to meet with Benjamin Conley at his office, 1881 NE 26th Street, Suite 221, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305
Or talk to him in person by calling: (954) 727-9713
4304, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33338-4304
|Books about positive values, spirituality, and counseling
(This book can help you pursue
the intimate relationship you desire. Please use
the text to stimulate your own thinking and understanding about the issues discussed, even though you may find some of the ideas surprising.)
Success in Marriage
by Benjamin B. Conley, M.Div., LMFT
in Love: Our Unconscious Selection of a Mate
"fell in love" with your partner or with someone who was once
your partner. It may seem strange to think of "falling" as how
we get to be in love, but it does point to a sinking feeling in
the pit of our stomach. The sinking feeling is associated with
fear and with excitement, both physiologically very similar.
enzyme is produced by our bodies to create the boundless energy
and emotional investment in the person we have unconsciously chosen.
God created us so that this powerful emotional "glue" keeps us
"stuck" to our loved one, even when all is not going well.
Emotional Basis of Falling in Love
with our partner created by falling in love is deeply emotional,
and expresses the investment we make in the other person. We find
in the other person the one who will satisfy our emotional needs,
who will satisfy our emotional hunger, who will be the person
to fulfill us in a complementary way.
choose to be with others, based on a number of criteria of which
we are usually unaware at the time. We tend to choose to be with
those with whom we are familiar, "our kind of people," like those
with whom we grew up. These people often have values similar to
our own, familiar ways of relating to each other, similar responses
to life, both positive and negative. We understand the rules for
getting along with them, because they are so much like the people
we grew up with, even if we didn't like them.
same time, we gravitate toward those who treat us as well or better
than the people with whom we grew up. We want to do better than
our parents, even when we experience them to be very loving and
caring. There is usually room for improvement, and loving parents
want their children to excel by having an even more satisfying
life than they did.
Partner's Strength May Stir Our Fears
we love about our partner sometimes turn out later to be the very
qualities with which we are most frustrated.
John loved the warmth and emotional expression of his wife, Maria,
but later in the relationship he came to be fearful of her emotional
outbursts, and criticized her for being "too emotional." Maria,
on the other hand, originally admired John's strength and his
ability to solve problems under stress. Later, she thought of
those same qualities as an indication that he did not need her,
and that he was so independent that he seemed not to care about
a power struggle develops, an inevitable development, as intolerance
of the differences between partners create conflict. The conflict
occurs as one partner attempts to make the other person conform
to his or her wishes, to think, feel, or act in the desired way.
reasonable people sometimes disagree about the most desirable
way to think, feel, and act. Until each accepts (though not necessarily
approving of) the other as he or she is, the power struggle will
the reasons we insist on others being the way we want is to reassure
ourselves that we will not be hurt as we have been hurt in the
past. We learn from experience what it is like to be hurt, and
how to protect ourselves from being hurt.
from experience begins at birth, and includes what it is like
to be connected to our caretakers, our mother and father, to be
nurtured or not nurtured, to be treated well or badly. Life is
a combination of what we are offered and what we do with it. Long
before we have the ability to use words to think and speak, we
learn what it is like to be loved. In fact, it seems that we all
know intuitively what we need in order to grow into the people
we are genetically designed to be.
understanding is shaped in a number of ways, perhaps most clearly
objectified in our understanding of God. We all have some sense
of the way things are supposed to be, the way people are created
to be, the way the universe is structured.
see our ideal image in other people who are more or less like
our ideal of the way we would like to be. A clear example of an
ideal is the biblical image of Jesus Christ, who was affirmed
by the early Christian church as fully human and fully divine.
Theological insistence on the humanity of Jesus provides an understanding
of the direction in which all humans can grow.
don't get everything we need to grow most fully into the persons
we are designed to be, so we learn to live with less than ideal
caretaking in a less than ideal world, beginning with the world
of our childhood. We use methods of surviving and "getting along"
as best we can figure them out, in order to maximize the loving
warmth that is available from our caretakers and to minimize the
punishment, criticism, and withdrawal of love we may also experience.
inevitably socialized into the limited world in which we grow
up, a world composed of concentric circles, beginning with our
nuclear family. Unfortunately, we may be socialized to some degree
to not be ourselves, to "bend ourselves out of shape" in order
to be accepted and loved, rather than punished and rejected. We
may develop a kind of "false self" that is applauded and loved
by those around us.
lose track of positive qualities in ourselves, like our spontaneity,
strong feelings, sexuality, or taking initiative, especially when
we are punished for having them by those who are close to us.
We may cut off those qualities and feelings in order to be loved,
developing a kind of "lost self" that we long to reclaim.
the ones who are closest to us seem to require that we not be
our honest selves. Then, in order to be accepted and not rejected,
we struggle to get that person to be the nurturing person we need
by conforming to his or her demands. At the very least, we might
learn to act in ways meant to avoid the others' disapproval.
about relationships all our lives from our experiences, resulting
in our decisions about: 1) how to be emotionally close and 2)
how emotionally close to be. As adults, we can use all our adult
experience, including our religious experience, as a means to
create new, positive decisions to improve on our previous ways
of thinking of ourselves and others and then acting on that new
learn how to be authentically ourselves, and reclaim our "lost
selves," those positive qualities we renounced as children, even
though to do so may seem awkward, not natural, and even wrong.
We can re-learn how to be self-affirming in ways that we gave
up as children, and give ourselves permission to pursue positive
goals that we renounced in the past.
we all learn and grow in relationships, our contact with other
individuals and small groups can be a very nurturing source of
strength. A mentor, friends, and a religious community can help
to maintain our own process of growing emotionally and spiritually.
efforts fail to maintain the loving spirit that both persons in
a relationship want, psychotherapy can be a useful means to learn
how to create the warmth and intimacy that we all desire in a
loving relationship. We can learn how to correct the honest mistakes
made throughout our lives, learn how to change our beliefs, and
learn how to do things differently. We can find ways to heal our
wounds from the past. We can reclaim the positive qualities in
ourselves that we may have put aside (without intending to or
even being aware of doing so). To reclaim our positive qualities
dissolves our alienation from ourselves, from others, and from
God, who, after all, created us to be fully human.
the power struggle in a relationship reaches an impasse, and the
same disagreement occurs over and over again in different contexts.
For example, a husband may experience his wife as telling him
over and over again what to do, as giving him directives. He is
then offended and angry. Or a wife may experience her husband
as ignoring her over an over again and not being interested in
what is important to her. She is then hurt and angry. A couple
who have been together for some time will be able to trace a common
theme in their arguments and conflicts, analogous to those described
such an impasse, a couple may find marriage counseling helpful,
not as an admission of failure, but as a means to move beyond
the impasse. Imago Relationship Therapy is one form of counseling
that has been of great help for some couples. Using this methodology,
the couple learns concrete methods to create the safety and nurture
in the relationship. Creation of safety (the absence of danger
of being hurt in ways sometimes similar to the injuries of childhood)
and a sense of nurture in the relationship is essential to moving
beyond the impasse and (re)establishing the warmth and closeness
desired by both. Counseling can be understood as a kind of seminar
in learning some fundamental concepts and methods to create a
more loving relationship.