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Archive for November, 2017

Sometimes I’ll ask a couple I’m seeing in therapy to do the following exercise.

  1. The husband and wife stand about six feet apart.
  2. The husband walks slowly toward his wife until he reaches a point where he no longer feels comfortable. Some men stop about three feet from their wives. Others stop at 30 inches and still others at 27.
  3. The wife now moves toward her husband or steps back from him, depending on how much space she feels she needs between the two of them.

The purpose of the exercise is to help a couple understand that each has an invisible boundary line. If the husband moves into the wife’s space, she’ll immediately step back to reestablish her boundary. Everyone has a different physical comfort level.

It’s a fascinating phenomenon to observe in yourself as well as others. Walk up to anyone and generally you’ll see the person step back from you or move toward you. If the person steps back, you may move closer. If the person steps forward, you may move back. Usually the two of you will move around until you establish a comfortable space between you.

Just as people have invisible physical boundaries, they also have unspoken psychological ones. When these are crossed, there is discomfort and sometimes even an argument.

One psychological boundary people have is their tolerance for talking. Some people like to talk. Others like quiet.

If a wife likes to talk and her husband likes quiet, her talking may create a sense of uneasiness in him. His psychological space is being invaded. He may address his discomfort by walking out of the room or tuning out.

The wife, on the other hand, may feel anxious when her mate doesn’t talk. One might say her psychological space has been invaded by his silence. She may address her uneasiness by picking a fight to get the verbal energy flowing.

Household noises often cross people’s psychological boundaries. One spouse may like the TV volume higher than the other. When the volume is up, one person feels intruded upon, but when it’s down, the other is uncomfortable.

One couple has trouble when the husband watches sporting events, particularly football. His wife becomes anxious and distressed. The continual talking of the announcer and the roar of the crowd impinge so much on her psychological boundary that she feels a need to run away and leave the house.

Another psychological boundary involves how much information spouses believe they should share with others about their relationship. The husband may see no problem with telling his best friend that they’re having financial difficulties. But the wife may think that discussing their problems with others is a betrayal of the relationship.

A couple may have different psychological boundaries when it comes to the number of things they like to have around the house. Some people feel most comfortable with many collectibles sitting around. Others want absolutely clean surfaces and a lot of knick-knacks create a sense of discomfort.

Think of yourself and your mate. How far apart are your psychological boundaries for talking? Noise level? Sharing information with others? Items around the house?

Conflict frequently results when couples fail to respect each other’s psychological boundaries. Understanding your boundaries as well as your mate’s will make you more tolerant and reduce stress between the two of you.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”.
Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Adolescence isn’t all fun and games.

When we adults see teenagers goofing off at the mall or jumping around in a car to the latest beat, we often think they don’t have anything to worry about. It’s one carefree, fun-filled adventure after another.

Once a woman told me about a prayer service that took place at St. Pius X High School. The theme of the service was a time of remembrance. At church the adolescents were invited to ask the Lord to remember a person dear to them who had died.

Here are some of the remembrances offered by teenagers.

Matt: My mother died when I was a freshman. I wish she was still alive.

Neil: My sister died when I was an infant. I wish I could have known her.

Chrissy: My brother would have celebrated his twelfth birthday. I would have enjoyed celebrating it with him.

Pete: My brother died when I was thirteen. I wish I would have had more time to get to know him better.

Regina: My father passed away five years ago. I wish he was here to share special moments in my life. I miss him very much.

Ellen: My grandma was a wonderful person. She has many who loved her and miss her.

Mark: Last spring my friend’s father died in a car accident. I had gotten to become good friends with him.

Alisyn: My grandmother died the day after my fourteenth birthday. I am told I am just like her at this age, but how do I know? I wish her well.

Jeff: My uncle died last year. I miss playing sports with him.

Libbi: My dad died when I was two. I should have been a Daddy’s girl. I miss him.

Jason: My brother died on May 12th two years ago. I am thankful for the time I spent with him. It was the most memorable six years of my life.

Tommy: A friend of mine, Allen, died last April. I miss him a lot and wish he was still here.

Erin: My grandmothers died six months apart during my sophomore year. I miss the good times with them.

Josh: My brother was killed when he was seven. I wish he was here so we could talk. I miss him.

Ann: My brother died 5 months ago. He was a good brother and a good person. I miss him.

Ana: A close friend, Sharna, died on December 28th from a drunk driver. Please pray for her and her family.

Andy: My grandfather died before I was born. I wish I could have met him just once. 

When you see teenagers messing around at the mall and yelling louder than they should, soften your gaze a little. And remember, their lives are not as carefree as you might think.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”. Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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All my life I have been a dog person. My first recollection of having a dog was when I was a small child. The dog’s name was Bum. He came by that name honestly because he was always on the run. He would jump the fence and away he would go. The only other thing I remember about that dog was that my mom loved him dearly. So I did too. Following Bum, my family had a succession of dogs…Candy, Lady, Boots.

When I was 5 or 6 years old, a stray cat appeared at the door. It was winter, so my parents broke down and took him in. He managed to outstay his welcome in less that 48 hours. I still remember my mom saying, “I hate cats. They are everywhere. They get in your pots and pans. They get on the kitchen table. Out with the cat.” My mom hated cats. So I did too.

When I grew up and had my own family, we got a dog, Fluffy. Then we got Barker. Across town my parents also had two dogs and my sister had two dogs. You might say we were confirmed dog lovers.

Then something happened. Our daughter requested a cat. She was a mere three years old. “Now how could a little girl who is surrounded by dogs and dog lovers want a cat?” I thought. Every birthday and holiday thereafter she pressed for a cat. Every birthday and holiday I resisted until one day my love for my daughter overcame me and I said, “Oh alright. We’ll get a cat.”

That was some years ago. We then got two cats, Cornbread and Emily. When I walked in the door, Cornbread was there waiting. Then along would come Emily for some attention. I loved to watch them play. Cornbread swished his tail back and forth, back and forth, while Emily tried to catch it. They would also chase each other around the house at breakneck speed. As I watched them, I frequently would feel a smile on my face. You might say, I fell in love with cats.

Which leads me to a question I’m often asked. Can people really change?
The answer – YES.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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I know an accountant whose house was about paid for. His wife wanted to take the money they had in savings and finish paying off the house. He didn’t want to do this because the money he had in savings was making more interest than he was losing on interest payments. Even after seeing the figures in black and white, his wife still wanted the house free and clear. She didn’t want to take any chances that she might lose their home.

Even though it did not make sense economically, the fellow paid off the house.

This man was a real friend to his wife. Despite the money he lost, he took care of her emotionally.

Take the following test to determine if you are a true friend to your partner. Answer each statement with a yes or no.

1. You make a point of asking how a meeting or an appointment went that you know your mate was concerned about.
2. You remember to say “good luck” when your mate is about to embark on a difficult task such as confronting a co-worker, making a presentation, or talking to your child’s teacher.
3. When your mate asks you to do a favor, you usually say yes without hesitating and needing to think about the request.

4.​ You take responsibility for the times when you have acted badly and you apologize.
5.​ You volunteer to do things for your mate such as picking up a new alarm clock, returning a shirt, or taking the car in for an inspection.
6. If your partner has a headache in the morning, you make a point of calling later in the day to see how he or she is feeling.
7. When your partner suggests going for a ride, taking in a movie, or going out for dinner   you usually respond to these suggestions with enthusiasm.
8. You are conscious of how much money you spend on yourself and do not spend more than your fair share.
9. When your mate is ill, you comfort and take care of him or her, and you do not get angry or pout because you  have to change plans or take more responsibility in the house.
10.​ You feel joy when your partner receives recognition outside the home and you suggest a celebration. You feel some sadness when things go badly for your mate, and you offer comfort.
11.​ You are careful how much you criticize your mate or make helpful suggestions as to how he or she might do things differently.

What’s your score?

If you have nine or more yes answers, you know how to give emotional support to your mate and your partner has a good friend in you.

If you have less than nine yes answers, you’re not particularly attuned to your partner’s emotional needs. Work on it.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”.
Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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