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Copyright 2006 by PartnersInLife.org
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My wife and I are in conflict about her working outside the home. She doesn't want to, but I want her to.
This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to Linda@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.
My wife and I are in conflict about her working outside the home. She doesn't want to, but I want her to. When we've tried to resolve the problem, it winds up with my wife making promises she doesn't keep. What can we do?
I don't want to give up on my need for her to work, but I am amenable to a compromise. I have suggested that she volunteer for 5 to 10 hours a week at a church or hospital. She is a nurse, but hates nursing. The children are grown and still at home. She cooks and does laundry for our grown kids and doesn't want them to pay any board. She wants them to stay at home until they are married.She needs to continue working to collect social security. We are both 54 years old. We could use the extra money because my pension was just frozen. We've been through more than a year of therapy and the therapist never seems to want to address this issue. When I bring it up, he says "Oh, that's easy." Then he attacks my work values and moves on to something else. What can we do?
Most people think that being in a power struggle, like the one you and your wife are experiencing, is a bad thing. Actually, it's a natural progression in a relationship. The trick is not to become stuck there.
While it isn't the most pleasant stage to be in, to move on to the next stage where you really begin to enjoy each other's company again you'll need to learn how to speak and listen to each other without being defensive. Each of you will need to be open to the growth that's trying to happen in the midst of the struggle.
Research has shown that when arguments go on and on, a dream for one or both is not being realized. I can hear a dream for you of a comfortable retirement with responsible children happily living on their own. And, there may be more to it. What I haven't yet heard, and I suspect you have not been able to hear, is your wife's dream. If you could listen to her dream, with openness and curiosity you might be able to find an option that works for both of you.
For this to happen it will require both of you face some of your fears. Making the changes needed to actualize our dreams often requires stretching in new ways and can be scary. To let go of your defensive emotional protections and really be present to each other in a new way is not easy, yet the rewards are phenomenal.
I recommend that you find yourself a good relationship coach who can be there with and for each of you should you choose to embark on this exciting adventure.
Linda Marshall, RCI Director of Couples Programs |www.radiantrelating.com | 937.684.2245
When it comes to dealing with resistance, either that of our own or our partner, I suggest shifting from criticism to curiosity. When we become interested in the reason for resistance and explore it more deeply, it's amazing what opens up.
Some questions for your consideration:
You might also consider visiting a financial planner to work on developing a shared financial vision for the future that will inspire both of you.
An empathic listening process, facilitated by a trained relationship coach or counselor, either by phone or in person, is a learned skill that can help create safety, validation (though not necessarily agreement), and a feeling of being deeply understood. Issues like these are often triggered by something from the past. Safety, validation of your concerns, and a feeling of being understood, are the motivators that facilitate win-win problem solving. Also, consider working with a professional who validates and addresses your concerns, rather than attacks them.
Annette Carpien | www.greatrelationshipstraining.com
By Ken Donaldson, M.A., L.M.H.C.
No, I am not trying to confuse you. Yes, I am trying to get your attention and have you ponder your communication style. Are you a listener or a talker? How do you listen and how do you talk? With that being said, how's it all working for you?
Communication is one of the primary cornerstones of relationship bliss and life success. If you're an effective communicator, you'll not only know how to get your point across, but you'll also know how to be an effective listener.
Which is more important, talking or listening?
Most people say listening is most important, partly because they know that's the "right" answer. But, do you really know which is more important?
Neither is more important because they are both equally important. An unexpressed, effective listener will never get his or her needs met or goals accomplished. Likewise, a clearly expressed non-listener will undoubtedly damage intimate relationships and business contacts.
You must be both an effective listener AND an expressed speaker to really have relationship satisfaction and life success.
At one of my workshops, a client said,
This individual went on to say this was his foundation for being an effective communicator. Do you follow this practice?
Do you communicate exactly what you mean, or do you beat around the bush assuming your partner will "get the message"?
Are you consistent in how you express yourself? Do you follow through? Do you walk your talk? Do you back down or change your mind if you think you might run into some opposition or when you encounter the dreaded rejection from your partner?
Do you deliver your message watching your partner to sense their reactivity level, caring about their feelings and yet saying exactly what needs to be said?
In other words, do you know how to be assertive? Do you know how to express yourself completely without stepping on your partner's toes?
When it comes to listening, do you know how to create rapport, validate feelings and opinions, and offer empathetic responses, all without feeling like you are agreeing with or enabling your partner?
Do you know how to be a powerful listener? Do you know how to direct the conversation through your listening abilities? Or, do you think being a good listener is all about just being quiet?
To be a truly effective communicator, you must talk with your ears and listen with your mouth. To be a world-class communicator, you must focus more on the other person than on yourself
You have two eyes and two ears and only one mouth. That means there is a 4:1 ratio of active listening to speaking. Do you live in a 4:1 ratio world?
These are the basics of communication. Don't leave home without them!
by Sandra Rohr
when we evaluate our own contribution to our relationship, we focus on the
big things. We think we must be a good husband,
wife, or partner because we don't cheat, gamble, run around, lie, resort to
physical violence (choose one or more!), and so we congratulate ourselves.
You probably know a couple like this- they're always the life of the party, always the center of laughter. They're such fun. We've all heard stories like "And, then do you know what Mary did? She has this bad habit of..." What Mary has done gets a laugh, especially when Bill's delivery is wonderfully humorous, as she giggles and rolls her eyes.
Sometimes, Mary has a brilliant, funny comeback with which she gets in her jab at Bill, and the comedy is on. If you asked them about this playful banter, wanting to be good sports, they would respond with-
However, over time, the repeated litany of our shortcomings gets old, and on the day when our self-esteem is in need of a boost, rather than a put-down, we feel hurt. We may or may not say anything. We may quickly bury the hurt so that we're barely aware of having experienced it. After all, what's one tiny nip from one tiny fox?
Eventually, however, we're bleeding inside from multiple tiny bites. The hurt is deep and it came from one who is supposed to be our champion and support. This "harmless" teasing is a fox that has sharp teeth indeed. The Catch-22 is that if we speak up to complain, we're perceived as being a poor sport.
One definition of "fox" when used as a verb is to baffle or to confuse. That definition is appropriate here. At the start our relationship makes us feel so good, but over time the magic goes away. In a healthy, normal relationship, the excited intensity with which we started out mellows to something warm and caring.
When the relationship has cooled from its white-hot beginnings but doesn't feel warm and caring anymore we become baffled or confused as to just what went wrong. We're both still good people; we're still committed to the relationship, but somehow, there's a shadow over us, a wall between us, and we can't figure it out.
A good place to start is to ask ourselves if our partner has fallen into this pattern of "teasing" with nips of pointed little fox teeth. It's often easy to see this fault in our partner, particularly when we are smarting from a hurt. The next step is to ask ourselves if we might have fallen into that same pattern, contributing to our partner's pain.
A wise man once said that his definition of love is to find someone to adore, and then to actively adore that person often, out loud, verbally, physically, in every way possible. Imagine the healing and the validation that would come from hearing how wonderful we are, how beautiful/handsome, how strong, how delicious, how sweet, or how supporting we are. Now imagine the healing and validation your partner would feel from the same treatment.
Ask yourself just what harvest you want from the vineyard of your relationship. Do you want tiny, spoiled, sour grapes, or juicy, delicious, sweet fruit that delights and nourishes both you and your partner?
up to you. You can make the choice to adore your
partner and keep those little foxes out of your vineyard.
PartnersinLife.org, is a resource for couples offered by Relationship Coaching Institute, a worldwide relationship coaching organization dedicated to helping singles 'find the love of your life AND the life that you love'; to helping new couples 'make a wise choice in a life partner'; and to helping any couple 'fine tune and keep their relationship healthy and fulfilling.'
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Linda Marshall, M.Div. | Director of Couples Programs Linda@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com
Tara Kachaturoff | Editor, PartnersInLife.org Couples News Tara@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com
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