Premarital issues

Tips For Healthy Dating- Boundaries

Tips For Healthy Dating- Boundaries

Are you looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right? At Imagine Hope we have clients ask us all the time about how to find a healthy relationship. Many people have gone through rough times in relationships and often attract the same unhealthy type of partner over and over. This can make dating discouraging!

An important thing to look for when dating is whether or not your potential partner shows he/ she can be in a healthy relationship based on his/ her attributes. Read each day this week as we discuss what you should be looking for when seeking a healthy dating relationship.

Talks To Have Before Getting Married: Conflict Styles and Common Interests

Talks To Have Before Getting Married:  Conflict Styles and Common Interests

If you are presently engaged to be married, we send you our warmest congratulations! The time of dating and engagement is exciting and promising-- a time where couples dream of a future together and feel the promise of a great future with their soon-to-be spouse.  Unfortunately, many of us don't learn the "in's and out's" of what it takes to make a marriage work, which can end up in feelings of great disappointment once the "I do's" have taken place.

Talks To Have Before Getting Married: Communication Styles

Talks To Have Before Getting Married: Communication Styles

If you are reading this, there is probably a Congratulations in order?? Well congrats! Or you may be a parent or friend, reading this to pass along the information. Your child or friend will thank you later ;) So far we have learned of the importance of talking about expectations, roles and rules, and styles of love. Today we will talk about communication.

Myths About Love - Part 2

Myths About Love - Part 2

 This week we want to address some common misperceptions about love. Love can be a wonderful experience when it is mature, based in reality and honest. Love can be hurtful when we enter it with misperceptions. Here are some common myths about love:

13 Essential Ingredients To A Healthy Relationship 5-7

13 Essential Ingredients To A Healthy Relationship 5-7

We do not usually think of our relationship as something with ingredients.  However, it is important to break down components that support relationship health.  Its a good idea to be introspective and see what exactly makes up our partnerships and friendships to maintain good relationship health.  Does your relationship have the following 3 ingredients?

4 Ways to Tear Apart A Relationship- Contempt

#2 Contempt In his book, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, John Gottman describes contempt as the intention to insult and psychologically abuse your partner. Wow, that sounds bad, right? I don't think any of us set out to do this, but in the following examples, I think more of us are guilty of contempt than we realize.

Contempt is when we hold negative thoughts about our partner. Where as we start off with an innocent arguement, the further it goes, we no longer have any admiration for our spouse, and eventually forget why we married them in the first place. With contempt, we cannot see any positive qualities about our partners at all.

The most common signs of Contempt are:

  • Insults and Name Calling - whether it's calling each other a "jerk", "lazy", or worse
  • Hostile Humor - covering up contempt with a thin layer of humor. Cracking mean jokes at our spouse's expense
  • Mockery - a very passive put-down. When you put down/make fun of/ridicule  your spouse's words are actions
  • Body Language -  rolling your eyes, grunting, laughing , curling your upper lip, etc., while your spouse is sharing with you

The best way to approach your spouse and stop contempt is to stop seeing arguments as a way to "get back" at your spouse or get power over your spouse. Your relationship will get better if you approach your partner with direct complaints (see yesterday's blog for the difference between a complaint vs. a criticism) and show your spouse admiration.

*Source: Why Marriages Succeed or Fail by John Gottman

Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

4 Ways to Tear Apart A Relationship- Criticism

Imagine Hope is in the relationship repairing business. Which means we see a lot of people come to us with bad habits that need undone in order for the relationship to last. This week we are going to explain John Gottman's theory called "The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse", which focuses on four behaviors that will sabotage a relationship's chance of being healthy and happy.

#1 Criticism

Expressing yourself in a relationship is key to fulfillment, so airing a complaint or disagreement will need to happen. But this can be a slippery slope into the pit of criticism.

The longer you hold in a complaint the more likely it will come out as a criticism, or even worse an explosion of criticisms that ends with a lot of damage.

So how do you know the differences between a complaint and criticism?

  • A complaint is "a specific statement of anger, displeasure, distress, or other activity". So basically it is when you need to tell someone that something isn't okay with you, and that you need it to be different. With complaints, you attack the action, not the person. The focus is on the negative thing that happened, not the person who did it.
  • A criticism is when someone accuses, attacks, and blames a person and their character when they need something to be different. It can be through a generalization ("You always..." or "You never..."), through keeping a long list of complaints and unleashing them all at once, by judging your partner ("You should..."), and by accusing them or betraying your trust ("You said you were going to get this done...").

A good way to figure out if you are complaining verses criticizing is the word "you" and "I".

  • Complaint: We don't go out as much as I'd like to.
  • Criticism: You never take me anywhere.

I hope you can see the ways criticism can cause things to fall apart in a relationship. Make an effort today to shift your criticism to complaints and see how quickly things change!

Check back tomorrow to hear how contempt can sabotage your relationship!

* Source: "Why Marriages Succeed Or Fail" by John Gottman

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

30 Questions To Ask About Your Relationship 13-18

13.  How do you feel when your partner arrives home after being away?  This is a good barometer for how you feel about your partner.  Do you look forward or dread seeing them after time apart.  Absence should make the heart grow fonder, not resentful. 14.  Is your partner your best friend?  Friendship, playfulness and respect are all healthy and essential components of a healthy loving relationship.  Is your partner the first one you want to tell when you have exciting news, or when you need encouragement?  Are you a good friend to your partner?

15.  Is there a secret you are keeping that if your partner knew, you would feel you would lose them?  This question speaks to trust, vulnerability, and shame.  Secrets foster shame and make vulnerability seem bigger than it is. Secrets destroy trust which is essential to a lasting relationship.  If you are keeping secrets, it is important to ask yourself what that means.

16.  Do you feel that your partner accepts you?  Authentic love knows who you are.  Are you the real deal with your partner?  Does your partner accept that you are imperfectly beautiful in your own right?  Do you have to put on a show or wear a mask to keep your partner or do you allow yourself to be the true you around them?

17.  When did you realize you had fallen in love and how do you feel when you think about it?  Falling in love is often an exciting time!  You have lots of feel good hormones flowing enabling you to get  close to your partner.  Sometimes people feel scared, or apprehensive, or angry, or vulnerable, or elated, or excited, or relieved!  How did you feel?

18.  Have you seen each other at your best and worst?  Now, we don't all need to catch a nasty stomach bug and do all that in plain view of our partner.  However, we can wake up without the need to be completely dressed and presentable before she wakes up.  Can you imagine him showing up early for your date while you are still in yoga pants and sweaty from your Zumba class?  What would be the reaction?

These are all good questions to ponder. Tomorrow Natalie will help us with identifying more helpful ways to look at our relationships.  As always, thanks for stopping by!

*Source: 30 Questions To Help If You Have Doubts About Your Relationship by Terez Williamson by tinybudda.com

Written by Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT

Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT  is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapyfamily counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.

What Kind of Unglued Are You? The Stuffer Who Collects Retaliation Rocks

The Stuffer Who Collects Retaliation Rocks What do you do with your feelings about small (and not-so-small) situations that happen in your marriage?  Do you share them with your spouse and get clarification with them?  Do you let them see who you really are?  Or do you keep them stuffed away (as Natalie wrote about in yesterday's post)?

When feeling "unglued", sometimes we will collect what is termed "Retaliation Rocks".  These are things we use as a weapon for future disagreements.  For example:  Your spouse doesn't help with housework, but you don't say anything to he/she about how this feels.  You stuff the feelings away in a corner of your heart.  Later on (sometimes years later), your spouse doesn't initiate a date night and "A-HA!"... You just KNEW it!  They don't love you and don't feel you are important (not true), so you explode on them, using one incident (or many) about just how "unimportant" you must really be to them!  The problem with this is.... it's not true!  You never shared with them how you felt in the first place, but instead kept this information and all of these feelings from your spouse's knowledge, only to bombard them with feelings later on in a deadly fashion.

Retaliation rocks are things that we keep tucked away and don't let our spouse see about us and our feelings.  These cause bitterness that we keep inside over time, where we might feel annoyed at our spouse and then later on we allow these small things to erupt each time we feel upset about something completely unrelated.

Don't allow these rocks to sit on your soul.  And don't pull out these "rocks" in moments of retaliation towards your spouse.  They will only feel confused and unsafe with you.

Do you collect "retaliation rocks", only to use them as ammunition towards your spouse later on?

*Source: Unglued: Making Wise Choices  In The Midst Of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Myths About Love- Falling in Love and Exclusiveness

Myth #4 -We fall in and out of love.  To watch movies or read romance novels, one would believe that love is something that happens to us, not something we engage in.  In film, love strikes you and leaves you powerless, lovelorn, and driven by a power outside your control.  Classic fairy tales teach women to wait and man will come and sweep her off her feet.  These myths prevent people from accepting personal responsibility for what they decide and do when they feel the initial infatuation.  The truth is that love is something that people create and grow. During the initial attraction, or deceivingly put “falling in love”, our brains produce chemicals that feel good and make us want to continue to get to know our new love interest.  But after that initial phase of infatuation, the chemicals stop and to love becomes a choice and requires effort.  This is where we choose to grow with our partner and develop a love together.  If love dies, it is because of neglect or failure to take care of the love.  If we are passive and believe that love is something that happens to us or that we fall into, not that we create and maintain, love will surely die.  Love is something we choose to share, and choose to receive, and choose to maintain.

Myth # 5-Love is Exclusive. Some people believe that there is only so much room in their heart for a limited supply of love.  Some people believe that you can only love one person, and that there is only one person in the world for them.  That is not the case.  Love is expansive; it grows and replenishes itself as it is given.  When we are open to loving others, we can love our partner even more deeply.  To be clear, while Eros (romantic love) is usually between two people, Philia (friendship and community love) is healthy while feeling romantically in love. (for more on types of love, see our blog http://www.imaginehopecounseling.com/wmblog/?m=201202&paged=2).  We can love our friends and community members and not take away from the love we have for our romantic partners.

Sometimes when two people are in love, one partner wants the other to only be with him or her.  S/he becomes jealous when his/her partner has friends or especially friends of the opposite sex.  The partner may wonder why the other has to have other friends that they are not giving enough.  But humans are creatures of community and are able to love others and still have enough romantic love left for a partner.  Jealousy is not love- it is fear.  On the other side, lack of jealousy is not indifference.  Giving of Philia love does not take away from Eros love.  There is room in our hearts for lots of love!

Please follow along the rest of the week as Natalie and Joleen debunk more myths about love.  As always, thanks for stopping by!

*Source: “I Never Knew I Had A Choice” by Gerald Corey

Written by Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT

Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT  is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapyfamily counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield

Myths About Love- It's Eternal

People love love. Romance can be like a drug to many. But the danger of this is that people don't truly understand what love is. They bring misconceptions about love into their relationship and end up with hurt feelings, confusion, and sometimes the ending of the relationship. Because society has such an impact on how we view love (and we know how twisted our society's lens of the world can be!), we want to help our readers understand the myths about love that could be doing damage in their relationships.

We are sharing from Gerald Corey's book, "I never knew I had a choice", and how the thoughts we have about love might keep us from feeling loved. When we have false beliefs about love, they might block the ability for love to sink in.

Myth #1- Love is Eternal

The intense feelings of love at the beginning of a relationship can be awesome, but sometimes people believe that stage of love should happen all through the relationship.

When you believe that the love shown on chick-flicks and heard on the radio must be sustained, you set yourself up for disappointment. It is unrealistic to keep up the love struck feeling long term.

As a person grows and matures, we expect them to change, right? The same is true for a relationship. As a couple grows and matures in their relationship, their love will change.

The love can deepen through good times and through conflict. You can experience a richness that is much more intense than the beginning phases of a relationship.

Some couples struggle with the changes. They fight for the love struck feeling and end up growing apart in different directions. They miss out on the chance to experience the depth that love can change into by believing that love is eternal.

Make sure you adjust the expectation of love as you grow as a couple. It will be much more fulfilling in the long run!

We hope you are able to see how your ideas of love are impacting your relationship. When you view love in a realistic way, you are much more likely to get the love you need in your relationship. Check in tomorrow for more!

Source: "I Never Knew I Had A Choice" by Gerald Corey

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

How to Find Mr or Mrs Right 1

We are asked many times a week by singles about how to find a quality mate. Everyone is looking for Mr or Mrs Right to share their lives with, but the biggest challenge is finding him or her. That's why Imagine Hope is giving all our single readers some tips to help them on their search that could lead them to finding a quality person this week.

Tip #1- Be A Healthy and Complete Person and You will Attract One

I love the kid's book by Shel Silverstein called "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O". This book clearly shows the importance of today's tip.

Take 3 Minutes to watch the animated version of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afsV8UmMqVw

Being a "Big O" means that you are a whole and complete person rolling through life without the need for someone to complete you. You don't have any missing pieces for someone to fill.

Being whole and complete doesn't mean you are perfect and without flaws. It is about managing your emotional issues, living a balanced life, and not being too needy for others, because you are able to meet your own needs well.

Of course it is great to have a companion in life, that is a normal human desire. But at times people can lean too much on others to complete them that they create an unhealthy relationship where the other person feels pressure and smothered to rescue their partner. It is healthier to "want" someone rather than "need" them.

If you are on the hunt for Mr or Mrs Right, it is good to get your emotional baggage resolved in order for you to be a "big O" in the relationship. It sure is attractive to see someone with their head on straight and managing their life well physically and emotionally. The healthier you are, the more likely you will attract someone who is too!

Keep reading all week for more tips! And work hard this week to be your healthiest you as you roll through life.

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

13 Essential Ingredients To A Healthy Relationship 1-2

Everyone has good intentions to find a healthy relationship, but do they have what it takes to make it happen? Enmeshment is the initial love stuck feeling people typically experience at the beginning. This extreme is a short lived fantasy land where people tend to lose themselves. This is not a healthy relationship.

Emotional Cutoff is another extreme which is where people build emotional walls to protect themselves out of fear and hurt from their partner. People tend to become distant and have hidden and/or obvious conflict in this stage. This is also not a healthy relationship.

What people are searching for is an Interdependent Relationship.  Each day this week we will give you qualities that are necessary for it to happen. These traits aren't just for healthy romantic relationships, but for all types of relationships in your life.

Ingredient #1- Consideration- Are you considerate of your partner and his or her needs or only focused on your own needs? Do you practice common courtesy? Being kind to one another is an important part of feeling loved by someone.

Ingredient #2- Compatibility- When looking at the scale of how compatible you are with someone, you must consider to what degree you like and dislike the same things. Also weighing how much it matters if you differ in certain attitude and belief systems will determine how compatible you are.

Read all week for more special ingredients to make your relationships healthy! Thanks for reading!

*Information adapted from a handout by Sierra Tuscon http://www.sierratucson.com

Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.