Cornerstone Family Services > Resources > Blog > Articles by: Seth evans

Knowing When To Ask For Help

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Knowing When To Ask For Help

By ACA Counseling Corner Blog

For most of us, asking for help can often be difficult. Yes, asking for advice on planting a garden is easy. But for a serious issue, such as our mental health, we may find that we don’t want to admit to the problems we’re facing.

It’s not hard to understand why we may be reluctant. Admitting that we’re struggling or feeling  overwhelmed is like we’re admitting we’re weak or inadequate. Many of us learned as children that it’s important to be independent, strong and self-sufficient. That background makes it difficult to tell someone else that we’re really not okay.

The result is that people often decide to just try and do the best they can by themselves. In some cases things might just turn out fine, though there are no guarantees. But going it alone could involve considerable amounts of stress and anxiety, and may even lead to bigger and more serious problems.

Another common option is to turn to family or friends. This can be a good idea if those we trust with our problems and fears are truly understanding and are able to offer meaningful support and help. Sometimes they can, but often times they just can’t.

If you’re facing a difficult time or situation, something that’s causing depression, high stress and anxiety, and is making it difficult or impossible for you to enjoy life, it may be time to seek out professional help. Doing so can be a difficult choice, since it means asking for help from a stranger, and usually will involve a fee.

However, realize that a professional counselor is someone who has gone through extensive training and has many tools to help those feeling overwhelmed and unsure of  how to go on. Despite the way it’s often portrayed on TV, counseling is not something just for “crazy” people. Most counseling assists perfectly normal people who are simply facing issues and problems that are negatively affecting their lives…

Asking for help is never a sign of weakness but rather of the strength to recognize when your problems are real and that you need help to do something about them.

For help with your struggles contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Learning To Listen To The Silence

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Learning To Listen To The Silence

By ACA Counseling Corner Blog (Originally Posted February 5, 2018)

Most of us have surely noticed that today’s world is a pretty noisy place. From electronic gadgets, to the sounds of traffic, to just listening to the chatter of family, friends and co-workers, much of our day is probably filled with a great deal of sound.

This noise may seem a condition of modern life, but studies have found that purposely adding a little silence to our days may bring a number of benefits.

Adding some quiet can provide not just mental health benefits, but physiological ones as well. Turning off at least some of the noise has been shown to lower blood pressure, boost the body’s immune system and possibly even improve brain function. A recent article cited a 2013 study that found that two hours of silence helped create new brain cells in the areas linked to remembering, emotions and learning.

While most of us might find it hard to find two hours of silence, even two minutes of quiet time was found to relieve tension through positive changes in blood pressure and circulation in the brain.

Being surrounded by non-stop noise often results in feeling tense and uncomfortable, and might lead to a headache. Numerous studies have documented the harmful effects that noise pollution can have on our health and ability to think and concentrate.

Finding more quiet in your day doesn’t mean going to extremes or needing some totally silent environment. It simply requires making a conscious effort to escape from the everyday noise of your life for at least a short period, what professional counselors call mindfulness.

One suggestion is simply to get outdoors and enjoy a quiet walk with no specific purpose except to relax. Yes, there will still be sounds around you, but as you focus on yourself and your walk, they no longer become a primary distraction. Leave your headphones home, too. And if you walk with a companion, just agree to make it a silent journey.

Deep breathing exercises or quite mediation can also add periods of quiet to your life.  Numerous online sites offer instructions for either activity.  Or, just find a quiet corner in your home and settle in with a good book for a half hour.

None of us is ever going to live in a perfectly silent world, but finding a way of quieting at least some of the noise can offer real physical and psychological benefits.

If you would like help with slowing down or finding a healthy rhythm – including times of silence and quiet – please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Women’s Group for Anxiety and Depression

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Women’s Group for Anxiety and Depression

Join us for a community of support and encouragement while learning about helpful tools for battling the challenges of anxiety and depression.

 Mondays at 6:00 p.m.

March 12th through April 16th

 

Ground Floor, Conference Room

1115 Bethel Rd. Columbus, Ohio 43220

Led by Sabrina Ropp CT, Lauren Simms CT, and Rachel Varcho CT

Check us out at CornerstoneFamilyServices.org

How to Know if Your Spouse is Your Soul Mate

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How to Know if Your Spouse is Your Soul Mate

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

The concept of “soul mates” is an age-old, romantic idea that each of us is fated to be with one special someone with whom we connect on a spiritual level. Many people put a lot of stock into this concept, and it’s not unusual for married individuals to wonder whether or not their spouse is their soul mate. The problem is that this can lead us to doubt the marriages we’ve committed to.

When a young couple transitions from the “honeymoon phase” and into a more day-to-day dynamic, they might begin doubting or questioning whether this is the person they were ultimately meant to marry. Maybe they find that they don’t actually agree on everything–since young couples tend to start out imitating one another’s preferences, dreams, and wants in order to achieve a sameness and avoid conflict–or maybe they’ve begun to butt heads more frequently.

From a biblical perspective, marriage is a lifelong commitment you promise to honor. And once you’ve made those promises to one another, it’s up to you and your spouse to nurture the spiritual side of your marriage. Because ultimately, nurturing the spiritual aspect of your relationship will be what binds your souls closer together. In other words, our marriages are at their best when we’re tending to our souls.

The good news is, determining whether you’ve married your soul mate isn’t a matter of guesswork. You simply have to take care of your souls.

So how do couples nurture one another’s souls and, ultimately, create that soul-mate bond so many of us long for?

1. THEY CULTIVATE SPIRITUAL INTIMACY

Each of us has a deep, abiding longing in our souls for connection. Most young people believe finding their soul mate and getting married will fill that void–and for a while, it seems like it does. But eventually, the longing comes rushing back, and we begin to wonder, “Was this really the person I was supposed to marry?”

Even couples who have done “all the right things” to achieve a healthy marriage–premarital counseling, practicing effective communication and conflict resolution skills, achieving emotional balance, adjusting expectations, and more–feel this longing when their soul care is not in working order.

If you and your spouse aren’t working toward spiritual intimacy, you’ll continue feeling restless. But if you bond with one another on a soul level, you’ll experience a deeper connection and more profound meaning, both in your marriage and in your life. God calls soul mates to pursue and share spiritual meaning; in your partnership, the only way to discover that successfully is to pursue it together.

2. THEY SEE GOD IN THEIR MARRIAGE

As you seek the spiritual meaning of your marriage together, God will be revealed to you more fully. Marriage itself has a way of revealing God to us, and anchoring ourselves in faith is critical to both the health of our relationship and our soul connection.

Marriage is an earthly metaphor that represents God’s love for us. Isaiah 62:5 says, “[…] as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” The Lord’s church is called “The Bride of Christ” multiple times in the Bible, and Jesus’s love for His church is an additional mirroring of the love and connection God intends for our marriages.

When we see and acknowledge these parallels, we gain a greater understanding of the sort of connection God wants us to pursue. In order to achieve this connection, we must practice God’s examples of faithfulness and forgiveness for each other on a daily basis. Without these two critical components, marriage can’t last.

Faithfulness is the foundation on which we build abiding trust. If both spouses aren’t willing to be faithful, the marriage crumbles. As God is faithful, we also promise faithfulness to one another.

Forgiveness allows us to start each day fresh. When we live together, we’ll inevitably step on each other’s toes (whether we mean to or not). We have to be willing to forgive each other over and over; if not, we risk growing bitter and resentful toward each other. As God is forgiving, we promise to forgive each other.

As we practice and model the qualities of God in our own marriages, we’ll see Him more and more.

3. THEY NURTURE THE SOUL OF THEIR MARRIAGE

Nurturing the spiritual aspect of your marriage requires daily, intentional action. Couples who practice soul care in their marriages:

  • Worship together
  • Serve one another–and others
  • Pray together

By keeping God in the center of their lives, they bind themselves closer together on a soul level.

If you would like help in cultivating your relationship on the soul-mate level, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Communication Disconnect: Why it Can be Hard to Understand Your Spouse

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Communication Disconnect: Why it Can be Hard to Understand Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

It’s an age-old discussion we’ve all heard, time and time again: men and women find one another difficult to understand. We have heard countless stories from married couples who regularly (and habitually) confuse one another through their differing communication styles. Those differences can create a true disconnect in our relationships with one another.

The good news is that even though we might be puzzled by our spouses from time to time, we truly can work together to develop a greater understanding of where they’re coming from. Solving the mystery of the “gender gap” isn’t impossible; we’ll show you why.

MEN ARE ANALYZERS; WOMEN ARE SYMPATHIZERS

No, we don’t come from different planets; our motivations and goals through communication are just vastly different. And that can throw a wrench in an otherwise benign conversation, because our approach to communicating informs how we respond to one another.

Generally speaking, men tend to be highly analytical. They’re concerned with the cold, hard facts and laser-focused on problem-solving. Men also tend to be task-oriented and straight-to-the-point.

Conversely, women (in general) approach communication in a more sympathetic way. They’re intuitive and attuned to the emotional connections between themselves and the people they’re communicating with, and they tend to be more concerned with feelings before facts. (That’s not to say that facts don’t matter; but sometimes, it’s more important to women to process emotional realities first so that they can then tackle the facts).

WHERE’S THE DISCONNECT?

Communication between husbands and wives tends to break down when we try to impose our thinking pattern on one another. It’s easy to forget how differently we are wired, especially if we’re in the midst of conflict. The thing is, we don’t even have to be in the middle of a conflict to run across these issues.

For example, let’s say a wife approaches her husband to pour out her feelings…only to become frustrated that her husband tries to “fix” the problem. After all, she was probably looking for empathy and commiseration. She may have only wanted a listening ear so she could process her feelings verbally before deciding how to act next.

Naturally, her husband’s offer of a solution is frustrating because it’s not what she was looking for in the moment. And, to be expected, her husband is equally miffed because now, he thinks she doesn’t value his advice and problem-solving ability.

Does this conversation sound familiar?

Husband: “Don’t come to me if you don’t want help!”
Wife: “I wasn’t asking you to fix the problem. I just wanted to talk about it.”
Husband: “What good is talking about it if you’re not going to fix it?”
Wife: “I needed to process things, but this is why I can’t talk to you about anything! You never listen to me!”

Women often decode their husbands’ quick jump to a solution as impatience. They might assume their husbands don’t really care about what they have to say, when in reality the husband might have felt good about the solution he offered…only to come away feeling like his solution was brushed aside and devalued.

See how the cycle perpetuates itself?

TIPS FOR BRIDGING THE GENDER-COMMUNICATION GAP

Our Love Talk curriculum delves deep into communication dynamics between husbands and wives, plus gives you the tools you need to decode one another and build a greater sense of understanding in your marriage. For now, though, we’ll leave you with a few quick tips.

For women (from Leslie):

  • Men don’t tend to identify their emotions as quickly as we do, so we can’t expect them to
  • We tend to focus more on experiences, fears, and feelings, while men focus on theories, concepts, and ideas
  • Don’t expect your man to communicate like your girlfriends do; they just aren’t wired that way

For men (from Les):

  • Women tend to focus on the present and how they feel about it, while we like to think toward the future
  • We want the report; they want the rapport
  • Don’t expect your wife to detail “the plan” with all the steps if you’re not taking the time to connect with her emotionally.

Keep in mind, these are general guidelines. While men tend to want results, goals, and efficiency and women want harmony and sharing, sometimes, the dynamics can be flipped. Maybe you’re an analytical woman who’s married to an emotionally-driven man. Or perhaps you’re a sympathetically-driven man who has a more solution-oriented wife. Whatever the case, rest assured the two of you can decode your communication styles for more effective communication–and a more harmonious life together.

 

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

When Not to Talk: 7 Ways to Decide Whether Silence is Best (Part 2)

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When Not to Talk: 7 Ways to Decide Whether Silence is Best (Part 2) 

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue guards his soul from troubles.” – Proverbs 21:23

Being silent when you and your spouse are dealing with an unresolved issue is a difficult choice to make, but sometimes, it’s the best choice for the health of your marriage. Last week, we began a two-part series on holding your tongue–and gave you three questions to ask yourself that will help guide your communication decisions. Today, we’re sharing four more.

4. IS ONE OF YOU BEING UNREASONABLE? (OR BOTH?)

When we’re debating issues that are highly emotional for one or both of us, it’s easy to slide into a place of overreaction. When we allow our emotions to govern our discussions, we can quickly become unreasonable–and it’s almost impossible to have a constructive conversation with someone you can’t reason with. Emotionally reactive, unreasonable interactions are rife with black-and-white thinking, generalized statements, and hurtful remarks, so it’s best to end these conversations until you’re both in a more receptive frame of mind.

Resolution Tip: If your spouse is being unreasonable, stop feeding into their emotional reaction. Instead, end the conversation with a polite statement like, “I’m going to give you space now,” then stick to it. Chances are, your spouse will come back around after they’ve cooled down.

5. DOES ONE OF YOU NEED SOME TIME TO THINK?

Have you two been going in circles around a big decision that means a lot to both of you? Even though you might feel very invested in a particular outcome, you need to determine whether your spouse needs a little more time to think about it–maybe more time than you’d like. Don’t push them; give them space and time to consider the options before you. Pressuring your spouse is only going to make the decision-making process more difficult…that could drag it out longer. If you resist the urge to nag or hound your spouse, you’ll be more likely to reach a compromise (that’s favorable for both of you) more quickly.

Resolution Tip: If you’re the spouse who needs a little extra time to think, end the ongoing conversations by saying something like, “That’s interesting. I’d like to think it over and let you know in a few days.” If your spouse is the one who needs time, honor their wishes and step back.

6. HAVE YOU BEEN A BROKEN RECORD ABOUT THIS ISSUE?

We know how it goes; your spouse probably has a few personality traits, quirks, or habits that really get on your nerves. And no matter how many times you’ve asked her to stop throwing her dirty clothes in the floor–or “reminded” him to fill up the gas tank instead of leaving it on empty–nothing seems to be changing. Or maybe you’ve gone round and round a particular conflict that you just can’t seem to resolve, and you’re exhausted. If you’ve been as repetitive as a broken record, maybe it’s time to take a break and give yourself some time to rest.

Resolution Tip: Decide on a set amount of time during which you’re going to drop the issue and not bring it up again. It could be three months, or it could be a year–the point is to give some space to the problem. In the meantime, figure out some ways you can alleviate the distress you’re feeling; for example, if your wife throws her laundry in the floor, chuck it in the hamper yourself. You might be surprised how much better you feel when the issue is resolved, even if it’s not resolved in the way you originally preferred.

7. ARE BOTH OF YOU READY TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION?

As with many of our interactions, anxiety can play a big part in propelling us into conversation–even when one of us isn’t in the right frame of mind to tackle the issue at that moment. Husbands, don’t try to start a deep or weighty conversation when your wife is immersed in a work assignment; and wives, if your husband is wrangling the kids at bedtime, it might be best to hold that thought until the little ones are settled.

Resolution Tip: Wait to discuss what’s on your mind until there are no pressing distractions or obligations demanding your immediate attention. Let your spouse finish what they’re in the middle of, then ask if it’s a good time to have that conversation.

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

When Not to Talk: 7 Ways to Decide Whether Silence is Best

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When Not to Talk: 7 Ways to Decide Whether Silence is Best

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” – Proverbs 10:19

Communication is one of the most important and essential building blocks to a healthy marriage and lifelong love. But sometimes, we can complicate the situations we face with our spouse by over-communicating–and it’s times like these when we need to be able to read each situation and decide whether or not we should continue talking about it.

Silence can be a balm when we’re dealing with issues that are highly emotional, unresolved, or which have brought us to a stalemate with our spouse. Choosing to not speak–to refrain from pushing each other for answers or resolutions–can help us solve problems that might have seemed unsolvable before. Creating that space for one another can mean the difference between a solution and a long-term gridlock.

So how do you know when it’s time to give a topic a rest? We’ve compiled 7 questions to ask yourself when one or both of you has run a subject into the ground. With a little time and space, you’ll (hopefully!) be able to put your heads back together and land on a solution that works for both of you.

Let’s get started.

1. ARE YOU TWO ALL TALK, BUT NO ACTION?

Have you talked circles around what needs to be done to solve a particular problem…yet taken no action toward solving it? Over-analyzing, over-thinking, and over-discussing an issue can lead to “analysis paralysis”–in other words, you get stuck in a proverbial spin cycle that keeps you talking, but never results in you taking charge and taking action. And unfortunately, you find yourselves with more pressure and less energy to do the things that need to be done.

Resolution Tip: When you find yourselves over-analyzing, hit the brakes on the talk and spark momentum by saying something like, “Alright, we’ve got this covered. Let’s make it happen.” End the spin and put that energy into motion!

2. ARE YOU GIVING TOO MUCH UNSOLICITED ADVICE?

We love our spouses so much, it can be tempting to try to “fix” their bad habits by offering too much unwanted critique. Maybe we don’t like how they cook, their clutter, or their propensity for being tardy all the time, so we say little things like, “It would be so much better if you could (fill in the blank),” or “You’ll make us late if you (fill in the blank).” This can make your spouse feel judged and inadequate.

Resolution Tip: If you absolutely must share an opinion or piece of advice, try saying something to make it more palatable, like, “I know you didn’t ask for my advice, but can’t I tell you where my brain’s going?” But for the most part, try to stop inserting your opinion at every turn because it’s not helping (we promise).

3. DO YOU REMEMBER THE PROBLEM YOU WERE DISCUSSING IN THE FIRST PLACE?

We’ve all been there–you get into a majorly heated discussion with your spouse about one thing, only to experience an avalanche of other topics and issues that are completely unrelated to what started this whole conversation in the first place. Maybe a discussion about which countertops to choose for the kitchen remodel just deteriorated into a character assassination competition involving the in-laws. Whatever the case, there’s no way you can resolve anything when you’re out in left field arguing over an unrelated topic.

Resolution Tip: When your conversation derails into unrelated territory, take a time-out by saying, “Hey, what are we doing? We need to cool down.” (Because wait–what was the first problem, again? We can’t even remember.)

(Tips 4-7 coming in a future post.)

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

3 Ways to Overcome Emotional Distance in Your Marriage

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3 Ways to Overcome Emotional Distance in Your Marriage

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Lately, you feel like you just can’t connect with your spouse. Maybe he’s not listening to you, or maybe she’s lost interest in activities you used to enjoy together. You might fight a lot—or avoid communicating to minimize conflict. Perhaps you feel like the kids have monopolized your or your spouse’s time to the point that you aren’t getting quality time together anymore.

Whatever the case, lately, you’re feeling more and more disappointed in your relationship with your spouse. You’re lonely and discontent, and you’re wondering whether the two of you might be happier apart, rather than staying married and slogging through each day with things the way they are.

It’s upsetting and downright discouraging to go through seasons in your marriage where you and your spouse feel more like roommates than soulmates. The reality is that it’s totally normal to experience times in your life that feel this way, and there are a lot of possible reasons for it: a new baby, having small children at home, work-related stress, demanding or unusual schedules, health issues, caring for an aging parent, unresolved conflict, and more.

The good news is that you can absolutely overcome seasons of emotional disconnect in your marriage…and come out on the other side feeling closer than ever. The trick is getting over the hump, making it through the challenging days, and staying committed to each other. Today, we’ll show you three ways to overcome seasons of emotional distance in your marriage.

1. REALIZE EVERY MARRIAGE HAS PEAKS AND VALLEYS

Even though the feeling of distance you’re experiencing with your spouse is incredibly disconcerting, rest assured it’s very common for couples to go through times in their marriage when they just don’t feel close. While that doesn’t make the experience any easier, it gives you the perspective you need to weather the storm until it passes.

We often make the mistake of thinking that how our marriage feels today is how it’s always going to feel. The truth is, love is always evolving; even if you feel some distance today, the dynamic between you could change for the better very quickly. It’s worth it to hold on, stick to the commitment you’ve made to one another, and work on getting your relationship back on track.

2. TUNE IN TO HOW YOUR SPOUSE BEST CONNECTS

Sometimes when we’re feeling disconnected, it’s easy to get wrapped up in how we want our spouse to connect to us. What we tend to forget is that how we want to connect might not be something our spouse will respond to. You and your partner might simply speak different love languages, and it will be up to you to tune into their language and communicate in it in order to reignite that spark.

For example, women generally want to have deep, meaningful conversations in order to connect to their husbands. But in our experience, men tend to be less likely to respond well to their wives’ need for that conversation, especially during a season of disconnect. If you’re a wife who’s feeling lonely and wants to be closer to her husband, it may help for you to focus on joining your husband in shared activities. Men tend to respond well and feel more connected to their wives through shared activities, so go somewhere he enjoys going or participate in an activity that’s important to him, and you’ll be more likely to get connected with him again on a much deeper level.

Husbands, if you’re feeling disconnected from your wives, open yourselves up for genuine conversation. Your wife will be more receptive and responsive to you if you’re intentionally connecting with her in this way. Even if it’s way outside your comfort zone, offering this gift to your wife will go a long way toward restoring the intimacy you’ve been missing.

3. GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND TAKE ACTION

When we’re going through a “roommate season” where we feel disconnected from one another, we sometimes get lost in our own circular thought patterns about what we’re facing. But when we ruminate, we become immobilized. We get stuck in our own expectations of what we think closeness and emotional intimacy should look like, and that can blind us from what we really need to be doing in order to reconnect.

Take one step at a time, one day at a time. Even a small positive change in your marriage can make a tremendous difference in how you feel about your relationship. Hang on tight, keep meeting each other where you are, and you can come out on the other side of this as a stronger, happier couple.

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

7 Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Next Anniversary

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7 Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Next Anniversary

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Your wedding anniversary is a time of year for you and your spouse to deepen your connection and revive feelings that may have been overridden by jobs, everyday stress, and outside obligations. It’s the perfect time to renew your commitment to each other and reflect on your successes–and maybe even the inevitable failures and hard times you’ve overcome together.

When it comes to celebrating your anniversary, the sky’s the limit. There are countless ways to make your day special, but sometimes it can feel difficult to settle on an idea that does justice to your love and the life you’ve built together. Today, we’re sharing seven creative ideas to make your next anniversary especially memorable.

1. TURN YOUR VOWS INTO ART

Did you and your spouse write your own vows for your wedding? Etch them in your memory forever by turning them into a piece of art for your home. You can have your vows printed, painted, or engraved on a number of different surfaces like canvas, wood, and more (do it yourself if you’re creative!). Then, hang them in your home to remind yourselves of the carefully-crafted words you wrote and recited to promise your lives to each other.

2. RECREATE YOUR WEDDING CAKE (AND PUNCH, TOO!)

There’s never a bad time for cake–especially on your anniversary. You and your spouse can make your own cake in the flavors you chose for your wedding day (or have a friend help you if neither of you are especially skilled in the kitchen). If you have a recipe for your reception punch, you can mix that up, too–then enjoy it from your his and hers stem glasses (if you kept them!) while you savor the cake.

3. MAKE A MEMORY BOOK TOGETHER

Whether you break out the photo prints or prefer a digital album, making a memory book of any sort is a great way to recall happy memories together. Buy yourselves a new album and get to work rearranging your photos, or use an online printing service to make a photo book that showcases your favorite memories from engagement, your wedding day, and beyond.

4. REVISIT SPECIAL PLACES

Maybe you’ve been married for twenty years…maybe just for one. No matter how long you’ve been together, a great anniversary adventure for you might involve re-creating your first date or revisiting the place where your spouse proposed. Focus on places and experiences that have been significant to you in your relationship. If you no longer live near those places or can’t easily travel to them, start new traditions together in a special place where you are now.

5. RENEW YOUR VOWS

Renewing your vows on your anniversary can be a meaningful way to verbalize your lifelong commitment to each other. You can take the traditional route–or you could jump outside the box and write new vows to one another. Are there things you’d include today that you didn’t think of when you first wrote your vows? Now that you’ve shared a life together (for however many years), there are things you’ll love and appreciate about one another that you might not have been tuned into during the early years. Include those special things in your new vows that will carry you forward into the next phases of life together.

6. CELEBRATE WITH YOUR FRIENDS

All anniversaries are milestones, but depending on your own story, some anniversaries feel more significant than others. Have you just come through a really tough season together? Have you reached a goal you’ve been dreaming of and planning for, for years? Are you healing from marital issues or just simply celebrating the wonderful years you’ve had? Throw a mini reception and invite your friends. It doesn’t have to elaborate or expensive–but sharing a little cake and punch (or finger foods) with your closest friends and family to celebrate your years together could be a nice touch for your upcoming anniversary.

7. MAKE A SHADOWBOX OF YOUR WEDDING MEMORIES

Many of us have wedding trinkets tucked away in storage somewhere–programs, printed napkins, gloves, little sachets of bird seed, the bride’s garter, pieces of keepsake jewelry, dried flowers you’ve carefully stored over the years. Why not create a shadowbox together to put those mementos on display? Include one or two of your favorite wedding photographs and you’ll have something beautiful to enjoy together for years to come.

 

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

5 Ways to Be a Good Listener for Your Spouse

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5 Ways to Be a Good Listener for Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Opening your heart to your spouse—and nurturing theirs—requires listening well. With so many different issues, obligations, devices, and people pulling at us from every direction, it can be difficult to slow down and truly listen to one another. Listening can be pleasant, but sometimes it’s downright hard. Sometimes, you might want to tune out and lose yourself in your favorite pastime instead—or dive into the list of to-do items you still need to cross off before the day is over.

But to have a healthy, thriving marriage, it’s critical to truly listen to your spouse with empathy and generosity. Today, we’re sharing five ways you can be a good listener for your spouse.

1. LISTEN WITH EMPATHY

When you practice empathy, you’re putting yourself in your spouse’s shoes and seeing things through their eyes. Whether you’re trying to resolve a conflict or just simply listening to your spouse talk about their day, it’s beneficial to both of you to listen with empathy when your spouse speaks to you. For you, it gives you a window into their world and their perspective. For your spouse, knowing that you’re listening from an empathic vantage point helps them feel secure.

Maybe your spouse needs to vent about work, and normally, you tune out when they start talking about their tough day or their challenging project. Instead of switching your mind off while they talk, try to see the events of the day through their eyes, and in the context of your life. Have you been dealing with problems at home, like financial issues, trouble with the kids, or taking care of an ailing parent? Contextualizing your whole life along with what’s happening at your spouse’s job will help you understand the level of pile-on they’re dealing with.

2. LISTEN FOR EMOTION

When your spouse needs to talk to you about something—especially if it’s something hard—it’s easy to get wrapped up and carried away by your own emotions on the topic. In that case, you might respond to your spouse in a totally inappropriate way in your attempt to alleviate the difficult emotions that come up for you. Instead, take a minute to listen for what your spouse might be feeling. This type of intentional listening goes hand-in-hand with empathy.

Once you’ve identified what your spouse is feeling—whether it’s anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, or excitement—you can adjust your responses based on their emotional state. It gives you an extra chance to check yourself before you say or do something that might exacerbate the emotional state they’re in. When our emotions go into a tailspin, it can be difficult to keep communication healthy.

3. LISTEN WITHOUT BIAS

You’ve both got your opinions, and it’s hard to let those opinions go in favor of simply listening to one another. Listening without bias is helpful when you have opposite stances on certain issues, or when you’re locked in a stalemate during a fight. Set your opinions aside for long enough to hear what your spouse is saying, then practice your empathy skills to try to understand why.

This doesn’t mean you have to change your opinion to match your spouse’s. What it does mean is that your spouse deserves to be heard, and you can’t truly hear if you’re filtering everything they say through your own bias.

4. LISTEN LOVINGLY

When you’re communicating with your spouse, it can be helpful to use loving gestures and body language to let them know you care about what they have to say. It can be as simple as holding eye contact and nodding to affirm what they’re telling you. You could also reach out to touch them or hold hands. Turn your body toward them, or even stop what you’re doing and just sit with them if that’s what they need.

While you may be able to go about your business and have a conversation at the same time (and that can be okay sometimes), there are going to be times where you need to just put everything down and focus all your attention on your spouse. Turn off the TV, put down your phone or other devices, forget the to-do list for a little while, and give your spouse loving affirmation through eye contact and touch.

5. LISTEN GENEROUSLY

Your spouse needs the gift of your time and attention. It’s hard to take time out of our busy lives to generously give our energy to listening when we have so much to do every day, but communicating openly is key to a healthy marriage. When you listen generously, your spouse will feel secure in coming to you with their concerns, hopes, and fears.

If you would like more help with listening and communicating well with your spouse, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.