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Why it’s so difficult to end a relationship.

Dear Doris,

Three months ago my girlfriend cheated on me with someone from her workplace. When I found out the next day (from another source) I ended our relationship. Prior to this point I was completely infatuated with her. I was prepared to marry and start a family and I had no idea that things were not as wonderful between us as I thought. She immediately entered a relationship with this person and a week later was telling him she loved him.

I know this because she continued to talk to me and told me these things.

Over the past few months she would call about once a week and describe how terrible things were with this guy and how they were always fighting. She now says she wants to leave him, to get out of her relationship with him, but she’s worried about hurting him.

It’s only been three months and I still have every strong feelings for her. I guess I’m writing this to get some advice on how I should proceed. I would like to have a relationship with her but how would I know if she really wanted it or if I was just a reason to break up with the other guy?

This woman sounds like she needs to grow up. As for you, once you love someone it’s hard to simply turn off your love. It takes time to turn down feelings and let go of your hopes and dreams of the future with this particular person, even if that person has stepped on your heart. My advice is tough it out — get support from your friends, and then start looking for a new 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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Why people complain, why it’s bad, and how to stop it.
Complaining is a real drag in any relationship.

Have you been grumbling, complaining, and whining to someone recently about your job or an unfulfilling relationship with a mate or friend? Why are you doing this?

Chances are your complaining is a way to make contact with the person you’re complaining to. If you can get the person to listen, even briefly, you get some attention. And this attention is important because it makes you feel better about yourself. It helps you forget about those job difficulties or the other people in your life who have been letting you down.

At the same time, too much complaining can be destructive.

If you complain too much about your job, others will start to see you as passive or unmotivated because you’re not doing anything to correct it. If it’s really that bad, think about a transfer to another department. Start checking the online job search sites. Beef up your skills. Do something to make your situation better. Act instead of fussing.

A constant stream of complaints about your mate also gets old after awhile. Work to fix the problem. Insist on seeing a marriage counselor together or go yourself. If you change the way you relate to your partner, it’s likely that he’ll change. If you can’t get him to change his behavior, you can work on handling it better.

Health complaints also drag your listener down. Most people do not want to hear how much sleep you didn’t get, or how your teeth are bothering you. Instead, talk about a class you’re taking or a book you’re reading or a movie you’ve seen recently.

Another problem with complaining is that you tend to frame the problem. It’s as though you put the problem in a picture frame and then it takes on more significance in your life because you focus on it.

Complaining sets in motion operating from a pessimistic frame of reference. Always we have problems to deal with in life. No one escapes. But continually focusing on problems is not helpful. And it certainly wears on those around you.

Think of the people you enjoy being with. They are people who are upbeat, laugh, and give energy. They are not people who spew out a steady stream of complaints, grievances, and ailments.

If you’re feeling down and start to complain, decide that you won’t go on for more than a few minutes before switching to a more positive discussion. If you need to do more fussing, at least call another friend and spread your complaints around.

Another option: think about what you want from the person you’re complaining to. If it’s more attention, perhaps you’ll ask the person to join you for lunch or a movie instead of complaining.

Also, ask yourself, Is there any way I can fix this particular problem? If there is, get busy.

This week, listen to yourself. See if you can stop those endless complaints. You’ll like yourself better. And so will those around 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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How one woman handled her husband’s affair.

When Joan received an anonymous phone call informing her that her husband was having an affair, she said that she couldn’t breathe. “I think the phone call confirmed what I vaguely suspected,” she said.

“My husband, who had always been easygoing, had became hostile.” When Joan tried to find out why he was leaving so early in the morning for his job or what time he was coming home from work, he acted as if it were none of her business. “He also bought himself some new sweaters and pants, tennis shoes, and loafers.” When Joan shared information about her life or the children’s, her husband would act uninterested.

“I was spending a lot of hours at work, so I think I dismissed the changes that were occurring.”

After the phone call, Joan started checking her husband’s caller ID. She looked more carefully at the bank statements and the charge card bills. There were bills from florists and restaurants. “Restaurants we never went to. Flowers I never saw,” she said.

At first Joan thought of killing herself. “I just couldn’t make sense of it because I thought we had a good marriage. My husband even said we had a good marriage.”

When Joan confronted her husband, he gave up the affair reluctantly. He said, however, that he had never thought of getting out of their marriage. He bought his wife gifts, apologized, and tried to reassure her. When Joan would get angry and berate him, he’d take it. He refused to fight back and he kept telling her he was sorry.

After two or three years, Joan said she brought up the affair less and less. “I could actually get through an argument and not mention the affair. I still have pain, but I no longer obsess on how my husband could do this to me.”

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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Issues in your relationship do have solutions. Some problems are easier to deal
with than others.
What do you do if…

Here are some questions people recently asked me when I gave a talk on marriage.

What do you do when your mate takes a pot-shot at you in public?

The best way to handle this very typical marital problem is to ignore the pot-shot. Pretend you didn’t hear it. In reality, everyone in the room heard it and I guarantee most everyone in the room thinks the guy is rude and “a borderline jerk.”

If you respond by defending or shooting an arrow back, you both look bad, and your mate will probably retaliate. After all, he didn’t have the sense or sensibility to keep his mouth shut in the first place.

The following day, tell your mate you were uncomfortable when he made the remark and ask that he not do this in the future. Some mates will apologize. Others will defend and point out how what they said was correct. If you get a defensive response, again state that you prefer that your mate not put you down in public. Amen. Period. No further discussion.

What do you do if your mate always runs late?

You, on the other hand, were taught to be on time and feel very anxious when you run late. You’ve asked your mate repeatedly to respect your wishes. She says okay but continues to be late.

First, assess if your mate is always late. Is she late for everything — church, weddings, movies, meeting friends at a restaurant, doctor’s appointments? Some people are on time for certain events but give themselves more latitude for others. If this is your mate, discuss what events you categorize as most important to be on time for and those where you would be willing to go along with your spouse’s more laid back timeframe.

Sometimes, too, one spouse will define lateness differently than another. If you are to be somewhere at 4 o’clock, do you consider yourself late if you are there at exactly 4 o’clock? Are you late if your clock says two minutes after four? I’ve seen discussions like this clear the air and give both spouses a better understanding of the way each of them views time.

In the worst case scenario, that is, your mate is late for every occasion, including weddings and the symphony — do yourself and your heart a favor. Take separate cars. It may not be ideal, but it will keep you from starting every event with a hostile attitude and feelings of helplessness.

What do you do if your mate drinks too much when you go out socially and he denies drinking excessively?

No matter how many discussions you’ve had, you can’t get him to admit he has a problem, nor can you get him to change.

Sometimes asking a friend to talk with your mate will have more impact than if you speak to him. Sometimes asking a mate to read a particular article or book on drinking will have the desired effect. Sometimes dragging your mate to a therapist and discussing his drinking will make the difference.

In addition, don’t drive home with a mate who has had too much to drink. Make a pact that you will always drive home from a party or social event. This keeps you from guessing how sober your mate is. It also keeps you from arguing at a time when he’s been drinking. You may not be able to get your mate to change his drinking habits, but you can protect yourself and the other people on the road.

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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Making your marriage better can be one of those “Best things I ever did.”
No longer in love with your husband or wife? Feeling bored or irritated with marriage? Yearning to go back to an earlier time when you had fun and looked forward to being together?

With some adjustment — thinking about things differently and changing a few behaviors — you can fall back in love. In fact, when you talk to long-time happily marrieds, most of them admit to periods of discontent.

Often people have so much on their plate with job demands, children, friends, relatives, household chores, sports, and hobbies that they forget to spend time with their mate. Then they report not having anything in common. True, because they’re not doing much beyond coordinating schedules. If this is you, what will you do differently? Nail down an evening or two each week where you spend time together. Write it down._________________________________

Next step. What will you do when the two of you are together? Will you take a walk, bike ride, go to a movie, watch television, go shopping? It doesn’t matter so much what you do, as long as the two of you are doing it together.

People get lazy and take each other for granted when they live together day-to-day. They stop focusing on each other’s goals and struggles. When was the last time you really listened to your partner’s feelings about how things are going in his or her life? Can you name two goals your spouse is wanting to accomplish?

Can you list two concerns or fears he has?

When you’re in that period of two ego states collapsing into one and you’re falling in love, you can’t see the flaws in your mate. You only see the good. As time goes on, the issue of who didn’t take out the trash becomes more important than his wonderful sense of humor. It’s easier to move toward friends and co-workers and away from your mate when entanglements with money, chores and children permeate your thinking and cause negative feelings. In order to avoid this pitfall, write down three of your mate’s strengths.

1._______________________________________________

2._______________________________________________

3._______________________________________________

During the coming week share what you like and admire about your partner. When you were falling in love, you had no trouble giving compliments and hugs and “I love yous.” It’s time to start the process again.

Feeling discontent with yourself often translates into: “I’m bored in my marriage.” It’s easier to spotlight your mate’s flaws rather than look at what you should be changing about yourself. Ask yourself two quick questions:

If I had a magic wand and could change anything about myself, what would it be?_________________________________________________

If I made this change, would I like my mate better?__________

Other action items:

-Be respectful. No pouting, name-calling, or trying to bulldoze with anger.

-Get your sex life back on track. Be loving and approach your mate. When your mate approaches you, don’t turn him or her down because of some petty annoyance.

-Don’t criticize. Remember: “You will always move toward anyone who increases you and away from anyone who makes you less.”

Ask yourself: Am I increasing my mate’s self-worth?

Can people fall back in love? Absolutely. Wishful thinking will not get you there, however. You have to get busy and do something. Following the advice that you’ve just read will make a difference.

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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If you are always defending your position instead of being open to someone else’s, you may keep yourself from learning new and different ideas.

I was at a meeting once listening to a fellow explain what direction a particular magazine should take, when another fellow piped up, “That’s ridiculous. I disagree completely.”  Within seconds, the various participants at the meeting took sides, and it became a win-lose situation.

So often when people hear something that is new or doesn’t fit with the way they have been thinking, they jump to a negative response such as, “What a stupid idea,” “That would never work,” “How could you think that,” “That’s nonsense,” “It makes no sense to me,” “That makes me mad,” and “I can’t believe you think that.”

As soon as someone makes one of these “close-out” comments, the other person puts up a wall. Now both people are locked into supporting their position, as opposed to considering another idea or blending both ideas for a better solution.

Close-out comments happen in families all the time. A wife says to her husband, “Let’s tear out those old lilac bushes this year and put in some burning bushes.” His response, “No, I don’t think so.” A teenager says, “I think I’m going to get a job.”  The mother says, “That’s stupid, you have enough to do already” A mother says to her grown son, “I didn’t tell you I was sick last week because I didn’t want to worry you.”  The son says, “That makes me mad.”

If you’re a person who goes for the close-out without thinking, commit the following to memory. When you hear something you immediately disagree with, say instead, “Let me think about it,” or “It’s a possibility that would work,” or “Well, that’s one way to look at it.”  These statements suggest that you’re open to the other person’s point of view and make for a more productive, win-win situation.

Other words that soften your opinion and make it easier for your listener to digest include “often,” “sometimes,” “perhaps,” “usually,” and “maybe.”

Most people do not intend to block communication, but many people inadvertently do. Use these suggestions and you’ll keep the lines of communication open.

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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Did you know that when you fight, your fights always follow the same pattern? What you fight about with your mate or your child may change from year to year, but the way the fight unfolds remains the same.

Take for example Marge and Bill. No matter what they fight about, Bill takes the mild-mannered, logical position while Marge becomes furious and raves like a maniac. The more calm Bill becomes, the more hysterical Marge acts. The pattern is always the same.

On Tuesday, this couple fought because Bill didn’t get home until 6:40, when he usually arrives by 6:00.

As soon as Bill came in the door, Marge expected an explanation.

Bill explained that his boss had wanted to see him just as he was walking out the door, and he couldn’t get away.

At this explanation, Marge became angrier and insisted that Bill should have excused himself to call her. After all, most people live on some sort of time schedule, even the boss.

Bill countered by telling Marge in a reasonable tone that she didn’t understand the corporate world; and most people in his position don’t leave the office until 6:30. To call home hadn’t seemed necessary because it wasn’t as if he was being delayed until 10 at night.

Angrier still, Marge pointed out that she had taken time out of her life to go to the grocery store and make a nice meal for him, which was now ruined. Why was his time more important than her time? She also recounted all the other times Bill had chosen his work over her – like when he went out of town on business when their first child was due.

At the end of the argument, which lasted most of the evening, Bill felt persecuted and believed Marge was completely unreasonable. Marge felt that she didn’t count and once again Bill’s work had come first.

If Marge and Bill would take a moment to see that the pattern is always the same – Bill gets logical and Marge gets hysterical, and they rarely resolve their differences – they could change the pattern.

Instead of defending his actions, Bill could focus on Marge’s feelings. He could acknowledge that she had to wait and hold dinner and that it would have been more thoughtful for him to call. Bill should give no explanation or rationale for his decision to stay and talk with the boss.

Marge could change the pattern by stating her position and then restating it and not allowing herself to become hysterical.

The problem is, neither Bill nor Marge would get to feel misunderstood and persecuted. And who would express Bill’s anger for him if Marge became more controlled? And what about their familiar routine? What would they do if they were not fighting?

That’s why it’s so hard to give up your fight pattern.

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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