Tag Archives: Marriage Struggles

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.

 

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.

Either Your Spouse Is Paranoid or Everyone Is Out To Get Them

paranoid-personality-disorderDo you feel like you are losing your mind?  Are you exhausted from everyday living as you desperately try to figure out every possible negative outcome to keep your spouse from coming unglued?  Are you beginning to believe that you are the problem and everyone else has it all together?

If you are married to someone who is chronically paranoid, your life is in a perpetual state of stress as you jump through whatever new hoop that is presented to keep your spouse calm.  This, of course, is at great expense to your own mental health as you spend less and less time thinking about what you want and more and more time thinking about what your spouse wants.  You find that you can’t do anything without running it through the “what will my spouse think” filter.

But this is precisely where your spouse wants you to be, completely and totally dependent on their opinion, unable to make the simplest of decisions.  (As a side note, this is not about submission.  Submission requires you to know and voice your opinion first before agreeing to go a different direction if necessary.)  Rather, this is about control.

While it may seem as though your spouse is trying to control every aspect of your life because they are power freaks that is not the case here.  Instead, your spouse is controlling because they are fearful of the dangerous outcomes that obsessively swirl around in their head every second.

Here are some common signs that your spouse maybe paranoid:

  • Constantly thinking that others are trying to harm them, you or your family
  • Fearful of being deceived
  • Believes that others are being disloyal to them
  • Struggles with trusting family, friends, and co-workers
  • Cuts off family, friends, and co-workers if trust is betrayed only once
  • Reluctant to confide in anyone
  • Suspects others will use information against them
  • Sees hidden meanings where others don’t
  • Holds grudges for long periods of time, way past the time of the offense
  • Unforgiving of insults or slights
  • Perceives attacks on character or reputation that is not apparent to others
  • Quick to react angrily or counterattack
  • Suspects without justification that you are being unfaithful
  • Hides money from you and believes others are out to get their money
  • Insists that you pull away from close friendships or family members
  • Reluctant to discuss their profession in any detail
  • Uses security cameras in inappropriate places such as facing inside the house instead of outside
  • Tracks all phone and internet communication repeatedly questioning meaningless conversations

If you find yourself in a marriage to a paranoid person take heart, you are not alone.  Usually it takes a considerable amount of time for your spouse to reveal their full paranoia as most of the actions mentioned about happen slowly over a long time frame.  Of course, your spouse can give you numerous reasons justifying their behavior, perhaps you have even done something to contribute to their paranoia.  However, understanding where you are is just the first small step in the process.  The next step is to decide if this is something you can live with or if it is a deal breaker.  Only you can make that decision.

Remember, this is not a decision about trying to change your spouse; you cannot change them.  Even with therapy they will have to decide to change on their own and that could take years.  But you can change yourself and how you view your spouse.  This kind of paranoia is so deeply rooted in insecurity and fear; it is hard not to have compassion for person who lives with this intense anxiety 24/7.  Get some help, find a support system, and read over this list until you can spot the unhealthy behavior and not let it cause you additional unnecessary anxiety.

 

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.

Marriage Struggles

Just a few ideas to improve your marriage.

How to be Disrespectful to your Husband

How to be Unloving to your Wife

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 Do I Know If I Am Depressed?

crying-tears-of-joy-208913You struggle to keep on task and stay focused but your mind keeps wandering making the simplest of jobs take unusually long periods of time.  Is it ADD or depression?

You can’t seem to get motivated to do anything even things that you enjoy or used to enjoy.  Is it laziness or depression?

You have trouble getting to sleep and when you do you struggle to stay asleep waking up several times a night thinking about the same thing over and over.  Is it anger or depression?

You are tired all the time to the point of exhaustion where exercise is not even an option because it drains you of the last bit of energy you have.  Is it sickness or depression?

You wonder if life is even worth living or if you are really contributing something of value to your family or your work.  Is it a mid-life crisis or depression?

You are sad more than usual crying at commercials, movies, and other people’s problems but struggling to be emotional about your own issues.  Is it avoidance or depression?

Your weight has increased and the food that used to bring you pleasure is tasteless so you find yourself eating more to get the same effect.  Is it an addiction or depression?

You don’t feel like going out with friends and prefer instead to stay at home alone because no one seems to understand you.  Is it loneliness or depression?

You feel guilty for things you have done in the past and believe that you are worthless.  Is it remorse or depression?

Don’t self-diagnosis.  The problem with diagnosing your own condition is that depression can look like any one of the above issues: ADD, laziness, anger, sickness, mid-life crisis, avoidance, addiction, loneliness or remorse.  This is why it helps to have someone from the outside looking in on your life to see if you really are depressed or if something else is the problem.

Depression is not a momentary thing.  If you lose a document on your computer, you will be sad and even feel slightly depressed because it took you forever to write it but the feeling is not long lasting.  Rather, depression is something that dominates your life for a long period of time such as over several months and can be seen in more than one area of your life.  So if work is driving you crazy and every time you go into the office you feel sad and hopeless but when you go home and kiss your kids you are able to enjoy your time with them, it is not depression.

Do look at your circumstances.  Depression can be caused by many environmental factors such as the loss of a loved one, a decrease in daylight, bad news about a physical condition, your child’s behavioral problems, your spouse’s lack of attention, an out-of-control addiction, change in financial status, loss of employment, separation/divorce, or hormonal factors such as PMS, pregnancy, postpartum, or menopause.  It is normal to feel depressed during these times and since every circumstance is different, one person may feel depressed for a day while another may feel depressed for a year.

Depression comes in many forms.  There is not one type of depression rather there are many different forms of depression.  There is mild, moderate, severe, one-time, chronic, bi-polar, manic, seasonal, traumatic, postpartum, dysthymic, catatonic, melancholic, atypical, medical, cyclothymic, rapid-cycling, substance-induced, suicidal, and psychotic.  Knowing the type of depression you have often determines the treatment for the depression.

Don’t wait.  The bottom line is if you think you are struggling with depression, get professional help from a doctor, pastor or counselor.  There are very few types of depression that get better just with the passage of time; many of the other forms of depression actually worsen if left undiagnosed and untreated.

You can get better.  There is help.  There is hope.

 

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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