Remember Wives That Your Husbands Want To Make You Happy

Why Do  Men Avoid Getting Relationship Help?

Husbands  Really Want To Make Their Wives Happy

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You both feel the disconnection. You feel like roommates. You may even be sleeping in separate rooms. You come to a point where one of you doesn’t want to live this way any longer. You seek help with your marriage. Women will usually take the first step to find marriage help. When she tells her husband, he is not really okay with the idea at all. The mere thought of sharing your thoughts and feelings is alarming. That is because he’s faced with letting a third party know that his wife is unhappy and that equates to his feeling like a failure.

Men don’t dislike seeking marriage help because they might have to talk about emotions. What they hate is that getting marriage help forces them to experience that most dreaded emotional state to a man—feeling like a failure. Most men dread failure, particularly as providers, protectors, and lovers; their wives’ unhappiness makes them feel like failures. Husbands want to make their wives happy.

The need to ward off feelings of failure is why many men seem annoyed when their wives are unhappy, rather than ready to sit down and have a long, revealing talk about “feelings.” It helps explain why they’re more inclined to blame their partners for being too sensitive, too demanding, too selfish, too critical. Such blame temporarily relieves their shame, protects them from emotional reflection, and gives them a sense of empowerment. They can blame people and still be tough and in control. Unfortunately, being in continual blame-mode renders them powerless to engage with their wives or their marriage professional such as a therapist, counselor, or marriage coach, or to improve their relationships.

Having relationship skills in hand empowers them to be the kind of partners they want to be. Men really do want to have a warm and close marriage as much as their wives do, but the way they go about connecting is different. Marriage help shows the couple how their innate styles differ and how they can reconcile their differences to achieve the connection they both want. Men really do want to make their wives happy.

Why Happy Marriages Have Affairs

Why We Cheat

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Just because they’re happy together, doesn’t mean they’re not sleeping with others.

Photo by Gary Houlder/Thinkstock

We would all like to believe that affairs are the refuge of the discontented, that only people in unhappy marriages cheat. But “happy,” it turns out, is not a sufficient antidote to affair.

Hanna RosinHANNA ROSIN

Hanna Rosin is the co-host of NPR’s Invisibilia and a founder of DoubleX . She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

We may be in a golden age of marriage, when elites at least are more likely to report that their marriages are “very happy” than ever before. But the tight, companionable, totally merged nature of the modern marriage is one of the factors pushing people in happy marriages to have affairs, according to therapist Esther Perel. In a recent New York Times profile, Perel is described as the nation’s “sexual healer,” an updated Dr. Ruth. She is the author of Mating in Captivity, which argues that in seeking total comfort, the modern marriage might be squashing novelty and adventure, which are so critical for a sexual charge. She is now working on a new book, provisionally called Affairs in the Age of Transparency, which she considers a sequel, a picture of what the stifling marriage might lead to.

I recently met with Perel in the downtown New York apartment she shares with her husband and two sons. In person, the only thing she has in common with Dr. Ruth is a strong accent, which in Perel’s case is a combination of French and Israeli. She was raised in Antwerp, Belgium, and has lived all over the world, which leads her to regard many American assumptions about affairs to be priggish and provincial. These days, Perel accepts only patients who are involved in affairs, and the vast majority of them, she says, are “content” in their marriages. In fact in surveys that ask adulterers whether they want to leave their marriages, the majority say no. Her book, still very much a work in progress, will be about “people who love each other and are having affairs,” she says, and what that paradox says about the rest of our marriages.

Slate: What do you mean by the age of transparency?

Perel: Transparency is the whole culture. The way a regular person tells everything about themselves on television. The way technology allows us to find out anything—99 percent of the people I see, their affairs are discovered through email or phones. But transparency is also our organizing principle of closeness these days. I will tell you everything, and if I don’t tell you it means I don’t trust you or I have a secret. It doesn’t mean I choose to keep certain things to myself because they are private. Privacy is the endangered species in between two extremes of secrecy and transparency.

Slate: Isn’t the closeness between partners good? Wouldn’t it lead to fewer affairs?

Perel: We have this idea that our partner is our best friend, that there is one person who will fulfill all our needs, which is really an extraordinary idea! So by definition, people must transgress because something is missing at home. We think, if you had what you needed at home, you wouldn’t want to go anywhere else, instead of thinking that marriage is at best an imperfect arrangement.

Slate: It isn’t true that people transgress because something is actually missing?

Perel: We don’t know the exact numbers because people lie about sex and 10 times more about adultery. But the vast majority of people we come into contact with in our offices are content in their marriages. They are longtime monogamists who one day cross a line into a place they never thought they would go. They remain monogamous in their beliefs, but they experience a chasm between their behavior and their beliefs. And what I am going to really investigate in depth is why people are sometimes willing to lose everything, for a glimmer of what?

Slate: And what’s your best guess from your research so far?

Perel: I can tell you right away the most important sentence in the book, because I’ve lectured all over the world and this is the thing I say that turns heads most often: Very often we don’t go elsewhere because we are looking for another person. We go elsewhere because we are looking for another self. It isn’t so much that we want to leave the person we are with as we want to leave the person we have become.

Slate: Is this motivation for an affair particular to our age?

Perel: What’s changed is, monogamy used to be one person for life. If I needed to marry you to have sex for the first time and I knew this is it for the rest of my life, then infidelity becomes one of the ways to deal with those limited choices. But now we come to our marriages with a profoundly different set of experiences and expectations. So the interesting question is, why did infidelity continue to rise even when divorce became available and accepted and nonstigmatized? You would think an unhappy person would leave. So by definition they must not be that unhappy. They are in that wonderful ambivalent state, too good to leave, too bad to stay.

Slate: So what are people looking for?

Perel: What’s changed is, we expect a lot more from our relationships. We expect to be happy. We brought happiness down from the afterlife, first to be an option and then a mandate. So we don’t divorce—or have affairs—because we are unhappy but because we could be happier. And all that is part of the feminist deliberation. I deserve this, I am entitled to this, I can have this! It allows people to finally pursue a desire to feel alive.

Slate: Alive?

Perel: That’s the one word I hear, worldwide—alive! That’s why an affair is such an erotic experience. It’s not about sex, it’s about desire, about attention, about reconnecting with parts of oneself you lost or you never knew existed. It’s about longing and loss. But the American discourse is framed entirely around betrayal and trauma.

Slate: What prevents people from feeling alive in a marriage?

Perel: Marriages are so much more merged, and affairs become a venue for differentiation, a pathway to autonomy. Women will often say: This is the one thing I know I am not doing for anyone else. I am not taking care of anyone, this is for me. And I have a harder time doing that in the context of marriage because I have become the mother who needs to protect the child 24/7 from every little boo-boo and scratch, and I am constantly other-directed so much so that I am utterly disconnected from my erotic self and my partner is longing for sex and I can’t even think about it anymore. And then suddenly I meet somebody and discover something in my body I haven’t experienced for the last eight years, or I didn’t even know existed inside of me.

Slate: So why is the reality of affairs, and the way we talk about affairs, so different?

Perel: In America, the primary discussion of affairs is about the impact of affairs, rarely about the meaning and motives of the affair. If you read 90 articles about affairs, they are all about what’s wrong with you or your marriage—early trauma, narcissism, addictive personality—injuries of all sorts. But there is very little in the general culture that probes the story of the affair—the plot. Just, did you sleep with anyone else? And you can’t glean anything from that. And then the other discussion is about the victim perpetrator model. We need to give the victim ample compassion and the perpetrator needs to feel remorse and repair.

Slate: Do most therapists understand this about affairs?

Perel: Therapists are the worst! They too think something must be wrong for a person to have an affair. Also most therapists in America will not work with secrets. Their attitude is, don’t tell me anything I can’t speak about with your partner. Either you end it or you tell your partner. So half of the time, people lie to the therapist and to the partner. And is it always the best thing to tell? Or can we examine that, rather than live with a blanket policy of which the therapist doesn’t have to live with the consequences.

Slate: So the cheating partner shouldn’t tell?

Perel: In America, lying can never be an act of caring. We find it hard to accept that lying would be protective, this is an unexamined idea. In some countries, not telling, or a certain opaqueness, is an act of respect. Also, maybe the opposite of transparency isn’t intimacy, it’s aggression. People sometimes tell for their own good, as an act of aggression.

Slate: Is it different for women?

Perel: Because it was so fraught, women used to need a really good reason to take that risk. But today, female infidelity is the biggest challenge to the male-dominated status quo.

Slate: Do people see you as condoning cheating?

Perel: I make a distinction between cheating and non-monogamy. Cheating is about a violation of a contract. People misunderstand me because they think I’m saying affairs are OK. No! But I do think examining monogamy is our next frontier.

Slate: You mean as in Dan Savage’s idea that marriages should be non-monogamous? I can’t really see it working for heterosexual couples.

Perel: Not yet, but we couldn’t see premarital sex once either. We are a generation that believes in self-fulfillment, but also in commitment, and in their negotiations between these two ideas they will come up with new negotiations around monogamy.

Slate: Your really believe that?

Perel: Yes. It doesn’t mean it will fit everybody. But I do believe it’s the next frontier.

Slate: Will future arrangements look something like the Underwood marriage onHouse of Cards, where their non-monogamous arrangement is understood between them without being explicitly discussed?

Perel: The Underwoods are totally seen as a power couple. People do not see that they have a profound sense of intimacy. But their intimacy is about how each one supports the other in their own pursuits. So it’s an intimacy based on nurturing differentiation. We are there for each other, to help each of us be who we want to be. And one of the important axes in any relationship is how the couple negotiate togetherness and separateness. The ability to be myself in your presence versus having to let go of parts of myself to be together.

Slate: Do young people enter marriages with different assumptions now?

Perel: When I entered marriage I bought into the whole romantic package. I want my husband to take care of everything. I want to never feel anxious again, never feel a fear of abandonment. It’s the complete merge model. But that’s very different than the millennials I work with. Their fear is that they will lose themselves, because they’ve worked so hard to develop their own identities.

Slate: So it’s a good thing that we are moving away from the merge model?

Perel: But they have the opposite challenge, which is not to be immediately in the zone of fear when they need to get close, when they need to build something together with someone. That’s the price they pay for the highly individualistic culture in which they live.

Slate: What would you say to people who want to preserve a marriage?

Perel: Most people today, for the sheer length we live together, have two or three marriages in their adult life, and some of us do it with the same person. For me, this is my fourth marriage with my husband and we have completely reorganized the structure of the relationship, the flavor, the complementarity.

Slate: Explicitly, or it just happened organically?

Perel: Both. It became clear that we could either go into crisis mode and end it or go into crisis mode and renew. And that is one of the most hopeful sentences a betrayed partner can hear when they come into my office the day after they find out and they are in a state of utter shock and collapse: I say, your first marriage may be over, and in fact I believe that affairs are often a powerful alarm system for a structure that needs change. And then people say: But did it have to happen like that? And I say: I have rarely seen anything as powerful lead to a regenerative experience. This is a controversial idea, but betrayal is sometimes a regenerative act. It’s a way of saying no to a rotten system in need of change.

Slate: Would you ever recommend an affair?

Perel: No more than I would recommend cancer and yet a lot of people finally understand the value of life when they get sick.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

A Couples Communication Style Reveals How Well They Are Doing

The Connected Couple: Information Behavior in Online Dating

A Couples Communication Style Reveals How Well They Are Doing

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It is often observed that couples who have been together for a while develop a way of communicating that is theirs alone. They may complete each other’s sentences or share a word, phrase or a glance whose meaning is known only to them. Yet information behavior research has bypassed the way couples develop this information exchange over time.

Gina Kessler Lee (MLIS, 2013) became interested in looking more closely at what appears to be a gap in the research while she was a student at the iSchool.

“People have studied the information behavior of individuals, of small working groups, and of whole communities, but I noticed there wasn’t a lot about couples. Why hasn’t there been a model of how couples exchange information? When you are living with someone or engaging with someone so closely for such a long period of time, how does your information behavior change and how does that affect your relationship?

Lee was in part inspired by her own experience. “Over the course of my 11 year relationship with my now husband, I’ve seen how our information behavior has changed over time and how rich and complex it is, as well as how problematic it can be at times.”

According to Lee, a lot of people in psychology and family therapy have studied communication between couples, but information behavior research has not addressed this. Her paper, written with Professor Karen Fisher and fellow student Ekaterini Papadopoulou, proposes a general framework from the couple’s perspective.

The model comprises six elements–context, seeking, storing, managing, sharing, and barriers–as they occur over five stages in a relationship, from when the couple meets, to learning each other’s information behavior, merging information taxonomies, establishing transactive memory, and, eventually, the couple’s dissolution, when shared information is lost.

One of the theories the paper draws on is that of transactive memory, developed by Daniel Wegner, a Harvard psychologist. “His idea is that people in groups end up sharing information responsibilities,” Lee explains. “Combined, this creates a kind of shared mind, with different people taking the responsibility of remembering different parts of a project. When they are together, they have a complete perspective. When they are apart, they may run into problems.”

The framework doesn’t just apply to couples in a romantic relationship, but to people who work together on projects in a business environment or creative collaboration. The information behavior research is the same: understanding how people need, create, seek, store and share information, and what happens to this information when someone leaves the relationship. Issues of power and balance emerge throughout; and information poverty can exist then too, especially in instances of abusive situations.

Online dating–an emerging research area in iSchools–is highly relevant to this paper.

“How you get into a long term relationship for many people these days is through online dating,” according to Professor Fisher. “One angle that we are taking to investigate dyadic information behavior is to ask what do people want from online dating? Our hypothesis is friendship, information about daily life, and socializing, someone to do things with–the romance might come later. We’ll get to study how people come together, the early part of our model.”

The complete paper, “To love, honor, and inform from this site forward: A model of dyadic information behavior in online-initiated relationships” is available here.  Interesting to think about how A Couples Communication Style Reveals How Well They Are Doing.

When There’s Conflict In Your Marriage

Six Strategies for Handling Conflict in Your Marriage

BY: 
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When my husband and I got engaged, we breezed through our pre-marriage days in perfect harmony. Besides a few lighthearted skirmishes, due in part to the difficulties of navigating a long-distance relationship, we got along like two birds of a feather. It was easy to think it would always be that way.

But, far from naive about the struggles of marriage, I did what any self-respecting English major would do and read all the books I could find on how to have the best marriage ever. All my reading left me fairly confident that my husband and I could avoid a lot of the typical pitfalls with the proper strategies in place.

But just like many of the stories of old, pride did indeed goeth before the fall. Our first year of marriage coincided with our first jobs, first pregnancy, and first real taste of adulthood. The sharp winds of reality and my own flaws quickly bowled over my unrealistic expectations about a conflict-free marriage.

Caralee Frederic, certified therapist for the Gottman Institute and licensed clinical social worker, says that striving to avoid disagreements should not necessarily be the goal. “We aren’t aiming for the perfect marriage,” Frederic explains. “Even stable couples have arguments.” According to Frederic and the research at the Gottman Institute, the most important indicator of marital happiness lies in how a couple handles disagreements and how they repair after a fight. “How often and how well a couple repairs their relationship is a big indicator of the long-term health of the marriage,” Frederic says.

Sometimes you’re both tired, and you get a bit snappy with each other. Sometimes you can’t figure out how to balance both your families during the holidays. No life, no marriage, and no person is perfect. The struggle is real. And more importantly, the struggle is normal. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use a few strategies to help navigate conflicts in a productive way.

01. Fight fair.

Rather than trying to create a conflict-free marriage, my husband and I focus on improving how we disagree and argue (or even fight) while also working on apologizing, compromising, and moving on. “The Gottman Institute warns couples to avoid the ‘four horsemen of the relationship apocalypse’: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling,” Frederic explains. It’s important to vent anger and frustration constructively without falling into the trap of these relationship breakers.

Our efforts to fight fair are now also motivated by our desire to be a good example to our kids. We want our kids to know that our love for each other (and for them!) is unconditional. This is our marriage in action, and I hope our kids will learn from watching our struggle to resolve conflict in a loving and healthy way.

02. If at first you don’t succeed . . . apologize quickly.

Sometimes we can’t help our initial reaction, and we snap, but we can always smooth things over in our second reaction. Pride and defensiveness can cause us to give an excuse for our behavior rather than just apologizing first.

My husband and I learned that two ivory towers do not a happy marriage make. “I’m sorry” is oftentimes a more powerful phrase than “I love you” when repairing your relationship.

03. Table it.

Time-outs aren’t just for kids. In my own marriage, we have discovered that if you can’t talk civilly about a subject, don’t. Go for a run, watch a funny show, or wait until the morning to discuss an issue that needs a resolution.

Honestly, I think that tabling a conversation is one of the hardest things to do, but it pays to schedule a difficult discussion for a later time. Your marriage will forego a lot of heartache if you can hold off until everyone’s had their coffee or a glass of wine to hash out an issue.

04. Externalize the problem.

When my husband and I hit a point of frustration, we try to articulate the frustration with care. Don’t let your partner feel that he or she is the problem; instead phrase your concern as if you are both outside the problem working together. Frederic points out that “each person sees the same set of facts with their own unique point of view that is valid.” Frederic encourages couples to “externalize the problem.”

Instead of making emotionally charged and critical statements such as “You always forget to take out the trash,” try to identify the issue, and say, “The trash wasn’t taken out yesterday. How can we remember this next week?” The former statement puts your spouse on the defensive, and the latter externalizes the problem and opens the dialogue to begin finding a solution with your spouse.

05. Make ‘I’—not ‘you’—statements.

This one takes forethought, but for us it means the difference between an unproductive fight and a constructive conversation. Perhaps this seems like a minor detail, but this small change when airing a frustration can make all the difference in how your spouse reacts.

Gottman’s research shows that complain without blame is the antidote to criticism. Rather than accuse with statements such as “You really frustrate me with your mess,” turn the statement on its head, and begin with a more personal approach: “I feel frustrated when the house is a mess.” Again, the “I” statement invites dialogue, whereas the “you” statement would incite blame and criticism. Criticism can eat away at a marriage, but compassion strengthens the bond by softening the heart.

06. Break the touch barrier.

“Physical touch is a powerful tool in a relationship,” Frederic explains. “But you have to be smart about when you use it.” Thanks to the bonding hormone oxytocin, which is produced by physical affection, touch helps foster intimacy in a relationship. Holding hands or sitting close while discussing a problem can help ease tension during an argument for some couples.

In one of my favorite romantic comedies, Hitch, Alex Hitchens advises one of his mentees, Albert Brennaman, on how to break the touch barrier with a woman he loves in a non-sleazy way—that is, using small gestures of physical touch to increase intimacy. While others might need to cool off before reconnecting, it’s important to break that touch barrier at some point when a couple has experienced conflict to avoid stonewalling and coldness in a relationship.

True love in a marriage—and in any relationship, for that matter—means loving each other through the imperfections, disagreements, and challenges, no matter what. We can’t be surprised or discouraged by the inevitable tensions that arise in our daily lives, but just as a good coach never shows up to the game without a playbook, couples should have a few strategies in place to help resolve and repair those conflicts swiftly and compassionately.

Couples Can Avoid Relationship Problems With Partnership Review

A Performance Review May Be Good for Your Marriage

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A formal evaluation can help a couple set goals, affirm what works and avoid entrenched conflict . . .

By ELIZABETH BERNSTEIN – Featured in the Wall Street Journal

Getting your annual performance review from your boss can be awkward and irritating. Can you imagine getting one from your spouse?

A growing number of marriage therapists and relationship researchers recommend that spouses and romantic partners complete periodic performance reviews. Couples typically wait too long to go to therapy for help, they say. By taking time to regularly evaluate and review their relationship together, partners can recognize what is and isn’t working—and identify goals for improvement—long before problems become entrenched and irresolvable.

“It’s the relationship equivalent of the six-month dental checkup,” says James Cordova,professor of psychology and director of the Center for Couples and Family Research at Clark University, in Worcester, Mass.

This isn’t an exercise to be taken lightly. Couples have to be careful, and constructive, when sharing their assessments. Fairness is crucial. And for couples in a relationship crisis, a performance review is unlikely to help.

Research shows that regular checkups improve relationships. In a study published in Sept., 2014, in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Dr. Cordova and his colleagues gave 216 married couples questionnaires asking them to assess the biggest strengths and weaknesses in their relationship. Half the couples then saw a therapist for a checkup of two sessions to go over their evaluations and brainstorm a plan to address their concerns. The other half were told they were on a waiting list and didn’t discuss their assessments in a checkup.

The researchers, who followed up with the couples after one and two years, found those who had performed the checkup saw significant improvements in their relationship satisfaction, intimacy and feelings of acceptance by their partner, as well as a decrease in depressive symptoms, compared with the couples in the control group who didn’t perform a checkup. In addition, the couples who had the most problems in their marriage before the checkup saw the most improvement.

Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks, relationship coaches, psychologists and authors of multiple books on marriage, who have been married 34 years and live in Ojai, Calif., schedule informal discussions with each other every Tuesday and Thursday, where they talk about problems or conflicts that have arisen in the past few days. In one recent discussion, Dr. Hendricks told his wife he has been feeling “left out” because she has been traveling so much for work lately, and she assured him that her schedule was going to lighten up soon.

“It gives us a safe, sure place to talk about our emotions,” says his wife, also Dr. Hendricks, who is 67.

The spouses sit down for a more formal marriage review once every few months, but they are careful to focus on the relationship and not cast blame. They ask themselves, “How are we doing working together as a partnership?” and discuss areas where they need to improves. They examine their top three goals—for example, “working together as a team for our children,” “working together toward financial goals” or “being together so we both have a great sexual experience.” And they talk about how they can make their differences work for them. “It’s like taking the pulse of the relationship,” says Dr. Hendricks the husband, 70.

 

Dr. Cordova says while men often resist marriage therapy, they tend to appreciate marriage reviews, because they focus on a couple’s strengths and goals, as well as solving problems without blame.

But how do you review your marriage?

Remember that this is the person you love, and don’t be too critical. “You can’t approach it as you would a subordinate you supervise at work,” says Shannon Battle, a marriage and family therapist in Fayetteville, NC. “You can’t fire your spouse. This is ‘til death do us part.’ ”

Multiple research studies on people’s reactions to performance reviews show that when people feel they have been treated unjustly, they become hostile, But when they feel they have been treated fairly and respectfully, they accept the message of the review.

Rebecca Chory, a professor at Frostburg State University’s business school, in Maryland, who studies reactions to negative feedback, has identified six strategies for giving an effective performance review:

Address the behavior, not the person. Couch your comments with affirmation. “Do not put down your partner,” Dr. Chory says. She recommends saying, “I love you and want to be with you, but there are these behaviors…” or “When you did this, I felt this…”

Explain why you came to your conclusion. What contributed to your assessment? Provide a rationale.

Show that you are aware of the other person’s situation. Is your partner stressed, overworked, sick? Acknowledge the challenges he or she has been facing and how they may have contributed to the behavior you don’t like.

 
Be consistent over time. This doesn’t mean you can nag. But you should never criticize your spouse for something one time and laugh it off another. “A person needs to know what to expect, the rules of the game” says Dr. Chory.

Allow the other person to respond and provide input. The review should be a conversation, not a lecture. And a lot of misunderstandings can be cleared up when people talk openly.

Be clear about what you would like to change. What can be done to improve the situation?

As for the review itself, Dr. Cordova says you should always begin by identifying your strengths as a couple. “It is the positive foundation that keeps a relationship happy and healthy in the long run,” he says.

Then move on to discussing your concerns—but limit yourself to one or two. “You don’t want to kitchen-sink the thing,” Dr. Cordova says. And you don’t need to come up with a solution right away. Aim to understand your partner and to have your partner understand you.

If the review makes your relationship worse, or causes a lot of arguing, you may need relationship counseling. “If you are doing it well, you can tell because you will feel closer to each other and will each feel understood,” Dr. Cordova says.

Closing The Gaps In Your Marriage

How To Protect Your Relationship When You’re Drifting Apart

by Laura Silverstein

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Sometimes we feel like we’re rushing through life so fast that we’re missing out. You try to prioritize exercise and meditation, but self-care is often the first thing to go when the chaos rises.

Trying to keep all the balls in the air can mean you aren’t seeing what’s right in front of your face. You and your partner might be drifting apart. Here’s what you need to know to bridge distance:

1. Chances are, this is just a phase.

You won’t always be so busy. Someday, if all goes according to plan, you’ll be sitting next to your partner, smiling about the life you have built together.

2. Long-term love is an extraordinary gift.

This security is tremendous, and not to be taken for granted. A person who celebrates how awesome you are and doesn’t leave you when you mess up is something to be treasured.

3. A relationship can die without a single slammed door or raised voice.

Even when there is no cheating, no screaming, no irreconcilable differences, relationships can end. It happens slowly, subtly, and silently. Distance left unaddressed is a leading cause of separation.

Relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman’s research identified eight predictors of divorce. Many of these predictors are symptoms you would expect, like poor conflict management and a high degree of negativity. Of the eight predictors, emotional distancing is the hardest to recognize.

4. There are warning signs. You just have to know what they are.

These include the absence of affection, humor, curiosity, excitement, and empathy in daily interactions.

If you have a huge fight with your partner, it’d be strange for both of you not to notice. Those conflicts are usually addressed. It is much more difficult, however, to recognize that the two of you have been holding hands less frequently or having fewer interesting conversations.

Example: Your partner asks you a question when you’re in the middle of something. You let him know now isn’t a good time, and you both move on with the day, leaving no one hurt or offended. But when attempts at connection are pushed away over and over again, people naturally reach out less and less, and eventually stop altogether.

5. The solution is simple and can be carried out in as few as six seconds each day.

In couples therapy I often tell my patients that I cannot teach them to love one another. But I can teach them how to nourish the love that they already have. You don’t have to hire a babysitter or plan a vacation. As few as six seconds at a time can make an immense difference over the long term.

To stay emotionally close, intersperse tiny moments of connection into your lives every single day. Simply put: Reach out warmly to your partner on a regular basis and respond with warmth when your partner reaches out to you.

Here are a few ways you might do this:

  1. You kiss your partner goodbye every day on the way to work. It becomes a habit, and you stop paying attention. Instead, slow down, enjoy the kiss, and recognize that you are kissing someone you’re in love with — not your Great-Aunt Lulu. Gottman recommends kissing hello and goodbye for six solid seconds.
  2. You’re rushing out to meet friends for dinner, giving instructions to the babysitter, and your partner tells you how nice you look. Switch gears for a second or two. Make eye contact, and say, “Thank you.” If you want appreciation, appreciate it when you get it.
  3. You’re finally in bed with your favorite book, enjoying the peace and quiet. Your partner climbs into bed next to you. Be willing to put your book down for a moment and say, “Hey, I’m totally wiped but so glad you’re home!” Acknowledge that you’re pleased to see your partner before you return to reading.

These tiny energy expenditures will invigorate your relationship exponentially.

When running a long-distance race, it’s essential to drink water before you get thirsty. Similarly, you need to nourish your relationship before you feel that it’s been drained. This will make you feel better, giving you that additional boost you got when your relationship first started, and a reminder that you are loved.

You have shared your heart with an amazing person. Stay close to him or her even when life is turbulent, so you’re still together when it isn’t.

Forgive Your Spouse Through Ho’oponopono

Reconnect With Ho’oponopono – How To Forgive Each Other

 

How a beautiful Hawaiian tradition sorts out hurt and misunderstandings . . .

When you can’t get past the problem and it keeps getting bigger and bigger try Ho’oponopono

Ho’oponopono means ‘to make right’ – it brings balance and peace to the self and all relationships (even with past relationships).

 

“Remember that a problem is only a problem if you say it is….and the problem is not the problem but how you react to the problem is the problem.’– Dr. Ihaleakalá
 Ho‘oponopono is a traditional Hawaiian way to make peace in relationships when there’s the kind of conflict that starts with something small and just gets bigger and bigger.

Ho‘o means to make. Pono is a word that has three layers. The first layer is to behave righteously, with good spirit and good intention. If you do that, the second layer is that you create justice. If you operate with those two layers, you create the innermost layer: hope.

Through Ho‘oponopono you restore all of those layers, and you restore balance within the couple and within ohana—the family.

Are you ready to do Ho‘oponopono?

Ho‘oponopono always includes prayers and exultations and being together resting, eating, and come back again, and pray, and fast.

The entire process gives you  a chance to unpeel the onion, layer by layer starting at the surface of what happened. Then you unpeel the next layer and begin to explore the different perspectives until you get down to the innermost layer – the root cause.

Basically, it’s a process of forgiveness. You ask forgiveness for the things that you did to make that situation hurtful or wrong for the other person.

You should feel very relieved when it’s complete, and once you say the closing prayer, it is done – leaving it all behind.  It is important to not bring this into your future nor holding grudges. It’s complete, and now you share time together with a meal to show that there are no hard feelings anymore. If you can eat together, then you’re back in sync again.

Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian tradition and centuries old. It is a process. To make things right (pono) and to solve problems. It is a process offered to families (Ohana) and the Hawaiian community. Today older version of Ho’opono pono has been offered to all  and the process when everything was right or (pono) and we did work together in unity (lokahi) has been shared. The Kapu (Taboo) to share this was broken just a few years ago from a Kupuna on the Big Island.

You could use Ho’oponopono as a special ceremony:

This gives you a beautiful ceremony to forgive your spouse through Ho’oponopono and feel more connected and loved.

If you are not Hawaiian then different prayers or protocol may be incorporated. Some see this process like spiritual guidance. Some see it as a cleaning, a blessing or a healing experience. No matter which way works for you, the ceremony can create an opportunity for resolution, forgiveness, and restore harmony.

Ho’oponopono is truly the art of forgiveness. Each participant takes responsibility for the part they have played in the problem and apologizes. Each forgives as well asks for forgiveness (noi e kala ‘ia ho’okamakamaka). It is good to understand (maopopo) that a participant could have offended (uluhua) or hurt the other unknowingly. As well could have said or done something in a situation or done nothing in a situation to create disharmony.

This would be a great vow revewal. The ceremony allows you to be in a state of peace about the past and to let go of what no longer serves you, so you can move on to be in a happy and healthy relationship of marriage (Male ‘ana).

The willingness of all to participate is essential. Each person respectfully listens carefully to the other in their time together. You can have this ceremony by the ocean or in nature.

You could have the ceremony started with the Kahu or facilitator saying a prayer (pule), connecting to the Spirit of each of the participants, strengthening the emotional commitment of each person. Prayer to the highest begins the session regardless of the religious or spiritual background of each person.

After the prayer the facilitator may state the iniquity or transgression, (hala) what has caused the problem. Or it may be brought in light in that moment by the participants themselves. Today in our lives there may be many layers of problems in a relationship over months or years.

This is a time where each person may take turns to share his or her experience (mana’o) or how they are feeling about past situations. By sharing and getting the sadness, upset or burden out it helps to let it go and begin the healing process. To forgive and be in peace with each other is to be able to set things right (pono) and move on in your life. To be right with yourself, loved ones, life, God(whatever that may be for you) and the Universe is awesome.

Both participant in a relationship or all those in the family are encouraged not to blame anyone, or share with angry emotions. You are encouraged to share your feelings without filling your words with negative energy. Each may take turns discussing there feelings and even repent (Mihi) if necessary. Each forgives and receives forgiveness. This loosens and unties the negative energies (kala), allowing those energies to be released and freed thus restoring harmony.

Resolution is what we are seeking here. Together we will stop the suffering and bring peace (Maluhia). Once harmony is restored you can then make any commitments in yourself and to your partner.

Ho’oponopono (ho-o-pono-pono) is an ancient Hawaiian prayer made up of four powerful phrases: “I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”

It promotes taking responsibility for everything in your life and the whole world you live in. It is a powerful forgiveness and letting go of the most challenging of life experiences.

 The Ho’oponopono Prayer can be offered to any aspect of life not working out or incomplete (not just relationships), past grievances especially involving people you have’t forgiven, experiences you haven’t let go of, built up hurts and resentments, problems, etc.
You begin by honoring yourself openly and honestly from within your heart and soul to each and every incident you can find, and to all people you have hurt and have been hurt by.

Once true forgiveness has arisen from the original state you were, you can find a new sense of wholeness and completion. You are now able to see things differently and have releasesd them and can reprogram your brain to see your life, experiences, and history in a whole new way. Remember, you just need to put new thoughts in for your brain to make the new pathways. Letting go of what holds you back from love and being loved is very freeing. The practice can help you see clearly, dissolve and release old experiences – especially the roots of which came from childhood.

Ho’oponopono Prayer:

(Say it over and over to let go of old baggage, resentment and negative energy)

   I am sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you.

Forgive Your Spouse Through Ho’oponopono – let go

“If we can accept that we are the sum total of all past thoughts, emotions, words, deeds and actions and that our present lives and choices are colored or shaded by this memory bank of the past, then we begin to see how a process of correcting or setting aright can change our lives, our families and our society.”
– By Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona, a Hawaiian Kahuna Lapa’au

Forgiveness Steps When Your Spouse Hurts You

How To Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt You: In 15 Steps

Even When Forgiveness Feels Impossible

alt="How To Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt You: In 15 Steps"

By: Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

alt="How To Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt You: In 15 Steps"

 

Forgiving others is essential for spiritual growth.  Your experience of someone who has hurt you, while painful, is now nothing more that a thought or feeling that you carry around. These thoughts of resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that will dis-empower you if you continue to let these thoughts occupy space in your head. If you could release them, you would know more peace.

How to forgive someone who has hurt you in 15 steps:

Forgiveness Step 1: Move On to the Next Act

Your past history and all of your hurts are no longer here in your physical reality. Don’t allow them to be here in your mind, muddying your present moments. Your life is like a play with several acts. Some of the characters who enter have short roles to play, others, much larger. Some are villains and others are good guys. But all of them are necessary, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the play.Embrace them all, and move on to the next act.

Forgiveness Step 2: Reconnect to Spirit

Make a new agreement with yourself to always stay connected to Spirit even when it seems to be the most difficult thing to do. If you do this, you will allow whatever degree of perfect harmony that your body was designed for to proliferate. Turn your hurts over to God, and allow Spirit to flow through you.

 Your new agreement with reality in which you’ve blended your physical self and your personality with your spiritual God-connected self will begin to radiate a higher energy of love and light. Wherever you go, others will experience the glow of your God consciousness, and disharmony and disorder and all manner of problems simply will not flourish in your presence. Become “an instrument of thy peace,” as St. Francis desires in the first line of his famous prayer.

Forgiveness Step 3: Don’t Go to Sleep Angry

Each night as I drift off to sleep, I adamantly refuse to use this precious time to review anything that I do not want to be reinforced in the hours of being immersed in my subconscious mind. I choose to impress upon my subconscious mind my conception of myself as a Divine creator in alignment with the one mind. I reiterate my I ams, which I have placed in my  imagination, and I remember that my slumber will be dominated by my last waking concept of myself. I am peaceful, I am content, I am love, and I attract only to myself those who are in alignment with my highest ideals of myself.

This is my nightly ritual, always eschewing any temptation to go over any fear of unpleasantness that my ego might be asking me to review. I assume the feeling in my body of those I am statements already fulfilled, and I know that I’m allowing myself to be programmed while asleep, for the next day I rise knowing that I am a free agent.

In sleep man impresses the subconscious mind with his conception of himself. — Neville Goddard

Forgiveness Step 4: Switch the Focus from Blaming Others to Understanding Yourself

Whenever you’re upset over the conduct of others, take the focus off those you’re holding responsible for your inner distress. Shift your mental energy to allowing yourself to be with whatever you’re feeling — let the experience be as it may, without blaming others for your feelings. Don’t blame yourself either! Just allow the experience to unfold and tell yourself that no one has the power to make you uneasy without your consent, and that you’re unwilling to grant that authority to this person right now.

Tell yourself that you are willing to freely experience your emotions without calling them “wrong” or needing to chase them away. In this way, you’ve made a shift to self-mastery. It’s important to bypass blame, and even to bypass your desire to understand the other person; instead, focus on understanding yourself.
By taking responsibility for how you choose to respond to anything or anyone, you’re aligning yourself with the beautiful dance of life. By changing the way you choose to perceive the power that others have over you and you will see a bright new world of unlimited potential for yourself and you will know instantly how to forgive and let go of anything.

Forgiveness Step 5: Avoid Telling People What to Do

Avoid thoughts and activities that involve telling people who are perfectly capable of making their own choices what to do. In your family, remember that you do not own anyone. The poet Kahlil Gibran reminds you:

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you . . .

This is always true. In fact, disregard any inclination to dominate in all of your relationships. Listen rather than expound. Pay attention to yourself when you’re having judgmental opinions and see where self-attention takes you. When you replace an ownership mentality with one of allowing, you’ll begin to see the true unfolding of the Tao in yourself and other people. From that moment on, you’ll be free of frustration with those who don’t behave according to your ego-dominated expectations.

Forgiveness Step 6: Learn to Let Go and Be Like Water

Rather than attempting to dominate with your forcefulness, be like water: flow everywhere there’s an opening. Soften your hard edges by being more tolerant of contrary opinions. Interfere less, and substitute listening for directing and telling. When someone offers you their viewpoint, try responding with: “I’ve never considered that before—thank you. I’ll give it some thought.”

When you give up interfering, and opt instead to stream like water—gently, softly, and unobtrusively— you become forgiveness itself.

Picture yourself as having the same qualities as water. Allow your soft, weak, yielding, fluid self to enter places where you previously were excluded because of your inclination to be solid and hard. Flow softly into the lives of those with whom you feel conflicted: Picture yourself entering their private inner selves, seeing perhaps for the first time what they’re experiencing. Keep this image of yourself as gently coursing water, and watch how your relationships change.

Forgiveness Step 7: Take Responsibility for Your Part

Removing blame means never assigning responsibility to anyone else for what you’re experiencing. It means that you’re willing to say, “I may not understand why I feel this way, why I have this illness, why I’ve been victimized, or why I had this accident, but I’m willing to say without any guilt or resentment that I own it. I live with, and I am responsible for, having it in my life.”

If you take responsibility for having the experience, then at least you have a chance to also take responsibility for removing it or learning from it. If you’re in some small (perhaps unknown) way responsible for that migraine headache or that depressed feeling, then you can go to work to remove it or discover what its message is for you. If, on the other hand, someone or something else is responsible in your mind, then of course you’ll have to wait until they change for you to get better. And that is unlikely to occur. So you go home with nothing and are left with nothing when peace is really on the other side of the coin.

Forgiveness Step 8: Let Go of Resentments

What causes annoyance and anger after a dispute? The generic response would be a laundry list detailing why the other person was wrong and how illogically and unreasonably they behaved, concluding with something like, “I have a right to be upset when my [daughter, mother-in-law, ex-husband, boss, or whomever you’re thinking of] speaks to  me that way!”

But if you’re interested in living a Tao-filled life, it’s imperative that you reverse this kind of thinking. Resentments don’t come from the conduct of the other party in an altercation—no, they survive and thrive because you’re unwilling to end that altercation with an offering of kindness, love, and authentic forgiveness. As Lao-Tzu says:

Someone must risk returning injury with kindness, or hostility will never turn to goodwill. — Lao-Tzu

So when all of the yelling, screaming, and threatening words have been expressed, the time for calm has arrived. Remember that no storm lasts forever, and that hidden within are always seeds of tranquility. There is a time for hostility and a time for peace.

Forgiveness Step 9: Be Kind Instead of Right

There is a Chinese proverb, If you’re going to pursue revenge, you’d better dig two graves, which is saying to me: your resentments will destroy you.

The world is just the way it is. The people who are behaving “badly” in the world are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. You can process it in any way that you choose. If you’re filled with anger about all of those “problems,” you are one more person who contributes to the pollution of anger.  Instead, remember that you have no need to make others wrong or to retaliate when you’ve been wronged.

Imagine if someone says something to you that you find offensive, and rather than opting for resentment, you learn to depersonalize what you’ve just heard and respond with kindness. You are willing to freely send the higher, faster energies of love, peace, joy, forgiveness, and kindness as your response to whatever comes your way. You do this for yourself. You would rather be kind than right.

Forgiveness Step 10: Practice Giving

In the midst of arguments or disagreements, practice giving rather than taking before you exit. Giving involves leaving the ego behind. While it wants to win and show its superiority by being contrary and disrespectful, your Tao nature wants to be at peace and live in harmony. You can reduce your quarreling time to almost zero if you practice this procedure:

Wherever you are, whenever you feel strong emotions stirring in you and you notice yourself  feeling the need to “be right,” silently recite the following words from the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Where there is injury, [let me bring] pardon.

Be a giver of forgiveness as he teaches: Bring love to hate, light to darkness, and pardon to injury. Read these words daily, for they’ll help you overcome your ego’s demands and know the fullness of life.

Forgiveness Step 11: Stop Looking for Occasions to Be Offended

When you live at or below ordinary levels of awareness, you spend a great deal of time and energy finding opportunities to be offended. A news report,  a rude stranger,  someone cursing, a sneeze, a black cloud —just about anything will do if you’re looking for an occasion to be offended. Become a person who refuses to be offended by any one, any thing, or any set of circumstances.

If you have enough faith in your own beliefs, you’ll find that it’s impossible to be offended by the beliefs and conduct of others.

Not being offended is a way of saying, “I have control over how I’m going to feel, and I choose to feel peaceful regardless of what I observe going on. When you feel offended, you’re practicing judgment. You judge someone else to be stupid, insensitive, rude, arrogant, inconsiderate, or foolish, and then you find yourself upset and offended by their conduct. What you may not realize is that when you judge another person, you do not define them. You define yourself as someone who needs to judge others.

Forgiveness Step 12: Don’t Live In the Past – Be Present

When we find it difficult to forgive, often it is because we are not living in the present, and instead, we assign more importance to the past. We assign a good portion of our energy and attention lamenting the good old days that are gone forever as the reason why we can’t be happy and fulfilled today. “Everything has changed,” “No one respects anyone else like they used to…” This is assigning responsibility to the past for why you can’t be happy today.

It’s doubtful that other creatures waste the present moment in thoughts of past and future. A beaver only does beaver, and he does it right in the moment. He doesn’t spend his days  ruminating over the fact that his beaver siblings received more attention, or his father beaver ran off with a younger beaver when he was growing up. He’s always in the now. We can learn much from God’s creatures about enjoying the present moment rather than using it up consumed with anger over the past or worry about the future. Practice living in the moment by appreciating the beauty around you now.

Forgiveness Step 13:  Embrace Your Dark Times

In a universe that’s an intelligent system with a divine creative force supporting it, there simply can be no accidents. As tough as it is to acknowledge, you had to go through what you went through in order to get to where you are today, and the evidence is that you did. Every spiritual advance that you will make in your life will very likely be preceded by some kind of fall or seeming disaster. Those dark times, accidents, tough episodes, break ups, periods of impoverishment, illnesses, abuses, and broken dreams were all in order. They happened, so you can assume they had to and you can’t unhappen them.

Embrace them from that perspective, and then understand them, accept them, honor them, and finally transform them.

Forgiveness Step 14: Refrain from Judgement

When you stop judging and simply become an observer, you will know  inner peace. With that sense of inner peace, you’ll find yourself happier and free of the negative energy of resentment. A bonus is that you’ll find that others are much more attracted to you. A peaceful person attracts peaceful energy.

If I’m to be a being of love living from my highest self, that means that love is all I have inside of me and all that I have to give away. If someone I love chooses to be something other than what my ego would prefer, I must send them the ingredients of my highest self, which is God, and God is love.

My criticism and condemnation of the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of others—regardless of how right and moral my human self convinces me it is—is a step away from God-realization. And it is God-consciousness that allows for my wishes to be fulfilled, as long as they are aligned with my Source of being. I can come up with a long list of reasons why I should be judgmental and condemnatory toward another of God’s children and why, damn it, I am right. Yet if I want to perfect my own world—and I so want to do so—then I must substitute love for these judgments.

Forgiveness Step 15: Send Love

I spent years studying the teachings of Patanjali, and he reminded us several thousand years ago that when we are steadfast—which means that we never slip in our abstention of thoughts of harm directed toward others—then all living creatures cease to feel enmity in our presence.

Now I know that we are all human: you, me, all of us. We do occasionally slip and retreat from our highest self into judgment, criticism, and condemnation, but this is not a rationale for choosing to practice that kind of interaction. I can only tell you that when I finally got it, and I sent only love to another of God’s children whom I had been judging and criticizing, I got the immediate result of inner contentment.

I urge you to send love in place of those judgments and criticisms to others when you feel they impede your joy and happiness, and hold them in that place of love. Notice that if you stay steadfast, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

A Meditation to End on Love

Picture yourself at the termination of a quarrel or major dispute. Rather than reacting with old patterns of residual anger, revenge, and hurt, visualize offering kindness, love, and forgiveness.

Do this right now by sending out these “true virtue” thoughts to any resentments you’re currently carrying. Make this your standard response to any future altercations: I end on love, no matter what!

Marriage With An Open Heart

Keep An Open Heart In Your Marriage

alt="Marriage With An Open Heart"


Marriage is ever changing. There are many things that happen within your lives together that influence and change you over time.  When you first start out in your life as a  couple it is all about the two of you. You could talk for hours and endlessly listen to each and every word.  You are curious and wanting to know more about the one you love so you ask great questions to learn even more. You are open to the very essence  of each other. That’s marriage with an open heart.

As your relationship grows, each of you begins to relax and get more comfortable with each other.  You begin to see that there are other things that  need your time such as family and your job. Your mind gets filled up everyday with various forms of communication. This causes a shift in your marriage. You become less focused on each other. This is normal and happens in most marriages. Everything else becomes the priority and focus. Get your marriage back on track by having a marriage with an open heart.

The key is to remember that marriage and the relationship you have with your spouse is the most important relationship that exists in your life. In order to keep the love alive, stay open to each other through having a marriage with an open heart. There is always something new you can learn about each other. The road back is to get back to making your marriage a priority.

Notice the clues that your spouse gives you daily. If you are open to them, you will find out what is happening on the inside – pay attention to what they need from you – from a marriage – from a relationship. There are clues in body language, what is not said, the way something is said, and so on. Being open to the love of your life allows the space between you to close and creates understanding. Be open to each other’s thoughts. Be open to each other’s concerns. Be open to each other’s needs. Make them know that they are a priority to you. In return, they will be open to you. That is you will have a marriage with an open heart.

7 Principles On The Road To Happily Ever After

How To Keep Love Going Strong

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 7 principles on the road to happily ever after.

 ( PEEK INSIDE THE HAPPY FAMILIES ISSUE OF YES! MAGAZINE)

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Why is marriage so tough at times? Why do some lifelong relationships click, while others just tick away like a time bomb? And how can you prevent a marriage from going bad—or rescue one that already has?

After years of research, we can answer these questions. In fact, we are now able to predict whether a couple will stay happily together after listening for as little as three hours to a conflict conversation and other interactions in our Love Lab. Our accuracy rate averages 91 percent.

But the most rewarding findings are the seven principles that prevent a marriage from breaking up, even for those couples we tested in the lab who seemed headed for divorce.
alt="Enhance Your Love Map"Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s world. They have a richly detailed love map—they know the major events in each other’s history, and they keep updating their information as their spouse’s world changes. He could tell you how she’s feeling about her boss. She knows that he fears being too much like his father and considers himself a “free spirit.” They know each other’s goals, worries, and hopes.

 

alt="Nurture Fondness and Admiration"Fondness and admiration are two of the most crucial elements in a long-lasting romance. Without the belief that your spouse is worthy of honor and respect, where is the basis for a rewarding relationship? By reminding yourself of your spouse’s positive qualities­—even as you grapple with each other’s flaws—and expressing out loud your fondness and admiration, you can prevent a happy marriage from deteriorating.

 

alt="Turn Toward Each Other"In marriage people periodically make “bids” for their partner’s attention, affection, humor, or support. People either turn toward one another after these bids or they turn away. Turning toward is the basis of emotional connection, romance, passion, and a good sex life.

 

alt="Let Your Partner Influence You"The happiest, most stable marriages are those in which the husband treats his wife with respect and does not resist power sharing and decision making with her. When the couple disagrees, these husbands actively search for common ground rather than insisting on getting their way. It’s just as important for wives to treat their husbands with honor and respect. But our data indicate that the vast majority of wives—even in unstable marriages—already do that. Too often men do not return the favor.

alt="Solve Your Solvable Problems"
Start with good manners when tackling your solvable problems:

 

 

  •   Step 1. Use a softened startup: Complain but don’t criticize or attack your spouse. State your feelings without blame, and express a positive need (what you want, not what you don’t want). Make statements that start with “I” instead of “you.” Describe what is happening; don’t evaluate or judge. Be clear. Be polite. Be appreciative. Don’t store things up.
  • Step 2. Learn to make and receive repair attempts: De-escalate the tension and pull out of a downward cycle of negativity by asking for a break, sharing what you are feeling, apologizing, or expressing appreciation.
  • Step 3. Soothe yourself and each other: Conflict discussions can lead to “flooding.” When this occurs, you feel overwhelmed both emotionally and physically, and you are too agitated to really hear what your spouse is saying. Take a break to soothe and distract yourself, and learn techniques to soothe your spouse.
  • Step 4. Compromise: Here’s an exercise to try. Decide together on a solvable problem to tackle. Then separately draw two circles—a smaller one inside a larger one. In the inner circle list aspects of the problem you can’t give in on. In the outer circle, list the aspects you can compromise about. Try to make the outer circle as large as possible and your inner circle as small as possible. Then come back and look for common bases for agreement.

 

alt="Overcome Gridlock"Many perpetual conflicts that are gridlocked have an existential base of unexpressed dreams behind each person’s stubborn position. In happy marriages, partners incorporate each other’s goals into their concept of what their marriage is about. These goals can be as concrete as wanting to live in a certain kind of house or intangible, such as wanting to view life as a grand adventure. The bottom line in getting past gridlock is not necessarily to become a part of each other’s dreams but to honor these dreams.

 

alt="Create Shared Meaning"Marriage can have an intentional sense of shared purpose, meaning, family values, and cultural legacy that forms a shared inner life. Each couple and each family creates its own microculture with customs (like Sunday dinner out), rituals (like a champagne toast after the birth of a baby), and myths—the stories the couple tells themselves that explain their marriage. This culture incorporates both of their dreams, and it is flexible enough to change as husband and wife grow and develop. When a marriage has this shared sense of meaning, conflict is less intense and perpetual problems are unlikely to lead to gridlock.

Make Fun A Part Of Your Marriage

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Bring The Fun Side of Your Marriage Back To Life

Research has found that people are happier when they have more FUN in their lives. Studies have also found that the happiest couples report that they are happy because they have a lot of fun together.

How much fun do you have in your life?  Do you make it a priority to be playful, positive and have fun? With your spouse?

Research by Dr John Gottman has found that couples are more happy in their relationships if they have the magic ratio of 5:1 Positive to Negative Interactions.

For every one disagreement, misunderstanding or hurt feeling, they need five positive, affectionate, caring or fun interactions to counter balance it. As we all know, conflict is inevitable in long term relationships.

We just need to be careful to not allow the conflicts to erode relationship satisfaction.

  • It is so important that couples prioritize their relationships.
  • We need to know that we are there for each other and we matter.
  • We also need to know that we can still enjoy each other’s company over the years.

In a New York Times article: “Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples” studies found that just spending time together is not enough for relationship satisfaction. Brain and behavior scientists report that ideally couples need to spend time together around novel and different experiences. “New experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine-which are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love”.

In an experiment comparing 1) Couples spending 90 minutes per week doing pleasant and familiar activities 2) Couples spending 90 minutes on “exciting” activities that they did not typically do like plays, concerts, hiking and dancing 3) No particular activity, the findings were interesting.

Couples that participated in “exciting” date nights showed a significantly greater increase in marital satisfaction. Be sure to use this as a way of protecting your fun and romantic times from conflict. If you go on a date with your partner, and one of you brings up an area of conflict, we recommend that you “Protect your fun time from conflict”. Discuss this approach ahead of time. When one of you starts an argument, the other can remind, “Let’s protect our fun time from conflict”.  Agree to discuss the issue or problem in the morning over breakfast.

Then take advantage of the opportunity to go out and just enjoy each other’s company. We have known many couples who have ruined Valentine’s Day, Anniversaries and Birthdays because they allowed themselves to indulge in an argument or problem focused conversation.

In the beginning of a relationship, you likely had many opportunities to fully enjoy each other’s company. We suggest you recreate those possibilities -No matter how long you have been together.

How important is FUN in your relationships? What do you do for fun together?  Strive to make fun a part of your marriage. There are many ways of making FUN be a bigger priority in your life.

Marriage: Resolving The Conflicts

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Working Through The Arguments As A Married Couple

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”  

~William James

Conflict is a normal and natural aspect of relationships. As human beings, we are primed to respond to stress when our coping gets low, with a “fight” or “flight” response. Fight or Flight can actually keep us from reolving the real issue. Finding a way to address conflict that is direct and assertive, while also respectful and diplomatic can open up communication instead of shutting it down completely.

Some people fear conflict and go to great lengths to avoid it, which can backfire and lead to emotional, relational and medical problems.

If handled effectively, conflict can be an opportunity for learning, growth and positive change.

It is also an opportunity to see your spouse’s perception of a situation. And an opportunity to share your perception too.

Try useing the following strategies to work through the arguments as a married couple:

  1. Pause & get grounded. If you feel caught off guard or your feathers get ruffled, it’s best to take a moment to regroup before having a knee-jerk reaction you might regret later. Breathe deeply (in through your nose, down to your stomach and out through your mouth) to calm yourself. Stretching is another good way to quickly release tension and feel better. Check in with your body and recognize if there are any physical discomforts that are exacerbating your emotional agitation (i.e. hunger, fatigue, etc.) Recognize that your emotions may be inflamed by just being tired or hungry. Table the topic for another time.  Revisit the topic in a day or two when you are grounded and are at your best.

    2.  Zoom out to gain perspective. Imagine you are viewing the conflict from a neutral place at a greater distance. Imagine emotionally unplugging or                       detaching from the situation to increase awareness. Are you really upset about the issue at hand or are you displacing your anger?  For example, flipping off           the driver behind you when you are actually mad at your boss about the meeting you just left.  Make sure you address the appropriate person.  Identify the             real issue and deeper core issue that needs to be addressed.  Don’t put the focus on the small annoyances. For example, don’t argue about the toilet seat                   being left up if you are actually mad that you are feeling lonely or unsupported. Choose your battles: let the little stuff go and avoid covering up what really             matters to you.

    3.  Become mindful of your nonverbal communication. Because much of communication is nonverbal, be aware of your facial expressions, hand                       gestures, and body language to ensure you are sending the message that you want to be received. Did you know we only hear 7% of the meaning of the                       words that are said to us. That means we miss 93% of the meaning. We are busy formulating a response, getting hung up on one phrase, or defending our               own position. Imagine if we really understood more than 50 % of the meaning and really looked at what our spouse is trying to tell us in a way where they               feel heard and understood. That would also lead the way for them to reciprocate too.

    4.  Avoid behaviors that add fuel to the fire.  Physical or verbal abuse is never acceptable. Dr. John Gottman, a leading researcher and expert on                           relationships, identified four additional behaviors that should be avoided during conflict: Criticism (attacking the person’s character,) Contempt (insults                 and nonverbal hostility, like eye rolling,) Stonewalling (shutting down,) and Defensiveness (seeing self as victim.)

    5.  Reflect empathy.  The ability to show you understand how the other person feels is perhaps the single most powerful communication skill.  It allows the             person to feel heard and diffuses conflict. You do not have to agree with their perspective, but you can show you understand their feelings (i.e. “I can                         understand that you felt upset by that.”)

    6.  Take responsibility for yourself.  Save everybody time by owning up to your own poor behaviors. This is not a sign of weakness, rather it demonstrates           awareness and integrity and will likely expedite successful resolution. Make sincere and timely amends and apologies. Take responsibility for yourself.

    7.  Use assertive communication. Avoid being passive (weak in setting boundaries), aggressive (hostile or entitled) or passive-aggressive (acting out                       through indirect behaviors like slamming a door or not responding to an email, or not speaking to the other person for a week.) Stay in the present and                     don’t dredge up old issues from the past.  Ask for what you need, say no to what you can’t do, and be open to negotiation and compromise. Articulate a                     complaint about a specific behavior and express your  feelings in a way that is clear, direct and appropriate. Whenever possible, communicate directly in-                 person or over the phone versus email or text battles  where misunderstandings breed quickly. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements to reduce                 defensiveness.  For example, “I am upset that you didn’t call today – I missed talking to you” rather than “You are inconsiderate.”

    8.  Be open & flexible.  Listen and really hear the other person. Use your curiosity and be open to your spouse’s perspective. Ask open- ended questions to               gather information that will be help you see where they are coming from.. Consider other perspectives or solutions. Look for the opportunity to collaborate             and be a team. Together we can come up with what’s right for both of you.

    9.  Focus on what you can control and let go of the rest. Author Wayne Dyer wisely said, “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is                         yours.“ You can control your own behaviors and responses but you cannot control others or the outcome.  You can advocate for yourself in the context of a               relationship and if resolution cannot be achieved, you can empower yourself to change the boundaries of that relationship. Boundaries are for your benefit –           they keep you from getting hurt. Healthy relationships have boundaries in place so each of you know where the line is instead of letting control get in the                 way which keeps you apart.

  10.  Forgive. Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”  Recognize that people come into our lives                for a reason and even negative experiences are opportunities for growth.  Be grateful for the learning experience, work towards acceptance, forgive and let             go of the past and consciously choose how you want to move forward. What you hold onto will always cause a distance between the two of you. Help each                 other to forgive and understand each other in a deeper way.

What else do you recommend for effective conflict resolution between married couples?

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