Thursday, January 28, 2010

Independence is good

Because you'll not always be thinking about your every move to make sure he's there to hold your hand. And by not always mentally editing your actions, thoughts and feelings to make sure he approves, you'll have more inner confidence too.

You'll also have a better relationship because no one wants a clingy, dependent mate. They want a partner with their own ideas, their own passions, their own life; someone who stays because they care, not because they're scared of being alone. The bottom line is that while too much is a bad sign, some interdependence is vital in love.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Improving relationship

There is no universal, ideal model against which a relationship can be evaluated. A "good relationship" is one that works for both partners and effectively supports them in achieving their goals. If this is not working at some point, it does not necessarily mean that the couple requires therapy. All relationships tend to encounter problems during stressful periods and at different stages, and many couples are able to resolve their difficulties without professional help. Some couples find that they are able to do so at one stage but not at another. Others may find that they are continually unhappy with their relationship. Sometimes one partner feels frustrated and misunderstood while his or her mate is totally unaware of the situation.

If the couple are unable to resolve issues in a manner that is acceptable to both partners, professional help should be considered. Many couples only consider therapy as a last resort. It may however, be helpful at any time, and sometimes seeking therapy soon after things get "stuck" prevents a buildup of frustration and disappointment.

Couple therapy is a means of resolving problems and conflicts that couples have not been able to handle effectively on their own. It involves both partners sitting down with a trained professional to discuss their thoughts and feelings. The aim is to help them gain a better understanding of themselves and their partner, to decide if they need and want to make changes, and if so, to help them to do so.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Making Time For Yourself

Spending too much time with someone for too long can be overwhelming. You may discover that taking a solo trip refreshes you, as well as your partner. You may find that you will miss your partner and it may take some time alone to realize this.

Focusing on yourself for a bit may, in turn, help you to focus on your relationship. For example, while you're on your own, you may discover that your partner often speaks for you. Understanding the root cause of this problem may help you communicate the issues to your partner more effectively.

If you and your partner are having relationship problems you should try to look at the problem and sit down with them to have a heart to heart alone talk with no interruptions. If this still does not work and you are still having relationship problems then counseling may be a good option.

The relationship is an investment in time and emotion. Because of this, you should take advantage of the time you spend together and, in a constructive way, come to terms with why the problems are occurring.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Listening, Talking, Then Speaking

If a conversation is brought up, and an argument happens, you should try to think why the argument came about. Sometimes you can provoke the argument, and you are not aware you are doing so.

For example, constantly criticizing your partner or dwelling on small details in a negative way is a way of provoking confrontation and not knowing it. Maybe you always harp on her clothes. Alternately, perhaps you incessantly complain that he's late when he comes home.

It doesn't matter what it is, if you discover this is happening, you should try to listen carefully when you speak. You should try to look into the future what will happen if you happen to say this or do that. You are the person who knows your partner better than anyone else; therefore use this to your advantage. Understand what triggers the arguments, and you may be able to solve them before they start.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Don' threaten!

The creative and destructive potentials of a marital relationship are enormous. Even the most loving relationship can degenerate into a vicious struggle between bitter enemies. In this dangerous marital game, nothing is sweeter than getting even and the only thing that counts is winning. Verbal and physical threats and abuse become the weapons of marital discord.

The only advice I can give to a couple that is engaged in such a struggle is: Seek professional help or, in the case of physical abuse, find immediate protection. Fortunately, most of us are not contestants in such a fierce and destructive battle. More than that, I'm assuming that each of you wants to learn how to create a peaceful and loving relationship. If so, let me be bold enough to offer a stern warning. Never threaten your partner or act in any way that frightens, intimidates or abuses her.

No matter how angry you are, make the following pledge to yourself: Under no circumstances whatsoever will I at any time make a verbal or physical threat toward my spouse. If it's not clear to you what a threat is, let me define it as any statement, gesture or act that is designed to create physical or emotional pain in your partner. A partner who threatens is a partner who feels deeply hurt and wounded by his spouse. The only way she knows to relieve her suffering is by making her spouse feel as miserable as she. If getting even seems more important than being heard, then you're one small step from a dangerous crisis.

If I were to ask most couples in an abusive relationship if they really want to hurt each other, they would invariably respond with the following answers: "No, I just get so frustrated when she doesn't hear me that I just lose it." Or, "I hate what's happening to us, but I've tried so hard to get him to understand me and he just refuses to listen. So, now all I want to do is hurt him." Out of pain and frustration, some couples resort to emotional and physical violence, believing it to be the only way they can protect themselves.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Don't act out

Acting out is indirectly expressing feelings and emotions through behavior. In marriage, couples act out by making messes, by withdrawing, by being emotionally and physically abusive, by becoming depressed, by being irresponsible with money and even by attempting suicide. There is no end to the ways that we have of saying, "I'm really angry at you."

One of the most common forms of acting out behavior is by being passive aggressive. Some typical examples of passive aggressive behavior are promising to do something and then failing to do it, leaving your clothes strewn around the room, being irresponsible with money, playing helpless and being uninterested in marital relations.

So, what is the solution for acting out behavior? The answer, not surprisingly, is direct communication -- learning how to say to your partner what's really on your mind. Acting out behavior masks the real problem and instead focuses the couple on the behavior itself.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Get rid of discounting statements

A discount is a remark designed to reduce your partner's self worth. Some examples of discounting statements are: "You're so lazy." "You're irresponsible and untrustworthy." "You're a terrible father and an awful husband." It's amazing how creative we can be when it comes to identifying our partner's blemishes. Most likely, each one of us can compile a detailed list of our partners' bad habits, unacceptable character traits and generally difficult behaviors. In the midst of an argument, the temptation to use this information can be overwhelmingly powerful.

Try to resist. If not, you can be sure your partner will react in one of two ways: he or she will either respond in kind or deny. Neither reaction solves problems or creates intimacy.

Instead of making angry statements that begin with "You," try making "I" statements. Examples of "I" statements are: "I feel angry when..." "I resent it when you do such and such a thing..." Not "You are such an idiot! "You are such a slob!" "You always leave messes!" "You're just like your mother. Both of you are disorganized incompetents." Her behavior won't change because of that piece of feedback.

However, it might, if you were to say, "You know, Greg, it bothers me when the house is not clean. I know you're busy and I know it's hard for you but I would appreciate it if you could clean it up." Now, I'm not promising that he won't be defensive, but I do believe he'll be less reactive than if you were to criticize him for his sloppy behavior.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Don't blame

How easy it is to say, "It's your fault. You made me do it. It's because of you that things are so bad between us. You're the reason I feel so miserable." It's so hard to look at ourselves and ask, "What's my part in creating the difficulties between us?"

Blaming is a form of disempowerment. In essence, when I blame I am saying to my partner that she controls my feelings and behavior. My relationship to her is like that of Pavlov's dog -- the bell rings, the dog salivates. My wife forgets to say hello, and I blow up.

When we blame, we deny our partner the opportunity to think seriously about our words and to respond in a thoughtful manner. Instead of expressing our legitimate grievances and feelings, we accuse and threaten, which only invites a similar response. The result is either a skirmish or an all out war, and, as we so painfully understand, all is fair in love and war and marriage is both.

So, what's the antidote to blaming? The answer is simple: Take responsibility for yourself. Putting it into practice, however, is a challenge. It's hard to give up that feeling of being right. It's so difficult to let go of that need to force a confession out of our partners. I'll let you in on a marital truth: Being "right" in a relationship is the booby prize. You win; the relationship loses. If you want the relationship to win, try looking hard at what your part is in creating the conflict. Ask yourself, "What am I doing to create distance and hurt?"

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Don't take your partner for granted

Marriage is probably the most effective and challenging training program for developing character. Many of the encounters we have with our partners afford us an opportunity to practice self-control, kindness and respect. At any given moment, for example, you could be confronted with a choice between lashing out in anger or communicating your resentment. At another moment, the choice might be between taking your partner for granted or expressing appreciation.

The injunction to stop taking your partner for granted is unique among the 10 Things. The only way to fulfill it is by performing a positive act, namely showing appreciation. You're either taking your spouse for granted or your acknowledging her kindness. There's no middle ground. It is also the best means for overcoming selfishness. In order to reach the point where you have a real desire to express appreciation you have to uproot three negative attitudes -- a sense of entitlement, unrealistic expectations and conscious amnesia.

Entitlement is that sense that whatever you do for me I deserve, so why bother thanking you. It's the attitude that my needs come first and it's your job to meet them. Closely aligned with a sense of entitlement is the attitude that if I expect it, you're obligated to do it. With entitlement and expectations, we relate to our partners as if they are extensions of ourselves, not unlike a baby's relationship to his mother's breast. When he cries, he expects to be fed immediately. Conscious amnesia or mindlessness is the art of ignoring or forgetting the obvious. We become oblivious to those small and large kindnesses that our partners do for us. I suspect a sense of entitlement or expectation leads to a state of conscious amnesia.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Silence As A Weapon

Silence is a deadly weapon. It's far better for a couple to engage in a non-violent, verbal fight where at least they can express what's bothering them than to resort to an icy silence where all they can do is imagine how many different ways they're angry with one other.

Silence is a form of emotional banishment. We punish our partners by cutting them off and refusing to acknowledge their existence. An angry silence communicates the message that my partner is the guilty party and if she wishes any further contact with me, then she will have to apologize and ask for my forgiveness. It is a powerful form of control and manipulation and has no place in a marriage.

Therefore, in order to resolve conflicts effectively, you need to learn how to express resentments in a way that can be heard, acknowledged and resolved. That skill is of utmost importance in a marriage; without it, small problems become major catastrophes.

So, how do you learn to say all those things that are so hard to say? And, how do you say them to a partner who may be reactive? There are no simple answers and like with the previous injunction of "Don't Say Yes, When You Mean No," you may need to seek professional help to learn how to resolve your marital difficulties. However, before you make that decision try the following exercise to help you to express your anger.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Making time for one another

There's no simple way around it, our lives are busy places. That time spent elsewhere, though, means time you're choosing not to focus on your relationship, and that can cause some real problems. Set aside time just to spend with your partner.

After being in the relationship for a long period of time, this can be the only way get control of the spiraling problems you may be experiencing. Try to set aside some time where you can have a good conversation or go for a walk. Setting aside some time to enjoy your time together can help make a healthier relationship.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Camera Critters #2

Take Your Relationship To a New Place

Getting away from the norm can be a healthy thing for a long relationship. Long relationships tend to create habits and routines that are hard to break for both partners. It is important to stay spontaneous in your relationship and this is not a new concept but a very true one. You can easily fall into routines such as getting up, going to work, coming home, eating, watching TV and then going to bed.

Try to spice it up a little and make different plans every few days and a couple of weekends a month. Remember, though, it is difficult to make these changes every single day, so try to space them out. Shaking things up too much can be as big of a problem as sticking with a routine.

There are lots of ways to break those routines. It doesn't matter if it is for a week, weekend, or just the day, as some time away from the norm can be very therapeutic. A nice option is to find a place where the romance can ignite, as you have some alone time with your partner.

Unfortunately, until it happens to them, many people do not think that living with an individual can make them lonelier than they've ever been in their lives. Studies indicate, though, that thousands in a committed relationship feel alone.

Not many people in relationships spend a lot of time with their partner, and they tend to take them for granted. Sometimes there are days when the couple does not even talk about anything that has real meaning. This can be negative on both sides, and by exerting some effort to pay more attention to your partner it can bring about a healthier relationship. Getting away from those old routines can help get the two of you where you need to be.