By Chandrama Anderson
E-mail Chandrama Anderson
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ... (More)
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background in high-tech is helpful in understanding local couples' dynamics and the pressures of living here. I am a wife, mom, sister, friend, author, and lifelong advocate for causes I believe in (such as marriage equality). My parents are both deceased. My son graduated culinary school and is heading toward a degree in Sociology. I enjoy reading, hiking, water fitness, movies, 49ers and Stanford football, Giants baseball, and riding a tandem bike with my husband. I love the beach and mountains; nature is my place of restoration. In my work with couples, and in this blog, I combine knowledge from many fields to bring you my best ideas, tips, tools and skills, plus book and movie reviews, and musings to help you be your genuine self, find your own voice, and have a happy and healthy relationship. Don't be surprised to hear about brain research and business skills, self-soothing techniques from all walks of life, suggestions and experiments, and anything that lights my passion for couples. (Author and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Calif. Lic # MFC 45204.) (Hide)
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I hear a lot of complaining about what a partner did or didn’t do. A lot of, “If you loved me, you would/wouldn’t,” and see many behaviors that lack appreciation and leave a partner feeling s/he will never be good enough.
I was steered to Amy Sutherland’s article What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage
by one of my clients, and I loved it. I think you will, too.
Amy was working on an article about exotic animal trainers, and decided to try the techniques on her husband -- and give up nagging. The basic gist of it is to reward or praise the behavior you want, and to completely ignore the behavior you don’t want.
My little dog likes to put his paws on me so I can pet him. But I don’t want him jumping up on people. His first mom showed me to just turn away when my dog jumps up. And lo and behold, he has almost completely stopped (he’s 14 and learning this). We continue the same behavior.
It’s so easy to take things personally. If she’s in a mood, I must have done something wrong vs. she’s in a mood, I wonder what’s up and if she needs anything from me? The first puts you in a position of often feeling like something is wrong with you (it’s likely not about you anyway). The latter puts you in the position of being a supportive partner who will give love in her love language, or space, if that’s what she needs in that moment.
What are you able to accept about your partner, and what do you really need to be different? What is it about you that leads you to require one or the other of these?
As you are in this relationship together, in each other’s care, think about what is needed for “us.” Nagging is not helpful for you. It’s not helpful for “us,” either.
Of course, this won't apply to grievous behavior.
Enjoy your exotic animal training, and cherish your beloved, unique, human animal. I can't wait to hear how it goes.