If you are in a physically abusive relationship, I highly suggest you create a safety plan. A safety plan’s purpose is to have a system in place to keep you safe from harm. Having a safety plan helps increase your safety, better ensures the safety of family members involved, and allows you to remove yourself and others from a violent outburst. The goal is to keep you and others safe from the one who perpetrates physical violence. This is done by having means in place to escape it. The plan makes it easier for you to quickly leave the situation and gain some control over your well-being. Instead of feeling powerless, you gain a sense of autonomy and control over the situation.
Some examples of safety planning for yourself include having an easily accessible backpack full of clothes, documents, and hygiene items for when you need to leave quickly. Examples of safety planning when you have children are teaching kids to go to a safe place in the home, showing children how to call 911, having children go to a trusted neighbor’s house for safety, and having a code word for children to call 911. Some other safety measures are screaming as long and loud as possible, knowing which window is best to escape from, and staying away from any weapons. Another way to safety plan is to find a neighbor you trust about your situation. If you need more assistance with safety planning, you can reach out to your nearest domestic violence shelter or visit the domestic violence support website at https://www.thehotline.org.
Having a grab bag is a critical step in safety planning. It is best practice to have a bag with your possessions in a safe place that is easily accessible in case you need to leave your home quickly. Medications, birth certificates, car keys, ID cards, debit cards, and other pertinent documents should be kept safe. These items are used to gain power and control over you so they should be kept in an area where you know they are and can be easily accessed and taken with you.
It is okay to practice your escape. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do under pressure situations. Plan your escape and practice it. It is never okay to be a recipient of physical violence. When defending and protecting yourself is not an option, escaping the situation is. You can quickly leave by knowing where the easiest exit is and making sure you keep yourself in a ready position to leave a dangerous situation. Be sure you are not arguing in a bathroom, bedroom, or place where you can be locked in or cannot easily escape. Using a code word with your children or neighbors can be helpful to alert people of the impending danger and allow everyone time to prepare to leave.
Children flourish when they are raised in a home where their basic needs are met. A child needs love, boundaries, and support from their parent or caregiver. When needs are not met in childhood the individual has a higher likelihood to have negative effects in adulthood. The outcomes a child will have later in life are largely determined by the parenting style they were raised in. The parenting style will either create healthy results or have a lasting negative impact on the child’s development. Unhealthy parenting styles create disordered patterns and behaviors in children later in life.
The types of parenting styles are as follows: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. Authoritative parenting will have the best results while the other three parenting styles have varying traumas associated with them. Primarily operating from an authoritative parenting style will have the best results for the parent and the child.
Children being raised with the other styles will have a myriad of negative outcomes associated with them. Children raised in homes with neglect are more prone to have low impulse control. They have higher rates of death by suicide, addictions, and involvement in criminal activities. Those in permissive environments tend to become self-centered due to having a lack of rules, governing themselves, and frequently getting what they want. The overindulgent behavior of parents leads to poor social skills, relational problems, and a lack of impulse control in their children. Being raised in an authoritarian home leads to over compliance, people-pleasing, lower self-worth, and aggression.
The parenting styles are below:
Uninvolved parents lack boundaries and leave their children to their own devices. The parents show indifference to their child and they are frustrated by their needs. The child feels rejected and is neglected by the parent. The parents are selfishly motivated and are devoid of warmth, control, and acceptance. The parent who uses a neglectful style is also referred to as uninvolved. The child must fend for themself, create their own rules, and take care of their needs or the needs of their siblings.
Permissive parents are known as indulgent. Permissive parents are caring and compassionate but overindulgent. They have little control because they are more concerned with being friends with their children than a parent. This belief system leads to inconsistent structure and boundaries with their children. They do not want to disappoint their children or have their children be upset with them. They fear setting parameters for their children so they have low demands for their children.
Authoritarian parents lack grace and acceptance towards their children. They have unrealistically high expectations and demand perfection. This can lead parents to become rigid, abusive, controlling, and rejecting. They expect loyalty, allegiance, and blind compliance from their children. To achieve obedience the parent becomes overly strict and critical of their children. Their rigidity leads to a lack of attunement to the needs and emotions of their children. They tend to be distant, emotionally unavailable, selfish, manipulative, and rarely take responsibility for their actions. If a child has a complaint towards the parent they will either deflect, make excuses, guilt, invalidate, or blame others for the issue at hand. Since they rarely acknowledge their negative behaviors, apologies are few and far between. If they do apologize it is empty or blame is attached.
Authoritarian style parenting can also involve overly strict religious attitudes. This can lead to children developing perfectionistic attitudes, or a critical inner voice. They tend to mistakenly view the voice of God as critical as well. They may believe they have to be perfect before they can be accepted by God. Authoritarian parenting is also called disciplinarian.
Authoritative parents can nurture, love unconditionally, and be emotionally warm while maintaining structure. They have open communication where boundaries are clear, consistent, and expressly stated. If rules are broken the children are disciplined with natural and logical consequences. They teach life skills and allow their children to establish a healthy level of independence. They are responsive to the needs of their children and have reasonable expectations for them as well. They can have structure, consistency, and boundaries that are not rigid. They follow through with what they say and create an environment of stability for their children. The kids feel safe to express themselves and know their needs will be met.
Being an authoritative parent is the healthiest parenting style to use. Those who grow up in an authoritative environment have higher self-worth, greater performance in school, and develop age-appropriate social skills. They also are known to have fewer mental health issues and instances of delinquency later in life. They can develop higher self-esteem, social skills, self-control, and independence. They are also warmer with others and have more contentment with their life.
The term generational curse can sound strange or make you uncomfortable. This phrase is typically used in Christian spheres and can also be referred to as historical trauma or intergenerational trauma. In Christianity, a generational curse is described as the consequences of an ancestor’s sins, thoughts, religious practices, and behaviors showing up in a later generation. In psychological terms, a generational curse is labeled intergenerational trauma. Intergenerational trauma occurs when unprocessed issues become internalized and passed down from one generation to another. Another psychological term used for a generational curse is historical trauma. Historical trauma is the compounding of wounds accrued in your life and the life of your ancestors. This trauma can be emotional, psychological, physical, mental, spiritual, or unresolved grief. Each of these terms is defined the same way. An issue has been left unresolved and passed through the generations through modeling. The trauma will manifest itself in the system when it remains unprocessed.
It is common for parents to treat their children the way they were treated. Even though something feels normal it may not always be healthy. To break out of the generational pattern it is critical to process the unresolved grief from the past. If there was something your parents did that you did not like address it and change it. When you have unaddressed trauma it can manifest into a loss of identity, low self-esteem, poor coping skills, mental illness, hypervigilance, and difficulty forming healthy relationships in adulthood. These unhealthy defenses and interactions are unfortunately passed down to your children if the trauma is left unprocessed.
As a child, you look to your surroundings for social cues on how to interact with the world around you. The behaviors modeled in the system are picked up and internalized by you as a child and considered normal. If you witness unhealthy love you will be attracted to unhealthy relationships because it feels normal.
If a mom silent treatments her husband, a daughter will typically silent treatment her significant other or allow silent treatments from others. A child will either exhibit or accept the same behaviors they witnessed in their adulthood relationships.
You can expose your family’s generational curses by completing a genogram. A genogram is a psychological family tree that reveals patterns and family dynamics throughout the generations. It also shows a transmission of emotional issues down to children. It is structured like a traditional family tree but adds relationship dynamics, patterns, psychological disorders, medical conditions, miscarriage, alcoholism, divorce, and more. The relational dynamics point out trends in emotional cutoffs, abuse, cohesiveness, domestic violence, conflict, affairs, death by suicide, neglect, marital conflict, and more. You can even see if there is a higher propensity to birth a male or female offspring. The point of a genogram is to better understand yourself, your family, and the patterns surrounding you. Once you can acknowledge an issue you can begin to change it.
Common issues such as shame, infidelity, unforgiveness, promiscuity, low self-worth, self-hate, anger, addiction, absenteeism, poverty, physical illness, fatherlessness, mental illness, sexual trauma, and abuse pass from one generation to the next when left undealt with. Traits such as bitterness, being closed off, mistrust of others, racism, negativity, pride, insecurity, pathological lying, codependency, victimhood, and self-sufficiency can be generational patterns as well. Anything can become a generational pattern or issue. If other people in your family line have struggled with what you struggle with it is generational trauma.
It is so important to break generational curses. When you can acknowledge how pervasive a problem has been you are more able to face it and make changes for the better. If there are unhealthy familial patterns present they can be broken with you. It only takes one person to change a dynamic. You can break the curse by dealing with the unresolved wounds and trauma you carry. Once you reconcile your past hurts you can pass down generational healing, blessings, and healthy patterns to others.
When you can walk in freedom you can lead others down the same path. Just as trauma can pass through the generations, so can blessings. When you walk in freedom you can model health to others. You cannot take the generations after you further than you have taken yourself. Your journey of health not only affects you but the lives of the people you are surrounded by.
Our self talk is so important. They way you see yourself is the way you allow others to treat you. When you can walk in self-love you no longer allow others to disrespect you. I have made it a daily practice to repeat affirmations over myself I truly believe. It takes 1000 times to repeat something to yourself before it becomes true.
Are you repeating positive or negative things to yourself? Pick out a couple affirmations from the list below to start speaking over yourself.
I… I have a choice. I have a purpose. I have a voice. I have the capacity to grow. I deserve love. I do not have to prove my worth. I do not have to put on a fake face. (It is okay to not be okay).
I AM… I am deserving. I am okay as I am. I am loveable. I am significant. I am strong. I am capable. I am good enough. I am loved. I am intelligent. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am disciplined. I am valuable. I am valuable enough to make myself be heard. I am someone’s blessing. I am complete in God. I am called by God. I am set free. I am worthy. I am worthy of love. I am worthy of respect. I am worthy to be cared for. I am a good person. I am a new creation. I am a force to be reckoned with.
I CAN… I can succeed. I can be healthy. I can make my needs known. I can learn to trust myself. I can learn to trust others. I can learn from this. I can let go. I can have healthy love. I can love myself. I can choose whom to trust. I can do things on my own. I can be trusted. I can safely feel my emotions I can choose to let it out
A goal in the healing process is to replace the core wounds you have been carrying. A core wound is a trauma inflicted on who you believe you are as a person. The core of you signifies who you are in the center of your being. There are three common categories of wounding which are the feelings of being unworthy, inadequate, or unlovable.
When a traumatic event occurs and you are unable to reconcile and process it a core wound develops. For example, if you misspell a word during a spelling bee and everyone laughs at you that is traumatic. If you are unable to say you are worthy regardless of the misspelling and you will do better next time a core belief is created. The belief of being inadequate will follow you throughout your life until this first event is addressed and reconciled.
You hold the collective traumatic experiences and core wounds that developed from those experiences. It is paramount to learn to identify and process those triggers and traumas so you will be able to respond to the world healthily. Learn to reparent yourself by challenging and replacing negative beliefs you have held about yourself.
The words said to you in childhood will become your inner voice. It is up to you to rewire those thoughts with new ones. Do not just live with negative thoughts, challenge, and replace them! You can download CBT thought records online to help you write out and process your thoughts.
The process to challenge a thought is as follows: find what event activated your emotions, uncover the negative automatic thought about the event as it happened, the feelings and behavioral responses from the situation, and what evidence makes your automatic thought true and untrue.
The most important part of challenging your thoughts is to weigh them up against the evidence. More often than not there is not enough evidence to support the way you are feeling. Many times you interpret out of your hurt or core belief about yourself. You do not take time out to put the thought on trial and test it out to see if it stands up. After challenging your thought you will discover a newer and healthier way to feel about yourself and the situation.
When you can challenge your thoughts you are better able to free yourself from frustration and other negative emotions. I will give a personal example below.
Growing up and even into my adulthood I struggled with feelings of inferiority and invisibility. I was unconsciously carrying the weight of inadequacy and found myself continuously being triggered by it. The true gravity of how this influenced me came to a head when I was at a local gas station years back. I was walking into a convenience store one day and the gentlemen in front of me let the door shut behind him, nearly hitting me in the process. I was irate! I was completely flustered and brooding about how rude he was. I had to take a step back and process my emotions and I found where the trigger lied. Once I processed my emotions I understood where the true hurt was coming from.
I utilized the CBT technique below to process what happened. The point of the exercise is not to excuse the behavior but to depersonalize it. I encourage you to use this practical tool to process when you are having an emotional shift. The CBT thought record formula looks like this:
Activating event: The person did not hold the door open for me and it almost hit me in the process.
Evidence that supports the automatic thought: He did not hold the door open for me.
Evidence that does not support the automatic thought: We never made eye contact so I cannot say with confidence he did see me. I was greeted by the clerk when I walked in. I have friends and associates I keep in touch with. Other people acknowledge me. He did not give me a dirty look or seem in an aggravated or aggressive mood towards me. He was moving quickly inside the store.
Newer healthier thought: He was in a rush
Newer healthier emotion: Calm and neutral
The point of this exercise is to externalize what happened to you instead of feeling like you are a flawed person. Many times individuals will feel they did something wrong or there is something innately wrong with them. It is best practice to realize not everything is about you. Sometimes the person is having an issue in their own life and is either projecting onto you or is not cognizant of what they are doing. The more we can rationalize our thoughts the better we can see things for what they truly are.
Circular conversations are very common if you are in a relationship with someone who is a narcissist or has narcissistic traits. Circular conversations are just as it sounds; the conversation goes nowhere and feels like it continually loops around the same point with no resolve. This is a communication strategy employed when a narcissist or toxic person feels offended by what is said or is called to the table for negative behavior. This typically happens when a grievance is brought up and the listener feels too shameful to admit any fault. They begin feeling guilty and imperfect and do not know a healthy way to deal with those emotions. They begin fault-finding as a way to project the negative feelings they feel about themselves onto others.
The receiver is not willing to listen, be accountable, apologize, or change. They are eager to move on from the topic by using any means necessary. They use defensive strategies such as deflecting, making excuses, turning it around on you, calling you sensitive, or apologizing for the sake of moving forward not for the sake of the effect it had on you. Circular conversations also include denial of emotions, minimization, manipulation, and willful forgetting. Furthermore, making excuses and acting like a victim are additional techniques used to deflect. The purpose of victimization is to make the listener feel guilt or feel bad for the speaker. The goal is to get you to excuse the behavior or lay off.When this happens, you may end up going into fix-it mode. You caretake for the hurt of the toxic individual while forgetting or pushing down your own needs. This is unhealthy because it is not your problem to fix.
A narcissistic or toxic person is keen on using your emotions against you. A condescending tone and mocking are tools utilized in circular conversations to get you emotional. The point is to frustrate you, get you off your game, and to have you blow up. They will eerily remain calm while they jab at you. They escalate you to the point of your outburst. When you get upset at the comments and escalate, they use your anger against you. They will tell you to calm down or point out how you cannot control yourself.
This is a ploy to change the subject, make it about you, or get you to stop talking.The purpose of all these toxic maneuvers is to avoid dealing with the conflict at hand. You give up on the conversation and leave feeling confused, hopeless, defeated, and frustrated. This result is ultimately the goal. The hope is that you start to feel so defeated and drained you no longer approach conflict. They are free to act how they want without accountability. You begin to think talking about your problems is pointless so you internalize them. You become accustomed to not talking about issues and begin stuffing your feelings to keep the peace. There can only be so much intimacy in a relationship if you cannot openly talk to each other.
A goal is to throw you off your game and not talk about the topic at hand. The person can try to confuse you with semantics and wordplay. They can also poke holes in what you are saying and act like they do not understand your point. If you walk away from a conversation and ponder what in the world happened, you were in a circular conversation. You no longer want to talk and drop the conversation, which is ultimately the goal. Often you walk away from the conversation feeling confused and think you potentially did not see things the right way. Which is a form of gaslighting and manipulation.
When something happens enough times with the same outcome you have learned to become classically conditioned. Therefore, you summarize bringing up issues as a waste of time because they go nowhere. You would rather enjoy the rest of your night so you stuff your feelings and say nothing. Unfortunately, the result is more resentment and frustration. This ends up creating more tension inside of you and for the relationship. This leaves a wedge in the relationship and more unresolved issues to carry. You must learn to navigate the tactics and bring up your needs assertively.
Disengaging from circular conversations
Do not engage in a conversation with a toxic person if you are angry or tensions are high. Make sure to gauge your frustrations throughout the conversation and disengage from the conversation when you reach a threshold. Everyone has a window of tolerance for what they can handle before being triggered. Male sure you keep your conversations below the window of tolerance and ask for a time out when you feel the conversation start to derail or you feel yourself becoming emotionally charged. This technique does not mean you abandon the conversation but respectfully ask for a beak until you can come back at a certain time when you are levelheaded. In addition, you want to point out what is happening assertively.
For example, you can say, “I see our conversation is going in circles. I would like to take a time out. I would like it if we could come back and talk about this when I am calmer in thirty minutes.” This helps you to feel more empowered and in control of your emotions and the situation. You may think what if they do not respect my time out. The time out should have a non-verbal signal or cue for each person to mutually agree upon before conflict. This time out should be taken before either party goes past the window of tolerance. If both parties are still within the window of tolerance the time out will be respected. When you leave a conversation and pick it back up when emotions are settled this starts to place a boundary on your conversations.
In conversation with an individual who talks in circles, it is best practice to know your main point and facts. When the person tries to deflect, bring the conversation back around to the main point. For example, I can see how my leaving the door open can be frustrating, but I want to continue talking about how it felt when I was left at home alone. You can validate the person even further by saying you are willing to talk about the issue they brought up later just not at the moment. Resolve the issue at hand and do not move into caretaking for the issue the person brought up over your issue.
The best tip to eliminate circular conversations is to employ the “No J.A.D.E technique. This acronym comes from Alcoholics Anonymous as a tool to use with toxic people. This mnemonic device is to remember to not Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain yourself. If you find yourself engaging in any or all of these behaviors you are playing into the pathological dynamic.
We all walk around with a God-shaped hole in our hearts. It is the start of a new year and you may be asking who you are? This could be the year you find your calling, experience purpose, and pursue a life worth living. If you have spent time giving to others it is easy to know what others need yet neglect yourself. This year take time out to discover who you are! Ask yourself some of the questions below to discover you. Have a blessed and wonderful new year!
I blogged a while back about The Sound relationship house. I added more information and wanted to share it below.
The sound relationship house was created by Dr. John Gottman. The house encompasses all the qualities a healthy relationship should have and maintain. He created the template by studying the relationship patterns and conflict styles of couples during conflicts. Due to his extensive study, he can predict the dissolution of the marriage of a couple with a high percentage of accuracy based on the conflict style of the couple. He found the four unhealthy communication patterns in relationships are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Contempt is the number one predictor of divorce and relationship termination.
Dr. John Gottman’s sound relationship house gives a picture of what a steady and healthy relationship looks like. The house explains what encompasses the metaphorical foundation, pillars, and steps that go into creating a stable relationship. Seven relational skills build off one another and two pillars which keep the relationship stable. In the visual model of the house trust and commitment represent the pillars of the home. Without these two components, a relationship will be unstable and eventually crumble and fall. If you have built a home before you know that the process takes time, is rewarding, yet has some stress.
I use the house as a therapeutic tool in my counseling practice. This instrument is helpful for couples who frequently engage in arguments, have perpetual issues, poor communication skills, infidelity, parenting conflicts, financial problems, or emotional withdrawal from one or both partners.
Dr. John Gottman points out there are two significant questions people in relationships have for their significant other: “Are you there for me?” and “Am I your number one priority?” Individuals want to be ensured they can count on their partner and no person or thing is more important than them, besides God. A major source of contention in couples occurs when priorities have gotten out of sync. Men tend to put work as a priority while women tend to place kids first. In a healthy relationship, God is first, your spouse/significant other is second, and everything else follows.
In a healthy relationship there must be trust and commitment, the ability to know each other intimately, share fondness and admiration, turn towards each other instead of away, a positive perspective of each other, are capable to manage conflict, can make life dreams come true, and create shared meaning.
Trust and commitment are foundational pillars in every relationship. You want to have security that your partner is not going to leave you or be unfaithful. There is an innate need to want to ensure you will not be rejected or abandoned by your significant other. When you know your partner is committed to the relationship trust is the natural outcome.
You want to know you are each other’s number one priority and you can count on them to be there for you.In a Christian marital relationship, God should be number one and your spouse should be number two. If kids, work, friendships, or family of origin come before the partner or God the relationship is not in its proper order. When things are out of order the natural response is chaos.
Trust is formed when you feel you can be heard and accepted. You believe you have a safe place to be yourself and unguarded. You also can be vulnerable without it being lorded over you. Along with this, you can feel the person has your best interest at heart and not operating out of selfish ambition.
To know each other intimately you must first build love maps. This is a foundational step in building a friendship and knowing each other well. I have met many couples who move so quickly they genuinely do not have a chance to get to know the person on a deeper level. A love map is the ability to know what is going on in the other’s world: their likes, dislikes, what their current stressors are, the names of friends and coworkers, and more.
This may sound very basic and obvious but some couples I see cannot name their partner’s favorite movie, music, or hobby. These couples tend to feel their partner’s world is off-limits and believe secrets are being kept. Unfortunately, they begin to feel like roommates or strangers in the same home. It is vitally important to get to know someone before you begin dating. Getting to know more about and date your partner should be an ongoing process throughout your relationship.
Never stop dating and getting to know your spouse or significant other. A date should not include what needs to get done or updates on the kids, it should be time to intimately connect. This is not a time to be taskmasters, it is time to keep it fresh and do something fun. Frequently in marriage, the spouses feel like they no longer need to try or get to know or pursue their spouse. With this mindset, you are bound to start feeling disconnected and eventually like roommates. Therefore, building a foundation of knowing each other on a deep level and making it a priority to continually check-in is essential in stopping relational drift.
After getting to know your significant other you can begin enjoying more things together. In addition, you become better able to affirm each other due to being more in tune with each other’s emotions and needs. Therefore, you are able to share fondness and admiration. Conflict feels solvable and perpetual problems can be discussed calmly rather than talking in circles, blow-ups, and stuffing feelings. There is increased relational intimacy due to feeling heard, accepted, and understood due to healthy communication skills being developed.
The ability to turn towards each other instead of away is an important factor in healthy relationships. Dr. John Gottman states everyone has “bids for attention.” These bids are conscious or unconscious attempts to draw others around you into your inner world. For example, if I stub my toe and I exclaim, “Ouch!” I would be making a bid for attention. I am not saying ouch for my husband to pity me or get his affection; it is simply my reflexive response to pain. However, my husband has the opportunity to accept the bid to join my world or reject it.My husband can accept my bid by turning to me and asking, “Are you okay?” or he can reject it by not acknowledging what has happened and continue scrolling on social media. A telltale sign a relationship is in an unhealthy state occurs when there is so much resentment, distance, and lack of emotional connection each person begins losing touch with what is going on with each other.
When you feel validated, seen, feel like part of your significant other’s world, and can trust your partner it becomes easier to think about your significant other more positively. You view your relationship more positively and can be more open, committed, and safe. You see the good in your partner and give them the benefit of the doubt when a problem arises. There is more grace given because you see them in a positive light.
According to Dr. John Gottman, a healthy relationship should have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions with each other. Thus, for every one negative interaction, there should be five positive ones that occur. Being able to properly manage conflict has multiple components. The first is being able to accept the influence of your partner. When your partner makes a suggestion it should not be instantly met with shutting it down. It should be taken into consideration and analyzed before giving a response. You should think about what you and your partner have to say has value.
The second major component of healthy conflict resolution is being able to dialogue about perpetual problems instead of getting hung up on them. Since the vast majority of relational problems will remain unresolved it is important to be able to discuss those issues. You can successfully talk about an issue when you can listen without judgment, blame, deflection, problem-solving, or butting in. Furthermore, you can reflect back what was said rather than combatting perceived discrepancies. Because you are listening to hear and understand there is a greater ability to depersonalize what is being said.
A pivotal step in the sound relational house is being able to establish coping skills for yourself as well as having the ability to soothe your partner. To adequately manage your stress levels and negative emotions self-soothing practices should be part of your daily routine. When you can remain calm and neutral the conversation has a greater likelihood of going well. You also keep yourself out of your stress response reaction: fight, flight, freeze, or fawn.
Do you match your partner’s intensity and escalate with them or do you seek to calm things down? Instead of adding fuel to the fire, it is healthy to de-escalate. It is okay to take a purposeful time out and reconvene when each person has had time to cool down. You can set a time to meet back up during the same day to discuss the matter at hand. During the time out you make it a point to cool yourself down rather than hype yourself up by rehashing the argument and digging up the past. This time should be taken to take a step back and bring your blood pressure down. This can be done by going for a walk, reading a book, prayer, and more. It is a good idea to set up a safe word or nonverbal cue to use when things are escalating. Having a nonverbal cue, such as putting your finger on the tip of your nose, can signify a time out is necessary as well.
The final stage for couples is to make life dreams come. With the ability to connect and grow they can plan for the future. Because the relationship has more hope and security they feel more able to build something together. Couples move into this step when they can agree on the roles, rituals, and goals that govern the relationship. They have the skills to support each other’s dreams, goals, and aspirations. The relationship is characterized by believing in each other, supporting each other’s dreams, and are truly there for each other. They do not have competing interests and can create shared meaning due to being on the same page.
The objectives in the relationship line up and are not rejected, competing with each other, or threatening. Healthy communication, conflict resolution, commitment, trust, and distress tolerance has been built. You have a higher sense of purpose and meaning in the relationship because there is hope for the future. There is a deep sense of trust established. Each person is committed to the relationship and a sense of safety is achieved.
Once you create shared meaning it is essential to continually work and improve on the skills you have. Maintaining a healthy relationship takes consistency and continual effort. Think of a relationship like a muscle, you cannot work out just once and expect it to grow. You have to continually work it out, sometimes with added pressure or weight. If you stop working out your muscles they will eventually atrophy. The same goes for your relationship. However, this will not occur if you establish consistent rituals of connection and always prioritize your relationship. When you have created a sound marital house you will be able to better cope with stress, manage issues as they arise, handle conflict, and dialogue about perpetual issues. Do not become complacent when you create shared meaning. Always pursue your partner and make it a point to connect with t and date them to keep the relationship strong.
I wanted to leave you with some scriptures to meditate on. You can repeat them word for word or you can personalize the scripture by placing your name in the scripture. Replace negative thoughts with scripture.
“Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:12-14, NIV.
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” – Psalm 31:24, NIV.
“So we say with confidence: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” – Hebrews 13:6, NIV.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147: 3, NIV.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28, NIV.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5: 22-23, NIV.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2, NIV.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” – Proverbs 31: 25-29, NIV.
“He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.” – Psalm 18:33, ESV.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7, NIV.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9, NIV.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1, NIV.
“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” – Song of Solomon, ESV.
In order to know what a healthy relationship constitutes we have to know what it means to be a healthy adult. There are so many broken people walking around trying to make themselves whole by being in a relationship. Healthy adults can feel good about who they are as people. They are able to feel satisfaction in the things they are doing. With this satisfaction comes giving their all to the cause. A scripture I hold near to my heart is Colossians 3:23. “And whatsoever youdo, do it heartily, as totheLord, and not unto men; American King James Version And whatever youdo, do it heartily, astotheLord, and not to men”. I try and make sure that no matter what I do I am putting my best foot forward with no slack. Along with doing their best they are able to enjoy common, everyday things. They are okay without having excitement and chaos, and can be okay in the still and mindful moments. They are able to be mindful of right now without judgment and not focusing too heavily in the past or present. Along with this, they are able to plan for the future and not fear it because it is unknown. They are able to set realistic goals instead of self-sabotaging and setting themselves up for failure. They are able to honor themselves and make decisions by themselves. A healthy adult knows enough about who they are and what they want that they do not need the affirmation of another to take steps. They have positive coping skills set up and use them when needed. In this they are not overcome by their own emotions. They have distress tolerance and emotional regulation skills for depression, anxiety, anger, guilt, jealousy, and love. When disappointments come they are able to overcome them and move through it rather than getting stuck. With these skills you feel you are adequate to solve your problems. These are just some of the characteristics of a healthy adult. Being healthy does not come overnight. The journey is a process that will come with highs and lows. However, as long as you are progressing that is what you should hold onto. Do not reach for perfection, try and grow every single day.
It takes time to become a healthy adult. What are you doing to become the best version of yourself?