Solving Problems without Arguing

problem solving

Solving Problems without Arguing

It’s no secret that arguments lead to breakups. And the best relationships split power equally among the two. That’s why learning how to fight right without hurting each other’s feelings, or taking one or another person’s power away are the secrets to an impenetrable relationship. But how do you solve problems without arguing? Fighting isn’t essential to couplehood.

Though disagreement is inevitable, getting angry or fighting is a choice.  Here are three steps culled from the book, Getting to Yes, that can eliminate arguing from your relationship, equalize power and make things run far more smoothly. This strategy also helps reconcile two parts in conflict inside an individual as well. So if you are suffering from inner conflicts try this strategy too. Generally speaking compromise is touted as the best way to solve issues. But if one person wants to live in Chicago and the other in Miami, settling in Nashville isn’t going to make anyone happy. It’s a lose-lose instead of a win-win. Compromise has its place but not in situations such as this. However a win-win solution leaves both parties satisfied.

The first step is to recognize the conflict. Say it’s a Friday night. One person wants to go out. The other wants to say in. The first step is to recognize that both parties are indeed in conflict. This sounds easy. But it isn’t always really. Sometimes one partner will go out only to make the other happy but harbor unseen resentment. Instead, both parties will voice that there is a conflict in preferences openly and honestly, without holding back. That doesn’t mean fighting. It merely means recognizing the issue. Next, instead of advocating for your position, trying to find both parties underlying concerns. One person feels that they aren’t spending enough time with their friends, while the other is exhausted from a particularly grinding week at work. Finally, the couple decides on something that will settle both parties underlying concerns. The couple decides to go out and visit with friends at happy hour. Then they decide to come home and relax. Or perhaps they have a nice dinner together, while one goes out and the other stays home. These two solutions are a win-win for each.

The solution has to fix each person’s concerns. That’s important. The couple also has to be patient and communicate clearly so that they can dig past what the person says they want to their actual concern. It’s important that each person find and then communicate their underlying concerns so that these can be fully addressed. For more advice read, Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury.

What to Do if You Find Yourself in a Toxic Relationship

blame

What to Do if You Find Yourself in a Toxic Relationship

Are you in a toxic relationship? Sometimes it dawns on you all-of-a-sudden. At other times, you slowly come to realize that something is very wrong. If you aren’t sure, here are some signs. Is there a lack of respect in your relationship? Do you avoid one another and loathe the time you spend together? Does the atmosphere fill with negative energy whenever you are in the same room? Does the idea of spending time with your spouse or partner fill you with dread? Is there a lot of contempt and insults flying like knives whenever you are in a room together? If any of these sound familiar, then the relationship is toxic. Sometimes things get way off track, or something happened that the relationship is having difficulty recovering from, the death of a child perhaps or infidelity on the part of one or both partners. At other times, it’s the buildup of many unresolved problems that start to drive a wedge between the two. The more differences the further apart they are.

In a toxic relationship you can feel emotionally abused, neglected, manipulated, taken for granted, or deprived of a sex life. Your spouse or partner could have cleared out the joint account, disappeared for days on end or buffeted you with one juvenile remark after another. Whatever the situation, when you find yourself in a toxic relationship, where there is no way of resuscitating it and bringing it back to life, you have to find a way to extricate yourself as painlessly as possible, and that can be tricky. Though many relationships can be saved, in the case of one or both parties hurting each other repeatedly, a clean break is best. There are three easy steps that you can use to get out with as little discomfort as possible. First, have a clear understanding of why you want to leave. A charming lover can muddy the waters, confuse you, woo you back and make you forget, for a time, why exactly it was you were leaving. You need to have concrete examples you can hang onto when things get confusing. You can even make yourself a little slogan or mantra to remind yourself of why.

Make a clean break. Decide when you are moving out or when you are breaking up with them, do it and then close off all avenues of contact. You don’t want to get sucked back in again. Many feel vulnerable after a breakup. That means you may be more likely to be receptive to their charms. Also, seeing and hearing from them will keep those wounds fresh. You want to be given the chance to heal and move on. Unfriend them from your social media pages and erase them from your phone. It may seem drastic but it will also be effective. If you work with this person or see them regularly, keep distance. Be professional if not slightly cold and don’t slow down to chat when you see them in the hallway. Give them a polite nod, say hello and keep moving. Sooner or later they’ll get the message and will stop trying to get your attention. Feel your self-worth. It is when we feel bad about ourselves that we are the most vulnerable. When we feel good about ourselves, we usually won’t put up with foolishness. Don’t get sentimental about the relationship. Remember what they put you through and that you deserve better. For more advice read, Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships with Narcissists, Sociopaths, & Other Toxic People by Peace.

How the Different Genders’ outlook on Sex Affect a Marriage

sexless

How the Different Genders’ outlook on Sex Affect a Marriage

One of the things long-term couples fight about is sex. Men generally want sex no matter what stage the relationship is in. Meanwhile, women see it as the end result of a healthy relationship. Therefore men still expect to have sex when the relationship is rocky, while women prefer to abstain because emotionally, they don’t feel like it is the right thing to do. Men sometimes see this as not fighting fairly. To a man, the two things, emotional well-being and sex, can be compartmentalized. To a woman, however, they cannot. As physical intimacy declines so does emotional intimacy. A vicious cycle occurs. The husband may confront the wife about “withholding” sex, saying it is unfair. At this point the wife, who thinks he only cares about sex, may regress even further. At this point the husband too may pull away, resentful of the wife. Here the two sides interpret sex differently. But instead of reaching out and discussing or discovering how the other interprets it, the miscommunication creates resentment which further widens the rift between the two. The emotional problems in the relationship may be glaringly obvious to the woman but not to the man. These rolls can be reversed too. Certainly there is a husband out there right now withholding sex due to a wife’s negligence or transgression.

Famed marriage researcher Pepper Schwartz however says this is the most common type of sexless marriage, where the woman feels hurt or emotionally detached and the man disgruntled about the lack of sex in the relationship. In this situation she says “there’s a lot of anger and two people who simply don’t know how to change their behavior.” The husband feels victimized. He may disappear into his “man-cave,” local sports bar, golf club or other such hangout. He may believe that all marriages are meant to end up like this, two mild adversaries living side by side. Due to his alienation from his wife, he feels no responsibility to what has transpired. The wife however believes that he should own up, open up, and apologize for what he’s done wrong so they can move on. But he feels he hasn’t done anything wrong so the cycle continues. In this scenario both parties are aggrieved while each blaming the other. Both feel disillusioned about their partner and perhaps even the institution of marriage itself. Each feels resentful and angry. Yet to bridge the gap it often takes patience and openness to see why the other party is aggrieved. It also takes the ability of one to analyze the past and see where things went wrong, and to see their own contribution to the conflagration. Once we can recognize where we ourselves went wrong we can address our partner in a new way. It takes two. No one person had hurt this marriage in and of themselves.

When a couple hits rock bottom, it’s often time to work through their problems with the aid of outside help. Generally either they seek out marriage counseling, live two separate lives side-by-side or one party files for divorce. This type of marriage is also ripe for infidelity, which could be a wake-up call. But more often than not it causes the end of the relationship or at the very least a worsening of relations. Luckily there are 12-step programs for codependency, psychological services, marriage counseling, faith-based services and so much more. To preserve intimacy and joy in your marriage, look to the positive contributions your mate brings. Come to understand and accept who they are, faults and all. Do the same for yourself. Think about what is important to you in a marriage and stick to and preserve it. Learn to let the other, lesser things go. Spend time relaxing together, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes a day. Take part in adventures together. Do things for the two of you, just as a couple. Forgive. Don’t hold a grudge. Write little notes to one another. Tell jokes. Make each other a nice hot cup of something. Always remember to fight fairly. Talk things out no matter how long it takes. Always try to see where your partner is coming from. Choose to work at it and you can keep your marriage abundant and bountiful with love. For more on this topic, pick up a copy of the book, The Busy Couple’s Guide to Everyday Romance: Fun and Easy Ways to Keep the Spark Alive by Editha Rodriguez.

Can a Fight Reignite your Sex Life?

Couple Lying In Bed

Can a Fight Reignite your Sex Life?

It’s a very old idea. Couples fight. All couples do. But then the energy they release, once they make up, leads to great “makeup sex.” But is it true? Is this a real phenomenon or is it all in our heads? New research is trying to put this question to bed. The first problem we must recognize is, after the honeymoon phase–when young couples are ravenous for one another, is over, couples’ sex lives can often become bland and routine. Some people call it simply “marital sex.” Disagreements can get in the way, fights about finances, raising the children and other concerns, and these issues follow the couple into the bedroom, sucking the life out of it. Most couples take fighting as just part of the routine. But certain fights or kinds of fighting can become baggage, getting in the way of sexual and emotional intimacy. What couples need to do, instead of being disconnected to one another, blowing up and having the occasional loving connection, is to think of their romantic life as distanced and separate altogether from their everyday life. A recent study of infidelity site Ashley Madison found that women go to the site to get sexual excitement, while still keeping their relationship intact. So learn how to compartmentalize the two worlds. Leave the fights at the bedroom door, and instead embrace the things that excite you both.

A lot of couples think they are just going to maintain a certain posture for the rest of their time together, if they are married, for the rest of their lives. A “this is as good as it gets” attitude resides. You don’t have to settle for a mediocre relationship. Psychological damage builds up as couples move along and disagreements and conflict inevitably arise. This has a direct influence over our sexual and emotional intimacy within our relationship. The emotional and physical state our body is in, “fight or flight,” is created with adrenaline. This is the absolute opposite of the status our body maintains when it is time to make love. When we are ready to make amore, oxytocin—the love neurotransmitter, and dopamine are released, the body relaxes and enters a state of “calm and cuddle.” The two states cannot coexist. It is either one or the other. The first thing you can do is establish how you fight. Do you take part in the “demand and withdraw” pattern? This is when a person shoves criticisms and complaints on their mate, hoping that the person will change. When these pile up, the person can’t leave them at the bedroom door, and sexual intimacy is lost. Usually as couples get older, this pattern worsens.  Texas Christian University found that this is “…the most common pattern of conflict in marriage or any committed established romantic relationship.”

One study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, found that middle-aged fighting increased the risk of death from all causes significantly. Another study, out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that those couples who fought more often were more susceptible to depression. Those who had constant stress from their relationship were also more likely to get depressed. Nothing saps your love life like depression, be it yours or your partner’s. Some people say that the make-up sex is the best part of their relationship. Really, it’s just that you’ve made up and now the resurgence of those good feelings, the ones that should generally inhabit your relationship, has renewed emotional and sexual intimacy. So it isn’t the fighting itself, it’s being loving again that sparks sexual intimacy. Now one might ask what a couple can do to make things heat up again in the bedroom. John Gottman, a pioneering psychologist who spent his career studying couples, has shown through his research that loving kindness and generosity toward one another can increase intimacy, and give partners a fondness and love for each other, which can manifest itself into great physical and sexual intimacy. One recent study showed that the stronger the emotional intimacy between a couple, the better their sex life. Find ways to sustain intimacy and you can sustain your sex life. For ways to do that pick up a copy of, Emotional Intimacy 101: The Surefire Way to Great Romantic Relationships by Pierre F. Steenberg.

Reasons for Divorce Nobody Thinks About

movingout

Reasons for Divorce Nobody Thinks About

Some people are in denial of course. But for many couples divorce doesn’t come straight out of the blue. It was a buildup, a confluence of negative elements that suddenly builds into a deluge. Either there is an enormous blow up fight, or one person or both just decide they need to get out. But the roots of these negative behaviors have their seed in the past. Here are some reasons for divorce nobody thinks about as a big deal but can snowball over time and cause havoc. Do you feel better than your spouse or that you deserve better? Some people make jokes about this early in the relationship, or the other says they are too good for you and you believe them. Either way, that feeling is going to encroach on the relationship later on. Take a good look at your spouse and remember what tremendous qualities they have.

If you feel too constrained in a relationship don’t think about getting married. And if you do feel confided in your marriage you will probably look for any reason to cheat, or even get out of it. Explore those feelings and see where they lead. Lack of communication in any relationship is a serious issue. The best relationships are the ones where not only does our partner understand us but we understand them perfectly. But it takes a lot of hoops to get there. If you can’t communicate over little things your marriage won’t last. Marriages are rocked by serious problems in life. So if you can’t get over little things what happens when a big one comes along?

Watch your expectations. Some people have really high expectations early on and it starts to weigh on the marriage later. You will both have expectations that the other will not meet. Learn to mitigate these and remember your spouse’s positive qualities. Really it’s up to you and your spouse to invest in your marriage. You need to talk a lot and really investigate what goes on when you have a fight. Talk not only about issues but about your patterns. What sets one person off? What makes the other ignore subjects or leave, escaping the issue? You need to create a space where the two of you feel comfortable to discuss anything, without it being used against them later. Make your relationship more cooperative and less adversarial. See in which topic such as money or chores, or what issues such as one always feeling blamed or the other not feeling listened to, come up the most often. Why are these such touchy subjects in your marriage? What baggage does each person bring that contributes to your fights? Learn how to analyze your marriage and put positive patterns in place to supplant negative ones. For more advice read, The 11 Reasons Why Marriages Go Wrong and How to Make Yours Succeed by Richard Chesser.