- At October 23, 2014
- By Allan
- In Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) in Marriage counseling & couples therapy, Conflict, Dialectical behavior therapy in couples counseling and marriage therapy, Difficult Emotions, Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with Couples, Empathy and Vulnerability, Healing after an Affair, NEW BABY - NEW PARENTS, Relationship physiology
Some interesting thoughts on making a relationship and marriage last in this article in Men’s Health magazine
Worth a look…
We’re increasingly swamped with screens, information, technology and busyness. And with more speed and busyness, its all too easy to lose touch with ourselves and each other. In a very real sense, we were given all this technology without a manual on how to manage the impact on our lives.
Sometimes deep joy and contentment is found more in quiet and still places. The kind of settling down that happens away from screens and technology.
This is a wonderful article and well worth a look….
- At July 08, 2013
- By Allan
- In Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) in Marriage counseling & couples therapy, Conflict, Dialectical behavior therapy in couples counseling and marriage therapy, Difficult Emotions, Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with Couples, Empathy and Vulnerability, NEW BABY - NEW PARENTS
Our brains love and crave the familiar.
We so easily slip into automatic pilot, habitual ways of looking and making sense and reacting to our experience. Once in a while, we actually show up to the present … And before we know it, we’ve lived a life and barely shown up for it at all.
- At July 08, 2013
- By Allan
- In Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) in Marriage counseling & couples therapy, Dialectical behavior therapy in couples counseling and marriage therapy, Difficult Emotions, Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with Couples, Empathy and Vulnerability, Relationship physiology
Dan Siegel speaks about the value of Mindfulness practice. A bit like flossing the brain.
The EFT therapy approach provides down-to-earth, practical and often, transformative alternatives for couples.
This mystery of love, this mixture of sex and emotion – what happens in relationships that we are swept to the heights of passion and delight, to anxiety and anger, shame and rage.
EFT draws on contemporary research and findings and is enriched by understandings from interpersonal neurobiology.
Blaming our partners…
So much of the suffering and complaints in relationships are blamefully directed at our partners.
If only he or she were different. If only …then, then things would be perfect.
“Why can’t he ever be on time…it pisses me off?”
“If he just cleaned up after himself.. this relationship would be great”
“I’d be happy if he wasn’t just so chubby” … and the list of complaints goes on.
“I just wish she was more like my last girlfriend …”
Worth a few minutes of listening…
It’s so much easier to believe that we are right – and that our partner is wrong. Indeed, this is the basis for so much struggle in relationship: I’m right (and therefore one up) and you are wrong (and one down). Most of the issues which couples argue over have many perspectives – most issues have many shades of opinion and that evidence can be gathered to support these many different positions on any issue.
The key lies in being able to let go of our attachment “to being right” and opening to listen to the other.
A worthwhile TED talk by Kathryn Schulz …. “On being wrong..”
I invite you to take some time (with your partner or alone) and listen …
I strongly recommend you read Judith Viorst’s “Grown-Up Marriage” (2003) – as a gift to your relationship, yourself and your family .
The book offers a fresh look at way in which the illusions and mirages which we all too easily hold onto shape our expectations – and can get in the way, suffocating our relationship. Letting go of these illusions, we adjust our expectations. Judith Viorst puts it like this:
“But if we imagine that marriage is where we can let it hang out day after day while continuing to excite and delight in each other, we are mistaken. If we imagine that marriage is where we can bitch, burp, snicker and snipe day after day without paying a price, we are wrong. We’re indulging in a fantasy of unearned, effortless love, the love an infant seeks from a perfect mommy. We are indulging in a fantasy that has little to do with love in a grown-up marriage.”
Indeed, deepening friendship and trust takes work – dedicated work over time. In a grown-up marriage, we come to tolerate each other’s limitations and imperfections. We aren’t our partner’s parent, teacher, editor, supervisor or home-improvement project. We don’t always have to be in love with each other – indeed we come to realize that we can’t always be in love with each other. But “a grown up marriage enables us, when we fall out of love with each other, to stick around, until we fall back in”.
Sometimes it can be difficult to go it alone. Nor do you need to. Support and skill-learning can make an enormous differences.
I invite you to check out the resources we have available at the Couples Training Institute, specifically the research-based approaches which are easily learned and practiced over time.
You’ll be glad you did…
The word vulnerable has its roots in the Latin “vulnerare” – to wound. It points to the places where we are softer, more exposed – perhaps places which are linked to previous emotional hurts and injuries. No where does our vulnerability to being hurt or injured show up more strongly than in relationship. Its here that our buttons get pressed, that we get stirred up in response to our partner, that early hurts still echo.
The TED talks provide in-depth, interesting quality presentations on a wide range of topics.
Brene Brown talks here about Vulnerability – worth a listen.
I was in a restaurant the other day and was struck by a conversation which I couldn’t help dropping into, partly because the couple were talking loudly and partly because one couldn’t help being jarred by the language that was being used.
Both were engaged in a tirade of insults and complaints along with a good assortment of very colorful and negative adjectives. I was struck by the intensity and power of the negativity, the harshness, insults, put downs and criticisms – I’m sure that you get the picture.
Our culture energizes negativity
I’m constantly amazed at how much more energy goes into negative interactions like complaining, insulting and criticizing: so much more than into positive, supportive and affirming communications. Step into any classroom and notice for a few minutes the energy which is invested in recognizing the positive, compliant behaviors. Now notice the energy which focuses on the child or children who are committing the crimes. Exponentially more energy goes to those breaking the rules.
So it is in relationships. Somehow, the passion and energy are much stronger when it comes to trashing and criticizing our partner. It seems like its so much easier to complain about what we don’t like versus telling our partner what we value and appreciate about them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that couples should avoid complaining or letting each other know what they do that annoys pisses you off. Complaining effectively is a very important skill – particularly being able to transform the complaint into a request.
The challenging reality that couples all to often face is when critical, harsh negative statements outweigh the more positive ones. In fact current research into marriage and relationship resiliance and success by John and Julie Gottman, points strongly to the importance of the ratio of negative, critical communications to positive and affirming communications. Five positive to one negative is optimal. When this ratio is altered, harshness and criticism dominate.
This increased harshness and criticism catalyzes the couple drifting apart , and further away from each other.
The outcome is increased loneliness, distance and isolation within the relationship. This elevated intensity of negative emotions also increases the risk of diffuse physiological arousal or DPA which can give rise to emotional Flooding. This can be very damaging and hurtful to the relationship.
So it is critical that we store up a good reservoir of positive regard: its like a surplus on hand. This is done by letting our partner know what we appreciate and cherish about him or her. Particularly what he or she does that upholds or feeds the values and things we want in our relationship.
How about letting your partner know two things which he or she did over the past week or so that was really caring or kind or generous or thoughtful or considerate. I invite you to give it a try. You’ll be amazed at the positive energy that gets generated in your relationship.
No doubt about it, energizing fondness and appreciation for our partner is vital: from a research point of view its essential to building friendship and trust.
Learn more about the importance of appreciation in couples and marriage relationships