“Orange” You Glad We Are Family?

If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable – each segment distinct.” – Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Knock, knock.
Who’s There?
Your family!

You and your family sit down for the first time with a family therapist.  Some feelings you may experience are nervousness, anxiety, and/or concern about what will transpire within the session.  Maybe you believe that your communication skills are up to par while others within the family need to put forth more effort in understanding you.  Or, maybe you require the fine tuning to be heard more from others.  Either way, communication is critical to family life (Satir, 1967).

According to Virginia Satir, the “mother of family system therapy”, when communication failure occurs within the system, family members will take on one of four dysfunctional roles to cover up their vulnerabilities:

~ placater
~ blamer
~ computer
~ distractor

Satir describes each role with descriptives, communication tones and a possible image of what that individual resembles.

Are You a Good Parent?

Most people want to be good parents. But what makes a “good” parent? No rules? Lots of rules? Experts identify three parenting styles:

Authoritarian parenting or a “brick wall” family:

Authoritarian parents have an attitude of “my way or the highway.” The benefit of this style of parenting is that the kids have structure and know what to expect. The downside is that there is little communication between parents and children and the kids may rebel strongly at some point. This type of family may become abusive and find themselves in a power struggle.

What We Want vs. What We Need

What We Want versus What We Need?

In an ideal world we would satisfy our search for a significant other, with someone who fulfills all of our wants and needs. This would be our Mr. or Ms. Right.  Does such a person exist? Are our standards set to high that no one will ever be able to fill these shoes? Does this longing cause a sense of desperation and we begin to settle more for wants over needs?  For example, you may want someone who is spontaneous and buys you nice things but what you need is a partner with job stability.

Are you willing to settle for the bungee jumper who changes jobs three times a year or, are you willing to work on spontaneity with a partner who has job security?

Talk Rituals: The Most Important Marriage Ritual of All

Rituals in marriage are the things that happen often, are planned together and special mostly to you and your spouse.  Read the Rituals in Marriage and 3 Types of Rituals in Marriage posts in this series to learn more about rituals.

One of the most common communication techniques taught to improve marriage is that couples should have 15 minutes of uninterrupted conversation time daily sometimes called a Talk Ritual.  Not many couples reach this goal, especially when they have children.  Those who aren’t married can’t fathom that ever being a problem, because when you are dating everything is new and often not taken for granted.  Add our over-technology driven world with iPods, tablets, television, etc. and it gets even more rare.  Talking to each other sleepily in the bed or while watching tv doesn’t really count as a “talk ritual” for connection in most situations.

The first thing to do when starting the talk ritual is to go to your private, planned space with each other. This includes setting a regular time and place your talk to happen each day.  It could involve talking while having a cup of coffee, ice cream, etc.

Secondly is to engage in the actual uninterrupted talking.  This talking should not include “family business management”.  Things like problem solving or issues that will definitely cause an argument are family business management.  Doing that can cause one or both to avoid sitting down for the talk.  It’s a check in for connecting with your spouse not dealing with hard issues.

Last is the ending stage.  There should be a mutual knowledge of when the talk will end.  If you meet in a restaurant it could be when the server brings the check.  That way you both know and no one ends up getting cut off.    This avoids having to negotiate the ending which could lead to conflict.

What are the rituals in your marriage or relationship?  Telling us about them may help other couples searching for ways to connect.  Here are the guidelines:

    1. List one ritual for each response (feel free to submit more than once!)
    2. Why you do it, how it started, how long you’ve been doing it and any obstacles and backup plans for doing it if you miss it.

Thanks for reading.  Read all parts of this topic by clicking the links above.

3 Types of Rituals in Marriage

Rituals in marriage are the things that happen often, are planned together and special mostly to you and your spouse.  Read the Rituals in Marriage post in this series to get more details.

Almost anything can be turned into a ritual of connection, if the focus is on the relationship.  If just one person likes to call and the other person says, “Yep, yep, busy, busy, I’ll talk to you later,” this is not a ritual, because it is not coordinated–and it’s probably not emotionally significant either.

Here are the 4 types of rituals:

  1. Connection rituals – Connection rituals happen on a regular, usually daily basis.  An example is kissing each other every morning before the couple leaves for work.
  2. Intimacy rituals – take place during special dates you plan to connect with each other, sexual intimacy and special occasion rituals like anniversaries.
  3. Community rituals – take place in the wider community.  An example would be a couple who works side by side in their church’s marriage ministry as a way of connection.

Rituals are often looked over when trying to improve marriages, but they are usually what brought a couple together and the glue that keeps them connected.

What are the rituals in your marriage or relationship?  Telling us about them may help other couples searching for ways to connect.  Here are the guidelines:

    1. List one ritual for each response (feel free to submit more than once!)
    2. Why you do it, how it started, how long you’ve been doing it and any obstacles and backup plans for doing it if you miss it.

Next post: Talk Rituals: The Most Important Marriage Ritual of All

Rituals in Marriage: Why They Are Important for Your Marriage

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Before anyone thinks I’m losing it let me start out by giving a definition of rituals (no chicken feathers on an altar!).

Rituals in marriage are the things that happen often, are planned together and special mostly to you and your spouse.  They may happen every year or they may happen every day.  Because they are planned together both of you know that you’re supposed to be there for the ritual.  Along with planning and frequency, they must be special.  Your ritual should have positive emotional meanings to both spouses.

Rituals are different from routines because they are not just about efficiency.  Like eating dinner sitting in front of the TV with little conversation and the distraction of tablets and cell phones.  However, what is a ritual for some may not be for others.  A clearer example of a ritual would be a spouse previously apprehensive about dancing starting dance lessons through a local studio.  The spouse then learns that they like dancing lessons and initiates more without prompting.  The couple has now created a new experience and planned connection activity in their marriage.  Rituals are about you and your spouse connecting.  So anything can be a ritual, if the focus is on building connection in your marriage.

It is especially important for couples in blended marriages to establish rituals to solidify their union.  It helps keep the focus on the new union and to avoid negative trips down memory lane about what the last significant other did or didn’t do.

What are the rituals in your marriage or relationship?  Telling us about them may help other couples searching for ways to connect.  Here are the guidelines:

    1. List one ritual for each response (feel free to submit more than once!)
    2. Why you do it, how it started, how long you’ve been doing it and any obstacles and backup plans for doing it if you miss it.

 

Next time: 3 Types of Marriage Rituals.