A Bromance Made In Heaven
It's rare that I get to talk to men in the Love Industry about relationships, so having a chance for Melissa and me to sit down with Aaron Anderson was a real treat.
One of my favorite points from our conversation together was when Aaron talked about what happens when we play the Victim Card.
Often when we feel attacked, or guilty, we tend to blame anything and everything under the sun for the circumstances we've created. We'll do anything we can to avoid taking responsibility for our choices... including trying to prove to our partner that the hurt we caused them isn't nearly as bad as they hurts they've caused us.
John Gottman calls this Cross Complaining.
I like Aaron's term better...
The Victim Olympics
The Victim Olympics is a contest we create between ourselves and our parter. The winner of The Victim Olympics is the person who can prove they've been wronged and hurt more than their partner.
The result? Not pretty.
Nothing positive or productive is accomplished.
The only result is more pain and frustration.
Does this sound familiar?
A great solution that kicks playing The Victim Olympics' butt is learning to be a generous listener.
Being a generous listener means that you shut your mouth and listen when your partner is complaining. Before responding with a "Yeah but...", try repeating back to them what you heard them say to make sure you understand. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Try to feel their pain. Try to understand what they're going through.
When you listen and begin to practice empathy, it opens the door for a peaceful, loving resolution to be reached.
Stop complaining. Start listening.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the episode! It was a fun one to record!
[jbox title="Show Notes:" border="5" radius="15"] Aaron Anderson is a Marriage and Family Therapist at The Marriage and Family Clinic just outside of Denver, Colorado. You can check out his blog, Relationship RX here or take a look at the stuff he's written on The Good Men Project. He's one of my favorites.
- Most couples come in and say, "We have problems communicating." But communication typically isn't really the real reason for marriages that are struggling. There's typically something else going on in the relationship that's preventing them from having a deeper connection.
- Me TV - Observe how you're showing up, how you're acting, and how you're responding. How is that affecting your relationship?
- Humans are the only animals that can choose how they feel and think about and choose how to react.
- Being a genuine, generous listener is what makes the biggest difference in conflict.
- The importance of coming into a relationship "whole." What does it mean to be relationship ready? (15m)
- Butterflies is not a good reason to marry someone.
- You have more power in your relationship than you give yourself credit for! (17m)
- Focus on yourself instead of your partner. Your happiness depends on you and how you treat yourself, not how your partner shows up for you.
- Don't create the Victim Olympics to try to find out which partner is the one who is the most hurt! (21m)
- There are two types of people... those who take on too much responsibility and those who don't take on enough responsibility.
- The best queue to the quality of your relationship is how your spouse is showing up, reacting, and responding to you.
- Relationships are a healing ground. They show us what our weaknesses are, and how we can grow and become better people.
- Not getting divorced does not mean you have a good relationship.
- Your relationship is just as important as your job, your car, your house, or anything else that requires training and maintenance. Invest in your relationship like you invest in your car (gas, oil changes, wiper blades = date night, read a book together, spend time together). (30m)
- Relationship maintenance = Rekindle the spark
- There's more than one person you can marry and be happy with. But that doesn't mean just marrying 1 person is a mistake. (37m)
- What do you think are good grounds for divorce? (41m)
- There's a difference between saying "My spouse won't change." and "I'm not patient enough to wait for my spouse to change."
- "If my spouse changes, I'll divorce him." - Do you want your 50-year-old husband to act like he's 20? People are supposed to change. (45m)
- What's your definition of love? (46m)
- Where do babies come from?... ok, but really, do kids improve marriages? (48m)
- Short term, having a kid really negatively affects marriage. Over the long-term, kids have a more positive affect on marriage.
- Being a good parent is not the same as being a good spouse.
- What advice would you give to men who want to be good husbands and boyfriends? (51m)
- A real man does what he has to do to be a man... including being emotional and connected with your wife and kids.
- Criticizing boys for being emotional, and sensitive, then being shocked when they become husbands and fathers who aren't in touch with their emotions. (55m)
- Where Have All The Good Men Gone? -Post by Aaron on the conflicting messages we send to men.