Do you know the difference between true intimacy and the fantasy bond? Many people confuse the fantasy bond with true intimacy. Although these two styles of relating may appear similar to outsiders looking in, they are indeed very different. [Read more...]
Don’t Keep Score!
If you want your partnership to last a lifetime, than you will have to stop keeping score. Ruminating on past problems keeps you stuck. If you continually bring up every injustice in your relationship, you never give your relationship room to grow. If you stay stuck in what is wrong, you will be blind to what is going right.
Do not tolerate abuse, but give your partner grace. Everyone messes up from time to time. Confront the issue, do what you can to find resolution, and then let it go.
Be mindful of the positive. Your partner needs to hear at least five “good” things that he or she is doing, for every “bad.” The positive things that we say to people tend to go in one ear and out the other. The negative things tend to stick like glue.
If you have been trying to get your partner to stop doing something, and he or she does it again, ask yourself, “Has there been any improvement? Has there been any progress? Is it happening less than it use to happen?” Appreciate the progress. (I am talking about relatively small things here. If the repeated offense involves abuse or an affair, please get professional help immediately.)
Partners that have been together forty or fifty years, probably don’t spend a lot of time bringing up forty or fifty years of grievances. Can you imagine? Remember, your partner is human and will let you down from time to time. Don’t allow what is going wrong to overpower what is going right. Look for progress, not perfection. Don’t sweat the little things if you want your relationship to thrive.
“If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you don’t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choice.” -Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
It never feels good to be dumped! Although it may not be anything personal, we still feel the stinging rejection. We miss the things that we considered good in the relationship. We often fear being alone. We don’t like change. But we often miss the bigger picture when we are enveloped in fear, grief or desperate attachment.
Many people come into my office distraught because someone has ended a relationship with them. Many times the relationship was never healthy in the first place. They have a difficult time seeing that this person may have actually done them a favor. [Read more...]
A client came to me the other day. She is chronically anger with her mother and has been for years. The anger is poisoning her. It is tearing her apart. She describes herself as nothing but a bitter shell of who she use to be. She is so consumed by her anger that she is shutting out all of the joy in her life (and there is a lot). I shared with her my lesson. [Read more...]
Many times parents bring children and adolescents into my office hoping that I can help fix their child’s anger problem. As their story unfolds, so does the child’s history of great loss. Sometimes the child has endured an obvious loss, such as losing a loved one. But often the loss is less clear, but equally damaging. [Read more...]
Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you. -Wayne Dyer
Boundaries are those invisible lines that separate you from other people. When children grow up in families that practice healthy boundaries, these boundaries are typically passed down through generations. The same is true when individuals are raised in dysfunctional families that have no sense of healthy boundaries. These poor boundaries, too, are often passed down the generational line.
Poor boundaries are usually too rigid or too loose. Like a concrete wall, rigid boundaries keep people out. When a person is closed off with rigid boundaries, they do not allow themselves to become vulnerable, which makes true intimacy impossible.
People with loose boundaries have little fence or no fence at all. The separation between self and others is blurred. Individuals with loose boundaries do not have a clear sense of self. These people trust easily, disclose too much, have a difficult time setting limits, and often become enmeshed with others.
Healthy relationships require healthy boundaries. If you are aware that your personal boundaries are either too loose or too rigid, you can learn healthy boundaries.
The first step to change is recognizing that change is needed. What you do not acknowledge, you do not change.
What is a healthy boundary? Take a look.
People with healthy boundaries:
know what they will and will not do.
know what they will and will not tolerate from others.
are able to be close to someone without becoming enmeshed or engulfed.
have well-defined limits.
are not possessive of their friends.
know how to say no.
have balanced friendships rather than one-way friendships.
know when to self-disclose and when to withhold information.
know that the amount of self-disclosure, depends on the relationship. (What is appropriate to share in one relationship, may not be appropriate in another.)
do not allow themselves to be abused.
do not rely on children to meet their physical or emotional intimacy needs.
are able to trust without trusting too easily.
are able to respect the privacy of others.
are able to view their partner and their children separate from themselves, with different needs and opinions.
do not push affection on others.
respect the personal space of others.
speak up when someone crosses the line of common decency.
respect another’s right to say “no.”
are able to be vulnerable within their marriage.
If your boundaries were violated when you were young, causing you to have poorly defined boundaries now, please consider working on this with a mental health professional. You are worth it! Your children are worth it! Your grandchildren are worth it!
- Fear of Intimacy (letlifeinpractices.com)
- Emotional Maturity, Boundaries and Why Most of the People You Know Aren’t Actually Adults (goodmenproject.com)
- “Yes” Doesn’t Count if you can’t say “No” – Why Clear Boundaries are Important in Intimate Relationships (psychologytoday.com)
- Boundaries (teristeel.com)
- Why Saying No in Your Relationship Is a Good Thing (psychcentral.com)
- How to Build Beautiful Boundaries (powerofslow.wordpress.com)
- A Better Way (toddlohenry.com)
- The Benefits of Establishing Boundaries (rhachellenicol.com)
- How To Teach Children The Benefits Of Developing Healthy Relationships (howtolearn.com)
What is intimacy?
Intimacy involves truly knowing another person and allowing the other person to truly know you. An intimate relationship consists of understanding and trust; allowing yourself to be vulnerable without fear that what you share will be used against you. Intimacy involves exposure; allowing the other person to see you after you have taken off the public mask that often hides your deepest insecurities. [Read more...]
Written by Kristin Barton Cuthriell, M.Ed., MSW, LCSW
Several years ago, I attended a marriage workshop along with my husband. This was not the first one that I had ever attended, nor will it be the last. These workshops not only provide me information and tools that help me better my own marriage, but they also benefit those who come to me for counseling. [Read more...]