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5 posts from June 2008

June 24, 2008

CHANGING ME, CHANGES WE: WORKING YOUR RELATIONSHIP ALL BY YOURSELF

It seems that as we get older, we get more and more stuck in our ways.  For example, if I get really upset at my husband I tend to get quiet and stew.  I do this every time I’m really triggered and acting unhealthy (which is not that often of courseJ).  The point is I keep trying the same move no matter how many times it hasn’t worked. 

It’s like I become the crazy foreigner who asks for directions and every time the person says s/he doesn’t speak English I repeat the same exact question only louder and more slowly; like all of a sudden the person is going to magically understand English.  My brain is stuck on one path in that moment and I think that perhaps if I keep doing the exact same thing, only with more gusto, it will help.

Unfortunately, doing the same thing repeatedly seldom helps.  In fact, it often leads to more frustration.  So, many years ago I figured out that if I wanted something to be different, I had to act differently.  I actually had to stop shutting down and stewing and instead try a new approach.    My new move inevitably forced a new move from my husband which was awesome and actually fun to experiment with.  When my new move resulted in a negative move on his part, I changed the move until I got a result I was happy with. 

 

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June 17, 2008

COP TO YOUR MISTAKES AND BOOST YOUR RELATIONSHIP


  • Samantha asked her mother to please pick her up at school on time today since she has practice across town right after school.  Her mother immediately became defensive and started explaining all the reasons she’s late.  She told her daughter if she couldn’t handle her mother being a couple minutes late then perhaps she should find her own ride to practice.
  • Tom came into my office utterly frustrated that his wife would not acknowledge anything she did and seldom if ever apologized.  He believed that all his wife did was complained.  He said that when he tries to discuss this with her she frequently turns it on him by saying she wouldn’t have to complain if he would just do what she asked.
  • Sue is at her wits end with her husband’s snappy comments and subsequent defensiveness.  Every time she says she doesn’t like his tone, he gets defensive, says he didn’t have a tone, or blames her for not liking anything he does.

 

In all of these scenarios the couples are struggling with an accountability issue…and it’s eroding their relationships.  Many people struggle with taking ownership of their mistakes and instead they try to cover them up, blame them on someone or something else, rationalize them, or defend against them.  It’s as though the person believes that if they rationalize, justify, or defend their actions, it will trick their partner into thinking the action was okay.  WRONG. 

 

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June 11, 2008

BEING RELATIONAL EVEN WHEN YOUR PARTNER IS NOT PRESENT…THE IMPORTANCE OF AVOIDING PARTNER BASHING

It never ceases to amaze me how poorly people speak of their partners when not in their presence.  I hear women bad mouthing men in general, and their partners in specific, often.  I hear men making derogatory statements about their wives to their friends who laugh and give the “all knowing” men’s club look; you know, the one that says, “Oh yeah, we know how women can be” (nudge, nudge).  It seems the women are sure the men are no good, pigs, and the men think the women are irrational bitches.

Hmm, doesn’t seem to be a great recipe for love, respect, and partnership to me:  Does it to you?

Women and men, both, need to stop acting like adolescents and begin to be relational regarding each other--in front of the other sex, and behind their back.  If you go to your friends to talk about what a louse your husband is or what a bitch your wife is, the only thing that is likely to result, is further distance.  

Whenever a group of friends or acquaintances are joining around the ill of another gender, they are off.  If you’re in a group of women and you join in while they are degrading men, you are degrading your father, husband, brothers, sons, grandsons, etc.  Likewise, if you join in with a group of men in the degradation of women, you are degrading all women; your mother, wife, sisters, daughters, grand-daughters etc.

Grow up and be respectful, to all people and genders, at all times.  We are all human beings struggling to do the best we can.  We make mistakes because we are human, not because ALL women are… or ALL men are…   

If you don’t like something your partner did or does, go to your partner and discuss it with him/her.  If you need help figuring out how you want to handle something, speak to a friend who is going to hold you accountable for your piece and not just jump on the “bash your partner” bandwagon.  Ask your friend to help you problem solve, not just say it’s your partner’s fault; that may feel good in the moment but is certainly not going to help your marriage or your family.

Remember that the people closest to you are the ones you should be treating the best. Don’t bad mouth them, either to their face or behind their back;  when you do, it reflects poorly on you and your partner.

Partner bashing and gender bashing is a very easy trap to fall into… Have you ever found yourself getting caught up in this?

CHALLENGE:
  Pay attention to how you speak about your partner when s/he is not in your presence.  Commit to not join in on gender bashing or partner bashing, under any circumstances, and see what you notice.

June 07, 2008

ADDICTIONS AND RELATIONSHIPS

Addiction is toxic to families.  Regardless of which family member is the addict, all family members suffer.  Once a family member is under the grip of addiction, the entire family’s life gets turned upside down.  Regardless of what the addiction is (i.e. alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, etc.) it’s an incredibly painful situation to watch and to live in.


The change in moods, erratic behavior, and lies are particularly hard on families.  People can’t believe their loved ones would lie straight to their face. They can’t believe that s/he won’t just wake up one day and realize they are going down the wrong path and just change back.  They want to believe more than anything that their loved one will get it and go back to who and how they used to be…and so they wait…and they trust…and they wait…and they trust…and they…get burned.


If I could give families one piece of advice on addiction it would this:  DO NOT WAIT.  Get them into treatment as early as possible and with the best, most reputable addictions specialist as possible.  Do not play with fire; addiction will intensify in the blink of an eye.  If you’re premature, there’s no harm done; if you’re slow to act, you’re looking at a possible lifetime of fighting an uphill battle.  

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June 03, 2008

LIGHTEN UP…BRINGING FUN AND HUMOR INTO YOUR RELATIONSHIP

"The simple truth is that happy people generally don’t get sick."
(Bernie Siegel, M.D.)

“…and happy couples generally don’t get divorced”
(Lisa Merlo-Booth, M.A.)

Life is so stressful, busy, and pressured sometimes that we just forget to laugh.  We get so caught up in doing work, driving the kids here, traveling there, answering e-mails, making meetings, handling the finances, scheduling appointments etc., that we forget to LIGHTEN UP!

One of the best indicators of a good relationship, or a potentially good relationship, is humor.  Humor is a core strength in couples that helps the rough times not feel so bad and the good times feel great.  There’s nothing like a little playfulness and genuinely, innocent humor to help round out your day…and protect your emotional, physical, and relational, health.

Bringing a little humor into your relationship may be just the thing you need to add some spark.  Here are five quick tips to bring in some fun:

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