Four Tips to Listening to Your Spouse

Have you ever searched on the internet for a good article about communication? There are over five hundred million results when you type in the word communication into Google. People want to know how to communicate better. There is no shortage of information on communication out there. So, why add to the deluge of information? Because good communication is important to couples. I want to make it simple. How many resources give you 4 quick tips to communication? I believe we all need simple ways to remember how to listen to our spouse or partner so that communication is more clear.

Listening is the most important aspect of communication. I believe that if you listen well and with intention, all communication can be positive and clear. So, here are 4 tips to listening that will help you improve your communication today.

  1. Listen: What I mean by this is simply to hear the exact words coming out of the other person’s mouth. Start off the conversation by talking to your self and saying a trigger word such as, “listen,” “be open,” “hear,” or whatever word places you into the mode of truly listening. You need to be in a “gathering information mode.” Be a detective and gather all the information first, before you make any assumptions or react.
  2. Repeat or Summarize the “speaker’s” words: After the person speaking has said what they need to say, simply repeat back what you understood that they said and felt. Then, ask if this is what they are saying.
  3. Ask clarifying questions: Clarifying questions are those questions that attempt to help fill in blanks, but do not manipulate the content of what the speaker is saying. If I am ordering at a restaurant, the waiter may clarify if I want a large fry or a medium fry. An example of a lead in into a clarifying question might be, “Is it this? or Is it that?”
  4. Finally, don’t respond before you ask permission to respond. You can ask, “Did I understand what you said as you need me to?” If so, then you can ask, “Is it okay if I respond to that?” However, you must be okay with the speaker’s answer. If they say, “No, I would rather you not respond,” then you must accept their answer.

Obviously there is more to listening than these tips, but keeping it simple can help you improve your listening by a lot. The goal of listening is truly to understand the speaker the way they need you to understand them. By using these tips, it will help you to put your emotions outside of the situation and be open to hearing your partner. Gary Smalley has a podcast where he talks more about positive ways to communicate than can help improve your marriage. No matter what information you choose to use to communicate better, the most important key is to practice. Consistent and persistent practice will help build your communication skills so that they become second nature.

5 Ways Lying Destroys Marriages

When a two individuals enter a relationship, they tend to trust each other, until one person does something that hurts or deceives the other person. Deception might just be the sin that is committed more often than any other sin.  Deception can permeate a person’s life in so many ways and even lead to chronic paranoia. Deception tears about friendships and families. Lying may even be one of the many things that creates an atmosphere in businesses where productivity is decreased.

If lying can create this much trouble in regular relationships, then committed marriages can be devastated by just one little white lie.  That is not to say that a couple can’t repair the marriage, but maybe the best thing to do is to prevent the destruction from happening in the first place. So, let’s talk about how lying destroys marriages so we can be aware of how deception damages relationships.

  1. Lying destroys trust. This point may seem moot, but trust is pivotal to all relationships. If a marriage does not have trust, it cannot function properly. Trust is the basis of good and positive communication. If there is not trust, an individual may not listen or take heed to anything the other says. They might as well be roommates. When someone lies, the person being lied to might feel devastated and distant. Also, the person being lied to may start to question everything the person who lied says. Thus, the person who lied may become angry because they cannot express what they want or need to because the person who was lied to asks many questions or just stops listening altogether.
  2. Lying prevents deeper, empowering conversation. Have you ever found out a loved one was lying to you? What did you do? How did you feel? If you felt angry, disappointed, frustrated or some other intense feeling, then you probably stopped communicating effectively. Married couples need to communicate on deep levels to feel the bond that keeps them together. But, if you can’t even communicate because you are angry, then the deeper levels of communication cannot be reached.
  3. Lying leads to more lying and deception. Once a lie is formed and emitted, then the person lying usually starts to attempt to cover it up so they don’t get caught. Some people go to great lengths to cover up a lie because telling a lie can have very damaging consequences. For the individual who lied, it becomes important to cover up the lie so they don’t lose their standing, have to deal with an upset spouse, possibly lose their marriage or much more. Deception paths can become very complex and twisted.
  4. Learning about lies can be extremely painful which may be impossible to heal. One of the consequences of lying to your partner is that they will be hurt. The depth of the hurt depends on the type of lie, what the lie was about, the length of time the lie has been covered up, and whether or not the lie is dealing with a sensitive subject (ie, sex, finances, family). It has been said that hurt takes time to heal. The amount of time to heal must depend on the depth of the hurt, which in turn could be so devastating that the hurt individual may choose to not attempt to start the healing process.
  5. Lying portrays selfishness. When a person lies, they are most likely only thinking about themselves. Some other circumstances might make that statement untrue, but only for a few situations. Like we said, lying is usually to cover something up. Why would someone cover something up? To keep it secret. To not get in trouble. To not hurt another person so the relationship does not change. Or, any other number of reasons. But all these reasons point back to selfishness. You can almost hear a resounding, “I…” if the person were asked why they lied.

How do we use this information? Lying can be easy, but being aware of how it effects relationships and can take away what is dear to you is important to help make a correct decision. I always teach people, be aware of yourself (ie, feelings, thoughts and actions).  The reason why? Because awareness breads control. Awareness allows for a larger array of choices. Awareness allows for the individual to manage the problem instead of the problem managing the individual. My last post talked about being intentional!  Awareness allows an individual to be intentional when working to have a great marriage.



Learning About Life

Starting a new website is a critical part of my therapy practice, apparently. I wish I had known this a long time ago. The lessons you learn along life’s way are many and diverse. This post is about why learning is important from a mental health perspective, but also a statement about what this blog is about.

You see, many people in my life have called me a “life time learner.” I hate to admit it at times, but I love learning. I love learning so much that I enjoy helping others learn. I realized when I decided to do this website, that it can be an important tool to share my enjoyment of learning as well as helping me build my business.

As a therapist, it is necessary to market yourself, or “put yourself out there,” as they say in order to draw in clients and build a network of referrals. I knew this was a need for my business, but I did not know how much, until a few days ago when our office manager told me that I don’t get any referrals calling to schedule with me. I was dumbfounded. I had been working with two very good organizations for about 2 years and still could not pull in clients. I wondered to myself what I was doing wrong. So, I went to my strength, reading and learning about stuff. I started to look at “ole trusty” google. Maybe I could find some valuable information about how to bring in clients there.

What I found was information about marketing, networking and social media. So, this website probably is not all I need, but it is a start. I realize that even through the daily grind of things, I can’t forget that information is important. Not only is information important, but correct information is important. As the saying goes, “Don’t reinvent the wheel.”

Through this website and blog, I hope not to reinvent the wheel. I hope to provide links to important articles that others have already written and expound on information that has already been discovered. I understand that there will be some redundancy, and, hopefully, that will help others to not have to look in so many different places for information I have already found.  I believe I am not the only one out there doing this, but this is my way of empowering myself to keep learning so I can spread the joy of learning to others.

Finally, to tie this all to the mental health perspective. Life is about learning and learning can help you solve the problems of life. All you need is a little help sometimes. People working together to solve each others problems and build a better world is what life is all about. People help other people learn to live life better.

Why I Offer Sex Therapy

* Before I start, I won’t to preface this blog post with a clarification. In my practice I do not judge others or push my beliefs on others. Counseling is about helping others reach their stated goals and not working on my goals. However, all people hold beliefs and these beliefs effect how they interact with others. My hope is that I interact with love, hope and understanding..

When a person thinks about sex therapy, I am almost sure that a Hollywood film starts playing in their mind. Sex therapy is mythical to people, conjuring up thoughts of intense emotions and fantasies. Thinking about sex therapy in this way is exactly that, a fantasy.  Sex therapy is far from what you see in Hollywood.  Although, just saying sex therapy can still make a person feel very uncomfortable, which brings me to why I offer sex therapy.

As a sex therapist, I can tell you that those who train others in sex therapy and provide supervision demonstrate a whole new respect for what sex really is. Through these brave souls, I have learned that sex is nothing to be scared of. The culture has made it taboo and negative in connotation. Even talking about sex in public arenas conjures up glancing eyes and awkward avoidance. However, humans are at their simplest, sexual beings. We were created with sexual anatomy. We were formed with intense emotions of love and passion. The problem is not sex; the problem is how the culture perceives sex. The reality is, sex is good when experienced within the proper boundaries of a committed marital relationship.

Thus, I offer sex therapy because when sex is used properly within a committed, loving and passionate relationship, it can be beautiful, intimate and empowering to the individuals involved. I believe sex is God’s gift to married couples to portray the power that two individuals can display when their relationship becomes so intimate that they enhance each other’s qualities and abilities due to pure acceptance and understanding of one another even at the deepest level of intimacy.

Just writing that last paragraph made the “feels” rise up in me. To be so in love and intimate with someone that knows everything about you and can read you’re every move is a feeling that makes a person entirely alive. I long to know my wife in that way and for her to know me.  Obviously, that would be perfection and although it may be attainable, most people never reach it. What if you could get a glimpse of it? What if you could feel that way even minimally on a regular basis?

This understanding of sex only comes from the knowledge of God’s intended uses for sex. Yes, sex is accompanied by intense pleasure in the moment and if you are not careful, or just desire to decrease your finances some (ie, this is a joke), a few offspring might be in your future. I believe though sex was intended to be much more. I believe it was intended to help to improve the marriage relationship and mirror some aspect of how amazing God is.

So, why do I offer sex therapy in my practice? I offer sex therapy because sex is central to a deep, loving and intimate marriage that empowers the individuals involved to help grow and evolve into more complete people. Research demonstrates that stronger families create stronger individuals and stronger communities. Stronger families improve quality of life and education for children. Stronger families decrease the number of incarcerations and crimes. Stronger families keep people safer.

Sex is only a part of the marriage relationship, but it is essential and powerful in strengthening the central most important part (ie, the married couple) of the family. Thus, if you are having sexual difficulties in your marriage, please talk to a professional who will keep your information confidential so you at least know the options available to you.