Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Safe dating’ Category

When Is It MY Turn? Please Pass The Teddy Bear!

Teddy Bear

Image via Wikipedia

A couple of years ago Greg and I attended a counseling retreat – that concentrated on intense communication between married couples.  We got to know several couples at this retreat in all stages of marriage – who had lost the ability to effectively communicate.  The retreat was led by a couple of counselors who had many suggestions to encourage the communication and health between spouses.

One such technique was using a teddy bear.  The spouse that had possession of the teddy bear – could do ALL the talking without interruption.   It was a “safe zone” for the spouse that held the bear.   And as long as they held it – they could do all the talking.  After they were done – they would pass the bear to their spouse and their spouse would be given the same treatment while holding the bear – no interruption – no fear.  This required intense listening – and validation to the partner who was speaking.  The idea being of course, that partner with the bear would affirm the other and say, “I hear what you’re saying….” or “I understand how you could feel that way…” thus verifying that they really heard – and not just sitting there thinking of something else.

Until last night – we had not used this communication technique and had almost forgotten about it.  We were having what you might call a “difference of opinion” and I could see that the “discussion” was going no where – no one really listening to the other at all.  No – in fact – we were both talking at each other – no positive interaction or exchange.  The discussion had pressed some “fear” buttons and immediately we went into a very familiar “dance” of words and programmed responses brought on by what we were interpreting as non-validation.  It was easy for us to slip into, “What???  I did not say that!” or “You ALWAYS say that”  “You’re not hearing me” or “That did NOT happen like that” etc.  This went on for some time until I remembered the retreat – grabbed a teddy bear that usually sits on the pink wing-backed chair in our entry way and grasped him firmly.   I brought him into the family room where Greg was sitting on the couch and announced, “I have the teddy bear”.

Of course this brought smiles and chuckles of recognition from him – but he continued to talk, saying, “HEY – I wasn’t through!”  “You know the rules”  I said, “The one in possession of the teddy bear – gets to speak”.

And so we continued in this fashion – smiling the whole time – but also realizing that there is something to this after all.  A “safe zone” where the one in possession can speak freely without interruption – forcing the other to really listen and NOT say anything.  It forces one to “button the lip” as it were.

It was amazing what happened after that – maybe the mood was different – maybe we both just started listening more – I don’t know, but I do know that we were able to dig a little deeper into some past issues that had been lying dormant – all with the bear on our laps.  And it was not long before the real issue came out and we were able to identify it – with no fear – only validation and recognition.

There is something about a teddy bear.  Ask any child who has one.  They are sweet – and you want to hug them.  They make you smile and feel like a child again.  And you just cannot be mad at a person who is holding one – try it and see if you can!

There are many methods to resolving marital conflict – this is just one that seems to really work – because it is a visual reminder that unless you are holding the bear – you cannot talk – you have to listen, be supportive and validate the one talking.  And I suppose that is at the heart of most miscommunication – wanting to be validated and feel heard.

Next time you have a disagreement – try bringing a teddy bear into the room with you – and suggest that your spouse hold it – and then really listen as they talk.  It will amaze  you as you feel the tension in the room lighten up and you find listening skills you never knew either of you had 🙂

Whose turn is it to hold the bear?

Can you sit still without interrupting until your spouse is finished speaking?

Are you one that encourages and validates your spouse?

Try it today!

God Bless

Advertisements

Living On The Edge

I recently ran across this article from my new blogging buddy  Elizabeth Esther.  She explains how her daughter wanted to jump into their pool with her dance recital outfit on – to know what it would feel like to ‘fly’ with it on.  It’s a sweet story complete with a picture of her ‘in flight’ after Elizabeth finally relented to letting her daughter ruin her outfit for that ‘thrill’ of flying through the air.

Absurd?  Impracticable?   Foolishly frivolous?   Yes.  All of these – and more.

A chance to ‘let go’ – to ‘run with reckless abandon’ and do something spontaneous – just because.

We lose this ability as we mature.  We become responsible and (gasp!) practical.  We think in terms of conserving and ‘pulling in’ – often times squelching any creativity or spontaneity.   Because we are grown up and have to act responsibly – I mean if we don’t – WHO WILL?  Right?

Do you remember a time when you ran through the sprinklers in your yard (or someone else’s) and got soaking wet?  Even your hair?  And it felt SO GOOD, didn’t it?  Just kicked off your shoes and ran through!

How about the time you risked your life swinging on a rope swing?  The kind that was on its last few precious strands of rope weeks before and everyone that was swinging on it – you just knew they were on borrowed time?

When was the last time you had a popsicle?  The kind you used to get when you heard the ice cream man coming?  My favorites were banana and root beer.  How about a slurpee?  When was the last time?  They’re not just for kids you know 🙂

We grow up and get ‘careful’.  And not just ‘careful’ – but ‘cautious’.  Life becomes so serious to us – and granted – there is much to be serious about.  There are bills to be paid – and family situations – but there is also a mind-set that creeps in – if we’re not careful.  The mind-set that fun is for the young – and life becomes very mundane and predictable.

Well – that may be okay for you – but NOT FOR ME!  I love excitement – I even have to have something exciting for breakfast!  No dull and dry cereal for me – NO SIR!  I need something – ANYTHING with a little pizzaz! A yummy bagel with flavored cream cheese – or a wonderful mouth-watering scone – or a Danish with a little something extra – you know. Greg likes the same thing for breakfast everyday. (Boring) He really likes it like that!  Amazing!

I like to ‘live on the edge’ – LOVE adventure, romance and just plain living! Greg likes consistency and routine.  That’s where he is comfortable and safe.

Greg knows that I just can’t ‘exist’ – but that I love to express myself – share love and friendship with those in my world and – love to explore new places and get to know new people – and love to encourage others to LIVE and LOVE life!!   And in this ‘new season’ that we find ourselves in – it is nice that we are both now self-employed and can do some of the things we’ve always wanted to do – it doesn’t always take money to do them – (we don’t have any – so that’s good!) and I’m thrilled for that!

We do something fun everyday. Each day is an adventure.  We had been married far too long – raised a couple of children before we realized that the ‘fun’ and ‘spontaneity’ had been robbed from us.  I blame so many things on that – the families we were both raised in (duty, work and responsibility) and the church we found ourselves in for years (appearances and being an example) – and yet I know that these only served as a guide – and did not mean to suck the joy out of our marriage – but somehow – they did.  Add to that the stresses of life, family situations and burdens from those in crisis close to us – and even some dysfunctional behavior from others and mix it all together and you can get a very dry and tired marriage. With no joy.  Safe, predictable, practical and boring. A slow death sentence for me.

Bringing ‘fun’ back into our marriage was a choice – but also a necessity. Without it – we would not have made it.  We took a step toward excitement – and I’m happy to report that keeping things ‘fresh’ and ‘new’ has become our theme song after 29 years of marriage.  We were both Christians since we were children – so our faith was never in question – just our ‘duty’ and commitment’ became old and stale and we needed a better reason than that to keep doing the same old things over and over and over again.  Like a worn out song that never ends – is how our marriage was becoming.  We were becoming that couple with an ‘arrangement’ but that really wasn’t very happy anymore.  And it scared us.  We refused to be that couple and live that way – with separate lives and interests – pulling further and further apart.

How did we turn it around?  We brought FUN back into our relationship.  We looked closely at us.  Not the ‘us’ as parents of our two wonderful children – not the ‘us’ as a ministry couple (as most people had known us) – not the ‘us’ as wonderful obedient children of our own parents – but we just stepped back and looked at us. And we had to go back and remember just what it was that sparked that interest and kept us – way back then.  The ‘little’ things that meant so much back then.  We started doing that again.  We started thinking of ways to be creative without much money – going and doing something interesting everyday together – being spontaneous and FUN!  Not holding back or squelching each others creativity – but allowing each other to be exactly who we are. And that included allowing each other to grow individually without feeling threatened by it.  I have a lot of friends and love each of them in their own special way.  Greg now understands how important that is to me and does not limit me – nor is he threatened by it.  I understand Greg’s need to feel ‘safe’ by routine and his work – and encourage him to do the things that make him most happy and fulfill him as a man.  It is a win/win – born out of necessity – and has grown into something secure and trusted – a mutual respect and understanding for each other – two completely different people who decided to grow old together and two people who chose each other.

Here’s wishing you and yours some fun and spontaneity – as you endeavor to ‘live on the edge’ in your marriage and in your own personal life.

God Bless

Laughter, Listening and Liking each other in Marriage

I posted something today on my facebook page about laughter and it got me thinking about marriage and laughter.  There are many reasons why a marriage fails – even those that start out with good intentions.  Oh sure, there are outside forces that hit you blindsided – we all know about those things – and finances (or lack of them) can also be a key contributor to failure.  But more than these I believe that at the very root of the issue is this:  Married couples forget to laugh. Now I’m not talking about the little chuckle you get from something funny one of your kids did today – or a funny email or status update on facebook from one of your friends – or even a great humorous story – I’m talking about laughing with each other – sharing a joke together – or a secret and poking fun at the other and finding it so funny!  When was the last time your spouse made you REALLY LAUGH? When was the last time – YOU were funny and not so serious?  Life is serious enough without adding to it – and sometimes you just need to take a ‘chill pill’ and just laugh.  Laugh at the absurd – laugh at the ridiculousness of your situation – laugh at the irony of life – enjoy your spouse and find something together to laugh at!  A healthy married couple smiles and laughs all the time.

Another reason marriages are in trouble is this: Married people forget how to listen. You’re so used to that person – after a while if they’re not saying anything worth listening to – we tune them out. It is an art form to learn how to listen well – but well worth it.  We were a marriage that had forgotten how to do this – I didn’t feel I had my husband’s full attention anymore – he had forgotten how to listen to me and meet my emotional needs.

Develop a healthy sense of humor with your spouse and listen to them – really listen. If you listen long enough – believe me – you will bond with them again – you’ll be able to share secrets and find that laughter too.  It will be there – decide that YOU will not wait for them – decide that you are going to turn your marriage around.  Get your ‘mischievousness’ on!  You will ignite something in your spouse – a passion that you forgot was ever there.

And finally – I think the reason that marriages are in trouble is this:  Somewhere along the way – you forgot to like your spouse. You say, “Oh – but you don’t understand – I wouldn’t ever think of leaving them” – You may even say that you ‘love’ them – in the traditional Christian way (of course) and if push comes to shove and they really tick you off and you’re at the end of your rope you might consider murder – but NOT divorce – NEVER!  You say, “Not me!   This would never happen to us!  But I don’t have to like them – I’m committed.” HOGWASH!!  You are setting yourself up for a failure with this attitude.  What if someone comes into your life that really likes you – admires you – and treats you like your spouse doesn’t? There’s a fine line between tolerance and indifference – don’t be foolish.  It happens all the time.

I like my husband.  I didn’t always feel this way.  Oh I suppose I got used to him – he is an excellent man in every way – good father – wonderful friend to many – but for me – I had forgotten to like him.  So like many of you out there – I had a choice to make.  Do I want to start over and learn how to like him again – find the laughter and the reason that I picked  him in the first place?  Can it be done?  We’re used to each other – but do I really like him?  It took many months of talking and really listening to each other to discover that we were solid as good friends – even if we hadn’t been married to each other.  We had to rediscover that again – we had to ‘date’ again to make that connection – and we DID!  And you can too.  I can honestly say now that I not only love Greg – and am committed – but I also like him.

I found this very cute and humorous video on marriage from the comedic and married team of Stiller and Meara – married over 50 years.  It’s adorable and has some great truths in it – they use laughter in their relationship and they have also found that they actually like one another after all the years together.

God Bless

Practicing “Safe Dating”

My husband – always the funny guy – coined the phrase above.

I was with my friend the other day for lunch – recently widowed and still pretty young – the subject almost always turns to the “dating” again thing.  She of course is less than anxious to “go there” again – and I mean – who could blame her.  No one wants to date again – if they don’t have to.  In fact – some of us that have been married since we were children don’t even remember much about dating – let alone trying to do that again.  It’s a spine chilling – horrendous thought indeed – enough to give you nightmares and make you want to back out of the human race entirely.

And yet…having many single friends – guys and gals – I will have to say that sometimes love the “second time around” is most successful – particularly if they “happen” to meet the right person through a blind date set up by a good friend who knows both people involved – or by a “safe” online dating service.  And by “safe”  – I’m referring to those services that screen very carefully – get lots of information – have limited contact until certain requirements are met etc.  My friends Teri and Craig met on eHarmony.com and didn’t even talk on the phone for a few months – it was pretty strict.  That site insists that you talk for awhile via email – getting to know each other first – what you believe – your background etc.  and there are many questions that you both must answer first before you are ever “matched” with someone.  When these two finally exchanged pictures and had that first “date” in the mall – they knew quite a bit about each other already – so it was not too awkward.  But anytime you meet someone in person for the first time – it’s going to be a bit awkward – you just can’t help that.  But for them – it worked out and they are happily in their 2nd relationship – after having a bummer of a first.

Sometimes this is not the case – and I’m aware of this.  Statistics show that the divorce rate is even higher for 2nd marriages than for first ones – so it is not always a good thing to end one marriage for another.  I understand there are extenuating circumstances for ending a first marriage – abuse – infidelity etc. –  but usually people say in 2nd marriages – “if I had just worked harder on my first marriage – maybe it would not have ended”.

But like I said – I have many friends in my circle who have found themselves single again – for whatever reason.  And dating is a very scary thing to them.  I can imagine how they feel.  I would not want to do that “dating” thing again either.  Did I EVER date?  I always had a boyfriend during my teen years – but I’m not sure that classifies as a “date”.

What is a date?  I’ve seen my daughter go on one – when she was first dating her husband.  He would come to our house in his car – pick her up at the door after saying hello to us – then he would open the car door for her – and then they would go to a movie and to dinner – maybe the mall to walk around or to Seattle.  He took her to Ocean Shores once for the day – he was always thinking of romantic things that they could do together.  That is a date.  Doesn’t sound so scary, right?  But somehow it is.  If you don’t know that person – what their expectations are – it can be really scary.  Women worry about how they look – someone watching them eat – conversation during a meal – wondering about the physical expectations etc.  I’m not sure what men worry about – because I’m not a man – but I’m sure it’s similar.  Especially if a man is not used to dating that much.  I’m sure it’s – “will she like me – think I’m attractive – want something more than just friendship?”  I’m sure both sexes think much about the “more than friendship” thing.  How can you help it – especially if you are of a certain age – and you’re not kids anymore.

I have decided that nothing is going to happen to Greg – and that I will go first and HE can do the dating thing again – not me.  Even though he is older than me and the odds are in MY favor for outliving him by – oh let’s see – about 10 years.  What’s in a number, right?  He kids me and says that he will outlive me!  Yeah right.

Greg says we all just need to practice “SAFE DATING” – dating with no funny queazy feeling in your stomach – where everything is peaceful – no hidden agenda – no expectations that are unreasonable.  Safe dating where you both feel comfortable – you put each other at ease – conversation just flows and there is tons of laughter.  Where the other person is made to feel like the only person in the world – and the other person is the priority to your day – not the job – not the kids – not other people.  If every married couple would “safe date” there would be fewer divorces and relationship problems.

Lately I’m feeling so cherished and appreciated – Greg’s making up for much lost time in our own relationship and he’s taking it very seriously.  There’s NO WAY he’s going to let some other man appreciate me and meet my emotional needs – when he wants to be the ONLY one who does that – thank you very much.  If every man would take this attitude about the woman in their lives – it would be a much happier, healthier world.

Would I want to date someone else?  Wow.  No.  But if I found myself in that situation some day – my expectations would be pretty high – not sure if anyone could measure up – but like you – I would probably not want to do life all alone.  So I would practice “safe dating” – and would hope the other person would too!

Have an awesome day – practice some “safe dating” with your spouse or with a friend today.

God Bless

Tag Cloud

diana iannarone

Wake Up. Stand Up. Live Free. A Perceptual Approach to Rapid Growth and Permanent Change

THE MIND OF RD REVILO

Conscious Thought: Driven by Intelligent Awareness

The Devotion Cafe'

Love and Empowerment

Poems & People

what if poems could be symphonies, and people their orchestra?

The Fickle Heartbeat

A blog about love or lack thereof

knitting soul

turning the knots into something beautiful

Kristi Ann's Haven

Jesus-Yeshua Saves!!

Godinterest Christian Blogs

Godinterest is a place to blog about faith, culture, life and all that other stuff

The Light Post

Scott & Christina Graff

Natalie Breuer

Natalie. Writer. Photographer. Etc.

iwedplanner wedding vendors

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Granny Smith: Unleashed

Observations and random thoughts from a "not so teenager."

meganelizabethmorales

MANNERS MAKETH MAN, LOST BOYS FAN & PERPETAUL CREATIVITY.

TLP

Finding Clear and Simple Faith

lostcompanion

Alcoholism

Brendan Cole - Writer

Musings On Life and Other Minutiae

Chickens Bring Peace to the Earth

Slow down, pray, make better choices

generaliregi

Romance of Five Clouds and Magical Poetry

FOGwalkerBirdie

Walking in the Favor Of God

PROPEL STEPS

Education is Everything

Upside DIY

Born from the love of, "Do It Yourself" attitude!

Soul Access

LAY DOWN YOUR MASK AND BE KNOWN BELOVED

Traveling with Thomas

Follow me as I study in London and travel Europe

Life Confusions

"I Will Find Words, Smith them Down. For Love Is Infinite And So Are They."

ann johnson-murphree

Artist, Writer of Confessional Free Verse Poetry and Fiction

Gotta Find a Home

Conversations with Street People

Ed Mooney Photography

The official blog of Ed Mooney Photography. Dad of 3, Photographer, Martial Artist, Gym Rat & Blogger. Exploring the historical sites of Ireland.

MyCreativeHaven

”Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” -- Picasso.

gabrielsfury

poems & stories, thoughts about people and places between moments of clarity, or not.

Reowr

Poetry that purrs. It's reowr because the cat said so.

A Blumes With a View

Putting the "blah" in blog!!

The Low Low Style

Why do high low when you can keep it on the low low?

Ray Ferrer - Emotion on Canvas

** OFFICIAL Site of Artist Ray Ferrer **

Patterns Tried and True makes a happy YOU

Help Hope Happiness! Knowledge sets you free to become the best you can be!

allmostrelevant

Want to see what an Instagram with no pictures looks like? @allmostrelevant

My Good Time Stories

Inspiring and Heartwarming Stories

STEAL MY POETRY

All things unpublishable.

Jayson D. Bradley

Honest to God

%d bloggers like this: