Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

I’ve been working with a Mom whose son is being bullied.

This poor little boy survived a horrible school year of taunting, teasing and behind-the-adults back general nastiness, only to be so happy to go to summer camp and discover that the bullly was in his group. It’s no fair. No one ever should have to put up with being treated that way.

I kept thinking that bullies don’t stop in elementary school — bosses sure can be bullies, so can co-workers. And, far too often it’s one’s spouse who can be a bully. And in all these cases –it’s not ok.

So, how does one handle a situation where someone is name calling, taunting, plotting-against, teasing or worse? Here are three Power of Two Principles.

1. Leave a situation that gets too heated. If someone or something is not treating you right, exit. Exit early — no need to stick around for more taunting. Go to a different part of the playground. Help a child find a different bully-free activity. Suddenly develop an urgent need to get some water. And all the more so if it’s your spouse who isn’t sticking to the rules. Help your spouse stop bullying by leaving the situation before it gets unpleasant. (BTW, between adults one can and should then come back to the person/topic to try to address things in a more productive manner).

2. Be better than the bully. That is, be a better person than someone who thinks being nasty is ok. Take the high road. While it may never change them, it will change you. You’ll become a better and stronger person when you handle tough situations with calm, clarity, poise and grace.

3. Be positively proactive. While there’s a time to turn the other cheek, it’s for sure time to get a better plan. Instead of getting blinded by a desire for revenge, look down the road. What can you do to set-up a better situation in the future? How can you learn new tools for calmly standing up for yourself? How can you change the situation to reduce the odds you’ll be facing bullying behaviors? Keep the focus on what can I do. Be very wary of how can I get back at the bully.

Want more information on relationship safety? Check this out — http://poweroftwomarriage.com/actions/action/special_topics-safety-dv_flash/.

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I had a wonderful session with a couple today where we talked about the hallmark of truly first rate listening. Here’s what we arrived at.

First rate listening transforms THE LISTENER.

Yes, it’s wonderful to be listened to and listening is a gift to do for anyone you care about.

And, the real halmark of great listening is that every time you really do it well — that is listen to learn from your spouse — it’s a chance to become a more open, more understanding and more educated you.

So, next time you’re listening, notice if it’s changing YOU.

Want more on how to do this kind of listening? Watch a video of me teaching about listening here.

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Ok, this one might seem like a stretch – – –  hang in there with me.

My husband forwarded me this article about teaching math — http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/18/a-better-way-to-teach-math/.

As a former math teacher I found it interesting. As Power of Two Head Coach I found it fascinating!

Here’s my take on math and marriage.

  1. Both are based on solid skills knowledge.
  2. Both take lots of practice to make those skills come naturally.
  3. Most folks have great intuition about how to do both. It’s when there’s any pressure or challenge to the situation that this basic good sense gets totally chucked.
  4. Nearly everyone can learn to be first rate at both with some bite-sized, incremental learning.

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I have been working with a number of wonderful military families.  It’s a stressful life — many of these couples have spent the VAST majority of their marriage with one spouse deployed and the other trying to hang in there on the home front.

Then, when the deployed spouse gets home, it’s hard.  Really hard.  And often hard in surprising ways.  One of the most common themes I hear is that, instead of having a romantic reunion, the couple finds themselves in a sexless, tense marriage.

What can you do if your marriage, no matter what the reason, feels like roommates instead of lovers? Here are a few things to try.

1.  Focus on rediscovering romance.  What made things sizzle when you first became romantically engaged?  What activities did you enjoy doing together?  What new things did you try?   Try putting down all the wear and tear and daily grind, at least for a week or two, and focus on spending fun time together.  Try something new.  Revisit an old haunt.  Ship the kids to a friend’s house for the weekend and go hiking just as a couple.   Enjoying each other’s company is an important piece of laying the groundwork to get the chemistry sizzling again.

2.  Explore concerns.  Your job, as the spouse wanting to bring the sizzle back, is to be a concerns sleuth.  Warmly, gently ask your spouse to help you understand what are the thoughts and feelings he/she has around sex these days.  Your job is to listen with open ears — even if things are hard to hear.  Your job is to make it possible for your spouse to share that they are worried that having sex will lead to a flood of uncontrollable emotions (especially likely for military spouses with PTSD) or that they find the extra pounds you put on not so attractive (very hard to hear, and very good to know!) or that they feel guilty touching you because their thoughts (or more) have strayed.  These are all hard to hear, and at the same time, understanding your spouse’s, likely very real concerns, will put you back on a path of being a TEAM to figuring out how to move forwards.

3.  Sometime NIKE has it right– just do it!  Sometimes, one spouse is just never in the mood.  It happens a lot when you’re getting older, stressed out, too busy and/or just slow-to-warm up.  Sometimes, as un-romantic as this sounds, scheduling a night, or morning, or afternoon for sex is really helpful.  When it’s “date” time, light some candles, put on music, put fresh sheets on in the bed, and, well, test what happens if you both just give it a whirl.  Then talk about what you could do on your next “date” to improve the experience for you both.


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Affairs are horrible painful.  They are painful for the couple.  They are miserable for children who find out what happened.  And, for the most part, they also end up being terribly painful for the “third leg.”

And, at the same time, affairs are one of the most preventable causes of marital distress.


Four simple rules:

  1. Save conversations about anything intimate, revealing, special, exciting etc for your spouse.
  2. Know your family history.  If your parent(s) cheated, you need to be particularly alert to avoid making their mistakes.
  3. Try to be home with your family for dinner.  If you have to travel or do business dinners be very careful!
  4. Stay away from ex’s and old friends of the opposite sex– especially if you just rediscovered them.
  5. Be open and honest when either of you have situations that start to feel uncomfortably charged or concerning.
  6. Keep your marriage strong, intimate and loving.

Want to test you savvy?  Click on the picture or here for a fun interactive quiz.

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I got an invitation this week to attend a talk by Peter Wood about his book “A Bee in the Mouth.”  While I haven’t read the book, the description caught my attention.

Why are Americans so angry? Politicians launch preemptive strikes against their opponents; journalists pursue vendettas against public figures; talking heads spit venom at each other on wrathful radio and television shows. In the past, we disagreed with others, sometimes strongly, but we heard them out. Now we want to obliterate their opinions. Our public life seems more and more dominated by expressions of ungoverned rage.

Yes, why do any of us tolerate so much anger?  Why we like it in the public domain is for Wood to explore, I’m more concerned with how much trouble anger in our private lives causes.

Nothing ruins a perfectly good marriage faster than anger.  In fact, I put together a video all about the topic a few weeks ago for Power of Two Online.

Without further ado, my top 10 ways that anger can ruin a perfectly good marriage (or any other relationship for that matter!).

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