By Chandrama Anderson
E-mail Chandrama Anderson
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ... (More)
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background in high-tech is helpful in understanding local couples' dynamics and the pressures of living here. I am a wife, mom, sister, friend, author, and lifelong advocate for causes I believe in (such as marriage equality). My parents are both deceased. My son graduated culinary school and is heading toward a degree in Sociology. I enjoy reading, hiking, water fitness, movies, 49ers and Stanford football, Giants baseball, and riding a tandem bike with my husband. I love the beach and mountains; nature is my place of restoration. In my work with couples, and in this blog, I combine knowledge from many fields to bring you my best ideas, tips, tools and skills, plus book and movie reviews, and musings to help you be your genuine self, find your own voice, and have a happy and healthy relationship. Don't be surprised to hear about brain research and business skills, self-soothing techniques from all walks of life, suggestions and experiments, and anything that lights my passion for couples. (Author and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Calif. Lic # MFC 45204.) (Hide)
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A discussion can quickly escalate into an argument when one partner (or both) don't know that your partner heard what you were saying, either literally, or an underlying meaning. Experiment with taking a deep breath and saying a phrase similar to: "There is something you want me to know and understand that I'm not getting yet. Can you help me understand what that is?"
When you respond (vs. react) you are turning down the volume dial, and turning up the effort to understand intent instead of impact. What does this mean? Whatever you say or do has meaning
based on your own life experience, some of which is shared with your partner, and many years worth from before you ever met him or her. Your words and actions are filtered through your partner's years of experience and land with an impact that is often not your intent. (At times, I've seen clients intentionally lob a verbal hand-grenade knowing exactly the damage it will cause. This is different than what I'm talking about here.)
In other words, you each are wearing shaded glasses and filter everything through them. Your experiences do not make your view "right," they are simply what is familiar to you and therefore seem normal. To create a secure attachment; to be self-aware and standing on your own two feet AND inter-dependent with your partner (knowing you can count on him or her, i.e., having four feet in the relationship, not three) you need to understand each others' normal: the intention of the communication.
Three key things:
Ask questions/be curious
Work to listen and understand what your partner wants you to know
Remember, if things get heated and your heart rate is 90 or more, take a 20 minute break while you physiologically have time to calm down, and then come back for further discussion. But do state you're taking a timeout, and do come back!