Why didn’t I think of it: dating website for married people to plan dates with each other?
Check out the recent New York Times article on exactly that topic. What a great idea for those of us who are either “dating imagination challenged” or who have just slipped into a rut.
Filed under: Dating, Power, Psychology, Relationship Problems, Uncategorized
You’d think that abuse in couples over 50 would be a rarity. After all, we’re getting older, wiser, mellower. Right?
Wrong. The occurrence of abuse in couples over 50 does not really go down as much as one might think, (hope). Exactly how a couple allocates power between them is unique to them and their own business, but doing it consciously, respectfully, and effectively is one mark of a strong couple
A bad relationship, whether verbally abusive, emotionally abusive, or physically abusive, is just as unhealthy and emotionally damaging in our over-50 years as earlier. In many ways it is worse.
And, don’t get the idea that because it isn’t physical it’s OK. Mentally emotionally abusive situations are painful in and of themselves, but they also carry with them the risk of escalation. Perhaps because of this “entry level” danger from mental abuse, it is a logical place to start considering the abuse in relationships. Discussions of abuse over 50 do exist, but not as often as you’d think perhaps they should.
As if abuse from partners weren’t bad enough, it is very possible to be treated abusively, especially in the verbal/emotional realm, by adult children. There are very specific laws to protect you from this. If you think it might be a problem, contact your state social services agency.
When is a borderline situation abusive or heading that way? Well, if you feel like you are walking on eggshells, trying not to set the other person off, the chances are good that you’re in one.
FIRST AND FOREMOST: PHYSICAL ABUSE MUST NOT GO ON!!
If you or someone else is getting hurt, the very first thing that has to happen is for that to stop.
No “ifs” “ands” or “buts”.
Anything else you choose to do must follow from that.
Calling a domestic violence hotline and/or seeking supportive counseling especially aimed at abuse in relationships is often needed to make this happen. It also can get you more information and other forms of needed support.
Pages 5, 6, 7, 8 of the article on abuse linked above provide information on places to get information and help for abuse in relationships of older people. (You have to work your way through several pages and ads, but the article is well worth the trouble.)
The person who is being abusive really has to do something, something quite difficult in fact, if there is to be real change.
It is very common for the abuser to feel sorry that they did it, to apologize, to say they’ll never do it again (and to mean it). But unless they are willing to do the work to dig out the roots, it will be back.
Abusing another person grows out of trying to avoid bad feelings within oneself and is most often experienced by the abuser as simply defending himself, not letting other people push him around, ignore him, devalue him, etc. And if you are on the lookout for others doing this, you won’t be disappointed.
The problem is that the resentment and anger is at best a short term fix. In the longer term, undealt with it becomes a disaster for everyone involved.
I think Einstein once said “Nothing happens until something moves.” Apparently, saying you aren’t going to do it again isn’t enough movement enough. Unfortunately couples over 50 are famous for having ways they do things that have been built up over years; ruts if you will. These things can be changed. It just takes commitment.
Unless do something with that deep inner hurt, you may tone it down, corral it, limit the number of occurrences, but there is unlikely to be lasting change. And you have to feel it to heal it.
But feeling it is exactly what the abuser is trying to avoid with all the anger, bullying, put-downs, criticisms, and controlling are trying to avoid experiencing.
Abuse in relationships is a classic lose-lose situation. A tragedy.
If a relationship has included abuse for some time, it is likely to continue on in a habitual form as the partners get older. This makes it no less serious or dangerous, but it can make it less likely to be reported or even identified by the partners as abuse.
A less common, but still possible cause may be basic changes in the structure of an ongoing relationship such as our last child moving out, one or both of us retiring, one or both of us developing an alcohol problem or one partner being sick or disabled, especially if abusive behavior has been part of dysfunctional attempts to cope with stress in earlier years.
If you are single, perhaps for the first time in a long time, as you meet and interact with people in new ways you are exposed to a risk that you may not be prepared for.
As you get older abusive relationships can also sneak up on you because falling in love in one’s 60’s or 70’s can be such a surprise that your better sense about things like healthy relationship boundaries are forgotten. It’s not a reason to avoid all relationships, but it is important to give yourself time to weigh how you feel around this person in a variety of settings.
In any event, whether the issues described below lead to an abusive relationship or not, they definitely are signs that one or both of you is acting out of insecurity. Most likely the roots of that insecurity go far beyond your present relationship. Tread carefully in this territory! It is dangerous.
If you love each other and want to go forward in a positive way and build a healthy relationship , these very issues provide powerful opportunities to dig into these blocks to intimacy together and make your relationship better and better.
Done right, couples over to can use the process of addressing these strong emotional charges together for deeply rewarding and bonding experiences. And, if either or both of you can’t or won’t take on this challenge, then you are seeing a big red flag warning you of danger ahead.
It isn’t always easy for to see abuse in couples coming, especially when it is something that we haven’t thought much about before. And, there is no one set of traits that predict who is likely to be abusive.
There are often behaviors and attitudes that can make potential violence easier to spot.
Does your partner insist you’re the only one who understands him or her, actas if his whole world depends on your love; show excessive jealousy, discourage you from seeing family and friends or put you down in public?
Do you feel like you can’t do anything right, no matter how hard you try?
Do you ever feel afraid ?
Do you feel your thoughts, opinions and feelings don’t matter in your own home?
Does the other person brag about using violence to settle conflicts and/or have a history of using violence?
Does your partner check up on you, need to know where you are all the time, make all the decisions and/or makes fun of your opinion and thoughts?
Do you worry a lot about how your partner will react to things you say or do?
Has your partner hit, pushed, choked, restrained, kicked or physically intimidated you?
Does your partner use drugs or alcohol and/or pressure you to take them?
If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to learn more about the whole topic.
Also, take special note of how alcohol problems and an abusive relationship become intertwined.
If you have any question about whether your relationship is abusive or not, you will probably find it helpful to call a domestic violence hotline and/or seek supportive counseling.
You may also want to share specific concerns with family and friends who you feel will understand and support you.
Just be aware that family and friends are often quite uncomfortable about getting involved in such a personal issue as abuse in relationships. Very likely they hold some fear that if they get involved and the two of you settle it, you both will be mad at them.
Filed under: Dating, Divorce, Relationship Problems, Saving Your Marriage
The romance stage in relationships is exhilarating. It feels good. In fact it feels great! All is right with me, with you, and with the world in this relationship phase of the relationship cycle.
In intimate relationships this certainly includes sexual attraction, but it is a mistake to think that that is all it is. It is actually a very self-focussed, self-centered time when we are thinking that we finally are going to get everything we want and need.
Relationship researcher and writer, Richard B. Stuart, DSW, is fond of saying that we are never more dishonest or more forgiving than we are during this time in the cycle. He has also said that therefore this is the time to get everything you can think of about your past that might be a problem out on the table because of the forgiveness tendency.
The Romance Stage doesn’t just happen between intimate partners, as mentioned before, and perhaps it can be understood more completely when you consider it in other relationships such as friendships, jobs, children, voting for politicians, hobbies, etc. At the beginnings of relationships the future is bright and our hopes our high.
However, there are at least two people involved and each one is working from his or her own perspective, so eventually the relationship is going to move on to the Power Struggle stage in which the participants each focus more attention on getting what they want.
That isn’t necessarily bad, not only because it is true that “you can’t always get what you want” (thank you Mick Jagger), but as the song goes on to say . . . “if you try, sometimes you might just find . . . .”.
Remember the “if you try, sometimes . . .” part and don’t view the Power Struggle Stage as bad or something to be avoided. It’s on the road to a better and better, stronger and stronger relationship. You have to go through it to get where you’re going.