How Childhood Habits Prevent Connection

Our parents model conflict resolution skills for us as children.

All of us create our habits when we are little. I know it would make more sense if we could make them when we are fully grown, but that is not how humans work.

We all have to figure out life as a single digit little person. Let’s say you had a perfect family and your mother and father and siblings were always kind and caring. If this happened to you then wonderful. You are probably a fully formed human and your habits might be fantastic.

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When One Partner Stays Quiet

Woman quietly ruminating instead of talking to her partner.

We all come to our relationships with the way we navigated our life before we met our beloveds. Every one of us has a habit of how we handle difficulties, problems or our need for change.

This is just how humans work. So, when we meet the one we love and they love us and we are mad about them, it is very hard to believe in that moment that they will not understand everything about us.

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Do You Keep Your Heart Open?

Do you keep your heart open? Or is it under lock and key?

One of the first lessons we learn as humans is about protecting our hearts. We probably learn this when we are very little people. Something hurt us and we close up and we can’t come out until the pain stops.

If this sounds like something you do as an adult, then you are doing what every human on the planet does. Everyone who gets hurt has some sort of mechanism to shield the vulnerable parts from more pain. This is just the way humans are designed.

And even though you learned this skill as a child you are probably still using the same techniques now as an adult. You may have some different words and you may even get mad at your mate when you get your feelings hurt, but all these behaviors do one thing. They close down your heart.

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When We Hurt Our Mate

We may feel upset when we hurt our mate.

All of us in relationships will at one time or another hurt the ones we love. We probably don’t mean to do this, but it will happen. It happens because we are not in their heads, we are in our own, and we cannot ever really know how another person will take us until there is a reaction.

So, let’s say you get into a disagreement with the one you love and you say some things that are an exaggeration of what you really feel, but you are maybe so offended or mad that you just let the words and hurts fly.

This also happens in relationships. It also separates people into their own camps, away from each other, disconnected and both feeling terrible about what just happened.

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Compassion in Relationships: Learning to Really See Each Other

Developing compassion in relationships, like this man comforting his wife.

When I work with couples, I sometimes hear how one partner wishes the other could show more compassion. The person asking for this is often unhappy because they are expecting something from the other person and they are not getting what they want.

Compassion in relationships is essential. Compassion is true understanding of another person’s pain and hurts. And compassion is what leads to healing for all of us.

But how do we learn compassion? If you were cared for tenderly as a child and as a young adult you might have an idea of what it feels like. But even after we have experienced feeling compassion, are we able to give it?

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How to Deal with an Irritating Girlfriend, Boyfriend, or Spouse

How to Deal with an Irritating Girlfriend, Boyfriend, Husband, or Wife

Most of us can relate to feeling some sort of irritation with our mate. I know we try and love them, but we all know we don’t love everything they do. In fact we might even become annoyed or irritated by some of their behaviors.

Some of us even get so frustrated when this happens that we can’t deal with those behaviors anymore so we leave the relationship and look for another partner, less annoying and irritating. But this article is about you staying in the relationship you are in and learning how to deal with your discomfort.

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Conflict in Relationships: Help Make Peace, Not War

Conflict in Relationships

When we get into a scrape with the person we love we often wind up in a difficult place. We sometimes hurt and feel unloved. Maybe we get mad at our mate and sulk or lash out. These are very common positions that many couples engage in. No one likes them. They are difficult and unpleasant.

As a couples specialist I am always trying to understand how to explain relationships in the simplest ways so people can improve how they interact with the person they love. And as I was thinking about this concept it occurred to me that there are really two places we end up occupying after a fight. We are either doing something about our partners or we are doing something about ourselves.

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Stop Suffering Silently! Tips for Communication in Marriage

Stop Suffering Silently! Tips for Better Communication in Marriage

Communication in marriage takes some training. Many expect that our empathetic bond with our mates means they’ll always be aware of our needs and be ready and willing to fulfill them, even if we say nothing. Nope.

It’s a funny thing about humans. If we are in a relationship, when we are hurting the most, all we want to know is that we matter to our mate and that we are loved. So why is it so hard for most people to get what they desperately want in their time of need?

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When Couples Learn to Communicate

As a couples specialist I am sometimes humbled by the changes I see people make to improve their relationships.  It’s not that I don’t believe it can happen; it’s just that more often than not couples stay locked in their differences and expect the other person in the relationship to make the changes.

I spend a lot of time listening to how wounded people are because of what the other person has done to them.  I know it’s important for people to be heard because often they have exhausted themselves trying to tell their partner what is wrong and they just can’t get understanding.  I do know that listening to each person tell me about their perceived pain caused by the other has value, at least someone is listening.

But sometimes couples, or individuals in a relationship, can stay so wounded they see their mate as the one who causes their suffering.  They are so hurt from past injuries that they can not see anything but the harm caused to them.

When one or both people in the relationship stay bound up in their pain there is little I can do but listen.  I can not help someone get awareness on how they treat their partner if they are still living in the mistreatment they believe they have suffered.  Sometimes they are just so hurt they just see their mate as a monster.

It doesn’t matter how I encourage the couple to look at the possibilities of living happily with their chosen partner.  It does little good to talk about the ingredients that make up a good relationship.  If one or both people are suffering from unresolved wounds the couple can not move into a more neutral space.  And yet sometimes, that’s exactly what happens.

Twice in the last two weeks, two couples I had been working with, that had deep difficulties and lots of pain, moved the relationship to the next level.  I could sense it the moment they walked into the room.  There was a decrease in stress and worry and sadness.  I felt something else; a calm, an ease, tenderness.

So what happened?  In both cases one or both changed how they treated the other. In one of the couples one of the partners was mad about past hurts and kept accusing the partner of repeating the behavior.  Then in an instant after a disagreement this partner got some awareness about how they displayed harshness toward the other.  They immediately called the partner and apologized, and that was a first.  Both felt something new; a bit of closeness that they had been craving for years.

The other couple described an incident that they navigated without blowing up at each other.  In the past this issue would have ended with arguing and swearing and disconnection.  This time they walked delicately through the rough parts and stayed away from blaming the other.  Both worried about hurting the others’ feelings.  And that was a first for this couple too.

In both cases I was amazed and humbled by the beautiful changes I was able to witness.  Are all their problems solved? Of course not.  But what they discovered together is a new way of feeling, and those feelings felt good.  The human spirit wants to feel good.  Sometimes we just have to try something new to create something better.  Trust that you can find your way.  I know I do.

Send comments to linda@lindanusbaum.com

www.lindanusbaum.com

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Tit For Tat; How Some Couples Cope…Guidance From A Marriage And Family Therapist

Many of us grew up needing to have the last word when we got into an argument.  It just doesn’t feel right if we can’t say what we have to say after the other person has said their piece.  We just want to finish the exchange with our own ending note.

It’s not uncommon to see this interaction when two people are discussing issues important to both of them.  It’s also not uncommon to see this type of behavior between two people who are in a relationship. He says one thing, she says another, he has to top her, she has to top him and so on.  We’ve all seen it; we may even have engaged in it.

On some level it can be satisfying, putting the other person in their place, having the last word and really saying or acting out something dramatic that makes our point.  Yes, sometimes we even feel better when we can have the last word and end with a flourish, like slamming a door, or stomping up stairs, or using a cuss word or flipping someone off.  There’s something very satisfying about really feeling like we have been heard.  Unfortunately, when two people are locked in this sort of contest no one is listening to the other; both are just waiting for their turn.

These dramatic moments can also cause harm to two people who are in a relationship. Sometimes there is real damage done during these matches, hurtful things are said, painful slights are seared into us.

Some of this sparing may remind us of squabbling with a sibling or a childhood friend. If we learned it at a young age we might even feel confidence when we spar with another person.  We may grow to rely on these skills as we get older and might even use them with our mate in our adult relationship.

Sometimes they are funny and can be laughed at in a calmer state.  But more often than not they are hurtful and leave wounds.  We carry around these scars and feel terrible and angry.  Maybe we get zinged, maybe we zing our beloved.  If we engage, it’s likely we leave something behind, some residue of hurt feelings that may get buried over the next time there is a spat.  Maybe we even compile all the zingers and hurl them back at each other reusing them again and again.

So what do we do about these actions?  Why not talk about them with our partner.  Why not have a discussion about how it feels to hurl these slights and how it feels to receive them.  Why not find out if there are some bruises left over from past arguments.  If the bruises are still tender chances are it’s possible to have some real connection with your mate.  Maybe you both agree on what you won’t say again.  Maybe if you are the offender you can apologize.  This can go a long way to healing pain.  What you don’t want is for couples to wall up against the other because of all the slights.  This can lead to resentment which can leave each person living behind his or her own wall of bricks, afraid to connect for fear of being hurt.

No couple wants to live with resentment toward their partner.  Living behind walls of resentment cuts down on closeness. And that’s really what couples want, to be close, to feel safe and loved, free from those hurtful zingers.

Get more info at www.lindanusbaum.com

Send your comments to linda@lindanusbaum.com

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