Being a Jerk: Part VII

In conclusion, I am going to leave you with one more word of guidance from Dr. John Van Epp and his book, “How to Avoid Falling In Love With a Jerk: The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind.” This should be able to help you and your spouse have better communication, which is related to the last article about conversation.

Listening can be so hard. We’re busy, we’re doing something, we’re not that interested, or whatever our excuse is, is one excuse too many. Listening is a crucial part of our communication. So why is it something that we don’t see as that serious? How can we change that?

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are having trouble figuring out if you are a bad listener. Do you look somewhere else while your spouse talks? Do you not give your spouse the attention they need when they are speaking? Are you thinking about other things, like what’s happening tomorrow, while your spouse tries to connect with you? If you answered yes to one of these questions, then it seems like there are some things that you can work on.

One thing that you can consciously think about while conversing with your spouse are the nonverbal messages that you are sending and receiving. Van Epp says, “Many times the nonverbal messages speak more loudly than the verbal. This is one reason why you should pay attention to your intuition, hunches, inner feelings, and vices around your partner…Make sure you are “reading” the other person correctly so that you don’t jump to the wrong conclusions!” Have you ever been listening to what your spouse is saying and you just start assuming what they are trying to say? Or have you ever been talking and your spouse has a defensive posture on accident and you get upset? If this happens you can sit down with your spouse and talk about what these things mean to you. Ask them why they do certain things while listening to see what they are thinking in those moments. He went on to say, “Your interpretation of his or her nonverbal can become a topic in a future discussion, which will help clarify your understanding of what that person usually means by his or her body language.”

So now you’re intrigued by what a good listener might do and practice? Good! Van Epp has described what to do for just that! He said, “Listening is more than just passive silence.” Try to make your spouse feel engaged while you listen. Make them feel like you understand what they are saying (it also will really help if you do understand.) He also said that the more personal they get the more important it is for you to listen!

While Van Epp was in college, he was taught an acronym to help listeners listen better. It’s called SOLER.

Square Off – make sure your shoulders are square with the person talking.

Open – keep your arms and legs uncrossed so that you have an open, nondefensive position.

Lean – lean forward toward the person talking.

Eye Contact – keep eye contact with the person talking.

Relax – stay relaxed as you listen.

This acronym can help you be more in tune with your spouse as you listen. You will also be more willing to not just hear what they are saying but to think about what it is they are talking about.

Van Epp included that some people may feel a little ashamed and won’t admit that they are not great listeners though they want to be better. He assures that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Having a desire to strengthen this skill will enhance your communication with your spouse, as long as you do try and work on it. It will be something that will most likely receive praise over, not humiliation.

Lastly, in order to have a well-balanced conversation, both parties need to participate equally. He says, “There should be similar amounts of listening, talking, disclosing, and initiation between you and the person you are dating [married to.]” You can talk about interests, hobbies, career, family, values, and perspectives on life to create a conversation.

In turn, these helps will create a better foundation for conflict resolution. It is never a bad idea to strengthen yourself and your relationship with your spouse!

 

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Being a Jerk: Part I

Being a Jerk: Part II

Being a Jerk: Part III

Being a Jerk: Part IV

Being a Jerk: Part V

Being a Jerk: Part VI

 

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Being a Jerk: Part VI

So, change is possible but it can be hard to get started. It can also be hard to keep going. However if you are motivated to making things work with your spouse, you’ll be able to do it! Dr. John Van Epp has talked about a way to continue strengthening your marriage in his book, “How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk: The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind.”

Van Epp says that deepening your communication with your spouse will do wonders. You are probably already aware that communication is key, especially since you and your spouse are different people. He said, “The key is to accurately and extensively get to know the person you are dating, delving deeper in your communication as your relationship grows.” Learning more about your spouse is something that you need to keep up with for the rest of your lives because of the growth that comes from it.

He went on to say that there are four layers that help communication and conversations get better and become more meaningful. They start ranging from “shallow to deep,” which is what we need and should desire. He has created an acronym called OPEN to help you remember these levels.


The first level is Observations and Facts. Van Epp says that this means, “these refer to the type of communication where you relay current events, established facts, and things you’ve heard and seen.” An example of this would be, “Gray is my favorite color.” You are just stating the obvious, facts about yourself, and things you have noticed.

The second level is Perspectives and Opinions. His definition is, “they describe the type of communication where you add interpretations and opinion to your facts. An example would be, “My favorite color is gray, which is the best color there is.” When you talk about something that has happened and discuss what you think about it or how it affected is you demonstrating the second level.

The third level is Experiences and Emotions. Van Epp explains that this means, “They convey more of the subjective, personal and emotional content about your facts and opinions. An example is, “Gray isn’t a sad color for me. I find it brings me happiness when I see it.” This is probably one of the more used ones while talking to your spouse, especially during a time of trouble or a fluctuation in moods.

And lastly, the fourth level is Needs and Relationship Responses. Van Epp says, “this deepest level of communication occurs when you put your deepest feelings into words. Both refer to a here-and-now experience where you convey feelings you’re having at that time about either something very personal or some way you feel toward the person you are with. An example would be, “Although gray can remind most people of rain clouds and being sad, I think about the silver lining on those clouds, like when we struggle.” This level gets to the very bottom of how you feel right now about where you are at, what situation you’re in, and the feelings you have towards your spouse.

Obviously these examples included were light and airy, but hopefully they got the point across enough to help you understand.

Have you and your spouse ever talked about something a few times over the course of a few months? If you have it’s because your communication is deepening. Van Epp explained that, “As a relationship grows and communications “deepens,” the same topics are revisited time and time again but with greater depth. For instance you can talk to someone about your experience within your family of origin with minimal depth. However, as time goes on and more is shared a greater depth of openness occurs. There are many depictions for the different depths of openness.” The longer you know and are around your spouse, the deeper your conversations are going to be. It’s normal, natural, and just what you want!

Being open in your marriage is what it needs to thrive. Learn about your spouse and your bond will grow with them. You two will be strengthened because of honesty and trust you give to one another. Here’s one more thing that Van Epp said, “Healthy relationships continue to cycle through the same topic areas from the situational and relationship domains, yet with more meaning and depth each time.” Hopefully this can help you with sharing more with your spouse. Build that strong and healthy relationship with them. Share thoughts and feelings openly, but don’t hurt your spouse. Communication is key to making your marriage work!

 

Photo Credits

 

Being a Jerk: Part I

Being a Jerk: Part II

Being a Jerk: Part III

Being a Jerk: Part IV

Being a Jerk: Part V

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Being a Jerk: Part V

Something crucial to have before and throughout your marriage with your spouse is a healthy relationship. Dr. John Van Epp has written about the importance of being a healthy person in a healthy relationship. He has been able to research and study what it takes to be in a great relationship and how to change if you aren’t.

First off, he says, “Healthy people make healthy choices.” He doesn’t mean that you can’t eat the dessert, but he does mean that your actions and thoughts stem from your past and present. Everything you have experienced and do now affect your relationship and marriage. He also said that, “Being a healthy individual is the prerequisite to being a healthy partner.” Being a good person, trying to better yourself, striving to be more than what you are now are all things that help you become healthy. If you are well balanced you are doing yourself, and your spouse, a service. “Being healthy is not just enough; you need to get healthy and smart about your relationship,” goes along with his idea of being a healthy individual for the sake of your marriage. This also goes along with the head and heart knowledge that we discussed in a previous article. If you feel that you need to better yourself in your marriage, start with figuring out what it is that you want to do better in. Are your lacking understanding and information about your spouse? Have you stopped being emotionally dependent on your spouse? Try and find what you can do to be a healthier person for yourself, and for your marriage.

A big part of an unhealthy marriage comes from unhealthy needs. What’s the difference between healthy and unhealthy needs you ask? Van Epp says, “Unhealthy [emotional] needs are normal needs taken to extremes.” Can you think of any normal needs that you might have turned into extreme needs? Van Epp gave a few examples of what this might look like including love turning into dependency, giving turning into enabling and codependency, and trusting turning into becoming naïve. These needs become dangerous after a while and can develop into relationship problems down the road. Although needs happen naturally and every human experiences them, we are able and have the power to control them.

Van Epp explains that needs become hazardous in our marriages. He says, “However, when a need is repeatedly neglected, a different pattern emerges. The need intensifies into a demand. If this emotional demand I unfulfilled, then it continues to increase until it becomes an absolute necessity.” You might be thinking that having these negative needs in your life can be critical to your marriage. It’s true. You will not have a healthy marriage that will last. But there is nothing to fear as long as you have a desire to change. And change is possible!

From his research he has put together four things that coincide with one another that results in change. The first one is having an insight into yourself. Are you able to see the mistakes you have made and are willing to admit to them? New information is second. What information have you found to help you out? Third is motivation. What is going to motivate you to be a healthier person for yourself and your spouse? And fourth is time. Changing and progress takes time and that’s is exactly what you need to give yourself. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t see results. If you don’t see results after a long period of time, are you trying your best? Have you pinpointed what you need to be working on?

Van Epp has discussed and explained what a healthy and unhealthy relationship is. He has helped make it easier for you to figure out where you and your spouse are at individually and together!

 

Photo Credits

 

Being a Jerk: Part I

Being a Jerk: Part II

Being a Jerk: Part III

Being a Jerk: Part IV

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