Marriage Makeover: The R & R Relationship Repair Program

If you are struggling in your marriage, there’s no reason to stay there. Absolutely none. Marriage woes cost more than you think, too! Lack of productivity at work, emotional health, wasted time that could have been spent laughing gets spent arguing, and mainly doing negative things – its expensive!

Instead, give yourself the affordable and life-lasting gift of the R & R Relationship Repair Program with Reflections Counseling & Coaching! You’ll see new life in your marriage, waste little to no time having senseless arguments, and have WAY more fun together – the program is fast, simple, and although hard work, it’s fun to learn and grow! Call 941-301-8420 to book your appt in-person (Skype or phone coaching also available)! http://www.ReflectionsCC.com

 

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Marriage: Help & Hope That Defies Nature by Christa Hardin

 

“I can’t help the way I feel. I just don’t love him anymore. We’re never going to change. I can’t do this anymore.” As a friend to many moms as well as in being a marriage coach, I hear these dramatic words slip off tongues all the time. Once someone is in this mode, it takes some convincing for them to see any hope. As you know, many of the movies we watch, pop culture books we read, and stories we’re told portray spousal love as a heart-throbbing, wild, thrilling, and even sadistic roller coaster type of experience (and all at the same time if you’re in the drama genre). However, it’s not the kind of love that’s found in 1 Corinthians 13. The Bible spells it out so well:

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails….” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a

Should there be any doubt after reading this all-inclusive verse on love’s definition, God mentions love in the Bible around 500 times. He probably does this so there will be little doubt as to what really defines it. God also takes painstaking efforts to let us know just how much He loves us, having allowed His Son to die on the cross for us. He gives us the definition and is the definition of love, be there no mistake. But why did have to God go to these lengths to show us how to love?

Well, for starters, since the Fall in the Garden of Eden when our race first sinned, love doesn’t always come naturally to us. And of course, Christ was the perfect sacrifice for sin, once for all. As we know it now in our fallen bodies, Christian love defies nature. When the “fight” or “flight” feelings arise in a relationship to warn us of a problem compounded by our sin, we are naturally cued to leave one another, to fight it out, or to sin in some way, whatever our own guilty pleasure. Some of us turn to gluttony, others to alcohol, and still others to yelling, gossip, slander, or many other awful coping mechanisms we have picked up along the way.

Unfortunately, as much as our desire to stay emotionally safe is a gift from God so we can act in true emergencies of abuse or neglect — a separate but important topic — often we allow it to be activated in situations where we could be turning to God for help. “He lied to me. I’ll spend money.” “She won’t give to me sexually. I’ll view pornography” Sometimes these reactions are so fast that we try not to see the connection, and we act so quickly in sin that we don’t even stop to process.

I’m asking you this week to defy nature. Defy the natural idea to sin, to leave, to fight, to act harmfully toward someone made in God’s image. Some of you may be thinking that the love mentioned in this week’s verse sounds imprisoning. Contrarily, this true love allows you to be free from the agony of hate and the victim mentality altogether. It offers the choice to care, not only for another but for yourself. Get emotional, spiritual, and physical self care and I promise you, you will shine for Christ in amazing, thrilling, and heart-throbbing ways you never even dreamed of. Even though they may be a far cry from Hollywood’s definition.

But remember that true love isn’t always fun, even when you do love yourself well. Sometimes it looks like helping someone through their grief or pain when you’d rather be on the golf course or tasting martinis at the local happy hour. Love sometimes means scrubbing toilets as a second job so you can afford to pay the rent as a single parent. And sometimes love means being lonely, since others at times take advantage of a kind soul.

If our treasures were all earthly, this wouldn’t make any sense, would it? But when you consider that our treasures are in heaven (Matthew 6:20), and we don’t receive the full reward of them till then, you know that loving is always the answer, even when life’s circumstances would warn you to do other things. The voice of culture tells you, “If you love her, she’ll take advantage of you.” “If you love him, he’ll take everything and leave you high and dry.” The voice of God is clear and strong, telling you to love others and yourself well, and that He will fill you.

You see, those who don’t love carry a far greater burden than those who do. They carry lust, deceit, revenge, hate, malice, selfishness, and far worse positions than those who choose to love despite the cost. I for one, don’t want to carry this load around. I want to trust God to meet my every need, and ask you to join me in loving your family and friends, your enemies and your neighbors with the love of God this week and always. Love is enough.

Forgiveness with RCC Life Coach Melissa Jansen

girl-in-field

Forgiveness

“I forgive you.” Those may be the three hardest words you ever have to speak to someone. I would challenge that with the counter question of, “Will you forgive me?”

Recently, I saw the much acclaimed movie War Room, which highlights prayer and stories of forgiveness and redemption. I was moved and envious of the main character, Clara, as she freely and willingly went to her prayer closet to pray for people, pray for her own messes, and forgiveness. Then she paid it forward and taught another woman how to do it.

If you think long and hard (or maybe it doesn’t take that much effort), you will most certainly identify at least one person you want or need to forgive for an offense. Easier said than done, right? Pain and loss take time to process and even more time to heal. We are human, made with emotions and hearts and when our heart aches, or we feel offended, almost nothing can relieve us. We try to numb it at times. We try distraction. We try busyness. We try substances. We try to forget. Forgiving is miles away…or is it?

Once, long ago, I had a choice to make. I was the offended one, and I had every right to be angry and it was mighty difficult to forgive the one who hurt me. I did not bring the offense upon myself and I did not fight it. I allowed the person to inflict the pain and I suffered greatly. However, I found myself with a choice to make. The choice to forgive or not to forgive. I certainly would not forget what happened to me or the effect it would have on me for years thereafter. However, I remembered the words of Christ when He said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, then your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15, NIV). Whoa! That was a game-changer. Not only did I instantly forgive the person, but many times in later years, I was once again convicted to do the same in relationships.

What about reversing the choice? How many times do we take the initiative and go to someone who we know we have hurt and ask their forgiveness? How often do we even discern that we have hurt them? Wouldn’t our relationships, our friendships, marriages or parenting be different if we could only humble ourselves and take that step of asking? Sadly, pride gets in the way. Time passes. Anger resumes. Distance grows. Fortunately, there is no statute of limitations on forgiveness, and we can do it freely when we are ready. My dad had an argument with his father and they didn’t speak for years, until my dad’s heart softened and one year before he became ill with cancer, he reached out to his father and asked for forgiveness. He was freed. You see, forgiveness is not only for the person who initiated the offense. Forgiveness frees us. It allows us to live with peace, to move on, to let go. What about the adage, “Forgive but don’t forget.” I don’t buy it. If we truly forgive someone, we do forget the offense. And isn’t that what Christ did for us? He paid the ultimate ransom and died on a cross for our sin, our offense. No questions asked.

What about you? Is there someone whom you need to go to, to ask for forgiveness? Don’t hesitate. Do it today.

Marriage – Money Matters, excerpted from Table for Two

Money Matters by Christa Hardin, MA, LLP, BCLC – excerpted from Table for Two: Mealtime Devotionals for Couples

My husband and I were newly married twenty-one year olds, and needless to say, we still had stars in our eyes. We had just counted out the money in our wedding envelopes and were headed off with loads of cash and checks to the land of plenty – California. We didn’t have money mentors in our lives who could help us to start out on the best financial journey. I’m sure you can guess where this is leading. We spend almost our entire wedding cash on our honeymoon! We thought since it was a honeymoon we should be eating at only the finest establishments, so even when we were tired and worn out, we ordered from only the most exclusive and expensive cafes in Santa Barbara.
Besides one of two sluggish games of tennis, a tandem bicycle ride gone wrong (we Midwestern folk weren’t used to hills and arguments that came on that ride!), all we did besides the obvious, was eat, eat and eat! Thinking back, a cruise would have been a better plan for us, since we would have eaten to our heart’s content and still managed to come out with some dough in our pockets, but naive as we were, we wanted California where we had gotten engaged, and nothing could stop us from meeting our dreams, even if they were unwisely laid out. It reminds me of this verse,
“Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” Proverbs 20:21
We definitely devoured, quite literally, our brand-new savings for a home or our upcoming graduate school bills or even our future family which was only a few years down the road. Since hindsight is twenty-twenty, we don’t condemn ourselves and have God’s grace, but along the way we have learned that saving a portion of our money for emergencies and future plans is wise, and that trying to get immediate gratification isn’t.
A major foodie, this still gets me from time to time, but now that we do our budget together monthly and have since taken the advice of wise financial advisors, we are on a much wiser path and enjoying the fruits of a comfortable dwelling and savings even as we give and try to keep outgiving ourselves! God has shown us that by giving over our time, talents, and treasures in this case, we can truly find wisdom.
I wonder if you have ever felt this way in your financial story together? If you have, you are not alone! Most couples tell me in our marriage sessions that financial stress is one of their biggest areas of concern and many times, spouses don’t even discuss it because there is so much fear around the topic.
As a brief activity, take some time to talk about three simple ways you can fine-tune your finances to get them more in line with God’s plans for your family. Be brief and not blaming with one another.

Saying Grace

Dear Lord,

Thank You for the provision of meals to us each day. Sometimes we have more than other times, but you have faithfully provided us our daily bread and for that we are so thankful. Help us to look at our finances wisely, with logic and wisdom. Help us to recognize when we are spending emotionally and fill us with Your precious and free gifts so that we are not tempted to fill the voids with material things which do not satisfy anyway! Help us to come together as a couple to discuss our finances regularly and consistently. Help us to know where to give and now much, to have passion to give in places that will honor you! In Jesus Name, Amen.

Table Trivia

“What’s cooking? Apparently, not Americans. For the first time ever, people in the U.S. are spending more money dining out then buying groceries.” FoxNews.com April 15th, 2015.
Honey Homework

For future study: Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover program is an excellent beginning or even advanced financial spending program, and Suze Orman has a wonderful book entitled, The 9 Steps to FInancial Freedom that will help you to find healing and hope in this area! Commit to beginning one of these programs or talking to a financially wise mentor or advisor (non-family if possible) about your next steps.

A La Carte

On your next date night, set a ridiculously low budget (so long as it’s not an anniversary or your spouse’s birthday!). If you’re used to spending sixty dollars, for instance, between the meal, a sitter, and drinks or dessert, try aiming for twenty-five, by swapping childcare with a friend as well as eating at a local upscale(ish) cafe (like Panera Bread or a pizza joint) and taking a walk together afterwards!

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.