I Slapped My Husband In The Face: I Punched My Husband In The Face - I Hit My Husband When I Was Drunk

Imagine that we run an experiment. First, I inject you with a mix of all the chemicals your body naturally produces when you are under stress, whether it's a near miss on the highway or a fight with a store clerk. We wait for the chemicals to take effect, which happens rapidly. Now you're feeling this chemical cascade-your pulse is rapid, your breathing shallow. Also, your brain is working differently, with its options narrowed to fight or flight. Now discuss with your partner all the most sensitive issues about your relationship. Do it without aggression or defensiveness, even though your body and brain are chemically prepared primarily for attack and defense.

Sounds like a lousy plan, doesn't it? No one can be expected to perform well at these sensitive interpersonal tasks when physiology is organized for the extremely primitive challenges of fight or flight. Biological preparation that was good for fleeing from saber-toothed tigers is terrible for working out relationship issues with your partner.

When couples get into fights or heated exchanges, it can happen quickly that emotional and physical arousal escalates steeply for either or both partner(s). Before you know it, you're right in the middle of our experiment and expecting to perform well at a sophisticated task with a primitive brain. Your options become limited to primitive behaviors of self-defense or attack -- behaviors that anyone in his or her right mind would recognize immediately as counterproductive. But of course, you're not in your right mind; you're in your chemically altered mind.

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The general guideline is that if you can keep your heart rate below 100 beats per minute, you can remain in your "right mind". Everybody can learn to use two key techniques that are effective for reducing arousal and keeping your heart rate where it belongs. These self-management techniques are easy to learn and even easy to implement at difficult moments.

The first technique is a simple and universally effective breathing technique -- the slow, deep exhale. This simple relaxation strategy effectively slows and then halts the chemical cascade of fight or flight. The technique is the essence of simplicity - breathe out through gently pursed lips (do not blow); breathe out slowly, counting to at least 6; breathe out as deeply as you comfortably can, until you have emptied as much air as possible. Repeat as often as you need. This technique can be used anywhere at any time.

The second is the strategic use of separation - when things get intense, the partners separate while things settle down. Two rules - the first is that the separation should last for 20 minutes. Most of what has to happen to get you out of our doomed experiment and into a better emotional and biologic place will occur within 20 minutes. Less time and you're not quite squared away physiologically; more time is usually unnecessary. The second rule for separation is not to dwell on the argument or the issues. Thoughts should be neutral. Take a walk and focus on the scenery, read a magazine; purposefully divert yourself from the fight or your partner and allow your body to settle down.

It's your choice-fight or flight is not a plan. But with these two strategies you can manage your body's chemistry and stay in your right mind.

Now Listen Carefully-

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There have been a number of women who have been asking me similar questions when it comes to understanding men, so I wrote this article to try and address one of the more common issues. For women who are in a relationship, you'll find this article particularly useful. If your friends consider you the one who wears the pants in the relationship, this could be causing quite a bit of strife in your relationship. What I'm going to do is describe a way for you to essentially do nothing, let your man do everything and make him love and respect you more.

1. Whipped!

Women who "wear the pants" supposedly have all the authority in the relationship. The man answers to their every beck and call and basically, she calls the shots in the relationship.

I struggle to see what she gets out of the relationship from the man. What sort of value does the man provide if he's more whipped than whipped cream? At any rate, in this position, the man doesn't have much respect for his woman. Why's that?

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2. Stepping Down

Traditionally, men are the ones who wear the pants in the relationship. This is because traditionally, the man is the provider, making sure that his family is safe, happy and healthy. Regardless of how much you want to wear the pants in the relationship, if he can't do his to some degree, he isn't getting the respect he deserves as a man.

What do you have to do? You have to let him do some of the "activities" to help recalibrate that balance in respect.

3. Some Examples

If you're like my wife, then you consider yourself the person who wears the pants in the relationship. If you don't give back some power to the man like my wife did for me, the relationship will head to a break up.

What my wife did was allow me to pay half the bills (she insisted on paying them all while I was operating my business) and cook on certain nights (she makes the best fettucine carbonara). Basically, she did less, but by giving me control, she's getting more respect and love from me because I feel more validated by her.

Understanding men doesn't have to be as complicated as it is. No matter the era, men are going to need respect if the relationship is to function properly. Delegate things for him to do, especially if you do a lot in the relationship and watch the respect he has for you skyrocket.

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On my way back from the local shopping strip I bumped into a neighbor. Always the trend observer, he asked me if I had noticed that recently there were many more marriages compared to divorces listed in the weekly column of the local newspaper. I had not paid attention to that fact. He speculated that it had to do with the tough economic times. It was his theory that people cared more about strengthening their relationships when faced with unsettled times. He also noted that in good times people were much more selfish while in tough times they cared more about having an emotionally connected partner.

I do think that there is something valid to what he was saying. I remember back in the early eighties when Huston, Texas was in financial woes. I had a colleague in the mental health field in Huston who observed that people were availing themselves more of emotional help when times were tougher. They were willing to put time and money into getting help because they wanted to strengthen their relationships.

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What a good way to deal with the stress of financial turmoil. To realize that what really matters is relationships and family. Indeed we see a pattern of coming together when outside forces impact individuals. We saw that nationally with 9/11. We see that in people and communities when faced with natural or man made calamities. Currently the stress of financial worries is anxiety producing. Even if they have not been personally affected too much so far most people are anxious about the future. In all likelihood they know of someone who is worried about losing their job or will they be able to keep paying their bills.

What is in each persons control is the ability to strengthening their relationships:

- Stay away from blame and criticism. It will keep you in the past.

- Identify what matters most to you and your loved ones.

- Keep a "we will get through this" attitude.

- Know that by being able to count on each you will find solutions together.

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For those wise consumers who like the idea of getting two for the price of one, I offer this enticing prospect: the path towards marital stability and happiness is the same as the path towards spiritual growth and enlightenment. Whatever you do to contribute to the one will also enhance the other.

This is not to say that a committed and successful relationship is strictly mandatory in the effort to attain one's full personal and spiritual potential. Contrary to fundamentalist doctrines, I believe there are multiple paths available to us and that one should seek and travel on that which suits his or her temperament. Some folks are just not geared towards theological devotion and study. Others are primarily emotionally driven and devotion is right for them. They actually enjoy surrendering to a higher power while still others insist on retaining control over almost everything around them. Some are action-oriented and fulfill themselves by performing deeds. Intellectuals love to learn and find that process to be the best way to make the most of themselves. Whatever their orientation, the majority still choose marriage and family life and I wish to point out some of the reasons why this is one of the most direct paths to wisdom and enlightenment.

Marriage is a great challenge, especially in the modern time when options are so many. People don't need marriage now in the same way they used to. It's no longer necessary for survival, nor, apparently, even for childrearing. Almost half of all children in America are born out of wedlock these days. I'm not saying this is a good thing. It certainly renders the concept of fatherhood a bit more ephemeral and I'm reasonable sure this is not a good thing at all. Nevertheless, people are having lots of babies "illegitimately", a concept which, along with the word "bastard", has outlived its usefulness. The point is, people are not getting married as a matter of course like they used to, at least not for the same reasons.

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Marriage has changed, even if the personal qualities needed in order to make a success of it haven't.
The modern marital ideal is egalitarian, for one thing. This means that, in order to succeed, an individual must learn to advocate for the self while simultaneously honoring the other. Now, this is a bit tricky. To do this effectively, it is necessary to develop humility and courtesy, to use them together in communication, all while not failing to remain true to (and express) oneself. Don't you agree this is tricky? It's not so easy to do this in the heat of action, especially when emotions are triggered as they usually are in a love relationship where, seemingly, everything is on the line on a daily basis. It's a delicate negotiation that takes place and to do it right requires not only skill but dedication and maturity.

And this is my real point. Developing this necessary maturity is the same as spiritual growth because it necessitates transcending the limited self of the "I" and becoming something "greater". Spiritual growth is all about getting over yourself. Maybe, if you're a monk or a nun and completely dedicated to the spiritual path, you can let go of yourself and merge with the Godhead like Saint John of the Cross or Theresa of Avila. But for married people, letting go of yourself is really not a good option and leads to pathology, dysfunction and depression, not to mention divorce. The deal is, you have to "get over yourself" without letting go of yourself.

Here's why. Marriage takes two. You have to be there, really be there with all your faculties, providing a counterpoint for your partner to struggle with/love. Remaining present, under fire sometimes, under stress most of the time, isn't so easy. It requires virtue. And virtue is, or should be, the end product of maturity. And what is virtue? Well, virtue hasn't changed much even if marriage has.

To listen attentively, with concern, requires self-control and compassion. That's two virtues. To understand and respect another's point of view when you disagree requires generosity and tolerance. Two more. To get past an argument and continue to love well requires forgiveness and patience. Two more. Are you following me? Think this is easy? To act lovingly when one doesn't feel loving requires humility, discipline, intention and a voluntary release of pride and self-righteousness. There is always something to let go of. Usually it's an emotion that stems from our mammalian self. We've been wounded or we desire/fear something. Letting go of these feelings is essential to both marital and spiritual growth. Our base impulses, our animal instincts sometimes interfere with the expression of virtuous behavior.

None of us is born perfect. But we have an opportunity, while we're alive, to improve. This growth, this maturation, requires us to overcome some of the basic animal urges we were born with. And this will help your marriage, too.

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Divorce does not have to be your only option. Even if it feels as though your relationship can't be saved because of the ongoing conflicts between you and your spouse, it can be. There are techniques that you can begin using today that will not only stop a divorce, but will help also you build a stronger and more loving marriage.

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