Jan 30 / Simcha

Choosing Wisely

Although we  cannot always anticipate or avoid situations that we know have the power to undermine relationships (such as chronic exposure to non-marital stress — medical, financial, and so forth), much can be noticed and considered when we set out to make our choice to commit for the long haul.  We know, for example, that couples who share core values and goals have a greater chance for a happy long-term relationship.

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Jan 28 / Simcha

Nagging: Enemy of Love

Based on Elizabeth Bernstein’s Wall Street Journal article, Nagging: Meet the Marriage Killer

Once again – there is good and  bad news.  Starting with the latter….

Nagging — the interaction in which one person repeatedly makes a request, the other person repeatedly ignores it, and both become increasingly annoyed — is a toxic communication issue that is one of the leading causes for discord and divorce. We nag when we feel we can’t get what we want from our partner, and we keep on asking in the hopes it will happen.  A vicious cycle is set in place:  The irritated recipient of the nagging, feeling scolded like a little boy, withdraws in protest, inviting the nagger to nag some more.

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Dec 21 / Simcha

How Parenthood Makes Life Meaningful and How Marriage Makes Parenthood Bearable

A new State of Our Unions report (entitled “When Baby Makes Three”) from the National Marriage Project (NMP)* at the University of Virginia and the Center for Marriage and Families draws on data from three nationally representative surveys (2,870 couples in total) to answer four important questions about contemporary family life:

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Dec 19 / Simcha

Feeding the Emotional Bank Account

From marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman’s experience working with thousands of couples, he determined that a long-term reationship is likely to be successful if, very simply, there are more good moments than bad moments.  (He speaks of a ratio of at least 5 positive to 1 negative interactions as a predictor of a satisfying relationship.)  Where the “emotional bank account” has been fed with a multitude of generous acts, kind words and thoughtful behaviors, negative interactions are more likely to be dealt with with greater equanimity or let slide.

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Nov 27 / Simcha

Five Languages of Love

Different people express love differently.  They also tend to crave those same expressions of love from their partners, and often find themselves  disappointed.

In Dr. Chapman’s best-selling book, The Five Love Languages (over 7 million copies have been sold since it debuted in 1992), the now-73-year-old Southern Baptist pastor and author identifies five primary ways that we tend to express, and consequently interpret, love:

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Nov 21 / Simcha

Love and Lies: Online Dating

Illustration: Graham Roumieu (NYTimes)

The search for love is on…. online.  In October of 2011, the major dating sites had more than than 593 million (!!) visits in the United States, according to the Internet tracking firm Experian Hitwise.  Of the romantic partnerships formed in the United States between 2007 and 2009, 21 percent of heterosexual couples and 61 percent of same-sex couples met online, according to a study by Michael J. Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford.

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Oct 05 / Simcha

Learning to (Really) Listen

Many years ago I attended a powerful and memorable Reflective Listening workshop. The participants were asked to listen carefully as volunteers related a story about something in their lives the found disturbing or confusing. During the first stage of the exercise, the participants were instructed to warm-up their “listening muscles” by listening without any response or reaction whatsoever.

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Oct 03 / Simcha

Tips for Effective Conflict Resolution

Are you in the middle of a dispute – personal or professional?

Be aware that if your main goal is to win, blame or change the other party, the conflict will probably escalate, no matter what skills you use. Only begin a conversation about a conflict if you are truly open to learning something new and to problem-solving.

The irony of resolving conflicts or disputes is that the greatest leverage for change comes from listening to and understanding the other person’s point of view, NOT from convincing them you are right.  When people feel listened to, they are more likely to try to understand you and your stance.

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