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The Secure Couple’s Guide to Conflict Resolution.

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In the final installment of the Attachment series, we will deal with the subject of conflict resolution. One misconception about marriages & great relationships is that these couples’ don’t have conflict. Quite the contrary! It’s not the that they don’t have conflict, they just have the right tools to handle it. According to Attachment researchers conflict can serve as a way for couples to get closer and deepen their bond, not drive them apart like in anxious/avoidant relationships.

Individuals have a distinct way to deal with conflict that could be helpful to individuals that have a different attachment style.

These five distinct practices can help diffuse and resolve conflict.

  1. Show basic concern for the other person’s well-being. (Our happiness is dependent on the other and vice-versa.)
  2. Maintain focus on the problem at hand. (When there’s a willingness to resolve a specific problem, people feel that they’re being heard and it brings both parties closer together.)
  3. Refrain from generalizing the conflict. (By keeping the argument restricted to the topic they avoid making disparaging remarks and blowing things out of proportion.)
  4. Be willing to engage (When you are both willing to stay and deal with the issue do you find a resolution that you can both live with and the process helps them be more in-tune with each other.)
  5. Effectively communicate feelings and needs. (Effectively expressing your emotional needs is even better than the other person magically reading your mind. By being an active agent it opens the door to a more emotional, richer dialogue.

Why can’t insecure couples adopt these practices.

Individuals who are anxious, or avoidants have several aspects that make it difficult for them to adopt these conflict resolution principles.

An anxious partner will have their basic concerns about their partners responsiveness to their needs about being rejected or abandoned. When a conflict arises, they experience many negative thoughts and react by using any behavior to get their partner’s attention. Their response is often dramatic, but ineffective.

An avoidant person is also concerned about their partner not really being their for them, but they will deal with concerns in a totally different way. They will suppress their need for closeness by shutting down emotionally and adopting a sense of independence. The more personal the conflict becomes, the stronger their urge grows to distance themselves from the situation.

Secure Principles can work for any relationship.

If you or your partner has an anxious/avoidant attachment style, you will have to work harder to make the relationship work especially when conflicts arise. Being centered on your own needs and hurts can cause a lot of trouble. You must keep these truths in mind when dealing with conflict.

  • A single fight is not a relationship breaker.
  • Express your fears! Don’t let them dictate your actions. If you’re afraid that s/he wants to reject you,say so.
  • Don’t assume you are to blame for your partner’s  bad mood. It is most likely not because of you.
  • Trust that your partner will be caring and responsive and go ahead and express your needs.
  • Don’t expect your partner to know what you’re thinking. If you haven’t told him/her what’s on your mind, s/he doesn’t know.

I hope that this series will help you restore your faith in relationships and that they shouldn’t be left to chance. Relationships are one of the most rewarding of human experiences above and beyond other gifts that life has to offer. If couples can understand that a mismatched attachment style can lead to a great deal of unhappiness in relationships and work hard to tend to each other’s relationship well-being, you will give yourself the best shot at finding deeply, gratifying love.

Coach Keith

 

Material based on the book Attached. The New Science of Adult 
Attachment and How It Can Help YOU Find and Keep Love.
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Attachment Series

 

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Does your man make you feel trapped without escape?

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If you are an anxious woman and you are dating a man whose M.O. is to constantly avoid intimacy it may feel like a trap without an escape hatch.

Consider this example, you are dating a guy for 6 months and you experience the same disagreements over and over. You are constantly complaining about his obsession with staying in contact with his former girlfriends on Twitter, while he can’t stand when you are checking up on him every time he goes out with his boys. He feels you have separation anxiety and are too jealous. He makes sure that you know it as well. And you know, he is right. You, as a person that has an anxious attachment style can’t control it when these feelings are activated.

Being in this type of relationship is like riding a stationary bike. You are constantly peddling, but going nowhere.When it comes to intimacy and closeness, you are dealing with opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to an anxious-avoidant couple. When one person, “the anxious” tries to get closer, the other “the avoidant” does everything in its power to squash those feelings. According to Dr. Amir Levine, author of Attached., the closer the anxious tries to get, the more distant the avoidant acts. To make matters worse, one partner’s constant need for closeness further reinforces the other’s need to pull away.The type of relational is a vicious cycle and they both remain in the relationship “danger zone”.

Are you in this zone? Here’s what your relationship constantly feels like:

  • indexThe Kinda Qa effect – you will never feel like your relationship is solid. When he decides that he wants to feel close to you, which will mostly involve sex, he will do so. This will activate your intimacy levels to a high level each and every time, only for him to pull pack which will leave the thrill ride over.
  • Be prepared for your self-esteem to take a hit. – In order to exert their independence and power, avoidants will say and do things that negatively affect your self-esteem leaving you feeling need and incapable.
  • If your relationship lasts, you will constantly question if the grass is greener.
  • You will fight about everything else except what you should. – All your fights will be about little things with the undertone of why we aren’t closer.
  • You feel lonely in the inner circle. – You will be dismayed why you are treated like a pariah, when you should be treated like royalty.

How these characteristics translate to your dating reality.

Even though you have fallen in love with this avoidant man, you will find that it’s almost impossible to receive the same love back without conditions.

  1. You will make concessions to the boundaries that are drawn – Your man will have specific rules that you will have to maintain in order for the relationship to exist.
  2. Your intimacy differences will spillover to every aspect of your shared life;from the way you sleep together to how your raise your kids. With every new relationship development the intimacy gap may get wider and wider.
  3. Conflict is often left unresolved to maintain the boundary. In order to resolve any conflict, both parties must create a certain amount of closeness in order to achieve it. While that a sought after emotion for the anxious, it’s uncomfortable for the avoidant.
  4. With every conflict situation you lose more ground with your avoidant man. As you try to reach out to reconcile with him,  he meets you with more hostility.

The trap without the escape continues and any hope of a normal, intimate solid relationship is washed down the drain.

In order to move toward more security, in the next blog we will provide ways for this type of couple to feel less threatened figure out how to activate/deactivate those core emotions to get out of the “danger zone”.

What are your thoughts on this matter? How has your man made you feel trapped?

Coach Keith

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2013 in Attachment Series

 

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She Said/He Said – an Entrepreneurial Dillemma

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This weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend a two-day Father/Son basketball camp with my oldest son. There were many dad’s that were there either trying to reclaim their youth or was just excited to spend some quality time with their son. For me it was a little bit of both.

While at breakfast, I struck up a conversation with Ronald, a fellow Jerseyan about his statistics. You know, where are you from, what do you do, etc…What was fascinating to me was not what he did for a living, but what he gave up. Ronald was an accomplished, self-taught IT entrepreneur that worked for Charles Schwab for 20 years until he was recently laid off. He decided to go out on his own and after a few months and was making the same money just working 3 days a week. When he wasn’t working he would spend his free time on his motorcycle, taking care of the kids, or doing what IT people do, play on the computer. He felt things were going well.

His wife on the other hand didn’t view his career choice the same way. She was a successful accountant that worked very hard 5 days a week. Even though her husband felt he was doing well, she felt that he wasn’t working hard enough, especially when she saw how much fun he was having. She felt that if he could earn the same amount of money working just 3 days a week, imagine if he worked every day. This was a source of conflict for them as couple. Ultimately he gave up his entrepreneurial dreams and went back to a 9 to 5.

In this post of  He Said/She Said who do you feel was right?

Should the husband have stuck to his guns and maintained his business?

Or, the wife for wanting him to have more structure and work as many hours as she was.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in She Said/He Said

 

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McDreamy gives 3 reasons why Husbands are Nervous about their Breadwinner Wives!

Last week the New York Times

printed an essay from Richard Thaler, a professor at the University of Chicago’s business school, that women are now the primary earners for nearly half of American families with children.

Some of the reasons they offered as the cause was that women with greater earning power have greater economic security so they can leave bad marriages. And another possibility is that many men seem to be clinging to a social norm from the “Mad Men” days: that the husband should be the primary earner in a family.

Even though these reasons may be valid, there is a real problem in place that can only eloquently stated by McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey in the movie Freedom Writers. It’s about an idealist teacher named Erin Gruwell, played by Hillary Swank in her first teaching at Woodrow Wilson High School, which, two years earlier, implemented a voluntary integration program. For many of the existing teachers, the integration has ruined the school, whose previously stellar academic standing has been replaced with many students who will be lucky to graduate or even be literate. Hillary Swank was newly married to Scott Casey played by Dempsey. Overtime as Hillary’s character got closer to her students and they began to respond, Dempsey became more distant and withdrawn.

It all came to dramatic end after Hillary went on one of her trips with the students. In this scene, Dempsey echoed the feelings on how many husbands feel when their wives become the major breadwinner.

 

He never thought their marriage would be this way! – Over the course of movie, Patrick Dempsey increasingly became more aggravated with his wife as she began to do more to provide for her students. In his job, it’s safe to say that he was unable to have the type of dream job he wanted because he had to make sure they had stability which was a source of resentment for him.

Men feel the need to be needed! – If women are devoting so much of their quality time at work, or doing other outside activities, they feel their wives will no longer need them. Most men as Dempsey calls it, “Don’t want to be the wife.”

Men want to always feel they will choose them! At some point if the husband feels their spouse will choose their career or endeavor over them, they feel they have no choice, but to either leave or find someone who will appreciate them being the focus of the relationship.

What do you think about McDreamy’s comments?  Is he right about his feelings.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in iLoveStrong QoTD

 

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Survey – Are you iLoveStrong Happy Couple

As a relationship coach and a follower of all things relationships, I come across all sorts of surveys: 10 tips to do this, 10 tips to do that. This morning I ran across this survey, 10 Things Happy Couples Do in Real Age, and I felt this is the type of environment I try to provide couples in my coaching practice. I would love to share these questions with you to see if you are truly an iLoveStrong Couple, and if you aren’t what could be done about it.

1. Do you feel the love in your marriage should be intense all the time or will grow over time?

Couples who start out thinking the fiery intensity of new romance will last forever lose 50% of their passion for each other after just 18 months, according to Harvard psychologist Robert Epstein, PhD. The couples who grow happier over time are the ones who understand that love evolves, becoming calmer, deeper, richer, and more powerful.

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2. During arguments, do you play nice or do you find a way to jab your spouse any chance you get?

The happiest couples do something other couples often don’t: They’re kind to each another. Happy partners simply don’t get mean or nasty with each other, even during arguments. “Happy couples treat each other like best friends,” says David Penner, PhD, assistant clinical director of the Gottman Relationship Institute. “They’re nice to each other across the board. That’s what builds loving feelings.”

3.During bedtime, is it all about sex, or talk?

Talking, not just fooling around is tops on the list of the most important things happy couples do in bed. Spending a few minutes chatting every night before sleep lets you catch up, make plans, and discuss problems in a quiet, tender setting, explains University of Minnesota family social science professor Paul Rosenblatt, PhD, author of Two in a Bed: The Social System of Couple Bed Sharing.

4. When you go out on a date, is it always by yourselves?

Dinners for two are great, but dinners for four can be just as empowering for a relationship. Bonding with other couples actually strengthens your own relationship, according to a 2010 study at Wayne State University. Having open, intimate conversations with other twosomes reinforces your own sense of togetherness. Being close to them makes you feel closer to each other.

5. If two of you are different, are you ashamed of it, or do you embrace it?

Happy couples bring their differences out into the open rather than denying or dismissing them. “Put issues on the table, and look for ways you can work around them,” he says. “The process of examination and renewal makes the threats diminish.”
6. When you spend time talking is it always about the weather?
Couples who have deep conversations are far likelier to be happy than couples who always keep it light, according to a 2010 study in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers report that the happiest couples have twice as many substantive discussions — and far fewer superficial ones — as the unhappiest couples.
7. Do you believe in teamwork makes the dream work?
If you’re both pretty lazy when it comes to working out your problems, you can be just as happy as partners who put in a lot of effort. What matters is that you both feel you devote the same amount of care and effort — a lot or a little — to keeping your relationship strong, according to a 2011 study in Psychological Science. Happiness doesn’t necessarily depend on how intense your level of commitment is, but on how mutual it is.
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8. Do you believe your conflicts should be confrontational or avoided?
It’s impossible to avoid arguments entirely. In fact, they happen frequently. But the happiest couples keep conflicts from becoming confrontations. They soften their approach when bringing up tough issues. And neither feels as if one of them always gets his or her way. Each occasionally yields to the other.
9. Do you have more negative statements for your spouse, than positive ones?
Happy couples make at least five times as many positive statements to and about each other as negative ones, even when they are arguing, says Dr. Penner. It’s not expected to always be nice, but it pays off by solidifying the bond between you.
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10. Do you think about bailing on the marriage whenever obstacle occur?
Up to 80% of those who are most committed to marriage contemplate divorce at some point, says Dr. Epstein. But slogging through bad times can make both of you happier than ever. “If you can do that and get to the other side, it makes the relationship stronger,” he adds. “It strengthens love.”
If you answered yes, to more than half of these questions, but you want to change consider Strive 2 Succeed Coaching Services. I can help you acknowledge the things that are holding you back to having the happy marriage that you want and deserve. If you would to provide feedback or would like to talk about my services contact me here:

 
 

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5 tips for iLoveStrong Couples need to help battle the Cancer together.

This past season, I really enjoyed the TV show Parenthood, because it tackled the today’s topic,  5 tips for iLoveStrong Couples need to help battle Cancer together.

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http://www.hulu.com/watch/405090

In a recent article in the New York Times, Dr. Shapiro, the author of a new book, “And in Health: A Guide for Couples Facing Cancer Together.” gave advice that can help prevent the diagnosis from damaging one’s most important relationship.

He wrote, “Cancer, is like a tremor that rattles our walls and finds the fault lines that already existed. If we’re not careful, it reaches into our relationships and drags out these subtle differences and magnifies them.”

For most marriages, certain things go unsaid, like certain needs that aren’t being met by the other partner, or accommodating your partner out of fear or conflict. Couples don’t deal with these issues immediately because they feel that there will always be a day to talk about them.

When the Big “C” (cancer) comes or any serious illness for that matter can only exacerbate this issue. Dr. Shapiro, who had cancer himself, stated, “Withholding my feelings was a big mistake. “By not being honest with my wife,” he said, “you can create a wedge in the relationship at a time when you both need understanding and support.”

Cancer can cause people to lose their bearings and to push away those they love and most need to help them through the challenges of treatment. if this is you, here are 5 tips that can strengthen your marriage as you fight cancer together.

  1. Teamwork Is Essential – When a spouse is faced with the challenge of a potentially fatal diagnosis like cancer, he/she will often have difficulty remembering everything doctors tell them and correctly interpreting the information. Couples should see doctors as a team, with one assigned to take notes and both able to ask questions, misunderstandings about diagnoses and treatment options are less likely.If doctors fail to adequately address the patient’s concerns, the couple should decide which partner will speak up. And when both members of a couple are educated about side effects, they are less likely to panic when a symptom develops.
  2. Talk and Touch – A mastectomy affects a woman’s sexuality. A woman may feel less attractive or  desirable after the operation. She may be unwilling or extremely anxious and  self-conscious about her partner seeing her naked. This affects her libido. The  sex drive in mastectomy patients decreases immediately after the operation as  does the amount of sex she has. As the husband, it’s important that whenever and however you can, express and show your love and concern in words, actions and touch. When faced with cancer, Dr. Shapiro’s wife needed him to say, repeatedly, that he loved her. “And she wanted me to take the trash down to the street on time without being reminded,” he added.  “A soft nonsexual touch on the arm or shoulder can be a soothing balm when we feel vulnerable,” Dr. Shapiro wrote.
  3. Mistakes are learning opportunities Couples must rely more than ever on patience and tolerance. “Cancer requires a whole new set of skills at a time when most of us are depleted, distracted and scared,” he wrote. Each person should go easy on the partner when “rookie mistakes” occur, like forgetting appointments, losing things or locking the keys in the car.When people are anxious, they may deflect their feelings to their partner. For example, when couples are waiting for the results of treatment, rather than take out their anxiety on spouses, themselves or anyone else, Dr. Shapiro suggests, “Do exercise, go for walks, see a movie, talk to friends and distract yourself.”
  4. Mind reading is not an option Patients often expect their partners to know how they are feeling and what they may want, then resent it when unexpressed needs are not met.A patient’s ability and energy to perform tasks may change from one day to the next. Patients may feel unsupported if their partners expect them to function normally when they feel awful, or they may resent having jobs taken from them when they feel well. It’s better to ask than to assume. Both should “talk about what needs to be done today and who’s going to do it,” Dr. Shapiro advised. He encourages spouses to repeatedly check in with each other about various tasks.
  5. Prepare for the Unknown No one can ever predict if cancer will go into remission, or will take a turn for the worse.In Dr. Shapiro’s book, he urges couples to have a conversation about end-of-life care, making clear their wishes in case a spouse later faces decisions about life support.“Advanced directives are a lasting gift” for those you love, Dr. Shapiro said. One woman he interviewed lost her chance to spend the last months with her husband in the way she wanted because the doctors pursued treatment even as he was dying.

In the end these 5 tips will strengthen your marriage during your battle with cancer? If you are a person that has battled a serious illness what are some things you suggest that can help you are your spouse become closer?

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Fun Friday – Marriage Conflict

Is the conflict in your marriage this bad, where you argue about the littlest things?

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Have a great weekend and enjoy the weather!

Coach Keith

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Fun Friday

 

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