Tag Archives: couples

Look Both Ways Before Crossing…

23 Dec

I know you’ve heard those words of wisdom, at least in reference to crossing streets.  I’d like to put a new spin on it for you and encourage you to look both ways before crossing your partner.

Remember first that you are with them for a reason, hopefully many reasons.  One of the reasons is because they get you.  Most of choose someone who understands us, and knows us like no one else.  Sometimes they can see us when we can’t even see ourselves.

I’m the first to admit that I am stubborn and I usually start off every argument sure that I’m right and it is just a matter of proving it.  In my head it sounds like this… “Once I state my case I can go on my merry way of doing things the way I do them.   They’ll see that I was right all along.”

I have often fallen into the trap of preparing my evidence rather than listening to the other side and the perspectives of those who matter to me.  Listening can be difficult when I’m on a mission to prove myself right.  And I find the hardest thing to do is to stop talking and hear how I am being perceived by those I love.  But eventually I do it and I call that looking both ways, my way and their way. 

I know their way matters.  I respect their way of seeing things, it is one of the reasons I chose them to be in my life.  They are smart, observant and they shoot straight with me.  Yes it hurts.  The truth always does.

It’s not in my best interest to cross them and walk around being right all the time.  It’s not in yours either.  Look at the loves in your life.  How and why did you let them in?  Is it safe to be you?   When they call you out on something is it out of love and their hope for you to be accountable and be your best?  For you to grow and be more of who they learned to love in the beginning?  If so… look both ways before crossing your partner.

A New Twist on Old Advice

9 Jul

I heard some great advice the other day. It wasn’t new advice and it didn’t come from a stranger. It was a twist on old advice from someone I greatly respect and get advice from all the time. For whatever reason, on this day, I heard it differently. It was simple really. She said, “You’re behavior is all you’ve got. Hold on to it.” It was a twist on, “You can’t control other people, only yourself.” or even, “You can’t control situations, but you CAN control how you respond to them.” I hear this advice all the time. I give this advice all the time.

This time though, it was more about recognizing when other people’s behavior is out of control or at best, not to my liking, I always have the option to control my own behavior. I can make a conscious choice not to get caught up in their rage. I can ignore their “f” bombs rather than throw in my own. I can hear them escalate and soothe myself rather than join them in their chaotic world. If I can manage that, I might even choose to throw in a little prayer for them or at least a “Bless their heart.”

Behavior is observable. We see it and therefore, we judge it. We decide if it’s good or bad and whether or not we like it. What I have managed to forget is that while I am busy judging, my behavior is simultaneously on display and living in the land of right or wrong for others to see. What would they say? Could I defend myself? Am I modeling appropriate behavior for younger eyes that are watching?

People that push our buttons are excellent “baiters.” They dangle the bait right in front of us and it is all we can do to no jump up and take it. We think we’ll be quick enough to grab it and fool them. Get in and get out and we win! The truth is, they catch us, every time. We are hooked and immediately on the behavioral decline right along side them. How do they do it? I’m curious about that, but I know my time is better spent figuring out how not to take the bait. I think I will tell myself that my behavior is all I have…hold onto it. I’m going to hold on for dear life. I am the only one accountable for everything I say and do. I might even bless their heart.

You Teach People How To Treat You

19 Mar

As you read the title of this blog, I don’t want you to think that starting now you should begin teaching people about how you want to be treated. The title is meant to inform you, that this is already happening. When you understand that you teach people how to treat you, you can begin to determine your own accountability in relationships, you can stop pointing the finger and you can recognize your role in what went wrong.

When a relationship is in trouble and/or falls apart, both parties can easily agree that something went wrong, but they find it much more difficult to agree on who is to blame for the relationship’s demise. I am not suggesting to you that finding the culprit be your end goal, but if you are going to take the time to look at the two parties involved, you might as well ask yourself if you have done your part by teaching your partner how to treat you.

Some people are famous for keeping the peace. They say things like, “Whatever you say, Dear” and “No, really, I’m fine.” The reality is these peacekeepers are not feeling very peaceful on the inside. As they stay tight lipped to avoid conflict and drama, a storm begins to brew. The resentment builds, the anger increases and before you know it they say something ludicrous like “He never listens to me or considers my feelings” and “She doesn’t even know when I’m upset.” Hmmm… I wonder why.

Boundaries. They are not recognizable to others when we don’t enforce them. In fact, they become invisible and unknowingly trampled upon.

Feelings. They are not understood by others when we don’t communicate them. In fact, they become lost even within ourselves.

Thoughts. They are not valued by others when we do not share them. In fact, they disappear and are replaced by the thoughts of others.

Expectations. They are not appreciated by others when we do not express them. In fact, they slip away and often leave us feeling disappointed by others.

While it can be scary to set boundaries, I assure you, the boundaries you set will serve their purpose in bringing some people closer and pushing away the ones that needed to be pushed. When your boundaries are clear, people will know how to be in a relationship with you.

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, we leave in a world of “doing” where only behaviors can be seen. Unfortunately, behaviors live in the land of judgment and in the land of what is right and wrong. Most people are not trained to see the thoughts, feelings, and expectations behind the behaviors. There is a function to every move we make. There is a feeling behind every behavior. I guess it’s an option to leave it up to your partner to try to guess the function of your behavior, why you might be stomping around the house mumbling under your breath, or why you quietly cry yourself to sleep at night, but I wouldn’t recommend it. In fact, I’d say it’s unfair. Chances are, they’ll guess wrong, that will likely stir up another feeling inside you that you aren’t willing to share and then the cycle continues. It sounds exhausting to me. For those of you living this way, I bet you’d agree that it drains you on a daily basis.

I wonder what it would be like to find your voice. What would it mean to share your thoughts, feelings and expectations? What might happen if you established and enforced some personal boundaries? Wait… I know this one. You would be teaching people how to treat you.

It’s not you, it’s me.

29 Jan

It’s not you, it’s me. It’s a famous line. It’s a line that would make anyone on the receiving end want to cringe, or possibly crawl under a rock and hide. This same line might cause one to stare in disbelief if they were “lucky” enough to have someone say it straight to their face.

I’ve been thinking about this line all day wishing there was a new way to say it without the stigma attached to it, without the pain attached to it. Because there is no other or better way to deliver the line, I must defend it. You have to know it’s not just a line if in fact it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I won’t speak for anybody else, but I know I’ve said it and I’ve meant it. It’s not the other person. It really is me. The extended version of this line sounds something like this. It’s not you, or anything you did or didn’t do. You in fact, are perfect just the way you are. You were kind and patient and respectful. It’s me. It’s the way I feel and unfortunately, I can’t make myself feel anything different than what I do. It’s not you saying the wrong thing. It’s me wishing my heart would flutter a little more when you say it. It’s not you doing all the wrong things. It’s me wishing I were feeling more gratitude for all the things you do for me. It’s not you being anything less than great, it’s me not knowing if you’re the right kind of great for me.

So if someone ever says to you, “It’s not you, it’s me. You have a choice. I say go ahead and believe them. It probably is them and you deserve better.

Intimacy Defined

26 Jan

Intimacy. Even the word itself sounds intimate. It used to make me blush. It used to cause me to look anywhere but at the person who so easily let it slide right off their tongue. I was so busy squirming and trying not to think dirty thoughts I never stopped to wonder why the other person wasn’t near as uncomfortable as I was. You can imagine my surprise as I sat in church last Sunday, watching my pastor on the big screen preaching about intimacy.

Guess what. It turns out that intimacy means more than sex. It’s more than make out sessions and naked bodies. In fact, it is so much more than the romantic ideas that sometimes swirl around in our imagination that I am excited to share with you all that it means.

In my search for a new understanding of the word, I found several definitions of intimacy. It is defined as a level of closeness, a familiar and affectionate way of being, a deep knowledge and understanding of one another. This means we can have intimate relationships with our friends, our brothers and sisters, our parents, and our children. What I wouldn’t give to know some of the people in my life at a much deeper level and truly understand who they are with all their hurts and all their victories that made them so unique. The catch is, intimacy is a two way street. I recognize if I am blessed enough for someone to open up to me in hopes to be understood and accepted, it is likely they are seeking to know me too. A truly intimate relationship requires vulnerability from all parties involved.

My pastor says that intimacy is one of the building blocks of relationships and it’s a natural place for people to be when they truly love each other. We were designed by God and put on this Earth to connect with others. There was never any intent for people to walk through life alone without the human connection. The truth is we are wired to be with others. Isn’t it funny that we recognize this truth most often, not when we are in the presence of others and feeling good, but it is in our darkest moments, when we are lonely and afraid? It’s the uneasy feelings of being alone and isolated, it’s the endless quest to secure a sense of belonging that tells me this is true. This life is not a one man journey and it never ceases to amaze me how people enter your life and cross your path at precisely the right time. There is always something to learn from our relationships. Keep your eyes and ears open for the lesson and your heart open for the joy and love it was intended to receive.

For the broken hearted, it must be terrifying to consider opening yourself to another person. What if they see your wounds? What if they aren’t mindful of them? What if they pour salt in them? I encourage you to look at your wounds as your greatest gifts. What lessons did you learn from each of them? What wisdom did you gain? While you may be inclined to harden your heart for the sake of self preservation, I assure you that not loving and trusting is far more painful than any setbacks that will come from loving another person.

When you are feeling afraid to love again, remind yourself of intimacy and how it connects your soul with another and expresses an unspeakable love. Allow yourself to be transparent and love with everything you have. Love first. Put down your defenses, hand over your weapons and bare your wounds. Engage in the greatest kind of intimacy. Be authentic. Be you and offer your gifts, knowing it is more than enough and it’s the way it was intended to be.

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!

 

What Happens When One Person In A Relationship Changes

21 Oct

With the divorce rate as high as it is today, I often wonder what is happening to couples.  I am especially intrigued by the divorcing couples that have been married for 15 plus years.  They’ve been together so long, some since they were sweethearts in high school. What changed?

I am reading a great book by Harriet Lerner that is helping me understand the mystery of relationships.  One of the reasons relationships end up in divorce is because one partner in the relationship changed.   Even if one partner changes for the better, it can be met with great resistance from the other.   This can play out in families as well.  According to Bowen Family Systems Theory, in all families there is a powerful opposition to one member defining a more independent self.   Here are some of the reactions toward the changing individual:

  • “You are wrong,” and they go on to list their reasons to support this.
  • “Change back and we’ll accept you again.”
  • “If you don’t change back, these are the consequences,” which are then  listed.

In couples and in families, the person changing will likely see some counter-moves.  They may catch some verbal backlash and be accused of being disloyal, selfish, and having little disregard for others.  Their partners and families may threaten to terminate the relationship with them.    These are some pretty devastating consequences for a person who is simply trying to better themselves.

If you are the one who his changing, consider this – “Counter-moves are the other person’s unconscious attempt to restore a relationship to its prior balance or equilibrium, when anxiety about separateness and change gets too high. ” (Lerner, p.35)  In other words, people are not making counter-move to be controlling or chauvinistic.  Whether they have those qualities are not is sort of beside the point.  counter-move are an expression of anxiety , as well as of closeness and attachment.

If you are the one changing – it is really important to keep clear about your own position.  It is not your job to try to prevent the counter-move or tell that person they should not be reacting that way.  Let it be.  Focus on their feeling behind their behavior.  It’s how they feel and you can’t argue with that.

More often than not, depending on how one proceeds with their changes, it can really enhance  and strengthen their relationship rather than threaten it.  There is no way to predict whether or not you’ll be met with a counter-move, but when you are, now you will understand what is going on and that the person is likely afraid of change and mostly afraid of losing their relationship with you.  Communicate what the changes will mean for both of you and offer assurances when you can.

Don’t be afraid to change, just be ready for the counter-move and handle it with grace.

If you’re interested in more about Harriet Lerner’s perspective, Her book – The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships has been really eye-opening.