Monday, December 18, 2017

Healthy and Happy Couples Do Exist

And why not be one of the fortunate ones in a happy relationship!  With life terminating at any given unforeseeable accident isn’t it worth trying to have a happy relationship before life passes you by?  For many of us we have no idea what a happy relationship looks like.  And when we do find such a relationship we often are not sure what we have.  Moreover, at other times we criticize or over-scrutinize the relationship ultimately destroying what was once good.  If you are needing a check-in or an exploration of a positive loving relationship I recommend a quick glance at What a Healthy Relationship Looks Like.  

It is no secret that as a therapist in Los Angeles I am constantly emphasizing communication, communication and communication.  But that only goes so far when you are talking to a brick wall and your partner is talking out of a window into a snow storm.  You are both talking but the love of your life isn’t hearing a word you are saying.  So, let’s break down some thoughts about a happy couple.  For starters commonalities can be a big plus.  For example, working in the same career might provide active ways to achieve goals and speak the same career language.  But there have been many times when opposites do attract.  Granted, opposites can be highly short lived; but, the idea of bringing in a newness into one’s thinking can be highly valuable.  There is also significant data supporting interpersonal attractiveness being detrimental in initiating relationships.  And there is great truth to this idea of physical attributes as it relates to courting.  However, with Los Angeles County being highly complex, dense in population, culturally diverse, varied in social economic status, and wide alternative lifestyles; outer aesthetics cannot sustain courtships.  As a marriage counselor, I would argue that if attractiveness (or outer beauty) brings a couple together there must be clear thought in working to keep the union together for the future.  

So if you are in a relationship these below listed items regarding healthy relationships might be great building blocks for strategizing and planning in obtaining a healthy vibrant union.  1.  Having a realistic awareness of the marriage.  Your partner is not perfect and they will fail.  That might be hard to take but some of the great marriages are about acceptance with flaws.  They were perfect at one point.  But became rocky occasionally and became mature and wonderful in time.  Symbolically, it is hard to win the Grammy Award every year.  You goal is to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammy’s.  It is hard to win the Cy Young pitching award every year.  Your goal is to get into Cooperstown - Baseball’s Hall of Fame.  Don’t set yourself up for failure and perfection.  2.  I would go further and say don’t take the MEDIUM things too personally.  If you focus on little things you MUST work on reducing this.  We are human and we are flawed.  We might not take the trash out, we will bounce checks.  Don’t make issues or screw-ups an attack against you.  They most often are not.  If they bought themselves a Starbucks and failed to get you one that is nothing more than they forgot or they were thinking about themselves.  It does not mean they don’t love you.  Don’t blow it out of proportion.  There are probably effective ways to get what you want in a way in which you both win.  3.  Don’t compete with your partner not unless it is on the court or when playing video games.  They are your partner.  Not your advisory.  This also applies to fighting.  Start building ideas that allow for being teammates.  Form a community recycling committee.  Mentor a neighborhood child.  What can you do as a collaborative team?  4.  STOP saying what your partner did wrong.  STOP shifting the blame.  “Well I would have but they did...  “  Well they didn’t … so I did…”  Take responsibility in your part.  All problems are two sided.   5.  If there is no trust what are you doing?  Dis-trust can be reversed into trust.  Often distrust is an unconscious theme with implications of you yourself doing (or having) distrustful acts.  If you come from a trustful place you will create a trustful space.  This is not being dumb or being a doormat.  Many themes of trust come from your own presentation.  6. Do extra acts of positives and kindness.  This is your partner we are talking about.  If you are living in a selfish mindset you will get a selfless reality.  Unconditional.  If you are both living in this ideology you will see bliss.  7.  Talking openly without fear also blends into TRUST.  This is a goal in which you ultimately want to tell your partner the good as well as the creepy.  If you work toward a good union trust will be there; and your partner will be trustworthy. They might not agree with your acts or behaviors or thoughts but ultimately you can have a partner with whom you can share you thoughts openly.  8.  Growth is freedom and freedom is positive and that is not stagnation.  Stagnation is a primary reason for unhappiness and irreconciliation.  9.  Fighting does not always mean blaming or argumentative or hate.  

Destructive and vengeful fighting is not healthy communication.   If we are having toxic fighting we must ask if it belongs in the relationships.  If you want that and can handle it then great but fighting should not have a lingering residue of hurt or flenching or emotional pain.  Fighting is an engagement to better understand the Other’s view of an idea.  
Fighting means that you are working toward understanding which might lead to your realizing that you have a limited view of a topic.  Fighting means that through healthy resolution you could apologize or that your partner recognizes your position without feeling shamed.  Why would you want to belittle, yell, argue and hurt your partner?  If the answer is “Well, because they... “  or “Because I am right and … “ or “I get sick and tired of them…”  or “I will not compromise on …”  then you are set to fight without having a partner.  You are creating an advisory.  
So, yeah as a marriage counselor in Los Angeles (which includes Beverly Hills, to Studio City to Hollywood to Burbank to Glendale) I have seen it all.  No marriage is perfect.  But healthy relationships do exist and some of them follow the above ways of thinking.  
Read more about Dr. Strayhorn's practice and philosophy...

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