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6 Ways to Restore Communication

Copyright: backyardproduction / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: backyardproduction / 123RF Stock Photo

 

In marriage it’s common for one partner to talk more than the other. No mystery there, you can probably even name that person in all of the couples you know. Great communication happens all the time when one person talks more than the other, after all, someone has to listen.

However, some relationships crumble to the point where only one person does all the talking. They pursue, their partner withdraws. Some couples I see for marriage counseling essentially consist of one loud “talker” and one silent “mime.” Actually, the talkers I have met might prefer to talk to a real mime because at least a mime would use gestures and facial expressions. When their partner doesn’t respond to their communication efforts, the talker is often left feeling alone, angry, and betrayed.

To restore communication:

1. Examine your schedule. If you only have a few moments together in a week, it could be your spouse needs more time to communicate with you effectively. Communication is often inadequate when time is inadequate.

Sharing Facebook posts with your spouse is not healthy communication. Liking their posts is not enough of a compliment to substitute for telling them “I love you” or “I appreciate you” in person.

2. Remember the good times. Constant frustration with your spouse or trying to communicate with an attitude of annoyance or anger will not improve the communication. Remind yourself why you love them. Communication difficulties easily frustrate and when anger or hopelessness dominate your thoughts, your marriage is in trouble. Remember good times to rekindle positive feelings.

3. Get curious. Ask your spouse to clarify why the communication came up short. Assumptions are full of inaccuracies and only cause trouble. Don’t make damaging assumptions like “They don’t love me because they don’t talk to me” or “If they loved me they would improve their communication.”

4. Adjust expectations. If it turns out your spouse is not a Ronald Reagan (the great communicator) adjust your expectations and move forward. It could be your assessment of the situation is inaccurate. If your expectations are too extreme, dial it back. Your spouse may be communicating better than you realize. So they are not a great orator, that’s ok.

5. Stop talking and listen. Some people stop talking but only when they are exhausted and unable to really listen. If your spouse doesn’t say much, lean in close and listen to what they do say. It could be helpful for you to set up a communication center for your marriage. A communication center consists of a scheduled time and place to really communicate free of distractions like kids and phones.

6. Communicate clearly yourself. Sabotaging your communication efforts by giving the silent treatment to teach them a lesson simply doesn’t work. I know you think it should, but no. Next, help them out. Give them a gimme. Clearly suggest what you would like them to say. It could sound like “please tell me how great I look tonight” or “please tell me I like spending time with you” It won’t quite feel right when they respond after telling them what to say, but it’s a start. It’s communicating what you want. It may feel like they will never initiate conversation on their own but eventually they will get the idea.

What do you need to do to restore communication with your spouse?

 

5 things I’ve learned from 5 months of blogging

Number 5 (225x150)


Adventure is scary but invigorating.
At first writing a blog felt like getting a Big Gulp, exciting when I thought about it and overwhelming once I actually started to suck it down. Taking a risk and trying something new, was scary, I expected fear, and I experienced some at first. Now, five months in, the overwhelming feeling has subsided some and the rush of invigorating adventure has increased. I’m still not sure where writing a blog will lead but I’m loving it.

Technology takes work. I enjoy following bloggers who blog about blogging. Jeff Goins, Michael Hyatt, and Jonathan Milligan are all very impressive and uber successful. I’m grateful for their direction and inspiration but they make it seem impossibly easy to start a blog. Some even promote how to start a blog in 20 minutes. Although I suppose it’s technically possible, my reality included many hours of learning the complexities of technology in order to make my blog work. I’m still fairly limited in my understanding of the “behind the scenes” technology of blogging and I’m thankful for my wife Hollie and my site host Zac Vineyard for their expertise and patience.

Copyright: prometeus / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: prometeus / 123RF Stock Photo


Writing is harder than thinking.
I love helping people improve their marriage and I have a lot of ideas on how to help. Getting the ideas to make sense in writing for a blog has been a challenge. Often the ideas sound much better in my head than on the screen, eloquence in my head has a way of turning awkward when written. The process of writing and rewriting, rethinking and rewriting is not nearly as smooth as I envisioned.

Focus is important but distractions are ok. Sometimes, I get distracted when I should be more focused and efficient. I get lost in facebook, silly on twitter, and check my Google Analytics too much. I read blogs by other counselors, professional bloggers, or pastors and get intimidated, discouraged, or just plain distracted. To refocus I think about my goals for writing a blog in the first place. I remind myself that I want to help people make some wonderful in their marriage and practice my writing to pursue my wish to write a book. Then I stop, shrug off the self imposed pressures, look around a bit, notice how I feel in the moment, and embrace the distractions as a part of the adventure. I have learned distractions are dangerous but only the ones that would make me quit are fatal.

Community matters. The privilege of journeying with others never gets old. We are all built for community; the company we keep matters deeply. I have been surprised to find camaraderie with groups of bloggers trying to communicate their passion with others. I am also truly blessed by you, my readers, who have become a community of supporters. I love knowing my words have impacted you in some way. Together we can make some wonderful in this world one improved marriage at a time.

 

What have you learned from my blog in the last 5 months?
I would love to know what you have found most relevant to you.

Honesty is Powerful.

Honest Abe Copyright: anizza / 123RF Stock Photo
Honest Abe
Copyright: anizza / 123RF Stock Photo

 

Honesty is a must for marriage, it allows connection to happen. Without honesty trust cannot develop and without trust your marriage is toast.

When someone says “honestly” before they say something or they say “can I be honest with you?” My natural response is to think, why does that person have to inform me they are being honest now? Were they not honest before?

Honesty is always better than lying because dishonesty destroys. The problem is not all honesty is the same. There is a better way and a worse way to be honest. Honesty can be hurtful when paired with rudeness or retribution; honesty works best when paired with tact and love.

Some couples are honest but terribly rude. When you are honest and rude it erodes the benefits of honesty. For example if you answer the classic question “Does this make me look fat?” honestly but rudely it’s not going to go well for your marriage. Your marriage could start to sound like Judge Judy, honest perhaps, but condescending and rude is no way to build connection.

Honesty can be hurtful when paired with rudeness or retribution; honesty works best when paired with tact and love.

Solution: Replace rudeness with tact.
Always tell the truth with tact to retain a healthy connection in marriage. Tact is an advanced skill, it takes practice, a lot of practice for some, but it’s worth it. The relationship you build with your spouse matters. If you don’t like something your spouse says telling them in a manner that is honest and tactful is better than being honest and rude. Honesty is crucial but if you have no tact you will get nowhere. Honestly, what hurts worse than an “honest” put down?

Relationship tip: don’t say “honestly” before you say something hurtful to your spouse.

Some couples lie to each other. No surprise, they usually have marital problems. Even worse are couples who are honestly hurtful. They use honesty as extra fire power meant to injure. They choose to pair honesty with retribution and turn honesty into an excuse for poor behavior. For example saying “honestly you are a terrible husband” or “honestly you gross me out” may be honestly how you feel, but it does little for your relationship.

Solution: Replace retribution with love.
Being honest with your spouse is best expressed with love. Honesty and love go hand-in-hand in marriage. Honesty creates trust and in turn motivates continued honesty. When she asks “Does this dress make me look fat?” (Tip: first of all change the question in your mind to “How do I look in this dress?”) pair your honest answer with love and your relationship will win.

It’s been said honesty is the best policy but rude and hurtful honesty is a bad policy. Honesty with tact and love is the best policy for your marriage.

What do you think ? 

Invest Like a Shark

Copyright: natursports / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: natursports / 123RF Stock Photo

I enjoy watching the TV show Shark Tank. It’s a business based “reality show” on ABC that gives an opportunity for people to pitch their business ideas to a panel of business tycoons who are referred to as sharks.

First the show highlights the amazing accomplishments of the sharks who have made millions and even billions of dollars. Then come the regular people with an idea who are willing to risk their hopes and dreams to the sharks.

The name Shark Tank would suggest brutality comes next like Jaws devouring the poor little entrepreneurs. Rather, I find the show encouraging. Sure, the sharks pick apart the business ideas of the contestants but they generally don’t destroy them. The sharks leave humiliation to Simon Cowell. Even the entrepreneurs who do not leave with a partnership agreement with a shark, get potentially life altering business advice.

The allure of the show for me is watching ultra successful people willing to invest in everyday people. The sharks are often willing to journey along with them, show them they have what it takes, and help them get to the next level of success. The biggest thrill, at least for me, is seeing people find the direction and hope they so desperately need.

Shark Tank is certainly an entertaining way to find a business investor but finding a marriage investor is a bit different. Monetary investment is good for business deals but the investment of time, wisdom, expert direction, and encouragement is the kind of investing that’s especially helpful in marriage. If you are interested in moving to the next level of success in your marriage, get an investor who has demonstrated success.

Invest Like a Shark, 3 ways to move your marriage to the next level.

1. Connect to a community. The people you hang out with matter. Since the goal is for your marriage to thrive, you’ve got to find a community that has thriving marriages. Negative and critical people can erode away happiness in your marriage. Going alone isn’t much better, it’s hard to grow alone. Hollie and I have found our community at our local church. Valuable communities are everywhere, sports leagues, book clubs, work colleagues, or other community groups. Get connected today.

2. Develop relationships with investors. Find people in your community who have a relationship you admire, couples who are ultra successful. Get close to them and build relationships with them so they can invest in your marriage. You may be able to spot the successful couples in your community but unless you get a TV show, building relationships is the only way they will end up investing in you. Like the entrepreneurs in Shark Tank, learn from your marriage investors. Learn what mistakes they made so you can make fewer mistakes in your marriage. Learn what has worked for their relationship so you can build upon their successes.

3. Develop relationships to invest in yourself. It’s not enough to always be the beginner. Investing in others is where the action is. The saying goes something like “you learn the most when you have to teach it.” The world is full of young people trying to succeed at marriage who are struggling. Use your experience and invest in them, it will make all the difference. The more you invest in others, the more your own marriage relationship will grow.

Shark Tank is a familiar story that resonates with us all because it’s our story. We have all had times when we have been in desperate need of direction. The magic of the Shark Tank show is the hope that someone will invest in us too. We all long to be affirmed, encouraged, and developed.

What is your marriage investment story? I would love to hear it.

You Are Closer Than You Think

Image credit: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo
Image credit: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

 

You are closer than you think.

When you look for problems in marriage you will surely find them. Likewise, when you look for strengths you will find them. I often tell couples in marriage counseling that they are closer than they think to better connection. Conflict makes you feel alone even when you are together. When you are saturated in conflict it’s easy to think you’re doomed.

Fear says it’s too late when it’s not even close. Doubt suggests problems where there are none.

You have felt wonderful in your marriage before. You may not know where it went or where you went wrong, but you are closer than you think to the connection you want. It doesn’t take much to turn things around. Like my father-in-law says, “it doesn’t take long for good things to happen.”

Changing your perspective will help you communicate differently, show love differently, and feel differently about your marriage.

When you can see how close you really are, going the distance doesn’t seem so impossible.

A few years ago I ran a half marathon. When I was toward the middle of the 13.1 miles it felt like I was light years from the finish. My legs felt heavy and it was hard to keep going. When I could finally see the finish line I had more energy somehow and I even picked up the pace a bit. Knowing where you are makes all the difference in your perspective. You are closer than you think; the goal of restored connection is in sight if you simply look for it.

What are you looking for in your marriage?