Resolvology https://resolvology.com Marriage Counselling Thu, 12 Oct 2017 23:36:39 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 https://resolvology.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-site-icon-32x32.jpg Resolvology https://resolvology.com 32 32 112742827 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.

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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.

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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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Positive Marital Influence https://resolvology.com/positive-marital-influence https://resolvology.com/positive-marital-influence#respond Tue, 30 Aug 2016 21:16:16 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3395 My kids’ grandparents are the most welcoming couple and an amazing example of marriage. They work together well and even disagree strongly at times. What is notable is their disagreements are often unacknowledged agreements. For example, mom will say “…its East” and dad will say “no, it’s that way.”

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Positive Marital Influence

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

Each summer my husband and I take our three children to see their grandparents in Ontario. We enjoy swimming and paddle boarding, playing bocce, bean bag and eating food cooked on the outdoor grill.

My kids’ grandparents are the most welcoming couple and an amazing example of marriage. They work together well and even disagree strongly at times. What is notable is their disagreements are often unacknowledged agreements. For example, mom will say “…its East” and dad will say “no, it’s that way.” My husband and I look at each other and smile because they are actually agreeing with each other. It is “East” and it’s “that way.”

Portrait of a senor couple happily embracing.
Positive Marital Influence
For their 50th Wedding Anniversary they had a large celebration inviting friends and family from near and far. There were poignant speeches and beautifully wrapped gifts. It was a wonderful testament to their loving marriage.  This summer we celebrated their 55th Wedding Anniversary and it was markedly different.  Only my husband and I and our kids and my husband’s brother were present. The unwrapped present was set out under a fuzzy blanket and it was a private event. You see, mom had a stroke in May and cannot walk independently or use her left arm. Dad attends to her patiently, kindly and lovingly. He plans their future with accommodations she needs in mind. It’s both difficult and incredibly inspiring to watch.
“No research study or training event could teach this marital therapist more about a loving marriage than what I have observed over the past years and particularly this summer.”

No research study or training event could teach this marital therapist more about a loving marriage than what I have observed over the past years and particularly this summer. Mom and dad would tell you their secret to success is their belief in the sanctity of their marriage and an attitude of servant-hood towards each other.

I can tell you how it feels to be with them. The love they show one another in good times and in recent months is amazing.

Surround yourself with couples that believe in the value of marriage. Spend time with couples that are consistently kind, affectionate and committed to one another. It will remind you daily of how to nurture your spouse and your relationship. For them, the little stuff really doesn’t matter. How they think about each other, treat each other and feel about each other, really, really does matter. It’s now 55 years strong.

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We Communicate to Feel Validated https://resolvology.com/communicate-feel-validated https://resolvology.com/communicate-feel-validated#respond Tue, 26 Jul 2016 19:04:23 +0000 https://resolvology.com/?p=3358 What we talk about with our spouse is only the tip of the iceberg of experience. We clearly talk to share information and we also talk to have our emotional needs met.

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We Communicate to Feel Validated

Jeannine Crofton - Calgary Marriage Counsellor

JEANNINE CROFTON

As we saw in the last blog post “Are you in a noisy marriage?” What we talk about with our spouse is only the tip of the iceberg of experience. We clearly talk to share information and we also talk to have our emotional needs met. There is a content level, a process level and an emotional level which are largely unacknowledged in day-to-day communication.

The content level is the information we send and receive. It is based on our perception of what is around us. This information can usually be observed. The next level of communication is the process level and that is the way in which we send messages.  Verbal communication is the most recognized way we communicate but we all know that non-verbal communication is powerful. Lastly we communicate on an emotional level and each time we try to engage we are actually looking for affirmation of our value. It is important in every exchange with our partner.

Carefree young couple embracing on couch.

We Communicate to Feel Validated

When you ask your partner about their plans for the evening you may be looking for information (content level). How you ask your partner about their plans also contributes to your communication. If you are focused on a ball game or involved in a series of exchanges by text with another person that is different than if you set your phone down, look your partner in the eye and seek to read their verbal and non-verbal response. The process of asking the information is important.  If you ask your partner about their plans for the evening you may actually be seeking confirmation that you are important to them (emotional level). If they say they hoped to go for a walk or “hang out” with you that may affirm your value.

“Notice that when we feel most intimately connected we talk easily and when we don’t talk we become emotionally distant. Communication and intimacy are highly connected.”

John Gottman, world-renowned relationship researcher and author of the book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, coined the term “bidding” to describe our bid for attention and response. He suggests that when a spouse speaks to you they are actually seeking affirmation.

I propose that most communication problems happen at an emotional level. When we bid for or respond to bids we have the opportunity to affirm our connection with our partner. Notice that when we feel most intimately connected we talk easily and when we don’t talk we become emotionally distant. Communication and intimacy are highly connected.

So, in your relationship be sure to think about each exchange as having content, process and emotion. It is how you respond to a bid from your partner that makes the difference. Be deliberate to respond on all levels and see what a difference it will make in your relationship.

Jeannine's Signature

Ready to create your next relationship?

Start with a free 20 minute phone consultation.

An Associate at Fong Ailon
115 – 1st Street SW
Calgary, Alberta T2P 0B3

Tel: 403-869-5080

Client Login

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Copyright 2016©

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