Saturday, May 29, 2010

Disrespectful Judgements

Now to our next Lovebuster:

Disrespectful Judgements: Attempt to “straighten out another persons attitudes, beliefs and behavior by trying to impose your way of thinking through lecture, ridicule or threats.

Most of us think our way of thinking is “correct.” That others that do things differently than us are wrong and we need to change their opinion for their benefit.

But in reality this is just another form of control. First we make selfish demands and when they don’t work we begin to make disrespectful judgements. It’s really a more sophisticated and masked form of control because it can look like your motivated by care rather than selfish motives.

The sad thing is just like the other lovebusters the end result of this one is destroying the feeling of love. The difference between demands and judgements is that with a demand you are trying to force someone to do what you want – with judgements you are trying to convince someone that you are right and they are wrong in a disrespectful way.

For example lets say a husband feels the house is not being kept clean to his standards, he would try to make his wife feel guilty about the way she did her housekeeping. Or a wife doesn’t feel her husband takes care of the children to her high standards so she would try through disrespectful judgements to make him feel inadequate for the job.

We all do this and if you really think about it they rarely work. These disrespectful judgements cause pain and are a form of control because they force the other person into your way of thinking and makes them feel stupid or inadequate if they don’t work.

So how do you come to a place of compromise, where you are both happy but still feeling like the changes that need to happen are being worked on. That’s what we will explore in our next post……

These concepts are taken from a book by William Harley called “Lovebusters which I highly recommend.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Time Away

Well my relationship blog took a week long break as we left for a somewhat spontaneous road trip to Virginia.
We decided we needed a break from regular life and wanted to do some hiking so we headed up to the Blue Ridge in Virginia, Shenandoah and Williamsburg. We were being so spontaneous that we did not even make any hotel reservations but each night made a priceline reservation. It worked out great and we stayed in some amazing hotels.
I was very proud of my "beaver" hubby as spontanaity is not his strong suit. We

will get back to our relationship blog next post!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thoughful Requests

What is a "Thoughtful Request?" Asking your spouse or someone else to do something for you, with a willingness to withdraw it if there is a reluctance.

Here's some simple guidelines to turn a Selfish Demand into a Thoughtful Request:

1. Make your request safe and enjoyable
- what this means is the way it is presented - in a safe and enjoyable manner. No demands, no disrespect and no anger. A bonus would be a smile on your face when your introduce the problem. :)

2. Explain what you want and ask how the other person feels about doing it - This takes the focus not just on what you want but also on how the other person feels. It's being considerate and thoughtful - especially important in a marriage situation. Alot of times people will be so much more willing to do it because of your concern for them, but this is not always the case. So what do you do if the other person still doesn't want to fulfill your request?

3. If the other person has a problem with your request, withdraw it in its present form and brainstorm alternatives that would be mutually acceptable.
Now the truth of the matter if you are a controlling, demanding person you will not follow this step but if you want to change then this step is crucial. What a controlling, demanding person must understand for success is that they do not have a right to make demands. So they assume that their wedding vows gave them this right but we have already talked about how our demands destroy love.

4. Keep brainstorming until you find a solution that you both can agree on.
Most of the time you spouse or any one else that cares about you wants to help. Sometimes it's the timing that is difficult or sometimes it is creating new habits but it does take time and effort to reverse some of the ways we react to each other.

If you have been in the habit of make demands you will need to ask your spouse or others to remind you of what you are doing if you really want to work on this. If you have been in the habit of making demands you probably will continue that habit unless someone can point it out in a loving manner.

Some questions to ask yourself
  • Can you identify selfish demands in your relationships?
  • Could someone bring that to your attention and if so would there be consequences for that?
  • Is it important to you that you make decisions that take others feelings into account, especially your spouse?
  • Are you will to eliminate selfish demands and replace them with thoughtful requests?
If you are really serious about this you could make a worksheet titled "Selfish Demands" so whenever one of you feels the other made a demand you write it down then have a second sheet with "Thoughtful Requests" on it where you could write down the thoughtful requests that have been made.

When you learn how to make thoughtful requests you will probably see you will receive more from each other than you did when you were making selfish demands and the atmosphere of your relationship will be so much better.

Next Post: Disrespectful Judgements: Who wants to live with a critic???

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Selfish Demands

Our next Lovebuster is what William Harley in his "Lovebusters" book calls, "Selfish Demands". This is another key area that needs to change for us to have successful relationships

So what is a Selfish Demand? It is "Commanding your spouse or anyone else to do things that would benefit you at their expense"

Example: Your cleaning up after dinner, kitchen a mess, kids running wild, husband watching TV, you begin feeling neglected and wonder how he could sit there when you need help. Out of utter frustration you walk up to the TV, turn it off, point your finger to your spouse and say, "I'm giving you a choice; you can either watch the kids for me or clean up the kitchen but the TV is Off!"

Now this could be turned around to be a husband that is tired after work comes home, the house is a mess, the kids are going crazy, the wife came home from work an hour earlier or is a stay home mom and the husband says, "I want you to have this house clean and organized when I come home!"

As we read this many of us may say, "Whats wrong with that - they need to get up and help!" These are very reasonable demands and in fact they should have volunteered to do this in the first place.

The problem is not the demand itself the problem is how it is being presented to the other person. This usually happens more in marriages or couple relationships because most other people in our lives wouldn't put up with it.

Think for a moment how you and your spouse ask each other for favors. Do you tell each other what to do, as if one is a sergeant and the other a private? Do you order each other around when something needs to be done? If so, you are in the habit of making demands. It's a bad habit and if left to run wild can destroy your ability to solve problems in your marriage. We don't realize the or see the damage this is doing to your marriage.

None of us wants to be bossed around, even when it means helping someone we love. A request is a different matter - a request is something that is granted and should be appreciated. A request in times of conflict or frustration can feel very unnatural because we feel so certain that we should DEMAND it.

Here is a Key: The happier you are the more you make requests, the more frustrated you are the more you make demands.

Bottom line is this: We should at times be relieved of responsibilities that should not be all ours, but the damaging way to go about this is to solve a problem in a controlling and demanding way that does not take the other persons feelings into account. There has been no discussion with the other person to understand their perspective.

A fair solution to any conflict or problem especially in marriage is one that takes both of you into account. Solving problems in a way that makes both parties happy, otherwise over time it will erode the love the unhappy spouse has for the other, which obviously will then effect the demanding spouse also.

People feel used when we show no consideration for their feelings. Even when someone agrees to help a demanding person they can come away feeling resentful if they have been ordered around. If you want you spouse or anyone else to do something for you, make a request, not a demand. The difference is found in your concern for the others feelings and your willingness to accept "no" for an answer at least temporarily. You are not the boss and others are not your slaves and yet we need help many times from each other. So how do we accomplish getting things done while still considering the feelings of others without being controlling and demanding?

Next post we will look at how to turn Selfish Demands into Thoughtful Requests.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Overcoming Angry Outbursts

As we talked about last post, a common perspective of those who can't control their temper is that they really don't see how big of a problem it is. We also discussed that anger tries to convince you that it is caused by someone else's behavior.

Here is a 6 step plan to overcome angry outbursts:

1. Acknowledge the fact that you, and only you can determine if you will have an angry outburst. No on "makes" you angry. WE are responsible for our anger and We can stop it if we chose to.

2. Identify instances of your angry outbursts and their effects. Keep track of or have someone close to you track instance of angry outburst and also how they are affecting your relationships and your life in general

3. Understand why your angry outbursts take place. The purpose of an angry outburst is to inflict pain and suffering on the target so you have to ask yourself why am I punishing this person?

4. Try to avoid the conditions that make angry outbursts difficult to control. Look for trends or patterns.

5. Train yourself to control your temper when you cannot avid frustrating situations. This takes practice and time. You have to learn to respond to adversity with calmness, as you do this on a regular basis you will find your brain changes the way it handles these situations. If you can, walk away from the situation - if you can't learn how to relax.

6. Measure your progress. Measuring progress is the most critical part of this plan and the person closest to you is the best on to do this.

A Few Questions to Ask:
  • Can you identify angry outbursts in relationships? If so, do you see it for what it is, an abusive and controlling habit?
  • When you or someone in your life has an angry outburst does the other person point it out and if so are there consequences or punishment for giving this feedback or is it appreciated?
  • Do you take full responsibility for your angry outbursts or blame them on someone else.
  • Do you understand the conditions that tend to trigger your angry outbursts?
  • If this is a problem area, make a worksheet entitled "Angry Outbursts" so that whenever one of your feels the other one had one your write it on your worksheet. Begin to monitor how big of a problem this is.
Next post: Selfish Demands

Friday, May 14, 2010

Angry Outbursts!

The first of the "Love Busters" we will talk about is "Angry Outbursts" and how this can undermine a marriage or other relationships in our life. I will be applying this more to a marriage situation but the same principals are true of any relationship that is affected but this buster.

Why do people destroy relationships and couples destroy the love they have for each other with angry outbursts? In most cases, the problem begins with the false assumption that the other person should do this or that for them and when they don't do it they should be forced. Control is ultimately behind every angry outburst.

An angry outburst is usually an effort to teach a lesson - one person feels hurt and angrily tries to show the other how that feels. Most people who are perpetrators of angry outbursts don't see their anger as a serious problem. They see the real problems as being the other person behavior that triggered their anger. "If they would stop doing.......I wouldn't get to angry"
So basically people who have angry outbursts feel the other person made them do it.

Of course, there are no excuses for abusive behavior and that is what an angry outburst is, especially when, and it usually does, demean and hurts another person. We can feel angry, the bible tells us we will feel angry, but it also said not to sin with it. So we can have the feeling but it's what we do with the feeling that determines if we sin or not.

Most people who have a problem with angry outbursts do not think they have a problem. Anger is deceitful; it lets you forget what really happened and distorts the truth. It can almost be a form of temporary insanity. It is usually always blamed on someone else's behavior. Somebody MADE me angry.

As we say over and over again on this blog we can only change ourselves so how do we stop the angry outbursts if we are the ones with the problem and what advice can we give to someone who is asking for help in this area?

Next post we will go over a six step plan to help overcome angry outbursts.

"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, Ephesians 4:26

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Love Busters

We talked a couple posts ago about the Four Horsemen that can destroy a marriage or a relationship of any type. Well there are a few more that can do some pretty big damage to both a marriage or any other type of relationship or friendship you may have and want to keep.

Dr William Harley has a book called, " Love Busters" and in this book he details Six major
Love Busters that will attack every relationship, some are obvious, some are very subtle, but all work to undermine the relationship.

We are going to take each one of these a day at a time and hopefully this will help you to recognize whether any of these Love Busters are affecting you and will help you with a plan to overcome the behavior in your relationships . This will help you see if any Love Busters are draining your marriage or relationships;

The Love Busters Studies are based on the book Love Busters by Willard F. Harley.

1. Angry Outbursts
2. Annoying Habits
3. Dishonesty
4. Dealing with Demands
5. Disrespectful Judgments
6. Thoughtless Behaviour

Tomorrow we will look at Angry Outbursts and move each day to the others, ending with a "Love Buster" Quiz.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Creating a Habit of Happiness

One Habit that can really help improve a marriage or any relationship for that matter is what Les and Leslie Parrott calls the "Habit of Happiness"

This is something you can do on your own and it becomes contagious. The 'Habit of Happiness" is the ability or capacity to adjust to things beyond your control, things that you wouldn't have wanted or planned a certain way.

This simple concept can totally change the tone of a relationship.

Here is an example of what this looks like:

Let's say the wife was expecting her husband to take her to a particular restaurant that she loves but when they got there it was full because he didn't or couldn't make reservations, so they had to go somewhere else.

If the wife is practicing the 'Habit of Happiness" then although she would feel disappointed and maybe even a little angry at her husband she would choose to reverse her thinking and decide to enjoy the evening even though it was not just as she had hoped.

We all deal with many disappointments on a regular basis in life - from little ones to big ones but it is always our choice how we react to them.

"Happy couples and happy people in general decide to be happy... they make happiness a habit... in spite of the troubles life deals them."

The mind is behind all of this. The mind is like a computer processor and it needs to be programmed for success. And we can program it to default to positive thinking or negative thinking; it's our choice.

It is amazing how differently our circumstances can be interpreted--positively at one extreme and negatively at the other. "Happiness," it is said, "does not hinge on better circumstances Negative people tend to focus on reality, whereas positive people tend to focus on the possibilities. Positive, happy people are forward-thinkers.

We must ask ourselves the question: "How do I interpret my circumstances?" Positively or negatively? It's our choice.

Marriages work best when there is a "no fault, no blame" attitude underpinning both partners' approach to each other. "No one can make another person unhappy. We can only make ourselves unhappy. Again, it's our personal choice.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

As we move along this month in our relationship series I am going to give tips and tools for you to use to improve you relationships.

One of the most important things we can do to keep a relationship healthy is to deal with hurts or negative feelings before they become buried. The reason for this is they usually don't become buried very deep and they turn quickly into resentment.

Negative feelings that get buried have a high rate of resurrection.

Which means they will come back up again, but probably in a very unhealthy manner. So how do we deal quickly with these hurts and feelings before they turn into resentment or worse begin to create a structure for the "four horsemen" we talked about in previous posts.

Les and Leslie Parrott in many of their relationship books talk about a tool that is helpful to quickly and safely express our hurts and disappointments to our spouse and for that matter anyone you are in relationships with.

It is called "Sharing Withholds" It only takes about ten to fifteen minutes. It is best to do this within 48 hours of the conflict or the hurt. You begin by thinking of two positives and the thing that happened within the last 48 hours that hurt or irritated you, then you take turns sharing them. One person shares all three statement one after the other - sandwiching the negative statement between two positives. Then the other person shares their three statements. Now the key to this is that the person on the receiving end can only say "thank you" after each statement. No explanation, defense or complaining. This allows a couple to share something that bugs them without fearing a blowup or a defensive reaction. It also give you an opportunity to share some compliment or positives that would never be said otherwise.

Now once you both share your withholds, neither of you can talk about the negative withhold for at least 30 minutes. The reason for this is that in that amount of time we become more rational and thoughtful. After that amount of time we are far less likely to have an emotional reaction.

The point of this is to clear the "emotional land mines" from your marriage by keeping you current and not allowing painful wounds, even minor ones to fester.

Now one side note to this is when you state your negative comment do not use criticism but state it in a way that expressed how this situation made you feel:
In situation X when you do Y I feel Z

Real life Example: (yes this really did happen)

Kathy: John, can we share withholds?
John: Yes

Kathy: Well, first I want to tell you how much I appreciate the fact that everyday you go to work and have difficult and stressful days to help keep us financially secure.
John: Thank you
Kathy: You know, last night when I was getting ready to do a bible study at our home and you opened the dishwasher door and became angry at the way I loaded the dishwasher that really made me feel hurt and sad
John: Thank you
Kathy: I also, want you to know that I have noticed and really appreciate the fact that you are really changing in the area of money and spending - I have seen you are much more generous and really opening up in that area.
John: Thank you

John: I appreciate all the great meals you make just about every night. I know I don't always mention it but it does really make me happy
Kathy: Thank you
John: When I saw the dishwasher so disorganized I just felt it was done without thought and could have been better organized and it make me feel frustrated
Kathy Thank you
John: I appreciate how you keep all our social connections together, I am not very good at that and it is really helpful to have you take care of all that.
Kathy: Thank you.

Now as we finished this dialog a few things were accomplished:
1. We complimented each other in a way we rarely would do under regular circumstances
2. We expressed a hurt without it exploding into a conflict - the immediate feeling is that you want to elaborate more or defend yourself but in about 30 minute it's all defused but you still had that opportunity to express how that situation hurt or disappointed you
3. You are both more aware of an area that can potentially hurt and harm your relationship.

Next time you feel hurt by your spouse instead of getting into a huge fight and allowing negative emotions to overtake you, try this exercise.

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires."
James 1:19-20

Monday, May 3, 2010

Creating a Healthy and Happy Relationship

The Following a steps that can be taken to reverse the "Four Horsemen" and to generally have better relationships. Remember, it is a choice that we have to make as an individual. I didn't say it was easy or fun but if you make the choice to change in the long run you will be happier and healthier for making that decision.

1. Nurture your friendship. Take time to talk and ask questions. What do you know about that person you are in relationship with? Do you know their likes and dislikes, dreams, worries, fears and hopes? Do you know what types of pressures he or she faces at work or at home? The basis of a good marriage is a solid friendship. If a marriage is not built on a strong friendship, it may be difficult to stay connected over time. Make sure you take some time each day to communicate. During these times, make it a priority to listen and learn about your partner’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

2. Actively take steps to create love and admiration for the person you are in relationship with . Gottman says this is the antidote to contempt. Remind yourself of their good qualities. Why were you attracted to your spouse in the first place? What did you originally love or admire about them? By nurturing your fondness for your spouse, you can foster a much more positive attitude toward him or her.

3. Always behave respectfully toward your spouse or anyone that you want to have a healthy relationship with . In relationships that deteriorate over time, respect becomes increasingly absent. Sadly, sometimes people end up treating their spouses worse than they would ever treat a complete stranger. By tolerating or engaging in disrespectful behavior, you actively contribute to the demise of your relationship. Do you ever call your spouse names? Do you ever berate your partner in front of your friends or family? Do you consider how your spouse will be affected by your cruel comments or actions? Take stock of ways you or your spouse may cross the line of respect. Remember that without respect, love cannot survive. This is one of the biggest destroyers of relationship - lack of respect. What you don't respect you will loose.

4. Accept and validate your partner. Recognize how much power you have to build up your spouse up or tear him or her down. You can help make your relationship or your home heaven or hell on earth. Remember, everyone needs to feel accepted for who they are as a human being. Instead of attacking your spouse, try to understand his or her point of view. Also, compliment your spouse for ways he or she supports you and your relationship. It’s easy to get so focused on what is wrong in a relationship that you miss what is actually working.

5. Forgive one another. When your partner genuinely reaches out to ask for forgiveness, do not turn away. Hurt feelings and conflict are inevitable at times. When attempts to repair this hurt are repeatedly rejected, the relationship takes a hit. You may need time to let go of a grudge, bitterness, or feelings of hurt, but don’t close the door completely on your partner’s attempts to make things better. Reach deep inside and work on healing together.

6. Calm down. When conflict escalates, people can become “flooded” by strong emotions, leading to physical distress, stonewalling and defensiveness. Take a few deep breaths or call a time out. Most people need about 30 minutes to actually calm their bodies down. Take the time and come back to the issues at hand when you can actually listen to what the other person is saying without being overwhelmed.

7. Be a Team: Remember that good marriages involve give and take. You are on the same team and need to work together for the sake of your relationship.

8. Warm up your relationship. Keep your relationship healthy by ensuring that there are at least five positive interactions for every negative one. Gottman’s research has identified that a 5:1 ratio of positive interactions to negative ones is linked to the stability of a marriage, no matter what your typical style of resolving conflict. If there is too much negativity, the relationship suffers.

9. Learn to let some things go. Although your spouse may do things that drive you crazy, remember you have a choice, you do not have to react to it. It is not worth it to struggle over every little thing. Solve the problems that are solvable and let the others go. You must learn to pick your battles carefully.

10. Work on yourself. What type of partner are you? Do you work with your partner or pull hard in another direction? Remember you control 50% of what happens in your relationship. Be sure you are a good partner.

You will notice that the majority of these tips take you deciding to do the right thing, to say the right thing, to have the right attitude. You may say, it's not fair that I am the one doing all the changing, but that is when you have to ask yourself - "Do I want a healthy and happy relationship?" If the answer is yes, then fair or not you are the one that has to begin to change. If you do I can tell you that in "most" instances it will bring change to that other person also but most of all you will feel good about you.

Tomorrow we will talk about how to communicate our hurts in a healthy way.