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Here we are in spring and sheltering in place with our partners and families 24/7, something we seldom ever do. For some, it will seem like a blessing, a time to celebrate their relationship and become even closer emotionally. For others, it can seem like a curse with increasing conflicts, pressure, and frustrations.
I'm hearing about such from clients and peers. I am hearing from my clients, peers, and colleagues about their struggles. It is reported that China is seeing a rise in divorce filings as couples emerge from their long quarantine. In reality, conflict doesn't always have to mean things are bad. Handled properly, it can lead to better understanding and deeper emotional ties.
So, let's talk a bit about how to deal with conflicts successfully. The key to a successful, long-term relationship is ...
The old saying, "actions speak louder than words," holds true when it comes to expressing the love we feel for others. This behavior may come easy to you, or you may struggle with showing your love, and if that's the case, you are not alone.
Previous traumas, relationship experiences, and past patterns of how love was modeled for you as a child, all play a role in how you express love to those for which you care. The good news is, by actively showing love, you'll receive it back in ways you never expected.
Rather than focusing on how much you are loved, shift your awareness to how much you express love. It's not to say that you neglect yourself. Instead, it's like looking at the glass half full or half empty. Try looking at the ways people express their love, with some of the following:
Life can be challenging, and it's special to go through it with someone that has your back.
Having a sense of togetherness does not necessarily mean agreeing all the time. Being able to mutually see that what your partner is going through makes sense for them, based on who they are and how they think and feel, is crucial for a good connection.
Here are the top five qualities of a strong relationship...
This global pandemic, COVID-19, is happening to everyone! Everyone will have some trauma history after living through this crisis. Every child now has at least one point on the ACE score! (Learn more about the ACEs study and its connection to trauma and health.) Everyone needs support to build up their resilience right now, during COVID-19.
If you are already identified as a trauma survivor, pre-pandemic, this health crisis – a threat to safety for all - may be making daily life even more difficult for you. This is difficult for everyone!
Trauma survivors are responding to this crisis in different ways (like everyone else). For some, strong survivor parts of self, that kept them alive through childhood or early trauma, are coming out and trying to lead the way forward. Those parts know how to survive!
For others, they are frozen, their anxiety is triggered, and they feel paralyzed. For many, each day brings out different feelings or parts of themselves. It can be unpredictable. Trauma survivors are feeling further validated in their belief that nothing is safe, and they are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It’s okay if you’re struggling right now. It’s also okay if you’re not struggling right now! Whichever way you are feeling right now, I want to remind you of these points. We are all in this together. You are not alone.
Imagine scripting a perfect day with your partner...
You set out on a hike on a beautiful Sunday morning, take a dip at a refreshing waterfall with no one around, snack on the fruit salad and sandwiches you prepared together, and – feeling connected and energized – you head back home.
And then one of you says something. Maybe your husband says, “Why can’t we do this all the time?” While the words alone might seem innocent enough, you hear something else. You infer from the tone his “never-ending” complaint that you work too much. Suddenly, the adrenaline and cortisol pump through your veins, and you react, “Maybe we could if I didn’t have to work so much to pick up your slack.”
In a flash, THAT moment defines the day. And after a few more choice exchanges, that moment defines the next few days as you both retreat into bitter silence.
Humans have what is known as a “negativity bias.” In short, the bad stuff outweighs the good stuff. We gravitate towards and dwell on the one thing that did not go well rather than the five things that did go well. It’s all too common for this negativity to consume our relationships and distort our thinking.
Your partner is a pain in the butt! You probably already know this, but what you may not know is that this is the way it is supposed to be. Sorry, it’s unavoidable. Everyone is difficult close-up, even you. “But this is so unfair!” you might think. “My friends are easy.” Marry them, and they won’t be. This is usually the first thing relationship experts Harville Hendrix and Stan Tatkin point out.
Commitment creates a unique environment with its own law of physics. What goes on in the rest of the world doesn’t apply. Primary partners get close, very close, and this is the problem.
Of course, you didn’t realize this when you first met, and neither did they. You didn’t notice because you both were high on drugs. Your pituitary glands secreted love hormones, and you fed off each other with high excitement and obsession. You have so much in common. You are so much alike.
Everything is wonderful. But it doesn’t last. The hormones fade, and what you are left with is a partner who knows exactly how to try your last nerve.
The increased stress from the Coronavirus impacts each of us differently in all of our relationships. Some of us may be feeling lonely, even if we're living with others, while some may feel tired and overwhelmed by the constant togetherness. Some may be experiencing painful disconnection and continuous conflict. In contrast, others may be grateful for more connection time and intimacy. My husband and I have felt a combination of all these feelings.
Being quarantined will intensify the positives and negatives in any relationship. In an instant, we've shifted to eating together three meals a day, renegotiating chores of laundry, dishes, cooking, shopping, and more. For parents with kids at home, they’ve had to shift more with new roles of teacher, camp counselor, sports coach, arts and crafts director, home chef, and house cleaner, and all while juggling their own professional jobs. These are massive shifts for even the most resilient couples! We are rapidly shifting without our escape valves too. There is no working out at the gym or enjoying an afternoon Starbucks coffee.
These are only the daily internal stressors. Many of us are facing external stressors: job insecurity, financial uncertainty, fear of illness, lack of control about the future, and grief for the most marginalized and vulnerable in our world.
Walking down the strip in South Beach on one Saturday night, we passed a woman in her late 30's dressed up for the evening, sporting a frilly, very low-cut blouse. I asked my husband, "What do you think she has in mind?" He didn't skip a beat in answering, "Finding someone to have sex with tonight."
Although that's a possibility, a likely intention I attributed to her was that she was looking to attract someone with whom she'd like to have sex with at some point, and perhaps a relationship. However, looking through my husband's lens, his thought was logical, just as if he was wearing a fig leaf would signal "looking for sex . . . now."
Here are six myths about female sexuality that will help clear up some common misunderstandings: Myth #1...
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