10 Tips to Marriage Surviving and Thriving – Tip Two

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com” 

 Tip Two:    You don’t have to agree with each other

You don’t have to agree with each other. It is an unrealistic relationship expectation. People in a relationship do not have to have the same opinion on everything. This is very difficult for many people to wrap their minds around. How many times have I heard that “He’s a great guy, but he’s a Democrat/Republican and I’m not.”  I say, “ So what.”  It’s not about agreeing with each other; it’s about supporting each other. 

 You know, I really believe that bringing more couples to live and thrive with each other in love and respect is truly creating world peace one relationship at a time.  And here is where the rubber meets the road. 

It’s easy to get along with people you agree with  

It’s easy to get along with your twin that agrees with you on everything.  It’s a little more difficult to get along with other siblings that understand your history but don’t necessarily share your interpretation of that ‘history’. Friends are easier to get along with because you usually don’t live with them so it’s easier to avoid the issues that you disagree with.

 The challenge is to get along with people you don’t agree with

But a romantic relationship becomes so intimate that you frequently share your thoughts and outlooks that often diverge from each other.  Nathan will talk about government with anarchistic anger.  I’m more pragmatic and more inclined to think in terms of working within the system.   It took me quite a while to ‘allow’ him to have different thoughts from me—especially about the kids. 

 Never mind what other people think of your partner’s opinions

I’ve observed that some of the issue with differences of opinions is connected with our friends and family and being acceptable to them— including  our partner being acceptable to them.  So his opinions, we fear, will make our important people think less of us, ourselves–as if they can’t separate him form us. I have not been above such thinking.  Fortunately, I’ve come to the point that whatever my friends or family think of his rantings, so be it–in fact, he’s not ranting so much these days.  My only caveat for my sweetheart is that I don’t want to be the dumping ground for his harangues. I give him a few minutes time limit, and then he has to talk about a specific plan he has or wrap it up.

 But for sure we don’t agree.  I really think that his different approach to some things is part of his attraction.  I’m sure you’ve heard that the very trait that attracts us to someone is the trait that drives us crazy. ‘Too much of a good thing’, as they say.

 Try this at home

So let your partner be who he is, believing what he does.  And next time, you get into a discussion, simply say, “I see your point of view.”  No arguing, simply respecting his perspective. Try it out and let me know what happens.

My next 3-Step Transform your Relationship Experience tele-class begins April 5

If you are a woman around 30-55, blaming your husband for your unhappiness, but not wanting to divorce—at least not yet, have I got a course for you.  My 3-step Transform your Relationship Experience course starts the first Monday of every month.  The next class begins April 5. To find out details for my next training, click http://budurl.com/tyret.



10 Tips to Marriage Surviving and Thriving-Tip One

"Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com"

Ten Tricks are too many to absorb at one time, so here’s one trick for today.

Stay tuned as I unfold the rest of the ten in the coming days.

 Trick Number One: No name calling. 

No name calling no matter how innocuous. There is no right way to call your beloved a name.  There is no voice sweet enough, there is no joke funny enough to warrant calling your loved one “an idiot”, not even “you cute idiot”, definitely not “you dumb dodo bird.”  And, of course, if you curse it’s one thing, but absolutely NO name calling curses.

 My hubby is about as good natured as they come, although you might not know it if you catch him in the middle of a tirade. However, he has his limits and boundaries.  Very early on, he made it perfectly clear that name calling was a Deal Breaker.  And his flashing eyes was his exclamation point.

I came from a family that weren’t big name callers, but an occasion one could be sacrificed on the alter of clever sarcasm. 

Nathan response. NO NO NO NO.  Since it was clearly a deal breaker; I acquiesced.  Best move I ever made. 

 Even the funniest, cutest name that s/he doesn’t mind (or says s/he doesn’t mind) is progressively demoralizing.  And it will show up somewhere/somewhere else, maybe the very first nail your relationship coffin.

 If you have a hard time breaking the habit, I have a suggestion.  Everytime, he hear yourself about to say “you idiot”, change it to “you fabulous person”.  What’s good about this is that it keeps the integrity of your conversation cadence. In other words, you are used to calling him something. Fine. Simply call him something nice. 

Try it. Make it a game. Include him in the game. Include the kids or not.  Anyway you do it, it will work. And then get back to me and let me know your results so I can be happy for you.

 If you are a woman around 30-55, blaming your husband for your unhappiness, but not wanting to divorce—at least not yet, have I got a course for you.  My 3-step Transform your Relationship Experience course starts the first Monday of every month.  To find out details for my next training, click  http://budurl.com/tyret.  Check it out now.

Challenge of Imperfection in a Relationship

I was having lunch with 2 of my friends, recounting an incident from the night before. 

Here’s the incident: I walked into the den from my office. Nathan was watching television.  I started speaking to him.  He put the TV on mute to listen to me. I told him that my usb hub was broken and I needed a new one. He said okay, he’ll buy me one tomorrow; is that okay?  I stood there silently, thinking in my head that that wasn’t okay.  I wanted to go out tonight and buy one.  I said nothing. 

He looked at me.  I said “And when are we having dinner?”

Communication is MORE than Words

There was nothing in my tone, but there was something in my demeanor, even I’m starting to notice it. He said let me watch the news first, and then I’ll take care of everything.  I stood there.  He said, “I’ll record the news and watch it later.”

Dang, he just scored a Homerun. There is a way I get that I’m only recently acknowledging that Nathan has learned to recognize and respect.  It is the calm before the storm, or the earthquake or the volcanic eruption. For a good natured, happy person, I can really go ‘off’ occasionally.

 Relationship Challenge: When your Spouse knows you Too Well

Nathan used to tell me, “Oh you’re just hungry” or “oh you’re gonna get your period soon.” That’s all I needed to hear. I would go ballistic. After a few times, I finally realized that he was always right about his predictions, and, more importantly, so what. . And he also learned a brilliant behavior. He learned not to say his predictions out loud. He simply attends to me.

He’s getting so good at that, and I’m finally relaxing enough to allow for my own imperfections, as I watch the scenario plays out.

 It was Annoying that He was Right and I was Wrong

This evening, he said, gentle as can be, after pushing ‘record’ on the TV remote control, “Let’s go and see if we can fix the USB hub.” He asked me a bunch of questions about what I had checked.  I had checked. Then he said let’s try the printer that’s connected; if that works then the hub is healthy.  “Turn the printer off and on again.”  I did.  And, of course, then the printer worked. The hub was deemed healthy.  It was annoying that he was right and I was wrong, but, like a fine, expensive wine, I’ve mellowed with age.  It was relieving that I could solve the problem without going out in the rain.

 He Didn’t Gloat

He didn’t gloat or make a fuss. He just announced that he was going to the kitchen to make dinner, and it would be ready very soon.  If I wanted, I could come and set the table.

Eruption averted.  What’s amazing is that now, as I am also a reporter observing dispassionately (a technique I teach in my course), I can  notice the change in my body.  There’s a tension that I had that went away when I was ‘heard’, ‘attended to’, ‘cared for.’

 Being an Imperfect Spouse is Very Scary

 I was relating all of this to my girlfriends.  In the discussion that ensued, I realized that being told how I am, no matter how true and how innocuous, is really saying that I’m not perfect.  And not being perfect is very scary unless you/I am very secure. Otherwise, I think somewhere deep inside, beyond reason and good sense, that I am not good enough, that he will leave me. 

 It is such a relief to have faced that demon and faced him down.  I can be imperfect.  I can let my husband see my imperfection. And I can give him implicit permission to deal with my imperfection in his loving gentle effective way. Wow, and I get taken care of. 

 Guys Love to Fix Things

And the bonus for him is that guys love to fix things, and that’s what he did—big time.

 Let me tell you, when I got married, “being taken care of” was a dirty phrase.  I was independent.  I could take care of myself. Don’t even open the door for me. Life to me was a test and asking for help was cheating. School definitely did not prepare me well for life. It’s finally getting through to me that all of life is relationships, and all of relationships is mutually taking and being taken care of.  And isn’t that simply grand.

 The other amazing thing to me is that so much of my previous anger at him was my own insecure feelings that I displaced to him.  How often is that true in relationships?  Is that true in your relationship?  Are you willing to expose your imperfections, your insecurities, so that your spouse can care for you?  How does it play out in your relationship?  Write me and let me know.  Write here on the blog if you would.  Or you can email me if you prefer.  I’m interested to know your experiences – and your questions.


A Great Relationship in Silhouette

 Some things are simply typical and others are even more typical.  My colleague Jay Aaron asked me for a picture of Nathan and me facing each other.  We could use it on the website.  We could use the silhouette as a logo.  We could do a bunch of things for the website.

When Partners Do What They Do                                                                                                       

After all, with “3-step Transform your Relationship” course, I want to create a more purposeful web presence. And I like the idea of having me and my husband as an example of what’s possible between couples and as an example of what the ImperfectSpouse.com Web site is designed to achieve.

Some Things Are Simply Typical….

Nathan (my hubby), who is an artist photographer, wouldn’t take the time or effort to set up a tripod and take our picture together. Instead he set me up sideways against the white background (the kitchen cabinets) to take my photo, and then he had me take a similar picture of him.

This was Nathan’s way of doing things. Instead of arguing, I just went along. After all, it might work. I’ve learned it’s not about getting what you want; it’s about the cost of getting what you want. When the price is too high, I don’t always want it. It’s not about making him happy; it’s about having a very clear sense of what makes ME happy.  Right now, we were in a good mood, having a good time, and didn’t want to ruin that ambiance. Besides, I wasn’t sure we’d use the pix for a logo anyway.

After we shot the pictures, Nathan went into his studio. Alone with his computer, he did his magic, and voila our two pictures became a single picture of us both looking in the direction of each other.

Actually I thought those pictures came out okay.  It was interesting to see that he had my head ever so slightly higher than his, when I’m definitely shorter than he. He said it was his artistic license.  I took it as a compliment.

…And Other Things Are Even More Typical

The silhouetted profiles didn’t seem to match in emotion. I was laughing (surprise, surprise) and he wasn’t. In retrospect that may be representative.

Nathan does laugh. In fact, he is always saying to me, “Don’t make me laugh.”  He doesn’t really mean don’t make him laugh. He really means to say, “I wasn’t planning on laughing at this moment and I’m taken by surprise.”  But he’s not a smiley kind of guy. Even when he’s being silly, he’s not actually laughing, he’s making silly faces.  I’m the one who’s laughing. That’s always been my job. Keep ‘em laughing. I was the official court jester as a child in my family. That was my role.

The Value of Outside Input

When I sent the pictures to Jay, he pointed out that the combined image didn’t seem to work. It wasn’t that my and Nathan’s emotions didn’t match; it was that we weren’t actually looking into each other’s eyes and relating to one another. Jay said we seemed like two people looking out into space, with someone else’s disembodied head in front of us. Yikes!

The purpose of this image is to give people a sense of the RESULTS of the “Imperfect Spouse System.” If what Jay saw was what other people would see, this first attempt didn’t work. But the idea still might be a good one.

Besides, apparently Nate didn’t save the picture, so I can’t even show it to you.

Control and Change What You Can – Yourself!

Okay, let’s try this again.  While my son was over for dinner with his girl, I had him take pictures of us, but Nathan was insistently silly—passive-aggressively resistant.

Well, it’s part of my own Transform you Relationship Course, that you can’t change or control anyone else, least of all your stubborn husband.  My husband will spend many hours in the day, thinking and doing what will make me happy, but he will not do what he doesn’t want to do, so get over it and move on.

That’s why I’ve changed what I CAN change – myself. I no longer expect Nathan to do what he determines he doesn’t want to do. Heck, we paid an agent to sell his artwork and Nathan wouldn’t do the artwork or use the color palette that the agent requested. We let the agent go; it was a waste of money to try to get Nathan to do anything that he didn’t want to do, no matter what a “good idea” it was.  ( Don’t look; he doesn’t have his site on the web yet. That will come some time this year.)

When you Can’t Get What You Want…

I can control myself and my own expectations and my own reactions and responses, and I do. I laughed and had a good time.  Based on, when you can’t get what you want, you might as well have fun with what you get.

All’s Well That Ends Well

But, get this epilogue….

Later that same evening, he was helping me clean up from dinner with the kids. He looked at me and said that there were two times particularly  (at breakfast and when I’m sleeping) that he looks at me and says to himself that he is the luckiest man in the world to have me, to live with me.

That’s a man for you—drive you crazy then melt your heart.

Postscript

The pictures my son took of Nathan and me together weren’t the best pictures of us. But they’re better than the first attempt, because they show us more like we truly are when we interact with one another.100_0261

I don’t know if we’ll use this second set of pictures for the ImperfectSpouse.com logo, but they’ve already served their purpose. “Proof of concept” for my business, and here they are, already being used on the ImperfectSpouse.com Web site as the catalyst for this article post!

What Do You Think?

Do you have any experience with letting go of your expectations of your partner and allowing him to just be who he is and act like he acts, without triggering you? I’d love to hear your success stories!

And I’d love to know what you think about our photo. Does it bring up a feeling inside you about the kind of relationship that you’d like – the kind of relationship that Nathan and I share? Please leave your comments on this blog post!


Long Relationship; One Mind

He likes it straight. So do I.

He likes it straight. So do I.

So here’s an amazing story about being married for 42 years. It’s one of those amazing stories of long relationships and spouses/partners finishing your sentence for you on steroids.

It was a work day. I was in for the count especially with all the rain. You know, sugar melts in the rain. So I took my shower and put on perfunctory make-up, but I didn’t do my hair. I just scrunched it and let it dry. When I do that it has a small wavy, frizzy look. Normally, I would dry it and straighten it into my characteristic do. I didn’t want to take the time.

Well, I think it was at dinner, Nathan asked me why I wore my hair like that. Hmmmm, I thought to myself, he didn’t say how great my hair looked, and he’s asking why I’m wearing it like this. Hmmmm, he doesn’t like it.” I say, You don’t like it?

He doesn't like it curly, but it's fun for a change.

He doesn't like it curly, but it's fun for a change.

“No,” he says, “I’m just curious. I mean you don’t wear it like this often. I guess I’m used to it the other way.”

I think to myself “He doesn’t like it. Actually, I’m not sure that I do. It’s just a change.”

I answer him, “I didn’t want to take the time to style it. It takes about ½ hour.”

Oh,” he says. “Boy am I glad I’m not a woman. I wouldn’t want to have to do that all the time.” Not exactly a delicate sentence, but hey, I’m teaching a 3-step Transform your Relationship Experience, I know enough not to take silly sentences seriously.

And that was that until the next morning. While I was dressing in the morning I was looking at myself in the mirror, thinking about my mother and what she would think if she saw my hair like this. My mother always told me that I had straight hair. Although my hair was never straight by Asian standards. Asian women have beautiful, really straight hair. My hair was never straight like that. I asked her about it, but she insisted that my hair was straight. She ought to know. And for sure, I never saw my hair scrunched this this as a child, because my mother insisted that every morning and when I washed it that I brush my hair at least 100 strokes. As a result, and wave was brush out of my very fine hair.

I was on the way downstairs to breakfast with all these thoughts in my head, and I called to Nathan already in the kitchen, saying, “It’s because of my mother.” I continue into the kitchen, and he says to me, “You mean your hair.” The man’s a genius. Is that not incredible? He was able to maintain that conversation from the night before. He knew it before he looked at me and saw my hair to remind him.

That’s it. I have nothing more to say.

It’s days later, and I’m still dumbfounded that he kept that conversation going clear enough so that before he saw me (outside of bed) he followed the thread of the conversation.

I’m thinking about how that could happen. I know that I wasn’t offended by his not liking my hair, so there was no heat in the conversation. He was graciously diplomatic about expressing his thoughts. I was comfortable to keep my ‘do’ going another day cause it suited my needs at the moment (meaning I was too busy to bother with it.) I was comfortable knowing that the usual hairdo would be back in time for everyone’s comfort.

I enjoy achieving this overall sense of self-confidence which makes communication with everyone so much easier. It is an interesting dynamic of a long, intimate relationship that eliminates tension. I supposed that’s what created the atmosphere to keep the thought circulating in the house till in was completed in the morning.

And what would my mother say about my husband just nailing that thread of conversation right to her? I’m still laughing, Mom.

Don’t forget to click on Amazing Woman Button up top for fabulous Amazing Womans Day on January 30, 2010.

Also, my next Transform your Relationship Experience Telecourse begins February 1.
You know that it’s designed for women 30-55 unhappy and blaming their husband or partner yet still wanting to make it work. There is still room in the class for you or someone you know that deserves to get happy. Click, click.

Balance your Life and your Relationship

Amazing Woman's Day Logo 2010You know, I’m doing so much to prepare for Marsh Engle’s Amazing Woman’s Day on January 30, 2010 since I’ve been chosen at one of the Amazing Woman’s Alliance Power 100, that I have to make sure that I spend enough time with my hubby.

I’m excited about being a Feminine Leader (as opposed to a Masculine Leader—sorry couldn’t resist it) and will host a table and lead a break-out session.  Being at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills will be fun, and having my step-daughter visiting from New Hampshire and attending is an awesome bonus.

Barnsdall Art Center is a great Hidden Treasure in Los Angeles

Anyway, so I took time this morning to help him with his interest.  Nathan is president of BACSAC, oh help me, I have to remember what that stands for.  Okay, let’s see—Barnsdall Art Center Student  Assoc Committee, or something close to that.

Today was registration for the winter class and 250 people registered for classes.  Some classes, ceramics and jewelry, were maxed out.  Since becoming President, Nathan has a charming paternal interest in the smooth running of all events.  For registration, they have city employees and regular volunteers that do a fine job. And the new treasurer was there pitching in and up to speed as this was her second registration already.

What/Who’s more important at this moment?

It’s one of those situations.  I would have rather been home working on my class worksheets for my Monday 3-steps to Transform your Relationship telecourse.  Check out http://imperfectspouse.com/3-step-telecourse. Or I’d rather be working on my breakout session for Amazing Woman’s Day.

But it would seem inappropriate to be refusing to help my husband (and he doesn’t ask that often) so that I could be writing about great relationships.  The irony was not lost on me so I yielded, waking up at the ridiculously early time of 7am — and even did so reasonably pleasantly.  (Nathan can be so sensitive when I have a snotty attitude.)

Hidden Bonuses of Being Nice to Your Partner

Actually, when I think about it, forcing yourself to spend time with your spouse even when you have important things to do, could be one of the big bonuses of married (or connected) life.  It makes for at least some balance in your life.  Another person in your life, living with you lets you know that they have the right to spend some time with you.  So I know to pull back my focus enough to sure that I get him in the picture. The bonus for me is that I think I become a better person when I’m not so turned into myself, and I get me best thoughts when I’ve changed my mental scenery.

Also, I think in retrospect that I discuss maybe just one thing that is bothering me each car ride or urban walk that with Nate. We

Out to Dinner at Jerry's

Out to Dinner at Jerry's

went out to dinner tonight, because he didn’t feel like cooking.  (Yes, I know that I am truly blest.) So I was saying about having sometimes what seems like the smallest things that roam around in my head until I make a decision. This time it was which eye doctor should  I go to for my next eye exam. (Well, I had a couple of docs in mind and each had positives and negatives.) This helping me make these decisions isn’t something that I would notice as much if I weren’t teaching this course, but bringing it to consciousness, I truly value it.  He’s  learned to be a great sounding board. Thank you Nathan.

Good Deeds are Rewarded

Oh, and great postscript, while I was helping out at registration, a gentleman asked if I were teaching a course. I said,”No.” He said, “Oh, well if you were, I would register for that class.”  Providence rewarding my good deed.


There’s a Place for Apologies in a Great Relationship

I finished the second class of my second class at around 6:30pm.  As you probably know by now, I’m teaching the Three-Step to Transforming your Relationship Experience course starting the first Monday of each month.

The next 3-Step “Transform Your Relationship Experience” TeleCourse begins February 1, 2010. Check it out and register here:

http://ImperfectSpouse.com/3-step-telecourse

I’ll have to apologize later, when I have time

So as I was saying, I was finished my teleclass and I had to cross off the next thing on my ‘to do’ list.  I had to go apologize to Nathan for being in such a snit before the class.  The printer wouldn’t work and I couldn’t print out the script to my class and Nathan was nonchalantly opening the mail and making comments—-that required thoughtful answers.  There was less and less rope and the end on my tether.

After he did get my script printed, I suggested that I needed to concentrate on what I would be teaching FULLY – without distraction or interruption.  I was basically a calm communicator, but definitely Not pleasant.  He did get the hint and left, closing the door after exclaiming that he didn’t do anything wrong and that I shouldn’t be angry at him.  I explained that I wasn’t upset at him; I was just upset. I apologized but with that same edge because I was still agitated. He left; I was relieved.  I couldn’t be nasty if there was no one to be nasty to.

You know one of the things that I teach is that when we women (and men) are unhappy — or tense, or worried—and we blame it on our spouses and our relationships, we are externalizing.  We need to turn that feeling and point it back to ourselves.  So I did know that Nathan was just trying to help, wanting to enjoy my company, and all the negative emotion was completely generated by me—and I can be very good at that.

I took responsibility for my own grouchy behavior Read the rest of this entry »

Transform your Anger; Transform your Relationship Experience

My Husband Turns on a Light – Inside Me

I collapsed onto the bed flat on my back, fully clothed, one leg still hanging over the side of the bed, wrapping the covers over one side of me and the pillow covering my other arm. A quick nap before my husband Nathan got home. Snooze, snooze, snooze.

Then from some faraway place a faint “Hellooo”. Then, nothing. Then tromp, tromp up the steps; then quiet; then a flash of light. Read the rest of this entry »

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