Imagine going to a counselor before there’s a problem...to create a better future for you and your partner. .. to increase the odds of it working out successfully.
Personally, I would rather anticipate and then prevent a problem. It is easier, less painful and causes less stress than repair and recovery once you discover the problem. If you know yourself, you know what your issues are and you can make a good guess as to the fact that this particular issue is going to surface in your next relationship. What if you took care of it before it affected the relationship? What if you know what the issues will be in your relationship and you went as a couple to a couples counselor before the issues affected you, not to play clean up the mess.
Imagine in the first year of dating, regularly going to a counselor to improve your communication skills and stack the deck in your favor. The downside? Even if you break up, you walk away with valuable relationship/communication skills for use with a future partner.
Or think about this: Your relationship with yourself dictates how well your relationship with others is going to be. If you can improve your relationship with yourself, you create your future. If you can resolve issues, you are less likely to affect your future relationships.
Many people don’t choose counseling until the problem is almost insurmountable.
Imagine doing good self-care and self-love so that in the new relationship you’re able to love that other person more deeply and more fully. When you are self critical, you are more likely to be critical of others. When you are compassionate to yourself, you increase your odds of being compassionate to your partner. Imagine being as healthy as you can be!
Specific suggestions for your communication process:
How to have a better fight/argument: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH9YvDiOz2o
Nonviolent communication is so powerful as a connector, please consider using it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBjKvvHEvlk
How to tell the children: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RW7mwsx1yI
How feelings work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBrUzXM64NU
Can you clarify to improve your communication: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ-FDA3jCOI
Validating your partner for effective communication: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8AiO1t7VEA
Getting your needs met: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KKgdneFrkQ
Topics From Game Theory That Apply to Mediation:
Don’t get tricked into fighting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opmNL35zKio
Nash Equilibrium is the highest win-win: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bl6Yb5Kd4bY
Bayes Rule for conflict: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4hmm0BYKjA
Don’t make it into win-lose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVLe1Z2lRgs
Process Standards- do we both have buy-in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIhy_cUYcZg
Topic Areas Within Mediation
College Expenses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUgLxTqfynA
Equitable Distribution of Assets in mediation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQv_wR9EB9w
Child support concepts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgUUiuvysD4
The Parenting Plan (formerly called custody) and schedule: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-zEQCY9uHU
Talking about your ex: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ivbkVmjFec
Talking about money: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NhUtu7y798
Talking about taxes and implications during the process of divorce: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt24Si1kMog
Ideas for your Budget during mediation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbOQpaCxJe4
Step kids and kids; how to have the conversations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwZG_ZOmYOw
Talking about the chores: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg2xWRWofi0
Is Mediation Right For Us?
I have put together some information, as a Divorce Mediator, as well as a Couples Counselor:
Inspiration to listen before you go to mediation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoD8fHN_BVQ
Should I mediate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJDfpAJZphU
Before you mediate (good food for your mind) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aIAQvp2hR4
Goal of protection during Mediation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlAMfVome5g
Practical Prep for Mediation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcJwz916Sm4
Think about who you want to mediate your divorce process.
Who do you trust guiding you and having your best interests?
Think about the personality of the person and how well they “play with others.” Is your mediator someone humble enough that she/he knows they need to forever continue their education, and give back to the field or is it the person who is a lone wolf or hypercompetitive?
Do you want someone who is willing to give information out for free or hoard it?
Is it someone who has a “one size fits all” approach?
Is it someone who can get you connected to experts or the person who thinks they know all the aspects of divorce process?
Do you want someone who knows the topics but can also deal with your feelings?
Do you want someone who is warm and fuzzy and can be empathetic?
Do you want someone whose office returns your calls?
My self talk is “ if she expects me to open up at all after that... no way. She expects me to do the heavy lifting and she doesn’t do her work. Her strategy can’t possibly work effectively with me or with any other long term relationship. If she’s not going to be open and honest about her inner workings despite me repeatedly asking and modeling, it’s like she’s asking to get paid for full time work but only works part time. It’s not fair or emotionally honest. “
How many of us have been in relationships where one person does the majority of the work with emotions? They maybe want something for nothing or are a bit on the lazy side? If you want an adult healthy relationship, then you have to have some bravery and courage. You have to let your partner know who you are.
Another couple, she says, “It seems like you’re hiding from me and using words to hide. It’s like that stealth bomber and how it distracts and focuses the attention away from the aircraft. It doesn’t feel direct or genuine and hinders my ability to know you (intimacy is that you want to know me and be known). Yet you tell me you want me to know you. That’s a strong message but it’s a mixed message.”
She is not sure if he really wants to be known or if he is happy with the current depth of the relationship. She wants emotional connection, not just words, but words that connect them.
How would you proceed if you were in this conversation?
Try the following and see how it fits you
Ken Cloke talks about how to be in conflict. Think about what is being called out in you…
1. Show up and be present.
2. Listen empathetically for what is hidden beneath words.
3. Tell the truth without blaming or judgment.
4. Engage in authentic, heart-felt communication.
5. Be open-minded, open-hearted, and unattached to outcomes.
6. Act collaboratively in relationships.
7. Display unconditional integrity and respect.
8. Draw on your deepest intuition.
9. Work for completion and closure.
10. Be ready for anything at every moment.
11. Be able to let go, while giving up on no one.
“You’re seemingly not open to connecting. You seem surprised maybe that I’m here. I thought we discussed it. Did we have a miscommunication?”
He came over after work and she didn’t greet him at the door, and said, “Oh, you’re here.”
He continued, “You’re not really verbally affectionate so you might be glad I’m there, probably yeah. So much guessing on my part. I don’t really know. I don’t know how to match your indifference and flat affect while keeping connected to you.” Her face didn’t indicate she was happy to see him and he was excited to see her and he smiled and had inflection in his voice. She tells him she’s happy but it doesn’t seem like that to him.
“Do you care that I came over? Would you mind telling your face? It is such a struggle to see your face when you are excited and compare it to when you see me. If you do not want to see me, then we should do something about it. Do we break up or spice it up or talk about it or ignore it and hope it goes away?”
He asks her to be accountable for her behavior. He is direct about it and perhaps more aggressive than he needs to be, but this is also a repeated dynamic for this couple. She tells him that she is happy, while having a poker face and not demonstrating in other ways that she is happy he is there.
He offers to go home and just meet up when she wants to. She insists she is happy he is there.
He wants to connect with her, using words, not just cuddling and being intimate physically.
He keeps bidding for their attention and they are distracted.
“You tell me repeatedly how exhausted you are. I figured that out the first time and saw it in your face. You are wiped out. True story- I should go home at this point and let you do what you need. You tell me details of your day but don’t really seem to want to discuss it more, or tell me anything but the facts, just tell me -not a true dialogue -so I listen. My preference is to know you, not about you. To hear how things affect you and how you process them emotionally and mentally so that I can know you better. You don’t seem to value it because it is a fairly rare happening. I reciprocate and you don’t follow up or ask questions to get to know me better. It just feels shallow and is not filling me.” She talks at him, not with him and he wants to be a partner, to do it together. He is telling her in strong words, how hard it is for him.
Put yourself in his shoes and experience like he experiences it. He has tried many different ways to express himself and she doesn’t seem to get it. What would you suggest?
I am starting a YouTube channel to help guide people through basics of conflict resolution, using bite sized videos. Less than two minutes of your time per video and you'll have all the tools you need to be productive going forward. If you practice, rehearse and evaluate yourself after listening and viewing the videos, you will be a pro in no time.
First: Please keep in mind that when I value a relationship, I am more likely to confront. If I don't care about a relationship, you won't find as much conflict, people simply avoid.
Is it worth it for me to gather my thoughts, suffer through the angst, screw up my courage and have a difficult conversation?
I think in this relationship, it is worth our while to see if we can fix a pattern I have noticed. I want you to know how your behavior affects me and would like to know how mine affects you.
"Intimacy" implies getting to know each other and letting the other person know us. Is your confrontation an invitation to get to know me or am I venting my anger on you and blaming you for the problem?