41 posts categorized "Family" Feed

The Subtle Stages of an Affair

Unfortunately, in my line of work I see a lot of people who have affairs.  I see people on all parts of parts of the spectrum as they move toward an affair.
Many people think they can engage in activity that moves them toward an affair and not be effected. This is nearly impossible.

 

The following list is adopted from a list that my pastor shared in a talk he gave this weekend.  I've added a few of my own thoughts. They are found in blue.

The Subtle Stages of An Affair:
1. Feeling like you’re under-appreciated and overlooked
    --->A person here will tend to start to complain loudly about their spouse. image from c2.staticflickr.com
2. Sensing a dissatisfaction or an emotional vulnerability
    --->The complaining intensifies and their becomes no way for the other person to do much right.
3. Loss of verbal communication and sexual connection 
    --->A quiet peace will often descend over the couple at this point as they disengage from each other. The absence of conlict becomes the goal, rather than goal of a healthy relationship.
4. Fantasizing about relational or romantic encounters with others
    --->The person begins to lie to themselves about how much happier they'll be and why they "deserve" what they are seeking.
5. Overly friendly (flirtatious) behavior around opposite sex
    --->Say hello to dopamine and other brain "happy" drugs.
6. Seeking out attention and affirmation from the opposite sex
    --->Say hello to dopamine and other brain "happy" drugs.
7. Sharing with them disappointment with your current marriage
    --->Blatant gossip and complaining commences. This often comes with an added feeling of having found a "confidant." The "happy" drugs in the brain begin to flow like a fire hydrant on a hot summer day that has been opened for kids to play in.
8. Getting specific with them about unmet needs and nagging frustrations.
9. Feeling like they listen to and relate to you…they understand and care
    --->At this point the spouse is "competing" with someone they don't even know exists in a game they can't possibly win. The object of the affair lust doesn't have to deal with real life. The relationship feels real, but it is not.
10. Going out of your way to have more contact with them
    --->Chasing what feels good, the person racing down the affair path begins to think about what they'll wear to work, can they go left when normally they would go right so that they can see the person who triggers their happy drugs? They are fully in the infatuation stage of the destruction. They rarely stop to think about what real life would be like, and when they do, they only see fantasy life. They discount anything the other person does that they dislike, while simultaneously magnifying the thing their spouse does that they dislike.
11. Letting them know that they make you feel special and valued.
    --->Initial blatant overtures about romantic activity are beginning to occur.
12. (Waiting to see if they reciprocate emotional attraction)
    --->The fake dance continues.
13. If they do, making a bold move either physically or verbally.
    --->The fake dance culminates quickly moving toward climax.
14. Playfully talking about what you wish could happen with them
    --->Justification for moving beyond the "next" line begins to be verbalized.
15. Setting up times to get together outside normal rhythms of life
    --->"She's just helping me be a better husband." "He's just helping me to better understand my husband." Lies begin to be told inward and outwardly.
16. The romance moves from emotional to verbal to physical to sexual.
    --->People here talk about how they would have never had sex or done whatever the next step would have been while ignoring that they have already done things that they said they would never have done. The most powerful lies are the ones we tell ourselves.
17. The physical act of sex occurs and the last of a thousand lines is crossed.
 
Few people are actually chasing an affair at first, they are often chasing other things that lead to the affair. But few people, if they are honest with the themselves, will deny that they knew where it was heading when they jumped on the path.
If you saw yourself in any of these steps, I can't encourage you enough to seek counseling.
Affairs are terrible storms that leave dark and deep swaths of destruction in their wake.
Counseling can help.
 

Things I Hope My Kids Learn: #31 Whenever Possible, Do Good.

This is part of a continual series called, "Things I hope my kids learn." I currently have 150 different things written down that I hope they write. You can find the whole series of posts here.

#31. Whenever Possible Do Good. Kidslearn1

So often little opportunities are missed. I was thinking today about the fact that sometimes life gets really complicated, really fast.

No matter how hard we try, it can get complicated. One thing that I hope my children learn and apply is to do good.

This can be something simple.

Sometimes, it will be complex. In fact, sometimes the good they see that needs to be done, they may not be able to do but I hope and pray that they will not allow those things to keep them from doing the things that they can do.

Whenever possible, do good. I hope that this won't need much explanation for my children.


Things I Hope My Kids Learn: If you Don' Like Your Life

I consistently run into people who dislike their life #67

Usually with a passion.

And yet, they make zero changes.

They do the same things over and over again.

As if their life is written out for them and no matter what they attempt, they are stuck living a life they hate.

This is patently false.

We, you and I can always change our life.  The problem is that change is often hard

Change is often very painful. Even desired change.

Most people resist that pain choosing rather to wallow in the pain that they are familiar with over the potential pain that they do not know.  This resistance to pain of any kind becomes  muscle memory and it simply becomes easier to avoid it.

But this resistance to pain comes at a new price. The person becomes stuck in their life that they hate. But stuck is the wrong word because it implies some sort of outside force keeping them from achieving their desired outcome. Most of the time, the outside force is us. 

There are three simple questions everyone must ask of themselves if they want to experience change.

  1. What do I want? This is the most basic question. What do I really want? Often we want competing things. That is to say, we often want things that cancel each other out. We want to be heroic but face zero danger. We want to spend money indiscriminately and grow our savings account. This is why we need to make priorities.
  2. What am I willing to pay? We often want things without having to pay for them. We want to own a successful business without putting in the hours required to be successful. We want to lose weight without sacrificing foods that we like but that are bad for us. We want to get better sleep but don't want to pay the cost of going to bed earlier. So often, people get stuck because they decide the price of change is too steep without adequately measuring the cost of staying the same.
  3. What am I willing to risk? So often people want to achieve something without risk. This is impossible. The person who wants to expand her circle of friends will have to risk rejection. The man who wants to experience true love will be forced the risk the loss of that love. The person who wants to experience change, will have to risk the possibility of set backs and failures.

And so I say to my children, and you...indeed to myself, if we don't like the situation we are currently in, we are free to change it. Always.


VLOG Post #2. A Way to Improve Every Conversation

This video is from my YouTube page regarding ways every conversation can be improved. Conversations about conflict can be hard, and this won't make them easier, but it will give help you make it more productive. Watch it and let me know what you think.


Things I Hope My Kids Learn: You are not the sum of your mistakes. #66

This is the first in an ongoing series entitled, Things I hope my kids learn. This is number 66. The numbers have little significance but they do provide me a decent way to track each one.

One of the most common things I see in life is people enslaved by their mistakes. image from scontent.fdet1-1.fna.fbcdn.net

The young father with a criminal record, fears to ever take a chance because of a mistake when he was 18. The young mother who fears loving again because he baby daddy left her.

The middle aged person who over reached and now lives in fear of trying again.

The stories go on, wandering a long and meandering path.

Too often I see people who simply can't past their own mistakes. There's a guy at the gym where I work out who told me that he has been in a violent and bad relationship for 25 years because he cheated on his wife with the woman he was in relationship with now.

That's the definition of being enslaved.

I pray my children learn that their mistakes do not have to define them.

But what about you? What can you and I (and for that matter our children) do with the mistakes that have happened?

  1. Admit and own the mistake. One of the biggest things that I see people do that actually gets them trapped is that they refuse to admit that they made a mistake. Worse, they often try to deflect ownership for their mistake to someone else.
  2. Evaluate for what you can do differently. Simply because you made a mistake, that doesn't mean you have to repeat it.
  3. Gather resources. Sometimes this will require you to look for others to help. Sometimes, you'll need to wait and be patient while you gather your resources or the next semester or job opening comes along. People are often tempted to skimp on this step. Don't be one of them.
  4. Try again. I'm not sure step 4 needs explained.
  5. Repeat. Often, overcoming mistakes needs multiple attempts. You have to be willing to go back into the fray. Go back again and again.

Mistakes can rob us of hope. Instead of looking at them as something bad, I'd love for my kids to come to the place where they celebrate failure as a means to gain knowledge and wisdom. Of course, that means that I too would have to come to a place used to failure and mistakes.

That may be the greatest trick of all.

 


Let's End the War on Technology

The other day I was reading a pretty good article. It was about parents being better parents. Good stuff.
This is a topic that interests me. Partly, because I’m a parent and partly because I need to know about it to be good at my job.  
He talked about parents doing parenting things. It was really pretty good for about 2/3’s of the way.


Then
          it
             all
                 fell
                      apart.
And the comments underneath it!


What went wrong? He blamed technology for the parenting problems we’re seeing today.
It was too much screen time.
Blame the iPad!
Blame the gadget!
Blame the fact that we have milk in the fridge and water in faucet!
Wait? What?


Well, I mean if we’re going to blame things externally of us, why not the milk in the fridge or the water in the faucet?
Technology makes a nice new target...because it's new. I had someone tell me that there problem with it was the fact that people "don't talk to each other anymore."
I asked him to find some pictures from the earlier generations of people gathering. Turns out they were reading newspapers.
They weren't all that more engaged.


Technology isn't the reason our kids are disrespectful or disobedient today.
They are whatever they are because we have allowed them to be that way.
We have abdicated our responsibility as parents to schools, TV and devices.
And we blame technology.


Let's end the war on technology.


Let's take control of our own lives and realize that technology is just a tool.
A tool is neither good nor bad, it is simply used.
Let's not use it as a tool to jettison our own responsibility to parent.
Let's accept that our children are sentient beings with their own level of free will.
Let's stop blaming and start owning our personal responsibility.

We will never see true growth if we blame something outside of us for our problems, rather we need to examine our own motives and heart and how we use the tools that we have.


Your Marriage is Mortal, It can die. You Can Keep It Alive

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine. I told him that all marriages are mortal. He immediately became offended and said, "No way! My marriage is not mortal!"

I laughed at him and said not only was his marriage mortal but that if he didn't recognize that fact and act accordingly it would increase the chances that his marriage could become sick or die. Of course, this was met with more angst. We ended up having a great conversation. He may or may not comment on this post, I don't know. 

Whether we want to admit it or not, our marriages are mortal. Everyone's marriage is mortal. It does not matter how much you want to say that you will never get divorced or that your marriage will never die. It could and we have less control over than we'd like to admit.

I commented to my wife the other day that it seems every time I turn around I’m learning about someone new getting divorced. Some have been married for just a few years and some have been married for many years. 

There is a hard reality about marriages. For every 100 couples that gets married this weekend better than 50 of them will end up in divorce. Every one of them thinks that it will be someone else.

I think that many people think that as long as they refuse to acknowledge the D word everything will work out. I admit I used to think this way. There is at least two problems with this type of thinking.

First of all, a marriage requires two people to work on it. A person I know once said that marriage is something you possess and do. The trick is you don't possess it or do it alone. You do it with someone else. Sadly, that person can decide to walk away and there may be nothing you can do about it.

A second problem with this line of thinking is that it does not allow you to look realistically at your marriage. To say that our marriages cannot die is a lot like saying that our bodies cannot break down. It just isn't based in reality.

When we say our marriages are not mortal, we can delude ourselves into thinking everything is OK when it is not. Worse, we can become too scared to admit that we have problems in our marriage. This fear may prohibit us from seeking professional help in counseling for our marriage.

The truth is your marriage, my friend's marriage and my marriage is mortal. They can all die, which is why we must be vigilant in protecting ouimage from scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.netr marriages. We must cultivate them.

When things are going ravishingly well, we must work at it. When dry and difficult times come we must work at it.

Admitting that our bodies are mortal does not mean that we want to die prematurely. The same is true for marriages. When I was married I made a promise to stay that way until death separated us and I meant it.

Denying that my marriage is mortal doesn't make that promise any stronger. It does not make my marriage stronger, in fact I think it makes it more vulnerable.

By admitting that it is fragile, and extremely valuable I am admitting that it is something I have to work on every day. 


We are hardwired to connection from birth.

Researchers have found that "all scientific research now shows that from a time a baby is born, a baby's brain is biologically already formed to connect in relationships." 

Key take-a-ways

  • In large measure, what is causing this crisis of American childhood is a lack of connectedness. We mean two kinds of connectedness—close connections to other people, and deep connections to moral and spiritual meaning.
  • Much of this report is a presentation of scientific evidence—largely from the field of neuro-science, which concerns our basic biology and how our brains develop—showing that the human child is hardwired to connect. We are hardwired for other people and for moral meaning and openness to the transcendent. Meeting these basic needs for connection is essential to health and to human flourishing
  • For the first time, a diverse group of scientists and other experts on children's health is publicly recommending that our society pay considerably more attention to young people's moral, spiritual and religious needs."

~Tim Clifton and Joshua Straub


It's not what happens, it's how we attach meaning that matters

I was talking to a seasoned couple the other day. They were relaying a story that had happened to them in their everyday life. 

Argument-238529_1280
They were laughing about it.

I asked them if they understood how many couples would have been fighting over the very same thing that they were laughing about.

The husband looked at me very seriously and said, "Yes, I know. My brother and his wife got divorced largely over issues that my wife and I laugh about."

One of the most important things that we can consider is the fact that often what happens is less important than the meaning that we attach to that event.

This is most easily seen with couples when someone does something that they believe will be important to their partner and yet the partner does not view it that way.

The event happens but both partners view it differently.

This can also be seen by couples who have something happen and one person interprets it as bad, while the other sees it as just normal, everyday life.

Last night my wife was frustrated. Our two year old had lost her phone, while one of our older children had allowed him to play with it. Understandably, her sentences were shorter than normal.

I can get this way around payroll time. If you own a small business, you know that payroll can always be a stressful time. The question though is, does my wife apply special meaning to my general malaise?

Let's break this down.

  1. Something happens.
  2. We interpret and assign meaning to what happened.
  3. We have feelings based on what we do in step #2.

This is why most fights are unproductive. Couples spend time trying to dismiss why theother person feels the way that they do. They use energy to destroy the other person's position instead of trying to understand how they came to that position. It's not what happened but what you believe about what happened that matters most. 

Let's say that Ruby comes home from a long day of work stressed and grumpy because it was a long day. She says to Ricardo, "Did you take the trash out?" in a voice that he interprets to mean that she is mad at him. 

So he has an entire conversation in his head with her where he ends up yelling or shutting down.

Then he takes that conversation out of his head and puts it into the real world. Ruby is shocked and hurt that he would be so angry with her when she isn't angry at all. She just wanted to know if he took out the trash or if she should take out the trash. 

And now the fight is on.

The whole thing could have been avoided if he had simply clarified where she was at and where she was coming from.

If he had said, "You seem angry to me, are you angry with me?" he probably could have defused most of the situation because he would have realized that the meaning he was assigning to what was going on was vastly different than the meaning that she was assigning to what was going on.

They could have lived in the uncomfortable space of knowing that she was mad, but that it would be OK.
No emotions needed to be plundered.
I'm going to continue to explore the principles around this in the upcoming days and weeks.


Why am I so emotional today?

I have random memories from first days of school.
I suppose that’s true for many people.
One positive one is cutting grass the night before. Back then, ABC or some such station had Monday Night Baseball and I wanted to watch the Dodgers play with my mom.
She loved Tommy Lasorda, him being Italian sealed that deal.
I also remember the night before sixth grade. I was going to a new school.  I wasn’t sure what to think. It was pretty much a train wreck.  I hated that year.
Probably at least some of that angst was just normal middle school stuff.
But today my oldest daughter started sixth grade. Photo
I almost always get a little down when we start the back to school ramp up. I like having my kids home. I like the freedom they (and I have) to visit the office and stay up late swimming.
I know education is a necessity (the grammatical errors that are sure to run through this post aside), but there is a lot of school systems that I don’t truly understand.


I’m also a pretty optimistic person. I hardly ever get too down, nor do I get grumpy for an entire day too often.


But yesterday I was grumpy.


And today as I drove away from the school where I had just dropped my daughter off for her first day, I fought back tears.
I woke up at 5:15 and didn’t fall back asleep this morning.


This caused me to what my family jokingly refers to as “therapize” myself. That is to say, I started to deconstruct my feelings so I could better understand them and process them.


I think there are a couple of things going on. For whatever reason, the loss of my mom has been really poignant this week.


But of course, there is more.
I think my daughter starting sixth grade has caused me to relive some of that and worry for her.
I mean, isn’t that the heart of parenting?
We don’t want our kids to suffer as we did.
We don’t want our kids to face the same bullies we faced.
We don’t want them to feel the searing hot pain of being misunderstood or outright rejected.
My daughter is so excited for middle school. She had a year, where a bully targeted her because my daughter had success at a project that the bully did not experience.
My daughter is a lot like me. She enjoys discussions about deep and random things.
I haven’t told her about my own troubles because the time isn’t right yet. Some day I will tell her all of it.


For now, I will hold my breath and hope. I will hope that her sixth grade year is better than mine was all those years ago. If it is not, we’ll deal with that as a family.
I will hope that her infectious desire to learn and process things will blossom through this year.
I will hope that I lead her well by walking beside her and her sisters as they traverse this next chapter of life. For some reason, the younger grades don’t seem to get to me as much.


I will also grieve.


I love being a dad. Seriously, besides getting married, it is absolutely the best thing I have ever done. And my kids are growing up. They are moving through the stages and its wonderful.
Wonderful change.
Years ago someone told me that all change is loss. I believed him then and I believe him now. We tend to think that grief is inherently bad. I disagree with that sentiment. Grief simply exists. It's a reminder that we are all growing and dying. It is a reminder that life is too short and time is too fast. It is a reminder of all that we've loved and all that we've lost.


So to you, my friend, I say wherever you are right now on the kids spectrum. May you find contentment and peace. May you find the courage to process your own stuff that having (or not having) kids brings up in you. May you find the next step while enjoying the current one.