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How to Stop Messing Up Your Love Life

Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars' Dr Ish Major drops some gems.
How to Stop Messing Up Your Love Life
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On WeTV’s Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars, 5 famous couples fight to save their broken relationships. This season, the love gurus on tap are therapists Dr. Venus Nicolino and Dr. Ish Major. Dr. Ish who is a board certified psychiatrist who specializes in women, children, families and relationships.

After taking on these hardcore couples, I figured that imparting advice to our beautiful readers would be a piece of cake. As you prepare for Friday’s season finale, read on for Dr. Ish’s take on how to learn to fight fair, how to stop messing up your relationships and whether he feels that black women need to settle.

A healthy relationship means doesn’t mean that you never ever fight. What are the rules of engagement for healthy fighting?

A lot of couples never talk about issues that matter because they’re scared it might cause a fight. That only leads to resentment and neither one of you being happy long term. We all fight. It’s going to happen. But if you know how to fight fair you don’t have to be scared to have one. At Marriage Boot Camp we teach five simple rules for fighting fair; we call them The Rules of Engagement.

Okay, break it down.

Rule number one, Same Team. remember that you’re both on the same team. Attack the issue and not each other. The fight is out there; not in here between us. Rule number two is One Play. When most of us fight we bring up everything and every hurt that our partner ever caused us and nothing, not even what we’re currently fighting about, ever gets resolved. Stay on topic and agree to argue only about the one thing at a time. The third rule is Play Hurt. Stay in the game. Don’t shut down. Never run away from the fight even when it hurts. Don’t rob your partner of the chance to be heard. Stay in the fight and finish it together. Rule number 4 is LUV, which stands for Listen, Understand and Validate.

The last one is Spike the Ball.

Okay, I don’t know sports, so how do we “spike the ball.”

When you make it through a fight and successfully resolve the issue remember to celebrate! Spike the ball! Go out to dinner. Go see a movie. Have ice cream. Have make-up sex. Do something to commemorate the fact that you made it through an argument and came out on the other side…together! If you can practice these rules of engagement together you never have to be afraid of tackling the tough issues or being scared to have a fight because you’ll know that you can get through it…together!

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LUV meaning Listen, Understand and Validate is also a major key.

On Marriage Boot Camp, “LUV – Listen. Understand. Validate” is Keke and Michael’s favorite. (smiles) Listen: Stop and really pay attention to what your partner is saying; don’t just wait until it’s your turn to talk. Understand: Try to understand things from their point of view. This is about having empathy and being able to put yourself in their shoes. It shows that you actually hear what they’re saying. A good technique here is to mirror back to them what they just said. Say, ‘What I heard you say was…’.

That’s always a powerful communication technique.

And then Validate. It’s not enough just to understand. Your partner’s point of view needs to be validated. This doesn’t mean you agree with them, it just means you understand why they feel the way they do. A great technique here is to say, ‘I can see why you would think that…’ and then clarify what you really meant to communicate.

Real talk. We have lots of intra-community issues and challenges between black men and black women. There’s very much a blame and shame gender exchange currently happening. How can we do relationships better?

Yup, real talk this has always been and continues to be one of our biggest problems when it comes to relationships. As black men and black women we all wear a mask. To school. To work. To wherever. And when we finally come home and take our masks off…oftentimes we get attacked again. How great would it be that when we finally take our mask off that we’re not only seen for who we truly are…but are actually loved for it.

Here’s what we can’t do. We can’t look to someone else to validate who we are. We can’t look to control someone else to make them do exactly what we want in a relationship. You can’t immediately tear someone down the second they make you feel less than who you think you are. There’s only one thing you can control in any relationship; yourself. It is impossible, I repeat, impossible to operate from a place of love and build your partner up if you don’t have a strong foundation of love for yourself to stand on. Love yourself first; then the love you have to give to someone else will naturally take care of itself. Do your relationship with yourself better and all of your other relationships will naturally fall in line.

Black women are often taught some version of “settle or die alone” when it comes to love advice. What do you want black women to know about love, dating and relationships?

I’ve heard that my whole life. What a horrible lesson to force on yourself. My advice to all of you is the same advice I give to my very own sisters; every time you settle you lose a little piece of yourself. You practice that enough, it’s a pattern. You keep going and keep settling, you die. Or at least that beautiful vibrant spirit that makes you uniquely you dies because you’re refusing to allow it what it’s dying to have; love. There’s no such thing as ‘halfway happy’. Either you want him or you don’t. Either you love all of him or you don’t. Either you have him completely or you don’t have him at all.

A piece of a man is not better than none at all! Period. It’s simple but we make it hard. You can’t let the fear of ending up alone make you continuously settle for someone or those someones who always seem to not make you happy anyway. That makes you hurt. That makes you resentful. That makes you angry. That makes you bitter. Which just feeds into the typical stereotype of all black women that you and I both know just ain’t true.

Here’s the truth. Whether you have someone sitting beside you helping you feel this way or not; it still makes you feel alone. So why not step out and claim what you want. Speak it! Say it! Set the expectation and refuse to allow yourself to backslide and settle for anything less. I guarantee you’ll see an immediate change in the type of men who you attract and a huge difference in the intentions that they’ll have towards you! The attitude is this; trifling men need not apply; next!

Well said! Dr. Ish, how can readers find you, your show and your work?

I’m super easy to find. Marriage Boot Camp Reality Stars is on WeTV every Friday night at 9pm! I’m also always on Twitter @DrIshMajor and of course you can reach me directly on my website DrIshMajor.com where you can find my books and brand new coaching program on relationships!

Congrats on the show! Please tell us about Marriage Bootcamp: Reality Stars.

Wow, I can truly say that Marriage Boot Camp is at the same time one of the most challenging and one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done! We take five couples with big personalities and even bigger issues and put them all in house together. That’s either a recipe for an epic fail or an epic success! But I believe in the program we run in the Boot Camp house and I believe in the skill set Dr. V, Judge Lynn Toler and I are bringing to the table so if I was to lay odds…I’m betting we can help them and I’m always going to bet on the House to win!

I’ve watched a couple of episodes and it’s a pretty volatile group. What are some of the relationship issues among your current cast?

VOLATILE? Yeah, in all caps! That doesn’t even begin to describe this group! Even though they’re reality stars they still struggle with the same issues that affect a lot of us. Margeaux and Merika are interesting because they’re our first same sex couple and they have a huge problem; and his name is Nikko! It’s a threesome of the worst sort and nobody’s happy there. Our Mob wife Karen and Storm are stuck in a constant power struggle for respect and the disrespect they show each other really makes you wonder why they’re together? Amber, our jersey housewife, and Jim both have huge hurts that caused them to shut down emotionally and of the emotions that are left, anger dominates. Jade and Tanner’s problem is that they got married in paradise before they ever really got to know each other and now that paradise is lost. They’re a brand new couple and are having a huge problem just learning to like the stuff they’re still finding out about each other. And our R&B diva Keke and Michael…I don’t even know where to start. Keke is exquisitely sensitive to any perceived criticism or slight and then she just explodes. Then she explodes some more! Then she explodes again…and again. You get the picture. It’s a good thing there are two Boot Camp Directors because Dr. V and I have had our hands full with this cast of characters!

Abiola Abrams is the author of the award-winning Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love, Manifest Your Miracles meditation album and African Goddess Affirmation Cards. The popular lifestyle guru is also the founder of online academy SacredBombshell.com.