Distance of the Hearts

We yell b/c there is a distance of the hearts.

In light of the fact that the majority of hits I have gotten on my musings from search engines have been from “arguments”, or some variation of the word, I have decided to break down some of the various aspects of arguing. I do this more as an evaluation of myself than to give the impression that I “know it all.” But, if something I say here is applicable to you – USE IT.

One of the most detrimental actions a person can take in communication with another person is to yell. I, myself, have been guilty of this disrespectful act. I have also been one to research and spout numerous theories about why we yell. I recently read something that, while it may not be 100% accurate, did give me pause.

Why do we yell at a person that is sitting right next to us? Why do we yell when we are angry?

Because we lose our composure – perhaps. Because we feel that we can’t be heard by speaking in a regular tone – sometimes.

How about distance? Definitely. The distance to which I refer has nothing to do with how physically far we are from the person with whom we are speaking. It is a distance of the hearts. In order to try and recover that distance, we yell to be heard. As we get angrier, greater is the distance felt by our hearts.

When a couple is in the throes of seduction, they whisper. Be it the sweet nothings that fill the pit of our stomachs with butterflies or nothing more than a moan, covering our flesh with bumps of geese. Love is best heard in the form of a whisper. Our hearts feel close. There is no distance to cover. As the love continues to grow, the distance becomes even less until both hearts seem to occupy the same space. At last, we do not have to speak. We simply look at each other. We understand. We accept.

The next time you feel like yelling, stop. Take a breath. Clamp your hand over your mouth if need be. Before you say a single word, remind yourself that you love the person in front of you. Then tell them. Just saying the words can have a magnificent change in what you are about to say. More importantly, how you are about to say it. If this proves inadequate, walk away. Take some time to quell the storm raging inside of you.

The purpose of a serious discussion is to make our respective points and to find a resolution. Even if the only resolution to be found is that we are heard. There is no resolution to be found through yelling. It is disrespectful to the person you love. More importantly, it is indicative of the lack of respect that you have for yourself. We all have the capacity to keep our heart close to the one we love. By yelling, we are saying that we lack the capacity, or the desire to do just that.

If speaking in a manner that reduces distance is something that will require practice, write your thoughts down. Let your partner assign your whispering voice to you as they read your words. Whatever it takes, do not yell. It only increases the distance between you.

I will see you back here on Friday. Until then…

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Strangers

For the past three weeks I have gone a bit off course as to what this blog was supposed to be about – unique date and gift ideas. I have managed to keep on theme when it comes to ideas that can help strengthen your relationship. So I am going to get back on course this week and share an idea that can be used as a date or even something that you can do on your own. I hope you will all find this to be a welcome relief from the serious nature of the previous posts.

Because of the response that I have gotten for my previous posts, I’ve decided to start posting twice a week, beginning next week. One post will be along the topics of the previous three (relationship advice), and the other will be date and gift ideas.

The title for this post is all about how you can take time to make a complete stranger’s day, create a tradition that is unique to you and your partner and bring the two of you closer in a way that you may have yet to experience.

In my book, I write about what to do after a first date and the best way to go about it. To summarize briefly, sending a woman a gift after a first date is a great way to stand out in her mind. I talk about the impact that it could have to brighten her day. I explain that by doing that, you never know when that particular day was a difficult one. When she comes home to find a bouquet of flowers on her front porch, instead of calling her best friend to complain about the day’s events, she will tell her best friend, briefly about the crappy day she’s had, but focus more on the gesture you bestowed upon her.

With that one random act of kindness, you are setting yourself up to be someone in whom she can trust. She will subconsciously associate the stress of the day with the relief she felt at your gesture. She will see you as a person that can help her feel better when things are bad.

A “just because” gift, at any stage of the relationship, is something that couples should do for each other to show how much they love and appreciate them. You can take this same principle and apply it to a date and share this random act of kindness to complete strangers.

As you are heading home from work, stop at a floral shop and pick up two dozen flowers. It doesn’t matter if they are roses, carnations, lilies or any other flower. This idea does work best with flowers that are single stemmed, but you want to have several of them. The next step can be planned in advance or be completely spontaneous. Your choice.

You’re going to take those single stemmed flowers and show them to your partner. Before she starts gushing over them, make sure to tell her that they are not for her. At least, not for her to place into a vase and admire. Explain to her that the two of you are going out on a date, taking the flowers with you. You can go to a park, downtown, a train station…anywhere where there will be people passing by. You can set up a post and stay put, or you can randomly walk around. As you pass these strangers surrounding you, keep an eye open for people who might look stressed. Look for people who are off in la-la land. Anyone will do. Then just give them the flower. You and your partner take turns handing flowers to strangers. Explain to these strangers that you are not wanting any compensation for the gift; that you are spending time with your partner and just wanted the opportunity to brighten a complete stranger’s day.

People will shy away from you. People will ignore you completely and act like they can’t hear you. Someone might even break down into tears and throw their arms around you in hysterics. Take this all in stride, as it matters not. The goal is spend time together, with your mate, and do something for someone else.

If you want to add a touch of romance specifically aimed at your partner, plan ahead and have a flower or bouquet waiting for her at the restaurant you will visit after you hand out flowers. It requires a bit of planning and there are several ways in which it can be pulled off. Be creative and have fun.

See you next week…..

happ-I-ness

WOW! I cannot believe the attention and feedback that I’ve received from the last couple of posts about arguments. I cannot begin to thank you enough for taking time out of your busy lives and first, reading – then responding to my thoughts. Knowing that there is at least a few of you out there who took something away from my ideas, makes me happy.

And that is the topic of this week’s post – happiness. I remember having a discussion with a very dear friend several years ago on the subject of happiness. At the time, she wasn’t happy with her husband. She became unhappy with me when I told her that her happiness wasn’t his responsibility and that she had to own what was hers.

That DID NOT go over well. As I said, this conversation took place years ago and my ears are still ringing.

I am older and have considerably more life experience now. My views on that topic are not what they once were. What really prompted me to write about happiness this week is another post I read a few days ago by, what appeared to be, a teenager. To summarize, his thoughts were this:

-True happiness doesn’t exist because it can only be obtained by taking something away from someone else.

-Anyone who pursues happiness is a fool.

-There is limited happiness in the world and it gets passed around from person to person, based on one’s actions.

REALLY!?!?

In my post about arguments, I explained why people really argue – because of the differences in core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. In the following post, I explained that we only had 50% control in any situation that involved another human being.

Both of those theories work for happiness too. I have come to realize how much a person risks when they dedicate themselves to a committed relationship. We do allow another person’s actions and words to have power over us and affect our level of happiness.

Why?

Because we love ourselves. Own what is yours and let the rest go. Let me explain this a different way. When I plan an extravagant date for Tina, I’m doing it just as much for myself as I am for her. Yes, I want to make her happy. Making her happy makes me happy. So really, I’m making the effort to make myself happy.

What I failed to consider when I had that conversation years ago was that by trying to make myself happy, I am giving up some of my control and making that happiness dependent upon Tina’s reaction. So…to the friend with whom I had that discussion years ago – I’m sorry. I was wrong. I’ve realized that at least part of our happiness is dependent upon another person. We always have control over how we react to the control that we relinquish. We may not be able to control our emotions. We can control how we react to those emotions. If you love someone, tell them. Show them. Never stop doing whatever you can to show that you appreciate the vulnerability they display by trying to give themselves happiness through you.

In the spirit of the pursuit of happiness, I have to share some exciting news before I close. Always Opening Doors has teamed up with Designing Love, Inc for a new reality series about the struggles of relationships. We are shooting the first episode in Pittsburgh at the end of April. If you, or anyone you know is married and would be interested in being on the show, please contact me by clicking here.

How To Argue

Last week, I covered the real reasons that people argue and some of the things that people tend to do during arguments. As I said, arguments are going to happen. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. While they are indicative of our difficulty in simply accepting another person’s right to have a differing point of view (without the need to project our beliefs on them), arguments are also indicative of the beauty of the human spirit to fight for that in which in believes.

The key, is to learn how to argue effectively. One of THE MOST important things to remember when arguing with your partner is that, at best, you have 50% control over the outcome. But you have 100% control over how YOU react. More than anything else, I want my partner to know that I love her, even when we don’t agree.

Especially when we don’t agree.

So I tell her. Be it as soon as you realize that you are about to enter a discussion in which you do not see eye to eye or in the middle of a conversation that has gone off track, stop and tell your partner that you love them. DO NOT SAY ANYTHING ELSE. Let the words hang in the air and do not expect the sentiment to be expressed in return. Focus on what you can control in the situation; her (or his) response is not a part of that.

Something else to do as you’re saying this is to sit within arm’s reach of your partner, and touch them. Hold their hand. Rest yours on their lap. Hug them. Anything that creates a physical closeness between the two of you to help compensate for the emotional gap. If one, or both, of you are opposed to being intimate during an argument, sit close enough so that it is still an option.

One thing that I’ve spent a lot of time laughing about is how couples try to “understand” why the other feels they way feel. Realizing that I may be inviting angry responses about how insensitive I am, I’m going to say that this is one of the most ridiculous notions that I have ever heard. Forget about the differences in how men and women think. Focus more on the life aspect of how we all think. Our emotions are generated by a set of core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. Those core beliefs are built over a life time of every single, individual experience to which we are all exposed.

The only way to really understand why a person believes or feels they way they do, is to have shared every single experience with the other person, without having had any of your own. Instead of spending all of your time in trying to understand why your partner feels a certain way, spend more time in trying to understand exactly what it is that your partner is feeling.

Just because he or she is angry and yelling does not have to mean that they are angry at you. It could mean that they are angry at their boss that dumped a lot of work on them for the weekend. It could mean that they are mad at themselves about any number of things. The only thing you know for sure, until you ask what they are really feeling, is that you are the recipient of their anger – justified or not.

As a word of caution, don’t assume that you are not the reason for their anger. Simply, take the time to ask, in an active and polite voice, to explain everything that is on their mind. Don’t interrupt. If you must, place your hand over your mouth until they are finished. Then summarize what you heard back to them.

By “active” voice, I mean that you should be clear and direct in what you are saying. “I feel (blank)”. There is no benefit to holding things in. This is especially important once you realize that you will not share the same point of view. It is far better to say, “I understand that you feel this way. You are entitled to how you feel and I appreciate that you shared this with me. This is how I feel, and that is okay.”

Taking a cool off period can help keep emotions in check.

One other tactic that I am a huge fan of. is time outs. I am a very passionate person, and there are times where that passion spills over during an argument and the volume of my voice starts wanting to increase. Yelling, though it may feel good on occasion and may even be necessary, should never be directed at your partner. It is disrespectful. To avoid this, you have to be aware of your own warning signs, just as I do. Once you feel things welling up inside to where you feel that you have to yell in order to be heard, stop the conversation. Take 15 minutes, 30 minutes, a day – whatever it is that you need to regain control of the emotional reaction. Then come back and discuss things in a respectful manner.

Again, people argue and fight because of the human spirit to fight for that in which it believes. You will never be able to make another person change their mind and you will never be able to truly understand everything that contributes to what a person feels. Emotions are generated from a life time of experiences that all determine what one believes about themselves and the world around them. Respect the beauty of the fact that you have someone in front of you who is willing to make themselves so vulnerable by expressing their inner most thoughts.

Why do we argue?

Knowing why you're really arguing can save your relationship

Arguments happen in every relationship. When I say “argument”, I don’t necessarily mean that there is yelling or even that anger is involved. This seems to be the case in a lot of instances, but what I’m referring to is a conversation wherein the people involved have a difference of opinion.

Sometimes things get heated and feelings get hurt. Sometimes it’s all too easy to overlook the times you both have been on cloud nine and all seemed right with the world.

I would, first, like to cover some theories about arguments and why so many marriages end due to “irreconcilable differences”. After giving you a week to process what I’m sharing, I would like to share some tips, tricks and suggestions on how to argue effectively with your partner. This is a step away from the traditional date ideas that I have presented so far, but it is an essential part of the overall goal – to create and maintain a loving relationship with open communication and everlasting courtship.

Arguments occur because of the trait that every human being shares. It’s not exclusive to anyone, regardless of gender, sexual preference, age, or race. That trait is the cause of divorce, fights and even war. It is the difficulty we all have in simply accepting and respecting another person’s right to a different opinion and to accept them as they are.

Think about it. All throughout history are examples of one person holding a certain belief and trying to force that belief on a group of people. Other parts of the world disagree so they jump to the aide (desired or not) of those deemed to be less fortunate or incapable of helping themselves. I am not, even slightly, suggesting that there aren’t circumstances where this isn’t necessary in order to maintain balance and discipline. I am merely pointing out the very basis for why things get heated in the first place.

Relationships are no different. There are two individuals who have each been raised with a certain set of beliefs and other beliefs that have been learned due to life experience. Here’s what a lot of people seem to forget – you fight because you care.

Even if you think the other person is completely off their rocker (and they may be), remind yourself that they are standing their ground, not to be disrespectful or because they don’t care. It is just the opposite. They care a great deal and are standing their ground because of a deeply routed belief system that cannot be changed by anyone except for them. Take a step back and marvel at the human spirit to fight for that in which it believes. Focus on the vulnerability the person in front of you is displaying.

Be you a man or a woman, expressing yourself and standing your ground makes you vulnerable to the person in front of you. You are saying, “Hey, this is me. I’m opening up and making myself available to ridicule and judgment.”

People often associate compatibility with another person by how much (or little) they argue. I disagree. Compatibility is simply the ability of both people in the relationship respecting the others right to a differing opinion and, at the very least, tolerating those differences. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to have anything in common or have to see eye to eye on certain issues. But that is an entirely different discussion.

This is all about realizing why you’re really arguing with one another and how you can see the truth as a means to strengthen your relationship. Come back next week to learn some tricks to effective arguing that could bring you closer together.