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.

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.

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!

Is My Spouse Good or Evil?

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Is My Spouse Good or Evil?

By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Q: I have heard you refer to “good will” a lot. What does that really mean and how do I know if my spouse has good will or evil will toward me?

Dr. E says: Good question! The line between good and evil will can certainly get blurred when couples are spinning on the Crazy Cycle! Let me try to unpack this in less than 1,000 words.

Good intentions, poor delivery.

A simple definition of good will is “the intention to do good toward the other person.”

But there is much more to it than that. A spouse may intend to do good, but fail to deliver. Good intentions do not necessarily guarantee good results.

The apostle Paul captured the reality of good intentions but poor follow-through when he wrote about his own struggles with the flesh in Romans 7:19: “I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do.”

We all know what Paul is talking about. You or your spouse may want to do the right thing, but you don’t; or you or your spouse may want to stop doing the wrong things, but you don’t.

Most of us don’t plot evil.

When your spouse fails to follow through on good intentions, your definition of good will must also include the idea that good willed people do not mean any harm; they do not intend real evil toward one another. Few of us get up in the morning plotting how we can hurt our spouse.

Your spouse may be neglectful, forgetful, or make a careless, even thoughtless remark. As a result, you may be hurt or angry and may lash out in some way to retaliate.

But despite all these failings, deep down you both care for each other. Beneath the turmoil on the surface of what is going on, your goodwill remains intact.

Some people choose the dark side.

But doesn’t Scripture also teach that “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked”? And aren’t some spouses truly evil-willed?

Even more to the point, Scripture clearly attests that we live in a fallen world in which some people choose the dark side. David describes the wicked person like this: “Even as he lies in bed he makes evil plans. He commits himself to a sinful way of life. He never says no to what is wrong.”

Evil can destroy a marriage.

Scripture also points to how evil can destroy a marriage. A husband can love his mate, but deep within her soul she turns her heart against what is good. She becomes an adulterous, wayward wife with seductive words “who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God” (Proverbs 2:16-17).

And in Malachi 2:13-14, the prophet tells wayward men that God no longer honors their offerings and instead is “acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth” because he has broken the marriage covenant.

I get a lot of mail from spouses who have been the victims of evil treatment by their partners. These partners made a decision to no longer act in good will.

As you read these lines, you may be a victim of your spouse’s evil will. I do not know your situation, so I have no way of knowing if you are totally accurate in your assessment and if your spouse does indeed have an evil will toward you.

What I do know, however, is that it is a serious thing to make the severe judgment that someone is completely evil willed.

A Severe Judgment

We must never label a Peter as a Judas, even though on a certain occasion Peter did act like Judas.

Judas betrayed Jesus into the hands of His enemies. Since that fateful act, Judas has been seen as one of most sinister traitors in all history.

But Peter was also a traitor, denying his Lord three times, just as Jesus said he would. Everyone knows, however, there is a 180 degree difference between the spirit of Peter and the spirit of Judas. Full of remorse, but not repentance, Judas committed suicide. Peter matched his remorse with repentance and was restored in fellowship with his Lord and went on to serve Him.

To repeat, when a spouse fails to do good and does bad, this does not automatically mean a spouse lacks good will. When a spouse gets mean or nasty it is easy to label them evil willed. Granted, you may not use the term “evil will” but at the moment you are certainly not experiencing good will and your natural inclination is to react unlovingly or disrespectfully.

Distinguish good character from evil.

But if you are trying to live out Love and Respect, your spouse’s temporary feistiness, nastiness, or selfishness must be distinguished from evil character.

Why do I caution people to withhold judgment of another as evil willed?

Once you profile another as evil willed, there is little hope of reconciliation. Once impugning the motives of another, intimacy with that person will disappear. You will no longer be allies, but enemies. For all practical purposes the relationship is over.

However, this is not to minimize evil! I am not seeking to call evil good, but as in all things, we must be careful to look at the facts and not rush to judgment.

 

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

5 Ways to Support Your Spouse’s Dreams

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5 Ways to Support Your Spouse’s Dreams

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

The Bible says when two marry, they become one flesh (Mark 10:8). Though that reference is often interpreted to be speaking of sex, it is talking about so much more. Marriage is the joining of two lives, of soul and of flesh. It is committing “until death do us part” to each other’s thoughts and dreams, joys and sufferings, hopes and fears. It is a forever support system, and if you commit to staying married, an ever-evolving life.

One of the greatest gifts that God can give us is the opportunity to chase our dreams. If you’re married to a dreamer–and even more so, a doer–you may know full well what it looks like to manage and support the dreams of your spouse. Or perhaps both of you are dreamers and doers. Regardless, there is something special about seeing a couple support each other in their dreams. You may be in this place now, and wondering how to do that yourself.

Here are 5 ways you can support your spouse’s dreams.

1. PRAY

This one should almost go without saying; yet, though we know in our minds the importance of prayer, it is one of the things we ignore in the midst of life. Prayer is an essential lifeline for our marriages. It take the focus off of our striving, wisdom and strength and casts our cares upon the Lord. It can soften our hearts and give us a vision for God’s purpose in our lives.

When it comes to supporting your spouse’s dreams, prayer is essential. It can be difficult in the flesh to get on the same page. Hours may be long. Sacrifices may have to be made. When your spouse has a dream that is being fulfilled, you may not be on the same page or even in full support of their dream. Pray. Pray early and often. It will be the difference maker and will set a solid foundation for the days ahead.

2. SPEAK POSITIVE AND REINFORCING WORDS

If you are familiar with the book “The 5 Love Languages,” you will know that one of the five love languages is words of affirmation. For many, this is their top hit. Simply speaking words that are positive and encouraging can set the tone for a day, week, or even month for your spouse.

This is especially true in vulnerable times, and when you or your spouse are taking big risks to follow your dreams. There is so much power in phrases like, “I believe in you,” “You can do this,” “This is what you were made for,” or, “I love you.” It can be so easy to forget the power of words. Life and death are on the tip of our tongues.

Fight the urge to be negative. Your spouse needs to know you believe in them. What may seem insignificant to you could make a world of difference to them. Not good with verbal expression? Leave notes, write cards, and send texts or emails instead. Unity is a beautiful thing in marriage. Your words matter.

3. ASK HOW YOU CAN HELP

The longer you are married, the more likely your roles are to shift throughout your marriage. There may be times when you take the lead in certain areas, and yet others where you play a more behind-the-scenes role. In a perfect world, you and your spouse will compliment each other in your gifts, as it often happens.

Though some giftings may be more easily noticeable, all are important. Very few significant things have ever been accomplished without the work of a team, and there is no more powerful team than a husband and wife on a mission.

If you find yourself in a behind-the-scenes, supportive role, don’t diminish the importance of your position. Ask your spouse how you can help. It could be by stepping up in an area you haven’t before, or maybe taking specific tasks off of their plate for a period of time. It could be scheduling activities differently. To offer help is to strengthen the team, and that’s ultimately better for your marriage and your family. Two is always better than one!

4. BE WILLING TO SACRIFICE

This one is key. More than likely, you and your spouse both carry different dreams and passions. Your marriage will go through seasons. Depending on the season, your level of sacrifice for your spouse will vary.

One of you may be pursuing the dream of a new business. Perhaps going back to school and earning a degree is something  one (or both) of you dreams of doing. Maybe your are facing relocation to follow a dream. All of these scenarios involve sacrifice. Marriage is a daily dying to your own desires for the betterment of the two of you. It may not always be easy or natural, but make no mistake–it will be required in some form or fashion as you move through marriage.

Being willing to sacrifice for your spouse sets a tone in your marriage that will strengthen you. If it’s your turn to lay down your own desires for a period of time, do so with joy. Sacrificial love is often the difference between a good marriage and a great one.

5. PURSUE YOUR OWN PASSION

It can be easy to completely lose yourself in your spouse. Even during times of major sacrifice, hold fast to the things that make you come alive. It may be a hobby, a craft, or treating yourself to something you enjoy.

You don’t have to completely lose your identity when it is your turn to sacrifice or take on a different role in marriage. Be honest with your spouse when you are feeling unseen. Stay true to your passions, and know that though they may not be given the time you may like, they are allowing room for you to grow as an individual. Don’t be afraid pursue your own passions in the midst of supporting your spouse’s dreams!

Whatever role you find yourself in currently, take a step back and consider what you can do to support your spouse better. Seeing two operate as one in the context of marriage sets a beautiful example in a world where marriages too easily crumble. Remember, everything is for a season. Consider it a joy to support one another. Your marriage will flourish as you see dreams come to pass alongside each other.

3 Betrayals That Ruin Relationships (That Aren’t Infidelity)

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3 Betrayals That Ruin Relationships (That Aren’t Infidelity)

By Kyle Benson

Infidelity is the betrayal our society focuses on, but it is actually the subtle, unnoticed betrayals that truly ruin relationships. When partners do not choose each other day after day, trust and commitment erode away.

Partners may be aware of this disloyalty to each other, but dismiss it because it’s “not as bad as an affair.” This is false. Anything that violates a committed relationship’s contract of mutual trust, respect, and protection can be disastrous.

Betrayals are founded on two building blocks: deception (not revealing your true needs to avoid conflict) and a yearning for emotional connection from outside the relationship.

Below are three betrayals that ruin relationships. Only by confronting and taking responsibility for them can couples reestablish their trust in each other.

Emotional Cheating

It’s very easy for platonic friends to bond in the trenches of work, day after day. Sometimes we call this person a “work wife” or “work husband.” Even friendships made at the gym or local coffee shop can threaten the bond at home.

These nonsexual relationships can lead to both parties sharing intimate details about each other’s lives. That doesn’t make it a betrayal. What makes it a betrayal is this: if your partner would be upset by the things you’ve shared or would be uncomfortable watching the interaction.

Tom first learns of his wife’s sexless affair when they hosted a Christmas party. Emily has never mentioned Chris, the new manager of her department. At the party, Chris seems to know about Emily’s entire life. He even brought their son Marshall a Bumblebee Transformer. His favorite.

Tom looks at Emily with a shocked expression. Her sheepish look sinks his heart. When he confronts her after the party, Emily argues about her friendship with Chris. She tells Tom it’s “nothing” because they are “just friends.”

She then turns against Tom and defends Chris. She accuses Tom of being irrationally jealous and tells him it’s the reason he didn’t know about Chris in the first place. Tom feels there is nothing irrational about his jealousy. Whether he admits it or not, his wife is cheating. The evidence lies in her secrecy.

5 signs your partner’s friendship is not an innocent friendship:

  1. Has the friendship been hidden?
  2. Are your questions about the friendship responded with “don’t worry” or discouragement?
  3. Have you asked it to end, only to have your partner tell you no?
  4. Have your boundaries been disrespected?
  5. Is the friend the subject of fantasies or comments during troubled times in the relationship?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, the friendship may be too intimate. Use Dr. John Gottman’s Conflict Blueprint from his book What Makes Love Last?  to help talk to your partner about this issue.

Conditional Love

Couples don’t feel supported when one partner keeps a foot out of the relationship. They don’t feel like their partner has their best interests at heart, that they have their back. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for the betrayed partner to blame a trigger as the real problem, when it’s actually the lack of commitment.

As Kristina reflects on her first marriage, she knows she began to feel betrayed when her husband stalled on starting a family. At first she thought he was anxious about becoming a father, but in couples therapy it became clear that he was hesitant to deepen his commitment to her.

Like an anxious lover, she clung onto him with desperation, terrified of losing her marriage until she realized she never really had one to begin with.

Sometimes a partner may pressure the other to marry or move in, believing the “next level” will deepen their connection, but it’s difficult for a marriage to succeed if it is built on a vow to create a strong bond rather than the result of one. The shallowness of the bond will eventually bleed through the connection.

Steps to create unconditional love: When couples ignore or dismiss talking about difficult issues, they are left with a shallow commitment. By using conflict as a catalyst for closeness, couples can intentionally use problems as an opportunity to discuss their goals, fears, and dreams. Couples that unconditionally love each other live by the motto, “baby, when you hurt, the world stops and I listen.”

Emotional Withdrawal

Emotional withdrawal can be something big, like choosing a work meeting over a family funeral, or it can be as small as turning away when your partner needs emotional support.

A committed relationship requires both partners to be there for each other through the life-altering traumas and everyday nuisances. That means celebrating joys and successes with your partner, too.

Everybody has different ways of expressing themselves. In a committed relationship, it is the responsibility of both partners to uncover and disclose these preferences to understand what the other requires to feel loved, protected, and supported. Think of The Five Love Languages.

In his research lab, Dr. Gottman discovered that happy couples turned toward each other 86% of the time, while unhappy couples turned towards each other only 33% of the time. That means unhappy couples withdraw 67% of the time! Emotional withdrawal sets in when bids are ignored.

Solution: To improve your emotional connection, focus on rebuilding and updating your Love Maps, cultivating a culture of admiration and fondness, and turning towards bids more often.

Do any of the items listed above feel familiar or make you feel uneasy? If so, you may be facing a betrayal. Maybe it’s as serious as finding discomforting text messages between your partner and someone else. This list is not about who is right or wrong. Like sexual affairs, these betrayals can be overcome if you recognize the problem and repair the relationship together.

A Happy Spouse May Be Good for Your Health

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A Happy Spouse May Be Good for Your Health

By Nicholas Bakalar

A happy spouse may be good for your health.

Previous studies have found that mental well-being — feeling happy and satisfied — is closely linked to good physical health.

But a new study, published in Health Psychology, suggests that physical health may also be linked to the happiness of one’s husband or wife.

For the full article, go to the New York Times post.

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

6 Tips for Supporting Your Spouse’s Job Search

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6 Tips for Supporting Your Spouse’s Job Search

By Drs Les and Leslie Parrott

A change in jobs can be a really stressful time for a couple. Not only are finances in consideration, but the fear of the unknown can take an emotional toll as well. Whether your spouse is looking for a new job because they’re searching for the career they’ve always dreamed about, or they’re hunting for the next thing because they were recently laid off, your strength as a partnership will be put to the test.

HERE ARE 6 REMINDERS FOR SUPPORTING YOUR SPOUSE DURING THEIR JOB SEARCH:

  1. Remind them of their gifts, passions, and talents.

It’s easy to get quickly discouraged or overwhelmed with the job search process. Continue to remind your spouse of what they’re good at–what gets them fired up, what areas they are truly gifted in, what parts of their job they have liked most in the past. Be a source of encouragement while your spouse fills out applications and sets up meetings.

  1. Help with the hunting.

Search online, talk to people who may know of openings, and share with friends to keep their ears open for opportunities. Make sure you’re communicating with your spouse as you reach out to help. Consider yourself a support system for your spouse and not the sole leader of the search party.

  1. Suggest making a pro and con list.

Often times multiple job opportunities may come your way. Suggest that your spouse make a pro and con list–even sit down and help them. Write out all the reasons the job would be a great fit and all the reasons it wouldn’t. This process will allow you both to step back and look at the big picture as you make this big decision together.

  1. Remember that you process differently.

It will be easy to get frustrated with the way your spouse is going about the job search if you don’t understand how your spouse processes. Remember that you two are different and may process decisions in different ways. One of you may be a verbal processor. The other may need time alone to think and reflect. Allow your spouse the space (or listening ear) they need to work through the logistics and emotions of a job search.

  1. Consider yourself a team.

Be a cheerleader for your spouse. The biggest thing you can do is remind him or her of how much they’re loved, regardless of what they achieve. Their job will affect you and your family, but don’t put mental or emotional pressure on your spouse as they search–most likely they’re already experiencing pressure without it being spoken. Be their biggest advocate and source of support…no matter how long it takes.

  1. Pray together.

Approach each part of the job search process in prayer. Pray together and pray while your spouse is away at an interview. Ask God for wisdom and discernment as you search for the next right thing and trust that He will provide. Remember that whatever we do is for His glory, and remind your spouse that God has it all under control with the search gets long and hard.