Tag Archives: Honeymoon

“I Feel Like You Should..”

“I feel like you should…”  If this is how you’ve been talking about your feelings, it’s time to learn how to be more honest and effective.

It’s a bit like “I love you, but . . . ”

You’ve lost me at the “but”.

Sometimes, talking to people we love about things that matter is too hard to even get started. This is where emotions come in handy.

I’m blogging about emotions for two reasons.

  • Learning to notice and name what you feel helps you figure out what you need;
  • Learning to talk effectively about what you feel and need is key to great relationships.

Say you and your partner are both foodies. It’s what drew you together. You thought “We both adore cooking, it’s going to be fun!” But after a few months of Honeymoon best-behaviour (when neither of you spoke up for what you really wanted) you began to resent “cuisine compromise.” Neither one of you ever truly made a dish – it was all “What do you think – add the sherry or red wine vinegar?” You longed to have the kitchen to yourself to make a disaster or delicacy all on your own. You’re savvy enough to know you’re supposed to talk feelings and “I” statements so after one helpful tidbit too many you blurt out “I feel like you’re way controlling – I can make a potato salad for heaven’s sake.”

Great start – you’ve noticed a surge of anger and spoken up for something you want.  You’ve let your feeling of “angry” identify your need for “kitchen autonomy.” Odds are your partner won’t take it that well though. You may have lost ‘em at “You’re way controlling.”

Here are 7 steps for speaking with your partner more effectively.

  1. Presume do-overs. Cut yourselves some slack for botched first ( second and third) attempts. It’s rare for couples to talk effectively to one another on the first go-around.
  2. Figure out what you feel. Check your cheat sheet, Parrott Emotions Tree 2001and/or read “I Feel So Bad!
  3. Use your feelings to identify what you need.  See this posting.
  4. Break the ice with something. “Wow – who knew I had such strong feelings about potato salad?”;  “I was a toad in there – sorry! But I’ve figured out why I was all snappy. Are you open to hearing it?”
  5. Just talk through your process. Literally, lead them through what you’ve just done in steps 2 and 3. Tell them how you sleuthed out what you felt and maybe what you think you need.
  6. Get curious. What does your partner feel and need?
  7. Get creative When you both know what you each feel and need you can come together on the same team against the disconnection you both felt. Now you’ll feel more like collaborating together for some win-win solutions.

“Well, we want more independence, but to cook together some too. And new – so maybe a class or two? And guests – livens things up. What else do we want?”

And you’re off.

Watch for that shift from “I” and “You” statements to “We” statements.

This is key!

Separate Honeymoon Anyone? Part 2

Part II – The Solution For (our Honeymoon &) Your Family!(Continued from Part I)

In the face of multiple, competing and divergent family interests, did you identify anyone in your family (or yourself) as ever behaving like a Martyr, Bully or Pleaser?

Is there another way?

If there were another way, what would it look like?

Is it possible for very different people, with different ages and interests, to figure out what to do together in a way that no one has to compromise, bully or cajole so much that people feel lost, bossed or herded?

Indeed, is there a way that the planning can be part of the fun whilst building intimacy and connection?

Yes there is ~ meet

Style #4 The Mediator.

Looks like:  “OK, we’ve got six people and nine great ideas between us. Let’s decide right now that we’ll make it a great day no matter what we end up doing. I’ve got an idea that might help – are you guys up for hearing it?  How be if we each share our best idea and why it’s important to us? Let’s really listen to each other because what we can’t do today we could perhaps do another day. It’s important that everyone speaks up because it’s good to know what we each enjoy. We’ll hear one another out and see if one or two ideas seem best for this group on this day. If most of us can agree on what to do, let’s commit to doing those other ideas this year so over time we’ll all get to influence the group and feel good about our shared decision.”

Pro – Everyone has a chance to check in with themselves to see what sounds fun and why, and to put it out there. Everyone also gets the chance to listen to the others so you get to know one another more fully. The process of talking and choosing can be great fun – loads of improbable ideas can be tossed out and laughed over.  Even “the losers” (those whose ideas are not decided upon for this day) know they are not long term losers because their ideas have been heard and are now on the agenda for another day.

Con – This approach takes time. It can get messy in the middle with pre-schoolers thinking of nutty things and teenagers saying “whatever” until you gently invite them to be more specific. It assumes a level of kindness amongst group members. It requires the group to value the process as well as the outcome.

Upshot – No matter which idea is chosen, everybody wins in 3 ways:

  1. You get to know yourself better (by checking in with what you feel and want)
  2. You get to know those around you better since you hear what they feel and want.
  3. You get to practice connecting to one another, which minimizes the chances you’ll become enemies or strangers over time.

If you are interested in being The Mediator next time your family has a group decision to make, here’s a process you may find helpful:

Family Mediation in 5 Easy Steps


If you see a situation that could easily turn to custard – such as a group of quite different folks all trying to agree to a plan – take charge and immediately raise the bar by stating an exciting or compelling intention. In the example above the Mediator said

Let’s decide right now that we’ll make it a great day no matter what we end up doing.”

Another way is to pose this question: “

Is it possible for us as very different people, with different ages and interests, to figure out what to do together in such a way that no one has feel lost, bossed or herded?”


Since it will immediately be obvious to everyone that not all the ideas on the table can be undertaken, there’s the possibility of some tension – particularly if you’ve got a handful of competitive sorts who are tuned in to the idea of winners & losers. By letting your group know you’ve got an idea that has benefits for everyone no matter whose ideas are acted upon, you might get some buy-in for your plan.

I’ve got an idea that means we all win. Even if your idea isn’t the one we all agree to today, it will be put on the agenda for another time. So, are you up for hearing it?


By inviting everyone to weigh in with what is genuinely true for them  – even your surliest teen and Gran who always puts everyone else first – you will accomplish two very important tasks. First of all everyone gets to take responsibility for how his or her day goes. If everyone puts an idea forward it has a chance of being chosen – if not today then soon. If someone has no ideas at all,  can he or she agree to see if someone else’s idea sounds good and support it as their own? It is always easier to knock an idea than generate one – right? Same with choosing what to do. This practice of inviting everyone to contribute avoids the issue of people defaulting to one person’s idea and then grumbling.

How be if we each share our best idea and why it’s important to us? Let’s really listen to each other because what we can’t do today we could perhaps do another day. For me, I’d love to split the day between a leisurely brunch since I’m famished, and then I think a zoo trip would be wonderful. Who’s next?”


After everyone has had suggested an activity and why it might be fun for him or her, each person in the group will have a better sense for what might be best. Maybe little sister reminds the group she wanted to fly a kite last time you did this and it wasn’t possible because there was no wind, so on this blustery day her idea might be a good one. Whilst maybe your idea of a leisurely brunch wasn’t well received since the kids had all been snacking all morning and were full of energy. See if you can get a few people to sum up what seems to be the fairest and best-for-all ideas and propose them. You need to name the ideas that are to be shelved for now (like little sisters kite flying was last time). If there are still two quite different activities being championed by two or more people, go a bit deeper. Ask each person things like;

So Mandy, you’re keen for us to cycle over to Kelly Tarltons and then on to St. Helliers for ice-creams because Kelly Tarltons has that special on and you adore ice creams on hot days. OK. And for you Danny heading over to hike in the Hanuas with a picnic lunch is more fun because you hate cycling on busy roads and want some shade? Can anyone think of a way to shift these two ideas a bit so everyone is happy?”

Opening it up for everyone to weigh-in once more might elicit some good compromises everyone can live with – like a shady Hanua (Danny’s wish) hike with ice-creams (Mandy’s wish) and a commitment to schedule Kelly Tarltons soon.

People dig their heels in and get stuck when their ideas and reasons remain unheard.  Try it – really listen to what people want, acknowledge it, commit to meeting that request as best you can in the near future – and see if this person is willing to become more flexible.


This is key to bumping into happiness on all sorts of occasions. If – at the beginning of an undertaking – you identify what will make you particularly happy about this project as you undertake it, and then if you look back on this project and remember how you achieved what you said you wanted to achieve – you will feel happy about it.   No matter who suggested the activity your group ends up committing to, each member of the group can think about one thing they are especially excited about. So – Mandy who wanted the bike trip and ice-creams can anticipate the ice-creams on route to the hike. Gran, who does not hike much and who plans to take a folding chair and bird watching book so she can be in the hills but not hiking, might say “I hope to see those cute Fan Tails – I’ve heard they love this area.” And usually sullen teen might say “I’ll take the stop watch – save me doing track tomorrow if I run some of this trail.”  You get the idea, right? You are inviting everyone to buy-in to the day with their own unique set of reasons.


 Oh yes – the honeymoon?  It’s hard to keep these blog posts to around 1000 words (my goal!) I’m at over 1400 already.

I’ll write a fuller blog about the honeymoon if anyone is interested. But, in brief, Mark and I planned an open-ended adventure through Europe and the Middle east. We’d saved about $5,000 USD (good money in 1982); sold the Subaru after driving from Seattle (top left on the map of the United States) to Florida (bottom right on the map), for another $1200 and flew off to London where we cajoled our 1974 VW camper into a road-worthy first home. We allowed the adventure to take shape and when, after about 5 or 6 months we found ourselves voicing different priorities for the summer of 1983 – we “invented” this process, with a twist.

1. We sent an intention to create a marriage in which our individual passions could still flourish. We had stated in our vows that we wanted our union to make us bigger people, not smaller ones.

2. We committed to finding a win-win solution.

3. We talked about what we each wanted and why.

4. In the face of apparent gridlock we discovered the idea of taking a month apart at the same time – Mark for his German adventure and me for my French one.

5. We identified goals we each wanted to achieve and tell one another about upon our reunion – at a suitably romantic little Inn in Annecy.

It worked. We both had quite delightful adventures.

And the rest, as they say, is history!



Separate Honeymoon Anyone?

Part 1 – The Problem

As my fiancée and I started planning our honeymoon (and life) together, we pretty quickly came to the conclusion that we both wanted to include some activities and adventures that the other wasn’t so interested in.

Mark’s got reasonable German and wanted to stride about the Austrian alps – “Macht schnell“.  I fancied strolling through the Ardèche river valley in SE France sampling baguettes, local wine and cheese – “Bon appetit!”

Before I tell you what happened to us on our separate honeymoons (yes we did marry, we did separate on our Honeymoon and we are still together), it occurs to me now that this is a universal problem all families must face. As Mark and I discovered before we got married and started a family, just because you love one another doesn’t mean you actually will want to do everything together all the time.

Can this be OK?

If so, how?

This question is alive and well as a small sample of some recent issues from my therapy office shows:

  • A long-married couple is struggling to adapt as the wife finally admits she actually dislikes sitting with her husband every night watching TV: she is longing for more intellectual pursuits;
  • Two partners (one from NZ and one from the USA) are trying to understand what each means by “let’s party!”
  • The assumption “when we’re a team we do everything together” is getting a challenge as a couple can’t agree over how to design and build a planter box and they wonder if this is a slippery slope toward some fundamental incompatibility.

So, whether you are trying to agree on how to throw a dinner party, create a shared garden space, spend your evenings, plan an upcoming long weekend with the kids or design your ideal Honeymoon the fact is there are times when you’ll want one thing and your partner will want another. Throw in a few kids with different ages and interests, the in-laws or some house guests and the odds are good that you’ll never please all of the people all of the time.

In my experience people choose one of three broad approaches to try solving this issue. See if these feel familiar.

Style #1 – The Martyr

Looks like:  “Oh, I’ll just go along with what the others want. I don’t really mind. It’s OK with me. I just want everyone to get along and stop arguing. If someone won’t compromise we’ll never do anything!

Pro – If you are apparently willing to do “whatever” then the odds do improve that your “sacrifice” will take one voice out of the equation and maybe un-complicate things enough for the most persuasive person’s idea to take form.

Con – If you get into the habit of not speaking up you run the risk of disappointing yourself by doing things you don’t enjoy and disappointing the group since it’s not much fun to be around Martyr’s – they can be a bit half-hearted and self-righteous.

Upshot – Practiced frequently, you’ll start to forget what you genuinely enjoy. Every time you bring out the Martyr behaviour you will disappear a little bit. You’ll get cut off from what you genuinely feel and need. You’ll become a bit more of a stranger to yourself and your family. If you lose touch with what makes you happy (which is a big part of who you are) you run the risk (at an extreme end of these decisions over time) of living an inauthentic life and becoming angry and bitter in your later years.

Style #2 – The Bully

Looks like:  “Oh for heavens sake be quiet and listen to me. I’ve got a great idea and if someone around here doesn’t take charge we’ll never get anywhere. He’s what we’ll do. Come on!”

Pro – If you have the energy and leadership to rally the troops in this single-minded way you will most likely get them up, out and doing something.

Con – With this “lets just get on with it” approach, you run the risk of rallying troops into an activity none of them actually wants to be part of. Is this gaining maximum happiness?  Is just “doing something no matter what whilst minimizing the discussion and planning up front” preferable to a more inclusive approach?  Is this approach more or less likely to have folks looking forward to the next shared occasion?

Upshot – Your forceful enthusiasm or “bossiness” tends to do some damage along the way. Sure you all made it to the beach, mountain, boat, park, museum or zoo where you may even have had moments of fun. However, those who feel “bullied” might be making quiet resolutions to themselves to cut you out of the equation by planning an activity without you next time.

Style #3 – The Pleaser

Looks like:  “OK everyone, I want us all to be happy so is there one thing we can all enjoy? How about the beach and ice creams? Oh – you can’t sit in the sun Gran? How about we get you an umbrella? What? Tim – you’re desperate to skateboard? Could you bring it and scoot about on the footpath? Well maybe we can have a shady coffee and then some beach time and head over to the skateboard park? Oh for heaven’s sake John you can’t add fishing today as well! Honestly it’s like herding cats to get you lot to agree to anything!”

Pro – At least you are trying hard to herd those cats! You might actually come up with a pretty extensive list of activities to be squeezed into a day and a couple of folks might actually have fun. As a Pleaser you are more likely to have more people having fun than the Martyr or the Bully.

Con – If it is only you exhausting yourself in trying to make sure everyone is happy you are actually creating a blend of Martyr (since as Pleaser you often forget to think about or include what you want to do) and Bully (since when the impossibility of pleasing everyone becomes apparent you will tend to snap out a final decision) and there is an overwhelming sense of exasperation.

Upshot – With this frenetic start to a day the group tends to set off on a pretty exhaustive agenda with little buy-in from people and a general sense of how hard it is to find overlapping interests. There is often a back-lash emotion along the lines of “Lordy Me!  I’ll do something on my own next time – this was way too hard!”

If you identify (or live) with a Martyr, Bully or Pleaser you are not alone. Every week I end up having conversations with people who have been hurt – usually unintentionally – by loved ones in these sorts of unsuccessful attempts at connecting with one another. So, while each of these approaches can get a family out of the house and off doing something for a day or long weekend, each approach also takes it’s particular toll on the relationships between those involved. So, the question I’ve been asking is ~ “Is there a way that helps families figure out how to have more fun together whilst also improving relationships along the way?”

And, based upon the results of our experimental two-track Honeymoon, I’d have to say “Yes, there is!”

Check in soon for ~

Part II – The Solution For (our Honeymoon &) Your Family!