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Kathy Marshack News

The Art of Detachment - Self-Care Tips for those in an Asperger Relationship

Monday, June 20, 2016


The Art of Detachment - Self-Care Tips for those in an Asperger RelationshipLiving with a mate who has Asperger’s Syndrome is filled with stress. You love them but they are unpredictable. You never know how they’ll react to an ordinary situation.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that many NT (neuro-typical) mates report a variety of psychosomatic and immunodeficiency illnesses, such as migraines, arthritis, gastric reflux, and fibromyalgia. When the body is regularly thrown into a state of alarm, the over-production of adrenalin and cortisol wreaks havoc with the body’s natural defense mechanisms.

Recently I wrote an article for PsychCentral on the need to care for yourself first. This may seem impossible at first, because of the chaos of family life. But it is essential and possible if you learn the art of detachment.

Detachment is learning to protect yourself from all of those not-so-ordinary moments. It doesn’t mean you stop caring about your loved ones. It simply means that you:

  • Stop taking it all personally.
  • Stop worrying if you’ve covered all the bases.
  • Stop beating yourself up for your flaws.
  • Stop expecting more from your AS spouse than he or she can give.

When you learn the art of detaching, you actually free up some energy to care for yourself. And that creates the energy to make better decisions instead of flitting from crisis to crisis.

There are two methods for achieving detachment:

1. Emotional self-care is doing all of the healthy feel-good things you can fit into your day. If you notice that you’re drinking, eating, or smoking too much, you need healthier self-care. Make it a point to always plan healing rest and recreation in your day, too.

2.Cognitive self-care consists of education. When you can’t fathom what’s going on with your Aspie, and they’re accusing you of things you didn’t do, stress increases. It’s bad enough to be misunderstood. It’s quite another to try to operate without a frame of reference for the misunderstanding. Even though it’s work to read a book and to attend psychotherapy, knowledge is power.

When I was learning to deal with family members with ASD, there weren’t that many resources. So I founded a Meetup group, Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD. It has helped many cope as they connect with others living through he same experiences. Check it out and if it feels right for you, please hit the “join” button.

Advanced Truths of Healthy Communication for Couples

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Two advanced truths of healthy communication – t he explanation used to describe a person is not the person, and people operate out of their interpretation.Having counseled couples for over thirty years, I’ve come to appreciate that communicating effectively is more of an attitude than having specific skills. The skills seem to emerge when your heart is in the right place. In one of my books, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home, I shared advanced truths of healthy communication to help couples become better communicators.

Embracing these truths will assist you so that you can (I) more clearly define the problem or topic of discussion, (2) more accurately listen and understand your partner, and (3) develop even more flexibility and expediency in accomplishing your communication goals.

There are four advanced truths of healthy communication. In this post I will focus on the first two:

#1 The explanation used to describe a person or situation is not the person.

We all build hypotheses about our partner in order to understand and respond to his or her behavior. For example, one couple I worked with faced a communication breakdown (their names have been changed). Kurt wanted to move to get a promotion and his wife Trish refused to leave even though she’d been willing to relocate in the past. You see Kurt assumed that Trish always followed his career moves because she put his career before her own.

In reality, Kurt's promotions opened career doors for Trish also. Furthermore, moving to a new town every few years when she was younger and childless was not a problem for Trish. But with twin daughters to care for, a desire to put down roots in a community, and a career of her own that she loved, Trish demonstrated another side of herself that did not fit Kurt's explanation of her. As Kurt expanded his consciousness, both he and Trish learned that there is more to their partner than one simple explanation.

#2 People do not operate out of sensory experience, but rather out of their interpretation or map of reality.

Because we build hypotheses, we tend to operate in the world as if our internal maps (i.e., hypotheses or explanations of reality) are the truth. We forget that we developed these internal maps after gathering information with our senses. Once the map is built, we sometimes ignore future sensory experience in favor of our presuppositions.

Therefore, the second advanced truth is closely aligned with the first advanced truth. Knowing that you and others are operating in the world according to your own interpretation of reality releases you to notice what facts or real experience contributed to a specific behavior.
For example, another couple (names have been changed), Karla and Mike, had been ignoring their own senses with regard to Mike's alcohol abuse. They ignored how much he drank. They ignored the irrationality of their fights. They ignored the effects of alcohol abuse on their children, employees, and friends. With the incredible success of their business, and moving into a brand-new million-dollar house, Mike and Karla felt as if they were on top of the world without a care. It seemed a contradiction that they would have serious problem at the height of their financial and material success.

Yet Karla was shaken to notice her sensory experience when Mike shattered a liquor bottle against the living room wall. Then all of the other sensory clues she'd been ignoring fell into place, too. It was time to adjust her map of reality to include the possibility that the husband she loved was an addict. Similarly, Mike's map of reality changed shortly after Karla confronted him.

Keeping these advanced truths in mind will put your heart in the right place so you begin to trust that you and your partner really are on the same side. In an upcoming post I’ll share two more advance truths for healthy communication.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s okay not to have all the answers and to ask for help. For the couples I mentioned in this post, the communication breakdown was so severe that they were unable to achieve any solutions until they asked a professional for help. If you need help communicating with your partner, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

If you live elsewhere, we can also discuss best communication practices for entrepreneurial couples via a secure video Q & A session. Learn more by visiting Entrepreneurial Couples Remote Education.

How Can You Guarantee that a Copreneurship will Work for You and Your Spouse?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


The social exchange theory describes the essential features of exchanges of married copreneurs, and predicts relationship satisfaction, progress or decay.You can’t. There are no guarantees in life. But you CAN hedge your bets and set up a good framework that supports your entire work/family life.

I did in-depth research on the dynamics of copreneurs for my book, Entrepreneurial Couples: Making It Work at Work and at Home. I learned there are a number of human behavior theories, one of them being a dialectical theory known as social exchange theory, which sheds light on what makes some couples succeed where others don’t.


Social psychologists, Kelley and Thibaut defined the basic propositions of social exchange theory in this way:

(I) costs being equal, individuals choose alternatives from which they expect the greatest rewards;
(2) rewards being equal, individuals choose alternatives from which they anticipate the fewest costs;
(3) immediate outcomes being equal, individuals choose alternatives that promise better long-term outcomes;
(4) long-term outcomes being equal, individuals choose alternatives providing better immediate outcomes.

These basic propositions of social exchange theory can be used to describe the  essential features of exchanges in married couples. They can also be used to predict relationship satisfaction, relationship progress, and relationship decay.

For all married couples, the exchange context includes trading with one's partner for love, sex, status, and life support. However, entrepreneurial couples—especially copreneurs because they work together—makes this trade with their spouses for self-esteem, mastery, and achievement. Whereas other couples have a wider variety of resources from which to negotiate exchanges (i.e., colleagues, employers, fellow workers, as well as their spouse), copreneurs must negotiate their love and work needs only from one another. Therefore, the potential for stress is heightened.

In other words, a trap that many entrepreneurial couples fall into is getting locked into deriving all of their rewards from work and spending money (i.e., immediate rewards). Since they work together and live together, they spend all of their time together. They only have themselves to compare to, so there’s no way of knowing when they’re heading into a major problem. As long as the rewards (i.e., work and money) outweighed the costs, the couple won’t notice the other rewards or benefits of marriage and family life may be slipping away.

It takes something catastrophic like a liquor bottle being thrown in the heat of an argument to alert them that the immediate costs to their quality of life no longer outweighed the long-term gain of business wealth.

On the other hand, when a couple has a well-developed system for maintaining a healthy balance in their lives, they won’t get blindsided. What are three must have rules of conduct in this system?

  • Keep business discussions at the office and family/relationship discussions at home.
  • Be sure you are equal business partners, giving each other full credit and respect for your separate contributions.
  • Insist on developing individual private lives.

With outside contacts, you’ll have other people in your lives with whom you can trade for feelings of self-esteem, mastery, and achievement. And this can make all the difference in the world.

You don’t have to be one of those couples that waits for something to go very wrong before waking up to problems and doing something about them. If you’re already experiencing problems in your work/life balance and need help getting back on track, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

If you live elsewhere, we can also discuss best communication practices for business and/or family relationships via a secure video Q & A session. This would come under the heading of Entrepreneurial Couples Remote Education.

Is Mansplaining Keeping You from Being Heard?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


If men interrupt and hijack your conversations, or you’re a man who does the hijacking and people are tuning you out, then you’re a victim of mansplaining.Do people, men especially, interrupt you and hijack every conversation you try to have? Or are you a man who does the hijacking, and you sense that people are tuning you out? Either way, you’ve become a victim of mansplaining. “What’s that”, you ask? While Merriam-Webster hasn’t included mansplaining in their dictionary yet, they’re considering adding it. Their website defines it as:

“Mansplaining occurs when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of, with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he's talking to does.”

A recent op-ed in the NYTimes by Julia Baird summarizes a number of studies and the ramifications of differing communication style between men and women. Here are some of her conclusions…

Women are accused of talking a lot, but social science has found that men are more likely to out talk women in certain circumstances, specifically in professional settings or in larger groups. They discovered that when the setting is more social or more collaborative in nature, women out talked men.

The differences aren’t only in the amount of time men and women spend talking. Men talk more directly and forcefully. Women are more likely to censor or edit themselves. They use phrases like “kind of,” “probably”, “might”, “could”, “maybe,” “um,” and “I mean.” They also turn sentences into questions, as if to ask “am I right”. They worry about being viewed as too aggressive if they speak up.

This shows that having a seat at the table is not the same as having a voice in the discussion. Women have been taught to be self-deprecating, to not make a scene, to keep the peace. So we may learn patterns of speech that minimize our power. As more women assume leadership roles, it’s imperative that we pay attention to our communication style and bring it in line with the positions of authority that we hold. If you do, you’ll find that most men really do want to hear what you have to say.

Perhaps long held thoughts and feelings are holding you back from being heard in professional settings? Or maybe you’re married to a man with a dominating communication style that stifles your ability to be heard? If you want to learn to communicate more effectively, as an individual or a couple, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere, we can also discuss best communication practices for business and/or family relationships via a secure video Q & A session. This would come under the heading of Entrepreneurial Couples Remote Education.

Are You Mentally and Emotionally Prepared to Retire from Your Job?

Monday, April 25, 2016


Determine if you’re mentally and emotionally prepared to retire from your job, by answering these questions about retirement, because it’s not just about finances.“If I retired, I’d have more time with the grandkids. I’d get to enjoy my hobby more. I could finally relax. I wouldn’t have to get up so early and always be on all the time.”

Do thoughts like these cross your mind? If you’re of the baby boomer generation, it’s imperative to give retirement preparation serious consideration right now. And not all your decisions should be based on whether you’re financially prepared to enjoy your retirement. Whether your retirement is successful or not depends more on your emotional and mental preparation.

Before you hand in your retirement notice, ask yourself these questions:

Does your present job give you fulfillment or purpose? Then it may not be time to walk away from it. How will you spend your time? What life direction will you take? Do you have something planned that will give you more purpose in life? You don’t want to end up feeling bored, restless and useless.

Do you want to retire because you hate your job? Perhaps retiring isn’t the answer. What you really might need is to find a new career that fulfills you. Why not try volunteering for a worthy cause, which in time could lead you to a new vocation.

How will retirement affect your social life? If your entire social life revolves around work, you may end up feeling alone when you retire. It would be good to make sure you have a good social network in place before you step into retirement. On the other hand, if you’re already regretting the time you don’t spend with your family and friends, then this may be a good indicator that it’s time to think about retiring. Don’t forget to give some thought to how your choice will affect your marriage if your spouse doesn’t retire at the same time that you do.

Do you have realistic expectations of retirement? Sleeping until noon, puttering around, and staying in your pjs all day, will get old and stale quickly. You’re going to have a lot of time on your hands. How will you fill it? If you’re not already involved in activities you love outside of work, then it’s time to begin finding some that you enjoy.

Have you prepared the next generation to take over? When you’ve been at the helm of the family firm, it may be difficult to let go. As a result, your children may not be ready for the responsibility that you’ll be giving them. If they’re not ready, start formulating a plan to train them today.

Have you built up a stewardship? As an entrepreneur, do you take your responsibility seriously to give back to the community who supported your growth? You can read the story of Bob Thompson who is a sterling example of stewardship.

Change inevitably brings stress. Some people are not as well equipped to handle it as they thought. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from a professional coach or family therapist. She can help you sort out your feelings and get you back on track. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Men vs. Women When Making Decisions - Can You Leverage Your Differences?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Differences in how men and women communicate and make decisions can drive you crazy unless you learn to integrate or reconcile these communication styles.Have you ever wondered why the symbol for "Justice" is a woman and she's blind to boot? Or another curiosity is that the statue in New York harbor, representing the United States of America is Lady Liberty. What is it that these female spirits represent? Why are women the symbol of our judicial system and the country as a whole?

 

One of the most interesting areas of the dynamics between men and women is how they make decisions. One way I sum it up is that men make the first best decision, but women seek out the best-best decision. In the fashion of Lady Justice (where the blindfold represents impartiality), women look at all sides of an issue before deciding anything. They value everyone's opinion in the process of moving toward a decision. They may have a strong opinion themselves, but like the blind Lady, they’re willing to stay impartial until they’ve gathered enough information from others.

 

Men on the other hand seek to move the situation along as swiftly as possible. Regardless of everyone's view, men tend to value the efficiency of getting to the answer quickly. If a man has an opinion, dialogue with others is not always to merely gather information, but to persuade others toward his point of view.

How does this dynamic work when a husband/wife team needs to make decisions together? If they understand each other well, then the decision-making dynamic is powerful. If they don't, then each party can feel very misunderstood.

 

For example, if the wife is gathering information from her husband then she may initiate a discussion with her husband. He often doesn't hear that she wants to discuss the subject. Rather he hears that she wants him to make a decision. Therefore he tells her his decision and considers the discussion completed. She leaves unfulfilled because she wants to toss ideas around before a decision is made. Later when the husband's decision is not carried out, the husband may feel frustrated because he thought a decision had been made.

 

Sound familiar? It's because women tend to have discussions and men tend to go strait to decisions. When a wife recognizes that her husband has a need to get things done as efficiently as possible, she can refocus her energy onto solutions, even if she would like just a little more discussion.

The different decision-making styles can be an asset, if there is an integration of the male perspective and the female perspective. However, often a husband and wife get stuck because they do not recognize the dynamic that is going on. They often find it beneficial to consult with a professional who can facilitate this discussion. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, feel free to contact my office and schedule an appointment.

 

Read more on my website: Conflict & Communication.

 

Why Do Ones with Asperger’s Syndrome Always Say NO!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016


Discover why ones with Asperger’s Syndrome default to non committal answers when they’re asked questions or given invitations, so you can learn how to cope.If you’ve been around someone with Asperger’s Syndrome for very long, you’ll notice our Aspie loved ones default to non-committal answers when they’re asked questions or are invited to fun activities. Some variations on NO! are, "I don't know," or "I don't want to," or just a blank stare.

How do you react to this situation? Many people become infuriated by this behavior and give up. Hopefully you’ve gone beyond holding your own life back because your Aspie spouse can’t commit. It’s important to make plans without your Aspie.

It might help to understand the reason behind this behavior. That way you can plan accordingly. It's pretty simple really. No is a response that buys time. It doesn't really mean, NO! It means "I don't understand," or "I need more time to process what you are saying," or "I don't see what this has to do with me."

Because Aspies lack empathy, they don't bother to think about why you’re asking or what might be your motivation. They don't consider doing something with you or for you, just for the simple pleasure of making you happy. They may want you to be happy but they can't fathom why that means they have to answer your question – especially since the way you phrase it makes no sense to them.

For example, you might say, "Honey, I was thinking of taking the kids to the coast this weekend. What do you think?"

He/She says, "Have a nice time."

You say, "Well I want to make it a family time for all of us."

He/She says, "You go and have fun. I don't want to go."

You say, "Well it's been a long time since you joined the kids and me for an outing. I'd like you to come along."

He/She says, "I don't have time to go. I have a lot of work to do."

You say, "Why don't you ever want to do anything with us?"

He/She looks at you as if you have two heads and says, "That's not true!"

I could go on but you get the picture. If you’re a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, and you’d like to join 10 other NT members as we discuss this topic, please sign up for the next Video Conference: Why do they always say NO! on Thursday, April 14th 9AM PDT or Thursday, April 28th at 3PM PDT. There are still a few spots left. We’ll explore how to get past this resistance so you can have meaningful conversations that actually get somewhere, instead of pure frustration. I'm not promising you they’ll suddenly be a delight to live with, but there are some small detours around their penchant for saying NO!

Make Better Decisions by Increasing Your Emotional IQ

Monday, April 04, 2016


Make Better Decisions by Increasing Your Emotional IQSuccessful people who always seem to be in the right place at the right time aren't any smarter than you are. They’ve simply learned how to trust an "inner knowing" based upon using all of the resources available to them. They have trained themselves to able to perceive, interpret, and act upon the emotional, mental, physical and even spiritual cues they receive in an effective manner.

This heightened emotional intelligence is an invaluable skill that we all can learn and improve. While there is nothing like practice and life experience, here are a few basic tips to improve your decision making by including relevant feeling information.

1. Always checkout your feelings before making any decision.

2. Inquire after another's feelings before proceeding to decision making.

3. Check your feelings again after arriving at the decision.

4. Remember that "feeling good" about something doesn't always mean that the decision is correct.

5. Be willing to acknowledge that you’re afraid or angry or confused.

Hiding these feelings from yourself may deny you powerful and necessary information. These feelings are telling you whether or not you’re in alignment with your greatest purpose in life.

In practical terms, if you can agree with all of the following statements, your Emotional IQ is quite high.

1. I don’t become defensive when criticized.
2. I stay calm under pressure.
3. I handle setbacks effectively.
4. I manage anxiety, stress, anger and fear in pursuit of a goal.
5. I use criticism and other feedback for growth.
6. I’m a positive person.
7. I can maintain a sense of humor.
8. I see things from another’s perspective.
9. I recognize how my behavior affects others.
10. I air grievances skillfully.
11. I listen without jumping to judgment.
12. I freely admit mistakes.

How did you do? See anything you’d like to improve? Sometime long-held patterns of behavior are difficult to break. Many people have found that consulting with a psychologist give them the support they need to break through any lingering resistance. If this describes your situation, and you live near Portland, OR, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Improve Your EQ, not Your IQ, for More Successful Relationships

Monday, March 28, 2016


Improve Your EQ, not Your IQ, for More Successful Relationships"She has a sixth sense and always knows what to do and say." "He can always close a deal." "They always make the right decisions." Do you envy people who have those gifts? How do they do it? Research demonstrates that not all success in life is determined by IQ, but may rest more on how perceptive one is with regard to emotional intelligence (EQ or EI).

Emotional intelligence has to do with 1) how you recognize, understand and manage your own emotions and 2) how you recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others, especially under high-pressure situations.

How do we develop this side of ourselves and how do we integrate this information with your thinking process? It appears to be a matter of mastering the following three steps:

#1 Put a name to your feelings. Feelings are things like joy, irritation, hunger, fatigue, boredom, confusion, pain, anticipation, pride, embarrassment, tension, and so on. The list is endless and I often advise my clients to get a thesaurus or dictionary and copy down as many "feeling" words as they can find. It is important to refine your repertoire of feelings and feeling words so that you can expand your consciousness about your EQ.

It’s also important to remember that you always feel your feelings first. Because of how you are "wired" thoughts or interpretations come after feelings. So it is useful to notice those feelings consciously before your conscious mind decides to ignore them or misinterpret them.

#2 Interpret those feelings that you have just noticed. The key element here is to realize that feelings are basically neutral. That is, they are neither good nor bad; they are just feedback. For example, anger may feel unpleasant to you and therefore, something to suppress. However, the feeling of anger is neither good nor bad; it is just feedback about something that is important for you to know. Try to view all of your feelings as feedback about the way you sense your environment. One person may be triggered to feel angry about something, while another may be triggered to laugh.

#3 Act on the information you have interpreted from your feelings. If you feel hungry or fatigue, it’s easy to make a decision to eat or sleep. But decision-making is more complex when the feelings are part of a financial plan for your business or a problematic relationship. This is where EQ really helps. Individuals who have trusted their EQ throughout childhood and have refined and developed those skills into adult life are in a much better position to make successful decisions.

You’ll improve any situation, be it familial or business, if you improve your EQ. When you’re able to feel your feelings, interpret them correctly, and then act upon that information, you have an advantage over those who rely solely on intellect to make decisions. If this is a subject you’d like to explore in more detail, take advantage of my Remote Education services. This topic comes under the umbrella of Entrepreneurial Couples.

Read more on my website: Emotional Intelligence.

How Do You Deal with Conflict - Capitulate, Compromise or Detach?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


When dealing with conflict do you compromise, capitulate or detachIt’s inevitable in any relationship that there will be conflict. No two people are going to always see eye-to-eye on everything. That’s why communication is called the lifeblood of a relationship. The sooner you talk out the problem, the better.

But what if you’re married to someone with Asperger’s Syndrome? It’s not their fault that they have trouble communicating their thoughts and feelings and can’t understand yours. They try their best within the framework that we built with them.

But to build a framework that supports you and your Aspie partner takes work and a special understanding of your own needs and that of your partner. At times, the lack of empathy demonstrated by Aspie loved ones may lead you to lose sight of your own reality so that you collapse into agonizing despair. This type of mental and emotional confusion needs powerful therapy to break through the faulty reasoning that is a result of using NT logic to make sense of the Asperger world.

Oftentimes, it just feels easier to capitulate, compromise or detach. Yet, none of these options sound good do they? I mean when you just want to be heard and understood and maybe even get your way once in awhile. . . why does it have to be soooo hard? But Asperger/NT relationships are very hard. That’s why we need to support one another and share our success and challenges.

If you’re a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please join our next Free TELECONFERENCE: Capitulate, Compromise or Detach Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 2:00 PM. We’ll explore the options to navigating a conversation with our Aspies. Yes, we still have to use a lot of capitulating, compromising and detaching to get anything accomplished, but there might be a few other tricks to move the conversation along toward a mutually satisfying agreement. Come prepared with questions and solutions. I don't have all of the answers either. I do know, however, that when the mood is right, and I am very centered, it does go better.

Please note: This call is for NT members only. Do not invite your Aspies. Please find a private place to listen away from others, so everyone's privacy is respected.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like some in-person help with your NT/AS relationship issues, please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can find the strategies that help you and your family thrive.

Read more on my website: Asperger and Marriage.



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