Archive for September, 2009

My Ever So Excited Wife

Posted in Marriage Counselling on September 10, 2009 by Shaz

Question

As salamu ‘alaykum :

I have been married for 28 years, my wife gets upset on small things, and when she does she yells, makes baseless accusations about me, and claims there is nothing wrong with her behaviour. I have explained to her many times that I do not like her behaviour – she does not even apologise. I cannot take it any more so as a result I have stopped talking to her, because that’s the only way I can avoid this.

 

Answer:

By Karima Burns.

[Kristie Karima Burns has been counseling as a Homepath for over 9 years. From the U.S. she is a doctor in Naturopathy, a Master Herbalist, and teachs with inspiration from the Waldorf school. She uses art, health and education to heal others.]

There are a few possible ways to look at this situation to help you explore more suitable solutions. It sounds like you could be a victim of emotional abuse or it could simply be a different way of responding to situations in life.

For now your solution is suitable assuming that you are “not talking” during the period of anger only. People in general (women or men) need to respect their partner’s limits. If a partner says “I cannot handle the yelling right now” or “I do not like it when you call me names” that needs to be respected by the other party, also it needs to be respected that she too has limits. If the other person refuses to respect your limits you need to make the line “firmer” using a gentle form of resistance such as refusal to participate.

Each time a person resists engaging in a fight or angry confrontation with another they need to make it clear why they are leaving or disengaging in the “battle”. To be fair you should say each time, ‘I need to stop talking right now, and take a time out from this conversation as I do not want to become angry as well” or “I feel I do not deserve this emotional abuse. When you feel you would like to speak to me in a respectful manner we can talk”. I am giving general advice here for anyone who is directing emotional abuse at you. Of course you need to decide what to say based on who they are – wife, husband, boss at work, friend, parent, etc…

However, the most important thing is that your own response to them is respectful. To refuse to respond to an angry or unreasonable person is sometimes the best way to prevent more anger from surfacing on both sides. It is also a way of being respectful of your own human rights. However, if you also engage in disrespectful behavior, you are entering the “battle” with your own form of emotional abuse. If you are refusing to speak to her for hours or days on end then this is also a form of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can be passive as well as aggressive.

Another possibility to consider is that she may simply be seeing life in a completely different way, and is not behaving in any way that seems unusual to her. People have different temperaments and different ways of dealing with life. For example, people of the choleric temperament are often very dramatic in their speech. They may use exaggeration, drama and a raised voice when they speak. To someone who is not of the choleric type this may seem “unreasonable and yelling”. However, to them they may simply be raising their voice slightly and being dramatic. Since their normal way of living is dramatic they do not feel they are doing anything wrong. And they are not. A person of the phlegmatic temperament may get angry by becoming firm and quiet. This can be frustrating for those around them who can feel they are being “stubborn and not listening to them”. However, this is simply the phlegmatic person’s way of dealing with anger and is not “wrong” either.

You do not mention that she is using bad language or attacking you physically. You also don’t mention how loudly she is yelling. In my work with people I have noticed that people’s definitions of yelling can range all the way from a “slightly raised voice” to “screaming”. Some people even consider if a person is directing an intense conversation at them that the person is “yelling” even when the voice does not rise at all. It would help to know what category she is in. Is she really yelling or is she simply using a slightly louder or more intense voice?

Lastly, you mention that she is making “baseless accusations”. Could you be more specific?

Are these always the same?

Does she use bad language or are these accusations completely unrelated to anything?

Are some of the accusations accurate or partially accurate?

If she is making the same accusations over and over, you may want to sit and talk about each of them when she is feeling calm. If they are random accusations that are always different then this would be another sign of possible emotional abuse.

If you can honestly conclude that she is being excessive in her yelling there is little you can do about it until she realizes she has a problem. However, any problem that is discussed must also be discussed with a willingness on your side to also admit the problems you might contribute to the conversations. To be fair, most conversational problems have two sides. Sometimes the more aggressive person can seem “more wrong” or even “the only person that is wrong” but negative passive behavior can be destructive too.

Until things change the best thing to do is accept the way she is with love. If she does have anger management problems then realize compassionately that these are not your issues, and her anger is not completely directed at you. Help her to heal and find better ways to communicate with you. She is trying to communicate, but does not know how to reach you. Help her know how to reach you in the best ways.

In sha’Allah this is helpful.

A successful marriage: the missing link

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Advice for Wives, Tips for a Happy Marriage on September 1, 2009 by Shaz
A successful marriage: the missing link

By: Yasmin Mogahed

“And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between you; verily, in that are signs for people who reflect.” (Quran 30:21)

We’ve all read this verse on countless marriage announcements. But how many have actualized it? How many of our marriages really embody that love and mercy described by Allah? What is going wrong when so many of our marriages are ending in divorce?

According to Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs, the answer is simple. In his book, Eggerichs explains that extensive research has found that a man’s primary need is for respect, while a woman’s primary need is for love. He describes what he calls the “crazy cycle”—the pattern of argumentation that results when the wife does not show respect and the husband does not show love. He explains how the two reinforce and cause one another. In other words, when a wife feels that her husband is acting unloving, she often reacts with disrespect, which in turn makes the husband act even more unloving.

Eggerichs argues that the solution to the “crazy cycle” is for the wife to show unconditional respect to her husband and for the husband to show unconditional love to his wife. This means that a wife should not say that first her husband must be loving before she will show him respect. By doing so, she will only bring about more unloving behavior. And a husband should not say that first his wife must be respectful before he will show her love. By doing so, he will only bring about more disrespectful behavior. The two must be unconditional.

When I reflected on this concept, I realized that looking at the Quran and prophetic wisdom, there are no two concepts more stressed with regards to the marital relationship.

To men, the Prophet said, “Take good care of women, for they were created from a bent rib, and the most curved part of it is its top; if you try to straighten it, you will break it, and if you leave it, it will remain arched, so take good care of women.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

He has further stressed: “The most perfect believer in the matter of faith is one who has excellent behavior; and the best among you are those who behave best towards their wives.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

Allah says: “Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.” [Qur’an: 4:19]

The prophet has also said, “A believing man should not hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.” (Muslim)

In these jewels of wisdom, men are urged to be kind and loving towards their wives. Moreover, they are urged to even overlook their wife’s faults when showing that kindness and love.

On the other hand, when addressing the wife, the focus is different. Why are women not told again and again to be kind and loving towards their husbands? Perhaps it is because unconditional love already comes naturally to women. Few men complain that their wives do not love them. But many complain that their wives do not respect them. And it is this sentiment which is most stressed in the Quran and sunnah, with regards to wives.

Respect can be manifest in a number of ways. One of the most important ways to show respect is the respect of one’s wishes. When someone says, “I respect your advice”, they mean “I will follow your advice”. Respecting a leader, means doing what they say. Respecting our parents means not going against their wishes. And respecting one’s husband means respecting his wishes. The Prophet has said: “When any woman prays her five, fasts her month, guards her body and obeys her husband, it is said to her: Enter paradise from whichever of its doors you wish.” [At-Tirmidhi]

Why are we as women told to respect and follow the wishes of our husbands? It is because men are given an extra degree of responsibility. Allah says: “Men are the protectors and maintainers [qawwamun] of women, because Allah has given the one more [strength] than the other, and because they support them from their means . . .” (Qur’an 4:34)

But won’t this unconditional respect towards one’s husband put us, as women, in a weak, submissive position? Won’t we set ourselves up to be taken advantage of and abused? Quite the contrary. The Quran, the prophetic example, and even contemporary research have proven the exact opposite. The more respect a woman shows her husband, the more love and kindness he will show her. And in fact, the more disrespect she shows, the more harsh and unloving he becomes.

Similarly, a man may question why he should show kindness and love towards even a disrespectful wife. To answer this question, one only needs to look at the example of Omar Ibn ul-Khattab. When a man came to Omar (who was Khalifah at the time) to complain of his wife, he heard Omar’s own wife yelling at him. While the man turned to leave, Omar called him back. The man told Omar that he had come to complain of the same problem that Omar himself had. To this Omar replied that his wife tolerated him, washed his clothes, cleaned his home, made him comfortable, and took care of his children. If she did all of this for him, how could he not tolerate her when she raised her voice?

This story provides a beautiful example for all of us—not only for the men. This story is a priceless illustration of tolerance and patience, which is essential for any successful marriage. Moreover, consider the reward in the hereafter for those who show patience: Allah says, “Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full without reckoning (or measure).” (Qur’an 39:10)

How To Communicate Effectively With Your Spouse

Posted in Tips for a Happy Marriage on September 1, 2009 by Shaz
Communicating Effectively With Your Spouse
By  Maryam Bachmeier

Psychologist, Counselor, Writer – U.S

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Do you have some behaviors that interfere with the effectiveness of a successful day or a harmonious relationship or health? 
  • Do you end up yelling instead of telling your beloved how you really feel or what you really need?
  • Or, you just walk away, sulk, and say nothing?  

Unfortunately, these behaviors can harm a marriage.  Behaviors such as yelling can destroy the vital ingredient in life you got married for, or ruin true intimacy  or an opportunity to complete your religion.

There have been many articles written about the subject of communication. Probably, most of what you have read is good information addressing the positive behaviors that you want to embrace and use.  In Behavioral Psychology, we would call that using a replacement behavior, so is learning communication techniques. For instance, with yelling learning communication techniques is useful if you know the function, and how to make changes in your environment to help you use your new communication techniques, then you will be able to choose the appropriate communication techniques.

You might say that you are learning your own communication style and making changes.  You can also learn your spouse’s communication style, and use that information to “shape”, or teach and motivate him or her into using more effective communication techniques.  Exploring the “triggers”  that perhaps frustrate you, such as your wife asking you  questions in the middle of a TV show instead of waiting for a commercial, will help you decide what you want to change in your environment, and develop a plan of action to make those changes in a harmonious manner.  You also want to really understand the function of your communication style.

In Behavioral Analysis, there are four main functions for any behavior: to get attention, to escape something unpleasant, to get something (tangible), and to communicate, otherwise the behavior is truly visceral and not learned.  Ineffective attempts to communicate may be just that, tying to communicate, or the person might want attention.  So, what we will be doing is to conduct a mini asessment to find those triggers (structural) and the actual function of the ineffective communication style by looking for patterns.

Here, I will illustrate how to do this by using the problem behavior of yelling as an example.

For example, If you are yelling every time that your wife / husband tries to talk to you, how would you change the environment to reduce the probability of that trigger occurring again?  I can think of at least two possibilities:

Record the show which you want to watch, so that if he / she has something important to say, you won’t have a conflict between listening and watching the show. 

Or, you can ask your spouse to pick a special time when you know you can give your attention without becoming frustrated. 

 

.

You get the idea!

You will want to identify as many patterns related to your behavior as possible.  You will want to know what the triggers are, and what reinforcers (functions) there are.

Now, here you are, ready to take action. This is what you do. You will use a simple tool called the ABC tool from the science of Applied Behavioral Analysis. Take a piece of paper and make three columns. 

  • In column one, write “antecedent.” 
  • In column two, write “behavior”. 
  • In column three, write “consequences”. 

For the following week, write down in:

Column 1:

Everything you see in your environment, everything that is happening around you, and the event that has just occurred before you yelled. Then, write down what you are thinking about and how your body is responding (is your jaw tightening up?  Are you feeling hot?  Does your leg start to shake?

Column 2:

Every time you yell

Column 3:

Everything that happened immediately after you yelled. Did someone try to console you?  Did someone yell back?  Did someone walk away?  Write it all down in the consequence column. 

Next, (a week later) analyze your ABC chart and look for a pattern.  You should be able to identify the triggers that “set you off” and the reinforcers that make you feel comfortable using this behavior on a regular basis (even though now you don’t want to). 

The next step in the preparation stage is to develop the plan of action.  In this case, it will involve learning coping skills when a “trigger event” occurs; appropriate responses to the other or events (social skills); and a way to feel better (self soothing skills).  You will first need to be able to identify when a trigger is about to happen and how your own body is responding just prior to a yelling event.  And to prevent the yelling, you will learn alternate behaviors and affirmations (which will eventually change what you think and how you feel during triggering events).  So here, you have a plan of action with a list of skills and alternative behaviors to learn.

Now that we have gone through the process of analyzing the patterns that are triggering and reinforcing the problem behavior, and we have identified the effective communication techniques that you want to learn, it is time to actually make the needed changes in your environment if possible, to reduce the probability of triggers and to learn your new communication techniques. 

I won’t actually be teaching specific techniques in this article, but I may do in the future if there is a demand for it.  Techniques such as taking deep breaths, stop looking, listening, taking a walk before you talk, and using I statements are very popular and many writers have already written about them.   But one should realize that it takes at least three weeks to develop a new behavior, and to be able to use it consistently, so be very patient with yourself, especially when you are on the learning curve.  Remember, ‘practice makes perfect’. 

In order to keep the momentum going, you will need to reward yourself for your successes.  This may sound silly, but it works, you can actually give yourself a star in your journal each time you are successful in using the new behavior.  You can also keep track of how many opportunities or time you felt “triggered”, and how many times you used the old behavior, and how many times you used the new one. This way, you can see your progress, and you will be motivated to keep going.