A Simple Trick To Stop Fighting

    Robert woke up grumpy. Why shouldn’t he? He and Evelyn went round and round til past 1 AM, not resolving the issue even at that late hour, and they both went to bed in a grouchy mood. Maybe she could get over it quick, he thought, but he couldn’t. Nevertheless, on his way out the door for work, he took out the garbage, more out of habit than anything else. Evelyn’s reaction to his helpfulness was, “What’s the big deal about taking out the garbage? He should do that,” although in the interest of not inflaming the fight further, she didn’t say anything. She was still annoyed about the fight—she did not get over it—and this was compounded by his grumpiness. In fact, his helpful act was totally undone by the bad mood. As a therapist hearing this story, I would have some trouble trying to persuade Evelyn to appreciate his help. After all, if Evelyn is still in a bad mood herself, I would never get through to her. What do I do to help this couple? We Have To Recognize The Good That Others Do This concept in the present case makes more sense than “gratitude.” Evelyn can’t “appreciate” Robert’s taking out the garbage. As she herself says, it’s something he ought to do. She certainly would not deign to show him gratitude for this un-special, every-day act. However, the landscape changes when we replace the word “gratitude” with “recognizing the good.” You see, I’m only asking Evelyn to catalogue a behavior, to make an unemotional assessment of Robert’s behavior: Is taking out the garbage a...

3 Secrets for A Positive Attitude about Your Marriage & Kids

I’ve been saying a lot about the power of the mind. So if you want to know how I think that incredible information can be applied to marriage and family, here it is: Learn to see the positive; learn to say it positively. Three Bad Stories This is a hard one. It’s hard because it’s hard to see positive when you’ve been confronted with negative for years and years. What can you say positive about your wife who comes down to breakfast looking like a truck rolled over her instead of looking like she had a good night’s sleep? What can you say positive about your husband who has nothing positive to say to you? What can you say positive about your fresh little teenager who slams the door on the way out? What’s positive about any of that? And anything I’m going to tell you will be a stretch because you know deep down in your heart that there really is not much good to say. So here is my chicken-and-egg question: Did your wife, husband, or child act the way they did because they’re flat-out losers or did your own attitude and behavior contribute to the unwanted results? Secret #1: Giving The Benefit of The Doubt Okay, I forgot to say that when you exercise the power of your mind, you do have to begin with an honest look in the mirror. You can only climb mountains if you first put on your own boots. So, put down your right index finger and stop pointing. Take a look inside, and ask yourself whether you may have contributed...
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