Archive for November 23rd, 2010

23
Nov


Enlightened couples are coached to perpetually ask: “how does that make you feel?” We’re taught to believe that an intimate relationship is about active listening and highly evolved communication — all the time.

While we shouldn’t throw those ideals out altogether, sometimes couples say crappy things to each other. And so what if they do? Maybe it’s time we reined in our New Age urge to say everything just so, and learned the fine art of letting it go.

In a close, healthy relationship, off-color comments are more likely a reflection of a negative mood than a true crisis, according to Richard Carlson, a psychologist and author of You Can Be Happy No Matter What.

Let’s assume for the moment we’re not talking about a pattern of hostility, or true passive aggressive behavior that shouldn’t be ignored.

There is a reason unfortunate remarks are a normal part of couplehood. When you live with someone through it all — solving problems together, traveling together, sleeping together and cursing the bills together — you experience the person sans social politeness.

“The more time we spend with someone, the more likely we are going to see them in their low moods,” writes Carlson.

Don’t overanalyze the specific words and phrases made offhandedly by your mate, urges Carlson. “So often, just letting others alone while they are in a low state of mind is all they need,” he says. “The last thing they need or want is someone questioning or arguing with them.”

Not every imperfect exchange needs to lead to a therapy session, says self-esteem author Jerry Minchinton.

We tend to be more courteous and sensitive around the people we don’t know so well, he says. This is because nearly all occasions with friends and acquaintances are by definition more formal and circumspect than those with a loved one.

When we stop worrying about politeness and flattery, we start to get at the good stuff. “[Heated discussions] aren’t all bad,” asserts Minchinton. “Getting the raw material — even if some of it has to be discounted — means you are at a deeper level.”

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