Take the Love Style Quiz!

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Like it or not, when we enter into marriage with someone, we bring baggage. Some of us bring LOTS of baggage. All our past hurts. All our struggles. So many of those come from our past and how we grew up.

You may have heard of “The 5 Love Languages” and you can take the quiz to identify YOUR personal “love language” RIGHT HERE. Up until now, that quiz was one of my favorite tools to help couples grow closer and for marriages to really thrive. I mean it is so important to love someone the way that they want to be loved. Empathy and understanding are crucial to any marriage.

I think I have now found a tool that may be more effective than even the love languages in understanding your spouse. It’s called the LOVE STYLE QUIZ. When you can identify your own “love style”, you can start to work on those deep seeded issues that continue to plague you and your marriage. What’s more, when you discover your spouses’s “love style”, you can empathize with them as they work on their own issues.

What’s cool about the quiz is that it not only helps you identify your “love style”, but it also offers tips and resources to help you deal with all that baggage from your past. So, go ahead and take the quiz RIGHT HERE. And in case you are wondering, my predominant love style is “The Pleaser”.

You knew I had issues, right?

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The 1 Skill Needed In Most Marriages

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I just finished reading a fantastic article from Phil Carson at Connectedmarriage.org on the importance of empathy in marriage. Empathy isn’t just important to the health and success of a marriage, it’s critical. Seeing things from your spouse’s point of view helps to grow a level of compassion, trust, and intimacy that you might not have together otherwise.

Scripture tells us to:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15 (NIV)

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

So, what’s the best way to keep the “bond of peace”? Empathy.

In the article Phil outlines 4 key ways we can increase empathy in our marriage. I would encourage you to read the entire article, but here they are, in a nutshell:

1/Effective Validation: Phil says the point of validation is to be able to understand and to feel your partner’s thoughts and feelings.

Everett Worthington explains that there are three levels of empathy**

Level 1: Understanding – You understand the point of view of the other person.
Level 2: Emotional Identification – You feel with and think with the other person.
Level 3: Compassionate Empathy – You feel compassion for the other person as well as emotional identification.

2/Understand Your Partner’s Past: Phill says it’s so important for couples to identify their emotional triggers and how they came about. For instance, I suffered a good bit of emotional abuse growing up, and as such I tend to be overly sensitive to personal criticism. That’s probably the reason my LOVE LANGUAGE is “Words of Affirmation”. My wife, Leanne, understands this and she’s quick to praise me when I do well, and affirm any accomplishment of mine. As well, she understands when her words may hurt me without her intending them to.

Phil says that when we understand our partners emotional triggers, it helps us both to manage how we respond and how we react. It produces compassion.

3/Use a Journal:  When couples have built up a great deal of resentment and anger, Phil says, forgiveness is always a step in the healing process. When you are hurt deeply, write it in a journal. Writing down thoughts and feelings can help you to process your hurt. Processing your hurt can lead you to compassionate empathy. Compassionate empathy, in turn, helps with the deeper hurts to move the person towards forgiveness.

4/Switch Sides: The goal of empathy,  Phil says,  is to experience the world from the other person’s feelings and thoughts. It doesn’t mean that you agree with their actions, but it can help to increase compassion. So, how do you put yourself in their shoes? You can switch sides in your expression of thoughts and feelings. For example, pick out a specific incident and write a letter to yourself from the perspective of your partner. I could write a letter from the perspective of my wife. I could include in it my wife’s thoughts, feelings and motivations. Putting yourself into their perspective can be very healing. It’s true even if you don’t get actually get it right. It can help to see a specific incident through their eyes.

That perspective will build empathy.

 

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**as cited in Levenson and Ruef, 1992

 

5 Ways to Be Selfless This Year

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Take a minute to think.

Think about all the problems in the world.

Now, think about all the problems in your life.

Chances are, what causes most if not all of those problems?

Selfishness.

All the quarrels, all the fighting, all the discord, all the conflict in the world can usually be traced back to one thing.

Selfishness.

Now, flip the script.

Think about how different the world would be if we all starting putting others first. Wouldn’t we start seeing FEWER quarrels, fewer fights and less discord?

So, how do we starting putting others first? How do become truly “selfless” in this selfish world? Here are five ways:

1/Practice gratitude. When you learn to truly appreciate all that you have and all that you have been given, you unleash a powerful ability…the ability to bless others. Really taking the time to count your blessings can fill your heart so much that you can’t help but put others first.

2/Learn to forgive and forget. To err is human right? Aren’t we all human? Haven’t you hurt others? Then why not forgive? The selfless person sees the situation from the other person’s perspective. Everyone has a reason for why they do what they do, right? When you can start to try to understand where that person is coming from, you can start to forgive them. Besides, God sent His only Son to die a painful death on the cross so that you could be forgiven. If He did that for you, shouldn’t you try to forgive others too?

3/Widen your horizons. Being selfless starts with seeing beyond your personal concerns. If you’re constantly consumed by your own problems and situation, you won’t have the time or energy to act selflessly. Having a greater awareness of the world is the first step to becoming more selfless. Listen when other people are talking. Yes – really listen! Don’t let your mind wander when someone is confiding in you about his or her troubles, or telling you an exciting story. Watch what’s going on around the world in the news. Sympathize with those who are suffering.
4/Consider other people’s feelings. If you understand how someone else feels, you’ll be more likely to feel empathy for that person. Try to put yourself in the other person’s situation. If you were the one experiencing the problem, how would you feel? How would you want to be treated?

5/Really Invest Yourself in Others. Again, take the time each day to really sit down and listen to at least 2 or 3 people. Ask them what’s going on in their life. Get them to open up to you. Be there with a listening ear, an attentive heart, and make them feel like they are the most important person in the world.

It really doesn’t take alot to be more selfless. We just have to be willing to put ourselves, our situation, and our concerns aside, and focus on others. That’s what makes life worth living. What’s the old saying? “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

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How to “See The Good”

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Remember when your parents (or maybe your grandparents) said “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” How many of us have used that same line countless times on our children? I know I have.

There really is so much wisdom in that simple little order, isn’t there? I mean, think of all the verbal and written trash we’re exposed to everyday, both in real life, and in virtual life via social media. The current political landscape just throws gallons of gas on that dumpster fire, right? But, when it comes down to it, if we could all just remember what our parents told us when we were kids, the world would be such a happier place.

Really, what it boils down to is taking the time to see the good. See the good in others. See  the good in a given situation. I’m in the process of reading through the 10 scrolls in Og Mandino’s famous book “The Greatest Salesman in the World”. Each scroll, which contains wisdom for the ages, is to be read 3 times per day for 30 days. Two times quietly at breakfast and lunch, and one time aloud before retiring at night. This discipline allows for the formation of permanent habits.

I’ve been reading and re-reading scroll # 2 entitled “I will greet this day with love in my heart”. After numerous readings, what sticks out to me about the formation of a continually loving heart is this: We need to see the good.

Quoting from Scroll #2: “Henceforth, will I look on all things with love. I will love the sun for it warms my bones, yet, I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due, yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.”

See how the writer encourages us to look for the good? The sun may be scorching hot, but we love it for it warms our bones. The rain may drench us, but it can also cleanse our spirit. The darkness may scare us, but it shows us the stars. Even obstacles are not hindrances, but mere challenges. It’s all a matter of perspective, right? We all know that we can’t control things like the weather or our circumstances, but we can certainly control how we think about them. And when we get into the habit of looking for the GOOD in things, we, and the world are much richer for it.

Later on in the scroll, we read: “I will love all manners of men for each has qualities to be admired even though they be hidden. I will love the ambitious for they can inspire me. I will love the failures for they can teach me. I will love the meek for they are divine. I will love the rich for they are yet lonely. I will love the poor for they are so many. I will love the young for the faith they old. I will love the old for the wisdom they share.”

There is good to be found in everyone, even the failures and the poor. We just have to stop and think,  and we’ll find them. Instead of reacting with our mouths, we should react with our minds. Just take the few moments to empathize with people. Everyone has a story, right? Just take the time to stop, think, and see the good. There IS good in everyone. There IS good in everything.

We just have to take the time to see it.

**Excerpts taken from “The Greatest Salesman in the World” Copyright 1968 by Og Mandino 2012. Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada by Bantam Books, New York, New York

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