Secrets – When You Hold and When You Receive

There is a saying that we are as sick as our deepest secret. What happens when we keep what we see as our most shameful or hurtful secret to ourselves?

stock-photo-20604007-young-woman-looking-through-red-curtains-rear-viewSecrets have a tendency to fester and grow until they consume us. They can infect our mental, physical and spiritual health and  because we don’t reach out to someone else for comfort, guidance, healing, or even a listening ear, we feel alone. The secret most often takes on a life of its own. It can double, triple and often quadruple in our minds. Are  we really objective about our own transgressions or do we minimize or maximize?

12363983-upset-mom-with-frustrated-daughter-over-green-backgroundIf we stay in our own heads, we are not exposed to reason or forgiveness of others or ourselves. Most often, when we hold secrets concerning our emotions, circumstances, incidents or missteps, the knowledge becomes like a splinter. It may start out like a splinter of  minor thought, action or event but it festers into a pus filled volcano of emotion that can no longer be contained. That emotion can take the form of anger, confusion or sadness. Have you ever exploded at someone in unreasonable circumstances and wondered, “Where did that come from?” We have shamed, blamed and punished ourselves for so long that the pressure has built up to a point where it can no longer be contained.

19287090-dice-un-secretoAm I suggesting that you open up to everyone you know? No way! Choosing who you tell is as important as the telling. Choose someone with whom you feel totally comfortable. Sometimes a total stranger can be that person because they can be unbiased and have nothing to gain by betraying your confidence. Trust is an important ingredient in choosing someone to whom you are willing to expose your vulnerability. I ask myself if the secret is just too juicy for them to repeat?
Family conflictThere is often a worry that we are putting someone on the spot
by asking them to keep our secrets. When you are put into the position where you feel that the secret needs to be repeated, just remind yourself  that it is not your story to tell. If our confider wanted others to know, they would have told them. By repeating the secret, we are telling them that they were right not to confide in anyone and next time they won’t and are back to square one. Also, repeating the secret to someone who may be affected will inhibit the confider’s opportunity to work through the situation on their own. Confronting or admitting deep held secrets is an opportunity to grow and/or gain confidence.

Even the word “Secret” has taken on a bad word connotation as in: not being nice to keep secrets, secret life, secret meeting or secret bank account etc. I rarely have secrets that I have not confided in someone. Some think that I should not “tell on myself” but I choose to live happy, joyous and free and to me that means purging myself of my secrets and accepting forgiveness even if that forgiveness is only my own.

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20 Years Later

Have you ever looked at the ways that you and your spouse complement each other, how you  are alike, and how you differ?

Danny and I complement each other in these ways:

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  • I like the soft fluffy french fries, he like the crispy, skinny ones.
  • I like the middle slices of bread, he likes the heel.
  • I like to feed the fish, he likes to feed the cats.
  • I like to pull weeds and he likes to cut the grass.
  • I like to decide where the pictures will go on the wall, he likes to hang them.
  • He likes to clean the garage and I like to clean the house.

 

We have these things in common:

 

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  • We are both people persons.
  • Neither of us ever met a stranger.
  • We both like spicy foods.
  • We have very similar tastes in decor.
  • We both love left-overs.
  • We both love nature.
  • We both love cats and fish.
  • We both love Subaru’s.
  • We both enjoy off-road adventures.
  • We both like to eat out at the same restaurants.
  • Our family backgrounds are similar.
  • We are both family oriented.
  • We both like psychological thrillers.
  • We have the same spiritual beliefs.
  • Our family backgrounds are similar.

 

We have these differences:

 

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  • He is the glass half-full and I am the glass half-empty.
  • He is oblivious to his aches and pains and I am sensitive to mine.
  • He keeps his own counsel and I verbalize everything.
  • He is the dreamer and I am the realist.
  • He researches everything and I fly by the seat of my pants.
  • He is task oriented and I get side tracked.
  • I am impulsive and he is methodical.
  • If I think something, I voice it. He thinks about something before he voices it.
  • I stick, he runs.
  • What’s his is yours, what’s mine is mine.
  • He is athletic, I am not.

 

The thing is…

We have had scary moments.

 

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We have had ecstatic moments.

 

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We have had angry moments.

 

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We have had peaceful moments.

 

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We have been on the same page.

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We have been in different books.

 

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But after 20 years, we are still two halves of a whole.

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Gift Buying

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In the past, I started Christmas shopping in September and finished on Christmas Eve with the intention of spreading the cost over a period of months. I love to choose gifts, matching the gift to the person. I will never add up the total I previously spent on gifts because it was a passion and a hobby. So much love, care and thought went into the choosing of each gift and I received so much enjoyment. As someone who can never say a positive without adding a downside and one who suffers from foot in mouth disease, this was the one area where I conveyed my love with the hope that each gift represented my understanding of who they were and what they enjoyed without saying a word. My mother and I share this love of gift buying and I will be forever humbled by her spirit.

Over the years, our grandchildren would be overwhelmed by all the gifts to the point of their eyes glazing over with the realization of another gift. Their mothers were burdened with too many phone calls asking too many questions, the end result would always be and still is, “They will like anything you get them.” I saw looks of confusion as if thinking, “What is this?” or “Why this?” but that only dismayed me for a moment because there were “Wow”s” and “I love this.” to offset the disappointment. Some gifts seemed like a good idea at the time and even I questioned their usefulness but that was often part of the fun. An example is the recipe journal I gave our youngest daughter for committing her  favorite recipes  to paper in order to hand down the book down to her daughter. She seemed to think it was a good idea but now she has two daughters. Oh well, it was the thought.

The most disappointment Danny and I ever got was when we bought our first grandson a yellow Hummer bicycle. We loved the bike much more than he did and he rode it no more than 3 times. What we realized later was that his legs were too short for it making him even more self-conscious of his small stature. His younger brother eventually ended up riding it and I’m not sure if it ended up being pawned or whether his brother has it. You win some and you lose some.

As my wise mother told me, you have to draw a line somewhere when your family starts growing and it can make you sad. So I cut back over the past few years discovering that the grown children enjoyed the stockings as much as the actual gifts. The stockings were often as elaborate as the gifts containing luxury underwear and stylish warm pj’s, C.D.’s and colognes for the men and always bath gels that never failed to earn the comment, “Someone must think I need this.” Then last year, we moved to Colorado which sucked up our Christmas money. We made do with buying Colorado t-shirts for the grandchildren and Colorado bumper stickers for the adults. It was the best we could do and it hurt me but that was when I realized that the time had come to draw the line.

This year, we moved for the third time in a year and we also have limited income so I shopped Wal-Mart thinking I could have them picked up from our adult children’s local stores. What I discovered was that the great deals I was able to get locally did not apply online. I still chose each inexpensive gift for each grandchild with care and minimal phone calls and didn’t break the bank. When it came to our adult children which always includes our son and daughter-in-laws as they have become as much our children as if we birthed them (honestly, I didn’t birth any of them yet I am as grateful for the gift of them as if I did), we stood up to the challenge with couple gifts that were not expensive but thoughtfully chosen. Their dadd (not a typo) chose each with the love and attention that is normally reserved for me. Though they are the same, they are different based on the individuals.

I have been influenced by Danny’s philosophy which is to buy gifts with the person in mind not the cost incurred, high or low. His gifts say, “I thought of you.” no matter how large or small a gift. What that says to me is that it doesn’t matter how little we have to spend, we will give our gifts in love.

We have all received gifts from that person who is so pleased with their choice yet the gift makes you want to shake your head in wonder. This year, think about the joy it gave to that person when they believed they were choosing the perfect gift for you, no different from the gifts your children made in school, and feel the love.

 

 

 

See Something, Say Something, Do Something

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When I was in a domestic violence situation, there were many opportunities for intervention by acquaintances and strangers who witnessed the abuse. Yet no one wanted to get involved and I did everything I could to keep up appearances.

I was silently screaming for help but was too ashamed to reach out. How I wanted someone to care enough to take the situation out of my hands, to force me to leave. I suppose acquaintances were afraid of my ex because it was obvious that he was vindictive. My family respected my boundaries and honored my choices leaving me to feel love for their lack of interference and resentment for their lack of interference. Domestic violence victims experience many emotions, one being confusion.

I have been publicly humiliated, threatened and emotionally, physically and verbally abused to which there were witnesses – Strangers, acquaintances, family and friends. No one had the courage to stand up for me or even reach out to me. The two times I reached out to acquaintances, they told me that they didn’t want to get involved because they didn’t want to lose his business/friendship. My family respected my choices and boundaries even though they disapproved. I have never been more alone.

The thing is that most victims of domestic violence are like children, they feel helpless and they obviously live in fear. People in general are afraid of losing the victim’s friendship or love by what they consider to be interference. There is also a fear of crossing the victim’s boundaries. To those people I say, “Would you prefer to risk their losing their lives or having a psychotic break or risk their being angry and/or losing their friendship/love?”

I believe that when you love and/or care about someone, you have a responsibility to have the hard conversations. There are times when you have to put another person’s health and well-being before your own feelings and fears. I am not asking that you put your own life at risk but there are things that can be done safely such as:

  • Have a conversation regarding their situation calmly and rationally.
  • Explore options with the victim to staying in the relationship.
  • Offer financial or housing assistance until they can get stabilized.
  • Help the victim make a safety and/or escape plan.
  • Supply them with the number to a Domestic Violence Shelter and/or Hotline
  • Offer the victim transportation to a shelter.
  • Let them know they can reach out to you any time day or night.
  • Encourage them to report the abuse to law enforcement.
  • Call the police.
  • Create a distraction giving the victim a chance to escape.
  • When strangers, make it obvious to the abuser that they have been observed, therefore, can be identified.

Unfortunately, the decision to leave has to be the victim’s. Often there are circumstances which prevent them from leaving such as lack of funds, no place to go, children’s safety etc. When a victim is forced to leave or take action, more times than not they can be easily enticed by the abuser to go back.

Please don’t make excuses to look the other way. If one day your son or daughter became a victim of domestic violence, what would you want someone to do?

Taking the Time to Consider

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I recently read about a 15 year old girl who had a premature baby in her bedroom. The baby was born alive, weighed 2+ pounds and the girl threw the baby out the window. The baby died.

I find myself trying to assess blame. Do I blame the 15 year old girl for being heartless and not taking responsibility for having gotten pregnant? Do I blame the father of the baby for getting a 15 year old girl pregnant? Or, do I blame the parents of the 15 year old girl who had not built a relationship with their daughter based on trust. A relationship that would enable her to turn to them  when she is in trouble. A foundation that would ensure that their daughter would know that though her parents would be disappointed and upset, they would get her through any situation.

The truth is that I don’t know the intimate details of the story or even the parents side. The reporter wasn’t interested in writing about the human side of the story or may have been prevented by the girl’s age. Was the girl molested by an adult, was the father an older boy, were the parents aware that she was pregnant, had plans been made for finding another home for the child, did her parents plan to raise the baby? The publication only seemed to care about the shock factor and I rushed to judgement based on the little information presented. It is good that I waited a couple of days to write this so that I have had time to ask myself the hard questions. Who am I to judge, where is my compassion, what were the circumstances and the really hard one – what made me read the article?

I wish I could tell you that I won’t read such articles in the future but that would not be the truth. I know myself well enough that there is no doubt that I will continue to read articles pertaining to child abuse, neglect and murder. I must admit that the shock value attracts  me as it gives me a thrill and a target for my outrage and anger. But there’s something else it gives me and that is insight and compassion. I come into contact with young girls who desperately need someone to talk to and they are very much afraid. The reasons they are afraid vary but they don’t feel that they can talk to their parents. These girls need encouragement and reassurance that they can get through any situation. Talking with these girls builds compassion and dampens the rage and anger because I can do something to help.

I write a lot about my mother and how her alcoholism affected my life. What may not get across is how very much I appreciate her as a mother. I did not have to hide anything and could always turn to her. Did I know she would be angry and/or disappointed? Yes, but that did not stop me because in the end, I knew that I did not have to go through anything alone. My mother is all about unconditional love and understanding. My parents allowed me to make important decisions about my life even though they did not always agree. They taught me independence and self reliance. My mother worries about me because I am the middle child who expresses her deepest emotions and she sees that as a weakness. She is only late in life coming to understand that emotions are healthier when they don’t have to be hidden. She doesn’t have to worry about me because thanks to her and my dad, my core is solid, emotional but solid.

Crisis Text Line (CTL)

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If you are interested in doing volunteer work that you can do from home, here is an idea for you:

While working as a Crisis Telephone Counselor for Crisis Hotline (CHL), we assisted CTL when we could so I am familiar with this organization. Now that I am no longer employed or volunteer with CHL due to having relocated, I have entered the volunteer program at CTL. Though I have been through a version of their training as a continuing education requirement and having been through CHL’s training, I am finding the CTL volunteer training to be very beneficial. This is a rewarding endeavor and for those who like doing things for others anonymously, this is your ticket. All training and working on the texting platform is done from your computer at home. You set your own schedule and the text line is open 24/7 so working it into your personal schedule isn’t difficult.

If you are nervous about crisis support, let me reassure you that you will be well-trained and their training includes live observations. Also, you will have all the tools you need right in front of you. All texts are monitored by a supervisor who is always available if you get stuck or need assistance. Though it is a mandatory reporting agency for imminent risk of suicide or homicide as well as child abuse, the reporting is actually done by the supervisor, however, these instances do not occur often. The way I look at it is “It’s just a conversation.” There is no script but you will learn active listening and productive conversation.

Rather than quote all the information regarding CTL, I am posting their FAQ sheet. You can also go to crisistextline.org

Text START to 741-741

FAQ

Jump to

Texting in
Data
Donate
Financials
Partnerships
Tech Issues
Media
Volunteers
Our Approach

TEXTING IN

Q: HOW DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK?

A:

  1. You text 741741 when in crisis. Available 24/7 in the USA.
  2. A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly.
  3. The crisis counselor helps you move from a hot moment to a cool calm to stay safe and healthy using effective active listening and suggested referrals – all through text message using Crisis Text Line’s secure platform.

Q: WHO SHOULD TEXT IN?

A: We exist to help anyone in crisis at any time.

Q: WHO ANSWERS THE TEXT MESSAGES?

A: Crisis Text Line crisis counselors are both rigorously trained volunteers and employees of our crisis center partners.

Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN I TEXT IN?

A: You’ll receive an automated text asking you what your crisis is. Within minutes, a live trained crisis counselor will answer your text. They will help you out of your moment of crisis and work with you to create a plan to continue to feel better.

Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE ACTUALLY ANONYMOUS?

A: Yes. Crisis counselors only know what texters share with them, and that information stays confidential. We take your anonymity seriously. Check out our terms of service here.

Q: HOW MUCH DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE COST?

A: We do not charge texters. If your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon, texts to our short code, 741741 are free of charge. If you have a plan with a different carrier, standard text message rates apply.

Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE SHOW UP ON MY CELL PHONE BILL?

A: Nothing will appear on your bill if your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon. If your plan is with another carrier our short code, 741741 will appear on your billing statement. Read about how this happened here.

Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK WITH MY PHONE?

A: Crisis Text Line works on all major US carriers, and most minor regional carriers. However, shortcodes (like 741741) are not allowed on many prepaid plans like T-Mobile’s.

Q: I HAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE WHEN I TEXTED IN, CAN I TEXT IN AGAIN?

A: You can text in again, if you are experiencing a crisis. However, you should not feel dependent on us. Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for long-term counseling, in-person therapy, or a friend.

Q: HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT TO TEXT WITH A CRISIS COUNSELOR?

A: Our goal is to respond to every texter in under 5 minutes. During high volume times, such as at night or when people are talking about us on social media, wait times may be longer.

Q: IS THERE A CHARACTER LIMIT WHEN TEXTING CRISIS TEXT LINE?

A: Yes, our system is only able to process 140 characters in one message.

Q: WHY AM I RECEIVING AN ERROR MESSAGE OR NO RESPONSE AT ALL?

Sadly, there are some carriers who have not adopted the use of shortcodes–and the small percentage of people with these phones, can’t use Crisis Text Line. (We hear that sometimes you get an auto-error response. Sometimes nothing at all. We know this is shitty and we wish those carriers would enable us). If your phone carrier doesn’t enable shortcodes, here is a list of hotlines you can call.

Q: IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY TO REACH CRISIS TEXT LINE BESIDES TEXT?

A: Yes, you can reach us through Facebook Messenger. Access to message Crisis Text Line is located through Facebook’s Safety checkpoint. This is accessible by flagging a user’s post.

Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, DOES ANONYMITY APPLY?

A: Yes. We do not have access to your Facebook profile. The only know information about you that we’ll know is what you share with us.

Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHO HAS ACCESS TO THE DATA?

A: Three parties: you (in your Messenger thread), Crisis Text Line, and Facebook.

Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER AND I WANT MY DATA DELETED, WHAT DO I DO?

A: Message us back with the word ‘LOOFAH’. We’ll scrub your data from our system, and make a request to Facebook to do the same.

Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHICH TERMS OF SERVICE APPLY TO ME?

A: By contacting Crisis Text Line through Facebook Messenger, users agree to Facebook Messenger’s Terms of Service, as well as Crisis Text Line’s Terms of Service.

Q: WHAT ARE ALL OF THE CRISIS ISSUES YOU TRACK? CAN YOU ADD MORE?

A: See the issues we track at www.crisistrends.org. If you’re a researcher or practitioner with interest in another issue, submit your suggestion in the form at the bottom of www.crisistrends.org.

Q: WHO CAN APPLY FOR ACCESS TO CRISIS TEXT LINE’S DATA?

A: Data access is available to approved academic researchers. The application will be available here in late January 2016. Otherwise, please visit www.crisistrends.org to see the latest trends in how texters are experiencing crisis.

DONATE

Q: HOW CAN I DONATE TO CRISIS TEXT LINE?

A: You can donate via Paypal (link here) or by sending a check to:
Crisis Text Line
Attn: Finance Dept.
24 West 25th Street, 6th Fl
New York, NY 10010

Q: IS MY DONATION TO CRISIS TEXT LINE TAX DEDUCTIBLE?

A: Yes! Upon receiving your donation, we’ll send you a thank you letter that clarifies your donation is tax deductible.

FINANCIALS

Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE REALLY A NOT FOR PROFIT?

A: Yes, we are! Here are our latest financials as proof.

Q: HOW IS CRISIS TEXT LINE FUNDED?

A: We’re privately funded. This means we receive funding from foundations, individuals, and corporations.

Q: WHERE CAN I FIND CRISIS TEXT LINE’S FORM 990?

A: 2014 here and 2015 here.

Q: I SAW YOU RAISED A BUNCH OF MONEY (WOOHOO!) FOR THE ORG. WHERE IS IT ALL GOING?

A: We are focused on three main initiatives: (1) supporting our Crisis Counselor community with better products and more emotional support, (2) integrating with tech companies to provide support to users inside things like After School, Kik, YouTube, and Facebook Messenger, (3) white labeling our service for other orgs and locations– providing a free text service for the National Eating Disorder Association and cities like Newark and Atlanta.

PARTNERSHIPS

Q: WHO CAN PARTNER WITH CRISIS TEXT LINE?

A: We partner with not-for-profits, colleges and universities, and corporations. Want to partner? Fill out this form!

TECH ISSUES

Having technical issues with the site or text line? Check out our Help Center.

MEDIA

Q: CAN I GET MARKETING MATERIALS WITH THE CRISIS TEXT LINE SHORT CODE TO SHARE WITH MY COMMUNITY?

A: Absolutely. Download our Volunteer Flyer or Text Flyer.

Q: WHOM I CONTACT FOR A PRESS INQUIRY?

A: Email support@crisistextline.org

VOLUNTEERS

Q: HOW CAN I BECOME A VOLUNTEER?

A: We are always accepting applications! Apply Here.

Q: WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A VOLUNTEER?

A: To become a Crisis Counselor, you must:

  1. Pass a background check – that means no felonies and no violent or sex-offense misdemeanors
  2. Have a US Social Security number (in order to complete the background check)
  3. Be at least 18 years old
  4. Have access to a computer with a secure, reliable internet connection
  5. Commit to volunteering 4 hours a week for 1 year

Q: WHAT’S THE TIME COMMITMENT OF VOLUNTEERS?

A: We ask our volunteers to commit to volunteering 4 hours a week for 1 year. Volunteers are able to break up their commitment into two 2-hour shifts each week if they would like.

Q: HOW ARE VOLUNTEERS TRAINED?

A: After a rigorous application process, our volunteers complete a 34 hour training course over 6 weeks. This includes ongoing simulated conversations and personalized feedback from our experienced trainers as well as 8 hours of on-platform observation. Training content is based on best practices in crisis counseling and Crisis Text Line data.

Q: WHEN IS YOUR NEXT CRISIS COUNSELOR TRAINING?

A: We accept applications on a rolling basis. A new training cohort starts every two weeks, so apply whenever you want! We’re excited to meet you!

Q: WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A CRISIS COUNSELOR VOLUNTEER?

A: Check out our blog to read stories from our volunteers.

Q: ARE VOLUNTEERS SUPERVISED?

A: Yes. Our experienced supervisors oversee and assist our volunteers, when necessary, while on the platform.

OUR APPROACH

Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE COUNSELING?

A: No, our specialists do not counsel, but rather practice active listening to help texters move from a hot moment to a cool calm.

Q: WHAT IS ACTIVE LISTENING?

A: Active listening is when someone communicates in a way that is empathetic, understanding, and respectful. It includes focus on the texter and thoughtful answers.

Q: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRISIS TEXT LINE AND THERAPY?

A: Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for therapy. Therapy includes a diagnosis made by a doctor, a treatment plan of action, and a patient/therapist relationship. Crisis Text Line helps people in moments of crisis. Our crisis counselors practice active listening to help our texters find calm and create an action plan for themselves to continue to feel better. Crisis Text Line’s crisis counselors are not therapists.

Q: WHO STARTED CRISIS TEXT LINE?

A: We were founded by our CEO, Nancy Lublin. After seeing a need for the service we provide, Nancy hired a team to build what is our current platform. The original team included a data scientist and an engineer. Hear our story here.

 

Didn’t find your answer? Check out our Help Center or email support@crisistextline.org.

Privacy Policies

Terms of Service

Privacy Policy

Website Privacy Policy

FAQs

Check out our FAQs

Help Make it Happen

Want to start a crisis text line in your country? international@crisistextline.org

We’re hiring:
Apply now

Press inquiry?

Email press@crisistextline.org
If you are in crisis, text START to 741-741.

Keep me posted

 

 

Marriage Myths Six

MYTH: YOU MAY REPEAT YOUR PARENTS’ RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS.

How you carry your childhood baggage is more important than the fact that you have any. “Nobody escapes childhood without some crazy buttons and triggers, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great relationship,”John Gottman says.

Tom Bradbury, PhD, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, coined the phrase enduring vulnerabilities for these historical triggers. Certain words and actions might dig up old feelings and provoke a reaction. Make sure you and your partner understand what sets the other off, and avoid those weaknesses.

Circumstances from your past could also prompt what psychologists call projective identification- an example is taking something from your childhood and applying it to your partner. If you had a distant cold parent, for instance, you might assume  your partner is being distant and cold too. Instead of blaming your partner’s character, explain how the actions make you feel and what he or she can do to help you feel better.

I knew a man who was so eat up with his emotional baggage that he ran the gamut from tears to violence. He used braggadocio and alcohol to cover his feelings and built a very high wall believing he it would protect him from emotional pain. One never knew what would trigger his anger and/or violence. While I understood how his background played into his emotions and actions, there was nothing I could do to change it. While I was somewhat of a balm for his pain, he often saw me not as myself but as his mother.

When I met Danny, I was shocked to find that he was very much in touch with his emotions. He would let me know when I hurt his feelings rather than do the “macho” thing of acting like nothing bothered him. I fell so in love with this man! I felt safe with him because I didn’t have to guess about how he was feeling and there was no fear that I would unknowingly touch off a spark that would cause him to physically harm me.

Eventually, Danny grew tired of all the analyzing we did through counseling and discussions. That was when I began learning to lighten up in the realization that both of our lives had been so full of drama that it was stifling our relationship. We both still have things that can trigger a negative response but the truth is that we cannot judge each other with our individual pasts.

Enjoy life with your spouse! Don’t judge him/her based on your past, instead see them for the person you know them to be. Look for the good and give him/her a pass when they exhibit human behaviors. No one has a perfect marriage but we can come darn close.

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Marriage Myths Five

MYTH:  GENDER DIFFERENCES ARE BEHIND YOUR MEGA FIGHTS.

Men aren’t from Mars and women aren’t from Venus; we’re all from Earth. As it turns out, “men are just as in touch with their emotions as women,” Julie Gottman says. “On the other hand, some women are very reluctant to express their negative emotions. So it balances out. There are more similarities than the culture generally believes.

A study in Cognition and Emotion found that when women thought long term about their lives, they reported themselves as more emotional than men. But when participants rated their emotions on a moment-to-moment basis, the gender differences disappeared. Your cultural upbringing and family environment have a much bigger influence on your willingness to express your emotions than your X or Y chromosome, the Gottmans say.

When I was single, I fell in with the old double standard that women were sluts if they slept around but men were expected to. However, I had male friends who informed me that men don’t like to wake up alone either.

While my divorce was in progress, I had a situation with a fellow student. I was so angry but when I talked with the instructor about it, I couldn’t stop crying. What I learned that day is that women who have been taught that to show anger will get you labeled as a bitch will cry rather that exhibit anger. I also had a mother who could not deal with emotion so she always said, “Stop crying or don’t cry.”Then when I looked back at my then marriage, I realized that men are taught that it isn’t “manly” to cry so they exorcise their tears with anger.

Thank God both women and men are slowly “coming out” so to speak. Men are claiming the right to be in touch with their emotions and women are claiming the right to show  anger. I have found that I have been saddled with gender beliefs passed down from generation to generation. Its difficult to blame your parents when they were subjected to the same beliefs.  Sometimes I see the roles exhibited by our parents but more I see Danny and I working together for a common goal.

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Marriage Myths Four

MYTH: TALK THINGS OUT UNTIL YOU AGREE WITH EACH OTHER.

Sixty-nine percent of marriage problems are managed rather than solved, according to John Gottman’s research. “The common lore is that conflict avoidance is a bad thing, but it really works for a lot of people to just ‘agree to disagree,'” he says.

The key is to avoid a “gridlocked conflict,” in which you can’t make headway in a recurring fight. At the bottom of these issues, the Gottmans have found, are core value differences that take couples by surprise. For instance, a fight about finances isn’t just about the cash but about the meaning of power, freedom, and security. You might not be able to find the perfect compromise, but by creating an open dialogue, you can discuss the issue without hurt feelings.

Coming from different cultures but growing up in the same environment, Danny and I are different yet the same. Early in our relationship Danny and I unconsciously developed a method for conflict resolution. We will discuss a subject until we realize that we have hit a wall and neither of us is capable of climbing over it at the time so we drop the subject. Because the issue is unresolved, it will come up at another time and we discuss until we at least understand the others’ feelings or opinions. Sometimes it can take a long period of time and several discussions for us to find common ground. As I see it, we respect our relationship enough that we are willing to table the discussion knowing that eventually we will at least understand where the other is coming from. I think that during the time that the subject is being given time to breathe, each of us has stopped to consider the others’ side so we seem to get a little closer to a resolution each discussion.

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Marriage Myths Two

MYTH:  YOUR PARTNER ISN’T A MIND READER, SO YOU SHOULD TELL HIM OR HER EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT.

Make no mistake: Open communication is an essential tool for a happy relationship. But the Gottmans have found that successful couples also understand each others’ feelings and needs without having to be told all the time. One of John Gottman’s studies found a link between satisfied marriages and a husband’s ability to interpret nonverbal clues.

I am finding this to be true. My husband isn’t my best friend, he is my husband and as such he doesn’t want to hear all the touchy feely stuff I talk to my girlfriends about. He is a cut and dried kind of guy, solutions not problems. I am finding that though he doesn’t verbalize it, he senses what I need or want and acts accordingly. I know that he gets his feelings hurt easily and I am like a wrecking ball moving through life. I have to remind myself that there are two of us in this relationship and what I want or need isn’t always a priority.

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