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Invitation to connect on LinkedIn

Dec 16th, 2011 by Dr. Gourgouris | Comments Off

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What’s another trillion dollars?

Jul 18th, 2011 by Dr. Elia | Comments Off

We recently celebrated the Fourth of July, honoring America’s independence. Our family has a tradition of going up to Breckenridge, Colo., a beautiful mountain ski town about half an hour from Vail. Every year we go to the local parade and watch the fireworks at night. It is quintessential small-town Americana at its best: picnics, fishing, family reunions, all sorts of festivities coupled with the beauty of this land.

As you can tell, I am very proud of this country and have never been ashamed to admit it.

Following the Fourth of July celebrations, we faced an increasing number of thunderstorms almost on a daily basis. Now, summer rains are beautiful to witness, but the ferocity of these storms the last few days has been exceptional and unusual.

We had a big aspen tree uprooted a block from our house, and the next-door neighbor’s trampoline was picked up, slammed to the ground and demolished. Thunder, lightning, hail and wind have accompanied each storm, and they seem to be getting more severe.

In less than a month, specifically Aug. 2., the federal government will reach the limit on its debt, which now stands at an astonishing $14 trillion! Those numbers are incomprehensible to me. It’s like saying my family has a credit card debt somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million. It sounds ridiculous of course when we put it in those terms.

Everyone knows we’ll never pay it back, and yet we’d like to raise our debt ceiling, which is exactly what the White House and Congress are trying to negotiate right now. Raising a debt limit so we don’t “bounce” any checks to our creditors may be a temporary solution, but it’s not facing or dealing with our monumental problems.

What happens when the biggest economy in the world defaults on its payments is a scenario that nobody wants to see come to fruition. The so-called experts have described the consequences of such an event as catastrophic and dangerously unpredictable. So if we must increase the debt ceiling for now to avoid catastrophe, it has to be done with a clear understanding that it is followed with a realistic plan of action that will lead to increased deficit reduction. Anything less than such an agreement is like kicking the can down the road, which is how we got into this mess to begin with.


 

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

Comparisons are nothing more than judgments that damage self-esteem

Jun 28th, 2011 by Dr. Elia | Comments Off

Every day, we make comparisons, which is another way of saying we make judgments. Sometimes this is done consciously and other times subconsciously.

Every comparison we make has two possible outcomes. Either we feel like we’re better than someone else, or we feel like we’re worse than the person we’re comparing ourselves to. These comparisons take place in every aspect of our lives, whether it’s how many kids we have, how much money we make, or even what level of spirituality or calling we have.

If we feel we’re always better than someone else, what sin are we committing? Obviously the “sin of pride,” which, by the way, does not increase our self-worth but may give us an emotional lift. This boost, however, is short-lived because we cannot feel better about ourselves over the long term when the assumption is based on the misfortune of others. Having a nicer car or a bigger home than someone else will never bring us true happiness. It’s an illusion that far too many people fall victim to.

On the other end of the scale, we have comparisons that leave us feeling less than someone else. In my experience, this category of judgments is more prevalent and therefore more damaging. If I feel like someone else is more successful, better looking, more popular, has a nicer looking body or is a better parent because their kids are better behaved, then where does that leave me?

Sadly, having worked with so many people who struggle with these types of comparisons, I see the outcome is pretty dire. Depression, discouragement, stress and even thoughts of ending one’s life are often accompanied by a lifelong feeling of not being good enough. But there is one view that can actually help our self-worth, and it is not based on either one of these conditions.

The only comparison that prevents both pride and pity is comparison of our current self with our past self. Here’s how this works: Let’s take our spirituality as an example and go back 20 years, 10 years, five years, last year and now. We can look at our habits of saying our daily prayers and regular scripture study. If 20 years ago I was not very active spiritually, but over time I started making it more of a priority in my life, clearly there’s an improvement made. If five years ago I was more dedicated and last year more consistent but this year I not only read but I actually study and apply the scriptures in my daily life, then I have made tremendous progress.

To acknowledge this improvement in my spirituality is not a prideful statement. I’m not putting myself above anyone else because it’s a factual statement. Same as if I’ve lost the weight that I’ve been struggling with all these years, and I’m now in a better physical shape. Again, I’ve improved in that area of my life and therefore feel better about myself.

Our self-esteem can improve when it is based on the hard work and progress we’ve made in different aspects of our lives. It is vitally important for us to regularly step back and acknowledge that we are doing better — it adds fuel to our tank and helps us to remain motivated and eager to continue to make progress.

What if we compare ourselves to our past self and see that we’re actually not doing as well in a certain category? What if 20 years ago I was in tip-top shape but over time with work, family and other requirements, I have neglected that part of my life? I’m not eating as healthy, I lack energy, I sleep poorly and my weight is not where I’d like it to be. My first question would be, is this still a priority in my life? Clearly taking good care of our body should be a priority because it can influence every other aspect of our lives when physically we are at a sub-par level.

This information is not meant to prompt us to beat ourselves up. The second and more important question then is, what am I willing to do about it? What’s my plan for restoring my physical health? Perhaps I can start to walk a few miles each day, lower the intake of junk food and get to bed before midnight.

If you are up to the challenge, I suggest that you take time to assess your life. Take a look at the various categories that are important and meaningful to you, and then go back in time like the examples above. Be honest in your assessments, and you’ll discover areas of growth and improvement. Be kind and acknowledge your success, and you will feel better. By the same token, take a look at areas where things are not going in the direction you would like. Make a commitment to formulate a plan of action, and you’ll see great results. Sometimes we might need someone to help us along the way, like a mentor or a coach or just a “walking buddy.”

Remember that you are capable of amazing things. I would love to hear your success stories!


 

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

Recent acts of infidelity among prominent men a sign of lust

Jun 14th, 2011 by Dr. Elia | Comments Off

Dear Dr. Elia,
You have written a lot of articles on sexual addiction over the years. As an expert, would you say that Congressman Weiner is a sex addict and that’s why he’s seeking “treatment” for his actions? As a woman, all this sounds like an excuse men make for their inexcusable behavior.

Sincerely,
Jane


Dear Jane,

Congressman Anthony Weiner is the latest in a long list of politicians, celebrities and sports stars who have been caught doing something illicit. Just recently, former California governor and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock with a woman who for years had worked in his own home. His wife, Maria Shriver, has now filed for divorce, and one of his children has changed his last name to Shriver.

Former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards also fathered a child out of wedlock with a videographer. All this while his wife was battling with cancer, which eventually took her life. Several others, including Louisiana Sen. David Ritter and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, hired escort services, a euphemistic way of saying they hired prostitutes. Former Nevada Sen. John Ensign had an extramarital affair with the wife of a member of his own staff: a double betrayal. The list of such examples is endless, so suffice it to say your question has a lot of merit.

First of all, what do all these men have in common? They are each highly educated, intelligent, successful in their careers, charismatic and powerful. These are their positive characteristics. They are also self-absorbed and arrogant to the point where they believe the normal rules of engagement and conduct do not apply to them. With today’s instant access to information with electronic technology at its peak, it seems naive and foolish to believe these types of behavior will not become public.

As I have been following the latest scandal surrounding Congressman Weiner, I’ve asked myself the following question: Why would a man in his mid-40s be following a 21-year-old coed on Twitter to begin with? Never mind the fact that he sent lewd pictures of himself and engaged in inappropriate activities with half a dozen women while he was married. The only difference between his behaviors and those others mentioned above is that he didn’t have any physical contact with these women.

So if he didn’t have sex outside of marriage, is he still a sex addict? I have worked with hundreds of men who have behaved in a similar manner without ever engaging in extramarital relationships. It seems like the term “sexual addict” feels like an excuse to you for their inappropriate behavior. Perhaps you are correct because in the old days it was called “fooling around” or “having an affair” and so on. I know of many other women who feel similar to you; however, if it’s not sex, then it is certainly a “lust addiction.” All these behaviors that I’ve described have taken place because of lust. There’s no love involved, and that’s why none of these men are still in a relationship with any of the women. Whether they paid for services or not, all of these are based on lust.

When lust becomes out of control, it produces behaviors that can be characterized as a sexual addiction. If Congressman Weiner does indeed seek treatment for his inappropriate behaviors, I hope the focus is on lust versus sex. Only when his lust is cured will he be free of his personal demons. Only by learning to love, respect, honor and cherish women rather than viewing them as mere objects to satisfy his lustful desires will he be able to move on.

There will be more of these scandals in the future, I promise you, but hopefully some lessons can be learned from another person’s mistakes.


 

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

Nothing stays the same

May 31st, 2011 by Dr. Elia | Comments Off

Most of us seek some kind of security, stability and safety amidst the craziness of this life. We live in such an unpredictable and ever-changing world, however, that the so-called “security” we seek is often an illusion. Recently we’ve had several very close friends and neighbors who have decided to move to different states. Their reasons are all good; they’re doing what’s best for their families or their careers.

Unfortunately for those of us left behind, it feels like another loss. As a result, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about life and wondering how do people best cope with so much change?

Perhaps I could  be accused of romanticizing the past, but I wonder if our ancestors might have been better off. I imagine being born in a small village or town and never leaving, spending all the years of one’s life surrounded by extended family and friends. A place where everyone knows you and your family. Of course, that might get boring after a while, but would the sense of safety and stability compensate for it? I’m not sure, and I’ll probably never find out, but there are days when I wistfully desire it.

For those of us who connect with people deeply, living in such a transient world makes life difficult at times. I admire people who can pack their stuff and go on to the next adventure that life has to offer without seemingly blinking an eye. How freeing that must be. 

Even though I’m quite aware that change is unavoidable, I don’t like it very much. What’s ironic is the fact that I teach my clients that real growth typically takes place outside of our comfort zone. Yet I wish that everyone I love and I’m connected to stayed put.

Experiencing loss pushes us outside of our comfort zone whether we like it or not. I guess I’m a reluctant participant in this type of growth. So how can we prepare ourselves better to deal with this constant change? One way would be to live life with a certain amount of detachment. The positives are that we never get too sad or feel abandoned because we never allow ourselves to get too close to people. So they come and go, and we’re mostly unaffected by it.

The negative, of course, is that we don’t really bond and create deep relationships in our lives. The other option is to get close to people and just deal with the feelings that come up once things change. In the end, I’d rather feel deeply and connect and face the consequences once people leave than keep to myself and never get too attached.

If I had a magic wand, I would make sure that all our loved ones, family and friends, lived close to each other all the time. Now that would be heaven on earth! Perhaps that is why heaven has such a strong appeal. It’s not just getting to live with God again but also with all those we loved and connected with in this lifetime.

What makes this world such an incredible place is the opportunity we have to meet and grow to love so many people. Knowing that one day we can all be together forever is just the icing on the cake.


 

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

With May 21 passing uneventfully, it’s a good time to show compassion

May 24th, 2011 by Dr. Elia | Comments Off

The world didn’t end May 21 as predicted, did it? All this started when 89-year-old Harold Camping, head of the Family Radio broadcasting network, with 150 outlets, made his bold prediction that Jesus would return to Earth and the world would end. Camping’s “prophecy” is nothing new, as he predicted the same thing back in 1994, which, of course, also didn’t happen. Having recalibrated his calculations, he came up with the new date for Judgment Day.

Camping spread his message on 2,000 billboards worldwide, suggesting that the end is near. More specifically, he said that the righteous, which total 3 percent of the world’s population, would be whisked upward to heaven in a “rapture” while the rest stayed behind to endure five months of terrible natural disasters. At the end of this period, Oct. 21 to be exact, God would destroy everything. Many of Camping’s followers left their jobs and families and even spent their life savings to spread the word, in what has been described as Project Caravan. A convoy of buses and recreational vehicles had been traversing the country to issue a warning to all who would listen.

As it turned out, at the appointed hour of 6 p.m. on May 21, I found myself having a quiet dinner with our bishop and his family. My family and I figured we might as well stay close to him, just in case. I’m joking, but I can’t help but feel for these poor folks who were so passionate about their beliefs. I wonder how they’re feeling today. Has their faith been shattered? Do they feel foolish? How will they face their families, friends and co-workers?

I have seen how many people have ridiculed them already, and I’m sure late-night comics will be having a field day with these folks for some time to come. While unkind reactions may be common, I hope we choose to resist the temptation. As Latter-day Saints, we too have some peculiar and often misunderstood doctrine. We have been made fun of before (just see “The Book of Mormon” musical now playing on Broadway) and most likely will be again.

Perhaps it is best to show compassion toward these individuals. Yes, they are misguided, but they are mostly good people who believed in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This is the perfect opportunity for us to put into practice the Savior’s counsel of “thou shalt not judge.” We ask others not to judge us, so it’s only fair to extend the same to them.


 

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

Justice served — Freedom and justice over tyranny

May 3rd, 2011 by Dr. Elia | Comments Off

May 1, 2011, will go down in history as the day that Osama bin Laden was finally pronounced dead. The world’s No. 1 terrorist was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan. Unlike what we had been expecting, he was not found hiding in some cave in the mountains of Afghanistan; he was found only 30 miles outside of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, living in a million-dollar mansion. This man was responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent people, including the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. Cutting off the head of the most notorious terrorism organization in the world, al-Qaida, will be a big blow to those who conspire to destroy our way of life.

It’s worth remembering that al-Qaida’s innocent victims were not limited to the United States. Terrorist attacks occurred in diverse places such as Kenya, Russia, Indonesia, Somalia, Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, England, India and even as recently as last week in Morocco. Bin Laden claimed to be a Muslim and a follower of Islam, and yet his extremist and violent espoused beliefs led to the death of more Muslims than by any other single group.

This is not a victory of America over terrorism but rather a victory of freedom of choice over tyranny. It is a victory for every little girl or young woman who simply wants to go to school and receive an education, without fear of getting blown up by those who followed bin Laden’s twisted ideology. It is a victory for all people in the world — regardless of skin color, ethnicity or religious affiliation — who desire to live their lives in peace and freedom.

The timing of his death coincides with the unrest we’re seeing throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The winds of change are blowing, and they are blowing hard. From Tunisia to Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and beyond, we are witnessing a true revolution. Young men and women are taking to the streets and often paying the ultimate price, their very lives, for a chance to finally have a voice. The desire for self-determination is a God-given right for every human being on this earth.

Nobody likes to be controlled, and although millions have been subjugated for many years, historical hindsight weighs more heavily on the side of goodness and freedom over evil and darkness. The light will eventually overcome the destructiveness that comes with this twisted ideology.

Bin Laden’s death does not mean the end of extremism or terrorism. As a matter of fact, I would expect multiple attempts by his followers to take revenge and attempt to show they’re still viable. Their retaliation, however, will be short-lived, even if they end up pulling off a large attack. Bin Laden’s deputy and second in command, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, is likely to take over, at least in the short run. He is a controversial figure and does not inspire the same blind following that bin Laden did. Rest assured that whoever steps up to lead this terrorist organization will have a similar fate eventually. Just like bin Laden, “you can run but you cannot hide from the long arm of justice.”

Today, our world with all of its problems is a better place. For anyone who loves freedom, democracy and respect of fundamental human rights, this is a good day.

God bless us and protect us as we move forward.


 

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

To trust or not to trust?

Apr 26th, 2011 by Dr. Elia | Comments Off

Dear Dr. Elia.

How does one learn to trust? My husband of 24 years is the most unconditionally loving, kind, Christ-like person I know. I love him deeply, but I have struggled all our married life to trust him 100 percent. He has never intentionally done anything major to hurt our relationship, and for the most part, I believe that I do trust him. But so strangely, and occasionally, without any common trigger whatsoever, I will find myself doubting him in a sad and what I can clearly see later to be a ridiculous manner. Over the years I have prayed, fasted, read many books, studied the scriptures and done everything I can to learn to trust and have faith in not just him but in people, in my Savior and my Heavenly Father. What is wrong with me?

Robin

 

Dear Robin,

This is actually more common that you might think. It sounds like you have been blessed with a wonderful man in your life, so he is not really the issue. The real issue has to do with trust in general, be it with your husband, other people or even God. You have done so much already to resolve this particular issue: fasting and praying, reading scriptures and other good books, and everything else in your power.

Perhaps the only thing left for you to explore might turn out to be the answer to your question. Mentally go back in time, perhaps to your childhood, and think about a situation when you felt totally betrayed (typically by someone who meant a lot to you, like a family member or a best friend). When something like that happens to us and we get deeply hurt, we unconsciously decide that the world is not a safe place and no one is to be trusted. After all, if this person could hurt us, anyone could. So we build up a protective layer; it’s our strategy for survival. Well, it might work initially, and so we do survive our growing up years. Once we get older, however, this strategy has become so much a part of our nature that we apply it to others, even if they are good to us and totally trustworthy, like your dear husband.

You might want to let the “little girl” inside you know that it’s time to trust those who have been good to you consistently. It is helpful to remind this “little girl” that the adult you can protect and take care of her now.

How wonderful for you that you have been blessed with such a worthy and Christ-like eternal companion. He’s the perfect person for you to come out of hiding for and hold nothing back — to give to him 100 percent of your heart without any trepidation or fear and experience the fullness of joy and peace that comes with trusting.

Ultimately, life comes down to this: Do we live in fear or in faith? People will let us down and betray our trust; it’s part of our human experience. We’ll even let ourselves down from time to time, but God never will. Putting our faith in him will help see us through the ups and downs of our daily lives, and it certainly beats the alternative.

 


 

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

‘Soul Surfer’: The story of a true hero

Apr 19th, 2011 by Dr. Elia | Comments Off

Every once in a while, Hollywood produces a gem of a movie.

It happened a couple of years ago when Sandra Bullock starred in and won an Oscar for her performance in “The Blind Side,” and now another great family movie, called “Soul Surfer,” has come to theaters. Both movies are based on true and inspiring stories, and there is something so appealing about watching everyday people overcome tremendous odds, whether physical or circumstantial.

“Soul Surfer” is a movie based on the 2004 biography “Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board.” The book and film are based on the real-life experiences of Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm as a result of a shark attack in Hawaii when she was 13 years old. The movie stars Anna-Sophia Robb as Bethany with Academy Award-winner Helen Hunt as her mom and Dennis Quaid as her dad.

Bethany grew up in a family that was immersed in surfing, and she developed a love for it at a young age. She has two older brothers who tease her, as would be expected, but they are also quite encouraging of her surfing.

It’s remarkable that this teenager even survived the shark attack after losing 60 percent of her blood. The poise she showed right after the attack was a sign of things to come.

In her feature-film debut, country singer superstar Carrie Underwood plays a Christian church youth leader and actually does a great job. The relationship between Bethany, who was raised in a family where she was taught to have faith in God, and her youth leader becomes increasingly important in her recovery.

Losing her arm in such a sudden and violent way turned Bethany’s life upside down. Her passion for surfing clashed with the physical reality of her situation. She was such a fierce competitor, and she faced an unknown future: Would she be able to surf again and at the competitive level she once did?

Wondering why something so horrible happened to such a wonderful young woman is human nature. How that question is answered and where it leads Bethany is the most moving part of the whole story. Trials in life often come with unexpected consequences, and the fact that she became an inspiration to millions is really the icing on the cake.

“Soul Surfer” is a family friendly, faith-inspiring movie. Too often we complain about the kinds of movies Hollywood makes; however, this time it got it right. The world needs positive, uplifting and inspiring stories like Bethany’s.


 

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

Relationship issues are not always the man’s fault

Apr 12th, 2011 by Dr. Elia | Comments Off

Dear Dr. Elia,

I have been following your articles for the last couple of years. Although I enjoy reading them, I have noticed a certain pattern. You, and others who offer advice about relationships, seem to favor women and their points of view. It gives the perception that women are usually innocent and that men are typically the “bad guys.” Has that really been your experience? I would appreciate any insights you might have on this topic.

Sincerely,
John

 

Dear John,

Thank you for your question and your willingness to explore a very important topic. First of all, let me say that the majority of my Mormon Times readers and those who pose questions on www.AskDrElia.com are women. This may, in part, explain why there is a perception that women seem to get the better deal. Because they write the majority of the questions, the issues that are brought up come from their points of view. I cannot speak for any other advice columnists, but I certainly don’t believe that men are usually at fault and that women are blameless.

Perhaps it is the topics that are brought up that play a bigger role in this misperception. When we talk about sexual addictions, pornography or gambling, these typically tend to be men’s issues. That is not to say that I haven’t worked with women who struggle with these issues, but they involve men more frequently. Because these addictions can cause such spiritual, emotional and mental upheaval in a relationship, they receive a lot more attention. Oftentimes they may even lead to divorce or a breakup.

On the other hand, when I have dealt with eating disorders or food addictions, it is mostly women who have struggled with them. Although these issues can also have a detrimental effect on the physical, emotional and mental aspect of a relationship, they lead to breakups less frequently. There also tends to be a lot more empathy for the one struggling, and the reaction typically is, “What can I do to help?”

Another issue that comes up frequently has to do with abuse — be it physical, sexual or emotional. For the most part, physical and/or sexual abuse is something associated with men, so they typically receive the blame. It is rare for a woman to be the one who perpetrates such abuse. When it comes to emotional abuse, however, I would say that falls more along the 50-50 line between men and women. Sadly, I have seen women be just as cruel verbally and emotionally to men as the other way around.

Making withdrawals from the relationship’s love account is not gender-based. Men and women may do it differently, but the results are equally devastating. In reality, when a relationship ends, the trust that once existed has almost always been eliminated.

You asked what my experience has been, so I will make one final point. After 25 years of helping individuals, it is my sincere belief that women have more courage than men when it comes to seeking help and accepting responsibility for their actions. Women seek help sooner and are more open to receiving advice. Oftentimes, men will seek help only after their spouses threaten them with divorce or when their ecclesiastical leaders strongly suggest it. Perhaps this does have something to do with gender. For example, why else do men refuse to ask for directions (myself included) when lost? Perhaps it is our pride or our expectations that real men don’t or shouldn’t need help. After all, are we not conditioned from early on to be self-sufficient in all things? Asking for help can be considered a weakness or unmanly.

From a spiritual perspective, however, I find it interesting that if our goal is to become more like the Savior, we must ask for help every single day of our lives. That is one big part of our prayers: seeking help, guidance, comfort, answers and so much more. I would certainly like to encourage more men to be more open in asking questions. More balance would certainly improve the perception that, in the end, we all make mistakes regardless of our gender.


 

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.