7 posts from September 2006

September 26, 2006


Relationships are hard work even in the best of situations. In relationships where things aren’t very good to begin with, things can be excruciatingly difficult. So when is it that enough’s enough? When is it time to pull the plug or be clear about what you need in order to stay?

I have been struggling with this very question in one of my professional relationships and I must say I wish there was a clear answer. Before I discuss when to end things, let me start with my belief that before you leave any relationship, I believe it’s important you earn your way out. Earning your way out means you do everything in your power to make it work. You work your end as best you can.

Working your end means, do the best you can to be relational and respectful at all times, make changes your partner has been asking you to make, and be clear about what you need from your partner and speak these needs directly.


September 22, 2006

BECOME THE PARTNER YOU WISH TO BE WITH: A map for couples and individuals in relationships

When I work with clients on their relationships, I stress the concept of Changing Me, Changes We and I encourage clients to become the person they wish to be with. I believe that the healthier we become, the healthier are relationships will be; it all starts within ourselves.

That said, below is a questionnaire I use with couples/individuals sometimes to help gain clarity on what each person needs to work on within the relationship. It can be a great road map for people if they answer the questions honestly. I hope you find it helpful.

You cannot attract healthy relationships or communities if you are not relationally healthy with-in yourself.

1. What is some feedback you have been given by your partner that you have not wanted to believe or that is difficult to hear? (Ie. You can be bossy, critical, etc.)

2. What 3 qualities do you have that you would not want in a partner?
• Work on these and change them.

3. What 3 qualities do you have that you would want in a partner?
• Strengthen these

Continue reading "BECOME THE PARTNER YOU WISH TO BE WITH: A map for couples and individuals in relationships" »

September 19, 2006

COMMUNICATION IN RELATIONSHIPS: If you want your partner to share with you, you must be a soft landing.

I often hear women complain about their partner’s lack of emotional connection, reluctance to share, or frequent withdrawal at home. They are often so angry about this that they can barely contain themselves. When I ask how they handle this, they often spit out a list of behaviors that include yelling, screaming, crying, pleading, complaining, demanding, and at some point giving up. If I ask the famous Dr. Phil question, “So how’s that working’ for ya?” they often reply that it’s not.

A long time ago I handled this issue much differently than I do today. You see, before, I would assume that the man was totally off base and needed some help learning how to connect. What I’ve since realized however, is that while this can be the case in some situations, it is not the case nearly as often as I thought.

Many men would love to speak to their wives—if they were safe to speak to.

Continue reading "COMMUNICATION IN RELATIONSHIPS: If you want your partner to share with you, you must be a soft landing. " »

September 15, 2006


I was speaking with someone who was telling me that when he doesn’t do what he agreed to do, his coach questions him about his lack of integrity in his word. When I heard this it struck me how often we say or agree to things we don’t mean. In couples, this often leads to anger, disappointment and ultimately one partner not trusting another partner’s word.

I began to watch my own habits around this and I realized that I was not as much in integrity as I thought I was. I caught myself a couple times agreeing to something quickly and then realizing I really wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it. Although I wasn’t purposely trying to deceive anyone, I was. For example, my friend and I are in a book group together and we were supposed to have completed the exercises in the first chapter. She had done her part and I said I just didn’t have the time. Although I was really busy, if I had taken my agreement seriously, then I would have found the time.

At the end of the call we both agreed to move to chapter two and get as much done as we could. Immediately after I agreed to this I was aware that really what I was thinking was that I’d try to get to chapter two—no guarantees. When I realized this, I quickly told my friend. I realized how out of integrity this was, even though it was not purposefully deceitful. I then recommitted to actually doing chapter two rather than just “trying” to do it.


September 11, 2006


One of the most rewarding aspects of relationships can be the realization that your partner “has your back,” that you both have each other’s back. With this realization comes a sense of teamwork and partnership that fuels you.

This past weekend two things happened that reminded me of this in my relationship. The first was when my husband and I were at the soccer fields for our kids. The team parent had sent me an e-mail the previous week and I unfortunately forgot to reply. The parent commented on my lack of reply, I apologized and assured her I would do better in the future. Five minutes later my husband went up to ask her to include his name on the e-mail at which point she complained to him that I didn’t reply. My husband responded by saying that I have a very busy schedule and that his has a lot of flexibility so it’s easier for him to reply to e-mails. When he told me what he said, I thanked him and told him it was nice to know he had my back. He laughed and said, “Of course I have your back.” I felt a great sense of comfort.

The second incident occurred when my husband and I were talking to our children about taking better care of our dog (an adorable chocolate lab puppy). The kids were arguing about who took her out the most, and whose turn it was to take her for a walk. My husband’s response was, “You know your mom and I never fought about whose turn it was to change your diapers or whose turn it was to get up in the middle of the night. We just did it. We didn’t keep score. We helped each other take care of the two of you because we love you both and that’s what family does—you help one another.”


September 08, 2006


I believe parenting is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. If you’re not a parent then you have no idea. If you are a parent then I’m betting you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I remember when I used to work with families before I had children of my own. I used to hate it when the parents would ask me if I had my own children. I would fumble around and tell them that although I did not have children, I understood how difficult parenting could be…I had no idea.

These parents would look at me with those knowing, dismissive eyes and pacify me while I explained all “the right” ways to parent. They would question me about a thousand scenarios and I would tell them what all the experts say. When they wanted an answer that wasn’t from a textbook I did my best.

Now that I’m a parent, I look back at those days and realize how clueless I was. I wasn’t giving them wrong information I just had no idea how difficult it was to actually implement the things I was telling them to do. Since then I have become acutely aware of the difficulties of being a good parent.

Now, from this side of the fence, let me tell you some of the things I’ve learned…


September 05, 2006

CORNERSTONE 10: Deal with issues directly and in a timely fashion. Allowing issues to fester destroys relationships.

If you cannot let go of an issue without resentment, then speak directly about it. Each unspoken grudge piggy-backs on previous ones, until they build up to a point where few relationships can survive without a lot of work and/or outside help.

Couples often let too many things go unspoken. Either one or both partners wants to avoid conflict and instead of dealing with issues directly he/she holds it in, lets it role off his/her back or just ignores an issue altogether…only to be haunted by it later.

When we don’t speak to the things that upset us, that doesn’t mean the issues are gone. It just means we chose not to speak to it. As a result the issues go underground. After enough issues build up underground, a toxic root takes shape that threatens the very relationship we hoped to save by not speaking. This toxic root is filled with resentment, anger, and despair. The more “avoided conflicts”, the more toxic the root. Not surprisingly, the more toxic the root, the more damaging it is to the relationship.

Continue reading "CORNERSTONE 10: Deal with issues directly and in a timely fashion. Allowing issues to fester destroys relationships." »

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