Open Communication for Getting Your Needs Met

Open Communication Helping This Couple Get Their Needs Met

It happens to all of us. We hold on to our thoughts and don’t say them because we are afraid of hurting the other person’s feelings. We stuff them down inside and just stay silent. We may grouse about them later with someone else, but most of the time a lot of us don’t speak up.

If this sounds like you, you are not alone. This is one of the most common themes I come across while helping people in counseling. Most people are aware they do this, and they are not sure how to change it because it’s something they have always done…put their feelings aside and take care of the other person first.

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Gentle Requests – On Communication in Relationships

Communication in Relationships: Gentle Requests

By the time we are grown up almost all of us have figured out how to get what we want in life and how to get things that we don’t like to stop. We usually learn these skills when we are very young, starting with our first empowering word: “NO.”

As an adult we find out partner and then we use these same skills to continue the process of getting what we want and stopping what we don’t want.

But for many couples the habits and skills we bring into a relationship often create difficulty with our beloved…

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Lean on Your Partner to make it Through the Holidays

Lean on your partner to get through the holidays

I don’t know anyone who is not feeling greater stress during this time of year. Even terrific moments with people we love can cause us stress, and that’s if family and extended family are individuals we WANT to see. It’s even more stressful if we are acting out of obligation.

Whatever your circumstances, it’s probably likely there will be at least a few people who drive us up a wall and cause us enormous stress. Welcome to the holidays. Not to mention the numerous details; buying gifts, decorating, baking, cooking sending cards, and trying to be a loving person on top of all that.

I’m stressed just writing about it. Let’s just acknowledge it; Holidays are HARD! And they can be much harder if you turn on the one person who is your rock 90 percent of the time, your partner. Think right now what a good team you make during a crisis. Now ask yourself if you are pulling your hair out and fighting more than usual with your mate?

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Why We End Up Feeling Lonely in a Relationship

Man Feeling Alone in a Relationship Broods on a Jetty

I was listening to someone talk about feeling lonely in their relationship the other day and I realized that sometimes I feel the same thing. It isn’t as often as it used to be, but sometimes it’s there; that wonder if my partner really loves me, or loves me in this moment or if my mate is thinking about me even though I can’t feel it.

I think it’s common for people who are close to another to sometimes feel this. I know over the years the wonder or worry has decreased. But earlier in my relationship I often wondered if my beloved loved me when I couldn’t feel it.

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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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How to Stop Fighting In a Relationship, and Simply Love

How to Stop Fighting in a Relationship

First off, no one plans to have a disagreement with the person they love. We love who we love and we want to be in harmony with them. So why is it so hard for many of us to stop fighting in a relationship? Why is it that the fights pretty much determine whether a relationship will last or not?

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My Husband / Wife Blames Me for Everything! What Do I Do?

My husband blames me for everything! My wife blames me for everything! What do we do? Save my marriage!

People come to me saying, “My husband blames me for everything,” or “My wife blames me for everything.” Here’s a look at why people look to blame another when they feel hurt.

Many of us automatically look for someone to blame when we get mad. This is very common; humans often look for someone to take responsibility when something bad happens. So what’s wrong with blaming another person when we get upset? If a lot of people do this why even talk about it?

Well, people get defensive, they get mad, and they fight. They don’t have to. Learn how to break the pattern.

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When Your Partner is Your Enemy

By the time couples come in to see me for couples counseling it’s a good bet they have tried everything they know to feel better in the relationship. If a couple comes in while both still like each other and both want to make the partnership work the outcome can be terrific.
But if each person has been holding on to anger at the other person for a good amount of time and finding fault with everything their partner does, then mending the damage becomes an entirely different and more difficult endeavor.
Sometimes when a couple has been at war with each other for a long time they don’t see the good in the other person anymore. They see their mate as the evil one who does things intentionally to hurt them. They might even feel harmed by their mate. So they might end up making their partner, husband, wife, the person they believed would grow old with, into something they never thought they would… they make them their ENEMY.
I bet if you could go back in time with any couple who stays at war with their mate and see them early on in their relationship as a loving couple, and if you asked them then if they thought they would be enemies they would probably tell you, you are crazy to even think they could possibly hate their beloved. It would be unthinkable to them. No one sets out to dislike the one they love.
And if there is any hope for a recommitment of sorts between them, that’s where I have to help them look, back to the start of the relationship when they believed in their partnership. The couple has to find some kernel of past happiness to hold on to, in order to be able to rekindle something that could bring them closer.
By the time a couple gets caught up in the cycle of blaming each other, it’s likely they have spent a lot of time wishing they could be close and feel loved by their partner. When couples end up blaming their partner for what is wrong in the relationship they have already spent a long time trying to change their mate so they can feel better; feel more love, feel close to them again. They have tried everything they know and are probably exhausted and lonely. Unfortunately, I believe that a working relationship must have aware participants who can take responsibility for how they treat their partner.
No one gets a pass to be mean to their beloved. I don’t care what your partner has done. When we retaliate on our mate we are no better than two five-year-olds battling it out on a schoolyard. This is no-win behavior that makes us mad at our mate and it pushes us toward demonizing them and hating them for how we feel…unloved.
People who bicker and argue may be good at fighting with each other. They may even think that people need to have battling skills to be in a successful relationship. Maybe they saw their parents fight like this. Maybe they learned how to raise their voice out of frustration. What ever the reason let me be clear on this point too. As a Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping couples I know that fighting does not belong in a healthy relationship. Fighting causes harm and bad feelings.
Disagreements are a natural part of life though. People get their feelings hurt. That’s normal. What is helpful is to learn the skills to tell your partner when you are upset. Both people should also have some skills at saying “I’m sorry.” This is part of resolving difficulties, and these are some of the skills you can learn in counseling. Healthy couples don’t stuff their feelings either, they express them, only they don’t slam or blame their partner in the process.
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Always Wearing a Happy Face

Every one in a relationship wants to feel loved by their partner.  To feel loved, many individuals will put on a happy face and maintain a persona that everything is fine, even when it isn’t.  Often people are so good at acting like they are happy that the partner has no idea anything could be wrong.

Unfortunately, if you are projecting a happy demeanor when communicating with your partner, you may feel stuck in one place and very much alone.  That’s because a lot of other feelings; sad, disappointed, mad, irritated, frustrated, fed up, discouraged, disheartened, worried, nervous, unsafe etc. NEVER GET EXPRESSED.

You may be an expert at delivering the happy feelings, but mum on anything else. If you always show a good face to your mate, how can you maintain that happy face when expressing sadness?  You can’t. So, no unhappy face ever gets shown to the partner.  Nope, just pretend everything is OK, always.

Oh, distressful feelings are felt, but the person experiencing them doesn’t share them, and the partner never hears them.  This leads both people feeling disconnected in the relationship.  He doesn’t know what’s going on with her; she doesn’t know what’s going on with him.  Both feel apart from the other.  The one who doesn’t share feelings might begin to think their partner just doesn’t understand them.  The partner who is left in the dark might start to feel unimportant to his mate.  Usually they can sense that their partner is withholding something, and they might even inquire, and it might sound something like this; “Is everything all right?”  “Are you OK?”  “Is anything wrong?”

The answer is probably always the same, and it’s likely that it’s a denial that sounds something like, “No, everything is fine.”  Oh, there definitely is something wrong, but the person who always shows a sunny disposition hasn’t a clue on how to tell the partner what it is.  Part of the reason is because he or she isn’t quite sure how to explain it.  All they know is that they feel something like emptiness, or not feeling loved, or not being understood, or longing for something more.  It’s usually a mixture of feelings that don’t have words attached to it. But the person feels it.  It’s heavy and lives in the pit of the stomach and doesn’t go away.

This partner might even be able to talk about his or her feelings with another person.  They might be able to explain these feelings in great detail.  “I feel so alone.”  “He or she just doesn’t understand me.”  And while they come easily pouring out to someone else they can’t fathom how to share them with their partner.  No, they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings. They are sure they are unhappy, but they can’t figure out what to do about it.

As a couples counselor I see this situation often.  Both people will eventually feel that the relationship is on the brink of breaking and then the couple will make an appointment to see someone like me.  Both are stuck in some sort of misery and they are hoping I can figure it out and help get them back on track.  That’s the best case scenario.  Sometimes though, a couple has been feeling so distant from each other in the relationship for such a long time that one of the partners may have already moved on to another person. Therapy at this stage requires a whole different level of understanding and repair.

This is what I know about couples counseling:  If a couple is willing, there’s always room to learn more about yourself and your partner in a relationship.  There’s always a way to understand your own behavior and see how it affects your mate.  There’s always room to try something new, to risk showing your feelings and not holding them inside.  Sometimes couples are able to change how they relate to each other and improve their relationship, making it something better than either ever dreamed.

It’s possible to build something true for each of you.  It’s possible to create a safe place for you both to show all your parts, not just the happy ones.  This creates true depth between two people, something that all couples are looking for.

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Treating Overweight Couples

Overweight couples may suffer in their relationships.  If both people in a couple are overweight there may be some bonding and support from each other, and this can be nuturing.  If you stay isolated from the rest of the world this would probably be O.K.  But we all live in some sort of community and overweight people are often subjected to taunts, discrimination and rejection.  These issues can lead to feelings of low self esteem, shame and depression.

Overweight couples may also suffer from feelings of failure.  It’s likely both people have tried to lose weight in the past.  Maybe they have and recall a time when they felt good about themselves.  Now that picture, or time in the past, can become the enemy as they hold it up to themselves as a measure for their happiness. “If I could only be that size again, my life would be O.K.”  When we struggle to attain a desired weight, or look, we suffer with feelings of sadness and disappointment if we don’t succeed.  We might even get annoyed or angry at ourselves for not being able to complete a goal.

Often, eating is a way to soothe hurt feelings.  Food tastes good.  Eating feels good.  Sometimes people eat when they are sad.  People also might find themselves eating out of boredom.  Maybe you are angry.  This is another feeling that could lead to overeating.

Once you get to a point where you would like to make some changes in your life, why not consider investigating your situation from a different angle.  An important step to understanding your eating habits might begin with a therapist.  In a therapy session it’s possible to uncover deep feelings we hold about ourselves.  Often it’s these feelings tied to messages we tell ourselves that guide us to food and overeating.  Understanding how we think about ourselves is a great place to start as you travel on your road of health.

People who suffer with food issues may want to live differently.  Looking inside ones’ thoughts and feelings for answers is one way to shift a person’s thinking.  As individuals we all share the capacity for introspection.  Why not give yourself a chance for a new you?  You are worth it.

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