Lifting Depression


By Dr. Bruce Riley, LMFT

Depression is nothing to be ashamed about. Neither is it something that needs to remain secret. Did you know that people like Demi Lovato, Dwayne Johnson, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, and Halle Berry have all suffered from depression? You should read about their stories and how they have had to deal with it. By reading about their struggle may help you. Here’s a few other suggestions:

Congregate, don’t Isolate – Stay in the company of supportive, caring people. They may be the very ones to help lift you to a place of emotional stability and give you a reason to move above that dark or lonely place.

Look Up – It is important to believe that you are better than you feel right now. Feelings can come and go; that what you are experiencing is temporary; and that something is wrong but that it can be made right. Looking up is seeing that there is a way out of this low place; that there is help, and that there are people who love you and want to be a part of your life.

“Hope thou in God” These words come from David in Psalm 42 who was perhaps struggling with depression while fleeing from his son Absalom. He longs for the presence of God and to rebuild his faith, which has been shaken be his fears and doubts. Things may look bleak, like there is no way out, but to hope in God puts one’s total self in the hands of God and to believe that only He can bring you out. And yes, He will bring you out.

Ask for Help – I do believe that there are times when the depression may require a professional component, especially if the nature of the depression is due to some type of chemical imbalance. Such a need may require hospitalization and/or medication until such time as you are able to have a more functional lifestyle and that the thoughts and feelings subside.

I also believe that some depressive symptoms are spirits that try to torment the mind and to lead you away from God to achieve the purposes of Satan. Such oppression needs to be  

cast out as it was with the man in Mark 5:1-15. It is quite proper to ask the help of God and others who have been gifted with the anointing to cast out devils as stated in Mark 16:17

Yes, you can be lifted out of depression. Never give up!


Keeping God in Your Marriage


By Dr. Bruce Riley, LMFT

I don’t like to hear about couples where one or both of them fall away from God some time after saying “I do”. “What happened?” others may ask. There are many reasons including being distracted by the ‘cares of this life’. I have a few suggestions on how God can be and remain #1 in your life.

Ask your spouse to pray for you. I often tell couples, “It is hard to be mad at the person you are praying for”. Praying for each other is essentially asking God to take control of your marriage.

Attend worship together. Being in the House of God, worshipping, praying, singing, and hearing the Word of God allows the Spirit of God to mold your love through His love.

Sit together and pray together while worshipping. Enjoy and experience the presence of God together. You can’t help but grow in fellowship with God and each other.

Serve in obedience to the scriptures. It doesn’t help to share with each other what the Word of God says that you should do when facing personal challenges.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:2-3

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Getting your Spouse to Listen


By Dr. Bruce Riley, LMFT

No one likes to feel that they are being ignored or that their spouse is not paying attention. This may be by accident or deliberate, but it still kind of feels the same. Some also feel that their spouse does not value what they have to say. Well, I have a few suggestions to help in this area.

When there is a quiet moment, you are both in the same room seems to be a great time to share. I think it is very appropriate that there be at least one time during each day that you are both sitting together without any other outlets (television, electronic devices, books, etc.) before you. It works best for us when we are at the dinner table sharing a meal. “What have you been thinking about?” is one of the more common questions asked when we are together. You could also play “Two Things”. You both must tell each other two things about yourself that the other would be interested to know.

Taking a drive on your way to a destination or no where provides you an opportunity to ask that important question or to talk about that all-important subject that has been stirring in you all day.

Eye contact is very important in gaining someone’s attention as well as disconnecting them from that which could distract. Your eyes will convey the level of value that you want to place upon the subject that you are discussing, especially if you want to be taken seriously.

I often recommend that couples hold each other while talking – You could say, “Do you feel what I’m saying?” Too often a person may hear what has been said but can’t relate to the meaning behind the words.

Have you ever tried whispering? “Why?” you might ask. It will cause the other to listen a little harder and require the listener to ask, “Could you speak up please” Then you say, “Oh, ok as you speak in a normal tone and ask, “Now, did you hear what I said?” Mission accomplished.

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Worth the Wait!

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By Bruce S. Riley, LMFT

It’s been my experience that many people are marrying to soon. It’s has nothing to do with age or maturity. But it does have to do with sex. The people that primarily engage in sex prior to their marriage are more likely to have a shorter marriage than those who wait until marriage to have sex.

In a recent survey from “”

The probability of a first marriage ending in a divorce within 5 years is 20%, but the probability of a premarital cohabitation breaking up within 5 years is 49%.

After 10 years, the probability of a first marriage ending is 33%, compared with 62% for cohabitations.

Yes, I know that many people may not be cohabiting or living together, but because of living a sexualized lifestyle, the relational impact emotionally is about the same. Some may have great difficulty resisting their sexual desires in a close relationship. But shouldn’t the focus be on building a better understanding and knowledge of the other person? I think you should know more than how good the other person is in bed.

  • How well do you communicate?
  • How are your problem-solving skills?
  • Sexual history (Interests, habits, addictions, STD’S
  • Values
  • Relational resume’ (how long and why)
  • Emotional strength – How does this person handle pressure?
  • Financial history (credit history, attitudes about money, working, etc.)

It is truly worth the wait to make sure that you and the person you want to marry meet certain criteria requirements before saying “I do”.

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You have a Healthy Relationship when…


You have a Healthy Relationship when...

By Bruce S. Riley, LMFT

Use this as a guide to help evaluate the growth and where you are as a couple. Keep track of which areas are true in your life.

You have a healthy relationship when…

  1. You share decisions before they are made.
  2. You feel something special when you see the other at the end of the day.
  3. Your arguments only last for a short while.
  4. You make each other feel so good.
  5. You both keep your promises.
  6. You don’t desire to ever be with someone else.
  7. You have no doubts about your love.
  8. You think of each other throughout the day.
  9. You enjoy being in each other’s presence.
  10. You always tell the truth.
  11. You can tell if something is wrong.
  12. Share the same values.
  13. You enjoy doing so many great things together.
  14. You avoid calling each other names.
  15. 90% of your conversations are positive.
  16. You take care of each other.
  17. You both adjust to meet each other’s needs.
  18. You’ve learned to give and receive love.
  19. You are their when needed.
  20. You are constantly working on keeping each other happy.

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Ask for Help


Ask for Help

By Bruce S. Riley, LMFT

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

John Donne wrote this poem in 1624.

It certainly emphasizes the importance of our recognition of our need for help when needed. Think about it, we get help all the time:

  • Medical assistance
  • Dental care
  • Pharmaceuticals (over the counter)
  • Makeup and hair stylists
  • Grocers, butchers, bakers, auto mechanics, etc.

The fact is, we all need help. Sometimes we don’t have all the answers; sometimes we feel overwhelmed with stress; sometimes we feel depressed; sometimes our losses are so great that we can’t wrap our heads around the pain. So what should you do? Drown in sorrow, go into hiding, leave and never come back, or go on a drinking binge? Why not ask for help?

Yes, I know you can’t trust everyone, but you can trust someone. If you can allow yourself to be put under anesthesia by a perfect stranger, or go naked before a doctor, surely there are other professions that also operate under a high level of confidence and confidentiality.

If you need help, ask. Take a trusted friends advice and seek out the help that is recommended. It could save your life or someone you know.

I will make myself available to you, or be willing to give you a good recommendation.

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Seven Ways to Be Your Spouse's Best Friend

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Seven Ways to Be Your Spouse's Best Friend

By Bruce S. Riley, LMFT

Guess what? You and your spouse can be best friends. Some people think that it is not proper for a man & a woman, who are best friends to get married. In my opinion, I think best friends make the best spouses. You are not losing your best friend, but rather gaining a lifetime partner. If you are not best friends, here’s how you can make it happen.

1. Like him - Like her.

That’s right. Take a greater interest in what makes your spouse who they are. Explore things that you find exciting, enjoyable, or fascinating that draws you closer. Then share what you like and say “I like you”.

2. Have more fun together.

Take some of those things that you like about each other and make it a date so you can enjoy some of those things together. Go over your list of things that you both enjoy and decide which ones you you’re going to do more. Think about it, you can actually have fun with the one you are married to.

3. Learn their complete story, and Love them anyway.

Continue to explore who you are married to: their dreams, their growing up, loves, hurts, pains, fears, ambitions, memories, needs, and wants. With this new information, give them your support, strength, prayers, cards, letters, hugs, and kisses. Make your spouse feel like the most blessed person on earth because they have you.

4. Tell them why they are your best friend

Emphasize by your words what this relationship means to you. In short, most couples don’t tell each other enough of what they have. Express how they make you feel. If you value their love, how much? If they do things for you, how so? Say why this love is so special.

5. Do the unexpected.

Do something that is clearly above and beyond the Call of Duty; Give something just because; Help out in a way that clearly is going out of your way; Cook that favorite meal on a weekday; Write a love letter that nearly brings them to tears; or plan a surprise trip that you know they have always wanted.

6. Extend grace & forgiveness.

Perhaps you have been hurt by something said or done. As a best friend, you express your disappointment, but recover quickly by smiling and creating an atmosphere that says “It’s over, now let’s move on”. Also, tell you friend why you choose to forgive - “Because you are my best friend” This statement puts a measure of responsibility upon the offender that he/she will never want to deliberately hurt again.

7. Put them first.

Best friends prioritize their relationship to the extent that they always stay in close contact with each other, keep each other in mind when making big decisions, share their thoughts daily, look out for each other’s welfare, and always care about how the other is feeling. Finally, as a best friend, you give the more support than anyone else.


When you Feel Burnout


When you feel Burnout

By Dr. Bruce Riley

I wanted to write this blog because I often see good people fade away or give up on things that I know is designed to make them a better person. Or, I see them involved in behaviors that are viewed as inappropriate, such as adultery, drugs, or overuse of alcohol. The problem is they are simply experiencing “Burnout”.

You see, burnout is described as extensive exhaustion or fatigue after extensive effort over a long period of time.

Some of the causes of burnout are:

·         Overwhelmed by too many priorities.

·         Exhausted by daily stressors or problems.

·         Internal pressures such as worry, doubt or fear.

·         External pressures such as deadlines, bills, or expectations from others.

·         Feeling disillusioned by setting unrealistic goals.

Here’s a simple way to beat burnout by taking a moment to “Rethink” your life:

R             Rest and Reevaluate your goals and & priorities. Develop ways to calm yourself.

E             Engage with friends. They will help you keep the proper perspective.

T             Tell somebody how you’re feeling. They can give support and encouragement.

H             Hope in God. You are not omnipotent.

I               Invest in healthy activities to replenish your energy.

N            Nurture what you love by doing things that stimulate you.

K             Know your limitations. Don’t overdo it. Delegate some of your responsibilities.

Take good care of yourself. Let go for awhile. Don’t stress over what you can’t control.


Three Steps to Patience


"Three Steps to Patience"

By Bruce S. Riley, LMFT

"Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting". (Unknown)

One of my greatest challenges is to stay in the current checkout line that I think is taking too long. Too often I've gotten out of that line only to find out that the line that I move to is even longer. Let's face it, our patience is being tried every day. Perhaps these steps will help:

1. Master yourself

Rather than trying to control the affairs of others, you should first get control of yourself. Desire to control your temper, your tongue, your spending, your eating, your use of time, etc. It's not how much you have, but how you use it. Be the steward of your soul.

When you rush you are more likely to make mistakes. For example, I have seen too many people rush out of a potentially good relationship before it has time to develop. And then they start over. Consider the person that quits a job because they don't like what the boss said. And then they start over. Too many people are living and working at "entry level" when they could be so much further in life.

Take inventory of all that you have been given. When some things are gone (like your life), they're gone. Ask for wisdom so that you can make better decisions.

2. Calmly accept what may not change

It is important to relax in the middle of your storm, knowing that things will change, but not immediately. Live in the moment while appreciating the opportunity to grow through the challenge. New skills can be obtained that otherwise could not have been gotten. Through patience you are learning what is worth your time.

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" 1 Thessalonians 5:18

3. Do the work

Take your time and be consistent. Listen to good advice, look for the blessing in the work, and learn to say "no" to decisions that will make things easy for the moment but may cause long term trouble. Do the work "one day at a time". Trust the process and allow the results to take care of themselves.

"Patience is the ability to count down before you blast off".


Seven Strategies to Finish What You Start


"Seven Strategies to Finish What You Start"

By Bruce S. Riley, LMFT

It was David Allen who said, "Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they've started." By putting these Seven Strategies into motion, you will ultimately experience the euphoria of accomplishment.

1.Remember why you started

If you know that you started this endeavor for a good reason, allow this to be the substance for your motivation to keep going. Is your reason strong enough? Will completing this challenge change your future? Will it impact your family? Will it affect how you see yourself? If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, then you ought to move forward with drive and intensity.

2. Keep trying

Don't let obstacles, distractions, or others peoples emergencies stop you from finishing. You may get slowed down; you may have delays; you might run out of needed resources, but don't let it stop you. Take quit out of your mind and out of your mouth. Quitting is not an option. You must finish! It was Winston Churchill that said, "Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential."

3. Discipline your time and what you do

Work hard and play hard. Make time for both. But also budget time to rest and replenish your energy and mind. You should never work on more than one major goal at a time. To do so will only invite frustration and failure. Intensity and focus go hand-in-hand. This will allow for maximum results. Finish one thing at a time. Get some wins under your belt.

4. Enjoy the Journey

I experienced much frustration when I was trying to complete my licensing exam as a therapist. I couldn't understand why it was so hard for me to pass until I realized that I was not enjoying the process. I had to remind myself "You love this stuff". So instead of just trying to pass the exam, I changed my focus on why I was doing this - I wanted to help people and I knew the material. Shortly thereafter, I easily passed the exam.

5. Talk, or listen to Finishers

Nothing is more motivating than to talk to people who have had tremendous challenges and never quit. One of my great pleasures was to talk with the Laker legend Jerry West and have him discuss the many losses to the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals, and to eventually win a championship. It's his determination that gives me the courage to never quit.

It is also important to listen to inspirational speeches from others who have triumphed against insurmountable obstacles like...Jimmy V's 1993 ESPY Speech; or Steve Jobs Stanford University Commencement Speech in 2005; or Randy Pausch "Achieving your Childhood Dreams" in 2007.

6. Maintain the Spirit of a Finisher

A person with the Spirit of a Finisher uses words like "determined", "hungry", "excited",

"disciplined", "tireless", "focused", and "relentless". Finishing is the only option. The mind and will are programmed to get the job done. The finisher does whatever is required. Trying is not in the vocabulary of the finisher. The person with the Spirit of the Finisher has an indomitable or invincible attitude, and is convinced of the outcome before he or she begins.

7. Spend time at Finish Lines

Observe the faces, the joys, and the thrill of accomplishment as people cross finish lines, graduate from college, win championships & awards, or climb a mountain. When you spend time at finish lines you get a glimpse of the sacrifice, the pain, and the strain of what it takes to finish. By finishing you join the bond of respect that is developed even among fellow competitors. You see, you don't have to always finish first, just finish. Finishing has its own reward.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

"Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit." (Unknown)