Articles/Self Help Tools

Have questions about your marriage or love relationship?  Here are some pointers that may help.

Carefronting Anger Part I

To keep the passion between you growing, you need to learn a new way to understand and handle anger. Letting your ego vent, nurse, or deny anger only causes more problems. These are solutions that have negative consequences. They hurt your relationship. There is another way to deal with negative emotions that will not leave either of you feeling unfairly attacked.

Soul mates carefront their anger. Carefronting means taking the hot emotion out of anger and seeing it as a natural part of a growing relationship, and not as a sign of rejection or failure.

Anger is a physical/emotional reaction. There is nothing about anger, in and of itself, that is bad, evil, or destructive. It's a feeling like any other-a particular response that moves through us at different times under different circumstances, much like hunger or fatigue. Unfortunately, because anger is so often mishandled, many people have been conditioned to think of it in negative ways.

If you look closely at how anger works, you will see that you typically don't separate the feeling part of anger from the issue that sparks it. The issue and the anger seem to happen together. But the two are really separate. One is an internal emotional reaction, and the other is some kind of external problem, disagreement, confusion, or clash of needs or opinions. The angry feeling comes up simultaneously with the situation, but the feeling is not actually a part of the situation.

The first step in carefronting is seeing this difference clearly. Usually, this difference, between the angry feelings and the issue generating them, goes un-noticed, because we're not paying attention to it. Our ego jumps in and mixes the two up. Once you see that the two are separate, you can begin to use your angry feelings as a warning signal that says, "Be careful; this is an issue that needs special attention."

Let's deal first with the feeling of anger. When you bring a "witnessing" attitude (being mindfully aware) to your feelings you notice right away when they start to move inside you. They don't catch you off guard and allow your ego to get involved before you have a chance to react. Witnessing gives you some time and some distance to adjust to the hot emotions that usually go along with anger. With this distance you will have more control, so you can see that angry feelings need not frighten or overwhelm you. Nor will you be ashamed or guilty for having those angry feelings. You never feel ashamed or guilty for feeling hungry or tired. It will be the same with anger.

When you stop labeling anger as bad in any of the above ways and begin to witness it without judgments, you will be on good terms with it. Witnessing enables you to keep your ego in check before it has a chance to make trouble. Now you can see angry feelings as soon as they begin to move inside you. Being friends with your angry feelings in this way helps you handle them comfortably and confidently, as they come up, sooner rather than later.

(to be continued)

Being a Good Sounding Board (The Art of Listening)

An essential skill in creating good communication in your relationship is listening for feelings. Two skills, self-disclosing and active listening, go together. Both are absolutely crucial in your efforts to remake your relationship. Being was a good listener means being able to shelve your ego and keep it from interfering. With the ego out of the picture you are not projecting your own feelings,
thoughts, or opinions into the conversation. You stay focused on listening for *your *partner's feelings, your effort is geared to understanding, not analyzing, interpreting, or editorializing. The end result is that you become a good sounding board for your partner
and let his/her feelings emerge.

Being a good sounding board means listening without allowing your ego to interject your own personal agenda into what you hear. This is how you create a safe space for the other to be in. Granting this space is a precious gift that enriches both parties. Your intention is to understand and empathize with your partner. You always want  to clarify, not criticize. By keeping your ego out of it you create a safe space, and then your partner, feels safe enough to open up.

While this kind of active, non-judgmental listening may sound simple, it’s not easy to do. For many couples it’s a struggle when one partner wants to share an issue or concern. That’s because most of us are not in the habit of suspending our ego opinions and conclusions about what we hear. Listening without judging, being quietly neutral, especially if it’s a topic we’re interested in, can be difficult.

Also, our ability to listen for feelings gets compromised by our need to fix things, to find solutions, or to rescue our partner from what we see as troublesome or painful emotions. And while these may be good intentions they get in the way by shifting the focus to our needs and the other ends up feeling neither heard nor understood.

Shifting Your Identity In Marriage

To create "in love" passion between you and your partner, shift your identity so that you're no longer thinking and acting primarily from your self-centered ego. This means making a correction to the inner notion of who you take yourself to be.

What is crucial to understand in making this change in perspective is that in the production called "your life" your ego is a minor character. But because you didn't know better, you've been giving it top billing. Now you're going to try something different. You're going to stop allowing your ego to have so much control, because you don't want to continue living in survival mode. You're going to shift your identity away from your ego, so that when you are with your partner it is your soul-mate self that is present.

This shift will have a dramatic impact on your relationship, because the personal traits that you need for an "in love" lasting intimacy come from the soul mate in you, not your ego. Caring, empathy, and personal integrity are soul-mate qualities, not ego qualities.

How do you make this shift in identity? By recognizing that most of the time you're on auto pilot, reacting to people and situations, primarily from habit. You are reactive rather than proactive. This automatic reactivity allows your ego to run your life and ruin your relationship. Once you see this clearly and refuse to turn away from it (keep in mind that your ego wants to avoid seeing it), you are in a position to do something different.

You begin to shift your identity by activating your soul-mate self. This requires becoming very conscious of and paying close attention to your thoughts and feelings as they move through you. Up until now, you haven't paid any attention to whether your thoughts are coming from your ego or your soul-mate self. Now you'll start watching more carefully what is playing on the screen of your mind. This watching is called witnessing.

Witnessing is observing, without making any judgments, the passing stream of thoughts and feelings as they move through you. The more you pay attention, through impartial witnessing, the more you'll notice how often the production is all about you; your self-image, your likes and dislikes, your worries, fears, and desires. You'll also see how often your reactive ego is attempting to have control over what you say and do next. You may also begin to notice how unhappy all of this makes you.

When witnessing helps you to recognize that your ego is working to grab the moment, "pull the plug" on it. Pulling the plug means cutting off the mental and emotional energy that feeds your ego. Ego-centered "me thinking" is almost always about the past or the future. Your ego is addicted to looking back and looking ahead. Shift your identity by pulling the plug on it, and come back to the present now moment. Get yourself involved with something or someone that needs your immediate attention. By doing this, you'll be shifting yourself out of your ego's latest self-created drama.

Sometimes pulling yourself out of a particular thought pattern can be more difficult than at other times. We all know that thoughts carry with them powerful emotions. Feelings of worry and anxiety, of guilt and anger, of envy and jealously, and of self-condemnation and not being good enough-these are all common experiences. These emotions can overwhelm us; when in their grip we feel as though we are helpless, drowning in a whirlpool of negativity.

But we also know that such feelings typically reach a peak and then begin to subside. At some point in this sequence your observing capacity returns. You get enough distance from the feelings to begin witnessing what has been passing through you. Now you have an opportunity to step back and redirect your awareness.

As witnessing helps you tune more clearly into your ego's voice, be skeptical of what it says and of what it wants you to do. Learn to pause for a moment; don't go with your first impulse or reaction. With this pause, you create a silent moment where your ego no longer has your exclusive attention. This silent moment is the opportunity to shift your identity and allow a different voice, your soul-mate voice to come through.

Breaking Free From Bad Boy Love

“Bad Boys” are men who act like delinquent teenagers. They lie, cheat and refuse to take responsibility for their behavior. Instead they blame others and sooth themselves with self-righteous hurt and anger. For bad boys an intimate relationship is just another place to have control and get their way. Without the control the relationship gets too “difficult” and they withdraw to look for the next victim.

Bad boy love is toxic and addictive. It’s toxic because it comes at the price of your dignity and self-esteem. It’s addictive because the horrible times are interspersed with good times. Researchers tell us this kind of intermittent reinforcement is the hardest to break. When the pain is interrupted by brief periods of pleasure it keeps you hooked. You’re always hoping that the next happy period is just around the corner. That’s why women typically don’t leave these toxic relationships, instead they get left. Nancy’s story is typical. She came for help after her four year relationship with Andy abruptly ended.

“I never saw it coming. He started saying he was unhappy and that all I did was complain but that’s not true. He did all the complaining, especially about me. I always felt like I was walking on eggshells, that any minute I was going to do or say something that would get him annoyed. He was very controlling, things had to be just so or he would get into a mood. And I always felt it was my fault.

To try and keep peace I started adjusting my moods to fit his. If he was moody I shut down also even if I was really feeling happy. When he was happy I was happy but not too happy because he always had to have the spotlight. So even during the good times I see now that I was never really myself. He liked it when I was in the background; I was there but on “mute.”

Why did I stay? He was handsome and could be very charming. I was physically very attracted to him. We both liked to travel and to ski and had a lot of fun. Our sex was very exciting but the more we fought it got less and less. I was never sure I could trust him completely because he found so much to criticize about me that it made me jealous of other women he showed attention to. The month before he left he started hiding his cell phone. It was never just lying around like it used to be.

It makes me think now that he must of been communicating with another woman. When I asked him about it he would get very defensive, accusing me of interrogating him unfairly. And then he left. He went on a business trip and from there fishing with a buddy and then to a hotel. It’s like I never existed and I feel like I was mugged and dumped on the side of the road.”

Women who repeatedly find themselves abused in dead-end relationships are often reliving a familiar childhood script. Parents may have been the first persons incapable of loving them fully. This can set-up a lifelong pattern of “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Bad boys fit right in here. They have little genuine love to offer on the one hand and seem (wrongly so) like a major conquest on the other (“he may have not loved others well but I’ll be the one that’s different.”)  Children often blame themselves for a father or mother’s inability to fully love them. A child may conclude they are unlovable and as an adult may operate with the (mostly unconscious) belief that “if I get someone to love me who is not capable of fully loving then I must be special . Getting someone to love me who is capable of loving does not count.” Hence the attraction to bad boys.

5 Ways To Break Free From Bad Boy Love

1. Find Something You Like To Do And Pursue It With Passion. It could be photography, making jewelry, community theatre, or volunteering at a local hospital or animal shelter. It doesn’t matter what it is, just do something just for yourself, something that has meaning for you. This will keep up your individuality and independence and be a hedge against falling into a smothering, codependent relationship.

2. Do Not Idealize Him Or The Relationship. It’s fine to acknowledge the good qualities and good times as long as you are willing to stare point blank at the bad qualities and bad times. Sometimes the truth does hurt and you’ll shy away from seeing it because it will lead to difficult choices. Idealizing is a sure formula for future pain. The truth might well set you free, but you’ll find out you can survive and be better for it.

3. Keep Your Good Friends Close And Confide In Them. Ask friends you trust what they see going on in your relationship. You will need an alternative point of view because bad boys are so convincing they can distort your perception. Doubting yourself is common when you are consistently diminished. Trust your intuition and instincts. When something doesn’t feel right pay attention to it.

4. Don’t Say Yes When You Mean No. This is how you give away your self-worth and integrity. These are precious jewels no partner should threaten or diminish. Ask for what you need. Don’t settle for crumbs. If your needs are not as important as his and you go along with it you are building your own prison.

5. Give up and get out. When the signs are clear that you are in a dead end abusive relationship get out. Do not make excuses. Do not waste more time trying to get blood from a stone. You are not damaged goods. Focus on present realities rather than awfulizing about how bad things will be in the future. Rally friends and family, make an exit plan and follow it step by step.

5 Warning Signs That You Need Couples Therapy NOW

Being happily married is not easy. Feeling in-love and strongly attracted to one another is not a sure path to a happy relationship. You and your partner are not clones, and that means you’ll have differences. Differences often lead to disappointment and frustration. And while this tension is common it presents you with a challenge: will you fight and argue over your differences or use them as opportunities to grow your relationship?

One of the best ways to reconcile personal differences, to use them as growth points for your and your partner is through couples therapy. Couples therapy helps you remove personal blind spots that get in the way of seeing yourself clearly. It coaches you in the art of listening without making judgements and placing blame. And it also helps you express frustration constructively so you don’t angrily act it out. These are crucially important skills that will transform your relationship.

Here are 5 warning signs that you need couples therapy NOW.

1. You keep having the same fights over and over again. This is a clear sign that you are not communicating well enough to solve your problems. Without good communication compromise is impossible, without compromise your problems pile like land mines ready to explode and repeatedly damage your relationship. Couples therapy helps you learn how to talk and listen to one another.

2. You’re too tired to have sex . Of course there are times when you and your partner are too physically exhausted to make love. But when this becomes a pattern something else is going on. Most likely you are emotionally drained because you are carrying a lot of unresolved anger that is a direct consequence of not solving problems as they come up. Letting your sexual relationship drift is risky because it opens the door for others to come in and fill the void. Couples therapy teaches you how to defuse anger in your relationship.

3. Your kids keep asking you if you’re getting divorced. As much as you and your partner make try to avoid facing your relationship problems your children tune right into it. They can sense the lack of closeness and tension between those they look to for safety and security. If they are calling your attention to the distance between you it has already grown to a dangerous level. Couples therapy is most effective when you get help as soon as possible.

4. You have stopped reaching out to make things better. Feeling hurt and rejected you are no longer making the extra effort to reach out and close the distance between you and your partner. It feels too risky to make the first move. Another set back, another rejection feels more than you can bare. Unfortunately your partner is probably feeling the same way and this begins a steady slide toward separating. Couples therapy can help you both cooperate together to reverse this process.

5. You think about having an affair a lot. Getting love, attention and affection from someone new suddenly seems like a reasonable solution to your relationship issues. This thought is a red flag,a signal that your unhappiness has reached a desperate level. Having an affair will double your troubles and could possibly be a deal breaker. Don’t take that chance. Use your desperation to call a marriage counselor and start working to repair your relationship.

6 Steps To Staying In Love Forever

Staying in love forever? Is that really possible? It certainly is although you would never know it given all the attention problem relationships receive. If you’re married or in a committed relationship in love feelings are what make that relationship unique. When partners promise to “love honor and cherish” one another they are in effect promising to stay “in love”. Without in love feelings you and your partner risk slipping more and more into a roommate arrangement where just living together and “getting along” replaces being in love.
Very few couples are happy with just being roommates. Often their disappointment and  unhappiness leads to bickering and boredom. Deep down they yearn for that most intimate of all human experiences: being in love and that means being fully known, deeply loved and profoundly valued.
What confuses many men and women is how to create , in their day to day interactions, the kind of feelings that made the beginning of their togetherness feel so fulfilling. The more complicated life gets the harder it seems to hold onto their best love.They need a guide, a roadmap that points out the behaviors and sensitivity that promote emotional and sexual closeness. This video is a shorthand version of our book Are You Roommates Or Soul Mates? and shows you how to create and maintain “in love” feelings on a daily basis by:

1. Expressing a special affectionate attention that fuels in love passion.

2. Using playing together as a strong aphrodisiac.

3. Replacing your same old conversation with a heart to heart dialogue.

4. Defusing conflict by carefronting your anger.

5. Giving one another unquestioned trust.

6.  Discovering the secret treasure hiding in plain sight.

After watching talk over with your partner how well your love encompasses the above pointers.

Are You Selfish?

6 Ways To Know
Healthy, happy relationships are based on caring, cooperation, and commitment.  Your partner and relationship must be a top priority for you. Being selfish, being overly concerned with just your needs, wants and feelings prevents you from holding up your end of a mutually satisfying relationship.
Many people don’t recognize when they’re being selfish because they operate inside a bubble of “me first” thoughts and beliefs.  Putting yourself  first becomes a habit, a taken for granted way of being. For example with friends and colleagues you look for opportunities to put yourself center stage.  You spend very little time listening because your focus is on pulling attention back to you. Eventually this way of being pushes others away from you. In your intimate relationship it creates hurt and resentment.
It’s important to see that being selfish is not the same as being hostile or mean spirited. Selfishness is not directed against others, it’s a misguided way of making yourself feel more adequate or worthy. Here are 6 ways to tell if you’re selfish:

1. You like being in control and find it difficult to compromise.

2. Giving and sharing does not come easily to you.

3. Putting your partner’s need first, before your own, is very difficult.

4. You hear criticism as personal attacks.

5. You become moody when others have the spotlight.

6. Forgiving others is difficult.

6. You become moody when others have the spotlight.

Remember there is no gene for selfishness; it’s a learned behavior. That means like any other bad habit it can be changed. Your relationships, intimate or otherwise, are the perfect place to practice changing.  Use the everyday interactions that go on in your relationship as opportunities to be less selfish. Make a conscious effort to shift your focus from “me first” to “us first.”

12 Ways To Know If Your Husband is Happily Married

We call it “dropping the bomb’ syndrome and it usually follows the same pattern: one partner believes their marriage is going along fine when the other suddenly announces it's over, finished, done period. It turns out that things were far from fine; there was a lot of denial going on, a lot of saying ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’ and a lot of unexpressed anger simmering just below the surface. When that simmer reaches a boil the bomb drops.

In most cases it’s husbands who make the unexpected announcement, leaving wives in shock, disbelief and then enraged at being left. The resulting collateral damage on children and family only the widens the circle of pain.

How can you know that your husband is really happily married? Is there a way to tell if your marriage is bomb proof? When he says ‘I love you’ can you believe it?

Here are 10 ways to know he’s happily married:

1. He feels that you notice and appreciate him and do not take him for granted. In survey after survey men consistently identify feeling appreciated as a prime measure of how happily married they are.

2. He knows he can be himself and confide in you without being judged or criticized. This kind of self-disclosing communication is crucially important because it builds trust and commitment.

3. He sees that you desire him and enthusiastically express it sexually. No matter how much a man enjoys sex it’s a turnoff to feel he’s the only one interested.

4. He likes how he feels about himself when he is with you. Your affectionate attention, outside the bedroom , ( compliments, praise, hugs, warm touches, saying “ I love you”, little gestures of caring that you know he enjoys) makes him feel good about himself and endears you to him.

5. He knows you love and accept him for who he is but also knows you will not tolerate bad behavior on his part. He knows your love is real and respects it because he sees it’s not based on submissive compliance.

6. He likes that you need him but that you are not ‘needy.’ Being interdependent, relying on one another is part of a healthy relationship, being “needy” ( overly dependent ) creates control and the desire to flee from it.

7. He likes that you care about looking attractive in your own personal way. He doesn’t expect you to look like a hollywood starlet but seeing that you care about your appearance makes him feel you value yourself and the relationship.

8. He feels respected and admired by you. There cannot be love without respect. Feeling admired by the one you love enhances self-esteem; it renews both sexual and emotional passion between you.

9. He never feels belittled or humiliated when you are angry at him. When you are angry and don’t resort to personal attacks you make it safe for him to not be defensive and more open to hearing your upset.

10. He sees that you can let go of the past. You do not hold grudges, keep score or consistently feel victimized by life. This makes your marriage flexible rather than rigid, exciting rather than dull and open for a future of growing together.

11. He knows that for you he is a top priority. He is comfortable taking a backseat to all you do and take care of because he’s confident that when he seriously needs you you’ll be there 100%.

12. He appreciates that you are kind and welcoming to his family. No one gets to choose their family and many have problems; when you make a genuine effort to accept his he feels respected and valued by you.

5 Kinds Of Trust Your Marriage Needs

A happy marriage rests on a foundation of unquestioned trust. If you want your marriage/relationship to be all it can be you must know how to create this kind of trust. Most couples think of trust exclusively in terms of being sexually faithful. Being faithful is essential but it’s not the whole trust picture.

Our research into strong healthy marriages revealed 5 specific kinds of trust husbands and wives gave one another. Go over the following list and check which kind of trust you bring or do not bring to your relationship. Ask your partner to do the same and share your results. This is an excellent way to clarify where your trust is solid or where it may need work.

Here are the 5 dimensions of unquestioned trust:

1. Trust that you will be sexually faithful. Without sexual fidelity marriage becomes unworkable. Partners can recover from an affair but need professional help to do it. Keep your commitment to be sexually faithful. If you’re unhappy in your marriage get counseling not a part-time lover.

2. Trust that you will not harm,reject or control one another. Trust thrives in an atmosphere of safety and security. Hurting one another (physically or verbally) and rejecting one another creates fear which undermines trust. With control comes mistrust. Make sure your love is not filled with a lot of possessive clinging which pushes your partner away.

3. Trust that you love one another without ulterior motives. You (and your partner) need to feel sure you are loved for yourself and not some ulterior motive ie; your looks, your money or your family or because your partner (or you) needs a housekeeper, someone to feel superior to or be a buffer against being alone and lonely.

4. Trust that you will not abandon one another in the face of anger, conflict and disagreements. Anger, conflict and disagreements are inevitable. Make it safe for the careful expression of anger and for disagreements to happen without raising a fear of abandonment. You do this by never using the threat of divorce against your partner.

5. Trust that you will keep each other and your marriage a top priority. Partners trust that they mean it when they promise to love, honor and cherish one another. When you take each other for granted, neglect your relationship and consistently give too much time and energy to other things and people you break that trust. Remember every day what is really important in your life. Keep your priorities clear. Make your partner and your marriage your top #1 priority.

10 Ways To Tell If Your Marriage Is Heading For Divorce

Despite divorce being so common many couples are caught off guard when it happens to them. They believe if they start off loving one another then everything will turn out okay.

This myth lulls them into missing warning signs that their relationship is in trouble. Here are 10 ways to tell if your marriage is heading for divorce.

1. Sex is consistently boring and mechanical. Research says a satisfying sex life is vital to health and well-being. Long term frustration of this basic human need can signal the end of a marriage.

2. Many problems, few solutions. The inability to compromise and find workable solutions to common relationship issues turns partners into bitter adversaries.

3. Character assassination. Name calling, insults, belittling put-downs and personal attacks aimed at humiliating and embarrassing a spouse are a sure path to divorce.

4. Divorce by anger. Accumulated anger kills love! If you don’t know how to handle anger and it piles up like a mountain in your relationship divorce is inevitable.

5. Cheating. Most marriages survive (with a lot of professional help) when a partner cheats once. Repeated affairs cause so much pain divorce is a sought after relief.

6. Selfishness. Marriage is about sharing and caring, about making your partner’s needs a top priority. Self-centered husbands or wives have partners who feel ignored and neglected and eventually want out at all costs.

7. Needing to be right. When your partner’s always right you're always wrong and that feels suffocating. Not having a voice that’s heard and respected turns marriage into a dictatorship. Divorce and the freedom that goes with it become irresistible.

8. The kiss is gone. When you would rather have sex than passionately kiss, your marriage is in deep trouble.

9. The conversation is over. How do you get happily through marriage? You talk your way through it. This means sharing thoughts and feelings so that you’re emotionally in sync. You feel understood and connected. Without this bond marriage is an empty, lonely place partners want to leave.

10. Money, either too little or too much. When both partners need to work and one earns significantly more than the other (especially if it’s the wife) control issues can sabotage a marriage. Too much extra cash, when partners are not careful, can fuel a “party on” life style that invites temptations damaging to marriage and the lasting values that remind us of what’s really important in life.

9 Steps To Ease The Pain Of Divorce

Social researchers have told us that death of a spouse and divorce are two of the most stressful life events humans have to endure. In fact, if you are the person being left divorce can feel just like a death and knowing how to best mourn the loss is essential.

Here are 8 steps to ease the pain of divorce:

1. Don’t censor your feelings. Divorce is felt emotionally as a loss and that loss has to be fully experienced. Feeling hopeless, afraid and vulnerable are common, so are feelings of anger, rage and self-loathing. You might feel sure that you will not be able to survive what is about to happen to you. These are familiar reactions to the trauma of divorce. Feel all your feelings fully. They will run their course if you don’t push them down inside you. Remember, feeling feelings is not the same as acting on them. It’s a good idea to write down angry feelings in a letter and then put it safely away in a desk draw. Acting out angry feelings in destructive ways is never acceptable and only brings more pain into your life.

2. See your doctor. You may need a mild tranquilizer to get you through the immediate pain so you can continue to meet family and/or work responsibilities. The strong feelings you’ll be experiencing are draining emotionally and physically. Do not allow your health to suffer at a time when you need to be thinking clearly. Temporary medication can help you sleep restfully rather than tossing and turning and waking up exhausted.

3. Be careful not to idealize your marriage or your partner. Divorce is a stark indication that your marriage and/or partner had serious problems. Watch your tendency to look back and only see the best times and only remember the good things about your former partner. Force yourself to be more objective. Make a list of the ways your marriage and your partner hurt and disappointed you. Reread it often.

4. Welcome the support of friends and family. Life traumas are made more tolerable by the warmth and encouragement of those who truly care about you. Do not shut them out because you are feeling self-consciously bereft. Love indeed is the best medicine; seek out people you can count on to ease your pain even if the relief is temporary at first.

5. Don’t give in to self blame. Blaming yourself for a relationship ending is simply giving yourself too much power. You could not have done it alone. You are only entitled to half the responsibility. Believing you could have saved things if you had been different in some way (more sexy, kept a better house, made more money or spent less time with family or friends or worked less or argued less etc.) is wishful thinking. Relationships are never this simple. Whenever you start blaming yourself and feeling guilty ask yourself what your partner might have done differently to make the relationship work better. Again, make a list of the ways your partner did not come through for you and your marriage.

6. Don’t awfulize, deal with the present not the future. Watch for your tendency to project all your fears, doubts and insecurities into the future and make yourself more scared and depressed. Thoughts like “I’ll never get over this,” “I’ll never be happy again,” “I can’t go on alone,” “I’ll never meet anyone else,” come up whenever you look ahead from a fearful, insecure state of mind. This is called awfulizing. It weakens you. When these thoughts come up let them pass through you like a cold chill, do not dwell on or cling to them. Get busy in the present moment doing something that needs to be done for yourself or another who needs your attention.

7. Get good legal advice. Finding a competent matrimonial attorney will be one of the first tasks you will have to focus on. Take it seriously. If you need to, get someone to help you with this. It will get you out of your head and into the reality of your situation. Ask family and friends for referrals, gather attorney information, have all your personal and financial information ready. This is good practice for taking care of yourself and moving positively forward.

8. Remember, under stress we regress. Be careful not to regress back to old self-destructive or sabotaging behaviors. With all your strength stay adult. Take good care of yourself so you can be there for those who need you. Do not take on any new or additional projects at this time which might add more stress. Find ways to relax, and to welcome whenever and wherever possible new healthy ways

to bring some joy into your life.

9. Reassessment and renewal. Don’t allow being divorced to define who you are. Do not make getting divorced a life project, a way to get revenge or to feel superior. Just reasonably protect your interests and move on. This is a time for reassessment and renewal. When you feel ready find some interest you are passionate about and pursue it to wherever it leads you. It doesn’t matter what it is, volunteering in an animal clinic, taking up golf or gardening or starting a new business. What matters is the care you put into it and the people it brings you in contact with.

5 Ways A Vacation Can Strengthen Your Relationship

Studies of work patterns show that Americans work much more than our European counterparts. And work stresses that are brought home can cause relationship problems. But can going on a vacation really strengthen your relationship? The answer is yes for for the following reasons:

1. Vacations positively change your mindset. Changing your physical environment and daily routine can greatly influence how you think and feel about yourself, your partner and the world around you. For example second home owners report a felt shift in consciousness when arriving at their “get away” place. They say they feel calmer,more centered and connected to an inner peacefulness that improves how they get along.

The same is true for couples on vacation. They are less defensive, more open,relaxed and connected. Experiencing this connection on vacation makes it easier to hold onto it back home.

2. Vacations highlight the “us” factor. What is it that most couples crave? More free time and along with that more undivided attention devoted to one another. Vacations are where partners can focus exclusively on one another’s needs. In a special place, during a special time you have the opportunity to give each other the kind of up-close attention that creates true intimacy. Vacations are where couples can nurture one another emotionally, sexually, intellectually and spiritually.

3.Vacations encourage playing together. One of the factors that explains why couples go from being “in love” soul mates to bickering roommates is benign neglect. They take one another and their relationship for granted. The same old, same old becomes so entrenched that even playing together falls to the bottom of their to do list.

Vacations are all about playing together. Suddenly what has been neglected gets brushed off and placed center stage. Playing and having fun together takes us away from problems, pressures and responsibilities. Our mood and spirit lighten and we’re more likely to see what most attracted us to one another in the beginning. That’s why playing together is a strong aphrodisiac.

4. Vacations reinforce family bonds. If you are married with children vacations can create a host of logistical issues to solve. Keeping everyone happy can also be a challenge. That said, family vacations can strengthen a relationship because they remind partners of what is truly important in their lives. Material possessions come and go and so do most worries and problems. What endures are close, caring relationships. Most adults clearly remember their childhood family vacations as wonderful adventures where they felt safe and loved. Celebrating a family vacation reminds partners how centrally important their relationship is; it can be a wakeup call to get back to treating one another as precious.

5. Vacations help relationships grow. In strong healthy relationships partners feel that they and their relationship are growing. Vacations that introduce us to new countries and cultures, that stretch our minds and/or challenge us physically expand our sense of self in constructive ways. Sharing this kind of personal growth enriches the experience, bonding us closer together.

When To Call It Quits: Fatal Signs Of A Marriage In Jeopardy

How To Know If You've Found "The One"

"Love Habits make 'em, don't break 'em. "

Mark and Ellen

Mark and Ellen have been married for fourteen years and have a ten-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter Lucy who has severe learning difficulties. Mark feels that Ellen pampers Lucy, doing too many things for her, and not encouraging her to be more independent. Ellen says that she feels constantly criticized by Mark, and that he has an unrealistic view of Lucy's capabilities. This difference fuels a running battle between them that has their sex life on hold.

Ellen: In the beginning sex was a strong part of our relationship, because we were very compatible that way. But it's been on a steady decline over the last two years. The fighting and not getting along makes it hard to feel sexy, but that's not all of it. I know Mark watches a lot of pornography on the net, and I feel resentful about it. I'm not a prude, but it's hard to take when I'm in bed, and I know he's downstairs watching God knows what. It's not fair, and just adds to the resentment already there.

Mark: I knew the porn issue would come up, and I don't deny it. I think Ellen is making too much of it. I don't consider myself addicted to it, but it has become part of my routine to get through the week. Elle comes from a family where fighting was always going on, so it's no big deal to her. But I'm not that quick to get over a fight. She can yell and scream, and an hour later it's like it never happened. Things stay with me longer. I don't do it intentionally. I'm just not so good at letting things roll of my back. I'd rather be alone for a while, and that's where the porn comes in.

Mark and Ellen illuminate an important fact that can be generalized to fit many couples. Most of the sexual problems couples bring to therapy are not sexual in nature at all. They are relationship problems being played out and presented in the sexual arena. The majority of couples who now say they have "sexual problems" will clearly state, when asked, that their love making was problem free and fully enjoyable at an earlier time in their relationship. This underscores that fact that if you take care of one another outside the bedroom you will be happy inside the bedroom.

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