Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hitting the Reset Button

We all get angry, but we do not all handle our feelings the same way. When we fight with our partners, we learn alot about each other. While definitely unpleasant, it is a necessary part of co-existing with another, who will not always share your views on everything. After an argument, it is normal to want a time-out to process things. Some need less time than others, but like in a relay race, you have to go at the pace of the slowest person on the team.

While both parties take a time out, it is incredibly helpful to replay the argument and identify what things hit certain trigger points. The point is not to get angry all over again, but rather to be able to isolate the exact words or actions that caused a negative reaction, and then to think through the reasons you had such a viceral reaction. This should later be shared with your partner-- but not until you have found a way to hit reset.

For me, the key to hitting the reset button is actually remembering your love story. You need to remind yourself of the reasons you fell in love with that person, and then ask yourself whether that same person still exists. If that person has not pulled a bait and switch routine on you, then you truly need to ask yourself whether the fault exhibited negates all the good things you see in your partner. So long as you can see that the good continues to outweigh the bad, you should be able to find that reset button, and then you can hopefully have a candid discussion about the argument you experienced-- not to rehash the same crap, but rather to learn from the mistakes made and hopefully avoid each other's triggers in the future.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

3 Steps to Healing

Some of us are quite capable of burying our wounds deep down inside, and we can pour all our efforts into work and other things to keep us sufficiently distracted. But carrying all this baggage around is not healthy, and hiding from our greatest sources of pain will not help us heal. In fact, it is like allowing weeds to grow inside the garden of your heart, and left unattended, it can quite literally choke the life out of you.

Facing up to our greatest disappointments and regrets is not easy, but once we can admit them to ourselves and some of our trusted loved ones, we can at least start to gain some perspective. By accepting our own role in certain unfortunate events, we can at least learn to be better and perhaps act more prudently in the future. By then taking something negative and converting it into a positive experience, we can change our whole outlook on anything, including love and life.

The final phase of healing involves getting closure. When you can let go of the past and start to focus on the future. I know it sounds so cliche, but the best part is definitely in the final phase-- when you can let go of the past, let the pain just wash away, and finally make room in your heart for the possiblity of falling in love again. To truly be able to believe that the best years of your life have not been squandered but are actually yet to come. To be filled once again with hope-- that hands down is indeed the sweetest moment.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day Karma

Two years ago, I have to admit I was not looking forward to Valentine's Day, and so I threw an anti-Valentine's Day party, which included a pinata that featured a Disney princess, which I then crossed out with a large black marker. It was with great glee that I bashed that pinata, together with some other single friends. Let me just be totally honest, the rest of that year was filled with a series of disasterous dates. Needless to say, the following year I respectfully ignored Valentine's Day in silence. In the months that ensued, I found my family, and they filled my heart with more love than I ever thought imaginable.

This year, for those that have been following the blogs lately, it does indeed seem that I've been struck by Cupid. One friend asked me recently if I've finally found my unicorn-- which references a far earlier blog that I wrote stating that finding the perfect man is like a quest for a unicorn. Well, I realize that fairy tale creatures do not exist, and I'm not going to pretend to be able to predict the future, but I will say I am looking forward to a romantic Valentine for the first time in a very long time.

There is no magic formula that we can all apply to secure that perfect Valentine, but I am truly beginning to believe in karma. Negative thoughts tend to breed nothing but further negativity; meanwhile those with positive thoughts and energy seem to invite the right people and opportunities into their lives. Keeping this in mind, maybe we can all stop waiting on Cupid and instead make an effort in our own lives to spread some good Valentine's Day karma.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Meeting Your Own Needs

So often I hear clients talk about how their partners failed them-- but very rarely can people take some responsibility for their own actions that led to the demise of a relationship. As an outsider that has had to delve deep into divorces for over a decade, it is so easy to see how things can fall apart, but the burning question I've had for a while is how do you make things last?

This week, I was able to listen to two different experts-- one a dating coach, the other a life coach-- speak about fulfilling relationships. Both suggested that while we all have needs, it is not our partner's job to meet all of our needs. Some of us require high levels of intellectual stimulation, and as one expert quickly pointed out, that need can be met through books or seminars, not necessarily your partner, who just needs to be your emotional rock. Some of us need to run 4 miles a day just to calm down-- that does not mean we need our partners to run along side us, in fact at that moment all I want is my iphone as my best friend.

Women in the 21st century are certainly proving that they can do almost everything on their own-- but what is the fun in that? It is great to be self-sufficient and independant-- in fact most guys these days don't want someone that is clingy or needy. Being able to find your own fun in the playground is not only fantastic and healthy, but necessary. Just remember, when you are done playing at the end of the day, it is nice to come home to a gentle soul that helps you forget the rat race and will bring you coffee in the morning-- not because he has to, but simply because he loves you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Little Gestures Go A Long Way

Some guys are all about big gifts and grand gestures-- I guess they think it's all about making some magnificent impression. But smart girls know to look beyond the flashy presentation, and it is often the small acts of kindness that go a long way-- like making someone a perfect cup of coffee; making an effort to open the car door; sending a caring text during the day; or calling at the end of the day to check in. This skill in follow through is unfortunately waning these days, so when you find that rare gem that does not actually need to be trained, make sure you let him know how much you appreciate it.

For those that are not naturally inclined to pay attention to little details, you may need to encourage this behavior with a lot of positive reinforcement. Modeling good behavior is always helpful, and making gentle requests (not demands) helps those that are clueless figure out what to do. If you value the person and being in a relationship, then you may need to be patient teaching this skill. Some may just be hopeless, and then you need to decide whether it is something you can live without. The only way to know is by testing it out. I thought I could learn to live without the small attentions to detail, but now that I am reminded of what it is like to have that in my life I realize that for me, it makes all the difference in the world.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Why Are There So Many Pre-Valentine's Day Break Ups?

With almost a week left before the big day, some will find themselves dreading this artificially created holiday, unable to make any plans, and feeling quite unmotivated to buy any gifts or cards. Feelings can only be ignored for so long, and unfortunately it is often at milestone moments like anniversaries, holidays or V-Day that we have to come to terms with how we truly feel in any given relationship. If you are not looking forward to sharing this day of love with someone, it is hard to ignore the question: why not?

Love is built on trust, respect and intimacy. It is something we all have to keep working at through open communications. Like a garden that needs tending, you have to keep putting an effort into those relationships that matter, and when issues about trust, respect or intimacy come up-- do not ignore them. Many dilude themselves into thinking some issues will blow over or they are not as big as they seem. Letting time to pass is doing nothing to rectify problems, which ultimately cannot be ignored, particularly when special events come up.

So, if you find yourself of the verge of a break-up around this time, know that you are in good company. Then be honest with yourself in terms of deciphering whether the issues in this relationship can be addressed and whether this is a relationship worth fixing. It is hard to separate things out, but as best you can, try to ask yourself whether you actually like being with that person or do you just like the idea of being in a relationship? If it is the latter, just remember there are plenty of other fish in the sea. Break ups are hard, but relationships are not meant to be a source of pain. Sometimes, we simply have to cut someone loose in order to get to a better place.