How to Build Emotional Connection in Your Daily Life

How to Build Emotional Connection: Increase Intimacy  by Looking at the Destructive Patterns in Your Relationship   What increases intimacy in the bedroom? The intimacy outside the bedroom. There can be intimacy in your daily life, and there should be to have a healthy relationship. Most people who come to me with relationship problems have this problem. The intimacy is not there daily, which, in return, causes their sex life to suffer. Let’s focus on the importance of changing your approach, with the result being increasing intimacy. A lot of people are in the weeds of their relationship. They’re very focused on the details and daily life routines, and they’re not stepping back and thinking about the destructive patterns that have developed over the years. Almost everyone who comes to see me has these destructive patterns. The arguments aren’t all separate things. If you look closely at a broader angle, you’ll see that the patterns are similar. If you can get ahold of a pattern, all you need to do is change one part of the pattern, and all of the arguments that fall in the pattern change, often for the better, and this is how to build intimacy in your daily life. Take a look now at the patterns that you contribute to the destructive patterns in your relationship to increase emotional connection.  Think about the arguments you’ve had in the past. Are you the one who backs down, let’s things go, doesn’t want to approach anything because it might get ugly or tense? Are you avoiding confrontation? Or are you the go-getter, “I’m not letting that go, I’m going to tackle this, I’m going to prove my point,”- are you that person? Do your arguments tend to start with you making your point? If you’re that person, this is a pattern that may be destructive in your relationship. The key is, people tend to idealize one of these approaches. Typically, one partner idealizes one, and the other partner idealizes the other. Which one are you? If you’re the one who’s the passive one, you must see that, sometimes, passivity isn’t the best choice. Avoiding confrontation and aggression is not the key to a happy relationship. There are times to be passive, but there are also times to be aggressive, constructively. Constructive Aggression Constructive aggression includes going for a gold medal, asking for a raise, swerving to avoid a …

family issues causing stress

Family Issues: Tension Between Your Parents and Your Spouse

Should You Choose Your Family or Your Relationship? How to Resolve Family Issues Between Your Parents and Your Spouse Let me start with a story about a good guy trying to do right by the people he loved… “Tony” came from a great family and was happily married. Tony loved his parents and his siblings; he loved his wife and his kids. He was a lucky guy. So it drove him nuts that whenever he and his wife spent time with his family, they ended up fighting the entire drive home—she didn’t like their comments about the kids or the gifts they gave or the unhealthy food. Whatever happened during the visit, his wife would find a way to be unhappy about it. Tony felt the pressure of what felt like family issues. He remembers finally yelling at her, overcome with rage. “It’s so unfair— you actually make me dread spending time with them.” He just wanted everyone to be happy. And more often than not, we’re just like Tony. We want the best for the people we love. So why does his dilemma seem so impossible to resolve? The issue wasn’t that Tony didn’t love his parents or his wife enough. The issue wasn’t that his wife was unreasonable. The problem wasn’t even that his parents were at fault. The issue was that Tony wasn’t prioritizing his marriage over his relationship with his family, which in return, was causing the family issues. I see the same conflict play out every week in my practice. Regardless of the specifics of a situation, I tell my patients that to resolve this conflict; we must remember two truths: 1. If we want to keep our marriage, our marriage must always come first. 2. We don’t owe our parents anything. My patients can’t help but argue with me. They say, “But Dr. Dabney … “ … my parents did so much for me. I don’t want to seem ungrateful.” “ … my parents are getting older. They need my help.” “ … I don’t want to be mean.” “ … I don’t want them to think I don’t love them.” “ … they’ll make me feel guilty.” “ … it’s expected of me.” “ … that’s just how things are in our family.” “ … they don’t mean the things they say.” “ … my wife just misinterprets everything.” “ … she just …

How to Set Boundaries With Family Over the Holidays

Three Ways to Set Your Boundaries Over the Holidays I’ve had several male patients in my office who let the people in their life walk all over them. And they all do it in the name of keeping their reputation as a “Nice Guy.” My first questions are always the same. I say, Where is it written that Nice Guys can’t say no? Is there a law that to be a Nice Guy, you have to put up with abusive comments and invasive questions? Does the dictionary define Nice Guy as, “A man who allows others to take advantage of him”? The answers? No. No. And No.  The critical factor here is they need to learn how to set boundaries with family. I’ve had so many Nice Guys in my office and heard so many stories about the pain they’re feeling. My message for Nice Guys everywhere: It is possible to set and maintain your boundaries with friends and family without turning into a jerk. Three tactics on How to Set Boundaries with Family and Friends this Holiday Seasons While it’s impossible to control what people say to or expect of us during the holidays, there is a lot we can do to manage our behavior while we’re with them. I tell my patients to practice three boundary setting tactics: Stop inappropriate behavior in its tracks Preemptively set boundaries Change the subject when faced with inappropriate comments One: Stop inappropriate behavior in its tracks Finally, one of the most anxiety-producing holiday situations my patients experience is the feeling of being “stuck” with people whose behavior makes them uncomfortable. This can be physical, such as relatives who don’t share the same boundaries around hugging or kissing, etc., or it can also be environmental, such as the relative who loves to bring up touchy subjects like politics. No matter what form the inappropriate behavior takes, you don’t have to spend the holidays “stuck” in its net. For example, one of my patients doesn’t enjoy copious amounts of physical contact with anyone except his wife. His wife’s family, however, is very physical, and he used to dread spending time with them because they had no inhibitions about snuggling up to him on the couch or touching his arms or legs while in conversation. Now, instead of feeling uncomfortable and “stuck,” he promptly moves his hand or foot, etc. out of physical contact and …

How to Recognize Good Emotional Boundaries

How to Recognize a Good Boundary When You See It Maintaining good personal emotional boundaries is a very important element of positive mental health. Emotional boundaries protect us from manipulation and from being taken advantage of. They help minimize hurt and frustration. They build our self-confidence and even help improve our relationships. But what are they, and why are they so tricky? In my experience, most patients believe they have better personal boundaries than they do. They say, “I’d never tolerate [x]” or “I’ll never put up with [y] again.” But when it comes time to exercise those boundaries, they don’t. They loan them money or swallow the insults or ignore the behavior they swore they’d never overlook again. And the cycle continues to repeats itself. Since this is such a common cycle, I’d like to examine the basic elements of healthy emotional boundaries. To illustrate, let me tell you about the story of my patient, Gary. Gary couldn’t say no. Gary was a successful real estate broker who couldn’t say no to his adult daughter. Every time she needed money — whether two hundred dollars or two thousand dollars — he gave it to her. Then when she spent it on expensive clothes or indulgent nights out, he’d despair that she’d essentially thrown his money away. He made comments about her being irresponsible. He told her he wasn’t going to give her any money unless he knew precisely how she was going to spend it. Then they’d argue, and she’d cry, and he’d feel terrible and he’d end up writing his daughter a check. I asked him why he couldn’t say no to his daughter’s requests. He explained that he and his wife divorced when his daughter was young. “It was so hard on her,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt her any more than I already have.” Then he added, “Plus, I have the money. I’ve done well for myself. Why wouldn’t I share it with my daughter?” The answer to that question is where Gary and I began our work together. Emotional Boundaries are rarely black and white Gary had a partial understanding of personal boundaries. He saw them as absolutes, as lines in the sand. “I would never give her money for drugs,” for example. Boundaries, however, are rarely so black and white. Instead, they’re more effectively viewed as limits, as the threshold between when …

4 Signs You’re Giving Too Much

Helping Until it Hurts-4 Signs You’re Giving Too Much “Angel” had always been praised for her generosity. Little did she know she was giving too much. She was active in her church and a dedicated volunteer. Funerals, craft sales, committees—Angel was a Good Samaritan. One fall, a young woman at work revealed that she was about to lose the lease on her apartment. The two women worked closely together and Angel knew that her colleague was in trouble; she had survived a traumatic childhood and no longer had ties to her family. It broke Angel’s heart. She offered the woman her spare bedroom until she was back on her feet. Today, Angel says, she can’t look back on the experience without feeling embarrassed and angry. What she believed to be a well-intentioned gesture ended up straining her marriage, her relationship with her own kids, and even her health; she was giving too much. Helping becomes pathological when it hurts more than it helps. As extreme as it may sound, Angel’s story isn’t uncommon. In fact, it is symptomatic of Pathological Altruism. Unlike healthy altruism, pathological altruism is giving too much and is performed with little or no consideration of the harm it may cause to the giver or the recipient. In other words, helping becomes pathological when it hurts more than it helps. Here’s what Pathological Altruism often looks like, as demonstrated by Angel. The tendency to deny one’s own needs for the needs of others. Angel spent so much time helping her friend with her everyday needs that she ate poorly, gained weight, woke exhausted, and felt increasingly depressed. It’s a predictable cycle that flight attendants have advised us about for decades: you must put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Supreme confidence in one’s skills or ability to help. Let’s face it: Angel was not a trained therapist. She raised successful children, but it was unreasonable and dangerous for her to expect that she could soothe her friend’s serious emotional wounds. Like a novice mechanic working on a finely tuned engine, when our desire to help exceeds our skills, we are likely to do more damage than good. Inability to see the harmful consequences of your helping behaviors. As in physics, we cannot exert one force without expecting an equal or greater force in response. So it is with our relationships. By the time Angel had …