Happy New Year!!
Granted, by now we’re a few weeks into the New Year and, since our Gregorian calendar insists on kicking the year off with January for some reason, that fresh “new year smell” has probably already begun to fade. Well, Happy New Year anyway.
And in that spirit, how are those resolutions holding up? You know, the New Year’s Resolutions, often conceived and made by those of us still falling well short of perfection, where we promise ourselves personal betterment in some way… to quit this, start that, improve here, or trim there. If you’re like most people – well-intentioned if inconveniently human – most of the good intentions optimistically pledged during the happy height of the holidays fall prey to the slushy, dark, cold, virus-infested truth that is January. We hope, if you are the resolution making type, you‘re still going strong. The longer you stick with a new, positive behavior the likelier it is to become habit. The longer you stay away from old, destructive habits the likelier they are to be permanently broken and replaced with good behaviors. If you are still plugging away as you read our belated New Year greeting, congratulations!
What is great about New Year’s resolutions is the necessary self-examination they demand. Unfortunately, most people’s self-examination tends to stay safely on the surface and focus on the obvious – diet, health habits, exercise, etc. - while ignoring or avoiding deeper and more uncomfortable topics. We want to challenge you to go deeper. We’re going to go back to our roots and challenge you to take a close look at your relationships. Take the time for a “Relationship Check-up”.
Law enforcement can be tough on relationships, and especially so on the most important one, that between you and your “significant other” in whatever form it takes. We’ll look at the check-up from that perspective, but it many ways it can also be applied to the other major relationships in your life (kids, friends, extended family). No matter how tight your bond or how successful you’ve been so far, the passage of time can wear on the quality and strength of that relationship. It’s easy to get complacent or fall into bad habits; vigilance is necessary to ward them off.
When doing a check-up of your relationships health, it’s easier to focus on what is working for the two of you, point to it in a self-satisfied way, and declare victory. Unfortunately, that’s not enough. You have to be attuned to what isn’t working, or what has slipped over time, in order to accurately assess the overall health of your relationship. Dr John Gottman and his wife, Dr Julie Schwartz Gottman, are widely considered the foremost experts in the field of couples therapy. For over thirty years, The Gottman Institute has been researching relationships and what makes some work and others fail. Out of their studies they develop tools for therapists. To many in the field, the Gottmans are gurus!
Out of their research, the Gottmans have identified eight dysfunctions commonly found in ailing relationships. As you look at your own relationship - and hopefully you do this openly and honestly together – you will want to determine not just what you still do well but also where symptoms of trouble are beginning to poke through. These are:
More NEGATIVITY than POSITIVITY
When people in successful, stable relationships are in conflict with each other they tend to remain positive in how they speak and relate to each other despite their conflict. Research by the Gottmans shows, in fact, the ratio of positive to negative interactions in word, deed, and reaction to each other is 5:1. Among couples in unstable, failing relationships that ratio is 0.8:1.
How are your interactions? Are you more positive than negative with each other, even when you are fighting? Or does conflict bring a combative, insulting, or provoking nature to your relationship?