Dr Kathy Nickerson - Blog Post: Building Your Emotional Bank Account
I have been thinking about the idea of "emotional bank accounts" lately. This term refers to the idea that we can do or experience things that add money (i.e., positive emotion) to our emotional bank account, we can also experience things that strain or drain money from our account. For example, when your partner hugs and soothes you, this adds money to your account, your emotional bank balance goes up. When your partner criticizes you, your emotional bank balance goes down.
This idea has led me to a new rule for relationships: Ask for what you need to replenish your emotional bank account. Then ask your partner, what you can do to help them feel better.
We get what we ask for, so if you can think of something that will nourish you, build you up, or make you feel better, why not ask your partner for this? I think most of us would like to hear from our partners and spouses about what we can do to make them feel better.
When you think about asking your partner for what you need, what comes up for you?
Dr Kathy Nickerson - Blog Post: The Fight Recovery Guide for Couples
If you've recently had a knock-down-drag-out argument with your spouse, I am very sorry. Fighting is exhausting and extremely stressful.
I believe you can make it better and will recover from this bad fight, but there are two things you need to do: (1) think about what happened and why, and (2) have a talk about what happened and work towards healing from it.
To do both of these things, I'd like for you each to spend some time thinking about the questions below, do this on your own. Once you have your answers, make a "date" with your spouse to discuss your responses together.
If things get heated again, take a break and calm yourself down. Working through this issue is stressful for you both! Calm yourself and do anything you can to help soothe your partner. You will get through this.
1. Summarize your experience of the fight. How are you feeling about what happened? What are your thoughts and feelings about the fight?
2. Share your subjective reality. Summarize your own personal reality about the disagreement. What was the reality or "the truth" for you?
3. Find something in your partnerís story that you can understand. Now, try and see how your partnerís subjective reality might make sense, given your partnerís perspective. Tell your partner about one piece of his or her reality that makes sense to you.
4. Are you emotionally flooded or too upset to talk? If you're really upset - a level 8 or more on a scale of 1-10 - then take a break and self-soothe before continuing.
5. Admit your own role. It is essential that each of you takes some responsibility for what happened. See if anything from the list below applies to your situation.
1. I have been very stressed and irritable lately.
2. I have not expressed much appreciation towards my partner lately.
3. I have taken my partner for granted.
4. I have been overly sensitive lately.
5. I have been overly critical lately.
6. I have not shared very much of my inner world.
7. I have not been emotionally available.
8. I have been turning away from my partner.
9. I have been getting easily upset.
10. I have been depressed lately.
11. I would say that I have a chip on my shoulder lately.
12. I have not been very affectionate.
13. I have not made time for good things between us.
14. I have not been a very good listener.
15. I have not been asking for what I need.
16. I have been feeling a bit like a martyr.
17. I have needed to be alone.
18. I have not wanted to take care of anybody.
Overall, my contribution to this fight was:____________________________________.
6. Make it better in the future. What is one thing your partner could do differently next time? What is something you could do better next time? What do you long for now to help you feel comforted and reassured?
Dr Kathy Nickerson - Blog Post: Affair Recovery: 10 Things You Need to Know
Number 8: Drill down on your emotions.
Iíve met many couples that come through counseling after an affair having a stronger marriage than they did before. The reason for this is that they took the time to really drill down on their emotions and look for the reasons and unmet needs that prompted them to turn away from their spouse and find someone else. If youíre recovering from an affair, itís key that you take some time to think about the following key questions and find a gentle way to share this information with your spouse:
How were you feeling in the marriage before the affair?
What do you think your relationship was missing?
What did you get out of having an affair?
What made it difficult to turn towards your spouse and talk about what you were missing?
What do you really want and need from your partner in order to feel comfortable, safe, and loved?
If you liked these Orange County Marriage Counseling blog posts, check out Dr Kathy's blog at: http://drkathynickerson.blogspot.com/