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Newsletter Dated: 4/1/2008 1:20:02 PM
Subject: Happiness Tips from Tina: How Not To Fight
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Happiness Tip: How Not To Fight:
Myths about Fighting In Relationships, And What to Do About Them.
In my counseling practice, couples are often surprised to learn they can communicate and solve problems effectively without fighting; but sometimes you may find itís not so easy to give up your struggles. You may have trouble letting go of the fighting habit because of two factors: social expectations (expectations the people around you have about marriage) and myths (common beliefs not based on fact.)
Myths and Expectations about Fighting
There are many myths and expectations about fighting in marriage. Couples come into my office frequently believing that fighting is a necessary part of being a couple; that all married couples fight; and itís a normal part of marriage. But the fact is that fighting accomplishes nothing, and it isnít necessary for couples to argue, to yell, or to have heated discussions to get problems solved. Hanging on to these ideas makes it difficult to let go of fighting.
Some of the most prevalent myths about fighting are:
*Myth #1: Fighting clears the air, and brings out the truth.
Fighting is not necessary to ďclear the air.Ē Getting heated up does not make you tell truths you wouldnít tell otherwise. What happens when couples fight and get emotional is that both parties say things they donít mean, or say them in much nastier ways than is really true. It is possible to discuss anything that is or is not happening between you in a calm and logical manner that will lead to more truth telling and air clearing than fighting and arguing will ever accomplish.
*Myth #2: Within your family, itís OK to ďlet it all hang outĒ Ė to be as emotional as you want, and say things youíd never say to a friend or a boss.
Whether youíre fighting or not, (or drunk, or upset) youíre still responsible for everything you say and do. The hurtful or mean or outrageous things you say will be remembered by your spouse or the other family members who hear them.
*Myth #3: Fighting just happens, you canít control it.
You always have a choice about your behavior and how you express yourself. If youíve developed a fighting habit, or never learned to control your temper, you may need to do some work, but you can learn to behave differently.
*Myth #4: My wife (or husband) makes me do it. He (she) yells first.
No one else is responsible for your behavior. You are not responsible for anyone elseís words or actions. You can always choose not to yell back, to speak calmly, or to leave the room. Your partner cannot fight alone.
*Myth #5: Any time we get angry, itís natural to argue and yell.
Arguing, and shouting is not the only way to express your anger. Itís just the most dramatic way. As a matter of fact, itís the least effective way to reach a solution for whatever is making you angry.
*Myth #6: Itís a family trait Ė everyone in my family argues.
Fighting, temper tantrums and arguing may be common in your original family, but itís not genetic, inherited, or inevitable. Itís still learned behavior, and itís a dysfunctional family trait. Itís a habit, and you can overcome it for the benefit of your spouse and children.
*Myth #7: Itís OK to yell, shout , curse , throw things and hit walls as long as I donít hit a person.
These raging behaviors are classified as emotional abuse, which is just as damaging to families as physical abuse. Evidence of emotional abuse is enough to have your children detained by Child Protective Services in many states, and can even cause a raging spouse to be hauled off in handcuffs, if a problem is reported and the police arrive to witness the behavior. I tell clients who are behaving this way to separate until they get their anger under control, which requires anger management classes or therapy. If this is happening in your house, it must be stopped now Ė get counseling right away.
Fighting = Bad Communication
No matter what youíre fighting about: money, sex, kids or something else, the fighting is an indication that your communication isnít working. If this happens only occasionally, such as when one or both of you are tired or stressed; itís not too big a problem. However, if you argue or bicker on a daily or weekly basis, or you keep fighting about the same thing over and over, then your communication is not functioning as it should, and you donít know how to move from a problem to the solution. When this happens, problems are recurrent, endless, and they can be exaggerated into relationship disasters.
Use these guidelines to make your discussions more productive:
Guidelines for Not Fighting
1. Donít participate: Disagreements always require two people. If you don't participate, your partner can't argue without you. If the issue arises at an inopportune time, you can just find a temporary resolution (temporarily give in, go home, leave the restaurant) and wait until things calm down to discuss what happened (the squabble may just have been a case of too much alcohol, or being tired and irritable.) Then talk about what you can do instead if it ever happens again.
2. Discuss Recurring Problems: To resolve recurring problems, discuss related decisions with your spouse and find out what each of you does and does not want before making important decisions. You have a lot of options; so don't let confusion add to the stress.
3. Seek to Understand: Make sure you and your partner understand each otherís point of view before beginning to solve the problem. You should be able to put your mateís position in your own words, and vice versa. This does not mean that you agree with each other, just that you understand each other.
4. Solve it for the Two of You: Come up with a solution that works for just the two of you, ignoring anyone elseís needs. Itís much easier to solve a problem for the two of you than for others, such as children, co-workers, friends and family.. After you are clear with each other, discuss the issues with others who may be involved.
5. Talk to Others: After youíve solved it for the two of you, if extended family members or friends might have problems with your decision, talk about what objections they might have, so you can diffuse them beforehand. Discuss possible ways to handle their objections.
Squabbles often occur because youíre following automatic habit patterns that lead to a problem before you know it. Using these guidelines will help you overcome negative habit patterns you may have built that lead to arguments or bickering.
adapted from: Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Squabbling About the Three Things That Can Destroy Your Marriage (Adams Media) ISBN# 978-1-59869-325-6 © Tina B.Tessina, 2008
If you want more, here are some related articles you can download from my website at http://tinatessina.com/monthly_column.html
Aspects of Love
Attitude: From Negative to Gratitude
Coping with Critics
Fair Fight Guidelines
Family Violence Q&A
Friends in Need: Interventions for Domestic Violence
Guidelines for Being Understood by Your Partner
How to be Irresistible to Your Mate
Itís a Dirty Job
Mirrors and Teachers
Relating With Love
Stop Reacting and Start Relating
Appearances Calendar see all my online sites and tour dates at http://www.tinatessina.com/appearances_workshops.html
I have two new books with Adams Media: Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (January 2007 )and The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close When You're Far Apart (June, 2008)
The Dr. Romance blog: http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/
If youíre on Facebook, please look at my page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=654038567
On LinkedIn, find me at
Amazon Connect Profile Page http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1UQV3J4ENX3VK/ref=cm_pdp_profile_changeview?viewAs=Public&Go.x=11&Go.y=10
"Tina Tessina Quotes" from various books and articles at thinkexist.com http://en.thinkexist.com/quotes/Tina_B._Tessina/ .
Radio, TV, Film, Booksignings
Saturday, April 12, 1:00 PM Barnes & Noble Booksellers - Long Beach 6326 East Pacific Coast Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90803 Tina B. Tessina signs her newest book, Money, Sex and Kids
Saturday, April 19, 6:00 PM Shore Books, Long Beach, CA Second Street, Long Beach, CA
Tina Tessina will be signing Money, Sex and Kids and Sheri Zampelli will be signing Donate Your Weight.
Thursday, May 15, 7:00 PM Barnes & Noble, Costa Mesa 901B South Coast Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 Tina B. Tessina signs her two new books: Money, Sex and Kids; and The Commuter Marriage
I'll also answer your questions at http://www.tinatessina.com
Upcoming radio shows, TV, and lectures are all posted on my website at http://www.tinatessina.com/appearances_workshops.html and at http://www.booktour.com/author/tina_b_tessina
I welcome your feedback and support, please contact me at email@example.com.
Wishing you joy,
Tina B. Tessina, PhD
RE: newspaper article
I'm thrilled for you. Congratulations! Great coverage of your book. Susan
RE: Comforting the Little Orphan Girl
Thank you for sharing the above article with me. It was as if I was that little girl! My Dad drowned when I was nine. My Mom went to another town to work and I was left with my four older brothers and a younger one. They just assumed I would take care of them and I did! I made meals, did the laundry, (wringer washer and a clothes line) cleaned, baked bread and packed lunches. My one older brother, my younger one and I went off to school. Things were much better for me later on. I went to work at Dr. Miller's hospital for three years, caring for their three children and even cooking breakfast for the patients many times. The Dr. closed the hospital and moved to Jeffersonville and I lived with my Aunt my senior year. Married now for 57 years, have four children all married with a total of ten Grandchildren. Life is wonderful!
THANK YOU FOR THE FIRST NEWSLETTER I'VE RECEIVED. I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO MANY MORE. CAROL
Thanks! Your words of wisdom are appreciated.
I'm thrilled for you. Congratulations! Great coverage of your book.
Hey girl....a big Congratulations to you on" hometown girl does good "....lol...seriously, that was a very nice article in the Democrat....congrats. and kudos to you....we're all really proud of you.....
Carol L. Gerow
Over the weekend I saw the article about you in the Sullivan County
Democrat and growing up in Rosoce. Congratulations on all you
success. I also grew up in Roscoe and was in your class through the
3rd grade. My father was the shop teacher at school
I wanted to congratulate you on the nice article in the SC newspaper (Fran and Mary forwarded it to me)
on all well deserved publicity well earned and accolades and bouquets to you
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