Tag Archives: marriage

How to Handle Disagreements In a Long Distance Relationship

Don't Leave Me by abhinav.s

Don't Leave Me by abhinav.s

 Being in a military marriage, I have had to learn to handle all aspects of long distance relationships.  One of the most important things to learn in love at a distance is how to handle disagreements effectively.  By ‘effectively’ I mean in a way that allows both people to communicate their grievances and frustrations while also finding common ground to resolve the conflict. 

Airing Frustrations

I have come to realize how very important it is for me to be able to say what is bothering me.  It is also important to me that my husband acknowledges my feelings.  In turn, I realize that it may be just as important for my husband to be able to tell me if there is something that he does not agree with or that displeases him.  Communicating our feelings to each other is the first step in resolving a disagreement. 

When There Are Only Words

In long distance relationships, exchanges may occur only through verbal or written communications.  This may be particularly hard during a disagreement because couples do not have the luxury of communicating an angry or emotional disposition through facial expressions and body language, leaving only words.  Words without the context of physical expressions leave a lot open for interpretation by the other person. 

For example, when a couple is together and the man says something that is upsetting to the woman, she may give him a look of anger, turn her back and walk away.  Without words, she has communicated that she is not pleased.  In such a case, he has the opportunity to express his sorrow by putting his arm around her or kissing her softly.  Conversely, he may express his anger by leaving the room and slamming the door.  This exchange of emotion might all occur without the utterance of any words.

Couples in long distance relationships may not have this luxury.  I do realize that, through video media enabled via the Internet, a couple may actually have the ability to see each other in real time.  Such media would make it much easier to exchange not only words, but also emotional gestures in facial expressions and body language.

But, what if such technology is not available?  Many times in military relationships, spouses or loved ones are deployed to remote areas without the network capability to accommodate video media.  For these couples, there may be very few options for expressing non-verbal expressions of displeasure aside from angrily hanging up the phone or uncomfortable silences on the line.  For these distant lovers, an emotional exchange might only occur through words.

If There Are Only Words, Be Sure to Use Constraint

In a long distance relationship, words should be savored.  They should be used deliberately and mindfully.  In an argument, however, they may be used pointedly, harshly, angrily, hurtfully or impulsively, steering you far away from handling the disagreement effectively. 

Using constraint means taking a lot of the emotion out of the words.  It is certainly appropriate to express feelings of sadness and anger in response to words or other actions that have caused such emotions.  But, exercising constraint, so as not to express overly emotional impulsive responses is important for resolving the conflict.

Think about it.  When are you most likely to empathize with someone else’s feelings?  When are you most willing to listen to their side of the story?  It is probably not when that other person is yelling, screaming or saying very hurtful things to you.  In the same way, your lover will be most willing to work with you toward resolving a conflict when you are able to communicate your feelings calmly and clearly.

Think About What You Want to Say Before Saying It

It is often helpful to take some time, once you have removed yourself from an emotionally charged situation, to think about what has triggered such a reaction in you and how you would like to respond.  After taking time to reflect on your feelings, you should be able to tone down the emotion when you communicate your conflict.  But, doing so, however, does not mean denying that the emotion has emerged.

If you are angry, communicate that you are angry.  If you are sad, communicate that as well.  It is not what you say, but how you say it.  Communicate directly by stating, “I was angry when you. . .” or “when you said that to me, I was sad.”  If you think about exactly what caused your reaction and which emotion was elicited, you will be able to state this clearly and calmly to your lover during your next communication. 

It might be helpful to communicate through a writing, such as an email or letter.  In a writing, you will have the benefit of being able to ‘rehearse’ your communication.  And, if you are not pleased with what you have stated, you can erase it and write it again.  Be careful to use constraint in your writing as well. An angry writing will backfire as it does not give the person reading the opportunity to respond in a timely manner, which can leave that person feeling hostile toward you without the opportunity to defend his- or herself.

Even if you don’t want to send an email or letter, it is still very effective to write down your feelings when reflecting on the thing or things that have upset you.  Writing down your feelings helps you to organize your thoughts.  You might even have your ‘first response’ via this writing, allowing you to include all of the angry emotion and all of the hurtful words that you would have thrown at your lover had you not been using constraint.

Allow Your Partner to Respond – Listen

Once you have communicated your feelings, allow your partner the opportunity to respond in an unemotional way.  This allows both of you to get to the bottom of your disagreement and resolve the conflict, reach common ground, or agree to disagree.  It is likely that the response to your mindful words will be one with equal constraint.  This kind of communication avoids the sort of emotionally charged statements that can inflict great harm in your relationship.  Hopefully, through discussing your problem in an unemotional manner, you and your lover can understand each other and resolve the disagreement. 

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship?  How would you handle disagreements?

 WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Glimpse

Here is a Glimpse from next week’s schedule:

Make Money Monday:  From Employer to Employee.  I will look at why some are choosing to reenter the workplace after years of entrepreneurship or pursuing alternative income sources.  I encountered individuals that have done this or are thinking of doing this and it comes as kind of a blow to my own psyche.

Techy Tuesday:  Home Office Series: I will continue the discussion on finding the right Internet service for your home office.  I will discuss appropriate speeds and whether you should purchase separate Internet plans for your residence and your home office. 

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: Handling Disagreements in a Long Distance Relationship.  When your spouse is not with you, disagreements can be very delicate.  There are ways to soften the blow and still communicate your feelings. 

Tough Life Thursday: Discontinued Until Further Notice

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day.  I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! .  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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What Kind of Woman Are You?

Today, a girlfriend of mine and I were having a discussion about a couple of women we have known in our lives and how they have conducted relationships and romantic affairs.  I think we concluded that when it comes to relationships, there are quite often three types of women. Which type are you?

The Woman Who Should Have Left Her Relationship Long Ago

This is the woman in a relationship that is physically or emotionally abusive or borderline abusive.  Many times, if this woman is not being physically hurt, she doesn’t even realize that she is being or has been abused. 

This relationship fails to meet up with any iota of a decent relationship.  It is a situation where, for a long time, this woman has endured a man who is noncommittal, disloyal, or generally unsupportive in the relationship.

My girlfriend calls this woman “Cookie Johnson.”  Earleatha “Cookie” Johnson is the wife of retired Los Angeles Lakers basketball star, Magic Johnson.  Throughout their tumultuous relationship, Cookie stood by Magic through his unwillingness to commit, his infidelity, and ultimately in spite of his contracting HIV as a result of unprotected sex with other women.  In a 1992 interview, Magic indicated that he had unprotected sex with so many women, he could not pinpoint who infected him. 

In the same interview, Cookie stated that after they were married and Magic revealed to her that he was infected, she could not leave because she loved him and because she did not want to deal with matters on her own.

As of that interview, Magic was resolved that he was doing God’s work to spread his message and was finally settled enough to be married to Cookie.  Cookie was resolved in supporting this man that she had been building love with for 14 years despite all of his offenses on her. 

Here, there is the ever-present question of whether Magic would have continued to sleep around had he not been infected.  It is quite possible that if Magic has become a faithful man, Cookie had no control or direct influence over that decision.  He essentially doesn’t have much of a choice now.

If you asked me, I would say that it is a relationship that Cookie should have left a long time ago.

The Woman Who Left Only to Pursue the Same Man Over and Over Again

Some women may eventually be wise enough or fortunate enough to leave a relationship with a man that treats her poorly only to find and date the same kind of guy, over and over again.  Thus, even though she has technically left one particular relationship, she effectively repeats that same relationship.

But, she is different from Cookie Johnson.  Although she is fighting the same battle, it is with different men.  It is hard to say who is in the better situation.  Cookie Johnson got her man in the end, but paid such a high price that it could never be worth it.  She paid with her life, her self-esteem, and her emotional freedom. 

At the same time, the woman who dates repeat offenders may not get the man in the end.  To the extent that she continues the same pattern of dating, she is likely to end up embittered and alone.  She has the potential for emotional freedom, but she has to find it.  She can to grow from her mistakes but must first recognize her relationship patterns as mistakes.

The Woman Who Left, Learned from Her Mistakes, and Moved On to a Better Man

Then there is the woman who may have had tumultuous relationships in the past.  But, she has recognized the poor nature of previous relationships, and has chosen to learn from her own relationship choices and pursue a better man and a better relationship. 

This woman recognizes that she only has a finite period on this earth.  She realizes that she can be treated well by a man.  She recognizes that there are men out there that will never make her question her values or her worth.  She knows that she must look inside of herself to determine her own worth and the values she possesses.

It may take most of her life to get to this place, but she is here now.  She is happy and content because before she found any man that was good to her, she found herself.  And since she can be clear about who she is, her new choices in men will undoubtedly be clear. 

Most importantly, if she makes another mistake about the man she has chosen (his timing, his infidelity, his failure to be supportive in the relationship), she is not afraid to make a quick exit to stay on course to finding a better man, and ultimately the right man.

Have you encountered any of these women in your life?  Are you one of these women?

WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Things They Share Are Cherishable

Today is my mom’s birthday and my stepdad is taking us to a baseball game this evening.  It will be a gorgeous night and I am looking forward to spending the evening with them. 

I will miss them both very much when I leave. We’ve been a close-knit bunch for a good part of my life. 

As a child growing up, my mom reared me as a single parent until I was in high school.  For the first part of my life, she was both mommy and daddy.  She taught me how to be an independent woman. Although a little later in my life, she has also shown me some cherishable things about married life. 

My stepdad entered my life when I was a teenager.  At that time, I wasn’t used to having a man around, but he soon became a fixture.  He married my mom and we became a family.  In hindsight I am thankful to have him and his extended family as part of our family.  But, I was a reluctant teen and slow to fully accept his presence in our lives.

Theirs would be the first marriage that I would live within.  Although my grandma is still alive, my grandpa died long before I was born.  So although I’d often hear my grandma speak about life when he was around, I would never experience my grandparents’ love or marriage in real time.

Once my mom got married I would witness for the first time what it meant to live inside of marriage.  It would be my first lesson in marital support and compromise.  It would be the first time I saw marital love. 

Through all of my teenage awkwardness and growth and maturity as a young woman, I now know that there are qualities about their relationship, in addition to love, that are rich and abundant and should be cherished. 

They have humor.

My mom has always had the gift of delivery and timing in humor.  Her sarcasm and dry humor are never dull and will always keep you on your toes.  She certainly keeps my stepdad on his toes.  Sometimes he is sharp enough to match wit and return fire.  Sometimes. 

They have support. 

Their support is mutual, complementary, and cherishable.

He contributes to maintaining my grandmother’s quality of life. He’ll bring fruit or get her trash or move her television.  He’ll also perform countless other tasks whenever requested by my mother.  His support for my grandmother is certainly support for my mother. 

She provides for his children and grandchildren as her own.  She’ll throw a party or babysit the grands or make personal gifts incorporating photos of our whole family.  She will also do countless other tasks whenever requested by my stepdad.  Her support for his family is certainly support for him.

He provides for me, her daughter.  He will secure a grill and chairs for a party at a moment’s notice.  He will provide extra tickets to a basketball or baseball game.  He will arrange complimentary rounds of golf for my husband and I.  He will also provide countless other things for me, at the request of my mom.  His support for me is certainly support for my mom.

She supports his business.  She will provide administrative assistance, such as typing a letter or sending an email or making a call.  She will also give her time to welcome participants in his charity golf tournament.  Her support for his organization is certainly support for him.

They are kind to each other.  He gives her flowers, sometimes just because.  She makes him coffee in the morning, to start his day.            

They have companionship.

While they each live very full individual lives, they always take the time to come together for family and for themselves.  They watch movies together, play golf together, and attend sporting events. Together.

Today, they will attend a Nationals game for my mom’s birthday and they have invited me to come along.  It will be a gorgeous night and I am looking forward to spending the evening with them. 

WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Peace After Infidelity

In Elizabeth Edwards: How I Survived John’s Affair, Elizabeth opens up about the affair between her husband and Rielle Hunter, a videographer tasked with filming J. Edwards on the campaign trail. 

A little time and a lot of distance resulted in the extramarital affair after 28 years of marriage.  Now, in this article, which is an excerpt from her book Resilience, Elizabeth is talking about the things she asked and the things that were said and how everything didn’t always add up.  She talks about a long and difficult road ahead, their attempts at reconciliation and her attempts at finding peace.

I can’t ever imagine having to make this kind of amends with my husband and I should never have to.  But if you look carefully at the words that Elizabeth chooses to characterize her marriage, you might get the impression that theirs was a strong and committed relationship before the affair.  After all, she made him promise that he would always be faithful.  Then, you are soon reminded that even strong and committed relationships are still vulnerable. 

Although I can not stand in Elizabeth Edward’s shoes, I know discovering that the man I had been committed to for 28 years had just broken such a profound covenant of faith and not so long after my great battle with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer would be, single-handedly, the most devastating thing that I could ever imagine having to deal with in my lifetime. 

Elizabeth delivered her public response to the affair with the requisite class and grace of a woman in the political circuit.  I don’t know that I would have it in me if I were in the same situation. 

In the news yesterday, Elizabeth was both heralded for her revelation and villainized for seemingly acquiescing and supporting John’s campaign efforts in spite of the affair. 

In the words of my grandmother, “if its not one damned thing, its another damned thing.”  For Elizabeth, if its not a cancer diagnosis or the discovery of her cheating spouse, its being criticized for trying to be a supportive spouse in a situation largely out of her hands.  What do we really want from this woman?  What if she has done the best she could do with the cards that were dealt?

Whether or not things work out between Elizabeth and John, Elizabeth is now in search of peace.  I certainly hope she finds it.   A quest for peace after infidelity is the best guidance I can take from her to look to if ever I were to find myself in the same or similar situation.

For Elizabeth, whether it manifest in acceptance of the affair or adamant rejection ultimately of her cheating spouse, her survival will depend on finding peace.

WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues. Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.

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When I Speak of My Husband, Is My Vision Skewed?

Absolutely.

A reader of mine inquired recently about the way that I talk about my husband on this site. She acknowledged that I tend to put him on a bit of a pedestal and that it seems as if the whole story of us is not being told.

She is correct. I do put my husband on a pedestal, in the same place that he puts me. And my readers will not always know the entire story because some things are not for the public forum. But I will always tell as much of the story as appropriate to illustrate a particular point or to shed light on an issue for discussion.

Over the years, both from outside and now from within my own marriage, I have always enjoyed reading books, blogs or other perspectives on marriage, especially when the author is very positive and supportive of his or her spouse whether or not the writing is about the positives or negatives in marriage. I have always learned a lot more about dealing with marital discord from these writings based in mutual respect and love. Now, I have grown accustom to this perspective and it is one that I have adopted in my own writing.

Even though marriage is not always rose-colored, I tend to fall back on the adage taught to me by my mother: You can say anything you want… it is not what you say, but how you say it. I apply this adage to the way I communicate verbally with my husband and with others, as well as to my writings and communications with you.

That means that even though I may talk about many different facets of marriage, I will always shed a favorable light on him because he is my husband, in good times and in bad times. He is in this marriage just as I am. He has to take the good with the bad just as I do. We work together and are supportive of each other. And he speaks just as positively about me as I speak about him.

That being said, I try to be as objective as possible when writing about issues on this blog. However, I can only speak from my own perspective. I can only speak to how a situation has made me feel and how I have perceived any given instance. In that way, my view will often be skewed, many times in favor of myself and of my loved ones.

My personal goal is always to maintain a positive attitude and to resolve conflicts in marriage, and in life, in the best and healthiest manner possible. So, even when I am speaking of the negatives in marriage, I won’t find it helpful to do so in this public forum by attacking or criticizing my husband for a specific occurrence. On the contrary, I think it is most helpful to keep a cool head and state facts and feelings as they were experienced while illustrating how an instance has unfolded and how it is resolved.

I won’t say to you that the whole story of my husband and I will be told on here, however, and I think you would agree that it shouldn’t be. Our marriage has bumps in the road just like most other marriages. But, sometimes, our darkest hours are for us only and should be preserved for private discussion and resolution. During those times, I don’t support him any less, he is still a good husband.

It is never all rosy all of the time, but I’m not here to criticize. I am here only to share my perspective on relationships as best I can, the way I see it.

WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

 

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Ovulation, Hay Fever, and Deployment Can Lead to a Little Periodic Frustration and Anger

A couple of days ago, I snapped at my husband for no apparent reason.  We were looking through listings of houses in MS from our respective ends of the earth.  All of a sudden, I got confrontational over some minor point that was not even important to the discussion.  I felt it as it was happening, but did nothing to soften my push.  We didn’t argue only because my very awesome and cool-headed husband didn’t engage me for long and simply acknowledged that we had gotten “off topic.”  We soon returned to the original discussion, but at that point, the mood had been soured.  So, we said our “I love you’s” and got off the phone. 

Later that night (the next morning for him – Kuwait is 7 hours ahead), he called me and we were back to normal.  He denies that there was ever any discord.  I don’t think he even really processed my sour mood.  But I did. Pesky hormones.  There’s definitely a cycle here that I have been following.

If you are a man (or my mom), this is where you should stop reading. 

What do ovulation, hay fever and deployment all have in common?

Nothing, but put them all together and they spell periodic frustration and anger.  Bear with me.

#1 Ovulation

A woman’s ovulation occurs when her egg is released from the ovarian follicle.  It occurs 14 days after the first day of her menstrual cycle.  On average a women’s sexual appetite is highest during ovulation. 

I was ovulating at some point between the middle of last week and over this past weekend.

#2 Hay Fever…

… the feverish desire to roll around with hubby in the hay.  These feelings had been compounding over the previous several days.  They actually peaked right around the time of our phone call that morning… and had abated by the time we spoke again later that evening.

#3 Deployment

My husband works hard everyday for our country’s peace and security.  I love him for that and I respect his position.  But, his call of duty also means that we are apart during intimate times of need.  This about our separation inevitably affects us both. 

1+2+3 = Periodic Frustration and Anger…

Unfortunately, a little periodic frustration and anger kind of goes with this territory.  They are normal feelings and can even be healthy as they are a reminder of what is important and what is missed.  They are a measure of both passion and fortitude. 

At the same time, however, they can trigger hormonal responses that are a manifestation of all of the above.  It can be enough to push me to mild confrontation during a call to discuss houses in MS.  In this way, my feelings had become displaced going from lusting to frustration to full-blown anger.

It is a cycle that is easy to read, but harder to dispel.  Now, in the next few days, my hormones will rebalance.  My hay feverishness will quiet.  And I will be my usual jovial self…. until this time next month. 

The good news is that this cycle is slated to finally end sometime in the middle of August…  and not soon enough. 

 WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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