Jon Hindson, MAMFT, LAPC
Do you find it challenging to communicate with your partner? Are you struggling to be intimate? Does even the smallest conversation or circumstance trigger both of you into an argument? The arrival of significant events such as Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays often serves as a reminder that our relationship with our partner or spouse could use an infusion of something new! Perhaps it could include something that might draw us closer to each other; something that might help us get out of our unhealthy or destructive patterns.
What we ultimately need in our most intimate relationship is a secure attachment in which we truly feel that our partner or spouse has our back. Therapists see “attachment” as a secure bond with another person, and within the context of a partner relationship it also includes knowing that your partner or spouse will turn toward you, give you attention, and provide comfort to you. The problem is that for all of us there are destructive patterns in relationships that can get in the way of having the secure attachment that we crave. Unhealthy patterns can include such things as criticism, resentment, contempt, defensiveness, conflict, and avoidance.
The question that we are seeking to answer then is: “How do I start the process of changing these unhelpful patterns so that I can have a more secure attachment and better relationship with my partner or spouse?” While the answer to this question can be complicated and varied depending on circumstances that each person may be facing, there are some simple guidelines that I believe can jump start us all in the direction of healing attachment wounds with our partner and “choosing love.”
My hope and desire is that we will all begin to see the opportunities we have to choose love, to move toward our partner, and to better understand our partner’s feelings as well as our own. As we celebrate anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays may we each Choose to love deeply the one we have been entrusted to love!
M. Diane Pearce, Ph.D, LMFT
As I celebrate the birth of Jesus, I tend to over schedule, over socialize, over spend, and I get overwhelmed. (Merry Christmas!) Like a clown juggler, I attempt to balance my schedule, socializing, finances, health, and holiday cheer (I think). Then I strive to focus on the One who made Christmas possible. Ironic, don’t you think?
In my constant flurry of activity, perhaps it is time to STOP! Perhaps I can take a deep breath of fresh air and consider some advice from the One who has made Christmas possible.
My Father tells me to "preserve sound judgment and discernment." He tells me to "never let it out of my sight." It does not take a doctor to know that there may be a problem here. He also tells me that If I follow this path of "sound judgment and discernment," I will "go forth in safety and I will not stumble." That sounds like a good deal to me (and, let me tell you, I know a good deal when I see one, because, as you may have guessed, I have practiced looking for good deals a lot!). Also, I need all the help I can get in the "not stumbling" part. I have been a stumbling kind of person my entire life! But, I digress, that is another story for another day.
Back to the sweet deal of walking the "sound judgment and discernment" path. This sounds like a sweet deal to my simple-minded ways. Oh, but it gets better! He also tells me that if I follow this path, I will "lie down without being afraid, and my sleep will be sweet." Sleep that is not out of pure exhaustion can be sweet (at least that is what I tell myself). Really? I am a skeptic! If a deal sounds too good to be true, don’t trust it! Right? But, this is my Father who is telling me this! He says that He is my confidence. But I am a pretty self-reliant, logical woman with a few degrees and several years of experience. Yet He tells me that my confidence should be in Him, not in myself?
My faithful and trustworthy Father who made me, who has sworn to protect me, equips me and teaches me how to do this complicated thing called life. He tells me to STOP! So I take a deep breath, and I am quiet and still, inside and outside. He reminds me that He loves me! He delights in me. He is patient with me when I go off on my own agenda, because He knows I will always return. He knows me well, because He made me, just as I am.
I am & always will be broken and in recovery.
I am & always will struggle with being too blunt to be socially acceptable.
I am & always will struggle with vacillating between being too honest and too quiet.
I am & always will be a skeptic of what appears perfect.
I am & always will be driven to find a way, when others say, there is no way.
I am & always will be unimpressed with social status and authority.
I am & always will struggle to understand social cues.
I am & always will be in recovery from asking too many questions in pursuit of truth.
I am & always will struggle with not fitting in with the majority.
Yes, I am messy and broken. I will forget some things. Dinner may get burnt or forgotten. My Christmas gifts may not be exactly as others want them to be. I will likely not get the best deal out there. I will disappoint those around me.
But, I know who my Father is! So, for now, I accept that I am incapable of the Christmas juggle. My confidence must come from my Father. Not from myself.
Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!
Broken and in recovery…just as I am,
M. Diane Pearce
Co-Founder of Legacy Strategy, Inc.
(For further study, see NIV Proverbs 3:21-26, Zeph. 3:17)
Nicole Ayers, M.a., LAPC, NCC
Think back on your adolescent years (between the ages of 13-24). Can you think of a time where you look back and say, “What was I thinking?” Of course you can! And I can too! (Hello, hair dying fiasco of 10th grade.) However, sometimes we have a difficult time understanding why the teens we love do what they do and say what they say. Adolescents make some (seemingly) crazy decisions and say some crazy things.
Between the ages of 12-25, the brain undergoes massive reorganization. Like a hardware or software upgrade on your computer, the adolescent brain goes through a season of “remodeling.” The good news is: the remodeled brain is faster, stronger, and smarter!
So yes, parents and teachers, this is a good thing!
During this time in brain development, changes are slow going, and more and more connections (through neural pathways) are made in the brain. The neural wires are firing quicker! This means that over time, teens experience better decision-making, better impulse-control, the ability to set long term goals, and the understanding of rules and ethics. (And we wonder why our teens are so tired! Their brains are working on overdrive!)
Key aspects of the adolescent’s developing brain are (1) sensation seeking, (2) risk taking, and (3) social reward and peer-approval seeking.
1. Sensation seeking
2. Risk taking
3. Social rewards & peer-approval seeking
The decisions your teen’s brain makes are not random! The sensation seeking, the risk taking, and the social, peer-approval seeking - They all serve the purpose of making brain connections that lead to healthy development and relationships later in life.
As a parent, or a mentor to teens, you can help the brain do its job by encouraging your teen’s healthy independence and exploration of the world around them. And, yes, in a few short years, they will look back and most likely say, “What was I thinking??”
References: Baird, 2011; Dobbs & Cahana, 2011; Felix, 2017
The other day I was sitting at a red light. I wasn't in a particular hurry. I wasn't running late. Both nice changes of pace for me. But what I noticed was that my immediate reaction once I had stopped was to reach of my phone and see what I had missed, or better yet, if anyone had missed me and reached out. It's like I'm afraid to be alone with my own thoughts sometimes, so I just start flexing my thumbs for their workout.
Later that day, I was at the gym. I was pretty proud of myself - I was running hard, sweating...you know, doing things I pay a gym for...and I was in the moment. I was not running while staring at my phone. I was not lifting dumbbells while replying to texts in between reps. I was just in the moment. It was awesome. Better yet, it was freeing.
I had this thought - "I'm here training and conditioning my muscles, but it's my actual thumbs (Are there muscles in there? There has to be, right?) that need the most help. It's my thumbs that reach for the apps (Hello, Facebook!), for the notification of new emails, and for the keyboard letters to respond to a text. It's those dang thumbs fault I'm so addicted to my phone.
But it's actually not their fault; it's mine and no one else's. I'm the culprit who manipulates my thumbs to respond to the slightest break in my schedule to see what the world has been up to since I had last checked (no more than 12 minutes ago, I'm sure). It's my fault, and mine only. So me and my thumbs have got some work to do. Actually, I've got some work to do. My thumbs...they actually need a break.
I was hiking with a friend the other day and apparently we got off the trail somehow. I call it lost, not exploring! The trail was clearly marked but we were not paying close attention to the signs, so we were not on the trail.
When I’m not listening to God’s sweet voice, I lose sight of God’s purpose and plan for my life. I tend to make choices that cause roadblocks to God's best for me.
We ended up going through unmarked territory of thorns, snakes, and unknown creatures, and I suddenly became distrusting of the friend who was leading us. Sticks were in my hair, spider webs in my face, YUCK! This friend kept showing me this little blue dot and it’s relationship to the red line and assured me we were close to the marked trail that we needed to be on. He actually told me the little blue dot said walk through 20 creek beds in 40-degree weather with my hiking boots on! What? Trust the little blue dot?? I became cold, tired, and frustrated, not to mention my toes were numb.
My fearless friend was patient with me and wanted to continue going down the path we were on. I became bossy, impatient and insisted we go another way instead of following that darn blue dot and where it said we needed to go. “No! I want to do it my way.”
Sooo, he allowed me to trudge off in a direction that was slippery and thickly wooded. After bleeding and having my jacket destroyed, my friend tried to show me the little blue dot again and its relationship to the red trail. I finally raised my voice and said, “I don’t care about the little blue dot. I want to get to safety and a marked trail. I want to get to the waterfall.” He let me go my own way again, but eventually I gave up. Ugh!!
I finally submitted to the little blue dot and my hiking buddy and we found the trail that led to a beautiful waterfall that was majestic, peaceful, and refreshing. Such a calming place to rest and see God’s workman ship. Trusting and not fighting against the little blue dot really did create less chaos and quickly got us to our final destination.
I chuckled as I thought about my life and the resistance I give God in regards to His path for my life. I don’t always trust Him. I want to do things my way. God lets me try my own way for sure, knowing those painful lessons will bring me back to His loving arms and the path that is best for me.
So now, when I think of the little blue dot, it reminds me that I don’t have to always do things on my own. I can trust God and other people. I can enjoy the journey a little bit more knowing that His love is BIGGER and he just wants me to trust him in all things and enjoy the journey.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
By: Laura Lee Baker, M.A., NCC, LPC
Legacy strategy Blog
Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.