Religion and Relationships

Religion and Relationships Text-  http://loveshoppinglist.com/religion-and-relationships Audio version-  http://chirb.it/sIBAGg Sometimes religion can get in the way of relationships, especially when families put pressure on the individuals.  In many cultures, strict adherence to religious “laws” creates significant stress for couples, especially if the two people are of different religions or even of different denominations or sects within a religion.  Christians have Baptists, Protestants, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutheran, LDS, Catholics, etc.  Jews have Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, etc. Muslims have Shia and Sunni, etc. And the list goes on and on.  In many of these, marrying or dating outside the religion is frowned upon or even forbidden.  While I am a “believer”, in my humble opinion, these are all simply beliefs in a higher power. So, the question becomes if you find yourself in love with a person of a different religion, or religion is creating conflict in moving your relationship forward, how should you handle it? The answer lays with each individual and the couple together.  I always tell couples to remember that most often they are in a relationship with or are marrying an entire family and not just a single person.  For some who don’t practice their religion or are atheist or agnostic, there is not an artificial barrier.  However, for most, there are decisions to be made.  This issue should be dealt with prior to furthering the relationship, especially if the couple is planning to have a family. A few years ago, a couple came in to see me.  He was Muslim, and she was Christian. Both of their families were very much against them getting married.  As much as they loved...

Bipolar Relationships

June 13, 2018 Bipolar Relationships Audio version- http://chirb.it/Jemtc5 The term “bipolar” is often used by many people to describe someone whose mood constantly changes between highs and lows.  Years ago, the real diagnosis used to be called “manic-depressive disorder.” For the average person it’s just a descriptor of how someone is behaving rather than a true diagnosis. However, it actually is a formal psychological condition and should only be diagnosed by a professional.  In the context of this article, I’m referring to the informal use of the term. A bipolar relationship is much like riding a roller coaster.  It’s one that goes up and up, reaches a peak, and then comes screaming down making you almost want to throw up. Then it happens all over again.  Interestingly, when we examine the symptoms of true individual bipolar disorder, the bipolar relationship exhibits many of the same things, e.g. the manic behavior and the depressive mood.  Just like the actual diagnosis of an individual, this pattern is also toxic to a relationship. It steals the energy out of the relationship by keeping it so unstable. Particularly after a manic high in which the partners can’t get enough of each other, and when they are together, it is incredibly intense, the “crash” leaves them wondering what went wrong so quickly and drastically.  The partners are often left to wonder about their own sanity or the sanity of their partner or both.  It can be extremely distressing. Interestingly, sometimes one of the partners in a relationship is actually truly bipolar.  It’s almost as if the condition becomes contagious and infects the relationship.  The...

Enmeshed Relationships

June 06, 2018 Enmeshed Relationships Audio version- http://chirb.it/6KCtLv The term enmeshment is widely used in therapy. It refers to an extreme form of closeness and intensity in interactions. It also applies to relationships. In a highly enmeshed relationship changes in one partner automatically result in changes to the other. The differentiation between the two people becomes almost invisible. The individual gets lost in the relationship. The boundaries that define individual autonomy become so weak that functioning in individual ways is handicapped. Enmeshment is used as a term when speaking about co-dependence. Co-dependence is defined as being psychologically influenced or controlled by, reliant upon, or needing another person to fulfill one’s own needs or to complete oneself.  People are defined as being co-dependent if they are in a situation where they are psychologically mutually reliant on someone else to meet needs for them that they ought to be able to meet for themselves. A co-dependent person is one who has let her/his partner’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior. We are enmeshed when we use another individual for our identity, sense of value, worth, well-being, safety, purpose, and security. Instead of two people present, we become one identity. More simply, enmeshment is present when our sense of wholeness comes from another person. Enmeshment does not allow for individuality, wholeness, personal empowerment, or healthy relationships with ourselves or others. Most certainly, this fosters an unhealthy relationship. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, in a good relationship one plus one equals more than two.  That’s because there is a synergy between the two partners.  If the...

Love Off Track

May 30, 2018 Love Off Track Audio version- http://chirb.it/La0FeC In the last several current episodes of the sitcom Blackish, Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) have run into difficulties in their marriage and wonder how they got to that place.  For many couples, that becomes a very important question.  Something that most often started off as a wonderful dream has turned into almost a nightmare.  What happened? When a relationship is not continuously energized, it becomes almost dormant. People put energy into children, work, household, hobbies, etc.  The relationship becomes taken for granted and put on the shelf, figuring “I’ll get to it tomorrow or at some point.”  But that tomorrow or some point goes from days to weeks to months and often to years, until the last little spark is barely visible.  For some, the spark extinguishes itself completely, and only the ashes are left.  The train has gone off the track. Most often when couples first get together, the energy between them is almost palpable.  Very often they ignore friendships and almost everything else just to focus on each other.  Certainly, that level of intensity cannot be maintained over time, nor should it.  But when the pendulum swings the other way, that the relationship is the last entity to get attention, cracks in the relationship begin to appear.  Some are related to a lack of energy and attention, while others are a result of unanticipated issues that are bound to arise in any relationship.  However, if there is a goodly amount of energy being infused into the relationship, point number one, then the other issues,...

Love Lost

May 24, 2018 Losing Love Audio version- http://chirb.it/7HAP4k Losing a longtime love is never easy. I know. Nine months ago, I lost the love of my life that I had been with for 49 years.  She lost her battle with cancer.  So, here’s some information and advice from someone who has had first-hand experience. Firstly, let’s establish this. You have not lost love. You have lost THAT love in the form it had existed. At this point, I’m not sure what will happen, but I do know that there will always be love in some form.  It’s still too early to know if there will be another significant other, but I do know that I still love.  Love comes in many forms. I love my children.  I love my grandchildren. I love my extended family. I love my friends. I’m at the other end of the time spectrum.  As my good friend and college football teammate likes to remind me, “We’re in the “fourth quarter, baby.” Regardless of which “quarter” you are in the game of life, losing a love from a breakup, a death, or for any other reason is hard.  When you have exposed all your vulnerabilities to another human being, you are open for a world of hurt.  But not allowing yourself to be vulnerable and close means you will never experience the incredible level of joy and fulfillment that accompanies a close relationship. Breakups, for whatever reason (and death is most certainly one of those), can be incredibly painful.  Keep in mind that the mirror image of grief is love. The deeper the love, the greater the...

Love’s Vision Board

May 16, 2018 Love’s Vision Board Audio version-  http://chirb.it/ELasys A number of years ago a few days after my hip operation I was in our entertainment room watching television.  My wife came in and shut the TV off.  She announced that we were going to do a vision board.  I was a captive audience since it was difficult for me to move around.  She brought in a tri-fold cardboard about three feet by four feet and markers. Like the incredible educator she was, she stood at the front of my “classroom,” writing our vision for our future of things we wanted to do.  She explained that by putting it all down in writing on a board, it was much more likely to happen. A vision board for love will work much in the same way.  It takes a somewhat advanced relationship, but once a couple has decided that they want to be together, they should define how they would like to see their relationship evolve.  Anything they want to have happen should be put on the board – family, finances, vacations, social interaction, intimacy goals, decorating, division of household tasks, etc.  Some of you may be asking what most of these have to do with love, but they all do. Each has some part in serious relationships.  By writing it all down, memorializing it, there should be no unspoken expectations. Often, it’s the unspoken expectations that create a lot of conflict in marriages and relationships. Unspoken expectations are when one party just simply expects the other to know what they want, know where to go, assume that it’s the other’s job, and...