Every married couple has problems, so why is it that when we’re struggling in our marriages we can feel so alone? I recently sat down with the ladies of “Good Things Utah” to answer some marriage questions that viewers had written in. Perhaps some of them will mirror your own experiences.More
One of the biggest problems in marriage is poor communication. There’s so much emotional history and baggage, and both people have thoughts, feelings, and need that can cloud the situation, so it’s easy to miss each other. It’s important to understand three distinct communication styles and how they can hinder or help our ability to connect with each other.
The name says it all: an individual with a doormat style of communication often gets trampled on or simply allow others to lead. They typically favor peace over any type of conflict, so they’ll often be passive or give the silent treatment when things get difficult. This can lead to problems, as those assuming the doormat style have their relationship needs chronically neglected and do not take a stand for themselves.
The sword is the opposite: those with this style are often very aggressive, defensive, and on edge. They may verbally lash out or blame others. For them, self-preservation is achieved through emotional manipulation or violence, but the relationship suffers the damage.
The lantern is the type of communication that we should all strive for. It’s illuminating and invites all into the light to see different perspectives and experiences. It is firm and secure, yet not overbearing. The lantern is a more mature style of communication, as it is rises above the tendency to be either a sword or a doormat.
If you are interested in learning more about communication styles and how to strengthen your relationships with also maintaining your own unique voice, check out my book “The Assertiveness Guide for Women.”More
I recently sat down with Baya Voce, host of The Art of connection, to talk about narcissism, sociopathy, pathological lying, gaslighting and so much more. The biggest take-home message is that anyone can find themselves in a manipulative relationship, and you can heal. For therapy in Utah visit WasatchFamilyTherapy.com Learn more about Baya Voce.
Have you experienced manipulation in a relationship? What were the signs? How did you recover?
Every significant relationship has times of disagreement and disconnection. Differences are a sign that your relationship is healthy and that both people feel free to bring their authentic selves. However, how you express those differences can either bring you closer together or create distance.More
Grab a friend and join me for this rare one-day workshop for LDS women in Salt Lake City this summer. Don’t wait! Early-bird tickets on sale (Save $50). Seating is limited. Purchase tickets and get details below:More
Grab a friend, sister, neighbor and come to my day-long workshop for Mormon women. Understand cultural influences that may have silenced your authentic voice, and learn and practice the 5 steps of assertive communication. Details and ticket information below. Early-bird pricing ends soon (save $50) and seating is limited. Can’t wait to spend the day with you!
Everyone has an innate desire to be understood, to be heard, and to be validated. This is why close relationships can be so powerful.
They give us the opportunity to connect with others in ways that allow both individuals to be seen, respected, loved, and really feel known by the other person. But as many of us have experienced, even burning love can cool down, and even couples who once had a deep emotional engagement with one another may find themselves feeling disconnected and dissatisfied.
As a clinical therapist of more than 20 years, I’ve sat with many disheartened couples who are confused about where their love has gone and why they don’t feel the same way about each other that they once did. There are a great number of reasons why a marriage or romantic relationship could be in distress, and I won’t attempt to solve or remedy all of them in a single article. I will say that one thing I have seen work wonders in improving relationships and alleviating marital and personal hardship is empathy. I call it the “secret sauce” of a happy marriage. In fact, a Harvard research study from a few years ago showed that marriages were more successful when the man tried to demonstrate empathy in his interactions with his wife. Clearly, there’s something important and noteworthy about it.
So what is empathy exactly? It’s a willingness and ability to sit with another person, really listen, and reflect back your partner’s experience. Some individuals are naturally empathetic, whereas others need to work to develop it a bit more. Either way, it can be an invaluable trait to bring to a marriage. Here are some ways that you can use empathy to improve your relationships.
One of the first things to do is to listen to the emotional message in your partner’s pleas. This can be difficult because the words and the emotional message might not be the same thing. For example, if your spouse says things like, “you always come home late,” or “you never text me when you’re on your way,” it may be tempting to get defensive at the criticism.
However, I encourage you to listen for the deeper meaning in the words. It’s likely that what your partner is actually trying to communicate is “I miss you when you’re away and want to spend more time with you,” or “I’m scared that I’m not important to you.” Practice this communication skill of deciphering the underlying message, then figure out how best to respond to it.
Another good strategy for employing empathy in your relationships is to step out of your own emotional experience sometimes to fully listen to and seek to understand the other person’s. This is not easy. When a spouse is giving critical feedback, your gut reaction is likely one of trying to explain, defend, or rationalize, but these uncomfortable situations are when empathy is needed the most. Press the pause button on your own feelings, and as painful as it might be, try to see things from the opposite perspective.
And finally, show empathy by reflecting back your partner’s experience in your words. This is an aspect of active listening that can help to clarify any inadvertent miscommunication. Using phrases like “what I’m hearing you say is ____” or “you must be feeling _____” can help make sure you two are on the same page. The Harvard study showed that women were happier when their husbands were making their best effort to respond empathetically to their negative experiences. So if you’re not perfect, don’t stress! This is a skill to learn and to develop, and a marriage or close relationship is the perfect opportunity to practice.
Empathy is not necessarily a cure-all, but it is a crucial component of a healthy relationship (especially a long-lasting one like a marriage). In times of distress, practice these methods to strengthen your connections to the ones you love.
(c) Canstock Photo
Need help to develop more empathy? Get coaching with Dr. Julie HanksMore
By Common Consent published my guest blog today about what not to say to a loved one leaving the Church. I’ve had a handful of requests for PDF printables of the lists in the article…so here you go!
By exploring your self-doubt, challenging your thoughts, and taking action, you can manage insecurities so they don’t sabotage your confidence and happiness….
Confidence is something we all aspire to have, but the truth is that insecurity is something we all experience. Insecurities were huge for most people in high school (think acne, frizzy hair, not making the sports team, etc.), and although we’ve hopefully gotten over some of these things, we still are fragile and imperfect human beings who sometimes doubt ourselves.More
Based on both clinical wisdom from working with women and from her own experiences, Dr. de Azevedo Hanks invites women to embark on a journey to create a stronger sense of clarity, confidence, connection, and compassion by increasing their assertiveness in the areas of their lives that matter most. This book is useful to any woman who desires to increase her assertiveness and is a good tool for clinicians to use when addressing issues of connection, gender, attachment, and assertiveness. This wonderful guide is highly recommended for anyone who wants to be more assertive.
Reviewed by Beth Russell, Ph.D., LCSW, Clinical Associate Professor of Social Work, The College at Brockport for New Social Worker