Sunday, March 20, 2011

Relationship ip of the Week #67-Long Standing Issues-Part 1

One of the most challenging problems for most couples is what to do about issues that have been part of the relationship for many years. These can be small irritating behaviors like leaving the cap off the toothpaste, forgetting to take out the garbage, coming home late for dinner or annoying eating habits. These can also be potential deal breakers such as whether to have children, major sexual differences, or addictions.

Today, i will address the former. So what does your partner do that annoys you and no matter how many times you have addressed it there is no change or any shift in behavior is short-lived? These are often deeply ingrained habits or ways of viewing the world that do not easily yield to reasonable requests or angy outbursts.

Here is my approach to this difficult challenge:

1) Since it is impossible to change another person, start by altering your own behavior and attitudes.
A) Calm yourself down-Is this issue as important to your overall happiness and well being as you are making it?
B) Give your partner the benefit of the doubt-perhaps the behavior in question is really difficult to change even though it appears to be a no-brainer to you.
C) Try a more positive approach in your requests. Ask with an open heart.
D) Do not give up when change does not occur immediately or there are relapses.
E) Look for ways to create new structures(set the clock ahead for lateness) or rituals(share a cup of coffee or tea after the garbage is taken out) which will encourage shifts in behavior.
F) Always reinforce any movement in the direction you are seeking with sincere expressions of warmth and love.
G) Thank your partner for the effort even though you believe that what you are asking is very simple and should require a minimum of energy.
H) Do not make it about whether your partner loves you.
I) Maintain your sense of humor.
J) Do not demean your partner's attempt to change even if it is not exactly what you requested.

Next Week-Deal Breakers

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Relationship Tip of the Week #66-How To Avoid Resentment Buildup

One little question and a lot of courage is all it takes to avoid one of the largest problems most couples face-Resentment Buildup.
How do you know when your partner's distance or irritability is being caused by some issue that he/she is not talking about. Besides if she/he is not talking, why ask for trouble-"If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Why ruin a good day or evening?
Unfortunately, when we do not talk to each other about the concerns in our relationship, symptoms begin to develop-distance, irritability, lack of sexual desire, addictive behaviors, depression or anxiety to name a few.
Take a deep breath, remember there is never a really a good time to talk about challenges, call up your courage and keep in mind that you are expressing your love and taking responsibility for attending to your realtionship and then ask:

Is there anything that you have not said to me this week that you are holding back or is troubling you?

Of course, the really hard part comes when your partner tells you a concern that is bothering him/her. Take another deep breath and whatever it is, thank her/him for sharing and say you will give it some thought and get back to him/her tomorrow. Even if you are not in agreement, you have helped the couple to have the opportunity to confront the problem rather than burying it and have it come back to "bite you" when you are least expecting it.

Next week: What about issues that are long standing and only cause fights when you try to talk about them.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Relationship Tip of the Week #65-How to end any arguement

How many of us have found ourselves involved in what seems to be a neverending arguement? Or the same arguement for the umpteenth time? Yelling, screaming, and tears usually ending with one partner giving in simply to end what feels like torture.

One simple sentence can put an end to this destructive behavior that most couples experience with some regularity:

"I will take what you are saying into consideration and give it some thought and get back to you tomorrow."

Naturally, there has to be a sincere willingness to do what you are saying. What is the best way to go about it?

1) Take some time to cool down and let the neo cortex(adult thinking) part of your brain kick into gear.
2) Ask yourself honestly if what your partner is saying has any validity. Even if there is only part of what has been said that you can see; acknowlege to yourself what legitimate points he/she has made.
3) Try to think out of the box. Are there options that you have not considered?
4) Remember this is your life partner for whom you often have loving feelings.
5) Make sure that you get back to your partner the next day whether it seems to be the right time or not. Share what you have come up with and ask your partner to not respond until she/he has given some consideration to what you have presented and get back to you the next day.

Obviously, this slows down the interactive process and gives each partner a chance to think more clearly. While this may not solve your differences, it will give you a better chance for resolution because each person has time to deal with his/her own anger and respond with more thoughtful and loving responses.