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.

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.

What Are Personal Boundaries? How Do I Get Some?

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What Are Personal Boundaries? How Do I Get Some?

By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Types of Boundaries

There are several areas where boundaries apply:

  • Material boundaries determine whether you give or lend things, such as your money, car, clothes, books, food, or toothbrush.
  • Physical boundaries pertain to your personal space, privacy, and body. Do you give a handshake or a hug – to whom and when? How do you feel about loud music, nudity, and locked doors?
  • Mental boundaries apply to your thoughts, values, and opinions. Are you easily suggestible? Do you know what you believe, and can you hold onto your opinions? Can you listen with an open mind to someone else’s opinion without becoming rigid? If you become highly emotional, argumentative, or defensive, you may have weak emotional boundaries.
  • Emotional boundaries distinguish separating your emotions and responsibility for them from someone else’s. It’s like an imaginary line or force field that separates you and others. Healthy boundaries prevent you from giving advice, blaming or accepting blame. They protect you from feeling guilty for someone else’s negative feelings or problems and taking others’ comments personally. High reactivity suggests weak emotional boundaries. Healthy emotional boundaries require clear internal boundaries – knowing your feelings and your responsibilities to yourself and others.
  • Sexual boundaries protect your comfort level with sexual touch and activity – what, where, when, and with whom.
  • Spiritual boundaries relate to your beliefs and experiences in connection with God or a higher power.

Why It’s Hard

It’s hard for codependents to set boundaries because:

  1. They put others’ needs and feelings first;
  2. They don’t know themselves;
  3. They don’t feel they have rights;
  4. They believe setting boundaries jeopardizes the relationship; and
  5. They never learned to have healthy boundaries.

Boundaries are learned. If yours weren’t valued as a child, you didn’t learn you had them. Any kind of abuse violates personal boundaries, including teasing. For example, my brother ignored my pleas for him to stop tickling me until I could barely breathe. This made me feel powerless and that I didn’t have a right to say “stop” when I was uncomfortable. In recovery, I gained the capacity to tell a masseuse to stop and use less pressure. In some cases, boundary violations affect a child’s ability to mature into an independent, responsible adult.

For the full article, go to the original source.

For help with establishing healthy boundaries, please call CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

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.

Who is the Mature One in Your Marriage?

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Who is the Mature One in Your Marriage?

By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

It is much easier to sit back and say, “Well Emerson, I would be more loving if my wife was more respectful!” Or, “Why should I show my husband respect when he is treating me in an unloving way?”

Of course it is easier to be obedient to God in our marriage when our husband or wife is also being obedient. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

So who goes first?

My answer: the mature one.

How do you know if you are the mature one? Let me put it this way.  I can tell you if you are the immature one.

The immature person uses this information not to change themselves, but to try to change their spouse. Their whole mindset is to get their spouse to be more loving or respectful rather than trying to be more loving or respectful themselves. They do not believe that they have the power to influence their spouse, but instead see their spouse as having all the power to influence them. Therefore they must change their spouse in order to be happy.

The immature person lacks obedience to God’s commands. Instead their mission is to get their spouse to obey God’s command toward them. Bottom line, the Lord will not honor that and a spouse is not going to respond to that any more than if the roles were reversed.

The mature person, on the other hand, will do their part to improve the marriage, even if it means putting their own feelings aside. They will choose obedience to God’s commands over their own feelings and over their circumstances. That’s because they understand the nature of God:  He is a good God, whose commands are given to help us, not to harm us.

Let me also add that the mature one does not tell their disobedient spouse that they are immature. Nor do they throw it around that they are doing all of these loving or respectful things because of their maturity. That would be immature – and counterproductive! Shaming or condemning your spouse for their immaturity is really a reflection of your own immaturity. The mature spouse displays their loving or respectful actions with a humble heart.

Which are you in your relationship?  The mature one – or the immature one?

If you have hesitated to step out in faith and honor God in your marriage, trust His word and His character. Trust that He would not ask you to do something foolish. He is too wise for that. Be the mature one and make the first loving or respectful move. It could change everything!

-Dr. E

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

Loving and Liking in Marriage

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“A strong marriage requires choosing to love each other even in the moments when you struggle to like each other.” (Marriage 365)

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

Helping Older Adolescents Evaluate a Love Relationship

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Helping Older Adolescents Evaluate a Love Relationship

By Carl E. Pickhardt

(For the full article go to Psychology Today)

Actual love relationships become more frequent in older adolescence, during the high school and college age years.

Before that, “love” is more frequently confused with crushes. These are idealized projections on another person that result in a romantic attraction, mostly of the fantasy kind, which is why most crushes fail the test of reality and do not last.

It’s when loving feelings for and from another person motivate the desire to continue and deepen this attachment that it can become increasingly challenging and confusing to navigate.

The more caring the relationship grows, the more complicated to manage it becomes. Intimacy is demanding that way. And because love is such a dominant emotion, it is easy to lose perspective on what is happening  and to lose judgment about what to do.

It is when a young person is feeling frustrated, uncertain, confused, injured, or ambivalent in her or his attachment that parents of the empathetic and non-judgmental kind can be of supportive use. They can give the young person some frameworks for considering the nature and conduct of a healthy and loving relationship to help inform understanding and to guide decision-making.

To that end, what follows are several aspects of such relationships to which parents might want to speak: Treatment, Sharing, and Mutuality.

 

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

Choosing to Love Day after Day

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

Labels and Respectfully Confronting Friends

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Labels and Respectfully Confronting Friends: Ask Joy

By Joy Eggerichs Reed

Hi Joy,

I have a dude friend who I really respect and appreciate, but who often complains about how lonely he is and how “all women suck.” It’s really frustrating to hear over and over again, but I’m not sure how to approach him. If I confront him at all he gets defensive.

On one hand, I can understand that he’s coming from a place of hurt and pain. On the other hand, I hate to hear him putting females down and not taking responsibility for his own actions. I really want to be respectful towards him, but every attempt seems to fail! Helpppp!

—Brittany

My Response:

You are a great friend, Brittany!

You’re seeking to understand how to graciously confront this guy, even when he probably doesn’t deserve your empathy after all his put downs towards females. (That’s the unnerving part of grace— giving someone a gift that they don’t deserve, but that gift can also be the thing that transforms a person.)

Communicating happens most effectively when we can get to the root of why someone is behaving a certain way.

When we find that pesky little talon buried in the ground, it can often lead to empathy on our end.

The root for this dude? His pain. I’m guessing he’s been burned by some ladies…

Sometimes when we’ve been wounded by people, it’s easier to put a label on them because it helps us make sense for why we feel so hurt.

When we give a label, we feel less confused… 

She may say, “Oh, of course he never called me back. That’s because he’s a lying lunatic.”

Or he might say… “Yeah, she couldn’t be trusted. Crazy is written all over that face.”

Sometimes we even take the more concerned approach to labeling…

Where she’ll say,“I mean, it makes sense— look at the family he comes from.”

Or he’ll ask… “You know what happened to her when she was younger, right?” 

I would even argue that labels like this can be beneficial for someone’s healing.

They can be the catalyst for someone getting help, and a starting point if they hear someone lovingly say, “You were abused.” “You were manipulated.” “You were betrayed.”

I think the gauge for figuring out if the label is right or wrong is to figure out who the label is for.

If the label is motivated out of a hope for genuine healing—for ourselves and for others—then the label is good.

If we label in order to make sense of our own pain, or to make us feel less crazy, less confused and more in control, then our motivation is wrong. That type of labeling can permeate our spirit if it goes unrecognized.

Recently my father said, “Bitterness is like taking a poisonous pill and hoping the other person will die.” He wasn’t the original person to say that, so when I googled it, I found similar quotes from Nelson Mandela and actress Carrie Fischer.

(I’m gonna go ahead and let Princess Leia get the credit.)

If labels don’t lead us to deeper grace and understanding, then they probably just do what you sense your friend is doing— putting the blame on others instead of taking responsibility for his own part to play.

He will get defensive if you challenge him because he probably feels safer staying upset. His generalizations of women help him feel justified in his hurt. If he let down his defensiveness for a moment, he might have to face his hurt and that scares him.

Now, do I suggest you read him the above paragraph and tell him he is scared of pain and on the verge of a break down? No.

You hold great power and effectiveness in how you challenge him.

So here is what I suggest:

1. Go to worst-case scenario—he may not listen to you. You may need to consider dropping it because he might not be at a place of receiving feedback. (Remember, he’s a free agent.)

2. 2 Timothy 1:7 is truth I cling to as a believer when I need to confront people on tough topics.

3. A pseudo scenario to play out in your head:

 “________, Can I talk to you about something I’ve been thinking about?”

(Give him a chance to say “yes” or “no.” If he says “yes,” then he already has a posture that invites your words, as opposed to you just stating your thoughts from left field.)

“I’m obviously your friend because you know I think so highly of you.  I respect how you _______, _______ and ______.”

(Insert acts of service you see him doing, his work ethic or how he treats his family or guy friends. Because remember, “respect language” is not respecting someone’s behavior, like grace, it’s a gift. Recognizing that many men respond to language like this can lead them to them to trust that you are really for them.)

“Because of the type of man I know you to be, and the man I assume you desire to be, I feel like you can handle me challenging you a little. I’m not sure you realize it, but you have been super negative about women lately. It feels like you think all women suck and in case you missed it, I am a woman.”

(Pause…)

“I know you’ve been burned by some of “my kind,” (smile, laugh or keep it light in a way that you guys are familiar with) but that attitude you hold towards women seeps through you. I appreciate you letting your guard down with me, but I think if others heard you they would see a misrepresentation of the man I know you to be.” 

(Pause… he might say something…)

“So my request and challenge is to maybe try and shift your perspective. Try looking at women through the lens of women like me, instead of the women who have hurt you. I think you will find that they might even become more attracted to you because they won’t get the impression that you think they suck as human beings. (haha.) I mean, who wants to date a guy who thinks all women are crazy?!?”

(And then just go crazy.)

End scene.

From my crazy-labeled heart,

Joy

Great Marriages Don’t Happen By Accident

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Happy and fulfilling marriages don’t happen by accident. If you choose to love each other intentionally every day, you will find a wealth of emotional connectivity and mutual strength as your marriage is tested by life’s difficult times.

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