When I talk about conflict repair with couples, the mechanics of it sound so easy (easy as pie-LOL) when I hear the words come out of my mouth, yet I know how impossible it is to do in the moment. Why is that?
Ha! Bet you’re saying well that’s easy, since they act like one sometimes! But why you should treat your partner like a child has serious implications for building a better relationship with them. Sometimes communication patterns start that become detrimental. We forget how we came to be in a relationship with this person as we fall into our daily routines. By this, I mean we forget what drew us together in the first place. We go to work, schlep the kids around (if they are present), grocery shop, mop up the spills, do the laundry, take the dog to the vet, get the car inspected, pay the taxes, etc. The requirements of daily life can feel like such a slog at times!
Do you ever wonder why your arguments with your partner seem so circular? Like “Arrrggghhhh! We have had this discussion 10,000 times and it never turns out any different!” Would you like to learn how to open the door to peaceful resolution? It takes work to be present when you are angry or hurt, but wouldn’t you rather begin a conversation that opens communication rather than shutting it down with criticism?
If you could order up your love the way you order up your favorite Thai dish, would you specify mild, medium or spicy-set-my-tongue-on-fire hot? Mild or hot love, spicy or not, movies, news, social media, literature and pop culture imbue the idea of love with extremes. The easy example is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, where a couple of puppy love-sick kids are lead to die because of some warped parental loyalty values. Read more
Lately the world is abuzz with talk of narcissism. Politics aside, sometimes I see this in the therapy room. It is more subtle than you might expect. These behaviors are not as black and white as this yin/yang symbol. Indeed, this set of emotional behaviors is more like 50 shades of gray! Why? Because it is often difficult for a partner to pin down why they are the ones feeling exhausted and depressed when dealing with a narcissist. Is it Oz? The comparison of Oz as the epitome of the narcissist is used by Eleanor D. Payson in her book The Wizard of Oz And Other Narcissists. She sees the wizard from the movie The Wizard of Oz as a glowing example of narcissism, and Dorothy as the “codependent” who repeatedly and desperately tries many ways to please him in her goal of getting back home. In this classic example, both parties fit together in a yin and yang manner, perpetuating this painful dance.
Most people don’t know the answer to “How do you trust?” Last week’s post offered the definitions of betrayal and trust, and many ideas about the ways we betray others. It goes beyond simply having affairs. If you missed it you can read it here. It is a nice basis for this week’s Part II discussion.
There are times when we get to a place in a relationship when we really start seriously asking the question “Should I stay or should I go?”
How do you go about evaluating betrayal? First you might want to understand what it really means.
It is a major betrayal when someone does something that breaks a fundamental promise or violates a fundamental expectation and does so in a way that significantly hurts your peace of mind.–Mira Kirshenbaum*
And, an affair is not the only way we betray others.
Hello everyone! This post is a Part II to last week’s, which you can read here if you missed it.
What happens when you are fighting with your lover and you get either so hurt, or so angry, that you can’t think clearly?
Research by Jaak Panksepp of Washington State University demonstrates that mammals develop a special pathway in the amygdala that lights up when they perceive their mate is unavailable. Panksepp is convinced this special pathway exists in all mammals. So what happens when you feel, most likely without even realizing it, that your connection with your partner is under threat? You are plunged into what he terms “primal panic.” The primal part is due to the absolute need, a primal need, for connection to others–especially our significant others.
Anxiety and love are connected. Logic, as we think of it in the Western sense, is often prized above love, when love is thought of as an emotion that lacks intellect. Yet love, which is comprised of all six innate identified emotions (recognized and verified via social science the world over): fear, anger, happiness, sadness, surprise, and shame, is exquisite in its logic of self protection. We are designed by evolution to seek connection for survival and much research on attachment theory has verified this. So what happens when our sense of attachment with our partner feels threatened and we start to feel anxious?
Perpetual issues permeate every relationship. A perpetual issue is essentially an unresolvable problem, kind of like having a bad back when you age. We learn to live with chronic conditions like this and to make the best of things in spite of them. BTW, did you realize that marriage allows you to have the special privilege of annoying one person in particular for the rest of your life? Uhmmm…and the other way around as well? By definition, when you enter a relationship, you have chosen a set of problems that you will deal with for the duration of that relationship. Here’s an example of what I mean by a perpetual issue, and a technique for managing it called a gentle start up.
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
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