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.

Marriage Tip: Detach from the Ranting

Your spouse is going to rant about something sooner or later.  Unfortunately the ranting may even be about the same topic, the same people, or the same circumstances you have heard about a thousand times before.  In your response, you are likely to fall into a pattern of defending, explaining, shutting down, minimizing or personalizing the ranting.  None of these responses are correct and all are likely to incite even more ranting from your spouse.

So what can you do?  First recognize that you rant as well and stop pointing the finger at your spouse as if they were the only one to blame.  Second, remind yourself that you do love your spouse and that your love in unconditional, not based on performance.  Afterall, this is what you expect from your spouse so you should give them the same consideration.  Finally, detach from the ranting by reminding yourself that their ranting is their issue and not yours.  You do not need to take your spouse’s issues on like a weight to be carried around.  This is not helpful, this is hurtful.  Your spouse is responsible for their behavior, their actions, and their words; just like you are responsible for your behavior towards your spouse, your actions and your words.

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.

Marriage Tip: Get Real

So you say that you want your marriage to be better.  You read books, listen to others, pray, and talk about the importance of marriage but how committed are you really?  It is much easier to talk about communicating and the importance of it for instance, then to actually communicate effectively.  The same is true for your marriage.  It is much easier to talk about having a good marriage and the importance of having one rather than making positive steps to improve your marriage.  Strangely enough, no matter what your spouse has done, a better marriage starts with you and not the other person.  Stop looking at what your spouse is doing wrong or has done wrong in the past and start looking at your contribution to the failure of your marriage.  Get real with yourself and God before you go on the attack.  This is far more productive than blaming your spouse as Adam and Eve discovered in the Garden.

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.

Marriage Tip: Don’t Be A Spouse Pleaser

Yes, I know that this is strange advice and most likely contradicts the latest marriage book you read but it doesn’t work in the long run.  Sure you can get great results in your marriage by always trying to please your spouse short-term but sooner or later you run out of steam especially when the gesture is not reciprocated to your satisfaction level.  Pleasing your spouse ranks right up there with pleasing others which should not be the focus of your life.

What is wrong with pleasing your spouse or others?  The standard for pleasing others is constantly changing and therefore is not a foundation upon which you can stand firm.  However, going to the opposite point of view which is pleasing yourself is selfish and an equally troubling foundation for a marriage.  Pleasing others elevates their feelings, beliefs, and standards as more important as your own.  Pleasing yourself elevates your feelings, beliefs, and standards as more important than others.  Neither is good.

There is only one to please, one to praise, one to worship, one to follow, one to hope, and one to love.  God.  His standard is unchanging, unwavering, and full of grace all at once.  By setting your sights on pleasing God, you will naturally please others and yourself but not because one is elevated above the other.  Rather, you will be  more focused on His ways of grace, mercy, love, patience, kindness, order, and structure.  This is the best foundation for your marriage.

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.

Marriage Tip: Forgive Your Spouse for the Little Things

It’s the little things that count.  Too often the big things in a marriage get the most attention while the little things go unrecognized for lack of importance.  However, if you can begin the practice of forgiving your spouse for the little things, then when the big things come up it will be a much easier task.  It’s like running a race.  You train for the race gradually, increasing your speed, intensity, and distance with each practice.  Eventually you are prepared to run the race at your best because of the practice even if you didn’t feel well that day.  Yet, if you were to run the race cold, even with the best intentions at heart, you would not do as well as if you practiced a little every day.  It is the same with forgiveness.  Practice forgiving the little things each day and when the big things come along you will have your training in forgiveness to fall back on even when you don’t feel like forgiving.

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.

Marriage Tip: Be Intentionally Grateful to Your Spouse

Try it.  Don’t talk about it, think about it or put it off.  Just be intentionally grateful about something, anything will really do, which is far better than nothing.  Even if your spouse misunderstood your last comment, argued with you over something meaningless, made a thoughtless remark, or turned a casual comment into a lecture opportunity, show gratitude in a way that matters to them.  It is not about finding the right moment, because it will never come.  It is about creating the right moment in the mist of wrong moments to be grateful.  You can be grateful by making a positive comment about your spouse not a passive aggressive sarcastic remark.  You can be grateful by doing something for your spouse not doing something that you have asked them repeatedly to do and it still is not done.  You can be grateful by giving something to your spouse not by giving them something that is really for you.  You can be grateful by spending time with your spouse not by demanding your spouse spend time with you.  You can be grateful by gently squeezing your spouse’s hand not by yanking their hand.  So what are you waiting for, go be grateful to your spouse.

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.

Marriage Tip: Never Leave Your Spouse Behind

There is a saying in the military, “Never leave a man behind” which should be applied to a marriage.  There will be times in your marriage when you are growing or moving faster than your spouse for a variety of reasons.  However, if you keep your spouse in the dark or leave him or her behind then resentment has the opportunity to grow and take over your marriage.  You will then find a new resentment for your spouse for not appreciating your growth and your spouse will resent you for leaving him or her out of your growth.  As you learn more about yourself, include your spouse in your understanding and if needed help your spouse to grow with you.

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.

When Your Spouse Wants to Separate and You Don’t

One of the hardest words to hear from your spouse is the request that you separate for a while or possible even divorce.  Sometimes these words are expected but they are never fully realized while other times these words catch you by surprise.  It is hard to hear and even harder to understand the reason why the separation is necessary as the most obvious reason is frequently not the real reason.  Trying to understand everything before you move on can be a fruitless process as you may not be dealing with the complete truth.  Yet, if you will open yourself up and work past the pain, this can be a time for growth and healing.

Get thinking.   Your time is best not spent making a list of your spouse’s faults and failures, more than likely if they wanted to know your thoughts, they would have asked.  Quite possibly they may already know what you think and are not interested in being reminded of their failures.  Instead of focusing your energy on them, you are far better off focusing your energy on yourself and what you can change.  You cannot change your spouse, otherwise they would be a different person by now and you would not be in this position, but you can change yourself.

Get real.  Do an inventory of yourself making a list of your strengths and weaknesses.  Do not let your spouse or others to make the list, instead compile the list yourself.  Once you have made the list then take a couple of days off and reevaluate the list adding and subtracting as needed.  Having a better perspective of yourself allows you to see things differently and perhaps brings to light some of your failures in the marriage.

Get personal.  Identify the areas that you have failed in your marriage and take responsibility for your faults.  This is a time to ask for forgiveness for mistakes not only from those you have harmed but from God and yourself as well.  This is an extremely difficult process and should be done with great care without expecting any results.  This is not a time to compare faults and decide whose faults are worse; rather it is a time to deal with your issues.

Get moving.  Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself will not help the situation.  Your life has changed and it may be a temporary change or a permanent one but nonetheless it has changed.  You need to adjust to your new situation, new environment, and new reality as soon as possible.  One of the best ways is to try a new exercise routine, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or help a friend with their problem.  By doing something for someone else, you can gain a better perspective on your own life.

While this list may not keep you from feeling depressed or sad due to the separation, it can help you to change your focus off your spouse and onto yourself in a more positive way.  However, prolonged depression should be addressed with a medical professional or counselor.  You can change and you can grow even through some of the most difficult times in your life.

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.

What Not to Say to Your Unemployed Spouse

Having your spouse out of work for any extended period of time can be stressful especially in an economy where the unemployment rate is the highest it has been in over 20 years.  Many unemployed workers are looking for any job whether it is in their profession or not just to cover the bills.  In addition, there is also an increase in the number of employees dissatisfied in their work place but afraid to change jobs for fear of an extended unemployment.  Talk about stress.

Added to that stress is the normal stress of a marriage relationship.  As if there wasn’t enough to be stressed about in a marriage with mortgages, finances, kids, in-laws, bills, minimal cash flow, lack of communication and decreased sex drive; now add to that the stress of unemployment.  These are the kind of stressors that can make or break your marriage relationship, but this is precisely the time that the vow “For better or for worse” was intended.

It is hard to know what to say to friends during difficult times because it can literally make or break a friendship.  But if you say the wrong thing to your spouse during this time, it can paralyze them for days of inactivity precisely when activity is needed.  Even when you try to be encouraging, it can sometimes come across as patronizing.  But by looking at what not to say, you can minimize the damage.  Here is a bit of humor at what not to say to your spouse during these times.

  1. The grunge look ended in the 90’s.
  2. How many Star Gate episodes are you up to now?
  3. Did you do anything today?
  4. Didn’t you wear that yesterday?
  5. My headaches will go away when you have a job.
  6. Here is your “To Do” list to do.
  7. Did you get a job yet?
  8. I knew this would happen.
  9. I see why you were let go.
  10. You can always go work for my dad.

A better approach is to put yourself in their shoes and be more loving in your comments.   After all, unemployment has a way of making even the most secure person insecure for a period of time.  While your spouse may seem unmotivated, unfocused, and unproductive for a period of time, this is a normal reaction to unemployment.  Instead of the above comments, try words of encouragement, a kind gesture and an act of service which are far more productive in the end than nagging or complaining.

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.