Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Love & Marriage Anyone?

David Burliuk, "Marriage Proposition"

I’ve got 88 posts on Attachment Mama now and just one other is on marriage with small children. Dang.

We recently had a wake-up call to the critical importance of giving our relationship the same tender loving care that we work diligently to maintain for our children. After months of exponentially increasing stress levels, well…let’s just say our partnership felt like it was unraveling a bit.

So despite the unfortunate requirement of even more time that the girls must be separated from their parents — we committed to participate in a 2-day Imago relationship workshop this past weekend to give more extended attention to our marriage than we have in over three years. Ten hours on Saturday; nine hours on Sunday.  Our goal — to create a conscious marriage with intentional, healthy communication.

Here’s a few highlights of what we learned — which was a ton — that I hope will serve you as well.

  • The unconscious purpose of marriage is to finish childhood.  This is why your partner chose you — to resolve what he/she didn’t get from his/her parents. Here’s the unbelievably challenging piece to this.  You must change to give your partner what he/she needs because you are likely repeating parental behaviors.
  • Conflict with your partner is a good thing. What?!  Yes.  When our partner is in conflict with us, they become an agent for our personal growth.  The idea is to learn how to better communicate through conflict versus try to get rid of it.
  • One of the keys to expressing anger in a healthy way is to come to an agreement to only do so through an appointment.  In other words, if you get triggered and your knee jerk reaction would be to throw eye darts and a few verbal slams — resist!  Go take a walk, chop the veggies for dinner with vigor, move the energy in some way and then request a time to talk later when you can approach the issue using the “Mirror, Validate, Empathize” approach I wrote about in a Healthy Conflict Resolution post.
  • Ways to re-romanticize your relationship:
  1. Ask your partner to write a list of things that you do that leave him/her feeling loved and cared for and you do the same. Including anything past or present. Exchange lists and commit to gifting each other with a caring behavior every day.
  2. Make a list of fun things that you’d like to do together including face-to-face, physically vigorous and emotionally intense and commit to making time once a week to do them.
  3. Make a list of your partner’s physical characteristics, personality traits, behaviors and overall wonderfulness that you adore and flood them with this in whatever way they would appreciate and hear it most — high energy, soft and sweet, etc.
  4. Create a relationship vision together in which you map out your ideal relationship and then begin to live into it.  What do you feel toward each other? How do you relate to one another?  What is your sex life like?  How do you relate to your children and how do they relate to you?  How do you resolve conflict? How do you play together?

The way to get closer to the ideal relationship we all have in our minds essentially comes one day at a time with conscious practice.  I tried not to slump into a depression when our fabulous instructor said it usually takes couples 3-6 years to fully adopt conscious communication practices.

But we’re practicing!  And eventually we’ll get there.

Love to you and yours!

Posted in Marriage | 3 Comments

Healthy Conflict Resolution at Home

Everyone feels angry from time to time.  We’re human and conflict is part of life.  How we express it — or not, is what makes our family functional or dysfunctional.

I’m keenly interested in the subject of conflict resolution because I think it’s truly at the heart of everything that matters in our communities, our businesses, our governments, really our world — and we’ve all heard the adage a million times:  world peace starts at home.

How we model conflict management as husband and wife will very likely be how our children work things out (or not) with each other and their friends. And the more young people in this life that learn how to communicate and work through issues where each person feels honored and heard — the better our world will be in the future.

Because truly — who and how we are when we’re first dating, flush with cash, time, libido and baby-free freedom is fabulous and fun and is the juice that led us all down the isle.  But how we are when things aren’t easy breezy — this is when it really counts. This is what can strengthen or damage our bond. And this is what ultimately impacts children deeply.

What happens when Mom and Dad disagree or when one is making a request of the other?  What happens when Mom or Dad is frustrated about something I’m doing?  What can I do when I feel angry?  Do I have to stuff it to fit into the family?  Or can I cry and scream if I want to as long as I don’t hurt myself or others?

Do you all remember that beautiful poem by Oriah called “The Invitation”?  So powerful in addressing what really matters in marriage.

...I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.I think that fire includes the fire between us. Can we stand up to what’s hard within our relationship — the foundation for our home and our family — and not shrink back?  Can we always seek compassion and tenderness when every button in our body has been pushed and our cups are empty?  (more…)

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Posted in AP & Self Care, Conflict Resolution, Marriage | 7 Comments


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