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  • Find out the best response for dealing with an angry spouse.
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  • Over 30 Exercises to Get Your Marriage Back on Track! Do them yourself OR with your partner. They're uncomplicated, quick to do, and - most importantly - help you save your marriage!

Visit my website and reclaim your marriage and your happiness now!


Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

posted by Andrew

While answering a submission for a client the other day, I was aware that the woman I was working with had never stepped outside her comfort zone. What I mean by this is that she had spent a lifetime avoiding anything she didn’t like the look of, and simply avoiding any issues that she came across.

Some would say she had a stress-free life. Some would say she had a sheltered life. I felt that she had done herself a disservice in sheltering herself from the issues surrounding her, because now that she had a marriage crisis she never had the capability to face the problem or find solutions or ways to overcome it.

I told her that she needed to step outside her comfort zone if she was going to grow and learn from this experience. And this got me to wondering about the significance of this statement.

As we live our lives, whether we choose to or not, we develop routines and rituals that define us and the way we live our lives. The routines and rituals feel familiar, feel safe, and don’t challenge us in the way that the world outside our bubble does. The bubble we create is called our comfort zone, and it is possible to live in complete harmony in the unchanging nature of our zone, with the security of knowing that nothing is going to change or challenge us as long as we stay within it.

When we talk about being in our comfort zone, this can apply to our work, our living environment, our friendships, and even our relationships. You become so used to something you become reluctant to change or let it go.

The danger in not stepping outside your comfort zone is that you avoid the need to learn anything or grow as a person. Every opportunity and experience in life, whether it is good or bad, allows us the opportunity to learn a lesson, either about ourselves or about those around us.

Stepping outside the zone can seem scary or challenging, but it is at times like this in our life that our capacity to learn is increased immeasurably. Our period of greatest transformation is when we are challenging our sense of comfort and challenging our perceptions of what we are capable of.

Sometimes the path through your marriage crisis toward marital bliss on the other side seems impossible. Sometimes it seems like you just can’t do it. But in stepping outside your limits and pushing yourself, you can find an inner strength and understanding that makes your marital resolution possible and achievable.

Instead of looking at your problems as a time of pain and frustration, examine what you can learn from this. What can your crisis teach you? Examine the ways you can push yourself to a higher level of understanding and find a strength you never knew  you had.

It all begins with one step. And a whole lot of belief.

Angry Little Men

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

posted by Andrew

Angry little men.

That’s what they are. I deal with a lot of different people in the work that I do, and in the course of my work I have the fortune of mixing with some wonderful, warm, and insightful souls. I see and hear from a variety of different people right across the broad range of individuals that make up our society, and every so often I come across some very angry and troubled souls.

They are pretty easy to spot. In fact, they really like to make themselves heard. I’m not sure if they challenge me because they feel threatened by the success and the following that our course  has, or whether they are challenging me to fix their problems which to them may seem quite impossible. Nevertheless, I have gems of wisdom to offer even the most defensive and hardened souls.

Often I receive challenges as emails, challenging me and wondering who I think I am, imparting wisdom and thoughts to people in marital crisis. Some tell me that the insights I offer are wrong, sometimes irresponsible, sometimes even challenge the credibility of our course.

The Save My Marriage Today course has been online now for several years, and continues to support thousands of couples in their time of crisis. I encourage people to think. I encourage people to take a closer look at their actions and interactions with others. I challenge people to examine their crisis and identify opportunities for growth. Sometimes people agree with the information our course imparts, sometimes people don’t. I make no apologies for that.

But in attacking something you don’t like or understand, you tell others a lot about where you are at. Sometimes it is easier to attack others than deal with the real issues that are going on inside you or in your relationship. In attacking others, it temporarily boosts one’s self esteem and makes you feel better about yourself. But it is only a temporary thing.

Projecting your anger outwards is as effective as facing down a tank with a slingshot. It doesn’t help you fix your issues, and it doesn’t make others feel better about you either. It exposes insecurities and breeds contempt. It also aids in communication breakdown and works against the whole idea of fixing the problems that need to be addressed!

Marriage problems can be a very powerless and frightening time. The temptation to lash out is strong,  but the greatest benefit can be derived in taking responsibility for your actions and resisting the temptation to project outwards. Marital issues can be incredibly varied, but often the problems are further compounded by poor communication and misdirected anger.

My grandmother always told me you get much further in life with a little sugar rather than vinegar. Dealing with your problems like an adult and taking responsibility for your responses is one of the key steps to adulthood and understanding the complex nature of human relationships and marriages. Your marital crisis is an opportunity for growth. So let me help you learn and grow.

Looking Inwards

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

posted by Andrew

I was called to an intervention the other day, between an old friend of mine and her son. She was convinced that her son’s rebellion against authority and her way of life was indicative of him being on drugs.

Apparently he had changed a lot over the course of the last couple of years, and this caused my friend a lot of distress. He went out a lot, came home late, didn’t tell her where he was going, and seemed very different from the clingy boy that used to clasp his arms around her waist only a few years ago.

I sat down with them both and let them talk about each of their versions of events. In doing so, we came upon a powerful realization. This was not an issue about drugs. This was not an issue of teenage substance abuse or social crime. This was an issue of a mother not wanting to let her son grow up. Because she didn’t like what was happening, and didn’t understand what was going on, she preferred to label it as a drug problem.

I wondered how much of this goes on inside our marriages too. When things turn bad, there is the temptation to apportion blame to one person, and the temptation to blame it on something concrete such as drugs, infidelity, alcoholism or poor anger management.

The reason people do this is that it places the blame for what is going on squarely on one person and one issue. It is seldom this simple. A husband who accuses his wife of infidelity is often overlooking  the intimacy issues that have existed in their marriage for quite some time. The wife that accuses her husband of drugs overlooks the impact of her anger problem and the effect this has on communication in their marriage.

Quite often the infidelity or drug use does not exist. But it is simpler to blame it on this than confront the reality of the larger issues that are not being spoken about.

The key to overcoming marital issues is to share the blame for what has happened and take responsibility for the outcome and how you choose to overcome this problem. It involves a level of introspective examination that may seem uncomfortable to some, but often in the time of greatest discomfort comes the greatest opportunity for growth.

Emotions and Response

Monday, August 14, 2006

posted by Andrew

It’s something we all do but at the same time will never understand.

In times of stress and frustration, there is often the temptation to lash out and unleash your feelings of despair and hopelessness. Most of the time the people who bear the brunt of our feelings are our partners. It often has very little to do with them, or if it does, in many cases it is only an indirect contribution to an already established mood.

So following this line of thought, we often end up hurting the ones we really love the most. At the time we do all we can to hush these thoughts and cover our guilt up by saying they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or that we didn’t mean to explode, but it just happened.

In doing this, however, we forget how our comments can be received, and forget that in the midst of our temper we may have injured the feelings of those that are close to us.

What lessons can we learn from this?

I wish we could be happy, smiley people all the time, but human nature dictates that every once in a while we are all going to have a really bad day and a foul mood to accompany it. That’s not rocket science, its just life. But how we choose to express our emotions can define whether we have a good relationship, or one that is frought with angst and hurt feelings.

I admit I am just as guilty, and at times can let my emotions rule me. But the lesson I can learn from this is to make the communication process much more open and transparent, so when I am in a bad mood I am able to communicate this to my partner without making them feel bad too. That way I can have my bad mood and get over it without there having to be casualties.

Be honest about your mood. If you are feeling jealous or angry, say the words and identify the mood.

Communicate your mood to others if they are around you so you can be left alone to calm down and process your emotions.

Tell your loved one that the mood is what is causing you to feel this way, not necessarily them, even though it may feel like it at times. Situations cause your mood, but you control your response.

So thats the key. While we may feel dictated by our moods sometimes, we are ultimately still in control of our response. Learning how to choose an appropriate response is what makes us better people.

Feeding the Soul

Thursday, August 10, 2006

posted by Andrew

When we are in times of crisis, it is human nature to put our fences up and withdraw to a place we feel secure. This place doesn’t have to be elaborate, and it doesn’t have to be significant. But it is a place where you are able to escape  into your mind, listen to your inner voice, and a place where you feel safe. A place where you can just be you and not be judged or be accountable to others. Somewhere where you are able to be your true self.

I was discussing this with a psychologist the other day, and joking about my addiction to purchasing antiques and homewares. Gone are the days that I would get excited over a shirt or a cool pair of pants. Nowadays a beatiful vase, teaset or dish is more likely to release a rush of adrenalin into my system. Yesterday I purchased an two antique serving tureens, one dating from just after the turn of the century, and the other dating from just before. To be honest, I have little practical use for them, but the act of acquiring them and admiring them makes them very special.

To me, each item I own tells me a story. The antique tureens are over a century old, and holding them in my hands makes me wonder about the hands and eyes that have caressed this object over the years. Now it is mine to caress, to hold, and to use on special occasions, family rituals, and at banquets. Having these things around me enable me to escape to my special place and immerse in my true self.

My psychologist friend told me I am in a phase of feeding the soul, and responding to a need from within. Each acquisition adds to the feeling of security, serenity, and general good feeling. Other people I know call it nesting.

Feeding the soul can be many different things for different people. It may be collecting something, it may be shopping, it may be watching a movie. It may be listening to a favorite piece of music.

Nevertheless it is important to feed the soul and escape to your oasis. Your oasis is a good place to recapture your spirit or strength, and can be a good time to put the many issues of your life in perspective. 

In times of crisis, like a marriage problem, it is especially important to make time in your schedule to feed your soul. Even half an hour on your own to soak in some sunshine in a local park, lose yourself in a favorite song, or immersing yourself in a book or a magazine, can offer you the escape that enables you to put your issues in perspective and offer you the strength to carry on.

Look for intervals in your busy schedule, and in the midst of your marriage crisis, look at how you can feed your soul. It might be the best hour you have spent in a while.

Don’t Rely on Your Intuition

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

posted by Andrew

I was surfing the web today and came across a cool article about communication and expressing yourself in marriage.

It’s worth checking out:

http://www.aish.com/family/marriage/Communication_-_the_Key_to_a_Good_Marriage.asp

It’s good stuff!!

Wanting What Our Parents Have

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

posted by Andrew

It’s the weirdest thing.

From when we become teenagers we promise ourselves that we will never be like our parents. Many people are determined to live their lives free from the constraints that parents impose upon us and promise ourselves that we will do things differently and that our lives will be quite unlike our parents.

And that’s where it all comes crashing down. Despite our efforts to fight the possibility of being at all like our parents, in relationships we often crave the security and normalcy that our parents’ relationship offers. No matter how fragile and unstable things may seem in the world, the stability that a parent offers as well as the unchanging nature of their relationship is often something that is taken for granted.

It’s the same when it comes to our own relationships. All too often we imagine that once we are married we are going to live the fairytale, and that our lives are going to be happily ever after. Once the notion of romantic love wears off, we are faced with the reality that our relationships and marriages require work.

Perhaps this is the first dissolution of the marriage myth. Marriages in fact do require maintenance, and at regular intervals if we are going to live in wedded bliss. And it is here that we often look towards our parents for guidance as role models of an ideal marriage. What did they do to make marriage look so easy?

My own parents celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary recently. How did they manage to keep it together for so long? I can only imagine that many parents chuckle at the irony of children looking back to parents for guidance, following the rebellion of teenage years.

But then I asked myself, "Do I want the answers to that and have that 40-year-old stability right now?"

If I had all the answers and the implicit understanding and love for and from my partner right now, what would I do for the next 30 years? What I realized was that my parents, like so many others, took 40 long years to get to that stage. And I realized that there are no shortcuts to getting there. Sure, they had their ups and downs over the years, and theirs was by no means the perfect relationship, but something special overrode all the angst and struggles that popped up at different intervals throughout their marriage.

What I realized from all of this was that it is okay to not have all the answers. It is okay to stumble around sometimes, looking for answers and understanding. Because in doing so we learn something about ourselves, and we learn something about each other. And it is learning this that brings us closer together.

I don’t want a perfect relationship. I don’t want a perfect partner. I don’t want to be perfect either. I want a relationship in which we can make mistakes, sometimes get it right, and sometimes get it all wrong. But in making mistakes we can learn and grow together.

This is real love.

What Can Dogs Teach Us?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

posted by Andrew

In the middle of a session the other day I had a powerful realization. I was asked to think of a relationship I had with something in the last week that in my mind was the ideal relationship, and to think of what it was about that relationship that made it ideal.

A number of men in the group thought of their cars, toolsheds, families, workmates, old friends, even relationships with objects such as their television remote, recliner chair, or favorite pair of shoes. To each of these men, these things felt comfortable, and simple. The relationships they had with these people or objects was rewarding and easy to maintain.

When my turn came to identify my ideal relationship, I thought of my dog. My dog has very simple needs, and it is the ultimate ego-boost for me when I get home at night and I am greeted in such an enthusiastic fashion. I don’t know of any others that greet me so enthusiastically night after night. No matter how long I have been away from the house or no matter how my day has been. I call this unconditional love.

So what is unconditional love?

Unconditional love is the type of love that comes without conditions. It is the type of love that you have for your partner when the romantic, hollywood-style love is gone. Once the romantic love is gone you make the transition to "real" love. Real love is love you have for your partner despite the knowledge that they are not perfect. You know your partner has faults. You know your partner is not perfect. You know your partner makes mistakes sometimes, but that’s okay. You still love them. This is unconditional love.

The same thing applies to you however in looking at your partner’s faults. You acknowledge that you are the same. You have faults. You are not perfect. You know you make mistakes sometimes, but that’s okay. That’s called self-acceptance, and you expect unconditional love to overcome the faults and imperfections that people have.

So what do you get from this then? Should we all go out and get dogs to teach us something about unconditional love? Maybe there is a lesson to be learnt here. We all clutter our lives with trials and tribulations, and there is the temptation to let our issues rule our lives.

But if you are serious about saving your marriage you need to put the clutter to one side and let your unconditional love come through. It is okay to have faults and make mistakes. And love will conquer them all.

Have a think about unconditional love and how you can apply this realization to your relationship.

Resisting Temptations

Monday, July 17, 2006

posted by Andrew

In one of my previous relationships I got to the destructive stage that I counsel so many people away from. From mutual love and respect, we descended into arguments, petty jealousies and utter chaos. We even descended into arguing over wine glasses and plants out in the garden.

Looking back on it now, I feel a sense of shame at what happened, and regret that neither of us were able to take a step back and do what was right for both of us instead of both of us only thinking of ourselves. The environment descended to the point where I felt physically sick at the thought of going home. I would have to stop the car as I drove into my street, and spend a couple of minutes gathering my thoughts and trying my best not to let my feelings overwhelm me and be sick.

I was talking to a client last week and they were going through the same thing, and in the process of them describing their feelings it brought it all back to me. 

In the midst of the drama and uncertainty when your marriage is in crisis, we forget how sick we make each other when we fight. We fight about the most unusual and silly things, and for many, the trivial fights can be an outlet for the greater frustration and heartache that we are feeling.

But to understand what motivates people to do this, we need to understand that it is about much more than plants and wine glasses. It is about self-esteem, hurt feelings, lost love, lack of control over what is happening, and much more.

In order to heal, we need to make a conscious effort to not let ourselves descend to that level, to not respond to the taunts and accusations, and not let our partners bring out the worst in us. Take responsibility for the things you say and always question where each comment is taking you.

Chances are if the fighting makes you feel sick, your partner is feeling the same way. It’s okay to not be in control of the situation between you and your partner, but it’s not okay to not be in control of your emotions and reactions to the situation.

  • Stop
  • Think about your action/reaction
  • Widen your scope. Where is your comment taking you?
  • What are you reacting to?
  • Resist temptation
  • Respond with love

It’s about resisting the temptation to lose control and make the situation worse. Your ability to do this could be what determines the success of your marriage.

Don’t Look Back in Anger

Friday, July 14, 2006

posted by Andrew

It’s the darnedest thing. In doing the work I do I get a lot of submissions from clients looking for ways to solve their marriage conundrums, and the style of submissions can range from confused ramblings to impassioned pleas to angry outbursts.

I got an angry submission from a client the other day wanting to know why my material hadn’t magically changed his life and turned his marriage around, and for this he was very angry. While I was initially a little put off by the anger, I could understand the place the anger was coming from. In the midst of his marriage problems was someone who was scared. Scared because they didn’t understand what was going on around them, scared because they didn’t really know what caused it, and especially scared because for the first time in their lives they felt powerless. They weren’t sure how to fix it.

Marriage problems are not like broken cars or building projects. There is no specific step-by-step process involved in diagnosing or fixing it. No broken wires, no faulty parts, and typical male pragmatism is not going to solve this one. Emotions, expectations, hurt feelings, changing values, even depression, are all factors that make fixing your problems much more difficult.

There is no workshop manual or box of tools that is going to fix this problem, and this powerlessness often manifests itself as anger.

The worst part of this is that the anger often makes the problems so much worse. The anger is projected to your partner and anyone else around you, and you stop listening, instead choosing to filter out anything that detracts from the feeling you are having.

The problem is that letting your frustration out in anger feels so darned good. As destructive as it may be, letting go of your frustrations is a release of biblical porportions that helps you purge your frustrations so that you can feel better.

But next time you feel like exploding, take a closer look at your anger. What is it really about, and what is it’s purpose? Is it about injustice, or is it about your frustration and your need to purge negative emotions? Is it a welcome distraction from your lack of knowing how to fix your marriage problem? And in the midst of this anger, where is your outburst taking you and how is it going to solve your marital problem?

One of my friends told me that it is the only way his feelings get heard. Sure, the feelings get heard, but for all the wrong reasons.

When anger and frustration manifests itself in your mind, don’t look back in anger. Take some time to have a think about what you are feeling. Sometimes taking the time to think about what you are thinking can avoid needless conflict and can add a clearer perspective on the situation.

Examining your thoughts and why you are feeling them can help diffuse your anger and avoid inappropriate projection of your feelings. And it makes you a better communicator.

STOP!

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