Trapped in a bad relationship?

By David Joel Miller.

Hate your relationship but can’t leave?

Can't stop fighting?

Trapped in conflict?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you feel trapped in an unhappy situation? You know this relationship is not meeting your needs, but you’re not sure that anything else would be any better. One thing we find in marriage or relationship counseling is that people tend to repeat the same mistakes over and over. If you don’t discover what the problem is, it will keep happening.

Sometimes the problem is one partner or the other. If it’s you then you need to change. If at your partner, well, in that case, your options are limited. You can’t change someone else; only they can change themselves. What you can do is change the situation, change yourself, or learn how to accept the situation. You may decide that this situation needs to end.

Very often, however, the reason the relationship is unhappy lies in the space between two people, the way they relate to each other. There are certain things that people do, which keep the relationship an unhappy one. Therapists often see people who end one relationship, subsequently, start a new relationship, only to find they’re having the same problems in their new relationship.

Here are some things that may be happening in your current relationship which you need to learn how to handle if you are ever to have a happy relationship.

Avoiding conflict does not resolve the problem.

In some relationships, one or both partners are conflict avoidant. They don’t want to argue about things, and as a result, nothing ever changes. Conflict avoidance is an especially difficult problem when the conflict avoidant partner never tells their partner what they want.

Conflicts are part of life. A lack of conflict in a relationship does not mean it’s a perfect relationship. It’s not disagreements that damage relationships, but the way in which two people resolve those disagreements. Work on being able to express your disagreement with your partner in a way that they can hear. Work on finding win-win solutions rather than engaging in protracted disagreements over who is right and who’s in control.

What attracted you, may be pushing you apart.

Finding someone with the qualities you lack can be very attractive. Being with a person who is different from you can be exciting. But after you have been in the relationship a while things change, your needs change, and the qualities that brought you together may be the very things that are causing the problems.

That strong partner made you feel safe in the beginning but ends up being controlling. Your partner may have seemed like a lot of fun and helped you get out of your shell. But now you realize you have always been very responsible, and that fun person now looks irresponsible.

You don’t ask to have your needs met.

Don’t think that if your partner truly loved you, they would do things to make you happy. Very few people can read minds. Being deeply in love does not make you a mind reader. People who will not ask for what they want, create impediments to a good relationship.

You can’t win by beating up your teammate.

When aggressive, achievement-oriented people get together, they often end up competing with each other. When you are both hostile and want to win, you end up locked in a constant struggle for dominance and control.

When one partner assumes the one up position, there’s a high risk that the other partner will become resentful. The best solutions to partner disagreements are learning how to create win-win situations in which both people get their needs met. Compromising does not mean both people need to give up or lose something.

Playing the blame game and finger-pointing damages relationships.

Couples in unhappy relationships often begin to blame each other. When one person is criticized, their response is to criticize their partner for other issues. If you want to have a good relationship, learn to tackle one issue at a time. If you did something wrong admit it. Work on making it right. Pointing out all the things your partner has done wrong does not excuse your error, and mutual recriminations poison the relationship.

Needing to be right requires your partner to be wrong.

Insecure people need to always be right. They never want to hear that anything they have done was less than perfect. They often have lots of excuses as to why it’s not their fault. This “right fighting” can lead to endless episodes of arguments. Often there is no resolution. Many couples argue over things for which there is no correct answer. One person prefers one beverage while the other prefers a different beverage. The inability to allow your partner to have a different opinion than yours has resulted in couples locked in an eternal mortal combat.

Needing the last word keeps the argument going.

Once you’ve had your say, stop talking. Trying to always get in the last word doesn’t make you right. Keeping at it results in a relationship with only one topic, “who is right?” Make an effort to hear your partner out.

If you can’t hear what your partner is saying or feeling, there’s no communication.

Lots of couples show up for marriage counseling wanting to improve communication. What that often means is one of them wants the other to do something. Communication is not about being right or about arguing your partner into doing what you want. True communication in relationships furthers understanding. Make sure you’re listening to understand what your partner means. The missing part of communication is often a failure to understand what the partner is feeling.

If what you been doing or saying has been making your partner feel unloved or disrespected what’s needed is not to prove to them how much you love them or how correct you are. The best way to improve for relationship communication is to listen for the feelings behind the words that are being said. Once you get the feelings, the exact words are less important.

How many problems do you have in your relationship?

In distressed relationships, it is important to take a good look at the things you could do to improve your current relationship. Until you have learned good relationship skills, whether you stay or leave, any relationship you get into is likely to have the same problems.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Advertisements

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother's Day

By David Joel Miller.

To all the mothers out there who have given their unconditional love regardless of what your children look like or do here is wishing you a happy mother’s day.

If you didn’t have a mother like that, then work on giving yourself that love on this day devoted to the way a caring mother can make us all happy.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Lonely.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Lonely Flower

Lonely.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Lonely.

“All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot!”

― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and The Lorax

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re with.”

― Wayne Dyer

Living the past is a dull and lonely business; looking back strains the neck muscles, causing you to bump into people not going your way.

― Edna Ferber

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Surviving a relationship breakup.

By David Joel Miller.

How to recover from that relationship.

Being alone again.

Alone after the breakup?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Breakups can be traumatic. Losing a close friend is difficult. Ending a relationship with a romantic partner is especially tough. You not only lose your primary partner, the one you’re closest to, but you also may lose your hopes and dreams for the relationship you expected to have. It’s not unusual for people going through a breakup to wish they never gotten into that relationship in the first place. Some people will even tell themselves and others they will never fall in love again. Other people try to cope by immediately jumping into a new relationship. If you find yourself either swearing off relationships forever or frantically trying to find a new lover, look at some of the tips below on how to survive a romantic breakup.

Give yourself time to grieve.

We all start off relationships expecting them to be wonderful. Few, if any relationships live up to those expectations. Making a romantic relationship work is a challenge. Ending a relationship can be traumatic. While you may not be sad because the relationship you were in has ended, you may even be telling yourself you’re better off without them, you’re still likely to need to grieve the loss of the idealized relationship you had expected.

Sometimes individual problems take their toll on relationships. If one or both partners has struggled with drugs or alcohol or a mental illness those issues can damage a relationship beyond repair. Many people in recovery, who had recently ended a relationship, find that they need to spend time outside of a relationship to find themselves again.

Spend some time focused on yourself.

Periods between relationships don’t need to be sad or unhappy. The task you need to focus on is looking forward not back. These times of being single again allow you to experiment with new activities and new friends. Rather than always doing what a partner likes to do, this can be a time for you to discover what you truly like to do. The best friendships develop out of shared activities and experiences.

Pay attention to self-care.

Once out of a relationship it is important to take some time to pamper yourself. Once on your own again it may be a good time to upgrade your wardrobe, get rid of mementos that remind you of your ex. The stress of navigating a rocky relationship can take its physical toll. Proper diet, getting some physical exercise, good sleep habits, all will contribute to an improved physical and mental health.

Reconnect with friends and family.

Often in a new relationship, people spend all their time with their new partner. Once out of the relationship you may realize that your friendships and connections with your family have suffered. Use this single again time to do things with friends you haven’t seen for a long time. Invest some extra time in your family.

Avoid ruminating.

Avoid the temptation to sit and turn that relationship over and over in your mind. Avoid the temptation to over analyze who did what and what went wrong. This process of chewing on what’s bothering us is often referred to as rumination.

The more you sit and turn over the mistakes of the past, the more likely you are to become depressed. If there are lessons, you need to learn, make a note of them and then move on.

Skip the unhelpful thoughts.

Watch out for black and white thinking. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking because this relationship ended you will never find another partner. Don’t say I will always be alone. Those all or nothing, black and white thinking problems can mislead you into all kinds of unhealthy behaviors. The fear that if you lose this partner, you might not find another keeps many people in unhealthy relationships. Watch the words you use. Never, always, can’t, should, must, all should be eliminated from your vocabulary.

Fill up your time.

Being alone doesn’t mean you must be lonely. Being alone with nothing to do gives all those negative thoughts and empty mind to play in. Stay active, consider trying some new adventures, things you always wanted to do but didn’t because your past partner wasn’t interested in them.

Pick up an old hobby.  Be creative again.

Post-relationship you need to rediscover you. When people enter new relationships, it becomes all about “us.” After a period in this relationship, it is common to begin to wonder if there’s still a “me,” now that there is an “us.” Finding yourself again is an important task.

Think about things that used to bring you joy, that you may have stopped doing while in this relationship. Consider doing an old hobby or starting a new one.

Create some space for new things.

Freshly out of a relationship you may find your living space is full of reminders of your ex. This is a good time to clean out closets. If there are things that continually remind you of your ex, pack them up or get rid of them. At some little touches to make this living place truly yours. Redecorating can help you adjust to the change.

Look at your wardrobe. Weed out the things you don’t need anymore. Get yourself some new threads. Prepare yourself for new adventures.

Consider getting some counseling.

Some sadness post-breakup is normal. It’s even common to cry. If you find you can’t get past the loss of the relationship now might be a good time to get some counseling. If this life event is interfering with your ability to work or go to school, it’s a problem. If a life problem keeps you from being able to be around family and friends, that’s also a problem. If you’ve reached the point where you’ve decided, it’s time to get over this breakup, now might be a great time to see a counselor.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Does your communication destroy your relationships?

By David Joel Miller.

How you talk to each other matters.

Old phone

Bad Communication.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Faulty communication is a major relationship destroyer.  Unfortunately, many people try to use communication like a magic wand to get them what they want.  Couples often come into relationship counseling and describe their problems as poor communication.  What they often mean is that one of them is not getting what they want.  Getting what you want as in getting your needs met involves being persuasive, assertive or learning negotiating skills.

Good relationship communication is about growing and developing relationships.  The way in which you talk and listen to other people either builds positive relationships or destroys the ones you have. Be careful that the way you’re communicating is not sabotaging your relationships.  Avoid using the following communication tools if you want to maintain positive relationships.

Stonewalling prevents closeness.

Stonewall it is the art of not communicating.  People use this technique often give others the cold shoulder.  It’s almost impossible for humans to interact without communicating something.  Giving someone the silent treatment neither improves that relationship nor the communication.

Blaming weakens your connection.

Blaming is one of the ways of communicating their results in a relationship where one person is above the other.  Think about what it looks like when a parent is scolding a child.  Often this is accompanied by finger-pointing and yelling.  When adults resort to this method to communicate with other adults the effort to blame and shame the other person damages the relationship between them.

Placating reduces communication.

Placating is the way a little child might talk to an angry parent. You would hear them say, yes mommy; I’m so sorry mommy.  Among adults placating takes the form of saying you will do things but never doing them.

Passive-aggressive behavior builds hostility.

The passive aggressive of the world spend their lives slamming doors and muttering under their breath.  Rather than directly expressing their displeasure in an adult way they go to great lengths to display their anger.  Seething with anger that they go out of their way to get even.

Saying you’re not OK harms your relationship.

Couples, where one person is constantly telling the other partner they are defective, are headed for disaster. No one likes to repeatedly hear that they are not okay. Constantly criticizing your partner for who they are, conveys the message that you don’t think they are capable of change. If you find yourself telling your partner that they are not okay, you need to ask yourself why you picked this partner in the first place. If your partner is struggling with and emotional problem or an addiction, encourage them to seek help. You also need to be willing to look at the ways in which you are contributing to this problem.

Saying I know better damages relationships.

They are your partner, not your child. Relationships, good ones, should be partnerships, not parent-child relationships. Successful relationships require listening to the other person’s point even when you don’t agree. Trying to act like your partner’s parent curtails communication and makes for an unhappy relationship.

Telling them having a child will fix your relationship.

Many troubled relationships make the mistake of believing that they just have a child everything will turn out okay. Having a child while in a shaky relationship can be catastrophic. You can break up with a partner, but you will forever be in a relationship with your child’s parent. Both pregnancy and the early years raising an infant can be extremely stressful. Don’t try to make your child the adult in the family.

Avoid quoting what your family and friends say.

A piece of fruit with a hole in the skin starts to rot. A cell with a broken membrane soon dies. Your relationship needs good boundaries, and you need to keep family and friends out of your disagreements. Resolving conflicts is not about proving who is right. Learn to discuss and resolve problems between the two of you. Stop quoting others who agree with you.

 

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Top marriage mistakes you may be making.

By David Joel Miller.

Making these mistakes creates unhappy relationships.

End of Marriage

Marriage mistakes you may be making.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Everyone begins a new relationship expecting that this relationship will be a happy one. Even the best relationships will have some unhappy times. From the large number of relationships that fail it seems clear that having a relationship, by itself, will not make you happy. Having a good relationship is hard work. Here are some relationship mistakes that are guaranteed to produce unhappiness. How many of these relationship mistakes are you making?

Expecting to change your partner.

Often the very things that attracted you to a partner are the things that drive you apart. A man is attracted to a woman because she is outgoing and flirts with him. After they are in the relation, he becomes upset because she is too outgoing and flirts with other men.

A woman meets a guy, is attracted to him because he is spontaneous and excited after a while together she decides he is irresponsible.

In both cases, they likely got together expecting that their partner would change. Happy relationships invest the time in getting to know each other beforehand. They also accept each other as they are without planning on making extensive renovations to their partner’s personality. Getting into a relationship expecting your partner to change results in a lot of unhappiness.

Thinking they will make you happy.

Two unhappy people do not make for a happy couple. You need to be happy by yourself before you can be happy with someone else. If you are frequently unhappy, entering a relationship will just give you someone to be unhappy with. Happiness is an inside job.

Involving your family in your relationship.

It’s common, when people enter a new relationship, to vent their frustrations with their partner to family and friends. Once you have involved your family, gotten them to take sides about who is right and who is wrong, they’re not likely to ever forgive your partner for their mistakes. Getting other people involved in your relationship will either damage your relationship, or it will end your connection to your family and friends. You may forgive your partner’s mistakes but they may not.

Insisting on being right.

If every time you and your partner have a disagreement you insist on proving you are right, you will become a very difficult person to live with. People who always need to be right end up right-fighting which results in a very unhappy relationship. Some of the conflicts you will have with your partner are not a matter of right and wrong. Allow your partner to have their own opinion.

Expecting nothing to change.

No matter how wonderful a relationship is in the beginning, things will change. Stressful times come along. Having children fundamentally changes the relationship. Not having children when your friends do, changes your friendships. There will be stressful times. There will be sickness, sometimes minor and sometimes major.

Making it all about the children.

Couples who shift their focus to be all about their children, often find once the children leave home to start their own relationships, those parents no longer have anything in common. Couples who do not continue to build their couple relationship may not have one once the children escape.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Ending family feuds.

By David Joel Miller.

Don’t let family disagreements damage your mental health.

Family fighting.

Family Feuds.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Families can be a great support, or they can be a great problem.  Don’t let family feuds and disagreements be something that damages your mental health.  Regardless of what someone else may have done, there are ways that you can stop participating in the problems. While you can’t change other people most of the time, you can change the way you handled the situation. Here are some ways to reduce the impact family feuds may have on you.

Accept them for who they are.

Lots of family conflicts are about trying to get someone to be something there not.  There are going to be lots of people in your life who will never be exactly the way you wish they would be.  One way to preserve your mental health around other people is to simply accept them the way they are.

You may not like where they live or who they are in a relationship with. If you don’t like their partner or their house, remember that it’s not you that has to live in that situation. Sometimes family members have some very unhealthy friends. We may wish they didn’t have those friends but constantly arguing about it drives them away and back to those friends. Sometimes we just have to be patient until people in our lives are ready to change. Sometimes, as we get older, we find that it’s us that is changing.

They don’t owe it to you to do what you want them to.

Having expectations for family members and friends sets you up for disappointment.  What may seem clear and reasonable to you may be something they don’t want to do.  Keep in mind that just because you want it does not mean that they owe it to you.

Lots of families have been torn apart because parents had expectations of what their children should become or do with their lives. You may think they would make a great lawyer but if they have no interest in the law pushing them there will make both of you unhappy. Some people have great talent but what’s important to them is their hobbies and their leisure. You need to allow others to have the space to live the life they choose.

Remember it hurts more because they are family.

When a family member hurts you, it is likely to be a lot more painful than if a stranger did the same thing.  We may not expect much from someone outside our family.  Because of the higher expectations, we have for family when they let us down is even more painful.

Be very careful that you don’t fall into the trap the because they made one mistake or did one thing you didn’t agree with you cut them off forever. Sometimes improving your self-esteem begins by cutting others some slack.

Don’t expect them to change because you insist on it.

A lot of family disagreements are because one person wants another person to change in a particular way.  Just because you want it, doesn’t mean they owe it to you. Sometimes you must set boundaries. If your family member does drugs, you may need to keep them out of your house or avoid lending the money.

What you shouldn’t do is hold that period when they used drugs, against them for the light rest of their lives. Don’t hold onto the resentment because someone had to try a different path than the one you would’ve picked for them.

Accept them for who they are.

If you want them to accept you the way you are, then you should offer them that same acceptance. People shouldn’t have to say, do, or be any particular way for you to accept them. Learn the difference between accepting people and insisting that they think can be the way you want them to.

They are typical of other difficult people you will have to deal with.

The world is full of difficult people.  Sometimes we have difficult family members.  Keep in mind that you will have to deal with difficult people in your life.  Some of those difficult people will be relatives.

Sometimes the thing that makes others so difficult to deal with is our insistence on arguing with them about things. Give yourself and them the gift of allowing others to sometimes be wrong without you needing to point it out to them.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books