Have You Lost That Loving Feeling in Your Marriage?

In every marriage there are moments when the feeling of love and romance seems lost to the busyness of everyday. The intense and exciting love you once strongly felt is now replaced with feelings of comfort and security. While this is important, you still desire the intense excitement of your earlier years.

The mistake some make is looking for that loving feeling in someone else rather than in their spouse. They might contact old flings trying desperately to find that intensity and excitement again. Or they believe that their marriage is beyond that point and instead settle for the mundane. But neither option needs to be the case. Instead, try these options.

Remember.  Grab an old photo album, turn on your song, eat at your favorite restaurant, or relive your first date. Do anything that reminds you of when you first met. Then remember what you first loved about your spouse and speak it to each another. This is not the time to rehash old arguments or frustrations; rather it is a time to reflect on the good times and what did work well between the two of you.

Repent.  Anytime you visit the past, there will be moments when you realize that you hurt one another. Take a few moments to acknowledge the past hurts, ask for forgiveness, and let it go. Holding onto past hurts is like erecting a wall around your heart to protect yourself from any more harm. When you ask for forgiveness and intentionally work at not repeating the same mistake, you allow your spouse to remove the wall around their heart and the love will flow more freely.

Rediscover.  You have grown in your marriage and so has your spouse. You are not the same person that first got married. Spend some time getting to know the person your spouse has become instead of the person you have decided they have become. Give grace to each other and you will discover a love that is far deeper than the intense and exciting love that you once felt.

It is never too late to turn your marriage around. By remembering, repenting and rediscovering your spouse you can turn your hearts towards one another and your bond will become stronger than when you first began.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Under the Influence of Marriage Series: Driving Under the Influence of Marriage

On the way to an out of town wedding, he is driving because she took too long to get ready and now they are running late.

Her.  [Great, he’s lost again for the hundredth time.  He won’t stop and ask for directions and now I’m going to miss the processional after all that hard work on the flowers.  See he doesn’t really care about what I do.  Oh no, what is he wearing?  He doesn’t really think that tie matches, does he?] Honey, I don’t recognize this way.”

Him[Gosh why can’t she just shut up, I’m tired of being talked to like a two year old.] “I’m going the way the GPS told me to go.”

Her. [Stupid GPS, doesn’t he know by now that it can’t be trusted?  Why can’t he just use some common sense for a change and follow the directions my Aunt gave us.  She went out of her way on a very busy day to send us special directions and now I’ll have to tell her that she wasted her time.] “I don’t think this is the way my Aunt recommended.”

Him. [Your Aunt, whatever, I got this.] “Look I’m going the best possible way.”

Her. [He always does this when it’s an event for my side of the family.  But if it was his side of the family, everything would be different.  Well, at least I won’t have to put up with his father making obnoxious jokes and his mother in her clown painted face make-up at this wedding.  Now I’m going to have to listen to my father say yet again just how many minutes we were late.] “Well then don’t blame me if we get lost.”

Him. [OMG, this woman is going to drive me insane!] “I’m not lost; I waited patiently for 15 minutes while you got ready.”

Her. [Patience, he calls stomping, ranting, and honking the horn patience!  I’ll give him patience. Try waiting for that stupid closet door to get fixed over the last year or how about cleaning out the garage.  He hasn’t done that in about five years and I haven’t mentioned it in six months.  Now that’s patience, waiting for 15 minutes so that I can look good for him is nothing and it’s obvious that he doesn’t even appreciate all my hard work.] “Look there’s a gas station.  Do you want me to ask for directions?”

Him. [You have got to be kidding me.  I know where I am going!] “Just a little bit further.”

Where is this going? Often in a marriage there are two perspectives in a situation and coming to an understanding of the other person’s point of view can be a challenging process especially when what is thought is often not what is said.  It’s kind of like shooting at a moving target, just when you think have your aim, the target moves.  Let’s explore how each spouse could have better handled the situation before, during and after.

Before.  Instead of fuming during her 15 minute delay, he could have taken the time to preprogram the GPS and compare the directions with her Aunt’s.  Then he could have called Aunt Betsy to answer the discrepancies prior to leaving.  She could have planned on being ready 15 minutes earlier instead of later by setting the time of departure 30 minutes in advance.  A wedding should be a fun event so with a little planning ahead of time, departing won’t be so stressful.

During.  Instead of projecting blame on each other, they could have taken responsibility for their own part in the delay.  He could have examined other options such as calling the Aunt while driving instead of insisting on driving on and being prideful.  She should not call her Aunt however, because such a move can leave him feeling invalidated.  Rather, she needs to find her happy place and keep her mouth shut.

After.  Arriving at a wedding after a heated argument is not the best way to greet a newly married couple.  Once harsh words are thought and spoken, the face will betray the mind and tensions will continue to rise.  Instead, before you step out of the car, take a moment to visualize the argument being left at the scene of the crime which is in the car.  Do not take it inside!  Consider the wedding to be a timeout of sorts or a healthy distraction, you can return to the argument when you return to the car.  You just might find that by the end of the wedding, most will be forgotten and the rest should be forgiven.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

When Your Spouse Wants to Separate and You Don’t

One of the hardest words to hear from your spouse is the request that you separate for a while or possible even divorce.  Sometimes these words are expected but they are never fully realized while other times these words catch you by surprise.  It is hard to hear and even harder to understand the reason why the separation is necessary as the most obvious reason is frequently not the real reason.  Trying to understand everything before you move on can be a fruitless process as you may not be dealing with the complete truth.  Yet, if you will open yourself up and work past the pain, this can be a time for growth and healing.

Get thinking.   Your time is best not spent making a list of your spouse’s faults and failures, more than likely if they wanted to know your thoughts, they would have asked.  Quite possibly they may already know what you think and are not interested in being reminded of their failures.  Instead of focusing your energy on them, you are far better off focusing your energy on yourself and what you can change.  You cannot change your spouse, otherwise they would be a different person by now and you would not be in this position, but you can change yourself.

Get real.  Do an inventory of yourself making a list of your strengths and weaknesses.  Do not let your spouse or others to make the list, instead compile the list yourself.  Once you have made the list then take a couple of days off and reevaluate the list adding and subtracting as needed.  Having a better perspective of yourself allows you to see things differently and perhaps brings to light some of your failures in the marriage.

Get personal.  Identify the areas that you have failed in your marriage and take responsibility for your faults.  This is a time to ask for forgiveness for mistakes not only from those you have harmed but from God and yourself as well.  This is an extremely difficult process and should be done with great care without expecting any results.  This is not a time to compare faults and decide whose faults are worse; rather it is a time to deal with your issues.

Get moving.  Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself will not help the situation.  Your life has changed and it may be a temporary change or a permanent one but nonetheless it has changed.  You need to adjust to your new situation, new environment, and new reality as soon as possible.  One of the best ways is to try a new exercise routine, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or help a friend with their problem.  By doing something for someone else, you can gain a better perspective on your own life.

While this list may not keep you from feeling depressed or sad due to the separation, it can help you to change your focus off your spouse and onto yourself in a more positive way.  However, prolonged depression should be addressed with a medical professional or counselor.  You can change and you can grow even through some of the most difficult times in your life.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What Not to Say to Your Unemployed Spouse

Having your spouse out of work for any extended period of time can be stressful especially in an economy where the unemployment rate is the highest it has been in over 20 years.  Many unemployed workers are looking for any job whether it is in their profession or not just to cover the bills.  In addition, there is also an increase in the number of employees dissatisfied in their work place but afraid to change jobs for fear of an extended unemployment.  Talk about stress.

Added to that stress is the normal stress of a marriage relationship.  As if there wasn’t enough to be stressed about in a marriage with mortgages, finances, kids, in-laws, bills, minimal cash flow, lack of communication and decreased sex drive; now add to that the stress of unemployment.  These are the kind of stressors that can make or break your marriage relationship, but this is precisely the time that the vow “For better or for worse” was intended.

It is hard to know what to say to friends during difficult times because it can literally make or break a friendship.  But if you say the wrong thing to your spouse during this time, it can paralyze them for days of inactivity precisely when activity is needed.  Even when you try to be encouraging, it can sometimes come across as patronizing.  But by looking at what not to say, you can minimize the damage.  Here is a bit of humor at what not to say to your spouse during these times.

  1. The grunge look ended in the 90’s.
  2. How many Star Gate episodes are you up to now?
  3. Did you do anything today?
  4. Didn’t you wear that yesterday?
  5. My headaches will go away when you have a job.
  6. Here is your “To Do” list to do.
  7. Did you get a job yet?
  8. I knew this would happen.
  9. I see why you were let go.
  10. You can always go work for my dad.

A better approach is to put yourself in their shoes and be more loving in your comments.   After all, unemployment has a way of making even the most secure person insecure for a period of time.  While your spouse may seem unmotivated, unfocused, and unproductive for a period of time, this is a normal reaction to unemployment.  Instead of the above comments, try words of encouragement, a kind gesture and an act of service which are far more productive in the end than nagging or complaining.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What Type of Narcissistic Husband Do You Have? Part 1

You have finally realized that you are married to a narcissist.  Everyone else around you already knew this and even warned you about him but for some reason you thought it would be different.  Maybe you believed that he would change for you and maybe he did before you got married but as soon as you walked down the aisle everything changed.  Suddenly this incredible dreamy person who swept you off your feet, met and even exceeded your every expectation, became this other alternate ego.  At first he convinced you that you were the problem and then you finally realized that he is.

Now what do you do?  Well there are several obvious destructive options: have an affair, run to another county, develop an addiction, become even more depressed, gossip about him to a few hundred of your girlfriends, or end the marriage in divorce (which seems easy but is often very ugly).  Or instead you could learn to understand what you are dealing with and accept him for what he is rather than expecting him to change, which is not likely happen no matter how many tears you shed.  So take a long look back and begin the process of understanding the type of narcissist he is.

Poker Face.  These are the quiet narcissists who make major decisions without talking to you.  They will buy a house without talking to you or make changes in their occupation without even mentioning a word.  On the outside they look great and appear to be gentle and kind but this is all a front.  Inside they are using this kind appearance to deceive and control others around them.  They have learned that by keeping quiet no one knows what they are thinking and therefore they can better manipulate other’s actions.  It is really an unexpected sneak attack which happens so quickly that you don’t even notice.  The struggle with Poker Faces is that everyone loves them and no one believes just how controlling they really are behind the scenes.

How to handle a Poker Face?  Don’t take their lack of communication about important decisions as a reflection on your abilities.  Learn to make your own decisions and don’t back down from it.  Begin to anticipate the sneak attacks and look for signs that it is coming; there is usually some evidence that in hindsight becomes 20/20 next time.

Bullies.  These are the loud, pushy, and overly aggressive narcissists who will make decisions by bulldozing over you.  They will buy a house by verbally beating up the realtor, seller, mortgage broker, attorney and anyone else who gets in their way.  They want to be noticed and then appreciated for their aggressiveness all while not being afraid of anyone.  In fact, they become even more competitive and verbal when someone tries to mitigate them with a fear tactic.  The struggle with Bullies is that everyone placates to them because it is easier to give in than to take it on the chin.

How to handle a Bully?  Don’t make excuses for them, apologize for their behavior or tolerate the verbal assaults.  Decide on a boundary and stick with it no matter what they do or say.  While the verbal assaults may worsen at first, they will lessen when you don’t back down.  Think of the bully on the play ground and stand your ground.

Girly.  Normally narcissists are void of feeling, but these believe their feelings are king and they literally take up all of the oxygen in a room just expressing themselves.  How they feel is always right, no matter what the circumstances.  They will buy a house by how it makes them feel:  if they feel important, then they will buy it; if not, they won’t.   When you agree with their feelings there is an intense euphoric high but if you don’t, watch out because they will attack you.  The struggle with Girlies is that they appear to be very sensitive but in actuality, they are only sensitive to their feelings and not yours.

How to handle a Girly?  Don’t accept responsibility for their feelings; instead allow them the freedom to feel however they want.  Decide how you feel independently of them and don’t mix the two up.  Most especially, don’t suppress your feelings or they will eventually explode in an enormous mess.

Debaters.  These are the most logical group of the bunch but they can be as deadly as heat seeking missiles that are aimed at you if you dare to disagree.  They will buy a house by obsessing over excessive details, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with the purchase.  They over explain everything again and again and just in case you didn’t get it the third time, one more time again.   Worse, they require you to agree with every small detail and then to agree again with their conclusion.  If you don’t, they will seek to prove you wrong till you do agree.  Literally it seems the only way to stop debating with them is to agree.  The struggle with Debaters is that everyone eventually agrees with them and then does what they want to do behind their back.

How to handle a Debater?  Don’t lie by agreeing with them when you don’t, in the end you will be the one frustrated.  Instead trust your own logic and learn to use logic against them only when necessary.  Be calm and take time out to continue the debate later if you get flustered.

By understanding the type of narcissist you are married to and accepting him for who he is rather than wishing he would change, you can improve the state of your marriage.  Not all people who are married to a narcissist divorce; in fact many stay married and can even be happy in their marriage.  But in order to have a healthy marriage, you need to know your limitations and stand your ground firmly in love.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Importance of Win-Win Arguments in Your Marriage

Win, Lose or Draw

Win, Lose or Draw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You are having that same argument about money again.  One person believes the money needs to be spent and the other person believes the money should be saved.  Sometimes the argument is spoken out loud and sometimes the argument is done silently, nonetheless the same argument is replayed over and over.  If the spender gets their way then they are happy to have won this round, if the saver gets their way then they are happy to have won.  In both cases the opposing spouse often feels like the loser of the argument desperately trying to figure out how to win the next round.

Everyone falls into this trap sometime; maybe the issue is manifests differently but the pattern is the same.  The problem is not the issue per say, but rather the outcome.  There are three possible outcomes to any argument: win-lose, lose-lose and win-win.  However, in a marriage only two of the three outcomes are really possible.

Lose-Lose.  In lose-lose outcomes, both spouses walk away feeling as if nothing was resolved and words were unnecessarily spoken.  The argument may have escalated beyond the issue into past behavior, words, and/or feelings or additional unrelated topics may have entered the argument.  Lose-Lose outcomes occur when both sides lose track of the topic and begin the finger-pointing game.  The reality is that both of you are on the same team in a marriage so every lose-lose argument becomes destructive rather than constructive.

Win-Lose.  In win-lose outcomes, if one of you feels like they have lost, then in actuality both of you have lost because a marriage is a team of two people.  One spouse trying to get the upper hand of the other is like pampering your right hand over your left.  Even if one hand does more work than the other, both are equally important while serving separate functions.  So when one spouse walks away from the argument feeling like they have not been heard, there is no real agreement and the win-lose outcome becomes a lose-lose outcome.

Win-Win.  In win-win outcomes, both spouses feel heard, feel safe, feel valued, and feel respected.  This is by far the most time-consuming outcome of the three but it is also the most rewarding and will strengthen your marriage in the process.  As the win-win concept becomes a goal in your arguments, you will find that it takes less and less work to reach the outcome because you have already laid out the ground work for mutual understanding.  Notice that the win-win outcome is not about who is right but rather about each of you feels at the end.  One spouse maybe right all along but how they value the other spouse’s opinion or perspective makes all the difference.

As a side note, submission in a marriage is not about winning or losing in an argument, rather it is a gift of trust given from the heart just as loving unconditionally is a gift given from the heart.  A person demanding submission or love misses out on the true value of the gift just like a child demanding a present misses out on the joy of receiving something unexpected.  Once demanded, it does not satisfy quite like the unexpected gift.

Striving for win-win outcomes in your arguments is a struggle but in the end it is worth the effort.  So the next time you are tempted to end the argument by railroading over your spouse, stop and consider the value of your team.  If your marriage is important to you, then the extra time to make it work is well worth it.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Wedding Is Over, Now What…

I love weddings but I love strong marriages even more.  Once the wedding and celebration is over, the marriage begins but where do you begin?  What comes next?  Here are ten simple steps that are easy to implement the first day and lay a good foundation for a healthy marriage.

  1. You are part of a team now with your coach being God.  There really is no point in working against each other, trying to compete with each other, or holding resentment towards each other.  Each of these behaviors destroys teamwork.  Rather your marriage should be a pattern of working together as members of the same team.
  2. Forgiving the small things such as the things that annoy you or frustrate you lays a pattern for forgiving the large things.  In every marriage, there will be large things that you will need to forgive and if you have been forgiving the small things all along, the large things become easier.
  3. Don’t just remember what you love about your spouse, but regularly communicate it to your spouse.  Actually speak the words of what you love about your spouse, don’t assume they know.  Even if they do know, hearing the words is a great reminder.
  4. Be grateful for the times of want because they tend to strengthen your relationship more than the times of plenty.  It is in the times of want that you learn to work together in new ways and develop a healthy dependency on each other.  In contrast, the times of plenty tend to increase selfish behaviors.
  5. Be intentional about showing your spouse polite behavior, using “please” and “thank-you” regularly.  Too often polite behavior is given only for others thinking that we can just “be ourselves” with our spouse.  But in the end, this demonstrates a lack of respect for your spouse that can turn into resentment.
  6. When you see your spouse after you have been apart, greet them with a hug and a kiss.  When you leave your spouse for a period of time, even if it is just for work, say good-bye with a hug and a kiss.  These simple acts demonstrate that you don’t take their coming and going for granted.
  7. Have at least one special place that the two of you like to visit and reserve it just for you.  This means that even when you have children, this place should be just for the two of you.  The special memory of this place in combination with regular visits creates an intimacy that only the two of you share.
  8. Find a simple act that demonstrates love to your spouse and do it daily.  This will require communication to find out what is important to your spouse and then intentionally doing the act even though you think it is silly.  This should not be a list of “To Do’s” but rather one small simple act.
  9. Be careful how you treat your spouse in public and especially in front of extended family.  Making small jabs at your spouse, being sarcastic, or insulting them is hurtful and while they may laugh it off in the moment, resentment can build in the end.
  10. Talk about sex with your spouse.  Don’t talk about it with your friends, joke about it around the water cooler, or involve your family in any way.  Talk to your spouse.  Tell them what you like, how you like it, and what you would like to try staying away from any remarks that could be negative.

There is nothing quite like watching an older couple who has been married for a long time still holding hands or gently touching each other.  The love they have for each other just oozes out of them; it is something to aspire.   While these tips are no guarantee that your marriage will be successful, they can improve your relationship.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to disrespect your husband

No, I am not a man-hater and this article is not meant to be taken seriously.  Rather it is written tongue-in-cheek to demonstrate the obvious and not so obvious ways a wife can show disrespect to her husband.  Sometimes the best way of understanding something is to begin with what it isn’t.  While this can be a roundabout way of addressing a subject, it can also establish some necessary boundaries from which to form a better understanding.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for demonstrating disrespect the next time you are alone or out with your husband.  You can do this over dinner, in front of his friends, better yet your friends, and best yet in front of family.  Make sure you temper your comments with sarcasm, mockery or cynicism to add an extra dose of disrespect.

  • His work – Try making a joke about what he does for a living, where he works, or how much he earns.  This can be even more disrespecting if you add a comment or two about how great your career is going or how much more successful your dad was in his line of work.  After all, most men get some satisfaction from what they do as a profession even if they don’t enjoy it because they are providing for their family.  So attacking their work is one of the easiest targets for disrespect.
  • His dreams – Take one of his future aspirations or a desire to become something and then tell him how stupid it is and how he can never accomplish it.  Better yet, don’t even discuss it with him, just roll your eyes and talk behind his back especially to someone who is likely to tell him about your remarks.  It most likely took a lot of trust to tell you about his dreams in the first place so ridiculing even one dream drives the disrespect right to the heart.
  • His sexuality – It really does not matter how frequently he wants sex because if he wants it too much: harass him, too little: tell him he is inadequate.  While you are at it, joke about what he likes sexually and overexpose him to others around you.  No matter what he says about sex, most men fear that they are not performing well enough sexually for their spouse so attacking this area is very personal.
  • His worship – One of the easiest places to show disrespect to your husband is in how he worships in church.  Make sure you poke him when the pastor is preaching, compare him to other men in church or demonstrate how much more you know about spirituality than him.  If he goes to church, he has been told that he is the spiritual leader of the family so under minding him and taking over the leadership role becomes disrespectful.
  • His leisure activities – Whatever he likes to do for fun can be a target for ridicule, especially if it involves a sport of sorts and requires that money be spent for him to have fun.  If there are other men involved then this is an even better opportunity to not only make fun of him but his other teammates, especially if you can tag team with another spouse.  As any self-respecting spouse knows, the money he earns and extra time he has should go to the family and not towards doing something he enjoys.
  • His appearance – Insecurities regarding receding hairlines, pot-bellies, changing body, and outdated clothing should be exposed and highlighted just to make sure that he fully aware of his inadequacies.  Some men age quite well, so make sure that you compare your husband to other men who are aging better than him.  While he has been repeatedly told that you don’t like him to comment on your flaws, his are open game.
  • His moods – Since most men are raised to be strong and take things on the cheek, any sign of weakness, moodiness, depression, or anxiety should be the talk around the dinner table especially with a few of your not so close friends.  By highlighting any mood swings you can literally cut him off at the knees and cripple him for the rest of the evening.  It is a moment of disrespect that will be noticed by everyone in the room.
  • His morality – Another opportunity for disrespect is to exaggerate the number of times your husband has made immortal or embarrassing decisions.  Of particular interest are any past times of infidelity, hospitalization, use of pornography, drunkenness, or drug use just to name a few suggestions.  However, if there are few of these events in his past, making up a couple to add some interest to a conversation by putting him down can be very disrespectful.
  • His decisions – Most wives have this area down to a science as nearly every decision their husbands make can be questioned.  Eve taught us this well as just before she ate fruit from the tree she mistrusted her husband by not agreeing that God had told Adam not to eat the fruit.  Wives can do this in many little ways such as questioning his driving, asking and re-asking the same question, questioning the tie he picks or what he decides to eat.  All of this can be disrespectful.
  • His authority – If you are blessed to work with your spouse at work, on a project or part of a charity, then you have an excellent opportunity to attack his authority.  Just make sure that you do it in front of others adding some sort of intimate touch or glance to maximize the insult.  Minimizing his authority thereby increases yours and creates a natural disrespect with your viewing audience.  This is especially powerful if your husband is in an influential position.
  • His reputation – Gossiping about your spouse especially in a negative manner is highly effective form of disrespect.  Everyone loves gossip and it can spread like wild-fire to all kinds of people destroying a reputation that has taken years to develop in a matter of minutes.  The best people to receive your gossip are the ones who already gossiping about others, after all they are the pros at disrespect.
  • His children – When all is said and done, even if you fail to disrespect your husband in any of the above ways, the easiest and perhaps most sneaky way to be disrespectful is to talk bad about your husband in front of his children.  They could be your children or his by another woman, no matter which one, the impact can be destructive beyond comparison.  By disrespecting your husband, you are modeling behavior for his daughters to imitate and his sons to repeat.  If you can paint your husband in a bad light to his children, then you have truly passed on an inheritance that can last beyond your generation.  It is the gift of disrespect that can keep giving.

By the way, if you find that you have mastered just a few of these areas, just know that you are not alone.  Over half of all marriages end in divorce and yours is likely to be headed in that direction.  Many divorced women in my office have long mastered this list with their ex-husbands and some are working on marriage number two or three or even four.  If this scares you, good.  Now go over the list again, admit what you have done wrong, ask for forgiveness, and decide to be the model of respect instead of disrespect.

For more information, watch this YouTube video: 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Dealing with the In-Laws-to-be

Preparing for a wedding is fun, after all this is a party, a celebration of two lives coming together.  Preparing for a marriage is entirely another event; it is not fun, rather it is work.  Any time you take two different view points, two different personalities, and two different backgrounds and merge them together, there is bound to be tension.  One of the often overlooked areas of preparing for a marriage is dealing with the in-laws to be.  They are likely to be involved in your lives going forward so setting the parameters now before marriage decreases the potential conflict.

The new “we”.  Before you walk down the aisle or go to the courthouse, you should begin the practice of changing your perspective from “me” to “we”.  More importantly, the “we” means you and your spouse to be, not “we” meaning you and your parents.  For some this a hard adjustment as even the most simple of decisions were discussed with your parents, for others this is a no-brainer.  Nevertheless, if you begin this process now, before the wedding, your parents are more likely to adjust to the new perspective as well.  This is not a perspective that you want your in-laws to adjust to after the wedding as it may cause frustration and resentment.  Rather, practice it now.  When you say “we”, it is only you and your spouse; no parents allowed.

Mine are mine, yours are yours.  As a rule of thumb, communication is best received from you to your parents.  Parents are more likely to receive good or bad information if given directly from you to them without any interference.  You talking to your in-laws can create a question of whether or not their child, your spouse, really agrees with the decision.  This question then lives in the minds of your in-laws for the duration of your marriage and will likely be brought up an inopportune time.  When the two of you finally agree on an issue, you tell your parents and your spouse tells his/her parents.

Mark your calendars.  One of the most common disagreements that an engaged couple find themselves addressing is where to spend the holidays.  This may not have been an issue while dating, but when engaged each set of parents are basically staking out their claim on a particular holiday.  They know that the plan you set the first year is going to be very close to the one you will follow every year including when you have their precious grandchildren.  So plan carefully.  Keep one holiday for yourselves, at your house, to begin your own tradition and then divide out the rest amongst everyone else.   You don’t have to communicate your plan ahead of time but if both of you agree now, there will be less tension later.

Keeping these tips in mind will reduce the in-law tension in your home.  Remember, future decisions should involve you and your spouse; not you, your spouse, your parents, and your in-laws.  The more people involved in a decision, the more difficult it is to come to an agreement, just look at congress.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How not to Shutdown in an Argument with your Spouse

Have you ever experienced this?  You are in the middle of explaining a problem to your spouse and instead of listening to what you are saying, they are picking apart the most ridiculously details.  Frustrated, you try to answer and return back to the problem but they are so stuck on the wrong word you used or your tone of voice that you don’t even want to continue.  So instead of having another argument, you decide to shut down and keep your comments to yourself.

Now you have another problem on top of the original problem and so it builds until you just want to explode.  While there is nothing wrong with deciding not to argue about semantics, not voicing your opinion can breed resentment which turns into anger and eventually bitterness.  So what can you do?  Instead of replaying the argument over and over from your perspective, try to replay the argument as if you were a third-party looking from the outside.  Then evaluate the situation with these points in mind.

Recognize.  As you replay the argument, look for similar patterns of behavior from previous exchanges.  For instance, if the argument involved another person is there a tone in your voice that indicates aggression, depression, obsession, or oppression towards that person?  Could the way you say something trigger a response in your spouse because they are naturally inclined to defend that person? Recognize the non-verbal communication and see if there is a look, a lack of engagement, or a distraction that is also triggering a negative response.  Oftentimes it is not the obvious answers that are the most revealing.

Remember.  Replay the argument again and this time, take into consideration the timing of the argument.  Did you confront your spouse while they were in the middle of something else?  Did you confront them on the same day when a thousand other things went wrong?  Were they overly tired and would have benefited from some sleep first?  Remember the circumstances surrounding the argument and see if their response would have been similar no matter who was confronting them in that moment.

Restore.  One more time, replay the argument and look for ways you could have resolved the conflict without shutting down.  Sometimes it is as simple as telling your spouse that you will answer all of their questions at the end of your explanation or not entertaining their question at all until you are done speaking.  Instead of refusing to get your point across, look for shorter ways to explain your point or start with your point first and then share the story.  Restore your relationship rather than allowing an argument to tear it apart.

Having said all of this, there are some spouses who already have disengaged from their marriage and the distraction tactic is an effort to reinforce or justify their disengagement.  If this has happened, then when you try to bring up the argument again, they will reply in a similar manner.  If not, then review the three points and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.