Work, kids and all the other activities we participate in, means there’s not much time left over. When everything seems so important, we sometimes put focusing on our relationship at the bottom of our list.
Some couples think relationships are supposed to be easy. Not true! We must find the things that connect us and keep working on them.
A relationship takes time and care to thrive. It’s easy to take our most important relationships for granted and put them on the back burner.
Don’t let this happen to you!
Use research to determine how to strengthen your bonds without much guesswork. Agreeing on relationship vision, managing disagreements with respect and creating connection are three of the most important things to keep this game going strong.
Do you and your partner know what you want your relationship to look like? Once you agree on the most important values, hopes, dreams, etc. it’s easier to make a plan. Know how realistic your vision is and remember, IT WILL BE A CHALLENGE!
The most important things in changing your relationship (or anything) are consistency and persistence.
All relationships will have conflict and 99% of all conflict can be resolved with negotiation. Don’t let your conflicts become overwhelming. You both must accept each other for who you are and set non-negotiable differences. (My suggestion is don’t make it a non-negotiable unless it’s, well, non-negotiable!)
It’s important to keep in mind that tolerance and respect is important as well. Learn to forgive yourself and your partner. But also know what you’re not ok with. Those are boundaries we need to maintain. When things get tense, we might not handle ourselves well. So, learning to manage your emotions is an important part of negotiation.
Most couples have the same argument (different versions), over and over again. Don’t think that you must resolve all arguments because research shows us happy couples have “perpetual arguments.” Some won’t ever be resolved. Know the ones that are important and focus on those. Learn to listen to your partner’s viewpoint, be respectful even if you disagree and try to understand why it’s important to them. Being comfortable being uncomfortable is a skill to learn.
Establish and practice rituals of connection. Do “couples” things to strengthen your identity as a couple. Take time to learn about each other on a regular basis. Go and share adventures together. Spend time periodically refreshing your couple’s vision.
Remember, your relationship is a living, breathing thing and it depends on you to nurture it so it can grow!
Have a great day lovelies!
Do you ever wonder why you were attracted to your partner? Are you ever afraid if you end this relationship, you’ll just end up with another partner with the same issues?
It happens. It may have even happened to you!
We are attracted to our partner on many levels, some we’re aware of and some we’re not. I’ll do a couple of posts about this, but just be aware seen or unseen, our body’s and emotions respond to people for lots of different reasons.
There’s that elusive element we call “chemistry” that may or may not be there. At times, we leave a relationship due to the chemistry level! Or we just can’t leave a relationship because the chemistry is really great…even if there are significant other problems.
I believe it’s a good idea to establish the criteria for your partner before you go looking! It’s way too easy to get caught up in an emotional response. And you know those emotions aren’t reliable!
There’s a universal law called the Law of Attraction. It says, “We find what we’re looking for”. Now don’t think I’m getting all woo woo on you. This actually makes perfect, logical sense. Let me explain.
If I’m afraid of being with someone who’s verbally abusive, I focus my attention on that. I worry about it. I hope and pray I don’t end up with someone like that. When I start a relationship, I’ve focused so much on it, I’m expecting that person to be abusive. So, I may accept the little signs of potential abusiveness and overlook them because after all, that’s not really abuse. Pretty soon I’ve gotten a lot invested in the relationship. The more comfortable my partner feels, the more abusive they may become. I might be unsure of how to handle it at that point. I love the person, don’t want to leave them, but all the pleading, begging and demanding they change their behavior doesn’t seem to work. I’m stuck.
Well, I did find what I was looking for. I focused on what I didn’t want and I created a situation that perfectly got me that. I was so busy guarding against what I didn’t want, I completely forgot to look for what I did want.
So let’s switch this around. I don’t want to be with someone who’s verbally abusive. So, I focus on what I DO want. I want someone who’s kind, loving, and supportive. When I start a relationship, I’m focusing on seeing those behaviors. I see my partner as kind, loving and supportive. If my partner acts in a way that’s incongruent (abusively), it’s going to be immediately visible to me.
Now I still have a decision to make about this relationship, but if I’m clear about the things I want, I’m going to easily eliminate the things I don’t want.
You get to the restaurant and they tell you they’re out of soup. You’re devastated. They can’t deliver what you set your mind upon wanting. They may have many other wonderful options, but because it wasn’t what you envisioned, you end up feeling dissatisfied.
You deserve to have what you want in a resturant AND your relationship. I’m not telling you to give up on your current relationship, but is it giving you what you want?
PS-One way to get your needs met in a relationship is to improve your communication. Interested in learning more about my communication course? Click here.
A-First of all, don't drive yourself crazy trying to catch your partner. Decide to trust them. I always tell people, the scum rises to the top. If there’s something scummy, you'll find out soon enough. When you feel distrustful, you’ll be acting that out in some way and it will damage your relationship.
Secondly, do you suspect your partner is cheating or do they have a history of infidelity? In other words, are your insecurities based on facts or your own past experiences maybe with other partners? It’s not fair to hold your current partner liable for hurts done by someone else so make sure that’s not the case.
Lastly, take this as an opportunity for self growth. Manage yourself through the discomfort of suspicion and jealousy. If you need help, get with a professional!
Hope that helps!
Concerned about porn use by you or your partner? This podcast discusses why porn might be detrimental to your relationship.
I’ve gotten quite a few questions over the past couple of weeks and I’ve tried to answer some of them individually, but I’m going to answer some of the questions generally and hopefully help as many people as possible.
I get this question in similar format all the time. Many times, the person asking the question has been in a relationship for quite some time. They believe things are alright and suddenly their partner leaves or kicks them out.
I understand this can be devastating, especially if you didn't think things were THAT bad. Now usually the person writing the question wants to know how they can get their partner back.
Sometimes the person writing the question can look back and realize this partner had never been who they needed in their life. They may even feel their partner really wasn’t capable of the depth of relationship they wanted. But sometimes, they still want them back.
I'm sorry to disappoint, but I've never said I can make someone come back to a relationship! I’ve never been able to force another person to do anything. The only control any of us have is over ourselves. So, if your partner is done with the relationship, I can't tell you how to force them back. If you think there’s still hope and there’s some communication with your partner, there might be room for something to change.
The first thing I advise if you’re in the wanting them back camp: Ask yourself, do I really? Do I really want them back? People will say their partner was emotionally abusive, cheating, lying, emotionally distanced, etc. …..WHAT is it you want to continue?
Why do you want this to continue? Are you afraid of failure? Do you still have some love in your heart for this person? At some point, you have to accept that your partner isn’t going to be what or who you want them to be and that’s ok. Most of our angst in the world is because we want something to be different than it is. There've been times in my relationship when I thought I couldn’t take how it was. I felt miserable, unseen and unheard.
What kept me here? When I rationally looked at my relationship, it wasn’t that my husband was mean or intentionally neglectful, I just wasn’t happy about what I was getting. I decided to more clearly communicate those things and guess what, things got better. If you’re anything like me, the tiniest bit of effort keeps me engaged. So, it was enough for it to make sense for me to stay. And I’m glad I did.
Now if he'd been a liar or cruel, etc....I’d probably have made a different decision.
We all have to decide these things for ourselves, but it’s really more about YOU. If you’re being treated disrespectfully, why do you subject yourself to this?
Likewise, if your partner has left you, have you treated them disrespectfully? Did they get to the point, they could not tolerate it? I’m not saying this is the case and I’m not trying to kick you when you’re down, but if a relationship has failed, it’s part of our self-growth to learn what we can from it.
So more rarely, someone reports their relationship ended, they thought they were both totally committed and suddenly, their partner ended it. Most of the time, there were signs if you look back.
If your partner brings up reasons for their ending the relationship, you have to honest with yourself. Did they bring these issues up with you? Did you not take them seriously? Did you not realize how important it was to them? Maybe you can take some responsibility for that.
I believe it’s all our responsibility though to communicate our wants/needs/desires to our partners in the best way we can and to make sure they understand how important these things are to us. The kicker to this is: Your partner has the right to respond or not to these requests. You cannot force your partner to do what you want them to or to not do what you don’t want them to do.
Now you would hope your partner wants to contribute to your happiness (at least I do!) so they would be willing to change things within reason.
Recently, I was walking around the house in my slippers. They were floppy slippers and when I walked around the house in them, they made a fwap, fwap, fwap noise on the floor. My husband said, "Those slippers are driving me crazy. Would you please get rid of them?" I said, "Of course." I threw them away and went to Wal Mart for a new and different pair. It was one small way that I could meet a need. Now that wasn't earth shattering, but how many times has your partner made a request and you resisted just to "fight for your right"? I could have told him, "No, get over it. You don't like them that's your problem. I want to keep my slippers." And I can tell you, at some time in my life, I might have reacted that way. His happiness was worth more than my slippers.
Now if he had asked me to throw out my yoga pants, it probably would have been a different story!
Your responsibility in the situation is to decide for yourself if you can live with it. As an example, if I had a partner who spent money irresponsibly, I would ask him to get it under control. I’d try to get his buy in to a budget, cut up credit cards, whatever I thought might help.
If he refused, I’d have to determine how important it was to me. If he’s going to continue to spend recklessly, it could very negatively impact me. Now if that’s not so bad to me, I might just continue to be annoyed at his behavior and move one. If that’s unacceptable to me, I have some decisions to make.
Can I separate my financial wellbeing from his? I need to find out if I’m liable for his overspending. If so, I might take measures to protect myself. I might even have to leave the relationship.
You see all those responses are up to me. I don’t have to make him change to protect myself. My responsibility is to clearly articulate what I want/need or desire and how important it is to me. It’s up to him to change if he sees fit.
I know that can be hard to accept just allowing them to continue to do behavior you consider harmful. The truth is though we’re all people of free will and we are not truly capable of changing another person.
Usually when you get to this stage of giving ultimatums, there’s a fair amount of pain and anger involved. When we’re in those painful emotional places, it drives us to act in desperate manners. We may be making our requests by screaming, crying and berating. This behavior on our parts does not improve our communication. It actually makes it harder for our partner to listen to our actual concerns. When we let our negative emotions drive our actions, we actually get more of what we don’t want. So, pulling back on our instinctual reactions can help us be more understood.
I understand how difficult this is and at times, relationships are too far entrenched in this negative behavior cycle and it’s impossible to get it out. In those cases, a relationship may end.
Another situation that occurs pretty frequently is a partner is having an affair and believes they are in love with the affair partner. There is a biological basis for this so those feelings may be real. I’ve talked about that a lot so I’m not going into it here.
Affairs are secretive by nature, forbidden fruit so to speak. They may see in the affair partner things they don’t see in you or things they used to see in you. The problem with this is, bringing an affair into the light, shows some of the flaws as well. It’s entirely possible the affair will be over as soon as this happens. You staying present and open to that possibility could save your relationship in the end.
The more you show yourself to be clingy/a bitch/nagging/controlling whatever description they have of you, the more you reinforce their skewed view of reality. If you really want your relationship to survive this, you must keep the walls down.
It’s perfectly acceptable for you not to remain open to continue the relationship as well. No one would blame you, it’s easy to leave, it’s much more difficult to stay and stick with the feelings that are going to come up. If you’re trying to rebuild after an affair, it really does pay to get professional help.
It is always your responsibility to communicate what you don’t like (and what you do like) clearly and if it’s a deal breaker, communicate that too!
Any situations you don’t like, you have a responsibility in them. You can accept or not accept the situation and probably a whole slew of other options as well. We very well may not like the options, but that’s trying to make reality different than it is isn’t it?
So, in summary,
1. Stop trying to control partner
2. Take responsibility for your part in the situation
3. Decide if it’s worth it, or are you wanting it to be different than it is?
4. Don’t let your feelings run the show.
If you need some help in improving your communication, check out my new course here.
As always, hope this helps and let me know how it’s going!
Is there such a thing as caring too much? All the world needs is a little more love, a little more caring about each other, right?
While this rings true to most of us, you’ve probably wondered, is it possible I care too much?
In this world, balance exists in all things, gentle and sweet/ violent and chaotic. You might expect there’s a situation where someone might care too much. To quote philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, “Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people.”
Caring for others gives us the greatest cause for gladness and distress.
Emotional stress is a sign that we may be in this state of too much caring. Our best judgment comes when we have just the right measure of caring and detachment. Too emotionally attached, we lose objectivity. This causes us to make irrational decisions.
What are the signs that we care too much?
We feel emotionally upset by what is going on. Feelings are going to happen, but we don’t have to act on every feeling we have. I’ve been married almost 25 years. I have been very upset at my husband MANY times. As a counselor, this scenario plays out for me in my office several times a week. One of a couple, for their own reasons, does something their partner feels is detrimental. They may feel very strongly about it and express it. Once voices are raised, rationality has left the building!!
Strong feelings give us an opportunity for self examination. What underlies these feelings? Are you afraid for your partner’s safety? Is your attachment bond being jangled? Are you feeling neglected by your spouse? Teasing out these feelings and exposing them to the bright light of day often reduces their impact.
If you’re forcing a thing, this might also be a sign that you’re caring too much. At times, we see what we think is the most direct or best route to an end, and we try to force the “how” of achieving it. The more you push, the less “flow” can occur. Who can argue that the universe has a serendipitous way of easily making things happen? Often in spite of our so called assistance!
Examine yourself. If you have areas in your life where you feel you are caring too much, give yourself space to take a step back. What are the thoughts and fears pushing you? Look around. Aren’t there an infinite number of other possibilities?
Now, I don't really want you to care less. I do want you to cling less to what your fear tells you to do. Taking responsibility for your behavior in the face of your fears is the anecdote to that powerless feeling we get from caring too much.
Don’t let your fear have a seat at the table. It makes you grab on just when you should be letting go. If you want to go deeper, sign up for my self coaching course here. It’s a great step to creating a relationship you love!
Caring just the right amount,
While you may believe you’re doing something to attract the wrong guy, that may not be the biggest part of the equation. Do you do different behaviors when you attract a good guy vs. when you attract a bad guy? Probably not. You’re probably presenting yourself in as attractive a manner as you see fit and then attraction happens.
What I mean is, attraction is an emotional response. I don’t believe we can control our emotions, but we can take 100% responsibility for what we do with those emotions. Just because I want a brownie, doesn’t mean I have to eat the brownie! That brownie might look good, smell good and promise to taste good, but I can still choose to walk away.
So my question back to this person is why are you giving the wrong guy a chance to date you? There are certain characteristics that may indicate “wrong guy” status. Too often, we’re swept up in that attraction and those warning signs aren’t strong enough to get our attention. Think about the last “wrong guy”. What was the first sign you were in a relationship with the wrong person? Be honest. It was likely a long time before the last straw showed up.
Why did you continue to remain in the relationship? You ought to answer this question before you take another step towards getting into a relationship again. Do you just want to be with someone so badly you tolerate things that might not contribute to your happiness in the long term?
Learning your own insecurity that caused you to stay with a bad partner is imperative to making a better decision next time. Choosing a partner is definitely a choice! Do you have any idea how many people you’ll be attracted to in your lifetime? You can’t possibly be in a relationship with all of them!
What’s your criteria for a “good guy”? If you’re always attracted to a pretty face, how’s that working for you? Maybe you need to know what deeper characteristics you want and look for those.
Everyone has the potential to be with “good” or “bad” partners. The difference is when we’re clear about what we won’t tolerate, we don’t stay with the bad partners for long. We don’t give them chances over and over. We acknowledge what they show us and we CHOOSE to move on.
We all teach people how to treat us, so when you tolerate treatment that you don’t like, you’re teaching your partner that it’s ok. Now you may complain about it or beg them to change, but bottom line, you’re allowing it. You have to set a firm boundary and then your partner can decide if they want to operate within that boundary or not. They have 100% ownership of that decision. The decision you have 100% ownership of is are you going to stay and tolerate it?
Seeing warning signs and ignoring them in hopes that he’ll change, is you fooling yourself. Learn to trust yourself, see the red flags and then CHOOSE.
There’s plenty of people who are good people with some really crappy flaws. The law of attraction states that we find what we’re looking for even though we might not always see it right away. Start looking for the things you DO want in a partner. You’ll find that too!
Loving and respecting yourself means you live in integrity with your wants, needs and desires. Putting your attention on this will ensure that you only stick with a partner who values you as well. Sure, ending a relationship can be painful. But compromising yourself is more painful.
If you want to increase your self awareness, check out my self coaching course here. It will help you get in touch with what you really want out of a relationship and create a relationship you love!
Only good for you!
Despite counseling intervention, some couples do not survive conflict. But some do. If you’re reading this, you’re likely looking for a way to improve your relationship. Of course, you may consider counseling, but please also consider the following thoughtfully.
I’m the first to remind you…..you cannot change anyone but yourself. Every interaction is the result of the contribution of two or more individuals. You can only be responsible for your own interaction. Often, we believe that problems are created by someone other than us. Therefore, to recognize that you have responsibility, and therefore, power over part of every interaction is an exciting prospect!
There is a large body of research on relationship satisfaction. Some basic beliefs and characteristics have been linked to happiness in relationships. These include:
Respect is defined as a feeling of deep admiration for someone elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
Is this how you feel about your partner? If you cannot honestly answer in the affirmative, did you ever feel this for your partner? Sometimes, your partner doesn’t meet your expectations in some way and your respect for them grows dull. Sometimes, your partner behaves in a way that reduces your level of respect for them.
If you are going to improve respect and your relationship, you will have to get back in touch with that feeling of respect. Most likely, at some point, you chose this person as a partner. Hopefully, you had some positive feelings when you did this! What were the things that drew you to your partner?
As we grow and change, our views of respectable qualities may change as well. Finding respectable qualities in your partner may present a challenge, but, in truth, everyone has some respectable qualities. Spend some time identifying abilities, qualities or achievements that you respect in your partner.
Acceptance is defined as positive welcome, favor and endorsement; consent to receive something offered.
Have you been meeting the definition of acceptance with your partner? Many times, receiving is conditional rather than having gratitude for what is offered.
Perhaps here again, your partner has not met your expectations. Expectations may hinder the spirit of acceptance. Find one way in which you have not met your partner with acceptance, but have insisted your expectations be met. Can you release this expectation? If not, find one that you can release. Practice releasing the expectation. This one will likely take some work!
3. Attributions to the positive:
This can also be stated as assuming the positive.
Do you attribute your partner’s positive behavior to their positive intent? For instance, he helped me because he’s being nice, NOT he helped me because he wants something.
Attributing behaviors to negative intent can poison your relationships, create defensiveness and undermine efforts by your partner. The next time you notice yourself doing this; make a decision to attribute the positive.
Often, we decide we know WHY someone did something or WHAT they were thinking. How many times have you argued over what your partner told you they meant by something they said or did? Be honest. I know I’ve done this. Guess what. I don’t really know how to read minds, but sometimes I pretend I do!
At some point, we have to give our partner the benefit of the doubt and assume they have our best intentions in mind if that’s what they say.
4. Positive Interactions:
When was the last time you had a positive interaction with your partner? Good things are built on strong foundations. Each positive interaction you have is a brick in your foundation.
There is actually a research based quota for positive vs. negative interactions. Happy couples have 5 positive interactions for every negative interaction. Theoretically, you can change the tide of your relationship by creating 5 positive interactions for every negative interaction! Isn’t that exciting?
What fun can you have with your partner? Can you agree to stay away from topics that knowingly create conflict for a certain timeframe? You can always argue later! You have to prioritize creating positive interactions with your partner.
5. Specific Conflict:
When you argue, do you bring in other issues of conflict or stick to the topic at hand? Happy couples tend to focus on the subject at hand rather than globally criticizing each other.
Do you fight fairly? Do you remain focused on the specific issue of conflict or do you bring up old and stale issues from 3 years ago? Do you take the opportunity of conflict to pick on your partner for any little thing you can?
The next conflict that arises, practice remaining focused on the specific issue instead of being diverted to other issues.
6. Rapid Repair:
Happy couples repair any ruptures in their relationships quickly.
Do you hold a grudge? Do you go for long periods giving your partner the silent treatment?
The next time a conflict arises, be the first one to QUICKLY move to repair. (This can also demonstrate respect and acceptance.)
7. Balance of Intimacy and Power:
Intimacy and power consists of both emotional and physical aspects.
Everyone has different levels of needs related to intimacy and power. Many times, one partner wants more emotional or physical intimacy than their partner is willing to provide. Sometimes, you may be afraid of being emotionally open with your partner. Sometimes, you might want to be more physically connected with your partner.
In relationships, power is demonstrated in the ability to negotiate for needs to be met. The more secure and balanced the power, the easier it is to negotiate. At times, sacrifices are made by both partners in healthy relationships.
Have you created a situation where your partner feels equal rights to ask for their needs for intimacy to be met? Is there an imbalance in power? Does your partner have as much right to make decisions as you? Does your partner’s opinion carry as much import as yours?
Hopefully this article begins connecting you to an improved relationship with your partner. Seriously consider the questions raised and focus on the changes that YOU can make to have a positive impact.
The majority of the couples I work with complain that communication is their problem. And I usually agree! In truth, we communicate all the time. The problem is usually EFFECTIVE communication!
Although we cannot help but communicate, thru words, body language, facial expressions or energy, we can always improve.
Coaching sessions can bring up emotions that cause us to act instinctively vs. productively. I developed these “rules” about communicating so we can agree on the safe guidelines.
At any time, these rules can be referred back to so effective communication can proceed.
Download and enjoy!
Children naturally and unashamedly want what they want. And they usually want it when they want it! Most of us got the message along the way, wanting is not good. We should be satisfied with what we have. We shouldn't be selfish. Good girls and boys don't ask for things.
As adults, we have difficulty tapping back into that wanting. So many conflicting messages.
As adults, we know, a rubber toy isn't going to do it. Material things might give us a fleeting moment. We can milk experiences a bit more because they give us memories. But as adults, we want more intangible things.
We want to feel free of pain, physical and emotional. We want to feel close to our partner. We want to time travel backwards and change that last bad decision we made. We want to be free from those panic attacks.
Yes, we still want things. I wish i could drive to Mobile and get these things for these lovely souls I work with. They all deserve it, they've been so good.
Wanting it all,
PS-Sign up for my email list and I’ll share some great relationship tips with you!