Friday, November 18, 2016

Getting Up Off the Mat After Suffering a Blow

Your partner can deliver a blow that knocks you to the floor in pain. Sometimes the pain can seem unbearable and your only desire is to escape the pain. But should you escape or can the pain be overcome? That is the question that confronts many in committed relationships.

Is the pain more than you can bear?
Initially, the pain seems to be more than you can bear. How can your partner have hurt you so deeply? While it is natural to back away when hurt, it is important to allow time for the pain to lessen before you react. Pain causes our animal brain to react with aggressive anger, but anger can also lead to poor decisions. Chances are that the pain will lessen with time, particularly if your partner reacts well.

Is your partner willing to help you get off the mat?
Does your partner accept responsibility for causing pain. Does he or she minimize your pain? Is he or she showing compassion for your feelings? Your partner's reaction to your pain can make a big difference as to how you are able to absorb the pain and refocus on your relationship.

Has the pain changed your desire to be close?
A painful episode can change your perspective on your relationship, or relationships in general. Pain can seem like too high a price to pay for a relationship. Perhaps you reexamine your relationship and see a pattern of pain that leads you to feel hopeless that the relationship will improve.

Do you lack the courage to get off the mat?
Knowing that the relationship can be painful leads you to fear further pain. Facing this possibility requires courage. Courage means accepting the risk of repeated pain but also believing that you can survive regardless of the outcome.

Are you willing to accept personal responsibility for staying or leaving the relationship?
In the end, your partner cannot guarantee what your relationship will look like in the future. There is risk. Are you willing to accept that you must make a decision from within, not based on what your partner or others want. You are 100% responsible for the decision.

If you get off the mat, are you willing to keep fighting for an improved relationship?
It is not enough to stay in the relationship. You must be willing to give effort to address any and all issues that are a barrier to being close. Take time to decide what you want and what price you are willing to pay for the relationship.  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Beware of Visiting an Attorney for Divorce Information

It is not at all unusual for ambivalent spouse to seek information from an attorney before actually deciding on getting a divorce. Perhaps the ambivalent partner needs information that will help him or her decide on the impact a divorce will have on have on themselves, the family or the future.

It is important to understand the risk and the benefits of seeking legal information prior to making a decision to divorce. An attorney can simply see their role as being that of an educator or an opportunity to market his or her services. if the attorney is an educator then he or she will help you to understand the legal process involved in getting a divorce and will clarify your vulnerabilities from a legal standpoint.

If the attorney is in marketing mode, then he or she may encourage you to see the divorce as a desirable step in which you will naturally want his or her services. The problem with the attorney acting as a marketing agent is that this approach can interfere with good decision making.

To make a good decision, you must be able to give yourself enough time to drain strong emotions from the process. Beware of an attorney that seems to fuel your anger when you are simply asking for legal Information.

Be cautious if the attorney goes into some depth about the quality of your relationship then suggests that your relationship is doomed.  An attorney is not equipped to predict the future of your relationship. This can discourage an effort to try to work on the relationship.

You must also examine your motives for seeing an attorney. Are you using this visit for information or to test your spouse (or yourself)? Is the visit an expression of your anger? Perhaps you want to make a statement to your partner that you are serious, or you want to make a statement that you will not be pushed around in negotiating your relationship.

Ask yourself these three questions before you see an attorney for information about divorce practices:

1. Am I seeking legal advice or the attorney's opinion regarding whether I should divorce?

2. Am I using this visit to make a statement to my partner?

3. Can I listen for information without being swayed by an attorney's sales pitch?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

How to Know When to Give in and When to Stand Your Ground With Your Significant Other

Welcome to guest blogger Waverly Hanson, author of  How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

Differences are inevitable no matter how much you love your significant other. Eventually there will be something that creates tension because you disagree. When that happens, it's important that you know how to handle it. The difference between a strong couple and one destined to break up is not that the strong couples do not fight, it's that they know how to deal with differences constructively and know when to pick their battles.

Some things are worth fighting for, but some things are not. So, how can you tell when to compromise and when to be firm in your views, feelings and desires? 

Friends and Family

Everyone needs friends and family for support. If your partner wants to isolate you from them, then that's harmful, perhaps even abusive. Yet, it's important that you and your partner present a united front to friends and family. Remember that your marriage is your primary relationship and do not allow friends and family to interfere.

Your Dreams

If you've always dreamed of going to medical school, starting your own business, or learning a musical instrument and your partner tries to stop you; hold strong to these important goals. There may be room for compromise, such as waiting to start school, attending part time or working part time, but completely giving up is not a fair solution.  

If you're the one who has a partner who is doing something that you dislike, think about why it's a big deal. What does this dream mean to the other person in the relationship? Your partner is someone you love, and their dreams are a part of what makes them tick. Unless what they want to do is illegal or objectively dangerous, why not give them your support?

The Way They Treat You

You need to value yourself, and your partner needs to treat you well. Likewise, you need to treat him or her well. If you are constantly belittled, criticized, controlled, or humiliated, then you are not being treated with the respect you deserve. Someone who loves you will make you feel good about yourself and build you up, not run you down. It's as simple as that.

Your Beliefs

Your beliefs - whether religious, ethical or political - are a part of who you are. Your spouse does not have to agree with you. In fact, some of the best and healthiest relationships are between people who disagree on key points but can do so in a calm and intelligent manner. Healthy, reasoned debates are stimulating for the mind. If debates turn into personal attacks and emotional and/or physical abuse, you must take steps to distance from this person.

Small Stuff versus Big Issues

Before you confront your spouse about something that is annoying you, think about whether it's really a big issue. Should you simply be more patient? Things like how they fold laundry, which way they hang the toilet paper or whether or not they want to attend the ballet simply do not matter in the grand scheme of things. However, if issues are omnipresent, it might be a sign of a bigger underlying issue. It may be indicative of a lack of respect, a lack of trust, or another issue that should be addressed before it tears you apart.
Communicate clearly and calmly, and pick your battles for a happy, healthy relationship.

About the Author
Waverly Hanson is the best-selling author of “How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage” available on Amazon in print and Kindle formats. She has been assisting individuals and couples with relationship and life transformations for more than 25 years as a therapist, counselor, coach and consultant.  Visit her website”>
to learn more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Crooked Path of Marriage

When you fell in love, it felt as though you had a connection that would last a lifetime. You had found your soulmate. You understood and accepted each other. Your connection was unbreakable. You were in love!

Ever-closer Connection

You imagined your connection with your spouse growing closer over the years as you shared challenges, had a family and aged together. The important thing is that you found that special someone you could connect with, that someone with whom you could connect emotionally, physically and sexually. You could only see growing ever closer as you shared the years with your mate.

Reality Hits

The fact is that every couple will find disappointments, hurt and rejection, probably within the first year of marriage. One important reason is that your motivation changes. During dating you are motivated to pursue your partner's heart, but in marriage you balance this with your desire to preserve your own desires. This leads to a balancing of your desires with preserving your connection.

Also, you become less open to feedback when you are no longer pursuing your partner's heart. Men hear women's feedback as criticism of them rather than an effort to improve the relationship. Women often build resentments without directly confronting smaller issues until they build into a major issue, which is then confronted in an aggressive manner.

Relationship Repair Versus A Lifetime Connection

Take a look at the drawings above. In one, the path leads predictably and smoothly to an ever-closer connection. Note that is the other drawing the path leads to a closer connection but the path veers from closer to distant, then back to closer. This is the path of connection in marriage.

In this drawing, there is a re-connection after something leads to distancing in the relationship. The distance is followed by relationship repair. Closeness is not predicted by the beginning connection, but by the couple's ability to regain closeness after they have come apart. This is the main task of building a more intimate marriage.

How Do You Interpret Distance In Your Relationship

Distance creates tension which leads to fears and anxiety. It is easy to fall into the trap of labeling your partner as the problem rather than the relationship having the problem. Accept that your relationship is not a failure if you become distant. It is only a failure if you do not repair the relationship. 

It is important to interpret distance in your relationship as a call to addressing the issues that are creating the distance. Not only do you need to assess what is causing the distance, but you must make a mutual effort to repair the relationship bond. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Why Couples Counseling Is A Bad Business Model

If you were going to open a gym and you only had exercise equipment for couples to use together, I predict that your business would fail and fail quickly. Why is this? The problem would be that it would only take one of the partners to keep them from coming to the gym. After the initial romantic notion of working together to reach your fitness goals wore off, one of you would begin to balk at going to the gym. Eventually, motivation would be lost and you would be back to being couch potatoes.

A marriage counseling practice is built under this same premise. Couples typically make a decision to enter couples counseling without much consideration for the commitment required. Instead they are simply taking a small step to have a better relationship (or put out a fire). When asked what they hope to achieve by coming for therapy, most couples are vague because they have not discussed this.

If you go to the gym without clear goals, you will soon find that the effort it takes to work out regularly has evaporated. Couples must work together to improve their relationship and it only takes one partner to undermine that effort. That's why it's so important to begin couple's therapy with a mutual commitment.

Anticipate that couples counseling will require effort expended over months, not days or weeks. Count on the work triggering anger, pain and tension before it leads to cooperation and an improved relationship. 

If you anticipate the potential stumbling blocks to remaining committed to the process, you will be much more prepared to summon the motivation to stay on track toward a better connection that will benefit you for years to come.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Why Is This Relationship So Much Work

You recall a time when the relationship seemed so easy. You blended together. Conversations went on and on effortlessly. Your views, feelings and desires almost seemed in sync. Your bodies seemed to be magnets drawn together by a force operating within. Everything seemed so effortless.

Now that relationship seems a distant past, leaving behind a daily effort to create some connection in a swirl of tasks, activities and a myriad of electronic distractions. Why is it so hard to connect when you both feel love but not close.

The answer to this is that your relationship was a priority for each of you when you were pursuing each other's heart, but now you have competing priorities that have pushed the relationship aside. Once you have your partner's heart, you look to other things you want. You want many things!

You want to rest after work, you want time for your hobbies and interests, you want to connect with friends at the bar or on Facebook. Their are many things you want that you don't have. And you've got your partner, safe and secure...right?

You incorrectly assume that connection achieved is connection maintained. Emotional, physical and sexual connection is fragile, even in a long-term, committed relationship. If you and your partner don't nourish the relationship it will first lose vitality, then become a shell held together only through your commitment to remaining together.

Ask yourself if you have continued to make your relationship a priority. Do you carve out time and energy for the relationship or does the relationship only get what's left over. If so, plan to change this. Commit to connecting with your partner through talking, touching, playing and having sex. Oh yeah, those things you did when you fell in love.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Nudge Don't Nag

Governments have found that they can influence your health decisions by giving you subtle suggestions rather than threatening you with dire consequences for your bad behavior. However, each nudge that you are given will only provide a small amount of influence.

For the government this is huge because they are dealing with millions of people and small changes add up to big differences. Not so in your relationship. A small nudge to encourage change may have limited benefits but is still more effective than pushing for change. Why is this?

We dig our heals in when pushed. Admit it. You don’t like to be told what to do. You particularly don’t want your partner telling you what to do.

Pushing for the change you want triggers a counter-argument to not change. When you argue for change, then your partner will inevitably come up with an argument to counter yours. No one has won an argument, they just generate two sides to an issue.

Pushing for change appears self-serving, even selfish. After all, you are telling your partner what you want.  Even though you see the obvious benefits of change, he or she is unlikely to see this as a caring response on your part.

So what would a nudge look like in your relationship?

A nudge is indirect but makes an impression. You can influence your partner through your example, your reaction to his or her behavior and by rewarding change.

Your example can be a source of motivation. Your partner is more likely to quit smoking or lose weight if you also are abstaining from smoking or overeating. Think about self-improvement before thinking how your partner can change.

Your partner can be encouraged to change how he or she reacts if you take responsibility for your reactions in the relationship. This means that you are patient and kind, you are positive and refrain from becoming aggressive or angry in your reaction to your partner's behavior.

Change can be encouraged if your partner can see a clear reward for the change. Letting your partner know how you would enjoy the change is an example of nudging change.

A nudge is by definition weak. Unfortunately, we all want to find that tool that will fix our relationship problems. You imagine the aggressive approach will have the most impact, especially after your “softer” approach was ignored.

The problem is that a nudge is actually more powerful that a push; it is just limited in its power because change is difficult to bring about in another person. All of us resist change, but this is particularly true when change is requested by your partner. So, you must accept the limits of your power in the relationship and stick with your most powerful approach…a nudge, not a nag.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

When You Cause Extreme Pain To Your Partner

You can easily recover from some painful episodes. Others cut so deeply that recovery is at best a long, slow process. When you have caused your partner pain that is deep and lasting, it is important to respond to the pain.

It’s difficult to face pain you have inflicted on someone you love and care for. The temptation is to avoid, distract or minimize your partner’s pain so that you don’t have to see the agony caused by your behavior. But face it you must.

The key is to avoid trying to take your partner’s pain away and instead to sit beside the pain. You must share the pain by being humble and compassionate.

Being humble. You must acknowledge your role in causing pain. A humble person knows their place in the relationship. In causing pain, you must accept your role and avoid defending yourself. Now is the time to defend the relationship, not yourself.

You must be patient! Your role is to be supportive as long as it takes – you do not get to say how long that is.

It is natural to try to put your behavior in some context that explains why you are not such a bad person even though you have hurt your partner. It is natural to want your partner to acknowledge his or her role in the painful episode, but now is the time to be humble and accept your role in your partner’s pain.

Being compassionate. It is not enough to acknowledge that you have caused pain, you must also show you understand the extent of the pain you have caused.

A compassionate person is a listener. A compassionate person empathizes. A compassionate person recognizes he or she cannot remove the pain but can be a source of support. A compassionate person does not judge the person in pain.

Pain can be expressed in many forms and pain diminishes at different rates. Initially, pain is expressed as anger because anger feels stronger, but as you listen for the pain you will see your partner become more vulnerable and willing to accept your compassionate soothing.

Pain can leave a lasting footprint in the brain but the intensity and frequency of the pain will diminish over time. But time alone will not heal the relationship unless you are willing to be humble and compassionate.