Dealing with a Judgmental In-law

mother-in-law

Dealing with a Judgmental In-law

There are a lot of relationship blogs out there offering tons of free online relationship and marriage advice. The trouble is they don’t always let you know how to deal with ancillary problems that can affect a marriage and make it crumble. Sometimes it’s not your spouse that’s driving you nuts, it’s their friends or even their family. It can be so difficult for instance when dealing with a judgmental in-law. A marriage may seem to them like an invitation to start butting into your life. Your spouse may be used to it but that doesn’t mean you are. You don’t have to be either. But when a nosy, judgmental sister or mom starts butting into your business and your spouse feels put in the middle or that they shouldn’t have to choose sides, what do you do?  First, realize that judgmental people are everywhere. Sooner or later you will have to deal with them. If you walked down the aisle and said, “I do” chances are your spouse is the one you want to be with. Marriage isn’t always easy. But you can deal with this problem, teach your in-law boundaries and make your life a whole lot brighter. First, realize who this person is. Don’t take it personally. The way they get power over you is to be judgmental and to get a reaction and to control the flow of that conversation. Realize that this person probably criticizes everything, and every person in their life. They are just as hard on themselves too as everyone else. They may walk around with a chip on their shoulder but that’s only to cover up the fear, insecurity and anxiety that they feel inside. Realize then that it’s not about you at all, it’s about them and their issues.

Next, come to the conclusion to be compassionate. Judgmental people and their negativity can really sting us to the core. They can make us doubt ourselves and fear for how we look in front of others. But if you stop giving them validity and realize that the problem is with them and not you, and you begin to clear all of those negative emotions away, you will start to feel sorry for them. Who made them like this? Do they even get a moment’s peace or is that negativity constantly droning in their head? When you put yourself in their shoes you will start to get a better understanding of who they are and why they are acting this way. Understand that this is a learning experience for you, being able to deal with difficult and judgmental people is a skill that can be used, unfortunately, in a lot of places and situations in life. Now it’s time to learn how to deal with them, once you’ve gotten the proper mindset. Don’t sink to their level. Do not start criticizing them back. Though this is usually our first instinct it is the wrong one. Start to figure out what negative behavior they are exhibiting that is hurting your relationship. Make a list and how this person should properly behave. Let’s say your mother in-law is dropping in unannounced and often refuses to call first. Sit her down and discuss it with your spouse. Then both of you should sit down with the mother in-law and tell her that it’s a transgression against your privacy that cannot be tolerated. Don’t let her interrupt or go off track. Let her know that the doors will be locked from now on. If she doesn’t call first she won’t be welcome. Lock her out one time when she tries to break this rule and stick to your guns. Once the boundary is set she will not try and cross it again. Remember to ignore negative comments. Speak slowly and without any anger. Treat them as though they are children if you have trouble holding your tongue. Explain why your policy is what it is and stick to your guns. If your spouse refuses to sit in on the conversation you will have to convince them that your united front as a married couple should trump there’s to the in-law. You should face this together. For more, pick up a copy of Toxic People: 10 Ways Of Dealing With People Who Make Your Life Miserable by Lillian Glass.

Subtle Signs the Relationship is in Trouble

relationship trouble

Subtle Signs the Relationship is in Trouble

Relationship problems usually aren’t like road signs. You don’t normally see them coming from far off, though if you’ve been there before it’s possible. But most times they tend to spring out on you, and then you and your lover are in the thick of it. What do you do then? Sometimes you solve them. At other times you ignore them and the tension builds and can even spread to other places in life such as work or in dealing with the kids. Instead, it would be better if we could see them coming down the pike, like road signs rather than obstacles that dart into our path that we suddenly have to deal with. Psychologist and couple’s researcher John Gottman is famous for many breakthroughs in understanding what behaviors and attitudes the happiest couples exhibit over unhappy ones. Soon he found four distinct behaviors which he labeled, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” specific behaviors that can spell a relationship’s doom. Here are some subtle signs the relationship you are in is in trouble. It may be time to seek out the proper relationship advice, or just have a long heart-to-heart and work things out if you encounter any of these. The first one is criticism. Criticizing your partner chips away at your respect for them. If you are putting them down privately, it’s one thing. But if you start doing it in public or to others it’s another. Criticism is often met with defensiveness. A blow out sometime down the line occurs. Than both parties go retreat to their respective corners to lick their wounds and wonder if the relationship will last. If you find yourself criticizing your partner, stop and think about a better way to communicate with them. If you find your partner is starting to criticize you, sit down with them, talk to them about it and work out a better, clearer and less negative way for the two of you to communicate.

Of course clear, open and honest communication should be one of the most important things in your relationship. Learn to communicate positively. Instead of sayings things like, “You never do your chores” instead tell them directly how it makes you feel and why it’s an issue. “When you don’t clean up like you are supposed to, I come home from work and immediately feel stressed, now that I have to clean, too.” Use “I” statements and tell them how you are feeling. This brings them in and makes them feel closer. You don’t make them feel defensive. Instead, you make them feel as though they should come to your aid. The next one is contempt. This is where you openly mock, ridicule or disrespect your partner. Sarcasm, passive-aggression, belittling, making fun of, ignoring, criticizing and more is the biggest indicator of a breakup or a divorce according to Dr. Gottman. According to his research, the best couples say five positive things for one negative comment in their relationship. These couples appreciate one another and tell and show the other their appreciation. It’s important that when you are with someone you can trust, whom you want to have a healthy long-term relationship, that you feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of this person. If they are and you have issues with commitment and vulnerability you may need to work through those issues. In fact, a loving, supportive relationship can help you do just that. Validate your lover. Empathize with them and the problems that they have and expect and enjoy the same in return in order to build and sustain intimacy.

When you are with the right person, you can relax with them and be yourself. But the third warning sign is becoming automatically defensive in front of your mate. If you notice you are starting to put your guard up, or you feel the need to argue your position, if this doesn’t have anything to do with past baggage from your parents or another relationship, then it probably has to do with your current relationship. You should look to see exactly what is making you defensive. The last indicator is when you are “stonewalling.” This is when you hold back from talking, or deny giving information. It could be giving the other person the cold shoulder because you are mad at them, but it could also be withholding information to avoid a fight or to help save the relationship. For the former situation it’s best to collect your thoughts and discuss the matter in depth with your partner. For the latter problem you need to be able to communicate clearly and openly within your relationship, if nowhere else. If you need a cool off period, where you don’t want to fly off the handle, want to simmer down and sort out your thoughts before coming to the table, that’s fine. In fact, that is a very mature, adult move. But if you just want to avoid the subject altogether, or if you are using your silence as a weapon, inevitably this will drive a wedge between the two of you, instead of pulling you together it will tear you apart. Once you have identified the problem or problems in your relationship, with an open, willing partner, studies have shown that you can turn a relationship around, and make it great. If your long term relationship is still progressing down the wrong path, pick up a copy of Before A Bad Goodbye: How to Turn Your Marriage Around by Dr. Tim Clinton.

The Things You Learn after a Bad Relationship

Young couple on a sofa after a row argument

The Things You Learn after a Bad Relationship

Everyone has been in a bad relationship at least once in their life. For some it lasts a short time, for others years or even decades can roll by while their relationship is stuck in limbo, or gets worse and worse. Certainly you shouldn’t stay in a bad relationship or a bad marriage. That’s not helping anyone. Lots of people are staying separated long-term nowadays if they can’t afford a divorce. If you are staying together for the children’s sake, know a recent study out of the UK showed that children from single and step-parent households were just as happy as those from dual parent households. Really, the contention and tension in the house is far worse in the long-run. Still, after breaking it off a lot of people bury it or put it out of their mind. They grieve and then move on. But every relationship whether it was good, bad or just crumbled is something you can learn from. You do learn far more from a bad relationship however after the dust has settled, the pain has subsided and you can look objectively into the matter. Here are common lessons people learn after a bad relationship. See if any of these ring true for you. One thing you usually learn after dating someone who is jealous, possessive, controlling, critical, clingy or needy is to set boundaries and stick to them. Every relationship needs boundaries to remain healthy. It’s important that you communicate them to your partner, stick to them and not allow them to be run over.

You should have a better understanding of red flags and knowing when someone isn’t suitable for you right away. Lies, even little ones, changing plans all the time last minute, having a full blown argument in public and others are definite red flags. Carry on this relationship to your own peril. It’s like that Maya Angelou quote, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Lots of people ignore problems in the beginning of a relationship because they are so caught up in how the relationship makes them feel, or because they are happy and just don’t want to be bothered with anything that might undermine that happiness. It’s great to have those feelings but ignoring these warning signs will only make things much more painful down the road. It’s best to nip it in the bud or let this one go right in the beginning and save yourself a lot of heartache. Though it may sound silly, it’s true. You do come to understand the value and appreciate healthy relationships once you have been through a bad one. You can also recognize it better. A bad relationship shows you how not to act towards a partner, things not to do and the consequences of those negative actions. Being through a bad relationship actually makes us a better partner, though it may not feel that way at the time. Being in a bad relationship makes you more compassionate and understanding, not only to yourself but also to the plight of others. We are more likely to reflect on and pivot away from our own bad behavior once we’ve experienced a relationship such as this.

Lots of times we have a gut feeling that something isn’t right with the person we are dating or worse are married to. But we ignore it and in hindsight we see that if we had just listened to that little voice in the back of our head, we wouldn’t have gotten into the situation that we did. A negative relationship can help you trust your instincts more, trust yourself more and become more integrated as a person. If you are the type to rationalize too many things away, chances are a learning experience like this will help you to trust yourself more and rationalize less. Some people can’t stand being single. They’d rather have a relationship, even a subpar one than be alone. But this stems from insecurity. A good relationship should be the meeting of two confident individuals who don’t need each other but feel their life experience is significantly enhanced by being together. A bad relationship may help someone who is insecure to understand that there are worse things than being alone, and in being alone start to work through issues that they’ve been blanketing over, such as insecurity. Finally, when you can’t trust your partner, when things fall apart you learn to trust in yourself, one of the greatest lessons any of us can learn, though some learn this lesson in far more grueling circumstances than others. For more, check out the book Love Is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships by Dr. Robert Hemfelt, Dr. Frank Minirth and Paul Meier M.D.

The One for you May have This Quality

the one

The One for you May have This Quality

When we look for the person we want to have a long-term relationship with, or consider someone who gives us butterflies for that position, we often go through a list of logical criteria. But love is far more complex as we all know and sometimes the person doesn’t fit, sometimes the one’s we have the strongest magnetic pull toward aren’t necessarily good for us or someone we can have a long-term relationship with. Then there are times when we have deep gorges of love for them, and they have the deepest, darkest wellspring of love for us. But you can’t seem to get along. How do you find the balance? Where do you draw the line? And should you really let your heart lead, or find some sort of emotional balancing act between heart and logic to find love that is built to last, and that can grow and develop rather than fall flat and atrophy? There’s lots of relationship advice out there but few of them will tell you the one quality that the one for you should carry. Lots of friends and family will give you relationship advice or dating tips but few will give you this little nugget that’s sure to turn your whole love life around. Sure you have to have chemistry on at least some level, though chemistry can grow. You need to have a connection and love. You should respect and trust one another, have good communication and be able to open up.

But lots of times people go for the feelings, the person that loves them with all of their heart, but instead they overlook the partner who understands them inside and out. Oftentimes, it’s attraction and deep feelings that draw two people together. This can explode into a steamy, hot love affair. But as the initial infatuation level fades, you two have to look at each other and see what you really have. Some people click automatically and know straight off how the other person operates. But too often opposites get together, or people who don’t explore and get to know the other fully and problems ensue from misunderstanding and miscommunication. Of course two people are always going to be different. There are always things that are going to come up. But someone who knows you deeply, who can see you for who you really are, knows how to avoid hurting you, can see how you will take things and instead will know how to operate and couch things to make you feel better about situations. They’ll also see where you are coming from and so will be better to negotiate with and compromise and will perhaps avoid heated arguments that are often born out of misunderstanding. Though the beginning phase of a relationship is exhilarating there really isn’t anything quite like being absolutely and completely comfortable with your partner. To sit in utter silence without feeling uncomfortable, to be almost instantly understood and accepted, and to be completely vulnerable and to be at ease are the goals any relationship should truly strive for. This is the kind of relationship that will give you joy, satisfaction and peace.

This doesn’t mean you have to find someone you have an instant rapport with, or else discard them. Some people have an instant rapport but when they get to know each other better it turns out they are far different than they first surmised. Others have an instant connection that lasts them their entire lives. These are the truly lucky. But for most, it’s an ongoing process of being open, honest, straightforward, patient, reflective and self-reflective, creative, open-minded and motivated to find out about and understand the other. Both of you over time will have to feel comfortable enough with one another to reveal things about your childhood, past relationships and other instances in your life that helped shape you. You shouldn’t keep secrets from a lover you are serious about, thinking they are deal breakers. Instead, look at them as steps on the path to a closer, deeper and more fulfilling relationship. You shouldn’t lay a confession on them all at once; this is a slow revealing. But each secret you or your lover has that you reveal to one another is a test to see how you take it, if you understand, if you can see how this has made or affected the person and should be something for you to accept. There are those who hold their lover’s past against them, but this is actually completely counterproductive to the process of growing together. Let the past be the past. If you cannot accept your lover’s past you shouldn’t be with them. Come to terms with it and come to terms with your own. Learn how to find out about your lover, and learn exactly who they are and allow them to learn who you are, over time, as things progress and with a lover you trust, and you will have a relationship that’s constantly growing closer together instead of farther apart. For some help on finding exactly what to talk about before you decide this is the one for you, read Before You Say “I Do”: 51 Questions to Ask Your Potential Spouse by Sandra Mosley and Emmett Karl Mosley.

Helping Children work Through Divorce Trauma

DIVORCE TRAUMA

Helping Children work Through Divorce Trauma

For children at any age, the divorce of their parents can be traumatic. The last to be told in most divorces are the kids. It’s not easy helping children cope with divorce. Parents often don’t know what to do or say. Many children still harbor the hope that their parents will reconcile, no matter how the parents themselves feel about the matter. Often, conflict ridden marriages end in bitter divorces. Children can feel a whole host of emotions in this instance such as anger, anxiety, fear, rage and even wrestle with feelings of abandonment. Even in divorces that aren’t so contentious, emotions for children can be overwhelming. They feel it the most. Still, a British study recently found that children raised in single parent and step-parent homes were just as happy as those in dual parent homes. You can help your children successfully navigate the dark waters of divorce and see that they work through their trauma, to a happier, more well-adjusted state.  Sometimes after the property squabbling and custody battles parents feel too tired to try and help their children with what they are going through. But if you want them to have good self-esteem and a balanced emotional equilibrium, try these tips in helping your kids cope with a divorce’s aftermath.

Stress and anguish are usually the first couple of emotions children feel. These are trauma’s first symptoms. Oftentimes the children blame themselves, thinking some small transgression or something they did is the cause of the breakup. Children can suffer depression at this time, or feel overcome by grief. Blaming one’s self, anger, sadness and violence can ensue. Studies have shown that children under the age of 18 experience 40% more anxiety due to their parent’s getting divorced. After a diagnosis of childhood depression there is a 50% chance the problem doesn’t become resolved. 75% of children polled in a survey said they’d rather live with a relative other than their parents if the parents were combative or go through another divorce. The first thing you need to do to prevent these things from happening is to talk to the children. Remind them often that the divorce isn’t their fault. Explain everything honestly in a way they can understand. Be there to answer any of their questions. Go out of your way to show them that you love them. Don’t buy their love but through loving gestures, kindness and affection. Work hard to co-parent with your ex. You don’t have to like each other, but you have to be able to get along enough to establish across the board rules, work out schedules, understand what happens at holidays, graduations and parties and more. It may not be easy but it’s what the kids need for stability. Show your kids that you will get through this and so will they. Be flexible with your ex when co-parenting but don’t give up things that are important to you.

Make sure you give your kids a support system. Keep them active and engaged with sports, scouts, artistic pursuits and other extra-curricular activities. Show them your unconditional love. Guide them as best you can. Give them stability. And always be there to talk with them, to listen to them and to love and reassure them. If you feel you need it, seek out psychological assistance. Don’t blame your ex for the divorce in front of the children. You shouldn’t speak poorly of the other parent in front of them either. Encourage the children to have healthy relationships with both parents. Don’t put them in the middle, it isn’t fair to them. Many parents make their kid the messenger in the middle. Learn to talk to your co-parent directly. Do not confide adult things to your children. Your kids should not be used as weapons against one another. If your ex starts dating again, be sure to not say anything negative about that person in front of the children and don’t tell them not to like this person or something of that nature. It will fill them with anxiety as to where their loyalties lie. They will also feel as if they are betraying one parent for another. Always be there for them. Show them how much you love them. Support them and they’ll recover with time. For more, pick up a copy of The Fresh Start Recovery Workbook: A Step-By-Step Program for Those Who Are Divorced or Separated by Bob Burns and Tom Whiteman.