Have You Lost That Loving Feeling in Your Marriage?

In every marriage there are moments when the feeling of love and romance seems lost to the busyness of everyday. The intense and exciting love you once strongly felt is now replaced with feelings of comfort and security. While this is important, you still desire the intense excitement of your earlier years.

The mistake some make is looking for that loving feeling in someone else rather than in their spouse. They might contact old flings trying desperately to find that intensity and excitement again. Or they believe that their marriage is beyond that point and instead settle for the mundane. But neither option needs to be the case. Instead, try these options.

Remember.  Grab an old photo album, turn on your song, eat at your favorite restaurant, or relive your first date. Do anything that reminds you of when you first met. Then remember what you first loved about your spouse and speak it to each another. This is not the time to rehash old arguments or frustrations; rather it is a time to reflect on the good times and what did work well between the two of you.

Repent.  Anytime you visit the past, there will be moments when you realize that you hurt one another. Take a few moments to acknowledge the past hurts, ask for forgiveness, and let it go. Holding onto past hurts is like erecting a wall around your heart to protect yourself from any more harm. When you ask for forgiveness and intentionally work at not repeating the same mistake, you allow your spouse to remove the wall around their heart and the love will flow more freely.

Rediscover.  You have grown in your marriage and so has your spouse. You are not the same person that first got married. Spend some time getting to know the person your spouse has become instead of the person you have decided they have become. Give grace to each other and you will discover a love that is far deeper than the intense and exciting love that you once felt.

It is never too late to turn your marriage around. By remembering, repenting and rediscovering your spouse you can turn your hearts towards one another and your bond will become stronger than when you first began.

 

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.

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The Secret Lie of Narcissism

secret

Beneath all of that bravado and charm lies a hidden secret the narcissist doesn’t want you to find. They will do anything to protect their secret from you.

They might lie about it.  Or they might divert your attention with an innovative story. Or they might project their secret onto you. Come close to figuring it out and the result is warfare for control.

Narcissists will use all types of abuse to dominate you. They use verbal (i.e. threats, intimidation), physical (i.e. restraining, choking), emotional (i.e. fear or guilt tactics), mental (i.e. gaslighting, silent treatment), financial (i.e. withholding, exploitation), sexual (i.e. forced, coerced) or spiritual (i.e. isolation from family, legalism) forms of abuse.

Their fear is this… information equals power. If you know their secret, you will then embarrass or humiliate them. This is the worst thing they can imagine… others thinking less of them.

So what is this precious secret? Hidden deep inside, all narcissists have an overwhelming feeling of insecurity. Their lack of self-worth stems from some unmet need. Find the unmet need and you have discovered the Achilles’ heel. Here are a few examples.

Need for love. Many narcissists are raised by narcissists who practice conditional instead of unconditional love. This uncertainty of love often manifests in the insatiable desire for affirmation, attention, intimacy, or sex. When they don’t feel loved, narcissists seek out anyone who will satisfy their need.

Need for safety. When a narcissist has been traumatized as a child and hurt by someone they love, the need for future safety becomes myopic. They are consumed by the need for security and protection for themselves and family members.  Unsafe environments breed the desire for greater control and stronger intensity.

Need for acceptance. Repeated bullying at a young age can cause a narcissist to feel like they don’t belong. This can create a sense of isolation in peer groups. Or instead some narcissists strive in vain to appear to be all things to everyone in order to be accepted. A lack of acceptance often brings out offensive behavior and overreaction to others.

Need for respect. Over use of the phrase, “That is disrespectful” indicates the narcissist feels everyone is against them. Their strong sense of entitlement and favorable treatment creates a tense atmosphere whenever they feel impertinence. Whenever they report being disrespected, expect a verbal or even physical attack as demonstration of their intolerance.

Need for fundamentals. This is not as common in younger narcissists because they have not endured an economical depression. But for the older generation who grew up during the Great Depression, the need for food, shelter, and clothing became a driving force. Not having the fundamentals leads to hording and miserly attitudes.

So what do you do with the new found Achilles’ heel? Recognize that at the heart of a narcissist is a very broken person with the same needs as everyone else. The difference is that their secret need is concealed because of their deep shame and guilt. This is no way justifies their poor behavior but it can help to explain it. How you handle the information is your choice.

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.

10 Signs Your Marriage Might Be Depressed

depressed marriageA depressed marriage?  What is that?  Just like you can become depressed over the loss of someone you love or the economy can become depressed over a real estate financial crisis, so your marriage can suffer from depression.  A depression in your marriage however does not mean that your marriage is over rather it is a low period in a series of highs and lows which occur in every marriage.  Here are some signs that you might be going through a depressed marriage:

  1. Difficulty making even minor decisions let alone major decisions without an argument.
  2. Intimacy such as hand holding, sitting close together, or kissing becomes more routine (if it exists at all) rather than heart-felt.
  3. Lack of desire to spend any time together; prefer to spend free time alone.
  4. One or both of you has already spoken of getting a divorce or separating.
  5. The excitement in your marriage is gone; you don’t look forward to seeing or hearing from each other.
  6. Conversation is limited to the bare essentials of scheduling, managing the house, and checking in.  No longer are there conversations about the things you are passionate about.
  7. You intentionally avoid your spouse and notice your spouse avoiding you.
  8. Fantasies of other partners, what you would do if your spouse passes away, or the peace that could come from separating begins to consume your thoughts.
  9. You or your spouse finds reasons not to spend the night in your bed, you don’t go to bed at the same time, or you put physical boundaries such as pillows between you.
  10. No sex or interest in sex.

Your Choice.  Once you realize that your marriage might be depressed, you have a choice in your response.  You can reflect and learn from the depression or you can shut down and run from your marriage.  Option one allows the possibility that your marriage can come out of this depression even stronger.  Think again about the real estate depression and how much was learned from the mistakes of over-valuing homes, over-lending from banks, and over-mortgaging a house.  Option two will most likely end up in divorce court.

Reflecting.  It is helpful if both of you are engaged and honest in this process of reflecting on the state of your marriage.  However, that is not always practical as usually one spouse has a clearer perspective than the other spouse.  Whatever the case, spend some time with each point and assign a number from 0 (not a problem at all) to 10 (deal breaker).  Ask yourself how much have you contributed to the problem and take responsibility for your actions before speaking with your spouse.  When you do speak with your spouse, be careful that your spouse’s issues do not outweigh your number of issues.  Remember to speak the truth in love to your spouse.

Learning.  Learning is a two-way street in a marriage.  You need to learn from your spouse and your spouse needs to learn from you.  This is not about getting your way or proving that you are better than your spouse.  If you want the marriage to survive through the depression then it is important to keep the long-term goal at the front of your mind.  There is no quicker way to destroy a marriage than to point out all of your spouse’s flaws, demand that they change, and then refuse to concede to any change yourself.  Learning means that you are receiving information, processing it, and doing something about it.  This is a gently process, not a forced one.

Your marriage can survive a depression.  Sometimes it helps to have another person such as a counselor or pastor come alongside you during the process to give an objective point of view.  Self-help books can be useful as well but both of you need to be willingly engaged in the process in order for the book to be effective.  Whatever the path you choose, know that your depression does not have to last for a lifetime, it can be just for a short season.

 

 

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: Value Your Spouse’s Advice above Others

The usual response is “You won’t say that if you knew the kind of advice my spouse gives”.  Ok, so maybe you are right but consider this possibility.  You still can place value or importance on a piece of advice without following through on the advice.  The way you show value to your spouse’s advice is to listen to it without complaining or assuming that you already know what he or she is going to say.  If you chose not to take the advice, that is your decision but you can still listen and give your spouse’s opinion the weight it deserves for your level of commitment.  The point is simple, by valuing your spouse’s advice you are demonstrating that your spouse is the most significant person in your life and their input is important to you.  This is a show of intentional commitment to one another.

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.

Practical Tips When Your Spouse Loses a Parent

Thank you Hannah Peterson for sending me this article, “How to Help When Your Spouse Loses a Parent”!  The article is well written and offers some practical advise for handling this difficult time.  It is one of those articles you save for when you need it and aren’t sure where to begin to help.

http://www.lifeinsurancequotes.org/how-to-help-when-your-spouse-loses-a-parent/

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.

Personalities: Do You Know Someone Who Always Likes to be In Charge?

Dominating Dan storms in the house after a long day of dealing with completely incompetent people and is more frustrated than ever that Human Resources will not let him fire his entire staff.  Not only is his staff incapable of keeping a deadline but he has to tell them what to do every step of the way.  “Why can’t they think for themselves?” he mutters, “Life would be so much easier if everyone did what they were told when they were told to do it.”  Dan looks around the house seeing the kids playing with unfinished homework still on the dining room table and explodes.  He yells for the kids to stop having fun and get back to work so they don’t grow up to be as incompetent as his employees.  As usual nothing is finished on his timetable as he has previously instructed and everything is always late.  If only the world had more disciplined and motivated people like him then everything would be fine and the world would not be in such chaos.

Sound familiar?  If so, then your someone is a “D” in the DISC personality profile which is “Dominating”.  Their motto in life is to “Get it done now”, for them completing a task on time is the most important element.  Competition is their best friend as there is no need to push them to complete a task, just the mention of someone else accomplishing a task is enough to propel them into action to out-perform everyone else in their path.  They are self-motivated, determined, driven, goal-oriented over-achievers.  If you say something can’t be done, just watch them prove you wrong.  They get energy from knowing they have out-done their friends, spouses, children, co-workers, pastors, parents, and anyone else in their life.  But be warned, they are not afraid to step on your back to get where they want to be or to throw you under the bus if in the end it helps them.  For them, the ends do justify the means and life would be so much better if everyone was just like them.

As a Spouse.  Expect them to insist on winning every argument and wanting to be control of all aspects of your life.  They want to know who, what, where, why, and when not because they care about the details but because they like the control.  Sometimes it will feel like you are the child and they are the adult and when that happens, they have you exactly where they want you.  Since they are focused and driven, they are likely to delegate relational issues but want to maintain overall control over everything else including the kid’s schedule.  They can smell a false sense of control a mile away, so faking that they are in control will not work but will back-fire instead.  Since they need to be in charge of something at home, let them have their area of choice just don’t make it relational in nature.

As a Friend.  If you ask them for advice, not only do they willingly give it to you but they tell you all about how they have done it better in the past.  If you take their advice, you are their new best friend but if you reject their advice, you better have your armor on because they are coming after you with a vengeance.  Because they like to take the lead on things, as long as they are directing the friendship things will be just fine but if you try to direct the friendship they will drop you like a hot potato and accuse you of being a fake friend.

As a Co-Worker.  They don’t play nice with other children, so at work, they are the least likely to get along with others.  They do much better in leadership positions so they naturally take the lead on nearly every project even if they are not the expert.   But if you try to lead instead of them, you will be met with such sharp criticism that you will never try it again.  Let them take the lead and follow their lead because even if it is the wrong direction, they will protect you.  But if you confront them, you are left without any protection and are more likely to become the object of their next target.

As a Child.  Again, they don’t play nice with other children so they are usually the ones ordering everyone else around.  They have a natural knack for finding the flaw in everyone else but if you point out their flaw you will be met with a harsh rebuke or a temper tantrum.  Since they are task-oriented, they are likely to excel in school as the idea of doing better than their siblings or classmates motivates them beyond their natural talents.  This strong determination is well-praised in school so it reinforces the behavior driving the child to achieve more, be better and be stronger but it carries with it the price of isolation from peers as other child do not enjoy being on the losing end of an unknown competition.

More than likely you have already identified a boss or entrepreneur who fits this description to a tee as these positions seem to suite them well.  They are hard-workers and expect others to work as hard as they do all the time.  The biggest problem is that they work too hard and alienate themselves from others in the process.  The stress of their profession and the need to achieve can be a deadly combination as they are likely to have stress related health issues as well.  So the next time you encounter a Dominating Dan, remember that there is a price to pay for all the success and choose to show them compassion instead of jealousy.

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.