What is the difference between successful and unsuccessful marriages?

Many people decide to commit to marriage every year, yet as we all know the divorce statistics are at an all time high. What makes some marriages last and others dissolve, sometimes very early; a couple of years or less. Many experts and others in the field would probably have many theories as to why so many marriages end in divorce. Well, I think that several considerations should be mentioned when trying to figure out the marriage dissolution maze. I purpose the following reasons as to why some marriages last and others do not.

Marriages that don’t work:

FIRST: Marriage is forever, at least it used to be. Many couples in today’s world enter marriage with the thought process that if things get “sticky” or if the couple becomes unhappy a divorce is just one legal document away. Marriage is no longer forever!

SECOND: There seems to be this unrealistic belief that marriage brings happiness. This is a touchy subject, many don’t like when I inform them that their spouse is not responsible for their overall happiness. This is a heavy burden to place on another person, to make someone else responsible for their happiness. A spouse can do little things to make you happy and two people can create awesome memories, but at the end of the day true happiness comes from GOD and self. It is each individual person’s responsibility to create a relationship with God and to find out his or her purpose in life, which will lead to happiness. To say that a husband or wife has to make someone else happy takes away individual responsibility. Ideally, only whole and happy people should marry, thereby lessening the pressure that can be put upon a spouse to create happiness.

THIRD: Many people show up in marriage with many wounds; such as past physical and sexual abuse, abandonment issues by parents, trust issues from prior relationships, and mental health issues. All of this can lead to a volatile relationship. Wounded people marry looking for someone to HEAL them.

FOURTH: Many couples are selfish and not willing to work through the hard times. Couples like instant gratification and when they do not get instant gratification they become angry, bitter, and resentful. Most couples spend time crying and talking about how and why they are unhappy instead of investing that time into their relationship.

Marriages that work:

1. Individuals allow selfish needs to die
2. Divorce is not an option simply because someone is unhappy
3. Individuals have a relationship with God
4. Individuals are self-aware and work on healing and solving their issues from the past
5. Individuals understand that they are responsible for their own happiness
6. Individuals are aware of their role in the marriage and execute it daily

Harsh Words or Damaging Words?

When is it ever acceptable to use damaging words? From time to time we all say things that we wished we had not said, but for some people this is a regular occurrence. When two people are in a relationship whether its romantic or familial, conflict will arise, but the use of damaging words should never be acceptable. Sometimes words are not damaging, but they are harsh. There is a difference between harsh and damaging words and both categories have a different consequence or reaction.

For instance, harsh words may be words or statements that are true, but the person on the receiving end doesn’t want to hear or accept the reality of what is being said (denial). Harsh words may include telling someone that they performed poorly. This may seem harsh only because the receiver does not want to hear the truth. Sometimes harshness comes from the manner in which the message is delivered. Perhaps yelling is involved and cursing or name calling. Once hurtful words are said, the focus of the conversation switches from productivity to war and agony. So, how do you know if your words are harsh or damaging? Well hopefully this will help:

Here are some common damaging words:

1. Shut UP
2. You are a piece of crap
3. Stupid
4. You are an idiot
5. Bitch
6. You are worthless

The receiver’s response may also be a clue that the words are damaging:

1. If the receiver begins to cry
2. If the receiver feels attacked
3. If the receiver wants to end the relationship
4. If the receiver complains about your word choice

8 Steps For Recovering From A Messy Break UP

Nobody likes to suffer from a broken heart, due to a bad break up. Life would be great if couples could learn to dissolve their relationships in an amicable manner. Wouldn’t it be great if two people could simply say; “this is not working, we both agree that we want out, have a nice life, and see you around.” Unfortunately this rarely happens, instead there is name calling, fighting, court battles, lies, accusations, and sometimes violence. The person you once loved, you now hate and wouldn’t shed a tear if they died the next day. The truth is that the hate and anger is usually rooted in pain; the result of betrayal. So, how can someone move on from a broken heart and a messy break up? Hopefully the following suggestions will help.

1. Perform a relationship (autopsy)= examination of a dead relationship: figure out what went wrong, what role you played in the relationship demise. Maybe you ignored red flags, maybe you had poor communication, maybe you did not assert your thoughts or feelings etc.

2. Create boundaries: change phone numbers if necessary, change locks to your home, close join accounts, change passwords to online social media or any other accounts, create distance from your ex. (exceptions are made when children are involved), stop phone calls and texts

3. Social support: create a support system of friends and family, seek group or individual counseling if necessary, church support can be helpful

4. Exercise: to release stress, yoga, walking, running, or hand weights work well

5. Occupy your mind: volunteer to help others to keep your mind off of your problems, learn a new hobby, work a second job if possible

6. Positive words: choose your words wisely, don’t dwell on the break up, don’t share the story over and over, don’t ruminate in hurt feelings, don’t focus on the negativity, don’t burden friends and family with stories about how horrible your ex is or what their latest antics are (seek counseling if necessary)

7. Spiritual connection: prayer and meditation are essential, God heals all

8. Journal: express emotions, regrets, and lessons learned

Stop Sign

The stop sign is an interesting object, often individuals can be seen yielding instead of stopping at the stop sign. The stop sign is important if one is going to successfully use it they must press the brakes of their car and come to a complete stop and then look for oncoming traffic in all directions, before driving on. Quite often individuals speed through the stop sign or simply yield, and forget about looking for oncoming traffic, one might look down at their cell phone or the dial on the radio before checking the safety conditions or traffic, or simply are just lost in deep thought.

One way to practice mindfulness is to STOP at the stop sign, to stop, take a deep breath, and look for traffic before driving off. This same technique can be used within relationships, before proceeding with a serious relationship, STOP, take a deep breath, look for signs of things that might hurt you (traffic) and then proceed once you have taken a careful look. In relationships important aspects are often overlooked such as signs of violence, lying, criminal histories, inconsistent stories, or unaccounted years in a person’s life. That’s why it is important to STOP and give yourself the opportunity to consider whether or not to proceed with a relationship, this act of Stopping may save time and heartache.

Here are some benefits of stopping:

1. Having the opportunity to gather your thoughts

2. Having time to consult others about your relationship

3. Feeling secure in your decision because you were not pressured and did not rush

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Patience In Relationships

Relationships are a lot of work, and like many other aspects in our lives, relationships require patience. Patience is key to having peace in life and in life’s circumstances. Ideally, we should have a greater level of patience with those whom we are in relationship with. Quite often those who we are in relationship with have the ability to evoke great emotional responses, because of the history, and emotions that are tied up within the relationship. With this being said, those that we love are sometimes difficult to love, which makes patience difficult as well. Can you remain in love and show kindness when your patience are being tested? Can you be patient when you are angry? Can you show patience when your heart is hurting and you feel betrayed? If not, how should one show patience in trying times? Here are some helpful ideas for maintaining patience in difficult times.

  1. Show patience by walking away from negative behaviors until you are calm.
  2. Show patience by praying for yourself and the other person.
  3. Show patience by reading bible scriptures daily regarding your specific issue.
  4. Show patience by meditating daily, this will improve your mood, give clarity, and allow for more patience.
  5. Show patience by understanding that you cannot change others only yourself.
  6. Show patience by listening to the other person, don’t interrupt.
  7. Show patience by not having the last word.
  8. Show patience by validating the other person’s feelings.
  9. Show patience by using humor, make yourself and or the other person laugh to ease the tension.
  10. Show patience by compromising and taking the higher road.

The Emotionless Man…..

How do you express your emotions? Well this many depend on whether or not you are a man or a woman. There seems to be this ongoing debate between men and women, and among women that men are emotionless, quite often women are witnessed saying things like “he just shuts down” or “he doesn’t show emotion.” Well there are many different ways to show emotion. It appears that God made men and women differently for specific purposes. One way in which men and women differ is the manner in which they express emotions.

Women seem to be under the misconception that men should express themselves in the same manner in which they do. This couldn’t be further from the truth, men have the God-given right to express their emotions in whatever manner they see fit. When thinking about emotions, it is important to remember that this varies with the individual, emotional expression may be based on past and present experiences, such as family upbringing, abuse, culture, and religion.

Perhaps if someone is not expressing their emotions in a manner that is conducive to your personal needs then maybe you are in a relationship with the wrong person, or maybe you need to be more flexible and understanding.  Also, it is important to remember that it is sometimes unreasonable to force others to change the way they express themselves, simply for personal gain.

Women, unfortunately can sometimes wear their emotions on their sleeves, this can be good and bad depending on the situation. God made women visibly emotional because  we were made to be caregivers and bearers of children (just one reason). Think about how most individuals learn to love and express affection, it starts with the mother. However, it is important to remember that men are not cold and emotionless human beings, in general. Some people are cold and do not express their emotions but both men and women can be the product of this. Having a difficult time expressing emotions is not solely a male issue there are women who have this issue as well. Often, when we do not like the way someone is expressing their emotion we tend to say that they have issues expressing their feelings, but maybe they are just expressing their feelings in a way that we do not like or understand, which doesn’t mean they are wrong.

So to say that men do not have or express emotions, is inaccurate, men and women are different as they are supposed to be. Often men can be seen expressing emotions in the following manner and situations.

  1. During sporting events, many men have expressed happiness, sadness, frustration, and anger. Many coaches and players display an array of emotions on the football field and basketball court. Many men can be seen crying when they lose an NBA championship, or the first round of the play offs. Men definitely cry when they are injured during sports, try shutting down when you have a fractured bone or a sprained anything….
  2. Men definitely show emotion when they witness the birth of their children.
  3. Men show emotion on their wedding day, when they see the woman of their dreams walking down the aisle.
  4. Men show emotion when they witness their sons passing the threshold of moving from boy to man.
  5. Men show emotion at funerals.
  6. Men show emotion during heated conversations/fights with their spouses or enemies.
  7. Men show emotion when they cannot find employment, and are frustrated when they cannot provide for their families.
  8. Men show emotion when the woman they love is in pain or bothered by something.
  9. Men show emotion when they see their dreams crash in front of their face.
  10. Men show emotion when their marriages fail and they have to get a divorce.
  11. Men show emotion when they accomplish their goals.
  12. Men show emotion when they see an old friend, that they have not seen in a long time.
  13. Men show emotion when they realize that their actions have caused pain for others.
  14. Men show emotion when they have broken hearts.
  15. Men always show emotion when they hold their babies in their arms.
  16. Men show emotion when their children are taken away.
  17. Men show emotion when they are fired from a job.
  18. Men show emotion when their trust has been violated.

Selfish Tendencies……..

Selfish tendencies in all relationships can be a major problem because selfishness promotes individualistic thinking. In order for relationships to grow selfishness must die. Selfishness can come in many different forms in all sorts of relationships: parent/child, intimate, work, and spiritual relationships just to name a few. When a person is selfish they tend to think of themselves only at the cost of others, meaning that although their actions seem to affect others directly they continue on regardless. Selfish people tend to be so focused on their needs and wants that they refuse to think about the ramifications of how their actions will affect others. So how do you know if you have selfish tendencies?……Well hopefully the following will assist:

  1. Spouses: can be selfish when they only think of themselves, making social arrangements without inviting their spouse. Many incidents of infidelity are based in selfishness in that an individual has decided to fulfill their selfish need outside of the marriage. When couples do not ask or consider the other’s opinions, for instance always picking the restaurant or the movie without consulting with their husband or wife. During sex, men and sometimes women are often selfish when they are only concerned with having an orgasm and do not work to make sure their partner has an orgasm or is completely satisfied as well. When one person wants to control and spend all of the money without consulting the other party. When couples do not say thank you for all the little things that their spouse does on a daily basis, such as cooking, cleaning, taking out the trash etc. When spouses do not recognize when their partner is overwhelmed.
  2. Parents: can be selfish when they put their love lives before their children, many single parents spend a lot of time engaging in uncommitted, destructive, abusive, and painful relationships. The children are left to witness their parents spiral out of control, chasing love from relationship to relationship. Parents who put their careers before their children by working excessively and leaving their children alone or to be cared for by strangers in daycare centers from 6am to 6pm  or longer (depending on the situation, some parents don’t have a choice). This does not leave a lot of time for bonding and care-taking by the parents. But for many mothers the thought never occurs to them to stay home and care for their young children, that they desperately wanted, and worked hard to create.
  3. Spiritual selfishness: develops when individuals only pray in times of turmoil or emergency. When God is an afterthought then selfishness has occurred. When every prayer is simply for asking for something as opposed to quality time with God where appreciation and thanksgiving is allowed to develop. When individuals only attend church on major holidays such as Easter or when there is some sort of major church celebration.
  4. Friendships: where the relationship is one-sided, people who call simply to borrow something, to share good news (brag) or to extract some sort of information from a friend. This type of friendship is not reciprocal, there is no give and take, only take.

The good thing about selfishness is that it is not a life sentence, it can be easily remedied with just a few steps. The other good thing about selfishness is that if you determine you are selfish, you are not alone, most people are selfish in some manner (including myself). The key is identifying ways in which you are selfish and working to change. First, sit and have some quiet time to journal and probe your life for selfishness, see if you fit in any of the above categories. Next, ask your love ones if there are times when they notice selfishness in you, this is not an opportunity for your to defend yourself or confront someone else. This is a time for you to listen and learn, and thank them for their honesty. Next, begin to pray and ask God to help you overcome your selfish tendencies. Something that works well in getting the ball rolling is volunteering to help someone who is in need, search your community and find a church or organization that needs your help. Lastly, give without expectation, help and give to others without expecting something in return, not even a thank you. If you are truly giving from the heart, then you are not expecting to be recognized or to have the action reciprocated.