Being More Compassionate toward your Partner

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Being More Compassionate toward your Partner

We’ve always known that compassion is good for the soul. But more and more it’s proving beneficial for the body and longevity as well. One recent study has shown that a compassionate or loving statement said in a couple’s spat can help lower a woman’s risk of heart disease. But no matter how bad the fight is, if a woman doesn’t hear any positive words she is at an elevated risk for the disease no matter how subtle or explosive the fight actually was. This shows how important compassion is.

Being more compassionate toward your partner then is key not only for both of you in terms of health and well-being but for the relationship itself. Oftentimes when we get into an argument we are so caught up in being right that we tend to disregard how our words are hurting our significant other, and what the consequences of that will be in the future. Instead, when things get a little heated, take a step back, a deep breath, and a time out. Say something positive to your lover and agree to couch the issue until a later date. Find ways to calm yourself that are healthy. Don’t only think about yourself or dwell on your position. Instead, walk a mile in your partner’s shoes and see how it feels to be them, and how you would feel from their point of view. How would they view you?

If your partner fails to notice something you’ve worked very hard on, instead of blowing up, understand that they have that big meeting on Tuesday and are a little preoccupied. Give them a nudge in a joking or positive manner. If they’re worth your time they’ll come around, probably even apologize. Remember that we are all human. We are victims to fate, our own biology, we make mistakes, get in bad moods, are irritable and sometimes, just want everyone and everything to go away. That said, give your partner some space.

If they lash out at you but have been stressed lately, instead of reacting with vitriol, take a step back. Why might they be acting like this? Let the matter go and check with them sometime later. Are they okay? Is there anything they’d like to talk about? Giving them the option to talk about and work through a problem out in the open will do amazing things for your relationship. Sometimes we are angry, tired, stressed out and just need a break. But instead of letting the emotions build up and then lashing out at your partner, find another healthier way to relax and deal with your stress. Show great compassion toward your partner and you’ll be setting a tone, whereby you’ll be receiving great compassion in return. For more advice read, The Relationship Handbook: A Simple Guide to Satisfying Relationships by George S. Pransky, Ph.D.

Radical Acceptance is the key to Unconditional Love

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Radical Acceptance is the key to Unconditional Love

We are all familiar with the fairy tale ending “And they lived happily ever after.” But can this happen in real life? Sure it can. It all depends on your attitude in your relationship and your point of view. If you interpret this as your partner being perfect then you are going to be woefully disappointed. This disappointment will weigh heavily on the relationship, may even tear it apart. But if you see it as finding someone who is not necessarily perfect but perfect for you, this is something different altogether. Of course your partner will have faults, in this outlook, as will you. The point is to accept each other as humans who inherently have flaws and to work together to circumnavigate those flaws and find ways to be happy together. You need to accept your partner’s issues in a radical way.

Truly, radical acceptance is the key to unconditional love. That certainly doesn’t mean that you should put up with any abuse, neither physical nor emotional. It does mean that when your spouse or partner has left their wet towels on the bed for the umpteenth time that you shake your head and laugh, and instead of having a blow up fight about it, you realize that you aren’t reaching them and need to find another way to communicate how this makes you feel. Part of the difference is between focusing on someone’s flaws and accepting that person for who they really are. Of course if you are going to do this, your partner needs to know about it. In fact they should practice the same in return.

Another important aspect is to accept yourself for who you are, and your partner doing the same. That means accepting your feelings. Some people swallow things that bother them in a relationship in order to keep the peace, but this is where repressed anger comes from and it can poison a relationship in the form of passive-aggressive behavior, sarcasm and more. Instead, both must commit to being honest and open with one another. But find ways to communicate your feelings in a positive way, and in a way where your partner will recognize, understand and be able to accept, perhaps even modify their behavior, or at least come to some sort of understanding and compromise with you. Radical acceptance is being able to love your partner with absolute empathy and compassion. It isn’t keeping them at arm’s length when things get hard but instead letting them in. It’s accepting their faults and even loving them because of their faults, as this is just a part of what makes them who they are. Radical acceptance is meant to free both parties, to feel accepted and loved way deep down, and feel empowered to communicate freely and in a positive way to overcome obstacles to intimacy and grow forever closer. To learn more on how to use this outlook to change your life read, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach.

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.

Why Staying Together for the Kids is a Bad Idea

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Why Staying Together for the Kids is a Bad Idea

Trying to stick together for the children, even after you’ve done everything possible to resurrect your marriage, usually just makes things worse. Even when the children are shielded from the arguments, they can sense the hostility like a tense fog over the house. Some kids even report feeling relieved when hearing of their parent’s divorce, the opposite of what we picture would happen, begging them to stay together. But having things appear to be working and having them actually working are two different things. You can’t hide the truth from them. They live there, too. And they know, already. Kids have an incredible beat on what’s happening with their parents. It’s some sort of natural inclination. But to deny it is to insult their intelligence. Children also model their romantic relationships after their parents. If you stay together without any longer feeling love, commitment or any tender feelings at all towards one another, what kind of message are you sending them? Will they do the same in their future marriages or relationships? Don’t you want them to be happy and follow that happiness, wherever it may lead? If you stick together, your sacrifice is wasted. In fact, it is doing more harm than good.

There are lots of considerations when getting a divorce. There is the financial burden, which everyone will endure, including the children. It can be hard in a variety of ways. There is telling them, the possibility of moving and putting them in a new school, custody battles, and fights over asset allocation, child support and alimony. The average divorce lasts somewhere in the vicinity of six months. The most hotly debated and contentious can take years. For those in no financial condition to divorce, a separation until the means for a simple divorce can be arranged may be the best answer.  Some worry about the stigma. But today, divorce is so common the stigma has virtually evaporated. What generally happens when it is all over, or at least when a new pattern settles in, is things get better. Without living in a contentious household, the kids feel more secure. They will relax and be themselves. More focus will now be placed on them instead of on the elephant in the room. Parents can also feel that they are being upfront with their children, and the kids won’t feel lied to. There are also lots of life lessons being portrayed that can carry over into their love lives, once they grow up. Children learn to have realistic expectations for relationships, love and marriage. Too many people today have some sort of Disneyesque vision, skewing their expectations. They just are not realistic when it comes to love and relationships in the real world. But children of divorce see past all that. They are also less likely to jump into a committed relationship without thinking about it, and who with.

A divorce helps children see their parents as people. They see their parents in many different roles; sometimes as a worker, of course as a parent, a friend, child, and a sibling and when they start dating again, as a partner to someone else. In other words, the kids don’t take their vision of their parents for granted. They also recognize more closely that their parents are flawed, or to put it a better way, human. But children who see their parent’s marriage as an ideal to be lived up to, suddenly cannot choose what their heart wants. They keep chasing an ideal that they will never catch instead of the reality of love that is before them. Everyone has to find someone right for them. And those two people have to develop a relationship that works for their particular personalities. But when we try to bend a relationship to match some unrealistic ideal, things are bound to run in to trouble.

Children can see their parents more as people who have hopes, dreams, flaws and regrets. They also gather insight into how bad relationships operate and how good relationships work. Usually, parents get into other long-term relationships after divorce, or get remarried. So instead of focusing on having children coming from a “broken home,” realize that if your house is full of contention, either explicit or implicit, it is affecting the children far more negatively than you think. It’s best instead to have the courage to move on with your life, embrace who you are and after you heal, allow yourself to love again. These are great lessons to pass onto your children. They will learn to be brave, and go forth in the world to find the love that they deserve, the kind that is right for them. To learn how to operate and move forward when you have kids and a separation is looming read, The Truth About Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive by Robert Emery.

The Feelings of Love Are the Same the World Over

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When a team of Finnish scientists asked all different people from many different cultures to map out how love feels in the body, the results were remarkably similar. Happiness and love alighted a person’s entire body with warm, positive emotions. Depression on the other hand made feelings less pronounced in the limbs and the head. Fear gave powerful sensations to the chest. Anger made the arms active. Researchers hope that these findings, what they call body emoticons, will one day aid in the curing of pernicious mood disorders. Our mood alters our body without us even thinking about it. This is a fact that scientists have known for hundreds of years. What they don’t agree on is whether the changes in the body are particular to each emotion or is a pattern that the body uses to recognize emotions. Lauri Nummenmaa, a Palo Alto University psychologist, led the study which included Finnish, Swedish and Taiwanese teams. 700 volunteers were utilized in this study.

Each volunteer viewed a black silhouette on a screen. They were then asked to think about an emotion. The researchers would ask them to concentrate on one of fourteen selected emotions- anger, pride, and love among them. They were then to paint where they felt stimulated on their body onto their silhouette. On the next silhouette they were asked to paint areas of their body that were shut down due to an emotion they were asked to think about. Not every person painted theirs the same. But when the researchers put them together they recognized that the patterns were the same throughout for each particular emotion. For depression for instance, each person painted a pain in the chest. Many people feel this symptom when depressed. There is even research that suggests changing your body stance and so on can actually change your mood and perception. Scientists now believe that each emotion is felt in a particular set of body parts, in a particular pattern. Participants enjoyed the silhouette experiment. In fact, there is even a link to be able to participate online (http://becs.aalto.fi/~lnummen/participate.htm). It just goes to show that we are all human, that the feelings associated with love and other emotions are the same the world over. These findings will soon be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For more insight on the relationship between emotions and physical feelings, read the advice of Deb Shapiro in her book, Your Body Speaks Your Mind: Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness.