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December 13, 2013 Newsletter

6 Psychological Tasks for a Good Marriage

The relationship with your spouse is one of the most significant relationships in your life. A happy marriage not only brings companionship, support, and happiness—it also brings greater health, longevity, and security. In contrast, an unhappy marriage can bring stress, conflict, and suffering. Studies of couples married for many years have found that happily married couples share several attributes, including successfully completing these 6 psychological tasks:

1. Create an emotional separation from the family you were raised in—in order to create a family of your own, you need to develop an identity separate from that of your parents and siblings. While it's important to maintain some autonomy as individuals in a marriage, developing a shared intimacy and identity is essential to creating a healthy marriage.

2. Maintain a healthy sexual relationship—sexuality is an important part of being human and sexual intimacy contributes to a healthy relationship. Intimacy issues can harm other aspects of your relationship. While the heady excitement and romance of being newlyweds may have ceded way to taking the kids to ballet or arguing over bills, that's no reason to let romance fall by the wayside. Plan romantic gestures regularly to keep those idealized images of love alive.

 

3. Embrace parenthood—Parenthood is a daunting role, but embrace the entrance of a child into your family while continuing to protect the bond between you and your spouse. Continue to focus on your marital relationship throughout the childrearing years, however, because you will once again become a couple once the kids leave home.

4. Confront and overcome obstacles—change and crises will inevitably come, so you and your spouse must be ready to take them on as a team. Create a solid foundation for communication before a crisis strikes so that you will have the tools to solve problems before they arrive. If you are struggling with communication, contact Advance Counseling. By keeping your marriage bond strong in the face of adversity—your marriage will be a safe haven where you and your spouse are able to discuss differences, engage in conflict, or express anger in a healthy manner.

5. Find the funny side of things—humor will help you and your spouse keep perspective and make difficult trials much more bearable.

6. Provide nurture and comfort to one another—while it's important not to entirely sacrifice your own needs for another person, each spouse depends on the other for encouragement and support. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – Thessalonians 5:11

 

Fighting Off the Winter Blues: Seasonal Adjustment Disorder

 

Some people experience a serious mood change during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This condition is called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is a type of depression. It usually lifts during spring and summer.

Not everyone with SAD has the same symptoms but the symptoms include:

- Sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- Changes in weight
- Thoughts of death or suicide

SAD can be effectively treated with professional therapy like the counseling offered at Advance Counseling. Let us help you break out of your winter rut and enjoy life again.

Here are a few tips to begin management of your symptoms at home:

- Get enough sleep.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Take prescription medications as prescribed.
- Learn to watch for early signs that your depression is getting worse. Have a plan if it does get worse.
- Try to exercise more often using activities that make you happy.
- Avoid the use of alcohol. As a natural depressant, alcohol can make depression worse and can also affect your judgment about suicide.
- Volunteer or get involved in group activities.

If you or someone you love struggles with depression, sharing those feelings can be difficult but very beneficial. Although we all want the holidays to be a joyful time, for many they are a time of stress and depression. We would love to help you rediscover the inner joy God has for you.

 

How to Become a Better Communicator

 

Good communication is vital for maintaining a healthy, happy marriage. How you communicate decides how you solve problems, resolve conflict, and maintain trust in your relationship. A lack of communication in marriage may result in misunderstandings, unnecessary conflict, and poor communication patterns. These patterns can be difficult to break.

Barriers to effective communication are things that prevent people from understanding a message the same way. Common barriers include:

- Poor listening skills—while speaking is a very important part of communication, good listening skills are critical to effective communication. They help you better comprehend the information the other person is presenting and improve rapport with others.
- Language barriers—this can be taken in the literal sense as well as the metaphorical sense of another person interpreting your words differently than how you intended them. Language barriers also include poor grammar and lack of technical knowledge.
- Emotional barriers—emotions heighten the chance of misunderstanding another person. A person who is angry or emotional may have a more difficult time communicating his or her feelings, while the recipient may similarly distort the sender's message.
- Environmental barriers—these may include physical distance, an obstruction, distractions, or volume of voice. For example, speaking over a phone eliminates visualization of body language.
- Timing barriers—timing can sometimes make all the difference. For example, if you discuss an issue with your spouse when they first wake up, they might take your message very differently than they might later in the day.
- Perceptual barriers—everyone brings their unique background and experience to the table. A sender communicates a message in a way that makes sense in his or her reality, while a receiver interprets that message according to his or her reality. Everyone's realities differ. Variables include age, race, religion, hometown, gender, temperament, and political beliefs.
- Filtering—depending on how many filters a message is passed through, the final message may be very different than what was originally intended. This is similar to the children's game of Telephone.

Listening is not just about the aural reception of sounds—hearing and effectively listening are different abilities. Follow these tips to become a better listener:

- Clear your mind— a clear mind allows you to fully focus on what the other person is saying.
- Don't interrupt—you cannot be an effective listener if you're talking.
- Use body language to indicate you are listening—maintain eye contact, nod your head, and keep an open, relaxed posture.
- Avoid nervous behaviors—jingling keys, twirling a piece of your hair, or drumming your pencil makes it hard for the speaker to concentrate.
- Acknowledge what the speaker is saying—saying things like "okay," "I see," or even "uh-huh" shows that you are listening and interested in what the speaker is saying.
- Paraphrase—when the speaker is done speaking, paraphrasing what the person said is a good way to show that you have been listening and to ensure that you correctly understood the speaker's message. This also gives a chance for the speaker to clarify your understanding.
- Ask questions—avoid interrupting the other person, but if you don't understand something, ask questions to clarify a point of misunderstanding rather than making assumptions.
- Note the speaker's body language—the nonverbal communication of the speaker can provide clues about how the other person is feeling.
- Respond appropriately—avoid value judgments about what the other person has told you. Try to avoid responding negatively or dismissively unless they have requested your opinion.

Speaking
- Ensure that you have the other person's attention. Make eye contact and call the listener by name.
- Organize your message—think before you speak and present your thoughts in a clear manner. If you need to jot notes down before, do so.
- Use "I" phrases to focus the message on your feelings and reduce the potential for an accusatory message.
- Use language that speaks to your audience. You would likely approach your thirteen-year-old differently than your boss.
- Use open-ended questions to invite a response. Ideally, your listener should not interrupt you, so these questions invite a dialogue.
- Be open—share your feelings truthfully and honestly, but respectfully. It's hard to talk about feelings, but having hard conversations deepens your relationship.
- Be specific—avoid generalizing words such as "always," "ever," or "never."
- Stick to the issue at hand rather than delving into previously resolved issues.

 

Assertive Communication

Assertive communication should not be confused with aggressive communication. Aggressiveness promotes hostility, mistrust, and disrespect while assertiveness is built on mutual respect. It is important to be willing to stand up for your own rights or the rights of others; however, this must be communicated in a healthy, non-threatening manner. This type of communication takes practice, especially if you are trying to break a lifelong habit of poor communication. At times it can seem incredibly difficult to communicate your feelings effectively and forthrightly, but there's help available. A professional counselor can guide you through the process of reworking your communication skills. Even if you're not in the middle of a crisis, being able to communicate well with your spouse, boss, friends, and others is crucial to successful relationships. Tough life events and crises can happen at any time, and having solid communication skills will help you successfully navigate these situations. Assertive communicators are more likely to be effective at work, or be considered for leadership roles within their church or community organizations. Others are more likely to understand and respect your viewpoint and take you more seriously. Some tips for assertive communication include:

- Use confident, positive body language—make eye contact, smile, and maintain an upright, relaxed posture.
- Verbalize a confident message—use "I" statements, be specific, objective, positive, calm, and consistent in your speech.
- Stay focused—don't stray off topic or allow the other person to steer you onto other topics
- Validate the other person's feelings and issues.
- Use a firm, clear, positive tone of voice. Don't be accusatory or assign blame.

Assertive communication is a tool that will enrich both your personal and professional life exponentially. Make a commitment to learning good communication habits and contact Advance Counseling today.

 

Bible Verses About Good Communication

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry – James 1:19

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

 

News Article Archive

November 27, 2013

November 15, 2013

October 29, 2013

October 14, 2013

September 28, 2013

September 20, 2013

September 2, 2013

August 19, 2013

August 7, 2013

July 23, 2013

 

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