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual difficulty
  • Nail biting
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Emotional symptoms:
  • Increased moodiness
  • Withdrawal from other people
  • Frequent crying
  • Considered suicide
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of memory
  • Easily angered
  • Hopelessness
  • Behavioral symptoms:
  • Finger tapping
  • Increased smoking
  • Increased alcohol use
  • Compulsive eating
  • Increased drug use
  • Nail biting
  • Decreased productivity

Many signs and symptoms of stress seem very closely related to the symptoms of Depression. This could be related to the fact that when stress is not taken care of or dealt with appropriately, it usually leads to depression. Many adults are depressed and just think they are stressed out all the time. Another note is for parents: Children act out their stress in behaviors. They aren’t able to articulate that they are “stressed” so you will see more behavior challenges with them. They include:

  • Crying without cause
  • Intense anger
  • Hitting other children or adults
  • Screaming over very small things (i.e. having to make their bed)
  • Problems sleeping
  • Problems eating
  • Digestive problems (“tummy aches”)
  • Problems with school
  • Problems getting along with other kids
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  • *Remember: Kids absorb our stuff. So if we feel anxious and stressed, they probably do, too! Stress can kill! It can cause many physical, emotional, spiritual, and family/marital problems! 
  • If you have any of these signs or symptoms, give us a call! One of our experts can help you or your child learn tocope more effectively with stress.
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  • Go to our website to take ourStress Test and learn more ways of coping with stress. Coming soon: The Family Stress Test!