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Soulmate

How To Be a Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul

It’s a continual process to balance how to be a soulmate without losing your soul. It takes attitude changes and pressurized reality to learn how to balance between “we” and “me.”

When we travel by plane, we’re used to hearing the flight attendant’s safety instructions. He or she usually says something like this.

“If there’s a loss of cabin pressure, the panels above your seat will open, and oxygen masks will drop down. . . Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others.”

If we attempt to help others before adjusting our own mask, we may end up passing out. Then we can’t help anyone. We need to take that same advice for our relationships.

We need to care for our own soul-needs before attempting to care for others. Click To Tweet

It takes attitude changes to be a soulmate

Marriages are like a pressurized cabin at various times. They are not so even-keeled. We experience turbulence and high altitudes. Storms and fair weather affect our differences. Our ears pop. The ride gets rough. We’re required to stay in our seats with seatbelt securely fastened at times.

Early on in romance, our differences are exciting, novel, and energizing. After marriage, and sometimes before, our differences can become outright annoying. That’s when they can escalate into major conflicts.

Other life transitions expose the soul storms of a marriage. Raising children, career development, loss, and core differences create turbulence in life. But we can get beyond messy marriages.

Many Christian couples vow, “The two of us are one.” It doesn’t take long to realize one or both are subconsciously saying things like this.

We two are one. And yes, I’m the one.

Or, in a patriarchal or what some consider a “biblical” marriage, a bride may live her life like this.

We two are one. And, yes, he’s the one.

As years go by, both lose opportunities to develop their character. They lose their individual selves as well as the relationship. One of them becomes invisible. The other one gets caught up in self-delusions. Neither has insights into their own souls.

Neither one attempts to adjust their own oxygen mask. They’re too busy trying to improve, fix, or help the other. They become bitter, resentful, angry and resistant. Their world gets smaller. They become stuck. Or, figuratively, they pass out.

Life transitions expose the soul storms of a marriage. Raising children, career development, loss, and core differences create turbulence in life. Click To Tweet

It takes pressurized reality to be a soulmate

It takes two to honor each other and respect one another’s differences. And it still takes two to do that in a relationship. Here’s points to consider.

  1. Conflict is necessary for personal and relationship awareness.
  2. Don’t avoid it or run from it.
  3. Don’t criticize your partner or try to win them over to your side.
  4. Instead, be open. Listen to understand. There are more than two ways to resolve a conflict.
  5. Seek counseling or outside help to resolve resolvable conflicts. And to adjust to unresolvable conflicts.

World-renown researcher, Dr. John Gottman, gives us clarity. Sixty-nine percent of happily married couples have unresolved conflict. The difference between the “masters” and the “disasters” are this. The “masters” are the ones who adjust and accept their partner’s differences. The “disasters” allow perpetual resentment and negativity to grow.

Here are ideas on how to adjust our own soul mask

  1. Do breathe deeply when you feel reactive, irritable, angry, or triggered by your spouse. Slow down. You’ll get clarity when you do.
  2. Be curious about what’s going on inside of you. Ask yourself, “What’s unfinished in my life? Why did this situation or comment make me feel this way? What is the meaning I created from that interaction?”
  3. To increase self-awareness, reflect on this question: “How is my spouse experiencing me?”
  4. See your spouse as a gift from God. When you do, you can develop an attitude of thankfulness. You’ll nurture your soul and grow your character. Be willing to accept your spouses’ issues as helping yoube more understanding.
It takes two to honor each other and respect one another’s differences. Click To Tweet

The cabin pressure of your marriage will change. Those oxygen masks will drop. Always adjust yours first. Balance the “we” and “me” in romance and marriage. Your beautiful life is worth keeping your soul intact.

I’m writing more on the steps for balancing the “we” and “me” in romance and marriage. So, let’s stay in touch in the meantime.

For now, sign up for updates and preview on my new book

Beyond Messy Marriages: Divine Invitations Toward Your Authentic Self

 

Feature Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

Marital Growth

One Thing You Must Know About Marital Growth

One thing you must know about marital growth is this. There’s a difference between closeness and intimacy.

We’re all designed for relationships. We may be single, married, widowed or divorced. But when it comes to marriage, there’s one thing you must know about marital growth – the difference between closeness and intimacy.

We desire to be loved by another human being in spite of our flaws. Yet we balk at knowing and being known. It’s risky because our spouse may not accept us. As a result, we keep an emotional distance to hide our vulnerability. Or we’ve been authentic in the past and it wasn’t worth it.

We desire to be loved by another human being in spite of our flaws. Click To Tweet

Marital Growth Can Heal Our Childhood Pain

It’s during our early experiences that we learn how to protect ourselves from pain. We learn ways to hide our real selves. The ways we hide keep us from being intimate in our marriages. Here’s an example.

I learned to hide my vulnerability when I was “held back” in the second grade. Our family moved in the middle of the school year. I had difficulty reading at grade level. A diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder didn’t exist then, and while I was diagnosed as an adult, it didn’t stop me as a child from believing something was wrong with me.

“You’re eight and only in the second grade?” kids would say.

“Yes,” I said trying to make light of it. “I was held back.”

“You flunked,” they laughed at me and pointed their fingers. “You flunked,” they said over and over again. I wanted to hide. And I learned to keep my past a secret. Instead, I pretended to be a year younger than I was. It was too painful to admit I “flunked.” As most children do, I chose to hide. I learned to keep my distance from people who would cause me pain.

We all need to grow beyond our childhood pain. A growing and partnered marriage is the way to do it. Otherwise, we fall into stagnation and mediocrity. But we long for energy and vibrancy.

Marital Growth Needs a Healthy Dose of “Closeness”

An example of being close is cuddling up on the couch with your loved one. As a couple, you’re watching a Netflix movie or an episode of your favorite TV show. You share a bowl of buttered popcorn. Physical touch between the two of you adds warm fuzzy feelings. It doesn’t take effort for either of you. It’s easy and comfortable.

To clarify, closeness could be:

  • Enjoying time on vacation together, whether it’s a cruise or a camping trip.
  • Having fun during a shared activity.
  • Comfortable silence between husband and wife.
  • Predictability of routines.
  • Finishing the sentences of another.
  • Knowing what the other wants on their pizza.

Being close because of shared experiences is a vital feature of marital growth. Yet, every marriage needs to be intimate. And I’m not talking about sex. Here’s what I mean.

Marital Growth Needs a Healthy Dose of “Intimate”

Most people think of intimacy as sex. But that’s not all it is. In some cases, sex is the opposite of intimacy. It can be a facade for real intimacy. Close physical connection through sex can be like super-glue for married couples. But it’s not enough. Authentic knowing of another comes through vulnerable conversations.

Here are examples that can apply to either spouse.

When a wife tells her husband she’s attracted to a male co-worker, she’s being vulnerable. As partners, they could be stronger by breaking the power of secret attraction. But she also bears the risk of rejection, insecurity or judgment. The husband could accuse, misunderstand or resent his wife. Even though she chooses integrity, he may reject her vulnerability.

But when her husband welcomes her internal struggles, they can strengthen their union. They can show up as partners for each other. And it takes two to do it.

Vulnerability plus acceptance equals intimacy. Trustworthiness increases. The marriage grows a stronger bond. They know each other’s weaknesses and have each other’s back. Intimacy invites partnership between the two. They both fertilize their unconditional love for each other. They grow through intimacy.

Intimacy in dating is seeing the other person as worthy of dignity and respect. It’s honoring the other’s differences. Resist the attitude of “what can my girlfriend do for me” to “how can I honor her?” Choose to nurture a friendship before a romance. Be willing to grow through relationship.

Intimacy requires two people in the relationship to choose to be real. One may pave the way for the other, but both are willing. Reciprocity is key.

Intimacy requires two people in the relationship to choose to be real. Click To Tweet

Marital Intimacy Is:

  • Leaning into giving and receiving love when you’d rather run away.
  • The confession of a shameful past to allow the other to forgive.
  • Saying a heartfelt, “I’m sorry” without the “but” or “if” words.
  • Letting go of bitterness, resentment, or cynicism.
  • Being willing to risk comfort and choosing to live in truth.

Remember, a growing and partnered marriage needs both comfort and intimacy. Our risk of intimacy and acceptance by our spouse helps us overcome the pain of childhood. When we reciprocate, we can grow our marriages with energy and vibrancy.

Questions to Ponder about Marital Growth

How are your relationships close?

What does the word “intimacy” mean to you?

What do you think of with the word “vulnerability?”

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Photo: by Toa Heftiba through Unsplash.com

Turkey

How Not To Be A Turkey On Thanksgiving Day

 

Some of us dread gathering with extended family on Thanksgiving Day. Rather than focus on gratitude and enjoying the meal, we end up feeling like roasted turkey. But it doesn’t have to be that way when we learn how not to be a turkey on Thanksgiving.

Holidays are strong reminders of the way things used to be. We gather with those who know our quirks, history, and points of irritation. Relationship patterns are so automatic that we don’t realize our part in creating the mess.

Even the anticipation can be stressful. We’re uncomfortable with reminders of loss. Divorce, death, or manipulative relationships can make the tradition of gratitude difficult for some and unbearable for others. We think thoughts like, I wished we could just skip these next six weeks.

Relationship patterns are so automatic that we don't realize our part in creating the mess. Click To Tweet

Thanksgiving can trigger our grief and negative thoughts. Emotional and mental energy depletes us from the warm fuzzies of gratitude.

Here are six practices you can do to make Thanksgiving a time of gratitude.

1. Practice adequate rest

Most of us disregard the basic foundation of our mental, emotional, and relational health. We push ourselves to make things just right to impress our guests. Our ability to handle stress is depleted without a consistent habit of seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Adequate cycles of sleep provide our brains the fresh charge of energy for clarity and awareness. Without proper sleep, we’re not able to cope well in stressful situations.

2. Practice deep belly breaths

Slow deep belly breaths help calm impulsive words and actions. It only takes ninety seconds of deep breathing to slow the fight/flight/freeze area of the brain that lights up when we’re triggered. We’re able to access rational thoughts when someone says a mean or hurtful comment. Ancient wisdom teaches us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. (New Testament – James 1:19)

Most people unintentionally harm others because of their own unhealed emotional wounds. With rest and deep breathing, you can control your reactions. You can stop your part of a charged incident.

Deep belly breaths give you ability to reason beyond reactivity. You create neuropathways in your brain that opens up awareness. You’ll be aware of your own body reactions. Emotional triggers affect both our bodies and our minds.

Quiet the racing thoughts and stories in your head that may not be true. Even if they are true, deep belly breaths slow you down enough to gain insight into yourself, the other person, and the incident.

Make it a point to process later through journal-writing or an appointment with your therapist. Your well-being depends on you keeping resentment from building.

Deep belly breaths give you ability to reason beyond reactivity. Click To Tweet

3. Practice your smile

We have mirror neurons in our brains that aid our social connections. When we interact with others, we reflect their gestures, tone, body posture, and behaviors. They reflect us. We smile back when they smile at us. It’s like looking in a mirror.

A smile has the power to disarm another’s frown. Some of us were born smiling while others naturally have stoic faces. A person who looks grumpy might really be concentrating. Or they may be unaware of how they appear to others. Be conscious of how others see you. Practice smiling around those who frown. See if their frown softens with your smile.

A smile has the power to disarm another's frown. Click To Tweet

4. Practice accepting change

Any change is difficult as we thrive on comfort and security. When our loved one has died, or we’ve experienced divorce, or we’ve moved our family across the country, it’s important to grieve. How we accept change is unique to each of us.

We are meant to grow and change throughout our lives. People, relationships, and circumstances are continually changing. Welcome the reality that our lives will never be stagnant. They’re not suppose to be. It’s part of our humanity to grieve the loss of a loved one and celebrate the birth of new life.

5. Practice what belongs to you

It’s important to know what’s yours and what belongs to another. Your emotions are yours alone. All of us are responsible for our own resilience, emotions, and decisions.

  • Avoid fighting another person’s emotional battles.
  • Let go of another person’s loneliness, anxiety, or uncomfortable feelings.
  • Recognize when others take on the victim role expecting you to be their savior.
  • Spend less time with those who drain you.

Give yourself permission to let go of others’ expectations of you. You were only meant to handle your own emotions. Others are responsible for themselves.

6. Practice the present moment

When you practice the present moment, you’re living that moment to it’s fullest capacity. This could be the single most empowering advice for us all. Hyperfocus on the unfinished business of the past or continuous worry of the future steals away the only time we have in the moment.

Imagine yourself standing still in the middle of a stream. You’re aware of the past like the water flowing toward you from upstream. You’re aware of the future like water flowing beyond you downstream. You feel the cool stream flow around you. Yet, you’re standing still in the present moment.

Don’t be the turkey

You now know how not to be a turkey on Thanksgiving. Begin your six practices of gratitude.

1. Practice rest
2. Practice belly breaths
3. Practice smiles
4. Practice accepting change
5. Practice what belongs to you
6. Practice the present moment

Your next steps:

 

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Relationship

The Secret to a Healthy Relationship Is Not What You Think

The secret to a healthy relationship is not what you think. What do most people say? You guessed it. Communication with a capital “C.” But communication is not the secret to healthy relationships. Click here for audio version. 

Once you know the difference between communication and dialogue you’ll agree. Dialogue is the real secret to a healthy relationship. And it’s not natural.

Dialogue is the real secret to a healthy relationship. And it's not natural. Click To Tweet

Normal communication can easily turn into power/control situations.

If you were a compliant kid growing up, then you may be like me. You’re easily persuaded.

I have no problem buying products online. I’ve listened to webinars and taken more online classes than I can count. Marketers convince us there’s a limited time only, or the price will never be this low again. Persuasion is a powerful communication method.

If you’re naturally strong-willed, you won’t be easily persuaded. Instead, you spend hours of research before purchases. You’re skeptical of marketers and you have no trouble with being assertive.

Because you’re so confident, your conversations can mimic a sales pitch without realizing it. You might even be able to sell and snowball to an Eskimo.

In relationship, one person is great at persuasion while the other is easily influenced. The compliant one buys the “bill of goods” and later, has buyer’s regret. After time, this communication pattern in intimate relationships feel manipulative. Trust is weakened and isolation replaces connection.

Communication patterns feel manipulative when you try to convince the other person. Click To Tweet

Every one of us desire to be heard and understood in our intimate relationships. That’s why we need to know dialogue.

What Relationship Dialogue is not:

Dialogue is not debate.

Some of us know what it’s like to be on a debate team in high school. We’ve all watched political debates. Neither party is open to the other’s viewpoint. Their only purpose is to win the hearers over to their side. One ends up being a winner and the other a loser.

When marital communication is a debate, one spouse loses. Who wants to sleep with a loser? In reality, both lose.

Dialogue is not discussion.

Some of us call arguing “heated discussions.” Both people try to change the other’s mind, or belief, or behavior. Neither one is listening to the other.

Think of the suffix of the word discussion and how it’s similar to concussion. Discussion is to a relationship as a football player is to a head injury.  One person suffers.

What Relationship Dialogue is: 

Dialogue is a form of communication in which two people walk away feeling heard, understood, and validated. It requires skills of listening. Dialogue is two people willing to slow down and hear what the other is saying.

Dialogue is a form of communication in which two people walk away feeling heard, understood, and validated. Click To Tweet

It requires two people willing to bring attitudes of openness, growth and curiosity. They desire to honor the others’ differences.

Dialogue seems to happen naturally early on in a romantic relationship. Both are curious and open with the other. Over time, attitudes change. Dialogue eventually migrates to debate or discussion.

Secrets to a Healthy Relationship 

Whether you’re a master at persuasion or can buy anything online, it’s crucial to learn dialogue. We now realize the secret to a healthy relationship is not communication with a capital “C.”  It’s dialogue which takes a special skill of listening. Dialogue is the superglue that holds us together. Dialogue connects us in our desire to be seen, heard, and understood.

Three Choices in your next step to a Healthy Relationship

  1. Go to my FaceBook page to watch short videos about dialogue.
  2. Answer this question and comment on this post: Are you assertive or easily influenced in your relationship?
  3. Sign up for a free 20 minute consultation to begin learning dialogue skills.

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Improve your marriage

How Long Does It Take To Improve Your Marriage

When it comes to couples counseling, we all want to know how much time, energy, and money it will take for lasting improvements. A common question is: How long does it take to improve your marriage through relationship counseling?

It takes more than 21 days to improve your marriage

The 21-days-to-make-a-habit advice has been a myth all this time with no scientific backing. Through Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever program, he quoted that it really takes an average of 66 days depending on the particular habit.

In my work with clients, I tell them it takes 90 days for new neuro-pathways in the brain to form new associations. Different ways of thinking, behaving, and relating takes consistent practice. Just as regular workouts in the gym train our muscles, our intentional thoughts and behaviors train our neuro-connections.

Whether you’re learning a foreign language or ballroom dance steps, it takes about 90 days to learn a new skill. Click To Tweet

Your idea of empathic communication with your spouse may be as challenging as learning a foreign language. If you can’t keep a beat to a radio pop song, you may initially be just as clumsy when you learn dialogue skills with your partner. But you can learn. Your brain is designed to learn new things.

Muscle memory and mental associations in our brains are made to connect.

We are all wired to grow, connect, and continue growing in relationships. Click To Tweet

Beyond the counseling stereo-type to improve your marriage

My work with couples is different than the stereo-type of what you see on movies or TV. You may imagine a couple sitting on the couch together side by side, looking to the counselor to equally hear both partners’ sides. The therapist is neutral, balanced, and unbiased. (sounds a bit un-human to me)

Although a first session may look like that, Imago Therapy is different. Instead, the couple sits across from each other face to face. The therapist sits “outside” their relationship, coaching them with speaker-listener skills. With gentle guidance, encouragement and awareness, they learn how to make the space between them emotionally safe.

How many counseling sessions to improve your marriage?

“How many sessions does it take?” you ask.

The answer varies. For some it’s twelve weekly ninety minute session. For others, it’s weekly for the first month, and twice a month for the next 90 days. Beyond that, ever other month check ups are a great plan. Some may only need six month check-ups similar to regular dental cleanings.

Beyond the neuro-pathway factors other considerations are these:

  • Are you in a crisis or just need a tune up?
  • Do you both have an attitude of I’ll-do-anything-it-takes?
  • How motivated are you as a couple to follow through in-between session?

In order to begin dialogue skills to improve your marriage, keep in mind it takes about 90 days. It will take additional time to master it for continual growth, intimacy, and connection. And don’t forget the periodic booster sessions to keep growing toward each other.

Questions to improve your marriage

On a scale of 1-10 how full is your love tank?

How do you feel in each other’s presence?

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