NEVER TRUST A DAISY WITH THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE.

“I love him but I’m not in love with him.”

“I don’t feel that way about her anymore.”

Chamomile Flower Flying Petals Isolated On White Background

What does that mean?

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve been married more than half my life and there’ve been times when I’d have sold David to the highest bidder.  Shit, any bidder.

Relationship is still the best comic fodder out there. Sometimes, though, relationship stuff isn’t so funny.

How could such a high point in our lives, one that defined who we came to think of ourselves as being, become so abysmal?

Time for a reality check:

We didn’t know what we were getting into.  Did you get the birds and bees talk from your parents?  And if you were fortunate enough to get the facts about sex, I’ll wager no one told you about love and relationship.   While sex is loaded with misunderstanding, innuendo, assumption, and expectation, relationship is many times more complicated than that one component alone.  Don’t even get me started on how we learned to be in a marriage from watching our parents’.

You’re in good company.  Couples are surprised when I tell them how many other couples experience the same things — sleepless nights in separate rooms, thoughts of divorce, planning how to leave, worries about the kids or their families or what their friends will think.  Most every couple experiences relationship burn out, often many times in the same marriage.

Without much more than an admonition to “wait until you’re married” it’s no wonder most people equate sex with love.

Love is transitory.  Think about who you were in high school. Or, if you’re old enough, remember what defined you in your thirties. Dollars to donuts much is different.  What you weigh is different. What you drive (and why you drive it) might change from a small car to a mini-van.  Or, if you’re like me, the color of your hair might be different, too.  And much as some of us would like to have the poundage of a 16 something, change happens all around and to each of us.  Pay attention to Life; marriage mirrors it.  Always moving, shaking . . . changing.  Put another way, love never stays the same.

“Love” doesn’t remain the googly-eyed, altered state it was.  Good thing: who wants to be married to a cross-eyed idiot?

A daisy won’t tell you the truth about love.  If love answers were revealed by plucking petals, there’d be a whole lot less agony around relationship.  In beginning-love, uncertainty can be delicious; all-encompassing, interrupting eating, sleeping, and thinking.  The only way to keep from dying as a sleep-deprived anorexic without a job is to stop being consumed with expectations and assumptions about who loves you and who doesn’t.

Lots of people have it wrong.  Being “in love” comes after “love”.  Being in love is the long-haul, mostly up but sometimes down, day-to-day boring stuff that binds us.  Being in love can’t happen right away.  Being in love packs together the stuff of life and in the process teaches us how to traverse it by ourselves and ultimately with someone else.

DSC_4482-K&DKathe Skinner is a Colorado Springs Marriage & Family Therapist who specializes helping couples get their relationships where they want them to be.  She and husband David are celebrating (really) 30 years of marriage.  Find out more about Kathe and how therapy really can work at http://www.coupleswhotalk.com, where you can also leave a message or set up an appointment.

copyright, 2016 Being Heard, LLC

 

HOW THE HELL CAN A PERSON HAVE NOTHIN’ TO SAY?

Couple Watching Football

How John Prine, a very interesting singer/songwriter, knows myhusband is beyond me.  I mean, they’ve never met and the closest David’s gotten to John is liking his music and sometimes singing and playing it.  Oh, and seeing him once in concert.

So it’s a wonderment Prine described my husband, and probably yours, too, with a lyric from Angel From Montgomery.

I thought this year’s April Fool’s Day prank was inspired:  I didn’t have to construct a complicated plan David would see through like he usually does.  And I didn’t have to keep a straight face, something I seldom do.  Instead, my tom-foolery came by way of a popular movie rental box’s email advertisement for KIOSK AMBASSADORS!   People who:

• Like movies and games

• Love sitting in one place for 8+ hours

• Enjoy a very, very small workspace

• Must be able to think “inside the box”

• Not afraid of the dark

• Skilled at stacking discs

• Yoga experience recommended

The last requirement put me off a bit and I admit the photo gave me pause but it wasn’t until I I scrolled to the tag line APRIL FOOL! that I got that it wasn’t really a job for Kiosk Ambassadors.

Chuckling silently  – his office is next to mine – I forwarded the “ad” to him along with a message about how perfect the job of Kiosk Ambassador was for me.  Then I leaned back in my office chair, full of self-congratulations for reeling him in this year.  Instead, it went like this:

Him:  I knew it was a joke.

Me:    You did?

Him:   Yeah.

Me:    How?

Him:   I know how movie discs are replaced.

Me:    You do?

Him:   Yeah.

Me:     Geez, I fell for their joke.  Now I feel really stupid.

Him:    You shouldn’t.

Me:    Why didn’t you tell me?

Him:   I forgot.

Me:    So when did this Andy Rooney-worthy event happen?

Him:   Uh, the other day.

Me:    And you were where?

Him:   Someplace there was a kiosk.

Me:    It’s not like I got too close to some CIA secret you’re sworn to protect.  It’s chatting, for God’s sake!

John Prine asks the musical question “How the hell can a person get up in the mornin’/come home in the evenin’ and have nothing to say?”

Most women I know can relate to pulling information from their partners like it was a permanent tooth and scolding like a mommy when partners don’t share.  It’s not as if information is being purposely withheld but even if it was I’d be no less in the dark than if he was sneaking off to have wild sex in the storeroom at KwikWay.

I guess real men don’t chat.

Guys, while much of your infuriating behavior is kind of cute, even unintentionally withholding from your partner isn’t.  Deeming things “not very important” sends messages you put yourself above chit-chat, can’t be bothered, or find your partner not important (or smart) enough to share your day.  Take it from a wife: Being disregarded is excluding and lonely.

The small things, like how movie rental kiosks are refilled, is the glue that binds us together.  Sharing with your partner is like having dinner as a family – it’s a way of connecting and knowing each other better.

What couple can’t use that?

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Colorado Springs where she’s been in private practice for over 20 years. For a short time after reading this blog, David made an attempt to keep her informed; a week later they are back to normal.  For out more about Kathe’s practice at http://www.CouplesWhoTalk.com where you can also sign up to receive a free, weekly, curated newsletter about men, women and their relationships as well as articles about parenting, health, travel, and more, 

copyright, 2016   Being Heard LLC

CASTING A SPELL: EASIER THAN YOU THINK

Casting a spell is done by the lovers among us; no exorcism needed.   Anyone who’s had a broken heart knows words and potions don’t work anyway.  And, unless you’re a crazy cat lady, the likelihood of being under the spell of a lover’s words is far greater than being eID-100183804nchanted by a black cat.
Loving someone calls out parts of us untouched by anything else. Loving and being loved is the genesis of trust, fearlessness, safety, vulnerability.  Linking to another calls for courage, and hones our concept of “forever”.  Falling under love’s spell is the only time we’re wholly, nakedly, ourselves.
There’s no doubting there are parts of love’s enchantment most of us would choose to do without.  Being vulnerable, for instance.

It’s so scary that most partners would rather fight, go silent, resentfully acquiesce, or run away rather than connect.   We think that connecting with the one we love calls for us to “give ourselves over”, “lose” ourselves.  And that that person will, with malice aforethought, mistreat us.

Holding ourselves back from our partners, investing the bulk of our emotional energy in children, jobs, or pets may seem a safe way to cope.  It’s not.  Actions may seem to be reasonable when they’re really frantic, reactive, and irrational.  The result is disconnection.  It’s alone-ness, alright; one that’s soul deep.

Being by yourself and being in a relationship isn’t always unhealthy, though.  In fact, the bulk of who we are is lived individually, as it should be.  The relationship itself stays healthy when there is a communicated, mutual understanding of, and confidence in, the “us-ness” that bridges one to the other.

Successful relationships are overlapping, not pancaking.  A well-designed spell allows each partner to breathe.

Take John and Mary, for instance.  To him, being alone means time to decompress after work, diddling on the computer or watching the news.  For Mary it’s a long, hot, bubbly soak spent with a trashy novel, candles . . . and no kids.

Are we now too busy to spend time re-casting love’s spell?  Too dour to be delighted in loving and being loved?  So impersonal that we let our thumbs wirelessly communicate our needs?

Is casting a spell a lost art?

A passionate lover of the season of beauty and decay, Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in teaching couples how to be safe and vulnerable at the same time.  She lives in Colorado with her husband of 28 years, David, and their 2 hooligan cats, Petey and Lucy.  Black spirit cats Squeak and Winston Bean never felt safe on Halloween.
 
© 2014, Being Heard, LLC
Image courtesy of 9comeback at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 
 

WHEN A CAREGIVER DIES

bigstock_Old_Couple_Holding_Hands_2041049     First published on Disability.gov

For 70 years she put up with his (sometimes volcanic) rumblings.  He doted on her with diamonds, and was a poorer father for it.

The youngest of 5 much older siblings, she was babied into being passive and timid.  He was a blustering bad boy who loved control; a lifelong natural at most things mechanical.  He took seriously his duties as a man, a spouse, and head of the household.  He didn’t brook anything that deviated from his definitions of right and wrong, a bigot in many ways.   A mother and military wife who could fend for herself and children when she needed to, she preferred being cared for . . .  and he liked it that way.

Both were fortunate:  for much of their lifetimes, neither was chronically ill or disabled.  Unless you count legal blindness, which he didn’t (though most who drove with him did).  And even though she developed macular degeneration, a disease of the eye that usually leads to blindness, she could sometimes see the world better than he did.

Several years ago her macular degeneration began to impact both of them.  By then, her hearing had deteriorated, too, and her world shrank.  Although she rarely admitted fears (not to us, anyway) he expressed his the only way he knew how:  he fixed as much as he could.  He cut her food, gently guided her through the dimly-lit places they avoided more and more, lent her his arm, and searched out gizmos and gadgets he found in catalogues.  He took care of her.

Last year, George left Kate.

True to his role, George had organized everything, including who his wife’s legal caregiver was to be — my husband. Now, almost a year later, Kate no longer plans on joining George in death right away and doesn’t cry for hours each night.  Not that she tells us, anyway.  As her vision deteriorates Kate, not surprisingly, adapts. David and his sisters do what they can from a distance of a thousand miles, mostly via phone calls and the occasional visit.  Immediate support comes from close friends and a kind and caring nursing home staff.

Today, it takes a dozen people to do what George did.  Even so, he can never be replaced.

None of us could live well if we spent too much time dwelling on the eventuality of death.  But some of us — the visibly or invisibly disabled or chronically ill — need to spend more time thinking about the profound changes a caregiver’s death brings.  Like David’s parents, my husband and I are fused by years, experiences, commitment and love.  Though I’m the one diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, in truth MS is something we both carry.

As we age and tire, slow and re-prioritize, both of us have to remember that though we plan to go out holding hands as star-crossed lovers, the truth is more mundane . . . and likely.  Whoever is left to mourn, cared-for or caregiver, what needs to happen is the same:

1.  Plan now.  The outcomes might look different, but the grief will be the same.

2.  Get your house in order.   You don’t have to be a survivalist in order to be prepared with legal, medical, financial, and personal concerns.

3.  Create your own family.  Gather together people who care, no matter what the will says.

4.  Get outside each other.  Get perspective from someone trustworthy and caring who’s outside the mix — minister, counselor, or therapist.

5.  Express yourself and your needs clearly, often, and appropriately.  Consider what to say and who you say it to.  Sometimes being blunt can be hurtful; at other times necessary.  Some people are better prepared to bring a casserole or help with housekeeping than to see you cry.  Try out your voice to a journal, or pay a therapist or counselor . . . they can be skilled and trustworthy allies.

6.  Keep in touch with others.  It’s unfair (and shortsighted) to place the burden only in one place — like with your son.

7.  Have someone to talk to, starting now.  Clergy, therapist, physician, friend, partner, family can help you sort out what to say and how to say it.  Think of yourself as a nuclear reactor.  Keeping it to you guarantees one of two outcomes:  shutting down or exploding.

8.  Join a group of those experiencing what you are.  There’s no substitute for having someone “get it”.  Don’t believe me?  Try talking to someone who doesn’t.

DSC_4482-K&DKathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Relationship Specialist     specializing working with couples, especially those for whom invisible disability is part of the mix.  She has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for over 35 years.  Kathe and her husband David hold Communication Workshops in Colorado Springs and are both Certified Instructors for Interpersonal Communication Systems.  Along with their two hooligan cats, Petey and Lucy, they live along Colorado’s Front Range.  Find out more about Kathe and David at http://www.beingheardnow.com and read Kathe’s blogs, ilikebeingsickanddisabled.com and couplesbeingheardnow.com.

© 2014, BeingHeard LLC

3 WORDS MEN HATE TO HEAR

 

bigstock-Afraid-1467600

Women, can you think of the last time your man brought up something that bugged him about you?

Maybe it was that you talked to your friends too much, your mother too much, or him too much.

But unless really, really pushed – like during an argument – men aren’t usually relationship-complainers; at least mine isn’t.

It’s not that women do more talking than men – that truism got debunked (by male researchers, interestingly enough) – it’s how and what they talk aboutthat seems to make a difference.  Follow a husband and wife through any department store:  listen to what each points out and the descriptive words each uses.  Are both genders equally engaged and expressive?  I hang with my husband at Home Depot but the reverse isn’t true at Ross Dress for Less.

Men are finicky about stupid things, like artichokes or wearing turtlenecks.  Lots of things aggravate women, too, starting with men’s inability to recall what they do that women don’t want them to do anymore.   Hence the phrase “How many times do I have to tell you?”

Now, I couldn’t swear to it, but I’d bet my last carton of yogurt that men forget things on purpose, even at the risk of appearing stupid, which is actually pretty smart.

How else to explain men who feign ignorance about where the kitchen towels go when enlisted in putting away the wash?

Or men who fix diesel engines but can’t remember to put down the seat?

While the splash of a fanny hitting the water at 3 a.m. isn’t enough to strike fear in a man, three words are:  Can we talk?

That same carton of yogurt rides on my belief that when a woman says those words, it’s like a guy’s thrown into the deep end with shackles binding his wrists and ankles.  It’s not that women bowl guys over with the quantity of words – the sexes actually say about the same number of words in a day.  It’s the kinds of words used, the language that’s spoken.

Women generally have it over men in “feeling-speak”.  So when a woman wants to talk, bet your yogurt it’s in the language of feelings.  And even if both partners are talking about the same thing  their understanding and expression of it are very different.

Just like being in a strange land where we don’t sprechen the language, we show our frustration with each other in the same ineffective ways:

  • Talk louder and louder;
  • Throw up our hands in disgust;
  • Think how dense the other person is;
  • Walk away, muttering.

Just as tourists in a different land need more than passports and sensible shoes, couples often leave behind what’s most basic to their enjoyment and success.   Translator app, anyone?

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist and Relationship Coach specializing in couples work, especially with those relationships impacted by invisible disability.  She has a firm belief that the quality of a couple’s communication skills have a significant impact on their own, and their family’s, health.  Kathe and David have been married for almost 30 years and live in Colorado where they teach Couple Communication Workshops and continue to unravel Petey’s and Lucy’s cat-speak.  Discover more about Kathe Skinner and the Couples Communication Workshops at http://www.BeingHeardNow.com and be sure to check out more of Kathe’s blogs at ilikebeingsickanddisabled.com.

©2014, Being Heard, LLC

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