How to Preserve Your Marriage- Before You Even Start Dating

There is a lot that goes into preserving your marriage, but the one thing that I've seen destroy marriages over and over again is dishonesty.

Dishonesty is a marriage killer.

The ability and willingness to be honest with your spouse does more prevention than it ever gets credit for.

So what can you as a single person do to help yourself be honest when you don't even have a partner yet?

You, right now, as a single person can develop the theme of honesty within yourself. This is not a character trait that you either have or you don't. Honesty is a quality that you can develop day in and day out.

Here's a key:

HOW YOU TREAT ONE PERSON IS HOW YOU'LL TREAT EVERYONE

My inspiration for the above statement comes from the Father of Systems Theory, Ludwig van Bertalanffy. He helped create the concept of equifinality, which basically says that you can get to the same end through different means. It has been mostly used in the negative sense. If your parents get divorced for one reason, you are likely to get divorced, though you may come about it differently. The idea is that the there's a finality of the outcome, even if you go about getting to that outcome in non-traditional ways.

I believe that this concept can be used in the positive.

Since we do have choice, we can create positive outcomes for ourselves through many different means.

If we want the finality of our lives to be one of contentedness, then we can go about creating that through all the different spheres of our life. 

If you want the end result to be honesty, you have to create honesty in every scenario of your life.

Your life must begin to tell a consistent story of coming clean every time. 

What do you say to your boss when you are late? Do you tell the truth or do you lie? Whichever your response, you are hard wiring that into your character and personality.

Let's say you lie to your boss to avoid the consequences. This tells your brain and body that, under the circumstance of avoiding consequences, lying is the option that you choose.

Then this data, used to make this decision, is also used to make decisions regarding your relationships. You will likely lie if you are trying to avoid consequences.

Another note about honesty- 

Consequences teach us through experience. We miss out on learning possibilities when we lie and avoid consequences. 

When you get a question wrong on a test, and you are given the correct answer after the test, you'll likely remember that answer more clearly than any of the other answers. The consequence of missing the mark actually helps you remember it better. 

It is my belief that this fallen system has been redeemed by God. Sin is painful. When we make mistakes and face the consequences we experience pain.

Pain teaches us (better than any lecture ever could) that the behavior should not be repeated. 

This concept works similarly in relationships. If you are honest about a mistake there will be consequences. You'll see the hurt that the other person experiences, you'll feel the pain of having to deal with the situation. But by having that hard, honest conversation, you'll actually learn that lesson better than if you had lied and avoided dealing with it at all. Relationships take work. They are not easy. This is one of the difficult parts of having a healthy relationship and it takes training. It is worth the effort. 

Intimacy is knowing fully and loving fully.

Intimacy is not just about sex. 

Without being 100% honest with your partner, you cannot have true intimacy. If they don't fully know you, then they can't fully love you. You are the one that chooses if they get to fully know you. You make this choice every day by being 100% honest and real, or by choosing to only give them 90% of who you are.

To be fully loved requires vulnerability on your part. 

It isn't just about the other person. If you want to begin working on your ability to have intimacy you can start with honesty. 

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to work on this at home: 

What topics are difficult for me to face about myself? 

What do I wish I could change about my response to situations?

In what ways am I lying to myself in this season of my life? Where am I missing the mark on being 100% honest with myself?

Answer those questions and you will be on your way to intimacy with yourself and with God. This will strengthen you to help you become intimate with other people.

Until next time stay strong and stay vulnerable,

 

~Molly

 

P.S. If you want to work on being honest and being vulnerable in your relationships, please fill out the Contact form found here. I would love to help you as you work on creating fulfilling relationships in your life. 

 

Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

A Free Challenge + The Best Advice I got When I was Engaged!

"Don't do it." 

 

Haha, kidding. =] More on that later...

 

My colleague, Rachelle, wants to invest in your marriage AND your big day. She feels so strongly about it that she is doing a FREE 5-day workshop for you. I do hope that you'll take her up on this opportunity. 

 

Rachelle wants to help you make your picture perfect wedding feel as good as it looks, so that you begin your marriage content, satisfied, and ready for what's next! In these 5 days she will introduce you to a system she has created for couples so that they are ready for life after their big day. 

 

Doesn't that sound amazing? I wish I had known her when I was trying to plan my wedding and forever happily ever after!

 

I became engaged when I was in graduate school, so I had the blessing of amazing professors and an incredible supervisor as I was working my way towards the second biggest decision of my life. 

 

My supervisor told me many wise things, but one of the best pieces of advice she shared was to decide on ONE thing that would be really important to me as far as the wedding itself. What mattered to me the most? Once I was clear on that, I could focus my energy, and allow the rest to not matter as much. In that season of my life, that was exactly what I needed. I wanted to focus on my clients and my studies, not planning a wedding. 

 

But here's the thing, I don't have wedding planning experience or skills. Maybe you want a picture perfect day. Or maybe you need help with all the emotional stuff that is coming up for you. Maybe the stress of combining two (or more!) families is freaking you out. 

 

If you are in the midst of wedding planning, I have some great news! You can do a FREE 5-Day Challenge with Rachelle and come out of this challenge with those wonderful nuggets of clarity, purpose, and encouragement. 

 

I know you will get much value from her challenge. She has 15 years of experience in this field and has worked with many different couples. 

 

She wanted me to pass along this information about the challenge:

"What you'll get from this Free 5-Day Challenge:

  1. Get clear on your wedding vision
  2. Find out what's stressing you out
  3. What are you feeling?
  4. Clarity on our wedding why and your fears
  5. Where are the gaps in your wedding planning?

                           

Join the challenge now 

and discover how couples are preparing for wedded bliss —and how you can too!"

 

This is a great opportunity for you to stretch yourself and think more deeply about what this big day means to you. 

 

I love that she takes the stress and anxiety of wedding planning and makes it an experience that is enjoyable and meaningful. 

I admire her desire to see a wedding day be more than thousands of dollars on a great party. She wants your wedding to be worthwhile.

 

A note for my Christian followers:

When I talked to her about the details of this challenge, she said that she herself doesn't identify as a Christian. However, if you're a Christian, don't let that stop you from gaining the wisdom and truth that she has to offer! She still supports the value of marriage and wants to help you succeed in starting off on the right foot with your future spouse. 

 

Be smart about the work you do for your wedding and happily ever after. 

 

Until next time, 

 

~Molly

...

 

 

If you are looking for some pre-marital coaching, please fill out my Contact form. I would love to work with you to prepare for what comes after "I do." It's important! 

When to break up with your therapist (and the secret phrase you need to do it!)

A friend recently asked me how to know if she should break up with her therapist. 

 

Apparently, if you don't go to graduate school for counseling/marriage and family therapy/social work, this isn't something that you've probably learned in your life! 

 

It can be hard to find the right person to help you with your struggles.

 

Not every counselor is going to be a good fit with every person. 

 

In fact, they will definitely NOT be a good fit for some. Knowing this information going into your first session can be really helpful because it is a load off of your shoulders. You don't have to make this relationship work. It doesn't have to be forced. There are plenty of other professionals to check out if you don't work well with this one. 

 

Some people have their feelings about it this way:

 

"She's cognitive, and I'm more of a feeler." 

 

"He's nice, but I feel awkward in the room, I can't relax."

 

"She quotes movies that I've never seen and I don't get it." 

 

"I don't think she really understands what I want to work on."

 

"He doesn't give me any hope at all!" 

 

These are red flags. They do NOT mean that this a bad professional. It does mean that you probably won't maximize your growth potential working with them. 

 

Your counselor KNOWS that not everyone is going to feel comfortable around him/her. In fact, they appreciate it when you are honest about it! 

 

You are dealing with relationship issues already, you don't want to have relationship issues with your counselor too

 

Keep in mind it doesn't have to be 100% comfortable 100% of the time. In fact, it probably won't be. You are coming in to do some hard work and that is often very uncomfortable, but having the right person to walk with you through the pain and support you through it can make a big difference.

 

Here's the magical sentence you can use to break up with your counselor:

 

"I don't think this is the best fit, do you have some referrals that you think might be able to help me? I'm really looking for someone who..." 

 

and then fill in the blank. Be honest with them, they probably know someone who fits the bill. Do you want more practice in session? Do you want less practice and more talking? Do you want to tackle issues cognitively or emotionally? Do you want someone to talk about things from a spiritual standpoint? Whatever it is you want, I'm confident that there is someone out there who you'll love working with because they work the way that will help you grow. 

 

You do NOT need to be concerned about hurting the feelings of the professional. If they have hurt feelings, then they have some issues that they need to work on. Right now your number one priority is figuring out the issue that you're coming in for (AND finding the best person to help you obviously falls under that.) 

 

Many therapists/counselors/social workers will offer a free consultation to see if you're a good candidate before you have to drop any cash.

 

TAKE THEM UP ON THIS OFFER. It helps you, but it also helps them too! They want to work with people who feel comfortable with them and work well with them. They like seeing you grow, and if you two aren't a good fit, then you won't grow the way that you could with someone else who IS a good fit. 

 

(total plug here, I offer a free 30-minute initial consultation, and I even do it in person so you can get a genuine feel for what working with me is like! If you want one of those free consultations CLICK HERE

 

There are many professionals who are ready, willing, and able to help you specifically. If you don't believe me, type your zip code into Psychology Today and see who pops up! Don't give up if you haven't found the right one after 2 or 3 attempts. I know how hard it can be. The search for the right fit is worth your time. Once you've found that magical fit of the best helper you'll want to hang on to their number long after your issue is resolved. Who knows when you might want to pop back in to see them for something else that comes up?

 

It can take a lot of tries before you find a good fit with a coach/counselor/social worker/therapist.

Don't give up! Use the initial consultation to feel it out and see what you think. It's also a great idea to check out professionals with different educational backgrounds. You may find that you prefer one approach to another.

 

Until next time,

 

~Molly

 

P.S. If you want to give coaching a try, please fill out the Contact form found here. I would love to meet you to see if we'd be a good fit! 

 

 

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

When Friends Become Romantic

"For a moment Anne's heart fluttered queerly and for the first time her eyes faltered under Gilbert's gaze and a rosy flush stained the paleness of her face. It was as if a veil that had hung before her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving to her view a revelation of unsuspected feelings and realities. Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and music; perhaps...perhaps...love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath." L.M. Montgomery in Anne of Avonlea (pg 286)

 

There is a beauty that has been lost in our culture today. The beauty of small town friends who grow into loving each other is much rarer than in days past. We have gained the endless options of mates to be found on match.com, eharmony, bumble, tinder, christian mingle. This makes us think that somehow, people are better. There has to be a better option. Someone will be nearer to perfect on the next site. In reality, giving you a choice of 10 mates or 100 mates doesn't change the quality of the mates. It gives you more options, but more does not equal better.

 

***Vulnerability alert*** I'm about to get real and personal.

 

When you meet some people, you feel something immediately. You feel a spark, you get embarrassed to talk in front of them and hyper self-conscious. You automatically know that you are attracted to them.

 

Other people, when you meet them, don't even cause a blip on your radar. You don't feel nervous in front of them because they don't feel like 'an option.' Until one day something changes. 

The sentiment shifts.

It grows.

Your heart moves. 

 

That's how it was for my husband and I. This is how it works for many people. 

My husband and I were friends first. Actually, we were acquaintances. We ran in the same circles and on paper we almost looked like the same person. You could check off all the same groups we were a part of, hobbies and interests, we even selected the same mentors. But I wasn't attracted to him, and he wasn't attracted to me. Until one day, a slight shift occurred. I can't put it as eloquently as Montgomery, but when I read that paragraph it fit perfectly.

 

Suddenly, (probably due to the prayers of friends who wanted me to be in a healthy relationship) I could see things that I hadn't seen before. He didn't change, but my perspective of him did change.

 

However, it didn't all flow smoothly and easily from there. This kind of dating also has its risks.

 

How do you go about changing the relationship?

 

How can you take it slow when you already know them so well?

 

What if my perspective changed, but his didn't? Or visa versa?

 

What if the old perspective came back in a flood, and suddenly I wasn't attracted to him anymore?

 

What if it didn't go anywhere and we both felt stuck?

 

What if it DID go somewhere?

 

All of these questions worried me, but the risk was worth the reward. You may lose a friend if it doesn't work out. You may gain a lifelong loving partner if it does.   

 

If you are in a similar situation and you're trying to navigate the awkwardness- you are not alone. The wondrous part of relationships is that the beauty of it all can continue to grow week after week, month after month, year after year. Keep your eyes open and your heart open. You never know what God is up to or what He can do. My hope in sharing this is that you feel hope. Maybe you don't see anyone as "an option" right now, but your perspective might change. The horizon may open up new possibilities yet.

 

Until next time,

 

~Molly

 

P.S. If you want to talk with someone about this please fill out the Contact form found here. I would love to walk beside you through this! 

  

A Paradoxical Way to Boost Your Relationship Satisfaction

We all want to have healthier, happier relationships, whether romantic or otherwise. 

 

We long for deep connection with other people. We were wired for intimacy and deep connections with a few close, trusted people. 

 

If you want to boost your relationship satisfaction there is a seemingly counter-intuitive, way to do this. 

 

"Love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away..." Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

 

If you want to deepen your relationships, you need to spend time in SOLITUDE. 

 

I've recently had the privilege of sharing about Self Care to a few groups of people. One thing that I emphasized is solitude. Solitude is a concept that is anti-cultural these days. People don't spend time in solitude anymore. They binge watch Netflix, or go to a spin class, or lose themselves by scrolling through a social media platform. 

 

It takes work creating a space for solitude in your life.

It isn't easy getting away from everyone and everything to be with your own thoughts. It can even be a bit scary. Removing your phone can be like removing an appendage. It feels like a lifeline, and it is in so many ways! It connects you to the world.

 

But sometimes, disconnecting from the world can be the most refreshing thing for you. When you unplug, then you have the opportunity to bring the world something original. Something that hasn't been copied from Pinterest, or stolen from another person. 

 

Solitude is a beautiful, sacred space where you unplug from everything and everyone. By removing yourself from all your work, home, and other stress, you can get to know yourself. You can begin to recognize your own voice. Solitude is deeper than a yoga class or a hike by yourself. It has the connotation of being lonely, but by embracing the loneliness you can feel truly filled. 

 

"Love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away..." Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

It is normal to be uncomfortable in solitude. Sit in the uncomfortable. 

 

  • When you are alone, what do you feel?

 

  • Without someone or something to distract your thoughts, what do you think about?

 

  • What does your voice sound like when you talk to yourself?

 

  • When you pray in solitude, what happens?

 

  • Do you feel lonely when you intentionally seek solitude? 

 

Solitude is taking the opportunity to be vulnerable with yourself.

To show yourself your shame and to accept the grace that you desperately need. 

 

So yes, it is a paradox. I can hear you now, "You're telling me that if I want connection I should disconnect?" 

 

Yes. Disconnect with the world so that you can connect to yourself. Don't numb, or distract, but actually connect with yourself. 

 

If you are seeking a relationship, or you are unsatisfied with your current one, schedule a time of solitude.

Take a journal and write out your thoughts. Listen to your own voice. Get to know yourself. Even the ugly parts. Especially the ugly parts. Don't shy away from it. 

 

When you practice being vulnerable with yourself, then you can be vulnerable with others.

If you can't be vulnerable with yourself, it will be even more difficult for you to be vulnerable with others.

 

True intimacy comes from a connection at the point of vulnerability. 

 

If you're feeling unsatisfied with your relationship- take some time to be in solitude. See what happens. You may find that you weren't satisfied with them because you weren't clued in to what is going on with you. It's hard to be intimate with another person when you don't know what's going on in your own heart. 

 

By the way, I didn't come up with this whole solitude idea. Retreating to solitude was Jesus' mode of operation. So I can't take credit.

 

I hope you do more than try this out. I hope you create a rhythm in your life where solitude has a regular space.

 

Until next time, take some solitude,

 

~Molly

 

P.S. If you want to talk with someone about this please fill out the Contact form found here. I would love to walk beside you through this! 

  

An Open Letter to the Violated

Women (and men) often find themselves being violated. They set up boundaries and other people don't respect those boundaries. Violating another human being in a sexually aggressive way is absolutely unjustifiable. Manipulating another person for one's own sexual gratification is absolutely wrong. But, for some reason, it continues to happen.

"Why does this keep happening to me?" you ask yourself.

There's no good reason for that. We live in a very messed up world that doesn't function in purity or beauty as it was designed to do.

What happened to you wasn't fair, it wasn't right, it was not invited.

It was not and is not okay.

"Is it my fault for being kind? Am I sending the wrong message?" you ask yourself.

You question if you invited the violation because of your kindness.

This makes my heart hurt. Let me answer this question for you. In NO way is this your fault. Kindness invites kindness. Anything else that shows up is uninvited and not your fault.

Your sexual relationship is more than a personal decision. The fact that it is sexual means that it involves others. It impacts other people too. It involves your emotions as well as your body. It impacts your relationships.

If you're a person who's been violated sexually, you've been violated in more than a physical way. You feel this and know it.

"How can I move forward? I feel so broken."

If you feel broken, you are not alone.

If you want to move forward, but feel paralyzed, you are not alone.

That doesn't have to be the end of your story.

"Wholeness is brokenness owned and thereby healed" ~Sister Barbara Fiand (as quoted in Abba's Child, pg 74)

If you've been violated- talk about it. You don't need to hide. People can hurt people, and people can heal people. They can help heal you and restore you. Allow other (trustworthy) broken people to walk with you.

Shame does not have to be the theme of your story.

Once you begin to share your story, you get your sense of power back, piece by piece.

Just because you've been violated once, or many many times, does NOT mean it is in your future.

Brokenness doesn't have to be the end of your story. There is hope. There is redemption. There is purity and healing for you.

Turn to Christ. He washes us completely clean and heals us. He makes us new. He can make life from dust. He can make beauty from ashes. He can breathe life back into your paralyzed body. He can heal your hurts, all of them. The physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain- He can heal all of it. He can remind you of how much you are loved.

Thank you for continuing to fight the good fight. You are important. Your boundaries are important.

Until next time- take care, ~Molly

P.S. If you want to talk with someone about this please fill out the Contact form found here. I would love to walk beside you through this! 

Do This One Thing Before Starting a New Relationship

This blog post is for single people. If you are not currently married, then keep on reading. 

 

Before you begin a new relationship- end your current one. 

 

This sounds basic, but it isn't!

 

Many people fail to close one chapter of their lives before starting a new one. This hurts them and their loved ones.  

 

Please, for the love of others and the love of self, end your relationship before starting a new one. 

 

If you find yourself in a relationship that needs to end- it probably hurts. 

 

Here are some indicators that you're in an unhealthy relationship: 

 

Things were going great, until you took a good look and realized that they weren't.

 

Suddenly you find that you don't stay up talking late into the night anymore.

 

You rarely see each other, or if you do, there's no connection. 

 

They don't have the same life goals and values that you do.

You have a lot of chemistry, but no idea how to be partners in life together.

 

You fight all the time.

You don't fight at all, because there is no emotional charge to the relationship anymore.

 

Your relationship isn't moving towards anything. It is stale. Stagnant.  

 

It's over and you know it in your gut. You know it because you've prayed about it and you feel a gentle tug to trust Him and to walk away from this relationship. You know it because your closest friends and family are worried about you. You keep ignoring the red flags waving in your face. 

 

Regardless of the reason, eventually you will come to that place when you know it is time, but it is SO HARD to end a relationship. 

 

Things you say to yourself to put off ending a relationship: 

 

  • "But we were great together."  
     
  • "We love each other."
     
  • "We've bonded over 4 years together." 
     
  • "We've been together so long, I don't know if I can do life by myself."
     
  • "I don't know how to be in a relationship with anyone else."
     
  • "I am afraid to be alone."
     
  • "I need the physical connection."

 

Those things may all be true. 

 

But is that a reason to waste your entire life, just plugging along with no introspection?

You are spending the most important resource you have (time) with someone who isn't their best when they are with you and doesn't bring out the best in you. That's wasteful! It is a waste of your life and time and resources and it is a waste of theirs! 

 

Here are some indicators that you're in a healthy relationship: 

 

The person you are with values you. (You can tell because they seek your opinion and share theirs. They want to spend time with you, and not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.)

 

The person that you are with sharpens you. (You light up when they are around. You feel more confident with them at your side. They make you think about things differently. They magnify the best parts of you, instead of shrinking you down.) 

 

When you two are together, you are more of a presence than each of you apart. (The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.)

 

Your life feels joyful when you consider them. (Not miserable, or even tolerable, but full of joy.) 

 

 

Of course, there are ups and downs in relationships. It isn't rainbows, butterflies and puppies every day- come on people, be real. But these are some themes that should be showing up in your life and relationship when it is a healthy one. If these aren't even remotely close to where you're at in your relationship, your relationship either needs work or it needs to end. 

 

Don't make excuses- end your relationship clearly and with closure before embarking on a new journey with someone else.

This gives you integrity.

 

It gives you closure.

 

It gives you the opportunity to get to know yourself again before jumping into a new relationship. Scary as that is, you want to know yourself better. By knowing yourself better you can share deeper intimacy with others. 

 

You won't be able or ready to recognize the opportunity for a healthy new relationship unless you are willing to let go of the last one.

 

It is scary to be by yourself, especially if it has been awhile. It is hard. Scary. Uncomfortable. Awkward. 

 

But by moving through those emotions and the pain of saying goodbye to something, it allows you to open the door for something else.

 

Don't cling to mediocrity. Open up your hands to receive whatever is coming your way next. 

 

Thank you for putting serious thought into who you date and how you date. It does make a difference! 

 

Until next time- take care, ~Molly

 

P.S. If you want to talk to someone about this please fill out the Contact form found here. I would love to help you! 

Why Pro/Con Lists Don't Cut it When it Comes to Dating

You have trouble knowing which guy is the right guy. You feel all these feelings for him, but you're stuck.

 

Feelings are fleeting.

They aren't enough to make a relationship healthy because feelings are always changing. 

 

Ah! You think. I know- I'll be logical about it! I'll make a pro/con list! 

 

DON'T DO IT! 

 

Pro/Con lists fall short of what you are really needing.

 

I want you to think logically about dating the right guy.

 

I just want you to do it better than a simple Pro/Con list. 

 

Here's why Pro/Con lists miss the mark: 

 

1) They look like they are objective, but they aren't. 

 

You know this is true. You start to feel like the sides are becoming uneven. You start to fill in one side and then when it becomes too uneven you jump to another. You may even ask your friends or family for input. They will strengthen one side or another, depending on their perceptions of the situation. You can always skew the results to go with how you are feeling at the moment. 

 

2) They don't tell the whole story. 

 

A pro/con list tells only ONE side of the decision. For example: Should I date my coworker? Your Pro/Con list will only show one part of that decision. 

 

Should I date Steve?

 

Pros: I will have more fun at work, I will be happy, We are cute together, He has good hair, He will help me with work projects, ...

 

Cons: People in the office will talk, I won't look professional, I might get fired, I'll be distracted at work, ...

 

This zeros in on ONE idea- the idea of dating Steve. It makes you focus on one potential reality. It leaves out the possibilities of NOT dating Steve or dating Josh instead. It isn't open to other opportunities. You want to see the whole picture of your decision, not just one part. 

 

3) They put a lot of pressure on the length of each side. 

 

You see that one side is longer than the other and you automatically think that makes the decision for you. Instead, you should be looking at the quality of the Pros and Cons. Yes, it is a Pro that he has good hair, but does that have the same weight as you potentially getting fired? No. Unless dating a guy with good hair is the number one value in your life.

 

As we process things visually and we see uneven distribution we automatically feel that one side has more weight than the other.

 

Piaget noticed that at a certain point children recognize that the amount of a substance remains the same even when superficial features change. Once you have passed through that stage of development (which, if you are reading this, then you definitely have), then you understand that an 8oz bottle is an 8oz bottle, even if one of them is short and fat and the other long and lean. You understand that the appearance doesn't change the volume. 

 

But, a list is abstract. It is much more difficult to convince yourself of the weight of a Pro or a Con as it sits in words on a page. Even though your brain as an adult is fully developed, it can still be conned into thinking that because there are so many more Pros than Cons that this is the right decision- even if the Pros are minuscule comparatively. 

 

If you must make a list:

Instead of a Pro/Con list, make a list of GAINS and LOSSES for BOTH sides of the decision***.

This is much less about the list itself. It is more about the experience of creating that reality in your mind. It allows you to fully feel the weight of what it would be like to step through a door of opportunity, or alternatively, to close that door. You can create these lists by putting yourself in the future in your mind and picturing everything that you would gain and lose by making that decision. You should be able to make a list of at least 20 on each. 

 

For example: 

If I were to date Steve I would gain:

  • A romantic relationship.
  • A mature boyfriend.
  • Confidence in myself.

 

If I were to date Steve I would lose: 

  • The respect of my coworkers. 
  • Potentially my job. 
  • Time with my children. 
  • My ability to do what I want when I want. 

 

Wait at least a day before switching to the gains and losses of a new decision. Allow yourself to sit in the emotions it brings up for you before jumping to the next list. Keep adding and adding, even when you think you're done.

 

Then, the next day or a week later you can do the same with an alternative option. It might look like this: 

If I were to turn Steve down I would gain: 

  • A more productive work environment. 
  • Some more time to myself to do the things I really want.
  • More time with my children.

If I were to turn Steve down I would lose: 

  • His adoration/closeness. 
  • The special attention (flirting) he's been giving me at work. 
  • The confidence I've had lately. 

***This concept of Gains and Losses is not my own. I learned about it from my supervisor Dr. Jennifer Nelson during my time at Friends University. 

 

Remember that abstract words on a page are difficult to process. After you have made your lists, you can re-write them on unlined paper. Make some items bigger or smaller, using different colors to represent the feelings that come up. You can underline and highlight important ones. Make the items large that really loom large in your mind and on your heart. This will make a more accurate depiction on paper of what you feel and see in life. 

 

Thank you for putting serious thought into who you date and how you date.

It matters!

 

Until next time- take care,

~Molly

 

P.S. If you want to talk to someone about this please fill out the Contact form found here. I would love to help you! 

The #1 Dating Mistake You DON'T Want to Make

Meet Jessi. She's pictured below.

She's going to tell us about a dating mistake she made, and how you can avoid it. 

Jessi is a 27-year-old world adventurer. She grew up in a small town in Kansas and has since traveled to many different places. She's been in banking, marketing, and had varying career paths. Most recently she decided to teach English. She took a TEFL course. Then she picked up and moved to Germany because she felt like God was calling her to adventure there. 

 

Isn't she awesome? Are you in love with her already? 

 

She's going to teach about dating today. We had a great talk, and she shared with me what it is like to be a Christian woman in the world of dating. She shared a lot of juicy information, but the one thing that seemed most important to share is this key idea:

 

#1- Don't compromise your standards

 

Jessi had a list that summed up her dream guy. This list covers the most important qualities, character traits, and habits that she wants her man to have.

(Sorry gentlemen, she didn't share the complete list with me. She did have an item that might surprise you- we'll get to that in a minute.) She felt like God laid those things on her heart, but her friends said, "Jessi, your criteria is never going to be met. And if you keep up your list of what you want in a guy, you're going to be single forever." 

Uhhhhh, pump the brakes- what?? This is so NOT okay. It sounds like a lie that the world tells us doesn't it?

Those people made Jessi doubt her own beliefs. She said "I have a really specific list. Like, I want to marry a guy who is a virgin, and people were like, Jessi, just erase that off your list, you're never going to find that. So when I was 23 years old I was like, you know what? I'm forgetting about this list. I'm just going to date someone and if I like him, then I like him. So I met this guy, and I liked him. And he was a really sweet guy. But he didn't fit everything that was really on my heart. But I ignored it. I told myself that I needed to be open minded and so I'm just going to ignore my list. And to be completely honest, he didn't have ANYTHiNG I wanted on my list." 

 

Jessi learned the hard way that changing her standards didn't help her. 

 

Jessi and I have different ideas about the specifics of the list, but that's another post for another day. The key takeaway here is for you to get clear on what's important to you, and stick with it! Don't let your friends, a guy, or even your family change the standards that you have stamped in your heart and conscience. 

 

"God created you for you to have that list in your head of what you want in a guy. But so many people settle, and they think, 'okay I need to settle because this isn't attainable.' But then they are unhappy and then they end up being mad at the guy because he doesn't add up to this list, and that's just not fair. I realized that I had resentment that he didn't fulfill my list. It started crouching into our relationship. I started to get mad at him for stupid stuff and it was because I wanted someone different. And I was almost trying to change him.

 

So, keep that darn list! There's a reason you have it. There's a reason God put that in your heart." 

 

You can't throw away your values. They always come back to you. If you stuff your values and pretend like you can get over them- it'll bite you in the butt. When that happens you have a few options. You can:

 

  • try and change the person you're with (read=WILL END POORLY)

  • change your values (read= HIGH RISK)

  • let go of the person you're with (read=OUCH).

 

None of those options are fun. It is hard to let someone go, and that's what Jessi decided to do. It was hard. It hurt. But it was the best thing for her AND for him. 

 

"Through it I learned how I wanted my guy to treat me and what I didn't want to deal with and what I wanted to put up with, all that stuff. So it was a good learning point for me. It made me realize that I want to keep that list. My heart still really felt like if God doesn't want to fulfill that list, then He'll change my heart. He'll make me okay with it."   

 

It's best to keep your dreams from the beginning. Make sure the person you're dating has a parallel life with parallel dreams that you can work with. They don't have to have the same exact life goals as you, but they can't conflict.

 

The lesson we can learn from this is that your standards and values are important.

Don't throw them away. It will put you in a place of pain. If you are in that place where you feel stuck and have to make a decision, reach out to me. I want to help you through that. It is tough and you don't have to do it alone. 

 

Until next time- take care,

 

~Molly

P.S. If you want to talk with someone about this stuff- shoot me a text: (480) 771-0942 I'd love to help! 

27-year-old Christian womderful woman Jessi

What No One Tells You About Over-Analyzing

It feels ironic to be writing a blog post about over-analyzing. I feel like it might add more fuel to the fire and give you more information to over-analyze. 

But if you read this post and ACTUALLY apply it- you'll be and feel and function better! 

 

Why you are over-analyzing:

#1- You're scared to make a decision/you feel like you won't make the right decision. 

You over-analyze because you would rather think and logicalize (I know this isn't a word, but you get it) your way around making a decision than feeling the emotions of that decision or actually make a decision. It's too scary. So you think about it, dwell on it, get it stuck in your head like an annoying song, and then you talk to all your friends about it. All without moving forward. Not very helpful. 

 

#2- You're avoiding a decision you know you should make

In this case, you know the decision you should make. You feel it in your gut, but you don't want to make the change. It is either inconvenient or uncomfortable or you don't like change. Change is too scary and too hard. 

 

#3- You don't know how to analyze a situation in a healthy way and then follow it with a decision. 

This takes practice and coaching. You might need someone to say "ENOUGH! Make the decision already." It's hard to know when you have enough information, but life moves quickly, and if you spend all your time making the decision, you won't have any time left to enjoy the decision you've made. 

 

How to stop over-analyzing:

 

#1- You can learn to recognize your thoughts

that lead to over-analyzing situations, and then you train yourself to take the exit ramp off the worry expressway (not to be confused with Highway 60, which always causes me stress for some reason!) by distracting yourself with other things. You already recognize when you're over-analyzing situations. You catch yourself doing it. The key is to start catching yourself sooner and sooner, and before you know it, you can catch yourself right as you are getting started and then choose to do something different. 

 

#2- Allow yourself an amount of time to journal

about this particular situation. By getting things down in black and white you can literally see your thoughts. This takes them from being abstract and in your mind to something tangible that you feel you have control over. Things suddenly become clear. The time restriction is important here. When the timer goes off, finish your sentence and walk away. Force yourself to practice the habit of managing your thoughts. 

 

#3- Pray about it

You'll hear this often from me. I don't care. We are designed to be in communication with our Creator constantly. If you are stressing about a situation, bring it to Him. Talk openly with Him about it. Listen to what He has to say. He may offer you a specific step or He may be silent. Either way, your job is to bring it to Him. 

 

#4- Serve another person.    

Put aside your own thoughts and your own situation and seek out other people who you can serve in some small way. Allow yourself and your own issues to go on the back-burner while you take care of someone else. Not only is this what we are called to do, but this puts our own issues into perspective and reminds us that there is a bigger purpose outside of what we may be seeing at the moment. If we are so concerned with ourselves, it leaves very little room to serve other people. Over-analyzing can be a disguise for selfishness. 

 

#5- Make a small decision

No matter how small, it will help you gain confidence and will allow you to learn from the experience. This increases your decision-making abilities for next time when the decision is a bit bigger. 

 

Over-analyzing is sometimes glorified in our culture, but it can be debilitating.

It keeps you from living your life because you are contemplating instead of living! You're thinking about all the possible outcomes and often, especially if you are a perfectionist you're thinking of all the ways you could screw it up.

Stop over-analyzing and start living. If you want help applying the principles above, I'd be happy to help you along. I have appointments available. (480) 771-0942

Until next time- take care,

~Molly

I'm taking a break from dating!

I hear this all the time. "I am so over the dating scene. I'm taking a break from dating!" 

Then, a week later, you're back on Eharmony, Christian Mingle, Match, Plenty of Fish, or whatever Christian dating site you're currently using. It's like an addiction.  It may make you feel better that you're taking yourself out of the game for a minute or two. If you need a breather, that's fine! But if you want to have a little more purpose with your break, keep reading. 

I'm not going to tell you whether to take a break from dating, but what I will do is outline what a good break looks like and how to do it well if you really want to take a break. 

 

  • Decide the purpose for the break.
    Why are you taking a break? What do you hope to accomplish? Do you want to give time for more people to join on the site? Are you looking for a personal breakthrough? What is the goal of this break?

 

  • Depending on the purpose, set aside enough time for the purpose to come to fruition. Personal goals don't happen overnight. They take time and effort. Take into account how much time your goal might take to complete and give yourself a window of time to complete it. 

 

  • Give the password to your dating sites to a good friend.
    Have her change the password for you and don't get the new one from her until A) You've hit your goal and achieved your purpose OR B) The allotted window for your break has passed.  Bonus: If you want extra accountability tell her your goals and have her keep you accountable to hitting them before logging back into the online dating scene. 

 

  • Decide what you'll do with your extra time.
    This goes a little more specific than the overarching goal. Figure out how much time you spend on the dating sites, and then picture yourself doing other things during that time. Will you take up knitting? Or piano lessons? Do you have a book you've been trying to finish? What do you want to do with this small bit of extra time? Picture yourself doing those things. Celebrate the fact that you are taking this time for you, and really soak it in! 

 

  • Set the rules for your break.
    You're a grown up. You know your weaknesses. Decide what your rules are and stick to them! Will you allow yourself to be set up on blind dates during this time?  What if you meet someone randomly, will you go out with them during this time if they initiate?  What if an old fling shows up and you think it's worth giving it another try, do you have to wait til your break is over? Think through these scenarios, but more importantly, come up with your own. What issues do you expect to have? Playing out your decisions ahead of time will help your brain to actually relax during your break (because the decision has already been made, you just have to carry it out.) This is way better than overanalyzing and second guessing every little detail. You don't have to follow the rules that you set, but if you don't, what does that tell you about your follow-through? Think about that!

     

  • Finally, PRAY ABOUT IT. Christians need to stop talking about praying and start actually doing it. It's hard. It's not glamorous. It requires being quiet. But it is so worth it. Tell God what is in your heart and in your thoughts. See what He has to say back. Maybe you won't hear anything clearly, but maybe you will. It is up to you to keep asking, seeking and knocking.

How do you want to spend your break- with self-doubt and questioning, or with a sense of purpose and joy? I hope you choose the latter.

Remember when we were in school and breaks were fun? You can get that feeling of freedom back by following the guidelines above.

 

Until next time- take care,

 

~Molly

 

P.S. If you want to talk with someone about this stuff- shoot me a text: (480) 771-0942 I'd love to help! I have appointments available.

4 questions to ask yourself before moving forward in a relationship

You've been talking to this girl for awhile now. She seems to like you a lot. You definitely like her and you want to move forward, but how the do you know when it is time to move forward? 

Here are 4 questions to ask yourself before moving forward in a dating relationship:

 

How long have you guys known each other?

 

Because duh. If you met them today that's something to keep in mind. Sometimes it feels like you've known them forever, but take a second and think about how long it has actually been. 

 

Have you been hanging out in different environments? 

 

AKA, do you guys always go out to eat on dates, or do you do things more in line with who you are as a person? I would suggest doing some other stuff besides eating and watching movies together. The Superstition Mountains are AWESOME. Try taking a hike- plus you get the benefit of seeing what your date looks like in the daylight.

Or if you're more of a "stop and smell the roses" kind of a guy, you could take a stroll through the Mesa Community College Rose Garden https://rosegarden.mesacc.edu/rosegardenatmcctours.html
It's a public garden open 24/7! Whatever you do on your dates, learn more about each other so you see more than how they treat your server at the restaurant. You can see how they treat other people, if they enjoy nature, etc.

If you're super into something (like quilting or playing video games) invite your date to join you for a class or a lesson on those things. You can learn a lot about someone when you see them in different settings.

 

Have you seen her in her own environments? 

Do you know her friends, where she works, what she does for fun, etc. and how she behaves in those different settings? Ask her if she has any specific hobbies she'd like to share with you. Maybe she's really into watching chef shows and re-creating gourmet meals. See what you can learn about her by her routines and what she enjoys doing. Take the opportunities to get to know her friends and hang out in groups. Not only is it fun, but you'll gain so much knowledge from it! You can see the role that she takes on with her different friends and the different parts of her personality will show up. Be open to trying new things together and take notice of how she acts. When is she most in her element? Do you find yourself attracted to her then? 

 

What do you guys have in common, and what is way different?

What kind of church does she go to? What does she do for fun? What schedules do you guys have? What are her big dreams and do they clash with yours? What is her involvement with her family? These are just good things to know. Remember- differences are not deal breakers, but it is good to go into a relationship with knowledge. 

 

After asking yourself these questions- what's the feel you get? If your head is spinning with what you don't know, then take the time to find these things out. If you've got a good grasp on most of these issues and you feel like you haven't seen any red flags yet, then prepare yourself for your "next step" or as we used to call it the "DTR" conversation- and enjoy it, who knows? It could be your last one! 

 

Until next time- take care,

~Molly

P.S. If you want to talk with someone about this stuff- shoot me a text: (480) 771-0942 I'd love to help! 

Why Relationships Fail

I'm not going to give you some cliché answer that your friend might give you post-break-up. I won't say that he wasn't good enough for you, or he sucks or he doesn't even know what he's walking away from. Those are fine things for your friend to say if they are true. It's awesome to have great friends who give you encouragement in that crappy moment.

But, I'm not your friend so I'm going to give you something better. A takeaway for your next relationship to end differently- or not at all. 

Relationships can fail for a million different reasons. I'm not even going to pretend to scratch the surface of it today. But here are two reasons for you to think about. 

Reason number #1 - you aren't ready to be in a relationship

"What??? Rude!" - that's what you're saying to me.

I know.

I know.

But think about it... are you?

Are you really ready to be in a relationship? Do you feel like you're making healthy choices in other aspects of your life? Have you dealt with the baggage from the last relationship? Are you seeking attention for your self-esteem?

What about the way you spend your time- do you spend your time in ways that bring you joy and bring value to others?

Are you "mature" - not in the world's eyes, but in your eyes, in God's eyes? Do you feel like you're growing at least? Making progress?

Look- you don't have to be perfect for your relationship to succeed. But, you do have to be growing. 

Reason your relationship failed #2- your partner wasn't ready. 

For all the same reasons above- she might just not be ready. She has baggage from her last relationship so she can't believe you when you say she's beautiful. She's afraid to love. She isn't quite ready to be with you because she's afraid it will actually work and last. Any number of these issues could be true.

That's okay. It isn't your fault. 

If that's your situation right now- that totally sucks. It hurts when you love them and you're ready and they just aren't. Timing can be everything. 

Here's the thing: people are not perfect. We don't grow at the same rate.

Psychologists have come up with developmental milestones and supposed timelines that we should hit, but we don't all follow the same timeline, and we definitely don't follow it at the same time.

If she isn't quite ready for a real relationship with you, you can't be her Savior. Don't try to be. 

But, you CAN be a light to her. Even during a bad breakup. You can let her go with grace and without added wounding and baggage from you.

Who knows? Maybe the timing will work out later. Maybe there's a great adventure waiting for you right around the corner.

Until then- take good care of yourself,

~Molly

Is there a Soul Mate for everyone?

"Who doesn't long for someone to hold, who knows how to love you without being told. Somebody tell me why I'm on my own if there's a soul mate for everyone." ~Natasha Bedingfield in her song Soul Mate

I love music. I love the way it can make us feel things more powerfully, and can even healthily purge us at times.

But I also am a logical thinker. So I like to break down lyrics and really analyze them. I don't want to listen without considering the words that I'm ingesting.

So let's break this down Natasha. I hear you in the first phrase. "Who doesn't long for someone to hold?" Yeah, longing for someone to hold and to hold you is such a powerful feeling. It can be super lonely and depressing and super hard.

You lose me when you say "who knows how to love you without being told" Who can know how to love you without being told?!? That is setting up an unrealistic expectation for our significant other. You HAVE to tell people how to love you. No one can read minds. Not psychologists or magicians or even therapists or coaches! You still have to people them how you love to be loved.  This goes for lovers, parents, children, friends- ANYONE you're in a relationship with. You need to offer real-time feedback. "When you come home and give me a real squeeze, that makes me feel so loved and connected with you." Or "When you give me flowers on our anniversary, it makes me feel so secure in our relationship."

Things like that. It may not feel magical in the moment- but it will help your relationship to flourish. A relationship founded on honesty has a solid foundation to grow!

"Somebody tell me why I'm on my own if there's a soul mate for everyone."

This one I completely disagree with. You get married and then you become soul mates through years of hard work and compromise. (I call it mutual submission, but that's another post for another day). Reality check: SOUL MATES ARE NOT REAL. (If by some chance you do happen to find one be careful! They might change on you! People are always growing and changing- at least healthy people should be!)

Yes, you may be "in-love" or "in-fatuated" at times. But there is not ONE solitary single person in the world that you are SUPPOSED to be with. If you're a reasonable human being you could make a relationship work with another reasonable human being (most likely.) And yes, of course, some people are more compatible than others. But don't waste your life wondering and worrying about finding THE ONE, or asking yourself "IS THIS THE ONE??" You'll make yourself crazy because the answer is NO. There is no one perfect soul mate (other than God) who will never let you down and always make you feel fulfilled. So stop looking for that. Your time is way better spent working to better yourself. Ask yourself if you have the character qualities that you're looking for in other people. Do you want someone kind, generous, and goal-oriented? Ask yourself: "Am I kind? Am I generous? Am I goal-oriented?" If not- work for those qualities that you're looking for.

What you focus on you create. Focus on your strengths and where you can build from there. You'll start to notice yourself grow those qualities in yourself. Think about the impact THAT will have on your interactions with others.

A Glimpse into Rory Gilmore's first Coaching Session

Spoiler Alert: This blog contains references to the most recent release of GG- A year in the life. 

I've been a Gilmore Girls fan forever. It's only natural I should kick off my blog with these ladies.

In "A year in the Life" Rory was not living the life that she knew she should. She couldn't remember to break up with Pete, or Paul, or whatever that guy's name was. She barely remembered she was dating him. She was cheating on him. She treated him awfully. And that's not Rory. It wasn't who she wanted to be and it wasn't right. 

There are ways to date well and ways to really screw it up.

Yeah. I'll say it, even though Lorelai wasn't able to. Rory did treat him awfully. That didn't make her awful, but the actions she was taking weren't healthy or good for her or for anyone. Is that really how anyone would want to treat someone else???

If she had come to me and gotten some relationship coaching, her life could have looked a lot differently.

First, she would have become clear about her goals. What is it really that she wants when it comes to her relationships? Let's get clear on that and write some things down. She'd have to sit for just a minute. Slow down. Think about what she really really wants. Then she'd write them down. Make them clear. I probably would have asked her these questions: 

"Do you want to be in a secret relationship with an engaged man?"

"Do you want to be in an additional relationship with someone you rarely see and have no feelings for?"

(I'm assuming her honest and truthful answer to these questions would be No. It might take her awhile to get to that point where she can be honest with herself, but I bet she could get there.)

Next, we visualize the future: 

"What kind of relationship do you want to be in?"

 "What step can you make right now to move towards that goal?"

I'd help her focus on the present.  Once she knows what she wants to create in her future, she can come up with steps to get there. I give ideas, input, and offer suggestions, but she comes up with her game plan.

"Rory, this is about YOU and your future. What do you want it to look like?"

Let's say, for example, she wanted her future to include a healthy, exclusive relationship with a man who cared about her and was willing to commit to her. 

I'd encourage her with ideas for steps to make that happen. Who is she surrounding herself with? What does she spend her time on? What other ways could she spend her time to encourage that possibility to become a reality?

She'd then describe more of what she wanted and the steps to get there would become evident through our work. We'd break the steps down into bite sized pieces, create deadlines for them, and begin to get to work.

No more floundering.

No more confusion.

The road would not be perfect, but it would be clear. She'd likely change direction at some point because let's be honest- life changes! But she'd at least be clear on which direction she was headed and what she needed to do to get there. She could continue meeting with me weekly to make sure she stays on track with her new habits as long as she wanted/needed. She'd continue to make better and better decisions based on the values of the person she was working to become.

Now, would that make for a good show? Maybe not. I don't direct or produce shows.

But it would make for a great life.

Don't you think?  

(Disclaimer: I have no magic abilities. I can't create a perfect partner for you out of thin air, but I can help you become the person you want to be in order to attract and allow that great partner to recognize you.)