Sensational Sixty

Join me on a journey of reinvention.

Archive for the category “Marriage”

Assume Love in All Things

Patty Newbold, a widow who got it right the second time, writes a fantastic blog called Assume Love.  She writes about marriage, but I feel some of her subjects can apply to all people in our lives with just a little tweaking.  With your husband or significant other, assume love in all he does.  With a friend, assume good will.  With a store clerk, assume the last customer was really rude and be nicer.  With a bad driver an, assume he’s just having a bad day.

In other words, give people the benefit of the doubt!  Most people are not out to hurt or make you mad on purpose.  Life sometimes gets in the way. Turn the other cheek and do what you can to make their day better.  I guarantee it will make your life better.

But if you are having relationship issues, be sure to hop over to Patty’s site and browse around.  I’ve found her advice to be very helpful in my pursuit to make my marriage happier.

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Anger Management

I was wrong.  I thought I could improve my marriage by myself.  I can’t. While I can make my marriage a lot happier for my husband, I can’t make him want to fulfill my needs for our marriage.  In doing further research, and I should have known from other things that are going on in my life, he has no motivation to make any changes.  Things are working for him.  He gets great sex, great meals, a clean house and I get …. what?   The luxury of not working at my age?  What else?  What about feeling taken care of?  What about feeling cared for?  I was quite put out and didn’t hesitate to let him know about it.

These were the thoughts and feelings that were running through my head as I opened up my email the other day.  Since I subscribe to several blogs, I was not surprised to get this post from Always Well Within.  What did surprise me was the topic.  Anger Management.  Catch Anger Before it Catches You from Tiny Buddha was the perfect thing for me to read at the perfect time.

anger

Too often, when we get angry, we think that the solution is to vent that anger.  After all, haven’t we heard for years about the negative health effects of keeping things bottled up inside?  Unfortunately, most of us vent to the object of our anger – in this case, the husband.  Knowing the differences between men and women now, I know this doesn’t do any good and is even contrary to the result you want to get.  But, without taking a moment to consider the results of that venting, that is what I do – vent, and usually in a big way.

Tiny Buddha cautions us to consider the effect venting your anger has on our health and happiness.   Instead of automatically blowing up, if we will take just a moment to tune into ourselves, we can turn that anger around and learn the benefits of love, patience and tolerance.  Before I explode the next time, there are seven steps I am going to try to process through:  take responsibility, breath, apologize (if you couldn’t get to these steps in time!), transform the negative energy, resolve, forgive myself and move on.

Long story short, my husband and I had an honest conversation and I’m back on the track of making our marriage a better place to live.  I learned that, even though I can’t see it, there are changes taking place inside him that, hopefully, will manifest as action in time.  So the next time I lose my temper or get frustrated, I’m going to try to take myself out of the picture for just a moment and implement Tiny Buddha’s suggestions.

What about you?  Are you able to process your anger in a way that is healthy?  I encourage you to click on the link above and read more about this way of approaching anger.

Fear and Shame

images[4]I honestly never realized that men and women were so different.  I mean, I knew that my husband and I looked at things quite differently, but I guess I assumed that it was because of the basic differences in our personalities.  He’s an optimist, I’m a pessimist  (at least at the beginning of our marriage, but that’s a whole ‘nother post!).  He’s a slob, I’m a neatnik.  He’s happy-go-lucky, I manage clinical depression.

Now I find out, if research is to be believed, that there are biological differences that manifest themselves in infancy!  I’m an intelligent, educated and curious person and, of course, I knew men and women were cut from different cloths.  But somehow I never really absorbed that information in a way that pertains to  my relationship with my husband.

According to the research in How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, baby girls, when they are born, are comforted by eye-to-eye contact. They will remain engaged with a caregiver as long as he or she maintains contact.  The girl is comforted by this prolonged contact and feels fear if she is deprived of this closeness.

Baby boys, while needing the same contact, are overstimulated by prolonged  eye contact and will look away.  Because the caregiver will then assume the baby is no longer interested, he or she will break contact, which causes a feeling of shame (which we learn to label as rejection) for a boy.

Women, by nature and years of evolution, avoid FEAR by developing and maintaining relationships.  The more they talk about their troubles, the closer they feel.  Vulnerability is exposed to get the closeness they want.

Men, on the other hand, do not see relationships as a comfort and tend to invoke the fight-or-flight response to trouble to avoid feeling SHAME.  They have learned to hide their vulnerability.

So what does this all boil down to?  Fear and shame are not bad things.  Fear keeps us safe – most of us don’t do things that are inherently dangerous.  Shame keeps us moral – most of us do what’s right.

The basis of our connection with each other – man and woman – is how we relate to each other’s emotions.  In a good marriage, the husband will, at some level, make the wife feel safe and the wife will make the husband feel valued and admired.  If either person fails in the response to the other’s needs, a never-ending cycle of failure ensues.

So here’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.  Have I done a good job of making my husband feel important and valuable to me?  I think not.  I always thought that one’s sense of value came totally from within.  By not knowing and protecting the primary motivating need of my husband, I have allowed that perpectual negative cycle to become entrenched in our lives.  Maybe my husband will be more loving if I understand his reaction to shame and learn ways to not trigger it.  It’s definitely something to consider.

Have you always acted in a way that reinforces your husband’s inmate needs?

 

Marriage

I’ve been married for 36 years.  Back in my 20’s, after a disastrous first marriage, I couldn’t even imagine being with the same man for that long.  Of course, it was the height of the “free love” decade and I definitely bought into all of that “do what feels good” chatter.  But, unplanned and unexpectedly, I met my husband, moved in with him and married, all in the space of 3 months.  And here we are, 36 years later.

Am I happy in my marriage?  A few weeks ago, I would have decidedly said “no.”  But, as another part of my quest to make my life be what I want it to be, I remembered something I heard a long time ago.  Would I be better off with or without my husband.  In spite of all the irritations and lack of communication, the answer I came to was definitely that I’m better off with him.  Because I’m taking the future into my own hands, I decided to figure out what was really wrong and how I could make it better – for myself, if nothing else.

I’ve read that as many as 80% of divorces occur because the husband and wife have “grown apart.”  “Lack of communication” is also cited frequently by couples visiting marriage therapists.  In my research, I’ve discovered that it is not so much a lack of communication as it is a “disconnection” that causes once loving men and women to grow apart.

Research and clinical experience have shown that the majority of men want closer and deeper emotional connections just as much as women do.  At first blush, I thought “No way – he never wants to talk about what’s wrong or how to fix it!”. Come on, haven’t you had the same thoughts before?

But I’ve learned that my reaction is caused by a basic misunderstanding of the difference between men and women.

How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love, Ed.d and Steven Stosny, Ph.d. seemed like a perfect fit for my quest.   Since involving my husband in discussions, counselling and other forms of therapy has never seemed to end up in the result I wanted, I am determined to figure this out, or at least chart a new path, on my own.  And, as I read the very first chapter, I realized that, in addition to other books listed in the resources section of this blog, there are many, many things I do not know.

So, I’ll be reading and absorbing, then recording the important revelations I come to here.  I hope you’ll follow along and you’re welcome to take from this what might pertain to your life.

‘Til Death Do Us Part?

Remember the book “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus” by John Gray?  I’m sure most of us read it when it originally came out in the early nineties.  It focused on the differences between men and women and how to relate to each other and better communicate.  Well, I have a confession to make.  I was too focused on how to be right when I read it than on how to understand my man.  Either that or I was too busy working, raising children and taking care of a household to take in any of the advice.

I’ve been married to the same man for 36 years.  Way back in 1976, when we were first married, we, being, of course, a very modern couple, didn’t really have a sense of ’till death do us part.  In fact, the words of our committment were “as long as love shall last.”  I look at that today and think “That was a pretty weak commitment!”

Anyway, since marriage is such a big part of my life, I had to take a look at it.  Unfortunately, I didn’t like what I saw.  Since the children grew up and left home, we’ve more often gone our individual ways than worked on cementing what we had.  We don’t share many of the same hobbies and had less and less to talk about over the years.  The arguments were more frequent, the resentment stronger and the love didn’t really appear to be there any more.  I didn’t have any real desire to leave, but I didn’t want to continue in the same unhappy way.  And I’m sure you know how effective “We need to talk” is!

On the surface, most of my friends seem to have similar issues with their husbands, but, at this age, we don’t spend a lot of time discussing those kinds of issues.  I also knew I didn’t want my “golden years of marriage” to look like my parents’ did.  So I’ve started to delve into some research about marriages in our sixties to see if what I was feeling was normal, not normal or something else.  And, could I change anything to make things better?  Revive the zing that was there before jobs, children, aging, life?

I’ve stocked up on books, scoured the internet, subscribed to numerous blogs and websites and, boy, have my eyes been opened!  Even though it’s still early in the process, I’ve learned so much already.  My plan is to share these revelations in short posts over the next few months as I try to implement some of the things I’m reading about.  I’ll also add a tab to the blog with a list of the resources I will be using, in case I inspire any of you to do further reading for yourself.  I hope you’ll join me in discovering what marriage in the “third act” can look like!

Is your marriage all that it can be?

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