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Many Couples Just Give up Too Early and Too Easily

Many Couples Just Give up Too Early and Too Easily

We’ve all had the dream. You see the man or woman of our dreams across a crowded room. Your eyes lock. And at that moment you both know… And then you ride off into the sunset and begin your “happily ever after.”

While most people do get to experience “happy for a little while,”only a select few make it to “happily ever after.” Relationships are tough. And sustaining a relationship after the butterflies are gone, and you’ve seen her without make up or have been assaulted by his morning breath–is especially difficult.

Great relationships take LOTS of hard work

That is the honest, hard truth. A relationship takes time, effort, energy, patience and lots of work in order for it to succeed. Most people bail as soon as things get a little rocky. Society has deceived us into believing that if we are unhappy in a relationship, that is a sign that it wasn’t meant to be[1]. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Romantic comedies, fairy tales and sultry novels have distorted our view of a relationship’s dynamics.

Lisa Blum, Psy.D,– a clinical psychologist in California specializing in emotionally focused therapy for couples–believes

“The strongest most enduring relationships take lots of hard work… our culture, education system and parenting styles don’t prepare us for the fact that even good relationships take effort.”

Similar problems arise when they hop into a new relationship

Desiring a relationship and sustaining one are two very different things. Most people want to be in a relationship. According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of folks have been married, at least once, by the time the are 50[2]. The divorce rate for those who marry hovers somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. And the divorce rate for second or third marriages is even higher.

Divorce and break ups do end the relationship but don’t necessarily resolve any issues. This is why the divorce rate for subsequent marriages is so high. Most often a person will leave a relationship, hop into another one and repeat the same behaviors and cycles. It is easier to bounce from one relationship to another than it is to stick it out, put in the work and make your current relationship last.

That’s not to say that if the relationship is abusive or toxic that you should stay–especially if you aren’t married. There are times when breaking up is the best and safest course of action. Often times however, we quit because we feel unhappy, the passion has waned or we feel we are exerting too much energy to make the relationship work.

How to know if you should stay or not

So you’ve read the first part of this article but you’re still not sure if you should stick it out or not. Here are some things to consider:

Both of you are willing to do the work

Marriage is NOT 50/50. Marriage is 100%–however you can get there. It is rare that both people are in the same place–emotionally, spiritually, mentally and sexually–at the exact same time. Sometimes one person is in a position to give more in an area than the other. One may be putting in 70 and the other 30 and that’s ok–for a season.

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The problem arises when one person is always giving more than the other[3]. Having an off day or being in a bad place is understandable–laziness is not. If you are dating someone for a period of time and you realize that you are doing all the work in all areas–you may want to reconsider your position. That is not sustainable–or healthy–over a long period of time.

You feel fulfilled, though sometimes unhappy

Happiness is relative and dependent on external circumstances. It ebbs and flows with the tides of life. Fulfillment, however is a more constant and steady state. It doesn’t change as often as happiness does. Fulfillment, not happiness should be the barometer of your relationship.

If you are a neat freak and your partner leaves their clothes on the floor, eats food in bed, tracks mud all throughout the house and never cleans up after themselves you are going to be unhappy–a lot. However, if you feel safe, loved unconditionally[4] and valued as a person you are more likely to be in a continuous state of fulfillment even though your happiness comes and goes. If a relationship is fulfilling for both people and they both are willing to do what they can when they can, then the relationship is solid.

Happily ever after doesn’t just happen: 3 top problems couples face

Having a fulfilling, healthy and long lasting relationship takes time and effort. Here are the top three problems couples face and must deal with–continuously–in order to achieve the fairy tale:

Loss of passion and excitement

Loss of passion is absolutely, 100% normal and is experienced by all couples. The “high” you experience during the early stages of love are similar to what a drug addict feels when he snorts cocaine. When you are in love, your brain is swimming in the “feel good” chemicals–dopamine and norepinephrine[5]. They are addicting. Which is why break ups are so hard.

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Overtime the chemicals begin to wear off and your body begins to regulate the production and release of these chemicals. This is a natural and physiological process. However, most mistake it as a sign that the love is fading or the relationship is dying. They end that relationship and seek out another so the can experience the love”high” again.

Here are some very practical things you can do to reignite the spark of romance[6] and add a bit of excitement back into your relationship:

  • Engage in new activities with each other. Ditch the routine and shake things up a bit.
  • Add some mystery and excitement into the bedroom. Play around with lingerie, mood lighting, fragrances, and edibles. Tantalize all 5 senses in a different way. Try something new (but make sure both parties are “in to” whatever you suggest).
  • Seek arousal-producing activities. Things that get your heart racing and blood pumping are also good for the libido. Research shows that if you participate in an activity together that creates an endorphin and adrenaline rush you create a state of heightened arousal that can be transferred to your relationship.

Communication issues

The number one issues underpinning most problems in a relationship is communication[7]. When communication breaks down, fights happen, people get hurt, and the relationship suffers.

Communication involves so much more than just verbal discussions. Understanding how to speak to your significant other in a manner that resonates with them is key. The 5 Love Languages[8] is a great place to start. The premise of this book and communication model is best summed up by the words of the book’s author Gary Chapman:

“My conclusion after thirty years of marriage counseling is that there are basically five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love. In the field of linguistics a language may have numerous dialects or variations. Similarly, within the five basic emotional love languages, there are many dialects….The important thing is to speak the love language of your spouse.”

According to Chapman, the 5 love languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation: Expressing affection through spoken affection, praise, or appreciation.
  • Acts of Service: Actions, rather than words, are used to show and receive love.
  • Receiving Gifts: Gifting is symbolic of love and affection.
  • Quality Time: Expressing affection with undivided attention.
  • Physical Touch: It can be sex or holding hands. With this love language, the speaker feels affection through physical touch.

Lack of appreciation (taking each other for granted)

This is another one of those things that is inevitable in a long term relationship. You don’t mean to take each other for granted–it just happens over time. Taking each other for granted and focusing on the negatives of your mate or the relationship is detrimental and will keep you in a constant state of unhappiness. Once you’ve been unhappy long enough, you will start to question your level of fulfillment.

An excellent way to actively and intentionally combat this is by incorporating the 5:1 rule into your thinking and communication with your spouse. For every one negative between you, you should find five positives. For every negative comment you should dole out five compliments. This trains your brain to focus on the positives in lieu of the negatives. It also helps you develop and maintain an attitude of gratitude toward your relationship and your mate.

Relationships are tough. They require constant nurturing and attention. Having realistic expectations and a plan to combat the loss of passion and excitement, communication issues and failing to appreciate and cherish one another are the secrets to happily ever after.

Reference

[1] PsychCentral: 8 Surprising Myths About Relationships
[2] American Psychological Association: Marriage & Divorce
[3] Huffington Post: Good Relationships Take Hard Work
[4] Hill Writing & Editing: Are Humans Truly Capable of Unconditional Love
[5] brainHQ: Your Brain In Love
[6] Greatist: Am I Just Bored or Should We Break Up?
[7] Verily Mag: HOW TO COMBAT THE PROVEN 7-YEAR-ITCH RELATIONSHIP ROADBLOCK
[8] lifehacker: The 5 Love Languages
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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing