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Parental Conflict Can Cause Lasting Emotional Damage to Kids

SOURCE:  Traci Pedersen/PsychCentral

Children who regularly witness parental conflict may be sustaining lasting harm to their emotional processing abilities, potentially becoming overvigilant, anxious and vulnerable to misreading even neutral human interactions, according to a new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

The findings are particularly strong for children who are naturally shy and sensitive.

“The message is clear: even low-level adversity like parental conflict isn’t good for kids,” said Dr. Alice Schermerhorn, an assistant professor in the University of Vermont’s Department of Psychological Sciences and the lead author of the study.

In the study, 99 children (aged 9 to 11) were divided into two groups based on their scores from psychological tests which assessed how much parental conflict they experienced and how much they felt the conflict threatened their parents’ marriage.

Next, the children looked at a series of photographs of couples engaged in happy, angry or neutral interactions and asked to choose which category the photos fit.

Most of the children from the low-conflict homes consistently scored the photos accurately. However, children from high-conflict homes were only able to accurately identify the happy and angry couples, not those in neutral poses. These children would incorrectly perceive the neutral photos as either angry or happy, or they would say they didn’t know which category they fit into.

According to the researchers. one possible reason for the inability of those in the high-conflict group to evaluate the neutral photos could be hypervigilance. “If their perception of conflict and threat leads children to be vigilant for signs of trouble, that could lead them to interpret neutral expressions as angry ones or may simply present greater processing challenges,” said Schermerhorn.

Alternatively, it could be that neutral parental interactions may be less significant for children who feel threatened by their parents’ conflict.

“They may be more tuned into angry interactions, which could be a cue for them to retreat to their room, or happy ones, which could signal that their parents are available to them,” she said. “Neutral interactions don’t offer much information, so they may not value them or learn to recognize them.”

The study also reveals the impact of shyness on the children’s ability to process and recognize emotion. The shy children in the study, who were identified via a questionnaire completed by the subjects’ mothers, were unable to correctly identify couples in neutral poses, even if they were not from high-conflict homes.

Shyness made them more vulnerable to parental conflict. Children who were both shy and who also felt threatened by their parents’ conflict were unable to perceive photos of neutral interactions as simply neutral.

“Parents of shy children need to be especially thoughtful about how they express conflict,” Schermerhorn said.

The findings have significant implications, according to Schermerhorn, because they shed light on the impact relatively low-level adversity like parental conflict can have on children’s development. Either of her interpretations for the findings —hypervigilance or not being able to read neutral interactions — could mean trouble for children down the road.

“One the one hand, being overvigilant and anxious can be destabilizing in many different ways,” she said. “On the other, correctly reading neutral interactions may not be important for children who live in high conflict homes, but that gap in their perceptual inventory could be damaging in subsequent experiences with, for example, teachers, peers, and partners in romantic relationships.”

“No one can eliminate conflict altogether,” said Schermerhorn, “but helping children get the message that, even when they argue, parents care about each other and can work things out is important.”

Source: University of Vermont

 

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Brain Health: It’s Essential To Everything You Do

SOURCE: American Association of Christian Counselors [AACC]

Your brain is an essential part of everything you do… without our brains, we could not function! Yet, when we think about keeping our bodies healthy, we rarely consider brain health. Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced, high-stress world, we rarely stop to think about what we truly need to do to keep our brains healthy. Ask yourself these brain-health questions:

  1. Do I get enough sleep?
  2. Do I discipline myself to live by healthy eating habits?
  3. Do I exercise at least twice a week?
  4. Do I seek to challenge my brain by learning new things?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, it’s time to start thinking about your brain health! The decisions we make today will impact our brain health for the rest of our lives. Because of the brain’s remarkable neuroplasticity, it’s not too late to start making positive changes… and once you do, you can help others implement healthy brain habits as well! Let’s start a brain health revolution!

BRAIN HEALTH STATISTICS
Alzheimer’s

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in U.S. adults.
  • Out of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S., Alzheimer’s disease is the only one that cannot be prevented, slowed, or cured.
  • 10% of adults over 65 and 32% of adults over 85 have Alzheimer’s dementia.
(Alzheimer’s Association. 2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Alzheimer’s Dement 2017; 13:325-373)

Mental Illness

  • 44.7 million people in the U.S. live with a mental illness (approximately 18.3%).
  • 49.5% of adolescents in the U.S. live with a mental disorder.
(National Institute of Mental Health. 2017. Mental Illness Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml#part_154788)

Parkinson’s Disease

  • One million people in the U.S. live with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Parkinson’s disease affects 1.5 times more men than women.
(Parkinson’s Foundation, (n.d.). Statistics. Retrieved from http://parkinson.org/Understanding-Parkinsons/Causes-and-Statistics/Statistics)

Mood Disorders

  • At some point in their lives, approximately 21.4% of U.S. adults will experience a mood disorder.
  • 14.3% of adolescents will experience a mood disorder during their adolescent years.
(National Institute of Mental Health, n.d. Mood Disorder Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-mood-disorder.shtml)

BRAIN HEALTH RESEARCH
Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association offers 10 ways to love your brain:

  1. Exercise
  2. Don’t Stop Learning
  3. Stop Smoking
  4. Keep Your Heart Healthy
  5. Wear Your Helmet
  6. Eat Right
  7. Get Enough Sleep
  8. Stay Mentally Healthy
  9. Find Social Support
  10. Challenge Your Mind

Harvard Medical School
A study done by Harvard Medical School found that adults who maintained a healthy lifestyle with healthy habits had a reduced risk of cognitive decline. These habits included exercise, eating right, socializing, getting more sleep, managing stress, ceasing to smoke, and treating underlying health conditions.

QUOTES

  • “A healthy body is a guest-chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison.” – Francis Bacon, English philsopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, and author
  • “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
  • “There is no scientific study more vital to man than the study of his own brain. Our entire view of the universe depends on it.” – Francis Crick, British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist
  • “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin, leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat
  • “In a disordered mind, as in a disordered body, soundness of health is impossible.” – Cicero, Roman politician and lawyer
  • “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” – Irish Proverb
  • “A sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ.” – John Steinbeck, American author and 1962 Nobel Prize receipient in Literature
  • “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor of his own brain.” – Cajal, Spanish neuroscientist and pathologist
  • “Your brain controls everything you do, feel, and think.” – Daniel Amen, physician, best-selling author, television personality
  • “Your brain is the hardware of your soul.” – Daniel Amen, physician, best-selling author, television personality
  • “God hates sin like doctors hate disease. Doctors hate polio. But, doctors love patients with polio.” – Timothy Jennings, speaker, author, Christian psychiatrist, and certified psychopharmacologist
  • “We aren’t just thrown on this earth like dice tossed across a table. We are lovingly placed here for a purpose.” – Charles Swindoll, evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher
  • “The converted person begins exercising self-governance and restraint and avoidance of previous destructive behaviors.” – Timothy Jennings, speaker, author, Christian psychiatrist, and certified master pyschopharmacologist
  • “Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.” – Edward Smith-Stanley

SCRIPTURE

  • “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
  • “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8
  • “The steadfast of mind you will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3
  • “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every through captive to the obedience of Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5
  • “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2
  • “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
  • “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:14
  • “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

10 Strategies For Responding Effectively To Criticism

SOURCE:   Rachel Fintzy, MA, LMFT/PsychCentral

It’s generally not fun to be at the receiving end of criticism. Also, there’s no doubt that some criticism is mean-spirited, hostile, and not really meant to be helpful. However, often we can learn a lot from constructive criticism. The challenge is to resist becoming defensive, which reduces our chances of actually learning something from the situation.

Some tips for receiving critical feedback in effective ways:

  1. Respond calmly. Resist the impulse to jump in and begin defending yourself with an angry tone. Instead, take a few deep, slow breaths. Don’t talk over the other person, although this can be extremely difficult. When we feel cornered, which often happens if we perceive the other person to be attacking us, we can go into lashing-out mode. Instead, try to speak with measured and respectful tones, at a relatively slow pace. Try to keep bitterness out of your tone.
  2. Manage your anxiety. Watch your inner dialogue. What are you telling yourself about what the other person is saying? Are you lambasting yourself for “horrible” behavior? Are you catastrophizing, believing that all is lost concerning the professional or personal relationship? Or can you mentally and emotionally step back just a bit and reassure yourself that the other person probably (more on this below) has the best interests of your relationship (be it personal or professional) at heart?
  3. Determine whether the criticism is constructive in nature. This sort of helpful criticism generally contains specific and productive suggestions for change, and refrains from making global statements such as “you never” or “you always”. Constructive criticism often comes in a “sandwich” format, meaning that the initial statement consists of a positive comment, followed by the critical note, and concludes with another positive or encouraging sentence.
  4. Consider the source. Is the other person generally positive? Or are they mostly critical of others and tend to complain and push blame onto other people rather than focusing on possible solutions? If it appears to you that the other person is more of the “pointing-a-finger”, angry, and/or narcissistic type, try not to take their words personally. However, you could still look for a potential grain of truth in what they say. For instance, if they state, “You always make things more difficult than they have to be”, consider if in at least one instance you might have done so. You could respond with, “Yes, I wasn’t adequately prepared for our meeting last week and took more time than usual to explain our project’s status”. Or, if you can’t think of such an example, you could respectfully ask them to provide you with one, so you can understand their criticism more clearly.
  5. If you’ve decided that the criticism is constructive and that the other person has good intentions, try to lower your guard (again, easier said than done). Try to keep in mind that the feedback is meant to improve the situation and pave the way for better times to come.
  6. Try not to defend yourself and make excuses. Certainly you’ll want to offer an explanation if you’ve been accused of something you did not do. However, even in this case it helps to hear the other person out first, before asking if you could offer your perspective. People like to feel heard, and your accusing party is no exception.
  7. Make a plan for addressing the criticism. For example, if you’ve been told that your latest report contained a number of grammatical and numerical errors, state that you will spend more time reviewing your work, and possibly run it by a colleague, if appropriate, before turning it in. You could add that you welcome further feedback.
  8. Thank the other person for their feedback, especially they’re also being kind. It’s not easy to give constructive criticism, due to the potential of the receiving party feeling hurt, demoralized, or angry. Put yourself in their shoes. Showing appreciation to them can go a long way in contributing to a congenial and cooperative atmosphere, whether further helpful discussion can take place, now and in the future.
  9. Feedback can be a gift. Most of the time there is something to learn from the situation and to therefore be grateful for. Have you previously received similar feedback? How can you use this information to improve your performance at work, enhance your relationships, grow as a person, or all three?
  10. Don’t be too hard on yourself. None of us is perfect. None of us is a mistake. When someone points out areas in which you could use some more training, where you could be a bit more diligent or detail-oriented, or more aware of other people’s feelings, this is not an attack on your character as a whole.

Finally, stay confident. You have many strengths, and a thoughtful person would point these out as well. However, even if they don’t, try to remember your strong points and thus counter all-or-nothing thinking about your value as a person.

5 Ways to Make Small Gestures Count in Your Marriage

SOURCE:  Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW/The Gottman Institute

One of the things that Jake appreciates about Kristin is her way of showing love through her actions. Jake puts it like this: “When I come home after a long day and Kristin is there, she usually gives me a hug and wants to know how my day went.”

According to a new study by researchers at Penn State University, you don’t need grand gestures to show your partner love. In fact, this team found that small gestures, such as hugging, holding hands, and regular acts of kindness all top the list of how most Americans report feeling loved and appreciated.

Kristin explains: “It’s the everyday moments that matter. Jake and I have found that little things make a difference. When I forgot to pay my cell phone bill, Jake noticed it lying on the counter unopened and quickly called in the payment so it wouldn’t be late.”

Look for ways to show love with small gestures

In The All Or Nothing Marriage, psychologist Dr. Eli J. Finkel explains that many easy actions, or “lovehacks,” aimed at improving your relationship can be done in five minutes or less. For instance, you can write your partner an endearing and charming love note, hold their hand, or give them a hug. Think of fun and special places to leave love notes.

Create daily rituals of connection

Dr. John Gottman recommends spending at 15-20 minutes daily having a stress-reducing conversation with your partner. Examine the schedules of family members and determine when there is a dependable time you are both available. Consider enjoying a daily walk together or unplugging and talking about your day over a cup of your favorite beverage.

You can create other rituals of connection, too, such as a six-second kiss (which Dr. Gottman calls “a kiss with potential”) before leaving the house or when coming home, or making sure to text each other throughout the day with positive, loving messages to help you both feel connected.

Make a habit out of using kind and polite words such as please, sorry, and thank you

Would you rather go to bed resentful, or would you prefer cuddling with your partner after repairing an argument? Studies suggest that couples who apologize when they’ve hurt their partner’s feelings (even if done so accidentally) and grant forgiveness have a more successful marriage. Apologizing and taking responsibility is an antidote to defensiveness, which is one of four negative behaviors that Dr. Gottman proved to consistently lower the quality of a relationship. And when you can make repair attempts, like apologizing after an argument, it helps to decrease tension and make you feel more connected to your partner.

Take action and offer support to your partner

This can include helping them complete tasks, run an errand, or finish a project. These positive actions lead to interdependence. As you coordinate your plans with your partner, you create a sense of purpose and shared meaning in your marriage. Creating a larger context of meaning in life can help couples to avoid focusing only on the little stuff that happens and to keep their eyes on the big picture.

In The Relationship CureDr. John Gottman explains that the small, intentional moments of kindness and connection have more power than isolated, excessive gestures when it comes to creating and sustaining lasting love. Therapist Liz Higgins, LMFTA, informs us that Dr. Gottman’s motto is “small things often,” which includes turning towards your partner as much as possible to create a 5:1 ratio of positive interactions to negative interactions.

That doesn’t mean that it’s not important to celebrate big events such as anniversaries and birthdays with more grand gestures of love and romance, but just don’t forget to offer little, daily kindnesses to your partner, which are the most important gestures of connection.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The Penn State University research team discovered that actions speak louder than words. “We found that behavioral actions—rather than purely verbal expressions—triggered more consensus as indicators of love. For example, more people agreed that a child snuggling with them was more loving than someone simply saying, ‘I love you,’” Heshmati said. “You might think they would score on the same level, but people were more in agreement about loving actions, where there’s more authenticity perhaps, instead of a person just saying something.”

Kristin reflects: “I never realized the importance of doing simple things to make Jake feel loved until he pointed it out. Growing up, my family wasn’t very affectionate but Jake lets me know how much a kiss on the lips and an embrace means to him.”

It would be easy for Kristin and Jake to neglect each other’s needs since they have two school-age children. Their sons both have demanding after school activities and play soccer on the weekends. However, Kristin and Jake embrace the notion that in order for their marriage to thrive, they need to pay attention to each other on a regular basis and intentionally turn towards each other’s bids for connection.

Jake speaks: “Kristin loves and appreciates me. Since we have kids, we make sure to go out for dinner at least once or twice a month by ourselves. We also show our love by the small things we do for each other like sending each other a loving text message during the day.”

In order to feel alive in your marriage, you need to put effort into spending quality time together—with an emphasis on giving small gestures of love. Responding positively to your partner’s overtures for connection will help you bring out the best in one another and keep your marriage fulfilling. Give your partner the gift of love and appreciation in small ways every day!

11 Brutal Truths About Emotions That You Really Need to Hear

SOURCE:  Justin Bariso

Make emotions work for you. Instead of against you.

Since it was first introduced decades ago, the concept of emotional intelligence has been heralded by many as the secret, intangible key to success. But as this concept has increased in popularity, it’s also become widely misunderstood.

So, what is emotional intelligence exactly?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a person’s ability to identify emotions (in both themselves and others), to recognize the powerful effects of those emotions, and to use that information to inform and guide behavior. Practicing EI can help you reach your goals and make you more persuasive.

So, here are 11 tips brutal truths about emotions that will instantly increase your EQ:

1. Emotional intelligence begins when you ask the right questions.

Asking the right questions gives you valuable insight into the role emotions play in everyday life.

For example, if you’re frustrated at work, you might ask:

  • Where is the underlying problem? Is it an assignment, a colleague, a situation?
  • Do I have any control over this? What can I change, and what can’t I?

You can find a list of more thoughtful questions here. Get familiar with them, and you’ll start to be more proactive, and less reactive.

2. You can’t control your feelings. But you can control the reactions to your feelings.

Since emotions involve your natural, instinctive feelings and are influenced by brain chemistry, you can’t always control how you feel.

But you can control how you act upon those feelings.

For example, let’s say you have an anger management problem. The first step is to increase awareness of how anger affects you. Then, you need to develop an appropriate method for responding to that feeling–by focusing on your thoughts and actions.

All of this won’t take your anger away. But it can keep you from actions that will hurt yourself and others.

3. Others see you much differently than you see yourself.

This isn’t about right or wrong; it’s simply understanding how perceptions differ, and the consequences those differences create. But for many, all of this goes unnoticed.

By asking those close to us–like a significant other or close friend or workmate–about our interactions with them and others, we can learn from their perspective.

4. Empathy can greatly increase the value of your work.

The ability to relate to another person’s feelings goes a long way in building and fostering great relationships.

But learning to see things from another person’s perspective yields immediate, everyday benefits as well–like making you a better writer, presenter, trainer and manager. (More here on the practical benefits of empathy.)

5. It’s all about the long game.

Science has shown that changing deeply-ingrained behaviors and habits requires repeated effort and substantial commitment.

How can you do so? Here are seven methods that you can begin practicing today.

These methods aren’t easy to apply. But with dedication and hard work, they’ll help shape the way you experience even the most powerful emotions.

6. Criticism is a gift.

Nobody’s right all the time; that’s why criticism can help us to grow. Unfortunately, emotions often prevent us from taking advantage of negative feedback.

Instead of wasting time and energy rating how ideally criticism was delivered, ask yourself:

  • How can I use this feedback to help me or my team improve?
  • Putting my personal feelings aside, what can I learn from this alternate perspective?

Even if negative feedback is unfounded, it can still give you a valuable window into other perspectives.

Of course, not everyone has this ability. That’s why…

7. It’s vital to gain trust before delivering negative feedback.

Humans all share certain emotional needs, like a general craving for sincere acknowledgement and praise. Recognizing that, good leaders first focus on the positive (and potential) in his or her team. Additionally, by getting to know your team, their challenges, and their way of working, not only will you begin to see things from their perspective, you’ll begin to earn their trust.

Negative feedback can be difficult to swallow. But if your team is confident that you’ve got their backs, they’ll appreciate your efforts to make them better.

8. Remember that “negative” emotions can be just as beneficial as “positive” ones.

When we’re happy, the coffee tastes better, the birds sound sweeter…and there’s no challenge too great to handle.

But “negative” emotions (like anger, sadness, or fear) can give you the impetus to dig deep, learn more about yourself, and develop a strategy to make things better. (More on that here.)

9. Raising your EQ isn’t all fun and games. But it can be…sometimes.

Researchers have found that some of our favorite recreational activities can produce an increase in emotional intelligence. For example, watching films, listening to music and reading in the right way can actually help you understand and practice empathy for others.

10. EQ and EI aren’t the same thing.

Nowadays, many use EQ (Emotional Quotient) and EI (Emotional Intelligence) interchangeably. But that’s a mistake.

EQ is useful as shorthand to refer to a person’s knowledge of emotions and how they work. It can be adopted liberally: Just as we speak of athletes having a high basketball or football IQ, an allusion to one’s EQ is easily understood.

But by definition, emotional intelligence is a practical ability. And while a person may comprehend the principles of how emotions work in real life, application of that knowledge is another story. (This is the foundation of my forthcoming book, EQ, Applied, which explains how emotional intelligence works in the real world.)

11. Emotional Intelligence can be used for evil.

It’s important to know that, like any ability, emotional intelligence can be used both ethically and unethically. Every day, certain politicians, colleagues, and even supposed friends use emotions to manipulate others.

Of course, this is just one more reason why you should work at raising your own EI, to protect yourself.

Because in the end, that’s what emotional intelligence is all about: making emotions work for you, instead of against you.

7 Things to Remember About Sex

SOURCE:  Family Life Ministry/Bob Lepine

Your spouse approaches intimacy much differently than you.

It’s no surprise that many husbands and wives think differently about sex. And these differences can easily become a source of conflict in marriage.

With that in mind, I want to suggest seven things men need to remember about sex and seven things wives need to keep in mind as well:

What husbands should remember about sex

1. Hollywood sex is made up. It’s a fantasy. The people in romantic scenes in movies are actors. Don’t try to measure your marital sex against what you see in a romantic film.

2. Sex is probably (but not necessarily) a lower priority for your wife than it is for you. Are you as committed to meeting her needs and desires as you’d like her to be with your desire for sex? Could you even name her top three relationship needs? Here is one of them …

3. Your wife needs a safe and secure relationship. In order for her to engage in sex with heart and mind and body, she needs to know that you will be there for her, that you are committed to her, and that she is your one and only.

4. Your wife wants to have sex with a companion, not with someone who simply shares her mailing address. If you’re not spending time having fun together in all kinds of settings, she’s going to be less motivated to be with you sexually.

5. You don’t need to have an affair to be an unfaithful husband. Whether you look at pornography or at other women, the Bible makes it clear that any lust for a woman who is not your wife is adultery.

6. There is no secret formula to arousal. If you think you have found a secret formula, and you attempt to repeat the recipe, your wife will change the secret. Women don’t want to be figured out. They also don’t want to be manipulated.

7. Your wife is insecure about her physical beauty. She sees all the flaws. Watch what you say to her.

What wives should remember about sex

1. Sex is God’s idea. He created it and gave it as a good gift to husbands and wives in marriage. It is a key part of His plan for how we become one in marriage.

2. For most men, sex is a big deal—and it’s not because men are perverted or ungodly. God delights when a husband and wife enjoy marital intimacy.

3. How you respond to your husband when he initiates sex is critical. To be uninterested can communicate a lack of respect and honor for him. I’m not saying you need to say yes every time he initiates. But when you say no, explain why in a way that still affirms your desire for him.

4. Sex is a marital discipline. It’s a part of how we serve each other in marriage. It is wrong for a wife to use sex as a reward or a lack of sex as punishment. The Bible clearly teaches that husbands and wives are not to deprive each other in this area.

5. Men are visually oriented. No matter how you see yourself, he is stimulated by sight. Again, God is the One who made men with a desire to see women naked. And the only legitimate way for your husband to satisfy this God-given desire is for you to let him see you naked.

6. Men in romance novels and soap operas are made up. The strong, sensitive, caring men portrayed in most romance novels are fictional characters. No husband can live up to the near perfection an author presents.

7. Creativity is good. The Bible says that the marriage bed is undefiled. This means that a husband and wife have freedom to explore what brings them pleasure and enjoyment in the sexual arena of marriage. Neither of you should be pressured to do something you’re uncomfortable with in the sexual relationship. But passion can be stirred by variety and creativity in the sexual relationship.

3 Unrealistic and Detrimental Expectations About Marriage

SOURCE:   /PsychCentral

There’s no shortage of unrealistic expectations about marriage. Which we can pick up from our families, from friends, from fairy tales, from television and movies, from magazine articles. And these supposedly true beliefs can sabotage our relationships, creating a whole lot of misunderstanding and chipping away at our connection.

Unrealistic expectations “set up couples to fail,” said Clinton Power, a clinical relationship counsellor. “When you expect that your relationship is meant to be a certain way, and that expectation doesn’t happen, this can create feelings of anxiety, sadness, and despair.” It can spark resentment, which can ruin relationships.

Below are three unrealistic expectations—and the truths behind each one.

Unrealistic expectation: Happy couples continue to feel the same intense feelings of love. “Falling in love is often called a ‘temporary psychosis’ for the very reason that when you are ‘head over heels’ in love with another person, you are often blinded to some of their differences and quirks,” said Power, founder of Clinton Power + Associates in Sydney, Australia. You love everything about your partner, and want to be with them. All. The. Time.

There are physiological reasons for this. According to psychotherapist and relationship expert Melissa Ferrari, “Oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin dance with the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, fueling our desire and keeping us on a ‘happy high’ of love and lust.”

But eventually, these electric effects dissipate. And what’s left are two people dealing with the reality of day-to-day life, Ferrari said. “And this is where the hard work starts.”

After the honeymoon period is over, it’s totally normal to enter a period of conflict, Power said. For instance, the quirks you once found adorable, like your partner regularly running late and losing things, are now like nails on a chalkboard. Now it’s a significant source of tension. After all, you take pride in your punctuality, and you have a penchant for organization. Which your partner keeps messing with.

The good news is that conflict isn’t inherently a problem. In fact, it’s actually an opportunity, Power said. When you’re experiencing conflict, you “learn to negotiate and manage your differences” and “how to successfully soothe one another when one or both of you are upset.”

Unrealistic expectation: Happy relationships remain the same. We assume that the person we married will remain exactly as they are, and thereby so will our relationship. This expectation might even be subconscious, but it rises to the surface in the form of surprise: Your spouse starts exploring a new career path or passion or moving away from something they used to love (and you still do), and you’re taken aback.

Maybe you even think, this isn’t the person I married. And maybe they’re not.

“[P]eople grow and change over time, and this means that the relationship changes,” Power said. He shared this example: A couple starts dating when one partner is only 19 years old. This younger partner receives a big promotion—and begins traveling more and more and spending more time at the office, building their dream career. The other partner, who’s at home, misses them and becomes increasingly bored. So they start going out more. Both partners are upset at their new reality because they feel disconnected from each other, drifting further and further apart.

“The issue is they haven’t accounted for some of the individual changes they are each going through. The relationship can’t be like it used to be, because they are different people now than they were when they first met.”

Unrealistic expectation: Partners are responsible for each other’s happiness. We tend to have expectations about what we’ll “get” from our partners, Ferrari said. And when our partner doesn’t give us what we think we should be getting, resentment emerges, and starts settling in. (“Over time, resentment can evolve into contempt, which is coined ‘the sulfuric acid of love’ because it will erode a marriage.”)

Ferrari works with many, many couples who expect their partner to meet their happiness quota. For instance, they expect their partner to earn enough money to give them anything they want. “That places pressure on your partner to make you happy about something that you could be aspiring to yourself.”

Plus, it’s very different from trying to understand your spouse in a profound, meaningful, vulnerable way, and fulfill their unmet needs. This might look like giving your partner a big, long hug every time you come home because you know that physical touch helps them to feel loved. This might look like making it a point to thank them for their kind gestures, because you know that as a child, they regularly felt unappreciated. This might look like talking calmly through conflict because they grew up in a volatile home.

The above is about being considerate and getting to know your partner. It isn’t about doing something for them that they can do themselves. It isn’t about taking responsibility for satisfying their needs. It is about supporting them.

It is about helping them to heal past hurts, Ferrari said. Which can “help them greatly psychologically, particularly in terms of confidence, feeling loved, safe and secure…” And that is incredibly powerful.

Explore the expectations you have about relationships—about what healthy, connected marriages look like, about how you and your partner should behave, about what you should “get.” Then explore where these beliefs stem from—and whether they’re genuinely true. Because many of our expectations are not, and many of them can interfere with our relationship.

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