Dealing With the Ghost in Your Relationship

Things just aren’t right and you can’t get your relationship on track. You love each other, but somehow you feel like you can’t seem to win for losing. No matter how much you try the distance increases and the frustration builds. You may have been to see a counselor or even several. You may have gone week after week or maybe only one session yet the difficulties continue. You say you can’t communicate, but what if the issue really isn’t communication? Maybe that is just a symptom of something else.

Not uncommonly how we were raised, what we experienced in childhood, how we were treated growing up has an impact on how we get along in our intimate adult relationship. How we managed in our childhood sets the stage for how we manage and what we expect in adulthood.

Like an arrow set forth, our life has a trajectory and we carry our childhood experiences, expectations and coping strategies right into our grown up relationships. However, what may have worked for managing in childhood, may serve as the very problem for how we get along in adulthood.

Counseling tends to focus on the here and now; current behavior and patterns of communication. As such, it is not likely to uncover the more deep seated and long standing issues that are at the core of present day problems.

Marital therapy is designed to go deeper and further back. However as practiced by many, the process can take months to years as the therapist provides the opportunity for couples to develop rapport with the therapist to eventually and spontaneously disclose deeper hidden truths long kept secret.

A lot of couples drop out feeling that their discussions in the therapy room only mimic their circular arguments at home. In other cases, the couple feels like just when they are getting somewhere, the time is over and they lose the momentum from one meeting to the next. They feel like the experience is useless and this creates a greater sense of frustration and distrust in the very concept and process of therapy.

This is when people call me. They read about my approach and how my first session is a good three hours long. They recognize that to not lose momentum, to have an extended opportunity to get their story out in one session is of tremendous value. The other difference in my practice is that I ask questions. People aren’t just expected to chat freely while the therapist only listens. It’s not that I don’t listen, but I am listening to the responses to very important questions, questions about their lives and childhood experiences.

I routinely conduct an extensive individual and family history taking procedure, trans-generational in nature and probing for issues related to mental health, physical health, addictions, violence/abuse, quality of relationships, developmental histories, personality styles, etc. I am looking for or assessing issues that may be either contributory or intervening variables to the presenting problem.

Like the physician who certainly asks how you feel, yet goes on to examine and gather information, my approach is active and less dependent upon the hope that over time you may disclose something of relevance from your past. I ask and gather information directly just as the physician would surely take your pulse, temperature and blood pressure as opposed to letting you only talk on about your symptoms.

It is amazing how freely people will talk about their past and experiences kept secret for years when in a supportive environment. It is also amazing how couples learn so much more about each other, history to better understand present day issues. The process helps build empathy from once was frustration.

Couples are then provided strategies to mitigate the ghosts from the past to learn and manage their adult lives more reasonably.

A common refrain from my clients is that they learn more in one meeting with me, than in years of therapy with anyone else:

Jacob and Janice had been married 14 years. They had three children despite a very intermittent intimate life. They had been to numerous other therapists and Jacob had also been in individual therapy for years.

Asking a myriad of questions, it seems that Jacob’s parents weren’t very involved in his upbringing. His father was a womanizer and drinker. His mother suffered depression and spent days at a time in bed.

When asked if either Jacob or Janice had ever been touched in a way that might be deemed inappropriate, Jacob froze and then nodded his head. I quietly asked if he could speak about it and he did. Janice looked on silently with amazement.

Jacob disclosed having been molested when about 5 or 6 years old by a neighborhood boy several years older than him. Jacob sobbed as he disclosed some details. Janice, who had grown distant over the years because of Jacob’s lack of intimacy drew closer to him and took his hand. She said she was so sorry that she didn’t know. This was Jacob’s first disclosure of this incident.

I talked with Jacob about this experience in the context of his broader childhood family issues, his vulnerability and lack of support. Despite his feelings, it wasn’t his fault and even if the attention felt special for him then as a child this was to be considered normal in the context of limited parental attention. There was plenty to discuss and the time available provided the opportunity. We addressed several ghosts in their relationship and how to manage differently than they had. Jacob and Janice expressed their appreciation for the meeting. We met two other times, also extended meetings. It was sufficient to resolve their intimacy issues.

Therapy is a bold choice by couples seeking to improve their relationship. What couples may not realize is that there are many approaches to therapy, some more suited to their needs than others. We want couples to make informed decisions as to their choice of therapist. These days many companies offer therapy services as an employee benefit, and while the cost may be favorable, the approach of the assigned therapist may not be helpful. Value is not in the cost, but the outcome. While no one can guarantee the outcome, couples are still advised to ask questions about one’s approach to choose wisely.

The sooner the ghost in your relationship is laid to rest, the sooner you can get on with life together. Some approaches and therapists will help you deal sooner rather than later.

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How to Choose Your Partner and Build a Stronger Relationship

Finding the right person and building a relationship is the topic of the century. More and more people break up, divorce or find themselves lonely and disappointed by their partners.

In my own journey I have tried to understand what have I overlooked. It turned to me that key and most common to a couple’s success is the willingness to invest. Just like you take time to go through education, specialize in your job, learn a foreign language or raise a child, a couple is no different. Requires effort to build it and constant attention and interest for your beloved one. Here is what to look for in broad lines and 3 categories.

Firstly, at the beginning, you need to look for some common grounds related to life in general. Mind for similar level of education and career aspirations, choice of geographical location, desire for long-term relationship or building a family. Same applies for lifestyle expectations, religion and values or sexual compatibility.

Secondly, watch for deal-breakers: vices, infidelity, abuse, immaturity, 3rd party intervention, self and self-worth insecurities, care for appearance and cleanliness. As you dive into the relationship, recheck for point 1 above: religion and upbringing differences, long distance, significant income differences, money interests or money or fame greed, another family, interest for personal development.

Thirdly, if you feel comfortable that the above criteria does not raise major issue, then, it is worthwhile paying a closer attention to building your partnership at a stronger level. Perhaps you have already been doing so, which is great, this will therefore only raise your awareness.

1. Build each other’s confidence, treat with trust and respect
2. Support individual projects for further personal growth and sharing
3. Ensure time together for common passions and hobbies
4. Practice positivity, patience and whatever you do, do it with good intentions and love
5. Increase your level of presence and embody two-way communication (when in conflict talk about facts and your feelings without throwing arrows at the other person)

As the relationship advances and years pass, perhaps remind yourself to:

1. Make sure you stay in touch: hug, kiss, write, talk, plan for connection and intimate moments
2. Realign your priorities, interests and vision for success (avoids unmet expectations)
3. Don’t get lost in roles (parent, child or toxic relationships; you are an adult for your couple) or lose identity (do only things that other wants and not take care of self)
4. Practice healthy communication (positive feed-back, allow SARAH, conflict resolution)
5. Don’t get caught in thoughts, worries and material possessions, but take life with ease and be in the flow. That will bring security and joy in a natural way

How do you know he or she is the right ”one” for you?

If all things in the right direction, you feel it. Your intuition tells you. You effortlessly flow in the same direction, you dream together, you do not care what others think or say. Your partner is your friend, lover and confident and you grow together. In a partnership fears are waived, feelings are not guessed but shared, disapproval will be done from equality. You are comfortable together and you want to be part of each other’s activities even if they don’t seem extremely special. Doing nothing is wonderful together. You are joyful, energized and passionate. Conversations unwind, you laugh at each other without hearting feelings and you don’t feel an urge to control what the other is doing.

Depending on your stage in life and personal agenda, above may or may not apply. You may wish to decide for yourself what is the criteria that matters at every step. Make your own list of ”musts” and ”deal-breakers”. Whilst picturing it, you may come to realize lots of things about what is important to you, what really matters in your relationships and what are the things that you could never come to terms with. Generic recipes don’t work for everybody. They are meant to kick the process of self-discovery, investigation and personal development.

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Three Essentials Of Wholesome Communication

We were created to communicate. Our Creator wants us to communicate well. Poor patterns of communication are major factors in relational disharmony and destruction.

Communication between two people is certainly a pretty complex issue. For instance, what I said in a given situation might not be what I really meant. Furthermore, what I heard in a given situation might be neither what you said nor what you meant. Wholesome communication requires clarity on both sides. I have to really say what I mean, not just think I said it. You have to hear what I really said, not just what you think I said. Consider the various combinations in the list below:

– – – ME… versus… YOU
What I actually said… What you heard
What I think I said… What you think I said
What I actually meant by what I said… What you think I meant.

We should all be alert to signs of miscommunication. When it appears that someone else has misunderstood us, we should try to clear up the misunderstanding without defensiveness or aggressiveness. Just say, “It seems like you heard something different from what I was trying to say. What did you hear?” The response to this question could open the door to real understanding.

I want to share three essential ingredients to wholesome communication. If you desire wholesome communication with another, all three of these things must be present. This is not multiple choice, nor is it two out of three. Miss one of these ingredients and you are likely to experience miscommunication.

The first ingredient is this: we must say the right thing. We can’t just say something; it must be the right thing. The right thing might be the presentation of a relevant piece of truth, the validation of a truth the other has presented, a confession of wrongdoing, an apology, the expression of forgiveness, or something else specifically called for in the specific situation. An irrelevant truth may well be true, but not the thing needed at the time. Attempts at self-justification or blame-shifting are poor, albeit popular, substitutes for a confession and apology. We need to say the right thing.

The second ingredient is this: we must say the right thing the right way. For instance, many people will say, “I’m sorry”, but they say it in a way that sounds insincere. Consider the following said in a sarcastic manner, “Okay, I’m sorry. Now, are you happy? “. The sarcasm heard will nullify the power of otherwise healing words. Sometimes we need to have a little emotional distance from a circumstance in order to say what needs to be said in the right way. If you confronted someone else’s behavior in a mean manner or offered an apology laced with defensiveness, you can still go back and do it right. Say something like, “When I apologized for not picking up your clothes at the cleaners, I know I didn’t do that very well. I am sincerely sorry I forgot that. I know you counted on me and I let you down. I hope you will forgive me for forgetting and also for not talking to you about it in a good way.”

Finally, we have to speak at the right time. Proverbs 27:14 says, “If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.” Notice, what was intended as a blessing, what would at another time be a blessing, was “taken as a curse.” And this was so because of poor timing. Right timing needs to be defined not just in our own terms, but also in the other’s opinion. A great time for me might be a terrible time for you. Find a time when you and the other person are not distracted, reasonably alert, energized and willing to talk. Yes, I know that for some people the only “right time” to discuss conflict laden issues is “later“. This just means that you must work harder to find a right time. In a calm and kind way, stress that communicating about the given issue is really important, that it won’t go away. You might ask what the other person’s reservations are. Perhaps they will say, “It will just lead to you yelling at me and putting me down.” You might then, respond by promising not to yell or put him/her down. Then give the other person permission to stop the communication between you if you start yelling or speaking in a demeaning way.

You will improve communication between you and others, if you will take these three matters to heart and consider them as you prepare to communicate. Make sure you are saying that thing that needs to be said. Make sure you say it in the right way. Then, wait as long as necessary – if necessary – to have an appropriate time to say it. In places where communication involves emotionally charged content, I highly encourage you to communicate first with God – that is pray about all three of these components. Ask God to help you know what needs to be said and how it should be said. Then, ask Him to provide the time and give you eyes to see it and courage to seize it.

We were created with the capacity to communicate, but we were given a will as well. We must choose to communicate. We must choose to communicate well. And that means, sometimes we must choose a difficult option.

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Break Free and Create Your Ideal Relationship

We all have preconceived notions about relationships. Our parents model them for us when we are young, and we read about couples in books and see them on TV and in movies. Yet, while everyone grows up forming his or her own picture of the perfect relationship, very little, if any, of this picture comes from an individual’s wants and desires. Therefore, we create relationships based on what society wants. In other words, we subconsciously and unintentionally act like we think we are supposed to act, in regard to what our partner and everyone else wants, as opposed to what feels good to us. Unfortunately, this causes many people to lose their sense of self when in an intimate relationship.

Being in a same-sex relationship has not spared me of society’s relationship norms. It took me years to figure out that I wanted something different. While past relationship experiences were somewhat satisfying, they did not provide me with everything I desired. As I began to reflect on my unsatisfying relationships, I asked myself the first of two questions: “Why were my relationships only mediocre?” I realized it was because I was socialized to perceive any relationship a certain way-without considering my own wants and desires. Each relationship had to meet specific criteria based on what I had observed and learned growing up. We all grow up with spoken and unspoken rules about relationships. For example, I remember hearing that it’s improper to live with someone before getting married. (Thank God I listened to my heart instead of my head on this one! Otherwise, I would have been forty-nine before I lived with someone!) Here are a sampling of other rules that I observed growing up in the 1960s and 1970s.

• The woman does the household duties while the man goes to work.

• Men only do masculine household chores (shoveling snow, mowing the grass, and so on).

Thank goodness I grew up during a time when women were questioning-and still question-these gender stereotypes. However, there are a host of other unspoken rules that have nothing to do with gender. For example, many people believe married couples should live in the same home. Although this is a commonly held belief of what it means to be in a relationship, it may not allow people to be at their best. I have multiple friends who are married but do not share a home. This works for them! They are happier with each other having created their own picture of what a relationship can be.

Still, because of societal expectations, each of us brings thousands of beliefs into an intimate relationship. Here are some more examples. Feel free to add ones that speak to you.

• Couples have to take their vacations together.

• Couples have to like each other’s friends.

• Couples have sex all the time-forever.

• Partners are clairvoyant about each other’s thoughts and feelings.

• All couples have to have children. (As a matter of fact, the myth is that having children strengthens the bond between the couple.)

• Couples who really love each other don’t fight or disagree.

• It’s the job of each person in a relationship to make the other person happy.

• Marriage is forever.

As I considered these spoken and unspoken rules and my less-than-desirable relationships, a second question arose: “What do I want from an intimate relationship?” Investigating my personal desires and dreams in this way liberated me. It allowed me to not only think outside the box but ditch the box entirely. Through this freedom, I was allowed to create the relationship I truly wanted. I wanted a relationship that was mutual. My ideal relationship was one where both people regularly practiced and experienced love and belonging. I drew inspiration from Brené Brown (2010), author of The Gifts of Imperfection, who cites bell hooks “To begin by always thinking of love as an action rather than a feeling is one way in which anyone using the word in this manner automatically assumes accountability and responsibility” (pg. 27). It was critically important for me to be in a relationship where I could share myself from a very authentic place; in this place, I could share all my peculiarities and imperfections and still feel love and belonging in the relationship. Additionally, I always wanted my partner to feel safe enough to do the same. Lastly, for me, a phenomenal relationship has clear and honest communication and a desire to continue to grow as individuals and as a couple. When I framed what I wanted in this way, the opportunities around my relationship seemed endless, as long as we explored ideas together. Living this way has allowed Kim and me to create a relationship that we love and are grateful for every day.

Consider asking yourself the following questions.

• Are you in a relationship where you feel free to be yourself?

• If you asked yourself what your perfect relationship would be, what would it look like?

If you want some support as you start down the path to creating a better you and crafting a healthier, more intentional relationship, please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to support you on your journey!

I also wanted to inform you that I have begun to teach some of the dialogue tools used in Imago Therapy with individuals and with couples. I am not a therapist; however, I am a coach who has practiced these tools for many years and have seen the benefits. If you are interested in learning to improve how you communicate with your partner or other people in your life, please email me at lifecoach@nancykalina.com to schedule a free 30-minute consultation!

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Relationships: Do Some People’s Childhoods Set Them Up To Keep People At A Distance?

€‹There are some people who are able to connect with others, and then there are others who are unable to do so. When one can do this, there is a strong chance that they are going to be used to having people in their life that they are close to.

One on side this could mean that they will have a number of close friends, and on the other side it could also mean that they are in an intimate relationship. Yet even if they are not with someone at this point in their life, it doesn’t mean that their life is always this way.

A Partner

If they are with someone, they are likely to find that they can spend time with them without feeling as though they are losing themselves. As a result of this, it will allow them to share their own life and for the other person to do the same.

One will be able to fulfil their needs, and this is naturally going to have a positive effect on their wellbeing. And as they are able to maintain their sense of self around their partner, it will also be possible for them to enjoy the time when they are not in their presence.

Boundaries

One way of looking at this would be to say that one has good boundaries, and this is why they can let other people into their life. Through having them, one can not only let people in; they can also let them in without feeling overwhelmed.

But if an outsider was asked if they could see one’s boundaries, they might not be able to see how they are any different to someone that doesn’t have them. What this comes down to is that they would need to pay attention to their behaviour in order to realise that one has them.

One Experience

Therefore, if someone was asked to pay attention to their behaviour, they might soon begin to see that one has good boundaries. They would see that having them makes it a lot easier for one to experience intimacy with their close friends and to have an intimate relationship with someone.

During this time, they could see that one also has a close connection with their family, or if this is not the case, they won’t allow them to take advantage of them. Ultimately, they will see that one can embrace life through having them.

Another Experience

At the same time, someone could pay attention to their behaviour and they could end up feeling uncomfortable. They could believe that one gets too close to others, or that they don’t get close enough.

Having said that, they could wonder what it would be like to experience life in the same way, and this will then be a time when one will think about why they are experiencing life differently. Based on these two experiences, it could be said that one is either aware of their need to connect to others or they are not aware.

Alternatively

Still, this is doesn’t mean that one can’t be aware at certain times and unaware at others, as it is not this black and white. For example, one could want to get close to another and when this happens, they could soon experience the desire to get away.

After this has taken place, they could disconnect from their need to connect to others, and it will then be normal for them to spend time by themselves. Or they could avoid others and after a while, they might begin to wonder what it would be like to connect to them.

A Challenge

When one is unable to connect to others without losing themselves, it is going to be difficult for them to let people into their life. However, if one is aware of why they can’t let people in, it will give them the chance to do something about it.

Yet if they are out of touch with what is taking place within them, they can end up believing that they have no control over their life. It is then not that they are stopping people from coming in; it is that other people don’t want to spend time with them.

Short-Term Pain

When it comes to the former, one could reach out for external support, and this will then allow them to look into why they keep people at a distance. As to how long this process takes can depend on a number of different factors.

Nevertheless, no matter how long it takes, it will stop them from having to experience life from the sidelines. Their need to connect to others will finally be fulfilled, and this will have a big effect on their life.

Long-Term Pain

When it comes to the latter, one will carry on doing the same thing, and they will continue to suffer. They might believe that other people have something they don’t have, or that they are being punished.

At a deeper level, one could believe that they are not good enough; they could then spend a lot of their time trying to achieve things. When it comes to how they feel, they may be used to feeling angry, hopeless and powerless.

Conflict

As it is part of being human to want to connect to others, it can be hard for one to understand why they would have trouble doing so. What this can show is that their boundaries were not respected during the beginning of their life.

During this time, one may have experienced some kind of abuse, and this would have caused them to believe that other people are a threat to their survival. As a result of this, it will be vital for them to make sure that other people don’t get too close.

Out of Touch

The years will then have passed and one will have lost touch with what took place, but these experiences will still be defining their life. What is taking place in their life can then be seen as a result of what it taking place externally as opposed to what is taking place within them.

Thus, until one is able to bring their attention to what is taking place at a deeper level, they will continue to suffer unnecessarily. They will experience pain if they face themselves, but what this will do is give them the opportunity to transform their life.

Awareness

If one can relate to this and they want to move forward, they may need to work with some kind of therapist. This can be a time where they will be healing trauma and working through an emotional build-up within them.

Prolific writer, author, and coach, Oliver JR Cooper, hails from England. His insightful commentary and analysis covers all aspects of human transformation, including love, partnership, self-love, and inner awareness. With over one thousand in-depth articles highlighting human psychology and behaviour, Oliver offers hope along with his sound advice. His current projects include ‘A Dialogue With The Heart’ and ‘Communication Made Easy’.

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It’s All a Symptom of Your Mindset

Whatever you are going through right now is a symptom of your mindset, expectations and beliefs. Your present life experiences are only a reflection of who you say you are and what the world is in relationship to you. Dis-ease, unhappiness, poverty are all symptoms of beliefs that are not in line with health, joy and abundant living.

We often state that thoughts become things but act and live as though that isn’t true. If thoughts do indeed become things you’d assume only the highest of thoughts would be held by each of us, but that is not the reality for most. Humanity struggles through pain, sickness and poverty while wishing for better and never realizing it due to held beliefs that thwart us at every turn.

According to researchers we are only conscious, or paying attention to ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, about 5% of the time. Our sub-conscious, which runs the show, is active 95% of the time. Of those sub-conscious programs running all day long 70% of them are counter to what we desire and actually sabotage our dreams!

We say we want health yet continue to think, feel and talk about how sick we are. We identify with the dis-ease with statements like, I Have ____. We talk about how much money and financial freedom we’d love to experience, all the while sharing our poor me stories with all who will listen. We want better relationships but discuss and blame our partners for all our woes.

NEVER will those thoughts, feelings and actions bring about the desired result. They will only bring about more of themselves. In order to experience something new you must be willing to stop identifying with the old state of mind, the old experience, and hold thoughts of a new desired state.

You can do it, you must practice it day in and day out. Notice when your thoughts and feelings are straying from your desired goal. Stop yourself in mid creation act of imagining how bad things are and how they will get worse. Replace them with a real to life mental imagined scene of health, wealth, relationship and stay in that scene as often as you can.

This will rewire the brain making it easier to stay in this mind set and assuring that you actually manifest the desired result. Don’t give up and go back to your default, stay the course, believe in the power within you right now to create a new experience.

There is nothing that can stop you from living your dreams outside of yourself. Give yourself permission to be health, happy, wealthy and wise.

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Dangers Of Loose-Talks

Life is impossible without communication through speech, writing or gestures. The progress and development of the society are the results of such communication only. And most of the communication is made through constructive talks only. However, some people engage in the vague, baseless, meaningless, irresponsible, and unproductive conversations affecting the morale of other people. ‘Loose-talk’ is the familiar term used to denote such talks.

Generally, such foolish talks are the offshoot of any of these; inability, greed, selfishness, and superiority complex. It is characterized by the scant respect for others’ dignity and the implications. Such behavior becomes louder when a person is instigated by the surroundings and the hallucinatory effects of liquor or sedatives. Loose-talk falls an easy prey to the gossip mongers. Here, some of the real life situations are given to understand how this misdemeanour spoils the relationships and happiness of our life.

Home. Loose-talk appears when there is frustration or dissatisfaction among the family members. It results in casually blaming another without knowing the actual reasons or background is quite common. Some people even lack the basic sense and indulge in the undesirable commentary during the social gatherings such as marriages, festivals, etc. Passing adverse remarks on the sidelines, not only shocks the fellow guests, but spoils the purpose of a function or event itself. There are families that got shattered due to such nonsensical talks.

Office. Loose talk breeds enmity, conflict, disrepute, hatred, and disunity among the individuals working in an organization. The hotel owner enquired about the native place of the guest. Instead of limiting his reply to the point, the latter revealed all details such purpose and duration of his visit, and the place where he stayed. In another incident, the branch manager and the visiting auditors entered a hotel for lunch. Immediately, the senior auditor whispered to the manager not to spend more than 100 bucks for the junior auditor’s food bill. However, the manager, being a gentleman,didn’t like the rude behavior and brushed away the loose-talk of the senior inspector. This incident actually left a bad impression about the silly attitude.

Politics. Each political party intentionally cultivates some individuals to give loose-talk through irrational and defamatory speech. Because such talks tend to attract the audience easily. Some politicians attain notoriety for their absurdity unmindful of the libel suit filed against them. Not only that, loose-talks tend to foment the sentiments of a community or society creating enmity and conflicts.

Better avoid loose talk by limiting the length of any verbal interactions. Speak pleasantly and briefly to make others seek and hear more from others. In fact, silence proves to be more effective than a provocative answer.

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Stay Connected in a Long Distance Relationship

Long distance relationships can be filled with challenges that couples around the block from each other never face. On the other hand, the creative ways that you find to stay connected while you are living apart will increase your creativity when you are living together.

It’s incredibly easy to take another person for granted. You take for granted that they will always be there or will always love you… just because they always have. But when you live apart for a long period of time, you can draw on those memories to bring you closer together when you finally do live together. This is a bonus that other couples only experience if they purposefully take the time to be creative about connecting.

So, while it is a challenge to stay connected, learning these skills now makes your relationship better later.

While you’re apart take the time and make the effort to communicate at least once a day, more often if you can. You can maintain an emotional connection with communication that is brief and frequent. They don’t have to be long, in-depth heart-to-heart conversations but can be short text messages about your day, asking advice or just telling your partner that you are thinking about them.

Let’s not be stalkish or smothering about it though. Calling or texting every hour, waking them up before the alarm clock or ordering pizza to be sent to their place for dinner at night is a bit much. Instead, aim for substantial and detailed communications about your thoughts, asking questions, asking advice or telling about what happened to you that day.

But, let’s face it. After a bit, text messages and phone calls can get tedious. So break the mold and make a video for your partner. Use your phone to tape yourself driving to work, while the phone is in the passenger seat aimed at you. Chat with the phone like your partner is sitting in the seat next to you.

Write a love letter. The art of snail mail is failing in our society today. And yet, there is something so much more personal and loving about a piece of paper held in your hand. Write a thank you note to your partner for listening to you while you ranted about your boss. Or write an invitation to your next rendezvous.

Try to visit each other as often as possible. Long distance can mean a 30 minute trip or a 10 hour trip. Online dating has made meeting people from across the country easier than ever. Before this you had to actually get in the car and drive somewhere to see the Rocky Mountains and meet a cowboy! Schedule as much time together as you can and spend it with other people. We live in community and when you spend it together with other people, you actually get to know each other better.

Alternate who does the traveling. It might be easier for one of you to travel than the other, but it’s important that you both put in the effort to see each other. Otherwise the one doing all the traveling may grow to resent the one not traveling. If you can both get away, try meeting somewhere in the middle occasionally. You won’t be able to spend time with friends, but it’s a nice way to disconnect from everyday life and connect with your partner. Just don’t let it be the only way you meet, or your understanding of life together will be seen through rose colored glasses.

Celebrate the ability to talking about the ‘boring’ everyday parts of your everyday. Mundane parts of your day are just normal for everyone. Celebrate your ability to share that with your partner and make them an interrelated part of every day life. During these times be sure to support your partner in their decisions or when they are stressed or hurt. Make sure you are available to them when things go haywire in their life away from you. Not only do they feel loved and connected when they know you are available to them, but it deepens your relationship, and isn’t that what you’re after?

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Why Is Dating Important?

Dating is a stage of romantic and/or sexual relationships in humans whereby two or more people meet socially, possibly as friends or with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in a more committed intimate relationship or marriage according to Wikipedia. Now, if we talk about dating, what comes to your mind? Well, there are different views when it comes to the issue of dating especially believers. Some say it is not good for Christians; whilst others say it is good just like it is for any other person regardless of religious beliefs. Both arguments have valid points. However, the challenge is with the conclusion an argument draws. We shall look at the two arguments and then draw a conclusion. According to Wikipedia, dating is a stage of romantic and/or sexual relationships in humans whereby two or more people meet socially, possibly as friends or with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in a more committed intimate relationship or marriage.

The argument against dating

The conclusion against dating is as a result of the negative tendencies according to the proponents of this argument. Here are some of the tendencies:

1) Dating does not necessarily lead to commitment but to intimacy. Becoming intimate without commitment to each other is not desired for various reasons.

2) Dating tends to skip a very important stage of a relationship, which is friendship. Friendship is very important and it should precede a committed love relationship.

3) The dating couple substitutes the love relationship for a physical relationship. It has been noted some people quickly enter into a sexual relationship before understanding what true love is.

4) Dating isolates a couple from other important relationships most of the time.

5) In most cases, dating distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future.

6) God’s gift of singleness gets overlooked. Dating tends to cause discontentment with singleness and yet it is also a wonderful stage of life.

The argument for dating

May it be indicated that as much as the problems indicated in the argument against dating are valid and genuine, they are not necessarily caused by dating in itself but by the people involved in it. That means if one avoids dating, it does not mean the stated problems will be cured. The cure for such problems is the same as that of other life issues. What is the cure of life issues? The Bible is. The Bible is needed to ensure spiritual growth and maturity as much as it is needed in handling relationship issues. The problem lies with the issue of values and characters of the people involved. Avoiding dating cannot remove such problems if they exist in the lives of these people who are dating. There has to be set boundaries during the dating period.

What are the benefits of dating?

1) People get the opportunity to learn about themselves, others, and relationships before commitment. This provides a safe context. One gets time to discover the opposite sex and skills on issues of relationship. This must be done around people who care about you. This may include your parents, friends, youth pastor, coach, and others.

2) Provides a context for working through issues. That which people value now may change overtime. What you value now may not be good for you in the future. So dating allows you to discover your long term values. You might not marry the person you first loved. Why? Some changes take place as you discover yourself.

3) Relationship skills are built

Some necessary skills are not learned in families. A lot of work and skills are required in intimate relationships. Communications, trust, listening, sacrifice and honesty issues arise during the dating period. You become aware of your immaturity. You get to learn about relationship and how one function in a relationship.

4) It heals and repairs

Some people pass through hurts when they are young. They may have missed an opportunity to be loved. You find that they never experienced love. During dating they start feeling loved and accepted. That way they receive healing from someone that accepts and nurture them. The interesting thing is that many people do not marry their first love. This first relationship tends to be an environment for growth and healing to some. These singles get prepared for their final love relationship.

5) Dating is relational and has value in itself.

Some people use others selfishly in dating. They use it for self-gratification. However, some enjoy knowing the other person. So they give and receive in a godly way, interestingly not in a way that leads to marriage. Unmarried people do not share parts of themselves as they are expected to restrain from sexual intimacy. That is true love. Love that rushes to sex before knowing each other and getting married later is not true love.

6) You get to know your likes and dislikes in the opposite sex

There is so much that one learns about relationships during dating. One might desire to get something opposite what he experienced from relationship in a family situation. But he may discover that for a love relationship there is more than what he is making up for. You may discover that the attributes you thought you needed are not necessarily what is good for you.

7) You learn self-control and delay of some other gratifications

Some people think that a love relationship is just about sex. Sex needs to be forgone in dating. First learn to relate and to care for each other without sex. Once you mature in that first, there will be fewer problems once you get married. After getting married you can then climax your love with sex. Let there be boundaries in your dating and that will protect both of you. There is time for everything according to Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

There is a good reason for dating. Dating in itself is not evil or bad. Immature people overstep boundaries and then bad consequences follow. Handled with care, dating can lead to a fulfilling love life that will last. First learn each other and become friends and discover if indeed you are compatible for marriage. If you feel that you are not good together, terminate the relationship. Set boundaries help you both not to be clouded and then think you are in a true love relationship. Once you have developed the relationship and are both satisfied that you were meant for each other, you can commit to each other and then get married. After that you can start enjoying sex.

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Intimacy: Can Someone Let Go Of Their Fear Of Intimacy By Changing Their Behaviour?

While there are some people who are able to experience intimacy, there are others who are unable to do so. As a result of this, it could be said that that their relationships are going to be extremely different.

When it comes to the former, someone will be used to being with people who they can share every part of themselves with. This could be what is normal and how their life has been for as long as they can remember.

The Other Side

However, when it comes to the latter, someone will be used to holding parts of themselves back when they are around others. And just like the person above, this could also be what is normal and how their life has always been.

It would be easy to assume that they are always single, but this is not necessarily going to be the case. Instead, they could have relationships with others where they only share certain parts of themselves.

At A Distance

In this case, one is likely to share their mind and their body, but that will be as far as it will go. Their heart and what is taking place at an emotional will then be put to one side, and they are not going to allow anyone to get too close to them.

Even so, they could believe that this is how a relationship should be, and the people around them could also have a similar outlook. This is partly because the people one surrounds themselves with are likely to experience life in the same way.

Invisible

There is then going to be no reason for these people to say that one fears intimacy and this can cause one to carry on behaving in the same way. Whereas if they did experience life differently, they might be able to see what is taking place and give one the support that they need to change their life.

Having said that, some of the people may act as though they don’t fear intimacy, and one can then end up being criticised by them. One can then end up feeling ashamed and some of the people around them can end up believing that they are superior.

Unaware

What this is likely to show is that they are out of touch with their own fear of intimacy, and this is why they experience a strong reaction when they come into contact with someone who has the same fear. The part of themselves that they hare disowned is then what they judge in others.

For example, they could have relationships with others but they might keep them at a distance, or they could see people behind their back. On the surface it can then look as though they are comfortable with intimacy and yet this is going to be nothing more than an illusion.

Casual Encounters

However, if one doesn’t have relationships where they only share certain parts of themselves, it could mean that they only share their body with them. When this takes place, one could be used to spending only a night with someone.

Or if this doesn’t happen, they might have someone like this in their life that they see on a regular basis. In fact, they might have a number of people like this in their life, and this could be something that has taken place for a number of years.

An Important Need

Yet even though experiencing life in this way is going to be what feels comfortable, it is not going to be possible for them to remove their need to get closer to others. Therefore, keeping people at a distance will stop them from experiencing pain on one hand, and it will cause them to experience pain on the other.

There is a strong chance that one will only change when they can no longer bear the pain of keeping people at a distance. They can then be willing to put up with the pain that they will experience by getting close to them.

Reaching Out

The next step might then be for them to look for information on how they can let go of their fear of intimacy. This could be a time where one is told that they simply need to change their behaviour and to push through the pain that arises.

Through doing this, they will then be able to finally experience deeper connections with others. There is the chance that this approach may work and one will then able to gradually move forward in life.

Another Outcome

Alternatively, one could find that this just causes them to be overwhelmed, and they could end up coming into contact with people who are not very open. This can then mean that one will end up feeling traumatised and it could set them up to believe that they can’t change their life.

It can then be important for one to deal with the trauma that is within them as opposed to simply changing their behaviour. Also, the pain in one’s body may stop them from being able to open up, and this can then mean that it won’t matter how they behave as they won’t be able to receive.

A Deeper Look

One way of looking at thus would be to say that the approach one needs to take can all depend on why they fear intimacy. If, for example, it is due to what has happened in their adult years or the result of what place after their formative years, it might be enough for them to focus on their mind and to change their behaviour.

Yet if it relates to what happened during their formative years, they may need to focus on their body. This is because they may have experienced developmental trauma, and it will then be pointless for them focus purely on their mind and to change their behaviour.

Awareness

They will be carrying a lot of trauma in their body, and until this is dealt with, it is going to be a challenge for them to open up. Keeping people at a distance will then be a matter of survival and not something they can just let go of.

If one can relate to this and they want to move forward, they may need to reach out for the support of a therapist. During this time, they will probably need to engage in some kind of bodywork.

Prolific writer, author, and coach, Oliver JR Cooper, hails from England. His insightful commentary and analysis covers all aspects of human transformation, including love, partnership, self-love, and inner awareness. With over one thousand in-depth articles highlighting human psychology and behaviour, Oliver offers hope along with his sound advice. His current projects include ‘A Dialogue With The Heart’ and ‘Communication Made Easy’.

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