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Resolving differences in sexual appetite and rhythm can be a means of attaining inner balance and overcoming self-centeredness. To achieve harmony, compromise is necessary. If your partner does not enjoy sex, you will not enjoy it fully either.
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Learning to live without unnecessary struggle is a lifelong process. For most of us, it will require shedding old thinking habits and choosing to value seeing and understanding over winning and being right. At times during this process, it may feel as if you are losing power, as others ignore your views at the same time that you are open to theirs. Don't despair. As you change your priorities from being right to understanding and acting on all relevant information, your very definition of what it means to be powerful will change. As you find room in your heart and mind for seemingly contradictory ideas and feelings to peacefully co-exist, you greatly increase the appropriateness and long-range effectiveness of your actions.
The types of relationships you attract to you can be seen as mirrors of your level of inner harmony or self-awareness.
Principles Of Healthy Relationships
Close loving or working relationships can help you expand your consciousness and broaden your perspective. Over time you learn to include another's perspective alongside your own.
Expanding your perspective to include other viewpoints does not mean abandoning your own position. You come to see other realities in addition to your own, not instead of it.
Moving beyond power struggles, and the either-or thinking that engenders them, requires a transformation in consciousness. You must shift from Security/Control thinking to Growth/Discovery or Unity/Participation thinking.
While conflicts seem to be caused by differing needs or ways of doing things, the real cause is in the meanings people attribute to these differences. In intimate relationships, for example, rarely do two people have exactly the same need for contact at all times. But it is one's interpretation of this fact that leads to suffering or acceptance.
Many intimate fights are unconscious ways of adjusting the distance between partners. People fight when they want more closeness. They fight when they want more distance. But usually their fights seem to be about something other than these simple needs. If couples could more easily accept their differing needs, they would be able to communicate more honestly.
It's not what happens to you that makes you happy or unhappy with your life, but how you handle what happens to you.
Whatever you resist in life keeps coming back to you, demanding your attention. In relationships, our partners and co-workers often appear to be at the source of our frustrations when they are more likely just mirroring back to us those aspects of reality with which we have not yet found a satisfactory way to cope.
The power struggles between people reflect the power struggles within people. We don't get emotionally involved in a power struggle unless we are also in a state of inner conflict.
When another person's behavior or attitude evokes a negative emotional reaction in you, there is some aspect of yourself of which you are unaware or unaccepting. Through dialogue with another, you expand the boundaries of your sense of self.
Many couples are attracted to one another because each partner has qualities the other admires, and perhaps secretly wishes to have. With continued contact, you may come to learn these qualities from each other. When this occurs, there is no longer cause for struggle.
An interpersonal relationship is a living system with interdependent parts functioning to some degree as a unit. A change in one part of the system sends changes reverberating through the entire system. In a living system, one person's change does not occur in a vacuum. It is always felt and responded to in some way by the other person. If you want your partner to change, change yourself.
If you wish another to treat you in a certain manner, try treating that person in this same manner. Love engenders love. Openness engenders openness. Fear and suspicion engender fear and suspicion. Somebody has to make the first move.
Each one of us is responsible for the quality of our own inner state, no matter what happens to us in the external world.
At any moment, in a potential conflict situation, you have the choice either to de-fuse or escalate the conflict. If you wish to de-fuse a potential struggle, to "turn the heat down," don't become aggressive or defensive. Instead, try to hear what the other is saying and feeling and then, once the other feels heard and is thus able to listen, express your own viewpoint.
Positive expectations about another's motives or intentions engender positive outcomes.
To expand your range of choices, experiment with non-habitual ways of dealing with your negative emotional reactions. In order to become more fully human (conscious) and less machine-like (unconscious), it helps to intentionally behave in ways that are not your habitual or automatic (sometimes seen as your "natural") ways.
Power Struggles Are Resolved More Easily When Participants Follow Basic Communication Guidelines
* Express what you are thinking, feeling or wanting now in this relationship with this person. Do not bring in past incidents from this or other relationships to bolster your position.
* Express yourself in positive terms. Tell the other what you want, not what you don't want; what you're for, not what you're against. It is much easier for another to receive your communication without defensiveness when it is phrased positively.
* Don't interrupt. Allow the other to express his/her position fully and to feel understood, before you offer your view.
* When seeking something from the other, the phrase, "I want..." is received more easily than, "You should..." Most people resist being told how they "should" behave.
Cycle of Blame
If you are caught in a cycle of blame and counter-blame, attack and counter-attack, it may be time to look for the softer, more tender feelings which lie beneath the surface. Most harder or sharper feelings cover over deeper, softer, less easy-to-articulate feelings, such as a longing to be closer, a need for reassurance, fear of being hurt, etc. When partners are able to recognize and express the feelings underneath the feelings they are struggling over, the power struggle may dissolve right then and there.
The Personal Rewards For Learning To Resolve Power Struggles
* You feel confident and assured in a wider variety of life situations as you rediscover more and more of your personal potential.
* You have the capacity to understand and empathize with more different types of people.
* You may come to develop a deep almost telepathic rapport with some people, thus giving you more complete insight into what it means to be a human being.
* People will enjoy being in your presence because you treat them with respect. Being with you enhances others' self-esteem.
* If people come to believe and act as if other people are friends rather than adversaries, we are likely to see more relationships where resources are shared rather than hoarded. When this occurs, more resources actually become available to more people. The world starts to feel like a friendlier place and we become less fearful.
From: Beyond the Power Struggle. (1984). Susan M. Campbell, Ph.D.
To separate emotionally from the family of one's childhood so as to invest fully in the marriage and, at the same time, to redefine the lines of connection with both families of origin.
Where Does Your Relationship Stand?
Here is a short self-quiz that can give you a general indication of your relationship's potential for long-lasting fidelity. This quiz is intended only for greater awareness and not as a diagnostic tool.
Ideally, both partners will take the quiz so that you have the benefit of comparing and discussing your answers. If you feel you need an in-depth evaluation of your specific situation, consider having a consultation with a professional therapist or relationship counselor.
Answer YES or NO to these questions, then total your YES answers. Check your total with the Key at the end of the list of questions.
1-4 YES's -- indicate your relationship is strong right now
5-9 YES's -- indicate that you and/or your partner may be vulnerable at this time. You should give serious consideration to the guidelines that appear later in this article.
10 + YES's -- indicates you may be headed for serious problems and should consider professional counseling.
Your answers should give you more awareness of your actions and motivations in your relationship. Hopefully, they will stimulate open and honest discussion between you and your partner.
John Gottman in his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail provides a number of self-tests to determine various aspects of the marital relationship. One of the most important he includes is a self-test for determining if there is enough love and respect in your marriage. I provide this test here to help couples assess the state of their relationship. Please do not assume this is a definitive assessment. It is just a quick check, nothing more.
Answer "yes" or "no" to each of the following statement, depending on whether you mostly agree or disagree. If your partner is not willing or able to take the test, you can take it for him or her.
From article, How Women Experience Battering: The Process of Victimization, by Kathleen Ferraro and John Johnson Arizona State University
Catalysts for Change