A Window of Time.
Ralph wakes up on Saturday morning and makes coffee. Robin joins him a few minutes later. She sees a glass in the sink and says, "You left the glass in the sink." He replies, "Well, you left a pan on the stove." She asked, "Why do you always turn it around on me?" He retorts, "I'm not turning it around on you; I'm giving you a fact just like you gave me." Their words escalated, with both blaming the other. Robin becoming distraught, leaves the room in total frustration. Ralph
It is a choice.
I stopped at a sandwich shop for lunch. The young man helping me was kind and courteous and did a great job with my sandwich. I noticed another young man who was waiting behind me. I got my sandwich and drink and sat down. Then I heard a commotion. The young customer was yelling and cursing as he walked out the door. He stopped at the door and continued taunting the young worker. He continued calling him awful names and invited the worker to settle it outside. The young man b
We hang out in what's familiar.
My friends Ralph and Robin were arguing, as it progressed, Ralph began to get anxious, and his voice elevated. Raising his voice didn't cause the reaction he was looking for, so he got even louder. Finally, he subdued the conversation with Robin by escalating harsh, controlling language. Robin sank into the woodwork as her demeanor seemed more passive and subservient. Ralph and Robin have recreated a relationship much like their parents. Ralph's dad was harsh and controlling.
Secrets are about doing or saying things that would hurt the ones close to us and cause trust to erode. Some relationships begin with secrets and build a house of cards. Their foundation is shallow, and the opportunity for failure is great. Others start with honesty but then erode. Ralph and Robin are celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary. Ralph has surprised Robin with a piece of expensive (for them) jewelry. She is excited and awed. When she questions Ralph about the co
How do we look when we offer excuses?
An excuse is a reason to explain why something has, has not, or will not be done. Excuses for failures can be used for not taking responsibility. Excuse implies a desire to avoid punishment, rebuke, or look bad in another’s presence. Excuses create opportunities for others to doubt or not believe. They dodge the issue and can create frustration during a conversation. Taking responsibility creates a very different conversation. It allows honesty and genuineness, and believabil
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine.
Four employees are doing the same work for a small engineering firm. Two have been there for less than one year, one for less than two years, and Ned has been with the company for almost six years but has been on this project for the last two years and is the "unnamed" leader of the team. The company owner has expressed concerns about time waste and the quality of work in this small group. Ned has negatively saturated the group's attitude. When the boss gives them their dutie
Can You Hear Me?
I had the delightful opportunity of attending a three-day conference this past week. I heard about 15 different speakers talk about marriage and family therapy topics. Some were moving and fascinating, some were transferring information, and some were not interesting. What struck me the most was a young speaker who was new to the profession and was clearly passionate about what he was presenting. Despite the importance of the material he covered, the audience seemed disconnec
We Teach People How to Treat Us
How subtle can that be? We continually teach people how to treat us with every action and conversation in which we engage. Ralph and Robin are enjoying a wonderful day together. Life is good. They have been together for years, and there have been no recent arguments. They are watching a movie together in their living room, and Ralph asks Robin to please rub his back. Robin balks and declines his request. What?! He thinks? She usually does this with no resistance. When he asks
Ralph is talking to his friend Robert about Robin. He tells him he is exasperated due to Robin’s griping and complaining. He says it seems that she is always unhappy about so many things. She whines about the way this is done or that it is not done. Griping can be a result of miscommunication. If I tell you something and it does not get done, I’ll say it again out of frustration. When it still goes undone, the complaining gets worse, and the relationship begins to fracture. I
When It Rains
Oh no, my alarm didn’t want to get up this morning! I jump out of bed, still tired and blurry-eyed, and start walking to the shower. Along the way, I find the door with my toe, OUCH! Hobbling to enter the shower, I turn on the water. Brrrrrr!! A freezing cold stream of spray comes out, and I find that I am flailing my hands and arms about in an attempt to shut off the shower. The freezing water keeps bouncing off me until I can find the hot faucet to get that Goldilocks effec
Some of you know but some may not know, I have written a book, Blind Spots in Relationships What I don't know I don't Know about Myself.
Robin and Ralph have been dating for more than a year and are discussing his ex-girlfriend. Robin reports feeling that his ex is trying to keep in touch with him even though they have been apart for over a year. His ex-texts him occasionally, and it is getting under Robin's skin. She continues to complain to Ralph; he claims to have told her to stop, but it has done no good. She doesn't want to lose him, but the same old tactics aren't working. She uses this opportunity to sa
Likable or Unlikable
Two supervisors were talking about their employees during their lunch break. They were given the task of ranking their employees in order of productivity. Hesitant to do this, both were aware that a layoff was likely. Having been through it before, they knew how unpleasant it was for everyone, especially those who were being released. Their worries came true the following week, and they both had to lay off employees. One of the supervisors mentioned Jim, who was a good employ
It's easy for us to present happiness and contentment—it is generally how I portray myself to others. However, sometimes "the critic" inside continues to remind me of all the wrongs I've done, all the mistakes I've made, and all the self-deprecating statements I've spoken. I know every wrong that I've done better than anyone, and I have proof of my shortcomings. It is not difficult to recall them; the times I failed, the times I embarrassed myself or someone else. Others know
My thinking is not your thinking.
I don’t know about you, but my mind becomes unbridled when I see or hear people say things or do things that I wouldn't. It is easy for me to be judgmental and criticize their decisions. Just the other day, I am sitting at a long traffic light. I have set through three lights already and now I'm about to make the next one when the light turns green. I have almost been patient, waiting for my turn to go. What?! The person in front of me decides to let two cars out of a drivewa
Worry the Time Thief
Worry is on a continuum from mild to chronic and everywhere in between. Worry is that ‘silent thief’ that steals our time and our energy. It has certainly been a characteristic I have continued to work with throughout my life. It is so easy to say don't worry, but remember, anxious people cannot hear facts. Before an anxious person can listen to what we have to offer, we must first emotionally connect with gently curious questions. So many fear acronyms imply that if we stopp
Be Your Hero
I don't know about you, but when I wake up without an agenda, it's effortless to doddle around, get my coffee, and plant myself in front of the TV. I melt into what someone else decides to fill my mind with. I see the ugly side of the world and call it news. I get drained because I'm helpless to stop the war, shootings, white-collar crimes, DUIs, political polarization, and the like. Hearing interviews where people are asked terrible questions like, "What is it like for your
Jim is a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, one tour in each country. Since getting out of the military, he has had issues with drugs, alcohol and legal problems from both tours. He was raised in a very modest home with a wonderful mother. I have met his daughters; they are the loveliest young ladies. They love their dad and volunteer with him whenever they can. His income is based on what he receives from the Veterans Administration benefits due to his wounds from the
How or why?
I know I need to do these things. Why can't I do what I say I want to do? What is getting in the way? I know it would be good for me, but I have yet to get to it. I want to improve my health, read more books, find a new job, and many other things. If I accomplished these things, life would be more enjoyable for me. This reminds me of two concise anecdotes. Anecdote 1—There are two large 20-story buildings side by side, 15 feet apart with a man on the roof looking across to th
What will they say?
They were at a large gathering of friends and family. It was a spring outing, the weather was picturesque, there were lots of joyful people visiting and enjoying conversation. Ralph stood up and asked all to be quiet. He wanted to tell them about Robin. It took him a few seconds to gather his composure. He said, “We have been together a long time. I have been blessed with a companion that has stuck with me through thick and thin. She has always taken the best care of me even