How To Relax and Let Go Of
Constrictions and Restrictions That Keep Us From
Having The Love We Want
If you've been getting our articles for any length
of time at all, then you know by now that we can
find a love and relationship lesson in almost
anything and here's a perfect example of
Otto's foot has been hurting him really badly
for the past week. He had no idea why and since
we've been packing and gearing up for our move this
coming weekend, he certainly wanted to resolve this
problem as quickly as possible. He knew that he
needed to do everything he could to make our move
"pain-free" for him.
Today, he realized the reason for his pain and
it was something so simple that he just had to
laugh at himself...
He had been tying his shoe strings very tightly
and when he relaxed this constriction, his feet
began to feel a lot better. The pain is gone and
now he's ready to start moving boxes and
Think about this simple, embarrassing example of
Otto causing himself intense foot pain by tying his
shoes too tightly and ask yourself ...
How often do you do something similar to this in
How often do you create constriction and
restriction in your life and relationships by your
negative thoughts, assumptions, "stories" you tell
yourself about someone else's motivations,
criticism, judgments and any number of other
What if we rephrase the question to ask...
How often do you create constriction within
yourself that keeps the love, passion and
connection that we say we want at a distance?
The reality is that we create constriction and
restriction with ourselves and others much more
than we realize.
Imagine what our lives and relationships would
be like if we gave ourselves permission to relax
judgments of ourselves and others, as well as other
things that keep us separated from others.
If there's one idea that we've learned and
re-learned is that we and we alone are responsible
for our own happiness, pain, challenges and
creating restriction in our relationships.
If this is true (and we're sure that it is), we
can always make a different choice in every single
That different choice can mean relaxing our
strangle- hold on ourselves, a situation or another
person by using some or all of these ideas:
1. Look at "what is" instead of wishing
something, someone or some situation is different.
So often people try to "force" another person to
think like they think or act in a certain way. This
usually causes a great deal of restriction in the
relationship and one or both people can shut
themselves off emotionally because of it.
Looking at "what is" can help us to see the
situation or relationship as it really is and
soften or relax expectations.
2. Open to your emotional truth--your own as
well as to another person's truth. There might be
some feelings that you've been pushing down and not
willing to face. Although this can seem like an
oxymoron at the time, taking a look at what is real
for you and allowing the other person to tell what
is real for him or her can certainly lead to a
softening and more relaxation between the two of
3. Choose to focus on what you want rather than
what is missing. This may sound contradictory to #1
but it really isn't. If you are feeling restriction
in a relationship and you just can't seem to
connect with that person, begin to notice
connections with other people in your life.
These connections can be a smile, making eye
contact, or even a kind word with someone you meet.
Notice what feels good about these connections with
others and then start making more connections so
that you begin to focus on what you want more of
rather than what you don't want.
So this week, we invite you to look at how and
with whom you feel constriction in your life. We
all do from time to time because unfortunately (or
fortunately) that constriction often spurs us to
grow into being better people, healing our pasts,
and creating more love in our lives.
We invite you to choose not stay stuck in
restriction but learn and grow from it.
When you relax into love your relationships and
life will be much more connected than when you
3 Relationship Ideas For
Keeping Your Relationship Alive, Connected and
This week we've got a great relationship question
"What approach or philosophy about relationships
or marriage would create the highest short- and
long-term payoff in your life?"
In other words, what would be the best thing you
could start doing or start doing more of to create
more love and connection (or anything else) in your
With this in mind, we challenge you right now to
think of a relationship that you want to make
It could be your relationship with a spouse, a
child, a co-worker, a friend, an acquaintance--you
get the idea.
Now, think about how you'd like this
relationship to be more of the time.
Maybe you want communication to be better
between the two of you. Maybe you want more honesty
or more openness. Maybe you want to be "you" more
of the time and for some reason you aren't able to
be "you" in this relationship.
To show you what we mean, we're going to talk
about 3 approaches or philosophies that we use in
our relationship that keep it alive, connected and
While these ideas are not in any particular
order and certainly aren't the only ones we use to
create the close, connected relationship we have,
they are applicable for any type of
We offer them to you here as examples of how you
can make some simple shifts to create stronger,
more loving relationships.
Don't discount their simplicity, because their
simplicity is part of their power to create the
kind of relationships you probably want more
Idea or Approach # 1 Honesty
You may think that honesty as a "philosophy" is
something that is a "given" in relationships and
pretty obvious. But in many relationships, it
Even though there may be a lot of love in the
relationship, one person may not feel safe being
honest and may not trust that he/she will be fully
understood. So there's a lot that isn't said and a
lot that is assumed. When there are assumptions,
resentments usually follow.
Emotional honesty is sometimes the most
difficult kind of honesty to deal with. But what
we've discovered is that when we know what we are
feeling, we are better able to interact with others
and each other from a place of love and connection.
When we are not trying to hide our feelings from
ourselves or others, we are better able to move
Committing to emotional honesty, first with
yourself, is a very positive step toward creating
your life and relationships the way you want.
#2 Willingness to Open to Each Other
The degree that you are able to open yourself to
another is the degree of safety and trust that the
two of you have between you. A man we know told us
that he had noticed that his teenage son was
starting to share with him his hopes, dreams,
conflicts and much more.
When we asked him what had changed between him
and his son, he said that he had quit trying to
"fix" it for his son and instead, he has learned to
simply listen to him. The two of them are much more
willing to open to one another because there is a
new-found trust between them. There's also much
more ease and flow in their relationship.
In every relationship, we can choose to open a
little deeper to one another to allow more trust,
love and connection.
How can you open more?
This is the third idea we'll share with
#3 Always Have And Keep A Commitment to
When you commit to connection, you have to
challenge your "stories," your defensiveness, being
right and anything else that separates the two of
Committing to connection means paying attention
when you get triggered and telling yourself
something positive about your relationship or your
true feelings for the person. At these times, it's
also helpful to remind yourself that you have made
the commitment to connecting and keeping that
When the two of us become disconnected for some
reason or another, one of the best ways we use to
regain our connection as quickly as possible is to
simply remember that we've made a commitment to do
Our commitment to connection is important to us
and we think that it's a great way make any
Would a commitment to connection be a positive
step that you could take in your relationship?
What we have discovered is that it takes no more
energy and effort to work through issues, upsets
and challenges than it does to stay upset and keep
yourself distant and disconnected.
So... with our way of looking at it-- if it
requires the same amount of effort to create a
connected relationship as a disconnected one, why
not go ahead and go for the best?
That's what we do and what we recommend you do
as well if you want connection instead of
disconnection more of the time.
During Changes in Our Lives
If there's one thing that we know from first-hand
experience, it's how challenging it can be to stay
connected during major (or even minor) changes in
As you may know from reading past newsletters,
we're in the process of moving from a small town
and house where we have lived for many years to a
larger city about an hour away.
If you've made a move like this yourself, you
know the amount of "stuff" that has accumulated
during those years--and you have to move it, sell
it or give it away.
For us, the challenge has been to find ways to
stay connected through the stress of selling our
house, buying a new one and preparing to move to
our new location.
We know that moving is not the change that can
create challenges for a couple or other members of
your family to stay connected. We'll list just a
few and we're sure you could add many more to
- Birth of a child
- Loss of a job
- New Job
- New Boss
- Child leaving home for college or moving
- Financial challenges
- Health challenges
- Death of parent
- Becoming the care-giver for a parent
- Death of a child
And the list could go on and on...
The changes that can challenge your connection
can be major ones or even not-so-major ones.
Believe it or not, even planning and going on a
vacation or the kids starting back to school can
So how do you keep your connection through
changes, whether big or small, that come up in your
Here are some ways that we've used throughout
our moving process and have helped us...
1. Make your steps clear. Don't assume anything.
Talk with your partner or family member about plans
that you are mentally creating and about your
motivations and reasons for those plans.
We are constantly communicating, from the very
smallest decision like where to store boxes that
have been packed to larger decisions like what
furniture we want to sell, take with us to the new
home or give away.
If you're not constantly communicating your
mental plans and your motivations behind those
plans, it's easy for the two of you to create
situations where you are at odds and there's
2. Make sure that you truly listen to each other
During times of stress and change, it's very easy
to not focus your attention on listening to your
partner or the other person. You might be
distracted or in a hurry and listening simply isn't
If you want to keep your connection strong, make
listening to each other a priority. Stop your
busy-ness, take a breath, sit down and talk and
listen. When you do, you'll discover that things
just seem to go more smoothly.
3. Make sure you keep your sense of humor
Keeping a sense of humor can be a challenge in
stressful situations and not usually possible when
going through something like the death of a
What we've discovered is that if we can find
something to laugh at, especially during this move
when contracts have fallen through or closing dates
have been changed, we are better able to keep our
4. Keep Focused on What you Want It's so
tempting when your life gets stressful with lots of
changes to focus on what is being left behind or
what "used to be."
We've kept our connection and regained it when
we've lost it by changing our focus to what we are
going to rather than what we are leaving
No matter what the changes are in your life, if
you both focus on what you want, you'll be able to
move toward it rather than be holding on to the
There's no doubt about it--the changes that you
go through in your life can play havoc to your
relationship and can create disconnection.
If you are going through any kind of change
right now, we invite you to be proactive in
creating and keeping a strong connection with your
partner or others. If you do, you'll find that you
are better able to see the light at the end of the
tunnel and you might even start enjoying the
and Allowing Yourself To Shine
You may remember as a child singing the words "This
little light of mine, I'm going to let it
Recently, we bought Bruce Springsteen's
wonderful album and dvd "Live in Dublin" and one of
the selections in this unique and compelling
collection of folk songs is his version of "This
Little Light of Mine."
Bruce and the Sessions Band sing it this
"This little light of mine, I'm going to let it
shine...everyday, everyday, everyday."
What a simple yet powerful lesson for all of us
to remember to help us create the life and
relationships that we want.
So what does it mean to let your light shine?
And what does it mean to let our light shine in our
Does it mean that you have to constantly have a
smile on your face, no matter what's happening in
your life and no matter what's being done to you or
those you love?
We think the idea of letting your life shine is
very personal and unique to each person. It means
that we live our lives from inspiration without
hiding behind fear, mistrust, limitation and our
old negative stories about ourselves and
Dr. Joe Vitale and Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len have
written a wonderful book called "Zero Limits" and
in it, Dr. Len says that in every single moment,
you are living your life from either memory or
In other words, your thoughts and actions
originate either from experiences and fears from
the past or from a place of possibility, openness,
and a knowing that wells up inside you.
The "light" is this inspiration, the place from
which you act from or "shine" as much of the time
We'll give you a practical example...
As you may know, we've been in the process of
selling our house and buying another one in a
larger city about an hour from where we live
During this process, we've had plenty of
opportunities to notice whether we were acting from
a place of memory or from inspiration and shining
our light to each other, as well as the rest of the
When we've thought or acted from memory--events
from the past that need to be healed, we haven't
been open to each other and there's been a feeling
When we've acted from pure inspiration and love,
our connection has felt strong--and we've felt sure
of the steps that we are taking are the right ones
for us at this time.
So how do you live from inspiration and let your
light shine more of the time?
That's certainly a big question. It's one that
we live with every day and here are some ideas
we'll share with you that have helped us to live
from inspiration more of the time.
We think they could help you as well...
1. If you feel an uneasiness come up inside you
or you are triggered by what someone else is doing
or saying, stop yourself before you react from
"memory" or the way you've always reacted
Feel what's coming up inside you. You might know
where these feelings are coming from and you might
not be able to identify a memory or reason for your
feeling or reaction.
Does this mean that the other person is
Of course not. But if you want to live your life
with more ease and have more love, you have to
start with you and what's going on inside you.
2. Find a way to love yourself and that memory.
If you have no clue about what memory is coming up,
just keep loving yourself with your thoughts and
even your words. We've discovered that when we do,
the situation becomes easier and there's a feeling
of letting go and relaxation.
3. Allow room for inspired action. Open to
listening to the other person and say what's true
for you so the other can hear. True inspired action
can come from this type of honest dialog. We know
because this is what we try to practice in every
This week, allow your light to shine as you live
your life more from inspiration than memory.
If you do, you'll discover how much joy and love
can come to you.
'Non-Negotiable' To Create a Relationship that Is
More Fun, Exciting and Enjoyable
When there is something that is "non-negotiable" in
our relationships and lives, there's often a
negative, uncomfortable, closed feeling that goes
along with that thought or idea.
We've discovered that "non-negotiables" in our
relationships can actually make them dramatically
better and filled with much more love, passion and
Curious? Here's how...
Recently, we picked up Jack Canfield's book "The
Success Principles" and were fascinated by what he
said about commitment and how that relates to
creating great relationships.
In his book, he talked about making a "100%
commitment to the outcome" and that successful
people "adhere to the 'no exceptions rule' when it
comes to their daily disciplines."
He goes on to say that once you decide something
is non-negotiable, you don't have to think about it
anymore and life is easier.
Okay, so let's translate that idea to
For us, our commitment to each other is that we
connect on a deep level every day. It's
"non-negotiable" and we don't have to decide if
we're doing it or not. We just do it!
Whether we connect in person during our hour of
connection in the morning or by phone on the rare
occasions that we are away from each other--we
express our gratitude, appreciation, love, angst
and anything else that's important to us in that
moment in all sorts of different ways with each
We've discovered ways to make keeping our
commitment fun, exciting and enjoyable--instead of
something we "have" to do. That time is certainly a
high point in our day.
Another commitment we've made with our extended
family is to physically get together at least once
a month. Whether it's a picnic at a park in a city
that is central to all of us or it's an overnight
at Susie's sister's house to celebrate a birthday,
we are committed to connecting and having fun in
some way or another--with each other. This
commitment is "non-negotiable" for all of us.
So our questions to you are these...
What's non-negotiable, by choice, in your
What commitment are you willing to make to
create your life and relationships the way you want
them to be?
What are you willing to say that you'll make a
100% commitment to doing that will improve your
life and your relationships?
In other words, what can you choose to commit to
right now ( or in the near future) that could
change and improve your relationships for the
It might be something that you stop doing--like
judging and criticizing your loved ones or a
co-worker--or stopping what you are doing to
actually look at them when they are talking to
It might be something new that you begin
doing--whether the other person is in agreement or
It might be a commitment that you make with your
partner-- something that would revitalize and
re-energize your relationship.
Whatever this idea may mean to you, we invite
you to look at how you can open to experiencing
more love and connection in your life.
Spend some time thinking about and creating some
new positive and fun "non-negotiable" commitments
and let us know what you come up with.
We know from personal experience that when you
make new commitments that are "non-negotiable" that
will help you create more love,passion and
connection, the payoff can be amazing.
Finances & Differences In Relationships
There's no question about it...Differences over
money and finances are some of the biggest
issues that challenge couples and tear them
In relationships, the question always becomes
how to look at these challenges as unique
opportunities to heal and move toward
deeper connection rather than to disconnection and
So why does money drive a wedge between two
people who are committed to loving one another and
in many cases have an otherwise great
Here are a few reasons why...
1. Different backgrounds, values and
beliefs. We all come from different backgrounds
and carry different values and belief systems from
our birth families and life experiences. Sometimes
we don't even know why we carry these values and
beliefs but they still have a very deep hold on us.
We just know that they are "right" and can react.
unconsciously when someone goes against these
values and beliefs.
2. "Spender and Saver" Combination. If
there's one scenario we've seen over and over, it's
the "spender/saver" love combo. One person likes to
spend money ("You can't take it with you" attitude)
while the other person feels more secure saving
money with a "Just in case..." approach to life.
There's usually great love and/or friendship
between them but this difference usually is
difficult to deal with.
3. Never taught about money. Most people
aren't taught how to deal with issues that arise
over money and finances with a partner who may look
at life differently. They try to use their parent's
model-and that model may not work with the person
they chose to share their life with.
4. Two people/different goals for their
financial lives. One person's concern may be
paying for a child's college education while the
other person may want to save for a vacation home
or spend whatever money is earned right now.
So, how do you deal with these differences and
even create a deeper connection with a partner when
you have them? Here are some tips...
1. Look at your history, beliefs, and values
about money and finances. Ask yourself who was
your role model for your beliefs about money and
then question if these beliefs still serve you.
Susie's parents lived during the depression and
saving money was an important part of their lives.
So Susie likes the security of having a financial
cushion to fall back on-and lots of money in the
bank. To Otto, saving money doesn't have the
importance that it does to Susie. We've discovered
that we were both out of balance and needed to come
to the center on this issue.
2. Decide in advance how you are going to
handle the finances. Early in our relationship,
we decided to share equally the household expenses
but not combine our personal finances. It has been
important to us to feel like equal partners and
this was one way that we could do it. This may not
work in your circumstance. All we are saying is to
consciously decide about how you are going to deal
with finances before you get married, move in
together or make any kind of long-term commitment
to each other.
3. Talk about what each of you values in the
area of finances. What are your short-term and
long-term goals? Talk about them with your partner.
It's only after you know what's important to you
and your partner that can you create and keep a
deep connection with each other.
4. When misunderstandings come up, listen to
your partner and try to understand the frame of
reference he/she is coming from. Be open to
taking a look underneath at what you both think is
the problem-because more than likely it goes much
deeper than what it appears. When you listen to
each other and share with an open heart, you might
uncover and clear up some misconceptions and
assumptions about intentions behind your actions or
Years ago when we were discussing business
finances, Otto felt tight and restricted when Susie
used the word "budget." His frame of reference from
20 years in sales was that "budgets" were imposed
from some outside authority and meant
Susie's frame of reference came from managing a
library and she dealt with budgets every day. She
didn't feel triggered by the word "budget"--it was
just a business tool--but she was triggered by
It was only until after each of us understood
the other's frame of reference for this word that
we could make sense out of what was going on
between us and choose to connect with each other
instead of stay disconnected. We were also able to
discover some deeper fears that this "money" issue
In your relationships, whether you're talking
about money or anything else, It's important to
understand and respect your partner's needs,
desires, frame of reference and values, as well as
When you're trying to work through money issues
(or anything else) one of the big keys is "staying
open" personally and emotionally to your friend,
partner or beloved.
Another key is to chose to love the other person
anyway--even if they are different from you and
look at different issues in ways you don't.
Romantic Comedies and
This week, someone asked Susie such an interesting
relationship question that we thought we'd share
our thoughts about the topic with you.
This question and our answer are important to
anyone who wants more love and connection in their
relationships and life.
So what is the question we're talking about?
Susie and her sister were having a "girls
getaway," visiting their two cousins who live in
Richmond, Virginia, which is about an 7 hour drive
from where we live in Ohio.
The four of them grew up together and have been
very close friends since. They always have such a
good time at these "reunions" and one of the fun
things the four of them did in the evenings during
this reunion was watch romantic comedy movies on
DVD and laugh together.
You know the way romantic comedies go... there
are always bizarre twists and turns on the way to
getting the guy or girl of your dreams and the
movies that the four of them watched were no
In fact, in two of these movies, the couples met
and fell "in love" within a week.
As the four of them talked about the movies
later, Susie's sister asked if it was really
possible to fall in that kind of love in a
Susie thought that was an interesting question
because that's exactly what happened to the two of
We've been together for many years now, but we
were only acquaintances before going on our "first
As strange as it sounds and just like in those
romantic comedies, our connection was so strong and
so intense on that "first date" that we were
together as a couple from then on.
Whether you're in a relationship now and want
more spark, connection and love or you're not in a
relationship and want to be...
Here's the relationship lesson we'd like to
share with you in all this...
While we love a good movie about love and
romance, the one thing that's never told is what
you should do next after this initial attraction to
keep the spark alive in your relationship.
These movies focus on the fun and excitement of
the meeting, the attraction and the initial
Yes, the feeling that you've found the true soul
mate that you've wanted in your life can be
incredible because we know from our own
But why did this "big love" happen to us?
Was it a fluke?
Was is our destiny?
A divine plan?
Were we just soul mates destined to find each
Was it karma?
Can it happen to anyone?
These are all legitimate questions...
We believe that the reasons that we have this
"big love" and incredible connection are not just
answering "yes" to any of those questions.
As good as a new passionate, romantic
relationship feels, in our opinion, it's nothing
compared to what is yet to come if you just learn
how to keep your love alive with your partner.
We've discovered that anyone can have and keep
more love, more passion, more connection, more
trust, better communication and deeper
As we look at our relationship and the lives of
our coaching clients that we've helped to create
close, connected relationships, one thing is
The real magic in relationships happens after
the initial attraction that creates lasting love
and an incredible connection over the long
Whether you are currently in a committed
relationship or you are opening yourself to
attracting a new partner into your life, here are a
few things that we did and you can too...
1. Choose to look at your beloved with fresh
eyes and begin each day with gratitude. That means
letting go of old grievances after they've been
resolved and focusing on appreciating what you love
about each other instead of what's "wrong."
2. Do something every day to keep your
connection strong. It can just take a few minutes
of stopping your busy life to turn and look into
the eyes of your partner. Don't let a day go by
without renewing your connection.
3. Keep a sense of humor. You will make
"mistakes" and your partner will too. While it's
healthy to know what you want and don't want in a
relationship, be kind to yourself and your partner
when things don't go too well.
4. Keep passion alive. So many couples allow the
passion that was once there between them to die.
Keep it alive and growing.
Whether you are currently with a partner or are
available for a new relationship, begin creating
your own romantic comedy--with the idea that there
is no "ending" but simply a continuation of
passion, love and connection between the two of
Always be asking yourselves and each other ""how
can I / we open to more in this relationship and
You can always open more and you can always love
more. Every moment is a new opportunity to create
Very often we just have to let go of our
preconceived blocks and notions about what is or
Other times it's a bit more complicated than
just letting go of preconceived notions and ideas
but if your intention is to open instead of close
and love instead withhold then you're certainly on
the right track.
Sticks, Balls, Jumping In
The River and Opening To Love
For the past two weeks, we've been dog-sitting for
our friends' fun-loving, gentle, yellow Labrador
retriever (Nutmeg) and we're having a ball with
We've been taking Nutmeg on long walks on our
city's bike path and playing catch in the river
with balls and sticks. As we've gone on these
excursions, we've noticed a wide variety of
reactions to the dog from the people we meet.
A few days ago on the bike path, we walked past
two young children on bicycles and their
grandfather. They were all excited to pet Nutmeg
and she was equally excited to get their love and
attention. "Nut" has never met a stranger.
Several other people walked or ran by us without
a glance our way. One man skirted the other side of
the paved path as we passed and was obviously very
afraid of Nutmeg. He asked us in a low voice as he
quickly passed, "Does she bite?"
When we thought about his question, as well as
the various ways that people reacted to our adopted
dog--what a mirror for how we all look at
relationships and life so differently!
Some of us are open and friendly to strangers,
as well as to those we love. Some of us largely
ignore those we meet and those closest to us--and
stay in our own little world. Some of us are very
frightened of opening to others and keep ourselves
We've observed that these differences seem to
come from our beliefs and our past experiences--and
not so much from what's happening in our
So, this week, we invite you to notice how you
react to your loved ones and how you react to
Do you keep yourself very busy doing "things" so
you don't have to interact with people--either
strangers or your loved ones?
Are you open to stopping, making eye contact and
listening to your loved ones or even people you
Are you fearful of opening to something new with
your partner or even with people you haven't
Becoming aware of our reactions can show us
where and how we need to grow next. The important
thing is to notice what we do to keep ourselves
separate and then decide if we want the possibility
of more joy and love in our lives--and open to
Opening to the possibility of love, whether you
are in a long-term relationship or not, can be a
scary proposition because of habits, beliefs and
It may take some courage to say "no" to these
habits and try something different--if you want
more love in your life.
We suggest that you choose some way that you'd
like to open to more joy in your life this
Important Insights to
Understand When You Want Your Partner to Be
Different or Change
We saw the movie "Knocked Up" last weekend and
while some people may be offended by some of the
language and themes in it, we loved it.
We don't always agree with the reviews from
critics of a movie but we agreed with the reviewers
on this one--that it was funny and worth
There were so many life and relationship themes
throughout the movie and so many observations that
we could make about relationships. If you've seen
it, we're sure that you have plenty of your
But as we think about one of the major themes
for us from the movie, we remember what one of our
relationship teachers once said to us in a workshop
He said-- "Men marry women hoping they don't
change; Women marry men hoping they do"--and that's
one of the big themes in "Knocked Up."
Just like in real life, in the movie, the
question goes something like this--
Can the guy who doesn't hold a job, smokes dope
and seems really irresponsible become responsible
enough to become a good partner and parent?
Can women change men and if men do change, are
they happy after they change?
Good questions, huh? And ones many of us have
pondered more than once.
So what about trying to change your
Can you do it and is it worth it if you do?
In "Knocked Up," we get to see a close up of not
only the couple who are strangers (Alison and Ben)
that just got "knocked up," but we also get to see
the "inner workings" of the life and relationship
of Alison's sister and her husband.
This couple "had" to get married because she was
pregnant and now after 10 or 11 years later, we see
that both of them are restless and not feeling
loved or valued by the other. There seem to be
secrets between them that are pulling them apart.
They just don't seem to be "in sync" anymore and
plainly aren't happy.
Alison doesn't want to end up like her sister,
in a not-so-good marriage--so throughout the film,
she questions whether Ben (her partner and father
to their unborn child) can change enough for the
two of them to make a go of it.
We won't tell you any more of the plot in case
you haven't seen it but this did trigger some
thoughts and observations we wanted to share here
about trying to change a partner...
1. You truly can't change someone who doesn't
want to change for their own sake. Changing for
another person--whether it's to stop smoking, lose
weight, being a more attentive father or
partner--will only cause resentments later on. Each
person has to want to make the changes, independent
of the other person.
2. Men can and do change--and so do women.
Expect change to happen. If it doesn't, it just
means that the person doesn't want to be or act
different from what they are currently being or
acting. Look at your situation with hope but
3. Listen to each other and talk honestly about
what is going on inside you. In "Knocked Up," both
relationships could have been so much better if the
partners could have talked and listened to each
other without getting so triggered and
reactive--but then we wouldn't have had a story,
would we have?
4. Open your heart to understand your partner.
We are all very different and look at the world
very differently--even though we might now realize
it. Open to understanding what your partner's
hopes, dreams and desires are--and be willing to
In our relationship, we've learned that trying
to change each other just doesn't work. Love and
We've also discovered that change does happen in
relationships but that change comes from openness
and from a place of curiosity about what embracing
new ideas and new ways of being might mean.
Some times opening to these kinds of changes can
be scarry. But, what we've discovered is that no
matter how scarry opening may be, it's no where
near as painful as living your life closed and
emotionally shut down.
The bottom line is to make the changes that you
want to make in yourself so that you can create
more of what you want.
As we're sure you know, this week (on July 4th) in
the United States we're celebrating the founding of
our nation, freedom and independence.
Just like a lot of you, we'll be spending time
with friends and family and attending Independence
day celebrations complete with fireworks.
One thing that's for sure is, the idea of
independence means a lot of different things to a
lot of different people.
In relationships of all kinds, the idea of
"independence" is also pretty important and that's
because freedom, independence and inter-dependence
can be one of the stickiest issues that people and
couples have to deal with.
Since we're all so different, each of us has a
greater or lesser desire for freedom and
independence--and that's where the "rub" comes
If you're "too" independent in relationships,
there's little or no connection--no matter what
kind of relationship it is. There may be great love
but the other person can feel like something is
missing in the relationship and that he/she is
being held at arm's length.
If you're "too" dependent, the other person can
feel smothered and search for every opportunity to
have some freedom.
We see this dynamic a lot in couples who
struggle with jealousy but it can happen from time
to time in any relationship.
So how do you cope with varying desires for
freedom and inter-dependence--while still keeping a
close, connected, open, loving relationship?
How do you balance and honor a need for
independence as well as keep a strong
Here are some of our ideas...
1. Listen to yourself and know what you want. We
know that we sound like a broken record but in
order to connect with another person, you have to
learn to connect with yourself. Don't bury your
feelings, thinking that you are being "kind" in
acting in a certain way that you think the other
person wants or needs.
Not necessarily true.
You can't assume that you know best for the
other person. You can only listen to what's inside
you and then let the other person know in a way
that keeps both of you open.
2. Listen to the other person with an open heart
and stay in the present moment
Listening with an open heart means not assuming
and jumping to conclusions. It also means staying
in the "here and now," without leaping to the
future or staying stuck in the past.
All kinds of fears can come up when you tackle
these independence/inter-dependence issues and your
best line of defense is to stay focused on the
Don't play the "what if" game. It always brings
up fears that usually don't materialize.
3. Express what you want in a way that opens the
door between the two of you and isn't defensive,
controlling or demanding.
When you adopt a defensive manner when you are
expressing what you want, the other person usually
energetically "steps back" and can shut down any
connection or line of communication.
Be aware of your energy as you express yourself.
If you're unclear how you "come off" to others, ask
a trusted friend for some honest feedback.
Become aware of your tone of voice, your
non-verbal mannerisms and your words. You may be
surprised at the feedback that you get when you
Love is all about respecting and honoring each
other--and that includes honoring and understanding
each other's needs for independence and
What To Do When You or
Your Partner Is 'Caught Looking'
What should you do if you notice your partner
looking at an attractive man or woman?
This is an interesting question that pops up in
nearly every relationship at one time or another
and it's a much bigger deal for some people than it
is for others.
There are all kinds of possible answers to this
question of what to do when you "catch" your
partner, mate or friend looking at someone else and
here are just a few...
For example, you could say nothing, be silent
and pretend it never happened (again).
You could make a big deal out of it and create a
You could sulk and withdraw.
Heck, you could even try to punish them or
withhold something from them that you think might
get their attention and try to get them to change
If you really think about it, there are an
unlimited number of things you might do when you
"catch'" your partner, mate or friend noticing
And the most important question that ever needs
to be answered about this issue is this -- Will
your response be one that moves you closer to or
further from what you want?
Painfully, we must say that if your response to
your partner is like most people's response when
this happens, then you're probably creating what
you don't want instead of what you do want.
Most of the time you're probably doing this
without even realizing what you're doing.
Here's what we've discovered about "noticing"
other people and "attraction" that may be helpful
to you or someone you know...
Attraction is a normal part of being human.
Each of us is attracted to certain jobs,
friends, partners and activities and that's why
they are in our lives.
As for noticing an attractive man or woman that
is not our partner or the one we're with...
Unless you're dead or lying, almost every one of
us would have to admit to "noticing" an attractive
person from time to time.
It's normal and natural.
While all of this attraction is normal, it can
certainly get you (and your partner) into hot water
in your relationship if you aren't paying
It's been our experience that it's what happens
next after someone "notices" an attractive (or even
average looking) person that isn't their partner
that makes the difference in your relationship and
Here's what we mean...
When this happens, one of the first things you
have to figure out is... "Is he or she just simply
'noticing' or appreciating another person's beauty,
attractiveness, presence, or other gifts or is
there something really harmful going on?
After all... in most cases when this happens,
what you're really concerned about is the fact that
this other person appears to be getting your
partner or friend's attention that you want. Isn't
We think it's perfectly OK for you (or your
partner) to notice or look at someone else who is
attractive or interesting but in our opinion,
here's where the problems begin...
It's when whatever is going on--either real or
imagined-- gets in the way of your connection and
If your partner seems to be truly attracted to
someone else and it is interfering with your
relationship, here are some ideas for you to
1. Take some time alone and decide what you want
in your relationship. It's not good enough to
merely think--"I just want him/her to stop
flirting" or "I just want him/her to come home at a
decent hour." You have to decide what you want in
this relationship. Do you want more time together?
How do you want to connect with your partner? Do
you want more attention, kindness, or anything
2. Chances are that if you have felt your
partner being attracted to other people or
activities to the detriment of your relationship,
you've told him or her about it--and there's
probably been denial. Take a different tactic and
instead of "pushing against," talk about what you'd
like in your relationship and tell them how much
you want to be with them.
Don't ignore what you think is happening if you
get a feeling about it but also shift your focus to
making your relationship better.
3. Open your heart to listening to what your
partner wants and ask that your partner listen to
what you want in your relationship. Is there an
opening for each of you to strengthen your
4. Until your partner is honest about the
attraction--with himself or herself and with
you--it can linger there, even if you set a
boundary and it's honored.
Take a positive step toward what's happening and
remember it doesn't mean that you are lacking in
some way. It just means that you both need to be
honest about what's going on and decide what you
want for your relationship.
If you are attracted to someone and it is
interfering with your committed relationship, here
are some ideas for you to consider...
1. Take some time to feel inside yourself and
recognize what attracts you to this person or this
activity. What are you getting out of the
attraction that may be missing in other parts of
2. Be honest with yourself and don't dismiss
your partner's complaints, if there are any. Be
honest about your motivations and needs that are
being met by this attraction. It could be the
element of excitement or that you are getting the
kind of attention that you want. It could be that
you can be who you really are by being with this
other person--and you can't be that way in your
3. While we're not saying that your intimate
relationship has to fulfill all of your needs, we
are saying that if there is a deep desire to be
with another person or experience an activity that
dominates your thoughts and time, it's a call for
you to turn and focus on your intimate
relationship--and to shift your attention away from
4. Instead of being defensive and denying your
attraction, talk with your partner about what you'd
like more of in your relationship with him or her.
Open to what might be possible but be honest.
In the course of relationships, attractions can
It's what you do with them that make the
difference between whether your relationship with
your partner is alive and growing or it loses its
passion and love.
Romance and Pirates
Can you believe it?
We just found out that the movie "Pirates of the
Caribbean: At World's End" broke the record for the
highest worldwide six-day opening, with $401
As fascinated observers of our culture, we
couldn't help but wonder why?
Don't get us wrong... we really enjoyed the
movie but we wondered what it is that attracts
millions of people to choose to pay their money and
spend their time watching a movie like this.
Because we're also students of relationships and
are always on the lookout for insights into how to
create outstanding relationships, we couldn't help
but wonder if wasn't something we could learn about
creating successful, happy relationships.
Setting aside the vast media hype that's gone on
to promote this movie, we came to the conclusion
that the creators of "Pirates of the Caribbean"
give us what a lot of us find lacking from our
relationships and lives.
While we certainly don't want to spoil the plot
for you if you haven't seen the film, we do want to
give you a few take-away ideas to think about and
possibly apply to make your relationships more
Here are some of our thoughts...
1. The clever script had humor and wit. Most of
us enjoy humor and want more of it in our lives and
in our relationships. So the question becomes...How
can you look at situations in a more humorous,
lighter, more loving way? How can you expand to
include more humor or fun in your life?
2. The plot was filled with surprising and
unexpected twists and turns. How can you create
surprises that will bring you closer to the people
you love? It might be planning a special night of
romance or it might be doing something very
small--something out of the ordinary for your loved
3. There was passion at every step of the
way--romantic passion, passion for the sea,
following a good captain, passion to right a wrong,
to complete a debt. What do you have a passion for
in your life? How can you rekindle that passion if
it has dimmed or even died? What step are you
willing to take to create more passion in your
4. The characters passionately stood up for what
they believed in and "stepped up" for what they
wanted. What are you committed to having in your
relationships and are you willing to "step up" and
do the things that will bring you closer to having
It sometimes just takes a small action to move
you toward what you want, like making a connection
with your eyes with your beloved or with a family
member or friend. It sometimes takes a very small
action to stir up passion in your life.
If you haven't seen the new "Pirates" movie, go
see it because it's a lot of fun.
If you're like most people, you want to feel a
little more passion and excitement in your life and
watching this movie lets you have it vicariously by
spending a couple of hours in the theater.
Our suggestion is to not just live vicariously
through the characters and events of a movie (or
anything else) but to really live with passion in
all aspects of your life, especially your
When it comes to your relationships, we believe
that if you want more than you currently have right
now, you can have it.
You can create more passion, love, connection,
trust, intimacy and spark in your
It all begins with you and it all begins right
A Sure-Fire Way To Make
your Relationships Easier
If you've been following along with us lately, not
only did we "birth" our newest book "Red Hot Love
Relationships," but we put our house up for sale
during this month.
Getting the house ready to show to perspective
buyers has been no small task because we had
accumulated a lot of "stuff" over the many years
we've lived here.
So, the house and surrounding area looks
great--except for one thing...
Our neighbor's stuff!
Our neighbors, who are very nice people, have
accumulated lots of things that sit outside their
house and no amount of encouragement on our part
has led to their cleaning up that area.
As you can imagine, in our minds (and what we've
been told from perspective buyers), this is keeping
us from selling our house.
Now in this situation we have a couple of
choices about how to handle this. ..
We can keep blaming the neighbors for our house
not selling as quickly as we would like and
continue spending a lot of energy and holding on to
anger and frustration about the way our neighbors
are choosing to create their outside
Or we can make a choice to take a much healthier
approach and "relax into our frustrations."
What's all this have to do with you and your
relationships and how do you "relax into your
More importantly-- why would you want to relax
into your frustrations in the first place?
We'll explain it this way...
We're guessing that you have at least one
relationship in your life that frustrates
you--someone who you know if they would just follow
your suggestions, everything would be okay.
Sometimes it doesn't work that way. Sometimes
the people in your life don't do what you think is
best or what you want them to do.
In one of the chapters of our new book, we talk
about how to not make relationships hard work. This
pushing against someone else to follow your path is
simply hard work.
So what do you do instead of pushing
You relax into your frustration and be in
We'll explain what we mean by using our personal
When the thought comes up that we are never
going to sell our house because of these neighbors
and their "stuff," we need to recognize that that
thought is a faulty belief. We can ask ourselves
Byron Katie's question--"Is that true?"
In this case, the answer is "no." When we take
that new thought in, we can begin to relax our
bodies. Because the truth is that we don't know who
the "right" buyer is for this house.
We can also be grateful that they are nice
people who don't pollute the area with a lot of
Whenever frustration comes up again, we just
keep repeating the process.
Is this moving the sale of our house along?
We don't know. But what we do know is that we
feel better when we do this and it's a healthier
way to live.
So this week, if you find yourself becoming
frustrated because someone isn't doing something
that you think they should be doing--take a moment
and ask yourself our question and "relax" into your
We send you lots of love as you move toward what
you want in your life.
What You Can Learn From
This Magician's Bad Relationship Advice
We thought we'd heard just about everything until
we saw this...
It was an ad for guys about how to seduce the
"hottest" women by doing magic tricks.
Now, if you've been reading any of our
materials, you know that we are NOT about seduction
for the sake of manipulation.
We are about love, juiciness, aliveness, passion
But after we mulled over this magician's idea,
we thought that there was something that we all
could learn from it to make our relationships come
If you're like most people, you're probably
wondering how could it be that there's something to
be learned from this guy?
After all... there's something kind of creepy
about what he's doing and...
Yes, he's using "tricks" to get the attention of
beautiful women and...
Yes, he's teaching guys (gullible ones) that
seduction and tricks are the way to a girl or
Once you get past all this-- he's doing
something out of the ordinary that we can all learn
from that can have a truly positive impact on our
Let us repeat this so we make sure you get
He's doing something out of the ordinary.
That's right, that's what we're suggesting you
do in your relationships--
Do something out of the ordinary.
In the case of this magician-- he's teaching
guys that you can get the attention of another
person you might want to meet by doing something
you wouldn't ordinarily do.
Whether you are currently in a relationship or
not, choose to spice up your life by doing
something that is different from what you might
If you are single and want to be in a close,
connecting, loving relationship, go somewhere to
meet people who are like-minded--somewhere you
haven't gone before. Even if you connect with
someone who can be a new friend, take a chance and
open yourself to a new friendship.
The two of us met at a spiritual study group in
our small town and had known each other as
acquaintances for a couple of years before we got
together as a couple. You just never know what will
happen when you open yourself to new
If you are in a committed relationship or
marriage and want to get closer, take this
opportunity to spice things up with a new and
different experience. It doesn't have to be a huge,
planned or expensive event. It can be something
very small but whatever you choose, focus on
increasing connection, passion fun, and friendship
in your relationship.
This morning, during our connecting time, we
tried a new way of "melting" together.
Did it take much preparation?
No--it just took our desire to keep our
relationship alive and growing along with a little
experimentation and openness.
So our advice to you is to continually find new
ways to bring "magic" into your life and your
Start small and do one thing that can possibly
bring you more of what you want.
Plugging Up The Holes in
Are there any "holes" in your relationships?
If you're like us--the answer is yes.
In fact, in many relationships there are usually
quite a few "holes."
"Holes" are those things in your relationship
and life that you may know are there but it's
always a surprise when you fall into one.
Your relationship can be just fine one minute
and then before you know it, you've fallen into one
of those "hidden" holes again.
You can be thrown into a relationship hole by a
certain word or look from the other person. These
"holes" always create distance, disconnection and
even anger, sadness or a range of many other
The house we live in is over 130 years old and
just like a lot of relationships, there are many
"holes" in the nooks and crannies in the exterior
of the house.
At its core, our home is solid and stable. But
the fact is that until the past few months when we
decided to sell our house and move to another city,
we really haven't paid a lot of attention to
maintaining it. Of course the neglect was really
beginning to show.
Since we've been focusing our attention on
revitalizing it, the home is in much better
The truth is that whether you're talking about a
house or a relationship, if there are any "holes"
in them, they didn't just show up overnight. They
are there because you didn't notice them and then
fix them right away before they grew bigger. You
didn't focus attention on the house or the
We could move to another house but it wouldn't
be long before problems would start showing up in
our new house if we didn't do a better job of
maintaining it. So it is with relationships.
What does it mean to plug up the "holes" in a
It means doing the things every day and even
moment-to-moment that lead to a great
One of those things is giving the relationship
your attention. Many people get into a relationship
and then put it on auto-pilot. Then months or years
later, they wonder what happened.
If you haven't planned a date together in a
while, take some time right now and plan some type
of get-away even if it's just for an hour at your
favorite restaurant or a walk in a park alone
together. Make some time for the two of you to be
together and to enjoy each other.
No matter what kind of relationship--paying some
attention to it can help plug up the holes.
Another thing that we find helpful is to be
honest about what you are feeling--with yourself
and with others.
This means whenever something comes up between
you and another person, don't let it linger and
become an even bigger issue. In other words, if you
tackle these issues when they're small, you can
certainly avoid falling into huge "pot holes" later
Fixing a relationship with holes may not be an
overnight process but it can be done if both
partners in the relationship are committed to
making it better and stronger.
Kiss Offers Many Lessons For All Of Us
During the past few weeks, there has been a furor
over Actor Richard Gere kissing Shilpa Shetty on
the cheek during an AIDS awareness benefit in
There's even been a lawsuit brought against Gere
over his actions and there's talk of arresting
Shetty as well.
While we're not avid followers of Hollywood
gossip, this story was intriguing to us because
this is much to be learned about relationships if
we really think about this incident for a moment.
This whole situation has been very polarizing
for different groups of people.
Some people are dismissing these allegations as
the actions of extremists and that they are
embarrassing to the Indian culture. Some people are
saying that Gere was out of line and that he should
have known better.
Needless to say, if this had happened in the US,
this would certainly not have been an issue. The
reality is it happened in India and because of this
it is a problem.
So what does all of this have to do with your
Plenty and here's why...
All of our actions come from our beliefs,
experiences, and attitudes--and we are all
Actions that are acceptable to one person,
another might find objectionable and even
offensive. Whether it's a relationship in the
workplace, a friend, family member or intimate
partner--we are all triggered from time to time
about what others say or do.
Their actions and words may bring up feelings
that we may not even know existed and may not be
aware of why we feel that way.
These differences in beliefs, experiences and
attitudes are how misunderstandings are created. We
disconnect from others when we make assumptions
based on our own view of the world.
A good example of this is when a woman asked us
a question about her relationship that had recently
ended. She told us that she was getting conflicting
signals from her "ex" and didn't know what to think
about her situation and how or whether to move on
Her "ex" had told her that he didn't trust her.
When we asked her if she knew what she had to do to
regain the trust of her "ex," she didn't know.
We told her that if she wanted to make that
relationship better--whether it remains intimate or
changes form--she had to find out what it would
take for her ex to trust her again. She had to
discover what his world view is when it comes to
trust and then decide is she wants to do what it
would take to regain that trust.
So, what do you do if you are caught in one of
these misunderstandings or are at odds with someone
who is important to you?
Here are some ideas for helping you to untangle
yourself if you find that you are stuck in one of
1. Become aware of the assumptions that you may
be making in the situation and what assumptions the
other person may be making.
2. If you don't know what assumptions the other
person is making, ask for clarification. Several of
the reports on the Gere story intimated that the
majority of the Indian people didn't condemn Gere's
actions but were silent about it. Don't be silent
if this person is important to you. Ask for
3. Question your beliefs. Decide if your beliefs
will allow you to move forward in this situation or
if you need to modify or change them in some
You get to decide what you believe and how you
act on those beliefs in your relationships. We say
this often--be a conscious creator in your life and
decide how you want to live it.
While we don't know what will happen to Richard
Gere and Shilpa Shetty over this incident, we do
know that it's the human condition to have
different viewpoints over the same situation.
If we want to create great relationships, we
have to learn to understand each other and to open
to understanding ourselves at a deeper
What are You
We'd like you to imagine for just a moment that
there is an unlimited amount of love, passion,
connection, abundance (and anything else that you
want) available to you in your relationships and
If this is true (and we believe that it is),
then we'd like to ask you this question...
What resistance to experiencing more of what you
want are you feeling in your relationships and life
Resistance might be coming in a variety of
ways--but the truth is that if there is an
unlimited supply of love and abundance, then at
some level you are undoubtedly blocking or
resisting what you want from being a part of your
Susie's feeling a lot of resistance right now
toward moving on to a larger city and leaving her
house of over 30 years and the small town where
she's lived since 1969. She "knows" deep inside
herself that this is a good move for her and for
us, but within that "knowing" is a resistance to
Like Susie, you may be challenging something in
your life or relationships that you have a deep
"knowing" about. You might be saying to yourself
"Yes, but..." and "That won't work for me." If this
is the case, then these are small examples of
There may also be other forms of resistance that
are present for you, such as resistance to "what
is," resistance to opening wider to your partner,
resistance to claiming something positive for your
life, resistance to letting go of limiting beliefs,
resistance to allowing the time, energy and focus
that this path might take.
To go back to our example of Susie's
She has the most difficult time when she slips
into believing his negative, limiting thoughts that
in the new city, she'll never have what she has in
this house and beautiful natural setting.
The reality of the situation is that even though
this house is located in a private, wooded setting,
both the130 year old house and its surroundings are
more than we want to take care of right now.
There are also things like a garage and a
bathroom off the master bedroom that appeal to
Susie in a newer house. To top it off--her
grandsons live in the city where they are moving so
she will get to be with them more often.
So the truth of it is--although Susie is
resisting this move in some ways, there are some
wonderful, positive advantages for letting go of
In relationships, people hold onto old, limiting
beliefs that create resistance without taking a
good look at what is currently happening in the
present moment and the outcome that they want.
They hold on to grudges and things that have
been done to them in the past without looking at
what's going on right here and right now.
We've discovered that holding onto resistance is
hard work--like hauling a ball and chain around
with you all of the time.
While it may not be "easy" to let go of whatever
you are resisting, we've discovered that when we
do, we feel lighter and more love comes into our
The trick is to spend as much of your time,
effort and energy as possible focusing on the
positive outcome that you want to happen instead of
focusing on any short-term pain that you may feel
as you work through any personal or relationship
challenges that seem to keep you stuck in a place
you don't want.
Pay attention to any negative emotion that
arises. Ask if what you are telling yourself about
what you are resisting is true. Often, there's no
truth to your fears and even if there is some
validity to your resistance, make a choice to focus
on where you want to go.
In life and relationships, it's up to each
person to decide what he/she wants and not let
something we perceive as difficult get in the way
of having something amazing in any area of our
We suggest that you begin creating your life on
purpose, whatever that means to you, especially
when it comes to your relationships. Look
resistance right in the eye. Then, make the
decision that you are not willing to allow your
resistance to keep you from having what you
The Pursuit of
Recently, we watched the movie "The Pursuit of
Happyness" which gave us much food for thought
about overcoming challenges while holding the
vision for what you want.
The story was based on parts of Chris Gardner's
life story and although we don't want to spoil it
for you if you haven't seen it, the film is a great
example of someone who is successful because he
held his vision and he was willing to do what most
people aren't willing to do.
He was persistent in following his dream, even
when everything seemed stacked against him and his
vision was more powerful than the pain in the
Having this kind of vision, focus, persistence
and doing what few are willing to do is what it
takes to have a great relationship--of any
We'll give you a small, practical example of
what that means...
Last night, while Susie was at her pilates
class, Otto left to go exercise and to do a few
Because he hadn't left a note saying where he
was and he couldn't remember whether he had told
Susie he was going out or not, he called home when
he knew that Susie would be there. He let her know
where he was and what time he might be expected
Because of his vision for what he wants in an
intimate relationship, he did something that other
people may consider an act of a "hen-pecked"
At another time in his life and with another
partner, he might have felt that making a phone
call of that sort was restricting his freedom and
he wouldn't have done it.
Now, he knows that that phone call was an action
of courtesy, respect and love--and in keeping with
the vision that we both have for our
Many people write to us about their relationship
challenges and if one thing is clear from what they
write, it's this...
They don't have the relationships that they
really want because they are focusing so hard on
what they don't want instead of holding onto their
vision for what they do want.
Unlike Chris Gardner (the main character in the
movie "The Pursuit of Happyness"), many people are
choosing to allow the challenges they are faced
with to stop them cold in their tracks.
Simply put-- many people (who don't have what
they want) aren't willing to do the things that
other people are willing to do to create what they
Now, we all get stuck in our challenges from
time to time, but what can move us out of them is
making a shift in thinking to where we want to
Is that positive thinking mumbo-jumbo?
No, it's simply focusing our attention in a
different way to move through challenges that
present themselves in our paths.
Alan Cohen, in his book "Relax into Wealth,"
tells a great story about selling his car. As he
was driving to meet a potential buyer, the car
stalled and quit. The buyer of course didn't buy
the car at that time.
As the car was being towed, Alan held his vision
that the car would sell and that he would do what
it took to repair it.
The repairs turned out to be minor and after the
car was fixed, he called the potential buyer and
she bought it.
Are relationships that simple to "fix"?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no--but what we know is
that if you hold your vision for what you want and
do things to move toward that vision, it may not
look like you originally thought, but your life
will change in positive ways.
Here are some questions to help you create the
relationships that you want...
1. Create your vision. Many people don't have a
vision for what they want in their relationships
and creating one is the first place to start. What
do you want your relationship to look like? To feel
2. What types of things do you need to be doing
to move toward making your vision a reality? Do you
need to change some thoughts or actions?
3. What can you do to create what you want that
few people are doing? This week, we invite you to
look at the vision you want for your relationships
and life. Renew your resolve to move forward toward
Using Agreements to
Resolve your Communication Issues
We all have different ways of looking at life and
those differences can certainly cause communication
breakdowns and disconnection in our
The story we're about to tell you will
illustrate how to communicate with another person
and create an agreement that not only works but
also helps facilitate a closer and more connected
relationship between two people, or even more.
When you read this story, don't make the mistake
of thinking that "this doesn't apply to me."
While this actual situation we describe may or
may not apply to you, what's important and what
will be helpful to you is to see how we took a
challenging situation early in our relationship and
created an agreement (actually several of them)
that helped us to draw closer and at the same time
work through this challenging situation.
When we first got together, Susie was used to a
neat, clean home because she had lived by herself
for awhile before getting together with Otto.
Otto has a now 16 year old son from a previous
marriage who visits twice a week and is with us
every other weekend.
When a rowdy, young boy entered the picture,
Susie spent a lot of time, effort and energy trying
to get him to pick up after himself.
Back then, the problem was that Otto's son never
seemed to get the idea and it seemed that he always
had to be reminded of what was expected of him.
As a result, Susie would become frustrated, Otto
would become angry and his son would retreat into a
video game or a television show to avoid the
We (Susie and Otto) decided to practice what we
preach and create some agreements between the two
of us about what our expectations would be
concerning Otto's son and how we would deal with
various situations when he was with us.
One of our agreements was that Otto would be the
one to remind his son to pick up his clothes and
dirty dishes if there was a need to. And Otto would
do this with humor and love before his son's
bedtime each evening. Susie agreed to not worry
about whether all this would happen or not and to
trust that Otto would take care of it.
Fast forward several years--Because of our
agreement, Otto's son now takes more responsibility
for picking up after himself. There also seems to
be more ease and flow with all of us during the
times he's with us.
The point is that we came to an agreement about
how we were going to handle that situation and then
each of us followed through.
Since it was his son, Otto felt that he (and not
Susie) needed to be the one to "parent" and Susie
agreed to lighten up about her expectations around
We figured out that what Otto's son really
wanted from him was love and attention. With this
agreement, his son gets both in a much healthier
way and we also get what we want.
We are telling you this story as a reminder that
you can create your relationships and life the way
you want them to be. You can also unravel those
sticky communication issues.
Opening up and telling each other how you feel
is a beginning step to making agreements. You do
this by not blaming but by simply saying what it is
that you want and looking at possibilities.
We could not have made the agreement that we
made if we had hung onto blaming each other and the
idea that we were each "right" in this
In any of your relationships, you have to be
willing to make the commitment to communicate with
each other no matter how painful it becomes. You
have to speak your truth and you have to listen
without judgment to what the other person has to
If you aren't in the habit of creating
agreements with the people you live with or work
with, start now. When you do, your relationships
will go from where they are to where you have
always hoped they would be!
We'll have quite a bit to say about this and
many other communication challenges in tomorrow
night's teleseminar that we described in the "News
and Notes" section of this newsletter. We hope you
can join us.
Dealing With Virginia
Tech, Chaos and Tragedy
We've All have had to deal with tragedy at some
different times in our lives.
This week, just like you, we've watched as the
story from Blacksburg, Virginia and Virginia Tech
has unfolded about a very troubled student and how
his rage ended in tragedy for many families.
Whether we know anyone at Virginia Tech or not,
we all have been affected on some level by the
massacre that happened there this week.
We've watched as the students and people from
all over the world have come together for comfort
and support, calling themselves a family.
We've also watched as commentators have blamed
the officials in one way or another. We all have
different meanings and interpretations about what
it all means to us.
So the question is--How do we deal with this
tragedy or with any tragedy in our lives?
How do we still find love in our hearts and how
do we still open to one another in spite of the
chaos and senseless tragedies that frequently
happen in every corner of the earth and in our
When 9/11 happened, the two of us were attending
a spiritual retreat and one of our wise teachers
told us something that we'll never forget.
She counseled us to keep in touch with what was
going on in the world but to remain centered.
According to our teacher, you "remain centered" by
finding the silence within yourself where you feel
only love. You can find this silence in prayer or
meditation. Meditation can take many forms--seated
meditation, dance meditation, fishing, running,
hiking, in the shower or even sitting on a crowded
At that retreat, we also had the feeling of
being supported by our "family" during this time of
fear and uncertainty, in much the same way that
we've seen the students at Virginia Tech drawing
together in love this week.
In the face of any tragedy, whether it's one
that touches many people or just you and your
family, we suggest that you draw together for love,
comfort and support but also allow yourself to move
into the silence within yourself.
Take a moment when you start to feel
overwhelmed, quiet your mind and feel yourself go
within, feeling only divine love.
If the chatter and fear in your mind starts
getting loud, bring yourself into the present
moment instead of dwelling on the past or worrying
about potential future events that may never
Make a choice to focus on love instead of the
You don't need to sit for long periods of time
to feel the changes that will happen if you do this
periodically during the day. It often just takes a
change of focus and the silence can support that
We recently listened to one of Wayne Dyer's tape
sets where he quoted Herman Melville who said
"God's one and only voice is silence."
That's what happens in meditation--you find
"God's one and only voice."
No matter what has happened in your life, these
short periods of replenishing silence will help you
to mourn when you need to mourn, help you to feel
what you need to feel and to help you let go of
what you need to let go of in order to move forward
in your life.
It doesn't mean that you can't feel anger, hurt,
sadness because those are all natural emotions to
feel when there is tragedy. We are saying to do
what you can to focus on love instead of hate and
the best way to start is by becoming centered
Maybe, just maybe, if you focus on love and we
focus on love, and our neighbor focuses on
love--even though there is tragedy in the
world--peace may become a reality on this
magnificent earth. This is our hope.
Are You Moving Closer to
or Further from What You Want?
It's an absolute fact that we ALL talk to
The important question is-- What do we say when
we talk to ourselves?
Think about the times when you talk to
What do you say to yourself?
Does it help you or hurt you?
Does it move you closer to or further from what
you say you want in your relationships and
These are certainly questions worth considering
and ones that can help shift you from
disempowerment to empowerment in a matter of
moments if you are open to the answers that come
back after asking questions like these.
After one of our recent workshops on creating
greater intimacy in relationships, we overheard a
woman say something that brought up a very
important idea that we wanted to share with
The essence of what we overheard this woman
saying was that she could never have the kind of
relationship that we had just described in our
In our presentation, we had shared ways to open
deeper to others.
We gave some communication and trust-building
skills and we talked about what was possible when
it came to deeper intimacy in and out of the
What was interesting about this woman's comment
was that she, herself, was not open to something
better for her own life.
She had already made a judgment that it was
great that the two of us have been able to create a
beautiful, loving, close, connected, passionate and
alive relationship but it was impossible or "out of
reach" for her and her life.
Even though we've talked about this idea many
times in this newsletter column, it's worth
If you want something different or better for
your life, you've got to begin doing different
things, in different ways in order to have
It's hard to say for sure, but it appears that
this woman was unable or unwilling to see beyond
her present situation and her present thoughts,
attitudes, fears, beliefs and actions that are
creating her current reality.
She was unwilling to make one small shift to
improve her life and her relationships. She wanted
to continue doing what she had been doing instead
of looking toward something better.
We all get to choose how we want to live our
lives and we're certainly not judging this woman's
Like this woman, for many people it's easier to
make an unconscious decision about their lives and
say, "I'll never be able to have that" than to take
a step toward what they want.
So, to create what you want, does it just take
thinking good thoughts?
Recently, Otto watched an interview with James
Arthur Ray that was really interesting. As you may
recall, James is one of the presenters in the movie
In this interview, he was asked if thinking good
thoughts was all it took to be able to create or
manifest all that you want for your life. He said
that he believes that to be able to create anything
that you want, you have to get your thoughts,
beliefs and actions lined up toward creating
exactly what it is that you want.
We think James is right because this has been
our experience in our own lives and in creating our
If you are wanting to move closer to what you
want in any part of your life, here are some
suggestions that have helped us...
1. Take something that you want in your life.
Look at your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about
having it. When Susie looked at moving from her
home of over 30 years, she saw that the thought and
belief of "I can't have what I want in our new
location" was present for her.
2. If the thought or belief is contrary to what
you want to move toward, challenge it every time it
comes up in your mind by asking this question-- "Is
3. Each time you think this thought or belief,
change it to one that is a better thought and one
that you can believe. Susie can believe that it is
possible to have what she wants because she has
seen areas at the new location that have what she
4. As Otto's father has always said-- sometimes
you have to "Put legs on your prayers." To us, this
means take one action step toward what you want and
then take another.
Right now and for the past few weeks, we have
been periodically taking trips to the new area
where we are moving soon and looking at houses.
We are sorting out what we want and don't want
in these searches. In other words, we are lining up
our energy, as James Arthur Ray says, to create
what we want.
You can do this in any part of your life,
especially to improve your relationships.
When it comes to your relationships, what
thoughts or beliefs do you have?
Are these thoughts and beliefs taking you toward
what it is that you want in your relationships and
life or are they moving you further from it?
Are the actions you are taking moving you closer
to or further from what it is that you want?
The choice is always yours.
One of the keys to more intimacy in your
relationships and your life is to be open to the
other people in your life.
In Stephen Covey's book, "The Seven Habits of
Highly Effective People," one of the seven habits
is to "seek first to understand and then be
We think this is a great principle and we have
recommended this idea to many people.
We also think that when it comes to the idea of
creating more intimacy in your relationships, there
is another "first" idea that we think you'll find
to be equally important.
It's called "open first."
What do we mean by "open first" and how can you
use this idea to create deeper intimacy in your
relationships and lives?
In every relationship, one person always has to
be the initiator in every situation.
One person is always the initiator of asking for
the first date, the first kiss, and to suggest an
activity or choose a restaurant. One person has to
be the one to ask the other to marry them or to at
least suggest it. Even if both people want the same
thing, one person is always first.
So if one of the keys to more intimacy and
deeper intimacy in your relationship is to open,
then be the initiator and open first if you want to
create something greater than you are experiencing
right now. If it's a new relationship and you'd
like to go deeper with this person, then open
If you're in a long-term relationship or
marriage, and you would like to feel closer and
more connected, one of the keys to more intimacy is
opening. If you're not sure whether your partner
will open to you first, go ahead and do it
yourself. Open first. It's sort of like walking
into a building--one person has to be the first to
This can also be a little bit like sticking a
toe in the water. When you go into the ocean in the
off-season, as we did during our recent vacation,
to see whether you want to put your whole body in,
you usually just stick a toe in as we did.
When you do this, you are seeing how much you
can open to going into the ocean with your whole
body. In the case of our recent visit to Folly
Beach, the ocean was too cold to go in very
It's the same way when you are in a relationship
with another person. One person has to be the first
person to stick his/her toe in the water--and then
invite the other person to come in.
In relationship, if you are the first to be
warm, open and inviting, then the other person you
are in relationship with will likely join you and
open as well.
You might be saying well that's all well and
good but what if the other person ignores me? Where
do I start?
A typical scenario might go something like
"I just want my husband to open to me. He comes
home sits down in front of the tv and doesn't move
until bedtime. What can I do?"
"My wife talks on the phone for hours with her
sister but she rarely even looks at me when I talk
with her. What can I do to get closer to her?
In both of these cases, the place to start if
you want more intimacy is not to wait on your
partner to open. You open first.
We suggest that you start revealing feelings,
not from a place of blame or judgment or
complaining but from a place of revealing who you
You can ask for attention from a place of
wanting to connect deeper rather than taking an
opportunity to chastise the other person.
When there is a disconnection and you want more
connection, one person has to make the decision to
open first. There has to be a softening and an
opening of space between the two people so that
healing, connection and understanding can
Does that mean that you have to be a doormat and
always cave in to the other person?
Softening and opening means simply pulling
yourself away from blame, righteousness, or
punishing. It means stopping the mental chatter and
stories and allowing love to live between the two
One of the important aspects of "opening first"
is learning to receive love as well as to give it.
Don't confuse giving love and kindness or "doing"
with true intimacy. True intimacy asks that you
learn to receive love, connection and intimacy as
well as to give it--and that might be very hard for
people who show love by "doing."
If you think about this idea of opening
first--what we're really saying is be proactive
instead of passive in creating more of what you
want for your relationship.
A question to ask yourself this week is
If there is ANY place in any relationship where
there is a problem, challenge or distance, how can
I open first to connection and intimacy, either to
give or receive love?
Can You Be Too Honest
The other day, we were asked an interesting
question about relationships. The question was--How
honest is too honest in relationships?
In other words, this person wanted to know if we
thought you can damage a relationship if you are
This question doesn't just apply to intimate
relationships or marriages. It applies to every
relationship that you're in--friends, family, and
In our opinion, there's no such thing as being
too honest in a close, connected, alive
relationship--no matter what type it is.
With that being said, we recognize that there
can be some problems with honesty and here are a
1. Saying or doing something that is
inappropriate for a given situation
We remember being at a funeral for a friend's
husband and we were shocked by the eulogy that
portrayed him as a model husband and father. That
was not what we knew of him through our friend.
Did we express our shock at the funeral?
Of course not! We did, however, tell our friend
about our observations at a much later time and in
a private setting.
2. Having the conscious or unconscious intention
to hurt the other person with your "honesty" or to
mask the "real" issue
One woman wrote to us that her husband
constantly tells her that he wants to make love
with other women.
Now while we don't know why he is motivated to
do this but we do know that there is a bigger
dynamic between them that needs to be addressed.
His "honesty" is a smoke-screen covering the real
3. Giving your honest opinion without being
This was one of the big lessons that we had to
learn in the very early days when we started
helping people with their relationships.
We were trying to "help" everyone (whether they
asked or not) and what we quickly figured out is
that not everyone wanted help with their
In fact, if we were out in a social setting and
trying to "fix" them by giving advice that was not
requested, they would shut down and close to
So what have we learned about honesty and what
are some ways that we can all live in integrity
with ourselves and the people important in our
Here are a few tips and ideas about honesty in
relationships that are worth considering...
1. In our relationship, we've agreed to being
totally honest with one another--and it's a
We might "feel" into each other for the
appropriate time to speak if it a "touchy" subject,
but we are committed to being emotionally
transparent with each other.
2. We've learned to always ask others, as well
as each other, whether the other person wants our
advice or if they just want us to listen.
Sometimes, other people just want to be heard by
someone and are not asking for advice.
We've found the phrases "Would you like some
feedback about that?" or "Are you open to a couple
of comments about what you just said?" to be
helpful when you feel like you have advice to give
but don't know if the other person is wanting
advice or not.
3. We've learned that sometimes we withhold some
of our feelings, opinions, and certain experiences
because we don't trust that the other person will
understand and accept who we truly are and our
"honesty" could cause unnecessary pain and even
In these relationships, the level of intimacy
and the cost of withholding ourselves is relatively
While these are not the best kinds of
relationships, sometimes we find that in order to
interact within a group (an extended family or
certain friendships are great examples of this), we
are not totally forthcoming.
While we might be making certain assumptions, we
also are learning whether we can trust or not and
at what level.
A few questions to ask yourself when trying to
decide whether to be totally honest with someone or
not might be these...
1. What level of intimacy do I want and think I
can have with this person? Is what I have to say
necessary to maintain the level of intimacy or even
take the relationship deeper with this person--if
this is what I want?
2. What are my motivations for saying what I
want to say to this person? Am I just wanting to
get something off my chest no matter what the cost
or will it further the relationship if I say what I
want to say?
3. What problems will I create within myself if
I withhold this information? Am I getting
physically ill by keeping this information from
Honesty in relationships is a huge topic and
these are just a few of our thoughts.
So this week, we invite you to consider what
honesty means in your life.
Models and The Secrets To Lasting Love
If you want to create a great (or even good)
relationship or marriage, here's something you
might want to keep an eye open for...
Whether you are currently in a marriage, in a
long-term relationship, at the beginning stages of
coming together with someone or not with a partner
at the present time--one of the best ways we know
of to begin creating the kind of relationship that
you want is to keep your eyes open for role
Role models are everywhere and you don't even
have to know or even talk to them for them to an
inspiration for you.
We found an article in the March/April 2007 AARP
magazine about an 86 year old surfer, Dorian (Doc)
Paskowitz. He's been married to Juliette, who is 75
years old, for 48 years.
When Juliette was asked what their secret was
for staying happily married for so long, she said,
"You have to find someone you want to make love to
for the rest of your life."
Doc and Juliette seemed to have found that
because Doc made it known to the authors of this
article that they still make love at least three
times a week.
Are they the best role models for everyone?
Of course not. But they are an inspiration for
some of us because they show what's possible for us
even late in life.
That's the beauty about role models. We get to
pick and choose the ideas that inspire us and those
that we would like to embrace from the lives of
others and throw the rest away.
A couple of our personal role models in the
beginning of our relationship were Kenny and Julia
Loggins. We were so taken by the way that they
authentically related to one another and were so
emotionally transparent with each other. Their
book, "The Unimaginable Life," inspired us and we
incorporated many of their ideas into our own
relationship as we were "growing" into it.
The point is to open yourself to learning from
others-- even from some unlikely places--in ways
that expand your thinking but also are in alignment
with what you want in your relationship and your
As you are reading this, you might be thinking
something like this...
"That's all well and good but my partner isn't
open to growing and doesn't want changes. He/she
likes our relationship the way it is and I want
We hear this quite a lot from people who have
lost the spark that was once there between them and
they have settled into friendly or not-so-friendly
While there's nothing wrong with friendly or
not- so-friendly co-habitation if that's what you
want, there's usually one person who wants
So what do you do?
If you are committed to the relationship, we
suggest that you still look for role models--but
look beyond the obvious for ideas of how to create
a better, happier life for yourself.
For example, you might focus on where the two of
you "overlap" instead of focusing on your
disconnection and disappointments.
You might take a new look at yourself and see if
you have gotten yourself into a power struggle and
holding onto being right about something that is
separating the two of you.
There usually are no easy answers in this
scenario but there can rather be an openness to
move toward what you truly want.
If you are currently not in a relationship and
want to be, how do you choose your role models and
the ideas that you want to embrace for creating a
We've discovered that asking ourselves this
question usually separates the wheat from the
"What makes my heart sing?"
If you are currently not in a relationship and
want to be, you have a great opportunity to start
gathering ideas that create a crystal, clear
picture of what you want.
Have fun with it. Pay attention to what makes
your heart sing and keep a record of it somewhere
where you can see it often.
Whether you are currently in a relationship and
want to make it better or you aren't with a partner
at this time--keep your eyes open for role models,
ideas and images that ring true for you.
Your future is in your hands. Take hold of it
and go for what you want.
Can Problems, Challenges
and Chaos In your Life Actually Be a Gift?
Here's a quick question for you...
Has there ever been any period in your life
where things were difficult, painful, where you
experienced what seemed like more than your share
of problems, things seemed wacky, or even felt
For most of us the answer is a definite YES!
For some, these periods of chaos are shorter and
less painful than for others-- but we all seem to
have these periods of time where we experience pain
or chaos. It just seems to be a part of this
experience we call life.
Here's what's interesting...
Not always, but very often, it's out of the
painful moments and chaos in our lives that we find
the impetus to create a better life for
It might have been leaving a dissatisfying,
dead-end job for a much better one. It might have
been leaving a relationship that didn't work out
and moving on to a more loving one-- or it might
have been any number of other "disasters" that
turned into blessings.
For the two of us, we've had several chaotic
periods in our lives and one of the most painful
was when our previous marriages ended.
What we've both discovered is that what emerged
from the chaos of the experience of our previous
marriages breaking up was the vision of what we
wanted in an intimate relationship and what we have
been able to create with each other.
While neither one of us is a scientist, we've
been studying people who talk about something
called the "chaos theory."
So, while we're not going to bore you with a big
description about "chaos theory". ... what we will
tell you about it is that it's in these seemingly
random, chaotic events that turn your life upside
down where the growth happens within you and your
What are we saying here and what does it mean
for you and your relationships and life?
What we're suggesting is that every time life
"throws you a curve" and these apparently random,
chaotic events happen that knock you off your
center, you have a choice to make.
You can let the chaos of life knock you out and
keep you down OR you can choose to find meaning and
order out of these difficult times that spur you
into a better life--a life that is more expansive
and filled with more of what you want.
Most of us usually try to avoid chaos,
disruptions and problems, but problems and chaos
(however uncomfortable) is where the growth is.
In avoiding dealing with the chaos, we also try
to avoid feeling our feelings and usually don't
recognize our resistance to "what is" and "what
We keep repeating the patterns of the past and
just want to get rid of the "chaos" and the
"problems" that are created so that we can have
We don't look at the enormous opportunities that
can come from changing our attitudes and beliefs
about the chaotic times in our lives and we stay
So how do you change your attitude about the
chaotic times in your life and actually use them to
help you to create better relationships, more love
and a better life?
Here are some ideas that we use during those
times that helps us to make sense of what's
happening and bring "order" to the chaos...
1. Look at the problem or challenge as an
opportunity for learning something new about
yourself or your partner. This is sometimes easier
said than done but we've found that as we are
mulling over the situation, searching for an
answer, if we just open to seeing what it is that
we can learn from it, solutions seem to flow.
2. Be easy about all of it. Be more loving
toward yourself, toward your partner and also
toward the situation. Most of the time, the
situations that we create that are filled with
problems or challenges are not nearly as big or as
serious as we make them out to be.
Our minds work overtime and we start assuming
things that may not be true, creating more chaos in
the process. We suggest that you stop your churning
mind, bring your attention and love to your heart
area, breathe and lighten up.
3. Bring yourself into the present moment. So
often, we stay stuck in what happened in the past
and what might happen in the future. We've found
that if we just deal with our present
circumstances, we soon find a solution to whatever
is challenging us. Know that this situation is
temporary and will pass.
4. If possible, find the humor in the situation
and find ways to be grateful for what is going
"right" in your life. We know from experience that
if you focus on gratitude and humor, the
uncomfortableness eases and you will attract to you
more of what you want instead of what you don't
5. Find things that you love to do and that
bring you joy. One of those things that brings Otto
joy is listening to music. So when he feels that
life is overwhelming, chaotic and he's "out of
sorts," he listens to some really good music. When
he allows himself to focus on the music and how
much he is enjoying himself listening to it, he
usually shifts from his negative funk to a more
joyful state of mind.
Start focusing on the positive aspects of
something new, something that you enjoy or that you
find pleasurable--even if it's a very small thing
that's going right in your life like a warm bath.
Instead of focusing on your problems and the chaos,
if you begin to focus on something more positive,
your situation will change.
As you read this, you might be saying to
yourself that these ideas sound too easy and good
to be true and that you have real problems and
challenges in your relationship and your life that
don't seem to be going away.
We agree that life can throw some pretty rough
curves from time to time that can seem impossible
to move past. When we're caught in the chaos and
challenges, we often can't see our way out and may
beat ourselves up for getting in them in the first
We're saying that these are the perfect times to
change your thinking about what chaos and
challenges mean in your life and relationships. If
there truly is perfect order in the chaos, then you
can begin to take some baby steps that will bring
you out of your situation and into a better
It seems to be human nature to want to snap our
fingers and see all of our challenges and problems
disappear. The two of us have discovered that our
greatest understandings, growth, and our ability to
connect deeper have come from moving through these
challengesand not instantly having the situation
While it might seem that life would be easier
and certainly more peaceful if we didn't have to go
through these periods of chaos, that's where we
find the greater impetus to move us forward to
deeper love, sensuality, connection and
understanding of ourselves and each other.
So, this week we suggest that you take a fresh,
new look at the situations or times where chaos
pops up in your life and what you can learn from
Find order and meaning in it as you are
traveling through it and be in gratitude for the
amazing journey you are on.
The Silly Side of Love
The former Beatle Paul McCartney once wrote a song
called "Silly Love Songs" where he wondered whether
people had had enough of "silly love songs" or
Like Paul, we're not sure whether people have
had their fill of silly love songs or not but
acting silly, having fun, and yes, even writing a
silly song for your mate, significant other or
friend can enhance your relationship.
Very often, Otto will make up and sing what he
refers to as a "Susie song."
A "Susie song" is a spur-of-the moment, inspired
song about his beloved that he sings to her about
how amazing he thinks she is--often to the tune of
"I'm a Little Tea Pot."
These "Susie songs" are certainly not songs that
anyone else would want to hear or think were cute
or funny--but that doesn't matter.
What is important is to understand that this is
one of the things we do to create a romantic,
intimate, happy, connected moment--when Otto
spontaneously bursts into one of his "Susie
If song-writing isn't something you would like
to do, how about something else that might be
considered silly or humorous to create a romantic
or special moment that you'll each be sure to
How else can you embrace the silly side of
yourself and life to create a special, romantic or
connected moment that neither of you will soon
How about renting and watching a silly movie
that you both can laugh at?
Recently, Otto's teenage son rented the crazy
movie "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"
and invited us to watch it with him.
None of us are NASCAR fans and this movie
certainly is not what we normally watch, but we all
laughed throughout the whole thing. It was silly
and it was really funny.
What it takes to be silly or doing something fun
is going to be different for every single person
reading this article--and we suggest that you just
go for it.
Don't think or care about what other people
might think during these times. Just focus on
having fun and creating special moments.
Another idea is to come up with a time where you
and your partner or friend can go to a park and
take on the personas of 7 year olds or 12 year
olds. Agree to act like that for a specific period
of time--maybe rolling down hills, sledding in the
snow or playing on the playground equipment. The
point is to have fun in a different way than you
may normally think of fun.
In todays world, we're all trying to get more
done in less time than ever before. Technology was
supposed to save us from having to do, do, do but
it hasn't worked out that way.
If you are like us, you spend a lot of time
being "serious" and what we find is that it is such
a breath of fresh air when we laugh and allow
ourselves to be silly and playful--whether it's
with each other or with other people.
Laughing and being silly is a great way to relax
and to connect.
This week, we invite you to explore how you can
enjoy life a little more by doing or enjoying
something silly--something that you might not
Are Great Relationships
A question that we've heard many times is
"In order to have a great relationship, does it
have to be hard work?"
We'll give you our answer in three parts...
1. If you're wondering whether it has to be hard
work to have a great relationship, our first
response to you would have to be..."Compared to
It depends on what your definition of "hard
work" and what you're comparing it to. Since we're
all different, we all have different definitions of
what "hard work" is.
The two of us are taking ballroom dancing
lessons and for Otto, the lessons are "hard work"
because this is an entirely new experience for him
and doesn't come naturally to him. He has to "work"
at learning the steps and learning to lead. Since
Susie's been dancing all her life and loves it, it
comes naturally to her so taking the lessons isn't
hard work for her.
It's that way with relationships. Because of
previous life experiences, as well as beliefs, it's
easier for some people to be more open in their
communication and sharing of themselves than it is
for other people. Since we're all different, we all
have different ways that we are triggered and close
ourselves from others which get in the way of
having a close, connected or "great"
What's "hard" for some is "easy" or "easier" for
For some, it's much "harder" to be in a
relationship where they consider there's no depth,
life or intimacy because of how much pain they are
in if they don't have the love and kind of
relationship they want. The "easier" route for
these people is to keep doing the things that will
bring more intimacy and vitality to the
For others, it's much "harder" to be in a
relationship with a person who wants deeper
communication and intimacy than they are willing to
It's easier for some to sit in front of the
television, computer or some other distraction each
evening without interacting with their spouse.
These people feel more comfortable and it's easier
to avoid talking about or "dissecting" their
For these people, focusing on, talking about and
"working on" their relationship or marriage is a
harder way to live their lives.
2. The second way we'll answer the question of
whether it's hard work to have a great relationship
is that It depends on how much resistance you have
to having a great relationship (whatever that means
What we've noticed in our own relationship is
that it only becomes "hard work" when there's
resistance--resistance to "what is", resistance to
your partner, resistance to claiming something
positive for your life, resistance to letting go of
any limiting beliefs and so on.
To go back to our dancing lesson example--Otto
has the most difficult time dancing when he slips
into believing his negative, limiting thoughts that
he'll never be able to "get" it right. The reality
of the situation is that even though dancing is
difficult for him, he is getting better at every
In relationships, people hold onto old, limiting
beliefs without taking a good look at what is
currently happening in the present moment. They
hold on to grudges and things that have been done
to them in the past without looking at what's going
on right here and right now.
We've discovered that this is "hard work"--to
hold onto old grievances which is kind of like
hauling a ball and chain around with you all of the
While it may not be "easy" to let these
grievances go, many people have discovered that
they feel lighter when they do and more love comes
into their lives.
3. The third way we'll answer the question of
whether it's hard work to have a great relationship
is that It depends on what you want for your life
Otto keeps going back to the dancing lessons
because he is seeing progress and he's feeling that
he will be able to get more of what he wants if he
keeps at it. He sees that he is moving toward what
he wants rather than away from it--and he feels,
"Yes, it's worth it."
If you want to have a great (or even good)
relationship, you have to decide that the positive
or good things that will come from that will make
any challenges you choose to work through "worth
The trick is to spend as much of your time,
effort and energy as possible focusing on the
positive outcome that you want to happen instead of
focusing on any short-term pain that you may feel
as you work through any personal or relationship
challenges that seem to keep you stuck in a place
you don't want.
In life and relationships, it's up to each
person to decide what he/she wants and not let
something we perceive as difficult get in the way
of having something amazing in any area of our
We suggest that you begin creating your life on
purpose-- whatever that means to you, especially
when it comes to your relationships. We also
suggest that you decide how you want your
relationships to be and then start moving toward
Keeping the Fire Lit In Your
Relationship or Marriage
Here's an interesting question...
Did you ever want to do something and know that
it would be good for you but you couldn't seem to
find the energy to actually do it?
Most of us have had that dilemma at one time or
another in our lives so we're pretty sure that you
know what we are talking about.
This applies to a lot of different areas of our
lives such as home, work and especially our
We want more and yet somehow we have challenges
finding that energy that it takes to create
Along those lines, here's a great question from
one of our newsletter subscribers that puts into
words the experience of a lot of
"We both work hard and have raised 3 kids to
adulthood. We are in good shape but are tired at
the end of the day/week. How do we find the energy
to keep the fire lit so as not to let the flame go
When the two of us were talking about this
question, a story from the famous motivational
teacher Zig Ziglar came to mind that we want to
share to illustrate a point...
Imagine that someone comes to you and says that
they are giving you an all-expense paid dream
vacation to somewhere that you've always wanted to
go. The catch is that you have to be packed and on
the plane by 12 midnight tomorrow.
So if this were truly the dream trip of a
lifetime for you, you were truly committed to going
and you were convinced the offer was real--would
you do what was necessary to make sure you were
ready to go?
For example, would you find a way to get off
work for several days in that short of
If you have children, could you either get your
children ready to go or find child care for them
during the time that you were away?
What about that important meeting or
presentation at work? Would you be able to
re-schedule it or have someone else do it?
What about household chores? Could someone else
mow your grass or just forget about it until you
returned? The questions that you would face could
go on and on.
If this is a trip of a lifetime (and someone
else paid for it), we're guessing that you would
clear your schedule and re-arrange your life so
that you could take advantage of this opportunity.
It would be so important that you probably would do
things that you normally wouldn't do so that you
This story is a great metaphor for your
relationships. It's what you focus on, make a
priority and are committed to having in your life
that actually happens.
Here's a practical example from our lives of
what we're talking about...
One of our goals for our marriage has been to
constantly deepen our connection with each other
and to keep the "fire" lit. One of the ways that we
like to do this is by reading books together and
talking about the ideas that we find to be
pertinent to our lives. For instance, these books
can range from philosophical / psychological ways
of looking at life to very practical tips on
What we find is that while we absolutely love to
do this together, we also love to "veg" out in the
evenings in front of the television and the
internet. So at the first of this year, we agreed
that we would read, talk and connect with each
other one or two evenings a week after we stopped
working for the day.
This commitment to each other is a conscious
step for us to focus on what we want more of in our
lives--which is to keep our passion, love and
connection alive--rather than let "life" and other
distractions dictate what our priorities are.
Here are a few ideas if you are wanting to find
more time to rekindle and keep love alive in your
1. Decide what you truly want. If you want to
keep the "fire lit," then what does that mean to
each of you? Talk about how you both like your
connection and relationship to be without blame and
without getting defensive. Be honest about what
really excites you.
2. Focus on your positive outcome. Get on the
same page, if possible, and hold that vision for
how you'd like to be together. You will have the
energy to move toward what you want if you just
hold that as your vision for your life.
3. Make this a fun experience rather than
something that "should" be done. Remember the
all-expense paid vacation story? It obviously
wouldn't be worth your time and energy to get
everything in order before you left if the vacation
didn't promise to be filled with fun, excitement,
relaxation or whatever else you were
The same thing could be said for finding the
time for closeness and connection. It has to feel
really good in order to choose an activity that
will bring you closer rather than one requires
nothing of you. Even tiredness seems to dissolve
when the rewards outweigh the allure of "vegging"
From our own lives and from observing the lives
of many people, we've found that you can make one
of two choices:
You can allow others or circumstances to dictate
the course of your life or you can be a conscious
creator of your life. The choice is yours.
Today and in every moment, we invite you to
consciously choose things that will keep the fire
lit inside you, whether for your relationship or
for your life.
A New Years Relationship
It's pretty interesting when you think about
Every year around New Years day, people seem to
find themselves looking back on what happened in
the past year and looking forward to what they want
to change in the new year.
Around this time each year, the two of us create
our intentions and make some plans for the new year
in our work, our personal life, as well as in our
We have a close friend who told us that he and
his significant other were going to take some time
on New Years Eve to talk about and visualize what
they wanted for their relationship and their lives
No matter how you celebrate the new year, we
invite you to do some conscious planning some time
in the coming weeks for how you want your
relationships and your life to be like in 2007.
Napoleon Hill said, "Every well-built house
started with a definite plan in the form of
The question is do you have a set of blueprints
for how you want your relationships and your life
We have observed that most of us are fairly
unconscious of the direction that our relationships
and lives are going.
We often spend time thinking about planning and
creating the "other" aspects of our lives but more
often than not, most of us don't typically spend
much time thinking about and planning how our
relationships can be better.
A lot of people go from rushing the kids out the
door in the morning, to work, to soccer games, to
the grocery store, to household chores--often in a
state of auto-pilot.
If you don't decide what it is you want for your
life, it will be decided for you by other
One thing which is helping to set the direction
for our relationship and our lives is the conscious
setting of goals.
Even if you can't spend a lot of time together
each week, we suggest making it a goal to spend
10-15 minutes or more talking about what you want
and what is important to each of you. Your goal
might also be to have more fun together, doing some
of the things together that used to give you both
No matter what you choose as your goal or goals
for your relationship, we think that taking some
time to talk about them is a great way to
communicate what's important to each of you--and to
see where your partner's steps may be taking them.
We've found that it is a very effective
communication tool and helps keep the energy
flowing in your relationship.
Most of the e-mail messages that we get from
people asking for help in their relationships
center around communication problems with a
Now, we don't think that everyone has to do what
we do to have a passionate, alive, connected
relationship but it is important to find ways of
communicating constantly and connecting that work
So we suggest that before you start the new
year, you find some ways to communicate your plans,
goals, and desires to your partner and listen to
If you don't have a partner, we suggest that you
do this with a friend or simply write your goals by
yourself to help you see what you want for your
We think you'll be surprised at the good things
that happen when you do.
Can You Treat Someone
Recently, we received a couple of great questions
from one of our newsletter subscribers and we
thought that the topic raised a challenge that many
people seem to have in their relationships.
Here is what the person wrote...
"Is it possible to treat someone too special?
Can you give some examples on how to become someone
who can attract more love, passion and
Here's our take on treating someone too
1. First of all, we all have different
definitions of what being treated "special" means
to us and some of us may not even want to be
treated "special." Since we all have had different
experiences from which we have formed our beliefs
and attitudes, this is a very common pitfall that
anyone can fall into when their belief system says
LOVE = Treating someone special in ways that "I"
think are special and in ways that I would want to
The other person can and often does equate this
"special" treatment with being controlled or being
smothered. The person who gives the "special"
treatment meets resistance, anger or withdrawal and
has no clue why it happened.
A good example of this happened in our friend's
life. She had been dating a man for awhile and had
fallen into the habit of "doing" things for him
that he usually didn't appreciate. One time,
shecleaned out his garage as a surprise for him and
he was really upset with her when he found out what
she had done. He felt controlled and manipulated by
her actions and she was only trying to help him and
make him feel "special." Her "good" intentions
backfired and she wondered why he had such a strong
negative reaction to her actions.
They just weren't on the same "page" with what
they each considered to be an expression of
2. We would suggest that the person who wants to
treat another "special" take some time to examine
his/her motivation in doing so. While there's
certainly nothing wrong in treating a loved one as
the special person they are in your life, it can
get you into big trouble if your motivation is to
get something in return for doing it.
If this is your challenge, you might say that
your intentions and motivations are only to give
love--but on a closer look, are they?
Often, there's an unspoken assumption that "if I
do this for you, you will give me the love or
attention that I want in return." It usually
backfires and the giver feels empty and not
appreciated, valued or loved.
The friend in our example wanted her boyfriend
to show his gratitude and appreciation for what she
had done and she wanted his attention. "Doing" for
others was a way that she could by-pass truly
looking inside herself for what she wanted. She
just "expected" to get what she wanted in
While we all like receiving gratitude and
appreciation, doing things for others with the idea
that you are going to get them in return can lead
you down a long, lonely road.
If you do things for others with unspoken
expectations of what you want in return, it usually
ends up being painful for all involved.
Not only would it have been better for our
friend to have found out if her boyfriend wanted
his garage cleaned out and if he wanted her to do
it, but it also would have been healthier if she
would have examined her motives in doing it in the
first place. If she wanted more of his attention,
she could have talked with him about how she would
like their relationship to be and listened with an
open heart to find out how he would like it to
be--which had nothing to do with cleaning the
She may or may not have gotten the answers that
she wanted but they may have been able to come to
an agreement about their relationship that would
have suited them both.
Here are our comments to the second question
from our newsletter subscriber--that go along with
the first question...
How do you become someone who can attract more
love, passion and connection?
1. Adopt an attitude of openness. We all close
ourselves off from others when we feel fearful or
any number of other emotions. When we feel
ourselves closing, practice challenging that
closing and open your heart.
2. Take a look at your rules. We all have rules
by which we run our lives. Some rules serve us and
some don't. When we clash with loved ones (or
anyone for that matter), it's usually a rules
violation. When there's a challenge, learn to look
at your rules from an objective place and decide if
this is a rule that you can relax and possibly look
at from someone else's view or if it's one that you
feel you have to remain rigid in upholding.
3. Ask before suggesting or doing. So often we
act only from our point of view and experiences. We
offer advice, comments, or help without knowing
whether the other person is open and wants the
advice, comments or help. Always ask first.
4. Listen with an open heart. The art of
listening isn't taught and few of us truly do it.
As someone else is talking, there's usually a
dialogue going on in our own heads and we aren't
truly present when others speak. The practice of
listening with an open heart (without defending
oneself) is one of the best ways we've found to
attract more passion, love and connection into your
5. Find healthy ways to show your love. Be clear
about your expectations and motivations, find out
how the other person likes to be loved and make
agreements when they are needed. If you get caught
in the "doing for others to get love" trap and it's
not working, then stop your habitual "doing" and
find some other way to express your love. Instead
of expensive gifts that are unappreciated, you
might want to truly be present with your partner
and enjoy their company.
6. Ask for what you want from a place of
openness and love. Get to know yourself and then
start creating your relationship the way you both
want it to be--by focusing on what you want rather
than what you don't want.
We are all in relationships to heal, learn, grow
and yes, to enjoy life. If you are having
challenges, take whatever of our suggestions that
speak to you and try them. If you do, we think that
you will start seeing some positive changes in your
A Prediction for 2007 About
Happy New Year...
We don't normally make predictions. We typically
try to leave that up to the newspapers you find in
the checkout lines at the grocery store.
But since it's now 2007, we couldn't help but
make one prediction about your relationships that
is GUARANTEED to be true for the coming year.
We'll also offer some tips for creating more
passion, love and connection in the coming
So-- what's our prediction?
It's that your relationship or marriage will be
pretty much the same as it was in the previous year
unless you change.
Just yesterday, Otto was talking with a
potential coaching client by phone and she was
asking how she could get her partner to open up to
her more and how she could rebuild their
It was clear from the conversation that she was
really wanting the relationship to get back to a
place where she and her partner could feel closer
and more connected.
She told Otto that they once had a great
relationship but work, the amount of time she spent
with friends and other factors has created distance
between the two of them. She felt like everything
she was doing to rebuild their relationship was
creating the opposite of what she wanted and seemed
to be pushing him further away.
As Otto listened to her, it became clear to him
that this woman was spending a great deal of time
effort and energy trying to "fix" it for her
She felt that if she couldn't get him to open up
to her and "work on their relationship," their 8
year marriage would probably end.
There's much more to this situation than we can
go into in this brief newsletter article-- but one
thing that's for sure was that she needed a
different strategy if she was to rebuild her
relationship with her mate.
One of the things that Otto told her was that
instead of trying to "fix" her husband, what she
should probably commit to was becoming THE person
who would attract the kind of relationship she
wanted once again with her husband.
What we have discovered after working with
hundreds and hundreds of individuals and couples in
our relationship coaching practice is that you
certainly can't make anyone open their heart to you
and magically fall in love with you all over again
no matter how much you try.
What you CAN do is spend time working on
yourself and become so incredible that your partner
(or potential partner if you're not with someone)
Here are some tips for creating the best
relationship or marriage possible in 2007...
1) Become the kind of person who could attract
the love, passion and connection you want.
Please know that we're not just talking about
this in the context of a *new* partner. We believe
that we're constantly renewing and regenerating our
relationship into something new (and hopefully
better) all the time.
2) Approach Your relationship or marriage from a
place of wonder and excitement.
Many people get into a relationship and before
long stop doing the things that made the
relationship great in the first place. Never stop
doing what made you fall in love. If you've
stopped, start again.
3) If you want a truly wonderful relationship,
one of the keys is to look at and treat your
partner or spouse as your "beloved" or "someone
In our own lives, one of the primary reasons our
relationship continues to grow and get better all
the time is because we treat each other "special"
as much as possible.
Focus on treating the people you care about in
your life as special and we think you'll be amazed
at the transformation that will happen right before
As we begin this new year, we know that we (or
anyone) can't predict how your relationships or
marriage will turn out.
What we can tell you is this...
The quality of your relationships will be
determined by factors such as your intentions, your
attitudes, your beliefs, your relationship rules
and the actions you take to create what you
Please know that whatever you focus on in your
relationships and your life in the new year is
going to expand.
If you spend your time, effort and energy
focusing on love, passion and connection, you'll
create more of that. If you spend your time, effort
and energy focusing on the things you don't want in
your relationships and life, you'll attract more of
Nothing happens by accident, especially creating
a great relationship.
Creating an outstanding relationship or marriage
simply requires you to do things that create more
love, and connection and not stop doing them no
New Ways Of Honoring
Each Other and Deepening Our Connection With Each
Sometimes the best relationship tips and the most
interesting relationship and life lessons come from
some pretty unusual sources.
Here's one such example...
Recently, Susie rediscovered a wonderful book
that she had read many years ago, "Mutant Message
Down Under" by Marlo Morgan. This book is about the
author's journey on foot with the Australian
aborigines and the lessons that she learned along
One of these beautiful lessons that Morgan wrote
about held a special meaning for us and we think
that by sharing it with you, it can help all of us
to create wonderful lasting relationships that are
filled with love.
Here's what Marlo Morgan said in her book...
"They (aborigines) celebrate no holidays in our
yearly manner. They do honor each tribe member
sometime throughout the year, not on a specific
birthday, but rather to acknowledged the person's
talent, contribution to the community, personal
spiritual growth. They do not celebrate getting
older; what they do celebrate is becoming
What a concept--celebrating becoming better!
In our culture, we usually create holiday and
birthday celebrations but they are usually not
focused on honoring each other in this way.
These celebrations are usually not times of
meaningful and fulfilling connection. In fact, in
some cases, they are difficult and show how
separate we've all become in our society.
What we've discovered is that it doesn't have to
be this way. We can all learn to celebrate each
other in meaningful ways.
Here's a simple example from our own lives of
how we recently did this...
Last weekend, we spent a couple of days with a
group of like-minded friends and someone in our
group made a suggestion that you or anyone can do
at your next gathering of friends or family that
could be transformative for everyone.
What was her suggestion?
As a way of connecting with each other and
deepening the friendship and appreciation we have
for one another, one woman in our group suggested
that we do something that in hindsight seemed very
close to what Marlo Morgan described in her book
that she experienced with the aborigines in their
celebrations of each other.
As we sat around a table after sharing a meal
together, we took turns receiving from each person
in the group what they considered our talents and
contributions to be, as well as how they perceived
we had grown spiritually over the past year.
What an experience to hear words of love from
each person and to take in who we truly were in
Otto was appreciated for being a "dreamer" and
for helping several in the group who were starting
their own businesses see possibilities that they
Susie was appreciated for her loving compassion
and ability to accept people as they were--where
Each person felt "filled" and loved as we
completed our circle.
So what can this mean in your life?
At your holiday gatherings of family and
friends, we invite you to tell those you love (or
even admire) what you see their talents and
contributions to be.
It may not be as formal and structured as our
experience was last weekend with our friends, but
you can do this in any setting and can be done
individually, one person at a time.
We're sure that there are many ways that people
contribute to your life and positive things that
you see about them that they may not see.
To give the gift of appreciation and celebration
of others may be the greatest gift of all. We
invite you to spread some love maybe in a slightly
different way this holiday season, as well as in
10 Ways To Be A Brighter
Light This Holiday Season and Beyond
Since most of are interested in ways to make our
holidays brighter and our relationships better, we
thought we'd offer some tips in this issue for
creating lighter and more joyful experiences.
The holidays can be quite a festive time and a
big attraction in our community is decorating with
Downtown buildings and homes are outlined with
lights, elaborate yard decorations are created and
luminarias line our city park lake.
Our community's city buses run free tours so
people can enjoy seeing the lights and it's a
tradition in many families to visit the areas of
the city that the local newspaper suggests have the
We're sure that our community isn't unique in
this way of celebrating the holidays and that your
community is very similar.
Why are we all so involved in festive lighting
and enjoy the lights so much this time of year?
There are probably many reasons having to do
with celebrating the religious meaning of
Christmas. But one other reason is that the days
are so short in the northern hemisphere that we all
crave more light--and the light from the holiday
displays helps us to feel better.
We know you're probably thinking to yourself--
"This is great but, what does all of this have to
do with our relationships?"
The point is that we can make the choice to
bring more light and love into our
relationships--at this time of year, as well as
Here's a brief list of what bringing more light
and love into your relationships might mean or look
like in action...
1. When you are interacting with loved ones,
co-workers or anyone else, stop yourself from
jumping to conclusions and making assumptions. Take
the time to listen, truly listen, to what they are
saying and be fully present in the here and
2. Connect with your loved ones each evening,
even for 15 or 20 minutes. Connecting for us means
actually making eye contact and sitting down
together without the distraction of the computer or
3. Make contact with a dear friend or relative
who you haven't seen in awhile. Even if you're
really busy with all the holiday "things" to do,
take a moment to connect with someone who loves you
and who you love.
4. Stop what you are doing and listen more
intently to your kids. It's so easy to allow our
"busyness" at any time of year to interfere with
our listening--especially with our kids. Treat them
with the love and respect that you want for
5. Treat yourself to a relaxing bath with music
and candles once a week--if that's a treat for you.
The idea is to find some way to give yourself more
6. Be more truthful when you don't want to do
something or go somewhere--but speak with
7. Focus on what you truly love about the people
who you are interacting with. When you start to
criticize someone with words or even in your mind,
stop yourself and focus on what makes you happy and
what you appreciate about him or her.
9. Be patient and loving instead of impatient,
even while you are waiting in long lines to buy
gifts. When you are in holiday gatherings, find out
something new about your loved ones or the people
you are interacting with that you did not know
10. Learn something new that will increase your
enthusiasm and zest for life. Focus on bringing
more light into your life by bringing more of what
you enjoy into it.
This world needs all the love and light it can
get right now and the best place to start is with
you and your relationships.
Our blessings to you for a happy holiday and
many loving relationships!
Are you a Hugger, A
Kisser, A Shaker or A Wisher?
Someone came to one of our web sites recently and
asked us this question which we thought was
thought-provoking enough to warrant an answer in
this week's newsletter so everyone could benefit
from his question and our answer.
Here's his question...
"I have a friend that flirts with everyone
wearing long pants and will kiss friends on the
mouth when leaving a party."
He wondered if this was "normal and
What an interesting question?
While you may not have this specific issue with
your partner or with people who are close to
you--what we have found is that no matter who you
are-- the differences in how you and others relate
to each other can create some interesting dynamics
and potentially cause big problems in your
relationship with them.
In this article, we're not going to discuss his
concerns about his partner "flirting with everyone
wearing long pants." We'll leave that for another
We DID want to discuss what different people
consider to be a normal, natural and acceptable way
of greeting and interacting with people in our
Here's what we've observed...
There are at least four ways of showing
affection/greeting in social situations:
1. Mouth/cheek kissers--Many in Susie's family
kiss each other hello and good-by on the mouth or
cheek, mainly because Susie's mom was a mouth
kisser and seemed to set the tone for the family.
Susie usually greets close friends, male and
female, with a kiss.
2. Huggers--Otto's family are huggers, often
one-armed huggers. Otto tends to greet many men and
women with really good, solid two-armed hugs.
3. Pretend kissers or "Air" kissers with a
slight hug--We've seen this in action but don't do
it ourselves. With this one, we don't really "get
it' but after all we wouldn't because we're huggers
4. Hand shake or no touching--This is a pretty
normal way for people to greet someone they've just
met but in some families, this is the acceptable
way to greet anyone.
And we could go on and on with examples--and
we're sure you could too.
The point is that whether you've thought about
it or not, we all have our "rules" or acceptable
and unacceptable ways of greeting and interacting
So what happens when there's a "rules" violation
within a relationship?
What if the two people have two different
meanings and associations to each others' greetings
and goodbyes? What happens when there's a conflict
and how do you resolve this kind of difference?
This question could play itself out in millions
of ways in each of our lives and relationships.
Let's take for instance the example from our web
site visitor who questioned his partner's kissing
This is especially important during the holidays
or during special occasions because a kiss on the
mouth can mean many things depending on the
intention of the kisser and of course the receiver
of the kiss.
To one person, a kiss on the mouth of any kind
indicates desire, love or is an expression of an
For other people, kissing the people in their
lives on the mouth and lips indicates a friendly
connection and nothing more or less.
If there's a conflict, here's what we
1. Take a few moments and get in touch with the
fear that is underneath the conflict--because some
fear of some kind is always at the bottom of most
conflicts and especially this type of conflict. You
might even stand back, look at your feelings and
realize where your fear comes from and why it's
2. Talk about your differences without any
accusations. Sounds easy but often not easy if
you've built up resentments and beliefs about what
certain actions mean. Talk about what you learned
when you got in touch with your fear and even where
you think it originated and that may by-pass some
of those communication blocks.
3. Listen to understand where the other person
is coming from and why they do what they do. If you
listen from an open heart without judging, you
might learn some things about your partner that you
4. Discover what you each want more of in your
relationship instead of dwelling on what you want
less of. Do you want more attention from your
partner? If so, suggest some specific ways this
could happen instead of a general complaint that
you want more attention.
5. Create some agreements that you both are
comfortable with and can live with. It might be
that the other person's behavior that you find
objectionable may be no big deal to them--or it may
be a big deal. It might be that both of you can
agree to become more aware of your actions and
beliefs behind those actions--and also the beliefs
and actions of the other person.
We, of course, know that lines can be crossed
that are unhealthy for relationships, depending on
both people's rules for the relationship. And if
they are, you have a choice whether to step up and
stick to what you believe or ignore the unhealthy
actions which can eventually kill any
Whether there's a conflict about this type of
situation or not in your relationships, we invite
you to explore the "rules" that you've set up for
your life and the "rules" of the other people in
Since we all bring our individual experiences
and ways of looking out at the world to our
relationships, our "rules" for interacting with
people other than our intimate partner can
certainly cause havoc in our relationships but they
don't have too.
We encourage you to take a look at what's
appropriate, normal, acceptable or customary in
your interactions with the people in your life and
take a look at why you feel that way in advance of
situations that can cause problems and hurt
When you look at these kinds of things in
advance, we think you'll enjoy more love and
connection as well as a more rewarding life.
Who is Keith Urban and What
Is The Surprising Relationship Lessons He Knows
That Many People Don't?
Keith Urban is a Country music star and is married
to actress Nicole Kidman.
Professionally, he's a star.
Personally, he's had his share of problems,
challenges and just like everyone else, he carries
around his share of baggage.
Strange as it may seem, he's got more than a few
things right when it comes to relationships.
We just finished reading a great interview with
Keith in the December 2006 issue of "Performing
In this interview, he not only talks about his
music but also discusses marriage and
Since he did not marry until he was 38, we
thought he had some insightful things to say about
dating and marriage and having a happy and
successful relationship that we wanted to pass
along to you.
In our opinion, one of the most important things
that Keith had to say in the interview was his
response when asked if he had fears during those
years when he was single that maybe the right one
wouldn't come along.
Here's what he said about finding the perfect
partner and having a great relationship or marriage
that we thought was a brilliant insight...
"I thought that the right one would come along
but I knew that it would take me becoming the right
He went on to say -- "It's easy for us to think
that someone's going to come along and fix
everything and make you a better person. But you've
got to bring something to the table, so I had a lot
of work to do on myself. And still do. But I
believe that I've found the right person and that
we can go the distance together."
While we don't think that everyone has to wait
until age 38 to get married or there is any age
more appropriate than others to take that big
step--we do think that it's wise to have a good
idea of who you are and what you want in life
before making that commitment.
Do you have to be "perfect" in having yourself
all together before you marry?
Of course not. We don't think there is any such
thing as perfection. There's always room for
What we do believe is that it's important to
know yourself well enough to know what you want in
life, adopt the attitude of being open to growing
constantly, and choose someone who you believe is
also open to growing--someone you can "go the
distance together" as Keith said.
Too often, people choose their partners
unconsciously and they "fall" into their
relationships and marriages as if by default. We're
advocating that before you commit to someone, you
take some time and look at yourself and your goals,
values and aspirations--as well as your partner's.
When you do, you get a better idea of where the two
of you might grow together as a couple and how you
might grow yourself in this relationship.
Having the attitude to grow together is one of
the biggest ways to keep a marriage alive,
passionate and full of love over the long haul. So
often, married couples or couples who have been
together for many years find themselves growing in
different directions and the glue that held them
together just seems to dry up. They might stay
together for the kids or for other reasons but the
passion just seems to disappear because they have
closed themselves off from looking with new eyes at
each other and their relationship.
We know that it doesn't have to be that way. If
you commit to grow together and do the things that
will keep you growing, you can keep the passion and
love alive between the two of you.
From our experience, one of the other secrets to
keeping a relationship alive is what Keith said
about continuously working on himself. When each
person in the relationship brings the attitude that
personal growth and change is good, as well as a
shared vision for what they want their relationship
to be, there is a far greater chance that the
relationship will not only last but be filled with
passion, love and connection.
So how do you "grow" together, as well as each
person open themselves to growing?
Here are some things we do...
1. Adopt the attitude that we are choosing to
grow together, as well as choosing to grow
2. When we are triggered by the other person, we
look at ourselves first and recognize what we are
feeling and sometimes it doesn't have anything to
do with each other.
3. Make time to be together, do things together
and connect with each other.
4. Recognize when you are closing to your
partner and find ways to open yourself. It doesn't
have to mean that you agree. It just means that you
are opening yourself to understanding.
5. Read books and listen to audios that will
stimulate both of you to opening to new thoughts
6. Practice loving in every moment no matter who
you are with.
Growing individually and as a couple can
certainly be an adventure. We invite you to begin
The 12 Things Not To Forget
this Valentine's Day or Any Day If You Want Your
Relationship to be Special
As you've probably noticed, we are all being
bombarded with messages like don't forget the
flowers, boxes of candy, and of course, the
diamonds because Valentine's day is
Valentine's day can bring up a myriad of
emotions which can either bring couples closer for
a short period of time or create feelings of
loneliness and separation for other couples or
So how can you deal with a holiday like this and
actually enjoy yourself, whether you are in a
"relationship" or not?
Here are 12 suggestions to make your
relationships better-- no matter what day it
1) Don't Forget Kindness and
Thoughtfulness. We all get in a rush sometimes
and forget to be kind. We just want to get the
things done that we have to get done and move along
to the next thing to be done. Whether you are
currently in an intimate relationship or not--take
a moment to be kind to the people in your life.
Kindness certainly doesn't have to mean "doing" for
someone (but it can.) It can mean just giving a
smile, sending a kind, loving thought, or simply
listening to a story that you may have heard many
2) Don't Forget Appreciation. So often we
find ourselves dwelling on what irritates us about
the people in our lives and we forget to appreciate
the things about our relationships that are
working. Appreciation only works when you want
nothing in return. If there are "strings" along
with your appreciation of another person, (like you
want appreciation in return) it will seem like an
empty, needy gesture. Appreciation has to be
expressed from your heart and in such a way that is
3) Listen Closely to What Your Partner
Wants. Whether it's to make plans for a
Valentine's day celebration or just listening to
how your partner's day went--leave your ego and
your desire to help or "fix it" for him or her at
the door and just listen. We all get into habits
that stifle communication--that shut off a true
connection of the heart. To open up and bring more
joy and ease into your relationship, take a moment
to realize what you do to assume, to fix or to
judge (even though you may not think you are doing
those things) and just listen to understand your
4) Listen Closely to What You Want.
Listening closely to what you want can be even
harder than learning to listen to your partner. So
many people have learned along the way that it's
not safe to feel emotions--and they simply don't
know how to listen to what they want. You have to
practice listening to the voice inside you so that
you can be honest and authentic with the people in
your life. You have to learn who you are and honor
that by letting others know who the real "you"
5) If It's an Intimate Relationship, Don't
Forget Time Alone. In our busy lives, we often
forget to recharge by spending some time alone.
Whether it's taking a walk outside by yourself and
enjoying nature or it's taking 20 minutes to
meditate or tune in and calm your thoughts--we've
found that we are much better people and treat each
other more lovingly if we take time for
6) Don't Forget to Breathe. It may seem
kind of silly to remind you to not forget to
breathe, but so many of us actually live in the
land of anxious, shallow breathing. Belly breathing
can relax you, help you to clear your mind and keep
you in the present moment. What's that got to do
with creating great relationships? When we are
relaxed, we listen better to others and we don't
react quite so quickly from old patterns. We are
able to access a fresh point of view when we
breathe that can promote more understand and closer
7) Don't Forget the "Show". What's the
"show"? The show is what we do to show the other
person that he/she is special in our lives. It can
be a greeting card, a present or creating a special
night or weekend away. It can be elaborate or it
can be simple--whatever the two of you prefer. The
main thing is that you "show" the other person how
special they are to you.
8) Don't Forget Discernment. The media
likes to use hype and if you buy into what the mass
media promotes as "the way Valentine's day should
be," then you might be setting yourself up for
disappointment after the big day comes and goes.
Remember, it's not about the money you spend or
where you bought that special diamond necklace or
ring. It's about the love that's underneath all of
9) Don't Forget to Be Present and Be
Real. If you're like most people, you're
usually either mentally thinking about what you
have to do or are going to do in the future or
thinking about what happened to you in the past.
The present moments fly by without you really
participating in them. To be present and real means
to be fully focusing on what's going on right here
and right now. Great relationships are built on
that idea and whether it's Valentine's day or not,
it's a terrific practice to get into.
10) Don't Forget to Think Long-Term Love and
Not Just Short-Term "wow". Whether it's a
dating situation or long-term committed
relationship or marriage, when you are thinking
about a celebration of your love or of your
relationship, keep in mind what would create and
help foster continued long-term love instead of
going for the "wow" factor. To know the difference,
you have to be in tune with how you and your
partner like to celebrate--and everyone's different
so you have to pay attention and listen.
11) Don't Forget that You're Never too Young
or Too Old for Love. Many people have a fixed
age in their minds where love is no longer
possible. This age might be 40, 50, 60, or 80.
We're here to tell you that love is possible at any
age. The trick to finding or renewing it is to
recognize what ideas and beliefs have held you back
or have sabotaged love in the past and change those
habits. Anyone can change and at any age. It just
takes a willingness and desire to do so and to take
a chance on having something wonderful.
12) Don't Forget About Nostalgia. Anyone
want to bring out those old records or tapes of the
music you used to listen to when you first fell in
love? What a special way to celebrate your love and
to renew those feelings at the same time. You might
go to a restaurant or park that you used to go to
or do some activity together that used to make your
hearts sing. Even if you are not currently in a
relationship, you can resurrect things that used to
be fun for you and have a mini-celebration of
We hope that these 12 tips on what not to forget
will be helpful to you in creating relationships
that you truly want. At any time during the year,
we invite you to make conscious decisions about
your life and not just let "life" happen to
The Momentum of Love
Today, February 14th is Valentines Day. It's a day
that most of us celebrate our love for the
important people in our lives.
It can be full of love, romance, kindnesses,
sharing and of course--Chocolate.
If you consider yourself part of a "couple,"
chances are that you are doing something special
today or maybe this coming weekend to focus on
love, romance and treating each other special.
If you're not currently in an intimate
relationship, you may be doing something special to
show your love for the people in your life like
sending flowers to your mother, greeting cards to
your children or grandchildren or even stopping for
a visit or dinner with someone you love.
No matter what your circumstance, we suggest
that you continue the momentum of love--of treating
your significant other or important people in your
life very special.
Momentum allows you to keep building your
relationships toward what you want instead of what
you don't want and it also carries you through the
tough times. And-- momentum becomes a very positive
habit in your life.
It's just like starting an exercise or health
and fitness program...
In the beginning, you go to the gym regularly
and are excited about your new program. One day,
you might not feel like you have much energy or
maybe you feel like you simply have too much to do
and you want to skip your workout.
If you keep up momentum and your health and
fitness program becomes a habit, it just becomes a
part of your life. If you allow yourself to sink
into your excuses about why you can't go, you lose
your momentum and your new program can die a
About now, you might be saying that you don't
want to buy flowers, diamonds, greeting cards or
taking your loved one out to dinner every day to
keep up the momentum and make it a habit.
So what do you do?
You find little ways in every single moment to
capture your beloved's heart and make him/her say,
"I'm glad I'm with you."
We'll give you a relationship example from our
We keep the momentum of love going every day by
communicating to each other in small ways how
special we think the other is.
The other day Susie traveled out-of-town to take
care of her grandkids while her daughter and her
husband had a special "date."
As Susie was driving home, she called Otto to
connect with him and tell him how her day went. A
phone call is such a small thing but it allows us
to keep up our connection and the momentum of our
love for each other.
We've discovered that the "goal" with momentum
is to start and continue doing the "right" things
(whatever that means to the two of you) that will
continually keep you moving toward what you want
for your relationship.
One couple we know recently took a couples
massage class together. To keep the momentum of
connection and closeness going that they felt
during the class, they are getting a used massage
table and giving each other massages every
While we realize that massage or even phone
calls might not be what you are interested in
doing, there are some things that you can start
doing right now that will create momentum for
having a great relationship.
We invite you to not let Valentine's Day come
and go without beginning to create momentum toward
what you want in your life.
How Hard Is It To Be In A
One of our newsletter subscribers wrote to us
recently and made a statement about relationships
that we both agree AND disagree with.
Here's what she said...
"Being in love with someone is a job, a job you
have and you must do your best with, every day. It
is not easy, but we're in this life with one
reason--to learn how to do it."
We will certainly agree that part of the reason
we are all on this earth is to learn to
love--ourselves and others.
We cannot agree, however, that "being in love"
or loving others is a job. When something is a
"job," there's an implication of it being hard work
and a task or group of tasks that need to be
performed to reach a goal.
Hopefully your relationships aren't this way,
but for most people (at least in this country),
their job is something they do each day because
they have to (it's a means to an end) and not
because they want to.
Our feeling is that if you approach being in
love or loving others as a job, it makes it somehow
separate from the rest of your life and something
you "do" to get what you want.
We think that being in love and loving others is
not a job or task but rather becomes your entire
being if you allow it. It's also something you want
to do and not something you have to do.
We'll explain what we mean...
Most of us have learned how to love others (and
ourselves) from role models that have not been very
successful in this area of life--or maybe not
successful in the way we want to be.
Mostly unconsciously from these role models,
we've developed habits of "loving" that turn out to
not be so loving and that simply haven't brought us
what we want in our lives.
So in our viewpoint, if there's any "job" that
we have around this topic, it is to let go of old
habits and ways of thinking that have kept us
stuck--that have kept us from being the loving
beings that we truly are.
Being in love and loving others is a choice and
decision that we make in every moment and often we
are making those choices from those old habits.
Here's a story to explain...
Last weekend, Susie attended a 2-day conference
by herself which Otto would normally have attended.
Because it was his weekend to be with his high
school-aged son, Otto chose to honor that
commitment instead of attending the conference.
These past few weeks, Susie has been having some
physical problems that were certainly heightened by
sitting in a hot, crowded ballroom listening to
speaker after speaker at this weekend seminar. In
other words, on Saturday she had a pretty negative
attitude about the experience she was having.
Saturday night, as she was complaining on the
phone to Otto, it dawned on her that she had a
choice as whether to be loving and open the next
day at the seminar or to be stuck in her physical
She decided to attend that day's seminar with
the intention of being open to meeting new people
and enjoying her day. She decided to change the
"habit" of closing herself when she's in physical
discomfort and allow her heart to open to
What happened was that she did have a much
better day on Sunday as a result of her decision
and intention to open to love and connection--no
It wasn't her "job" to open. It was her
attitude, intention and decision to do so.
Is loving easy?
Certainly not always...but here is what we have
It is when you make a decision and choice to
open instead of close, especially when things get
tough, that makes all the difference in your
relationships and life.
We know what opening and closing to love mean to
us and you have to decide what they mean to
Then you have to be courageous enough to
challenge your old habits and beliefs that have
held you back.
Being in love and loving others and life is
never a job. It's our natural birthright. We've
just forgotten how to allow love to flow without
restriction in our lives.
In order to have the depth of love that we know
is possible, "opening" more of the time than
closing is a must.
©2007 by Susie
& Otto Collins
and Otto Collins 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
Partnerships plus two
and Relationship Success
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 www.collinspartners.com
new E-book Should You Stay or Should You Go?
has just been released and is now available
See Archives 2006,
Other Relationship Issues,
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©1996-2017, Gordon Clay