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Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me. Psalm 41:9 (NKJV)

Can men and women be “just friends”?  As Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps[i] explains that the real answer depends on the particular people in that relationship. But if we are totally honest with ourselves we will recognize that some men and women feel undeniable attraction and cannot just be friends.  There are some, however, who have managed to maintain a healthy, platonic relationship.  Dr. Phelps suggests that when deciding whether your friendship really is or can remain platonic, you should consider the following warning signs that you might be going over the “just friends” line:

  • You think about your friend throughout your day.
  • You have romantic thoughts and feelings about your friend.
  • You have strong feelings of missing your friend when you are not together.
  • You are single, but would rather spend time with your friend than go on a date. You need to ask yourself if your friendship is interfering with you nurturing a romantic relationship.

If you find that even one of these warning signs apply to you, it’s time to reconsider that friendship. Dr. Phelps suggests you ask yourself these questions:

  • If you are not in another relationship, do you want to try to take the leap from friend to romantic partner?
  • If you know that your friend is not open to a romantic relationship with you, is it wiser for you to maintain such a close relationship or put distance in it?
  • If you are in another relationship, you have some serious decisions to make about how to proceed. Is your “platonic” relationship a threat to your romantic one? Which one do you really want to pursue?

Male-female relationships are complex. Be honest and ask yourself – can we really be “just friends”?

Father God, help me to be clear as to the relationships in my life and to maintain clear boundaries between them.

[i] http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2015/04/can-men-and-women-be-just-friends.html?ecd=wnl_sxr_041115&ctr=wnl-sxr-041115_nsl-promo_1&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d\

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 (KJV)

Yesterday we made reference to an article on WebMD about the implications to marriage when one of the spouses suffers from ADHD.  Today we cite the solutions suggested in the same article.[i]

The first step is to treat the ADHD symptoms that are interfering with your relationship. Make sure to not self-diagnose.  If you haven’t already been diagnosed, see a mental health professional such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Many of the same treatments that work in children, such as medications, counseling, and behavioral therapy, can also help adults with ADHD improve their focus and deal with relationship issues.  In addition, marriage or couples therapy can help you and your spouse better understand one another, and may help heal any wounds that have been caused in your relationship as a result of ADHD.  Here are a few strategies to help ADHD-related relationship problems include:

Make to-do lists of everything from daily responsibilities to items you need from the store. Lists can not only remind you of the things you need to do but will also give you a sense of accomplishment as each items on it is completed.  Also keep a calendar of important dates and deadlines which should include birthdays, anniversary, mother’s day, Valentine’s day, etc.

Ask the partner with ADHD to repeat back any requests, to make sure he or she understands what is being asked.  This is a goo exercise in healthy communication as well.

Simplify your life by cleaning up clutter around the house and only attempting to accomplish a small number of tasks each day or week.

Get into a routine.  For example, go through your checkbook once a week to see how much money you’ve spent, or plan the entire week’s meals every Sunday night, or plan what you hope to get done that day, week, month, or year.

Father God, in spite of my challenges, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Thank you for His help, for your love, and for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

[i] Ibdi.

He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29 (NKJV)

An article on WebMD[i] reminds that that ADHD is a not a problem seen only childhood.  About one-third to one-half of those who had ADHD in childhood, which is nearly 5% of Americans, continue to have it into adulthood.  According to the article, the hallmark symptoms of ADHD — forgetfulness, inattentiveness, difficulty completing tasks, and impulsivity — can all wreak havoc on relationships. All of these issues can be complicated even more if children are in the picture.  Here are some of the problems you might face if you or your partner has ADHD:

Difficulty listening and paying attention. This makes it difficult to communicate and cause the partner to feel as though what he or she has to say doesn’t matter or isn’t valued.

Trouble completing tasks. ADHD can lead to poor organizational skills and forgetfulness. The result is that, for instance, a man with ADHD may miss his wife’s birthday or their wedding anniversary, or may forget to stop at the store on the way home from work as his wife had asked. He may also start a lot of projects at home, such as remodeling or cleaning out the garage, but will not finish them for a long time, which can be very stressful for his wife.

Inability to handle responsibilities. She might forget to pay the bills, neglect to clear a dangerous pile of branches from the backyard, or leave a toxic cleaner on the sink while children are playing nearby.

Impulsive behavior. They may fail to think through the consequences of their actions. This can lead to reckless, irresponsible behaviors (like driving too fast with the kids in the car).

Emotional overreaction. They may lose his or her temper easily, leading to major misunderstandings. Arguments can quickly spiral out of control, because they are not able to talk through issues calmly.

ADHD can destroy your marriage or relationship if you don’t get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.  On tomorrow’s post we will offer some suggestions that may help you.

Father God, help me to understand my nature and to learn to manage it so I may not cause damage to myself or the people in my life.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-in-marriage-and-romantic-relationships?page=2

When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up. Psalm 94:19 (MSG)

Martin E.P. Seligman, a University of Pennsylvania professor, writes in his book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being,[i] that people thrive by discovering what makes life worth living. Seligman discusses his concept of PERMA, the acronym that stands for the five crucial elements of well-being. As he explains, “People who have the most positive emotion, the most engagement, and the most meaning in life are the happiest, and they have the most life satisfaction.”  Following are the five crucial elements of well-being, as described by Selligman:

Positive emotion: These feelings contribute to the “pleasant life.” They include pleasure, warmth, comfort, rapture, and ecstasy.

Engagement: During an engaging activity, people lose self-consciousness and go into a state of flow.  As Selligman puts it, “Time stops for you and you’re one with the music.”

Relationships: In short, other people matter. We’re social “hive creatures,” he says. When individuals reach their highest emotional states, they’re almost always in the company of others, whether they’re laughing uproariously or gathering to mark a milestone moment.

Meaning:  Selligman writes that everyone yearns for a “meaningful life” that involves “belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than you are.”

Accomplishment: Reaching one’s goals contributes strongly to a sense of well-being.

We refer to permafrost s a thick subsurface layer of soil that remains frozen throughout the year, and which mainly occurs in polar regions.  In order to maintain good psychological health, we need this PERMA, a thick layer of positive emotions, staying engaged with others, invest in positive relationships, find meaning to your life, and set goals that will leave a legacy for the benefit of others.  As Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Father God, may meaning and accomplishment in my life come as a result of serving you and loving and serving others.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/men/features/emotionally-healthy-man?page=4

We looked for peace, but no good came; And for a time of health, and there was trouble! Jeremiah 8:15 (NKJV)

George Vaillant, a psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote in his recently published book Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study[i] about the insights gained from the study which began in 1938, and translates them into life lessons.  It is interesting to note that several of the men tracked since 1938 are now in their 80’s and 90’s, which provides the researchers with a long span and a good number of men to study.  The following are three key insights Vaillant discovered about how men can live mentally healthy and emotionally rewarding lives.

  1. Mentally healthy men use mature coping methods to deal with adversity. Mentally healthy men in the study showed an ability to take life’s hardship and turn it into an opportunity for growth. Vaillant identified several mature coping skills, including humor, or not taking oneself too seriously; anticipation, the ability to foresee future pain and prepare for it; stoicism, the ability to endure hardships; and altruism, a concern for others.
  2. Mentally healthy men avoid abusing alcohol. In tracking the Harvard men for a lifetime, researchers found that alcoholism was the top reason for marriages breaking up. As Vaillant explains, “Fifty-seven percent of all the divorces in the Grant Study involved alcoholism.” Contrary to popular belief, men didn’t turn to drink after they lost their jobs or their spouses walked out. Instead, Vaillant discovered, alcoholism usually came first, leading to job trouble, bankruptcy, legal problems, or marital rifts.
  3. Mentally healthy men create loving relationships. Vaillant’s study found that strong connections to others formed a foundation for mental health. Developing and cultivating healthy friendships and loving relationships helps us to invest in other people’s lives which in the long run benefits us. We reap the dividends in the same measure that we invest in others.

Being selfish, egotistical, self-absorbed does not lead to either health or happiness.

Father, help to invest in the lives of others for their and my own sake.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/men/features/emotionally-healthy-man?ecd=wnl_men_041115&ctr=wnl-men-041115_nsl-promo_4&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, 4  He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. Proverbs 4:3-4 (NKJV)

In a most delightful blog, Glennon Doyle Melton[i] writes about the stresses of parenting.  Dinner is ready, but the kids think it’s yucky.  The homes looks like a tornado hit it, even though you spent the entire day cleaning it.  It’s bedtime and it sounds more like a battlefield.  And after a long day of this, you’re freaking out!  As Mrs. Melton, explains, “My first instinct is to allow my anxiety and angst to pour out like gasoline on a raging fire and indulge in a full-on mommy meltdown.”

Melton refers to an essay by Joan Didion called “Self-Respect” where she offers a very interesting strategy when you’re on the verge of parenting meltdown: “It was once suggested to me that as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag. As it happens, there is a sound physiological reason, something to do with oxygen, for doing exactly that, but the psychological effect alone is incalculable. It is difficult in the extreme to continue fancying oneself Cathy in Wuthering Heights with one’s head in a food fair bag. There is a similar case for all the small disciplines, unimportant in themselves; imagine maintaining any sort of swoon, commiserate or carnal, in a cold shower.”

Melton concludes, “Yes, Ms. Didion, yes. It’s the little things. The little disciplines that help us get through the day and regain peace. It’s not necessarily a different career or parenting philosophy or neighborhood or child or personality or spouse that we need. Sometimes it’s a deep breath, a bath, a glass of water, a walk outside, or a paper bag.”  So she now I now stores brown shopping paper bag hats on all three floors in her house. And when everyone starts losing their minds, she puts on my bag and breathes and hides.

The point is that instead of yelling and screaming and feeling like a parenting failure, we need to find what works for us to help us maintain our composure and make our life, and our kids, more peaceful, healthy, and happy.

Father God, help me to maintain a happy, positive disposition.

[i] http://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/to-fix-parenting-stress-all-you-need-is-a-paper-bag?cid=eml_tes_20150412

Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Isaiah 55:2 (NKJV)

Men and women look at love and relationships differently, but the way they perceive and handle money is poles apart.  Spouses who share a bank account may have very different approaches to how they spend money, how they save it, or about financial planning for the future; sadly, these differences can make for some big mistakes they both make. Here are some of those financial mistakes that men and women make as expressed by Allison Nazarian[i].

Money mistakes men make.  Older men tend to be more aggressive in their investment habits.  Younger men, on the other hand, procrastinate. Risk isn’t their big issue, it’s taking action.  At the same time, men don’t always seek out advice and act on limited information which may lead to rash decisions.

Money mistakes women make.  The biggest mistake made by the older generation of women — baby boomers and older — is not getting involved in financial decisions.  Many women deferred all the financial decisions to their husbands only to realize, in their older years, they know very little about the financial picture of their life. At the same time, women may lack confidence in financial decision-making and worry far too much about money which may lead them to make very poor decisions.

What men and women do right.  Many younger women may have learned to avoid the mistakes they observed from the previous generation by taking more ownership of finances.  The reality is that women are better investors than men because they view things more holistically, which is great for long-term planning.  Men often look to technology, such as websites, financial software and other tools, to solve money problems and answer pressing questions. Women, on the other hand, aren’t as quick to go with the gadget or app.  Finances is a very important area where both spouses benefit from the wisdom, knowledge and experience of each other.

Father God, bless us and guide us as we make the financial decisions which will affect us individually and as a family.

[i] http://www.bankrate.com/finance/savings/financial-planning-flubs-men-and-women.aspx?ec_id=cmct_001_HP_image_headline

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