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How to Stay Married in 4 Easy Steps

How to Stay Married in 4 Easy Steps

With the divorce rate being what it is, it’s a wonder that anyone expects to stay married for the long haul. Probably one reason divorce is more prevalent now than it was 50 plus years ago is because there is not as much stigma about divorce. Back in the day, divorce was avoided at all costs. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean couples were happier. So what is the first step in staying happily married?

  1. Marry the right person. Marriage is not something to take lightly and it should not be viewed as an end goal because marriage is a process.

If you are a relatively stable person, your best bet for success is to find a similarly stable person. It is tempting to be a hero and try to turn someone’s life around for the better but it seldom works. It also starts the relationship off on an unequal footing. Find a person with a similar world view. If two people see reality very differently, they will not be able to connect to each other. It’s like trying to give someone directions but you don’t know where they are starting from. It’s confusing and frustrating.

What are some bad reasons to get married?

  • You’ve been dating a while and marriage is the next natural step.
  • This person is probably the best I can do, or he/she is better than nobody.
  • Your biological clock is ticking and you want children.  
  • Grandma wants to see you get married and she’s getting old.
  • Your family is putting a lot of pressure on you.
  • Etcetera, you get the idea.
  1. Be courageous – being your true self makes you feel vulnerable and that is ok, in fact, it is good. Vulnerability is honest and it leads to a deeper connection with the people who care about you.

It’s natural and healthy to want to be your ‘best self’ when you meet someone you like but if your behavior is very different from the person you truly are than you are being a bit deceitful. The person who likes you now may not like you when he or she sees the real you.

3. Communicate effectively – Honesty and vulnerability are important parts of communication. Communicate from the heart. Let your partner know how you feel and what you need. Stating the facts as you see it, then express how the situation makes you feel. Finally, ask for what you want instead.

When you start a sentence with “you,” it sounds like an accusation or criticism. When it’s followed by the word, “always” or “never,” Then you are asking for an argument. Absolute words are problematic because as soon as it is stated, the other person stops listening, feels defensive, and begins to search their memory bank for a time that the accusation was not true. There will likely be at least one time that it was not true. If nothing comes to mind, the other person will still be triggered and will likely have a negative come-back remark which will then escalate into a full blown argument. Clearly, communication has broken down and it will be difficult to recover. 

4) Be kind to one another (a phrase Ellen DeGeneres uses daily) – Sometimes we are meaner and ruder to the people closest to us. It’s okay to feel comfortable and relaxed with your partner but there is no reason to be rude or thoughtless. There is a concept in couples counseling that has to do with how we respond to a play of engagement. For example, a woman tries to connect with her partner by bringing up an idea or stating an opinion. The partner has three possible reactions. He can turn towards her by responding in agreement or discussing the issue in an interested way. He can turn away from her by vehemently disagreeing or responding negatively. Or he can completely ignore her. Guess which response is most destructive? If you guessed the last one, you’d be right. Being ignored is sending a powerful message that the speaker is not even deserving of a response. This is also referred to as stonewalling. Stonewalling in a relationship is one of the horsemen discussed in John Gottman’s book, “The Four Horsemen.” The other three horsemen are criticism, contempt and defensiveness. When any of these attitudes are consistently expressed in a relationship there is a good chance the relationship will not last.

So in conclusion, there are four important things to remember when entering into a committed relationship and staying there: 1) Choose a suitable, like-minded partner not someone you think is exciting and impulsive when in reality they are a bit crazy and you want to tame them. 2) Be you, it’s a lot less work than trying to be someone else. 3) Say what you mean and mean what you say and don’t be mean. 4) Pay attention to how you treat people, especially the ones closest to you. Always strive to be kind even when you disagree with the other person’s point of view.

Punishment VS Discipline: Only Discipline Works

Punishment VS Discipline: Only Discipline Works

There is an important distinction that must be made between punishment and discipline. Sometimes these two get used interchangeably but there is a big difference.

Punishment is a negative experience imposed on someone in a subordinate position in response to an action or behavior that was unacceptable. For example a parent might punish a child for misbehaving. It is hoped that the negative experience will serve as a deterrent so the child does not repeat the misbehavior. Punishment can come in the form of being grounded (that can include a number of restrictions) or being sent to one’s room or a time out location. An old fashioned punishment was to write 100 times, “I will not…” And of course there are parents that believe in physical punishment or spanking. None of these punishments are very effective in deterring the undesirable behavior but it certainly makes the recipient unhappy and sometimes demoralized.

Discipline on the other hand is more about mutually setting rules, understanding the reasons for the rules and agreeing to the consequences. It is important for the person in the leadership role to follow through with the consequences. This type of understanding makes it possible to prevent unwanted behavior which is far better than responding to the unwanted behavior after the fact.

The word “discipline” comes from the same root as the word “disciple” which means to teach. So discipline is more about teaching than punishing. Discipline is something we carry with us as adults. We need to discipline ourselves to engage in healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, exercise, waking up on time to go to school or work, and being productive in whatever we do. This is what we try to teach our children

As parents, the most effective way to discipline is to set up a daily structure with built in rewards for doing the right things. It is important to make it easier to succeed than to fail. This builds confidence and self-esteem. Expectations should be reasonable and attainable.

Two important aspects of discipline include:

1) Allowing for setbacks without getting derailed.

2) Getting rewards at regular intervals rather than at the end of a long stretch.

This helps a person stay motivated. This process is as effective for adults as it is in disciplining children. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Children in particular act impulsively because the executive function in the brain is not fully developed. If you ask a child why they did something, they are very likely to say, “I don’t know.” That is a valid answer.

Nobody is perfect. It is important to correct and redirect a child, reminding the child about the expectations and consequences. Using a compassionate voice, let the child know that the consequences will be enforced. There is no need to engage in a debate about it.

For discipline to work it has to be consistent. Once the rules become random or intermittently enforced, the whole system breaks down. It becomes a frustration. The parents lose their authority and the respect of the children. The children become anxious and insecure. The emotional confusion causes kids to misbehave more. They try to test the limits so that they can understand where the boundaries are. Children like certainty. It makes them feel safer knowing a parent or responsible adult is in charge and is strong enough to do what needs to be done.

Some parents feel bad about enforcing rules. They don’t want their children to get upset and cry. It is far better to be kind and consistent than to buckle and give in.

As adults we know that we have to follow rules or risk the consequences. If we speed, we run the risk of getting a ticket. Nobody likes to get tickets. If we have a job, the workplace has rules. If we break the rules there is a good chance we will lose our job. Nobody likes being fired and not having an income.

With proper discipline, we teach our children what the expectations are and what the consequences are. If we provide a lifetime of consistently helping our children understand right from wrong and showing them that doing the right thing has its rewards, then children will get better and better at self-discipline. The more self-discipline a person has, the less they have to face negative consequences and the easier and happier life will be.

Footnotes:

Guidelines for consequences:

The consequences for not following the agreed upon rules should be of equal severity to the offence. For example, if a child comes home ten minutes past curfew, it is unreasonable to ground the child for a month. The longer and more unreasonable the consequences are, the more likely they will not be adhered to and that will undermine the adult’s authority.

The consequences should be enforceable. Eliminating the use of all electronics or screens for a week would be difficult to enforce if the child needs a computer for school or is out of the parent’s site for large periods of time.

If possible, the consequences should relate to the offence or serve as a teachable moment. If the child did damage to the home, they should use their free time to try and fix the damage or do extra chores to earn back the cost of fixing what was damaged.