Posts

I cannot tell you how many times my wife has been bothered by something I did or said that stayed on her mind all day long. Over and over it plays in her mind…

Why did he say that? What was he thinking? He made me feel like this…What he did bothered me because… He must’ve meant something different… How does this affect our children? and on and on.

At the end of the day, I get home from work having no idea what she’s been internally processing all day and then she asks, “Can we talk?” Very early in the conversation I realize that: a) I had no idea that she was bothered by something I did or said and b) she’s obviously been thinking about this all day. So, I do what any unsuspecting spouse would do. I say, “Can we talk about this later?”

There’s a whole lot behind this question that I believe some spouses, usually ladies, do not understand. Research suggests that ladies naturally process their feelings, thoughts and emotions out loud and on the fly. And that’s a good thing. That’s why when I ask my wife, “Can we talk?” she generally embraces it because it means we are about to connect. She doesn’t mind chatting with me about feelings, even if she doesn’t initially know the direction the conversation is headed.

Research also suggests that men do not do as well processing thoughts, feelings and emotions out loud in the midst of the conversation, especially without being forewarned. We need space and time to understand our own place in any given issue. That’s why my “Can we talk about this later?” question was meant to be interpreted as, “I need some time to mentally revisit what caused the issue, think through why I may have done or said it, and gather my thoughts so that we can have a conversation that is truly reflective of the type of relationship we desire to have.”

Ladies, I know it’s hard, but give him a little space to process before you talk. Then, choose a time the two of you agree on (within 24 hours, but the quicker the better), and revisit the conversation so that no issue becomes bigger than your relationship.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Shaunti Feldhahn is a Harvard-educated analyst who wants to enable men and women to have healthy, long-lasting marriages.

“I travel a lot,” says Feldhahn. “People frequently ask me what I do, and my usual response is: ‘I help women understand men.’ The men usually laugh and say, ‘You know, we really aren’t that complicated.'”

Feldhahn’s research found that in most cases, relationship problems happen when a husband and wife care deeply for each other and are trying really hard, but often in the wrong areas.

“I ended up writing For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men to help open people’s eyes so they start trying hard in the areas that will help them avoid hurting each other unnecessarily,” Feldhahn says. “We asked men and women ages 15-75 to tell us: ‘What are your fears, what are the things that light you up, and what makes you feel really bad?'”

Women wanted to know: Am I lovable? Am I special? Am I worth loving for who I am on the inside? 

Guys wanted to know: Am I adequate? Am I able? Am I any good at what I do on the outside?

“These responses were significant,” Feldhahn says. “‘Am I adequate?’ leads to an entirely different set of primary needs than, ‘Am I lovable?’ A solid three-quarters of the men surveyed said, if they were forced to choose, they would choose giving up feeling loved by their wife if they could just feel respected by her.”

Feldhahn realized that women could tell their husbands they love them and be critical at the same time. It happens by questioning his decision-making skills and constantly telling him what to do and how to do it.

“Trying to gain a greater understanding of this, I was speaking with a friend who made the statement to me, ‘I love my wife, but nothing I do is ever good enough,'” Feldhahn says. “I asked what he meant. He told me that they recently had friends over for dinner. When the friends left, his wife needed to run to a meeting so he cleaned up the kitchen. When she returned home she kissed his cheek and looked over his shoulder into the kitchen and sighed. She then went into the kitchen and started cleaning the countertops. I asked the husband if there was anything his wife could have done differently. He said, ‘Yes, she could have said thanks.'”

Feldhahn contends that many women make men feel that what they do isn’t good enough and that they are idiots. In fact, women often say it is their job to keep their husband humble. In reality, underneath the mask of confidence, most men want to do a good job in whatever role, but they aren’t sure they know what they are doing. And they hope nobody finds out.

“When we as women are thinking about something you know it because we process out loud,” Feldhahn says. “When men are thinking, they almost do an internal chess match before they ever talk about it. Our research showed that in most cases, if you see a decision, instead of asking ‘Why did you do that?’ if you will ask, ‘Help me understand,’ in most cases you will hear a long explanation.”

For example, a wife went out to a birthday party, leaving Dad with the kids. When she returned, she asked her husband why he had given the kids juice for dinner instead of milk. He got mad. She got defensive, and things went downhill from there.

“I asked the husband to help us understand. He said, ‘I went to the fridge to get the milk and realized if I gave them milk for dinner there wouldn’t be enough for breakfast. I was going to go get more milk, but the baby was already asleep, and we’ve been having a terrible time with her sleep cycle, so I didn’t want to wake her up just to go get milk. I decided to give the kids juice, which I diluted by half with water so they wouldn’t have as much sugar.’ The look on his wife’s face said it all. This was a perfect example of assuming there was no thinking behind the behavior.”

Feldhahn believes it’s important to let your husband be the dad he wants to be, not the dad you want him to be. Feldhahn encourages women to stop sending signals or telling your man he is inadequate and doesn’t measure up. Instead of questioning his decisions, assume he has thought about it and seek to understand.

 

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

If you could have paradise however you imagine it, what would it look like?

If you could have that kind of paradise, do whatever you wanted to do there and be in charge of it, would you go there?

If you could have that kind of paradise, but with no one else, would you still go?

“These are questions I ask couples across this country and internationally,” says counselor Dr. Rick Marks. “As fed up as they might be with their marriage or relationship and as tempting as it may be, these questions actually create tension in a person because human beings were not designed to be alone. I rarely come across a person who says they would take that kind of paradise. Yet, I talk with hundreds of couples who are married and living a lonely existence.”

Marks contends that the remedy for human aloneness is intimacy. Everybody craves intimacy, and people will find ways to get it.

“Pain pursues pleasure,” Marks says. “Your brain is wired to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. We are all driven by our needs until the day we die. When you don’t feel loved, you search for ways to get that need met. This is why some people will say to you, ‘Bad love is better than no love at all.’”

Consider this: If you had not eaten in five days and someone gave you a bunch of hamburgers, would it satisfy your hunger? Yes, because the message to your brain is that you are eating something. Eating rat poison instead of hamburgers would also satisfy your need initially. Why? Because your brain would still release the same squirt of dopamine to signal that the need had been met.

“This is what people often do in marriage when things aren’t going well,” Marks says. “If I need attention and I get any kind of attention, I feel loved – even if the attention comes from the wrong person. People will go to rat poison to get their needs met, because it satisfies the need in the moment. Needs – met or unmet – affect how we think, feel and behave.”

How would you respond to the question, “Do you feel loved and valued in your marriage?”

Believe it or not, creating intimacy in your marriage isn’t only about your spouse. Sometimes husbands and wives actually hinder getting their intimacy needs met due to prideful self-reliance, exalting their own needs as more important than those of their spouse and being hypersensitive.

“Your spouse could actually be trying to love you, but due to your pridefulness, you refuse to receive it,” Marks says. “We are often so focused on our own needs that we don’t pay attention to the needs of our spouse. This is a recipe for disaster. I, along with many others, have experienced this miserable existence.”

So, what can you do to increase intimacy in your marriage?

  • Discuss with your spouse: When do each of you feel loved and valued?

  • Then ask yourself: Do I make it difficult to create intimacy in my marriage?

Honest answers to these questions will help you pinpoint the areas where each of you can meet the other’s needs. This healthy balance of give and take can help you produce a more intimate and fulfilling marriage relationship.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Parents of young children often discuss among themselves whether they are doing all the right things to help their kids become healthy, happy adults.

How many activities should they be involved in? How much sleep do they really need? Is it bad to fix something different for each child for dinner? Am I a bad parent if I don’t (you fill in the blank)?

While these are all questions worth considering, every person has two basic needs – the need to know who you are and where you belong in the family.

The parent should help each member of the family be who they are as an individual and to understand how to connect and fit in with the rest of the family. This is a great case for not treating every child exactly the same. Personalities, temperaments and needs are different for each family member.

The parent’s role is to lead and the child’s role is to follow. So, how do you know if you are in charge or if your child is running the show?

You may need to reevaluate what is taking place if any of the following scenarios apply in your home:

  • You think it is OK for your child to tell you what to do;
  • Your child’s behavior intimidates you;
  • You change your response because your child throws a tantrum, pouts or withdraws;
  • Fear of your child’s response changes the way you handle something;
  • You allow emotions – such as guilt, fear that your child won’t love you or won’t be happy with you – to dictate your decisions instead of answering the question, “What is in the best interest of my child?”

It’s not healthy for kids to rule the roost if you want to help them grow up and become independent. Even when they push the edge of the envelope, they are still counting on you to lead.

Research consistently shows that healthy families have similar patterns – adults are in charge of the family, each person is able to be close and separated from other family members, and the family expects and adapts to change as needed.

According to the authors of Survival Skills for Healthy Families, each person in the family needs to know three things:

  • How to speak up and say what they need. The ability to say what you want helps others to know what you are thinking and feeling. As an added bonus, it opens the door for understanding.
  • How to listen – As a listener, you can choose to seek connection, be respectful and look for understanding. Or, you can react, fight and argue instead.
  • How to cooperate – Teach your children how to find balance between their needs and the needs of other members of the family.

While children are under your roof, they need to know they can count on parents to be in charge. But, they also need to know they belong and how to use their voice. Mastering these skills earlier in life can be a real gift to your entire family – and for future generations.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on March 26, 2017.