Monthly Archives: May 2020

My Wife Doesn’t Respect Me

My wife doesn’t respect me! What I am going to do about that?

This is a refrain we often hear from husbands.

Obviously, we would all hope that our partners would treat us with kindness and respect, but sometimes that’s not the dynamic we have established. If we were talking directly to your wife, we’d be giving her her own coaching, but assuming we’re talking to you, the husband, we’ll focus on what you have some control over, namely your own behavior and how you communicate with her.

Not being respected can show up for you in a myriad of different ways. You might experience that she …

* Belittles you

* Emasculates you

* Puts you down

* Nags

* Criticizes

* Withholds affection, touch, love, sex

* Doesn’t appreciate you

* Doesn’t acknowledge the things you do do

* Questions your choices

* Doesn’t trust you

* Talks down about you to other people

* Tries to control or micro-manage you

Or perhaps it’s something else for you?

When you have the experience that your wife doesn’t respect you, there’s her responsibility in that situation, and there’s your responsibility. It’s not all on her, nor is it all on you. It’s a co-created dynamic. When we coach couples, we help each person take their share of ownership. As mentioned above, we’ll focus on what you can do to change this dynamic and in effect encourage her to respect and appreciate you more.

Is there a grain of truth? 

For starters, look at what she’s judging you for. What is she criticizing you for?

Then, take an honest look at yourself and ask, What’s the grain of truth in what she’s saying about me? Notice, we say “a grain of truth”, i.e. it’s not the full story about you.

For instance, if she’s judging for you always being late, look at where there’s a grain of truth to that? Are there times when you don’t show up when you said you would?

If she’s nagging you about not following through on commitment, take a look at that. Are there times you say you will do something, but then don’t?

If you can see a grain of truth to her judgments, you now have an opening to change those behaviors, if you so choose. But there’s no question that doing what you say will do, or showing up when you say you will, contributes to her respecting you. If you don’t, you feed into her judgments about you.

Now, I know when your wife says stuff like, “You never clean up after yourself!”, my default reaction is to either get defensive – “I DO clean up after myself. Stop talking to me like that!!” – or to just get the hell out of there so I don’t have to listen to that.

Next time that happens, try telling yourself, “Ok, hang on a second, let me just see if there’s any grain of truth to that I don’t clean up after myself”.

If there is a grain of truth to it, just own it. Just say, “Yeah, sometimes I don’t clean up after myself” or “Sure, there are times I don’t finish my projects”. Owning it without explanation is a way for you to respect yourself more, to restore your own integrity. In the process, it’ll help her respect you more, too.

Respect is an earned privilege, so in order to be respected we have to show up respect-worthy. And that goes both ways, of course!

So take a good hard look at this: Do you respect yourself? Do you value yourself?

Still to this day, despite my many years of growing and developing, I can still find times or areas of my life where I don’t really respect or value myself. It’s hard to admit, I don’t want it to be true, but it is.

How can you respect and value yourself more? As a man, there are several ways to go about that process which involves you getting clear about questions like …

* What am I about as a man?

* What kind of man am I?

* What is my mission?

* What is my purpose?

There’s more to that process, but that’s the topic of another post.

Step in with presence and power.

Often, women get stuck in complaint, criticism, and blame when they don’t feel their man with them. That’s not to justify blame and criticism, but to give you some additional insights and options for actions.

It’s as if under her complaints and criticisms, she’s saying, “Where are you? I can’t feel you! Come be present with me!”

In the face of criticism, it’s natural to want to get out of there, but instead, try to lean in, come closer, and tell her with your entire presence, “I hear you. I’m here for our relationship”.

Make a boundary.

Drawing a line in the sand can be done with presence and kindness and still be firm. By doing so, you’re taking a stand for yourself, for you deserving to be treated kindly.

As you step closer with presence, you might say something like, “I request that you speak to me with appreciation. I request that you see what I do do around here. I’m available to have a conversation with you – I’m not available to be yelled at, I’m not available to be called names. I’m happy to hear what’s going on for you and what your experience is; I’m not happy to stay here and have you put me down”.

Go for what you want

When you feel not respected there’s always something you’re wanting in the background. You can go directly for that “something” by making a direct request to her.

“Would you be willing to speak well of me right now?”

“Would you be willing to lower your voice?”

“Would you be willing to tell me three things you really love and appreciate about me?”

For me, when I’ve felt not respected, it’s typically about me not feeling that my partner is trusting the choices I make, or that she’s not appreciating and acknowledging the things I do do, whether it’s around the house or around career and money. In those case, what I really is for her to trust the choices I make, so I can go straight for that. “Hey, I hear your questions about how I’m going to take care of this project … would you be willing to just trust me on it? I got it and I’d like to demonstrate that to you”.

Sharing vulnerably.

When your wife is going off at you, not only can she not feel you but she doesn’t really know what’s going on inside of you. The more you can be vulnerable about sharing your feelings, your needs, your thought process, and what has you do certain things, the more you can help her step inside your world and understand you; the more she’s going to know you and the more she is going to respect you.

In relationship, we often expect our partners to be like us, but they’re not. We’re different people. We have very different ways of approaching things and thinking about things. You can help your partner understand how you move and how you think, and what’s important to you. When she understands you better, she has more compassion and feels more connected to you. Do your best to be authentic and vulnerable about even how hurt you feel when she speaks to you in a certain way or moves with you in a certain way.

I personally used to be a man who communicated very little in my relationships. I would have a lot of stuff going on in my mind but I didn’t say much of it out loud. I wasn’t very skilled or comfortable talking about how I felt and what was going on inside of me, so I just didn’t talk. I often felt she wasn’t respecting me because she always wanted to know what was “going on in there”. I felt nagged at.

What I realized (probably much too late!) is that when I’m not sharing about how I feel, it’s an invitation to her to fabricate conclusions; basically to make shit up on her own! If I don’t tell her anything, I’m basically telling her to go make up her own conclusions, and often those conclusions aren’t in my favor.

You can significantly improve the playing field by sharing genuinely about what you want her to see you as.

Provide what’s desired

You know the experience when you feel disrespected, you want to disrespect right back? When you get criticized, you want to strike back? Which makes for two disrespectful and disrespected partners.

Providing what’s desired is a powerful relationship idea, and it takes “the bigger person” to get it started (as opposed to both people waiting for the other person to “do the right thing”).

It means be the person you want to be. It means offer the respect you want to be afforded. You want her to speak well of you? You speak well of her. You want her to appreciate you? You appreciate her. You want to her not question your choices in front of the kids? Don’t question her with the kids.

Of course, you would hope she would do the exact same thing for you. Since we’re talking to you, the man who says, “My wife doesn’t respect me”, we’re talking about what what’s in your power. Providing what’s desired is in your power. We know, it takes two to create a kind and respectful atmosphere in your relationship and in your house. By doing your best to improve how you behave and show up, you contribute to a better dynamic between you.

You might need support in this process. We have coached hundreds of couples about how to stop a disrespectful cycle and establish better, kinder dynamics. There’s no shame in not knowing, and in needing help. Often, your patterns of interaction have been established over years or decades, so don’t feel bad if it’s not changing overnight; and don’t feel bad if you need professional facilitation to work through issues like these.

Show this video post to your partner and your friends and start a conversation about how you’d like to be treated, and how you’re committed to showing up!

Posted in Communication, Conflicts, Couples, Men, Respect, Trust | Comments Off on My Wife Doesn’t Respect Me

Is He The One?

Is he “The One”? Is she “The One”?

As a single person, that’s a really big, important questions. As it turns out, sometimes it’s too big. I still remember from all my single years how much that question was on my mind, even haunted me.

The search to find “The One” is exhilarating and full of so much hope. But sometimes, like for me, the “quest” also caused a good deal of anxiety and when I went dating, I did that thing so many singles have tried on dates: Meeting someone and instantly passing judgment as the whether the person in front of me was “The One” or not (they never were). I kinda wish someone had shown me this video back then.

In this post, we’ll offer you important tips for what to pay attention to in order to answer that question, Is he/she the one?

The first thing to do to make your own journey more enjoyable is to make it ok that the “big question” just sits there, unanswered, for a while. No one can put a timeline on finding the love of your life, and if you add a deadline of your own, you’re likely to also add a bunch of stress and pressure. So see if you can relax into the uncertainty. Tell yourself it might take a while, and that’s ok, because you’re going to have a good time as you go.

For Sonika & I, it took over two years before we could answer the question, before we knew for sure we wanted to commit and be together. We couldn’t have done it any faster, and during that process, we paid attention to all the factors we’re sharing with you below.

Second and equally important, throw out the whole notion of “The One”. We know that might sound like odd and contrary advice, but think about it. The idea that among 8 billion people there is one and only one person for you is just not very likely, to say the least. Instead of looking for “The One”, look for someone who’s a great fit for you, someone you can make a wonderful relationship with. Thinking there is only one just puts more pressure on yourself to find a needle in a global haystack.

But what about attraction and chemistry, you might wonder? Attraction and chemistry are great; they feel awesome, and makes for hot juiciness! And attraction and chemistry are not enough to build a relationship on, or to decide if someone is the right fit for you.

There are lots and lots of people you can feel attracted to and whose bones you’d love to jump. But it’s not just if you’re attracted physically. You also want to notice if you’re attracted to them emotionally? If you feel intellectually stimulated?

Other essential factors to pay attention to are:

Trust. Do you feel you can trust this person? Do you observe him or her moving with integrity in their lives? When he says he’ll show up somewhere, does he? When she says she’ll do something, does she? And not just with you, with all their friends and family.

Personal growth. Is this someone who is committed to growing? Is he willing to learn, make adjustments, admit wrong doing? Sonika always said that was more important to her than almost anything else, because if he’s willing to grow, learn and look at himself, then you know he’ll be growing with you and can learn what he doesn’t know already. Don’t get hung up on whether she’s done as many workshops as you, or masters the same non-violent communication skills you do, but do pay attention to his willingness to grow.

Do you feel free to express yourself? When we’re dating or in a new relationship, we sometimes hesitate to show all of ourselves, in an effort to to not wreck a good thing, or turn our partner off. But it’s way more important for you to express who you are and what’s on your mind and heart, for real. How your partner reacts to this, will tell you a lot. And in case he doesn’t encourage your full expression, you’ll know he’s not a good fit for you. You’d rather know this sooner than later, so don’t hold yourself back.

Can you handle and resolve conflicts? What happens when there’s a testy moment? Does she get all weird, back away, go silent, get angry in your face? We don’t mean just one time, everyone has less-than-stellar moments, but as a recurrent response to conflict.

How about their quirks and issues? Everyone has issues and quirks, so don’t look for someone who is somehow free of quirks and idiosyncrasies. More useful, notice if her quirks and issues are some you’re willing to work with? You might be totally fine with him being into Dungeons and Dragons, but you might not be willing to deal with someone who’s drinking too much.

What are their other relationships like? Noticing how she relates to her family, friends, and coworkers can tell you a lot. Does she have ind, loving, respectful relationships with other people. Or is she a loner with no friends? Does he create conflicts with lots of people in his life?

Pay attention to how you feel. We can give you lots of practical factors to notice, but at the end of the day, how you feel might be the most important factor.

Do you feel safe? Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel trusting? Do you have that sense of being “home”? Like all is right in the world?

On the flip side of that, notice if you frequently have the sense that something is not “quite right”. Are you trying to talk yourself out of something? Or into something?

Practice telling the truth about these feelings. Having open, honest conversations like this will either bring your closer and strengthen your bond, or will show if you he’s not interested in that kind of communication. Either way, good information for you.

Finally, make it okay that this a process and that there’s a question in the space. Remember, it takes time for two people to sync up and line up, not just their lives and circumstances, but their hearts and minds. Relationship are living creatures, they grow organically, if you let them.

Use all your dating experiences as an opportunity to practice being in relationship, practice showing up as the best version of yourself, as the kind of person you would like to one day find!

Here’s a great way to connect with other singles: We’re providing a safe, facilitated space for singles to connect deeply and meaningfully.

Singles Connecting in Corona Times, more here: https://loveworksforyou.com/singles-connecting-in-corona-times

Posted in Dating, New Relationships, Singles | Comments Off on Is He The One?

How Personal Stress Affects Our Relationship

It’s no surprise that personal stress spills over into our relationships, and to all other aspects of our lives. Stress tends to be contagious, too, so that one partner’s stress “transfers” to the other partner and sometimes kids.

Even in the best of circumstances, there’s a lot of stuff one can be stressed about. Just making a living, minding a job or business, raising a family and dealing with the myriad responsibilities of modern life can raise anyone’s blood pressure.

Personal stress can show up in many ways and have many side effects. Here are some of them …

  • One or both partners withdraws
  • We disappear into ourselves
  • We quit communicating
  • One person shuts out the other
  • We become alienated and disconnected from each other
  • We might become less affectionate, distracted, superficial
  • We obsess about the things that stress us
  • We get more sensitive and take things more personally
  • Negative behaviors become more visible
  • We’re less able to stop ourselves from reacting
  • We get more irritable, hostile which leads to more fighting
  • We have shorter fuses
  • We tend to vent, we got less filters, we say stupid stuff that creates more problems
  • We get depleted, tired, fatigued.
  • We can’t think as clearly, we make more mistakes

And there are probably more (we didn’t even mention the physical health consequences of stress, which are legion!)

So what can we do about this?

#1 Break it down

First, break down your stressors. What specifically is it that you feel stressed about? It’s useful to break it down, because that opens the door to take productive action. As long as you’re in a generalized state of “I’m so stressed”, without getting clear about the stressors, you can’t do anything about it, it just festers inside you.

So break it down. Is it that you got a pink slip? That you have too many responsibilities at work? Is it that there are problems in your marriage? Or that your kids are growing up and leaving the house?

Make a list or talk it out with your partner or a friend.

#2 Determine what you DO have control over

Because there are so many things in life we don’t have control over (Covid, anyone?), it’s easy to just feel victimized.

So what CAN you take action around?
What DO you have some control over?
Where DO you have power?

It’s always useful to shift your mindset to one of opportunity and agency instead of problems and victimization. So you look at the stressors in your life and ask yourself, What if this was a challenge for me? What if (for some unknown reason) this was somehow happening for me? What could I learn here?

Call us hopelessly insistent on optimism, but Sonika & I have always used that mindset to help us turn around stressful situations, the external causes of which we had no control over. Our favorite question is, How are we going to use this to our benefit?

And it’s never failed to galvanize and invigorate our hearts and minds. Remember, the goal here is to do something useful to alleviate and transform your stress, not necessarily to change the whole world.

#3 Take action

Once you break down your stressors, and look at what you can control and have some influence over, then it’s time to take action. No matter how stressful the situation, there are always a host of productive actions you can take.

Some ideas …

  • Reduce your workload. Take on less tasks. Say no to stuff.
  • Create better self-care habits, such as sit in silence for a bit in the morning, or watch the sunset, or take a hot bath.
  • Get other people to take some work off your plate
  • Pay someone to do stuff around the house
  • Talk to a co-worker to help you with some of your projects
  • Ask for help. We sometimes forget we don’t have to do everything solo.
  • And as I always like to remind myself, “Chill the f*** out and stop worrying about stuff that’ll probably never happen” (being someone who’s prone to doing exactly that!)

#4 Create and cultivate empowering daily routines

Today I started my day with 45 min of Tai Chi on our deck, just me and the birds. That’s a daily routine I’ve started in Covid times to help myself feel better. Sonika started the day by envisioning how to best support the clients she’d be meeting with later.

The key here is “feel better”. What routines could you cultivate that would make you feel better? Not just once, but every day, or regularly (hence “routine”, not just a one-time action).

In the face of stress, some people fret, some obsess, some get angry, and some get depressed. Either way, stress is depleting, so by having daily routines that help you reinvigorate, you alleviate your stress.

#5 What can you do together?

How can you help each other? How can you leverage your relationship to ease your stress? So often, we respond to stress by isolating and carrying the whole burden internally. That’s when you know it’s time to use each other; to come up with what you can do together.

We always start by connecting and sharing openly about whatever it is that stresses us. Speaking it out loud, getting it off your chest to someone who will listen without correction, is a time-tested winner for de-stressing. If you feel like you should be able to handle this yourself, maybe you even feel ashamed that you even need to talk about it, then say all that out loud.

Remind yourself that you’re in this together, that you’re on the same team. In times of stress and frustration, who do most people take it out on? Their partners, who becomes an adversary instead of an ally. So use each other, lean on each other, connect, and keep talking. The very act of being vulnerable can help you shed some of the tension, stress, and worry that you carry.

Or, sometimes even better, stop talking all together, go snuggle up or jump in a hot bath and just feel your bodies. Give each other a massage or make love, and see if your stress doesn’t evaporate, at least for a time.

Here’s one super effective and connecting action you can take together for your relationship, which will definitely help with your stress.

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 Conflicts, Couples, Fear, Marriage, Relationship | Leave a comment

How to Deal with an Emotionally Unavailable Partner

When you have the experience of your partner being emotionally unavailable, you’re probably feeling that you’re not being “met”, that you’re not being heard, that you can’t get your messages across, or that he/she is always trying to fix you when you try to share something. You might find your partner aloof, stonewalling, or defensive. Or any combination of these.

It’s natural that you want to be more connected, more in communion, with your partner.

It’s important to understand that there are inherent differences between men and women, between personality types, and between … just people! We all have a different way of feeling, accessing and expressing our emotions.

For instance, we worked with a couple where the woman was vivacious, talkative, charismatic, and the man was stoic, unmoving, and only talked sparingly. She loved asking him questions, and he hated being asked questions. It’s easy to assume that she’s emotionally available and he’s not. But it’s not that simple. When we took the time to create the right space, he too shared profound insights and emotions.

Some people cry at movies, some don’t, but remember “emotionally unavailable” doesn’t (necessarily) mean they don’t feel or have emotions.

If you have the experience of someone being emotionally unavailable, and they feel judged by you, all that’s going to produce is have them clam up even more.

For starters, what you can do is accept differences and get curious about what those differences might be. Ask questions in a mood of curiosity. Ask your partner, “What happens for you when you watch that movie?” or “What happens for you when so-and-so happens in our family …?”

Some people have much quicker access to how they feel. Like Sonika and me, for instance. it seems to me she’s always in touch with how she feels at any given moment, but I often have to stop and “think” about how I feel; I have to tune in in order to know how I feel. From her point of view, it might seem as if I’m not feeling anything, but I just need time to access my feelings.

A great tip is when you ask a question, let the person explore for a little bit, give them some time before you ask another question.

On the flip side, if you’re the “unavailable” one, add a little more detail than you normally would. Instead of just answering, “Great!” when she asks how my day was, I can elaborate a bit and add, “I did have an interesting experience with John at work …”. This breeds emotional connection.

Ask yourself, if there isn’t a lot of talking, do you assume it’s disconnection? Another way to think about this, is to join your partner in the silence, and to enjoy the connection inside silence. That’s a different kind of emotional availability, beyond words.

When you’re with an emotionally unavailable partner, it’s easy to have all of your attention is on what your partner is not doing, what they’re not saying. You try to get your partner to be more vulnerable and available.

Instead, try turning it around and ask yourself, How can I be more vulnerable? How can I be more emotionally available? Because often, when you’re busy trying to get your partner to be more available and in touch with their feelings, you’re not in touch with yours.

When you can get more in touch with your own emotions, and share that with your partner from an open, vulnerable place, you invite your partner into your world, which invites your partner to share more deeply.

Granted, there are different degrees of emotional unavailability. Most often, the tools and tips we’re sharing here can help, but if your partner (or you) are completely stonewalling, refusing to engage, you might need a different level of intervention. You can reach out to us for private coaching or talk to a local coach/therapist.

In relationship, we have a tendency to talk more “about” our problems, or “about” our emotions, but the more we talk “about” it, the further we get away from the connection we’re longing for.

Instead of talking “about”, turn it around to explore what am I feeling? How can I be more vulnerable here? How can I be more curious about you? That creates a space for us to “drop in” to, a place of connection and feeling, the place we’re wanting in the first place.

Finally, look for any place where your partner does reach out, where they do share, and where they do connect. Then, once you see those places, appreciate your partner for it. Thank them for where they DO connect with you. That way, you find some small pieces of what you want, and you make them bigger.

Your partner makes eye contact (a mark of availability) for a few seconds? Say, “Thanks for looking at me … that makes me feel really good”.

Here’s a next-step idea that could really boost your sense of emotional connection:

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 Communication, Conflicts, Marriage, Relationship, Trust | Leave a comment

How To Communicate About Relationship Issues

The most common issue couples present to us is Communication (or lack thereof). It is one thing to communicate about logistics and practicalities such as who goes shopping, who makes food, who picks up the kids, and when. It’s quite another to try and communicate about touchy issues, such as our different preferences or personalities.

All too often, our first communication is about what our partner is doing that we don’t like or find irritating. Basically our default, go-to strategy when we want something to change in our partner’s behavior, is we tell them about it. We point it out to them, so hopefully they’ll get the message and change.

The problem with this strategy is it always ends up sounding like complaining and criticizing to our partner, who then get’s defensive, silent, or complains right back.

#1 Shift your complaints to requests

When I say to my partner, “You’re not listening to me!” or, “You don’t respect me”, I’m hoping it will result in her changing to now listen to me and respect me. But when someone tells you, “”You don’t listen to me!”, do you want to listen more or less? Yeah, less. And you might want to add, “I do listen” (defensive), or “You’re not exactly the best listener yourself!” (complaining back).

It is much more useful to go directly for what you want, bypassing the complaint altogether. So you shift your complaint to a direct request instead:

“Would you be willing to listen to me for five minutes?”
“Would you be willing to tell me something you respect about me?”

Go directly what is wanted, namely listening and a sense of respect.

#2 Express appreciations to your partner every day

It has been shown that the more appreciations and the less complaining we have, the better our chances of keeping our relationship strong and stay together.

Plus, appreciations are to humans what water and sun are to plants. We need it to not wither inside.

Appreciation is the perfect antidote to complaining because in order for me to appreciate something about my partner, I have to shift my attention onto something I like, something I love, something that IS working in my relationship.

Find something your partner did today, or some quality about them that you like, and say it out loud.

“Thanks for making breakfast today”
“Thanks for doing the shopping, that was really nice”
“Thanks for being so responsible with our kids”
“I love how you make people laugh”

Anything will. We’ve kept up a routine for over ten years now. Before we go to sleep, we share at least three appreciations of the other person. Try it out!

#3 Talk about your own experience

You’ve probably heard the recommendation to speak in I-statements. It’s much easier for your partner to hear you saying, “I feel scared when we argue” as opposed to “You’re always arguing with me!”. Sharing your own experience makes communication a lot safer. We call it the “un-arguable truth”. No one can argue that I feel scared. But you can – and probably will – argue if I say, “All your yelling is making me scared!”.

#4 Expand to include

This is a central notion in the LoveWorks Solution. I expand my understanding and mindset to be big enough to include yours. In disagreements, we often think only one of us is right, can be right, but in truth, it’s possible that we’re both right. Expand to include the differences in opinions and styles.

If I love cilantro and you hate it (that’s Sonika and me:-), there’s no point in me arguing that you should love it too. Instead, I expand to include your point of view.

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 Communication, Marriage, Relationship | Leave a comment

Can You Rebuild Trust In A Relationship?

Trust is hugely important for creating a safe, successful, loving relationship. A sense of trust in your partner and your relationship is what allows you to generally relax, let your guard down, and move with faith and ease in your life together.

According to Drs. Gottman et al, in their book A Man’s Guide To Women, trustworthiness is the #1 quality women look for in a male partner.

When trust is broken in a relationship, it can cause a lot of harm. It can make you question everything you’ve thought to be true and factual, and to wonder about what else you don’t know. Anyone who’s ever discovered their partner to have an illicit affair will know exactly what that means. Because you don’t know what to trust, it makes you feel kinda crazy.

If trust is broken repeatedly over time, sometimes years, it becomes very difficult to repair and stay together.

Even in perfectly harmonious relationships, trust gets broken from time to time. Whatever the circumstances, if you still have love for each other and you still want to be in relationship, you end up asking this question: Can trust be rebuilt in my relationship?

Whether trust can be rebuilt depends on the situation, and the way in which trust was broken.

Generally speaking, if you are willing to …

  • Own what happened and take responsibility.
  • Learn from it.
  • Change behaviors.
  • Apologize
  • Making new commitments backed by action.

Then you have very good chances of repairing trust and healing, even growing, from what happened. If you’re not willing to engage in the actions listed above, it becomes very difficult to repair trust and salvage your relationship.

Building trust can be a long process that requires professional support, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t figured it out on your own yet. It’s a big topic, bigger than one article will cover.

We want to support you to get started, so here are some important pointers and steps to take.

Get specific

Get really specific about where trust was broken. It’s a different situation if your partner showed up 5 minutes late to an appointment or emptied your retirement account and ran off with a lover. Both could be characterized as “broken trust”, but obviously not the same.

Instead of stating a general, “I don’t trust you!”, get specific. Is it that you don’t trust your partner to be with the kids? Or to shop for the right ingredients for dinner? Or to be faithful?

Getting specific makes it easier to stay on track with the process, and it helps the person who broke the trust to do something about it.

Apology process

For the person who broke the trust, the first “something” to do is to go through a complete apologies process. Just saying, “I’m sorry” just doesn’t get the job done.

A complete apologies process involves steps such as ownership of the behavior, demonstrating to your partner that you understand the impact of your actions, making amends to repair the damage, making new promises, and of course, keeping said promises.

If trust has been broken repeatedly over time, or the breach was severe, repairing trust is process over an extended period of time, not a one-time apology process. It takes many new promises that are repeatedly and reliably backed by action to heal from breaches of trust. It takes the ability to clean up when you fall short of your promises.

Acknowledge progress

In the process of repairing trust, make sure you acknowledge and speak out loud your appreciations for the efforts and progress made. If my partner had been lying to me, but now I see real a demonstration of him or her being truthful, I make sure to say, “Thank you so much for telling me that, I really appreciate it”.

It takes two

Even if only person was the one to break the trust, repairing trust still takes willingness from both parties. Even if your partner was the one to break a promise, it still requires willingness from you to learn and grow from what happened, and willingness to heal and eventually let go of what happened (with proper apologies and new actions from your partner). Note, letting go of what happened is not the same as forgetting or condoning what happened.

Finally, breaches of trust, betrayals, affairs, lying, etc. are difficult things to deal with in a relationship. It brings up all manner of feelings and the hurt can run really deep.

So get help! The faster the better. Call coaches like us, use a local therapist or a trusted friend. But don’t just stew with it on your own, that doesn’t help anyone.

And in the meantime, keep your agreements!

 

Posted in Conflicts, Marriage, Relationship | Comments Off on Can You Rebuild Trust In A Relationship?

How To Make Marriage Fun Again

Anyone else feel like “Groundhog Day” in your marriage these days? Other than stuff we find on our screens, there’s a whole lot less diversion and adventure while we’re waiting out the corona restrictions.

Not just in our relationship, but in life in general, we need to find ways to laugh together. Even under “normal” circumstances life is hard enough and at times completely absurd, so we need a good dose of humor to make it through.

Sonika’s favorite saying has long been, “Trust, risk and keep a sense of humor”.

In marriages and relationships, because we are together every day for years and decades, and because we get to see every possible aspect of each other – good, bad, and ugly – we often forget to have fun.

Not because we don’t want to, but because we get sucked into the myriad responsibilities we all have and we get out of the habit of laughing, enjoying life and each other, and just plain old having fun.

During corona times, you might even have a bunch of added stressors and responsibilities and you might be more inclined to say “F*** it!” than having a good laugh. Understandable. But still, without having some fun, what’s it all for, anyways?

They say that couples who play together, stay together. Whether that’s true or not, it’s definitely true that couples who play together … well, play together! They just have more fun, period.

Even in the confines of our houses there are lots of options to make your marriage fun again.

We’ll offer a few ideas we use to have fun on an ongoing basis (and spend a few minutes with Google, you’ll find plenty more).

Having fun is not exactly rocket science. Even if you’ve been out of practice, there’s still stuff in this world that can make you laugh. The challenge is finding the lightness and levity inside yourself, even in the midst of challenging circumstances.

Some of us didn’t grow up in families where fun and levity were part of the daily diet, and you might even have been reprimanded for “having too much fun” or “being too loud”. Those types of messages from our early years can make it really uncomfortable to let loose and show a goofy or hilarious side of yourself, especially with your partner.

For some of us, it requires a feeling of trust and safety before we let our goofy side out. Sharing laughter, and taking the risk to show up ridiculous, is in fact a great way to build trust and intimacy in your relationship.

So if you’re out of practice in the fun department, or you just never learned, go easy on yourself and your partner. Don’t take your attempts at not taking things too seriously, too seriously! (Phew, even I almost got lost in that sentence!)

Ok, here are some of the ways we make ourselves and each other laugh.

Find comedy clips.

This is a staple of pick-me-ups in our household. Find funny clips anywhere on the internet and give yourself a 10-minute laugh break. We’ll do it over our lunch or anytime the day is draaaaaaggging on or we feel bored or tired. This is a great connector with our son and daughter too (Our daughter showed a clip from The Adley Show on Facebook where a woman has a hilarious fail trying to make a homemade treadmill by pouring soap and oil on her bathroom floor. See the clip at 1:23 in the video above).

You can even make a bit of a contest out of it … see who can find the clip that makes you laugh the hardest.

Laugh at yourself and your partner

A great thing about having been in relationship with someone for a while is you know all their follies and silly habits and routines. This includes yourself, of course. To make it really entertaining, do impersonations of yourself or your partner. Sonika did a really fun bit impersonation of how I splash everything when I shower – we laughed so hard, I almost forgot to wash myself (and my retort to that is, “What, we’re IN the shower, if stuff can’t get wet, it shouldn’t be in here!).

I can mimic Sonika’s perfectionist bed making routine like nobody’s business and usually make both of us laugh. I help make the bed while I do it, too, although Sonika will definitely straighten it out further as soon as I look away.

WARNING: Using impersonations, goofiness and all the other wonderful aspects of humor are wonderful relationship builders, EXCEPT when you’re already hurt, mad or otherwise triggered. In those cases, stay away from using humor as it’s likely to add to the hurt more than alleviate it. Use humor only when you’re in a generally good space with each other.

Find silly games to play

Also not rocket science. Just google “fun games to play with my family”, look through your own games cabinet or sort through your garage for old games you haven’t played since forever. We’ve done all of these in the last month. Found a hilarious game called Telestrations where everyone gets humiliated over their terrible drawing skills. Or Mouth Guard which is so absurd I couldn’t even play it but the mouth guard gizmo you have to force in your mouth makes anyone looks so unhinged it was worth the try. We even found old games in the garage; dusted off the old bocce balls and crocket set. Anything will do as long as you can play it. Or simply invent games from scratch (for inspiration, google “Calvin ball rules” from Calvin and Hobbes.

Other random ideas

Out of nowhere, tell your partner, “I’ll give you a five second head start – RUN!” and then give chase. You know much kids love to be chased, how it’ll literally make the squeal with delight? Well, most adults still have that hidden inside them. We chase each other around the kitchen island, through the living room, down the hallway or outside. Never fails to get your blood pumping faster and putting a big grin on your face. We actually sometimes set this up as exercises for couples and singles in our workshops and you’d be amazed at the level what at the joy that can be produced in a 40-50-60 year old person when someone is chasing them with a holler.

Skip down the road. When we’re taking a walk in our neighborhood, I’ll sometimes grab Sonika’s hand and say, “Let’s skip!”, and we skip down the road like a pair of six-year-olds. I imagine anyone watching would think, “Huh! Isn’t that the neighbors … skipping?” but who cares. Sonika once said, “it’s impossible to be depressed while you’re skipping”. I dare you to verify her theory.

Create into the future

This game serves as a powerful forward-looking creation tool. You basically dream out loud with each other. No-limits dreaming. Finish the sentence, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if … “ and just fill in amazing things you’d love to experience someday. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had a yacht and could cruise over to Hawaii! Wouldn’t it be amazing if we made the winning video for America’s Funniest Home Videos.

In short, get a little creative, don’t let yourself go without laughter in your relationship, put the goofy side of yourself on stage now and again, have some fun, and enjoy the lasting benefits to your marriage!

For extra credits …

Because we tend to have a lot more complaining and criticism than fun and productive communication in our relationships, we created a brand-new, 90-min virtual mini-workshop for couples, How To Replace Complaints And Criticism With Constructive Communication.

In this mini-workshop, we’ll help you:

* Stop the cycle of complaining

* Talk to your partner when you/they get upset

* Find compassion in disagreements

* Relieve tension and stress

* Learn techniques to de-escalate during arguments

* Use productive communication tools

* Get back to connection

Check it out and register here: https://loveworksforyou.com/how-to-replace-complaints-and-criticism-with-constructive-communication

Posted in Communication, Couples, Marriage, Relationship | Comments Off on How To Make Marriage Fun Again

Covid-19: Opportunity or Crisis?

“This moment of uncertainty and unprecedented change is calling to all of us. We have an opportunity to hone our capacity to be with life on life’s terms, to open instead of close, to learn and expand and grow and step into what is possible instead of shrinking away in fear and protection. We have an opportunity to deepen our connection with ourselves and our loved ones, to cultivate our relationship with the earth, with humanity and with Spirit. We have been given a gift, in this great pause, to clarify what really matters to us in this life, and to rethink how we want to live and love and be.”
Sonika Tinker

Covid-19 has turned our worlds upside down. Many have lost jobs and income, family vacations and trips have been cancelled, kids are forced to stay at home from shut down schools. Gyms, restaurants, movie theatres, and state parks are closed – this massive change and its domino effects have stressed even the best of relationships!

Stress has shown up in new and unexpected ways. Both intact and split families are finding themselves arguing about what version of the safety protocols to follow. Some family members insist on removing clothes at the door, washing all grocery items, and not visiting with extended family, while others are content with rigorous hand washing and sanitizing. Some members are okay with going out for walks and going to the grocery store, while others advocate for staying indoors 24/7 and opting for grocery delivery.

Some families are finding themselves out of work with nothing to do, afraid for how they will pay their bills and concerned about what the future holds for them workwise. Others are inundated with more work than they can handle and are exhausted from working long hours. Working one or two jobs remotely from home brings its own set of challenges, especially with young kids at home that need to be fed, homeschooled, entertained and watched over.

Singles are having their own challenges. Isolated with no family, intimate relationships or access to community support services, many are lonely and completely overwhelmed at having to take care of everything on their own.

Add in health challenges, with patients and caretakers stuck at home with no access to needed medical procedures and surgeries, or life transitions – moving to a new location or changing jobs or dealing with the death of an elderly person or the birth of a new baby, it is beyond challenging.

Honestly, we don’t need to say more. You are experiencing your own version of the impact of COVID-19 in your life.

Like you, we have been impacted. Our live workshops for the next three months are cancelled and may not revive for the rest of the year, and we are working overtime to shift our work online. We had intense conversations with family members over different interpretations of Covid protection protocols. Our daughter is not able to participate in classic Senior Year activities and will not have a graduation ceremony with family members in attendance this year. We aren’t seeing friends in person, aren’t participating in our monthly community work weekends, and my piano lessons are now taking place online. We leave the house only when we need food from our local grocery store. Life is changed to be sure.

We are aware that we are privileged and lucky, comparatively. We don’t live in a Covid hot spot, we have enough reserves to keep us housed and fed for many months without income, and we live in the country where we can still get out and take walks and enjoy gardening and being in nature. We also have a sweet loving relationship and get to go through this experience together. While we have had our fair share of “oh shit” moments during this Covid crisis, we have experienced some delightful surprises too.

For one, my “fear of missing out” has disappeared. On Friday and Saturday nights, I am happily content being at home knowing everyone else is home too. I was unaware of how much I pressured myself to be out and about in the world engaging in activities with friends just to stay busy and feel a part of life.

Time has slowed down. I feel like I have an abundance of time to do whatever I am inspired to do. I notice myself going to bed and 10, and waking up at 6, eager to start the day. I do what I want to do all day, and I am surprised to discover that I get way more done in a day than I used to!! Stress has reduced as a result. Whatever I don’t get done today will easily get done tomorrow. Inside of this spaciousness, I feel more present and in the moment.

I am taking better care of my body. Christian and I walk every afternoon, Christian does Tai Chi every morning and I do my Five Rites exercises. Because we are home more, we were able to purchase food shares with our local farm growers – something we have wanted to do for years! As a result, we are eating really great organic farm-fresh, home cooked meals every day. And because we are home all day, our outside work breaks have allowed us to prepare our garden for vegetables and herbs, plant flowers, weed the yard, cut and stack firewood, and burn debris from trimmed trees and shrubs.

We are also having more fun together. Christian and I have been playing outside more – bocce ball and badminton and horseshoes. We put on loud music and learn new line dances on YouTube. I practice my piano every day while Christian cooks dinner. We devour audio books and podcasts on walks and tea breaks. We take hot tubs and enjoy the singing birds and our deep conversations. And we have fun watching comedy shows and movies.

We are connecting with people more deeply when we reach out, creatively sharing online Zoom dinners and lunches and afternoon tea. We have connected with family members more often than we did before Covid, celebrating holidays and birthdays online. Christian and I enjoy our kids when they come over. We feel just as connected in our community of friends and family, maybe even more so, because we value now what before we took for granted.

Another byproduct – I got to be home and focus fully on caring for my 18 year-old cat before she died.

In work, we are getting more creative on the calls we lead and the coaching sessions we offer. We are stepping outside the box as we offer online mini-workshops, produce YouTube videos and Facebook lives, and we led our first Gift of Conflict workshop online. We feel expanded, in our heart, and called forth like we haven’t in awhile.

I don’t think I realized how scattered I felt being out there in the world. I am listening more to my heart and the whispers of Spirit and enjoying the beautiful richness of this life during this “stay at home” time period. I am taking more risks, following the lead of my feelings, and settling into accepting the grand paradox of life’s unfolding mystery.

Like many, we have no idea what life will look like after Covid. We don’t know what new form our business will take. For now, we are just letting all the questions of “what is next?” sit there unanswered, knowing the answers will emerge in time. There is no way we can figure all of it out right now anyhow.

While there are many gifts, possibilities, and options available to us during this pause, there are many fears, losses, and breakdowns too. Our feelings are likely to be all over the place.

When things show up in life that we can’t control, it is easy to feel powerless, stuck, scared and angry. For a lot of us, instead of coming together in support during this challenging time, we distance, fight, withdraw, separate and are much more easily triggered by seemingly little things. We distract ourselves with computers, televisions and phones, which only exacerbate our disconnection.

Christian and I noticed at the start of this whole thing, that we were feeling sort of in shock, afraid and distant from each other. We really needed to drop down into our feelings, to reconnect, to talk, make love, and move into our hearts and out of our heads. We wanted to seize the opportunity to mindfully create a meaningful experience together during this “stay at home” order, and to make it the best time of our lives. But at the same time, we didn’t really feel like it or want to. Another part of us wanted to stay distracted on our phones, and disconnected and asleep and moving on autopilot.

We made it a priority and forced ourselves to connect anyways, and it has made all the difference! If we hadn’t of intervened and leaned in towards each other, we would still be feeling disconnected! If we hadn’t of intervened and consciously designed how to use this time as best as possible to create and live a good life, we would still be drifting along waiting for life to return to normal.

Can you relate?

Because of this tendency in all of us to disconnect when we need to come together most, we are offering several live online opportunities for you to stop, drop down and give your relationships the focused priority it deserves and need now more than ever. We are committed to helping you stop and reflect and explore what matters most to you, and to using this Covid time as a pivotal turning point in your relationships and your life.

We are offering 90-minute experiential mini-workshops for both singles and couples via Zoom to support you to connect and learn.

For couples, we offer specific interactive exercises for you to do with your partner, and for singles, guided intimate conversations with other singles, that are guaranteed to have you feel more connected afterwards.

Every week, we also offer free videos and blogs on specific topics to support you to create the best experience possible in your relationship world. Check the schedule below to sign up for the ones you think would make the biggest difference for you.

Space is limited so register soon to reserve your space.

FOR SINGLES:

FOR COUPLES:

 

 

Posted in Conflicts, Relationship | Comments Off on Covid-19: Opportunity or Crisis?

How To Keep Intimacy Alive While In Close Quarters

A lot of couples are in VERY close quarters during Coronavirus (Covid-19) times. Whereas during “normal” times couples might be challenged to carve out more time together, during shelter-in-place it’s a bigger challenge getting time apart.

In fact, that’s our first tip for keeping your intimacy alive while in such close quarters.

Take time and space apart.

It might sound like odd intimacy advice to suggest you take more time and space apart. But it’s important to understand that relationships need to “breathe”, that is time together – time apart, time together – time apart. We need both. It’s a common recipe for resentment when we use our spouse as our only social and physical “fueling station”. It puts too much pressure on our partner and on the relationship.

Whereas every individual has a different “comfy spot” on the apart-together spectrum, every relationship needs both. Too much “together” makes us bored and complacent. Too much “apart” makes us scared and lonely.

When you take space to yourself, make it count. There are many ways to take time and space for yourself in ways that nourish and replenish you.

You can …

  • Take a walk on your own
  • Hang out with your friends online separately
  • Nourish your soul, body, mind by doing sports, exercises, nature walks, meditation, painting, building … whatever does it for you.
  • Whatever you do, make sure it nourishes you (don’t just watch more Netflix:-)

Grow, learn, expand, and step outside your comfort zone.

This too might sound like peculiar advice for keeping your intimacy alive. You might be thinking, “Why aren’t we talking about deep conversation and touch and sex?” Not to worry, we will be, shortly. But strengthening your intimacy in close quarters is not just about cuddling up and sharing deep truths. There are a lot of things you can do which will inspire intimacy and build trust in your relationship. Some of those things involve your partner, some don’t.

It is really good for your intimacy when you keep growing and learning. Growing yourself as a person is “hot”, it gives you new material to bring into conversations and it keeps you on your toes. You become a more interesting and attractive person to be around, and by always growing and learning you demonstrate your willingness to take on new risks and step outside your comfort zone.

You can even ramp it up and use each other as a sort of accountability partners. For example, you might state a commitment to your partner like, “By this Friday, I’ll have read chapter 1+2 in my coaching book and completed the homework that goes with it”. This is an actual commitment Sonika made as part of a coaching course she’s taking.

Then give progress reports as you go along and talk about what you learned. This keeps your mind fresh, your curiosity open, and helps you avoid the very common trap of stagnation.

Sonika’s coaching course hence benefitted the intimacy in our relationship because she brought valuable teaching and new insights to us. This keeps us alive, intimate in sharing something new (did I already mention, not stagnant? 🙂

Carve out time to focus on your relationship

Even if you’re completely overbooked and corona has given you a boatload of extra responsibilities, it’s still essential that you find time to focus on your relationship. If all you can do half an hour a week, great, do that, but still, find time to focus on your relationship, and do it with joy and gusto.

You can look through our blog posts for lots of other suggestions for how to connect and deepen your intimacy. Here, we want to share a few good ideas.

When you take time to focus on your relationship, you can make it intimate and meaningful by doing things like …

  • Ask each other Intimacy Questions
  • Do vulnerable heart shares
  • Use Repeated Questions to take you deeper
  • Make eye contact
  • Hold hands while on a walk
  • Chase each other for fun
  • Play games and make each other laugh
  • Make love
  • Take a relationship class

Any of those activities will help you keep your intimacy alive. And don’t forget #1, make sure to also take time and space apart.

Now, for taking an easy-access relationship class, here’s an idea for you:

We created a brand-new, 90-min virtual mini-workshop for couples, How To Replace Complaints And Criticism With Constructive Communication.

Would it help your intimacy if you could do that?

In this mini-workshop, we’ll help you:

* Stop the cycle of complaining

* Talk to your partner when you/they get upset

* Find compassion in disagreements

* Relieve tension and stress

* Learn techniques to de-escalate during arguments

* Use productive communication tools

* Get back to connection

Check it out and register here: https://loveworksforyou.com/how-to-replace-complaints-and-criticism-with-constructive-communication/

 

 

Posted in Communication, Couples, Love, Marriage | Comments Off on How To Keep Intimacy Alive While In Close Quarters