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Keep Your Marriage Emotionally HOT: SheKnows.com

It’s easy for couple’s emotional connection can get lost in the busyness of life. I recently interviewed for this SheKnows article with tips on how to keep your emotional relationship sizzling! Here’s a snippet of my advice…

Hanks also recommends that couples “check in” with each other on a daily basis. “Develop a daily emotional ‘check in’ ritual with your spouse or partner,” she explains. “Not only check in with their overall emotions, but specifically about your emotional connection. Do you feel close and open? Distant and withdrawn? Or somewhere in between?”

Read Stay Connected: Keep Your Marriage Emotionally HOT!

Ask Julie: How do I get hubby to turn off his cell phone?

Ask Julie: How do I get hubby to turn off his cell phone?

Q: “My big question is how do you tell your spouse to turn off his cell phone?

I am a stay-at-home mom so as soon as hubby gets home from work, my mouth keeps going
about my day, then the cell phone rings, but he has to take the call
because that is our income. So what do you do? He has to take the call
no matter what time of day because it could mean more money for us,
but wow, I want him to listen to me. What do I do?”

A: The goal is really less about getting him to turn off his phone, but more about helping him to hear your longing to be closer to him.

The good news is that you’re still trying to figure out how to get your husband’s full attention and to let him know how much you’ve missed him during the day.  My guess is that you’re husband has no idea how much you need him, how much you miss him, and how you look forward to reconnecting with him when he arrives home.  The goal is really less about getting him to turn off his phone, but more about understanding your heart and your longing to be closer to him.

As you approach this touchy subject with your husband make sure that your goal is not to control his behavior but to deepen your understanding of one another.  Complaining and criticizing rarely get you what you want and often backfire by creating more disconnection.  Ask yourself how you’re doing in really getting his heart about the burden and responsibility he feels in providing for your family in an uncertain economy. What is it like for him to feel so much pressure to be immediately available to his clients, employees, or whatever the case may be even when he’s not at work.

Here’s a great formula for expressing yourself in a kind, clear, and direct way.

I feel _____________________ (your emotion)

when you __________________(his specific behavior)

because I think ______________ (your thought).

It would mean a lot to me if _____________________ (your requested behavior change).

Try something like “I feel sad and scared when you take phone calls while I’m talking to you because I think that I’m not important to you. It would mean a lot to me if you would turn off the phone for 20 mins. right when you get home so I can touch base with you and have your full attention. When you’re gone at work I really miss you. I appreciate how hard you work to provide for our family.”

Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is a licensed therapist, self & relationship expert, media contributor, and director of Wasatch Family Therapy.  Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com for individual, couple, family, & group counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family. Listen to Julie’s podcast You and Yours on the Women’s Information Network (The Win), and hear Julie every Monday morning at 7AM on B98.7!

How To Stop Overreacting & Keep Your Cool: Studio 5

Over-reacting is when your emotional response doesn’t match the current relationship situation. There are general types two kinds of overreactions: external and internal. External overreactions are visible responses that others can see. For example lashing out in anger, throwing your hands up and walking away from a situation.  Internal overreactions are emotional responses that remain inside of you that others may or may not be aware of.  Examples of internal overreactions are replaying over a situation over and over in your head wondering if you said the right thing, or overanalyzing a comment made by a friend or loved one.

In her book “Stop Overreacting” author Dr. Judith P. Siegel suggests asking yourself the following questions to assess whether you or not you have a problem with overreacting:

Do you often:

  • Regret things you say in the heat of emotion?
  • Lash out at loved ones?
  • Have to apologize to others for your actions or words?
  • Feel surprised at your seemingly uncontrollable reactions?
  • Assume the worst about people and situations?
  • Withdraw when things get emotionally overwhelming?

Dr. Siegel also identifies 4 general triggers for emotional overreactions:

  • Envy – when someone gets something we want and we think we deserve
  • Rejection – humans are hard-wired to need connection and inclusion with others and exclusion triggers same brain receptors as physical pain.
  • Criticism – universal need to be approved of and accepted
  • Control – desire to get what we want and protect what’s important to us

How to stop overreacting:

1-Don’t neglect the basics

Sleep deprivation, going too long without food or water, and feeling overly stressed leave your mind and body vulnerable to exaggerated responses. This seems like a no-brainer, but for many women in the name of “taking care of others” they let their own basic self-care slip and ironically, it is their loved ones who are likely to end up on the receiving end of their emotional overreaction.

2-Tune in & name it

A stiff neck, pit in stomach, pounding heart, tense muscles can all be signs that you’re in danger of overreacting, of being hijacked by your emotions. Becoming more aware of physical cues actually helps you to stay ahead of, and in control of your response. Naming your feeling activate both sides of your brain allowing you to reflect on your situation instead of just reacting to it.

Recently, my teen daughter was expressing some intense hurt feelings about our relationship. While she was talking, I noticed a hot feeling rising in my stomach, and defensive thoughts.  Tuning in to my own body allowed me to slow down my own response so I could hear what she was saying and respond calmly.

3-Breathe before responding

When you feel like flying off the handle take a deep breath. Deep breathing slows down your fight or flight response and allows you to calm your nervous system and choose a more thoughtful and productive response.

Try taking a deep breath next time someone cuts you off in traffic. In my recent Facebook poll, overreacting while driving was the most commonly cited scenario for overreacting. Just imagine if all drivers took a breath before responding making hand-gestures, or yelling obscenities, the world would be a kinder place.

4-Put a positive spin on it

Once you’ve identified what’s going on in your body, you can intervene in your thoughts. When we have intense emotions it’s easy to go to a worst-case scenario as an explanation for whatever you’re reacting to. “They’ve never liked me” or “She always criticizes me”. Watch for all-or-nothing words like “always” and “never” as clues that you’re heading toward a worst-case scenario.

If someone offends you consider the possibility that the insult is not about you. Maybe the neighbor who snapped at you was just given a pay cut at work and feeling discouraged, or the person who cut you off in traffic is rushing to the hospital to see the birth of his first child. Make up a back-story that makes sense and puts a positive spin about whatever is triggering your emotional response.

5-Identify and resolve emotional “leftovers”

Notice patterns in your overreactions. If you find yourself revisiting a feeling or situation over and over again, there is likely a historical component to it that is being triggered that needs to be addressed.

In my therapy practice, I worked with beautiful, smart women who often became tearful and depressed when she heard about friends getting together without her.  She felt extremely insecure and rejected.  Her heightened sensitivity to being excluded by other women in her neighbor, even though she had many friends and was usually included in social gatherings was fueled by emotional “leftovers” in her past. She felt emotionally abandoned by her parents, ostracized by peers when she was young, which heightened her sensitivity to rejection as an adult. Through therapy I helped her to heal the earlier relationship wounds so she can be free to respond more clearly to present social situations.

Not all intense responses are overreactions

It’s important to note that not all intense emotional responses are overreactions. The distinction is whether your response matches the situation. In some instances, a quick and extreme response is necessary to protect our loved ones or ourselves.  I recall a time years ago when my oldest child son was a toddler riding his trike down the street. He was riding ahead of me because I was pregnant and a lot slower than usual. As I noticed a car slowing backing out of a driveway as my son was approaching the driveway I found myself sprinting toward the car, screaming at the top of my lungs with arms flailing frantically as I tried to get the driver’s attention and avoid a horrible tragedy. Luckily, the driver noticed me and stopped her car just short of my son. My exaggerated response was necessary to save his life and was not an overreaction.

Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is a therapist, self & relationship expert, media contributor, and director of Wasatch Family Therapy.  Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com for individual, couple, family, & group counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family. We treat mental health and relationship problems in children, adolescents, and adults.

Improving Communication Handouts – Plain City

Thanks for a wonderful evening discussing way we can better share our hearts with our loved ones. I’m still working on the handouts so I’ll post that tomorrow.

Remember…

Your spouse, friend, family member is doing what they can to maintain important relationships, even when it feels like they’re pushing you away.

Keep in mind that below the surface we all need to feel safe, connected, loved, valued, appreciated, and “seen”.

Handouts

Click here for workshop handout

Music

Buy Masterpiece CD on DeseretBook.com

Julie de Azevedo

Download Masterpiece CD on iTunes.com

Counseling

Find out more about my therapy practice

Get more marriage and family relationship advice

Watch KSL TV Segments

Music Video

I’d love your feedback about the workshop. Please post comments below.

Gifts of Self: All he wants for Christmas is you: LDW Magazine

All He Wants for Christmas is You

I’m thrilled that Latter-day Woman Magazine invited me to write their “Love” article in their newly published Winter 2010 issue…

“Finding the perfect gift for your spouse is an exciting part of the holiday season. But fighting crowds to snag one of the latest must-have items and squeezing money out of a tight budget can make gift-giving stressful. While I wouldn’t mind a new iPad under the tree this year, (listening, Santa?) the best gifts are those that don’t require money, but require thought and time and emotional awareness.”

Read my tips on giving meaningful gifts of self…

Read Article online

Download PDF

What are you giving your spouse for Christmas?
What’s been the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received, and why?

Interview in WomansDay.com article on handling nosy friends & family

Peer pressure doesn’t end in High School. Questions like “When are you getting engaged?”, “When are you two getting married?” or “You’re not going to work after you have your baby, are you?” can be stressful, especially when coming from those you love. Read my advice with readers on how to handle those nosy neighbors, family and friends. 

Read WomansDay.com article “How to handle relationship questions gracefully” HERE


Boost Your Emotional Energy: Studio 5

Boost Your Emotional Energy

 


Do you wish that you had more energy? I do. I often look at my three year old who jumps out of bed with boundless energy, excited to face the adventure of the day, with envy. Unlike my three-year-old daughter, who has relatively few worries and concerns, I have many potential concerns that can drain emotional energy. Life transitions, grief and loss, mental or physical illness, stress, and relationship distress can all take a toll on emotional energy.

Energy is defined as a usable power source. “E”motions are “energy in motion”, propelling us to move in certain directions. More than mere physical energy; emotions provide a deeper, internal energy source. We’re talking today about how to use emotional energy as a power source and how to boost our emotional energy. According to therapist and researcher Mira Kirshenbaum, emotional energy is, “an aliveness of the mind, a happiness of the heart, and a spirit filled with hope.”

Tips for boosting your emotional energy:

Pursue your passions

What gets you excited about life? What do you look forward to? What emotionally energizes you? Dream big! Passion is a life compass, pointing you to your unique strengths and life purpose. Being involved in your passions refuels your emotional energy. When my sister Rachel Coleman’s daughter was born profoundly deaf, Rachel, along with our sister Emilie Brown, started producing Signing Time! DVDs designed to improve the communication of all children by teaching American Sign Language. Their passion is infectious and has inspired many families throughout the world.

Live on purpose

What is your life about? What is your greater purpose? How are you making a difference for others? Having a purpose greater than your own life is energizing and can even transcend physical health problems and chronic illness. A wonderful example of this purpose is the well-known actor Christopher Reeves. After being thrown off of a horse, he became quadriplegic and he dedicated the remainder of his life to advocating for research and life enhancement for individuals with spinal cord injuries.

Just say “no”

Do I want to do this? Does this feel emotionally energizing or emotionally draining? What you want matters. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. If you find yourself doing things just to please others, to avoid guilt, or because you think you “should”, you may be unnecessarily draining your emotional reserves. Resentment is a helpful clue that you need to put “no” back into your vocabulary, and start being more selective about what you commit to. Distance from draining people

Guard your emotional reserves by being selective about who you spend time with and who you listen to. Just as joy can be contagious, negativity of others can seep into your emotional space and drain you. If you notice any of these chronic patterns, consider taking a step back and reflecting on your relationship. Complaining, blaming, belittling, gossiping, demanding, rigid rules, and excessive neediness are a few examples of draining relationship patterns.

Invest in important relationships

We are all born to connect with others. It’s necessary for our very survival. Close relationships can emotionally energize you like nothing else in the world. Prioritize the relationships that feed your soul, and take care of your intimate family relationships above all others. Take time to connect with your loved ones, and to let them know on a regular basis how much you value them.

Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. ~Swedish Proverb

It is in the shelter of each other that people live ~ Irish Proverb

Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women’s mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com to learn more about counseling services, workshops, & classes. Visit www.drjuliehanks.com for more inspiration on how to let your best self shine!

What do YOU do to boost your emotional energy? Comment below (your email will not be made public) 🙂

What to say when: Tips for surviving sticky social situations

If you ever find yourself at a loss for words in awkward social situations watch this segment. Here are some helpful phrases to add to your relationship repertoire!

 

 Sticky Social Situation  Example  Try Saying This
 You’re asked to do something you don’t want to do and it’s hard to say “no”.  An extended family member informs you that they are staying with you over Spring Break and you already have a full house.  “That’s just not going to work for me.” 
 You’re feeling pressured to answer on the spot.  A friend asks you about your recent marital separation in the company of others.  “Let me get back with you on that .” 
 You’re asked about someone else’s personal life  Your neighbor asks you about details of your best friend’s financial problems.  “That’s a good question to ask her/him.” 
 You’re in a heated debate or disagreement.  You and your spouse get in a no-win debate about whose fault that you were late for an important event.  “We can think different things and still be friends.” 
 Someone is expressing intense emotion about you directly to you.  Your toddler screams in the grocery store, “I hate you, mommy!”  “Wow! You’re really (feeling word) at me.” 
 You want to make a difficult request of someone else.  Your mother-in-law frequently gives unsolicited parenting, cooking, weight loss advice and you want her to only give advice when you ask for it.  “It would mean a lot to me if (your request).”