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


              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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Spend Your Time Wisely

As the new year begins, we often give a lot more thought to things we want to do differently, better, or not at all. Many of us evaluate our calendars and priorities, and I was reminded that several years ago I came across an illustration in a newsletter that I have never forgotten. Karen Ann Bland had submitted this thought-provoking item:

“Imagine you had a bank that each morning credited your account with fourteen hundred forty dollars – under one condition: Whatever amount you failed to spend each day would be removed from your account, and no balance would be carried over.

What would you do? You’d probably withdraw every cent every day and use each one to your best advantage.

Well, you do have such a bank and its name is TIME. Every morning, this bank credits you with fourteen hundred forty minutes. And it writes off as forever lost whatever portion you’ve failed to invest to good purpose. Use your credit wisely!”

Wow! It is a simple, yet profound...

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Merry Christmas!

If you’re reading this blog in the days before Christmas, maybe you have found a quiet moment either before or after a flurry of activity, family gatherings, celebrating and opening gifts. Or maybe your day doesn’t include any of that because you’re not close to your family – whether that’s by physical distance or emotional separation. 

Quiet moments are rare for some of us and “the usual” for others, but either way, they give us opportunity to reflect on the important things in life. In your quiet times, do you think about what you may be missing, or wish you had more – or less – of? Life is meant to be a balance of work and leisure, happiness, and sorrow, expressing and listening, giving, and receiving. Christmas and other holidays tend to magnify these aspects of life – the highs are higher, and the lows are lower. Sometimes people are overwhelmed with difficult emotions like regret, grief, and loneliness. It is not...

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What are You Thankful For?

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday of the year.  I have very fond memories of the many special gatherings my family has celebrated together.  Playing and watching football, catching up on the latest news, and eating until we practically pass out continues to be a part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition.  As is the case for many families, it has also been our tradition to acknowledge the many blessings we experienced throughout the year.

Pausing to reflect on the things and people you are thankful for at Thanksgiving is a great practice, but it’s important to remember how valuable it is to engage in this exercise on a daily basis. When you consistently make space in your life to regularly pause and express gratitude it promotes an attitude of appreciation, optimism, and hopefulness.

The truth is, we too often take for granted the things and people that help to bring happiness...

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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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The Sherlock Strategy: Guaranteed to Improve Communication

Do you want your personal and professional relationships to be stronger and more satisfying? If, like most people, your answer is “of course”, then I want to share a very powerful communication tool that has the potential to transform your relationships.

I refer to this communication tool as the Sherlock Strategy.  Named after the famed detective, this practice of effective inquiry simply involves the ability to ask timely and relevant open-ended questions for the purpose of increasing accurate understanding of another person’s thoughts, feelings, and needs.  The great Sherlock Holmes could always dig past the obvious to see what was really going on. 

Every human being shares a common desire and need to be understood.  Unfortunately, when it comes to our high-stake (most important) relationships we often feel misunderstood, especially when it comes to important and sensitive issues.

When communicating we too often assume we understand what...

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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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