Okay, I know at first glance it seems strange to have a therapist suggesting that you argue in front of your children – but that’s exactly what I am suggesting, WITH some caveats. Fight fair. This means:
* Argue about what you’re arguing about (not about issues from the past)
* No below the belt
* No yelling
* No name calling
* Listen
* Behave respectfully
* Obviously no hitting or throwing things
* Keep the argument between you and the person you are arguing with (don’t bring other people into it)
* Take a break if needed (when your anger thermostat gets too high)

Now that the ground rules are set, go ahead and argue in front of the kids – on occasion. Children need to see that normal couple’s argue. That’s right, I said it. It is normal for couple’s to argue on a regular basis and children need to see the appropriate way to deal with conflict. If mommy and daddy never argue in front of them, they may grow up with unreasonable expectations that happy couple’s never fight. Just to be crystal clear: yelling, throwing or hitting is also known as domestic violence and is never appropriate – especially in front of children.
~Frank Clayton, Licensed Professional Counselor

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In my experience as as a counselor, I find poor communication to be the culprit in most marital strife. As part of that miscommunication is: the signal sent is not necessarily the signal received. One of the most damaging of these miscommunications is a distortion in the language of love. Take a moment to consider:
How do you really feel love? Think of times where someone has done or said something that REALLY made you feel loved.
Conversely, how do you express love? If you want someone to know that you really love them, what do you do or say?
Suppose the way you say “I love you” is via gifts but the way your mate feels “I love you” is by spending quality time? Then your gift may not be appreciated and worse yet your mate may not feel loved. Maybe said mate is trying to tell you “I love you” by asking to spend time together, but you are too busy earning the money to buy the gift which you hope will let them know how much you really love them. In the meantime your mate may feel unloved.

The 5 Love Languages

In his book, The 5 Love Languages , Gary Chapman does an excellent job of explaining the five different languages of love: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts and acts of service. On his website (www.5lovelanguages.com) you can take a brief test to find out what your primary love language(s) is/are. You can find his book at the local Borders or Barnes & Noble. I recommend reading it together. You can (literally) get on the same page, Kindle and rekindle the flames of love in no time.

Frank Clayton
Licensed Professional Counselor

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TextingSocial connectedness is one of THE biggest predictors of Happiness. Just to be clear, the connection I am speaking of, does not involve wires. It seems more and more common to see people sitting at a table, staring intently NOT into one another’s eyes but to their phone. There is great irony in having such a passion for communicating with one another electronically while ignoring the person we are with. It seems that the more we plug into cyber space, the more we unplug from one another. Not only is intimacy lost, but miscommunications are rampant. For instance, sarcasm does not translate well in typed form and often the message intended is not the message received. Only a fraction of our communication is the exact words used. Most of it comes from the tone, volume, and cadence of what is being said not to mention non-verbal communication. In my practice, I hear more and more couples arguing about issues that started in text, E-mail or something written on Facebook. Arguments that may have never started if they were just communicating with one another. Again, social connections are SO important to our Happiness and communication is a key element of our connection with others. I ask you to consider these points and make a conscious decision of how you want to handle this 21st century problem. My vote would be to PUT THE PHONE DOWN, look into the face of your friend or loved one sitting across from you and talk to them. That person and your connection to them is one of the ways you can live a happier life.

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