Jealousy

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As I think I’ve mentioned before, I love working with couples. I love the dynamics in loving relationships, and being a part of the healing that can take place in thoughtful communication. Most of my posts have a component of relationship dynamics in them, and I could probably write endlessly on the different dysfunctions I see.

Today I’m focused on jealousy in relationships. I find jealousy so polarizing because there are those who equate acts of jealousy with acts of love and those who abhor any hint of overprotective ways. I did a quick google search on the difference between jealousy and envy, and the consensus is that jealousy comes from a fear of being replaced or losing what you have (in this case your monogamous relationship).  I often find that within couples, the dynamics of jealousy are unbalanced. One person is always fighting the green eyed monster more than the other.

I have put feelings of jealousy into 2 categories:

  1. Internal Jealousy: This is the one that comes from the place deep inside you that does not feel good enough or deserving of the relationship you have. If you are resonating with this, think about what it is about you that feels unlovable. Do you feel unattractive? Mean? Unavailable? The upside of internal jealousy is you have control and the ability to work through these issues without allowing them to tear your relationship apart. Give yourself he gift of feeling good enough, and let go of the worry that someone else can replace you.
  1. External Jealousy: This one is a bit tougher. External jealousy comes from a partner who puts you in the situation of feeling jealous. Maybe she spends a lot of time outside of work texting a certain coworker and making sure you know about it. Maybe he talks constantly about the women at the gym who hit on him. If you have a partner who is doing this to you the first step is to stop taking the bait. I’m guessing it leads to a lot of fighting, and why? If your partner is dropping these hints, there is likely a reason. Maybe they are feeling ignored, and maybe they are looking for a way out of the relationship. Find a constructive way to explore why this continues to come up, and find a way to end the jealous cycle.

In either case, jealousy is the weed growing from an ugly root. Don’t let it be what fills your space!

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Moody Kids

Moody Kids_Blog

In what I hope has been the long awaited return of my posts, I want to share some of my thoughts on moods. Moods are so subjective and nuanced, and without proper verbiage can be nearly impossible to convey. We even create new words to cover the complexity that exists in the realm of moods. Hangry is a personal favorite. I’m not just hungry, or just angry. I probably also have some annoyance about the delay of satiation. Hangry encompasses that overlap in such a perfect conjoint way. At this point I will admit that I have not yet seen the new Pixar film (bad therapist!), but I have been told it does a great job of navigating this in a fun and understandable way…more on that when I see the film!

What compelled me to write about moods today is a continual observation of parents. Most adults have a pretty good grasp on identifying their emotions. They can distinguish between happy, sad, tired, angry, overly stimulated. They let others know, “I’m having a bad day. I need a break.” They are competent communicators in this way. So where are they falling down on the job? Their expectation of their children to not have varying moods.

Thinking back to my childhood, I can remember feeling like I just needed time to myself and a day to do nothing. But being a small person and (like most kids are) at the whim of my parents, it was not always likely that the day’s activities aligned with my current mood. I was much more introverted then, and I needed time and space to refuel. When I did not get that time (due to school, extracurricular activities, social obligations, siblings who also had all of the above), it would often lead to a full on meltdown. I know for myself there was no external cue that signified buildup to this break, it would just happen one day. This led to my being labeled as “moody” and “emotional.” Now to be fair both of those are true, but that’s because I HAVE moods and I HAVE emotions!! Are we not all moody and emotional? Yes, but as adults we are more likely to caretake to these emotions (Hence, walking into work and proclaiming, “I’m having a bad day, I need a break.”)

So how can parents alleviate the stress of seeing their child go into full meltdown mode?

  1. Label their emotions for them: “You seem tired today.” “Do you feel upset with mom?” “You must be angry at your brother.” Kids learn language from us, and unless we give them a label, they may not even understand the feeling that is happening within them. Having a word for it reduces their internal anxiety.
  2. Create an opportunity for space: Not all children are social. That may be difficult for social parents to work around, but expecting your child to be the same as you is going to be difficult in more ways than this, so do yourself a favor and plan for breaks on your calendar.
  3. Learn who your child is as a separate person: It is easy to make the “mini me” assumption, but believe it or not, that little human is a completely unique being in his own right. Ask questions and discover that awesome personality, don’t make assumptions based on a few shared traits.
  4. Embrace the moods: We all have them. We are subject to external factors all the time, and none of us are going to live in a bubble. Anticipate that there will be reactions, and worry less that your child’s meltdown is a reflection of parenting. It isn’t.

Photo obtained from flickr.com Creative Commons

Making Time

Making Time

I think it’s fair to say that as we age, the list of responsibilities grows. Growth at work takes priority, as does marriage, children, home ownership, familial obligations, and continued friendships. The tightrope walk we all manage is rarely easy, and at times exhausting. My struggle has always been where to focus my energy when I know I can’t give 100% in every area (sorry, I’m only human). I know if I try to give everything to everyone I burn out quickly and become useless to all, so much of my time is prioritized.

Learning to balance did not come naturally or easily, but it has become more of a habit, so I decided to share what my process looks like:

1. CHECK IN WITH YOU: The first step is being true to myself. Am I feeling tired? Does that project deserve my energy? Am I doing this for me or for someone else? Learn to be authentic with your own needs. They are valid.

2: PRACTICE SAYING NO: As a culture, I think this lesson is becoming more and more important. Opportunities surround us every waking second, and saying yes to it all leaves no room for recovery.

3: PRACTICE SAYING YES: This goes back to knowing yourself. At the end of a long work day, sometimes the thought of meeting up with friends can feel like too much, but it is important to maintain face to face time. See the people you love and know how they are doing. Relationships that exist solely through social media or quick text check-ins do not have the emotional connectedness that fuels us as humans. I cannot emphasize this enough: SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE YOU LOVE.

4: CUT OUT THE JUNK: We all have certain obligations we can’t throw away, but I am talking about the things we do out of a false sense of guilt. The “frienemy” you can’t shake? Stop making time for her. The underwater basket weaving class you thought would be fun but isn’t? Stop going. When there is hardly enough time for things you want to do, eliminate the things you don’t.

5. SCHEDULE “ME” TIME: This may seem impossible for some, but what I have found is the more time I give to myself (whether it be to work out, nap, watch terrible television), the more time I want to give to others.

These are the tools I use to maintain balance. What has been helpful for you? Feel free to share in the comments!

Photo via Flickr

“Conscious Uncoupling”

If you spend any amount of time online, you may be aware that there is a new trend in divorce called “conscious uncoupling.” Gwyneth Paltrow coined the term when she announced her split from her husband of ten years, Chris Martin. Her message stank of superiority. She concocted an image to appear as if this decision came after long discussions over eco-friendly glasses of red wine. Forget the passé divorces with hostility and hurt feelings, this is just a mutual decision to no longer exclusively be with one another. Just this morning, Jewel echoed this sentiment with the, “tender undoing,” of her own marriage. I take great offense to this new wave of happy dissolutions, and I am worried that there are not more people outraged by this. My problem is not that I don’t believe that they are telling the truth either–it’s that I believe they are.

What does it mean if we can now leave a marriage, not when we have hit rock bottom, but when we are bored? Both of these highlighted instances shine a light on an epidemic in our culture that we no longer believe anything worth having is worth fighting for. We now have admiration for couples who say, “It wasn’t that bad, we are still good friends and will continue to be in each others’ lives. We are simply choosing not to protect the one thing we took vows to protect.” Poof, it’s over. And what message does that send to their children? It says to me and most likely others who hear it that there is nothing sacred about marriage anymore. It says that when things are hard, don’t do them. What was once entered into after consideration, is now the reverse. We have unconscious coupling because there is no consequence to the exit. I am not anti-divorce, but I am anti-not trying. I often tell the couples I work with that my bias is for the marriage. I have yet to see a problem insurmountable, as long as each individual is willing to take responsibility for his or her own role in the problems. If you are still civil enough to “remain best friends,” (a quote from Hilary Duff’s press release regarding her divorce), why can you not be civil enough to look inward and find a way to consciously stay together for better or for worse?

Calling Advice Seekers!

As you may have read in the about me section of this blog, one of my goals is to offer advice in a “Dear Jacqueline,” format. If you’ve had any questions that you didn’t want to ask friends and family about, or weren’t satisfied with the feedback you got, feel free to send it to me!

All submissions remain anonymous, and you get to do a good deed by helping me fulfill a life dream. 

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Man Up

            Wedding season has officially begun (at least on my calendar), and it has caused me to reflect on the choices people make in choosing a partner for marriage. Whether we gravitate to bookish charm, tall dark and handsome, or laid back and silly, we all have certain characteristics we find more attractive. What we are attracted to is often deeply rooted in our early experiences, and in our brain chemistry. What I find charming might not do it for someone else, which is great, because competition for a stable mate can be rough as it is.

            With some of these thoughts in mind, I indulged in some Real Housewives drama, and couldn’t help but think of this when one husband was targeted for being “too into the women’s drama.” He was being called some pretty derogatory names, and his manliness was called into question. I couldn’t help but wonder what his wife felt in hearing that, and how she regarded his “manliness.” I certainly didn’t feel his actions were respectful to the women he was interacting with, and that got me thinking about what being a man means to me.

What makes a good man:

            He is respectful: A real man knows how to convey his opinion in a way that leaves room for discussion, and does not belittle  

            the person he is interacting with (man or woman).

            He has good character: He doesn’t follow popular logic or opinion, and knows that often the right choice is the hardest.

            He shares: In a relationship, a man takes ownership of his feelings and is responsible for them; he does not blame.

            He seeks support: Life can be hard. A man knows this and is not afraid to reach out when he needs another hand.

            This list is by no means comprehensive, but there were certain things I left out, that to me do not convey manliness. A real man does not have to be physically strong, only mentally. A real man does not have to get wasted, but he does know how to relax. A real man does not have to have children, but he takes care of them when he does.

Feel free to comment with what manliness means to you.

 

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