Category Archives for "Communication"

3 Keys to Rebuilding Trust in Your Marriage

By Dustin | Communication

It doesn’t matter if it’s your spouse, your kid, your co-worker or God – TRUST is just so important to any quality relationship.

Trust is a funny thing. We tend to assume the best for ourselves since we know our intent and the worst in others because we judge based only on the outcomes of their actions.

We can be especially distrusting if we’ve been hurt in the past…and we’ve all been hurt!

Trust Is Dynamic

If I asked you whether you trust your spouse, you could answer as “yes” or “no” (hopefully it’s yes).

But if I asked whether you trust him or her MORE or LESS than you did yesterday…or last year…or on your wedding day…the answer gets a lot more interesting.

That’s because the level of trust in our marriage is always changing.

You are either building up trust and intimacy or you’re letting it erode by your actions (or inaction).

On a day-to-day basis, you can strengthen the trust between you by spending quality time together, talking, having sex, making decisions together and doing all those little things we do together as a couple.

And of course you can slowly lose that trust when you act selfishly, don’t follow through on your promises, withhold sex or miss a date night.

Trust is a fickle beast, but it’s SO important to continue building up.

But It Can Be Broken VERY Quickly

We spend most of our married time making those gradual changes and enriching our trust over time.

But as we know all too well, there are those Trust Bombs that can destroy trust in an instant:

  • Having an affair
  • Lying about money
  • Keeping secrets and getting exposed
  • Talking about your spouse behind their back

In the blink of an eye, years of built-up trust can be destroyed. And it’s difficult to learn to forgive and start back down the road of building up trust and intimacy.

Take Action to Build Up the Trust

Whether you’re simply looking to grow in intimacy and learn how to deepen the trust in your marriage on a day-to-day basis or you’ve been scarred by a major breach of trust, the key is to take action.

Here are three strategies you can use to build or rebuild the trust in your relationship:

1. Bring in Back-Up Help

It’s easy to lose perspective on your own situation when you’re living in it.

Reach out and seek guidance and support from a coach, support group, counselor or trusted friend.  Be sure that any resource you seek out is Pro-Marriage and will work in the best interest of your marriage.

Caution: Do NOT seek out help from those that may make the situation worse.  This would include recently divorced friends, never-married friends or co-workers…

2. Commit to Finding the Good

When you’re feeling pain, it’s difficult to see the good in those that we love – but it’s essential to the reconciliation process.

Commit to giving your spouse at least one encouragement/compliment every day for the next week.  This will help turn the energy in your relationship from negative to positive, plus you’ll be reminded of the positive characteristics of your spouse.

You’ll find it super helpful to keep a journal during this time and track how your actions change the way you see, respect and start to rebuild trust in your husband or wife.

3. Declare that YOU Are Taking Action

In every relationship, there must be a leader when change is required.  Whether your trust was broken or you broke the trust of your spouse in some way, you have the opportunity to repair/forgive the broken trust and move forward.

But it requires commitment and real action.  In time, your spouse will come around but getting started on this path requires you to step up and be a leader in your marriage.

Trust is an essential and sometimes elusive element in every relationship.  

Put these strategies in place to deepen the trust in your marriage and reap the rewards of the contentment and happiness that lie on the other side of the rebuilding process.

The Art of Right Timing in Communication

By Dustin | Communication

You’re in penguin adorned pajamas headed to bed, then your partner starts to talk about their day.

Gritty stuff, but you are already half asleep, thinking of the two paragraphs you will read before being out like a light.

Out of caring, you valiantly try to keep track of the conversation, but you are already 30 minutes past your melatonin spike and starting to drift.

Ideal time for a conversation? Not so much.

Picking the right time, and sometimes place, can be the difference between being heard and your words missing their mark.

Thinking we have communicated but did not, creates resentment and frustration.

This applies to, “Hey, do you mind grabbing some milk on the way home?” as well as to, “I could use some thoughts about how to care for my mom after her surgery.”

Many times a day we speak and believe that our message was delivered. It is unfair to assume that just because you said it, it was heard and integrated. This is especially true if you are trying to communicate during periods of chaos or activity.

We also listen and believe we will process and remember what was said to us, even as we attempt to answer a text and feed the dog at the same time.

If your attention is not there, be honest and ask if you can discuss that at another time, with a specific time determined e.g., “Please give me five minutes, and I can come back with my full attention.”

People are forgetful and deluged with information every day.

Based on how they interact with it, determines how much they remember.

Find the best method for remembering something. If you want me to drop your clothes at the cleaners, leave them by the front door as well as talk to me about it and double check to ensure I heard you.

George Bernard Shaw, recipient of the 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Optimizing for right timing considers some basic factors:

  • What kind of conversation is it?
  • What do you need from it?
  • How much time do you need?
  • When is the best time for both of you for it to take place?

Do you need your partner to deeply remember what you said, including any actions that result, or do you just want to talk and need active listening, empathy and kindness?

Considering mood, even if you have your partner’s full attention, is crucial. Starting a conversation about buying a new car, while you partner just found a banking error will likely not lead to a new car out of the family budget. Give it a few days and then revisit.

When you do find the right time, here are some tips for optimizing the moment.

It may feel silly at first so go ahead and laugh, that makes a connection too:

  • Make eye contact and hold it for at least 10 seconds.
  • Reaching out and touching your partner, even just a brush on the sleeve or your hand on their heart, creates a connection.
  • Engage with words. A simple “hi” works and “I’m glad we have a few minutes to talk,” works too.

Create routine and structure around making time to talk.

Perhaps you take 15 minutes every evening to go over the day and talk about the next one. Deeper issues can be tackled as well as determining who is picking up the kids from school. Identify how you will work to create the routine together and find ways to keep each other accountable. If you have conflicts, reschedule the time, but avoid skipping it. That too becomes a habit.

Some ideas:

  • Give the time a visual cue. Put a note on the fridge, a cheesy decal that makes you smile on the bathroom mirror or if tech is your thing, make it an event in your calendar so it shows up on your phone or computer.
  • Tell your children and other family members that the time is set aside for you and unless there is something critical, it will remain sacred.
  • Find a place in your home that is comfortable to sit and see each other undisturbed, even if you ban the other household members from the kitchen and you set up two camp chairs.
  • Bring a beverage or dessert to the conversation and make that part of your ritual.
  • Take an evening walk together.

Right timing at its heart is an exercise in empathy and understanding.

What do I need and what does my partner need?

Do they look tired?

Am I just piling on what is already a full pile?

How can we make room for us in the pile?

Creating a safe space build on trust is important and allows each of you to say not now when needed or I need more without threatening the confidence in the partnership.

Asking to have your big and small needs met is a great first step, but setting each other up for success in meeting those needs is the second.

SANDRA FISCHER is the creator of Relationship Reveal: 64 Cards for Discovery, Skill-Building, and Growth, a new card game that gets to the heart of what matters in happy, healthy relationships.

Sandra writes for businesses, creates fiction and consults in communications, people development and optimizing organizational effectiveness. With 25 years of experience working for companies including Microsoft, Amazon and AT&T, her experiences have been as unique and broad as managing the homepage for Amazon.com to developing an online marketing campaign for a literary novel launch.

5 Surprising Factors of Long & Successful Marriages

By Dustin | Communication

5-surprising-factors-of-long-successful-marriages“Until death do us part” is a time-honored oath declared in most wedding ceremonies, but this promise is often difficult to maintain as numerous challenges wreak havoc on your marriage commitment.

In a society where divorce has become normalized – even expected – how can you withstand those bleak statistics and experience fulfillment with that same person to whom you vowed “I do?”

The following attributes can infuse your marriage with longevity and vitality for a lifetime.

Social Media Does Not Replace Interaction

The rampant accessibility of various networking sites can help you connect with people across the globe, but avid social media usage could alienate you from the relationship worth sustaining above all others – your spouse.

In fact, research conducted at Boston University in 2014 found that a 2% upsurge in nationwide divorce might correlate with increased Facebook consumption by 20%.

So, don’t mistake digital messaging for actual conversation – humans are communicative beings, and your partner is no exception.

Balance Togetherness and Alone Time

Couples who pursue both individual interests and shared activities tend to experience an increased sense of compatibility, engagement, mutual support and positive affirmation.

That’s because each person in the relationship needs separate and conjoined outlets to preserve their own identity, while finding common ground with their spouse.

Bring your unique passions into the marriage, but discover a new hobby you can cultivate side-by-side – whether it’s training for a marathon or taking lessons on the ukulele.

Prioritize Education and Employment

Financial strain can provoke numerous marital issues – deception, anxiety, selfishness, resentment and distrust – but a conscientious view of your job can give your partner the security and stability they desire.

Moreover, 35% of employed people get divorced, compared to 42% of unemployed people.

Obtaining higher education also projects to your spouse that you are dependable, motivated, and goal-oriented. The Washington Post even reports 10% fewer divorces among those with a bachelor’s degree.

Conscious Choices Exceed Rash Decisions

When faced with transitions – pursuing a career advancement, beginning a family or moving to another state, for example – couples are more equipped to reach a mutually beneficial verdict when they discuss their options in a thorough, candid and respectful manner.

This approach helps you both fight the urge to react impulsively based on heightened emotions, therefore avoiding tension, arguments or consequences.

While change is inevitable, your response can either uphold or derail the marriage bond.

Use Inclusive Pronouns

Rather than telling your spouse, “I think” or “I need,” research compiled at the University of California Berkeley indicates that “us” and “we” communicate a more unified front – particularly in disagreements.

Using these words during high-stress moments can reduce feelings of division and promote conflict resolution instead.

So, the next time you find yourselves embroiled in combat, remember that “I” or “me” conveys isolation, but “us” or “we” forges camaraderie…a basic ingredient for overcoming obstacles.

There you have it – five ways you can proactively help to ensure your marriage is lifelong…and happy.

How to Be a Good Husband: Here is Everything She Needs From You

By Dustin | Communication

how-to-be-a-good-husband-here-is-everything-she-needs-from-youWhether you’re single, thinking of engagement, or have been married for years, your lover will appreciate these tips on how to be a good husband.

We live in a world where you can find instruction manuals for almost anything online.

But there’s no Haynes manual on how to be a good husband.

We also don’t come into this world instinctively knowing how to do it.

With a 40-50% projected risk of divorce, it looks like a lot of couples could use some help.

The good news is, being a good husband is a skill you can learn!

Follow these tips and 10x your relationship!

1) Remember that she can sense how you’re feeling.

Men aren’t mind-readers. And while they’re much better at reading between the lines, neither are women.

But they can sense a shift in emotions. So if you’re in a bad mood, feeling resentful, or bitter, she’ll pick up on it.

Body language, tone of voice, choice of language – she’s unconsciously reading all of it, all of the time.

She might not even know she’s detecting your feelings on a conscious level. But she’ll react to them all the same.

So far, that sounds pretty negative. But the solution is surprisingly simple. If she’ll pick up on your bad emotions – she’ll also pick up on the good ones.

Respect her. Be authentic. Be honest.

This is particularly important if she senses something is wrong. If she asks you what’s up, don’t ignore her, even if you’re worried she won’t like the answer.

Howard Markman, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies, believes that “nagging is an enemy of love”.

2) So, don’t turn her into a nagging wife.

Be honest. Do you ever complain to your friends that your wife won’t stop nagging you?

Well if you want to be a good husband, then your first job is to realize that you’re not infallible.

If she asks you to do something, do it. Don’t keep putting it off until she has to ask you a million times.

She’s only nagging you because you’re ignoring what she’s asking.

You may get home from work and be too tired to do what she’s asking.

But think about it from her point of view. She’s probably been at work all day too,

Yet she’s still expected to do the household chores, make the meals, look after the kids, and clear up after you.

If you want some time to yourself to unwind, then why would you expect anything less for her?

Step up and take some of the responsibilities off her shoulders. That’s how to be a good husband.

3) Involve her in your struggles.

Maybe you’ve had an awful day at work. Perhaps you’re in a terrible mood for any number of reasons.

You already know she’ll be able to tell. So involve her in what’s wrong.

Tell her about your day. Ask her advice.

Just let her know your mood has nothing to do with her.

Simply talking about it might lift your burden. Or she might have some useful suggestions.

Making her feel like you’re a team to tackle problems together is an easy way to strengthen your relationship.

By the same token, when she talks about her problems, don’t offer to solve them for her.

And certainly, don’t tell her how she should have acted.

Just listen, and let her know that you care.

It’s a cliche but it’s true – a problem shared really is a problem halved.

4) She wants to feel wanted.

It’s sometimes a common misconception that men are more interested in sex than women.

That’s not true. It’s just the case that men are more vocal about it!

Flirt with her. Make her feel special.

Don’t make her feel like sex is an obligation or a chore.

This goes back to #1. If you’re resentful or critical of her, she’s not going to jump at the chance to jump into bed.

But if you show her you appreciate her, and you value who she is, she’ll naturally be more positive towards you.

Listen to her when she’s talking. Ask questions about her day. Pay her compliments even if she doesn’t ask for them.

Sneak love notes into her purse. Find out her favorite food and prepare it for her to take to work for lunch.

Or, offer to make her dinner. Take her to that fancy new restaurant that’s getting rave reviews on TripAdvisor.

You could really put some proper thought into your anniversary plans. These 5 gestures will mean more than a box of chocolates ever will!

If she feels more emotionally fulfilled by the relationship, then she’ll be far more loving towards you.

5) Remember why you wanted her in the first place.

There must be a reason you chose her above all other women.

It’s easy to lose sight of that after you get married. The novelty wears off and the daily grind sets in.

You start to rub each other up the wrong way. She criticizes you, so you snap back. You want her to feel bad too.

STOP.

Talk to your friends about how they saw your relationship when you first got together. Look at photographs. Watch any videos if you have them.

And don’t just look at how she’s changed. Look at how you’ve changed. Is it for the better, or worse?

This is also an exercise you can get her on board with, especially if you’re both frustrated with each other.

Turn it into an adventure.

Go on an emotional journey together to find your way back to the people that you were.

Have dates in unusual places. Get to know each other again.

She’ll appreciate the effort that you’re making.

6) Most of all, learning how to be a good husband is just step 1!

Reading about it is one thing. Putting it into practice is quite another!

Put some effort into planning an anniversary celebration.

But always involve your partner in everything. She’s your partner, not your property, trophy, or servant.

Listening to her should be at the heart of your lives together.

Make no mistake, she needs to listen to you too. This goes both ways!

So make an effort to have time together without interruptions. Put your phones away, turn off the TV, and just talk.

Really listen to each other, too. Don’t spend all of your time just waiting to speak.

Practicing mindfulness could really help you, especially the use of deep listening. You’ll hear things you’ve often missed in the past – and you’ll get to know her so much better as a result.

It’s true that following all of these steps will take time and effort. If you’d like to kickstart your journey with a peace offering, then consider one of our beautiful gifts for her.

Good luck!

dr-carissa-coulston-relationship-psychologistDr. Carissa Coulston is a Clinical Psychologist with over 30 research publications in high standard medical and psychiatric peer-reviewed journals. She has experience in managing a wide range of problems within the Psychology spectrum from common everyday issues such as stress and anxiety, to more chronic and severe mental health conditions.

Carissa writes a regular blog on relationship management and helps people deal with various problems they face in relationships, offering advice on how to resolve difficult situations, strategies to cope with and move past painful and disappointing experiences, and tips on how to improve the overall quality of relationships to achieve happiness and fulfillment.

How to Establish Healthy Communication Before Tying the Knot

By Dustin | Communication

How to Establish Healthy Communication Before Tying the Knot

Once again, the American Psychological Association tells us what we have known for some time: Roughly half of all marriages in the US end in divorce.

Exactly 0% of young couples getting married care to hear about the percentage of marriages that end in divorce.

This makes it almost inevitable that the cycle will repeat itself for some time without end.

While eliminating divorce altogether is not a reasonable goal, we could reduce it greatly by considering the marriages that end in death do us part.

The one and done marriages seem to have at least this one thing in common: The successful couple has mastered the art of communication.

As with everything, there are always isolated exceptions. But in general, great communication is the hallmark of a successful marriage.

The thing is, that communication didn’t start after the words, I do, were spoken.

Productive communication in marriage begins at the dating stage, and possibly before that.

Here are a few things that need to be successfully communicated before tying the knot:

Personal Tastes

If you don’t know your wife’s favorite color in year one, you might have a hard time making it to year two. It is a basic point of knowledge that should be assumed at a certain point in the relationship.

While such things may seem trivial, matters of taste will affect everything from where you live to family diet.

You should already have the basics of her personal tastes down cold long before you present the engagement ring. Perhaps she would flip for one of those morganite engagement rings with rose gold. But you can’t make that assumption simply because it is highly fashionable and stunning in every lighting condition.

She may prefer something in amethyst due to that being her birthstone and favorite color.

Remember? She told you all about how it was her mother’s favorite color and…

Well, you may have stopped listening at that point. And that’s a problem. Because knowing your partner’s preferences is a sign that you have been paying attention.

And not knowing is a sign that you haven’t been. Knowing personal preferences is the foundation of everything else to come.

Dislikes

A dislike is not exactly the opposite of a preference. You can know that your partner loves cabbage without knowing that they hate lettuce.

Often, especially in the dating process, a person will withhold their dislikes in order to appear more agreeable. They may go as far as to pretend that they like a food that they really hate.

Unfortunately, this always leads to bigger problems down the road.

Dislikes develop into resentments. And before you know it, you can’t share your dislikes without starting WWIII with your partner.

The key to avoiding this is to start during the dating process. Be honest about your likes and dislikes.

Risk having the friction during the dating phase rather than bringing that friction into the marriage.

This is a good time to set expectations early. Make your feelings clear about things like:

* Spending

* Neatness

* Children

* Religion

* TV & entertainment

It is not fair to blame your partner for pushing all your dislike buttons in marriage counseling if you never made them clear while dating.

Finances

Is your idea of retirement the exit from corporate life, and the occupation of the world’s finest beaches by age 65?

There is nothing wrong with that view of retirement unless, that is, you happen to be married to someone who considers that sloth. Perhaps they think everyone should work until they die. After all, the great men of the Bible didn’t retire.

I officially abstain from the debate that you and your spouse are going to have about this issue. But if you would like to avoid it, have the discussion about finances while you are dating.

Talk about the following:

* Saving money

* Investing

* Dual vs. single income

* Frivolous spending

Sonya Britt, a Kansas State University researcher, concluded that arguing about money is the top predictor of divorce.

Being well-financed does not mean your marriage will last forever. But communicating effectively about money is a big help.

That, along with personal preferences and dislikes, are things that should be worked out long before hiring a caterer.

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