Listen first, Add your two scents later.

Based on the latest poll results, communication appears to be a big concern in many relationships. Can’t say that I’m surprised, because this would be my top choice when doing a quick self-check on what contributes to my relationship happiness.

Thinking back to conversations that I’ve shared with family and friends over the years, I do see a common theme. Placing blame on the person, and pointing out many of their faults. But what about what WE are doing to contribute to the poor communication?

Let’s focus on how WE can make things better, instead of waiting, hoping, and praying that our significant other will make those changes that we have suggested no less than maybe a dozen times each week.

A great place to start would be taking the time to evaluate how you LISTEN when speaking with your partner, co-workers, friends, and family members. One thing I’m guilty of for sure is interrupting..smh. When I’m supposed to be listening, I’m already adding to their story by sharing my own experiences. For example, let’s say one of my siblings shares with me a horrible work experience. Normally, before they can even let me know what happened, I’ve already let them know what I’ve been through. I know many of us do this, because I have witnessed this on multiple occasions and have never given this a second look. I’m not saying not to respond at all, because that would be lame. Nothing worse than expecting to have a conversation, but ending up getting a blank stare and wide eyes. I’m still going to have my gasps, and add my (I can’t believe that) in the background. But I’m wondering what differences we could see if we chose to interrupt less, and did more to change what we are doing to improve our communication versus waiting for the other person to get it together.

Any thoughts or ideas on how to improve how you communicate with others?

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Wellness Wednesday

How would you judge the quality of the “wellness” in your relationship?  Dictionary.com defines wellness as: an approach that emphasizes the prolonging of your life…or in this case your relationships.  How well do you need to know someone before comfortably agreeing to begin dating?

I am wondering what your thoughts are on friendships in your romantic relationships.  Is it necessary to be friends first, or can friendship come after you’ve already decided to begin dating?

I had the opportunity of interviewing some gracious volunteers to help begin our discussion.  Some background info on the individuals participating in the interview:

*Ages: 18-35 (male and female)

*Relationship Status: Single, dating & married

*Average length of relationships: 6 months to 4 years

*Each question targeted the experiences in their relationships (currently or in the past)

Here are the questions that were included during each interview:

1) What is your current relationship status?

2) If you are currently in a romantic relationship, were you friends first before deciding to see one exclusively?

3) If you were friends first, how would you say that has benefited your relationship, if any? If you weren’t friends first, how has this impacted your relationship?

4) What advice would you give others considering beginning a new relationship?  Is friendship mandatory before dating, or no?

Results:

Interview 1).

My significant other and I met in an academic environment during undergrad. During the first month or two we had brief conversations in passing, but we’re berry much so strangers. Just by coincidence or fate whoever it may be construed, these passing moments became more frequent and the conversations deeper. There was an obvious attraction between us which led to a dinner date. We dated for about two months before considering ourselves exclusive. I would not consider us as haven been friends prior to the exclusivity in that there was that obvious attraction that served as a catalyst for future interactions. In that same breath, those two months brought us extremely close. We became friends during that time period and later best friends in our relationship.

The strongest influence of not being friends prior to our relationship has been experienced during times of conflict. During serious disagreements and even cliched “breaks” lines of communication were completely disrupted. For example, say there was a bad argument or we decided we should take a break from dating there would little to no communication between us. Largely because we did not have that history of being friends outside of dating and that less intimate relationship to maintain. Take the polar opposite scenario, two best friends begin to date but later decide things aren’t working out. They likely are inclined to work towards restoring that friendship that led them to give it a shot in the first place. My relationship does not have that luxury. There is almost an “all or nothing” atmosphere to us and we don’t have that preexisting friendship to return to.

Being friends first is mandatory for a healthy exclusive relationship. However, that friendship can be developed before that exclusivity occurs. As seen in my relationship, there are some nuances to manage. However, talking through periods of disagreement and deciding on the levels of communication in times of turmoil are ways to overcome the shortcomings of not having a long friendship prior to being exclusive.

Interview 2).

Yes we were friends first and I do believe that to be the most important part in a lasting relationship. Nowadays, everything needs to be fast and it appears a lot of people want to rush the process. Knowing the person and being friends and actually liking to be around that person is what can get you through a lot of tough times.

Being friends helped because it allowed less pressure and promoted more ease in being myself. To me, the ability for two people to be themselves around each other without fear of ruining things with that person is a friend. Sticking a “boyfriend/girlfriend” label too early on muddles that.

My advice is QUALITY over quantity. Engaged people get asked the question “how long have you dated” and judgement is then given depending on the answer. In other words, if one couple says “we dated for three months” and another couple says “three years”, we quickly assume the later is better off. Taking time is great, but my advice is quality time. The couple with three months may have had numerous fruitful times together where communication flows, able to meet each other’s friend and family, and knows the other person very well. What I’m saying is dating, marriage is a big step and changes the course of your life. Do not take it lightly! Put in the quality (not quantity) time!

Click on the Relationships tab (or the link below) to see more results from these interviews.  Don’t forget to leave a comment.  Let’s talk about it!

http://FreeBryd.wordpress.com/real-lationships

*I will be posting more results from interviews throughout the day on Facebook.com/FreeBryd*

TV for dinner…again?!

TV for dinner…again?

Dinner time certainly has its perks. You may have the opportunity of spending more time with loved ones, or possibly zone out after a long day at work. I want to encourage each of you to do something differently today, if you haven’t already tried the ideas listed in the discussion to below.

I’m guilty of allowing my TV to become a permanent guest at my dinner table. Today, I want to use my pm meal time for a different purpose, and improve my presence in my relationship. That means that the television is going off (sorry Jahmil). I want to become better about giving others my full attention, minus the distractions. I want to force myself to be more “present” with others during this intimate time. Even if I spend this time dining alone in the future (coordinating schedules can be a nightmare), I still want to try something new. Reflect on how my day has been, thank God for the meal in front of me, and just “be”. Very rarely do I take a breather. I’m normally on the go (physically or mentally), and planning for “what’s next”. So, I am looking to change that. I want to see new results in my over well-being, and in my relationships. This is where I plan to start.

Here are some helpful conversation starters for couples, friends, or co-workers sharing a meal:

http://michaelhyatt.com/how-to-have-better-dinner-conversations.html

Those of you with little ones can play a game at the dinner table (remember food fights are too messy). One game that could work is a guessing game. You could each take turns providing details of a person, place, or thing, and then take turns guessing at the identity.

Allow your meal time to be one way for you to become closer to your loved ones, or give yourself some much-needed self-care.

Just try it, and see what happens!

*Special thanks to Jahmil and Melicia for your input*

Motivational Monday!

imageWhat messages are you telling yourself throughout the day?

We’ve all had those moments and experiences where “today is just a bad day.”  Sometimes these experiences can begin to spiral out of control, and before you know it you’re stuck in a rut.  <–The absolute worst right?!

There  is no instant cure that will fix whatever is going on in your life.  But, changing your thinking can give you a new pair of eyes.  This happened to me when someone close to me challenged me to approach my “problem” with a new perspective.  I had two options.  1) stay upset about what I couldn’t change and complain about this, or 2) promise myself not to stay “stuck” and plan for positive change.  Really taking the time to understand what messages I’ve been using to create the dark cloud that I couldn’t escape from.  It WAS me!

Take a few seconds to become upset and vent about what just happened to you.  But don’t keep yourself in the drama.  Choose positive messages that will help you begin to see positive results, and help to instantly change your mood.

When I knew that I couldn’t keep making EXCUSES.

As I sit here writing this blog, it has prompted me to consider how many times I have kept myself from acting on changing how I feel about myself.  Specifically, I am shocked that I have not done more to place myself closer to getting where I’d like to be.  Especially when I am 100 % guilty of complaining about, “not having this”, or “too busy to do that”.  Many of you may share similar experiences such as my own.  You have so many ideas and goals for yourself, but there has always been “something” keeping you from making those same plans come to life.

Creating this blog has been just an idea that I have bounced around in my head for quite some time.  I enjoy writing, and hope to one day publish books that will allow me to share my creativity with the world.  See, there I go again not speaking my dreams into reality.  I WILL have the opportunity of authoring books, speaking of Life, Love & Relationships where I create a place where I remember escaping to from childhood to my present years.  I WILL one day build a place where I am able to help families overcome their pain, and begin to improve their relationships, through treating both mental and behavioral concerns.

Recently, I wrote down every dream that I have for myself and paired them with the steps I would need to take to get there.  This is one of the reasons why I have developed this space for me to share my passion with the rest of the world…but mainly for me.  I needed to prove to myself that I wouldn’t get in my own way anymore.  I’m not going to lie, I have worried about the criticism that I will more than likely get from others.  If others won’t be able to understand the purpose of my plans, or maybe even point out a few typos.  But, what I keep hearing more than anything, is that none of that matters.  What do I honestly have to lose?  I’m proud to have placed myself in an uncomfortable, yet positive situation.  My sister has let me know constantly how proud she is of me for backing up my dreams with some real action.  “You did it”, she said, and of course this made me smile :-).

What I want to do with the rest of my life.

Of course.  The Million Dollar question…

Flash back to high school.  My final year of high school had to be the first real moment for me to begin considering, what was next.  I know, I know.  I appeared to be a late bloomer in the eyes of many. Struggling to figure out how I would earn a decent living after college.  College…wait, I hadn’t even picked out a major yet!  This is just a glimpse of how I spent the next few years. Unsure, scared, so uninspired to focus on where my life was headed.

Fast forward to present day.  I can say with confidence, that I have finally figured it out!!  Some background info on me: I’m normally the quiet, play by the rules type of gal.  There’s nothing wrong with living by the book.  But for me, I needed more. I feel so loved by my sibbies (all 5 of them).  Each and every one of them has hinted at my apparent ability to “live on the edge”, try something new”, or be a “free spirit”.  I love how they are able to notice such qualities that I wholeheartedly strive for.  But-I had to be honest with myself.  I haven’t been living to my greatest potential.  Up until recently, there hasn’t been a calling in my life’s work where I squealed from excitement.  I have that now!

I am 26 years old, and have received my Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.  I want to dream so big, that questioning my sanity becomes a rite of passage.  I will one day have the opportunity to publish books, pertaining to Life, Relationships and Love.  I strive to develop a place of my own: a safe haven for treating both the mental and behavioral concerns of individuals, couples, and families.

I am blessed to have my own personal army of supporters in my corner.  My family, and my Moon and Stars (for my Game of Thrones fans).  He’s been nothing more than patient, encouraging, my friend, and my first blogger critic!

I hope to share my journey with all of you, and inspire others to keep on pushing for more!  Thanks for visiting my blog!