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Relationships are seldom as simple as we would like. They bring out our needs, anxieties, and conflicts with people from our past – parents, friends and former partners.
Grieving comes to most of us at some point in our lives. In fact, statistics show that each person can expect to experience the loss of a loved one once every nine to thirteen years. The resulting sadness may be the most painful of life’s experiences. Because it is painful, however, our eventual adaptation to the loss can bring meaning and integrity to our lives – and this, ultimately, is a gift to us from the one we have lost. It is a reminder to us that the circle is unbroken.
Countless millions of adults in this country had a parent with a drinking or drug problem. A brief look at some of the history of the last century can clarify this phenomenon. Prohibition was repealed in 1933, and this tended to validate, or at least give some justification for, the consumption of alcohol by the World War II generation. Alcohol was associated with good times and the good life for what is now sometimes called the drinking generation, those folks who lived through WWII, the survivors of whom are now entering the latter stages of the life span. Their children, the Baby Boomers, who are now in middle age, tended to use not only alcohol but drugs as well.
Emotionally committed relationships bring excitement and passion into our lives, especially when they are new. Over time, however, we come across roadblocks based in personal issues that can distance us from our partners. When we first enter into a committed relationship, we may think that we have found the answer to life’s problems, that we have a partner to share in daily turmoil, that we will never be alone again, that it will be smooth sailing from here on out.
Ask people what they fear the most and many of them will answer, “speaking in public.” In surveys that ask people about their fears, about one person in five reports an extreme fear of public speaking. Shyness and other forms of social anxiety are common – and they prevent people from fully experiencing life.
Researchers used to think that what they called “hyperactivity” was a condition found in childhood that was outgrown during adolescence. We know now that about one-third of children with these symptoms outgrow them during adolescence, and the other two-thirds continue to show symptoms into adulthood.
To qualify as obsessive-compulsive disorder, the person recognizes that the obsessions or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable. They cause marked distress, are time-consuming (taking up at least one hour per day), and significantly interfere with the person’s normal routine, work or school functioning, or usual social activities or relationships.
The National Sleep Foundation tells us that nearly half of us don’t get enough sleep. In modern-day society, because of night work, television, computers, and the profound stress we experience in everyday life, our sleep is often disrupted. Sleep is a basic biological need, like hunger and thirst. When we don’t get enough of it, our bodies let us know that there are consequences.
The long-term success of any relationship depends on the ability of the two partners to achieve intimacy through their communication. When the two partners feel isolated from each other and blocked in their ability to achieve the closeness they once felt, it is time to work on expressing their innermost thoughts and feelings to each other.
The person who was once your best friend and your companion for life, the one who knew you better than anyone else, has now in some ways become your enemy. You cannot believe that this has happened. How could that love have been destroyed? The breakup of a relationship is one of life’s most emotionally painful experiences.
One of the things that therapy does best is to address issues of self-esteem. Many of us are wounded, in one way or another, by the way we were treated as we grew up. As adults it is our responsibility to put closure on the damage inflicted on us by others and to move on with our lives in a healthy way.
To have an intimate connection with another person requires first that we have access to our own personal emotions and ideas. We cannot expect to be intimate with another when we are out of touch with our own internal experiences. We must explore and become familiar with our own personal thoughts and feelings before we can share them with someone else.
Spending time with a good, supportive friend will calm us and uplift our mood. We feel better when we talk things through with a trusted friend. When we hear ourselves talk, we can often get to the root of what is bothering us without the listener’s having to say a word. Social support validates us.
While it is ideal for the two partners to agree mutually that there is a problem that needs to be confronted and to show an equal amount of motivation in solving the problem in relationship therapy, this goal is not always achievable. The reality of the situation is that one of the partners may not be ready to work on the problem – and the reason for this may be perfectly valid.
In order to understand the process, let’s look at three stages of grief: Shock, Suffering, and Recovery. The duration of each stage is different. The complexity is in the pattern of behavior in each of the stages. You can and probably will vacillate from one stage to the other. This can be scary for the survivor and for those who really want to help him or her but the stages are necessary and healthy.
When we make a commitment to our partner, our usual expectation is that our relationship will last for life and that our love will see us through the inevitable hard times. Yet, when reality sinks in, we have to acknowledge that while love is one of the components of a relationship’s longevity, it really takes more to make it through the long haul.
Become a student of your spouse. Learn what your partner likes and dislikes. Try to understand his or her unique personality, needs and desires. One book I suggest to help you better understand your spouse is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It explains how to communicate your love depending on your spouse’s love language.
The incidence of depression in our society seems to be on the rise. Recent estimates suggest that as many as one in three of us will experience some form of depression within our lifetimes. Others claim that depression may even represent a symptom of our times which are characterized by alienation, lack of strong community bonds, and hopeless economic situations for many.
You’re not alone. ‘Tis the season to be stressed out.
The major cause of holiday stress is expectations. Those expectations usually revolve around family and financial issues. And to top it off, time crunches often bring the stress to the surface.