Monthly Archives: April 2020

Date Night Ideas For Married Couples

Date night is always a good idea. With the increased “ground hog day” feeling many of us are having during Coronavirus (Covid-19) times, creating fun, romantic, intimate date nights can be a welcome break from the humdrum. But we’re probably not going out, so we need home-based date night ideas.

For date nights, we recommend one of you be accountable for the night. That just makes it more likely to happen in the first place. Plus, it might help come up with new ideas if you take turns being “on point” for the night.

In this post, we’ll share many ideas with you, some of which are classics (don’t scoff at the tried and true classics – they still work:-) and some added twists of intimacy and pleasure.

#1 Candle light dinner

If you’re a cohabiting couple you can do a good old-fashioned candlelight dinner. If you don’t live in the same place, you might have to do candle light Zoom dinner. We’ve done that with other coupled friends; it totally works. We got out the candles, the fancy square plates and an epic Italian dinner.

More importantly, get rid of the distractions. No phones or computers so you can just focus in on each other. Make sure you take time to make eye contact and share appreciations about your partner. Tell them what you love and what you appreciate that he or she did today.

These days, we got a gazillion things on our respective plates, and our daily conversations often default to being all about logistics and who’s doing what when. Simply sitting down, looking in each other’s eyes and telling your partner what you love about them is a good way to start a date night.

We also recommend you bring what we call intimacy questions (see this video post for more). That way, you’re prepared to spark conversations deeper than the usual blah-blah. Stories from when you were first dating and fell in love are always great to foster a sweet and loving mood.

In our marriage it’s now the stuff of legend how we met at a Massachusetts retreat center in the woods, in the dead of winter. As we tell the story, we were slow-motion running towards each other in big parkas, we had slow-motion snowball fights and made the perfect snowman. Just thinking about it puts a grin on our faces, and the story gets better every time.

#2 Invent and play new games.

Ever hear the saying, “Couples who play together, stay together”? We didn’t make that up, but certainly couples who play together … play together! They just have more fun!

We’ve been playing new games a few times here in quarantine times. Can’t take credit for inventing them, other good people on YouTube did that. In one game, we set up a bowling alley on our or deck outside where the pins were kitchen towel rolls and we used a soccer ball as a bowling ball. Super fun. That’s now going to be a memory forever because it was different.

In general, not just in terms of games to play, anything you come up with that’s different creates a spark of life and counteracts the “ground hog day” syndrome.

This one we included our daughter in: We found a new line dance on YouTube an all learned it together. Most of the time we looked uncoordinated and like total amateurs, which made it all the more fun to laugh at. And it’s always a viable date night idea to simply put music on and dance, period.

#3. Make a picnic somewhere different.

These days you might not be going out so make a picnic in your living room or on the floor next to your bed in your bedroom or out in your yard. Grab a bottle of wine or whatever your favorite drinks are and some good food and sit in a new place to enjoy it.

#4 Trust walk.

A really fun, and potentially a bit edgy, depending on your relationship, is to set up a trust walk (or other trust exercises). One of you is blindfolded and the other person takes you for a walk around your house or yard. This is a great way of heightening your senses. As you’re leading your blindfolded partner around, you want to make sure you take care of them and you don’t betray their trust and play tricks on them when their eyes are closed. You could lead them to go smell a flower or feel the grass beneath their feet or listen to a water fountain or pay attention to birds chirping.

For some couples, this can be a bit edgy and scary. So be gentle with each other and relish your heightened senses. See how much you trust yourself to lead or be led.

#5 Out of your head, into your body.

A lot of us spend a lot of time in our heads, taking care of work, business and chores. Conversely, we don’t spend a lot of time really being “in our bodies”, i.e. slowing down to notice our physical body and sensations. We’ve personally had some of the best conversations when we are sitting in our hot tub or we’re taking a bath together, which are prime opportunities for connecting to our bodies. An added benefit to being in water is you can’t be on your phones which helps a lot when you’re trying to get out of your head and into heartfelt connection.

As you sit and soak in warm water, bring in some of the ideas from #1 above (intimacy questions, eye contact). If sustained eye contact makes you really uncomfortable, you’ll know for sure you need to do it some more.

#6 Exchange massages.

Offer each other foot rubs, back rubs, shoulder rubs, or whole body massages. Put on some sensual music, dim the lights and enjoy each other’s touch.

#7 Pleasure sessions.

This is taking the sensuality up a notch from massages. A pleasure session is a set amount of time where you take turns giving pleasure and receiving pleasure. If I’m the one the one giving the pleasure session to Sonika I’ll touch her in various ways, and she reports back how it feels and asks for other types of touch. You can do this as foreplay to sex, but you can also do it fully dressed, sitting in a comfy chair.

The trick is to offer sensual, pleasurable touch. For the receiver, it’s about receiving and enjoying the touch, but also about communicating in a helpful manner how it feels to you and what you’d like next. Pleasure sessions are actually designed to educate couples about their partner’s pleasure and to offer practice in communicating what you want around sex and pleasure.

As the receiver, when your partner is gently stroking your arm, you might say, “Mmmmh, that feels really nice. Now I’d like you to try and increase the pressure a bit”. You practice asking for what you want in a soothing, non-blaming way. (Anyone ever had trouble asking directly for what you wanted in sex and pleasure?)

#8 Sex in a different place, different time.

If you usually have sex in bed only at night, for the next date night (which you might change to a whole-day date or a morning date, just to change it up), try making love in a different place and/or at a different time a day and/or try a different position. For example, we’ve at times made a little bed using pads or camping gear in our living room, so we had a little love nest just for the evening. Or in the summer, set up a tent outside for some outdoor love making.

When it comes to sex, it’s a common tendency for couples to find one thing that works and follow that routine over and over again. Nothing wrong with using what works, but if that’s all you ever do, your enjoyment level is bound to decrease over time and you might even get bored and lose your desire completely.

#9 Watch educational sex videos.

We’ve gotten so many good ideas for sex, love making, and (self) pleasuring by watching educational sex videos. It’s ok if you don’t have an infinite arsenal of sensational “moves”. Watching sex videos together can equip you with great moves for the future as well as turn you both on right now. Learn and turn on at the same time … what could be better for a date night!?

Remember, your next date night doesn’t have to be a big fancy production. Try and create something that breaks the habit, because the very breaking of a pattern or a habit in and of itself frees up energy and it brings us closer together. Having fun together keeps us connected and alive.

We wish you fun and intimacy with your next date night!

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Date Night Ideas For Married Couples

How To Remain On The Same Team During The Coronavirus Times

How do you do remain on the same team during these stressful corona virus times? And do you communicate with your partner when you disagree?

When you’re in conflict and you’re disagreeing, it seems like you’re on opposite sides. It’s tempting to think that if you would only do it my way, we’d be fine. My way is better, right?

When I hear that from my partner, I’m thinking she’s just telling me I’m wrong and that I’m not doing it right and that my way isn’t a good enough. In the back of my mind, I’m thinking she’s doing it on purpose and she’s out to get. Now I really feel like we’re adversaries on opposite teams.

Give The Benefit Of The Doubt

Our first tip is to give your partner the benefit of the doubt. What we mean by that is that anything you want has a positive intent under it. There’s something good you’re going for and the same is true for your partner. Whatever it is your partner is wanting there’s something positive underneath it that they are going for which it’s just as important as what you’re going for.

So if your partner says your family shouldn’t leave the house, not even for taking a walk in the park, but you think it’s totally fine under these circumstances to take a walk in the park, give your partner the benefit of the doubt and look for what’s the positive intention she or he are trying to get to by saying we shouldn’t go out and take a walk in the park.

Even if you didn’t ask directly – which would be a good idea – you can what their positive intention might be. It might be wanting to make sure everyone and that you don’t contribute to the spread of the virus. That’s a good intention. You’d probably agree with keeping everyone safe and not spreading the virus. Your intentions are aligned even if you go about accomplishing the intention differently.

Expand To Include

This is a central notion in the LoveWorks Solution that we teach. I expand my understanding and mindset to be big enough to include yours. In disagreements, we often think only one of us is right or can be right, but in truth, it’s possible that we’re both right. Expand to include the idea that your partner has a good idea, as do you. It’s about being a big enough person to hold more than one viewpoint without getting combative.

We live by the idea that your concerns matter as much as mine, and my concerns are not more important than yours and yours are not more important than mine. Both of our desires are valid and we strive to make sure we both get what we want. Because you say we shouldn’t go to the park and I say we could, we now start looking for ways to take care of both those desires. On the surface they look mutually exclusive, but as you saw above, the positive intentions underneath are not mutually exclusive.

Speak In “We”

Speaking in “we” means finding the place where there’s overlap and expand to include both our viewpoints and desires. If we think of ourselves as a unit, or a union, it’s as she’s the voice for we should go to the park, and I’m the voice for we should go to the park.

Sonika was just coaching a man for whom this was the exact issue of contention between him and his wife. She wanted to go to the park to get some exercise and he really wanted her to stay home. They live in a tiny apartment in a big city in India. He got scared every time she went out, but as he began to expand to include her needs and concerns and begin to see it from her point of view as well as his own, and began to speak in terms of “we”, he actually came up with a couple of different ideas.

One ideas was for how they could exercise together in the apartment with dancing or some kind of activity that created connection between them. He also came up with the idea to go out with her on a walk so he could reassure himself that she was being safe when she was out there. This too created connection for them in their relationship. He was basically saying, “WE want to be and and WE want exercise” … how do we do both? Which is much better than arguing about who’s right.

Give First, Give Fast

When relationships break down, in pretty much any form, one or both partners have stopped giving. In the early phase of your relationship, when you were still madly in love, remember how much attention, praise, time, touch, love, hugs, and sex you gave each other? Now think about a stressful time in your relationship – perhaps now? – and see if you are giving less? Probably so. One of the most effective ways to restore love, and to get back to being a team, is to pick up giving. We say whoever gives first, wins. Don’t wait for the other person to start.

When we’re in disagreement, we tend to focus on what we can get, and when we both focus on what we can get it creates a tug-of-war. Instead, explore what you are willing to give. Like the man above. He really did want to give his wife the experience of walking in the park and getting to exercise. She really did want to give him an experience of them being safe. They came up with ways to give that to each other.

Create Win-Win Solutions

In order to find solutions that work for both of you, you need to slow down the process. If you just plow ahead with your practiced behaviors and patterns, you’ll like just repeating whatever you’ve done in the past. We are firm believers – and we demonstrate this with our couple clients over and over again – in your ability to come up with win-win solutions. The four tips above are part of the foundation for successful “trouble shooting” and resolution. Even in these mad corona times, where’s there so much extra stuff to disagree about, you can find solutions that work for “We”, not just for “me or you”.

Remember, the only way you get a real win-win is if you’re satisfied and your partner is satisfied. If you get your way, whether by persuasive reasoning, pouting, guilt tripping or good old-fashioned stubbornness, but your partner is happy, what do you have? You have something you want and an unhappy partner. That’s not really what you want, right?

If you want to improve your ability to get on the same page, here’s a great opportunity to practice:

We created a 90-min mini-workshop for couples to deal with stress and disagreements, How To Be More Understanding During Disagreements. In this workshop-from-your-couch, we are going to help you:

* Find understanding

* Relieve tension and stress

* Discover common ground between each other

* Get on the same page

* Learn techniques to de-escalate during conflict

* Get back to connection

Register here: https://loveworksforyou.com/how-to-be-more-understanding-during-disagreements

We have helped thousands of couples navigate crisis and stressful times, and we’d be honored to help you, too.

 

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on How To Remain On The Same Team During The Coronavirus Times

Four Tips To Make Long Distance Relationships Deeply Intimate

During Coronavirus (Covid-19), many more relationships have turned into long distance relationships. If you’re not sheltering in place with your partner, you could be living in the same town, but still effectively have a long distance relationship.

We have very personal experience with long distance relationship because when we first met, Christian was living in Denmark and Sonika was living in California. For approximately two and a half years, 9 hours time difference, 8500 miles and a 11 hour flight separated us.

We were challenged like a lot of people are being challenged nowadays. How do you keep your intimate connection alive when you can’t see each other, touch each other, kiss each other, talk whenever, sit down for a meal together, or make love together?

Admittedly, it was sometimes really hard not being able to see each other in person. But the upside of that issue is that while we were apart we got really good at staying in touch and still building our relationship, and this was even before the time of FaceTime. We only had landlines and email, so there’s definitely hope for you

We had to get creative about how we connected and kept our relationship progressing. In this article, we’ll four ideas for what you can do to keep building a nourishing intimate relationship with your partner even when you’re not together.

#1 Intimate Communication

The point here is to “drop down”, to take your communication to deeper levels that merely checking in about what you did during the day (although that’s wonderful, too). Share how much you miss each other, share about the pain of being separated, and about the love you have for each other. Share what you’re afraid of, what you’re worried about, as well as what you dream of and what you’re accomplishing in life. Go deeper than the logistics of your daily life.

Here’s a tip that might sounds a little counterintuitive when we’re talking about intimate communication. These days, we might default to communicating through Skype or FaceTime so we can see each other. Try once in a while to turn the video off, and only listen. The vast majority of the stimulation your brain takes in comes through your visual sense. So when you remove visual input, you enhance your sense of hearing and your imagination. Try using earphones, so your get your partner’s voice directly into your ear. This creates a soothing, intimate, sensual sensation. If you close your eyes while you listen to your partner’s voice and imagine their touch, it’s as if he or she is right there with you.

#2 Touch Points

This is a great tip for any relationship, but it’s even more crucial for long distance relationships. You want to create touch points throughout the day, throughout the week as an ongoing practice. With today’s technology, it’s pretty easy to create a touch point. A touch point can be a simple as a text or WhatsApp message that says, “Hey baby, I’m thinking about you” or “Good morning”. If you’re in different time zones like we were, you can make sure your beloved wakes up to a message.

There are any number of ways that we can let the other person know we’re thinking about them. Send images, videos, songs, shared social media posts. When you’re in a physical relationship, think about how many times you brush up against each other, give each a kiss, sit down next each other. When you live together, there are a lot of touch points built into your day (although many live-in couples forget to make touch points too, as they begin to take their love for granted). When you’re living apart, touch points are the day-to-day life blood of your long distance intimacy.

#3 Moment by Moment Relationship.

When you’re in a long distance relationship, you most likely have no idea what your future looks like. This was true for us too. Sonika wasn’t’ leaving her kids in California, and Christian had no intention of leaving his home country and family in Denmark.

With this built-in uncertainty, you might find yourself using a lot of mental bandwidth with questions like, “Are we ever going to be together?” “Where are we going to live?” “What’s going to happen?” “Am I wasting my time on this relationship?” “How am I going to make a living if I move to be together with him/her?”

It’s natural to want to answer those questions and they can be an important part of your discussions about the future. But when you start to obsess about them, it totally takes you out of the moment and makes it impossible to enjoy the intimacy you do share.

We find it much better to practice moment-by-moment relationship, and trust that if you keep liking each other and you keep wanting to move forward, these questions will be answered in due time.

For example, if we had tried to answer the question of where to live in the first six months of our long distance relationship, the answer would have been, “that’s not happening, we might as well give up now”. So we practiced moment-by-moment relationship, and did our very best to grow our relationship now, and now, and now. The only future decisions we made were if we wanted to see each other one more time, and how to make that one time happen.

So when you find the future-questions crowding your mental space, let yourself enjoy the intimacy you do share, relish the times you do see each other, and then share your thoughts with your partner (back to #1 above).

#4: Get Creative

Because there’s so much you can’t do in a long distance relationship, you definitely have to get creative. Here are some of our ideas for how to do that. W

Write each other a love letter that serves to remind you both of your love for each other, your commitment, and your connection. Especially during times you’re feeling really insecure because you haven’t seen each other for a while, or if you’re starting to have doubts or fears creep in, then you read pull out your partner’s love letter to re-anchor you back into what you know. It’s like go-to love letter you can pull out again and again. And you can of course also write each other more than one love letter, so you’ll have a sampling:-)

Other ideas:

  • Set up coffee or tea dates over zoom or Skype.
  • Make meals together. Set the table with candles and the device you use for Zoom, and have candle light dinner together.
  • Listen to the same song together before bed.
  • Watch the same together and keep a Zoom line open so you can laugh or cry at the same moments in the movie.
  • Synchronize your breathing. This is a great way to slow down, de-stress, and get into quick connection. Just sit quietly for a few minutes while you breathe in sync.
  • Read a book together and share about it as you go along.
  • Have virtual sex and love making. Make sure you’re using secure lines, obviously. Or do what we did before Zoom … just a phone line, your partner’s voice, your own hands, and your vivid imagination.
  • Cook together. Come up with a new recipe you want to try and both of you cook it in your respective places
  • Find a song that you can both sing with each other, like long distance karaoke session over FaceTime

These are just some ideas we put under the heading of getting creative. The practices we’ve shared with you here is to support you to really make the most out of this time. Long distance relationship is challenging, but it’s also a unique opportunity to develop your relationship. We got really good at it, and still do this day, when we hear each other’s voices on the phone, we both have a surge of sweetness from the days when we connected by phone. Because we were apart for so long we are still so grateful that we get to live together and sleep in the same bed.

And if you want to take it to the next level, here’s an opportunity for you:

We created a 90-min mini-workshop for couples to deal with stress and disagreements, How To Be More Understanding During Disagreements.

In this workshop-from-your-couch, we are going to help you:

* Find understanding

* Relieve tension and stress

* Discover common ground between each other

* Get on the same page

* Learn techniques to de-escalate during conflict

* Get back to connection

Register here: https://loveworksforyou.com/how-to-be-more-understanding-during-disagreements

We have helped thousands of couples navigate crisis and stressful times, and we’d be honored to help you, too.

 

 

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Four Tips To Make Long Distance Relationships Deeply Intimate

Get To Know Your Spouse Again

Questions to ask your partner to get to know her or him better.

When you’ve been together with someone for a while, maybe even several decades, it’s easy to lose your sense of curiosity and assume you know everything there is to know about that person. You might even begin to take your spouse or partner for granted, and when that happens, boredom and emotional flat-lining sets in.

One of the best ways to get to know your partner again is to ask them certain questions, in a mood of wonder and curiosity.

We share three categories of questions you can ask to get to know your spouse or partner better, and for each category, we give examples of specific questions you can use.

The three categories are:

  1. Deepening questions
  2. Intimacy questions
  3. Understanding questions (or curiosity questions).

#1: Deepening Questions

The first category of question we call a deepening question. We like to apply deepening questions as repeated questions. A repeated question is a question you ask over and over again of your partner for a few minutes.

We just did this with a group of more than 60 couples we brought together on a virtual mini workshop, and this pretty much never fails to produce deepening intimacy and trust in a relationship, in the span of a few minutes.

We always recommend you stay in eye contact as you ask and answer these questions.

Questions we ask as repeated questions could be …

  • What are you afraid of? (then say, “Thanks”, and ask again, “What are you afraid of?”)
  • What are you not saying?
  • Where do you hold back?
  • Where do you (not) trust yourself?
  • What’s great about you?
  • What are you proud of?

By asking the same question repeatedly, the person answering gets to drop down deeper and deeper into the real fears and limitations that don’t usually come to the surface in regular conversation. Same is true for qualities that are amazing and powerful, when you ask a repeated question like, “What are you proud of?” By asking repeatedly, the person answering can’t just brush it off and say, “Oh, stuff I’ve done”, they actually have to look again, and again.

We still use this technique to keep getting to know deeper and deeper layers of each other and of ourselves because it makes our relationship really rich.

#2: Intimacy Questions

The second category of questions we call intimacy questions. These are questions you explore in a mood of wonder, as if you’re fascinated about it even if you’re talking about yourself. These questions are for you to discover yourself as well as your partner; questions to get to know your partner better and deeper.

Some examples of intimacy questions:

  • Tell me something I don’t know about you. We use this question (well, technically, it’s a prompt) a lot because it’s a great anti-dote to the erroneous notion that we already know everything about each other. We’ve been together for 15 years and we still surprise each other with the answers to this question.
  • Who was your best teacher and why?
  • Who influenced you the most in your life and why?
  • If you weren’t limited and you could do anything in your life what would you do? This is a great question to elicit another side of ourselves we often don’t allow out in the sunlight, namely our biggest dreams and aspirations.
  • How can I best show you that I love you? This is a short-cut question to discover your partner’s love strategy or love language. Plus, whatever your partner answers is useful information for you because it tells you exactly how you make your partner happy. That makes you a more successful partner and lover!

You can download a free ebook with 100 Intimacy Questions here …

#3: Understanding Questions (Curiosity Questions)

The third category of questions to ask your partner we call understanding questions, or curiosity questions.

These questions are especially effective when you notice something in your partner, perhaps a behavior or a certain pattern of behaviors, that you don’t understand.

For instance, Sonika asked me recently, “How do you stick to your routines so well?” Sometimes that’s not so easy for her to do, so she doesn’t really understand how I do it. Until she asks, that is.

When you see behaviors in your partner or spouse that you don’t understand it’s easy to get triggered or mad or start complaining or criticizing about it. I see Sonika putting a lot of effort and time into making our home beautiful, perhaps by putting little decorations out for the seasons. This is something I just would not do on my own. Since I don’t really understand this behavior, I could get triggered and start into her with stuff like, “Do we really need another piece of decoration? Why don’t we just clean it off and free up some space!? You’re always wasting your time with that stuff!”

Of course, all that would produce is more negativity and arguments, and it will make her feel like there’s something wrong with her.

Can you see examples of this from your own relationship? Where you get irritated by your partner’s quirks or behaviors, and snippy arguments ensue?

Instead, I choose to be curious about her behavior and ask understanding questions. I assume this must be doing something positive for her, otherwise she probably wouldn’t be doing it.

So I ask. “Tell me more about the decorations. What do you like about putting them up? What does that do for you?”

Sonika might ask me, “Why do you love to cook food so much? What does that do for you?”

It’s a topic for another article, but one of the central tenets of the LoveWorks Solution is a deep truth about human behavior: No matter what we do, we’re trying to accomplish something positive. There is always a positive intent behind any action.

Because we know this, it’s a lot easier to not get irritated, or condemn the behaviors we don’t understand. We still might not understand it, so we ask understanding questions.

Bottom line, never assume you know everything there is to know about your spouse or partner, or yourself. By asking the right kinds of questions, you can get to know your partner better and better, which keeps your relationship fresh, alive, and satisfyingly intimate.

And here’s another great option to get to know each other better …

Because of the restrictions and challenges of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) there is so much extra stress, fear, and tension in our relationships these days. This stress takes a real toll on us as individuals and on our marriage or relationship, when really, we need to be connected and in sync more than ever.

We created a 90-min mini-workshop for couples to deal with stress and disagreements, How To Be More Understanding During Disagreements. In this workshop-from-your-couch, we are going to help you:

  • Find understanding
  • Relieve tension and stress
  • Discover common ground between each other
  • Get on the same page
  • Learn techniques to de-escalate during conflict
  • Get back to connection

Register here: https://loveworksforyou.com/how-to-be-more-understanding-during-disagreements/

 

 

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Get To Know Your Spouse Again

How to deal with financial stress in a relationship during Coronavirus (Covid-19)

We know there’s a lot of financial stress in a relationship in a time like this when income and job security are threatened. People tell us the financial stress is killing their relationship and are asking us for advice on how to deal with the financial stress and anxiety.

Even under “normal” circumstances (remember when there was no Corona virus? :-), financial stress in a relationship is a big source of upset and breakdowns. Finances are often quoted as the #1 or #2 reason for divorce (the other top one being infidelity). So it’s no surprise that fear and tension is spiking in the quarantined households of the world.

How you deal with financial is an expansive topic but we have four practical ideas we want to share with you.

1. Create a declaration that keeps you centered.

In the last worldwide financial crash in 2008, we lost almost everything. Our house actually went to foreclosure, we lost investments and retirements, and we were scared! We felt our stress and fear levels rising and we knew we needed to do something proactively or we would be going down the tubes. We were committed to stay out of the fear spiral, keep our heads clear and work together to make it through the crisis.

So we wrote up a declaration, like our own We’re Not Going Down Manifesto, and we read it out loud to each other whenever we needed a boost to get back to a centered and heart-connected place.

Here’s an excerpt from our declaration:

“We are resolute in our decision to do whatever it takes to realize our goals, disregarding of our changing moods and thoughts and to act consistent with that decision we proactively maintain a positive attitude and optimistic outlook by choosing beliefs and actions consistent with our vision. We commit to daily line up with our desires to risk and expand into our full self-expression, to take massive action and give thanks for our many blessings.

Because who are we to think that we are not enough for this challenge! Who are we to doubt God’s magnificent capacity to create through us? We daily express our gratitude for everything we have and we commit ourselves to rise to our fullest potential as a gift to others as well as ourselves. We act from the faith that all is well; that we’re going to be fine and everything we want is on its way to us.”

This manifesto literally made all the difference. It kept us out of panic and fear. And we absolutely turned our financial situation around. We encourage you to write up something like this, something that keeps you focused on where you want to go.

2. Make a 3-category list of your expenses.

Make a cup of coffee, sit down at the kitchen table and make a list of your expenses split into three categories: 1) Necessities, 2) Nice-to-haves, and 3) Luxury.

Necessities are expenses like food, electricity, housing, medical. Nice-to-haves might be your Netflix subscription or money you spend on take-out food. Nice to have, for sure, but you’d probably survive if you didn’t have it for a while. Luxuries could be buying that extra pair of snazzy boots or a new hot tub.

Splitting your expenses into these categories gets you clarity if and when you need to cut expenses, and even if you don’t need to cut expenses, simply knowing that you could cut 20% or 30% of your expenses will help you decrease your stress level and sleep better at night. Which in turn makes you a much more agreeable, loving, and fun partner to be around.

3. Explore how to get more money.

Now that you’re sitting at the kitchen table with your coffee anyways, the third tip to help you alleviate financial stress in your relationship is explore how to make more money and financial resources available to you.

As we mentioned, we’ve been through this ourselves and we’ve helped couples get creative in this domain.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Reduce your expenses (see #2 above as well). I was talking to a guy who can’t go to Starbucks due to shelter-in-place, and he’s realizing that he’s saving a lot of money by making his coffee at home. Great example of a nice-to-have expense.
  2. Find lines of credit. In the current low-interest environment, maybe you can find 0% credit cards or perhaps you have a local money institute who offers low-interest loans or lines of credit. Hopefully you won’t have to use it, but simply knowing you could use that resource if you had to, will help your sense of ease and security.
  3. Pull out money from a savings account, investment account, or retirement account. If you’ve been saving money, this could be the exact emergency you’ve been saving for. There are regulatory changes happening that might allow you take money out of retirement without penalties (but always check with your tax professional).
  4. Ask for loans or gifts from people who care about you. In a crisis like this, fortunately there are still many people who are doing wonderfully financially, and also many people who are looking for where they can give and contribute and you might be just such a person that somebody would love to help out. Short on rent for the month? Ask somebody if they’d be willing to support you by giving you a contribution.
  5. Defer payments. I talked to a friend who said he deferred almost all his monthly payments. Today, some banks will allow you to defer your mortgage payments, and my friend even managed to defer his insurance and some of his utility payments.
  6. Sell stuff. Maybe you don’t really need that fancy kitchen gadget, or the second mountain bike in your garage? Perhaps someone else could really use those items? Today, you can sell and ship stuff without ever leaving your house.

Remember, all these practical steps are meant to not only help your financial situation, but just as importantly, to keep your fear and stress as low as possible. Any financial stress that rises in you is basically survival fear, which tends to make anyone pretty tense. So any action you take that supports you to let go of fear and connect with trust, confidence, and ease is a good action.

Additionally, having financial options gets you out of the detrimental “victim mentality” which sucks the power of out the best of us.

4. Decide which action you CAN take and take it.

Of all the options you discovered by doing the steps above, what action can you take? Decide, then take the action. And once you’ve taken the action, give yourself or each other a giant high five 🙌🏽

 

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on How to deal with financial stress in a relationship during Coronavirus (Covid-19)

How To Survive Working From Home With Your Spouse

In today’s coronavirus (Covid-19) environment, many of us are stuck working from with your spouse or partner, perhaps children, too. Sometimes that’s a blessing and a luxury we’ve been dreaming of, but other times, it’s tremendously stressful and you might want to scream at your spouse.

We’ll share 5 tips for how to survive working from home with your spouse, maybe even have a good time:-)

First, we’ll just acknowledge that’s a genuine challenge when you have two people working and living in the same house, perhaps even with a bunch of kids in the house.

#1 Compartmentalize your workspaces.

Compartmentalize your workspaces, so you know who’s working where and when. We’ve seen some good examples with couples we’ve coached. One couple that have kids at home and both work full time, came up with him being on kid duty in the from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM, then he’d go to work in his “garage office” while she took over the kid duties in the house till 2:00PM.

If you have a very small space you might need to use dividers or curtains or to create some private work space.

A man we coached worked it out with his wife, so they agreed that when he was on his work time, they’d literally pretend like he wasn’t at home. If she “accidentally” tried to talk to him during that time, he’d say, “Remember, I’m not here”. It took them a little bit to get used to that, but they’re now working harmoniously together.

#2: Create time apart

We always say that relationships need time together and time apart. Not unlike breathing. During our regular work schedules – i.e. before Corona – we often have a lot of time apart built in, because we work and do activities in different locations. During those times, it’s more a challenge to build in together-time. But now, given how much we’re in the same space all the time, it can be the exact opposite. Now, we need to create apart-time.

Depending on your physical space, you might need to get creative and negotiate win-wins to accomplish this. Maybe you can turn your back in a little corner and having time to meditate or read a book or play a game. Either way, it’s important that you find time where you can focus in on yourself.

#3: Nourish your soul, body and mind.

During your alone-time, do things that nourish your soul, body and mind. Don’t use all your alone-time watch Netflix and scroll through Instagram (although that’s fun too:-). In our house, Sonika is learning to play piano, so she finds private time while practicing a new song. Christian starts off his morning doing tai chi on the deck outside the house. Friends and clients tell us they meditate, sing, take walks, do yoga, study new topics, dance. Whatever it is for you, make sure you get to recharge and nourish, so that when you do come together with your partner again, you feel refreshed and filled up. That way, your together-time is going to be much more satisfying and intimate.

#4: Do what you’re doing right now.

For some of us, shelter-in-place has resulted in much more free time and less work. But for many others, it’s the exact opposite. We have to figure out how to work in a new environment, we have to be workers, parents, teachers, you name it. It’s overwhelming. It’s easy to feel that there isn’t sufficient time to do any of our duties well. One man I coached said he’s feeling guilty for not working when he’s with the kids and guilty for not being with kids when he’s working. He wasn’t being effective while working, but also wasn’t being present with the kids and wife.

So let yourself do only the thing you’re doing right now. If you really focus, you get more work done in half an hour than in three hours of half-focused, feeling-guilty work. Say to yourself, “For the next 30 minutes, I’m with the kids, and nothing else. I’m going to love my time with the kids!”. After that, tell yourself, “For the next 30 min or 3 hours, I’m working on this work project and nothing else”. Choose the activity you’re engaged in, and let yourself do one thing at a time. (We know might have sub-optimal circumstances, but try this as much as possible).

#5: Express appreciation and gratitude

This is always a go-to, don’t-ever-stop recommendation in any relationship. But during critical, stressful times, it is extra important that we express our appreciations out loud. For many years, we had a “standard operating procedure” of expressing three appreciations of the other person or of our lives before we go to bed. Every night, appreciation and gratitude is the last thing we say or hear before we drift off to sleep.

If you’re if you’re feeling tension in your relationship, your focus gets directed onto the stuff that isn’t working and the stuff you don’t like. The human negativity bias directs out attention to what is not wanted. Unless we direct our attention somewhere else.

The more we can focus in on what we love and what we appreciate, the better we counteract that negative tendency. It’s been demonstrated that relationship does better when we maintain a high ratio of of positive-to-negative interactions.

Today, you probably don’t have a choice in the matter about working from home with your spouse. You just have to, and there’s nowhere to go. So we just have to make the best of it. We’re in a time where relationships could turn into divorces, but it’s also a time that could help relationships and marriages turn even deeper, even more intimate, and even stronger.

Expressing appreciation and gratitude lubricates all the moving parts of our relationship and helps everything flow better. We heard from one woman today who said she was surprised to discover just how much she loved being with her husband 24/7 … much to her delighted surprise.

Sharing appreciations and what we’re grateful for is a quick way to connect, smooth our the kinks, and put “love deposits” in the bank for when stress gets high again.

If you’d like to connect deeper with your spouse our partner, we’re offering a free mini-workshop for couples, Couples Creating Connection, check it out here: https://loveworksforyou.com/couples-creating-connection

For singles, we’re offering a special mini-workshop, also free, Singles Connecting in Corona Times. Find it here … https://loveworksforyou.com/singles-connecting-in-corona-times

 

 

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on How To Survive Working From Home With Your Spouse

How To Grow In A Relationship While Social Distancing

In these crazy and challenging Corona times, it’s understandable if we simply try and survive and make it through. Unfortunately, that’s like being engaged in a month-long game by playing only defense.

We don’t know how long this crisis is going to take. So we have to find ways to grow our relationship, because that’s how we’ll come out stronger on the other side.

Today, we’re going to give you three ways to grow in a relationship.

#1 Identify what “growing” means.

The first things you want to do brainstorm together what it to “grow”. Ask each other questions like …

  • What’s important to us?
  • What would we like to create during the next 6-8-10 weeks?
  • When we look back ten weeks from now, what would we like to say happened during that time?
  • How could we make this one of the best times of our relationship?

It’s important to start off with planning because often, we simply drift through our days we just trying to get through. We’re all in suboptimal situation right now, so it’s understandable if we just try to make it through.

When you can get it down on paper it helps you then be able to implement and actually make something happen.

Here are some ideas:

  • Identify one project you could accomplish together. Build a shed, paint the kid’s room, bake a cake.Projects and shared activities are good ways to grow a relationship because you have to negotiate and work through things together. It’s a good opportunity to actually build connection in your relationship.
  • Learn a new skill together. Learn a new kind of cooking, learn a new dance, learn a new language.
  • How about taking a virtual workshop together, perhaps even a relationship workshop (we have an easy option for quarantined couples right here … )
  • Revive your sex life or deepen your intimacy.

#2: Deepen your intimacy

Intimacy gets built when I share more of myself with my partner and I open myself to hearing my partner in a different way. In relationship, we tend to get into these habits where we assume we know each other, like “been there, done that”.

To keep growing in our relationship, and to build trust in a relationship, one of the best ways is to keep deepening our intimacy by asking intimacy questions; questions that foster a more meaningful and exploratory conversation (as opposed to just talking about logistics and who-does-what).

We created a great ebook with a hundred questions that you can use to quickly create this kind of conversation (download it here … )

Some examples of questions you can use:

  • What do you most appreciate about yourself and why?
  • What’s something you don’t want others to know about you, and why?
  • Tell me something you really like about me, and why?

#3: Speak appreciations.

Speaking your appreciations out loud to your partner (or anyone you care about) is perhaps the best bang-for-your-buck strategy when it comes to growing in your relationship. Plus, it builds a really strong foundation for your entire relationship.

Appreciation is to human beings what water and sun are to plants. Without the sense of feeling seen and known, we tend to wither.

When you deliver an appreciation to your partner there’s several things that happen. For one, you have to actively look for something you like. Just that can help shift your mood to a more positive and life-giving quality.

Plus, when you appreciate your partner, they tend to want to do even more of what you just appreciated them for. It’s a win-win all around.

We have as a regular practice where that every night before bed (and also during the day as often as possible), we express appreciation to each other. We’ve been doing that since our relationship first got started and we’ll never stop doing it.

Even though these are tough times, keep growing in your relationship. Actually, especially in these tough times, keep growing. What if we could not just survive this crisis, but come out of this crisis with a stronger, more connected relationship?

Download the free ebook, “100 Questions for Creating Instant Intimacy”.

 

 

Posted in Blog | Comments Off on How To Grow In A Relationship While Social Distancing