Build Up Your Love Account

February 24, 2017

Build Up Your Love Account

 

Ahhh, February  – the month of love.  A good time to give attention to our relationships.

Like most things in life, relationships change.  As time goes by, they either grow healthier or become weaker.  Relationships need to be nurtured and attended to if they are to flourish.  Reflect back on when your relationship began and think about the attention and love that you gave so automatically.   Sadly, as time has gone by, many of us have changed the way we treat our partners.

Here are three easy steps to make some immediate improvement.  We are going to borrow the idea of the “Emotional Bank Account” from Dr. Steven Covey, world-renowned author and lecturer.

Consider a traditional bank account.  We make deposits and we make withdrawals.  Our deposits are made in the currency the bank accepts.  In America, for example, we typically make our deposits in US currency and not in Chinese Yuans or Russian Rubles.  Hopefully we make larger deposits and much smaller, and infrequent, withdrawals.  If our account has a low balance and we make a large withdrawal,  our account might get closed.

Now let’s think about Dr. Covey’s Emotional Bank Account.  Some couples have such a large emotional bank account that you can actually see it.  They hold hands wherever they go, their faces light up when the other approaches, and they always seem happy when together.  Here are a few simple steps you can take to work towards that kind of a relationship.

Step 1.  Determine the currency you need for your particular account

Use the knowledge you have of your partner to determine the currency you will use.  Think about what he/she values.  For example, if your husband enjoys car shows, go with him and listen to him as he tells you about the cars on display.   Does your wife feel overwhelmed at times?  Imagine her delight if she got in her car Monday morning and found out you had filled her gas tank.  On the other hand, using the wrong currency will not add to the balance and could even take away from it.  I remember one man who gave his wife a space heater for Christmas because she always said she was cold.  While this certainly was a practical gift, it wasn’t anything she wanted and, hence, was the wrong currency.  What a missed opportunity!

Step 2.  Begin making regular deposits to build up the balance

Couples with that special connection are those who take time daily to let their partner know they are loved.  It could be a gentle touch on the shoulder, shutting off the phone when they want to talk, or even a simple thank you to recognize the things you may have been taking for granted.  Note: the cost of this type of an investment is simply your time.  Such an easy and yet powerful way to demonstrate your love.  

Step 3.  Reduce your withdrawals

Withdrawals are times in which we hurt or disappoint our partners.  For example, forgetting an anniversary could be a withdrawal. Getting home too late to attend the children’s concert would be another withdrawal.   Naturally, withdrawals are going to happen from time to time.  However, they have much less of an impact if your balance is high because of your consistent deposits.  It is important to note that some withdrawals could bankrupt an account regardless of it’s balance.  For example, having an affair is an extremely large withdrawal that ends many relationships.  Account closed.

Let’s review.  Here are the steps you can take NOW to improve your relationship.

  1. Determine the currency you will use.  
  2. Begin making daily deposits.
  3. Cut back on your withdrawals.  

Love.  Something we all desire.  Something worth investing in.

The Power of Equality In Marriage

December 30, 2013

By Diane Walker, December 30, 2013

In my practice as a psychotherapist, I have talked with couples about the importance of “maintaining a level playing field” within their relationship. I define this as an equal balance of power, each partner allowing the other to be true to their personality.  Couples often come to therapy with a marked imbalance of power, one partner has become discouraged with “always being the one who gives in to the wishes of the other”.  Marriages require a constant give and take, “I will, then you will” type of respect.  Couples often talk about not feeling “respected or noticed” in their relationships. Generally, this means they are not feeling validated; they cannot be true to their identity, their true personality.

 

Think of your relationship with your best friend (who is not your partner); is this different from your relationship with your partner? Typically, we can be completely forthright and honest with our best friends.  We can get angry, frustrated with each other, or not agree with the choices our friend makes but we still maintain our close relationship. Best friendships are egalitarian, characterized by equal dignity, they evolve over time, as we enter new phases in our own lives.  As with making friends, dating is often filled with hope, expectation, disappointment, and happiness. As the relationship evolves into a commitment, our own expectations and hopes evolve.  In a mutually respectful relationship, we allow each other the freedom to grow together, to say what we want to say, to act as we choose.

 

I often tell clients they have the freedom to be who they are without judgement in my office and hopefully in the outside world.  We all need to make rules that are of our own choosing to accomplish goals and meet with success.  Within marriage, partners must  be able to listen to each other and be heard, even if one is in disagreement. One must accept influence from the other, as much as you may be influential. We have to be able to talk straight and ask for what we want/need even though there are risks involved, such as disappointing your partner. Talking about the disappointment with honest communication creates this type of equality.

 

The relationship consists of two separate individuals who have had different life experiences. Often, the couple’s expectations are that we handle conflict, money, chores, child rearing, in the same way. Two people who allow for their differences can create fairness and lower the likelihood of establishing controlling expectations. Traditionally, women have maintained the household and raised the children while the men supported the family financially, often due to social norms. Gender roles have dramatically changed in the past several decades allowing for an increase in equality of domestic and financial duties.  More importantly to the relationship though, is the feeling that our identities and worth are affirmed and valued. This allows for each other’s vulnerabilities, which is a difficult but necessary component for a successful, long term relationship while allowing us to be completely true to our own personhood.

 

Personal happiness is a quality that can only be achieved through individual work. Your relationship enhances this quality if it is already present although we cannot make each other happy.  Elements of equality include validation, respect, allowing for differences, accommodation, influence, paying attention to, being fair, making repairs when necessary, and fostering well being. These qualities create a level playing field within a relationship which often leads to personal satisfaction and positive growth. This in turn leads to intimacy and connection; which together create all the necessary components to a relationship that lasts through life’s milestones.

 

Counseling can help establish this platform of equality within the relationship.

This blog was inspired by an article I read in Psychology Today, February, 2014.

To schedule an appointment with me, please call 608-785-7000 x221 or click here.

 

 

 

Unleash the Power of the Positive in You….

April 25, 2013

The power of the positive…….by Diane Walker

What really happens to us when we get “stuck in the negative”; what does our body experience as a result? Conversely, how does our body react when we have a more optimistic outlook, believe in the good?

Research shows that men in unhappy marriages/relationships have a shorter lifespan of 10-15 years compared to those in happy marriages. For the purposes of this writing, we’ll define a happy marriage as one in which both partners exist on equal footing, emotional safety is present for both partners, and the ability to be completely ourselves is constantly present.

Negative thought patterns can lead to depressive symptoms, lack of energy, physical illness, unsatisfactory relationships, anxiety, anger, and that feeling of “just wanting to stay in bed all day.” It is often very difficult to maintain positive relationships when we don’t trust or believe in the goodness of others. Negative thought patterns can be instilled when we’re kids, by parents, school experiences, “life” in general. Most of us have some type of trauma in our childhoods, experiences and perspectives are individual and varied. We view our pasts through our own rose colored glasses, our own perspective, which has to be as important as anyones.

Let’s look at recent events in this country such as the Boston bombing a few weeks ago. We think about the victims with sadness, horror, and anger. We ask “why does this have to happen”; we want answers and feel like someone has to pay. Sometimes, we may get stuck in thinking we can’t explore the “unsafe” world, we don’t want to leave our houses. We may start or continue viewing other’s intentions as negative, wanting something from us, “why would you want to spend time with me”. We may look at the incredibly terrifying experience as a whole, not the incredibly compassionate events that take place within the tragedy.

What happens when we see the positive in this world; we acknowledge the negatives and violence, but do not let them define our own life’s parameters. Positive thinkers live longer, are healthier, are quick to smile, see the best in others, are motivated and believe in the power of change, and have deeper and more satisfying relationships.
The research surrounding positive thinking is prevalent and everywhere. Some people are born with natural optimism, others learn the secret of positiveness as they age. This is a skill that can be learned, that can transform your life. What about the people who help the victims of the bombing, the vast numbers of people who send cards, donate prosthetics, time, money, and smiles. How do some people get to forgiveness and begin the process of moving on with their lives?

How do some people learn the power of hope, despite everything they have been through in their lives. One Sunday, there was a story about a guy who never learned to read. He is a World War II veteran who survived the landing at Normandy. He worked as a civilian after the war until retirement age. His wife and co-workers covered for him so no one ever knew he couldn’t read. His lifetime dream was to read a book before he died. He is now 90 and has finally read several books; he tries to explain his intense feelings related to accomplishing his goal. He said, “Get in there and learn, you ain’t going to learn in that pine box”. How simple would it have been for him to just forget about this and live his life the way he always had. Change is possible at any age, in any environment, in any circumstance if we want it badly enough.

We can all learn the power of positive thinking and embracing positive change. Counseling can help with your outlook.

To schedule an appointment with Diane, click here now or  call 608-785-7000 x221!

 

Here is a great video on Mental Health Wellness vs Mental Illness…

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April 10, 2013

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Spouse Won’t Talk to You? Here are Some Tips for Marriage Communication Help

February 14, 2011

One of the most frustrating marriage problems for couples tends to be communication within the marriage. Couples sometimes feel they need marriage communication help or marriage counseling to get back on track with one another. And although marriage counseling may be the right solution, I would like to offer some advice to consider trying first.

Typically, communication problems for wives stem from when their spouse has difficulty confiding and sharing. Comments like “my husband won’t talk to me” are a common symptom of communication problems within a marriage. These comments are also indicators that getting help to work through the problems could be important to consider.

It doesn’t matter if it is a major or minor topic, many women share during marriage counseling and therapy sessions that they feel extremely anxious and alone when their husbands have difficulty in providing the level of communication needed. After years of experiencing rejection, wives sometimes report feeling abandoned, and in the worst of situations, believe they need help for a broken marriage.

Intimate marriages where both partners feel a strong and close communication connection and are able to confide in one another, frequently have two processes at work. The first is gentleness and the second is acceptance. Intimate marriages have an “emotional intimacy barometer.” In most of these marriages, the wife is the monitor of the emotional intimacy levels. This is a wonderful, intuitive gift for knowing when the emotional distance between two people is too much and often leads to the wife attempting to draw the husband to be closer emotionally. The wife often brings something to her husband in an attempt to reconnect and open communication. When her attempt is met with acceptance, love, and open arms by her husband, the balance of closeness and distance begins to be restored. When her attempt at improving communication within the marriage is met with rejection by her husband, ignoring, or even belligerence, closeness continues to erode and intimacy embarks upon a slow death. A broken marriage can sometimes be the end result.

My advice is first for the men reading this: Meet your spouse’s needs for communication, ANY kind of discussion, with responsiveness. Instead of lecturing or providing all the reasons why something is the way it is, or the pros and cons of it, give your spouse a compliment and focus on her strengths. Appreciate that she is coming to you, confiding in you, sharing…communicating. Let her know you hear her.  It can be something like “Thanks for bringing this up” or “I am really glad I have you to pay attention to these things.”  Next, find something in what she is saying that makes sense and you agree with.  Ask for more of her thoughts on the matter. I guarantee she has lots to say on the issue. Value her and all that she brings to the table!

Advice for wives: Timing of the communication is everything! How you say it is as important as when you say it!  Gently approach your spouse and ask if it is a good time to talk about something important. Don’t accept ignoring! If this happens, simply state, “After X” or “in 10 minutes” I want to get your opinion and thoughts on Y. Be specific with the topic and stay with one topic – gently. Believe me when I tell you that husbands can get easily overwhelmed and can have a difficult time tracking multiple topics. Stay with one topic and only one topic. That will be enough for your spouse to digest at one time.  And, the same expressions of appreciation apply, but in a way that embraces communication, such as “I really appreciate you listening to me. It makes me love you and be more attracted to you every time you do it. Thanks.”

These communication tips won’t solve every marriage problem. However, I encourage you to give them a try for at least three to six months. No less. If there is a setback in communication, think about how you can make it better next time rather than what your spouse needs to do different. And, if it does not go so well, be the first to extend an olive branch and say “I am sorry for…Can we try again?”

You are always welcome to call our team of highly-trained professionals at Stein Counseling and Consulting if you ever feel that you and your spouse could benefit from unbiased and impartial marriage counseling. We have helped many married couples eliminate the feelings of living in a broken marriage. Some marriage counseling successes can be:

  • Increase intimacy and closeness in a relationship
  • Build a culture of praise and appreciation
  • Increase teamwork in a marriage
  • Solve challenging problems of communication, sexual relationships, finances, co-parenting, household chores, fun and recreation, in-laws, religious differences, and intimacy

Communication problems are normal and seeking advice from someone with experience can oftentimes be the right solution to getting a marriage back on track. Call us…we would be happy to help.

Depression – A Long Winter: Types, Effects, and Impact on Relationships

January 17, 2011

Anti-depressants are the number 1 prescribed medication in the United States. There are various forms of this mood disorder: Major Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Dysthmia.  Within the clinical world of mental health, depression is as common as a cold. Most people with depression do are unaware of it at first although their significant others clearly are aware they are not their usual selves and are worried. They often try to persuade the other to get help with little success until the depression has gone from mild to moderate OR severe.

The first thing to know is that depression comes with various intensities: MILD, MODERATE, SEVERE, and EXTREME. When individuals think of depression, they often think of the most severe or extreme kind. Reality is the vast majority reside in the mild to moderate range and can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.. A common response is “I don’t think I am depressed” but after a careful evaluation of symptoms and linking these symptoms to behavior does one come to understand the manifestation of depression.

Major Depression:

Depression is a disorder that impacts  the mind, body, and spirit.   Major Depression is also known as major depressive disorder and clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave.

More than just feeling sad or blue (those go away and don’t often have very brief behavioral, emotional, and mental effects), depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that may come on as a result of genetic, environment, or both. It is more that just adjusting to a stressful situation. It isn’t  weakness or is it something that you can simply “snap out” of. It requires treatment and most do recover from depression in a fairly short amount of time.

Signs and symptoms of clinical depression may include:

  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Persistent sadness or feeling of emptiness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Increase or decrease in sexual desire
  • Excessive guilt
  • Anxious thoughts (be described as an unquiet mind)
  • Loss of concentration
  • Fatigue or Lethargy
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Onset is in fall and winter and is SADS is caused by less daylight during the fall and winter.

Melatonin is a hormone that our brains produce during the hours of darkness. It is involved with regulation of sleep, body temperature and release of hormones. As with any hormone, the amount produced is important.

People with SAD overly produce melatonin. This disrupts body’s ability to regulate itself and  leads to depressive symptoms. If you have had episodes of depression that clearly have an onset in fall or winter followed by feeling better and asymptomatic  in the spring or summer, you may have SAD. Many comment on feeling more tired and often try to self-medicate (unknowingly) through the use of increased caffeine use.

Symptoms of winter-onset seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping (feeling like you want to hibernate)
  • Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates such as pastas, rice, bread and cereal
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating and processing information

Dysthmia (dis-THI-me-uh)

Dysthymia is a mild, chronic, form of depression. Dysthymia symptoms usually have been present for the  last  two years, but clients report it has been present for much longer than that – sometimes beginning in adolescence.

While the symptoms are more mild than other forms of depression, given the chronicity of it the consequences and impact are more severe. Individuals with dysthymia  often feel hopeless (“What’s the point?), have difficulty beginning and completing tasks (“I just don’t feel like it”) and have a low self-esteem (“My spouse, coworkers, etc..don’t care about me……Why should I care?”). People with dysthymia are viewed by others of as being overly critical, negativistic, constantly complaining and unable to losen up – only, they are unaware others view them this way and when it is brought to their attention, the person with dysthmia will say “that’s just the way I am” OR become defensive OR become critical. The glass is always half empty for a person with dysthmia and they believe someone must have stolen the milk!

Depression and Couples

Depression of any type can create what are known as “cognitive distortions” in a relationship/marriage.  Distortions are a set of internal beliefs that an individual takes as FACT when it is what they tell themselves about the facts. For example, a dumped coffee on the ground “I can’t believe someone dumped out their coffee here. They should have dumped it in the garbage can” or “Too bad, someone accidentally spilled their coffee” are beliefs and a story based on the coffee on the ground. We don’t know which is the real story because we were not there, but as human beings, we make inferences based on what is observable.

Depression strongly impacts a persons beliefs about marriage, their spouse, and themselves in a way that contributes to a negative cycle of interaction. It impacts a marriage at all levels; friendship; fondness and admiration, intimacy, positivity, resolving conflict, repairing the relationship, how issues are raised, being open to the others’ thoughts and opinions, de-escalating and calming down, compromising, and creating lifelong dreams and meaning (Gottman, 2002).

After a thorough assessment of each persons view of relationships in the above areas, a therapist can determine the issues a client brings to therapy that make marital interventions ineffective and develop solutions couple specific to reduce the impact of depression on treatment resistance to mariage therapy.

Infidelity: Crisis and Call for Change

January 10, 2011

Research (Gottman, 2009) shows men ages 55-65 are most likely to have affairs and women ages 40 – 45. Other risk factors (not cause) include making more than $30,000 annually, higher status, moderate to low marital satisfaction,  and travel for occupation.  Religion is NOT a protective factor in marriages with low marital satisfaction. Typically, 25 – 30% of marriages in counseling have been marked by an affair.

It is devastating and undeniably painful given that trust is broken, love and admiration are crushed, and it feels impossible to sort out. Possiblly worst of all, the faithful partner now desires to flee the person who hurt them, however; needs comfort AND while the faithful person may desire to seek comfort from the unfaithful partner; they cannot.  This may create a sense of disorganization, especially if the faithful partner has a trauma history from early caregiving they received or other betrayals from intimate partners.

Treatment can help. Initially, the person who had the affair must be willing to disclose all the details in answering the faithful partners’ questions, cut off all contact with the other person, and be willing to rebuild a different marriage. For the faithful partner, it means understanding this is a trauma and as such, Post Trauma Stress Disorder Symptoms are common such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, numbing, hyper-arousal, anxiety, panicky feelings, and an inability to think about anything else.  The faithful partner needs the freedom to express feelings, freedom to ask any questions and have them answered directly and honestly, and be wiling to rebuild a different marriage. The straying partner needs to be willing to be honest, open, and accepting.

And that is just the beginning. While not all marriages can survive the aftermath of infidelity, many survive and thrive;  having a renewed friendship, increased awareness and ability to comfort each other, and deeper emotional intimacy. Click here to make an appointment request or call 608-785-7000 x221 for an appointment with a marriage expert.

Creating or Renewing Intimacy

February 1, 2010

Personalize

Intimacy is personal for every relationship. Find out what helps each of you feel or sustain closeness and affection in your relationship. Here are some hints about some areas to examine and things to try to create, enhance, or sustain intimacy. Relationship are made, they don’t just happen.

Spending Time Together

Most people who feel close to one another spend a certain amount of time alone with one another. In busy times, with the demands of children and work, some couples find that they leave their time together as the last thing on their agenda. It might be important to put some special effort into scheduling or carving out some time regularly to spend with one another without distractions.

Get Physical

Most couples who report intimacy find that they touch each other in little ways when they are together: holding hands, sitting close, giving hugs when greeting or parting, touching the other person’s elbow or shoulder when talking, and so on. In more private settings, there is more sexual touching. Has the touch or physical contact gone out of your relationship? Can you begin to reinstate it with simple gestures, like giving each other backrubs or holding hands while watching television? That might go a long way toward restoring or sustaining feelings of closeness.

Be Vulnerable

Telling each other things that are risky to say, because you might be hurt or criticized by the other person, is a way to create or restore intimacy. Couples often share their hopes, dreams, and vulnerable feelings early on during courtship, but less so as time goes on. Many a midlife crisis was brought on by one partner feeling that he or she could no longer share deep, vulnerable feelings with their partner. Take a chance with your partner by sharing something a bit risky. It could open the door to intimacy.

Drop Judgments and Communicate Compassion and Admiration

One of the barriers to intimacy is feeling that one’s partner doesn’t like or respect you or that you are being judged. Try dropping your critical feelings about your partner and developing some compassion or understanding, or acceptance of quirks or nondestructive habits. Does he love baseball? Instead of belittling his passion, try supporting him in his interest. Does she cry at movies? Don’t scoff and tell her she is being too sentimental, but give her the message that she is okay and you admire her for crying when she sees sad things.

Increasing Intimacy – What The Research Says

April 10, 2009

Research shows that couples who adjust their schedules 5.5 hours a week increase intimacy and closeness (Gottman, 2008). This is based on couples who have made progress in therapy/coaching and seem to continue making progress outside of therapy/coaching.

Here is the the ares of change taken verbatim from Gottman’s Library of Interventions (2008):

Partings: Don’t part in the morning without knowing one interesting thing that
will happen in your partner’s day, and kiss for a minimum of six
seconds. Two minutes a day x five working days. Total 10 minutes.
Reunions: The six-second kiss. The stress-reducing conversation. Each partner
take 10 minutes to talk about your day. Partner does active listening.
Give support. Rule: Understanding must precede advice. Twenty
minutes a day x five days. Total 1 hour 40 minutes.
Admiration and Appreciation: Find some way every day to genuinely
communicate affection and appreciation for your partner. Five
minutes a day x seven days. Total 35 minutes.
Affection: Kiss, hold, grab, touch each other. Play is good. Make sure to kiss
each other before going to sleep, and follow the admonition in
Ephesians, “Do not let the sun set on your wrath.” The six-second
kiss. Five minutes a day x seven days. Total 35 minutes.
Love Maps: Update your Love Maps. Turn towards one another. Go out on a
marital date. Two hours once a week. Think of great questions to ask
your partner (e.g., “How are you thinking of changing the bedroom
these days?” or “What would be your idea of a great getaway?” or
“How are you thinking about your work these days?”). These dates
can sometimes be about resolving a relationship or marital issue.

Aftermath of a Fight: (Six Step Process not included here)For the first few months after treatment, consider practicing an aftermath of a fight once a week. We encourage you to
use it with smaller disagreements so that you can get the hang of the
six steps encompassed in the process. Remember that the masters of
marriage rarely use all six steps at the same time. John Gottman
created this process for the purpose of learning all six steps. Do this
process 20 times, and you’ll find yourself incorporating different
aspects of it spontaneously while discussing an area of disagreement
(e.g., listening and validating your partner’s subjective reality or
catching if one of you is flooded or taking responsibility for some
piece of the issue). Thirty minutes once a week

Help: My spouse gets really defensive…What do I do?

April 5, 2009

angry-couple Defensiveness is one of the four toxins in communication, however; it is a common toxin found in almost all marriages. Happily married couples have less of the toxin than do couples who eventually divorce. The challenge is reducing your spouses defensiveness.

Watch defensive interactions:YouTube Preview Image

Typically, a defensive response (words or action) suggests “wait a minute, slow down; I’m not with you on this; I don’t agree.” Defensive responses are common and normal in an argument or disagreement, in fact, it is associated with a healthy sense of self. Imagine a world where everyone agreed with everyone all the time. I purpose that would be boring as all can be.

Defensiveness is like traffic signals in a discussion: stop, proceed with caution, or go forward with what you are doing. Typically, defensiveness means proceed with caution. Responding to defensiveness in a manner that is de-escalating and soothing makes the difference. If defensiveness is increasing in the discussion, it is likely that it is being fueled (not all the time) but most of the time. There are some cases where a person is simply defensive all the time as a personality trait. This is rare. The majority of the time in marriages, when a couple is “chronically” in defend-attack mode, it is a result of ongoing toxic communication patterns and neither is slamming on the breaks to supply the much needed antidote. Defensiveness can also be delivered in a sweet sounding package, like a warm, nice tone of voice.  Any response that is essentially a “Yes, but” is a defensive response no matter how it is delivered.

How to respond to defensiveness?  Roll with it.

That’s right. Roll with it. Sound to simple? It is extremely difficult. There are two options; five second delay or agree with what is agreeable (Gottman, 2005).

If you are a man reading this, research has shown that if you wait five seconds before responding, you will likely be less defensive.  Only FIVE seconds!!

Look at your watch and time five seconds. It sounds like a short period of time, but in what I call “relationship time” it seems like eternity.

Try it as an experiment next time the tension is rising.

Either men or woman can do the second experiment. Find something in the points that your partner is making with which you agree or  make sense and then stop (temporarily).

For example:  “I really hear your points on this one. There are a couple I really agree with such as…” OR “I never thought of it from that angle. I really appreciate your thoughts on this.”

Then STOP –  Do not “BUT” and then begin stating your points.

Instead, elicit more information from your partner. “Do you have any other thoughts on this issue?”

Hear your partners points all the way through. Be patient. Avoid sounding sarcastic with the above. Your turn comes after you thoroughly understand your partner. After your partners turn, open with, “OK. I am wondering if you can hear my points on this issue and tell me what you agree with. We can argue the points of contention later. Let’s just find some common ground for starters – OK?”

Right now, if there is a defensiveness you are feeling when you read this (IE: “sounds like psychobabble, no one talks that way, I could never do that, my spouse would laugh their head off, my partner would never believe me if I did that, I am not giving in like that to him/her, my partner would never respond to me”) it means that you are entrenched in your position in the argument with your partner- which likely means the issue is very, very important to you and you may believe that by experimenting with the “Roll with it” you are somehow conceding or giving up. I assure you, that is not the case. I implore you to maintain your expectations and to argue for what you want. I am suggesting that how you are arguing is not working for you or your partner. Research shows that when giving up one’s expectations in marriage, the marriage begins a slow death.

Save your marriage.

Keep the Faith

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