Anger provides a mixture of motivational benefits, some healthy and some short sighted and self-destructive.
On the positive side, anger creates a sense of power and control in a situation where prior to anger these positive, motivating feelings did not exist. The feelings of control and righteousness that come from anger can motivate you to challenge and change difficult interpersonal and social injustices. If handled correctly, your anger can motivate others to help you win your cause. Anger can provide you with a rest from feelings of vulnerability, and a way of venting tensions and frustrations. It can provide the energy and resolve necessary to defend yourself when you’ve been wronged. If you are a long suffering victim of domestic abuse, for example, and your anger finally reaches the boiling point so that it enables you to leave your abusive relationship, anger has been a truly positive force in your life. If you are a dedicated crusader working to further a truly moral cause (such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s drive for civil rights, or Gandhi’s drive for Indian independence), then anger gives you the strength to carry on, and the will to persevere.
There are negative motivational sides to anger too. Anger can create and then reinforce a false sense of entitlement, an illusory feeling of moral superiority that can be used to justify immoral actions. For instance, anger-motivated aggression can be used to justify terrorism, or to coerce and bully people into doing what you want them to do against their will. Angry people are likely to subscribe to the philosophy that “the end justifies the means” and then use unspeakable means of working towards their goals that defeat their purpose. If you are a terrorist like Timothy McVey (who bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building in 1995), a bully like television’s Tony Soprano (lead character in the HBO drama “The Sopranos”), or a ‘school shooter’ like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (who murdered fellow high school students in Columbine, Colorado in 1999), anger has led you to the dark side.
It is important to recognize that the effect of anger can be either positive or negative. If years of unresolved anger reach the boiling point and motivate you to leave an abusive relationship, your anger has saved you from additional abuse. On the other hand, if you use your anger to frighten others into doing what you want them to without considering their needs, you are allowing your anger to coerce and control others and you are no better than a bully.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Though anger is a normal human emotion, the way you choose to express your anger may not be normal or acceptable to those around you. If you suspect you have an anger problem, or if people you respect have told you that you do, we invite you to read on so as to learn about how to gain better control over your anger.
Help for anger problems is available through anger management programs which are offered through various sources including your workplace, employee assistance program, and through local counseling clinics. Anger management programs are designed to help you learn to control your anger responses in order to improve your relationships and health prospects. Anger management programs have much to teach that can help you to gain mastery over your problem anger. However, like any therapy or educational program, anger management programs can only benefit you to the extent that you decide to participate in them fully, and take in all they have to offer.
Learning to control your anger will be an ongoing task. You will need to rethink your automatic responses towards people. You will also have to take more responsibility for your thoughts and actions than you may have in the past. All of this will require discipline and a plan. As a means of helping you to gain this discipline and plan, we will next step back and review how normal people approach making large scale life changes. Having this perspective should prove useful in your anger management efforts. Understanding the best way to approach a problem is an important step in eventually overcoming it.
Stages of Change
People tend to go through a predictable set of several stages while working through life-changes. Progress through the stages is largely due to a combination of motivation, technique and dedication. Some people move quickly through the stages, while others move more slowly, perhaps even taking a step or two backward before continuing on to complete their change.
As you consider each of the stages of change below, think about how each stage has played out in your own life as you have made life changes in the past. Imagine how you will work through the challenges of each stage as you approach your anger management goals. While your experience may not mirror the order of the stages listed below, understanding each stage can help you on your way to achieve your goal.
Challenge. Deciding to learn how to control your anger represents a big change in how you will life your life. People aren’t usually motivated to make big life changes like this until something comes along that challenges them to examine their old way of doing things, and motivates them to learn new, better ways of handling those things. Most people decide to make changes in the way they deal with anger only after they experience serious personal, social or occupational consequences for their anger. Challenging consequences might occur when a spouse starts divorce proceedings after a violent fight, or when you have lost your job after a workplace outburst. Some portion of angry people feel personally out of control after an outburst and decide to go for help so as to gain better self-control. Others go for help just to get other people off their back.
- Awareness. The awareness stage begins as the angry person seeks information about anger management; what anger is, how anger affects health and relationships, and how anger can be controlled.
- Preparation. Awareness is all about information gathering; it involves no commitment. The Preparation stage begins with your decision to actually make a change in the way you will express anger.Beyond commitment to change, preparation involves self-study and planning. It may be useful for you to keep an anger management journal where you keep a record of the things that make you angry, how you react when you are angry, and the consequences of your reactions. Your anger journal will help you identify and become aware of your anger triggers and may help give you some insight into how proportional your angry outbursts are to the various situations that provoke them (more on this later). The more you learn about your personal anger triggers, the better your chances of success in changing how you express anger.
- Action. In the Action stage you start making real changes. You may decide to take a professional anger management course or to purchase workbooks, tapes, or videos. You may also design a personal program for anger management. Any of these approaches might help you to develop greater control over your anger. However, none of them will work if you do not apply yourself to them with dedication and persistence.
- Maintaining Gains. The maintainance stage of change never ends. During this stage, you learn to accept the fact that you are not perfect, that you will make mistakes and act inappropriately, and that you can recover from lapses in your behavior when they do occur. Achieving sustained behavior change is a project. It may take multiple attempts and multiple failures before you will achieve this goal. Each time you do lapse into old behavior, you can use the tools and strategies you have learned along the way to help you pick yourself up and recover.
It is particularly difficult for many people with anger problems to work up the motivation to seriously want to work an anger management program. Because anger has a seductive, self-justifying quality to it, people are not typically drawn to anger management on their own. Many times, people need to suffer serious negative consequences of their anger before they realize that they need help in controlling their outbursts. Even then, motivation for continuing an anger management program can wax and wane. It is fairly common for angry people to stop attending an anger management program before finishing it, or for people to never actually apply or use the techniques they learn in their program. People often need to repeat anger programs a number of times before they truly understand the message and incorporate the training into their own lives.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
- “How do I know when I am angry?”
- “What events/people/places/things make me angry?”
- “How do I react when I’m angry?”
- “How does my angry reaction affect others?”
Answering these questions takes a while. It is likely you can rattle off several things that make you angry. You might even be able to identify several signs that you exhibit when you are angry (e.g., clenched fists, etc.). These quick answers are only the beginning, however; the low hanging fruit. You will want to continually ask yourself these questions for a period of time before you can be satisfied that you are fully knowledgeable about your personal anger.
Recognizing Physiological Signs of Anger
The first step in effective anger management is to learn how to recognize when you are angry. Some angry people see their emotions as a black or white state—they are either raging mad or they are calm. In reality, anger is not black and white, but rather quite gray. Anger occurs on a continuum between rage and calm where most of the time people experience some gradation of anger between these two extremes.
The same people who tend to see anger in terms of extremes sometimes have difficulty recognizing when they are experiencing intermediate anger states. Luckily, most people experience a number of physical, emotional and behavioral cues that they can use to let them know when they are becoming upset.
Some physical signs of anger include:
- clenching your jaws or grinding your teeth
- stomach ache
- increased and rapid heart rate
- sweating, especially your palms
- feeling hot in the neck/face
- shaking or trembling
Emotionally you may feel:
- like you want to get away from the situation
- sad or depressed
- like striking out verbally or physically
Also, you may notice that you are:
- rubbing your head
- cupping your fist with your other hand
- getting sarcastic
- losing your sense of humor
- acting in an abusive or abrasive manner
- craving a drink, a smoke or other substances that relax you
- raising your voice
- beginning to yell, scream, or cry
All of us know someone who is never pleased. No matter how hard we try to make things pleasant, the individual can find some imperfection to dwell on and spoil our best efforts. It is as though he were allergic to being pleased. Hypercritical individuals cannot be happy with material or social success. A happy event, such as a wedding or birthday is an ordeal for them. They see to it that it becomes an ordeal for everyone within earshot:
“What’s the big deal? You’d think no one ever got married before!”
“You call this a party? When my Uncle Steve turned sixty he had fourteen-piece band, and an 8 course meal, an open bar with top shelf liquor, a magician, hotel rooms and limos for all the guests. Now, that’s a party.”
We call this person a crab or a sourpuss, as if such labels solved the problem. Labels do not shed any light on the subject; we understand nothing. Labels only make the rest of the problem that much harder to trace. These people are angry at life for not being better than it is. Until life is better than it is, they reserve the right to “complain about the service” at the top of their voice. They refuse to accept it as it is. They cannot and will not be happy with it until it lives up to their fictitious expectations. The consequence of this house rule is that they can never be happy. This rule, in fact, requires them to be angry at anyone who has the audacity to try to make them happy. Such efforts are doomed in advance to fail, and these individuals will hold the would-be pleaser in contempt for trying.
The hypercritical individual feels threatened by happiness. True happiness would undermine the basis of his existence. It would prove to him that his attitudes and convictions about life have been wrong. He would rather be miserable and confirm his mistaken childhood attitudes than risk the loss of the only lifestyle he has known. He is the prisoner of his crabbiness.
These mistaken attitudes and expectations are absurd; they are also tragic. They effectively prevent the sufferer and his loved ones from enjoying the happiness that they work so long and hard to get. It is equally absurd to “fight” these attitudes without understanding the lifestyle that they serve and perpetuate.
Case Study: The World Isn’t Good Enough for Me”
Client: “My girlfriend said something to me the other day that got me thinking. She said, ‘You know, you’re awfully bitchy lately.’”
Therapist: “And was she right?”
Client: “Yes, she really was. My mother was bitchy all the time, and now I can see that I’m just like her. It’s like I can’t stop myself.”
Therapist: “Can you be more specific? What did you say that was so bitchy?”
Client: “For instance, I went into the bakery and the lady behind the counter said, “Gee, it’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” Without even thinking, I said, “I like it a little cooler. It’s too warm for me.” When I got out of there, it hit me. I realized that it was bitchy of me to complain about the weather, she was just trying to be friendly, and I shot her down. I’ve been doing that all my life without knowing it. I’m just like my mother, and I don’t know how to stop.”
Therapist: “Bitchiness doesn’t sound like much of a problem at first, but it can be very serious. It can keep you from enjoying life. It can keep you from having gratifying relationships. People don’t want to associate with someone who complains all the time. So we wind up all alone, and then bitch about how badly we are treated.”
Client: “And we don’t realize that we have brought it on ourselves. It’s true. I don’t like people who complain to me, but I’m doing the same thing as they are. How can I stop?”
Therapist: “As I said, your problem is serious, and it is very complex. It has many facets. Each one has to be identified and replaced with more realistic and appropriate convictions. One facet of your problem is that, like most daughters, you are an ‘obedient child.’ You are obeying the unhappy example that your mother set before you. As much as you would like to rebel against her, you continue to follow in her footsteps. You must give yourself permission to ‘disobey’ your mother and resist the temptation to complain.”
Client: “That’s hard to do.”
Therapist: “I know it is, but grownups do what is difficult. It is worth the effort. But there’s more. When someone tries to be friendly and make you happy, you feel compelled to shoot her down. It is though you don’t deserve the friendship or the happiness.”
Client: “That’s because I feel worthless, isn’t it?”
Therapist: “That’s right. In addition, you feel inadequate to cope with the tasks and responsibilities of adult friendship. You have to nip it in the bud so that your supposed inadequacies won’t be revealed later on.”
Client: “That’s my fear of failure, and my insecurity coming out. Is there more?”
Therapist: “We’ve only just begun. Another facet is your conviction that happiness is only temporary and ends in disaster later on.”
Client: “Now that’s my allergy to happiness. All that from bitching?”
Therapist: “The next facet is the confirmation of your prophecies of disaster. When you drive people away from you with your bitching, you can say, ‘I told you so. I knew they wouldn’t stick around for long.’ It gives you something else to bitch about.’ “
Client: “Well, isn’t it true?”
“If you work at it hard enough, you can make it come true. But, there is one last facet of your bitching that we have to understand before we can stop it. From what you tell me about your mother, I get the impression that she thought the world wasn’t good enough for her.”
Client: “That’s true. She didn’t like anything. She never had anything good to say. But why is that so serious?”
Therapist: “It becomes very serious when an individual appoints herself to stand in judgment on the world and find it wanting. Not only does the world fail to live up to her high standards and expectations, but it is her responsibility to point out the world’s deficiencies at every opportunity.”
Client: “That becomes a full-time job.”
Therapist: “It’s a very heavy, unfulfilling responsibility, but one that she could not put down.”
Client: “Why couldn’t she?”
Therapist: “Because nobody ever told her that she could. And because she used this phony, self-appointed, super-responsibility to exempt herself from the more mundane tasks of life at which there was a chance that she might fail.”
Client: “Such as.”
Therapist: “Such as being an adequate mother to her daughter.”
Therapist: “A third reason was that she did not know what would replace this supercritical lifestyle if she were to give it up. It was the only role she had, and it was better than nothing. Fourth, she used this behavior to overcompensate for her own feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy to cope with the real responsibilities of the adult world.”
Client: “How so?”
Therapist: “She appointed herself to the role of judging the world and its people and condemning them for their failure to live up to her high expectations. She was setting herself above her fellow human beings. This phony superiority was her way of relieving the pain of her underlying convictions of inferiority and worthlessness.”
Client: “That’s right. Who was she to criticize everybody else? She was no better than the neighbors that she ran down all the time. I can see that I have been behaving the same way, and for the same reasons. How can I stop it now? What is my Homework?”
Therapist: “Your Homework is to catch yourself behaving as if the world weren’t good enough for you and cut it out. Instead, I want you to decide that the world is good enough for you after all, which it is.”
Client: “I can see how absurd it is for me not to accept the world as it is. Who am I to complain that the world isn’t good enough for me.”
This mistaken conviction perpetuates our self-contempt. If we have contempt for the world we live in, it world rubs off on us. We are no better than the world no matter how badly we try to elevate ourselves above our fellow members of the human race. The antidote to this attitude is that the world is good enough as it is. It can always be better; it will never be perfect, but it is good enough for us in the meantime.
Client: “I can see complaining and criticizing isn’t the way to make the world a better place anyway. It only turns people off and makes things worse.”
Therapist: “Your mother’s ambition to teach the world the error of its way comes under the heading of ‘good intentions.’ She deceived herself into thinking that she knew what would make things better when the truth was that she knew nothing of the kind. Her good intentions were, as usual, self-indulgent and counterproductive. She was trying to make herself feel superior with her self-appointed role as judge and jury. She only made things worse with her continual carping.”
Client: “I guess there’s no such thing as constructive bitching.”
Therapist: “It’s a contradiction in terms. Can you catch yourself about to say something that you imagine will improve the hell out of someone and decide not to?”
Client: “It’s so tempting.”
Therapist: “Can you resist the temptation? You do not have to build yourself up by tearing the world down. The world is good enough as it is, and so are you.”
Holly did her Homework. She caught herself about to criticize her mother for being so critical! This would have been madness compounded. She chose to do the unexpected. She did not fight and she did not give in to her mother’s absurd terms. She took the third course, to live on her own valid terms. She said, “It must be awful for you, Ma.” It was not said sarcastically, it was the truth. Life is awful for people who cannot even have the hope of happiness because of their inappropriate attitudes. Mother’s tone of voice changed, it softened, she came down from her fictitious perch and began to talk like an equal member of the human race. They had a civil conversation for the first time in Holly’s memory.
Therapist: “How did you feel after you said that to your mother? Did you feel guilty, out of control?”
Client: “No. I felt great, like I had just made something happen on my own terms.”
Therapist: “Is that called accomplishment? Success?”
Therapist: “Can you do it again?”
Client: “Yes, I can.”
Therapist: “What’s that feeling called?”
Therapist: “Who gave you that confidence?”
Client: “I did.”
Therapist: “That’s a feeling of identity, maturity. What happened to your dependency? Were you rebelling?”
Client: “No. I was just equal.”
Therapist: “Did you feel independent?”
Client: “Yes, I wasn’t dependent on her any more. I wasn’t trying to make her into a mommy any more. I don’t need a mommy, I need a grown up member of the human race that I can cooperate with as one woman to another. No more games, no more mischief.”
Therapist: “How has she been since?”
Client: “It’s been holding. She’s been treating me like a regular person ever since I disengaged from her mischief. And she doesn’t even know what I did.”
Therapist: “And we’re not going to tell her.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Malcolm is a Pleasing Child. He has been pleasing since he was 4. He is now 42 going on 5. He has a lifestyle which appears to be dedicated to the pleasing of others. Beneath this facade there lies a darker reality. As a Pleaser, Malcolm doubts his worth as a person. He deems himself unworthy of being pleased. He sacrifices self-pleasing in favor of pleasing others who are worthier than himself. The Pleaser’s Lifestyle is one long good intention for others. He means well, but he doesn’t do well. He does not do what reality requires, he does what he requires in order to overcompensate for his self-contempt.
We say to ourselves, “He’s just doing that to get approval.” We content ourselves with this surface explanation, and we fail to ask the next obvious question: “Why does he need so much approval in the first place? Why isn’t he cured of this need when he gets it?” The answer is that the Pleaser is trying to solve a problem within himself that he doesn’t know how to solve. His solution cannot work. It does not relieve the pain of his self-contempt. Pleasing is the only trick he knows. He has to keep doing it.
As with most good intentions, pleasing behavior seems positive, but it is not. The Pleaser’s true goal is not to make people happy, it is to keep from displeasing them so that they will not beat him up after school. His sense of himself is so thin that a mere look of disdain is enough to unravel his fragile composure. A “dissatisfied customer” constitutes a threat to his existence. To displease is to court annihilation and that is unacceptable. His true purpose, then, is not positive, it is negative; it is the prevention of the bad things that happen to those who fail to be sufficiently pleasing. He doesn’t care about you, he cares about himself!
The Pleaser deceives himself into thinking that he is only being considerate of his fellow human beings by bringing a ray of sunshine into their lives. He has good intentions for others, without realizing that his good intentions are self-indulgent, counter-productive and ultimately self-destructive.
The Pleaser lacks the adult judgment that it takes to discriminate between appropriate pleasing and over-compensatory, inappropriate pleasing. He solves the problem by being pleasing all the time. It is hard work, but for him it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The Pleasing Lifestyle is a carryover of a childhood role into adulthood where it is inappropriate and counter-productive. Pleasers are afraid to give up this role because they do not know what will take its place. To them, this negative, paper thin role is better than no role at all. They do not realize that there is a more gratifying way to go through life than living to please others.
As a consequence of this ungratifying lifestyle, Pleasers are susceptible to feeling impotent, out of control, alienated, insecure, naive, trapped, immature, anxious, and depressed. These are all facets of self-contempt. The harder they try to relieve their distress in counter-productive ways, the worse they feel.
The Pleaser often plays the role of the Clown, the Entertainer. He makes himself the butt of his own jokes to show he “can take it.” People may wonder why he is “on” all the time. They think he’s having a swell time. He doesn’t really have any choice. He feels compelled to behave in accordance with his definition of himself as the Pleaser and his attitudes towards himself, other people and life. He is acting out a role in a script that nobody wrote.
As we have seen, Pleasers are not motivated by a genuine concern for the happiness of others. They have an ulterior motive, a hidden agenda of which they are only dimly aware. Their negative purpose in pleasing is to avoid being hurt by others. They prophesy victimization and disaster, and they feel that they can avert these disasters by placating those who have the power to hurt them. It’s the only hope they have. Unfortunately, these counter-productive attempts at pleasing often result in the fulfillment of their prophesies of abuse, rejection, abandonment and other forms of disaster. In the end, they stop trying. They “melt down,” they “burn out.” They have become discouraged.
Some Pleasers think that they can regain their vitality by going to the other extreme. Their motto becomes, “No More Mister Nice Guy.” The irony is that they weren’t a nice guy to begin with. The second wrong is that this phony role won’t work either.
Pleasing as Self-Indulgent Mischief: The Pleaser is convinced that his activities are other-directed and self-less. He is completely unaware of the self-indulgent, over-compensatory nature of his “pleasing” behavior.
The self-serving nature of the Pleaser’s activities becomes apparent when he is prevented from pleasing people his way. When the intended Pleased expresses a preference of his own, the would-be Pleaser experiences unpleasant, sometimes incapacitating conflicts On the one hand, he wants to please in order to avoid the unacceptable consequences of displeasing. On the other hand, he has his own notions as to how the Pleaser should be pleased; and his way is the right way! Thirdly, he dares not express his reservations openly for fear of displeasing his customer, and ruining the whole effect.
He must suppress his anger for fear of rejection or abandonment, which would invalidate his own worth as a person still further. He “solves” his dilemma by complying with the Pleasee’s request, but under silent protest. He does not perceive himself as “giving,” or as cooperating with his fellow human being. To the self-centered Pleaser, this accommodation is perceived as “submission’ to the “unreasonable” whims of his partner.
Mike is a Pleaser, too. He feels that he “knows” how people should be pleased; in fact, he knows how to please them even better than they know themselves! He knows what’s best for them. Since he does not experience himself as valid in his own right, he cannot appreciate the validity of his wife’s legitimate preferences. He discounts Marge’s preferences as “wrongheaded.” His preferences are right, and they are worthy to prevail.
Mike cannot stand to be wrong. He has to be right, even perfectly right. His agenda has nothing to do with his wife’s preferences in the real world. His agenda is to be right and not wrong. In his experience, wrongness is punished, and he has been avoiding wrongness all his life. When he says, “It’s the principle of the thing” to justify his nonsensical insistence, we say that he is just being stubborn. But why is he stubborn? What difference does it make whether they go to his movie pick or hers? The difference is that her pick is the “wrong” one because it isn’t his. His worth as a person is now at stake. If he is wrong, he will take it very personally, as if it were a reflection on his taste in movies. He would lose his shaky self-respect. His stubbornness is his way of maintaining his hidden agenda, which is preventing the invalidation of his worth as a person.
Antidotes To Pleasingness
A. His wife can try saying to him in a firm tone, “Mike, it would make me so happy to go see a movie. Won’t you do it for me?” This ploy distracts him from the phony issue of comparative film judgment. He may see an advantage to himself in making his wife happy for one evening.
B. Or, Mike’s wife might say, “It makes me angry when we always have to do things your way, whether it makes any sense or not. Now, you can go to your movie and I’ll go to mine and I’ll meet you at Barneys for a hot dog afterward.” This approach uses the wife’s legitimate anger to shock Mike out of his childish striving for superiority at her expense. It dispenses with the issue of which movie is “righter” than the other. Often, when Mike comes out of his shock, he goes to the movie with his wife because that wasn’t the issue anyway.
Gilda is a professional Pleaser. She wants to win both ways. She wants to relieve her own distress, and she wants a pat on the back from us for doing it. But because her misguided efforts are usually inappropriate and unrealistic, she very often fails to receive the recognition and approval that she requires to validate her shaky personhood. Instead, she often finds herself excluded from get-togethers, scorned by the very people she tries so hard to please.
She spends much of her life despising the ungrateful wretches upon whom she has had the misfortune to expend her energies and efforts. She finds her relationships to be a succession of such ungrateful wretches, one after the other. She has contempt for them and for the whole human race. But this contempt does not deter her from starting all over again when a new Pleasee moves into the building.
Not only is Gilda angry at the failure of her beneficiaries to recognize and appreciate her “goodness,” she is angry at herself. She is the “stupid” one for doing it over and over. She should “know better” by now. But she doesn’t. Since everything is her responsibility, her unhappiness must be “her fault” in the end. Since her goodness was unappreciated, she feels that it was all for nothing too. She feels worthless, angry at herself, and this anger turns into depression. Instead of relieving the pain of her self-contempt, her counter-productive, self-indulgent pleasing has only made it worse.
If you have been married for any length of time, it is likely that there have been times when passion and adventure waned. Routine and survival becomes the focus. It is also very likely that throughout the course of a marriage, the passion, adventure, and even the sex becomes routine and mechanical.
It is during these times that one or both spouses may begin to wonder what else they are missing. The eyes begin to wander. Conversation with a coworker or friend of the opposite sex may get too personal or slightly cross the line into the inappropriate. If this lingering around the line continues, an affair is likely to occur. While this affair may not be sexual or even physical, emotional affairs can still be devastating to a marriage.
Since an affair is often not really about the “other person” or even the sex but more about the adventure and the risk, what if you had an affair with your spouse? Add some risk and adventure to your relationship. Spice things up. Role play a bit. If there are two willing participants, go for it.
Feel free to take some liberty with this process in order to adapt it to your situation, and this should go without saying, but this is intended to be used with your spouse, not someone else.
The best way to start this affair is online. Send an email to your lover from a private email account. These can be created through yahoo or hotmail or many other services. Encourage your lover to create their own account as well, to be used exclusively for this relationship. Address the email to a pseudonym for your spouse. The initial email should be inviting and suggestive, but don’t move too quickly.
Part of the adventure and excitement is the wooing and enticing of your lover.
After the conversations have enticed and aroused the adventurous side of you and your spouse, an inconspicuous meeting for drinks or lunch would be arranged. This should occur during the day, either during lunch or when you can slip away from your job to meet your adventurer over coffee. The important thing is that you will meet with your lover and then return to your day. It is also important to keep a low profile with these meetings. Even though you are doing nothing wrong, in the spirit of the adventure, try to avoid being caught.
As the tryst continues to progress, be sure to keep the emails and the casual meetings coming. This will help in blending the affair into the marriage later.
As for the rest of the process, use your imagination and creativity. Here are a few ideas in order to keep adventure part of the process.
1.Never meet your lover for “affair sex” at your home. Part of the adventure is finding other places to hook up.
2.Agree to not discuss this part of the relationship at home.
3.Try to set up a regular schedule of “dates” with your lover.
4.Do what you can to meet your lover out of town once in a while.
5.Do not discuss your affair with anyone. At least until you and your spouse have incorporated the affair relationship into the marriage.
Enjoy the adventure. However, keep in mind that you will need to blend this part of your relationship back into your marriage.
First, when the affair has gone on for a while, have a discussion with your lover about their experience during this adventure and share yours. These feelings and thoughts can be incorporated into the marriage going forward. Have this discussion over dinner during a night out marking the end of the affair and the beginning of a newly designed marriage.
Second, this process most likely awakened some passion and adventure within yourself and your spouse. Find ways to keep this growing in you. Feel free to express these passions and adventurous thoughts in the marriage. This will allow for longer lasting passion.
And third, remember that you and your spouse are also lovers. Not just parents, employees/employers, housekeepers, landscapers, chauffeurs, roommates, cooks, and friends.
Marriage is the best place to be yourself, and also the riskiest. Go on, take the risk. You both may enjoy it!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The simple fact is that for many while there are children in the home, the marriage relationship often seems to be thrown to the background. The schedule revolves around feedings, changing, bedtime, bath time, homework, and on it goes. It is inevitable that just when you think the kids are asleep, and you make a move with your spouse, the baby starts crying or your other child ends up standing at the foot of the bed. Passion wanes. Time for adventure disappears. It is, however, possible to capture time with your spouse before passion fades. Here are a few ideas:
1. Establish a schedule. This is not only great for the kids and their development; it also helps create time for each other. This could be done as simply as scheduling a weekly dinner or lunch date. A coffee break together. Or a regular sexual encounter together (scheduling this does not lessen the passion and heat despite the lack of spontaneity; you can be spontaneous during the encounter). By having something scheduled, you create room for anticipation.
2. Utilize babysitters or family members. There are many very capable teenagers out there interested in earning a little bit of money while you take your spouse out for the evening. The beauty of this option is the kids get someone new to play and interact with, while you get a break together. Be sure to plan out the evening away in order to ensure you don’t return home until after the kids are in bed asleep. That way, if the date has gone well, there will be the possibility of being invited in for an uninterrupted “nightcap.” To create a greater flow towards the end of the date, look for a babysitter that either drives or can get to and from your home easily. An even better option is to utilize family members that live nearby. It is amazing to me the number of couples I have met that have not had their kids stay over night with family members or friends. Not only do you and your spouse benefit from this time, your kids do as well. They experience an expanded range of people who love and care for them. This can set a foundation for greater self-confidence and growth as they develop. It also begins to create a village mindset in the raising of your children. The best thing about the family option is the likelihood that the kids would be out of the house the whole night.
3. Secret signals or code words. It is often difficult to have conversations that may lead to deeper more intimate connections when you are interrupted every five minutes by one kid tattling on the other or needing something from you for their homework or wardrobe. This can be overcome by creating another language or codes to use with each other. This language or code should be based on whatever you would be saying to each other if given the opportunity. If this type of language is not part of your normal dialogue, then it would need to be created all together. It could be as simple as lighting a candle that is centrally located in the home as a signal one of the parties is interested in an encounter. Whether the encounter is sexual or emotional is up to you. Or it could be as complex as learning a second language. How great of a motivation would it be if you were trying to woo your spouse in another language? And if your kids begin to understand the language, they would only discover more about the love and desire you have for your spouse. There are far worse things they probably already know about you.
4. Be a lover to your kid’s other parent. As your kids grow older, there is nothing wrong with informing them of your plans to be alone with your spouse. You don’t have to give all the details, but claim the time you want to spend with your spouse and let the kids know they are not invited to join or interrupt. When your spouse and the marriage are a priority, the kids benefit. In fact, research is now showing that when the marriage is the focus rather than the kids, it is better for the family. I have always believed that the best thing you can do for your kids is to love your spouse. Let them also appropriately see you love them as well. Hold hands, talk, hug, kiss, sit by each other, and cuddle in front of your kids. They may be jealous that they aren’t getting the attention, but in time, they’ll be glad you paved the way for their relationships.
Kids in the home present some obstacles to passion in marriage, but they aren’t the only reason passion wanes. By overcoming the hurdles of kids, you are faced with what else may be going on in the marriage. The kids can provide a buffer for a stale marriage. If that’s the case, more work will need to be done individually and relationally to address the other concerns. Marriage is work. But the things in life that require work are more valuable and more worth it.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
he other day I was approached by an acquaintance who was offering me a great opportunity to be a part of a great organization where a lot of money could be made with very little work. He got my name in passing and was good at following up leads. During his call to schedule a time to meet and discuss this opportunity further, I found myself in a dilemma. While this may indeed be a good option to explore further and the guy offering this was a new acquaintance, there was no way I was going to add anything more to my schedule, especially another job. So what to do?
A little into the call I simply told him “no”. I was not interested in adding anything more to my life. A few years ago I would have gone into even more of an explanation and justification of my answer in hopes to not hurt his feelings or our relationship. But I have discovered that the art of saying “no” is often enough in itself. No explanation is usually needed unless it is requested and the relationship is higher on the importance list.
Saying “no” is easy when it is a telephone solicitor or via email. As the degree of contact and the importance of the person rises, saying “no” is more difficult. However, it is important to be able to tell even the important people in life “no” if you hope to have more authority and power over your life. Being able to take charge of your life may mean that everything and everyone will not fit into your dreams and goals. It’s time to face the fact that some things and people are energy drainers. You dread the conversations with them when you meet in the hall at work. You see their name on the caller ID and your insides tighten, but you still answer the phone (even though your voicemail works fine).
Let’s begin to employ the art of saying “no” more frequently. For some of you that may mean this week you only tell two people “no”. Which would double your normal rate. Start small and work your way up. This week, when faced with something you really don’t want to do, say so. When given the wrong order at the restaurant, speak up. This is an easy way to learn how to say “no” which will increase the likelihood that you will be able to say it to more people, even those towards the top of the importance list.
Saying “no” allows you to stay on target with your values and goals. I do not recommend saying “no” just for the sake of saying “no”. Say it to take charge of your time. To take charge of your family. Your marriage. Your job. Your recreation. And say “no” without a long drawn out explanation, which often turns into excuses. Say “no” confidently. It will empower your spirit and your life!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Every person seeks happiness. You hear it all the time. “I just want to be happy.” “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This last phrase points out an important aspect, the pursuit of happiness. There is no guarantee that it can be obtained. One of the common things I see is people spending most every waking moment seeking happiness. As if it is something out there to be gained or discovered. Perhaps this is a major contributor to the status of society.
Watch television for more than five minutes and you will see this idea confirmed. If I can only get the car, house, boat, job, relationship, salary increase; then life will be complete. I will lack nothing, at least until the next can’t-do-without product is available for purchase. The average adult now has more than 4 different careers in their lifetime. My father-in-law had one job from the time he was a teenager until retirement. Forty-two years at the same job. That’s almost unheard of now. It seems our society is more into the thought that if this job won’t bring about happiness, the next one will. If this relationship doesn’t bring about happiness, then a relationship with him or her will. If life in this tax bracket isn’t satisfying, then the next bracket up will be. It’s the same story over and over. Something out there will complete my life. It will fill the void.
What if the key to happiness rests internally? What if happiness can be learned?
This starts with the idea that happiness is up to me. My perspective of things will influence the results. My expectations affect the outcome.
So what is it about my life that brings me happiness? If I change my outlook from happiness being something out there to it resting internally, ask this; what am I grateful for in my life? What are my successes or wins lately? When I focus too much on what else is out there, I neglect the things we currently possess. Going to the other extreme is also unhealthy. Spending too much time focusing on what used to be produces blurred vision about what is.
Focusing too much on the future or too much on the past, I will miss a lot of what is going on now. I think I have told every one of my clients at some point to slow down. We live life at a fast enough speed as it is. Sometimes speed only produces uncertainty. Did you realize that of all the species on the planet, humans are the only ones that when lost, speed up. All other animals will slow down or even sit down until they get their bearings before proceeding. Do you know where you really want to go? What is your vision for life?
If you have trouble answering the preceding questions, that’s where you should spend some time reflecting and searching. Take an inventory of your current life. What are the things that you enjoy? What are the things that drain you? Enjoy the things going on in life right now. Happiness can be learned, and it starts with what’s going on inside you now. Happiness is not something out there, its inside. Resting deep within your soul waiting to be tapped into. By slowing down and seeking what you really want, life will begin to be more aligned and then more full.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
While driving down the highway in the fast lane, the person in front of you appears to have no idea what the fast lane means. After running all over town with the kids, you arrive home. They know they have rooms yet insist that the entire house is their closet and drop things wherever they please. It’s your birthday and your best friend gets you just what you needed, nothing. It seems that in these instances, the first reaction is to take things personally. As if what was done was intentional, a personal attack.
As odd as it sounds, we often think that there are many forces against us and we are innocent bystanders. I don’t agree. While there are some truly random events, much of what happens is our own doing. How we feel and react to the things going on around us will largely determine what happens to us. In the preceding examples, what makes us think that the things that happen to us are directed at us? Instead of reacting with a “How dare you!” we often react with a “How dare you do this to me!” The truth of the matter is that each person is really more concerned about themselves than they are others. It’s survival of the fittest. The person driving slow in front of me in traffic is more concerned about having a wide open lane ahead of them than they are with me getting past.
A lot of our life is spent worrying about what others may think or feel about us. To paraphrase Dr. Phil, we wouldn’t worry near as much about what others thought about us if we knew how seldom they did. When we are emotionally reactive to things in life, we give up our power to choose. If we take things personally, whether intended personally or not, our reaction intensifies. All of the sudden we have to defend ourselves, though many times a response is not warranted. Instead it would be better if we could learn the art of self-soothing. To be able to calm ourselves in the midst of emotional reactions opens a whole new range of responses.
We all have this ability. We are born with it. Just the other day, my 2 year old was climbing up on a toy in the house for the first time. As I watched her, she had a moment of pause just before she stood up tall and proud. In that moment of pause, she gathered herself and found the internal courage to stand. We do the same thing just before we honestly speak our mind, or address an issue with our spouse or kids. Self-soothing can be enhanced and used in all situations. And doing so gives you much more power over life’s circumstances.
To put this another way; you teach people how to treat you. If you feel that many people treat you wrong or take advantage of you, it only happens because you let them. Learning how to self-sooth, then stand up will produce a different outcome. This in turn will change the way others treat you. If you demand respect, trust, love, honor, comfort, or whatever, accept nothing less. Whenever you receive less than you expect, rather than taking it personally and reacting as such, calm yourself and address the issue. Either put yourself in their shoes and see it from their perspective or stand up and be honest, or both. If this honesty comes from both your mind and heart, it carries much more weight than just emotional reactivity.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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