How to Stop Controlling Your Spouse

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How to Stop Controlling Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

WHY DO WE TRY TO STAY IN CONTROL?

Often, when we’re trying to control others (in this case, our spouse), we’re acting out of fear. Perhaps it’s fear of the unknown, or just the simple fear of not getting something that we deeply desire. Whatever the case, the primary motivating factor in controlling behavior is often fear.

Fear itself can have many different triggers. If you’ve been betrayed by your spouse in the past (in the case of infidelity–or any other breach of trust, for that matter), you might resort to control in order to alleviate your fear of further betrayal. If you’re fearful that you may not achieve certain outcomes in any given area of your life, you might attempt to stay in control of the people and circumstances around you.

Unfortunately, we’re often completely blind to the damage we’re doing when we try to control. This blindness occurs because all we can see is our own fear, and all we can feel is the overwhelming need to alleviate it.

Controlling behavior communicates lack of trust in your spouse and damages the intimacy in your marriage. It’s not likely that you want to do permanent damage to your relationship with your spouse–in fact, we assume that’s the last thing you want to do! But it’s absolutely critical for you to stop controlling your spouse now, and get your marriage on the road to a healthier dynamic.

In today’s blog, we’ll discuss three steps you can take to stop controlling your spouse.

  1. STOP ALLOWING YOUR FEAR TO CONTROL YOU.

You may be trying to control your spouse because fear has its claws in you. In order to loosen fear’s grip on your life, you have to acknowledge that it has been in charge of you instead of God.

Realizing that you’ve made fear an idol in your life could be a major wake-up call, and just the jolt you need to refocus your energy and bring your attention back to God. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Digging into scripture and reaching out to God through prayer are major steps you can take toward letting go of your fears. Right now, it may feel like your security lies in being afraid, so leaning into your fear can make you feel powerful. Controlling the people around you can make you feel powerful, too. But it’s ultimately destructive, because your controlling behavior instills a fear of you in them. Control has no place in marriage, and fear should never govern your existence–or anyone else’s.

Instead of trusting in your own ability to create the outcomes you desire, realize that your trust should be in the Creator. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you,” says the psalmist in Psalm 56:3.

  1. MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR SPOUSE’S DIFFERENCES AND SHORTCOMINGS.

Sometimes we attempt to control our spouses because we have taken stock of their differences and perceived shortcomings, and have resolved that we can do a better job than they can in those areas of life. This can lead us to attempt to “help them do better”–which is often just control masquerading as assistance.

If you find yourself constantly intervening in whatever your spouse is doing in order to express a better way to do it, or to critique their methods, take a step back and think before you say anything. Is this something that is truly going to impact your life, or do the two of you just prefer different approaches? Is one way more comfortable for him than it is for you?

As long as the end result isn’t truly going to harm either of you, there’s no reason to fret if your spouse takes a different route as you to reach the same destination. This is unnecessary stress that you can let go. And the more stress you can release, the less likely you are to feel as if you need to stay in control.

Your spouse is a capable, mature adult whom you love and chose to marry. Remember how much you love them, and choose to let go of the urge to correct every move they make.

  1. OWN WHAT IS YOURS; LET GO OF THE REST.

When you slow down and consider how few things you really have any control over in life, it is tremendously humbling. As you relinquish your fears and let go of your focus on your spouse’s weaknesses, you’ll be able to more clearly discern what areas of your life you have no business trying to control.

Taking ownership of the parts of your life you can and should control is healthy–things like your career, your fitness, your spiritual life, and similar areas. But outside of the areas that belong solely to you, you must let go.

Conclusion

Controlling behavior tells the people closest to you that they are only objects to be used. It tells your spouse that you don’t respect or truly love him or her. And it could even communicate to your children that they exist for your whims and your happiness.

Fear fuels controlling behavior, but controlling behavior also produces fear. It’s a vicious cycle that’s difficult to break once it has begun–but it can be done. Relinquishing the urge to control your spouse will pay huge dividends in your marriage.

The Importance of Sleep When Dealing With Bipolar Disorder

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Putting the Reins on Your Active Brain 

By Melvin G. McInnis, MD

How important is sleep, really, if my brain seems to be telling me I don’t need it?

Sleep is critical for a healthy balance in the brain and emotions. As many people living with bipolar know all too well, the sense of a lack of need for sleep is often the first sign of a manic or hypomanic episode. When your brain is telling you that you don’t need sleep, there is something wrong, or about to go wrong—and potentially in a dangerous way. Most individuals with bipolar have learned that a manic or hypomanic episode can be devastating for one’s personal, social, and work life. Recognizing dramatic changes in the urge to sleep (whether too little or too much) can help prevent the onset of full-blown episodes.

How can I “repair” my disrupted sleep to make things more regular and help improve my symptoms?

Strategies for repairing disrupted sleep depend on the severity of disturbance. Anyone who is totally unable to sleep should seek medical help immediately, either from your usual health-care provider or from emergency services. Be sure to discuss all sleep disturbances with your regular provider to develop short- and long-term strategies to manage them.

Emerging sleep difficulties could indicate that the illness is not properly managed and that medications are not at optimal doses. Your care provider may want to check levels of meds or increase doses and evaluate the results of the changes. If the medications are at the maximum dose, or the side effects of the medications are at the maximum level of tolerance, the clinician will review and discuss additional options. If your care provider has tried a number of options without success, it can be helpful to seek a consultation with a different provider.

Not all sleep difficulties require medical changes or specific interventions. There are a number of self-care strategies to manage sleep and energy. Although sticking to a consistent sleep schedule can be incredibly difficult for someone with bipolar, the importance of a regular routine is tantamount. Ensuring that bedtimes, waking times, and the evening meal follow a regular schedule will help tremendously.

For those with bipolar, often the challenge is dealing with the amount of energy that can escalate in the late evening. The urgency for tasks—anything from a term paper to housecleaning—becomes compelling, and before you know it, it is 3 a.m. Developing a successful winding-down routine in the evening to prepare for sleep is necessary. A calming activity, such as an hour of reading or playing a mundane board game, can be very helpful. Taking evening medication at a planned time in consultation with your care provider (usually an hour or two before the agreed bedtime) is also key. A calm, steady routine is so very helpful when dealing with an illness that has the potential to cause life-threatening instability.

Better sleep and a healthy routine help your energy level over time and contribute significantly to maintaining wellness and preventing episodes of mania and depression. Engaging a family member or friend in your routine and sharing your plans for stability with your care provider will add additional links in the wellness chain.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with Bipolar Disorder and would like help, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Having Difficult Conversations in Marriage

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Start conversatinos

“Start difficult conversations gently and kindly.” (The Gottman Institute)

There are going to be times in a marriage where conversations that are difficult will arise. The topic may be emotionally difficult. The situation may be difficult. An attitude being addressed may be difficult. A behavior may be difficult. An anticipated response may be difficult.

There may be one or many things that may result in difficulty in a conversation, but avoiding a conversation because it may be difficult (or has been difficult in the past) will not make the difficulty go away nor the issue go away. Avoidance of issues does not make the issues go away; rather the issues tend to fester and eat away at the health of a marriage relationship.

One tip in starting to address issues that may be difficult is to do so gently and kindly.  How we choose to conduct ourselves – especially from the onset of a conversation – can go a long way in helping difficult conversations move two people towards each other and a healthier marriage as an end result.

 

If you would like help in your marriage or relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.

Panic Monster: How to Help Your Spouse When Anxiety Strikes

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Panic Monster: How to Help Your Spouse When Anxiety Hits

By Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott

Anxiety. Most of us have been there: an issue that–to the outside world–seems arguably small balloons into a crushing, suffocating weight. Our hearts race. Our palms sweat. We descend into a spiraling panic, and find that it’s difficult (and even hopeless) to stop the feeling of dread building inside our chests.

Most of us know what anxiety feels like when it’s happening to us, but it can be difficult to know how to help someone we love when they are being riddled with it. It’s easy to feel at a loss, not knowing what to do or say. Can’t they just get over it, already?

Unfortunately, it’s easiest to write off a spouse’s anxiety and come up short when it comes to offering comfort and help. So today, we’re sharing tips for helping your husband or wife overcome the panic monster when it attacks.

  1. SOOTHE YOUR SPOUSE AND LISTEN TO HIS/HER FEARS.

When your spouse is in the throes of anxiety, it can be difficult to relate to the things that are bothering him or her. In fact, it may seem impossible to you. But it’s critically important to lend an ear and offer comfort to your spouse anyway, regardless of whether you can identify with his/her turmoil.

Encourage your spouse to talk to you about what’s upsetting them. Sometimes a person who is in a state of panic can calm down on their own if they talk about their worries.

If you can do anything to alleviate your spouse’s most pressing sense of panic, do it. Help him/her find ways to calm his/her body and mind. If the anxiety can be lessened, your spouse has a better chance of clearing their mind and approaching the issue from a calmer place.

  1. DON’T TELL YOUR SPOUSE TO “JUST GET OVER IT.”

Panic and anxiety are driven by emotions, and even though an anxious person’s brain might be telling them one thing, their emotions are communicating a sense of urgency (and potentially danger) that they feel has to be resolved immediately. It’s classic fight-or-flight.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for anxiety and panic. Telling your spouse to “get over” whatever is upsetting them is just going to make the situation worse. Instead, show empathy and determine what you can do to help.

  • If your spouse is feeling anxious about a decision that needs to be made, help him/her walk through the options, examining the pros and cons as a team.
  • If work is making your spouse anxious or panicked, sit down and talk together about why, and explore possible solutions.
  • If your spouse’s anxiety is rooted in matters at home or with family, see where you can pitch in and help.
  • If the anxiety is uncontrollable and has disrupted your spouse’s (or your, or your family’s) quality of life, gently encourage him/her to seek professional help.

If the problem is complex and out of control, don’t be afraid to seek help. But if it’s something you can find a solution for between the two of you, all the better.

  1. DE-STRESS AND UNWIND–DELIBERATELY.

If anxiety has had a hold on your life, focus on ways the two of you can unwind and find peace. Seeking out pleasurable activities and having fun together will boost your sense of well-being (and your intimacy, which is a huge bonus!).

The panic monster can be a hard one to beat, but by working together and focusing on ways to alleviate your spouse’s anxiety, it can be done. As you help your spouse deal with his/her feelings of panic, remember that most everyone experiences difficult seasons like this at some point. Armed with understanding, patience, empathy, and love, you can overcome this together.

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If you would like more help in dealing with stress, anxiety, and panic, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Funday Friday: Grammar Humor

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Here’s some Funday Friday grammar for you:

grammar

 

If you would like to add some more humor or joy to your life, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

Building an Intimate Marriage: Grace & Forgiveness

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Building an Intimate Marriage: Grace & Forgiveness

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Marriage is hard work. The reality that we’re broken people becomes very apparent when we share our lives with someone else. We bring our unique personalities into the marriage, but we also bring our selfish nature.

Frustration, friction, disagreements–they are all certain to show up, but the way we react to these issues and obstacles shapes not only our character, but the strength and the intimacy of our marriage.

As much as we lead with love toward our spouse, we must also lead with grace and forgiveness.

EACH TIME HE SAID, “MY GRACE IS ALL YOU NEED. MY POWER WORKS BEST IN WEAKNESS.” SO NOW I AM GLAD TO BOAST ABOUT MY WEAKNESSES, SO THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST CAN WORK THROUGH ME. – 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9

Forgiveness lies at the heart of marriage. Two people living together, day by day, stumbling over each other’s beings, are bound to cause pain, sometimes innocently, sometimes not. And if forgiveness is not given to cleanse the marriage soul, condemnation hovers over the relationship. Resentment piles on top of resentment until we blame our partners not just for their wrongdoing, but also for our failure to forgive them.

This is a red-light danger zone. Human forgiveness was never designed to be given on a grand scale. Forgiveness in marriage can only heal when the focus is on what our spouses do, not on who they are. Partners forgive best for specific acts. Trying to forgive carte blanche is silly. Nobody can do it but God.

We overload the circuits of forgiveness when we try to forgive our partner for not being the sort of partner we want him or her to be. There are other means for coping with this: courage, empathy, patience, hope. But for mere human beings, forgiveness in the grand manner must be left for God. For it is God’s forgiveness that empowers our ability to forgive the relatively small things–which is no minor miracle in itself.

When we forgive a partner, we are revealing God’s love to him or her, free from condemnation. Human forgiveness magnifies divine forgiveness. A truly intimate marriage can be built upon a strong foundation of grace and forgiveness.

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If you would like help with your marriage and grace and forgiveness, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our coaches or counselors.

Chad Robichaux and PTSD

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Take some time to watch former police officer, Force Recon, and MMA star Chad Robichaux talk about his struggles and dealing with PTSD: http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/chad-robichaux/

chad robichaux

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If you would like to talk to someone about your struggles with anxiety and PTSD, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor.

Intense Marriage, Intense Kids

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Portrait of Happy Family In Park

Intense Marriage, Intense Kids: How to Cope

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Children are always a blessing. But children bring a tremendous change to your home and your relationship as you previously knew it. And if your kids have intense, spirited, strong personalities, the changes to your world are even more pronounced! If one of your personalities is also intense (or both!), this makes life all the more interesting.

Today, we’re sharing a few tips on how to cope with intensity in your home.

  1. ACTIVELY MANAGE YOUR STRESS LEVELS.

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep your stress levels as low as possible. Intensity in your marriage or family could increase any life or work stress that is already present, creating a pile-on effect…in other words, not the best recipe for a peaceful home.

Start by working with your spouse to identify ways the two of you can reduce your own stress load. This might involve cutting back on activities, hiring some extra help around the house, or saying “no” more often to obligations that make you feel overloaded. Then, consider whether your kids need additional help in this area.

If Mom and Dad can keep their stress and intensity dialed down, this will have a positive impact on the kids. Win-win!

  1. INJECT HUMOR AND FUN INTO EVERYDAY LIFE.

Laughter is definitely the best medicine, and it soothes all manner of ills. Take time with your spouse to have fun, and laugh on purpose. Be silly with each other and with your kids, and make life as happy and lighthearted as possible. Focusing on negativity and anxiety will only serve to amplify the intensity you’re attempting to calm.

Use humor to diffuse intense situations and emotions, particularly when your kids are having a meltdown or a hard day. When it comes to dealing with hard adult issues, agree with your spouse to try to keep things as light as you can.

Sometimes the only way to keep from crying is to find something to laugh about. If you’re feeling the pressure of an intense marriage or parenting kids with intense personalities, this is definitely true.

  1. REMEMBER THAT THIS IS ONLY FOR A SEASON.

It’s all about perspective. Remember, your kids won’t be little for very long, and before you know it, you and your spouse will be empty-nesters. That may not be easy to picture now, but time passes by more quickly than most of us realize.

Take the time and effort to help your kids learn to manage their intense feelings throughout their lives, and they’ll be able to manage them when they’re grown. Work to manage your own, and you’ll be better equipped to help your kids!

Intensity in your home might be overwhelming at times, but you have what it takes to cope and create a healthy, peaceful, thriving family life. Keep your stress as low as possible, remember to use humor, and keep in mind that this is just for a season; it won’t be like this for long!

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If you would like help with your intense marriage or intense kids, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our coaches or counselors.

Music Monday: Good Good Father

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Yesterday was Father’s Day. For those who may have some struggles with celebrating their father, the Christian faith talks about God being our perfect and good Father.

Take a listen to one band’s musical rendition of this belief:

Funday Friday: Lion Humor

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Here’s some humor for your Funday Friday:

animal lion joke

If you would like to add some humor or joy to your life, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.