Monthly Archives: April 2016

Conundrums in Relationships

Even in the strongest of relationships, there will be times when small irritations can cause mountains to grow out of molehills, so it’s important to keep striving for better communication.

As the essence of relationships, communication has a great impact on every aspect of life. Yet the channels of communication can sometimes become blocked, even among people who care deeply for each other. It’s often difficult to put our feelings into words or concentrate fully when our partner speaks. Unhelpful silences or verbal attacks can arise and drive us further apart.

Common barriers to communication include: threatening or unpleasant behavior such as criticism and bossiness; only hearing what we want to hear; getting bored or distracted; and not expressing our point clearly. Fortunately, working on our communication skills helps us to break through this sort of impasse. So follow these tried and tested tips to stop you reaching for the expletives and reach an understanding instead.

No matter what else is going on, try to make time for your partner on a day-to-day basis. Good communication is about deepening your understanding of each other, not simply avoiding arguments. Easier said than done, of course, but making time to talk is worth the effort. All being well, these occasions will be enjoyable and bring great rewards, so make a dinner date, share a bath or go for a walk together and let the conversation flow.

Secondly, remember the importance of intimate, non-sexual contact. Hugs and kisses are the glue which holds a relationship together, and consider activities such as sport to reconnect non-verbally. Psychologists believe the vast majority of communication takes place without words through body language.

Do you believe you know everything there is to know about your partner? It may be worth checking this out by asking them questions to reveal more about themselves. To deepen the communication and understanding between you, try talking about the times when you feel happiest or your hopes and dreams for the future. Don’t assume that your partner feels the same way you do.

This could bring up relationship ‘hot spots’ – work, money, childcare – which can then be dealt with openly. Experts suggest setting up reciprocal arrangements in which you both agree to take on an equal number of tasks and chores.

If you find yourself slipping into an argument, there are many ways to keep the row healthy. Most importantly, own your emotions by using “I” statements. For example, rather than “You make me angry,” or “This is all your fault,” try saying, “I feel concerned/upset…”. This keeps things calmer and makes it easier to compromise, as your partner will not become so defensive. Then keep to the point rather than slipping into attack and counter-attack, or emotional withdrawal.

But talking this way is only possible if you are aware of your own feelings. For this, you must recognize them, be accepting of them, and able to express them. We each have our own way of dealing with conflicts – your style may be to avoid the issue, give in, or blame the other person. Being aware of your style and that of your partner will help you resolve the situation.

In the heat of the moment, try to stay calm and accentuate the positive. See the other’s point of view while showing respect, and then look for a compromise that you can both accept. Listen carefully, give empathy and positive responses, and overlook the insults. Respond to criticism as useful information, if at all possible! Remember, the objective is not to stop every argument but to stop the escalating bitterness.

If either partner gets beyond the point of being civil and rational, ask for a “time-out” to calm down. But be sure to agree on continuing the discussion when you have had time to think about it.

How to get strengthening families relationship

One key to an emotionally healthy life is having the support of a strong, supportive family. A strong family may be as small as two people or as large as a kinship network of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The size of the family, indeed the composition of the family, does not matter as much as the feeling of belonging and the sense of sustenance that emerges from living with stable familial support. People seem to do better in life when they have the feeling of belonging to something larger, and stronger, than they are individually. It helps in eliminating uncertainty from the stresses of everyday living.

The family has undergone many changes over recent decades, due mainly to major social and cultural changes. When life was mainly agriculturally based or when immigrants came to a new land, the traditional family was able to thrive. We looked to our kin for support and they were there for us. The decades since the middle of the twentieth century have seen a steady unraveling of this bygone ideal. It is difficult to describe precisely what caused this change. It may have been such factors as social security (the government, rather than children, could take care of people when they grew old). Or the automobile and modern roads (people were no longer confined to one location any longer – family members could move away). Or was it television? Computers and electronic data transmission? Improved communication technology? The high divorce rate? What we do know is that families today find it more difficult, due to competing demands from the larger world, to spend time together, to feel committed to each other, to communicate with each other, to share spiritual values and to cope with crises together. Some families, however, seem to have overcome these threats to a strong and thriving family life.

An ongoing research project conducted by Dr. Nick Stinnett at the University of Nebraska has aimed to identify the characteristics of strong families around the world. Stinnett and his colleagues since 1974 have surveyed over 3,000 families, about 80% of whom were from the United States and 20% from other parts of the world. About thirty percent were rural and 70% urban. The participants represented different economic levels, racial/ethnic classifications, age groups, religions and educational levels. In spite of cultural, political and language differences, strong families had similar characteristics.

Here are the six qualities shared by strong families:

A Sense of Commitment to the Family

A commitment is a pledge or a promise. Applied to family life, it is a sense of responsibility or duty to the family that overrides temporary conflicts or times of crisis. Members of strong families take their familial commitment seriously. It is conscious, unwavering and unconditional. Strong families are not immune to the problems faced by everyone else in modern times – they too face hectic days, financial difficulties, demanding work hours, marital infidelity, and illness. In strong families, however, commitment implies that family members help each other out during hard times. They make the family relationship a priority, even if it means sacrificing personal wants, activities outside of the family, or work demands. At the core of sacrificing for the family is the idea of putting the interests of others ahead of one’s own – a notion that reflects moral values and integrity.

Try these things:

Arrange a family council for an hour once a month. Discuss your family goals, what you are doing to meet them, and what needs to be worked on. Listen to each other’s ideas rather than condemning them. Encourage free, open and accepting communication.

If everyone in the family is too busy with outside activities, rearrange schedules so that more time can be spent together with the family. Or have each family member agree to give up one outside activity.

Designate a wall in the house as the “family wall.” Decorate it with photos, souvenirs, and family mementos.

Make a record of the family history in a photo album, identifying dates, places and special events.

Showing Appreciation and Building Self-Esteem

Healthy families share in common the ability to show appreciation to each other. By showing appreciation, we are essentially saying that the other person is worthy and has dignity. We are declaring that we can see the positive qualities of the other person. This message is crucial to emotional wellness because it is a core building block of self-esteem. Thus, strong families help to build healthy personalities. Parents and siblings have a strong influence in molding children to see themselves as either good or bad. When a person’s self-definition is characterized by negative self-esteem, he or she has difficulty both in acknowledging positive feedback and in giving it. Strong families cherish their members, show that they are valued, and build self-esteem in their members that can be carried on to the next generation.

Try these things:

 Set a goal of giving each family member at least one compliment per day.

Create a positive home environment by reframing negative statements into positive ones (instead of saying, “You are always trying to control me,” say “I like how you are concerned about my well-being all the time”).

Write down ten things you like about each member of your family – and then show them your list.

Sharing Positive Communication

One research study has shown that the average couple spends seventeen minutes per week in conversation. In contrast, strong families spend a great deal of time talking with one another  ranging from trivial matters to important issues. Communication helps us to feel connected, and because members of strong families feel free to exchange information and ideas, they become good problem solvers. Some families set aside time for family council meetings and others do their talking over the dinner table each night. Most communication in these families, however, is spontaneous. Positive communication involves both talking and listening.

Try these things:

Designate a time for the family to share the events of the day (for example, at dinner). Avoid disciplining and negative remarks during this time.

Look objectively at your communication patterns and determine which ones can be improved (for example, using sarcasm, creating crises, cutting off someone else who is speaking). Work on one communication habit for a month. Then, the next month, work on another.

Love and Infatuation

Finally, you have met him or her. You know what I mean, the one. All your life, or so it seems, you have been waiting for the person who made your heart pound, made the stars bright, and taken over all reasonable thought processes with ideas of making love on every beach from here to Tahiti.

You have a weird expression on your face, food suddenly seems like a mere inconvenience and sleep is just something you used to do. Your friends tease you about being in love. Your mother WARNS you about being in love.

Of course, you’re not stupid. You’ve been around (more than Mom knows about), and you have spent time in meditation/therapy having explored your own needs in the world. You want a soulmate but this guy or gal is just so sexy that it’s hard to imagine introducing him or her to your parents at all.

Going Public

So, things are going well and you are looking toward the next step, becoming an item. Going public. Everyone knows and invites you as a couple. People you know speculate about the future of your relationship. But the future means forever when it comes to commitment, so how do you know if this is really a good thing?

Are people whispering about how happy they are for you, or are they wondering if you should be committed yourself (like in a secure mental health facility)? And how about yourself? Do you feel comfortable with your newest love interest or do you just want to feel comfortable with someone? Is this the person that you want to spend your life with or are you just afraid to march into the future alone?

These very large questions deserve great considerations. The passions of new love are so entwined in our own emotional makeup that it seems impossible to find objective considerations when proceeding along love’s thorny paths. So, for the purposes of this discussion, let us define love and infatuation so each can be thought about in a more organized manner.

Love is Forever Changing

Love as a dynamic process. For me, that means that there is a relationship that flexes, changes and grows as people mature, experience happens upon them, priorities and dreams are built and goals are met. Love brings out the best in people as individuals. The relationship between them becomes the way they define their lives. As jobs, careers, and family concerns change, people are able to work as a team to be understanding and flexible so the relationship (their lives) will flourish.

Dynamic process of love equals a sharing of emotion, trust, and growth of relationship. Growth is increasing ability of a couple to live symbiotically, enjoy each other’s company, trust each other with more secrets, depend on each other in more crises over the years, in raising children and taking care of aging relatives. It’s about growing old together, and long-term investments like real estate and children.