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Making Relationships Stronger Articles

How Might Differing Value Systems Impact Your Relationship?

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

There was a time in my life when I lived in the South and I dated a military man, a decorated Special Operations soldier, a guy with tons of what I still consider “the right stuff.”

Joe was super-smart, responsible, kind, scrupulously honest, family-oriented, conscientious, and like me, more focused on doing valuable work than on making tons of money.

The relationship itself, however, was stupefyingly difficult, for reasons Joe and I struggled to figure out.


A Small, Good Resolution: Stop Lying (Even the “White” Lies)

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

[On Saturdays my topic of focus is A Small, Good Thing, inspired by one of my favorite Raymond Carver stories.]

A big part of my identity is rooted in thinking of myself as a kind, caring, gentle and optimistic person…one who says supportive, positive things…a Tigger, not an Eeyore.

I’m uncomfortable saying anything that might come across as negative or unnice.  I hate the thought of hurting someone’s feelings or having them get angry at me.


Ambivalent Feelings Towards Loved Ones Are Normal

Friday, November 25th, 2011

[I've been devoting my Friday blog posts to the topic of Learning What We Already Know. There's a ton of wisdom out there in the world, and lots of it has been known for quite a long time but it needs to be passed along.]

The wisdom of Dr. Haim Ginott has had a huge impact on my life, ever since I read his classics: Between Parent and Child and Between Parent and Teenager.


Talking to Your Partner About Safety and Trust

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I’m going to devote my Tuesday blog posts to the topic of Psychology, Human Behavior and Relationships. What makes people tick?

What do you most need in order to feel secure and loved?

In Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson suggest that you answer this question in writing, and then have this conversation with your partner.

In case it’s difficult to put your feelings into words, Dr. Johnson provides this list of phrases partners have named, and suggests you use these as a checklist or starting point:


Solace Sex: An Attempt to Gain Safety Through Touch

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Right now I’m reading Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson.

Dr Johnson brilliantly thought to apply Bowlby’s attachment theory (infant/parent bonding, the need for touch in order to thrive, etc) to adults, and developed her Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy.

Johnson talks about “Solace Sex” in her chapter entitled Bonding Through Sex and Touch:


When Your Loved One Turns Away

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

I’m reading Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson, and this passage, about the trauma we feel when a loved one turns away from us at a time of great need, really got me. Why would someone who loves us abandon us as the very moment we need them most?


For World Mental Health Day: Reading What John Gottman Reads

Monday, October 10th, 2011

I am a huge fan of John and Julie Gottman, the couple who founded The Gottman Institute and have created so many effective, evidence-based interventions for couple therapy.

I pre-order John Gottman’s latest book, The Science of Trust, and devoured it as soon as it came out this summer.

When I really admire an author, I get curious about what they read and who they admire. And Gottman is very open about naming the people who have had an impact on his own work and discussing their ideas at length.

John Gottman considers the psychologist Dan Wile his mentor, so of course I wanted to read Wile, whose book, After the Honeymoon, turns out to be a treasure trove of wisdom and reassurance.


Capture Summertime in A Gratitude Journal

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Summer is such a magical time, and it passes too quickly.

It’s the perfect time to start, or renew, your gratitude journal.

The concept is simple: There’s beauty and pleasure all around us, but we often don’t notice it or get enough enjoyment out of it, because we’re focused on all our pressures and problems.

Keeping a gratitude journal gets us to:

  1. Change our focus and scan our environment for pleasures, not problems.
  2. Notice and savor the good things, spend more time enjoying them.
  3. Indulge in their details by describing them in writing.
  4. Hold on to them by recording them.

I began actively retraining my focus in this manner many years ago, so that by now I automatically notice simple pleasures I dare say most people do not.


Study with Your Kids to Develop Trust

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

I’ve been blogging about trust this week, and I’ll be back to talking about trust and romantic relationships next time.

But tomorrow I’m giving  a talk entitled Math Success for All Students, and here’s what I plan on saying about trust as it relates to kids and parents:

Openness, visibility, day-to-day intimacy, fosters TRUST.

Back in 1990 I read Iron John, and Robert Bly’s theory about fathers and sons stuck with me. Bly suggested that throughout most of human history, children could see the work that their parents and other adults did. Hunter-gatherer societies were very public and transparent.

Bly believes that there is a basic developmental need for children to work next to their parents, see what their parents do and how they think and solve problems


A Dozen Ways to Betray Your Partner

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

You don’t sleep around…and that makes you a loyal partner, right?

In fact, there’s a tad more involved.

In The Science of Trust, John Gottman states, clearly and simply:

A committed romantic relationship is a contract of mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual protection, and mutual nurturance. (p 350)

Yes, sexual betrayal is one way of betraying your partner. But Gottman comes up with twelve more!

Read ‘em and weep (as I did)…and then use them as a checklist towards becoming a better partner (as I am in process of attempting):


 

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