By: Abigale Hassel To paraphrase Dr. Phil, the one who needs to change in a troubled relationship is the one who can. You may be asking what that means exactly. In other words, we can never make our spouses change. We cannot make them act a certain way, respond a certain way, think a certain way or feel a certain way. The only thing we can do is look at ourselves, take inventory of how we may be contributing to problems within the relationship and make a decision to change our own behaviors and reactions. The following are 5 relationship pitfalls we may experience and ways to deal with them. 1. Getting sucked into the emotional vortex: We so easily react to our spouse’s heightened emotional behaviors. We get angry; we scream and yell and we get drawn into tumultuous arguments that only increase resentment and cause further damage to the relationship. It is essential to recognize when this is occurring and when we do, we must make the decision to resist the reactivity. Mindfully observe your spouse and ask yourself what he or she is feeling underneath the anger. There are always more vulnerable emotions beneath the shield of anger, such as fear, hurt or shame. If you can resist feeding into that anger and look for the statements beneath the statements, you may just get to your spouse’s heart. Stay calm. Eventually, validating your spouse’s feelings will prove more productive than facing anger with anger. 2. Trying to…
By: Davida Brown Trusting again after a major breach of trust like infidelity is very difficult. For those of us who’ve experienced infidelity, you feel as though your heart has been ripped from your chest. The person you thought had your back, didn’t have it. The person you thought would never intentionally do something to tear your marriage apart, did just that. The person you thought was committed fully to you and only you, wasn’t. So what do you do now? Even if you decide to stay in the marriage, despite the infidelity, how do you ever trust again? Figuring out how to trust again after infidelity is the issue on which I coach the most. A survivor of infidelity, I get just how hard this is. Moving past it can be a herculean effort. But it can be done. We did it. So can you. How did I do it? Well, after the roller coaster ride of emotions I experienced on seemingly a daily basis, I ultimately had to answer the following: Do I want my spouse and my marriage, despite the infidelity? Am I willing to be a great spouse, despite the infidelity, fulfilling all my roles and responsibilities in the marriage? Am I willing to do the work to forgive the infidelity? Am I willing to do the work to trust my spouse again? Notice my repeated use of “I”. Moving beyond infidelity and trusting again required me, the betrayed spouse, to act. So many of us…
By: Davida Brown Your perception is your reality. And yes, that means that your reality may not be the true reality. It took me 30+ years to fully embrace this concept. As a wife and mother now, this phrase is constantly on repeat in my mind when dealing with little, not so little, and yes those whopper issues that plague my marriage from time-to-time. Oh how I wish I could just snap my fingers and my husband would get it. I mean how could he possibly think x, y, and z, when everything, and I do mean everything, points to a, b, c? Some things can mean only one thing, right? If only that were so. The fact is, often times spouses will not only have a different view, but won’t be able to fathom how their spouse reached his or her conclusion or why he or she feels the way they do. And even more, because their perceptions are so different, neither can readily identify the problem causing the conflict. So where does that leave us? No matter how well-intentioned we are, we can’t fix what we can’t see. Making the correct diagnosis of the conflict in your marriage is key to moving forward and past the crisis. Here are some key tips to correctly diagnosing the problem or factors contributing to the problems in your marriage. Be committed to discovering the truth, not just your truth. This requires that you do your best to approach an issue fresh,…

He Did What?!

Vida Brown
By: Davida Brown Our lives are full of patterns, and those patterns start very early in life. This is especially so with respect to how we handle conflict. All of us started out with a single defense mechanism or coping strategy: crying. As we grew, so did our strategies. As adults, most of us have several go-to coping mechanisms that we use when we experience pain or conflict. My husband typically retreats. Me, I turn to food. Others may work out, play sports, or even become violent. Whatever the coping strategy (good or bad), we all have them and we’ve had them for awhile. And yes, we use them when dealing with conflict in our marriage. When I work with couples experiencing marital conflict, I do my best to uncover these patterns. No two people are the same and most often spouses have very different coping skills. When we fail to recognize how our partner handles conflict, it colors how we view them, colors how we view a particular situation, and influences the way we respond during the conflict or perceived conflict. Here’s an example. A husband comes home from a long day of work. His boss really lit into him that day, criticizing his performance on a recent project. The husband completely disagrees with his boss and is very frustrated. As soon as he hits the door, he mumbles hello to his wife, goes upstairs, turns on the television and begins playing video games. He stays there for hours.…
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