All posts by Lee Webster

Newlyweds Pay Attention–Ten Steps to Insure Marital Satisfaction!

Newlyweds Pay Attention–Ten Steps to Insure Marital Satisfaction!

Our oldest granddaughter is getting married this summer which gave me cause to consider giving advice to her and other newlyweds from my years of providing marriage counseling.  The decision to marry is one of the most important ones that you will ever make.  Be prepared for the journey of a lifetime which can be incredibly rewarding, neutral, or devastating.   Hopefully you entered into this event with the firm decision committed to the age old vows, “…to have and to hold, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health until death do us part.”  As with all good intentions, there is also a need for preparation, coaching and action.  No couple is fully prepared for marriage, but there are things that you can do to insure a positive couple relationship and to provide a strong example for your children.wedding-626020_1280

  • GET MARRIED–You have already committed to the first step. Research shows that the very act of sharing your marriage vows is predictive of success as a couple. 1 Couples who live together without that commitment are much more likely to separate.
  • BE COMMITTED—the commitment to your marriage needs to be more than a commitment to stay in the marriage, it must be a commitment to support one another and grow in the relationship. Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, suggests that growth when he asks the question “What if God designed Marriage to make us holy, not to make us happy”. 2 It’s easy to be committed when things are going well but in times of difficulty cling to one another and see them as times of growth. Those incidents and disagreements always point to areas where you and your marriage can grow.
  • BE PREPARED—Good pre-marriage coaching is an important aspect of marriage preparation. It is an opportunity to “read the manual before exploring the repair.” This should be more than simply wedding planning and is a wonderful preventive measure.  This is an opportunity provided by many good counselors and should include written pre-marriage assessment such as Prepare/Enrich* or the more recent offering from Les and Leslie Parrott, SYMBIS.  Research also shows that marital satisfaction and success are correlated with pre-marriage coaching. 3
  • TAKE TIME-OUTS—every couple develops a script, a pattern that they follow during disagreements. When tempers rise and you feel hurt these patterns are predictable. Once started, it has a life of its own regardless of the issue or issues that triggered it.  Agree in advance that when either of you recognize you are in that script, that you will call time out.  As with any time out, take time to sort out what is happening, figure out what your partner may need at that time and what is going on in your thoughts and emotions.  Praying for direction can be helpful, “it is like going to the coach”. THEN call time in to talk about what you have discovered and LISTEN to your partner before talking.
  • COMMUNCATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUICATE—don’t ignore issues but learn to problem solve them. Start by renewing your commitment to growth in your marriage and to your partner. Then, LISTEN closely being sensitive to the needs, emotions and thoughts being expressed. The areas of finances and sexual expression are often particularly sensitive.  The temptation is to avoid difficult subjects, but that only results in the buildup of frustration or distancing which is harmful to the relationship.  On the other hand, working through issues builds intimacy.
  • COOPERATE, DON’T COMPETE— Competition in sports requires a winner and a loser. Two become one in marriage” and you can’t win a fight against yourself. Men and women are very different in many ways including the ways they think and communicate (our brains are actually quite different). In addition, we all have real personality differences.  These provide for the opportunity to succeed, or can become barriers in the relationship.  Strive to understand these differences and celebrate the contribution each of you can make as you grow together.  After all, that is what attracted you to your spouse in the first place.
  • DATE YOUR PARTNER—during the courtship the relationship is usually based on sharing and having fun together. The responsibilities that take over and pressures of married life often result in couples forgetting romance in their relationship. This is especially true with the responsibility of raising children and all the pressures put on parents.  It is easy to grow apart, so set regular date times (I suggest weekly and a regular get away together at least twice a year).
  • DEVELOP POSITIVE RITUALS—Take time to do the little things that tell your spouse you love them. Regular kisses and hugs, little notes, asking how their day went, taking time for meals together, pray together. Little things are the things that cement a relationship together and are often the things that will be cherished memories for your children.  My wife and I like to take time to read a novel to each other, a few pages on a regular basis.  And don’t forget a good long hug when leaving one another!
  • wedding-1149219_1920MAKE FAITH THE CENTER OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP—Values are supported and relationships encouraged in a good faith community. There are few institutions left in our culture today that support marriage and the Church is one of the few remaining. In addition, it provides a wonderful place to transmit your values to your children.  Don’t forget to pray regularly for your spouse and your relationship.
  • SEEK HELP—In every relationship there are times when problems don’t seem to get resolved. Recognize when you are in “over your head” and commit in advance to seek professional guidance. Too often, divorces take place after people have “stuffed their feelings” and avoided dealing with issues for weeks, months, or even years.  As with most problems “a stitch in time saves nine.”  Perhaps the person or agency who provided your pre-marriage coaching is a good place to start.

We wish you and our granddaughter a long, happy and prosperous marriage as you embark on this journey called marriage.  May your bond of love and your relationship become stronger each day.

1 Waite, Linda J., The Negative Effects of Cohabitation, George Washington University, Institute for Communitarian and Policy Studies, Volume 10, Issue 1, Winter 1999/2000,

2Thomas, Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 2000

3Saleh, Alexandra D., Premarital Counseling & Marital Satisfaction Alexandra D. Saleh, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Lee_and_Barb_637x425Lee Webster is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over 40 years of counseling experience. He is also the founder and clinical director of the Center for Human Development.  To learn more about Lee click here.

Barb Webster is a Licensed Clinical Social worker with over 30 years of counseling experience.  She enjoys working with clients of all ages, individuals, and couples. To learn more about Barb click here.

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THE GIFT OF HOLIDAY STRESS

THE GIFT OF HOLIDAY STRESS

By this time, most people are already well into the “Holiday Spirit”. Unfortunately, for many, that means being overcommitted, over taxed, over spent and often frustrated with commitments or behaviors of friends, colleagues or other family members. Somehow this season of “joy and peace”, celebrating the coming of the Savior, is anything but that for many. There are many articles written about how to avoid holiday stress, but my suggestion is to see it as a gift.

I have been a therapist for many years and have taught numerous “Stress Management” Seminars. What I have learned is that distress and symptoms are positive, a gift if you may. Seminar leader, Gary Thomas, in his book Sacred Marriage, raises the question “what if Marriage was not intended to make people happy but to make them holy”. The same principle applies to the symptoms of distress—they point to area’s in which we may need to consider change.

  • Over-spending- perhaps it is time to review spending habitsHolidy Stress
  • Alcohol consumption- consider moderation, or even quitting
  • Over commitment- time management
  • Guilt or shame- grace to self and others
  • Relationships—reconciliation, or perhaps a change in plans, or associations
  • Over-eating- a healthy diet plan
  • Lack of sleep- a plan for self-care
  • Sadness or grief- the need for expression and support

The list goes on and on, but to be certain, each symptom has a cause and points to a remedy which results in good self-care and stress management techniques. We tend to look at symptoms as being negative and increasing our distress, but they point to the need for solutions. What if I were to ignore a pain in my side that was pointing to an appendicitis?   Are stress symptoms any different? The tendency is to overlook, or deny them, which only makes them worse and increases the probability that they will continue, or intensify. Stress is characterized by a “fight, flight or freeze” response, but is intended to initiate us to action for our health.

There are some problems that have been persistent and resist individual attempts to change them.   They may have become such a pattern that they resist correction by all of your “resolutions.” Rather than give up, seek out support from a trusted friend, mentor, pastor, or counselor. As a counselor and professional therapist, I am only too much aware that people often seek out help “too little, or too late.”

This holiday season, look on your symptoms as a “gift” that point the way to healing and peace– the indicators of good New Year’s resolutions to grow and change!

Lee Webster imageLee Webster is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over 40 years of counseling experience. He is also the founder and clinical director of the Center for Human Development.  To learn more about Lee click here.

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How Porn and Sex Trafficking Affect Us In Central Wisconsin

How Porn and Sex Trafficking Affect Us In Central Wisconsin

How Porn and Sex Trafficking Affect Us In Central Wisconsin

Please join us for another Pastor of Ministry Leader’s Lunch with featured speaker Lisa Sennholz from Damascus Road Ministries. 

Lisa has been a local leader in combating the evils of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.  She has presented nationally and internationally in her outreach to help victims and create awareness of this problem which confronts all of us.

Wednesday October 21, 2015Damascus Road

11:30AM-1:00PM

Dudley Building

Scott and 1st Street

Wausau, WI

Lunch donation $10*

 

*Pre-registration is required call 715-841-0944 with questions or to register

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WAR ROOM

WAR ROOM

The movie War Room quickly jumped to the top of the charts in recent weeks. I had the opportunity to view it with my wife and another counselor. Although it was not what I expected, I found it to be an extremely positive film which accurately portrayed situations and principles consistent with good counseling practice.

In this film, the middle-class Jordan family is facing the kind of marital and family crisis that is typical of those we see daily in the counseling office. The film clearly depicts Danielle, the daughter, experiencing the devastating impact that marital issues and lack of parental attention have on children. Often couples in the midst of marital problems deny this reality.

Elizabeth Jordan, the wife and mother, is confronted by Miss Clara who perceives her marital and faith struggles. Miss Clara is a wise, delightful and engaging character that I enjoyed very much. As a result of her interventions, Elizabeth is challenged to focus on herself and her role in the marital discord. She strengthens her faith and changes her behavior with the results having a tremendous impact on the relationship. She “rocks the family boat”.

Tony Jordan experiences the natural consequences of his behaviors and “hits the bottom.” His changes result in some unexpected and positive changes.

Some reviewers have been critical of the changes that Elizabeth made claiming that she became a passive, dependent female. They miss the point entirely. What she did was find herself and her personal identity. Rather than falling into old relationship traps, she found personal and spiritual strength and became a strong leader in her family.

One trap that wishful viewers may make in viewing War Room is the belief that if you change, everything will turn out well and you will “live happily ever after”. In this case Elizabeth and Danielle have gained something wonderful no matter what the marital results. Unfortunately, the reality is that as one person in a relationship changes the partner will have to change. That change is sometimes very negative and the relationship is lost. In difficult marriage situations, we find that when one person in the relationship changes the relationship has to change. Unfortunately people usually only seek out help when they reach a crisis point and often that is too late.

This is an excellent, faith based film and I strongly recommend it keeping my cautions in mind. Healthy marriages do not come easily in today’s society. Pre-marital coaching, the early recognition of problems and joint counseling are the best possible options.

Lee Webster is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over 40 years of counseling experience. He is also the founder and clinical director of the Center for Human Development.  To learn more about Lee click here.

war rooms

*Barb and I had the opportunity to meet and have our picture taken with T. C. Stallings who portrayed Tony Jordan at the American Association of Christian Counselors International Conference recently

 

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Important Notice–Upcoming Health Care Billing

Important Notice–Upcoming Health Care Billing

Important Notice–Upcoming Health Care Billing

A major change is taking place in the health care industry on October 1, 2015.  We will be required, along with all other providers, to go to a different coding system.  This change should not affect you as long as everything goes without computer or coding issues.  We are prepared!  Our staff has spent hours in training for this transition and we are assured by insurance companies that they are equipped to handle the changes.  However, many providers are very anxious about possible complications which could take place. If our clients become aware of problems in their billings and insurance reimbursement it is important for them to contact our office to let us know.

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School is Starting

School is Starting

“School is starting!”  These words bring joy to some and strike terror into others.  I remember as a boy when my parents came to pick me up after spending some wonderful time with my grandfather at his home on a river during the month of August.  I was devastated that the time was coming to an end, and although I enjoyed school, I had no desire to go back.  Obviously, each child has his or her own reaction to the announcement; one of my grandchildren couldn’t wait and loves school; another is very apprehensive; a third sees school as a necessary evil.  In any case, the beginning of the school year brings anxiety as parents and children anticipate and experience change.

During the first days of school, there are a number of situations that confront every child.  Peers, teachers, the very classroom or school atmosphere, to say nothing of homework and educational content.  The first few days often set the stage for the year to come. Hopefully, most will hear about the excitement of having a new teacher, seeing friends, or being thrilled about a new class.  However, there are also red flags such as not being included, feeling bullied by peers or picked on by the teacher, or being exposed to class content that is overwhelming or offensive to family values.  In some instances, some learning difficulties will come to light that were not previously recognized.  For others there have been family changes that have an impact on the child at school – a move, divorce, or other loss that may make adjustment more difficult.

It is especially important to understand and be sensitive to children’s feelings and experiences during this early time of adjustment.  The old adage about “nipping it in the bud” fits here.  There are things the concerned parent can do:pencil-602440_1280

  1. It is important to be particularly sensitive to the child and their communication (both verbal and non-verbal). Celebrate the positives with them and be aware of areas of concern.
  2. If possible, listen and help your child problem solve issues that they are capable of handling. Sometimes just having a sympathetic ear is all that is needed.
  3. When the situation seems overwhelming and more than the child can handle, it is time to step in. Even though the child may not like it, often times the teacher or guidance staff at school is the place to start.
  4. Seek other advice and help when it is indicated. Parenting is difficult and it is hard to handle it alone; however, sometimes there are real medical, learning, or relationship issues that respond best to early intervention by a physician, psychologist or counselor.
  5. Ultimately, as a last resort, you may have to make hard decisions in the best interest of your child. As parents, we reluctantly changed schools for one of our children and the adjustment was immediate and positive.

As a professional therapist and supervisor, I know how important encouragement and sometimes early intervention are.  Too often, I have seen situations that could have been handled early on which develop into major problems.  It bothers me tremendously when we receive a referral in May about a problem that should have been dealt with and solved earlier. Parenting is a wonderful and daunting responsibility.  The task of raising a child from total dependence to independence brings both joys and sorrows.  Taking positive steps now will help insure more joy as you and your child journey forward.

Lee Webster imageLee Webster is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over 40 years of counseling experience. He is also the founder and clinical director of the Center for Human Development.  To learn more about Lee click here.

 

 

 

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