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Archive for May, 2014

Sometimes when you want your spouse to be more of a conversationalist, it is your questions and responses that may get the ball rolling.

How do you get your spouse to start talking, open up, communicate?

Many couples find that after they’ve lived together for some years they feel they have little to talk about or share. It’s not that they don’t want to talk to each other. They just don’t know how to start the ball rolling or they’re out of practice.

Here are a few suggestions to get those lines of communication flowing:

When your mate says something, come back with a comment that indicates you’ve heard him and you support his thinking. For example, if he says, “This would be a great day for golf,” you might respond with, “Yes, it’s beautiful out.” If he says, “I think I need to get some mulch for the flower beds,” you might say, “That sounds good. Do you want any help?”

If your spouse starts talking about a particular issue or problem, stop what you’re doing, look at him, and listen. Nod. Make comments such as, “Oh… that’s great… how terrible… unbelievable.” Also make “reflective listening” remarks that show you are listening and trying to understand. “Sounds as though you were feeling overwhelmed.” “I guess you were really disappointed.” It sounds like you took the bull by the horns.”

Instead of hitting your mate day in and day out with that tired old question, “How was your day?” say, “Tell me what you did today.” It’s likely you’ll get much more information with the second tactic.

When trying to reopen lines of communication, be extra careful not to be critical, or move into a problem-solving mode, or take over the conversation. These responses will usually stop the discussion. I find that most people will talk if they feel supported.

Be aware, too, of what topics of conversation you bring to the table. If your topics are generally about housekeeping and scheduling issues such as what bills need to be paid or who is going to take Tommy to swim practice, you’re not adding to the quality of your conversations.

Topics you might discuss include a health or political article you read in a magazine or an interview you heard on the radio. You might also share the story line of a book you’re reading. When I’m busy writing a book, I have few spare moments to read. During these times my husband will tell me about the novel he’s currently reading.

Be conscious also of how much self-disclosing you do. Do you share with your mate when something goes wrong on the job? Do you tell her when something exciting happens? Sharing the little pleasures and sadnesses of your life invites your mate to do the same.

Another thing to be aware of is where and when might you have your best conversations. Some couples talk over that second cup of coffee after dinner. Others do better when they walk together. Some save their talk time for when they’re in bed. I know one couple who telephone each other several times a day to share bits and pieces of their lives. Try to establish several times and places for talking with your mate.

With determination and effort, you can reopen those lines of communication in less than two weeks. This mutual openness will make your marriage stronger, more interesting and fun.

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When you are unable to get a good night’s sleep there is more than one solution to help overcome this issue.

How did you sleep last night?

One of the most frustrating problems that many people face is how to get a good night’s sleep. Some people can’t seem to fall asleep, while others fall asleep quickly but wake up two or three hours later and can’t get back to sleep.

If you don’t have a thyroid problem, sleep apnea, epilepsy, or a substance abuse problem, and if you’re not on any medication that distrupts sleep, you may be suffering from stress-induced insomnia.

Bill has been having trouble sleeping since he learned six months ago that his company is considering relocating. Because his wife has a good position with her company and his children are involved in their schools, he’s not sure what he’ll do if the company moves.

Bill can go to sleep, but several hours later he’s wide awake. He has, with some success, tackled the problem. When he wakes up, he doesn’t let his mind think of anything. Instead he concentrates on his breathing, slowly breathing in and out. By focusing on his breathing, Bill can sometimes fall back to sleep. If sleep alludes him, he gets up and reads. Around 5 AM he goes back to bed and finds that he can catch a few more hours of sleep before the alarm sounds. By having such a plan, Bill keeps his stress about not sleeping under control.

Sandy also has trouble sleeping. She, like Bill, is able to fall asleep. But a short time later she’s awake reviewing her upcoming divorce and thinking about how her husband left her for his secretary. No matter what she does, she can’t sleep. Sandy’s problem calls for a trip to her doctor to see if an antidepressant medication would help.

Marie thinks her insomnia is due to having too much to do. She works a full-time job and has three children under age seven. She rarely falls in bed before midnight, and then she’s so tired she can’t get to sleep. For Marie I’ve suggested not doing any chores after 10 PM. No matter what. By 11 she’s in bed with a magazine and cup of hot milk and by 11:30 she turns off the light. This routine is starting to pay off; Marie is reporting less trouble getting to sleep.

Additional ideas for getting a better night’s sleep:

-Exercise daily if possible. Some people who have sleep problems find it more helpful to exercise before evening sets in.

-Get up about the same time each morning. Even if you’re dragging from no sleep the night before, stay on schedule.

-Stay away from caffeine after lunch and alcohol after dinner. Caffeine interferes with getting to sleep and alcohol interferes with staying asleep.

-Avoid naps. This only throws your sleep pattern off further.

-Keep your room cool and covers light. When people get too warm, they wake up.

-Try a white-noise machine or a fan. Both help muffle barking dogs and late night honking horns.

-If you’re one of those people who always eats before going to bed, try a bowl of cereal, a glass of skim milk, toast with peanut butter or another carbohydrate.

-Never start a project like working on your tax returns or rearranging a closet an hour before bed.

-Don’t begin discussing important life issues like money, moving, or remodeling before bedtime. Save these talks for the daylight hours.

-Develop a routine — a bath, a bowl of cereal, brushing and flossing teeth, prayers, a half-hour with your favorite book, and lights out.

 

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Sometimes being a Procrastinator keeps you in charge of ┬ásituations, but it won’t be to your advantage.

George came to see me for therapy because he wanted to know why he’s a procrastinator.

I started by asking in what areas he procrastinates. He smiled and said, “In most areas.”

George procrastinates at work, he doesn’t turn in reports on time. He doesn’t fill out his expense reports. Once the company he was working for withheld his paycheck until he got all his cases up-to-date.

George procrastinates at home. He promises to do chores and then puts them off. He waits until the last minute to pay the bills.

I asked George if he had any idea why he procrastinates.

He said, “I always have. When I was in grade school, my mother had to push me to do my homework. In high school it was the same. I always waited until the last minute.”

I asked George if he saw how procrastinating might be serving him?

He thought one advantage was the rush he got when he was up against it and absolutely had to get something done.

“Any other advantages,” I wondered?

He couldn’t think of any.

I pointed out a few:

-When George procrastinates and someone else is waiting for him to do something, he has their attention. This attention may come in the form of nagging and nudging, but it’s attention.

-He has control since others often can’t complete their work until he does the task he’s putting off.

-He can play good guy/bad guy which adds to the drama of his life. When he doesn’t do something he knows he needs to do, he takes the bad guy role. When he performs the task, he becomes the good guy.

-He can get out of doing undesirable tasks.

-He fears failure. If he puts a task off, he doesn’t really have to test his ability to succeed.

I could go on listing the whys of procrastinating, I told George, but hunting for the whys can be another form of procrastinating.

Instead, I suggested we make a list of things George is currently putting off, look at them as problems to be tackled, and do some problem solving.

Concerning his incompleted reports, George decided to get to work a half-hour earlier each morning and do all necessary paperwork before he allows himself to have his second cup of coffee or return any telephone calls, two things he enjoys doing.

With regard to paying the bills at home, George decided to let his wife take over the job. She has wanted to pay the bills because then the bills would get paid on time, but George has always assumed he should be the one to pay them.

Concerning cleaning out the garage and removing the leaves from the gutters, George agreed to hire someone within the next week. He promised not to put off the hiring. In fact, he said, “It would be a pleasure to farm these chores out.”

Concerning starting an exercise program, George decided to bag the idea until next year, at which time he’ll reevaluate.

I suggested that instead of thinking of himself as a procrastinator, he look at the task he’s putting off as a problem that needs to be solved. He should then figure out two or three ways of tackling it.

P.S I’ve seen George one time since his initial visit and he’s no longer putting off what he needs to do.

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