Sunday, March 28, 2010

Relationship tip of the week #40-Hold Me Tight-The Very Best Investment

This week i am featuring a blog by Sue Johnson that i think you will find informative and interesting from both emotional and financial points of view.

Hold Me Tight
How to feel truly loved by your partner via principles of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy.
by Sue Johnson

Sue Johnson is Director of the Ottawa (Canada) Couple and Family Institute and the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy. Her latest book is Hold Me Tight.
The Very Best Investment
Investing in your primary relationship builds value & pays big dividends
Published on February 11, 2010

What does the fact that the stock market has fallen mean for families, for couple relationships?
"Love conquers everything except poverty and toothache", Mae West said. We know that financial stress drags marriages down. Money and how to manage it is a sure source of conflict in many couple relationships - and this was clear even before the last market melt down. A 2006 study in Money magazine found that 15% of couples fought about money several times a month. Even in strong marriages, stressors such as job losses, salary cuts or working longer hours can trigger angry outbursts of frustration or numbed out silences that quickly take a marriage into the danger zone.Do we even have time for building a resilient marriage anymore? As financial and career pressures increase, giving time and attention to your marriage also gets harder and harder. Just as we all need a little more loving consolation and support from our partner, it seems to be harder to find.
But some relationships seem to be able to weather storms like this just fine! What is the secret to being able to stand together and ride the waves life throws at us all, whether it's a sick kid, a medical diagnosis, or a lay-off ? The new science of love gives us a very clear message that resilience, both personal and in a relationship, is all about the strength of our bond - the quality of our emotional connection with the people we love.
Let's look at a couple of dramatic examples. First, a study of Israeli prisoners of war who had been isolated and tortured, found that the men who could call on their sense of being loved by their partner could actively use this felt sense of being loved in their prison cell to give themselves hope and the courage to fight on. Maybe this is a little like what I do when I am in a plane taking off in rough weather. I sit back and listen to my husband's soothing voice telling me that he would not let me do anything dangerous and I am coming home to him. I believe him. Evidence shows that just thinking of our loved ones triggers a cuddle hormone called oxytocin in our brains and this hormone gives us a sense of calm contentment and turns off the stress hormones that are keeping our brain on high alert. But the securely attached Israeli prisoners not only engaged in imaginary conversations with their wives in their prison cells, they were also able to recover faster and more completely once they were released!
This kind of research is just part of the growing evidence that we are not built to face stress and anxiety alone. Our most basic instinct, which is to reach for someone we love when things get rough, is our most powerful survival skill. The touch of someone we love literally calms the jittery neurons in our brain. In another study, women lying in an MRI machine who were told they were about to receive an electric shock, were able to use the touch of their husbands hand to calm the stress centers in their brains and lessen the pain of the shock. After all these years we are literally finding proof for the power of love !!!!!
In our work with those who constantly find themselves in harm's way, such as policemen, firemen and military couples, we have learned that the most effective antidote to stress, ongoing fear and catastrophe is a safe haven bond with a partner. What do these couples learn to do that we can apply to our relationships when monetary crises hit?
1. Partners can learn to offer, the most precious gift of all - themselves and their caring when their partner needs comfort. Often we try to "fix" our partners anxiety or pain with advice or ideas about what he or she should do. This usually backfires. What our partner needs from us, especially when he or she is filled with uncertainty, is emotional closeness and support. So saying, "This is so hard. I know you are scared, but I am here and we can do this together," isn't just kindness, it has the ability to turn off the alarm centers in your partner's brain. Your very emotional presence is reassuring.
2. Holding up a loving mirror to our partner is key. We so often blame ourselves when bad things happen: "If only I had worked harder or taken that other job, or invested in different things." Our partner's compassion is an antidote to this kind of self- criticism. If he or she can tell us that we did the best we could and what had happened is not our fault, we can sometimes accept that ourselves!
3. We can learn to pinpoint the emotional triggers that can move us into agitation and irritability or into numbing out and distancing. These moves always impact your partner and make it harder for him or her to support you. They create distance in your relationship. Jim is able to tell his wife, "I just got caught in the Gloom thing again and so I got irritable with you acting happy just now. I don't want us to get into our ‘I complain while you get exasperated and move away' routine. I don't want this stress to come between us. Maybe I just need to talk to you."
4. The last comment Jim makes here is the real key to dealing with stress in our relationships; to be able to turn to your partner and ask for what you need. This is an act of strength and courage. You ask for the emotional support and reassurance you need. Each time you can do this and your partner can respond you are building a safe haven relationship that no stressor can destroy. We know that when partners can do this they are stronger and more confident as individuals and they create stronger more loving bonds.
When we are in trouble and face an unpredictable future, this is when we need our love relationships the most. Our 25 years of research with couples tells us that when we can stand together, we can face any crisis that shows up - if we just hold each other tight.
And by the way, secure lasting marriages are good for the economy. Married folks are healthier and are able to pool resources, so have more wealth and economic assets. On the other side of the coin, a recent research report estimates the cost of a divorce for American society as a whole at about $25,000, including factors such as the need for subsidized housing or lower tax revenue. A small improvement in the health of our marriages would, the experts agree, not only help us cope better with the economic crisis, but result in enormous savings for tax-payers. But, for most of us, the most pressing point is that attending to and turning to your relationship is the best investment you can ever make - the best way to save your sanity in any economic downturn. If we have each other, we can survive any storm

Monday, March 15, 2010

Relationship tip of the week #39-Feed the positive dog

This week's blog will feature my son, Jon Gordon's newsletter on being positive. Before we can truly be positive to our partners we have to be able to establish a positive realtionship with our self. Below are a number of ways to choose to be a positive individual.

Jon Gordon's Weekly Newsletter-Positive Strategies to Fuel Your Life and Career

March 15, 2010

Feed the Positive Dog

Are you dealing with stress at work? Is fear knocking you off balance? Are financial worries causing you to lose sleep?
The answer is to feed the positive dog.
If you read The Energy Bus you know I share a simple story about a man who travels to the village to speak to the wise man. He says to the wise man, "I feel like there are two dogs inside me. One dog is positive, loving, kind and optimistic and then I have this fearful, pessimistic, angry and negative dog and they fight all the time. I don't know who is going to win." The wise man thinks for a moment and responds, "I know who is going to win. The one you feed the most. So feed the positive dog."
The fact is we all have a positive and negative dog inside of us. It's part of our human nature. The key is to feed the positive dog and starve the negative dog. The more we feed the positive dog the bigger it gets and the stronger it becomes. The actions are simple. We just need to make them a habit and do them every day. Here are a few ways to feed the positive dog.
Practice Gratitude - You can't be stressed and thankful at the same time. Gratitude is like muscle the more you do it the stronger it gets. Take 10 minutes each day and make a list of what you are thankful for. You will fill your body and brain with costless and priceless anti-depressants.
Take a Walk of Gratitude - I do this each morning and it feeds me all day long.
Turn off the News - Starve the negative dog.
Smile More - It enhances your serotonin levels and uplifts you.
Focus on Get to vs Have to - Read the article here.
Read Uplifting Books - I happen to know of a few good ones :)
Get together with a positive, uplifting person.
Call or visit someone who has made a difference in your life and thank them. (research shows this is a huge happiness booster)
Write a Few Thank You Notes Today - When you thank others you feed them and yourself.
Watch a funny movie that makes you belly laugh.
Mentor someone and be mentored by someone.
Focus on God instead of Gold - For more read, Matthew 6:33
Start a Success Journal - Write down the one great thing about your day. The more you look for success, the more you will find it.
Decide to Make a Difference - When you help other people with their problems you forget about your own.
I Challenge You:
I challenge you to pick 1, 2 or 3 strategies identified above and make them a daily habit. Do them for 10 minutes a day, every day for 30 days. Don’t wait. Start them today. Don’t just read this newsletter, say “that’s nice” and put it away. Identify what you will do, when you will do it and commit to it. Your positive energy and natural anti-depressants are more powerful than the negativity you face.
Accept this challenge and declare the actions you will take on our blog here.
Stay Positive!