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Have A Happy Valentine's Day - ALL YEAR LONG!



Today's article will begin and end with two wonderful love poems from the gifted writers Gibran and Rumi.

First a quote from the book THE PROPHET by Kahlil Gibran. 

ON MARRIAGE

Then Almitra spoke again and said, And
     what of Marriage, master?
  And he answered saying:
  You were born together, and together you
shall be forevermore.
     You shall be together when the white
wings of death scatter your days..
     Aye, you shall be together even in the
silent memory of God.
     But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
     And let the winds of the heavens
dance between you.
     Love one another but make not a bond of love:
     Let it be rather be a moving sea between
the shores of your souls.
     Fill each other's cup but drink not from
one cup.
     Give one another of your bread but eat
not from the same loaf.
     Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each one of you be alone,
     Even as the strings of a flute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.
     Give your hearts, but not into each other's 
keeping.
     And stand together, yet not too near
together: 
   For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
   And the oak tree and the cypress grow not
in each other's shadow.

And, of course most of you know me well enough by now that I could guess that you're about to say... "Where's the meat!?" I love to be practical in my advice-giving. Let's make this fun. Here are some silly, serious, romantic and playful strategies to infuse the romance back into your relationship. Do you want to know the real trick about Valentines Day? Of course you do. Here it is... are you ready? Are you sure? NEVER let it end. Yup, the lovely work of any relationship which continues to keep the romantic fire going is just like tending any fire, not letting it go out. Now, I'll be honest, we all let our fires go out. When we're together long enough life becomes packed, we take on so many legitimate priorities it becomes challenging to balance them all and oftentimes it's assumed the relationship is strong enough to sustain continual withdrawals. And, it is, up to a point. 

My challenge is that you adopt a couple's style which involves frequent renewal. More than just once a year. Weekly is best. The amount of time is not important, of course you know it's more about the quality.

Here are some fun, unique ideas to begin to get your own mind and heart's momentum back into the good groove. 



COLLAGE 

Take a sheet of construction paper, a stack of old magazines, a pair of scissors and some tape/glue. Each take an opportunity to flip through the magazines and choose pictures that reflect what's important in your marriage/relationship. You each decide what is centered in the middle, and so forth. Once created, take the time to go over your collage together. Now, before it falls apart ;-) tale it over to Kinkos or a print shop and have it laminated. What a nice infusion for the relationship.


REMEMBER WHEN

Take out a sheet of paper and allow yourself to reminisce about the "old days." Everything qualifies no matter how silly the memory. Take breaks, flip through photo albums, invite yourself to remember your relationship. For example, my wife and I use to have a cat who could smell it in the air when we were in conflict. When this occurred Koala would come prancing into the room, usually after we'd become gridlocked on an issue. This Himalayan was huge (16 pounds at his heaviest) and full of hair. He was our peace troubadour. It was always an invitation to begin petting. The other, usually me, would pout and hold out as long as possible. My wife would invite with a simple phrase - "Double Rub?" Double rubs almost always worked, brought us back together and soon we'd be feeling soft again and laughing.


PARTNER HOLIDAY SURPRISE

Create your very own partner holidays. You know what really means something special to your partner. There's nothing better for me than a surprise trip to the sushi bar and to finish if off with a quality cigar. It melts me when Christine (my wife) comes up with something like this. A twist is to do this very same spontaneous activity with your kid(s). My son, if he ever grows tall enough, will be flying planes all over the world. A few weeks ago I spontaneously grabbed him and has sister for a weekender to Wright Patterson Air Force Base. It was incredible. PARENT REVENGE NOTE: I wore him out for a change!


CUDDLE WRAP 

Find, purchase or make your very own couples blanket. It works for kids, right!? When THE blanket comes out it's an instant invitation to cuddle. Try it. It works wonderfully.


ABSENT-MINDED MEN

I know you may only make it to the card section of a Hallmark store once per year, but don't leave without at least dropping $50 on specific and all-occasion cards. Always be prepared to pull one out as needed. My only challenge to this is trying to remember where I've put the darn things! ;-)


LOVE LETTERS

On an upcoming news show, they plan to profile the fact that Nancy Reagan has kept every love letter she has ever received from her husband, the President. What a neat thing they've each done to keep the flames of passion alive in their relationship. Is it possible your partner forgets how important s/he is to you over time? Don't let them. Write it down!


EXTRA STEPS

Mail a letter, card or small gift to your spouse for no good reason. My wife began this with me a number of years ago. Knowing that she had taken a few extra steps meant the whole world to me. She could have simply given it to me, but took the time to get a card, wrap a gift and sometimes go to the post office. Wow. Neat.


HIDDEN TREASURE

Here's one that is really fun, especially for those who like games and surprises. Pick several small gifts along a theme, wrap them and then hide each of them with a small note/hint on how to find the next one.


HUMOR 

What would we do without humor in our lives? It's elixir for the couple's soul. Buy a scrapbook. For those of you who get the daily newspaper, clip all the cartoons that reflect aspects of your relationship that you find hilarious. Paste them into your scrapbook as mementos reflecting the many quirky parts of your relationship.


Ol' FASHIONED FUN

Plan a spontaneous night of lovemaking. Set aside a special time, putting away any struggles or differences you two may be having that may have made it difficult in this area of your life and just go for it. Research is beginning to show good evidence that romantic, love-making encounters often, in and of themselves, can be very healing for the couple. 



Now we end with a rich poem from THE ESSENTIAL RUMI, written by Rumi --



THE SUNRISE RUBY

In the early morning hour,
just before dawn, the lover and beloved awake
and take a drink of water.

She asks, "Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell me the absolute truth"

He says, "There's nothing left of me.
I'm like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still stone, or a world 
made of redness? It has no resistance
to sunlight."

This is how Hallaj said, I AM GOD,
and told the truth!

The ruby and the sunrise are one.
Be courageous and discipline yourself.

Completely become hearing and ear, 
and wear this sun-ruby as an earring.

Work. Keep digging your well.
Don't think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.

Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who's there. 


May your relationship be blessed with a commitment to a flowing renewal!

 

 


Dave Turo-Shields (email)
Veteran Psychotherapist, Trainer & Life Coach

www.CounselingPros.com
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Overcoming-Depression.com
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Valentine's Day Quote


When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions
May wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
As the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you
So shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth
So is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses
Your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and
Shake them in their clinging to the earth.

by Gibran Kahlil Gibran from THE PROPHET


 

Ask Dave

 

QUESTION

Dave, Here's my question on depression.  I live with a chronic depressive (5 years) who refuses to get help and typically from what I have read about in more books than I care to recall, blames ME.  

I have stopped pandering to  the mood swings and snide remarks and have had to dig myself out of growing depression in myself (survival mode I call it).  I have not got the strength to fight on,  he has said he doesn't want, need or respect me anymore. I want the man I married back, I have told him this ,and told him we need help (marriage guidance  but aimed at his depression...) and he STILL refuses.  

I can't see that I have many other options as it's beginning to effect the kids, who are developing this negativity, so not only do I have him but them to cajole out of this blackness!!  Help... is there ANYTHING else I can do???


Angela

 

RESPONSE

 

Hi Angela,

"You can lead a horse to water..."  And no, you can't make him drink, but you can sure make him thirsty!  I would gather together every friend, relative, colleague and acquaintance you feel are both keenly aware of your husband's struggle and to whom you believe your husband has some respect for.

This gathering usually takes approximately 3 preparation sessions.  During this time you outline what your concerns are for your husband, the marriage and the family.  You ask each member present to tell of their experience of your husband's illness by their own observation.  Assign someone who's not easily upset to lead the actual intervention with your husband.    All leave the first session with the assignment to write 1 - 3 memories of how your husband's depression was observed and how it has impacted the lives and  feelings (sad, hopeless, guilt, anger etc.) of those involved. 

In the second prep session the leader has each of you practice telling your stories.  Each person needs to answer what their biggest fear is in doing the intervention, so that this fear does not get in the way of a loving intervention.

By the end of the second session, each person has had the opportunity to practice and iron out the rough spots before the actual intervention.  Also, plan out 3-5 measurable expectations and hopes that you wish for your husband to begin immediately.

For the third session, the intervention, pick an appropriate time and place.  Request that your husband please hear everyone out.  Always, always... did  I say always? -- Begin with a statement of love.  Everything flows better when coming from this place.  The leader picks each person to go one at a time.  If children are present, have them go last.  Their tears often have special meaning to a parent and can bring the loving breakthrough and openness needed for proper help to be sought out.

Allow your husband to respond and then make your requests of him.  Ask that he make a commitment of immediately seeking help from those ways outlined.  Plan a loving accountability session to come back together to discuss progress, where things need to be tweaked etc.  Make sure it's on the calendar before leaving the intervention.  Everyone show love for your husband and appreciation for his willingness to be part of a challenging sit-down.

Best wishes in recovery!

Dave Turo-Shields 

 

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