My Spouse Is Refusing Professional Help! What Can I Do?

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My Spouse Is Refusing Professional Help! What Can I Do? 

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

We all go through times in our lives and our marriages when we’d benefit greatly from getting professional help. Whether we’re having trouble dealing with a life change or transition, experience depression, or facing addiction, there are hundreds of scenarios that could warrant going into counseling with your spouse. But what happens if you recognize the need to get help…but your spouse doesn’t? Is there anything you can do?

You can’t force someone to seek therapy, but you can encourage it—and you can make changes to yourself that result in positive changes for your spouse. Read on for four common scenarios many couples face, and how to approach getting help for a spouse who doesn’t want or recognize the need for it.

IF YOUR SPOUSE REFUSES MARRIAGE COUNSELING…

Maybe you and your spouse have some recurring issues or unresolved problems that are causing trouble in your relationship. The two of you might be fighting a lot lately. Your spouse might have even asked for a separation, or you might suspect that he or she wants a divorce.

You know that working with a therapist or marriage counselor could help the two of you work through whatever you’ve been struggling with. The problem is, your spouse is completely against the idea, and nothing you say will change their mind about it.

It’s incredibly painful when you’re motivated to work on your relationship, but your spouse isn’t willing. You might feel stuck or hopeless, but there’s good news: you can seek help yourself and make changes on your own—without your spouse—that can improve your marriage.

Going to counseling on your own can help you focus on becoming the healthiest possible version of yourself. The most important thing you can do for your marriage is to work on who you are; every healthy choice you make gives your spouse a chance to join you.

Even if your spouse never attends a therapy session, the positive changes you make will affect him or her significantly. In fact, your change is a catalyst for change in your spouse. We’ve seen relationships turn around completely as a result of just one spouse stepping up to get help. So even if you’re the only one willing to seek help, you can still improve your marriage.

IF YOUR SPOUSE IS EXPERIENCING DEPRESSION…

Have you noticed that your spouse seems distant from you and disinterested in things they used to enjoy? Have you observed sudden changes in their sleep habits, appetite, energy levels, or mood? If you suspect that your spouse is dealing with depression, there are a few things you can do that will go a long way toward encouraging them to get the help they need.

First, educate yourself on the degrees and common variations of depression. Depression is a spectrum, ranging from mild, circumstantial depressive periods to severe chemical imbalances and mood disorders.

Your spouse’s depression might be temporary and circumstantial; maybe you’ve just gone through a major life change that triggered it. Some depression is neurochemical, requiring medications and interventions from doctors and therapists. Everyone’s case is different, so it’s important to try to identify what’s going on.

You don’t want to treat depression lightly; if your spouse can’t identify it in themselves, it’s up to you to try to help him or her recognize the symptoms. Try to get some outside, objective help if you can; if your spouse continues to resist therapy or counseling, find a checklist of common depression symptoms and identify the signs you’ve noticed in your spouse. Gently share your list with your spouse and tell them something like, “You know, it feels like so many of these things are things you’re dealing with. I love you and I’d love to see you start feeling better again.”

Continue gently encouraging your spouse to seek help; it’s important for them to get evaluated by a doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible. It’s hard to admit you’re having a problem with depression, but the sooner your spouse admits it, the sooner he or she will be on the road to recovery.

IF YOUR SPOUSE HAS AN ADDICTION…

Addiction is one of the most difficult issues to face in any relationship—especially your marriage. You might have been watching your spouse fall into their particular addiction for a while now, but maybe you’ve only recently realized how bad it is. And it’s difficult—sometimes impossible—to communicate with someone who doesn’t see a problem you see.

Whether your spouse’s addiction is gambling, drugs, alcohol, pornography, or something else, he or she is likely to be in serious denial about the issue. Addiction is the physical reality that you’ve lost control over your ability to resist something. And it’s the emotional reality of the pain you’re trying to escape from because you’re unable to cope with it.

If your spouse won’t agree to seek help, think about staging an intervention with some trusted friends or members of your family. Sometimes, a person who is in denial about an addiction needs a group of voices to lead them toward help—not just one. They have to be willing to say, “I’m powerless over this,” then be willing to be vulnerable and put in the hard work to overcome the addiction.

IF YOUR SPOUSE IS A CHILDHOOD TRAUMA SURVIVOR…

Childhood trauma—whether it’s emotional, physical, mental, or sexual abuse—is a serious and weighty topic that continues to impact victims into their adult lives (especially their marriages). If your spouse grew up in a sexually abusive home, for instance, he or she needs extensive therapy in order to experience healing.

When someone has been through that kind of trauma, they’re going to have baggage that will impact both them and their spouse for years to come until they’ve found some kind of resolution for the ongoing pain. Your spouse has the power to become a healing presence for others because of their past, but they need guidance from a counselor to turn their traumatic experiences into healing for others.

The first step toward healing is awareness. If your spouse has confided in you, that’s the first step. We know couples who have gone for decades before one spouse’s childhood trauma was revealed, and in retrospect, they could understand so much more about the troubles they’d faced in their 25 years of marriage.

Keep communication open and encourage your spouse to seek therapy. As an alternative step forward (although we highly recommend moving on to therapy together), your spouse might be open to starting the conversation with a mentor couple first.

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

4 Ways to Support Your Spouse’s Creativity

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4 Ways to Support Your Spouse’s Creativity

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Creative pursuits add an exciting dimension to our lives. Music, theatre, art, writing, dance–these are just a few of the creative outlets you or your spouse might enjoy. But if you’re not particularly creative, what are some ways to support your spouse’s passions?

1. SHOW INTEREST IN THEIR CREATIVE PURSUITS.

Your spouse’s passion for creativity adds meaning, joy, and purpose to their life–and it can do the same for you. Whether your spouse is painting, sculpting, dancing, writing, singing, playing music, or any number of other creative pursuits, it’s important to show interest in what they’re creating.

Is your spouse a painter, graphic designer, or illustrator? Ask to see pieces of their work. Does your spouse perform on stage? Go see a play or musical they’re in. Is your spouse a musician? Ask them to play for you or ask to hear their latest recording. Does your spouse write? Read something they’ve written.

When your spouse lets you into their creative world, it’s important not to offer unwanted critique of their work. Try to respond to their creations or performances in a positive and supportive way. Your spouse is being vulnerable by allowing you to be a part of their creativity, so treat it gently.

If you find yourself uninterested in your spouse’s passions, it’s important to remind yourself how much this means to him or her. Set a calendar reminder to periodically ask about what your spouse is up to lately, and whether you can see their latest work. Marriage is all about compromise and sacrifice, so give your spouse some much-needed attention in this area of your life that’s so important to them.

2. GIVE THEM THE TIME THEY NEED TO CREATE.

Creativity takes time, which is a commodity for most busy adults (especially for parents of young children). Give your spouse the gift of time by:

  • Volunteering to take care of certain weekly tasks so that he or she has a little extra time
  • Occupying the kids for a little while so he or she can paint, write, practice, etc.
  • Making sure not to interrupt them while they’re working
  • Supporting that designated space and time with thing that make them more comfortable (music, coffee, cozy socks, art supplies, etc.)

It has been said that we can’t help others if we don’t put on our oxygen masks first. For your spouse, that creative outlet is their oxygen mask. So extend the gift of creative time, and you’ll both reap the benefits.

3. UNDERSTAND THIS IS PART OF WHO THEY ARE.

Most likely, you realized your spouse had a creative streak when you were dating. Now that you’re married, it’s still the same. During the early years of marriage, it’s common for creative pursuits and outside activities to fall by the wayside while the two of you get to know each other and settle into your new life together (although that isn’t always the case). But at some point, if you spouse has set aside their creative passions for one reason or another, they’re going to want to pick them up again.

You might feel resistant to the idea, especially if it means giving up some of the time you want to spend with your spouse. But remember, this is a part of who they are. It’s not fair to your spouse for you to deny that part of them, any more than it is for them to deny or reject an important part of your own identity. Every day that you honor and love your spouse’s whole self, you’re giving them a tremendous gift.

4. FIND JOY IN THEIR HAPPINESS.

Joy is contagious. When your spouse is creating, they are full of joy–so allow that joy to make its way into your heart, too.

Do you have creative interests you’ve never pursued–or haven’t pursued in a long time? Let your spouse’s passion inspire you to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Then, the two of you can deepen your intimacy by sharing your creative pursuits and making time for one another’s passions.

If you would like more help in the area of your relationship with your spouse or potential spouse, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our counselors or coaches.

10 Romantic Fall Dates To Enjoy With Your Spouse

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10 Romantic Fall Dates To Enjoy With Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Fall is a beautiful and exciting time of year, with changing leaves, football season in full swing, and holidays right around the corner. Take advantage of the cooler weather and the wide variety of seasonal activities to go on some creative and romantic dates with your spouse.

There are plenty of ways to fully enjoy the autumn, so we’ve created a list of 10 ideas to get you started. Have fun!

1. GO ON A COFFEE DATE

There’s never a wrong time to get coffee, but there’s something about fall that makes a hot drink seem more appealing. Cooler temperatures are a great excuse to have a date at your favorite coffee shop—and fall is pumpkin spice season, which makes it extra special.

2. HAVE A BONFIRE AND MAKE S’MORES

There’s something romantic about snuggling in front of the bonfire in the chilly night air, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. If either of you (or both!) plays an instrument, like guitar, banjo, or mandolin, bring it to the fireside and liven things up with a little music.

3. GO TO A FOOTBALL GAME

High school and college football games are always a blast. You and your spouse could plan a trip to your respective alma maters’ homecoming festivities and share memories from your college days. Even better, relive your own memories together if you both attended the same school.

4. GO ON A HIKE

A hike is a great way to see the gorgeous fall foliage in all its glory. Choose your favorite scenic trail and spend the day talking, taking pictures, and enjoying each other’s company. Take a picnic with you and savor the day together…and the view.

5. CAMP OUT

Fall weather is perfect for camping, so pick a favorite campground or state park and pack up for the weekend. You can unplug and spend time together fishing, biking, hiking, and rejuvenating in nature. If you’d rather have a staycation, pitch a tent in your backyard and spend the night under the stars.

6. BAKE A PIE TOGETHER

Autumn is definitely pie season! Apple pies, pumpkin pies, and sweet potato pies are all seasonal favorites, so pick your favorite to bake together and make an afternoon of it. When it’s done, make some apple cider or hot chocolate to wash it down.

7. PLAY IN THE LEAVES

Not much connects you to your inner child during fall quite like raking up a huge pile of leaves, then diving into them. Make your autumn yard clean-up a little more interesting this year by playing together while you work.

8. GO TO THE PUMPKIN PATCH

Take a day trip to the pumpkin patch to pick out your pumpkins for this year’s porch decorations. While you’re at it, take a hayride and play with the baby animals on the farm.

9. GET COZY BY THE FIRE

Chilly nights are the perfect excuse to put on some fuzzy socks, grab a comfy blanket, and snuggle up together by a roaring fire. Put on some relaxing music or watch your favorite scary movie (or fun, if you don’t like scary!) with your sweetie, and enjoy a date night in.

10. ATTEND A CARNIVAL OR FALL FESTIVAL

Fall festivals are a ton of fun, and the perfect setting for a date night. Get in on the cake walk, grab a candy apple or some cotton candy, play horseshoes or ring toss, and ride the rides like you’re a couple of kids again.

 

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 Why Tender Touch Cultivates Deeper Intimacy

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3 Reasons Why Tender Touch Cultivates Deeper Intimacy

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

When our oldest son was born, we learned more about the unbelievable power of human touch than we ever thought possible. He was born 3 months premature and weighed one pound–and our touch was life-sustaining to him.

Over the months we spent with him in the hospital, we began to talk more about what tender touch does for us in our marriage–not the kind of touch that leads to something more in the bedroom, but the kind of touch that connects and reassures.

Not only does touch cultivate deeper intimacy; it helps us communicate with each other on another level. It sustains and strengthens our connection. And it’s an essential part of a healthy, happy marriage.

1. TOUCH HELPS US FEEL SECURE, KNOWN, AND LOVED

Tender touch conveys our love for one another, and creates a level of emotional safety that opens the door for deeper intimacy. It’s this deep kind of emotional security that leads to more physical desire for one another in the long run. Although we all want to experience a healthy sex life with our spouse, it’s critical to build that foundation.

When we feel valued, we’re more likely to show vulnerability to one another. Affectionate touch doesn’t shut us down; instead, it opens us to that intimacy we’re craving from one another–on multiple levels.

To feel seen, heard, and truly known by your spouse is a powerful component in the health of your marriage. Little daily moments and habits that are meaningful build upon each other and lead to something amazing in our marriages. Use touch to show your spouse that you’re watching, listening to, and valuing him or her.

Like our tiny infant son, touch is essential to our well-being in our marriages; without that daily contact, we can’t thrive.

2. TOUCH KEEPS US CONNECTED

Tender touch awakens us and reminds us of why we fell in love in the first place. It’s a way to tell one another, “I’m for you.” It’s a reminder that we’re not enemies–we’re on the same team.

Some ways you can stay connected with tender touch are:

  • A massage after a long day at work
  • Comforting hugs when your spouse is down
  • Touching your spouse when you’re talking or laughing
  • Holding hands in town
  • Putting an arm around your spouse during worship

Tender touch is particularly important when you’re going through a difficult time in your life or marriage. If you’ve been experiencing a lot of conflict, problems with your children or extended family, health issues, etc., stay connected by making physical contact daily–two to three minutes total, at minimum. You’ll be surprised how much you accomplish emotionally by intentionally touching one another every day.

3. TOUCH COMMUNICATES AFFECTION WITHOUT AGENDA

Tender touch isn’t meant to lead directly to the bedroom; instead, it’s meant to convey affection without an agenda attached. It’s meant to be a selfless, supportive act instead of a means to an end.

We touch our spouses because we love them and cherish them; if we only touch them when we have an agenda, they might start to feel resentful of the fact that you only make physical contact when you want something.

Practice tender touch without expecting sex in return. Be playful and affectionate. Passion is an important component of marriage, but it’s not the only form of physical affection you and your spouse need to share.

(As an added bonus, the more physical affection you share without an agenda attached, the more you and your spouse will desire one another in that passionate way! And you’ll find that you inevitably build anticipation for those private moments while you’re showing one another affection.)

If you would like help in the area of intimacy and relationships, please give CornerStone Family Services a call at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

How to Intentionally Pursue Joy With Your Spouse

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How to Intentionally Pursue Joy With Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Keeping your marriage infused with joy is one of the greatest challenges–but can also be one of the biggest adventures–in your life as a couple. After the honeymoon, life can get bogged down by day-to-day drudgery and less-than-ideal circumstances that are beyond your control. And while it’s a little too easy to let these things drown your happiness, it’s important for the two of you to stay focused on finding the joy that keeps you moving forward, no matter what.

Today, we’re sharing some tips on how to intentionally pursue joy together, so that when the going gets tough, the hard times won’t destroy your happiness.

1. GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER AGAIN.

In the early part of your relationship, you two seemed to know everything about each other, right? You knew your spouse’s favorite movies, foods, songs, colors, and bands. You knew what made him or her tick, and you knew the perfect ways to make one another happy.

But how long have you been married? Even if you’ve only been married for a few years, some of those details may have changed. The longer we’re together, the more changes we’ll experience over time. So if it’s been awhile since you asked, it might be time to get to know your husband or wife all over again.

What matters most to your spouse? Are their favorite things still their favorites now, or have they moved on to new and different interests? If you haven’t been paying attention, now’s the perfect time to get caught up. Share your new favorites with your spouse, too.

Another great way to reconnect is to tell each other stories about your childhood that you might not know about each other. This will deepen your sense of connection and give one another insight into parts of your lives that you may not have shared before.

When you get back in touch with the core of who your spouse is, not only will you feel closer to one another–you’ll feel more joyful and more in love than ever.

2. STAY POSITIVE.

The world is full of enough bad news as it is, right? On top of that, most couples are dealing with near-constant crises of one kind of another. It’s just part of life. But if you want to pursue joy in your marriage, it’s critical to minimize the voices of negativity in your life and keep things as positive as you can.

We can’t avoid talking about and dealing with heavy topics; it’s totally fine, normal, and healthy to address the issues in your life. But don’t dwell on the negative all the time. If you’re going through a hard time in your life (or someone close to you is), it won’t be easy to shift your communication into positive messages, but making the effort to do so will pay dividends for your marriage.

When you come together after a long work day or finally go out on that date night you’ve been looking forward to, tell each other about the good things that have been going on at work, at home, or in your activities. Tell your spouse something good that happened to you that day. On the flipside, ask your spouse what the best part of his or her day was.

It’s also inspiring and effective to keep a journal of the things you’re thankful for and the things you love about each other. When you’re having a “down” day, just add to or refer to your existing list and the gratitude will help lift your spirits.

If you’ve allowed negativity to rule your life, it might take some time to shift the polarity. But stick with it, because it can be done–and you’ll thank yourselves when you realize how much more joy you have in your life as a result.

3. MAKE ‘EM LAUGH!

For an instant shot of joy, find a way to make your spouse laugh. Better yet, look for little ways every day to bring a smile to your spouse’s face.

You know your spouse better than anyone else, so you most likely “get” their sense of humor and know what’s going to make them laugh. Actively seek out ways to tickle their funny bone, because laughter is medicine.

Here are a few quick ways to get a chuckle out of your husband or wife:

  • Utilize social media to find memes or videos that they’ll appreciate
  • Throw out a silly quote or two from a funny movie or show they like
  • Look up jokes in their particular “flavor” of humor to share
  • Impersonate a character or celebrity for them
  • Settle down for a date night in with a funny movie, show, or stand-up comedy routine
  • Go see a new funny movie or attend an event that you know will make your spouse laugh

You’re creative and you know what your spouse likes, so use our handy list or an idea of your own, and get to laughing!

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

Help! My Spouse Wants Me to Make More Money!

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Help! My Spouse Wants Me to Make More Money!

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

You’ve weighed your career decisions, filtered your values and what’s most important to you, and decided on a job that will help you not only bring in a good income, but also balance those values and pursuits in the best possible way for your family–or so you thought. Suddenly, you’re getting outside pressure from your spouse to up your game…and you’re not sure where it’s coming from.

Money is a hot-button issue in most marriages, but the it tends to really hit a nerve where individual income is concerned. Whether one or both spouses is working, it’s not uncommon for at least one person in a marriage to feel like the other should be bringing in more money. If your spouse wants you to earn a better salary, there are probably multiple reasons for this–and you might need to dig deep to pinpoint some of them.

Today, we’ll explore some of the motivations for one spouse pressuring the other to raise their income, and a few ways you can approach the issue together. Chances are, you and your spouse share more common ground than you realize when it comes to your dreams for the future and your desires for your family’s security.

WHAT’S YOUR ANGLE?

It’s painful to realize that your and your spouse’s life dreams are out of sync. A great place to start exploring your differing viewpoints is to try to understand where your spouse is coming from. Did your spouse come from a family of origin that placed a high value on material possessions, job security, or a certain income level? Does he or she want a higher level of income for more freedom, more opportunities, or the chance to travel and have experiences that require extra money? Is he or she hoping to spend more time at home with the children? Or does your spouse want to pursue a degree that requires him or her to work fewer hours in the meantime?

Understanding your spouse’s motivations will give you empathy as you attempt to approach the situation in a constructive way. Most likely, your spouse isn’t trying to be destructive by asking for more money, but their emotions around the subject might prevent them from seeing your side of the coin. Now that you know where his or her mind is, you can make your case more effectively.

Does your spouse realize what you’d be saying “no” to if you said “yes” to a more demanding job? Maybe you work a job that affords you plenty of time with your spouse or your children, and you don’t want to give that up in favor of overtime or a more demanding position. Or you might have chosen your current job because it’s a means to an end that allows you to pursue your true passion on the side–a job that, if you gave it up, would prevent you from pursuing your dream.

Explain to your spouse what he or she (or your family) stands to lose if you take a higher-paying job. Maybe you currently provide them with quality time you’d be giving up, or you might have responsibilities at home you’ll no longer be able to maintain.

WEIGHING THE PROS AND CONS

Work together to identify and weigh the pros and cons of you bringing in a larger income. You can get everything in front of you by dividing a piece of paper into “Pro” and “Con” columns, then making notes on each of your stances. Remember to value your relationships with one another and your children over financial resources, and check in with yourselves to make sure your priorities are in order.

More importantly, don’t assume your spouse has his or her priorities mixed up; he or she might want more money for the family to take adventure trips or have special experiences together that you currently can’t afford. It’s important to remember you might just have different ideas of what you can accomplish together, based on your income.

As you make your list of pros and cons, you’ll probably find that you have many more dreams and desires in common than you realized before, even though this issue feels highly polarized. And your spouse may bring motivations to light that he or she didn’t know how to put into words before. If you can both get to the crux of why raising your income is so important, you’ll stand a better chance of pursuing a constructive solution.

FINDING A MUTUALLY-BENEFICIAL SOLUTION

Once the two of you have hashed out your motivations and dreams for your family’s finances, you can land on a solution that works for you both.

If your spouse is craving a sense of financial security–perhaps because of fears stemming from a financially insecure childhood–work together to create a plan that provides more emotional safety. This might involve finding a way to get extra money into savings, or having a solid fallback plan if your current career is uncertain. Your spouse also needs to be willing to become a part of meeting those security needs in a way that works for your family so all the burden isn’t resting on your shoulders. Taking ownership of that fear of financial crisis will, ultimately, make your spouse feel more confident and peaceful about the family’s finances.

If your spouse’s motivations tend to be more material in nature, consider whether your values line up enough to pursue a higher-paying job–but don’t get into the frenzy of trying to achieve a lifestyle that doesn’t fit what you deeply value. If the idea of a weightier job doesn’t work for you, the two of you might agree instead on a contained amount of overtime that will help you achieve specific financial goals, like taking that vacation you’ve been talking about. And if your spouse simply can’t let go of that higher-income dream, you can offer to commit more time to responsibilities at home to allow him or her to take on earning that extra money.

You both have good reasons for choosing the stances you’ve taken regarding earnings and career pursuits. And it’s always possible that your spouse is making a legitimate case for you to pursue a higher income. As the two of you explore your individual situation, we encourage you to each take an honest, objective evaluation of yourself, your career, and your family’s income and material needs to determine your next steps.

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

5 Ways Empathy Can Neutralize Conflict With Your Spouse

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5 Ways Empathy Can Neutralize Conflict With Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Empathy is defined as the identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives. It’s a critical component to success in all types of relationships, but it’s particularly valuable in marriage, a place where peace and harmony are paramount to success.

Practicing empathy can effectively neutralize conflict and restore peace to your marriage. Here are 5 ways being empathic toward your spouse can benefit you both and nurture lifelong love.

1. EMPATHY OPENS YOUR EYES TO ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW.

When you empathize with a person, you put yourself in their shoes. You’re able to view things from their perspective. Empathy gets you out of your own head and gives you a chance to consider situations from a variety of angles. This is especially helpful when you’re working through conflict with your husband or wife.

When you’re in defense mode during a fight, you’re invested in protecting and promoting your own opinion on the issue at hand. It can be difficult to hear your spouse out when you’re passionate about making your point. But when you put empathy into practice, it can help you step out of that defensive stance and into a more open mindset.

2. EMPATHY HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR SPOUSE FEELS.

Emotions run high when you’re working through conflict together, and it’s difficult to handle your own feelings, much less identify with your spouse’s. Practicing empathy will help you understand your spouse’s feelings, whether or not you agree with them.

Having a greater understanding of both of your emotions gives you a big-picture view of what you’re both dealing with. If you can get inside your spouse’s feelings, like fear or anxiety, you’ll be able to suss out ways to calm those emotions–or even make space for positive feelings to take their place. Empathy creates emotional safety, which will help both of you come to a resolution with as little pain as possible.

3. EMPATHY REVEALS YOUR SPOUSE’S MOTIVATIONS.

When you’re in the heat of battle (or just a simple misunderstanding), it’s all too easy to make assumptions about your spouse’s motives. Often, we decide–without actually asking our spouse–why they’re taking a certain position on a contested topic. Without empathy, it’s easy to fill in the blanks for our spouse. And unfortunately, we tend to assume that their motives are not in our best interests.

While you might not understand why your spouse disagrees with you, or why he or she made a decision you’re not happy about, that doesn’t mean they’re trying to hurt you. And when you step outside your own assumptions and leverage empathy instead, you’ll be able to see that more clearly.

4. EMPATHY KEEPS CONFLICT FROM ESCALATING INTO IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE.

When you don’t have empathy for one another, a simple fight can descend into an all-out war. If you don’t check your reactions to one another, you could easily start hurling insults, calling names, and assassinating each other’s character. And these kinds of damaging reactions don’t do anything except run your marriage into the ground.

Being intentionally empathic will help you bite your tongue when you’re aching to scream at your spouse; it will keep your anger in check and help you think about what you say before you say it. If you’re in touch with your spouse’s emotions, you’re not going to want to say or do things to cause them more pain. Using empathy to guide your actions and reactions will never fail either of you.

5. EMPATHY CAN HELP REDUCE THE FREQUENCY OF YOUR FIGHTS.

Empathy is its own special brand of preventive medicine. While conflict in marriage is inevitable, showing empathy toward one another could actually help you to avoid unnecessary arguments in the future. And when you do butt heads, you’ll be less likely to let your conflicts escalate into a full-out fight.

If you would like help with empathy and conflict with your spouse, 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.

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.