Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another update

Last night was girls-night in. We had a blast but I have to tell you it was very strange to be away frommy man overnight. You might think that sounds weird, but really- it was odd.
It did me some good though. I got out and cleared my head. The only downside is that I came home with a massive cold! It was starting a few days ago- but today it's full blown. It's horrible, because i feel so sick and I want to do nothing but lay around; at the same time, I want to spend some time with my man. I guess it's guilt that's sort of eating me now. But that will pass and I'll get some more sleep and things should get better...

So I told you that I lost my job- well employment insurance still hasn't kicked in, which means we're exhausting every dollar that we have in our savings. I applied for EI in December 2008; we're going on April 2009 and I haven't got any help from the Government so far. Our money is gone, we have very little food and now I'm sick. ARGH! This is crazy and I feellike I'm just spinning my tires. I'm college and University educated- yet I can't get a job. The stress this puts on our relationship is killing me! I have been working since the day that I turned 16yrs old and I hate being out of work. I guess, because I'm in social services, I feel like I'm draining the system, rather than putting back into it and helping others.

I'm a very social person, if I'm comfortable with the people I'm around. Being in social services allows me to interract with people on a regular basis. It's my source of joy- I love my job and I love working with people. I don't generally like my Managers... ever, but tha clients are my source of joy. I was never one of those workers who tried to make other people miserable- I was never rude or judgemental and I guess that's why I miss it so much. I've always loved hearing people's stories and being a listener when all they need is someone to listen. It's embarassing for me to be on the receiving end- only because i know how a lot of workers are... judgemental, condescending and generally unpleasant. I want to be back in the field that I love so that our relationship isn't so stressful.

I was working for the Federal Government of Canada, making about $50, 000/yr when i was sexually harassed and stood up for myself. Doing this caused me to lose my job because the person harassing me was a Police Officer. We were living a good life and we've lost EVERYTHING!

Anyway, here's your update and I'll write again soon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Update

Where do I begin? it's been a long time since I last wrote and I just stopped in to write a quick update:
We are still together and still working hard every day to make it work.
We have some very very bad days and sometimes things get out of hand, but then again, we have some absolutely amazing days and life is good.
I have lost my job and so our income has been drastically reduced, obviously causing some major stress on our relationship.
We have gone through a lot together, but the best part is, we're still here and we still smile!
I'll write more soon, it's late.
-W-

Saturday, November 17, 2007

3 States of Mind in Marriage

The Three States of Mind in Marriage

Some of the brightest people I know become idiots when faced with marital conflict. I've seen this happen in case after case. An intelligent man listens to his wife talking about her needs, her desires, her interests -- and it's as if she's speaking a foreign language. A brilliant woman hears her husband describe his perspective, and she doesn't get it. What makes marital communication so tough? Is it that men and women just can't communicate? Or is there something about marriage that blurs their thinking? Having spent decades counseling couples who seem communicationally challenged, I am thoroughly convinced that it is marriage itself (or more specifically, romantic relationships) that makes communication difficult, and not differences between men and women. The men I counsel have very little trouble resolving conflicts with women, and their wives are usually just as good negotiating with men. It's conflicts they have with each other that seem impossible to resolve. My experience trying to help couples negotiate has led me to the conclusion that, left to their own devices, they negotiate from one of three states of mind, each having it's own unique negotiating rules and it's own unique emotional reactions. I call these states of mind Intimacy, Conflict, and Withdrawal. And regardless which state spouses are in, negotiations can be very difficult.

The First State of Mind in Marriage:
Intimacy
The most essential prerequisite for the state of intimacy is the feeling of being in love. As I discussed in my section on the Love Bank, you obtain that feeling when your spouse has deposited enough love units into his or her account in your Love Bank to trigger that reaction.
In this most enjoyable state of a relationship, spouses follow the rule of the Giver, Do whatever you can to make your spouse happy, and avoid anything that makes the your spouse unhappy, even if it makes you unhappy. When both partners follow this rule, both are getting their emotional needs met, and all is well with the world.

In this state of mind the Giver is in charge and giving to each other seems almost instinctive. Both spouses have a great desire to make each other happy in any way they can, and want to avoid hurting each other at all costs.

As they protect each other, trust builds. They can share their deepest feelings, becoming emotionally vulnerable, because they know that they both have each other's best interests at heart. They feel so close to each other that to hurt the other person would be the same as hurting themselves.

Conversation in the state of intimacy is respectful and non-judgmental. The partners also express their deepest love for each other and gratitude for the care they are receiving. By lowering their defenses and forming a close emotional bond, they feel even greater pleasure when they meet each other's needs. This is the way marriage was meant to be.

Negotiation in this state of marriage is controlled by the Giver and the Giver's rule. When one spouse expresses a desire, the other rushes to fulfill it. There is no thought of repayment, because the Giver's care is unconditional. As long as both spouses are in the same state, there's actually nothing to negotiate--they give each other anything that's possible, and they do it unconditionally.

But giving unconditionally isn't really negotiating. It's giving whatever is requested without the need to bargain. And more importantly, it's with the attitude that bargaining would be somehow immoral, because it would imply conditionality.

You can get into some very bad habits when you are in the state of intimacy. A new mother in love with her husband may let her husband completely off the hook when it comes to child care. A husband in love with his wife may do nothing to restrain her tendency toward irresponsible spending, driving them both into backrupcy. And once these bad habits have been around for a while, they are very difficult to change.

You'd think that the state of intimacy would guide a husband and wife toward marital bliss. But, instead, because of the failure to negotiate terms that benefit both spouses, it tends to drive them toward the second state of mind in marriage, conflict.


The Second State of Mind:
Conflict
As long as a husband and wife are happy, the state of intimacy hums right along. But no one is happy all the time, especially when making sacrifices to make someone else happy. And when unhappiness is experienced by either spouse, the slumbering Taker is immediately alerted to the pain.

"What's going on? Who's upsetting you?" the slumbering Taker wants to know.
It can be a temporary lapse if your spouse is still in a giving mood and apologizes for the error (whether or not it's his or her fault). Your spouse may promise to be more thoughtful in the future or make a greater effort to meet an unmet need. The Taker is satisfied that all is well, and goes back to sleep, leaving the Giver in charge, and keeping you in the state of intimacy.
But what happens if there are no apologies? What if the damage is not repaired quickly? What if one spouse continues to be thoughtless or unwilling to meet an emotional need?

When that occurs, the Taker, mindful of all your sacrifices in the state of Intimacy, comes to your defense.

I think it's time for a new rule, the Taker advises. Youメve done enough giving for a while, now it's time to get something in return. Instinctively, you adapt the Taker's rule: Do whatever you can to make yourself happy, and avoid anything that makes yourself unhappy, even if it makes your spouse unhappy. When that happens, you've entered the second state of mind in marriage -- Conflict.

When one spouse follows this new rule, it isn't long before the other spouse's Taker pushes the Giver aside and is ready for battle. In this state of Conflict, spouses are no longer willing to be thoughtful or to meet each other's needs. Instead, they demand that the other spouse become more thoughtful and that their own needs be met first. They no longer guarantee protection, but instead, threaten each other unless their demands are met. When demands are not met, the Taker resorts to disrespectful judgments, and when that doesn't work, out come the armaments. Angry outbursts are the Taker's last-ditch effort to solve the problem.

In the state of Conflict, conversation tends to be disrespectful, resentful and even hateful.
Mutual care and concern have been replaced by mutual self-centeredness. Your Taker no longer trusts your spouse to look after your interests, but pulls out all the stops to see to it that you are treated fairly. The problem, of course, is that your Taker does not know how to treat your spouse with that same fairness. Fairness is viewed by the Taker as getting its way at all costs.

In the state of Conflict, couples are still emotionally bonded and that makes the pain of thoughtlessness even worse. Love units are withdrawn at a very fast rate. They may still hope that the hurting will stop and there will be a return to the state of Intimacy, but they don't trust each other to stop the madness. Occasionally, one spouse may revert to the state of Intimacy, but if peace is to return, they must both do it simultaneously. The only way to calm down both spouse's Takers is for both of them to be protected at the same time.

Couples can return to the state of Intimacy from Conflict, if, and only if, they stop hurting each other and return to meeting each other's emotional needs again.

But it's very difficult to be thoughtful in the state of Conflict, because your Taker urges you to return pain whenever you receive it. So for most couples, the state of Conflict inspires them to think with short-sightedness. Instead of wanting to meet each other's needs, they want their own needs met before they'll do anything. That makes resolving the conflict seem almost impossible, because our Takers would rather fight than try to make the other spouse happy.

Negotiations in the state of Intimacy really don't work, because each spouse is trying to out-give each other. Sooner or later, one spouse feels used by the arrangement. It's not what I consider bargaining -- it's like giving away the store!

However, negotiations in the state of Conflict don't work either. Each spouse is trying to out-take each other. There is no effort to make the other spouse happy, only the self-centered effort of pleasing yourself at the other person's expense -- it's like robbing the bank.

When a husband and wife are in the state of Conflict long enough, the resentment and disillusionment they experience eventually convinces their Takers that fighting doesn't work. A new approach is warranted, and that approach ushers in the the third state of mind in marriage, Withdrawal.

The Third State of Mind:
Withdrawal
Reason would dictate that demands, disrespect and anger are not the way to resolve conflicts in marriage. But with the Giver and Taker as the only instinctive alternatives, reason doesn't play much of a role in marital problem-solving. Instead, mood is almost everything, and after a fight, most couples do not feel much like going back to the rule of the Giver.

So they leave the Taker in charge, and the Taker adopts a new approach. In the state of Conflict it's strategy is fight. But in the state of Withdrawal, it's strategy is flight.

When you're in the state of Conflict, your Taker tries to force your spouse to meet your needs, making demands, showing disrespect, and threatening your spouse with angry outbursts to get its way. But if that doesn't work--if your spouse does not meet your needs--your Taker suggests a new approach to the problem: Withdrawal. It tries to convince you that your spouse is not worth the effort, and you should engage in emotional divorce.

In the state of Withdrawal, spouses no longer feel emotionally bonded or in love, and emotional defenses are raised. Neither one wants to try to meet the other's needs, and both have given up on attempts to get their own needs met by the other. One becomes two. They are completely independent, united only in living arrangements, finances and childrearing, although they often have to keep up appearances for neighbors and friends.

When one spouse enters the state of Withdrawal, the other usually follows. After all, what is the point? If she is meeting none of his needs and rebuffing every effort he makes to meet hers, he might as well give up, too. The thoughtless behavior by each spouse toward the other becomes too great to bear, so they stop caring. Trust is a faint memory.

Emotional needs can be met only when we are emotionally vulnerable to someone who meets those needs. When we are in the state of Withdrawal, our emotional needs cannot be met because we've raised our defenses. Even when a spouse tries to meet an emotional need, the defensive wall blunts the effect to prevent any Love Bank deposits.

Couples in Withdrawal are really in a state of emotional divorce. When they've been in Withdrawal for any length of time, they will sleep in separate rooms, take separate vacations, and eat meals at different times. They will not communicate unless they must. If that doesn't work, they either separate or obtain a legal divorce.

I've already explained that the states of Intimacy and Conflict discourage negotiating. But in the state of Withdrawal there isn't the slightest interest in it. In Intimacy, couples must only ask in order to receive. In Conflict, they fight to try to get what they want, and the bargain is usually less than intelligent. But in Withdrawal, there is no discussion, no bargaining, not even arguing. In that state, a spouse is unwilling to do anything for his or her spouse or let the spouse do anything in return.

When a couple is in the state of Withdrawal, the marriage seems hopeless. There is no willingness to be thoughtful or to meet each other's emotional needs, and no willingness to even talk about the problems. When both spouses are in the state of Withdrawal, at that point in time, it really is hopeless, because neither are at all interested in saving the marriage.

But the state of Withdrawal doesn't usually last very long. Sooner than most couples think, at least one spouse has the presence of mind to try to break the deadlock. When that happens, it's possible for that spouse to lead the other all the way back to the state of Intimacy. But it's possible only if the Giver and Taker are relegated to the back room.

The Giver and the Taker

Found at: http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi3550_give.html
The Giver and the Taker

Have you ever suspected your spouse of having two personalities -- one that is caring and considerate and one that seems impossible to get along with? I'm sure you've not only noticed, but you've probably been horrified by the impossible one. I call these two personalities the Giver and the Taker.

We all have them, Givers and Takers, and they make marital problem solving much more difficult than it should be. To help you understand why it's so difficult to communicate in marriage, and why it's so hard to be consistently kind and considerate, I'll explain to you who these characters are and how they make marriage so difficult.

The Giver is the part of you that follows the rule: do whatever you can to make the other person happy and avoid anything that makes the other person unhappy, even if it makes you unhappy. It's the part of you that wants to make a difference in the lives of others, and it grows out of a basic instinct that we all share, a deep reservoir of love and concern for those around us.

But the Giver is only half of the story. The other half is the Taker. It's the part of you that follows the rule: do whatever you can to make yourself happy and avoid anything that makes yourself unhappy, even if it makes others unhappy. It's the part of you that wants the most out of life, and it grows out of your basic instinct for self-preservation.

In everyday life, our Givers and Takers usually solve problems together. They recognize our need to give and take simultaneously. For example, when we buy groceries, we give money and take groceries. We don't give more money than the grocer charges us and we don't take groceries without paying for them.

But in marriage, a strange thing happens to the way our Givers and Takers operate. They seem to work independently of each other. Either the Giver is in charge, and we give unconditionally to our spouses, or the Taker is in charge where we take what we want from our spouses without giving anything in return.

When the Giver is in charge, we are loving and considerate. But we tend to make personal sacrifices to see to it that our spouses are happy and fulfilled, because our Takers are not there to defend our personal interests and our Givers do not care how we feel.

But when the Taker is in charge, we are rude, demanding and inconsiderate. All we seem to think about is ourselves, and what our spouses can do to make us happy. We expect our spouses to make sacrifices for us, because our Takers don't care how our spouses feel.

I want to emphasize to you that this is normal behavior in marriage. You might think you're married to a crazy person, or you may think you're crazy yourself, but let me assure you, marriage is one of the very few conditions that bring out the pure Giver and Taker in each of us. And that usually makes us seem much crazier than we really are.

It should be no surprise to you that it isn't the Giver that ruins marriages -- it's the Taker. But the Giver plays a very important role in creating the problem. It's the effort of the Giver to give our spouses anything they want that sets up the Taker for it's destructive acts. After you have been giving, giving, giving to your spouse, and receiving little in return (because you haven't bargained for much), your Taker rises up to straighten out the situation. It sees the unfairness of it all, and steps in to balance the books. But instead of coming to a more balanced arrangement, where you get something for what you give, the Taker just moves the Giver out of the picture altogether. It says, "I've been giving enough, now it's your turn to give."

Sound familiar? We've all been through it, but it doesn't work. All our Takers do is rouse our spouses' Taker and before we can say, "Bull in a china closet," we're having fight.
Which brings up a very important observation -- The Taker's instinctive strategy for getting what we need in marriage is to make demands, show disrespect and have an angry outburst. Does that also sound familiar? They are the stupid instincts that I call, Love Busters. And that's precisely what the Taker usually does when given control of our marriage -- they ruin the love we have for each other.

Takers make us argue instead of negotiate!!

Independent Behaviour

Article found at: http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi3406_independent.html
Independent Behavior

Once you are married, almost everything you decide to do has either a positive or a negative impact on each other -- you are either depositing or withdrawing love units with every decision you make. So if your decisions are not made with each other's interests in mind, you will risk destroying the love you have for each other.

I define Independent Behavior as the conduct of one spouse that ignores the feelings and interest of the other spouse. It's usually scheduled and requires some thought to execute, so the simplest way to overcome this Love Buster is to take it off your schedule. If your Thursday night bowling, or visit to a friend of the opposite sex, or spending five hours chatting on the internet while your spouse sits alone watching TV, schedule something else Thursday night, visit someone else, and spend time doing something with your spouse. And whatever it is you decide to do that replaces independent behavior, be sure that both you and your spouse enthusiastically agree to it.

My ninth Basic Concept, the Policy of Joint Agreement, (never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse), helps eliminate independent behavior -- any event or activity that is not mutually agreed to cannot take place. It forces you to take your spouse's interests and feelings into account when you forget that your spouse is an extremely important part of yourself, and should be considered in every decision you make.

Independent behavior is a problem in most marriages because we are all tempted to do whatever makes us happy, even when it makes our spouse unhappy (the Taker's rule). We don't feel the pain our spouse feels when we are inconsiderate -- all we feel is the pleasure gained from activities that are only in our best interest. That's why the Policy of Joint Agreement is so important in marriage. It forces us to behave as if we feel each other's pain -- it makes us behave as if we were empathetic.

A wise alternative to Independent Behavior is Interdependent Behavior, which limits your your events or activities to those that benefit both of you simultaneously. You are both happy and neither of your suffers when you behavior interdependently, making decisions with each other's interests and feelings in mind. When you get to my tenth Basic Concept, Four Guidelines for Successful Negotiation, I'll show you how to replace Independent Behavior with Interdependent Behavior.

Angry Outbursts

Article found at: http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi3401_angry.html
Angry Outbursts

When requests don't get what you want from your spouse, demands don't produce results, and disrespect doesn't work either, your instinct has one more stupid and abusive strategy up its sleeve -- angry outbursts.

I view demands and disrespect as a ramping up to anger. Taken together, they define the typical fight of most couples. All three illustrate abuse in marriage, and what a tragedy it is.
Instead of protecting each other, spouses become the greatest source of each other's unhappiness -- and it's all instinctive. What I mean by that is that if you don't do something to stop it from happening, you will most certainly become victim of each other's abusive instincts.

Although the primary reason for angry outbursts is trying to get what we want, our instinct makes us believe otherwise. It turns it into an issue of injustice. When we are angry we usually feel that someone is deliberately making us unhappy (by not giving us what we want), and what he or she is doing just isn't fair. In our angry state, we are convinced that reasoning won't work, and the offender will keep upsetting us until he or she is taught a lesson. The only thing such people understand is punishment, we assume. Then they'll think twice about making us unhappy again!

We think we are using anger to protect ourselves, and it offers a simple solution to our problem -- destroy the troublemaker. If our spouse turns out to be the troublemaker, we find ourselves hurting the one we've promised to cherish and protect. When we're angry we don't care about our spouse's feelings and we are willing to scorch the culprit if it prevents us from being hurt again.

But in the end, we have nothing to gain from anger. Punishment does not solve marital problems; it only makes your punished spouse want to inflict punishment on you, or if that doesn't work, leave you. When you become angry with your spouse, you threaten your spouse's safety and security -- you fail to provide protection. Your spouse rises to the challenge and tries to destroy you in retaliation. When anger wins, love loses.

Each of us has an arsenal of weapons we use when we're angry. If we think someone deserves to be punished, we unlock the gate and select an appropriate weapon.

Sometimes the weapons are verbal (ridicule and sarcasm), sometimes they're devious plots to cause suffering, and sometimes they're physical. But they all have one thing in common: they are designed to hurt people. Since our spouses are at such close range, we can use our weapons to hurt them the most.

Some of the husbands and wives I've counseled have fairly harmless arsenals, maybe just a few awkward efforts at ridicule. Others are armed to nuclear proportions; their spouses' very lives are in danger. The more dangerous your weapons are, the more important it is to control your temper. If you've ever lost your temper in a way that has caused your spouse great pain and suffering, you know you cannot afford to lose your temper again. You must go to extreme lengths to protect your spouse from yourself.

Instincts often help habits develop. An angry outburst is a good example of this. I've seen what looks like an angry outburst at the moment of a child's birth, and we can be assured that there wasn't much learning that caused that behavior. And as a child grows, the way anger is expressed becomes increasingly sophisticated. But it isn't the instinct that's becoming sophisticated -- it's the developing habit of an angry outburst, supported by the instinct, that makes it sophisticated. In marriage, one of our most destructive behaviors is an angry outburst, where we intentionally try to hurt our spouse and cause massive damage. But it's something we do naturally -- it's a habit that is developed by an instinct.

We can't change our instincts, but we can short-circuit their approach to a problem. If I have an instinct to have angry outbursts, it doesn't mean that I must go around losing my temper. I can create new habits that keep my anger in check. Habits that override inappropriate instincts are usually more difficult to create than habits that are not instinct driven, but it can be done. And in marriage, it must be done if you want to fall in love and stay in love.

Most effective anger management training programs focus attention on the creation of short-circuiting habits. Whenever a person begins to feel angry, he or she practices a behavior that has been shown to prevent an outburst. In the beginning, the new behavior is a conscious choice, something that is done regardless of how it feels to do it. Walking away from a frustrating situation is one example of a behavior that can short-circuit an angry outburst. Another is to follow a routine that relaxes your muscles and lowers adrenalin in your system. Eventually, with practice, the behavior that has proven effective in short-circuiting an angry outburst becomes a habit. Whenever the person begins to feel angry, the habit kicks in and angry outbursts are overcome.

My approach to anger management focuses attention on the same short-circuiting strategies that most other anger management programs stress. But I add something that most other plans neglect. I try to help my client overcome all abusive behavior, beginning with selfish demands, because that's where abuse usually begins. From there, I teach a client to stop making disrespectful judgments, and then he or she is finally in a better position to getangry outbursts under control. The underlying theme of this approach to anger management is to make my client aware of the fact that he or she has no right trying to control anyone else, regardless of what that person is doing. From there we go on to create habits that take the place of demands, disrespect and anger, so that my client can get what he or she needs from their spouse without being controlling.

Remember, in marriage you can be your spouse's greatest source of pleasure, but you can also be your spouse's greatest source of pain, particularly if you use the stupid and abusive strategies of demands, disrespect and anger to try to get what you need in marriage. If you use them, you are almost sure to lose your spouse's love for you.

Disrespectful Judgements

Article accessed from: http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi3402_disrespect.html
Disrespectful Judgments
When requests don't get you what you want, and demands don't work either, our instincts and habits often provide us with another stupid and abusive strategy -- disrespectful judgments. Without a doubt, demands are abusive, but disrespectful judgments often make demands seem merciful in comparison.

In the final analysis, disrespectful judgments represent an effort to force our spouses to give us what we want in marriage, but it's often cleverly disguised. Instead of making an outright demand, we present our problem as if it were really our spouse's personal shortcoming. We try to "straighten out" our spouse in an effort to get our way.

At the time we rationalize our disrespect by convincing ourselves that we're doing our spouses a big favor, to lift them from the darkness of their confusion into the light of our superior perspective. If they would only follow our advice, we tell ourselves, they could avoid many of life's pitfalls-and we would also get what we want.

A disrespectful judgment occurs whenever one spouse tries to impose a system of values and beliefs on the other. When a husband tries to force his point of view on his wife, he's just asking for trouble. When a wife assumes that her own views are right and her husband is woefully misguided -- and tells him so -- she enters a minefield.

In most cases, a disrespectful judgment is simply a sophisticated way of getting what one spouse wants from the other. But even when there are the purest motives, it's still a stupid and abusive strategy. It's stupid because it doesn't work, and it's abusive because it causes unhappiness. If we think we have the right -- even the responsibility -- to impose our view on our spouses, our efforts will almost invariably be interpreted as personally threatening, arrogant, rude, and incredibly disrespectful.

How can you know if you're a perpetrator of disrespectful judgments? The simplest way to find out is to ask your spouse. But you may be a little confused as to what exactly you should ask. To help you ask the right questions, I've provided you the Disrespectful Judgments Questionnaire:
Disrespectful Judgments Questionnaire

Circle the number that best represents your feelings about the way your spouse tries to influence your attitudes, beliefs, and behavior. If you circle a number greater than 1 for any question, try to think of an example that you can share with your spouse and write it on a sheet of paper.
1. Does your spouse ever try to "straighten you out?"
Almost Never---------------Sometimes----------Much of the Time
1----------2----------3----------4----------5----------6----------7
2. Does your spouse ever lecture you instead of respectfully discussing issues?
Almost Never---------------Sometimes----------Much of the Time
1----------2----------3----------4----------5----------6----------7
3. Does your spouse seem to feel that his or her opinion is superior to yours?
Almost Never---------------Sometimes----------Much of the Time
1----------2----------3----------4----------5----------6----------7
4. When you and your spouse discuss an issue, does he or she interrupt you or talk so much that you are prevented from having a chance to explain your position?
Almost Never---------------Sometimes----------Much of the Time
1----------2----------3----------4----------5----------6----------7
5. Are you afraid to discuss your points of view with your spouse?
Almost Never---------------Sometimes----------Much of the Time
1----------2----------3----------4----------5----------6----------7
6. Does your spouse ever ridicule your point of view?
Almost Never---------------Sometimes----------Much of the Time
1----------2----------3----------4----------5----------6----------7

The scoring for this questionnaire is simple. Unless all of your spouse's answers are "1," you're probably engaging in disrespectful judgments. Almost all of us are guilty of this Love Buster from time to time; so don't be alarmed if you get some twos or threes. But if your spouse gave you any fours, fives, sixes, or sevens, you're at risk to lose your spouse's love for you because your disrespectful judgments are rising to the level of abuse.

If your spouse identifies you as one who makes disrespectful judgments, you may be tempted to make yet another disrespectful judgment and claim that he or she is wrong! Resist that temptation at all costs because in every case of abuse, the victim is a far better judge of its existence than the perpetrator. Take his or her word for it, and start working on a plan to eliminate whatever it is your spouse interprets as disrespect.

When we try to impose our opinions on our spouses, we imply that they have poor judgment. That's disrespectful. We may not say this in so many words, but it's the clear message that they hear. If we valued their judgment more, we might question our own opinions. What if they're right, and we're wrong?

I'm not saying that you can't disagree with your spouse. But I want you to respectfully disagree. Try to understand your spouse's reasoning. Present the information that brought you to your opinion and listen to the information your spouse brings. Entertain the possibility that you might change your own mind, instead of just pointing out how wrong your spouse is.

That's how respectful persuasion works. You see, each of you brings two things into your marriage -- wisdom and foolishness. Your marriage will thrive when you blend your value systems, with each one's wisdom overriding the other's foolishness. By sharing your ideas, sorting through the pros and cons, you can create a belief system superior to what either of you had alone. But unless you approach the task with mutual respect, the process won't work and you will destroy your love for each other in the process.

In most cases, disrespectful judgments are nothing more than stupid and abusive attempts to get what you want in your marriage. As is the case with demands, disrespect doesn't work -- it's simply a form of verbal abuse.

Selfish Demands... An exerpt

This is an article I just read... It rings true to me so I decided to post it here. It can be accessed at: http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi3404_selfish.html

Selfish Demands

We were all born with instincts to help us survive the trials and travails of life. Some instincts are very helpful and others are downright stupid and abusive. One of our more stupid and abusive instincts, especially in marriage, is making demands.

If we make a request for something we want or need, and the request is turned down, our instincts encourage us to take more forceful steps. And the first thing that comes to mind is usually a demand.

Demands carry a threat of punishment -- an if-you-refuse-me-you'll- regret-it kind of thing. In other words, you may dislike what I want, but if you don't do it, I'll see it it that you suffer even greater pain.

People who make demands don't seem to care how others feel. They think only of their own needs. "If you find it unpleasant to do what I want, tough! And if you refuse, I'll make it even tougher," is what they seem to be saying.

Demands depend on power. They don't work unless the demanding one has the power to make good on his threats. But who has power in marriage? Ideally, there is shared power, the husband and wife working together to accomplish mutual objectives. But when one spouse starts making demands-along with threats that are at least implied-it's a power play. The threatened spouse often strikes back, fighting fire with fire, power with power. Suddenly, it's a test of power-who will win the battle?

If the demanding partner doesn't have enough power to follow through with the threat, he or she often receives punishment, at least in the form of ridicule. But if power is fairly equal between a husband and wife, a battle rages until one or the other surrenders. In the end, the one meeting the demand feels deep resentment and is less likely to meet the need in the future. When the demand is not met, both spouses feel resentment.

I want you and your spouse to get from each other what you need most in your marriage. I want you to meet each other's emotional needs and be there for each other when you need help. But let me assure you that demands will not get the job done.

When I ask my wife, Joyce, to do something for me, she may cheerfully agree to it-or she may express her reluctance. This reluctance may be due to any number of things-her needs, her comfort level, or her sense of what's wise or fair.

If I push my request, making it a demand, what am I doing? I am trying to override her reluctance. I am declaring that my wishes are more important than her feelings. And I'm threatening to cause her some distress if she doesn't do what I want.

She now must choose one of two evils-my "punishment" on the one hand or whatever made her reluctant on the other. She may ultimately agree to my demand, but she won't be happy about it. I may get my way, but I'm gaining at her expense. My gain is her loss. And she will most certainly feel used.

"But you don't know my husband!" some wife might say. "He lies around the house all night and I can't get him to do a thing. The only time he lifts a finger is to press the remote control. If I don't demand that he get up and help me, nothing would get done."

"You can't be talking about my wife," a husband might say. "She only thinks about herself! She spends her whole life shopping and going out with her friends. If I didn't demand that she stay at home once in a while, I'd never see her."

Without a doubt, you and your spouse need to find an effective way to motivate each other to meet your needs. But demands are nothing short of abuse. In fact, it's usually the first stage of verbal abuse that ultimately leads to fights in marriage.

If you make demands of your spouse and expect obedience, you are being controlling and manipulative. Your spouse will try to escape your abuse, and instead of becoming responsive to your needs, he or she will have as little to do with you as possible. Is that what you want? Do you want to drive your spouse away from you?

Neither of you is a sergeant and neither of you is a private. You do not have the right to tell each other what to do, and if you try, you will find that it doesn't work. If you try to force your spouse to meet your needs, it becomes a temporary solution at best, and resentment is sure to rear it's ugly head. Demands and other forms of manipulation do not build compatibility; they build resentment.

There is a wise alternative to selfish demands, and that's thoughtful requests. This approach to getting what you need from each other begins by simply explaining what you would like, and asking your spouse how he or she would feel fulfilling your request. If he or she indicates that the request will be unpleasant to fulfill, discuss alternative ways your spouse could help you that would not be unpleasant.

"I've already tried that, and it doesn't work," may be your immediate reaction. It may be that he or she simply indicates that whatever it is you want isn't something they want to do. But that's where negotiation should begin. If you become a skilled negotiator, you will accept a negative reaction and try to figure out a way for your spouse to help enthusiastically with whatever it is you want.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Back at it...

I seem to totally neglect this blog... I'm so sorry.

So I'm not sure where to start, but what I do know is that we're still working on things. He seems to be very sensitive to what I say and the way I say things... he's a very sensitive man, although you wouldn't know it to look at him or even to talk to him initially. I'll give you an example: Last night, he was listing the kids in his family off in order of age, he inverted the order of him and his older brother so I made a joke (using sarcasm) "You know _____ is older than you right?!" and I giggled. He saw it as me rubbing in his mistake and he got a little upset, so I did too. But I just sat there quietly while he did his thing. A few minutes later, he asks me what's wrong and I told him that he was rude to me for no reason and then we talked about it, RATIONALLY, and he apologized! Not only did he apologize then, but he apologized several other times last night, simply because I was able to keep my cool when he overreacted which gave him the time to evaluate what he said and then he came to apologize :) We're making progress together.

Some days are really bad and other days are great... most days fall somewhere in the middle... I'm hoping that as soon as house arrest is over, that things will get better...

I do have some reservations and fears about all of this ending though. I like that he's home and he's around to do stuff with... I'm worried we won't see eachother as often when he's 'free' but on the flip side, I look forward to being able to do things with him and go places together again!! I want to go out for supper and go for walks together and drives together... i want to go out of town together and go camping... I just want to do things OUT of the house with him and that day is coming very quickly! Less than 1 month away!

On to me: I am trying very hard to work on my temper... I don't understand why I let it get away from me so often. At work, I will always maintain my composure... that's proof that I KNOW HOW to do it, I just don't translate it to my personal/private life I guess. But, I'm working on it, trying to be more observant and trying to use different tricks and techniques. This is a big help... my temper ALWAYS escalates things... so now that I have seen how well he responds when I keep my temper in check, I'm going to put even more effort into it because it WORKS!!

On another note: We're having more sex than we've had in a long time and it's GOOOOOOOD! WOW! We just passed our 2 year anniversary and although our sex life has decreased from when we first started dating, it's back up to more than acceptable!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I was slacking...

I can't believe that it has been so long since I last posted on here. So much has changed.

I think Y and I are finally finding our groove... starting to really understand eachother. As I have said before and am about to say again, it's not that we don't argue anymore but it's more about the way that we argue. I think we're being more fair with eachother. We're not being petty anymore and we're not trying to push eachothers buttons... we get upset and we eventually talk about it and then we move on... The craziest part is that sometimes we can mopve on without even talking it out.

I think there are still some underlying issues... maybe some misconceptions and preconcieved notions bubbling under the surface but we deal with them as they come up. Not only are they dealt with, but we try to actually point them out so that the other person if more aware.

This all makes us sound like some Dr. Phil couple, but we're really not! Here's what I'm trying to do and the background that goes along with it: I run workshops on communication and active listening... from this I have come to realize that I may not have been being a very good communicator and Y always said I didn't REALLY listen to him, sooooo... I decided I'd try some of the stuff I'm teaching in the workshop. I'm learning to really listen to what he's telling me, I'm working on not yelling anymore, I'm working on being more responsive than reactive and I'm trying to respond based on intellect rather than emotion.

Ok, I know this all sounds crazy, but it's helping and we're doing better!

I'll elaborate further in my next post.
~W

Sunday, May 20, 2007

It's been a while

It's been over a month since I last updated so I decided I'd better get to it.



Where do I begin? My last post said that we were all back to a good place in our relationship... I guess it remains true. I'm not saying that we haven't argued or bickered or anything, all I'm saying is we're happy again...


Here's the thing: I'm still absolutely HATING my job... well, mostly my boss. I'm not sure if she really understands the way she speaks to me, I don't know if she even cares. So having said this, most days when I get home from work, I AM MISERABLE and I tend to take it out on Y. NOT FAIR! I know this already... but it happens... I am working on it, but it's almost impossible for me to seperate the two. I guess that's gunna take a lot more work!

Since Saturday Y and I have not really been talking. We've been making rude remarks to eachother and trying to stay out of eachother's way... we have a small(er) apartment, so it's really hard to avoid eachother. Now that you know the background, I can tell you that I ALMOST left lastnight... I was ready to go because no matter what I did or said, it didn't change anything... I kept on trying and then out of anger he laughed at me and told me to stop trying... I LOST IT and walked away. I was ready to stop trying... AT THE TIME.

Once I calmed myself down, we argued more, but not the usual argument. It was an argument where neither or us really seemed to care; almost like we were just blowing off steam. He decided he wanted to watch Pirates of the Carribbean 3 and I got upset, because we ALWAYS watch movies together. We move the couch to the computer and watch movies. So, I let him know how I was feeling and he said that he didn't care; but he didn't watch the movie.

In fact, we ended up watching the movie together. We moved the couch and he layed on one end and I took the other. Eventually, I asked if I could lay with him and he said YES, so I slid into his armpit crease (you know where that is) and it felt so good. After a few minutes he started hugging me close and pressed his cheek to my forehead: IT FELT SO RIGHT. I looked up at him and kissed him SOMETHING WE HAVEN'T DONE IN 3 days or so, and we just kept on kissing and kissing and kissing and then we had the most AMAZINGLY HOT SEX... Like it used to be when we first got together. It started in the livingroom and then we had to move to the bedroom because we have a jealous little cat who tends to involve herself more than she should... so we went to the room and it was amazing. I've always heard about make-up sex but we had never had it and I'm not sure that I would classify this as make-up sex... more like something that we both wanted at the same time and it came as a relief for both of us; neither of us got rejected and today... well, today everything is good.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

We're making it work!

Finally,
A little peace in this house! We're back to the way we should be! We're laughing and joking and doing things together... again.

I was talking to a friend of mine who's been married about a year and a half and he was saying that they're only just getting into the flow of things... he said he's experienced the most intense highs and the lowest lows since being married, but they're committed, not giving up and they know they're in it for life.

It's crazy to think about this stuff. Oh well, I'm out of time.