$1000 bucks of free therapy, blah, blah, blah: an addendum

This is Part 2 of a 2 parter. My last post highlighted the 7 caring habits and the 7 deadly habits of relationships.

I know that you have already read them, taken them to heart and revitalized every relationship in your life. Because of this I know that the following addendum to that post isn’t unnecessary, but I will provide it just in case.

The seven habits are self explanatory and have a touch of a “no duh,” quality to them. I do think that there is a little bit of extra info needed to use them to the fullest. They may be “no duhs,” but if it were as easy as just doing them, we would be doing them. Because a relationship consists of more that one person it is likely that there will also be more than one opinion that needs to be considered.  I sit in a lot of kitchens and living rooms with a lot of folks and I see the same thing time after time when people aren’t getting along.

If you want to practice each any the seven caring habits effectively, you must understand how the other people in your relationship(s) define them. If you go out of your way to support someone the way you would like to be supported, but it isn’t what they need, there are going to be problems. They are likely not to feel supported and you are likely to be resentful that you weren’t appreciated for your hard work.

 My mother-in-law is an amazing cook and baker. When I was new to the family she made me a chocolate birthday cake that was phenomenal. I heard that it was anyway, I am not a fan of chocolate cake. To me chocolate cake is like that dirt that worms are in when you buy them for bait. I realize that this makes me a freak to the rest of the world. I am ok with that.

Everyone loves my mother-in-law’s famous chocolate cake so she thought that she was really hooking me up. I appreciated the gesture, but I’m not a fan and it missed the mark. Since then she has made me her famous carrot cake for my birthday and I will eat it all in one sitting. Now she knows what I like. She is a hero and I am even fatter, it is a win-win.

The cake thing was a one time thing in my family and not a big deal. The things that go on in our relationships happen over and over and that’s why they start to expose raw nerves. We often aren’t aware of the infractions that we commit against the people that we do life with. They aren’t aware of how they offend us. They are often too polite to say anything. So are we. Most of us don’t like confrontation so we learn to cope.

I see a lot of moms that nag and they don’t realize it. I can tell you if you are telling your kids things three times, that’s too many. Whatever finally gets them moving might be yelling, threatening or an old school shoe boomerang. Whatever it is, you have conditioned them to not respond until that point is reached. Don’t get mad at me moms, I am just sayin’.

Dads before you high five yourself and think you’re off the hook, read on. I see a lot of dads that demand respect, but only offer a vague definition of what this is to their kids. Dads seem to play the respect card for just about everything that gets on their nerves. They are usually hard pressed to pinpoint a static definition. Their kids don’t respect them because they don’t put the dishes in the sink, or take out the trash, or listen, or blah, blah, blah.

14 is too many habits for me to give examples for individually. I don’t want to type that much and you don’t want to read that much. Here is what I recommend. Pick a couple of the habits that you would like to try to improve a relationship with and find out how the other person would be best served. Ask them directly, email them, text them or send a smoke signal. You might say, “Hey, how can I support you best?” Don’t assume anything. Let them tell you.

At my church sometimes we will rally around a family in need them and bring them meals. They may have a loved one in the hospital or some other kind of crisis that requires some support. I have been a part of this kind of thing on more than one occasion. It always strikes me that when I go to take food, the fridge is super full. I have to rearrange a bunch of untouched lasagnas and casseroles to fit in my lasagna or casserole. People want to help so they bring enough food to feed an Army. This happens three times a day, day in and day out. There is only so much room for bags of salad in a fridge. This kind of support is nice but at some point it isn’t the kind of support that is needed. Are you tracking with me?

I also recommend that you try and eradicate some of the deadly habits. This can be hard because you may not be aware of them. It’s hard to ask other folks in your life because they might think that is open season to list all of your faults. For instance, “Honey, do you think that I nag?” This is a tough spot for a “honey.” There are two choices: the sensible response, “No, never,” or the Pandora’s box response, “weeelll, yes, let me tell you how in 100 different ways.” Neither is helpful. I can imagine that the reader has a hunch of a place to start with the 7 deadly habits. I will leave that up to personal choice.

Get after it.

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