Sunday, November 27, 2011

Relationship Tip of The Week #85-The Conversation-The Challenge of Consistency

As most of us would agree. the challenge of consistency is one of the keys to developing any new skill. Whether it be sports, eating healthily, learning to use the computer, or communicating with your spouse, you must practice regularly until the skill becomes an integrated part of your life. Most skills do not come easily to most of us and it is not uncommon to give up or decide that we can't really succeed or it is a skill that is not too important. However, i think most of us would acknowledge that talking with our partner in an effective manner is a skill that is worth learning.

What can you do to overcome the challenge of consistency in speaking with and listening to your partner?

1) Speak with your partner about making a commitment to holding "The Couple's Conversation" at least once a week for three months. Recognize that it may be difficult and it is important that you support each other and keep your eye on the goal as you face the inevitable discomfort that comes with developing any new skill.
2) Read the blogs that i have written on this topic together and discuss them with one another before you start.
3) Set aside a certain time(no more than half an hour) each week with a back-up plan in case there is a legitimate reason to have to change the time.
4) Support and encourage each other after each session and look for the progress as well as the areas that may need more attention.
5) Do not criticize each other even if it goes poorly, but rather talk about the difficulty in staying with something that may be challenging or painful.
6) If you are running into stumbling blocks that you cannot overcome, set up a consultation with a therapist who specializes in this type of work.
7) Do not give into your own or your partner's desires to stop talking even when "The Conversation" goes poorly.
8) Remind each other that much of life that is worth while takes true effort.
9) Try to end each session with a heartfelt hug and kiss.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Relationship Tip of The Week #84-The Conversation-Attitude is Everything-Part 5

This is a continuation of last week's blog:

So what other options do you have to overcome the challenges that interfere with your being the best possible listener or speaker that you can be in "The Conversation".

5) If your partner does the same thing of which he is accusing you, that doesn't mean your behavior doesn't bother him. If you want to act caring about your partner, your focus needs to be on ackowledging the discomfort he is experiencing and attempting to alleviate it if possible. If his behavior is similar, you can always ask that he pay attention to hearing your concerns but this is not the time to do it. If you do, your response will be seen as defensive and dismissive.

6) Yes, it is unfair that you have made requests to have your concerns addressed and your partner has not responded; however, this is not the time to point that out or use this to justify your not being responsive. What you can do in your relationship is to clean up your side of the street and be a model of the caring person that you would like your partner to be.

7) Of course it is frustrating to have made the same requests what may seem like a 100 times or in fact you have made the same concern known one hundred times; however, it in order to act in a caring manner, it is more helpful to take the approach that whatever you are presenting or behavioral change you are requesting is obviously difficult for your partner to give you for some reason unknown to you or perhaps to him. Exploring this is a caring manner rather than an accusing or adversarial approach will be much more inviting and may uncover what is needed for your partner to take you seriously and take action.

8) It is almost impossible not to get angry if you see your partner rolling his eyes or crossing his arms in front of his chest or pointing his finger towards you or turning away or not looking at you. In order to be the best speaker or listner, remind yourself how challenging it is for you to be open when you are being critiqued or being asked to do something that you think is unfair or being blamed for something you believe is untrue. Keep this in mind as you attempt over and over to truly put yourself in your spouse's shoes and see the issue from her perspective. This will help you to be more compassionate and not react so strongly to your partner's behavior and focus on how to continue "The Conversation" in a positive and effective way.

Next Week: The Challenge of Consistency

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Relationship Tip of The Week #83-The Conversation-Attitude is Everything-Part 4

So what can you do to overcome the challenges that interfere with your being the best possible listener or speaker that you can be in "The Conversation".

1) When you are flooded by impulses to respond angily to your partner's concerns or criticisms, take deep breaths and ask yourself how would you like your partner to respond to you if you were to share your concerns. Take more deep breaths, calm down and be the person you would like your partner to be for you.

2) While your partner's comments may make no sense to you, it is because you are not understanding how he/she has come to her/his view. When your partner is finshed, ask for help in gaining a clearer picture of how she/he has arrived at her/his perspective. This is not for the purpose of gathering information so that you can use it later in your rebuttal, but to create a sense of caring which takes place when one person truly tries to understnad another.

3) If you know you are already stressed and will have a hard time listening or presenting your concerns in a caring, respectul way, do not engage in "the conversation" but let your spouse know that it is because you are stressed and you do want to listen to her/him or speak with her/him at a time when you can be fully present.

4) When you haven't felt loved lately it is difficult to be loving or respond positively to someone who is angry or disappointed in you; however, ask yourself if you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say that you didn't give 100% to the relationship because it was hard or rather that when times were tough, you rose to the challenge and you continued to lead the way for a caring relationship even though it was not easy.

Next week: More on overcoming the challenges to being a caring partner when having "the conversation".