Neil Warner

Neil Warner

Monday, December 31, 2007

Opening up your silent partner

Dear Nora

I’ve tried for a long time to have my husband sit down with me and have a conversation about “us.” Up until now, he refuses.
How do you get someone interested in working out misperceptions, which are followed by his anger as well as his control issues when he is not interested in even making an effort, because he thinks he does not feel like putting any attention towards solving emotional issues, or the way we relate-issues, as he feels it is all my fault?

He also says that he has no time to sweat the 'small stuff', which in my opinion is not small at all, because it disrupts our family life, especially for our little girl.

I am sitting here reading many things and breaking my head over finding a solution to get him engaged of even wanting to make things better. He has given up completely as he feels he does not want to put time or effort into conversations that are based on a more understanding, humble and intellectual approach.

He feels that it is enough to talk about things one time and if things don't work then it does not make sense. My husband believes in a 'quick fix' otherwise he has no time to waste.I am saddened over his mentality concerning the approach of how relationships and family life should work out and be lived, because to me it simply states that it is either 'his way, or the highway'. My feelings and opinions don't count in of his perspective, as he is the provider and I am a stay home mom to take care of our daughter.
He does not even think that this is a 'job in itself'.He refuses to read anything that could be beneficial, as it would also mean that he would have to take the time and the approach to work on himself. He then would have to notice that he also has 'partial fault' in what ever happens that brings upon a fight; and this is something his oversized ego refuses to admit, because he feels attacked.

What can I do?


Dear Yvonne

I can see where you are. He is entrenched in his refusal to open up to you, having delegated the emotional management of the family to you.

Let’s assume for a moment that your husband is not a bad guy, only a very scared person who doesn’t know how to open up, and is afraid of showing a less efficient side of him. He doesn’t know how to manage his own emotions, and this is coming from a time way back before you two met. Confronting him would only invite him to use his defenses: silence, rejection, overworking, etc.

NOW, what is left to be done? Let me think that you love him and still have a reservoir of good will towards him; that you are able to see him as a person suffering from stunted emotional development.

The FIRST STEP would be to recognize as many times as it is humanly possible the good things he is doing: his work load, his responsibilities towards providing for the family, and for the child. Talk in loud voice about how proud you are that he can do all those good things for you three. Teach your child to be appreciative of dad’s efforts to provide. Mention in the most positive way that you can find how grateful you are that he is doing all that for you and the child.

SECOND STEP would be, after you have given him all the credit for his chosen way of expressing love, begin teaching him other ways of expressing love. As you have transformed his paying the bills into a love declaration, (and reacted as if you did receive a wonderful bunch of flowers) begin telling him how much you love him in the way you care for the child and his own things (clothes, food, etc). Is it like playing the game: “Let’s see how many ways of seeing love expressed we can find?” As an example, teach your child gratitude to dad's unfaltering support of the good things she has at home, and make her feel happy and grateful she is ntaken care of.

As soon as he sees you and the child having fun and being happy in this game, he will be interested! You need to bring back his attention to how well he feels at home, without recriminations or demands, by giving him the credits for what he does, and showing him how much fun and excitement you can have at home. Plan activities with your child with the intention of having fun, and tell him that you are having this fun because he provides! And then ask him if he would like to share in the fun, as he has already paid for it.

THIRD STEP, once you got him interested in being nearer you and the child by elimination complaints and showing your satisfaction with whatever he gives, is to talk in emotional terms: “It feels good to have you here” “How nurturing is for our child to see you doing things at home,” etc. You are teaching him that emotions are not only negative aspects to be repressed but good vibrations to be enjoyed!

Keep this level of joy inside you, by renewing your dedication to learning and exploring new ways in which you can teach yourself how to be happy, with or without him. This will remove the biggest obstacle for him, which is to feel that you are depending for your happiness from him, and he doesn’t know how to deliver it! The sad situation is he even doesn’t know how to make himself happy!

Wishing you lots of love, and a Happy New Year,

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

What is the level of conflict at your home?

How are families the most happy? when they can process differences in a way that promotes everybody's respect.

What happens when disputes escalate into aggression or humiliation of members? A lot of unnecessary distress!

Children especially need a secure environment to grow up, where differences don't mean a battle to the annihilation of the other....every time there is an open dispute, it brings insecurity, stress and sheer terror to small children, who can not protect themselves from the im pact of negativity, vicious fighting or physical aggression.

Of course, parents and couples can disagree, and it is normal that they think from different perspectives about any issue. The main point here is HOW to process the inevitable differences....Can we keep the discussion civil? can we support our point without denigrating the other person? and how can we fight in a positive way?

We are opening here a space where to ask your questions, reflect about how to improve the home situation, and how to learn the processes that help anger management and prevent conflict escalation....Where does it hurt in your home? What would you like to change? Which aspect of your own behavior are you ready to improve?

Remember, how to show better the love that you have for your spouse and children when fighting starts and you don't know how to stop it, than learning conflict skills?