Rescuing Your Most Important Relationships

Posts tagged ‘Couples Solving Problems’

Wise Words From My Morther-In-Law

n-HAPPY-MIDDLE-AGED-COUPLE-large570Is advice from a 60 year relationship worth listening to? I think so! My in-laws have just celebrated their 60 year anniversary, and recently my mother-in-law had some words of wisdom that she shared with me. One of her grandchildren had asked her “how can you tell when you are in love”, and  this is what she said.

“How do you tell when you’re in love? I had to stop and think. My mind came up with several words- all that begin with the letter P.

Privacy– way up there as a priority, it lets a person feel free and be himself.

Passion– way up there too, what’s the fun without it?

Politeness, Persistence, and Patience

Politeness– way up there, treat the one you love as politely as you would a stranger. Other basics- bite your tongue, don’t put words in the air you’ll have to apologize for later, and perhaps, most of all,  a wanting more to be with someone than not to be with someone.”

“A person needs to fall in love over and over again- how nice if it’s with the same person each time!

People change and I believe about every five years you recognize, hey, is he (she) different now? Then it’s time  to take inventory of yourself and your life, and for me, to remember back to how loving someone all started and finding if the spark is still there? For me, the answer keeps being Yes, and I find myself really falling in love again. That’s what makes life fun- with the new person that I’m living with.”

My father-in-law also put in his two cents at our wedding. He was asked by the DJ what he thought the best relationship advice was- and his answer? Just one word- “Trust”.

Personally, I don’t have the experience and wisdom of 60 years behind me, but I have seen quite a few couples over the years in the practice. It’s very true= the couples that do well with improving their relationships are patient and kind to each other, and willing to see each other from a new perspective, even through some really difficult times. Couples that treat each other with disrespect and disdain are destined for divorce. (I know, a lot of “D words” but it’s true.) Fondness and admiration can go a long way in helping to solve problems, generate resolutions and create intimacy.

So, take these words of wisdom from a successful, long term relationship to heart. And to my mother-in-law:

Thank you, Phyl, for the sage words and wisdom from the heart. I truly appreciate you being a marriage mentor in my life. 

These 3 Questions Can Save Your Relationship

show_you_mine_show_me_yours_2_750x420px_300xp-750x420What’s the greatest predictor that your relationship will go bust? It’s not problems in the bedroom, secret lovers or conflicts over raising your kids. If you want your relationship to survive, research suggests the key is knowing how to talk about cash.

“Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce,” said Sonya Britt, program director of personal financial planning at Kansas State University. “It’s not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It’s money – for both men and women.”

She led a study of 4,500 households that showed that the more couples argued about cash early in a relationship, the more likely they were to divorce. Arguments about cash were longer and more tenacious than any other source of marital rancor, the study found.

And it isn’t always about lack of cash, either. This trend cuts across socioeconomic lines – even wealthy couples were found more likely to divorce if they had money arguments early in the relationship, according to the study.

“It may be that fights about money are actually fights about deeper issues in the relationship – power, trust, etc. If these deep issues in the relationship are problematic, then these couples may be more likely to divorce,” study co-author Jeffrey Dew told the Huffington Post.

Simply put, couples that learn how to talk about their cash stand the best chance of survival. Here are three key questions research suggests every couple should ask.

Read next weeks blog to find out about these 3 Questions!

Book of The Month

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference  

 “Where does ‘highly happy’ come from-and can we have some too?!”

Have you ever looked at a blissfully married couple and thought, I wish I could know their secret? Now you can. After years of investigative research, Shaunti reveals twelve powerful habits that the happiest marriages have in common.

Best news of all? Anyone can learn the secrets of a highly happy marriage!

In The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, Shaunti Feldhahn shares her findings about little, very unexpected, often overlooked actions that make a huge difference. You’re about to discover that highly happy couples:
* Go to bed mad
* Keep score (just not in the way you think)
* Boss their feelings around
* Have factual fantasies
* Get in over their heads
* Don’t tell it like it is
* Don’t look to marriage to make them happy…

Packed with eye-opening research and practical helps, this book delivers relationship insights that will take your marriage from “just fine” to “just the marriage we’ve always wanted.”

Finding Greater Happiness

Greater HappinessSay the words “therapy session” and many people will picture an hour spent on a couch dredging up unhappy childhood memories. A different approach suggests that redirecting the focus onto the present and future can make people happier, healthier and lead to better relationships.

The method, called Time Perspective Therapy, involves figuring out which of six different outlooks a person has:

  1. past-positive (you love the past);
  2. past-negative (you have regrets and bad things happened in your past-or things that you now exaggerate as bad);
  3. present hedonism (you enjoy the present and like to reward yourself);
  4. present fatalism (you feel that events are beyond your control, so why bother?);
  5. goal-oriented future (you plan ahead and weigh the costs and benefits of any decision);
  6. transcendental future (you live a good life because you believe the reward is a heaven after death).

The best profile to have, says Philip Zimbardo, psychologist and professor emeritus at Stanford University, is a blend of a high level of past-positive, a moderately high level of future orientation and a moderate level of selected present hedonism. In other words, you like your past, work for the future-but not so hard that you become a workaholic-and choose when to seek pleasure in the present. Dr. Zimbardo, an influential thinker in this field who lectures widely, administers a 56-item questionnaire to determine a patient’s profile.

The worst time-perspective profile to have is a high level of past-negative coupled with a high level of present fatalism. “These people are living in a negative past and think nothing they do can change it,” says Dr. Zimbardo, co-author of the book “The Time Cure.” They also score low on present hedonism and have a low future orientation. People who are clinically depressed or have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder typically have this profile.

Our individual time perspective is influenced by many things, including family and friends, culture, religion, education and life events. As very young children, we were all pretty much purely hedonistic-focused on getting what we wanted when we wanted it. Some, but not all, of us become more future-oriented as we get older.

Read next weeks post to find out more about Time Perspective Therapy . . .

(Source: Dr. Zimbardo)

Communication – What is that? Continued . . .

MC900361044(1) Communication smoothers – are the methods and phrases that enhance and facilitate communication.  Here are a few:

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.   Good communicators are aware of their own ability to choose how they want to respond to another.  They do not react to others, but act from within to express who they really are at the moment.  Self-disclosure is their primary purpose for communicating.  They know that their own thoughts, feelings and opinions are not controlled by someone else or by circumstances outside themselves.  Therefore, they never blame others for their responses.  They make “I statements,” e.g.  “I think…,” “I choose…,” “I’d prefer…,” “I need (want)…,” or “I feel.”

WAIT AND INCORPORATE WHAT THE OTHER SAYS, rather than continuing with your own silent rehearsal of a reply or stream of thought triggered by the last sentence spoken.  Most of us tend to ignore what others say and either override their talking with our own, or plan what we are going to say next.  Don’t interrupt.  Wait and take in what the other is saying before choosing how you want to respond.  They may be agreeing with you!

FOCUS ON WHAT IS ACCURATE ABOUT WHAT THE OTHER IS SAYING.   When we only focus on the disagreements or inaccuracies of what our communication partner is saying, we become confused, or respond to something entirely off the topic.  If you have a question about what you hear, say, “I understand you to say… Is that accurate?”

DON’T CONTRADICT.   What the other is saying is always valid for him/her.  Others always have a different frame of reference than you.  The primary purpose of communication is to mutually understand each other’s point of view.  You may state your disagreement, but avoid the phrase, “Yes, but…” When you contradict another, you invite defensiveness or justification rather than clarification.

KEEP YOUR VOICE PITCH AND VOLUME AT A COMFORTABLE LEVEL.   Screaming may help relieve you of anger, but it rarely invites others to listen to what you have to say.  You generate more heat than light, and you invite others to defend themselves or tune you out.  Take a deep breath then communicate thoughtfully and with no emotional charge.

PERSIST IN TRYING TO UNDERSTAND, AND THEN BE UNDERSTOOD.   We often “go quiet” or leave the room when we feel frustrated, or want to use no response as a silent statement or communication weapon.  If you both agree to a “cooling off period,” then you both may want to leave or become silent.  Otherwise, stay with the process until you are both satisfied and feel understood.

MAKE SUMMARIZING STATEMENTS.   Regularly take the time to summarize what you have heard, what you have said, and what you both have accomplished in the conversation.  Be sure and include your own understanding of what the other has said.

Woman Listening to HeadphonesLISTEN TO YOURSELF.   Do you like what you are saying and how you are saying it? Are you responding in ways that accurately reflect your true thoughts and feelings? Listening to others is a critically important half of the communication process.  By listening to yourself you might learn something about yourself as well as about the topic you are discussing.

Source: Dr. Patrick Williams, MCC, BCC

Back on Track Continued. . .

ID-10014978 (2)5. Take your fighting gloves off. – Don’t duke it out. Instead, consider taking a time-out. “There’s a concept called ‘loss aversion’ in economics, which simply means we really hate to lose. And when we think we are losing, we fight like there is no tomorrow to try to win,” says Anderson. “It happens when couples talk about hot-button issues like sex, housework, money or the kids. If either person thinks he or she is losing, he or she will ratchet up the stakes and escalate the issue.” The next time you see a spousal spat going to a not-so-happy place, take a break and revisit the subject when neither one of you feels overwhelmed by the topic.

6. Just do it. – Yes, by “do it” we mean have sex. Intimacy is an important part of a vital relationship, and one of the first areas to suffer if feelings are floundering. But sexual encounters can also be one of the quickest ways to reconnect and rekindle with your partner. “Of the many forms of couple intimacy-a smile across a room, a kiss, a touch-sex has the potential to be the most powerful positive physical experience most of us enjoy,” says Joel D. Block, PhD, coauthor of Sex Comes First: 15 Ways to Save Your Relationship…Without Leaving Your Bedroom. “This is especially true if sex results in emotional fulfillment, better communication, security and reassurance.”

7. Burn your grudges. – It’s time to set some bad memories on fire. Literally. Sometimes hanging on to those “Do you remember the time you did such and such?” moments are the things that lead to relationship sabotage. Instead of carrying grudges around forever, torch them. “Write them all down on a piece of paper. Then set a timer for a certain amount of time. It might be 10 minutes. It might be 30. It might be the whole day. The point is: Give yourself as long as you need to really wallow in the misery of these grudges. Savor them. Get angry about them. Mutter about them. Do whatever you need to do to get sick and tired of them,” says Bowman. “Once you are done, say, ‘I will not think about these anymore. These grudges have lost their usefulness.'” Then take a match and burn them.

8. Don’t be overly confident. – Overconfidence can lead to complacency, which is not good for any relationship. According to Anderson, in a survey published in August 1993 in the journal Law and Human Behavior, couples who had recently applied for a marriage license were asked to estimate the average rate of divorce. Almost uniformly, they accurately predicted about 50 percent. Then they were asked to estimate the chances that they would get divorced. They answered zero percent. The problem with this statistic is that, if there is no perceived risk of failure, no “work” is put into maintaining the relationship-until it’s suddenly faltering. Don’t let yourself gloss over the little things. Don’t forget to make an effort to keep your romance alive. Don’t find yourself in a situation where you realize that you could have done more…when it’s already too late.

9. Write your spouse’s eulogy. – This one isn’t as macabre as it sounds. It’s more of an exercise in appreciation. Bowman suggests that you work on it a little at a time as a way to notice what your spouse does right (since these are the things you’d likely eulogize him with, not the negatives). “Think back over the years you’ve known this man. When did he make you laugh? When did he make you cry tears of joy? When did he surprise you? When did he feed the cat because the smell of cat food makes you want to hurl? Put it in the eulogy,” says Bowman. “The funeral fantasy will help you remember to appreciate your spouse.”

10. Remind yourself you have a choice to stay married. – Many people stay in troubled marriages because they believe they have no other choice. “They think that they are stuck, and they blame this sensation of being stuck on their spouse. But if you are stuck, it’s your fault and not your spouse’s,” says Bowman. That fact is, “you are not stuck; you have choices. Three of them: Do nothing and remain miserable; face your fears and try to save your marriage; ask for a divorce.” Choose to either be married or not. Make a choice. And wake up every morning and make that choice again. The surest path to happiness is knowing that you are not a helpless damsel in distress, but rather a woman who can make her own decisions. You have the choice to live happily ever after.

Source:  Women’s Day

Freedom of Love Continued. . .

Communicating CouplesWhen you enter into a relationship, it does not mean that your personal life stops. Your life does not totally change because you are with another person. You have to maintain your own individuality. You need to maintain the friendships, hobbies, interests and goals that you had before you met your partner. If you give these up for the sake of your relationship, you are giving up your life. When your partner first met you, they were attracted to you as an individual. It’s important that you keep your individuality– that’s what attracted your partner in the first place. Maintaining your individuality will enable you and your partner to build a mature loving relationship.

Many relationships fail today because one partner has given up too much of themselves for the other. You have to love yourself first, before you can love another.

It’s important not to confuse identity and individuality with flexibility in your relationship.

Individuality: is about the things that make you who you are.

Flexibility: is about compromise.

Compromise will always be necessary in any relationship that you have. In order to compromise, you have to be committed to honest communication of your feelings and needs at all times. In building a life together, problems will arise.

Problem solving through honest communication is the key to building a mature, loving relationship. Neither you nor your partner should give up anything that makes you the unique person that you are. It’s up to you and your partner to find the balance that you both need to succeed in a rising loving relationship.

by Paul Mauchline – “The Art of Loving”


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