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Marriage and Relationships – Do’s And Don’ts

The Need to Feel Loved

The desire for a soulmate and longing to be in a relationship are instinctive, hardwired needs that we all have. To be loved, desired and admired with all of our imperfections and flaws, sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? Most little girls dream of becoming princesses anxiously anticipating their prince charming to sweep them off their feet with gallant behavior, good manners and financial security.  Similarly, men typically desire an appealing, sexy yet smart, funny but not obnoxious, overall well-put together woman who will make for a loving partner.  And while each side of the relationship looks into these, and many other “must haves”, often people dismiss the fact that relationships can be quite difficult and at times, make us question our reasons for participating in them. Vowing to be with someone in “good and bad, health and sickness” is easier said than done – simply check the most recent divorce rates. Many couples hit a standstill when they face difficulties and indeed, there’s no faster way to test a relationship with its carefully imagined “picture perfect” ideal than the frustrations of day-to-day life. Couples these day prefer to live together rather than tying the knot, and the reasons are many.

The Do’s And Don’ts In Relationships 

Identifying and exploring the cause of a couple’s uneasiness often brings meaningful insight into the state of the relationship. A variety of situations can present themselves:

  • Lack of communicationIt sounds like cliche but it’s true. People have expectations, sometimes realistic, often times not. When there’s not a two-way line of communication problems will arise. You don’t want to burden your loved one with the issues you’re dealing with so you keep quiet? That’s great and that may seem kind to spare your loved one the anxiety you’re experiencing only he/she may interpret your well meaning intentions as a lack of attention, withdrawal from the family unit and having trust inadequacies.
  • Dating or marrying “an ideal” – This is a definite No – No. During my clinical practice, I have had the opportunity to work with couples who have pursued relationships with unrealistic expectations of their significant other. The problem with this approach is that people are not stagnant – we don’t see them as they are when we are in love. Additionally, people don’t remain the same, they change – sometimes rapidly, sometimes more slowly. In other words we all undergo a metamorphosis with time! The prince charming from our fairy tale may actually turn into an ugly frog with time.
  • Inability to accept criticismThere’s nothing worse than when one side is consistently critical of the other but is unable to accept even the slightest feedback. Both men and women can be guilty of this behavior. The results of such persistent criticism amounts to a life of hell for the other person. Manipulation in pursuit of one sided reward, verbal and emotional abuse stemming from such behavior is a relationship killer. So by all means Do Not Do This.
  • Finances  – Although money doesn’t buy you happiness, short finances are one of the primary reasons for quarrels and fights among couples. Relationships can encounter differing situations when it comes to their financial well-being – one of the individuals not providing or trying to provide enough for the family unit or overdoing it due to fear of being poor. And while the second option seems like the better of the two evils, working hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month may improve your finances, but could also wedge a space between you and your love one. “You said you were not going to work this weekend”, ” You always have to work”, “You never have time for me”  – sound familiar? Try making the time, communicate and share your dreams, goals and inspirations. Both individuals working towards a common goal can overcome the frustrations along the way.
  • Cheating – It falls into the “Don’t Do” category. Not just the physical but also the emotional damage caused by cheating can cause self-doubt, trust issues, co-dependency issues, and the list go on. Honesty and openness although difficult is way better compared to lies and deceit.
  • Faith/ Spirituality/ Religion –  When love and passion hit, everything else seems insignificant, only to appear later like an elephant in the room. The world has become a small village yet, couples often realize that their religious or spiritual  upbringing is in strong contrast to that of their significant other. Love can and does overcome many things in life, but sometimes differing core beliefs can seem to be an insurmountable obstacle. With a willing heart however; communication, love, patience and willingness to understand the “other’s” perspective, these challenges can be resolved.

For these and more helpful suggestions, please feel free to drop us a line, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, share our comment and comment. Freedom Counseling offers assistance for individuals and couples in need of counseling. If you feel now is the right time and you’re ready, feel free to schedule your next appointment.

Anxiety: Impairment, symptoms and coping solutions

How bad is it to have anxiety?

Anxiety is a persistent and cruel disorder that affects more people that one might suspect.  It is indeed a widespread issue in our society. If not treated timely, and may I add –  properly, it can severely inhabit an individual’s day-to-day functioning by impacting his/ hers personal and/or professional life. The stats regarding anxiety are nothing less than jaw dropping. Data from the National Comorbidity Study Replication (NCS-R) survey performed by the Harvard Medical School in 2007 found that “an estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives”. In reference to impairment, 22.8% among the adults who suffer from an anxiety disorder had a severe impairment and 33.7% had moderate impairment (Harvard Medical School, 2007). Consider that for a moment – more than 50 % of the individuals who took part of the study reported considerable impairments in their work/life functioning due to an anxiety disorder!

Common misconceptions

Anxiety disorder is just feeling a little “nervous” or “stressed”, right? Actually, that is incorrect. In order to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, individuals must have a number of symptoms present. The duration and the severity of the symptoms are also important. Feeling a “little” nervous because you couldn’t come up with the “right” answer during that conference call this morning is one thing. Feeling excessively worried most of the time for at least 6 months, and not being able to fall or stay sleep is surely a cause for concern and will have clinicians inquiring if you’ve experiencing any other relevant symptoms.

The cause of anxiety disorders is still unknown although there’s quite a bit of data available showing a  biological and chemical link. The brain’s amygdala and hypothalamus are important components when processing data while under stress.  Similarly, your neurotransmitters do not stay idle either. Deficiency of the GABA and serotonin neurotransmitters is believed to make it impossible for the individuals to control the overwhelming feeling of worry (Nuss, 2015).

Recognize the symptoms

There are several anxiety disorders, the most common of which are:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (also called Social Phobia).

By the way, this list is by no means all-inclusive; it simply outlines the most common anxiety disorders recognized by the general population. Okay you may say, so what are the symptoms? The answer is… it depends.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-5 ) aka “the Bible” of all mental health gurus, gives us a glimpse into some of the symptoms. I want to caution you however, do not diagnose yourself with these. If you have concerns or questions, the best approach is to get in touch with a specialist.

For instance, below are just a few of the criteria (not all!) of GAD

  • Restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge.
  • Being easily fatigued.
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank.
  • Irritability.
  • Muscle tension
  • The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse,a medication) or another medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism).

Coping skills and treatment

Depending of the severity of the symptoms, there could be several options available for those trying to cope with their anxiety disorders. Psychotherapy is a common treatment that people can turn to in conjunction with medication management (this is especially true for those suffering from more complex trauma such as PTSD). If you are being treated by more than one clinician, it is important to inform them so they can work together and brainstorm best possible solution/s for your plan of care. Medications are often helpful, but as a mental health professional I firmly believe that psychotherapy is also a powerful and effective treatment option to battle the negative effects that anxiety (or for that matter any other mental illness) can have on a persons life.