Monday, June 25, 2007

A Happy Marriage Helps Relieve Stress (#2 in the series on Stress Management)

It's true. And, as you probably know, a bad marriage makes stress worse. A partner who expresses their love by being appreciative of you, attentive, and considerate of your needs helps you feel more confident, and in control of your life. Too much stress makes our lives feel out of control. We need to have at least one area of our life that is predictible, safe, and where we are acknowledged as being valuable and important. Our home should be that place. When an individual that you love makes a personal commitment to loving you and sharing their life with you, it makes everything else better. Friendships are great for this reason too. However, after 'doing battle' all day in a stressful world, coming home to a loving hug helps rejuvenate you. Lets you know that the daily stresses you experience are NOT what's most important about your life. Love and happiness are. So if you are in a relationship that is not working, that's adding stress rather than relieving it, MAKE A CHANGE. Make peace. Don't take your partner for granted. Don't let things (between you two) bother you so much. Stop making the same mistakes of communication. Listen more. Forgive more. When a problem arises, act as if you are both on the same side to solve it, even if you have differing views. Pay attention to your partners' feelings, even more than their words. And acknowledge some of the good things about them (don't just keep pointing out the negatives). Show your love to your partner in everything you do with them (even when you're angry). Say 'I love you' as much as possible.

Friday, June 8, 2007

I Don't Believe in Laziness...

I haven't been blogging for a few weeks now, distracted by needing to respond to my Dad's recent illness. He continues a slow recovery. Thanks to those of you who have kept him in your thoughts and prayers. Please continue to do so.

Parents, spouses, and (believe it or not) even teachers sometimes refer to people they bring to counseling as 'lazy.' I have an immediate emotional response, but typically wait to hear their whole story before suggesting that "lazy," as a description of a person, is bogus. I mean, I interpret it as a description of their behavior. It is typically used as a demeaning label, a bad personality trait. To me it means that a person is not doing the work that's expected of them for one reason or another. Those reasons are likely low motivation (ie. not a priority), anger (they don't want to do it, and won't say why), not accepting of their responsibility to perform the task, or have been given the excuse that "you're lazy" and want you to continue to take care of them. And that's your reward for allowing someone to get away with being "lazy." You have to do it. That's called enabling. Now if they come to me and are diagnosed with malingering (or labelled 'lazy'), I want to figure out why this person is not behaving responsibly and what the family or relationship dynamics are that help maintain this behavior. Sometimes it is part of a larger emotional issue, like depression. But often it is a form of communication in which the person (for example a child, or spouse) is passively expressing anger, and/or exerting some control over their life that feels controlled by someone else (like a parent, teacher, or partner). Stop giving them the excuse of laziness, and make some changes in the relationship. Listen more. Negotiate and compromise better. Offer some rewards. Often more loving attention is a valuable incentive. Becoming more controlling by trying to force them into action often has the opposite affect, that is, they get the attention (although it's negative ) but get more stuck in their noncompliant behavior. It's like you're rewarding their "laziness." Help them break this bad habit, and replace it with responsible action. You and they will be much happier.