From Dr. Jane's Notebook
Winter doesn’t have to be the coldest season
As April arrives and we begin to emerge from winter, I feel a bit like the
groundhog wanting to peek out from my private world to see what I can see. As
with most winters, the past few months have been hard for many of us. I know
people who have lost their jobs, lost their loved ones, lost their money in the
stock market, and lost their feeling of stability. Times like these shake us
from our comfortable lives and remind us that we are lifelong explorers, often
headed for the unknown. Times like these also remind us not to take love for
- How do you feel about change? All around us, things are constantly
changing. Some changes are predictable, others take us by surprise. Plants
bloom then decay, the weather is rarely the same two days in a row, and
babies seem to turn into children before our very eyes. These changes are
expected and therefore acceptable. But other kinds of changes, such as
changes in relationships, tend to be less acceptable. Fortunately,
there are things you can do!
- With whom do you share your thoughts and feelings? Popular opinion
suggests that men and women communicate differently. While I agree that men
and women may talk and even think differently, this certainly doesn’t mean
that they can’t communicate. It simply means that they have to try harder.
All too often, spouses don’t listen to each other. While one is talking, the
other is cleverly planning their next verbal move. We rationalize this as a
form of highly evolved mind-reading ( "I know what he or she will say")
and soon, the gentle art of communication becomes a form of competition.
Rather than communicate, we lecture each other, we criticize, we employ
history to substantiate our arguments, and when all else fails, we sometimes
intimidate. How different from those multi-hour phone calls and conversations
that occurred while we were dating.
- Do you know how to build a bridge to intimacy? As baby-boomers
increasingly enter the empty-nest stage of marriage, greater numbers of
couples opt for divorce. While mid-life crises were once considered a myth,
they have become increasingly common and challenging. Veteran husband and
Greensboro Marital Therapist, Dr. Robert Herron in his recently published
book, Bridges to Intimacy: Making it through mid-life with your spouse
(2000), describes mid-life as a time when profound shifts happen within our
self and within our souls. In his words, "the greatest gift we can give
to our partner is to listen without imposing our preconceived notions".
As he describes, listening is probably the most difficult task of mid-life
marriage, but it is also the way to create and maintain the "bridge of
intimacy". For those who want to know more, I highly recommend this book.
- Treat your marriage like you treat your home. To me, the ideal home is
both comfortable and flexible on the inside; secure and protective from the
outside. The same may be said of healthy marriages. Spouses and family members
need space to grow within the family, and they need to feel safe and protected
from the outside world. Furthermore, both marriages and homes require daily
care and attention.
In short, we should not be surprised when we see our spouses changing and
growing. Rather, the goals of marriage should be to grow together and encourage
each others’ personal development. The key to lifelong love lies in nurturing
the love and friendship that created your original attraction. The desire for
love, admiration and support are lifelong!
©Copyright, 2001, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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