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8 posts from March 2009

March 30, 2009

ALL THE WAYS WE NUMB OUT, ESCAPE AND MAKE OURSELVES UNAVAILABLE IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS

The other day I did a short tweet (for those who don’t know, this is the next big social networking craze where you write a short tidbit -- called a tweet -- about something and post it on Twitter.).  I wrote the tweet and found myself thinking about all the ways we zone out in our lives.

The other night, after a long day, I decided to kick back on the couch, play a little sudoku and just relax.  When our family decided to watch “American Idol,” I thought I would multi-task and play while I watched.  This did not bode well with my children, who were quick to tell me to put the game down and watch with them.  When I paid close attention to the difference of fully watching versus half-watching/half-playing, I was struck by the difference.  In one mode, I was actually present; in the other, I may as well have been in a different room.

Many people believe that being present means literally being in the same place as another.  As long as we’re in the same space, attending the same events or hearing the conversation, we think we’re present.  Some may even go so far as to say we’re being relational as long as we’re present.

If only relationships were that easy…

Continue reading "ALL THE WAYS WE NUMB OUT, ESCAPE AND MAKE OURSELVES UNAVAILABLE IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS" »

March 25, 2009

IS YOUR ANGER GETTING IN THE WAY OF TAKING ACTION? HOW WOMEN’S ANGER FOOLS US INTO THINKING WE’RE NOT “TAKING IT”

Tracy was so angry at her husband’s second affair she could hardly be in the same room with him without spewing out profanities, insults and endless tears.  She made sure she told him what a louse she thought he was and how it sickened her to even look at him. 

After her husband’s first affair, Tracy had been very clear that if it happened again, this marriage would be over.  When it happened again, she was clear that this was the last chance she was going to ever give him.  When he continued to have contact with his mistress, Tracy yelled and screamed and told him he had to leave if he continued to have contact. 

Each time there was an indiscretion, Tracy let her husband have it.  She was not going to take this kind of treatment.

This continued for years and became an endless dance of indiscretions and blow ups.  Tracy’s husband would minimize the incident and Tracy would “not let him get away with it,” making sure she yelled and screamed about his poor treatment of her.  She let him know what she thought.  She made sure he knew she was angry.  She was determined to not be like “those other women” who just lie down and take it.  She was going to fight back.

Continue reading "IS YOUR ANGER GETTING IN THE WAY OF TAKING ACTION? HOW WOMEN’S ANGER FOOLS US INTO THINKING WE’RE NOT “TAKING IT”" »

March 18, 2009

WOMEN & DATING: TIPS FOR FINDING THE RIGHT GUY

 

After working with hundreds of women throughout the years, I can safely say that women settle for poor relationships all the time.  This settling often starts during the early stages of dating and expands from there.  Therefore, I’m writing this post in an effort to help women stop settling and get off to a great, versus wobbly, start in their relationships.

 

If you’re a woman looking to find a lasting, healthy relationship with a great, relational man, then commit to changing the way you date.  Ignore much of the traditional advice about dating, such as:  be coy, keep them guessing, play hard to get, focus on them, etc.  If you’re serious about finding someone to have a future with, stop playing games and get real.  Below are five tips to help you find a great potential life partner.

 

  • Switch from being the “choosee” to being the chooser.  Too many women go into dating hoping the man will like them.  You need to be clear with yourself that you’re the one deciding if you like him.  Stop trying to bend yourself backwards to try to be attractive to him.  Know that you’re trying to figure out if he’s a good fit for you.  Pretend you’re an employer trying to hire the best person for the job.  Check their credentials, make sure they meet all the job requirements, be certain they have good social skills (treat you with respect, ask about you, listen, etc.) and don’t settle for less than you’re looking for.

Continue reading "WOMEN & DATING: TIPS FOR FINDING THE RIGHT GUY" »

March 16, 2009

CHRIS BROWN AND RIHANNA BRING TO LIGHT THE TRAGEDY OF RELATIONSHIP VIOLENCE: WHO’S TO BLAME?

Following an alleged incident between Chris Brown and Rihanna, the Boston Public Health Commission surveyed 200 youth ages 12-19.  The results:

  • 71% said arguing was a normal part of a relationship
  • 44% said fighting was a normal part of a relationship
  • 51% said Chris Brown was responsible for the incident
  • 46% said Rihanna was responsible for the incident
  • 52% said both individuals were to blame for the incident, despite knowing at the time that Rihanna had been beaten badly enough to require hospital treatment
  • 35% said the media were treating Rihanna unfairly
  • 52% said the media were treating Chris Brown unfairly

“In addition, a significant number of males and females in the survey said Rihanna was destroying Chris Brown’s career, and females were no less likely than males to come to Rihanna’s defense.” (http://www.bphc.org/news/press_release_content.asp?id=473)

First and foremost, let me be clear, that violence in relationships IS NOT NORMAL.  It’s abusive, toxic and tragic.  Physical fighting in relationships is NOT okay…it’s abusive!  Period.  If violence is occurring in your relationship…you are in a VERY unhealthy relationship; I’m very sorry no one taught you this.   

Continue reading "CHRIS BROWN AND RIHANNA BRING TO LIGHT THE TRAGEDY OF RELATIONSHIP VIOLENCE: WHO’S TO BLAME? " »

March 13, 2009

STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK MY BONES BUT WORDS WILL NEVER HURT ME: THE POWER OF WORDS IN RELATIONSHIPS

 

I often hear people proudly say that they’ve never hit their child or loved ones in an effort to defend how they speak to them (I.e.: “I may call my son a wimp, but at least I don’t hit him”).  I’ve never heard so clearly however, the absurdity of justifying ones words by the lack of physical beatings as I heard today when Sarah shared a little saying of her grandmother’s.  The loving saying (I say this in jest mind you) went like this:  “I never laid a hand on my children, but I could peel the skin off their back with my tongue”.

 

Yikes…I could not have expressed the toxicity of cutting words more perfectly myself, no matter how hard I tried.  You have to love these little quips for providing us with wonderful life lessons on what NOT to do. 

 

The reality is that words can be just as painful, scarring, and brutal as fists and belts.  Being proud of never striking your partner or child is wonderful… if you’re also being loving and respectful.  If you believe however, that as long as you don’t hit your loved ones you’re okay--think again.  Abuse is the maltreatment of a person and it is harmful regardless of whether the weapon of choice is your hand or mouth.

 

Continue reading "STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK MY BONES BUT WORDS WILL NEVER HURT ME: THE POWER OF WORDS IN RELATIONSHIPS" »

March 11, 2009

RELATIONSHIPS AND THE CRAZY GAMES WE PLAY IN AN ATTEMPT TO KEEP THINGS SMOOTH

Recently, while at a workshop with my long time mentor Terry Real, I was struck by his comment:  “It is co-dependant when you back away from functional behaviors because of fear of your partner’s dysfunctional behavior.”  I immediately started to chuckle when I heard this because I know so many of us do it.

 

We are constantly making decisions on how to approach our partners based on how we believe our partners will respond versus what the most relationally healthy move would be.  Here are several real life examples of this (the names have been changed to protect the innocentJ):

 

  • Karen has been angry for weeks about her husband’s affair but has chosen to stop talking to him about it because she knows he will continue to get defensive and tell her to just get over it.  She wants to ask him to go into counseling with her, however has chosen to not ask him because she is certain he will refuse.   
  • Ted has chosen to stay quiet about his wife’s rage because he knows if he tries to discuss it with her she’ll rage and get out of control.
  • Sally continues to clean the house, wash the dishes, cook, do the laundry etc., because she’s concerned that if she speaks to her husband about it, he’ll become angry and defensive.
  • Tom does not address his wife’s drinking because he’s concerned that she will dismiss him and tell him she only drinks so she doesn’t have to deal with him.

 

Continue reading "RELATIONSHIPS AND THE CRAZY GAMES WE PLAY IN AN ATTEMPT TO KEEP THINGS SMOOTH" »

March 04, 2009

THE RELATIONSHIP HIPPOCRATIC OATH: DO NO HARM…PERIOD!

 

 

“As to diseases,

Make a habit of two things—

To help, or at least do no harm.”

Hippocrates, The Epidemics

 

I’m often struck by the way so many of us treat our loved ones compared to how we treat strangers on the street or acquaintances.  It seems that often it’s our loved ones who get the worst of us and strangers who get the best. It’s as though we have been taught this crazy notion that the closer people are to us the more freedom we have to “let our hair down.”  This often translates into being hurtful, uncontained, and thoughtless.

 

That is absolutely a** backwards.  Intimacy doesn’t entitle us to be abusive, cold, brutally “honest”, or abrasive; in fact, intimacy entitles us to NOTHING.  Intimacy is a gift we share with those closest to us.  It is not a green ticket to be unconscious, thoughtless, and just “ourselves”.  Sometimes--just being ourselves--is not the best way to be.  Sometimes--the pause button we place on our actions in public is even more necessary to have in private. 

 

Continue reading "THE RELATIONSHIP HIPPOCRATIC OATH: DO NO HARM…PERIOD!" »

March 01, 2009

STOP MINIMIZING AND STAND UP FOR YOURSELF...RECOGNIZING WHEN YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU

 

I receive e-mails, blog comments, and inquiries from women and men all the time describing miserable relationships and poor treatment. 

 

For example:

 

* “I have 5 kids by my husband and he has two with another woman.  I have reason to believe she is pregnant again.  He is with her every other night.”

 

* “He doesn’t think I’m the most important part of his life.  All I know is that someone with a brain would not stand for this man.  He is arrogant, selfish, and self centered.”

 

*  “My fiancé and I have been together for nearly three years and are getting married in less than 6 months. Last week, I found out that he has been chatting, texting, and posting on sex sites. One site is for locals who meet up for "casual encounters" and his post was very disturbing.”

 

*  “She overreacted and then gave me the silent treatment for 3 days over one incident I did 20 years ago when I was just kid.”

 

*”Yes my girlfriend of 14 years has always cheated on me from day one.”

 

Unfortunately, in these e-mails is also a host of excuses for staying and continuing to take the poor treatment.

 

*  I’m a single parent, without a job, my son has ADHD, so he can be EXTREMELY difficult to deal with at times, and I just don't see a whole lot of men who would be willing to sign on, and begin a relationship with me.”

 

* “I’m staying for the sake of my son.”

 

* “But I love him and he loves me and there's so much potential…”

 

*  “I’m trying to move on from this and give him a last chance because I think he does regret things, but he's scared to tell me the truth”?

 

Unfortunately, the longer we stay in relationships that are hurtful, the more likely we are to stay in hurtful relationships.  Why?  Because each day we stay, without significantly standing up for ourselves (with our actions not just words), we chip away at our own sense of self worth.  We begin to question ourselves rather than our partners.  We start to feel horrible about how we’re being treated and even more horrible that we’re accepting the treatment.  It begins a vicious cycle that ends in even worse treatment and a greater loss of self. 

 

WAKE UP…if you’re being treated poorly than only you can stop that treatment.  Stop excusing your partner’s harshness, abuse, affairs, addiction etc., and start standing up for yourself and stopping it…even if that means leaving. 

 

First, try to do everything you can to change it…AND, if you’re partner is not willing to work it (i.e. end the affair, get into addiction treatment, get into couples therapy/coaching) then be willing to leave.  The cost of staying in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship is too high for you and/or your children. 

 

Acknowledge your fear and take the steps you need to take to get stronger.  Do not pretend that staying with a partner who’s having numerous affairs is going to be helpful to your children.  Stop settling because you think no one else would want you.  If you have no money—get to work so you don’t have to rely on your partner.

 

Get stronger and healthier and you’ll feel like a whole different person.  You will then realize you have a lot to offer someone and you won’t settle for less from someone else.  If your relationship is unhealthy, then YOU need to get healthy.

 

CHALLENGE:  If you’ve been excusing your partner’s poor treatment then commit to stopping that today!  Instead, get clear about the problem behavior and make a plan to directly address it.  Be clear with your partner what you expect and what you will do if s/he does not hold up their side.  Then follow through and do what you said.

 

Continue reading "STOP MINIMIZING AND STAND UP FOR YOURSELF...RECOGNIZING WHEN YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU" »

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