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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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How are Exotic Animal Training and Learning in Marriage Related?

Uploaded: Apr 29, 2016
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.

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.

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.

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 won'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.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 2, 2016 at 11:39 am

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

" How are Exotic Animal Training and Marriage Related?"

They're not. Marriage is about learning, not training.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on May 2, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Marriage is certainly about learning. I hope you had a chance to read the article linked to this post . . .


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on May 2, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

I did. My comment concerned the headline. Do they let you change it?


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