If you find yourself in that frightening, disorienting position of suspecting an affair, the uncertainty can be torture. How do you find out for sure? What should you do first? These are some of the questions clients ask. So, today I'm giving you three concrete steps you can start out with in order to find out the truth. Examine Yourself Your intuition could be spot-on. Or, you could be over-interpreting what you're observing. The first thing you should do is try to take a long, honest look at yourself. Do you tend to be jealous? Do you have a pattern of being jealous of past partners? Do you tend to be jealous of things other than people, such as work and hobbies? Do you have a pattern of feeling insecure about your partner's feelings?
I like to think I'm pretty down-to-earth. Of course, as a marriage therapist, I'm definitely more touchy-feely than your average person. But I like to teach people communication tools that hopefully won't make them sound like a therapist! And won't make them feel like they have to turn into a therapist in order to have a marriage that's close and connected. One great tool is the "one little thing" technique. It's a way to bring an issue up without things blowing up. But first, let's look at what happens without it. Say my husband and I are in the kitchen getting dinner ready and I spear the pork chops with a fork to take them out of the pan. John: "Don't do that! Use the coated tongs! How many times do I have to tell you that using metal on non-stick pans ruins them?"
"All I need is a little attention," cried Carol. "Is that so hard?" Instead of the warmth and caring she wanted to see in Kevin's face, she just saw a sort of blank look. It made her feel panicky. Was she dealing with this all alone? Carol's mother was in a nursing home recovering from a fall. Thank goodness she didn't break a hip, always the big fear, but still it was a wake up call. It was time to do what they all had been avoiding: arrange a safer living situation for her. We all know the kind of feeling that is. You're dealing with more than your share. You really need a look of understanding, a word of support, a hug, ANYTHING that reassures you your spouse is right there beside you. When you don't get it, it's really easy to go to the dark side: "He just doesn't care." Was Carol right? Was Kevin really just checked out?
Jack was getting pans out of the cupboard when Trish walked in. She set the groceries down on the counter, and then turned to give him a kiss. "How was your day?" "Good," said Jack, hugging her. "Nothing too exceptional. The meeting went well. We came up with some good ideas for how we can speed things up with the web project." "Sounds like progress." Then Jack leaned back and looked at Trish. "I'll bet someone else had a REALLY good day," he said, his eyes sparkling.
Does your spouse feel like a "bad kid" because you're overdoing the criticism? Draw on your own parenting wisdom and soften the blow when you need to raise an issue. Yes, it's possible to complain and make your spouse feel loved and accepted at the same time.
Years ago I read about a great way to figure out what your values really are. It's to ask yourself: "What would I tell my kids?" That'll clear up any confusion you have about what you think really fast. It can also show how you may be falling short of your own standards. Similarly, a good yardstick for how well you're treating your spouse is to ask yourself: "Would I do that if we were dating?" Sad, but true, our perspective on what is 'normal' behavior can change quite a bit after we say, "I do." Let's start with the small stuff. What do you do when you come home in the evening?
This month I want to raise a toast to everyone who has stepped up this year to take the tiger by the tail. The particular tiger I’m talking about is a relationship—a love relationship that somewhere along the way became a source of pain instead of a source of joy. You have to call upon a lot of courage to jump into the ring with that tiger. Because there are so many fears you have to go eye to eye with. First, you have to stop telling yourself everything is really fine. You have to take a long, honest look at your own unhappiness. Yes, it really is that bad. A lot of people feel a sense of failure at this point. After all, everyone else seems to be handling this marriage thing O.K. Of course, if you could see inside the people around you, you’d see they look a lot like you, struggling with the same frustrations.
When your partner snaps at you, it can be irresistible to snap back. But stop: this is a pivot point for married couples. You can nip this fight in the bud. The key is to focus on his desires instead of his defenses. If you can talk about desires, chances are you can resolve your issue.
If you've got that cold and distant feeling (I had that), a diminished interest in what your spouse is saying (check), and maybe a diminished interest in even being with your spouse (I didn't get that far) you need to clear the air. You might feel silly about speaking up. But when you get that dose of caring that you need, your feelings thaw and you feel a rush of closeness that is quite wonderful.
Our instincts often tell us that fighting is the worst thing, but actually letting resentments fester is the number one relationship killer. Resentment can be a very sneaky emotion. Silently, invisibly, it can chip away at your closeness. So, how do you know? How do you know if your every day anger is growing into a dangerous resentment? These benchmarks indicate you've probably got some resentment and you need to speak up. 1. You can't stop thinking about the issue. When you successfully set an issue aside, either you forget about it or it moves to the edges of your consciousness. Maybe your anger pops up now and then, say when something triggers your memory. But you don't feel overwhelmed by it. But if you feel trapped, maybe even controlled by negative thoughts and feelings, then you need to talk. 2. You have a sense of being wronged, whether this is objectively the case or not. As a result, you feel like a victim. You feel a self-righteous anger that feeds on itself. 3. You find your fuse is shorter and shorter every time that comes up.