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RELATIONSHIP REFLECTIONS
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Respect is the Minimum of Love

Live Respectfully! While you cannot arrange to always feel loving toward your partner, you can make a commitment to never treat anyone, including yourself, with less than respect and to never allow others’ behavior towards you to drop below the level of respect. For instance, consider the difference between saying “That’s not true!” and “I see that differently from you.” The first respects only my point of view. The second recognizes that people who see the world differently are not necessarily right or wrong. They may be only different. Living with respect means respecting both yourself and the other. It means holding a position of valuing each person’s thoughts, feelings, needs, wants and unique experience of the world, even when these are in conflict.

Respect is the minimum of loveThe question arises, “Who defines what is respectful and what is not?” Most of us know intuitively what constitutes respect or disrespect for us. However, it is also important that you and your partner share with each other your own definitions of respectful or disrespectful behavior. To a great extent, respect is in the eye of the beholder. Respecting each other’s sensitivities around what feels disrespectful, even if you do not perceive it the same way, is a powerful move that puts your relationship on a firm foundation of respectful living.

However, you may find that you and your partner have some intense conflicts over what constitutes “disrespect.” For instance, if your partner grew up in a proper New England family where voices and energy are always kept low and calm, they may feel disrespected when you, who grew up in a boisterous Italian family, raises your voice and energy in a “discussion.” On the other hand, you, as the more high energy partner, may feel disrespected because when your partner refuses to engage with you at this level. So now what?

This is an excellent time to practice respect! Both of you can let go of defining your way as “the respectful way” and work to value the merits of the other’s style. You can work together to find a “middle ground” that incorporates both the “peace and quiet” of the “New England” style and the energy and engagement of the “Italian” style. Develop “our” style – one that fits for both of you.

There are a couple of other important points about living respectfully.

Blatantly disrespectful behavior, e.g. lying, cheating, screaming, name-calling, disregarding agreements, poisons your relationship in several ways. First of all, in behaving in these ways, you move to a position of disregard, even contempt, for your partner. From this position, there can be no love or connection. Secondly, when you treat your partner in these ways, they will inevitably build up resentment at being regarded as unworthy of respect. There also can be no love or connection when one is filled with resentment. So, your chance for loving connection takes a double hit.

Lastly, behaving respectfully towards your partner is a critical piece of maintaining your own self-respect. When you allow yourself to be blatantly disrespectful of your partner and/or your relationship, you cannot feel good about yourself. So, refraining from such behaviors is a great way to support your own sense of being a good human being.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Holding on for Dear Life: Responsibility for the Heart Connection

There are times when men in particular need to hold on to their partners for dear life.

holding your partner's heartWhat I mean is that men need to step out of their programming and hold the heart connection with their partner, and let them know by word and deed that they are doing this.

Most women learn from the time they are young girls that they are the ones who are responsible for the relationship connection, even sometimes to their detriment. Look at how many more books they read about relationships then most men do! They need to be able to let some of this responsibility go, and know that the men they love will hold the heart strings as well as them.

And guys, not only hold these lines, these connections, but let your partner KNOW that you are doing this consciously. Tell her: “I want you to know that I am always holding you and our relationship in my heart, and that I will hold us no matter what.” Then, follow through, like with your golf swing.

You are on target for a hole-in-one!

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Worlds Apart: When We Are Not in Curiosity, We Probably Are in Judgment

A few months ago, our daughter Danielle left her new cell phone in a dressing room, and it was stolen.

Adios, phone. Fugetaboutit. We’ll never see that again.

But Suzanne decides she wants to go to the police and report a stolen phone. So I tell her, “are you kidding?” Furthermore, she wants me to go with her to make the report. I can not imagine a bigger waste of time, as I am certain the police will do absolutely nothing after taking her report. So she hijacks me on our way home from a movie and drives Danielle and me to a police station, totally against my will and me complaining all the way, refusing to be of any help at all to her as she reports a stolen cell phone to the Denver police.

We were worlds apart on this one.

She was really angry with me the rest of that night until we talked the next day. She felt unsupported and deserted by me, and I felt dismissed and ignored by her. Finally, out of curiosity, I asked her why was it important to go to the police when they probably would not do anything except take a report and file it away? She said she didn’t know whether they would do anything or not, but it was important to her to go with Danielle and me to file a report so that Danielle could experience us taking what action we could rather than doing nothing. Danielle completely agreed with her and shared that it was also important to her that we went to the police.

Fotolia_66748363_XSThank God for curiosity. Someone said to me recently “when we are not in curiosity, we probably are in judgment.” It finally made sense to me why it was important to Suzanne to go to the police.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it has the power to heal relationships. And as it turns out – a month after we filed the police report, Danielle got her phone back!

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Integral Parenting: An Outgrowth of Our Personal Conscious Evolution

What is integral parenting?

Integral parenting is an evolutionary, developmental consciousness and skill set that empowers adults to connect and relate to themselves and children from wisdom and compassion. It is a way of parenting that is different in many respects from traditional parenting. It is an outgrowth of our personal conscious evolution, as well as the growing awareness of human rights in Western society and culture. It is not helicopter parenting or laissez-faire parenting.

It is characterized from the beginning by deep consistent involvement of all parties with one another. It really begins with the parents being committed to their own awakening and growth, as well as cooperating with the nature of the child, which, in turn, leads to deeper and deeper connection with each person. Instead of exercising power over the child, the parents develop power with the child; this is essential. Power struggles are greatly reduced because one-up power is no longer in practice. Neither are children falsely empowered in integral parenting. Influence goes in all directions and love, practiced by the parents from the outset, is the motivating force. It’s not about getting kids to cooperate. It’s about parents modeling same-as power at first with each other and teaching this way of being powerful with others, rather than having power over others.

Fotolia_62440904_XSEach person’s needs are important; each person is enough, and they matter in spite of their limitations and imperfections.

Integral parenting is person-centered rather than child-centered or parent-centered. Initially, the focus is primarily on the needs of the child(ren), although not exclusively, with gradually developing respect for each person in the family and extending to others outside of the family.

All-inclusive respect is one of the cornerstones of integral parenting. This includes respecting oneself as well as others. This is extremely important for parents (frequently mothers) who may tend to forget their own needs in parenting their child. The needs of the child are always taken into account, yet not exclusively. Children gradually learn to take others’ needs into account as well as their own because this is what is modeled by their parents. They learn to become both assertive and considerate of others.

What does power look like in integral parenting?
It is power with one another, rather than over one another, and at the same time, recognizes and respects natural hierarchies and differential statuses. This means that parents and children have influence with one another and allow themselves to be influenced. Each person’s status in the family is acknowledged, honored and respected. Essentially, power in the family is the power of love rather than fear. Integral parenting acknowledges natural hierarchies, i.e. the different statuses of various family members with corresponding rights and duties, privileges and responsibilities, depending on age and capability of each member. No member of the family is more important or less important than any other.

Integral parenting is parenting from a deeply adult place rather than from wounded or adapted child. Attempting to parent from wounded child is extremely dysfunctional, and children suffer deeply when parents are barely older emotionally than the children. More common is parenting from adapted child – usually either in mostly unconscious conformity or rebellion to how we were parented. Unfortunately, children parented from adapted child are not really seen and responded to for who they are and are becoming. Integral parenting requires adults to do their own work of waking up and growing up, so that they can be responsive to their child as well as to their own needs.

In closing, the structures of integral parenting are gradually emerging in the consciousness of adults who are evolving their own integral development. Parenting from wisdom and compassion is a hallmark of spiritual intelligence in adults who choose this way of life. None of us are perfect at this. We do have the ability to become more and more skillful, more and more grown up in our lives, even as we support our children’s growth and development.

This is our evolutionary journey together in the awesome adventure of conscious, integral parenting.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
and
Suzanne Mariner,
Certified Executive and Life Coach, Licensed Massage Therapist

How We Inadvertently Project Our Feelings On Our Significant Other

Not too long ago, a friend called us and kindly offered us cuttings and plants from her garden. She said just come, pick them up and take all you want; they are sitting on my front porch.

So I went over and gratefully took a big bunch. I took them home, happy as a clam. I proudly showed them to my wife who proceeded to tell me: “You were a little piggy, weren’t you?” Crestfallen, I went out to the garden with my plants, now beating myself up with “You were a little piggy, a little piggy.”

Suddenly, I stopped myself.

two people facing each otherWait a minute! I remembered that I’M ENOUGH AND I MATTER, even if I was a little piggy (which I wasn’t). I felt much better.

I went back to the house and reminded Suzanne that our friend said we could take all the plants we wanted, and I didn’t like being called a little piggy. She apologized and said,”Maybe just a little, little piggy,” and I chased her around the house, both of us laughing.

Later she admitted that if she had taken the plants, she would have maybe felt like a piggy, and maybe, just maybe, she was projecting on me.

Hallelujah!

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Desperate or Needy: OK for Many Men to be Needy?

Sadly, too many men define themselves as desperate rather than needy when the going gets tough.

man - desperate or needyIn this culture, it is not OK for many men to be needy. Too often they see themselves as desperate and sometimes justifying desperate behavior, often with terrible consequences for themselves and others. I was recently talking to a young man who laughed and said that he wasn’t sure that he wanted to see himself as having needs that weren’t being met. He was more comfortable seeing himself as desperate!

Here’s the deal:
I said to him, “It’s human to have needs and be needy at times in our lives. To have needs is part of what it means to be human, to be part of the human race. To define oneself as desperate in effect is to see oneself as apart from humanity, and to set up the justification of inhuman and entitled behavior towards oneself or others.”

He said he had never believed that it might be OK for him to be needy, but he was willing to think about it and to think about what he might be needing.

It might beat feeling desperate after all.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Self-Esteem: A Frequently Misunderstood Concept

I am deeply grateful to Pia Melody and Terry Real for their work on self-esteem, and their clarification of an extremely important and frequently misunderstood concept.

In contemporary society, it is all too common to base our self-esteem on WHAT WE HAVE (e.g., how much money do we have or not have), WHAT WE DO (a doctor is more important than a janitor), or THE OPINION OF OTHERS (if others have a good opinion of me, I’m OK, and if they don’t, then I’m not OK). While these are indeed powerful influences in our lives, we cannot let them be the basis of our self-esteem or self-worth, in part because they are all three subject to change, often in very short order!

The solid basis of self-esteem is what is intrinsic to myself and all human beings.

believe in yourselfI’M ENOUGH AND I MATTER IN SPITE OF MY IMPERFECTIONS AND LIMITATIONS (AND SO ARE YOU)!

This is essentially what it means to be human. As simple and true as these words are, they are often disturbing and challenging to us. We often don’t believe that we are enough, we matter and others are enough and they matter, too. But if we are willing to let this good news begin to sink in, it might just change our lives.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

The Passion and Purpose of Conscious Eldering: Addressing Challenges and Impacting Our Culture

If you think of people over 50 as seniors, then all Elders are seniors, but not all seniors are Elders.

generationsThe Elders of Colorado are conscious seniors, mostly over 65, who dedicate themselves to service to the world and to the younger generations that are coming after them. There is lots of information for and about seniors. and sadly very little about Elders. We take our inspiration in part from The Elders, a group of world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela, dedicated to working for world peace and service to the “youngers” of the world, especially those who are most in need of their support. The Colorado Elders mostly live and work locally in service to the youngers in our world.

Mary, Rick and I are getting excited about creating a conscious, nurturing elder group that would elicit discussion and support the work that each member is doing about which they are passionate and purposeful involving Eldering in their lives. We would most likely not be involved in the same projects. Our overall goal would be to provide each member a place where their work is valued and encouraged by one another and can be supported and critiqued in a nurturing environment whatever their Eldering work happens to be. I would like to see us address the challenges that each of us face being Elders in a culture that mostly does not value what we do.

For now, we will continue to meet on the second Monday of each month at 10am at the Eggshell in Cherry Creek.

Join us with your Eldering passion and energy!

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

The New Cathedrals: Awaken Awe and Inspire Us

It is significant that Dr. Victor Weisskopf, the former director of CERN, recently likened the monumental efforts of the world scientific community to build the Large Hadron Collider to the earlier efforts of humanity to build the great gothic cathedrals of Europe.

universeThe same spirit that led us to build spires that reached to the heavens is leading us to inquire into the smallest particles of all that exists.

While it’s not likely that we will fall on our knees to acknowledge the apparent discovery at CERN of the Higgs-Boson particle, sometimes referred to as the “god particle,” there is certainly reason to celebrate this amazing achievement. The great cathedrals and the great colliders have this in common.

They hopefully awaken awe in us and inspire us to not only reach for the stars but also to strive to understand, as much as we can, what everything in this awesome universe is all about.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Hope For The World: Continuing to Grow in Wisdom and Compassion

A recent article in the Denver Post reported that U.S. men ranked last in life expectancy among 17 countries studied, and U.S. women ranked next to last. Particularly shocking were death rates for men and women below the age of fifty when compared with rates in other developed countries in the study.

I was reminded of the words of Robert Kegan, the eminent Harvard developmental psychologist, when he said that there is hope for the world simply because there are more people alive over 50 and 60.

elder and youth connectingIn the above study, the rate of firearm homicides for younger people in the U.S. was 20 times higher than in the other countries. Even so, assault weapons are not the only reason so many of our young people are dying. They need to have a reason for living, and they need to find meaning in their lives. They need to know that the world needs them to stay the course and that those of us who are elders will give them all the help that we can. They need to know that as they live beyond 50 and 60 and continue to grow in wisdom and compassion, they become more and more the hope for the world.

How do you feel baby boomers and teenagers may connect with each other?

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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