How Social Media Has Changed Dating

social networking

social networking (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Once upon a time, a guy would physically see a girl from a distance and become attracted to her and than approach her about going out on a date with him.  The first date most likely occurred without too much prior contact, sometimes with only one brief phone call (this is an actual phone call not a text or email) to discuss the schematics of the date.   But the first date was filled with much anticipation, as neither one really knew the other person and it was a toss of the dice to see if the initial attraction turned into a spark or fizzled out.

Now, things are different.  A girl sees a FB profile of a guy on-line and checks him out on his page and on LinkedIn before messaging him.  They begin to chat on-line, then text, then email and finally work up to a phone conversation long before the first date.  After a period of time, they agree to meet but have already learned so much about the other person that the date becomes the last part of the getting-to-know-you phase and not the first part.  This is precisely why social media has changed the way we date.

Attraction phase.  It is much easier to become attracted to a person on social media websites now because so many people use professionally touched-up photos or at the very least, the best photos they can find.  While a picture can say a lot about a person, it by no means says everything because you are the one interpreting the photo though your own perspective.  Basically, you can make a photo say whatever you want it to say just like you can interpret too much about a person based on one photo.  Don’t allow a photo to determine your level of attraction as you might be more or less attracted to the person when you finally meet them in person.

First-contact phase.  There are no real rules when it comes to who should initial the first-contact however, you should not be connecting with a person more frequently than they are connecting with you.  For instance, if you begin chatting with someone and they don’t respond right away, don’t be too quick to respond either.  If you do, you look desperate.  Rather respond an equal number of times to demonstrate that you are neither too eager nor too unavailable.  All forms of contact are appropriate but most begin with chatting, then texting, then email and finally phone calls.  This is a gradual process not a sprint.

Dating phase.  By the time you go on your first date, you should know quite a bit about the person you are expecting to meet in person.  By this time you already know that you like the other person and they like you, what you don’t know is if that spark on the phone will translate into a spark in person.  You also don’t know if the picture you have been seeing is real or imagined.  It is much easier to pretend to be something that you are not or something more than you really are when the person is not right in front of you.  It is much harder to do this in person, not impossible, just harder.

Social media has changed dating.  The “once upon a time” story will not return and “talking” has replaced “dating” as the new buzz word indicating an exploration of a mutual interest.  By the time a person is “dating” now, a relationship is already implied and exclusivity is expected.  Things are quite different from twenty years ago.

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 Stay Married to an Attorney

The Socratic Method

The Socratic Method (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just in case you missed this key fact while being married to an attorney here it is: law school changes the way you think.  This is intentional on the school’s part and is done to properly prepare an attorney for the line of work they are entering.  Everyday a law student reads, studies, and analyzes case after case in preparation for their next class.  The professor then selects a random student and verbally quizzes them about one of the cases until they fail.  The questions at first are open-ended, meaning that multiple answers can be correct, and then rapidly become close-ended, meaning that there is a right or wrong answer.  This is called the Socratic Method of teaching which has been very effective for centuries.

More than likely you have already had an “ah-ha” moment just reading that description as it is likely to resemble your last disagreement.  It probably started innocently enough with an open-ended question from your attorney spouse.  You answered the question but then for some reason your spouse did not like the response and began asking question after question until you became so confused that you just said whatever you needed to just to end the discussion.  Thinking that turn-around is fair play, you then attempt the same tactic only to find that you are shut-down after the first remark.  This leaves you angry and confused however if you try to verbalize your emotions, the response is generally unsympathetic.

Don’t ask questions.  Your attorney spouse has a black-belt in answering questions the way they should have been asked, dodging questions they don’t want to answer, and anticipating your line of questioning long before you might even know where you are headed.  So don’t ask questions especially if you already know the answer and are trying to get your spouse on your side.  This will back-fire every time.  Instead make statements.  “I want pizza for dinner” instead of “what do you want for dinner”.  “We are going to the Jones’ house for dinner” instead of “do you want to go to the Jones’ house for dinner”.  Just be careful not to sound too bossy in your statements because once again you will be met with resistance.

Don’t over explain.  Your attorney spouse is already likely to over explain nearly everything and have multiple reasons for even simple tasks so don’t fall into this trap and add to the over explanation.  If you do your spouse is likely to find the hole in your explanation and then the entire discussion becomes questionable.  For if one small part of the argument is wrong then the whole thing can be thrown out.  The best way to avoid this is by not over explaining.  If you have to repeat the same explanation over again, this is preferable to going on and on.  Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no” and keep your statements simple.

Don’t get emotional.  Your attorney spouse has been trained to keep their emotions in check while inciting you to an emotional state.  Remember the professor at the beginning?  Just put yourself in the shoes of the student and imagine how frustrating it must be to know that the goal of the professor is for you to fail.  Yet if the student shows any signs of frustration, the professor attacks even harder.  This is done because if you get emotional, then your arguments are not likely to be as rational and therefore can be easily broken down.  So do your best to keep you emotions in check during a disagreement.  There is nothing wrong with taking a break if you feel out of control and agreeing to discuss the matter later.  But then you must discuss it later as in within the next 24 hours or you will be met with additional and avoidable frustration.

By understanding how your spouse has been trained to think and working with that way of thinking instead of against it, you can minimize the disagreements and reduce the tension at home.  Stop trying to change your attorney spouse and instead change your response and get over the idea that your spouse needs to change for you.  After all, they will not be an attorney for long if they abandon the way they were taught to think in law school.

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.

Holiday Stress is coming to Town

Do you find yourself making a list and checking it twice?  Isn’t that Santa’s job?  With so much to do in such a short time it is easy to double book parties, forget the vanilla extract yet again, lose the address of your favorite client, and spend too much money all before noon today.  The Holidays are here and so is the added stress of more stuff, more money, more places to be, more people to see, and more pounds to gain.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Instead of making just another “to do” list, make yourself a different type of list establishing your limitations well in advance.  You can call it your Naughty List (what not to do) and Nice List (what to do).

Naughty List.

  1. Overspending your budget just because…
  2. Being unrealistic about the amount of time an activity will take or a visit with family will last.
  3. Failing to communicate your plans with others so they can plan accordingly.
  4. Trying out a recipe out for the first time to bring to your office party.  The expectation that everything will go perfectly and it will taste fantastic is unrealistic.  Instead bring a dish that you already know works.
  5. Increasing your project load at home when you have less free time to complete it.  If you want to make new decorations, make them after the season for next year rather than now when time is already short.
  6. Overdoing the decorations, enough said.
  7. Overbuying for you.  That red sweater you wore last year is still good and you really don’t need a new one.
  8. Being a Scrooge.  Just because money is short doesn’t mean that you have to announce it to the world and remind everyone about your struggles.
  9. Calories unfortunately do count during the Holidays.  That piece of fudge is still the same amount of calories during the Holidays as it is in the summer.
  10. Feeling guilty.  No one can make you feel guilty unless you let them so except your limitations and set better boundaries.
  11. Minimizing the impact of a major life change over the past year.  Any major life change such as a death, divorce, marriage, birth of a child or move significantly changes the way the Holidays will be spent.  If you have had a change over the past year, acknowledge it and plan for the Holidays to reflect the change.
  12. Setting unreasonable expectations for yourself, your spouse, and your family.

Nice List.

  1. Take time out for yourself and rest during the Holidays.  Plan one day to be free from all commitments and enjoy the season.
  2. Reconnect with an old friend.
  3. Extend the free gift of forgiveness to someone in your life.
  4. Revisit the true meaning of the Holidays instead of the commercial meaning.
  5. Give a plant, some food, some time, or some expertise instead of another useless gift.  These gifts are far more valuable.
  6. Create a new tradition.  Instead of all the running around, plan to spend one day with just immediate family and stay in your P.J.’s all day watching old movies and playing games.
  7. Give the gift of humor and learn to laugh at yourself.  This is a great stress reliever.
  8. Before you go to a party set limits on the amount you will eat and drink.  Be reasonable, realistic, and practical about your temptations.
  9. Technology can be a wonderful thing.  Skype a family member that you can’t visit because of the distance.
  10. The older members of your family are likely to feel lonely during the Holidays so plan on extra time with them and patiently listen to them reliving the past.  This is a free gift that will mean far more than a material gift.
  11. Reach outside of your world and touch the lives of those less fortunate than you by volunteering to deliver meals, giving your lunch to the homeless person on the side of the road, providing a bike for a kid in need, or donating clothing that is unused.
  12. Pray.  Pray for your family, pray for your friends, pray for neighbors, pray for your co-workers, pray for your country, pray for those serving in the military, pray for those being persecuted, pray for those who are starving, pray for those who are dying, and most especially pray for those causing harm to others.  Prayer works.  Prayer lasts a long time.  Prayer creates peace.

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.

It’s the Most Lonely Time of the Year

As if feeling lonely isn’t bad enough by itself, add the Holidays to the mix and your loneliness becomes magnified.  Excitement is in the air during this time with extra stuff crowded the isles at most stores in all kinds of bright and cheerful colors screaming “buy me”.  The aroma of scented candles and flavored coffee permeates the air while the music is loud and joyful with new versions of familiar lyrics.  The traffic is busy at odd times during the day with more people on the road, in the airports, on the subway and at train stations.  Lights flash, decorations hung, Santa hats appear, and the excess of delicious food and drink dominate the atmosphere.

But no one else seems to be lonely.  One quick glance around you yields abundant laughter, smiles of delight on children’s faces, and embr­­aces of greeting.  Yet you find yourself feeling even more alienated, more alone, and more depressed as even acquaintances treat you more like Scrooge or the Grinch, a person to be avoided rather than included.  And realistically, you don’t even want to be included because then the expectation would be to put on a happy face and you just can’t fake it anymore.  So just how do you then survive the Holidays?

Perspective, perspective, perspective.  Everything is not what it seems.  The reality is that many are struggling this year financially, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually, they just don’t show it.  Your honesty about how you feel reminds them of their struggles which they are trying hard to forget.  But this reality still does not decrease your loneliness; in fact, it increases it because now the avoidance is intentional.  However, by understanding better their perspective, you in turn have the opportunity to be the compassionate person.  So instead of trying to survive yet another party, invite one person out for coffee and just talk.

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.  One of the causes of loneliness is a lack of appropriate boundaries.  How you ask?  Examine a playground for a moment.  Several studies have shown that a playground without a fence causes children to hover around the equipment.  In contrast, a playground with a fence frees the children to run away from the equipment yet still within the confines of the fence.  If the fence is too close to the equipment, the fence becomes part of the equipment and is climbed over.  Good boundaries are the same way; they exist but are neither too restrictive nor too distant to be effective.  Examine your boundaries.  Are you too restrictive about trying new friendships?  Do you lack boundaries for new friendships?  Either way, this simple concept could be creating unnecessary loneliness in your life.

Time, time, time.  If the cause of your loneliness is a death, divorce, or other significant life change within the last year, then you are still within the appropriate grieving period.  Anytime you endure a major life change, everything changes especially how you celebrate the Holidays.  This year will be different because your life change is making it different and you are most likely missing the good times of the past.  Even though your life change may have been a welcomed one there will still be things that you will miss.  Don’t try to deny it; rather recognize it and acknowledge it as part of the grieving process.  Then you can begin to look forward to creating a new tradition.

Surviving “the most lonely time of the year” is about keeping your perspective, establishing appropriate boundaries and giving yourself the gift of time to recover from major change.  Your loneliness may be here for a season, but it does not have to last after the season is done.

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.

Under the Influence of Marriage Series: Holidays under the Influence of Marriage

Shopping at a big box chain store with numerous displays for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Her.  [Oh, I forgot to tell him about the party we are hosting Thanksgiving week for our friends who are leaving the country.  I’m going to miss them so much and can’t wait to spend the day with them and several other close couples.  I already put the party on the calendar and scheduled with everyone but I’m haven’t told him yet.  He’s going to flip again. Oh well, too late, it’s scheduled.]  “Honey, did I mention that our friends are coming over during the Thanksgiving Holiday just before they leave for China?”

Him.  [I knew it.  I could see the scheming look on her face, she does this every year.]  “No, dear, you didn’t.  When were you going to clue me in?”

Her.  [Obviously that was bad timing, well at least we are in a public space so he can’t get too angry and yell at me.  It’s already scheduled so there is nothing he can do about it and if he had it his way, we would never do anything but sit at home and watch TV.  I’m so sick of watching football all the time.]  “Well, it’s on the calendar like you asked me to do and I just assumed that you would be looking at it.  Besides, I knew that you would want to see them and we had to make plans quickly so that nothing else got scheduled.”

Him.  [Here she goes again; I thought the calendar was going to fix this.]  “So when exactly is this little party of yours.”

Her. [Little, there is nothing so little about 30 people coming over for dinner and that was just the last count.  We still have not heard from two other families so our “little” party maybe pushing 40 by the time everything is counted.  The problem is that my friend makes too many last-minute decisions and the numbers could change again.  So I’ll leave that little detail for another conversation.]  “It’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving, won’t that be great?  The kids are going to have so much fun.”

Him. [Oh my gosh, I’m having another panic attack.  She better not be having 50 people over.] “Ok, whatever.  What our plans for Thanksgiving Day?”

Her. [There he goes again.  Well, if I tell him that I changed my mind again, he’s going to flip even more.  First we were going away and then that plan changed.  Then we were going to our friend’s house but that got changed to us hosting them on Sunday.  Then we were going to work at a food bank but they didn’t need any volunteer.  Then I was going to have the kids help with cooking Thanksgiving but they couldn’t even empty the dishwasher without complaining.  Then we were going to a buffet but I didn’t like the prices.  Then we were going to carry out a Thanksgiving meal but I never really liked that plan.]  “I’m still working on it, don’t worry we’ll do something.

Him.  [I can tell this isn’t going to end well, it never does.] “Just out of curiosity, how many more plans do you have swimming around in your head?”

Where is this going? Often in a marriage there are two perspectives in a situation and coming to an understanding of the other person’s point of view can be a challenging process especially when what is thought is often not what is said.  It’s kind of like shooting at a moving target, just when you think have your aim, the target moves.  Let’s explore how each spouse could have better handled the situation before, during and after.

Before.  Instead of ambushing your spouse about plans that you have made, mention to your spouse that you updated the calendar and they need to look at it.  By making gentle reminders about periodically checking the calendar and making sure that the information is complete and accurate, you can reduce anxious moments such as this.   Another suggestion is to have weekly meetings with calendars, budgets and other details that need to be discussed so such matters come at more expectant times.

During.  Pay attention to how your spouse reacts to your comments with non-verbal body language.  If they are stressed by your comments, agree to table the discussion for another time when tempers are not so likely to flare up.  When you know that there is a holiday decision that needs to be made, be proactive and involved instead of letting one spouse make all of the decisions.  When you feel out of control or that you are being controlled by others, strong intense feelings of anxiety are likely to occur.

After.  The holidays bring enough stress with last-minute plans and agendas.  Instead of expecting things to go as planned, expect the unexpected and learn to roll with it.  This is only temporary and is not a pattern for everyday of the year so don’t make it to be more than it is.  It’s all in your perception of the matter.

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.

Don’t Lose Your Christianity in Your Divorce Part 2

So what does it meant to love someone who you are divorcing?  Let’s review the second part of this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Not Demanding.  Wanting things the way you want them is demanding, selfish, immature, and often unrealistic.  It is so hard to see things from your ex’s point of view during a divorce but your Christianity asks this very thing of you.  It takes a great deal of self-control to put your wants aside and see things from your ex’s perspective however if you can do this, your divorce will go far smoother.

Not Irritable.  Being irritable at you ex will come very naturally for you as just a text or picture of them is likely to spark intense feelings.  This is one of those times when either your emotions will control you or you will control your emotions.  It is normal for you to feel irritable towards your ex but that does not give you permission to act irritable towards your ex.

No Record Keeping.  Forgive, forgive and when you don’t know what else to do, forgive again.  Your ex may entice you to anger every day during the divorce proceedings, forgive them.  Your ex may make rude comments or remarks on texts, emails, in person, or by phone, don’t return the remark but forgive them.  Your ex may relive the past over and over, don’t return the record keeping but forgive them again.  You will have to forgive your ex a thousand times during your divorce and when the thousand is up, forgive them yet again.  This is not about being a door mat or letting your ex take advantage of you, rather it is about not letting your ex control you through your unforgiveness.

Truth Wins.  You may not see the truth win out during your divorce, you may not see it win out after the divorce, and in fact you may never see the truth win during your lifetime.  But the end of the story is that truth does win when Jesus comes to reign as King and you may not even know the full truth.  So don’t rejoice when things go badly for your ex for you never know when things may go just as badly for you.

Don’t Give Up.  Too many times this verse is quoted trying to convince the other person that they should not give up on their marriage.  It is often wrongly used in the context of trying to control and manipulate behavior by saying that you should never give up on your marriage.  But when this verse is put in the context of love, it is love doesn’t give up.  Not giving up on your ex is not about the marriage, it is about your attitude towards them.  Because you love them, you will not give up on loving them regardless of their behavior.

Don’t Lose Faith.  Having faith in your ex is having faith that their intentions, however horrible they may have been at one time, are honorable now.  Again, if evidence proves to the contrary and your ex’s intentions are not good, you don’t have to keep expecting a different more hopeful result.  But you can remain faithful in love and with good distance that one day the tide will turn and there will be closure and restoration of a limited relationship.

Hopeful.  Love is hopeful that in the end all things, issues, differences, struggles, frustrations, troubles, and relationships will be resolved.  Our hope is not in this world or in this lifetime, rather it is a hope and promise in meeting your Creator and spending all Eternity with Him.  Keep your perspective big picture instead of little picture and your ability to remain hopeful will return.  By the way, the hope for the future includes spending all of Eternity with your ex and if you have not prayed likewise for that, now is a good time to start.

Enduring.  Last by not least, love endures through every circumstance.  Not some circumstances, not most circumstances, not the circumstances you want to endure but every single circumstance that you could or don’t even want to imagine.  This translates into loving your ex even when they are speaking lies about you, even when they are yelling at you, even when they are unfair to you, even when they are unforgiving towards you, and even when they use the children against you.  You can still choose to love.

And that is the finally conclusion, that you can still choose to love despite all of the rejection, stress, anxiety, struggles, lies, manipulation, abuse, destructive behavior, broken promises, and betrayal.  Yes, you can still choose to love and in that you will experience what Jesus experienced on this earth and have an even greater appreciation for what He did by dying for your sins.  You can lose your Christianity in your divorce or you can allow your divorce to draw you even closer to God.

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.

Don’t Lose Your Christianity in Your Divorce

Sadly being a Christian is no guarantee that your marriage will survive.  The statistics for Christians getting divorced are exactly the same as non-Christians with the same reasons for getting a divorce: adultery, addiction, abuse, pornography, financial problems, sexual problems, parenting problems, and many more.  Just because a person is a Christian does not mean that they are free from the same struggles that plague everyone else.  The Christian too is born with a sinful nature that must be actively worked against on a daily basis.  So while a Christian can obtain freedom in Christ Jesus, the road to repentance and restoration is the road less traveled because it requires humility, honesty, and a heart change.

There is no doubt at this point that your marriage will end in divorce usually for more than one reason.  But just because your marriage is ending, this does not give you permission to become un-Christ-like in your behavior.  If as a Christian you are taught to “Love your enemies”, than treating your soon to be ex-spouse in a loving manner should go without saying.  However, it does need to be said and reminded over and over as emotions are intense, anger is easily provoked, neither of you trusts the other, and forgiveness is in short supply.

So what does it meant to love someone who you are divorcing?  Let’s review the first part of this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Patience.  Being patient with your ex is extremely difficult during a divorce as most want the divorce to be over with as soon as possible.  However, depending on your State’s laws and how complicated your divorce is with stuff, kids, and money these issues can take months if not years to resolve.  Having the expectation that things will go smoothly and quickly in a divorce is unrealistic especially since things did not go smoothly in your marriage.  Change your expectations to more realistic ones and recognize that you will need to be even more patient with your ex than before.

Kind.  Showing kindness to your ex is very difficult especially when it is not reciprocated but we are not called to love just those who love us but those who don’t love us as well.  Your ex knows how to push all of your buttons at one time, being kind is not pushing their buttons even when you could or even when you are right.

Not Jealous.  Jealousy is an ugly beast as it is usually not about one person moving on to another relationship rather it is about the other person “getting a better deal”.  Even the best negotiators cannot divide everything equally and someone is likely to feel jaded by the divorce.  Don’t let your feelings of frustration blossom into jealousy because you did not get your fair share.  Instead recognize that in the end you are not the final Judge, God is.

Not Boastful.  Bragging about how much better off you are without your ex in your life is boastfulness.  Bragging about how you got this thing or won that battle is also boastfulness.  Neither should be done even with your friends or family who are on your side.  The truth is that neither party really won in the divorce, both of you were hurt in some way and both of you will have scars from the divorce for the rest of your life.

Not Proud.  Pride creeps up in the strangest of places.  For instance, talking about how much better you were able to handle everything, comparing your sins with your ex, or minimizing your responsibility is all prideful behavior.  Take responsibility for what was your contribution to the divorce, recognize that you needed support to even get the divorce and start viewing all sin as being equal.  This is reducing your prideful behavior.

Not Rude.  Not enough can be said about this category as most people would never even talk to a stranger the same way they talk to their ex.  Just try treating a friend or co-worker with the same lack of respect and level of rudeness as you do your ex and see how long your relationship lasts.  But for some reason because you have been hurt, you justify the rude behavior as being well deserved.  This is not Christ-like behavior.

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.