Understanding our Differences

The Problem: 

When we are out with other couples, he’s the life of the party, but once we are home again, he hardly talks with me at all.

The Solution: 

Typically men and women view social conversation quite differently. Women tend to be looking to establish or re-establish feelings of connection and community. Women do this by sharing feelings about what’s going on in their lives, which makes them feel part of a whole group who care.  Men during conversation tend to be demonstrating knowledge, ability, qualities that set them apart – and hopefully above – others.  This comes from thousands of years of needing to be competitive, of being the provider and protector, being able to “win”.  Being the same as, or part of a social group in an equal way does not demonstrate those important qualities.

 Recognizing that is what’s going on when out in public can take the blame out of the situation – men and women naturally just relate differently.  So, when a man is at home, and doesn’t have to “prove” his abilities and knowledge, he can relax and enjoy feeling contentment – which he usually expresses through silence.  Unfortunately, that runs right up against a woman’s typical need to emotionally reconnect and bond through conversation.  Finding brief ways (15 minutes or so) each day to focus on each other, listening, sharing, not trying to fix the other’s problems, but empathetically hearing about each other’s day – done easily through a PAIRS skill such as the DTR – will take care of both of their needs.

The Challenge of Feeling Misunderstood

The Problem:

What can I do about being misunderstood so often?

 

The Solution:

Do you find yourself feeling no matter what you say to those close to you, it doesn’t get heard the way you meant it?  That’s because we all do something called “translating” when we hear others – especially people we have emotional feelings about.  The words come in our ears, but then they have to go through a whole series of relays in our brains that process the words – such as:  how were they looking when they said that?  what was the tone of their voice? Then we think: What did they mean by that? and then, further How do I feel about what I think they meant?   It doesn’t stop there.  Our brain then searches for other times we have felt that way, and what our internal “rules” are about how to respond when we have that feeling.  And then, lastly, we decide how – or if – we are going to respond to what was said.  All that takes just a fraction of a second, but often the “translating” that occurs can completely turn around the intention of the speaker to mean something completely different!

     How to get around all that?  We have to keep checking things out.  If we are puzzled about a response, ask (in a nice way) for the person to clarify or expand on their thoughts on the matter. Often, then, we can have the opportunity to turn around misunderstandings and avoid conflict, too.  But, also, just realizing how we process even simple statements… and how often they can get turned around by the listener’s history or interpretations … can let us relax a little, and not take everything so literally, so quickly. 

 

PAIRS workshops are offered throughout the year.

See www.PAIRSVirginia.com for details.

Take Control of Your Thoughts

Here’s this month’s PAIRS Quick Tips –
Just a minute to invest in your relationship skills! 

The Question:

Is there one simple way I can improve my relationship? 

The Solution:

Find time each day to think positive thoughts about your partner.  Maybe it will be just a few seconds each day, but the more often you do, the better you will feel – and the more positive you will feel about that person.  Often we get caught up in recalling some negative behavior or thing that person said – and we play that tape over and over in our minds.  Instead, decide that it is important to nourish your relationship, and that you will not put any more of your energy into tearing it down.  Find a way to remind yourself several times a day to pause and focus on what you enjoy or appreciate about that person.  Put yourself in charge of what your mind is focusing on.  Even if you are skeptical, try this deceptively simple approach for a couple of weeks, and don’t be surprised as it creates a positive result.  Then, when it does… keep it up! 

PAIRS skills are so simple, and yet so powerful.  I just wish I’d known about them years earlier!  –  Jason C., McLean, VA   

PAIRS workshops are offered throughout the year.

See www.PAIRSVirginia.com for details.

The Challenge of Apologies

Here’s this month’s PAIRS Quick Tips –
Just a minute to invest in your relationship skills!

 

The Problem:

When I apologize, I’m told it’s “not a sincere apology” – what does that mean?

After a mistake is made, it’s hard to apologize.  But even when we do it, often our apology is not accepted, or it even seems to make things worse!

 The Solution:

There are three components to the solution:  timing, how to apologize, and forgiveness.  Regarding timing – the quicker, the better.  Even if you say you want to apologize more fully later, don’t put it off … feelings only intensify.  Discuss ahead of time with those you are close to what kind of apology feels genuine to them.  Some people want words, some a written note, some flowers and cards, some want a specific act of contrition (I’ll wash the dishes for a month…” – some want to be held during the apology.   Find out what really works for THEM (and let them know what works for you, too) – remembering that the approach will probably be different for each of you.  Thirdly, remember that we are all imperfect, and don’t hold others to a standard of perfection that we can’t achieve ourselves.  Forgiveness is a gift to both of you, even though it can be incredibly hard.

 

Before, I just wanted out … PAIRS definitely helped save our marriage.”  –  Jo K., NC  

 PAIRS workshops are offered throughout the year.

See www.PAIRSVirginia.com for details.

Creating Positive Focus

The Question:

Why is it that all I can seem to think about is what’s not going well in my life?

We’re surrounded by negative news, fearful forecasts and stressful lifestyles.  We are designed to be alert to danger or perceived threats to our wellbeing as a protective mechanism.  What is created as protection, however, can in itself cause a problem when chronic negativity and fear affects our relationships and our health.

 The Answer:

While not ignoring real threats, it’s important to balance the fear-focused worries about smaller issues with the reality of what is going well.  Positive Psychology research has found that this balance can be provided in a simple and lasting way —  find a special Journal and “Take time each day to write down three things that went well, and why.”   People who do so are consistently happier and less depressed.  Simple steps to a more positive outlook that takes just a few minutes a day!

 

I am more at peace with myself than I’ve ever been.  PAIRS has opened my awareness.”  –  Barbara S., NC  

 PAIRS workshops are offered throughout the year.

See www.PAIRSVirginia.com for class schedules and descriptions.

PAIRS Virginia
Reston, VA
703-476-5644

Aside

The Question:

Often, I just feel lonely and disconnected, even though I have lots of friends and a caring partner – what can I do? 

Our culture today distracts and discourages us from getting much physical touch.  We sit at computers in cubicles, isolate ourselves with video games, I-pods, social networking on the internet – during which there is no in-person physical connection in hearing, sight, scent or touch from another human. This disconnectedness has been shown to lower immune functions and increase illness.

The Answer:

Several sources suggest that everyone needs much more physical touch than we are probably getting – at least four hugs a day for healthy survival, eight hugs a day for emotional strength and 12 hugs a day to really grow and be empowered.  As research continues, the number only gets higher.  Stop and think about just how often you give or get a hug.  We need to reach out for friends, family, loved ones and ask for a real hug.  If we don’t have enough friends we can comfortably and appropriately hug – we need to make more!  We aren’t talking about just “it would be nice” to connect more – we are talking about our healthy survival!  Read the excellent book “Love and Survival” by Dr. Dean Ornish for the research and data that shows this clearly! 

PAIRS shows how to break down the barriers that build up over time in an intimate relationship.  Great insights!  Great tools!.”  –  Carol C., FL

  

PAIRS workshops are offered throughout the year.

See www.PAIRSVirginia.com for details.

Aside

 

The Question:

My friends and my partner say they know what I’m thinking – and they are wrong!  What’s going on?

 

I frown because I notice a strange pain in my knee, and my partner sees the look, thinks I’m upset about what she just said, and storms out of the room!  This is a case where it’s not just that others misunderstand us – it’s that based on their incorrect assumptions, they act towards us using that false information!

 

The Answer:

When it comes to mind reading, we don’t really do it very well.  Recent studies show that “strangers read each other with an average accuracy rate of 20 percent. Close friends and married couples nudge that up to 35 percent.  And almost no one ever scores higher than 60 percent.”  Mind reading can be like poison to a relationship.   We need to check out our assumptions as quickly as possible, rather than building a big problem out of nothing, and often making ourselves miserable for hours.  Check it out!

 

PAIRS has helped me to better understand my own emotions, accept them, and share them in a productive way.  I have better self-esteem and fuller appreciation of life now.”  –  Nell N., FL

  

 

PAIRS workshops are offered throughout the year.

See www.PAIRSVirginia.com for details.