News from Jude Bijou and Attitude Reconstruction™ 
Joy, Love, and Peace for 2022
February 2022
Building Great Relationships
Practical Tips to Keep Your Relationships Thriving

If you find yourself feeling isolated, separate, or different from someone you care for, instead of wallowing in those feelings, lashing out or pulling away, do the opposite. Do things that create connection. Follow these six guidelines to keep your love alive:
1. Refrain from telling other people about themselves – “you-ing” whether in the form of unsolicited advice, labeling, sarcasm, criticism, teasing, blaming, evaluating, etc. Instead, talk about what is true for you, your “I”. Give information about what is going on for you and about what you're feeling, thinking, wanting, needing.
2. Bring up one specific incident at a time and don’t begin dragging in everything, right down to the kitchen sink. Avoid the words “always” and “never.” And avoid big overgeneralities, such as "I no longer care for you," "You're gaslighting me," or "You never have anything positive to say." Stay specific.
 3. Listen with genuine attention. Ask questions and strive to understand the other person. Don’t defend yourself or strike back with “yous” if attacked. Observe silence or speak your “I” – what’s true for you.
           Along these lines, set up a time to talk and listen. When there are differences, each person needs uninterrupted time to talk about what’s on his or her mind while the other listens, with a genuine desire to understand. This is not a discussion. It’s a time to just talk and listen. While listening, strive to walk in the other person’s shoes. When talking, talk about yourself, not the other person and what they might have said or done.
 4. Keep your word. Honor the agreements you make. Violating mutual understandings creates separation. Trust is built on integrity between your words and actions. When you need to alter an agreement, talk about it beforehand.
              When clarifying misunderstandings, if you violated an agreement, listen to the person that feels violated in order to truly understand their feelings and point of view. It's important to get to a place where you can empathize with what is true for them. After they tell you and you understand them, say what you will do to avoid future misunderstandings. Then, keep your word.
              If you feel someone violated an agreement with you by not acting in line with the understanding you believe you had, speak up about how you felt about the specific incident at hand and what you want to be different in the future.
 5. Offer genuine appreciations and praise. Look for the good whether it’s a characteristic, quality, or action. Look hard. It’s buried there somewhere. Then voice it… often.
      6. Acts of kindness or selfless giving will go far in fostering feelings of connection and love. Initiate physical (not sexual) contact to nonverbaly connect thru a hug, squeeze, or loving look. Ask, “How can I help right now?” or “What can I do?” and do it. Cooperating and helping with a positive attitude goes a long way to melt a heart.

           Little gestures offer love in a tangible form. Volunteer to do the dishes. Run an errand. Bring flowers. Call the other person at the office and leave a sexy message. Write a love note. Plan a date night.
             7. If you don't feel like you can undertake your relationship remodel alone, reach out to a counselor, or psychotherapist. It's helpful to have a third party to give input, support, and guidance.
             As you implement these tips, watch how your love grows. The results will multiply. Small steps done thoughtfully can shift years of habit. Remember, captains steer huge ships with tiny rudders. So shift how you act with those you love and watch how everything changes towards a brighter horizon. With a little awareness, persistence, and practice, you can also navigate whatever twists and turns you encounter, and successfully keep your relationships on the high road.
A Common Scenario I see in Counseling Couples, and the Way Through
           A couple came in for communication counseling. How refreshing. They very much loved each other but their styles of communication were causing them strife.
           What was quickly revealed was each of their strategies for interacting with each other. The wife realized she didn't speak up because she was always concerned with keeping everybody happy and maintaining the peace. The husband similarly thought his silent tolerance was best. His approach was to take on a "whatever" attitude towards his wife and children were saying even when he didn't agree. Too frequently, he got fed up with the situation, and then lashed out verbally by swearing and yelling.
           The clear communication problem here is that neither style keeps the love flowing. Both ways of ineffective communicating create fewer feelings of connection and increased misunderstanding. Love is based on feeling understood. That is who we fall in love with, a person who really "gets who we are" and displays appreciation even when we disagree. That's the feeling we want to nurture and maintain with family, friends, etc.
           The prescription for these two typical but dysfunctional ways of operating is the same and it's no surprise. This couple needs to be committed to following Attitude Reconstruction's 4 Rules of communication, especially the first two: 1) The First Rule is "talk about yourself." This is our domain. It's a big enough task to take care of ourselves It's appropriate to share what we feel, think, want, and need. This brings closeness, as we reveal information about ourselves. 2) The Second Rule is to stay specific and concrete. That's what we do with everything from music to architecture to computers; and what we must do when communicating. When we stay concrete, others can understand what we're saying - the topic, the request, the reasons. It brings peace.
This was going to be new territory for both of them. Each was in the habit of not speaking up for very different reason. Both were willing to try this grand experiment.
           The cool result (an epiphany) was, after understanding and considerable practice, they both felt it in their bodies (viscerally) every time they sacrificed speaking up what was true for themselves. They felt these sensations were something they had to live with, rather than knowing that they could use their physical symptoms to let them know they needed to change their communication strategies and speak up their "I" about a specific topic. With much practice and diligence they were able to communicate effectively and lovingly; thus transforming their relationship.
Hey Jude!

My partner gets so jealous when I spend time with my friends that she now insists I talk with her before I make any plans. I'm starting to feel resentful.

It sounds as if it's time to discuss this sensitive issue. At some point, all couples need to determine what issues are a "me" and what are a "we" -- that is, what's okay to decide unilaterally and what's not. Trade time (one person talks and the other person just listens to understand their position for a preset amount of time - like 2 minutes. When the time is over, change roles and the previous talker just listens to understand.) Go back and forth, talking and listening (this is not a discussion or debate) until both or all truly feel understood. Only then, can you make an agreement about what decisions are individual and which are joint. Stay specific to clarify what is and isn't appropriate. Relationships are not about giving in or doing solely what you want, but about compromising and accommodating differences so that both feel equal.
Friends -- Thanks for reading to the very end.

I'm always happy when I hear from you, even "feedback."

Happy Valentine's Day to all. Love. Love. Love.

With love,