“8 Do’s and Don’ts Of Dealing With A Grumpy Spouse”!

June 19th, 2017

Is there anyone out there in readerland who has now, or has had in the past, a “grumpy spouse”? I didn’t think so, cuz I sure have not! Yet there are still some of those folks around. I know that because I see them in my office and occasionally run into them socially when my radar detector has not seen them coming!

At any rate I feel compelled to share this topic with you, in part to remind myself to not bring a “grumpy” face to my beloved Sherry. Jessica Dysart wrote an article with the above listed title. I share her eight with added thoughts of my own.

  1. DO: IDENTIFY THE REASON: It is a question worth asking – delicately.  Once you know the reason you, hopefully, can find the appropriate way to handle this uncomfortable situation. If this “grumpy” person persists for a while, it might be wise to see a therapist who can understand and help eradicate such a downer way of life.
  2. DON’T: TAKE IT PERSONALLY: Never get caught up in taking things personally from the git-go. When you observe the grumpy demeanor make a comment like this, “I see that you’re in a bad mood. Would you like to talk about it or would you prefer that I leave you alone?” If it turns out that you are the reason for the grumpiness, try not to get defensive. Stay engaged to try and understand the whole situation and then problem solve constructively.
  3. DO: USE HUMOR: Sometimes humor can be helpful. Oftentimes it can be harmful and make things worse. Be sure you know what you are doing here. If there is some tried and true humor that has a history of success, go for it. Personally I’m not a big fan of this. When I’m in a grumpy mood (rare as it may be J) I want to be left alone.
  4. DON’T: PUT THEM DOWN: Criticism, put downs, name calling, etc… don’t work! They just exacerbate the situation. Like I said before, if your spouse’s grumpy behavior persists longer than what you can handle, get some professional help.
  5. DO: TALK THE RIGHT WAY: Talking about the bad day or current bad mood may help – if the spouse is inclined to talk about it. If not, back off. And, if your spouse does want to talk, find out if you are to just listen or become a co-problem solver. Don’t attempt to “fix” the situation unless requested.
  6. DON’T: CONFRONT THEM (in the wrong way): Style is important here. Your words, tone of voice and body language can be huge turn offs and make the situation uglier. Come across caring and supportive, not combative or accusatory. Saying “what’s got into you” is a huge no-no!
  7. DON’T: LET IT AFFECT YOU: A spouse’s grumpiness can be infectious and transferable. Keep your emotional cool. Don’t make it your problem. Detach emotionally, and perhaps physically for a short time.
  8. DO: KNOW WHAT WORKS: Over time spouses get to know each other and determine the best way to deal with certain behaviors of the other. Once you have found a formula that works with some consistency, stay with it. Each individual relationship is unique and the appropriate successful style needs to be repeated. Hopefully the grumpy spouse goes there less and less in part because his/her loving spouse has read these tips and implements them, along with loving hugs of appreciation for the non grumpy days!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Father: “Leader of the Band”? Needs to be!

June 14th, 2017

This Sunday is Father’s Day.  If you are a father, what does it mean to you?  If you are a child, what does it mean to you?  Is the day important? Does it bring forth any particular thoughts and feelings? I hope that it does for it is important to reflect on the role of Father in the family.

As Father’s day approaches this year a particular song keeps coming to my mind.  It is an emotional song for many sons and daughters. It’s called “Leader of the Band” and sung by Dan Fogelberg.  Some of the lyrics are:

The leader of the band is tired

and his eyes are growing old,

but his blood runs through my instrument

and his song is in my soul.

 

I thank you for the kindness

and the times when you got tough.

And, Pap, I don’t think

I said, “I love you” near enough.

 

My life has been a poor attempt

to imitate the man.

I’m just a living legacy

to the leader of the band.

 

The Father sets the tone (or tune) in the family – good or bad.  The influence on the family, on kids, is very significant, both through heredity and example. The Father’s blood runs through us in many influential ways.

What has been the impact of your father on you?  Have you wanted to be like your father or have you chosen to modify or do the opposite?  Usually “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.  It is important to know who your father was and what his influence has been on you.  Even if you did not have a father present, that abandonment by him has deeply impacted you – perhaps in ways that you are not very in touch with.

The message here is to know the influence of your father on you.  Perhaps you could reflect on that, get in touch with the related feelings, and, perhaps, even share that with a significant other.

Also, those of you who are currently fathers, what kind are you? Where can improvement be made?  Dare you ask your children what kind of father you are or have been?  If improvement is called for, rise to the occasion.  A Father always has some influence.

Make no mistake, you are called to be the “Leader of the Band”.  Let the “blood run deep.” Bring forth a beautiful song of love!  HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

 

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates

 

“Caution: You Are In Your Comfort Zone”: Stagnating? Be Alerted!

June 9th, 2017

What’s wrong with my “comfort zone?” you may ask. I like being there is your probable response. Well, I have a perspective to offer you that maybe your “comfort zone” is not the best place for you to get all comfy in. I came across this concept from an article by Shelly Palmer who wrote an article entitled “Caution: You Are In Your Comfort Zone”. He writes compellingly about the danger of such existence. I would like to share some of his thoughts and add my own. Stay with me on this.

Mr. Palmers premise is that many people are uncomfortable engaging in thoughts that are outside of their personal perspective and bias and, thus, not open to changing some thoughts and behaviors accordingly. No change, no evolution, of who you are as a person is the result. Stagnation leads to disintegration.

Mr. Palmer uses the terms “echo chamber” and “reverberation” to explain his point of view. He says that the “echo chamber” is a place where like-minded people keep reinforcing each others’ views. After a while “reverberation” is the norm and your “comfort zone” is created. His argument is that “echo chambers” do not challenge our world views, they do not expand our minds, and they do not foster Socratic debate. They just blanket us in the comfort of what we want to hear. The “echo chamber is a closed-loop system that constantly feeds back on itself. Living in an echo chamber is not an evolutionary stable strategy.” He says we live in a “world with extraordinary filters. They can easily be programmed to only send us notifications of things we want to hear.”

The reason Mr. Palmer is encouraging people to get out of the “echo chamber comfort zone” is to invite people to be more open so that people can respect and understand other points of view. Fruitful dialogue ensues. Perhaps agreement is not the result, but perhaps seeds of a different way of thinking and acting may be planted.

Mr. Palmer says that if people do not get out of their “comfort zones” there will be “a cacophony of isolated echo chambers, each believing that they have the moral high ground, and each sure that their respective deity is on their side.” Isn’t it interesting to hear the various absolutes people us to buttress their opinion so that their view is the “right one”? Many people have trouble dealing with the grays of the world, the unclear, the relativity of many things. Rational thinking is overtaken by emotional “comfort zone” safety.

 

 

 

Respected Reader, are you stuck in your “comfort zone”, stifling new and challenging perspectives? Can you think of any particular areas where you get particularly defensive and/or adamant in your demeanor? Could others who know you well help you to know if you are or not? In my practice and observation through social media, I find a very rigid “hardening of the categories” present. Religion, politics, race, are some of the more fervently held “reverberations”. My hope is that my articles and this one in particular may encourage you to “think outside the box”, open the windows of your “echo chamber” and examine perspectives in some depth that are outside your “comfort zone”. It may be refreshing , stimulating, and motivating!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

A Couple’s Sex Life: Who, Why, How, When, & Where? Questions Worth Asking!

May 29th, 2017

Sex is not an easy subject for most people to talk about in any type of intimate sense. Sure,  the topic can raucously be thrown around, usually by those who have too much alcohol in them or those that are just crude. But for most couples discussing their sex life feels like going into the “danger zone”!

The focus of this article is about a couple making love, having a sex life that is satisfying throughout their relationship. Few couples attain a satisfying sex life through the duration of their relationship. Time, and other factors, often erode a good sex life. Sex is one of the main topics that I confront regularly in my office. I will try to break down this audacious topic into five provocative areas: Who, Why, How, When, and Where. Let’s see where this goes!

WHO: The individuals focused on, for the intent of this writing, are two people who are in love and committed to living together in a trusting monogamous relationship.

WHY: The premise is that these couples desire to share their love in a sensuous manner. They want it to be satisfying and enduring. Physical and emotional closeness, sometimes even spiritual, can take a couple to a very special place in their relationship. This bonding connection fuels further an adventurous life through the duration of their time together.

HOW: A couple’s sex life can get more challenging in the “how” portion of their experience. Significant variables emerge once a couple is past the primal early love-making that existed early on in their relationship. Physical and psychological issues emerge. These vary in their complexity and their duration. Examples of the physical would include pregnancy factors, ailments, injuries, obesity, medication limitation, position disagreements, aging challenges, alcohol, limping libido, etc…  Psychological factors include anger, embarrassment, infidelity, guilt, performance anxiety, lost feelings, stress, etc… .

WHEN: Over time the complexities of life can make it difficult to find the time to make love. Kids and their activities, job exhaustion, various commitments, too much TV time, differing priorities, etc… all can impact the frequency of love making.

WHERE: When younger, the “where” could be anywhere and everywhere. Many couples have some wild tales as to when they “did it” in some unique places and venues. Over time, for most couples, the daring places become less frequent, if at all. Simple routines emerge which is fine for many, boring for a few.

 

 

Respected Reader, I offer the above overview to encourage you to look at your sex life and see if it is satisfactory relative to the five factors listed – or, perhaps some other reason that you may be able to identify. I have been able to help many couples to develop an enhanced sex life. In some cases I work in concert with other medical professional to address those factors that are stifling. The health benefits, both physical and psychological, are too numerous to mention for those who partake in a satisfying sex life. Hope you are not missing out?!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

11 Ways To Instantly Connect With Anyone!

May 18th, 2017

The word “Connection” is popular parlance in our current culture. People use the word connection in a variety of situations. I focus on it here to assist individuals to establish a positive relationship with another person. This is not particularly easy for many people, yet it is a significant need. There is some solid research, such as that by Matthew Lieberman of UCLA, that suggests that being social and connecting with others is as fundamental a human need as food, shelter, and water.  We are hard wired to be social. Lieberman found that when we feel social pain, lack of connection, it impacts the brain in the same area as physical pain. The emptiness and loneliness I get from clients in my office consistently verifies this. Thus, the rationale for this writing.

You might think that connecting in some depth with another is a simple natural act. However, such factors as shyness, self-consciousness, cynicism, pride, competitiveness, jealousy and arrogance are effective blockers to a quality connection. Be aware if any of these pejorative idiosyncrasies are a part of your communication style.

Dr. Travis Bradberry has written a quality article with the above noted title. I will list the eleven ways and add my own commentary.

  1. LEAVE A STRONG FIRST IMPRESSION: Most people decide whether they like you or not within the first seven seconds of meeting you. They then spend the rest of the conversation justifying their initial reaction. Body language, tone, eye contact, etc… are key factors in making that good first impression.
  2. BE THE FIRST TO VENTURE BEYOND THE SUPERFICIAL: Move beyond the weather as a topic by sharing something a bit personal, something that is meaningful about you – without going on and on about it. Most of the time if you open up the other person will do the same. Superficial vapid banal conversation is boring and doesn’t make for connection.
  3. ASK GOOD QUESTIONS: Search for questions that help you understand what makes the other person tick, without getting too personal. Most people welcome your interest and want to talk about themselves.
  4. LEARN FROM THEM: By asking good questions you are showing an interest in knowing and learning from them. Thus, the other person feels important and more bonded to you.
  5. DON’T MAKE THEM REGRET REMOVING THE MASK: If a person does open up to you, continue to show interest and empathy even if their opinions do not jibe with yours.
  6. LOOK FOR THE GOOD IN THEM: Too often in our culture we look for the weakness in the other person. Thus, you can feel superior and judgmental, which keeps you psychologically safe, but disconnected. This is one of the most important lessons in life that I have learned and I try to do always, both personally and professionally.
  7. SMILE: People naturally mirror the body language of the person they are talking to. People like smiles and the persons that do it!
  8. USE THEIR NAME: Your name is an essential part of your identity and it is a bonding agent when used. Try to hear, remember, and use the other person’s name in conversation.
  9. FOLLOW THE PLATINUM RULE: This goes beyond the “golden rule”. This is about treating people the way THEY want to be treated. This makes the other person feel more comfortable, valued, and more likely to open up.
  10. DON’T MAKE IT A CONTEST: This encounter is not a one-up contest. Two egotistical persons really do not connect at any depth level.
  11. TURN OFF YOUR INNER VOICE: Too often your inner voice, thoughts going on in your head, stop you from really listening to the other person.

So, Respected Reader, if you have the desire to connect with someone beyond the superficial, use these tips. You may already be adept at such interaction, but these lessons can be reminder to use them or a source to expand your repertoire. Quality connections with good people feed the soul and enhance the quality of your life!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”     Socrates