When we think back to past, failed relationships, it’s easy to attribute blame to the –ex, negative circumstances, and/or poor timing. Oftentimes these memories are long-lasting and impact subsequent relationships. It is clear that we are all different people, with different life influences, different values and beliefs, and different coping mechanisms. Couples’ differences are generally the cause of degenerating or failed relationships. In considering ALL the differences couples may have, the misinterpretation or inconsistencies of one’s love language is also imperative to understand.
What is a love language? Author Gary Chapman stresses the importance of being able to express love to your partner in a way that he or she can understand. He calls this type of communicating, love languages. He posits that there are 5 main love languages that we speak: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. Imagine your attempt to communicate love in a relationship, but you speak it in Spanish and your partner speaks it in German. More specifically, imagine that, throughout childhood and adolescence, love was communicated to you through physical touch (e.g., hugs, kisses, pats on the back) and your partner’s was through receiving gifts (e.g., flowers, new clothes, money). Then, in your adult relationship, a gift may be meaningless when all you want is to be held. For your partner, a passionate kiss could be misconstrued, if he or she is expecting a token or gift that represents love. Though you’re genuine in your communication and you strongly desire to convey, “I love you and I’m committed to you,” your partner hears a foreign language and may rely on your actions to do the communicating.
Without understanding each other’s love language, an individual’s actions or lack thereof, can be misconstrued or disregarded. After years of unhappiness, arguments, and dissatisfaction, many couple’s counselors often find that the problem isn’t love, it’s the love language. Amongst many valuable reasons, counseling is an opportunity for individuals and couples to build healthy and long-lasting relationships. Not only can counseling help clients understand their and their partner’s love language, it also can help protect against the consequences of these languages not being understood or respected. These might include anxiety, depression, anger, arguments, and even, divorce. It is a worthwhile investment to help couples navigate life and love in a healthy way.
For more information on love languages, read Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate (2004).
When I think about total body wellness, I consider the connection between the mind, body, and spirit. However, in the most health fields, including psychology, the focus is generally on the mind and the body. Some people focus solely on physical health and believe that exercise and nutrition are “it” and if they look and feel good physically, all is well. However, what happens when these same individuals experience a bout of depression, anxiety about a career decision, have significant relationship problems, or lack a sense of purpose in life? The thought of seeking mental health or spiritual guidance may not even cross their mind. In other cases, a person may understand the value of psychotherapy and feel secure in their spirituality; however, have poor eating and exercise habits, or never seek treatment for chronic aches and pain. These individuals may endure physical issues that still hinder their overall well-being and actually prolong some symptoms of anxiety or depression.
The connection between the mind, body, and spirit is not one to be disregarded and given that the spirit component is oftentimes the most disregarded, I thought it’d be worth it to research actual statistics of the impact of spirituality and religion. According to Dr. Harold Koenig (Duke University Medical Center), people who attend religious services at least once a week are 46 percent less likely to die from poor physical health habits (i.e., smoking). Apparently, these individuals benefit from many things, including the social networks they form, the encouragement they receive, and the peace of understanding the power of God. Some smaller studies have also shown that people who attend religious services or identify themselves as spiritual beings, experience lower levels of depression and anxiety, have better physical health (i.e., lower blood pressure, fewer strokes), say they generally feel healthier, and engage in less risky behaviors (i.e., alcohol consumption, smoking). A strong sense of spirituality also improves one’s coping abilities for daily stressors.
The purpose of all of this is not to say, “Go to church and you’ll feel great.” It’s simply to encourage you to consider the mind, body, AND spirit when focusing on total body wellness. Physical health consists of taking care of our bodies with nutrition, consistent exercise, and routine medical examinations. Mental health includes our cognitive and emotional well-being, and for many, may require improved coping skills, relaxation training, or other psychological or therapeutic intervention. Spiritual health may consist of prayer, meditation, exploring your life’s purpose with a spiritual guide, and/or attending a church or synagogue to develop positive morals, ethics, and values. Overall, focusing exclusively on one area of health may be the very reason we feel emptiness, inadequacies, and self-doubt, or endure ongoing health problems.
My hope is that this blog will be helpful to you on your life’s journey. As you proceed, keep this quote by Joe Lewis in mind: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
Welcome to my new website for psychological services! I am so excited to venture into my own practice and have had a very beautiful journey to this point. With the help and direction of some very key people and the undeserving and amazing grace of God, I’m ready to embark on this venture. I value every interaction I have with clients and colleagues, and take no part of my “calling” for granted, so thank you in-advance for considering me as your psychologist or referral.