NCTW (6)

>> Saturday, January 30, 2010

Of course with couple's negative patterns for communication we find ways to provide practicals for constructive and healthy communication techniques that hopefully will be practiced in order to help the couple to decrease high levels of conflicts and strengthen their commitment. But we also understand that it is important to address "weeds" in a marriage that have not been addressed and dealt with or have been exposed but the couple is unable to maturely identify the problem and a solution.

Hidden Issues

  • Control and power- Who is in charge and do you feel controlled?
  • Caring-Do you feel loved and cared for?
  • Recognition-Do you feel valued for who you are and what you do?
  • Integrity-Do you feel challenged or dismayed in how you see yourself?
  • Commitment-Do you feel insecure about your marriage? Do you wonder if your partner will stay with you?
  • Acceptance-Do you have a desire for acceptance and a fear of rejection? (This is the parent of all hidden issues).
  • Divorce old patterns rather than one's partner.
  • Step outside of the emotional logic of problem patterns.
  • Create pleasure even when still in pain.
  • Ask yourself,"what would you rather keep or increase?"
  • Help couple move from a perception of head-to-head to side-to-side with their problems.
  • Reframe: differences as strengths, a binocular vision.
  • Reframe: crisis=danger+opportunity. Opportunity is always present in crisis.
  • Reframe: growth comes from conflict! Ask yourself, "what psychological or emotional question might you be trying to answer by choosing your partner?


NCTW (5)

>> Friday, January 29, 2010

It is important for the couple to know their negative communication patterns of distress. Once they can identify to these patterns, they can be taught some practices for healthy ways to communicate.

"The Practicals"

  • Time Out-as discussed in NCTW (2).
  • The Speaker/Listener Technique- a communication tool is used called "The Floor", is held by one partner (or speaker who has the floor). This partner brings up a topic for discussion while the other partner listens. The partner that listens is to paraphrase what the speaker is conveying. Ex. Speaker: I feel ignored when I am speaking to you and you do not answer me. Listener: What I hear you saying is that you feel ignored when you are speaking to me and I do not answer you. After several times of having the floor the partners switch, speaking on the same topic. For more info and to purchase hand held "Floor" tool go to Prep educational products. They use 30 years of research on tools to improve marriages. *Note: This technique is suppose to have an artificial feel but allows the listener to borrow the eyes of the speaker. After some time it becomes more fluid.
  • Constructive Griping-in "XYZ". *When you did X (Specific Behavior),*In situation Y (Specific Situation), *I felt Z (Owning Feelings, be Specific and Respectful).
  • Problem Solving Model- [Part 1] Problem Discussion-the goal is to understand and to be understood, encourage couple to use Speaker/Listener Technique, create environment of teamwork. [Part 2] Problem Solution (ABC123+F)-Agenda Setting, Brainstorming, (Combining, Compromising, Contracting + Follow up). *Note: When brainstorming together, write down ideas without saying no to anything. Capitalize on the differences in the partners. Create a specific plan with who will do what. At follow up have an accountability to the plan.
  • Soothing Activities (alone or with each other)-Swimming, Tai Chi, Yoga, Nature, Music & Arts, Prayer, Massage, mindful walking, eating and breathing activities.


NCTW (4)

>> Thursday, January 28, 2010

Based on research findings, what are the impacts of marital discord and divorce on children?

Effects on Children

  1. Marital discord is linked to psychobehavioral problems expressed in external disorders, negative behavior you can see and internal disorders that are difficult to see.
  2. Creates and exacerbates genetically based vulnerabilities.
  3. Creates deficits in control and emotional expression.
  4. Disturbs the regulation of physiological and neuroendocrine systems.
  5. Conflict prior to divorce has a greater impact on children than both parental absence and economic difficulties after divorce. High conflict before the divorce is worse that the divorce itself.
  6. Children of divorce parents show more aggression, hyperactivity, impulsive, anxiety and emotional problems, up to 11 years before the actual divorce, due to marital conflict.
  7. Children do not get used to marital conflict. Increase in exposure leads to and increase in reactivity (distress, anger, aggression with peers).
  8. Children feel motivated to reduce and sooth their parents anger. They will do better in school, make encouraging drawings, clean up more around the house, etc.
  9. Young children of (4- 9 years of age) believe they can change their parent's anger. Older kids try less as they are not as hopeful.
  10. Children as young as 4 years old have specific beliefs about ways to lessen parents anger that result form marital discord.


NCTW (3)

>> Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Based on research findings on couple distress and disruption, here are some negative communication patterns to identify and avoid:

  • Escalation
  1. Summarizing Self Syndrome-a stand off, stating and restating your point of view.
  2. Yes, but...
  3. Cross Complaining-one partner brings up a problem and the other partner presents a different problem to discuss.
  4. Kitchen Sinking-a laundry list of pain, everything the other partner has ever done, can be too much to swallow.
  5. Character Assassination-instead of saying "it bother's me when you do not pick up after yourself", the partner says you are a slob. It is basic name calling.
  6. Always/Never-globalizing specific complaints to generalizations.
  7. Blaming-a power control tool.
  • Withdrawal-when one partner withdraws the other partner pursues. With less pursuing there is less withdrawal. Another form is Stonewalling-partner is in distress but has a lack of concern on face, face frozen with facial muscles tightened.
  • Invalidation-under responsive, dismissive, not empathetic, ignoring, not validating or sharing.
  • Negative Interpretations-having or developing a theory of others negative intention. "They don't care about me based on..."Connecting the dots in all the ways they don't care or love us. These concepts flow into each other.


NCTW (2)

>> Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another interesting concept before we get to the practicals, is a term I have heard but never quite used in my vocabulary until now. It is a comforting term. Even when I say it, I feel comforted and couples should be able to do this for each other as well as for self.


  • During an escalation, couples or one spouse should be able to call a "Time Out" or signal when the pause button needs to be pressed on the current disagreement. Arguments are like magnets that cause the conflict to escalate. Removing yourself from the conflict allows you to step away and think through the situation, as in a hyperaroused state, it is difficult to deescalate. This is where self soothing is important. Dr. Fraenkel recommends (for those living in a fast pace city) within 48 hours to return to the the pending discussion (compensating for busy lifestyles).
  • Soothing techniques for better communication-will be discussed later in "The Practicals".
  • Pleasure Points are great and quick ways to sooth each other. Some quick, 60 second pleasure points is a concept originated by Dr. Fraenkel but compiled by the audience: Kiss, hug, hold hands, look into each others eyes, frisking, sing, stroke hair, stroke face, stroke toes and one person in a training he did some time ago, by a very muscular gentleman said in a deep voice, being stroked with velvet :) I love it.


Notes from Couple's Toolbox Workshop (1)

>> Monday, January 25, 2010

The Training was very good. It was mostly for those interested in helping other couples but also a learning platform for your own marriage. The opening question was how can I help this couple to lower risks and raise protective factors.


  • Couples usually have angry interchanges which are hard to overcome and hard to have fun. they would rather "clear the deck" first before having fun but by then it is too late.
  • Helping them to take a chance on having fun, on opening their heart, can be scary, but safe fun is part of raising the protection levels.
  • Sometimes couples develop a "Desert in a marriage and what they need is an Oasis"-Dr. Fraenkel.
  • Research states it is the negative patterns in a marriage that destroys the marriage. Creating positive moments counter act negative patterns. It is said that for every negative criticism you should have at least five positive things to say about/to your spouse. Dr Fraenkel believes it actually takes one criticism to destroy all the positive ones. This is because we are wired for detecting danger. Freud called it "signal danger". He gave an example of a man who felt he could say whatever nasty remarks he wanted to his wife. Yet he was shocked when his daughters spoke so disrespectfully to him. He did not tie together that they were modeling him and how negative behavior had impacted his family.


Couples Training Workshop

>> Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's always important to continue refreshing yourself at whatever you do. I wanted to let you know about a Couple's Training I will be attending by a former Professor of mine. He will be conducting a workshop on "The Toolbox for Couples"-key skills and ideas to prevent conflict and strengthen relationships. It will be held at the Ackerman Institute in NYC and presented by Dr. Peter Fraenkel. If you get this info too late there are other trainings throughout the year. I'll update you on Friday to let you know how it went.



>> Tuesday, January 12, 2010

An email was sent to me recently that gave me such a jolt. I was upset at my husband because he was upset at me (you know how that goes). Then I read this email sent to me by a longtime friend. The email heading was "Do It While You Can". The email told a story of a woman whose husband had died. She had discovered the meaning of the word "anymore", that sometimes there isn't "anymore". No more hugs, phone calls, words of goodbye or I love you. So while you can love, care, fix and heal you should do so. It goes on to say we are all "Keepers" and that we could be the ones to go tomorrow. Would those in your life know how much you care for them?

It reminded me of of Ramon Cruz a postal worker who just helped me at the post office. He went over and beyond helping and I told him he should get a raise. He smiled and I felt such a warm vibe from him. Three weeks later I went back and a picture of him was hanging with directions to his funeral. He retired December 31st and two days later died. I was in shock and the woman behind me on line started crying as she said she knew him to be the nicest person for the last 3 years. She left the line stating she would have to come back later. The picture of him showed the same warm smile.

To all of you, you have impacted me each in so many wonderful ways. Thank you and all the best in everything you put your hands to do. And to my husband I love you more than life. I am no longer angry and can't wait till he comes home to tell him I love him. Please be inspired to do the same for someone you are thinking of.