How are Exotic Animal Training and Learning in Marriage Related?
I hear a lot of complaining about what a partner did or didn’t do. A lot of, “If you loved me, you would/wouldn’t,” and see many behaviors that lack appreciation and leave a partner feeling s/he will never be good enough.
Reward and Praise (and Ignore)
I was steered to Amy Sutherland’s article What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage by one of my clients, and I loved it. I think you will, too.
Amy was working on an article about exotic animal trainers, and decided to try the techniques on her husband — and give up nagging. The basic gist of it is to reward or praise the behavior you want, and to completely ignore the behavior you don’t want.
My little dog likes to put his paws on me so I can pet him. But I don’t want him jumping up on people. His first mom showed me to just turn away when my dog jumps up. And lo and behold, he has almost completely stopped (he’s 14 and learning this). We continue the same behavior.
Stop Taking it Personally
It’s so easy to take things personally. If she’s in a mood, I must have done something wrong vs. she’s in a mood, I wonder what’s up and if she needs anything from me? The first puts you in a position of often feeling like something is wrong with you (it’s likely not about you anyway). The latter puts you in the position of being a supportive partner who will give love in her love language, or space, if that’s what she needs in that moment.
Accept or Reject?
What are you able to accept about your partner, and what do you really need to be different? What is it about you that leads you to require one or the other of these?
As you are in this relationship together, in each other’s care, think about what is needed for “us.” Nagging is not helpful for you. It’s not helpful for “us,” either.
Of course this doesn’t apply to grievous behavior.
Enjoy your exotic animal training, and cherish your beloved, unique, human animal. I can’t wait to hear how it goes.
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