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Toxic Relationships : The Toxic, The Victim & The Solution

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Today, our topic is “Toxic Relationships : The Toxic, The Victim & The Solution”. Every good relationship takes work and if every toxic person was declined an opportunity to get married or experience a relationship, this would simply mean that 7 out of every 10 people you know will never get the chance to enjoy being in a relationship. Yes, there are that many toxic people around you and for all you care, one of them might just be reading this article. Even with parenting, there are many flaws that we decide to overlook because even our parents aren’t particularly saints. Over time we learn to adapt to their idiosyncrasies, opinions, habits and temperaments as they also learn to do with us.

This adaptation is the same expectation for relationships but this sometimes proves harder because with relationships, it’s two different people from different backgrounds trying to make it work.

Identifying A Toxic Relationship

Various schools of thought believe this is hard to recognize but after years of listening to people talk, it isn’t the hardest thing to recognize. Toxicity in a relationship in most cases is so obvious that friends, family and externals are usually the first ones to pick up on this. This could be because it pulls at something deep within them or the couples involved are usually in denial until someone else points it out. Any behavior that the toxic partner exerts that damages the other party emotionally or physically is what defines a toxic relationship. If you cannot vouch for the presence of mutual respect, care, self-esteem building interactions and positive emotional energy in your relationship then you are most likely in a toxic relationship.

I will also tell you what a toxic relationship is not. Some couples get to that point where they are too lazy to build their relationship upwards and would rather quickly label it toxic than “unattended to”.

– Temple Obike

Here are some other mild signs that you may be in a toxic relationship;

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1) You leave the room when your partner comes is there

2) There’s no communication

3) Constant feelings of being drained

4) There’s always drama in the house

5) You have a heavily jealous or envious partner

6) You can’t talk when your partner is there

7) You lower your standards for your partner

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8) Your partner brings out the worst in you

9) You’re always apologizing

It Takes Two …

This may not be the most palatable piece of information for you but it does take two to create a toxic relationship. There is the partner who is toxic and the partner who enables or allows toxicity to continue. The next natural question that comes to mind is “Why stay in a toxic relationship rather than leaving”?.

The most perfect relationships sometimes have a spell of toxicity and because there isn’t any rule book that describes marriage or relationships than the mere act of actually being in it, many couples learn on the move. Once you notice manipulative or controlling behavior from a partner, it’s usually the first sign of toxicity especially if that partner is a saint in the eyes of everyone else. Toxic relationships can be fixed but i’d like to mention that if substance , physical or verbal abuse is already part of your relationship you need intervention or separation.

The Mind of The Toxic

Week in, week out i see many individuals who sit down and paint their partners pitch black. The thing about this is that they most times do not seem to see anything wrong with themselves, their attitude or a lack of it. With this said, the most prominent factor in the mind of every toxic person is “CONTROL & POWER”. I know that at the beginning of most relationships and marriages, subtle power struggles occur. That is very different from this because in this case, one partner is absolutely obsessed with maintaining and controlling power through any means possible. In most cases, the means of control isn’t obvious at first to the enabling partner within the toxic relationship.

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If any of the descriptions used below are familiar to you, then you are either in a toxic relationship, enabling a toxic person or have observed a toxic relationship up close. These signs may occur in everyday platonic friendships, parent-child relationships, a marriage or even in a relationship between two people building up to marriage.

THE TOXIC TYPES I’VE SEEN

A. THE GUILT FARMER

Can you think of anyone right now who makes you feel like you’re constantly in a courtroom. Guilty! Guilty! and more Guilt! is all you can see,think and believe when you are around them. Their power is perfected when you feel guilty. This guilt may come to you directly when they convey their dis-satisfaction or indirectly when someone else communicates their disappointment for something else you did.

A perfect example would be a scenario where a friend calls you out of the blues to find out how you could have done such a terrible thing to another friend of your’s. If a friend can pick up a phone and complain to a third party about you, nothing stops them from calling you directly. The “Guilt Farmer” also uses guilt as a tool when they remove it after they’ve gotten you to carry out their wish. Please take note of this fact. If there is anyone in your life that you feel so relieved after you carry out their instructions especially because you now feel less guilty. You need to become a bit more observant to see if you can establish a pattern of guilt and forgiveness. If this seems true then you are indeed in the presence of what i call a “Guilt Farmer”.

This toxicity type is something i’ve come to notice mostly in parent-child relationships where parents get their older children to do what they want. It also occurs with spouses e.g You have a heartfelt discussion about something you are passionate about with your partner who is 100% in support, you go all out and begin only for them to tell you that there “Ain’t no sunshine now that you’re gone”. “You’re missing out of the children’s life” or “You’ve changed since xyz began”.

B. THE CHOKER

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Remember when your boo/bae was so adorable and couldn’t even hide his jealousy when a little baby was checking you out? Awwwnn 💚 (cute). Well, that was then, now that both of you are in a committed relationship or married, you thought it was going to sort that aspect out since they would now be re-assured you were fully their’s right? WRONG.

You just bought a mirage. The more time that passes, the more suspicious and controlling they become. The first thing they do is remove any meaningful friendships around you, then subtly cut you off from family, after this phase comes the bugging of your phones, car and constant interrogations on your whereabouts. If any of these are familiar to you (especially if you haven’t done anything in the past to attract dis-trust), then you are not in a healthy relationship but rather viewed as a possession. Your attempts at constantly trying to validate a “Choker” will suddenly become a full-time job by itself and gets progressively worse. A relationship with this toxic type will strip you of every aspect of your personality.

It get’s worse if you have actually created room for the toxic partner to dis-trust you in times past because you will eternally work to get back into their good books but to no avail. This relationship after a while mirrors a blackmailer-victim scenario.

C. THE GOLIATH SYNDROME

Have you ever heard of the term “insensitive jokes”? These toxic types are the masters at this because they are naturally prone to the fear of direct confrontation but would mask it with lots of painful jokes targeted at their victims(the enabler). That partner or friend who has a way of cracking jokes that get under your skin could be this type. They are the “Bullies” in your home.

Everyone knows couples where one of the partners belittles the other in public, with friends or family and makes them feel unattractive, less intelligent and every other way not nice. This is a move that is supposed to give them all the decision-making power because the less of everything you feel about you, the more of everything you hand over to them. They feed on your self-esteem and this will worsen once you do not destabilize their centre of control (if you can find it, because they usually go through a lot to hide it).

D. THE LEECH

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Have you been privy to see couples where one of the parties looked like they couldn’t lift an arm without the help of the other obviously stronger person? I’m sure we all know a couple or two who fit this narrative. Well, the shocking fact is that the partner who looks weak in this relationship is actually the stronger person.

All decisions are made for them and i need you to understand that not deciding on something by itself is a choice. So when you are saddled with that choice, you are responsible for the outcome of that decision.

This simply implies that choosing the wrong school for the kids or the best supermarket to shop at gives room for passive aggressive behavior such as the silent treatment or tantrums. This is a strong tool when it comes to control because whoever you are always worried about what their perception of you is has you contained.

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E THE OPPORTUNIST

These are the ones who trap you in a one lane relationship where you keep giving and never receiving. They usually start off as charming, warm and nice people. And they are as long as they are on the receiving end of everything they need from you. It could be material, financial, status or more but the opportunist will always drain your energy and leave the moment someone else who can do more for them turns up.

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Most of them would sometime provide favors that really dont cost them anything. For the untrained eye these are favors but for the trained, they only just gave you another “Reason”. Another reason why you should keep doing what you do for them. Don’t get trapped in their web because it’s usually a trap that doesn’t ever let you go until what it is you offer them is totally gone. This makes them one of the most dangerous toxic types you could ever come across.

F THE RHINO

Control through intimidation is one of the classic tell-tale signs of a toxic partner. You have arguments that never seem to arrive at a logical conclusion and to make matters worse, you dont even want to argue healthily with them. Why i ask? Simply because they can hold a grudge for the next two weeks when things don’t go their way. You have the enabling partner living under an atmosphere of uncertainty because the toxic partner is unpredictable and prone to outbursts anytime. The sad thing about confronting this type of toxic partner is that they always have a way of turning the tables. You suddenly become the one who makes them rage, curse and yell. This ability to disown their dysfunction would remain the same reason they battle it. That rage is an expression almost like that of a petulant child when they do not get what they ask for.

The dangerous aspect of this toxic type is the draining effect they have on your mental and emotional well-being. Let me explain. Someone who goes into a rage when they cannot get their way know it’s less than desirable so they go through their lives developing a persona that perfectly masks this. For these individuals, they appear to be the angels in their relationships and the abused seem to be the irrational ones that can never be pleased.

G THE SKILLED DODGER

Have you ever gotten to a point where you felt so selfish after you tried having a discussion with your partner. This discussion did not start out with you or anything you’d done but instead was supposed to address something that hurt you. Now you are apologizing and wishing you never mentioned what it was eating you up. This type are evasive in their approach to pertinent life issues.

They are almost never confrontational but will deflect from important topics and make you feel guilty if you try to hold them to commitments of any kind.

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H THE LONE RANGER

This toxic type is a very interesting one because what makes them risky is the same thing that may have attracted you to them. Their lack of COMMITMENT. They have become masters at hiding their true intent. You can have countless sessions with this type and never know what you are up against because they usually turn up for sessions solo with a great narrative of their quest for independent positive change. However, the they are like spiders who spin a web and let you trap yourself because the fact that they do not offer you any form of emotional or physical commitments in relationships.

Are you constantly trying to find out if your partner still loves you, think your beautiful, still finds you sexually attractive and so on? You might just be in the presence of a Lone ranger type. Their approach leaves you out in the cold “emotional wild”. This type will slowly erode your self-confidence.

Now that You’ve met Them All, Let’s Talk.

Every now and then i know partners may try to make their significant other feel guilty, trigger insecurity or simply appear helpless just to achieve some goal. This points to our imperfections as human and shows that every relationship if deeply scrutinized has a measure of toxicity. The real issues start when the toxicity level becomes higher than it ought to be. How do you know when it’s become too high you might ask? my answer to that question is this. “When you and your partner can’t laugh about it even after either one of you discovered the other person tripped them up”.

THE FACT

Toxic people are usually individuals who have an underlying fear that they aren’t lovable. This is also the same issue with people who allow themselves become entangled in toxic relationships. Narcissism also plays a part in this dynamic because most of these toxic types possess inflated egos and an overtly blown-out perception of themselves thereby believing that they are doing a favor for anyone else in their lives. However, i’d like to mention that narcissism is the response the human gives when it has insecurity or esteem issues.

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Many clients who have been caught up in toxic relationships are there because of the atmosphere of fear created by the toxic partner. This simply means that lots of people in these types of relationships keep enduring the maltreatment for the fear of loosing the relationship. If you

This brings up the question and the problem of what to do if you’re in a toxic relationship. Many of my clients initially come to me with the hope that I will give them a magical tool that will “fix” their toxic partner, or, at the very least, for me to sympathize with them and agree how bad their partner is. While catharsis may give temporary relief, it isn’t lasting. And while there certainly are things an individual can do to attempt to change the way a toxic partner behaves, most of my clients are often hesitant to do them, fearing their toxic partner may leave the relationship.

Is There a Solution?

Yes there is one solution i employ when it comes to healing clients from a toxic relationship and it is called “Catharsis“. This is simply a psychoanalytic approach that brings emotions associated with trauma to the surface and then forcefully releases them. This best occurs under hypnosis..

Prior to confronting a toxic partner, ensure that your confidence and esteem levels are in a really good place because you run the risk of ending your relationship as most toxic personalities would either not accept their faults or simply pretend to only to inflict more damage when their partners guard is down. For individuals who are not in a mentally strong place, look for a good counselor near you or online and get some assistance.

The fact that someone else refuses to change does not mean that you cannot change yourself. This is one of the best ways to get feedback from a stubborn partner who wouldn’t accept his own bit of the fault or even go for a psychotherapy session. The moment you understand that you deserve love, compassion, respect and more, that’s the game changer.

PRACTICAL STEPS:

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  1. If your partner has a history of physical abuse, write down what you need from them and divide it under three segments such as where we are, the effect on me/us & Where i’d love us to be. This will help you detail everything that you are not cool with in the relationship. Once you are done with this, inform them you have something you wrote that would help your relationship heal and grow.
  2. If your partner isn’t physical, gently ask for a sit down with them and detail every single thing you would like to change. They can ask their questions or make their comments when you are done.
  3. Get ready in some extreme cases of partner abuse for a turn up of the heat you are currently facing. The obsessive controlling behavior may spiral but you are already in a healthy emotional and mental place. When met with this response, i always ask my clients to remain calm and ask for a clean 2 week break that will allow everyone re-assess their emotions. For married couples, you can take a 3 day break from Friday morning to Sunday evening at your parents (if the relationship hasn’t cost you that privilege or at a friends). 3 days is enough for anyone who loves you to initiate something.
  4. After the hiatus, repeat your request again and clearly state that you may not remain in the relationship if the emotional abuse continues.If your partner agrees to work on changing themselves and then relapses again, you can repeat this cycle with them 2 more times.
  5. If this abusive other is a parent, you still need to “respectfully” confront the abusive behavior with the help of a professional psychotherapist around you or with the support of a partner or sibling. If after confronting this behavior it still persists, you will need to take control of the relationship and while you may not be abandoning the parent, you might need to limit contact for some time until this guides them to seeking the help they need.
  6. You did not try to change the toxic partner by threatening them, you meant every word of it and that’s why you did it. So the thing is this. You may have to actually leave if things don’t change especially if there are elements of physical abuse involved.

I understand that months or maybe years of being in a toxic relationship can rob you off the last vestiges of self-esteem. This may make you feel slightly unsure if confronting the toxic partner is a really good idea. Asides from everything i have mentioned here, there are books on the internet that could help you improve your confidence and esteem because i know that once you have fixed those, you would know what your next best steps are.

As always, i hope this piece on “Toxic relationships: the toxic, the victim & the solution” helped someone. If you are struggling with a toxic relationship and would love to talk about it, You know how to reach me. Don’t wait until it affects your career, family life or more before seeking help.

Written by Obike Temple

A Counselor, psychotherapist, brand-Sage and entrepreneur who has counseled over three-hundred couples, individuals, substance abuse and grief-stricken clients.

For more information on related issues and to schedule an appointment with “Temple’s Counsel” visit our counseling page, chat us up via our website or send a whatsapp message to +2348109055475.

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HOW TO

200 Couple “Must-Ask” Questions

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200 Couple “Must-Ask” Questions.

Whether you are a new couple, or you’ve been a couple for years and years, we’ve got loads of
questions for couples that will be perfect for getting a great conversation going.
Some questions are more serious than others so have a look through and see which questions for
couples are right for you and your partner. Infact, with the valentine season fast approaching there’s no perfect time to get to know your partner better.

Let’s go!

Getting to know your partner questions
One of the most important things in a relationship is learning about your partner. You can know what to
expect from them and can figure out if you two are a good match.

What’s your ideal way to spend a vacation?
What makes you dislike a person?
Do you think you are a confident person? Why or why not?
What about yourself are you most proud of?
What would the best version of you be like?
What life experiences did you miss out on?
When are you the most “you”?
How did you fall out with some of your previously close friends?
Are you happy with the people you surround yourself with? Why or why not?
What musical instrument do you wish you could play?
When has a mundane occurrence or chance completely changed the course of your life?
What is the nicest compliment you’ve received?
What age would you like to live to?
If you could travel to any country in the world for one month, where would you go?
What is your favorite memory of someone who isn’t in your life anymore?
How superstitious are you?
What has been a recurring theme in your life?
What was your most inappropriate or embarrassing fart?
What do you think happens after death?
What are your top 5 rules for life?
What’s your favorite thing in your / our house?
What book or movie do you wish you could experience for the first time again?
If you had a friend who spoke to you the same way you speak to yourself, would you keep them as a
friend?
What petty thing that people do really gets on your nerves?
What brings meaning to your life?
What is something you wish you could say to people but can’t?
What are some of the most attractive traits a person can have?
What’s a secret you’ve never told anyone?
What small pleasures do you enjoy the most?
Who is the most irritating person you know?
What has been your biggest screw up so far?
What have you struggled with your entire life?
What is the most significant change you would like to make in your life?
What do you want out of life?
What calms you down the most?
What are kinds of things do you find repulsive?
What would your perfect life look like?
If you received a salary to follow whatever passion you wanted to, what would you do?
What’s your most embarrassing story about being sick?
What friend have you not thought about in a long time?
What’s the craziest thing that has happened at a job you worked at?
Who do you act nice around but secretly dislike?
If money was no object, and with no input from me, how would you decorate your / our house?
How good are you at reading people?
Are you hopeful about your future?
Who do you want to be more like or who do you look up to most?
What were the healthiest and unhealthiest periods of your life?
What’s the worst emotional or mental anguish you’ve endured?
What do you like most about where we live?
What do you worry about?
What’s something you screwed up and then tried to hide?
What’s the scariest / creepiest place you have ever been?
Do you think the world is improving or getting worse? Why?
How do you think society is changing? Do you think we’ll change with it?
What’s the worst thing that people are proud of?
What’s the biggest betrayal you have ever experienced?
What would be the greatest gift to receive?
What is something that you are dreading?
What makes you feel super fancy?
What would you want your obituary to say?
What has taken up too much of your life?
What’s the most disheartening and heartening realization you have come to?
What was the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
Would you take 3 million dollars if it meant that the person you hate most in the world gets 9 million?
What part of you as a person still needs a lot of work?
What are some words of wisdom that have stuck with you all these years?
How well do you know yourself?
What is your best (not worst) flaw?
How forgiving are you?
Tell me about a time you almost died.
Are you ashamed of anything you did in the past? If you are comfortable talking about it, what was it?
Do you prefer living in the countryside, in a town, or in a big city? Why?
What’s your fondest memory of a tree?
What are some of the most pleasant sensations for you?
Are you happy with the career path you chose or do you wish you had chosen a different career?
What’s the most unethical thing you do regularly?
What is way more difficult than it sounds?
What job do you think you were born to do?
What’s the biggest financial mistake you’ve made?
What makes you lose faith in humanity when you think about it?
What was the most painful thing to hear?
What biases do you think you have?
What are you battling that you don’t tell anyone about?
What luxury do you enjoy treating yourself to?
What do you most like to do when you have alone time?
What is normal now that will be considered unethical and barbaric in 100 years?
When you’re gone when you want to be remembered for?
If there was a horrible accident and you were unconscious and on life support, how long would you
want to be on life support?
Do you believe in good luck and bad luck? How about things that are lucky or unlucky?
If you had a million dollars to give to any charity, what type of charity would you give it to?
What’s something that a lot of people are afraid of, but you aren’t?
If you could open a business what type of business would you open?
What can someone do that makes them immediately unattractive to you, no matter how attractive they
are physically?
What untrue thing did you believe for an incredibly long time?
What were the three most important turning points in your life?
What animal are you most afraid of?
What scandal happened in your neighbor or town when you were growing up?
How well do you think you would handle prison?
What’s the most awkward social situation you’ve been in?
What is something that scares you on a daily basis?
When was the last time you cried?
What’s the most peaceful/restful night of sleep you’ve had?
What’s the most dangerous, thrill-seeking thing you would consider doing?
What’s your biggest regret?
Is it better to trust people or not trust people? And why?
What do you think your best and worst personality traits are?
Who do you miss the most?
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve had to learn?
What do you take for granted?
What’s the most stressful situation you’ve been in? How did you handle it?
What’s the most ambitious thing you’ve attempted?
How often do you change your opinions or how you view the world?
What’s the biggest opportunity you were given?
What is something we should enjoy more because it won’t be around for long?
What’s a question you wish people would ask more often?
What is the saddest thing about your life that nobody knows?
What are you most sentimental about?
Do you think people more people look down on you or up to you? Why?
What question do you most want an answer to?
What are some of the telltale signs of a shallow person?
What do you look forward to most in the day?
If you could instantly learn a talent or skill, what would you want to know how to do?
When is your favorite time of day?
What are the best and worst things about the period of history we are living through?
What’s the most rewarding thing in your daily routine?
What weird thing stresses you out more than it should?
When do you feel like you are really in your element?
How likely are you to believe in conspiracy theories?
What are some alcohol-induced stories of your younger days?
What’s the best way for someone to improve themselves?
What was the most productive time in your life? How about the least productive?
What three words best describe you?
How well do you function under a lot of pressure?
What is your weakness?
What are two of the most important events in your life?
What is something you know is bad for you but you can’t seem to get away from it?
What’s the biggest favor you’ve done for someone?
How does your current morning routine compare to your ideal morning routine?
What brings you the most joy?
What are you purposefully ignoring even though you know you should probably deal with it?
What do you wish you were better at?
Is there anything you did wrong for years and years, only to discover later that you were doing it wrong?

Questions about their family and childhood

When you are looking for relationship questions, it’s always important to ask about family and
childhood. Knowing where your partner came from can help you understand how they are now.

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What is something your parents did or used to do that really embarrassed you?
What small seemingly insignificant thing did your parents, or someone else say when you were a child
that has stuck with you all this time?
What is the best or worst thing you inherited from your parents?
What made you realize that your parents were just human like everyone else?
What habits do you still have from childhood?
What family vacations did you take as a child?
How traditionally “normal” was your family?
Children are often very similar to their parents. How do you want to be different than your parents? And
how do you want to be similar to them?
What school subjects did you like and hate most when you were in school?
What unique game of pretend did you frequently play as a child?
What movie seriously scarred you as a child or as an adult?
What irrational fears did you have as a child?
What toy played the most significant part in your childhood?
What are some of your earliest memories?

Relationship questions
Here are the main questions for couples that deal with the relationship itself. It’s important to be nonjudgmental when asking and answering these questions. It’s not about telling your partner the things
they do wrong or the things you want from them. It’s about working together as a couple to build a
healthy relationship.

What is something I did that you thought was exceptionally kind or thoughtful?
What new hobbies or activities would you like to try together as a couple?
What’s our greatest strength as a couple?
What could we do to make our relationship stronger?
What is something small that we can do daily for each other to make our lives better?
How much space / alone time should people in a relationship give each other?
What questions should partners ask each other before getting married?
What do I do that makes you the happiest?
How important is it for individuals in a relationship to maintain their own separate identity?
What makes our relationship better than other relationships?
What do you think our life will look like in 10 years?
What do you think would bring us closer together as a couple?
What kind of memories do you want to make together?
What do you think the most essential thing in a successful relationship is?
What’s your favorite way we spend time together?
What’s your favorite gift I’ve given you?
Where do you want to live when we retire?
In what areas do you think our personalities complement each other? (i.e. One is too reckless, and the
other is too cautious, and it balances out to a happy medium.)
How well do you think we communicate?
What adventure would you like to go on with me?
What’s the best relationship advice you’ve received?
What are some things you really like about me?
What do you think the hardest thing about marriage/being in a relationship is?
What can I do to most help us?
What do you see as your role in our relationship?
What would be a deal breaker for our relationship, something you couldn’t forgive?
What makes us different than other couples?
What do you think would be the best way to strengthen our relationship?
What are some of your relationship goals?
How realistic do you think couples in movies and TV are?
What does a happy and healthy relationship look like to you?

Couple questions about sex
Sex is an important topic to talk about in any relationship. It’s important to know what each of you
considers a healthy and enjoyable sex life.

How well do you think our sex drives match up?
How important do you think sex is in our relationship?
What are you into, but haven’t told me about?
What do I do in bed that drives you wild?
What is the most adventurous thing you’ve done sexually?
Besides orgasms, what is the best part of sex?
What’s the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while having sex?
When am I at my sexiest?
What would you like me to do in the bedroom to spice things up a bit?
What’s better than great sex?
What do I do outside the bedroom that turns you on?

Couple questions about having kids
It is vital that a couple is on the same page when it comes to kids. There can be a lot of strife and
heartache in a relationship if one partner absolutely wants kids and the other doesn’t, or if you both
have wildly different expectations for raising children.

Do you eventually want to have children? How many children do you eventually want? Why?
What’s the worst parenting mistake a couple can make?
What is the best way to raise children?
How would we know if we did our job as parents well?
Do you think it is more important for a couple with kids to focus on the kids more or each other more?
Why?
How do you think having kids will / has changed our lives and relationship?

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FOOD & CUISINE

14 Ways to Eat Less Sugar Without Missing It

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This article was made available courtesy of eatingwell.com

A life without any sugar is a life we don’t want to live. And thankfully, experts say you don’t need to eliminate it from your diet. But shaving off some grams here and there is something most of us should be doing. “I’m not of the view that we should be draconian about this,” says Mattes. “Sugars do add palatability. And the most nutritious diet, if it’s not palatable, will have no health benefit—because people won’t eat it.” These strategies can help you find that balance.

1. Utilize the new added sugar line on labels

“Always check the Nutrition Facts panel to see how much added sugar is in a product—like cereal or yogurt—and compare it to other brands,” says University of Thessaly nutritionist and epidemiologist Renata Micha. “Between two or three options, you can aim for the one that has less added sugar.”

2. Target your weaknesses

In the U.S., most added sugar comes from the following five sources: sweetened beverages; desserts and sweet snacks; sweetened coffees and teas; candy and other sugars (jams, syrups, toppings); and breakfast cereals and granola bars. Figure out which category you tend to get the most added sugar from and start cutting back there. You’ll get the greatest reduction in overall sugar and boost in health benefits, says Ewoldt.

3. Look for high-quality carbs

Many packaged products—tortillas, granola bars—fall into a nutritional gray zone. They may be made with whole grains (good) and still contain lots of sugar (not so good). Even more stealthily, the front of the package may declare “no added sugars,” but the manufacturer has replaced this nutrient with something else, such as refined starches that have no fiber and affect your body in ways similar to added sugars. “So it’s important to assess overall carb quality, not just sugar alone,” says Micha.

One simple way to do that: use the 10-to-1 metric. This means for every 10 grams of total carbohydrate that a product contains, 1 gram or more should be fiber. (It’s based on the ratio of total carb to fiber found in whole wheat.) Micha and her colleagues discovered that when they applied this trick to U.S. supermarket foods, it quickly identified items with higher-quality carbs that also happened to be lower in sugar. And they were healthier in general—lower in sodium and higher in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B , vitamin E, zinc and iron.

14 Ways to Eat Less Sugar Without Missing It

4. Don’t drink your sugar

You know that soda is potum non grata, but other sugary beverages may slip past your nutritional radar. Coffee drinks like a bottled Frappuccino can have 34 grams of added sugar, and one 20-ounce sports drink packs as much as 48 grams—which is just about 100% of your daily limit. (For comparison, a can of Coke has 39 grams.) “Sports drinks serve a purpose for elite athletes, or let’s face it, when we’re sick with the flu or prepping for a colonoscopy. But for everyone else, just choose water,” says Nancy Farrell Allen, M.S., RDN, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And let’s not forget cocktails. Alcohol itself contains no or very little sugar, but when you add the coffee liqueur to your ‘tini—that’s when the grams can go through the roof.

By eliminating even one sugary beverage a day and instead sipping water with a squeeze of lime or orange for flavor, you can dramatically reduce your sugar intake—especially given that sweetened beverages are the single largest source of added sugar in the American diet, says Micha. You could also try drinking seltzer in fun flavors, infusing your water with fresh fruit or eating an apple or orange alongside a glass of ice water. We love the Strawberry, Basil & Lime Infused Water pictured above.

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5. Take your time

All of our experts recommend weaning yourself off sweetness slowly. Do you add sugar to your coffee or tea? Then use a little less tomorrow. A few days later, dial it back a bit more. Studies show that reducing sugar by 5 to 20%—equivalent to deleting about 4 to 12 grams daily—is not noticeable, and that over time your perception of sweetness intensity changes. In one trial, people who limited their sugar intake for 2 to 3 months rated pudding as much sweeter than those who did not.

6. Be wary of packaged bars

We love the grab-and-go convenience of them, but granola and energy bars supply a lot of the added sugar in our diets. So scan for ones that are low in sugar and as minimally processed as possible (short ingredients list of recognizable whole foods). They often taste just as good and can save you 5 to 15 grams of added sugars (that’s between 1 and 4 teaspoons of sugar) per bar! Even better, put a handful of nuts, seeds and oats, plus some unsweetened coconut flakes and a few dark chocolate chips (11 of them only have 2 grams of added sugar) in a travel container for a snack that’s packed with nutrients, protein, fiber and very little sugar.

If you want to go above and beyond, make your own. It’s a great way to keep sugar in check and customize the flavors to meet your preference.

7. Swap your yogurt for skyr

This Icelandic-style yogurt is made using different types of cultures than the standard kind you may be used to, giving it a thick, creamy consistency and less sour taste. And even the flavored varieties of skyr tend to have about one-third less added sugar than other flavored yogurts—which can be quite high in them.

8. Get enough sleep

The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours a night—yet more than 35% of Americans get less than that. Missing out on zzz’s can monkey with your hunger hormones, making you crave sugary foods (and salty ones too). However, in a review of seven clinical studies published in the Journal of Sleep Research, participants who increased their sleep duration—by anywhere from 21 minutes to 3 hours a night—had better insulin sensitivity as well as reductions in appetite, sweet cravings and sugar intake.

14 Ways to Eat Less Sugar Without Missing It
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES / PETER DAZELEY

9. Trick your palate

Studies have shown that sweetness can be amplified by concurrently stimulating your other senses, says experimental psychologist Qian Janice Wang, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University in Denmark. One strategy to try: Sniff cinnamon, vanilla, cherry, almond, caramel, pineapple, pomegranate, strawberry or banana before a meal or with your food. It can make you think what you’re eating is 5 to 25% sweeter than it would taste without one of these aromas. “The smell-taste interaction together form this perception of flavor. And that’s because when we smell something, the mind is already forming expectations that it’s a sweet food,” explains Wang. “So if you have cinnamon-vanilla oatmeal every day, and you gradually reduce the sugar, by the end it may be enough to have the cinnamon and vanilla without the sugar.”

10. Avoid sneaky sources

Sugar isn’t just added to make foods taste better. It also acts as a preservative that extends shelf life and prevents staleness, makes pastries tender by preventing gluten formation and encourages fermentation by providing food for yeast, allowing breads to rise, among other qualities. For these reasons, food manufacturers add sugar not just to traditionally sweet foods, but to tons of savory ones, as well. “For example, the other day I picked up a tofu, broccoli and brown rice frozen meal—can you get much healthier than that? But when I looked at the label, it had 17 grams of added sugar, most of it from the sauce,” says Andromalos. Check out our list of sneaky sources that can easily add up. Another reason to read and compare labels!

14 Ways to Eat Less Sugar Without Missing It
CREDIT: THE VOORHES

11. Use less sugar in your baking

“Recipes for things like cookies and cakes often call for more sugar than is necessary— so you can play around and see how much you can simply leave out,” says EatingWell recipe tester and developer Laura Kanya, who suggests removing a small amount and going from there. She was able to use one-third less sugar in the Raspberry Swirl Brownies here compared to a typical brownie recipe. The cocoa and pureed raspberries add richness and natural sweetness. “Sugar does impact the moistness, texture and browning of baked goods, so you may notice a difference there,” adds Kanya.

12. Roast your veggies

Rather than steaming or sautéing vegetables and relying on dressings and sauces (which often contain added sugars) to jazz them up, pop them in a 450°F oven. It caramelizes the natural sugars and makes them taste sweeter and more intense, says sensory scientist and dietitian Sungeun Choi, Ph.D., RDN, an associate professor in the department of family, nutrition and exercise sciences at New York’s Queens College.

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13. Add it on top of baked goods

Sprinkling a small amount of coarse sugar on homemade, lower-sugar muffins, quick breads and cookies “delivers that extreme burst of sweetness and crunch with each bite, so you’re less likely to miss the sugar within the cookie or muffin,” says Andromalos.

14. Bake with natural sweeteners

Replace some of the sugar with mashed bananas or other fruits, unsweetened applesauce or blended dates, cooked sweet potatoes or prunes. This will also add moisture. “It’s a great way of getting some extra vitamins and minerals as well,” says Andromalos. “We used pineapple to sweeten our Pineapple Morning Glory Muffins—slashing the sugar content in half compared to similar muffins,” says Kanya. “And grating it incorporates the fruit into the batter.”

15. Trade flavor for sugar

The more taste you’re able to eke out of every recipe, the less sweet stuff you’ll need. “Our Cider-Sweetened Apple Pie contains less than half the added sugar of a typical recipe,” says Kanya. “How did we do it? By reducing already-sweet apple cider into a concentrated syrup.” It counts as added sugar, but the difference is we don’t need to use as much sweetener overall because the syrup’s intense flavor fools your taste buds into thinking the pie is sweeter than it actually is. You can apply this same technique to other recipes—and experiment with reducing different juices.

This article first appeared in EatingWell, September 2021

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HEALTH

Grief and Loss, How to Cope with Them

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Losing anything of value is never easy. Coping with grief and loss must be done your right way. Sadly, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Regardless of the type of loss you are faced with, the only thing required is that you understand the stages of grief and where you currently are on them. This understanding will provide you with healthier coping options.

WHAT DOES GRIEF MEAN?

When you lose something of great importance, your natural emotional and painful response to it is grief.  Sometimes it comes with various reactions such as guilt, disbelief, deep sadness, health disruption, insomnia, inability to eat amongst so many things. Everything i mentioned here is normal when you are faced with grief. Your grief could come as a result of losing your health, a job, a relationship, a loved one, a miscarriage, a career dream, a friendship, a safety net after infidelity or even moving homes amongst many other reasons.

I see many couples and individuals sit across me and narrate their experiences with grief. Despite the many responses to grief, one thing that you cannot take away is that the intensity of your grief is always directly proportional to the significance of your loss.

Due to the personal nature of loss, i do not expect you to grieve like any other person. This means that there is no shame with how you decide to grieve. The only thing i want you to understand is that there are stages to grieving and you must understand what stage you are in to enable yourself transition from that stage, get a new perspective on the matter and then begin to move on from the heaviness you feel.

The Sad Honest Truth About Grief

Be it the loss of a parent, child, partner, spouse, relative, friend or colleague at work, It’s all pain and you may not ever get over this loss. However, time is what truly does the magic for you because your sorrow eases, you face the loss and then gradually begin to move on from that point.

Now that you understand how unique grieving is to every individual, you must also know that what separates everyone in grief are their beliefs, their faith, previous experiences with grieving, their coping styles and lastly their personality. Do not expect to recover immediately with actual loss of a loved one, or try to heal after replacing the job, house or opportunity you lost with a new one. It takes time. While some start to feel better in weeks and months, the measurement for others grieving is usually in years.

THE PROPER WAY TO GRIEVE

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You must understand somethings about grief as this gives you an edge;

A) IF you feel pain, do not pretend it does not exists simply because you want to appear strong. This act will keep you trapped in one stage of grief longer than expected. Weakness or Strength are not the consideration at this point. Pain is.

B) Do not try to grieve the way you have seen a sibling, spouse, parent or someone else go about it. That is their own way. Trying to emulate them in this regard may not work for you and could end up doing more damage than good.

C) It’s not time to be alone with yourself and misery. Get the support of your loved ones and others who truly care about your well-being. Staying alone is not the solution to numbing the pain.

D) The feeling of grief will make you laugh, cry, smile, talk to yourself and so on. In extreme cases, clients have mentioned that grief made them romanticize with thoughts around death and suicide. Especially for individuals who lost a spouse.

E) Your emotions are not stable when you are grieving. This is what grief does to you. Forcing yourself to stabilize your emotions is not the key. Recognizing the emotions you feel is the real solution.

Available on Podcast:

Learning about the 5 stages of grief

Denial: This is the phase where an individual hasn’t yet come to terms with what has happened. The associated shock or emotional overwhelm dissociates the victim in such a way that the circumstances look like an unfolding movie plot with them as spectators.

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Anger: At this point, a realization dawns on the individual. This comes with an intense anger that has the individual lashing out angrily and questioning a lot of things.

Bargaining: The need to have this happen to distance oneself from the flurry of negative emotions suddenly triggers an emotion that wants to pass on the grief to some other person, place etc. With this comes a negotiation where depending on the spiritual beliefs of the individual sees them bargaining , going on a spiritual deep dive all in a bid to reverse the situation.

Depression: This is a phase characterized by intense sadness that comes once you start to understand the situation isn’t particularly going anywhere or changing.

Acceptance: After healthily negotiating the first phases of grief, the individual now understands that the situation truly occurred. At this point, you come to terms with the pain and truly start to own the emotions you are feeling. It is from this stage that healing starts.

Despite the fact that I have listed these phases, it would be important to note that not everyone navigates grief by following these exact steps. Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist who first intimated us with these stages of grief never intended for these stages to be a rigid framework applicable to anyone mourning. I have seen clients who went straight to acceptance from the denial stage and just when everybody else affected was struggling with denial, these individuals were already available to assist their spouse, partner, siblings or friends with their own grief.

Coping with grief and loss by temple obike

Dear therapist

Grieving and loss is a bespoke experience for everyone. The circumstances may be similar but the effect on the mourner is unique. Hence for younger therapists, there is a need to make clients identify what stage they currently find themselves in. As important as this is, it is better to allow them speak first, tell a story, relive their experiences with the deceased and as you listen with your ears and observe with your entire being, you are bound to start discovering for yourself, where exactly they are with the grieving process (even if it doesn’t quite tally with any of the stages.

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I truly hope this piece throws a lot more clarity on your current struggles with navigating loss. We are here to support you through your loss and believe that your complete healing is not too far away.

Written by Obike Temple.
Temple Obike is a licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker, author and psychotherapist who has counseled over one thousand, two hundred clients comprising of couples, individuals, abuse victims (substance, physical, emotional and sexual) and grief-stricken clients. With over 100,000 in-counseling minutes accrued in practice.
He runs his private psychotherapy & counseling practice out of Lagos, Nigeria and has counseling centers in Abuja and Port-Harcourt. His practice also provides options for both online and on-site services. His private practice has positively empowered lives through his online counseling, podcasts, free advisory services and free online materials.  
Readership of his articles also receive a growing number of visitors alongside subscriptions to his email newsletter at templescounsel.com. His passion for empowering and uncovering the secrets to lifelong marriages and personal development led to his new book titled “Soul Bodega” available on amazon and across other online and traditional stores.Never give up on yourself! You are a journey happening through various destinations. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit our website for more info!
https://templescounsel.com/how-to-find-your-real-purpose-in-life-stay-authentic/
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BUSINESS

Advertising Market Leaders Give 5 Marketing Musts for 2023

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1. Recognize the increasingly important role of video Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing & communications officer at Mastercard talked about how video is a critical component of his business’s marketing mix. “It’s where you’re able to evoke the right emotions,” he said. “You’re able to connect with consumers to tell the story the right way, and to impress upon them the message you’re trying to convey. Video is front and center in whatever we do.” Twitter’s director, client services – retail & travel, Alex Kennedy, agreed: “Video is core to any good strategic marketing plan. Whether your objective is awareness, consideration, or even priming consumers for lower-funnel objectives like conversion, there is a role for video. And the reason is because consumers are consistently watching more video, specifically online digital video.” Kennedy also stressed the importance of understanding both the customer and their viewing context to get the most out of video. “You have to reach your consumer where they are and how they’re watching,” she explained. “That means you have to create bespoke content for the environment. That’s what’s going to be key.” 2. Make the most of the data mix, utilizing both first- and third-party data The level of understanding Kennedy described requires a data strategy that recognizes the role all the different types of data have to play. This point was picked up by Sean Popen, executive vice-president, outcome navigator at Interpublic’s activation intelligence company Matterkind. “A tactic that we’re seeing working is using a combination of first, second- and third-party data, which allows brands to tap in and get that additional reach,” he said. This view was echoed by Dawn Williamson, senior vice-president, head of sales development at Comcast’s advertising sales division, Effectv, who stressed the importance of using data to target audiences: “It’s going to be less about ‘I want to be in this show’ and more about ‘Where’s my audience, and where are they consuming content?’ because, as an advertiser, that’s where I want to be.”

3. Overcome the challenges of a fragmented viewing audience According to Dave Pajeau, executive director of programmatic/advanced TV for Effectv, video advertising will only continue to get more fragmented as more providers come in. For him, the key will be to integrate the traditional and streaming experiences, enabling measurement and targeting against the two together. “There’s a tremendous amount of viewership that still exists through traditional linear channels, and that now co-exists with new viewership through streaming platforms,” he said. “They work best together, but you have to know the right allocation for your brand and audience. So in 2023 we’ll start moving towards true cross-screen delivery, audience delivery and measurement.” 4. Understand how the consumption of advertising has evolved Brian Wallach is head of revenue for programmatic TV sales platform AudienceXpress. In his view, successful advertisers are those who understand there’s no longer one single consumer journey, no matter what the brand or sector. “Successful advertisers are consumers themselves, and oftentimes they admit they watch content in different ways,” he explained. “So now their planning and execution of media is adapting so that, if their desired audience isn’t all coming from traditional linear TV, they’re able to optimize and adapt and run media against other channels. We call these fluidity deals in the industry, where it’s less about whether it’s linear TV or digital, and more about reaching the right audience in quality programming.” For Effectv’s Williamson, it once again comes back to understanding your customers. “Clients and advertisers are really focusing on consumer behavior, and they’re studying where ad consumption is happening. So it’s less about connected TV or video-on-demand (VOD), and more about looking at the entire TV ecosystem to ensure they’re targeting the right audiences as they’re looking to get their message out there.” 5. Value a ‘one viewer’ solution Being able to track and measure viewing behavior across multiple platforms is the crucial piece of the puzzle. It will improve brands’ understanding of their customers, solve ad frequency problems and allow sequential messaging. It will also allow more accurate attribution, improving media planning and increasing efficiency. That’s why Elizabeth Luciano, senior vice-president, marketing & brand strategy at broadcaster A+E Networks, is keen to encourage everyone in the video advertising space to work together to make the ‘one viewer’ solution happen. “It’s going to be so important,” she said. “We want to deliver content when and where people want to watch it. In order to do that, we need to see how they travel across platforms.”

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Learn from your experiences

Perhaps the final word goes to Soyoung Kang, chief marketing officer at beauty brand eos. As marketers start to think about the trends that will define their 2023, she urged them to also remember the lessons of the last few years. “As we try to understand how to navigate this macroeconomic climate, it’s really important for us as marketers to continue to push forward,” she said. “We have to stay agile. We’ve built all of these muscles during the pandemic where we needed to be able to shift investments as circumstances changed. It’s time to exercise those muscles again.”
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