If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From A Christian Pastor/Parent – John Pavlovitz

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have gay children. I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often. Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe. Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church. Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity. For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now… 1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it. My children won’t be our family’s best-kept secret. I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language. I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older, or easily offended, or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most gay kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues. If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family. 2) If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them....

Why successful couples have boundaries – by Esther Perel

“A boundary is simply what’s ok and what’s not ok.” — Brené Brown Every couple will negotiate boundaries: what is individual, what is ours, and what is public. The architecture of a relationship is made up of a web of rules and roles that we begin weaving on the first date. It never ceases to amaze me how a little unit of two can be such a complex social system. The moment two people become a couple, they set out to negotiate boundaries—what is in and what is out. Who is in and who is out? What are we free to do alone and what do we share? Do we go to bed at the same time? Do we combine our finances? Whose name is on the deed? Will you be joining my family every Christmas? There are explicit boundary markers that delineate our public contract and spoken agreement (i.e. wedding vows), as well as implicit boundaries we make with ourselves about where we draw our lines and create our own demarcation. Sometimes we work out these arrangements head on, but more often we go by trial and error. We see how much we can get away with before trip-wiring on sensitivities. “Why didn’t you ask me to join you?” “I thought we’d travel together.” “Why don’t you want to stay over at my place?” A look, a comment, a bruised silence are the clues we have to interpret. We infer how often to see each other, how often to talk, and how much sharing is expected. We sift through our respective friendships and decide how important they’re allowed to...

Sexual Honesty: You don’t have to fake it. – By Esther Perel

“When we first started dating, we partied and drank a lot. And when I drink, I don’t orgasm, so I got into the habit of faking it. We got married and I stopped pretending, but I never told him. And now, he can’t understand why I don’t orgasm in five minutes any more. He married this hot, young thing who was crazy for sex but essentially, I lied. I want a fulfilling sex life with my husband. How do I turn things around? Do I tell the truth?” — Sarah, 32 It’s old news that women lie about their pleasure (or lack-thereof). When sex was primarily a woman’s marital duty, and it was all for him, she often faked orgasm to get it over with. But what are we to make of the fact that so many women in our “liberated” Western society still feel compelled to play the same game? One would think that an increased level of sexual freedom is correlated to increased honesty. Not so. Now that her orgasm is an important affirmation of his sexual prowess, women have a new reason to keep pretending. Her pleasure is proof of his masculinity and how adept he is in bed. I see ‘faking orgasm’ as part of longstanding gender dynamics, traditional power structures, poor sexual education, and persistent myths and stereotypes about sexual performance. Chief among them, that reaching the finish line signals the deed is done. Orgasm is not just that moment of climax; it’s a full body pleasure, not just one event. Nobody is served when partners lie about their needs, preferences, and dislikes. The...

Shaping Love a Seminal-Study by Dr Sue Johnson

Source: drsuejohnson.com Any researcher knows that, if you aspire to be an ‘objective’ scientist, you are not allowed to be passionately impressed by your own research. I am now going to break that rule. It seems appropriate at the beginning of a New Year that my lab has just put out a new and rip roaring, cutting edge study (you can see it in early view in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy). This study is 25 years in the making and shows that we can now do something seemingly impossible – something that will speak to everyone who ever said to themselves, “Well what is all this love and romance stuff anyway and how does it work?” Which is pretty much everyone!   …Continue Reading  ...
Living Mindfully in the Moment

Living Mindfully in the Moment

We live in a society where more than 1 in every 4 Americans say they have a great deal of stress in their life. Stress is normal and is a necessary part of one’s daily life. Stress is a feeling that’s created when we react to particular events. It’s the body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness. How do you handle stress? When stress feels overwhelming does it paralyze you with anxiety, worry, fear or helplessness? Or does it manifest in depression, keeping you from letting go of the past? Can you instead bring your focus to the present, to ground you in the moment? The practice of mindfulness, founded by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune in to what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. Here are a few key components of practicing mindfulness that Kabat-Zinn and others identify: Pay close attention to your breathing, especially when you’re feeling intense emotions. Notice—really notice—what you’re sensing in a given moment, the sights, sounds, and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching your conscious awareness. Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and do not define you, an insight that can free you from...
Generating Gratitude This Holiday Season

Generating Gratitude This Holiday Season

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick When a person is asked what they’d do different if given a second chance and their response is I wouldn’t change a thing, this totally baffles me! Maybe it’s just me but there were several things I wish I handled differently. The most helpful shift has been to put judgment aside and look for the good intention behind seemingly negative behavior (especially of my husband and children). Looking for good (instead of focusing on negative) has made life so much more fulfilling. Robert Emmons,  Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at UC Davis is renowned for his research on gratitude. He says “gratitude is a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.” He offers the following tips to cultivate gratitude: Keep a gratitude journal. Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy. Setting aside time on a daily basis to recall moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life gives you the potential to interweave a sustainable life theme of gratefulness. Remember the Bad. To be grateful in your current state, it is helpful to remember the hard times that you once experienced. When you remember how difficult life used to be and how far you have come, you set up an explicit contrast in your mind, and this contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness. Reflect on Three Questions. “What have I received from __?”, “What...
Gratitude Generates Greater Happiness

Gratitude Generates Greater Happiness

The holiday season creates expectations for a festive and loving gathering with family and friends. Yet it’s often met with undue stress, disappointment, anxiety or depression. Maybe it’s fortuitous that Thanksgiving kicks off the season. We’re expected to be grateful. If this attitude of gratitude were adapted into our daily lives, might it bring greater happiness? As a psychotherapist, I often work with people suffering from anxiety or depression. One of my first tasks is to create a safe enough environment for the person to trust me enough to decrease the negative rumination. As they move away from their inner doubts and fears they’re able to view life more realistically. They eventually discover that there is much to be thankful for. Gratitude is defined as the feeling or quality of being grateful. It is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. They recognize that many times the source of that goodness lies outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power. UC Riverside professor, Sonja Lyubomirsky, says in her book, The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, that “Gratitude is many things to many people. It is wonder, appreciation, looking on the bright side of a setback. It is fathoming abundance, thanking someone in your life, thanking God and ‘counting blessings.’ It is coping, present-oriented and not taking things for granted.” Her research demonstrates that “expressing gratitude has several benefits. People...
The Five Languages of Apology

The Five Languages of Apology

Has a loved one ever hurt you and though they apologized, you weren’t able to put the offense behind you? Something about their apology was missing the mark. In their book, “The Five Languages of Apology” Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas found that “what one person considers a sincere apology is not necessarily what another person may consider a sincere apology. In essence, they have different languages of apology.” Apologizing is fundamental to having healthy relationships. The five are as follows: a. Expressing Regret: “I am sorry” The offended person needs to hear the words I am sorry. Those words convey ownership; that you realize what you did has hurt them deeply. It acknowledges and identifies their pain and ownership of your behavior. “Without the expression of regret, they do not sense that the apology is adequate or sincere.” b. Accepting Responsibility: “I was wrong” Willingness to admit wrongdoing. Own it. Conveying that what you did was wrong, unkind or insensitive. Some people have a difficult time admitting they’re wrong. Saying I was wrong does not mean I am bad. It erroneously becomes tied to their self-worth instead of being linked with behavior. Everyone messes up from time to time. No one is perfect. As one comes to terms with their individual strengths and limitations without feeling ashamed, they will be better able to own the wrongdoing. c. Making Restitution: “What can I do to make it right?” A person whose primary language is making restitution requires that the offender express a willingness to do something to make up for the pain that was caused. (When you know what...