10 Rules for Fighting Fair

10 Rules for Fighting Fair

Have you ever been at a party and overheard a couple say, “Oh, we never fight!” Don’t believe them! In this article I will show you ten rules for fighting fair.

Couples fight! We will be married 47 years this August, and we have had our fair share of fights. As a matter of fact, we had a pretty good one yesterday, as I recall it had to do with my being distracted by my new iPhone. The good news is that over the years, we have learned to fight fair. One of the traits of a resilient marriage is the ability to manage conflict.

Did you know that most of what we fight about really doesn’t matter? As a matter of fact, Dr. John Gottman, the leading authority says, “Our research has shown 69% of relationship conflict is about perpetual problems. All couples have them — these problems are grounded in the fundamental differences that any two people face. They are either fundamental differences in your personalities that repeatedly create conflict or fundamental differences in your lifestyle needs. [i]

The key to fighting fair is to maintain control. You do not have the right to be immature, childish, or abusive. If you do have legitimate feelings and issues, you are entitled to give a reasonable voice to those feelings in a constructive way. (That includes not being self-righteous or taking yourself too seriously.

So here are 10 Rules for Fighting Fair.

Make it private and keep it private. Fighting in front of your kids is nothing short of child abuse. It can and will scar them emotionally and spiritually all because you don’t have the self-control to keep it together until you can talk about it privately. It is not advisable to share information about your fights with family and friends – the information always gets twisted and enhanced.

Deal with the issue at hand. Keep it relevant. Stay on task! Focus on the problems rather than attacking each other. Don’t bring up old issues or grudges when they are not a part of the solution. Put boundaries around the subject so it won’t turn into a free-for-all. Limit the discussion to the one issue at the center of the conflict.

Stay in the room emotionally, keep it real. Deal with them, not with symptoms. Tell your spouse what is bothering you. Focus on the issue rather than the attack! When people are involved in a conflict, it is easy to feel flooded and overwhelmed, here is one quick free way to make sure you are staying in the room. Check your pulse if it around one hundred, 80 if you are athletic, then step back take a few moments and attempt to re-engage. 

Eliminate “You never,” “You always.” These phrases will always lead to someplace you really don’t want to go.

Avoid character assassination like the plague. Stay focused on the issue rather than ripping into your spouse’s personality, family, or past.

Don’t “mind read!”  Have you ever said or heard, “I know what you are thinking?” If you have, then consider yourself duly busted. If you are not sure what your partner meant by something they said, ask for clarification. Because asking for clarification always adds bonus points by slowing the conversation down. It lets your partner know that you are really trying to connect and understand. 

Stay on task! The mission is to resolve to conflict and come out with a “win-win” not an “I win you lose” outcome.

Be proportional in your intensity. You don’t kill a fly with a cannon. There are basically only two types of problems people have – solvable and unsolvable (or not solvable right now.) Everything that you disagree on is not an earth-shattering issue. Remember, you don’t have to get mad and upset every time you have a cause to be.

Commit yourself to openness, honesty, and acceptance. This will help you relax, listen, and give feedback.

Allow yourself and your partner to retreat and/or regroup with dignity. How a fight ends is crucial. Recognize when an olive branch is being offered to you (it might be disguised as an apology or a joke) and give each other a face-saving way out of the disagreement.

Action Plan

Are you serious about improving your relationship? If you are, I want to challenge you to review this article and pick two or three specific things you can do to make your next fight more productive.

If you would be interested in relationship coaching shoot me an email and we can set up a free assessment call.

Be sure to let me know what you are going to do in the comments.

Blessings.


[i]https://www.gottman.com/blog/managing-conflict-solvable-vs-perpetual-problems/12 Feb 2018

A Man’s Guide To Valentine’s Day Shopping

 

Want to build a happy, resilient relationship? If you answer is yes, then continue to read.

We are into February, and we all know that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

So guys, for heaven’s sake, get your shopping done before Feb. 14. If you wait too late, the roses will be wilted, and the selection of cards and chocolates will be pretty much picked over. It seems simple enough, but how many times have we men suffered from procrastinitis (my word), a condition related to waiting until the last minute to shop for your wife or girlfriend. Good news: There is a cure – buy early!

Waiting to purchase her a last-minute gift is not a good thing for your health or maybe even your life! It sends a message that you don’t see her as a high priority. It lets her know that you don’t know who she is and what she likes.

Here are five guy tips that will help you in your Valentine gift selection:

  1. If you buy chocolate, make sure you don’t get it at the grocery store or the pharmacy. Buying high-quality chocolate shows her how special she is. You need to know if she likes milk chocolate, dark chocolate, soft centers, assorted nuts or just plain chocolate. Hint: One of my favorite Chocolatiers in Albuquerque is Theobroma Chocolatier.
  2. I spent part of my young life helping my mom out at her florist shop. It was always interesting to see stressed-out men coming into the shop on the 13th or 14th of February hoping Mom could work a miracle. She usually did.

Don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to pick up flowers at a florist shop or grocery store. A quick way to earn extra points, spend a few extra dollars and have them delivered to her work site or home.

Women have this incredible quality: While the other women at her workplace will ooh and ah over the flowers you sent your spouse, they will walk away with envy, wishing their man had done the same.

  1. When looking for a card, try to avoid the “I know I don’t say it enough…but I do love your card.” I promise she will not be impressed. Instead, you might ask one of the women at the store to help you pick the right card. Make your card purchase based on words she would like to hear. For an additional bonus, write a short hand-written note of love and appreciation.
  2. Help your kids select a card or gift for their mom.
  3. You do have permission to get your wife some cute, flattering pajamas. Just don’t buy anything too revealing, flamboyant or trashy. If you decide to get something on the naughtier side, just make sure she has pre-approved it. Or better yet, ask her to go with you. Remember the gift is for her.

I enjoy feedback, so leave me a coment and let me know your thoughts, or even better if you have a good story feel free to share it.

Get a Free Chapter of my new book, The No Fear Entrepreneur by signing up for my email list by going to www.johnthurman.net

 

Shades of Grey Shades of Love – Five Types of Intimacy

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(c) 2015 John Thurman Jenny & Hugh
Shades of Love # 3

By John Thurman

What is intimacy? One definition of intimacy is that it is an act or a familiar expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, and love.

I believe as a culture we have lost some of the important components of intimacy by limiting it to just a physical response.

 There has been some breakthrough research that shows which there are at least five different zones of intimacy! Take a moment and grade yourself in each zone, then ask you partner to do the same.

The first is intellectual intimacy. On this level, couples can talk about current events, share ideas and thoughts, even debate political and religious topics. They can jointly participate in the exchange of thoughts and ideas.

The second zone of intimacy is recreational intimacy. This means that there are some leisure activities that a couple enjoys together. It does not mean that they do everything together.

The third zone of intimacy is social intimacy. After decades of marriage, my wife and I realized that its completely okay for her to have her friends and me to have my friends as long as we share some “we” friends. Couple friendships can be a bonus to a relationship by being a sounding board, providing feedback and accountability.

Spiritual intimacy is the fourth level of growing deeper together as a couple. While this zone of intimacy is the most subjective, due to the various religious backgrounds & practices a couple may have, it is still a very important component. In my opinion, one of the most important because a growing relationship is at its core spiritual in nature. Spiritual intimacy is also an important factor when and if children become a part of the family.

The fifth and final level of intimacy is physical intimacy.  Sexual expression is part of our hard wiring and can be both exhilarating and invigorating for a couple, in the right context. In recent years, the primary focus has been primarily on physical intimacy. We have reduced physical intimacy into a series of positions and practices based more on applied physics than on building relationships.

Could it be that one of the reasons we see so many relationships falling apart is that we have failed to understand that intimacy works on several levels? If a relationship is based primarily on sexual expression, it is doomed to fail, in the long run. However, if a couple can grow in their understanding of these different levels of intimacy, their relationship will experience growth in all areas. As you grow in these other areas, then sexual expression within your relationship will become more intense and meaningful. This is because it is based on getting to know your partner and being known by them.

So how can you have a better sex life? Be mindful of the five levels of intimacy and how interconnected they are.

I’d love to hear your opinion.

Shades of Grey – Shades of Love Part 2

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(C) 2012 John Thurman
Shades of Grey-Shades of Love Part 2

John Thurman

 

“It is a luxury to be understood.”      Ralph Waldo Emerson

Building a relationship and being married is a team sport; you either win together or lose together.

One of the keys to developing intimacy is communication. Two-way communication that is based on respect, honor, and grace is essential for two people sharing a life together.

Drs. David Olson and Peter Larson have invested their careers studying relationships. They have identified 10 Communication Skills that will enhance your intimacy.

1.     Give full attention to your partner when talking.  My wife gets very annoyed when I think I am listening, but am distracted. My suggestion turns off the phone, Ipad™, computer, or television and turn towards your partner.

2.     Focus on the good qualities and be intentional about catching them doing good.  People tend to rise or fall to our expectations, when you are intentional about finding the good in someone they rarely disappoint.

3.     Be assertive, not aggressive or passive. Share your thoughts, feeling, and needs.  One way to do this is to the old therapist standby of using “I” statements versus “you” statements. (e.g. “I worry when you do not let me know you’ll be late” rather than “You are always late.”)

4.     Avoid criticism. It is a relationship killer.  I think William Arthur Ward hit the nail on the head when he said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you.”  You can never share too much encouragement.

5.     If you must criticize, sandwich it with a least two positive comments. (e.g. “I appreciate it when you help out with cooking, the food is great. It would mean a lot to me if you could straighten up a little after you are done. Thanks again for dinner.)

6.     Listen to understand, not to judge.  Two eyes, two ears, one mouth. Listening is all about trying to understand.

7.     Use active listening. Summarize your partner’s comments before sharing your reactions or feelings.

8.     Avoid blaming each other at all costs. Instead, work together for a solution.  There is energy when we accept responsibility and decide to work towards a mutually beneficial solution.

9.     Manage your conflict.  (I will give you ten steps for resolving conflict in a few weeks.)

10.  Seek counseling.  If you are not able to have better results with your communication as a couple. Then take action.  Enroll in marriage/relationship class, read a book together, see your pastor, priest, or get counseling if you need to.

One of the best ways to increase the frequency of physical intimacy is through reliable communication. When men and women feel heard they usually are open to more intimacy.


My next article will be about the five levels of intimacy.

 

Shade of Grey-Shades of Love

Shades of Grey rolls out this weekend. The book series took the world by storm, and I am sure the movie will do the same.

But wait a minute.

One of the foundational principles of building and repairing a relationship is to understand the foundations of intimacy. It is not about technique, positions, or power, but about getting to know someone deeply.

Dwight Bain, a long time friend, therapist, and life coach shared some great thoughts in a recent presentation that I would like to pass along. It sets a good starting point for the next few weeks. Dwight was addressing married couples, but the points he makes are critical to developing any romantic relationship.

There are so many failed marriage stories in the headlines it can make you wonder, “Is an intimate relationship even possible anymore?” and if so, “How do you get one?” It seems that some couples quickly move from being fired up with romantic passion to wanting to just fire each other like a bully boss does to an exhausted employee. 

 It is no wonder people are more cautious about opening up their hearts to another person because they have likely witnessed the process of intensely romantic chemistry quickly eroding into hateful rejection and ugly conflicts. Everybody talks about wanting a meaningful relationship where he or she are loved and accepted, yet few are willing to take the chance of being vulnerable or hurt again.
Marital intimacy is about seeing into the heart and mind of your mate and learning to connect with them in multiple ways such as feeling close, accepted and loved on the inside, no matter what kind of pressure might be happening on the outside. Listen to the word intimacy slowly spoken… ‘Into-see-me’. Since real intimacy is about complete openness, and coming closer together to connect in the most intense ways.


To experience this kind of an emotional relationship, you need to understand both sides of an intimate connection to grow to a new level of purpose and passion together. These different levels of connection reflect the differences between a cultural view of relationship where romance is the primary goal; and a long-term perspective of marriage where learning to connect together with the realities of daily life is joined alongside romance to build intensity, regardless of the circumstances. You need both sides to make your relationship go the distance from short-term infatuation to build long-term success in your marriage.

My friend, Dr. Kevin Leman has an excellent resource that can help you heat it up at your house.

Sunday I will introduce the five levels of intimacy.

John Thurman is a Counselor, Speaker, and Author of Get a Grip on Depressionorder your personally autographed copy today.

5 Hot Tips for Your Relationships

Marriage and serious relationships are some of the toughest endeavors that any two humans can engage.  When a couple begins their journey they are fueled with hopes and dreams, but within the first year those hopes can sometime lead to despair and dreams to nightmares..  Here are six hot tips that can keep you moving forward.

Tip One – Watch out for Anger
Anger, hurt, frustration, and disappointment can stifle a relationship. Here are three things couple can do to lower anger, frustration.
1. Don’t let you negative feeling grow with interest.  Express your hurt, fear or frustration as soon as you are aware of it.
2. If you decide to tell your spouse be sure to share in the language style of your partner.If they are brief in their communication (a condenser) in their style, keep it brief.
3. Don’t give ultimatums during your talks.  Even if one is to be given, this is not the time of the time or the place, and it reflects control or power struggle. Rarely does it work.

Tip Two – Four Ways to Get Closer to Your Partner
1. Forgive each other for something that you’ve held on to.
2. Give up one habit that drives your partner bonkers.
3 Be generous and grateful.
4. Have Fun Together.

Tip Three – 7 Things Women and Men can do for each other.
1. See each other as allies, not enemies.
2. Appreciate each other’s power without being threatened with it.
3. Value and nurture each other.
4. Stop seeing each other as stereotypes.
5. Celebrate the differences and enjoy the commonalities.
6. Realize everybody had wounds.
7. Be there for each other.

Tip Four – Hints for a fun Special Days

1. Devote 100% of yourself to each other on those special days.
2. Rent a Honeymoon Suite at a local hotel for things like anniversaries, birthdays and Valentine.
3. Take a day off from work and enjoy each other.
4. Buy some cards or postcards and flood your spouse with them.
5. Bake or buy some heart shaped cookies.
Guys, flowers and chocolate can really help.
Girls, when he comes home from work on those special days greet him wearing something red or black like ribbons in your hair.

Tip Five – FOR GUYS – If your marriage seems a little dull, perhaps it’s you! Maybe you’re stuck in your routine.  Maybe you’re too predictable.  Shock you wife! Be unusually creative and totally unpredictable.

John is a Licensed Professional Counselor, with over thirty-five years of counseling experience. He has also been married to his first wife for 42 years. If you need help getting your relationship back on tract contact him today. John provides traditional counseling in an office setting as well as over the phone, and through SKYPE or FACETIME.

© 2014 John Thurman

Shades of Grey, Shades of Love: 4 Ways to Cultivate Romance

Sex Begins in the Kitchen is a fun and informative book that my friend Dr. Kevin Leman wrote several years ago. His second book on marital intimacy is called Sheet Music. Both of which are still in print. I encourage couples to add these books to their reading list. Kevin has an uncanny ability to communicate in a clear and fun way about crucial things. Years ago he and I shared the microphone on national radio show called Parent Talk. It seemed that whenever he and I were on the show the topic of sexuality came up.

I mention that because physical intimacy consistently stays in the “Top 5,” concerns of marital conflict.

As you and I continue to move through Shades of Love, I want to give you some tips that will improve physical intimacy. “Quantity” is the most frequent complaint that counselors hear. Unfortunately, couples often define their physical relationship in terms of “the count.” How often do we have it? How many times did one or the other reach orgasm? How much foreplay was there? How long did it last?”

It’s sad that we haven taken the beauty of lovemaking and reduced it to numbers. Some couples make it worse by attempting to negotiate the numbers, comparing their numbers with the “average couple,” whatever that is, or agreeing to trade physical intimacy for help with cleaning the dishes.

Here are some proven tips to improve your intimacy:

1.    Add some variety to your lovemaking. Some of us are too restrictive. Change the locations, times of day, or the lighting. Try some candles, new perfumes, or aftershaves. Put on some different music.

2.    Vary your routine. I did a Google™ search on, “how many ways you can cook a potato”, and the search came up with thirteen different ways. Amazing! If you can cook a potato that many different ways, you can be equally creative in finding ways  to share physical intimacy with your partner. A nice full body massage is nice. And don’t forget the shower.

3.    Communicate more openly. Don’t let intimacy become a guessing game. Two physically different individuals with unique personalities, life histories, backgrounds, preferences, and hangs ups must learn to talk openly about intimacy. Be careful about making assumptions. It is fine to have these conversations because communication will directly impact physical intimacy.

4.    Increase the desire for physical intimacy. One of the easiest ways to enhance your passion towards your partner is to let your mind wander over pleasurable thoughts about them throughout the day.

Three tips for guys:

•Sex must become something you give to your wife and not something you take.

•You will improve your physical intimacy dramatically if you learn to give first to   your wife emotionally.

•Increase your nonsexual touching. This means hugs, holding hands.

Have fun and be safe as you discover new ways to Cultivate Romance.

Want to read a great article about Marriage from a GenXer? follow this link to Relevant Magazine

You can also listen to a 29 min and 55 sec talk I did on Marriage here is the link 
I would love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas about cultivating the romance. Feel free to post your comments.

Shades of Grey, Shades of Love: 10 Skills to Build Up Your Marriage

Shades of Grey or Shades of Love Part 2

John Thurman

“It is a luxury to be understood.”      Ralph Waldo Emerson

Building a relationship and being married is a team sport; you either win together or lose together.

One of the keys to building intimacy is communication. Two-way communication that is based on respect, honor, and grace is essential for two people sharing a life together.

Drs. David Olson and Peter Larson have invested their careers studying relationships. They have identified 10 Communication Skills that will enhance your intimacy.

1.     Give full attention to your partner when talking.  My wife gets very annoyed when I think I am listening, but am distracted. My suggestion turn off the phone, Ipad™, computer, or television and turn towards your partner.

2.     Focus on the good qualities and be intentional about catching them doing good.  People tend to rise or fall on our expectations, when you are intentional about finding the good in someone they rarely disappoint.

3.     Be assertive, not aggressive or passive. Share your thoughts, feeling, and needs.  One way to do this is to the old therapist standby of using “I” statements versus “you” statements. (e.g. “I worry when you don’t let me know you’ll be late” rather than “You are always late.”)

4.     Avoid criticism. It is a relationship killer.  I think William Arthur Ward hit the nail on the head when he said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you.”  You can never share too much encouragement.

5.     If you must criticize, sandwich it with a least two positive comments. (e.g. “I appreciate it when you help out by cooking, the food is excellent. It would mean a lot to me if you could straighten up a little after you are done. Thanks again for dinner.)

6.     Listen to understand, not to judge.  Two eyes, two ears, one mouth. Listening is all about trying to understand.

7.     Use active listening. Summarize your partner’s comments before sharing your own reactions of feelings.

8.     Avoid blaming each other at all costs. Instead, work together for a solution.  There is energy when we accept responsibility and decide to work towards a mutually beneficial solution.

9.     Manage your conflict.  (I will give you ten steps for resolving conflict in a few weeks.)

10.  Seek counseling.  If you are not able to have better results with your communication as a couple. Then take action.  Enroll in marriage/relationship class, read a book together, see your pastor, priest, or get counseling if you need to.

One of the best ways to increase the frequency of physical intimacy is through reliable communication. When men and women feel heard, they usually are open to more intimacy.


Next week I will be writing about the five levels of intimacy.

To spice up your love life check out my talk on the 5 Phases of Marriage

Shades of Love or Shades of Grey?

By John Thurman

There is a ton of buzz in the media today about Shades of Grey as the movie buzz builds with the release of the movie trailer. The book series took the world by storm, and I am sure the movie will do the same.

But wait a minute.

One of the foundational principles of building and repairing a relationship is to understand the foundations of intimacy. It is not about technique, positions, or power, but about getting to know someone deeply.

Dwight Bain, a long time friend, therapist, and life coach shared some great thoughts in a recent presentation which I would like to pass along. It sets a good starting point for the next few weeks. Dwight was addressing married couples, but the points he makes are key to developing any romantic relationship.

There are so many failed marriage stories in the headlines it can make you wonder, “Is an intimate relationship even possible anymore?” and if so, “How do you get one?” It seems that some couples quickly move from being fired up with romantic passion to wanting to just fire each other like a bully boss does to an exhausted employee.

It’s no wonder people are more cautious about opening up their hearts to another person, because they have likely witnessed the process of intense romantic chemistry quickly eroding into hateful rejection and ugly conflicts. Everybody talks about wanting a meaningful relationship where they are loved and accepted, yet few are willing to take the chance of being vulnerable or hurt again.

Marital intimacy is about seeing into the heart and mind of your mate and learning to connect with them in multiple ways such as feeling close, accepted and loved on the inside, no matter what kind of pressure might be happening on the outside. Listen to the word intimacy slowly spoken… ‘Into-see-me’. Since true intimacy is about complete openness, and coming closer together to connect in the most intense ways.

To experience this kind of intense relationship, you need to understand both sides of an intimate connection to grow to a new level of purpose and passion together. These different levels of connection reflect the differences between a cultural view of relationship where romance is the primary goal; and a long-term view of marriage where learning to connect together through the realities of daily life is joined alongside romance to build intensity, regardless of the circumstances. You need both sides to make your relationship go the distance from short-term infatuation to build long-term success in your marriage.

My friend, Dr. Kevin Leman has a great resource that can help you heat it up at your house.

Next week I will introduce the five levels of intimacy.


John Thurman is a Counselor, Speaker, and Author of Get a Grip on Depression, order your personally autographed copy today.
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(c)2013 Canstock photo