Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Conventional and Unconventional Insight about Monogamous Relationships

THE CONVENTIONAL INSIGHT our society shares about marriage.

 

1)         THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE

The common wisdom about the purpose of marriage today is that it is to take one’s place in society and fulfill the American Dream which is to raise children and develop a style of life that will bring a particular kind of fulfillment.  Marriage is not considered necessary since today one can raise children and develop a life-style while single, but this is not quite the real thing.

 

2)         WHY WE CHOOSE A PARTNER

We commonly believe that we are aware of the basic reasons for choosing a partner.  One chooses a partner whom one loves and who shares one’s own values, interests and goals.   By each one sharing, honestly and openly, the partners develop intimacy with each other.  It is when you find the right person that sharing and intimacy becomes possible.

 

3)         THE ADEQUACY OF LOVE

We do recognize that to have a successful marriage we must love and cherish each other as we vow to do at the wedding.  Being in love, the commitment to care for the other even in adversity is easily made.  Serious adversity is not expected and one knows that the love we feel will solve all problems.  One expects minor disagreements.

 

No special knowledge or skills beyond what one already has are required.  And if one has to work at making the marriage successful, then one has probably chosen the wrong person.

 

4)         INCOMPATIBILITY THE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

If you have serious on-going conflicts, then you have clearly chosen the wrong person.  Irresolvable conflicts are usually the results of an immature partner behaving in neurotic ways.  Such conflict destroys the love and it places undue stress on the one trying to hold the relationship together to make it work.  Although one ought to try to resolve such conflict, it is usually irresolvable because people do not really change, especially such neurotic behavior patterns.  Such a situation is mostly hopeless.

Given that the love has been destroyed in the relationship and the undue stress and suffering involved in such a one-sided effort to correct a hopeless situation, it is unfair to expect one to continue in it.  When this is the situation, it makes sense to end it.  Such clear incompatibility is the grounds for divorce.

 

 

THE UNCONVENTIONAL INSIGHT  that our society does not share.

 

IMAGO RELATIONSHIP THERAPY developed by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., challenges such common wisdom regarding marriage at each point:  1) The purpose of marriage;  2)  Why we choose a partner;  3)  That the love we feel is adequate to deal with difficulties;  4)  That unsolvable conflict is grounds for divorce.

 

1)         THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE

Although taking one’s place in society and reaping the benefits of family life play an important role in becoming married, the over-riding purpose or tendency comes from the unconscious drive to seek healing for childhood wounds and to find that sense of security we had in our mother’s wombs.  Although we are unaware of this agenda, marriage is the coming together of two people to finish childhood.  And we have no choice about this agenda. 

This is in part due to our social development as it pertains to mate selection.  Romantic love is a recent phenomenon in mate selection historically.  As romance evolved in mate selection, it brought with it a whole new set of issues and problems.  Marriage was based on feelings now, not on the fact that you marry this person in an arrangement from your parents or heads of government such as nobles or religious figures.  Marriage is also what God has given us as covenant on this earth to satisfy the mandate of being connected until we are connected with Him for eternity.

 

2)         WHY WE CHOOSE A PARTNER

Although we choose someone who is attractive with many positive traits, and with whom we fall in love, the basic reason or tendency for choosing remains unconscious.  The partner we choose will usually have, in particular and in some degree, the negative traits of our caretakers by whom we felt injured or wounded in childhood.  Romantic love is the excitement of the unconscious about having found the one who will trigger childhood wounds and can serve as the healer of them if they will change.

Perhaps, instead of trying to find the right person, we need to work at becoming the right person.  The person that God would want us to become as a romantic partner, a Godly spouse, and a Godly parent.

 

4)                  THE ADEQUACY OF LOVE

Once romantic love has served its purpose of bonding the couple, it fades and is not available for dealing with the conflicts that inevitably arise as a normal and necessary part of the healing process.   True to the negative traits each shares with the other’s caretakers, both partners begin to trigger the other’s childhood wounds and each reacts defensively out of hurt and fear.   It is then that they become locked in the unresolvable conflict of the power struggle.  When the power struggle begins, it seems impossible that one ever felt love for the other, and such love does not solve the problems.  What is essential for resolving the conflict at that point is not only an understanding of what is taking place, but also communication skills and the commitment to use them to save the relationship.

This commitment involves a willingness to deepen one’s understanding of oneself and one’s partner, to experience and explore the leftover pain of childhood and the nature of one’s defensive reactions, and to transcend such reactivity by stretching to heal the wounds which one triggers in one’s partner.   Commitment also involves an understanding of God’s will for our lives and obedience to His Word.  When partners make such a mutual and reciprocal commitment, the relationship becomes the scene of healing and wholeness.  Such conscious and intentional behavior is the mark of true love that is the task of the couple to create in the relationship.

 

 

4)                  INCOMPATIBILITY, THE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

To be paired with someone who triggers one’s childhood wounds and defensive reaction is to experience incompatibility with them, but that is part of the healing process.  Incompatibility is the grounds for marriage, not divorce.  The experience of incompatibility is essential for re-experiencing the wounds of childhood, which make possible the healing.  Rather than being a hopeless situation whose cure is divorce, the power struggle in which the couple becomes locked is the crucible and chemistry for change.

CONFLICT IS GROWTH TRYING TO HAPPEN”

Change is required.  In order to cooperate with that change, defensive reactions must be replaced with conscious and intentional behavior.  This means that when conflict strikes, one must go against one’s instinctual reaction to defend one, and behave instead in ways that keeps the partner safe and heals their wounds.  It is that counter instinctual stretching that heals one’s partner and promotes one’s own growth.

 

It is an ingenious and beautiful plan to match partners who not only have the potential to heal each other, but who in doing so, grow to actualize their own potential.  Giving up one’s defensive reactions in order to heal one’s partner is to change the negative traits one shares with the partner’s caretakers and actually changes one’s deforming character structure so that one can become whole.  Cooperating with this process makes marriage the structure for healing and growth.  Marriage in its essence is therapy, and your partner’s needs chart your path to psychological and Godly wholeness.  Rather than leaving it to find yourself, you find yourself and who you are in Christ through marriage.   This is in essence what Ephesians speaks of as the “mystery of marriage”. 

 

This is in essence the idea of “unconditional love” which God gives to us.  It is impossible for the “natural man” to comprehend His Love for us.  Only our spirit man can grasp this type of love that transcends our own needs for the needs of our partner through knowing, valuing, accepting, and respecting our partner.  We literally grow beyond our own dysfunctional ideas of love and relationship to a greater level while we are here on earth.  This is true “agape” love.

 

Written By:

John Wagner, M.S., L.M.H.C., N.C.C.

Certified Imago Relationship Therapist

 

 

 

 

Formula to Create Positive Change in the New Year

Formula to create positive change in the new year
By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

Change is the only constant element in life, so we either have to get used to it and grow, or get run over by it and gripe. Since most of us are creatures of habit and have difficulty accepting change, here are a few tips to help you stay “W.E.L.L.” as you take bold steps to make this year your very best year. My friend John Maxwell says that "we tend to overestimate what we can do in a week and underestimate what we can do in a year." So as you begin to map out how to create positive changes in your life this year, plan on reviewing this formula weekly to track your success. Also, remember that my main goal is to make life work better for you, so keep in touch as you have time so we can rejoice together in the positive steps you have taken to live a better life.

W- Wellness
You need sleep, a healthy diet, exercise and quiet time in peaceful meditation to manage the stress of daily life. This will require building routines to strengthen your physical-emotional-relational- and spiritual balance. Keeping your lifestyle healthy will allow you to feel your best regardless of the changing circumstances around you.

E- Evaluate
Most people spend more time planning their summer vacation than they do planning their lives. The old saying is true, "most people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan." I recommend that you assess your problems and pressures against your life purpose and priorities to then develop a logical written plan of action to resolve them on a weekly basis. Also, especially focus on the next 90 days since short term goals are more important than long term ones because they keep your energy and focus on the daily disciplines necessary to live a better quality of life today which will keep you moving in the right direction for the future.

L- Listen
You need a mentor, and you need to listen. Everyone receives counseling or coaching from somewhere, (talk-shows, blogs, friends, clergy, professionals, books, family and even hair-dressers), however, you will become like who you hang around the most. Unless you really want to become Homer Simpson, you need to make sure you spend more time watching positive role models and mentors than negative ones in media. Also, it's helpful to know what your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses are, so you are prepared to benefit from a realistic approach in knowing what to do next to build on your strengths. If you don't know what to do next, that's where a professional can often step in to give you guidance and direction to achieve greater results.

L- Live
Don’t get so busy with the details of living that you forget how to live! Life is made up of relationships, and nothing is worth sacrificing the value of life...celebrate the people and business opportunities that God has given you every day so that you are known as someone so busy counting blessings that you don't have time to count your problems. Remember, "Life is a gift, that's why they call it the present!"

As you consider building a better quality of life keep in mind that there will be a number of people who will actually try to talk you out of making positive changes because it would force them to change as well. Many people fear change and would do anything to avoid it, however, by practicing these steps you can grow stronger through change, and have the time of your life in the process. My heart's desire every day is to help someone live a life that is full to over-flowing. So here's the most important question for you to answer, "is this your year to change?"


(Note: You are welcome to freely redistribute this article if you leave the authors contact information below. Thanks!)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dwight Bain is a master at helping you reach your goals by coming alongside to add greater value in your personal and professional life. He is an author, professional member of the National Speakers Association, Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Family Law Mediator and Certified Life Coach with over 25 years of experience. His dynamic communication style is designed to help you create rapid results with the strategic coaching approach he has used with thousands of people and organizations like- Toyota, duPont, Bank of America, Florida Hospital and Disney. He has been quoted by Investors Business Daily, the New York Times, Sacramento Bee, the Orlando Sentinel & NewsDay. Access over 100 blogs designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting www.LifeWorksGroup.org

What is “Life Management” and how can it save you time by providing problem solving skills?

Find out if this weekly training seminar is for you!
Do you want to learn how to better manage your emotions and relationships?
Are you looking for creative ways to deal with the stress in your life from a clear biblical perspective?
Do you learn faster in a high-content seminar based environment instead of a small group?
Have you found a safe place for regular personal and spiritual development?
Would a weekly Life Management Seminar add value to your busy lifestyle?

If your answer to any of these questions is "yes" then here's some good news! Dwight Bain, (author, counselor and life coach) teaches an innovative seminar every weekend designed to be a creative place to learn how to manage daily life pressures. This life-management seminar will also feature other local authors who are experts in their career field along with practical insights from Bain’s 25 years helping people find creative answers to solve complex situations. Each week we will take an in-depth look at real life issues to improve your quality of life from a solidly Christian perspective.

Here are some of the dozens of life-application topics we will be covering:
How to rebuild your broken world
The power of a dream
Biblical anger management
Managing a major life crisis
Dealing with control freaks
Breaking the procrastination cycle
Change your habits-before they change you!
How to deal with difficult relationships
What the Bible says about abuse
Building lasting friendships
Mid-life career transitions
Strategic ways to solve stress
Overcoming fears and anxiety
Keys to connection with others
Finding God's purpose in your career
Building balance into your daily life
Purpose:

“The primary goal is to become a safe and growing spiritual community to honor Christ where people can learn more about applying God's principles to better manage their daily lives. I believe this group will meet a huge need in our community of people who don't know where they fit spiritually, but are seeking a place to grow in their faith, as well as meeting the same need for people already attending a church worship experience, but lack a place to feel comfortable to grow deeper in their faith through a large group Bible study setting which deals exclusively with life management issues.” ~ Dwight Bain

Who can attend and what's the cost?
The vision for this weekly training session is to bring people from literally every part of our community seeking answers together for the purposes of growing stronger through spiritual and personal development. First Baptist of Orlando provides the training site and is a big place, so a large workshop environment creates a safe entry point to make it easier for folks to begin to feel comfortable in their own faith journey, which may lead to exploring other First Orlando church programs that benefit them. However, many people may just come to attend the weekly seminar, which is perfectly okay. This group is open to anyone, especially anyone going through a season of transition or difficulty who just needs a practical life application lesson to get through the week by God's grace. Our Bible study format will function in a large group seminar type of setting, where you can just sit back, listen and gain the insights you need to have a better quality of life. Our doors are open to anyone, of any faith, culture or background, and just about any age, (probably high school and beyond will benefit most). And the cost is f.r.e.e!

When & Where?
Every week we will meet together using the facilities of Henry Chapel on the campus of First Baptist Church of Orlando, who are kind enough to donate a space for our workshop to meet. (note: Henry Chapel is a round building, located in the ‘Love’ parking lot near "welcome center A", which is the entrance closest to I-4 and the McDonalds on L.B. McLeod Road. Visit www.FirstOrlando.com for a detailed map of the campus, which will show you the exact location of Henry chapel, named in honor of recently retired Senior Pastor, Jim Henry). We will meet in Henry Chapel every Sunday, from 9:20-10:20 AM. The building seats about 400, but we anticipate that this class will typically be in a seminar type setting with about a hundred or so people per week. You will need to bring a pen or pencil, since there will be detailed notes available on every topic discussed to enhance and deepen your learning experience.

What about small children?
Childcare is free and provided in a secure setting designed by some really talented people who are masters at creating fun learning experiences to add value to the spiritual and intellectual development of kids. The child care facility at First Baptist is considered one of the safest in the country, with every child care worker having passed extensive background check to insure the safety of every child. The security check-in process the first time a child visits a spiritual growth class for their age group, (birth to age 12) takes a few extra minutes, (each child is registered under a security tag that will only match the one given to the parent or grandparent who dropped them off), so plan your time accordingly.

Also, there are a full range of spiritual growth classes and programs designed just for teens, which don't take as long to register for, but do meet in a different building. Ask any of the greeters with name tags in any of the welcome centers and they will gladly help you find just the right spot for your child so they have an amazing growth experience as well. Campus maps are available at the website, www.firstorlando.com or simply by asking any of the dozens of greeters for one until you are comfortable finding your way around.

How can you help?
If you, or someone you care about is seeking a seminar type of learning experience to deepen their faith, or strengthen their personal life, could you help us by spreading the word? You are welcome to come check it out for yourself, or pass this information along to a friend who may be going through a difficult time. Post the information on your MySpace, Facebook, YouTube or blog. Tell your coworkers, email your friends or call your family members who may benefit from this unique personal growth experience; because I believe there are hundreds, if not thousands of lonely people who would be open to a practical lesson on how to manage their life from a Christian perspective, if they only knew where it was and how to get there. We want this weekly training seminar to become the answer to the prayers of people in our community seeking this type of personal and spiritual growth experience that's why we are asking that you help us by praying for this new group, as well as helping us to spread the word to others as it may fit their needs. Remember, if you don't already have a home church, know you are welcome to join us and visit the new Christian life management group. (9:20-10:20 AM on Sundays).

I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

Your teacher and coach on this journey,
Dwight Bain

7 Strategies to Survive the Holidays

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor

 

Have you ever wondered why traditional holidays are so stressful?  Instead of being called the most wonderful time of the year,it seems that we should rename it to be more accurately called the most difficult time of the year’. I believe you can break the pattern of stressful holidays by realistically changing your perspective to directly deal with predictable daily pressures and then by using strategic coping skills to steer around or even better steer away from the bigger problems that tend to ‘pop up’ this time of year.

 

Face it. There are as many factors to cause our stress levels to build to an explosive level as there are people on the planet. Everyone has complexities and challenges different from others, yet there are some universal pressures everyone has to address no matter their age, gender or marital status. Stress tends to go up as we age because there are more factors to consider, more people to deal with and more responsibilities.  The older you get, the more you are forced to change and deal with issues directly, or get stuck in the habit of repeating the same problems over and over again until you die. Yuck!

 

Is this bad news for everyone?  No, because I believe that God designed you to have a healthy and balanced lifestyle, and that He will always provide you a way to move past daily pressures to live out your real purpose. You control the choices needed to change and improve your life more than you realize.  Understanding the pressures, (counseling insight), and then using a strategic approach to achieve greater results, (coaching application), will position you to break out of the unhealthy patterns of the past to have a balanced and better future.

 

Here are the four most common factors that steal joy away from the holidays followed by seven strategic ways to finish the year healthy and strong. Use these insights to move from barely surviving the holidays to really thriving in the New Year as you enjoy the blessings of living out a lifestyle of lasting success.

 

#1- Loneliness

Holidays are designed as a time to be with friends and family making positive memories.  Not so for the person who wounded by dysfunctional relationships or dealing with rejection from divorce while trying to rebuild their life alone.  The continual holiday music, movies and television specials aren’t comforting to people feeling detached, rather they are hurtful because they serve as continual reminders of what’s missing in their life.  (Keep in mind that writers and artists tend to create entertainment   material that reflects the world as they would like to see it and not as it really is to maintain some level of perspective about the many people who struggle with loneliness during the holidays).

 

#2- Unfulfilled

The end of the year is a relief for some and a time of reflection for others.  Wisdom says to evaluate your progress this year in light of your overall mission, purpose and core values to see if you are on track for a lifetime.  Worldly culture pushes people toward being too busy so that they virtually ignore all of that journaling to live for the moment hoping that everything will just mysteriously work out “happily ever after” like the ending of a Children's story book. Many people get caught up in the busy events of the holidays to avoid having to look at the real issues in their life. Remember, the more you ignore the important and fulfilling things in your life, the more you will try to fill the emptiness with meaningless activities and materialistic stuff. Stuff can never fill the 'black hole' of being unfulfilled without purpose, but the clutter does allow people to have a logical excuse to avoid actually dealing with being responsible to spend your life doing what you were born to do.

 

#3- Stressed

Everyone has stress to deal with from the cradle to the grave, its part of life.  Learn to view each activity or action as either causing stress, or relieving it for you and the people around you. Now, think about many of the activities and actions that fill up our Franklin Planners from November to January. Things like, waiting in line to buy a gift, then waiting in another line to  have that gift wrapped; or sending out hundreds of cards to people at the last minute, who may not even have time to open it and see who it’s from during the midst of their own holiday stress; or sampling a little bit of every type of food at holiday parties and still expecting to not gain weight; or spending an extra thirty hours putting up decorations and still getting enough sleep.  Stress is emotional pressure from things feeling out of control, and it’s easy to get out of balance when so many things are being thrown at you this time of the year.

 

#4- Tired

If you aren’t already exhausted from trying to squeeze more and more seasonal events and decorations into less and less available time, just wait five minutes and you will be.  Everyone has a certain amount of these very limited resources to manage…energy, money and time.  While the amounts of each may vary during different stages of life, it’s usually just from a trade of one for another.

 

(Example- If you work more hours, you make more money, but give up more energy to get it. If you are carefree and have all the time in the world, you probably had to give up financial stability to get it.  Kids are allowed to sleep late, but they don’t have to make the mortgage payment at the end of the month). Fatigue isn’t limited only to a loss of physical energy it can overlap into emotional burnout or spiritual emptiness, which then negatively affects our personal and professional relationships as well. The more tired we are, the more we tend to have a negative outlook, experience low morale, feel moody and un-motivated to change.

 

Okay, now that you have seen some of the most common reasons we end up feeling so much stress, let’s move forward to understand and apply a new approach to achieve a greater result in your personal and professional life.  Here are seven strategic and proactive steps you can take to move from feeling holiday stress to experiencing a memorable experience of holiday success for you and those you care about this holiday season.

 

7 Strategies to Change from Holiday Survival to

Experience Holiday Success-

 

 

  1. Celebrate- laugh, rejoice, giggle, gather, sing and count every blessing as you enjoy all the good things in your life instead of just focusing on the pressures and problems.  Then join in with others who are so busy celebrating the wonders of life that they don’t have time to stop and criticize the weaknesses and flaws. Like the old saying my mother used to tell me, ‘two men looked through prison bars- one saw the mud and the other saw the stars.’

 

  1. Connect- with people instead of being alone.  There are more community activities this time of year than you could ever imagine.  Visit special programs through churches, or by asking friends and family what they are doing, or where they are going and see if there is an extra seat on the bus going there.  We were designed for relationship instead of isolation, so if you aren’t plugged into a healthy environment of positive people, use this time of year to ‘shop’ all the options available to see where you best fit and then plug in to connect with others who are likeminded to enjoy a stronger connection all year long.

 

  1. Care- about people instead of caring about material things. One of the most memorable things you can do is to come alongside to add value to others in need during the holiday season.  You might help a needy family, or ask groups like Hospice, or the Salvation Army, or a woman’s shelter about a person or family that you might be able to help with special gifts of food, encouragement or time. The memories you make will be greater than any gift-card you have ever received.

 

  1. Choose- to be healthy with your intake of food, sugar, caffeine and alcoholic beverages which are more common during the festivities of the holiday season. You can solve a lot of the ‘let down’ feelings that are common this time of year by maintaining your regular schedule and daily routines. Especially make the positive choice to get enough sleep and protect your body from wearing out from exhaustion, or getting weaker from sleep deprivation, which makes you more prone to catching the cold or flu this time of year.

 

  1. Cash- instead of credit is a better way to solve a lot of the after holiday stress of opening up statements full of debts staring you in the face.  The impulsive purchases you make in December may take years to pay off, so solve this stressor by sitting down to list our your expectations of the holidays and then factor in how much this is going to cost in real dollars.  Working from a planned budget will protect you from the huge temptation to buy more things than you intended from stores overflowing with commercial appeals of great deals. If you can’t afford it, it’s not a gift rather it’s just one more impulsive debt to repay.  

 

  1. Contact- Use the holidays as a time to reconnect with the people that you may have lost touch with through the year.  Use festive postcards, greeting cards, or our family's favorite, a photo greeting card to see a recent picture of how big the kids have grown!  Some people take time to write out detailed letters of what happened during their year, which are great to read.  (Remember that the letter should be written as to share blessings and praises to bring hope, not full of prideful bragging to somehow using Christmas as a platform to show how much better your kids are than their peers.) The Internet makes it easier than ever to stay connected with others through emails and e-greetings.  Use these tools as a strategic way to stay connected in building a stronger relationship and you may develop a deeper friendship that opens the door to enjoying a new friendship long after this years holiday season is repacked back into storage boxes for next year.

 

  1. Creator- The holiday season is rooted in rich spiritual traditions. The best strategy to overcome holiday stress is to replace it with the deepest level of meaning that a person can experience in their heart and soul and spirit.  I challenge you to allow the holidays to draw you to God in a new way so you might experience what choirs of angels sang over a stable thousands of years ago, "peace on earth and good will to men." Developing a personal relationship with the Christ of Christmas will move you from feeling alone in the world, to being part of something bigger than yourself, and something that will live on forever.  When you sense God's presence, you can feel His peace and power every day. 

 

Look at it this way, experiencing God's presence will be like opening a present every day from someone who loved you so much that He would rather die than live without you. This is the real reason hundreds of millions of people on this planet will stop everything to bow their heads and quietly pray on Christmas Eve.

 

If you already know the true meaning of Christmas, enjoy the season with your family and friends. If you aren't sure what this all means, I challenge you to let God's love come into your life today so that you never have to feel alone again. 

 

Balancing these strategies will speed you on your journey from stress to lasting success which is the best gift you could ever receive because it lasts forever! Once you have mastered these key areas, make sure that you tell others so they can enjoy a better quality of life with you as well.

 

Note: You are granted permission to pass along this information to benefit friends, family, co-workers or through your church newsletter as long as the contact information below is left intact.

About the Author:
Dwight Bain is an author, Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Family Law Mediator and Certified Life Coach in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is founder of the LifeWorks Group of professional therapists in Orlando; A Critical Incident Stress Management expert with Orange County Sheriffs Office; Founder of StormStress.com and Trainer for over 1,500 groups on making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Corporate clients include: Toyota, DuPont, Bank of America & Disney. Organizational clients include the US Army, Florida Hospital & the American Association of Christian Counselors. Quoted in: Investors Business Daily, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution & the Orlando Sentinel.

 

Access over 100 free counseling articles & coaching special reports designed to solve stress in your life by providing rapid answers to complex situations at www.LifeWorksGroup.org and thanks for allowing our team to serve you.