Emotions and your Relationship

Emotions and your Relationship

Signs of emotions in your relationshipWhen the 2016 presidential election results seemed to surprise people I was a bit astonished by their surprise. The way the presidential election moved is quite similar to the process of sales. And as you probably know sales are all about relationships.

The one truism about sales is that people make decisions emotionally and then justify them cognitively. In fact they will take in facts and information that support their emotional decision and refute or deny any other facts that are not in line with their emotional decision.

So what does this mean for emotions in your relationship?

It means you need to understand the process of decision making. Good relationship communication both personally and professionally begins with emotional empathy, understanding the other person. When you can understand what the other person is feeling emotionally, what they are drawn to emotionally, then you can have better relationship communication.

But, remember, you have to understand the emotions before you hit them with rational cognitive decision-making. John Gottman, a well known relationship expert, says the couples who are masters at relating START with empathy (emotion) and then move to problem solving (cognition.)

That’s where all the pundits were mistaken about the recent presidential election. They discounted the emotional tide, and focused on the cognitive side as the deciding factor. But emotions will win out , especially in such a charged competition, and in difficult relationship discussions.

Always take into account the emotions in your relationship first.

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Don’t let Politics End your Relationship!

vintage-president-flag

With all the heat and angst over the 2016 U.S. presidential election I have been hearing quite a bit about relationships breaking up due to political leanings.

Really?!?

Honestly, that’s just a sign of a relationship that really doesn’t handle things correctly.

Two adults in a healthy relationship are able to negotiate differences like political beliefs, parenting styles, and family of origin issues.

If you can’t understand that each of you has their own opinion, and respect the other person even if their opinion differs from your own, then you probably shouldn’t be in a relationship at all.  And that has nothing to do with what your partner’s politics are.

So if you’re considering leaving your partner due to politics in your relationship and their political beliefs, maybe you need to take a look at your own beliefs about relationships and respect.

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Want to Improve Your Relationship? Turn It Around!

Improve your Relationship with a lesson on symmetryA fun new hobby of mine is painting on purses, and a design that has been requested repeatedly is the candy skull above.  One thing to keep in mind while drawing or painting skulls is symmetry, and if you have ever drawn something you know getting it symmetrical is difficult.

Enter Mrs. Doughty, my high school art teacher.  She taught me a little trick for getting better symmetry – turn the paper around.  When you look at a picture upside down, it is easier to ignore what it “is” and check the design for symmetry.

What does this improve your relationships ?  Well, when talking with your partner, turn it around and look at it from the other side.

In other words, try to see things from their side.  Try to understand how they see it, what they want/need, and what their ideas are.  Stop getting stuck on what you believe “is” and check their truth out.

When you turn things around you often see things you missed from your original angle.  It can inspire new ideas in you, but even better, your partner will feel listened to and thus more connected.

When your partner feels listened to, they are more likely to help you with what you need.  And by listening from their angle, you will better understand and be able to give them what they need.  Truly a win-win!

Your courageous work is to look at things from the other side.  Don’t get stuck viewing everything from just your angle.  Turn it around in order to connect better and improve your relationship.

P.S. If you are interested in the purses, check out Dani Risi Fashionable Accessories in Allenhurst, NJ.  It’s a great store, and not just because she lets me paint on her purses.  🙂

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How to Fix a Relationship with One Skill

Many couples stumble over the most important skill to fix a relationship, listening.  Listening can fix a relationship because it opens the couple up to finding and implementing repair.  In fact, the act of listening is the biggest repair move you can make in your relationship as long as you do it right.

Why would someone stumble over listening?  Isn’t it really easy?  Just close your mouth and pay attention, right?  Well, if it were that easy, I’d be out of a job as a therapist!  Couples actually don’t know how to listen and make mistakes.

fix a relationship thru listening

One big mistake people make while listening is they forget listening is solely about understanding.  Or maybe the make a mistake with what “understanding” means.

Let me be clear what understanding is and is not:

  • ==> Listening to understand means you “get” the other person.
  • ==> Understanding means you see the sense that they have in their head.
  • ==> Understanding means you focus on them and try to see the whole of what they are saying (feelings, thoughts, and needs/wants.)
  • ==> Understanding doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.
  • ==> Understanding doesn’t mean you feel or think the same way about the event or topic.
  • ==> Understanding doesn’t mean they are trying to convince you, and you have to be convinced.
  • ==> It only means you have listened in order to have a full understanding of what the other person is trying to convey.

Got it? If you do, you are on the right path to fix a relationship (or many relationships) in your life!

 

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Politicians Don’t Lie!

lying-lips

lips from PublicDomainPictures.net

I had to use the title above to catch your attention, but also because this post relates to relationship communication (not political) that often can be mistaken for lies.

How can relationship communication can be mistaken for lies?  Well, speakers often say things and when it gets to the listener it seems changed.  Couples say things like:

  • * “I didn’t say that.”
  • * “I never said that.”
  • * “You twist my words.”
  • * “That’s not what I meant.”
  • * and “That’s not true!”

There are multiple reasons relationship communication can get so muddled that it seems like one partner may be lying.

  1. –The speaker chooses a word which means different things to both people.  Everyone functions with filters, and so we hear certain words and phrases attached to particular meanings.  If our partner says somethings which has a specific meaning to us, but not to them, and we react to our meaning, it may seem as if our partner is not being kind or truthful (and maybe not even necessary.)
  2. –The speaker doesn’t clarify meaning up front.  One husband asked his wife “When were you last happy?”  She took it as a judgemental question of “Why aren’t you happy?” with the implication she’s somehow broken or wrong (possibly a button from her past.)  When he tried to explain he meant “When were you last happy with your life?” she couldn’t hear him and felt he was trying to cover up (or lie about) his intentions.  He, on the other hand refused to see her point of how the question could have come across judgementally.  Messy relationship communication.
  3. –The speaker’s situation changes and what was once true for them is no longer their truth.  This happens all the time in relationships; what a person believes, likes, wants, or fears changes over time.  That’s a part of being human; however, if the other partner can’t wrap their head around the fact of change, or the one who changed can’t communicate it clearly, then it leads to misunderstanding.
  4. — Sometimes our thoughts are backed by so much insecurity that we create lies we believe.  The question is, when someone really believes something, are they lying?  This is a sticky situation in relationship communication, because it is important to recognize we all have our own truth.  However, this doesn’t mean we have to live by another person’s truth.  That’s where a couple has to work on repair and negotiation.
  5. — The speaker truly thinks something isn’t a problem when their partner thinks it is.  This happens lots of times with infidelity; if the couple doesn’t have a joint understanding of what is considered “cheating” then one may do something the other doesn’t like unknowingly.  This mistake in relationship communication doesn’t just happen in infidelity, it can happen with money (how much is too much to spend), kids (what is the right way to parent), and any other part of life.

Before you jump to the conclusion that your partner is willfully and maliciously lying to cover up, save face, or hurt you, take some time to talk about the conversation.  Ask what they meant by the phrase you are unhappy with.  Look at what you are basing your assumptions on; have things changed since the original input you are basing ideas on?  As a speaker, it behooves you to be clear as perfect glass; explain what you mean and the thoughts behind what you are saying.  Both of you can take these steps before, during, or after a difficult conversation to keep your relationship communication healthy.

Honestly (and you can believe me,) I don’t believe my title; maybe that means I’m lying.  🙂

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Talk to your partner about counseling – 8 tips

chevy-truckIt can seem intimidating to talk to your partner about counseling, but there are times when it is unavoidable.

  • *When there is a threat or fear of divorce.
  • *When you or they are checked out of your marriage.
  • *When there is infidelity.
  • *When there is domestic violence
  • *When there are addictions

However, I’d love you to be able to talk to your partner about counseling before it is unavoidable.  Why?  Because I want you to go to a counselor when it will make the biggest impact.

Do you get regular maintenance on your car, or go to the mechanic as soon as the check engine light comes on?  Or do you wait until the car is steaming and shuddering next to the road barely able to move?

You need to talk to your partner about coaching when the check relationship light comes on, not when the relationship is ready for the scrapyard!

Here are a few tips to help you bring up the topic and address it with aplomb:

  1. Keep your boundaries and self esteem steady, healthy.
  2. Make sure you pick a time to talk that will work best. Not right before work or bed. Give yourself and your partner time to talk it through and even walk away for a little while.
  3. Talk from your own point of view while encouraging theirs.  “I am concerned about (the increased yelling, our distance, the way we seem to miscommunicate alot, etc.) in our relationship; what do you think about it?”
  4. Use specific examples, not vague generalities, but avoid blaming.  “Like yesterday when I said ____ and you thought I meant ____ and we both got grumpy.”
  5. You may express concern how the behaviors could be impacting more than just the two of you.  “I worry that our son is seeing us be so separate and disconnected.  I’d like for him to see us as more loving.”
  6. Don’t forget the strengths you both can draw on to get through this and do well in counseling.  “We love each other; I know we do.  We have been able to build such a nice family together.  I believe that togetherness can help us figure this whole thing out along with the guidance of a professional.”
  7. If you want, use a metaphor.  “I see this like our cars.  When something isn’t quite right in the car, I take it to our mechanic, the professional, because I believe he can fix it.  I think a counselor is the same; they can show us what to do to get back on track.”
  8. Normalize counseling.  Unfortunately, the stigma of therapy and counseling hasn’t totally faded in our society; however, it is becoming more and more accepted.  Talk about counseling as a learning experience, not a draining experience.

Your courageous work is to use these tips to talk to your partner about counseling (actually, you can use them when talking to anyone about counseling.)  And may your relationship last as long and as beautifully as the Chevy truck!

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What the Weatherman can Teach You about Relationship Mistakes.

Why is it we can be okay with the weather forecasters being so “off” in their predictions, but we are irate with our partners when they make relationship mistakes?

May both be wrong

With the passing of Hermine far to the east of NJ, we all gave a deep sigh of relief. After a week of predictions of “historical flooding” levels, it is nice to have less than a normal winter storm knocking on our doors.  The most we seem to do is laugh at the fallibility of forecasters and maybe even admit how difficult weather prediction is.  I even hear jokes about “wanting that job.”

Forget about it when spouses are “wrong”.  I hear it all the time in my office; the need to correct a partner, or berate them for being “wrong” or “mistaken.”  And almost all couples have the long history of relationship mistakes trotted out to prove to me how far off each partner is.

Every mistake dissected and peered over like a bug in science class.

Do you realize how difficult relationships are?  Do you ever consider how hard it is to predict and understand another person’s mind?  Humans are WAY more complex than weather, and the weather is mind-bogglingly complicated!

So the next time you want to jump on your partner for being “wrong” or not “getting” you, consider how difficult it is to understand each other.  Be real and realize you also make relationship mistakes.  Take a step back and ask yourself how you can help the situation (and I’m telling you right now, berating your partner is not a way to help.)  Determine how you can understand them and how they can understand you.

By the way, you understand your partner by using your healthy listening skills and you help them get you by speaking/sharing in a healthy way!

And may you learn to give your partner a break the way we give those who predict our weather a break.

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3 Questions to Ask Before You Open Your Mouth.

PublicDomainPictures.net

PublicDomainPictures.net

Ever wonder if some people give any thought to what they say before they say it?  Ever catch yourself saying things you realize just aren’t relational?  Or things that get you “in trouble”?  Do you wonder if that other person (or yourself) knows how to share, or how to filter?

When you have a healthy containing boundary you know how to filter yourself.

What’s a containing boundary?  I thought you’d never ask!  Remember the protective boundary or shield?  Well, that protected you from the world; your containing boundary protects the world from you.

Another name for this part of your boundary is your speaking boundary or how to share yourself with others.   You use this boundary to determine what/when/how you share yourself, and like the shield there are questions you have to ask before you let something out.  There are 3 questions:

  1. Is this true?  Never speak/share an untruth, something you don’t believe, or a lie no matter how “white” it is.  Always sit with and speak your truth.  Lisa Merlo-Booth said “At the very least be neutral.”  What she meant is you don’t have to lay it all out there, and you shouldn’t negate your truth with an untruth.  In other words, being neutral is answering the question “Do you like my new haircut?” (which you think looks like a haystack) with the question “What do you think?” or the statement “It’s so different.”  Being honest is saying “I’m not sure I like it” or “I think I’ll have to get used to it.”  You don’t have to be meanly blunt and say “I think it looks like a haystack after a windstorm,” which leads me to the next question.
  2. Is it kind?  Always do your best to say things in a way and at a time the other person can best hear them.  Use tact and diplomacy; however, don’t  water it down or sugar-coat such that your words actually have no meaning.  Kind does not mean never say anything that may be painful.  You can say tough things in kind caring ways and still be heard.  “Kind” is about optimizing your chance to have your truth heard. And what truth do you share? That’s the next question.
  3. Is it necessary?  Share the things that need to be shared; no more, no less.  We all know a person who has no filter and shares everything inappropriately.  That’s one end of the spectrum of necessity; some things really don’t need to be shared.  However, at the other end are things that do need to be shared.  There are some things you should not sit on.  Don’t be the person who says to me “I pick my battles” and when I ask what battles you’ve picked to stand up for you can’t name a single one.  There are things that need to be said and shared; they are the things that rock you (good or bad), hurt you, worry you, scare you. Don’t minimize your feelings, thoughts, and needs; share them if they are important to you.  So, “necessary” challenges you to make sure you what what needs to be said and don’t over-share.

The answer to all three of these questions must be “Yes” before you open up and share.  They determine when to share and how to share yourself with others.

By the way, there are times when it isn’t safe to open up (#2 isn’t met) –

  • when someone is under the influence/intoxicated,
  • when they are raging, when they are out of control in some way,
  • when they are an authority figure who will not hear you no matter what you say.

Then you remain contained and make sure you have your protective boundary firmly in place as well.

Your courageous work is to really think about how you share.  Ask yourself these questions before opening your mouth.  Make sure what you are planning on saying is true, kind and necessary.

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Relationship Health Takes More than Physical Health

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www.PublicDomainPictures.net

Most people recognize the importance of good health, but fail to recognize good health also includes taking care of themselves mentally and emotionally as well as physically.  Your mental and emotional health effects you and your relationship as much if not more than your physical condition.

Below are a few strategies to boost your overall well-being and nurture your mental health.

  1. Include positive self talk in your daily mental chatter.  Take a few moments to pay attention to the messages you are saying to yourself.  Begin to tune in to the positives and to weed out the negatives.  Instead of “I can’t” say “I’ll do my best.”
  2. Determine realistic goals.  Make sure your goals meet SMART requirements: they are Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and have a Timetable.  Write your goals down and share them with your partner.  As you complete each step toward your goals, you gain a sense of accomplishment.
  3. Practice relaxation.  Explore a variety of techniques until you find one that works for you.  Some examples are deep breathing, yoga, meditation, guided imagery or journaling.
  4. Don’t overdo.  Schedule time for yourself and learn how to say “No” to commitments you find unimportant.  Remember, when you say “No” to things you don’t want to do, you make time to devote to the things you really care about.  Keep your scheduled time yours.
  5. Create and cultivate a support system.  Plan time with people you care about and who care about you.  Make sure the people you spend time with support your positive outlook and your relationship.  You can also become involved in your community to gain a sense of belonging.
  6. Discover your sense of spirituality.  A sense of spirituality means you feel connected to things larger than yourself.  Attending religious services, practicing meditation, getting outside, or praying can improve your overall outlook on life.
  7. Practice intentional optimism.  Appreciate the good things in your life and expect things to go right.  Look for positives everywhere.
  8. Take care of yourself physically.  Proper nutrition, good sleep, and regular exercise all keep you mentally vigorous.  Avoid excesses in food or alcohol; both interfere with physical and mental wellness.
  9. Appreciate your feelings.  Your emotions are just another way of knowing the world and yourself.  They are not to be feared, but learned from even when they are uncomfortable.

Your mental health needs as much attention as your physical health and has a greater impact on your relationship.  Use the above suggestions as a way to exercise good mental health.  If you are struggling, seek help from a licensed mental health professional.

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Help Your Relationship with Frisky Friday!

Have you been thinking you need to organize yourself to get more accomplished? Have you been trying to figure out how to have time for the fun things you want to do? Do you struggle to get motivated? Do you feel overwhelmed with a large task list? Are you swamped by all the ideas to help your relationship and don’t know where to start?

You’re not alone, and there is help. I use the idea of “theming” to help you get ship-shape and organizationally savvy in your relationship.

How does theming work? For example, I “theme” my work week. There are some jobs I want or need to do consistently for my business, so I assigned a day for each of those things. Here’s how it looks:

  • Media Monday: schedule and handle all my social media
  • Tidy-up Tuesday: straighten and clean my condo, home office, and charts
  • Writing Wednesday: just what it sounds like: any writing for that week
  • “Teh” Thursday: a tongue-in-cheek play on social media, this is when I handle blog traffic, and reply to social media comments
  • Follow-up Friday: my priority is to contact anyone I need to and followup with unfinished business.
www.PublicDomainPictures.net

www.PublicDomainPictures.net

Because I know what I’m to do each day, it takes stress out of choosing what I “should” be doing. One client pointed out theming is like being in college and knowing that “today I have physics, English, and psychology.” In college you knew what classes to expect each day of the week, so you could be physically and mentally prepared.

You are welcome to apply this idea to your work week or your free time; however, I suggest you come up with ways “theming” can help your relationship. Just as I am more productive at work because I know what to expect and do each day, you can reap the same benefits for your relationship.

Here are fun suggestions for relationship theming:

  • Memory Monday: spend time reminiscing positively (preferably together) about your relationship or life
  • Mobile Monday: use your mobile devices to show your love, or alternatively do something active/mobile
  • Talking Tuesday: spend time talking about the things you think are important in your relationship
  • Teasing Tuesday: a day of healthy humor
  • Wonderful Wednesday: share with each other the little things that make your relationship wonderful
  • Whimsical Wednesday: get each other fanciful or quirky gifts
  • Flirty Friday: flirt all day with your partner
  • Follow Through Friday: do the relationship things you said you would this week and haven’t yet
  • Sexy Saturday: Dress as attractively as you can, flirt, and let the rest follow
  • Simple Saturday: Spend today being together doing something simple
  • Smiley Sunday: Take every opportunity to genuinely smile at your partner, share jokes if that helps
  • Someday Sunday: Talk about your dreams, goals, and wishes.

As you can see, I like the added fun of alliteration. What other fun themed days can you come up with? Please comment below to let me know your ideas, and try “theming” to help your relationship every day.

Here’s to great themes!

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