Disappointment in Love and Marriage?

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The only life worth living is a life you are truly and honestly passionate about.
Albert Einstein.

When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you’re sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship. Joseph Campbell

If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.
Yogi Berra

Here are three examples of love and romance going south. Think about what they have in common and how you might advise a friend:

Brian: You want to leave? Just like that?
Sandra: Well, you know, we just fell in together. You needed a place to stay and I offered you a room. It’s not working for me now.
Brian: It’s been two years; I thought we were doing great.
Sandra: Well, I’m thinking that I need a change.
Brian: “Wow, I thought you loved me.”
Sandra to friend: Sharing expenses and sex were nice but I’m just not into Brian.

My take on it: Don’t assume that you know your lover. Ask where he/she is headed.

What do you think? How would you advise a friend?

What about this situation?

Ella: “Turn off the T.V. We need to talk.”
Michael: “Just a minute, the Redskins are about to score!” (Redskin fans know this is really important.)
Ella: “You’re always watching TV; we need to talk. Now!”
Michael: “Why?”
Ella: “I want to get married and have a baby.”
Michael: “What? With me?” (Confounded)
Ella: “Yes, you. Why not? It’s been two years.”
Michael: “I like it this way. I’m not into marriage and children.”
Ella: “You never told me that?”
Michael: “You never asked.” (And, he goes back to the game. After all, it’s the Redskins.)

My take on it: If you really want children, or anything else, you better ask your lover before you’re really attached emotionally.

What do you think? How would you advise a friend.

Henry: “Hi honey. Thought I’d call and let you know what happened at lunch. A brilliant idea came to me as I was drinking my coffee. I’ll get home as soon as I can but, again, I may have to work all night.”
Mary: “What, again? I might as well be single. It seems like you’re spending more and more time at the lab.”
Henry: “ Science is demanding. But, my invention could revolutionize my business – and our life!”
Mary: “I didn’t get married to go to bed alone and bring up our children by my self! Maybe Ken from daycare can stay with the children while I go to my garden club meeting tonight.”
Henry: “Ken who?”
Mary: “Oh just a man I met at daycare. He likes the kids and seems safe.”

My take on it: Before you marry get it straight about time devoted to work and time devoted to personal life.

How would you advise a friend?

So, what do think these examples have in common?

I see lovers making –

Assumptions
Unilateral decisions
Reactive responses

What do you see?

I believe that assumptions and unilateral decision-making will almost certainly lead to disappointment among lovers. You can’t know what your lover wants without asking. “Where is this relationship headed” is a very good question.

Living together, sex, even marriage, can give you the feeling that you’re a couple without there being any verbalized commitment to how you’ll live as a couple. You may give your all only to find that for your lover –

The in-love feeling wasn’t there or died.
He/she is looking for someone better.
A permanent live-in lover is scary.
Etc.

Consider inviting your lover to share his/her hopes, dreams, and expectations and share yours. This along with planning can avoid much in the way of assumptions, unilateral decision-making, and disappointment. Compassionate, loving, articulate people can honestly share their hopes and dreams and determine whether they want to commit to a shared future (marriage).

Of course there is an alternative to talking things out – never commit yourself to anyone or anything; just drift along and see what happens. Maybe true love is a myth.

But, the result could be this –

You: “This place makes me feel young again!”
Friend: “Are you nuts. There’s no one here over twenty-five. It’s a pickup joint. Have you forgotten how old you are and that I’ve been happily married for twenty-five years.
You: “We’re not two old for this place. Let’s see what happens.”
Waitress: “Hi pops. Lose your daughter?”

Actually, years of drifting may not look so pretty. It’s the clearest path to loneliness in old age. (You may not care about that now but you will.)

Commitment to someone, commitment to worthwhile work, and looking forward to something positive in the future all lead to contentment.

I wish you the very best that life has to offer.

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Lonely? Waiting For Love?

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Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Mother Teresa

Loneliness is painful.

  • You want love, affection, and companionship; not loneliness.
  • You want to live with someone; not alone.
  • You want someone available for conversation, outings, etc.; not, “When can we get together?”

So what do you do while you’re waiting for that special person?

You remember, “Living alone doesn’t = loneliness?” It’s true. You can live alone and not be lonely. It just takes work.

True, living alone isn’t as convenient as saying to a husband or a wife, “Let’s go get some pizza.” You have to make calls, get ready, and get out of the house. It does take energy, persistence, and determination. But, living alone doesn’t = loneliness.

You may ask yourself, “Is it worth the effort?” All that calling and planning and then your friend opts out at the last-minute and you find yourself thinking unkind thoughts. You may even use a few words of a religious nature. Of course it’s irritating when people don’t follow through. But, my training and experience says it’s worth the effort to support healthy relationships.

You really need to get out of the house.

  • You need the positive energy that good people bring with them.
  • You need people to help you celebrate and mourn life’s events.
  • You need to hug and be hugged.

You’re free, of course, to retreat to the recliner, chips, and TV. It’s convenient and comfortable. Who doesn’t enjoy a good movie or a good book – especially if it’s a dark, rainy, miserable day? You really don’t have to do anything with friends. You can sit at home with your pets.

But, as I stated in the previous article, you suffer when you don’t accept life as it is for us humans. The truth is that you’re a biochemical electrical creature who’ s energized by good people. You actually really need good people in your life.

You may wish you were self-sufficient but actually life is too beautiful and too terrifying for that. Both wonderful and horrible things happen on planet earth. You need to travel with a group to celebrate good times and to find solace when difficult times arrive.

It all comes down to, “What are you willing to do?” What are you willing to do to keep yourself positive and healthy?

My professional, and personal, experience leads me to recommend your being proactive in at least three major ways:

  • Be ready to date so that you’re open to a new compatible person. For example –

Be social; stay used to being with people.
Don’t give in to anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Get help if you need it so that you’re a positive person.

  • Develop and support loving supportive relationships as a single person so that you’re being loved as you are. You’ll do better if you’re not starved emotionally.
  • Robotically get yourself to events where it’s possible to meet new people around your age. Go whether you feel like it or not. Act like a robot who’s programed to go out.

You may not feel like doing any of these things and of course you don’t have to. However, isolating leads to depression, then to anxiety, and then to even more depression and anxiety as you realize how alone you really are. Your friends drift away. Family doesn’t find you very inviting. Few people are attracted to depressed and anxious people; they’re emotionally draining. It eventually comes down to you and your pets and even your dog may not seem as excited to see you. But, your life doesn’t have to come down to this.

Here are a few things that elevate mood and energy. –

  • Use music, religious faith, beauty, and meaningful work to energize you.
  • Buy an affectionate pet. Petting, touching, is good for you.
  • Use meditation to increase your ability to connect with yourself, others, nature, and God.

Passively waiting is rarely a good strategy. Give yourself a chance. Be ready so that if the right person shows up you’re emotionally there. Why should you use lose a good opportunity and let someone else enjoy the relationship?

You’re not alone! Family and friends can still give strength and courage. Groups give helpful ideas and encouragement. Physicians, professional psychotherapists, and counselors work to decrease depression and anxiety and help people stay focused on their goals. Support is available. Be courageous and get the help you need.

Here are my main points –

  • A single person need not live a lonely life.
  • It always takes an effort to stay connected with people.
  • It’s worth the effort.

If you’re feeling lonely ask yourself –

  1. What’s my next step so that I’m loving and enjoying people?
  2. How can I get myself to do what I know I need to do?
  3. What help do I need?

I wish you the very best.

Feel free to comment on the article in the space below. You can email me at cmosemann@cox.net if you have any questions.

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I Like Christmas

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Photo by Christian Mosemann

Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.
Washington Irving

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

To me, Christmas means beautiful lights, music, food, and laughter; the look of anticipation in the eyes of young children. My church will have it’s Christmas breakfast. We’ll sing the wonderful old traditional songs. Our minister will remind us of our reasons to be hopeful and that giving blesses both the receiver and the giver; that love and compassion still exist and that we can, with help, be transformed into compassionate, loving people.

But it can be a lonely time of the year. Avoid loneliness by joining people who are helping those in need. Find a way to help a religious group or a community organization assist those in need. Let them enjoy Christmas too. Consider the gifts and abilities you have and what the community needs from you. You’ll feel more connected as contribute. It feels good to contribute to the well-being of others. Isolation only leads to bitterness.

The focus of the season is still love, peace, and giving. You can be part of this. You can choose to compassionately love and give to others. The amazing thing is that we can choose to give no matter what our circumstances might be. You can know that you connected, helped someone else, and in the process, helped yourself.

Christmas is a reminder that we can find beauty and good in this world of ours. May you have a truly merry Christmas.

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Photo by Christian Mosemann

Love

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© Oxser | Dreamstime.com – Dogs Couple In Love Photo

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. Lao Tzu

The first duty of love is to listen. Paul Tillich

The course of true love never did run smooth. William Shakespearee

Have you thought about love lately? My wedding anniversary is in June and I’ve been thinking about what it means to love as a husband. I grew up with St. Paul’s writings on love including “love never gives up.” The never giving up seemed like a pretty high standard. Today it still seems like a high standard but perhaps something to consider in our day of consumer marriages and marriages of convenience which can result in abandonment.

I’ve found that love relationships are an opportunity for me to acknowledge my weaknesses, understand them, and find a healthier way to act. I tend to overreact when I think that I deserve more –

Affection.
Affirmation.
Security.
Safety.
Power/control.

I can feel a sense of suffering when I recognize I’m not in total control of my life.

Our partners need everything we need – affection, affirmation, security, safety and influence. Managing our weaknesses allows us to freely, joyfully and humbly give. At times our partner needs us to freely, compassionately, give sacrificially because of their need. And, we may suffer as a result.
But, love always does include suffering because we care. Suffering allows us to better understand ourselves, our life, and to develop our integrity, our moral character.

Think about whether this might be true for you. Reading, mentors, the church, and therapy help me find ways to handle my weaknesses so that I can be a kind, compassionate, loving partner. Some of these ways might work for you. Especially, consider a mentor; someone who has the love and respect of their partner and children.

Gratefully accepting the love of God, family, friends, and pets allows you and me to feel accepted and loved. Gratefulness, awareness of the magnificence of life, gives us the ability to love generously. Joy and serenity seem to flow from gratefulness and love. So, freely receive the gift of love and pass it on to another.

Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.

Mother Teresa

Forty-eight Years of Commitment – And Still Going

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9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm [alone]? 12 And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4 ASV, The Bible

Commitments are a big deal. I was concerned about commitment right before I married my wife. I really wanted to be with my fiancee. Still a lifelong commitment is a daunting one.

My fiancee and I belonged to the same Christian denomination. Neither of us had close relatives who were divorced. The members of our churches seemed to stay together for life. They all kept their marriage vows – together for better or worse; no other sexual partners; till death do you part. And, they seemed to be okay with their arrangement. That was encouraging.
Our vows were spoken in front of relatives, friends, and church members. We were part of their group; they expected us to keep our vows to each other and to God.

In June, we’ll celebrate 48 years of marriage. We kept our commitment to God and to each other. We stayed with our denomination. We’re still active members of our church. I’m grateful we’ve worked out our differences and accepted each other’s imperfections. We’ve benefited from our arrangement. We have –

1. An agreed upon moral/ethical code. Our moral and ethical code is a time honored one prescribed by our religious group. We have both agreed to abide by it. As a result, we didn’t have to create something new.

2. Emotional security. I don’t have to compete with other men; she doesn’t have to compete with other women. We’re not looking for somebody better.

3. Affection and sex. They’re readily available. We don’t have to hunt for a lover.

4. No worries about sexually transmitted diseases. It’s a closed sexual system.

5. Physical security. Someone’s there if you’re sick, disabled, or just need help with the computer.

6. Good memories. A lifetime of photo’s and memories of being together and being with our children.

7. Secure children. Our children, and grandchildren, are wanted and have security. They don’t have to worry about their family dissolving and their home disappearing. It’s not mom’s place or dad’s place? It’s mom and dad’s place.

8. Energy to put into the community. Security issues, companionship issues, and “where do I belong issues” are resolved. Energy can be directed other places.

9. The support of our church. Our government is less likely to need to take care of us because we have the support of each other and our church.

10. A place to socialize and contribute. The same religion has united us and given us a place, our church community, to socialize and contribute.

I’m glad that I made commitments to my wife, God, and my religious community. My wife and I have benefited and so have our children and the community. Making a clear commitment and keeping the commitment is necessary for the well-being of any venture. Why should building a home and a family be any different? It’s something to think about.

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My Contribution to a Happy Home

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Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.
Mother Teresa

I love to come home to the warmth and laughter there. I want to do what I need to do to maintain a happy, healthy, home. A garden needs water, fertilizer, and someone to remove the weeds. The atmosphere of a home also needs tending to. Here’s what I work at –

1. Sound ethics and morality. I work at following the teachings of my Christian church, the professional ethics of the National Associations of Social workers, and the regulations of the Social Work Board of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Noble ethics and morality are life giving to everyone.

2. Control issues. I want to remember that I only have control over my attitude. That’s about it. I can’t control others or the world I live it. I make my decisions and so do others. It’s good to remember that.

3. Self-control. Only my self-control will allow me to live out noble ethical and moral ideals. Only my self-control will provide the opportunity for others to live with me safely. I want people to be safe with me and to trust me.

4. Healthy rules. I can avoid chaos with a few rules that I kindly and consistently enforce. I learned this when my wife and I trained my dog. I also learned that rewards help my dog to live by my rules. Rules and rewards are something to consider.

5. Growing up. I want to be a more mature, loving, compassionate person. My support for this comes from my family, church, prayer, and my professional life. I’ve learned that I need the wisdom and support of others.

6. Appreciation. I work to verbalize and demonstrate my appreciation. I know that lack of appreciation can be discouraging.

7. Freedom. I want to be free of obsessive-compulsiveness behavior, complaining and resentment. I want to relax and enjoy my life as it is. War, corruption, illness, poverty, abuse, and erupting volcano’s aren’t new. I want to help people as I can and then shift my attention to what is beautiful, good, and true. Is this uncaring? I don’t think so.

8. Shared resources. I want to share my money, skills, and time. It feels good to do something significant for someone else. Altruism is a good thing. I want to help people realize their dreams.

9. Celebration. It’s a good thing to celebrate success. I want to celebrate the successes of others without envy and jealousy.

10. Excellence. I can choose to work for excellence and humbly accept that perfection is impossible. I don’t want to expect perfection of myself and others. It’s discouraging and a waste of good time.

Our homes and gardens take work but they’re worth it. What can you work on to develop and keep warm loving relationships in your home?

What’s Most Important in a Relationship

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“Unless you love someone nothing else makes sense.” Anonymous

So, if you want to have a great relationship, what’s most important? What comes to mind? A large number of my patients might say, “good communication”. But, what do you think is foundational to having a healthy relationship with your partner?

My vote goes to freely loving and enjoying people. Think about it. You and I probably wanted our parents delighted interest in us from the day we were born. We still want  people’s eyes to light up when we come into the room. Just think about how small children and puppies respond to attention. We want to know that someone simply wants our presence; that they like being with us.

We want to be loved deeply; deep affection that leads to a person unselfishly acting in our best interests. Can you actually say that you don’t want this? I wouldn’t believe you if you said you didn’t. And, you know without my saying it, that your partner wants to be loved and enjoyed too.

I think that being coupled comfortably calls for you and me and our partners to love and enjoy people. Therefore, we need to find a way to deal with the negativity and pressure on planet earth and still appreciate what’s positive. This means doing whatever it takes to clear the way for you and me to have the time, energy, and attitude we need to love and enjoy people.

So, this is my case for what’s most important in a relationship. I truly think that without the ability to love and enjoy people you and I will be emotionally starved. Love is a gift; give it freely and receive it freely.

Feel free to agree or disagree in the Comments section of this blog. In around a week, I’ll focus on what it takes to love and enjoy people.