Three Reasons for Fear of Commitment

We live in a singles world – and instead of being happy about their freedom, these singles are, for the most part, lost and lonely. If the obvious solution is to get hitched, the obvious question is: Why aren’t they doing just that? Why are they afraid of commitment? Here are three reasons. Children of Divorce Research shows that ten years after divorce, adult children may delay commitment in order to avoid putting future children of theirs through the same experience they had. They search for lasting love and faithfulness. They can still remember traumatic moments from their parents’ divorce (http://www.jabfm.org/content/14/3/201.full.pdf). In other words, adult children often search fruitlessly for the ideal relationship that their parents didn’t have. The task is doubly hard for them because their family of origin didn’t teach them what they need to know about happy homes. In fact, if roughly 50% of first marriages end in divorce, 75% of second ones do. What do the children learn from this? Children in Conflicted Homes There is a significant proportion of homes in America that remain intact in spite of abuse, affairs, and neglect. Parents worry that a divorce will harm their children, but without two people on board to create a harmonious home, the children are harmed anyway. Here’s an excerpt from my own published research: “Cummings and Davies (1994) have been observing young children from non-violent homes in laboratory situations for twenty years. They catalogue the following behaviors in response to witnessing laboratory anger between adults: ‘crying, freezing (motionless tension for an extended period), facial distress, distressed body movements (e.g., covering of the ears),...

4 More Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

To continue with PART II of our look at singles’ warning signs of an unhealthy relationship, here are the next four. Sign 4: You’re being isolated. This one is the opposite of #3. There, you didn’t feel “part of.” Here, you’re “all of.” In the beginning, this seems very flattering. You are the center of attention. But after a while, you look around and notice that there is no one else in your circle. Just you and this person. You realize that your family has been cut off and so have your friends. That’s a big warning sign that something is wrong. When someone does that, they take away your support system. When they have you to themselves, they can start to convince you that everyone else is wrong, sick, or no good. And without being able to talk to anyone about it, you start to become confused. That’s the goal. When you’re confused, you can turn to them more and more for answers. It’s a form of mind control. When you have no one else to turn to, then this person has so much more power over your thoughts and opinions and how you spend your time. After a while, you don’t even quite know who you are. It is because we can express ourselves to others–and hear their reaction—that we clarify our ideas. And our ideas are the basis of who we are. So, don’t let anyone cut you off from your friends and family. Sign 5: You’re always the bad one. When something goes wrong, does your significant other manage to be the victim and you...

Singles’ Top 3 Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

Part I When people have long-term marriages and things are bad, we can work on fixing them. It’s better to resolve problems so kids can grow up in a home with two loving parents. But you aren’t married and you have your life ahead of you, so why get bogged down with something hurtful when you don’t have to? Why suffer? Life was not meant for suffering, not in my opinion. Are you shocked to hear me say this? You thought I promote marriage. I do. If you’ve read my articles or if you know me, you know I am very pro-marriage. If you want to save your marriage, I will do everything in my power to help you. On the other hand, perhaps one of the reasons for so many non-committing singles is fear. Perhaps people have seen their recently-married friends get divorced within a year. Perhaps their own parents divorced or were unhappy. I have figured out a way around this fear. If singles would know exactly what to look for – and avoid it like the plague – then they can relax about their dating experience with everyone else. I think we were meant, like the Constitution says, to pursue happiness. Maybe it doesn’t come easily, not on a silver platter. But that doesn’t mean we can’t go for it. That’s why I wrote this. I want you to have a simple blueprint for your relationships that will help you stay on the road to pursuing happiness rather than being stuck in misery. I’ve boiled it down to the top seven warning signs that something is...

7 Ways to Win an Argument

In 1974, Dr. Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire was interested in testing the prevalent theory of the time that said “venting” works to let off emotional steam when someone is angry. Surveying over 300 college students about aggression in their homes, he found that as couples were more verbally aggressive, the amount of domestic violence increased. Surprised, he went ahead with the first national survey on this topic, interviewing 2,143 couples. Again, he got the astonishing conclusion that the higher the verbal aggression, the higher the physical aggression. It looked like venting anger is a bad idea. Dr. Straus then thought that perhaps this was because when people argue, they don’t really listen and are not trying to reason. In such an atmosphere, it really is no surprise after all, that physical aggression increases: People are frustrated and their arguments get nowhere, so they escalate. He therefore wanted to explore the idea that people who try to reason and negotiate might reduce the physical violence. Nevertheless, in analyzing the data, he found the high reasoners “are the most violent couples in the sample.” The least violent people, it turned out, took a breather when they were upset and then went and calmed down. That’s all very good, you might want to say, but how do you get there? How do you get to calmness when you and your beloved are in the middle of something far from it? The answer has several components. The first key is great listening skills. 1. If You’re Willing to Listen, You’ll Get Listened to If you know you’re right and your...

Are You A Know It All? – A Simple Test

“I swear,” he said to me, shaking his head, “she is so stupid—.” I cut him off quickly with, “Stupid? Is she stupid? Didn’t she graduate college?” “Well, yes,” he stammered, “but, please, how could someone do something like that?” “Okay,” I answered, “that’s a different question. To figure out what was in her head, we have to ask her, but before we do that, I’m still interested in your use of the word, ‘stupid.’ Is she or isn’t she stupid?” “No, she isn’t ordinarily stupid,” he concluded with a deep sigh, slinking into the cushions as if wishing he wouldn’t have to get out of them and start dealing with the mess in his life. When You Say “Is” You Sound Like A Know It All “You see,” I point out, “the problem is not so much with the word ‘stupid,’ as it is with the word, ‘is.’ For example, if you said, ‘She is acting as if she were stupid, which is really strange since I know she is smart,’ you’d have a whole different meaning, one which really expresses how you feel without sounding like you are a Mr. Know It All and you’re passing judgment on her. I’m not crazy about the word ‘stupid’ in any case, but the word ‘is’ makes it sound like you’ve come down from Heaven with The Answers. You don’t want to do that, I’m sure. It’s disrespectful.” As Peter looked at me, I could see a little ray of light in his eyes, the dawn of an awareness. “Is that why she has told me so many times, ‘You...

One Surprising Reason People Don’t Apologize

Kerry got into it with his brother-in-law again. Somehow this happened with some, almost predictable, regularity about twice a year. Each time was painful for them and for the witnesses. Yet, it seemed doomed to repeat itself. And in that horrible cycle, Kerry would not apologize. Why not? It started innocently enough. Chuck was looking at the news headlines when he opened his email. “Boy,” he said, “there go the American apologists again. Why won’t they just be proud of who they are? Why are we always afraid to speak up? Why can’t we take some strong steps with people who put us down?” Kerry, his brother-in-law, happened to be passing through the kitchen at that moment. He and his wife, Penny, were visiting for a few days and Kerry came with suitcases full of opinions. “What gives you the right to spill American blood?” he retorted, his face growing red. “What do you want to do, inflame them more? Why, you’re just a murderer!” How Other People Perceive Our “Passion” About An Idea Chuck was shocked although he shouldn’t have been. This was Kerry’s modus operandi: If he disagreed with an opinion that someone expressed, he felt duty-bound to express his disagreement in the strongest possible terms. He always believed that strong terms got the message across. Chuck was offended. More than offended, he was perplexed. How in the world could his own wishing for fairness and truth in the media and in the eyes of the government rather than placating people ready to throw bombs at a moment’s notice be the equivalent of murder? It made no...

Conflict Resolution Requires Respect

Calista and Ben were bickering again. “I think going to a beach for a week would just be so boring,” Ben said, concerning their vacation plans. “Not only would I be bored but you would be, too. You think you just need to lay out in the sun and do nothing, but I know you; you’d get bored so quick. And then what? We’d be stuck on an island with little to do or we’d give it up and lose the rest of our deposit.” “Not at all,” Calista argued. We would have plenty to do. We could rent bikes. That would be so much fun. “Every day?” Ben retored. “Who are you kidding? That would get old, fast, too. Or the mosquitos would chase you back to the hotel.” “So what’s your idea of a great vacation—hiking? I have no energy for that. And camping? Please! Without a hot shower, I wouldn’t call it a vacation.” “No, we could get showers,” Ben replied reasonably. They have a main house with accommodations at one of the stops on the trail. It’s do-able. “We have an eight-year old,” Calista reminded. “Have you forgotten?” “I used to love camping when I was eight,” came Ben’s quick response. This could go on all night. There are people who tell me their “discussions” do go on all night, and sometimes into the next day. And longer. What’s wrong with this picture? Arguments Go Round and Round If you said, “It never ends, and that’s not the way marriage is supposed to be,” you’d be right. Why would Calista and Ben think it would...

15 Reasons Not to Divorce

   If your marriage is so very bad that you are on the brink of divorce, then that is precisely when you should not divorce. Here are 15 reasons why: Don’t Divorce When Things Are Awful 1. Whatever made you angry has no chance of being resolved in court. In court, the differences are exaggerated and the feeling of not having been treated fairly increases. 2. Research shows that violence escalates when you divorce and for two years afterwards. If there was no violence, verbal aggression can also escalate to violence. 3. According to a 2011 article on the CNBC site, mediated divorces can cost between several thousand dollars to $7,000, but litigation could cost as much as $50,000. An author, Brette Sember noted that people are usually not prepared for the amount of the retainer and further unprepared for the bills that follow. The article advises coming in having discussed carefully how everything would be divided. Is there something in this scenario a bit incongruous? The article was taken down as of this checkup (2015) so I guess the cost went UP. According to updated info, attorneys are between $150 and $450 an hour. I have never met a $150 attorney in my life although they may bill that for paralegal time. This site indicates the divorce on average is $15,500. 4. Now two households will have to be supported. Whatever your expenses were, now it’s double. 5. Let’s add other “hidden” expenses: houses which no longer have cash value; health insurance; college for children; small but meaningful items in the home such as artwork, memberships, airline miles....

How to Give Constructive Criticism

Check out my last post to understand this one. I gave a simple solution to dealing with a person who cannot tolerate the smell of blame and therefore will not accept any feedback that he or she hurt your feelings. The problem, I could hear you saying, even before I finished clicking “save” is that it won’t work. No matter how well you set up the discussion ahead of time so that you attempt to convey that you are absolutely 100% not blaming, when you begin to say, “When you did X, it hurt my feelings,” you have lost your audience. I’m here to tell you that my suggestion will work. It just needs some sugar to make the medicine go down. Let me explain. Building Up Self Esteem We started with the premise that your partner cannot tolerate hearing anything that smacks of blame. So the solution is to fool him or her. This will break the chain of association in your partner’s mind between a “serious discussion of my feelings” and the assumption that the next step will be blame. What you must do is start setting up “meetings” as I described in the previous blog, only in these meetings you will pay a compliment. Your partner will be on guard for blame and criticism and instead will receive, very seriously delivered, with great attention to how you word it, praise. It could be as simple as telling him or her how much it meant to you that he/she did the grocery shopping/homework with the kids/laundry/yard/bathroom/spoke pleasantly to your mother, and so forth. The key is to...
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