Menstuff® has compiled information and books
on the issue of Relationships. This section is an
archive of Susie and Otto Collins's weekly column
featured daily on our homepage. They are spiritual
and life partners who are committed to helping
others create outstanding relationships of all
kinds. They regularly write, speak and conduct
workshops and seminars on love, relationships and
personal and spiritual growth to audiences all
across the USA.
They are the creators of the "Relationship
Toolkit" which has helped people in over a dozen
countries improve their relationships. It includes
a video called Spiritual
Partnerships plus two booklets Love
and Relationship Success Secrets and 101
Relationship Quotes Worth a Million Dollars!
You can also read more articles like these and
subscribe to their weekly newsletter on love and
relationships by visiting their web site at
new E-book Should You Stay or Should You Go?
has just been released and is now available
Avoiding Dust In Your
Being Conscious of the
Differences in Ourselves and Others!
Breaking those old relationship
Building Trust In
Can Chocolate really
bring passion back into your life?
Celebrating Those Baby
Don't Take A Vacation From
Have You Got an
How Much do You
If Only. .
Is Silence really
The Miracle of Choosing
Moving beyond your
No Time For Love? Think
The Power of Opening
The Process of Moving
Trust--'I'm Sorry' just isn't enough
Staying open and not losing
What are your
What Happens after you Find
"Why The "Golden
Rule" is Wrong In Relationships
Withdrawing and Pushing in
Withdrawing and Pushing in
Relationships" Part 2
Avoiding Dust In
A few weeks ago, Susie's daughter was in her car,
sitting at a red light and a man began honking his
horn and waving at her. Since she didn't know him,
she assumed that he was angry and wanted her to run
the red light! When they stopped at the next red
light, he was in the lane beside her and he rolled
down his window to talk with her. Since she was
still thinking he was going to yell at her, she
felt herself becoming more nervous and tense.
What he wanted to tell her was that her gas cap
was on the top of her car! She had just pumped her
own gas at a station and had not replaced the
What she feared to be "road rage" was simply a
man trying to help her.
Isn't this what we do in our relationships? We
assume we know what the other person is thinking or
feeling or what is important to them without
stopping to ask them.
The other night at a concert, a friend.
wonderful songwriter and performer Charley Thweatt
used the analogy of dust collecting to describe
what happens in relationships when you don't deal
with issues as they come up. Pretty soon, dust
collects and it's very difficult to have honest,
open communication because of it.
One of the reasons that "dust" collects in
relationships is the unexpressed assumptions that
have been made by each person that may or may not
be true. The reason we make assumptions is that our
fears for what may happen in the relationship won't
allow us to address issues as they come up.
What we try to do to avoid "dust" collecting in
our relationship is to listen to each other without
assuming and without being critical. When one of
our "hot buttons" has been pressed by the other
person, we try not to immediately make assumptions
about the other's intentions. Instead, when an
issue comes up, we talk about it together as soon
as we can after we realize that an "issue" has come
up. We explore what each of us is feeling, thinking
and find out what's going on within.
We've discovered that when you do this in
relationship, you no longer make assumptions
because you know that honest communication will
prevent any "dust" from accumulating between
So this week we suggest that instead of assuming
you know someone's intentions and thoughts that you
get out your dust mop and ask!!
Relationship Quote of the
"We can let go of fear when we stop judging and
stop projecting the past into the future, and live
only in the now." Dr. Gerald Jampolsky
Do you trust who you are in relationship with? Now,
the answer seems pretty obvious if you are in a
relationship with someone, but is it?
The truth is that you can be in a relationship
with someone for years but not truly trust
them--not be open to them.
We'll give you an example of this dynamic in
action--In the beginning of our relationship, Otto
started writing about marketing ideas. Because
Susie is a much better editor than he is, he would
ask for her help. He always became very defensive
when Susie edited what he wrote and it would take
some time to get past the "trust" issue of feeling
criticized unfairly. He would take the criticism of
the work personally instead of understanding that
she was just trying to make the project better.
Even though we have felt like we were soulmates
from the beginning of our relationship, there are
issues from past relationships that creep in from
time to time--and this was one of them.
Some people believe that when you enter into new
relationships, you are starting fresh and you leave
all of that baggage from previous relationships
behind you. You always hope that's the case, but
the truth is, you don't always heal everything from
past relationships when you move on.
For the past few weeks, Otto's been writing
another marketing book and guess what--Susie's
editing again. But this time, we noticed a
difference in Otto's reaction to Susie's
suggestions for how to make the book better.
When she made her suggestions, he still had an
initial reaction but this time didn't take the
criticism personally. He trusted and felt that
Susie just wanted to help him to make the book
This is a beautiful example of healing the past
and the deepening of trust in our relationship. We
believe that the foundation of any relationship is
emotional safety and trust. This means that
physical safety is a given and you feel emotionally
safe enough to be who you really are and be able to
express yourself freely.
Most people want to place the responsibility for
trust in a relationship on someone else. They base
their trust on how someone acts towards them.
Gary Zukav in his new book "The Heart of the
Soul" says, "The experience of intimacy is not
related to how others act or do not act, or how
they speak or do not speak. It depends upon how
energy leaves your energy system(your body). When
energy leaves your processing system in love and
trust, the result is the experience of
So safety and trust in a relationship doesn't
start with someone else--It starts with you and how
willing you are to open up and allow the other
If you're having trust issues in a relationship,
we suggest examining your own thoughts, feelings
and issues from the past that have yet to be healed
first before looking outward to someone else.
Relationship Quote of the
"Trust--this is the foundation of any
relationship. Without it you cannot achieve real or
even pretend intimacy. Trust is the starting
point." Susie and Otto Collins
The other night we watched the movie "Castaway"
with Tom Hanks. One line caught our
attention--Tom's character had been marooned on a
desert island for several years and the only thing
that kept him alive was the thought of coming home
to be with the woman he loved.
The only problem was everyone thought he was
dead and even though she had loved him very much,
she had married someone else in the meantime.
The line that caught our attention was how he
kept his life together after this crushing blow--He
said, "Keep breathing. Tomorrow the sun will
While it's important in times of despair to keep
breathing in order to live, we use the breath not
only as a way to keep living but a way to reconnect
when there is conflict or distance between us.
If there's conflict or disagreement, what we do
is first remember that the other person is truly
our friend and not the enemy and from that place,
we can begin to heal the disagreement.
We use the power of breathing as a tool to help
us to regain our lost connection in those moments.
What we do is look each other in the eyes and then
start breathing in unison. As silly as it sounds,
if you will consciously breathe in unison with your
mate or friend, you will be amazed at how you can
regain your center and your connection. We are then
able to talk about what has happened between us and
begin to heal what created the separation.
Breathing in unison to reconnect with one
another is one of the most intimate things you will
ever do with another person.
It only takes one person to destroy a
relationship. But, it takes two people to create an
In order for this process to work, it requires
both people to want to heal the relationship. It
requires both people to let go of whatever fears
they're holding onto and to let go of the need to
This breathing exercise helps you to come into
the present moment and focuses your attention on
what's happening right now and not what happened
with previous partners or in other
So we suggest that you take some time this week
to share this idea with your mate or a friend. If
you do, you will have another tool to use to help
you to reconnect when challenges come up in your
Relationship Quote of the
Try very hard not to see your partner as the
enemy. - Neale Donald Walsch
How Much do You
Remember in the movie "The Sixth Sense" where the
young boy in the movie said to his mother "I see
things!" We couldn't help but think about that line
as we were writing this newsletter article.
In our judgement, one of the biggest keys to not
just relationship success, but to enjoy a full rich
life is to be able to identify and experience a
full range of emotions every day-- in other words
to be able to "feel things"
A few months ago, in one of our workshops,
someone in the group shared that they haven't cried
in over fifteen years. This is obviously a person
who has put up a lot of walls so they don't have to
access and feel difficult emotions.
If you are someone who is putting up walls to
avoid looking at and feeling difficult or painful
situations you are also keeping out the joy as
well. As Barbara De Angelis once said, if you're
repressing, you're repressing all emotions. You
can't be shut down emotionally in one area of your
life and expect the other parts to be going just
fine. It's impossible. You're out of balance
We've been watching Dr. Phil McGraw's "Get Real
Challenge" every Tuesday on Oprah. In short, he's
taking 42 people through an intensive, life
changing 5 day workshop in front of Oprah's TV
cameras so that we (the TV audience) could all
learn from what these 42 people discover about
One by one, Dr. McGraw is helping each of the
people unearth hidden events and emotions that have
kept them from living life to the fullest. The
point is that we may not all be able to have this
experience with Dr. Phil but we can begin to allow
ourselves to feel and then express what we are
Our society does not encourage you to be an
individual, to feel your emotions and to express
them. Men AND Women have both been taught to be
strong, not express exuberance (except at sporting
events) or grief. Our employers expect us to be
back at work with smiles on our faces in two days
after a personal tragedy.
In our lives, we are learning to express our
emotions as they come up. By doing this, our
partner doesn't have to guess how we are feeling or
constantly ask us "what's wrong." We avoid the game
playing that so often goes on in relationships when
people hide what they are feeling from their friend
or partner. As a result, we enjoy a close,
connected relationship of the heart and soul. We
think anyone can enjoy the same thing if they just
tear down the walls.
One of the most moving speeches we've ever
watched is one by the former head basketball coach
of North Carolina State University and Broadcaster
Jim Valvano. It was during the 1993 ESPN Espy
awards and he was being honored with an award. He
was dying of cancer and spoke about how he realized
how precious life can be. In this speech, he said
we should do 3 things every day. Number one is to
laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is to
think. You should spend some time in thought. And
number three is to have your emotions moved to
tears, especially if they are tears of joy or
We think this is great advice for a life well
As we travel across the country teaching people how
to have more trust and passion in their
relationships, we do it by teaching the concepts of
partnership in relationship. Gary Zukav describes
spiritual partnership in depth in "The Seat of the
Soul" and we have used his work as one of our
A spiritual partnership is when two people come
together consciously as equals, growing separately
together. They grow spiritually and personally--all
within the framework of the relationship. They form
a support system for each other, the foundation
being safety and trust.
People often ask us how to create powerful and
passionate relationships and the short answer is
through constant communication, one moment at a
Openness and honesty are essential in building
safety and trust which allows you to work toward
being the true essence of who you are.
When you allow yourself to open totally to the
other person, amazing things begin to happen. You
begin to grow in ways you never thought possible
because the other person is there to support you.
You know deep within you that your partner is your
friend and will help you build on your
Otto isn't comfortable dancing. He feels clumsy
and awkward. But he goes dancing anyway, because he
knows that Susie loves it. He also knows, knows
that no matter how foolish he thinks he looks,
Susie just wants to have a good time and gives him
total love and support. He even has fun in the
When one of us is facing a spiritual or personal
challenge, the other person is there to listen, to
love and to offer support. Whether consciously or
not, it usually works out for us that the person
with the least fear leads--that can change from
moment to moment. This is a concept we learned from
Kenny and Julia Loggins in their book "The
Unimaginable Life" and we've discovered that it has
also been true in our relationship.
When two people come together for their personal
and spiritual growth, a great deal of synergy
happens. As Stephen Covey says in the 7 Habits of
Highly Effective People, "Synergy happens when the
whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If
there is true synergy in relationship, one plus one
equals three or more."
The Bible says that when two or more are
gathered in my name, I will be there. Isn't that
the essence of why we come together? To be closer
to Spirit or to God? In partnerships, we help each
other to heal, to grow, and to learn. Carolyn Myss
says in her tape series "Spiritual Madness" that
one of our purposes in incarnating is to get to
know the parts of ourselves that don't know God
yet. We believe that spiritual partnerships help
you to know God.
We encourage you to form spiritual partnerships
in all relationships in your lives. If you do, you
will find that your life will be filled with joy,
passion, growth, some pain, and a great deal of
Can Chocolate really
bring passion back into your life?
If you're wondering where the passion is in your
relationships and you can't seem to find it-- we're
here to suggest that passion in your relationships
is indeed possible. Not only is passion and new
life possible, but you can have it *if * you want
it badly enough. We're not just talking about sex
here (although that is a possibility).
We're talking about creating the feeling of
being alive and living life to the fullest.
Recently we enjoyed the very passionate movie
"Chocolat." The main character swept into a very
small village that was full of passionless, grim
people. She had the audacity to open a store filled
with nothing but chocolate delicacies at the
beginning of lent in a town where lent was taken
very seriously. The people of the town had given up
all pleasures such as chocolate for lent. The story
unfolded as various members of the community began
to "sample" her secret Mayan chocolate recipes
which seemed to change their lives. One woman who
was searching for a way--any way to bring passion
back into her relationship with her husband
purchased some chocolates and before long the
sparks began to fly between them once again.
Another woman was in an abusive relationship.
With the help of the chocolates and the love and
mentorship of the main character, she was able to
believe in herself for the first time. She then
found the courage to leave her abusive husband.
Now we're not suggesting that eating chocolates
will bring passion back to your relationships or
cause you to gain self confidence. What we are
saying is--if you find yourself in a relationship
where you're just going through the motions of
life, passion is possible for your life. As long as
you keep hope alive and set it as your intention to
create the kind of relationship you want--it is
Regardless of the description offered by the
critics, we thought this movie was about hope and
the magic of bringing passion back into your life.
We think it's a good metaphor for what is possible
in our lives if we are just willing to open up and
let it in. In his book "Treasury of quotes,"
motivational speaker and philosopher Jim Rohn said
"I used to say, "I sure hope things will change.
Then I learned that the only way things are going
to change for me is when I change." We think that
this is good advice. If you want outstanding
relationships you have to start with you. You have
to become the kind of person who would attract the
kind of person you want to be with. Whether it's a
relationship with someone you're already with or
someone else, it all begins with you.
The characters in "Chocolat" learned to create
their lives the way they wanted them--with joy and
passion--and we believe that you can too if you're
willing to do what is necessary to have it.
Relationship Quote of the
"In the current of universal energy in which we
bathe and flow,the destination is assured. The
peace we deserve and the love we seek will come to
us, when it will, as it will, as abundantly as we
dreamed. " Leigh Sanders
If Only. . .
We don't know if birds do it or if bees do it but
we do know that most of the people we've come in
contact with do it. What we're talking about is the
mantra of the modern era--"If only...."
"If only" is what many of us tend to focus on in
all of our relationships. We tend to focus on the
qualities that we don't like in others rather than
the qualities that we do like. "If only he/she
would listen to me." "If only we had a bigger
house." "If only he would pick up his clothes." "If
only I had a better job." "If only there was more
passion in our relationship."
One of the biggest obstacles to having great
relationships is focusing on what we don't like
about someone else.
In fact, it's not just in our relationships that
we do this. It's in many areas of our lives.
One of the keys to creating great relationships
sometimes requires you to change the way you look
at life. It requires you to focus on what you like,
love and admire about the people in your lives
instead of what you don't like.
Otto has had many jobs in his career as a
salesperson and marketer. As he looks back and
reflects on what he considers his really "good"
jobs, he left because of those two words--"If
only." He was focused on the negative parts of
those jobs instead of focusing on their benefits.
He let "if only" rule his career and as a result,
he left more than one job before he should
The same thing is true in your
Every time you find yourself saying those two
little "If only..." words, this should serve as a
reminder that you are wanting someone or some thing
in your life to be different than it really is.
You've heard us say before in this newsletter
about how important it is to love others in your
life wherever they are and not where you'd like
them to be.
We suggest that if you find yourself saying "If
only..." about a person or a situation in your
life, stop yourself and focus on the good things
about this person or situation.
The joy in life just gets sucked out of you if
spend your time dwelling on past unhappy
events,things you don't like,things you can't
control and futurizing about negative events that
haven't happened yet.
In life and in your relationships you have a
choice. You can spend your time trying to get
someone else to change and be more in alignment
with what you want or you can find a way to love
them where they are.
If it's not possible for you to love another
person where he or she is, then you have another
choice whether to stay in that relationship or
This is also true of a job or any situation in
your life. If you spend your time at work saying to
yourself (if not out loud) "If only..." then I'd
like my job-- then you are hoping for someone or
some thing outside of your control to change or be
So we suggest that tomorrow you pay attention to
the situations where you find yourself saying or
thinking,"If only..." then write down what you
appreciate about that person, job or
Keep that list handy so that you can focus on
the positives in your life instead of the
negatives. This is gratitude in action and can
change your life.
Being Conscious of
the Differences in Ourselves and Others!
When we get into intimate relationships and find
that "perfect soulmate," we expect that our partner
will be like-minded, have similar views, like to do
the same things, have the same views on raising
children, and the same ideas about spending money.
The reality is that we are each separate
individuals, with different backgrounds, belief
systems, and emotional patterns. In the Sept/Oct
2000 issue of Modern Maturity magazine, an
article highlighting inter-racial,
inter-generational, and inter-cultural
relationships caught our attention. Since there's a
16 year difference in our ages, this article really
spoke to us.
In this article, John Gottman, author of several
relationship books, said, "We often expect our mate
to understand and meet our expectations. If that
doesn't happen, we feel he/she must not love us
enough, or is intentionally being hurtful."
The point is that your mate is just coming from
another point of view. He goes on to say that
because "inter" couples "often enter marriage with
a more conscious awareness of the cultural, age or
racial differences between them, they're more
likely to address these issues by talking openly
about them." This openness from the beginning of
the relationship helps to depersonalize the
conflicts and eliminate the hurt feelings that
often arise when differences surface.
People tend to believe that if they have the
same spiritual beliefs, grow up in the same
community, got to the same schools, have the same
family background, or like bowling, golf or
dancing, they will always think alike and the
differences between them won't be great. The fact
is that you can grow up next door to someone, be
the same age, go to the same schools but have
dramatically different cultural, philosophical and
personal viewpoints and belief systems.
The "inter" couples in the article said that
when there are apparent differences in ideology,
culture, race, age, religion, those differences
stand out quickly, forcing you to deal with them up
front. We've all heard people say "What happened to
the person I married?" The truth is that more
likely than not the differences were there all the
time and were just finally coming to the surface.
It seems like such a shock to you that you have
these differences that you start doubting the
wisdom of your choice to be in a relationship with
this person who is so "unlike" you.
This concept is illustrated in Steven Covey's
story about the man and the optometrist. Imagine if
you would sitting across from your optometrist.
Your are handed his/her eyeglasses and told to try
those on. When you tell your doctor that you can't
see a thing, the optometrist says, "I don't know
why--they've worked well for me all these years. I
can see perfectly fine with them!"
Isn't that what happens when we don't accept
that our intimate mate might come from another
frame of reference, separate from ours, on a
You expect that someone else's lenses will work
for you and when they don't, you are surprised and
If you really want intimate, connected
relationships, you have to understand and respect
the "glasses" that your mate uses to see life,
while honoring and sharing your own "pair of
glasses." We've found that expecting that there
will be differences, listening without
interrupting, and then speaking freely without fear
are key elements to working through the differences
that arise between us.
The first step to healing anything in your life
is through awareness, If you are feeling separation
or distance from your mate or anyone in your life,
try looking at the issue from the frame of
reference through which the other sees life.
Habit 5 of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits says, "Seek
first to understand then be understood."
When you do that, it's very difficult to be
angry with that other person and can be the
beginning of a deeper connection.
Have You Got an
Bob and Carol had a "communication problem." They
talked. He thought everything was fine.
That is, until he realized a few days later that
everything his partner said to him had these biting
undertones of an "attitude".
So, Bob (like a lot of people in relationships)
is wondering--what do you do when your partner says
everything's fine but the negative energy in the
room is so strong that you could cut it with a
The problem is that they really didn't get their
communication issue resolved and Carol isn't able
to tell Bob how she is really feeling.
In psychological terms, many of us might label
her actions toward Bob as passive/aggressive.
The truth is that no matter what we want to call
her behavior, she is acting out of her pain about
this "communication problem" that wasn't really
At the beginning of her previous marriage, Susie
and her husband found themselves playing a cruel
game of "one upmanship."
They were very critical and picked at each other
over the smallest of things. This was because they
couldn't and weren't willing to talk about the real
issues that were going on between them.
Their "attitudes" toward each other were masking
the pain of resentment they felt about their
relationship. After this went on for a while, they
decided on a truce but never did tackle the real
issues underneath those "attitudes" and the
marriage eventually ended.
You've heard us say many times before in this
newsletter that old resentments never die. They
just get buried alive and come up later in uglier
This is what happened in both of these examples.
The people in these relationships didn't address
what they were really feeling and their negative
feelings didn't go away.
We've really been impacted lately by the work of
Terrence Real author the book "How can I get
through to you."
He says about resentment, "If you can really let
go, then go ahead and do it. But then don't mope
around feeling like a victim. If there's one shred
of resentment in your decision then go back to the
negotiating table. Even if it means kicking up a
We suggest that when an issue comes up between
you and your partner, put your cards on the table
and urge your partner to do the same.
One partner cannot "get" the other to
communicate responsibly. You can only share what
you are feeling and agree to listen to understand
and without judgment to your partner.
In other words, no matter how difficult it is in
the moment, talk about what each of you are feeling
and stay with the process until there is a genuine
understanding between the two of you.
The only reason anyone would "cop an attitude"
is that they don't feel safe enough to express
their feelings or maybe they can't even identify
what's really going on inside them.
What's underneath all of this is the pain of a
lost connection that needs to be healed.
Trust--'I'm Sorry' just isn't enough
Several years ago, Otto worked as a door-to-door
sales person for a company in our area. One of the
biggest challenges with this job was not meeting
the sales quotas but rather to keep from getting
bitten by dogs.
In fact, one day in less than 30 seconds after a
woman told him her dog wouldn't bite, the dog
charged after him at full speed. Had the dog's
owner not grabbed the dog, Otto would have been
Otto was skeptical when the woman told him her
dog wouldn't bite and he was even more skeptical of
what she had to say after the dog tried to bite
It can be that way in our relationships when
someone has disappointed us over and over and we've
lost trust in that person. We just seem to put a
question mark in front of everything they say or
So what do we do if we want to stay in a
relationship with this person?
How do we learn to trust that person again?
We think that one of the keys to rebuilding
trust has more to do with what happens after one or
both of you apologizes and says "I'm sorry" than
the apology itself.
We've all heard the saying, "Actions speak
louder than words" and this is especially true when
it comes to rebuilding trust.
When there has been an acknowledgment of
wrong-doing or if one person has hurt another in
some way, there are some things that both people
can do to rebuild trust.
Here's what we suggest for the person who feels
they have been hurt:
1. After the apology, be clear about what
actions you would like the other person to take to
2. If the other person is willing, make an
agreement about these actions and how this
situation will be handled in the future.
3. Be open to the possibility that no matter how
this person's conduct may have been in the past,
this person may change their behavior. Be willing
to give up the "victim" position and the desire for
making them pay for what they've done.
4. Watch for positive actions by this person in
the future and let them know how much you
appreciate it when they've "done it right." In
other words, give some positive reinforcement.
Here's what we suggest for the person who is
1. Understand that a sincere apology is only the
first step toward rebuilding trust and your
connection with that other person.
2. Ask how you can make amends for what you have
done and listen to what the other person is telling
3. Be open to the possibility that you can
change and get some help if you need to.
4. If you are sincerely willing to change your
behavior in the way that the other person suggests,
make an agreement to make those changes.
5. Be consistent in your follow through.
We've found that rebuilding trust can take many
years or it can happen in an instant.
The amount of time that it takes to rebuild
trust often depends on how long the people involved
are determined to protect and defend their hearts
so that they won't be hurt again.
We know that there are many instances where
either a person wants to change and just can't or
they have no desire to make the changes that will
rebuild trust. They just go through the motions and
the excuses and apologies are repeated over and
over with no positive actions.
If this is what you are experiencing, you have
choices to make whether this behavior is important
enough for you to take a stand against or not.
Remember, that no matter what has happened up
until now it's always important to give love a
chance. It's also important to set healthy
It's Time to Let Go of
There is something happening in almost every corner
of the world that is bigger than any one of us
individually that is changing the face of our
What is happening is that men are becoming more
conscious, connected and emotionally aware and
women are becoming more empowered.
Some people still believe that men and women are
coming from different planets and that each sex's
wants and needs are so radically different that
each gender requires an interpreter to figure out
what each other wants.
We think that some of this may have been true at
one time--but, not anymore.
In his book "The Soul Stories," Gary Zukav
referred to these evolutionary changes in men and
women as the "New Male" and the "New Female."
The "New Male" is desiring in increasing numbers
things such as love, connection, closeness, truth,
authenticity and a depth in their relationships
that they simply didn't allow themselves to have in
the years gone by.
Men in increasing numbers are embracing what
would be typically thought of as more feminine
qualities and developing a real sense that they
want more from their relationships than they have
allowed themselves to have in the past. They are
wanting connections with their children that
weren't possible previously.
What today's "New Female" is creating is a life
of empowered possibilities, hope, and a new sense
of self that hasn't seemed possible for many women
until now. She is choosing how she wants her life
to be and doesn't need someone to "take care of
her" but rather is a co-creator in her life
experience with another person. She is asking for
what she wants instead of waiting for someone else
to lead the way.
In the past, men did what was considered "men's
work" and Women did "women's work." We each knew
our roles and we played them well. This served us
well in many ways like ensuring safety for our
families and making sure the children were taken
care. However, this didn't do much for creating
closer and more connected relationships between men
and women. In fact, in many ways it seemed to
As we see it, one of the most important things
that men and women can do to create the love,
connection and passion in their relationships that
we know is possible is for both men and women to
make it okay for men to become emotionally aware of
their thoughts and feelings.
In the past, most men haven't felt like it was
acceptable in this culture to feel and express true
emotions of the heart. In fact, many women have
helped to perpetuate the "ideal" male who is the
strong, silent, tough guy--the guy who's a little
wild and needs a "good woman" to help him "settle
While it is hardly true of all women, many, on
the other hand, have looked to men to support them
financially, make all the important decisions, and
to be a "knight in shining armor" who will sweep
them away and keep them safe.
In our opinion, the most important thing for
women to do in order to create the relationships
and lives many say they want is to claim their own
personal power and take personal responsibility for
This doesn't mean that women should take the
stance of becoming angry, hostile, vindictive, or
that they "have to do it all themselves" and
perhaps be alone, but rather develop within
themselves the attitude of equality, worth, purpose
and take responsibility for their own
In our workshops and personal coaching that we
offer, one of our favorite phrases concerning
differences is to encourage people to wonder about
"What they can learn from others" instead of having
the differences be divisive. We think it's very
appropriate to include and apply this idea to this
Instead of complaining about how emotional women
seem to be, men can learn a great deal if they are
open to asking themselves the question about the
women in their lives--"What can I learn from you
about how to feel and express my emotions and about
being caring and nurturing with others?"
Instead of complaining about how men get what
they want and are "advantaged" in our society,
women need to ask themselves when they are feeling
like victims or second class citizens--"What can I
learn from you to step up and assume my birthright
as your equal and learn how to empower myself?"
If men and women want to create close,
connected, passionate relationships, the desire for
a connection of the heart and soul has to become
more important to them than holding onto the gender
roles that society has dictated for hundreds of
While these roles served their purpose at one
time, in this time of expanding energy in the
universe, both men and women need to learn from
each other so that they can move forward into
co-creating together, as partners, the lives that
are possible for them to enjoy.
So this week, we invite you to spend some time
reflecting on how you can find ways to create more
love, connection and creativity in all your
We also invite you to examine what kinds of
beliefs you may be attached to and how letting go
of some of those old beliefs could actually help
you move forward to a deeper place and provide the
catalyst for creating a richer and more rewarding
It's time for all of us to become partners,
co-creators and collaborators on the path of love
instead allowing our fears to keep us separate and
Letting go of your
Marlin and Dory found themselves in a whale's mouth
hanging on for dear life, fearing that if they fell
into the whale's belly, they would be eaten.
Dory happened to be able to speak "whale" so she
told the whale that they were trying to find
Marlin's son and that they needed the whale's help.
The whale told them to just "let go."
Fearing the consequences of falling into the
whale's stomach if they just "let go," Marlin
asked, "How do we know it will be okay?"
The whale answered--"You don't."
This, of course, is one of the scenes from the
Disney film "Finding Nemo." Although the characters
are not human, we think this scene beautifully
illustrates what happens in the lives of many
people when they are "stuck" in their relationships
and when they are faced with many decisions in
What we have found in almost every "stuck"
situation is that there is either some kind of fear
or an unconscious payoff that is holding them in a
Many winters ago, Susie was driving down a very
icy, steep hill and she found that no matter which
way she turned or how slowly she went, her car slid
sideways, blocking the road. Since she was afraid
to move the car forward or backward, she just got
out and left it for someone else to move.
We hope that this story gives you a visual of
what can happen when you find yourself stuck in
making a decision or in a relationship challenge
where no solution seems to be "right."
So what might your "frozen place" look like?
A "frozen place" might be something as big as
deciding whether to stay in a relationship, paying
off debts or something as ordinary as holding fast
to the position of "being right" in an
We realize that in life, there are times to act
and there are times to wait. What we are talking
about is when you know that some action should be
taken in order to move forward or even to heal a
relationship. In situations like this, you may want
to take action but are afraid of the consequences
either way you decide. So you "freeze" and do
What the whale was trying to tell Dory and
Marlin is that although they couldn't "know" that
they would be safe before they let go, staying in
the whale's mouth would not move them toward
finding Marlin's son Nemo. Only by "letting go"
could they hope to move toward having what they
We are suggesting that sometimes moving toward
having what you want in your life takes letting
go--letting go of fear, of anger, of needing to be
right, of "what will others think" and anything
else that might be holding you back from taking
Staying stuck may feel safe but it does not move
you toward your goal.
So, this week we invite you to try to discover
where you are stuck in your life. In what area are
you not moving forward?
Take some time to look objectively at your fears
and discover if there are any you can "let go" of
so that you can take some action that will lead you
toward having what you want.
By the way, Marlin and Dory were safely blown
out of the whale's blow hole and they did find
It's our hope that you are able to have what you
want in your relationships and life, as well.
The Process of Moving on
Someone wrote to us recently and asked "how do you
move forward when your spouse has cheated and
divorced you for someone else?"
This is the question we're going to address in
this week's newsletter.
Before we address this issue, it's important to
understand that the answer to this question is not
just about how to rebound after your spouse cheats
on you and leaves you. It's about the mind set that
allows you to rebound from anything you don't want
to have happen in your life.
If your partner or spouse has left you for
another person, here's the most important thing you
can do to begin the healing process.
It's to recognize that you may have many
relationships that come and go throughout your
life, but your intrinsic value as a human being
should never be judged by who you are in a
relationship with or even whether you're in an
intimate relationship at all.
This same thing holds true whether you've lost a
job, gone bankrupt or any other crisis we humans
Recently we attended a weekend workshop and met
John Alston and Lloyd Thaxton, authors of the book
"Stuff Happens (and then you fix it.)
Both authors had come through personal crises
and their purpose in writing the book was to give
people tangible ways to rebound quickly from the
"stuff" that happens in their lives.
The important thing that we got from John and
Lloyd was pick yourself up when "stuff happens" and
move forward with your life in a positive direction
(even when things look bad.)
When Susie's ex-husband left their marriage many
years ago, she was devastated. She found herself
mourning not only their marriage, but the
activities and the life they had shared.
She remembers one day, several months after he
left, deciding that she wasn't going to dwell on
the past any longer. She was going to look ahead to
the future--her future.
In that moment, she felt like she was physically
turning her body away from the past and looking
toward a future of possibilities.
She also had to embrace her self worth and
believe that she could create the future that she
In order to begin the healing process, she had
to believe that "she was more than her
relationship." She also developed the belief that
because she was here and alive on this planet, she
had value and worth as a person.
If you've experienced relationship crisis in
your life and just can't seem to move on, consider
these suggestions. They may help you begin your
1) Never look at a relationship (or anything
else) that didn't work out as a failure. We believe
that there are no accidents. There are only
learning opportunities and that everything happens
in divine order. Even if it's painful at the
2) Give thanks for the lessons you've learned
and the growth you've experienced as a result of
being in this relationship.
3) Learn from the patterns of the past.
Recognize whether this is a "reoccurring theme" in
your relationships and life. (And then change)
4) As quickly as possible, move from the
position of blame and being a victim to one of
curiosity and hope for the future.
Withdrawing and Pushing in
Relationships" Part 2 ...
A few weeks ago we talked about what happens
when someone "pushes" and another "withdraws" in a
Since, we spent most of the article last week
focusing on the person who "pushes" and the dynamic
of "pushing"in relationships, one of our newsletter
subscribers asked us for suggestions on how to
"prompt reaction and interaction" from someone who
Because it is a lonely and frustrating place to
be in, most people who are with someone who
"withdraws" will try almost anything they can think
of to get them to open up their heart.
But, as pure as their intentions can be, we
think that trying to prompt some sort of reaction
with another doesn't go far enough.
In our opinion, the goal should be to find a way
to reconnect with each other.
So, how do we reconnect with someone who has
What we do in our relationship when this happens
is to let the other person who has withdrawn know
that we are their friend and not the enemy.
What we always do next to bring about
reconnection (when we are able to become the
observer and get our ego out of the way) is to
explain to the one who has withdrawn what we are
seeing, feeling, thinking and experiencing in the
moment without judging.
An example of this might be...
"I'm feeling really sad that we're not
connecting. I would like to recapture the same kind
of feeling that we had when we were first together
and right now I'm not feeling that."
Another example might be...
"Our relationship is really important to me and
I'm feeling distance between us right now and I'm
wondering how I can feel close to you again?"
If you find yourself with someone who has
withdrawn, share with them the specific differences
between what's happening in this moment and how the
two of you were when you were the happiest or most
In our relationship, when both of us recognize
and admit to contributing to the changes that have
happened in the relationship, it helps us to regain
Realize that if there is someone "pushing" and
another "withdrawing," there are probably some
resentments and painful truths between both of you
that have to be unearthed before this dynamic can
If you are with someone who is so withdrawn that
it is painful for you to be in that relationship,
you have to decide whether you want to stay in this
situation or not.
There are no guarantees that the person who is
withdrawing is able or willing to open up to you or
anyone. It may be too painful for them.
It is worth a try, or several tries, to allow
the space, the honesty and the love to create a
reconnection between the two of you.
Our purpose in talking about this dynamic is to
shed some light so that both people will stop this
common relationship "dance" and begin moving toward
We hope that we've given you food for thought.
If you have relationship issues or concerns that
are universal in scope that you'd like us to
address in future newsletters, feel free to ask.
What Happens after you Find
What's your perception of life with your perfect
soulmate? Joy, bliss, happiness--a life with no
conflict and no major issues to work through?
Ward and June or Ozzy and Harriet with passion?
In our opinion, that just isn't the way it works.
In our relationship, we are best friends--we have
passion--we have joy--we are totally comfortable
with each other and enjoy being together. Even with
all this, we still have issues that challenge us
and that "rock the boat."
We hate to burst your bubble, but we believe
that soulmates come together to help each other to
heal, learn and grow. It's what we and others, such
as Gary Zukav, call Spiritual Partnership. Some
people, such as Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks and Kenny
and Julia Loggins, refer to it as "Conscious
We also believe that you can find several
"soulmates" in your lifetime. Wayne Dyer said that
your soulmate can be the person who you can't stand
but are in your life to teach you a powerful
Carolyn Myss says in "Spiritual Madness" that we
are here to heal the parts of ourselves that don't
know God yet. We believe that Soulmates help us to
heal those parts if we are willing to do the work
and look at ourselves openly and honestly.
Soulmates can trigger certain reactions in you that
point the direction to what needs to be healed.
So what happens after you find your
Remember the Zen proverb that poses the question
of--What happens before enlightenment? Chop wood,
carry water. What happens after enlightenment? Chop
wood, carry water. We feel this is a good analogy
of what happens in relationships. You still must
face your personal challenges but if you're
conscious and awake, you can realize that you have
a powerful ally to walk beside you on your path to
Many of us are finding that perfect "Soulmate"
and many are searching for one. We suggest that you
look at the people in your life--the ones who
challenge you, the ones who love you. Say of prayer
of gratitude for these "teachers." When someone
close to you "presses your buttons," look at what
you can learn from the situation. What parts of
yourself need to be healed? What feelings come up
Marriane Williamson has said that every thing we
do is either an act of love or a cry for help.
That's what a soulmate does for you--they are there
to love you AND to help you when you cry for help.
They also have the ability to "press your buttons"
and this is for your highest good.
Withdrawing and Pushing in
This past weekend we attended a seminar and there
was an incident between the seminar leader and one
of the participants that had a great impact on
All of the people attending the seminar were
authors, speakers and seminar leaders who were
there to learn how to fine-tune their message to
create a bigger impact in the media world when they
During the two day seminar, the leader's job was
to try to help us bring out, fine-tune and embrace
our creative genius and our message that we want to
share with the world.
What was interesting was that no matter how hard
the leader tried, he couldn't get one woman to
recognize what her project was really about. He saw
in her a genius that she couldn't see and wasn't
able to embrace in herself.
Throughout the two days, we witnessed a struggle
between the leader pushing and the woman
We think this is a common dynamic in many
relationships-- where one person pushes and the
other person withdraws or retreats. This creates
distance and disconnection between the two
This withdrawal can be from any number of
reasons but fear is always at the bottom. The
pushing can be for many different reasons--from
helping the person see his/her genius to simply
getting some help around the house or with the
kids. We may not even recognize that we are
"pushing" even when we are.
In Susie's previous marriage, she found herself
"pushing" her ex-husband to "feel" emotions. She
remembers when her grandfather died, trying to get
her "ex" to express the feelings that she knew he
must have because they both dearly loved this man.
She had the sensation of "clawing" at her "ex" to
get him to feel but he just shut his emotions down
This was a reoccurring theme during their
marriage and she never understood that her pushing
him to feel was actually causing him to withdraw
even further. She kept doing the same thing over
and over, expecting a different result each
So what do you do if you are pushing someone to
feel or act a certain way by another? What if you
are the one being pushed?
We suggest that both people recognize and admit
that this is a dynamic that happens between them.
Talk about it when it's not happening.
If both people can recognize that it does happen
in the relationship, you can begin making
agreements about what you'll do when it occurs.
If someone is withdrawing or retreating in a
relationship, they are not feeling safe in that
moment, so pushing only adds to those feelings.
The person who is withdrawing may be focusing on
a past negative event or projecting negative
possibilities into the current or future
situations. As hard as it is to believe, they may
simply be feeling too much, rather than not enough.
The situation may be overwhelming to them.
The person who withdraws may need just a little
space. The person who is "pushing" may need to back
off their energy a few notches so the person feels
A question that may be asked of both people at
that time is "What does this situation remind you
We've used this question when it's happened
between us-- when one of us has withdrawn and the
other has pushed.
It may not be a question that can be answered in
the moment but it has been helpful to us to agree
to come back together and talk about it later.
The most important thing is for both people to
create a way to feel safety and trust in their
relationship so that they can regain their
Is Silence really Golden?
A couple of weeks ago, we went to the movies and
right before the actual movie started, there was a
30 second commercial on the screen reminding us
that "Silence is golden."
While this is helpful advice for a movie
theatre, we don't think it works very well when it
comes to communicatingin relationships.
The problem is that many people in relationships
think that if they just keep silent and not say
what they are thinking or feeling, their
relationship will be better off than if they had
said what was on their mind.
While this sounds good in theory-- it doesn't
work in reality.
When we keep our feelings to ourselves, it may
temporarily keep the peace and keep the
relationship going smoothly but in the long run,
this creates distance, separation, mistrust and
dries up passion like a weed in the desert.
In our previous long term relationships, both of
us kept silent about our thoughts and feelings that
were important to us because we didn't want to make
waves in the relationship. While this wasn't the
only contributing factor, both of our previous
marriages ended in divorce.
In our relationship, we made an agreement early
on to be honest about our thoughts and feelings
with each other no matter how difficult or painful
this might be.
One of the contributors to our "Should You Stay
or Should You Go?" book told her story about how
she didn't keep silent in her relationship.
She told us that she was best friends and
engaged to a man who lived in a city several states
away from hers. Sometime after he had moved to her
city and they had decided to get married, she began
feeling that the relationship would not work.
She agonized for weeks, and after much prayer,
she told him her painful truth--that she felt in
her heart that their relationship "wasn't right"
and there weretoo many differences between
She told us that once she was honest with
herself (and with him), her pain disappeared.
Now we're not saying that everyone has to know
every thought and feeling that you have. We are
saying that if you want to live an authentic,
vibrant life and perhaps have a connected,
passionate, alive relationship, silence is not
We have found that the best way to tell your
thoughts and feelings so that the other person can
hear is to simply say what is true for you without
pointing the finger at them (making them
Sometimes this is easier said than done when the
subject is a particularly thorny one between the
two of you.
But what we have found is that if you both can
listen to each other until there is some sense of
understanding, without emotionally or physically
running away, you can work through almost any
communication issue or challenge.
Withholding your thoughts or feelings--hoping
that it will all be O.K. if you just keep silent--
is rarely a strategy that works.
Making and keeping the agreement that you will
both share your thoughts and feelings with each
other and stay open to each other without becoming
defensive helps to create more trust and intimacy
in the relationship.
We invite you this week to make this agreement
or other agreements with the important people in
Moving beyond your past
This weekend Otto and his son saw the film "Antwone
Fisher" and it made a significant inpact on both of
For those of you who haven't seen it yet, we
highly recommend it. Rather than ruin the story for
you, we'll just say that the message from this
truly wonderful film was about not holding onto
painful past events. It was about moving forward to
create the life you want.
We think that holding onto painful past events
in our lives is a huge stumbling block for many
relationships. When we hold onto this pain, even
when we don't acknowledge that pain is there, we
keep others at a distance, even our loved ones.
This pain we're talking about isn't necessarily
physical pain but rather thoughts, feelings and
emotions, from traumatic events in our lives.
A traumatic event for one person may not be
traumatic for another person. It's all in how the
event is perceived.
We're not saying that it's always easy to let go
of the memory of these events and the emotional
hold they have on our lives.
What we are saying is that whether these events
happened 20 years ago, 5 months ago, or 5 minutes
ago--if you don't find a way to heal, those
memories interfere with having the relationships
and life that you want.
What are you holding onto that prevents you from
having the relationships and life you want?
Up until now, what have you not been willing to
let go of in order to move forward in your
Letting go begins to happen when you make the
decision to do it. It isn't always a short, easy
process and we've found that healing is usually a
The only reason it's not a short, easy process
is that there are things we aren't ready to
acknowledge, embrace and feel.
We've discovered that when we are able to take a
step toward healing the past, it helps to make it a
We have found that creating and doing a ritual
with the intent to help us let go of a particular
situation has been a powerful way to begin the
Here are just a few examples of healing rituals
that we and others have created. Keep in mind that
these examples are just one step in the healing
process. You may want to seek the help of a
- When Susie was trying to let go of her 30
year marriage and move on with her life, one of
the rituals she found useful was to go to a
nearby lake and say some words of thanks for the
time she had with her husband. As she did that,
she poured his English Leather cologne, that she
had loved, into the lake. It felt very freeing
to allow the cologne, that symbolized her
attachment to this marriage, move out with the
action of the water.
- As an ongoing ritual, a friend verbally
"throws" her fears off a fire tower in a nearby
- Another person we know listened to one
musical group over and over, during the breakup
of a significant relationship. He was stuck in
his mourning of the relationship and couldn't
move forward with his life. He burned 17 of the
cd's in his collection of this musical group as
a demonstration to himself that he no longer
needed to hold onto that painful situation.
- One woman we know is in the process of
healing from several past relationships where
she felt she hadn't been authentic with these
partners. She decided to write letters
explaining how she really felt with these
partners--some she mailed and some she didn't.
In both cases, the process of writing the
letters was very cathartic for her.
- At the beginning of our relationship, as our
symbol for moving forward with our lives
together, we had a "letting go" ceremony at Bald
Head Cliffs in Maine. At the end of the
ceremony, after energetically thanking our
previous partners for their contributions to our
lives, we threw our wedding rings from our
previous marriages into the crashing waves.
So this week, if anything is holding you back
from creating the relationships and life you want,
we encourage you to make the decision to do
whatever is necessary to begin your healing
process. A ritual is one thing that we have found
to be very helpful.
What are your
Here's an important question...
What are your assumptions about the people in
your life? And just as importantly, "what if those
assumptions are wrong?"
We know what some of you are thinking. "I don't
assume anything about the people in my life." or "I
don't make assumptions because that only leads to
What we've discovered is that almost everyone
does indeed make assumptions about the people in
their life and these assumptions can (and do) cause
distance and separation in our relationships.
Susie teaches a Women's Studies course at our
local university. One of the main objectives of the
course is to foster an appreciation for differences
and to learn to open to listening and understanding
another's point of view--whether in agreement with
them or not.
Today's discussion topic was one that is
particularly divisive and sensitive. Several
students spoke that they were vehemently opposed to
the social system under discussion. Several other
students disclosed that they were currently in that
very situation and told their stories.
As the class continued, the point was made by
one of the students that was in essence--"Don't
judge me unless you've walked in my shoes."
We would add the phrase "or assume who I am,
what I'm thinking or what I want" to that
This is as true for our intimate, family and
work relationships as it is for people we casually
meet or those we don't even know.
Both of us have a tendency to make assumptions
about each other on the subject of money and we are
consciously moving to change those old
In our relationship, Susie has a preconceived
idea that Otto wants to spend money unconsciously
and Otto has a preconceived idea that Susie doesn't
want to spend money even when it makes sense to him
to do so. This makes being life and business
partners pretty interesting at times.
It's a challenge for each of us to let go of
these preconceived thoughts that we believe we know
what the other person is thinking. The truth is,
that no one knows what another is thinking or
feeling unless they specifically ask.
We've found that when we do make those
assumptions, we create distance and disconnection
between us. When we succeed in being open to each
other instead, and listen without judgment, our
trust and connection grows.
A good question to ask yourself is--"What are
your "hot" buttons that cause you to assume what
someone else is thinking, feeling or the meaning
behind what someone is saying?"
This week, we urge you to open your heart and
give that person the opportunity to speak from
their heart before you start judging and
It will be an enormous gift to both of you.
Celebrating Those Baby
We got an e-mail earlier this week from one of the
subscribers to this newsletter who told us that he
was handling the "dramas" in his life better than
in his past.
He also emphasized that these were what he
considered very small "baby steps" in making
positive changes in his relationships and his
As we were thinking about his words and this
newsletter article, we were struck by how often
most people don't recognize and celebrate the
progress and growth they have made in their
relationships and their lives.
We think this is a perfect time as 2002 comes to
a close to help you become more aware and
appreciate just far you've come in the past year.
Sometimes we've made significant progress in our
personal growth and in our relationships and we
don't recognize the growth until someone else
points it out.
As we were thinking about our own relationship,
we realized that when there are challenges that
come up between the two of us, we are now spending
less time being disconnected from one another than
When challenges come up, we are finding our
center and regaining our connection much quicker
than we did a year ago. We are also being a little
less defensive with one another.
On the surface these seem like small,
inconsequential things. But, when they are added
up-- they have made a significant impact on the
quality of our already outstanding
So, we invite you to take a few moments to
identify the baby steps you've made this year
toward making your relationships and life
If you have a partner, spend some identifying
and celebrating the "baby steps" each of you have
made this year. If you're single, either take time
by yourself or with a friend who knows you well and
do the same.
Earlier tonight, we took turns sharing with each
other how we each thought the other had made
positive steps this year in their personal growth
and in making our relationship better.
You may choose to do it this way, or create your
own way to celebrate.
Essentially, we're suggesting that you take some
time and intentionally focus on finding the good in
yourself and in your relationships.
This is important because very often we spend a
lot of time focusing on what's going wrong in our
relationships and not on what's "going right."
In life and in your relationships, whatever you
focus on, you attract more of. We're suggesting
that if you want more joy, connection and love in
your life that you spend more time focusing on
these things than the things you want less of or
want to eliminate.
So, let the celebrating begin.
"Why The "Golden Rule"
is Wrong In Relationships...
When we were young, most of us were taught to live
by "The Golden Rule."
This article is to share with you why we think
using the golden rule as a guideline for your
relationships can lead to big trouble.
The Golden Rule says to "Do unto others as you'd
have them do unto you." The problem with the
"Golden Rule" is... No one else in the entire world
is exactly like you.
No matter how close, how connected and how much
you love someone else, they are not exactly like
you. Because they are not exactly like you, they
have different wants, needs and interests--some
more important than others.
They also come from a different set of life
experiences and circumstances.
The truth of the matter is other people don't
want to be "done unto" as you'd like to be "done
unto." They want to be "done unto" the way they
want to be "done unto."
When Susie worked as a library director, she
asked her staff take the Myers-Briggs personality
inventory. The results were eye-opening when they
discovered that each person had different preferred
ways of doing their work.
Before taking this inventory, misunderstandings
arose when it was assumed that everybody worked the
same way. When the staff talked about how each best
liked to do her work, this discovery led to better
understanding and more mutual respect.
The same thing happens in your relationships.
You mistakenly believe that everyone else in your
life wants to do things and live in the same way
We recommend that you tell your mate, partner or
people in your life how you would like to be "done
unto" instead of allowing guesswork, assumptions
and misunderstandings to ruin relationships.
This involves taking a risk. Perhaps for some
people, maybe the biggest risk of all--working
through fears of not being loved if you say what
you really want or how you really feel.
One of those subjects for us was gift giving to
each other. We consciously decided that we would
decide together what gifts we would give each other
on birthdays and at Christmastime because neither
one of us like surprises.
It so happened that we agreed about this subject
but it could very easily have escalated into trying
to fulfill expectations that weren't really
Now we're not suggesting that everyone needs to
cut surprises out of their lives, but this is what
works for us. What works for you may be something
The whole point of all this is to emphasize that
we all need to live our lives in a conscious manner
instead of guesswork.
So we suggest that instead of assuming, that you
talk and communicate your wants, needs and
interests to those in your life. This way, by
communicating openly and honestly, the chances of
you getting what you want in your life and your
relationships are much greater than if you
The Miracle of Choosing
At times, we all find ourselves in challenging
relationships, whether it's family, work situation
or with people in a club or organization we belong
to. Sometimes no matter how much we try, there are
relationships that just don't seem to work.
This week we found out about a miracle. A
miracle that proves that relationships can work and
can be healed-- even when healing seems
Otto was married to his first wife for 15 years
and during that time, she never did accept Otto's
parents. In spite of his ex-wife's obvious
indifference, his parents continued to honor the
mother of their Grandson. They continued to give
her presents and extend their love even after
This week we found out that a few weeks ago,
Otto's ex-wife paid a visit to his parents and
apologized for all the years of indifference. She
extended love to them as she never had before and
his parents accepted it with grace.
What an example of what can happen when you keep
a positive attitude about a situation instead of
downgrading the other person when things between
you aren't as harmonious as you would like.
As Wayne Dyer suggests on several of his tape
programs--"When given the choice to be right or to
be kind, just choose to be kind."
Otto's parents weren't concerned about "being
right." They didn't harbor a grudge against her for
her actions. They just chose to continue being
The same type of situation can happen at work
too. Maybe someone else got the credit for doing
something that you did. Maybe you got passed over
for a promotion that you felt you deserved. Maybe
you and a coworker just don't "click." Instead of
blaming someone else and taking it personally, try
choosing kindness instead.
When you find yourself upset about someone being
rude to you, treating you unfairly or even cutting
you off in traffic, don't take it personally. There
may be something going on with that other person
that has nothing to do with you that may account
for their behavior.
Instead of focusing your energy on being right
or getting even, why not try choosing kindness
So, this week we suggest that when you are
tempted to react to someone with anger, blame or
judgement, that you try choosing kindness instead.
When you do, you may be amazed by the "miracles"
that can happen in your life.
Relationship Quote of the Week
"We are not here to fix,change or belittle
another person. We are here to support,forgive and
heal one another" Marianne Williamson
"Breaking those old
relationship habits . . ."
What will your relationships be like in 2003?
Will they be better than last year? A little
better? Hopefully a lot better.
If your relationships are going to be better in
2003, you are the only one who can make them
better. The change has to begin with you.
So how do you make changes in your
A couple of weeks ago, someone wrote to us and
asked--"How do you keep from repeating old
behaviors and patterns that no longer serve you in
your relationships and in your life?"
The best thing we can tell you is that you have
to make creating the relationships and life you
really want more important than holding on to the
behaviors and patterns that no longer serve
This is what Otto is doing right now in the area
of health and fitness. Over the last 15 years he
has had a repeating pattern of gaining and losing
weight and then gaining it back again.
Otto has figured out that the only way he can
lose the weight he wants to lose and keep it off
permanently is to make health, having lots of
energy, and feeling good more important than eating
most of his favorite foods that have accounted for
his weight gains.
So far, Otto has been very successful at losing
weight--again--primarily because of his intentions
and the actions that have resulted from these
intentions--one exercise session at a time, one
meal at a time.
This is also the way we have made changes in our
relationship and in other areas of our
lives--starting with an intention and one action at
a time to move us to having that intention be part
of our daily experience.
If unhealthy behaviors or holding onto old
patterns is something you'd like to stop doing,
then start making a new choice in every moment.
*Instead of blaming and judging someone who you
habitually find fault with--try finding something
to celebrate in that person the moment you begin
the blame process in your mind.
*When faced with the choice of being right or
being kind, choose kindness.
*Before you say that unkind thing to a loved
one, consider whether this will bring you closer
together or tear you apart.
We could give you example after example of what
you might do but the point is that only you can
focus your attention on creating your relationships
and your life the way you want them to be.
To break destructive, habitual patterns that are
so strong in your relationships, you have to first
create your intentions for what you truly want and
then focus your awareness on making changes one
moment at a time.
Don't Take A Vacation From
Since Friday is Valentine's Day, we wanted to pose
our favorite question concerning romance and
fun--"Why can't everyday be Valentine's Day?"
We don't mean "Why can't it be February 14 every
day?" but we do mean "Why can't everyday be filled
with more love and passion than the day
This week we heard a commercial on the radio
that was a sad reminder of the myth about love,
passion and romance that prevails in many
This myth is that romance and passion is strong
in the beginning of a relationship but leaks out
(kind of like a tire going flat) after a few years
or maybe even after a shorter length of time.
In the commercial, one woman was describing to
another woman the wonderful gift she bought
herself. It was a candle that smelled like a
long-stemmed red rose. She went on to say that when
she lit this candle and smelled the rose scent, she
was transported back to the day, in the beginning
of her relationship with her husband, when he
bought her a single, red rose.
The commercial ended when she told her friend
that whenever she wants to feel close to her
husband and remember that time in their
relationship, all she had to do was light this
In other words, the creators of this ad were
suggesting that this candle can help recapture
passion and romance that you once experienced in a
relationship that you'd like to have again.
We think there's another way . . .
If you're in a relationship where the passion
and fire has dissipated, then we urge you to start
doing the kinds of things that will bring the
Go back to the beginning of the relationship and
remember what it was that you did to create
passion, romance and excitement and take some time
to do them now.
It doesn't matter if it was 10, 20, 30 years
ago--if those things were important then, they will
be important to the two of you now.
Being romantic doesn't always mean a dozen red
roses, a heart-shaped diamond and a bottle of
One of the things that we do that we've done
since the beginning of our relationship that brings
us close together is to read to each other.
This may seem like an unromantic thing to do but
for us, it is a way of connecting at a very deep
If you want a great relationship, there's no
such thing as taking a "vacation" from showing
appreciation, love and keeping the romance and
This week, if you are in an intimate
relationship, remember what the two of you did that
kindled your romance and do it again.
If you are not currently in an intimate
relationship, show your love and appreciation to
someone in your life in a way that is uniquely
Remember the song lyrics--"What the world needs
now is love"?
We think this is a great time to start
rekindling love with the important people in your
Find a way to start spreading love everyday and
it just might make a bigger difference in the world
than you think.
Making the Connection
As human beings, one of our deepest desires is a
connection with other people. This connection means
something different to each one of us.
It doesn't matter whether you're talking about
an intimate relationship or one between friends or
co-workers--we all want to connect with other
We define a connected relationship as one where
there is strong trust between two people. There is
unconditional love and acceptance, even when there
A connection with another is created by focusing
on that relationship, giving it the time,
importance and energy of something that you
It's also created by honoring the other person,
wherever they are on their path.
In order to create a truly connected
relationship, you have to get your ego needs out of
the way. This can take the form of pursuing power
over another or insisting on being "right," no
In order to have a connected relationship, we
think there has to be a balance of power and
vulnerability between the two people. This is why
we believe that the best way to have this balance
is to practice spiritual partnerships, where you
come together with another as equals, for each
person's personal and spiritual growth. You then
can allow yourself to show vulnerability, revealing
those inner-most parts of yourself that you usually
In our relationship, if we have not spent as
much time together as we normally do or if we have
not spent time talking about our inner-most
thoughts but focus instead on daily events, our
connection isn't as strong with each other.
As soon as we realize that this distance has
come between us. we take the time to reconnect.
The way we do this is to stop our "busyness,"
look at one another, hold one another, and talk
about what is really in our hearts. One of the most
important ways that we reconnect is to sit very
close to one another and look into the other's soul
through their eyes. We take our time and connect
from the solar plexus and the heart.
Not only does "busyness" cause a disconnection
in relationships, but also fear and apathy create
If there's a person in your life that you would
like to have a deeper connection with but don't at
the present time, it may be because of fear.
Take some time this week and look at where the
fear is coming from underneath the surface. Where
is the mistrust? Where is the belief that your
needs won't be met? Is it possible that what is
holding you back is "old stuff" from a previous
As we've said before, if it wasn't for fear,
we'd all have outstanding relationships in every
corner of our lives.
We recognize that it takes both people desiring
to have a deeper connection in order it to really
happen. But we also feel that one person can make a
So, take one small step to deepen a relationship
by simply listening with an open, non-judgemental
heart to the other person. Share something that you
haven't shared with him or her before.
Set aside the fear and take a chance. If you
want deep, connected relationships, you have to be
willing to work through the fears.
Relationship Quote of the Week
"Find out what a person fears most and that is
where he will develop next." Carl Jung
The Power of Opening
your heart. . .
To the 41 year old man who wrote to us this week
who's love left him--To the 20 year old woman who
was afraid to tell her friend that she wanted more
than a friendship with him--To those of you who
have been married 4 or 5 times and just can't seem
to get it right--And you, wherever you are in your
relationships--Here's something for you to think
Think about your baby or someone else's baby.
When he or she was learning to walk, did you think
to yourself that the child only had a certain
number of attempts at walking and that was it--no
Of course not--the child was allowed to stumble
and fall as many times as was necessary until he or
she learned to walk. The baby didn't give up, even
when it was hard, but kept right on trying until
he/she learned to walk.
That's the best advice we have to give--If you
want to create the relationship that you've always
wanted, you have to be willing to risk opening your
heart to another. You have to take on the
philosophy of "until" and keep trying rather than
shutting off all hope of ever findin the love you
As painful as it is to be in relationships that
haven't been exactly the way you want them to be,
you have to keep learning and growing "until" you
can do it differently.
Opening your heart to another person requires us
to risk. But to have an outstanding relationship,
there's just no other way. If you don't take the
risk of opening your heart, you will never have a
deep connection and it will stay on a superficial
Kenny Loggins writes in his song "Too Early for
the Sun," "Surrender to the sun, Surrender to the
Moon, Surrender to the rain, Surrender to the
stars, Surrender to your heart, Surrender to the
wind Take a chance, open up, and learn to love
"Surrender" in this case means "So what if you
messed it up again--you get another chance."
To us, opening your heart means honoring the
other by listening and by accepting without
judgement where the other is in his or her growth
process. Opening your heart means honoring the
other's history and being there to encourage during
times of change. Opening your heart can mean any
number of things to all of us.
The heart is a doorway--you can open it and
allow another person to come in or you can keep the
door closed and protected. Keeping it closed and
protected to shield you from the pain also shuts
out the joy.
No matter what the relationship--even the person
sitting next to you at the ball park--If you open
your heart to the other person and not pre-judge or
put up walls, then infinite possibilities of
connection and love are available.
As Kenny Loggins says in "The Unimaginable
Life"-- "We all long for love. Whether we know it
or not, everything else is just killing time."
Relationship Quote of the Week
"The holy relationship is a context where we
feel safe enough to be ourselves, knowing our
darkness will not be judged but forgiven. In this
way we are healed and freed to move on into the
light of our true being." Marianne Williamson
Staying open and not losing
We're reading a great book,"The Cultural
Creatives," and in it, the authors, Drs. Paul Ray
and Sherry Ruth Anderson, give the best description
of openness that we've heard--"Trusting yourself to
listen to others and not lose your sense of
We think these are good words to live by,
especially during this holiday season.
One of the challenges for many people is to stay
open to others and not lose themselves, especially
during holiday get-togethers, with family, friends,
co-workers and even intimate partners.
Many get caught up in other people's dramas,
losing sight of who they are and taking what family
members, co-workers and friends say or do
personally. They get caught up in playing old roles
and in old arguments before they realize what
This past weekend Otto attended a seminar and
during one of the breaks, had a conversation with a
man he had just met. With the furor of a television
evangelist, this man gave his views on a highly
charged subject to several people, including
Otto found himself listening with the intent to
appreciate and learn why this man was so
passionately attempting to win others to his point
of view about this subject.
Knowing how he felt about this issue, Otto was
open to listening to his point of view and
understanding where he was coming from but wasn't
willing to be drawn into an argument because he
didn't agree with him. Instead, he calmly told the
man that that was one way to look at the topic and
the man seemed to soften.
If you find yourself in one of those situations,
we suggest that you listen to understand and stay
open to the other person but in the words of Don
Miguel Ruiz, author of "The 4 Agreements"--don't
take it personally. Be the observer and stay in
How do you do that? Take a few moments to quiet
yourself and check in with what you are feeling in
the moment. (Even if you have to go to the bathroom
to take these moments of quiet for yourself.)
Breathe and get in touch with you. Find your inner
sense of direction.
We talk a lot about being conscious in your life
and in your relationships. When you are listening
to people, a good measuring stick to find out if
you are staying open without losing yourself is to
ask yourself how it feels inside when you "try on"
what they are saying. Are you feeling joyful,
excited or is there fear, anger, sadness?
Listen to your inner feelings and they will
serve as an excellent guide for you.
We think that your holidays, your relationships,
and your life with be filled with much more peace
and joy if you do.
No Time For Love? Think
As we continue reading all of your responses to our
question about the biggest challenge you face in
your relationships... One of the responses that
keeps popping up is "not enough time for love."
The typical scenario goes like this...two
demanding jobs, the kids, soccer, basketball, gotta
get the groceries, pick up the dry cleaning,do your
holiday shopping, somewhere in the middle of all
this--make dinner, sit down and watch a little TV,
go to bed and then do it all over again the next
The Holidays make it especially difficult
because there are a lot of "shoulds" that we feel
must be attended to during this time of year. There
are holiday parties , Christmas programs at school
or church, big family get-togethersand other things
we think are obligations.
Maybe the details of your situation are slightly
different but the feeling of no time for connecting
with your partner, mate or even a good friend will
probably resonate with you.
If you have felt that there are too many things
going on and there is not enough time to connect
with your partner or mate, we would suggest that
this is not a time management problem. It is an
issue of priorities.
The fact is that we all have the same 168 hours
in a week and we can either consciously or
unconsciously choose what to do with those hours.
The choice is up to you.
If you would like to have time to connect with
your partner or those you love, especially during
this holiday season there are some things we can
First, decide if you (and your partner) want to
make your relationship a priority.
If you do, we recommend starting with a
commitment of spending 30 seconds each day with
We know what you're thinking-- "I spend much
more time than that with my partner now."
Commit to stop what you are doing, look into
each other's eyes, and for 30 seconds express
unconditional love for each other.
If you do just this one thing each day, it will
change your relationship in a powerful way.
If you're both open to a deeper commitment,
choose a time each week when you can share with
each other your hopes, dreams and plans without
distractions, the kids, TV or household chores.
Start today to begin living your life the way
you want to live it. If your relationships are
important to you, then you have to begin making
them a bigger priority in your life.
If you're not married or don't have a partner,
don't discard this information and think that it's
irrelevant in your life.
One of the most important things you can do to
attract the kind of relationship that you've hoped
for and dreamed about is to make time and space for
it. In other words make it important and make it a
priority in your life
One of our missions is to help people be
conscious creators of their life experience.
If you want an outstanding relationship...you
have conscious and clear about your intentions.
There's just no other way.
Building Trust In
How do you build trust in relationships? We've
found the secret is constant communication, one
moment at a time.
Before we got together several years ago, we
both came from relationships that simply weren't
working anymore. We both had a strong desire for a
different kind of relationship--a relationship
filled with passion, love, honesty, trust,
friendship and most of all, partnership.
Safety and trust are the twin sides of the same
coin-- both involve risk and both form the
foundation of any great relationship. Safety is the
feeling you get when you have trust. Trust means
not only learning to trust others but it's learning
to trust yourself--especially if you've been in
lessthan desirable relationships or painful
relationships in the past.
From the beginning of our relationship, we've
practiced honesty and are committed to not hiding,
no matter how painful the truth is.
When you've been used to "sparing" the other
person or not saying something because it might
hurt their feelings or rock the boat, it's very
difficult to open up and speak your truth. But we
believe this is absolutely necessary to form a
solid foundation of trust between two people.
People often will trust a total stranger before
trusting an intimate partner because that total
stranger cannot hurt them like they imagine a
Tony Robbins tells a great story about how we
all trust every single day of our lives while
driving our cars.
He says "The fact of the matter is--it takes a
great deal of trust to drive down a road at 55 mph
with another car coming the other way at 55 mph and
only one white line separating the two of you. The
potential for danger is great--you don't know that
other person; you don't know if they've been
drinking; you don't know if they'll stay on their
side of the road. That, my friend, takes a lot of
The challenge is to exhibit the same amount of
trust in our relationships--knowing, believing,
trusting that the other person is acting from their
highest good --even if you've been burned in past
Two of the thought patterns that destroy trust
in relationships are dwelling on past pain (whether
with this person or others)and futurizing about
potential negative events that haven't happened
Every time your mind starts to make up wild
stories that involve abandonment, guilt,
jealousy--those old tapes that just keep running
and don't seem to stop--bring yourself back to the
present moment and differentiate the past and the
future the present. If you focus on "now" and what
you want, you will build trust between you and your
When we have these negative feelings, we talk
about them--not hiding them or hiding from them but
come from a place of speaking our truth and being
We've found that when we acknowledge that the
source of these feelings originated from past
experiences, the situation is not threatening to
the other person and we are able to let those
negative thoughts go.
If you place your attention on either worrying
about past relationships or question where this
relationship is going in the future, you lose the
opportunity to be in the moment for yourself and
You also lose the opportunity to build the trust
that you need between the two of you.
If you are in a relationship that has gone
through some challenges, you can't heal the
distance and pain between the two of you by
dwelling on the past or fearing the future. You
must look at where you are at the present time.
Build trust one moment at a time--remember what
Dan Millman said, "There are no ordinary
©2003 by Susie & Otto Collins
Other Relationship Issues,
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of The
National Men's Resource Center
©1996-2019, The National Men's Resource