Family

There’s No Such Thing as a Simple Question

You would think that a simple question would be met with a simple answer. On occasion, that is true. But often, a simple question stirs up a barrage of emotional baggage. Here are two examples:

He says: Do you know where the flashlight is?
She says: You never put anything away and then you expect me to find it. How am I supposed to know?

She says: It’s raining; will you drive carefully?
He says: Get off my back! I’m not an idiot!

Communication is not what you say; it’s what the other person hears you say. And when you have a history with that person, a simple question can conjure up a frenzy of emotions.
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Family

When You Rely Too Much on What Others Think

Caring what others think is totally normal. It’s also adaptive. “[V]aluing other people’s thoughts and opinions is what helps us build relationships [and] integrate socially into society,” said Ashley Thorn, a LMFT, a psychotherapist who works with individuals, couples, and families on improving their relationships. “[It] keeps us respecting and following rules and pushes us to think and challenge ourselves.”

Caring what others think becomes a problem when we hyperfocus on their opinions -- and let them override our own. When we do this regularly, we send “a message to our brain that says we can’t ‘look out’ for ourselves or self-protect.” Which triggers self-doubt and insecurity.
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Family

What’s Your Listening IQ?

When people are “crazy in love,” they have the highest listening IQ. They make excellent eye contact, are totally focused on what their partner is saying, are tuned in to the nuances of the conversation, and freely give head nods, smiles, and chuckles to show they are listening.

As time passes, people become more relaxed with one another. When they do, their listening IQ tends to decline. Direct eye contact deteriorates. People focus on other...
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Friends

The Importance of Friendship in Marriage

Friend is simply defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as “a person who you like and enjoy being with,” and Best Friend as “one’s closest and dearest friend.” Friends have similar interests and best friends even share the joys and sorrows of life. Having your spouse as your best friend can be one of the great benefits of marriage. If you and your spouse are already best friends, that’s wonderful; if not, maybe it’s time to understand the importance of friendship in marriage.

Relationship expert John Gottman, professor at the University of Washington, and author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, says "Happy marriages are based on a deep friendship" and that friendship is the core of a strong marriage. Gottman's research has shown that a high quality friendship in a marriage is an important predictor in romantic and physical satisfaction.
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Books

5 Tips for Increasing Your Chances of Being Heard

We can’t control someone else’s behavior. We can’t control whether they really hear us or not. But we can make the process easier. That is, we can help the other person better understand where we’re coming from by being clear and compassionate. Often we do the opposite: Often we expect others to know what we need. How could they not? Isn’t it obvious? (Usually, it’s not obvious at all.)

Or we stay silent because we fear that by speaking up, we’ll be seen as high-maintenance, unreasonable or rude. If we don’t have much practice asserting ourselves, we might assume that doing so involves being harsh or stern. Or maybe we unwittingly use criticism or blame, which naturally makes the other person anything but receptive to what we have to say.
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Friends

How to Respond to Needy Friends

If we live long enough, and make and keep enough friends, we’re bound to encounter neediness. But while we’re more likely to recognize when someone else is being needy, it’s important to recognize that everyone --including us -- experiences times of deeper need at some point in life.

We may, for example, go through a stressful scenario -- a job transition, the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a work conflict -- that causes us to need extra support for a time. And the ways we reach out to people in our worst moments may sometimes come off as needy. With this in mind, it’s important to try to support our friends when they endure similar life stages, knowing that we may eventually need to be on the receiving end of their support.

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Anxiety and Panic

5 More Tips for Navigating a Contentious Divorce

Contentious divorces can do a number on your health and well-being. You might find that you're struggling with symptoms of anxiety and depression or a worsening of these symptoms (if you had anxiety or depression before). You might find that you have very little energy and you’re constantly on edge. Maybe you can’t concentrate either. Maybe everything feels more challenging. Grueling. It’s hard to breathe when you feel like you’re suffocating.

But even during such a chaotic time as a contentious divorce, there are things you can do to improve the situation and to feel better. You can be an advocate for yourself and your family.
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Family

5 Suggestions for Navigating a Contentious Divorce

Any divorce is difficult, even when the split is amicable. After all, divorce is a major transition, and change is tough. When your divorce is contentious, not surprisingly, things are harder. A lot harder.

“People are often caught off guard by the enormity of the divorce experience,” said Krysta Dancy, MA, MFT, a therapist who specializes in working with couples and families in Roseville, Calif.

If your marriage was contentious, you probably see your divorce as a relief, so you might feel blindsided when your stress skyrockets. You might feel utterly exhausted, anxious, depressed and unfocused, Dancy said.
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Depression

Words of Hope for Anyone Struggling with Depression

One of the worst parts about depression -- and there are certainly many -- is that it robs you of hope. Hope that you’ll actually feel better. Hope that the darkness will lift. Hope that the emptiness will fill up and you’ll feel motivated and excited. Hope that it won’t be like this forever. Hope that you’ll get through it.

“I’ve been struggling with depression for almost 35 years,” said Douglas Cootey, who pens the award-winning blog
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