Got Jealousy? How to Check It Before It Wrecks Your Relationship

JealousyWe all know the destructive powers of Jealousy.  When in the presence of someone taller, richer, smarter, thinner, younger, prettier, or anything else-er… it has the opportunity to rear its ugly head.  Let’s face it, we can’t be all things all the time.  That would be downright boring anyway. But what about those feelings of insecurity, self doubt, and low self worth that emerge when our defenses are low?  Let’s break them down into their composite parts and root causes.  As a Therapist and Coach, it helps to dissect emotion, its triggers, and resulting behaviors. So let’s begin with a few related outcomes…

Insecurity:

When we listen too closely to our inner critic, we naturally feel insecure and unsure of ourselves. It’s uncomfortable and can stifle us from taking risks, stepping outside our comfort zone, and stretching toward new levels of achievement.  What to do?  Challenge it!  It’s healthy to check yourself, but if you’re obsessing about mistakes made or are fearful of acting on the wrong decision, it’s time to consider other possible explanations and ideas about yourself and the task at hand.  Acknowledge your negative self talk and substitute that critical gremlin’s loud mouth with statements of encouragement and wisdom. Open your mind to best case scenario and successful endings to the story.

“The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” – Erich Fromm

Comparison:

When we compare ourselves to others, we are setting ourselves up for a fall.  It’s a mean trick our brains play on us.  Typically we notice the strengths of others while honing in on our own shortcomings.  When you compare the two – someone’s strengths against your blind spots and challenges – you naturally end up with unfair comparisons and a recipe for discouragement.   An example of this is, “Her hair is so pretty, I bet all the guys like her.  I’m overweight and miserable in my job.”  Say ‘hello’ to the metaphorical apples and oranges argument!  Stop and question the assumptions you make.  Catch the unfair comparisons in action.  You never really know the details of someone else’s life story and therefore, comparing it to yours is fruitless (pun intended!).

Remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Self Worth:

When insecurity and unfair comparisons combine, the result is low self worth.   This can be disastrous to your mental health, relationships, and personal growth.  Take a step back.  Get off the couch.  Realize your potential and the possibilities.  If you’re feeling lonely, expand your friend group.  If you’re feeling incompetent, expand your skills and expertise. If you’re feeling unfulfilled, choose an activity or interest to explore.  Identify one goal you can and will accomplish this week to get one step closer self improvement. Take a class or join a meet-up group.  It will improve your quality of life – and your self worth.  Don’t capitulate to the unwanted negative feelings.  They will loose their strength and influence when you take your power back.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” – Mark Twain

Take-Home Message:  peaceful yoga girl

You are in control of your thoughts and feelings.  Jealousy is a product of the way you think about the events of life.  When you feel the pang of insecurity, low self worth, or jealousy, pause and practice gratitude.  Switch your attention to three things you are thankful for right now, in this moment.  I’ll share mine for today – the warm weather, my family, and my cats.  Now what are yours?

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero

This article was written by Heather Edwards, LMHC, NCC, BCC.  She is a Manhattan based Therapist and Coach with over 15 years combined experience working with individuals, families, and businesses. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Coach, and MBTI Certified Practitioner.

“1st Image courtesy of anankkml/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

“2nd Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

10 Ways to Resolve Marital Conflict

IMG_0270Who doesn’t love a wedding? But with months and months of planning, it only lasts a short while – and then there’s the marriage. If history is prologue, neither former first daughter, Chelsea Clinton, nor longtime boyfriend, Marc Mezvinsky, had great role models for marital bliss. And that’s even without the religious issues – she was raised Christian and he’s Jewish.

This much publicized union is affirmation of America’s shifting religious landscape. There has been a gradual increase in interfaith marriages over the past two decades and more than 30% U.S. households now are mixed-faith. Despite changing attitudes, it’s still not easy to make marriage work.

If you or a loved one has recently tied the knot, you know that marriage constitutes a major change. Emotional reactions at times of transition are common and normal. And in making the necessary adjustments, some conflict is inevitable – all couples get angry and have arguments. Whether a marriage will last depends, in part, on how you prepare for the challenges. You’ll find that some of these tips may serve you well:

1. Keep your communication open and honest.Talk out misunderstandings before they become arguments. Don’t resort to low blows or get side-tracked by pointing out questionable character traits. Practice active listening skills and sending I-focused messages to clarify that what you’re saying is your own opinion.

2. Use cooperation and compromise. Be direct yet flexible as you make your way through disagreements. Look at the issue from your partner’s perspective and practice empathy. Ask yourself if being right and winning the fight is more important than the success of your relationship.

3. Minimize emotional overload. Flooding is a physiological arousal that is activated when tensions are high and communication stalls. If you’re quarreling, state a desired outcome and stick to the subject at hand. Try not to blame your partner or get defensive, and take some responsibility for what’s going on.

4. Practice non-threatening behavior. Monitor any negative comments and be slow to criticize. Try to control your emotions because your body language and tone of voice make a difference. Count to 10 before reacting – if it looks like the conversation is escalating, walk away.

5. Agree to a time-out strategy. Before you say something you may later regret, decide to put some distance between yourselves and the problem. Plan to return to the conversation later and work out a solution. And then take a break until you’re less upset and settled down enough to listen without planning a rebuttal.

6. Find a comfortable position, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Hold your breath for several seconds and release it slowly through your mouth. Repeat this several times, brushing away any distractions. Notice how focusing only on each breath can make you feel more calm.

7. Pay attention to constructive thoughts. You can turn the negatives into more positives.  For example, his anger isn’t all about me; we really do love each other; she’s under a lot of pressure at work; this too shall pass; I’m upset now but I know we’re right for each other.

8. Choose your words. In the midst of an argument, any one of these phrases would be welcomed by a partner feeling misunderstood: I might be wrong; stay with me and don’t withdraw; I see my part in all of this; let’s find common ground; I love you and we’ll work this out.

9. Stay engaged. A gentle touch, eye contact or a quick hug can release oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates bonding as well as reduces blood pressure and stress levels. When you’re feeling tense, an affectionate moment can help you feel closer, loved and even more relaxed.

10. Build emotional dividends. If you characteristically turn toward rather than away from each other, the goodwill you accumulate can provide an emotional cushion. Maintain a reserve of shared positive feelings and you will be able to draw from this supply of affection in times of conflict.

No matter who you marry, there are bound to be all sorts of differences – family values, cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic status, religious traditions. But if you work toward understanding, each can complement and enrich the other.

Chelsea and Marc have attended family holidays together so they may have already started a discussion that includes Christmas trees and Hanukah menorahs. It is often rituals and family relationships that give faith meaning. The Clintons have raised Chelsea well and she has stood by her parents through tough times. And Chelsea is a survivor – resilient, transcendent, private, well balanced – all qualities that can only enhance a marriage that seems off to a very good start.

This blog post was contributed by Phyllis Goldberg, PhD © HerMentorCenter, 2012. All rights reserved. The above material may not be copied to another web site without the express permission of HerMentorCenter.com.

Spring into a Contest and Win Prizes!

IMG_7466Spring is coming!  It’s the season of change.  Couplewise challenges YOU to create the wackiest, funniest, or most exciting way to motivate an individual to take action for change!

This idea can be original or something you noticed was effective for a friend, acquaintance, or family member.  Whatever the source, we know it can be difficult to inspire someone to do something outside their usual modus operandi.  Think outside the box!  Let’s combine efforts to develop the best motivational technique.   Remember, sometimes the most unorthodox, hilarious, or simple idea is the most effective.   Ready, set, go!  …And did we mention there are prizes?  See below for the details.

 GRAND  WINNER!

  1. $200 for the best, funniest, or most creative new idea!

  2. Two one year memberships to CoupleWise!  One for you and one for a couple you adore (perfect anniversary gift), $360-$400 value.

WEEKLY WINNERS!

  • Weekly winner gets one hour free consultation session from CoupleWise founder, Gary Krane PhD or a licensed therapists on our board of therapist advisers.

  • The next 6 runners up will each get a free 6-month subscription to CoupleWise (estimated $59 value). You can use it yourself or give it as a gift to someone else, for example to a friend on their anniversary or to a parent on Mother’s / Father’s Day. A CoupleWise subscription would make a great gift to a couple any time.

EVERY USABLE IDEA!

TO ENTER: Tweet or write your ideas and tell us, in 140 characters or less your wackiest, funniest, or simplest idea for motivating an individual to try something new.

Tweet your Motivational Ideas to @couplewise with the hashtag #CWMMP (CoupleWise Motivate My Partner) beginning NOW until March 8, 2014.  If you’re not on Twitter, you can email your Motivational Ideas to MotivatePartners@RelationshipTechnologies.com.

All entries must be submitted by March 8, 2014.  The winner will be announced on March 15, 2014 and the top 10 suggestions will be viewable at CoupleWise.com.  Your name and email address will be kept strictly CONFIDENTIAL, unless you request otherwise.

Please also include your first name, age, and state and country of residence.

Criteria for entries:

– Creative and Original; the more creative, the higher the rating (10 points being the highest)

– Cost under $10; must be affordable to most people and not difficult for most people to do.

– Proven: show us evidence you actually did it and it worked! You can send us a video testimonial that we can post on  our site or a written testimonial from your mate or friend as to how he or she got motivated. We will send him or her an email to verify this.  NOTE: You can still win without this proof!

About CoupleWise:

CoupleWise.com will be offering  before Mother’s Day a robust, highly interactive, individualizable web and mobile app to empower couples to create stronger, happier relationships. The CoupleWise technology

  • Enables couples to quickly clarify their problems without criticism or arguments.

  • Skills to listen empathically to each other and to make and keep agreements, and much more.

  • Ways to motivate an unmotivated partner to work on improving  the relationship.

  • CoupleWise is gay friendly.

Credit Where Credit is Due:

The best ideas will be posted in CoupleWise. Entries will be kept strictly anonymous, unless you want credit. Let us know if you would like to be credited for your idea and how? For example we could list your first name and city, but it is up to you.

Rules:

1. All federal, state, and local taxes on prize are the sole responsibility of the winner. No purchases are necessary; void where prohibited by law.

2. Participants agree to abide by all decisions of CoupleWise, contest co-sponsors, and judges, which shall be final and binding with respect to all issues relating to this contest.

3. Prize is not transferable and no cash alternative or prize substitution is available. CoupleWise and contest co-sponsors reserve the right to substitute a similar prize of equal or greater value if the prize listed is unavailable for any reason. All potential winners are subject to verification at the discretion of CoupleWise and contest co-sponsors.

4. Winner agrees that prizes are being provided “as is”, and CoupleWise and contest co-sponsors make no warranty, representation or guarantee regarding the prize, including but not limited to its quality, condition, merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

5. CoupleWise and contest co-sponsors are not responsible for problems including (but not limited to) damaged, incorrect, inaccurate, lost, delayed, or defective entries, or for injury or damage to any computer resulting from participation in this contest. Entries that have been tampered with or altered are void.

6. CoupleWise reserves the right to modify, cancel, postpone or end the contest at any time as necessary, at its sole discretion, or to disqualify any participant or winner, at its sole discretion, deemed to have cheated, destroyed, obstructed, or otherwise acted illegally or in bad faith in relation to this contest.

7. CoupleWise reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual it finds, in its sole discretion, to be in violation of the Terms of Service; to be acting in violation of these Official Rules; to be acting in a unethical or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person.

8. By submitting an entry and entering this contest, you represent and warrant that: you are over the age of 18, or entering with the knowledge and permission of your parent or guardian (subject to verification), and that the entry does not contain or incorporate the intellectual property and/or confidential information of any third party.

9. By submitting an entry and entering this contest, you hereby grant CoupleWise a perpetual, irrevocable, sublicenseable, worldwide, royalty free right to publish and distribute your entry for their promotional purposes.

10. Governing Law: All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of the official rules, or the rights of entrants, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with, the substance laws of the State of New York and any applicable laws and regulations of the United States.

 

Everyday is Valentine’s Day

IMG_7082This article is written by Heather Edwards, LMHC, NCC, BCC Psychotherapist, Life Coach, and Blog Editor in Chief of Couplewise.  It is originally posted on her blog at NewYorkPsychotherapyandLifeCoaching.com .  In this piece she suggests ways to celebrate your love everyday.

Valentine’s Day is the day of love notes, red roses, and heart shaped chocolates. Romance is awakened and we feel reconnected.  For centuries, it’s celebrated as a day to declare and honor our one true love.

Some love it.  Some hate it.  Some just follow the relationship protocol.  There are those who yearn for a special day of gifts, romance, and kindness. There are those who loathe the “Hallmark Holiday”, deeming it contrived and corporate.  There are those who choose not to rock the “love boat” and dutifully follow tradition.  Whether you love it, hate it, or are apathetic to it, it happens every year – and this year its happening 3 days from now.  What’s one to do?

Imagine removing the pressure of finding the perfect gift or expression of love on that one day each year.  Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a single day of celebration fraught with gift giving, spending money, and the materialization of love.  What if instead, we mindfully loved more generously and openly in our everyday lives and relationships? Everyday.   Stop wasting your time and energy searching for differences, problems, and sources of anxiety – they’re way to easy to find and obsess about!  Shift your focus to what is positive, good, and loving.

Let’s take a moment to consider the ways we celebrate and acknowledge our love and relationships on this not-so-subtle reminder called Valentines Day.  There are pretty predictable ways we conform to social expectations, but as you continue reading, imagine incorporating these ideas into each day. Yes, 365 days per year.

Acts of Kindness –

Whether you’re the gift giving type or the favor offering kind, remember the ways you reached out to your partner when your relationship was new.  What were you eager to do for that person, simply for the sake of making him/her feel good?  How did you express tenderness, infatuation, and desire?  Take time to plan a meal, give a massage, or connect through sharing ideas, dreams, and plans.

“I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame.” – W.B. Yeats

Seek Adventure –

When your relationship was new, everything you did together was adventurous simply because YOU were new to each other.  Some of those activities may have gotten lost in the shuffle of responsibility, boredom,  or routine.  Keep novelty alive!  If you are not new to each other anymore, find activities that are unique.  Get outside your comfort zone, together.  After all, getting to know each other was exciting and challenging when there was uncertainty. Recreate that excitement.

“What we find in a soulmate is not something wild to tame but something wild to run with.”  – Robert Brault

Greater Intimacy –

Some confuse intimacy with sex.  Although they can be mutually exclusive, they are far better when shaken and stirred together in a loving cocktail of sensuality.  Touch frequently.  Express gratitude.  Speak warm sentiments.  Be vulnerable.  Ask for what you need.  Confide your fears and exert your power (in a loving way, not threatening).  Don’t assume.  Take risks.  Share your innermost self.

“Warm me like sunlight and soothe me like rain. Burn me with passion and steal away the pain.” – Tyler Knott Gregson

If you’re lucky enough to be in a loving relationship, nurture it everyday.  Keep your feet on the ground, your head on your shoulders, and notice the life partner sharing this journey with you.  When you keep that in mind, everyday can be Valentine’s Day!

Got a New Years Resolution to Revitalize Your Relationship?

cw_withbg_250x250Try These 7 Tips for a Happier Marriage/Committed Relationship:

We all know sustaining strong, healthy relationships can be challenging.  What most of us really want to know is how to stop arguing, nagging, or getting bored and annoyed with each other. How can we get our relationship back to where it was when it started? How can we make it fun and romantic again?  Use these 7 tips to revitalize your relationship, and at the end, discover the easy to use web app “tool chest” that actually enables you to integrate these great ideas into your real life – way more than a blog post, book, or video can do!

1) People that play together, stay together.   

Play more together in ways that are easy to do, require no scheduling, and are even free.  Be silly. If you are saying to yourself, you can’t find the time to play and have fun, fret no more. Here are two of 333 games you can do that transform the ordinary situations of everyday life into extraordinary fun:

*Be Each Other Game:  At Dinner: Everyone writes their names on slips of paper, folds them up, puts them in a cup, shakes them and who ever you get, you talk and eat like that person. You ”Be each other!”  This is where you might find out that you talk with your mouthful, play with your  mustache, or interrupt others.  Be sure that you use the tool we mention at the end, however for an important warning.

*The Kvetch Game: While in the Car or Shopping:  If you need to complain – Go through the alphabet in turns, complaining about whatever you can dream up, real or imagined, that starts with the letter you get on your turn. For example, if it’s your turn and your letter is B, you might have the following kvetch: “I wish I had more bucks in my pocket today,” or “Old Bill at work sure gave me a hard time.”  The idea is to not only have fun with complaints, but to give vent to real gripes and frustrations in a way that’s fun and easier to hear. Chances are, just being heard in a spirit of good fun will allow everyone to feel safe and ready to consider adjusting their behavior.

2) Use arguments as opportunities to create a stronger connection with your mate instead of a weaker one, and learn more about yourself and your partner in the process.

Start by asking yourself this heart and mind expanding and possibly life changing question, “Am I more committed to winning this argument, or to the quality of our relationship?” Learn a tried and proven 4 step technique called, “Non-violent Communication”.  Replace arguing with compassion, empathy, discovery of unmet needs, and simple doable requests.  Walk in the other person’s shoes, practice validation, and move toward positive change rather than stonewalling.

3) Make resolving unmet relationship needs a priority.  

You may be wondering what unmet needs negatively affect relationships.  Respect, compassion, finances, & understanding are a few. Learn the eight needs that are most predictive of long lasting happy marriages. Empathize with the other person so that you can feel their pain in not getting their needs met.  Establish one mutually agreed upon action that will better satisfy this intention. Get automatic reminders to help you keep that agreement.  

4) Be mindful and accountable.  

Trust depends on behavior that is consistent and reliable.  Any kind of relationship that doesn’t have trust, isn’t a safe, healthy, nor authentic one.  Find out daily or weekly – or as often as you want- exactly how well you are doing in meeting the other’s most important relationship needs by spending 5 minutes checking into a certain web app on your computer.  Take the action recommended to continue building strength and resiliency in your relationship.

5) Restore the other’s faith that you can and will be a better partner.

How?  By using a tool called “Motivate My Partner”.  Consider the sources of the other person’s reluctance to engage in efforts to restore and/or strengthen your relationship.  Get suggestions on how to gently address those concerns.  Saying something like this could help, “We have some problems that need fixing. Let’s tackle the small problems we have now, before they turn into big problems later.”

6) Be more constructively honest with the other person and help him/her to be more constructively honest with you.

Sounds tough? There’s soon to be a software tool that will help you do this. It is fittingly called, “Sleeping Dogs”.   People that want to avoid facing difficult truths often prefer to let sleeping dogs lie. Using this simple and effective tool, you can take your relationship to the next level of understanding and connection.  

7) Get a helpful reminder with tips to maintain five positive interactions for every negative one. 

Show your admiration, respect, understanding, and appreciation to those most important to you.  John Gottman’s Five to One Ratio demonstrates that couples who have five positive interactions for every negative one have a more successful marriage. When one person demonstrates positive sentiments, it’s typically reciprocated and becomes a natural element of the relationship.  Just like laughter is contagious, so is kindness and warmth.  

So what is this wonderful tool chest that enables you to integrate this advice into your daily life? It’s a web app (not yet mobile) called CoupleWise.com.  Its new version is just launched and they are anxious to get their first 2000 users a.s.a.p. It’s free until your partner joins, and then for 30 more days. If you sign up now it’s only $4.95 per month after the 30 day free period (soon to jump to 19.95).  It’s not yet mobile, so you’ll need a desktop or laptop.  If you want the tips, tools, reminders (and soon rewards!) required to accomplish this relationship revival, stop wasting time.  Activate your New Years Resolution this month.  What are you waiting for?  

*For more ideas on games to play that make the ordinary situations of everyday life extraordinary, no matter how busy you are, check out Simple Fun for Busy People: 333 Ways to Enjoy Your Loved Ones More in the Time You Have, whose author is the cofounder of CoupleWise.com.  After all, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing!” -Ashley Montagu

P.S. In case your partner isn’t as motivated as you are by these tips and the Couplewise app, follow us on twitter @Couplewise to get our upcoming “Motivate My Partner” contest invite. In the meantime, Couplewise has a neat tool that does just that.  It provides great ideas from motivated wives and husbands that proved effective for them in motivating their partners.  You can get a free one year subscription to CoupleWise for sending in a great idea yourself.

Please send us your suggestions and questions. Suggestions for improving Couplewise.com can get you one year for free. Gary@couplewise.com or Heather@couplewise.com