Valentine’s Day: To Be or Not to Be?
Enjoy this day of celebration. Some people may see it as an obligation to buy something to punctuate those words, “I Love You.” Instead, consider Valentine’s Day an opportunity to reflect on your own commitment and how to express it. What would happen if you and your partner pondered steps to build and create the intimacy that you both desire? Would you come up with the same ideas?
It requires a little faith in the strength of your relationship to ask tough questions. What’s missing? What’s challenging? Don’t worry. The desire to make things better gets things moving in the right direction.
In my work with couples and the marital services offered at The Chicago Stress Relief Center, I see how the energy can shift and change. Whether a couple is in synch or throwing barbs at one another, it’s all normal in the evolution of growing oneself within a relationship. That’s what people need to appreciate. Having conflict is not indicative of a dysfunctional marriage. It’s a natural, evolutionary process. Marriage is a people-growing machine. It’s designed to grow people and if they’re not having conflict or challenges then they’re not taking the opportunities to grow, change or evolve.
Have faith and fun in this universally challenging process as you co-create the relationship you desire.
Fine Tune Your Marriage
There are five principles that exist in marriage that differentiate a healthy marriage from an unhealthy marriage. It’s not about the amount of conflict in a marriage that defines healthy vs. unhealthy or good vs. bad. It’s the amount of positive interaction. So you can have discontent and you can have conflict. The strength of a couple is supported by the ability to do the following:
- Express appreciation to one another
- Share new information about what’s going on in their life or mind, including plans and thoughts
- Demonstrate curiosity about their partner’s life or what they’re doing
- Offer a complaint with a specific request for change
- Express your wishes, hopes, and dreams to your partner
If you’re including these five pillars or principles in your interactions with your partner, you are building the groundwork to move and change no matter what challenges exist in your relationship.
Ask Dr. Weissman
How can we tell when a loved one is too stressed?
What if they are defensive and deny that anything is wrong?
Start by sharpening your listening and rapport skills. Use the power of inquiry to open doors that may be closing because life feels too painful, challenging, or stressful. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions. Listen to your tone as you ask. Be mindful of love in your heart as you move toward the person of your concern. You’re trying to get to the point that the person you care about shares thoughts that they may find overwhelming or painful. The signs of stress and burnout can manifest differently in each person.
- What do you see? Has eye contact or other mannerisms changed?
- Is there a consistent or erratic mood present?
- Are eating, drinking, sleeping and other habits different or more excessive?
- Are they seemingly apathetic or withdrawn?
A thoughtful, concerned, and loving approach will build trust and open the door to getting the help that is needed.
With love & light~
Dr. Howard K. Weissman, Psy.D., B.C.E.T.S.