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7 posts from April 2007

April 29, 2007

WITHDRAWAL IN RELATIONSHIPS: IS IT REALLY BETTER THAN CONFLICT?

There are times in life, and in relationships, when we just need to, figuratively, check out. We need a little down time, perhaps a bit of an escape, and just want a break from…well, from everything and everyone. As long as it’s not for too long and it is done responsibly, it’s not such a bad thing. It just is.

Too often, however, we don’t check out responsibly and instead just withdraw into a walled-off, resigned place of silence and contempt. There are several reasons why we may do this, including: wanting to avoid conflict, feeling frustrated and hopeless that anything will change, feeling angry and justified in our anger. So we close others out because they “deserve” to be shut out, and on and on. Usually this pattern of withdrawal stems from what we learned in our childhood—and always this pattern is detrimental to our relationships.

So when is withdrawing harmful and when is it helpful? Great question! Withdrawal is helpful when it’s done responsibly and not done as a form of resignation or payback. Responsible withdrawal requires two elements: First, an explanation of why you can’t be present (i.e., “I’m feeling really angry and I need a break to clear my head”) and second, a promise of return (i.e., “I’ll be back in thirty minutes to discuss this again”). If we just check out and don’t explain why or promise to come back, chances are we’ll be hearing all sorts of things from our partner that we’d rather not hear. In essence, we’re in trouble…and we ought to be.

Continue reading "WITHDRAWAL IN RELATIONSHIPS: IS IT REALLY BETTER THAN CONFLICT?" »

April 26, 2007

THE "SECRET"…TO GREAT RELATIONSHIPS

Have you heard all the hype about The Secret? I’ve had clients talking about it, the media writing about it, and friends wondering about it. So I did what any curious professional would do: I went out to get it. Although I thought it missed an important component (integrity in your choices and desires) pertaining to the principle, I found many points to be interesting and helpful reminders of what numerous people and resources have said in various ways, over hundreds of years: You attract what you put out (this is my simplistic summary of the concept, so for more you may want to read the book).

So how does this concept play out in terms of creating healthy, great relationships? Well, to learn the answer to that question you’ll have to purchase my new book, The Secret to Great Relationships...ha, ha, just kidding.

The Secret to Great Relationships is: The better you take care of yourself, the better and healthier your relationships will be. In other words: The healthier you are, the healthier your relationships.

I realize that this may sound simple; however, it’s one of the most difficult things for many people to do. It’s difficult for them to do it at all and it’s also difficult for people, when they do it, to do it in a healthy, relational way. There are several reasons people struggle with this secret, ranging from wanting to be liked, to being overly selfish. Just as in everyday life, this secret is all about balance.


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April 17, 2007

TECHNOLOGY AND RELATIONSHIPS: THE IMPORTANCE OF "UNPLUGGING"

As I was packing for vacation with my family I turned to my husband and said, "I think I have to take my computer with me...I don't have enough posts for the week!" My husband gently reminded me that my blog was all about the art of being relational and that unplugging while on vacation with family is a key componant of that. He then coyly asked, "Don't you think your readers want to know that you're walking the walk yourself?"

So I have seen the light:-). I will be going on vacation and yes, I will indeed be unplugging. No e-mails, no work calls, no posting...NADA! I've committed to being on vacation and fully present with my family both physically and emotionally. I figure this is one of the most relational gifts I can give them--and me this vacation.

Now I'd like to say this will be easy and I have no concerns however, that wouldn't be completely honest. I'm quite aware that whenever I give my attention to one area, I take away from another area. Taking my attention away from work will impact my re-entry into work when I return. It's likely that I will have countless e-mails to answer upon my return, numerous phone messages to return, and at least a day or two of catch up. I'm also aware however, that my children and husband deserve to truly have me present. I also deserve to be truly present and enjoy a week of fun, sun (yes sun!!!!), and silly laughter with the greates gift I have been given--an amazing family.

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April 13, 2007

ANGER IN RELATIONSHIPS: IS ANGER ALWAYS BAD?

A common misconception about anger is: anger’s always bad. It’s important to realize that anger in itself is a healthy emotion. It’s not good, bad, or otherwise, it just is. What gives anger a bad wrap however, is how it often gets expressed.

Like many other things in life, anger needs an outlet…and a container. Anger without an outlet remains unspoken and unspoken anger often turns into resentment. Anger without a container often becomes abuse and leads to relationship, emotional, career, and at times, even legal problems. Neither outcome is very positive and both the lack of expression and the over expression of anger has serious repercussions in relationships.

One problem, as I see it, is too many people have no idea what healthy anger looks like—so let me help. A healthy expression of anger is firm (a strong tone of voice yet not yelling or contemptuous), respectful (spoken using “I” statements, no swearing, name calling, or shaming), and clear (there is a targeted issue/problem that is the focus of the anger rather than an unending barrage of words and events that occurred years ago).

An example of healthy anger may sound like: “I’m very angry at how you spoke to our son. It is not okay with me for you to call him stupid or any other name for that matter. If that happens again, I will step in and remove him from your presence.”

An unhealthy expression of this same issue may sound like: “You are a son of a b*tch!! Who the hell do you think you are speaking to our son like that?! I’ll divorce you in a minute if you ever do that again!”

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April 10, 2007

ARE YOU HONEST IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS? IS DISHONESTY REALLY THAT HARMFUL?

People lie to one another all the time in relationships. One partner has an affair and swears up and down that nothing is going on. Another person promises that s/he quit smoking weeks ago, then their partner finds they have been sneaking cigarettes daily. Johnny tells Susan he doesn’t smoke pot anymore; when Susan leaves the house he gets high with a friend. Steve swears to Jodi that he hasn’t looked at porn in months; the next day she catches him on a porn site.

There are many different ways to lie: blatant lies, subtle lies of omission, (don’t ask, don’t tell, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”), “tricky truths,” half truths, mis-representations, and on and on. Our culture feeds on lies. Our highest officials blatantly lie to us all the time: (“Read my lips—I will not raise taxes,” “I did not have sex with that woman,” “There are weapons of mass destruction…”). The lies are endless and happen all the time to all kinds of people.

Each example, I have no doubt, would have a different explanation for the lie. One lie is to protect a spouse from pain, another is to protect a country from terrorism, another is to protect a person from losing his job and his family from losing his income, and another is to protect someone perhaps from a hate crime. All are lies, no matter how we explain them.

So why do we tell them?

The lies are unending in part because as long as nobody ever finds out about it, there’s no problem. You see, the seductive thing about lies is they can keep people out of trouble. Lies can hold off a fight, reduce the level of anger and disappointment between partners, protect someone’s feelings, stave off intense pain, stop a conflict, save a job, and can even, on occasion, save marriages--if they’re never found out.

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April 05, 2007

DON'T EXPECT YOUR PARTNER TO LOVE YOU UNCONDITIONALLY; UNCONDITIONAL LOVE IS FOR CHILDREN ONLY

I just read a post on another blog about the importance of loving your partner unconditionally. I couldn’t disagree more on this point. The idea that you should love your partner no matter what s/he does to you is absurd and dangerous thinking I believe.

As parents we love are children unconditionally. It’s our job to let them know that they are loved no matter what. We give them as much love, guidance, and limits as we possibly can and we love them always. Ideally our parents gave the same to us so that we could then grow up and take care of ourselves.

In our adult relationships however, the same rules don’t apply. In these relationships we are responsible for taking care of ourselves; we no longer can rely on our parents or others to protect us and keep us safe. We are also responsible for our actions and need to realize that there are consequences for them.

No longer do we have the right to expect unconditional love from our partners. If we treat our partners in hurtful ways, we run the risk of losing them. We do not have the right to have affairs, be dismissive, cold, harsh, controlling, or rageful and then expect our partners to still be there.

Continue reading "DON'T EXPECT YOUR PARTNER TO LOVE YOU UNCONDITIONALLY; UNCONDITIONAL LOVE IS FOR CHILDREN ONLY" »

April 02, 2007

ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS: LISA"S REPLY

I received a comment on my post titled “Abusive Relationships” and thought it might be helpful for people who might be involved in an abusive relationship to read. So here's the comment and below is my response.

Anonymous wrote: I’m in an abusive relationship and every time I try to get out I always end up going back because something in my head tells me that I need him and that I love him.  I don’t know what to do. I can’t make myself stop loving him. I don’t even know why I love him. He physically and mentally abuses me almost every day but still I can’t find it in my heart to stop loving this dude. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I can’t even help myself so there’s no way any one else can and I don’t believe that I have a role in what’s taking place.

LISA'S REPLY: Let me start by saying you are not alone. There are many women who find themselves in a very similar situation as you. They continue to return to the abusive perpetrator again and again and struggle to figure out why. Thank you for sharing your story; I'm hopeful that it will help others in their journey.

You state that you can't make yourself stop loving him; I question if you really love him or if you are love-addicted to him. Love-addiction is not love; it is an unhealthy dependency that works very much the same way as drug or alcohol addiction. You are fine as long as he's in your life and you have your fix; however, if you don't have that drug then you are in a crash. If this sounds at all familiar to you I suggest you read Pia Mellody's book Facing Love Addiction.

Regardless of whether you love him or not, you do have control over whether you allow yourself to be abused by him. The only one who can protect yourself is you. You have no control over your boyfriend; however, you have total control of yourself. You decide if you stay, go, or plead for him to stop (which he won't do, by the way, just because you plead). You deserve to be treated with respect. You have the right to be loved, not beaten, and you are the only one who can enforce this right and stand up for yourself.

Where you get stuck, I'm assuming, is that you believe if you take a stand against the abuse that you will lose him. The truth is--you may. What you don't realize, however, is when you allow your fear to stop you from protecting yourself, you are putting yourself in further danger. Chances are slim to none that he will stop abusing you without significant consequences--either by you--or by outside systems (i.e., police, job, friends). Every time you go back to him after he beats you, you teach him that it's okay.

You also teach yourself that you are not worthy of protection. This is a lie--you are absolutely worthy of protection and I'm sorry no one ever taught this to you.

Continue reading "ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS: LISA"S REPLY" »

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