Friday, May 24, 2013

Unintentional One-Way Relationships

It is a reasonable expectation that relationships that we enter into are two-way, or mutual. In business we provide a service or goods, and in turn we are compensated. The same applies in most of our other relationships, although some are by definition unbalanced, such as parents to minor children.

What happens when adult to adult relationships become unbalanced?

Eventually these one-way relationships will probably fail if the balance is not restored in a reasonably timely manner. Give and take is the name of the game here. After a while we will not stay with a relationship that doesn’t feel fair to us. Friendships, romantic pairings and familial connections are affected by this. Even in marriages, (or maybe especially) when one partner is doing most of the work, it will likely become stressed to the breaking point. 

How do you determine if a relationship is one-way? 
  • Are you always the initiator and the other person the responder? This is a sure sign of a one-way relationship. Back off and see what happens.
  •  Does someone call you only when they need something from you? Is the content of their conversations always negative, complaining or demanding? Do you always feel emotionally drained after hearing from them? Another one-way relationship you may not have seen coming.
  •  Does one person in the relationship earn all the money while the other person spends it? Does the earner also seem to end up with a lot of the domestic chores and maybe even having to manage the family finances? Adults share responsibility as well as privilege.
  •  Are a husband and wife both working full-time jobs but only one is carrying the domestic responsibilities? There is sure to be resentment.
  • Does one of you have to do all the emotional connecting while the other remains silent? Or is one of you unable to stop talking and let the other person have a chance to have some air time?
  •  In a friendship or familial relationship, does one person always “pick up the tab”?
  •  Does someone have expectations of you that they don’t have of themselves? Will they even shame you or guilt you to try to control you? Definitely one-way. 

Only God is unconditional in His love and acceptance. We cannot realistically expect it from others. It is good to examine your own heart. Are you mostly a giver or a taker? How might you work to balance out the relationships in your life?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

5 Things To Keep The Relationship Alive

It is always exciting when I come across a piece of simple wisdom. To me simple wisdom is something that is so obvious that it makes you smile that you didn’t put it into words first. As I was rereading a book this week (Close Calls by David Carder), I stumbled upon one of those.

What is this little gem of knowledge?

It is a list of things that keep a relationship vital. Simply put, they are those behaviors that came easy at the beginning, but may fall away as time progresses and life gets busy. According to the book, if we fail to provide these things to our partner, they become vulnerable to people outside of our relationship who might supply them.

Here are five things that Carder says we should continue to do to keep a partner happy.

  • Accommodation – When you are first dating I’ll bet you make sure that you make time and space to accommodate the relationship. You might cancel other commitments and plan your life around being able to connect with your girl or guy. They are a priority in your life and they know it.   
  • Adoration – Isn’t it a great feeling to feel beautiful or handsome when your beloved looks at you – that they would rather be with you than anyone else? You spend extra effort making sure that you are worthy of the attention – and you melt when they respond positively.
  • Admiration – Who doesn’t want to be looked up to? When I feel that from Nan, it makes me want to go the extra mile. It’s not easy being great, but when someone recognizes it in you it makes you want to hang around them more.
  • Affirmation – For some folks there is no substitute for delicious words spoken to them. They light up when you tell them all the things that you love and appreciate about them – or how you respect what they do or who they are as a person. 
  • Affection – Physical connection is something that all living beings crave. It is why it is so hard to keep our hands off our partner when we are dating. It is a definite way to reassure your partner that you still love and care for them even after a lot of time has passed.  

 Have you gotten lazy in your relationship? I know I have and this is a great reminder. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

17 Warning Signs of a Bad Boyfriend

Although this list was submitted as a warning to women, many or most of these same things could be warnings to men as well. Just substitute ‘her’ and ‘she’ where appropriate.

A married woman who said her husband now wanted a divorce passed along these tips to Dear Abby for the not-yet-married. If you see these red flags, she advises you to dump the guy:

1. If your parents or siblings have doubts about him, pay attention. Listen and check it out.

2. If your intended has nothing good to say about his ex, beware. This is a pattern. Divorce is rarely only one person's fault.

3. If his children have nothing to do with him, do not believe him if he says his ex brainwashed them against him. My stepchildren have told me it was because they hated him, and they have good reasons.

4. Look closely at his credit and job history. They are sure predictors of what your life will be like.

5. If he's over 30 and has no money, don't marry him until he's financially solvent. If he has any respect for you (and himself), he'll insist on it.

6. Be sure in your heart that you can live with him AS IS. You cannot change another person.

7. This is a biggie: Beware if he has no friends. It is not true that they all chose to side with his ex.

8. If your friends dislike him, pay attention. This is also true if he hates your friends.

9. If he has more than one DUI and still drinks, run!

10. If he is one personality at work or with others and another person alone with you, run.

11. If he has nothing to do with his parents, investigate why. Don't take his word for it.

12. If he's an expert at everything and brags a lot, understand that he will turn off a lot of people, eventually maybe even you.

13. If he has problems with sexual desire, get professional help before you marry him. Believe me, his problem will become your problem.

14. If he is emotionally or verbally abusive, it will only get worse. Yelling, name-calling and glowering are classic signs of an abuser.

15. If he is never wrong and never apologizes, everything will be "your fault" forever. And after years of hearing it, you may even start to accept the blame.

16. If he does something wrong and says, "That wouldn't have happened if you hadn't (fill in the blank)," that's another sign of an abuser.

17. And if he's mean to children, pets, or animals, recognize that he's pathological, and the next victim could be you.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Rewriting Relationship History

I remember a time when Nan and I were facing some challenges. We had been married for more than a dozen years, but hadn’t entered into counseling yet. There were unresolved hurts that had built up over the years and significant breaks in our trust-bond. More and more we were silently (and sometimes not so silently) judging the relationship as poor. Poor moved to terrible, and at one point, terrible to nearly hopeless. Fortunately we entered counseling (me, kicking and screaming a bit.)

By the time we arrived in counseling we had done a good deal of rewriting the history of the relationship. 

What do I mean? We traded our rose colored glasses for pairs of very dark ones. We mentally dragged out all the bad memories and suppressed all the good ones. This is very common with couples when they first enter into counseling after a lot of marital chaos. It is much easier to remember the difficult parts when you are in pain. But this filtering is very unhelpful when you are trying to get unstuck.

Every couples’ session that we do, we start out with affirmations. It reinforces the positive that exists (or existed) in every relationship. It reminds us why we got into the relationship in the first place. It brings a bit of balance to the counseling experience.

An injured person in particular will often be the one to rewrite their story. If they have already mentally begun to move themselves out the relationship they will be looking for “facts” to build their case. The goal is often to be able to say “It never was any good, anyway.”

If you find yourself doing this during tough times, try the following:

  • Intentionally think of good times. Remember dates and celebrations and other significant events. 

  • Drag out the photo albums and pictures and try to connect with the good feelings. 

  • If you save greeting cards, read through them. If you have journals or diaries, go back to them and see what you find.

It is also possible to filter in the opposite direction. We can suppress the painful memories in the relationship in order to not face them. We accentuate the positive and minimize the negative. This is called denial, and can be dangerous. Battered people often do this. Some relationships may not be worth saving, even though the people involved are. 

What about you? Are you guilty of rewriting history? What might you do to change that? As believers in God, we should always be seeking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.