Covering the concept of marriage in a marriage workshop is a big task.
I work with court ordered perpatrators of domestic violence, and I am amazed at the concepts about relationships that I hear from both the men and the women who attend my program.
Over and over, I see the impact of beliefs learned in the media, and from mom and dad about what adult men and women do.
The first and foremost behavior I see is this right-wrong dichotomy, where if I am right, you are wrong.
Another model is the Karpman drama triangle of victim-persecutor-rescuer, where if I go 'victim' in my thinking, you are either a persecutor or a rescuer, not an individual asking for attention to an issue important to you.
If I go to either of these thinking patterns, the feeling tone that I have is usually resentment/anger/righteous indignation as a victim or contempt as a persecutor, for example.
The antidote? Doing what John and Julie Scwartz-Gottman describe in their marriage workshops, which is cultivate an attitude of appreciation, and do that frequently, since our thoughts and feelings are constantly changing. (I can change my thoughts as frequently as every 1/18th second).
Constantly means we might have 60,000 thoughts per day, so it will take some practice to make many of them appreciative.
The victim thoughts are usually based on a childhood experience with an intense emotional experience attached to it, so it is easy to remember them, not so easy to pull up a positive, fun memory. (In a bit, we will take a look at how HeartMath can help with positive, fun memories and feelings).
Let's take a look at what John Gottman says about nurturing positive feelings.
Helen Fisher, Ph.D. has discovered how to find your partners who have chemistry.
Here is a quick article on what the Gottman's teach in The Art and Science of Love, their home study course/marriage workshop.
Divorceproof Your Marriage
By Diane Cole Posted 12/17/06
With about 1 out of every 2 first marriages ending in divorce, is there a single piece of advice that would help couples not only divorce proof their relationship but also make it more contented? (Steady but stale is not the same as hearty and hale.) We asked leading marriage gurus for their advice, and the experts agreed the answer's right at the top of the alphabet: The letter "A" is not just for affection; it's also for appreciation.
Based on years of research, "the best single predictor of whether a couple is going to divorce is contempt," says relationships expert John M. Gottman, who, with his wife, Julie Schwartz Gottman, directs the Gottman Institute in Seattle.
Contempt goes beyond criticism or name-calling (as hurtful as those can be) to a you're-so-beneath-me tone of haughty superiority.
"My favorite example is correcting someone's grammar when they're arguing with you," says Gottman, whose most recent book is 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage.
Cultivate what Gottman calls "a culture of appreciation." Happy couples, his numerous studies have found, "develop a habit of mind where they are scanning the environment for things to appreciate and moments to communicate respect and just all this positive stuff."
Decency. One way to do that is to "live by the stranger standard," says Michele Weiner-Davis, marriage therapist, author of Divorce Busting, and founder of Divorcebusting.com. "Like letting someone with only one item go ahead of you in the supermarket line," she says, "bring home to your spouse the decency and kindness you would show to someone you just met."
This isn't to say that arguments won't happen-all marriages have intense ups and downs. But when they do, rather than nitpicking, try a little tact with some perspective thrown in for good measure. "Do something that doesn't come naturally to us-give credit to what's working," says Weiner-Davis. "Celebrate the small, positive things in the relationship, notice and comment on what's going well." It's not just that positive reinforcement-not criticism-"is the best, fastest, most efficient way of changing someone else's behavior," she says. When partners feel valued, they are less inclined to jump to negative conclusions when something goes wrong ("He forgot my birthday, he really doesn't care"), and more likely to give each other the benefit of the doubt ("It's been so hectic around here, I forgot it myself").
And if all couples followed that advice? Says Weiner-Davis: "I'd be out of a job."
This story appears in the December 25, 2006 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.
Sounds great doesn't it, but my experience is that learning to remember what you appreciate about your partner takes some practice, and expressing it can mean for folks in a domestic violence situation that they are making themselves vulnerable.
So I have taught a lot of my clients the HeartMath process which cues an affiliative and cooperative physiology and literally lets them establish a heart beat for themselves, and even a cooperative and affiliative heart beat for the relationship.
The HeartMath tool fits well with what the Gottman's teach in their section for how couples need to handle flooding.
HeartMath is based on a brand new field of study called neurocardiology, which is the study of the hearts own nervous system.
When I learn to cue a coherent heart rate with HeartMath, every cell in my body, including the higher perceptual centers in my brain, beat to the beat set by my heart, and feeling appreciative is a snap.
The great thing? Once my heart learns the HeartMath process, I can cue this physiology on any given heart beat, so feeling appreciative, like Weiner-Davis and the Gottman's suggest, is made very easy.
When my heart rate is coherent, learning from marriage workshops is so much easier.
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