49 posts categorized "Relationships" 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.
 

Forgiveness and Process: Who are you becoming?

It's been an interesting couple of weeks at my house.  It seems almost every area of our life is in some sort of transition. The start of the year has been somewhat hard.

So last Saturday, we decided on a whim to go to a local eatery for wings.

The food was good, the service was extremely slow. This lead to a continuing conversation about conflict, fear and life.

My wife commented that she sees so many people who become the things they most said they didn't want to become in life.

In other words, the person focused on not being their mom, will often become their mom.  My kids asked if I agreed with her and I told them that I did, without reservation.

They wanted to know why I thought this was so.  I told them that I thought focusing purely on what you don't want to become is not enough.

Invariably, you will become what you focus on. Change Process Illustrated

You need something more than what you don't want to become. You need to know what you want to become, and why you want to become it.
If you have pain from someone else (and invariably, almost all of us do), you need to process it.

Ignoring it. Glossing over it. Embellishing it. Worshiping it.  Getting comfort from it.

Anything other than processing it, will lead to becoming someone who transmits the same types of pain to others.

So, let's say a person focuses on not being their Dad and they choose behaviors that are the exact opposite of their Dad, but never forgive their Dad and process through the pain he caused them, that person will transmit that pain to those they love.

You need focus and forgiveness.

Without forgiveness, there will be little process. Without process, there will be little forgiveness.

You have to engage in both to truly experience change.

Forgiveness helps us deal with the past.
Process allows us to the focus on the future.
In focusing on the future, we shape our present. This is why we must examine what we are focusing on. If you don't focus on what you want to become (your future), you will become whatever you are focusing on.

Often, that is our past. Especially, when our past has unprocessed hurts.

So what about you? What hurts from your past have you not processed? Who do you need to forgive? What are you focusing on? Who do you want to become?


Four Levels of Friendship and Conflict.

"We need to improve our communication." Sarah*

When I asked her what that meant, she told me that she and her husband Ryan needed to be able to talk in a way that didn't lead to stress between them.
I followed that question up with what made her think that their communication needed improvement.
Ryan jumped in, "Because we get frustrated and mad with each other!"

"But what if that's good?" I replied.

And we had to end the session by calling the ambulance as they both broke their jaws on the floor at the idea that a therapist could think frustration and conflict was a good thing.  (I kid).

I still believe this to be true. In fact, I think we can figure out how intimate we are with someone based on how much conflict we wade through with them. I know some people will be and are put off by the idea that friendships can be put into levels but I am uncertain how else to process what is the difference.

  1. Level 1. The "Not Really" relationship. This friendship is someone that you wouldn't honestly avoid at all cost if you could do so. When you're in the grocery store and see them in aisle three, you head to aisle nine. But if you they double back on you and your paths cross in aisle seven, you'll give the polite nod and greet mumbling something about the weather or another inane aspect of life.
  2. Level 2. The "Sort of" relationship. This friendship is someone that you don't actively avoid but you won't go out of your way to converse with them. You might stop and discuss something with them and you might even say yes to an invitation. You might know that they like the State over the other team or that they prefer kayaking to canoeing. But you won't endure much conflict with them. If you were in trouble at 4:00am, you wouldn't even think to call them. These are people we call acquaintances. 
  3. Level 3. The "Not Quite Intimate" relationship. This relationship is where most people stop, even married couples. These are often people we call friends. Many people will say things like, "We do life together,'  etc.  Many people will date people in this category and even get married. What makes this the not quite category is that people have an almost hard cap on the amount of conflict they will endure in this stage. When conflict comes that moves them past that cap, they will bail on the relationship. I see many people operate in this stage for most of their life with most of the people in it.
  4. Level 4.  The "Intimate" relationship.  This relationship is intimate. These are people that yo have been through real substantive conflict with. They've hurt you and you've hurt them because being in relationship involves hurt. Dealing with that hurt is what creates intimacy. Our brains are a swirling mass of often unfiltered emotions that we need to examine. I believe one of the best ways to examine these emotions is to do it with someone else that we trust. We all inherently know that conflict is uncomfortable. When we purposely engage in processing conflict, we are telling the other person that we care about them and the relationship we have with them more than we care about our own comfort. This is powerful. Healthy people will have a few people in this category as healthy boundaries are required at all levels. 

 

The key to this is processing our emotions and the conflict that arises from them well. And as Sarah and Ryan eventually learned we have to make peace with the idea that being stressed isn't bad. We also have to change the goal of good communication.

What about you? Who do you have in your life that you are truly intimate with?

 

*Sarah is a made up character that is an amalgamation of many clients. Indeed all characters in this post are made up and they all


VLOG #3. What lens are you using?

Recently a friend of mine had a firestorm of conversation erupt on a post she made on social media. Few of the contributors stopped to consider what lens they were using to understand the post and how that was impacting their statements.
While there were many words, there was little communication.

Watch this video to learn a tool that will help you to avoid the trap of many words and little communication.  Understanding what is going on in your own brain and emotions will help you be a better communicator.

 


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.


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


Nordstrom's Employee Handbook — short and sweet - (37signals)

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

via 37signals.com

5207823457_ce64de24cd_o

I found this by accident. I find it very interesting on a lot of levels.

 

And yes, this is my signal that I am back to blogging. I will try to put out two posts a week. I really want to finish a draft of my book so I can finally put it down one way or another so that is getting most of my writing time. 

Because of that, there may be some weeks where my only posts will happen on Mondays. I will endeavor to have one post on Mondays and one on Thursdays. 


What do we do with Ray Rice, Domestic Violence and how do we talk to our kids?

Yesterday, I was interviewed by a local news agency regarding domestic violence and hero worship. You can see the interview below.
By now, you've probably seen the video of Ray Rice knocking his then fiance out. It's a violent and disturbing video.

800px-Ray_Rice

Perhaps more disturbing to me is how we handle the reality of domestic violence in our society.

First, let's look at some numbers that honestly cause my stomach to tighten in knots.


    •    1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
    •    Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults.
    •    Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men
    •    Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
    •    Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner.
    •    Every year, more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes.
    •    Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (30% to 60%).
    •    A 2005 Michigan study found that children exposed to domestic violence at home are more likely to have health problems, including becoming sick more often, having frequent headaches or stomachaches, and being more tired and lethargic.
    •    A 2003 study found that children are more likely to intervene when they witness severe violence against a parent – which can place a child at great risk for injury or even death (All numbers from here).

Those numbers disturb me. With those numbers, it is probably safe to assume that someone you know, someone your children goes to school with, maybe multiple someones is the victim of domestic violence.


Someone is going to sleep tonight afraid of the person sleeping next to them.
I think one of our biggest problems is that for too many people, domestic violence is something that is just in the background of life. It's not actually something we engage or try to change.

I'm on record as loving Facebook. Yesterday, Facebook was disturbing to me. So many people wanted to defend what Ray Rice did and some went so far as to say that he shouldn't lose his job.
One person even said that they (the Ravens) are playing the hated Steelers this week and that "lot's of men have hit their women and still had a job."
I think another problem highlighted by this incident with Ray Rice is that we tend to excuse the worst of behaviors from our sports heroes. I am afraid we do this in too many high schools and colleges.
We want to feel like winners. Badly.
In order to feel like a winner, we want to pretend that these athletes exist purely on the field.
But they don't.
And this not so subtle message of it's OK to beat your woman if you're on my sports team tells our kids there are some poeple who have a different set of rules.
We need to explain to our kids that domestic violence is never OK. It's never Ok to hurt someone because they have made us mad.


Winning isn't the only thing.


There are many things that are way more important than winning. If your team loses because a key person isn't on it because he's been suspended for beating his wife/girlfriend/fiance, then so be it.
Winning a sports game just isn't that important.


Lastly, we need to stop villifying Janay Rice and all victims of domestic violence. I don't know what she said in that elevator. I don't know the current situation but she seems to believe it was a one time event.


She has the right to do whatever she wants to do with her life in regards to this situation, even if you or I think it's wrong. We need to treat her with respect.


We tend to go to extremes with our responses to the victims. Too often, we imply that they must have done something to deserve it (Stephen A. Smith, anyone?) or we call them gold diggers and other derogatory names because we don't understand why they are choosing to stay.
I do not believe that any person should stay with a person who is abusing them and men get abused as well, but I have to give each person the dignity afforded to every human being to make their own choices.


Domestic violence is real. It is tearing at our society and it needs to be addressed.

To watch my interview, click here.