Archive for Relationships

Apr
01

The Marriage Myth – Why do so many couples divorce?

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An interesting article from the Washington Post about marriage education:

As a punishing rain lashed across the narrow peninsula of Ocean City, Heidi and Kirk Noll stood facing each other in a windowless conference room of the aging Carousel Resort Hotel.

Amid stackable chairs and retractable walls, they and a half-dozen other bleary-eyed couples clasped hands and pledged their lives to each other. Heidi’s hair was still damp for the 9 a.m. ceremony, which took only 15 minutes, despite multiple interruptions from hotel staffers opening heavy doors that led to an atrium where the hum of a Zamboni on an indoor ice rink mingled with the smell of maple syrup from breakfast.

Vows successfully exchanged, and blessed by an Army chaplain, the couples clambered back onto the chartered bus that had brought them here, and made the wearing slog home to Washington.

It was an experience, the Nolls insist, that saved their marriage.

What’s more: Had they gone through something similar years before, both say they might still be married to their first spouses.

The Nolls were on a marriage education retreat — in this case, a free, two-day event that was part of an Army-wide initiative called Strong Bonds.

What it meant for Kirk and Heidi was 36 hours away from their daily routine, time they spent thinking critically about their relationship. Together with their group… (click here to read entire article about The Marriage Myth)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Aug
29

Why Parents of Girls Divorce More | Psychology Today

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Yes, it’s true. In generation after generation across many countries, parents of girls divorce more than do parents of boys.

As Steven E. Landsburg put it in his Oct 2003 article for Slate magazine, “All over the world, boys hold marriages together, and girls break them up.”

Economists Gordon Dahl (at the University of Rochester) and Enrico Moretti (at UCLA) discovered the following facts in 2003: In the United States, the parents of a girl are nearly 5 percent more likely to divorce than the parents of a boy. The parents of three girls are close to 10 percent more likely to divorce than the parents of three boys.

via Why Parents of Girls Divorce More | Psychology Today.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Jun
13

The Effect of Family Roles on Life’s Choices

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With hardly any thought at all, you can probably say whether, in your family of origin, you played the role of the responsible one or the rebel, the people pleaser or the mascot. Roles serve an organizing function. In a family, roles sort out each person’s relationship to the group. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with roles, they become a problem when they’re rigid and shape poor choices as a teenager or adult.

Roles are especially harmful in families where abuse and/or addiction occurs. They become a vain attempt to control a situation

via Psychology.com Articles » Blog Archive » The Effect of Family Roles on Life’s Choices.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Therapeutic Talk

When I ask people what they found helpful in therapy, they often say that just talking about things made a big difference for them.  Talking about the substantial things in life can help you to gain insight, learn about your difficulties, identify needed changes, have a sense of direction, and feel supported in your efforts.

Social Support

However, therapy is not the only place where you could talk about topics of substance.  I recommend that people think of their social support system as a foundation of a structure.  The smallest number of supports needed to have a stable structure is three, like a tripod.  Who can you talk to about your concerns, dreams, struggles and achievements?  Do you have at least three points of support?  Points of support could include friends, family, a spiritual community or pastor, a support group or therapy group, and/or a counselor.  You could also consider sources of information as points of support, if they help you to reflect on important topics.  So books and certain websites, especially interactive ones, could count too.

Happy People Talk More, and With More Substance

Of course talking about issues of substance need not be limited to your personal joys and challenges.  There are many philosophical, spiritual, social, political, scientific, and technological topics that are very meaningful.  Interestingly, recent research has found that happy people tend to spend more time talking about topics of substance.

Happy people tend to talk more than unhappy people, but when they do, it tends to be less small talk and more substance, a new study finds.

A group of psychologists from the University of Arizona and Washington University in St. Louis set out to find whether happy and unhappy people differ in the types of conversations they tend to have.

(Click to continue reading Happy People Talk More, and With More Substance)  By the way, if you follow this link, you will find several additional interesting links to more information about the science of happiness.

So next time you talk to someone, don’t limit yourself to just small talk.  Let them know what you’ve really been thinking about and why its meaningful to you.  And find out what’s really going on for them too.  Or, why not investigate a meaningful topic and share what you’ve learned?  Taking your conversations to a deeper level can help you not just to reflect on topics of substance, but also to connect with others in more meaningful ways.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Nov
21

Are You Socially Intelligent? – Video

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Social Intelligence

Daniel Goleman is a well known author and researcher who previously taught us about emotional intelligence.   More recently he has written a book on social intelligence, which is based on recent groundbreaking research in social neuroscience.

This video is a quick introduction to a very important concept and why it matters.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Nov
14

About Shame

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There are so many good resources online.  Help Yourself Therapy.com was recommended to me recently by someone who found it helpful.  It is a website that addresses many mental health related topics.

About Shame

The information I found there about shame was a nice summary, with many good reminders for people who struggle with toxic shame. It starts off by differentiating between shame and guilt, and then continues:

Shame is not the same as guilt.

When we feel guilt, it’s about something we did.
When we feel shame, it’s about who we are.

When we feel guilty we need to learn
that it’s OK to make mistakes.

When we feel shame we need to learn
that it’s OK to be who we are!

WHERE SHAME COMES FROM

Shame comes from being taught
that we are worthless or bad or something similar…

(Click here to read more about shame)

Shame – What You Can Do About It

There is also a second article which provides more tips on reducing toxic shame.

To overcome shame, you need to learn that
it’s OK to be who you are!

To get there, you must have
and absorb deeply
many separate moments
of being accepted, loved, or valued.

I’ll be giving you some practical ideas about how to do this…

(click here to read more about shame – what you can do about it)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines.

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Sep
14

Playful Communication in Relationships

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The Importance of Small Day-To-Day Connections

One of the key principles I learned from Dr. John Gottman (a renowned marriage specialist), is the importance of connecting with one’s spouse in small ways but consistently.

A common mistake that couples make is thinking that it’s the special events that will bring them closer… the big vacation, the special date, or the celebrated holiday.  Although such events can meaningfully add to the couple’s shared memories, they are usually not the key to feeling close.

Staying Tuned In

The key to feeling close is much simpler (and perhaps harder).  It is staying tuned in.

  • Do you pay attention and respond when your spouse points out something interesting or funny?
  • Do you take some time to check in after a day apart?
  • Do you know what is going on in your spouses work life, their friendships, and their home life?
  • Are you aware of their current joys and stressors?
  • Do you respond to affection?
  • Do you express appreciation?
  • Can you enjoy their corny jokes?
  • Can you be playful with each other?
  • Are you aware of your partner’s dreams, and do you encourage them?

These are all things that happen in spontaneous day-to-day interactions… interactions that might sometimes only take a few seconds.  These are ways of staying tuned in, so that you feel you are making life’s journey together.

Playfulness in Day-To-Day Interactions

Life can be stressful.  Humor and playfulness can make things more manageable for individuals, so why not for couples?  Here is a very thorough article about playfulness, and how it can be helpful in communication and relationships.  It gives several good tips, and discusses the connection between playful communication and emotional intelligence:

The Power of Laughter, Humor, and Play

Laughter has a powerful effect on your health and well-being. A good laugh relieves tension and stress, elevates mood, enhances creativity and problem-solving ability, and provides a quick energy boost. But even more importantly, laughter brings people together. Mutual laughter and play are an essential component of strong, healthy relationships. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships— as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends.

Using laughter and play to improve your relationships

Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships exciting, fresh, and vital. Humor and playful communication strengthens our relationships by… (click here to read entire article)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.

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Jul
16

The Revenge Paradox

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Contrary to Popular Belief, Revenge Does Not Make People Feel Better

This interesting article from the Monitor on Psychology reports some interesting research about revenge.  The main point that stood out to me, was that although research subjects predicted they would feel better if given an opportunity for revenge, measures showed that it actually made them feel worse than those subjects who did not get this opportunity.

Betrayal, Anger and Revenge

The study was based on an investment scenario, in which secret experimenters pretended to be one of the subjects.  These plants intentionally betrayed their groups, and then some groups were given an opportunity to exact revenge, and some were not.  Their resulting emotions were then measured, showing that the groups who did not exact revenge felt better in the end. The authors stated that:

By exacting revenge, people think more about the person and the event, “Rather than providing closure, it does the opposite:  It keeps the wound open and fresh.”

Cultural Differences in Revenge

The article also discusses some interesting cultural differences affecting revenge.

American students feel more offended when their rights are violated, whereas Korean students feel more offended when their sense of duty and obligation is threatened… to collectivists, shame to someone with a shared identity is considered an injury to one’s self…as a result… revenge is more contagious in collectivist cultures.

… anger often drives the vengeful feelings of people in individualistic cultures, while shame powers revenge in collectivist ones.

Revenge and Justice

The article goes on to discuss the relationship between revenge and justice:  “If revenge doesn’t make us feel any better, why do we seek it?” (Click to read entire article on revenge)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park (60477); near Oak Forest, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.

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This video illustrates the importance of actively pursing a solution, rather than waiting for others (or for the world) to offer you a solution to your problems.

Practical Problems Require Problem Solving

When faced with practical problems, it is key to proactively engage in the problem solving process.   This is especially difficult for people who grew up in chaotic and abusive families, where efforts at problem solving were often unsuccessful.  When repeated attempts fail, a person can learn what is called Learned Helplessness.  In other words, they learn that no matter what they try, nothing will help.  They give up, stop trying to find solutions, and just absorb whatever the world throws at them.

These individuals often carry this core belief, that they are helpless to solve their problems, into other circumstances, later in life.  They let themselves be carried by various forces, feeling helpless to set their own course.  Realizing that problem solving could be helpful is the first step for such individuals to get control over their own lives.  (Click for more about Problem Solving Therapy.)

A Young Man with Rare Determination

Alex Chivescu has been through a lot.  His parents divorced when he was two, his father was not in his life, and then his mother suffered a head injury, causing her to become abusive and neglectful.  Eventually his mother lost custody of him.  Not only did he avoid the trap of Learned Helplessness, but he channeled all his energies into doing the best he could do at school, using it as an escape and excelling there.  But when he was moved away from his school district, he had to go a step further…

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Jun
09

Giving and Receiving Feedback

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It can be difficult to give and receive feedback, whether with loved ones, or with people at work.  Here are some guidelines that may help.  You’ve probably heard some of these things before, but we could all use a reminder now and then.

Giving Feedback

  1. Pick your battles, make sure it’s relevant, and stay focused on one issue at a time.
  2. Timing is key.  Feedback does not necessarily have to be given on the spot – but as soon as possible.  You may want to wait until the person is not busy or in a receptive mood.
  3. Feedback should be given directly, not hinted at or filtered through a third party.
  4. Give the feedback caringly, and share positive feedback (not just negative).
  5. Explain how you feel as a result of the other person’s behavior.  Try starting with the word, “I.”  For example, “I feel like ______ when you _____.”  This allows you to own your emotions, and allows for the possibility that your reaction is the issue, rather than the other person’s behavior.
  6. Avoid giving advice.  Try to stay away from, “you should…,” or, “you need to…”  Instead you can share what has worked for you in similar situations, or help the person explore their options.
  7. Give the other person a chance to explain, and validate what you can in their explanation.
  8. Feedback is not feedback when it’s meant to hurt – then it’s just an attack.  Avoid sarcasm or condescending manner when giving feedback.
  9. Avoid being judgmental.  Don’t label the person with derogatory terms like “stupid” or use curse words.  Talk about a specific behavior you can see, rather than judging the whole person.
  10. Don’t nag or hound a person about their behavior unless they have told you that they want your help.  If you’ve talked about it clearly several times and they aren’t changing, then try to accept.

Receiving Feedback

  1. Ask for feedback and receive it openly.  If you feel yourself getting defensive, give yourself some time to calm down and think things through before responding.  “Let me think about it.”
  2. Do not make excuses, try to avoid getting mad, don’t seek revenge, and don’t ignore what’s being said or the person who’s saying it.  If you need time before responding, ask for it.
  3. Acknowledge whatever you can agree with in the feedback, and how it can be valuable to you.
  4. Express appreciation that they cared enough to give you feedback.
  5. Discuss it.  Don’t just say “thank you,” and let it drop.  (If you’re feeling too defensive, then you can plan to discuss it later, after having a chance to think about it.)
  6. View feedback as a continuing exploration.  Think about it and try to build upon it.  Let the other person know how you plan to work on yourself in light of what they said.
  7. Don’t look for motives or hidden meanings.
  8. Seek clarification if you’re not sure what the other person is telling you.
  9. Resist the temptation to point out how they have the same problem, or the temptation to fire back “tit for tat.”  When receiving feedback it’s time to focus on your own issues and how you could work on them.
  10. Negotiate or compromise to the degree that you feel comfortable.  But don’t forget, you grow most when you step slightly outside your comfort zone.
  11. Keep your core values in mind, and think about the feedback you got in that context.  If you find that after careful consideration, the feedback contradicts your core values, then be clear about your boundaries.   But if it fits, then this is an opportunity to work on yourself!
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