5 ways to get along with your new coworker – your spouse

By Kathryn VaselCNN Business

(CNN) For many couples, a good portion of the week used to be spent apart at their jobs.But with so many people now working from home, partners are getting an inside look at each other’s work lives.
And while you might be comfortable working side-by-side with your co-workers, you may find yourself clamming up when having to make a call with your partner next to you.

“This is the person you are most intimate with in the whole world and you realize there is a domain of their life that you know very little about,” said Jennifer Petriglieri, author of “Couples That Work: How Dual-Career Couples Can Thrive in Love and Work” and a Professor at INSEAD business school.
Here are a few ways to break the tension.

1. Address the elephant in the room

Knowing what your partner does is one thing, but seeing them in action is another.
“We are forced into the intimacy, not just with spouses, but also with kids or whoever else is in the home,” said Karen Bridbord, a psychologist and organizational workplace consultant in New York City.

The first step in making this situation work is to talk about it. Talk about any insecurities you may have whether it’s participating in a video meeting or being eavesdropped on and what you need in terms of a work environment. Then create a schedule and set boundaries when it comes to separating work life and personal life.

“Have a more general conversation about concerns: what are you worried about vis-à-vis work — your partner seeing you work being one of those — and why you worry about them,” said Petriglieri.

By keeping your concerns as part of a bigger conversation, you’re more likely to evoke empathy from the partner which will help negotiate boundaries, she added.

If a relationship had issues before, working in such close quarters under stressful conditions will likely magnify them.

“Issues will come bubbling up in different ways,” said Bridbord. “When everything is irritating you about the other person, that is when you have to look at yourself and why you are so triggered.”

2. Provide an inside look

Sometimes, our partners only hear the bad stuff about work: the micromanaging boss, that loud co-worker and the impossible deadlines.

But being forced to work out of the same office now can help change perceptions and even help partners and kids better understand what we do all day. And that’s not a bad thing.

Make your work part of the daily conversation by talking about what you’re working on and why it’s important to you, suggested Petriglieri. And if applicable, how your work relates to or has changed due to the pandemic.

“When everyone understands the priorities… and why they are important and what they contribute too, we’re more likely to be respectful of boundaries and appreciate each other’s work space and then make the most of when we’re together without work.”

Getting an inside look can help make late nights or missed life moments more justifiable once there is a return to office life and separate careers.

3. Use project management tactics

Tackle this situation like you would a challenge at the office: get organized, communicate and delegate.

“Take those business principles and apply them to your life at home right now,” suggested Bridbord. “Our lives together are, in essence, a business with lots happening at once,” she added.
That means defining everything that needs to be done, including child care, cleaning and cooking, and then delegating.

Having daily meetings to plan or assess the day or documenting all the responsibilities can help keep everyone on track.

“These systems allow us to focus and plan — and helps share the cognitive load,” she said.

4. Avoid treating each other like colleagues

You might be learning that your spouse is a fan of all the office clichés or holds too many meetings — but it’s best to keep that to yourself.

Even if you think your intentions are good, don’t offer any unsolicited feedback when it comes to your partner’s work style.

And don’t mistake complaining as an opportunity to critique.

“Even if a partner is complaining about work, you shouldn’t see that as an invitation or opportunity to provide critical feedback,” said Anthony Chambers, couple and family psychologist and chief academic officer at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. “Allow them to vent and be heard.”

5. Don’t go tit for tat

These working conditions aren’t ideal for many people right now — especially if you are juggling kids and other care giving responsibilities. It can feel overwhelming and exhausting, but try not to keep score of who is doing what around the house, or who’s work is more pressing.

Being competitive can be a sign of a deeper issue. “Feelings of competition can arise when people feel that they are not on the same team and there is a zero/sum experience in the relationship,” said Bridbord. “And they are not supporting one another emotionally and pragmatically on a day-to-day basis.”

Originally published on

Relationship Expert: During COVID-19, ‘Project Manage’ Your Partnership 5 ways to get along with your new coworker – your spouse

We asked The Gottman Institute how you can do less housework

by Beth Castle

Ever fantasized about dating a coworker? Congratulations. You and millions of other Americans are now living that dream. At home. Every day. With your kids.

Did I mention you’re married and we’re in the middle of a pandemic? How could I forget.

Whatever your situation, if you’re struggling to work from home with your partner—or even your roommate—during coronavirus, you’re not alone. COVID-19 has brought a new and exhausting challenge into our lives: navigating a personal relationship while also juggling work, our mental health, caring for kids and loved ones, and the fear of the unknown in a living space that seems to get smaller every single day. This is the garbage compactor scene in Star Wars if there ever were one.

InHerSight isn’t here to dish out relationship advice, but we believe work, paid or unpaid, is work, and we know the unpaid bit is most likely to cause burnout for working women right now—because there is just so much of it, and many households don’t divide up chores evenly. That’s where your work and home lives are entirely, and very messily, intertwined.

Clinical psychologist Karen Bridbord, an organizational consultant for companies and startups and a certified Gottman Couples Therapist, says now is the time for couples to take a more business-minded approach to their relationships. If you’re going to successfully work, raise kids, eat, sleep, and whatever else at home together in the middle of a global health crisis, then you need to learn to “project manage” your lives. Here’s how.

Schedule a ‘State of the Union’

Welcome to the only in-person meeting on your calendar for the foreseeable future: the “State of the Union.” Bridbord says every couple should schedule a “planning and implementation” meeting to talk about what needs to get done and who’s doing what. Assign tasks just like you would at your monthly business meeting. “We need to bring some of the strategies we use to manage companies into how we manage relationships,” Bridbord says.

This regularly occurring meeting is also a time for partners to talk about what isn’t working and how you, as a team, will readjust to better meet each other’s needs. “The first 30 seconds of a conversation determines how the rest of the conversation will go,” Bridbord says, suggesting that couples dealing with conflict use a “softened startup,” a formulaic way of framing problems, to ease into tricky subjects. That phrase sounds like this:

I feel ______ about  ______, and I need ______.

Watch out for the ‘Four Horsemen’

Communication in relationships (and quarantine) is key, and productive communication will need to happen whether you’re in your State of the Union or not. The Gottman Method, which is the research-based method Bridbord uses in her therapy sessions, says a first step in forming productive communication is ridding conflict discussions of the “Four Horsemen”: criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness. “Within this crisis, there is great opportunity, and that opportunity is connection,” Bridbord says.

Couples should deal with conflict at the most stress-free time possible to keep the Four Horsemen from derailing the conversation. “Right now, all of us have anxiety, and it’s being directed in different ways,” Bridbord says. “When you’re in a state of overwhelm, you may become flooded. That’s not the time to talk.” Take a break and, as your coworkers say, circle back.

She also recommends reminding yourself that your partner can’t read your mind. A lot of conflict stems from this belief that partners should be able to guess how we feel. That isn’t going to happen. “And it’s not something we usually do to our colleagues,” Bridbord says.

Remember the principle of ‘aikido’

You ladder-climbers who’ve read up on persuasion tactics will recognize the principle of aikido, or the Japanese martial arts strategy that roughly translates to “yield to win.” It’s the idea that in order to have a positive conclusion to your conflict, you need to accept and understand your partner’s perspective and feelings. In martial arts, it’s about victory, but in relationships, it’s about coming to a solution both of you are comfortable with.

Bridbord says that instead of telling your partner what you think is going wrong, you should invite them to first share their thoughts on your relationship. Try questions like, “How do you think things are going at home?” and “What do you think is going well and not going well?”

This approach fosters discussion and collaboration, and it gives you the opportunity to see your relationship from your partner’s vantage point. “Sometimes we assume our partners are not doing their best, but what if we flip that script and assume they’re trying their hardest?” Bridbord says.

Practice stress-reducing conversations

Anxiety is contagious, meaning when you’re tense, other people around you are more likely to become tense. What a wonderful time for everyone to be trapped in their homes with their partners.

Bridbord says there are ways to mitigate mounting anxiety. “One of the key factors in successful couples is the ability to have stress-reducing conversations,” she says. In those conversations, a proper response to “I’m having a really hard day” isn’t “Me too” or “Just wait until you hear about mine.” It’s “Tell me about that.”

As a listener, don’t try to fix your partner’s problems, either. “People aren’t looking for someone to solve their problems, just to listen,” she says. Ask prompting questions to dig deeper. Empathize.

In terms of your relationship, this kind of active listening is a sign of friendship, which Bridbord says is fundamental to romance. “The hallmarks of friendship are trust and commitment. We’re looking for partners who will show up for us emotionally.”

That doesn’t mean showing up is easy. It’s not, and neither is building an equitable relationship in the best of circumstances. Everyone is struggling with it. “These kinds of dynamics transcend socioeconomics,” Bridbord says. Simply put: “It’s hard to work together.”

Originally published on

12 Things You Should Never Say to Your Partner (They Could Cause Irreparable Damage)

Even though the ability to be open and honest with your partner is a technically good thing, there are some thoughts you really should keep to yourself and not say to your partner. The reason being that saying certain things to your partner could cause damage to the foundation of the relationship—the type of damage that’s especially challenging (though not impossible!) to come back from.

Known of the most legendary relationship experts of the 20th century, Dr. John Gottman, and his wife, Dr. Julie Gottman, conducted numerous studies on couples, specifically focusing on their communication methodology and how key markers were high indicators of a future divorce. Through their work, John Gottman found that four specific behaviors—Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling—“are so predictive of killing a relationship, he gave named them using them an apocalyptic reference—the Four Horsemen,” explains Jonathan Shippey, LMFT, a Certified Gottman Therapist and Master Trainer in Louisville, KY, specializing in intensive couples therapy and workshops for military families. 

“Dr. Gottman found that if people engaged in these behaviors in a conversation, it would degrade rapidly, and if couples experience enough degraded conversations, the result will be a degraded relationship over time,” Shippey elborates. “Of the four, contempt is the most potent,” he explains, and notes that Dr. Gottman refers to its use as the “sulfuric acid on the fabric of love”. In fact, as Dr. Gottman’s research has proven, “Contempt is one of the biggest predictors of divorce,” adds Mike McNulty, Ph. D., a Certified Gottman Therapist and Master Trainer with the Chicago Relationship Center.

However, no matter where you and your partner are currently in your relationship, “People have the ability to repair in the aftermath of betrayal,” says Certified Gottman Therapist, clinical psychologist and organization consultant, Karen Bridbord, Ph. D. “People can transcend deep hurts to transform their partnerships for the better.”

And rethinking how you communicate with your partner, so you can break any patterns of negativity, is one of the best ways to start! What’s important to remember is that, “Behind every complaint/criticism that your partner makes, there is a longing,” says Dr. Bridbord. Your job is to “Figure out what the longing is and see if you can fulfill it.”  

This expert advice from three Certified Gottman Therapists on the 12 things you should never say to your partner will help you improve your communication skills as a couple, so your relationship can benefit as a result.

12 Things You Should Never Say to Your Partner

1. “I should never have married you.”

“We want to hear that our partners would marry us again and again,” Dr. Bridbord says, which is why this is so painful for your partner to hear. “It is a statement that undermines the covenant that was created when you committed to the partnership,” she explains, “and creates deep resentment and feelings of insecurity” that can be incredibly challenging to repair. 

Related: Here Are the Four Horsemen Behaviors Coined by John Gottman That Will Ruin Your Marriage—Plus, How to Avoid Them

2. “You…”, “You always…”, “You never…”

“‘You,’ ‘You always,’ and ‘You never’ statements tend to come off as blaming or critical when a partner is trying to express an honest complaint or concern,” says Dr. McNulty. “An example of a ‘You’ statement is, ‘You always forget to take out the trash,’ or ‘You never think of me.’” However, starting with “You” only emphasizes differences and is not a proactive, reparative approach, which is why “I” statements are a better approach. “People who own their feelings and needs with ‘I’ statements communicate their complaints or concerns with their partners in a healthy manner,” Dr. McNulty explains. “An example of healthier communication with an ‘I’ statement is,  ‘I feel frustrated when you forget to take out the trash.’” Communicating in this way will make your partner more receptive to the information you’re sharing, while still allowing you to express your concerns openly.

3. “I’m no longer attracted to you.”

“This is one that is very hard for people to overcome, even if it was not something that was intended,” says Dr. Bridbord, which is why it can be such a damaging thing to say. “We human beings have a very difficult time being told that we are unattractive and then believing that our partner didn’t mean it. It can really stop sex in its tracks for long periods of time,” she explains, “and it is a hard one to repair.” 

4. “You are such a slob.”

This type of statement is criticism in the form of name-calling, which is damaging to relationships. “Instead, ask for what you need with gentleness,” Shippey says. A better approach would be rephrasing your wishes gently but clearly by saying something like, “Would you please put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher tonight before you go to bed?” he suggests.

5. “Help me to understand why??!!” (with an eye-roll or sneer)

“This is another statement where the language looks correct, but the tone and the nonverbal communications makes the person asking the question to come off as superior or disgusted,” Dr. McNulty says. “If the question is asked with an honest, open, curious tone, it is fine because the person asking is really trying to understand. If it is asked with contempt, the person asking is expressing disgust and/or superiority, and most likely does not want to know the answer,” he explains, which can further increase tension and distance in your relationship.

6. “Here you go again! You always ruin every dinner out!” 

Going global with your criticism and applying it in sweeping generalities doesn’t give your partner much insight as to where you’re coming from or how they can avoid repeating it in the future. To get more on the same page, work on improving your communication in the relationship. “Make a specific, temporary request instead,” Shippey suggests. For example,“Tonight when we go out with my brother and his wife, please don’t bring up politics,” is much more clear cut.

7. “Really??!!”  

“One partner typically says this to the other when they cannot believe what their partner wants, needs, or believes,” Dr. McNulty says. But “This statement is contemptuous: The tone is very negative and indicates a sense of superiority or disgust. The partner uses the correct language to convey a sense of interest, but in a sarcastic, incredulous manner.” This doesn’t work, he explains, because “The other partner immediately feels defense.” That’s, in part, why “Dr. John Gottman says that each time we use contempt with our partners, it is like ‘pouring acid on love,’” he says.

8. “Why can’t you be more like her/him?”

“Negative comparisons of one’s partner to others creates insecurity and hurt between people,” says Dr. Bridbord. “They may feel that they can never live up to some imagined other and/or that they are unworthy. Or, they may just get really angry and decide to check out.” Ultimately, “Negative comparisons are highly unproductive and erode trust in relationships.”

9. “You know what your problem is? You’re just selfish.”

Placing the problem within your partner is an especially damaging form of criticism, says Shippey, that can breed insecurity or disdain in your partner. “Instead, complain without blame,” he suggests, by saying something like, “I was surprised to see you ate all the leftovers. Please check with me before doing that again.”

10. “I feel you…”

“Sometimes, ‘I feel you statements’ are people’s attempts to use ‘I’ statements, but they are actually ‘You’ statements in disguise,” Dr. McNulty explains, which is why this type of dialogue should be carefully monitored. “For example, a statement like, ‘I feel like you never remember to take out that trash and I feel like you just don’t care,’ still blames the other person and attributes negative intent to them,” he elaborates, and “People tend to get defensive around statements that come off as critical. Using soft startup is a much better approach.” He recommends trying this method: When making a complaint, say ‘I feel, about what, and I need.’ Use ‘I’ statements to discuss your feelings and needs, and try to have a receptive tone when you ask questions or when you are in conflict with your partner.” And lastly, “Be ready to say ‘I am sorry,’ and try again when you fail to do so, because we all do. Good relationships are mostly built on repair because we are all human,” he reminds us.

11. “Clearly, you let people down all the time.”

“Avoid using information that your partner shared with you about other conflicts in their lives against them when you argue,” cautions Dr. Bridbord. “A sure fire way to damage the trust between you is by using your knowledge of some vulnerability that they have against them when you are in conflict. This is siding with the enemy and you will become part of the enemy,” she explains.

12. “Oh yeah? What about you?!” 

When you’re on the receiving end of criticism, it’s tempting to respond with defensiveness. But, while it might feel good in the moment, it won’t help you and your partner work through any relationship problems you’re dealing with. “Instead, own any part that’s true,” Shippey suggests, by responding with something like, “I apologize for doing that. It was inconsiderate of me.” Notice how, with time, it can help disagreements get resolved more easily by making your partner feel heard and understood. 

From Parade Magazine

7 Things to Do to Reclaim Yourself After a Breakup

Going through this process will help you find out who you are now and prepare you to love again.

Editor’s Note: Strong relationships are at the core of a happy life, but sometimes, dealing with the people in our lives is tricky. That’s why Thrive Global partnered with The Gottman Institute on this advice column, Asking for a Friend. Every week, Gottman’s relationship experts will answer your most pressing questions about navigating relationships—with romantic partners, family members, coworkers, friends, and more. Have a question? Send it to!


Q: I recently got out of a 10-year relationship with my boyfriend and am trying to adjust to getting back to the single life, but I’ve found it difficult to feel like myself again. Where do I go from here and how can I start anew and reclaim myself after a difficult breakup? — G.L.

A:   Of course it’s difficult to feel like yourself again! You’ve had a major life shift. Ending a long term relationship is a death of sorts and involves moving through the grieving process. What you’re feeling is very common in the aftermath of a separation.

Difficult breakups rattle us at the core and disconnect us into isolation. Here, the person who was supposed to be your life partner is no longer. And there you stand aware of this void and the mourning process begins.

Now, to find “you.”

Take the best possible care of you. Now is a great time to reflect on what you’ve learned from this past relationship. Is something more important to you in a partner than you originally thought, like a personality trait or lifestyle choice?

Taking this time to “get on the balcony” and understand what happened between you and your ex can really help you grow and be a preventative measure moving forward. All that you have gained over the last ten years of experience from your relationship needs to be synthesized into the new you. And this newly integrated wisdom will help you build the foundation of who you are today, which will come out in small and big ways as you seek hopeful new experiences.

Here are some suggestions to reclaim yourself.

Turn towards yourself

Give yourself time to feel and be patient that you will feel better. Be gentle and loving and embrace radical self care.

Seek support

Talking to close, trusted friends can be helpful in making sense of your “new normal.” This is also a great time to start counseling. An objective other can help you understand what you see on the balcony of reflection.

Learn something new

Pick up a new hobby or learn something new, like a language, painting, drawing, skiing, or yoga. This can engage the brain and/or body in different ways.


Get the body to release those positive endorphins. For example, hiking in the beauty of nature is very therapeutic.

Try to laugh

Oh boy, is this the best medicine. Go to a comedy show or see a funny movie. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh.


Write to make sense of your inner world. Writing can be very useful in exploring the many emotions that you may be be feeling. Emotions are like waves, they can rise in intensity but they also fall again, understanding this process can support your emotional regulation.

Find the magic in everyday life

There is wonder all around us. It’s up to us to see it. Connect with your five senses. If you are blessed to have children or pets around you, take a moment and play. They are wonderful guides for us grown-ups, helping us focus on the here-and-now rather the there-and-then.

You are not who you were 10 years ago, but if you allow the grieving process to teach you, you will come out at the other end a stronger and wiser you. Going through this process will help you find out who you are now and prepare you to love again.

“Gray Divorces” Increasing Sharply

Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, who are breaking up after 30 years of marriage, are part of a growing trend.

While the overall divorce rate is going down, the divorce rate among people 50 and over — so-called “gray divorces” — has more than doubled over the past two decades, according to research by sociologists at Bowling Green State University featured in The Wall Street Journal.

Why the increase?

“A lot of it,” says licensed psychotherapist Rachel Sussman (author of “The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce”), “stems from my generation, the Boomer generation. We’re the first generation that has entered marriage to be personally fulfilled. It’s the ‘me generation.’ We want to be happy. In previous generations, it was for financial reasons or to fulfill roles, be a good husband, be a good wife. But in this generation, your children leave home, you look at your husband or you wife, you realize you’re not happy, you’re not as afraid to leave. So people are exiting, in high numbers.

“Often, couples have been married for 30, 40 years. And if they look at each other after the children are gone and say, ‘You know, we just don’t have the same interests or the same values,’ women are less afraid to make that leap and to go out into the world on their own.”

Women are the ones initiating two-thirds of breakups.

“That’s because women can now,” licensed psychologist Karen Bridbord emphasized. “Basically, women are in the workforce. They are earning, they’re independently, economically sound, and they can do it. So they’re not staying around if they’re unhappy.”

Sussman says the economy plays into the “gray divorce” rate. “I think that, if couples have limited resources and someone has lost their job, those couples might just try to stick it out,” she told co-hosts “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-hosts Rebecca Jarvis and Anthony Mason. “Divorce is expensive, (especially) if you can’t afford to keep up two households. But if the resources are somewhat plentiful and two people are working and a woman says to herself, ‘You know, I can support myself,’ she won’t be as afraid to leave.”

Are online dating, social media, and people reconnecting with acquaintances from their past making “gray divorce” easier?

“Definitely,” Bridbord replied. “There’s the hope, when people divorce, that they’re going to find somebody else to connect with. But because marriage is really now about personal fulfillment, they are really looking to even go at it on their own. (They’re thinking) if that, so be it — it’s better to be on one’s own, people are thinking, than to be in a relationship that’s less supportive.

“(But) people are actually being really mindful of whether or not they are going to actually go ahead and divorce. That’s my advice. And actually, there’s some recent research that suggests that, even once people do get divorced, they are rethinking it and thinking, ‘Well, was this the best decision for us?’ So there’s a lot of ambivalence around the area of decision-making around divorce. So, really thinking it through is important.”

Infidelity, Bridbord adds, is the third major cause of divorce, and the “gray” divorce rate is the same as that of the general population – about 27 percent.

Anyone mulling a “gray divorce” should try couple’s counseling, Sussman urges.

“I’m a big proponent” of such efforts, she says. “If you’ve been with someone for a very long time and you’ve raised children with them, this person’s always going to be in your life. Weddings, graduations, whatever. And it really makes sense to visit a couples counselor and see if you can” work things out.

View original article here.

When Mama Loses Her Temper

By Meg Lemke, contributor to the Seleni Institute, a nonprofit mental health and wellness center for women and mothers in New York City.

Rebecca was running late and told her 3-year-old that there was no time for another snack. But the toddler ignored her, popped open a can of almonds and spilled nuts everywhere. She also stepped on Rebecca’s foot, maybe on purpose.

Rebecca cleaned up and asked her daughter to “go potty,” before they walked out the door. Her daughter refused. Rebecca was going into her third trimester of pregnancy. She was tired. It was hot. She lost it. She shouted in her daughter’s face — not exactly the kind and consistent approach she had been striving for during potty-training. But it happened.

Moms and anger
We all get angry. Sometimes we lose our temper. “Parents are not intentionally going into a situation and saying if my child misbehaves, I’m going to blow up at them and yell uncontrollably,” says Karen Bridbord, PhD, a psychologist certified by the Gottman Institute, who specializes in relationships. But it happens, says Bridbord, because we hold so tightly to patience, winding ourselves up, until it eventually escapes and explodes.

“I didn’t know that I had this monster inside me,” confesses Megan, mother of a 3-year-old daughter in Baltimore. “I had these ideas of who I wanted to be as a mom: ‘I’ll be perfect. I’ll be in control.’ But there’s so much that goes out of control with a kid.”

Why we yell
The obvious answer is frustration, often sleep deprivation, and the general stress of life. There’s also the sometimes overwhelming sense of responsibility — the to-do list divided among the needs of children, spouse, work. Maybe you just missed the bus, or the sitter didn’t show and you’re on a work deadline. Or maybe you forgot to cut the crusts off the sandwich and simply can’t take the ensuing tantrum. There are bills. There is loneliness. There is what we expected, and what we get, and what we miss.

But, it’s also how we’re programmed to respond. “We call it an ‘amygdala hijacking,'” says Bridbord. “Our emotions overwhelm us, and our heart rate is escalating. Our bodies experience the situation as if we are in fight or flight mode.” But this natural response evolved to save us from saber-toothed tigers, not to negotiate the subtler challenges of modern parenthood.

How to stop the screaming cycle
Dr. Bridbord coaches parents to become aware of the physiological signs of emotional flooding, when our nerves run “off to the races.” We can learn to tell the signals our bodies give in a split second: the tightness in the throat, the rapid breathing. When you feel that response rising in you, take a moment to breathe and get centered.

Carla Naumburg, PhD, author of Parenting in the Present Moment, recommends using a common mindfulness acronym: STOP. “S is for Stop, T is for Take a breath, O is for Observe, P is for Proceed,” says Naumburg. “The idea is to stop whatever you are doing, take a deep breath, and notice what’s going on around you. You can get a little headspace before responding, so you can be more thoughtful instead of knee jerk.”

When she’s at home, Naumburg actually puts her hands on the kitchen counter or takes a minute to concentrate on the feeling of her feet on the floor. These little actions ground her and bring her body and mind back from the fight or flight response.

It helps me to consciously practice thinking about what I love most about my daughter — a strategy recommended by renowned marriage therapist John Gottman. Many of us share a tendency to ruminate on grudges, to see and then replay the worst intentions in others, even our own kids. So I keep a few specific memories on file, like an image of Lola pointing at a block tower with pride, or a phrase I love to hear her say. (“Mama, I missed you!”)

Then I repeat these moments in my head when I am calm — like when I’m lying on my daughter’s floor in the dark at bedtime — so that I can recall them (with effort) in those moments when I feel my chest tightening and my blood pressure rising.

Figure out your triggers
Just like hunger primes a toddler for a tantrum, parents have triggers too. Sometimes our insecurities undermine our best intentions. We identify with our children, and their faults make us more furious when they feel familiar. We may worry their actions are a reflection of us.

At other times, we can view our kids’ behavior as malicious. Dr. Bridbord remembers a father who yelled at his children at bedtime after a long day at the office. Yes, his kids were delaying bedtime (something all kids do), but his anger really came from a lingering sense of disrespect from colleagues. Children “want boundaries and structure, but they’re going to push at times to see how far they can go,” says Dr. Bridbord. That’s normal developmental growth, not that they are out to get you (truly).

And adults fall prey to the same triggers — hunger, exhaustion — that set kids off. Anna, mom of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old (and pregnant with number three) in Brooklyn, says she “loses it at least a couple times a week.” For her, the episodes come at then end of the day, “when we’re all exhausted.” During a recent incident, her older son was screaming and hitting her so that he could get inside the door ahead of his brother. “I tried to calm him down with words, then resorted to threats (no milk, no dinner, going to bed right away, etc.), then finally just screamed at the top of my lungs.”

Find an outlet for your emotions
As you probably tell your kids, “It’s OK to be angry, but it’s not OK to hurt people.” Feeling anger at your children or anything else in your life is a natural, human emotion. Dr. Cohen recommends talking with a friend or therapist about what’s behind your angry outbursts. “Choose someone who can tolerate you talking about angry feelings without judging you,” suggests Dr. Cohen, and then “talk about what triggers you, about how you were treated as a child, about what kind of nurturing you needed then, and about what values you want driving your own parenting.”

When all else fails, walk away
Sometimes it’s you who needs the time out. If your child is not in imminent danger, walk away. Close the door. And, in really rough moments, Dr. Cohen suggests you “Lie on the floor and declare a surrender.” This idea, from Patty Wipfler’s Hand in Hand Parenting, is “a way to give up the impossible demands for perfection and control, which then allows you to get up committed to what really matters — connection and compassion.”

Dr. Bridbord urges her clients to try meditation. “It increases your ability to not be reactive but rather be reflective in responding to your environment,” says Bridbord. She recommends taking five minutes a day to breathe deeply and focus on what is happening inside you.

What to do after you yell
When your best efforts at staying calm fail, Dr. Cohen says the next step is simple. “Apologize. Children are very forgiving when we acknowledge our mistakes and make an effort to do better.”

“And don’t bother with the guilt,” recommends Philippa Gordon, a pediatrician in Brooklyn. Or “you’ll spend your whole life feeling guilty. The important thing is to model regaining control. Let the kid know that things are back to normal.”

Try to do better, not be perfect
Guilt feels like an action — a way to pay penance. But it’s paralyzing and doesn’t lead to anything productive for you or your child. Instead, model working through your emotions. Dr. Bridbord recommends “actually sitting down, taking a few deep breaths, and modeling to your children at that moment what to do when they’re frustrated. We hear parents say this to their children all the time: take a few deep breaths, take a time out. You’re giving yourself a time out in front of your child.”

“Children are resilient, and they have a deep capacity to forgive in a way that some adults lose over time,” says Dr. Bridbord. “Saying you’re sorry, sharing what you’re feeling, that’s important — you’re emotion coaching. Your role is not to be perfect. They’re not going to love you less because you’re imperfect.”

I’ve been practicing this approach with my daughter. I tell her “Mommy got angry, but she is going to take a deep breath now. She is going to say she’s sorry.” I put my hand to my breastbone as I inhale. Lola also inhales in an exaggerated way. Together, we can start over again in the new moment.

This article was originally published on the Seleni Institute website and is reprinted here with permission. Seleni is a nonprofit mental health and wellness center providing clinical services, research funding, and online information and support for women and mothers. You can follow Seleni on Twitter @selenidotorg and the author @meglemke.

View original article here.

How to Deal With Financial Infidelity

It’s no secret that money is something of a taboo topic in many social settings. But in a recent survey, American Express found this to be true even between partners. Of the 2,000 individuals surveyed, 91% said they avoid money talks with their spouse or significant other.

Nearly half said they’ve bought something their partner didn’t agree with — and 30% have hidden those purchases from their partner. Some have even gone as far as sneaking out in the middle of the night to buy something or burying the purchase in the backyard.

So what should you do if you have a spendaholic significant other? And what if you’re the one with the hidden shopping problem? Here are three suggestions from the experts.

Pay attention to your partner

When a spouse has been cheated on – whether financially or physically – they usually have some sense that things are amiss but don’t bring it up, at least for a while.

“When you notice something new, you ask the clichéd question ‘when did you get that?’” says Jacquette M. Timmons, president and CEO of Sterling Investment Management and author of the book Financial Intimacy. “And the other person says ‘Oh, I’ve had this for awhile.’ Ultimately, what it really exposes is that there’s a communication gap.”

Karen Bridbord, a couples’ psychologist based in New York City, says that often, something else going on in the relationship contributes to this behavior. It could be one spouse wants to exert a sense of independence or act out against the other person. Perhaps they feel neglected or empty and search for fulfillment by shopping. There may not be any clear-cut warning signs, but in some cases, one spouse may be suddenly selling items to bankroll their new spending habit.

“Money is very symbolic,” says Bridbord. “It’s very tied to psychology in terms of hopes and dreams and security.” Continuously working on the relationship may help prevent smaller issues from snow-balling into a major spending problem.

Take an active role in managing finances

Often, the spouse who doesn’t handle the finances ends up in the dark about their partner’s spending habits. That’s why Timmons recommends that couples share financial chores, such as opening mail, paying bills, and cross-referencing statements and receipts.

Being proactive in bills or opening mail can help you spot a spending pattern before it gets out of hand. Or if you haven’t brought up the issue yet, it can give you the confirmation you need to start a conversation with your spouse.

Communicate to rebuild trust

Some couples may need therapy to regain the trust and emotional intimacy they once shared. Others are able to salvage the relationship on their own through open, honest communication. If you’re the one with the hidden spending problem, Timmons recommends opening the conversation with a statement like, “Honey, I have a problem, and I need your help …” Once it’s out in the open, she recommends creating systems like weekly check-ins to avoid a relapse.

Some partners might react by stonewalling the conversation, getting defensive, showing contempt, or criticizing the other person. All of these behaviors can undermine the relationship, Bridbord says, but there are antidotes to all of them. For instance, “the antidote to defensiveness is taking responsibility,” she explains, “saying something like ‘I can understand what you’re saying because of X, Y, Z’. The antidote to criticism is learning how to complain about something without assassinating the other person’s character.”

The good news is, although it can evoke feelings of betrayal, anger, or frustration, financial infidelity doesn’t need to destroy the relationship. “It can take awhile to earn trust back,” says Bridbord, “but people who face this issue in their relationship have been able to work through it.”

Susan Johnston is a Boston-based freelance writer who covers business and lifestyle topics.

View original article here.