Tag Archives: couples

FOR COUPLES: Three Ways to Turn an Argument Into a Love Fest

temperREX_468x559Let’s face it, conflict is the worst part of committed love. But the road to security is paved with ruptures followed by repairs. It is in the repair process where we see each other’s tender spots, seek forgiveness, remind our partner they are loved, and sometimes even have great make up sex. Ruptures can be the building blocks of deep love. But some arguments are more than ruptures along the road to intimacy. They are fights that can cause major relationship damage and sting for years. Here’s how to avoid world-war-we and have a growth enhancing conflict:

1. Begin every complaint with a compliment. Remind your love why you are in the relationship and plan to stay before you issue a criticism. “Honey, one of the things I love about you is that you always remember all the holidays. It’s fun to celebrate with you. But we need to watch our budget this year.”

2. Be specific about your feelings and how you are hoping your partner can make a small change. “When you do (a behavior) it makes me feel like (ignored, sad, nervous, frustrated etc.) It would help me if you were able to do (new behavior.)”

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3. Never attack, name call or generalize your partner’s bad behaviors. A damaging argument might include words like, “You always do…” or “You’re a cheap jerk” or “Why can’t you be a better?” Limit your complaints to one specific thing and if, during the course of the argument, emotions cause a flood onto other issues, suggest that that the new complaints get tabled for another time.

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How Do You Respond To Your Spouse?

Couple Fights in Bed

I like to say that relationships are more often about the elephant in the living room than the tiger in the bedroom. That elephant can be ignored all day long, but he’s still in the living room. And his name is emotional intimacy. But couples indirectly do talk about the elephant all day long in metaphors, gestures, touch and facial expressions — round about ways of asking for love.

Drs. John and Julie Schwartz Gottman, marriage researchers and therapists would probably agree with me. Their ground breaking work on couples communication styles and partner’s bids for connection shows that long term marital happiness can be connected to the husband’s ability to respond to his wife’s bids for closeness. In recording data from an “apartment” laboratory, psychologist Gottman discovered that mundane conversations contain many bids for emotional connection — sometimes as many as 100 bids in ten minutes. “These bids can be a question, a look, an affectionate touch on the arm or any single expression that says, “I want to feel connected to you,” says Gottman. “A response to a bid can be a turn toward, away or against someone’s request for emotional connection.”

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For example, consider a man who comes home from work and his wife says, “How was your day?” There are many ways to pose the question that run the gamut from sarcastic “How was YOUR day (implying that hers was worse) to a sweet, earnest inquiry to know more about a lover. And there are many ways to respond. From a curt “Fine,” to a “Great, honey! How was yours?” Add to that simple exchange, body language, facial expression and physical touch, and you can see that couples, even when they are saying nothing, are often saying a lot.

And an ability to turn toward or away from a request can even predict divorce. Research from Gottman’s apartment lab showed that husbands who eventually were divorced ignored the bids from their wives 82 percent of the time compared to 19 percent for men in stable marriages. Women who later divorced ignored their husband’s bids 50 percent of the time while those who remained married only disregarded 14 percent of their husband’s bids.

In the lab and in the therapy room, Dr. Gottman has discovered that many people are emotionally aware, that they lack emotional literacy in being able to read the emotional message in facial expressions or voice tone. And this handicap leads the other partner to feel rejected. The good news is that Gottman believes these skills can be learned, and even couples on the brink can find ways back into love.

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Get the love life you deserve in my new online workshop, 10 Secrets of Mindful Relationships! I’m excited to share the steps you need to incorporate mindfulness in your current or future relationships. Sign up now on popexpert.com: http://bit.ly/1GOwq3v

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FOR WOMEN: Why Men Stray And How to Prevent Cheating

It is estimated that 65% of divorces occur  because of an extra martial affair. And, despite the sexual revolution and the reduction of the “double standard,” more men still cheat than women. Now science shows us why this gender imbalance might exist.

First, there could be a genetic link. Swedish researchers recently identified an infidelity gene, which is present in four of 10 men. This gene can explain why some men are more prone to stormy relationships and bond less to their wives or girlfriends. However, it’s important to remember that biology is not destiny. People born with genetic predispositions to say, heart disease or obesity, make lifestyle adjustments that compensate for the negative gene.

Secondly, men may find it easier to cheat because they feel less than woman. A Spanish study recently revealed that the interpersonal sensitivity of men (especially those aged between 25-33) is low compared to women. This clearly could affect a man’s ability to empathize with his partner. The study also showed that men feel less intense guilt and this difference is particularly stark in the 40-50-year-old age group, a group particularly vulnerable to the mid-life crisis affair.

Finally, more men fear emotional intimacy and more than do women. Believe it or not, some men find lovers so they can  avoid any real intimacy. Emotional closeness and the expression of vulnerability that goes with it scares many men, so they distance themselves from their wives by cheating on them. At the same time,  they don’t get too emotionally involved with their lovers. This kind of “watering down of the milk” feels safer to some men.

As always, my solution to bullet-proof relationships is to grow a bond through emotional intimacy. To make a relationship  rock-solid, one must move a step or two closer to the bone, and hone some relationship skills. Compassion can be learned. Fair-fighting is a skill. And stonewalling is a killer of all connection. Intimacy is not easy nor pain free. Extreme emotional intimacy and mutual care may involve squeamish feelings of shame, the forced expression of awkward words, an ability to see the ugly in others and still love them, and worse,  the ability to glaringly see the ugly in ourselves and still feel lovable. But the pay-back is pure kryptonite. An I’ve-got-your-back-if-you’ve-got-mine emotional contract that can make your relationship affair-proof.

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FOR WOMEN: Is Your Spouse Being Financially Unfaithful?

Man taking euros banknotes with stealthy expression.Does your spouse keep a separate safe deposit box? Do the family’s financial statements get mailed to an office address, not the home? Is he or she an ATM junkie? If so, there’s a chance your spouse could be stepping out on you with the family money. And this behavior is far more common with men than women.

It’s one thing to fear that your husband might stray with his heart and/or his body, but what most women don’t realize is that the risk of financial infidelity is far more dangerous and could lead to longer term consequences for women and their children.

“Most divorces are not impulsive decisions. One party or another checks out emotionally three to five years before they file for divorce,” says, Stacey Napp the CEO of Balance Point Funding, an investment firm that invests in women who have become financially disabled during a divorce proceeding. “Long before a man leaves, he begins to squirrel away assets so that he’ll hold the power in divorce court.” The behavior is more common with affluent husbands because, as a family’s net worth rises, couples tend to move into traditional gender roles, with the woman working less and handling more child rearing and household management chores. And if divorce happens these women are left unprotected. Since it is illegal in most states for a family attorney to work on a contingency (taking a percentage of the final settlement) the exit game becomes one where divorcing husbands strive to leave their wives with no assets to hire a good divorce lawyer — who may demand as much as $20,000 on the first visit.

“Divorce isn’t pretty, but it doesn’t have to be dirty,” says Napp, who founded her company after her own divorce and the financial infidelity she experienced that nearly cost her her entire lifestyle. According to Stacey Napp, there are six red flags that women should be on the alert for:

Is he being financially unfaithful?

1)      Your bank, brokerage or financial statements are sent to his office, and not to your  house
2)      You’re not the beneficiary of his life insurance policy
3)      Like clock work, the same amount of money is  being withdrawn from your joint account every month
4)      He has a separate safe deposit box
5)      Significant repeated cash withdrawals on your joint credit cards
6)      Does your husband own his own business and have his family as employees and/or partners in that business?  That alone isn’t a red flag, but if any of the above are also present- watch out!

So, if you do suspect trouble, is there anything you can do to stop the leakage? Yes, according to Napp, you have to act like your own forensic accountant and gather intelligence before he hides evidence from a real court. That may mean photocopying every document he ever brings home — including his entire wallet and briefcase. Since people stay in contact with their money, photocopy cell phone records, check frequent flyer miles, even the home telephone bill. Ever the financial sleuth, Napp says that calling fast food delivery restaurants in areas where phone calls have been made, can reveal what address goes with what number. And always, wives should request a once yearly free credit report from all three credit reporting bureaus. This report can contain information regarding financial institutions that he may have established relationships with that you were unaware of. It would also show any aliases and/or alternate social security numbers being used by your spouse.

With the enormous emotional pain that women experience during divorce, financial unfaithfulness adds another layer of injury. Injury that can have tragic consequences for children who might be yanked from school after losing tuition and women who many lose their home and community support system. Stacey suggests that women who are full-time mothers are especially vulnerable to this kind of infidelity.

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FOR COUPLES: What Your Sleeping Position Says About Your Relationship

Black Couple SleepingAre you a spooner? An edge hugger? A toe toucher? New research shows that the sleeping position couples choose is directly related to their relationship satisfaction. The data on 1000 couples was collected at the Edinburgh Science Festival and the biggest finding was that the further a couple sleeps apart, the more unhappy their relationship.

As for slumber positions, the majority of couples reported sleeping on their backs with spooners running a close second. Next most common were back-to-back sleepers and only a mere 4% of couples sleep facing each other. But the most telling feature was how many inches apart they slept. Partners who have physical contact while they sleep reported the most positive feelings in their relationship, while those who slept thirty inches apart reported the least relationship satisfaction. Interesting to note that, other research shows that one in four American marriages sleep in separate beds.

It makes sense that uneasy alliances would be less likely to cuddle up after dark, but could a change in sleeping position actually improve a relationship? The answer depends on whether both partners want to change their relationship. If that is the case, it stands to reason that touch can be healing. The neurochemical effects of skin-to-skin contact in infants and children have been well documented. In fact the absence of touch can stunt the growth of babies. Touching and hugging can release oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding in humans.

Even though sleeping is quiet time, sometimes couples can encounter a lot of commotion throughout the night, such as if one’s partner snorts like a trumpet, or rolls to the other side with the covers. Regardless of any problem while sleeping with one another, our bodies get emotional nutrition through touch. If a couple is sleeping separately because of snoring or a medical condition, it would serve their relationship well to schedule extensive cuddle time, maybe while watching television. Another option to think about is to start the night together and have one partner leave when the snoring gets bad.

My advice? First have a talk and then have a touch. Even those with menopause hot flashes might benefit from a little nocturnal toe touching.


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