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The official blog of familyWORKZ™

January 20, 2009

Marital Knots

Filed under: Couples — Tags: — admin @ 10:29 am

Marriages are wonderful as long as they are working.  When marriages stop working, then everything else in life becomes a bit more challenging.  Complicating this reality further is the fact that marriages typically stop working “out of the blue” and when we least expect them to.

When marriages get upside-down not only do we lose the sense of where we belong, but we also lose our balance as well as a piece of who we are. Amidst this experience of compounded loss, any type of similar loss in our past comes rushing back to us. Flooded by both current and past relational trauma, it is easy to get off course in our marriage and lose sight of our long-term destination.

A great way of getting back “in-control” of the situation, as opposed to the situation “controlling” you, is to give the moment a name. When appropriately labeled, it is much easier for both partners to see the problem as the problem as opposed to seeing the other person as the problem. This is where the idea of the “MARITAL KNOT” originated. If you think about what it feels like to disconnect from your parnter, it is likely you experience it as a type of knot in your stomach. Or, perhaps you’re the kind of person who experiences all kinds of thoughts that get tangled up together in one big knot. By calling the moment of disconnection a “KNOT,” it is possible to express to your partner what you are experiencing inside without the other person becoming defensive, judgmental, or critical. 

Learning how to untie the KNOT is a topic for another day. But learning how to recognize a moment of disconnection and giving it a name out loud, will go a long way to decrease the conflict and likely avoid further escalation. Not bad for merely having the courage to say out loud the truth.

Stop Yelling

Filed under: parenting — Tags: , — admin @ 10:20 am

Stress magnifies everything.  For example, a child is poky when getting their morning clothes on.  Under the pressure of getting the kids fed, lunches packed, teeth brushed, coats put on, driving in traffic, and getting to work on time to make an important presentation, in your mind, your child’s pokiness turns into disrespect and inconsideration. Consequently, operating within this frame of mind, it not uncommon for us to explode by YELLING at our child. Actually, your child’s pokiness is likely due to plain old tiredness or a biological preference for traveling in a lower gear in the morning.

Your yelling signals an important message – you’re probably a combination of overwhelmed, exhausted, battle-torn or alone. Some people might tell you to STOP yelling. I don’t think that is realistic. Instead, I believe it is more helpful to focus on trying to CATCH YOURSELF yelling. Too many times when we yell, we stay attached to the emotional explosion of the moment. Perhaps, if we learn to listen to our yelling we may get better at having our yelling signal to us that something really big is happening in our lives and that we need help, support, guidance, or perhaps just a little bit of reassurance.

January 17, 2009

Test Your “Divorce Vision”

Filed under: divorce — admin @ 1:35 pm













The Third Pillar

Filed under: Couples,divorce,Individual — Tags: — admin @ 1:34 pm

The first rule of ethics is “do no harm.” The second rule is “do good.” These are well established principles or pillars of thought that, when adhered to, wisely guide both personal and professional behavior. Although this list is profound, it appears lacking. 

We all know that regardless of our best effort, eventually, intentionally or unintentionally, we will cause another person to feel harm. When this happens, a third pillar is needed – “When harm is done, as quickly as possible, undo it.” 

When “undoing” does not occur, the harm lingers and pain deepens. Stated another way, you may think that when you have harmed someone things couldn’t get any worse. You’re wrong. Without putting forth effort to undo the harm, a memory of being forgotten, uncared for, or worthless is laid down.

Therefore, make every effort to avoid harming another person by concentrating on doing good. But when you do cause harm, make yourself memorable by focusing on undoing harm.

January 13, 2009

Button Pushing

Filed under: Couples,Individual — Tags: , — admin @ 3:26 pm

A basic truism about our humanity is that we are most likely to hurt people we are closest to.  

Consequently, it is relationships that produce are highest highs and lowest lows. During times of mutual intimacy, we literally feel “on top of the world.” The pleasure enjoyed from such deep connection makes everything seem worthwhile. Our thoughts turn toward the future with hopeful optimism. During such times, life flows.

By contrast, when the flow stops, a cascade of unwelcomed experiences is felt – emotions darken, thoughts turn negative, and our body begins to protest. It is during these times we feel “harmed.” The quickest way to go from a moment of connection to disconnection is when someone “pushes our buttons.” The two most common and predictable types of buttons include:

  1. being MISTREATED, or

When or the other or both occur, what is being “pushed” is our greatest fear. When someone does something that we believe to be an intentional infliction of harm, the experience is one of abandonment or rejection. Either way, when a button is pushed we become unattached or disconnected from the relationship we most desire and need. The antidote for button pushing is learning how to stand up for yourself without putting the other person down.

Cost of Divorce

Filed under: divorce — Tags: — admin @ 3:10 pm


The number of children affected by divorce each year.



The chances your marriage will end in divorce within 25 years.

January 12, 2009

Kamikaze Depression

Filed under: Individual — Tags: , — admin @ 6:32 pm

Many times a silent type of anger masks or hides the more raw emotions of fear and sadness.  The origin of this anger often occurred a long time ago, which makes its identification tricky. In such situations, people experiencing a longstanding and smoldering anger typically are not aware of the extent to which they are upset or disappointed or discouraged. Without such informed knowledge, their protest remains misguided and unrecognized. Consequently, this chronic anger either hardens into hate or remains pliable yet uncontrollable and is turned back onto the person in the form of “kamikaze” depression.

Last Things First

Filed under: divorce — Tags: , — admin @ 2:47 am

The word “divorce” brings to mind a host of tangled thoughts and feelings. Ranging from embarassment to despair, the experience of this word triggers surprise, confusion, disappointment and many other imbalancing reactions. The negative power of this word is strong and lasting. Once spoken, its impact stains the overall quality of the dialogue and channels the conversation into uncomfortable circles. 

The problem with divorce is its staying power. The divide it creates between partners is difficult to overcome. One key thought is to think about “last things first.” This idea emphasizes the quality of one’s LAST NAME. Since all members of a divorced family share a last name, or at least did at one time, by focusing on the function of the last name – to join everyone together – it serves as a reminder to do what is best for the family first and place your needs a close second. By doing so, opportunities for generosity, compassion, and kindness make themselves more available.

January 11, 2009

Parenting Tips

Filed under: parenting — Tags: — admin @ 5:09 pm

Many parents have asked me to widdle down my parenting advice into basic tips that can be returned to time and again.  The following list represent my best shot at boiling basic parenting down into various TIPS.

  1. Love & Limits – Remember to care as much as you set limits (discipline) and discipline because you care. This can be done by moving forward with a balance of firmness and kindness. 
  2. Attention – Don’t bother talking unless you have your child’s attention.  The key is getting your child’s attention without raising your voice. This is done by talking about what matters and talking at your child’s level of understanding. 
  3. Clarity – After getting your kids attention, tell them clearly what you have to say. Follow up your comment with something like “Was that clear or do you need me to make is even clearer?”
  4. Consequences – There are three types of consequences: natural, logical and relational. Much has been written about the first two. It is the third type of consequence that I believe wins the day. More will be written about relational consequences in different blogs.
  5. Consistency – Doing the same thing over and over again, as long as it works, makes parenting much easier. When in doubt, return to what works.
  6. Know the Difference Between Healthy & Unhealthy – Teaching yourself to catch you kids doing what’s expected (acting good), is a powerful intervention that pays dividends as it reinforces the message as to what “good” behavior looks and feels like in the moment. 
  7. Know Your Child’s Development Stage – Every child passes through various stages of development. Knowing these stages allows you to accurately gauge your child’s behavior and adjust your expectations accordingly.  

Relationship Math – part 1

Filed under: Couples — Tags: , , — admin @ 4:12 pm

In order to make meaningful and lasting contact with another person, the idea of “relationship math” has been created.  Everyone knows that within the world of basic math, 1+1=2.  However, this same question reveals a radically different answer when asked within the world of relationship math.

How much is 1+1?

Your answer to this question suggests your current level of natural relationship skills.  If you answered “1” it is likely you thought about the tradition of unity, which represents a whole. While this answer speaks to an important aspect of togetherness, it is not the right answer. If you answered “2,” then you likely thought about “me” and “you.” Again, while this is not entirely off track as, indeed, there exists two people in every relationship. But this is not the right answer. If you answered “3,” then BINGO, you know more than most. 

Inside every important relationship exists three factors that count – you, me, and US.  A person possesses a high level of relational skills when they focus on US just as much as they emphasize ME or YOU.

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