This was first published on KSL.com
Many couples who are having problems in their relationship get stuck because they are both holding onto resentment over past wrongs. This resentment can build up for years around a long list of slights, offenses or mistreatment. Even if you both learn new relationship or communication skills and start behaving better, the long-held resentment can still trigger your ego to keep some distance.
Your ego rises up to protect and promote you; that is its job. It thinks it’s helping you by holding onto anger or past hurts. It thinks this resentment protects you from further mistreatment, but it’s actually making things worse. When you get stuck in resentment, you are creating a relationship that is distant, passive-aggressive, divided, lonely and cold. This is not the relationship you want.
Take a minute and think about the kind of relationship you do want. If you got to design it and create any dynamics, feelings and behaviors you wanted, what would it look like? Would it be safe, full of trust and love, unselfish, giving, kind and understanding? Would it include both parties forgiving quickly and letting the other be a work in progress? How would you handle disagreements and conflict? Take the time to write down on paper what your dream relationship would look like.
Now, remember you are creating a fantasy and real-life can’t ever live up to that, but you also can’t create something better if you can’t see. So, figuring it out is the first step to creating it.
Next, what kind of behaviors would you need to adopt if you wanted to create this? How would you need to show up differently? You don’t have control over the other person, so you have to start by changing your own behavior. You may want to ask a friend, coach, or counselor to help you figure this out if you can’t see it.
Here are some suggestions for making that happen:
1. Remember life is a classroom and your romantic partner is your greatest teacher
You have attracted this person into your life to help you grow and become smarter, wiser and more loving. Their job is to push your buttons and trigger your fear issues, giving you opportunities to see them and work on them. That is why every relationship is a perfect storm of fear. Your fears create behaviors that trigger their fears, and their fears trigger behavior that triggers you even more. Around and around you can go, getting more distant, unsafe and divided.
When you see your relationship as your perfect classroom, you will see “perfect lessons for you” in every past mistreatment. Those weren’t slights; they were triggers to give you a chance to improve yourself. How did you do? Did you react badly and further damage the relationship? What could you have done differently to turn their fear-driven bad behavior around and stopped the cycle? If you focus more on your own past bad behavior and work on fixing that, you will get a lot farther than you would by holding resentment about theirs.
2. See every moment as your chance to forgive and grow
When you see your spouse’s bad behavior as your own school class, you harbor less resentment and handle situations better. You will also feel more motivated to rise to the occasion and take the high road — because the issue isn’t really about mistreatment; it’s about your growth.
I have written many articles on forgiveness for KSL.com. You should look some of them up because every really good relationship is made of two people who are good forgivers. If your relationship is full of resentment, you aren’t forgiving. You might hold onto past hurts because you think it punishes the other person or protects you from future pain, but this isn’t true. It actually creates less love and more mistreatment. Your partner feels the wall you have up, and this makes them afraid for themselves, so they put their wall up.
You will always create exactly what you fear. In focusing on protecting yourself, you are giving no love and you won’t get any back. When you set aside resentment and forgive, and start giving love (even if it’s undeserved), your partner will genuinely want to love you back.
3. Take responsibility for your fear issues
You must take responsibility for your bad behavior in the relationship. Your insecurities and fears (and the bad behavior they create) are your jobs to fix. Try to name your fear triggers when they happen. Are you feeling fear of failure and not feeling good enough? Do you feel taken from or mistreated (which is fear of loss)? Can you tell which fear your spouse is battling? When you can name them, you will also know what you and they need (validation and reassurance).
When you get triggered, instead of either shutting down or exploding, you can say, “I need you to reassure me and love me through the insecurities this has triggered in me. Could you do that?” Or ask, “What do you need right now to make you feel safer with me?” If you can learn to quiet each other’s fears, the relationship will improve fast.
Your partner probably needs you to listen, honor and respect their right to think and feel the way they do. They also need you to own your past bad behavior and apologize for it. Even if you think they behaved worse, own your part and say sorry. Being vulnerable and humble creates a safer space where they are more likely to own their bad behavior too.
If you get angry and fly off the handle (regularly) you are, again, having a fear issue and it is your job to fix it. You only get angry or offended when you fear failure or your fear of loss and feel either insulted, taken from or mistreated. If anger is an issue for you, identify the fear trigger that gets you most of the time and start practicing getting a handle on it, all by yourself. Choose to trust your value cannot be diminished by anyone or anything. If your spouse gets disappointed or frustrated with your behavior, there might be some good lessons there, but you still have the same intrinsic value as everyone else. If you see yourself and your value as unchangeable you won’t get angry as often.
Then, choose to trust the universe that you are safe all the time and can’t fail or lose anything unless it serves you to lose it as part of your perfect classroom. If you choose a perspective of fearlessness and safety, your spouse will no longer be a threat, and you won’t get angry or offended as often.
Resentment is by far one of the most dangerous emotion in your relationships. It can build walls and create disconnection that can even become permanent. Instead of worrying about the past, focus today on showing up with love and kindness, quiet your spouse’s fears with lots of validation and reassurance, show them you see their goodness more than their faults, and be quick to own and apologize when you do wrong. Nothing erases resentment faster than a sincere apology.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is a human behavior, people skills expert. She is the CEO and founder of 12 Shapes Inc and provides Team Building and People Skills Training for companies and individuals.
This was first published on KSL.com
SALT LAKE CITY — Last week’s article explained why most problems are fear related and how two core fears can be responsible for most bad behavior. This article explains how those two fears can create three different dynamics in your relationships.
Before I explain the three dynamics, the two core fears and the problems they cause at their worst are:
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A fear of failure dominant person with another fear of failure dominant person
In this kind of relationship both parties might be insecure and needy for reassurance that they are loved, respected and wanted. If both parties are functioning in a fear state this could mean they are focused on getting validation and no one is giving any. When I meet with these kinds of couples they are both saying the exact same thing — they both fear being unloved and unwanted. There usually isn't much conflict in these relationships, though, because both parties hate it. Instead, they both pull away and could start living around each other like roommates. To make this kind of relationship work, both parties need to work on their own self-esteem and stop making their partner responsible for their happiness.
In a balanced trust and love state, these relationships can be wonderful, safe and reassuring, where both parties are givers and able to show up emotionally for the other.
A fear of loss dominant person with another fear of loss dominant person
In this kind of relationship, both parties need control to feel safe in the world which can cause quite a bit of conflict. They are both on the lookout for offenses and mistreatment and may think it’s there when it really isn’t. When I meet with these couples I hear them say the same thing — they feel the other party is mean, controlling or irritating. Both parties need to work on letting go of their need for control and being right to make this relationship work. They need to watch how they speak to each other and be as understanding and as flexible as possible.
In a balanced trust and love state, these relationships can reach maximum productivity. These two people can get things done and have everything working like a well-oiled machine while having mutual respect and admiration for each other. The good work that one does can make the other person feel more secure and safe in the world, curing the other's core fear.
A fear of failure dominant person with a fear of loss dominant person
This is the most common of the three — perhaps because opposites attract. In these relationships, there can be a lot of misunderstanding, resentment and disappointment because you just don’t get the other person and can’t understand why they aren't more like you.
We all subconsciously might think of our way as being the right way. It is important that you remember we all have the same value and no way of being is better or worse than the other, they are just different.
In these relationships, the fear of failure dominant person can often feel criticized and judged as the fear of loss dominant person may be prone to correcting and pointing out what isn’t right. The latter may not mean to be critical and could just be trying to help or make things better, but their comments could trigger the person with the fear of failure, causing them to detach or even feel unsafe with the other person. This could start to drive a wedge between them.
The fear of loss dominant person might feel the other pulling back and this could make them feel mistreated, which will actually bring out more criticism. This vicious cycle plays out until there is a giant wedge and deep resentment on both sides.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
In a balanced trust and love state, the fear of loss dominant person has the ability to recognize the insecurity in the other and give them reassurance that they are admired, respected and wanted.
You shouldn't, however, be responsible for your partner's self-esteem — that is their job. But you can be a safe place and that can help improve the relationship.
In a balanced trust and love state, the fear of failure dominant person also has the ability to recognize their partner's need for control and where that stems from and can offer support when needed.
The trick to getting both parties into a balanced trust and love state is working on the following beliefs, which may eliminate the two core fears:
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a life coach, speaker and author, and has a free quiz online where you can figure your dominant core fear and your Relationship Behavior Shape. Check it out at www.12shapes.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com
My husband and I disagree on parenting. He is very strict and hard on our kids and I’m more understanding and nurturing. I think the way he parents our sensitive son is just not right, but he refuses to do it my way because he sees it as wrong. I know we should be a united front with our kids and have each other’s backs, but we both think we are right. Most of the time I give in because he’s so adamant but I resent him for always having his way and my voice doesn’t count or matter. I think his way is hurting our son, but he is so stubborn he won’t even consider that he’s wrong. Any suggestions?
What you are really asking is, "How do you deal with a spouse (or anyone) who is not open to the possibility they are wrong and refuses to compromise?"
I’m so glad you asked this because there are stubborn, opinionated, fear-driven people all around us and they can be a challenge to live or work with. First, I want you to understand why they are this way.
As a human behavior expert for the last 16 years, I believe that all bad behavior is driven by fear — and there are two core fears that drive most of it. They are the fear of failure and the fear of loss. We all have both of them in play to some degree every day, but our reactions to them can be very different.
For example, fear of failure can make some people shrink and say nothing, because it feels safer, while it makes others super-opinionated because they need the validation that comes from being right and heard. It’s the same fear, but two very different reactions.
I believe your spouse seems to be the later. He needs the validation that comes from being right to feel safe in the world. So he cannot ever admit he is wrong or he would subconsciously feel he had no value at all.
People who respond to fear of failure this way can have trouble in relationships because they find it hard to compromise, listen to others opinions, apologize or tolerate people with whom they disagree. They can also be afraid of looking bad, and a son who behaves badly could do that. People who respond to failure this way can also let ego and pride drive their behavior. They might think ego protects them, but it doesn’t create much connection in relationships.
I tell you all this because I want you to see beneath the ego to the scared person inside. If you see your spouse as scared of failure or looking bad, you will have more compassion for him.
Your spouse could also be having a fear of loss issue and might need a certain amount of control to feel safe. But people have to be ready and willing to do some personal development work before they are open to seeing their subconscious fear issues.
I want you to understand the behavior though, so you will know how to best handle the situation. Here are six suggestions for dealing with stubborn people:
1. Give them validation about whatever good behavior you see in them. Tell them often how much you appreciate their willingness to listen without fixing or consider both sides of an argument. Praise the behavior you want to see more of. People often want to live up to your highest opinion of them.
2. Ask lots of questions about an issue and see if they come up with similar solutions. They like to talk, so asking questions and listening gets them to open up. Ask them if they have any other ideas? Keep asking them to think it through and come up with other ideas. Do this until they reach one you both agree on.
3. When you need to discuss an issue and you really want to be heard, ask questions and listen to their opinions first. Then ask permission to share your ideas. Specifically ask them if they would be willing to be quiet, not interrupt or say anything for five minutes and let you fully explain your opinion before they respond. Ask them if they would be willing to consider your thoughts and not be too quick to shoot them down, because they are strongly held ideas and their rejection would be painful for you. Get their commitment before you say a word.
4. Then, phrase your opinion or ideas using lots of "I" statements. "I feel…" "I have observed…" "I believe…" "I really think…". It is hard for people to argue with your right to your perspective. They may think differently, but they must honor your right to see it your way.
5. If they are deeply in fear, to the degree of being unable to listen to other suggestions, don’t take it personally. I believe it is not about you — it is about their fears about themselves. When they solve those, they can then access their love and willingness to hear others.
6. Gently remind your spouse that their value is not on the line with your son’s behavior and that you both have to keep checking yourself, to make sure you aren’t making it about you. No matter how your son turns out, you still have the exact same value as everyone else.
If you try these things and nothing works, you may want to consider some counseling or coaching together. A third-party can often help resolve stubborn behavior in relationships.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a human behavior expert behind www.12shapes.com She hosts a weekly Relationship Radio show on Voice American and iTunes.
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, life coach Kim Giles explains the fear-trigger cycle that could wreak havoc in your relationship.
My marriage is strained right now due to the fact that my husband has started snoring and I can’t sleep. My husband is currently still sleeping on a blowup mattress in another room (his choice because I’ve told him I’m not sleeping with his snoring). I’m struggling to work out my part in this and my guilt around it and I don’t know what to do. I feel guilty, yet I also feel like I need to take care of myself, too. I know you aren’t an expert on snoring, but I hoped you could give us some ways to protect and improve our relationship and stop feeling bothered with each other, while we sort this out?
First, I recommend you have your husband see a doctor and check him out for sleep apnea or other physiological problems in play.
Remember snoring is a medical condition, not a personal failing. It can be easy for someone who snores to feel broken or flawed, and they might feel guilt and shame, too. The partner who can’t sleep can also feel guilty for being bothered with the snoring. These emotions can drive a wedge in your relationship.
It would also help for you to understand what I call the fear-trigger cycle. It helps you to see how you and your spouse trigger each other and getting this is the first step to changing things.
Here are a few ideas which make the fear-trigger cycle easy to understand.
1: My observation, as a life coach for the last 15 years, has been that love and fear cannot exist at the same time in the same person. If you are in fear, your focus is mostly on yourself and what you need to feel safe. In a fear state, you are more selfish and not capable of love.
2: I have found my clients have two core fears which create most of their bad human behavior. They are the fear of failure (the fear you aren’t good enough) and the fear of loss (the fear your quality of life won’t be good enough).
3. I have noticed when my clients fears get triggered, they usually react by either running away, pulling back, putting walls up or going quiet to protect themselves or they attack back, fault find, get defensive, or angry at the other person. These are the most common fear reactions we have observed, and none of them produce good results in relationships.
Now you understand these basics, this is how the fear-trigger-cycle (that we have discovered) works:
1. First, one of you does something that triggers a core fear in your spouse, and that spouse reacts with a fear-motivated action. This action is usually driven by the need to protect yourself from the other person.
In your case, your husband's snoring triggered fear of loss in you, because it is taking from your quality of life. This fear made you react to protect yourself. You might have reacted by complaining, blaming or being bothered.
2. The other person sees this fear-driven action and it triggers a fear in them. Then, they react from their fear to protect themselves.
In your case, I believe your husband's fear of failure was triggered when his snoring bothered you. Your feeling of loss about sleeping near him made him feel inadequate. He would hate feeling this way, so he might react by pulling away from you to protect himself from further feelings of failure.
His fear-reaction might have been to say, "Fine, I will sleep away from you so you can sleep." But if this was done as a protection from failure, not as an act of love toward you, it could further drive a wedge into the relationship.
3. When the first person feels the other person reacting in fear, pulling away or acting to protect themselves, they will be even more triggered by fear. They will often have more fear-driven behavior show up, to protect themselves and the wedge will become even bigger
In your case, you probably felt your husband pulling away to protect himself from failure, and it either triggered more fear of loss in you, or it might have triggered fear of failure in you because you feel guilty for not being able to sleep with him.
This wouldn’t feel good, so you might have reacted in anger at his defensiveness and acting like a martyr. This might make you behave more defensively too, and pull back even further from him.
I have seen this cycle play out in hundreds of relationships over the last 15 years. People get stuck in this fear-trigger cycle going around and around, triggering each other's fear-motivated bad behavior and in this state, no one is giving love, because you are both focused on protecting yourselves.
The good news is this problem is not hard to fix.
The first step lies in recognizing you are having a fear-trigger problem. I believe your protective, defensive behavior is happening because you and your spouse are both scared of failure and loss and you both need some reassurance and validation.
He needs to know that his snoring doesn’t change his value to you. You need to know that he cares about your quality of sleep and wants to do whatever it takes to make sure you have what you need. When you give each other this reassurance, it will quiet the fears in play.
Then make sure you approach solving this issue as a team, working together against a problem — not as two people against each other.
You can do this.
This is an article I wrote that KSL refused to publish - it is an answer to the question I have submitted by KSL readers more than any other. I get a few letters a week from people who are frustrated their spouse isn't more into sex - So, I felt it was important to get it out there anyway.
Is a lack of intimacy hurting your marriage?
My spouse is having issues with me, because I don’t want to have sex. I’m not interested in sex anymore, but I really think the reason is the negative energy around the whole thing that he created early in our marriage. He has made me feel so pressured and guilty around it, that I have lost all interest. We love each other. We don’t want to separate, but I really don’t want to have sex with him. I force myself to do it every couple months, but then it’s “hurry up and get it done”. I don’t know how to get passed this.
The answer is yes, lack of intimacy is probably having a negative effect on your marriage, but the reason you have a lack of interest could be complicated. There are so many psychological and physiological reasons a person might have low libido, we cannot possibly address them all in this article, so, we are only going to address the one you have asked about and the most simple, a spouse who has just lost interest or decided they don’t want intimacy any more.
We see a damaging dynamic in a lot of our coaching client’s relationships, where one spouse is always asking for more intimacy, and pressure to give it has made the other one (with less interest) feel obligated into it. This obligation energy around it, makes the less interested spouse, even less interested, because it feels like intimacy is only about or for the other one. The more interested partner then experiences a lot of rejection, which hurts, and makes them even more needy for validation to feel lovable and wanted, which means they want intimacy even more. If this cycle plays out for months or years, it leaves everyone feeling taken from, unloved and mistreated.
We call this a “fear trigger cycle” and if you want to have a healthy marriage, you must learn how to change this into a “love trigger cycle”. We are going to explain how to do that, but first, you must understand why intimacy is important in a marriage relationship.
Intimacy is the one thing that makes the marriage relationship different from your other relationships. Without intimacy, you are really just friends with your spouse, and if you are only interested in being friends, you should probably get divorced, and let your spouse find someone who wants to be married. Intimacy is the foundation of the special connection and bond between two married partners. It creates a special kind of connection because of the vulnerability involved. If you really do love this person and want them to stay married to you, you probably are going to need to change this and get more interested in being intimate. But, your spouse may also need to make some changes to.
Putting pressure, shame or guilt, or in any way manipulating another person to get them to be intimate with you is wrong. If you are married to a person that tries to psychologically or physically force you into intimacy you don’t want, that is not okay and you might also consider getting out. What you want is two partners that want intimacy with each other, because they both love the other person and want to feel connected to them.
If this is not the dynamic in your relationship, we strongly encourage you to get some professional help. A professional could make changing the dynamic in your marriage easier and faster, or they will help you get some clarity and decide if you need to get out. (You also want to consult a doctor if you have low libido, because there are lots of medications, psychological or physiological causes you want to rule out.)
We also have an amazing worksheet on our website that would really help - print two copies of the Understanding your Marriage Worksheet and you and your spouse both fill one out. This will help you identify the fear triggers in each of you.
We also recommend that you try the following to change your fear-trigger cycle into a love trigger cycle:
1. Learn about the core fears (failure and loss) in play in yourself and your partner:
If your spouse fears failure (that he/she isn’t good enough), which is highly likely because most of us do, this will show up as getting offended or feeling insulted easily, having a hard time with feedback, clinginess or neediness, a need for attention, touch and intimacy to validate their worth.
If your spouse fears loss they might be controlling or pushy at times and easily feel mistreated or taken from. They are often be in a lack state and focused on what they don’t have.
The truth is, we all have both fears in play to some degree and you could have both equally too. See if you can tell which are in play with you and your spouse?
2. Understand what you each do, which triggers fear in your spouse:
Maybe he feels taken from or loss around not getting a strong marriage with great intimacy. When he tries to solve this by asking for what he wants, he triggers fear of failure in her, because she then feels broken or inadequate, because she doesn’t fulfil his needs. This fear experience around intimacy might make her withdraw from it even more, because we subconsciously pull away from fear inducing situations. Her further withdrawal may trigger even more fear of loss in him, making him even more unhappy and in need of touch and validation, but when he continues to ask for that, it triggers more failure in her, and around and around they go. We find a cycle like this in play in most relationships. See if you can identify yours.
3. Become the cure to your spouse’s core fear:
You will do this because you love this human being and want them to be happy and feel loved, wanted and good enough. (If you don’t care about whether your spouse feels loved and wanted, then you don’t really love them.) If your spouse fears loss, you can be the cure to that, by giving them reassurance and attention, which makes them feel safe. Show them they are admired, respected, appreciated and wanted daily and this will quiet the fear and make them less needy (this means initiating intimacy). If they fear failure, they need lots of validation about how wonderful, loving and giving they are. They need to feel and hear they are adored, appreciated, respected and wanted daily too.
If you are the more interested spouse, you must spend as much energy on giving validation and reassurance to your spouse, as you have worrying about what you aren’t getting. If you are less interested spouse, you must flip the fear cycle in your relationship by giving physical attention as a gift freely given from love. We encourage you to be the initiator of intimacy from this point on. Then, you won’t feel obligated, taken from or pressured in to intimacy, you will be choosing to give it. This will also mean your spouse doesn’t experience rejection any more, which removes a lot of fear from the relationship.
We would encourage the more interested spouse, to not ask for intimacy for a while and allow your partner the chance to offer and give it from love. Do this from a place of trust, without any feelings of lack or deprivation. Choose to trust you have everything you need and then generously give, validate and serve your spouse, without any strings attached, as a gift freely given too. This often turns the fear cycle around quick.
Because of the complicated physical and psychological nature of intimacy, we encourage (you both) to see a doctor and engage in some professional help for this issue, along with working on the fear issues involved.
If you think you might have subconscious issues around sexuality because of trauma or learning a shame mindset around sex early on - you may also want to get out Subconscious Sexuality Reprogramming Exercise - it helps change your subconscious feelings about sex from negative to positive.
You can do this.
Nicole Cunningham and Kim Giles are human behavior experts and master coaches who specialize in family and employee dynamics and have many tools to help you change your relationships. They are also the hosts of Relationship Radio on Voice America - Check it out!
This was first published on FamilyShare.com
As a master life coach for the past 16 years, I’ve discovered some ground-breaking people science that could drastically improve your marriage, but he following tips could also be used to help you become an amazing parent, friend or co-worker too.
When you understand another person on this level and work on these things, you can create a healthy relationship with almost anyone.
1. Know what your spouse values most
A large portion of human behavior is driven by what we value most. We believe there are four value categories to choose from. See if you can tell which one is true for your wife.
Some of us value people most. These people thrive with connection and hate to be alone. They need connection and communication and are almost always seeking companionship. They treasure and nurture relationships all the time.
Some of us value tasks most. These people wake early in the morning with a to-do list in hand. They are driven to get things done and can be workaholics. They feel a sense of value in the world from what they accomplish.
Some of us value things most. These are the artists, inventors and tycoons. They can be the beautiful models or successful businessmen, and they love beautiful, rich, amazing things.
Some of us value ideas most. These people have strong opinions, great knowledge and passion about principles. They can talk a lot about their ideas and get offended if you don’t agree or do things their way.
2. Validate your spouse on those things
Everyone needs validation that they are appreciate, admired, respected and wanted. But the best validation you can give your spouse is validation around what they value most.
If they value people most, validate and praise their ability to connect with others and build great relationships. Notice how kind, compassionate, intuitive and friendly they are. Never make them feel inadequate because they don’t like to be alone — it’s just a beautiful part of who they are.
If they value tasks most, validate and praise their accomplishments, their know-how, their hard work and brilliance. Never make them feel inferior because they can’t relax and are always thinking about tasks.
If they value things most, validate and praise their appearance, leadership skills, or inventions and brilliance. Notice what they spend time doing, building or creating and acknowledge the talent it takes to create it. Never make them feel inadequate because they are so focused on the things of the world.
If they value ideas most, validate their right to think the way they do. Acknowledge the time it takes to learn about what interests them, and praise their desire to do everything right. If you disagree with them, acknowledge their right to their opinions and still praise their commitment to their values.
3. Know what your spouse fears most
There are two core fears, and one will always be a bigger trigger.
Does this person fear failure most? Are they deeply insecure about what other people think of them? Do they feel devastated when they get any negative feedback? Do they need a great deal of validation to feel they have any value?
Does this person fear loss most? Do they often feel mistreated, taken from, worried or stressed? Do they notice when things aren’t fair and tend to keep score? Do they get angry or upset when things don’t go the way they want them to?
4. Once you understand your spouse's fear triggers, understand what they need most when they are triggered
If this person fears failure most, they need lots of validation that they have the same exact value as every other human being and no matter what they do, they will always be enough. Remind this person often that their value is not tied to their appearance, performance, property or the opinions of other people. If you need to give some feedback, start with a lot of appreciation and validation first and then ask if they would do this one thing different moving forward.
If this person fears loss most, they need lots of reassurance that things will be OK and that no one is trying to do them wrong. Remind them you are always on their side and it’s you two against problems, not you two against each other. Remind them there is order in the universe and when things go wrong, they are still here to teach us something or benefit us in some way.
When you can pull them out of their fear reactions, they will feel more safe in the world, and they will behave much better towards you.
5. Work on your own fear triggers
Make sure you understand which of the two core fears is your bigger trigger. Your main job on this planet is to improve yourself and grow (not fix the other person). If you spent all your time working on not reacting to fear yourself and showing up in trust and love, all your relationships would be amazing.
Be constantly responsible for your own fear-driven behavior, low self-esteem and overblown reactions. Work on being more emotionally mature and respond to issues that trigger you with patience, wisdom and love. If you need some additional tools and skills to get here, seek out a coach or counselor to help you.
6. See the relationship accurately
If the main objective for our being on this planet is to grow and learn, then this relationship is your classroom and this person is your perfect teacher. They often teach you by pushing your buttons though, so you can see your weaknesses and fear reactions and work on them. Every day this person is probably giving you opportunities to practice, rise and become the person you are really meant to be.
When you see your relationship every day as YOUR classroom, you will stay focused on your own self-improvement, which is exactly where you need to be.
Understanding human behavior at this level will help you to be an amazing spouse and an amazing, wise and balanced human being.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of 12 Shapes Inc a company specializing in improving human behavior and relationships. Visit www.12shapes.com to take the 12 Shapes Relationship Survey and start improving your relationships today.
I love my spouse, but there is a lot of fighting in our marriage. My spouse gets offended really easy and finds fault in me often, which leads to a lot of conflict and some pretty mean, immature and even rude behavior. The thing is, there are other times when my spouse is really wonderful. We have been like this for so long, to some degree, I’m starting to think it’s normal, though I have friends who have said the way she treats me isn’t OK. I am starting to think the amount of conflict and the degree of selfishness is more than I should put up with. When is behavior bad enough that I should walk away? What is reasonable fighting behavior and what’s not? Am I an idiot to stick with this?
Some conflict, disagreements and hurt feelings happen in every relationship because we are all going to irritate, disappoint or offend our partner on occasion. The question is, do you and your partner have the skills to resolve these issues in a healthy, rational, productive way? Can you have mature, rational conversations about these disagreements without getting angry or out of control?
If you came from a family with parents who had these skills, you may have them, but for many people that wasn’t the case. If your parents were slightly emotionally immature, angry or demonstrated any unhealthy relationship behavior, you are going to need to take it upon yourself to gain some communication and conflict resolution tools. I wish they taught these kinds of skills in school or at church, but they don’t, so you may have to reach out to a mental health professional, coach, or counselor to learn some.
In this article, I am going to give you three categories of relationship “fighting” behavior, along with some suggestions for dealing with each. You definitely need to know what behavior is unacceptable, what is grounds for leaving, and what would be considered normal.
Here are the three "fighting" behavior categories:
1. Garden-variety bad behavior caused by fear and stress.
To be in this category, the bad behavior can’t show up often, but when it does, it’s based in being stressed, tired, hungry or discouraged, and though it might be annoying, immature, grouchy or even a little inconsiderate, it’s not directly hurtful and would be appropriate to ignore or let go, without needing to bring it up to your partner. No one is perfect and everyone will have a bad day on occasion, snap, lose their temper or say something stupid.
When your partner offends you with this kind of behavior, don’t make a big deal about it. Forgive them and let it go. You will do this because you want your small “mess-ups” and bad days to be forgiven too. If you bring up every little thing your partner does wrong, you will kill the relationship. If your partner starts to live here and it becomes an everyday thing though, it would move into category two.
2. Bad behavior that happens too often, is hurtful, harsh or unkind
This behavior should not be ignored. This category includes intentionally or unintentionally hurting your feelings, yelling, being inconsiderate, hitting or breaking things, being unkind, making jokes at your expense, being unfair or selfish on a regular basis. If these behaviors show up, you should have a mutually validating conversation about it and ask your spouse to treat you differently in the future.
This kind of conversation requires you to not cast your spouse as the bad one and talk down to them. It means recognizing you both have the same value and are both imperfect, but you need to both listen to how the other person feels and what they need and then ask them to do the same for you. At the end of this conversation, you will ask your partner if they would be willing to change some things moving forward or get some help to change them if necessary.
If your partner isn't willing to change these behaviors and refuses professional help, you may find yourself in category three.
3. Bad behavior that should not be tolerated.
If your partner is not changing their inappropriate behavior from category two, or their behavior has escalated to the behavior described below, it is appropriate to insist on professional help or be prepared to end the relationship. No one deserves to stay in a relationship where they are abused or feel unsafe and uncared for.
The following types of behavior are unacceptable:
Here are some relationship rules you might want to institute with your partner to prevent inappropriate fighting behavior.
1. If either of our bad behavior is something the other can let go and forgive (never to think about it or bring it up again), then we should. If you are going to hold onto this offense, let it fester and keep bothering you, building up resentment toward your partner, adding it to the growing laundry list of their faults, then you should bring it up and work through it.
2. Both commit to bringing up any offenses in a mature and loving way. This means you cannot make your spouse the bad guy or prove you are right. These conversations must be about improving your relationship and should include things each person can do to show up better for the other because you love each other. (Read about having validating conversations in my article about getting your spouse to treat you better.) You should never attack your partner nor focus on just their past mistakes. Instead, focus on the different behavior you want to see in the future.
3. Both commit to learning how to have mutually validating conversations where each partner gets a chance to have his say and express his feelings without interruption. Both should feel that the other honors and respects their right to have their opinion, even if they disagree with it. Then together, the couple should create a win-win, compromise solution. They should try to make it the two of you against the problem, not the two of you against each other.
If you cannot find a win-win solution on your own, you could ask a third party to meet with you and help find a compromise. A religious leader, coach or counselor could help with that.
4. Needing some time and space to process and think things through leads to more appropriate “fighting” behavior. Couples must have the right to call a “timeout” and have that request honored. This is not about giving your partner the silent treatment or ignoring them or getting out of a conversation. This is about each of you having the right to call a “timeout” so you can calm down and get clear before finishing the conversation and the other person honoring that. This needs to be agreed on ahead of time, that whenever one of you call it, the other will honor it and walk away for a while.
In your case, remember you are the only one entitled to know whether it’s time to move on, or if your perfect classroom is to stay and keep working on it. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should do. Listen to your heart and inner truth, and it will tell you what's right for you.
In the meantime work on the relationship rules above and see if that helps.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com. She and Nicole Cunningham are master coaches with 30 combined years in personal development and relationship skills. They are human behavior experts.
This was first published on familyshare.com
Most of the couples we work with admit that intimacy continues to be the most challenging part of their relationship. We believe the one thing that creates the most disconnection and lack of intimacy in relationships is disappointment, and this is a big problem because we are all disappointed with our spouse and our marriage on occasion.
Disappointment is a problem because it creates fear of loss, which is the feeling of not getting what you wanted or having unmet expectations. With this comes resentment and a marriage where you don’t feel safe. If you don’t feel safe, you cannot give yourself to your spouse intimately in a connected way.
Here are four important principles that can help cure fear of loss and disappointment, so you can have a better connection in your relationship:
Principle 1: We are on the planet to learn and grow — not to have all our expectations met.
We are striving for happiness in life, but we must also understand the real purpose of this journey is growth and learning. Because of that, we are attracted to a person who can help us grow and learn, not a person who will make us blissfully happy every day. In other words, you marry your best teacher, and they teach you by pushing your buttons and triggering your fears — so you can see them and work on them.
You must start seeing your marriage as school with the goal to learn to love and understand another person, get past your expectations and practice being responsible for your own happiness. When you see your marriage accurately, you are more prone to focus on growth and experience less loss and self-pity.
Principle 2: In every moment there will be things in your life that aren't the way you wish they were.
You may have health problems, financial problems, a husband that struggles with selfishness, a leaky roof, a mean neighbor or a wife who is struggling with love and intimacy. When these situations show up, you might have feelings of misery, anger or self-pity. Your disappointment and frustration towards these “less than ideal circumstances” creates unhappiness.
What’s important is that you recognize you are responsible for the amount you suffer with these. Your spouse and their issues cannot make you miserable. You are always in control of how miserable you decide to be. Of course, you will always do what you can to fix and repair situations you don’t like, but you must also choose to focus on the positive around all the blessings you have, too. People who are grateful have better connection than those who feel cursed by life.
The questions you must ask yourself are: “What could this experience of lack be here to teach me? How am I supposed to become better, stronger or wiser through this in my life?” When you approach disappointments this way, you will step out of the victim mentality and into a place of growth. Connection and self-pity can’t both happen; you will have to choose which you want.
Principle 3: In every moment of your life there are things you could be grateful for.
We understand that a lack of intimacy or poor connection is painful and disappointing, but if you step back and count your blessings and look at all the problems you don’t have, you could also be really grateful. The truth is, in every moment of your life, some things will be good and others will be lacking. So if you can’t focus on the good and be happy and grateful right now, you will never be able to. Or you could choose to happy and grateful all the time. It’s up to you.
Principle 4: The secret to quality intimate connection is being the cure to their fear.
If you become the safest place on earth for your spouse, a place of encouragement, appreciation and admiration, they will feel a whole new level of connection with you and their interest in intimacy will increase.
If you often criticize, complain about or act disappointed in your spouse, they will pull away emotionally and connection will not happen. After working with hundreds and hundreds of couples, we promise that becoming your spouse’s safest place works and quickly increases connection for most couples.
If it doesn’t work for you, there are probably issues in your relationship around your spouse not truly wanting to fix it, and nothing can improve if one of you doesn’t want to.
Buddha said, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” He meant that your situation does not determine your happiness. The way you choose to think and feel about your situation does. You have the power to be at peace right now. Then, from this peaceful place, validate your spouse and make them feel safe — great connection will follow.
We know this is a hard one — but you can do it.
Kimberly Giles is the president of 12shapes.com. She is also the author of several books “The People Guidebook for Great Relationships” and "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness. Kim is also a sought-after coach and speaker.
This was first published on familyshare.com
As master life coaches, we have found that human behavior is driven by what we value and what we fear; but unfortunately most of it is driven by fear. Even many of the nice things we do aren’t driven by love, but by the need to earn validation -- to quiet the fear of not being good enough.
Here is a list of common fears and how they may impact your relationships. Take your time and think about how each might be showing up in your life.
1. Do you fear failure (not being good enough)?
This fear is the root of low self-esteem, and we all have some of this, to some degree, every day. Low self-esteem is the main cause of relationship problems, because the insecurity it produces makes you needy for validation. That need for validation means you have an empty bucket and you expect your partner to fill it. You might even make your partner responsible for how you feel about yourself. This is a recipe for disaster, because he or she can’t give you enough validation to fill your bucket when you are emptying it with negative thinking about yourself at the same time.
If this is a big issue for you, you are probably getting angry with your partner on occasion for not giving you what you need. This creates a rocky love life filled with disappointment and frustration.
2. Do you fear being rejected, left or abandoned?
You may fear this if you have experienced some loss in your past. Even if you lost someone to death, and it wasn’t their fault, you may still subconsciously fear abandonment.
This fear can make you controlling, possessive and suspicious. You probably ask a lot of fear-based questions about what your partner is doing or where they are going. This shows a lack of trust (and is at some level an insult to your partner’s character). If this goes on for a long time, you might create what you fear, because this behavior can push your partner away.
This fear of abandonment creates a relationship where fear is even driving your loving behavior, making it more clingy.
3. Do you fear not being perfect?
If you have perfectionism fear, you believe your value is tied to performance -- meaning the way your house looks, the way your family behaves, the way you do everything in your life determines your value as a person.
With this belief driving your behavior, there is a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure behind everything you do. It also means that your need to feel good enough will come before everything else. You might even treat the people in your life like employees who work for you and are expected to follow your rules all the time. This can make you controlling and domineering at times.
This obviously damages relationships because people feel you care more about things, appearances and performance than you do about them. You can have everything perfect, exactly the way you want it, or you can have rich, connected relationships; but you can't have both. Eventually the people in your life will give up trying to meet your expectations and want out.
4. Do you fear not being loved or approved of by others?
This means you base your self-worth on what other people think of you. This can drive all kinds of bad behavior, depending on who you are trying to earn approval from.
If you are trying to earn validation from your spouse, you may become overly focused on managing their emotional state and feelings toward you. This could mean often betraying yourself, and constantly worrying about trying to be someone you're not.
If you are trying to earn approval from people outside your home, you may spend all your time and energy there and neglect your family. This can create resentment and damage the connection with those you love.
5. Do you fear not having control?
Being a "control freak" is all about fear. You subconsciously can’t feel safe or peaceful unless everything is going the way you think it should. This can be poison in a relationship, because your need for control will trump your need for connection.
You will often mistreat the people in your life, especially if they aren’t doing things the way you want them done. People will, again, feel you care more about things than you care about them. You might also be pushy or have anger issues when things aren’t "right." If this shows up in your relationship, your love life is probably often in conflict and disconnected.
6. Do you fear being taken advantage of?
Our clients with this fear tend to be controlling and constantly on the lookout for anything that could be seen as mistreatment or disrespect. They often see mistreatment in everything, even when it isn’t there. If this fear is present in your life, you are probably offended, angry or defensive much of the time. This can create a toxic relationship if you are constantly disappointed in or angry with your partner, who will feel insulted or attacked often.
If you want your love life to thrive, and for you and your partner to feel happy and safe, you must learn how to live from love, not fear. You must make sure your choices are love-motivated, and you are focused on making your partner feel safe, loved, admired, respected and wanted.
Remember that it is OK to seek professional help to confront subconscious fears that can wreak havoc in your love life. The right help can set you on the path to a happier, more love-filled life.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the hosts of Relationship Radio and master life coaches. Visit 12shapes.com to access free resources to help you create the relationships you want.
My spouse is willing to be intimate with me, but she isn’t into it. She goes through the motions because she wants to make me happy, but it feels like another chore she just has to do. I try to make it enjoyable for her, but she still doesn’t seem to want it for herself. I’m glad she is willing but I really want connection and to feel wanted, not just taken care of. Does that make sense? Is there anything I can do to change this?
We believe what you are experiencing is pretty common, because a really connected, passionate, intimate relationship takes a lot of time and work to create, and many couples dealing with the stresses of children and work find there isn’t much time or energy left for improving the quality of their connection.
Intimacy is also a complicated endeavor. There are many physical, psychological, and emotional factors in play. It’s a touchy subject and can bring up a great deal of shame, embarrassment, discomfort, guilt and disappointment. Some couples are also dealing with past abuse, which makes the subject painful and even traumatic. We aren’t able nor qualified to touch on all of those issues, so we highly recommend seeking out some professional help if your situation involves those. But for those who just want to increase the connection with their spouse, we do have some suggestions.
Before we give you our suggestions, remember it takes two for this kind of tango to work. Both partners must be committed to making the relationship rich, close, connected and loving. You don’t have to be good at it, but you must be committed to doing some work on yourself.
If you are the only one who cares about creating this kind of connection, you have a bigger problem that must be dealt with first. We still recommend you work on the four things below, because sometimes a big shift in your approach can shift your partner somewhat. But if your partner is unwilling to discuss, work on, or seek professional help to improve your relationship, you may have a difficult time solving the problem.
In order to create intimacy that is connected, passionate, fulfilling and truly enjoyable for both parties, there are a few factors that must be present. Here are some things you can work on to make your relationship better and more connected:
This is more than just believing your partner won’t cheat. We are talking about a state where your partner feels truly safe both physically and emotionally. You trust they won’t intentionally hurt you or shame you, and you know they will make your needs as important as their own. This is a big deal because you and your spouse both battle a fear of failure — that you aren’t good enough — every day.
Your partner may be afraid of being judged, criticized, or found wanting or disappointing you. Because of this, they may feel at risk and unsafe a lot of the time and they may even see you as a threat (if you trigger their fear of failure more than you cure it).
If you are someone who points out mistakes, flaws, faults, or issues in your partner and even complains they aren’t affectionate or loving enough, then your partner might not feel safe with you. If they don’t feel safe with you, true connection can’t happen. A safe feeling can only happen when a person feels accepted, appreciated, admired and wanted for who they are right now. They need to know they don’t have to be perfect for you to feel this way either. They need to know they are good enough, even though they make mistakes.
If you are good at making your partner feel safe, there is probably a good amount of trust in the relationship. If you have had a pattern of being disappointed, frustrated or angry towards each other, you may have some work to do to build up your level of trust.
Be honest with yourself about how often you make negative comments versus positive ones to your partner. Does your spouse know you wouldn’t put them down, make fun, or embarrass them in front of other people? Do they feel unconditionally accepted and appreciated? Or are they constantly afraid of disappointing you? Are you quick to forgive or do you keep bringing up past wrongs (they can do nothing to fix)?
We believe trust is the most important factor if you want to upgrade the quality of your intimacy. In order for someone to feel comfortable being extremely vulnerable — something that intimacy requires — they must trust you.
Vulnerability is about letting your guard down, putting yourself out there, and truly letting someone see you and know you — your faults and all. A good intimate relationship requires a serious level of vulnerability on both sides. This is a place outside your comfort zone for most people, but you must get brave enough to go here if you want to have real connected intimacy.
You need to ask yourself these questions: “Am I creating a place in this relationship where my partner feels safe to be vulnerable and take risks with me? Does he/she know I’m loyal and wouldn’t betray them, laugh at them, or even worse, criticize or judge them? Do they know I won't hurt them intentionally?”
You also want to ask yourself if you are willing to get vulnerable, take risks, admit your faults and flaws, apologize for mistakes and get out of your ego and into your authentic, vulnerable, heart space? If you feel unsafe to be vulnerable because of body image issues, a lack of comfort around your sexuality, or deep insecurity, these are areas where you must do some work.
If your partner is the one with fears holding them back, you might want to offer to pay for some coaching or counseling to help them overcome these fears. Until the underlying fear issues are dealt with, they will always hold back from being vulnerable and it will be hard to have real connection in intimacy.
3. Comfort level with sexuality
The truth is some people, who grew up in homes where righteousness was in the forefront, may have not learned to be comfortable with their sexuality. We know people who were taught to see physical intimacy as dirty or bad, and they really struggle to feel comfortable with intimacy now. This is not something you can change overnight. First, it’s going to take some work and some willingness and desire to change it.
If you know this is an issue for you or your spouse, we recommend talking to a professional, who can help you create a path towards a different mindset around being intimate.
If your spouse doesn’t care that he or she isn’t comfortable with sexuality, so they aren’t even willing or interested in working on it, you might want to explore what scares them about getting help or changing their mindset. They may have fear of failure around even trying, because they are afraid they still won’t be good at it. They may have fear around how much you might expect from them if they open that door at all. They may be scared of the unknown and staying with the known feels safer.
Until you deal with underlying fear issues and also explore physiological reasons for low libido, you won’t get far on changing the mindset. Make sure you talk to your spouse with a lot of compassion, and validate, honor and respect their right to feel and think the way they do. Don’t make them feel broken, dumb or bad because they haven’t had life experiences that make them feel comfortable yet. Stay out of your fear of loss around not getting the married relationship you wanted — that is all about you and won’t help them feel safer.
You must become the cure to your partner’s fear of failure if you want them to feel connected to you; you must not be the cause of more fear of failure. This means giving them lots of validation and reassurance they are amazing and loved, and not making them feel broken.
4. Desire to both give and receive
Intimacy is connected, passionate and authentically fulfilling when both partners can equally give and receive. But many of us have a subconscious tendency to do one or the other better. Some of us are more natural takers or receivers and we love being given to, pampered, and treated like a queen or king. Others are more natural givers and servers, and we feel safer when we are giving and taking care of everyone around us.
If you are a natural giver, you might not be a very good receiver. You might even be a little co-dependent and think your value comes from giving and if you aren’t giving you may feel selfish. If this sounds like you, you need to learn how to receive, especially if you want to have amazing intimacy.
You might need to start treating yourself to a massage, let others watch your kids so you can relax and do something fun without feeling guilty around it. If this sounds almost impossible to you, we highly recommend you get some help changing how you see your own value and worthiness. There are probably many areas of your life where your over-giving is creating problems.
If you are an over-receiver (taker) you might need to do some work on setting your needs aside and really give to your partner. You may need to ask more questions, read some books, or get some help on what your partner needs and wants from you.
This is a complicated question and the answer will be different for every couple, but hopefully this gives you some ideas on where to start.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. Nicole Cunningham is a master coach and sought after speaker.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.