Facing Stress Together: How to Keep Your Sanity and Marriage Intact

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Facing Stress Together: How to Keep Your Sanity and Marriage Intact

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Going through a stressful season or life event can take a toll on your marriage and family. How do you deal with the stress together, while keeping your sanity and marriage intact?

Today, we’re sharing some tips on how to deal with stressful times as a couple.

REMEMBER YOU’RE ON THE SAME TEAM

When the going gets tough, it can be easy for spouses to become agitated with–or even pitted against–one another. We know this isn’t where you want to end up! So when you’re really feeling the pressure of whatever situation you’re in, breathe and remind yourself that the two of you are on the same team.

It can be helpful to remind your spouse that you aren’t enemies, if he/she becomes edgy toward you during this difficult time. Just remember to do it in a gentle, kind way. After the storm passes, your spouse will be grateful for it.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH

Stress, especially when it’s prolonged, can really take a toll on our bodies. When you’re dealing with a stressful circumstance or season, it’s important for you to work together to protect your health. Be one another’s accountability partner, eat healthy foods, get plenty of rest, and take time to decompress together with exercise.

Once you allow stress to take hold of your life and your body, it’s easy to get stuck in a downward spiral of bad habits that will be very detrimental to your health and future. Work together to stay on top of this, and when the stress has passed, you’ll be glad you did!

INTENTIONALLY FOCUS ON POSITIVES

A stressful situation can be all-encompassing. This might make us to want to discuss the source of that stress all the time, until we finally have closure. If we’re not careful, we’ll quickly overpower all communication with the stressful topic before we realize what we’ve done.

Of course, there will be many occasions where you and your spouse have to have the hard conversations and address what’s happening in your life. But once in awhile, pick a different–positive–topic on purpose, and spend some time focusing on that. As time passes, you’ll feel less pressure, and it’ll become easier to spend time talking about happier things.

HAVE SOME FUN

Stress sucks the joy out of life. It’s common to become sluggish and isolated when you’re facing difficulties. You might even become depressed and lose interest in things you enjoyed doing in the past.

Take some time with your spouse to just go have some fun. Go on a date (and ban all discussion of heavy and negative topics), play a sport together, take a walk, watch a funny movie, create something together–anything to hit that “reset” button on your inner world.

You may not be able to control everything that’s going on around you, but you and your spouse can definitely follow these steps to make life a little more bearable when you’re in a hard season. In time, this will pass, and when you come out on the other side you’ll still have each other. Lifelong love can take a lot of work, but it’s worth every struggle.

Funday Friday: Cheesy Fun Pun

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Here is a cheesy fun pun for your Funday Friday:

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

3 Ways to Ensure Your Message Is Not Heard

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3 Ways to Ensure Your Message Is Not Heard

By Eric Geiger

The most important characteristic in effective communication and effective leadership is credibility. Incredible passion cannot overcome a lack of credibility. Sound logic, as important as it is, will not compensate for a lack of credibility. Just as people are unable to follow a leader they cannot believe or trust, a message will not be heard when it is delivered by someone who lacks credibility. Here are three ways communicators lose credibility:

1. Not telling the truth

As a kid, you likely heard the fable of “the boy who cried wolf.” The young boy lied multiple times about being in danger from a wolf. Because he did not tell the truth, people assumed the third time he yelled, “Wolf!” was a lie too. When communicators and leaders don’t consistently tell the truth, people don’t believe them even when the message is true.

2. Constant expressions of anger

Anger can grab attention, and righteous anger can be endearing, as people respect a communicator who is passionate about a wrong that should be made right. But fits of rage expressed against anything and everything reveal the person is bitter, angry, and lacking self-control. Warren Wiersbe said, “Love without truth is hypocrisy, and truth without love is brutality.” Effective communicators speak the truth, but they speak the truth in love.

3. Inconsistency between character and message

A lack of integrity in a communicator distracts from important messages that are being communicated. In the book Small Data, business consultant Martin Lindstrom writes about the demise of the “LiveStrong” bracelets that, at one time, were commonplace:

Up until a few years ago, whenever I gave speeches I asked audience members if anyone was wearing a yellow LiveStrong bracelet… Invariably two dozen or so audience members would raise their hands. Why do you wear it, I asked? Most told me they wore the LiveStrong bracelet to show their support for the fight against cancer. Today, in the wake of Lance Armstrong’s doping controversy, almost no one would want be seen wearing a LiveStrong bracelet. Still, when I asked audience members why they stopped wearing the bracelet—did this mean they no longer believed in fighting cancer?—most admitted they began wearing the bracelet to stand out, to inspire a conversation and even to show their superior moral status.

The important issue of fighting and researching cures for cancer has not become less important, but this particular message lost traction because of a loss of credibility that stemmed from inconsistency between words and actions. Someone who is found guilty of doping is not someone who is seen as a credible messenger for health.

The single most effective way to ensure your message is not heard is to lack credibility. Effective communicators and effective leaders know this and fiercely guard their character and integrity.

7 Things Resilient Couples Do Differently

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7 Things Resilient Couples Do Differently

By Paula Davis-Laack

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

Bad Fight vs Good Fight

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Conflict can be a destructive or a constructive event withing a relationship. An attitude of “me-ness” will lead to a bad and destructive fight while an attitude of “we-ness” will lead to a constructive and good fight.  Below is a diagram based on the work of Drs. Les and Leslie Parrot (posted on TGI) that can help create a good fight.

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If you would like help in learning and developing constructive conflict skills 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.

Funday Friday: Dog Vest Humor

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Here is some vest humor told by a dog for your Funday Friday:

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

6 Steps to Mindfully Deal with Difficult Emotions

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6 Steps to Mindfully Deal with Difficult Emotions

By Toni Parker

Let’s get real here. For most of us – myself included – life is fast-paced and chock full of family, relationship, and work stressors. This reality, along with the ever-increasing pressures of technology and society at large, can really take a toll on your marriage. As a result, difficult emotions like anger, confusion, fear, loneliness, and sadness, just to name a few, can arise. Emotions like these are often the most present and powerful forces in your life.

The key to overcoming these difficult emotions is mindfulness! Practicing mindfulness enables you to calm down and soothe yourself. In this state, you have space to reflect and thoughtfully respond, rather than react.

Following these six steps will help you to understand and deal with your difficult emotions in a mindful way:

1. Turn toward your emotions with acceptance
Once you become aware of the emotion you are feeling, notice where it is in your body. You may feel it as a stomachache, a tightening of your throat, the pounding of your heart, or tension somewhere. Sit with this anger, anxiety, depression, grief, guilt, sadness, shame, or whatever emotion you are experiencing. Become aware of it and don’t ignore it. If this is difficult, get up and walk around or get a cup of tea.

The key here is to not push the emotion away. Bottling it up inside will only cause it to bubble up and explode later, resulting in more difficult emotions or even a complete emotional shutdown. Listen to your difficult emotions. They are trying to help you wake up to what is going on before a major crisis occurs.

2. Identify and label the emotion
Instead of saying, “I am angry”, say, “This is anger” or, “This is anxiety.” In this way, you’re acknowledging its presence, while simultaneously empowering you to remain detached from it.

When my husband was in the hospital before he passed, I felt a deep sense of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. I needed to acknowledge and identify the emotions and say to myself, “I know that I am experiencing anxiety and fear right now and I don’t know what will happen, but I am going to just ‘be’ with it.” Although it remained an extremely painful experience to the end, identifying and labeling my emotions in this way allowed me to take some of the pain out of what I was feeling. This, in turn, allowed me to stay in the present, versus catapulting me into the future, or trapping me in the past. Being thrust in either direction would have only caused me to blame myself. I can just imagine how that critical voice would have rung out, “If only you would have done something different, maybe there would have been a different outcome.”

3. Accept your emotions
When you are feeling a certain emotion, don’t deny it. Acknowledge and accept that the emotion is present, whether it is anxiety, grief, sadness, or whatever you are experiencing in that moment. Through mindful acceptance you can embrace difficult feelings with compassion, awareness, and understanding towards yourself and your partner.

Think of a friend or a loved one who might be having a hard time. What would you say to them? Bring the scenario of what you would say to them into your mind’s eye. Now, say the same thing to yourself: “I am ok. I am not to blame. I did the best I could.” Hold these images and phrases within yourself with loving kindness and compassion. Extend this act of kindness toward yourself and become aware of what is going on within you. In this way you will gain the power to not only calm and soothe yourself, but also your partner.

You will soon come to realize that you are not your anger, fear, grief, or any other difficult emotion you are feeling. Instead you will begin to experience these emotions in a more fleeting manner, like clouds that pass by in the sky. Opening yourself up to your emotions allows you to create a space of awareness, curiosity, and expansiveness that you can then apply to your relationship, as well as any other aspect of your life.

4. Realize the impermanence of your emotions
Every one of your emotions is impermanent. They arise and reside within you for a time, and then disappear. It’s easy to forget this when you’re in the midst of dealing with difficult emotions.

Allow yourself to witness and observe your emotions with kind attention and patience, giving them the latitude to morph, and in many cases, completely evaporate. To embrace this process, ask yourself: “What and where is this feeling? What do I need now? How can I nurture it? What can I do for my partner? What can my partner do for me? How can we, as a couple, turn toward one another with acts of loving-kindness?” Asking these focused questions and responding in turn will go a long way to promote empathy, compassion, and connection within your relationship.

5. Inquire and investigate
After you have calmed and soothed yourself from the impact of your emotions, take a moment to delve deeply and explore what happened.

Ask yourself: “What triggered me? What is causing me to feel this way? What is the discomfort I’m experiencing and where is it arising? Was it as result of my critical mind, or was it in reaction to something my partner said or did?”

Perhaps you had a hard day at work or difficulty dealing with your family. Maybe you feel unappreciated, lonely, or disconnected as a result of your interactions with someone. Whatever the cause or trigger, look at it closely and ask yourself, “What is happening here?”

Consider what was said or done and compare it to your values. What were your expectations surrounding the situation? What reactions or judgments caused you to become angry or anxious? Is this a pattern that keeps arising?

Asking yourself these critical questions and investigating the root of your difficult emotions will help you gain empathy and insight into what you are experiencing.

Taking yourself off autopilot and trusting your deepest, authentic self to answer these questions about your situation will create a space to see things with a different perspective. This will ultimately allow both you and your partner to be more present and connected with each other.

6. Let go of the need to control your emotions
The key to mindfully dealing with your difficult emotions is to let go of your need to control them. Instead, be open to the outcome and what unfolds. Step outside of yourself and really listen to what your partner is feeling and what he or she has to say. Only then will you truly gain an in-depth understanding of your emotions and the interactions surrounding them within your relationship.

Mindfully dealing with emotions is hard and it takes time. Be kind, compassionate, and patient with yourself and your partner. You’re in this together! As Dr. John Gottman has said, “In a good relationship people get angry, but in a very different way. The Marriage Masters see a problem a bit like a soccer ball. They kick it around. It’s ‘our’ problem.”

We are fortunate that we live in a world where you and your partner can take the time to explore, discuss, and learn about mindfulness and your emotions. Take nothing for granted, for life is fragile and fleeting!

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

9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain

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9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain

By Joe Carter

“Because the human brain is the biological anchor of our psychological experience, it is helpful to understand how it operates,” says William M. Struthers, associate professor of psychology at Wheaton College. “Knowing how it is wired together and where it is sensitive can help us understand why pornography affects people the way it does.” Here are 9 things you should know about pornography affects the brain.

1. Sexually explicit material from websites similar to sex-hd.xxx triggers mirror neurons in the male brain. These neurons, which are involved with the process for how to mimic a behavior, contain a motor system that correlates to the planning out of a behavior. In the case of pornography, this mirror neuron system triggers the arousal, which leads to sexual tension and a need for an outlet. “The unfortunate reality is that when he acts out (often by masturbating), this leads to hormonal and neurological consequences, which are designed to bind him to the object he is focusing on,” says Struthers. “In God’s plan, this would be his wife, but for many men it is an image on a screen. Pornography thus enslaves the viewer to an image, hijacking the biological response intended to bond a man to his wife and therefore inevitably loosening that bond.”

2. In men, there are five primary chemicals involved in sexual arousal and response. The one that likely plays the most significant role in pornography addiction is dopamine. Dopamine plays a major role in the brain system that is responsible for reward-driven learning. Every type of reward that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain, and a variety of addictive drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system. Dopamine surges when a person is exposed to novel stimuli, particularly if it is sexual, or when a stimuli is more arousing than anticipated. Because erotic imagery triggers more dopamine than sex with a familiar partner, exposure to pornography leads to “arousal addiction” and teaches the brain to prefer the image and become less satisfied with real-life sexual partners.

3. Why do men seek out a variety of new explicit sexual images rather than being satisfied with the same ones? The reason is attributed to the Coolidge effect, a phenomenon seen in mammalian species whereby males (and to a lesser extent females) exhibit renewed sexual interest if introduced to new receptive sexual partners, even after refusing sex from prior but still available sexual partners. This neurological mechanism is one of the primary reasons for the abundance and addictiveness of Internet pornography.

4. Overstimulation of the reward circuitry—such as occurs with repeated dopamine spikes related to viewing pornography—creates desensitization. As Gary Wilson explains, “When dopamine receptors drop after too much stimulation, the brain doesn’t respond as much, and we feel less reward from pleasure. That drives us to search even harder for feelings of satisfaction—for example, by seeking out more extreme sexual stimuli, longer porn sessions, or more frequent porn viewing—thus further numbing the brain.

5. “The psychological, behavioral, and emotional habits that form our sexual character will be based on the decisions we make,” says Struthers. “Whenever the sequence of arousal and response is activated, it forms a neurological memory that will influence future processing and response to sexual cues. As this pathway becomes activated and traveled, it becomes a preferred route—a mental journey—that is regularly trod. The consequences of this are far-reaching.”

6. What makes Internet porn from websites similar to sexmature xxx unique? Wilson identifies a number of reasons, including: (1) Internet porn offers extreme novelty; (2) Unlike food and drugs, there are almost no physical limitations to Internet porn consumption; (3) With Internet porn one can escalate both with more novel “partners” and by viewing new and unusual genres; (4) Unlike drugs and food, Internet porn doesn’t eventually activate the brain’s natural aversion system; and (5) The age users start watching porn. A teen’s brain is at its peak of dopamine production and neuroplasticity, making it highly vulnerable to addiction and rewiring.

7. Men’s exposure to sexually explicit material is correlated with social anxiety, depression, low motivation,erectile dysfunction, concentration problems, and negative self-perceptions in terms of physical appearance and sexual functioning.

8. The following video offers a brief overview of the affect of pornography on the brain.

9. In this video, Gary Wilson discusses the disturbing symptoms showing up in some heavy Internet porn users, If even the content is extremely arousing from websites just like teentuber xxx, the surprising reversal of those symptoms, and the science behind these phenomena. Although it is not presented from a Christian perspective, the discussion is highly recommended for better understanding the deleterious and wide-ranging effects pornography has on men.

Who Controls Your Mood?

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Who Controls Your Mood?

By Dr. Daniel Amen

Who you spend time with matters.

When you are with positive, supportive, and loving people, you feel happier and more content, and you live longer. This is not only intuitively true but research has demonstrated it again and again. For example, in a study at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio, 10,000 men were asked, “Does your wife show you her love?” The detailed health histories of the men followed over ten years who answered yes showed fewer ulcers, less chest pain, and longer lives than those who answered no…

In our experience, a hallmark of unhappy people is that they have a tendency to surround themselves with negative people – with people who do not believe in them or their abilities, people who put them down, discourage them from their goals, and treat them as though they will never amount to anything. Surrounded by these types of people, you eventually get a clear message that you are no good.

Are you surrounded by people who believe in you and give you positive messages?

People who encourage you to feel good about yourself? Or do you spend time with people who are constantly putting you down and down playing your ideas? Who are the five people you spend the most time with? Are they positive or negative? The reasons people surround themselves with negativity are easy to understand. People who grow up in negative environments often grow up to be negative.

Past relationships have a real impact on present ones.

If your past relationships were filled with negativity, chances are your present and future relationships will be the same unless you make a conscious effort to overcome the past.

For the complete article, go to Who Controls Your Mood?

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