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How to Survive in an Introvert-Extrovert Relationship.

Can two people who’s needs are very different survive and even thrive in a relationship? Introvert and Extrovert qualities are not about world views, goals or family history, it is not something that we choose but a quality we are born with. So in a relationship it is about what makes a person feel comfortable and satisfied. This is important to remember because you can’t convince an introvert through argument or persuasion that your way is better. Persuasion is not the point. The goal is to understand each other and discover together solutions that can work for each of you.

So I think the first step is to listen well. To find out what each partner needs that will allow them to feel comfortable and not anxious. Not all introverts and extroverts are the same. There are varying degrees of what each person might need so if you can be curious about each other and not be judgmental then that opens the dialogue to gain understanding.

It is helpful to ask specific questions so you can understand what each of you wants. Does the introvert want to avoid all parties and gatherings or is it just very large parties? Is a small dinner party okay? Would they be fine if the extrovert went to the party without them? Does the extrovert want to meet with others after work or is it just on the weekends? Is it enough to just be around other people for example going to a museum or the zoo, or does the extrovert want to interact with others? Asking specifics helps to get clarity. 

Being respectful of each other and what they need is also important. One does not always have to give in to the other. One way is not better or more healthy than the other. No one has to give up their rights, what needs to happen is to find a solution that can be a win-win for both of you. 

Having these challenging conversations can feel awkward and one or both of you may want to avoid the topic but this is only going to lead to resentment and frustration. Avoiding a problem is not the answer so jump in and trust it will be worth it. The reason why many of us avoid talking about difficult topics is because in the past it has not gone well. So learning to listen, be respectful and showing care for the unique needs of each person will lead to a solution. 

If one or both of you continues to refuse to address this topic or is unable to discuss it without judgement, contempt, defensiveness or anger then the problem is not just that you have very different introvert-extrovert needs, it is a relationship issue. When your partner has a need and you can not address it without tension then there are probably other topics that are off limits or result in arguments. So learning to communicate with each other without this tension needs to be addressed. 

In a relationship with an introvert and an extrovert I believe with understanding and care that solutions to specific concerns can be resolved. Being different in this way is not a relationship deal breaker. It is simply a challenge that can be addressed and a solution can be worked out.

Be patient with each other, you are on the same team. If you are struggling, I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions! 

Give us a call at (562) 537-2947. 

Written by Lisa Strong

Tips To Finding A Solution Without A Fight.

When couple face a disagreement all they can see are the two opposing choices. For example, Paul wants to spend money on a luxury vacation in Hawaii, for just he and Jena. She wants to go camping with the kids in the mountains and save the extra money for remodeling the bathroom. All they see is the differences and they make assumptions about the other’s intentions or reasoning. This leaves them stuck in conflict and anger and they are only looking at the tip of the iceberg. 

Both Paul and Jena have made judgements and assumptions about their partners intentions. These assumptions are created in their own heads and are probably false. They are based on little information and end up making the other person defensive. Because of these assumptions they listen selectively and only hear evidence that supports their belief.

In order to facilitate a shift we need to let go of our judgement and try to explore the other persons choice. At this step each person needs to listen with openness, to put aside judgement and their own interpretations and rebuttals. Not an easy thing to do. 

After gathering information about what each persons idea is truly about, then it is helpful to go deeper into the feelings behind their choice. This can be uncomfortable for some of us who want to jump to a solution, but unless your partner feels that their feelings are heard and understood they are not likely to listen to the solution. So at this point learning what feelings motivated their choice will move you forward. You may learn that what was assumed about the others needs and intentions was false and come to a better understanding of your partners underlying intentions and desires.

In understanding your partners true intentions and reasoning it is then helpful to empathize with them. This does not mean that you are in agreement with their choice but it does help you connect with them, see things from the other persons vantage point and feel what they feel. If you can share this new understanding with your partner you will be closer to finding a solution that brings you together. This also lowers defensiveness and allows each of you to open up to new ideas.

So now you have a better understanding of what is on the table. At this point it is not just a choice between the two original choices but it is time to brainstorm other solutions and ideas that may be a win-win solution for both of you. During brainstorming though each person needs to remain open and non-judgmental about the new ideas. Avoiding sabotaging new solutions, this is a time of creating ideas that are possibilities, not finding the solution yet. This is not a time to persuade each other to your side, it is a time to be creative and listen well to new possibilities. 

After many possibilities are on the table you are ready to pick a solution and one strategy to choosing which solution is best is to play the “Flash Forward Game” suggested by Shirzad Chamine author of Positive Intelligence. This requires each of you to think of your self at the end of __________. At the end of your life, at the end of the year, at the end of the kids’ time at home? Looking back, how do you wish you had conducted yourself? This helps narrow and prioritize your choices. 

This is not an easy process and it does take a great deal of self awareness and control. It is easy to fall into judgement, avoidance, defensiveness, anger or frustration. It helps to remind yourselves that if you work together you will be able to find a solutions that will please each of you. Be patient with each other, you are on the same team. If you are struggling, I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions! 

Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Strong

What Your Teen and Child Needs From You During Pandemic

Are you concerned about your child or teenager during this time of social distancing? I am sure you are and I want to offer some support. As a child grows there is a need to assert their autonomy, to become independent of their parents. This is a good thing and as their parent it is your job to help them transition into an independent functioning adult. But now, during this time of Covid-19 your family may be challenged by extreme inter-dependence. Families have been thrown together 24/7 and it may not be going well for you. Children no longer can get away, they don’t go to school, they can’t visit friends, they can’t play sports or other extra curricular activities. Instead they are stuck at home with parents who may be stressed, fearful, and challenged in their own ways. Parents face new work demands, financial stresses and a complete change of routine. 

How can families manage this challenge and continue to be sensitive to a child’s need for a growing independence? How do we care for young people whose wings have been clipped? I have a few suggestions to consider.

Nurture the relationship. 

As the parent it is easy to focus on your role as the one who sets the rules and keeps things running but don’t forget that parenting is not only about the managing aspect but it is about a relationship and you don’t want to loose sight of this. I suggest making time for one-on-one interaction with each of your children. It makes your child feel secure and important. Listen to them, offer empathy, your child has a right to be sad, angry and frustrated about their losses. Make space for the disappointments. Kids are giving up a lot. School is not only about lessons and learning, it is about social interaction, fun and activities. Kids may feel like what is left is the vegetables with none of the dessert.but there also may feel some relief or even joy because they can avoid some challenges that  they were facing at school. A hard group project, peer pressure, or awkward and embarrassing social interactions. Don’t shame them for feeling this relief. Recognize that for them there may be an upside of the disruption as well. Whatever it is that they are feeling, you want to give them time and let them know you care and you’re listening. 

Recognize comparison. 

You may be requiring social distancing while other parents are still allowing their kids to hang out as usual. Talk to your child about this discrepancy, you could say, “I know that other parents are still having kids over, but we can’t support that choice, we want to support what the experts are recommending.” Tell them that when they have to turn down an invite that they are fee to blame you, the parents. When your teenager can’t see their friends in person, it seems only fair to loosen the rules on how much time they spend connecting online. But all bets aren’t off. There still needs to be clear guidelines so that other concerns are considered like school assignments, physical activity, sleep, and face-to-face interactions.

Treat Teenagers as Problem-Solving Partners

Don’t hesitate to recruit teenagers’ help. Instead of presenting them with a suggested daily program, Talk to them about what you see as important and then ask for their input as well. Once you each share your concerns then negotiate with your teen and show them that you are considering their needs as well. When doing this remember to be realistic and keep it positive. Being realistic involves looking at your child as an individual and knowing what they are capable of. If they are not a reader then it would be unrealistic for them to read a book quietly in their room for an hour each day. Think about who they are.

Allow Privacy and Time Alone

Teenagers are going to need some privacy and alone time. Don’t take it personally if your teenager wants to close themselves off in their room for some time. While you are free to request or require your teenager’s presence, think about approaching your teenager with an extra measure of consideration when making requests. For example, saying, “We’re going to need you to supervise your sister for a couple of hours, but we know that you have plans too. How should we do this?” might be a good place to start.

It is a lot to handle right now and these are challenges that none of us could have predicted. Let us know at Save My Family Today if we can help.

Written by Lisa Strong

Understanding Feelings of Guilt, Shame and Regret

We all make mistakes and no one is perfect but when something goes wrong, someone gets hurt or there is a missed opportunity and things don’t go as planned than how do you feel about that and how do you react? Do you feel guilt, shame or regret? These three terms can be confusing. Identifying how we feel and how we choose to move forward is important. Let’s look at the definitions;

Guilt is feeling bad about something you have done, a sense of legitimate condemnation in response to your own behavior. When you hurt someone else then guilt is a natural result. This feeling of guilt can be so uncomfortable that it motivates you to make things right if you can. To try to correct the hurt that you caused. You might apologize or accept responsibility. This is a healthy response to your guilt. A negative response to guilt would be to think about the action over and over, repeating it in your head and feeling worse each time. There is no correction only self condemnation. 

Shame is something different. It has more to do with how you see yourself, how you view your character.  It is less about the behavior. You have a negative evaluation of yourself, you may feel inadequate, flawed in some way or undeserving and this can result in depression and anxiety. You may withdraw from others or punish yourself in someway. This can lead to many harmful behaviors including feeling so bad about who you are that you no longer want to live. This feeling of shame often comes from a childhood where you were either outright told that you were bad and unworthy or you were made to feel this way by how you were treated.

The last term that is often confusing is regret. Regret means feeling bad about something that has happened but there is no moral judgement of right or wrong. Something happened and we just wish it had gone another way. We say “if only…”. We can look at what happened and learn from it and try to correct the outcome so it won’t happen in the future. Therefore, regret can again motivate us to learn from our behavior and make better choices in the future. 

Identifying what you are feeling is the first step. There is no reason to say you feel guilt when you haven’t done anything wrong. You may really be feeling sad or frustrated. Don’t give into feelings of shame when they are caused by your own false beliefs. Instead, choose compassion towards yourself and others. And there is no benefit in obsessively feeling regret when we can’t change the past. We can only choose to move forward with healthy behaviors. 

Understanding what you are feeling and why will help you change and choose behaviors that benefit you and your relationships. Don’t allow these feeling to block you from moving forward and growing in understanding.

Written by Lisa Strong

If Your Partner Says There’s a Problem, What Should You Do?

If your partner comes to you with a problem or concern about the relationship, how do you respond? Maybe they are unhappy with you or something you are doing. Does it make you feel under pressure, defensive or frustrated. You can respond in many ways, some more productive than others. The typical fight, flight or freeze response can be seen in relationships but are not healthy choices. If your partner has a problem and wants to discuss it with you they would hope that you would listen to their concern and work with them to find a solution but that is not always the case.

The fight response results in anger, arguments and hurt feelings. This breaks down the emotional connection and the ability to be honest and vulnerable in the relationship. When your partner shares their concern they don’t want to then have to deal with you becoming angry and fighting with them. This only increases your stress level.

The flight response results in a feeling of abandonment. If when your partner shares their concern, you leave the room or slams the door and walks away tyou might feel safe because you have avoided the stress but they feel alone with their problem with no partner to stand with them and solve it together. 

The freeze response usually results in frustration. Again they share their concern which causes stress in you because you don’t want to hear that they are unhappy with you or something that you have done. You  may feel attacked and you don’t know how to respond so you just freeze or listen quietly, maybe even agreeing but in the long run nothing changes. There is not action taken. The problem remains which is frustrating.

There needs to be freedom and safety in your relationship to share a concern. One of the basic relationship needs is compassion which means that if your partner has a problem then you need to be concerned and want to help them. When they share their concern they want to know that you are listening, that you understand and that you are not being judgmental or dismissive. At his moment it is not about you, try to think of how they are feeling and how you can help. 

I know that this is not easy, your own insecurities surface, you want to defend your behavior but dismissing their concern and focusing on your own defense or stress level will not solve the problem. Try not to see it as a battle which involves you on one side and your partner on the other. Instead look at it as both of you on the same side, standing together to battle the thing that is causing the stress. You are united, working together to build a relationship that works for each of you. 

Communicating your concerns in a safe environment, listening to each other and avoiding the fight, flight or freeze response will build a healthy foundation for each of you. It takes practice and if you need help then give me a call at 562-260-4796. I would be happy to support you.

Written by Lisa Strong

4 Reasons Your Partner May Be Shutting Down Communication

How tragic it is when listening breaks down to the point where a person gives up trying to be heard! This can happen in a relationship after a period of time when that person has repeatedly tried to share their feelings or concern and never feels heard. Let’s look at what they may be experiencing and what the listener may be doing to send that message.

  1. The listener is more concerned with how they are going to respond than listening to understand what is said. They might assume they already know what is going to be said so they stop listening all together and mentally work on their response. This is a very selfish way to listen because it shows more concerned about making a point than understanding.
  2. The listener is judgmental so the person no longer shares their feelings about painful and difficult subjects because they are criticized. They feel like they have to defend themselves instead of feeling supported.
  3. The listener continually tries to solve the problem. But before someone is open to listening to a solution they need to know that they are being heard and if this step is skipped than they may not be open to a solution.
  4. The listener is focused on the details instead of the feelings. The listener may hear a fact that they believe is not accurate and so they feel the need to correct it, when really the facts are not the point and correcting facts just frustrates the person speaking.

Here are two simple tips to improve your listening.

  1. Showing genuine caring: Show attentiveness with eye contact, head nods and words of compassion. Also giving your undivided attention by putting the phone down or turning off the T.V. 
  2. Give brief summary statements once in a while as you listen: This assures the person that you’re hearing and comprehending his message. You can ask for clarification to make sure you do understand.

If we are talking about a marriage relationship or your significant other than that person should be held at a higher regard than others, they deserve this attention and it shows love and respect for them. Don’t let your partner shut down because they no longer feel like they are heard. Put your own needs and ideas aside and invest in the relationship. 

Written by Lisa Strong

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What Is Your Communication Style? What Makes You Feel Safe?

Do you feel safe when communicating with your spouse or friend? I don’t mean fear of physical harm. What I mean is that you may wonder, why am I feeling stressed right now, they don’t seem to be? It may be because you and that person have different communication styles. Drs Les and Leslie Parrot wrote about safety in communication and they identified 4 categories. 

The first one they labeled Time. Do you get stressed if you feel like your time is not being used well? I am one of these people and once I sense the conversation has slowed then I am ready to move on to the next thing. No use wasting time right? Well if you are not like this then you might be more comfortable with a slower pace, you like to just slow down and it takes you time to process as we are communicating. 

The second is called Approval. If this is you then you are influenced by emotions and feelings. If you sense that the person you are communicating with you is not approving of you then this is stressful. Some people really don’t care how you respond to what they are saying, they are more concerned with facts and information, not feelings. That may sound harsh but it is true. You also might use feelings to influence people, in your persuasion you include feeling words not just facts.

The third is Loyalty. This title is a little confusing to me but it has to do with a predictable routine. Does change and spontaneity cause you to be fearful or anxious? Are you resistant to change? When your friend or spouse drops a surprise change on you does this cause you to feel unsafe and it is hard to communicate at that time? You need a warning so I think the word loyalty is about being consistent and reliable this brings you safety.

The last is Quality. If this is you then you want to do things well and you have a process so when your process is interrupted then it causes you stress. For example if you were buying luggage do you need to shop around, test them out, check for discounts and possibly return it because you eventually found a better deal? Or do you just go to one store, see what you need and get it, job done? Well if you are the first type then you fit in this category, you are cautious, you need to be sure and if someone rushes you through this it causes you stress. 

It is good to consider these types of communication syles. Look at yourself, where do you fit. You may fit into more than one category. It is also good to consider where the other person fits because you don’t want to cause stress in them. So if your partner is in the Loyalty category then don’t spring things on them, give them advanced warning so they have time to process the new information and get comfortable. Or if you have to make a last minute change then show compassion for who they are, don’t get frustrated this only adds to their stress. 

Learning about your own communication needs and your partners can add to the understanding and compassion in the relationship. I hope this is useful. If you need more help and support please call 562-260-4796.

Written by Lisa Strong

How We Lose Respect Using Emotional Decision-Making

We want others to take us seriously, to show us respect and to listen to us. How can we make that happen? Why isn’t it happening? I think that when others see that we allow our emotions rather than our logic to make our decisions, this causes them to loose confidence in what we say. There needs to be a balance between emotions and logic.

I heard an example the other day of a husband who said that when his wife, after walking by a pet store window, makes an emotional suggestion like let’s get a puppy, he is not likely to take her seriously. But rather if she comes to him with a thought out plan and shows him she is aware of the changes a puppy will bring and how this will effect their lives together than he is more likely to listen. 

The point is that people are less likely to listen if they think that the emotion will pass and then the decision no longer seems like a good one. 

We have many emotions that can influence our decisions. For example, excitement can cause us to underestimate the risk involved. This can happen in financial decisions. Anxiety, embarrassment and sadness can also direct our choices. We may be anxious or depressed about something in our lives and this feeling causes us to be resistant to taking any risk at all. We may want to avoid embarrassment so we change our behavior to protect against this.

A very powerful emotion that we can all relate to is anger. We have all reacted in anger and then done something that hurts either ourselves or someone else. It would be better to take time to calm down and think things through before deciding on a plan of action.

When you communicate a concern or desire to someone they will respect your view if they think you are going to stick to it and if they know that you have thought it through

This is an important point, are you going to follow through? Can they count on you or are you only talking? When I know that the person making a suggestion is going to support their idea by taking action this also makes me respect them more. I can count on them to follow through, they are not only talk. 

Impulsive or emotional decision can affect our relationships, finances, health, career and how we use our time. 

We make the best decisions when we can achieve a balance between emotions and logic. When your emotions run too high, your logic will be low, which can lead to irrational decisions: and if you have a history of irrational decisions then others will not take you seriously or show you respect.

It is not easy to change patterns of behavior. If you need help and support, give us a call at 562-537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong

Is your relationship experiencing the holiday stress?

Is the holiday stress starting to crowd in on you and your spouse? I know that this time of the year brings some unique challenges. So what is so different about this month of December? Here are a few possibilities of what might be causing stress in your home.

  • You are not in agreement over how much should be spent on the holiday.
  • There are still the usual demands at work but now your schedule is extra busy with holiday festivities at school, church or with friends and family. Shopping takes time too. How do you fit it all in?
  • Pressure from family and friends. How can we make everyone happy including the in-laws, extended family, grandparents, kids and friends. Who do we celebrate with?
  • Different expectations, each of you were raised with unique holiday traditions. What do you do now?

These are just a few challenges that come up at this time. When you see your partner starting to stress out, what can you do? Well being quick to give advice is not the answer. According to Dr. Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,

“The cardinal rule when helping your partner de-stress is that understanding must precede advice. You have to let your partner know that you fully understand and empathize with the dilemma before you suggest a solution,”

Usually the responsibility of juggling gift giving and parties falls on the wife. I know this is a stereotype but let’s just go with it for discussion sake. If the husband starts with the advice then it can put the wife on the defense. She needs to know that he understands and agrees with her view before he can tell her what to do. This means being supportive. Give statements that show you get it.

Wives are not the only ones under stress, each of you need to be open to the other when they want to share what is stressing them out. If you see signs of your partners stress then come along side them, show support instead of judgement and let them know that you are a team together. The feeling of being alone in the stress is often what makes it worse.

Also you may need to discuss holiday expectations. Each of you should think about what is important to you. You can write down a few things that are at the top of your list for the holiday season. I don’t mean gifts but what makes the holiday special to you? Do you like to go as a family and pick out a live tree? Do you remember baking cookies or having a special meal? Do you have a family movie night or give gifts to children in need? Once you both share your ideas then work together to decide which you can make happen.

I want you to have the best holiday possible so make your relationship the priority and care for each other. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support or have questions for us!  We are always here to help. Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong

How Can You Get Your Relationship Out of the Rut?

How Can You Get Your Relationship Out of the Rut?

Sometimes we get in a rut, we get busy with life and we neglect our relationships. The fact is that a good relationship takes effort to achieve. You have to put some work in to get the results you want. If you are feeling like you are in a rut it probably means that you don’t know how to get out. Well I see two areas of concern, you and your partner. This may seem obvious but let me explain.

Start by looking at yourself, not at your partner, and thinking about what you need to do. If you don’t feel good about who you are or what you can offer then your partner will sense this. You want to strengthen yourself and this will strengthen your marriage.

Do you need to take better care of yourself or have a more balanced life? If you are grouchy or depressed then you will not make a good partner. Don’t point the finger at your partner, you are ultimately responsible for your own well being. What can you do to improve? Do you need to change jobs, change your schedule or change how you care for yourself? It’s not helpful to be resentful of something and stuff your feelings about it. You may think that is what you are supposed to do in order to keep the peace but I find it is more helpful to talk to your partner and explain how you feel and what you need. Then see if you can come to an arrangement that can be a win/win for each of you.

Taking care of yourself is important because if you don’t feel good about who you are then you will not convey a confidence and inner joy that is attractive to your partner. But maybe you can also change something that you know bothers your partner. Think about what you can do to make your partner happy. Do you continually walk by the kitchen trash when it is full instead of taking it out? If you continually do something that you know bothers them then that is not a way to show you care about them and their feelings. If you know your partner loves it when you make them a cup of coffee in the morning then why don’t you do that? It is a simple thing that can make your partner happy and feel cared for. They will take notice.

So taking care of your own needs can improve your relationship because you will be a happier person and therefore more attractive to your partner but you also need to be concerned about your partners needs and what makes them feel loved. This may seem like a tall order but if you can sit down and talk to your partner about this and they can see you want to improve the relationship so you both can be happier then your partner may want to support this idea.

If you need help with sharing your ideas and concerns with your partner or you need ideas of how to lift yourself out of the rut then give us a call. We would love to support you in improving your relationship.Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong