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

PARTNER EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED ELSEWHERE?

You'd better hope your inamorate's attached to more than just you.

Dry your eyes: Your partner’s attachment to more than you is one of the strongest ways to make love last.

You already know part of being human is the capacity for experiencing many emotions.  Turns out that ability isn’t limited to homo sapiens.   Anyone who’s ever had a companion animal knows the depth of the bond that develops, not just because we need their regard, but because they regard us right back.  It’s obvious these creatures are as selective as humans when it comes to feeling affection.

Powerful experiences create emotions like sadness, happiness, love, fear, and anger in many mammals.  It’s heartbreaking to watch an animal grieve at the loss of a companion, one who isn’t necessarily human.  On the other hand, the internet antics of a variety of interspecies’ friendships has its own very popular niche; there’s no doubting the “awww” effect of such interactions.

So it is when office mates celebrate the completion of a long, stressful project with high fives all around.  Intense battlefield experiences account for fellow-soldiers’ often unspoken bonds to each other.  Members of winning teams embrace each other, jump on each other, or cry with each other while their fans do the same thing, even though they’re strangers.

Turns out that trust, touch, desire for social connection, bonding, affection, calmness, fear reduction, protectiveness, a desire for social connection – and, yes, perhaps love – seem to be experienced in varying degrees among sloths and humans as well as between them, a result of the release of oxytocin which is common to all mammals.

Dry your eyes if you assume your partner doesn’t care for you because he cares about others (non-sexually) as well.  Be glad your partner’s in touch with others — pets, co-workers, buddies, family.  Self-expressing, sharing emotional experiences with others, and being empathetic all enable your partner to be part of your healthy relationship.

Isn’t that what you wanted in the first place?

A Marriage & Family Therapist for over 20 years, Kathe Skinner specializes in couples work in her Colorado Springs’ practice.  She has been married for over 30 years to David and has had many inter-species relationships, currently with kitties Petey and Lucy.  Read more about Kathe and her approach to therapy at www.coupleswhotalk.com where you can sign up to receive her FREE curated newsletter.

copyright, 2016 Being Heard, LLC

CARRY MARRIAGE SOMEPLACE NEW.

couple and bridgeIn life, bridges connect us to the future. They provide passage to carry us forward to new discoveries, new opportunities, and renewed relationships.

But crossing a bridge means making a change, and change can be uncomfortable. We’re torn between staying where we are or venturing into the unknown. And often, when given the option to turn back to what is safe and comfortable… we do.

And that’s why we must reach deep inside and gather up the courage to burn some old and useless relationship habits and beliefs so that we can move forward and cross bridges into new ones.

When you cross a new bridge….or burn an old one…you are growing, changing, and evolving. Sure, it’s scary not to know exactly what lies ahead, but as C.S. Lewis said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

What bridges do you need to burn? And what bridges are waiting to lead you to new discoveries? There are many opportunities that lie ahead for you – all it takes is having the courage to find which bridges to cross… and which one to burn.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in work with couples.  She and husband David teach Secular Couple Communication Workshops in Colorado Springs throughout the year.  

Copyright 2015, Being Heard LLC

THE CROCK-POT MARRIAGE: TASTY LOVE IS SLOW-COOKED

crock pot

“You Can’t Hurry Love” sang The Supremes in their 1966 hit, covered in 1982 by Phil Collins and in 1999 by the Dixie Chicks.  Love that’s instant is often short-lived, more lust than length.  To await the outcome of something not ready in a jiffy is the practice of relationship . . . love at its most tasty.  While many of us search out the searing heat of newness, turns out successful love is cooked in a crock-pot. 

That familiarity breeds attraction has been a theme celebrated for at least a century, from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion as inspiration for the Broadway hit musical My Fair Lady to Oscar-nominated Bridget Jones’ Diary.  Guys might not worry about big girl panties, but it’s not just plus-size gals who love the possibility that love conquers looks. 

Despite what mom said about a good personality and a great smile, it seems the pretty ones have a shapely leg up when it comes to finding a likewise gorgeous mate; in evolutionary terms it’s called “high mate value”.  Notwithstanding friends with benefits, turns out mate value increases the longer people spend time together before dating.  In other words, the more you get to know someone, the more attractive you find them. 

Turns out mom was right.  

It stands to reason that the perception of mate value might also increase once people are permanently paired, irrespective of the amount of time spent getting to know each other in a non-romantic way. 

Several factors may be key:

Realistic expectations might mean having few, if any, expectations at all.  Of course that means that long-term togetherness is best viewed as a box of chocolates; understanding that the twists, turns, and adventures of even one life are unpredictable that double goes for any couple.  Shared values can feed into the predictability that increases the more that’s known about each other.  An acquaintance’s behavior doesn’t carry the same weight as that of someone we’ve committed to, probably because the expectation of a friend’s behavior doesn’t matter as much even though the behaviors might be the same.  For example, when a friend gets drunk it may be humorous; when a mate does, not so much.

No one has a plan for change, even though change is on the short list of life’s certainties.  The story of the spouse who left when the other developed cancer is apocryphal but is only a segment of our fear that when we’ve grown older, rounder, or more wrinkled our mate value is lost.  But the more you know someone, really know someone, the less likely change is upending.  True as well is that knowing and planning require learning and practicing.  Despite a feeling of instant connection, relationship is, well, work.  Just when a couple feels the hard part’s behind them, then whammo change happens again; it’s not so much planning for particular changes (as if that were even possible) it’s having the ability to have a plan for change in general.  As difficult as it might be to achieve, couples who can reach consensus about a plan of action are couples who are successful at riding out change together. 

Communication is about more than talking and listening.  Communication that works is an active process that builds on itself over time.  Attentiveness, thought, understanding, and active involvement are marks of partners who continue to know each other.  Think of friends you’ve had, male or female, to whom you felt comfortable talking about anything.  Expectation, judgment, and vulnerability seem to increase with romantic closeness when the truth is that you may already have trusted a friend with lots of the same things.  The effort each of us puts into “communicating” seem inversely proportional to time:  listening and talking to new mates is more intense than listening and talking to new friends; while the same behaviors are more intense with older friendships than with long-standing mates.

Each partner’s vulnerability to the other is possibly the most telling feature of mates’ mutual value.  Belief in the relationship incorporates the needs for trust and safety we all have.  With vulnerability (and the acceptance of it) there are no surprises, no hidden agendas, and not much left unsaid.  Respect is a key element of mutual vulnerability; knowing that your partner – or your friend — will not seek to harm you intentionally.  Both have a serious effect on self-esteem and our beliefs about our place in the future of others.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice who specializes working with couples.  Cooking with a crock-pot every chance they get, she and husband David have been married for 29 years. Together with their 2 hooligan cats, the Skinners live in Colorado where they teach Couple Communication Workshops.

Copyright, 2015  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