I love him but he's driving me crazy!

broken-heart

Dear Ron,

My boyfriend and I are in our late twenties, have been dating for almost a year, and are seriously considering becoming engaged. He has many wonderful qualities, including being reliable, a hard worker, very affectionate, and always willing to talk about anything. My concern is regarding some personality differences that have come up between us. 

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Not taking ourselves too seriously is … a serious business!

Not taking ourselves too seriously is … a serious business!

If you’ve ever had to deal with a child who is devastated and in tears because of a disappointment or setback they have had to suffer, you know how hard it can be not to find it even slightly amusing, or be overwhelmingly tempted to patronise and pretend that the whole thing really isn’t that important and will blow over. 

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Practical Ways to Put your Spouse before your Kids.

Practical Ways to Put your Spouse before your Kids.

I’ve heard many times that in order to truly love your kids, you need to love your spouse first. 

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Be Slow to Anger

Be Slow to Anger

This sounds like a no-brainer, but I swear children are hard-wired to find our weak spots.


Even babies are out to get us or so it feels, like when our 2 year old wakes up at 1 or 2 am and won’t go back to sleep in her cot so ends up in the marital bed pummeling me in the back with both feet. Eventually she falls asleep while I lie awake for the next two hours, hopefully mustering up enough energy to carry her back to her own room and bed. Or like the time she so was pleased with herself at pouring full glasses of water over the brand new sofa (thank God it was only water!) she slow-clapped her efforts, and even though I laugh about it now, I wasn’t laughing then.

Biologists like Katherine Hinde know that babies cry at night for a reason. They’re not trying to make us miserable; they want to eat and survive. Even when my 6 year old son constantly leaves practically all of his toys out strewn across his bedroom floor all the time; it isn’t because he’s lazy about keeping tidy (though he needs to work on it) but because he wants to explore every permeation of his imaginary world with all of the objects (yes all at the same time) because he’s wanting to be creative and feel relaxed and happy about enjoying those toys without restriction or inhibition. I can’t be constantly annoyed about normal childhood development, nor do I have a right.  God is slow to anger, too. “Even when he scolds us, he does so with a caress,” Pope Francis reminds us. For me, this means no yelling because I had a bad day at work, or because I’m stressed from lack of sleep and it feels like we’ll never get out the front door on time for the school run or catching the train to work etc.  It means forgiving mistakes quickly, and disciplining only when it’s for my children’s own good.  In short it really means embracing not just the first bit of the famous ‘Serenity Prayer” but the lesser known second half too.

Serenity Prayer
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 
Amen.

Edmund Adamus

 

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The Importance of Validation

The Importance of Validation

Validation of feelings, not parking, although parking could be important, too.


Let me tell you a story. Long, long ago there was a charming man and a stunning woman and they felt like they were meant for each other. There was chemistry, they had complimentary personalities, and everyone thought they were perfect together. They got married, and their wedding day was a dream come true. The Mass was beautiful, he wrote the song for their first dance, and their friends and family traveled from all over the country for a great celebration. It seemed like happily ever after.

Then, reality hit. He liked to sleep with a fan blowing on his face. She couldn’t sleep with a fan on and just wanted to be covered with layers and kept warm. He liked to unwind and do nothing, she wanted to be busy doing something all the time. They just felt like they were on different pages!

One day, they wondered if they should have even gotten married. He owned his own business, and would call his wife in the middle of the day to say that something went wrong, or got pushed back, and his schedule was ruined. She tried to fix it by making a plan to get his schedule back on track.

Then he would come home. She would complain about how messy the house was and how exhausting the kids were all day, and he would tell her to clean as she went and give the kids more quiet time. Neither of them felt heard, and eventually they stopped sharing how they felt. He kept his business worries inside, and she grew to resent him for his job outside the house and how he never seemed stressed or shared what was on his mind.

This is a true story about my husband and I. Neither of us knew how to validate each other’s feelings, and so we never felt heard. My husband just stopped calling to vent and gave up on sharing his feelings, because he didn’t want me to fix anything, he just needed to let off some steam. I, meanwhile, continued to complain every night when he got home because I just wanted to feel that he understood how hard it can be to take care of 3 small kids all day long.  He would try to one-up me by explaining how tiring and physically demanding his job was. We were butting heads constantly.


When he came home without validating my feelings, he would start picking up, and then I felt like he was secretly holding it against me that I didn’t have time to clean before he came home. He was sticking it to me that he could clean up better than I could. Really, he was just trying to help me be less stressed, but I didn’t know his ulterior motives!

I didn’t get what validation was at first. I just seemed like you were a parrot, repeating what your spouse said. Why should I repeat what he just said, when I could ask how I could help instead? Doesn’t that seem more practical and loving? But what validation does is show 3 things:

1.     Acceptance – it’s okay for you to have this problem, to feel the way you are feeling.

2.     Understanding – I see where you are coming from, I understand how you feel.

3.     Empathy – I am putting myself if your shoes, and I am feeling what you are feeling.

The fixing and the coming up with solutions can happen later. For my husband, he could often figure something out himself after he was able to share his feelings and then have time to think about it.

When he came home, all my husband needed to say was, “I heard the baby was up last night, you must be tired after taking care of the kids all day!” And then I could feel safe, and let him help me pick up without trying to pick a fight about it.

Then my husband could call at lunchtime saying, “This is the last straw. I’m going to look for a new job, because I can’t do this anymore.” In the past, I would say, “no, you can’t quit your job because your family is depending on you! All you need is to tell the customer this, go buy this new piece, rearrange your schedule to look like this, etc.” But now I know to just listen. “You feel like you want to quit your job, and nothing is working out for you today. That is so frustrating!” By the time he gets home for dinner, he has figured out a solution to his work dilemma and can keep on working.  He had a safe place to share his feelings and time to work out a solution, and it doesn’t lead to an argument or bottled up feelings.

Through validation, we can share what’s on our heart and know we are being heard. Our relationship feels safe instead of feeling like a ticking time bomb. Rather than a breakdown of communication, validation is leading us to deeper communion on an emotional level.  Our marriage will always require effort, but there still can be a happily ever after! Validation is an important way to make that happen.

Click here to watch this award winning short film called Validation!  Also make sure to visit The Catholic Communication Cure, and try the free talks

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Making oneself understood!

Making oneself understood!

Together with some colleagues this week I experienced some in-service training on “Managing Difficult People.” (We even got a certificate for it!) 

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"Weekly Best of" Feedback June 22nd-26th

"Weekly Best of" Feedback June 22nd-26th

"Too bad everyone isn't forced to take a class like this before they get married!" Theresa

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