Are You Playing Mind Games. . . With Yourself?: #36 Save Your Marriage Podcast

how to save your marriage and end your mind game.Mind games.  We all play them.  But what if you are playing the BIGGEST mind game with yourself?

I have news for you:  you are!  I know, because I often do the same thing.  In fact, not recognizing this important fact almost cost me my life!

There is a simple solution that can give you more peace and quiet in your life.  And the best part is that it is entirely under your control.

I want to tell you about the 3 steps to stopping this mind game, and then the 2 extra “fail safe” strategies, if those steps are not entirely successful.

You think yourself into difficulties and you can’t think your way out.  But there is a solution.

Please listen to the podcast (free audio) and let me know what you think.  You can leave comments just below.

 

The 10 Rules For Saving Your Marriage

Save Your Marriage RulesLooking for all 10 Rules for Saving Your Marriage?  Here they are, in order, hyperlinked to the right spot.  Just start at the top and work your way down!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Feeling Stuck? Get Unstuck!: #34 Save Your Marriage Podcast

How to save your marriage and get unstuck.Stuck.  Not a fun place to be.  But the reality is that “stuck” is really a feeling and not a reality.  You are only as stuck as you believe you are.

Does that mean you can get anything you want?  No.  But that does not mean you are stuck.  There is a crucial shift you need to make in order to get unstuck.

And that shift?  It is entirely within your control.  You can make that shift whenever you choose.  Or you can remain stuck.

Which will you choose?

Take a listen, then it is your turn.  How will you get unstuck?  Leave a comment below.

7 Steps To Dealing With Marital Expectations Gone Bad: #34 Save Your Marriage Podcast

Save your marriage from unfair expectations.Expectations.  We all have them.  Some, we agree upon.  Some, we don’t even know we have (or that our spouse has them).  But they can play havoc on a relationship.

If you find yourself frustrated with your spouse over what he or she is not doing — or if your spouse is frustrated with YOU over what you are not doing (and perhaps didn’t know to do), you have fallen victim to expectations.

We don’t talk about expectations enough.  So, if you are trying to figure out how to save your marriage, but you keep stumbling on painful spots for each of you, it may be the minefield of hidden expectations.

Learn how to judge your own expectations — and what to do about them.  Then learn about how to deal with your spouse’s expectations, especially when you don’t think they are fair (I tell you the 7 steps to follow).

Let me know what you think in the comment area below.

Boundaries For You And Your Relationship: #33 Save Your Marriage Podcast

Do you know your boundaries?  Do you know the boundaries of your relationship?

Boundaries mark how you expect others to treat you.  It is a way of keeping yourself safe — and relationship boundaries keep your relationship safe.

Set your boundaries, save your marriage.I think about them like a fence.  If you build a fence in your backyard, you are letting others know where your property ends.

Can people cross over the fence?  Absolutely!  But at least you have been clear about it, and you can ask them to leave.  You can also invite them in.  They are not walls, keeping everyone away.

Most people have a difficult time making boundaries, and many do not even know they have boundaries.

Discover the 5 truths of boundaries and the 4 step process to set your own boundaries.

Take a listen and let me know what you think in the comments area below.

What You May Not Know About Love, Respect, and Civility: #32 Save Your Marriage Podcast

how to save your marriage from an affairI can’t tell you how many times I have had someone tell me, “I am no longer in love with my spouse.”  And while they are in my office, I get it.  They call each other names, insult each other, blame, are unloving, and disrespectful.

And in the midst of all that, there is a cycle:  “If you don’t show my love and respect, I won’t show you love and respect.”

A best-selling book, Love & Respect, Emerson Eggerichs says that men need respect more, and women need love more.  He says that men can be unloving while showing respect, and women can be disrespectful when showing love.  I think he is onto something.  But perhaps there is more to it.

In this week’s podcast, I take a look at the issue of love and respect, but also look at civility and courtesy as a basic platform.  If you feel unloved and/or disrespected (or your spouse feels that way), please listen.  There is an alternative.

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

Is It Too Late To Save Your Marriage? How To Know: #31 Save Your Marriage Podcast

How to save your marriage.  Should you quit or keep trying?How do you know whether to keep trying or to give up?  Why are some marriages impossible to save, while others just require more effort?  Are there factors that make a marriage harder to save than others?  Is there a time to stop trying?

I hear these questions every week, as people try to decide whether to keep up the effort or if it is just too late, and if they are too tired.

Let’s be very clear:  some marriages cannot be saved.  It has nothing to do with your efforts.  Perhaps the damage is too great or perhaps a spouse just cannot see the possibility.

There are some common reasons that make a marriage more difficult to save.  In this podcast, I discuss 5 complicators, so you know what you are up against. I also discuss why you might be feeling the need to give up, and how to decide if it is a good reason or not.

Take a listen and tell me what you think in the comments below!

4 Mindset Shifts To Save Your Marriage: #30 Save Your Marriage Podcast

Take action to save your marriage.Your “mindset” is how you think about your world.  For the most part, a mindset is hidden from you. . . which is why it is a problem.  If you believe that you can or can’t do something, part of the issue is your mindset — especially if you think you can’t.

Do you find yourself stuck, unable to move forward with saving your marriage because you are not even sure if it is possible?  Or perhaps you are caught by a mindset of inaction.  You know you need to do something, but you do nothing.  Maybe you find yourself caught in “research mode,” looking for more info, but doing nothing.  Or do you find yourself scared to do anything, afraid it might not work and you might fail?

That’s all about your mindset!  And your mindset is something you can change.  In fact, there are several ways you can shift your mindset.

In this week’s podcast, I discuss 4 simple ways you can shift your thinking, which will shift your mindset, which will let you do what you need to do:  Save Your Marriage!

Let me know what you think.  Are there other ways you shift your own mindset?  Use the comments are below to let me know.

4 Ways Your Marriage Is Slipping Away

As I sit here at my desk, we are faced with yet another brutal winter storm barreling down upon us.  We have already had a run of them this year, one thoroughly destroying the trees in my back yard with a huge coating of ice.  And here we go again.  More ice, more snow, more cold, more destruction.

This is a storm that the forecasters were telling me about almost a week ago.  They were talking about how this would impact us long before the storm was even on land.  But if they had not done that, I would have no idea I needed to go to the store and grab some “essentials” — especially some chocolate ice cream!

This morning, I was walking my dog, barefoot, in the neighborhood.  (To clarify, it was I that was barefoot — he always is!)  It was partly sunny and in the low 50′s, so I was barefoot and in a light top.

Again, if it had not been for the meteorologists, I would have no idea that destruction was headed this way. In fact, I was just thinking that not too many years ago, we would have no idea that the storm was coming, how bad it was, how long it would last, and where it would hit.  We would likely just wake up to a rough storm, rather unprepared.

Unfortunately, marriage is often like that.  I watch marriage after marriage where one or both did not see the problems coming.  They were left unprepared, caught up in the storm before they even saw it coming.  How long and how bad, often neither knew.

Why is it that people are so incapable of seeing the problems coming?  Why aren’t they better prepared for the difficulties? Simple.  Life kept them distracted.  In the process of dealing with “out there,” couples forget to deal with “in here,” inside the relationship, inside the connection with each other.  One day, one or both wake up, look at the other, and are amazed at the disconnection and frustration.

How does that happen?  Is it some malevolent person trying to destroy the relationship?  In my experience, the people involved in a dissolving marriage are not mean, not vicious, not evil, and do not mean to cause pain.  Instead, they are people that did not notice the building problems.  They didn’t know the storm was brewing, and didn’t know their actions (or inactions) were strengthening the storm.

I have noticed 4 very significant points where couples are destroying the foundation of their relationship, and are not aware of it.  These 4 points are all avoidable, if you know they are trouble spots.  But the time to take action is before the storm comes.  After that, the recovery is much more difficult (not impossible — just more difficult).

Here are those four points:

save your marriage pause button1)  Couples place their relationship “on hold.”

Kids, careers, friends. . . life.  Families are often built in the early stages of a marriage, at the same time that careers are being established.  Often, people are still very connected to their friends and hobbies.

I have heard it many times.  People thought their marriage was “on hold,” “paused,” waiting for the stage of life to pass.  One or both may somehow believe that when everything slowed down, they could return to the relationship and pick it up where it was.

Unfortunately, like many areas of life, there is no “pause” for relationships.  They are either growing or deteriorating.  “Pausing” begins the process of disconnecting.  Disconnection leads to hurt and frustration. More than that, since we all need connection, when the disconnection deepens, it leads to hurt and resentment.

The hurt and resentment continue to perpetuate further disconnection.  They cycle deepens.  And a marriage “on pause” simply becomes a disconnected relationship, fueled by hurt and resentment.

2)  Individuals change and grow, but without communicating it.

Whether people marry younger or older, individuals grow and develop.  In fact, the age of the couple at the time of marriage has very little impact on the chances of the marriage surviving. I have had couples argue it both ways:  “Since we are getting married so young, we will grow up together.” “Since we are getting married a little older, we have grown up, and know what we want in life.”

The fact is, getting married young or waiting to get married is less important than both people letting each other know about how each is evolving.  Unfortunately, how we are changing as individuals is often almost invisible to ourselves.  We don’t always even notice how we are changing, ourselves.

Which is why it is crucial for couples to continue having those conversations about what is important to each of them in life. Let’s go back to how most people fall in love:  we share our inner life, our hopes, our dreams.  We talk about our experiences and how they have formed us as people.  We discuss politics, beliefs, social issues.  We basically spend those early days of bonding by telling each other of h0w we have grown into the people we are.

And then, we stop.  Sometimes, it is gradual.  For many couples, it is abrupt.  Somehow, there is an assumption that the other person knows you, so why continue to share?  Or life gets busy (see #1, above), and conversations become planning sessions or gripe sessions.  Couples end up talking about all the things that are on the schedule or all the things that are going poorly.

The mundane and frustrating take over the dreams and hopes.  Aspirations disappear from the conversation, covered over by the minutiae of existence. Few people feel much connection in a discussion of the very busy schedule that is keeping them from connecting.  Fewer people feel much connection in conversations that only cover the frustrations of the day.

We humans are aspirational, driven by dreams and hopes.  We are pulled into conversations about those hopes, but tend to pull away from conversations about all that is going wrong. Is there room for sharing those frustrations?  Absolutely!  That is part of being in a supportive relationship.  The problem is when the preponderance of the conversations are focused on the frustrations.

A focus on the frustrations keeps people locked into the feelings of frustration.  And the more locked into those feelings a person is, the less capable that person is of seeing the other elements of life — the points of connection, of love, of respect, the view of the other person and of life in more complete ways.

When we become uni-dimensional, we skew our perceptions, reinforce those perceptions, and fail to notice the many challenges to those perceptions.

3)  Conflicts are down-played and buried.

Sometimes, people come to believe that if there is conflict in a relationship, then there must be a problem.  We have the mistaken nature that a conflict-free relationship is proof of a strong marriage.

In Scott Peck’s book, The Different Drum, Peck describes the path to true community.  He describes the first stage as “pseud0-community.”  I have borrowed his idea and placed it in the context of connection between a couple — intimacy.  From that frame, I discuss “pseudo-intimacy,” a stage marked by pretending that “we are just alike.”  A couple marvels about being on the same wavelength, of sharing identical beliefs and values.  As proof, they point to the lack of conflict.

In reality, this is a couple where one or both have refused to be honest and admit differences of opinion.  For the sake of maintaining pseudo-intimacy, the disagreements are avoided or denied, leaving a growing chasm between them.

You see, the conflict and disagreement do not go away.  It is just buried, slowly eroding away at the relationship.

Recently, in Australia, a coal mine caught fire.  It is not the first coal mine to do so.  A number of others around the world have caught fire.  Sometimes, the fire erupts from the surface, as in Australia.  But other times, such as in Centralia, Pennsylvania, which has been burning for 50 years, or in Jharia, India, which has been burning for nearly a century, the fire eats away at the underground, mostly invisible on the surface.  But as has happened in India, the burning coal finally gives way and collapses the surface, swallowing buildings and homes.

The same thing happens with buried conflict and anger.  The hurt and pain eats away at the foundations of the relationship, often invisible to the people in the relationship and to those surrounding.

As the buried conflicts build, a low-grade level of resentment begins to build.  Resentment is the left-over unprocessed anger from these conflicts.  Sometimes, the conflicts have flair-ups that go unresolved.  Other times, the conflict is just ignored or avoided.

But the hurt is there.  The hurt turns to anger.  The anger, unresolved, becomes resentment.  And resentment becomes a systemic infection to the relationship, killing connection and numbing people to the relationship.

One day, someone realizes that he or she is numb to any connection with the spouse.  The feelings of love have evaporated, the connection is gone, and they are too exhausted to care.  At which point, the other may proclaim, “I never knew we had a problem.  We never even had a fight or argument.”

The sad part of this process is that it was avoidable when there was a stronger connection.  When there is connection, a true and honest resolution to the conflict allows the couple to move through the stages of intimacy, finally arriving at genuine and authentic intimacy.

4)  Boundaries and expectations are never clarified.

When I visit with a couple before they get married, as they prepare to go into the new relationship, I ask this question:  “How will you protect this relationship?”  I am usually met with a perplexed stare.  Neither have thought about it, as neither can imagine either of them placing the relationship at risk.

Which is when the seeds of trouble are already sown.

A couple of years back, we had some bare spots in our back yard.  I willingly admit, I am not big on lawn care.  What I do, I do because I don’t want the neighbors to look down upon me.  But left to my own choices, I would live in a very natural surrounding, with little grass to be cut.

However, in our land of suburbia, the neighborhood is much more about a well-manicured lawn, lush and green, regardless of the weather.  So, I do my best to play the part of someone who cares.

Off I went to the lawn and garden section of the home improvement store (which shall remain nameless).  Without any research or reading, I grabbed the cheapest bag of “grass seed” I could find.  I place that in quotations, because in retrospect, I believe only a small percentage of the seeds were actually “grass.”  The others were, well, weeds.

But off I went, throwing seeds all over the bare spots, and watered them. I did just what I thought was necessary to get that lawn into shape.  But I hadn’t really thought through it, researched it, or considered it.  I just thought, “throw some seeds, water, and enjoy the green.”

So in a few weeks, when I noticed how many weeds were growing, I began to work to control the weeds.  Then, I looked into what I had done.  The “contractor grade” seeds did produce a green lawn — just not with grass!

Once the weeds were in place, it was a much more difficult job trying to get the upper hand.  They just seemed to multiply.  And suddenly, a much more drastic intervention was required.  I now get to pay a lawn service!

The same is true in a relationship.  When we don’t think it through on the front side, we end up playing “catch-up,” often having to take extraordinary steps on the back-side.  And that is especially true with boundaries of a relationship.

A “boundary” is simply what you will not let someone/something do to you or what you hold dear.  It marks the “boundary” of how you expect to be treated.  For example, a boundary may be an unwillingness to tolerate someone yelling at you or calling you names.  A boundary is step one; enforcing the boundary is step two.

Why are boundaries so important?  Because the world is constantly encroaching on the relationship.  Boundaries can include how you protect family or couple time, how you monitor threats to your relationship, and how you take care of your own health (mental and physical).

Often, couples quickly fail to protect the boundaries around couple time.  They stop making efforts to be alone.  They start allowing electronic distractions to overtake mealtime, leisure time, bedtime, and any other time that is left over.  The distractions of life pull attention away from each other.

Other more significant boundaries include how you protect marriage vows.  In fact, I am of the opinion that infidelity is a result of 1) lack of connection, and 2) lack of boundaries.

Any couple will go through times of more or less connection.  The real danger point is when there is a lack of connection and a lack of boundaries.  As I noted before, a lack of connection in one relationship leaves a vulnerability to seek connection from another relationship.  Unless boundaries are in place that protect the commitment to the relationship, the low connection point becomes a high danger point for the relationship.

It is easiest for a couple to establish the necessary boundaries of their relationship when there is no need for the boundaries.  When connection is high enough that neither want to be distracted by anything or anyone else, it is easiest to discuss the necessary boundaries.

But even when there is some level of disconnection, it is important to begin to build in boundaries to protect the relationship.  Ironically, when the boundaries are secure, the connection becomes more secure.  It feels safer to connect when the connection is well-protected and both are ready to protect the relationship.

What are YOUR weak points?  What places do YOU need to shore up your relationship?  Where do YOU need to resurface and settle issues, add protection, reconnect, and discuss what is important?

 

Do You Give Your Spouse YOUR Stamp Of Approval?: #29 Save Your Marriage Podcast

how to validate your spouse and save your marriagePeople are quirky.  We all have strange and interesting habits and interests.  No two people are alike.

Yet all of us crave one thing:  validation and approval.  We did it in high school (“I am SO different, along with everyone else”) and we do it through adulthood.

In fact, one of the aphrodisiacs of a relationship is feeling validated, approved, and accepted by the other person.

Does YOUR spouse feel validated and accepted?

In this week’s save your marriage podcast, discover how this can make or break a relationship.  Hear the 6 traps that may keep your spouse from feeling validated — and what to do about it!


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