Monthly Archives: January 2015

Jan 29

6 Reasons She Freaks Out About Porn

By Dustin | Help

6 Reasons She Freaks Out About PornMike writes, “My wife doesn’t want me to watch porn but she reads erotic literature. She is very defensive when I tell her that is a double standard.”

Porn is everywhere, it seems. TV and movies keep pushing back standards of decency. Even many mainstream websites are plastered with suggestive images and links promising more sexual content.

Like many men, Mike enjoys checking out that stuff. He likes the more explicit stuff, too.

From what he can tell, he’s no more caught up in it than any of his buddies. And yet if his wife finds out he’s been on porn again, she flips out.

Why does porn bug her so much? She seems just as turned on by erotic novels as he is by porn. So why is it such a big deal to her?”

I hear all the time from women who are upset by their partner’s porn viewing. Here’s what they say:

1. I hate that he’d rather be on porn than with me!

“But that’s not true!” many men insist. “Porn is just something to pass some time, she is the actual woman in my life. They don’t even compare!”

And yet their women have the distinct feeling that porn can hold a more potent influence on him than she does. For Gwen, it’s the intensity of her boyfriend’s fascination that gets to her.

It seems to her that he’s more into porn than he is into spending time with her or having sex with her. “Every chance he gets, he watches porn. I popped uptown for an hour the other day – come back and he’d been watching porn.”

Myztikone commented: “I’m pretty cute: 5’1, 100 pounds, blonde hair, petite. Yet my boyfriend loves porn. In fact, he watches it more than he pays attention to me! It hurts me so much. I cry about it when he’s not around. If I bring up how much it hurts me, he gets really upset and a fight starts.

He makes me feel like crap when I try to tell him how I feel. It’s like he doesn’t care at all that it hurts me. After we clear everything up, he’s leaving me alone in bed the next morning to go watch porn on his iPhone and pretend he’s in the shower. I don’t know what to do anymore. I love him more then anything, but he would rather look at other girls’ bodies than mine.”

2. I hate how porn makes me feel about myself and my body!

Gwen finds that it makes her feel worse about herself: “I hate it. It makes me feel disgusting, knowing he’s doing it.”

Senen said, “I checked out his browsing history and was able to see every picture and video. I’m nothing compared to those girls. I hate going out with him now – in fact I can’t, because I feel ugly and I’m aware that he may be looking at girls with big boobs and butts. I wonder if the girls we see in real life look like the girls he’s been looking at online. I don’t know what to do.”

Rachel agrees: “I really hate porn and how it makes me feel. I feel fat and ugly, I feel the need to make myself look better than those women–although I never could.

Why can’t people be decent nowadays? If you’re in a relationship, realize you are making this woman’s self esteem flush down the toilet. They may even hate themselves. I wish men could empathize better.”

3. I hate how porn affects our sex life!

Rachel noticed, “Sex with my boyfriend has just been mechanical lately.”

MK described how it interfered with her and her husband’s ability as a couple to connect sexually: “My husband’s addiction came long before we were married. Since he already had very false ideas of how sex should be, how I should be, sex didn’t work very well.

And why would I want to have sex with him when I always came up short, no amount of sex was enough, and sex was far more about lust and his ‘needs’ than it was about love or emotional connection. I tried to be that wife that ‘fulfilled his yearnings’ so there wasn’t a problem with pornography, and it didn’t work. No amount of sex will keep him away from pornography.

For the most part, I orgasm every time we have sex. Does that make me want sex? No. Because even with orgasm, it’s not fun to feel like a piece of meat, have no emotional connection, and wonder if he was with me or the woman he saw on the screen.”

Najat wrote, “For the 12 years we’ve been married, my husband hasn’t been interested in sex. I have to beg him for it. He was happy if we only did it every three or four months. When we did have sex, it was the same routine.

I want him to open up to me; he just wants to do it quickly. We had loads of talks about it and every time he said he will try but after few days he forgets about every thing I said. It went on so long I stopped asking him. There was a time we did not have sex for two years. He was not slightly bothered.

He finally said he would go to the doctor to find out why he has a low libido, but he never followed through. Well, recently I accidentally found porn on his phone. He only admitted to watching it when I showed him the proof.

The worst thing is that he has been doing it for long, long time with out me realizing it. That entire time I was blaming myself for the problems in our sex life.”

4. I hate how porn affects his personality!

Tristan said, “I know when he’s back on porn because he gets more irritable. He flies off the handle over the littlest things. He yelled at our four-year-old for spilling his juice. He threw the hammer and left the house for an hour because he couldn’t get a hook to hang right for a picture he was trying to put up.”

GW wrote, “The emotional absence can be crippling. In fact, the emotional disconnect was one of the first signs I noticed. While he was into porn he never did anything around the house, was angry much of the time if not allowed to do his own thing, and put nothing into parenting.

His logic was skewed, too, and he sometimes seemed to have the emotional maturity of a preteen. As he’s progressed in his recovery from the addiction to porn, I’ve watched my husband go from a completely disconnected spouse and father back to the loving man he once was.”

5. I hate that he lies about it!

Sandra said, “I’ve been with my boyfriend two years. We agreed to not watch porn at the beginning. I found out that he did four times in the last four years yet he still denies it.”

Senen commented: “He gets mad when I accuse or ask about porn. He claims he stopped four months ago, but he’s lied so much I don’t know whether I can trust him.”

Sharlene described her heartbreak: “My boyfriend told me when I was pregnant that he didn’t look at pictures of naked women anymore. He lied to me for months, saying that he’d only watched a particular sex video because his friend showed it to him at work.

Then I found it on the search engine in the ps3. And last night I found other porn websites on his ps3. I am really disgusted because he used one of my pajama tops to wipe it on! I am really angry. I’ve always tried to be there when he needs me. I can’t get over the fact he lied to me all that time while I was looking after our baby.

If he can lie about that he can lie about anything else. I confronted him last night and he shouted that every guy does it.

6. I hate that I feel so confused and helpless!

Most of the women who comment on my blog say, “I don’t know what to do!”

Sharlene feels torn: “Inside I desperately want to leave.” But there’s another part saying, “Don’t! Just be a family.” Then there’s a part saying, “I’m not happy constantly being lied to, I would be happy without him.”

One woman commented, “I started to feel crazy for feeling the strong emotions I had. I had to recognize the betrayal and heartache and hurt that I felt and work through it and turn it over to God.”

K recalled feeling disturbed by sex early in her marriage to a narcissistic porn addict and not understanding why. “I wanted this lovely, tender connection and instead it felt dark and vulgar. Later I read Jaycee Dugard’s memoir, A Stolen Life, and realized that I related to a lot of how she felt. Instead of just concluding that he must be involved in disgusting things, I felt a dirtiness inside myself.

I couldn’t get rid of a gross feeling in my torso. It got so bad I remember wishing one time that I could take a razor blade and cut that icky feeling out. Looking back now I can see it more clearly, but at the time it was very disorienting.

Sex, this way of connecting that’s supposed to be beautiful and wonderful, instead was a constant downer, a drag not only on the relationship but on my entire life. After years I realized that he was never going to change, and I finally left him. Only now that I have some distance from the entire experience do I see all of the ways it effected me.”


 

Mike and the rest of us need to take these women’s feelings to heart. They’re not overreacting. They don’t need to get over it and realize all men look at porn.

As men, we need to respect women for who they are and trust their sensibilities. We can find it within ourselves to empathize with them and let that empathy guide our behavior. When we feel drawn to porn, we need to take women’s reactions and perspectives into account as we decide whether or not to act on our desires.

We have a choice whether to cause such harm to the woman we love…

How has porn affected your relationship?  Please share in the comments below.

Note from Dustin: I am so glad that Mark shared this testimony about the deep pain that porn is causing in marriages.  If you’re looking for help right now, I’d encourage you to check out Mark’s site and also take a look at Covenant Eyes.

Covenant Eyes not only prevents porn use by men, but by women and teenagers as well.  Given that the fastest growing users of porn are women under the age of 25 and that 43% of kids first view porn before the age of 13, now’s the time to take action.

Mark Chamberlain loves helping people heal from the effects of sexual addiction. He is a psychologist and the Clinical Director at Suncrest Counseling in Salt Lake City, which offers an intensive treatment program for individuals and couples struggling with porn and other addictions.

He is the author of several books including Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity and a blog on the same topic. He has found that most clients’ recovery is greatly strengthened by deeper emotional connections in relationships.

Their clinic uses Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy to help couples heal the negative cycles that can sabotage such closeness. His greatest reward comes as clients discover that true, deep attachment is “the real deal” that old addictions could never counterfeit.

Jan 26

Do You Like Your Spouse?

By E.J. Smith | Help

ID-10034280A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a conference where Mary Ellen O’Toole, a former criminal investigator and FBI agent from the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), was the keynote speaker.  Yes, fellow Criminal Minds fans, the BAU is a real unit.  Although she was there to speak about criminals and the personalities that often accompany those who would seek to do us harm, she offered an anecdote about marriage that stuck with me.

Essentially, she said that by our early 30’s, the personality was solidly formed.  While there are some who would argue that change is always possible, Mary Ellen shared that in her experience, unless dire circumstances presented themselves, the personality of a person remained consistent from that point onward. 

Stuck Like Glue

Breaking from her discussion of psychopathy and criminology, she shared that this solidifying of the personality was why when couples complained of how their spouse had “changed” over the years — thus leading them to have an unsatisfied marriage– she was rarely convinced.  Rather than the personality changing, O’Toole suggested that the personality remained consistent (truly for better or for worse) and that it was life stages and contexts around the couple that shifted instead.

Simply put, she warned us that we’d better really LIKE the person we were married to— Because they probably weren’t changing: 

The person who showers us with attention while we’re dating, years later may be spoken of as “clingy” when they insist on accompanying us even in the most inane activities. 

The person who gives attention to every little detail of the wedding, might years down the road be called “nit-picky” when she insists on organizing the home in a certain manner. 

Admiration as a Marriage Preserver

In keeping with the FBI Profiler’s insights as to personality, John M. Gottman (of the world famous Gottman Institute) in his NY Times Bestseller The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work wrote simply that couples who like and admire each other’s transcendent qualities— such as the aforementioned devotion to family, or attention to detail— will tend to have a happier, longer marriages. 

Yes, I do realize this statement is far from earth shattering.    

But consider the following:  If the above statement is so mind numbingly simple, then why— WHY— do couples flow through the doors of counselors’ offices across the country insisting they want to save their marriages, but at the same time project such profound contempt for the person they are trying to stay married to?

Please note that I’m not talking about being angry with someone because they hurt your feelings, or feeling betrayed and needing time to heal.  That’s injury.  It’s also (hopefully) temporary. 

I’m talking about are hand-wringing levels of disgust, deep-seated resentment, or maybe even pervasive numbness that poison or skew the lens through which one even begins to consider their spouse.

How can love for another thrive in the presence of intolerance and contempt for that same person? As far as I know it can’t. 

Do You Like Your Spouse?

Recently, I’ve been seeing more couples and families for sessions.  When a patient discharges from the hospital, we like to bring in some significant members of their support networks. Typically, these are parents/guardians or spouses.

Considering the acuity of the work at the facility, this is a time when we frequently see people (patients and family) at their most emotionally vulnerable.  And it can be both inspiring, and heart-shattering to see the reactions of family members to their loved ones— especially spouses.

What I’ve learned is that there are an abundance of married folks walking around who say they love their husbands or their wives, but they don’t particularly like them.

So ask yourself right now— even if there are parts of my marriage that I’m not happy with— in general, do I like my spouse?

Would I like my spouse if I weren’t married to him/her?

Like Over Love

I think part of the problem is that we’ve sold ourselves on the idea that love is the ultimate end of human emotion.  And maybe it is.  However, when it comes to marriage and building a relationship that will span decades or even a lifetime— even the ultimate in human emotion— just simply isn’t enough because emotions change. 

As one of my Theology professors so eloquently put it, “50-year marriages aren’t built on emotion.”  He went on to say that they were built 25% on emotion and 75% on choice.  Maybe that’s true, but I also see a lot of people choosing to be 75% miserable.

Sometimes, and especially during rough patches in relationships, I think it’s helpful to take a step back and think of your spouse not so much as a spouse or lover, but like anyone else with whom you share time.

There’s a tendency to fall into the trap of thinking of our spouse as “someone who does stuff for me,” and we forget that our spouse is a person.  And while I understand that remembering all the reasons you liked your spouse in the first place during an argument might be really REALLY difficult, I’m going to assume there was something about them that you liked.  And maybe just trying to remember that is enough.

“Somewhere, there is something I liked about this person enough to marry him/her.  I can’t feel it right now.  Heck, I can’t even remember what it IS right now.  And, I know it’s there.  So I’m going to trust that for now.”

The Weirdest Person in the Room

Sound absurd?  I get “accused” (lovingly) of saying “weird stuff” a lot.  One client comes to mind, “Seriously, who walks around saying this stuff… besides you.”

One reason is because I don’t think a whole lot of people have trained their ears, heart, mind and mouth to identify and speak their truth on a regular basis.  And secondly, a mentor friend from when I was teaching once advised me to “be the weirdest person in the room” when working with my students at the beginning of a school year.  She said, “It’ll show them that being unique is safe.  And it’ll really take the pressure off.”

So there it is.  Come up with your own version of this stuff, and you won’t sound nearly as weird as me!  (haha!)  The truth is that Marriage itself, working on your marriage, and especially working through the grit that sometimes leaves us chaffed or chapped from time to time in our marriages doesn’t have to sound smooth, or pretty, or worthy of a Hallmark card. It just needs to be real.

Try this:

Think about the people that you genuinely enjoy being around who you don’t necessarily love in a romantic way?  Do you appreciate friends who are interesting, funny, charitable, maybe even a little bit of a hot mess from time to time?  Do you have someone that you respect or admire for their professionalism or thoughtful advice?

Who are these people?  Does your husband/wife share any of those likable attributes?

Again, I know this seems simple.  And yet, it’s important. 

When we focus too much on simply loving our spouses because they’re our spouses and forget to LIKE them as people, we miss huge opportunities to see them for the dynamic, imperfect, beings that the rest of the world gets to enjoy. 

Furthermore, when we can create, safe accepting space for our spouses to be truly their quirky selves, we get to witness a level of authenticity that the outside world can’t even begin to imagine.

Your Turn

What are some of the attributes your spouse/partner possesses that you absolutely admire, value or like about them?

Let me know in the comments— and even more importantly— let your spouse know what you like about them, what you appreciate about them and what you value in them.

Image Source

Jan 21

The Real Secret to a Happy Marriage…and 2 More Marriage Myths Debunked

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

Marriage Myths DebunkedFrom the minute a couple gets engaged (and sometimes before), they start hearing marriage myths.

Well-meaning or not, people often give advice that simply isn’t true — whether because of their own experience or because of what others have said to them.

But for couples that are trying to make sense of it all, the conflicting counsel can be confusing.

So with that in mind, here’s a look at three false marriage clichés.

If someone tells you one of these things is true, think twice before you believe it.

Myth #1 – To Have a Happy Marriage, Live Together First

Conventional wisdom these days says cohabitation is a good idea.

By setting up house before the commitment of marriage, the theory goes, couples have a chance to take a test run on what married life could be like. But research shows that living together could actually be a poor choice in terms of finding ultimate marriage success.

“Living together actually gets in the way of the kind of deliberative and conscious decision-making that the commitment of marriage requires,” according to findings cited at Psychology Today. “Previously cohabitating couples ‘slide’ into marriage in largely unexamined ways, accounting for their greater probability of divorce and weaker communication skills.”

An article at TIME Magazine, on the other hand, suggests it’s not living together that is the problem, but living together too soon and too young. “Economist Evelyn Lehrer (University of Illinois at Chicago) says the longer people wait past 23, the more likely a marriage is to stick.”

In either case, the secret to a happy marriage isn’t cohabitation — so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Myth #2 – Women Are the Ones Who Want Romance

It’s a long-held misconception that women are the only ones who want romance, but research shows 33% more men than women around the world say it bothers them that their significant other isn’t more romantic, according to Reader’s Digest.

This finding came as the result of more than 80,000 people around the world being interviewed on love, sex, trust and more.

What does this mean for your marriage?

Never assume only one of you cares about being close — just because society portrays men a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s true in your relationship.

[PSST…If you want an easy way to be romantic to your wife – or your husband!grab our free Perfect Love Letter Checklist and put it to good use]

Myth #3 – The Secret to a Good Marriage is Luck

A lot of people will say things like marital success is a roll of the dice — you have no way of moving toward or away from a good marriage, but you just take the hand you’re dealt.

In reality though, this isn’t true. Most couples that experience long-term marital bliss will cite commitment and companionship as the crucial factors that keep their marriages working.

They understand that building a solid relationship takes hard work, determination and loyalty.

According to writer David Popenoe at HowStuffWorks.com, “the happiest couples are friends who share lives and are compatible in interests and values.”

Do the three myths listed above sound familiar to you?

Have you heard conventional advice like this and wondered if it were true?

When it comes to marriage, remember not to believe everything you’re told. Every couple is unique, so what’s true for one couple may not be true for another.

But more importantly, just because people are saying something, that doesn’t mean it’s worth taking to heart.

BONUS TIP from Dustin – There’s a Myth #4 that we hear way too often, too.  It’s the idea that “good couples don’t fight” and I can only laugh at that idea.

All couples have disagreements, but the happiest know how to “fight” constructively and stop the escalation of tempers before someone gets hurt emotionally.

I highly recommend you grab this free resource from our friends at ONE Extraordinary Marriage to stop your next argument in its tracks.

It’s so simple and so effective.

John and WendyJohn and Wendy who both have Masters degrees in Clinical Counseling run a crisis marriage counseling practice, Marriage Rescue Associates, and have years of experience dealing with married couples.

They offer everything from counseling to marriage retreats, which attributes to their 90% success rate.

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Jan 19

Do You Want Better Sexual Intimacy in 2015?

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

 

better sex in 2015I used to be a New Year’s Resolution junkie.

I mean, I was hard core. I loved the idea of fresh starts and new beginnings and embracing optimism to its fullest.

Honestly, I’m still a little bit that way.

But I’m less enthralled with the “thinking” about resolutions and much more focused on the actual “doing.”

And the older I get, I am most conscientious of healthy “doing” in my relationships, particularly my marriage and with other people who are closest to me.

My husband and I had dinner the other night with a friend whose husband recently died rather suddenly of cancer at the age of 53.  It was devastating for all of us, but obviously most for her and their children.

She and her husband were deeply in love, living a strong healthy marriage.  They envisioned many years ahead together.

Our conversation drifted to “life being short” and “you just never know” and the importance of relationship.  It is true that we build a rich life by building strong and compassionate relationships, and at no time does that become clearer than when we lose someone we love.

It is easy to be enamored with the concept of New Year’s Resolutions, but I am convinced a better approach is to simply “do” something — even baby steps, as I have often said.

Do something.

You don’t have to write it down.

You don’t have to first buy elaborate marriage courses or sign up for marriage retreats.  Those things have their place and are among many great marriage resources available.

BUT — and this is vitally important — there’s a lot to be said for being intentional on what you are already equipped to do.

More affection. More kindness. More affirmation. More touch.

I write and speak about sexual intimacy in marriage, so that’s my wheelhouse.  That’s the topic that floods my email inbox and comment stream on my blog.  That’s where I get a glimpse of deep pain and miscommunication in the marriage beds of so many people.

Possibly your marriage bed and relationship are starving for sexual intimacy.

Can you do something about that?  Will you do something?

Will 2015 be a year of better sexual intimacy in your marriage?

I obviously don’t know your particular situation or circumstances, but I do know there are a lot of marriages where the two people in it need to take a humble and honest look at their sexual intimacy. (Or lack thereof, as the case often is).

And that’s hard.  I’m not going to sugar coat it.  It’s hard, even painful, to take accountability for where we’ve played a part in weakening our relationship.

But it’s worth it — and it’s wise — to take that accountability.  To be brave. To do something.

Anyone can give lip service to “wanting to change.”  (Go to any gym in January and see how crowded it is, and then go back in April and see how less crowded it is).

Don’t let “thinking about change” or “resolving to change” be your stumbling block to actually doing something.

The mental gymnastics will kill you if you think you need a solid plan or all the details figured out before you start.

Will 2015 be a year of better sexual intimacy in your marriage?

Not long ago, I spoke about sex to a women’s group.  It was a group to which I had spoke on the same topic before, so they were well familiar with my passion about authentic sexual intimacy in a marriage.

One woman shared how my talk a year previously had challenged her to make some changes and to nurture the sexual intimacy that was lacking in her marriage.   She shared that it was her wake-up call and that she knew she had to do something.

And she smiled when she said that because of what she had done, her marriage was stronger.  She and her husband were more connected, sexually and otherwise.

Will 2015 be a year of better sexual intimacy in your marriage?

I hope and pray it will be.  I hope and pray you will do something in that direction.

Any time is really the right time to do something to strengthen your marriage. Will you do something?

Jan 12

The Role Kindness Plays In Romance

By Debi Walter | Romance

I’ve noticed lately, especially when driving around Orlando, that kindness on the road is greatly lacking.

What happened to those who used to let you in when you were trying to merge onto a busy highway?

Or when you slow down to let another car merge into your lane, what has happened to the wave of the hand to say, “Thanks!”

I’ve noticed many times after parking my car at Costco and walking towards the entrance, I’m nearly hit by a rude driver not willing to stop and let me cross the road in front of them. Or when I’m the driver and have stopped to let someone cross in front of me, they take their time without regard to my time spent waiting.

What has happened to kindness behind the wheel–kindness in our culture–kindness in general?

Have we become so absorbed into our own schedules that our rudeness to strangers seems justified? And isn’t it most likely true, that these attitudes will have some influence on how we express kindness to our spouse?

When our kindnesses are cut off like this over and over, it tends to make us cynical and vengeful.

Many husbands who have had a rough day being ill-treated by others, come home only to take their frustrations out on their unsuspecting family. Likewise many wives who have been the recipient of stressful attitudes all day long are tempted to vent to the ones she loves most.

The Bible reminds us that we are to…

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32 ESV

When we are purposing to show kindness to our spouse, we are not thinking cold, uncaring thoughts towards them. Instead our thoughts go to ways we know will bless them.

What does all this talk of kindness have to do with romance? Everything!

Romance starts and ends with showing kindness to our spouse. (click here to tweet this)

It can be as simple as fixing a favorite drink for them when they walk in the door after a rough day, or going all out to plan an unsuspected night out on the town.

Romance is all about knowing your spouse well enough to realize when they need some special attention.

I remember one time Tom had had a particularly difficult week at work. Kindness was not on his company’s agenda, and he felt beat up on several levels. Friday had finally arrived, and he was due home within the hour.

I got the idea to make him a special surprise–a banner hung in the garage that said, “Welcome To Your Weekend!” When he walked in the door I had his favorite snack waiting and sent him to our room to relax and unwind before dinner.

It was a simple kindness, but very romantic. And best of all? It didn’t cost much at all!

Have you bought the lie that romance is complicated and expensive? Or that it requires too much effort?

Well, I encourage you to think otherwise.

Tell me, what is one kindness you can show to your spouse today that will make them smile?

Give it a try and see if kindness doesn’t begin taking root in your home–and maybe, just maybe it’ll make it behind the wheel of your car as well. 🙂 Kindness has a way of spreading to those who need it most.

Check out this excellent post by my friend, Cindy Wright at Marriage Missions International, for ideas on how to show random acts of kindness towards your spouse.  Or this great list of 74 Simple Things You Can Do to Brighten Your Spouse’s Day here at Engaged Marriage.

Until next month…let’s practice romance…and be kind to each other!

 

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Jan 05

The Opportunity Cost of Your Job: Live with it or leave it?

By Kim Hall | Finances & Careers

opportunity cost of your jobThe hours you have available to work represent a fertile field of opportunity to grow in skills, obtain wealth, gather knowledge, gain power and prestige, form strong personal and professional relationships, and to live with a true sense of purpose and satisfaction.

How and where you choose to spend those hours determines the Opportunity Cost of your job.

Think of it in terms of how you choose to spend your money, except your currency is the time you offer in exchange for your labor. Once you spend your money—your work hours—it isn’t available to spend elsewhere.

The question before spending is this: Is the value you receive worth the price you pay, not only for you, but for your marriage as well?

This value is the Opportunity Cost of your job.

If you are in the nearly three-fourths of employees who are dissatisfied with their jobs, this opportunity cost is possibly too high. You are spending your valuable, limited capital—your time—in exchange for something worth far less.

You can continue on as you are, or you can use your experience as a springboard for some changes in your career/workplace, your perspective, or both.

You expect the situation to change

You’ve seen the lists of the top reasons people hate their jobs, and you nod in agreement as you mentally check off many items yourself.

Rather than harvesting the fruits of a job well done, you realize you are regularly frustrated by management who isn’t willing to lead, annoyed by a boss who is a micro-manager, and disheartened by the bad apples that are publicly lauded and rewarded while your valuable contributions go unnoticed.

Your expectations seem so simple: to be treated as you treat others, with respect, honesty, integrity, flexibility, and a positive attitude, and you just don’t understand how the situation doesn’t for the better.

You might be knee deep in the Big Muddy

Barry Staw coined the phrase “knee deep in the Big Muddy” to describe decision-making in which individuals continue to pour time, money, and effort into something that just isn’t working and shows no sign of ever improving.

This “escalation of commitment” can be seen in jobs in which people just don’t want to let go in spite of clear evidence that there is no change in sight and no solution to make things work the way they are supposed to.

Yet, folks persist in staying, believing they have invested too much to walk away and start anew.

Time to change your point of view

Long ago, my photography instructor taught me that in order to see what I was missing I needed to change my point of view.

I learned there was much that I couldn’t see because I wasn’t looking for it or wasn’t open to seeing it.

The same is true when you are stuck in the Big Muddy at work.

Taking the time to step back will give you the information you need to determine the opportunity cost of your job, and whether you can live with it or if you should leave it.

Determine the Opportunity Cost

First, make a list of the main areas that make up your life: Financial, Family/Marriage, Career, Personal Growth, Physical, Spiritual, and Social.

Beside each area list the opportunity cost or value.

For example, under Career, you may note that you thoroughly dislike your boss, yet you love the work. The long hours you are required to put in may pose a difficulty for your family, and yet the experience is invaluable for your future.

Go through all areas to make as complete a list as possible.

Have your spouse help you, as they can provide another perspective.

I highly recommend doing this over the course of at least one overnight so you come back to the list with fresh eyes and more ideas.

Decide to live with it or leave it

Once you have the list as complete as possible, set aside time to discuss it with your spouse.

Use your values as guideposts, because living a life aligned with your values creates more peace and joy.

Years ago, my husband and I wrapped up an amazing five years as innkeepers—which is pretty much a 24/7 job—with my parents.

My hubby and I agreed on some key points before we started our search for different work. We wanted time to attend church and related activities, volunteer, and have weekends for our family and marriage.

But then I landed my dream job of working for a professional photographer.

My commute was an hour each way, and I worked weekends and often into the evenings.

I was stressed, conflicted, often cried on the way to and from work, but kept at it, thinking it would get better.

Needless to say, we never did a final values check before I took on the position, and I didn’t recognize a Big Muddy when I was waist-deep in one.

You will find, as we did in retrospect, there will be costs and value associated with your job, and the decision to stay or go can be a complex one. I encourage you to keep at it until you come to a decision with which you and your spouse can be at peace.

If you decide the opportunity cost is worth it, yet still have to face a difficult environment, author and business journalist Suzy Welch offers a helpful solution to get through those challenging times.

For more help and hope, be sure to read these posts, too:

Dealing with the Mistress: 4 Considerations for balancing work and home

4 Ways a Midlife Career Change Can Help Your Marriage

When a God Wink feels more like a snake bite

Comment: How have you dealt with the opportunity cost of your job?

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