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Articles from April 2010

April 30, 2010

Assume Love for Marketers and Business Owners

Seth Godin says this morning to his huge tribe of business owners and marketers:

"The next time you're sure someone is angry with you, perhaps it's worth considering that you might be mistaken."

It is, whether it's a business contact or a spouse.

But how do you tell if you're mistaken? You start from an assumption about the person and test their behavior against this assumption, instead of testing it against your lizard brain's assumption that you're always at risk.

For business contacts, you can safely assume they have many, many contacts and plenty of stuff going on besides your momentary interaction. When they need you to know they are angry, they will pay attention to you and their anger.

For husbands, wives, and life partners, you can safely assume they love you. Fear of losing you will likely accompany any anger they cannot express directly. Quietly ignoring you, unless repeated multiple times, probably indicates trust and distraction, not anger.

All Men are Dogs

I love Wray Herbert's blog, We're Only Human, and one of his recent posts has me thinking.

Citing Claude M. Steele's research on stereotypes, he writes:

"Steele's unique contribution is taking us inside the mind of the stereotype victim, and it's not a pretty sight. When we're unnerved by an unsavory caricature, our minds race; we're vigilant; we're arguing internally against the stereotype; denying its relevance; disparaging anyone who would use such a stereotype; pitying ourselves; trying to be stoic....We've channeled our limited cognitive power into dealing with the threatening caricature."

Steele and Herbert concern themselves with the effects on academic and sports performance. But what about in our bedrooms and our living rooms? What harm is done when we share our stereotypes, or even just pass along our friends' beliefs or joke once too often about a cultural stereotype:

  • Once a cheater, always a cheater.

  • All men are dogs and care only about sex.

  • Women are a ball and chain.

  • Gay men are effeminate.

  • Lesbian women are pushy.

  • Every marriage has a 50% chance of failing.

  • Women want men just for their money.

By allowing these stereotypes about people like our partners, are we perhaps robbing our partners of their ability to think clearly of ways to handle our shared problems, to be fully engaged in sex, and to be fully present and loving with us?

I suspect so. And I'm sure I am guilty of robbing myself of some of the joy of having a loving life partner by letting stereotypes about married men into our conversations. No more!

What's your take on Wray Herbert's post and Claude M. Steele's research? Could it be affecting your relationship, too?

April 28, 2010

Angry Mate? TV Show has Answers

The Discovery Health Channel on cable TV will be showing Enraged this week, which "follows the dramatic and compelling stories of two families close to the breaking point because of a loved one's explosive anger." Steven Stosny appears, with a glimpse into his powerful Boot Camp for couples dealing with anger.

The schedule:
Sunday, May 2 at 10 pm
Monday, May 3 at 12 am
Tuesday, May 4 at 10 am
Wednesday, May 5 at 12 am
Saturday, May 8 at 12 pm and 9 pm
Sunday, May 9 at 1 am and 4 pm

No one wants to be enraged at their spouse or to have to walk on eggshells. Stosny's got answers. I'll be watching the show. If you do, too, let me know what you think.

April 27, 2010

Finding More Love in the Same Old Marriage

How much easier to love someone you see infrequently and only for special occasions: dinners, shows, trips to the beach. Gratitude, respect, patience, generosity? You get them all, simply because your partner prepares for the event, expects a good time, and knows this might be his or her last time with you if things do not go well.

Dating has a lot going for it.

Of course, your partner expects the same from you. No off days. No competing interests, or there may never be another get-together.

Dating carries this constant risk. At first, the risk creates excitement, keeps you at the top of your game.

Great fun until you need more than a good time, until you need a strong partner through a financial crisis, comfort through a terrifying illness, a caring provider for your kids. Or until you must choose between being this sort of partner or someone less.

I once thought it would be easier to look for the love I needed by divorcing my husband and dating again. If this thought has crossed your mind, or if you want to make sure it never will, let's talk about how to find more love in your same old marriage.

For starters, how about getting your way more often, without become self-centered or withholding love? How about bringing gratitude, respect, patience, and generosity back into your marriage? How about growing as a person without growing apart?

Rather than cover these topics in this blog this time, I will do so by telephone, at no charge other than the cost of the call, at 9 pm eastern time on Wednesday, April 28, 2010. This way, I can get your feedback and your questions, which help me write more useful blog posts. To receive the call-in information, just sign up for my free Enjoy Being Married newsletter, which lists all my free teleclasses and how to participate in them.

April 17, 2010

The Temporary Marriage, through a Child's Eyes

The marvelous Pam Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation writes today about divorce through a child's eyes. Pam is the mother of an adorable five-year-old now. Check out the photo of Pam at that same age, just before her father decided to find himself, minus the wife and kid, and how long it took Pam to find herself again as a consequence.

She doesn't mention if her father ever found himself, or whether what he eventually found was actually less than who he had been while keeping his commitment to the woman he married and the child he fathered.

Pam's post is part of Hugh McLeod's Remember Who You Are series. Life with other people gets difficult at times. It's tempting to think if we offload those other people, life will get better. This is true only when we are in the clutches of someone dangerous, and none of us is dumb enough to leave children behind then.

Better to remember who we are. We are not just frustrated or confused or uhappy. We are also forgiving, compassionate, fair, and the product of all the memories we share with those other people and all the promises we have made to them. Capable of growth. And able to reach out to others for help growing in a new direction.

My April 28th teleclass is all about Finding More Love in the Same Old Marriage. Join us if a temporary marriage is not what you had in mind.

April 12, 2010

Are You Being Taken Advantage Of?

Feel like you've got too much cooking and cleaning to do? Too much grass to mow? Too many chins to wipe? Too much responsibility for bringing in income? Wishing your husband or wife would pick up more of the load?

There are two ways to split responsibility with another adult. One is to divide it all in half. This is next to impossible, as the two of you look at the same situation and see differing responsibilities. And most of us do a terrible job at figuring out how many diaper changes equate to an oil change. You almost certainly end up resentful if you look at it this way.

The other way is to divide it into what you would need to continue doing if your wife or husband died tonight and what you do for love. You get to choose on any given day how much to do for love. And you can call on your mate at any time for help figuring out how to do more easily whatever you would need to do whether married or not. Works a lot better. You can't be taken advantage of.

April 10, 2010

A Marriage Retreat?

Barbara Sher has me thinking about a marriage retreat. The first, most obvious kind, is a couples retreat. Hold it in some quaint little out-of-the-way town with great bed and breakfasts or a country inn. Or on a warm and sunny island south of here.

But I don't do couples work. I do the-marriage-inside-your-head work. Make yourself happier and enjoy your marriage more work. Aha moment work.

So perhaps I should do a retreat for individuals. All women? All men? No. Not so good. We need to hear from each other how our hormones affect our perceptions.

And those in tenuous marriages don't really need intimate conversations with strangers who could accidentally become lovers.

So, a couples retreat. Without couples work. Would it work? What would make it work? I'm looking for ideas.

The Author

Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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