8 posts from June 2010

June 28, 2010

Want Change in Your Relationship? What NOT To Do.

Most of us try the same losing moves time and time again in an effort to change our relationships.  Not surprisingly, these moves seldom create the changes we’re looking for.  If there’s something going wrong in your relationship and no matter what you do it seems as if it just won’t change, chances are you’re doing the wrong things.

Below are five things NOT to do when trying to effect lasting change:
1.    Do NOT yell, scream or call your partner names in an effort to try to get through to them.  Yelling and screaming just makes you look like an out-of-control nut.  Your partner will think you’re just blowing up as usual and won’t take your message seriously.  Besides the fact that yelling and screaming is verbally abusive, thereby throwing all credibility out the window.
2.    Do NOT threaten to do something that you -- and everyone around you -- know you’ll never follow through with.  Making empty threats just proves to your partner that you don’t mean what you say.  It weakens your power and will make your life much more difficult when you really do mean what you say.
3.    Do NOT go on and on about what you don’t like, all the sins of the past your partner has done and all the endless ways they’ve hurt you.  The more you talk incessantly about their countless screw-ups, how much pain they’ve caused you, how selfish they are, blah, blah, blah, the more they will tune you out.  You will start to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Waah waawaahh waahh waaah…”

Continue reading "Want Change in Your Relationship? What NOT To Do." »

June 23, 2010

Building A Relationship Reserve: 25 Ways to Cherish Your Partner

Too often couples forget about the importance of the little things.  We can get so wrapped up in our lives that we think things are okay as long as we’re not fighting.  Although I wish this were true—it’s not.  Great relationships require a lot of positives, not just the absence of negatives.

Relationship guru John Gottman talks about the importance of couples having positive relationship reserves to draw from when things are tough.  Building relational reserves is like having a relationship savings account that both partners make deposits into daily.  Think of this relationship account like an emergency fund.  The way couples build up these reserves is by doing loving, cherishing acts.  Think of each compliment, hug, supportive word, etc. as a deposit.  The more loving the act we do, the greater the deposit we make.

When things aren’t going well, we need to know that there’s a good chance they will get better and we’ll survive the struggle.  If couples have minimal positive interactions day to day and often have neutral or negative interactions, there’s no reason to think things will be okay.  Below are 25 ways to be cherishing and build up your relationship reserves.  I call these tender sprinkles.
    •    Greet your partner when you come home by saying hello and asking them how their day was.
    •    Say goodbye, when you leave, with a hug or kiss.
    •    Give a compliment whenever possible.
    •    Listen to their stories as if you care.
    •    Share your stories.
    •    Notice the ways they help and thank them directly.
    •    Help with chores you don’t usually help with.
    •    Smile at your partner as if you’re happy to see them.

Continue reading "Building A Relationship Reserve: 25 Ways to Cherish Your Partner" »

June 17, 2010

Father’s Day: What A Great Dad Does

 Over the years I’ve met, worked with and seen all kinds of dads.  Some dads were great and some left a lot to be desired in the fathering department.  I’ve also seen the effects of great versus not-so-great dads on their young children as well on as their adult children.

This post is to all the great dads out there who are changing lives, family legacies and, if I may be so bold,—our world.  I have nothing but enormous gratitude for men who dare to be in the world differently from many men and fathers of old.  Hats off to your courage to say no to tradition, your willingness to be more than just a provider and your determination to make your children a priority in your words and actions.  

What a great dad does:
1.    A great father plays with his children, listens to his children and laughs with his children.  He builds them up rather than tears them down.  He tries to pull out the greatness in them instead of squashing them by highlighting their human flaws.  When he makes these efforts imperfectly, he has the strength and courage to apologize and repair.
2.    A great dad shows his children in his words and actions that they are important to him and to this world.  He gives them his undivided attention when they need it, affection when they could use it and love day in and day out.  
3.    A great dad is responsible out in the world, at home and with his children.  He neither works endlessly nor skirts his responsibilities.  He leads by example and doesn’t ask anymore from his family than he does of himself.  

Continue reading "Father’s Day: What A Great Dad Does" »

June 14, 2010

The Silent Treatment: How to Respond to Your Partner When They Refuse to Speak

There are few things more frustrating than the silent treatment.  There are also few things more damaging to relationships.  Many people believe that refusing to speak is better than saying something they’ll later regret.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Refusing to speak to someone is emotionally abusive and removes all possibility of solution. 

When it comes to the silent treatment, there is nothing colder than the cold shoulder.  Tuning someone out is like telling them they’re too insignificant to warrant your time or attention.  It’s toxic and it’s off.

For those people who are being ignored, here are some tips on how to handle the silent treatment:
1.    Speak about the silence directly and do NOT return silence with silence.  Calmly tell your partner that you’re aware they are angry and you’d be happy to talk about it should they choose to.  Let them know you can’t change anything if you don’t know what it is that’s bothering them. 
2.    After you speak to them, go about your life and do not try to get them to speak.  They are adults and responsible for speaking up if they want something.  Do not get caught up in the game.  Realize their silence is not about you.  Don’t allow it to get you down or lead to you feeling guilty.  Also, do not lose your temper in response.  Stay centered and calm!

Continue reading "The Silent Treatment: How to Respond to Your Partner When They Refuse to Speak" »

June 09, 2010

You Matter

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I read this from Seth Godin's blog and had to share it with my readers.  Enjoy his words of wisdom.

When you love the work you do and the people you do it with, you matter.

When you are so gracious and generous and aware that you think of other people before yourself, you matter.

When you leave the world a better place than you found it, you matter.

When you continue to raise the bar on what you do and how you do it, you matter.

When you teach and forgive and teach more before you rush to judge and demean, you matter.

When you touch the people in your life through your actions (and your words), you matter.

When kids grow up wanting to be you, you matter.

When you see the world as it is, but insist on making it more like it could be, you matter.

When you inspire a Nobel prize winner or a slum dweller, you matter.

When the room brightens when you walk in, you matter.

And when the legacy you leave behind lasts for hours, days or a lifetime, you matter.

CHALLENGE:  Read this daily for the next fourteen days and commit to putting these words into action.  At the end of the fourteen days note any shifts in you or in others as a result of you.  Start the ripple...

June 08, 2010

Want That Spark? It’s The Little Things That Create The Biggest Shifts

Many couples complain that they’ve lost the spark.  They end up talking about what they’re not feeling, analyzing what they’re not feeling and questioning whether they will ever feel “it” again—at least feel “it” with one another. 

In my experience, we need to stop complaining about what we’re not feeling and start taking steps to feel it again.  There will always be periods in any long-term marriage/relationship when the spark will feel like it’s in severe hiding.  Not feeling the spark in a relationship is not the problem, however; not working to get the spark back is a problem.

Stop acting like it’s a huge issue and instead see it as a natural part of any long-term relationship.  The sexual intensity, exciting energy or that all-elusive “spark” naturally ebbs and flows.  When you feel it losing steam—pay attention; when you feel it flowing—pay attention.

Getting the spark back starts with the little things:
•    Speak kindly to one another in words and tone.
•    Incorporate tender touches into your daily interactions.  Rub your hand across the small of your partner’s back, hold hands, snuggle on the couch, greet them with a five second kiss vs. a peck, cuddle in bed.  Make non-sexual, affectionate contact.

Continue reading "Want That Spark? It’s The Little Things That Create The Biggest Shifts" »

June 03, 2010

Al and Tipper Gore Separate: Are Any Marriages Safe From Divorce/Separation?


Many blogs, newspapers, radio shows, etc. are talking about how surprised they were to hear about the breakup of the Gores’ marriage.  I’m shocked that so many people are shocked.

The one thing I know about relationships is that no relationship is safe from divorce.  The seemingly most amazing couples in the world are not safe.  I don’t say this to be cynical, I say it because people need to know.  As soon as people begin to think divorce will never happen to them, they’re in trouble.  Divorce can happen to anyone.

Sometimes couples struggle their entire relationship, eventually divorcing after years of misery.  Some couples have a seemingly wonderful relationship for many years and get rocked by an affair that ends the marriage.  Other couples are great for many years and then begin to grow distant as a result of life’s many stressors.  After a few years of growing apart, one or both partners wake up and realize they’re not happy anymore.  There are countless scenarios that happen to good couples, bad couples and mediocre couples.  The question isn’t who’s safe, but rather what steps can we take to safeguard our marriages as best we can—especially the better marriages.

The does and don’ts of safeguarding your marriage:
The Does:
1.    Always put your relationship first…before the children, work and friends.  You’ve heard this a thousand times, I know, however the bottom line is that you must make your relationship a priority.  Have date night, spend time talking each night (with no distractions), hold hands, give hugs/kisses, etc.  You make your relationship a priority by focusing time, energy and attention on it.

Continue reading "Al and Tipper Gore Separate: Are Any Marriages Safe From Divorce/Separation?" »

June 01, 2010

Five Characteristics That Make A Great Partner

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Five Characteristics That Make A Great Partner
After working with hundreds of couples over the years, I’ve noticed key characteristics that are, almost without exception, present in healthy relationships.  These characteristics are prevalent in both partners in any healthy partnership.  Read over this list and rate yourself on each of these traits.  If you don’t pass the test—don’t even bother looking at your partner’s grade in these areas...until you get your own grade up. 

The five characteristics of a great partner are:
1.    Trustworthy:  All great partners are trustworthy partners.  They say what they mean, are where they say they’re going to be and act as though their significant other (SO) and family is their first priority.  Trustworthy partners could care less if their SO looks at their e-mail or cell phone because they have nothing to hide.  They don’t hide the truth, tell half-truths or omit details in order to avoid a conflict.  They share information authentically, and deal relationally with any resulting feelings their SO may have.
2.    Complimentary:  Great partners freely give compliments to their loved one.  They tell them how nice they look, why they fell in love with them, what they love about them, how they missed them, etc.  They’re not afraid to say, “I love you” and, in fact, say it often.  They acknowledge their SO’s efforts and show appreciation for their hard work around the house, at work or with the kids.  The bottom line is they take time to notice their partner’s actions and make sure they speak their appreciation.
3.    Supportive:  Great partners have their loved one’s back.  They want their significant other to be happy and support them in anyway they can.  If their other half is upset about work, a great partner listens with empathy.  If their SO hates their job and wants to get a new one, a great partner helps them brainstorm ways to make that happen.  They don’t slam down the gauntlet and make their loved one stay someplace where they’re miserable.  A great partner doesn’t laugh when they hear for the 100th time their loved one plans to start exercising; instead they ask how they can help.
4.    Inter-dependent: A great partner is neither too dependent nor too independent.  They don’t need their significant other, they want them.  They do for themselves what they can and they ask for help on the things they can’t.  They don’t try to be Superman or Wonder Woman and do it all.  They know that by sharing the load, they are building intimacy, trust and friendship.  A great partner is a great team player.  They know healthy relationships are about incorporating a healthy sense of we versus an overdose of me.
5.    Intimate: Intimacy means “into-me-you-see;” great partners know how to emotionally share themselves.  They also know how to listen when their SO is sharing as well.  A great partner wants to know more about their SO and wants their SO to know more about them.  They share because they want to, not because they have to.  They ask about their loved one’s day, feelings, dreams, etc., because they want to know what’s going on in their SO’s life.

These are just a few characteristics that set great partners apart from not-so-great partners.  If you happen to be with a great partner—hold on to them, they are not very common.  If you are a great partner—nice job! 

If you’re not a great partner, start doing the work necessary to become one.

CHALLENGE:  Read over the five characteristics above and determine how well you rate on the partner scale.  Choose one area you’re weak in and focus on that area for the next month.  See what you notice as a result.  Good-luck...and let us know how it goes!

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