Saturday, June 29, 2013

Love Never Gives Up: 5 Things Girls Must Do

I have felt blessed and excited lately with all the young women I see meeting the guys that they will probably marry. It seems like an explosion of activity!

When other’s see this, from the outside, it seems like ‘it”, a lasting relationship, “just happened” for these people.  Yet, God knows, and only they know, how much prayer and perseverance has gone into finding the ‘right’ person.

I have noticed several qualities in gals who have persevered:

1. They have put God first in their lives.

2. They have kept seeking Him, and praying for His will.

3. They have had a ‘yes face’ to opportunities.

4. They have continued to be ‘actively available’ even when they are getting weary.

5. They will go the ‘extra mile’ by engaging at church, online, and other opportunities to connect with Christian guys.

It is true that some gals have done all of these things, and have not seen results over a long period of time.  I would recommend to anyone who has this experience to get together in a group of gals who are also wanting a relationship, and pray for one another, and, if desired get extra support to be able to continue to persevere.

Sometimes there are ‘blind spots’ in our approach to life that gets in our way, and we need to face those, and get some healing, so we can  be ready for the kind of guy we really want.

Marriage is not a guarantee in life, nor is having children, but it is a worthy desire and a beautiful dream. Some people say to me, ‘but what if I actually try, and nothing happens.”  And, my response is, “Then you have tried for a good and beautiful thing, and you have nothing to be ashamed of if it doesn’t happen!”

Dave and I tried for quite a few years to have our own child, and ‘it’ never happened. I am very glad that we tried -- we did a good thing. I had to grieve the loss eventually when it became apparent that ‘it’ wasn’t going to happen, but I do not regret my desire or my grief.

According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, by age 35, 88% of women who have not had a child out of wedlock and 70% who have, will get married. If you are a born again Christian there is a 19% greater chance you will be married than an agnostic or atheist. Since there is not a real expiration date on when you can get into a relationship, I pray that if it’s your desire to be married, you will not give up!

Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. 1 Cor. 12:7

Saturday, June 22, 2013

9 Tips For Men For Successful Dating

The other day I was listening to an interesting show on the radio. It was talking about first dates and all the weird, crazy and dumb things that people have experienced. Although some things have changed since I was a young, hormone-driven dating candidate, I don’t believe men and women have. I base my opinion on stories and complaints my single clients have shared with me over the years. One thing in particular has not changed:

Women still want to be pursued, chosen.

This means that the old concept of “winning the woman” is still very much alive. If guys ignore this, they may miss out on worthy women. If women pretend that this doesn’t really matter, they may never feel chosen.

Here are some tips for the men.

  • Make the first call. Ask for contact information and follow through. Don’t ask to exchange numbers or email addresses.
  • Don’t ignore courtesies like saying “please”, “thank-you”, opening doors for her, etc. You will stand out above the crowd if you do these things.
  • Dress appropriately on a date. Yes, that means dress up at least as nicely as she does or even better. It makes her feel special. And do let her know where you are taking her so she can dress suitably for the venue.
  • Keep your hands off of her. It is disrespectful to assume you have any kind of access to her body just because she said “yes” to a date. Treat her as if she might become your best friend’s wife. It could happen.  
  • Don’t talk about sex or your “ex”. These conversations are for way down the line.
  • Pay for the date. Don’t ask that she split the bill – and let her know up front that you want to treat her. Pick something you can afford – even if it’s just modest.       
  • Choose a public and lively atmosphere for first dates. Intimate restaurants and meeting places are for serious relationships.
  • Don’t overshare. Keep the conversation light and polite. She doesn’t need to know that you battled depression or that you wet your bed until you were 14. Those are details best saved for much later. Limit talking about other people, especially people she doesn’t know (like your family).  
  • Ask her general questions about herself and her life, not intimate details. And keep the conversation balanced between talking and listening. Don’t dominate the conversation or fail to participate. Listen for the kinds of activities that she enjoys so that you can use that information for planning other dates if you are interested in pursuing the relationship.

 As a believer, you are representing Christ. You should match your behavior to your beliefs. You are worthy of respect, but you must also act respectable. It will pay dividends as you pursue a lifelong relationship.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Can Emotional Intelligence Predict Relationship Success?

As a kid I remember taking all kinds of IQ tests. Some of them were pretty annoying, like the pattern recognition ones. I think those ones kept me out of shop classes. Maybe they thought I would hurt myself or something. Others probably got me into AP classes where I had to work harder for the same grades. Whatever.

These days more and more attention is being paid to the concept of emotional intelligence as a predictor of success in certain areas of life. The business world has used it to determine who will make a good employee or associate. The same criteria might be helpful in determining the probability of success in marriage as well.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.

One model (the ability model) posits that there are four abilities connected with EI:
  1. Perceiving emotions – the ability to detect and decipher emotions in faces, pictures, voices, and cultural artifacts—including the ability to identify one's own emotions. Perceiving emotions represents a basic aspect of emotional intelligence, as it makes all other processing of emotional information possible.                                                                                         
  2. Using emotions – the ability to harness emotions to facilitate various cognitive activities, such as thinking and problem solving. The emotionally intelligent person can capitalize fully upon his or her changing moods in order to best fit the task at hand.
  3. Understanding emotions – the ability to comprehend emotion language and to appreciate complicated relationships among emotions. For example, understanding emotions encompasses the ability to be sensitive to slight variations between emotions, and the ability to recognize and describe how emotions evolve over time.
  4. Managing emotions – the ability to regulate emotions in both ourselves and in others. Therefore, the emotionally intelligent person can harness emotions, even negative ones, and manage them to achieve intended goals. 

Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman’s model has five constructs: 
  • Self-awareness -- the ability to know one's emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
  • Self-regulation -- involves controlling or redirecting one's disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
  • Social skill -- managing relationships to move people in the desired direction
  • Empathy - considering other people's feelings especially when making decisions and
  • Motivation - being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement. 

It would seem that the higher the emotional intelligence you have, the more likely you would be able to make positive adjustments within a relationship. Some researchers suggest that it is possible to increase our EI and therefore become more successful (skill building). Nan and I would tend to agree with that assessment since we have worked with many couples who have been able to change their behaviors towards each other, increasing their listening and empathy skills, and curbing their critical communications.

If you would like to take a simple EI assessment, a free one can be found at:

If you are brave enough, post your results in the comment box --

Thanks to Wikipedia for some of the content.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Breakups and Makeups

When Nan and I were 19 we had a breakup. We had been dating for about three years and she had gone off to live on campus at UCLA. We did our best to keep things going for a while, but somewhere into her second year we called it quits. It was painful. And it was a good choice. We were too young and too inexperienced. We both needed to stretch and grow and experience a bit more life.

We stayed apart for less than a year, but it was long enough to know that the grass was not greener on the other side of the fence.

I am concerned, however, when dating couples experience multiple breakups, especially when they are not in their teen years. When I see this happening it is a red flag for me. I can imagine that these are the same couples who threaten divorce often when things get strained in their marriage.

What is going on here? 

Just like Nan and me were back then, one or both people are not mature or emotionally stable enough to sustain an adult relationship.

I see a breakup as a good thing most of the time. The couple has recognized through the process of dating that there are factors that are, or would become long term problems. It especially takes courage when the relationship has a lot of time and effort behind it. 

Why might a couple get back together after a breakup?

  • Anxiety that they made a mistake -- Even though the choice was a good one, there might be fear that they missed something.
  • They tried dating other people but it didn’t work out -- The fear of being alone is greater than the fear of being in a potentially weak marriage. 
  • Low sense of self worth -- They believe that they probably can’t do any better, so they settle on going back to a conflictual relationship.
  • Family pressure -- Sometimes their family has bonded with the person they have been dating and doesn’t agree with the decision to break up.
  • Sexual connection -- They have engaged in a sexual relationship and find it hard to give up, even though they know they will eventually break up again. 

There may be many other reasons as well. I am not saying that all breakups should remain permanent, but many should. It is difficult to go through the grief of a separation – but it is less painful than doing it multiple times, or enduring a troubled marriage.

Proverbs 26:11 (NLT) 
As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Finding Your Personal Retreat

I grew up in a small 2 bedroom rental house, which was fine until my twin brother and sister came along. Since I had five birthdays behind me before they were born it didn’t take too many years before I started feeling a distinct lack of privacy. I made a claim on our small dining area and did my best to make it “my room” – bed and all. The problem was that it was positioned between the kitchen and living room. Except for afterhours, I entertained all kinds of unwanted guests.

When I was a bit older and could handle a hammer and paintbrush, I did my best to refurbish an old guesthouse attached to our garage. At last I had a private space back. It was my sanctuary. My piano and I turned out lots of music without disturbing anyone. I wrote, I listened and I dreamed.

These days I have a “man-cave”.

I guess I am a bit introverted by temperament, so for me this is especially important. It contains some stuff I like. It isn’t fussy, and it is usually cool and quiet. I can listen to music there, watch movies, do my devotional reading, praying or play my Rhodes piano. It is somewhere I can renew my attitude and charge my batteries.

Everyone needs a private space to find solace. Do you?

Not everyone is as blessed as I am to have a whole separate space (Nan has one, too). But for mental health reasons, known as self care, everyone should have a place to retreat to that calms and inspires them. For some it might be a bedroom or a private bathroom. For others it could be a garage or workshop. Is there a garden area or an unused alcove that is separated from the maddening crowd? Can you build or repurpose something?

Apartment dwellers may have to get creative and even find an offsite refuge. Sometimes libraries, parks or school campuses work. As a last resort there is always the local coffee bar. Nan has an annual pass to a local botanical garden.

I know that husbands and wives will often have to share the same safe haven. So decorate it together, letting it reflect both of you. Moms and dads will probably have to take turns giving each other a break. But who needs a quiet retreat more than parents of young children!

We cannot adequately connect with God in the midst of chaos and confusion. It takes some intentional disconnection from our often overwhelming busyness. I find it so much easier when I have a designated place.

Mark 6:31 (NLT)

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.