Relationship Dilemma Remedies

A Blog About Solving Common Relationship Dilemmas

7 Habits of Successful Families

What a change 20 years has made in our lives!

Does it seem to you that life is more complicated than when you were growing up? Do you think that in many ways your parents had it easier? Certainly seems that way to me.

Not only has technology increased opportunities, both good and bad, but there are also a lot more complicated relationships in families as well as increased temptations for drugs, alcohol, and early sex. Bullying is another problem that is seen with increasing frequency in our schools and neighborhoods.

The changes in families and family structure are significant. What we used to think of as a “normal” or typical family (2 birth parents and 1 – 3 children) is no longer the “norm”. Today we have step-families (parents and grandparents), same sex couple families, adoptive families, bi-racial and multi-ethnic families, single parents, grandparents rearing grandchildren, and many others.

A beautiful act of kindnessParenting does not come with instructions, either, and it is often hard to figure out how to rear emotionally healthy and intelligent people, and yet this is an important skill required of parents even more today than in the future. Children have to learn how to think clearly and make healthy decisions for themselves. Successful families require a common sense and open approach to life and parenting.

A new book, “The Secrets of Happy Families”, by Bruce Feiler was recently reviewed on NPR and that story, along with my experience with many families over my years as a therapist, leads me to suggest 7 habits of successful families.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

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March 14, 2013 Posted by | children, family communication, Parenting advice, parents | Leave a comment

Is It Nagging … or Is It Motivational Speaking?

Or are you just caught up in a terrible downward spiral going nowhere fast?

That awful cycle of complaining and withdrawing and both feeling controlled shows up in many marriages that we see at Couples Counseling of Louisville and couples that we talk with through Counseling Relationships Online.

Nagging, or making the same request over and over again, usually does not get the desired result.  Instead, it generally leads to a downward spiral with negative thoughts and feelings about each other and withdrawing, feeling discounted, misunderstood, controlled or unimportant.

Many people don’t realize that nagging can lead to more divorces than affairs because nagging leads to negativity throughout the relationship.
Here is the story of one couple who really started out in a good place.  Problems crept in over time as they each set different priorities for their weekends and had different ideas about common marital differences like neatness vs. messiness.

Click here to read the rest of the article, “Nagging … or Motivational Speaking?”

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January 16, 2013 Posted by | arguments, communication, conflict, couples, Nagging | Leave a comment

Managing Family Holiday Stress

Being with family over the holidays can be very stressful. Here are some strategies for taking charge and directly managing the stress that this time of the year can bring.

imagesBe positive and complimentary whenever you can. Don’t make things up, be realistic; however, remember that positivity breeds positivity and it may lead to a friendlier atmosphere for the family.

Avoid divisive subjects. Find ways to change the discussion or even leave the room.  This is not a time to solve the world problems or dissect the latest election.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Counseling Relationships Online

December 20, 2012 Posted by | Adult Children, family communication, family holidays, holidays | Leave a comment

Proving Your Point Can Be Hazardous for a Relationship

Some people are able to remain calm during a disagreement while others avoid conflict completely.  Still others blow up quickly and seem to enjoy the fight.  Letting go of the conflict and the need to “win” or prove your point is hard for many but crucial for the relationship.

Jill and Jim fought a lot.  Their friends referred to them as “The Bickersons” and kept their contact with them as a couple to a minimum, especially when it included drinking.

While their fights did not include throwing things or hitting each other … yet, there was still a lot of passion and volatility.

Jim and Jill liked their passion.  It went quite well in their bedroom; however, it was pretty destructive to their feelings about themselves and each other and, now that they had 2 children, they were especially concerned about their style.

Both halves of the couple agreed that they could share equally in the escalation of the fighting.  They could agree on that when they were calm, that is.  Otherwise, things quickly deteriorated to blaming and accusing the other of being the aggressor.

Both also agreed that they knew each other’s “hot spots” and even confessed to using them to gain power in fights.  They also acknowledged that they really had difficulty resisting the fight when it started.  Both felt a need to prove their point or win the argument.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

June 1, 2011 Posted by | arguments, arguments, Avoiding conflict, communication, conflict, couples | Leave a comment

Running Away from Conflict

  • Do you immediately want to run away when your partner disagrees with you or makes a complaint?
  • Do you feel like nothing ever gets resolved between you and your spouse?

If so, you are not alone.  Many people have problems with conflict and will avoid disagreements at all costs.

Sandy felt like she could never get Jim to sit down and talk through a problem with her.  Whenever she disagreed with him, he would run away from conversations.  Heaven forbid that she would ever want to talk about their relationship!

Ellen grew up in a home where there was a lot of fighting.  Any time that Bill raised his voice, or she thought he raised his voice, she would cry and become very upset.  Bill was really frustrated because he thought that they were never able to get through any discussions and reach decisions.

While fighting is usually not good, NEVER talking things through and resolving differences is also unhealthy for relationships.  When couples don’t resolve issues, when one or both of them have the conflict avoidant style, they are more likely to grow distant from each other as they each feel frustrated, hurt and disappointed.

Men are more likely then women to run away from conflict; however, many women also become flooded with conflict and are prone to struggle with how to remain in difficult conversations in calm and productive ways.

Some people directly refuse to discuss an issue and will use comments like “You are being unreasonable and I refuse to talk with you about this” or “We never get anywhere when we argue and I am not going to talk anymore.”

Click here to read suggestions for how to get your conflict avoiding spouse to talk with you.

May 18, 2011 Posted by | arguments, communication, conflict | Leave a comment

Tip of the Week, December 28, 2009

This is the time for resolutions.  As you think about ways to improve your relationships, consider some of these possibilities:

Couples:
Resolve to spend 20 minutes a day … every day … with each other just talking about your life and your day.

Parents:
Resolve to visit your children’s rooms, go into their space, for 10 minutes every day and ask about their music, their friends, subjects of interest to them as people, not to you as a parent.


Those going through divorce or death of a spouse:

Resolve to build your friendship network with people of the same sex rather than rushing to find a new partner.


Everyone:

Practice random acts of kindness.

What resolutions have you made this year?

Counseling Relationships Online

Couples Counseling of Louisville

December 27, 2009 Posted by | couples, family communication, keeping love alive | Leave a comment

Effective Communication Skills: 7 Ways To Get Your Point Across In A Relationship

Some people just have the ability to get their point across when they are talking.
What do they do that works?
How is it that some people are able seem so calm, organized and clear when they speak?
What is it that some can do to get others’ attention?

Here are 7 suggestions for what you might do to improve how you can get your point across in any relationship whether it is with a spouse, child, neighbor or boss.

1.  Begin with a compliment or a statement of good will.  Think positively and let that be a part of all of your communication.

2.  Whenever possible, use humor.  It can be a great ‘equalizer” and is a good way to bring about good feelings.

3.  Always use respectful language and tone.  Speaking with anger, loudly or rudely generally invites defensiveness or arguing.  Respect does not imply agreement.

4.  If the topic or issue is important to you, get your thoughts together before you begin.  It is much easier for someone to listen to an organized presentation than one that is wandering.  Begin with your point and end with your point.

5.    Talk in bullet points rather than paragraphs.  Most people do not have an attention span that lasts for a long time and they are much more likely to recognize your point if you are able to be concise.

6.  Make the conversation interactive.  Ask for feedback, thoughts and comments.

7.    Develop the art of becoming a good listener.

Do you have some ideas for what makes an effective communicator?  Please share them with us.

Counseling Relationships Online

Couples Counseling of Louisville

September 23, 2009 Posted by | communication | Leave a comment

Parents and Children: 7 Ways to Enhance Your Relationship With You Child

1.  Enter your child’s world rather than trying to get your child to enter your world and enjoy what is interesting for you.

Enter your child's world.

Enter your child's world.

Listen to a couple of your teen’s favorite artists.  Find something positive to say about the music and ask questions of your teen about how this music speaks to them.

Sit on the floor with your young daughter and get her to teach you her favorite game or tell you the story of her dolls.

2.  Parents are better off when they give specific, clear and direct recognition of a child’s strengths.

Tell your child what you have noticed and appreciated just that day.  Global comments like “You are a special girl” make less of an impression than “The way that you thought about your friend and made those cookies and took them to her because she was having a tough day was so loving and caring.”

3.  As a parent, listen, really listen, to what your child is telling you, even if you are not happy with what he or she is saying.

This does not mean that you listen if he is being rude or disrespectful; however, it does mean that you allow your child to have a different opinion and you listen carefully and respect him and his thoughts, even if you do not agree.

4.   Parents can score points if they communicate electronically.

Send your child an email with an article about something that you know that she is interested in.  Make a few comments about what made you specifically think about her and her interests.

Send him NPR’s song of the day or an itune that you think that he might like and make a brief comment about why it made you think of  him.

5.  Parents should walk into a child’s room, but make sure to knock if the door is closed,  sit on his bed and ask about his day.  If he doesn’t seem to want to talk, talk a little about your day and then just sit quietly.  Find something specific to say about him that is positive (see tip # 2) and, after 5 minutes, loving leave. Be sure to repeat this exercise the next day.

6.  Do something just with her.  Do not include your spouse or any of the other children.  Go for lunch, a walk, a movie, ice cream.  Find something that she likes to do.  Let her lead the conversation and just be an attentive listener.

7.  Create a ritual, something that you do regularly, just with him.  You might also want to include your spouse, but this should be something to recognize your child.  This might be “his day” on his birthday and half-birthday.  It might be Sunday morning trip to the bakery for pastries together.  You could have a regular game that you watch together, either on television or preferably in person.

The idea for all of this is that you want to find ways to recognize and acknowledge your child as special and your relationship as important.

Counseling Relationships Online
Couples Counseling of Louisville

July 31, 2009 Posted by | children, family communication, parents | 1 Comment

Tip of the Week, July 7, 2009

The way that you think about your relationships and your life affects the way that you feel about yourself, your life and others.  When you are able to think positively about life, you will feel better.  Try an experiment for today.  Choose one relationship that is troublesome to you … and find a way to look for a positive in that situation or that person.

If your boss is difficult, think of one thing about her/him that is positive such as “He does have a good smile” or “She did say that she likes the way that I handle customers.”  If that is not possible, think of a positive thing about the situation such as “I am only at this job 40 hours a week and have many other things in my life that are fulfilling such as my spouse, children, home, etc. … and I can put this all in perspective.”

One woman recently told me that she was surprised by how much better she felt after she changed one habit.  She no longer spent time with co-workers who were unhappy with the job and constantly complaining.  Instead, she tried to only talk with others about neutral or positive things about the job … or about her life.  Her job and the problems did not change but they were no longer so overwhelming for her and she no longer found herself thinking so much about them.


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July 5, 2009 Posted by | communication | Leave a comment

Seven Great Conversation Starters

Are you shy?
Worry about how to talk with someone that you do not know well?
Want to meet other people but the idea of attending an event, especially if you are alone, scares you?
Want to get to know that interesting looking man or woman but do not know how to go about beginning a conversations?

Here are some tips for good ways to start a conversation.

1.  Get to a gathering early so there will be fewer people there.   Look for one or two people who are alone and begin the conversation by sharing your thoughts about the gathering.  Ask the other person about what made him/her decide to attend, how he knows the host or hostess or what his connection is to the event.  Listen carefully and ask good follow-up questions.

2.  The weather is always a safe beginning.  You can follow it with one fact about your favorite season,  what you love to do in this weather or some other piece of information about yourself.  Then ask the other person to share one of his or her stories about the same question.

3.  At a networking or work-type of gathering?  If so, ask how the other person landed the job that they have.  Find out about the search and what made them attracted to that job.

These two know how to start a conversation!

4.  See someone interesting you would like to meet?  If this is someone who is totally unknown to you and you have no one that you might get to arrange an introduction or begin the conversation with something like “Aren’t you a friend of Eric’s?” you might try one of these opening statements.  “This may seem strange to you, a stranger coming up to you; however, you look like someone I would just like to meet.  Is that okay?”

Another possible opening statement might be “You look like you are having a good time … are bored … are uncomfortable.  Am I right?”  Then you can follow up with questions or empathic statements about your observation.  “What are you enjoying most about this party?”  “I get bored with these events, too.  What brings you here anyway?”
Or you might say something like “I really like your hairstyle, where do you have it cut?” or … “Great tie!  Is there a story about it?”

5.  Ask a silly question if the time is appropriate.  You might say, “I am taking a survey and would like to know … “who is your favorite Sesame Street Character and why?”  “Who was your favorite hero or musician as a teen?”

6.  Mention a current event.  Some people choose not to talk about controversial issues or events, rather look for an interesting news article that might stimulate some conversation.7.  The easiest and generally best way to begin a conversation is to remember that people generally like to talk about themselves.   Most also feel flattered if you seem interested in them and their lives so any question that you ask another about their lives, work or family will be flattering and take much of the conversational responsibility off your shoulders.


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June 26, 2009 Posted by | communication, conversation starters, Dating, meeting someone to date | 1 Comment