Sioux Falls Couples

Local talk about what's available for couples seeking helpful resources

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How Happiness Can Hurt Your Marriage

smiley face

Dr.Cloud is known internationally as a writer, speaker, and counselor, who makes a great point about how our attitude toward happiness may doom our relationships and marriages!

 

I (Dr. Cloud) was talking to a young man one day about his girlfriend. He was thinking about getting married, and he had questions about their relationship. Several times during the conversation, he said that something she did not “make him happy.” It was clear that this was a theme for him. She was not “making him happy.”

When I asked, he said that she wanted him to deal with some things in the relationship. He needed to do some work that took effort. It was not a “happy” time. When he had to work on the relationship, he no longer liked it.

At first, I was trying to understand what the difficulties were, but the more I listened, the more I saw that he was the difficulty. His attitude was, “If I’m not happy, something bad must be happening.” And his immediate conclusion was always that the “bad” was in someone else, not him. From his perspective, he was not part of any problem, much less part of the solution. Finally, I had heard about as much as I could take of his self-centered ramblings.

“I think I know what you should do,” I said.

“What?” he asked.

“I think you should get a goldfish,” I replied.

Looking at me as if I were a little crazy, he asked, “What are you talking about? Why do you say that?”

“It sounds to me like that is about the highest level of relationship you are ready for. Forget the marriage thing.”

“What do you mean by ‘the highest level of relationship’?”

“Well, even a dog makes demands on you. A dog has to be let out to go to the bathroom. You have to clean up after it. Other times, it requires time from you when you don’t want to give it. A dog might interfere with your happiness. Better get a goldfish. A goldfish doesn’t ask for much. But a woman is completely out of the question.”

Now we had something to talk about. This person’s greatest value was his own happiness and his own immediate comfort. And I can’t think of a worse value in life, especially a life that includes marriage. Why? Is this a killjoy attitude? Hardly. I am not advocating misery. I hate pain. But I do know this: People who always want to be happy and pursue it above all else are some of the most miserable people in the world.

The reason is that happiness is a result. It is sometimes the result of having good things happen. But usually it is the result of our being in a good place inside ourselves and our having done the character work we need to do so that we are content and joyful in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. Happiness is a fruit of a lot of hard work in relationships, career, spiritual growth, or a host of other arenas of life. But nowhere is this as true as in marriage.

Marriage is a lot of work, period. I don’t know anyone who has been married very long who does not attest to that. When couples do the right kind of work—character work—they find that they can gain more happiness in their marriage than they thought possible. But it always comes as a result of going through some difficult moments. Conflicts, fears, and old traumas. Big and small rejections, arguments, and hurt feelings. The disillusionment of someone being different than was imagined. The difficult task of accepting imperfections and immaturity that are larger than one thinks they should be.

All of these things are normal, and all of these things are workable. And if people work through them, they reach happiness again, usually a happiness of a deeper and better sort. But if they hit these inevitable walls and have the attitude that this problem is “interfering with my happiness,” they are in real trouble. They will be angry with the “inconvenience” of their happiness being interrupted and will refuse to solve the issues or will just leave the relationship. If happiness is our guide and it goes away momentarily, we will assume that something is wrong.

The truth is (and this is why happiness is such a horrible goal) that when we are not happy, something good may be happening. You may have been brought to that moment of crisis because of a need for growth, and that crisis may be the solution to much of what is wrong with your life. If you could grasp whatever it is that this situation is asking you to learn, it could change your entire life.

This is why the Bible tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all with out finding fault, and it will be given to him” (see James 1:2–5).

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From Michele Weiner-Davis – The Divorce Busting® Center

michele weiner davis

Hi,

Do you want to test your relationship I.Q.? Then answer the following questions with True or False!  (T or F)

Conflict and anger are signs that your relationship is failing.
T or F?

(False)

It’s amazing to me how many people believe that their marriages are dysfunctional when there is conflict.

The fact is, constant avoidance of conflict is one of the most common issues in the couples in my practice!

All marriages, even the best of marriages, have their ups and downs- times when spouses are angry and argumentative.

It’s impossible to live under the same roof with another human being for any length of time and not disagree now and then.

 

You’re more likely to divorce if there are differences in your backgrounds, likes and dislikes and interests. T or F?

(False)

Research shows that people who stay together and are happily married are no more similar than those who divorce! They come from decidedly different backgrounds, hold different beliefs and have sharply different interests.

But what separates those who have successful relationships from those who don’t is this- they learn effective ways to deal with their differences.

They have definite methods for handling conflict.

Although they don’t necessarily have a lot in common, they nurture the interests they do share and try to develop new ones from time to time.

Successful couples understand that their partners are not supposed to be their clones. They believe that life would be incredibly boring if their spouses were mirror images of themselves.

Instead, happily married people learn to both appreciate their differences, find ways to grow from them or simply make peace with them.

 

In healthy relationships, major disagreements get resolved over time.  T or F?

(False)

Research tells us that approximately sixty-nine percent of what couples argue about is unresolvable!

If you eavesdrop on couples’ arguments as newlyweds and then again after they’ve been married for twenty-five years or more, you might be surprised to find that much of the content is the same.

Certain issues will remain sticking points throughout one’s entire marriage, even in the best of marriages!

However, the way in which people discuss these heated issues does change over time. We tend to mellow a bit, which makes a huge difference in how our partners react to us and visa verse.

 

In healthy marriages, spouses have the same definition of what it means to be loving.   T or F?

(False)

No two people define love in exactly the same way.

What it takes for you to feel loved is probably fairly different from what it takes for your spouse to feel loved.

There is a good reason for this.

Your definition of love springs from a number of factors, your upbringing, your culture, your gender and your life experiences in general.

Since you and your spouse have had different life experiences, you will undoubtedly view love differently as well.

Sometimes very differently, in fact.

Although this, in and of itself, is not problematic, it will become a problem if you fail to honor and accommodate your partner’s point of view.

 

People just fall out of love.   T or F?

(False)

Some people believe that they need to divorce their spouses because they’ve fallen out of love.

They didn’t mean for it to happen, it just happened.

To them, love is a feeling that is either there or it’s not there. If it’s there, you get married. If it’s not there, you divorce.

This is one of the silliest ideas I have ever heard.

 

The number one cause for the breakdown in marriages in our country is that people don’t spend enough time together. They take their marriages and their spouses for granted.

Everything- work, the kids, soccer games, community activities, extended family obligations, and so on- becomes more important than spending time together.

The marriage gets placed on the bottom of the priority list. When this happens, people grow apart.

They become two strangers passing in the night. They’re no longer a team. And, because they’re distant, the little time they do spend together, they end up fighting.

This distance and alienation sometimes fools people into thinking they’ve fallen out of love. They feel numb. They can’t imagine ever re-igniting
those loving feelings.

But the truth is, the love hasn’t been destroyed, it’s just camouflaged beneath the numbness.

And, by retracing the steps taken to weaken love’s bond, the feelings of warmth, connection, friendship and intimacy can be restored.

 

Affairs don’t have to ruin marriages.  T or F?

(True)

There is little that is more devastating than to discover your spouse has been unfaithful.

Most people take to heart the promise they make to forsake all others. An intimate relationship is one of the primary things that set marriages apart from all other kinds of relationships.

The connection, closeness and satisfaction you feel with your mate is very personal, something that is meant just for the two of you.

This is why infidelity feels like such a violation.

Yet affairs happen, with some regularity, I might add. And when they do, the repair of the marriage is no easy task.

Sometimes those who have been hurt swear they will never recover. They’re convinced that they will not be able to forgive and move forward in the marriage.

And although I completely understand why people feel this way, I also know that the future isn’t as bleak as they are anticipating.

Most people survive infidelity and can, in fact make their marriage stronger once they work through the issues infidelity has brought into their lives.

 

Most people are much happier in their second marriages because they’ve learned from their mistakes.   T or F?

(False)

Is love more beautiful the second time around?

Although it’s true that some people learn from their mistakes in their first marriages and are able to develop happier second marriages, by no means, is this the rule.

In fact, sixty percent of second marriages end in divorce!

One of the reasons there are more divorces in second marriages is that people enter their second marriages with the bad relationship habits they learned the first time around.

They simply find new partners with whom they can do that old familiar dance. Step-parenting issues make second and subsequent marriages challenging.

But there is another reason second marriages aren’t necessarily better than first ones.

Unless you understand that marriage doesn’t make people happy, you will spend the rest of your life trading in marital partners for new ones.

It is unfortunate that too few people recognize and internalize that no one can make you happy. Happiness is a do-it-yourself job. You can’t rely on another person to fulfill you.

You need to love what you do in your life, regardless of what your spouse brings to the marriage. Love needs to be icing on the cake, not the cake.

 

If you are of the belief that marriage should make you happy, then you will undoubtedly start to think something major is lacking in your spouse and that you should get out of your marriage.

The problem is, unless you feel satisfied with your own life, you will not be able to decipher whether your unhappiness stems from personal or relationship issues.

If you jump to conclusions and assume you need to dump your partner and try another, you are likely to be sorely disappointed because you will find yourself in the same state of unhappiness.

Your next marriage won’t cure the unhappiness problem either.

So, how did you do?  How is your relationship I.Q.?

 

Warmly,

 

Michele

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Conscious Uncoupling: An Oxymoron?

michele weiner davisFrom Michele Weiner-Davis

The Divorce Busting® Center

Hi,

The other day I was interviewed by a reporter asking my opinion about a program soon-to-be-divorced, actor Gwyneth Paltrow participated in called “Conscious Uncoupling.”  This program is designed to “release the trauma of a breakup, reclaim your power and reinvent your life.”

Among other things, it supposedly helps couples understand and honor what was good about their lives together, and then let go….together.

Give me a break.

I know some marriages will end in divorce and that said, they should be as collaborative as possible, especially when children are involved.

But how many couples do you know who have “good divorces?” Even those with the best of intentions often find themselves struggling as time passes.

Divorce is not an easy process, no matter how you slice it.

Plus, here’s the biggest fallacy of all.  Most of the divorces that happen in our country are based on unilateral decisions- one person wants it and the other desperately does not.

It’s hard to imagine a heartbroken person being a willing participant in a consciousness-building program that both honors the marriage and destroys it at the same time.

Impossible.

Furthermore, even if people participate in a program that offers them insight about their marriage and years past, how exactly does that benefit children who will end up being shuffled around from one enlightened home to another?

Not at all.

Research indicates that even when parents do better as a result of divorce, there doesn’t seem to be a trickle down effect for children as one would hope.

Except in extremely dysfunctional marriages (where there is violence, chronic infidelity and substance abuse), research also tells us that kids do better when their parents work out their differences and stay together.

The developer of the program, “Conscious Uncoupling” suggests that marriage should be about personal growth, and when that no longer happens, the couples’ work together is done.

Hello?  What planet am I from?

Marriage isn’t about personal growth, although you will hopefully learn and grow while you’re in it.  It’s about a lot of things.  One of the primary things marriage is about is learning RELATIONSHIP SKILLS, how to have a loving, harmonious, lasting marriage.

You can evolve personally on a mountainside, alone.  But to be in a marriage, you have to learn how to share, give, love, and collaborate.

Oh yes, and one final thing.

Here’s a quote from Gywneth Paltrow as she announced her decision to divorce.

“We are, however, and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been.”

No, Gynwneth, you will not always be a family.  Divorce ends marriages and dissolves families.

And if you’re closer than you’ve ever been, for God’s sake, why not get some good help and make your marriage work and keep your sweet family together?

Just a thought.

Warmly,

Michele

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Faithful & True Offers Help with Sexual Betrayal

angry couple

Have you struggled with sexual issues or addiction?  Do you have a spouse that has?  I have come back from a conference for counselors and discovered a very solid resource for you!  It is called Faithful & True.  This is an organization located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota that offers three different workshops:

1) Women’s Journey Workshops – for a woman who has been sexually betrayed
2) Men’s Intensive Workshops – for men looking for sexual purity
3) Couples’ Intensive Workshops – for couples who have experienced sexual betrayal longing to increase their intimacy
 
Mark and Debbie Laaser and Greg and Beth Miller are the facilitators who bring their own stories and recovery into these workshops.  Mark Laaser has spent decades helping men with sexual addiction and has a strong reputation in this field.  They have workshops scheduled for November and December, so please check them out soon if you are interested!  Just go to: faithfulandtrue.com
 

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A fun link offering dating ideas for married couples

Happy couple on a bench in parkAs married couples, it’s important to keep each other a priority – and have some fun, too!   Sara Novak wrote 10 Dating Ideas for Married Couples at the How Stuff Works website.  I thought I’d list the ten and let you grab the link for the full article.

10: Create Alone Time Every Day

9: Plan a Distraction-free Getaway (That means no laptop, cell phone or Blackberry!)

8: Keep the Surprises Coming

7: Make Your Spouse Your First Priority out on the next page.

6: Adapt to Each Other (You can’t be the same person you were when you first met, but as long as you grow together and not apart, it doesn’t matter.)

5: Let Irritating Habits Go

4: Keep the Passion Alive

3: Look Your Best

2: Spur Stimulating Conversation

1: Find a New Mutual Hobby

For the complete article written by Sara Novak go to: http://health.howstuffworks.com/relationships/marriage/10-dating-ideas-for-married-couples.htm

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Are you an “innie”?

I enjoy exploring peoples’ unique personality traits.  It adds to our understanding of how our couple relationships are unique and interesting.  So, when I received an article titled: “23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert“, I wanted to pass it on!

introvert-pic-goldfish[1]

An “innie” (introverted) husband who is married to an “outie” (extroverted) wife, sent this to me, knowing that I am also an “innie” married to an “outie”.  I know that if my husband and I had understood our differences in this area early on, it would have saved us from a lot of headaches and heartaches!  Let me know if you’d like to see more about how couples who come from the different worlds of introversion and extroversion make these differences work for them!

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We’re just friends…

Michele Weiner-Davis offers excellent advice in this article.  This is a must share!

The Divorce Busting® Center

We’re just friends….

Hi,Does your spouse have a relationship with someone that makes you feel uncomfortable?  Have you heard:”We’re just friends.” “What’s wrong with my wanting to have friends of the opposite sex?” “No matter what you think, it’s not sexual, so stop hassling me.” “What am I supposed to do? Stop talking to him? I work with him.” “You’re too suspicious.”Does any of this sound familiar?Your spouse flatly denies any inappropriate interactions. Sometimes you wonder whether the relationship is physical and it drives you crazy.Other times you are not convinced that sex, touching or kissing is part of what they do together, but your instincts are telling you something is wrong.In your dark moments, you feel anxious, depressed, and angry but most of all deceived.You may start doing things you never dreamed of- snooping, accessing private emails, phone records and credit card bills. You search your spouse’s computer or phone for any telltale signs that something is amiss.Occasionally, you discover emails that are personal in nature. Or perhaps there are late- night calls. Maybe the person’s name is one of the few names that appears on your spouse’s buddy list.And although some of the exchanges are work-related, there’s more than a tinge of familiarity that is concerning.So, you begin grilling your spouse.She or he swears that nothing physical is going on and after much convincing, you start to believe this is true.Yet, what is also true is that there are lunches, after-hour meetings, conversations about the person’s marital unhappiness, and other topics you consider private and should occur only between you and your spouse.You remember something you read about “emotional affairs” and you now feel certain that your spouse is right smack dab in the middle of one.

So, you state your case. You are extremely unhappy about the nature of the relationship. You don’t like it one bit.

“It might not be physical,” you tell your spouse, but it threatens you and your marriage. You don’t want your spouse being intimate with another person in any way, shape or form. It hurts and you consider it betrayal.

Hearing this, your spouse becomes defensive and insists that nothing inappropriate is going on.

“I know my boundaries. I am not having an affair, so you’re wrong and I want you to stop nagging me about this. You’re over-reacting.”

But are you?

In the three decades I have been working with couples, I have watched the destruction caused by emotional affairs.

Even if two people are not engaged in a physical relationship, the emotional attachment can threaten the very foundation and fabric of the marriage. Here are a few reasons why:

 

* Betrayal is in the eye of the beholder
Often, people who have close extramarital relationships feel perfectly justified as long as sex is not involved. However, if their spouses think otherwise and feel hurt, threatened or emotionally abandoned, it then becomes a marital problem.

And as with any marital problem, partners need to protect each other’s feelings.

This means that the emotionally involved partner should honor the feelings of his or her spouse whether or not he or she agrees with or understands it completely.

Mutual care-taking is what loving relationships are all about. It’s essential to remember that, at bottom, betrayal is unquestionably in the eye of the beholder.

 

* Having close “friends” can be a slippery slope
Here’s an example:
A completely innocent meeting after work with co-workers may result in two people becoming excited about a project they will work on together. They end up spending a great deal of time together at work and the relationship becomes increasingly comfortable and familiar.

Soon, they start having lunches together and when the work load increases, there are more demands on their time and efforts to complete the project. They stay later at work and go out to dinner.

Eventually, conversations shift from business to life outside work. Over time, these talks get more and more personal.

Occasionally, people discover that they can talk about certain subjects with their co-worker that they cannot talk about with their spouses. An intimate bond begins to form.

It’s not long after that, that conversations become even more intimate.

Frequently, dissatisfaction about one’s own marriage gets discussed. They commiserate and validate each others’ feelings and they become confidantes.

Their communication defines their relationship as special and separate from each other’s marriage.

The relationship may get physical at this point. But even if it doesn’t, the real nature of the relationship is kept secret. Secrets place marriages at risk of divorce.

As you can see by this example, the relationship started out completely innocent. But the small daily choices people made, though on the surface might have also seemed benign, lead to a connection that threatens their marriages.

Friends without benefits are not marriage-friendly.

 

* An emotional affair takes energy away from marriage
Let’s face it. There is just so much time in a day. And people have finite energy in their lives.

If the focus in one’s life is the “the other person,” time and energy are being drained from the marriage. Plus, if a partner is getting emotional needs met outside the marriage, there is little need to connect at home.

This leads to emotional distance and growing apart. Marriages are living things and they require attention and nurturance.

 

* Emotional affairs may be misconstrued
Sometimes one person is more emotionally involved in the relationship than the other. Perhaps he or she is hoping that the emotional relationship will flourish into something even more meaningful.

That person might even be hoping that the other will eventually leave his or her marriage and become involved on a very deep level.

This can happen without the other person’s awareness. Their intentions might be pure- to help out a person in distress, to be a loyal friend, or to simply have a fulfilling platonic, appropriate relationship.

But one can never predict how the other person interprets interactions and exchanges. To avoid misunderstandings of any sort, it is essential to have boundaries in relationships outside marriage. This way, no one will be hurt or misled.

 

What to do next

If your spouse is having an emotional affair, stop nagging, spying or haranguing. I wrote this article for you to give to your partner. It may or may not alter your spouse’s behavior, but it least it will be food for thought.

And if you are someone whose spouse is complaining about a relationship you may be having, taking your spouse’s feelings into account will make life much more pleasant for you and it just might save your marriage!

_____________________________________________________________

www.divorcebusting.com

Michele Weiner-Davis

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Is this relationship the right one?

doing online couple checkup

Do you want to figure out if you really are compatible before going any further?  But, you don’t want to go to a counselor to find out?  Then, check out CoupleCheckup.com!  For only $35, you answer questions online and once you are finished, you’ll have the results ready in minutes to review!  I have a lot of trust in this inventory, as it comes from the great people who make the PREPARE/ENRICH Inventory that I’ve used for years with my couples.

 

 

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Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage!

I remember my husband and I getting into one of those arguments that lasted for days.  Once we actually started talking about it, we discovered we did not even know why we were mad at each other!  I can’t say we’ve always been able to do this, but that day we both found humor in that and still laugh about it even now.

Humor is in the top three of great qualities that keep marriages working and fun!  I don’t mean the sarcastic humor we can throw at our spouse (and I’ve been good at that!), but the type of humor that finds you both laughing.   We all do funny quirky things at time and laughing at ourselves can keep us from a conversation that is “going south”.

If you want to have a fun and funny way to explore the quirky marriage dynamics we all have, I would highly recommend Mark Gungor’s DVD, “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage”.  He hits on major truths with a sense of humor that will keep you laughing so hard you might need some tissues!

 

 

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Getting married? Check this out.

DSC_3775I love it when premarital couples are willing to take time to invest not only in their wedding, but something much more important - their marriage.  Studies say that premarital counseling may reduce chances of divorce by 30%!

So, let me pass on the opportunities the Catholic Diocese offers through their “Engaged Encounter Weekends”.  You may either look them up at: sfcatholic.org or the direct link is: http://www.sfcatholic.org/respectlife/Content.aspx?id=566&office=OfficeofRespectLife

By the way, I’d encourage you to focus on taking a class or getting premarital counseling six or more months before your wedding.  I have worked with many engaged couples and I’ve observed that those who took some marriage education early got a lot more out of it than those trying to fit it in while deciding last-minute wedding details.  And, congratulations if you are engaged!