The Questions that Will Save Your Relationship, Glennon Melton

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/the-questions-that-will-save-your-relationships_b_4618254.html

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Want to be Happy? Change Your Frame of Thought, by Erin A. Alexander, LPC

photos from iphone 036

Many times, people get caught up in being unhappy because of their job circumstances or relationship situations. For example, when a person gets hired at a governmental entity (whether it is city, county, state, federal, school district, or otherwise), he/she starts complaining about all of the policies, procedures, politics, etc. Well, from my experience in working in most of those entities, the environments are rather conservative. There is not a lot of acceptance of free-thinking, or “lone wolf” kind of attitudes. This is what the expectation is when you are hired. You are to conform to the policies and procedures…play by the rules. So when I hear people complaining about their jobs in this respect, I wonder if any of this was considered prior to their accepting the job.

In order to be happy at the job, one has to re-frame one’s thinking. I mean, you can’t really change anything, so adjust your thought processes so that you can be happy and productive at work. Make a decision to set reasonable goals for yourself so that you can feel accomplished. Set boundaries so that you’re not overwhelmed. Don’t try to control what you cannot control, because when it all boils down to it, you cannot control what others think, feel, or do. Make a calculated decision to take care of yourself, meaning have a good work-life balance.

The same thing applies to relationships. You cannot change anyone’s personality. You cannot force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. It’s a very egocentric point of view to expect for everyone else around you to behave in specific ways to accommodate you. Babies and children do that, and many times feel as if they are being harmed by others, but as they mature, usually they grow out of that. People learn to re-frame their thinking so that they can cope with the behaviors of others, without feeling “attacked”.

So how would you get out of your own world, so to speak, and start seeing things from the perspective of others? Examples of this would be to focus on the positive qualities of others, rather than the faults; believe that people are not always engaging in behaviors with negative intent; believe in the affirmations of others for the good things that they do; and ask yourself, ‘Is this really worth my time and energy to be upset over? Am I overreacting?’

The bottom line is, when we change the way we think about situations, we really can cope with them. The whole premise of cognitive behavioral therapy is to adjust faulty thinking so that behaviors can change.

Valentine’s Day, by Erin A. Alexander, LPC

 

 

The first few weeks in February is when there is a gradual period and build-up of excitement in anticipation of that special day in the middle of the month…St. Valentine’s Day. This day was first associated with romantic love back in the Middle Ages when the tradition of courtly love was popular. By the 18th century in England, the tradition eventually evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed love by giving gifts of flowers, candy, and cards that are now know as valentines. The symbol typical symbols associated with Valentine’s Day are now Cupids, hearts, doves, and roses; the colors connected with this occasion are pink, white, and red.

 

How is it celebrated all over the world? In Italy, people people have romantic dinners and exchange gifts. In France, restaurants do roaring trades, and Valentine’s Day is a popular day for marriage proposals. In England, Valentine’s cards are still sent anonymously, which is an old tradition. In Saudi Arabia, the holiday is banned because it encourages immoral relations between unmarried people. In Estonia, it is called Friends Day, so that single people are not left out.

 

So, now that we have a brief history of Valentine’s Day, how does one have a healthy Valentine’s Day however you choose to celebrate it ?

 

  • Open communication

  • Forgiveness

  • Good humor

  • Have fun

  • Mutual respect

 

Have a great one!!

 

 

How Important is Your Relationship to You? Erin A. Alexander, LPC

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I am a counselor who does primarily couples and relationship-building counseling. I love what I do! It’s challenging and rewarding. I’m writing this post because I want to let people know how counselors gauge their ability to work with you…from the first phone call and scheduled appointment, to the discharge.

 

First of all, counselors have specific office hours just like any other professional. It’s unlikely that a counselor is going to go out of her/his way to see you at any time except during the designated office hours. Would you expect for your doctor to do that? No, you wouldn’t. You know that the doctor’s office is closed at certain times and there are urgent care facilities to handle emergencies. The same goes for counseling. In the case of an emergency, we would not see you in the office anyway…you would need to be assessed in the emergency room. That is standard protocol.

 

I’ve had people leave messages on my voice mail stating how critical their situation is regarding their marriage/relationship, then they will follow that up with, “We are only available to come in after 6pm or on Sundays.” Really?? I don’t work on Sunday either! As far as I’m concerned, you’ve already told me your level of commitment to counseling and your relationship. I do not return those calls.

 

If your marriage/relationship is on the rocks, you should be willing to come in whenever the counselor needs for you to come in so that your situation can be assessed as soon as possible. Just like if you were having problems with your blood sugar or some other moderate-level medical issue, you would get to the doctor Wednesday, at 2pm in the afternoon, if that’s what was available. Your health is at risk, and if you prolong things, your life could be at risk.

 

For some reason, people don’t view mental health that way, not even when their relationships are in jeopardy. Many people wait until there is a crisis, like an impending break-up, or the threat of a divorce before they call a counselor. As mental health professionals, we know that the problems did not just happen overnight. It’s been a slow build-up for months or years.

 

So here’s the deal, when you are having even the slightest problem in your relationship, go ahead and schedule an appointment BEFORE things escalate. Be flexible with your schedule and demonstrate your level of commitment to the process. A counselor is more likely to be flexible with you if you show how important your relationship is to you. Next, be willing to work; counselors give homework and readings that are to be done between sessions. This represents application of what is being discussed in the sessions. Finally, if the counselor make recommendations that may supplement the relationship-building interventions, follow the recommendations. These can include one or both parties getting into individual counseling, attending some sort of group/workshop/retreat, or participation in other community resources. The counselor may also recommend that you see your primary care doctor for a physical.

 

Remember, this is about your relationship. This is about you and the person you love, and are committed to. Surely, the months or years you’ve already invested is worth an afternoon from your busy schedule.

The One Thing You’re Missing That Makes a Healthy Relationship Impossible, Jackie Bledsoe, Jr.

Sometimes we shoot ourselves, or our relationships, in the foot by our own action or inaction. There’s something called a relationship killer (or at best, prevents your relationship from being all it can be.) The bad part about it is although most of us do it, we don’t realize we do, or how much damage it does to our relationship.

An article in YourTango.com shares a quote that emphasizes the importance of this, or what happens when something isn’t present in your relationship.  “It isn’t always easy, it’s an integral part of everyone’s lives; without it, it’s nearly impossible to live a productive, happy life. And without it in a relationship, it’s nearly impossible to have a healthy, growing partnership.“

 

That’s a harsh warning. When this particular thing is missing from your relationship it becomes impossible to have the relationship you hope for.

So, what is this one thing?

It’s not love, it’s not respect, and it’s not even money. It is forgiveness, and it has a major impact on your relationship. Love, respect, patience, and maybe even resources (money) play a part in your relationship, but a lack of forgiveness can completely break down the relationship.

Every one of us makes mistakes, and everyone of us will eventually do something which hurts, offends, or even disrespects our significant other. The way you keep moving forward and allowing  your relationship to grow is through forgiveness. Here are three things to keep in mind when you need to forgive your spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend.

1) You are flawed and make mistakes too. This is the first thing I think of. I make a lot of mistakes. I say and do a bunch of dumb stuff, yet my wife still loves me and respects me. When she does something, it makes it a little easier to forgive her knowing all the forgiveness I’ve been afforded.

2) You hurt yourself when you hold onto things. I read the following quote from Maya Angelou, which sums it up. “Bitterness is like cancer. It eats up the host.” Basically, the longer you hold on and don’t forgive, the more you hurt yourself.

3) It can help calm the situation. We refer to a specific Bible verse when one of our kids gets angry because one of their siblings did something to them. The verse says, “a kind word turns away wrath.”  We encourage both the person who feels wrong and retaliates as well as the person who did the wrong and is now being yelled at to use kind words. Forgiveness works the same way, as it can calm a situation.

Forgiveness should be a priority and practice in your relationship. Until you forgive,  your relationship will become stagnant and it will be impossible to have the growing, healthy relationship you desire.

What are some other ways you can be quick to forgive in your relationship?

 

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship in 2014 , Dr. Terri Orbuch

If you’re looking to add spice to your love life, more fun to your weekends or a better way to resolve conflicts, 2014 is the perfect time to do it.

This year, instead of making a New Year’s resolution for yourself, why not resolve to make your relationship stronger, healthier and happier? Here are six ways to turn a good relationship into one that is exciting, passionate and really happy! These strategies are based on my long-term study, ongoing since 1986 and funded by the National Institutes of Health, where I learned what makes couples happy and keeps relationships strong. [1]

1. Resolve to lighten up.
Finding: One of the qualities I observed among the happiest couples is the ease with which they relate. They joke. They shrug their shoulders with a smile. They are accepting. Sometimes we forget what brought us together in the first place.

Solution: In 2014, sit down with your partner and tell stories about how you first met. Then share with your partner a quality that always makes you smile. This two-part exercise helps couples get back in touch with the happy side of their relationship, as opposed to the more serious side.

2. Resolve to be an inspiration to each other.
Finding: The happy couples in my study don’t criticize each other, but instead inspire their partners by working on and improving themselves.

Solution: In 2014, take responsibility for your own behaviors, actions and words. Get in shape. Get things done. Put a date night on the calendar. Don’t wait around for your partner to do it. You are a team, so when one partner contributes, the other will reciprocate.

3. Resolve to focus on the positive.
Finding: The happy couples in my study focus on what is going well in their relationship, rather than on the problems and the negative aspects.

Solution: In 2014, think of small behavioral changes you can both try that help each other feel loved, noticed, cared about, supported and valued. It can be as simple as giving a heartfelt compliment, touching and kissing or surprising your partner by doing a dreaded chore or errand.

4. Resolve to empty your “pet-peeve pail” frequently.
Finding: I found that happy partners pay attention to the small stuff, the daily obstacles and bumps in the road. They don’t let small issues pile up until they cause big problems.

Solution: In 2014, bring up things that bother you, but do it in a positive way. You might say, “Honey, it feels really comforting to me when our house is tidy, and I feel stressed out when I come home to dishes in the sink and clothes all over the floor. Let’s come up with a solution together.”

5. Resolve to be more empathetic.
Finding: The happy couples in my study try to understand their partner’s perspective or frame of mind.

Solution: In 2014, whenever you find yourself feeling critical, resentful, angry or judgmental, try to switch places with your partner and imagine his or her perspective or frame of mind. Most arguments, conflicts and bad feelings between partners could be totally defused if empathy were to become their default reaction.

6. Resolve to seize the moment.
Finding: The happiest couples in my study were not content with a relationship that was decent, okay or so-so. They described their partnership as great or amazing, and themselves as incredibly lucky and grateful. By paying attention to the relationship on a daily basis, they kept their partner very happy and their relationship very strong and healthy.

Solution: In 2014, don’t settle for a “good-enough” relationship where you get along most of the time, managing the house, jobs and family competently, but where the passion, excitement and fun are gone. Seize the moment to try new things together, practice new behaviors and get back in touch with your love for each other. Try to do something good for the relationship every day.

References:
[1] Terri L. Orbuch, The Early Years of Marriage Project. University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research. Supported by a grant from NICHD (HD40778).

7 ‘Healthy’ Relationship Myths That Need To Be Busted Immediately, By Perrie Samotin

The concept of a healthy relationship can definitely be subjective—some couples believe heavily in the traditional trajectory of dating, engagement, marriage, and kids, while others find that so-called “norms” don’t necessarily suit them. Whatever the case, there are certain ideologies that all happy couples share—regardless of how they approach life’s Big Stuff—that includes mutual respect, a sense of fun, and shared values.

However, there are also plenty of false notions about what makes a healthy relationship that aren’t even remotely true, and can create unrealistic expectations. Here, we’ve broken down 7 healthy relationship myths that need to be busted, stat.

Myth #1: People in a healthy relationship never fight. False! Everyone in happy relationships find themselves embroiled in spats now and again, which is normal and healthy because it means you’re speaking up, voicing your opinion, and trying to resolve things that irk you. However, if you find yourself in daily screaming matches or knee-deep in jealousy, accusations, or negativity, it may be time to reassess your seemingly healthy relationship.

A good means of measurement? Research has shown that for every argument or unpleasant confrontation, you should experience four to five feel-good encounters.

Myth #2: People in a healthy relationship have to share all the same interests.
While it’s fantastic to share some interests, most healthy relationships flourish when each party has things to enjoy that their partner might not. Not only does this provide necessary time apart, but it also opens the door for each of you to potentially teach the other about things you’re into. If you’re feeling like you and your partner really don’t share any commonalities, try choosing one thing to unequivocally do together—a cooking class, weekly trips to a museum, bike riding on Sundays, etc.

Myth #3: People in a healthy relationship have sex constantly (and it’s always amazing!)
Laughing yet? This myth can definitely be busted, as most people in healthy relationships aren’t jumping into bed every single chance they get. In fact, the frequency of sex should be less of a concern as the quality. Of course, if you’re really not happy about the way things are going in the bedroom, talk about it—people in healthy relationships aren’t mind-readers, either.

Myth #4: People in a healthy relationship have to adore each other’s families and friends. Nope, but people in solid relationships do treat certain friends or family members they may not love with respect. Nobody said you have to adore your boyfriend’s cousins, but that doesn’t give you a pass to be nasty, bratty, or snarky when you’re with them. If something legitimately bothers you (his mom making cracks about your weight/your job/your hair, or his friends always ignoring you), talk openly to your partner about the problem, instead of turning on the chill factor whenever the person in question comes around.

Myth #5: People in a healthy relationship have to follow a typical life trajectory. We all know that, typically, the pattern goes: dating, moving in, getting engaged, getting married, having a kid, buying a home, having another kid, and so on. While that’s obviously wonderful, not every happy couple follows that life path. In fact, if portions of that trajectory don’t suit you, your only going to be miserable in the long run. The trick is to agree with your partner on what works for both of you, and going from there.

Myth #6: People in a healthy relationship have to love living together all the time.
If you do decide to live together, that doesn’t quite mean it’s all sunshine and roses 24/7. For folks who live in cities, cohabitation can be cost-effective, but also slightly claustrophobic at times. Compromises must be made, space must be shared, and responsibilities must be attended to. It’s definitely an adjustment that’s often worth it, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never miss being able to throw your stuff wherever you want, blast your music as late as you choose, or decorate solely according to your own taste.

      

                                    

                                     

                                      

                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 The concept of a healthy relationship can definitely be subjective—some couples believe heavily in the traditional trajectory of dating, engagement, marriage, and kids, while others find that so-called “norms” don’t necessarily suit them. Whatever the case, there are certain ideologies that all happy couples share—regardless of how they approach life’s Big Stuff—that includes mutual respect, a sense of fun, and shared values.

However, there are also plenty of false notions about what makes a healthy relationship that aren’t even remotely true, and can create unrealistic expectations. Here, we’ve broken down 7 healthy relationship myths that need to be busted, stat.

Myth #1: People in a healthy relationship never fight. False! Everyone in happy relationships find themselves embroiled in spats now and again, which is normal and healthy because it means you’re speaking up, voicing your opinion, and trying to resolve things that irk you. However, if you find yourself in daily screaming matches or knee-deep in jealousy, accusations, or negativity, it may be time to reassess your seemingly healthy relationship.

A good means of measurement? Research has shown that for every argument or unpleasant confrontation, you should experience four to five feel-good encounters.

Myth #2: People in a healthy relationship have to share all the same interests. While it’s fantastic to share some interests, most healthy relationships flourish when each party has things to enjoy that their partner might not. Not only does this provide necessary time apart, but it also opens the door for each of you to potentially teach the other about things you’re into. If you’re feeling like you and your partner really don’t share any commonalities, try choosing one thing to unequivocally do together—a cooking class, weekly trips to a museum, bike riding on Sundays, etc.

Myth #3: People in a healthy relationship have sex constantly (and it’s always amazing!) Laughing yet? This myth can definitely be busted, as most people in healthy relationships aren’t jumping into bed every single chance they get. In fact, the frequency of sex should be less of a concern as the quality. Of course, if you’re really not happy about the way things are going in the bedroom, talk about it—people in healthy relationships aren’t mind-readers, either.

Myth #4: People in a healthy relationship have to adore each other’s families and friends. Nope, but people in solid relationships do treat certain friends or family members they may not love with respect. Nobody said you have to adore your boyfriend’s cousins, but that doesn’t give you a pass to be nasty, bratty, or snarky when you’re with them. If something legitimately bothers you (his mom making cracks about your weight/your job/your hair, or his friends always ignoring you), talk openly to your partner about the problem, instead of turning on the chill factor whenever the person in question comes around.

Myth #5: People in a healthy relationship have to follow a typical life trajectory. We all know that, typically, the pattern goes: dating, moving in, getting engaged, getting married, having a kid, buying a home, having another kid, and so on. While that’s obviously wonderful, not every happy couple follows that life path. In fact, if portions of that trajectory don’t suit you, your only going to be miserable in the long run. The trick is to agree with your partner on what works for both of you, and going from there.

Myth #6: People in a healthy relationship have to love living together all the time. If you do decide to live together, that doesn’t quite mean it’s all sunshine and roses 24/7. For folks who live in cities, cohabitation can be cost-effective, but also slightly claustrophobic at times. Compromises must be made, space must be shared, and responsibilities must be attended to. It’s definitely an adjustment that’s often worth it, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never miss being able to throw your stuff wherever you want, blast your music as late as you choose, or decorate solely according to your own tastes.

Myth #7: People in a healthy relationship never have to work at it. This is probably the biggest myth of all, as a good relationship takes a lot of work, even if you get along on the day-to-day. When we say work, however, we’re talking about compromising, being less stubborn, and working on things you know you need to change. We’re not talking about changing who you are completely for another person, constantly apologizing for yourself, or putting up with abundant jealousy, anger, or negativity.

The trick is figuring out what, ultimately, will make you  better as an individual and as a couple, as you obviously don’t want to work on something that makes you miserable way more often then it makes you happy.

Support Groups for Relationship Issues, Support, Self-Improvement, and Healthy Living (from the Gazette)

Most communities have support/self-help groups on various topics. These informal meetings can be invaluable resources and extensions of services that are provided by health and mental health professionals. This is also a way for interns to obtain their required clinical hours towards licensure…by facilitating these types of psycho-educational groups.

 

For a full list of upcoming health events visit www.gazettenet.com/living/health/

CODEPENDENCE — A Codependence Anonymous meeting for adults recovering from codependence and learning to develop healthy relationships meets every Sunday night, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Immanuel Lutheran Church, 867 N. Pleasant St., Amherst.