The #1 Way to Kill a Relationship (or Business, or Life!)

Recently a respected friend suggested I read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, Ph.D.  I ordered it.  It came.  When I thumbed through it and discovered many pages of small print, I set it aside.  “Not now.  Maybe later.”

Yesterday I opened it to the section on business.  I barely made it through the true examples of well-known business leaders who made an initial big splash in recovering a failing company, but failed to prepare the company for ongoing growth, and so, ultimately failed in their mission.  The cause was what she terms as a “fixed mindset,” meaning “Only I, the Leader, knows what is best for this company.”

These were compared to less lauded business leaders who faced a failing company with the desire to learn, grow, identify issues, listen to team-mates, create a learning, encouraging mindset…and who ultimately led their team to recovery and profit.  An “open mindset” is eager to hear another’s opinion, listen to feedback, and make adjustments

This was sort of inspiring, but I have a hard time relating to an executive of a multi-billion dollar company like Chrysler, GE, Enron, Chase-Manhattan Bank.

This morning I opened the section about relationships.  NOW she began speaking my language!  My late husband and I believed, and taught, that SoulMate Relationships are created…earned…not born.  (See our book,  How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage.)

Carol says it this way, “…people with the fixed mindset expect everything good to happen automatically.  …sort of like it happened to Sleeping Beauty, whose coma was cured by her prince’s kiss, or to Cinderella, whose miserable life was suddenly transformed by her prince.”

In relationship, as in business, parenting, and life, Carol says, “In the growth mindset, there may still be that exciting initial combustion, but people in this mindset don’t expect magicThey believe that a good, lasting relationship comes from effort and from working through inevitable differences.  But those with the fixed mindset don’t buy that.”

In my twenty-five years of coaching couples, as well as painfully learned in my own relationships, a fixed mindset believes that “if we love each other, we shouldn’t have to work hard.  We should just be able to talk to work things through. A great, lasting relationship should just come automatically from our love.  If my partner loves me, he/she will give me what I need, understand me, accept my foibles no matter how irritating they are, etc., etc., etc.”

Couples with a fixed mindset blame each other for problems, label each other as “selfish, stubborn, unfeeling, lacking empathy, abusive and incapable of change.”  Each sees the other as stuck in a “wrong” position that makes no sense, isn’t reasonable.  Each sees him or herself as “right, reasonable, and justifiably wronged.”  They eventually see the relationship as “impossible, doomed, deserving of dissolution.”  These fixed ways of viewing a partner or relationship are guaranteed to produce unhappiness, and ultimately failure.

It was my challenge as a wife in a very conflicted relationship to open my mind to new ways of saying things that were less inflammatory and new ways of seeing my husband rather than labeling him as “wrong.”  I needed to look at what I was contributing to the hostile atmosphere that had begun to consume our relationship…and be willing to learn and change.

As a coach, it is my challenge to help couples who are stuck in a “fixed mindset” about each other and their relationship to open up to new possibilities, new communication skills, new ways of viewing each other and the future of their relationship.  I must create a vivid picture of what they can have if they are willing to learn and change.

Back when computers were a new phenomenon, a term was coined describing what computers could…and couldn’t do for us.  It was “garbage in/garbage out.”  I find that true in relationships, as well.

The good news is that when you learn better communication and conflict management skills, and are then willing to contribute those skills to the relationship, you will soon enjoy the results of a more loving, supportive, mutually nurturing relationship that you will gladly be a part of “until death do us part.”

Click on Ask Nancy about Coaching.  Coaching available world-wide.

What Happened to “Happily Ever After”?

I have a friend who is a passionate advocate for animal adoption.  She calls a good adoption as “finding the animal’s Furrever Home!

Falling in love feels like finding a “forever home.”  You found the missing piece of yourself…you feel whole for the first time in your life…you are sure all your problems are over…together you can conquer anything…and you dream of living happily ever after!

Dr. Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., in his book, “Getting the Love You Want” labels this the “unconscious loving” stage of a relationship.  It’s more commonly called the “honeymoon phase.”

Then, inevitably, she leaves her dirty clothes on the floor, he overdraws the bank account, and the honeymoon is over.  Hendrix calls this the “conflict stage.”  He concludes that the relationship thrives or fails based on how the couple manages conflict.  Multiple researchers agree.

But, “Conflict wasn’t part of our dream!  What’s wrong? Did I marry the wrong person?  Did she trick me by hiding annoying parts of herself?  Did he play the charmer when he really has such horrible habits?”

In truth, the real purpose of the relationship has just begun.  Yes, it’s possible to live happily ever after, but not without growing into the dream.  Your love for your partner, and your commitment to the marriage, is what motivates you to change habits that prevent a happy, loving marriage.

This year my blogs will be exploring different areas where commitment to GROWING will enable you to experience the delight of your DREAM COMING TRUE.  Hendrix calls this process “conscious loving.”  Conscious loving is accepting that what “ticks you off” about him, is your call to growth.  Her annoying habit is your trumpet call announcing it’s time to grow.

Dreaming isn’t the problem!  Dreaming helps us imagine the ideal of where we want to go.  But in order to actually arrive at our imagined destination, we are called to GROW into a more authentic self, slowly discarding habits or attitudes that prevent the DREAM from coming true.

As you nurture the relationship, the relationship uncovers a more mature, more kind, more loving you.

Make this year a year of Dreaming and Growing!  Contact Nancy at www.NancyLandrum.com or click here to schedule a phone call at your convenience: http://meetme.com/SpeakWithNancy

P.S. Free Download:  The Positive Purpose of Conflict

#1 in Series: It’s Not Your Fault!

Unhappy with your marriage?  Have the same fight over and over again?  Has romance become more of a dry business arrangement?  It’s not your fault!

For centuries whether or not a marriage was “good” for both partners (meaning loving) was largely a matter of luck.  If a marriage became “bad,” or either partner was unhappy, the only solutions were to stick it out or leave…and until no-fault divorce laws were passed, leaving was often impossible.  AND the long-term fall-out from most divorces means that often that solution creates more problems than it solves.

It’s only been the last hundred years or so that our expectations for every marriage have included ongoing romance, sexual fulfillment and emotional connection.

Beginning in the early 1900’s, researchers began to study the difference between marriages that were happy, vs. those that weren’t.  What elements are consistently found in happy marriages that are absent in unhappy ones?  What methods of communicating are found in happy vs. unhappy marriages?  How are problems resolved in each?

GOOD NEWS:  The combined results of multiple research studies have found the same answers.  Great marriages that last have certain consistent patterns of behavior.  Marriages that fail or are unhappy also have consistent patterns of behavior.

And better yet, those who are unhappy with their quality of their marriage can learn to duplicate the behaviors found in great marriages in order to turn an inadequate or struggling marriage into a great one!

From my colleague, Diane Sollee (www.smartmarriages.com) “Marriage is skill-based. Like football.  The way we have it set up now a couple gets married, and we send them out there to win based on love and commitment.  That’s like asking a football team to win on team spirit, but not letting them learn any plays or signals.  The basis for a smart marriage is exciting research that finds that what is different about marriages that make it—that go the distance and stay happy—are behaviors or skills.  And even more exiting, they are simple skills that any fool can learn!”

But how were you to know this?  Research studies are buried in university libraries.  The classes that teach these winning skills, although good, are still not well known.  Most therapists are not trained to teach couples these skills.  There are only a few private coaches, like me, that specialize in training couples in the behaviors that will transform their marriage from mediocre or “bad” to great. 

NO MORE SEARCHING FOR HELP!  Soon you can learn how to duplicate the practices consistently found in great marriages from the privacy of your own home computer!

Watch for my next post… good news is coming!  

Click on this link to accept my gift to you, “What Our Parents Didn’t Know,”  a chapter from my book How to Stay Married & Love It!