Is Promiscuity Affecting Your Mental Health?

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What if the good ol’ boys mentality is leading us astray?  Could our hook up culture be the cause of future relational demise?

Researchers are discovering links between the centrality of relationships and our mental health–specifically as it pertains to marriage.

And multiple sexual partners before marriage have a direct correlation to unsatisfying marital relationships.

According to researchers at Marri (Marriage and Religion Institute), mental health and chastity go hand in hand.

We might want to think twice before sowing our wild oats–because it might be the very thing that destroys not enhances our marital future.

Please enjoy this article…

Mental Health and Chastity

In a recent professional seminar discussion on the relational dynamics of chastity and monogamy  with mental health professionals in Arlington VA a powerful concept came to the fore:  the centrality of relationships to the life of each person.  A person’s life is as good as the relationships he or she has formed.  

The most powerful human relationship is that of marriage. One therapist noted: “In lots of our work the marriage is the client. We often treat the marriage not the individuals.”  That this relationship is quite sensitive to the lifelong chastity of the couple was the focus of much of the discussion.

 As the charts on the demographics of sexual partnering were reviewed the conclusion drawn was that chastity is the virtue which gives sex its due. The sexual relationship, fundamental to the continuance of the human race, will go powerfully in one of two different directions: binding the couple forever in love and fidelity or instead leaving the permanent weakness of a bond that ended in rejection.  Chastity leads to the first; multiple partners lead to the second. The following chart shows the percent of stable marriages as relating to the number of sexual partners experienced.

READ MORE

Love is a Choice not a Feeling

Time to Move On

 

When my ex-husband walked out the door into the arms of another woman, my ego tanked.  I felt rejected, abandoned and overwhelmed with two little kids and my family shot to bits and pieces.

It was difficult—at best—to keep the self-defeating thoughts from taking over.

I was shaken to the core and everything I believed about love and commitment and Christian marriage now seemed naive in the face of betrayal.

Looking back, I can see that in the mess of divorce (or a break-up), these emotions are a NORMAL part of the grieving process after a relationship suddenly ends.

The death of a relationship—from divorce, tragedy, or a break-up—leaves us with a bag of emotions we aren’t equipped to deal with.  Anger, sadness and self-criticism can overwhelm us if we focus too much on the what, how and why it all went wrong.

While it’s natural to go through a season of deep inner self-reflection and grief, we are at risk of staying in the bitterness if we don’t forgive, accept and move on. 

At some point, we must confront the death of the dream—acknowledge our loss—and begin to plant the seeds of hope for not only recovery, but FULL restoration.

Here are some tips to move you past the pain and into the vibrant future God plans for you:

  1.  Accept your emotional highs and lows as a normal part of the end of a relationship.  Remind yourself “this too shall pass.” My emotions aren’t the truth but an indicator of my heart and its brokenness and need for the great Healer. 
  2. Love Yourself. God, in his infinite grace, “first loved us” so we could extend love to others.  You are a valuable and worthwhile person.  No man or woman defines your identity.  You are complete in Christ alone.
  3. When you get dumpedexpect to feel rejected.  If you are the dumper—expect to feel guilty.  Find a Christian counselor and work through the facets and failures of this relationship BEFORE you jump into another one.  Remember, you will go into the next relationship with all of your same problems unless you start to deal with them now.
  4. Discover who you are.  Now that you are on your own, figure out how you like to eat your eggs (remember Runaway Bride?) and what brings a smile to your face.  Explore new hobbies, rediscover old activities and embrace the life God blessed you with.  For example: my ex-husband had a bum ankle and many of my favorite activities like roller-blading, tennis and skiing had gone by the way side because he couldn’t keep up.  It was time to pull out my equipment, reclaim my athletic MOJO and head to the mountains and the beach!
  5. Create Community!  Find a group of like minded friends and believers to do life with.  Check out the Point at Mariners Church (shameless plug for my hubs), get involved with serving and initiate relationship. Finding people who understand and support you is like an energy drink for the soul.  We need Jesus with skin on and God gives us one another to carry each other’s burdens and cheer one another on.  Find your team!

Last, if depression and rejection are too big to handle alone, please seek counseling and support.  Divorce Care, Celebrate Recovery, and many other groups will help you through the initial pain.

Your divorce or break-up is not who you are. You are not a victim.  This is one more experience that can help you grow into the person God created you to be!

5 Signs It’s Time to Move On

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The beginning of a new relationship is often a whirlwind of euphoria, emotions and intensity.  The last thing you want to dwell on is the negative.

Why focus on the yucky stuff when the awesome part is so—well—awesome?

But you aren’t naive enough to think any relationship is problem free, right? 

Although, it’s strange how some relationships are easier from the get-go and others face strife right off the bat.

The big question we all face, at some point, in a new relationship is whether it’s worth it to invest in and work on the issues or move on to better prospects. 

When should you work through problems versus throwing up the flag and admitting the partnership simply isn’t meant to be?

(Remember, you are looking for your best match and it only takes one to reach your goal)

If your journey to finding the best relationship is plagued with skirmishes and battles, ask yourself these questions:

Does this person have the 8-10 top qualities I desire?  If the answer is yes, and they have everything you are looking for, then it might be worth it to continue on and get help to sort out the difficulties.  If the answer is no, then consider ending the relationship.

Is this person free from all the negative qualities I don’t want?  Now, we aren’t talking about a laundry list of nitpicky items you can’t stand, but a general list of the 8-10 things that you really don’t want in a mate; for example: dishonesty, stinginess, controlling behaviors, anger issues…Yes?  Move on to next question.  No?  Consider ending the relationship.

Are these minor bumps to work through or big mountainss that signal significant differences? Some problems come up because a couple doesn’t know each other well enough and haven’t figured out each other’s personality, communication style and baseline belief systems. These bumps in the road usually work themselves out over time with understanding and patience. More significant issues arise from distinct incompatibility and extreme contrasting beliefs. These kinds of difficulties mostly likely won’t go away and will only get worse.  If one of you is a follower of Christ and the other is not, these issues will more than likely drive a wedge between the two of you.  Do not expect people to change their fundamental beliefs.

Are your thoughts and opinions given credence? Are you in a safe listening environment where you both feel heard and understood?  You certainly don’t always have to agree with each other, but both partners must be willing to try.

Are you already feeling smothered, offended, frustrated and ready to explode? Generally speaking, if you can’t get along well now, it’s not going to get better.  If you’ve already reached your tipping point by month three, it’s probably time to move on.

All relationships take time to discover and discern if it’s a good fit, but once you know what you want and what you don’t want, there’s no reason to drag a relationship going nowhere on and on. 

What do you think?

3 Reasons to Date Outside the Box

When I first met my husband, he was not my usual type.  Fortunately, I was at a point in my life where I realized my type was limiting my ability to meet a good dude.

I actually had the audacity to say to my now husband on our first date, “I usually date rich jerks, but it’s not working out so hot for me.  I’m willing to try something new, so DAZZLE me with your character.”

And thank you Lord, Tim Keller DAZZLED me with his character!

I am so glad I took a chance and tried something different.  It’s not that Tim wasn’t attractive to me –he was (very much so), but he was a pastor and being a pastor’s wife was not appealing to me.

When people ask me what they can do different to meet the one, I always recommend thinking outside the box. 

Get rid of your pre-conceived notions of types –color of hair, height, occupation, bank account, and unreasonable standards of beauty.  There is nothing wrong with desiring an attractive (to you) spouse, but a super-model or a mogul with deep pockets might not make you as happy as a healthy and heart beautiful man or woman with integrity and humor and intelligence.

Beauty fades, money comes and goes, but true character is a treasure to behold.

Knowing the distinct qualities you want in a partner is one thing, but focusing on a type can hurt your chances to find love. Over and over again, Tim and I notice that those who are discerning versus overly picky are the ones who find a great relationship.

Here are a few tips to Think Outside the Box.

 Say Yes to Different!

Do you usually date skinny blonds?  Ask out a redhead, a voluptuous brunette or dark haired woman.  Are engineers your thing?  Find a gregarious teacher or a soothing therapist?  Shake it up and dare to think about dating differently.  Stop pigeonholing people into categories and start having fun meeting new people.

Date and Discover

Challenging yourself to date someone outside of your box will help you learn more about yourself. Interacting with different types of people will also expose you to new qualities you didn’t even realize you wanted in a mate.

If you want to find a person who’s adventurous, healthy, and committed to fitness, BE that person!  Work on your health to attract health!

Create a Bigger Pool of Fish

Even if you live in a small town, if you widen your pool of people you are willing to date, you will have more options and ultimately –a better chance at finding a relationship.

Remember, you don’t have to date inappropriate people.  We aren’t suggesting hitting the bars or the prison scene, just different income levels and physical characteristics you wouldn’t normally consider.  Hold on to the core values you find crucial and eventually you will find someone who has all the qualities you love!

 

The Pitfalls of Shacking Up

I listened in on –ok eavesdropped to a woman at a café the other day as she bemoaned her daughter moving in with a dude before marriage.  The woman had apparently discouraged her daughter but the girl rashly went ahead (as most young people do) and packed up her bags to shack up with her new man.

The girl claimed she wanted to “test” their compatibility before they invested the time and energy in marriage.

(Reminds me of test-driving a car)

But the problem with this popular view in culture is that relationships are not like buying or trying on a consumer product.  You generally don’t return a dress after you’ve worn it and laundered it for a year or two, right?

But that’s what we do in the “trying before buying” model of dating.

Relationships are built on a foundation of trust and security, so when you destroy the main foundation before you begin to build the structure –you end up with a house of cards just waiting to fall down.

According to research, a trial run before marriage is not the answer for couples who are considering exclusivity.

Nancy Pina –relationship expert and life coach said this, “In my experience as a Christian relationship coach, those who chose to live together experienced a decline in emotional intimacy instead of a strengthened bond.

A new study by World magazine measured feelings of commitment and intimacy for unmarried couples who live together, and found they never achieved the level of closeness married couples enjoy.”

Ouch…NEVER?

Nancy suggests that living together sets most couples up for probable failure, because at that point, at least one person in the relationship is unsure if it should lead to marriage. Instead of addressing their reservation with openness and honesty, the uncertain person agrees to a trial arrangement. As seen in the study, 52 percent of men are not “almost certain” their relationship will last. More than half had reservations about the longevity of the relationship.

(Remember that saying about “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?”)

Marriage brings security –a woman’s greatest need.  Marriage validates responsibilities and expectations within the relationship.

Shacking up is the opposite of commitment.  It is friends with benefits.  It’s an open door policy that allows for flight.  It’s “hey, I’m in as long as you meet all my needs…but if you don’t…there’s the door.”

In marriage, partners have more incentive to learn what pleases each other and they become good at it because they expect to stay together.

“Merely living together is an open question mark because the future is undecided. Cohabitation by its very nature does not promote the same deep connection of mutual trust and emotional vulnerability. Intimacy that is reserved for marriage is cheapened by this experience and cannot be replicated.” states Nancy.

What do you think?

First Date Red Flags

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Ever been on a first date where something seems a bit off?  Maybe your date started crying uncontrollably before the appetizer or licked his fingers at the table with a lusty grin.

And all of a sudden your gut instinct kicks into high gear and a nagging question is raised about their character or integrity.

When a red flag appears, take the time to ask clarifying questions, unless it’s an obvious physical  boundary issue in which case you should run! 

Ten first date red flags:

  • I’m recently divorced. 

This deserves a clarifying question.  “What is recent?”  If your date says, “two years or so,” breathe a sigh of relief, smile and move on in the conversation.  If they say “almost two months” or “actually we’re  separated, but the divorce is almost final” run for the hills.

  • “I’m not really looking for a relationship, just someone to have fun with.”

Newsflash!  You will not be the muse to make him change his ways and suddenly have a new appreciation for commitment.   If you are truly looking for a relationship that could lead to marriage, he or she is not the one.

  • “I’m in between jobs right now.”

While unemployment doesn’t have to mean throwing in the dating towel, generally during a stressful time of job transition, dating takes a back seat to finding a job.  Ask more questions in this scenario.  “How long have you been out of work? What industry are you in?  Do you change jobs often?” 

  • Constant ex talk…

If the main conversation is the ex-girlfriend or ex-husband then your date is still emotionally unavailable.  Move on to someone who is ready to pay attention to you.  Rebound dating stinks!

  • He looks at other women with obvious interest. 

If he’s checking out the options now, you can guarantee he’ll be looking later.  Flee!

  • He/she is mean to the server or tips stingily.

If your date doesn’t give common courtesy and operate with generosity to the people who wait on them, then expect similar treatment in a relationship.  Kind people are kind across the board –no exceptions.

  • They move towards sex on the first date. 

Anyone trying to get in your pants on the first date clearly isn’t thinking “long-term” relationship.  Just say “no thanks.”

  • She’s a diva. 

If she throws a tantrum, complains loudly or shows more drama than a stage production –move on.

  • They over-imbibe. 

Call it nerves (or possibly alcoholism) but if your date gets drunk on the first date they may lack self-control in stressful social situations.  Not a keeper…throw back!

  • Are they obnoxious?  Competitive?  Loud and attention-getting? 

Are you cringing in your seat tem minutes into the date?  It will not get better and unlike a pet that barks too loud, you will have to appear in public with this person (if you are in a relationship) and it will only get worse.

  • Other red flags? 

Depressed, clingy, lives with parents after age twenty-five, has small children that live in another state, works 24/7, takes calls during the date, and can’t remember your name.

Last tip…

Don’t ignore the flashing blinky signals your date is giving off –no matter how pretty she is or how wealthy he is. (We mean it!)

What are some of the RED FLAGS you watch out for?

 

 

Are you a Codependent Dater?

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We throw around the word “codependent” to describe the clingy couple or the woman who makes excuses for her husband’s bad behavior.  But do we really know and recognize the patterns that lead to a codependent relationship? 

What if true codependence looked like some of the bad habits we (gasp!) display in relationships?

“Though there are many different versions of codependence, they all share the same underlying problem: They try to control their partner and they aren’t comfortable on their own.”–Dr. Seth Meyers

I can hear you now…”I’m not controlling, or “I’m not a passive control freak” in dating.  And while it may not be your issue, it couldn’t hurt to ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Were you raised with a family member battling addiction?
  • Were you the peacemaker in a family of contention?
  • Do you try to control your environment –obsessive cleanliness or order?
  • Do you find yourself compensating for other’s bad behavior?

Once we identify the red flags in our past brokeness we can change the cycles that seem to inevitably repeat themselves in each new relationship.

But where do we get started?

Dr. Seth Myer’s Love Prescription deconstructs the patterns of Relationship Repetition Syndrome -what we like to call the insanity cycle- doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The following article shares great insight on codependent couples and how to break these pesky and unhealthy behaviors.

Enjoy…

The term “codependent” emerged as a way to describe the relationship dynamic between an addict and his or her emotional caretaker. For example, Person A has a habit of getting too drunk, passing out, and arriving late to work the next day, so Person B tries to do everything possible to keep Person A on-track. Person B tries to control the behavior of Person A not out of spite or malice but to help keep the relationship functional. The caretaker’s fear is that, without their help, Person B will set off on a downward spiral that leads to more problems – sickness, the end of the relationship, a lost job, or even death.

In a codependent relationship, both individuals are codependent – not just one, no matter how extreme one member of the couple may seem to be. In the example above, the person who drinks too much depends on the caretaker to clean up their messes, both literal and figurative; the caretaker depends on the person who drinks too much to need him or her in order to survive. No one in a codependent relationship is truly happy. When the codependent attaches to someone and the relationship gets bad, the codependent feels unable to leave his or her partner. Instead, he, like all codependents, will stay because the alternative of being alone is too threatening.

See, the M.O. of the codependent is to avoid separation at all costs. This approach requires that the codependent abandon his own emotional needs in order to keep the relationship going. In other words, he loses himself. Over time, the term “codependent” has expanded to include couples in which there is fear around separations and attempts to control each other’s behavior. I will give you another example below of what a codependent relationship looks like.  READ MORE

–Samantha and Tim

For more resources, READ: Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie. Codependent No More is the kind of book that can become your friend, one you can keep on the nightstand and leaf through every few days for a tune-up. The book includes a chapter on anger which is especially helpful, as many codependents swallow their anger and need to learn how to express it appropriately.

Dr. Seth Meyers has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.

Define “Christian?”

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One of the biggest complaints we hear from daters using Online Dating Services is how the category of “Christian” can mean so many different things to different people.

Jenna found this to be true. “My spiritual beliefs and values often make dating a very risky pursuit. I’ve been set up with guys—even ones who know I’m a Christian—who expect me to go along with their lifestyle choices: sex, drugs, excessive drinking, and the rest. Other times, guys find out I’m a Christian and automatically assume I’m uptight and judgmental. The stereotypes get old.” 

Brad chimed in…“I’ve heard Christian dating advice that assumes all Christians are exactly the same. But it’s not as if every believer fits a certain profile. There’s a broad spectrum of what it means for people to call themselves a Christian—from very liberal to very conservative and everything in between. Just because a woman calls herself a Christian doesn’t mean her beliefs or lifestyle choices are the same as mine.”

Truth?  Dating is a DAUNTING adventure.  And it’s confusing and awkward and complex…AND even more so with those who have spiritual beliefs they are not only trying to safeguard but to UNIFY with another.

In a culture of Post-Christian anything goes relativity…Christians need to be pro-active!

5 Tips to Help Christian Singles Navigate Online Dating:

  • Guard Your Heart

A key biblical principle says that what is in a person’s heart determines how that person acts—all the decisions he or she makes, for better or worse. We often focus on behavior—how far is too far physically, what a person of faith should or shouldn’t do in a dating relationship, and so on. But even more important is the recognition that conduct follows convictions and actions follow attitudes.

Solomon wrote, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” Proverbs 4:23.

  • Define your standards BEFORE you date

The time to think through any potentially perilous situation is before it happens. Play the movie out in your mind of possible scenarios.  Think through what hazards lay in your path.  Purity is important, and if it is important to you, take the time to identify potential pitfalls before you start dating (alcohol, late nights, sleeping over).  Fortify your convictions in advance with firm intentions, accountability and a solid plan.

  • Stand Firm

Many Christian singles are hesitant to voice their convictions for fear of being labeled “old-fashioned” or “narrow-minded.” But it’s far better to be up-front about what is and is not acceptable to you in the beginning before you head down a path of compromise.  People respect people who know who they are and who have standards.  If your date disregards your efforts to hold firm to your beliefs, then they aren’t a good match to begin with.

  • Find a Team to Root for You

When facing any obstacle, it helps to know you have support. Invite others who share your commitment to moral integrity to encourage you and check in with you. Find advocates and ask them to watch your back and encourage you to hold firm to your convictions.  They can help you to keep you moving the direction you want to go.

  • Find a Dating Mentor

Search out someone—a pastor, mentor, teacher—whose perspectives and opinions you hold in high regard. Spend time with this person and glean all the wisdom you can. Again, it was Solomon who said, “He who walks with the wise grows wise” (Proverbs 13:20). Good counsel is available to you if you’ll ask for it.

Your Christian faith defines who you are and will play a vital role in any lasting relationship. Protect what matters most to you and date with intentionality.

 (some tips adapted from Neil Clark Warren’s Christian Dating Advice)

 

What 81% of Singles are Not Looking For

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Sometimes we think everyone wants the same things we do.  We ERRONEOUSLY believe people, even good Christian folks, go on dates to look for a lifelong partner.  We think everyone wants a “Happily Ever After.”

Think again.  New research is revealing only 19% of daters are looking for a person to marry. 

Youza!  If this is true, then about 81% of the matches we get online are looking for something else.

Here are the results of the study taken from Top Dating Tips

For me, dating is mainly about….. ? 

1. Love 21% 
2. Marriage 19% 
3. Friendship 8% 
4. Partnership 6% 
5. Sex 19% 
6. Company 3% 
7. Social life 3% 
8. Romance 12% 
9. Conversation 3% 
10. Sharing 6% 
Have you ever dated more than one person simultaneously ?

1. Yes 53% 
2. No 33% 
3. Don’t Know 13%

Would you like to get married ? 

1.) Yes 44% 
2.) No 12% 
3.) Maybe 32% 
4.) Not again 4% 
5.) Don’t know 8%

Where is the best place to meet new people ? 

1.) Bar 18% 
2.) Club 11% 
3.) Beach 4% 
4.) Church 2% 
5.) Social club 4% 
6.) Mall 4% 
7.) Internet 18% 
8.) Work 22% 
9.) Sport 7% 
10.) Other 9%

So why do you date?

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