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Showing posts with label loving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label loving. Show all posts

Date Your Mate - Always !

(Note: ‘mate’ as used here is the North American, and other’s term meaning ‘a person of ongoing romantic love involvement’ not the Australian or New Zealand (our Oz and Kiwi friend’s), and other’s  ‘acquaintance or friend’ meaning).

Date your mate or lose your mate!  Date your mate to keep your mate!  Have you heard these modern dictums or axioms?  They speak to a modern world love truth you may do well to think about.

Lots of couples come to me complaining that their relationship is not what it used to be.  They worry that they are falling out of love, feel like something is missing that used to be there and wonder what to do about it.  Examining this usually reveals that they are not behaving in ways that keep love alive and growing.  One of the missing ingredients is they have stopped ‘dating’ one another.  They may go out to eat, or go to the movies and things like that but they don’t behave like they are on a date when doing those things.

There are no special preparations like wearing sexy clothes or using a little perfume or aftershave.  When out together there is no flirting, holding hands, sexy innuendos, playful nudges, intimate strokes or romantic squeezes.  Nor is there looking longingly into each other’s eyes, romantic talk, hints of mystery or surprise, or anything else that might identify what they are doing as a date.  Worse there may be problem talk.  It is not a date if there is talk about problems.  It is a meeting!  Dates that grow love usually are best accomplished when two people give each other special, personal, positive focus.  Dates are for intimate compliments, personal appreciations, expressions of enjoyment and sometimes desire and passion.

A real date includes shared laughter, a sense of personal closeness and all things fun and good – not problems, and not a lot of dealing with everyday practicalities and functionality.  Usually after a couple starts taking each other out on new real dates again improvements start to return to their relationship.  This is not the only thing needed but it can be a big jump start toward increasing the special form of love that couples can create.  So, I like to suggest that couples abide by the modern dictums, “Date Your Mate or Risk Losing Your Mate.”  And “Date Your Mate To Keep Your Mate”.

It is especially helpful to go on lots of different kinds of dates.  Here are some to think about.  Mini dates (ice cream store, walk in the park), regular dates (a movie, out to eat), informal dates (coffee shop, browsing a bookstore together), special event dates (birthday, anniversary), dress up dates (a play, the symphony), romantic dates (candle light dinner, carriage ride), adventure dates (balloon ride, mountain hiking), mystery dates (involving unknown destinations and activities), play dates (amusement park, howling at the full moon together – maybe star gazing after), elegant dates (fine art museum, fine dining), sexy dates (tango dancing, a risqué club) at home or at a special hotel sex dates (erotic massage, striptease) and combinations like a romantic adventure date involving riding galloping horses together through the surf on a moonlit night.

One trick to remember is to call it a ‘date’ in order to get in the right mind-set and help you remember to act like you’re on a date.  Avoid doing just the kind of parallel activity that friends can do but instead do the more intimate, special, connecting interactions which are, by the way, good for couples of all ages.  That way you are more likely to keep the love in your love relationship growing healthfully.

As always – Grow in love.

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love success questions
Today will you give thought to the kind of date or special time together a loved one might especially enjoy, and with those thoughts design a date that you ask that loved one to go on?  If you have trouble designing a date how about asking that special loved one today, “What sort of date or time together would you especially like?”  Today would you consider going over the above list of different kinds of dates with them?  If not today, then when exactly?

Ready or Not for Love?

Are you really ready for love?

Explore the following ‘willingness’ issues and you are likely to help yourself be ‘more ready’.  You also may get in touch with the areas of love- readiness you might do well to understand more, need to strengthen, and the areas in which you are most love-able and love-potent.  Which willingness areas can you say “Yes” to, which ones elicit a “Maybe”, and which ones get your “No” or “Probably not yet” response?

Do You Have STRONG :
1.    Willingness to do the work of learning to love well?

2.    Willingness to do the work of practicing loving well?

3.    Willingness to do the work of unlearning unloving, negative thoughts and feeling systems and the negative behaviors that go with them?

4.    Willingness to risk (to let fear and safety NOT be primary)?

5.    Willingness to love yourself healthfully?

6.    Willingness to live love-centered (NOT money-centered, status-centered, power-centered, etc.)?

7.    Willingness to explore and experiment with new ways?

8.    Willingness to be open to both getting and giving love?

9.    Willingness to choose and use the power of love over all other forms of power?

10.    Willingness to be transformed by love (because that’s what happens) into an ever growing, better self?

11.    Willingness to work at using real love to help heal others, and to use real love to heal you of old wounds and the negative thoughts, feelings, and behavior systems those wounds empower?

12.    Willingness to let love deeply connect you with others, life, nature, spirituality, and other love forces in the universe?

Add up your “Yes” responses, your “Maybe” responses, and your “No & Probably Not Yet” responses.  If you have mostly “Yes” responses you probably are well on your way to ‘readiness’ and enriched living through love.  Mostly “Maybe” answers suggest you could use some work on your love readiness and it is advisable to proceed carefully in love matters.  Mostly “No & Probably Not” responses suggest that before you enter your next great love adventure you may want to emotionally strengthen yourself, look much further into understanding the dynamics of healthy real love and how to avoid love trauma and tragedy.

Please know this is not a definitive test just a little guide for examining your possible love readiness.  It also can be used by couples, or friends and family, and others to help each other look a bit deeper into the area of love readiness.


As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Religion, Love and Mental-Health

“Religion has done me a lot more harm than good,” Molly angrily proclaimed.

Preston, her lover of 6 months, replied with a serious, worried look, “In my way of looking at it religion has been a lifesaver, and it’s what gets me through the bad times”.  Molly folded her arms across her chest and firmly announced, “It took me a lot of work to get over what religion did to me and if we go further in this relationship I don’t want us, or our kids if we decide to have any, to have anything to do with it.”

Preston turned to me with a sad look saying, “Dr. Cookerly, which is it?  Will religion do us more harm or good?  Is our religious difference going to sink us?”  Molly added, “Is religion, if we get into it, going to be a constructive or a destructive thing like it was for me?  You can see this is huge for us and it’s the only big thing keeping Preston and me from going deeper in our relationship.  Can you help us with this?”

Having worked for years with many ‘buckle of the Bible belt’ individuals, couples and families, and later working with a large number of multi-cultural and bi-religion couples and families, I am well acquainted with religion issue questions.  I usually explain that I approach my client’s religion and spiritual issues in counseling as a mental-health professional and not as a theologian or religionist.  As both a psychotherapist and a relational therapist I can agree with Molly that I have seen many people more harmed by some religious involvements than benefited.  I also can agree with Preston having seen religion be a lifesaver, a great helper in the worst of times, and the most constructive influence in many people’s lives.

Sometimes individuals, couples, families and even whole communities are ruined by clashing and destructive religious-based actions, beliefs, judgmentalism, guilt training, and downright sick ways of going about things.  Likewise, by way of religion individuals, couples, families and communities often are healed, reconciled, inspired and re-directed toward healthier, richer, fuller lives through religion.  So the counseling focus for Molly and Preston, and for so many like them, is a three-part question.  Will their religious involvement be more healthful, or more destructive, or will it be the seeming safety of non-involvement?

To help the people I work with discover what their healthiest approach will be concerning religion I start by asking about love.  That’s because how much healthy, real love is, or is not mixed with religion has a lot to do with the mental-health effect the religion has in its participants’ lives.   Starting with simple questions often leads to deep thinking and discussions.  “How’s the love?”  “Where’s the love?”  “Are the people there mostly about love or mostly about something else?”  “How much of what they teach is about love?”  “Is love evident in the practice and actions of the people who practice that religion?”  “Is love central to what’s going on with that religion?”

These and other such questions are typical and important explorations.  Soon we’re talking about how much healthy, real love (see the entries Love’s Definition series) is in evidence at the church, mosque, synagogue, temple, sacred studies class, prayer group, etc. they are contemplating being a part of?

From this mental-health professional’s perspective when considering a religious issue the prime focus is helping clients examine the mental and relational health influence of their religious involvement.  The quickest and best way to start on that is to explore the love issue.  How much is healthy, real love actively being taught and demonstrated by the practitioners of the religion, or religions, being considered?  Likewise, how much anti-healthy, real love teachings and actions are evident in the religious involvement being considered?

Next, it is usually important to look at the following question: In the teachings of the religion being considered is there a high priority placed on compassionate, caring, empathetic, healthy, real love?  Sometimes there is only ‘lip service’ given to compassion and caring love but little or no action.  Here’s another important question.  Where is the love manifest – toward all people or only a select few?  To the clients I’m talking to I also may ask, “How much love do you personally experience coming from the people and the leadership of the religion you’re exploring or getting involved in?”  “Are you dealing with truly love-centered people, or are they practicing more of a ‘fire insurance’ religion where the main interest is just keeping their members out of Hell?”

Also we look into, “Are you getting involved in a religious group where the main thrust is doing healthful love, or is their main dynamic sort of like a game of ‘we are OK, and everyone else is not OK’?”  Could you be in a religion, or subgroup of a religion, which is just a mutual support group for arrogance and safe, social conformity?  Often essential is an answer to this question: As you understand it and discover it, do the religious teachings, scriptures, educational efforts and practices of the religion’s leaders truly exemplify healthy, real love?

Some religious leaders are good at ‘fake love’ so this is sometimes hard to discern.  Is the religion and are the people of the religion love-centered or more centered in status, money, fear, guilt, control or what?  Yes, the first issue to look at, as I see it, has to do with ‘how goes the love’ in the religion and its practitioners.  If the people practicing a religion are not sufficiently about love I have grave doubts about how mentally healthy your experience with them and their ways might be.

It is unfortunate that, as practiced, some religionists are centered on doing non-love and anti-love things.  There are those in religion who just are going through the motions and they are pretty much indifferent, lifeless and loveless.  Others are ‘exclusivity groups’ primarily protecting each other from the new and the different.  A surprising number are primarily about money, and others are about status.  Then there are the groups that are principally about hate.  From a mental-health point of view they are the worst.  Too many others are more about dictatorially telling people what not to do, rather than lovingly suggesting what to do.

Those that are truly love-centered and love-active usually can be found doing great love-centered and love-infused good works helping others.  Their teachings more often tend to coincide with good mental-health concepts and they are actively assisting people toward compassionate, caring, constructive, loving ways of living.  Find and become involved with those groups and you are likely to be much more benefited than harmed.

Now, with those thoughts in mind there is a tricky thing to watch out for.  Some religious groups do ‘fake love’.  This especially is a problem with cults and cult-like groups who practice ‘love bombing’ their candidates for conversion.  This means a person new to the religious cult will be hugged, praised, complimented and well treated so as to get that person addicted to the cult.  Once they are a convert they will be asked for lots of their time, money, effort, etc. and to make sacrifices for the good of the cult.

They also will be pushed toward isolation from ‘unbelievers’ including friends and family, and encouraged to suspend their self-determination and self-directed living.  The convert is, in essence, programmed to not function as a mentally healthy adult but rather as an obedient, unquestioning child.  Reason, skepticism and what we usually think of mature, adult thinking have to be surrendered to the dogmatic tenants and interpretations of the leadership.  Acceptance of the dogma and the leader’s mandates will become primary and real love tertiary at best.

All this and much more were part of Molly and Preston’s discussions concerning religion.  Then Preston asked Molly if she would do him a big love-favor by going to some different religious services, reading different religious material, experimentally engage in some different religious rituals, and be around some different religious groups.  He explained he would like these things to be done so as to jointly get some real experience with religion beyond discussion.  Molly gave this a fair amount of thought and then said she would, if he would endure (out of love for her), any and all doubt, criticism, skepticism and irreverence she might manifest.  She did, however, promise to be publicly polite and respectful.

Preston agreed.  Before they went exploring, however, they made a list of what they thought would be the criteria of a mentally healthy religion which is centered in healthy, real love.  They drew up a list of their own questions and actually were having fun doing this together.  Previously they had been very stuck and only able to destructively argue with one another concerning religion.  Molly said she was going about this exploration like a scientist and pronounced her hypothesis which was that they would never find a religion that would be sufficiently mentally healthy and sufficiently love-centered.  However, she promised to be open minded and to really look at the evidence.

Preston then made his hypothesis which was that they would find at least one, and probably several, religious groups that were mentally healthy and love-centered, and that their involvement in one or more of them would do them a world of good.  Then as a fully loving, good-natured couple they went out to explore and see what they could jointly discover.
Hopefully you and your loved ones can do as well if needed.

Grow and Go with Love, as always!

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question Might it be healthful for you to analyze what role religion has played in your own mental health and in your ability to love and be loved?



Previous Comments:
  1. Charles Palmer-Allen
    May 4th, 2015 at 00:04 |

    The greatest problem today is, that more and more people are falling into the religious or polititical imitative production line of mind control, instead of believing that you are unique and that you are the only one that can contol your heart and mind, by believing in yourself. Your conquering power lies within you to be whatever you want to be, and NOT what others want you to be. Your positive force must be a lot stronger than your negagative force, and the first step to achieve this, is to get rid of all fear that dominates your life. Love yourelf for who and what you are and not on what others think who and what you are. Believe in yourself and believe in the power you have within yourself to make the world a better place. Religion or politics cannot do this for you, it must come from that built in power of love within you. Never allow yourself to become an imitative religious or political robot, stay unique and original. Live your dreams and not your fears, that is what you were born for. Religion and politics have always got it right to play mind games with people and it can never be disputed they have messed up this world big time. There are 7 true steps to love and happiness, which fits the uniqueness of each individual, and by following these steps, the flame of love, health and happiness will never be quenched. It is like a marriage, which is not a two way street as so many today believe, but it is a one direction, one way street of 100% commitment, dedication, trust, honesty, cooperation, happiness, enjoyment, freedom, love, care and compassion from both husband and wife. The 7 steps to light the flame of perfect love is the sure thing with great results. Imitation and robot free, with great victory.

Farmer vs. Mechanic Love Fixing

Synopsis: The clashing and conflict of Farmer Frank versus Michelle the Mechanic, the yea’s and nay’s of our two contradictory approaches, what Michelle did not want to hear and was glad to learn, timeouts, help from the deep inner mind, making choices versus growing solutions, some practical guidelines, and the beautiful interweave of what Frank and Michelle do now.


“Dammit!  Stay here and talk it out with me!  Don’t you dare walk away!  We need to work this out right now, Frank, no matter how long it takes, how upset we get or how tired we get!”  These demands were blasted out by Michelle in loud, angry tones accompanied with ugly looks and defiant gestures.

Frank much more firmly announced “No, I don’t believe that’s true.  We need to take a break, give each other time to calm down and think things through, figure out what we really feel and then work on this problem one little part at a time”.  Who’s right?  Whose approach is better?  Which way of trying to fix a love relationship problem gets the best results, Michelle’s or Frank’s?  And while we’re examining this, think about which of these two ways is more like your usual approach to a love relationship difficulty?

In one way of looking at it there are just two main approaches to fixing love related difficulties.  One is the ‘mechanic’s’ approach and the other is the ‘farmer’s’ approach.  Michelle is using the mechanic’s and Frank the farmer’s.  The mechanic just gets in there and works on the problem until it is fixed, provided he or she has the know-how, the parts and the tools to fix the problem.  The farmer has to work on the problem then back off and let nature do its thing for awhile, then do some more, and then back off again letting Mother Nature do more of her share until the problem is fixed and the goal achieved.  If the farmer digs up the freshly planted seeds to see if there is anything more to be done with them, or to make sure they have started to grow, it’s likely that will destroy the developing roots and stop the growth process.  If the farmer hastens the harvest too soon the crops will be ruined.

The farmer must work with natural processes which require doing some start up actions, backing off, doing some additional tending actions, backing off again and finally harvesting the results.  This is the usual way of working with those things that live and grow or are in need of healing, like crops or people.  The mechanic can take apart and put back together whatever he or she is working on endless times, but for the farmer that could be a very destructive way of going about things.  Some of the farmer’s approach is very mechanic-like and some of it requires leaving nature alone to ‘do its thing’ and being patient.

Here is what Michelle with her mechanic’s approach didn’t want to hear.  Whenever you’re working with things that live the farmer’s approach (with a possible exception) works best.  In fact, it may be the only way many of the difficulties living things experience can be handled successfully.  With inanimate objects the mechanic’s approach works fine.  Perhaps you’re thinking, “What about emergency medicine and surgery; don’t they work by way of the mechanic’s approach”?  No, because after surgery or emergency room procedures the patient is sent to the recovery room where nature’s healing ways take over to do the rest of the job, just like happens on the farm.  The one partial exception is where there is a true emergency and you have to do all you can, as fast as you can.  Even then quite often afterwards there has to be recovery done in the farmer’s or nature’s way.

With the love problems of couples, families, friendships and with self love we usually have to work on the difficulty in the farmer’s fashion.  We have to work on it consciously, and then back off and let our subconscious and other natural health and healing processes work on things without external interruption or too much of our conscious mind’s interference.  Then we can come back and do some more direct, conscious work, and if needed back off again.  That’s why once a week counseling and therapy sessions are the usual frequency standard, whereas ‘intensives’ (extended, uninterrupted therapeutic work lasting many hours, a weekend or a whole week) to work on a relationship or psychological problems are the occasionally useful exception.

Couples and families need to be able to take time out and let everyone’s inner systems process what the conscious mind has taken in.  When facing difficult issues, after a certain amount of direct external work, we need restorative breaks, distraction and relief time, and time to allow our marvelous, deeper mind’s amazing sorting and creative inner systems do their work on our problems.  We need to have time for all our various inner parts or ‘sub-personalities’ to meet with each other and synthesize our often conflicting and uncoordinated thoughts and feelings.  Usually we must do all that internal work to get our best results before we next consciously deal with problems externally.

Another set of problems can arise in our ‘living’ system when we are pressured to use the mechanic’s approach too much or too long.  When we are pressured or rushed, especially at length, our brain begins to make too many stress hormones.  When stress hormones begin to flood our brain and body we tend to grow agitated, irritated, less able to think clearly, we grow angry and more prone to any quick, destructive action which will bring an end to the increasing production of stress hormones. 

Some people are more easily ‘flooded’ than others (which seems to result from how well they were securely loved as children) but everyone can reach their limit.  In addition to that, when we are rushed and pressured into using a mechanic’s approach we are faced with ‘making choices’ instead of ‘growing solutions’.  In love relationships interactively, mutually growing solutions tends to work far better than being forced into quick choice fixes.  This is true in many parts of life but it is especially true in issues of the heart and love relationships.

There are a few practical Guidelines for using the farmer’s approach.  First, agree to use and cooperate with anyone asking for a timeout.  Whenever a timeout is called for schedule how long it’s going to be and when the participants are going to meet next to work on whatever issues are being faced.  Timeouts can be extended if needed but always with a determined time to get back together agreed upon.  Otherwise, dodging the problem for too long or never getting back to it may occur. 

Another guideline is don’t let problem talk invade love or recreation time, and don’t do it late at night or when you’re also trying to handle other stressors.  Pick a start time and an end time to conduct problem talk and stick to that.  With lots of difficulties it’s good for people to ‘sleep on it’ for a night which allows our deep, inner subconscious mind time to ‘do its thing’ which sometimes is quite miraculous.

With some reluctance Michelle conceded the problem she wanted addressed wasn’t a true emergency and so she backed off her mechanic’s approach.  She learned to use Frank’s farmer’s approach more often, then he learned that he could use Michelle’s mechanic’s approach for some of the things they were contending with.  Once in awhile there was a true emergency in their lives and, much more cooperatively, they both went at it like good mechanics can.  They also learned to identify whether a problem they were facing needed a mechanic’s or farmer’s approach and in teamwork they learned to apply that knowledge which eliminated a tremendous amount of conflict they had previously experienced.  Perhaps you can do the same.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
Are you more prone to the farmer’s or the mechanic’s approach when you are dealing with love relationship difficulties?


False Forms of Love: The Devastating IFD Syndrome

Strong, tall, handsome Trent came into my office with tears streaming down his rugged cheeks.  In a groaning, deep tone voice he almost whispered, “I have lost my reason to live.  I lost her – my one, true love.  She was so perfect and I drove her off.  I tried and tried and I can’t get her back.  How am I going to go on?

She won’t have anything more to do with me.  My life is ruined.  It hurts so bad”.  Then he spilled out the story of their relationship.
It was a familiar tale.  Like so many before him Trent had become a victim of one of the big, romantic love killers, the sometimes even fatal IFD Syndrome.

Trent had met and come quickly to think of Tricia as ‘perfect’ in every way.  Things went quite well for them until one day she cut short her long, flowing, gorgeous, locks which had been just right as Trent had seen her lovely hair.  Ever so carefully Trent told Tricia how her hair had looked ideal long and flowing.  He gently insisted she grow it back and never cut it again, plus he sort of pontificated that this was how females should look.  Soon after Tricia started wearing rather short skirts with low necklines.

With some frustration Trent told Tricia it was no longer appropriate for her to wear her clothes like that since they were now in a committed relationship with one another and that type of look was just for attracting men.  Soon thereafter Tricia’s skirts became even shorter and her necklines lower, plus she became rather flirtatious with other men at various gatherings.  As Trent saw it her femininity also was marred by her increasingly risqué talk.  Trent decided he must correct her ways and get her back to acting like she did when he met her.  He tried reason, guilt trips, cajoling, anger and everything else he could think of to get her to conform to the ideal girl he had perceived her to be at the beginning of their relationship.  The more he tried and failed the more frustrated he got.  Then Trent and Tricia began to fight about all sorts of stupid, little things.

That went on for quite a while and kept getting worse.  The end came one day when Trent, in a state of extreme frustration, risked saying “You’re just not the girl I fell in love with and if you don’t go back to being her we are done!”.  Trisha replied, “I am the same girl I always was and if you really loved the real me you would love me as I experiment with new, innocent stuff, go through ordinary changes and find little ways to be more me.  I haven’t done anything I’m ashamed of and you don’t have a right to censor me.  The core, real me is the same.  I don’t think you ever saw the core me and I don’t think you love the real me either.  You’re just in love with your image of me, so, yes, we are done”.  And done they were, leaving Trent defeated, demoralized, dejected and nearly suicidally depressed, trapped in the devastating “D” phase of a strong IFD false love syndrome.

Way back in 1946 a rather then famous linguistic psychologist, Dr. Wendell Johnson, published a book describing the IFD Syndrome and telling of how it negatively effects almost everyone sooner or later.  He called it a “disease” that is particularly common and devastating among university students, sending many into breakdowns and mental hospitals.  Unfortunately mental-health professionals mostly do not read linguistic psychology publications and so this phenomenon went largely unnoticed in the therapeutic community, although it was fairly well received in social psychology and for a time by the lay public.

An experimental psychologist introduced the IFD Syndrome to me when I was in my residency at a psychiatric hospital and we did an in-house study concerning IFD and suicide.  Our results showed that a significant 28% of our most seriously suicide attempting, young, adult patients made their serious suicide attempts in the “D” phase of an IFD Syndrome.  It appeared Dr. Johnson was right about the commonness and severity of this form of false love.  This pattern also showed up in other age ranges to a significant but somewhat lesser degree.

The IFD false love syndrome is thought to work like this.  First, in your childhood and youth you subconsciously begin to get ideas of what your ideal love mate will be like.  This grows into an idealized image of what ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ ‘Just Right For You’ will look, sound, act and be like.  Then one day you meet someone who seems to be rather like that idealized, just right, one and only love mate for you.  Your subconscious then projects your idealized image onto that person, blinding you from seeing who’s really there.  Just as you do not see the screen at the movies you only see what’s projected onto it, so too you only see your idealized, projected image and not the real person who is there.  The letter “I” in the IFD syndrome stands for “idealized image” or just “idealization”.

In time you begin to get glimpses of who is really there and you don’t like it because it’s different than your ideal image.  This can be said always to occur because people are dynamic, changing, growing, altering, maturing, etc. and because people are more complex than idealized images.  So even if a person stays pretty much the same for a time the person doing the projecting will start to see more than was seen at first and that will be unexpected, disconcerting and frustrating.  Of course for a time the person you project your idealized image onto may artificially act in accord with what you desire as a way to relate to you.

Eventually new and differing aspects of the ‘real person’ will emerge into your awareness and that will be more troubling to you.  Another way to think about this is that since no two things can be exactly alike your idealized image and a real person cannot be the same, and with time that will be discovered and become disturbing.

What comes next is growing frustration.  As you try to get your lover back up on your ‘idealization pedestal’ and try to get them to ‘act right’ they keep stepping down off your pedestal and being themselves.  After all, pedestals are very narrow, dull places on which to live even if, at first, they seem flattering and safe.  People who live on a pedestal come to feel unloved because in truth they are not loved but only idealized.  Healthy, real love accepts change, supports growth and understands the need for maturation and variety.

For a time in the “F” phase things progress in a troubled way.  As you observe more discrepancies between your static, idealized image and the dynamic reality of the person you are with, often you compulsively and sometimes even desperately attempt to get your lover to regress to what you first saw them to be.  Frequently that person resists overtly or covertly, and you become ever more frustrated, often angry and perhaps even violent.  [It is important to note that the one you think you love must exist as their real self to be healthy, because if they are forced or submit to other than who they really are they often may deteriorate into depression or some other illness.]  But, as you see it, any change is “for the worse” not change for the better.

Usually the relationship becomes increasingly conflicted, difficult and full of more frustration, along with fewer and fewer demonstrations of love.  Unloved people subconsciously, if not consciously, go looking for love and this can lead to cheating and all the frustrations that go with that.  Escape into some form of destructive, self abuse or addiction also may occur to either person if the “F” phase of an IFD Syndrome is prolonged.  The “F” in the IFD stands for “Frustration” and the fight for and against getting the idealized lover to return to the projected ideal.

After living in the “F” stage of an IFD Syndrome finally, by one means or another, the relationship fails completely.  Then the person who did the idealizing (Trent, in the example above) enters the “D” phase of the syndrome.  This happens when the idealizer realizes they’re not going to get their ideal lover, that person is lost, unattainable, and the ideal they had fixated on is likely never to be realized.  If that happens to you in a love relationship you enter a phase of feeling devastated, demoralized, dejected, defeated and all too often temporarily, clinically depressed, even sometimes to the point of being suicidal for a time.  The “D” in the IFD Syndrome stands for those “D” words in the sentence above: demoralized, depressed, etc..  The clinical depression can happen because love situations effect the neurochemical processes of your brain, sometimes quite positively and sometimes quite negatively.

By the way, know that IFD dynamics can occur with lots of different human endeavors.  Some people idealize their parents, or their children, or their spiritual leader, or religion, or political philosophy, or their country, etc..  The results of strong idealization are inevitably the same.  After idealizing someone or something the one doing the idealizing becomes frustrated when he or she sees that which they idealized is falling short or differing from the ideal.  Then the idealizer becomes demoralized when he or she realizes ideals exist only in the mind and not in reality, and the ideal, therefore, is unobtainable and impossible.  However, love and romance-related idealizations often are the worst type to experience when they enter the “D” phase.

Trent, who was quite bright, was helped enormously by learning of the IFD dynamics and how they worked.  He also was helped quite a lot by spending time in a therapy group where others told him of having gone through the IFD Syndrome and come out just fine, often in a surprisingly shorter time than predicted by their mental health professional.  Some mild, mood stabilizing medications which blocked Trent from sinking too low in his depression also had short-term usefulness.  A word of caution here.  Those who have suffered from IFD Syndromes sometimes are thought to have been confused with much more long-lasting mental illness conditions and, thereby, may have been over-medicated and otherwise improperly treated.

For those who get seriously depressed in an IFD pattern just staying alive for 6 to 12 weeks seems to get them over a hump.  That’s because by then for most people the brain adjusts and produces healthier brain chemistry that helps the sufferer to better process the whole relationship dynamic they have been through.  Most unfortunately a number of people in the “D” phase of an IFD pattern are thought to have successfully committed suicide before that amount of time has passed and they could feel better and see clearer.

So, if you think someone is in a serious “D” phase of an IFD Syndrome try to get them to a good therapist who can help them through this sometimes dangerous phase and on to healthier love relating.  It also is important to know that some people get stuck in repeating the IFD Syndrome with a whole string of lovers.  Others get married in the “I” or “F” phase and then divorce in the “D” phase.  Some do this over and over.

The good news is most people who go through an IFD Syndrome come out of it and go looking for new and better understandings of how healthy, real love works.  They have a good chance of developing the real thing.  Again, a good love-knowledgeable counselor or therapist can help make that outcome happen a lot more likely, more quickly and much more completely.

Trent recovered fully and went on to a healthy, real love that worked well.  Later he got to know Trisha again in a much different situation.  His final comment about her in a counseling session was, “Trisha is OK but frankly I don’t know what I saw in her that I was so passionate about.  She seems nice but she’s not someone I’d want to spend a lot of time with”.  His closure statement is representative of most of the final IFD Syndrome outcomes.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
Do you have an ideal love mate in your mind, against which you unrealistically compare all real people?  If so what are you going to do about that?

False Forms of Love Series
False Forms of Love: Limerence and Its Alluring Lies
False Forms of Love: Meta Lust
False Forms of Love: Shadow Side Attachments
False Forms of Love: The Devastating IFD Syndrome
False Forms of Love: Unresolved Conflict Attraction Syndrome

Do You Love with Laughter?

Do you know you can love someone by helping them laugh?  You also can love them by laughing with them (not at them).  Laughing together helps the love connecting process grow stronger.  Smiling, saying something funny, witty, humorous, etc. is a real plus for all sorts of love relationships.

This especially applies to friendship love, parent/child love, mate love, and comrade love, plus it is very likely to be constructive in a good many other types of love relationships.

Loving with laughter sometimes is especially good for helping people under stress ‘lighten their load’, panicked people ‘get a grip’, and angry people not take things so seriously.  Loving with laughter can give needed relief by assisting people be, at least temporarily, distracted from physical and emotional pain, fear, anxiety, other bad feelings, and also from life’s problems and difficult situations.  A good loving ‘laughter break’ often helps people approach a difficulty from a new and better angle seeing solutions they were blinded to previously.

Not only does loving with laughter help your loved one but it helps you too.  Besides creating a positive, happy environment for both of you, hearty laughter releases healthy, feel good, beneficial chemicals in your body.  The bio-sciences have produced many reports indicating laughter can reduce stress, promote relaxation and strengthen our immune system.  So, do yourself a favor and laugh with your loved ones often.

Loving with laughter is especially helpful in romantic and mate type love development.  It helps lovers reduce tension, feel more at ease, feel more connected, sometimes be more self disclosing and want to be around each other more.  It is no wonder that the most common thing women say that attracted them to a lover was “He made me laugh”.  A human love relationship without laughter can be too heavy, too serious and too draining.

There are a couple of things to be careful about.  One is ‘put down’ humor.  Putdown humor occurs when the humor depends on someone being demeaned, criticized, the butt of a joke, etc..  It may work in some friendships but it is seldom a plus in mate or romantic type love.  Put down humor can grow especially toxic when the putdowns are being aimed at the one you love.  Frequently the person being put down comes to feel degraded and disrespected instead of enjoyed.  The trick is to not ‘make fun of’ but rather have fun with those you love.  Whenever you help a loved one feel like they are being made fun of, secret or subconscious resentments tend to grow, a fight or even a breakup may ensue.

No matter how funny you may think demeaning humor, clever putdowns, critical joking, and discounting satire are they all can be quite detrimental to a love relationship. This can be true no matter who or what the target of the negative humor is.  Humor that depends on any form of prejudice also may be quite destructive to a love relationship.  Another thing to watch out for is too much laughing at yourself.  Self-effacing humor, even though it causes laughter, may subtly teach another person to think more poorly of you.

Cruelty-based or dependent laughter of any kind promotes cruelty which may eventually be turned on everyone and anyone in a relationship network.  Also to be avoided in doing healthy real love is falsely laughing at someone else’s jokes, witticism, satire, etc..  Falsely laughing practices and promotes being deceptive, giving false information about what you like or find funny, and it reinforces the increase of a behavior you don’t want to see more of.

The best love laughter probably occurs with positive surprises.  An unexpected compliment, the unusual rewarding event, and the unforeseen affirming action are examples.  Consider a surprise birthday party, an affirmation-filled singing message, the discovered upbeat love note, flowers for no special occasion or a puppy gift.  All are likely to produce smiles and laughter in a way that also can convey and promote healthy real love.  Strange and odd ways of seeing things, saying things and doing things can provide not only laughter but an intimate sharing of one’s unique special self.  That is almost always good for growing a close, endearing love relationship.

Also important is being silly together.  Lighthearted, shared, silly actions, words, looks, gestures, etc. all can be super constructive in many kinds of love relating.  This can be doubly important in sexual love.  Silly sex is one of the best types of sex according to many couples.  The fun-filled, naked pillow fight, the giggle-filled secret sex in a public place, and the laughter inducing wearing of absurdly sexy attire are examples.  Lovingly laughing together at sexually involved awkward moments, clumsy maneuvers, botched attempts, and fizzled finesse, along with larger sexual misadventures is often crucial.

Shared loving laughter can help you not to get stuck, stopped or in a rut concerning sex.  Laughing together can make even upsetting sex-related misdeeds, indiscretions and disasters into  precious, funny, shared love memories such as “Remember the time we set the pillow on fire”, “the minister arrived at our house unexpectedly and we had to scramble for our clothes”, and “how Auntie Matilda responded to the elephant’s erection”.

Loving smiles and laughter also can come from using precious, funny, little nicknames: Diddlesitlittle, Poofuddle , Sugams, and Dimpleduster to name a few I’ve heard.  Using special oddball terms for the ordinary like “At their house lovers eat dinnuch at 4:30 P.M.” helps with laughter and closeness.  Giving loved ones a loving wink, nudge, thumbs-up gesture, V for victory salute, etc. all done with little laughs and smiles are also precious.

Laughing while talking with sexy innuendos for example “Do you want some”, “Last night did you get some”, “Are you going to give him (or her), or both some tonight”, “Give me some right now and I’ll make sure you get some right along with mine” ad infinitum.  This shared  sexiness with a little fun helps many love relationships to be intimate and special.  Best of all can be simple laughter itself, for no other reason than just being happy in love.

So, I want you to ask yourself, “How are you doing at loving with laughter?”

As always –grow in love! And laugh often.

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly



Image credits: “heart faces background” by Flickr user jelene (Jelene Morris).

Upbeat Emotions & Learning for Love

Synopsis: An Elven teaching about a difference between “smart” and “wise”, finding the guidance messages for upbeat love emotions, the grand importance of sharing emotions, 7 upbeat emotions to share and use for practice in getting your personal guidance messages and more.


It was told of old that the ancient elves taught:
“The smart learn from their hurts, agonies, disappointments and despair.

The wise learn from their joys, ecstasies, contentments, and elations,
while sadly – the rest learn not from their feelings at all.”
Natural, good feeling emotions can give us great guidance.  Natural, good feeling emotions tell us that we are doing something probably healthful and right for us to do.  Shared natural, good feeling emotions guide us toward more and better bonding together in love relationships.  Natural, good feeling emotions can teach us a great deal about ourselves, our relationships and how to make both stronger and more successful.  It is our job to learn how to get the guidance messages of our natural, good feeling emotions and use them for higher, greater and more wonderful love.

Feelings, both physical and emotional, are ancient, natural guidance systems working for our safety, survival and advancement.  They are far older than are reasoning and conscious thought.  In relationships and especially love relationships our emotional system of feelings often gives far wiser guidance than do reason or contemplation.  However, it is even more advantageous when we use our thinking and reasoning abilities with our emotions because that gives us the very best guidance our incredible brains can produce.

Of even greater benefit is when two or more people in a love relationship share in a simple, ‘four step process’.  First comes sharing their emotions, second is searching for and discovering the guidance messages in their emotions and sharing them with one another, third comes sharing and synthesizing their thinking about the feelings and the guidance message, and finally comes acting in teamwork with one another from what they have discovered from sharing and synthesizing.  Synthesizing means to interweave together the guidance messages of the emotions and actions stemming from those guidance messages.

Here’s a simple example.  Harriet feels cold and understands her feeling guidance message is to “warm up”.  Charlie feels hot and understands his guidance message is to  “cool down”.  Instead of arguing about whether or not they’re going to turn up or turn down the thermostat they synthesize their guidance messages, so Charlie takes off his shirt and hands it to Harriet who puts it on.  Charlie is cooler, Harriet is warmer, and both are happier in their harmony together via sharing feelings and their guidance messages and arriving at ‘synthesis’.

There are a number of good things that come from sharing emotions and together discovering the guidance that those emotions give.  Here’s the biggest and most wonderful part of that.  Sharing emotions together may result in the most significant relationship experiences people have together.  By lovingly sharing both the emotions we call “good” and the ones we call “bad” continued emotional connecting and bonding tends to become ongoing.  Without that sharing, emotional connection can fade and love relationships may die.

Sharing the emotions of good times and bad times, but especially the upbeat, good times tends to strengthen a couple, or a family, or friendship, or any other human unit.  Sharing upbeat feelings is more easily enriching to humans who love each other, but sometimes through sharing hurts there is deep connectedness also.  Without the sharing of good, happy, upbeat emotions the continued strengthening and enrichment of a love relationship is very hard to achieve.

Many people do not know that sharing good or upbeat emotions is just as important, if not more important, than sharing the ‘downer’ emotions of pain and displeasure.  While sharing pain tends to lessen the pain, sharing good feelings provides motivation to be together, stay together and move forward together.  Sharing good or upbeat feelings also provides knowledge, for those who know to learn from it, for how to repeatedly achieve good feelings and the enrichments, health and well-being that natural, good feelings bring.  Consider the statement “Date your mate or lose your mate” (see blog entry “Date Your Mate – Always!”).  It is in the shared joys of recreation that couples, families, and others are re-created as the word recreation indicates.  Therefore, dates, vacations and other ‘upbeat’ emotional experiences are vital to the healthful continuance of love relationships.

Of course it is really best and highly important to share both the feelings we call “good” and the feelings we call “bad” which enable us to better get the guidance messages of them all.  In a sense all feelings are good because all feelings give guidance.  The ‘team’ we call a couple, or a family, or a friendship, like any team, needs shared guidance.  Otherwise one part of the team doesn’t know what the other part of the team is all about and, thus, teamwork fails.  It is a simple truth that within a team shared guidance works far better than un-shared guidance and that’s why it is important that all the team members join in sharing their feelings with each other.  Only then can all share in the guidance those feelings can give.

Here is an example.  His strong emotions were pushing him toward adventure.  Her strong feelings were for safety.  With love they shared their emotions, and with wisdom they synthesized the guidance messages they got from their feelings.  Mountain climbing, starting with a modest mountain, became the most exciting thing they had ever done together and the shared excitement, shared adventure and the shared awe of grand vistas bonded them together like little else could.

She was so thankful for his spirit and desire for adventure because it brought her worlds she never knew and ecstasy she never imagined experiencing.  Her own emotions of fear, anxiety and foreboding motivated her request that they start with a not too difficult ascent and also that she bring an extra well-equipped first-aid kit, which contained the necessary items that saved his life when a rattlesnake bit him as they were descending the mountain.  He was so thankful that her emotions guided her to the safeguarding actions that saved his life.

Shared fears and desires lead to following the guidance messages that lead to both of them surviving adversity and to a grand and enriching shared adventure.  It also brought them closer together and strengthened their mutual love experience.  He at first had thought her safety concerns were a bit excessive.  She quite definitely thought his adventure desires were excessive but with love, hope and certain safeguarding actions she went forward with him.  Both came to feel very glad for being able to understand the guidance their emotions gave them.

So, are you learning the guidance messages and teachings hidden in the wisdom of your emotions?  (For more information about the guidance messages of emotions see the entry “Dealing with Love Hurts #1 – Pain’s Crucial Guidance”)  Are you especially learning from your upbeat, happy emotions?  With a loved one, together are you sharing those emotions, jointly learning their guidance messages, and weaving together what you learn?  Do you actively seek to learn the feelings of those you love and ascertain the guidance messages and teachings in the feelings of your loved ones?  Are you good at synthesizing yours and your loved one’s emotional guidance messages?

To help you toward doing these things here are five types of ‘good’ or pleasant to experience emotions, and typical learnings or guidance messages ‘wise people’ — or elves — sometimes get from these good feelings.

1. Emotion: Serenity: Possible Guidance Message: Here is restoration, so linger with it and soak it up.  Whenever you’re stressed, hassled, anguished or just drained learning from your serenity could help you remember what you did, and how you behaved, and where you went that got you to serenity and to its highly restorative enrichment so that you might do it again.  If you share your feelings of serenity with a loved one they may also feel some serenity or feel more connected with you and your current serene countenance, plus they could learn the same thing you’re learning from that feeling.  A loved one might also notice and remind you when you need to do those things that lead to your restorative serenity.

2.  Emotion: Joyful Anticipation: Possible Guidance Message: Go forward, let yourself get into the anticipated experience fully, soak it up and be enriched by it.  Sharing it with a loved one may help them have a good feeling of joyful anticipation also, and that may double both your pleasures, helping to connect you with your loved one more fully.

3.  Emotion: Tenderness: Possible Guidance Message: Feeling tender toward someone can guide you to show and share your feeling softly, delicately, slowly and somewhat carefully.  The guidance coming from tenderness can lead you toward a more intimate connection with someone you love.

4.  Emotion: Affection:  Possible Guidance Message: feeling affectionate can guide us to lovingly touch, say words of affection, give and act with affectionate affirmation, and actually be far more in touch with experiencing what is wonderful about a loved one.  Done well, expressed affectionate feelings are often highly rewarding to both the lover and the loved.  Received well, affection is often energizing, thus, boosting a person’s experience of you, themselves and life.

5. Emotion: Pride: Possible Guidance Message: Feeling pride guides you to be more confident in either ‘your being’ or ‘your doing’ accomplishments.  It also may get you to store up that confidence so that you can accomplish more.  Pride may help you honor yourself which will tend to strengthen your self-esteem, your sense of worth, and be more motivated ‘to own’ your okayness and, therefore, attempt more in your life.  Accurate pride also may counter low self esteem, poor self concept, and a general sense of inadequacy, along with encouraging independence and self-assertion. (Note: Accurate pride in yourself is always the enemy of that which is dictatorial and controlling).

Pride in a loved one, or in your coupleness, in your family, in a friendship or anything else you’re a part of is great for feeling united and inspired.  Furthermore, accurate pride can guide us toward having a greater sense of empowered security because of a solidarity with ourselves and others.  Pride in others is best when it is shared, which rewards other’s actions and helps with feeling connected.  Sharing pride in yourself with a good, self respecting loved one, so long as it is not overdone and is accurate, usually garners respect and greater relaxation together.  Do note, there are those who may have trouble with you being proud, for example, the envious, the jealous, the inadequate and those who have been taught that pride is a sin

It is important that everyone work to get their own guidance messages from their own emotions because the guidance messages can vary to a fair degree from person to person.  Generally the guidance message in all so-called “good” feeling emotions is to keep doing the actions or thoughts that brought the feelings, until boredom comes along to tell you to do something else.  The general guidance message in most emotions known as “bad” feelings is to do something different, usually right away.  But as you can see from the above examples of upbeat emotions there is a lot more ‘wisdom’ to be learned and lived by in the “guidance messages for the wise”.

You and a loved one might want to talk about what you think the guidance messages could be for both of you together when experiencing the following ‘upbeat’ emotions: 1. Awe, 2. Joy, 3. Sweetness,  4. Closeness,  5. Tickled , 6. Ecstasy & 7. Respect.

As always –Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
Will you identify and share with a loved one the strongest two emotions you have felt so far today, and together see if you can discern what the guidance messages in those feelings might be?


Adultery And No Divorce Love

Synopsis: Bennett’s dilemma, What most couples are not doing about adultery, Adultery’s bigger definition, Bennett’s relief, Adultery commonality, Three major questions to grapple with, Accepting multiple causation, Changing mindsets, Adultery of the heart, Agony, struggling and no divorce love.


Quote: "Everybody’s telling me I should divorce my wife because she’s been having sex with somebody besides me.  Even my priest has said my wife is an adulterer and that provides me with perfectly acceptable grounds for an annulment in our church.  He even offered to help me with the paperwork.  Both my brothers and my sister say “divorce her” and that’s what they would do.  I know she’s committing adultery but I just can’t bring myself to divorce.  I love her way too much to end it.”  Bennett lamented all this in a very anguished individual counseling session late one evening.  I replied, “Perhaps not going toward divorce is going to turn out to be a good thing.

You see most of the people who don’t divorce after adultery are glad they stayed married.  Not only that, but most of the people who do divorce because of adultery a year later are not at all sure they did the right thing.  Many wish they had stayed and worked on their marriage a lot more than they did.  At least that’s what I see in my practice, and there’s also pretty good research that largely backs me up on this.  It seems that more and more people don’t think adultery is worth getting a divorce over, even though adultery is usually an enormous, hurt-filled problem”.

As used here, the word adultery means having secret, sexual or powerfully romantic, emotional relations with someone other than your spouse in a way that involves betrayal, lies, deceptions, a lack of self disclosure and honest sharing, usually accompanied by the creation and maintenance of false and incomplete understandings.

Bennett said, “I’m so glad to hear something different than what I have been hearing. I want us to be one of those couples that didn’t let adultery break them up.  I am going to go home and ask my wife to come to couple’s counseling, and tell her I am willing to do everything I can to help us get past this issue if she will just give it a try with me.”  To make a long story short, he did just that and they came to couples counseling together, and now after some pretty hard work they’re doing great.  In fact they both suspect they are probably doing better than they ever would have had they not learned to handle their adultery problem with lots of new and better ways to do healing love, and re-start their love relationship in bigger and better ways.

Are you aware that the majority of marriages in the Western world, and especially in the USA, go through at least one major event involving adultery (cheating, affair, unfaithful, etc.) and most do not divorce over it.  Of course, for many couples it is immensely difficult and there is a great deal of agony, struggle and recovery work to do.  (See the entries under Dealing with Love Hurts”).  The good news is many couples do the work it takes, and though it is a hard way to get there, their marriage becomes stronger and better than it ever was before.

If you’re facing an issue like the one Bennett was facing here are three hard but important questions to ask yourself.  Is your love greater than your hurt?  (Great love conquers great hurt!).  Is the love you have with your spouse more powerful than what you have been taught to think, feel and do about adultery?  (What you have been trained to think, feel and do may defeat love if you let it!).   How did you help your spouse go toward adultery?  (possibly by demonstrating your love for your mate too poorly, too narrowly, too infrequently, or possibly by behaving with very anti-love actions?).  Notice in this last question we have said “help” not cause.  Primary causal responsibility rests with the primary actor, but other people and assisting factors are to be considered for a full understanding.

Seldom is it wise to see one spouse as 100% victim and the other as 100% perpetrator when it comes to why someone commits adultery.  In couples group therapy Jerry said it quite well when he remarked, “I stopped getting her flowers, writing her love notes, telling her how much she meant to me, taking her where she wanted to go on dates, and in just about every way I no longer showed her the love I felt for her.  So, of course, she had an affair.  What else could I expect?”  Linda said, “I did worse than that.  I kept putting my husband down, criticizing him, not acknowledging his achievements, taking him for granted, I didn’t really listen to him and sometimes I purposefully frustrated him about sex, and was way to prudish.  I did almost every single thing you call anti-love behavior.  The other woman did the opposite of all that, so guess what, he committed adultery with her.  I might have done the same thing if I were in his place.”

There are lots of other important question/positions, but I suggest starting with these three: If you’re love can be bigger than your hurt that’s a fairly good indicator that you both may be able to recover together.  If you develop your own thoughts and chosen actions beyond what you were taught to do, adultery can be responded to in all sorts of new, different and healthier ways.  If you can discover and ‘own up to’ how your actions probably helped adultery happen, and then improve, there’s lots of hope.  These questions are not usually easily or quickly answered, and each leads to other questions you may need to struggle with.  But they often help people move toward the love healing needed.

People’s mindsets are changing in regard to the magnitude of difficulty having sex outside of marriage represents.  Gloria said, “When I found out he had sex with someone he met at work I thought it meant he didn’t love me anymore, and that he wanted to replace me with her.  That was devastating and terrifying to me.  Eventually I discovered he just wanted to see what sex was like with a woman different than me.  That was disturbing but not nearly as horrifying as what I had first thought.  Now we are working it through, and I think we’re going to make it”.

I got asked a sort of peculiar question at a weekend retreat workshop I was conducting on love relationships.  A participant asked, “Just what is the importance of one penis in one vagina as opposed to multiple penis’s in multiple vaginas”?  How would you answer that? Follow up questions in that discussion were, “Do we give too much importance to penises in vaginas or other sex acts”, and “How is it that in some parts of the world people enjoy their spouse having sex with others, while elsewhere others can’t even stand the idea of that happening”.  Perhaps those are questions you might do well to ponder.  It is true that in some cultures and at various periods in history adultery has had almost no importance at all, while at other times and places it has had enormous significance.  There are even societies in which there is no word for adultery in their language, while in others there is a whole vocabulary indicating widespread importance.

If you are struggling with an adultery issue in your life, a great big thing to examine is the influence of your societal, subconscious programming or conditioning concerning the subject of adultery.  You see, your feelings and many of your thoughts may have been pre-programmed into you, and in a sense may not even be your own, true, self-derived thoughts and feelings.  Likewise, what is your training and your subconscious programming concerning love and loving forgiveness?  Do you find yourself more in the “love can conquer all and, therefore, forgive all” category, or are you in the “adultery is marriage’s unforgivable sin” category?  Which of those do you really choose to be in and which is the most healthful for you?

Let’s look at ‘background’.  There are those who think that in olden times the only real reason adultery became the singular, allowable reason for divorce was because the ancient religious elders who made the rules were sexually insecure, immature and quite possibly sexually inadequate.  If that’s true they quite easily were threatened and, thereby, motivated to make big, strong rules protecting themselves.  Naturally, to reinforce their defense they said it was God’s will, and they were but the messengers.  Others point out that patrilineal societies tend to have much stricter prohibitions and punishments for adultery than do matrilineal societies.  Then there are the cultures in which not having sex with guests, visitors and the like, outside of the pair bond is grounds for divorce.  Also consider the societal groups in which everyone is expected to be having extra pair bond sex, and those in which a woman having children by different men is held in higher esteem than a woman having children by only one man.

Here in modern times and places there is a growth in finding ‘adultery of the heart’ to be far more grievous than ‘adultery of the body’.  Marla said, “Just so long as he doesn’t bring home a disease I don’t care who he does what with, except he better not fall in love with her because that’s totally forbidden in our relationship”.  Thomas remarked, “My wife and I can have sex with somebody else but three times is the limit.  After that it might get too emotional and neither of us wants that.  We love each other tremendously and want each other to have all sorts of pleasures, and at the same time we want to safeguard our love because it’s so precious.”  People who think like this in the Western world are a minority, but be not mistaken it’s a growing minority.

There also are a growing number of couples who tell of their love of each other being far more significant than mere sex with others.  “Adultery is a forgivable sin if you really love somebody, so that’s what I’ll work at,” said Jonathan who was struggling with this issue in his marriage.  “Adultery is just not worth getting a divorce over,” said Sondra who was also battling to save her marriage.  “When you have kids getting a divorce because of adultery is just plain selfish and shortsighted.  If you really love them and your mate see if you can stick it out and make something better happen,” remarked Brenda whose marriage was coming back together.  Charles proclaimed, “We have a great deal of love for each other so we’re not going to let adultery defeat our love, and that’s all there is to it”.  So, you can see many couples have a strong “no divorce love”, or at least a no divorce over adultery love relationship, which wins the day for them.

Why explore other times, other cultures and other people’s ways of doing love and sex?  Because it is one way we are more likely to make informed choices in our own love relationships instead of reacting out of subconscious programmed determined ways.

You may be finding it hard to wrap your mind around these ideas, and your heart may be aching, and your gut churning, because for most people grappling with adultery issues is one of the hardest things they ever do.  Adulterous behavior for many leads to almost unbearable agony, great fear, and a great sickening of the heart.  Even so, the message here is take heart.  While most couples will face a real-life challenge in this area most will, with love and hard work, get past it and many will end up in a better functioning love relationship than they started with.  My bias is the smart, the practical, and the most loving seek out the help of a love knowledgeable, nonjudgmental couple’s therapist and get past the difficulties together with help and insight.  With competent couple’s counseling they do this far faster, more thoroughly, and with less pain than they otherwise would have.

Also very important is the fact that by way of counseling they do it with far less destructiveness for all concerned.  Even though adultery can be terribly painful to a couple, divorce or breaking up is quite frequently not the best answer.  Of course, if there is little true, healthy love, lots of emotional and/or other abuse, repeated lies, betrayal and deception, and an unwillingness to truly work for improvement a couple may be psychologically divorced already.  However, adultery’s effects so very often can be overcome by a strong ‘no divorce’ committed love when two people keep working to grow their healthy, real love.

In regard to adultery a ‘no divorce love’ is one that makes an established, shared love more important than relations outside that established shared love, more important than fear, more important than hurt (but not more important than harm), and more important than social pressure and past teachings.  It also must be one in which those in the established, shared love are willing and able to mutually work on the improvement of their love relationship giving it extremely high priority in their lives.
It is my sincere hope that these thoughts will be helpful to you and those you share these thoughts with.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question Are you, or will you be working for your love (spouse type) to grow so strong that it can, if necessary, survive an adultery challenge?


Love Complaints Versus Love Requests

“She’s always griping, complaining and blaming me for everything!  I’ve had it with her endless moaning and groaning.  I’m through listening to her bitching.  If it doesn’t stop I’m going where I won’t ever have to defend myself against her stupid accusations again.  I will leave and get a divorce”.

So said Andrew in a couple’s counseling session.  Rachel, his wife, angrily shouted, “You don’t ever listen to me.  You just wall up and ignore what I need.  You don’t really love me or you’d listen to me and give me the love I need”.  “See what I mean” was Andrew’s reply.

With some work it became clear to both Andrew and Rachel that she actually was attempting to get what she felt she needed and what she very much wanted, not by asking for it but by complaining and blaming about what she wasn’t getting.  It also became clear that Andrew had come to hear just about every thing she said as a complaint, gripe or a personal attack to which he got angrily and offensively defensive. 

With some more couple’s counseling things began to change for the better.  “You’re always yelling at me” became “sweetheart, could you say that in a softer tone please?”  “You never listen to me” was replaced with “Honey, I would like you to really hear me very carefully for the next few minutes.  Would that be okay?”  “We never go anywhere and you never take me out” turned into “Darling, I would really like us to go on a date this weekend, just you and me with real positive, romantic attitudes, OK?”  “You’re a damned sex addict” and “You sexless prude” turned into “Let’s make some time for just love, and then some time for love and sex together.”  “That sounds great.  How about Friday night for one and Saturday night for the other?”.  “You don’t love me anymore” became “I’m really hungry for your special love so could we cuddle and hug a lot tonight?”

Rachel and Andrew learned that requests are not easily heard when they sound like complaints.  Desires expressed as gripes and longing framed as blame don’t work.  Nor is anger easily understood as the hurt and frustration that usually underlies it.  Frowns are more likely to be seen as disapproval than worry, and agitation often is not viewed as the fear and anxiety it often stems from.

With help Andrew and Rachel learned, practiced and built new, far more loving ways to go after what they wanted and help each other obtain their desires.  They discovered that loving requests are usually not heard as attacks to defend against, desires well stated are not interpreted as criticism, and well expressed wants are not to be interpreted as demands or control efforts to be rebelled against.

Rachel and Andrew created their own version of some simple but very helpful rules to follow:

1. Talking about what’s wrong seldom leads to creating what can become right.  Therefore, talk about what ‘right’ would look like to both of you.  Then synthesize your two views if possible.
 
2. Talking about what went wrong doesn’t automatically lead to how you can make something go well.  Therefore, talk about how you want something to go rather than how it went.
 
3. Talking about a past event that felt bad seldom gets a couple to a future event that feels good.  Go directly after ‘feel good’ future events and keep talking in the future tense not in the past tense when you want something to improve.
 
4. Talking about who’s to blame seldom leads to who’s going to make an improvement or how to make a joint improvement.  Talk about what is to be done in the future and who’s going to do it and when it will be done.
 
5. Talking with words that are demeaning (stupid, feather-brain, idiot, brute, etc.) destroys teamwork.  Honestly praise and compliment your partner frequently (yes, there usually is something to praise, however small) and use many terms of endearment.  It’s OK to say “Lover, right now I am very mad at you” but not “You ignorant bastard”.
 
6. Talking in unclear, imprecise, vague terms seldom gets you what you want or what is needed.  Identify what you desire clearly and then ask for it in behavioral terms.  Then add when you want what you desire.  For example “You’re not affectionate” can become “I want a hug”, or cuddle, or to make love, or a compliment, or a date, or for you to look lovingly into my eyes, etc..  Remember to identify the time frame you want it in.
 
7. Talking with a bad or negativistic attitude, or a bland blah neutral attitude is divisive and de-motivating, and will not lead to happy togetherness.  Therefore, talk with a loving and whenever appropriate upbeat attitude, and lovingly request the same of your partner.  To do that, first purposefully center yourself in love not in anger, hurt, power, manipulation, etc.

I find most couples can benefit from these seven ‘rules’ and I hope you find them useful.

If you lovingly talk in the future tense where improvements can happen you may get to a love-filled future.  If you talk in the past tense it will likely take you to the past and all you will do is repeat it.  It can be OK to talk the negative, painful past if the talk can be devoid of blame, and does not re-create the bad feelings of the past, and also is accomplished with well demonstrated, two way loving empathy.  Otherwise, avoid it.  Attempting to get agreement on the past is often an unattainable and unnecessary endeavor.  Focus on what is ‘now’ and ‘next’ instead.

Most of all learn to make truthful, accurate, clear behavioral requests with a loving attitude and do it frequently.  Then, of course, work hard to really hear your loved one’s requests from a love-centeredness.  We often make a mistake so common in our culture.  It is the mistake of trying to make improvements in a relationship by talking in the negative i.e. griping, complaining, blaming, criticizing, etc.

Relationship related complaints are often founded in love hunger and an appropriate desire to be better treated, or are founded in some hurtful experience to which well expressed love will be the cure.  The trouble with talking in emotional negatives is that it usually doesn’t get you to go toward emotional positives or anywhere else you want to go.  Even if your complaint is well-based in something love related, it is only the exceptional, highly love able people who are likely to hear it that way.  If you want to be well loved speak in strong, assertive, love filled ways, asking for what you want clearly.  Then do a really good job of listening to what is wanted by those you love.

As always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
When you were growing up did the people around you communicate with unhappy sounding gripes, complaints, blame and criticism, or with loving requests?  Do you talk the same, better or worse now?


Bull Wrestling, Bull Dancing and Love Quarrels

Synopsis: How to tell if you are acting more like a bull dancer, a bull wrestler or the bull when you have conflicts with loved ones, and what to do about it – with love.


When you have a dispute, quarrel, argument or fight with a loved one do you go at it more like a bull wrestler, or a bull dancer or the bull?  In ancient Rome they used to select the biggest, strongest guy they could find and put him in the arena with a bull made angry for the occasion.  The bull would charge, if the bull wrestler survived his job was to grab the bull by the horns and wrestle the bull to the ground and then break its neck.  They lost a lot of bull wrestlers that way.  On the island of Crete and later on the Iberian Peninsula they developed entirely different ways of dealing with the angry bull.  Those ways became known as bull dancing.

Today those approaches survive in what we call bull fighting, but it is not fighting at all.  It is an elegant form of dancing in which the charging bull almost always loses.  Notice how this works.  A big, powerful, scary thing tries to attack the Matador.  The Matador does not wrestle the bull, does not run away, but instead he (or she) stands his or her ground, usually doesn’t get hit, and artfully dances the big, dark, horrible, powerful, charging horned thing right by.  In the Portuguese form they do this until the bull is exhausted and gives up and, thus, the bull gets to live as well as the Matador.


So, I ask, do you go about your conflicts with loved ones more like a Roman bull wrestlers or more like an artful bull dancer, or do you behave like the charging bull?   Bull wrestlers meet their charging opponent head on, get impacted, use up their power wrestling with their opponent’s every little move, and usually get wounded if not destroyed in the process.  Remember, only spectators go home uninjured.  Those who act like the bull start roaring and charge ahead full force trying to run over, stomp and gore their opponent any way they can.  Both the bull and the bull wrestler may have a lot of recovery to do if they survive their conflict.  Also if they have any future relationship with each other it is unlikely to be a positive one.

The bull dancer lets the bull charge and expend its energy while artfully stepping aside.  In ancient Crete bull dancers evolved their art into an amusement where they gymnastically somersaulted over the charging bull, bouncing off it and expertly played with it, thereby, finessing it into harmlessness, usually ending with the bull running around in circles until it got tired.  Bull dancers and the bull consequently developed an ongoing relationship with each other in which no one was likely to get hurt and they got to have fun with each other over and over again.

You are likely to be approaching things like the bull if you see ‘red flags’ often, quickly take offense, roar (scream, yell, etc.), get yourself angrily worked up, and go on the furious attack attempting to show your loved one how they are wrong, mistaken, stupid, bad, or worse.  You are likely to be acting like the bull wrestler if you just stand there getting hit, stomped and gored as you might fight back effectively or ineffectively while becoming defensive and ending up emotionally scarred and wounded in the process.  But there are a couple of other options.  You could act like a sacrificial victim and get slaughtered, or you might attempt to run away.

You are probably acting like a finessing, artful bull dancer when you remind yourself that the anger and upsetness of the bull tells you much more about the bull and what it gets itself upset about than about you or your qualities.  You’re a good finessing bull dancer when the bull attempts to gore you with blame, stomp you with accusations, or run over you with its rapid-fire logic and you let all that just go charging past, not take it to heart or let it get you in the gut.

Good listening skills are a lot like a Matador who first uses the Cape, helping the bull get all of its negative energy out.  It’s good to remind yourself with silent, self affirming statements that while the bull is roaring at you with complaint and dissatisfaction it is sort of like the Matador standing his or her ground and doing good, mental footwork to hold on to your position and to your okayness.

You probably know that all analogies break down if you extend them too far.  Being artfully able to deal with conflict coming at you, so you can get to a place where love and reason prevails is the real goal.  Being able to get to where you and those loved ones who seem to be in conflict with you can ‘work together against the problem’ instead of against each other is the best outcome.  You may feel like destroying the bull from time to time but to do so would kill the relationship.

So, the next time a conflict with a loved one starts to happen let me suggest you consider visualizing yourself doing the artful, elegant matador’s dance whereby the horns don’t get you and the bull has a chance to calm down.  You can, with love and cleverness, learn to finesse the charging bulls in your life right past you.  Then you can demonstrate your love and perhaps both of you can get to be OK with each other.  After that, if all goes well, together you can go against whatever the real problem seems to be.  That is sort of like getting to ride the bull out of the arena.

As always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly


Love Success Question
Are you tending to deal with difficulties with a loved one better, the same, or worse than the people you grew up around?