Are You Courageously Compassionate? Doing What Needs To Be Done: #49 Save Your Marriage Podcast

courageous compassion can help your marriage.When we feel close to someone, compassion is easy.  It comes naturally.

But when we are hurt or angry, when we feel disconnection from someone, compassion is harder.

That is when you have to be “courageously compassionate.”

Sometimes, we let our feelings “call the shots.”  We get stuck.  We give up.  Or we become so frantic that we cause more problems.

But what happens when you change your perspective?  What happens when you view your spouse from a different perspective — a compassionate perspective?

Find out in today’s podcast, an encore presentation.

Do You Suffer From PPM Syndrome? How It Can Destroy Your Marriage!: #48 Save Your Marriage Podcast

How to save your marriage when someone has PPM Syndrome.Do you have it?  Do you or a loved one suffer from PPM Syndrome?  This syndrome infects many people — and they don’t know they have it.  When they hear the symptoms, many people continue to believe they do not have it.

Oh, sure, somebody they know has it, they tell themselves, but “not me.”  Let me suggest that many (if not most) people have some level of infection.

Does this syndrome hold you back?  Most likely.

Does this syndrome hurt your marriage?  Most likely.  Whether you have it, or spouse has it, or both of you have it, this syndrome will damage any relationship.

But there is good news!  There is relief.  There is an antidote.

Before you get the antidote, you must diagnose the infection.

Listen to this week’s podcast and determine if you (or someone you love) has PPM Syndrome (“poor pitiful me” syndrome).  It is far more dangerous and widespread than you may think!

Let me know about your infection (and how it is affecting your marriage) in the comments area below!

7 Strategies When You Hear “This Will Never Work and I Don’t Love You”: #47 Save Your Marriage Podcast

Emotions are not reality when saving your marriage.A kick in the gut.  Your spouse tells you “I don’t love you.”  Or as you are trying to save your relationship, your spouse says, “This will never work.”  It can take you to your knees.

You might want to give up.  You might believe your spouse is telling you the truth.

In actuality,  your spouse is really telling you about his or her emotional state.  And an emotional state is not the same as reality.  Emotions change.

But you do NOT want to make it worse.  You don’t want to respond in certain ways that will only cause your partner to more deeply believe the story he/she is telling to you (and to him/herself).

In this week’s podcast, I explain the truth behind these definitive and painful statements, plus 7 tips and strategies to make sure things don’t get worse (and in fact, get better!).

Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments area below!


5 Steps To A Midlife Marriage Mess; 5 Steps Through A Midlife Marriage Mess: #46 Save Your Marriage Podcast

How to save your marriage in a midlife crisis.Midlife crisis.  It is the brunt of many jokes.  Some people say there is no such thing.  Evidently, they have never had a spouse go through a midlife crisis.

Some people scoff at people who buy a new sports car, change their diet/exercise/activities/friends, look for another love interest, change careers, or any other “symptom” of the crisis.  But this misses the reality, depth, and pain of such a crisis.

There are 5 steps that create a midlife marriage crisis, and there are 5 tasks required to successfully navigate the crisis.

If you are trying to survive a midlife crisis of a spouse, you will want to tune in and learn about why the crisis is there, how it can be useful, and how to change the outcome, so you can save your marriage (and your sanity!).

Did you know this crisis can be an opportunity for growth?

Did you know this crisis may propel your relationship to a whole other level (much deeper and satisfying)?

Did you know there are ways to keep the crisis from getting stuck?

Learn the 5 steps in and out, so that you can change the direction of a downward spiral, revive your marriage, and become healthier from it all.

Let me know what you think in the comments area below!

7 Steps To A Marriage Saving Mindset: #45 Save Your Marriage Podcast

Save your marriage by reaching for more.If you have decided to save your marriage, you have REACHED toward something many people don’t.

Saving your marriage can be a difficult process.  It will challenge you emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  And in the process, you can choose whether to fall victim to the process or be transformed by the process.

In this podcast, I invite you to be transformed.  In fact, I offer you 7 steps that will allow you to transform your mindset, your life, and quite possibly, your marriage.  If you follow these 7 steps, you will find a path of growth.  If you do not, you may find yourself caught in blame and misery.

Please take a listen and let me know what you think.  Would you add any other steps?  How have you already taken some of the steps?  What steps WILL you take?  Commit to the change and let us know in the comments area below.

3 Things You MUST Do After An Argument: #44 Save Your Marriage Podcast

Arguments.  We all have them.  Few of us believe they are useful.  Most people find them hurtful and destructive.

Yet we still argue.

After a lifetime of arguments, do we really believe that this argument or the next one is going to work better?

And yet we still argue.

A number of years ago, I was speaking with a very conflicted couple.  They were once again arguing in my office.  I once again stopped them as they began to spiral down into yet another argument about yet the same issues they had covered over and over in the past (with no resolution).

I told them we HAD to get the arguing stopped.  I noted the arguments they were having were not solving anything, and weren’t even trying to solve anything.  They were just trying to score points against each other.  They looked at each other, looked at me blankly, and said, “If we don’t argue, what will we do?”

Habit.  Their arguing had become habit.  It was their default way of communicating.  They solved nothing, but they couldn’t figure out another way to communicate.

Been there?  Done that?  Argued and argued, even with that small voice telling you, “This is not going to go well.  This is not going to solve anything.”  Or perhaps you had another little belief, “This time, they will see that I am right.  This time, my spouse will see that my logic, my reasoning, is correct.”

My guess is the argument ended the same way:  both people hurt and neither person changing views.  In fact, generally, we dig in even deeper and hold even tighter to our beliefs (even if we might secretly doubt ourselves).  And you might even find yourself justifying that you’ve been done wrong (those thoughts may even be worthy of a country music song).

Why do we do it?  Why do we argue?  This week, in the Save Your Marriage Podcast, I cover some reasons why we argue, why they don’t work, and what to do about it.

The real focus, though, are the 3 things you MUST do after an argument.  Let me tell you now:  none of the 3 are about an apology.  That is too easy.  This is about getting below the argument and examining what is going on with YOU, and why YOU got caught up in the argument.

Only from there can anything change.

Let me know what you think in the comments are below!

Why Do Good People Have Bad Marriages?: #43 Save Your Marriage Podcast

Why do good people have bad marriages and how to save it.In my years as a therapist, I met the nicest people. . . many suffering in painful relationships.

Sometimes, it can seem so confusing.  Why can two nice people struggle so much to have a good marriage?  How do two people that seemed so loving when they married, end up feeling frustrated and ready to walk away?

There are some reasons why this happens.  In fact, there is a common pattern, almost a cascade of events, that leads to a painful, conflicted, or disconnected relationship.

The nice thing is once you see the pattern, you can begin to break the pattern and rebuild the relationship.

Would you like to know about that pattern?

Please listen to the free podcast audio below and discover the reasons why good people can have a bad marriage — and how to keep that from happening.

Oh, and let me know what you think in the comments are below.

And if you are ready to get started rebuilding, please grab my Save The Marriage System HERE.

Is Your Marriage Chronically Stuck and Acutely Painful?: #42 Save Your Marriage Podcast

Save your marriage in spite of chronic hurt and acute pain.Is your marriage in a chronic state of stuck?  Does your relationship suffer from acute periods of pain?  Often, those moments of acute pain lead to a chronic state of “stuck.”  But that chronic state of “stuck” also creates the potential for more moments of acute pain.

Feeling stuck can lead to reactions of pain and anger.  And those flares of pain and anger simply adds to the feeling of being stuck.

Do you stay stuck or do you leave for something better?  Or do you find a third solution:  a way to move the marriage out of stuck and to what Relationship Coach Annette Carpien refers to as having a “juicy marriage?”

Annette should know.  She is a part of my team of highly skilled, highly trained, and highly effective Relationship Coaches.  But more than that, she has traveled the terrain.  She went from stuck to “juicy marriage” in her own life.  gling

In this podcast, Annette and I discuss how to break through the pain, how to break through the stuckness, even how to break through a desire to quit the relationship.  We talk about how your thoughts get in your way, how to stop struggling with your thoughts, and then how to choose your thoughts.

We discuss some habits you can make for yourself to “rewire” your behavior and your brain, and how to shift your relationship to one of vision and possibility.

Ready to discover and build a “juicy marriage?”  Please take a listen.

The Trick to Saving Your Marriage. Careful. . . .: #41 Save Your Marriage Podcast

Look in the mirror while you save your marriage.Are you working to save your marriage?  Are you trying to figure out the trick to doing that?

Be careful.

Yesterday, I sent an email out to a group, asking what their “burning question” was about how to save a marriage.

Within minutes, the emails started coming in.  By the end of the night, hundreds of emails were in my inbox.  They are still arriving today.

I asked the question for one simple reason:  I wanted to know what people might want to hear about or read about in my articles and podcasts.

There were some common themes about affairs and disconnected marriages.  There were concerns on how to communicate with a distant or angry spouse.  There were questions about how to approach issues like money, children, finances, forgiveness, and household responsibilities.

And there were questions about “tricks” or techniques to short-cut the process.  We all want that, don’t we?  The diet industry makes a fortune each year, parading out the latest tip or trick to turn that fat to muscle.

We all want the short-cuts, the most direct route to anything.  This is especially true about painful things — saving your marriage being one of those.

In this week’s podcast, I wanted to talk about how to save your marriage, but without falling into the “trap” of a “trick.”  Sometimes, those “tricks” really run counter to who we truly are.  We find ourselves making ethical and moral “adjustments” that leave us unable to feel good about looking in the mirror.

There are 5 points to keep in mind, as you work to save your marriage.  Listen and learn those 5 points.

Let me know if you would add others in the comments area below!

We ALL Have Issues!

We ALL have issues!  Save your marriage.“I don’t think we should be married.”  That was “Jen’s” opening words.  “John” sat quietly beside her.

I asked her quietly, “Why do you think you shouldn’t be married?” “Because,” said Jen, “if we should be married, we would not be having problems.  We wouldn’t always be struggling.”  I sat quietly, not quite sure how to respond.

What an assumption!  Any marriage that has struggles and challenges, so Jen believed, was not right.

Something had to be fundamentally wrong if there was a struggle. That conversation happened years back.  I am no longer shocked to hear it.  In fact, I have come to see this as a major myth of marriage:  Struggle is a sign that something is wrong with a marriage, and may be a sign you should have never married in the first place.

So, let me clearly and directly dispel that myth:  100% of marriages have difficulties, challenges, issues, or whatever else you want to call it.  Every single relationship will face tough times.

Having tough times, struggles, and issues is not an indicator that you shouldn’t be married.  It is not an indication that your marriage is doomed.  It is not an indication that there is a psychological issue with you or your spouse.  It is simply the fact that you are entirely and completely normal.

“Why Can’t We Just Get Along?”

There is no more close relationship than a marriage.  The two of you have tied your lives together.  Therefore, actions taken by one are not dispassionately noticed by the other.

Spouses respond to situations differently than they might if a friend did or proclaimed the same thing.  If my good friend with limited funds buys an expensive sports car, I may have concerns, but I can look at my friend and say “Good for you!  Hope you enjoy it!”

But if my spouse did that, I would recognize the economic impact it could have upon me.  My response is likely to be far less dispassionate and much more one of concern.  My response will be partially based in self-preservation.

To say this a bit differently, because a marriage is two different people, with two different perspectives, trying to get through life together, there is going to be friction and conflict.  It is not only inevitable, it is necessary.  If a couple wants to get to a strong relationship, they must go through that friction. When couples spend all their energy “getting along,” lots of hurts and misunderstandings get brushed under the carpet.  They don’t get cleaned up, so they are just waiting there.  The pile grows bigger and bigger until the couple can’t truly see each other for the pile of garbage under the rug.

“But The Smith’s Don’t Seem To Struggle!”

Here is where this little myth really gets out of control.  We look at the image others portray and compare that with our own reality.  Reality is much more dented and knocked around than the image we show the world.  And that includes the image you show the world.

We just don’t like letting people in on our struggles.  While it is too bad we don’t find support with others, that is what happens. Don’t waste your energy comparing yourself to some other seemingly perfect couple.  They have their own struggles.

Too many “perfect couples” end up divorced.  They have either hidden their conflicts from others or from themselves.  Either way, the struggle is still there.

“It All Seems So Hopeless!”

If you want to have a perfect, conflict-free relationship, that is hopeless.

But perhaps we need to stop seeing conflict as the problem. Not solving a conflict is a problem.  Personalizing conflict is a problem.  Fighting to win is a problem.  Conflict is just a part of living in close proximity. Conflict can either be a scary event that leads to disconnection or it can be a way of creating deeper intimacy and understanding.  If conflict has always been seen as destructive, you will avoid it.

As I continued my dialogue with Jen, I discovered that her parents did their conflict in very destructive ways.  They threw things, cussed at each other, and never even solved the issue.  After years of threats, they finally divorced.  Jen learned that conflict is destructive and should be avoided at all costs.  What she did not learn, but should have, is that her parents simply did not know how to manage their conflict. From then on, her young child’s mind understood that conflict was destructive and dangerous.  Her adult mind has never been able to get beyond that.

But let me ask you a question:  does any development happen without a struggle?  A child learns to walk by falling over and over again.  A muscle gains strength by struggling against something heavier than usual.  An adult learns new skills at work by taking on something not known and mastering it. This is true with a couple.

Sure, we can grow closer through good experiences.  And those great moments of romance and connection are great! But it is the struggles and conflicts that truly mesh us together as a team.  Whether the struggle is external to the couple or between the couple, the struggle is what truly leads to growth and development. How can you be hopeful?  Give up on the false hope of a conflict-less relationship.  Accept that conflict is a normal part of the process.

And learn how to make it productive.

“So That’s It?  Live With Conflict?”

You have to live with the fact that conflict is inevitable.  But that does not mean that everyone is good at conflict.  In fact, most of us find this to be a “work in progress.”  I am sure there are those who have mastered the art of healthy conflict.  But they are rare. The rest of us have to learn skills and work to make conflict a method of growth, not of destruction.  There are some traps that make that more difficult.

“What Are The Traps About Issues?”

Trap #1:  Fight or Flight Mode.  We humans are unique among the living and breathing creatures.  We think in words.  We not only have visual memories, but we can reflect on them with language.  Which can keep us stuck in different modes. In the animal world, there are plenty of Fight/Flight/Freeze responses of animals.

Some animals are only prey, and so they have Flight/Freeze in their repertoire.  Every now and then, such a creature strikes back defensively, but is not really fighting as much as struggling to flee.  Then there are predators that will  Fight/Flight, based on whether it senses it will win or lose.  But for both animal predator and animal prey, once the event is over, the animal returns to normal behavior.

Humans, however, have the Fight/Flight/Freeze response.  But in human interactions, we are not very good at sizing up the opposition.  And on top of that, we can think about this conflict, think about past conflicts, and ponder what might happen after the conflict.

In essence, this can keep us stuck in an emotional state of fight/flight/freeze.  The adrenaline keeps on flowing, long after the conflict, as we continue to think about it. More than that, once we step into a fight/flight mode, it becomes about getting away or taking the other person down.  No longer is the subject of conflict the focus.  The focus turns to taking out the other person, at least metaphorically.

Think, for just a moment, of the many times you found yourself in the midst of an argument, and no longer are you even discussing what led to the argument!  Suddenly, past events, character issues, and anything else that comes to mind, becomes fuel for the fire.  The beginning point of the conflict is lost.  The task has turned to defeating the opponent (or getting far, far away from the opponent).  Your mind has been hijacked by the fight/flight/freeze mode.

At that point, the conflict will NOT be a tool of growth, but one of destruction and attack.

Trap #2:  Perceptions of Each Other.  People are wonderful storytellers.  We all write scripts in our minds.  Some of them are fairly true, some are very false.  None are absolutely true. In the stories I tell myself, I am the protagonist, the hero.  That is probably true for you.  When something happens, we all tend to see ourselves as a) innocent, and b) “been done wrong.”

When I was a child, my older brother and I would sometimes get into tiffs.  I lost.  My brother would, in my mind, pick on me and hurt me.  For years, I believed myself to be the innocent target of his temper.  I believed I had done nothing wrong.  One day, I began to see how I would bait him.  I was not as innocent as I would have liked to believe. We all have perceptions of other people.  Sometimes, they are somewhat accurate.  But many times, we ascribe attributes, short-fallings, faults, and character flaws to the other person.  This tends to taint our interactions.  And it certainly taints our conflicts and issues.

Remember the Attribution Error from social psychology?  The Attribution Error is simply this:  When I do something wrong, I see it as a mistake.  But when you do something wrong, I see it as a character flaw.

This colors our perceptions:  the other has issues, but we simply make mistakes.

Thanks to psychology, there are plenty of attributes you can put on someone:  they are anxious, depressed, anti-social, borderline, obsessive-compulsive, passive-aggressive, dependent, self-destructive, angry, etc., etc., etc.  Might some of that be true?  Absolutely.  But it gives us a very simple label that belies the complexities of everyone, including ourselves.  We quickly “diagnose” the other person, and then view them through that single lens.

Trap #3:  Blame/Un-responsibility.  I know, un-responsibility is not a word.  Yet I am not describing irresponsibility, as much as the unwillingness of someone to take responsibility.  Responsibility is about the ability to respond.  This is something we always have.

Yet many times, we seek to find blame.  It may be blaming a spouse or significant other.  It may be blaming how we were raised or how that spouse/S.O. was raised.  It may be about some other factor.

In the end, we all have control over two things:1.  Our attitude,
2.  Our actions.

We all get to choose our internal attitude.  Will I choose to give up or will I choose to press on?  Will I be constantly angry or will I be positive and accepting?  Will I be constantly oppositional or will I note when I am really in opposition (One is a state of disagreeing, simply to disagree.  The other is disagreeing because you truly disagree.)?  Will I be loving or will I be judgmental/angry/rejecting/distant?

You may notice that attitude leads to actions.  But they are different.  Attitude is internal.  Action is external.  Actions often demonstrate our internal attitude.  Yet attitude and actions may be disconnected.  Our task is to work on choosing attitude and making sure that action is consistent with attitude.

Before you tell me this is impossible, that I am suggesting you always be upbeat and happy, I am not.  I am suggesting that in any event, we have a choice of our attitude.  We can choose to be responsible, to decide how we will respond, regardless of the external situation.

Trap #4:  Belief That Marriage Should Make You Happy.  This is another huge one.  It is well-propagated by films, television, and fiction.  In those romantic movies/shows/novels, the marriage is the means of discovering true happiness and fulfillment.

In reality, each of us is responsible for our own happiness and life satisfaction (listen to an interview about this here).  This doesn’t mean a marriage should make you miserable, then you fight for happiness elsewhere.  It simply means that if you believe that a marriage is your path to happiness, you will be constantly disappointed and frustrated.

Marriage only works when two people are working to find satisfaction for themselves, and bring their best self into the relationship.  Contrary to Jerry Maguire’s statement in the movie, someone else does not complete you.  Waiting for that will keep any marriage stuck.

This myth gets a couple stuck for one important reason:  if you expect marriage to make you happy, to complete you, to provide you with a constant companion,  then when it doesn’t happen, you get lost.  You assume that something is wrong with the relationship.

In reality, the problem is in the expectation.

Before I am misunderstood, let me clearly state:  my goal and my hope for everyone is to have a happy marriage.  My point here is the danger in the assumption that a marriage will make someone happy, not that a marriage can’t be happy.  A marriage can certainly be happy and fulfilling.  But when the expectation that a marriage will make some happy is present, the relationship is weighted down by an unfair expectation.

I love this quote from Richard Bach:  “If your happiness depends on what somebody else does, I guess you do have a problem.”

Trap #5:  Everything Is An “Issue” These Days.  We live in a heavily psychologized culture.  Theory upon theory is proposed to explain human behavior.  Sometimes, I think we have made it much, much too complicated.

I have advanced degrees (Ph.D., in fact) in clinical skills and knowledge.  I have spent over 25 years learning, researching, and practicing how to best help people to change.  Yet when I read some of the books, I am confused.  The back-flips and side-steps proposed in “why” we do what we do is just so confusing.

In this day, everything is diagnosed, psychologized,  theorized, and wrapped up in a nice little package.  A single word describes situations.  At the same time that theories are more and more confusing, people are reduced to a simple diagnosis.  Neither are true.  Human nature is not nearly as confusing as some theories would have you believe, and people’s actions are much more complex than a single diagnosis would lead you to believe.

This is true with marriage.  We have created some very complex theories to understand the “mysteries of marriage.”  I think the complexity has only led to confusion.  (My response to simplifying how to work on a marriage is right here:  3 simple steps.)

When I was much younger, I was a magician (I still pull a few coins from the ears of children, but that is about it these days).  I learned so much about psychology through doing magic.  One central reason why magic tricks work is because people make things complicated.  I remember one trick that required one small sleight-of-hand, one very simple move.  Yet people constantly tried to use very complex explanations to tell me how the trick worked.  No engineer could create what these people explained!  All that was necessary to explain it was a simple sleight-of-hand.

The same is true with our theories.  We spend so much time trying to figure out the minutiae of human behavior and interaction that we make it a complexity that only a Ph.D. could understand.  Yet for millennia, humans have formed close relationships and sustained them for a lifetime — all without complex explanations.

More than that, as we turn everything into “issues” with connections to the past, we stop working on where to go from here.  We spend inordinate amounts of energy proposing theories of “why it happened,” but don’t often move to the real question “what to do from here.”

Understanding the past won't help you save your marriage.Do we need some understanding of what happened?  Of course.  But understanding where you have been will never help you choose where you want to go.  It will only explain where you have been.

Don’t get trapped in incessantly looking for what happened in your marriage.  Don’t spend all of your effort trying to understand the dynamics of your “issues.”  Don’t make the process too complex.

“Issues” are really points of potential growth.  They can always point the way to the next place of development in your relationship.

And since every marriage has issues, the real question is, how will you build the marriage you want to have?  How will you work through the weaknesses and shortcomings to find a better approach?  How will you build the connection between you and your spouse (even though you and every other human both wants and struggles with that deep attachment)?

I truly believe there are two approaches to change.  One is to go on an archeology dig, going back through history and digging up all the skeletons.  This can be entertained and can give a false sense of superiority by looking at the other person’s shortfallings.

Or, one can work on building.  Build a relationship, build a connection, build your self, and work on where you want to go.  Sometimes, we have to look at the past in order to decide the future.  But it is easy to get lured into a fixation on the past.  That only keeps you stuck to the same old stories that have kept you stuck before.

“So What IS Your Point?”

Point 1:  There is no deeper connection in adult life than marriage.  It drags all of our insecurities, hopes, expectations (fair and unfair), and our potential for growth, into one relationship.

Point 2:  Every marriage has issues.  The issues are not the problem.  Believing that the issues either mean you can’t stay together or that things are helpless and can’t be fixed, that is the problem.  Issues are just part of an intimate connection.  They are really opportunities to grow, as long as we don’t fear them or flee them.

Will you learn to face your relationship issues and grow beyond them?

If you are ready to move forward, please grab my Save The Marriage System right HERE.