Your communication style is ruining your relationships

Here’s the problem with all of our relationships – with our spouses or significant others, with family, with friends, and with co-workers: None of us are born knowing how to communicate. In fact, we all kinda stink at it.

As most of us have heard, we all view the world through a different lens. The problem is, we hear everything through different filters too. That means, for example, when your better half says the house is a mess and needs to be cleaned up, he or she may not necessarily be griping at you. Maybe they’re just thinking out loud. But, if you’re always expecting the worse from them, then you’re always going to expect them to be nagging on you, when it’s possibly not the case at all.

Another scenario we may all be familiar with is a conversation between Tom and Ann:

Tom: “Where’s the checkbook?”

Ann: “I don’t know. Why are you always blaming me for everything?

Tom: “Why are you getting so upset? I just asked a simple question.”

Probably sounds a lot like a conversation you’ve had, right? The thing is, it’s not really a “simple” question or conversation. Think about your own relationship. You know that if you’re being asked “Where’s the checkbook?”, or “Why are you acting angry?”, there’s always more to it than the simple question.

The problem is that you’re each reinforcing the other’s communication style

There are a lot of things that could be going on in Tom and Ann’s conversation that we don’t know about. Ann was responding to a number of cues that Tom gave her. She may have felt like Tom’s tone was harsh or blaming. Maybe they’ve had a long-standing argument about where the dang checkbook is. Her response to Tom’s question is fueled by her own interpretation of what she thinks the question means.

If Ann thinks Tom is always overly controlling or blaming, and then hears what she interprets to be a controlling tone, or sees a particular look on his face, she’ll assume he’s doing what he “always” does and treat her poorly.

But Ann’s not the only one to blame here. Maybe Tom also has some negative beliefs about Ann. He likely thinks she’s unorganized or too sensitive, or easily provoked. So, because he’s probably unaware of his tone, he’ll be surprised by Ann’s angry response. This is filtered through his beliefs about her, and he’ll respond accordingly.

Both are trapped in this negative cycle of reinforcing each other’s beliefs by the way they interact with each other. It doesn’t matter how many times Tom has asked Ann about the checkbook, every time she’s probably going to respond poorly. She’ll get upset. And then he’ll get upset.

What happens next? You can probably guess. They’ll either both shut down and refuse to even look at the other person, or one of them will get mad and stomp out.

Why do these simple questions have to be so hard?

And so starts another cycle of the same never-ending argument. If you’re anything like Tom and Ann, these arguments are probably on auto-pilot by now, and all it takes is one person to say the wrong thing, and we’re off to the races. You can probably, at this point, list everything that’s going to be said during the argument and how it’s ultimately going to end. And yet we still keep doing it.

Stopping the negative cycle

To put a stop to this negative cycle, you’ve got to first understand a really important point about the situation you’re in:

It really only takes one person to change a relationship.

Wait, what?

That’s right – the other person could do absolutely nothing and you can still create positive, healthy change in the way you communicate in your relationship. Of course, it’s always nice when both people want to move the relationship forward, but even so, you have the ability and responsibility to make this change happen in your relationship.

Think back to Tom and Ann. What if Tom had reconsidered the way he asked that question? What if Ann had taken a moment to think about what Tom was really asking? Even a split-second of thought and consideration may have made that conversation turn out really differently.

Either Tom or Ann’s change in perception of the other person could’ve taken the conversation in a completely different direction. 

How to put it into practice

Changing the negative cycle in your relationship isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Really, it’s a simple mindset change. Next time you and the person you care about begin to have a conversation that usually leads to an argument, simply consider what what you’re hearing versus what they’re really saying. 

Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they are being a jerk, but just maybe they’re looking to move the conversation forward, rather than allowing it to continue getting stuck.

Dr. Zakk Gammon is a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor at the Practice Administrator of Revive Christian Counseling.

Zakk works with couples who are tired of feeling stuck, and are ready to make a real, lasting change in their relationship.

Zakk can be reached at (270) 926-6957 or by email at zakk@revivecounseling.org.

CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT.

Loving Your Spouse in a Way That Makes Sense: Improving Communication in Your Relationship

Remember when you were dating, how easy it was to go out to dinner or just spend the evening hanging out together? Fast forward a couples years into marriage and things are very different. The things that your spouse used to find cute are now driving them crazy. And the things you used to do for them don’t seem to be enough anymore.

Perhaps it’s because you’re loving them in the way that you want to feel love, but maybe it’s not the way they want to receive that love. Maybe it doesn’t make any sense to them. 

Think of it like this: you’re speaking to your partner in Spanish, but they’re speaking to you in German. In reality, both of you should be speaking Italian and you get in this endless loop of trying to understand the other person, and then getting frustrated when they don’t get it. 

Watch this video and see what small changes you can make to have a big impact.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwrBUrmax94&feature=youtu.be

Dr. Zakk Gammon works with couples who are looking to make changes in their relationship by learning better communication skills to create a rock-solid foundation. Schedule your appointment with him here.

The simple way to rebuild trust in your relationship

One of the most frequent questions we receive at Revive Christian Counseling is from clients who are looking to rebuild what’s left of a damaged relationship. Whether you’re married and have cheated on your spouse, or you’ve done something really hurtful to a friend, the question we’re asked most often is “How do I get them to trust me again?”

The answer is really simple, but it’s probably not the answer that you want.

Rebuilding trust in your broken relationship

The simple truth of the matter there’s nothing you can say or do to instantly make the other person feel better. As you’ve certainly already discovered, there’s no “magic wand” you can wave to suddenly make everything okay. It’s not as simple as just moving on and forgetting the situation happened.

RELATED: Christian Counseling for Affairs

The only way to rebuild trust in your relationship is by being trustworthy

That means you’re going to have to do some things you probably don’t want to do. You’re going to have to be completely honest and open about what you’re doing, what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling. If you’ve cheated or come clean about a sex or pornography addiction to your spouse, you’re also going to have to do some work to reassure them it’s not going to happen again.

RELATED: Rebuilding Trust in Your Broken Relationship

The best way to begin rebuilding this trust is to use some type of accountability software. At Revive Christian Counseling, we recommend Accountable2You(We get no monetary earnings by you using this software; it is simply the one we think works the best.) Accountable2You and other similar accountability apps allow you to setup trusted contacts who’ll receive alerts if you visit inappropriate websites, or send or receive inappropriate text messages or emails.

Many choose to ask their pastor or a trusted friend or mentor to receive those alerts. Some choose to list their spouse as another contact. While there’s nothing wrong with your spouse receiving those alerts, it isn’t a good idea to expect them to be the only person to hold you accountable. They’re already going through a lot of emotions and challenges as they navigate their feelings around what’s happened, and so it’s a bit unfair to add that to their plate as well. Additionally, it forces them to have to be even more vigilant about your actions and who you’re talking to or what sites you’re visiting.

Accept responsibility

When working to rebuild trust in your relationship, it’s important to remember that you have to take responsibility for your actions. No, that doesn’t mean you have to live with immense guilt or shame, but it does mean you have to let the other person know that you’re accepting the blame for what’s happened, and that you’re going to do what it takes to get the relationship back on track.

Back up your words with actions

Now that you’ve accepted responsibility and you’ve come clean about what’s happened, it’s not enough to just say you’re sorry. You’re going to have to do some work to prove that you’re willing to do what needs to be done to rebuild the trust. To do so, remember to be humble, gracious and kind in regard to what they’re going through. Remember to over communicate your thoughts and actions so there’s never any doubt about what’s going on in your mind or what you’re doing. If the betrayal has to do with an inappropriate relationship or with pornography, consider seeking counseling for affairs or counseling for pornography addiction.

Be patient

If you’ve hurt someone else, they’re going to need time to process and understand what they’re feeling. Even if you’ve committed to never hurting them again, they’re still going to feel the hurt and pain caused by your actions. It’s important to remember that while these actions are in your past, it’s very much in the other person’s present as they work to navigate their emotions. Allow them to experience the anger, disbelief, sadness and hurt as they figure out how to begin healing.

Struggling to rebuild trust in your relationship? Give us a call, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here to begin getting back on track. It’s time to get your life back.

14 Ways to Accept Criticism Without Being Defensive

I see it all the time – couples who want to improve their relationship by sharing things their spouse could do better. Heck, even outside of marriages – things like relationships with your best friend, or perhaps dealing with your boss at work – there are times in life when you receive criticism, and many times, it’s not fun.

After all, who likes to hear a list of negative things about themselves, especially when those points are true?

However, it’s important to be able to take and hear critical feedback without without getting defensive. People who can accept criticism at face value are able to make positive changes, and take their relationship or situation to the next level.

If you tend to get defensive in your marriage, your job or with friends and family members, you may have trouble growing and making healthy, long-lasting changes. These tips can help change your perspective on accepting criticism.

1. Actively Listen

Active listening means that you’re really hearing the feedback rather than just waiting for your turn to speak. It’s really the most important thing you can do when you’re receiving criticism. Give the conversation your full attention, concentrate, respond and make sure you can remember the main points.

You want to shut off the part of your brain that starts coming up with answers and pushback to what’s being said. Your defense is really beside the point right now. What does matter is being able to listen actively to what the person is saying and process it without the situation turning into a debate.

2. Ask Questions

It’s important to ask questions to fully understand where you have room for improvement. This might (and probably will) feel unnatural, but it’s one of the most important things you can do when receiving criticism. It’s hard enough to receive said feedback – it’s a whole other level to start asking questions about it so that you can get more information about where you can improve.

When you start asking questions, have an eye toward understanding the feedback. The point to your questions is not to find a flaw in the criticism, but rather to fully digest it. Remember that most of the time, the person is giving you feedback to see positive changes.

3. Understand Why Feedback is Important

Others can see flaws in you that you typically can’t see, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s true, people tend to be their own worst critics. The problem is that you’re too critical where you shouldn’t be, and you may have blind spots to areas where you need feedback the most.

This feedback from others is important because it’s more objective than what you’re going to give yourself. Don’t see feedback or constructive criticism as a reason to be upset. Rather, see it as an opportunity to improve.

4. Take Note

If you struggle with shutting out feedback, write it down so you can remember it. Feedback in your relationships is only as good as what you can remember. If you are in a situation and your spouse, friend or boss is telling you something they’re concerned about, take time to write it down after the conversation is over.

Of course, make your own notes alongside what you’ve been told, figuring out ways to improve what was discussed.

5. Follow Up

Just like taking notes doesn’t sound super fun, following up on the conversation sounds about as much fun as getting a root canal. It’s so much easier to ignore the conversation and pretend like it didn’t happen. If you follow up on the conversation, you’re going to have to revisit the same uncomfortable issues. And when you have the follow up meeting, that’s the time for you to not make counter arguments, but rather discuss and ask what changes the other person is seeing.

Focusing on the positive changes instead of arguing the point shows you’re serious about hearing the other person out and understanding their concerns. Even before you’ve started making progress and positive changes, you’re showing that you take the other person seriously and that it’s important to you.

6. Understand the Other Person’s Point of View

Obviously, getting this type of feedback is unpleasant. But it’s equally important to realize the other person is likely uncomfortable as well.

Especially if the situation is about an uncomfortable topic, like a common disagreement, or something really personal, the person providing the feedback isn’t likely having a lot of fun either.

Be sensitive to the fact that the other person isn’t comfortable; that may make you less anxious and more receptive.

7. Get in front of it

Don’t be afraid to ask for honest and frank feedback from your spouse, friends, family, boss or co-workers. The more you hear it, the more comfortable you’ll be hearing it when it’s totally unsolicited. That’ll make you more capable of hearing the negative feedback and improving your performance rather than getting defensive and rejecting what’s being said to you.

Asking for critical feedback also provides you with more opportunities to become better.

8. Surround Yourself with Frank People

Being around friends or co-workers who aren’t afraid to give feedback on the fly will help you to become more comfortable hearing it. You’ll also be more skilled at giving critical feedback yourself when necessary.

People who aren’t afraid to give feedback to their loved ones, friends and co-workers tend to have great relationship skills – something else that can rub off on you.

9. Understand the Difference Between Effort and Results

Feedback and concerns typically aren’t intended to point out that you weren’t trying hard enough. But it does mean there are things you could change to make life a whole lot easier or better.

This is part of not having to answer back when you’re being confronted with potentially uncomfortable criticism. Your job is to take it in, not fight back.

Being aware that your efforts aren’t being called into question helps you to prevent yourself from becoming negative and resentful.

10. Don’t Ignore the Positive

When your better half, best friend or other person in your life is talking to you about yourself, hopefully there’s some good in there too. Don’t forget that.

The positive stuff may give you a way to make the improvements and changes the other person is hoping to see. What’s more, it’s going to make it easier for you to have the rest of the conversation.

Remember, getting criticism doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, but you may be doing something that’s hard to live with.

11. Listen to Intent as Well as Words

Let’s face it, not everybody is good at these conversations. Maybe your husband sucks at communicating. Maybe your wife looks angry while you’re talking. Perhaps your best friend stutters all over him or herself when trying to explain the situation. However, just because it’s inartful doesn’t mean what they’re saying is unimportant.

Sometimes, you have to listen for the ideas behind the words. That can be difficult if you’re confronted with somebody who doesn’t give feedback all that well.

Still, listening to what they’re trying to tell you and ignoring the actual words they’re using will help you to receive feedback better and perform better as a result.

12. Do as They Say, Not as They Do

So maybe your better half tells you that you need to stop yelling so much, even though every time you get into an argument they yell at you. Does that make their feedback any less valid? Absolutely not.

If a person with 10 DUI convictions tells you not to drive drunk, it’s still good advice. Just as you shouldn’t make getting feedback personal, you also shouldn’t make it personal in the other direction.

Good advice from a badly behaved person is still good advice. Lead by example and follow the advice. Don’t be surprised if they start following you.

13. Explain how the Feedback Helped You

Going back over the critical feedback will help you to acclimate yourself to hearing it. Expressing how it helped you will help the person who gave you the feedback better understand how they helped.

This will make hearing critical feedback much smoother in the future as you and the other person make communication easier.

14. Say Thank You

It can be humbling, to say the least, when somebody tells you something you don’t want to hear. This is even more true when you say “thank you” at the end of the conversation.

This lets the other person know you’re taking them seriously and you’re open to these conversations in the future. Opening that door gives you opportunities to grow and become better, without becoming defensive or standoffish.

Obviously, this doesn’t solve every problem. If you have a particularly difficult marriage, friendship, work environment or relationship with family, many times the things you hear may not be constructive, and is instead used as a way to try to control, guilt, or manipulate you. It’s important to learn to discern and understand the difference.

 STRUGGLING WITH NEGATIVITY, FRUSTRATION OR RESENTMENT? Let’s get you back on track. Give us a call, message us on Facebook or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.

Providing Stability for Your Children Post-Divorce

Keeping things stable: it’s no easy task, but an imperative one. Stability runs parallel with consistency, and if you take the time to sit down and discuss things with your ex-partner, you can set some ground rules in order to maintain consistency.  Your children need you now more than ever. Spending prolonged time with the other parent so soon after a divorce may be less than ideal for you, but it is definitely necessary for your children. Being on the same page as your ex and having a discussion will help avoid potential disagreements further down the line or at least slightly negate their effects on stability.

Points to Keep in Mind

Divorce affects children of all ages; this is a time when they need maximum support and understanding. Coping with divorce can better prepare them for further obstacles in later life; they will develop into more capable and tolerant adults.

Organizing regular time with both parents and sticking to similar rules for each household will help create a stable environment for your children. Structure in terms of a set custody schedule is vital in this preliminary stage. While you and your children are adjusting to the new state of affairs, it’s better to minimize schedule changes.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, fighting in front of your children creates a much more tense and pressure filled environment. It also makes the objective of stability that much further to reach. If you’re anticipating heated disagreements and conflicts in parenting style it may be best to consider mediation. This way you can get an objective point of view. Either way, you have to get in the mind-set of compromise. Accept your differences, at least in the short term, all in the name of providing that stability.

As is the case with any adult going through divorce, children also have mixed emotions and may feel hurt or angry about the situation. This needs to be tackled properly in order to prevent behavioral problems further down the line. Speak with them and don’t always take their word that they’re okay. Look out for disruptions in their sleep or changed attitudes in school to indicate that they’re being affected.

You should consider their stability at school. If possible it is better to avoid changing schools for your children so that they have familiar routines and structures in their school life parallel to their home life. The same friends and teachers can help preserve consistency, the same goes for relatives; try not to cut any of their relatives out of their lives.

Dealing with bad behavior

It goes without saying that this aspect of parenting will become more challenging post-divorce. You’ve got a lot on your mind and it can feel like you’re trying to juggle too many balls at once. All the previous points to keep in mind in addition to providing stability will hopefully go some way to keeping behavior in check. Putting your children in a difficult or uncomfortable position (for example caught between both parents) will result in them being more likely to act out.

If the other parent has sole custody and you spend less time than you’d like with your child it can be tempting to over indulge and spoil them to compensate for the limited time. This is not a good idea for several reasons. Of course you should make the most of the time you get together but monetary compensations are no replacement for quality time and it can influence your child’s behavior negatively. They can begin to expect too much without having to abide by rules, furthermore acting towards them out of pity or guilt could further compound their feelings of self-doubt in regards to them handling this new situation.

Be careful how you treat your child post-divorce, frequently emotion is expressed through actions and gearing all your efforts towards maintaining stability and a positive family relationship will go a long way to combating bad behavior. If behavioral problems do not cease to persist don’t be afraid to seek professional help in the form of a child therapist or behavioral expert. Sometimes it will be easier for your child to speak to someone removed from/not personally involved in the situation. Above all, be understanding. Sometimes adults aren’t constantly mature enough to handle divorce well so you can’t expect children to be!

This post was written for Revive Christian Counseling by Krishan Smith of Custody X Change, a custody calendar software program.

 STRUGGLING THROUGH SEPARATION OR DIVORCE? Let’s work together and help find solutions. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment here. Appointments are available in Owensboro and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

Setting Examples and Exercising Control: A Guide for Separated Parents

Separation. Divorce. You only need to say these words and already people begin to conjure up images of volatile, hostile, aggressive environments. It’s not exactly the perfect environment for a child to be situated in. These times are hard for everyone, even if everything ended amicably. Children need a long time to process and come to terms with what’s happened, what’s happening and what’s going to happen in the future. The best way you can help is to be supportive, listen and shield them from unnecessary heated moments.

Exercise caution

Unfortunately, what you expose your children to during this time could seriously affect them, as it as a period in life of vulnerability and emotional uncertainty for everyone involved. People react to new circumstances in different ways, and you obviously want the transition to be as smooth as possible for the people you love!

Of course being careful of what you say and do in front of your children shouldn’t amount to lying to them. Honesty is still the best policy, and vital for keeping trust. However it’d still be wise to withhold certain details until they’re completely ready to hear it. Your explanations always need to be age appropriate. Another imperative point is not to do something that parents are often guilty of. Although it is something they usually subconsciously do, or at least do without intention.  Remember not to tell your children how they feel, or tell them they don’t feel something when they do. Don’t deny them their right to emotions and feelings.

Be aware of your behavior

This awareness will help you avoid potentially damaging situations. Check your conduct toward your ex-spouse when your child is present; the last thing you want is them seeing you shouting, disparaging each other or getting physical; even if it’s just a prod or aggressively pointed finger. Body language and non-verbal clues give a lot away and are easily picked up by the kids. If you want your child to be mature, respectful and kind you have to exhibit those same favorable traits in your demeanour and actions. As a parent, you’re are always the primary role model in the lives of your children, whether you’re divorced or not. You want to instil your values in your children, so act how you wish them to act.

Equally as significant is maintaining relationships with both parents. For the development of your children, it’s better that you never prevent them from contacting the other parent and don’t get too involved in or try to prevent their relationship from naturally growing. If you have an agreement with your ex, stick to it. Don’t deny visitations or change plans at the last second out of spite or emotion. Remember what’s best for the children. To avoid exposing them to disagreements between you as parents, it’s advisable to use a parenting plan template and draw up a specific plan – one that you can agree on and stick to, complete with necessary details in order to decrease the likelihood of future disputes. Once you have something in writing, it’s harder to argue about or deny.

Finally, if children see you managing your conflict well through negotiation, empathy, compromise and (age appropriate) discussion it can educate them and help them learn skills for the future. It can actually benefit them by teaching life lessons on ethics, responsibility and constructive conflict resolution.

This post was written for Revive Christian Counseling by Krishan Smith of Custody X Change, a custody calendar software program.

 STRUGGLING THROUGH A SEPARATION? Give us a call, message us on Facebook or schedule your appointment right here. Appointments are available in Owensboro and Online. There’s hope and healing in your journey. It’s time to get your life back.

Intimacy in Marriage: It’s Not as Hard as You Think

How many times in your marriage have you thought, “I just wish we could be more intimate,”? It’s a great idea. Getting there proves to be the challenge. The thing is, intimacy in marriage isn’t as hard as you think. It’s really about changing your perspective, and understanding your spouse’s point of view, too.

The first (and perhaps most important) thing to remember, is that intimacy doesn’t always mean sex. In fact, do you know what the actual definition of intimacy is? The Oxford Dictionary defines intimacy as “close familiarity or friendship; closeness”. In this particular definition, it has nothing to do with sex, but rather the building of a relationship. It’s important for you to define what intimacy means for your marriage. And it’s equally important to realize your partner may a different definition for intimacy than your own.

Ask a large number of people what they believe intimacy means, and you’ll get a large variety of answers. A lot of them will probably say intimacy is deep emotional sharing and  deep, satisfying conversation. Others automatically equate intimacy as good sex. Ironically, these two types of people are often married to each other. So what ends up happening is one partner will say, “We’d have better sex if we were more intimate,” and the other will say, “We’d be more intimate if we had better sex.” Sound familiar?

It’s important for you to define what intimacy means for your marriage.

So, if intimacy ins’t just about sex, then what the heck is it? While there are several more than could ever be mentioned here, let’s focus on some of the ones most often discussed (or most often overlooked).

  1. Parenting intimacy – develops through the relationship of parenting your children together
  2. Spiritual intimacy – develops as a result of serving and worshipping together
  3. Recreational intimacy – develops through shared interests
  4. Esthetic intimacy – develops through physical attraction with your spouse
  5. Crisis intimacy – develops as a result of experiencing hard times together
  6. Emotional intimacy – develops as a result deep connection, via shared experiences, feelings, emotions, etc.
  7. Sexual intimacy – develops as you deepen your sexual relationship with your spouse

One thing I hope you notice here from each of these examples is that intimacy develops over time. It’s not immediate. It’s kind of like learning to drive for the first time. You have a general idea of how a car works, but if you’ve never been behind the wheel, it’s unlikely you’re going to instantly know how to drive perfectly. Intimacy is really no different. It takes practice, and learning what works for you and your partner, and being willing to meet the other person’s needs in addition to your own.

From the examples above, in what ways are you failing to connect with your spouse? If you sole focus is sex or a deep emotional connection, there are areas where you may not be connecting at all. This is in no way saying you’ve having to be just like your spouse, or enjoy exactly the same things. In fact, some of the most successful marriages involve couples who are very different or have separate interests in addition to their shared interests. The point is to find the common ground where it exists, and to use those connections to grow closer to your partner.

Consider the closeness that Paul teaches about in Ephesians. He shares what’s supposed to happen in marriage when we find intimacy with our spouse:

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” – Ephesians 5:31

Again, it’s not talking just about sex, but deep emotional, spiritual, physical and practical connections as well.

Drs. David Olsen and Douglas Stephens said it best: “The best road to deep intimacy doesn’t come through a series of clever techniques. It comes from staying on the long-term path of self-definition or differentiation. Only a self that is defined can provide genuine caring, empathy and healing.”

How can you improve intimacy in your own marriage?

 STRUGGLING WITH INTIMACY IN YOUR MARRIAGE? Call me, message me on Facebook, or schedule an appointment here. We’ll work together to get your marriage on the right track. Appointments are available in Owensboro, Henderson and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

Why am I single?: 3 ways you’re sabotaging your relationships

If you’re dating, you know how difficult it can be to find someone you enjoy being with and that’s worth a second date. And when you find that person, you certainly don’t want to let them go. So then, you may be asking yourself, “Why am I single?“. A lot of people go through life wondering why they’re not in a relationship, or why none of their relationships ever work out. Believe it or not, the answer to this dilemma may be as simple as looking in the mirror. Okay, okay. Before you start to shake your head and object, it’s important to understand how you’re the one sabotaging any change at a relationship that goes your way. Think about it seriously and see if you recognize yourself in the following:

1. You always choose people who are emotionally unavailable.

This means the only people you seem to be attracted to are married or otherwise involved. Side note: God will never send you to somebody else’s husband. Ever. I promise. You may also choose people who are still carrying torches for their exes — or even crushes who never wanted anything to do with them. When you only go after these types of people, you’re sabotaging yourself before you can even get off the ground. These people will never be able to commit to you romantically and, subconsciously, you know it. So, ask yourself the question, “Am I deliberately going after people who I can never have?

“Am I deliberately going after people who I can never have?”

2. You’re finally in a good relationship, and you cheat on your partner.

If cheating on your partner is a pattern, consider looking how that pattern began.

Ouch. Noticing this kind of patter in your relationships can be painful. If you’re with someone who you think you may love and can eventually marry, what’s leading you to cheat? Sometimes, in addition to cheating, people will go out of their way to make sure their partner finds out. Explore what’s making you feel the way you are – what makes you deliberately ruin the relationship.

3. You nit-pick everything about your partner.

This typically happens once you’re in a relationship that seems like it’s actually heading somewhere — like down the aisle. Maybe you’re running scared for whatever reason and try as hard as you can to find everything under the sun wrong with your partner. These are usually silly things, like how you don’t like how they squeeze the toothpaste tube (yes, people have been to counseling over this before). Sometimes, you may go out of your way to find something you really don’t like, just to say “I TOLD YOU SO!”

What’s underneath the surface?

These issues certainly aren’t the only things you may be doing to sabotage your own relationships for yourself, but they do top the list. If you see yourself in any of these situations, you may want to start asking yourself some tough questions. Many times, I see people who say they want a relationship more than anything while doing all they can to make sure it doesn’t happen — and many times, they don’t even know it. When you discover the why of what you’re doing, you’ll be able to figure out the how to stop it. It is possible for you to have a successful relationship!

 NEED RELATIONSHIP HELP? To get started, give me a call, or schedule an appointment online. Appointments available in Owensboro and Hartford. It’s time to get your life back.

Breaking Up with Someone: Should I stay or should I go?

It’s decision time, and you’re deciding if breaking up with someone is the right choice.  Whether you’ve been dating for a couple months or you’ve been married for 20 years, the decision to end a relationship isn’t something to be taken lightly.  You have to determine whether the memories you’ve made and the future you’ve planned is worth ending.  Personally, I believe love deserves a chance, and if the relationship can be saved, it should be saved.  That said, I don’t believe you should ever stay in an abusive or harmful relationship or marriage.

If you’re struggling to decide whether or not to leave someone, consider these three things:

#1. It may not be all their fault.

Is your spouse or significant other struggling with something?  Pornography or sex addiction, perhaps? It isn’t easy, but remember that all addictions are diseases and it’s hard to break free from them. An addiction of a sexual nature is no different from a drug addiction in terms of somebody “quitting”. It takes time and a lot of work. If this is the situation with the other person, while they should be held accountable for their actions, it’s also important to remember to pray for them and to encourage them if they are willing to seek help, including an accountability partner, Bible studies and perhaps counseling. If they are not willing to seek help, then you must react as if you would in any situation involving an addict, in that you pray for them, encourage them to seek help, and making sure you’re caring for yourself.  I’m certainly not saying their activity is excusable, but we’re also called to show grace to those who struggle.

#2. Realize part of the problem may be your fault.

If your relationship is headed south, it’s easy to point your finger at the other person and point out every single mistake they’re making and every way they’ve wronged you.  If your life with the other person has turned into nothing but arguments and hateful looks, it’s probably not just their fault.  It’s likely you had something to do with it too.  Consider asking them if something you’ve done has hurt them. This is not the time to be defensive when they open up to you.  It’s the time to share what’s hurting your heart, and to listen to really hear them, not just to respond and fight back.  Show them you’re willing to listen to them and make changes too, and that you together you’re willing to put the pieces back together.  This doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy – but it’s important to remember – you’re on the same team.  You should be fighting for each other, not with each other.

#3. Understand that nobody probably ever taught you to communicate.

Being open and vulnerable with our spouse isn’t something most of us go into a marriage knowing how to do.  We’ve learned what the world has taught us: that we’re in it for ourselves and we have to protect ourselves at all costs.  Nobody will take care of us better than we can take care of ourselves.  The fact is, none of this is true.  In your marriage, you and your spouse should have each other’s backs at all costs.  But the thing is, nobody ever really tells us that.  It’s hard enough for us to understand how to process emotions like hurt and anger at someone, let alone express them to that person. “When we don’t know how to communicate, our relationships break down.”

When we don’t know how to communicate, our relationships break down.

And this communication isn’t something you can learn overnight.  It takes time, and commitment to the other person.  Most of us only communicate with our significant to do one of three things:

  • Project a better image of ourselves
  • Show them how wrong they are
  • Defend ourselves

See how self-centered that is?

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Commit to working on your relationship before ending it.  If you’re really set on breaking up, give yourself enough time to weigh your circumstances, options and beliefs.

Struggling in your relationship? Not sure if you should stay or go? Make an appointment and get on the path to getting your life back.  Services available in Owensboro and Hartford, KY.

 

Three Ways to Stop Fighting with Your Spouse

Does it feel like you and your better half are always arguing about something? Some people live in relationships with this fear to the point that they just stop talking to the other person so they don’t start a fight. Sometimes there’s a serious problem going on, and sometimes it’s just a matter of communicating with your partner. Either way, try these three things to help you stop fighting with your spouse.

1. Make out instead of fighting.

What? You thought I was going to give you some type of deeply theological, philosophical and psychological wisdom? Seriously, it’s hard to fight with each other while you’re kissing. Obviously, there are times when this isn’t appropriate — but there are times that this is the perfect action to diffuse a stressful situation. Before long you’ll forget why you were even fighting.

2. When you’re having a conversation, listen to hear, not to respond.

How many times have you been in an argument and the entire time you were just trying to prove you’re the one who’s right? Probably every argument, right? What if you actually listened to the other person’s point of view? Listen, I get it. Your husband is a jerk and you want to beat him over the head with something. But maybe, just maybe, if you listen to his heart in the matter, you might understand better. Truly understanding the other person will help you to have empathy, and perhaps consider something from a new perspective.

3. Think about future implications.

Every time you feel yourself starting to get angry and a fight is coming on, ask yourself the question, “Is this going to matter a year from now? Five years from now?”
If the answer is no, there’s really no good reason for this disagreement to turn into a knock-down drag-out. Sure, you might be ticked off, and the situation is probably worth having a discussion over, but is fighting really necessary?


There are times when fights are unavoidable, but if the only conversations you’re having with your husband or wife are shouting matches, something is definitely wrong, and it’s time to see a professional.  If you need some help getting conversations on the right track, check out our free resource: 10 Communication Tips to Improve Your Relationship in Just One Week!Or, when you’re ready to talk, make an appointment with us in Owensboro or Hartford.

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