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Just My Opinion
Real Talk on Real Relationships
By John Meddling
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 John Meddling
All rights reserved.
Effective Communication Dispels Misconceptions
It takes a lot of hard work to get a relationship running like a "well oiled machine." But this work involves first identifying the many misconceptions about relationships — and then learning how to communicate effectively. A misconception is when a thing or matter is wrongly understood or interpreted. Everyone comes into a relationship with their own set of do's and don'ts that they believe to be absolutes for making a relationship great. But what happens when what we believe to be correct turns out to be a flawed understanding or a misinterpretation of a truth? Chaos is what happens! So in this chapter I will cover the many common myths that people often bring into relationships. But my initial focus will be on the importance of developing good communication skills.
Misconceptions about what a relationship requires cause problems because it hinders the ability to communicate effectively one another's expectations. If there is an issue between two people — there has to be an understanding of how they're going to resolve it. But how can an issue be resolve if each individual believe that what they have as a resolution is the real answer? And what if their resolution is a flawed interpretation?
This creates the first aspect of effective communication. First, establish that you are not going to disrespect one another when expressing your differences. Secondly, you are not going to yell at one another and thirdly, that you will listen to the other person without interrupting. These are the initial steps in communicating effectively. Often couples approach talking with one another about adverse issues as a debate and not a conversation. To add to that, each person presents a preconceived version of the reality of what's going on between them. The issue with the preconceived version is that one's version or belief system may not necessarily be grounded in truth. Now, communication becomes impossible because both people are on different pages in determining what's really going on between them. Couples must keep in mind that it's not about being right or wrong, but to establish a working understanding so that the relationship can grow.
The purpose of effective communication is to determine where the real problem lies — especially in cases where there are differences of opinions of what the problem is. A couple has to determine apart from what "one person" believes — but rather what they as a "couple" have agree upon in determining the real issue. Communication involves the collaboration of two people as they share and examine all of their perceptions, feelings, ideas and thoughts in order to come to an accurate understanding of what's needed and expected in the relationship.
Steps to effective communication:
1. Be quiet and listen: Set aside your point, and don't worry that you won't be heard immediately.
2. Discipline yourself to hear: Periodically, repeat back what your mate is saying to you — to assure them that you're "hearing" them, and not just waiting your turn to talk.
3. Be honest with your partner: Allow yourself to be vulnerable by expressing out of you heart — even if it involves you sharing things you've not told anyone else. Be truthful and do not fear consequences because after all — this is your mate and in this moment, you are establishing a bond.
4. Pay attention to body language: Most of our communication is through our expressions and body movement — which includes eye contact, tone of voice, voice in fluctuation and the physical distance between you. Other signs have profound meaning too such as:
A. Folded arms in front of a person may mean they're feeling defensive or closed off.
B. Lack of eye contact may mean they're not really interested in what you're saying, are ashamed of something, or find it difficult to talk about something.
C. Louder, more aggressive tone may mean the person is escalating the discussion and is becoming very emotionally involved. It might also suggest they feel like they're not being heard or understood.
D. Someone who's turned away from you when talking to you may mean disinterest or being closed off.
5. Stay on topic: Sometimes discussions will turn into arguments because people get off the topic and start discussing other heated things not relevant to the issue at hand. So stay focus on resolving the main concerns.
It is also crucial to choose the right time to communicate an issue that has the potential to be heated. If your mate is angry with you or you with them — give a little space to calm down if possible. I know realistically speaking that sometimes matters need to be dealt with immediately, but keep in mind the whole purpose behind effective communication is to come to a resolve. There will be no resolve if someone is "hot-headed." Also, if your mate is busy or involved in something that's requiring their attention — again hold off until they are able to give you their undivided attention. Last but not least — always be respectful and considerate of your mate's space when they're occupied.
In the next section of this chapter, we will explore 10 common myths about relationships that I hope will rid you of these hindering misconceptions.
Myth # 1 When My Mate Changes — The Relationship Will Be Better
Too often people feel that their mates are the reason that the relationship is far from ideal — but rarely see themselves as being a part of the equation. In their own mind they see themselves as the perfect person. I'm reminded of a minister friend of mine telling me that because he had grown up in a two parent home where both parents were preachers that he was a better communicator in his relationship than his girlfriend. His girlfriend on the other hand came from a broken home where she was raised by a single parent. My friend felt that he was emotionally and more spiritually grounded than his girlfriend which made him feel superior to her. He also felt that he had a better grasp on how to make "their" relationship work because of his up-bringing. But what my friend failed to see is that a relationship is never about one person being better than the other, but rather two people developing the best in one another.
If a person goes into a relationship thinking that they are better or superior to their partner — it's already doomed for failure. From a psychological aspect, what does that say about the mentality of the person who has to get with someone who they feel are inferior to them? It suggests to me from years of observing people — that the person who couple with someone who is perceivably inferior to them in a relationship have their own insecurities. The person who feels that they have to usurp authority over another, in my opinion, is masquerading a subconscious need to be in charge or in control. This person feels empowered only when he or she is calling the shots. Realistically speaking — no one is completely in charge of situations and circumstances that arises in a relationship. Nor are we able to control the lives and circumstances of others. Life will present many challenges that we have no control over. Furthermore, a healthy relationship is never about one person being in control, but how two people work harmoniously to achieve the same goal.
Just because my friend grew up in a seemingly functional household does not mean that he's without flaws and dysfunction. How often do we hear of these most horrendous crimes where the criminal grew up in the perfect household with educated parents who provided financial and emotional stability? Too often! But the same can also be said about the criminal who grew up in a home where they were emotionally abused and financially deprived. On either side of the coin — a bad or good up bringing doesn't automatically determine how one is going to be in a relationship. So it's not about fixing or changing your partner into who you want them to be in order to have a better relationship — but excepting the differences and focusing on one another strengths. And if your differences are irreconcilable and you just can't agree on core issues — then you may be with the wrong person. It would appear to me that if a person is so at odds with their mate and they feel that their mate is the one with the issues — then this may simply be a situation of being incompatible. In such cases, you may consider moving on and finding someone whose values and core convictions are closer to your own. See Chapter 9. Chemistry or Compatibility — Which is Most Important?
What I have learned is that we cannot change anyone if they feel that they have it all together — it would be a waste of our time to expect anything differently. If your relationship is strained because of your personal feelings about something your mate is doing or not doing — then the most important person for you to change might be yourself.
Myth # 2 Couples Must Think the Same
When we are born into this world we come with our own set of personalities. Even identical twins have their differences and individuality. So to think that you will meet someone who has your exact perspectives on life is a terrible misconception. That person simply does not exist in this reality. Men and women are genetically and emotionally wired differently and we cannot easily see one another views and agree readily. You will never see things through your partner's eyes because you are entirely two different people. You do not know all the history that has caused them to form their opinion about the world. And considering that you and your mate don't share the same history — you cannot solve your relationship issues by merely thinking the same. If both people were somehow able to think exactly the same — one of you would become unnecessary.
Think about when you first met your mate and how exciting it was learning that new person. It was like reading a good mystery novel that you just couldn't put down. Your every thought throughout the day was about getting back to this new mystery person. In the beginning, you even adored your mates little flaws and saw them as his or hers signature. You had no real interest in changing or correcting their little mistakes — you simply accepted them just as they were. But as time passed and you live together you began to see every little fault — and those tiny imperfections that you once adored now gets under your skin like a razor blade under a fingernail. Now you're beginning to wonder how you can cunningly get your mate to see and do things in a better way — and by better way meaning — YOUR WAY!
But it's not necessary to change anything about your mate — because your mate is the same person you adored when you first met them. Take into consideration that the only changes that have been made — may only be in YOU! Your tolerance level for your partner's differences has probably waned or lowered. It's not that your mate needs to think more like you — it's just that you must go back to that place in your heart and mind to when you emphatically loved and appreciated the differences between the two of you.
And if indeed your partner has changed — allow yourself to go back to being curious about your mate like you were in the beginning — by observing them and re-appreciating these changes. Often hormonal changes takes place in both men and women after reaching a certain age that will affect behavior. Time changes all of us and our likes sometimes becomes dislikes and preferences become non preferences. Changes can be exciting and exhilarating when accepted. Look for the similarities between you and your mate, because just as couples grow in differences — they also grow in similarities. Couples often unconsciously adopt one another habits — likes and dislikes. And often unbeknown to them they become more alike than they are different. But by staying curious about your mate help you enjoy and appreciate the differences or changes that have happened in the relationship.
Lastly, find the humor in your differences and laugh about it with your mate. Reminisce of when the two of you met and the crazy things that you once did together — but now find those things silly. Laugh about it and appreciate the growth and changes that both of you have made over the years. Even if you do not like the differences or changes — understand that those differences and changes are not going away — they are inevitable. This will keep you light-hearted and will put a staple in your love as well as keep you in a respectful mindset towards your mate. Respect is always paramount in every relationship. A relationship is far more enjoyable when you're with someone who enriches your life, and who don't simply reflect it. So enjoy the differences!
"When we judge, we leave no room for love" — Mother Teresa
Myth # 3 If We Are Really in Love — It Should Be Easy
The love that a mother has for her child is probably one of the strongest loves on earth. But the turmoil that a woman's body and emotions go through to bring that beautiful child into the world is so worth it — because if it wasn't, you or I would not be here to witness this truth. So what I am saying is that old cliché "anything worth having is worth fighting for." The same is true in relationships. The fact that you're in love — automatically invites struggles into your relationship. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a couples' love just because things are not going easy. Struggle is the hallmark of any successful relationship. We come into this world kicking and screaming because it is a part of our survival instincts — and every good relationship must endure some kicking and screaming in order to survive. And it is NOT easy!
If your struggles are over not liking the same activities, then join the crowd. Just because you don't enjoy the same activities as your mate, doesn't mean that the two of you are incompatible — it simply means that you have different interests. And this can be a big plus for a relationship because if addressed properly, can promote a greater bond and more spontaneity. Allow me to share with you my personal experience:
Several years ago I dated a woman who loved clubbing, dancing and the whole night life thing. I personally did not care for the night life because with her it involved the club scene in which I was not a big fan of because I was a terrible dancer and did not like crowded places where people were drinking. But her birthday was coming up and she had already hinted to me where she wanted to go for her birthday. And yes, she wanted to go to this new club in Buckhead in Atlanta GA. I knew that I could not let her down as I pretended to not get the hint she was giving. I did not want to come off as being a boring homebody or as "Johnny Do Nothing," so I started watching You Tube videos on club dancing — hoping to morph from having two left feet into a decent dancer.
I practice dancing with the videos several times a day for three dreading weeks. Well, the night had come for her big surprise because my girlfriend at the time did not think I would even consider taking her to a club to dance. And though I had practice for three long weeks — I was no more coordinated than the day I began practicing.
Excerpted from Just My Opinion by John Meddling. Copyright © 2015 John Meddling. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Communication & Common Relationship Myths,
Chapter 1 Effective Communication Dispels Misconceptions, 1,
Real Talk on Real Relationships,
Chapter 2 Things That Turn Guys Off, 30,
Chapter 3 Why Do Men Get Married?, 35,
Chapter 4 Married, But Attracted to Someone Else, 41,
Chapter 5 Why People Cheat In Relationships, 44,
Chapter 6 Maintaining Your Identity in Relationships, 53,
Chapter 7 Deadbeat Sex — How To Spice It Up, 57,
Chapter 8 Being Spontaneous (Elevator Music), 62,
Chapter 9 How To Know When To Marry, 70,
Chapter 10 Outside Ex's & Friends Becoming Inside Enemies, 74,
Chapter 11 Chemistry or Compatibility- Which is Most Important?, 78,
Chapter 12 Heat Wave (How To Close A Deal), 82,
Chapter 13 Justin's Story: Infidelity — The Bubble of Deception, 85,
Chapter 14 Things To Do In Preparing To Meet Your Mate, 95,
Chapter 15 When Your Relationship Becomes a Burden, 98,
Chapter 16 Fender Bender — How She Got Back In My Life, 101,
Chapter 17 Life After the Break-up, 107,
Chapter 18 Only Time Will Tell ..., 110,
Chapter 19 Is Monogamy Natural for Humans, 120,
Chapter 20 Managing a Long Distance Relationship, 124,
Chapter 21 Things You Shouldn't Do Until Committed, 128,
Chapter 22 Being An Example for Your Kids, 132,
Chapter 23 Relationship Summary from A-Z, 135,