The ball may have dropped on Times Square and next time you write a check, remember it’s 2017 now, yet it is certainly not too late to usher in the best possible for 2017. Reading about New Year’s traditions the world around started me thinking about how much they teach about how to move forwards from challenges, especially if those challenges come in the form of relationship issues or marriage problems.
Here are a few particularly striking cross-cultural New Years traditions, and for each a few thoughts on what they can teach about making a new era for a relationship – whether it’s New Year’s Day or any of the other 364 days of the year.
The tradition: One Scottish tradition is “first-footing.” In the early moments of the New Year Scott’s visit their neighbors with gifts of coal for the fire or yummy shortbread.
The advice: When you want to put a relationship on new footing, a simple warm, nourishing gift or gesture can really help. That said, a loving note or a bouquet of flowers might be more appropriate than coal.
The tradition: A silver or gold coin is baked into St. Basil’s cake. Whoever finds the gold coin will be especially lucky in the upcoming year.
The advice: When eating your figurative cake (that would be gong through life in your relationship), look for the gold coin that might be hidden within. Keeping your focus on the positive moments or hidden treasures helps everyone to feel more appreciated!
The tradition: At midnight Buddhist temples strike their gongs 108 time to try to expel 108 kinds of human weaknesses.
The advice: Everyone has weaknesses. At the same time, learning about common relationship mistakes and then calling out loudly to yourself each time you slip into an “oops” will help you bring in skills and strengths in place of those weaknesses.
We hear from Power of Two members everyday. That’s because every member is assigned a real live person to be there marriage coach. At Power of Two our online marriage chat based coaching helps our members apply the content they are learning. Our coaches review all your work and give you feedback and encouragement. Their answers are never canned. Each coach listens to you and your situation and sends help just for you.
We are just so thankful & it’s been great to know from the beginning that anytime of the day or night I can just email my comments,questions to my coach. I don’t know anywhere else where that wonderful service is available, because I don’t think it is available anywhere else! We are just so fortunate to have the skills of all involved at PO2 to assist us all in our quest for good communication in our marriages resulting in a closer relationship with out spouse. — Jenny
And here’s how online marriage chat based coaching helped another member.
Thank you, Linda! I really like this program as it’s getting me to think about my approach to our relationship (and also allows me to see where I have been obstinate and reactive, which of course didn’t get me the desired result and just left both of us more upset.) and I am practicing my fledgling skills in our limited contact with one another. So far we are 2 for two (from my end, at least) in our interactions this week, so I take that as a good thing. 🙂 I’ll keep working through these modules. Thank you again for being there and being so supportive. I really appreciate it. — K.O.
Online marriage chat based counseling gets you the right information with a real human to help you make changes for the better!
I just listened to the podcast that you attached and appreciate that you sent me something right on target for where I am up to now. It was a great reminder of how things could work better and I’ll try. Getting this message from you makes the site so interactive and I really love the personal guidance.
Marriage, politics, Thanksgiving — a tricky triad at any time! And this year, with all the post-election processing, it may be especially challenging to manage everyone around the table. So, how can you keep marriage, politics and Thanksgiving from undoing each other? How can you keep political tensions at the table from ruining your carefully basted Turkey?
First, focus on the basics when it comes to communication skills. That means be a super skilled listener and speaker. When listening, hard as it may be, find something that makes sense about what the other person is saying. No question that can be a challenge if you’re seated next to a friend or family member whose politics are diametrically opposed to yours, and at the same time, listen hard and think carefully as there almost always is a core kernel one can agree with in any political opinion.
At the same time, be careful when speaking. It’s easy to generalize and talk in a way that assumes others share your perspectives. Express your opinions as just that, your opinions. Stick to “I” statements. Be wary of accidentally including others by saying things like “we need to,” or “our country would be better if . . . ” A simple, “I believe in” or “I’m worried that. . . ” will be less likely to evoke a defensive response.
Power of Two coaches have many more tips on how to talk and listen to avoid marriage problems.
One more tip that’s sure to work if things are really tense at your table. Focus on the food! For one day, put politics aside and enjoy everyone’s cooking. Feel thankful for all that is in front of you and keep the conversation there as well.
It may sound a bit far fetched, that said if you’re facing marriage problems, paddle ball may be just the sport for you!
Side note: We went to the beach today for a little end of season visit. As the weather was getting chilly, there weren’t to many swimmers, but kites, paddle ball and frisbee tossing were all the rage.
So, back to paddle ball. We were sitting next to a young couple who clearly loved paddle ball. Plink, plink, plink, plink went their little ball back and forth, forth and back.
Distracted from my book, I started to think about marriage problems and what could be learned from this couple’s plink, plink plinking. Here’s a few of my musings.
Keep track of how many in a row you two can get together. Marriage problems only get worse if you keep score about who did what wrong. If you want to assign a score, count how many “hits” you get together. Can you do 5 conversation turns and keep it happy? 20? A whole day?
Pick a pace that’s nice for both of you. It was clear the guy in this couple could have hit the ball a lot harder. And he didn’t. He went for enjoying the game together instead of smashing every ball. Same in marriage. Marriage problems can take some time to sort out. Find a pace that works for both of you.
Enjoy each others company. That’s the real reason to play paddle ball — it’s a fun thing to do on the beach together. Marriage help goes the same way. It often is best to try to start with remembering how to have some fun together.
Be active. OK, so I was glued to my beach chair all day. And, I could see how nice it was for the paddle ballers to be actively moving around. When facing marriage problems be active about learning new skills. And literally, be active too – – amazing how more effective conversations sometimes are while walking around the block.
Have you ever felt like anger played a productive role in your relationship? Fighting can sometimes be confused with passion. Disagreements are natural and unavoidable, anger and fighting on the other hand are unproductive and damaging to a marriage. If you can relate to any of these unhealthy communication habits it’s time to learn a better way. Save the passion for the bedroom!
The 4 most common unhealthy communication habits:
1. Yielding: Yielding means giving up on the issue to avoid an argument. This habit results in an imbalance of power: one person wins and the other looses– and leads to symptoms like depression and resentment. Plus, the problem starting the arguments never gets solved!
2. Freezing: Freezing happens when you refuse to talk about the issue. You may avoid starting the conversation at all, or walk away and shut down during the conversation. When communication freezes, you build icy walls of stress and tension in your marriage, leading to feelings of anxiety and emotional distance. Continue reading 4 unhealthy communication habits and what to do instead.
Have you ever wished for a better marriage? If the answer is YES, then you are not alone! Marriage is for better and worse, it’s pretty easy to imagine what the better part will look like; hand in hand walks on the beach, a glass of wine after a tough day, Netflix and chill anyone? The part that is hard to imagine is the worse; the fights, the toxic talk mumbled under your breath while your partner does something annoying in the next room. Even more troubling is a lack of intimacy, lying and a breach of trust or infidelity. Many couples wait until the the eleventh hour to reach out for help. By that time the thought of a light hearted roll in the hay may seem like a galaxy far, far away.
Traditional couples counseling often focuses on other concerns first. How is the communication? Do you fight? What are the critical conflicts that surface again and again?
How is your sex life may only enter the conversation (or be addressed in a significant way) later on down the line. Is that the right approach? A new breed of therapists are tackling these issues in a different order. In a recent New York Times article the author reported on and interesting new convergence of therapist focusing on sex first.
So, is figuring out the sex puzzle going to give you a better marriage?
Marriage coaching is the primary focus of The Power of Two Online program. So what does a marriage coach do? Marriage coaching is all about education. Many people come to romantic relationships in life with a roseate glow. Hoping that the love and affection felt today will last through the years. Eventually, many couples find that the strain of daily life together, combined with a lack of relationship skills and bad communication habits lead to discontent. Anger and contempt develop towards your partner and you find yourself wondering what happened.
Couples that do thrive in the long run are couples who either bring with them relationship skills or (more likely) they learn them along the way. At Power of Two this is what marriage coaching is all about. Most people learn about relationships from the families they grow up in. Unhealthy patterns and a lack of knowledge about what a healthy relationship is can lead to relationship problems.
A good marriage coach will empower a couple (or just one partner looking for help) with the tools and skills to communicate effectively and resolve conflict. It is possible to stay calm in the midst of a storm and develop and maintain that loving feeling that started it all.
A marriage coach is:
A trained educator. The Power of Two program is based on actual skills. You won’t hear advice about how you need to be a better communicator, you will learn HOW to be a better communicator. Skills for communication, collaborative decision making, keeping anger in check and out of your marriage and staying intimately connected are all part of the program. Think of it like a boot camp for your marriage.Continue reading Marriage coach or therapy, which one is right for you?
Have you heard of the term “dining dead”? In the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel asks “Are we like those bored couples you feel sorry for in restaurants?” Joel muses to himself. “Are we the dining dead?”
Can you save your marriage over dinner?
A recent New York Times article described this state as one in which a couple stops talking after many years of marriage finding themselves sitting across the table, wordless, with a vast distance between one another.
How does this happen?
So many couples are bursting with conversational energy when they first meet. There is much to discover; many evenings are spent talking into the wee hours. As time goes on the enthusiasm and excitement lessens and the day to day of life takes hold on conversations. Continue reading Save your marriage over dinner.
If you’ve been in a romantic relationship you have probably faced your own feelings of jealousy or been the recipient of accusations at one point or another. Even the strongest marriages might experience this uncomfortable feeling from time to time. So how do you deal with jealousy in your marriage?
A really important first step is to take some advice from this classic song…“before you accuse me, take a look at yourself!” If you find yourself experiencing jealousy it is important to first take stock of how your actions, behaviors or thoughts are contributing to the situation. Are you bringing old baggage or past familial experiences to bare in your current relationship. In cases of infidelity and jealousy both partners play a part and placing all the blame on one side of the scale is problematic. Once you have gained some understanding about your own thoughts and feelings it’s time to tackle the conversation with your partner.
Here is Dr. Hirsch’s 3 Step plan to deal with jealousy and get your relationship back on track:
Whether you are looking for help with a household project, care for a child or elderly parent or help with a medical issue you want to find the best help available. The same is true when looking for relationship help. Getting the best help starts with doing your research. The internet makes researching almost anything super easy and it’s a good place to start. Unfortunately, just like you can’t believe everything you hear, your can’t trust everything you read online. The open source nature of the web makes a huge amount of information available without filtering the value of what’s out there. It’s your job to dig a little deeper and think outside the box to make sure you find the best marriage counseling for you.
Here are a few tips for finding the best marriage counseling in your area.
Start by figuring out what kind of help you are looking for. Are you wanting a traditional approach to counseling? This often looks like you and your spouse sitting in a room for a series of sessions with a licensed marriage and family therapist. Maybe you are looking for a more intensive one time program like a marriage retreat? These sometimes require traveling or at the very least a dedicated weekend. They also often mean airing your laundry in a less private setting. There is a third option in online marriage help, programs like Power of Two. These are more self paced and tend to focus heavily on skill building with a coaching component. With an online program you don’t have to sit in a counselor’s waiting room with other patients, you’re not going to accidentally run into someone you know at the doctor’s office, and you don’t have to talk about your marriage with total strangers as you do with in-person, remote, or group counseling sessions. Counseling and marriage help are never a one size fits all deal, finding the right approach for you is an essential step. Continue reading How to find the best marriage counseling.