Category Archives: Couples

How To Make Your Wife Happy

During my years of relationship coaching, I can’t tell you how many men have said something like this to me: “If only I had a bullet point list of what to do to make her happy”.

In this brief post, I’ll give you just that, a bullet list with 6 points for what to do to make your wife or partner happy. Of course, you have to actually DO it to find out if it works, and not just once, but as an ongoing practice of relating.

With no further ado, we’re jumping right in.

#1 Engage in the relationship.

We men have a tendency to think that once we’ve gotten into a relationship, or once we’ve gotten married, we’re done. In the back our minds, we say, “Mission accomplished”, and give our attention to the next accomplishment. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the attitude of “I’m done” is responsible for countless love stories turning from sizzling hot to lukewarm to ice cold.

When there’s a kerfuffle, a conflict, or some sort of tension and upset, don’t back away or shut down. Instead, engage. Step in, even though your natural instinct might be to get the heck out of there. Engage and participate actively, both in the fun and sexy parts of the relationship, as well as the tedious or tense ones.

#2 Connect. Talk. Share.

One simple way to accomplish “connection” is to talk. Share about yourself, your day, how you feel, what you dream of, and what you’re afraid of. When she asks you how your day was or how you’re doing, answer in more than one word. To this day, I still sometimes have to remind myself of this, because it is so ingrained in me to just say, “Fine. Great. I’m good”, or another one-or-two syllable response.

It’s not that I’m trying to withhold information, it’s just that to my practical brain, “Fine” is a satisfying answer to “How are you doing?”

But it does not produce a sense of connection for my wife. Connection is produced by the back-and-forth passing of something, in this case words. It’s like throwing a baseball with a friend. Imagine you throw it to your friend, he catches it and then just keeps the ball. Boring game, right? To have a game, you have to keep throwing the ball between you. Same with connection and conversation with your wife. Catch the ball, then throw it back to her.

#3 Listen. Without taking stuff personally

The other side of talking and sharing is listening. Particularly, listening without taking her words personally. Granted, when she’s talking, your name might appear frequently in the content. When it does, don’t take it personally, and don’t jump to providing solutions to what you think her problem is.

If, for instance, she comes home after a long day at work, starts sharing about her challenging day, don’t jump to providing solutions that would make her feel better. Just let her talk and she’ll take herself home.

If during her share she says, “That guy at work is just like you …”, don’t jump in and defend yourself (or the guy at work). Don’t do anything, other than listen. The vast majority of times, she will sort out anything that needs sorting out and your listening helps her do that.

#4 Tell her she’s beautiful and special to you.

Not just with your words, with your actions too. For her to know that among all the people you could be in relationship with, you choose her to be your wife or partner, produces a tremendous sense of safety in her. It helps her relax, let her guard down, open up to you, and be with you.

Actually, this is great advice for anyone in relationship. Making your partner feel actively chosen basically confirms what our soul is longing to hear, and what our demons are always trying to convince us that we’re not.

#5 Give of yourself

When she asks you to do something with her or for her, either do it, or if you can’t or aren’t willing to do it, at least acknowledge that she asked or ask her questions about why she’s wanting you to do it. If you’re saying no to her, tell her what you would be willing to do, or when a better time is. Don’t just say no, ignore the request or turn away, because that will surely build a barrier between you.

Give your time and attention to her. Give your touch and adoration. Give your praise and encouragement. Not just for special occasions. Always. And especially when you’ve landed in a tense situation, or you haven’t been connecting much. Be the first to break the deadlock by giving of yourself.

#6 Hear her criticisms as a desire for more of you.

This relates to not taking her statements personally. Rather than arguing with the surface criticisms, respond to the deeper meaning of her communication. For instance, if she says, “We never do anything together! You never want to do anything with me!”, it’s easy to take it personally and want to defend yourself.

The deeper communication here is, “I miss you. I want to spend time with you. I love you. I want to be with you. I want more of you”. Those are good intentions and they basically tell you she loves you. If you’re skeptical about this interpretation, think about this way: If she didn’t give a shit, she wouldn’t even bother trying to get you to spend time with her! The logical conclusion, then, is that she cares about you.

There you have it, a short bullet list for how to make your wife happy. If you do these steps, there’s an excellent chance she’ll be really happy and think you’re a fabulous man for her. Don’t take my word for it, though. Try it out and see what happens. Show her this list and ask her about it.

And if you want to make her REALLY happy, take a small initiative that pertains directly to your relationship (per #1: Engage in the relationship).

Invite her to join you for our upcoming 90-minute mini-workshop, How To Stay In Love. It’s super easy, you do it from your couch or kitchen table. Takes the same time as a standard movie, so you still have your whole weekend.

Some of what you will learn and experience:

• Deep connection with your partner
• Insight into what has you feel love, loving, and loved
• Ideas for how to recreate that in-love feeling
• A powerful process for finding love in anger
• Concrete practices for how to stay in love

More info and register: https://loveworksforyou.com/how-to-stay-in-love 

Posted in Communication, Couples, Marriage, Men, Women | Comments Off on How To Make Your Wife Happy

How To Make Your Husband Happy

How often do spouses wonder how to make their partner happy? Do you ever wonder how to make your husband happy? Does it sometimes seem that what you’re doing must not be working, because he doesn’t seem all that happy?

(Next week, we’ll publish a post about making your wife happy)

Making your husband happy is one of those instances that often seem difficult, but at its essence is quite simple. I’ll give you a brief 4-point list for how to make him happy. Don’t take my word for; try it out and see what happens. I use all four as a permanent part of my marriage and I have a very happy husband (editor’s note: Christian here, she’s telling the truth:-)

Without further ado, here we go:

#1 Tell him he’s a good man!

I have seen countless men burst into tears when they finally get to hear this from their wife/partner. Men are working so hard to make us happy and to do the right thing, so when they get to hear “You’re a good man”, it touches them deeply.

Men often have a very hard time believing their own worth, so it really helps when they can hear it from you, the person who’s opinion they care about the most.

#2 Give him points for effort.

Giving points for effort means to appreciate him for what he does do, instead of pointing out all the things he doesn’t do. It means to give appreciation even when he makes a gesture that doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. Give appreciation for trying.

Many men have a strong internal critic, so whenever they hear even a tiny bit of criticism from you, it’s as if it invalidates everything they did do, and they end up feeling inadequate and unappreciated.

The more you appreciate your husband for what he does do, the more it inspires him to want to do more, give more, because men are motivated by the reward of appreciation and the result of you being happy.

Appreciation is more effective than criticism, only 100% of the time!

#3 Respect his choices

How often does your husband do something you simply don’t get? Where you might be shaking your head?

It’s crucial to realize that everything he does makes sense from his point of view. There is a reason for everything he does, even if you don’t understand or approve of that reason.

At the very least, when he make a choice you don’t understand, get curious about his motivations, ask him about it instead of condemning it. You can even be his sparring partner and constructively challenge his choices and decisions, but make sure your challenge is delivered in that spirit, and doesn’t become a polished way to criticize.

When you respect his choices, he feels respected and will in turn have much higher regard for you.

#4 Share your physical affection and appreciation

When we lead our sex workshops, one of things that surprises and touches me every time is how poetic, loving and spiritual men become when they talk about what sex and physical affection gives them.

In stark contrast to the stereotype that men only want sex to “get off” or that they just want you for your body, they will describe how profoundly it touches and resets them when they get to share sex and touch with you.

So when we say yes to sex and touch, it fills them up in ways we might never understand. Plus, it feels good to us when we make love too; to get in our bodies and enjoy our sensual connection. Of course, this doesn’t mean you are somehow obligated, but say yes whenever you can. I do, and I appreciate it every time I do.

That’s it for now … if you take on these 4 simple steps you will definitely see results in terms of a happier husband.

Let me know how it goes for you.

<3 Sonika

PS. Here’s a chance for a deeper connection with your partner:

We all know how anger and hurt can take us out of love. And we all know how better it feels to be in love. So how do we stay in love? How can we get back to love when we get hurt or angry?

In this mini-workshop for couples, uncover what produces that “in-love” feeling, and discover how to get back to love, even when someone gets hurt or angry.

Some of what you will learn and experience:

  • Deep connection with your partner
  • Insight into what has you feel love, loving, loved
  • Ideas for how to recreate that in-love feeling
  • A powerful process for finding love in anger
  • Concrete practices for how to stay in love

Find out more here: https://loveworksforyou.com/how-to-stay-in-love/

Posted in Communication, Couples, Marriage, Men, Respect, Trust | Comments Off on How To Make Your Husband Happy

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

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 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

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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/

 

 

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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 Communication, Couples, Dating, Marriage, Relationship | 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 Communication, Conflicts, Couples, Marriage, Relationship | Comments Off on How To Remain On The Same Team During The Coronavirus Times

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 Communication, Couples, Love, Marriage | 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 Communication, Conflicts, Couples, Marriage | Comments Off on How to deal with financial stress in a relationship during Coronavirus (Covid-19)