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Newsletter Vol #78 Thats How I See It !

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                                  Couples Edition #2

Resentment Can Destroy A Marriage!

I was doing Anger Management with a client when I was literally "stopped in my tracks" by a realization. What hit me was the understanding that the two major feelings that drove anger were the same two feelings that drove many couples apart. I am talking about expectations and resentment. *

The true antidote for resentment is to see the positive in your partner. You need to choose to focus on the good person within instead of dwelling on your partner's rough exterior/reactive nature. Rough exteriors are sometimes created by the stress in one's life, lack of sleep, illness, disappointment, and other factors connected to a person's environment. When you choose to see the best in your partner, it is a powerful gift that may result in a more positive response. However, if one of the partners is working very hard at staying positive for a very long time and is met with a consistently negative response that is not tied into anything situational, counselling is recommended! If counselling is not helpful-- think what is best for the children.

Dr. Henry Newman, in his book Modern Youth And Marriage, makes this point:

Disillusion, of course, enters in time. There are no full-grown perfect beings. Sooner or later the frailties are recognized. But there is in most people a better self which the fallible self hides; and the greatest privilege of the married life is to be the one who assists the other more and more to do justice to that better possibility.

What an opportunity there is for partners to look beyond the "rough exterior" and see his or her "better possibility." By treating each other with respect rather than with resentment, you create opportunities for personal growth that make the partnership stronger, enhancing the relationship. (Dr. Greg Smalley, Fight Your Way To A Better Marriage)

Johann Wolfgang put it even more succinctly: "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of becoming."

* Resentment (with some people), immediate or long-term (that never got resolved), is behind the anger outburst.  It is a fixed belief that the person holds onto; they magnify the situation and the anger and rage do not dissipate. The situation seems like it will never be resolved!

Expectations not met trigger my anger (expectations of self, others, things, settings; if another person treats me unfairly, or if I am not treated according to my rules of fairness).

 Infidelity can lead to a wake up, a shake up, or a break up.

Gratitude and Appreciation

We know much more about couples that dislike each other
         than we do about couples who are doing well!

A study in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences included 50 couples that were together an average of 20.7 years. The purpose of the study was to examine the connection between feelings of gratitude, expressions of thanks to their partner and an overall satisfaction rate with their relationship.

I don't think this piece of research held any surprises. The more gratitude you express the more likely your partner will rate the relationship as a 'happy' one. However, it is possible that in some relationships where insincere expressions of gratitude have been used previously to manipulate, the partner will 'hear' a totally different message. 'Am I being appreciated, or rather manipulated or insulted?'

What comes first? 
             Giving appreciation and gratitude leads to a happy marriage
             A happy marriage leads to the expression of more gratitude

Stealing from the Behaviourists - "Change the behaviour and hope the feelings catch up". I am more in favour of "doing", that is, the giving of appreciation and gratitude, rather than "hoping" to feel happy and then giving.

I don't believe it is really so hard to hand out (as my granddaughter would say, "much") appreciation and feelings of gratitude. Perhaps this giving is the starting point to increased couple satisfaction - the more thank-you and appreciation a partner hears, the more satisfied and happy they could choose to be, and the more they would give. This isn't brain surgery!

What do you think? "The perfect person is perfectly real, meaning the perfect mixture of good, bad, smart, dumb etc.

Don't Fight-Express!

When you are in a relationship, "winning" ought not to be in your vocabulary. Fighting and arguing are all about somebody trying to win or be in control. In my years of counselling couples, I have found that success in a relationship is generally achieved when there is freedom to express one's self and be heard, along with a genuine willingness to really listen. Learn to state your Thoughts, Feelings, Values and Beliefs (TFVB)-and be proud of them! And then also be proud of your partner's TFVB, even if they are different to yours. Stop being so dogmatic when it comes to your own opinions and perceptions. After all, it's not like you have the inside track on all the "right" answers anyway; you only have the right answers for yourself. Of course, it is important to express yourself, but not with the tone of voice that says, "This is the only way to see this issue, (stupid!)." How else will the other person interpret your tone than as a put down or challenge? And once it has been received, the "fight will really be on". Instead, adopt the tone that says, "This is the way I see it, how do you see it?" and allow both parties to express themselves, be heard and feel respected. There is no need to fight or argue when you feel respected. You don't need to win, or even agree with your partner most of the time, but you always need to be respectful.            (Dan Rosin, "Finding Balance...")

Rule for heated discussions: "There can only be one crazy person in the room at a time."

Mixed Unions Most Effective!

According to the most recent National Household Survey, there were more than 360,000 mixed-race couples, either married or common law, in Canada in 2011. This compromises 4.6 per cent of all couples in private households. There are nearly 8,000,000 couples in Canada and the rate of growth for mixed unions is accelerating, having leapt from 2.6% in the 1991 census and 3.1% in 2001. In the past five years alone, the number of mixed unions is up by nearly one quarter, far outpacing the 5.1% growth for all legal couples over the same time. Apparently love is colour-blind.

A mixed union is defined by Statistics Canada as a conjugal relationship between two people who belong to different visible minority groups, or between one visible minority and one white. Mixed unions are more common with younger age groups. Higher education is also correlated with mixed unions.

As for attitudes, last year, a Gallup Poll announced that American approval of black-white marriages hit an all-time high of 87%, up from 4% in 1958. In Canada, 92% approved of mixed marriages.

In regards to religious prejudice, a major poll noted in MacLean's magazine in 2009, Angus Reid Strategies, found surprisingly low rates of acceptance for religious differences. It seems that religion remains a bigger issue in Canadian society than skin colour.

Politicians and Programs don't have nearly as much influence on prejudice as love does. Let's hope that love will one day conquer all!

Inspired by a MacLean's editorial

Got your supply of leaf bags? Some of us still need them.
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend, I know we did.