I work with several couples who love each other and want their relationships to thrive and grow, but they don’t put much effort into planning quality time together. “Busyness” has become a major rationale for many couples, as they balance the multiple roles of employee or business owner, parent, friend, relative, self-care, and partner.
I find myself telling couples with some frequency that wanted time together won’t just happen on its own when you have a lot on your plate. Wishing for it isn’t enough – you need to be more intentional about making it happen by putting it near the top of your priority list and individually and together planning.
If you’re a bit wary about whether your ideas for meaningful, fun time together will be a hit with your partner then ask them about the kinds of activities indoors and outdoors they’d enjoy. You can each make a list, put the ideas in a jar, and pick from each other’s jars, taking turns. (My “Jar Exercise” I refer to in one of my free articles you can receive by signing up). Don’t allow quality time together to become a one-person job. It’s best to share the labor of connection. You’ll also get more “bang for your buck” by introducing novel places and activities. Neuroscience points out the benefit of novelty to the bonding experience between couples, so try to avoid doing the same old thing every time you’re together. Try to balance tried and true rituals you both enjoy with new experiences and places. You’ll be enriching your relationship in a major way. You’ll be avoiding the big pit of “busyness” and disconnection in your relationship, and you’ll feel better about being proactive about this issue.
Don’t miss my next 25 minute BlogTalk Radio episode on Wednesday, December 14th at 8:30 PM EST
If you’ve been telling yourself a story about all the stresses, expenses, difficult relatives, ridiculous gifts, cards to send, the hassles of putting up and decorating the tree, Chanukah forgotten, cleaning the house, making flights on time, too much eating and drinking, getting too fat, cleaning up the house, no time for anything, then this episode is for you!
I’ll give you 5 sure methods to make all the negative spin come true, individually, and as a couple. Enough chirpy info about how to do better! Let’s look at how you can SABOTAGE any fun, joy or meaning!
Tune into www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager for live streaming, or for the recorded episode afterward, OR to join me live on the air with your own Grinch stories or ideas call into the studio at: 877-497-9046 I’d love to make it a conversation!
My husband and I still have a ridiculously predictable ritual: We agree to do some errands together on a weekend, often involving returning or searching for an item in a Marshalls or T.J.Maxx store. I tell him I’ll be ten minutes, he says “ok,” and half an hour later I’m still in the dressing room frantically trying on deals of a lifetime while he’s outside, aggravated, saying he should have brought a book! As someone who is generally considerate of other people’s feelings, I apologize and we agree not to shop together in the future, because I lose all sense of time, and he hates to wait. He forgives me, and all is well, until…..the next time.
Here’s another similar scenario: I have a family member (whom I won’t mention by name), who is joyful, highly creative and full of intense energy. He does everything with tremendous passion. Unfortunately, that usually means fixing or building something, or solving some complex problem “in no time” while he makes his wife wait for him to go somewhere or do something else. He’s a loving, thoughtful husband who somehow lives in the doghouse much of the time in his marriage. Luckily, he too has a forgiving spouse who adores him.
Are we folks who chronically underestimate the time it takes to do things really just inconsiderate of others? Do we all have ADHD? Are we disorganized or are we just “time optimists”? I like to think that it’s the latter category – chronically underestimating the time it takes to do things. When our son was about eight years old he remarked one day that I seemed to always be “missing ten minutes!” How astute! – yet it took me another nine years to realize that I could leave for work ten minutes earlier and not be crunched for time – that inevitably, en route to work I’d get caught behind a school bus or an old lady driving fifteen miles an hour, no matter how well intentioned I was about not being late for clients.
These days, I still try to add at least ten minutes onto the estimate for the time needed for just about everything in life. I’ve relinquished myself to the “higher power” of Geologic Time – that no matter how fast I can do things, the world still moves very, very slowly. I can tell you that this practice lowers your stress level, makes everyone around you feel much less irritated, helps you enjoy the scenery behind old ladies and school buses, and can even improve your marriage! The only thing that I can’t vouch for is what happens when you hit a sale in your favorite store….
If you’ve ever felt stuck in conversations which seem to go nowhere, and feel the need for some good skills in this area, then don’t miss this episode!
In this next 30 minute BTR episode tonight, (Wednesday 10/21/15) at 8:30 PM I will teach you a vital secret tool for better communication, especially when there’s conflict surrounding an issue.
Call in live at toll-free 877-497-9046 to join me on the air with questions or comments. If you can’t make the live show catch the recording at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager anytime at your convenience.
If you or your partner tend to shut down, retreat, or yell at each other when you disagree, and the “conversation” goes south fast, then this show is for you. Moving forward, you’ll have the means to talk more calmly, take turns, listen better, lower reactivity and move toward solutions faster.
I hope you can join me!
*P.S. To get my book “I’m Talking! Are You Listening?” click on the link below to find it on my Amazon store. There are lots of tips and tools in there for much better communication.
When was the last time you got out of a warm bed at the crack of dawn to sweat on a treadmill – with eagerness? Or relinquished the beach on a gloriously sunny Saturday to do tax preparation? Or gladly put your openly introverted self in front of a group of 300 peers to give a lecture? You may have done all or any of these things, but chances are that you had to push yourself out of your comfort zone to do them in the name of some kind of benefit or reward. If, on the other hand, you’ve made a habit of staying in your womb-like routine without taking any risks into the unfamiliar, then you’ve probably missed out on some novel experiences, learning, excitement and rewards.
So, if you’d like to be less risk averse and get better at pushing yourself to do new things, here are a four of my seven tips and tools I’ve developed from my years of working with individuals and couples in therapy:
- Create a clear vision for your goal, defined specifically. (Ex: By tax time in April I will have all my financial data tabulated and formatted, ready for the accountant in Quickbooks).
- Identify your potential saboteurs and what your options are to head them off at the pass. (Ex: Self, wanting to do more fun stuff. Fix: Reward self with the fun stuff after I’ve done the work each week).
- Formulate a clear action plan for the “Push,” defining it specifically and behaviorally. (Ex: I will do two hours of Quickbooks entries every Saturday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM regardless of the weather or invitations I’ve received to do fabulous things).
- Identify the intrinsic and concrete rewards to yourself / others in making this effort to move out of your comfort zone. (Ex: I will feel more organized, centered, and prepared for tax time. My accountant will appreciate the timely, orderly data. My friends and family will get to see a cheerier version of me more frequently on weekends).
For more free tools and tips about this and many other issues, subscribe to my list on the right. “Pushing Yourself” is the 92nd free article you will get about all kinds of issues related to the relationship with yourself and with others.
In addition, if you’d like individual help with self-motivation or any other dilemma, feel free to contact me at my Portsmouth, NH office anytime for an appointment at: 603-431-7131. I’d be glad to help!
Get home from work tomorrow night, pour a glass of wine, put your feet up and call into my half hour BlogTalk Radio Episode: “The Five Love Languages: Are You Speaking The Right One To Your Partner?”
Learn about the five basic ways through which most humans feel loved and appreciated, and most importantly identify the two primary “languages” for you and your spouse or partner.
Learn how to get the love you want, and how to give the love you feel in ways which finally translate!
Call toll-free 877-497-9046 to join me live on the air with questions or comments. Let’s make it a conversation! If you’d prefer, you can catch the show live streaming by going to: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager
Tune in at 8:30 PM EDT for this half hour episode about the key attitudes for having a fun summer with or without a partner. I’ll also be sharing my big list of ideas for joyful, connective, or just creative things to do to capitalize on the season, with or without good weather.
Call in toll-free at 877-497-9046 to just listen in, or to join me on the air with ideas of your own. Hope you can be with me for this light but hopefully informative show!
As a couples therapist I routinely talk to my clients about the ambiguous road ahead of them in working on repairing and enriching their relationships. The work is generally fraught with uncertainty and likely setbacks, as is the case with most hard earned changes. This discussion always involves the issue of what each partner needs to “stay in the game,” or what would they minimally require of themselves and each other to maintain hope, energy and good faith in the process.
What each of us needs to “stay in the game” applies to any endeavor which doesn’t produce immediate lovely results. Last week, after three years of often grueling work, I received my official documentation awarding me the trademark for the name “Couplespeak.” I had invented the name for a division of my company which would provide coaching products and services live and online. Getting the trademark with proprietorial rights to the name required me to write books, articles, eBooks, develop workshops, training programs, blogs, videos, a BlogTalk Radio program, and to manage multiple internet platforms.
Mind you, all the while I’ve had a full time private psychotherapy practice, and started with very little interest in the internet and tech devices three years ago. But I loved the name “Couplespeak,” and believed that if I could live long enough I could grow it into something really significant. The whole process required that to finish, I stay in the game, the Couplespeak game. I had to devise ways of making myself accountable, and maintaining my passion for the project. I had to enlist the support of my friends and family. I had to learn when to take breaks and when to force myself back into the effort. Just as anyone requires in any big, meaningful project, I needed to keep up my faith in myself, and my faith in the work itself. And now, just as anyone would, I’ll need to allow this “finish” to become the remarkable start of something else, a new game…..
PS. For copies of my new books about staying sane in the relationship game, go to Amazon: http://amzn.to/12ALenB
Don’t miss “My Five Point Plan For Surviving and Thriving During the Holidays” episode! Due to faulty audio it was rescheduled from last month, but is being re-aired just in time for the rest of the holiday season.
Call in toll-free at 877-497-9046 at 9 PM Wed. 12/5 to join me live on the air with your questions, comments and stories. I’d love to have this be a conversation we can all enjoy and learn from! If you can’t make the live show, you can hear the recorded episode by going to:
Over the years, I’ve met with hundreds of couples who get totally wigged out at this time of year. To begin with, many of them have at least one person who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition which sets up depressive symptoms in reaction to the lowered light levels in the Fall through early Spring. It’s not a good beginning. On top of that, most partners focus their energy on holiday decorations, social calendars, menus, and gift shopping for people they often care little about. People plan their days and nights, trying to pack it all in, with coziness and finesse, Hallmark style.
What is often conspicuously missing in the melee is any thought or conversation about particular activities or rituals which would feel meaningful and “uniquely ours”, i.e. intimate and private. Predictably, when couples prepare for the holidays with some curiosity and attention to the sacredness of some meaningful time alone, apart from relatives and kids, it changes everything! So if you’re in a partnership, honor it with just a tad of thought to what traditions you’d like to create just for yourselves. Be creative! Be silly or be sentimental! But be together. You’ll surely have a happier holiday season.
PS. Next week you will be able to purchase my two new eBooks, and some articles all about relationship tools on the “Products” page of this website. (I’m only about one year behind schedule, but hey, I’ve been focusing on meaningful rituals of my own!)