I always hate it when therapists blindly recommend that someone just, "open up and let people know how you feel and what your needs are", or some facsimile. That's not always possible, or advisable. Sometimes it's better to Flip the Script.
In any relationship disputes and conflicts are going to arise. However, there should be rules about what is and is not appropriate during a fight. These rules may simply be agreed upon by the partners, or they may be written down and posted on the refrigerator door. However they come to be, it is important to agree on what is and is not acceptable and that both parties honor these rules. Not having a set of rules of what is off limits can change simple fights into open wounds that fester and grow over time creating deep resentments and unspoken animosity that slowly poisons a once loving relationship.
I spent some time with a hypoglycemic friend and her family this weekend. It was disturbing to witness the attempts by certain members of her family to sabotage her efforts to be healthy. I also attended a seminar on intimate partner violence. Both of these events caused me to ponder, "What is love?" So here is my list. Please feel free to add your comments and ideas.
Dr. Ken Eisold, a psychoanalyst writing for Psychology Today states in his article, "Anger and Exercise", "Anger is a normal and adaptive response to an attack or a threat. It has been useful in our evolutionary struggle for survival. The brain detects the danger and the body is aroused and energized to react with fight or flight."
The opposite of being totally consumed by someone you cannot live without is not being totally consumed by someone you can't stand. The consumption is still there, only inverted. The opposite of love, therefore, is not hate...
I am reading the August 2009 edition of Yoga Journal and there's an interesting article about practicing yoga as a couple entitled, "Grow Your Love". I'm a firm believer in the healing and restorative powers of yoga for mental health, but I'd never thought of using to strengthen a relationship.
This really is a beautiful article, but I only have the print version. But with a little Googling I found an order page if you want your own copy.
I write a lot about the importance of feeling your feelings and being in touch with the messages thay are sending you. Perhaps this is because I rely so heavily on them in my everyday work. I cannot imagine being without them.
Why can't I have the same compassion for my family that I have for my clients? I find I can be very empathic and tolerant of most any religion, political view, parenting philosophy, sexual orientation or type of relationship - in my clients. I'm not always so patient with family members.