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Authors Posts by Jennifer Szeghi

Jennifer Szeghi

Jennifer Szeghi
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Columnist - Jen grew up on the outskirts of Cincinnati. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The University of Cincinnati and a Master of Arts in Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Jen has a variety of experience in the psychology field; from inpatient psychiatric facilities to courts/detention centers. She has identified the importance of taking care of yourself and your relationships to maintain a healthy and happy life. These experiences encouraged her to open a private practice in Life Coaching, which focuses on parenting issues, relationships, and stress/mood management. Jen is also an Adjunct Psychology Instructor at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. She helps students not only achieve their academic goals, but also teaches them how they can live healthy lives. Jen's main priority in life, is her family. She has a loving husband and two energetic boys. The information she has learned through her education and professional experience, she has practiced, and it has helped her in the role as a wife and a parent. In Jen's free time, she enjoys playing backyard pickup games/board games with her family; running charity races; scuba diving; trying new recipes (which keeps her motivated to cook for her family); and skiing. These activities help her maintain balance in her life and achieve her creed: Live Happy! Contact her at jennifer.szeghi@cincinnatistate.edu.

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liveinlove
During a date I once went on, the topic of conversation itself was dating. His argument in regards to dating was a negative stance. He believed dating was a waste of time, and most likely a drain on financial resources, if the relationship did not end in a successful marriage. I, on the other hand, take the affirmative stance on dating. Subsequently, this may have lead to me ending up on his list of “waste of time.”

My first rebuttal to this argument is that dating helps a person figure out a lot about herself (himself). By engaging so closely in another person’s world, one can be introduced to many situations that she has not experienced before. While I have found many people dread the first date, the only expectation I had was to learn another person’s perspective on life. With such low expectations, I was never let down (minus the dates that I was stood up on). Even if I did not agree with his perspective, I learned something new, and thus influenced who I am today. In addition, romantic relationships are a whole new territory. When you give someone your heart, you allow them the opportunity to hurt you like no one else can. It is imperative to learn how to control these extreme emotions romantic relationships can cause. You also learn important skills in order to have a healthy relationship. Dating can allow you to make these mistakes and perfect the skills on someone who you are not stuck with for life.

Point number two, dating can help you identify what characteristics in a mate that are important to you. In our vain society, there is a lot of emphasis put on the level of one’s physical attraction. One may observe while dating, that the less attractive individuals, put more effort in chivalry and having a good personality, in order to compensate. These amazing characteristics will outlast all of those good looks. Just as one may identify the characteristics she wants in a spouse, dating also allows her to identify characteristics that do not mesh with her personality. It is much better to find this out before making the lifetime commitment.

My third argument is when one dates around prior to making that nuptial agreement, she knows what is out there and APPRECIATES what she has right in front of her. When conflicts arise, as they will, one will not question if the grass is greener on the other side. She already knows the grass is a yellowish-brown, or she would have settled on that turf. Therefore, she is more willing to make the effort to improve what she does have right in front of her.

With these points, I won the argument on that date. So to all my single ladies, my advice is to enjoy this time in your life! Accept dates for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not only will you get complimentary meals, you will be preparing yourself for your successful future of living in love!

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Attention fellow superwomen of the modern day, AKA a wife and mother! Have you thought about the various roles we take on every day? We are the CEOs of our homes. We are the counselors for our husbands and kids. We are the event coordinators. We are the chefs. We are the environmental specialists. We are the chauffeurs. We are the homework specialists. We are the personal shoppers. We are the athletic trainers (with some assistance from You Tube.) We are the financial planners. We are the personal masseuses. Exedra! Exedra! Exedra! AND this does not even touch on what various roles our careers demand out of us!

 

There is something innate within us women that we are self-sacrificing. Females are the ones that can multitask as well as multi-think about everything that needs to happen to keep things running smoothly. Case in point “Behind every great man there is a great woman.” We are the people pleasers that want to make our families happy. On date night, we might say we do not care where we go, and be okay with wherever he wants to go, just to ensure our husbands are happy. We may agree to add another task to our daily lists and surrender our plans, again to guarantee someone else’s happiness. Women adapt to what is needed in their family, and while adaptation can be looked upon as a healthy trait in the ability to survive, too much of anything is never any good.

 

We need to remember to have balance in our lives. Men like it when we have an opinion. A man wants to make a woman happy. So tell him what you want and make sure your needs are getting met. Good men don’t mind adapting either. Also, making times for ourselves and engaging in our own hobbies, makes us more interesting people, resulting in a greater attraction towards us.

 

Unfortunately, I have sat with many women who have found themselves in the situation of losing themselves in their marriage. At a point of no longer loving themselves, they can no longer love their spouse. It is a point that is too late for the marriage. These women feel the only way they can find themselves is through individuation and nullifying the marriage through a divorce. Divorce statistics support this as an increasing trend for divorces.

 

Fellow superwomen we need to remember that we are the imperative piece of the puzzle in our family! If we do not take time out for ourselves to get our needs met and enjoy some free time, we will have nothing left to give. And those of you who I am speaking to knows what a catastrophe that would be if you could not give back. Just remember the truth in the quote “If mama ain’t happy, then ain’t no one going to be happy.” To the men who are reading this, make sure your woman is getting time to take care of herself and doing the things she has always enjoyed doing. After all “A happy wife is a happy life.” A woman multiplies the love she is given and gives it back to the ones she loves.

 

If you are finding yourself in this position and feel there is no time to spend on yourself, do not get overwhelmed. Start small. Try spending ten minutes a day doing something you used to enjoy doing. Knowing yourself and meeting your needs will increase your productivity! Feeling refreshed you will gradually add onto this and become healthy for yourself and your relationship! Never forget to take care of yourself and love yourself, and you will live in love!.

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When I worked in the Child/Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, part of my job description was to give hugs to the children. I was perplexed by this, as this was at a time when sexual allegations were of major concern. I admire the facility for this policy, as they acknowledged the importance physical touch was to the child’s physical and emotional development. There were patients as young as three-years-old and I observed how these children thrived off of this positive affection. Now that I am in a different phase of my life, I have learned touch to be an important aspect for the health of adults as well. In fact, researchers have found touch is one of the characteristics that successful couples exhibit in their relationship, that unsuccessful couples do not.

 

During the first few months of a relationship, especially when a person is infatuated, the couple has difficulty taking their hands off of each other. But as time goes on and life happens many couples fail to put physical affection on their list of priorities.

 

Let us break this down to understand what is happening when couples go from all to almost nonexistent. In the beginning of a relationship, the component of physical touch is very simple to maintain. Think about the first time he/she reached over to hold our hand, or your very first kiss. The physiological response this has on the brain has been compared by many experts as a “high” drugs would be likely to cause. After all, it causes an increase of dopamine in the brain, which is the same neurotransmitter that cocaine and other stimulants work on also. This results in an elevated mood (excitement and euphoria), decrease in appetite, and increased energy. Many of you have been there before; extremely excited about the new relationship that you forget to eat and cannot sleep. However, to maintain this level of dopamine in the brain over long periods of time, is not healthy for the body. Overtime, the body creates homeostasis (balance) and the physiological effects wear off.

 

This may be where many relationships enter the danger zone. Because they do not get the same feeling, or high, they used to get when touching their significant other, touching is no longer a priority in the relationship. While the dopamine may not be stimulated as much, the neurotransmitter/hormone, oxytocin (AKA The Love Hormone), is always involved in physical touch, which is significantly beneficial for the relationship.

 

The main role of oxytocin is to help a person bond with another. Mothers release a significant amount of oxytocin when they are giving birth and breast feeding their child; which helps create and strengthen the bond between her and her baby. Females release an increased amount of oxytocin when they climax during sexual experiences; causing them to bond with their partner. (This is the main culprit for females not being able to have casual sex without getting emotional attached like males can.) Every time we touch another person, oxytocin is released increasing the strength of the bond in our relationship.

 

Oxytocin has also been identified to have other effects, which indirectly result in better relationships. Everyone can relate to a time in which he/she felt stressed and it resulted in impatience, ultimately causing conflicts in our relationship(s). Cortisol is the hormone that is released when we are stressed, and when oxytocin is released it counteracts the cortisol and decreases our stress levels. An added bonus to this is effect is that with less stress it improves a person’s mental well being, as well as promotes physical health.

 

Researchers have also found that touch during a conflict, increases oxytocin, decreases our defenses, increases trust, and resolves conflicts. Obviously, the ability of the couple to resolve conflicts is also a significant factor in having a successful relationship. I personally have to acknowledge that my husband figured out this technique before I did, and consistently uses it on me when I am wanting to be stubborn in conflicts. Needless to say, this technique has been 100% effective for us.

 

Touch is essential for a successful relationship. So when I am awakened in the middle of the night on the edge of the bed, feeling like I am going to fall off because my husband snuggled up so closely behind me; I will just be thankful. I will be thankful that he loves me. I will be thankful that we are bonding. I will be thankful that his touch is decreasing my stress, and I will be thankful that we are a healthy and successful couple. I encourage you to do the same with your love. Increase your public displays of affection, cuddle during your favorite TV shows, steal a kiss, allow the tips of your fingers to graze his/her skin as you walk passed them in the hallway, and always live in love.

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Growing up on Disney movies may have set us up for failure. In every fairytale, there was a prince charming to rescue the damsel in distress and turn her into the princess; living happily ever after. If those fairytales did not leave us hanging at the part of wedful bliss, you may have seen Cinderella irritated that her Prince Charming left his underwear on the floor. Or Ariel’s bad mood being contagious for Prince Eric. You may have seen Prince Phillip expecting Sleeping Beauty to make dinner even though she was feeling exhausted. But Disney neglected to show that part, and insinuated that we should expect to be treated like princesses. Too bad for us, the boys were more interested in mud wrestling and wrecking hot wheels, instead of taking notes.

 

While we may not be able to achieve the perfect fairytales portrayed by Disney, we can have a deviated version of our own fairytale; maybe something more along the lines of Dreamwork’s Shrek. We cannot EXPECT to be treated like princesses in our relationships, but we can take note on what makes our significant others tick. Men are biologically wired to want to please the woman he truly loves. A good man will work multiple jobs, even dirty jobs, just to come home to a woman who appreciates his hard work. His main goal in life is to make his true love happy. After all “A happy wife is a happy life.”

 

So what is the equation to ensure this treatment in our relationships? Subscribe to an attitude of gratitude. Practicing an attitude of gratitude in any area of your life, even over the smallest things, automatically starts to improve mood, equaling happiness. The more a woman shows appreciation and exudes happiness with him the more effort he will put into making her happy.

 

Now some of you may already be arguing my point. Some women may feel entitled to being treated like a princess, without having to put any effort into the relationship. Others may feel under-appreciated by their loved one and feel they cannot give appreciation if they are not receiving it. While some of you may feel you are too busy with other priorities and not care if you are put up on that pedestal by your love. Ultimately, failing to be appreciative only causes poison to enter into the relationship.

 

Follow this logic. You try to please your boss by going the extra mile on the job. She does not acknowledge your efforts and ultimately complains that you are not doing enough or you are doing a poor job. How would you respond to this scenario? Most humans would quit going the extra mile and avoid the boss at all cost. This is exactly how men respond when they are being treated in this manner. They quit trying and they start to pull away from the relationship. Let us examine the evidence and statistics behind this logic. Most men who give up on their marriage and file for divorce, do so because they “just can’t seem to make her happy.” Ninety percent of men who cheat do so because the other woman is showing him appreciation and emotional support; and not because the other woman is more attractive (Eighty-eight percent of men who cheat say the other woman was less attractive than their wife.)

 

In my book, appreciation for your significant other ranks within the top ten musts for the survival of a healthy relationship. Fortunately, the return on investment is more than worth it. With appreciation he will continue to make effort, treating you like his princess, goddess, (you may fill in the blank), etc; and you both will live happily ever after. The End.

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A few days ago my husband was ecstatic when he brought home his new burnt orange Harley Davidson motorcycle. To celebrate, the plan was to take the scenic route to the river and find a place to have dinner. Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed by the color. My emotions soon changed to perturbed when I notice it did not have a passenger back rest (aka sissy bar); and then changed again to perplexed when I noticed the seat tilted backwards at a thirty-five degree angle. I wondered how are the physics of this seat going to mix with my husband’s diving?

 

“Where is the rest of the seat?” I asked my husband. “That cost $400.” he said. I thought “You just spent thousands of dollars on this new bike and you cannot invest $400 in it for me to ride it comfortably?” (Apparently there was more to it, but being a male he failed to communicate that to me. As a female, I focused more on my upset emotions instead of trying to clarify this statement.) He told me I was just going to have to hold on to him tighter so that I would not fall off.

 

Being the passenger on this bike was no easy task! Imagine this with me. The seat is at a thirty-five degree angle and gravity is causing my body to lean into the great abyss. Yet I am supposed to lean forward, wrap my arms around husband, and hold on tight. With every bump my body bounced in the air, landing further back on the seat until I was hanging half off. It felt like I was holding an awkward yoga position, with no therapeutic benefits, and would most likely cause early onset of osteoporosis. Every chance I got I corrected my posture, but with more bumps I ended up in the same position.

 

After 45 minutes of this misery, I told my husband to pull over. I took a few minutes to stretch and told him I was done. I did not care about the dinner date; I wanted to go home. When we arrived home, he knew I was not happy and he tried to cheer me up. I really wanted to yell at him for putting me through this misery, but instead I said “Just give me a few minutes and I will get over it.”

 

After I calmed down we were able to discuss this issue. He informed me he did not want to spend $400 on something I did not like, and he would like for me to pick it out the passenger backrest since I would be the only one using it. He further explained he did not realize it would be that uncomfortable for me. I am glad I did not respond the way I originally wanted, as I would have been the jerk.

 

In my profession, I get the opportunity to see how couples interact and argue. From a third party stance I can observe that neither party means any harm to the other, but communication was lost in the presentation. Here are a few rules to follow to help you become better at arguing and resolve the issues to keep your relationship on a healthy track.

 

1) Quit trying to be the winner! In a relationship you are a team! If one teammate focuses on winning against the other teammate, then the whole team loses! At the end of a relationship have you ever heard someone say “At least I won all of those arguments?” No! Usually the person is crying and wondering what happened that caused the relationship to fail. Instead view the issue as an obstacle you both need to work through together, to help you both win as a team. It is both of you against the world, and you will be more productive working together instead of against each other.

 

2) Be goal-oriented. By defining what you would like to accomplish, this will keep you focused on the matter. Only bring up issues that are relevant to your goal. Concentrating on too many problems at once will only result in none of them being resolved.

 

3) Tame those Emotions! When emotions start to get out of control, logic is lost in the meantime. Not only will nothing get resolved, but it will exacerbate the problem and most likely add on several more problems you may find yourself having to apologize for. If you are finding it difficult to keep control of your emotions, take a time out and come back to the argument when you have calmed down.

 

4) Listen! In order to find common ground, you have to understand where your mate is coming from. Do not interrupt! There will be times, when you feel the need to have a rebuttal. Make a note of that issue and address it when it is your turn.

 

5) Be direct! As females we would love it if our prince charmings could read our minds or even understand what we are insinuating. (This also includes the women who act like something is wrong, but when he asks she says she’s fine.) But they can’t! Their male brains do not work like our female brains. Instead, we must be direct about our needs and wants. For instance, a statement such as “Honey, will you please take off your shoes before coming in the house when your shoes are muddy?” is so much more effective than “You’re so disrespectful to all the cleaning I do around the house!”

 

6) Don’t Accuse! You cannot read your mate’s mind either. What may look like something malicious may have a perfectly good explanation. Instead use “I feel” statements. No one can successfully argue with you on how you feel; you are entitled to your feelings. By focusing on your feelings, he then can explain his reasoning and behavior without being defensive.

 

Every couple has arguments and disagreements. Clinicians have concerns about the couples who claim they do not, as that would be abnormal and a dysfunctional relationship. Since arguments are a necessary evil in relationships, we can take note and learn how to argue better for the sake of living in love.

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When I first was engaged, I allowed my new diamond to be a conversation starter for the benefit of my own personal research. After I was congratulated, I followed up with the question of whether or not he/she was married, and if so what is the key to having a successful marriage. Most of the time I received the predictable response of honesty, good communication, or trustworthiness. All of these are very important, but they are obvious even to the single community. The most valuable piece of advice came from a man who was divorced. He told me “You have to have hobbies together. It does not matter how much you love each other in the beginning, you will grow apart if you do not have hobbies.” He was right; even the statistics supported his claim. The divorce rate increases for couples who have been married for twenty plus years due to growing apart. I was determined to learn from him and these statistics.

 

At that time, I knew my fiancé and I shared the love of winter skiing. In fact, as I was falling head over heels down Center Stage, he was falling head over heels in love with me. My emotions shortly followed as he was my knight in shining armor and rescued me from my humpty dumpty moment. Yet, in our climate this hobby would only last a quarter of each year. We had met during the winter and were engaged in early spring. I expressed my concerns to my fiancé. He was not concerned and reassured me that we would figure it out; and we did.

 

On our honeymoon, my husband chose the excursion of scuba diving. Neither of us had ever been, and I was very aware there was a possibility of dying during this sport. I wanted to be the supportive wife, so I dealt with this fear by avoiding any thoughts that had to do with it. Before the excursion we had to take a beginner scuba class. The instructor had a very strong accent which was very difficult to understand. I tried extremely hard to hang onto every word he was saying; my life depended on it. After the class, we dressed in the equipment and entered the water. We were told by the instructor “Stay underwater no matter what happens.” I had a problem with this rule; this did not seem logical to me. If anything went wrong my plan was to come up for air.

 

After descending a few feet, I tried to breathe and I could not! I panicked! I immediately broke the rule and came to the surface! My husband and the instructor followed. The instructor yelled “No. No. No. You have to go back down!” I tried again. I then realized I was having a panic attack! I had helped many clients through their panic attacks, but never in my life had experienced one. It was awful! I came to the surface again; followed by my husband and the instructor. I was reprimanded by the instructor again! I knew I could not quit; it was my husband’s dream to go scuba diving and I did not want to be the one preventing that from happening. With the logic I had left, I developed my own treatment plan. I changed my negative thoughts of “I am going to die” to “I am okay,” as I focused on slow deep breaths.

 

After I calmed myself down, I descended a few feet, used my coping skills, and then descended a few more feet. My treatment plan worked! I made to the bottom at 20 feet! The view down there was amazing! I looked around for my husband to share this experience with him, but he was nowhere to be found. I then looked up and he was still on the surface. Apparently he was having a difficult time with this too! When I thought he was being chivalrous by waiting for me, he was really having a hard time himself. When he saw that I could do it he could not let his new wife show him up, so he forced himself to work his way down. Despite the first fifteen minutes of struggles, together we worked through it and we discovered our favorite hobby!

 

My advice this month is simple. Get a hobby with your hubby (boyfriend). Hobbies force you to spend quality time together. Depending on the hobby, it may also force you to work together or require you to rely on each other. Both of these result in building a stronger bond between the two of you. Hobbies also create the stories of your life together. These are going to be the great times you talk about after you have grown old together. So whether it may be skiing, scuba diving, book clubbing, club crawling, completing puzzles, cooking, dancing, gardening, geocaching, kayaking, off roading, painting, playing video games, renovating, rock climbing, stargazing, traveling, volunteering, whitewater rafting, etc; do it together and live in love!

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While I acknowledge the fact that February is the month of love, I cannot ignore the aftermath of the previous month’s reputation for the “Break-Up month.” If your relationship was a causality during the month of January, you are not alone. January has twice as many breakups than any other month of the year. One out of every five people have had a breakup occur in the month of January. I feel there is a great need to discuss this downside to relationships. If it is not dealt with appropriately, the emotional baggage is carried from one failed relationship to another; cursing the new relationship from the begging. As Americans, we are not taught how to appropriately grieve. We are taught to be tough, refusing to acknowledge these hurt emotions, and cover up the hurt with a new relationship.

 

When a relationship is coming to its end, both parties will experience the stages of grieving. Some will experience these stages before the break up and others will after. The stages include denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and finally acceptance. Denial may appear in the form of one party believing a problem will get better, not even acknowledging there is a problem, or believing the couple will get back together. Bargaining occurs when a person acknowledges the problem and promises to change to make the relationship better. Even if the couple does get back together after this, usually there are feelings of resentment and insecurity issues, that make it very difficult for the couple’s relationship to be repaired. The next stages of depression and anger last the longest and overlap each other.

 

These are the most difficult stages to go through; depression and anger are emotions that we try to avoid. In order to heal, a person must experience these emotions and have catharsis, releasing these emotions. This may occur through journaling, talking, expressing emotions through artwork, etc. Some individuals may even need to seek professional help through a life coach or a therapist, to help them through these stages. As the person works through these emotions she will overall notice a decrease in intensity of the emotions, and will come to the point of acceptance. At the point of acceptance, a person will no longer experience the negative emotions when thinking about the lost relationship. She can think about the relationship as a phase in her life, and hopefully be able to reflect on the things she learned about herself and the type of relationship she wants long-term.

 

There are also a few guidelines to follow to help a person minimize the aftermath and length of the grieving process.

 

1) Delay making significant changes in life – A person usually does this in hopes it will make her feel better. It is very important to delay these decisions, since emotions are trumping logic at this time. The rash decision does not accomplish what it is was intended to and it usually causes more of a mess.

 

2) Focus on Maintaining Physical Health (It helps with the mental health too!) It is important for a person to get ample sleep during this time, as REM sleep helps us process these negative emotions. Cardiovascular activity is extremely helpful. It causes our brain to release endorphins improving the mood to decrease depression and/or anger. Sometimes depression can cause an increase in appetite for some and decrease in others. It is important to eat healthy during this time. A lack of a healthy diet can increase the chemical imbalance in the brain.

 

3) Get rid of (or at least put away) the mementos- Holding onto mementos will only cause the person to stagnate in the denial stage of the grieving process.

 

4) Find a Hobby- After a break up there is usually a lot of empty time in the schedule. If it is not filled productively a person may use the time to fixate on the loss. This will also help a person rebuild their identity separate from the relationship she just lost.

 

5) Schedule Specific Time to Grieve- I usually recommend clients to grieve at night. Grieving can cause significant emotions to come up, and it may be difficult to recover from during the day. If it is done at night, REM sleep helps the person recuperate from these emotions, getting through their day more productively.

 

6) It is important for a person to understand that their emotions are normal. There will be some days that she feels like she is getting over the relationship, and other days she will feel like she is moving backwards. As long as a person allows herself to grieve and does not fixate on the relationship, she will make progress and heal from the relationship.

 

During my dating days, my friends would criticized me for falling for guys too fast, but they followed with the compliment that I bounce back pretty fast too. These were the techniques that had gotten me through those tough times. I now share them with those of you who experienced a loss in January or any other month. I also share it with those of you who are in a relationship and know you may need to end it in order to find the love of your life. I have been there too. At a point I was in a relationship that was not progressing, I stood with a Dove chocolate in my hand and prayed to God for advice. I opened the wrapper and it said “In order to discover new oceans, you must have courage to lose sight of the shore.” I was discouraged at the time, but I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to let go of the relationship and heal. It was just enough time to heal before I discovered the new ocean; my husband.

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With the start of the new year many people are working towards their resolutions. It was no surprise to me that losing weight is the number one new year’s resolution for Americans, but it was a surprise that building one’s self-confidence did not even make the top ten list of resolutions. Confidence plays an astronomical role in our lives! It can affect our mood and determine whether we get that position we have been holding out for; but most important it can affect our love life.

 

Let’s start with this example. A guy walks into a bar. There are two ladies sitting at the bar. A perfect ten on the left and a mediocre six on the right. The perfect ten’s shoulders are slouched and she is complaining about how fat she feels in her dress. The mediocre six has a smile on her face and tries to start a conversation with the guy. Who do you think the guy is going to gravitate towards? This situation happens on a regular basis at your local bar. The males that I have surveyed on this scenario have had a one hundred percent response rate for in favor of the confident woman. A confident woman exudes energy, that makes a man want to know even more about her.

 

Confidence is also a quality needed to maintain a healthy relationship. In many cases the opposite, insecurities, are an unnecessary evil that causes severe complications for a relationship. Insecurities challenge the foundation of trust in a relationship. When a person allows her insecurities to take over, it hampers her significant other’s independence and suffocates his individuality. Her attempts are for the purpose if keeping him, but it only results in contradicting this goal. People who have confidence in themselves, do not experience these insecurities often. When insecurities start to occur, they are able to challenge this evil with logical thoughts. They know they bring a lot to the relationship and it would be very difficult for their significant other to find that kind of relationship with anyone else. This confidence not only keeps their significant other attracted to them, but it attracts others too! This reminds him how great he has it, and it motivates him to take care of the relationship.

 

For individuals wanting to make this their new year’s resolution, here are a few basics that can help a person improve their confidence:

 

1) Look the Part! This ranges from taking care of yourself to how you present yourself. A confident person takes the time to take care herself, because she knows that she is worth it. She treats herself in a respectable manner and in return other people treat her with the respect she deserves. Here is a simple applicable lesson from psychology 101. A person’s perception of another is developed within seconds of observing her physical appearance. His initial perception influences how he treats her. Consider this. Have you ever gone shopping after getting finished at the gym? Were the sales people eager to help you? Not likely. The look of messy hair and sweat did not give them the perception that you were ready to spend lots of money, even though that has nothing to do with it. Now think about a time you went shopping after work, dressed in professional clothes. I am sure your experience with the sales person was dramatically different. It may not make sense, or even be fair, but this is the way the it works. Either way how you present yourself will start a cycle. If you are not taking care of yourself, people will not treat you with the respect you deserve, and then you will start to feel less confident. If you take care of yourself, you will have more positive responses from other people, and in return you will feel more confident about yourself. So take a few extra minutes to do your hair, iron your clothes, and walk a little bit taller.

 

2) Play the Role (or fake it till you make it)! Even if you do not have confidence start acting as if you do. Make a small goal, such as talking to one new person a day, and fake the part while doing it. (If this causes stress just thinking about it, take the words of Benjamin Mee from We Bought a Zoo. “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you something great will come of it.”) The more we behave as if we were confident, the more it becomes second nature, and we start to feel it. With each accomplishment , we develop self-efficacy (the belief a person can accomplish something, when she sets out to do it), and it will enhance or confidence and our accomplishments.

 

3) Do the Part! It is also just as important for you to do things that make you feel good about yourself. Otherwise, these efforts will only turn into narcissism. This includes being a good person, as well as being a productive person. How are you giving back to society? If a person does not give back to society, then she is stagnating. This only leads to anxiety, depression, and lower self-esteem; interfering with achieving the goal of confidence. The good news is there is a simple solution to this. Take a class. Find a hobby. Volunteer. By doing these things, it helps us become more productive and define ourselves. It increases our identity and in return it builds self-confidence. Simultaneously, it exposes us to more, giving us more to talk about with others. People will be drawn to this excitement, and it continues to build self-confidence!

 

So let us start a new trend by making Improving Self-Confidence our new year’s resolution. It is never too late! You deserve to feel great about yourself and reap the benefits of it; especially in your love life! Confidence is the new hot!

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Greetings from I-95 just north of Port Canaveral, Florida! The GPS says we’re 972 miles away from home, meaning I am stuck in the car with my husband for approximately 14 more hours. But do not pity me. Our lives have been crazy busy and I now value this time we have together.

 

I acknowledge that it does not take a relationship coach/expert to know spending time together is imperative for a relationship to be healthy and last long-term. I even included several clauses in our marriage contract to ensure that my husband and I would be successful in this area. Despite being a relationship coach and the clauses in the contract, life happened!

 

If we were to rewind my life a few months, you would see my husband and I have been failing at this miserably. Both of our businesses have been thriving, which obviously requires more of our time. Our blended family went from having a 1/2 child over the summer to 2 full time children.

 

Then, there are those everyday life responsibilities and then the random ones, too. I even had to make several trips to Chicago, including the day of our anniversary. There were times we played tag team by meeting each other at a half way point only to exchange the children as one was coming home from work and the other going. I was truly in Super Woman mode to get things done and to get them done well.

 

The only area that was suffering during that time, was the most important. We were fortunate to have our yearly honeymoon interrupt this bad habit we were getting into. It was around mile marker 77, just south of Knoxville, when my husband leaned over and gave me a passionate kiss. My heart melted and I no longer wanted to be the woman who was functioning without him. I felt like we were newlyweds again and I knew we would have an amazing vacation together; and we did!

 

This hiccup in my marriage has lead me to explore how I allowed other things become more of a priority than my husband. I realized I was allowing societies demands (e.g., be successful in your career, keep a clean house, achieve mother of the year, etc.) interfere with my own priorities. I know many women struggle with the same issue, so I have developed a few arguments to address these dilemmas.

 

#1) The endless housework! I have resigned to the fact there will always be laundry needing to be folded, floors needing to be mopped, and surfaces needing to be dusted. A person could spend her whole life trying to keep up with the household and never feel like she is finished. At the end of my life, I will not remember when my floor was dirty or when I was behind on laundry. However, I will remember the amazing times my husband and I had together.

 

#2) Career demands! Before I continue, I would like to clarify that I do believe it is important to have a good work ethic. However just like everything else in life, there needs to be a balance. I have worked with many individuals who have been successful in their careers, and they acknowledge they are not truly happy in their lives when they do not have someone to share their success with. You have to ask yourself “Would you rather be the employee of the year or would you rather go home to your love every night?” On the other hand, if the relationship does not work out, a person may find herself having to work twice as hard to supplement the loss of a two income household.

 

#3) Then there are the children, who require a lot of attention. Many times I have heard men complain about losing their wife after having kids. The best thing parents can do for their children is to have a good relationship with the other parent. Divorce rips out the foundation for a child, leaving them susceptible to many problems. This situation will only be more time consuming, as a parent will have to help the child(ren) cope and she will no longer have the help and support of her spouse. Therefore, spending time with your spouse, is doing what is best for your children.

 

#4) Spending time together helps keep the relationship healthy, and in return, helps keep the individual healthy. Research has shown that individuals who are in healthy relationships can cope with stressful life events better. It has also shown eighty percent medical diagnosis are caused by stress. Healthy couples also report more positive behaviors, such as: affection, expressions of humor, happiness, and interests. Unhealthy couples report negative behaviors, such as: contempt, expressions of anger, fear, and tension(Gottman, 2004). Which category would you prefer to be in?

 

With these basic arguments, making time for each other is simply logical. If you and your significant other are struggling with this it is very likely that you will need to schedule a weekly appointments with each other. Otherwise, life will be sure to get in the way! To ensure success, you may need to start out with scheduling a small amount of time. Dr. John M. Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work, states spending small amounts of time together on a regular basis is more successful for a marriage than waiting to spend long periods of time on vacation one or even a few times a year. Without the consistent emotional intimacy, the couple will grow apart. After this episode, I have re-evaluated my life’s schedule. I am adding weekend morning coffee dates, reinstating the nightly pillow talks, and strictly implementing our marriage contract. My husband has acknowledged how helpful the yearly honeymoon was, and he booked next years before we made it back to Cincy. I have also developed a motto to help me stay focused on this goal. “Regular date nights are the new preventative medicine for your marriage and your health. “

 

Works Cited
Gottman, John M. & Nan Silver “The Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work” New York: Crown Publishers (2004) Print.

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Homeostasis. I used this word today in my psychology class, and enjoyed watching the facial responses of my students. Although amusing, the meaning (maintaining equilibrium/balance) is very imperative to our lives. If we do not have homeostasis, we will be unhealthy, we will not thrive, and in some cases even survive. The great Dr. Seuss taught us this lesson as children by reminding us to “Step with care and great tact. And remember life is a great balancing act.” It becomes even harder to maintain homeostasis when applying it in a relationship. I have observed individuals going to the opposite extremes in order to create this balance in their relationship. This only leads to chaos! Picture it this way. You are driving down the road and you start to veer too far to the right, and almost end up in a ditch. Would you over compensate by turning the wheel to the extreme left, driving right into head on traffic?

 

One common disequilibrium I see in relationships, is the passive and the aggressive personalities. (For the purposes of this article, I will use he/him to describe the aggressor and she/her to refer to the passer. However, each gender has equal ability to take on either role.) Now there will be times in every relationship in which each party will take an aggressive role and push boundaries; at least at an unconscious level. The reaction to this initial aggressive behavior will influence the ultimate route of the relationship. Each time the person pushes the boundaries, then he is set up in a better offense position to push the boundaries and become more aggressive. This will make him try to have more control in the relationship and take his daily frustrations out on her. This can even lead to verbal or physical abusive relationships. The passive individual takes this position to try to create balance and maintain the peace in the relationship by enabling or allowing this kind of behavior from the aggressor. Instead of addressing the problem, she ignores it hoping it will go away. Unfortunately, the aggressor will only become more aggressive and will destruct his significant other.

 

Now I use the word destruct in a purposeful matter. It is the exact route these behaviors will result in. Each time this aggressive behavior is allowed, the aggressor loses respect for the passive individual. As the respect is lost, so is the love, deteriorating the relationship. Not only does this behavior destruct the relationship, but it also destructs the individuals involved. The passive individual will start to lose herself and lack self-esteem. This passive behavior can also cause anger outbursts, anxiety, depression, and psychosomatic symptoms (physical pain caused by stress). These dynamics also cause complications for the aggressor. The person uses the aggressive behavior to make him feel more in control. However, the chaos it causes will only cause the aggressor to feel even more out of control. It will also interfere with his true happiness. I have never found a mean person to be truly happy in life. I once dated a guy who was depressed with his life and he asked for my help to make him a happier person. He was very self-centered and on one occasion he purposely stood me up. Not only did I not give him another opportunity to do that to me, but I followed up with an assertive phone call. I told him his behavior was unacceptable and it is not okay to treat others in this manner. I advised him the reason of his depression was because he was not a nice person and mean people cannot be happy people. He did not have much of an immediate response, but I felt better about the situation and it only made me more confident. He later apologized and contacts me every once in a while. Each interaction we had after we dated was more respectful, than while we were dating.

 

This leads me into my next point on how a couple can maintain a healthy balance in their relationship and that is through both of them being assertive with each other. Being assertive means picking your battles and addressing your concerns in an appropriate and respectful manner. This may mean that the emotions have to settle before addressing the issue. I always encourage my clients and students to stand up for themselves in a relationship when something occurs that they do not like. One of two things could happen. The relationship may immediately come to a dead end. If this occurs I view this as being very positive. The individual saved herself time, energy, and hurt emotions . If she were to take the passive position, then she would have found herself in a toxic relationship that would be all the more harder to get out of. The second possibility, which happens more often, is the aggressor gains respect for her. It actually turns him on and he becomes more attracted to her. This puts boundaries on the individual and he also remains balanced within the relationship.

 

My theory was proven perfectly on the reality show Marriage Boot Camp: Bridezillas. There was a couple on the reality show who exemplified this argument; Melissa & Chris. There was no doubt Melissa wore the pants in the relationship and displayed verbal aggression towards Chris. Each time Melissa was verbally aggressive towards Chris, you could see his self-esteem fading away. The directors held both of them in accountable for the problems in the marriage; Melissa for the verbally abusive behavior and Chris for allowing this behavior. During one exercise, the spouses were switched. Melissa treated her acting husband, Marlon, in the same manner during this exercise. Marlon was assertive with her. She immediately backed down and appeared to be turned on by this. Both of their spouses exhibited jealousy towards how well Marlon and Melissa got along after this incident.

 

So how are you going to handle the issue of your significant other pushing boundaries? Are you going to go to the extremes of passive and aggressive, ending up in a ditch or oncoming traffic? Or are you going to identify when your relationship starts to hit the “Brrp Brrps,” and use assertive skills to slightly veer back on the road towards happiness, a healthy loving relationship, and homeostasis?

 

Works Cited
Geisel, Theodor Seuss “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” United States: Random House. (1990) Print.
Marriage Boot Camp: Bridezillas. WeTV. May 2013. Television.

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