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Stop Reacting and Start Relating

Stop Reacting and Start Relating
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Dr. Romance writes: Richard and I will celebrate our 28th anniversary next month, and we agree there’s no better delight than sharing life with a loving partner, when you get along as well as we do. Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage is all about relating instead of fighting, so I thought I’d share an excerpt with you.?

Any willing couple can learn to build a happy relationship if they stop reacting and learn to respond thoughtfully. As an individual you have ideas and beliefs about how certain things in life should be handled, and so does your partner; and we all tend to assume everyone, especially a person who loves us, will see it our way. During dating, you two may have felt that you agreed with each other on everything. But, after you married things changed. You were probably shocked when you realized the object of your affections, your dream come true, the Prince or Princess Charming you fell in love with had different ideas about how life, love, home, finances and children should be.

In thirty years of counseling, I’ve spent many hours teaching couples techniques and information that allows them to communicate and solve problems, rather than fight endlessly about the same things. In twenty five years of marriage, I’ve also learned from my own experience that there’s a big difference between the skills and attitudes one needs to date and fall in love, and what is needed to make married life, home and family work smoothly. There’s a difference between being lovers and being partners, and on top of all that, keeping enough romance and fun alive to make it all feel worthwhile. Those of us who succeed are the blessed ones, the happy ones, and you can be, too.

When you learn a view your relationship as a partnership, rather than a challenge or a competition, you discover new ways to think about sharing and working together to make all your decisions about money, sex and kids mutual ones. With a little information and practice, you can stop fighting and become a successful, happy couple. You can create a partnership that will cause you to feel blessed and happy.

Solving instead of Struggling

According to researcher John Gottman and several other studies, couples who can solve problems successfully together tend to have relationships that last. If you've been through a tough time together, then you’re probably frustrated, hurt and anxious. This erodes your patience and reasonableness with each other, and makes it difficult to think clearly.

Successful couples don’t have any special magic. By trial and error, through counseling, books, and talking to other couples, they figure out how to create a relationship that works. To create a working partnership, you need to teach each other how understand one another, so you can get along. When you’re working together or spending time with each other, instead of complaining, criticizing or resenting each other, try asking each other what you’re thinking about the situation. "I think it would work better to do this--what do you think?" As you listen to each other, and focus on sharing what you know, you’ll grow in understanding and teamwork. Most partners would rather have each other’s company than do it all alone, especially if you're companionable company. The best way to end the ‘who is supposed to do what’ argument is to do it (or at least work it out) together and make it fun. A smart partner will make this as easy as possible -- make it fun, affectionate, and focus on becoming a team. Rather than figure out who’s right, couples need to focus on what works, and find ways to motivate each other to work together.

Celebration + Appreciation = Motivation

Motivation comes from celebration and appreciation. When partners get frustrated, they have a tendency to complain to and criticize each other rather than appreciate each other. If you give in to your urge to criticize, you'll mortally wound your marriage. If you want to motivate each other, you need to share as much appreciation and celebration as possible. Work with each other, thank each other, and make doing the work as much fun as possible.

You Can Stop Fighting

If you've had a difficult time with each other, I’m sorry, and I know you’re frustrated, but if you will renew your patience, start working together to fix the problems, and try the information and exercises in Money, Sex and Kids you will see results in a short time. Most of the couples I counsel succeed in fixing their problems, and you can, too. Looking for a solution is the first step toward success. You can learn how to change focus from fighting to developing the ability to talk about what is going on and focus on solving the problem, which leaves a lot more time for having fun and getting things done. Any willing couple can learn to build a happy relationship, and I wish that for you. Adapted from: Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Destroy Your Marriage (Adams Media) ISBN# 978-1-59869-325-6 © Tina B.Tessina, 2009

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