The essential strategies that promote peaceful living between partners under normal circumstances are beautifully summarized in this morning’s NYTimes – in the context of coping with the stresses of the current pandemic.
Celeste Headlee, who has worked as an NPR and Public Radio host for decades, knows the ingredients of a great conversation: honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening. Author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter (2017), Headlee notes that most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand, but rather to reply — a dynamic that is clearly evident in many dysfunctional relationships.
So many of the struggles of the couples I work with revolve around one or the other’s need to always be right, to hold on tight to ideas, beliefs or perceptions as if their lives depend upon it.
While possibly protecting us from our own self-doubt and uncertainty, this need to always be right “calcifies” our ability to listen well, to be flexible and open-minded, and makes us a lot less fun to be around to boot…. And by regularly dismissing our partner’s ideas and feelings, we are also inadvertently poisoning our relationship.
When someone asks you where you are from … do you sometimes not know how to answer? Writer Taiye Selasi speaks on behalf of “multi-local” people, who feel at home in the town where they grew up, the city they live now and maybe another place or two. “How can I come from a country?” she asks. “How can a human being come from a concept?”
A mother who is emotionally distant, withholding, inconsistent, or even hypercritical or cruel, inflicts multiple wounds on her daughter, writes Peg Streep in her article in Psychology Today.
Author of the Daughter Detox: Recovering from an Unloving Mother and Reclaiming Your Life, and Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt, Streeps writes not as a therapist or psychologist, but “as a fellow traveller.”
Many of us have had the experience of saying something we thought was innocuous, only to have a friend or partner interpret it as a veiled accusation or an attempted guilt-trip. Or the reverse — an innocent comment by the other is perceived as a slight or criticism. Each party experiences and interprets the same situation in very different ways.
The intense emotional impact of divorce often leaves parents filled with anger, hurt and the fear of losing connection with one’s children; in the battle that ensues, the children can become the pawns, suffering trauma that is greater than the breakup itself.
Tragically, several of my clients have had to confront the suicide of a loved one, or find themselves in the position of wanting to support someone who has experienced such a loss. The following list of resources focuses on supporting adolescents and young adults, but is relevant for a wider population as well.