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Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Relationship Author's Advice For A Happy Valentine’s Day
New Book Says Couples Should Follow The 72-Hour Rule For Arguing
have a successful relationship, both partners must adhere to the 72-hour rule,”
says marriage therapist Dr. Margot E. Brown.
“This means that, from this moment forward, they are only allowed to
talk about the upsetting behavior or situation if it had happened in the past
often, couples bring up the past and it inserts itself negatively between the
partners. If only there were a way to
fast forward and put enough distance from the past to the present.
the past and your conclusion as to what negative impression you have about how
your partner keeps doing that same behavior,” says Dr. Brown, author of
Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On or Move Out! “Make today a new and fresh day –
free of agendas – just this conversation at this moment. Try it as an experiment. The goal is to focus right on what you are
thinking and feeling now. When your
partner starts talking to you (and you are both facing each other, not doing
something else with your back to each other), tell your partner what you heard,
how you feel, and what you need, right now!
You have nothing to lose except perhaps a large and looming past that
always comes between you every time you sit down and talk.”
couples can abide by the rule, they can bury the hatchet on the past and permit
themselves to only focus on the present.
It’s like a statute of limitations for crimes, only this applies to
suggests these key steps be followed by both partners:
blaming each other about the past. Stay
in the now.
your own needs/wants clearly but without blame.
attention, monitor yourself, and examine your own thoughts and feelings during
the information exchange.
your thoughts and feelings in a direct but non-threatening way to your partner.
you feel tense, agree to take a 20-minute break and to come back to finish the
acknowledgement, not necessarily agreement.
the discussion successfully (without misinterpreting, making false assumptions,
speaking with raised voices, and having full-blown arguments/fights that cycle
to nowhere except more pain).
couples learn the technique of staying in the present while talking about the
past, then they can talk about anything with a successful outcome,” says Dr.
Brown. “Staying grounded in the present
means being able to talk about a past hurt or unresolved problem but describe
what you think and feel right
Brown, who is represented to the media by Media Connect, the PR firm I work
for, is quite interesting to listen to. Here is a Q & A with the
suggests that one can recharge or kick-start their relationship. How does one
do that? First,
it is most important that at least one person in the relationship (preferably
both) really is motivated and desires positive change, and are willing to do
the work. HOW? By admitting their part of the relationship that has NOT worked
(own their stuff). Second, they should no longer look to their partner to make
it right, or assume it is all the other person’s fault that they are in this
mess. Third, read my book – one page at a time if necessary. Talk about what they read, do an exercise
together and talk about the exercise, continue talking about what they think
and feel and how it feels to do it together. Basically, kick starting anything
is about doing it differently. So if you keep doing and saying and thinking and
expecting the same ole’ same ole’ why would you expect different results?
2.The subtitle is
provocative—“Move On, or Move Out.” Yes it is and I love it because it has different
layers to it. It might have various meanings to the reader. For example: “Move
On” might mean moving on within themselves, getting unstuck in their
negative perception, or making small and large changes in themselves. It might mean moving on in life with their
partner (or without). It might mean Move on from the little sticking points
that makes them feel stuck and do not work in the relationship. Whatever the reader interprets by these two
words---the answer is that THEY HAVE TO DO SOMETHING either within themselves
or externally as a result of their internal changes. “Move Out” might mean moving out
physically as a result of these changes. A person might decide to move out if
they refuse to own their “stuff” and their part of the couple dance. Or, they
might decide to move out if their partner is unwilling to participate in the
positive change (that is not an automatic decision), or if they feel that have
nothing left to give or energy to keep trying. Moving out might also be a
positive conclusion from all of the hard work/effort that the partner who
wanted something different (and after looking within)…decided moving out was
the right answer for them. So, you can see it is a simple statement with
suggest that couples employ what you call “The 72-Hour Rule.” What is that and
how should it be used? “The 72-Hour Rule” is my solution to couples who
blame each other – especially about the past. Every time they bring up
something from months and years ago, it is building a huge wall between them.
The 72-Hour Rule, is a tool in both language and in time. First, the language
must be HERE and NOW. So you would not say, “I’ve told you this 19,000 times
before!” That refers to the past, it is parental, it is shaming, and it is abusive.
So, the key is to bring the language of the couple back to now. What are they
thinking and feeling and experiencing NOW (then communicate that to their
partner). The second part of the answer is that, in addition to language that
refers to time, THE 72-Hour Rule
indicates that if some interaction between you and your partner did not sit
well with you, then there is a real time line as to when you can bring that up
to talk about it. So it challenges you to pick and choose your battles wisely. If
you are upset about something, but decide that it really isn’t worth bringing
up in conversation to state your worries within the first 72 hours, the rule
says you should let it go. You cannot stew in it; you chose not to talk about
it, so you have to let it float away. If it’s a topic you cannot let go, then
you bring it up within 72 hours of the event and talk about it openly even if
it feels silly.
4.As a Licensed
Marriage Family Therapist for many years, you’ve helped thousands of people.
What did you find to be a pattern as for what couples argue about? A)
Communication skills - One partner
feeling unacknowledged or unnoticed
B) Money - different styles of spending, saving, sharing.
C) Sex (lack of it, different libidos for each partner).
D) Affairs (one-time, long-term, cybersex etc.)
someone do if they feel stuck in a relationship? There are so
many answers. Always my hope is that it is a high functioning, safe
relationship and that we are NOT talking about Domestic Violence. However, if
it is your normal usual, feeling stuck in a relationship…. I would really sit
down by yourself for about 45 minutes and ask yourself some questions: Why do
you think you are stuck? Have you done this in other relationships? How do you
cope with being stuck (angry, depressed, anxious, etc.)? Do you blame your
partner? Do you blame yourself? Once you have “checked in with yourself”, now
you are ready to have a conversation with your partner. This could be anxiety
producing, but extremely rewarding. However, first you have to practice over
and over (when you are alone), out loud to hear yourself say, “Joe, I would
like to set aside some time to talk. I want to know when you can talk, can you
do it now? Or is Saturday better?,,,,”. The KEY HERE IS to pick a time when
your partner is not rushing out the door. I would discourage anyone from
thinking it through and practicing in front of the mirror, then as soon as your
spouse walks in you say, “Let’s talk and blurt it out.” Remember that you have
been thinking about this for a while, whereas your partner may be taken by
surprise.” You have to couch it in love and friendship and respect. You have to
talk to him/her like you were their best friend and you are delivering some
painful news. For example: “This is difficult for me to say, but you look
unhappy, I know I am unhappy and I want to talk with you to figure out what we
can do to make it better.”
6.What role do
secrets, sex and money play in one’s marriage? Secrets about
money or about sex are indicators of blockages and lack of intimacy. At some
core level, there is a dishonesty. If you are married or in a committed
relationship, it is vital that your foundation is built on honesty and respect.
Anything less is doomed. If you aren’t getting what you need and you don’t
communicate that, then you are adding mud to your 300-foot high wall of mud and
brick that separates you from each other.
It takes two to cause a problem but what
happens when one member of a couple routinely blames the other for unhappiness?
is a major (although common) problem in couples. The reason I say major, is
because it goes back to everything I have previously stated. If one person is seeking
the answer to their needs from everything externally such as their spouse to do
more for them, do it right instead of wrong, do this, do that,…it is never good
enough. They constantly see only the
other person’s role, and not their own. They point the finger at the other
person. Then, there is no room for
growth in this marriage because it is the “blame game.” It is a deep-rooted
cycle of communication, a habit, and it is shallow. Every argument is a repeat
of the one before. The one who is blamed either retreats and the blamer gets
louder and complains: “Why do I have to be the one who always has to point out
what’s wrong with our relationship?” “How come you never talk anymore, I talk,
then you agree and then nothing changes.” In this manner, the blamer
conveniently (consciously and subconsciously) does not see their role, they do
not own their role and they do not want to face the fact that they too are a
participant in this negative cyclical dance of blame. So as it continues, the
blamed partner becomes more avoidant and silent. Possibly, that too might
change after a long time and then they get so exasperated they join in on the
fight and the fighting escalates to an entirely more intense level then in