Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas, Dad!

Coping with Grief in the Holiday Season

By: Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

I doubt if this article will be very long in comparison to most that I write. The topic is far too difficult for me to “go there” for too long. The truth is that, once again, I must deal with mourning my father through the holiday season.

One would think that grieving would eventually dissipate; that three years after the death of my dad, I could just focus my attention on Christmas without having to feel the pangs of hurt in my heart…without the gnawing sensation left in the void of my heart where my dad’s presence occupied while he was on this earth. Yet, 2006 seems like so long ago….and just yesterday. So, Christmas is three days away and my thoughts drift towards the man who raised me.
No, my sorrow has not ended. From talking to those who have lost loved ones before me, I’m not sure it will ever fully disappear. I doubt if I will ever feel the same as before he passed away. His memory is like a specter that haunts me, especially during those special times of the year like Father’s Day, Fourth of July (his birthday), and, yes, Christmas. It doesn’t take much to trigger my longing to be with him once more; an Andy Griffith episode, any movie about father/son interaction, hearing a song that he liked………even cold weather reminds me of him, though I’m not sure why. The fact is that tears can well up in my eyes at a moment’s notice. I’m not really the same man as I was before December of 2006.

So, for those of you who have lost loved ones this year…..please know that I’m truly sorry. Accept my absolute heartfelt empathy to your situation. My heart hurts for you. I hope you will humbly allow me to offer some advice as you experience grief over this holiday season and in the days to come:

· Let yourself experience your emotions: Don’t fight back your feelings. Don’t avoid the sadness. Please fight the urge to make yourself so busy that you just bury all that you are experiencing. When you feel emotion welling up inside you, RUN TOWARDS IT. If you need to cry, then cry. Let yourself be angry if you feel angry. If you remember something funny about your loved one, laugh. Avoiding all these emotions will not help you move forward. It just delays your ability to move forward. So, let yourself feel what you’re feeling. It will pass and you will have more freedom to deal with what is going on around you. Plus, allowing yourself to genuinely “feel” is also a way that you are allowing yourself to “remember” that person…and remembering keeps their legacy alive.

· Adopt ways or traditions that keep the memory alive: There are so many ways you can honor the memory of your loved one. You can set aside a special time with family to look through photo albums or scrapbooks that are filled with memories of this person. You can write that person a letter, tie it to a helium balloon and launch it with a kiss (my family and I do this for my dad often), you can sit around and reminisce with other people who knew your loved one. You can make sure there are plenty of pictures and stories around about this person so that their memory and legacy lives on.

· Don’t pretend all is well: This ties in to the first suggestion but I just want to reiterate it. When we lose someone dear to us, all is NOT well. It’s healthy to acknowledge that even as we continue on with life.

· Seek out help to deal with it all: Whether it is your best friend, a pastor you trust, or a professional counselor, look for someone who can help you process through the mourning and grieving process. It’s not an easy journey and having someone for support can only help.
Finally, just know that there are thousands of others who are also grieving this holiday season. You are not alone. It is so unfortunate that death is truly a part of life. It’s painful. It’s difficult. It’s something we must all face. I pray that you let yourself face your grief this holiday season. Face it with those you trust. Face it honestly. And, believe it or not, those sad memories can actually add to the sacredness of this Christmas season.

All my best……..may God bless you through the holidays and beyond.

Aaron is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor and certified sex offender treatment specialist. He strives to fight for the hearts of his clients and empower them to build a legacy that impacts the world.. He is part of a team of experts at “The Lifeworks Group, Inc”. For more information about Aaron or Lifeworks you may contact him at...The LifeWorks Group, Inc.1850 Lee Road, Suite 250Winter Park, FL 32789Office 407-647-7005Fax 407-647-8874www.Lifeworksgroup.orgwww.legacycounselingservices.org

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thriving Through the Holidays

by Jim Rohn

The holidays are upon us; a time of celebration and joy. I love the last days of November through the beginning of the New Year. The pure magic of the holidays is something that I anticipate and enjoy each and every year.

For some though, the holidays have lost the joy and excitement they at other times have had. The pace of life has grown so fast—much faster than those first holidays I remember in my life—that some people don’t enjoy the times they get to spend with their family and friends during what is supposed to be days filled with joy and peace.

Why is that? Probably a lot can be laid at the feet of how fast-paced our times are, but that isn’t all.

I believe our holiday times should be wonderful and filled with lasting and enjoyable moments and memories. So how can we ensure that we come out of the holidays in January with great memories of the past month? Here are six thoughts that will help you experience the holidays the way they were intended to be experienced:

Be TemperateHolidays can be days of excess for many—too much food, too many cookies and treats. Too much chocolate, schedules that are too busy. One thing that will help you enjoy the holidays is to be temperate. Enjoy the food. Enjoy the treats. Enjoy the busy schedule of activities and parties. But also be disciplined enough to know when to hold back, when to say, “No.” When we go overboard we regret it and lose the opportunity to fully experience that moment. But when we enjoy a little and refrain from going too far, then we can enjoy all that little piece of time has to offer.

Lower Your ExpectationsMuch of the frustration people experience from the holidays is from setting their expectations too high. They expect too much from friends or family, and when they don’t get what they want, they get frustrated. They expect presents to be perfect and when they aren’t, they get frustrated or disappointed. Instead of having huge expectations this holiday season, just take it as it comes and enjoy what you can. And this brings me to my next point.
Enjoy What You Can and Ignore the RestThis holiday season, go with an attitude of knowing that things will be what they will be. You can’t control other people or their actions. If a family member pushes the limits of your patience, ignore that and instead focus on how much you can enjoy the time you have with other family members. If things don’t go perfectly—which they won’t—then enjoy what you can and let the rest slide. You will feel a lot better about life if you can take all things a little easier.

Stay Out of DebtDebt is a killer. It will steal your enjoyment of life. Be sure to stay within your financial boundaries this holiday season. The last thing you want is to start the New Year with a deeper burden financially. Know where you are financially and stay within those limits. You don’t have to impress anyone, just buy gifts that you can afford and express your feelings in the giving of the gift.

Take Time for YourselfBe sure that, no matter how busy you get, you take time for yourself. Take time to read. Take a long bath if that relaxes you. Take a walk. Spend some time of quiet in front of a fire. Don’t rush through the holidays and sap all of your energy. Your mind and body need to be re-energized, so be sure to take time to do so.

Focus on Your Spiritual LifeUltimately, no matter what tradition you come from, the holidays are historically days in which we focus on the spiritual. Men and women are created with a natural draw toward spiritual life. However, our culture today tends to stay away from a focus on the spiritual, and that has even crept into our holidays. Be sure to place an emphasis on building your spiritual life and growing in that area. This will help keep you grounded and able to deal with anything that may come your way.

Friends, this time of year is another chance to remember the important truths of life and to enjoy time with dear friends and family.

May you experience the very best this holiday season and move into January better than ever!
Reproduced with permission from Jim Rohn's Weekly Newsletter. To subscribe, go to http://list.jimrohn.com/t/14103104/17706208/609388/0/ All contents Copyright © JimRohn.com except where indicated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Four Words the Make Life Worthwhile

by Jim Rohn, Business Mentor & Master Coach

Over the years as I've sought out ideas, principles and strategies to life's challenges, I've come across four simple words that can make living worthwhile.

First, life is worthwhile if you LEARN.
What you don't know WILL hurt you. You have to have learning to exist, let alone succeed. Life is worthwhile if you learn from your own experiences - negative or positive. We learn to do it right by first sometimes doing it wrong. We call that a positive negative. We also learn from other people's experiences, both positive and negative. I've always said that it is too bad failures don't give seminars. Obviously, we don't want to pay them so they aren't usually touring around giving seminars. But that information would be very valuable – we would learn how someone who had it all then messed it up. Learning from other people's experiences and mistakes is valuable information because we can learn what not to do without the pain of having tried and failed ourselves.

We learn by what we see so pay attention. We learn by what we hear so be a good listener. Now I do suggest that you should be a selective listener, don't just let anybody dump into your mental factory. We learn from what we read so learn from every source; learn from lectures; learn from songs; learn from sermons; learn from conversations with people who care. Always keep learning.

Second, life is worthwhile if you TRY.
You can't just learn; now you have to try something to see if you can do it. Try to make a difference, try to make some progress, try to learn a new skill, try to learn a new sport. It doesn't mean you can do everything, but there are a lot of things you can do, if you just try. Try your best. Give it every effort. Why not go all out?

Third, life is worthwhile if you STAY.
You have to stay from spring until harvest. If you have signed up for the day or for the game or for the project - see it through. Sometimes calamity comes and then it is worth wrapping it up. And that's the end, but just don't end in the middle. Maybe on the next project you pass, but on this one, if you signed up, see it through.

And lastly, life is worthwhile if you CARE.

If you care at all you will get some results, if you care enough you can get incredible results. Care enough to make a difference. Care enough to turn somebody around. Care enough to start a new enterprise. Care enough to change it all. Care enough to be the highest producer. Care enough to set some records. Care enough to win.

Four powerful little words: learn, try, stay and care. What difference can you make in your life today by putting these words to work?

Reproduced with permission from Jim Rohn's Weekly E-zine. To subscribe, go to www.JimRohn.com All contents Copyright © JimRohn.com except where indicated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Passing of a Legend

With great sadness we share that Jim Rohn, our mentor and friend, left us December 5, 2009 for a better place.

Over the past 18 months, in his battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis, Jim assured us with a smile that all is good, that he would fight until the last breath, yet he had no fear as to what would be next. Jim’s faith was as much a part of his life as his desire to inspire and challenge us all to be the best we could be and to live our dreams.

Jim’s courage in his final months and days were a testament to his message that we should all fight the good fight. He never gave up and never gave in.

Jim Rohn touched millions of lives over the past 46 years through his seminars, books, articles and CDs. He always stayed long after an event t o shake hands, take pictures and sign autographs. He loved making a difference in people’s lives, that was his passion and inspiration. Yet he was also a private man who kept a small, loyal and caring inner circle. He was a tremendous friend to those who knew him.

Harold Dyke, long time close friend of Jim’s for over 55 years said it best, “As Jim is ending one life he is simultaneously being birthed into a new life. One that he has talked about over the years and anticipated with great joy in his last remaining days.”

Kyle Wilson, long time colleague and friend of Jim had this to say about his mentor, “Jim Rohn was a great human being. Jim had the rare ability to take any concept or idea and then frame it in such a way that the rest of us could see it more clearly. His wisdom and insights positively affected everyone he touched on some level and to so many of us it was in an extraordinary way. But even more impressive was Jim Rohn the man. He possessed style and charisma, yet was humble, kind and understated to all who knew him. I find myself every day reflecting, benefiting and passing on the wisdom and ideas that are rooted in Jim’s message and wisdom. Jim is irreplaceable on every level. I will miss him beyond words, but am comforted as I know he was, that his message and legacy will live on and positively change millions of lives over the years to come!”

Someone once said “when you are born you enter the world crying while everyone else is rejoicing and when you die hopefully you have lived such a life that everyone will be crying while you are rejoicing”. Jim Rohn lived such a life.

Jim’s family asked us to thank all of you for your concern, prayers and love toward their father and grandfather, which has been so evident during the past 18 months.

Darren Hardy, dedicated student and Jim Rohn protégé for more than 15 years, said of Jim, “He was the most influential man in my life, second only to my father. Jim cemented my philosophical foundation and nourished my mind with ideas and ambitions never before imagined. He chiseled my character seminar by seminar, tape by tape, book by book, then CD by CD, hour by hour. Jim emboldened my belief, in me and in my most daring dreams. When I fell and was bloodied, he was there with encouraging words to help me get back up. When I didn’t think I could go on, Jim convinced me I was stronger than I imagined. When I wanted a shortcut, he reminded me there aren’t any. Even when I got too caught up in trying to achieve and succeed, Jim compelled me to leave room to live, to laugh and to love.”

Stuart Johnson, business associate and long-time admirer, said, “I was first introduced to the philosophies and teachings of Jim Rohn almost 25 years ago. And he made an immediate impression on me. I was amazed by how this modest and unassuming man could communicate such an extraordinarily powerful message in simple and straightforward terms. In person, one-on-one, he was as humble and down-to-earth as he was in front of an audience of thousands. I will treasure my personal memories of Jim and know that I will forever benefit from the wisdom of this remarkable man.”

There will be a private funeral held in the coming days. Plans and details are also being arranged for a Public Memorial Service to be held in the Los Angeles area in the coming weeks. Details will be announced upon final confirmation at the Jim Rohn Tribute Site.

We know Mr. Rohn is looking down on us at this very moment with a smile saying I did it, I gave it my all, I went for it, now it’s your turn. Go for it. Make your life a life worth living well!
View a special tribute to Jim at the Jim Rohn Tribute Site produced earlier this year and debuted at the March 2009 SUCCESS Symposium. You are also encouraged to post your thoughts and remembrances of Jim on the Memorial Wall.

Jim fondly closed his programs with the following sentiments: “I go with you in all the experience that we’ve had. But I promise you this as we leave here: I will not leave you behind. I’ll take you with me in my thoughts and in my heart.”

Reproduced with permission from Jim Rohn's Weekly E-zine. To subscribe, go to www.JimRohn.com All contents Copyright © JimRohn.com except where indicated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide.

She lives in you... the Krystal Thomas story

As told by Dwight Bain

Krystal Thomas is a champion in anyone’s book. By age 18 the 6’ 5” center had led her high school basketball team to back to back state championships with an average of 19 points/12 rebounds and named State Finals MVP both years. She had played in national tournaments like the McDonalds’s All America Game- where she led her East team to a victory, the WBCA All-America Game, (Women’s Basketball Coaches Association), the AAU Nationals and Nike Tournament of Champions. She had been named Miss Florida Basketball, the Gatorade State Player of the Year and earned USA Today, EA Sports, McDonald’s and Parade first team All-America for her high school career totaling 1,751 points, 1,357 rebounds and 268 blocks. She had won a full scholarship to play for the Lady Blue Devils of Duke University with her remarkable sports career as a teenager and she’s just getting started!

This outstanding athlete is already on the fast track to the Olympics by leading her USA Under19 Team to a World Basketball Championship and gold metal and is already a regular name on the sports pages covering Duke Basketball where she was named the ACC rookie player of the week after only two games! Krystal towers over her competition and is a powerful force under the rim, yet the greatest story isn’t her sports accomplishments it’s in challenges she overcame to even make it to the gym. Once you know the difficulties she faced to get to practice, you’ll better understand why she has the personal motto of ‘never quit’ and why this young woman said if she were to write an autobiography it would be titled... “Krystal Thomas: Rising above the storm called life”.

Krystal was the baby girl that made Natalie Thomas a mommy. Natalie and her husband Victor would have five children and a story-book life until a series of crisis events would come, taking both parents away when she was just a girl. Shockingly her dad was the first to be taken from her. Victor was one of the most respected law enforcement officers in his agency when an FBI sting led to his arrest for drug trafficking and eventual incarceration when Krystal was only eleven.

Tragically, only a few months after her dad was jailed, her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Natalie battled the disease with the most aggressive treatments available, alongside the drive of a mother who was dedicated to seeing her five children experience one more practice, one more game, one more birthday and one more Christmas together as a family. Her faith in God kept her battling strong for years. (You can read about her journey of fighting the cancer as a single mom in her autobiography, “No more than I can bear”.)

Natalie fought the cancer until her last day on this planet. Even though her body was ravaged by the disease she had the determination of a prize fighter with a never give up attitude. As her body was dying she wouldn’t stop thinking about her children and how to make it to the next special event together. When the doctors indicated there were no more medical options, her last goal was to make it through Christmas with her family. She died in January surrounded by her kids and a few friends.

Krystal didn’t cry at her mother’s funeral. She read from a carefully worded statement, with a personal message to her mom. “You’ll never have to miss another sporting event because you’ll have the best seat in the house.”

A few months after Natalie’s death, Krystal and her teammates qualified to play for their first of two state basketball championships and each player had an “NT” monogrammed on their jerseys so the memory of Mrs. Natalie Thomas would live on after her death. Even though cancer had prevented Natalie from attending many games the last few years of her life, her 'never quit' attitude lived on in the lives of her daughters and their teammates.

Natalie’s last wish was for all five kids to stay together, and thankfully a family whose daughter Alexa played on the team with Krystal and her sister Lauren offered to bring all five kids into their home to raise as their own. Don and Sheri Deluzio already had four children yet agreed to step into Natalie’s shoes to function as guardians for Krystal and her siblings. It wasn’t easy, but it worked and showed there are always people willing to come alongside to help if you have the courage to let them know your needs. The Deluzio’s have a heart as big as Texas and loved each of the kids through the loss of their mom for over a year and half until their father was released from prison. Sports bring people together as a family for a season with a single purpose- to compete and win. Yet this decision was for a bigger purpose than winning as an incredible demonstration of shared faith for five African-American kids to move in with a large Italian family to laugh and cry together as they built stability from what mattered most… each other.

Krystal went off to Duke, and her younger siblings still play basketball at the newly named Natalie Thomas memorial Gymnasium at the First Academy in Orlando, Florida and I suspect there is corner of heaven where she watches her kids play their best… because she lives on. Not just in a name memorialized on a building, but in the hearts and drive of each of these five remarkable kids who learned from their greatest teacher that ‘quit’ is never an option.

She especially lives on in Krystal and is the driving force behind what makes this amazing young woman so focused on success. You see, Krystal views sports as a stepping stone to an education that will open the door to another career, that of becoming an MD. Be looking for Dr. Krystal Thomas one day in the future, because of a little girl’s desire to become a doctor to compete on another level, that of battling cancer. The kind of cancer that takes a young girls family apart and then makes her have to grow up too fast, (Krystal was the main caretaker for all four of her siblings by age 11 and began driving them to and from school by the age 15 because her mom would be so sick from the cancer treatments).

Krystal wants to be a doctor to help make a difference so that other kids don’t have to lose their mothers at any age. She believes that quit isn’t an option for anyone and that no matter what you are facing you can make it with faith in God and a family that believes in you. She has both because she learned it from a great teacher, her mom. Natalie’s “can do” spirit of enthusiasm was strong, but it didn’t die with her, it still lives on in her daughter. She lives on in the drive of a young woman already making a difference because of the incredible power of belief.

No matter what you are facing today, Natalie would tell you to never quit and Krystal would tell you the same because she is true to her mother’s training that there is no other option but pressing on in spite of the odds. If a mother and daughter can face all kinds of challenges and grow stronger, you can too. So regardless of what sport you play, may Natalie’s spirit challenge you to never quit believing and may Krystal’s determination inspire you to dream big dreams and then have the courage to go out and live them. That way the spirit of a mom who never stopped believing in her little girl will grow strong in your life, just like it does for Miss Florida Basketball. You too will benefit from the power of a woman who taught her kids that no matter what you are to never, ever quit.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Beating The Cheating

Restoring a Marriage Ravaged by Infidelity

By: Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

Carrie Underwood, former American Idol winner and now-famous country singer made a fortune off her hit, “Before He Cheats”, describing her violent and destructive reaction to discovering her man at a bar with another woman. She speculates about how he is wooing this other woman while she, herself, slashes his truck tires, busts out his headlights, and basically destroys his prized pickup. Apparently, this song struck a chord with America. The song rocked the music charts, stayed #1 for 5 weeks, and won the People’s Choice award in 2007 for “favorite country music song”.

Infidelity in marriage has always been a major problem. In ancient days and in some cultures it was accepted as the norm….even expected…that a husband would take a lover in addition to his wife. Of course, that attitude has changed in our society and in our time but infidelity continues to be prevalent, wreaking havoc on thousands of marriages each year. Now that the internet is basically in every household, infidelity from both men and women has exploded in frequency. The fact that the workplace has become more and more gender-integrated has also contributed to the rise of infidelity as men and women have greater access, closer proximity, and travel together more than ever before. The bottom line is that men and women have more opportunities to cheat now than ever before.

It is an understatement to say that infidelity is incredibly hurtful to a marriage. In fact, many marriages never recover from on spouses adulterous adventures. Often, others encourage and support the “innocent” spouse to pursue divorce immediately. After all…”fool me once, shame on you…..fool me twice, shame on me”. That seems to be the mantra for our society.

Yet…is the issue that cut and dry? Is it so easy to catch a spouse cheating, drop them like a hot potato, and just move on with life? Bada-bah….bada-bing!

I’m not convinced. As hurtful as adultery undeniably is, we also know that divorce is excruciating, especially when children are involved. The aftermath of divorce, for the family, can be as destructive as the incident of infidelity. Research shows that divorce has long-term, negative effects on children in their behavior, security, academic life, and overall mental and emotional well-being.

So, are these the only two choices in response to infidelity? To stay married while infidelity continues or to endure a similar amount of pain through divorce?

I submit that, although a long and arduous journey, restoration of the marriage should be an option that is seriously considered. If the offending partner is truly contrite and humble and the victimized spouse is willing, true restoration CAN happen. In fact, in the process a marriage can often face issues that should have been faced years before and, when both spouses stick with it, restoration can take the marriage to never-before seen heights of connection and intimacy.
Here are some key characteristics that help in restoration:

· Both spouses must desire restoration: If one spouse is emotionally “done” with the marriage, then restoration is far-fetched. Both parties must truly want to do the work (and it IS work) it will take the restore the union.

· Humility must abound: The partner who committed the transgression MUST take ownership of what they’ve done, refuse to minimize it, and realize how much they have truly wounded their spouse and family. On the other hand, the “innocent” partner must be careful to also show enough humility to resist the temptation to continue to use the infidelity as an aggressive weapon against his/her spouse over the long haul.

· Forgiveness as a Foundation: Although this is a slow process, true forgiveness is very important to restoration. The wounded party must work through their feelings until they are able to “release” the offender from “owing” them for their hurtful choices. Again, this is not easy nor will it be immediate and that’s okay. However, it should be one of the goals in therapy.

· Accountability/Support System: Both the offender and the wounded spouse should take steps to find healthy, safe people that can keep them accountable and that will support them through the restoration process. For the offender, this means finding people who he/she can be open and honest with but not fear being condemned by. Secrecy feeds infidelity so the offender must find a support group who will listen to him, guide him through slip-ups, and offer him truth and grace all at the same time. For the wounded spouse, it is equally important to find a group who will support them. They will also need accountability in making sure they are handling their end of marital restoration in a productive and not counter-productive way.

· Transparency: Part of marital restoration is making sure that the couple comes to the point where both spouses are safe enough for the other to be transparent with. The offender must avoid secrecy and the offended must be safe enough in their reactions to encourage that kind of honesty. Again, this is where accountability partners can really help.

· Commitment: The journey to restoration is difficult, long, and fraught with ups and downs. Often, it is three steps forward and one step back. Both spouses must be willing to stay with it, even during the backward steps.

· Trust must be rebuilt: My father used to say, “Son, trust is like a tree…..it takes a long time to grow but it can be chopped down in a day”. He was so right. A renewal of trust comes from changed behavior over time. The offender must realize that even if he/she is making positive changes that they will not be believed for quite some time. However, they must continue to work hard on maturity and growth so the wounded spouse can see that and learn to trust again. On the flip side, the wounded party must ALLOW for trust to rebuilt, which means a gradual opening up of the heart to the person who hurt you the most. This is not easy for either side but a relationship can never rise higher than the trust level.

· The entire marriage must be evaluated and overhauled: I love the following quote from Dr. Dave Carder, author of “Torn Asunder”:

“In most marriages, the breakdown is not only one spouse’s fault. Rather, the causes appear to be a constellation of general life experiences. Many times, the faithful spouse is inappropriately blamed (especially if it is the wife) for ‘pushing’ the infidel into the affair. Though, I have seen cases where that was true, most of the time it’s a gradual distancing between both partners that lies at the root. For men, the felt need is often loss of playfulness, a lack of flirtation, and an absence of adoration or respect from the wife. For women, it’s typically the loss of tenderness, care, and concern expressed by the husband. Since most of us marry to “get more” of our new spouse—more time together, more fun together, more lovemaking—you can see where disappointment can enter the picture. Most infidelity is about what we call ‘the five ‘A’s in nurturance—accommodation, affirmation, adoration, affection, and appreciation. It’s that whole package of emotional nurturance and care, and that’s what happens in marriages. We get so busy we stop taking care of each other. We get so busy, we stop having fun with each other, and that sets the stage—boom—people are in trouble.”

Admitting that there were multiple factors in the marriage that led up to the hurtful choices of infidelity is a hard step. There is a risk that the adulterer will use this to justify the affair. There is also the risk that the wounded spouse takes all the blame. However, usually there truly are multiple reasons a person chooses to cheat. Evaluating the deficits in the marriage does NOT remove the guilt of the offender. It does not put the blame on the innocent spouse either. However, what it DOES do is allows the couple the opportunity to identify weak areas in their marriage; areas of disconnection, neglect, and distance. It gives the couple a chance to transform their marriage into a relationship that has not only survived the horrors of infidelity, but a marriage that has closed its former gaps, renewed commitment, and one that can move forward to a more loving and healthy relationship than ever before.

Aaron Welch is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor and certified sex offender treatment specialist. He strives to fight for the hearts of his clients and empower them to build a legacy that impacts the world. He is part of a team of experts at “The Lifeworks Group, Inc”. For more information about Aaron or Lifeworks, please visit www.lifeworksgroup.org or www.legacycounselingservices.org

Warning Signs of Cheating Partners

Warning Signs of Cheating Partners
These are the most common signs of a partner who has detached from you because they are attached to someone else. Check off any of these traits you have seen in your relationship over the last 6 – 12 months. Be honest, the future of your relationship together could depend on it.

____ You find your partner has been lying to you about a variety of topics
____ Your partner abandons their religious belief system
____ Your spouse seems more secretive or deceptive
____ Abandoning faith or previously held values or morals
____ Not trustworthy or constant violations of trust
____ Secrecy or unusual activity that is very out of character for them
____ Your partner is disrespectful or rude to those who hold traditional values

____ Mate is working longer hours on the job and not coming home as much
____ Your spouse has become lazy, especially with household responsibilities
____ Working late every day, with no noticeable increase of income or volume of work
____ Leaving very early for work
____ Increased use of the internet, emails, IM’s, texts, Facebook or twitter
____ Unaccounted for time away from home
____ Additional mileage on odometer for no apparent reason
____ Smelling of perfume, nicotine or alcohol, like they have been to a club- not work
____ Increased use of alcohol/tobacco
____ Increased use of personal pager or cell phone, especially at odd times
____ New clothing or hair style, with tremendous attention to outward appearance
____ Increase in exercise/personal grooming
____ No longer wearing a wedding ring
____ Taking trips alone to the store or coffee shop, often for unexplained reasons

____ You notice charges on credit card statement that don’t make sense
____ Money becomes more of an issue between the two of you or frequent fights over spending
____ Hiding phone bills or travel expenses
____ Lying about raises, bonuses, or overtime pay
____ Discovering secret checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, or post office boxes
____ Unexplained purchases on credit card bills
____ An increase in ATM cash withdrawals for no logical reason
____ Purchases of flowers, jewelry, lingerie, perfume, or other intimate gift items that the spouse didn’t receive
____ Discovering financial records (cancelled checks or utility bills) that indicate spouse has a separate residence

____ Your spouse in indifferent to family events like birthdays, holidays, or family vacations.
____ Your spouse seems bored. Bored with you, with their job, with kids, with hobbies, and basically with home life in general
____ Your spouse seems to want danger or thrills in their life
____ Your spouse has low self-esteem or insecurity about themselves
____ You notice your spouse has a sense of confusion about their identity
____ Your spouse gets very defensive if you mention suspicion of infidelity or affairs
____ Saying “It’s in your imagination” is a common excuse for their actions

____ Your spouse is suddenly more attentive to others than usual
____ Your spouse is dressing nicer, looking nicer to everyone but you
____ They don’t want to go anywhere or do anything with you anymore
____ You feel as if you are being avoided by your spouse
____ You have considerably less intimacy in your relationship
____ You notice less affection, kindness or tender connections in your relationship
____ You sex life is practically non-existent
____ You can’t get your spouse to communicate with you
____ You can’t even get your mate to fight with you because they are so detached
____ You spot withdrawal or restlessness when they have home or church activities
____ Leaving home during an argument instead of staying and working it out
____ They have new friends that you’ve never met or are not allowed to meet
____ Hang up or anonymous phone calls at your house
____ No longer interested in you or the things important to you
____ New sexual techniques or the pressure to perform uncomfortable sexual behaviors
____ Finding birth control items hidden away in secret places
____ Finding new or hidden lingerie/ sexy undergarments
____ Unusually close to a ‘friend’ of the opposite sex who they talk about often
____ Saying “I need space” from the relationship or home responsibilities
____ Saying “You should go on with your life” or “I’m not good enough for you”
____ Separation is not only to move out – but clearly to move on

Stages of Adultery

Nearly all affairs follow very specific patters they generally fall into six stages, according to several leading researchers which can last for a period of weeks, months or in rare cases, for years.

Adultery Level One-Conversational
They develop a close emotional bond. Sometimes it occurs on the Internet, at work, or in the neighborhood. They get to know each other. There’s a spark. They want more.

Adultery Level Two- Secrets & Lies
Things are heating up by keeping feelings for the other person a total secret. Lies, deception and cover-ups fuel the fire of lustful desire even more. They don’t tell their spouse or friends that they are attracted emotionally or romantically to this person. Fantasy is very powerful and pushes the secret relationship deeper into the shadows and darkness.

Adultery Level Three- Romantic Dating
They meet for lunch, workout together or play tennis. Even though a casual observer would call this type of relationship ‘dating’ the new lovers may not see it that way and fiercely defend their actions as innocent. They start seeing and doing everything together. They begin to tell themselves that this is just a work pal, just a friend, but can’t deny that they dress special and look forward to being with them, even for the most mundane of activities.

Adultery Level Four- Fatal Attraction
The romance and secrets keep heating up the secret relationship until an explosion of physical desire creates sexual contact. They justify that it “just happened” and can’t explain their actions, yet want more of the forbidden fruit.

Adultery Level Five- Discovery & Decisions
The secret affair is discovered by someone and a decision must be made to stop the lies, set boundaries and seek professional help to restore or to move forward with the new person.

Adultery Level Six- Restoration or Separation
Research shows that an overwhelming majority of people caught in an affair decide to restore their marriage. They say good bye to the secret lover for good and take bold steps to restore trust into the relationship. In seriously damaged relationships they may move out and move on to begin the process of ending the marriage through divorce to start with someone new.

How can you tell if a Relationship is really Friends or Lovers?

You meet or talk with someone of the opposite sex you are romantically attracted to and feel that you can’t tell your spouse. This includes Internet, email, social networks, chat rooms, text messaging or twitter.

Emotional Affairs
Confiding things you are reluctant to tell your spouse creates emotional intimacy that grows greater in the new friendship than in the marriage. A common pattern is confining negative things about your marriage to the new partner. This is boldly signaling that, “I am vulnerable” or I’m available”, which tends to heat things up with the new person.

Sexual Chemistry
It can occur even if both people don’t actually touch. Saying suggestive things to a new person, like, “I’m attracted to you,” or “I thought about you last night, but because I’m married I can’t do anything about it.” This tremendously increases the sexual tension by creating the desire to taste the ‘forbidden fruit.’

Side by side or face to face?
Remember the old saying – “Friends stand side by side, while lovers stand face to face,” We all need friends who support us and who encourage us to honor our commitments. Lovers are motivated to use the relationship to meet their needs and neglect other family members. One relationship is about adding value to the other person to meet their needs in a healthy and appropriate way, while the other is about immediate gratification to indulge selfish desires.

Friends will tell you truth and protect you from going down roads that will destroy the good things in your life. Lovers often play along with the deception, but everyone knows that the secret will one day come out and often in a shame filled way. When that happens, the chemistry of the affair is usually replaced by the despair of trying to rebuild broken trust. It can be done, but usually can’t be done alone.

If you, or someone you care about is facing a secret affair- get help now! Marriages can recover from shattered trust in time, but it is essential to have some professional guidance to prevent more pain. There are many options available to those who want to rebuild and I believe that is always for the best, no matter how complex the situation, there is a way to work things out if both people are just willing to try. Hey, someone you know might benefit from this resource, so help us to help them by sending it along with our prayer that they take bold action today, to avoid regrets tomorrow.

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Infidelity Quotes

Lust makes us think that having some person we don’t presently have would make us happier. Often that person is simply a figment of our imagination. Even if the person is real, we often attach character traits to him or her that are not real. Usually our lust focuses on sexual involvement. We imagine someone who is terribly fond of us and who prefers our presence and intimacy over anyone else’s. We imagine that if we had such a person to hold in our arms, it would be exciting and wonderfully fulfilling. This is a terrible deception, for it’s a self-centered form of love and we ignore the devastating consequences of living out our imaginations. - Dr. Gary Smalley

Statistically only 3% of married men marry their affair partners and if they do only 3% of these marriages work. "Unfortunately, once the affair becomes a marriage, the same traits the man brought with him to his first marriage, he brings with him to the second. He likely blames his wife for where he’s at, and he’ll likely say he doesn’t love her. In reality, he is a significant part of the problem in his marriage. An affair is characterized by excitement. A large part of what makes it exciting is the “forbidden” element and the lack of commitment. Our culture has been feeding us a lie, that there is a “soul-mate” for each person and we’ll be happy when we find this one magical person. A married man will often give his mistress the impression she is the one. He is often also telling his wife this at the same time." - Anne Bercht, marital researcher

"Regarding temptation: I urge you to be wary of pride in your own infallibility. The minute you begin thinking that an affair “would never happen to me” is when you become most vulnerable. We are sexual creatures with powerful urges. We are also fallen beings with strong desires to do wrong. That is what temptation is all about. Do not give it a place in your life. My father once wrote, “Strong desire is like a powerful river. As long as it stays within the banks of God’s will, all will be proper and clean. But when it overflows those boundaries, devastation awaits downstream. Some time ago I discovered a little recognized, but universal, characteristic of human nature: We value that which we are fortunate to get; we discredit that with which we are stuck! We lust for the very thing which is beyond our grasp; we disdain that same item when it becomes a permanent possession. This helps explain the incredible power that the lure of infidelity can have on our behavior. Nevertheless, God promises to provide a “way out” of temptation if we will look for it, (see I Cor.10:13) Keep looking for the way out and you’ll keep building up trust in your marriage. - Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, www.Family.org

Often wayward spouses do not have a history of lying, but their affair turns them into masters of deception. Once in a while the fog will life, and they see how dishonest they have become. When that happens, they usually panic and recognize the affair for the mistake it is. But eventually the fog comes back, clouding their reason, and they go back to their lifestyle of cheating and lying. One of the most common clues that an affair is going on is an unfaithful spouse’s unwillingness to let the other spouse know about all aspects of his or her life. If a spouse refuses to talk about the events of the day, it may be a sign that a secret second life exists. When an unfaithful spouse makes his or her life a private matter, off-limits to the betrayed spouse’s inquiries, the secret second life is difficult to discover. …When you stop to think about it, privacy isn’t something that improves marriages. It’s honesty and openness that improve marriages. The more information you have about each other’s thoughts and activities, the easier it is to meet each other’s needs and resolve conflicts. Privacy actually blocks access to that important information, and that ultimately leads to marital failure.
- Dr. Williard Harley & Dr. Jennifer Harley Chalmers, from the book, "Surviving an Affair"

Part of the problem that folks do not understand in this culture is that there is a divinely placed connection between the soul and the body, and that you cannot engage in some kind of bodily activity without it impacting your soul, your heart, and your mind. It goes deep and leaves profound wounds and scars. - Bob Lepine, cohost of www.familylife.com
Remember, a thirty-five-year marriage does not guarantee a year number thirty-six. Take nothing for granted just because you have it today. - Jim Smoke

In most marriages, the breakdown is not only one spouse’s fault. Rather, the causes appear to be a constellation of general life experiences. Many times, the faithful spouse is inappropriately blamed (especially if it is the wife) for “pushing” the infidel into the affair. Though, I have seen cases where that was true, most of the time it’s a gradual distancing between both partners that lies at the root. For men, the felt need is often loss of playfulness, a lack of flirtation, and an absence of adoration or respect from the wife. For women, it’s typically the loss of tenderness, care, and concern expressed by the husband. Since most of us marry to “get more” of our new spouse—more time together, more fun together, more lovemaking—you can see where disappointment can enter the picture. Most infidelity is about what we call “the five A’s in nurturance” — accommodation, affirmation, adoration, affection, and appreciation. It’s that whole package of emotional nurturance and care, and that’s what happens in marriages. We get so busy we stop taking care of each other. We get so busy, we stop having fun with each other, and that sets the stage, and — boom — people are in trouble." -Dr. Dave Carder, from his book, "Torn Asunder"

Satan’s 2 greatest lies:
(1) it won’t hurt— One time won’t hurt you.
(2) God will never love you anymore— you’ve blown it! -Dr. Neil Clark Anderson, author
Left to our own resources, more times than not, we will sin sexually. The pressures are just too great. That’s why a vital relationship with God is critical. Without it, good sex is simply not possible. Only fully devoted, committed, authentic Christians can feel the inner tug of the Holy Spirit, the voice that tells us “Abhor evil, cling to good.” -Bill Hybels, from his book, "Tender Love”

A study from the University of Florida finds that 83% of spouses who had Internet encounters with the opposite sex didn’t consider it to be cheating. “The Internet will soon become the most common form of infidelity, if it isn’t already. Never before has the dating world been so handy for married men and women looking for a fling. With cybersex, there’s no longer any need for secret trips to obscure motels. An online liaison may even take place in the same room with one’s spouse.” In the words of one 41-year-old man in the study, “All I have to do is turn on my computer, and I have thousands of women to choose from. (It) can’t get any easier than that.”
- Beatriz Mileham, PhD, University of Florida

Chat rooms are the fastest-rising cause of relationship breakdowns, and the problem only stands to get worse as today’s population of Internet users, estimated at 649 million worldwide, continues to grow. -Counseling Research from the University of Florida
The very deceptive thing about these online affairs is that, like in dating relationships, you’re only seeing the best part of the other person. That is a lie from Satan that really sandbags a lot of marriages. I urge Christian husbands and wives to steer clear of Internet chat rooms geared specifically for married couples, and to be as intentional about investing and managing their relationships as they might be about their 401-K. -Glenn Stanton, Focus on the Family marriage analyst, www.Family.org

Business travelers “are on a slippery slope headed for trouble” any time they go out to an entertainment venue, drink alcohol, eat expensive meals together, have time “to build a social, platonic friendship” and return to the same hotel. “Secrecy is the protection; alcohol is the barrier buster; and availability lights the fire.” - Dr. Dave Carder, Christian Counselor
Even if intense emotional affairs in the workplace didn’t lead to sex they are a threat to marriages and part of the new crisis of infidelity. The reason is that the emotional intimacy with a co-worker or friend gradually, and almost invisibly, supplants that with the spouse.
-Dr. Shirley Glass

Adultery is grounds for divorce—but not necessarily a reason for divorce. I know a couple who came very close to divorcing. He had an affair and his wife had a hard time trusting him, especially if he was late for dinner or late coming home after work. Once when he was late, she accused him of seeing “her” again. He was about to defend himself and speak harsh words to her about “this never-ending mistrust.” But instead, he thought for a few seconds before opening his mouth and realized just how forgiving and loving she is to have stayed in the marriage. Then when he opened his mouth, he spoke words of kindness and love by saying, “Thank you for your commitment to me and forgiveness." By questioning me now and then, it only proves to me how much you love me, and I’m so grateful to you!” When he started to react, he caught himself remembering what a great wife she is. That is living out the principle from James 1:19, which says "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." What a blessing to be able to respond to any situation with positive, uplifting words. This is truly a mark of maturity. Will you take responsibility for your words when you find yourself in a potentially explosive conflict? -Dr Gary Smalley, founder of www.dnaofrelationships.com

62% of unfaithful men and 46% of the women met their illicit partner through work. “In the new infidelity, affairs do not have to be sexual. Infidelity is any emotional or sexual intimacy that violates trust. I’m tempted to go to all the buildings downtown and put up a sign, “DANGER ZONE: Men and Women at Work.” Today’s workplace is the most common breeding ground for affairs. It’s the proximity and collegiality — the intimacy of working together, not bad marriages—that is the slippery slope to infidelity." -Dr. Shirley Glass, from her book, "NOT just friends: Protect your Relationship from Infidelity and Heal the Trauma of Betrayal"
"Affairs cause marriages to turn bad more often than bad marriages cause affairs. “If you meet enough people, you’ll eventually find someone with whom you have chemistry.”
-Pat Love, Imago Therapist

"For those who are going through, or love someone going through, the aftermath of finding out about a spouse’s adultery: Our hearts break for you, and we want you to know there is hope. Marriages can heal. We know, because ours did. We know, because we’ve been able to support other couples facing this anguish. We also know it will be one of the hardest things you will ever go through. It would have been far easier at the time for us to split up. And we would not have been condemned for doing so. That same thing is true for many others. We know these words seem hard to believe. When you go through this crisis, you feel as if the weight of the world is pressing down on you. Then the fiery darts from hell come faster and faster, and your shield of faith seems to offer little protection. You are fighting for your marriage with every ounce of strength you can muster until you begin to fear you’re going to lose the battle. Remember, this is where Satan wants you, and he will be faithful to keep the burners on high. Why? He wants you to become another statistic. So let us repeat ourselves: You don’t have to give up! You can make it! - Gary & Mona Shriver, from their book “Unfaithful"