How to Successfully Overcome Relationship Adversity?

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Dear Dr. Buckingham,

I am having been dating my fiancée for a few years now and we recently started planning our wedding. She is a good woman and I want to start our marriage out on the right foot. I have read several of your articles on BMWK. You talk a lot about respect, good communication and trust. I agree that all these things are needed to have a great relationship, but are there other things that are needed?

We are planning on contacting you for pre-marital coaching in the near future, but I wanted to ask a question first. I want to know which skills should we work on developing so that we can have a successful marriage. All marriages have challenges and we do not want to contribute to the 50% divorce rate. Struggle and adversity happens in relationships and people are walking away from their marriages to easy. What Skills Are Needed to Successfully Overcome Relationship Adversity?

Talk to you soon and thanks,

Mr. Get it Right

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Dear Mr. Get It Right,

I commend you for seeking pre-marital coaching, especially with me. Your proactive behavior is noteworthy and makes me feel excited about the work that I do. Also, thanks for reading my articles on BMWK. The owners Lamar and Ronnie Tyler are providing a great platform for singles and couples to get great information. Now that the infomercial is over, I will answer you question.

Two of the most important interpersonal skills that are needed to successfully connect with your spouse and overcome relationship adversity are Empathy and Resilience. Let me define both and explain why they are needed.

Skill #1: Empathy

Empathy is an indispensable life skill that requires a certain level of intellectual and emotional aptitude in order to recognize and understand the thoughts, emotions and perspectives that others might experience.

Simply stated, Empathy is not just about “walking in others’ shoes”. Empathy is the ability to connect with others in a manner in which they feel understood and emotionally safe.

Lack of empathy is one thing that makes individuals miserable in their relationships. If you cannot empathize with others then you are unlikely to care about them. Some people are good at objectifying other people, treating them like ‘things’ and even abusing them without any feeling of remorse. If you desire to develop and sustain a healthy relationship, you must learn to be empathetic.

Empathy enables you to connect with your spouse, restore trust and heal when faced with relationship adversity.

Skill #2: Resilience

Resilience is defined differently for many individuals because it takes on many forms and has various components, but most researchers agree that resilience is associated with an individual’s ability to bounce back after facing adversity or hardship. To add to this basic understanding, I personally define resilience as the ability to bounce back wiser, better, and stronger after facing adversity. Resilient individuals recover quicker and cope with pressure or stressors in an effective manner.

Being resilient will enable you to move forward and prosper in a health manner after experiencing adversity. Resilient couples find solutions in problems. In contrast, troubled couples find problems in every solution.

During our pre-marital coaching sessions, I will help you and your fiancée become more empathetic and build resilience, which involves broadening your emotional intelligence. By broadening your emotional intelligence both you and your fiancée will be able to successfully navigate through life and love with a sense of belonging and optimism. Unfortunately, experiencing relationship adversity is unavoidable, but coping with it in an empathetic and resilient manner is doable. I look forward to working with you and your fiancée.

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please click here and receive a response within 72 hours.

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

Should I Rely on my Mind or Heart in My Relationship?

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Good day Dr. Buckingham,

Thank you so much for this writing these wonderful and helpful articles. I would like to get some advice if possible. I was in a marriage to an emotional abuser and a cheater, which ended in divorce after giving it several chances.

I am now dating someone whom I just gave a second chance after I found out he’s been calling his baby mama almost everyday and every chance he gets. He apologizes and promises that it will never happen again. Nevertheless, it happens over and over. The last time he had pictures of different women in his phone and his phone bill showed he is calling certain women everyday more than 3 times a day. To make matters worse, he doesn’t explain himself and as a result I have lost all the trust and respect for him. I do not feel any chemistry with him.

He’s got all the signs of my ex husband had. My questions are:

  1. Will he ever change like he promised or am I wasting my time?
  2. Am I the issue here because I have trust issues?
  3. Is it worth it to stay or should I move on?

My judgment of character is tinted and I am afraid of being abused again. If you cannot answer all of my questions, please answer this one: Should I Rely on my Mind or Heart in My Relationship?

Thank you,

Basani

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Dear Basani,

I strongly encourage you to trust your heart and God-given instincts. Yes, your logical judgment might be slightly tinted due to previous abuse, but the heart does not lie. How we feel, whether right or wrong dictates our behavior. If our heart is in pain, we are likely to exhibit painful behavior. The heart is the seat of our emotions and our will. It is also the center of our whole-person.

True happiness resides in the heart, not mind. Although our minds influence how we feel, the heart is where our true happiness dwells. Given this, you should not convince yourself through logic to do what your heart cannot handle emotionally.

Unfortunately, you know what pain feels and looks like. Through personal experience, you have learned about signs of abuse. A man, who does not express or feels remorse for causing pain, is a man who will likely continue to inflict pain on others. Unlike your marriage, you are not legally or spiritually interconnected with your boyfriend. I cannot tell you whether or not he will ever change, but I can tell you that he will not change unless he feels a need to do so. Unfortunately, people like him need a little motivation such as “I am Leaving because Abuse is Not an Option”.

Quickly remove yourself from the relationship and do not question your heart in these matters. Always guard your heart and remember that your heart reflects your character. Some people believe that it is better to be a fool in love than to be single. I disagree. You can find and experience love without being a fool.

I recommend that you seek professional counseling and also talk to God about your future relationships. If you seek God’s desires for your relationship, you will be better equipped to guard your heart from foolishness. Take time to nurture your heart so that you can learn how to lay a healthy foundation before try to build a house of love.

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please click here and receive a response within 72 hours.

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

I Married a Serial Cheater: Is Walking Away the Right Thing to Do?

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Dear Dr. Buckingham,

I read a posted letter to you from Young and In Love and I saw myself in this. The only difference is, I am 54 years old and have been married to my husband for 28 years now.  We have four kids, all past the age of 18.

I have been sacrificing for so long living with this cheating husband of mine for my children’s sake and I have always blamed him for making my kids and me suffer. He doesn’t care how I may feel regarding his infidelity because he does it again and again. I feel he knows I get hurt but he does it anyway. Read more

Ask Dr. Buckingham – Marriage Blues: Do You Have Any Advice for a Desperate Wife?

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Dear Dr. Buckingham,

Hello my name is Dominique and I have been married for 14 years. We have two children ages 16 and 10. I’ve had an emotional relationship with another man for 5 years. My husband is a gamer and our values are different. He spends a lot of his time gaming and he doesn’t value a tidy home like I do amongst many other differences.  Because of those issues we have been fighting for years. The other man was there to listen to me and spend time with me.  The majority of time spent with him was over the phone and there where years when we didn’t speak but the bottom line is he was around. My husband found out about it and he hasn’t been able to forgive me. Read more

Ask Dr. Buckingham – Should I Stay with my Confused and Cheating Partner?

Young woman fed up with the nonsense coming out of her boyfriend's mouth as he's trying to explain "what happened"

Dear Dr. Buckingham,

I’ve been with my significant other for 8 years. He asked me to marry him 2 years ago. Shortly after he began to cheat. We broke up and he moved out. He continued to see the person he cheated on me with, but within a week he said he wanted to get back together. I agreed, even though he got the other person pregnant. When he came back he claimed he was confused and didn’t know which one of us he wanted to be with, so I told him that the kids and I are moving out. He then said he wanted to be with me. I found out he was cheating prior because I went through his phone. When I decided to stay, I continued to look through his phone. He and the other person talks about marriage, and tell each other I love you, and flirts with each other. Read more

Ask Dr. Buckingham – How Can I tell if my Husband is Straight or Bi-sexual?

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Dear Dr. Buckingham,

Have I been married to my husband for two years, but I am struggling because I do not know if I should remain in the marriage. We have a daughter and I love my husband, but we argue and fight a lot. He has called me a bitch and I have called him names as well. We really did not know each before we moved in together and got married. It might sound crazy, but I have learned to live with the arguing, but I am having a really difficult time living with the fact that I believe that my husband might be bi-sexual. Read more

Ask Dr. Buckingham – No Knocking the Boots for Me: How Do I Survive in a Sexless Marriage?

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Dear doctor,

I need your valuable professional advise for the situation I am in. I got married five years back and after a year I got divorced. One of the reasons for the divorce was there was no sex in our relationship. He ejaculated even before insertion. Our marriage didn’t work out. After 3 years, now I got remarried. It’s been just 5 months. My husband is a divorcee too. Unfortunately, he has no desire for sex. He did not even try to have sex with me for about a month after we got married. I initially thought that if he is not initiating, definitely there would be a valid reason for that. I trusted him very much. But then I realized, he is just killing the time and giving me excuses every other night like ” u know I am so tired” or ” I am jet lagged” (as we traveled from India to US after 15 days of our wedding). Then it started bothering me. I asked him strongly and he responded saying that sex is not important for him and he didn’t marry to have sex. It was shocking for me because I saw myself sailing in the same boat that I was in my first wedding. He has no excitement within himself for sex. He doesn’t touch me sexually. I have to initiate all the time. I have a fear that I have to live a married life without sex, as, in my first year of marriage itself I don’t have that sexual pleasure and intimacy that should normally be there. It takes a long time for erection and he does not engage himself in oral sex. Read more

Ask Dr. Buckingham – Living Single, but Looking for Commitment: Any Advice?

Hey Dr. Buckingham,

I am a 35-year-old single professional guy and I keep running into women who do not meet my expectations. I am looking for the total package. I am looking for a woman who is extremely attractive, humble, childless, down-to-earth, educated, professional like me, understands her worth and role, funny, feminine, spiritual and God-fearing, and freaky, but not in public. I understand that relationships are about giving and I want a woman who is willing to give me 100%.  I don’t think that I am asking too much. My last female friend told me that I want too much and I am not willing to give much. At times I can be reserved because I have been hurt before, but I am not settling.  Read more

Ask Dr. Buckingham – Baby Daddy Drama: Does Sperm Donation makes A Man A Father?

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Dear Dr. Buckingham,

I am a single parent mother who is struggling to raise my three children, ages 3, 5 and 8. All of my children have the same father, but he does not act like a father to them. He stops by the house to see our children every other month. We argue and fight because I tell my children that they do not have a father. I know that this is not right, but I am tired of him disappointing my children by only showing up when he feels like being bothered. Read more