Rachel Moheban: The Top 3 Relationship Communication Tips

00409501 Editor’s note: This Next week I’ll be posting my interview with Women at Forty’s latest Whirly Girl, Rachel Moheban. Rachel’s one of the most sought after psychotherapists in New York City and creator of the website The Relationship Suite. But most exciting for us, she’s agreed to be Women at Forty’s Relationship Expert. More details on that coming up later, but today Rachel’s sharing three simple tips to help improve communication in your relationship.

Top 3 Relationship Communication Tips

We’re always told how important good communication is to make a relationship work, but what does this really mean? On the surface, it seems straightforward and logical, right? So you and your partner need to talk and express your feelings….to be open, direct and honest.

Easier said than done! Add human emotion, different backgrounds/personalities and personal limitations into the mix, and many couples are left feeling conflicted and helpless. Good communication does not usually come naturally in a long-term relationship, and both partners need to work on getting their communication momentum right to achieve a harmonious relationship.

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Esther Kane: On Closure

closure Editor’s Note: In today’s post Esther Kane talks about finding closure in relationships. In it she shares the story of a woman who finds herself repeating the negative messages she’d received from her father in her current relationship. In these situations Esther suggests using letter writing as a tool for finding closure.  I’m definitely going to give the exercise a try. My hope is that doing so will put an end to some of the gnawing conversations I still have with myself over mistakes I’ve made in past relationships. Maybe it will do the same for you…

In my therapy practice, the work lately seems to be about helping clients release and let go of ‘unfinished business’ from the past; whether it’s an old romance that still niggles away at their psyche, healing from a past trauma, or coming to terms with one’s family-of-origin and learning to reposition oneself in our families as the adult women we are now, rather than reacting like the child we used to be.

For example, one client came to me because she was having trouble trusting the new partner in her life, even though they were getting along and he treated her very well. She couldn’t shake the belief that he would one day discover that she ‘wasn’t worthy’ of him and trade her in for a prettier, younger version.

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A Jamaican Beauty – Part 1

Jamaican Beauty I was twelve when my mother turned forty and started to disappoint me. There is nothing more painful in this life than disillusionment, but it happens to everyone and usually starts with parents. Up until I was twelve, though, my mother was everything. I can still feel her tender kisses on my cheeks, the press of her hand as she led me through traffic, the feel of her fingers drop curling my hair with a fine tooth comb and a bowl of ice water. She was strength and softness, tempered by intelligence and independence.

In my pre-twelve little girl eyes, my mother was everything I wanted to be. My memory paints pictures of my mother in swimming watercolor, like the paintings she’d made when she was a girl. Paintings that had been hung in Jamaica’s Devon House, a prominent government building where she had worked in the gift shop long before I entered her imagination. When I picture her in the early days of my childhood, I see a hard-working, determined student and superb mathematician studying by the singular circle of light thrown on the dining table from the lamp above. (Photo: my mother the Jamaican Beauty)

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No more Mr. Nice guy, errr girl…

Businesswoman.

I wrote this last year after the nature of a few of my relationships changed. I realized that it wasn’t the other person that changed, it was me. I’d decided I no longer wanted to pretend to be ok with the way things were, and as a consequence, I was probably no longer considered  by them to be very nice. Welcome to my “new nice.”

A friend recently released a children’s book called Nice to be Nice. She’s also a blogger, so we frequently find ourselves discussing the nice and not so nice behavior of the people around us. Whether it’s the mother allowing her toddler to scream his way through the grocery store, or it’s the man who, tiring of the display, smacks the kid square in the mouth, something’s just a bit off in society today. I think some adults have forgotten, and many kids just don’t know that it really is nice to be nice. That said, as I get older I find myself embracing a different kind of nice.

In my twenties, being nice meant having conversations with people I knew were lying to me, and not calling them on it. It meant being so concerned about hurting someone else’s feelings that I allowed them to hurt mine. It meant being aware of people’s negative attitudes but pretending to be ok with it anyway. And it meant doing things I didn’t want to do, even when I knew doing them wasn’t right for me. I did all of those things because I wanted to be nice. I didn’t want to rock the boat, and I wanted to avoid having certain conversations with certain people, at all cost.

But I had a light bulb moment almost ten years ago. I wrote about it last week, in the best advice I ever got.  It was during this conversation that my friend asked me why I got so upset when she did and said the things she did and said. The same things she’d been doing and saying for years. She was absolutely right to ask the question. And for years, I’d been too “nice” to tell her that many of the things she’d done had hurt me deeply. To preserve the friendship I let those things slide. As a result, I grew to resent her, and more importantly myself, for not thinking enough of myself to end a friendship that had become toxic. I vowed then, never again to be “so nice” that I lose myself in the process.

For the most part, I’ve kept my promise.  While the 20’s me would ignore my spirit telling me “girl, now you know something is wrong with this picture”  the soon to be 40 me has a BS meter so finely calibrated that I can spot a crock while it’s still being formed in someone’s head and shut it down before it has a chance to do damage. It’s a great skill to have.  Having it means that sometimes I stop BS-ers dead in their tracks. As a result, BS-ers do not think I’m nice. Neither do people who always want something for nothing, people who take others for granted, nor do the married men whom I immediately shut down when they, wedding ring securely on ring finger, “just want to holler at me for a minute.” These people don’t think I’m nice, and I don’t want them to.

Over the years, I’ve lost sight of my “new nice” a few times, but these days it’s much easier to be me, even if it means someone doesn’t like me. I help old people cross the street, offer rides to friends in need and genuinely wish real joy and success for everyone who crosses my path. I celebrate when the underdog wins and I’m frustrated when the greedy seem to prosper on the backs of the weak.  I’m as nice as the next guy – or girl. But I’ve tempered my niceness with a bit of wisdom. My mother would call it discernment. I call it my “new nice.”

Have you redefined your nice? How? Share your definition of nice in the comment section, on our Facebook Fan page or on Twitter @womenatforty.

A Land Enchanted

00407459 As a child I imagined the age of forty would find me holding a PhD and having four sons loving me from every corner of my world. Oddly enough, I never imagined a husband to make and raise those sons with me; when I was young and dreaming those dreams, the taboo of having children while single hadn’t registered with me yet, and marriage as I saw it from my experience didn’t seem like a necessary or good thing. In reality, I did marry and have two sons (one of whom is currently aiming his considerable rage directly at me from his corner) and an adopted daughter. I am only now writing my master’s thesis, twenty years after my first day of college. It is most certainly good enough—what I have, whom I love and care for, and what I’ve managed to accomplish. I had roadblocks aplenty and high hurdles to jump and still do. I suppose I’m finding out that turning forty is no panacea, no final exorcism of every internal demon.

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