Category Archives: Dating

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

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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!

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From Wanting To Having Love And Happiness

Most of us spend more time than we might like to admit wishing for something to be different in our relationships. We want more engagement, less fighting, more sex, less distance, more intimacy, less time watching TV, more appreciation, less criticism, more dates, fewer nights at home alone, more communication, less silence, etc.

We don’t just want our relationships to be different. We want our lives to be different, too. We want a bigger house, a faster computer, more money, more clothes, more vacations, a skinnier healthier body, a younger look, and lots of better, newer stuff.

We are so accustomed to wishing and longing for more and different – whether in our relationship, work, money, kids, body, etc. – that we don’t even recognize that we are spending our precious lives in a state of constant wanting. This wanting manifests in our experience as unhappiness, dissatisfaction, boredom or loneliness. We feel like we are missing or lacking something important.

There is something I realized a long time ago that has proven to be pivotal for living a fulfilling and happy life:

Wanting and having cannot exist in the same space at the same time.

I think of life as a house with two rooms, the Wanting Room and the Having Room. The Having Room is the room in which we are engaged in life and love.

Just like in a real house, you are either in one room or the other; you cannot be in two rooms at the same time.

Unfortunately, when we want our lives to be different and the people we love to change, we are in the Wanting Room.

When we are in the Wanting Room, we inevitably produce unhappiness for ourselves. Our focus on lack and what is missing keeps us from noticing and appreciating what we have. It throws us into a state of resistance to our current reality and has us believe we are powerless victims stuck in unwanted situations, unable to powerfully create what we want.

Think about it. You only want stuff you don’t have, right? The mere wanting of anything is a declaration that you don’t have it. So when you reside in the Wanting Room, you’re likely to have internal conversations like, Why can’t I make my relationship work? Where are all the good men? My husband never talks to me. I wish I looked younger. Just to mention a few examples.

The Having Room, on the other hand, is where you get to enjoy experiences, where you harvest and partake in the fruits of your labor, where you appreciate what you have and count your blessings. It’s the difference between wishing you had an apple, and actually biting into an apple and enjoying the blast of taste and sensation as you do it.

Life is just better when you occupy the Having Room. So how can you do that? We’ll give some ideas here, and share a few real-life examples.

One way to shift from Wanting to Having is to take notice of and express your gratitude and appreciation for what you do have, even if you have very little. What is working in your relationship? What do you adore about your partner? What would you miss about your spouse if he or she suddenly vanished? What do you take for granted that you are grateful for? And tell them.

Another way to shift from Wanting to Having is to ask the question, “If I already had what I wanted, what would I do or say right now?” This question tricks your mind into imagining that you already have what you want, and enables you to bring to mind actions that you can take right now that are consistent with what you want to create for yourself. When you take those actions, you step into having the experience that you were longing for in the Wanting Room.

For example, if you are struggling with intimacy in your relationship and you want more connection with your partner, you can ask yourself, “If I were connected and intimate with my partner, what would I do or say right now?” Trust me, an answer will pop up in your mind. This question will move you towards creating more intimacy with your partner and thrust you into the Having Room.

At our last workshop, a woman was angry with her husband for something he said that triggered her. She was missing the close connection they were sharing before he said it and was now in the Wanting Room feeling disconnected from her man. When we asked her what she would do if she felt close and connected like before, she said she would go over to him and put her head on his shoulder and her hand on his knee. So we encouraged her to do that. As soon as she sat down next to him, her face lit up like a light bulb and a smile spread across her face. She was back in the Having Room (and you can imagine how he responded to that gesture:-).

A single woman called me for coaching, very distraught and lonely after her last relationship ended. She had a hard time getting out of bed and she was scared she’d never find love again. She was solidly anchored in the Wanting Room. During our conversation, I asked her, “If you knew you were going to be fine, and you would definitely find love again with a wonderful man, what might you do right now?” Her first response was, “I’d get out of bed and go to the gym!”

Just like that, back in the Having Room (And sure, this does not fix or deal with her entire situation, but it’s definitely a vast improvement over being in bed, depressed).

Just to be clear, wanting isn’t bad. That is where the best of our creative ideas show up! Wanting is the start of any improvement in life. You just don’t want to get stuck in wanting! Be there long enough to uncover what you want to create! Use your wanting to connect you to your desires and dreams. Then use that discovery to spark and move you into having, into action.

Everything you want – all of the connection, love, peace, fulfillment and joy you desire – lives in the Having Room.

If you find yourself stuck in wanting your relationship to be different, check out our Give Yourself to Love live relationship training. We will teach you how to step into having the life and relationship you long for and deserve. Click here for more info …

 

 

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Do You Wonder If You Could Do Better In The Relationship Department?

Do you ever wonder if you could do better in the relationship department? If you could find a better partner than the person you are currently dating or are married to? Somebody who is less critical, more open to sex, more successful, playful, and intimate?

In this day and age where we can pre-order products to our specifications and have them arrive overnight on our doorstep, where images of gorgeous young lovers madly in love are plastered on billboards and movies with increasing regularity, and where expectations for marriage bliss are at a all time record high, it is easy for us regular people to feel disappointed with substandard partners who are less than perfect at satisfying our fairy tale picture of our every dream come true.

Sleepless in Seattle was a classic depiction of a woman in an ordinary relationship with a man she knows intimately well. He farts, burps, snores, unceremoniously gives her his grandmother’s ring when he asks her to marry him, and makes unremarkable love to her. But it is clear he is a sweet nice guy who loves her deeply and would do anything for her. All the while, she secretly longs to be swept off her feet in romantic bliss by a handsome mysterious hunk from another city, and when presented with that possibility, dumps her fiancé in the middle of a Valentine’s Day dinner for an upgraded male model.

This schism between our actual experience and our fantasy of relationships is not so far off from what many men and women experience in dating and marriage. There is a rampant secret longing for that illusive something “better”, no one seems to be above it, and it is contributing to immense dissatisfaction in relationship, plus a 45-50% divorce rate.

It is not anyone’s fault really. We are impacted by high cultural expectations for marriage. We want everything that we expected in traditional marriage in terms of companionship and economic support and family life and social status. And we also want what romantic marriage brought us – a sense of belonging, connection, intimacy, a best friend, a play buddy, a trusted confidant and a passionate lover. And we also now have a desire for self-fulfillment in our relationships, for personal development and the realization of our full potential. And let’s not forget, that we want to find our soul mate too, a word that for most of history was reserved to God, someone with whom we can experience mystical transcendental oneness and bliss.

That is a lot to put on one person … on one single relationship.

Are these high expectations, in this age of customization, keeping us from being happy in our relationships? Would we benefit from lowering our expectations and standards? Would we benefit from choosing to make the best of our relationships as they are? Might we gain more by putting energy and time into improving our existing relationship rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater and starting over?

One of the first suggestions we offer to unhappy couples is to complain less and appreciate more. It shifts a couple’s attention off of what is missing on to what is wonderful and working, and this simple shift in focus often quickly replaces dissatisfaction with an experience of satisfaction, gratitude and love. This is an important first step – to make ourselves “satisfiable”.

Research suggests that the more choices and options we have, the less happy and fulfilled we are, the less satisfiable. Certainly, the more expectations and specifications any of us have for what we want in relationship, the less likely we are to find someone who is a match to them, and the less likely we are to experience satisfaction once we are in relationship.

Because, honestly, no one is perfect – no one can be everything we need and want all the time.

Yet sometimes, ending a relationship and starting over is exactly what is needed for us to be happier and more fulfilled. Certainly, some of us (like myself) who have divorced and remarried, know intimately the benefits of a more aligned and better matched partnership!

Where is that line between unreasonable expectation, reasonable preference, non-negotiable deal breakers, being grateful for what we have and dancing gracefully with what shows up?

While there are no easy answers to the complexity of our current day relationships, we can strive to be aware of our tendency to compare what we have to unachievable standards and to be tentative about throwing away perfectly good relationships.

 
 
 
 
 
  
  
 

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Valentines Day In Many Ways

Yippppeee, Valentine’s Day is almost upon us! A chance to express our love!

Granted, some of you might approach Valentines Day with considerable dread, either because you don’t know what to do, because you don’t have anyone to spend it with, or because you feel obligated to do or buy something even though you don’t really want to – you know, get the hearts out, send flowers, buy chocolates, purchase a Hallmark card, reserve dinner at a fancy restaurant, and generally be blinded by all the pink!

Conventionally, Valentine’s Day is a day to express love for a romantic partner.

But we need not limit ourselves. Remember when we used to make Valentine’s cards for our friends in school? That’s right. Love is not relegated to only lovers.

We love our friends, our children and grandchildren, our extended family, previous lovers, co-workers, clients, teachers – as well as our primary partner if we have one.

There is also our relationship with ourselves. How many times a year do we take the chance to celebrate and love ourselves? Give ourselves a luxurious bubble bath or take ourselves out to a nice dinner or indulge in a lovely massage? How often do we take time to say out loud what we appreciate about who we are?

And then there is our relationship with God or Spirit or the Great Mystery or the Universe or whatever words you choose to use for this miracle life of ours. How often do we give thanks for just being alive? For living a blessed life? For the sun and moon and rain and air and land and animals?

There’s a multitude of places to express our love and gratitude. By all means do it with your lover, spouse or primary partner, but that doesn’t have to be the extent of it.

Not only that, but love is free. We can express our love in a myriad of different ways that do not require buying anything at all.

When we express our love, and become a vehicle for love’s voice, not only do we help others to feel special, but we feel the positive effects of stepping into love too. When we reach out and do something that communicates the depth of our love and appreciation, we ourselves are uplifted!

Valentine’s Day provides a great excuse for us to express our love. It is a chance to do something we may never have done before to show our appreciation.

Aside from the conventional Valentine’s Day practices, we thought we would help you brainstorm a list of things you can do to make this Valentine’s Day special. Feel free to steal one or more of the ideas listed below or invent something else!

• Write a love song or a poem and deliver it in person.
• Make a Valentine from scratch out of paper, glue and craft supplies
• Call a loved one and leave a mystery love message
• Make a list of what you love about that person that corresponds with how many years you have known that person
• Have a picnic on the floor of your living room by candlelight
• Set up a table with table cloth and flowers outside and eat take-out in a park, or on your porch.
• Serve cake and ice cream or some other delectable desert before dinner
• Put on your favorite dance music and dance
• Take a walk in the moonlight and share your happiest memories
• Feed each other your entire meal without utensils
• Text someone something you will always treasure and never forget about them
• Write a letter to someone about how they have touched your heart or changed your life
• Offer your partner a foot or back rub to soft music while delivering appreciations
• Take a bath by candlelight
• Write a love letter to yourself about what you appreciate
• Forgive someone for something you have been hanging onto and tell them
• Make a bonfire outside and sing love songs under the stars
• Run up to someone as if you haven’t seen them for a long time, pick them up, twirl them and tell them how lucky you are to know them
• Make a list of 10 intimacy and love questions to ask and answer
• Invite your non-Valentine’s friends over and have a non-Valentine’s hangout.
• With family or friends, take turns saying what you love about each person
• Leave love notes in secret hiding places all around the house
• Make a video or book of what you love

Notice that all of these ideas are simple. They are more about creating a special memorable experience than about spending money on something fancy or doing something you always do by rote or that you think you should do.

We encourage you to take time this Valentine’s to come up with a creative, fun, and unique way to express your love – not only to your loved ones, but to people in your life that you care about and wish to appreciate, including yourself!

Don’t forget. Love is free, and the more we give, the more we get.

Make this Valentine’s Day one to remember! And once Valentine’s has come and gone, remember there are 364 other days in the year to express your love.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Until One Is Committed …

Christian and I weren’t feeling well. Christian had just gotten over a 10-day flu, and I could tell by my run down body and cough that I was working hard to fight it. We had two talks scheduled that week and a workshop. We did them anyway.

While sick and recovering, neither of us felt like being intimate. We hadn’t been sexual for a week and we could tell we both really needed the physical connection, even though we still didn’t feel like it. We made love anyway.

When our daughter’s other mother insisted we do the necessary repairs on our house for mold remediation, we didn’t want to.

Tearing up our house, living in disrepair and spending money on said repairs were not on our list of priorities. We did them anyway.

Our daughter had a horse show in Davis last weekend and our son and his girlfriend wanted to meet up to walk through the Dixon corn maze. We didn’t really want to do either activity, but we went anyway.

When Christian and I first met, we were not what we each were looking for. He wasn’t looking for a mature 47 year-old professional from California with two children, and I wasn’t looking for an unemployed, broke 32 year-old with little relationship experience who lived in Denmark. But we got married anyway.

Why? Why would we do what we didn’t feel like doing? Why would we marry someone who didn’t match our picture of the ideal partner?

Because we were committed to something greater than ourselves.

Commitment is often the difference between being successful or not. One of my favorite passages reads, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness….”

When you’re not committed, it’s easy to walk away when differences, obstacles or problems arise. There is no commitment to stay in there and work through them. Even minor differences show up as deal breakers, as reasons to give up.

But when you’ve already made a commitment, those same differences or problems are just the next thing to work through. When you don’t give yourself the option to walk away, you begin to explore and notice options and solutions that can only show up inside a committed conversation.

EVERY relationship has differences! Every relationship has problems! Nobody is exactly the same as you. Life is not always easy. Everyone encounters tough times.

When you are committed, you use differences and challenging times to expand yourself into new territory, to deepen your understanding of others, to creatively come up with win/win solutions, to bring you closer to yourself and another human being, to walk hand in hand through life’s varied experiences.

When you’re not committed, you use differences and challenging situations as justifications to back off, disappear, avoid, and distance which can keep you stuck and actually prevent you from getting what you REALLY want.

When you’re committed, your focus in relationship is all about give AND take. You remember that your partner’s needs are as important as yours, and you lean in towards solutions that deepen your connection in relationship.

When you’re not committed, your focus tends to be on yourself and what you are getting or not getting. “Are my needs getting met here? Will I get the kind of relationship I want if I choose you?” There is very little attention on the other person. We don’t think to ask, “What is your most important need? What can I do to help you get your needs met? How can I help you feel loved?”

We are generally afraid that we will lose something or get less of what we want if and when we commit. But truthfully, we get MORE of what we want when we commit.

There is infinite freedom inside of commitment. When we choose or decide a course of action, when we marry or buy a house or commit to a job, endless new openings and possibilities arise within that decision!

Imagine standing in an aisle at the grocery store, picking out peanut butter. There are many different kinds: crunchy or smooth, salted or unsalted, Valencia or Spanish or Virginia, with or without sugar, organic or not, and several different brands of various combinations.

Only after choosing ONE kind, do you have the freedom to do different things with it and create new experiences: bake cookies, eat it by the spoonful, slather it on celery slices, make a PB&J sandwich, etc.

The same is true in relationships. Until you choose ONE person, even with “differences”, you can’t discover all of the fun, loving ways you can interact with that person and all of the creative solutions you can come up with for how to work through the conflicts that arise between you!

We were speaking with a woman who has been single for five years, clear that she does not want to date a man who is into sports because she hates sports. So every time she finds out a man is into sports, she writes him off and moves on. But if she fell in love with and committed to a man who enjoyed sports, they would work it out!

Christian and I have our differences and conflicts, just like most couples. One way we are different, is he doesn’t like musicals and I don’t like rock and roll. But now that we are married, I sometimes listen to Queen and he sometimes goes with me to musicals and we actually enjoy ourselves! Or sometimes I go out with friends to musicals and he rocks out to loud music on his ear-buds. Point is we make the differences work because we are committed to making them work!

I realized a long time ago, that to commit to someone or something is really a hidden declaration to myself that I WILL make good on that commitment. I trust myself to come through no matter what, to stay in there and creatively figure out a way to keep my word and do what I committed to.

Yes, of course, as with all things, there are exceptions – times when it may be the right action to back out of a commitment or renegotiate a promise. If that is the case, when you do, it is important to make sure to take care of the other person or persons as best as possible, to take care of their concerns so as not to break trust or damage your relationship with them.

Commitment is powerful. It calls you to rise in ways you might not otherwise. It summons amazing resourcefulness and creativity. Synergy becomes possible. Miracles show up.

We believe that you can always commit to something. Commit to being completely transparent about whatever you are thinking and feeling. Commit to allowing other people to have their experiences and feelings. Commit to asking for and creating what you want. Commit to creating win/win solutions so your partner gets what they want too. Commit to showing up no matter how you feel. Commit to some project or goal and don’t stop until you achieve it!

When you find something big enough to commit to, obstacles are merely steps along the way to your dream. Without commitment, obstacles stop you on your path.

We encourage you to create a commitment “frame” through which to live life. What if you couldn’t walk away? What if the person you are with is the perfect person for you to be with right now? What solutions / opportunities would you see around the difficulties you are facing? How could you use this situation to help you grow?

I’ll leave you with our favorite quote on Commitment:

“…Until one is committed, there is hesitancy,
the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’”

W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

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Complaining For Change

“You don’t listen to me!”
“What are you talking about, I’m right here in front of you … “

Sonika and I did a presentation this week for a group of couples and singles in Sacramento. We played out a typical interaction between partners. One of the couples in the group said, “We literally had that exact same fight this week. Have you guys been in our house?”

We hadn’t been in their house:) But we have been inside their relationship, and thousands of other relationships.

The conversation went something like this:

“You don’t listen to me!”
“What are you talking about, I’m right here in front of you … “
“That’s not the point. Look at you, with your arms crossed, all stiff, you’re not really listening”
“Want me to repeat every word you just said?”
“No! You’re being all defensive, can you just listen for once?”
“So I’m not doing it right, is that it? It doesn’t matter what I do, it’s not right for you!”
“See, you’re doing it again! Making it all about you when I’m trying to tell you something about me”
“Well, if you actually cared about what I think … “

From here, you can imagine how the rest of the interaction goes. More arguing back and forth, more disconnection as each one tries to get their point across.

A simple argument like this illustrates what pretty much every person in this world does to problem solve their relationship:

They bring up an issue they think needs to change, in this example, “You don’t listen to me”.

When I’m the one bringing up an issue, I think I’m just presenting an obvious problem, in a calm and reasonable manner.

But in the ears and eyes of the recipient, “bringing up an issue” like this sounds like nothing but complaining, blaming, and criticizing.

Why do I bring up an issue? In the hopes it’ll improve our relationship. In the hopes that you’ll get my point, agree with me, and change your behavior (to one I like better).

We call this strategy Complaining For Change.

Everyone uses this strategy in every relationship. With spouses, dates, ex’s, co-workers, employees, family members, you name it.

It’s like a bad movement that went viral long before anyone heard of Facebook.

It’s the #1 default strategy we use to improve our relationships. And it consequently, always, no-exceptions-ever, backfires.

The whole strategy rests upon a fantasy. The fantasy is, if you say, “You don’t listen” to your partner, that he’ll go, “Really! OMG, I’m so sorry I haven’t been listening you to. I’m such a doofus. You deserve to be listened to all the time, and every word you speak is gold to me. I promise it will never happen again, I’m really sorry about that, I love you, baby! Tell me again, what did you want me to hear?”

But has that ever happened in real life?

Nope, never!

We use the example of “You don’t listen”, but you can insert any other topic or issue.

“Am I the only one cleaning up around here?”
“Do you really have to spend that much money on clothes?”
“We really need to talk about the stuff in the garage!”
“Why don’t you want have sex anymore?”
“You’re going out with your friends again!?”

Or with our kids, we say things like, “Your room is a mess”, with the fantasy that they’ll go, “Oh, I’m sorry, dad, I’ll get it cleaned up right now, thanks for telling me”.

What actually does happen when someone tells you, “You never listen to me”? Do you want to listen more? Or less? What actually happens when you tell your kids, “Your room is a mess”? Defensiveness, resistance, more arguing.

When we complain for change, we make things worse.

As a matter of fact, we end up with less of the very thing we were trying to get more of. It produces the exact opposite of what we were hoping for.

“You never listen” produces less listening.
“Why don’t we ever have sex anymore?” produces less sex (Think about it, are you more or less attracted to your partner when he/she says that?)

Complaining For Change is basically a relationship tragedy.

It’s meant to make our relationships better, with more love, connection, and friendship. But instead it grinds down our love, patience, and good will and produces more of the problems we’re trying to solve.

So what to do instead?

We recommend two simple tips (granted, not always so simple to practice).

1. Quit Complaining For Change
2. Find and deliver specific appreciations

We mean #1 very literally. Just quit it. Knock if off. Don’t ever do it again.

Next time you catch yourself complaining, you’re better off zipping it and not saying another word.

Because everything you say after that point is only taking your further down a negative rabbit hole. You already know you’re not going to like where it’s taking you, so stop going in that direction.

As to #2, find and deliver specific appreciations, it’s the fastest and most effective antidote to Complaining For Change. It’s like kryptonite.

Sure, it’s not meant to fix all your relationship issues, nor are we recommending that you don’t deal with your legitimate challenges. But until you have a better method than complaining, you’re better off not talking about your problems and making things worse.

Whether it’s your spouse, date, brother, sister, anyone, find something to appreciate about that person and tell them.

Appreciations are to human beings like water and sun is to a plant. Without them, we wilt. With appreciations, we puff up and shine. Delivering appreciations uplifts the other person and supports them to be and bring out their best.

More importantly, it forces your mind to look for something you like in your life. It gets your focus off of what you don’t like. Every time you find something specific to appreciate, you’re reminding yourself that you actually have some of what you want in your life and relationships, that it is not all crap, and that uplifts YOU.

Every appreciation feeds BOTH of you, and you actually begin to create an upward spiral of positivity in your relationship.

This appreciation practice will disappear a good bunch of your problems. Most breakdowns stem from one or both of you not feeling seen, loved, valued and appreciated. As for the rest of your issues, your head and heart will be in a much better place to deal with … anything. With love and appreciation as the frame, it is more possible to work on your challenges together or by yourself.

Try it. Many couples have saved their marriages from implementing these two steps alone. Parents have had breakthroughs with their children. Co-workers have had miraculous shifts in their relationships at work.

And then get help for effectively dealing with the genuine conflicts and problems that inevitably show up in every relationship. So you can use them to bring you closer to one another, instead of farther apart!

For that purpose, consider attending our two-day Give Yourself to Love training. It offers powerful cutting-edge paradigm shifts and practical tools for improving relationships that stay with you for the rest of your relationship life!

You can save $700 per ticket in October!

More here: loveworksforyou.com/gytl

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Valentine’s Day All Year!

Couple in love

Yipiiee, V-Day is almost upon us. Time to get the hearts out, send flowers, buychocolates, reserve dinner tables, buy gifts, and make it a special day.

Granted, some of you approach V-Day with considerable dread, either because you don’t know what to do, because you don’t have anyone to spend it with, or because you’re feeling obligated with no true desire to do anything.

[By the way, this post was inspired by our upcoming free evening, Stay In Love: Valentines Day Every Day.
Check it out here … ]

Either way, think about what’s great about V-Day. In the best-case scenario, what is it that’s so wonderful about a day like that?

Well, it’s kinda like being in love again. You make someone feel special. You go out of your way to come up with a delightful evening together. You finally go that that restaurant you’ve been thinking about. You come up with surprises! And of course, someone might make you feel very special, attractive, and loved. Can’t beat that! Just for a day, you feel a bit of magic!

Now, that’s probably a pretty good description of how your relationship was in the beginning, when you were madly in love, and perhaps still dating. You’d do one or all of the above actions for her, right? He’d come up with delicious surprises for you. Magic. For days and weeks and months, however long the “Honeymoon” lasted for you.

Sonika & I have one big quest for ourselves and all the couples and singles we work with: To have the magic and loveliness of Valentine’s never go away!

Way too often, the way your relationship goes follows this sequence in time:

Wow-I’m-so-in-Love-you’re-perfect-to-me => Wow-now-we-live-together-it’s-still-cool-but-quite-different => Wow-I-thought-it’d-be-easier-than-this => Wow-is-this-the-person-I-fell-in-love-with? => Alright-darn-it-I’ll-book-a-table-for-Valentine’s => Can-we-go-back-to-sleep-now?

Or something to that effect. I know I put that in a humorous way, but it’s not actually very funny, because it’s so sad and painful when it’s YOUR relationship.

So for Valentine’s Day, we’ll give you the simplest, most super efficient tip ever to have a relationship that has a lot more Valentine’s spirit to it!

Ready?

Don’t ever stop doing what you did in the beginning, when you were still in love. And if you’re at a point where you’ve long since stopped all that, start doing it again. Just pick one thing you used to do when you first were courting, and do it again! Then pick another next week. I promise you, it’ll produce great results.

Don’t think too much about it … just pick one and do it. And never mind if it’s a week before V-Day, or a month after. Your partner won’t mind.

I just scheduled Sonika & I for a 4-week dance class (West Coast swing, if you’re interested). Yesterday, we came up with finding retreats or spas within driving distance and reserving a weekend on the first one we find.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to start doing again what you should have never stopped!

And if you can, come join us for our free evening, Stay In Love: Valentine’s Day Every Day.

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We’re Incompatible! It’ll Never Work!

Have you ever had a fight or disagreement with your partner, and then found yourself thinking, or saying, “We’re just not compatible! It’s never going to work out!”?

We can’t tell you how many times we hear – especially from new couples – someone telling us that they had another disagreement and it’s just “clear that it’s not working out”.

What then follows is a swift breakup, and on to the next relationship (which somehow often ends up being with someone else who’s not “compatible”)

But …. nine times out of ten, the “We’re not compatible” conversation is nothing but a distraction. Instead of dealing with the problem at hand, i.e. whatever the disagreement or fight was about, you’re now focused on the imminent breakup, and what future partner you might find who’d be better suited, and all kinds of other stuff that ISN’T the problem at hand.

Our advice to you is to never talk about breakups and incompatibility in the heat of fights or breakdowns. First deal with the breakdown, work it out. Get help from people like us if you need it. Once you’ve gained whatever personal growth benefit from dealing with the situation, and you’re calm again, then you can decide to break up, if that’s still the proper course of action. But often, once you deal and heal the situation, you’ll find you don’t want to break up, because now you’ll be feeling in love again!

SPEAKING OF IN LOVE AGAIN ….

Come check out our uplifting approach to love and relationship in person at our In Love Again free evening presentations. We have two dates scheduled, Oct 9 and 30.
Check it out and register here ….

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Opening to Love When I Feel Shut Down

When I find myself closed off to love and to life, my husband’s gentle presence helps me to soften and re-open my heart and my body.

 By Sonika Tinker

Christian and I had been busy. Distracted. More in our heads than our hearts and bodies. It didn’t help that we had an incomplete communication in the space – nothing major, but enough to create distance between us. Our bodies had a few weird aches and pains. We weren’t experiencing much flow in our workday, either. We felt a bit flat and off. I was definitely not in my feminine receptive loving flow – more in my masculine “doingness.”

So, last night, we told the truth. Cleared the incomplete communication. Shared our respective feelings of “flat” and “off.” We looked squarely at the changes that need to be made in our business to re-energize us and free us up to do the work we love. We honestly confronted the risks we have been avoiding stepping into.

And then came time for the very much needed “sinking-into” our hearts and bodies with each other in lovemaking.

I surprisingly felt a bit of dread about the whole thing. My body was so closed that mostly I felt like I didn’t want to open. I didn’t want to melt. I could watch my mind wanting to rush out to the kitchen to eat something, to watch something on TV, to check my phone or email for messages – anything to avoid sinking and melting.

I gave in to my mind and left the room. Ate an apple and responded to an email. But I couldn’t put off the inevitable forever.

So, eventually, when it was time for bed, I put on a shirt as a sign of sorts of my guarded, un-open heart. I dared to tell the truth about my resistance to opening. I told Christian I didn’t want to open to him.

Now, thank God, I am with a man who knows my deeper yearning: to melt into love and God through our bodies and hearts in sex. To let go of resistance and be fully present. To love and be fully open in my heart.

So he doesn’t pay much attention to my words, because he is listening to what is underneath my words: “Take me.” “Make me open.” “Melt my closed heart with your love.”

And so he meets my resistance with his strong, yet gentle, persistent presence. I feel the strength of his hands and body as he wraps his arms around me and holds me close.

I push him away, but he stays with me. He kisses my face and neck and keeps holding me.

He kisses me and senses my closed lips. He tries to tease me out. But I turn away from his eyes and lips and try to hide in his chest.

He stops for just a second to see if I am serious, to check if he really should back off. I love that about him — his heightened awareness and sensitivity to my body language and non-verbal communication. His checking in enables me to feel safe. I know if I really wanted him to back off that he would.

But deep inside myself, underneath this closed heart and body, is a desire to truly open and surrender to love, to melt. So I encourage him to stay, to continue to love me in spite of my “shut down.”

He needs that reassurance to proceed. It helps him stay present, helps him know he is doing the right thing.

Quickly reassured, he keeps being there with me, relentless with his kisses and eyes and touch. He knows I will eventually open, that I won’t be able to keep resisting his love, his approaches…

And he is right.

Within minutes, I start to cry. Then sob. My whole body releases the build-up of tension and resistance in my cells through my unstoppable tears. I can feel my body relax more and more through my crying, and my heart begins to soften. He just keeps holding me, telling me it is good that I am crying. He knows that my tears are essential to my opening.

The tears eventually stop, and then I am laughing and looking at him and touching him and opening my mouth and heart and yoni to him, and he meets me there. In this sweet soft open loving powerful presence place. And in the end we are melted and soft, a puddle of love, laying in each other’s arms.

We appreciate God and each other, for this delightful place of love and softness and strength and presence where all is well and good and right….

It never ceases to amaze me how I need to cry to soften myself out of masculine and back into my flowing easy open feminine heart. If he didn’t stay with me—if he took my resistance personally and stopped and turned away—I would never get to drop down into my tears and melt. We would never get to wash away all of the “disconnect” and “re-set” ourselves back to LOVE.

How grateful I am for the transformational power of Presence. And for having a man in my life who can funnel that presence through his eyes and body and call forth the deepest parts of my love. Blessed be.

This experience is a great example of the Law of Attraction: Because we both keep our sights on what we REALLY want – love, connection, pleasure, ease, joy – we don’t allow the “offness” and disconnection to win. We go for love winning!

 

This article appeared in the July 2013 issue of Law of Attraction Magazine.
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