April 20, 2015

Aurora Borealis Creates Beauty From the Atmosphere

by guest contributor Lynda Chalmers

An atmosphere creates the beautiful aurora borealis in the north - what does your relationship atmosphere create?

The aurora borealis is a result of a collision of charged particles from the atmosphere of the Sun's intense heat and the gaseous particles in the atmosphere at the northern hemisphere of the Earth (one could think of a few metaphors for your relationship in this)! I have had the privilege of seeing the aurora borealis, and the colors and waves of color are beautiful. It brought to mind some atmospheres that were the opposite of that, as I was hearing from couples that were having much difficulty in their relationship.

The atmosphere between them was extremely toxic and they were in a loop that kept creating intense animosity between them. They felt hopeless and had thoughts of just leaving the relationship. Really quite the opposite of the beauty and majesty of the aurora borealis. The reality is both of them longed for that breathtaking beauty in their relationship but had lost their way and were in a spiraling pattern downward. If you relate to this - what are some things you can do about it?
  • Give up trying to do the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result. If you keep doing the same thing but just do it more and harder, it just does not work. It adds to your story of being a victim and it adds to a dark atmosphere in your relationship.
  • Choose to see your partner in a positive light first. Couples who are successful look at their partner in this way. Couples who are not making it are looking at each other in an automatically negative way. They are often mind reading their partner (if we could only mind read!) from intense feelings of dissatisfaction and in the absence of truth. This form of negativity lowers your mood, fuels your anger and adds to a dark atmosphere.
  • Choose to take responsibility for having at least five positive transactions for every one negative in your relationship (as recommended by Gottman and others). Count them and find ways to do this. It will make a huge difference. This means that you will leave your grumpy mindset from work at the door and that you will bring up issues that need to be resolved between you in a judicious way. Couples who are not making it are arguing constantly about the little things as well as the big things. This adds to a dark atmosphere between you.
  • Look at the characteristics that represent your best self. Let them show up in your relationship daily. Learn to love your partner well. Look at your behaviour and who you are in relationship while you are in a spiral downward. These negative characteristics that your friends don't often see add to a dark atmosphere in your relationship.
These ideas will help you to begin to create an aurora borealis atmosphere in your relationship. A better atmosphere helps you both to have hope and to be your better selves. It is a great beginning. However, you would need to see a therapist if your current poor atmosphere in your relationship is more then just a bump in the road. Go forth and be wonderful!

My name is Lynda Chalmers. My pleasure has been to work with couples for the last 20 years. I love to facilitate and strengthen relationship attachments between partners and be a part of their ongoing transformation toward being the loving partners they have the potential to be. You can find more about me at my blog Healthier Marriages or my website, www.lyndachalmers.com.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick and Freedigitalphotos.net.

March 13, 2015

The Love Fight: Review

“Will you fight for the relationship or against each other?” that is the question posed by doctors Tony Ferretti and Peter J. Weiss in their book, The Love Fight: How Achievers and Connectors Can Build a Marriage That Lasts.

The authors describe the problems and conflicts that arise in relationships between two distinct personality types, Achievers and Connectors. Achievers are focused on success and power. Competitive and controlling, they feel driven to work hard, often prioritizing their careers and accomplishments over relationships with spouses, family, and friends. They may achieve great success in business or politics, yet fail (often repeatedly) at marriage.

Connectors focus on the relationships in their lives. They find the greatest meaning in life through their deep bonds with family and friends. Connectors are open about their feelings and empathetic with others. These traits support physical and emotional health. However, Connectors run the risk of becoming overly dependent on others for their self-esteem.

When Achievers marry Connectors, as they often do, the stage is set for conflict and disappointment. Despite all their efforts, the Connectors find that they cannot form the kind of deep, meaningful bond they need with their partners. Eventually, they turn away, seeking satisfaction in other kinds of relationships and social activities with their children, family, and friends. The Achievers begin to feel ignored and unappreciated. They are likely to spend even more time pursuing status and recognition, and may end up having affairs in order to soothe their egos.

In writing The Love Fight, the authors’ main goal is to reach out to Achievers, helping them to understand why their relationships have fallen apart, and how they can make the necessary changes that will allow them to enjoy the benefits of a healthy marriage. They also speak to Connectors, who also need to understand their mates and address their own contributions to their marital issues.

The book uses case studies, self-assessment tools, informative discussions, as well as the authors’ own experiences to systematically and compassionately explain the thinking behind each person’s behavior. They describe how childhood experiences shape our view of ourselves and create our expectations for relationships. Much of the information would be useful, not just for couples in Achiever/Connector relationships, but for any who have experienced conflict and loss of connection in their marriages.

Each chapter’s lessons are summarized in a “bottom line” list and a one-line reminder or inspiration. There are guides to falling in love again, rebuilding trust, and moving forward with a new commitment. The authors also acknowledge that not every marriage can be saved, but that it is possible to heal and create a good life after a marriage has ended.

All in all, this is an optimistic book that encourages readers to fight for a good marriage and a good life. The authors remind us to ask the important questions about what really matters most to us, and what it takes to have a meaningful existence. They sum it up by saying, “Life begins and ends with relationships.”

The Love Fight is available from Amazon and other online retailers. For additional information, visit the publisher, Florida Hospital Publishing.

February 10, 2015

Does Your Spouse Make Mistakes?

In a blog post called "I Wasn't Treating My Husband Fairly", a woman describes how she realized that her extreme criticism of her husband had damaged their relationship.

Her husband had done the grocery shopping and had brought home the wrong kind of hamburger. Instead of seeing this as a simple mistake, the wife interpreted it as a sign of his carelessness and stupidity, and his failure to pay attention to her and the way she did things. She gave him a huge, angry lecture about it.

And then she realized just how wrong she was.

She remembered other incidents, in which she had criticized and scolded him for being careless, negligent, lazy, and just plain wrong. She also realized that he had begun to hide things from her in order to avoid her anger and criticism.

None of the husband's mistakes were serious. Some of them could hardly be called mistakes at all. Every one was just a normal occurrence of the sort that happens to nearly everyone on a regular basis. A broken glass. A white sock in the colored laundry. But in her desire to have everything done "right" (i.e., her way), the wife had focused on all the negatives and none of the positives in her husband's behavior.

She had stopped treating him as a partner and an individual who might sometimes do things differently from her, or who might make mistakes now and then, or who might not place the same importance on the same small details that she did. Instead, she had been treating him as an incompetent employee, or an adversary who was undermining her efforts at perfection.

This story made me think of something that recently happened to a friend of mine.

My friend had asked her husband to pick up a particular brand of sausage at the store. He came home with that brand, but in a style and flavor she wasn't expecting. So she tried it in her recipe, and it was delicious.

Some people are satisfied only when things are done exactly to their specifications. They want what they want, and anything else is a problem. The wrong kind of meat? Dinner is ruined!

On the other hand when my friend didn't get exactly what she wanted, she got creative, and the results were fabulous.

Who would you rather be? Who would your spouse rather be married to?

Image courtesy of Chris Sharp and FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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February 6, 2015

Things I Do That Annoy My Husband

[This is the first entry in a series.]

Sometimes I watch TV with the sound off.

The mute button makes TV better. Not all the time, of course. But some programs are just fine without words.

Imagine a nature show about lions chasing gazelles. They catch them or they don't. Nobody needs to explain that to me. Or an old TV rerun that I've come across halfway through and don't care what it's about. I can guess at the story, without hearing the corny dialogue.

Or a basketball game. I can see exactly what is going on.

Sometimes I'm in transition, waiting for the start of something I want to see, and I don't want to be irritated by the chatter and sound effects of whatever is on in the meantime.

I have been known to watch the news with the sound off, because the ticker at the bottom of the screen is often much more informative than the trivial blah-blah of the talking heads.

Sometimes it's just the visual equivalent of "white noise" while I think about other things.

This doesn't always make sense to Hubby, who wants the full experience of both pictures and sound. He wants to know exactly what's going on. When he sees me sitting in front of a silent TV he just shakes his head with a bemused expression. When he asks, "What is this?" and I tell him I'm not sure, he is baffled. I indulge him by turning the sound on.

One night, I started watching a symphony orchestra with the sound off. He knew I was just teasing him, and we both had a good laugh.

To say this "annoys" my husband may be putting it too strongly. It just isn't his style, and he doesn't quite understand why it appeals to me. But there is no real problem here. I don't demand that he watch the muted TV. If he isn't planning to join me, he just chuckles and moves on. Otherwise, I'm happy to bring back the sound so we can be entertained together.

Accepting each other's little habits supports the friendship that is the foundation of a happy marriage.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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February 2, 2015

Valentine Flowers Are Too Expensive!

Just like restaurant dinners, flowers (especially roses) are overpriced for the holiday.

Not only that, but because so many more bouquets than normal are being delivered, there is a good chance that yours will be loaded onto the delivery truck at 4:00 am, ride around all day, and finally be delivered, dehydrated and limp, at 10:00 pm. (Yes, this has happened to me.) The thrill is gone.

Try this alternative.

Check your local nursery or home store for pots of flowering plants. You may be surprised at what's beautiful and available, at a price that is significantly less than a dozen red roses. One big advantage is that a potted plant will outlast cut flowers, and may even end up with a permanent spot in the living room or garden. Your sweetheart will be reminded of your thoughtfulness for a long time.

You may also enjoy:

Valentine's Dinner Costs Too Much!

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