Tips of the Month for Couples are regular tips for building strong relationships and healthy families. If you would like to sign up to receive these monthly tips, scroll to the bottom of the page and leave your email address.
“I’m sorry” doesn’t always end couple conflict in a satisfying way. Often something more is needed, an expression in words or actions that speaks to and “corrects” the underlying experience of one or both partners. Two kinds of underlying experience characterize much couple conflicti: The first is when we perceive threat from a partner — when power or authority is flaunted in a way designed to stifle us, to demonstrate how wrong we are, to scold and belittle us. This…
“My friend Caroline is driving me crazy,” your partner reports, exasperated. “She keeps pushing me to go shopping again, but I don’t have her endless energy for that.” Quickly, you’re poised to suggest a way she can beg off on her friend’s invitation. But before the words come out of your mouth, you notice you’re about to give advice. You notice that familiar impulse to help and solve and suggest… and you remember her telling you that she doesn’t want advice all the time —…
It’s a popular notion that couples who engage in more sex are more content in their relationship than couples who engage in less. But is it true? Perhaps sex operates like money. In that area, research has revealed that the greater one’s family income, the higher the level of reported satisfaction — but only to a point. Beyond a certain income level, more money doesn’t enhance satisfaction. Could it be that way when it comes to sex?
How to understand the connection between hearth health and marital strain? Perhaps repeated exposure to stress hormones like cortisol (which increases blood pressure) and adrenaline (which increases heart rate and blood pressure) gradually undermine heart function.
Once relationships pass through the early honeymoon and romance phase, it’s easy for us to take for granted the qualities in a partner that we appreciated early on. We can forget what once seemed special, focusing instead on traits and behaviors we now find annoying and unattractive.
It’s our fast reactions that get us into trouble: “I can’t believe you did such a stupid thing!” or “What the hell were you thinking?” or “You’re a real ____!” When words erupt quickly, it’s the emotional brain reacting, not the logical brain responding. How can we learn to slow ourselves down — and keep emotions in check — so that the logical brain has a chance to guide us toward our best selves?
We all have a Third Ear, but we don’t always use it. The Third Ear hears beyond the surface words to a spouse’s underlying mood or emotions. With our Third Ear we’re like an audience listening while staying in our seats, never climbing onto the stage to join the drama.
Is the relationship too flat and lifeless, lacking vitality? Maybe you’re not telling the truth often enough. Most of us hate to make waves; we strive to avoid conflict, even mild friction. In our determination to keep tension to a minimum, we step away from being honest when we suspect that honesty might agitate otherwise calm waters.