Narcissistic Verbal Abuse

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Narcissistic verbal abuse is powerful. A talented narcissist can wear you down and then spin you around so fast you hardly know what has happened. Before you realize it, the narcissist has convinced you that what is up is really down and their verbal assaults are actually your fault.

For this reason, verbal abuse is a favorite tactic of narcissists. It very quickly intimidates the target while simultaneously establishing their dominance and superiority. The attack usually catches the target off-guard thus assuring victory. All of this is done to gain control and manipulate you into doing something.

The pattern is similar whether the narcissist is a spouse, parent, employer, coach, manager, or preacher. It first begins in secret, is infrequent, is mild in tone with minimal use of abusive language, and sometimes is followed by a shallow apology. Then it escalates to public humiliation, is more frequent, shifts blame to you, and is excessive in tone while denying abusive words.

  • Narcissists use the volume and tone of their voice to subconsciously establish dominance over you. They do this through two extremes. One way is to increase the volume by yelling, screaming, and raging. The second is equally effective through complete silence, ignoring, and refusing to respond. Their tone reiterates the abusiveness by combining petulance and pompousness.
  • Words have meaning beyond their definition. For a narcissist, words are used to instill fear, intimidate, manipulate, oppress and constrain. Swearing and threatening language comes easily to the narcissist when you refuse to do what they want. But if you try to use the same method, their verbal assault will amplify.
  • The manner of a narcissist’s speech is argumentative, competitive, sarcastic and demanding. They will frequently interrupt, talk over you, withhold key information, bully and interrogate. Many times the verbal assault will be so rapid that you will not have the time or energy to fight point by point. This is precisely what they want.
  • Mixed in with the assault will be personal attacks such as name calling, mocking your response, defaming your character, berating your feelings, and judging your opinions. To further add to the confusion, the narcissist will mix some truth with a lot of criticism. This condemning tactic leaves you feeling inferior and defeated.
  • A narcissist will do anything to avoid embarrassment, including going on the defensive over minor infractions by blocking and diverting your remarks. Their self-inflated perception is so skewed that they frequently accuse you of making them look bad. When they perceive an attack, they refuse to take responsibility, become hostile, invalidate or dismiss your feelings, lie, and conveniently forget promises or commitments.
  • Narcissists are masters at the blame game; anything that goes wrong is your fault. They will accuse you being too sensitive, will be overly critical of your reactions, one-up your feelings and oppose your opinions. In essence, you are to blame for the negative condition in which they find themselves.
  • Typical sayings include: “I’m critical for your own good,” “I was only joking when I said that…,” “If only you would…, then I won’t have to be this way,” “You don’t know how to take a joke,” “The problem with you is…,” and “That (verbal abuse) didn’t really happen.”
  • As a result of the verbal abuse, you feel you can’t ever win, are always in the wrong, have a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence, constantly walk on eggshells, are fearful of their response, and are embarrassed by their behavior.

You are not going crazy.  Verbal abuse is real and can leave you confused and frustrated. Be careful not to agree to anything the narcissist insists on during the verbal assault. Wait at least 24 hours before making any decision and get counsel outside of them. You do not have to jump through every hoop the narcissist requires.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  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.

10 Steps to Back Away from Religious Abuse

Religious abuse

Religious abuse exists in every type of faith. Oftentimes, it is not the religion itself that is the problem but the people within the practice. This is precisely why it is hard to get away.

Most likely it began with an attraction of sorts, a need being filled, companionship, and a sense of belonging. But those positive feelings were soon met with conflicting emotions of isolation, inadequacy, guilt, shame, and distrust. The confusion feels like physical abuse without the marks.

Others who have left the religion are shunned, disgraced, and humiliated. You want to pull away but are unsure of how. Try these steps.

  1. Learn the signs of religious abuse. Memorize and identify when they are being used against you. Saying in your head, “This is abusive behavior,” promotes awareness and empowerment.
  2. Get a new perspective by sidestepping religious rituals. This is not about abandoning your faith. Rather it is about viewing things from a different perspective. Are you condemned for stepping back? Or is there grace?
  3. Make a personal commitment not to engage or tolerate the belittlement of others who don’t believe as you. Instead show compassion. Not everyone has the same level of knowledge or understanding.
  4. Study your faith for yourself. Read and learn directly from the original writings instead of trusting individuals or institutions to interpret. Abusive behavior discourages such practices.
  5. Make friendships with people outside your faith. This reduces the dichotomous thinking (us versus them) and the isolation that often accompanies religious abuse.
  6. As you learn more about your faith, intentionally question one of the accepted extraneous rules. Learn all you can about it and stand your ground. Safe individuals will welcome the discussion; abusive individuals will not.
  7. Refuse to put on a false front. Be consistent and honest about who you are and what you are going through. “Faking it” cultivates fraud and deception.
  8. Don’t make quick commitments. “I need to pray/think/meditate about that,” are good phrases to use and practice. Abusive individuals try to force immediate decisions before you can evaluate.
  9. Find a friend who has gone through religious abuse or seek out a professional counselor. You can’t do this alone. You will need someone to remind you of past offenses and hold you accountable.
  10. As you step completely away from the religion, remember that it is not the faith that caused this but the people in the religion. Healthier versions of your faith do exist.

When you seek out a new religious organization, remember your experiences so you don’t fall into the same mistake as before. Your new level of knowledge from your studies will help you to better evaluate safe institutions. In the end, your faith will be stronger because of your perseverance.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  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.

15 Narcissistic Religious Abuse Tactics

religiousIs spiritual perfectionism demanded?  Are you terrified of not being accepted? Does the narcissist in your life have crazily ridiculous implausible spiritual expectations?

There was a time when your religious beliefs brought you companionship and peace, but now you struggle with intimacy, insecurity, and comparison. You used to find security in your faith, but now there is only sanctuary in ceremonies and rituals. How did you get here?

A narcissist uses their religious belief to manipulate, control and dominate you through fear. They systematically take the life out of your faith and replace themselves in the center.

It doesn’t matter the religion. Major organizations such as Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish or even minor sects such as Mormon, Taoism, Confucianism, New Age, or Rastafari can be used. Even those who do not profess a belief in God such as Atheistic, Agnostic, or Satanism can be included.

It is not the type of belief but rather how the faith is used that makes it abusive.

  1. It begins with dichotomous thinking, diving people into two parts. Those who agree with the narcissist’s beliefs and those who don’t. Interestingly, only the narcissist is the judge and jury of who belongs on which side. Your opinion is insignificant.
  2. Then the narcissist makes fun of, belittles, and shows prejudice towards other beliefs. This tactic is done to remind you that if you change your views, you will be treated likewise.
  3. Suddenly the narcissist becomes elitist and refuses to associate with people or groups they consider impure or unholy. They prefer isolation and insist you do the same while condemning others who don’t.
  4. Next, the narcissist requires that you completely adopt their point of view. There is no room for differing opinions or questioning their authority. Any voicing of opinions to the contrary are met with threats of abandonment or divorce. There is no free will for you.
  5. Demands of total submission without question follow. You are not free to question their authority and any attempt to do so is met with spiritual, physical, and/or verbal discipline. Name calling, chastising, and the silent treatment are common maneuvers into compliance.
  6. The narcissist is no longer satisfied with private dominion but instead needs the appearance of power in public. They expect strict adherence to whatever image they have created regardless of the accuracy of that image. Even the slightest hint of challenging their façade is met with quick and cruel reprimands.
  7. To further intimidate, the narcissist labels people who don’t comply with their beliefs as disobedient, rebellious, lacking faith, demons, or enemies of the faith. This is done in front of others to reinforce their opinions and instill fear inside and outside the family.
  8. There is huge emphasis on public performance. They demand perfection and happiness at all times. Religious activities such as attending church have extreme demands, excessive expectations, and rigidity. No allowances are given even for grieving over the loss of a friend or relative.
  9. Strict adherence to their rules and regulations are commanded with absolute statements about insignificant issues such as hair color or style. Non-compliance is met with severe discipline and even excommunication.
  10. To further segregate, the narcissist uses secrecy or withholds information to a few select worthy individuals. Sometimes they require proof of advanced spirituality or some deeper level of commitment before they will share.
  11. Questioning the narcissist is worse than questioning the religion. Blind obedience to the narcissist is expected as their opinion is more important than the religion. In essence, they have replaced your religion with themselves and you are expected to worship them.
  12. The narcissist frequently uses their religious position of authority to connive for their own personal benefit which is often financial. They will justify this behavior by saying they deserve it because they are better than others. You, however, will not be included because even your best is not good enough.
  13. For the narcissist, the end justifies the means. They may engage in criminal misconduct or cover up the transgressions of others in the name of their religion. This includes covering up sexual abuse, physical abuse, financial felonies, and misdemeanors. They believe they are above the law and therefore can subvert it.
  14. To complete the isolation, estrangement from extended family members and friends outside of the religion is mandatory. This includes shunning, alienation, or persecution. You are completely alone now with only them as the voice in your life.
  15. At the end of this, you find your own beliefs have lost their vitality and your religious growth is stagnant due to the constant abuse by the narcissist. It is not unusual for you to question you faith and even abandon it due to the sadistic behavior.

You don’t have to be subject to religious abuse. Study these steps and refuse to be part of any organization that encourages this behavior. Your faith is far too precious to be destroyed by a narcissist. Don’t let them steal your joy.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  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.

Eight Mental Abuse Tactics Narcissists Use on Spouses

narcissismHave you experienced intentional exploitation by your spouse? Regularly endured insults mixed with rejection and alternating with affirmation? Feel manipulated into doing or saying something out of character? Then you might be experiencing abuse.

But is it really abuse without bruising?  Abuse is not just physical. There are many other forms of abuse such as sexual, financial, emotional, mental, and verbal. While some of the other forms of abuse are obvious, mental abuse by a narcissist can be difficult to spot.

It starts simply with a casual comment about anything: color of the wall, dishes in the sink, or the car needing maintenance. The remark is taken out of context by the narcissist to mean that you disapprove of them in some way. You try to explain that wasn’t your intention but they are off on a tirade which ends in you feeling like you are losing your mind.

How did this happen? Here are several favorite narcissistic mental abuse tactics:

  1. Rage – This is an intense, furious anger that comes out of nowhere, usually over nothing (remember the wire hanger scene from the movie “Mommie Dearest”). It startles and shocks you into compliance or silence.
  2. Gaslighting – They lie about the past making you doubt your memory, perception, and sanity. They claim and give evidence of your past wrong behavior further causing doubt. You might even begin to question what you said a minute ago.
  3. The Stare – This is an intense stare with no feeling behind it.  It is designed to scare you into submission and is frequently mixed with the silent treatment.
  4. Silent Treatment – They punish by ignoring you. Then “lets you off the hook” by demanding an apology even though you aren’t to blame. This to modify your behavior.  They also have a history of cutting others out of their life permanently over small things.
  5. Projection – They dump their issues onto you as if you were the one doing it. For instance, they accuse you of lying when they have lied. Or they make you feel guilty when they are really guilty. This creates confusion.
  6. Twisting – If you confront your narcissistic spouse, they will twist it around to blame you for their actions. They will not accept responsibility for their behavior and insist you apologize to them.
  7. Manipulation – A favorite manipulation tactic is for the narcissist to make you fear the worst such as abandonment, infidelity, or rejection. Then they refute it and ask you for something you normally would reply with “No”. This is a control tactic to get you to agree to do something you wouldn’t.
  8. Victim Card – When all else fails, the narcissist resorts to playing the victim card. This is designed to gain your sympathy and further control your behavior.

Don’t let your narcissistic spouse get the best of you by using these tactics. Instead memorize these maneuvers, remain silent when they are being used, and end the conversation as soon as possible. This will keep you from being a victim of mental abuse.

What is Spiritual Warfare?

Oftentimes, spiritual warfare is seen as an attack from the outside.  Some larger outside force  attacks with the intent to cause personal harm taking the form of financial failure, marriage infidelity, natural disasters, rebellious children, economic depression, war, or dissension in churches.  And sometimes, this is spiritual warfare.

But sometimes it is not. Rather, these events are direct consequences of yours or others actions and desires.  The greatest battle for spiritual warfare is not the larger than life events; instead it is in the smaller thoughts and feelings stirring inside.

Thoughts.  Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly to better evaluate your thoughts.

  • What do you think about? How much time do you spend thinking?
  • Do you replay conversations over and over in your head?
  • Do you fantasize about how to get even with someone?
  • Do you image achieving a great result to vindicate yourself?
  • Do you focus your thoughts on one area of our life (i.e. work) at the expense of another area of our life (i.e. family)?
  • Do you wish for someone else to experience the same pain as you?
  • Do you dream about winning the lottery?
  • Do you focus on your past failures wishing you done it differently?
  • Do you call yourself a failure, loser, or other self-depreciating statements?

Each one of these thoughts is actually part of your spiritual battle.  More appropriately named distraction.  These negative thoughts distract you from thoughts that are good, pure, just, and holy.  Eventually your focus moves off God and onto more worldly desires.  Some of these desires seem innocent such as winning the lottery and giving the money to family and charity.  But this simple fantasy sows seeds of dissatisfaction in your current financial state and seeds of envy for those who have such luxuries.

Feelings.  Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly to better evaluate your feelings.

  • If it feels good, do you do it regardless of whether or not it violates your standards?
  • If it feels good to buy a new piece of clothing, do you do it even if you don’t need it?
  • If it feels good to flirt with someone, do you do it even if it jeopardizes your marriage?
  • If it feels good to have a drink or two or three, do you do it even if you risk becoming drunk?
  • If it feels good to mouth off to someone, do you do it even if you risk damaging the relationship?
  • If you don’t feel like reading the proposal, assignment or book, do you do it anyway?
  • If you don’t feel like parenting your children today, do you do it anyway?
  • If you don’t feel like dealing with your grief, do you do it anyway?

Feelings or emotions can drive you to do an action or not do an action in spite of your thoughts.  However, just like thoughts can lead you astray, so can feelings.  Intense emotions such as fear may propel you to do something to supress the uncomfortable feeling instead of confronting it. Or discouragement may cause your to do nothing at all. Feelings are not bad. God created them. But feelings which drive our behavior without a thought can be destructive.

Spiritual warfare is not always the big things happening around us; sometimes it is the little things happening inside of us.  Take an inventory of your thoughts and feelings to see if they need a cleansing.  After all, most historians will tell you that the greatest battle is the one you are fighting right now.

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 Exhaustion in Women Decreases Sex Drive

The Exhausted Woman's HandbookRosa’s sex drive was strong just a few short years ago, but now it had severely tapered off and threatened her marriage. In all other areas of her life, she was successful. She owned a small business, married for 15 years, and had two wonderful children. But this area eluded her. Just the thought of having sex exhausted her. Tired of initiating, her husband eventually stopped asking resulting in increased tension.

Perhaps your story is similar. So how does this happen? Is it hormonal? It could be, so get tested for this first. But once your hormones are in balance, the next area to investigate is your level of exhaustion.

There are two kinds of exhaustion. One is physical from the demands of a busy overbooked schedule. The other is psychological due to unmet needs, expectations, ambitions, and hopes. It is compounded by tragedies, disappointments, rejections, and harsh realities. And it has encompassed nearly every aspect of your life including your sex drive.

Here are four ways exhaustion negatively contributes to a decreased sex drive:

  • Over-gratifying – You try so hard to please others that the entire point of the activity is lost.  This is especially true sexually. Sex becomes a chore, something on your “To-Do” list rather than a blissful escape from your everyday demands. You focus on pleasing your mate at the expense of your own enjoyment. Eventually, sex becomes undesirable.
  • Over-protective – You withdraw or withhold intimacy because you feel the need to defend your decisions, actions, beliefs, and emotions. A lack of communication, unresolved conflict, and past hurtful words cause to you become self-protective. Instead of intimacy being a place of safety and security, you feel even more vulnerable to attack.
  • Over-thinking – Admit it, while you are having sex your mind often wanders. Before you know it, you are obsessing over a conversation, decision, or event. It is not like there is any new insight, the obsession just seems to take over. This severe distraction keeps you from enjoying sex. Any repetitive behavior can become a habit. If you have developed a habit of over-thinking during sex, no wonder you don’t find pleasure in it. Who would?
  • Over-whelmed – The latest work project just blew up, the house looks like a disaster, the kids need to be several places at once and your husband has a late meeting. You are stressed to the point of daily exhaustion and feel crushed by the weight of everyday chores, demands, and expectations. Who has the energy for sex after all of that?

There is hope for your exhaustion. It can be beat. Acknowledgment is the first step towards healing, the next is taking some new action. Try these suggestions:

  • Over-gratifying – Talk to your spouse about what you enjoy sexually. If you need more romance, create a romantic atmosphere. Take charge of meeting your sexual needs.
  • Over-protective – Be open with your spouse about past hurts and forgive. Holding onto the past hurts you far more than it hurts him.
  • Over-thinking – As soon as your mind wanders, refocus your thoughts on your spouse. In your mind, thank him for the many things he does do. Better yet, speak it out loud.
  • Over-whelmed – Have sex when you are most rested during the day. This may be first thing in the morning or after a warm bath.

Don’t let exhaustion take over. Your sex life can be better and you can find freedom from your exhaustion.

 

For more tips, read Christine Hammond’s new book, The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook. You may purchase it at Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. Or just click on the picture on the right.

Join us for a webinar and a FREE copy of the book.  For more information, click http://growwithchristine.wix.com/exhaustedhandbook

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.

The Stress of Anxiety

The Exhausted Woman's Handbook(Excerpt taken from The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook)

Ziana struggled with worry, anxiety, and panic attacks ever since the accidental car death of her twin brother 7 years ago. Her mind often raced with imagined future accidents, her response, and the ensuing added sadness. Driving on highways was still not possible for her and she was unable to remain silent when others were driving.

Her panic attacks were debilitating. Her heart would start pounding and racing, her stomach felt like it was in her throat, her palms became sweaty, she got lightheaded and dizzy, her breath became shallow and her thoughts were out of control leaving her completely exhausted. Since medical conditions were ruled out, it was diagnosed as a panic attack. Worse yet, the fear that the attack could happen again (as it frequently did) had a lasting exhausting effect.

Perhaps you’ve had a panic attack recently. Maybe you encountered someone unexpectedly, witnessed something on TV, were in the middle of a presentation or simply were eating out. All of a sudden, your heart started pounding and you were filled with anxiety. It seemed to come out of nowhere when in reality it was triggered by something. The anxiety attack could indicate a major unresolved event still causing problems in your everyday life. Fortunately, there are things you can do:

Mental Solution. Look for an unusual distraction around the room to minimize the intensity. Just focusing your thoughts on something else other than the attack is helpful. The odder the distraction, the better, but it usually isn’t enough to stop it completely. For instance, you might notice a picture that is not straight or a child laughing.

Physical Solution. Next, focus on your breathing. Breathe in for a count of five, hold it for another count of five and let it out for a count of seven. Try this for at least four times in a row. Be aware of the tension in your face, shoulders, hands and even toes and use the breaths to bring relaxation. Don’t beat yourself up when your breaths are short. Do the best you can and try practicing this exercise when you are not in the middle of an attack.

Emotional Solution. Close your eyes and remember a place of serenity and calm. Try going deep into your memory, remembering colors around you, peaceful weather, gentle sounds, the feel of something soft or an enticing smell. Smells are particularly calming as they are easily remembered and can bring about almost instant relaxation. Strangely enough, drinking a very cold glass of ice water (or my personal favorites: an Icee, a Slurpee or a Frappuccino) in an attempt to get a brain freeze can also be very effective. Your brain must wake up first before dealing with the anxiety.

Spiritual Solution. Say a prayer or recall a verse to help ease your emotions. You can also make a mental list of the many things you are thankful for or the numerous blessings in your life. Keep a card in your wallet or a note in your phone to aid your recall when under stress.

Psychological Solution. After the intensity of the attack is over, ponder the cause. There is usually a reason the anxiety was triggered and resolving the underlying issue will lessen future attacks. Triggers like strong emotions of fear or anger, the pressure created by certain people, or perceived potential danger can contribute to an attack. Identify the trigger, and then allow it to point you to a life-altering moment in your history. You may need assistance to process the root cause of your anxiety.

Ziana knew the source of her anxiety, but she had not fully grieved the loss of her brother. Though it was hard at first, she confronted her fears through therapy and her panic attacks eventually disappeared. You can experience the same success; it takes courage to tackle the anxiety caused by a tree ring moment. While it may be difficult at first, the new lasting impression is worth the effort.

 

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.

 

You may purchase The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook at Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. Or just click on the picture on the right.

Has your Sex Drive Decreased

It happens to almost everyone.  You are not interested in having sex as frequently as before. Or the thought of having sex at all is completely unappealing.  Your sex drive seems to be decreasing and you not sure as to why.  At first, there may not be any logical explanation but looking to some underlying issues may reveal the problem.

Be honest.  This is not a time to be silent with your spouse.  They need to know that you are experiencing a decrease in your sex drive and perhaps not achieving an organism as frequently.  Most likely they have already noticed and is wondering what is wrong.  Check for any relational problems such as difficulty with in-laws, finances, communication, or the kids.  Getting help with these problems and dealing with them can improve your sex drive.

Talk to your doctor.  Sometimes there are physiological reasons for a decrease in sex drive.  Age, discomfort during sex, painful sex or change in hormonal levels can all be contributing factors.  By discussing your concerns with your doctor and running a few simple tests, the physiological reasons can be identified and in some cases resolved, improving your sex drive.

Heal from the past.  Oftentimes when you are in a stable relationship and things are going well, sexual images of your past or unresolved sexual issues surface.  Your ability to put aside these images or issues is no longer working.  However, dealing with them again is not what you want to do.  Yet, this is precisely what is needed.  A past experience of abortion, rape, molestation, sexual abuse, multiple partners, pornography, sexually transmitted disease or infection can all be contributing factors to your decreased sex drive now.  Take some time to work with a professional counselor to help heal from these past hurts.

Reduce stress.  The stress of maintaining a household, managing the competing schedules, and working to improve finances can be overwhelming.  Knowing what needs to be done and realizing that it cannot be accomplished increases your stress level.  Usually the things you choose not to complete are the very things that help you to relax and unwind.  Like proper amounts of sleep, eating right, exercising, reading a favorite book, taking a relaxing bath, going on a date with your husband, or just playing with your kids.  Add these activities back into your schedule and take time out for yourself.  Sex will be far more desirable.

Not addressing your diminished sex drive could result in an increase in marriage problems or/and increase in lack of self-confidence; neither of which is desirable.  This is a problem that will not go away with time or get better without being addressed, rather it is something you can confront and manage.

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.

Stop Having the Same Argument Over and Over with your Spouse

Do you have the same argument with your spouse over and over?  Can you recite their response even before you begin?  Are you losing interest in even having conversations with them?  This can be the beginning of no communication cumulating in an unhappy marriage or divorce.

There is a better way.  It can change.  By listening, looking and repeating before responding, you allow them to feel heard.  This in turn allows you to more fully understand their point of view.   When you understand them, your response is different which translates to more understanding from your partner to your point of view and increased understanding before they respond.   The cycle becomes a more positive type of ongoing communication.

Listen.  When your partner is speaking, listen intently to them resisting the urge to rehearse a response.  Listen for repeated words, phrases, or emotions; this will give you a clue as to what is really important to them.  Voice inflection can also identify the real issue or at least the most passionate issue.  Ironically it is usually the last thing a person states that is the most significant, not the first.  If you are spending your time thinking about your response to the first thing they said, you will miss the major issue of the discussion.

Look.  Body language, the time of day, the location of the discussion, and the emotional reaction all provide information as to the type of feedback desired.  For instance, if your spouse confronts you with their hands on their hips, with an angry face yelling, at the end of a long day while you are walking in the door, they are not interested in positive feedback.  Instead they are more interested in getting the upper hand.  If instead your spouse sets a time and place with you in advance and greets you warmly with a pleasant smile, they are looking for a mutual agreement instead of the upper hand.  Turn around is fair play, so if you want to be treated kindly, then you should do the same.

Repeat.  Before you respond, repeat what you have learned from listening and observing, not just the words stated but the emotions as well.  Repeating what you have learned gives your spouse the chance to correct any misunderstandings before you respond.  If you respond before clarifying, then you may be responding to the wrong issue and make the situation worse.  Feeling loved is about knowing that your spouse truly listens and understands, so take the time to complete this step before moving on to the next one.

Respond.  Only after you have listened, looked and repeated what your spouse has expressed should you respond to what they are saying.  Resist the urge to cram everything you have been thinking into a short time period.  Instead, select one issue and respond to it allowing time for your spouse to respond.  Resolving one issue at a time actually saves time rather than downloading a bunch of things all at once which can be overwhelming.  Once an issue is resolved, take a break rather than moving on to the next topic, this allows both of you to absorb the conversation and reflect.

Communication is difficult but you can learn to communicate effectively.  Not everyone communicates the same way so understanding your spouse’s personality is an important element.  But if you use the listen, look, repeat, and respond method, it will go a long way to helping increase positive communication.

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 Stop Being Overwhelmed When Dating

Marriage

Marriage (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

Dating can be overwhelming.  There is quite a bit of advice about it but not much about preparing yourself to date.  Deciding in advance why to date and what type of person to date, makes decisions easier.

Why date.  For some, the purpose of dating is to discover if the person has the potential for becoming a long-term partner.   This is not about getting a marriage proposal on the first date; rather it is an acknowledgement that there is a desire for something more.  For others, dating has one purpose, to have fun.  For the fun seekers, the idea of any commitment longer than one date is too much for them.  Generally speaking, this is why those interested in just having fun are not good matches for those interested in long-term commitments.

Don’t waste your time.  If you are dating to find a partner, than wasting your time with those just having fun can be frustrating.  Once you discover that your date is not interested in the same outcome, parting ways on friendly terms is better than stringing out a relationship that will eventually end with resentment.  Most likely the person desiring the long-term commitment will resent the fun seeker because they won’t change their mind.

 Decide what matters.  If you are interested in a long-term commitment, than deciding what matters to you in a partner is better done before you meet them.  This is not a time to decide that your future partner should have blue eyes or black hair because you want kids with that combination; rather this is a time to be selective about what really matters.  Fifteen years later appearances change.  If you fall in love with the appearance of a person and not their intellect, character, or heart, then you will have built the foundation of your marriage on a sink-hole.

Make a list.  This is the hardest part of the process, making a list of the qualities that are really important and compliment you in some way.  For instance, if you know that you are a spender when it comes to money, then you are better off marrying a saver.  If you are coming into the marriage with kids from a previous marriage, then it is essential to have a spouse that loves kids.  If you like to watch weird Sci-Fi movies, then it is good to have someone who can enjoy them with you.  The list should be long and as specific as possible without too much detail.  Writing down a general statement such as “good sense of humor” is not specific enough; rather “enjoys a dry sense of humor” is a better statement.  On the other hand, too specific statements limit your prospects.  This is about finding a balance.

Prioritize.  Once you have your list, put your list in the order of priority in your life.  A person who is active in the ministry of their church might have at the top of the list a person with similar characteristics.  Items such as moral beliefs, value systems, desire for future children, good reputation and employability should be close to the top of the list.  The bottom of the list may include appearance preferences, location, or family background.  However, you may decide differently then suggested, remember this is about your desires for a mate not about someone else.

Use the list.  Please do not bring the list on the first date and begin questioning the other person about the items that are important to you.  This is a bit on the crazy side and is more likely to scare someone away rather than draw them closer to you.  Instead, pick one or two and investigate if your date has the qualities you are looking for in a partner.  Then work your list a bit at a time.

Dating with a purpose in mind and with an understanding of the type of person you are looking for in a partner, makes the process more enjoyable and less frustrating.  It also saves you the heartache of spending too much time and investing too much emotional energy with Mr. Wrong or Mrs. Wrong.

 

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 or visit my website at www.growwithchristine.com.