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.

Under the Influence of Marriage Series: Driving Under the Influence of Marriage

On the way to an out of town wedding, he is driving because she took too long to get ready and now they are running late.

Her.  [Great, he’s lost again for the hundredth time.  He won’t stop and ask for directions and now I’m going to miss the processional after all that hard work on the flowers.  See he doesn’t really care about what I do.  Oh no, what is he wearing?  He doesn’t really think that tie matches, does he?] Honey, I don’t recognize this way.”

Him[Gosh why can’t she just shut up, I’m tired of being talked to like a two year old.] “I’m going the way the GPS told me to go.”

Her. [Stupid GPS, doesn’t he know by now that it can’t be trusted?  Why can’t he just use some common sense for a change and follow the directions my Aunt gave us.  She went out of her way on a very busy day to send us special directions and now I’ll have to tell her that she wasted her time.] “I don’t think this is the way my Aunt recommended.”

Him. [Your Aunt, whatever, I got this.] “Look I’m going the best possible way.”

Her. [He always does this when it’s an event for my side of the family.  But if it was his side of the family, everything would be different.  Well, at least I won’t have to put up with his father making obnoxious jokes and his mother in her clown painted face make-up at this wedding.  Now I’m going to have to listen to my father say yet again just how many minutes we were late.] “Well then don’t blame me if we get lost.”

Him. [OMG, this woman is going to drive me insane!] “I’m not lost; I waited patiently for 15 minutes while you got ready.”

Her. [Patience, he calls stomping, ranting, and honking the horn patience!  I’ll give him patience. Try waiting for that stupid closet door to get fixed over the last year or how about cleaning out the garage.  He hasn’t done that in about five years and I haven’t mentioned it in six months.  Now that’s patience, waiting for 15 minutes so that I can look good for him is nothing and it’s obvious that he doesn’t even appreciate all my hard work.] “Look there’s a gas station.  Do you want me to ask for directions?”

Him. [You have got to be kidding me.  I know where I am going!] “Just a little bit further.”

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 fuming during her 15 minute delay, he could have taken the time to preprogram the GPS and compare the directions with her Aunt’s.  Then he could have called Aunt Betsy to answer the discrepancies prior to leaving.  She could have planned on being ready 15 minutes earlier instead of later by setting the time of departure 30 minutes in advance.  A wedding should be a fun event so with a little planning ahead of time, departing won’t be so stressful.

During.  Instead of projecting blame on each other, they could have taken responsibility for their own part in the delay.  He could have examined other options such as calling the Aunt while driving instead of insisting on driving on and being prideful.  She should not call her Aunt however, because such a move can leave him feeling invalidated.  Rather, she needs to find her happy place and keep her mouth shut.

After.  Arriving at a wedding after a heated argument is not the best way to greet a newly married couple.  Once harsh words are thought and spoken, the face will betray the mind and tensions will continue to rise.  Instead, before you step out of the car, take a moment to visualize the argument being left at the scene of the crime which is in the car.  Do not take it inside!  Consider the wedding to be a timeout of sorts or a healthy distraction, you can return to the argument when you return to the car.  You just might find that by the end of the wedding, most will be forgotten and the rest should be forgiven.

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.

What Type of Narcissistic Husband Do You Have? Part 1

You have finally realized that you are married to a narcissist.  Everyone else around you already knew this and even warned you about him but for some reason you thought it would be different.  Maybe you believed that he would change for you and maybe he did before you got married but as soon as you walked down the aisle everything changed.  Suddenly this incredible dreamy person who swept you off your feet, met and even exceeded your every expectation, became this other alternate ego.  At first he convinced you that you were the problem and then you finally realized that he is.

Now what do you do?  Well there are several obvious destructive options: have an affair, run to another county, develop an addiction, become even more depressed, gossip about him to a few hundred of your girlfriends, or end the marriage in divorce (which seems easy but is often very ugly).  Or instead you could learn to understand what you are dealing with and accept him for what he is rather than expecting him to change, which is not likely happen no matter how many tears you shed.  So take a long look back and begin the process of understanding the type of narcissist he is.

Poker Face.  These are the quiet narcissists who make major decisions without talking to you.  They will buy a house without talking to you or make changes in their occupation without even mentioning a word.  On the outside they look great and appear to be gentle and kind but this is all a front.  Inside they are using this kind appearance to deceive and control others around them.  They have learned that by keeping quiet no one knows what they are thinking and therefore they can better manipulate other’s actions.  It is really an unexpected sneak attack which happens so quickly that you don’t even notice.  The struggle with Poker Faces is that everyone loves them and no one believes just how controlling they really are behind the scenes.

How to handle a Poker Face?  Don’t take their lack of communication about important decisions as a reflection on your abilities.  Learn to make your own decisions and don’t back down from it.  Begin to anticipate the sneak attacks and look for signs that it is coming; there is usually some evidence that in hindsight becomes 20/20 next time.

Bullies.  These are the loud, pushy, and overly aggressive narcissists who will make decisions by bulldozing over you.  They will buy a house by verbally beating up the realtor, seller, mortgage broker, attorney and anyone else who gets in their way.  They want to be noticed and then appreciated for their aggressiveness all while not being afraid of anyone.  In fact, they become even more competitive and verbal when someone tries to mitigate them with a fear tactic.  The struggle with Bullies is that everyone placates to them because it is easier to give in than to take it on the chin.

How to handle a Bully?  Don’t make excuses for them, apologize for their behavior or tolerate the verbal assaults.  Decide on a boundary and stick with it no matter what they do or say.  While the verbal assaults may worsen at first, they will lessen when you don’t back down.  Think of the bully on the play ground and stand your ground.

Girly.  Normally narcissists are void of feeling, but these believe their feelings are king and they literally take up all of the oxygen in a room just expressing themselves.  How they feel is always right, no matter what the circumstances.  They will buy a house by how it makes them feel:  if they feel important, then they will buy it; if not, they won’t.   When you agree with their feelings there is an intense euphoric high but if you don’t, watch out because they will attack you.  The struggle with Girlies is that they appear to be very sensitive but in actuality, they are only sensitive to their feelings and not yours.

How to handle a Girly?  Don’t accept responsibility for their feelings; instead allow them the freedom to feel however they want.  Decide how you feel independently of them and don’t mix the two up.  Most especially, don’t suppress your feelings or they will eventually explode in an enormous mess.

Debaters.  These are the most logical group of the bunch but they can be as deadly as heat seeking missiles that are aimed at you if you dare to disagree.  They will buy a house by obsessing over excessive details, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with the purchase.  They over explain everything again and again and just in case you didn’t get it the third time, one more time again.   Worse, they require you to agree with every small detail and then to agree again with their conclusion.  If you don’t, they will seek to prove you wrong till you do agree.  Literally it seems the only way to stop debating with them is to agree.  The struggle with Debaters is that everyone eventually agrees with them and then does what they want to do behind their back.

How to handle a Debater?  Don’t lie by agreeing with them when you don’t, in the end you will be the one frustrated.  Instead trust your own logic and learn to use logic against them only when necessary.  Be calm and take time out to continue the debate later if you get flustered.

By understanding the type of narcissist you are married to and accepting him for who he is rather than wishing he would change, you can improve the state of your marriage.  Not all people who are married to a narcissist divorce; in fact many stay married and can even be happy in their marriage.  But in order to have a healthy marriage, you need to know your limitations and stand your ground firmly in love.

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 Importance of Win-Win Arguments in Your Marriage

Win, Lose or Draw

Win, Lose or Draw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You are having that same argument about money again.  One person believes the money needs to be spent and the other person believes the money should be saved.  Sometimes the argument is spoken out loud and sometimes the argument is done silently, nonetheless the same argument is replayed over and over.  If the spender gets their way then they are happy to have won this round, if the saver gets their way then they are happy to have won.  In both cases the opposing spouse often feels like the loser of the argument desperately trying to figure out how to win the next round.

Everyone falls into this trap sometime; maybe the issue is manifests differently but the pattern is the same.  The problem is not the issue per say, but rather the outcome.  There are three possible outcomes to any argument: win-lose, lose-lose and win-win.  However, in a marriage only two of the three outcomes are really possible.

Lose-Lose.  In lose-lose outcomes, both spouses walk away feeling as if nothing was resolved and words were unnecessarily spoken.  The argument may have escalated beyond the issue into past behavior, words, and/or feelings or additional unrelated topics may have entered the argument.  Lose-Lose outcomes occur when both sides lose track of the topic and begin the finger-pointing game.  The reality is that both of you are on the same team in a marriage so every lose-lose argument becomes destructive rather than constructive.

Win-Lose.  In win-lose outcomes, if one of you feels like they have lost, then in actuality both of you have lost because a marriage is a team of two people.  One spouse trying to get the upper hand of the other is like pampering your right hand over your left.  Even if one hand does more work than the other, both are equally important while serving separate functions.  So when one spouse walks away from the argument feeling like they have not been heard, there is no real agreement and the win-lose outcome becomes a lose-lose outcome.

Win-Win.  In win-win outcomes, both spouses feel heard, feel safe, feel valued, and feel respected.  This is by far the most time-consuming outcome of the three but it is also the most rewarding and will strengthen your marriage in the process.  As the win-win concept becomes a goal in your arguments, you will find that it takes less and less work to reach the outcome because you have already laid out the ground work for mutual understanding.  Notice that the win-win outcome is not about who is right but rather about each of you feels at the end.  One spouse maybe right all along but how they value the other spouse’s opinion or perspective makes all the difference.

As a side note, submission in a marriage is not about winning or losing in an argument, rather it is a gift of trust given from the heart just as loving unconditionally is a gift given from the heart.  A person demanding submission or love misses out on the true value of the gift just like a child demanding a present misses out on the joy of receiving something unexpected.  Once demanded, it does not satisfy quite like the unexpected gift.

Striving for win-win outcomes in your arguments is a struggle but in the end it is worth the effort.  So the next time you are tempted to end the argument by railroading over your spouse, stop and consider the value of your team.  If your marriage is important to you, then the extra time to make it work is well worth it.

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 be Unloving to Your Wife

Just as a wife needs to read what it feels like to be disrespectful to her husband, a man needs to read what it feels like to be unloving to his wife.  So if you are a wife reading this, please don’t email this article to your husband and demand he reads it.  If you are a husband reading this, please take it as it was written, tongue-in-cheek.  Sometimes you can see things more clearly by identifying what it looks to be unloving rather than loving.

These can be done nearly anywhere as your wife is sure to take offense at each and every one.  Just be careful not to do all of them at the same time or you might overload her with feelings of resentment.  Rather, spread them out over a period of time to make sure she knows just how much you don’t love her.

  • Her home – Whenever possible, point out all of the things that are wrong in the house and how it never looks like she contributes to the care of it.  This is especially effective when she has gone out of her way to make the house look nice and you ignore it with your silence instead of recognizing it.  If she has done something that you don’t like such as rearranging the furniture or painting a wall, take the time to rearrange it back or complain that the color is your least favorite.  The more she prides herself on how her house looks, the more effective this tactic will be.
  • Her relationships – Since most women gain value from their relationships, criticize her friends regularly and demand she be friends only with the people you like.  Throw in a couple of sarcastic remarks about her friends in front of her friends and watch the tension mount.  If she seems to side with the friends, don’t be compassionate instead demand her undying loyalty to you in front of her friends.
  • Her religion – Don’t forget about the power in reminding your wife that she needs to submit to you because God says so.  By mixing a dose of religious guilt along with your statements, most women become confused and frustrated because love and guilt don’t mix well.  That is your opportunity to strike the next blow just to make sure she knows who is boss.
  • Her family – Many wives are attached to their mothers and have a bond that is difficult to break so do your best to target her mother at every opportunity with cutting remarks.  When you are done with her mother, attack her father especially if she was a “daddy’s girl”.  Even if he is the nicest person, you can still find fault.  Make sure there is a dose of truth mixed with plenty of exaggeration to alienate any allies she might have now or in the future.
  • Her work – This is one of the best categories as any way you go you can still win.  For instance, if she makes less money than you, tell her that she is not pulling her own financial weight.  This is best done to stay-at-home moms who don’t earn any income, make sure you remind her at every turn just how much she has to depend on you for financial support.  If she makes more money than you and you work, be as unsupportive of her job as possible so she knows just how frustrated you are that she is earning more.  If she makes more money than you and you don’t work, drop the mommy guilt card as often as possible by insisting that she spend more time at home and how much the kids miss her every day.
  • Her appearance – Most women take some pride in their appearance so if she gets some new make-up complain about the cost or if she buys a new dress tell her that it doesn’t fit.  This is a tactic that yields results quickly as the more subtle the remark, the more she internalizes your comments and plays them over and over in her head.  She never really escapes obsessing over her appearance even when she doesn’t look good, she’ll just say that she doesn’t care or doesn’t have time.  So one of the best ways to discourage her is to tell her that those few pounds she lost really don’t make a difference in how she looks and she still shouldn’t wear that dress.  Take the opportunity when she gets a hair cut not to notice the difference, better yet ask her what the hairdresser did for all of that money.
  • Her hobbies – Just walk into any craft store and you will find a host of hobbies that most women love to do.  If your wife is one of these women, tell her she is wasting her money on such enjoyment and her money would be better spent on something that you or the kids need.  Adding the mommy guilt touch is especially effective when your wife is spending her time doing something she enjoys.  After all, she had the children, she needs to raise them.
  • Her sexuality – The internet has wonderful pictures of perfect female bodies doing crazy sexual things that are great for comparing your wife and her performance.  If you are bold enough, leave a screen up or show her one of the sites so that she can get a good idea of just what you want and need because it is all about you.  If she has a period of disinterest in sex, don’t justify her behavior by saying it’s hormonal, instead demand that she perform for you sexually.
  • Her dreams – Every now and then remind her of a dream that she never fulfilled or one that she tried and failed.  This is very powerful if you had to rescue her from whatever the situation was and by reminding her of that you are telling her just how dependant she is on you.  There should be no promotion of independence as that is showing love.
  • Her moods – It is no secret that some women get moody a couple of days during the month so if your wife is in this category show no mercy.  Remind her that no matter how she feels, she still needs to take care of you and all your needs.  Never mind that you have been grumpy on occasion, her moodiness is no excuse not to do everything you expect her to do.  You can also use her moods against her by saying that she has no need to cry and that crying is for babies.
  • Her decisions – No doubt she has made a few bad decisions in the time you have known her so keep a tally of all of her mistakes.  You may need to write them down so you don’t forget the next time you have an argument.  Bring up all of her poor choices and then treat her like a child even talking or yelling at her as you would a child.  If she protests, remind her that she acts like more like a child then an adult.
  • Her morality – Last by not least, if your wife has done anything immoral such as drunkenness, adultery, slept with someone before you, pornography, or drug use just to name a few, remind her of her previous behavior and suggest that she return to it whenever things get too tough.  Don’t let your wife get away with the idea that people can change, remind her that she will never change and she will always be the ___ you once knew.

By mastering all of the above suggestions, your marriage will be well on its way to join half of all marriages that end in divorce.  So now that you know what your wife needs to feel unloved, go and conquer.

For more information, watch this YouTube video:

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.