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3 Reasons Radical Forgiveness is a Must in Marriage

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3 Reasons Radical Forgiveness is a Must in Marriage

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

It has been said that marriage is the combination of two very good forgivers. We have found this to be true in our own marriage–many times over! And we’ve observed countless successful relationships that were made up of good forgivers, as well.

When you’re in such a close relationship with another human being, it’s inevitable that you’re going to step on each other’s toes. That’s just part of life. The trick is being able to offer forgiveness to one another in a genuine, meaningful way, so that when those times come, you’ll be ready to face them head-on.

BUT WHAT IS FORGIVENESS, REALLY?

First, it’s critical to understand what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is surrendering the right to retaliate against someone who has hurt you. It is not the relinquishing of your boundaries and dignity, and it is not a cheap or easy thing to extend.

When you extend forgiveness to your spouse, know what you’re forgiving. Be honest about how the hurt has been detrimental to your spirit. In the process of forgiveness, don’t just forgive and forget; forgive, but extend some pointers to your spouse about how they can better handle your heart with care in the future.

Forgiveness in marriage is a must because:

1. THE ACT OF FORGIVENESS STRENGTHENS OUR LOVE.

Forgiveness is a form of love in action, and we can’t get far in marriage without it. When you love someone, you’re vulnerable with them, and vice versa. Your spouse has the power to hurt you more deeply than anyone else in the world because you value their approval and affirmation more than anyone else’s. Your spouse is also just as vulnerable to being hurt by you as you are to being hurt by them.

When we forgive one another, we extend sacrificial love. When we are forgiven, we are humbled and determined to love our spouses better going forward. This cycle challenges us to love one another more fully, completely, and selflessly. And over the years, as we continue to practice this dance of forgiveness, our bond grows deeper and stronger.

2. FORGIVENESS SETS US FREE.

Forgiveness frees us in two ways: first, it releases the offender; second, it releases the one who was hurt.

Forgiveness benefits the forgiver as much as, if not more than, the person who is being forgiven. It sets us free from being dragged down by unforgiveness, which eventually turns into resentment. And when you hold onto resentment, it does no good for anyone–especially you.

There are going to be times when we need to offer forgiveness to our spouse, whether they’ve asked for it or not. When you do this, remember that you’re freeing yourself from a prison of resentment, and graciously offer forgiveness to your spouse.

3. LESSONS WE LEARN FROM FORGIVING OUR SPOUSE CAN EXTEND BEYOND THE MARRIAGE.

Forgiving anyone can be difficult–whether it’s a friend, family member, or co-worker. But when the person you love most in the world has hurt you, the process of forgiving him or her can be incredibly difficult and painful. Once you’ve practiced forgiveness in your marriage for a time, you may find it easier to extend forgiveness to those outside your relationship.

Forgiving one another as husband and wife can also help you to teach your children how to forgive. Modeling healthy forgiveness and allowing them to see their parents live this out will give them the tools they need to practice forgiveness in their own relationships as they grow older.

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE

Being able to forgive one another teaches us to love each other and those around us in a more godly way, and it helps us to become more sensitive to the effects of our actions on others. In short, it makes us better husbands, wives, parents, friends, co-workers, and people.

It’s important to note, once again, that forgiveness is a process. You can intend to forgive, but you can’t control the steps to forgiveness, or how long it takes to get there. If the hurt you want to forgive is particularly grievous, it can take a very long time to complete the process. Whatever it takes, set yourself on a path of forgiveness and trust God to meet you on that path. And give yourself grace and time as you walk it.

If you would like help with forgiveness and/or your marriage, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

21 Ways to Love the Person You Married

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21 Ways to Love the Person You Married

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

It’s easy to fall in love and to marry the person you’ve fallen for; it’s a much bigger endeavor to nurture that love for a lifetime. The good news is, it can definitely be done! We’ve created a list of 21 ways to love the one you married. Put even a few of these into motion, and you’ll see your relationship continue to blossom and thrive over the years together. Let’s jump in!

1. OFFER YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.

Nothing is more validating than giving your spouse your undivided attention when they are speaking to you. When you intentionally make time to put distractions aside and focus on your spouse, they’ll feel loved, heard, and seen.

2. ASK TO SEE THEIR CREATIONS.

If your spouse is a creative person, show an interest in his or her paintings, writing, woodworking, drawings, music, poetry, etc. Engage with your spouse about what they’ve made or built, ask about their creative process, and show an interest in the materials they used to pull it all together. Praise their work and encourage them to continue creating.

3. LISTEN TO THEIR DREAMS.

Your spouse’s innermost dreams are precious; when they reveal dreams, goals, or ambitions to you, treat them as such. Even if a dream he or she shares doesn’t resonate with you at first, keep in mind that this is very personal for your spouse, and be willing to be receptive to it.

4. LAUGH AT THEIR JOKES.

Does your spouse have a funny bone–and enjoy tickling yours? Laugh at their jokes! It can be easy to let the stressors of life get to you, and stress can kill your sense of humor like nothing else. Don’t let it keep you from enjoying your spouse’s wit.

5. ALLOW THEM TO FULLY BE THEMSELVES.

You fell in love with your spouse because of the unique combination of features that makes them who they are–right? There may be times when some of your spouse’s qualities aren’t as attractive to you as they used to be…but allow them to be themselves, anyway. Your spouse will recognize and appreciate the freedom you give them to be who they truly are at heart.

For the rest of the items, check out the original post here.

If you would like help showing or rekindling love for the one you married, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

The Importance of Respecting Your Spouse’s Individuality

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Gimme My Space: The Importance of Respecting Your Spouse’s Individuality

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

When you’re in the early years of your relationship–namely, dating and the “honeymoon period” of your marriage–it’s easy to lose yourself in one another. Many couples want to spend every possible moment together, and are even willing to lay aside their individual interests or activities during that time. The differences between you and your spouse tend to be glossed over, too, and those differences don’t feel like a big deal at first.

Eventually, you might find that once you’ve settled into marriage, your spouse might not want to be firmly attached to your side in the same way as before. Or you may have started noticing that some of the qualities that drew you to your spouse in the first place are now beginning to bother you. Sure, you may still have a great relationship, but it’s starting to feel like you’re drifting apart. Should you panic?

RECOVERING YOUR IDENTITIES

The most likely scenario is that you and your spouse have adjusted to sharing a life, and are delving back into the things that make you who you are as individuals. You’ve been together for a little while now, and it’s natural to want to revisit some of the things each of you love that may have fallen by the wayside.

Not only will you both eventually want to revisit your individual selves; you’ll continue to grow and change over the years. Give yourselves room to reconnect with who you are, and with who your spouse is (or has become). There is beauty in making space for those two unique identities that make up your marriage partnership.

It’s also normal to feel some friction as your opposite qualities begin to make themselves clearer. That’s okay, too. After all, you fell in love because of who your spouse is, and vice versa.

REDISCOVERING YOUR SIMILARITIES

It’s important for the two of you to respect one another’s individuality and hard-wiring. The saying that “opposites attract” isn’t really true; most people are drawn to other people who are a lot like them. So when you’re in a marriage with someone who isn’t a lot like you, it’s easy to fall into emphasizing those opposite qualities over what you have in common. Your differences eventually become the most apparent things in your marriage.

When your differences seem to outweigh your similarities, it’s time to reconnect with the common ground you share. Deliberately create moments and opportunities to reminisce about falling in love, and those early, blissful times in your relationship. Those moments will open doors for great conversation, and put you on the road back to intimacy.

Intimacy is built on common ground; keep those things you have in common in mind, and highlight them whenever possible. Create fun, shared experiences that knit your hearts together, and be deliberate and consistent about making that happen. Go on walks together, go fishing, work together in your yard–any activity that will connect you two on a deeper level. Find that common ground and enjoy it together.

LEARNING FROM ONE ANOTHER

When you and your spouse have many differing qualities, you’ll often find that you balance and complement one another. Instead of focusing on things about your spouse’s differences that bother you, try to find the strengths in those individual qualities and see what you can learn from those strengths.

Is your spouse better at saying no than you are (while you’re more of a “yes man” or “yes woman”)? If you often feel over-committed and stretched beyond your limits, perhaps you can pay attention to how your spouse approaches a tactful “no,” then apply the same principles the next time someone asks you to do something you shouldn’t say yes to. Of if you’re an energetic extrovert and your spouse craves a lot of quiet time, you could practice slowing down and learn to savor that quiet time with him or her.

ALLOWING FOR COMPROMISE

Compromise is a form of respecting your spouse–in particular, respecting his or her individuality. You can compromise on many things: food or entertainment preferences, travel, chores, weekly activities, and more.

For example, if you’re an extrovert and your spouse is not, give them the gift of solitude and allow them to do the things they love (like reading, enjoying a quiet coffee, drawing, writing, etc.) without making demands of their energy that they’re unable to fulfill. As a compromise, find a small group or activity you can be a part of so you’re not depending on your spouse to be present for every piece of your proverbial social “pie.”

Respect what your spouse needs in order to have the inner strength and resilience you fell in love with in the first place. Admire who your spouse is, and don’t try to change them; instead, create space for them to be who they are because that is how they were made.

If you would like help with your relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

10 Ways to Show Gratitude to Your Spouse

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10 Ways to Show Gratitude to Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

“Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – Les Parrott

Showing gratitude to your spouse is an important daily practice; it’s essential to nurturing a healthy marriage. There are many ways to express your thanks to your husband or wife, so today, we’re sharing 10 ideas for showing him or her your appreciation.

1.  SAY IT OUT LOUD…AND MORE OFTEN!

Intentionally saying thank you to your spouse more often is the simplest, most obvious way to show him or her your gratitude. It can be easy to neglect to thank your spouse for everyday tasks that may seem mundane. But you’ll find that your gratitude can transform your spouse’s view of these tasks, especially if he or she has been feeling bogged down. It doesn’t take much effort, but those two simple words go a long way.

2. WRITE A THOUGHTFUL CARD, NOTE, OR LETTER.

Write a sweet note of thanks to your spouse and hide it where they can easily find it: in their lunchbox, on the dashboard of their car, on the bathroom mirror, or someplace similar. It’s amazing how a little note like that can brighten someone’s day. Even scribbling a message onto a sticky note can make all their daily efforts feel more worthwhile.

3. GIVE YOUR SPOUSE A BREAK.

A few hours of quiet time might very well be #1 on your spouse’s wish list, especially if he or she is overworked or caring for young children. Or they might just want a break from their regular tasks. Whatever the case, give him or her the opportunity to get that needed time, whether it means several hours to curl up with a book, or you taking over their chores for the day. (If you have children, take care of finding child care or keep the kids yourself.)

4. COOK A SPECIAL DINNER.

Does your spouse have a favorite meal they love, or a recipe they’ve been dying to try? You do whip up a dish every once in awhile that brings back happy memories for you both? Set aside a little time to prepare a home-cooked meal just for him or her. Light some candles, play some music, and dine-in together at home.

5. PRAISE HIM OR HER TO YOUR KIDS, THEN GET THEM IN ON THE ACT.

Being outspoken to (and in front of) your children regarding your gratitude toward your spouse will rub off on them! Take the time to deliberately tell your kids about all the great things your husband or wife does for the family, and encourage them to say thank you to their other parent as well. You can even go a step further and suggest that the kids create hand-made artwork to thank their mom or dad, or that they even help out with the chores to take the load off your spouse. Cultivating this gratitude in your children will resonate throughout your entire immediate family.

6. TELL THE WORLD WHAT YOUR SPOUSE DOES FOR YOU.

Go a little further than the four walls of your house and let other know, as often as possible, how grateful you are for your husband or wife. Verbalize it among extended family, friends, or at church. Put your social media account to good use and let it be known that you are thankful for everything your spouse does for you and your family.

7. BEHAVE IN A GRATEFUL WAY.

Saying “thank you,” giving gifts, and telling others isn’t quite enough; you have to behave in a grateful way toward your spouse. Make an effort to notice what they do and to respect the work they’re putting in for you, on whatever front–whether they’re running a business, running the household, or a combination of both. Don’t take him or her for granted. Be conscientious and thoughtful, and take care to make sure that you’re not undermining or undoing their efforts in any way.

8. TAKE YOUR SPOUSE ON A ROMANTIC DATE.

A nice date is a great way to say thank you to your husband or wife for everything they do for you. Choose their favorite restaurant, a movie they’ve been dying to see, grab coffee, take a nature hike, or stop by their favorite bookstore or library. Make that time all about your spouse.

9. GIVE A “JUST BECAUSE” GIFT.

Sometimes, a gratitude gift is in order. Purchase something your spouse would like to have but might not be willing to buy for themselves, then attach a little note of thanks before you gift it. Maybe your husband has been admiring a watch or set of cufflinks, or maybe your wife has had her eye on a novel or a movie she hasn’t bought for herself. This could be the perfect opportunity to splurge for him or her.

10. STRIVE TO OFFER MORE THAN YOU TAKE.

Successful marriages are all about servanthood. Another way to show your gratitude is to avoid existing only as a “taker.” Give, give, give–your spouse is giving to you, so make sure you not only reciprocate, but go above and beyond to give back. And when you give, take care to do it selflessly, without expecting anything in return.

If you would like help with your relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

3 Reasons to Praise Your Spouse Every Day

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3 Reasons to Praise Your Spouse Every Day

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Praise is an essential ingredient to a healthy, happy marriage. Building one another up on a daily basis is a surefire way to build intimacy and keep your love alive for years to come.

Couples who praise each other feed the positive energy in their marriages. They’re happier, more secure, and more unified in their relationship. On the other hand, couples who don’t bother to give one another praise are less likely to have a successful relationship.

Today we’re going to share 3 reasons why praise is so critical to your marriage.

1. PRAISE MAKES US FEEL LOVED

It feels good to be praised–especially when that praise is coming from the most important person in our life. When our spouses praise us, it brightens our day. We feel cherished and special. Most importantly, we feel loved–and we feel motivated to repay that praise. That’s a good cycle to put into motion.

On the flipside, it’s better to give than receive: praising your spouse strengthens and intensifies your feelings of love for him or her. Putting your focus on their positive attributes, then vocalizing them, helps you to keep your attention where it needs to be: on the best things about your spouse.

We all have our faults, and there will be times when it’s appropriate to approach our spouses about issues we see…but most of the time, we need to stay focused on the good things about each other. What does your spouse do well? What do they get right? What’s something you love about them? When did they step up and do something memorable or selfless?

2. PRAISE RAISES OUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL

When we’re fed a steady diet of praise and encouragement, we naturally become more confident in our own abilities and attributes. Consistent praise could mean the difference between your spouse achieving his or her goals, or falling short. Praising your spouse (or receiving praise from them) can take a bad day and turn it on its head.

Praise lifts us up when we’re discouraged and bolsters our confidence to move forward with our endeavors. In marriage, we’re meant to be a team that works together for one another’s best interests.

Praise can take a seemingly ordinary, day-to-day routine and transform it into something extraordinary. Praise the jobs your spouse does for your family, whether that’s being a career person, taking care of the children, handling upkeep on your home, handling finances, or anything else you might consider “mundane.” Doing so will give your spouse a much-needed boost, and help them to feel more confident going forward.

Praise also remembers the extraordinary when the day-to-day has taken over. On days when you or your spouse feels stuck or in a rut, use that opportunity to remind them of the wonderful things they’ve accomplished. That simple gesture can give them the boost they need to keep pressing toward their goals.

3. PRAISE CREATES A UNITED FRONT

This benefit to praise in marriage is twofold:

  1. Praise unifies you from within your marriage
  2. Praise unifies your marriage from the outside in

When you’re spending your time and energy finding good things to say to one another, then vocalizing them, you’re building goodwill in your marriage. Praise solidifies the love you have for each other and brings the two of you closer. And the time and energy spent on praise means you won’t have the time to tear one another down.

Praise is just as important outside the marriage as it is within. Take care to only speak positively about your spouse outside your marriage. Sharing negative information with third parties can not only skew their view of your spouse; it also undermines your unity as husband and wife. Instead of complaining about each other to your friends or to others outside your relationship, be intentional about saying good and positive things about your each other to those people.

If you haven’t been taking the time to praise one another, the best time to begin is now. We’ve seen praise do powerful things in marriage; we’re confident it can pay dividends in yours, as well.

If you would like help with your relationship, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Teamwork in Marriage: Essential Ingredients For Success

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Teamwork in Marriage: Essential Ingredients For Success

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

The beauty of a strong marriage is in the details. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the most successful marriage relationships have something major in common: in the big adventures as well as the day-to-day grind, the happiest, healthiest couples do life together as a team.

We love this quote about how the best marriages have teamwork as their foundation:

“The greatest marriages are built on teamwork. A mutual respect, a healthy dose of admiration, and a never-ending portion of love and grace.” – Fawn Weaver

Today we’re going to dig into the three major components of teamwork outlined in the above quote: respect, admiration, and grace. These are all critical ingredients to any winning team, so let’s break them down!

1. RESPECT

Respect is an essential ingredient to any team’s success, whether on the sports field or in a marriage. Merriam-Webster Online defines respect as “an act of giving particular attention; a high or special regard.”

When a team’s players respect one another, they:

  • Value each other
  • Support one another
  • Cheer each other on
  • Are considerate of one another
  • Treat each other with kindness and patience

A team built on respect has a much higher chance of winning the game because they’re not tearing one another down. Instead, each member appreciates his or her teammates for their strengths, and lifts their teammates up in moments of weakness. Team members share an end game: win, and keep winning until the very end.

In a marriage, it’s important to work together toward your end game. Root for your spouse. Support them in times of weakness. Help them keep running the race until you reach the finish line together. It’s a lifelong journey, but a worthwhile one when you stick together.

2. ADMIRATION

Admiration builds on respect and takes it to a whole new level. Merriam-Webster defines admiration as “a feeling of respect and approval; an object of esteem.” In other words, without respect, you can’t have admiration.

To admire another is to hold them in very high regard, or to find them compelling, fascinating, or amazing. The best teams are made up of players who are constantly “wowed” by their teammates’ abilities, instead of players who are in competition with one another or striving to the the star of the team.

In marriage, the concept is the same. Husbands and wives should cultivate that same “wow” factor with one another. And to take that a step farther, be vocal with each other–and with the outside world–about the characteristics and talents you admire. Let your spouse know what it is about him or her that fascinates you.

3. GRACE

When teammates have a healthy dose of grace for one another, the unit as a whole can continue moving toward their collective goal with little hindrance. But if a team falls apart over a player’s mistake, a bad play, or a lost game, it’s going to be that much harder to pick up the pieces and continue pressing forward as a unit. Feelings will be hurt, respect and admiration may be damaged, and morale will be crushed.

Every great team understands that sometimes, things won’t go as planned. Sometimes, you’ll lose a game. One of you might make a mistake or face failure. That impacts the team in the short term, but it doesn’t have to destroy what you’ve built together.

In the same way, husbands and wives must have plenty of grace for one another. There are going to be times in life that get you down: failures, disappointments, missteps, tragic events, illness, and more. Some of these things might be direct results of actions that either you or your spouse takes. And when that happens, it’s important to always have a healthy dose of grace ready.

One effective way to cultivate grace is to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. Creating a sense of empathy within yourself will help you extend grace to your spouse when it’s due. And if you’re willing to do that for your spouse, they’ll be more willing to offer the same to you.

Stay in the game! No matter what happens, remember you’re on the same team.

If you would like help developing or enriching your teamwork in your relationship, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Help Your Partner Understand Your Side of the Conflict in 3 Steps

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Help Your Partner Understand Your Side of the Conflict in 3 Steps

By Kyle Benson

There’s no way around it: being misunderstood sucks. It can make you feel frustrated, upset, and hopeless. It can feel even worse in times of conflict.

Conflict isn’t easy. There’s hurt. There’s misunderstanding. And, at the same time, there are parts of us that are screaming to feel validated and understood. The problem for many of us is we have learned to communicate in a way that actually pushes our partners away from truly understanding us or meeting our needs. It’s common to see criticism or contempt in a relationship where partners feel disconnected and misunderstood.

Ultimately, conflict is created by a lack of attunement. This is because one of our deepest needs is for others to understand, or attune to, us. This desire to be “seen” starts when we are young. Take kids, for example: when they play hide-and-seek, they love to be found.

As adults, we crave to be seen in our rawness. To courageously allow another into our inner emotional world. This is why Brene Brown links vulnerability with wholehearted living because vulnerability allows us to be truly known by another. She also refers to vulnerability as the glue that holds relationships together.

But being vulnerable is no easy task. It’s much easier to blame or attack our partners for the problems in our relationship, rather than express how we are feeling.

For example, say your partner leaves the room when you get into an argument. Your gut response may be to blame and yell, “You’re a coward for leaving the room when we fight!” But if you took the more courageous, vulnerable route, you might instead say, “I feel scared and inadequate when you leave the room during our fight. My fear is that I’m not good enough for you to fight for. Is there a way I can bring up a conflict so you and I can work through it together?”

Can you see how easy it is to hide compared to how courageous it is to be vulnerable and seen?

When you speak in a gentle, open way that allows your partner to attune to you, you help them to understand why you feel the way you do. As a result, you feel more emotionally connected, which builds trust, increases intimacy, and makes sex oh so much better. Not to mention that when your partner understands your perspective, they are more willing to meet your needs as well as their own.

So how can you get your partner to attune to you during conflict?

Over the next six weeks, we are going to teach you the skills to attune to each other during your weekly, hour-long State of the Union conversation.

The first skill of attunement for the speaker is the “A” in A.T.T.U.N.E., and it stands for Awareness.

Speak with awareness

By speaking with awareness, we mean that the speaker chooses words mindfully and avoids making the listening partner feel cornered or defensive. This then helps the listening partner open up to understanding because they are not under attack.

Here are three ways you can speak with more awareness:

1. Use “I” statements
An “I” statement reflects your feelings, perceptions, and experiences. Using the word “you” during conflict has the opposite effect: it points fingers at your partner’s feelings, behavior, or personality. And as the saying goes, whenever you point your finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back to you.During a session, a client of mine I’ll call Tristan said to his partner, “You are so self-centered. You clearly didn’t think about how uncomfortable I felt sitting at Canlis (a fancy restaurant) all alone!” His partner instantly became defensive. “No I’m not! I had to stay late to finish up the proposal for the meeting tomorrow so we can take our trip this weekend.”When we paused and tried the discussion again—this time focusing on using “I” statements—Tristan’s tone changed completely. “I wish you had shown up to the restaurant on time,” he said. “I felt like a loser sitting there waiting for you next to the other couples sitting around our table. I even had a little kid staring at me like I was weird. I felt really lonely…”

This softer approach allowed his partner to relate to where he was coming from and find common ground. Her response? “It sucks to sit alone in a restaurant. I know that feeling. I’m sorry. I’ll make sure to be more mindful of the time.”

2. Focus on one issue
Since you have your partner’s undivided attention during your State of the Union conversation, it can be very tempting to lay out all of your relationship problems at once. But the more problems you try to air, the less likely they are to be solved. Instead, focus on one event and describe it like a journalist:

  • “I would like you to take out the trash without me having to ask you to do it.”
  • “I feel frustrated when you come home later than you say you will without checking in with me.”

3. Protect your partner’s triggers
In Stan Tatkin’s audio program Your Brain on Love, he states 11 facts about people in relationships. The seventh is “Romantic Partners are Responsible for Each Other’s Past.” Whether we like it or not, we are affected by the raw spots in our partner’s past, just as they are affected by ours.

These raw spots can escalate conflict if they are not cared for. Your partner’s baggage may be a source of irritation, but it’s unrealistic to expect them to drop their pain points and “change.” Instead, you can prevent conflict from worsening by working around their triggers with compassion.

Intimately knowing your partner gives you the superpower to love them compassionately despite their raw spots, or to severely hurt them with the knowledge you have. The latter breaks relationships, while the former builds them.

Next week, we will teach you the next letter T, which stands for Tolerance of your partner’s perspective.

How you talk to your partner about issues in your relationship determines how effectively the relationship problems are resolved. If you want to change your partner’s behavior towards you, start by changing your behavior towards them.

If you would like help with your relationship communication, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Caution! Slow: 3 Ways to Handle Critical Premarital Counseling:

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Caution! Slow: 3 Ways to Handle Critical Premarital Counseling:

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

The engagement period in your relationship is one of the most exciting times in your life–and one of the longest waits you’ll ever experience. You’re anticipating a beautiful wedding, a romantic honeymoon, and seeing all the dreams you’ve created together finally come to life.

You feel like you’ve finally found “the one”…until a pastor, family member, friend, or counselor speaks out against your relationship. You’re thrown for a loop! What’s going on?

It’s very upsetting to hear someone you respect say that you shouldn’t get married yet. Most likely, your first response was emotional. But if you’re facing this situation right now, we encourage you to step back for a moment and look objectively at your relationship as you move forward.

1. CONSIDER THE SOURCE AND MOTIVATION

If your pastor or counselor has taken a stance against the two of you getting married, they’ve done so for serious reasons. Most of the time, church leaders and counselors don’t approach these issues flippantly. Chances are, they see their fair share of couples coming to their offices for counseling every year.

Because your counselor most likely has extensive experience working with engaged couples, it’s important to ask yourselves if there’s something about your relationship you need to examine. And it’s worth taking a pause for long enough to find out.

Here are a few questions to consider as you sort things out:

  • Are both of you mature, healthy individuals?
  • Are you (and your intended) really ready for marriage?
  • Is your relationship mature, or has it been stormy?
  • Are there any signs of abuse in your relationship?

If you’ve cleared these questions and can’t reconcile them with your counselor’s feedback, you can always consult someone else. Which brings us to…

2. TALK TO FAMILY & FRIENDS

If you’ve asked yourself the above questions and still feel like your counselor may have missed the mark, you and your fiance might want to consult trusted family members or friends. Share your counselor’s feedback, and see what they have to say about your relationship.

You may find that your family and/or friends have a different perspective on your relationship, or you may get similar answers. If their feedback aligns with your counselor’s and they think you should wait to get married–or they aren’t in support of your relationship at all–it’s important to proceed with caution.

3. TAKE AN OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENT TOGETHER

Sometimes, it can help to work with a collection of objective data to inform yourselves on how to proceed in your relationship. An assessment like SYMBIS is a great way to gather this data. You’ll go over your results together with a facilitator in your area, but you’ll have the added reassurance of knowing that your test results came entirely from the two of you

It’s scary and upsetting when you’re in love and planning to marry the person you want to spend the rest of your life with…only to be told you shouldn’t get married yet (or at all, as the case may be). When you’re in love, you’re blind; when someone tells you that you shouldn’t get married, you feel defiant and even more devoted to your intended. Every situation is different, but remember, the most likely scenario is that the person who provided this feedback cares deeply about you, and wants the best for your life and marriage.

We encourage you to take a deep breath, slow down, and explore this feedback as you move forward. As much as you may want to throw all caution to the wind and defy the advice you’ve received, it’s important to take heed. Make sure all the red flags are resolved before moving forward. We haven’t met a couple yet who wasn’t thankful for that extra time to truly prepare for a successful and healthy marriage.

If you would like help with your premarital counseling, please contact one of our counselors or coaches who are registered facilitators of SYMBIS and Prepare/Enrich by calling our office at 614-459-3003.

When I Don’t Feel Love For My Spouse

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When I Don’t Feel Love For My Spouse

By Steve Cornell

A woman once told me that she planned to leave her husband because she “just didn’t love him anymore.” I asked her to change the way she worded what she planned to do so that her decision could be understood accurately. I asked her to say it this way: “I am choosing to no longer value my husband and to break my commitment to remain faithful to him.”

She declined to word her decision this way but insisted on using terms that made her appear to be a victim of feelings she could not change. She also thought her decision was actually virtuous in its honesty and in her refusal to be a hypocrite.

Being and Behaving in Love

When performing weddings, I raise this question: “What is it that draws people together to be married?” Most answer with one word: love. Yes, love draws us together. But what is love? Is it something we can fall into and fall out of? Is it chemistry? Infatuation? Is it an emotional response or a choice?

Over the years, people have told me they want to be married because they love each other. I’ve also had people (like this woman) tell me that they want out of their marriage because they no longer feel love for their mate.

This has led me to ask some serious questions about the nature of love. In my evaluation, I’ve concluded that we need to distinguish two dimensions of love.

Being in love. This dimension is the emotional attraction of love. It’s what people mean when they speak of “falling in love.” It’s usually based on more superficial reactions to appearance and first impressions. Clearly, it’s a natural part of human attraction. Though not necessarily wrong, it’s not enough to sustain a meaningful and lasting relationship. It’s far too superficial. Deeply satisfying relationships are built on the second dimension of love.

Behaving in love. This dimension does not depend on feelings and chemistry. It’s the love of volition. It’s the choice to respond to my mate in a loving manner, regardless of feelings. This dimension of love is a choice to value my mate and seek his or her best. While I can’t always make myself feel a certain way, I can always choose to act in a loving way.

In the context of marriage, the distinction between these two dimensions is very important to understand. Most relationships start with a high dose of the being dimension of love and, in most relationships, this feeling diminishes with time. When this happens, the key to keeping the flame of love burning is not pursuing a feeling but deciding to value the other person and be devoted to his or her best—no matter what one feels.

It’s a choice to act in love even when we don’t feel love. I realize that to many people this sounds almost like a great sin. It sounds as if I am advocating some form of dishonesty but, surprisingly, when we choose to love, the feelings often follow the actions!

Cultural Barrier

We must confront a cultural barrier that threatens this understanding of love. Our culture sends a strong message telling us that above all else, we must be true to our feelings. To do anything else, we’re told, would simply be dishonest and hypocritical. So it has become a mark of good character to be true to your feelings.

This cultural ethic is often used to give people a false sense of virtue when breaking deep commitments. By “avoiding hypocrisy” and “being honest enough to admit the loss of feelings,” they feel justified—perhaps even virtuous—in breaking their wedding vows.

There is a deep and self-destructive deception in this line of reasoning. It implies that we are somehow victims of our feelings, incapable of mastering them. Feelings come and go with changes in the weather.

But do you go to work only when you feel like going? Do athletes or great musicians only practice when they feel like it? We simply cannot live a healthy and productive life if we let our feelings master us. This is especially true regarding relationships.

If we hope to experience deep and lasting relationships as intended by God, love must be understood as an action more than a feeling.

Remember that God demonstrated his love for us not because we are a warm, lovable group of people whom he could not resist. Instead, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This is the kind of love husbands are commanded to show toward their wives (Ephesians 5:25).

Reflect often on this distinction between being in love and behaving in love. Use this for conversation as couples, in small groups, and with those preparing for marriage.

Reflect also on the best definition of love available to humanity.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8a)

If you are struggling with your marriage, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

How to Thrive When One Spouse is Traveling Solo

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How to Thrive When One Spouse is Traveling Solo

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

For many couples, it’s difficult to fathom either of you traveling on your own after you get married. Especially during the early years of marriage, it feels almost painfully essential to remain in one another’s presence at all times. And while it’s ideal for you to be able to travel together as often as possible, there will be times when one of you travels alone, and the other stays home.

Some couples are perfectly comfortable with this idea; others are not. Today, we’re going to give you some tips for helping your relationship thrive when one of you is on the road (or in the air) alone.

BEFORE THE TRIP

Get it All Out in the Open: If you’re feeling uneasy about the fact that you or your spouse is going to be traveling solo in the near future, get that out in the open. Have an honest conversation with your spouse about your nervousness, and come up with a game plan to alleviate as much of that anxiety as possible. Simply discussing the things you’re feeling worried about can take a huge amount of pressure off both of you.

Tie Up Loose Ends at Home: Work together to make sure everything will be taken care of at home during the trip. If you have kids, make sure to line up adequate childcare so there will be plenty of help available for whichever of you is staying home. Stock the kitchen with disposable dishes and plasticware to reduce dish-washing, go grocery shopping beforehand, work together to get the laundry in order, and plan some meals ahead of time (make-ahead freezer meals can save a lot of time when you’re going it alone at home!).

Make a Communication Game Plan: Based on travel activities, obligations, and scheduling, make a game plan with your spouse when it comes to communicating regularly with each other. If you’re traveling to a conference or work-related event and you know you’ll have limited talk time, let your spouse know up front and make sure to be available via text message to keep the lines of communication open.

DURING THE TRIP

Pretend You’re Dating Again: Remember that old saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”? And remember your dating days, where you would pine for one another when you were apart? You couldn’t wait to hear one another’s voices, and you savored each phone call. Enjoy messaging and talking to one another when you’re able to.

Share Good News: When you communicate with each other, be sure to exchange positive experiences from the road and from home. Give your good energy to one another, even while you’re separated. Be happy for one another, and cheer each other on. Being supportive and pleasant when you talk goes a long way toward making each travel experience just a little bit easier. (But, as always, lend an ear, some positive affirmations, and a giant dose of empathy for your spouse if they’re having a difficult time–at home or on the road.)

Anticipate Your Reunion: There’s something so special about the anticipation that builds as you get closer to seeing one another again after a time of being apart. Share that anticipation with each other. Let your spouse know you miss them, and that you’ll be so happy when you’re back home together. Make plans for the homecoming; a romantic evening together could be just what you need to unwind from the time apart.

AFTER THE TRIP

Enjoy One Another: You made it through the trip! Now is the perfect time to refocus on each other. Take some extra time to lavish attention on one another and enjoy being together again. If you have kids, plan a special family outing to celebrate all of you finally being home. Or go out on that special date night you’ve been dreaming about.

Talk About Next Time: What worked? What didn’t? How can you work together to make the next time easier for both of you? Chat about how things went, both on the road and at home, and look for ways to alleviate any issues that came up during the trip. Then, next time there’s an opportunity for travel, things will go more smoothly than ever!