Thanksgiving is Much More than Saying “Thank You”

By John and Elaine Leadem

romantic_dinner-300x199Someone once said “it is really hard to have a good day with a bad attitude.” It is just as difficult to have a bad day with a good attitude.

The same is true of the satisfaction we feel in our romantic life. It is very difficult to maintain a heathy romance with a bad attitude, and it will be just as difficult to have a bad romance with a positive attitude.

There are two easy steps you can take to develop a more positive attitude in your romance. These steps will help you to become a more grateful partner in your relationship.

First, take some private time and retreat to a quiet place. Prepare a gratitude list about your partner and about some of the gifts you enjoy in your relationship. (It is a good idea to update this list every year to mark your progress.) This gratitude list will help to establish yourself in a state of gratitude. A state of gratitude generates a calming sense of security as it promotes a feeling of fulfillment.

Our next suggestion is that you and your partner create time to regularly share your gratitude for your partner directly with each other. It is not enough to simply feel grateful for the gifts in your relationship; you need to share that gratitude with each other directly.

Some couples do not believe they need to do this second step. After all, our partner knows us best. He or she knows all our secrets and must surely know how grateful we truly are for what he/ she has brought to our life. We are confident that the times of deep sharing we have enjoyed together have contained the kind of dialogue that would sufficiently communicate to our partner how important he/she is to us.

Why then, we ask, must we explicitly spell out and remind our partner of his/her importance to us? He/she must certainly know by now!

Sharing our thanksgiving with our partner is much more than saying “thank you” to him or her. When you share with your partner that you took the time to prepare a list of those qualities in your partner that you are particularly grateful for, you will be affirming the risks your partner has taken to fully commit himself or herself to you and to the relationship.

If you support your gratitude list with specific examples of when you benefited from each of those qualities that you are grateful for, you will provide your partner with a clear picture of the ways in which the deep spirit of your romance is alive. You will be feeding that spirit of love and admiration for each other so that it can grow to even greater depths. The gifts you have given to each other will grow in your thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is so much more than saying “thank you.” Thanksgiving is a gift that keeps on giving.

49001-Mickey-Minnie-Thanksgiving

 

Please click HERE to share with our readers some tools that you use to keep a positive attitude in your relationship, or how you stay focused on gratitude. Thank you so much to all of our readers for taking the time to read and offer us your feedback on our blogs. It is most appreciated. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

This article was written by John & Elaine Leadem, senior supervisors of the Leadem Counseling & Consulting offices in Toms River, NJ and East Brunswick, NJ. The content of this article is based on their book “One in the Spirit: Meditation Course for Recovering Couples.”



Exploring Your Past is a Prerequisite for True Mindfulness

By John and Elaine Leadem

paper peopleMindfulness. It means living in the moment. By now, most of us are well aware of the great emotional and spiritual promises of living mindfully. It is believed to lower high blood pressure, heal trauma, and enhance our problem-solving abilities. Studies show that mindful people may be happier1.

Many traditional philosophies however, stress the importance of purposefully going back in time and exploring our past experiences. We revisit where we have been and how we have become the people we are. Those of us who are members of 12 Step recovery groups are asked to complete a comprehensive 4th Step inventory on all the hurtful memories we may have endured.

Some people think that these two philosophies are opposites. We are either focused on the past, they insist, or the present, but we cannot to both. We disagree. We believe that going back and exploring our past is a prerequisite for true mindfulness.

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Some “ABC’s” for Better Communication in Your Romance

By John and Elaine Leadem

communication

At some point in our romance we recognize that a successful love life is going to take more work that we thought. The infatuation we felt when we were head-over-heals about each other in those starstruck early days was simply the effects of heavy chemical reactions firing in our brains. Those drug-like reactions do not last forever, they die down quickly, and then we face the task of putting in the hard work and time necessary to kindle a happy and lasting romance.

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“Gratitude is the Parent of All Virtues”

By John and Elaine Leadem

gratitude love

True tolerance of others, especially of those we love, is a virtue that all romantic partners enter into their coupleship hoping to achieve. The actual attainment of this virtue however, proves to be a most difficult and challenging feat for many of us to accomplish.

It is very challenging at times to truly tolerate the limitations and differences of others, especially when their limitations and differences impact us directly. It can become very easy to slip into an external show of tolerance on our outsides while secretly harboring and building resentment and intolerance on our insides. The good news is that we can learn how to show true tolerance to others, not just on our outsides but inside as well.

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No One Can Push Your Buttons Without Permission

By John and Elaine Leadem

buttonMany of us are quick to blame others for how we feel: “He makes me so mad!” or “She really hurt my feelings.

It is true that people can be hurtful and it is important to acknowledge when we are feeling that way. Denying our emotions will only make things worse, not better. But did someone really “make me angry” or are we feeling the anger in us getting kicked up in response to the way someone behaved towards us? The difference between the two is in who the responsible party is for the way we feel. If we blame others for our feelings we will eventually feel justified at whatever our retaliation may be, and we will rationalize that it was their fault, not ours. “They were driving me nuts!”

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In-To-Me-See

By John and Elaine Leadem

200484989-001True and meaningful intimacy is always based on a foundation of two romantic partners who allow each other into the inner depths of who they really are: Into me, see.

Still, many of us choose to hide behind a façade of who we aren’t  because we are so afraid to let our partner know who we really are. We are sure that if he or she would get to know the real us, they would reject us.

What we have learned in our own relationship, and in the last few decades of providing relationship counseling to the couples we work with, is how damaging it is when a partner masquerades through the romance wearing an emotional suit of armor. It may feel safe to the partner locked up in there, but we cannot get in to love them, nor have we been able to figure out a way to receive any love from them either.

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Let it Go, Let it Go…

By John and Elaine Leadem

let it goHave you ever been told to just “let it go”? Many of us hear that from well meaning friends or family members trying to calm us down when we are upset or concerned. Heck, they may even sing you a song about it! We have often wondered what “let it go” really means (yes, we were wondering about this expression even before the song came out).

In a romantic relationship, partners often interpret “letting go” to mean that they should ignore or avoid addressing the problems that they are seeing in each other. We think otherwise. We do not believe it is beneficial to our own emotional wellbeing, nor for the good of our relationship be turning a blind eye to the problems that we see loved ones struggling with.

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Is Your Relationship in Trouble?

By John and Elaine Leadem

Band AidIt is generally safe to assume that something is amiss in your current romantic relationship if your thoughts, feelings, and desires leave your longing for a “real” romantic connection.

Many partners in a hurting romance will describe a sense of feeling lost. They wonder what could have happened to the closeness that they used to enjoy. “Could it be that we were young and immature and easily impressed by the excitement that came so spontaneously in our marriage?”  This is a common question one of the partners might be asking. “Perhaps the kids have preoccupied too much of our time, love, and attention” is usually another line of thought. 

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Is There Any Romance in Your Romance?

By John and Elaine Leadem

Does your romance have romance?Couples often tell us that they have lost the magical feeling they once knew in their relationship. They want to reclaim the romantic charge that they once shared during the early days of their relationship.

Most of us will recall those early years as emotionally challenging and spiritually draining but full of tremendous personal and romantic rewards. In the beginning we made a lot of mistakes, but our relationship was thrilling and alive.

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Three Steps to Emotionally Supporting Your Partner

By John and Elaine Leadem

SupportHave you ever attempted to be helpful to a partner only to have your input rejected?

Some of the time the rejection we experience is overt and direct. At other times it is more covert and subtle. Our partner may smile and say “what a great idea!” but their body language or tone of voice may be indicating that they are rejecting us on the inside. Sometimes we were even accused of trying to “attack” our partner or being “too bossy” when we were not at all intending to do so.

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Elaine Leadem, MSW, LCSW & John Leadem, MSW, LCSW are authors of many books, including One in Spirit & An Ounce of Prevention.
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