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Danger… Your relationship may be in trouble if:

The two of you bicker all the time.
When couples bicker, they exchange lots of negative strokes. Over the years they remember these barbs and store them inside until they build a wall between themselves. This is called the Wall of Trivia. Once this wall is in place, couples stop feeling close and stop talking intimately.

You do not take time out to play just the two of you.
Many couples know the importance of play time with the children. They’re off to the pumpkin patch and the Zoo and soccer games. What they don’t do is take time for each other to go for a ride, to go out for breakfast.

You no longer have an active sex life.
It’s easy to get out of the habit of having sex. As one man said, “We have to pay our bills and have clean underwear. And there’s only so much time.” What sex does is renew the commitment – the two of you are a couple.

You are not sharing household chores.
Some individuals like to cook and clean. And some enjoy doing windows. But rare is the individual who wants to do it all, or who has time to do it all. Couples need to do an inventory of who does what and work toward sharing household chores.

You don’t agree on how to parent the children.
If you tell your son he may not have the car Friday night, and your mate comes along and tells him he can have it, your mate is sending the loud message that what you say isn’t important. You don’t count. He also sets up a good guy/bad guy relationship between you.

You do not have equal access to the finances.
Most often, one partner makes more money than the other. Unfortunately the one who brings in the bacon, or most of it, sometimes feels that he should be the one to spend more. This thinking causes a one-up one-down relationship, which translates into all kinds of bad behaviors.

You don’t respect or value your mate.
If you don’t value your mate, you’re not going to want to spend time with her or listen to her opinions and ideas. Once someone is of little value, that person becomes a throw-away.

One of you drinks too much.
When a mate drinks too much, he’s not intellectually or emotionally available, so he’s hardly a companion. Too much drinking also leads to the drinking spouse justifying rude and inappropriate behaviors.

One of you has a bad temper.
It’s OK to get angry. But if you’re always spouting off about what you don’t like, and always trying to control your mate with your angry feelings, aren’t you really saying that you matter more?

Neither of you can apologize.
Apologies say, “I stepped on your feelings and I won’t do that again.” If you can’t apologize, you’re pretending you’re perfect. It’s a drag living with someone who thinks she never makes a mistake.

You never have a disagreement.
No two people are alike. When two people agree on everything, someone is not being true to himself or herself. When two people see the world from slightly different perspectives, this brings energy and even disagreement sometimes. This is healthy.

You don’t have common goals for the future.
Where do you want to be in five years? In 10 years? Do you have a financial plan for the children’s education, your retirement? What are your goals as a couple? When couples are in trouble, they don’t think about the future.

One of you is unfaithful.
Affairs always hurt a marriage. Most marriages, however, can survive an affair, particularly if both mates do the repair work after it ends. But if one mate continues to be unfaithful it’s a marriage in name only.

You’re sarcastic and put each other down.
Every time you are sarcastic or critical, you drive a wedge in the marriage. If you’re sarcastic or critical five times a week, in 10 years you’ve chalked up 2,600 hits against your mate. Would you stay with a friend that hurt you 2,600 times?

The two of you don’t exchange compliments and thank yous.
It’s easy to forget to say, “Thanks for picking up my shirts from the cleaners,” “Thanks for taking care of that wedding gift,” “Thanks for putting in a new furnace filter.” Not recognizing what your mate does translates into taking advantage of your mate’s good will.

Most couples start out intending to stay married. If you hope to continue your married life, heed the warning signs.

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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Someone I see in therapy says to me, I’m dating a guy who doesn’t make much money. I have to admit that I like “things.” So should I break it off and look for someone with a higher salary?

Let me ask you this girlfriend. Are you looking for a meal ticket? If you want and enjoy things as most of us do, no problem. Focus on how you’re going to make more money however, instead of how much money the guy makes. This new focus will allow you to evaluate this new man in more appropriate terms, such as:

Do you have the same interests?
Do the two of you laugh together?
Is he a good sex partner?
Does he demonstrate integrity?
Is he honest?
Does he show empathy?

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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Because everyone is sensitive to criticism and most everyone gets criticized from time to time, here are 3 questions that you might ask yourself the next time someone criticizes you.

1. Is the criticism I’m receiving valid?
2. Is it partially valid?
3. What might I have done differently in this situation to have avoided the criticism?

By asking these three questions of yourself, you put the criticism leveled against you in perspective. If you find the criticism is valid or partially valid, change your behavior.

If after careful consideration, you find no validity in what was said, you might want to keep this third century B.C. story which was recounted by Will Durant in The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage in mind.

‘When a simpleton abused him, Buddha listened in silence; but when the man had finished, Buddha asked him: ‘Son, if a man declined to accept a present made to him, to whom would it belong?’ The man answered: “To him who offered it.’

‘My son,’ said Buddha, ‘I decline to accept your abuse and request you keep it for yourself.'”

Having troubles with controlling your criticism of others? Look for Doris’ ebook: How to Stop the Criticism!

Also, 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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Why are some people so indecisive, is there a hidden agenda?
No matter what, some people can’t seem to make a decision. What’s even more exasperating is that when you try to make the decision, they won’t let you.

For example: Sue asks me the other day, “Where would you like to go for lunch?”
I say, “It’s up to you.”
She says, “No. This is your day. You decide.”
I answer, “OK, how about the deli?”
She says, “I was thinking about something nicer.”
I say, “Well, how about Benos?”
She says, “It’ll probably be a long wait at this time of the day.”
I say, “That’s OK. We’ll wait and talk.”
She says, “It really may take awhile.”
I now know she has somewhere else in mind. So I ask, “Do you have another suggestion?”
She says, “You decide.”
At this point I feel like throwing myself down on the sidewalk and having a temper tantrum.

Here’s another example of an “I-won’t-make-a-decision-and-you-can’t-make-me” scenario.
My friend says, “What color do you think I should paint my bedroom?”
I say, “What color have you been thinking about?”
She says, “I really don’t know. What do you suggest?”
I say, “How about an indigo red or khaki?”
She says, “I don’t like those colors.”
I say, “Maybe something more subtle, perhaps beige with a rose tint.” (I’ve watched a lot of HGTV.)
She says, “I don’t think so.”
What I want to say to her is, “I’ll run through the entire color wheel, and when I hit on the color you’re thinking of, you tell me.”

People who play this game have two agendas although even they may not be aware of it. They want to look accommodating, so they ask your opinion. But they also want to make the decision, so they won’t take your suggestion. In this situation play three strikes and you’re out. Give three suggestions and then say, “I’m out of ideas.”

Apply this same method when dealing with your child who comes to you moaning because he or she can’t figure out what to do.

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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A Passive Taker is a person who floats along in life with seemingly little purpose and few goals. He does not focus on what he wants, likes or dislikes. Nor does he focus on his mate’s wants, likes or dislikes. His lot in life is to accept what’s happening to him at the time.

Most people see the Passive Taker as a nice guy. He rarely gets angry. He can pretty much be counted on to go along with anything. He makes few decisions for himself.

For example, Passive Taker and his wife are at a restaurant. As they are ordering, the waiter asks Passive Taker what kind of salad dressing he would like. Passive Taker looks at his wife to choose his salad dressing. I use the pronoun he because most Passive Takers are men, although occasionally a woman will fall into this category.

As children, Passive Takers were taught to expect others to take care of them. They in turn were expected to do what they were told. With their wants and needs consistently being met, they didn’t learn to plan ahead or think about what they wanted, nor did they learn to focus on anyone else’s needs. Like the Caretaker, they are a product of their upbringing.

Passive Takers do not initiate or organize in their relationship. They complacently go along with the program, but they rarely take charge or plan it. They are willing to help out, but chores must be assigned. They do not compliment their mate, nor do they criticize.

I want to emphasize that a Passive Taker does not think in the same way that other people think. He does not come home and think, “I’m going to watch a football game tonight.” He simply comes home, switches on the television, sees that a football game is in progress, and settles in to watch it.

What his wife and children happen to be doing at the time does not cross his mind. He simply does not think about what other people are doing or how others are feeling.

Now let’s take the Passive Taker test. For every yes answer, give yourself one point. If you know you’re not a Passive Taker but you have a suspicion that the person you are living with is, take the test with him or her in mind.

You will help out if assigned a task, like setting the table or putting away the suitcases, but you rarely take the initiative and do these things yourself, or start a project on your own.

You are content doing almost anything, spend a good deal of your free time alone, live in your own world and do not have a need to interact with others.

You rarely ask your mate to do something for you. You make few demands.

You do not think in advance or plan ahead in your marriage. You do not shop more than a day or two ahead for birthdays, or call ahead for reservations, or think in terms of the future.

You are not attuned to the wants or feelings of your mate.

You rarely give compliments or pats on the back, nor do you “see” what your mate has done for you.

You are rarely critical of yourself or your mate.

You are viewed by the outside world as nice, easygoing and content.

You are often accused by your mate of being selfish and lazy and are told, “You just don’t care.”

You are non-competitive and prefer to let others take the lead.
If you have 8 or more yeses, you are definitely a Passive Taker. If you have 5, 6 or 7 yeses, you sometimes exhibit Passive Taker behaviors, but you do not operate from a Passive Taker frame of reference.

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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Are you the passive agressive one in your relationship? Take the test below to find out!

The Passive Aggressive’s main focus in life is himself or herself. For convenience, I’ll use “he.” However, there are also many women who are Passive Aggressive. The Passive Aggressive does what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. He’s often late, he procrastinates, he tells you he will do something and then he doesn’t. He could get the job done faster and better, but he doesn’t.

Often a person will ask me, “How can someone be passive and aggressive at the same time?” Here’s an example.

Suppose I tell you I’ll meet you at 11:00, and I don’t show up until 11:30 because I decided to watch the end of the ball game. In addition, I don’t even bother to call, nor do I apologize when I see you. My behavior is angry. It discounts you. I’m not jumping up and down having a temper tantrum, but my behavior is certainly aggressive toward you. However, I am expressing the aggression passively. That’s why it’s called passive aggressive behavior.

In addition to being passively aggressive, many Passive Aggressives have very nasty tempers. Remember: it’s standard operating procedure for Passive Aggressives to do as they please. So if you confront them about their behavior, they often turn the confrontation around, and confront you on your behavior. Except their confrontation is usually more angry. As a result, it is you who backs down. And once again, they get their way. What is confusing at first about this personality type is that Passive Aggressives are often very caring and sensitive people. In fact, many of them will go out of their way to do nice things for you. The catch is, they take care of you when it’s convenient for them, and in their own way.

For example, Passive Aggressive buys you a beautiful wool sweater for your birthday. You’re allergic to wool. Or Passive Aggressive knows that you hate cats. He brings one home for the kids. Perhaps the best description of a Passive Aggressive is that he does what he damn well pleases. Take the following test, check off each item that applies to you or your mate.

You do what you want to do, when you want to do it, and how you want to do it. You set your own standards of behavior as opposed to following the standards of others.

You resist expectations of others by dawdling and forgetting. You hate it when others set deadlines for you, and often you do not meet them.

You get angry when crossed. You have a nasty temper and frequently use it to try to make your point, intimidate, and get your own way.

You think others have no right to tell you what to do, and often when you are told what to do, you respond in a defensive and hostile manner.

You rarely find yourself in a position where you think you have made a mistake and you need to apologize.

You often do not do what you have promised, and your mate is always on you about what you haven’t done.

You are unsure of yourself, and internally you feel powerless, and dependent and lack self-confidence.

You defend your behavior with such excuses as “I forgot,” “It never occurred to me,” or “I’m sorry you think that of me.” You feel innocent when you offer these excuses, and when you apologize it is usually a maneuver to get your mate off your case. Your apologies do not contain a promise to change.

You don’t think about how your behavior affects others. You simply do not take others’ wants and feelings into account if you want to do something.

You see yourself as basically a nice person and can’t understand why others often feel irritated and angry with you.

If you have checked off 8 or more items, you are definitely a Passive Aggressive. If you have checked off 5, 6, or 7 items, you sometimes have passive aggressive behavior, but you are not a passive aggressive personality.

If you are a passive aggressor, you might want to check out my ebook, “How to Take Control of Your Anger, on Amazon

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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My wife continually bad-mouths my parents who we hardly ever see and live 500 miles away. Needless to say I don’t feel very close to my wife when she does this. How can I get her to stop?

Tell her you love her but you also love your folks. Each time she bad-mouths them, she chips away at your good feelings for her. In other words, she’s killing your love for her by bad-mouthing your folks. Or as the saying goes, “Death by a thousand duck bites.”

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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Any relationship should support equity between partners: give and take.

A man told me in therapy the other day that he was bad because he was too good. He has a bad habit of doing too much in a relationship. Consequently, his relationships end because the women feel smothered and eventually pull away.

What does he do that ultimately causes every relationship to terminate? Here’s a partial list he made for me entitled “How to Smother.”

Make sure you hug her the minute you see her.
No matter what she’s doing, come up behind her and rub her back.
When she’s fixing dinner or doing a project around the house, offer to do it for her.
Just before you leave from work, call her to say good morning. When you leave for lunch, call and tell her where you’re going. When you leave work at night, check to see if she wants to get together even though you know she planned to be with her sister that evening.
Offer to pick up lumber to fix her deck and buy shrubs for the front of her house.
Tell her you forgive her for being late even before she apologizes.
Be available anytime she wants to get together and always drop your plans.
Arrange to bring all your bills and paper work to her house so you can both work in the same room.
Encourage her to pursue exercising and reading while you clean her house.
Keep hanging around her house even though she has a date with her girlfriends hoping they’ll invite you to go to dinner with them.
While she’s using the bathroom, make the bed and lay out her clothes. Press her skirt and blouse if it’s wrinkled.
Get up when eating to get all the unexpected little extras during the meal.
Insist that she choose the restaurant, movie or activity of her liking.
If this is you, stop. Remember, if a relationship is going to make it, one essential ingredient is equity between the partners; that is, a give and take in the relationship.

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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Here’s a far too familiar family drama.

Bobby comes in from playing and heads for the refrigerator. He stands in front of it, surveys its contents and grumbles, “We never have anything to eat.”

Mom, already frustrated from cleaning up the four messes that Bobby made earlier that day, says sarcastically, “Then what do you call the stuff you’ve been shoveling in your mouth? And close that refrigerator. It’s not an air conditioner, you know.”

Dad sitting at the kitchen table, gets into the act and says, “He’s a growing boy dear, what do you expect?”

Bobby responds, “Yeah, Mom, I’m a growing boy.”

Mom gives Dad the evil eye and says, “And who invited you into the conversation?”

Dad answers, “Just trying to be helpful, dear.”

Now Bobby looks at both parents and says, “I hope you two are not going to fight the whole night.”

“That will be enough,” Dad replies.

Within two minutes, this very typical family has traveled the triangle and everyone has had his or her turn at being a Rescuer, a Victim and a Persecutor.

How did it all start?

When Bobby left four messes in the kitchen and didn’t clean up after himself, Bobby became a Persecutor. When Mom took responsibility and cleaned up the messes, Mom became a Rescuer and defined her son as Victim.

A persecutor on the triangle is a person whose behavior is hostile and angry. The Persecutor usually “gets” people with nasty remarks, sarcasm, and hostile behavior, but denies or discounts the fact that he’s angry.

A Rescuer is a person who takes care of people who don’t need to be helped or who takes care of people when they don’t want to be helped. In both instances, the Rescuer discounts the other person’s ability to take care of himself.

A Victim is a person who acts as though he can’t do something for himself when, in fact, the opposite is true. The Victim discounts his ability to take care of himself.

When Bobby walked into the kitchen and grumbled, “There isn’t anything to eat,” Bobby became the Persecutor and Mom moved from Rescuer to Victim.

Mom, however, made a fast shift from Victim to Persecutor when she commented about the food that Bobby has been shoveling into his mouth and the fact that the refrigerator was not a cooling system.

Dad hopped on the triangle with his comment, “He’s a growing boy.” Dad became Bobby’s Rescuer and Mom’s Persecutor.

Bobby, taking permission from Dad to persecute Mom, responded to the invitation with his own persecution: “Yeah, I’m just a growing boy.”

Mom, unwilling to stay Victim, came up swinging with, “Who invited you into this conversation?”

And on, and on . . . Which, of course, leads to the moral of my story: With so much drama in the family, who needs television?

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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Certain behaviors can kill friendship before it even begins.

Many people are looking for a new friend. Yet month after month goes by, and they find few people to have a relationship with. Often they miss potential friendships because they kill the relationship with their own neediness.
Here’s an example:

Margie moves here from another area. She wants to make new friends. She goes to exercise class and meets Susan. Margie finds Susan likable and thinks that maybe she has found a friend. As she leaves exercise class, she says, “See you again.”

The following evening, Margie pulls up in front of the gym and she finds Susan waiting for her. Susan gets out of her car, comes over to Margie and asks if she’s ready to exercise. Margie feels a little uncomfortable and somewhat intruded upon, but she shrugs it off and goes to class.

After class, Susan presses Margie to go have a bite to eat. Margie declines. Then Susan presses Margie for a time when they can work out together. Margie is noncommittal and says that she’ll probably work out over the weekend, but she’s not sure of her schedule.

The next day Susan calls Margie at work and asks if she’s made plans for the weekend.

Although Margie would have liked to make a friend, Susan came on so desperately that Margie backed away.

If you recognize yourself in the above example, start attuning yourself to the other person. Don’t keep suggesting one date after another when you’ve been turned down for a date. Don’t hold on when it looks as though the other person wants to call it quits for the day or wants to get off the telephone. Let it rest until the other person suggests something. Decide that you won’t invite the other person to do something with you until he or she invites you to do something. One overture for one overture. The less desperate you appear and behave, the more friends you’re likely to acquire.

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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