Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

This Valentines Day, do you hope that your sweetheart will finally write the love song you've been waiting to hear? Or as Sandwiched Boomers with a lot of practical experience, are you more proactive - busy shopping for the language of love that is bound to communicate the depth of your true emotions?

How couples talk with each other is a concrete example of differences between the sexes – and the conversational styles of women and men are often polar opposites. Despite your partner's ongoing support, you may find it difficult to speak about your deepest thoughts. Sometimes, when you just want your husband to listen to how you feel about a situation, you find him intent on fixing what's wrong or finding a solution.

Statistics indicate that one out of two marriages in the United States ends in divorce. And as a safeguard to this institution, some couples sign a clearly delineated legal pre-nuptial contract. There are other non-verbalized agreements that impact marriages, but are not communicated as directly. For example, “I earn more than you and that gives me greater control over major decisions” is often understood but not considered a topic for conversation. An increase in either trust or tension in the relationship eventually leads to the expression and resolution of these kinds of concerns, one way or the other.

Still other decisions are unconscious, part of the psychological baggage that is carried forward from the family of origin or from previous relationships. For instance, “My father walked out on our family without much of an explanation so, when you’re quiet for too long, I get scared” can be an old, deeply embedded emotional script that is left over from childhood. Shaped by earlier experiences and well hidden by defense mechanisms, these entrenched beliefs often continue to drive individual attitudes and behaviors.

Think about which communication style best describes your situation and how that impacts your relationship. Tomorrow we'll address some tips that can be a gift to your partner on Valentines Day.

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