Rescuing Your Most Important Relationships

Posts tagged ‘boundaries’

Top 10 Ways To Have The Best Holidays Ever!

The Christmas holiday season will soon be upon us. And with it will come the Happy Christmas Couplehope that this one will be truly magical. However, many of us quickly get bogged down in busyness, stress and old patterns. Here are 10 ways to turn that dynamic around and get that holiday magic back again.

1. Give yourself a break. Perfection-even perfect happiness-just isn’t possible. Let your best be good enough. Make a budget for both your time and your money-and stick to it. It really is the thought that counts.

2. Make conscious decisions. Get clear about what you really want to do over the holidays before compromising with others. If you don’t have a clear plan and clear intentions, it’s easy to get swept along by others’ desires. Even if you do compromise later, get yourself clear first.

3. Shorten your to-do list. What do the holidays really mean to you? For many, it’s about family and friends and spirituality. If an action or to-do item doesn’t add to your holiday spirit, scratch it off.

4. Say no when you want to. It’s very liberating- I promise! Try it and see- it sounds simple, but too often obligation trumps desire. When faced with options, choose the one that would make you happier.

5. Limit obligatory activities. If you can’t avoid certain events, limit the time you’re there.

6. Take good care of yourself. The old standards help keep stress at bay: eat healthfully, exercise, drink lots of water, and breathe deeply. Schedule time for relaxation and fun.

7. Start early. To avoid a last-minute frenzy that can bust your budget, start shopping or making presents now.

8. Ask for help. Reject any notion of martyrdom. The burden of preparations should not fall upon one person. The more specific you are in your request, the more successful you’ll be.

9. Establish new traditions. If you have experienced a major life-changing event, such as a death or divorce, consider doing something you’ve never done before over the holidays, such as travel to another country or take a cruise.

10. Get support. If a glorious holiday season feels completely out of reach, you may experience the holiday blues. Many people do.Don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way. Reach out for the support you need.

Coping with a Loved One’s Mental Illness

Witnessing the suffering of a loved one can be one of the most difficult situations we face. Among other things, we may feel powerless, frustrated and frightened. That’s true whether the suffering originates from a physical illness or injury, addiction or self-destructive activity.

When a loved one suffers a debilitating, persistent and chronic mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, those feelings can be compounded. Strange, unpredictable behaviors can be terrifying and confusing. Your loved one may suddenly rage at you with blame or be utterly dependent upon you for basic needs and emotional stability.

You may experience many confusing emotions yourself, including anger, grief, guilt, fear and sadness. As you struggle with each episode of illness and worry about the future, you may feel anxious and overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, since serious mental illness still carries a stigma, you may be keeping it a secret, resulting in increased isolation, frustration and difficulty because you may have no one to talk to about your feelings or no way to get information and support.

Read next weeks post to find out how To Help Yourself in coping with mental illness. . .

Saving Yourself From Self-Sabotage

When he was a boy, Stan vowed he’d never be a father like his own father-aloof, critical and emotionally unavailable. Yet, 30 years later, he catches himself treating his son harshly and constantly judging him for not measuring up.

Patricia loves her job and her boss. The only thorn is that her boss prizes punctuality and Patricia just can’t seem to be on time for anything, whether it’s a team meeting or that project that was due last week. What Stan and Patricia have in common is the all-too-common disease called self- sabotage. It eats away inside, creating a cycle of self-destruction with the result that we aren’t really living the

life we want for ourselves. Self-sabotage “hides inside us and toils against our best interest. If we don’t succeed in identifying and owning this sinister part, we can never be free,” says Stanley Rosner, author of The Self-Sabotage Cycle: Why We Repeat Behaviors That Create Hardships and Ruin Relationships.

Recognizing Self-Sabotaging Behavior

Numerous studies show that women are more prone to lower self-esteem and self-doubting thoughts. This leads to self-sabotaging behavior, according to author Nancy Good. In her book Slay Your Own Dragons: How Women Can Overcome Self-Sabotage in Love and Work, she lists several signs of self-defeating behavior that women (and men) can recognize:

  • Being overly passive, fearful, listless or indecisive, so that chances pass us by.
  • Having a chronically chaotic financial situation.
  • Being controlled by depression and anxiety.
  • Being controlled by compulsive behaviors to abuse alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food, physical exercise, etc. Being compulsively late. Expressing anger inappropriately.
  • Being mistreated by partners and spouses. Being stuck in an unhappy relationship but doing nothing to change the situation. Having a series of unsatisfying relationships.

Read next week for steps towards change on overcoming self-sabotage. . .

(AFC 2012)

Book of The Month

Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy

by E.J. James

Fifty Shades of Grey is a New York Times #1 bestselling erotic fiction paperback and e-book by E. L. James. Set largely in Seattle, it is the first installment in a trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of BDSM. The second and third volumes are entitled Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed respectively.  The New York Times noted that the series has sold around ten million copies, with book rights having been sold in 37 countries.

Reading Between the Lines

Well, you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the controversial “Fifty Shades of Grey” book by E.L. James (see it under the book of the month). With almost 5000 reviews under Amazon, everyone has an opinion of this book that sells itself as erotica, a romance novel or a BDSM manual, depending on your opinion. While many readers criticize the book for its bad writing, poor character development and repetitive language, I see something different. Something that I think that most couples can use, and take to heart.

Yes, the writing isn’t great, and the language is limited at best. The sex scenes are good enough for authentic erotica, and that is the first benefit of this book for couples. I have recommended the book as a tool for several couples in my practice, all with good results. If you are looking for a little spice, couples can re-enact the scenes (which they have) and really enjoyed the change in their sex lives.

While the sex scenes are titillating, E.L. James does a really good job in two other areas: trust and compromise. One of the main characters (Christian) has had severe sexual and physical abuse in his past, and must learn to have complete, total trust in his partner in order to move forward in the growing relationship. This is no easy task, and his partner (Ana) is very careful to take things at a slow speed, allowing Christian to make incremental steps towards sexual healing of his past.

These two characters must compromise at every step of the relationship, communicating to each other when they aren’t being clear, and creating their boundaries within their sexual and emotional experiences. They are continually aware of their own and their partner’s needs and wants, and negotiate their differences. As they readily compromise and trust each other, their emotional intimacy grows, and this is the key that expands their sexual intimacy as well.

So in my book, as erotica this book gets a decent grade. As a primer for fundamental principles that create great relationships, Fifty Shades gets an A.

7 Tips to Fighting Fairly

Many of us don’t like having conflict with our partners. It can be uncomfortable. However, it’s a very normal and even healthy part of a relationship, that is, as long as it’s done fairly. Bottom line: it’s about respect. You can be really angry and express those feelings in a respectful manner. Below are 7 tips that will help you keep the argument at a healthy level:

1)      Your partner is not your enemy. Without realizing it, when you begin to argue with your partner, you may be seeing them as a foe rather than a friend.

2)      Use “I” statements to say what is bothering you. Own your thoughts and feelings. Use a variation of the following phrase: “I felt_____ when you said/did ______.”

3)      Stick with one point at a time. If you tell your partner about all the things that are bothering you, your partner will feel overwhelmed, become defensive, and attack or shut down.

4)      Focus on behaviors, not the person. Avoid attacking the person. Focus on specific things he or she says or does that bother you.

5)      Avoid exaggerations. Using words like “never” and “always” are extreme and unrealistic. None of us is “always” or “never” doing this or that. Stick to your take on what has specifically happened.

6)      Leave the past in the past. If past mistakes are frequently brought into the present, it makes it very difficult for the relationship to heal. It’s like picking a scab over and over until a nasty scar forms.

7)      You can always call a truce. When an argument is getting to an atomic level, it’s time to call a truce. Usually people who want space will need to provide some reassurance to their partner so that they can walk away.

If you follow these 7 tips, you’ll find that arguments can be more easily kept at a respectful level. Maybe the outcome of the argument won’t be what you wanted (like an immediate resolution), but if you can keep the conflict at a healthy level, you won’t be experiencing the shame or guilt of handling the argument in an unhealthy way.

Bryan Norman 2011

Breaking Book News

“Keep Your Pants On” is now on Kindle! Now you can read it instantly and find out how to prevent cheating in your relationship.

No time to wait- here’s the link.

 We have a 5 star rating from our fans on Amazon!

Vampire Love

Let’s face it- you’d have to be living under a rock lately to not have noticed the extreme obsession with all things vampire related. Books, movies, and TV shows everywhere are touting vampires as the ultimate relationship partner. While you might think that this craze is a “teen” phase, it reaches far outside of that demographic group. Adults are consuming vampire literature at astonishing rates- some numbers report sales of paranormal romance as high as 500,000 per novel. We all know of someone who reluctantly admits to reading or watching vampire lore. Why are we attracted to these stories that revolve around being loved by a supernatural, magical being? Let’s take a look at what make Vampires a mouth watering relationship partner:

  •  Vampires see something unique and special in their chosen mate, waiting forever (literally) to connect with that one true love. What mere mortals can learn from this:  Pure, limitless, eternal desire cannot be competed with! But, we can certainly make an effort to sustain our relationships by making choices that enhance the partnership, not tear it down. This creates a bond that can be eternal.
  • Vampires are mind readers, knowing their mate’s every thought and emotion.  As enticing as it might be to have your partner read your mind before you ask them to take out the trash, most of us can’t quite achieve that goal. For you mortals that cannot read minds, here’s a new thought- just ask your partner what they are thinking or feeling. We might think that we  can read  our partners minds, but we can’t. Most people want to share their emotions with their loved one, so simply asking is a great way to find out without blood being shed.
  • Vampires are frequently portrayed as heroes; having high morals,  behaving in a chivalrous fashion, continually fighting against their own dark side and resisting their natural inclination to  feed off of humans.  Who can resist a hero? When you see someone continually fighting for  a higher, greater good, that is an aphrodisiac in itself.  Having someone fight for YOU is pretty romantic too. And since we all have a dark side, we know how much energy it can take to keep that at bay.  When someone is able to overcome their deficiencies and still have moral fiber, that’s a good partner.

So, Vampire lovers may appear romantic and exciting, but we can make our own relationships bloody darn good as well. And you can always dress up as a vampire.

Kelly Chicas 2011

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