Tuesday, February 5th, 2013He leaves me for the TV
Does the love of your life avoid you and turn on the TV?
Does your teen roll her eyes and say, "stop asking me so many questions?"
Does your beloved say, "not now?"
Do you hear, "I don't know what I feel." or "I don't want to talk about it."
If you answered yes twice or more, it may mean you are a pursuer.
Pursuers move towards other people looking for emotional connection, affection or sex. When upset, they call a friend,
Distacers feel upset and turn on the TV, computer or go for a drive while their pursuing partner want to talk about it and communicate..
You can pursue your spouse around conversations and distance from him around sex.
Conversely, he might pusue you sexually and distance from you emotionally.
Pursuers calm their insides with people while distancers calm their upset wit objects, books, golf, computers, TVRead More...Tuesday, February 5th, 201310 Relationship Rules for Pursuers
1. Never pursue a distancer.
2. If he distances one inch, you distance two inches.
3. Distance does not resolve conflicts
4. Allowing space gives each party a chance to cool down.
5. It reduces intensity and biological activation or upset.
6. Calmer less reactive responses can then emerge.
8. The likelihood of a fight/flight or freeze response is reduced.
9. It is like an adult time out.
10. People are then free to respond rather than reacting to one another.
Read More...Saturday, January 8th, 2011Don't Crowd Your Love!
Flowers need space to grow and flourish, so do people. No matter how much you love your mate, your child, your friend, give them space. How can you know who you are, what you need, unless you have room to feel your boundaries, where you end and someone else begins? I have seen lovers, parents and friends crowd loving relationships with expectation, judgement and concern. You crowd out your loved ones' oxygen supply with subtle demand. They do not have room to experience who they are or what they need. Instead of emphasizing what you perceive, need or expect. begin by giving them space to clarify what they experience and desire. Allow sufficient space for two roots to develop. Stop advising your lover,friend or teen and listen more. Leave space for love! Read More...Sunday, November 7th, 2010Foreign Relations and Health: Narcissism in Conflict
Sitting at Starbucks this morning, I opened Fall 2010 issue of the NYU Alumni magazine. A quote grabbed me. "There really is a paradigm that says 'the Middle East is just reactive and defensive and everything you see there is just a reaction to the way the United States acts, or to colonialism, or Zionism or imperialism." The author, Middle East Correspondent, Lee Smith, goes on to say that if you want to see the Middle East as a place that simply reacts to the United States, just study the United States.
Smith highlights narcissistic views that cripple healing opportunities in international relations and health. One paradigm is correct. Other paradigms exist solely in reaction. Narcissis admiring himself in the pool assumes all pool activity is about him. Paradigms are built on values. Placing self at center trivializes truth, creates a constricted lens and negates the big picture.
I include health care because U.S. health care is built on the belief that disease is the culprit and must be eradicated or cut out, a good and lofty goal. However as the major paradigm guiding American health - 70% of health care dollars keep folks alive for final three months of life - it has limitations. Americans are more informed about disease than any country in the world but deficient in understanding levels of health and wellness.
Of course we need smart, educated, highly competent soldiers and surgeons, weapons and strategies to fight invaders whether human or disease. That does not mean the world is out to get us. Let's honor the fear from primitive brains now running foreign relations and health care. But avoid constricting your view .Step up to the human brilliance within . Read More...Thursday, March 18th, 2010Fights on Facebook
Couples fight on Facebook, notes today's NY Times . Each person presents verbal artillery to wound the other. Instead of discussing conflicts and coming to some resolution, a public war ensues, each partner searching for allies and ultimately the more powerful position. It reminds me of young children who say: "He did it first."
On Facebook, Mom doesn't decide. Friends and acquaintances are enlisted to judge who is right and who is wrong. Is there another reason for the public battle? Is the intent to shame and hurt one another? Is the goal a form of public flogging?
This morning I met a friend who was concerned because her 13 year old daughter was being bullied by a girlfriend. Subtle but the message is the same. I have the power. you are the victim. If I have an audience, my power is intensified.
Scanning a lead article on the first page of the Times, an infinitely more lethal form of bullying, terrorism, grabbed my attention. Bullying among teenage girls is at one end of the continuum and terrorism is on the far opposite end. However both evolve from a form of communication based on power rather than on human connection. I will destroy you emotionally, physically, spiritually to demonstrate my power over you.
Does one lead to the other? Do parental bullies produce bullying children? Were the parents of terrorists more likely to use abuse or violence in childrearing or in treatment of spouses? Do parental bullies teach that might is right and power precedes compassion and empathy.
I thought about it often during the day mostly between client sessions. Then the mail arrived with my March/April Psychotherapy Networker, a well written psychotherapist's magazine. On the last page, a psychologist wrote a piece about his father, whom he admired greatly. Examples were provided of how his father beat up folks who did not treat members of the family well. On the one hand it was protective but on the other hand, I felt some discomfort in my gut.
The terrorists think they are protecting their turf. The psychologist's father was protecting his family. It's still bullying. Sure self preservation is primal but this is not about self preservation, this is about power over others, the old victim/perpetrator dynamics.
All of these folks from the girl to the terrorist are engaging in victim/perpetrator dynamics. Read More...Tuesday, September 29th, 2009Superior Wife or Overfunctioner?
Last Saturday morning I rewarded a half hour exercise at our local Curves with a trip to the Village Cafe for a cup of steaming coffee, Irish oatmeal and The New York Times. "All sold out." I settled for our local Westchester paper, The Journal News. The headline in the LIFE&STYLE section caught my eye. "Why Marital Bliss Goes Amiss." I read more. "In a book on the woeful state of inequality in most marriages, author Carin Rubenstein doesn't mince words. Women are just too capable for their own good." In her book with an off-putting title, The Superior Wife Syndrome: Why Women Do Everything So Well and Why - for the Sake of Our Marriages - We've Got to Stop," she argues that many women are overworked doing it all and husbands are coasting along, happy with the status quo. She studied 1500 men and women and found that the men exaggerated their contributions to the household although "They're doing more than their own fathers but nowhere near half."
In my Couples Training, Murray Bowen, granddaddy of family therapy warned, 'Couples get caught in an over and under functioning reciprocity, a dance in which the more I do, the less you do; the less you do, the more I do. The couple is a system rather than two separate individuals. Each part of the system responds with reciprocity. We have been programmed from birth and over many generations to respond in particular ways. For a long time, men were the over functioners while women sometimes under functioned. The tables have clearly turned. The Womens' movement has left a mark. The dance of the couple is in flux. We need a dance teacher.
I suggest that in any relationship, the over functioner needs to back off and do less. Focusing on the under functioner rarely works. The over functioner has power to shift system dynamics by changing her over functioning behavior. Learn from the greatest teacher of all, the under functioner. Rest more, talk less, observe more, ponder but leave space for the under functioner to solve the problem, do the work. I am reminded of the parents who anxiously sat forward in their chairs worried about their son's failing grades while he sprawled across his seat looking bored. The son had the problem but the parents did the worrying. Until the problem and the anxiety are in the same person, no change occurs. The energy of anxiety will force a person to change his behavior. If a parent or a spouse does the worrying, the child can relax and not change.
The concept of superior/inferior is not a systemic concept and does not take into account our DNA programming over many generations. Change is a process but the only person you can really change is you. So change your behavior over functioners and take better care of your self. Whenever a person over functions in one area, she is under functioning in another. Rubenstein suggests five tips: "Just ask." Like just say no, sometimes it works, often it does not but if you back off, it may work. She suggests that women "develop manly skills like mowing the lawn." Won't work, more of the same. "Give him a choice." It may work but she still has the responsibility.
I like two of her suggestions. "Be less than you can be." Do not always be so competent. When spouses are practicing a behavior for the first time, they will not do it as well as you, the experienced ones, can do. Keep your mouth shut and Do Not criticize or show them how to do it. Everyone improves with practice. Her other appealing tip; "Silence your inner critic." That critic has been programmed over many generations. Be patient with her but Stop the negative self talk.
Think of your family as an organism in which the brain and heart function individually and as a system. If the heart under functions another part of the body tries to take over. If the brain over functions, other parts of the body may under function and so it goes. The brain is not superior to the heart nor the heart superior to the brain. So too with couples, if one partner is over functioning in one area, he or she is under functioning in another. Rubenstein found "non-superior wives happier and more satisfied with their sex lives than superior wives. Better functioning systems function better in all areas.
Over functioning shifts the balance, try to under function a bit. Change your dance steps by taking better care of yourself. Look in as well as looking out. Don't always be the one who sees the job to be done. Pause, give your partner time to miss the clean shirts or the gourmet dinner. Everything is not your concern or your job. If you back off, give it time, let's see if he moves in. If not, perhaps a discussion or a talk with a couples coach is needed.