Love Conquers All – Or Does It?

Newly engaged couples are so much fun to watch.  They are very tender with each other, they smile when they speak to each other, they care about the other person’s opinion, and they are optimistic about life in general.  Best of all, they believe the other person is perfect and their love will last forever, that somehow they have the ideal type of love and their love will conquer all problems life tossed their way.  This is what is meant by having rose-colored glasses when looking at your partner, seeing only the good and none of the bad.

However something happens when these engaged couples walk down the aisle and say, “I do”.  The same rose-colored glasses seem to shatter resulting in the good becoming minimized while the bad becomes exaggerated.  One of the many reasons premarital counseling is recommended is to help to highlight via an indifferent experienced third-party, the potential areas of contention.  While God’s love is capable of conquering everyone and everything, man’s love falls far short.  Here are some of the major areas that man’s love cannot conquer.

Addiction.  There are many forms of addictions a person can have: alcohol, gambling, pornography, drugs (illegal and prescription), and sex just to name a few.  These addictions consume time, money and energy from your relationship and in the long run, can even destroy it.  Your finance may even say that their addiction tendencies are less because of your presence and while this may be true for the time being, it will not be true in the future.   The reason the addiction is less during the engagement is because of the excitement of the upcoming marriage and the hope and promise it brings.  As soon as difficulties surface, this hope will quickly turn into despair and the addiction will return sometimes with a vengeance.

Abuse.  There are also many forms of abuse such as physical, emotional, sexual and verbal.  Physical abuse involves any physical contact that is unwelcome or threatening.  Emotional abuse is neglecting your partner’s basic needs for security, love and attachment.  Sexual abuse includes rape or any type of forced sexual encounter.  Verbal abuse is the use of foul language, demeaning statements, biting sarcasm or hurtful remarks.  Loving someone will not stop the abuse.  Often the abuse is very subtle in the beginning and often in frequent during the engagement process with your finance being very apologetic afterwards.  These are warning signs that should not be ignored because the abuse is very likely to increase after the wedding.

Alarm.  There are many ways your partner can alarm you, perhaps they engage in self-harming behavior (such as cutting), threaten to commit suicide, threaten to cause you physical harm, or have irrational fears (such as paranoia or extreme jealously).  These behaviors need to be addressed with a professional who has experience in helping individuals to overcome their alarming behavior rather than a well-meaning finance who is unsure of how to handle the situation.  Getting married will not eliminate any of these behaviors no matter what your finance says, in fact it will worsen.

Addiction, abuse and alarm are three good reasons to end an engagement.  Yes, your finance can get better with professional help, a willingness to overcome the challenges, and by the grace of God but even these ingredients separate from each other do not guarantee success.  Just for a moment, take off your rose-colored glasses and look at your partner objectively to see if there is any trace of these behaviors.   After all, your love does have limits.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to parent a difficult child

You have read the parenting books, implemented the ideas, and tried new techniques but nothing seems to work.  While your other children seem to be responding and benefiting from intentional parenting, one of your children is still not thriving.  In fact, they are getting worse.  Maybe they have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, SPD, OCD, ODD, CD or Asperser’s.  Such diagnoses can help to explain your child’s behavior but it does not help in understanding how to effectively parent them.   So you read more books and try to be more compassionate only to find that your child’s behavior is still not improving.

All is not lost and your efforts are not in vain.  For the most part you are likely to be on the right track with firm boundaries, negative consequences and positive rewards for behavior combined with a look at the heart of your child.  These elements are essential to intentional parenting yet it is not enough for your child.  Instead, sometimes it is the small changes that you can implement that make the biggest impact.  By adding these three rules to the techniques you are already doing, you may see better results.

No questions.  Questions like, “Why is your room still messy”, “Why did you do that”, and “What were you thinking” are unproductive.  If your child answers these questions honestly with “I forgot”, “I don’t know”, and “I wasn’t thinking”, this is likely to frustrate you even more.  Interrogating your child is almost never productive in the positive sense as it fosters rebellion in the heart of your child.  While it may give you some answers, the negative consequence of a strained relationship is more damaging.  Instead of questioning them, make statements like, “Your room is messy”, “Your behavior is not acceptable”, and “Think about this”.  Statements rather than questions reinforce your boundaries and provide security to your child.

No explanations.  Long winded explanations border on lecturing.  Remember when you were a kid; did you enjoy the lectures from your parents?  Didn’t you just tune them out after a period of time or talk to yourself in your head when it went on and on?  So, don’t repeat the same mistake with your child.  Instead be short, sweet and to the point.  Long winded explanations invite opportunities for your child to argue back as they discover potential loop holes in your explanation.  Keep your explanations to one or two sentence at the maximum.

No emotions.  Getting angry, becoming emotional, crying, laying on a guilt trip, or nervously laughing are all inappropriate emotions during discipline.  Feeling these emotions is normal and you should express them privately, but doing so in front of your child while disciplining will add to the tension of the moment.  Instead deal with the moment as needed and then go back to your child later when you are no so angry, emotional, teary, guilty or laughing and explain to your child the emotion you were feeling in one or two sentences.  This small change will teach your child not to react when emotional, but rather to reflect and then respond.

Small changes can make a big difference in handling a difficult child.  They are likely to be more demanding, more time-consuming, need more attention, and use more of your energy.  But by implementing these three simple rules, you will find that you will feel less drained and more prepared to handle the next challenge that comes your way.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.