Words & Thoughts to Help You Live the Full Life

Stay tuned to the MTC Counseling blog for news and thoughts on life, faith, mental health and spiritual breakthroughs.  Follow us on Twitter to receive notification of new posts.

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Hope & Healing for Depression: The Good Life with Barbara Beck

2014-01-02 11:08:18 monte

On this episode of The Good Life with Barbara Beck, Pastor Justin Miller of Real Life Christian Church and mental health counselors Susan Londres and Monte Drenner share about the difficult topic of depression.

The Good Life 45 provides Christian and Family-Friendly television programming for the Central Florida Area.

You can watch more episodes of The Good Life on Vimeo or YouTube.

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Managing Negative Emotions During the Holidays: Video Interview from The Good Life with Barbara Beck

2013-12-12 11:55:53 benspak

Barbara Beck recently interviewed Monte Drenner on her show, The Good Life. The Good Life 45 provides Christian and Family-Friendly television programming for the Central Florida Area.

Monte and Barbara discuss ways to manage Depression, Anxiety, Stress and other negative emotions during the holidays and beyond. They also talk about the difference between religion and spirituality.

Monte Drenner from The Good Life on Vimeo.

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The Marriage You Want, From A to Z: "E" - Expect to Stay In Love!

2013-06-13 17:31:35 monte

1 Corinthians 13 4-7We continue our blog series on marriage this week with the letter “E.”

E = Expect to Stay in Love

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”  – I Corinthians 13:4-8

The statistics on marriage state that the average first time marriage in the US lasts about 8 years. Let’s think about that for a minute. Who would buy a house that was expected to last only 8 years? Or who would invest in a company that was expected to last only 8 years? As a culture, we seem to have higher expectations for houses and business than we do for important relationships like marriage. A major reason cited for this alarming statistic is “we fell out of love.”

One of the reasons people “fall out of love” is that they were not really ‘in love” in the first place. What they had was infatuation, which is very different than love but very easily confused. It’s like the difference between gold and pyrite, otherwise known as “fool’s gold.” Gold is very valuable and pyrite is not. With gold, you can make rings, necklaces and all sorts of other beautiful things. Our wedding bands are gold and have lasted 31 years and will outlast us. On the other hand, there is little value in pyrite. It looks like gold, shimmers like gold, but its not really gold. Just as pyrite is deceptive, so is infatuation. It looks like love and feels like love,but it’s not. Just as jewelry made with pirate won’t last, marriages built on infatuation do not endure.

Infatuation is that stage in a relationship where you think the other person is perfect, and you do not see their flaws. You feel wonderful just being around them and can’t wait to see them again. Thoughts of this person keep you up at night and make you feel happy all over. Infatuation causes the brain to be flooded with dopamine which creates the euphoric feelings of love. Many marriages do not last past the 8 year mark because they do not make the transition from infatuation to true love. This necessary transition takes maturity and hard work. Our marriage was initially based upon infatuation, and by the time the 8 year mark hit, we had a great deal of stress that did not exist when the infatuation began. We had careers, bills to pay, two kids and a mortgage. Infatuation cannot stand this type of pressure, but love can. In order for our relationship to go from infatuation to true love and thrive, we had to get lots of help and take a more spiritual approach.

Of course it’s fun to see infatuation when a couple is dating; we love to see couples who are very happy together. But we like it even more when they are truly in love.

Love, as you have discovered by now, is a confusing concept. What most people do not understand is that love is a feeling and also a choice. The English language has many strengths, but explaining love is not one of them. English limits us with one word to describe our affection for our favorite food and our spouse. The Greek language, on the other hand, has 4 different words for different types of love. A healthy marriage will have eros, the physical attraction and sex, and phileo, which is friendship. But for a marriage to be healthy, vibrant and strong enough to endure the pressures of life, it must have agape, which is unconditional love.

So many marriages fail because the marriage is based upon the condition that they live up to each others expectations. Individually, they will focus on getting their own needs met rather than meeting the needs of their spouse. Agape love is not about performance and what the other person does for you; it is selfless and focuses on meeting and understanding your spouse’s needs. Agape love is the type of love God has for us; it is giving and sacrificial. Agape love is the type of love God calls us to have when He says to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no good future in a selfish type of love.

So, if you want to increase the quality of your marriage and the chances of it lasting “till death to us part,” you need to learn how to have agape love. As God says in I Corinthians 13, “love never fails.”

If your marriage lacks this type of love, seek professional help from a counselor, your church, or one of the many good books on marriage. We would not be writing this if we did not learn the value of unconditional love. After 31 years, we have no regrets for the changes we made to get to this point and look forward to many more years together as our love continues to grow.

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The Marriage You Want, from A to Z: "D" - Dare to Dream!

2013-05-29 07:01:47 monte

cloudsWe continue our blog series on marriage this week with the letter “D.”

D = Dare to Dream!  

Have mutual dreams for your life together, present & future!

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” ― Edgar Allan Poe

We have done our share of pre-marital counseling to help couples prepare for marriage. One question we always ask them is, “What are your dreams?” We often get answers like, “Raise a family and grow old together.” These dreams are nice but not very original, and they are somewhat limited. We then ask, “What type of family do you want to raise? … A perfect sitcom family with no problems, like the Cleavers? Or a family like the Osbornes where everyone goes to rehab? Do you want a family that is close-knit and loving and respectful of one another? Or one where everyone is independent and constantly quarreling? What kind of relationship do you want to have when you get old?”

We know many couples who are “growing old together” but who are growing apart. The “empty nest” is a huge fear for them because their lives are focused on their children and not their relationship with each other. The years of marriage have made them more distant from each other rather than dependent upon each other. There are also a lot of years between raising a family and growing old together. What about dreams for the different seasons of your marriage? After 31 years of marriage we’ve seen many of our dreams come true. By the grace and power of God, we raised two beautiful and amazing daughters who married great men. The weddings were surreal in that they were dreams come true. But we also had dreams for our girls as they were growing up. We dreamed and prayed that they would become Christians, become independent, get an education, and marry godly men. We shared these dreams with them as they were growing up and regularly worked to help them see these dreams come true.

Even after our girls got married, we had bigger dreams than growing old together. One dream we had for several years was to have a thriving practice together. Like any dream of value, it took a few years for it all to fall in place, but we did not give up on the dream. When we got married, we dreamed of visiting various parts of the world, and since then we have been to 5 of the 7 continents together. Our dream is to get to all of them and also to all 50 states. We still continue to dream. One of our big dreams now is retiring someday and having a house on the beach. We also dream of spoiling grandchildren and going on family vacations with them. An exciting part of our marriage is that we continue to dream of these things together.

So what are your dreams? Is one of them to have a quality marriage? It is not too late to start dreaming about what you and your spouse can have in the future.

It’s helpful to have mutual dreams for your life together, present and future. Support each other in these dreams. There is a great sense of accomplishment and togetherness when dreams come true. Start today to have big dreams for yourself, your marriage and your family.

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The Marriage You Want, From A to Z: "C" - Communicate!

2013-05-19 19:45:54 monte

Communication SkillsWe continue our blog series on “The Marriage You Want, From A to Z” this week with the letter “C.”

C = Communicate! 

“Mend your speech a little, Lest you may mar your fortunes.” – William Shakespeare

Many couples come to us for help in their marriage and say that communication is their biggest problem. All the research on why couples divorce cites communication as a major reason that marriages dissolve. However, we disagree that communication is the real problem — unless, of course, it’s an arranged marriage with someone from another country who does not speak the same language or one of the individuals is deaf or mute. These situations could cause serious communications problems. It is always interesting for couples who have problems communicating with each other to discover that, for the most part, they do not have communication problems with other people in their lives, just with their spouse. The communication problems they experience with their spouse do not occur at work or any place they interact with others. So then we need to explore if communication is really the problem, or is the inability to communicate a symptom of bigger problems? We can teach monkeys and birds to communicate with us, so how hard can it be to learn how to communicate with your spouse? The answer lies in how willing the couple is to deal with their individual issues that hinder their ability to communicate.

In the past, Sandy and I have had our share of “communication problems.” We would have long and heated arguments over many things that in the grand scheme of things did not really matter. Our “communication problems” were based in selfishness and pride. These issues were the root of the problem for us, and we also recognize them in the vast majority of the couples we see professionally. When I am selfish, I’m not concerned about what my spouse is trying to say and therefore do not attentively listen. I can hear what my boss says. I can hear clearly what’s on TV. But for some reason, I can’t hear my spouse. Due to selfishness, I perceive that whatever is going on with me is more important than what is happening with my mate. Our mate therefore feels unimportant which can lead to anger. Often individuals will not deal with the emotion of anger well which only exacerbates the inability to communicate effectively. In short, selfishness gets us more focused on self rather than what’s going on with our mate. Selfishness keeps us from giving the other person our full attention.

Pride is another issue that causes communication problems. Pride keeps us from respecting the other person enough to make the effort to listen. Pride enables us to interrupt and pass judgments, prevents us from being open to the views of others, keeps us from admitting that we are wrong, and causes us to get defensive and argumentative. Pride also keeps us focused on presenting our side of an issue and prevents us from trying to understand our mate’s point.

Once Sandy and I addressed and changed the issues of pride and selfishness in our marriage, we were amazed at how much our communication improved. We learned to work harder to understand than to be understood. We learned to take time every day to talk and to emotionally connect about how we were feeling about whatever was going on in our lives at that time. We decided to not interrupt each other and to give our full attention when the other was speaking. Each of these principles takes humility and selflessness to apply.

Now ask yourself, “Do we really have a communication problem? or is it a pride and selfishness problem?” Your communication will improve dramatically as ours did once you address these issues and work to change them. Good communication takes time effort and energy to improve but making these changes will pay great dividends.

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