Archive for June, 2014

Ten Warning Signs Your Marriage May Be In Trouble!

Friday, June 27th, 2014

A comment that I continually hear in marriage counseling is a statement like this, “I didn’t know our marriage was this bad”.  This is usually said by the rejected person in the marriage after the rejector has said s/he doesn’t want to stay in the marriage anymore or, at least, not in this form.  Thus, periodically I try to give a “heads up” to couples to help them see warning signs that their marriage is going in the wrong direction.

Drs. Paul and Evelyn Moschetta, are marriage therapists – good ones with a longstanding good reputation. Their blog recently appeared in the Huffington Post.  I thought it was a good read and I want to share it with you, as well as add my own comments.

The “warning side” are these:

  1. Sex is consistently boring and mechanical. A satisfying sex life is vital to health and well being. The sexual expression may vary with many compensatory adjustments as people age and have health issues.
  2. There are many problems and only a few solutions.  The inability to compromise and find workable solutions to common relationship issues turns partners into adversaries.
  3. Character assassination happens in your marriage. Name calling, insults, belittling put downs, and personal attacks aimed at embarrassing and hurting a spouse seriously hurt the relationship.
  4. You’re angry most of the time. Accumulated anger kills love.  Anger is the other side of hurt.
  5. One of you cheats. Trust is intrinsic to a good marriage.
  6. There is selfishness within your marriage. Marriage is a give and take relationship and it’s about making your partner’s need a top priority.
  7. One or both of you always needs to be right. When you do not have a voice that’s heard and respected, marriage slides downhill fast. Give “wiggle room” and learn to compromise.
  8. It’s not in the kiss anymore. When you avoid kissing your marriage is in trouble. A kiss is very personal and indicative of the state of the marriage.
  9. Your conversations do not work to help you work through the various challenges that are presented over time in the relationship.
  10. There is too little or too much money.  How much money comes in and how and where it is spent affects the marriage at a very deep level.

If any, or many, of the above factors exist in your relationship, get some help!  Each of these factors is a marriage killer.  Deal with these symptoms as you would with a physical health problem – seek competent advice, get a regimen, and follow it. Your marriage can get healthier!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

 

“Shut Up And Listen”! OR “Please, Hear Me”: Couple Communication Styles & Tips

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

What is the number one issue that negatively impacts relationships?  You’re right. COMMUNICATION.  As a therapist I spend much time counseling people on how to communicate better. When sharing thoughts and feelings a person wants to be heard.  The following are a few basic tips that are needed for effective communication.

  1. Take an interest in the person and what s/he has to say. Eye contact and attentiveness assist.
  2. Show respect for the person and the perspective presented – even if you disagree on the issue.
  3. Be consistent in your manner so that the person can trust you as the relationship develops.
  4. Find a time that is mutually acceptable to talk.
  5. Be open and allow a full expression of thoughts and feelings.
  6. Try to listen calmly no matter what you may be feeling.
  7. Avoid being judgmental.
  8. Listen between the lines. “Hear” what isn’t verbalized. It is called attunement.
  9. Don’t give advice unless requested to do so.
  10. Thank the person for sharing with you.

Ralph Roughton, M.D. has a quote about listening of which I would like to share  a few of the stanzas with you.

“When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice, you have not done what I asked.

When you listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me strange as that may seem.

Listen.  All I asked was that you listen, not talk or do – just hear me. …

So please listen and just hear me.  And, if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn, and I’ll listen to you.”

People want to be heard. Every person has something of worth to say.  Some more than others, especially the significant people in your life.  Hopefully, you are that special person that can be with another and just LISTEN!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

A Father’s Day Reflection: “A Son’s Father”

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

There once was a man named Jake, born John but preferred Jake. He was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, son of a Greek immigrant Father. He was one of five children. His Father owned a car dealership and expected his sons to work there and continue his legacy.

Jake was a bright and handsome fellow. He was popular, very intelligent, president of his class and a decent athlete. He had good taste in women and early on found the love of his life, Betty, daughter of the prominent doctor in Green Bay.

He wanted to go to college. His Father did not buy into that even though a prominent lawyer in town said he would pay for Jake’s college because he saw his academic and professional potential. The obedient son stayed and worked for the dealership until World War II broke out and Jake joined the Navy. He left behind his wife and two children. The son particularly missed him deeply!

Upon his return from serving his country Jake continued at the dealership. He was an incredible salesman and was very popular. He worked hard with very long hours. He had little free time. That which he had he spent with family, played a little golf, and took his lovely wife to the Zuider Zee restaurant/bar where he crooned at the piano bar, sounding like a cross between Dean Martin and Perry Como. His son missed him and terrorized baby sitters.

Jake was a good man. He provided well for his family and was present for his son’s events, rooting him on. The son loved looking out and seeing his Father present.

The son chose a different path. The son had another “Father”. His name was God the Father, not to be likened to the “Godfather”!  Catholic school’s God the Father “called” the son to be a priest, or so he thought.  A good Catholic boy answers when God the Father calls! A deepened spiritual journey ensued.

The spiritual journey moved him away from his parochial location and, ultimately, his vocation.  Priesthood evolved into a different kind of leadership, one devoted to educating and counseling those open to improving their lives, their marriages, and their families. The son had found his true calling. Priest had become Doctor, still caring for “souls”.

While the son was expanding his mind and universe his father, Jake, was declining. Alzheimers disease struck him at the age of fifty five. Thirteen years later he died, a shrunken man beaten down by this insidious disease. His beloved wife, Betty, bore the burden of caretaking him over those last years. She was heroic in her lonely challenge of caring for her “Greek God”.

The son admired his father. In retrospect he wishes they could have shared more time together. Opportunities were missed. The son could have done more.

The son reflects often on fatherhood. He is fortunate to be married to the love of his life, Sherry, and has two wonderful children, Kris and Brittany. Kris and Brittany have wonderful spouses and are great parents to the son’s grandchildren.

Over the years the son has reflected often about his father and his role as a father. These reflections have helped the son realize how incredibly important a father is to his children. He has done his best and is grateful for the father that he had – a loving and devoted man of integrity.

I’ve missed you, Dad!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Dr. Stathas can be reached at 706-473-1780. Email: Stathas@plantationcable.net. Web site:

Can You Say HonestlyThese Words, “Better Than I Used To Be”?

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

This musing has emerged from listening to a song by Tim McGraw entitled, “Better than I used to be”. Some of the lyrics go like this:

“I know how to hold a grudge

I can send a bridge up in smoke

And I can’t count the people I’ve let down, the hearts I’ve broke

You ain’t  gotta dig too deep

If you wanna find some dirt on me

I’m learning who you’ve been

Ain’t who you’ve got to be …

I’m cleanin up my act, little by little

I’m getting there

I can finally stand the man in the mirror I see’

I ain’t  as good as I’m gonna get

But I’m better than I used to be.”

I asked myself the question, and I ask it of you. “Are you better than you used to be”. What criteria are used for such an evaluation? A few of the categories for examination might include health, wealth, morals, relationships, success (in whatever is important to you), marriage and family, etc…

Developmental stages are another perspective to help with self assessment. Such stages could include age, career path, marriage(s), parenting. Where were you, what were you doing, and how well were you doing it at these various stages of your life?

Who have been the various motivators, mentors, facilitators, and lovers who have helped you move forward, or, perhaps have impeded your progress?  Who might deserve some words of gratitude? Who might be people that need to be left behind, forgotten for their lack of assistance in your movement forward.

I call my office the Stathas Life Development for a reason.  I believe in the Socratic dictum that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Sometimes I serve as a consultant or a counselor or as a therapist depending on the presenting concerns of the client/patient. While dealing with such issues I am continually reminded of areas to focus on in my quest to “be better than I used to be”.  I hope this writing will serve a similar purpose for you, Respected Reader, to assess where you have been and where you are headed in your journey to be the best person you can possible be.  What might be the next step in this journey?