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Posts Tagged ‘Marriage problems’

Work DisputeWatch out!

When a codependent has a break through and they find their voice and how to make a stand in their life things can get a little rough. It follows the old cliche that things might get worse before they get better.

Underneath all of the self sacrifice that has been stuffed down and stacked up inside resurfaces going in the opposite direction. Instead of self sacrifice in order to get love from another person, this new found sense of freedom and independence turns into tough love. The codependent understands that it is okay to express themselves, their opinions and not worry any longer about what others think about them. It’s not that they don’t care, they just no longer worry about it.

Now comes the good and the not so good.

The good is personal freedom is often being experience for the first time in a very long time and quite possibly for the first time in their lives. This is not a move toward self-centeredness but a move toward self care taking and exercising some personal independence. It’s moving the self out from the subjection of others and into being objective in relationships and the environment in which they work and live.

Being objective in any situation means that the opinions, thoughts and feelings formed are unique to the individual who is experiencing them. These thoughts, feelings and opinions are viewed by the person who is holding them as just as worthy as anyone else, so there is a bit of self esteem that comes with this new freedom. It goes like this “my thoughts, feelings and opinions are just as valid as anyone else.”

Now the not so good, but it often gets better. Just like any new skill learned it takes practice to get the hang of it. Here is another cliche; “it’s not what we say, it’s how we say it. ” Here comes the stuffing. Like an overstuffed pillow, when the zipper first gets cracked open all the stuffing comes flying out all over the place. The idea is to treat it like a balloon, let out more air than is coming in bit by bit.

Usually the first few attempt come across as angry and brash. By validating and accepting themselves they struggle with the concept that they are doing harm or wronging another person by not putting the other person’s needs first. The codependent is finding their voice often for the first time and is learning how to communicate it. This takes time and practice. In this phase, learning self forgiveness goes a long way. Arguments may erupt, especially with family members who may not understand and only see a shift in behavior. Family and loved ones, not fully understanding what is going on, have to make adjustments as well since the dynamics of the relationship have changed.

One of the most common reasons why codependency happens is that somewhere along the road of the life the codependent learned to allow others to validate them. When they feel this validation is when they feel accepted, loved and liked as a person. When they move into this new sense of freedom they have learned how to accept themselves and not seek this validation from others. This can be a difficult behavior and habit for the codependent to detach from and learn new ones.

Learning how to live up to other people’s expectations is a tall order to fill. The codependent struggles to fit in with changing scenarios and compromises their true self in order to feel accepted or loved by others. People in healthy relationships have a genuine respect for each others thoughts, feelings and opinions, not because they match theirs, but because they are comfortable in their own skin, and their own right. It kinda follows one last cliche, “We can agree to disagree and still be friends. ” How is this possible? Because dropping codependency is about someone who accepts themselves for who they are, not who they think they ought to be in the eyes of another.

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decisional balance

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” ― Steve Maraboli

Deciding to take that first step to call a mental health professional to discuss personal problems can be an intimidating experience. It is normal to feel anxious or afraid when a person begins the process of opening up to discuss their issues especially if the pain has been stuffed or packed away for years. So, if going to therapy is about healing then what makes it so difficult? What causes people to avoid it? Why is it so hard to sort out problems and getting to the bottom of depression, relieving anxiety, or finally grieving the loss of something or someone held dearly? Or, perhaps what is going to take to finally kick that addiction habit that has become a routine part of life?

Often the answer to these questions are multifaceted for many reasons. A famous quote attributed to many famous people goes something like this, “people will only seek changing their situation in life when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than going through the pain of changing it.” Like this quote suggests, when does enough become enough? Emotions are strong and powerful motivators and often people seek counseling when they can no longer tolerate the pain. Emotions are there for a good reason, they say something about what a person is experiencing. Too often people become familiar with their pain, they don’t want to deal with it and results in a dysfunctional comfort zone or a type of distorted truth .

There is only so much emotional stuffing and distorting thinking the mind can hold. It has limitations. Like our dear old psychology friend Sigmund Freud once said “our bodies betray our minds.” In other words, the psychological suffering manifests itself somewhere else in the body. The worry wears holes in the stomach, leads to loss of sleep, stress creates body aches, anxiety can increase heart rate, blood pressure and sweating and in severe cases it can manifest into a panic attack.

A metaphoric way of looking at this is like that drawer at home that has been stuffed so full of junk it comes off the tracks because it won’t open. The drawer is opened and another miscellaneous object is tossed in there never to be seen or thought about again. Out of sight out of mind, right? But it is still there. Over time the junk drawer gets to be too much, it’s overwhelming, it needs to get cleaned out, organized and put back together. Following this is a sense of accomplishment , feeling better about the situation and it becomes more easily managed and maintained.

Where to Begin?

Recognizing that there is unwanted or unmerited pain in life is the first step. While this is good awareness, how does it lead to healing? Therapy now becomes a question of motivation and it might begin to get a little personal. A common reason for the uneasiness has to do with not wanting to roll out of the dysfunctional comfort zone and start breaking it all down. In assessing motivation this is referred to as being either ambivalent or contemplative. It is not action yet. The language of being ambivalent or contemplative says, “I don’t have/or want a problem, I’m okay right where I am” and all the while the person knows deep down inside the problem is there and unsure whether to take action.

A useful tool to help muster up the courage to go to counseling is something called a decisional balance. This process looks at, and weighs the balance of the benefits versus costs of counseling, and the benefits and costs of not going to counseling. For example:

Counseling Benefits:

  • Increased control over life
  • Better marriage/relationships
  • Better work performance
  • Improved health

Counseling Costs:

  • Experiencing emotional pain
  • Increased anxiety
  • Financial commitment

Not Counseling Benefits:

  • Don’t have to deal with problems
  • Easier to keep stuffing emotions
  • Don’t have to think about it

Not Counseling Costs:

  • Job loss
  • Relationship/Marriage loss
  • Increased health risk

These are only examples of how to measure and weight out the decision of whether or not counseling is needed. What side is the balance tipping toward, going or not going? In the long run, seeking out therapy is often a question of motivation. If still contemplating therapy ask and evaluate the answers to these very simple questions; what would be achieved as a result of going, what is the worst that could happen, what is the best that could happen?

Hebrews 12:11 New International Version (NIV) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

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Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Sometimes when getting married, people may unknowingly be getting involved with a controlling manipulator. Controlling people manipulate others seeking personal gain in return. It’s a power and control play. They manipulate their spouse, or significant other, into doing whatever it is they want. They do not invest time nurturing the relationship and do this by making everything all about them. It’s a toxic personality.

The controlling person often sees others as a way to serve them or to provide something for them. People are to be used. This type of behavior is often found beyond marriage extending into family and their workplace. People seeking power and position in the workplace are notorious for manipulating others. They lack empathy and absent of compassionate behavior toward their spouse, and usually toward others in general. They can, and often, are very charming at first, that is, until they don’t get their way. Once they don’t get their way this is when the controlling power tactics show up. The superficial charm didn’t work so now force, manipulation and coercion is used instead.

The manipulation is a system of power and control tactics used to control the marriage or relationship. Listed here are some common areas that a controlling person will use to manipulate.

  1. Threatening behavior and intimidation. Examples of this behavior include the use of hard looks (staring) and body postures (stern,rigid), yelling, throwing and smashing objects, showing weapons, punching walls and the destruction of other property. Threats to hurt other people the spouse cares about and at times may threaten to kill themselves to get others to respond to their demands.
  2. Verbal and Emotional Abuse. This includes name calling, constant criticism, correcting your comments, being humiliated or put down in front of others, insulting the spouse’s heritage and family, silent treatment and guilt trips.
  3. Extreme jealousy. attempts to control who their spouse hangs out with and keeps constant tabs where ever they go including constant calling and texting their phone. At work they may email them or call demanding their attention. The manipulator doesn’t want any other person in their lives for the basic reason they are jealous of others getting attention. Remember, to the manipulator it’s all about them.
  4. Using the children. This may include putting pressure to get pregnant, using the children to force the spouse to stay home, threaten to call the state for abuse or neglect, charming the children with gifts to put a negative spin on the other parent (known as “demonizing”, common in divorces).
  5. Money. This includes putting the other spouse on a tight budget, demanding information about how every dollar was spent, expecting favors in return for spending money on them, playing king or queen with the checkbook. Playing king or queen is about spending money on themselves but refuse to allow the other equal portion. This includes belittling the other by telling them they are not worth what they want to spend or they don’t deserve it.
  6. Gaslighting:  Gaslighting is quite possibly the most covert of all tactics. This is a non-clinical term used to describe a manipulator who tries to convince you that how you perceive a certain situation is not what it appears. In other words, your thinking is wrong and the intent is for you to question your won sensibility about a given situation. If gaslighting is done long and frequently enough the victim may even begin to question their own sanity. If you run into a person who gaslights chances are you dealing with the most extreme of all manipulators, usually on the narcissistic and sociopath line of thinkers. Don’t try to convince them of what they are doing, they won’t see it, and again, they will try to convince you that you are the one who is seeing it wrong. These are the crazy makers.

One thing to remember is that a person who is a manipulator in relationship is usually doing these things based on a deep rooted irrational fear of loss of control. Internally for the manipulator, it becomes a power struggle after the ego feels threatened and must take action against you to protect itself. This often when the abusive behaviors show up as indicated in the list.

Know When It’s Time To Get Out

Any time a relationship becomes physically or emotionally abusive it is time to get out. The emotional abuse, manipulation, power and control tactics are all warning signs that something is toxic. Common reasons people don’t leave a relationship, marriage, job etc. is because they feel helpless or powerless, or that the manipulator will actually carry out the threats.

Getting out requires planning, or restructuring of how you live your life. In the workplace it requires boundaries which will be discussed in another blog topic regarding Toxic Bosses. There are many resources available online or in the community that outline what is needed to create a safety plan if you find yourself in a dangerous marriage or relationship. Confronting a power controlling person can and often makes the situation worse. Getting out safely is the main goal…and keep it covert. Stealth is the name of the game when trying to get away from this type of person.

If you or someone you know may be in a marriage or relationship who has been manipulated in some way to the point they are afraid to reach out for help know that help is available. Below are some resource that can be very valuable.

http://www.resourcepoint.org/guides/guides_entry/domestic_violence_guide/

Hotlines and Helplines

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Florida hotline:  1-800-621-4202 (TTY)

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Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Being in a relationship with someone who is healthy creates good feelings of wanting to move forward with that person. In the process of relationship maturity there are certain characteristics to look out for that will help identify how things will play out in the long run. Sometimes unhealthy behavior can begin to raise little red flags in the mind that maybe something is not quite right. This is usually indicated by feelings of reluctance to spend time with the other person leading to avoidance issues. Wanting to isolate or getting away from the other person can be an indication of wanting to sort out thoughts and feelings about the relationship.

When sorting out these thoughts and feelings there are certain behaviors that signal there may be something to further evaluate. Whether married, engaged, dating or single; here are a few suggestions for self evaluation in a relationship.

  1. I can express my emotions, thoughts and feelings freely without judgment or criticism. Nurturing a relationship built on safety and trust goes a long way. Someone who is always criticizing or being judgmental about thoughts and feelings discourages growth and maturity and eventually other areas of the relationship, for example intimacy may begin to suffer. Healthy people respect each other, not criticize, even if they agree to disagree on certain subjects.
  2. Watch how the other person treats their close family members such as their parents and siblings. Are they being treated with respect or are they being negative and sarcastic? Often how these people are being treated can be a clue as to how people in a relationship will eventually be treated as well. When a relationship is new it can be exciting and most people want to present their best. As time goes on the real person begins to emerge and expose their true character. Conduct an early check by watching how they treat family.
  3. Be on the lookout for controlling behavior. Areas that are frequently used to control others are by getting aggressive regarding money, sex, anger and time spent with others. With money it is usually an issue by criticizing how you are spending money, making frequent suggestions on how to get more and then using manipulation to get it from you. In the case of marriage, money is controlled by restricting access to it and using intensive questioning about how it will be used. With sex, it is often withheld or the opposite occurs by being abusive and forceful when it is non-consensual. Anger is used to control the behavior response from others and is very highly prevalent with addictive behavior. Using anger to control is all about the controlling person which implies that “if you don’t do what I want then you will have to deal with me being unpleasant.” Finally, time with others, if a person questions or gets upset that time is being spent with others often presents an issue with jealousy. Jealousy can be an inroad leading to more complicated issues later in the relationship.

While this is not a comprehensive list of things to look out for in a relationship it can be a starting point or way to evaluate a few areas that may be of concern. Relationships can be complicated and involve many moving parts that go into the overall equation. Healthy relationships involve feeling comfortable with safety and trust with the other person. Safety and trust are foundational and allow for other areas of the relationship to grow such as maturity and intimacy. This is a kind of intimacy that goes beyond sex in the form of a deep knowing of the other person. Intimacy and maturity are lifelong endeavors in any relationship and really never stop growing. It takes time to get to really know someone.

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mcx-cheating-spouse-blog-mdWhy did my spouse cheat on me? While there is no simple answer to this question there is no doubt about when the news hits someone about a cheating spouse there is a flood of emotions that come with it. After the initial shock and emotions have subsided they begin to search for the answers as to why it happened. Some personal blame may begin to creep in, or guilt and shame that there could have been something done to prevent it from happening. Initial reactions typically run through the entire list of painful negative emotions such as anger, sadness, anxiety, worry and fear just to name a few.

Looking for answers, the non-cheating spouse will often try to rationalize the behavior or search for meaning as to why the affair happened. Sometimes the answer can be simple but usually there is something going on that is more complex. Here are 5 reasons as to why a spouse can have an affair.

  1. They chose to have one. Let’s just cut right to the chase. Regardless of the underlying reason, on the surface there was an opportunity to have the affair and they chose to move forward with it. There is always a choice whether to have one or not and to speak a simple truth in love is to expose how somewhere along the way that choice was made to have sex outside of the marriage. Like any decision in life there is a choice involved when faced with situations that are within a person’s control.
  2. Unmet emotional needs. One of the most common reasons is unmet emotional needs such as safety, love and nurturing, feeling supported and validated so that the other person feels special and important. When the need is not met then they begin to search for it outside of the marriage. Often this is a feeling or emotion that is running in the background and often not right on the surface and yet there is something that feels unfulfilled. The missing piece is unfulfilled love and intimacy which often becomes confusing by thinking sex is the cure. Feeling the need for sex outside of the marriage is a clear signal that help is needed in order to process through what is going unfulfilled in the relationship.
  3. Unresolved conflict. Marital discord creating anger can manifest outward in a dysfunctional way. Unresolved conflict can lead to feelings of fear of approaching the other spouse leading to perceptions of rejection in an attempt to avoid negativity. The spouse becomes angry and resentful of the spouse and seeks to get consoled elsewhere.
  4. Self pre-occupation. A spouse can feel left out of a marriage because the other spouse is too busy with themselves. This includes working, spending time with other friends and hobbies and a big issue today is spending too much time on the computer and social websites. This becomes an issue with the ignored spouse dealing with loneliness and seeks relationship elsewhere. An increasing factor of marital affairs are due to hook-ups on social websites. Marital affairs have doubled in the past 20 years of which most of it is attributed to people connecting on the internet.
  5. Poor counsel. Where is God in the marriage? What does God’s counsel say regarding marital affairs? Proverbs 13:20 (MSG) “Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.” In other words, the choice of poor company to hang out with creates a negative influence on the marriage. If a spouse is hanging out with a crowd of people who feel indifferent or think that marriage infidelity is acceptable, then watch out, it is conflict with the values that are reflective of what God has created within the context of marriage. The idea is to hang out with like minded people who support marriage and the values that honor the marriage. Listening to God’s word and accepting it covers a multitude of issues regarding marriage. For any marital affair, God’s wise counsel says it plainly in Hebrews 13:4 (NIV) “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

On a final note, sometimes an affair is suspected because of behavior that appears to be non-committal toward the relationship. If there is suspicion that the other spouse might be having an affair then a trust issue has developed. Seek help through a licensed professional who has training with marriage related problems. Through discovery many of the unmet needs that are going unfulfilled in a marriage can be addressed before it becomes a real threat to the marriage.

 

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Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

Relationships are all around us and they exist whether it is marriage, friendships, in-laws and coworkers and chances are there will be challenging times when we try to find ways to get along with each other. At some point there will be conflict within a relationship but it does not always have to be this way. When relationships become dysfunctional, finding ways to navigate through those can be challenging. Being around others who are healthy can bring value and joy to life. Lifetime friends and special people we identify with in our families can generate feelings of appreciation of both what we receive and what we are able to give. Healthy relationships are built on give and take and not all take and not all give. While there are numerous ways to evaluate a relationship, here are 5 ways that can help enhance relationships.

  1. Do you trust each other? Let’s face it, if there is no trust in any relationship then developing anything significant is halted at the trust gate. Trust puts a limit on how far a person is willing to allow another person into their life. Trust often puts up a wall that says “hold on right there, that is far enough until I get to know you better.” This is especially true in intimate relationships such as marriage. If someone gets married to another person out of feelings of obligation or guilt of disappointing the other person and trust is still an issue then guess what? Trust remains an issue. There have been situations when people have been married to each other for years with one partner still not trusting the other and live a life that is very veiled or what some may refer to as “living a lie.”
  2. Do you respect each other’s opinions when they are different? While this may be difficult to do when cheering for opposing teams or who to vote for in politics, this is more about the context or foundation of which the relationship exists. There are countless times when one person’s way of viewing situations in life does not match others. When this happens it often becomes grounds for dismissal of a friendship or even divorce. An example of an unhealthy way of viewing someone’s opinion is to evaluate the person as a “hater” just because they do not agree with you. A more healthy way says “I don’t agree with your view or opinion, but I respect you anyway regardless.” It goes along the old adage, “can we agree to disagree?”
  3. Do you encourage each other’s hobbies and leisure activities? Healthy encouragement can go a long way to build relationships. Being critical of what other people do create hurt and anger and becomes destructive. People who are genuinely supportive of each other want the other person to have fun and do things that bring joy and excitement to their lives. Sometimes this can inspire others to want to join in on the fun.
  4. Do you problem solve without name calling and put downs? Calling another person names is about tearing the other person down. It is a form of bullying and it is an attempt to control and take possession of the other person. Solving problems is about reconciliation and helping each other overcome an obstacle. Name calling and putting the other person down only creates feelings of resentment and anger and solves nothing. Disagreements become manageable when each person takes responsibility for their actions and move into a direction of equal balance in the decision making process.
  5. Do you allow each other their personal space? Having time to read, journal, listen to music, exercise and any other activity where a person needs time alone is critical in a relationship. This is about having “me” time. Being able to draw limits between the self and the world around us can bring a sense of calm and peace in our lives. It reduces stress and anxiety and brings a general sense of well being.

 

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