31 posts categorized "RELATIONSHIP TIPS"

February 26, 2013

Dealing with Relationship Stress: Break it Down

IStock_00disgustmallRecently I’ve been working on the first five of ten questions from the TED MED Greatest Challenges project. My questions happen to be on Coping with the Impact of Stress. Because so many of us grapple with stress, I thought it would be a valuable topic for a post. Be sure to check out the TED MED site for more information from experts on a wide variety of interesting topics. My topic will be up sometime next week (http://www.tedmed.com/greatchallenges/challenge/302?ref=the-team). 

Most of us feel stress from time to time and many people feel chronic stress much of the time. As many of us are well aware, stress can greatly impact your body, mind and overall life. And stress from a relationship, can really throw your life into a tailspin. Relationship stress can be long-term and chronic or can be a sudden jolt that rocks your world. The chronic form often is the result of long-term poor treatment, high conflict, addiction or distancing and lack of warmth or affection. Sudden jolt stress often is the result of an affair, a sudden change such as loss of a job, a health crisis, etc. Regardless of what the source of your relationship stress is, the strategies for managing it are the same.

Below are several tips on how to handle high levels of stress resulting from your relationship:
1.    Pause and take a step back. The first thing you want to do is to simply pause and don’t do anything. Put some space between you and the problem, your feelings and your reactions to the problem. Slow yourself down and breathe. Take a few slow, deep breaths and calm your heart rate down before making any decisions or reacting in any way.
2.    Don’t go into all-or-nothing/black-or-white thinking. Keep your thoughts on the present and avoid thinking about how this incident or this relationship is going to play out or impact you in the future. The truth is you don’t know. Simply stay focused on today, this issue and this moment in time.  If it is a chronic issue, stay focused on the issue that is creating the stress/problem and don’t expand it beyond the relationship or issue.

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December 11, 2012

Stop Being Dismissive in Your Relationships…NOW

IStock_0eyerollingallDismissiveness seems to be a common problem in relationships, although if you were to ask people if they see themselves as dismissive, many would say no. When people minimize, ignore or defend against someone else’s feelings, upsets or concerns, they are being dismissive. The underlying message with dismissiveness is, “That’s a silly thing to think/worry/be upset about—move on.” Some people will directly say this, while others are a bit savvier with how they send this message. Regardless of whether a person directly or covertly dismisses someone, dismissiveness is toxic to relationships.

Below are 10 statements and behaviors that are red flags for dismissiveness. Read all of these carefully and avoid using them in your relationships.
1.    “You’re too sensitive.”
2.    “Stop making such a big deal out of things.”
3.    “Just relax.”
4.     “You’re/we’re/things are just fine.”
5.    “There are more important things than this...really.”
6.    “So what? You have your health don’t you?”
7.    “I don’t see what the problem is—would you just let it go?”
8.    Rolling your eyes.
9.    Ignoring or shutting down the conversation.
10.    Getting defensive about complaints about you.

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September 10, 2012

Tips For Building Intimacy

IStock_0dating(2)When it comes to building intimacy, people often think it takes major efforts over a long period of time.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Building intimacy is in the little things and it starts with a genuine love and respect for the other person. 

Below are five stepping-stones to building intimacy in a friendship, romantic relationship or family.  The more consistently you implement these, the more intimacy and trust you will create in your relationships.

1.    Speak honestly:  We cannot have intimacy if we’re not willing to tell our truth to those we love.   Sharing our truth with compassion is one of the greatest gifts we can give to someone.  Even the difficult truths are gifts. It doesn’t serve us to pretend things are fine if they aren’t.  It doesn’t help us to say our relationship is great if they aren’t. When we can have the courage to truly tell the other person what is going on for us (in a grounded, respectful way), we begin to build true intimacy. 
2.    Share yourself:  Relationships are about connection.  One key way we get and feel connected is by sharing our stories with one another.  It’s incredibly intimate to share one’s dreams, fears, ideas and even embarrassments with another and trust that they can hold that information with love. Intimacy means: “Into-me-you see”, if we’re not sharing ourselves with our loved ones, we create distance not intimacy.

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December 29, 2011

Here’s To The Abnormal Relationship And Setting The Bar Higher (Part II)

Recently I wrote about the first five characteristics or creating great relationships rather than “normal” ones.  Below is Part II of setting the bar higher and the remaining five of 10 characteristics of healthy relationships. Enjoy.

6.     Giving. Go out of your way now and then to do a kind act.  Take time to think about what the other person likes (not what you like) and that to them.  If they like to hear compliments—compliment; if they like to see actions—show them action; if they want you to listen better—tune in and listen.  Give them what you know they would love to receive rather than what you think they need.
7.     Mutuality.  Great relationships are about give and take.  There’s a natural rhythm of two people equally giving to the other.  In not so great relationships, it’s more common for one person to be the giver while the other person often takes.  Make sure you are neither the one always giving nor the one always taking.
8.    Personal Strength.  Cultivate the ability to set limits and hold your own in a relationship without squashing the other person in the process.  Being able to share your thoughts, ask for your needs and wants and to hold loved ones accountable for how they treat you are all imperative to great relationships.

Continue reading "Here’s To The Abnormal Relationship And Setting The Bar Higher (Part II)" »

December 19, 2011

Here’s To The Abnormal Relationship And Setting The Bar Higher (Part I)

IStock_00happyolder coupleXSmallI often get asked what is “normal” in relationships; I don’t ever want to answer the  “normal” question.  I don’t like to answer this because I believe that the norm for couples is way below par.  It is way too common for couples to be yelling, cheating, acting selfish and in general acting anything but cherishing to their partners. 

I want to move away from “normal” as a goal for couples.  Striving for the average relationship is truly setting the bar way too low; you deserve better than normal—trust me.  How about we all strive for the abnormal when it comes to relationships.  Let’s all try to do things differently from the way most people are doing it.  Let’s try to truly create relationships that are loving, respectful and feel great to be in.  Shall we?

Here’s to the abnormal!  Below are the first five of 10 characteristics of healthy relationships.  I encourage you to work hard to incorporate each and every one of these into your closest relationships.
1.    Cherishing.  Genuinely treat your loved ones as though you cherish them—through your words and actions.  Be kind, compassionate, complimentary and understanding.
2.    Respectful.  Refuse to call your loved one a name, swear at them in anger or treat them with disrespect in any way at any time—even in anger.  If you mess up—repair it without excuses or justification.  Simply own your mistake, apologize and STOP doing it.  Speak to your loved ones as though they are close friends whom you greatly admire.
3.    Authentic.  Be honest.  Tell your truth with compassion and…tell it.  Without honesty there is no trust and without trust there is no healthy relationship.  Refuse to lie.  If there’s something you’re struggling to say, tell them you need to think about it and get back to them.  Do not justify your lies because of their expected reactions—set a limit on their reactions and control your lies.
4.    Affectionate.  There’s nothing like a pat on the back by a friend, an understanding hug from your partner or a high five from your teenager to let you know you matter.  Great relationships require some affection; they require warmth.  Be warm to those you love: squeeze their hand, ruffle their hair, give them a kiss, high five them, etc.  Show the love!
5.    Accountable.  Making mistakes is part of our humanity, however, it appears that owning these mistakes is not so much a part of humanity.  Learn to apologize, accept when you are wrong and then repair it.  Repair requires an apology, an action and due diligence to insure it does not keep happening.  The abnormally healthy relationships are high on accountability.

Creating healthy relationships requires that we be mindful of our actions rather than reactive.  Without being deliberate about how we show up in the world we are all destined to stay “normal” which is doing all of our relationships a true disservice.  Dare to soar past the norm and into great.

Challenge: Scan the relationships in your life and of those around you and honestly ask yourself how all of you are doing.  Look over these characteristics and pick the two that you are weakest in and focus on those.  Pay attention to any shifts that occur.

May 26, 2011

A Letter to Mothers and Fathers-In-Law

IStock_00motherinlaw(2) With the most recent royal wedding, I seem to have new marriages on my mind.  I’ve been thinking, in particular, about the new family dynamics that occur whenever a new marriage takes place.  We’ve all heard horrifying in-law stories throughout the years and some of us may have experienced some of these hardships up close.  Too many people have no idea how to maneuver these in-law waters with any skill.

Below is a little cheat sheet for the parents of the brides and grooms of the world on how to start their relationships with their daughters/sons-in-law off on the right foot.

1.    Be the first to reach out a welcoming hand.  Remember that your son/daughter-in-law is entering your family—not the other way around.  They will be anxious, hopeful and on guard about you so help put them at ease.  They will feel like the outsider and will be waiting for your lead.  Lead…and do so in a positive way.
2.    Go out of your way to make your child’s spouse comfortable with your family.   Keep an eye out for them at family gatherings and make sure you’re inclusive.  Introduce them to other family members, talk with them when you notice they’re off by themselves and treat them as you would want their parents to treat your daughter/son.

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July 27, 2010

Say It Straight Or Don’t Say It: Hazy Communication Is Not Helping Your Relationship

Too many people send hazy messages, speak in cryptic ways and are anything but direct when it comes to communication.  Often this hazy communication happens with the best of intentions.  For example, they don’t want to hurt another’s feelings, they’re afraid the person will get mad or they don’t want to get into a conflict.  They may even be afraid they’ll lose the person if they speak directly.  Unfortunately, the very thing they’re trying to avoid is often the thing they ensure will happen.

When we beat around the bush, say only part of what we mean or hold things in and expect our partners to know what’s going on for us, we’re off.  It is not our loved one’s job to read our minds or decipher what we mean.  It is our job to clearly state what is going on for us.  It’s our job to specifically ask for what we want.  And it’s our job to tell our loved ones what will happen if things continue to go poorly in our relationship.  It’s also our job to then ACT on those words.

If you’re unhappy in your relationship, your first step is to clearly state that you’re unhappy.  Be clear about what you’re unhappy about and what difference you want to see: “I’m unhappy with our relationship.  You’re often snapping at me or the kids, you come home and get on the computer and then you go to bed.  The only interaction you seem to have with us is to tell us to leave you alone or to reprimand the kids.  I understand that you’re stressed…and…I need you to speak to us with a softer tone, get off the computer at night and join the family.”

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June 08, 2010

Want That Spark? It’s The Little Things That Create The Biggest Shifts

Many couples complain that they’ve lost the spark.  They end up talking about what they’re not feeling, analyzing what they’re not feeling and questioning whether they will ever feel “it” again—at least feel “it” with one another. 

In my experience, we need to stop complaining about what we’re not feeling and start taking steps to feel it again.  There will always be periods in any long-term marriage/relationship when the spark will feel like it’s in severe hiding.  Not feeling the spark in a relationship is not the problem, however; not working to get the spark back is a problem.

Stop acting like it’s a huge issue and instead see it as a natural part of any long-term relationship.  The sexual intensity, exciting energy or that all-elusive “spark” naturally ebbs and flows.  When you feel it losing steam—pay attention; when you feel it flowing—pay attention.

Getting the spark back starts with the little things:
•    Speak kindly to one another in words and tone.
•    Incorporate tender touches into your daily interactions.  Rub your hand across the small of your partner’s back, hold hands, snuggle on the couch, greet them with a five second kiss vs. a peck, cuddle in bed.  Make non-sexual, affectionate contact.

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April 29, 2010

The Five Things I’ve Learned From American Idol

IStock_00guitar player

American Idol is a great show to watch if you want to learn a few lessons about owning your power, not playing small and daring to step up and create your future.  Below are the five most glaring lessons I pull from this show every time I watch it.  These are great lessons for relationships as well as careers.  Dare to step up and earn your place...

1.  Confidence, confidence, confidence!!!  It is nearly impossible to be successful in life or our relationships if we don't have healthy self-esteem.  Healthy self-esteem is the foundation upon which everything else rests.  If you don't believe in yourself, this is where you need to start.  When you don't believe in yourself the world sees this--no matter how hard you try to hide it.  The world then holds you in the same light as you hold yourself.  On American Idol, most, if not all, of the singers are talented; the ones who go the furthest, however, are the ones who own that talent rather than constantly doubt it.

2.  Stop defending and start listening!!!  Critical feedback can help you soar or take the wind out of your sails and sink you.  Which it does, depends on you.  When people take the time to tell you how they perceive you, this is priceless.  Stop defending and trying to pretend that they don't see what they see.  Acknowledge it, use it to learn from and change it.  When you're able to do this, pat yourself on the back and give yourself credit for having tremendous courage.  The judges on American Idol are trying to fine tune the skills of the singers.  There's nothing more frustrating than the singers, who have little experience, getting defensive about the feedback.  Defensiveness blocks intimacy, makes you look bad and leads to frustration for those on the receiving end of your defensiveness.

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April 15, 2010

Things I Know About Relationships

1.    I know relationships can’t work if there’s violence from either party.
2.    I know that covering up for an alcoholic or addict only prolongs the inevitable.  Just because you pretend it’s not there, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
3.    I know that if you never say you’re sorry, your loved ones will grow tired and…you’re going to be sorry.
4.    I know that if you silence, avoid conflicts and refuse to address issues directly, you will be stuck with what you have. 
5.    I know that the more you threaten to do something, yet never do it, the more you teach people not to trust your words.
6.     I know that when one partner bullies or rages, there is a high probability that the other partner will leave if the bullying doesn’t stop.  What I don’t know is when.

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