Anger Outbursts in Marriage


Anger Outbursts in Marriage, excerpted from Release.

Although some couples can make up with movie star quality after a fiery ordeal, most couples who seek me out for help don’t actually enjoy the makeup process as much as they would actually like to avoid a fire-extinguisher-worthy battle in their marriage.

Typically, when one or both spouses have a bad temper that is easily riled up, someone in their life (often in childhood or early adulthood, or even the other person in this relationship) has allowed themselves to do this without setting a boundary. This pattern may have gotten a start as early as infancy (picture a mother cooing over a tantrumming toddler).

You do, in fact have your work cut out for you if someone has been permitted to both engage others like this and receive affirmation or coddling for having done so. If you are a spouse who often gets injured from your partner’s anger outbursts, you are probably aware that trying many different angles can be very frustrating when none of them work.

You may even now be involved in a pattern of apologizing when someone else loses their temper even when you aren’t sorry since you don’t want to have them get riled up too much, or especially in the case of feeling your own safely is at risk.

In the latter case, you need to run, not walk to your nearest counselor and get help since this endangers you and your family. There is never a time when it is okay or acceptable for a spouse to push or hit another, or to violently call you names. This is the exception to the rule when it comes to telling others about the battles and getting help, even if you don’t start with a counselor but a caring friend or outside family member.

On the other hand, if you spouse is “just” getting engaged, blaming, cajoling or emotionally manipulating you in fights, try communication tactics and being a scientist of the relationship to see what works as a first step. Do you push at someone and disrespect their boundaries when they are clearly agitated and need a cool down?

Someone who engages in anger outbursts may not have insight into what will help them but you can be a student of them, and try to talk it out with them when they are in calm mode. Find out together what precipitated the outburst both generally and specifically? Were they exhausted? Did their boss make them feel badly? Are there any big red flags such as that they are not getting proper self care?

Some people, when they feel emotionally threatened, have anger outbursts and they don’t mean to hurt others, they are simply used to it, and need someone else to set a boundary with them so they are forced to act different.

They won’t like it, to be sure. But guess what? Life is about to get a little uncomfortable for them momentarily, which will bring increasing lasting and truer comfort than they have ever known.

If you are the one with an anger outburst issue, imagine having a very bad toothache and then being told a dentist was going to give you a shot and drill a larger hole that will be filled into your tooth to fix the problem. At first glance, the procedure sounds terrible but we know the lasting effect is pain-free bliss and before you know it, you are flossing and back to steak dinners and an occasional treat. In marriage, when you truly fix anger outbursts, it will have a similar joyous effect.

Offended spouse, here is one great way you can confront the person before an outburst has taken place and say (if necessary, in front of a counselor)…

“I realize you get your temper up when we fight, to the point of yelling and … (whatever else they do). I don’t mind if your voice raises a little since that’s very normal but when you go off the handle and.. (be specific), I have decided to walk away and try again later. I respect you and myself too much to be part of that any longer. I realize I may miss out on getting to the bottom of an important issues with you, so I will try other methods, such as resolving that when you are calm or speaking about it to a counselor or coach together, or if you are not willing, I will talk to a counselor or mentor about my issues with you myself so I can figure out what to do. What I do know is that I can’t be subject to fits of rage. We both know there are tips and tools to talk things out so we don’t get to that point of escalation. If you are becoming escalated, let me know that. (Discuss a way to say it) and then I will back off. I make that commitment to you now, that knowing that you tend toward outbursts, if I see the following nonverbal signals (turning green like the Hulk, smoke coming out of your nose, and basically other signals, etc), I will say, “I see you are getting agitated from our fight. We can talk later, and for now, I’m going for a walk, going upstairs, etc. I love you.”

In other words, set a boundary that also extends love and a chance to talk later. DO this as many times as is necessary until they get the point. The old style of interacting won’t work any more, and the issues won’t go away either so they will eventually have to choose to fight things out on healthier terms.

Remember, the anger outbursts aren’t necessarily stemming from hate. Your spouse feels threatened and is looking for control through the outburst so they need to be reassured of love as well as told they cannot do this to you – just don’t let them stay there, don’t be part of the unhealth even if you don’t feel it bothers you because the truthis you wouldn’t even be reading this unless it did.

Give us a call if you would like more personally tailored advice!

Daughter of the King with Melissa Jansen, BCLC, Life Coach at Reflections

Daughter of the King

Recently, one of my daughters gave me a plain, soft black robe which I had requested for Christmas. I am very picky about the type of fabric I allow on my skin, and this particular robe is made of soft cotton, is lightweight, and brings comfort to me when I wear it. Living in Florida, there is not often a need for a bathrobe, but sometimes I put it on just to feel the touch of it and think of my girl.

Daughters are precious. God blessed me with two of them, almost five years apart, and uniquely different from one another. Raising them came natural to me, as I had three sisters of my own and a nurturing relationship with my mother for 50 years. I certainly made mistakes in parenting over the years, wish at times that I could go back and change a decision, but my prayers have always remained the same: that God would cover them with His love, protect them, and they would know without a doubt that He was their greatest love.

I’ve been meditating on the story of another daughter, a young girl named Tamar, whose father was King David. In the book of 2 Samuel, we see that one of David’s sons, Amnon, fell under a spell of lust and sadly raped Tamar. To further cause her pain, he disgraced her by kicking her out of his home and she went to live with his brother Absalom. In the course of her disgrace and shame, she left the house wearing an ornate robe, which was common for virgin daughters of king. In biblical times, men wearing robes who were ashamed or grieving ripped them and torn them to shreds. Tamar, daughter of the king, torn up emotionally by rape and rejection, put ashes on her head and wept loudly. But she remained covered in the robe. (2 Samuel 13:19)

If you are a believer, beloved, you are a daughter of the King. You wear the ornamental robe of righteousness because Christ loves you and adopted you. No matter what you have faced, physically or emotionally, that robe covers all your shame, all your guilt, all your mistakes, and all of your sin. God’s got you covered. Isn’t that comforting to know?

Wrap yourself up in the knowledge that you are God’s precious daughter, and thank Him.

If you want to now more about this Jesus who loves you and covers you, and want coaching to help in spiritual formation, give us a call or write to us so we can help you find Christian community, encourage you in your walk with God and/or to set up spiritual coaching. 941-301-8420 and reflectionscounselingcenter@gmail.com

Still Under Construction with Melissa Jansen, BS, BCLC

Still Under Construction

I live in a war zone. Not a literal war, but in a brand new neighborhood, filled with concrete trucks, plumbers, electricians, builders, hardhats, Don’s Johns and a supervisor that sounds like Tony Soprano. As I tried to navigate this work zone this morning as I was walking, I was thinking about what a house looks like before it is ready for move in. I was also reminded of the song by Sidewalk Prophets called “Keep Making Me.” The song refers to the mess we often make of our own lives, and the lyrics ask God to make the songwriter broken and lonely, as He gently builds him up to maturity. In other words, he/we are still under construction. He isn’t finished with us yet. I relate to that completely!

Most of us have been lonely at one time or another in our journey. Sometimes it’s that we’ve chosen to be single, or chosen to live alone. Sometimes we isolate. Some of us have also been broken, maybe even beyond description or recognition. Looking back, perhaps that is just where we needed to be. When we are by alone, with our empty selves, that is where God often meets us. It’s in the stillness and the silence that we can finally hear what He is saying or what steps He wants us to take. Solitude can be great, but it can also be scary when we don’t seek the right guidance. I remember numerous times in my own solitude, often at 2 am when I could not sleep, that God just simply told me to rest. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). It is so comforting to know He’s got me covered.

Brokenness is not a fun place to visit. When we are spiritually broken, that’s when God can finally “fix us.” I spent many years trying to fix myself, fix my family, heal my grief, build my career, plan my future, and I failed over and over again. Truly, at one point, I felt like a filthy rag doll that was tossed in the trashcan, never to be used again. And then God showed up. You see, He is in the business of construction. He puts out the danger/warning signs. He has all the right tools. He doesn’t let us take shortcuts. He gives us the right armor, to protect us. Sometimes we try to mend our own brokenness by stuffing it, numbing it, or ignoring it. God is very clear in scripture that He has a plan for our lives, and He has not given up on us:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1)

If you are lonely, allow the only One who can meet your needs fully do that.

If you are broken, allow the only One who can build you up and put you back together do that.

If I’m honest, I realize I am still under construction. God is still at work. How grateful I am that He doesn’t give up on me before the work is completed.

Out of Context with Melissa Jansen, Life Coach

bible

Out of Context

One thing that really annoys me is when people “quote” well known, feel-good phrases, but refer to them as biblical. Not only are they not God’s truth, but they may actually lead a person down the wrong path, leaving them disappointed.

One such statement that I have heard and perhaps you have heard, time and time again, is “God never gives us more than we can handle.” First of all, that is found nowhere in the Bible. Secondly, it is just not accurate but people will say it when they want to encourage a friend or make themselves feel better about their own circumstances. The actual Bible verse that some may use to support it is 1 Corinthians 10:13, “When you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (New International Version). The context of that verse is temptation, not suffering in our own lives. We can choose a way out of temptation, according to Paul’s words, but we can’t choose a way out of suffering. In other words, God may actually allow (not give) us more suffering, or losses, or disappointment than we think we can take. Evidence of this are the cases where someone loses a marriage, a job, and a home (or even a child) all within the same year. Such was the case with Job from the Old Testament, even though Job never cursed God or told him that he gave him more than he could handle. On the other hand, it is not accurate to say that God must not be caring or omnipotent if he would allow one to face so much adversity. Hello, free will? God is the giver of free will. Yet He is merciful, He is just, and He is fully sovereign over our lives.

The second misuse of words, out of context, is “God helps those that help themselves.” It says so in the Bible, right? Wrong! In fact, it goes directly against the notion that we need a Savior, in all areas of our life, or we could just pick up the latest self-help book or video and be done with it. God isn’t only our helper. He is our Creator, our Sustainer, our King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, our Rock and Alpha and Omega. If we believe that, and I do, then I pretty much usurp Him and all of those roles if pick up my own bootstraps, direct my own steps, and plan out the rest of my future. Experience tells me that doesn’t work, and may in fact cause me to fall flat on my face or worse: fall into the dark pit. I think people misquote and misuse this statement, thinking it comes from the book of James, on faith and deeds: “What good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” (James 2:14, NIV). The context of this passage in James is addressing grace, sin, and how faith in God transforms our thoughts and our actions. However, God’s grace and mercy are not dependent on how much footwork we do or how many good deeds we perform. I, for one, am so grateful for that fact!

Next time you hear someone use these words or perhaps you begin to use them yourself, back up and remember the context from which they originated. There are so many other rich verses which are actual truth to pull from, we don’t need to use these feel-good promises. The Bible is full of truth which is really what we need to apply to our lives and to use when edifying others.

Just my two cents worth.

Self-Care with Melissa Jansen, Life Coach

self care pic

Self-Care

As a life coach, I often hear my clients talk about their exhaustion and not being able to set or meet goals because they have no time for themselves. I am a huge proponent of self-care, so in most cases, that is the first issue we tackle together. Self-care, simply, is taking time to nourish ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In doing so, we are then in a healthier place to focus, prioritize, get our needs met, and be available to others to meet theirs.

I have been a fairly disciplined person all my life (thanks to my dad) and I have established some habits for self-care that I thought I would share, in case you are struggling with exhaustion or just don’t seem to be able to move forward. You may not agree with the order of importance I have set for myself, but these are habits of self-care that work for me:

Spiritual

Set aside time, every day, preferably at the same time each day, to spend with your Creator. This may involve prayer, meditation, thanksgiving, listening to worship music, or some reading, but take at least a half hour to get centered, and start your day off right. If you don’t have time in the morning, perhaps you can spend the last half hour before your head hits the pillow, by doing this. I truly believe if you practice this type of self-care, your spirit and your attitude will be positive throughout the day and better help you face your challenges.

Physical

Our bodies are a temple. They are aging by the day, and we must take care of them. This includes paying attention to what we eat/drink, how we exercise, and if we get enough rest. Everyone has a different idea of what healthy eating looks like, and there is no “right” diet to follow, but perhaps you need to do a weekly evaluation of what your meals look like. You might want to increase the amount of water you drink, drop the diet sodas, skip the happy hours, and set a plan for exercise 3-4 times a week. This can and should include a variety of things – walking, running, dance class, yoga class, swimming, and weights. Do not try to do it all or you may injure yourself. Just try a bit of everything and be sure to mix it up so your body gets the full benefit. Also, get outside. Vitamin D is great for your health! Sitting on a couch with a remote is not. Finally, I cannot express enough the importance of rest. 8 hours a night. If you don’t have to pull a college all-nighter anymore, or stay up to watch videos on your phone, or check Facebook, don’t do it. Your body will pay later. Rest will help you focus and meet your challenges throughout the day. P.S. Get the annual check-ups….all of them!

Emotional

Take time to evaluate your state of mind. Are you happy? Depressed? Lonely? Have healthy relationships? Many, many people cannot set or meet goals or get beyond today because they struggle emotionally. Some will definitely need professional help, or medication, or both, to stay balanced. This might include the help of a licensed counselor or coach. If you are lonely, join a group. Look at churches, community, meet-ups, and your own neighborhood. If you are struggling in a relationship (any type), consider setting boundaries. Boundaries are healthy in marriages, in parenting, at work, and in our friendships. If you have a relationship that is toxic or suffocating you, end it. Now. Sometimes happiness is not the goal, but contentment is. What makes you content? What are you passionate about? Dig deep in your soul search and start seeking the people, places and things that will bring you that contentment.

Mental

Be sure to feed your mind. The saying, “Garbage in, garbage out” is true. Pay attention to how you exercise and challenge your mind. What do you read? Watch? Listen to? How much time do you spend on social media, or playing video games? When is the last time you read a book? My goal is to read one per month, and I don’t count People or Us Weekly magazine. My grandmother and my mother both worked crossword puzzles daily, and I am sure it increased their knowledge and vocabulary. Neither went to college, but my mother wrote and published a book. If you find yourself bored, or with little to no time left to get all your goals accomplished, it’s probably because you are not taking care of your mind. Turn off the TV. Turn off Facebook. There is so much to explore and your brain will love you for it.

Self-care. It’s a simple concept, but so very few people pay attention to it. I hope today is the day that you decide you’re going to start. You’re worth it. Write and let me know if and when you incorporate these self-care habits and how it’s working for you. Be blessed

Parental Joy with Melissa Jansen, Life Coach

Parental Joy

I’ve been talking to a lot of clients lately who said they never got the manual on parenting. You know, “Parenting for Dummies.” That’s because it doesn’t exist, I tell them, as much as we would all consume a book like that if it did! Parenting, by far, is the most joyful role we have, and certainly the most challenging. No matter whether your first born or second born was the perfect angel, you weren’t ready for Lucifer. Just kidding! Or maybe it was the opposite, and you stopped after the firstborn. Sometimes, I tell them, it’s a natural and passing phase. For instance, when I was in the child care business, the parents of my students would often fret over their toddler who was biting, which is common during the Terrible Twos. I found it much more offensive when the parent of the bitten one asked me point blank if the biter had been tested for HIV. Argh! Then there were the helicopter/rescue parents, who had to make sure they did everything, bought everything, and wrote everything for their kids, including their college essay. One time I had to leave a Christmas party because the moms could not stop talking about what tricks they had to pull to get their daughters sparkly jeans before the store sold out. Sad but true. Truthfully, I made a lot of my own mistakes as I navigated the murky waters of parenting, most especially during the teenage years. I am so grateful that God carried me through them.

I vividly remember one episode when my oldest daughter still wasn’t home from a concert at 2:00 am. I tried the cell phone. No answer. I was literally in a tug of war with my anger and my fear. My body went from pacing to praying on my knees for her safety. Just about the time I was ready to call the police, I heard a still, small voice in my ear that said, “Don’t you remember what you did to your parents? When you backpacked around Europe and didn’t call them for weeks?” Oops. I’m pretty sure that was the voice of God, and I was so grateful for it, as I heard the lock turn and my daughter walk through the door, safely. On another occasion, a different daughter was having a bit of an authority issue and seemed to think that the state and federal laws did not apply to her – and thankfully I did not kill her, because I hear murder is a felony in Virginia. Just kidding, again. While I don’t condone a lack of submitting to authority, in that case I heard another still, but BIGGER voice say, “Don’t you remember things you did, when you did not submit to my authority? Don’t you think I was disappointed by them? Yet I forgave you. I was merciful to you. I love you.” Wow! That was convicting.

Now that the kids are grown, we always tease them with threats about what comes around, goes around, and assure them they will experience the ups and downs of parenting. The truth is, they will have to explore and experiment with their own parenting techniques, and maybe by then there will be a manual published (wishful!). I only hope that they will reflect on their own past rebellion, and the parallel that I have come to see between parent/child and God/us. The fact is, the manual actually has been written, and in our hands, for over 2000 years. That, plus that the fact that God is not a helicopter parent, and allows us to stumble and fail at times, gives me great relief. Aren’t you thankful that we have a heavenly Father to model parenting for us? He is the perfect mix of discipline and mercy.

If you are struggling as a parent, or don’t know where to set boundaries, give us a call. At Reflections, we have therapists and coaches who can come alongside you and help you in the journey of parenting. We’d love to share with you a biblical perspective on parenting and pray for you in your challenges and struggles. Call us at 941-301-8420. http://www.reflectionscc.combabyBlues_1661772c

“Lost in Eden: Reviving Sexual Intimacy in Marriage”

hugging couple

Lost in Eden: Reviving Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Christa Hardin, MA

Does your sex life need a recharge? If so, read your Bible. While, I am joking a bit, it’s actually true. When God created male and female, He also made space for them to have intimacy, calling them to be fruitful. In Song of Songs, we read about about the sensual and fragrant metaphors of grapes, cedars, apples and myrrh as healthy sexuality is described between two lovers. In the Bible, along with information about every other marital need, God has given us a framework for purity versus Playboy-style sexuality in this fascinating imagery. Unfortunately, as you well know, somewhere along the way to now, perfect intimacy is obsolete, and it’s earliest echoes are from times lost in once-perfect Eden.

So going back to the beginning as best as we can, let’s look at a few things God says about sexuality and healthy touch. God gave males a seed, or sperm, to put into a woman and God created that to be a fulfilling and especial, fruitful time. It is a pleasurable time created for a couple to enjoy as well as a time to make future generations. Other brief biblical references are in Proverbs 5:16-18 where a man is chided for having sex with strangers and recommended to enjoy only the wife of his youth. It’s clear that God wants a couples to have a healthy sex life, just as it once flourished in the Garden of Eden when a husband and wife were free to roam and be together whenever they desired. In order however, to tend to this lush sexual garden well as married couples of today, let’s spend some time thinking about what a precious and well-tended intimate garden looks like.

Growing Well

In a garden, we see is variety – it isn’t always the same, right?  A healthy couple isn’t afraid to enjoy variety and different ways of experiencing one another sexually as they become more and more intimate and safe, such as varying positions, touches, times of day or places.

There are also different seasons in a garden, which definitely occurs in sexuality, considering some couples want more or less intimacy than others and some couples have troubles of infertility, vaginismus, sexual dysfunction, issues from medications, more or less hormones at varying times, illness, age, childbirth, menstrual cycle, emotional issues, and fatigue to boot with many these different seasons.

There are many ways we can tend to our marital “garden” sexually so we can thrive. Some couples need extra space and time to process after a sexual moment together while others need more foreplay. More often than not a couple isn’t perfectly balanced in their individual desires so it’s important to talk about it. Don’t get angry if your spouse wants to talk about it at an agreed-upon time. Take a deep breath and leave the embarrassment to the middle schoolers learning about it and certainly not the marital bedroom.

Timing The Sex Talk

Unlike the typical middle-school human sexuality talk, which is intentionally framed with very carefully and guarded dialogue, you can and should talk openly and freely with your spouse. For the sake of ease, here are some grounds rules to help it go really well.

Find out when your spouse feels comfortable talking about it. Some spouses don’t want to talk right before or right after sex whereas others feel that is the very best time. Some would rather talk about it on another day completely, or even while the wife is menstruating so they have something to think about for a little while before trying anything different, whereas others could talk about it any time as well as feel comfortable engaging in sex of all kinds even during the female cycle. There is no end to couples preference in this area.

Here are some ideas for your talk with one another and questions for one another:

When can I safely tell you about my ideas for our sex life?

What are some things that have hurt your feelings in the past sexually (from me or anyone else) or have made you feel devalued in your sexual experience?

Is there anything you want to add in or try to accomplish during our time together (longer orgasm, new position, new lotion)?

Also what are the ways we are intimate that feel best to you?

What makes you feel ready to be in the mood?

How often would you ideally like to be intimate together? How does it relieve sexual or stressful tension for one or both of you?

What’s something one or both of us think is preventing us from having a better sexual life together?

Do we need to carve out room for intimacy in our schedule?

What do you find most attractive to me during our intimate times? Are there certain phrases, comments, touches or scents that drive you wild?

What do you think God wants for our sexual life together? Do we honor Him and one another during this time?

Who could be our accountability partners (counselor, coach, or male for the husband, female for the wife) if we struggle in this area?

For more, call our marital experts at 941-301-8420, http://www.reflectionscc.com or write to me at christa@reflectionscc.com Stay tuned for the complete text, Release, where you can find the rest of this chapter as well as other essential marital topics!