Sometimes the Issues Aren’t What They Seem

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My wife, Michelle, and I met with a couple that were fighting about how much time they should spend at her parents when they visited that weekend. We tried to get them to agree on the amount of time. He said 2 hours and she said 6 hours. Eventually, they compromised. He was at 4 hours and she was at 4 hours and 15 minutes. They couldn’t close the gap between the last 15 minutes.
Suddenly, it occurred to me. This isn’t about how much time they spend at her parent’s house. This was about something else. Negotiating a compromise wasn’t helping.

There are different levels to what couples fight about. Sometimes, the real issues aren’t the surface issues. Read More

Relationship Rx: Gratitude

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gratitude 

noun grat·i·tude \ˈgra-tə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\: a feeling of appreciation or thanks

While Merriam-Webster’s definition of gratitude is pretty clear and encompassing, I think we all might feel gratitude in slightly different ways. To me, gratitude differs from appreciation in that I can appreciate a good book, a dry sense of humor, or a killer pair of shoes. However, I am grateful for the things (and people) that I feel I don’t entirely deserve.

Whatever your personal definition of the word, recent studies have found that gratitude may be a key factor in making your relationship last. What if we could replace annoyance, anger, or resentment with feelings of gratitude instead? Read More

Arrows of Appreciation

When there is tension or conflict in a relationship, we are encouraged to speak using “I” statements—“I get worried when I don’t know you’re working late,” or “I wish we could make more of an effort to spend quality time alone.” “I” statements attribute responsibility to the speaker for his/her own perceptions and feelings.

“You” statements, such as, “You never let me know when you’re going to be home late,” or “You spend too much time with your friends,” can put the listener on the defensive from the start. In a way, a “you” statement is like shooting an arrow right at your partner. If it precedes negative, accusatory, or blaming words, they are going to feel the sting and likely react in just as prickly a manner. arrow Read More

Win-Win Communication

What is your communication style? Generally, there are four common styles: tin_can_telephone

  1. Passive
    Passive communicators are often unwilling to share thoughts, feelings, or desires in an honest way. This tendency may stem from low self-esteem, but it is also used to avoid criticism or hurting others’ feelings. Being the recipient of passive communicators tend to leave their partner feeling angry, confused, and mistrustful.

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