5 Scary Tricks

5 Scary Tricks That Make You Confused in a Relationship

We’ve all learned how to move toward pleasure and away from pain in our relationship interactions. When Professional Women (or others) get caught up in confusing interactions, it’s “normal” to question our “normal.”  As kids, it’s okay to play “trick or treat.” But when it comes to adult relationships, it can be rather scary. That’s why we need clarity about the 5 scary tricks that make you confused in a relationship. Clarity is the first step of awareness to change what I define as “dance patterns.”

The five scary tricks include: gaslighting, guessing, grumpy, gloomy, and gregarious.

Scary Trick # 1 – Gaslighting

The term “gaslighting” has become a way to help identify manipulative behaviors of men toward their “submissive” wives. It comes from the 1944 movie “Gaslight” which depicts a man with ulterior motives. He fools her with missing pictures, strange footsteps, and dimming the gaslight to make her believe she’s crazy.

A form of gaslighting might look like this. You had a conversation with your spouse about your weekend plans. Then when the weekend arrives, they tell you “we never talked about it.”

The term gaslighting has become a way to help identify manipulative behaviors of controlling spouses toward their submissive partners. Click To Tweet

If you feel crazy in your relationship, this might be a pattern to throw you off kilter. Likely, the situation is crazy and not you, which brings us to Scary Trick # 2 – guessing game.

Scary Trick # 2 – Guessing Game

Does your spouse like to honor you with surprises? And you like them?  If so, this trick may not apply. But if he or she knows that you don’t like to be surprised, yet they keep you guessing, you’ve likely been caught up in scary trick #2, guessing game.

Your need to plan or know what to expect. That idea is worthy of respect. When you are left in the dark over upcoming events, it’s a form of control. Of course, we’re not talking periodic surprises like Christmas or birthday gifts. Instead, this pattern is designed to keep you in a subservient position.

Here’s an example:

Wife – “I’d like to get a babysitter for Saturday so we can go on that date we talked about.”

Husband – “Let’s just wait and see.”

Several days pass and she’s left wondering. She’s on the verge of nagging, stressed, and in need of a date. Then his mother shows up on Saturday ready to babysit so he can “surprise her.”

Your need to plan or know what to expect is worthy of respect. Click To Tweet

Both gaslighting and guessing are scary tricks in adult relationships. Which brings us to Scary Trick # 3 – grumpy.

Scary Trick # 3 – Grumpy

An empathic spouse wants to understand her grumpy partner. “I know he’s worked hard to provide for us” are excuses I hear in the counseling office. But in reality, she is enabling this scary trick # 3.

We are all responsible for our own emotions. If stress is taking a toll on you at work, it’s time to learn effective coping strategies. If your grumpiness is a symptom of insomnia, it’s time to learn good sleep hygiene.

We are all responsible for our own emotions and attitudes. Click To Tweet

But if being grumpy is a consistent relationship pattern and your spouse continues to make excuses for you, this is a scary trick that leads to relationship doom. As the fourth-deadliest horsemen that Dr. Gottman identifies as “Contempt,” this long-term grumpiness will doom a marriage. And that leads us to address Scary Trick # 4 – Gloomy.

Scary Trick # 4 – Gloomy

It’s hard not to be judgmental here. Because scary trick # 4 could easily be classified as a type of depression called Persistent Depressive Disorder.

As a “disorder,”(which used to be called Dysthymia) it is a low grade depression that lasts two or more years. It doesn’t present as suicidal depression, but it interferes with normal social, occupational, and relationship functioning. This is easily treatable with proper therapy.

But the “scary trick” side of gloomy is when the person chooses not to get treatment. Instead, they live with it until it becomes part of their character. They have subconsciously chosen to live a small, narrow, negative life. They are unaware of how others around them can get sucked into a black hole. It affects the entire family and puts the developing minds of growing children at risk.

This is likely an unaware “scary trick.” And it’s vitally important to surround yourself with positive friendships apart from the gloomy one. In other words, don’t get caught up believing that you are the only one who can “cheer him up.” We cannot do for others what only they can do for themselves. And if this “scary trick is coupled with Scary Trick # 5 – gregarious – we have a problem.

Scary Trick # 5 – Gregarious

Of course, home is the place to relax and be yourself. But if your loved one keeps on showing you the worst part of him and shows acquaintances the best, it’s time be aware of scary trick # 5 – gregarious.

Gregarious is an adjective meaning friendly, sociable, and outgoing. Everybody enjoys being around your spouse. But when consistently experiencing his grumpiness with you, it’s time for clarity and change.

In summary, these 5 scary tricks can give us clarity. We are not the ones who are “crazy.” But instead, we might be caught in “crazy” interactions – gaslighting, guessing game, grumpy, gloomy and gregarious.

If you are on the receiving end of these scary tricks, it’s time to take a step back. Notice what’s really going on. Avoid thinking of yourself as being “the only one who understands” the other person. You deserve to be clear and confident in your relationships. Most of all, you need to feel safe.

Your next step

Sign up for a complimentary workshop, “Relationship Resilience For Professional Women.”

How Long Does it Take to Improve Your Marriage?

When it comes to couples counseling, we all want to know how much time, energy, and money it will take to improve. A common question is: How long does it take to improve your marriage? But what they’re really asking is “How long will it take for us to get the momentum we need once we come to counseling?

To improve, it takes a lifetime

Our friends who’ve been married for more than forty years tell me they’ve had several different marriages. And they also say they are different spouses than they were when they said, “I do.” In essence, they’ve been married to several different people, even though it’s the two of them.

All stages of marriages open up dimensions of our journey that we couldn’t imagine before. And each transition moves us into a “different” marriage. Most of us began with a lustful romance. Then we build careers and have children. We settle into an ebb and flow of adjustments. At every turn we have opportunities to grow and grow up. Each juncture is a choice to become aware and intentional.

Our challenge is to risk vulnerability and intimacy with ourselves and our spouse. Click To Tweet

It’s common to become misaligned when one spouse grows while the other doesn’t. But changes are inevitable. And we need to grow beyond messy relationships and marriages. Our challenge is to risk being vulnerable.

To get short-term help, it takes categories

Couples who seek counseling usually fall into one of three categories. They are: crisis mode, control mode, or construction mode.

Crisis Mode

The first is crisis mode. One or both believe that therapy is the last resort. If it doesn’t work, one or the other has made plans for a catastrophic exit like divorce.

Just to be clear, crisis mode is not the same as counseling. Most couples on the verge of divorce need additional help to get them out of crisis mode. And to clarify, a marital crisis is not the same as a mental health crisis.

In addition, couples’ work is not appropriate for those hiding affairs. Nor is it feasible for those with severe addictions, depression, or mania. Rather, it’s absolutely crucial to get out of crisis mode and assess the damage before counseling can begin.

Some therapists are more skilled than others in handling crisis cases. But do not assume that crisis management is the same as counseling.

Unfortunately, some claim that couples counseling leads to divorce. But they don’t take into account that crisis management and counseling are different. Also, some counselors have more training than others to assess for emotional and verbal abuse within the relationship. Ignoring these and other crucial factors make couples counseling ineffective.

Couples counseling is not appropriate if certain other issues interfere. Rather, it causes more damage to both individuals if underlying manipulation, secrecy, fear, or a mental health crisis is going on.

Control Mode

The second major category is the control mode. One feels the need for change and the other doesn’t. Neither wants to divorce, but if they don’t get help, one is sure the marriage is heading in that direction. An undercurrent agenda of “social engineering” prevails. Social engineering is a term I use for our unconscious tendency to control others. The control mode is where one person wants the comfort of sameness while the other needs change.

Construction Mode

The last major category is construction mode. Premarital or newlywed couples come in to make sure they’re on the right track. Transitions such as parenthood, empty-nest, or blended families fall in this category. They both want to build healthy and growing partnership habits. They want to be proactive.

It’s always wise to establish the counselor/client relationship before you need one. Think of how we want to be established with a primary care physician. When issues arise, we have familiarity and trust of the counselor and therapy process.

To grow, it takes change

None of us wants to talk about the “D” word. Whether that “D” means death or divorce, it’s a subject we avoid. But if we don’t face endings, we’re unable to become unstuck from our relationship messes.

What’s important is to honor the worth, value, and dignity of both individuals in a relationship. To get beyond the messiness, it may be time to realize an old marriage is not working anymore. It needs to change.

Think of changes as a divorce from toxic patterns, reactions, and unhealthy dances. We need to say goodbye to the old and hello to different ways of being. Otherwise, the commitment to a destructive marriage degrades both individuals. Long-term toxic patterns in relationships account for stress-related illness or even premature death.

To get beyond the messiness, it may be time to realize an old marriage is not working anymore. It needs to change. Click To Tweet

How long does it take to improve your marriage? It’s a life-time of growth throughout the categories and stages that marriage can provide. And the right counselor can show us how in addition to couples who are doing it.

Your next step

Buy One Get One Free for “Beyond Messy Relationships” book.

Photo by Taras Lazer from Pixabay

Soulmate

How To Be a Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul

It’s a continual process to balance how to be a soulmate without losing your soul. It takes attitude changes and pressurized reality to learn how to balance between “we” and “me.”

When we travel by plane, we’re used to hearing the flight attendant’s safety instructions. He or she usually says something like this.

“If there’s a loss of cabin pressure, the panels above your seat will open, and oxygen masks will drop down. . . Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others.”

If we attempt to help others before adjusting our own mask, we may end up passing out. Then we can’t help anyone. We need to take that same advice for our relationships.

We need to care for our own soul-needs before attempting to care for others. Click To Tweet

It takes attitude changes to be a soulmate

Marriages are like a pressurized cabin at various times. They are not so even-keeled. We experience turbulence and high altitudes. Storms and fair weather affect our differences. Our ears pop. The ride gets rough. We’re required to stay in our seats with seatbelt securely fastened at times.

Early on in romance, our differences are exciting, novel, and energizing. After marriage, and sometimes before, our differences can become outright annoying. That’s when they can escalate into major conflicts.

Other life transitions expose the soul storms of a marriage. Raising children, career development, loss, and core differences create turbulence in life. But we can get beyond messy marriages.

Many Christian couples vow, “The two of us are one.” It doesn’t take long to realize one or both are subconsciously saying things like this.

We two are one. And yes, I’m the one.

Or, in a patriarchal or what some consider a “biblical” marriage, a bride may live her life like this.

We two are one. And, yes, he’s the one.

As years go by, both lose opportunities to develop their character. They lose their individual selves as well as the relationship. One of them becomes invisible. The other one gets caught up in self-delusions. Neither has insights into their own souls.

Neither one attempts to adjust their own oxygen mask. They’re too busy trying to improve, fix, or help the other. They become bitter, resentful, angry and resistant. Their world gets smaller. They become stuck. Or, figuratively, they pass out.

Life transitions expose the soul storms of a marriage. Raising children, career development, loss, and core differences create turbulence in life. Click To Tweet

It takes pressurized reality to be a soulmate

It takes two to honor each other and respect one another’s differences. And it still takes two to do that in a relationship. Here’s points to consider.

  1. Conflict is necessary for personal and relationship awareness.
  2. Don’t avoid it or run from it.
  3. Don’t criticize your partner or try to win them over to your side.
  4. Instead, be open. Listen to understand. There are more than two ways to resolve a conflict.
  5. Seek counseling or outside help to resolve resolvable conflicts. And to adjust to unresolvable conflicts.

World-renown researcher, Dr. John Gottman, gives us clarity. Sixty-nine percent of happily married couples have unresolved conflict. The difference between the “masters” and the “disasters” are this. The “masters” are the ones who adjust and accept their partner’s differences. The “disasters” allow perpetual resentment and negativity to grow.

Here are ideas on how to adjust our own soul mask

  1. Do breathe deeply when you feel reactive, irritable, angry, or triggered by your spouse. Slow down. You’ll get clarity when you do.
  2. Be curious about what’s going on inside of you. Ask yourself, “What’s unfinished in my life? Why did this situation or comment make me feel this way? What is the meaning I created from that interaction?”
  3. To increase self-awareness, reflect on this question: “How is my spouse experiencing me?”
  4. See your spouse as a gift from God. When you do, you can develop an attitude of thankfulness. You’ll nurture your soul and grow your character. Be willing to accept your spouses’ issues as helping yoube more understanding.
It takes two to honor each other and respect one another’s differences. Click To Tweet

The cabin pressure of your marriage will change. Those oxygen masks will drop. Always adjust yours first. Balance the “we” and “me” in romance and marriage. Your beautiful life is worth keeping your soul intact.

I’m writing more on the steps for balancing the “we” and “me” in romance and marriage. So, let’s stay in touch in the meantime.

For now, sign up for updates and preview on my new book

Beyond Messy Marriages: Divine Invitations Toward Your Authentic Self

 

Feature Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

Relieve Stress

Best Way To Relieve Stress Immediately

There’s a method I’ve discovered as the best way to relieve stress immediately. I’ve shared it with my clients and use it in my home every day. It’s called the seven-minute rule. What is the seven-minute rule? I’m glad you asked. Before I tell you how it works can you relate to these scenarios?

You Can Relieve Stress Immediately if. . .

  • You come home from work after a stressful day expecting to relax. When you walk in the house, it’s a wreck. No one cared to pick up after themselves. They must be lazy, you think.
  • Piled up bills are laying on the kitchen counter. The TV is blaring. The children don’t notice you because they’re on their iPads. They haven’t done their chores or homework. Or, they could at least be outside.
  • Your spouse is stressed and gives you the crying baby. And also expects you to change the dirty diaper. In an irritated tone, you ask, “what have you done all day?”
  • Your voice is firm with aggravation. The family accuses you of being mean. But it’s the only way you can get your point across.

As a result, we end up with an “I-work-so-hard-all-day-and-no-one-cares” attitude. Whatever our story, we find ways to escape the stress. Some do it by working late. Others do it by spending hours on social media. Those methods and others provide an immediate reward: dopamine, the brain’s pleasure chemical.

But, it doesn’t take long before our relationships become more distant. Those who matter most seem like strangers. And in some cases, enemies. Then we make up stories in our minds about their intentions to make our lives miserable. The results produce no teamwork in the family. Nor do we have partnership in the marriage.

Don't let mismanaged stress make relationships distant. Otherwise, those who matter most seem like strangers. Click To Tweet

Here’s how to change that cycle.

Relieve Stress Immediately —The Seven Minute Rule

The seven-minute rule is a technique that transforms stressful situations. With consistent use, we can create relaxing and peaceful connections in family relationships. What we create in a family environment can benefit in other ways. It also gives us skills to create more productive work environments.

Here’s how it works:

  • Consider seven minutes before or after any transition as sacred space. What do I mean by sacred space? It’s the place in-between a relationship that holds only gratitude and heart-to-heart connection. Nothing else. There’s no irritability, demands, criticisms or other negative interactions. That includes confrontations, stern looks, sarcasm, and cynicism.
  • The seven minutes of sacred space and time is taking deep breaths. That sacred space means slowing down to be loving and respectful. It’s focusing on being compassionate and tender with our loved ones. Also, it’s being kind and gentle regardless of the environment. It’s having an attitude of curiosity rather than judgement.
  • Let the children know you’re happy to be with them. You love them just as they are. You might say to your spouse with light-hearted honor, “I can’t believe I’m married to you! I am SO blessed.”
  • It’s your choice to love unconditionally in that seven minutes of sacred space. You take time to connect and value your relationships.

Examples of the 7-Minute Rule to Relieve Stress

  • Set the timer on your smart phone for seven minutes after pulling up in the driveway.
  • Put a reminder on your dashboard with a 3” x 5” card that reads “7-minute rule”.
  • Take deep breaths in and out with a mantra such as this. Breathe in thankfulness. Breath out stress. Or say, “I breathe in appreciation and I breathe out criticism.” Take about three or four deep breaths with the same mantra. Use that attitude for the following seven minutes of sacred time.

As you enter your home, leave your stress behind. Use deep breathing and then look into the eyes of your children and spouse. Be interested in their world.

It’s as if you’ll be walking onto “holy ground” in those seven minutes. Use it to connect, appreciate, and see the world through the eyes of your loved ones. Be willing to live in the present.

Use the 7-minute rule to connect, appreciate, & see through the eyes of your loved ones. Make transitions sacred. Click To Tweet

Relieve Stress through these 7-minutes:

  • Before bed
  • When you wake up
  • Right before leaving the home
  • After you arrive at your destination
  • While sitting down for a meal
  • As you finish your meal

Any transition is seven minutes of sacred and holy space.

Try it out for a week, (7 days) and see how it works for you. I challenge you to try it for 30 days. And I’d love to hear your comments.

Here’s Your next step.

Sign up for updates for my book in progress: Beyond Messy Marriages

 

Unsplash photo by John Sekutowski

 

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