LIFE FLIES BY....BUT YOU ARE THE PILOT!
January 1, 2013
Today you open your new book. It's binding is hard and the pages are crisp and white. You look down anxious to begin the journey....you are on page #1. You flip to the end of the book and you note that there are 365 pages....each page blank.
That is correct- you are the author of your story. No one else can write it. No one else can dream it. No one else can tell you what your story should say.
What then will your story, the next 365 pages of your story, say? What do you want it to be? New Years resolutions don't typically work. You don't want your story to be of a goal that was not well thought out...not sustainable. A goal that is never met. You don't want your story to be one of meaningless days, of exhaustion, of intention without action. How do you need this story to go? What do you need to change? Your habits? Your attitude? Your perspectives? Your goals? Your priorities?
So many talk about what is not working in their lives , without looking at what they can do to change that. So many can tell you what they value in life, but they do not live that value out into an action.
Do you want many of the pages of your book to be meaningless? Or do you want each page- each special and limited page- to have value and meaning?
We have a chance everyday that we are blessed to wake up in the morning, to make our day the best it can be. We have a choices everyday...how we are going to treat others ?, how mindful we are going to be of the relationships around us ? , how well we are going to take care of ourselves?, and what do we want to present to the world around us by our attitudes? Smiling and being joyful throughout the day, can make yourself and everyone around you feel better. Being grumpy...well you know what that does. We can wake up daily with goals and some intention about how we want our day to go.
We can treat every clean, crisp, white and limited page in our new book as a precious canvas.
What will you write on your page today? Tomorrow, you will have only 364 left...treat them all well.
Life is precious. Life is short. Relationships with others are all that ultimately matter in the end.
Treat your new precious 365 pages carefully.....and thoughtfully. You will love your " book " at the end.
WISHING YOU A BLESSED AND BEAUTIFUL 2013
Jodi Ghelli , MSW,LCSW
WHEN HAVE YOU DONE ALL YOU CAN DO???
As a marriage counselor, I find myself often in a place of being asked to help a couple “save a marriage”. I often feel like an emergency room physician who is being called to a code. Often by the time couples seek help for their marriage, it is almost too late. Hostility is high, resentments abundant, and trust non-existent. I find myself exhausted after a day of doing “chest compressions” on marriages. Like the ER physician, to some clients I am a hero for helping and others I have to call a “time of death”, and tell the couple there is nothing more I can offer. These are heavy days for me since I always want to preserve a marriage if the marriage can be healthy and happy.
When does a couple know they have done all they can do and find peace in that decision?
There is no easy answer, but what one needs to explore is whether or not they are trying to change their spouse’s core personality. Behaviors can change, but personality should not and cannot be changed. One must also explore why they married their spouse? Was it for the right reasons, (love, friendship, compatibility…), or reasons that just seemed right, (same faith, dating or cohabitating for many years, comfort and complacency, family expectations). It appears for many of my couples, the person they married had all the bullet points they were looking for in a spouse, and they thought they could become attracted to him or her, or thought being annoyed with one another was normal. Many enter marriage believing they can change the other. So many of my couples have no positive role models to refer to for a healthy and truly compatible and healthy marriage. They talk about parents who always argued, or parents who were great parents, but they cannot speak to what they parents marital relationship was like. Marriage is important, and so many stay unhappily married for years or life- leading our young people to believe this is all we should expect from marriage. If a couple enters marriage with that framework, they will most likely not only chose the wrong mate, but be very, very unhappy.
A couple discerning divorce needs to seek professional advice. They need to learn how to hear each other’s needs, how to communicate and problem solve effectively. If a couple attends counseling and one or both are unable to accept one another, love one another, and are not willing to do what it takes to make their spouse happy - the marriage can most likely not survive. A couple needs to be “ in love” for a marriage to work…Love is simply not enough. We love many people in our lives - marriage has to be different.
I often see that couples are unable to be “ other centered”, that is, seeing things from the other persons perspective, wanting the other happy, empathizing with the other. Again, if this is not possible in a marriage, then the relationship cannot survive.
If a couple is unable to make needed changes, if they want a better marriage, but are not willing to change the way they have been doing things, then the marriage will most likely not survive.
If there is abuse or control issues - the marriage will not survive.
If there is disrespect, anger and hatred - the marriage will not survive.
If one or the other does not truly love the other person, but simply needs them, the marriage will not survive.
If one or the other is unable to be honest, the marriage cannot survive.
If one or the other is staying in the marriage because they are scared of divorce or disappointing others, the marriage cannot survive.
You must be able to say “I am in love with my spouse”, “I like my spouse”. You must never be tempted to disrespect or be mean to your spouse. How can a marriage work, if you don’t like one another??
As you may have noticed, infidelity, substance abuse, addictions, money issues, unemployment, poor health, annoying behaviors, etc, are not mentioned. I have seen many couples over my 19+ years of practice with very serious issues webbed into the marriage. If these couples truly love another (for the right reasons), are willing to change, are willing to accept their spouse, are concerned with making sure their spouse knows they love them, and are willing to be a true team and partnership - they will most likely have a “ happily ever after”
It is always my hope; prayer and desire to see every couple that enters my office end up with a “Happily Ever After…”
Jodi Ghelli, MSW, LCSW
NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION? IS IT IMPORTANT IN MARRIAGE?
Many people know that communication is essential to sustain a good marriage...but what about non-verbal communication? Is that important?
Non-verbal communication is ESSENTIAL in sustaining and maintaining a good marriage. Of course, verbal communication is important - but if you do not FEEL loved...then having your spouse tell you they love you will fall on deaf ears.
Making your spouse feel loved, they way they need to feel loved...every day...habitually is essential.
How do you do that you ask? Good habits! Habits that stay with you no matter how busy or crazy your life becomes...habits that become so ingrained that if they "go away" , they will be noticed and the marriage will have a wake up call before it is too late.
Here are some of my ideas for maintaining good non-verbal communication. Actions that say " I love you"...even when I don't say the words...
1. Always kiss each other goodbye when you leave each others presence.
2. During the course of the day- reach out to your spouse- let them know you are thinking of them. ( text, phone call, surprise card or lunch...)
3. Always ask yourself on your way home: " what does my spouse most need from me when I arrive home today/tonight"? Stop and think of your spouse...it will change things!! :)
4. Always greet and kiss your spouse when they arrive home or when you arrive home
5 Always ...and I mean ALWAYS...go to bed together!! There is no excuse for not going to bed at the same time when you in the same home together. This is a non-negotiable. There WILL be a time when you hug your pillow instead of your spouse when they are gone....don't waste the precious time you have now! Going to bed with your spouse shows them you care...you want to fall asleep and wake up in their arms. This time may be your only opportunity all day to talk, feel the comfort of each others embrace, or maybe even some intimacy!! :)
6. DATE NIGHTS!! ( see my article from June 2008) It says it all!!
HOW TO STAY SANE DURING THE "HAPPIEST" TIME OF THE YEAR!
The holidays bring bright lights, jolly Santa Claus, carolers, apple pie and family. Many things that define the holidays are typically defined as “happy”. Then why are so many people uptight, stressed and depressed during this season? Why do so many feel like they need to “fake it” through the holidays?
The answers are simple. Money needs to be spent that we do not necessarily have, family that we may or may not really “like” are around, time to shop, decorate, mail cards and attend parties is short. If these are the truths of why the holidays can be difficult – I ask you – what can change this year? Ask yourself- “What do I want the holidays to be like this year?” “What would make me peaceful and happy?”
These changes are necessary and possible. Change is not always easy- but it can bring great joy. If traditions or expectations are changed - others may be disappointed - that needs to be o.k. Your peace and sanity are more important. We only have one chance at this life- make it what you want it to be.
Sanity during the holidays is subjective. What one finds stressful, another may not. In order to have a truly fulfilling holiday- you have to be honest with yourself. How much can you afford to spend? How many parties are you willing to go to? What are your expectations and therefore disappointments? Preparedness in thinking is a key component to this change. Think about these things before the craziness hits. It is important not to just “ride the wave”.
If you start to feel yourself getting overwhelmed or stressed, ask yourself if you are truly doing what you want this holiday season? If you feel you are not - you have one choice if you want peace - change…..
Jodi Ghelli, MSW, LCSW
STEPS COUNSELING CENTER, LLC
The Importance of Dating When You’re Married
The importance of dating when you are married-of course- that is dating your spouse I am referring to!
Dating for the single person is a “mating ritual” of sorts. It is to find a mate – simple. When you are married it is absolutely essential that you “date” your spouse.
Married people tend to not make time for one another- they often work long hours and spend weekends running errands or try to have “family” or “friend” time. Well...what about “us” time?
So many couples complain that they feel distant or disconnected from their spouse….I ask… “What are you doing to find connectedness?”
Dating is a very important time that speaks so loudly about what you mean to your spouse. Protecting your time, planning your time and enjoying your time together are amazing gifts to one another.
Dating your spouse is important for many reasons. Dating gives you time alone, it gives you time to enjoy one another as man and wife- rather that a father or mother, etc. Dating each other allows you to appreciate one another- how beautiful/handsome your spouse is, how funny they are, how fun they are….things we so easily take for granted or forget.
Dating your spouse must be consistent and habitual or else it will not happen, there are so many valid reasons to “put it off”.
Dating your spouse must be a date outside of your home- there are too many distractions at home and easy ways to lose focus of one another.
Dating your spouse must be just the two of you- this is not a family date or a time to hang out with your friends- this is for you two. Remember when you were first dating- it is doubtful that you had the whole family and a group of friends along on most of those dates….why now?
Dates must be to places or doing things that are new and different. Don’t always go to a show and dinner or to the same restaurant you often frequent….remember these are supposed to be fun and exciting.
I often suggest to my clients that they switch every other date night who plans the night and comes up with the idea of what to do. This can bring a beautiful freshness to the relationship and often helps you learn more and more about your spouse.
Dates do not have to cost a lot of money….please do not use that as an excuse to not spend time together.
Dating your spouse is absolutely imperative to a happy and successful marriage. Feeling “in-love” with your spouse doesn’t just happen – you need to not ignore the marriage or each other in order to continue that feeling. Working long hours, not sharing meals, going to bed at different times , and never having alone time for you as a couple are certainly not ways marriages will be successful.
The excitement and joy you felt on your wedding day should still be in your heart and soul today- but it will suffocate under that daily exhaustion and grind of everyday life.
Who is your spouse? When is the last time you really enjoyed his/her company? When is the last time you laughed with your spouse? When is the last time you looked forward to being alone with your spouse? Just the two of you…for as long as you can steal away….
Here are some ideas for dates that I have compiled…..I hope they help you stay in love with the person you said “I do” to!!
1. Dinner theaters
4. Meals at new and fun eateries
5. A picnic
7. Horseback riding
9. Going to that fun amusement park your kids love- WITHOUT YOUR KIDS!!! (Shhh – they’ll never know!)
10. Window shopping (not running errands or shopping for things you need- that is not a date!)
11. A night at the zoo
12. Playing games at a local coffee shop
13. Taking in some free concerts at local parks or coffee shops
14. Going to a local park and walking and swinging on the swings
15. Go dancing
16. Comedy clubs
There are so many things you can do; please don’t make excuses because your marriage will not accept continual neglect- it will die……
Jodi Ghelli, MSW, LCSW
Steps Counseling Center, LLC
FAMILY : AN ENDANGERED "SPECIES"
When we think of "family", many feelings and thoughts may come to mind. Some think of "family" with joy ,and others, sadness. The preservation of a healthy family is an essential society "cause" in today’s culture.
Family is where children are taught what marriage is. Will your children grow up to believe that you fall out of love after some time in marriage , or will they say, " my parents adored each other"? Family is where a daughter learns to expect to be cherished and loved in marriage- " because that is how Dad treated Mom". Take a moment and think about whether or not you might want your son or daughter to marry someone like your spouse or yourself- because that is the kind of partner they will think is "normal". Marriages are the backbone of family- and the functioning of the marriage not only sets the tone of the family function , but will effect generations to come. A child who knows a healthy marriage will choose a healthy partner. A child who knows a loving family , will expect the same in raising their family.
It is within family that children learn kindness,love,compassion,acceptance of self and others, patience and generosity. It is within family that children learn hate, jealousy, selfishness, hurt, anger and gossip.
Families need to be protective of TIME. In a society of everyone priding themselves on running a "rat race"- the family loses and gets the "scraps left over at the end of the day". Are you a happy and fun person all day- with strangers, and then have nothing left to give to your family but exhaustion and frustration? This needs to change or the word "family" will continue to evoke sad thoughts for generations to come.
Saying "no" to the competition of who's child is involved in more sports, or what family has more "season passes" than another is slowly destroying families. Family vacations that have parents dragging around tired children and trying to get their "moneys worth", do not create positive memories.
Take a moment to think about your current marital and family functioning.....
Do your children see your marriage as loving and kind? Do your children see you and your spouse as "in love" and "best friends" all at the same time?
Do members of your family talk about more important things than when an assignment is due or what is for dinner?
Is the family dinner hour the "yelling hour"?
Do members of your family scatter to different rooms and activities in the evening?
Protecting marriage and family isn't easy- but it is a job that we must love and take seriously.
Here are a few suggestions for family and marriage enrichment....make them a habit, a ritual , and ultimately beautiful memories......
1. Have a date night, ( outside of your home- without children-just the two of you!), at least 1x/month.
2. Hug and kiss your spouse before your greet your children- after all- it did start with the two of you.
3. Compliment your spouse in front of the children- do not vent to your children about your spouse - or put them down in front of your children
4. Have a "family night" 1x/week. ( ie: Friday night is pizza and a movie, or game night)
5. Have a family dinner- every night possible. Ask each other questions about the day- really listen...
6. Cook together, clean together, laugh together, play and pray together
7. Slow down- enjoy one another
8. Be as kind to the people in your home as you would to those outside your home. ( Nicer if possible!)
9. Take a close look at whether or not all members of your family are enjoying all the sports/activities and running around you may do every weekend
10. Consider passing up that big amusement park vacation and take time as a family to do quality time activities that allow for talking and getting to know one another. ( camping, fishing, hiking,....)
11. Constrain yourself from talking negatively about others in front of your children- be respectful and kind. Your children will learn from you, and may someday not be kind or patient to you in return.
12. Say your "sorry"...to your children, your spouse,etc. ( take accountability for your mistakes if you expect those around you to)
13. Leave positive notes for one another- notice if most communication within your home is joyful or is it negative and nagging?
14. Find a hobby/activity/ministry that you all can enjoy- volunteering as a family and being involved in your church and neighborhoods is a wonderful enrichment for families.
If someone was observing your marriage and family - what goes on within your home- would they be able to SEE love?
To feel that you love someone and to show it are two very different things........
Jodi Ghelli, MSW, LCSW
Steps Counseling Center, LLC
Owner and Independent Psychotherapist