Archive | November, 2012

Are You Overfunctioning?

26 Nov

I see “overfunctioning” happening all the time in relationships.  It is most easy to spot when looking at the roles of husband and wife in and out of the home.  You may find the woman overfunctioning in her duties to run the household, complaining all the way and grumbling when the man tries to help her out and ends up folding the towels the “wrong way”.   We handle our anxiety by emotional overfunctioning.  We then tend to lose our sense of self as we have sacrificed the “I” for the “We”.  Another common scenario is  when the man is overfunctioning and working the overtime hours and is never around for his family.  This guy, by the way, can’t figure why nobody has any gratitude for his great sacrifice to bring home the bacon.  Our men often handle anxiety by emotional distancing.  In other words, He will sacrifice the “We” for the “I”.

If I could just write advice on my forehead for everyone to get the message, I would grab my sharpie and write “balance”.  Everything in moderation my dears.  As I am learning from Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., when one person over-functions in a relationship, they really don’t leave anything left for the other person to do.  It’s easy to see when one person cleans the whole house top to bottom that there is nothing left for the other to clean.  When one person works two jobs, there is no need for the other person to get one.

Over functioning is more difficult to spot when it comes to emotions.  It is most common for women to take on a “rescuing” or “fix it” position.  We often act like it is our responsibility to get our partner into shape and solve their problems and even further – we assume we have the power it takes to do so.   As we work our tails off trying to bring them up to speed our emotions can range from annoyance to anger and despair as they continue to… well, just be themselves.  When we see our acts to change them aren’t working do we try something different?  Oh no, we rev up our efforts and continue to rage at their “underfunctioning” and never change our approach.  Does this sound similar to the definition of insanity?

The simplest way to put it is that when we overfunction for another individual, we end up angry and facilitate the growth of no one.   The good news is, there is not just one person to blame.  It’s a cycle and once a couple is in it, they both perpetuate the situation.  While that may not sound like good news, it is because it is half your problem and you can always control yourself.  It’s up to you to behave differently, to become less reactive, to restate your case, to do something different.  For example, if you are excessively worried about your children and it appears your partner doesn’t seem to care at all, you might ask yourself if you are overfunctioning in this area and not leaving them any room to have thoughts or feelings on the matter.    Are you always complaining about your in laws?  My guess is, your partner has the same concerns you do, but if you are always voicing your thoughts on how terrible they are, there is no room for your partner to do anything but defend them.  Catching on yet?  If one of you is overfunctioning, the other one is underfunctioning.  You might as well take inventory and see where things need to be tweaked.  You’ll be amazed at the shift in your partner when you adjust your level of functioning.  Sit back and enjoy as things begin to balance out.

 

Link

A Talk on Vulnerability

17 Nov

A Talk on Vulnerability

Take 20 minutes to watch this TED Talk.  It is so honest and necessary for me to hear.  Let me know if you needed it too!

Strengthen Your Relationship – It’s Worth It

4 Nov

Things my be going along just fine in your relationship.  Congratulations!  This is the perfect time to bring up some discussion questions and do a check-in with your significant other.  Most people don’t want to “rock the boat” if they don’t have to but there is no better time to check-in and see if the two of you are on the same page.   When we don’t “check in” on a regular basis we can find our relationship in a really yucky place before we know it.  Even worse – we aren’t sure how it got there which can make the recovery period even more difficult.

Here are some discussion points for you and your partner.  You can try to answer for each other in a game format and see how well you know each other, but be sure by the end of it  your partner knows where you stand on each one.  When there are differences in your responses don’t panic, just dig a little deeper and discuss them.

  • I am important to our marriage/relationship because…
  • What I contribute to your success is…
  • Ways I have fun with you are…
  • The ways I seek space in our relationship are…
  • Ways I am intimate with you are…
  • My most important role as your spouse is…
  • I feel most feminine/masculine in our bond when…
  • I deal with stress by…
  • I need you to…
  • I feel most loved by you when you…
  • You may not know it, but I am loving you best when I…

Fear is a primary emotion.   Men’s biggest fear is failure.  Women’s biggest fear is abandonment.  These may be likely culprits if you are having any troubles in your relationship.  Women: Check yourself and the kind of messages you are sending to your male partner.  Are you criticizing a lot?  Are you sending the message that he can’t cut it or that you don’t even need him?  Are you cheerleading him and supporting him?  How often do you say you are proud of him and all that he does?  Showing gratitude can be invaluable.  Men: How are you speaking to the woman in your life?  Do you remember to call when you are running late or your plans change?  Do you remind her how important she is to you?  How often do you express that you look forward to “forever” with her?    In a relationship, these small acts of kindness can go a long way to soothe our biggest fears.  After all, this is the partner you chose.  Remind them why you had to have them.

If you have other ways of “checking in” or connecting with your partner, leave a comment, I’d love to hear it!