Relate Well! Blog

Addressing the all-important and often perplexing topics and issues related to enhancing your personal growth and professional development

How Your Past Can Impact Your Marriage

Remember the old jump rope jingle?

              Tommy and Suzy sitting in a tree

              K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

              First comes love, then comes marriage,

              Then comes Suzy with a baby carriage!

We usually inserted the names of a boy and a girl we knew and used this rhyme as a way of embarrassing them; but the point is, it wasn’t that long ago that the sequence of events in the relationship were the norm, and variances were socially unacceptable.

Social climate, perceived standards of morality and priorities have changed a lot since then!  I read some interesting research by Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley that explored how the “new normal” trends have affected the younger...

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The Power of Listening

Q: What do you think is one of the most common complaints expressed in the workplace today?

A: The habit of NOT LISTENING. (Perhaps the title was a good clue!) Poor listening is considered one of the rudest of all office behaviors. After all, the messages you send, whether intended or not, come across loud and clear when you don’t listen or pay attention:

• I don’t care about you.
• I don’t understand you.
• You’re wrong.
• What you have to say isn’t important.
• You’re wasting my time.

Most people don’t realize just how powerful listening can be, and they often miss out on its valuable benefits.

What about you? When someone talks to you at work, are you really attentive? I’m not talking about merely hearing the sound of their words, but truly paying close attention to body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Real listening, the type that produces accurate understanding and empathy, often...

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Getting a Handle on Sibling Rivalry

“Mom, Oliver pulled my doll's head off again!” “I know you are, but what am I?” “Dad, Emily looked at me!” Sound familiar? It does if you have more than one child in your home. Sibling rivalry: A common pattern of negative interaction between children of the same family that dates as far back as the Old Testament and the story of Cain and Abel.

Even though it can make you want to scream and pull your hair out, sibling rivalry is normal and can even be constructive if handled properly. Day to day interactions between siblings and parents help children learn important skills such as problem solving and negotiating and how to develop self-control and an attitude of cooperation. 

Sibling rivalry is typically an outgrowth of a child’s immature attempts to gain their parent’s love, attention, acceptance, and approval. When emotions such as jealousy, envy, and frustration are combined with impulsivity and underdeveloped social...

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Who Apologizes First?

“He started it!” “No, she did!” That’s how a lot of childhood arguments sound, and the common mistake that a lot of parents make is to dig in and try to be the judge so they know who to punish and who to comfort. The trouble is, it doesn’t work well because the issue is rarely black and white, and the parties involved aren’t exactly objective. 

So, what happens when you’re not a child anymore and someone hurts your feelings, says mean things or the inevitable argument breaks out from time to time? We often revert to the conflict management method we learned in childhood – identify the good guy and the bad guy and make sure they get what’s coming to them.

No matter who started it, you can finish it –with an apology. I understand there are exceptional situations where one person truly violates another, but most of our day-to-day conflicts are made up of small offenses on both sides.

A genuine, effective apology...

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Simple Arithmetic = A Better Life!

Is your life perfect just the way it is? If so, you can stop reading now.  However, if you’re normal there’s probably something that could be better.  Can you put your finger on what you don’t like or are unhappy with? You see, if you can identify what you wish were different, there’s a simple solution – either add or subtract.

The wisdom of the Principle of Addition and Subtraction is revealed in the following statement: If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got.  In other words, if there are things in your life causing you recurrent pain, whatever you’re doing about them apparently isn’t working.  You have to introduce something new or different in order to experience relief.  If you are struggling with your children, marriage, finances, career, communication, health, friendships, etc., something must either be added to or subtracted from your life in order to...

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How to Guarantee Fewer Problems in Your Life

Do you want to experience fewer “problems” in your life?  Great, keep reading.

I was talking with a couple recently, and they consistently used the word “problem” to describe many of the things happening around them.  This situation was a problem, that person is a problem, etc.  Their words sounded as though life was heavy and frustrating and they felt helpless and hopeless.   As I listened, I was reminded of how the words we choose have such a powerful impact on how we think, feel, and respond to things that happen in our lives – especially things we perceive to be negative or difficult.

I said to the couple, “I want you to consider for a moment that what you have been describing are not really problems, but rather challenges.  No one can avoid life’s challenges, but it is possible to keep them from becoming problems.”  I believe the problems many people experience are in reality challenges that were...

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Real Freedom

As an American I am mindful of the value of being free. When our nation’s founders signed the Declaration of Independence, they were focused on freedom from political and religious tyranny, and I am grateful for their vision and sacrifice. But even though we live in the Land of the Free, we can be held captive by our own tyrants – and sometimes we volunteer for bondage. It may be time to declare independence from one or more of these common captors:

Fear of Rejection – Humans have an inherent need to be accepted and loved. Yes, some are extroverts, and some are introverts so appearances can be deceiving. Extroverts often seem to interact easily with others and their fear of rejection may show up as neediness. Introverts are more likely to withdraw if they’re experiencing fear of rejection, feeling as though it’s safer to avoid contact than to risk it. Free yourself from this fear by remembering that you have intrinsic value that is not based on any...

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The Importance of a Dad

If 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...

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Talking to Your Kids About Financial Difficulties ā€“ Part II

Last time we talked about the importance of including children in discussions about financial difficulties your family may be facing.  Now it’s time to convene the family meeting to discuss your situation, and here are some pointers to get you started.

Prepare in advance – Take time to think about what you want to say. If you are married, discuss the situation without the kids first to make sure you are both on the same page. If you go into the discussion with disagreement, you will likely send conflicting or mixed messages.

Be honest – Tell them how the family is being impacted but strive to find the balance between too much and too little information. 

Set aside plenty of uninterrupted time to talk – Discussion that’s rushed or disjointed makes the situation seem even more stressful. A calm atmosphere will help children believe they will be all right.

Share age-appropriate information using terms they can understand –...

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Talking to Your Kids About Financial Difficulties ā€“ Part 1

Listen to any news outlet or scroll the headlines on your phone – or just take a look at your bank statement – and it’s evident that finances are tough these days. The crunch has affected many major companies, small businesses, banking institutions, manufacturers, and individual households. And if you’re feeling the pressure, you can be sure your children are feeling it, too. 

As a parent, one of your primary roles is to educate your children about how to live in the real world, and money management and problems are about as “real” as it gets. Here are some principles to consider as you enter this vital discussion with your family.

Times Have Changed – It’s Not Your Parents’ World Anymore

Many of today’s parents were raised in homes where discussion of money was “taboo.” Some of us were told that the family finances were none of our business and some were “protected” from...

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