Tag Archives: exhausted woman

What To Do When A Friend Has An Affair

3929-000026Our lives seem to have seasons.  For a time being my husband and I were in a season of graduations, then marriages, then kids, and now we are in a season of divorces.  I used to laugh at the fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce statistic smugly thinking that my friends would not be in that category, but now reality has set into my life.  Fifty percent of marriages ending in divorce is a conservative number among my friends.

Most of the stories are similar in that they began with an emotional affair on the part of one spouse and then ended with a physical affair.  In some cases the affairs did not last but in many of the cases both parties divorce and then remarry.  As a friend to both spouses and unfortunately sometimes even a friend to the “other one”, the boundaries of friendship seem to become strained no matter how much like Switzerland I attempt to become.  Having learned from many past mistakes, here are a few suggestions as to how to handle learning that your friend has committed adultery.

Don’t rely on gossip.  This is not a time to listen to information second or third hand and rely on it as if it was gospel no matter how reliable the source.  Instead observe your friend for yourself, looking for any indication that the gossip was true before you say anything.  This simple step can reduce the effectiveness of gossip especially if it is not true.  It there are indications that your friend is having an affair, then do not discuss it with anyone until you have had an opportunity to speak with your friend first.

Consider your friendship.  Many friends run the other way instead of confronting a friend who is cheating because they don’t want to get involved.  If you are really their friend, you are already involved and divorce does not just affect the person getting the divorce, it affects everyone around them.  In some cases an affair and then divorce can have a ripple effect on the work environment, a group of close friends or the church.  Consider these questions.  How much do you really value the friendship?  Is this a friendship you would like to maintain no matter the outcome?  If so, then you may need to confront them.  If not, then walk away and don’t spread gossip.

Think and pray before confronting.  Ask God to give you the right time and place for a confrontation.   Ask for understanding from their perspective what happened, not from your perspective.  Recognizing that there usually is far more to the story than what you can see right now and usually more than one version of the same story goes a long way to understanding your friend.  The point of confrontation is for reconciliation of your friendship, not an opportunity to say, “I’m right, you are wrong”.  Most likely, this is the time when your friend really needs a true friend.

Gently confront.  True friendship is not based on performance; it is based on love for one another.  Everyone makes mistakes, some are larger than others, some are more obvious than others, and some are more destructive than others, but nonetheless, we all make mistakes.  By reminding yourself of times when you have made a mistake and needed a friend helps to keep the conversation in proper perspective.  Most important to remember is to speak the truth in love to your friend.  Do not mince words or fail to say what is right, just do it remembering that you too have been wrong in the past and will be wrong sometime in the future.

Being disappointed by a friend’s affair does not mean that you have to lose the relationship.  Rather, this is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship if your friend wants your friendship going forward.  Your friend may not be thrilled by the conversation and in the end, your relationship may end but at least you will know that you did what was right, no matter how difficult.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

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How to Handle Ranting and Raving

couple-arguingThe other day a friend told me about her husband’s ranting and raving over what seemed like nothing. His work was demanding more and more, he did not like his boss or the people he worked with, the house needed some repairs, his health was deteriorating, he got a stomach ache from his last meal, the dog wanted too much attention, and several other large and small complaints.  His ranting and raving lasted well over several hours and resolved absolutely nothing.  At the end, she was exhausted, frustrated, hurt and desperately wanted to help him but had no idea where to begin.

Sound familiar?  Maybe it is a close friend, a co-worker, a child, a parent or a spouse who routinely rants and raves over what seems like nothing but usually is something.  Their ranting and raving does not seem to resolve anything in the moment and by the time it ends they feel better and you feel worse.  It is as if they unloaded their garbage onto you but you did not get a chance to unload and if you do try to unload during their ranting and raving, you have just added about an extra hour onto the discussion.  The rants and raves are not once a year incidents, rather they are almost monthly and if they don’t do a little ranting and raving, the next one is likely to be twice as long.

For some people they type of relationship is likely to cause them to run away, they would rather not invest the time and energy into such a relationship.  But for others, the benefits of the relationship far out way the monthly rants and raves, so they decide that the relationship adds more value to their life than it subtracts and they stay.  This is the case for my client; she truly loves her husband, is committed to the relationship and wants to help but is unsure how.

It’s not your responsibility.  Their rants and raves are their responsibility not yours.  This is extremely difficult to remember in the moment as the ranter and raver is likely to blame you for some if not all of the problem.   Once you look back over the course of your relationship, you will realize that even if you did change something that was not enough to stop their ranting and raving.  It almost seems as if they have an insatiable appetite for ranting and raving and if it is not this than it is that.  Their reaction is their responsibility; your reaction is your responsibility.

Change your expectations.  During the ranting and raving you try to help the situation by offering advice, compassion or accepting responsibility for your mistakes, yet none of their efforts seem to reduce the ranting and raving.  In fact, they seem to bring about even more and different ranting and raving.  If you want to offer encouragement, do.  Just don’t expect a return on your investment.  Decreasing your expectations is not giving up rather it is recognizing that you are not in charge of their ranting and raving, they are.

Look for the nugget of truth.  Ranters and ravers are not mindless people without intelligent thought rather they are people who have been pushed to their limit and they usually do have a valid point.  The key is to find the nugget of truth in their ranting and raving and focus on that.  For instance, they may be upset about your financial situation and declare that overspending on everything needs to stop.  Well, if you are overspending on something, maybe it is the groceries, then work on modifying that behavior.  Don’t try to change everything all at once because it just does not work.  Instead focus on changing one behavior at a time.  Find one nugget and work on changing it.  Leave the other nuggets for another day.

Try praying.  Ok, this is tricky because the type of prayer is extremely important.  More than likely, after the ranting and raving is over, you are in pain and feel a heavy burden.  So don’t pray that the person ranting and raving will hurt like you or that God will take revenge on them.  Rather pray to release the negative energy onto God so that you won’t release the negative energy on someone else.  Ranting and raving is like an infectious disease that can affect an entire community.  Decide to end the cycle, pray, release, let go and if needed forgive the other person for hurting you.  This will do far more good and will prevent the disease from spreading.

Get busy.  When someone rants and raves the temptation is to replay the ranting and raving over and over in your head.  We try to see where we went wrong, what we could have said instead to make a difference or how we could have stopped the cycle.  This is a waste of valuable energy, instead, get busy doing what you need to do and put all thoughts of the incident out of your head.  At first this discipline is difficult but with practice it becomes easier.  You are what you think and if you continue to replay the negative thoughts, you will be negative in turn.  You can choose to do something different and getting busy is more productive then stewing.

Ranter and ravers are not without their responsibility in the problem but you cannot fix them, they need to choose to fix themselves.  Rather you can choose to do different behaviors, to think different thoughts, to absorb different emotions, after all you actually have more choice in the situation then the other person.  Your positive reactions over time will make a difference in your life and hopefully the other person will want the same change in their life.  Then and only then do you have the potential for a lasting solution.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

10 Signs Your Marriage Might Be Depressed

depressed marriageA depressed marriage?  What is that?  Just like you can become depressed over the loss of someone you love or the economy can become depressed over a real estate financial crisis, so your marriage can suffer from depression.  A depression in your marriage however does not mean that your marriage is over rather it is a low period in a series of highs and lows which occur in every marriage.  Here are some signs that you might be going through a depressed marriage:

  1. Difficulty making even minor decisions let alone major decisions without an argument.
  2. Intimacy such as hand holding, sitting close together, or kissing becomes more routine (if it exists at all) rather than heart-felt.
  3. Lack of desire to spend any time together; prefer to spend free time alone.
  4. One or both of you has already spoken of getting a divorce or separating.
  5. The excitement in your marriage is gone; you don’t look forward to seeing or hearing from each other.
  6. Conversation is limited to the bare essentials of scheduling, managing the house, and checking in.  No longer are there conversations about the things you are passionate about.
  7. You intentionally avoid your spouse and notice your spouse avoiding you.
  8. Fantasies of other partners, what you would do if your spouse passes away, or the peace that could come from separating begins to consume your thoughts.
  9. You or your spouse finds reasons not to spend the night in your bed, you don’t go to bed at the same time, or you put physical boundaries such as pillows between you.
  10. No sex or interest in sex.

Your Choice.  Once you realize that your marriage might be depressed, you have a choice in your response.  You can reflect and learn from the depression or you can shut down and run from your marriage.  Option one allows the possibility that your marriage can come out of this depression even stronger.  Think again about the real estate depression and how much was learned from the mistakes of over-valuing homes, over-lending from banks, and over-mortgaging a house.  Option two will most likely end up in divorce court.

Reflecting.  It is helpful if both of you are engaged and honest in this process of reflecting on the state of your marriage.  However, that is not always practical as usually one spouse has a clearer perspective than the other spouse.  Whatever the case, spend some time with each point and assign a number from 0 (not a problem at all) to 10 (deal breaker).  Ask yourself how much have you contributed to the problem and take responsibility for your actions before speaking with your spouse.  When you do speak with your spouse, be careful that your spouse’s issues do not outweigh your number of issues.  Remember to speak the truth in love to your spouse.

Learning.  Learning is a two-way street in a marriage.  You need to learn from your spouse and your spouse needs to learn from you.  This is not about getting your way or proving that you are better than your spouse.  If you want the marriage to survive through the depression then it is important to keep the long-term goal at the front of your mind.  There is no quicker way to destroy a marriage than to point out all of your spouse’s flaws, demand that they change, and then refuse to concede to any change yourself.  Learning means that you are receiving information, processing it, and doing something about it.  This is a gently process, not a forced one.

Your marriage can survive a depression.  Sometimes it helps to have another person such as a counselor or pastor come alongside you during the process to give an objective point of view.  Self-help books can be useful as well but both of you need to be willingly engaged in the process in order for the book to be effective.  Whatever the path you choose, know that your depression does not have to last for a lifetime, it can be just for a short season.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How Divorce and Death are Alike

divorcing coupleYou thought that when the papers were signed for the divorce everything would be better and you would finally feel relief and calm.  But you don’t.  Somehow the hurt emotions intensify and unexpected emotions of remorse, sadness, and guilt pile on top of bitterness, resentment, and frustration.  This has left you confused, disoriented, and even wondering if you made a mistake.

You begin to relive the marriage all over again looking desperately for answers as to why this happened, what went wrong, and how could things have been dealt with differently.  But you are afraid to confine in friends and relatives because they have supported the divorce and your questioning is unwelcome after they have taken a stance for you.

So you find yourself even more alone than before the divorce wondering if this lonely feeling will ever go away.  And it will, but not today or even tomorrow.  A divorce is more than the end of a marriage; it is the end of dreams, expectations, family, and friendships.  When you divorce, you are leaving behind all dreams and hopes for the future, all expectations for a long life together, extended family on both sides, and friendships that bound you together.

It is not the stuff that is hard to separate; rather it is these things which are far harder to separate.  In this way, experiencing a divorce is like experiencing a death and the process to recovery is very similar.

Denial.  While it may seem odd that you will experience denial after you have divorced, it is likely to occur in strange circumstances.  For instance, you are picking up medication at the pharmacy and the pharmacist asks you if you want to pick up your spouse’s medication.  Or you are at a favorite restaurant and the waitress asks if your spouse is joining you.  Or you are at church and a well-meaning person says they miss seeing your spouse.  In all of these incidents it is tempting not to tell the other person about the divorce and just to pretend that you are still together which you can do but it might provide for a more awkward moment later.  In fact, your first instinct may be to do just that but instead try saying the bare minimum, just enough to get away quickly without over explaining.

Anger.  This reaction is far more familiar as leading up to the divorce you most likely experienced this in spades.  While the name of your ex no longer provokes an immediate angry reaction, you will see some anger pop up in unexpected places.  Perhaps a co-worker displays the same lack of motivation that your ex did, your neighbor laughs like your ex, or your child looks and acts more and more like your ex every day.  You may feel unexpected anger towards your co-worker, neighbor or child that has little to do with them and far more to do with who they remind you of.  Stop, take a breather and recognize where your anger is really coming from so that you don’t project it onto an innocent target.

Depression. No matter how easy it was to divorce, going through the holidays without your ex and the routine and traditions that you developed will be difficult.  Expect to feel even more depressed between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day as this is a time of intense celebration, family activities and getting together with friends.  When you are feeling at your most depressed, get out of the house and go do something.  Do not sit at home thinking about how you were at your ex’s family’s house for dinner last year and what a good time you had.  Rather, start new traditions this year that you have always wanted to try such as going to the mountains for Christmas or feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving.

Acceptance.  At the end of a long cycle, you will finally reach acceptance where you are comfortable talking about the end of your marriage without extraneous feelings.  Similar to the death of a close family member or a friend, this process will take about a year to finally achieve.  Your children on the other hand will not be on the same schedule as they will look like they have accepted it far sooner but a couple of years later will show signs of anger and depression.  Don’t be surprised by this, but expect it and anticipate getting them help if needed.

No one gets married wanting to go through a divorce.  Divorce is hard, painful and demands time for proper healing.  By having a better understanding of your emotions and viewing divorce in the same light as a death, you will better glide through the stages instead of stumbling in the dark.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Struggling with Parenting? Begin with You

sad-black-woman-378x329Parenting is hard work.  At times it can be overwhelming, lonely, exhausting, discouraging, exciting, joyful, rewarding, encouraging, and fun within just a few short minutes.  The wide range of emotions  you feel from excitement over watching your child finally ride a bike without training wheels to paralyzing fear as they ride that bike straight into an on-coming car is enough to drive you into some unhealthy potato-chip-eating-addiction.  Yet despite the stress, you couldn’t imagine your life without your kids and you try hard to be the very best parent.

So you read lots of parenting books, talk to friends, and listen to experts on how to be a better parent.  But how much time have you invested in understanding your natural parenting style?  Yes, how you were raised has a lot to do with how you parent both good and bad, but you are also born with a personality style that is directly comparable to your parenting style.  When you understand your personality and parenting style (and perhaps more importantly, your spouse’s style), you will naturally be a better parent.

Active.  It is easy to tell if you are an active parent just by looking at your family calendar.  Is it full of too many things to do with not enough time?  Do you find that when you have some down time as a family, you want to go and do something rather than just sit at home?  As an active parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Who”.  Who else is going? Who are your friends?  Who do you want to be?  Active parents have a lot of energy, are exciting to be around, and adventurous but they usually over commit or don’t follow through with promises.

Bookkeeper.  Imagine an invisible ledger which details all of the gifts, grades, thank-you notes, kind acts, punishments, harsh words, phone calls, and hugs for each child.  Now imagine trying to keep that ledger in balance so that one child is not favored over another, so gifts are equally divided, and punishment is equally distributed.  This is the bookkeeper parent who can do such a task in their head.  As a bookkeeper parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “How”.  How are you going to do that?  How do you feel?  How did you get that done?  Bookkeeper parents are very fair, diplomatic, and loyal but can easily get their feelings hurt in the process of parenting.

Cautious.  Danger lurks behind every corner which is precisely why a cautious parent is so careful about what they say, do or act because you would never want to be irresponsible about anything in front of your child.  Setting a proper example for your child in behavior, thought, and control of emotions is important to you.  As a cautious parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Why”.  Why did you do that?  Why didn’t you finish that?  Why aren’t you doing it this way?  Cautious parents are detail oriented, analytical, and perfectionists but when pushed they can become irrationally moody and over explain.

Direct.  There is no beating around the bush with a direct parent; whatever they are thinking will be stated in a short period of time and not always at the most opportune moments.  There is no question as to who is in charge if you are a direct parent, you are and your child knows it.  As a direct parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “What”.  What are you doing?  What are you trying to accomplish? What is your point?  Direct parents are goal oriented, focused, and motivating but they can easily overpower a child and miss an opportunity for tenderness.

Knowing your style of parenting compared to your spouse’s style might just be the life-saver you need in preparation for your next parenting argument.  All of these styles have good, bad and ugly elements as one style is not better than another.  Rather, a child does well when all styles are represented and a more balanced approached to parenting is taken.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How Exhaustion in Women Decreases Work Productivity

The Exhausted Woman's HandbookSamantha believed things would be easier with her latest promotion. But they weren’t. Things were actually worse. The increase in income helped but the demands of her job meant less time for her family. Her high standards which contributed greatly to her success now impeded her both at work and home. Disappointed about her performance, Samantha’s exhaustion grew into paralysis.

Perhaps you have a similar story. In the past, multi-tasking came naturally. You even gained energy from doing so many things at once. Now it seems as if your brain can’t function, let alone do more than one thing at a time.

There are two kinds of exhaustion. One is physical from the demands of a busy overbooked schedule. The other is psychological due to unmet needs, expectations, ambitions, and hopes. It is compounded by tragedies, disappointments, rejections, and harsh realities. And it has encompassed nearly every aspect of your life including your ability to perform at work.

Here are four ways exhaustion negatively contributes to decreased work productivity:

  • Over-attentive – You become fixated on new, unrealistic problems instead of focusing on the immediate existing problems. By directing your limited energy to unlikely issues, you are escaping from reality. Since these scenarios have little change of occurring, you are able to imagine success. It is just like playing a video game, but the game is in your head. Similar to video junkies, work is abandoned to your imagination.
  • Over-burdened – You already juggle too many balls in the air at one time. While trying to catch a few more, a couple of them come crashing to the ground. The fear of more balls falling propels you to never turn your brain off. At work you are reminded of things at home, at home you are thinking about work. It is a vicious cycle of constant pondering, worrying, and even paranoia.
  • Over-committed – How many times have you said, “If I want something to be done right, I have to do it myself?” Taking on excessive responsibility or feeling obligated to take on other’s responsibility will leave you exhausted quickly. It also has a side effect of discouragement as you begin to lose faith in the very people who should be supporting you.
  • Over-competitive – Are you driven to achieve in every area of life at one time, with no allowances for failure, disappointment, or loss? Would you expect the same level of drivenness from your best friend? While such a drive can be useful in the work place, it can also be destructive. Viewing those around you as competition erodes at a teamwork environment and increases frustration.

There is hope for your exhaustion. It can be beat. Acknowledgment is the first step towards healing, the next is taking some new action. Try these suggestions:

  • Over-attentive – Imagination is a good thing in small doses. Set aside some time to imagine that doesn’t take away from work or home. An ideal time would be your drive time.
  • Over-burdened – Work issues should be handled at work and home things should be done at home. If you have to mix the two, set aside ½ hour during work to deal with home matters and vice versa.
  • Over-committed – Once you have given a project over to another person, it is their responsibility and not yours. By doing it for them, you are rescuing them and they will never learn that way.
  • Over-competitive – If you like to compete, establish friendly contests allowing others to willingly take part if they choose. Don’t force a competitive environment as many people don’t thrive this way.

Don’t let exhaustion take over. Your work productivity can be better and you can find freedom from your exhaustion.

 

For more tips, read Christine Hammond’s new book, The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook. You may purchase it at Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. Or just click on the picture on the right.

Join us for a webinar and a FREE copy of the book.  For more information, click http://growwithchristine.wix.com/exhaustedhandbook

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Lonely Side of Mothering

playground (Excerpt taken from The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook)

When my kids were little, I struggled in a restroom to change one’s diaper while another was screaming and another clung onto my pants. An older woman looked at me with envy and said, “Oh, these are the best years of your life.” I thought she was nuts. I hadn’t slept in days, was extremely exhausted, and had vomit on my shirt. By contrast, she was perfectly groomed.

 

Another similar comment came from a friend who called me while driving to work. She had just dropped off her child at daycare. I was at home scraping sticky Cheerios off the sofa and beginning the never-ending pick-up of stuff. Yet another remark came from my husband who said he wished he could stay at home. I desperately wished for adult conversation about anything other than kids. For me, some of the loneliest and exhausting years of my life came when I “got to” stay home with the kids.

 

Please don’t misunderstand. This is not ungratefulness for the opportunity to be at home. To watch my kids take their first step, play on the playground, pick on their siblings, or experience one of their countless accidents resulting in an emergency room visit— I’m extremely grateful for these times. These instances are priceless and will be joyfully shared at my child’s graduation, wedding, or with their kids. But they were also lonely.

 

Admit it. Many days would go by when the only real adult interaction was yelling at a TV commentator over some stupid political decision. Many more days would go by without an uninterrupted bathroom break let alone a hot bath or a pedicure. Nights would go by without sleep because a child was frightened, hungry or sick. Worse yet, no one seemed to understand the loneliness — not the older woman in the restroom, not my friend going to work, not even my husband.

 

Explain it. I never communicated my loneliness. Instead, I just listened to their comments without interjecting my feelings. Basically I stuffed my feelings down because I thought they were wrong. On a rare occasion some communication would happen, but it usually was mixed with frustration and anger. There are many ways to explain hard topics, but I never took the effort. I traded in my feelings for a fake image of perfection on the outside, but the inside was disastrously isolated.

 

Embrace it. Looking back, loneliness is a part of life as a whole. It does not define me as a person; I am not depressed, socially awkward, or have a dislike for people. Rather, the opposite is true in every way. But loneliness can still happen. The only conclusion is that loneliness is on the full spectrum of emotions that everyone should experience. After all, how can joy be recognized without knowing what suffering feels like? How can peace be understood without first experiencing strife? How can communion be embraced and celebrated without loneliness creating a longing for communication in us?

As the kids grew-up, things got much easier. The parents of my kids’ friends became my friends. They helped to bring sanity and normalcy to a seemingly crazy, exhausting life. Now, looking back on those years, I can honestly say that they were some of the best years of my life despite the loneliness and exhaustion.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Christine Hammond is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and author of The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook.

You can purchase The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook at Xulon Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. Or just click on the book to the right.

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