Posts Tagged: abusive relationship

This is Risky Business: How to Improve Intimacy Part II

Do you ever find yourself feeling alone even when you’re surrounded by people? Do you feel like you’re doing life by yourself, even though you’re married? Even couples who have been together a long time, might still complain that they just don’t feel that close. The missing ingredient is INTIMACY. If you are single or married, understanding what INTIMACY is and why everyone needs it, will help you with all of your relationships.

Even though Sexual Intimacy gets a lot of air time, there are actually several different types of intimacy that contribute to relationship happiness. Today, in Part 2, we will talk about the different types of intimacy and what you can do TODAY to improve your intimacy with yourself, with God and the important people in your life.

Intimacy is Risky Business

Many people are initially afraid of getting close to people because of fear of judgment or rejection. People use various tactics to keep people at a distance, like being “too busy” or being “too different” but these are excuses to avoid the scary risk of getting close. Here are some different types of intimacy with their inherent level of risk.


Types of Intimacy

Intellectual Intimacy is feeling bonded over intellectual ideas, work or creativity. It occurs when people work closely together on a project researching ideas, solutions and presentations. You may share intellectual intimacy with your partner, co-workers, co-creators, research team, or political party group. LOW RISK

Recreation Intimacy is experienced by those who engage in physical and mutually enjoyed activities. People who hike, knit, ski, or play tennis together connect with one another through interests and physical activities. LOW RISK

Spiritual Intimacy is best explained by the sharing of same or similar faith or belief system. In Christianity, scripture describes spiritual intimacy a binding together of all believers through the Holy Spirit’s truth, power, and unifying force of love. Activities like prayer, bible reading, meditation, acts of service enhance the shared belief system and bring an assurance of mutual acceptance. MEDIUM RISK

Sexual Intimacy is fully experienced between married couples in the presence of safety, trust, love and commitment. It involves the physical act and responses of sexual partners leading to feelings of love, warmth, closeness and attachment. HIGH RISK

Emotional Intimacy is the bonding through shared feelings. You may feel emotionally connected to any person that shares fears, hopes, weaknesses or jubilation. Emotional Intimacy is also experienced when you feel heard, validated or comforted through pain. HIGH RISK

 You and Intimacy

You may find that you share different types of intimacy with different types of people. You may connect closely with a person at work over intellectual concepts, but share no recreation intimacy at all. Close friends overlap on many intimacy levels. Couples who report being happy and loving will usually share all the Intimacy Types at some capacity. They find each other intellectually stimulating, spiritually aligned, with compatible interests and activities and sexually attracted and active.

In my work with couples, I’ve found that Emotional Intimacy is the hardest to achieve in marriages because each partner is often responsible for causing emotional pain to the other. If emotional intimacy is off, then sexual intimacy is often negatively affected as well. For the last 4 years, I’ve been working on a book that peels away the obstacles couples face that inhibit healthy emotional intimacy.

Recently, I’ve blogged a lot about the physical and psychological abuse that is present within couples relationship, and how to get help to stop this destructive pattern. I call these the USER and ABSUER relationships. Couples in destructive relationships often have a high level of emotional reactions and intensity, but lack true emotional intimacy.


For the next few weeks, I will be focusing more on what I call LOSER relationships. No, I’m not talking about the “couch potato” husband or the “Soap Opera and bon bons” wife. I’m talking about the couples that LOSE OUT on true intimacy with one another. The three big obstacles to Emotional Intimacy are Fear Issues, Control Issues, and Trust Issues. We will walk through all three of this in the coming weeks in order to help you improve your intimacy in your relationships. Check out this resource if you want to go more in depth. This book will take you step by step into getting the love you want, and avoiding the rest.

Click here for more information on how to have healthy relationships.



He is Awful to Me, But I Still Stay: What to do if This is You

Do you recognize that your guy is not being good to you, but you just don’t feel you can leave?  Many women feel this way. They feel trapped between two bad options, 1)leave him and possibly make things worse, or 2) Stay and live in misery. Is this you? Maybe you’ve tried marriage counseling and waited patiently for things to change. Maybe you recognized that you were part of the problem (which is always the case) so you worked on breaking your own co-dependent patterns, but you don’t see him working on his stuff. Maybe he’s made promises he isn’t keeping, or the same old abusive or addictive behavior keeps coming back.


But you decide to stay anyway.


What your friends and family say…

Your friends ask you, Why are you still with him? You don’t deserve the way he treats you!

And you nod and say things like, “I know, I know, but…”

Your mom shakes her head and says, “Sweetie, you shouldn’t put up with this.”

And you nod and say, “I know, I know, but…”

You DO know that he should treat you better, but you DON’T know if you deserve better. Your self esteem has taken a hit over all these years.

So you stay. And stay and stay.

For all the women who are staying, I hear you. Once you get home from coffee with your friend, and hang up the phone with your mom, you start silently answering her questions. They probably go something like this:

Why You Stay

  • The kids. You tell yourself that you can put up with anything to keep an “intact home.” You don’t want your kids to go through a divorce. You know that his punishing silence, his verbal abuse, and his coldness will have a negative affect on them, but you just can’t see how divorce would be any better.
  • I’m not ready. Oh My Laundry, if I knew the secret to readiness, I would sell it on e-Bay. But I don’t’. Every woman must decide when she is ready for something different, something better, something true and pure and holy and good. I know that I have repeated the same old broken cycle over and over again in my own life. All people do this. I will keep on doing this until one day I say to myself, “I’ve had enough. No matter what it costs me, I’m not repeating this again.” Like the prodigal son having a come-to-Jesus-moment, the switch is flipped and I’m ready for change. I’m not sure how many cycles you will have to repeat before your come-to-Jesus-moment, but I know for certain, when you are ready, it will happen.
  • Things will get worse. You say to yourself, “If I start saying no, enough is enough, and stop- he’ll make things worse for me.” You’ve always known this.  That’s why you quieted your voice and needs long ago. Intuitively, you have known that if you started speaking up for yourself, following through on your boundaries, and acting as if you really mattered, he was going to pull an even bigger stunt that would trump your boundaries and fulfill your greatest fear of abandonment.
  • I can’t make it on my own. You say to yourself that you’ve become so dependent on him financially and emotionally, that you just can’t see how you could make it on your own. You think to yourself that independence would be impossible to sustain.
  • I Still See Hope: There are times that the dream of him changing blinds reality. Even though evidence shows otherwise, you want to believe that there is still hope that he will change. That he will really love you the way you need.

 amy's coffee

I am not writing this to talk you out of staying in a destructive relationship. Those kind of lectures just make a person feel guilty and week. GUILTY and WEAK, you are not! Through my work with women in destructive relationships, they must go through many cycles of deciding to stay-leave-stay-try-stay-pray- before they feel spiritually and physically released from their destructive relationship. I’m writing this to give you some coping strategies while you stay.

  • Pray. Everyday. No, don’t pray for your marriage. You’ve done that already. That’s a tired old record with a scratch. Pray everyday to have the mind of Christ. To be aligned with God’s word. To see God’s path and make bold steps to follow it. To be strengthened in hope, in faith, in love. Pray to cast out the worry, fear, self doubt and depression. Pray for spiritual and psychological protection. You ain’t got time for depression and abuse anymore.
  • Get Active. Feeling physically strong goes a long way to help feel emotionally strong too. Any act of kindness or effort toward yourself makes a difference, no matter how big or small. Walk, bike, swim, lift weights, join a class.
  • Read books on Co-dependency, Love addiction, and destructive marriages. Recognizing some of your own patterns and reactivity will help you make better choices in the heat of the moment. You know you can’t change him, but you can become the smartest, strongest, and best version of yourself possible.
  • Pray. Oh yeah, did I mention that already? Well, this time, ask your friends to pray for you too. There are spiritual things, behind the curtain of this material world that will not change unless your peeps pray for you. Call your praying friends to start praying specifically for the things you need. Asking friends for support is essential.
  • Invest in Your Own Thing. While you stay, make sure you are giving priority to your life, career, kids, and/or future. Get that extra education you need, go for that promotion, retrain and retool. Do something that broadens your world and your impact in it. Investing in yourself and your future gives you necessary power to re-infuse that syphoned-off self esteem.

Many women who decide to stay in destructive relationships feel impossibly trapped- like no decision they make is the right one. Well, I want to encourage you, that if you’ve decided to stay, for now, that there are still things you can do to help yourself. Any effort you put into helping yourself, even if it feels small, will go a long way.

Abusive, narcissistic, destructive relationships are terribly difficult to survive, and impossible to sustain while maintaining your own mental health. However, until you decide enough is enough, use these tips to help yourself day to day.


How to Help A Friend In a Toxic Relationship

Do you love your friend, but can’t stand the guy she is with? Is he emotionally, verbally or physically abusive to her but acts like it’s no big deal? Maybe he drinks too much, is too controlling, or has a reputation for being a bad boy. Whatever it is, you are afraid she is getting into a relationship that she won’t be able to get out of, and it scares you. Here are 10 ways for you to help your friend who’s in a toxic relationship.


1.Trust Your Instinct. You may not know if he is abusive or not, but something about him makes you uneasy. Instead of brushing that feeling off, pay attention to it. If you don’t trust him, there is probably something about him that doesn’t add up. Your instinct is a powerful tool in helping you discern safe from un-safe people.

2. Ask Hard Questions. If you have reservations about your friend’s new guy, be willing to ask her questions and share your reservations. It may feel awkward or even a little confrontational. Be careful to show your care and concern and re-iterate how important she is to you. There is no need to lecture her about her answers to these questions. Just be willing to ask things like, “Do you know where the money is going?” or “Has he hurt you before?” or “Are you scared that he might hurt you?” or “Does he threaten you?” She may be reluctant to tell you unless she is pointedly asked.


3. Remain Non-judgmental. Chances are, she sees things in him that you don’t, and she loves him. She also believes that he loves her, no matter what other people may say. Reserve judgment and try to empathize with her feelings. If she sees the good in him, pointing out the bad may only push her farther away from you and into his arms. Be careful to stay empathetic and open to your friend. Women in toxic or abusive relationships often feel trapped, powerless and unable to leave. It is possible to remain supportive of her without supporting his abusive behavior.

4. Plan a Mini- Intervention. An intervention should be carefully considered in regard to making sure your friend feels safe, supported and cared for. Invite a couple of her closest friends or family members together to share your concerns with her. It’s important that she not feel coerced, pressured or guilted into leaving the abusive relationship. Be careful not to run through a list of the things you don’t like about her guy. Instead, share how you’ve noticed her changing, how you miss seeing her as often, and that you are there for her when she needs you. Tell her, “You don’t seem as happy as you used to,” or “You don’t do the things that used to make you happy. Is everything ok?” An intervention may not result in a “Rescue Operation,” but it can be a first step to help her feel the support she needs if/when she decides to leave.

5. Believe Her. If, and when she opens up to you about emotional, physical or financial abuse, it’s important for her to feel like you believe her, and that what she is saying is important. Abuse comes in many forms: obsessive control, psychological manipulation, religious intimidation, jealous rage, and invasive badgering. If your friend says there is “something wrong” but can’t put her finger on it, believe her without supporting details. She more than likely has tried to minimize or excuse the abuse for awhile, and admitting it is extremely difficult. Validating her fear and pain is important, as is helping her think through next steps.

6. Ask her how she wants you to help. It’s ok if you don’t know what to do, what to say or how to help. Ask her how you can support her. No one has all the right answers at all the right times, and she probably doesn’t want answers as much as a friend to listen, share her burden, and be a safe person to turn to. If she does want help to get safe, see #8.

7. Be patient. Often, women in abusive relationships contemplate leaving for years but fear the consequences of that decision. She may be afraid of losing her children, or that he will take revenge. She may still be hopeful that he will change. You may be tempted to become frustrated with her indecision, but this indecision is an important part of her process to finally break free. Instead of pressuring her to leave, tell her you support her decision to leave but you understand how hard that decision is to make. The leaving/going back process may take years. Let her know you’re there for her no matter what she decides.


8. Be practical. If she is trying to escape her relationship, be as practical as you can. Some suggestions are: buy her a phone with a private number to use in emergencies, give her a safe place to stay, drive her to a safe house, watch her kids while she gets help, ask if you can call the police to escort her to get her things, or help her make connections with local Domestic Violence Agencies. and 1-800-799-7233 are domestic violence helplines that can help with next steps. The dedicated people here are a wealth of information and are willing to help.

9. Remind her of her value and worth. Often, women in toxic relationships can lose their confidence and sense of self-worth. They may live in a state of anxiety or depression and feel unable to take important steps toward health and healing. Help them to remember that they are important to you and to the people who love them.

10. Pray. Sometimes prayer is the best and only way to help. Toxic, abusive relationships have a great deal of power over women and their families. Without breaching her confidentiality, rally friends and family together to pray that 1) this toxic power loses its grip, 2) that the threat of emotional and physical violence is replaced by safety and support, and 3) that Light would replace darkness. Pray that your friend is able to feel her own value and receive care from those who truly love her. Once she breaks free from the abuse, she will need extra prayer support to stay strong, stay safe and stay the course.

Your friend is lucky and blessed to have you. You may be afraid that you’ve said or done the wrong thing in the past. Maybe you’ve even kept your distance for awhile. Maybe you’ve been hurt because she pulled away from you. These things commonly happen. These feelings don’t have to stop your love for her. And Love always wins.

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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