Tag Archives: relationships

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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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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Remembering What’s Important

Today I am taking a break from my usual posting schedule to dedicate my time to what is most important to me – my husband. Of late, with work, writing, getting our house in order and my own socializing with family and friends, I have neglected to take the time to do many of the small detail items that have gone without saying in the past and that I know are important to him. They are also important to me.

During his first deployment, I would write to him at least once a week and I would often try to send him little miscellaneous packages, however small. These are the things that let him know how much he is missed here at home. This time around, while he is in Kuwait, I will remember that Facebook and email, and even our phone calls almost daily will never take the place of the personal effort that I put into a writing or a package.

Tonight, I remember what is important to me.

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Family Dynamics Impact Relationship Dynamics

A girlfriend of mine recently told me that she had met her boyfriend’s parents for the first time.  She said that she really enjoyed meeting them and really loved the dynamic between her boyfriend and his family.  That got me to thinking about my husband, his family and my own family, and how closely the positive dynamics of our respective families mirror that which my husband and I have with each other in our marriage. 

Somewhere In Oblivion, We Miss What Should Be Obvious

It is something that you may not assign too much importance to when you are young and dating or before you are established in a relationship.  But, it is a mistake not to take notice of your significant other’s family dynamic once you are in a relationship that is becoming serious. 

You may not think much about how your partner’s relationship with parents, siblings and even grandparents is indicative of how he or she tends to treat the people that are the closest.  You may choose to not assume that the dynamic your partner has with family is indicative of how your partner will treat you in the long run.  Though when you think about it, shouldn’t it be obvious?

Sometimes when we are in a relatively new relationship, there may not be many occasions to meet our partner’s family.  But, once we do, and if there is a negative vibe flowing, sometimes we are resolved to not understanding the nature of these familial relationships.  Sometimes we choose oblivion rather than choosing to acknowledge that there are negative moods and feelings among family members, which are problematic whether or not you understand their origins.  If you ever find yourself in this situation, it is wise to ask yourself, is this the mood my partner is accustomed to among family?  Is this my partner’s response to family in general? 

In one of my previous posts about How You Know He Is the One, I said that there are many ways that our significant others communicate how they intend to treat us.  The way they tell us, however, varies in both method and directness.  Sometimes we get clues from things that they say to us directly, or the way they handle us physically.  But sometimes, it is also clear from the way they treat others, especially those that are the closest to their hearts.

A Positive Family Dynamic Is a Very Good Sign 

The first time I met my in-laws was at the airport.  They’d come to DC from Puerto Rico to visit my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time.  They had not seen him since the holidays one year earlier and I knew how much he had missed them.  My first peek into the very positive family dynamic that he shares with his parents was in the very loving and emotional embrace they all shared at the airport that day.  Since we had started dating, he had always spoken frequently about his family and about being home in Puerto Rico.  I know that his family is a big part of his pride and that he cherishes them greatly. 

I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but my husband’s family ties and the very genuine admiration and respect that he expresses toward his parents became a big part of why I adored him so much.  As I moved closer and closer into his family network, and as I was able to witness how supportive and caring they were with one another, I felt I lot more confident than I ever had in relationships about our ability to have the same dynamic with each other long-term and eventually within our own family. I had also come from a very loving and supportive family and, without really appreciating it before, I came to realize just how important a positive family dynamic is to me.  I also think that this factor is essential for any successful relationship.

At the end of the day, we love who we love and we may not cast aside our partners because their family relationships aren’t perfect.  But, I definitely think it is worth taking note of your partner’s family dynamics, which could shed light on your own relationship dynamics at some point in the future. 

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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Long-Term Relationship Choices: the Bigs vs. the Aidans

 

Was this in Sex and the City? by barrymcgee

Was this in Sex and the City? by barrymcgee

I am heavily into my Sex in the City reruns these days.  I am at the point where Aidan just broke off the engagement with Carrie because of her reluctance to commit.  I was always perplexed about why Carrie let Aidan get away. 

 

Big vs. Aidan

If you don’t know Big and Aidan because you didn’t watch Sex in the City well, shame on you.  Let me help you understand.

Mr. Big is the older, rich and successful guy that would take Carrie out on the town, ride her around in limos and then promptly dog her out because he couldn’t commit to the relationship.  He eventually married a young socialite, cheated on his wife with Carrie and then got a divorce.  Carrie and Big then developed a platonic relationship, but he was always the one that broke her heart. 

Enter Aidan.  Aidan is the younger, more rustic, tall teddy bear sort of guy.  He is handy – makes furniture for his furniture store and would gut Carrie’s apartment and put it back together, better.  He wanted to commit to her and he wanted her to commit, but he got played.  He scared Carrie because he was so available to her, so loving, so in her best interest.  She ended up cheating on him with Mr. Big.  They broke up then got back together then got engaged.  He moved in, got too close and it freaked her out.  She wasn’t versatile enough to be with Aidan and he wasn’t city-enough to be with Carrie.  He broke off the engagement.  She broke his heart. 

A Woman’s Dilemma

What’s a woman to do?  Who’s a woman to choose?  I guess it really just depends on the woman.  If I were a fashonista, after all, living in New York City I might choose a Big-type myself. 

This is the classic bad boy versus good boy scenario. 

Carrie fell so hard for Big because he wasn’t available.  She only gets him in doses.  They break up, make up, and then break up in cycles.  He also perpetuates the lifestyle Carrie is used to and covets.  There is spontaneity, lavishness and novelty.  But, Big is always a short-term fix. 

Aidan, on the other hand, is the nice guy.  He takes care of her and her friends.  He is a gentleman.  He also meets the common stereotype of being male.  He loves sports, beer, and late-night television in his tighty-whiteys. He’s not as spontaneous, not as lavish, not as novel.  Once the everyday routine settles in, he isn’t the guy who is bedazzling, but he is the guy without the charade who is happy to just be with Carrie.  He is a long-term keeper. 

In the end, Carrie chooses Big for the long-term, but we never get to see how it plays out in the end. 

How We Women Get Jammed Up

Sometimes we don’t think long and hard enough about the long term.  We want it fast and we want it fun and we want the guy that brings that to us. What we fail to realize though is that the Big-types are so alluring because they are not available enough.  They keep us guessing and they keep us feeling never quite satisfied.  So, we try to work on the relationship, and find ways to get through to them.  We try to analyze them and figure out how to be the girl that captures their heart permanently.

We women get jammed up because it takes us some time to realize that we can’t change the man.  If we could just appreciate dating the Big-types for what it is – fast and fun – and just be ok with that, we could free ourselves from the constant emotional tug-of-war.  As we grow and mature, many of us come to accept this and learn how to seek out the Aidans for the long-term.  But some of us never understand this at all and become embattled with finding the right man.

Sometimes we spend all of our time trying to change the Bigs into Aidans instead of just choosing the Aidans to begin with. 

Who would you choose for the long-term?

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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