8 posts from January 2007

January 30, 2007


Many couples seem to be dealing with a third party in their relationships…alcohol. One partner typically comes home from work and makes him/herself a drink to help “wind down” from a stressful day. It’s not uncommon for the person to drink two to three drinks, three to four nights a week. If there’s a party or an event on the weekend, they drink more.

This pattern can, and often does, go on for many months or even years.

Gradually the atmosphere in the home begins to change. The conversations seem to slow down, the interactions begin to center around what needs to get done rather than how each person’s day was, and the energy in the house becomes tenser. In some households, the person who has a few drinks becomes short, impatient, and irritating to be around. The rest of the family distances more.

When I work with couples in this pattern, often one partner is worried about the impact the alcohol is having in their relationship and the other partner is not. Guess who’s worried and who isn’t. You got it… the one not drinking is worried, and the one drinking is often certain their drinking isn’t a problem. The drinking partner will often say the alcohol isn’t impacting the relationship; it’s their partner harping on them about the alcohol that’s impacting the relationship.


January 26, 2007

EXTREME SELF-CARE…leads to extreme relationship care

Cheryl Richardson talks about the importance of extreme self-care in her book, Take Time For Your Life. Extreme self-care is about putting yourself first, getting off the treadmill of life, and putting the oxygen mask on you before placing it on your partner or children.

This concept is frequently foreign to many people. Women often put their relationships with others before their relationship with themselves. Men often put their work and finances before themselves or their relationships. The result is a lot of people running on an unfulfilling treadmill of obligation, stress and fear.

It’s very difficult to have a healthy relationship with others if we don’t have a healthy relationship with ourselves. This is true on so many levels. If I stay in a relationship that is hurtful to me, that is poor self-care. If I do everything in my family, am resentful about it yet set no limits around it-- that is not good self-care...or family care. If I’m trying to do everything for everyone, chances are I will eventually grow tired, snap at the kids, be cold to my husband and be unfulfilled. This again is poor self-care that results in poor relationship care.

The bottom line is: If I don’t take care of me, or treat myself well, then I cannot expect others to…and neither can you. Good relationships start with you and branch out from there. If your relationships are toxic then perhaps it’s time to look at your self-care muscles and begin to strengthen them.

Challenge: Take time to look at how you’re doing with self-care. Are you taking care of all your needs including: health, emotional, spiritual, relationships, fun/leisure. Choose one area to start with and make a commitment to extreme self-care.

January 23, 2007

ARE YOU TRUE TO YOUR WORD OR FULL OF HOT AIR? The importance of follow-through in relationships

I was out the other night and watched two parents repeatedly attempt to set limits for their children. The father would say, “Stop hitting your sister or you’re going to the car.” The mother would say, “If you don’t stop, we’re leaving!”

The parents continued for over thirty minutes to threaten, plead, and beg the children to change their behavior. At one point the father even tried bribery. He said he would give them each $5.00 if they could go the next fifteen minutes without hitting each other. This worked for about a minute, at which point the boy said he didn’t care about the five dollars; he then flicked his sister. The girl said she knew her father wasn’t going to give her the five dollars anyway, and she flicked her brother back. Again the parents threatened to make the children leave if they didn’t stop.

The children didn’t stop, and in fact, didn’t even slow down.

The children did not go to the car, and nor did the family leave.

What struck me about this family was the total lack of follow-through. Both children barely flinched when their parents told them to stop. In fact, at one point, the boy defiantly dared his father to “make” him stop. The father’s response was to roll his eyes in frustration. He knew he wasn’t going to do anything…and so did his children.

I wondered at first why the children didn’t even pause when their parents spoke to them. I had my answer though within minutes--they knew their parents’ words were empty. Heck, I knew, their parents’ words were empty, and I didn’t even know them. It took me three minutes to figure this out. It took the children a milli-second; they had been living this for years.

Now they don’t even think about what is said--they don’t even slow down.

Continue reading "ARE YOU TRUE TO YOUR WORD OR FULL OF HOT AIR? The importance of follow-through in relationships" »

January 18, 2007

“THE NEW RULES OF MARRIAGE” Author Terrence Real

On January 30th, 2007 “The New Rules of Marriage” will be available to the public. It is published through Ballantine Books/Random House. I’ve had the pleasure of reading the pre-published version of this book and found it to be an excellent book for couples and relationships. I strongly recommend you purchase this book as soon as it comes out--you won’t be sorry.

The New Rules of Marriage” is packed with concrete information and skills for couples to learn and try out in their own relationships. It is, in my opinion, a “how to” book for couples. I strongly recommend it for couples on the brink, couples wanting to hone their relational skills, and for couples just starting out.

Couples just starting out can use this book as a guide that will help them avoid many of the pitfalls old (I use that term in jest) married couples fall into. It is also an excellent book for pre-marital counseling programs.

The author, Terry Real, often talks about “full-respect living” both in your actions AND…between your ears. I love that last part. I know of many therapists and relationship coaches who speak to clients about the importance of communicating respectfully with one another with their words, however I haven’t heard too many talk about the importance of thinking respectfully. Subsequently, we not only don’t call someone “stupid” when they trip or make a mistake, but we also don’t think to ourselves “Oh my Gosh, can they be anymore stupid?!”. Imagine that!

Full-respect living is a way of being in the world. It’s about accepting one another’s human-ness without judgment or going “one-up”. It’s about living a life of integrity and having your loved ones, as well as yourself, benefit from that.

Full-respect living is a very spiritual concept that will change the relationships of all who live it.

Challenge: Pay attention and get conscious of all the ways you are not respectful to those around you--either in your head or in your actions.

January 13, 2007


I believe that working on yourself is a key way to work on your relationships. The problem however, is that we seldom see our own issues as clearly as we see our partner’s.

We often think we are so right about our assessments of others, yet for some reason we assume others’ assessments of us are wrong. Isn’t that interesting? What makes us think we have 20/20 vision when it comes to our loved ones, yet their vision regarding us is 20/200? The truth is--it’s not.

If we want to work on ourselves, we need to know what to work on. A great way to figure this out is to listen to what those close to us are saying—about us. Our partners, in particular, are great resources for us in this area--if we’re brave enough to listen.


January 09, 2007



I always loved the song “There must be fifty ways to leave your lover.” It has a great beat, the message is clear, and the examples are very straight forward. I’m therefore going to use this song to get across a message I write about frequently: setting limits.

I’m using one scenario in the hopes that you are able to generalize to any other scenario that is playing out in your own life. The content may be different; however, the process is the same.

There are often, if not always, several different ways to set limits on a behavior you find intolerable. Although you can’t force someone to stop the behavior, you absolutely can make it more uncomfortable for him/her to do the behavior; you also can protect yourself from the impact of a particular behavior by setting limits around it.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
The scenario is:

Your partner likes to drink a lot at parties. Nine times out of ten, he then gets loud, obnoxious, embarrassing and, on occasion, mean. You’ve pleaded, begged, talked to him calmly, talked to him not so calmly, threatened to divorce him, told him you loved him, told him you hate him, and on and on. You have tried everything in the book to get through to him and make him drink more responsibly, yet nothing has worked.

What do you do?


January 07, 2007


The following article was written by a colleague of mine. I hope you find it helpful in your determination to keep up with your resolutions.

Resolving to Resolve
By Kim Leatherdale, ATR, LPC

People use the turning of the year as a time to make changes in their lives; however, less than a quarter of resolutions come to fruition. Here is a list of ten ways you can help your New Year’s resolution succeed.
1. Examine your resolution. Ask yourself who you are doing this for; the answer should be you. Make sure you feel energized and excited by the resolution, not frustrated by the thought of it. If you feel negative about it before you even start, you will never finish. If you have failed multiple times on this goal, how can you change it so it motivates you?
2. Write your goal down. All good planners know writing something down helps it happen. As you write put some thought into it, look at what exactly you want to achieve, and make it specific.
3. Make it a commitment not just a maybe. Put your energy into making it happen. Having a clearly stated resolution helps. For example: “I will have X amount of money in the bank by the end of the year” is more motivating than “I want to save money.”
4. Tell others and check in with them. Find positive supportive people who will ask you how your steps are coming. Plan to meet with them regularly, even via email. Talk with others who are strongly working on their resolutions; help each other.
5. Make a step by step plan including timetables. Once you have a clear goal stated, you can break it into steps, a perfect way to track your progress over the year. In the money example, you divide the total amount into fourths and check your account every three months to see if you have made your quarterly goal.


January 03, 2007


I first heard about New Year’s Themes, rather than resolutions, from the life coaching world. A New Year’s theme may be: "Come alive in 2005" or "Go for more in 2004". All themes don't have to rhyme; they just have to feel right--to you.

A theme will be something you wrap many of your goals around. For example, for your personal life, your theme for 2007 may be health. In this case, you would focus on nutrition, doctor appointments, exercise, yoga, etc., throughout the year. The health theme would help provide a focus for your goals the entire year. Your theme is the container and the goals are the contents.

In general, I recommend coming up with a theme in three areas of your life: relationships, work, and personal. Creating three separate themes further helps with clarity and focus. The health theme may work great in your personal life however, in your work life it may not be as much of an issue for you.

In addition to creating a theme, it’s important that you break all goals into small chunks. One way I do this is to have a specific focus each month. For example, if your theme for relationships this year is connection, you may want to start by reconnecting with old friends in January. In February the goal may be to finish thank you cards. In March, the focus may be cultivating new friends. You continue this throughout the year, breaking down the larger theme of connection into smaller, bite size goals each month. This helps to avoid overwhelm and is a great tool for keeping your New Year’s goals in mind the entire year.


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