Extramarital Affairs: How Do They Happen?

John Gottman, a premiere researcher in the dynamics of marital relationships, has a different view from conventional wisdom which says that conflicts slowly erode the marital bonds, and that teaching couples communication techniques on how to fight fair will lead to conflict resolution. While this maybe true in a small percentage of situations, Gottman discovered that "69 percent of all marital conflicts never get resolved because they are about personality differences between couples. What's critical is not whether they resolve conflicts but whether they can cope with them." It seems that fights and disagreements are intrinsic to all relationships, however it is couples who don't let the fighting contaminate the other parts of the relationship that have lasting and fulfilling marriages.

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Extreme Spouse Makeover

Marriages can have their own extreme makeover. Two people meet, fall in love with the man or woman of their dreams, and eventually this culminates in the beauty of the marriage nuptials, celebrated by friends and family. The couple is then whisked off to their honeymoon vacation—carrying the hopes and dreams of an Oh So Sweet new life together. As the flower petals fall and the tail lights of the limousine fade from sight, what happens next can catch the couple by surprise.

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Love Looks Inside So We can Look Out

>“It’s all about me,” my good friend Terrie laughed. “It’s always more about me than I’d care to admit when it comes to relationships.” Paul said the same thing, when he declared, “I’m the chief sinner of all” (1 Tim. 1:15). Even Socrates acknowledges, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” This brings up two important questions: How do we acknowledge our brokenness without drowning in introspection and self-loathing? And how do we pursue spiritual growth and healing without making it a remedy for our brokenness?

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Overcoming Evil (Sexual Abuse)

People have said to me, why is sexual abuse such a big deal? My immediate reaction is to wonder if the person asking that question has been abused. For how could a healthy parent envision their trusting five-year-old son or daughter being touched and sexually aroused for the pleasure and exploitation of an adult and not wonder about its impact? It takes just a moment for innocence and childhood to be lost forever, and a lifetime is spent unveiling the heart from self-protective walls. Children of abuse will never relax in their mother’s arms the same way they did before the violation, nor will they rest with the same abandon in their spouse’s embrace. The damage to the soul will eventually erupt into external realities. "The incident of shame, depression, and dissociation have been found to be primary symptoms of significant trauma, especially sexual abuse," states Dr. Allender. Other problems often associated with sexual trauma are compulsive disorders such as alcohol and substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, poor self-esteem and narcissistic grandiosity, and a host of stress related disorders such as intestinal problems, lower backaches, neck and jaw pain and chronic headaches.

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Change is a Certainty

Whether subtle or jarring, the momentum of change shifts our balance, disrupts our routines and rattles our repose. It impacts our lives and we are never the same. Our response to change can either be to submerge into lethargy or open our hearts to the breath of life, like a screaming new born baby. Change and its ensuing chaos can be less of an enemy and more of a friend for it can heighten awareness, shatter certainty, and engender perspective, while stirring our hunger for an authentic relationship with God.

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How Does My Heart Need Reaching?

Surprise, enlightenment, repentance, hope, and joy--all parts of my experience as I sat under the teaching of Dr. Larry Crabb during his Reach the Heart Experience. Good teachers invite, challenge, and leave you coming back for more. As he described the radical shift needed in our hearts to have authentic community and live in transforming relationships, hunger and hope were ignited with a slight bit of trepidation, knowing the cost of what lay ahead--seeing my tarnished and ugly motivations. Real community and spiritual formation aren't pipe dreams. To give us vision for how true community functions, God reveals it through the unity and sacrifice of the Trinity--the intimate dance of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And we are all invited!

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Margaret Bernhart Profile

Margaret Bernhart LMHC

Margaret Bernhart

LMHC

Offices in Neptune Beach &
Tallahassee Florida
904-510-2567 · 850-668-3750



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One of the most profound desires of every human being is to be known, observed and touched by the soul of another. -MB