Don’t Let Rumination Ruin your Relationship

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Don’t Let Rumination Ruin your Relationship

Ruminating is thinking about something from every angle, replaying mistakes over and over in your head and obsessing or over-thinking about important aspects of your life, such as your relationship or career. Obsessive behavior is often born out of rumination. Studies reveal that constant rumination can have negative side effects such as depression, anxiety, binge-eating, alcohol and substance abuse and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What happens with rumination is that you get caught up in these negatives thoughts and they consume you. The more you think about them the more you get stuck in their pull and it becomes a viscous cycle.

Professor at Yale University Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D, a psychologist says of this phenomenon, “when people ruminate while they are in depressed mood, they remember more negative things that happened to them in the past, they interpret situations in their current lives more negatively, and they are more hopeless about the future.” Rumination pulverizes our problem-solving skills by making us feel helpless, and that it is all just a waste of time. You become so obsessed with the problem and how it makes you feel that you cannot make any plans for actually solving the problem.

What’s more, when a problem looks hopeless, all the people around you become tired of your negativity sooner or later. Says Nolen-Hoeksema, “When people ruminate for an extended time, their family members and friends become frustrated and may pull away their support.” So why do people ruminate if it can be so destructive to personal and romantic relationships? Some people are just overloaded with stress in their lives. Nolen-Hoeksema adds that, “Some people prone to ruminate have basic problems pushing things out of consciousness once they get there.”

According to the professor, women are more apt to ruminate than men. So how do you reduce the problem? First, do things that make you feel positive. Volunteer. Get some exercise. Take part in your favorite hobby or past-time. According to Nolen-Hoeksema, “The main thing is to get your mind off your ruminations for a time so they die out and don’t have a grip on your mind.” Next, empower yourself. Instead of wallowing in the thought that there is nothing you can do, make plans on how to conquer your problem or fear and follow through with those plans. Finally, replace rumination with positive self-reflection. The difference? Focus on the things you can change, the positive things you can do to make your situation better. Don’t let rumination ruin your relationship. To read more pick up a copy of, Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema.

When an Ego Battle Replaces your Relationship

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When an Ego Battle Replaces your Relationship

Relationships can do funny things to people. The feeling of attachment can also bring confusion, fear of intimacy and the need to guard one’s self. This is due to past traumas during childhood or in previous relationships. So to protect one’s self this person will often lapse into creating fights, sarcasm, vengeful gestures, passive-aggressiveness, resentfulness, over-the-top competitiveness, self-doubt, frustration and aggression.

This person is afraid of letting their guard down or letting someone in for fear of being hurt. If you yourself think you have become stuck in an ego battle that has replaced your relationship, take a look at these signs. Ask your significant other or consider whether you are experiencing these symptoms. This person has a need to control things and situations. They may have a constant critic going in their head. They may be full of put-downs, sarcasm, criticism or ridicule. The ego tries too hard to control the situation. It is doing so in order to protect itself from love and so ironically becomes the very obstacle to what the person desires most, bonding with their love.

Some people go completely the other way. They give up everything to be with their spouse, their friends, family, hobbies, education and everything they value, just to be with the object of their desire. They lose themselves and this becomes their obstacle to their own pleasure, equal love. The last sign that you are in an ego battle is when one person is “Flat-lining.” This is behavior where one person in the relationship tries to disappear in order to not raise the ire of the other, and avoid conflict. They withdraw from their partner and stay in the relationship in name only. There is no engagement or intimacy. If the right relationship skills aren’t learned, even if this relationship doesn’t last, the person with commitment issues will bring the same problems into their next relationships.

Instead of using negative means to interact in your relationship, see the pattern and learn to dis-engage it. If this is your spouse or lover, teach them that they don’t have to act like this, that this isn’t what love is about. Whenever a problem arises, each side should take a deep breath, relax and manage the negative emotions that come to the surface. Both parties should consciously reach deep down inside and bring out the skills they need to make this relationship work; patience, understanding, openness and the desire to come to an understanding. Counseling or couples therapy may also be necessary. The first step is realizing the problem. The next is working through it. For more advice read, Why You Do the Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships by Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Gary Sibcy.

Science Confirms the Honeymoon Effect

HONEYMOON-EFFECT

Science Confirms the Honeymoon Effect

You know how a relationship seems spectacular, whimsical and perfect in a relationship or marriage just at the beginning but as time wears on more and more problems, issues and things that drive you and your lover crazy start popping up? This is called the “honeymoon effect” and it’s not just what people say, science has confirmed its existence. Researchers at New York University, led by Dr. Michael Lorber, studied 396 newlyweds in their initial two and a half years together as husband and wife. Researchers found that 14% of the husbands experienced the honeymoon effect. Though elated at the beginning, these men were highly unsatisfied by the end of the study.

10% of the wives in this study also encountered the honeymoon effect. But researchers found something interesting here. These women were not as satisfied at the beginning of the relationship as women who did not experience the effect. According to Lorber, “Men who were more depressed or aggressive, or whose fiancées were more depressed or less satisfied with the relationship, were more likely to exhibit the honeymoon effect. Things worked out pretty similarly for the women as well … The more depressed or aggressive women were, or the more depressed, aggressive, or dissatisfied their fiancés were, the more likely they were to have fairly high initial satisfaction that dropped sharply.”

According to Lorber, if you can see this idealization at the beginning of a relationship it could tip you off to steer clear of this person, saving you grief and time. As things move on there could also be interventions to help couples navigate the harsh waters of marriage and get their relationship back on track again. But this forecasting method of course isn’t foolproof. According to Lorber, “We can make some predictions about which highly satisfied newlyweds or soon-to-be newlyweds may not stay that way, and then try to help those people … it might be easier to do some relatively ‘light touch’ interventions early on than to do intensive marital therapy after things have already soured.”

Anyone entering into a relationship and especially a marriage should not just dive in with their gut feeling without evaluating the relationship. Are both partners being practical about its ministrations? Are they practical in their outlook of their relationship and their evaluation of one another? It’s important that you do recognize your soon-to-be spouse’s shortcomings and have come to terms with them. Accepting who we are, who our lover is and what our relationship is like, and how it should be in a practical sense is important. Realize that no one is perfect. If you feel like you are marrying someone who is perfect, or they think you are perfect, be wary. Perfection does not exist in the world. Find someone who is instead perfect for you. For more advice read, Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships by Marnia Robinson and Douglas Wile, Ph.D.

Survey Shows the Right time to Move in Together

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Survey Shows the Right time to Move in Together

It’s a question that often comes up in modern relationships, when is the right time to move in together? Too soon and it could kill the relationship, and give one or both of you deep anxiety. Too late and the relationship may seem to be in slow motion. You of course don’t know someone until they’ve moved in and all of their habits come to bear. The financial savings that could be gained are an excellent plus. But pets, hours, shower scheduling and so many other issues need to be worked out. It really is taking a relationship to a whole other level. Well not to fear, the folks at Rent.com have come up with a handy little survey that shows the right time to move in together.

1,000 renting, cohabitating couples took part in the survey. 37% of respondents thought waiting between six months to a year was appropriate. 29% believed that over a year was better. 18% said that they would wait until after marriage to cohabitate. 7% thought less than a year was alright. 6% thought two to three years a more apropos timeframe. 3% said over three years was the right time. Over a third of respondents said that they were waiting until after marriage which was surprising to the creators of the survey.

The survey didn’t end there. It also asked what happens once couples do move in together. 63% said that they hardly ever went out with their friends alone anymore. 58% spent the weekends at home with their partner. 27% moved in before seeing each other for six months. Nearly 50% enjoyed moving in and spending more time with their partner. 32% came to the realization after moving in together that they’d found their soul mate. Moving in together is a big decision. For some, their familial situation or their religion make the decision pretty clean cut. But for many it can seem like a difficult decision to make. Surely each person’s financial situation, emotional status, your feelings towards one another, where you are in the relationship, whether you are just seeing each other or thinking of spending the rest of your lives together, all are meaningful aspects to explore.

Talk about it together. Find ways to explore the subject. Let your partner know why you are thinking about it and ask what they think. Don’t apply any pressure for commitment as it might backfire. Instead, talk openly and honestly about the situation. If you have been together a long time and want to take things to the next level, share with your partner how you feel, what you want and ask what they think. Make a list of pluses and minuses and weigh your options together to see which is the best fit for you. If you want more out of your relationship but your partner is forever risk adverse, weigh carefully whether you should stay with them or find someone more commitment minded. For more on moving in together read, Not Just Roommates: Cohabitation after the Sexual Revolution by Elizabeth H. Pleck.

Celebrating Imperfection in Love

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Celebrating Imperfection in Love

Lots of women and men too are looking for perfection. They roll their eyes when they hear their standards are too high. They go for that great catch who is attractive, smart, has a high salary and that fancy car, only to be cheated on, let down, cast aside or somehow or other find some other character flaw that keeps them from relationship bliss. Others settle for less and complain the whole time without demanding more from their relationship or finding something new. Still other relationships start out great but as time wears on one or both partners start discovering the others’ faults. Instead of focusing on the positive or loving them anyway, they get more and more annoyed and irritated by these things as time wears on and this irritation drives them apart.

Certainly there are those qualities no one should put up with, physical or emotional abuse, negligence, being ignored, serial infidelity and disrespect.  But the imperfections lots of people see in their lovers or relationships generally aren’t that serious. But they become exasperated by them anyway. Instead of dwelling on imperfections celebrate imperfection in love. Nothing in the world is perfect. If you are going for perfect you will be constantly frustrated and never find pure bliss. In Japanese culture this is called Wabi Sabi, the art of finding the beauty hidden within imperfection.

Many Westerners have grown up with a fairy tale version of love. But this can’t exist in real life. Anyone who tries to bring perfection into their relationship will inevitably suffer from heartache. Instead, coming to terms with your own and your lover’s imperfections is what love is all about. Not only accepting but reveling in or loving them because of their flaws, giving total acceptance and receiving it in return is a mark of true love. That doesn’t mean you have to put up with your lover leaving their dirty socks on the bathroom floor. Certainly communication in a variety of ways has to be put forth to stop this phenomenon from occurring. It does mean that you shake your head and laugh as they’ve done it again, instead of sulking, complaining, nagging or wallowing in sorrow that this isn’t the relationship you wanted, the one that you saw so clearly in your head.

Wabi Sabi love is practical, natural and comes to understand that we are all human. Though we strive for perfection we cannot reach it. But it is exactly this striving and who we are despite ourselves that make us truly beautiful and unique. Find ways when you are modeling behavior that strives for perfection to instead bring a Wabi Sabi type of experience into your relationship. If you start displaying un-Wabi Sabi type behavior modeled after your parents, have your spouse or significant other call you by that parent’s name. Empathy is required, that is being able to “walk a mile” in your lover’s shoes. This again should not be used regarding toxic patterns but only the little foibles, faux pas and idiosyncrasies that make us who we are. To find out more pick up a copy of, Wabi Sabi Love: The Ancient Art of Finding Perfect Love in Imperfect Relationships by Arielle Ford.