When Love is a Noun

When Love is a NounFor most people, love means loving or engaging in acts of love that are reciprocated. Because we have empathy, love becomes a dynamic process that deepens over time. The love relationship is more complex than most people realize. We receive little useful education about how to make love work or how to make love last, or just how to make love. Most of our learning comes from television and movies or pornography – sources that are two-dimensional at best. In time, we stop learning and settle into a routine of love, sex and intimacy that can grow dull and tedious, or stressful, or even non-existent.

Sex is not the most important part of a loving partnership. There are many other qualities that need to be developed and nurtured over time to make a relationship special and intimate. However, sex is a critical element. Healthy, loving sex makes special the relationship with your soul mate. Sexual intimacy makes this friendship different than any other. It’s a bond of love like no other.

To keep love alive in your relationship, ask yourself the following questions about your sexual connection with your partner…

  • Is there joy and excitement in your relationship?
  • Are you more in love today than when you first met?
  • Do you view sex as a time to bond and to learn more about your partner?
  • During intimate moments do you feel as though you are sharing your true inner self?

If you can’t answer yes to these questions, then it’s time to take action and restore your love life. I can help you make a successful plan of action. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

However, I must add a postscript for those of you who have a partner with Aspergers. What you know about love and what you expect from love will be severely challenged, because, for your Aspie, love is a noun, not a process. Love is a thing they keep hidden in their hearts, and you’re just supposed to know it. They have difficulty knowing how and when to express love.

People with Aspergers can have successful relationships, when they learn the Rules of Engagement – meaning they learn how to say things in a way their NT partners can understand as loving.

However, we NTs sense that this type of love is a thing they feel, not a love they share. The reason this is important to us NTs, is that we sorely miss the loving process. We feel alone, disconnected and unloved, even when our Aspies do feel love inside, but don’t share it. If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please sign up for the low-cost video conference, “When Love is a Noun.” We will be meeting at the following times for your convenience…

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 at 7:30 PM PT
Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 3:00 PM PT
Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 10:00 AM PT

This Video Conference is an opportunity to better understand how lack of empathy affects love and what to do about this major loss. I hope you can join us.

Can a Person Be Kind without Empathy?

Can a Person Be Kind without EmpathyYou’ve no doubt heard the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. From an early age, parents try to teach their children to be kind. As we grow into adulthood, we can either enhance this trait through practice, or we can lose it due to outside influences or our own selfish tendencies.Kindness and empathy usually go hand in hand, as they both help you to relate to others. Kindness can improve personal relationships and make you healthier. There are other benefits, as well…

Kindness releases feel-good brain chemicals. You feel better when you do something nice because it releases neurotransmitters such as serotonin and endorphins, plus the hormone oxytocin. All of these flood your nervous system with a sense of well-being and satisfaction.

Kindness eases anxiety and stress. Performing kind acts gets your mind off of yourself, as you focus on helping others. It also gives you something positive to do. The satisfaction from helping others bolsters your own sense of well-being.

Kindness improves health. Interestingly, a study of adults aged 57-85, “Productive activities—and frequent volunteering in particular—may protect individuals from inflammation that is associated with increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.”

Yet when we dig deeper into the motivation behind acts of kindness, we begin to see how acts of kindness can be performed without empathy. We’ve all read about those who contribute money, just for the notoriety; not because they care about the people that money will help.

For another example, those with Asperger Syndrome (high functioning Autism) need to be taught etiquette and rules, or what I call Rules of Engagement (ROE). (Find an example in this blog post.) Whereas, NTs develop a kind heart as a result of deeply caring for the feelings of others.

Looking at this another way, the Golden Rule is just a rule to our Aspies. It might be a rule they believe in – and will hold us to that rule for their benefit. However, to NTs the Golden Rule is a necessary part of any relationship, because it moves the relationship forward.

Further the Golden Rule is flexible, isn’t? We don’t always treat others as we wish they would treat us. Rather we, NTs, make discriminations about what we might say or do, based on whether it’s true, necessary, and kind. These decisions require the use of enhanced empathy, to read the subtle cues that occur at the moment of interaction. It’s not always kind to just blurt things out, is it? Even if you mean well, some comments are better left unsaid. For Aspies this axiom is a mystery.

I think empathy is one of the main reasons we run into snags with our Aspies. That’s why my free January Teleconference is called: Can Aspies Be Kind Without Empathy? It will be held on Thursday, January 24th at 2:30 PM PT. Once you get it that they can be kind, given the right Rules of Engagement, then it’s much easier to navigate your relationship. It’s important to understand that you can have empathy, or you can be kind, but empathic kindness…well, that’s part of Radiant Empathy.

Wellness Weekends Provide Recreation with a Purpose

Wellness Weekends Provide Recreation with a PurposeAs people start their New Year, they’re so excited about their new projects. However, it doesn’t take long before their pace starts to slow. They try to keep pushing through, thinking they can’t afford to take time off. Some people even hate to take time off, because it ultimately increases their workload. Can you relate to that?To keep your expectations more realistic and sustainable, I suggest you schedule in regular Wellness Weekends that refresh yourself, allow you to check in with your progress, and give you the energy to keep going. Here are some suggestions for what you can do:

Take power picnics. Pack brain-health foods, walk to someplace quiet and journal about what you’ve accomplished, what you hope to accomplish and how you’re going to do it. Physical activity in the great outdoors, healthful fuel for your brain, and serene reflection all spark creativity. This really recharges your batteries.

Do it! What part of your self-care have you been putting off? The act of putting something off creates stress in your brain, because it’s always there in the background. Now’s the time to act! Reading a good book, picking up a paint brush, or getting your skis out of the closet may just be the ticket to your weekend adventure.

Disconnect from all electronic devices. Turn off the noise so you can think without distractions.

Cooking with your family. This can be a happy, healthy bonding time. If you’ve never prepared a meal with your family before, be patient and don’t get too uptight. Put on some tunes, find a good recipe, and give it a try!

Create a bedroom spa experience. Pretend you’re at an expensive salon, turn off the phones, light some candles, set out your finest robe, take a relaxing bath, and go to bed early for a quality night’s sleep. If you have a partner, offer to give a massage one night in return for a massage the next.

Ignite your joy. Increase dopamine naturally by engaging in meaningful and beneficial activities. Play with your loved ones. Volunteer to help an elderly neighbor.

Challenge yourself physically. If you want to keep your brain healthy, exercise! Don’t compare yourself to anyone else but yourself. Look for ways to incrementally increase the intensity and duration of your exercise. If you walk ½ mile today, walk ¾ mile tomorrow. If you walk on level ground, find a hill. Walk for 15 extra minutes. Just keep finding ways to challenge yourself to do more. Try something new, like rowing a boat or taking a dance class.

Take a walk down Memory Lane. If it’s been a while since you worked on a scrapbook or photo album, the weekend is a perfect time to preserve and reconnect with your life.

Why not make a pact with yourself and with me right now to schedule at least four Wellness Weekends this year. Come over to my Facebook Page and tell me when you’re going to take them and what you’re going to do.

Choose Crisis Management or Living Purposefully

happy entrepreneurial couples living purposefullyMost of the time, people are so busy with work and life they tend to make adjustments in life only when there is a major crisis. They quit smoking and lose weight when they’ve had a heart attack. They curtail spending habits, when the house goes to foreclosure. They consider their marriage, when a spouse leaves. Yet, change is inevitably happening every day, and when entrepreneurial couples harness the energy in change, you can create meaning or purpose out of it. It puts you in charge rather than in a reactive position of always fixing problems. In simple terms, you don’t have to be sick to get better.

Change leads to either growth or deterioration. It seems wise, then, to accept that you’re a changing individual in a changing world, and it’s important to make time to work as a couple toward meaningful and purposeful growth. Of course, crises will continue to happen, since we can’t accurately predict everything. Yet crises do not have to be the norm, if you learn to pay attention to the signals that a change is coming. (Actually, these are really signs that reorganization has already started to take place.)

Some of those signals are subtle, such as feeling bored or confused. Another subtle signal is sticking with a habit that doesn’t now produce the desired results, although at one time it may have been useful. Turning points in life signal change. You can learn to use these developmental milestones to reset your course.

Your goal should be to access purposeful growth instead of just changing for the sake of change. Changing jobs or starting a new business because you’re bored will not guarantee success. When the newness wears off, you may find yourself once again in the same predicament, unsatisfied with your life. Being alert to these subtle warning signs of change helps you proactively recognize opportunities that will benefit you, your spouse, and the business.

Often we miss the wide scope of possibilities. Therefore seeking advice helps you discover a wider range of opportunities. By focusing on changing yourself first, you expand your consciousness through life-enhancing activities and continual education, which leads to self-awareness. You can then take positive steps toward your commitment to getting and staying physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy. You become more skilled at resolving immediate problems, correcting past mistakes, and moving ahead with the new opportunities. This approach also enables you to encourage the development of your spouse, partner, employees, and children, which benefits you, too.

Changing from a problem-solving mode into self-awareness and growth may be difficult, especially for busy entrepreneurial couples. I’m here to help. Please feel free to contact my Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington office to schedule a consultation. If you live elsewhere, take a look at remote education for entrepreneurial couples that allows us to connect via video or telephone conference. The possibilities for your life, your partner’s life, and your business are unlimited.

Learn more in my book: Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and Home. Grab your Kindle edition here.

Entrepreneurial Couples – Focus on This to Live Longer Happier Lives

To live a long time and to live it happily may sound like an impossible dream. But I’m confident that you have the resources within you to make it happen.In times past, business moguls sacrificed everything to make it big – their health, their marriages, their family life, and often, their dreams and values. Personal happiness wasn’t even on their radar. They seldom lived long or happily.

Fortunately, entrepreneurs today are learning that you don’t have to be the hard drinking, chain-smoking, chronically stressed executive to be a success. They have discovered the wisdom of common sense self-care practices that are simple, but very powerful!

Since you’ve heard all of this before, I invite you to think deeply about whether your current choices are helping you reach your goal of a long and happy life. If not, pick one of the following suggestions to work on.

1. Don’t smoke. Some people say, if they don’t smoke, they’ll eat and gain weight. Other people claim it’s the only way they cope with stress. You can make excuses or you can find more healthful ways of staying trim and handling stress. It’s your choice.

2. Avoid excesses – alcohol, fat, salt, stress, etc. When you take the time and effort to become more mindful about your choices, you’ll feel better, plus you’ll have the added bonus of feeling empowered, as you take back your life!

3. Maintain a lean body mass index. A person can be in the correct weight range and still be unhealthy, because they haven’t kept their muscles toned. Muscle does weigh more than fat, so focus on feeling toned, rather than checking the scales.

4. Don’t stop learning about yourself. Pursuing more education leads to better habits and healthier lives, if you focus on self-care and resilience skills.

5. Focus on the positive. If you feel your childhood messed you up, switch your focus to what went right. This shift in perspective makes a huge difference in your quality of life. And don’t lose your sense of humor.

6. Build a loving, support network. A loving spouse and trusted friends can heal old wounds. Invite happy people into your life. Remove toxic relationships. You’ll become happier when you focus on helping others.

7. Develop Radiant Empathy. Some people call it being socially adept. Others label it as emotional intelligence. I like to describe it as Radiant Empathy. That’s when you can give to others joyously, receiving from others gratefully, and are strong enough to true to yourself.

Which one of these would you like to work on this year? If you’d like my assistance and live in Oregon or Washington, please take advantage of my online therapy. It’s an easy way to learn new strategies and keep yourself motivated.

Surviving Unremitting Grief | Kathy Marshack

Surviving Unremitting Grief When Keeping a Tough Relationship TogetherGrief has so many layers to it. For example, death, divorce, and trauma create their own special types of grief. And while there is a common process we go through, we do it at different times and stages, with differing degrees of intensity.Some people say there are five stages of grief, while others list up to nine stages of grief. Basically they encompass these stages:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

If all of these stages are not fully processed and extinguished, then grief can lead to other problems. While the above mentioned circumstances are tragic and not to be minimized, there are definite ends that help you start the healing process. You can find closure, as the saying goes.

However, for some people there is no end. They’re in relationships where they choose not to seek a divorce or separation. If you’re in a committed, yet very tough relationship that produces ongoing or unremitting grief, then it becomes a real challenge to preserve your identity and sanity.

There are so many unique levels to grief when you live with loved ones on the Autism Spectrum Disorder Spectrum. Even if they’re high-functioning autistics, their brains won’t let them make the connections that create empathic feelings and behaviors. So when you continue to live with your Asperger partner, you keep triggering the loss. You feel it over and over again. This has been defined as “Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Disorder“.

  • There is the grief over the lost dream of a relationship with an empathic partner.
  • There is the grief from chronic verbal abuse.
  • There is the grief of raising your children in the chaos of the relationship.
  • There is the grief of never being able to have a voice in your life.
  • There is even the grief over never being able to help your Aspie know that there is more, so much more to love and relating.

If this describes your situation, I urge you to find a support group. There are relationship survival skills that can help you cope and even thrive in these adverse conditions. Many of my books share real life vignettes of people coming to grips with this issue.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please sign up for the low-cost video conference, “Surviving Unremitting Grief” on Thursday, January 17th at 4:00 PM PT and again on Wednesday, January 30th at 10:00 AM PT. Know that you’re not alone; that unremitting grief is a normal outcome of these very tough relationships.