Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.
I remember my Kindergarten days and how my teacher would tell us “wait your turn”, “now it is time to clean up”, and “everyone needs to do their share.” The early sense of fairness and the expectation that tasks will be distributed evenly seems to become part of each of us during our early years and is carried into our relationships.
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There is an unspoken rule in relationships that partners can't have any fun together until they "get over" the significant problems they face or stop having any kind of conflict.
The truth is, all relationships have issues, and if you wait until they are resolved to start enjoying each other again, you may be waiting a very long time. Love is a feeling that must be cultivated with quality time together that does NOT focus on the issues you currently face. Whatever you'd like to address, whether it be recovering from an affair, resolving a disagreement on a major life issue, or facing the normal waning of romance in the daily grind of life, unless you focus some effort on what is RIGHT in your relationship, you may miss the opportunity to improve it.
Couples often come to counseling with the expectation that they must resolve all of their issues in order to have a healthy, happy marriage. This is simply not true. In fact, marriage researcher, John Gottman and his associates, find that 69% of a couple’s marital conflicts CANNOT be resolved! That’s right! You won’t always agree and that’s okay! Gottman says these conflicts are based on differences of personality, lifestyle, or values. One person wants to raise the kids Protestant; the other wants them to be Jewish. One person prefers spending weekends working on the house; the other would rather spend weekends engaged in recreational activities outside the home.
“How can he not know how horribly inappropriate it was to give me a blender for my birthday?” “Does she not get that I can’t just spill my guts on demand? Why is she all up in my face with “What’s wrong? Talk to me!” “Do I have to write him a (expletive deleted) manual to get any sexual satisfaction?” “How can she keep nagging me about a night out with the guys when she knows it’s the only way I get to blow off steam?”
"You complete me." Tom Cruise's famous line to his girlfriend in the classic romantic comedy Jerry Maguire captures the illusion of romantic love. Married or committed couples should merge into one: share the same interests; agree on everything; spend every moment together -- right? Only in Hollywood. It probably comes as no surprise that this joined-at-the-hip approach is not a good recipe for a rewarding long-term relationship. Read more »
. . .and the partner doing the most talking is the one to blame.
The tension of arguments, defining and expressing our own differing opinions, comprises some of the real pleasures of being in a mature relationship. Run fast, however, from any relationship rule about arguments that encourages blame. Read more »
You've probably heard plenty of times that you should "spice things up" in your relationship, or "keep things exciting" in order to keep your relationship alive. Everywhere we go, we are bombarded with the message that we need to constantly be doing things in order to have a great relationship, whether it be taking a trip, wearing sexy lingerie or doing something spontaneous. Read more »
Many of us make it to adulthood with the belief that a perfect relationship means zero conflict, and we often funnel this belief into our parenting style. Read more »
We’ve all heard the suggestion that a couple should never go to bed angry. It’s actually terrible advice. One of the most important relationship skills is learning to contain our reactivity in disagreements and recognize that “right now” may not be the best time to try to resolve conflict. Why is this, especially since going to bed angry seems so counterintuitive? Different people react to conflict differently. Read more »