Tag Archives: relationships

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 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.

Help! My Child Has Become a Teenager

Child angry at parentsIt seems like it happened all at once.  One moment you were praising your kid for being so good and the next thing you know he/she is a completely different child in a foreign looking body.

Not only are the clothing choices a bit different but the shoe size is rapidly increasing, the attitude is becoming disturbing, the vocabulary adds new shock value, the interests are unusual, and your once sweet child became a hormonal teenager with mood swings so high and low you need a score card to keep up.  To make matters worse, parenting is stressful as you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on what is normal teenage behavior and abnormal teenage behavior.

Beginning at age twelve, your child develops critical thinking skills which literally transforms your child’s mind from being receptive to your opinion into questioning your opinion.  The goal of this age is to help your child develop strong critical thinking skills not to impair them during the process.

You can impair them by demanding that everything be done your way without questioning and without explanation.  While this is practical at a younger age, it is not during the teenage years where peers begin to have a greater influence than before.  Think about it for a second, which would you rather have: a teen who questions what others tell them or a teen who believes everything others tell them?

Hormones.  Imagine PMS times 10 for a teenage girl or a mid-life crisis times 20 for a teenage boy, now you have a better understanding of the intensity of hormones running through their body.  No, this is not justification for poor behavior but it does explain the origin of the mood swings.  It is hard to remember that these hormones are new to your child. Afterall, it took you many years to become use to your own emotional mood swings and it will take many years for your child to adjust as well.  This is a process, not a one-time event and expecting anything less or more immediate will only intensify your frustration.

Respect.  Your once respectful child is likely to become disrespectful with you lately for unknown reasons.  With such repeatedly poor behavior it is easy to make your child’s disrespectful attitude the subject of nearly every conversation. This is unproductive.  Instead, begin with the end goal in mind of having a good relationship with your child. Pay attention to what your child is really saying rather than how they say it.  Really listen to your child by finding some area of common agreement however small, then address the disrespect.  Your child will be more likely to positively respond to your requests after you have heard theirs.

Love.  I Corinthians 13:4a says that love is first patient and then kind.  As your child’s parent, you must first be patient with them and then kind.  This means that no matter how long it takes for your child to demonstrate a loving attitude towards you, you must continue to patiently wait for them with kindness in your voice.  This is loving behavior that is fitting for a parent.  It does not mean that your child can walk all over you and be repeatedly rude. It does however mean that when your child is rude, you don’t return the rudeness but act lovingly.

Discipline.  The days of time-outs are over. If you don’t know your child really well, you will not be effective in disciplining them now.  For instance, if video games are your child’s thing, then taking away the video games as punishment is effective.  But you can’t take it away all the time or the punishment will lose its’ effectiveness.  Basically you must have a variety of interests which you can draw from when needed.  Yet you also need an absolute bottom line such as boarding school, reform school, or some alternative program always in your back pocket and ready to bring forward when needed.  If it comes to this, don’t back down, that is not loving behavior.

Teenagers are an interesting group of people and no matter how difficult you might struggle with them; they are well worth the effort.  One day you will look back fondly on these years and perhaps gain a couple of really good stories to share with their kids one day.

 

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.

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.

How to Talk to your Narcissistic Boss

Handsome narcissistic young man looking in a mirrorAfter years of speculation, you have finally come to the realization that your boss is a narcissist.  Since this is not the type of economy where you can just leave your job and expect to get another one quickly, you find yourself stuck and miserable in a job that normally you would like except for your narcissistic boss.  In the beginning everything was great.  Your boss seemed to like you and you liked him/her despite the previous dozen or so former employees who left rather abruptly.  Then one day everything changed, as if a switch just flicked without your knowledge and you went from the best employee ever to the most incompetent human alive.

But you are stuck and despite the numerous attempts to flick the switch back the other way, it’s not budging.  Every day now begins with several duck and cover attempts as you dodge the verbal bullets assaults of your boss until one day when you have no option but to confront.  Finally, the issues on your desk have built up to an unbearable level and something has to give as there is no more time. While you know you need to confront your boss, you must do it in a way that doesn’t cost your job in the process.  So how do you do it?  Try a few of these suggestions.

Use the Hamburger method.  Think for a moment about a McDonald’s hamburger, would you ever eat the meat without the bun?  No, the meat is terrible without the bun.  Well for just about anyone, but a narcissist in particular, delivering bad news is the meat of the matter and without a bun it is likely to be spit right back out at you.  So, create a bun of praise around the meat.  Since a narcissist loves himself/herself, try praising your boss first, then follow it with the meat of the matter, and end it with yet another personal or professional praise.

Use it only once.  You are going to be shocked at how well this will work and be very tempted to repeat this for the dozen or so other meats but watch out.  Your narcissist boss will likely catch on and become even angrier thinking that you are manipulating him/her.  So when you do this, do it once per conversation, and never twice in the same day.

Pick your meat carefully.  If possible, prioritize the meat that needs to be confronted and do the most burning issues first, then follow it with the ones for greater long-term impact and end with the other not so important short-term issues that may just go away on their own.  Whenever possible, overlook meat so your confrontations are not frequent but don’t be irresponsible about the meat.  Some meat must be dealt with however insignificant it may seem.

When in danger…If the confrontation begins to take a bad turn, don’t defend yourself.  Never ever give ground to a narcissist unless you are willing to give that ground permanently.  Instead repeat back part of what your boss is saying, not too much to be obnoxious, but just enough to let him/her know you heard what he/she said even if this includes something negative about you.  That action alone, without your overreaction will be enough to take the wind out of his/her sails.

No emotion.  The thing about a narcissist is that he/she has no empathy of anyone else except himself/herself, so don’t waste your time getting upset or teary eyed.  The quickest way for a narcissist to stop being angry is for you to have no emotion whatsoever.  When you show emotion, he/she believes you have lost and treats you like prey instead of treating you with compassion.  When you don’t show emotion, your narcissistic boss will try another tactic such as changing the subject to try again to get the upper hand.

Don’t give ground, stand still, and stand strong and your narcissistic boss will likely soften around you instead of attacking the next time.  Just remember that a narcissistic boss is common and even if you left your current position, you are likely to find another one lurking behind some corner.  So stop fighting and learn how to talk to a narcissistic boss instead of running from them.

 

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.  

 

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