Resolvology https://resolvology.com Marriage Counselling Thu, 14 Dec 2017 21:32:06 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 https://resolvology.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-site-icon-32x32.jpg Resolvology https://resolvology.com 32 32 112742827 6 Ways to Keep Your Partner Your Priority During The Holiday Season https://resolvology.com/relationships-over-the-holidays https://resolvology.com/relationships-over-the-holidays#respond Tue, 05 Dec 2017 18:00:05 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3765 Christmas is a time of year that can easily overwhelm all of us. It is often the case that our relationships are low on our priority list and during the Christmas season our spouse can land even lower. So how do you keep your partner as a priority when it makes sense to divide and conquer the many events, recitals, hosting obligations and financial obligations?

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6 Ways to Keep Your Partner Your Priority During The Holiday Season

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

Christmas is a time of year that can easily overwhelm all of us. It is often the case that our relationships are low on our priority list and during the Christmas season our spouse can land even lower. So how do you keep your partner as a priority when it makes sense to divide and conquer the many events, recitals, hosting obligations and financial obligations?

Relationships over the holidays

Happy Holiday Relationships

Number 1

Ask your partner what is important about the holidays for them.

So many of us think about how previous holiday seasons have played out, reflect on our own interpretation of the season and assume that our partner would comment if it wasn’t suitable for them. The reality is that many spouses are uncomfortable putting their needs first or have a belief that the holidays should be about others. So ask them the following questions:

  • When the New Year arrives and you reflect back on the festivities what is one thing that would make the holiday enjoyable for you?
  • What can I do to ensure you are having the holiday you would like?
  • What will you be doing to make that happen?
  • Do you know what my priorities are and how you can support me over the season?
Number 2

Be Deliberate with your Choices.

There will always be an opportunity to attend one more holiday party, purchase one more gift, create one more dessert or add one more decoration to the house.  In the moment, ask yourself if this will matter in 20 years from now? Saying No to the extras can often make the difference between feeling overjoyed and overwhelmed.

Number 3

Set a budget for the holiday season.

Discussing the budget with your spouse can be a check in for what can be a “indulgent” time of year.  You want to be on the same page with your partner when that Credit Card bill arrives in January. If your partner wants to have one spectacular Christmas party but is less worried about the meal on Christmas day then that can help you prioritize your spending. It will mean focusing on two priorities and finding the funds to make the time a special memory for yourself and your partner.

Number 4

Schedule a minimum of ten minutes per day to focus exclusively on your partner in conversation or otherwise.

No thinking about the to do list, put away the cell phone and if possible go for a walk or a drive. Making your partner a priority means that for a small period of time, each day, you give your partner access to your current thoughts and feelings. It may be that connecting for your spouse is a ten- minute make-out session. Make sure your partner knows if you have said no to others and that time with your partner is a priority for you.

Number 5

Setting boundaries for extended family is also a helpful strategy.

Other people’s traditions and expectations can be profound. “We have hosted Christmas Eve dinner since she was nine years old”,  “The holidays will be ruined if you can’t join us”. Strong statements, such as these, from our families, are golden opportunities to show your partner they have status in your life. Choosing to make their priorities our priorities tells them that they matter. Our behaviours provide very powerful messages and when we feel caught we communicate our priorities with our choices.  This year choose your spouse.

Number 6

Discuss the use of liquor and other indulgences.

Any substance that can cause our spouse to be unavailable can be a source of conflict. I have heard many couples complain that their partner gets too loud, too quiet or becomes unmanageable when they have been drinking.  Remember that when you are out with your partner to some degree you are representing both individuals. Discuss how to enjoy a social event with your partner’s experience in mind.

“Saying No to the extras can often make the difference between feeling overjoyed and overwhelmed.”

If any of these items provide a challenge for you and your spouse I encourage you to access some support from a therapist. Unplanned Holiday Seasons can result in resentments and negative narratives about who you are to your partner.  Sometimes these narratives become beliefs that last for many years. Set some time aside, be curious about your partner, share your needs and make a plan. I hope it’s the best Holiday Season Ever for you and your spouse.

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6 Ways to Keep Your Partner Your Priority During The Holiday Season

Christmas is a time of year that can easily overwhelm all of us. It is often the case that our relationships are low on our priority list and during the Christmas season our spouse can land even lower. So how do you keep your partner as a priority when it makes sense to divide and conquer the many events, recitals, hosting obligations and financial obligations?

read more

Beliefs about your Partner are Powerful – Choose Wisely

I am always searching for the beliefs that either put my clients on the path toward their goal or the one that impairs the client from reaching their desired outcomes. As a marital therapist this endeavor becomes more complex as two individuals in the relationship have unique perspectives about themselves, their partner and their mutual relationship.

read more

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The Vulnerability Cycle — Why does your Partner Push Your Buttons? https://resolvology.com/the-vulnerability-cycle https://resolvology.com/the-vulnerability-cycle#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 21:20:57 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3749 Relationships are more than the sum of its parts. Your relationship is an interaction between you and your partner. These interactions can be intentional or unintentional. When it feels like you and your partner are giving it your best effort and you still feel frustrated look to the pattern between you.

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The Vulnerability Cycle — Why does your Partner Push Your Buttons?

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

Relationships are more than the sum of its parts. Your relationship is an interaction between you and your partner. These interactions can be intentional or unintentional. When it feels like you and your partner are giving it your best effort and you still feel frustrated look to the pattern between you.

In 2004, Sheinkman and Fishbane wrote an article called The Vulnerability Cycle: Working with Impasses in Couple Therapy. In the article they draw a diagram of how one action begets a reaction which begets further reaction and so on. This feedback loop is powerful and you may feel it is impossible to interrupt it.

I can act as a neutral observer to see the patterns between you and your partner. Sheinkman and Fishbane suggest therapists should consider five factors: Beliefs, Vulnerabilities, Survival Strategies, Family of Origin and Context or Situational Factors. Each person has beliefs about their partner or about relationships in general. These beliefs can often be traced back to positive or negative experiences in our past. How these beliefs are reinforced by your partner can be an important part of the pattern. In fact, at times we choose a partner who affirms our beliefs about relationships, because it seems familiar to us. This can occur even if the beliefs are not conducive to healthy relationships.

The deconstruction process begins by identifying your beliefs, survival strategies and your vulnerabilities. For example, you may believe that no one will ever really care for you unconditionally. Your vulnerable place is to feel unlovable. Your survival strategy may then be to be cold with people who try to love you. This coldness maintains distance. When someone pulls away it confirms your belief, your survival strategy is affirmed and you become even more removed. Your belief is strengthened as well.

If you wish to redesign your relationship you may need to redesign your belief and allow your worst vulnerabilities to be confirmed. You may encounter partners who are in it for themselves. However, you might find a partner who shows you unconditional love and it feels good. Repeated exposure to safe relationships can dilute the belief over time. No question – shifting out of this protective stance is difficult. Having a skilled third party to refocus you on what you want instead of what you don’t want is key.

Couple working with psychologist

The Benefits of Vulnerability

In an existing relationship, the deconstruction requires commitment to shift the pattern and here are a few strategies Sheinkman and Fishbane recommend and ones we could use:

Freeze frame – getting an alternate perspective by slowing things down frame by frame. How are you thinking at that moment with that view of yourself and your partner?

Externalizing the Impasse – when you and your partner recognize the pattern can you band together and say “do you see it?” “What is our plan to avoid this thing we typically do”? If you have created good patterns it is also helpful to notice what you are doing and congratulate each other for working to create healthy interactions.

Developing Curiosity – examine your own assumptions and ask what you think you already know. I have worked with couples that have held assumptions for 20 years to be surprised by the answer when they asked what they thought they already knew.

Disinvesting Blame – choosing to believe there are “just differences” instead of needing to attribute blame. This can be freeing or it can leave you feeling out of control. Brene Brown talks about blame as a discharge of anger and a missed opportunity for connection.

Virtuous Cycles – I am always on the lookout for the exception to the pattern so I will ask you to identify the exception. Perhaps the pattern disappeared when your mother was ill or it didn’t seem so powerful when the economy was better and you felt you had more financial freedom. This information is rich with answers about how to interrupt the pattern more of the time.

“I have worked with couples that have held assumptions for 20 years to be surprised by the answer when they asked what they thought they already knew.”

The authors of the Vulnerability Cycle research make a great contribution to understanding the loops we experience.  I invite you to join me so that we can draw your interaction between you and your spouse. Let’s break that pattern by identifying it, slowing down and choosing new beliefs and responses.

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Beliefs about your Partner are Powerful – Choose Wisely https://resolvology.com/beliefs-about-your-partner-are-powerful https://resolvology.com/beliefs-about-your-partner-are-powerful#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 23:21:58 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3690 I am always searching for the beliefs that either put my clients on the path toward their goal or the one that impairs the client from reaching their desired outcomes. As a marital therapist this endeavor becomes more complex as two individuals in the relationship have unique perspectives about themselves, their partner and their mutual relationship.

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Beliefs about your Partner are Powerful – Choose Wisely

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

As a cognitive psychologist I am always searching for the beliefs that either put my clients on the path toward their goal or the one that impairs the client from reaching their desired outcomes. As a marital therapist this endeavor becomes more complex as two individuals in the relationship have unique perspectives about themselves, their partner and their mutual relationship.

Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory informs this process in that each person’s thoughts, behaviours and interactions lay the foundation for the following thoughts, behaviour and interactions. He calls this “triadic reciprocal causality” and it is the basis for all of our interactions with our partner. It is the place that spouses evaluate themselves, their partner and the relationship itself on an ongoing basis.  So in our relationships our thoughts about how important we are to the partner, our desires for connection, our belief about how valuable the other is to us and our perception of how we show to our broader family, our children and our community all become intermingled in evaluation regularly. Over time we draw even stronger global beliefs about the strength or weakness of our relationship and our ability to influence the relationship.

Couple hugging and smiling on the beach.
Beliefs about your Partner are Powerful

Some adhere to the broad stroke belief of “happy wife, happy life”. While this mantra often brings a knowing look from like-minded spouses it also draws attention to the belief that the onus is on one spouse to keep the other happy and that failure to do so results in impaired happiness for both partners. This is an example of a belief in unilateral responsibility that I continually keep my eye open for. It is a belief that needs some examination.

So much of the marital therapy process is to sit as an observer, with an outside perspective, to identify useful and detrimental beliefs. Then my job is to mine the cognitions of the parties and to illuminate their assumptions and expectations and underlying beliefs about themselves.  To draw attention to these beliefs is an important intervention.

“So much of the marital therapy process is to sit as an observer, with an outside perspective, to identify useful and detrimental beliefs.”

For many, there is little thought about the meta-cognitions, thinking about the thinking, and for others there is too much evaluation. We all make choices about what we entertain in our minds. When our thought lives work in support of the wellbeing of our relationship it can be a powerful focus. This has been proven in the work of Dr. John Gottman. In his Sound House Model he speaks to the research of masterful spouses. Masterful spouses regularly recognize when their partners are contributing positively to the relationship. They believe, expect and look for what their partner is doing right. This discipline of thinking is practiced and fostered in happy couples and is something all can attend to.

Try putting 10 coins in your left pants pocket. Over the day each time you see your partner doing something kind, positive or thoughtful put one of the coins in the other pocket. At the end of the day look to see how many positives you acknowledged. Keep this up to practice your belief that your partner is working towards the wellbeing of the relationship or that they are a caring person. See if this belief can impact your relationship positively.   You can use this strategy to build a belief about any aspect of the relationship. Give it a try!

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How Can I Trust My Judgment After An Affair? https://resolvology.com/how-to-trust-your-judgment-after-affair https://resolvology.com/how-to-trust-your-judgment-after-affair#respond Tue, 13 Jun 2017 21:04:02 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3549 As people process a betrayal there is often a point when they wonder aloud how they could be fooled so easily? Spouses say “I completely trusted my partner”. Yet as couples attempt to repair their relationship the next wondering that surfaces is “How can I trust my own judgment?”.

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How Can I Trust My Judgment After An Affair?

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

As people process a betrayal there is often a point when they wonder aloud how they could be fooled so easily? Spouses say “I completely trusted my partner”. Yet as couples attempt to repair their relationship the next wondering that surfaces is “How can I trust my own judgment?” “Can I trust myself to care for my needs, in this relationship, moving forward?”

As a therapist, this particular question has been at the front of my mind for about a year because I think there must be a better answer, something more valuable than the old adage “Time Heals all Wounds”. Certainly time does provide a perspective that we don’t have in the moment of betrayal but this important question can always be addressed more fully.

Couple holding hands.
How Can I Trust My Judgment After An Affair?

I spoke with Terry Real, a celebrated Marital Therapist, trainer and author from Massachusetts. He suggests that people need to acknowledge that a relationship will walk the path of harmony, disharmony and repair. He suggests to live in a naïve state is a common ailment. It really aligns with our Hollywood sense of relationships. He suggests that all relationships will establish harmony, stumble upon moments that will breach the harmony and then, if it is to continue, will repair and move forward.

So for me his thoughts suggest that we assume too much safety exists in our relationships. On the other hand, it is that trust that allows the relationships to carry on in our daily lives. It seems unthinkable to continually be in a state of mistrust. The more signs we have that we are in a committed relationship the more strongly we believe we are secure. Some of us marry, buy a home together, have children and integrate our lives with our significant other. This also suggests that we have much to lose if we were to breach our agreement of fidelity.

“It is often not the gaze of another that people who betray seek, it is the fresh reflection of the other that allows them to see themselves as alive and interesting.”

In therapy, I hear partners say they have devoted less attention to their other and have allowed themselves to take the perspective that their spouse is uninteresting or no longer suitable and legitimize a fledgling sex life to the inevitable plight of fatigue and responsibility. Our experts explain this transition as a “developmental stage” of life where we are to focus on our work, kids and home.  While these shifts in our focus from partner to family, adventure to predictability seem normal they are perhaps misrepresenting what actually is happening to our relationships.

During a conference in Boulder, Colorado this past Spring, Esther Perel, celebrity marital therapist, Author and Speaker said something like this… It is often not the gaze of another that people who betray seek, it is the fresh reflection of the other that allows them to see themselves as alive and interesting. She would also say it is the predictability of life that threatens the erotic which keeps a relationship strong.

I think it is in this measure of personal aliveness that we can learn to trust ourselves. Can we observe our partner seeking our gaze as means to feel alive and dynamic? When we see this on a regular basis and we see our partner seeking our attention we then may be able to have a higher degree of confidence and a stronger sense of security in our relationship.

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Can a Vegan and a Meat Eater Make it Work? https://resolvology.com/can-a-vegan-and-a-meat-eater-make-it-work https://resolvology.com/can-a-vegan-and-a-meat-eater-make-it-work#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 21:58:58 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3538 Recently I was interviewed by Caroline Wagner of CBC Calgary’s The Eyeopener regarding a modern-day relationship challenge…Herbivore/Omnivore relationships.
Can a vegetarian and a meat eater sustain a successful and long-term relationship?
In a lot of cases, it comes down to values. Listen to our interview below and read the entire article on the CBC website.

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Can a Vegan and a Meat Eater Make it Work?

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

Recently I was interviewed by Caroline Wagner of CBC Calgary’s The Eyeopener regarding a modern-day relationship challenge…Herbivore/Omnivore relationships.

Can a vegetarian and a meat eater sustain a successful and long-term relationship?

In a lot of cases, it comes down to values. Listen to our interview below and read the entire article on the CBC website here: Herbivore-omnivore relationships: Can a vegan and a meat eater make it work?

Two heart symbols - one made up of vegetables and the other of steak.
Herbavore VS Omnivore

“Conflicts don’t get out of hand unless they breach somebody’s moral views…”

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When Emotions Get Hot! Differences in Response Styles https://resolvology.com/when-emotions-get-hot-differences-in-response-styles https://resolvology.com/when-emotions-get-hot-differences-in-response-styles#respond Wed, 10 May 2017 15:44:40 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3524 Does this sound familiar? You and your partner see a situation differently. After a number of exchanges the conversation becomes emotionally charged and one of you becomes upset. At those times we are often told that we move into a fight or flight response and either want to exit or escalate the conversation.

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When Emotions Get Hot! Differences in Response Styles

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

Does this sound familiar? You and your partner see a situation differently. After a number of exchanges the conversation becomes emotionally charged and one of you becomes upset. At those times we are often told that we move into a fight or flight response and either want to exit or escalate the conversation. Those who want to escalate really are moving beyond their window of tolerance or their optimal Arousal Zone where they are able to tolerate emotion and are able to think and feel (Fisher 2017). This is a state where we are seeking to get something from another person and we want our partners to respond to us. If we get the desired response then we can settle down. This is an “other soothing strategy”. In this Hyper-arousal state we are often taking risks (around the words we say, the behaviours we engage in) and can be impulsive.  In these instances, these partners have more than enough thoughts and conclusions about what is going on around them and are capable of expression.

Active volcano in eruption.

When Emotions Get Hot!

There are many whom, instead of becoming hyper-aroused, become hypo-aroused and these partners turtle into themselves and disable their defensive responses. Dr. Fischer also says those who have a hypo-arousal response can present with flat affect, feeling numb and experience pre-occupation with shame or despair.

For the hypo-aroused partner, the flow of thoughts and feelings can be overwhelming because it is all happening so quickly. They need time and space to sort it all out. John Gottman uses the word “flooded” to describe a partner who is overwhelmed by emotions.

“These emotionally de-regulated responses are learned. Our families may have modeled them or, according to Dr. Janina Fisher, they can be the result of traumatic experiences.”

These emotionally de-regulated responses are learned. Our families may have modeled them or, according to Dr. Janina Fisher, they can be the result of traumatic experiences. She suggests that couples can create a pattern where they trigger the other, shifting them out of the Optimal Arousal Zone. It may be helpful to think about where each of you first learned to respond this way.  Recognizing that these responses originated earlier in our life and are often part of our emotional muscle memory is important, because it means that new responses can be learned.

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Fisher, Janina. (2017) Beyond words: Somatic Interventions for Couples Therapy, Couples Conference. Los Angelas, CA.
Gottman, J., Silver, N. (1999) Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. John Wiley and Sons Inc.

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Are you Willing to Change? https://resolvology.com/are-you-willing-to-change https://resolvology.com/are-you-willing-to-change#respond Thu, 26 Jan 2017 19:03:42 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3491 When couples come to therapy they often say they hope to interact with their partner differently. They believe change will improve their relationship. I anticipate couples will make changes in the way they think and behave in order to meet their goals. But how do we change when our habits seem so powerful?

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Are you Willing to Change?

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

When couples come to therapy they often say they hope to interact with their partner differently. They believe change will improve their relationship. I anticipate couples will make changes in the way they think and behave in order to meet their goals. But how do we change when our habits seem so powerful?

James Prochaska and Carlo Di Clemente developed the Transtheoretical Model of Change, more commonly known as “the process of change”, in 1973.  They break the change process into six stages.  They outlined these steps in an old but popular book called Changing to Thrive (1994).

Stage 1

Pre-contemplation

The first stage is Pre-contemplation. In this stage we may not feel or think we need to alter ourselves in any way. It is common for one member of the marriage to believe their partners’ changes could improve the marriage. Yet until both parties recognize a change is needed it is unlikely to happen.

Stage 2

Contemplation

The second stage is Contemplation. Contemplation is the stage where people recognize the need for a change of some sort or another. In the marital therapy office couples often examine their interactions with one another and many come to acknowledge a change is important for the benefit of themselves or their partner.

l
Stage 3

Preparation

The next stage is Preparation. In this stage people are looking at resources and information to help them make the change. For the benefit of their spouse a client may make an inquiry about a change in role at work to see if more time and energy could be made available. Locating the nearest A.A. meeting is another example of what happens at the preparation stage. The change has not happened but is being anticipated.

Stage 4

Action

The fourth stage is Action. The action stage is when a person implements the plan made in the preparation stage. They make more time for their partner, turn off the computer, put the children to sleep in their own beds. These actions can communicate commitment to doing things differently. Often a spouse will complain that their partner is “all talk”. In the action stage the “talk” happens.

Stage 5

Maintenance

The fifth stage is Maintenance. In this stage people maintain or continue to put into place what has occurred in the action stage. This is where a degree of trust increases between partners.

N
Stage 6

Termination

The sixth and final stage is the Termination stage. In this stage people find the previous temptations are no longer so compelling. Their new habits are established and the change is often not at the front of their minds.

As with all theories there are criticisms and questions about their efficacy. What I like about this model is that it brings focus to the difference between awareness, acknowledgment, commitment to action and commitment to more permanent change. These are essential components of moving forward. In session I am aware that as thinking changes so can behaviour and in the reverse order. I can assist by prompting clients to anticipate and plan for barriers that might get in the way of their change. I can also scale shifts and changes to track progress for the couple.

Marital Therapy requires changes be made by both parties. The Transtheoretical Model helps us understand where we are in the process.

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How Do You Choose To See Your Spouse? https://resolvology.com/how-do-you-choose-to-see-your-spouse https://resolvology.com/how-do-you-choose-to-see-your-spouse#respond Wed, 11 Jan 2017 19:15:48 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3469 The Fundamental Attribution Error is a tendency to explain our own behaviour in situational terms and others’ behaviour in terms of character deficits.

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How Do You Choose To See Your Spouse?

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

The field of Social Psychology has something to teach us about how we see others and we can apply this to our marriage. If our partner is late to pick up the kids we might conclude that “He or she is always late and isn’t able to be on time” yet if we are late we are much more likely to believe it was the traffic, or a colleague catching us at the door that caused the late behaviour. This discrepancy is called the Fundamental Attribution Error?

The Fundamental Attribution Error is a tendency to explain our own behaviour in situational terms and others’ behaviour in terms of character deficits.”

The Fundamental Attribution Error is a tendency to explain our own behaviour in situational terms and others’ behaviour in terms of character deficits. Attributions are another word for explanations and we can become quick to explain our partner’s behaviour in ways we would not judge ourselves. Over time, these evaluations can become lightning fast conclusions.  These ongoing and habitual conclusions can lead to contemptuous treatment of our partner. John Gottman, a renowned Psychologist and Relationship Researcher, has identified “Contempt” as a indicator that your relationship is highly vulnerable.

One of the antidotes to seeing our partner in a dispositional way is to take a broader perspective whenever possible.  If our partner is late, we can pause and think about the many variables that could have impacted them that day.  Another strategy is to practice empathy with our spouse.  Dr. Brene Brown has a lovely two-minute video that aptly describes empathy Empathy allows us to appreciate the experience from another person’s perspective. It does not always mean we agree with them or hold them blameless but it does mean that we can relate to a time when we had a similar feeling and can communicate that we have been there. For example, we may remember a time when we felt we needed to be in more than one place at the same time or had more on our plate than we could handle. From an empathetic place we can be supportive.

Brené Brown on Empathy

If the same circumstances arise repeatedly then it may be an issue to be addressed.  Perhaps the issue is that the pick up time is really difficult on the best of days. Considering the situation or addressing the issue can be an effective intervention when the Fundamental Attribution Error phenomenon is knocking at our door.

So, the next time we recognize that we are judging our partner’s character we have the option to pause and ask ourselves if the Fundamental Attribution Error phenomenon is contributing to our belief. Then we can choose to see our spouse in a way that builds a positive view of them or to address the issue at hand.

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What Type of Partner are you? https://resolvology.com/what-type-of-partner-are-you https://resolvology.com/what-type-of-partner-are-you#respond Wed, 05 Oct 2016 17:56:58 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3431 The degree to which we feel a close emotional connection with another person is the result of a series of experiences with that person. Confidence in another to be attentive, responsive and kind is a necessary part of the development of marriage and, despite being such an important aspect of marriage, emotional intimacy at times feels elusive.

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What Type of Partner are you?

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

The degree to which we feel a close emotional connection with another person is the result of a series of experiences with that person. The capacity for such intimacy may also be impacted by the relationship with our primary caregivers as children, our relationships with friends in childhood and again with our intimate partner as adults. Confidence in another to be attentive, responsive and kind is a necessary part of the development of marriage and, despite being such an important aspect of marriage, emotional intimacy at times feels elusive.

Psychologist, Harry Stack Sullivan defines intimacy as “…a collaboration in which both partners reveal themselves and seek and express validation of each other’s attributes and world views” (Reis and Shaver). This mutual contribution to the creation of intimacy is key and the type of partner we are contributes to our level of intimacy.

Happy couple meeting and drinking coffee.

What type of partner are you?

Hazan and Shaver identify three types of partners/ lovers. These types have varied experience with how they were responded to by caregivers as children and differ in their beliefs about other people’s intentions and behaviours. The three types of lovers are: avoidant, anxious and secure.

The avoidant lover may be a person who has experienced rejection by their primary caregivers. They may be worried about intimacy and vulnerability and sees relationships as unsafe. They may believe that “Love Rarely Lasts” and doesn’t believe in the good intentions of intimate partners.

The anxious lover may be a person who was inconsistently responded to from their caregivers.  They may fall for partners quickly, and often, and can be seen as jealous and clingy. These lovers may believe others are reluctant to commit.

“Spending time with a therapist can be helpful to ensure the past isn’t getting in the way of your current relationship.”

The secure lover is a person who has experienced consistent loving relationships with their caregivers. They have been able to find reliable intimate partners in adulthood.  They believe they can have intimate positive relationships and they do. They have learned to be vulnerable and disclose private thoughts, feelings and wishes and are responded to favourably by their partner.

As relationships with our partner shifts and changes we can be triggered by old experiences and unproductive beliefs. Spending time with a therapist can be helpful to ensure the past isn’t getting in the way of your current relationship. Recognizing what triggers anxious and avoidant feelings can help shift a destructive pattern. Even more importantly, knowing that we need to feel secure in our relationships and how to ask for what we need for ourselves is a great place to begin.

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H. Reis & P. Shaver. (1988) Handbook of Personal Relationships. Ch. 20 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
C. Hazan & P. Shaver. (1987). Romantic Love Conceptualized as an Attachment Process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 52, No.3, 511-524.

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How Interdependent is your Marriage? https://resolvology.com/how-interdependent-is-your-marriage https://resolvology.com/how-interdependent-is-your-marriage#respond Tue, 20 Sep 2016 21:55:11 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3412 Interdependence is one of the objectives for many couples in marital therapy. Husbands and wives recognize that what once was a mutual dream for their lives together has become parallel paths where spouses rarely meet. With our busy lives it sometime becomes difficult to find time to even talk about our day with one another.

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How Interdependent is your Marriage?

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

Interdependence is one of the objectives for many couples in marital therapy. Husbands and wives recognize that what once was a mutual dream for their lives together has become parallel paths where spouses rarely meet. With our busy lives it sometime becomes difficult to find time to even talk about our day with one another. We become effective at accomplishing our daily tasks, and we live exclusive lives.

Interdependent spouses are happy in themselves and also mutually rely upon their partner. They may spend the day away from each other volunteering, parenting or working and share these rich experiences daily. When they need support or wish to share an exciting experience they immediately think of their spouse. This is the person with whom they have created some history and a context for current and future experience.

Happy couple in a restaurant with glasses of red wine.

How interdependent is your marriage?

Wegner, Guiliano and Hertel studied interdependence at the cognitive level and coined a term “transactive memory” to capture the idea that shared experience by the couple creates a shared reality. This mutually organizes their time and creates a bank of experiences they use in their life together. This cognitive interdependence is an element of couple life that keeps them connected. What they think about and how they think about shared experience has a positive impact on intimacy.

For example, you and your spouse attended a dinner party. The topic of concerts comes up and you recall a concert you attended three years ago. You may ask your spouse to remember the name of the opening act, the date of the concert or their favourite moment. When your spouse responds with the information it affirms your mutual experience, or even better, your mutual recall of an emotion or feeling of that experience.

“Creating experiences together, recalling them and reminiscing about the events and feelings are all functions of transactive memory.”

Creating experiences together, recalling them and reminiscing about the events and feelings are all functions of transactive memory. It also allows you an opportunity to “bid” for your spouse’s attention as was discussed in the recent blog post “We Communicate to Feel Validated.” Utilizing such strategies in your day to day life reinforces your connection with one another.

Your therapist may ask you to recall how you met your spouse, what you thought at the time and how you felt then. They are working to increase your transactive memory. When you are trying to connect with your spouse, recall some good memories or make some new ones. Increasing your transactive memory builds interdependence and is an investment in your future together.

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Wegner, D.M, Guiliano, T. & Hertel, P.T.(1985). Cognitive Interdependence in Close Relationships. In W.J. Ickles (Ed.), Compatible and Incompatible Relationships (pp.253-276), New York: Springer-Verlag.

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