A loving relationship can be an oasis in uncertain times, but nurturing it requires attention, honesty, openness, vulnerability, and gratitude.
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Cleaning up emotional pollution
Steven Stosny, Ph.D.
The most frequent mistake in relationships is the illusion of sameness — assuming that events and behaviors mean the same, or should, to both partners.
Problem anger is so hard to control because, by the time we’re adults, it’s habituated — the product of entrenched conditioned responses.
As the most dangerous and socially controlled emotion, anger has mutated into many forms.
You may have heard the saying, "Love is easy; relationships are hard." The truth is, relationships are hard because love is easy.
Relationship harmony is more about emotional tone and atmosphere than expressions of love or specific behaviors.
Habits are processed thousands of times faster than intentional behavior; the only way to change an entrenched one is to develop an incompatible one.
The principle of emotion contagion holds that emotions of two or more people converge and are passed from person to person in larger groups.
Most of our anger at our children is an impulse to punish them for reminding us that we're failing as parents.
Couples counseling presupposes that both parties have self-regulation skills, the ability to hold onto self-value when partners don't like each other's behavior.
All behavior that is not habit has one of three usually unconscious motivations.
What we focus on becomes more important than what we don’t focus on.
Dominated by the Toddler brain, we latch onto any ideology and desperately seek reinforcement of it through the most superficial bonding: common enemy.
Habits rule under stress and when the regulatory processes of the prefrontal cortex (the Adult brain) are overtaxed from physical or mental exhaustion.
Once the mind becomes convinced that it needs something, its pursuit can easily become obsessive, compulsive, or addictive.
Unless there is agreement on a strategy to repair the relationship, any tactic either party employs will seem like manipulation.
In small doses, anxiety is a vital emotion. Without it, we could be killed crossing the street and would find ourselves ill-prepared for many of the important tasks of life.
Resentment is the persistent feeling that we're being treated unfairly—not getting due respect, appreciation, affection, help, apology, consideration, praise, or reward.
Ultimately, the choice between valuing and devaluing is a choice between empowerment and powerlessness.
If you feel that something your partner does is “stupid,” describing the behavior in the kindest language will not hide your true feelings.
Due to the vast contagion of emotions, even our most subtle interactions with other people help determine whether they treat their loved ones well, ignore them, or hurt them.
If you're resentful, then you’ve probably devalued, demeaned, sought to control, manipulate, or deliberately hurt the feelings of loved ones.
If you make forgiveness a goal, it remains elusive—just when you think you’ve got it, it’s out of reach again.
The measure of a behavior in love relationships should not be whether or not it’s abusive or sarcastic. That sets the bar way too low.
Avoid the attitude of “Connect when and where I want—or not at all.”
We have to struggle to maintain a sense of humanity.
Environmental polluters spread waste in the environment without regard of its effects on others. Emotional polluters spread hostility in the environment, disregarding others.
The entitlement culture has all but equated the virtue of humility with the symptom of low self-esteem—with dire consequences.
Intolerance of disagreement rises from the dread of uncertainty, a dread that severely limits growth and accomplishment. Uncertainty drives us to learn more and connect to others.
Those who condemn others are the least likely to know they’re suffering.
In love relationships, power struggles are not really about power – who gets to rule. They’re about value, specifically, attempts to compensate for precipitous drops in self-value.
Steven Stosny, Ph.D., treats people for anger and relationship problems. His recent books include How to Improve your Marriage without Talking about It and Love Without Hurt.