The best way to make your relationship better is to work at fixing what’s wrong, right? Nope. The most effective way to boost fun and passion is to add positive elements to your marriage. That positive energy makes you feel good and motivates you to keep going in that direction. 

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  • Say thank you for even the small things like folding the towels.
  • Stay Connected. Talk about the details of your day.
  • Mention the qualities that you appreciate… hair, laugh, kindness.
  • Recall past times together and describe your hopes for the future.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t feel —or talk about —anything negative, but pretend you are weighing your interactions on a scale.

If you want a happier relationship, the positive side needs to far outweigh the bad. The more you honor the love and joy in your bond, the sooner you’ll transform your marriage into one that is truly great.

Love and Respect–Building Blocks of a Good Marriage

Imagine having a marriage in which both husband and wife love and respect each other, have unity in their goals, and commonality in their belief system. This structure is a win/win for both husband and wife.

Two important building blocks to a good marriage are “love” and “respect”. These two words mean different things to different people, and often differ from males to females. Therefore, a discussion is needed to clarify the meaning.

Activity:

As a couple, define “love” and “respect”.

As a couple, agree on the differences between the two words.

As a couple, discuss and give examples of behaviors that would make each other feel “unloved” and “disrespected”.

Words of wisdom:

Be generous with your words of appreciation

Spend quality time with each other

Be quick to forgive and forget

Seek to understand your differences

Be honest and gentle when giving feedback

Be open and honest regarding finances

Always appreciate their best qualities

Pray together often

Practice physical touch

Surround yourself with other Christian families/couples

Attend a bible based congregation that provides Christian fellowship

Pray for your spouse, for when God blesses them, he blesses you

Laugh and enjoy each other’s personality

Diane Reed, LPCC

A friend of mine once told me a story of a Valentine’s Day date with her spouse. She and her husband decided to meet for a meal on this day for sweethearts. At this time, mobile devices were not part of the fabric of society creating a little more of a problem when they both waited…and waited for the other to arrive. By the time she had treated herself to a fair portion of chips and salsa my friend realized, it’s past time for him to arrive. Meanwhile, her man was across town waiting for her to arrive. Eventually they were able to contact one another and get together to enjoy a Valentine’s Day meal but that lack of communication…missing the mark connecting with one another caused a blip in the plans.

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Staying connected to one’s spouse includes clearly communicating meeting points. But there are also things involved in maintaining that important part of relationship building. Here are four ways to keep a bond with that special someone:

  • Find ways to surprise your spouse. The surprises can vary in size, from time to time spending money for a surprise can be appropriate. However, often times small surprises can be even more meaningful. Notes, social media mentions, and providing treats are ways this can be accomplished.
  • Always be in pursuit. Having been together for years gives the false idea that the pursuit of one’s spouse has been completed. Making that special someone feel loved and appreciated by the way they are treated them keeps the excitement of the relationship alive.
  • Take interests in each other’s hobbies. One may even become interested in something new due to broadening of a  horizon. At the very least it is one more way to keep growth of the relationship active. No healthy hobby or interest is more important than another–taking this attitude goes a long way in building comfort with one’s spouse.
  • Set aside time for each other. Just being alone together is not a date. In busy life styles waiting for alone time is an exercise in futility. People make appointments for important parts of their life. What is more important than building relationship with a loved one?

At the very least…clarify that Valentine’s Day date location!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Christian Counseling Center!

Justin P. Lewis, LMFT

A great marriage results from efforts for the good times and even greater efforts to get through the tough times. A wonderful marriage is not an assumed relationship, but one requiring attention and care. The focus of a great marriage is the intent of the article, because it requires intentional efforts.

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  • Pay attention to your mate by looking at them when you talk to them.
  • Turn off any electronic devices that might create distraction. Put down whatever you are doing in order to pay attention.
  • Ask if this is a good time to talk to your mate.
  • Listen to your mate when they talk to you.
  • Look at your mate while you talk to them.
  • Avoid any distractions that may suggest your lack of interest.
  • It might be helpful to ask questions about what they said to be sure that you understood their message.
  • Persuasive speech conveys your thoughts while trying to convince the other to your views. This usually brings a positive conversation to a halt.
  • Listening, ask questions, and being courteous may bring out the best in your mate.

 

Roger Thompson

LMFT

Here are some warning signs of suicide

  • Talking about suicide. Preoccupation with death.
  • Looking for ways to die (internet searches for how to commit suicide, looking for guns, pills, etc.)
  • Statements about hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness.
  • Anger, restlessness, agitation, irritability, or other dramatic changes in mood.
  • Recklessness or high risk-taking behavior.
  • Suddenly happier, calmer.
  • Loss of interest in things one cares about – Withdrawing from family, friends and activities.
  • Visiting or calling people one cares about.
  • Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order. Giving away prized possessions.

If You See the Warning Signs of Suicide…

Begin a dialogue by asking questions. Suicidal thoughts are common with depressive illnesses and your willingness to talk about it in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way can be the help a person needs to seek professional help. Questions okay to ask:

  • “Do you ever feel so badly that you think about suicide?”
  • “Do you have a plan to commit suicide or take your life?”
  • “Have you thought about when you would do it (today, tomorrow, next week)?”
  • “Have you thought about what method you would use?”

Asking these questions will help you to determine if your friend or family members is in immediate danger, and get help if needed. A suicidal person should see a doctor or mental health professional immediately. Calling 911 or going to a hospital emergency room are also good options to prevent a tragic suicide attempt or death. Calling the National Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK is also a resource for you or the person you care about for help. Remember, always take thoughts of or plans for suicide seriously.

Don’t try to minimize problems or shame a person into changing their mind. Your opinion of a person’s situation is irrelevant. Trying to convince a person suffering with a mental illness that it’s not that bad, or that they have everything to live for may only increase their feelings of guilt and hopelessness. Reassure them that help is available, that depression is treatable, and that suicidal feelings are temporary. Life can get better!

If you feel the person isn’t in immediate danger, acknowledge the pain as legitimate and offer to work together to get help. Make sure you follow through. This is one instance where you must be tenacious in your follow-up. Help find a doctor or a mental health professional, participate in making the first phone call, or go along to the first appointment. If you’re in a position to help, don’t assume that your persistence is unwanted or intrusive. Risking your feelings to help save a life is a risk worth taking.

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If you have thoughts of suicide, these options are available to you:

  • Dial: 911 or Dial: 1-800-273-TALK
  • Check yourself into the emergency room.
  • Tell someone who can help you find help immediately.
  • Stay away from things that might hurt you.
  • Most people can be treated with antidepressant medication and psychotherapy.
  • Look in your local Yellow Pages under Mental Health and/or Suicide Prevention; then call the mental health organizations or crisis phone lines that are listed. There may be clinics or counseling centers in your area operating on a sliding or no-fee scale.
  • Visit the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill website at http://www.nami.org for more information. http://www.save.org/

 

A suicidal person urgently needs to see a doctor or mental health professional.           

Information gathered from:  http://www.save.org/

This year the folk musician Bob Dylan won a Nobel Peace Prize for his lyrical work. His musical career which started in the 1960s has continued into present day and the songs he wrote back then have had the staying power to be favorites in all generations of music fans.

One of the songs Dylan wrote was directed to his son. The title of the song is “Forever Young.” In this song he gives encouragement to his son on a life worth living, developing character, and being a good person. The first verse includes the line:

“may you always do for others, and let others do for you.”

Many times, in my opinion, a great deal of focus is given on always doing for others. Sometimes to the point of totally sacrificing the needs of self. I want to be clear here, doing for others is important, as Dylan notes in his song. Just as important, I think, is allowing others to help you.

We were not created to be alone in this life. The bible tells us that God created two people because just one was not good in His eyes. Throughout the word of God community is developed in the family, His holy nation of Israel in the old covenant, and finally the church. Within these institutions all people have a role in service towards each other and also to allow another to serve him.

Of course, there is the teaching of Jesus in which he instructs us to:

“do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

This assumes that at times people will be serving us as well as us being served.

As we keep in mind our relationships with other people may we indeed, “do for others, but also let them do for us.”

 

–Justin P. Lewis, MA

October is National Bully Prevention Awareness month.  Schools and organizations across the country have joined the Stomp Out Bullying campaign.  The goal is to encourage communities to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying by increasing awareness and impact on children of all ages.  

Bullying is a cruel intentional act that is often repeated.  It is prevalent in schools, playgrounds, neighborhoods, and even workplaces.  If children are not taught to deal effectively with such behavior the bullying becomes worse.  Adult bullies often become very proficient at threats and intimidation to get what they want.  Such behavior may be verbal, emotional, sexual, physical or cyber-bullying.  Being a victim is traumatizing for adults, but even worse for children.

The best time to talk to your child about bullying is before they have been exposed to it.  This helps them to mentally prepare and have a plan of action.  This alone will help build their confidence and self-esteem.

HELPGUIDE.ORG provided the following classifications.

Physical Bullying

  • Hitting, kicking, pushing, threatening
  • Stealing, hiding, destruction of other’s property
  • Hazing, harassment, humiliation
  • Making someone do something against their will

Verbal bullying

  • Name-calling
  • Teasing, taunting
  • Insulting
  • Cursing someone

Very young children can’t distinguish between bullying and unkind behavior.   Children need to know that unkind behavior is also inappropriate—e.g. “Your hair is really messy.”  “Your mom is fat.” “I don’t like you.” and “You stink.”

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Some Successful Strategies:

  • Ignore the bully, if possible
  • Walk away and pretend to feel brave and confident.
  • Protect yourself.  Safety is the top priority!
  • Don’t bully back.
  • Don’t show your feelings.
  • Tell an adult. Report every threat or assaults. (Teach the difference between tattling and reporting.)
  • Be proud of who you are!

Bullying typically involves at least three individuals—the bully, bystander, and victim.

As students get older, bystanders should be taught to mobilize together, speak up, support the victim, and be a positive influence.  

Dr. Phil McGraw supports teaching Bully BUSTER Skills for Bystanders.

B-Befriend the Victim

U-Use the Distraction (to focus other’s attention elsewhere)

S-Speak Out and Stand Up!

T-Tell or Text for Help

E-Exit Alone or With Friends

R-Give a Reason or Remedy

Victims of bullying often become bullies as they grow older.  Therefore, it is crucial for a nationwide effort to Stomp Out Bullying!  Bystanders can truly make a difference in reducing peer cruelty and halting the cycle.

As parents and community members, we need to continue the awareness and discussion of bullying and its emotional impact on others!

Diane Reed, MA, LPCC

practiceIt seems to me that often times we limit ourselves by saying something to the effect of, “I am just not good at that.” This probably starts early in life to protect us from the vulnerability of failing. It, however, also blocks us from success. Natural talent is not the only way to achieve greatness or success.

The late Steve Jobs–a highly regarded innovator and founder of Apple Computers–was also nearly as famous for his ability to present and market. His keynote speeches for Apple became famous and often imitated. But, his public speaking skills were not always superb. A video of an interview he gave early in his career was uncovered decades later. He is visibly nervous and even verbalizes his fear of becoming sick. This is not the same Steve Jobs who entertained while unveiling his most recent product. So what gives?

Jobs put in hours and hours of practice. He honed and developed his presentation skills spending hundreds of hours on one presentation.

Dr. K. Anders Ericsonn published a research study that looked into this idea of hard work and practice. He said excellence depends on more than mere practice but deliberative practice. His definition of this is, “improving the skills you have and extending the reach and range of those skills.” So Dr. Ericsonn takes into account natural talent but suggests excellence does not rest there.

So, when we consider our personal well being are we focusing daily on improving our  skills and extending them? In marriage, hone the abilities and strengths so that they cover a number of aspects in relationships. Parent in a way that sees possibility to attain skills rather than give up on that possibility.

The takeaway is this: because you view yourself as, “just not good” at something now, does not mean you can’t be proficient in that area. If you have skills in an area, they can always be improved.

 

Justin P. Lewis, MA, LMFT

 

Life is a balancing act for all of us. We are constantly trying to move forward with our purpose, to achieve our goals, all the while trying to keep in balance the various elements of our lives. But if any aspect of our life draws a disproportionate amount of energy, we have to shortchange the other aspects. That throws us off—and we are unable to move forward on life’s tightrope until a balance can be reestablished. We have to deal with any areas that are taking too much energy and put them in perspective, align them, so that we have energy available for all areas.

thCheck on your whole self. The first step is to stop and assess how you are doing. Look at all the  various aspects of your life that you are constantly juggling, constantly trying to keep in balance—marriage and family, money, health, social circles, spiritual development, mental growth. Have you lost touch with good friends?Are you working too much and family life has suffered?

Assess your life as it is right now. With both your money and your health, aim for progress, not perfection. Don’t wait for big leaps. Small steps in the right direction can be a game changer. For example, if you are overwhelmed with debt, saving just $20 a week can add up over time – and best of all, it eventually becomes a habit. It is the same with your health. Maybe you can’t get to the gym, but you can make a habit of taking the stairs, stretching during a commercial or marching in place while you brush your teeth.

Renew your decisions on a daily, minute-to-minute basis. This is especially important after a slip. It allows you to ease into change, instead of expecting things to change overnight. Step back and put things in perspective. Set reasonable goals. If you can’t figure out how to get where you want to be, ask for help. Acknowledge that creating balance is essential to your health in all areas and worth the effort.

Make time for yourself everyday, in a quiet meditative state, to relax and “check yourself out.” The right balance today might not be the same as yesterday. Sometimes priorities change. None of us is going to be perfectly balanced all of the time. But if you don’t keep tabs on your progress, you might find one day that you have moved far away from your goals. The important thing in having a balanced life is the feeling of accomplishment and happiness you enjoy at the end of the day.

We are happy to be hosting an intern for the summer. She wrote this article for us:

Every marriage relationship is looking for stability. When Bipolar disorder comes into the picture stability may seem like an impossible state to reach, and love may seem lost. This does not have to be true! When Bipolar disorder enters a marriage, problems tend to present themselves as more animated and theatrical. However, by honestly communicating with your spouse and working together through your problems, you will not only help the situation, but increase bonding as well.

Here are a few tips to help you along your way:

  1. Keep taking your medication. If this is an option for you, it would be wise to continue taking your medication, even if you believe you are feeling better. Do this for yourself, and for your spouse.

  2. Educate yourself about the disease; what stressors trigger mood swings and what best sooth them. Selflessly comfort your spouse, try to understand what they are going through and what helps. Have compassion and recognize when the disease is speaking, not your spouse.

  3. Both husband and wife attending therapy together may be helpful to learn more about each other, the disease, and to increase your overall marital fidelity.

  4. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, eat healthy, and stay active. Maintaining a healthy, mind, body, and spirit is tremendously beneficial in all aspects of life.

  5. Take time for yourself, to pray, and recall your love for each other, and manage stress. Do something creative, go biking, golfing, fishing, or pick up a hobby.

 

–Miranda Farthing

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  • Learning how not to do for others what they can learn to do for themselves is one of the golden rules of adult maturity. 2 years ago
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