Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Joy versus Happiness: Where to find them

Joy is what we experience from things, activities, and even adventures.  But true happiness comes from relationships.

Joys are passing.  That’s why we are constantly seeking new joys.

True happiness, by contrast, is marked by a deep sense of peace or contentment, which in turn is dependent on feeling safely connected to other persons by whom we feel loved and love in return.   These other persons may be family, friends or God . . . and to some degree, even pets.

Here’s the proof.   A person who has experienced great joys in his collection of mementos, cars, or travels does not receive comfort on his death bed by asking for the things or distractions that gave him joy.  He receives comfort by asking for the people in his life who were the source of his true happiness.

Here’s another proof.   No one who feels entirely isolated from meaningful relationships is happy.   Loneliness is the antithesis of happiness.  The lonely may experience joys, but they are not happy.  They do not feel socially connected and socially rooted.   We are all psychically built to be social creatures.  When there is a lack of sufficient social connection we are not fully the social beings we are meant to be and therefore lack a fullness of happiness.

In short, we can only find true happiness in relationships with others.   Indeed, it can be argued that the whole purpose and meaning of life is to develop relationships and thereby understand and mirror that Divine relationship which is the very nature of the Trinity. One of the ways we are made in the image and likeness of God is to be in relationship with others like ourselves.

From these insights we can see that key to experiencing and deepening true happiness in our lives is to focus on nurturing our relationships with others, including God, parents, siblings, spouse, children and friends.

Everything you do to nurture and restore relationships (including seeking and offering forgiveness, comfort, and support) will contribute to your happiness and the happiness of others. 

From this same line of reasoning we should also be aware that the temptation to seek individual joys in things and experiences, especially at the expense of our relationships, is like overindulging on sugar at the expense of good vegetables and protein.   Whenever our pursuit of joys lead us to neglect our relationships, this will diminish our happiness, not feed it.   So be careful of pursuing the excitement of material joys at the expense of your relationships.

 

Wanted: Leaders not Tyrants — What Women Want in Men and How They Can More Likely Get It

Women are attracted to confident men.

Indeed, confidence is the most commonly listed qualities report wanting in men.  Moreover, even the physical characteristics of an attractive man are ones which suggest manly confidence, strength, and an ability to lead.

On some level, this sign of confidence also reflects an ability to protect, provide, and lead a family.

But there are delicate balances at stake.   Leaders are valued, but beware of tyrants.

Men, or women, who “naturally” appear to be strong leaders may in fact be tyrants–pressing their wills forward with a sharp focus that looks like leadership but is really self-focused, closed-minded narcissism.   Dictators may be perceived as leaders, and do serve the role of leaders in many governments, businesses, associations, homes, and relationships . . . but once they are discovered to be dictators, they are usually not the men women wish they had married.

by Elvert Barnes, Creative Commons

While husbands should certainly avoid being tyrants, it still remains true that most wives want a husband who is a leader.  More specifically, they desire a husband who is closer to the ideal of a servant-leader, one who seeks the good of everyone and is often willing to forego his own desires and preferences because of that desire to “lead by example,” including by examples of generosity.

The irony is that a good servant-leader, especially early in relationships, may not be perceived as a “leader” precisely because he is seeking to understand his partners needs and desires before making decisions.

The dilemma this creates for confident women is well described in a blog post by Evan Marc Katz:  If You Want to Date A Confident Leader, You Have to Let Him Lead.

While Katz fails to offer much in the way of solutions (like I hope to do), it is still a very interesting read.  Go ahead.  Go read it.  Then come back here.

One of the striking points in the Katz article is that many confident, successful women are tired of making decisions all day and would welcome their date simply choosing what restaurant to go to without having one more consultation.   This sets them up for being more intrigued and impressed by men who are really prone to be dictator types w

ho know what they want for themselves and figure its up to women to adjust if they want to be part of “his life.”   The problem is that this form of self-centeredness may appear to be confidence, which is attractive, in the dating stage but is later seen as, well . . . self-centeredness after marriage, which is not attractive. Read the rest of this entry »

Marriage is Supposed to be a Struggle?!

 

If you think your spouse should ALWAYS make you happy, I feel sorry for . . . your spouse.

Sure, the desire to make you happy should be high on your’s spouse list of priorities.  But you go too if you think your spouse’s responsibility to make you happy.

Take a moment to view the coin from the other side.photo by Tavallai--cc flickr

Can you always make your spouse happy?

No.  So how can you expect more from him or her?

Even if your spouse could “always make you happy,” would that truly be a good thing?

Probably not.  It would far more likely just make you increasingly narcissistic and more of a pain in the ass than you already are!

If it’s not good for your own spouse, siblings, children, or pets to always get their way, why would it be good for you?

Marriage is the Best Path to Self Improvement

Despite all the romantic hopes everyone harbors about finding a soul mate or perfect match, the reality of human nature is that we are all imperfect and therefore imperfectly compatible.

Lori Lowe’s essay We All Married The Wrong Person describes research that shows that there are no perfect matches, and perhaps not even any great matches.  Instead, there are matches of imperfect people who greatly work at becoming better and more tolerant. Read the rest of this entry »

Marital Expectations — Ingredients for Marital Intimacy

 

Be wary of stereotypes.   They often hold elements of truth, but not the whole truth.

Stereotypes about men and women, for example, may be helpful starting points in discussions because there are true differences in men and women.  On the other hand, since there is so much variation between individuals, both men and women, stereotypes often don’t apply to particular individuals or couples.

Acknowledging that caveat (and with your promise of tolerating the following over generalizations), let’s see what we might learn by contemplating a couple of stereotypes.

(1) Men want sex more often than women.

(2) Women want conversations more often then men, especially about topics (and in feeling terms) which women experience as especially meaningful.

So, man meets woman.  They fall in love.  They promise to marry with the expectation that their spouse will dispel the loneliness  in their lives by giving them the security of (a) a sex partner forever and (b) someone to converse with forever.

Put another way, they are looking for sexual security and emotional security which are distinct but very intertwined.

Typically, for men satisfaction of sexual desire produces feelings of emotional closeness.  For women, emotional closeness produces feeling of sexual desire.

This is why women want to be romanced before sex and also why men have a tendency to want to move quickly toward sex . . . not just for the sex act itself but for the afterglow of emotional closeness which sex is the shortcut to.

So part of the “mismatch” between men and women is that while they both want true intimacy, which is both emotional and physical, they have a natural tendency to want the first steps to be down their own preferred path . . . emotional for women and physical for men.

This difference can lead to unintended hurts.   A wife can feel emotionally hurt and used when the husband neglects to emotionally warm her up before sex.   Conversely, if the wife refuses a “quicky” because her husband has failed to romance her, or she just doesn’t have the time, he is going to experience rejection.   Not just a rejection of sex, but rejection of emotional intimacy with him.   He, after all, is seeking not just sexual release but profound emotional intimacy. . .or at least a short cut to it,  especially in the afterglow of sex.

So remember this fundamental principle:  both husbands and wives want intimacy.  Deep, profound intimacy.  But they often see different paths to greater intimacy.  

While they both want sex and conversation in the mix, it is likely that they each want sex and conversation in different proportions.   Add on top of this the fact that either spouse, feeling that one’s desire for intimacy (verbal or physical) is being rejected feels like a rejection of one’s very self.

Read the rest of this entry »

Unconditional Love. What is Your Unilateral Promise to Your Spouse?

Marriage vows are intended to bind us to our spouse even and especially when we no longer feel like we want to be together, much less bound together.

Marriage vows are a reminder that promise to love someone is an act of the will, a decision to bind one’s will to the process of trying as best as one can to expand, renew, or even restore feelings of love . . . even when there is a drought of such feelings.

Following is a letter from a husband to a wife in the midst of marriage counseling.  At the time it was written, they had not had physical intimacy for over two years, and she was balking at plans arranged during a counseling session for them to go on a second honeymoon. Read the rest of this entry »

Wise Words to Ponder

 

  • “Marriage consists in forgetting what one gives, and remembering what one receives.” — Anonymous
  • Happiness is nothing more than good health and poor memory” — Albert Schweitzer
  • “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” — G.K. Chesterton
  • “God didn’t create us to see through each other, but to see each other through.” —Anonymous
  • “The ego is that which is in love with the self and with the self alone.” — Donald DeMarco
  • “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” — Oscar Wilde
  • ‘Love is the irresistable desire to be irresistably desired’ —Robert Frost
  • Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. ~Leo
    Tolstoy
  • We can do no great things, only small things with great love.  ~Mother Teresaby palegoldenrod Flickr CC
  • No man stands so straight as when he stoops to help a boy.  ~Knights of Pythagoras
  • “Strictly speaking, will power belongs to fantasy, and willfulness belongs to psychopathology; but willingness belongs to the world of real values and real people.” – Donald DeMarco in Architects of the Culture of Death
  • “One cannot make others good by dominating their wills.” — Richard Purtill
  • I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.  ~Mother Teresa
  • “It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” –Antoine de Saint Exupéry
  • “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.” – Abe Lincoln
  • “Good parents give their children roots and wings. Roots to know where home is, wings to fly away and exercise what’s been taught them.” — Jonas Salk
  • “When a woman behaves like a man why doesn’t she behave like a nice man.” — Dame Edith Evans
  • “We have all had experiences that wounded us deeply and caused us to react to certain situations in certain ways.   But we can change . . . to become better-versions-of-ourselves . . . . Mediocrity is almost always accompanied by attitudes of entitlement and victimhood.  The first step toward becoming a dynamic choice maker is taking ownership of our faults, fears, and failures.”–Matthew Kelly
  • “Love is never something ready made, something merely ‘given’ to man and woman, it is always at the same time a ‘task’ which they are set. Love should be seen as something which in a sense never ‘is’ but is always only ‘becoming’, and what it becomes depends up on the contribution of both persons and the depth of their commitment.”  ― Pope John Paul II, Love and Responsibility

ARTICLES TO READ

Joy versus Happiness

Joy is what we experience from things, activities, and even adventures.  But true happiness comes from relationships.
Joys are passing.  That’s why we are constantly seeking new joys.
True happiness, by contrast, is marked by a deep sense of peace or contentment, which in turn is dependent on feeling safely connected to other persons by whom we feel loved and love in return.   These other persons may be family, friends or God . . . and to some degree, even pets.
Here’s the proof.   A person who has experienced great joys in his collection of mementos, cars, or travels does not receive comfort on his death bed by asking for the things or distractions that gave him joy.  He receives comfort by asking for the people in his life who were the source of his true happiness.
Here’s another proof.   No one who feels entirely isolated from meaningful relationships is happy.   Loneliness is the antithesis of happiness.  The lonely may experience joys, but they are not happy.  They do not feel socially connected and socially rooted.   We are all psychically built to be social creatures.  When there is a lack of sufficient social connection we are not fully the social beings we are meant to be and therefore lack a fullness of happiness.
In short, we can only find true happiness in relationships with others.   Indeed, it can be argued that the whole purpose and meaning of life is to develop relationships and thereby understand and mirror that Divine relationship which is the very nature of the Trinity. One of the ways we are made in the image and likeness of God is to be in relationship with others like ourselves.
From these insights we can see that key to experiencing and deepening true happiness in our lives is to focus on nurturing our relationships with others, including God, parents, siblings, spouse, children and friends.
Everything you do to nurture and restore relationships (including seeking and offering forgiveness, comfort, and support) will contribute to your happiness and the happiness of others.
From this same line of reasoning we should also be aware that the temptation to seek individual joys in things and experiences, especially at the expense of our relationships, is like overindulging on sugar at the expense of good vegetables and protein.   Whenever our pursuit of joys lead us to neglect our relationships, this will diminish our happiness, not feed it.   So be careful of pursuing the excitement of material joys at the expense of your relationships.

Unwise Words to Ponder:  “He is learning to love me unconditionally, under all my conditions.”

Okay, the is not a recommended way to approach relationships.  In fact, it’s just an ironic line from Amy, the deeply troubled, manipulative, self absorbed, murderous sociopath in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn describing her triumph over her husband.

But sadly, Amy’s line may actually reflect a bit of truth about how both women and men may sometimes view some victory in getting what they want.

Describing her husbands “reform” following her manipulations, Amy is proud to declare:  “He is learning to love me unconditionally, under all my conditions.”

Now stop a minute and think about this.

Do you have conditions on accepting your spouse’s love?  If so, are they perhaps actually obstacles, rather than aides, to his or her giving you the unconditional love you really desire?

And vice versa.  Is your spouse erecting conditions around accepting your efforts to love him or her which are undermining your ability and desire to love him or her unconditionally?    If so,  is there some way for you to help him or her see that these conditions are counterproductive?

Conditions on love are actually the antithesis of unconditional love.  Surely we need to encourage and strive for unconditional love.  But putting conditions on it is a sure fire way to thwart it.

 Research Notes:

  • A retrospective study found that couples who argued about money early in their relationships — regardless of their income, debt or net worth — were at a greater risk for divorce.  (Read more at Psychcentral and Huffington Post.
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