Susie & Otto
Archive
2009

 

Are you building trust?


In every single relationship, you are either building trust with the important people in your life--or you aren't.

It's either a "yes" or a "no"..

There is no "maybe" in building trust.

With everything you say or do--you're either building trust in big or small ways or you are eroding trust in your most important relationships

Consider this for a moment...

We don't really think about trust until we or the other person says or does something that catches us by surprise and destroys it.

We don't really think about building trust until we're trying to rebuild it with that person.

But the fact is, as we said before--

We are all either building trust or we're not in every moment.

As the two of us were thinking about this, Otto came up with the idea of the "Triangle of Trust."

The "Triangle of Trust" is made up of three elements that determine whether we create trust or we tear it down.

In order to get a good visual of what he's talking about, we'll take you through a quick activity right now.

If you're game, here goes...

1. Take out a sheet of paper and draw a large triangle in the center.

On the bottom line of the triangle, at the bottom of your sheet, write these words...

"What I intend and am committed to"

On the angled line of your triangle on the right side, write these words...

"What I say"

On the angled line of your triangle on the left side, write these words...

"What I do"

Okay, you should have your "Triangle of Trust" drawn on your paper, with the appropriate phrase on each line.

2. Now, think of a relationship that is important to you.

Write that person's name at the top of your page.

3. Think of a typical interaction with this person and answer these questions as you look back on that interaction...

**How did you react to this person?

(Were you open, loving, kind, supportive, honest, secretive, closed, dismissive, ignored him or her?)

**What did you say to this person and how did you say it?

(Were your words respectful, supportive, honest, sarcastic, cold, mean?)

**What was your intention and commitment in this interaction?

(Was it to connect with the other person with love or to prove you were right about something?)

4. Now write any words or phrases from this interaction that build trust on the inside of the triangle and words and phrases that tear trust down outside of it. Stay with your words and phrases from your answer to #3.

5. Look at what you wrote inside your triangle, as well as any words or phrases surrounding it.

At the bottom of your page, write what you would like to do differently the next time to build more trust.

Here's a practical example to help you out if you're a little confused about this ...

When Olivia did this exercise, she chose an interaction with her husband when they decided what they were going to do on one of their "off" days recently.

Because it was a beautiful summer day, she wanted to get the yard work done--trimming bushes, planting flowers, mulching.

In fact, she'd been planning it all week in her mind.

But her husband had different ideas.

He wanted to go to the arts festival that was held in their city.

When she asked herself how she reacted to her husband when he said he wanted to go to the festival, she wrote this...

"I was angry that he wanted to skip out on the yard work and I didn't want to listen to his suggestion."

When she asked herself what she said and how she said it, she wrote this...

"I told him that I felt like I had all of the responsibility for the outside work getting done and I blamed him for not helping me."

When she asked herself what her intention and commitment was in this interaction, she wrote this...

"I was committed to getting the yard work done that day, no matter what!"

Next, she looked at what she had written and wrote these words and phrases outside her triangle...

"anger, didn't listen, blame, yard work done that day no matter what"

She didn't write anything in the center of her triangle.

In other words, she saw that nothing about that interaction built trust between the two of them.

Of course her husband had his own issues that created mistrust too and he could certainly do this exercise as well--but the point is...

The "Triangle of Trust" helped Olivia see that she could have done things differently to create more trust--and get the work done.

What could she have done to build trust?

Plenty.

As you are reading in this example--sometimes things you don't normally think of as trust destroyers can have a devastating effect on a relationship.

We've got some great ideas about how to create trust when it's been broken in our book and audio program "Relationship Trust Turnaround."

Here are a few ways Olivia could have built trust in this situation...

1. She could have asked him earlier in the week for help with the yard work and then made an agreement with him about when they would do it--and maybe the work didn't have to be done on the particular day that she had in her mind.

2. When she discovered he wanted to go to the festival, she could have opened herself to the possibility that maybe it might be something she'd like to do too.

(In fact, later that evening, she did look at the advertisement for the festival and it did look like something she would have liked.)

3. If going to the festival appealed to her, she could have negotiated with him about how they might do both--the yard work and the festival.

In other words, she could have been open to changing her plans.

4. If she feels like the yard work is always left to her, she could talk with him about how he might share the responsibility or might pick up some other chores around the house.

Olivia's interaction with her husband may be similar to an interaction that you might have with your loved one.

On the surface, this interaction doesn't have the look and feel of dissolving trust--but it actually does.

Of course, if your relationship is working at all, at least some of your interactions build trust.

The idea is to create as many trust-building interactions as possible if you want to create more peace, love and more connection.

Talk to you again soon.

He's "confused" and the affair hasn't stopped


Question from a Reader: "What do you do if they are confused and haven't stopped their affair?"

Our Comments: First of all, let's get this straight--your partner might say he's confused but his actions prove otherwise.

The way we see it--right now, he wants to keep the affair going AND keep his relationship with you--otherwise, he would have left you already for the other person OR he would have stopped the affair.

There are probably parts of both relationships that he likes and he wants to keep both--for right now--or the pain of letting either relationship go is far too great for him to move on it--or he wants you to make the first move to leave the relationship. It may be somehow easier if you make the first move.

We can't know for sure where he stands in all of that.

But that's him...Let's talk about you.

We're guessing that you're hurting a great deal and feeling like you're in limbo.

Your emotions can be pretty high right now and can get in the way of taking action from a conscious place inside you.

Going back to your question of "he's confused"...

Once again he's NOT confused even if he says he is.

It's just that it seems like you want a different kind of commitment from him than he is either willing or capable of giving you right now.

You may want things to be back the way they were and have an "exclusive" commitment with him and whether he's conscious of it or not-- his commitment is to being with both of you.

You may not even know what to say to your partner (or how to say it) about this situation.

We're guessing that things are pretty touchy between the two of you.

We're also guessing that you're fearful that you may say the wrong thing that could drive him away even further.

You'll find a lot of wonderful tools for communicating with someone you care about in "touchy" or difficult situations in our program-- "Stop Talking On Eggshells" available here

With your situation in mind...

Here are a few questions for you to answer to help you decide your next step...

1. What do you want? Take some time and write down what it is that you want in this relationship or any intimate relationship.

Don't write "I want the affair to stop so we can get back to the way it used to be."

Write what you want and how you want to be treated.

Think back to when your relationship was good. How did you feel and what was good about it?

No matter how good it used to be, what did you want more of?

The next suggestion may not be easy, but here goes... (You may need to remind yourself to keep breathing for this one)

2. Ask him what he gets out of being in the other relationship, what he gets out of being in your relationship--and just listen with NO comment.

Just take it in and ask him to be honest but not necessarily full of details (unless that's what you want.)

In Oprah's interview with Elizabeth Edwards in this month's O magazine, Elizabeth said that she wanted to understand her husband John's affair.

She had the courage to ask the tough questions and to listen to his answers.

Easy?--of course not.

At this point, if your husband doesn't seem to be willing to give up the other person, it may be in your best interest to try to understand what's going on.

3. How open is your partner to connecting with you in any of those ways you listed in #1--and is he willing to get help?

Look for signs that you are connecting and if they aren't there right now, are there any signs from him that he is willing to connect with you in those ways again?

If you see signs that he wants to connect more with you, ask if he's willing to see a therapist or coach to help both of you explore your connection and come to a decision about your situation.

If the affair is still going on, it's understandable that you might have a difficult time connecting with him--and we wouldn't blame you.

In fact, if you're really in touch with who you are, any kind of intimacy might be inauthentic.

You're just looking for some sign from him that he wants a connection with you AND his willingness to get help with this decision.

If you don't see any signs that he wants to connect with you--or that he is open to getting help, that's information for you to consider as you decide what your next move is.

4. What your "bottom line"?

If there's no movement toward what you want, you have to decide how long you're going to stay in this limbo state of uncertainty.

It's helpful to take stock of your living situation and what leaving might mean for you and your children, if you have any.

In other words, come up with a plan.

We can guess that you probably want him to come around and come back to you--and give up the other person.

You have to decide how long you want to wait for some resolution to your situation if he's not willing to do that.

In other words, what's your "bottom line" and how long will you let this situation go on?

Deciding to leave or stay is never easy.

Try some of our suggestions and know that you are worth taking some action toward what you want.

Our best,

The "Nasty" Relationship Game That MUST Be Stopped


Here's something else that hurts in relationships as well...

It's a "game" that many couples play that ALWAYS creates major problems for them and their relationship and STILL yet--most couples continue to do it even after this "game" has sucked the life out of their relationship or marriage.

So, what is this "game" and how can you make sure this doesn't cause problems for you in your relationship?

It's easy...

The name of the game is the "blame game" and it can absolutely destroy a relationship.

Here's how the "blame game" is played and how one couple stopped playing...

1. One person says or does something that you perceive blames you for a situation or in some way you feel put down, diminished or not "right."

2. You get triggered and react (perhaps with anger, hurt or sarcasm) from some unconscious place inside you (past experiences, old beliefs) and you say or do something that is a perceived "put down" or blame by the other person.

3. Both of you get defensive, shut down to one another and the anger, sarcasm, hurt and miscommunication escalates until one of you leaves the room.

4. The two of you hold onto the anger and hurt until you decide you don't want to anymore or something happens that brings you together--until the next time you play the "blame game."

If you don't stop, your relationship either ends or you keep playing it for years and years--and you are STILL miserable.

So if this is how it's played--and if it's a relationship killer, why do we keep it going and how do we stop it?

We keep the "blame game" going because we don't know how to stop it. We want to be "right" and we don't want it to seem like we are caving in to the other person, becoming a doormat.

We keep it going because we keep hoping that the other person will tell us we were "right" after all.

We keep it going because we keep reacting from the place of hurt and fear deep inside us.

We keep it going because we don't want to look at ourselves and it's easier to point the finger outward at someone else.

The big question is...

How do we stop playing the "blame game"?

In order to help explain how to stop it, we'll tellyou a story about Karen and Bill.

Karen and Bill have been married for 15 years and have 2 children. To the outside world, they looked like a happily-married couple--and they did have times that they felt close to one another--but more and more of the time they couldn't talk with one another without a fight.

Whatever the topic, their reactions were usually the same. Karen would use sarcastic and cutting remarks to get her point across and Bill would feel hurt and get a "What's the use--I'm always wrong" attitude--and clam up.

When this pattern came up, they would walk around the house for days, not speaking to one another except for quick questions and "yes" or "no" answers.

Nothing would ever get resolved and their marriage was starting to show the signs of strain--even to the outside world.

If you've got any kind of communication challenges or upsets in your relationship you can do this as well...

1. They both looked at their reactions and patterns to see how they each acted in the throes of one of their disagreements. They took a specific situation and dissected it--slowing it down so they could really see what each of them did, without blame.

2. They each looked at what triggered them and what thoughts were there when it happened. They came up with some ways to recognize the moment when they were triggered and to stop themselves from what they normally do.

Karen liked using her breath to calm her down when she got a tight feeling in her chest.

Bill noticed that when he felt attacked by Karen, his stomach area tightened. At those times, he chose to tell himself that he really wasn't under attack and he could decide how he would respond.

3. They came to realize that they were making up a lot of untrue stories about the motivations behind the other person's words and actions.

They decided to try listening to each other instead of justifying their beliefs and positions and making assumptions up about the other.

They decided that they would both hold the thought that they each had choice and that it's okay for the other person to hold a different opinion.

4. They began to look at themselves as being on a team instead of two people who are out for themselves and on separate, warring teams.

They began to find alternatives to their disagreements that they had never considered.

They began to love each other again and feel connected most of the time.

This sounds like some kind of a fairy tale ending and we're certainly not going to suggest that they will never have another disagreement, upset or argument.

They might.

What we've seen from them so far seems to be a big shift in both of them to a feeling of much greater closeness and connection than before.

Can this happen in your life?

Sure it can.

Any one of us can drop our defenses and come into a heart-centered space with another person.

We're not saying to be boundary-less or not get your wants, needs and desires met.

We're saying that it is possible to create more peace in a relationship and stop playing the "blame game" if you just have the courage to do it!

Talk to you again soon...

Getting Past The "Assumption Barrier" in your relationship or marriage


Question from a Reader: "What is the best way to get around the 'assumption' barrier? I am speaking in terms of I assume my husband should know my likes and dislikes and even when I explain them in a way I feel is very plain to him he still doesn't get it. So, then he acts and reacts to me in a way he feels would make him happy but doesn't make me happy."

Our Comments:

How frustrating!

You've told him what you want and don't want, you assume that he understands you but it's obvious that he's doing exactly what he wants--and that's frustrating.

What you probably have (or don't have) is a "buy-in" issue along with an assumption barrier.

He doesn't really buy into fulfilling and acting on what you like or don't like.

Even though it may look like it to you that he's agreeing with you, he isn't.

That's the assumption pit that we see people fall into.

They think they have a buy-in from someone else but they really don't.

Either the other person is not really present when you are talking--he or she has mentally and emotionally checked out on you--or there's a little passive-aggressive action going on and you think you have a "yes" but you really have a "no."

In the short term, it's just easier for the other person to appear to be in agreement with you and then it's obvious they have other intentions when their actions say otherwise.

Sure they "get in trouble" but they also get what they want.

It's just simply a round-about way (conscious or unconscious) way to get what they want.

For some reason, they feel it's not "safe" for them to say what they want too and have a discussion with another person about it.

They don't trust that they'll be heard so they have to go about getting what they want what looks to be in an under-handed way.

Is this what's going on with your husband?

We don't know for sure but somewhere along the line, he's learned that this is a way he can get his needs met.

Where does that leave you?

Probably, as we said, pretty frustrated.

So how do you get him to buy into what you want and don't want?

You can't get him to do something that he doesn't want to do but you can open up a discussion.

A few weeks ago, after we did a teleclass on "Magic Relationship Words" and we got an email from a man who said that he had used our suggested words "Although it may not be your intention..."

He said his communication with his wife was better, but the only problem was that she didn't agree with him.

Your husband may or may not agree with you but the way it is right now, you don't know until you see him in action and you feel you've been blind-sided.

In order to get rid of the "assumption" barrier between the two of you, there has to be a freer flow of communication.

Here are some ideas to help you...

1. Use our "Magic Relationships Words" to begin a conversation with him.

They can open each of you to be in a "no blame" place so you can actually talk with one another.

You might try something like this...

"Although it may not be your intention or my intention, I feel like we're not really talking, listening and understanding each other. I would like us to really talk about ______--with each of us listening to each other and then try to find a way that works for both of us to resolve it."

2. Both of you listen when the other is talking. Don't try to do this with distractions going on--television, kids in the background. Go somewhere, where you'll be alone and can focus on each other.

3. Clarify what you think the two of you have decided to do and ask him if that's what he understands. Write it down and post it.

4. When he follows through on something you've agreed on, let him know you appreciate it. Pretty soon he'll get the idea that life can be so much better and more peaceful if he learns to be up front about his desires--especially if he thinks you're listening.

Relationships can be pretty tough if you're on different "teams" and not communicating with each other.

If you try these ideas, we can't guarantee that he will make the choice to come along and be a team member but what we do know is that if you do nothing, nothing will change.

We invite you to take a chance toward more love.

Talk to you again soon...

When your partner wants "it" and you don't .


Question from a Reader: "I wonder why sexual advances that are not mutually desired can cause such negative results. As a woman I feel responsible for providing s*e*x sometimes when it seems animalistic and not compassionate and loving. If my partner wants it (and I usually know instinctually ), I want to know how to avoid conflict if this is not my desire as well. Or. How I can eliminate my guilt if I choose to say no."

Our Comments:

Whoa!

Sounds like a really emotionally -charged issue for you in your relationship right now.... and why shouldn't it be?

We all want to feel we have choice in our lives and in our relationships--especially when it comes to love-making.

When it comes to couples, especially those who have been together for awhile, we are all different and those differences can really show up when it comes to what happens in the bedroom.

After the initial attraction which can (but not necessarily) include a deep, driving lust for one another that trumps everything else--the two people can fall into patterns that have little to do with what they felt in the beginning.

From our research, because most of us have never had "instruction" in the love-making category that goes beyond the basics, we usually fall back on our unconscious biological patterns after this initial blast of connection.

And these "patterns" can really cause challenges in our relationships (especially in the bedroom.)

Here's where men and women can be very different...

Researchers say that women's energy during love-making starts at the head and moves downward.

In other words, she needs to feel connection, trust and loved (to some degree) before she feels in the mood.

His energy during love-making starts--you guessed it-- a lot lower and the goal can be to let it rise to his heart area--where both can meet.

Now, of course, this is a really simplistic picture of some of the biological differences between men and women, but what we know is that they can really play havoc in a relationship.

The researchers also say that ultimately men and women want the same thing--emotional connection--during love-making but they go about it a little differently.

Emotional connection for some men can be that "animalistic" kind of s*e*x (because that's all they know.)

For women, it's usually not (but can be).

So what do you do when you've got this kind of dynamic going on--especially if you are a woman and want to make love with your partner but want it to be your choice and not done out of guilt or just going through the motions to keep him happy?

First, believe it or not, he probably does want to make you happy--even though it seems he just wants to make himself happy.

He just may not know how or know where to start--so he just keeps doing what he's doing.

Here's where you come in and where we'll make a couple of suggestions for you to consider...

First-- if we were you-- we would challenge the thought or idea that you (just because you're a woman) are responsible for providing sex for him.

Nonsense.

Lovemaking and sex is not just about giving out of some kind of obligation because you have to.

Where's your focus, interest and desire for your own pleasure and happiness?

Might we suggest that it might be worth a few minutes to explore and investigate where the thought that--you are responsible for providing sex for him--came from.

Something else that we think would be worth considering is the possibility and importance of separating out the feeling or thought that he's being "animalistic" and exploring whether he just may be something else instead.

Perhaps--he could just be -- too "vigorous" or "overly passionate" for your tastes at times.

We're not suggesting that he wasn't coming off as "animalistic."

What we're suggesting is that It might be worth trying out in your own mind which of these could be as true or truer for you if you really thought about it.

No matter which of these words more aptly describes your sexual relationship with him at times, it sounds like there are times when you want something much different from your lovemaking than you're getting.

What's great about this is--you're paying attention to you.

You're paying attention to what you want and what would feel good to you.

We're not suggesting that he should cave in to your every wish or desire but what we would suggest you do is this...

Invite him to slow down--and we do mean invite him.

Tell him that you'd love to experience some new things with him--and invite him to a "touching only" time together.

Maybe 15 minutes to start out.

And then start making more connections with him.

Connect not only during this "touch" session but do some things to connect with him throughout the day.

Email him or text message him. Invite him to learn some new ways of love-making and we're not talking "positions" here.

Does this sound like we're putting all the responsibility on to you--as the woman?

No--it just means that if you want something to change in your relationship with your partner, you have to make some changes too.

Does this approach eliminate your "choice"?

Of course not. In fact, you'll have more choice.

If you start moving in the direction of an invitation, the two of you will have more tools and a deeper understanding of one another so that when one of you doesn't feel like making love, you can set a time for intimacy that feels better for both of you.

You can also just say NO.

We invite both of you to open to more love and compassion in your relationship by deepening your intimacy.

We invite you to experience more love.

Talk to you again soon...

Relationship Started Out Great... And Then...


Why does a relationship which started out so great-- change and lose its ease, excitement and closeness?

What happens and how do you get it back?

There are certainly lots of reasons we could offer you.

And one of the most common things that changes in a relationship is how couples talk to each other.

We once overheard a telephone conversation between a woman and what we assumed to be her husband and she was saying some pretty unkind things to him.

When this woman hung up the phone, she looked right at Susie and and without missing a beat said...

"He's my husband. I can talk to him that way."

Our thoughts are YES, you can talk to him any way you like *if* you don't care what happens to your relationship.

What we tell people is that the "right" words said in the "right" way really CAN make all the difference in your relationship and to a large degree determine the level of happiness, peace and harmony that you enjoy with your partner.

Most people we talk to in our relationship breakthrough coaching practice don't understand how devastating and damaging the words they use can be to their relationship or marriage until it's too late.

Question from a Reader:

"How do you keep things from changing in a negative direction? They start out so very nice and even wonderful. Seems open and honest and easy flowing but then it can go south."

Our Comments:

There are a lot of ways we could answer this because everyone's relationship is so different (even two people in the same relationship view the relationship very differently) and there could be a million reasons why it goes "south."

There are also many possible solutions to these issues as well.

We cover a lot of these in our "Stop Talking on Eggshells" book and audio program available here... Stop Talking On Eggshells

And...

We want to share something really powerful from that program right now that can keep your relationship alive, healthy, connected and growing in a positive direction...

Here's our suggestion (and don't take this lightly)...

Be honest with yourself and your partner and stop reacting and defending.

Now we've talked a lot about this before but how many of us are really able to do it?

Even though the two of us are very close and connected, we've noticed that sometimes we lapse into defending our position without really listening to each other.

We want to be right and in the desire to be "right," we separate ourselves from the other person. We don't listen to see if there's any truth to what's being said about us.

It's human nature to want to be right and to be acknowledged for being right.

We all like that fuzzy, warm feeling when someone says, "Yes, you were right!"

We stand up a little taller and we really feel good about ourselves.

We feel validated.

When we don't get that validation and the other person is just as highly invested in being right as we are, something happens to the relationship.

This is how you start not trusting each other, feeling separate and not really wanting to be together as much or interact as much.

Defending your position, holding on to being right and not seeing the "truth" in what the other person is saying are ways that relationships go "south"--and each time you do these things, another layer of separation is added.

Does that mean that you automatically agree with everything your partner says and does?

Of course not.

We're all so different, especially partners in intimate relationships and we can't possibly be in agreement and be honest with ourselves all of the time.

But we can search our hearts to see if there's anywhere we do agree with what's being said--and if there is, admit it with love.

We'll give you an example...

Let's say that Pam was angry with Roger because he was late getting home from work when they had planned a romantic dinner for just the two of them.

If you would, we invite you to identify with one of them because this is certainly one of those small (or not so small) issues that tear couples apart.

In her anger, Pam told Roger as he walked in the door that she was so upset because he was always late when it was something that she had planned--and that he didn't care.

Of course, Roger got defensive because he felt attacked--and besides, he wasn't "always" late--and he did care.

So instead of having a romantic dinner and evening together without the kids, they ended up fighting and bringing up every buried hurt they had been holding against one another.

How about you?

How would you have reacted in place of either Roger or Pam--whichever one you can more closely identify with?

Probably pretty similarly, right?

So let's rewind this story and see how it could have played out a little differently...

1. Roger could have called Pam to tell her he'd be late but that he was really looking forward to their time together--and that he loved her.

Pam might have been disappointed but paused to feel Roger's love and sincerity, stopping any "stories" about why he was late--and looked forward to when he would come home.

2. If Roger didn't call and Pam attacked him as he came in the door, he could have taken a breath and taken a moment to bring his attention inside his body so he didn't automatically lash out and defend himself.

He could have taken in Pam's accusation to see if there was any truth to her statement. When he did take it in, he could have seen that she did have a point--that he did often have to work late. Then he could have said, "Yes, I see how you could feel that way."

While he often had no control over his work situation and it was tempting to "justify" his position--the truth was that he was often late.

If he had said this to her, the "fight" would have just melted away and they might have had a nice evening together--and he could have shown her how much he cared about her.

They might even have made an agreement about how they could handle this type of situation if it happened again.

3. If Roger didn't call and Pam found that she was triggered about him being late "again," she could have taken a moment to breathe and find her center.

She could then discover what it was she wanted to say to him and how to say it in a way that wouldn't shut him down.

When he came in the door, she could have told him that she was very disappointed that he was late for their special dinner together because she loves being with him.

Then there is an opening for Sam to tell her that he was sorry and that he should have called her--and that he will the next time he has to be late when they have something like this planned.

These are great examples of how a relationship can stop going in a negative spiral.

These are ways to keep honesty, ease, flow and openness in a relationship.

These are ways to feel and give more love.

Talk to you again soon...

Repeating BAD Relationship Patterns


Why do we repeat the same BAD relationship patterns--even when we know we're doing it ?

We all want great relationships but when it comes to making the changes that will allow us to experience something better, something happens...

Even though we may want to change, most of us have a tough time doing it!

Even if we know what we need to do, we don't do it!

Here's a question from a reader that most of us can identify with because we've all been there--and maybe even there right now...

Question from a Reader: "Even though we know what we are doing 'wrong' in the way that we speak to each other, why do we keep repeating the same bad patterns. We have gone to counseling, we have done the personal growth stuff....we can even manifest some amazing stuff when we are truly "in tune" with each other...But some days it's as if we haven't learned anything and we push each others buttons and we don't listen and we are not 'in the moment' at all.....WHY AFTER ALL OF THIS LEARNING AND KNOWING DO WE STILL REPEAT THE WRONG THINGS..TONES OF VOICE & ASSUMPTIONS?? WHY HAVEN'T WE TRULY 'GOT IT' ALL THE TIME!!!!"

Our Comments: We want to acknowledge the two of you for taking action to move from what holds you back in having a great relationship--and you can stop beating yourselves up that you haven't truly "got it" all the time.

None of us get it perfect all of the time.

The trick is to have it better and better more of the time.

And what a great question--

Why do we keep repeating the same bad patterns?

The short answer is that it's just more comfortable and easier to allow yourself to go on auto-pilot and react from old habits.

It's not so comfortable to challenge old habits, thoughts, ideas and fears--and go beyond the edge of what's "comfortable."

Somewhere inside us, we "know" what this habitual way of being will bring us (even if it's negative) and are not sure what making a change will bring.

We humans are creatures of habit--and even though on the outside, we may look like we're industrious, productive and innovative--most of us are quite lazy.

We're lazy in an unconscious way.

When we're tired, stressed or triggered, we go on "default" and whatever old tapes we're still carrying around with us get played.

Here's what we mean...

Let's take the "tone of voice" that comes out when you least expect it--and you know separates you from your loved one.

Both of us have struggled with this one.

It just seems to come out all on its own and we have no control over it.

Or do we?

When the two of us took a close look at what was happening at those times when we each had a tone of voice that made whatever tension there was between us worse---

We realized that even though we each had a tone of voice that said "I'm right (superior)--You're wrong (inferior)"--at those times, we were actually feeling fearful or threatened.

We were actually afraid that we wouldn't get what we wanted and that "tone of voice" was an unconscious way that we had learned to get what we wanted.

Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't--and even if it didn't, it all seemed to happen by default or habit.

If you want to stack the odds of creating a closer and more connected relationship in your favor, we suggest that you pick up a copy of our "Restart The Spark" program that's available here http://www.RestartTheSpark.com

Here are a few suggestions from that program that have been helpful for us in our relationship as well many of our relationship breakthrough coaching clients...

1. Look at your desire to change. Now be honest with yourself. How important is it to you to make the change that you know you need to make?

We've discovered that the payoff for changing has to be really, really good in order to make changes in our habits.

Your relationship is a lot like your health...

If your doctor told you that it was likely you would go into kidney failure soon unless you changed your diet, if you had a strong desire to live an active life, we're guessing that the payoff would be so great that you would make the changes, even though they might be difficult.

Be honest with yourself what's in it for you if you change.

2. Make your commitment. Make an honest commitment with each other about how you want your relationship to be and what you're each going to do to make it that way.

Are you going to slip up?

Of course you are.

Making changes is just like learning to ride a bike--you usually don't learn in one try.

When your body finally gets the knack of what it takes to keep the bike upright and going forward, you get it!

But you have to be committed to keep trying and keep discovering what may be holding you back.

3. Tackle your beliefs. Part of discovering what may be holding you back is really looking at your beliefs.

Let's go back to our "tone of voice" challenge...

When we got to the bottom of our beliefs that were underneath all that rightness and superiority, we realized the unconscious belief was that we had to "puff" ourselves up bigger than we were to prove a point, get listened to and get what we wanted.

Unconsciously, we believed that we weren't enough without all this "puffing up" as we call it.

When we both saw what we were doing, we could practice recognizing when the desire to "puff up" came on us, stop ourselves, and choose to listen and stay open instead.

As we said before, this didn't happen overnight but we rarely, if ever, use the "tone of voice" with each other anymore.

4. Create your Restart the Spark plan. Sit down together and actually come up with a plan how you're going to change in situations that come up over and over.

Write down what happens when you each get triggered, your particular "relationship dance" and what you each are each going to do to change.

Be sure to include why you are making these changes and your payoff.

Open to embodying your learning by tuning into your body to discover what's underneath all of your actions that keep the two of you separate.

Open to having the courage to stop yourself when you feel yourself going into your old habit.

Open to being kinder to yourself and to your partner.

Talk to you again soon...

This can cause real relationship problems if you're not careful


Question from a Reader: "How do you communicate with your partner more effectively? I believe that good communication is one of the most important aspects of a good, long-lasting relationship. Often, however, our daily lives, work, kids, chores give us reasons to talk, arrange, and discuss those but the communication and talking about what we will have for dinner or who will drive kids to the next practice are two different things. I often am faced with the statement that I and my wife "don't talk" (communicate well).

"So what are some recipes for starting and keeping good communication between partners, even about trivial things in life?"

Our Comment: We love your question and thanks for asking! We really love talking about this topic because the two of us have certainly had to learn the hard way how to stay open and keep talking to one another-- whether it's about sticky issues or trivial, everyday things.

And we most certainly agree that good communication is one of the important ingredients in a good, long-lasting relationship--and also that communication can get derailed because of our busy lives.

So here's a 5 step recipe (certainly not the only one) for creating and keeping good communication between partners...

1. Relax. It might seem crazy to suggest that you relax because you're probably stretched to the limit on demands for your time and attention.

If your mind goes a mile a minute, you're always on the go, you never have time for yourself or your partner--it's even more important for you to help yourself by doing some inner relaxation.

There are lots of ways to start doing this but we urge you to start before it's too late--either for the sake of your relationship or for your physical body.

Inner relaxation can be as simple as taking a long, deep breath every hour or saying to yourself in a gentle tone--"relax."

You can start a simple meditation practice of sitting and breathing for 10 minutes or so.

Whatever it is, focus inward and feel the knots untie.

Can't stop your mind?

Our new favorite phrase from singer-songwriter

Shawn Mullins might help--

"What if it's all okay without me knowing?"

When you are relaxed, you are more open. When you are more open, you can communicate better.

2. Release. Release old hurts from the past--with old partners as well as your current one.

When you are carrying around old, unresolved hurts, it's so much easier for you to get triggered and close down communication with others, especially your loved ones.

If you are carrying around a hurt that needs to be expressed to your partner, do something to resolve it.

And a starting point is to just feel it inside your body instead of mentally explaining it away or mulling it over and over.

Whatever it takes, release it.

3. Remember. Remember why you are with your partner--what it is that you love about him or her, what it is that you admire.

So often, as relationships age and lives get busy, one of the first things to go is gratefulness and admiration for each other.

Take one moment in the morning and one moment before you go to bed to remember why you love your partner.

Start voicing that admiration.

It just takes one moment.

Watch how you begin to open deeper with each other.

4. Re-focus. Re-focus your attention on what is important to you--even if your life is really busy.

Be sure that you are making conscious choices about how you spend your time and energy.

If your partner is important to you--and communicating with him or her is also--stop yourself from going on auto-pilot as you go through your day and just take a moment to focus on it.

If you are focused on the thought that you don't have time, you won't have time.

If you are focused on the thought that you love your partner and want to get close, that's what can happen.

Notice your focus and then be conscious about it.

5. Re-commit. Be conscious about your commitment to each other.

Most of us take our commitment to each other for granted and we never think about it.

To begin truly communicating again, get conscious about what your commitment means.

It might be that you commit to finding opportunities to connect during the day, like emailing or texting.

It might be that you commit to having 30 minutes of time on Wednesdays to be together without distractions.

Whatever your commitment might be, find ways to re-commit to each other each day--and your communication will begin to flow.

It might seem that we've given you all sorts of advice instead of communication tips.

Well--just like any building, you have to have a foundation.

In our experience, this recipe we are giving you is part of the foundation for a close, long-last relationship where communication is nurtured and open.

Our wish for you is to move toward this kind of relationship, if that is your desire.

We offer a lot of great tips for dealing with relationship issues like these in our program Communication Magic available here.

Talk to you again soon...

12 Simple "Mind Tricks" You'll Want To Try


In this newsletter we're going to give you 12 great tips for celebrating your love.

These 12 tips could just as easily be called...

"!2 things to never forget about love" because they not only apply to couples at valentine's day but all of us the whole year through...

Here's what we've discovered...

Whether you're in a committed relationship or not--

Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love--

But there's a small problem...

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 because of unmet expectations.

So how can you deal with a holiday like this and actually enjoy yourself, whether you are in a "relationship" or not?

Here are our 12 suggestions to celebrate your love with your partner and with the important people in your life that will really serve you well in creating the outstanding relationships that you really want...

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 times before.

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 genuine.

3) Listen Closely to What Your Loved One 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 partner.

4) Listen Closely to What You Want. Listening closely to what you want can be even harder than learning to listen to your loved one. 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" is.

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 ourselves.

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 connections.

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 love note , 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 that.

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 ln 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 you.

We hope that these 12 tips on celebrating love 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 you.

Our best to you,

A Relationship Recipe for a close, long-lasting relationship


Question from a Reader: "How do you communicate with your partner more effectively? I believe that good communication is one of the most important aspects of a good, long-lasting relationship. Often, however, our daily lives, work, kids, chores give us reasons to talk, arrange, and discuss those but the communication and talking about what we will have for dinner or who will drive kids to the next practice are two different things. I often am faced with the statement that I and my wife "don't talk" (communicate well).

"So what are some recipes for starting and keeping good communication between partners, even about trivial things in life?"

Our Comment: We love your question and thanks for asking! We really love talking about this topic because the two of us have certainly had to learn the hard way how to stay open and keep talking to one another-- whether it's about sticky issues or trivial, everyday things.

And we most certainly agree that good communication is one of the important ingredients in a good, long-lasting relationship--and also that communication can get derailed because of our busy lives.

So here's a 5 step recipe (certainly not the only one) for creating and keeping good communication between partners...

1. Relax. It might seem crazy to suggest that you relax because you're probably stretched to the limit on demands for your time and attention.

If your mind goes a mile a minute, you're always on the go, you never have time for yourself or your partner--it's even more important for you to help yourself by doing some inner relaxation.

There are lots of ways to start doing this but we urge you to start before it's too late--either for the sake of your relationship or for your physical body.

Inner relaxation can be as simple as taking a long, deep breath every hour or saying to yourself in a gentle tone--"relax."

You can start a simple meditation practice of sitting and breathing for 10 minutes or so.

Whatever it is, focus inward and feel the knots untie.

Can't stop your mind?

Our new favorite phrase from singer-songwriter

Shawn Mullins might help--

"What if it's all okay without me knowing?"

When you are relaxed, you are more open. When you are more open, you can communicate better.

2. Release. Release old hurts from the past--with old partners as well as your current one.

When you are carrying around old, unresolved hurts, it's so much easier for you to get triggered and close down communication with others, especially your loved ones.

If you are carrying around a hurt that needs to be expressed to your partner, do something to resolve it.

And a starting point is to just feel it inside your body instead of mentally explaining it away or mulling it over and over.

Whatever it takes, release it.

3. Remember. Remember why you are with your partner--what it is that you love about him or her, what it is that you admire.

So often, as relationships age and lives get busy, one of the first things to go is gratefulness and admiration for each other.

Take one moment in the morning and one moment before you go to bed to remember why you love your partner.

Start voicing that admiration.

It just takes one moment.

Watch how you begin to open deeper with each other.

4. Re-focus. Re-focus your attention on what is important to you--even if your life is really busy.

Be sure that you are making conscious choices about how you spend your time and energy.

If your partner is important to you--and communicating with him or her is also--stop yourself from going on auto-pilot as you go through your day and just take a moment to focus on it.

If you are focused on the thought that you don't have time, you won't have time.

If you are focused on the thought that you love your partner and want to get close, that's what can happen.

Notice your focus and then be conscious about it.

5. Re-commit. Be conscious about your commitment to each other.

Most of us take our commitment to each other for granted and we never think about it.

To begin truly communicating again, get conscious about what your commitment means.

It might be that you commit to finding opportunities to connect during the day, like emailing or texting.

It might be that you commit to having 30 minutes of time on Wednesdays to be together without distractions.

Whatever your commitment might be, find ways to re-commit to each other each day--and your communication will begin to flow.

It might seem that we've given you all sorts of advice instead of communication tips.

Well--just like any building, you have to have a foundation.

In our experience, this recipe we are giving you is part of the foundation for a close, long-last relationship where communication is nurtured and open.

Our wish for you is to move toward this kind of relationship, if that is your desire.

We offer a lot of great tips for dealing with relationship issues like these in our program Communication Magic available here.

Talk to you again soon...

Your past relationship "baggage"


We want to talk about you past relationship "baggage" ( we ALL have it ) and how to make sure it doesn't ruin or put unnecessary strain on your current relationship or marriage...

What you may not realize about "baggage" from the past (even five minutes ago) is this...

It's like there's a trigger of some kind and you're instantly transported in time to someplace in the past--and you have no control over yourself or what comes out of your mouth.

The unconscious or conscious thought and feeling can be--"It happened before and it's happening right now and there's nothing I can do about it"-- and you react from that place.

When this happens, you usually react in ways that can damage your relationships.

Here's a question from a person who's asking for help with this issue...

Question from a Reader:

"How do I rid myself of my "baggage," whether it be from a past relationship, or family matters, in order not to carry it forth into a new relationship?"

Our Comments:

The truth is that we all carry "baggage" from one relationship to another and we can not even be aware of when we do it--until the relationship ends.

And maybe not even then.

Here are some ideas to free yourself from carrying this baggage--because the truth is--you don't have to do it...

1. Notice when you get triggered and notice your "story." It's usually not difficult to tell when you're triggered and to notice what you do at those times.

You might notice that you get angry, blame others, withdraw, or some other "thing" that you do that separates you from others.

You might be aware of what you do, beat yourself up for doing it but don't know how to stop doing it.

It's usually a little more difficult to identify the story that you tell yourself that pulls you into the past.

Your story (usually from childhood) might go something like this...

  • "I can't get anything right so I'll check out/leave."
  • "I'm always left out."
  • "I can never find love."
  • "No one appreciates me."
  • "I'm not good enough."
  • "I'm not smart enough."

You get the idea...

We all have disempowering stories that we tell ourselves which can usually be boiled down to one thought.

For instance...

It might be that you get triggered when your partner says you are wrong and you get angry, defend yourself, and make a snide comment about something that he or she did in the past that was "wrong" too.

You end up in a big fight and you don't know how it happened--again.

Your one-line story underneath all your righteous indignation, defensiveness and criticism might be "I'm not good enough."

You might know exactly where that thought and belief comes from--or you might not.

To carry the baggage analogy a little further--it might be the size of a carry-on or a large, over- sized suitcase.

What's important is that you recognize it.

We invite you to identify the one thought or feeling that is usually underneath every disagreement that comes up for you--and write it down.

Everyone has one or more so just take a moment to identify your particular one.

2. Bring yourself into the present and what's really true at this moment. For some reason, it's just easier for our minds to latch on to an old thought pattern that you've been carrying around with you for a long time.

That's why it comes up again and again--even in new relationships.

We like to think of our old thought patterns as habits-- and ones that can be broken.

One way to break the habit is when you notice you've gone to this old thought pattern, bring yourself into the present circumstance.

Going back to our example...

If you got angry, defensive and critical when your partner disagreed with you, before you say anything (which we know is hard), take a breath and reach out and bring yourself into this current situation.

Ask yourself--"Is there any truth to what he or she is saying?" "I wonder what I can learn about myself from this."

You might learn that you weren't clear when you communicated about a certain issue and your partner mis-understood you.

If you have trouble with communication or saying what's important... you might want to check out our "Stop Talking on Eggshells" program for more practical advice.

When it comes to mis-communication, once you realize what happened--if you catch it before it gets out of control, it's pretty easy to clear up the issue between you.

It can be that simple if you don't fall into your pattern that usually escalates a disagreement or shuts down all connection.

3. Go for what you want. When you pull yourself into the present situation instead of playing the same old record over and over, you have the opportunity for a different outcome.

You actually have the opportunity to get more of what you want.

To go back to our example...

If your story is that you aren't good enough and it comes out as arguing, excuses and snide, hurtful remarks, look underneath it all and ask yourself what you really want in this moment.

You might want more of your partner's attention and alone time with him or her. Your partner may be pulled in so many different ways and there doesn't seem to be enough time for the two of you.

You might feel neglected, unloved and (you guessed it)--Not good enough!

Instead of dancing around the real issue, ask for some time for just the two of you.

Carrying around baggage from relationship to relationship can get very, very heavy.

We love one of the last images in the film "Darjeeling Limited" where the main characters (the brothers) are flinging their father's luggage that they have been carrying half-way around the world--off the train.

You certainly get the idea that freedom was what they felt when they did that.

And you can feel that freedom also when you fling yours!

Talk to you again soon...

What if you love each other but you don't know how to...


What if you know you can do a better job of communicating and connecting with your partner (or someone else in your life) and you just don't know where or how to start?

Most of us feel that way at some time in our relationships and lives.

Sometimes it's a one-time challenge and other times you've been in a pattern of non-communicating or mis-communicating and you just don't know how to get out of it.

When this happens (or if this is happening now)...

What do you do?

How do you shift the communication?

How do you get unstuck?

Very often- some new communication and connection skills can make all the difference.

Question from a Reader:

"How do you create loving and open connection and communication everyday, when both partners love each other very much but don't know how to go about it and are fearful to communicate and be loving?"

Our Comments:

Here are a couple of things we know about creating loving and open communication and connection...

**It doesn't happen in one fell-swoop or overnight

**It requires that at least one of you makes the decision to move past fear and break out of old patterns

With that being said, here are a few tips from our "Stop Talking On Eggshells" course that might help you move toward the connection and communication that you want...

1. Identify your complaints and what you want to be different. Write down what your specific complaints are about your situation and how you'd like it to be. Until you're clear about where you are and where you'd like to be going, you're not going to be able to get there.

It's like telling your GPS that you'd like to go "somewhere" without having a specific destination in mind if you don't get specific.

What is it that separates you and tears you further apart?

Be specific about the thoughts, actions, and words, not only from your partner but also that you say and do.

It's human nature to look outward toward someone else as being THE fault but we challenge you to also look at how you may have contributed.

Then ask what does being "loving" mean to you?

What does it mean to your partner?

Does it mean being kind to each other even when it's difficult?

Does it mean more physical touch?

Ask yourself the same question about communication and be specific how you'd like to be able to communicate and be heard.

2. Recognize how you and your partner shut down to one another and then learn how to open.

You mention the "f" word--fear.

It's been said that fear is just "false evidence appearing real."

Write down all of your fears that are keeping the two of you separated and put a checkmark beside the ones that you know to be absolutely true and happening at this moment.

Chances are you don't have very many checkmarks because if you're like most people, when you're fearful, you're either reliving the past or worrying about a future that hasn't happened.

You're not living in this present moment and what's happening right now.

So figure out what thoughts are shutting you down from each other and whether there is any truth to them or not.

Even if there's some truth to your fears, you don't have to let them keep you from communicating in a loving way with each other.

But you first have to learn how to open your hearts to each other, even when it's difficult.

Opening your heart means feeling inside you and knowing that you love this person.

Opening your heart means that you are choosing to go toward what you want instead of away from what you want.

Opening your heart means stopping your habitual reactions, breathing and pulling your focus away from your mind chatter to your heart area.

Opening your heart doesn't mean that you have no boundaries but it does mean that you want to understand.

Opening your heart is probably the most important shift you'll need to make to create open connection and communication.

And it only takes one person to open and to stop the pattern that the two of you normally follow.

3. Make a commitment to changing and make agreements that support your commitment.

Talk together and see if you both are willing to make the commitment to changing some things about how you are with each other.

If you can make a commitment and some agreements, that's great.

You might make the agreement to sit and be together doing something that you used to enjoy.

You might make the agreement to be kinder to each other, spelling out exactly what that means.

If you can't get a commitment or agreements from your partner, go ahead and make them yourself.

Even one person changing can change the dynamic in a relationship.

Will that relationship be everything the person wants if he or she is the only one actively changing?

Maybe or maybe not...

In any case, you have nothing to lose unless you want to stay stuck in your relationship as you are.

A loving connection and communication is created one moment at a time--and that's no lie!

Take this moment right now to start yours!

Talk to you again soon...

Counter-intuitive Ways to Fix Jealousy, Trust and Communication Issues


Here's a crazy little thought about relationships...It's so true AND...

We've talked about this idea a lot to our relationship breakthrough coaching clients and it's made a big difference for them in their lives and relationships once they really "got it."...

So, what's this crazy little relationship idea that may not be so crazy after all?

it's this...

Almost everything you could (or would want to ) do to shift, change or improve your relationship, or marriage--as well as all your other relationships-- is... well...

"Counter-intuitive"

What this means to you is this...

What works best in relationships and what works to truly create closer and more heart-centered connections with our intimate partners and other people in our lives doesn't always seem like it is the "normal and natural" thing to do.

What we've found in working with our clients is that once you start doing some of these things that are "counter-intuitive" and "different" from what you would normally do in situations--the results in your relationships and life are usually so positively profound and noticeable that there's usually no going back.

Here's an example of one thing that usually happens when challenges like jealousy, trust or communication come up...

It's the act of "closing or shutting down"...

Whether you're jealous, have trust or communication issues, this is a response that many people choose (either consciously or unconsciously) when these challenges come up.

You might do this because you fear that if you don't "shut down," you'll feel or experience more emotional pain or intense feelings than you can deal with. ?

What happens is that you close down to the other person--and it might mean a lot of things.

Things like withdrawing love or attention, holding back part of yourself from the other person and even physically withdrawing.

Now closing down is certainly a normal reflex that many of us do when we feel threatened, misunderstood, or not loved.

It's just a way we learned, probably unconsciously and early on, to protect ourselves from pain--emotional or even physical pain. And closing down probably even served us at various times in our lives.

While closing down to another person may be the best thing for our well-being in certain situations, it doesn't serve us if we want to stay in the relationship and make it better.

When you close down, you shut the door on communicating and understanding one another.

If you want to get the solution to one way we ruin communication and connection with each other... you need to check this out:

So if closing down shuts the door and keeps you separate...then opening sets the stage for greater connection and a better relationship.

Easier said than done--right?

Here are a few of those tips and ideas we will share with you...

  • Openness or opening to another person doesn't mean that you agree with or condone the other person's behavior or even your own.
  • It doesn't mean forgiveness--although openness is often a by-product of going through the forgiveness process and it's also easier to be more open once you have forgiven.
  • Openness doesn't mean that you've given in or given up your power or respect in this situation.

So if it isn't those things, what IS it?

  • Being open means setting aside your emotions (not allowing yourself to be ruled by them) and just listening from an objective place.
  • Being open means you are seeking information and that you still have choice.
  • Being open means allowing for the possibility ofunderstanding one another.

What do you have to do to begin opening to your partner--even in tough situations like jealousy, mistrust or a communication stalemate?

You have to decide that holding back part of yourselfisn't getting you what you want and start making conscious choices about how you want to be in your relationship.

That may include figuring out what you want and setting boundaries if the other person is violating agreements that the two of you have--and sticking to them.

That's a big statement, isn't it?

You have to realize that it takes a tremendous amount of energy to withdraw, separate and hold on to pain. With the same amount of energy, you can open your heart to at least listen to try to understand the other person--and to try to find a place that you both can agree.

You may feel hurt by the other person--or even by someone you have been in relationship with in the past and you are carrying that hurt around with you every day like a ton of boulders around your neck.

This isn't healthy for you and it isn't healthy for your relationship.

Here are some ways to lighten your load by opening instead of closing?

1. It starts with loving yourself and believing in who you are. If your self esteem seems like it's non-existent, start noticing things that you do like about yourself.

2. Lighten up your thoughts about yourself. If all you are doing is tearing yourself down in your mind, it's no surprise that other people may not value you the way you think they should. Change your thoughts about yourself to better ones.

3. Lighten up your thoughts about the other person. Remember why you love this person and don't constantly repeat in yourmind what you don't love about him or her.

4. Know that you have choice. It may not seem that you have choice about your situation but you actually do.

5. Shift your attention to your heart as you listen to theother person and if your mind starts churning, bring your attention south. Find a place inside you where you know that you have choice and you are just listening to try to understand.

6. If you need to set healthy boundaries with this person, do so from a place of loving inside yourself--and from a place of knowing what you will and will not stand for.

One other way you can get yourself and your partner to draw closer to each other and open more is by asking each other the right kinds of questions.

The kind of questions we're talking about here are ones that start deep meaningful conversations and help you get to know each other deeper and enjoy a richer and more loving connection no matter how long you've been together.

Michael Webb has a created 1000 of these questions that are designed to open you and your partner to each other more.

We know that it takes courage to open. One of the best ways to find the courage to be open, even when it's scary to do so is to consider the alternative.

Consider what your relationship is like now and that it could and probably will deteriorate if you don't at least attempt to open.

You can certainly go through life defended and closed or you can gather up your courage and self-confidence and open to something really good happening.

The choice is yours.

We wish you all the best.

"How do you know when what you have in your relationship or marriage is the best you can have?"


Can it be better? Closer? More connected? The short answer is is almost always YES......AND

If you'd like to get some new ideas about how to create more passion and connection in your relationship or marriage (both in and out of the bedroom), then you might want to go check this out:

Question from a Reader:

"How do you know if what you have is the best you can get? That you're not settling? That you're not just filling a role? I recently started a new relationship. There were no 'butterflies' and the attraction isn't as passionate as other relationships but I've never felt more comfortable with someone in my life. It's healthy, happy and loving. How do I know if this will work? or if I should date around more?"

Our Comments:

Thanks for your question--and it's a great one--whether you're at the beginning of a relationship (as you are) or you've been together for many years.

As we're reading your question and comments, we're struck by a couple of things right away...

First... we think it's great that you're in a relationship with a person that you're really comfortable with and one that's healthy, happy and loving.

And--your two follow-up questions--"How do I know if this will work?" and "Should I date around more?"--reveal a lot about your situation that you may not be aware of .

These questions are critically important and here's why...

As good as your relationship seems to be, you may be fearing that it may not be enough for you and you may want more some time in the future.

What we have discovered both in working with people like you in our Breakthrough coaching practice, as well as what we have learned in our own relationship and life, is that we all have different wants, needs, interests.

We all have different things that drive us and make us be the way we are.

As we really tune in to your question, it seems that on an intuitive level, you already know that for you--you want something else in addition to "comfort" in an intimate relationship.

The question you might really be asking could be...

"Can I have it all--the comfort, plus passion that takes your breath away--or should I be happy to get 'almost' all of it?"

Our answer to that is--it depends...

It depends on how important that passionate spark is to you.

In chapter 2 of our book, "Should You Stay or Should You Go?" available here, one of the things we say about the questions you are living with is this...

"It's only after you truly know what's important to you in your relationships and your life that you can begin to make conscious decisions about how you want to move forward."

So, we go back to this...

What's truly important to you?

To help you with this, take out a pen and paper and without censoring your thoughts, write down your first, gut responses to these questions...

1. Thinking about what you do have, how important is having that passionate spark to you right now?

2. In your mind's eye, transport the two of you to the future 5 or 10 years down the road. Now look at how happy you are if nothing changes.

Remember to just let your "gut" respond right now, without censoring it.

Now, read your answers to yourself and feel how those land inside you. What are the feelings that come up?

As you're sitting with what came up for you during this exercise, consider a few ideas about passionate spark.

The typical couple starts off with a great deal of excitement and passion between them.

As we've said many times, the problem is that "life gets in the way" and they allow that passion to fade away--and no one knows exactly where it goes.

Passion can fade to nothing but it can also be re-ignited if that's what both people want.

And what if that "butterfly" passion was never there to begin with?

It can be pretty difficult (but not impossible) to "manufacture" it--unless both people really want it to happen.

They have to find ways to open to each other and look at each other differently.

If this relationship is really important to you and you want to keep it--and you are open to creating a little more "zing" with him--open yourself to the idea that it just might be possible with him.

Open you heart to him in a different way and start thinking of him in a little different way.

When you feel passionate toward him, when he stirs anything inside you--let alone butterflies--nurture that feeling and don't dismiss it as not being enough.

Some people have trouble thinking of a healthy, loving relationship in the same sentence as passion--and their beliefs get in the way when they finally find a "good" relationship.

If this is happening, start opening the door for the belief that you can have a healthy, loving relationship AND passion--all with the same man and see what happens.

Of course with passion, there's that unspoken element of chemistry and attraction that can't be denied.

We're saying that if passion is important and you're in a good relationship, start taking some action to ignite it.

To answer your last question...

"How do I know if this will work or if I should date around more?"

One way to look at it is that this relationship is working and is giving you what you need in the moment. It's teaching you what it feels like to be in a loving, healthy relationship that's comfortable.

Is that all there is?

Doesn't have to be if you and your partner want more.

We suggest you explore what you want and thenopen to the possibility of having it with this person before you go off to another one.

Settling for less than what you want usually causes tension in a relationship so we don't advise anyone to "settle."

We advise you to make conscious choices that will take you toward what you want in this moment and then in the next moment.

The bottom line is that you might truly be noticing something that you feel will be missing from your relationship and your life if you don't have it.

Or

You may be noticing where you need to put more of your attention in this relationship.

Can you Create Passion Out Of Thin Air? or Is what you've got in your relationship or marriage as good as it gets?


Question from a Reader:

"I just purchased the Red Hot Love ebook and am interested in other books of yours. Mainly, I am interested in creating passion in my marriage.

"My husband and I have a great relationship - it is a full partnership and we communicate 100% - but it is very lukewarm (for me, not him - he is full of passion for me).

"We have been married 6 years and married young (18) and the circumstances surrounding our marriage were complicated (for immigration purposes) but I decided he would be a good life partner and went through with it.

"However, I don't think I was ever (or am currently) in love with him. But he is a wonderful man and I care for him deeply, and I want nothing more than to BE in love with him and stay married to him.

"Although I think he is really attractive, I don't have any real desire to be intimate or kiss with him - I am just going through the motions. How can I achieve a deep level of intimacy with this man that I love? Is it possible for me to fall in love with my husband? Is it possible for my heart to listen to my mind? Or am I chasing something that will never be? It just makes me so sad."

Our comments:

Thanks for your question!

Although your situation may seem to be different because you seemed to marry for reasons other than "zingy and passionate" love--

From the looks of the emails we get , there are many others who feel that they are no longer attracted to their partner--or maybe never were attracted and it's a very real problem.

A lot of times the problem with passion, connection and desire that isn't there for that other person is because of "trust issues" or "poor communication."

If trust is an issue for the two of you, you might want to check out our "Relationship Trust Turnaround" program available here

That doesn't sound like the case here. It sounds like you may not have ever had real desire and passion to begin with and that's a real sticky one...

So, if we're hearing your question correctly, you want to know if it is possible for you to fall in "love" with your husband and achieve a deep level of intimacy when it may not have been there all along.

We call this-- "manufacturing passion and connection."

First of all like many others, you're saying that you "love" him but are not "in love" with him.

We suggest that you define within yourself what "in love" means to you.

What's the feeling that you want to have?...and something else that's really important to ask yourself is-- have you ever had it before?

Allow yourself to daydream--not about a particular person but rather what it would feel like to have this feeling.

One of the ideas we talk about is to never stop flirting-- and we suspect that practicing a little flirting might be good for you--and your relationship.

You may have put your husband in a box--the box that says "You're a good man, you want me but you don't excite me."

We suggest that if you want more passion, take him out of this "box" and open your heart to having a different experience with him.

Here's another issue...

You say that your communication is 100%.

While we're sure that on many topics you do communicate well, when it comes to passion and intimacy--you don't!

Without hurting his feelings, ask him if he'd like to do some experimenting.

One idea is to touch each other slowly with music playing in the background--only touch and nothing more.

There's a trick to this...

Keep your mind on what you love about him and not allow it to move to what's missing or what's for dinner.

Can we guarantee that you'll fall madly in love with your husband?

Of course not.

Do you deserve to feel real passion?

Of course you do.

We suggest that you start to explore ways to heighten your desire--and that takes an openness on your part and a willingness to look at your husband and your situation differently.

You and your husband deserve at least this much!

One other quick suggestion we'll make is to start to be more "playful" with each other and make a real effort to "play" more together.

This is a little different than our earlier suggestion of flirting more often.

Sometimes this "playing" can liven things up between to people. We're talking fun here.

Make you start looking for ways to have more fun.

Can you "be yourself" and have what you want in relationship?


A great relationship question came to us last week and because it's a question that many people have asked themselves about their relationship at one time or another...

We thought you might benefit from our answer, so we've included it here...

The question is...

Can you "be yourself" and find your perfect partner, creating a relationship that will last, especially if you haven't been too successful at it in the past?

Whether you're searching for the love of your life or you are in a committed relationship and would like for things to go a little better...

From time to time, in your frustration, these thoughts can creep in--"Do I have to be the one who has to change to have what I want? Can't I just be who I am? And why can't I seem to get what I want?"

Here's a great question from a reader who explains her frustration and our answer...

Question from a Reader:

Dear Susie and Otto

"I'm a big fan of your work. I've been back in the dating game for about 2 years now and 3 of 4 of my relationships during that time ended with me being dumped.

"This last one was the most devastating, as I really thought he was 'the one.' Trying to learn, I've been reading a lot of stuff, mostly online, of the 'Mars vs. Venus' variety, 'Catch Him, Keep Him,' etc.

"What's your thought on this sort of stuff? It would seem to me that the message in all of these is that it's up to the woman to make the relationship work by thinking more like a man (how's that collaboration?).

"For example, don't talk about your feelings too much or too early; play hard to get; act confident, etc. Again, this advice is frequently not just for finding a relationship but sustaining one too.

"While I understand some of it, I also wonder if it isn't better to just be who you are and try to find someone who matches that. My style is to talk about my feelings. Sure, I understand I don't need to do it all the time, but why should I suppress that part of myself to 'catch and keep Mr. Right?'

"I'm 38 and have yet to find Mr. Right so it would seem I have plenty to learn. Placing the onus of a successful relationship on woman's ability to think like a man seems a bit one-sided and disingenuous. Shouldn't I just be myself from day 1 (reflective, a tad insecure,and shy but very generous, smart, and funny) and let that be my filter? Or maybe that's why I'm still single?"

Our Comments:

It's always tough and a lot of times heartbreaking to havea relationship turn out to be something different than you hoped for and dreamed about.

Not fun. We've been there (as have most people) and it's not easy.

"Dumped" is an interesting choice of words to describe relationships that weren't right. This would seem to indicate that you were unaware of any dis-satisfaction or desire on the part of your previous partners to want something different than what the two of you had.

In saying that, we want you to know that we're certainly not beating up you or anyone else in a similar situation for being in relationships that ended before you wanted them to end.

We look at breakups a little differently than some people...

As crazy as it sounds, the break up of a relationship is an opportunity.

It's an opportunity to look at these relationships that ended from a different perspective and with "new eyes."

Take some time, grab a sheet of paper and answer these questions from our course "How to Heal Your Broken Heart" for each of your previous relationships that ended--

1. What were the challenges that the two of you faced in your relationship?

2. What did you (or could you) learn from your partner and from this relationship?"

When you take the time to actually sit down and objectively answer these questions, you'll probably see one or more patterns emerge.

To give you a hypothetical example...

You might see that many of your previous partners have left you and that you have had challenges in saying what was true for you--so you kept your feelings inside.

Although you learned something different by being in each relationship, you learned to be more of who you are and to speak from that place more of the time. You also learned what you didn't want.

Whether you are currently in a committed relationship or getting over the break up of one...

This exercise will help you to make some sense out of your path and the partners you have chosen.

***Your question about learning new info about relationships--

Good for you for opening to learning more about how to have a great relationship--and no, we're certainly not saying that it's the woman's role to fix the relationship by thinking like a man.

There's no place for game-playing in a close, connected relationship--even in the beginning--and confidence is attractive in both men and women.

Some of the info you mentioned is in our opinion incredibly helpful and useful and some of it can take you sideways from what you want in a relationship.

Everybody has an opinion and I'm sure other relationship experts would all have different opinions about the work we do and what we teach. It would resonate with some and others, it wouldn't.

We've studied the work of countless relationship teachers including these two that you mentioned in particular and ...

We don't think either of those two people you specifically mentioned are suggesting you should think like a man.

Understanding men's and women's differences is what the "Mars VS Venus" stuff is intended to be all about. And the "Catch Him and Keep Him" info (we have most of it) is about creating a lasting connection.

While we don't agree with everything Christian Carter says on his web site, a lot of it can be extremely on target.

Our criteria for studying with someone is usually... "Do they walk their talk?" In other words, is their relationship like the one I want.

If they don't have the kind of relationship that you want-- then they would have to be teaching from the perspective of a "reporter."

No matter which of these types of people it is-- you should always be asking yourself...

"Is what they're teaching useful, practical and grounded in depth and what part of it resonates with me?"

Now to your really interesting question...

"Shouldn't I just be myself from day 1 (reflective, a tad insecure, and shy but very generous, smart, and funny) and let that be my filter? Or maybe that's why I'm still single?"

Of course you should "be yourself" from day 1--otherwise you are not building a firm foundation for a relationship that will last.

But we invite you to go a little deeper into looking at who you truly are and what you are attracting.

One thing we realized early on is that all of us usually attract our reciprocal or opposite to heal, learn and grow.

People who have abandonment issues might attract partners who leave.

People who fear their partners will cheat, might attract those who do.

They don't mean to do it but it usually ends up that way until a part of them heals.

Rather than thinking that you have to be someone different to attract what you want, try a reframe...

A reframe might be to look beneath a protective mask you've been wearing (we all wear them) to find the real core of you.

You could ask yourself these questions...

"Is this really who I am or is this a 'mask' that's covering over another layer of me or another aspect of me that I am protecting?"

"What's holding me back?"

"Do I withhold part of myself because of fear?"

As tough as it is to think about and admit--we ALWAYS have and attract everything into our lives we are truly committed to--even though we don't like to admit it.

It's true for us and we believe it's true for everyone.

So look at what you are committed to and see if that is serving you.

A good place to start is to look at the stories (both good and bad) that you are telling yourself about how life and relationships are--according to the way you look at the world.

It's our stories that we tell ourselves that we continue to believe that keep us from having what we want--and they will show what we are committed to.

One of the most important things we can all do all the time is to be constantly working on and creating more empowering stories to live our lives from in each moment.

We're always working on this and we invite you to also.

Talk to you again soon...

A Smart Way To Deal With Disrespect In a Relationship


Have you ever felt frustrated when your partner (or anyone else for that matter) didn't make some changes that you wanted them to make and because of this, you felt like you weren't being respected?

Most of us have felt that way at one time or another. We just wanted the other person to "respect" us in a certain way and didn't know how to go about getting it.

One thing we've noticed is...

One of the reasons people who are considering leaving a relationship buy our book and audio program "Should You Stay or Should You Go?" is that they don't feel respected, appreciated and important.

Yes, feeling respected is that important!

It's important to feel respected and be "heard" in a relationship--but what if the other person doesn't seem to want to make changes that you want him or her to make?

Question from a Reader:

"I have been dating a guy about 1 year. We both feel that there are a lot of good things/times in our relationship. A very big concern that I have is I feel that there is a lack of respect in our relationship. He does not feel the 'need' to shower at night. This is a person who is very busy through the day.

"I feel that when there is someone with you, & you have that intimate relationship, that it is good practice to shower, & have a fresh clean body, to be with another person. I do not feel that it is being obsessive, to 'wash' off the days wear & tear.

"He feels that he is being told what to do. I have tried to explain to him that it is simple consideration for another person. I know that I will not be happy in this relationship, without this simple consideration, & have tried to explain that to him.

"I have tried to let this 'be', but it hurts me, feeling that he does not have this simple respect and consideration for me.

"I am wondering how we can work on this issue? There have been times that he has showered & it is very pleasant. I have tried to encourage him & told him that I appreciated these times. I have been trying to 'give it time'.

"He knows how I feel, & I keep hoping that he will realize that I am worth that little bit of effort. I feel that we are doing somewhat better about discussing things, & not shutting down. He acknowledged the unfairness to me because he is busy. I feel that this is a first step. But also am wondering if things will change to a point that I will be comfortable. I am very supportive and understanding of him & I want the same in return."

Our Comments:

It certainly sounds like the two of you are doing a lot of things "right" by learning how to stay open to each other and not shuting down as you discuss hard topics.

And as you said, that's certainly a first step!

It also sounds like you are listening to each other but don't know how to move forward to break out of the stuck place that you're currently in.

Here's what we suggest...

Keep on working on your communication.

Also...

Try doing a re-frame.

Re-frame the idea that your boyfriend doesn't respect you.

Now before you tell us that he IS being disrespectful in his actions (or non-actions), try this idea on...

What you have is not a "respect" problem but rather a difference in "rules" for living.

You have a "rule" that says that you bathe before bed and it's a sign of respect for the other person when you do so.

Your boyfriend seems to have the "rule" that when you're tired from a day's work, you go straight to bed--and it has nothing to do with not respecting the other person you sleep with.

When you asked him to adopt your "rules," he rebelled, dug his feet in the ground and won't change. To him, not showering before bed is not about respecting you.

To you, it is.

While it certainly says a lot that he acknowledges the unfairness to you, but as you said, you don't know if he will change--and you don't know if you can stand it if he doesn't.

So here are some ideas to help you...

1. Try the re-frame idea on and see if you can switch your thinking from the highly emotionally charged criticism that "he doesn't respect me" to "we just have different rules."

When you do this--even in your thoughts--you are making a shift to "neutral" and not criticizing him.

2. Talk with him from a heart-centered, non-critical place. Even though it sounds like you've talked about this situation with him, he may have felt put-down and criticized--even though that may not have been your intention.

Tell him you've appreciated how the two of you are listening to one another.

You can tell him from your heart how you want to be close to him--and that it's so much better for you when he takes a shower before coming to bed.

Talk about your different set of rules that you each have and try a "team" approach to solve your problem.

Open your heart to him as you talk and ask him if he's open to figuring out how you both can get your needs met.

3. Decide if this a deal-breaker for you. In other words, is this issue so important that you are willing to walk away from the relationship if he doesn't change?

So, before you decide to walk away if he doesn't change, give some time and attention to making some shifts and see what happens.

One final thing about this topic before we go...

We realize that infidelity, abuse or other major ways that agreements have been broken can be a very different ball game from our example in this email and can require immediate action on your part--especially if there's been a repeat pattern.

Talk to you again soon...

"How do you know when what you have in your relationship or marriage is the best you can have?"


Can it be better? Closer? More connected?

The short answer is is almost always YES.

.....AND

If you'd like to get some new ideas about how to create more passion and connection in your relationship or marriage (both in and out of the bedroom), then you might want to go check this out: Red Hot Love Relationships

Question from a Reader:

"How do you know if what you have is the best you can get? That you're not settling? That you're not just filling a role? I recently started a new relationship. There were no 'butterflies' and the attraction isn't as passionate as other relationships but I've never felt more comfortable with someone in my life. It's healthy, happy and loving. How do I know if this will work? or if I should date around more?"

Our Comments:

Thanks for your question--and it's a great one--whether you're at the beginning of a relationship (as you are) or you've been together for many years.

As we're reading your question and comments, we're struck by a couple of things right away...

First... we think it's great that you're in a relationship with a person that you're really comfortable with and one that's healthy, happy and loving.

And--your two follow-up questions--"How do I know if this will work?" and "Should I date around more?"-- reveal a lot about your situation that you may not be aware of .

These questions are critically important and here's why...

As good as your relationship seems to be, you may be fearing that it may not be enough for you and you may want more some time in the future.

What we have discovered both in working with people like you in our Breakthrough coaching practice, as well as what we have learned in our own relationship and life, is that we all have different wants, needs, interests.

We all have different things that drive us and make us be the way we are.

As we really tune in to your question, it seems that on an intuitive level, you already know that for you-- you want something else in addition to "comfort" in an intimate relationship.

The question you might really be asking could be...

"Can I have it all--the comfort, plus passion that takes your breath away--or should I be happy to get 'almost' all of it?"

Our answer to that is--it depends...

It depends on how important that passionate spark is to you.

In chapter 2 of our book, "Should You Stay or Should You Go?" available here, one of the things we say about the questions you are living with is this...

"It's only after you truly know what's important to you in your relationships and your life that you can begin to make conscious decisions about how you want to move forward."

So, we go back to this...

What's truly important to you?

To help you with this, take out a pen and paper and without censoring your thoughts, write down your first, gut responses to these questions...

1. Thinking about what you do have, how important is having that passionate spark to you right now?

2. In your mind's eye, transport the two of you to the future 5 or 10 years down the road. Now look at how happy you are if nothing changes.

Remember to just let your "gut" respond right now, without censoring it.

Now, read your answers to yourself and feel how those land inside you. What are the feelings that come up?

As you're sitting with what came up for you during this exercise, consider a few ideas about passionate spark.

The typical couple starts off with a great deal of excitement and passion between them.

As we've said many times, the problem is that "life gets in the way" and they allow that passion to fade away--and no one knows exactly where it goes.

Passion can fade to nothing but it can also be re-ignited if that's what both people want.

And what if that "butterfly" passion was never there to begin with?

It can be pretty difficult (but not impossible) to "manufacture" it--unless both people really want it to happen.

They have to find ways to open to each other and look at each other differently.

If this relationship is really important to you and you want to keep it--and you are open to creating a little more "zing" with him--open yourself to the idea that it just might be possible with him.

Open you heart to him in a different way and start thinking of him in a little different way.

When you feel passionate toward him, when he stirs anything inside you--let alone butterflies--nurture that feeling and don't dismiss it as not being enough.

Some people have trouble thinking of a healthy, loving relationship in the same sentence as passion--and their beliefs get in the way when they finally find a "good" relationship.

If this is happening, start opening the door for the belief that you can have a healthy, loving relationship AND passion--all with the same man and see what happens.

Of course with passion, there's that unspoken element of chemistry and attraction that can'tbe denied.

We're saying that if passion is important and you're in a good relationship, start taking some action to ignite it.

To answer your last question...

"How do I know if this will work or if I should date around more?"

One way to look at it is that this relationship is working and is giving you what you need in the moment. It's teaching you what it feels like to be in a loving, healthy relationship that's comfortable.

Is that all there is?

Doesn't have to be if you and your partner want more.

We suggest you explore what you want and then open to the possibility of having it with this person before you go off to another one.

Settling for less than what you want usually causes tension in a relationship so we don't advise anyone to "settle."

We advise you to make conscious choices that will take you toward what you want in this moment and then in the next moment.

The bottom line is that you might truly be noticing something that you feel will be missing from your relationship and your life if you don't have it.

Or

You may be noticing where you need to put more of your attention in this relationship.

The "Rubber Band" theory in relationships-- Is it real?


Important: If you've ever felt like you couldn't say what you thought or how you felt to your partner or spouse out of fear for what they might say, do or how they'd react. Then make sure you read this web page

If there's one dynamic that's a sticky issue between two people who decide to be a couple, it's this...

One person feels the need to "retreat" every now and then and the other person feels unloved and abandoned when it happens.

Pretty simple to describe but not simple to deal with!

One of our long time subscribers to our newsletters wrote to ask if we support the "rubber band" theory in relationships in relationship breakthrough coaching practice.

We hope we're talking about the same thing because as we think about it, the first time we heard about the "rubber-band" theory was when we originally read John Gray's book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus."

While we know that many people get a lot of benefit from John Gray's gender difference information, we think the issue is much broader and deeper than just being about a differences between men and women.

We have seen this dynamic too many times in both genders to assign one set of behaviors to one and another set to another. In the past, we've called this dynamic the "relationship push-pull."

Here's a description of what we've seen...

One person (either gender) pulls away for whatever reason and the other person pushes in some form or another because he or she feels a loss of love and connection.

Why do some people feel the need to pull away at times?

  • Overwhelm --the need to feel "in control" when emotions get out of control.
  • Habit--the way you learned to "resource" yourself or make yourself feel better--maybe from watching someone in your family do it that way.
  • Protection--you may feel threatened in some way and feel the need to withdraw and protect yourself.

So why do some people "push" when the partner pulls away (even though they may not think they are pushing)?

  • Fear--you feel abandoned and fear that your love will be taken away from you.
  • Habit--you learned to "push" when you weren't getting what you wanted.
  • Protection--you learned to protect yourself from losing what you have by reacting and pushing.

We could go on and on but the point is that we are all different and react differently to situations and to the triggers in our lives.

What can you do about it if you're in this kind of dynamic?

The woman sent us the question told us that she and her boyfriend were working through it. He is beginning to recognize when he pulls away and is also trying to reassure her that he will be back.

She has shared with him how his pulling away makes her feel and she "allows him to pull away" but maybe "not at the level he thinks it should be."

We think the two of them are taking solid steps toward understanding one another, allowing each other to be who they are, and keeping their connection-- even when it's tough.

Here are some more suggestions...

1. Notice your patterns and when you either withdraw and pull away or feel abandoned and either push against or withdraw.

Don't label it "right or wrong." Just notice what happens.

2. Go inside. When you notice you are doing whatever it is you are doing to separate from each other, instead of trying to figure it out in your head, take your attention to the feeling.

From the feeling, you may get a sense of what you need.

For instance, if you withdraw, you may get a strong sense that you feel out of control or fearful for some reason and you need to be alone for awhile--and it may or may not haveanything to do with your partner.

Or you may feel suffocated and it comes down to a fear of commitment and a fear of opening deeply to another.

If you feel abandoned, feel what you need-- maybe it's reassurance and maybe it's just to learn to resource yourself in some way.

3. Keep the lines of communication open. Like our newsletter subscriber, allow yourself to open to listening and understanding how the other person thinks and feels.

Even if you've been in a relationship with each other for many years, there is still much to learn if you truly listen.

Have the courage to say what you need--not from blame but from your heart.

If you're having trouble with communication, take a look at our Stop Talking On Eggshells Program

4. Resource yourself in new ways. If you withdraw, as soon as you realize what your needs are, ask for time alone if you need to but reassuring your partner that you will be back and that you do love them.

Also take a look at your stories about why you need to withdraw. It might be a very real need but it also might be a habit that you no longer are willing to keep doing. You may want to learn how to "stay" when it's tough.

If you are with a partner who withdraws, you can begin to challenge the stories that are running in your head--that are old, habitual ways of thinking.

These stories might be--"I'm not good enough" or "They always leave." One way to deal with them is to challenge them and choose a better outlook for yourself.

Whatever pattern you discover, allow the space for something different to happen in your life instead of playing and acting out old, worn out tapes that no longer serve you.

Becoming conscious of what takes us away from love and then taking steps toward more love is life-long work.

But it doesn't have to be "hard."

It just takes a little courage and a willing, open heart.

We wish you all the best. Talk to you again soon.

The relationship strategy that most of us "try" but almost never works


Note: If you've ever wondered what happened to the relationship you used to have or find yourself wanting the love, passion, romance, intimacy and connection you think is possible but can't seem to create.

Oddly enough, as we work with our clients in our Relationship Breakthroughs Coaching Practice there's a relationship strategy that almost everyone tries at one time or another that they think will work and make things better but almost never does.

Talk about a communication challenge--this is certainly one of the biggest!

Here's what frequently happens.

When we are in a relationship with someone (especially our intimate partner or spouse) and we get triggered or upset, the first thing that usually happens is that we shut down to the other person in some way or another.

Some of us get mad or just irritated and some of us withdraw, either agreeing to something we don't want or disagreeing but withdrawing our energy.

However you shut down, the outcome is still the same--disconnection.

When you shut down emotionally or energetically, you are nowhere close to coming together on an agreement and a way to proceed to resolve the difference when this happens.

No matter how insignificant the issue, resentment can build and continue to separate you from the love and connection that you both may want.

Take Kara and Joe for instance...

In Joe's opinion, Kara is constantly not thinking ahead, forgets something important and calls Joe to ask him to bring it to her since he works from home.

Normally, he does it and it doesn't bother him. But every now and then, he's overwhelmed with his work and it's an interruption, takes his valuable time and he becomes very irritated with her.

In the past, even though he's irritated and even angry with her, he ends up doing it and not saying anything to her about his true feelings.

At these times, Kara doesn't know why he's acting "mean" and distant and they both feel a separation between them.

For awhile after that, they do what we call "talking on eggshells" and they don't know what happened and they don't know how to get back to feeling close again.

If this sounds at all familiar to you, we're not surprised because as we said before, most of us do some form of this "dance" from time to time.

So what can you do when this happens?

How can you learn to say what you are feeling when it's important to do so and it's difficult to do so--and keep your connection?

We created some great new strategies that show you how to talk to your partner or spouse about anything without fear about how they'll react or what they'll say, think or do. You can read more about these new strategies here

But here's what we can tell you right now about it...

Although it may seem like the complete opposite of what you might want to do or what might feel natural to do-- one of the best things you can do when you're having a difficult moment in your relationship or marriage is to open, even when it's difficult to do it.

You'll hear us saying this a lot but it's so true and worth repeating--

Everything you do either moves you closer to or further from the love that you really want. It's the choices you make in every moment that make the difference whether you keep a relationship alive or deaden it.

And, opening is a choice that you can make.

So how do you open up when you're triggered and feel closed, angry, or withdrawn toward the other person?

Here's what Joe did...

The next time Kara called and asked him to bring her something she had left behind, before saying yes, he tuned into himself to see how he felt being interrupted in that moment.

If it was no big deal, he said yes and did it. If he felt any twinge of anger or irritation, he took a breath and stopped himself from saying yes. He then asked himself what story he was telling himself about what it would mean if he told her no he couldn't do it at that moment.

When he asked himself that question, he found out that he was afraid that she would be angry with him, shut him out and maybe stop loving him at some point.

As far fetched as that thought was--that she would stop loving him--it was a real fear for him.

So he acknowledged his thought or "story" that was would no longer love him and realized that he didn't really know if any of that is "true."

He also realized that he didn't trust that she could hear "no" from him, even if he said it in a loving way.

When he finally did tell her that he was busy and couldn't do whatever she wanted at that moment, he felt relief because he had been honest.

Kara was surprised and a little hurt but said she'd see him later.

When she got home, Joe told her how he sometimes feels when she asks for him to bring her something she's forgotten. He tells her that he has a hard time saying no and honoring his needs. He also tells her that he doesn't want to feel separated from her because of this.

They talked about how they would like to handle this kind of situation in the future. They made an agreement about it and they stayed open to each other.

Here are 3 tips to help you to open so that the two of you can begin to come to a resolution about whatever differences you might be experiencing...

1. Own your stories-What is it you are telling yourself about this situation? Are you holding on to being right? Are you fearful about what may or may not happen or be true about the other person?

Take a moment and listen in on what you are saying to yourself about this situation. Ask yourself what it would mean if you didn't do what you think you should do.

If it comes down to a trust issue, http://www.relationshiptrustturnaround.com-- no matter how big or small, acknowledge what you are feeling and find out if your feelings have any truth to them.

Whether there is or isn't truth them, acknowledging what you are thinking and feeling takes you out of the "closet" and allows for there to be understanding and openness between you.

2. Remember that you love or even like this person-What is your desire with this relationship? If it's connection and love, then bring your thoughts back to why you love this person, even though you may both be at odds at the moment.

Remember that you aren't always at odds (even though you may think you are at the moment) and bring your mind and heart back to times when you were on the same page.

3. Share and listen with love-What is it that you want to share from your heart? Be curious about what you want and also what the other wants. Know that you both have choice and listen and share from that feeling of wide openness.

4. Make some agreements based on your sharing with each other. What can work for both of you?

In the case of Kara and Joe--

When she realized what was happening to Joe, Kara agreed to start thinking about what she might need the next day more of the time. She also agreed that if she did forget something she needed, she would ask Joe first if he was interruptible and could spare the time to bring it to her.

Joe agreed to stay open and be honest with her about when she asked him to bring her something she'd forgotten.

Opening when you are triggered is a choice. You can stay stuck in negativity, possibly harming your relationship and certainly making your life miserable or you can choose to open to maybe another alternative or way of doing things.

The choice is love or distance. Which do you choose?

For more information about how you can begin communicating and connecting deeper with the people in your life, especially when it's difficult, read this now

3 "Secret" Ways to Deeper Connection and Intimacy


NOTE: Have you ever had the feeling that you wanted to get closer with your partner--especially when it comes to communication--and wanted to try some things without making a big deal about it? Then-- you might want to go check this out:

Question from a Reader:

"I'm looking for ways to develop intimacy with my live-in boyfriend without it seeming like I am following some program. Is there some "secret" way to try things without him knowing I'm doing it?

"Are there things that can be asked casually to spark conversation? Are there ideas for spontaneous activities?

Thanks!"

Our Comments:

Sounds like your partner is not really in to learning about relationships and trying some new things so you want to help him along without him being consciously aware of it.

There's certainly nothing wrong with wanting more in your relationship and nothing wrong in making some small shifts in yourself-trying some new things-to create more connection.

We know that some people aren't interested in reading relationship ideas and then putting them in to practice.

We also know that they are usually with people who do-which seems to be true in your relationship.

Here's one trick that you seem to have learned that we'll point out...

You can't "make" your partner interested in going through a relationship program if he or she isn't interested.

What can be incredibly successful is for the person who IS interested in learning some new strategies-to actually start practicing them and see what happens.

Who knows-your partner may even start to get interested if you casually start talking about them.

So you want to know a "secret" way to try some things to deepen intimacy and get closer.

We'll do better than that-we'll give you 3 ways to deepen your intimacy.

These tips are just a taste of we we teach in our Communication Magic program that is available here.

So, here are our three ways to deepen intimacy...

*If you want him (or her) to come closer and don't want to make a big deal out of it, try something as simple as opening your heart a little wider to him. In other words, when you think about him, picture what you love about him. Maybe it's the way he touches you, or maybe it's the way he walks in a room and looks at you. Maybe it's the way you cook together or laugh together. It's that simple. He won't even know you're doing it but believe us when we tell you that he will start noticing a difference-in you!

*Open yourself to learning more about him instead of making assumptions. When he says something that you might think is wrong or pushes one of your buttons-don't automatically say what you normally say in that kind of situation. Instead of saying "you're wrong" or "That's not right," say something like this--"Can you tell me more about..." In other words, get curious and find out more information instead of shutting down the conversation with eye rolling or sarcasm. Don't assume that you know what your partner is thinking or what he or she knows to be true. Take the time to ask and what how he or she opens to you. (To learn more phrases like this, take a look at Stop Talking on Eggshells.

*Open yourself to noticing what you like and make it known that you like it. In other words, verbally appreciate him (or her) when something happens that you love. If he chooses to stay home with you instead of go out with the boys, tell him how great that makes you feel. Pretty soon he'll get the idea without you having a long-winded conversation about it. It's certainly not "wrong" to have those conversations about what you like-but it can be equally effective to show him what you like in this way.

We invite you to follow these 3 tips and just see what happens.

Just focus on enjoying your relationship and your partner and the rest will fall into place.

What to do if you feel like you are the only one interested


As we've been talking about restarting the spark in your relationship over the past few weeks, a common question comes up for some people.

Here's what one woman asked...

"If I make the effort, will he make an effort also?"

What a great question--because it is just human nature to not want to stick our necks out if we're all alone on that skinny branch.

This doesn't just apply in our intimate relationships or marriages-- it also applies to all of our other relationships as well.

Here's what we typically find...

Before we start putting some energy into making some changes in the way we act or speak, we want some assurance that the other person will also make some changes.

We don't want to feel like we're the only ones "trying to make it better."

Whether the issues that come between the two of you are small ones or are significant...

If you're like most other people, you want to feel that you're not the only one who should make changes and you don't want to waste your time and energy if it's not reciprocated.

You also might not want to put yourself in a vulnerable position if your partner isn't going to do the same.

So what do you do if you want more spark in your relationship and are willing to try but you don't know if your partner is willing?

What do you do if you feel like you are the only one interested in working on your relationship?

The truth is that you can't be 100 percent sure how your partner will react.

But you can be pretty sure that your life and relationship will go along as it is if you don't do something.

If you can relate--and we all can at times, here are a few ideas for you to consider...

1. Decide whether opening your heart to more spark in your life is something that you'd like and if it is, decide that you want to do it for yourself.

Let's say that you'd like to start communicating better with your partner because sometimes it seems that you don't even like each other anymore.

One way to begin doing that--even without your partner even knowing about it--is to stop yourself when you think of his or her "bad" traits or what irritates you.

Just stop yourself and remember why you love or even like your partner. Remember times when you do connect.

2. Check in to see if you are making up stories in your mind about how your partner will react to the changes you'd like to make.

The truth is that most of us are not mind-readers and we really don't know.

So if you catch yourself saying that "He (or she) won't buy into this so why should I bother"

You might tell yourself something like this "I don't know if he (or she) will participate or not but Iwant to do this for me."

3. Consider that maybe there's something you can learn by listening and watching.

One of our Breakthrough coaching clients felt like she was the only one in her relationship "doing" anything to make it better because she read articles and books about relationships and her partner didn't.

She was very surprised to discover that when she stopped judging him and just observed, she could see signs that he had been doing his own work in his own way all along.

It just looked different.

So before you jump to conclusions, step back and allow some space to listen and observe your situation and your partner.

4. Learn to say it and stay open.

If you have something to say that is difficult, consider how you would like to have that said to you and then say it that way.

One of the quickest ways to kill spark is to say it and convey it in a way that blames the other person.

Go for what you ultimately want with your partner and see if or where there is ground to meet.

As we said, there are no assurances that your partner will give out the effort that it might take to regain your spark or closeness.

But if you do nothing, nothing will change.

We urge you to try a few of our ideas and see what happens.

How vulnerability can open the door to greater connection and aliveness


This entire month, we've been talking to you about the keys to restarting the spark in your relationships and your life.

We've certainly had a good time doing it and here's something else we've discovered about creating a greater connection in your relationship and life that we wanted to share with you...

One of the ways to create and keep spark is allowing yourself--as well as the other person--to be real, honest, and vulnerable.

This may sound like a no-brainer but it seems that for many of us, it's easier said than done.

The truth is that having the courage to be vulnerable and accepting your partner when he or she is vulnerable can open you both to a closer relationship.

This past weekend, we saw a great example of how vulnerability opened the door to greater connection and aliveness.

What happened was that we were attending a seminar and one of the presenters, who wasn't used to giving presentations in front of three or four hundred people, did something very brave.

While demonstrating "radical honesty" which is based on Brad Blanton's book "Radical Honesty," this speaker tuned into herself and revealed that she was feeling fearful, and even allowed herself to cry.

Did that disconnect her from the audience?

Did the people watching her presentation think badly of her?

No way.

What actually happened was that by acknowledging she was feeling vulnerable, she created a deeper connection with the audience than if she had simply told us about the radical honesty theory.

Do we recommend that you cry on stage or tell every hidden thought of fear, sadness or whatever else you are feeling as you go through your daily life?

Of course not.

What we are suggesting is that if you want greater spark in your life, you begin to look at how you can share yourself more deeply with your beloved, your family and the other people in your life who are important to you.

Allow your loved ones to peer into the window of who you really are instead of holding them at arm's length.

So what's a real life example of this in action?

Mona liked for everyone to feel like she "had it all together" and nothing ever phased her.

She didn't usually ask for help and didn't allow even her husband to see when she felt afraid or upset.

Her husband wasn't aware that she wanted more of his attention and that she missed not having it the way it used to be. She was scared they would lose their love for each other.

When she finally told him how she really felt, allowing herself to be vulnerable and to let her guard down, he was surprised. As he listened to her, he felt a deeper connection with her than he had in a long time.

He had actually been feeling that something was missing in their relationship but didn't know what it was until Mona opened up to him.

While vulnerability can certainly open two people to a deeper connection, there can be some stumbling blocks.

We sometimes pay lip service to wanting our partner to show vulnerability. In other words, we say that we want to be vulnerable and our partner to also show his or her feelings but when it actually happens, we do something to dismiss it or close down the connection.

The two of us ran into this problem this past weekend.

We were both tired from long days in the seminar and one evening, we ran into a common pattern for us that certainly dampens our spark.

The pattern is that we both act in ways that neither of us feel understood by the other.

Can you relate at all?

As we thought about it later--when Otto shared what he was feeling in a vulnerable way, Susie reacted by dismissing his feelings because she hadn't felt understood a little while earlier. She unconsciously "punished" him for not listening to her.

Now, this isn't our normal way of reacting to expression of one another's feelings but we were tired and not at our best.

The point is that we had to do what we know to do to reconnect--which is to come toward one another and admit what we had done to disconnect from each other.

Because our commitment to each other is is to stay open and keep our connection strong, alive and growing, we chose to open our hearts to each other again--even though it was difficult.

As you think about the idea of putting more spark in your relationship, marriage or life...

Our questions to you are these...

1. Who do you want to build spark and aliveness with?

2. What ways are you willing to be vulnerable with this person and to show who you truly are?

3. Do you unconsciously "punish" someone else when he or she is being vulnerable?

4. If you do, what can you do to open your heart to that person more of the time?

This week, choose to be vulnerable and show your loved one something that you may have been holding back.

Look for places in your relationship and live where you can foster more aliveness and spark.

The Magic of One Day


For one day, we got our spark back. There was universal excitement and we all felt invigorated.

THAT day was yesterday, the inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States and the "spark" we're talking about is the feeling of hope and possibility that Americans as a whole haven't felt for awhile.

It doesn't matter what your politics are...

Yesterday's inaugural events were inspiring and uplifting, with differences seemingly set aside for one day.

Although President Obama's inaugural speech wasn't hailed by the critics as a "moonshot," we were inspired by the fervor, commitment and confidence underneath his words.

He said, "On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

We think those are words of action, not only for our country but also for our personal relationships.

Isn't it interesting that this same phenomenon happens occasionally in our relationships--where we have something happen or we have a really good day or a "great weekend" and then it's back to "normal."

If you're like us, you may be wondering something like...

How can we take the passion and desire that was raised yesterday and apply it to our relationships?

Here are a few ideas you may consider applying to your own life...

1. Acknowledge what's different. Nothing changes unless we start to notice what's changes. Now that might sound like the old "chicken and the egg" riddle but it''s so true.

Begin to notice what words and actions take you toward what you want rather than away from it.

2. Be patient. In President Obama's speech, he asked for patience and we think that's great advice when you find yourself in a rocky situation in your relationships.

Being patient doesn't mean "do nothing" but it does mean not being so quick to judge and criticize. It means pausing to find out more information before you react from old patterns.

3. Put an end to "petty grievances and false promises." President Obama told us that it was time in American politics to stop the petty grievances and false promises and we think that's great advice for our relationships.

How do you stop?

Just like stopping any habit, you just do it.

You just decide that you are no longer going to perpetuate those kinds of dynamics in your relationships--even if you feel like you have to defend yourself because you are "right."

4. Look for ways to work together as a team. Think about how you can act together as a team instead of adversaries, pulling and tugging against one another.

It starts with relaxing inside yourself and knowing that you have choice. It starts with being open to maybe there's another way to be and do.

5. We have "duties" or a responsibility to our relationships. This responsibility is to show up in an authentic way, don't take the relationship for granted and respect the other person.

If we all did just these things can you imagine what kind of relationships we'd have and what kind of world we'd live in.

So, we invite you during our "Restart the Spark" month and beyond to take the lead from America's new president and meet your challenges with a renewed sense of hope, possibility and excitement for the future of your relationships and your life. Meet them with love.

Raising Your Level Of Deservingness


There is a simple, yet often overlooked idea that creates major problems and challenges in the relationships and lives of millions and millions of people and maybe even your life as well.

If you don't solve this challenge, you can have all the hopes, dreams, and intentions that you want and take more action than a lumberjack in a log splitting contest and it still won't matter.

Nothing will change.

Your relationships and everything else you want to improve in your life will continue to be basically more of what you've got now unless you do this one thing.

This one thing is to raise your "level of deservingness."

We have always known about this idea and have worked with it, both in our own lives and with our Breakthrough Coaching clients to raise their level of deservingness.

Recently, we've been going even deeper in our understanding of just how important it is to raise our level of deservingness as we've been listening to Joe Vitale's new "Awakening Course" that is available at http://www/PassionateHeart.com/Awakening

And believe it or not...

Your level of deservingness has a lot to do with how much spark, passion, zest and vibrancy you have and allow in your relationships and life.

Now we know that when you think about the idea of how to have more spark in your life, it's pretty easy to dismiss it or put the idea on the back burner.

You might be telling yourself something like this...

"That's nice but I have more important problems to deal with right now."

Maybe you lost your job, your finances are not what you want them to be or maybe your relationship is really rocky and re-igniting spark might be pretty far-fetched--or maybe you're just too busy to even think about what it would take to do it.

Whatever your situation, we invite you to look at just one thing right now--your level of deservingness in whatever area of your life that seems to not be what you'd like it to be.

When we talk about deservingness, we're talking about how much of the "good stuff" that you feel you deserve to have--and we're not just talking about physical "stuff."

Yes, your level of "deservingness" is a major factor in the level of financial abundance that you enjoy but there's so much more to consider.

This "good stuff" can be love, relationships self-esteem, meaningful work, education or whatever else you desire.

We've found that you can be conscious and self-confident about what you think you deserve in a certain area of your life but unconsciously not feel you deserve the good things life has offer in another part of your life.

This plays out differently with everyone but more than likely when you feel stuck, it's an unconscious process that is at work here.

Why are we talking about level of deservingness and creating more passion and zest in your life?

In our own lives and in the lives of those we come in contact with, we've seen how passion and excitement--and the ability to create what's desired--comes to a screeching halt when there's a feeling of not really deserving to have it.

You might say that this isn't your problem but if you are feeling stuck in any area of your life, we suggest that you look a little deeper than what seems to be on the surface.

Here's Sam's story to help us explain what we mean...

Sam couldn't find a job, was living with friends and although he was interested in attending massage school, he had no money to pay for it.

Sam was stuck and couldn't seem to take action except to investigate truck driving school--which he had no interest in attending.

Although his problems seemed pretty obvious, it wasn't until he allowed himself to start believing that he deserved more in life and to have what he wanted--to go to massage school--that things began to change for him.

His unconscious beliefs about himself and what he deserved held him back until he could see something new.

We're happy to say that Sam got a scholarship to a massage school and left last weekend to start his education.

Can it happen that way to you?

Sure it can.

Here are some ways to look at your situation that might help if you have a "log jam" in your life...

1. Examine where you are and what you are telling yourself about this situation. Look at your unconscious and conscious beliefs.

Sam realized that he was in the shape he was in partly because of past programming that said he was a failure at everything he tried. And kept reinforcing this belief by telling himself over and over that it was not possible to have what he wanted.

2. Question your negative thoughts and beliefs. When you find yourself thinking thoughts like these...

"It will never happen." "Others can have this but not me." "What if I went for it and it didn't happen?"

...take a moment and ask yourself if you want to continue to believe this thought or belief--or not.

At that moment of decision, when you decide to make another choice, you open the door to possibility just a crack so that you can begin to look inside at another future for yourself.

3. Take action from possibility. Nothing would have changed for Sam if he hadn't acted by calling the massage school and asking about financing and scholarships. He took action.

You can take action too from a place of deserving what you want and gratitude for yourself and your life.

You can ignite the spark in your life and in your relationship by beginning to see the possibility of it and that you deserve this or something greater.

Restart the Spark by Lightening Up


As you know, this month, we're focusing on restarting the spark in your relationship and life.

When we talk about this idea, your initial flinch reaction may be this...

"It's going to be a lot of hard work to do this and it's serious. We'll have to really buckle down."

What we've noticed about restarting the spark-- and we do it each time the two of us disconnect from each other--is something pretty interesting and it may actually be counter-intuitive to your inner beliefs.

The harder you think and believe you have to work to have what you want and the more serious or "heavy" it becomes, the less likely it will happen.

The tighter you hold yourself inside and the more tension you feel, you miss the opportunities to open to each other and what's there for you to claim.

Does that mean that you sit and do nothing, waiting for the spark to come.

No, that's not what we're saying.

We're saying that one of the keys to restarting the spark between you and your partner and in your life, is when you (and hopefully your partner) lighten up and allow some inner ease in your life and relationships.

Here's an example of something we did last night where the two of us did some "lightening up."

It's a good example of where we allowed the magic of the moment to not rush by without using it to help us keep the spark alive and growing between the two of us.

Here briefly is what happened...

The two of us were at the gym working out and you guessed it--we were there as part of a renewed goal to be healthier and more fit in 2009.

The two of us were in different parts of the facility, until Otto came over to Susie to whisper in her ear.

He told her that he noticed how attractive she was and he was sure that other people noticed as well.

We had a few moments of flirting with each other and then we went back to our work-outs.

Our renewed goal of being healthier and more fit could be considered "hard work" and serious--or we could make it fun and a way to deepen our connection.

We both felt a bit lighter after that moment in the gym--and more deeply connected.

And it was something we did to create a an intimate, special and even sexy moment between us when there were lots of people all around us.

Let us explain a little more about what it might mean to you in practical terms to "lighten up"...

  • It can mean stopping yourself if you have a tendency to try to control or fix others. You can ask yourself "Is this any of my business?"
  • It can mean simply telling yourself "I love you" if you feel criticized. That "I love you" can help you feel easier about yourself so you don't respond from defensiveness but rather from a desire to understand what the other person is really saying.
  • It can mean re-evaluating your "shoulds" that cause you inner tension when you do them.
  • It can mean joyfully acting more from what you value in your life and what's important to you.
  • It can mean stopping yourself from being so focused on getting a job done that you ignore your loved one. While we know the value of focus, we also know the value of connection.
  • It can mean asking for help and not expecting the other person to be a mind reader.
  • It can mean receiving without guilt or any other hang-up you might have about it.
  • It can also mean doing something completely silly or loving to lighten up the energy. (You have to be careful about this one to make sure that the other person doesn't feel like his or her ideas or words are minimized.)

We could go on and on and we hope that these examples have sparked some ideas of your own along these lines.

So this week, we invite you to look at how you can lighten up in your life and connect more--either with yourself or your loved ones.

Take this opportunity to restart the spark in your life and relationships and see how marvelous 2009 can really be.

4 Ways To "Restart The Spark"


A couple of days ago, a friend of wished us a happy new year by telling us that "everything's going to be fine in 2009."

While this is certainly our wish for you, we think that our lives and relationships can be even better than "fine" in the coming year and so can yours.

We all can restart the spark--the spark in our significant relationship; the spark in our everyday lives; the spark in other relationships that are important to us.

We can ALL create more happiness and joy in the coming year.

We think it all starts with putting the spark back in your relationships and lives.

So as you're reading this, your question might be ...

How do you put the spark back or even find it after it's been buried under fear, distance, apathy, tiredness or disconnection?

Here are some ways that you can begin starting right now to invite more spark into your life...

1. Decide where you want more spark and make sure that it's truly what you want. Make sure that you are willing to make a few changes in your life and do a few things differently.

In what area of your life or which relationship would you like to enliven and enrich?

2. Make a change in a belief that holds you back.

Your beliefs come from thoughts that you think over and over--which can certainly come from past experiences. Wherever these beliefs came from, they can be changed if they no longer are in your best interest--if they hold you back from having what you want.

A great example of this is this...

Old belief--"I'm not loved and supported in a way that I want."

New belief--"Support is there for me to do what I want if I'm open to it."

You can start changing that belief by noticing when this new belief is true. In this case, when you feel supported and loved.

What's one new belief you can begin to adopt that will bring you closer to what you want?

3. Make a change in an attitude that holds you back.

Your attitude toward life and your relationships certainly create more of the same.

The trick is to change your attitude without "blue-skying" it or telling yourself something that you can not believe.

Here's an example of changing your attitude and the way you think about your partner...

Old attitude--"My partner will never make changes in our relationship."

New attitude--"My partner is my friend and I can start treating him (or her) that way."

What new attitude can you begin to embody that will bring you closer to what you want?

4. Learn a new skill and practice it.

To make any change, especially if you want to bring more spark to your life, you usually need to learn something new and then practice it.

For Susie, it's a deeper learning of how to stay present, grounded and open no matter what is going on around her.

For you, it might be a new way to relate to your loved one or it might be learning how to change your thinking to be more positive.

What's one new skill you'd like to learn next year that would make your life better?

What we know is that we all have the opportunity to make 2009 the best year ever.

We encourage you to open yourself to this opportunity of more love, passion and zest for life than you ever thought possible.

©2009, Susie & Otto Collins

 

Susie 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 called Spiritual Partnerships plus two booklets Love and Relationship Success Secrets and 101 Relationship Quotes Worth a Million Dollars! You can also read more articles like these and subscribe to their weekly newsletter on love and relationships by visiting their web site at www.collinspartners.com Their new E-book Should You Stay or Should You Go? has just been released and is now available www.stayorgo.com See Archives 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001. Other Relationship Issues, Books



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