Relationship Advice: When “I’m Sorry” DOESN’T Count

relationship advice, when I'm sorry isn't enough

“I’m sorry,” Ken told Patty when she found out that he forgot to pay the credit card bill. “Who cares if you’re sorry,” Patty spit back angrily. “Now we have to pay interest AND a late fee.” Feeling guilty, Ken repeated his apology and assured her, “it won’t happen again.” But it did happen again. And, again, Ken said “I’m sorry.”

Everyone can make a mistake and forget sometime from time to time. However, while forgetting one time is an accident, multiple times is a pattern of behavior.

Patterns Either Build or Destroy

A pattern of behavior is any behavior that is consistently repeated. Paying attention to them in a relationship is important. Noticing both good and bad behavior patterns matters to your relationship. In fact, it can even save it.

For example. if your partner kisses you before going to bed and says “I love you”, that’s a positive pattern, and you like it. The more of that kind of pattern that you build into your relationship. Noticing that pattern gives you an opening to compliment your partner (“I love that you remember to kiss me goodnight”), which creates good feelings. It also can encourage your partner to do more things like that.

Obviously, love patterns aren’t the ones that cause trouble. The ones that do are the patterns that chip away at he trust between you.

Talk is Cheap and Actions Speak Louder Than Words

When it comes to love and relationships, trust reigns supreme. It’s the cornerstone of emotional safety and true intimacy. Patterns that don’t build trust weaken any relationship.

When your partner knows you don’t follow through on what you say, that pattern of behavior invariably leads to trouble. It did for Patty and Ken.

Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. Ken’s lack of follow through and the resulting “I’m sorrys” did nothing but make Patty doubt his every word. Patty no longer trusted Ken to pay any bills on time. So Patty decided she’d do it – and add another thing to her list of house things. It started a little piece of resentment that grew with each month that Patty paid that bill.

Resentment is sticky

Resentment is a funny thing. It’s sticky – like fly paper. Once out there, other things stick to it; it grows.

Patty’s resentment started sticking to other things – like that time Ken was supposed to pick Patty up and was a half-hour late. “He has no respect for me or my time,” Patty groused as she stood waiting for Ken to show up. Of course, as soon as Ken got there, Patty let him have it.

Of course, Ken apologized, but so what? Patty heard plenty of Ken’s apologies and, based on Ken’s patterns of behavior, believed they were meaningless.

Patty and Ken were on the path to breaking up.

Can This Relationship Be Saved?

Was there anything Patty and Ken could do to bridge the gap that was growing wider all the time? Yes! Here’s a Five-Year Marriage Method called The Family Meeting. Ken and Patty make a date to meet to discuss the problem. They meet outside the house, at a local coffee shop (keeps things civil). At their meeting…

  1. Patty needs to own the resentment and be able to verbalize clearly and calmly to Ken in the Family Meeting (1) what caused it, and (2) how she feels about it. It takes some prep work. Without the prep, Patty will likely not express herself the best was and, as a result, lose her personal power, Ken will be defensive, and the communication will break down.
  2. Ken needs to be open to hear, understand, and own his unproductive pattern of behavior. That means no excuses, no defensiveness, just an open-hearted seeing of how an “I’m sorry” without changing his behavior is affecting Patty.
  3. Ken agrees that he can and is willing to change his behavior. That means he doesn’t automatically agree to anything. Instead, he thinks first (“can I do that” and “will I do that”) and agrees/disagrees second. Then, if he agrees, he writes his agreement down where he will see it.In the case of the bill-paying, Ken agrees and then circles the due date on his calendar (if he sees it, he’ll do it). Then he either writes a check, pays online or by phone, or sets up an auto-deducted monthly payment.
  4. For Patty’s part, she has to be open to giving Ken a break – and the opportunity to “redeem himself” and earn back her trust. That means no sideswiping or off-handed digs. What happens in Family Meeting stays in Family Meeting.

If Ken and Patty can’t work it out alone, it’s worth seeing a marriage therapist or someone who can help Ken figure out what’s going on with him.

In The Five-Year Marriage, couples meet regularly in Family Meetings to work on problems like shared responsibilities. They aren’t making off-handed agreements on the spur of the moment. Instead, they discuss and make agreements to each other consciously, write them down, and follow-up at the next Family Meeting.

If you want to learn more about how The Five-Year Marriage can offer you the advice you and your partner have been looking for, click through to read more about The Five-Year Marriage: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm

 

Unwrapping the Five-Year Marriage®

Annmarie at pyramid club for five-year marriage launch

Last night I took the wraps off the Five-Year Marriage® during the inaugural event at the Pyramid Club in Philly. It was exciting and fun!

There were many interested and curious people who wanted to find out about the Five-Year Marriage®. It was mostly women, but a few men were there, and the ones who were got really engaged, including a man who has been married forty-two years!

And a couple came who are marriage mentors – something they do with their synagogue. They chatted with me a little after the event. They can see the need for and the possibilities of short-term and contract marriage.

And then there were a couple people who were just annoyed with the Five-Year Marriage® idea. I expect that. A lot of people just don’t want to upset the applecart with some new-fangled idea about marriage.

But, cheezlouise, with the divorce rate being what it is, and so many people living in unhappy marriages, I would think people would want a sensible alternative. Even governments are showing concern in countries like Mexico and Australia.

Did you know…in Australia, if a couple is married for less than five years, the have to go to counseling to try to work it out? If they don’t, they won’t be granted a divorce!

The divorce rate is a serious problem in almost every society. And the incidence of domestic violence is terrible.And you can ask many women who didn’t divorce – maybe for economics or maybe for the kids – it’s no fun to live with someone you don’t like, in a relationship in which you feel lonely.

I’m very encouraged by what women who have already read Five-Year Marriage® – who gave me feedback as I wrote the book – are saying. And some of them have given me testimonials, including:

  • “This is the kind of stuff couples should know”
  • “I wish I’d used this as a guide before I got married – I might not have gotten divorced the first time”
  • “I’ve been married a really long time but I can see these ideas making my marriage better.”

Five-Year Marriage® will be available for pre-sale in November. We launch in February. Stay tuned!
You can read more at FiveYearMarriage.com

Women in Presidential History

March is Women’s History Month

During this month we typically acknowledge and honor women who have positively distinguished themselves and made a difference in people’s lives. Few women can do that as powerfully as those who are presidents and prime ministers.
Yet until less than a hundred years ago, the women who ruled their countries were from monarchies, that is, they inherited their queenly positions. But not all queens were actual rulers of their kingdoms. Some were the propitious ceremonial heads of state while a parliament handled the lawmaking (as it with England’s Queen Elizabeth). But, whether ruling or ceremonial, the queens of monarchies had power.
Not until the 1940’s did the world have its first female president, Khertek Anchimaa-Toka, a Chinese woman. She was the first woman head of state who didn’t inherit her office.  Anchimaa-Tok ruled the People’s Republic of Tannu Tuva from 1940-44.  She served until Tuva became part of the Soviet Union in 1944 and Anchimaa-Tok’s position was eliminated.
Here are some interesting “firsts” for women heads of state:

  • Isabel Martínez de Perón of Argentina was the first western woman who was a head of state and not part of a royal family. She was the vice-president when her spouse, Juan Peron, was president. When he died, she became president and served from 1974– 1976. Sadly, she was arrested for corruption.
  • Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the first elected prime minister of Ceylon (which became, during her tenure, Sri Lanka). She ran for office after her spouse, the prime minister, was assassinated. She served from 1960 to 1965, when she was defeated. However, in the late 1960′s, she decided to run for office again and was reelected. On her second time around, Bandaranaike served from 1970-1977, when she was again defeated in a national election.
  • Indira Ghandi was India’s first female prime minister, and the daughter of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Ghandi was also the longest serving prime minister. She held office from 1966-1977 and again from 1980-1984.
  • Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was Iceland’s and the world’s first elected female president who did not follow a father or husband into office. She was the country’s fourth president and served from 1980-1986.
  • Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s first woman prime minister and the first woman to lead a major western power, which she did from 1979-1990. Her legacy is that she ruled Parliament with an iron fist, and thus got the name “Iron Lady.” Note: She was recently portrayed by Meryl Streep in the The Iron Lady.
  • Mary Robinson was the first female president of Ireland and served from 1990-1997. Mary McAleese succeeded her, from 1997- 2011. McAleese is the first woman president born in Northern Ireland and the first ever to succeed another female president; Robinson and McAleese are the seventh and eighth presidents of Ireland.
  • Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir, prime minister of Iceland since 2009, is the first lesbian world leader. After a long marriage with two children, Sigurdardótti divorced and started a civil union with a female partner. When Iceland legalized same-sex marriage, Sigurdardótti was still in office and she and her partner were one of Iceland’s first same-sex married couples.
  •  Angela Merkel is the first woman to hold Germany’s highest office. Chancellor Merkel has been instrumental in the management of the European Union’s financial crisis and, in a fashion similar to Margaret Thatcher, is known as a take-charge woman. Some consider her to be the most powerful woman in the world.

Women of Influence…What About the U.S.?

Women’s History Month

During this month we typically acknowledge and honor women who have positively distinguished themselves and made a difference in people’s lives. Few women can do that as powerfully as those who are presidents and prime ministers.
Yet until less than a hundred years ago, the women who ruled their countries were from monarchies, that is, they inherited their queenly positions. But not all queens were actual rulers of their kingdoms. Some were the propitious ceremonial heads of state while a parliament handled the lawmaking (as it with England’s Queen Elizabeth). But, whether ruling or ceremonial, the queens of monarchies had power.
Not until the 1940’s did the world have its first female president, Khertek Anchimaa-Toka, a Chinese woman. She was the first woman head of state who didn’t inherit her office.  Anchimaa-Tok ruled the People’s Republic of Tannu Tuva from 1940-44.  She served until Tuva became part of the Soviet Union in 1944 and Anchimaa-Tok’s position was eliminated.
Here are some interesting “firsts” for women heads of state:
Isabel Martínez de Perón
of Argentina was the first western woman who was a head of state and not part of a royal family. She was the vice-president when her spouse, Juan Peron, was president. When he died, she became president and served from 1974– 1976. Sadly, she was arrested for corruption.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the first elected prime minister of Ceylon (which became, during her tenure, Sri Lanka). She ran for office after her spouse, the prime minister, was assassinated. She served from 1960 to 1965, when she was defeated. However, in the late 1960′s, she decided to run for office again and was reelected. On her second time around, Bandaranaike served from 1970-1977, when she was again defeated in a national election.
Indira Ghandi was India’s first female prime minister, and the daughter of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Ghandi was also the longest serving prime minister. She held office from 1966-1977 and again from 1980-1984.
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was Iceland’s and the world’s first elected female president who did not follow a father or husband into office. She was the country’s fourth president and served from 1980-1986.
Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s first woman prime minister and the first woman to lead a major western power, which she did from 1979-1990. Her legacy is that she ruled Parliament with an iron fist, and thus got the name “Iron Lady.” Note: She was recently portrayed by Meryl Streep in the The Iron Lady.
Mary Robinson was the first female president of Ireland and served from 1990-1997. Mary McAleese succeeded her, from 1997- 2011. McAleese is the first woman president born in Northern Ireland and the first ever to succeed another female president; Robinson and McAleese are the seventh and eighth presidents of Ireland.
Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir, prime minister of Iceland since 2009, is the first lesbian world leader. After a long marriage with two children, Sigurdardótti divorced and started a civil union with a female partner. When Iceland legalized same-sex marriage, Sigurdardótti was still in office and she and her partner were one of Iceland’s first same-sex married couples.
 Angela Merkel is the first woman to hold Germany’s highest office. Chancellor Merkel has been instrumental in the management of the European Union’s financial crisis and, in a fashion similar to Margaret Thatcher, is known as a take-charge woman. Some consider her to be the most powerful woman in the world.
In my country, the United States, it seems that women are not yet considered viable candidates for president. In 2008, for all the pandering talk about equality from Democrats, they dissed and then abandoned Hillary Clinton in favor of Barack Obama. In 2011, presidential contender Michele Bachman was vilified by Democrats and mostly unsupported by Republicans. As a result, she lost votes in the early primary elections and dropped out of the running.
In truth, it isn’t that I’m pining away for a woman president and want one elected just because she’s a woman. I don’t. But I really want women to get a fair shake. I don’t want the media focusing on her weight, clothes, make-up, hair or voice. It isn’t done to men, many of whom could do themselves some good to get help in some or all of those areas. But the media doesn’t seem to care if this man is going gray or has a terrible haircut, that one has big ears and the other one could lose fifty pounds. If it doesn’t matter with the men, it shouldn’t matter with the women.
Given the chauvinistic and degrading language of men who seem to hate women, like Bill Maher on the left and Rush Limbaugh on the right, nothing will change in this 2012 election cycle. And it’s a disgrace! But maybe 2016, the media boys and girls will grow up and act like the men and women they’re supposed to be. Then they can give everyone – men and women – a fair chance to vie for my country’s top spot.