You are here

Newsletter Vol. # 60 That's how I see it!

What you're going to get in this weeks newsletter:
     Friendship in a Relationship
     Did You Know (3)
     Friends and Family Improve our Health
     Reader Response
     Something about snapping

Friendship in a Relationship

Either they argued loudly and often, or didn't speak to each other for weeks at a time.

Since day one of their relationship, her biggest complaint was, "He's always out with the boys." While he had many male friends upon whom he depended for his social life-fishing, pool, going to hockey and baseball games, and drinking beer into the early morning-his wife of 21 years was not included. Twenty-one years of marriage and, according to her, his newest "best friend" was a neighbour he'd only recently met.

The person who replaced her and with whom he spent most of his time just happened to own an antique automobile and a small refrigerator in his garage. She explained to me that in the past, she had tried everything to get his attention. But now even her tears and angry outbursts were falling on deaf ears. She was becoming desperate.

I made the comment, "It sounds to me like you and your husband are not very friendly, and are not good friends. That he sees 'the boys' as being his friends and not you."

"You think?" was her sarcastic response. "We're not even close to being friends." Her response prompted me to do some serious thinking about the role of friendship in the context of an intimate relationship, and my response to her was:

When we first start a relationship with someone we often want to be with and do everything with them. In time, this can change as a result of the pressures of work, children, aging parents, health issues, and the "power dynamics" that evolve between individuals who live together. Change is good, healthy and inevitable. But when one partner changes so much that they go from being your "best friend" to your "chief antagonist ", then the relationship experiences much distress.

That's what had happened to this woman and her husband. They had become "worst friends".

Her curiosity was heightened when I suggested to her that "Someone has to break the deadlock you've found yourselves in. And it might as well be you." In fact, it had to be her because he refused to attend the session.

The challenge I suggested was that she act "as if" she were his best friend for the next several weeks and monitor whatever changes occurred. She thought about it, shrugged her shoulders, smiled wryly, and said, "Sure." Then, at some point in the future, after he had an opportunity to experience her change in behaviour, she was to talk with him about the concept of friendship in their relationship and how this might lead to them treating each other much better than they were.

All too often, partners talk about what they need to do to make things better. But they either never get around to making the changes-procrastination-or they become so annoyed at their partner's perceived "lack of trying" that they give up and revert back to old behaviours.

My client agreed to say nothing about what she was doing for several weeks-being his best friend-and then to ask him if he was aware of any changes in her behaviour. When she felt that enough time had passed and her behaviour was noticeable to him, she was to ask him if he liked and appreciated these changes. She was to then engage him in a conversation about the importance of friendship in a relationship. This was a plan based on "change first and talk about it later".

In situations such as the one experienced by this client, people often talk about making major changes in their behaviour after they have had a crisis or big blow-up with their partner. But what I often suggest instead is a discipline where you practice being your partner's "best friend" for at least a two-week period. Stick with your plan no matter how they act. And then "talk" about your behaviour and what they "actually" experienced during that period. "Do" (action) rather than "talk" (theory) about what you should do or are going to do.

If you are considering implementing the "best friend" practice to your own relationship, I would suggest that you think very seriously about two questions-do you really want this person for a friend, and do you really want to be friendly to this person?

Don't react too quickly or get too glib with the "Of course; they're my partner" response. Being a friend is hard work, time consuming, and you have to sacrifice. If you're going to put the energy into working at this relationship and at least one of you hasn't for quite awhile, then let's be really sure we care for this person and that we want them to care about us.

Do you really want this person to be friendly toward you?
Do you really want to put the energy into being a friend to this person?

Be careful what you agree to!

This concept was taken from Dan's first book, Finding Balance. For more information about this book and his yet to be released book, Communication & Relationships click this link  and check under Site Navigation.

Did you know

3 million Canadians aged 20-39 are inactive and 2.5 million are overweight or obese. In a survey of 2000 people, the heart and stroke foundation found that 62 per cent intentionally lost 5 pounds or more over the past five years, but failed to keep it. Of those who were overweight or obese to begin with, 70 per cent regained all the weight or even more.

On average, every attempt to lose weight by a Canadian adult costs $500, whether it's a one-time investment or a multi-week program.

Friends And Family-Improve Our Health

Nearly 100 newlywed couples still in a state of marital bliss were asked to resolve an issue on which they didn't see eye-to-eye. The more sarcastic and nasty they were, the more their immune system suffers.

In a study of 86 women diagnosed with breast cancer, the 50 who met once a week to share their fears and advice lived significantly longer (an average of 18 months) than those who didn't participate in a discussion group.

A group of 276 healthy men and women were given nose drops containing a common cold virus. Result: the people with more social ties are better able to resist infection than those who had a limited social network.

Positive relationships are crucial for physical and mental well-being; by contrast, the absence of such connections is proving to be detrimental. Research shows that women's immune system suffer from a lack of connection, while men's cardiovascular systems are affected. The lack of social relationships constitutes a major health hazard that rivals the effects of risks, such as smoking, high blood pressure and lack of exercise. And it isn't just the presence or absence of relationships that matters; it is the quality of our connections with others that deeply impacts our physiology.

Janice-Kiecolt Glaser found that couples suffer rapid rises in blood pressure when hostility creeps into their attempt to resolve every day conflicts. She found this hostility could cause disarray in the neuroendocrine system, which in turn can have deleterious effects on immune function, hormonal imbalances and cardiovascular health.

It turns out that women suffer bigger drops in immune function in response to conflict. They are more responsive to negative marital interactions than men. Women carry most of the burden of unhappiness when close relationships aren't going well, which might explain why they initiate than two-thirds of all separations.

A longing for stable relationships is a fundamental human need. It has only two requirements: regular contact and persistent demonstrations of caring. Apparently we need to belong- and to be reassured that we belong. The need for acceptance is built in, down to the very marrow of our bones. Feeling accepted is downright magical in relationships.

Did you know

Coffee addicts with a specific gene had a 64 per cent greater risk of heart attack. Just what the gene is or what we can do about it at this time is yet to be determined.

Reader Response

Yes I totally agree with all of this. They are having hard time coming up with more money for retirement for the Police Dept. Meanwhile if I am not mistaken the City offers retired employees there sick time as pay if they don't use there sick days. (In response to the article, If Your Sick Stay Home But If Your Not..., newsletter #56)

Did you know

A new report projects that incidents of dementia will double every 20 years, and that the condition will affect 115 million by 2050. According to the world Alzheimer report, developing countries where life expectancy is rising should expect to be hit hardest- people in those countries will soon be living long enough to become victims of the disease. There is hope, though: 30 minutes of exercise every day can reduce your risk of developing dementia by as much as 35 per cent.

 Lord grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can & the friends to post my bail when I was finally snap!

Lets not snap! Lets workout a little, have some good conversation with our partner, take in a good movie, hug our kids (twice), and be a good friend.

If you are not already receiving the That's how I see it! Newsletter and would like to, click on and subscribe.