The first part was easy—John and I agreed we needed a new car. But which car? Again we agreed—this part was not going to be so easy! We have “different perspectives” on this subject, as I am always coaching my clients to say. Given that, not only do you want a good decision, you want a good decision-making process. No leftover scars, no tendrils of resentment creeping into the future, please!
Did your last apology go sideways? Maybe even cause more damage? Soooo frustrating, right? Especially when you feel like your heart’s in the right place and you put yourself out there to try and make things right. Before you decide your partner just wants to punish you and there’s no way to please her (or him), first do an “audit” and see if your apology might suffer from any of these flaws.
I’ve had the coolest mom ever since I was in kindergarten. Kids would stare at her and whisper, “Is THAT your MOM?” Why? For one thing, she was always what used to be called a clotheshorse and what is now called a fashionista. When I was in grade school, she dressed like Goldie Hawn. When I was in junior high, I’m sure I was the only girl trying to convince her mother her hems needed to be lower.
An article I was reading the other day said: “Forgiving is not the same as forgetting.” True enough, but I wanted to know what the author thought forgiveness WAS. I never really did get a clear definition. This is not uncommon, actually. A lot of writers find it easier to say what forgiveness is not. Then I asked myself: What about me? Did I have a crystal-clear definition of forgiveness? In fact, No, not nearly clear enough for someone who spends so much time helping people with it!
Does romance have a fighting chance in today’s family life? You stayed late at work because your boss is on the warpath. You came home to one kid who’s sick and another who needs help with homework. Your spouse is upset because the credit card bill is heading for the sky again. But, once everyone’s in bed and the dinner dishes are done, the haven of your bedroom awaits you, right? Or, is the light glaring, the T.V. blaring and the laundry piles the same ones that were staring at you last week? No wonder you have to go to a hotel to feel romantic! You probably have to go to a hotel just to decompress!
Yesterday I asked some clients how long we say “Happy New Year!” They said probably til the end of January, or almost. That’s a good answer. Another answer is as long as that feeling of shiny new possibilities lasts. You know, that feeling of turning the page. Getting a fresh start. A chance for do-overs. Why not catch the moment before it fades? Decide on one thing about your relationship to let go of for 2015? Just toss it out along with the 2014 calendar! But wait Claire, aren’t you always saying that resentments have to be worked through? And if you try to ignore them they’ll build up and fester? I’m not talking about core relationship issues that you do need to work on together. I’m talking about
“We don’t have an unscheduled minute between now and January 1.” I overheard this in the grocery store a few days before Thanksgiving. It made my stomach clench. For one thing, it didn’t sound like the speaker was looking forward to the next five weeks. For another, I know as a marriage counselor observing families at the holidays for lo these many years, that families need more time, not less right now. Why? They need relationship repair time.
“I wanted to tell you I understand now,” said Kristina. “I get all those things you used to say. ‘Hang up your coat! Don’t leave your shoes in the middle of the floor!’” “You mean you understand why I used to nag you all the time?” “Yes. Oh my goodness!” She threw her head back and rolled her eyes. Turns out her boyfriend is giving her some payback. He’s getting on her nerves the way she used to get on mine. Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to admit boyfriends have their uses after all. “There's a shoe rack by the door. It's RIGHT THERE. It's just as easy to put the shoes there. But no-o-o-o, he drops them two feet away, so the hall looks messy. And then after he takes dishes out of the kitchen cupboards, he leaves the doors wide open. WHY?” Kristina was down from school for the weekend and we were chatting at the kitchen table.
"He says it's been too long since we've made love. He says it's not healthy to go for so long like this. He's totally right," said Julie. "But I'm just not feeling the spark." She didn't have to tell me she wasn't feeling the spark. Her face very clearly showed that what she was feeling was...bored. Lana's husband told her that sex is a part of marriage. It's the only thing they do together that they can't do with anyone else, it's the thing that makes a marriage different from all other relationships. Lana could not agree more, she said, pulling a yawn. Now, we all know that sexual boredom is a hazard of a long-term relationship. But there was something else about these women I was picking up on. It just took me some thinking to put my finger on it.
The first question you ask about a vacation of course is, Where are you going to go? The second question for 21st century vacationers, is Are you going to stay in contact with the office? So many professionals these days have to go to great lengths, literally, to unplug, such as getting out of cell phone reach or even out of the country. I did take a vacation from email on my recent vacation and breaking from the digital haze was very restful. But I did something that turned out to be even more refreshing—I took a vacation from the news. My usual routine is to read the morning paper like clockwork. If I can’t, it throws me off.