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making marriage workIn his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman introduces the concept of “repair attempts” to minimize out of control conflict. According to Gottman, the success or failure of a couple’s repair attempts is one of the primary factors in whether their marriage flourishes or flounders. Along with Dr. Gottman’s principles, I’ve included my own practical applications for your marriage. Practice these reparative strategies regularly and watch your friendship grow.

A repair attempt is defined as any statement or action–silly or otherwise–that prevents negativity from escalating. Here are a few examples of phrases that can be effective repair attempts. Keep in mind that the absence of repair attempts is a strong predictor of marital failure.

1. Apologizing

“I over reacted, I’m sorry.”

“I can see my part in all this.”

“I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

Saying you’re sorry without feeling it, or providing a genuine “heartfelt” apology can be damaging. Be sure that as you apologize, you are sincere. It will make a big difference in your marriage.

2. Taking a time out

“Let’s take a break.”

“Give me just a moment. I’ll be back.”

“I think we are getting off track. Can we start over?”

Rest is important. If you feel there has been a shift of direction into a bad area, regroup and reconvene so that things are clear and as a result, accurate.

3. Calming each other down

“I need things to be calmer right now.”

“Can I take that back?”

“I don’t feel safe right now.”

Don’t be afraid to correct course and admit if you’ve said something incorrect, hurtful or inaccurate. By sharing that you know things are wrong, you are moving towards a solution. Both of you will become more calm if you aren’t afraid to make sure you

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Confronting WellMost people fear confrontation. The thought of speaking up – especially during a conflict or uncomfortable situation – can be almost paralyzing. However, the ability to effectively confront tough issues by clearly stating what you think, feel, and want can be one of the most valuable interpersonal skills a person can possess. The ten keys listed below can help prepare you for those difficult conversations.

1. Objectively describe your concern

Stick to the facts only when describing your concern or complaint. If you begin by talking about the other person’s motives or intentions, you’re likely to trigger a defensive or angry reaction.

2. Avoid making it personal

Address the action or behavior without attacking the person with criticism, name calling or blame. Negative personal comments can damage your relationship, even into the future.

3. Keep your comments brief and to the point

Reserve the lectures for the classroom because they never benefit relationships. If your goal is to influence positive behavioral change and resolution, less is more.

4. Resist getting sucked into an argument

If your comments are met with hostility, blame or defensiveness, fight the temptation to argue your position. Instead, state what you believe needs to be said and then end the conversation. Arguing is often destructive and will likely make the situation worse.

5. Avoid getting sidetracked

It’s easy for irrelevant or unrelated issues to sneak into a discussion when confronting a difficult issue. Commit to only addressing one concern or complaint at a time, and it will increase the likelihood of an acceptable outcome.

6. Express your thoughts and feelings

Expressing what you feel openly and honestly at the outset of a difficult conversation will help to reduce anxiety and diffuse pent up emotion that might otherwise escalate during the discussion. For example, stating, “I am

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workplace relationsThe average full-time worker spends over two thousand hours on the job every year with most of that time involving face-to-face interaction with co-workers. Research has shown that if your workplace relationships are strong you will likely experience greater job satisfaction and better performance. Conversely, when on the job relationships are weak you are apt to experience greater stress resulting in lower job satisfaction and poorer performance.

Below is a list of highly effective interpersonal strategies that will help you improve your workplace relationships.

Be Friendly

Get to know everyone within the company, and impress them with your interest in them, no matter what their position. Doormen, receptionists, secretaries, vice-presidents, sales people et al… There’s no one undeserving of your respectful attention. If you think there is, you will likely struggle with your relationships no matter where you work.

Don’t Gossip

One of the quickest ways to get to know everyone in an organization is to involve yourself in the gossip. The problem with such immersion is the inaccuracy of information you will typically glean from such chin-wagging, along with the reputation such behavior invites and the relational division that often occurs.

Embrace Social Events

The social side to work relationships can often be awkward as colleagues find it difficult to interact in a novel environment that doesn’t involve work. However, the bonds formed at such events can be invaluable in fostering a sound communication base. By embracing such opportunities to get to know your co-workers better, you can build a foundation on which to improve your working relationship.

Don’t Take Sides in Petty Arguments

One of the defining characteristics of the office dynamic is the often childish and petty nature of interpersonal squabbles. Taking sides in such disputes forms rifts between colleagues that can destroy any previous relationship-building you

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Workplace RelationshipsFinding the right position is only one piece of the puzzle that leads to job satisfaction. Have you ever heard someone say, “I’d like my work if it weren’t for the people I work with”? One of the greatest challenges in the workplace is getting along with other people. It hardly matters if someone is the best and brightest at what he does if he creates dissension in the office. Regardless of whether we’re hired to lead or be led, it is the ability to establish functional and healthy workplace relationships that can make or break our success and job satisfaction.

Supervisors have a particular responsibility to create a satisfying and productive atmosphere that encourages others to reach their full potential. To inspire confidence and loyalty from others, a supervisor must lead by example. If he values punctuality, he should be punctual. If he insists on respectful behavior, he should demonstrate it in his treatment of others. If he wants to create a spirit of teamwork, he should do his best to keep workers informed of developments that could affect their departments. In other words, a supervisor should practice the Golden Rule in order to create an environment where he himself would want to work.

Relationships among peers can be some of the most competitive and challenging in the workplace. Balance and discretion should be exercised in these associations. Some individuals feel that the only important relationships are with their supervisors. This attitude overlooks both the importance of teamwork and the obvious benefit of building friendships, which in some cases last a lifetime. Peers can constitute a valuable network of shared information and can generate an atmosphere of cooperation. When we build goodwill among our coworkers, we contribute to our own feelings of well-being on the job and the well-being

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Depression in MarriageEveryone longs for – and needs – intimacy. Intimacy in marriage exists when a husband and wife allow each other to experience everything they have to offer physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually without fear of criticism, judgement or rejection.  In the absence of intimacy, a marriage can not thrive and will struggle even to survive.

Prior to marriage, few couples give a great deal of thought to how they might prevent or deal with the potential roadblocks to intimacy in their marriage.  In fact, few married couples address such obstacles until they find themselves in the middle of difficult times.

As much as every couple desires closeness, companionship and harmony in their relationship they cannot avoid the fact that there are a number of things in life that may keep them from enjoying true intimacy.  Some of the more common threats to marital intimacy include parenting pressures, financial stress, unresolved conflict, anger, unforgiveness, etc.  But the “Silent Killer of Marital Intimacy” that often goes unaddressed is depression, especially when it strikes the woman.

It is estimated that over 18 million Americans suffer from depression each year. While both men and women are susceptible, women are twice as likely to suffer from depressive symptoms than men are.  One out of every four women will experience at least one depressive episode in their lifetime.

Although the quality of a marriage can be impacted when either spouse is depressed, research has shown that women may experience greater relational difficulty when depressed.  This is significant because they are more likely to derive a sense of well being from their roles in intimate relationships with others than men are (Jordon, Kaplan, Miller, Stiver & Surrey, 1991).

Studies on marriage and depression reveal that it can be both the cause and the result of marital

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DadIf I asked you to tell me about your father, you might give me a variety of responses. Maybe you weren’t raised by your biological father. Instead, you were raised by your mother, a stepfather, adopted father, or grandfather. Or, your father may have raised you but you didn’t have a good relationship with him. Or as is the case for me, your father passed away and all you have left are memories. Or perhaps you had – and still have – a great relationship with your dad.

Is the Role of a Father Really That Important?

There are those who say that fathers don’t play a significant role in the lives of their children and that, in fact, parents don’t really have the kind of influence we once thought they did. This is not true! Parents play a vital role in the lives of their children, and fathers, in particular, have a profound influence on their development.

A survey of over 20,000 parents found that when fathers are involved in their children’s education, including attending parent-teacher meetings and volunteering at school, children were more likely to get A’s, enjoy school and participate in extracurricular activities, and less likely to have repeated a grade.

In a 26-year study of 379 individuals, researchers found that the single most important childhood factor in developing empathy is paternal involvement. In other words, fathers who spent time alone with their kids doing routine childcare at least twice a week raised children who became the most compassionate adults.

Forty years ago eighty percent of all children in the U.S. grew up in a home with two biological parents. Today, only about fifty percent of our children will spend their entire childhood in an intact family.

I can’t help thinking of some of the recent events

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KidsAt one time or another, nearly every parent says, “I wish my children came with a set of instructions!”  While none of us can claim to have all the answers, I’ve given a lot of thought to some of the basic rules for raising children.  So, I submit for your consideration a simple “Top Ten” list of ways to be great parents.

PROVIDE FOR PHYSICAL NEEDS – Growing children need healthy diets, adequate clothing, and quality health care. And they need protection from harm – from “small stuff” like sunburn or too much junk food to real dangers like careless driving or access to alcohol or drugs.

BE THERE FOR THEM – When your kids talk to you, face them and really listen. Turn off the TV if you have to.  As much as possible, attend Little League games, school conferences or band concerts.  Your presence, attention, and availability mean so much!

GIVE THEM “ROOTS AND WINGS” – Children need to try new things. You may think an idea they have will bomb, but they need the opportunity to try, and to learn from the experience.  Supportive family “roots” will soften the fall or give them a stable place to land.  You might be surprised how many times they succeed!

BALANCE INDIVIDUALITY WITH ABSOLUTES – Each child is unique, and not necessarily a clone of you. Celebrate individual strengths and try to see life from your child’s perspective, showing respect for their personal preferences and fears.  At the same time, you must operate from the strength of your convictions.  Children need security of unmovable boundaries and guidelines for behavior.  It’s okay to prefer playing the violin to playing baseball, but it’s not okay to treat others with disrespect.

HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE – Children want to do what’s right and be