Tag - Joyce and Barry Vissell

To Really Choose a Man

by Joyce & Barry Vissell

To really love a man is to choose him over and over again. It’s not enough to say marriage vows one time, though that is certainly important. The relationship is deepened if you let him know often that you would choose him all over again if given the choice.

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There are many things that stand in the way of a woman clearly choosing her partner as the most important person in her life. For many women, their children become more important than the man in their life, even if that man happens to be the father of the children. Having raised three children, I certainly understand this pull to make the children more important. I was a hands-on stay-at-home mother. I was and still am so in love with our children. When our first child, Rami, was born, I thought she was the cutest thing in the whole world. If I was in a room and she walked in after being away for a while with Barry, I would make such a big fuss over her and go on and on about how cute she was. If Barry walked in right after her, I would look at him and think to myself, “What could he do right now to help me.” He was becoming more of my helper than my partner. All of my adoration was going to Rami. One day Barry sat down next to me and said in a vulnerable voice, “I wish you could be as enthusiastic when I enter the room as you are with Rami.”

He was absolutely right. I was giving a clear message that I was choosing Rami over him. I vowed to stop that right away. From then on, I sincerely tried to be enthusiastic about both of them. I vowed to stop seeing Barry simply as someone who could help me with the children, and see him as my partner, the man that I love and adore. From that time on, I made a point to let him know I would choose him again if given the choice. I also tell him I feel I made the best choice in a husband.

A woman’s friends can also stand in the way of her choosing her husband or partner. I know women who would much rather spend time with their women friends than their partners. As a woman, I know how vitally important it is to have women friends. I know that most women feel they could not even survive this life without their women friends or, in some cases, their sisters. There are so many gifts that come from having women friends, like receiving their understanding of your feelings, body changes, mothering issues, or just the special bonding that can happen between women. However, some women do this to excess in which they are clearly choosing their women friends over the man in their life. The man is relegated to the background. He becomes a convenient person to watch the children, earn money, or help with the house. If the man feels second to the women friends, he will then go off and develop his own interests, and soon the two are merely passing each other as strangers in their home. This cycle will get worse unless there is a renewed choosing of each other.

Interestingly, body image can also become more important to a woman than the man she loves. Of course, exercise and working out is important in a woman’s life, but not more than choosing love. She can become too preoccupied with how she looks. Hour upon hour can be spent in the gym sculpting a certain look to her body.

Sometimes women choose their family of origin over their partner. Their siblings and parents become more important than the men in their lives. I know several men who have to spend every single holiday and vacation with the women’s family. One man lamented that he thought he was marrying one woman when instead he married her whole family of fifteen members. Every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and each and every vacation he had from work was spent with her family. It was hard to feel the togetherness in their relationship around so many people. When he once asked if they could just spend one vacation totally alone, not only did she refuse, but he also then had her whole family upset with him for even coming up with the suggestion. This man loved his wife very much and did not want to leave her, but he always felt secondary to her family.

Career is another factor that can prevent a woman from really choosing her man. She and her partner may have come to agreements on childcare and hours of work. And yet, because it is harder for a woman in the professional workforce to prove herself, she may feel driven to spend many extra hours at night preparing for the next day. Doing well in her career may be her top priority and her partner may find himself further and further down her list.

Even spirituality can get in the way of a woman choosing her man. I consider spirituality very important, really the most important thing in life. And yet, even in this area, women can sometimes make unhealthy choices.

In our counseling practice, we sometimes will ask a couple if they would choose each other again. I will never forget the look on one man’s face when his wife, without any doubt in her voice, said she would choose him again and again. The man burst into tears. He had been convinced that she was merely tolerating the relationship. His heart opened wide just knowing that she would choose him again.

On the morning of our daughter’s afternoon wedding, a friend came to set up the sound system. I was outside preparing flowers around the altar when he handed the microphone to me and said, “Say the most important thing in your heart right now.”

I didn’t even need to think about it when I clearly and with conviction said, “BARRY, WHEREVER YOU ARE, I CHOOSE YOU ALL OVER AGAIN. I WOULD MARRY YOU AGAIN IN A SECOND!”

From down at the bottom of our sixteen acres, Barry was clearing poison oak and yelled up, “JOYCE, I WILL ALWAYS CHOOSE YOU!”

I’m quite sure all of our neighbors heard our booming testimony of love and choosing, which I thought was sweet.

The above is an excerpt from the Vissell’s new book, To Really Love a Man.

Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell:

Feb 4-11, 2018 — Hawaii Couples Retreat on the Big Island

Jul 22-27, 2018 — Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR

Oct 11-17, 2018 — Assisi Retreat, Italy

About the authors:
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of eight books, including two new books, To Really Love a Woman and To Really Love a Man.

Call 831-684-2299 for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

 

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Don’t Cry Because It’s Over. Smile Because It Happened

by Joyce and Barry Vissell

Those nine words by Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss), one of our country’s favorite storytellers, contain so much wisdom. They apply to many different aspects of life, but I would like to focus on the area of relationships. Most of us are going to have relationships end at some point in our lives, whether they are marriages, partners, friends, relatives or any other type of relationship. People leave, or die, and it hurts. What to do with the hurt?

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There is a person that has been in contact with Barry and me who had a relationship end in a hurtful way. This individual is so hurt and does not know how to handle the pain of this situation. The feeling of rejection seems overwhelming. The other person has walked away and there is no negotiation. For this person, it is over and there is no desire for contact.

Dr. Seuss’s words give great wisdom. Many people are stuck in the feeling that “it is over.” But the way out of the pain is to remember the good and feel grateful. The feeling of gratitude will open a door to your heart and allow the feeling of love to enter. When a person ruminates over all of the details of the ending, they stay in the pain, and it can even become worse with time. The best thing to do is to feel gratitude. Write down the things you can appreciate about having been with this person. Even sending the list to the person (if still alive) can be very healing. In this way you are transitioning the relationship in a very conscious and loving way. If the person never responds to your letter and expression of gratitude, still you have reached out. The expressed gratitude will free you to go on with your life and even open to a new relationship or friendship. There is the great saying, “Whenever one door closes, another door opens.”

One of my very favorite stories is from Leo Buscaglia, who was my teacher at USC in 1971 when I was 25 years old. I was in his master’s degree course, and most of my classes were with him. He was beyond wonderful, and taught me many valuable lessons that I still cherish to this day. My favorite class was an extra, no credit class called, “LOVE.” Anyone in the university could attend this class. Perhaps fifty students came each week. Leo taught about love. He was the only professor teaching about this subject in a university in all of the United States. Those of us who chose to attend the class absolutely loved it. He was teaching us how to reach out and really love people in a heartfelt person-to-person way. He had wonderful ideas and could back it up with great literature. His favorite was “The Little Prince.” He had us practice appreciating people, seeing beauty in each other, expressing gratitude, and writing letters to our family with messages of love. There was such a beautiful energy in the room each time he gave the class that I felt as though I could just float I felt so high and happy.

He was really the first person to acknowledge that my sensitivity was actually a beautiful thing and that he appreciated that side of me very much. Up until he spoke to me in that way, I had felt ashamed of my sensitive nature. He had a way of acknowledging his students and, sometimes like in my case, he saw beauty and strength where others saw weakness. Those of us in the class were opening so beautifully under his teachings.

One day I had an appointment with him at his office in the university. While I waited for him, I could not help but overhear the voices of three men that had come to meet with him before me. They spoke in loud harsh voices, and told Leo that he could not teach his love class any more. They told him it was an embarrassment to the university, and he had to stop immediately. This was nonnegotiable. They walked out soon after that pronouncement. I felt so sad for my beloved teacher. Here he was giving of himself on his free time to teach this wonderful class, and it was rejected. He must feel so hurt.

I walked into his office when the secretary told me to go and I tried to think of how I might cheer him up. Indeed he looked very sad. But his words surprised me, “I feel so sad for those three men that were just here. I have so much love to give and they do not want it.” His sadness was not for himself, but for those university officials. He saw what they were missing by rejecting what he had to offer.

Shortly after that, Leo left the university. I do not know if he was asked to leave, or if he just left. He went on to become one of the most popular speakers in the United States and other countries, with crowds of over 10,000 people at each talk that he gave. He gave his love class to the world, and they received it with great enthusiasm. He wrote five books about love which were on the New York Times best seller list. .

Whenever I start to feel rejected by someone, I think of Leo and his words, “I feel so sad for them, as I have so much love to give.” And also I think of Dr. Seuss’s advice to all of us, “Remember to smile that it happened.” Acknowledging that we are beautiful and have much love to give, as well as expressing gratitude, can bring a person out of the pain of seeming rejection.

Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell:

Oct 11-17Assisi Retreat, Italy

Feb 5-12, 2017 Hawaii Couples Retreat on the Big Island

Jul 16-21 Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, andA Mother’s Final Gift.

Call Toll-Free 1-800-766-0629 (locally 831-684-2299) or write to the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

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Asking our Higher Power for Help in All Situations

barry and joyceby Joyce and Barry Vissell

The first three steps of the twelve step program for recovery from addiction have to do with asking for help, knowing that we are powerless without help from a higher power, and trusting that this higher power can restore our lives greater than we could even imagine. I have seen these twelve steps work miracles in the lives of many people.

What about people who are not struggling with addiction? I feel the twelve steps, especially the first three, can help all people.

Recently, we met with a family group of fifteen who were going through a huge challenge with very strong opposing views. The family was split in two by these views and were in a lot of pain. There appeared to be no easy solution and there was a possibility of multiple estrangements. In all of our forty five years of counseling people and leading groups, this was honestly the most complex and painful family situation we had ever encountered. I hardly ever feel nervous about a situation in our work, but I began to feel not only nervous, but also a bit fearful.

Then I realized I needed to turn the situation over completely to God, asking that this great power could come through Barry and me in ways that I could not even imagine. And that is what happened! Once I really surrendered to my need for help in working with this broken family, the nervousness and fear left me. I did not really have a plan other than to trust in the Higher Power of Love. Though the time with them was very challenging, the end result was greater than I could have ever imagined. This family has a long road to go in healing, but if they can continue to ask for help from a higher power, they will be even stronger than before.

Asking for help from our higher power is extremely powerful in our lives. Most people wait until there is an extremely challenging situation. There is the famous scene from the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” in which Jimmy Stewart’s character, George, is desperate and wants to take his life. While sitting in a bar he prays, “God, I am not a praying man but, if you can hear me, I need help.” Then help comes in the form of a strange angel named Clarence.

What if we began asking for help with smaller things in our life, to build up a momentum of faith that we can be helped in all ways when we ask? Most people feel that it is best to not bother asking for help for smaller things as it is a waste of God’s energy. That view sees The Great Power of Love in such a limited way, that there is just so much energy and so we better wait until it is life and death before asking for help. But the truth is that the energy available to us is unlimited. We are loved so much that help is available always. I am not talking about asking for a brand new shiny car or to win the lottery. I am talking about real life issues however small you think they are.

I had an experience recently with what could be considered a very small need for help. We were at the breakfast line at the retreat center we use in Hawaii to lead our week long couple’s retreat. Before the retreat a woman volunteer asked us to give a talk to the community about relationships. At first we thought none of the volunteers would come, but she assured us she would get other volunteers to come. We agreed and set up a time and space for one of the evenings. We then got involved with leading our retreat and forgot about naming the talk. The morning of the talk came and suddenly we realized we had not given the talk a name to place on the daily activities board. While in line at the dining area, Barry suggested that we call it an “Aloha Talk.” I didn’t like that title but couldn’t come up with something else.

Then I said, “I’m going to ask for help that someone will come and tell us exactly what to name the talk.” Barry looked doubtful but responded, “Well I doubt that someone is going to come walking up and tell us, but if they do we will go with their suggestion. We have to have something up on the bulletin board within a few minutes.” We agreed and continued in the line. I closed my eyes for a moment and asked for help. Within one minute of my asking for help the original woman volunteer that had invited us came around the corner carrying some hot water. She stopped when she saw us and said, “We are all so excited about the talk tonight. What are you going to name it?” Barry suggested the “Aloha Talk.” She grimaced and said, “Nobody would come to that! Why don’t you call it ’Creating Healthy Relationships’?” Then she continued on her way with the hot water. We stood a moment in awe at the divine answer to my small request for help.

Help does not always come immediately, like with the name of our talk, George Bailey getting a visit from his angel Clarence, or when we worked with that troubled family. But help will come at the perfect time and it can go beyond your imagination. The important thing is to start asking for help and knowing that our Creator wants to help us as we live our lives upon this earth.

Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell:

June 4-11 — Alaska “Inside Message” Cruise

Jul 17-22 — Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR

Oct 14-20 — Assisi Retreat, Italy

Feb 5-12, 2017 — Hawaii Couples Retreat

About the author:

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of LoveRisk to Be HealedThe Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift.

Call Toll-Free 1-800-766-0629 (locally 831-684-2299) or write to the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

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Are You More Important Than your Cell Phone?

barry and joyce vissellby Joyce and Barry Vissell

Cell phones play a very important part in our lives right now. Who knows what ten years will bring, but for now they are almost like an attachment to the person who owns them. Recently I was going to our local gym to swim. I decided to just wait in my car and rest for a bit before walking in. I was parked so that I could see the people entering and leaving. Every single young person under the age of forty walked in while texting. Others a bit older walked in talking on their phone. And one remarkably brave soul just walked in with no cell phone in hand.

Last week we returned from Italy via Washington DC. At the very long line of passport clearance almost every single person, myself included, were on their cell phones. People buy expensive cases to protect their phones. And what happens if a phone announces that its battery is now at 10%? Most people act immediately. No one wants their cell phone to run out of power. A plan is quickly put in place to recharge the battery, no matter how inconvenient.

But what about us? Are we not more important than our cell phones? Our “batteries” run low as well. Few people are as urgent to charge their own batteries as they are to charge up their cell phone. We push and push ourselves to keep going and we don’t pay attention to our own battery or need to be recharged. We know one woman who had no idea how depleted her batteries were. She left for work one morning, collapsed in her front yard and was rushed to the emergency room. Her diagnosis: exhaustion!

Our own wellbeing is vastly more important than our cell phone. When our cell phones are dangerously low and we finally can plug them into electricity, there is such a good feeling from knowing that we are taking care of our cell phone and giving it what it needs. We deserve so much more!

Our need to recharge and connect to our power is so important. Some people try to ignore the need to be recharged through addictions. This can numb the need for recharging, but it will never recharge us. Many people watch TV. Even your favorite show can be entertaining, but it cannot recharge you. Recharging comes from a true connection to your source of power. Imagine trying to charge your cell phone by showing it your favorite TV show, giving it a beer, or taking it on a long shopping spree. It’s a silly image and obviously it doesn’t work. The same is true of us. Just as our cell phones need their real connection to electricity, so do we need a real connection to recharge.

So how do we recharge? Whatever it takes to connect with Source, God, Divine Love, The Infinite Being, whatever words you use to refer to the higher power, will bring a sense of recharging. These are my favorite ways of connecting. I like to sit outside and look at my garden. While looking at it I like to feel all of the things I am grateful for. The act of gratitude brings an opening of my heart. I also like to work in my garden. Just even a small amount of gardening can help to connect me with the earth. I like to lie down on the grass without a blanket under me so that I can have direct contact with the earth. Even lying there for half an hour is like a giant connection back to my source. I like walking our dog Rosie in the woods. I love being alone with Barry and using the time in a quiet way of connecting and feeling our love for one another. I like to pray either alone or with Barry and feel the closeness of our Creator and feel that I am loved and being protected. Feeling the spiritual power around me is the most important way that I recharge.

Some people like to go to a retreat or special place. It can be important to retreat from the noise of the world and just be with ourselves. Some people get recharged by being creative, writing songs, creating art pieces, singing, or cooking an amazing meal. Some parents find that if they dedicate a longer than usual period of time to just playing with their child, joining their child in their level of play and wonderment of the world, without the use of distracting cell phones, they will feel recharged afterwards . Besides being alone with me, Barry’s favorite way of recharging is to go off into nature and be alone. If it can’t be for days at a time, then even a few hours will do wonders for him.

Sometimes life is very busy and we do not have the time to plug into our source of power for a long time. I would like to offer a simple practice that has helped me over the years wherever I go. Sit quietly if you can. However, this can be done standing up even in a long line. Close your eyes (obviously this will not work while driving). Take in a deep breath and imagine that there is a light coming from your true source of power. Breathe in this light through the top of your head and feel as if it is coming down into your heart. Then as you breathe out imagine there is love coming from your heart out into the world or into whatever situation you find yourselves. I have used this in busy airports, grocery lines and sitting quietly in my garden and each time I feel a sense of being connected and recharged.

Let’s strive to keep the battery of our own life operating at a very high level. Tell yourself, “I am more important than my cell phone and I deserve to be recharged and to be filled by the true source of my being.”

Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell: Feb 7-14Hawaii Couples Retreat; June 4-11 — Alaska “Inside Message” Cruise from Seattle; Jul 17-22—Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR; Oct 11-17—Assisi Retreat, Italy.

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift.

Call Toll-Free 1-800-766-0629 (locally 831-684-2299) or write to the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

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