Susie & Otto


The Relationship Trap You'll Want To Stay Away From. (It's Not What You Think)

If you're like most people, you've probably gotten caught up in this relationship trap at least once in your life--especially if you're a woman...

You worry that you aren't pretty enough, thin enough, or desirable enough to hold a man and keep him interested over the long haul.

Well, if that idea hasn't been debunked many times before, Tiger Woods has blown this myth straight out of the water and here's why...

Otto was talking to his personal trainer yesterday while he was working out and of course the conversation got around to Tiger Woods and his alleged affairs.

Monica, his personal trainer, said that the big question her other clients had was why in the world Tiger would ever cheat because his wife Erin was so thin and beautiful.

Why would he go elsewhere when he had such beauty at home?

Good question isn't it?

A lot of people (especially women) fall into the trap of thinking that "If I were more attractive, a better lover, a better whatever that I'd never have anything to worry about when it comes to my relationship and my man."


It simply isn't the case with Tiger and his beautiful wife Elin.

He apparently went elsewhere because beauty alone wasn't enough to hold him to faithfulness in his marriage.

Now of course we don't know the inner workings of his relationship with Elin and we won't claim to know the real reasons (right or wrong) that drove Tiger to cheat.

What we do know is that being beautiful and thin doesn't insure faithfulness over the long haul.

We bring this up because so many women tell us they're jealous and worry about someone more beautiful or thin stealing their man away.

We know that keeping a relationship alive, juicy, connected, loving and monogamous through the years is so much more.

Recently, we got a copy of T.W. Jackson's book for people who've just gone through a break up and want to get back with their partner or spouse...

The book is called, "The Magic of Making Up" and we highly recommend it and we agreed with much of what he was saying and...

We're paraphrasing here...

He said that men crave admiration and when they feel they aren't getting it--perhaps like they used to--they try to find it elsewhere.

He also said that women want to feel appreciated and praised for who they are--and if they don't find it in their relationship, they may look for it in some other place.

Of course, these aren't the only reasons people cheat or emotionally "drop out" of their relationships, but they are important ones to pay attention to if you want to keep yours vital, alive and growing.

Much more important than beauty and the size of one's body!

When you really get down to it, when you "check out" of a relationship, in whatever way you choose to do it, you aren't getting your needs met.

You may not choose to cheat, as Tiger has, but there are other ways to check out of your relationship...

**Allowing yourself to get so busy that there's no time to connect with each other

**Allowing work to become the most important thing in your life

**Shutting yourself down from emotional connection

Even if you consider yourself soul mates when you first got together, if you don't keep doing the things that attracted you to each other in the first place--and looking for new ways to love each other--chances are your relationship will lose its specialness over time.

If you quit admiring, appreciating and loving each other for who you each are-- you leave the relationship wide open for one or both of you to seek it elsewhere.

This admiration and appreciation has to be genuine even while it's mixed with expressing healthy boundaries and speaking your truth as you grow together.

For some, no amount of admiration and appreciation will keep him (or her) faithful.

That may be true in Tiger's case.

But if you're feeling like your relationship could use a little spicing up or you may think it's in trouble...

Turn your attention toward your partner and look at what you once admired and appreciated about each other.

Start looking for instances when these traits re-appear--and then let your partner know how you feel.

You may not want to be the first to start the appreciation/admiration ball rolling but if you do, there may be a huge shift that happens that can change your life forever.

All our best to you,

"When Is Flirting a Good Thing?"

Whether you're single, married, or in a committed relationship...The fact is--most of us have done our share of flirting (even though we may not have called it that) in our lives.

Flirting can be a good thing for relationships and yet...

Flirting is one of the biggest challenges for couples today and it's also one of the biggest reasons so many people don't trust their partners or spouses (even when everything is so good between the two of them.).

Flirting that's gone too far is also one of the things we help you solve in our "Relationship Trust Turnaround" program that is available here... Relationship Trust Turnaround

When you (or anyone is flirting) even if you don't recognize your motivation at the time, it's a way to get some need (s) met.

The question becomes--Is flirting harmful or healthy?

The answer is both...

When one of our newsletter subscribers wrote in to ask us what we thought about flirting, we thought it was a great topic that many people in committed relationships have challenges around, especially when it involves co-workers, friends or people you meet in social situations.

When it comes to flirting...

It's fun, exciting and we do it all the time in our relationship.

It creates more passion, more love and more desire.

We call this a good thing.

The dictionary defines flirting as "to behave amorously without serious intent" and "to deal lightly." We define flirting as focusing attention on another person with the intention to get some need of yours met.

In our opinion, in most cases when you flirt, you are sending out "feelers" to find out how receptive the other person is to you and whether this person will and can give you what you are wanting.

Maybe it's just a smile, laugh, a stroke for your ego, or conversation (it could be sexual stimulation) that you want--whatever it is, we all flirt to get something in return whether we know it or not. It could be that flirting helps you feel alive.

If you are not violating agreements in a committed relationship and not violating any boundaries of the person you are flirting with, it can be healthy and fun. The challenges begin when agreements are violated and/or the flirting becomes unwelcome attention.

So what's the difference between flirting and just being friendly?

When you are being friendly, the intention may be to connect with the other person on some level without a sexual agenda or without having a strong desire for your personal needs to be met--except for the need for friendship.

When you are flirting, there is an unspoken (or spoken) need of some kind that you are wanting the other person to fill.

We both have flirted with other people when we were single and when we were in our previous marriages.

For her, as Susie looks back on those times, she realizes that she flirted to ultimately get her previous husband's attention and to feel attractive. There was a lack within her that moved her to attract the attention of other men. She was trying to fill herself up by looking outward to others instead of finding it within herself.

In hindsight, Otto now understands that he flirted to get unmet wants and needs met. In many cases, he didn't even realize what he was doing.He just thought that he was having some innocent fun and a good time. Sometimes this flirting turned out to create some challenges for him that took some real explaining.

You may find it interesting to know that as in love and connected as we are, the two of us do not wear wedding rings. Rings symbolize commitment but also we think they are meant to be an outward signal that the person wearing one is unavailable for a committed or sexual relationship or whatever the couple has agreed on.

When we made our marriage commitment to each other, our intention was that we would move through our lives in such a way that everyone we came in contact with would know that we were committed to each other. In other words, the rings wouldn't be necessary as an outward symbol of our love and affection for each other.

The point is not to encourage you to throw away your rings or to not include them in your commitment to each other if you are in a committed relationship, but to encourage you to look underneath at your intentions and motivations for all of your actions, including flirting.

If flirting is a problem for you, you might want to ask yourself these questions to help you sort out what's going on inside you--

  • Are there needs and desires within me that are unfulfilled?
  • Are there wants, needs, desires or interests unfulfilled and missing in my committed relationship?
  • Why am I flirting, how do I feel when I'm doing it and what do I want to get out of doing it?
  • Are there some other ways I can get those needs met?

If you are in a committed relationship and you are flirting with others or your partner is flirting with others and this is causing distance and disconnection between the two of you, take this opportunity to focus on your needs and how they can possibly be filled in ways that strengthen your relationship instead of possibly destroying it.

So, when is "flirting" a good thing?

It's a "good" thing to flirt with your partner when you want to build passion, mystery and intrigue in your relationship.

In our relationship, we "flirt" with each other all the time. It makes our relationship more alive.

What we've discovered is that flirting can mean adoration, honoring and can build passion between two people and can be very healthy. It can also serve as a wake up call if you are in a committed relationship and are violating agreements within your relationship.

The challenge with "flirting" is to always make sure that it's appropriate to be building passion, mystery and intrigue with the person that you're flirting with.

Our best,

2 Instant Breakthroughs That Put Life Back into Your Relationship

One of the quickest, sure-fire ways to create more trust, more connection or more life in your relationship is to change the way you talk to yourself and the way you talk to your partner.

One thing we'd like to say right now is...

If you're feeling like your relationship has lost some of its spark and aliveness--you're not alone.

It's easy to put everything else you have to do in your life above your relationship. Because after all, your relationship will still be there--right?

Maybe--maybe not.

Our question to you is--why leave it up to chance?

Take some steps now to put some life into your relationship--no matter how good or not-so-good you think it is.

You might believe that change takes a very long time to happen.

You might believe that to change something in your life, you peck away at it and eventually you'll have want you want.

Or you might even believe that change isn't possible.

It's been our experience that change is possible and it happens in two ways:

1. Yes, it can take a long time to happen or

2. You can do things to create what we call "Instant Breakthroughs."

You can create these "instant breakthroughs" in any area of your life but since our focus is relationships...

We'll tell you about some instant breakthroughs that are possible in your relationship

Before we give you some ideas on how to do this, we'll tell you what "instant relationship breakthroughs" are...

An instant relationship breakthrough is one moment when one or both of you in the relationship make a shift to do, say or act differently and there's an opening, a sense of understanding or a feeling of connection and communion in the relationship that wasn't there previously.

Even for a moment both people feel it.

To give you an idea of what we're talking about, here are 2 "Instant Relationship Breakthroughs" that you can begin practicing right now to make your relationships even better...

Instant Relationship Breakthrough Idea #1. Make a definite "yes" or a "no"

We are all constantly making choices, either consciously or unconsciously, about how we will use our time, who we will be with, and what we will do.

All these decisions (or lack of decisiveness) positively or negatively affect our happiness.

When we don't make a definite "yes" or "no," we get stuck in "maybe" land and others decide for us by default how we'll live our lives.

When people get stuck in "maybe" land, they tend to become angry and resentful but the fact is--THEY didn't make a choice.

Here's an example of what we're talking about...

Imagine you and your partner or you and a friend decide to go to the local movie theater this Friday night. There are several possible choices of movies at your theater and you begin talking about what you'd like to see with your partner or friend.

Imagine that your partner or friend has a strong preference toward one movie and you'd really like to see another but you don't say anything.

You give your partner or friend a weak, "maybe" or "I don't care" and end up seeing the movie they wanted to see.

Later, you feel resentful and angry because your partner or friend is so "bossy," you feel this always happens to you and you never get to see the movie that you want to see.

If you can relate, you may feel anger and resentment toward others but what you actually are feeling is resentment towards yourself for not having the confidence to go for what you really want.

It might feel "safer" to not express an opinion and let others decide for you but in the end, it really isn't.

A breakthrough moment is when you empower yourself and express what you want, giving a clear "yes" or "no" and expressing your desires in a loving way.

It may be that you end up seeing the movie your partner or friend wants to see but in the process of expressing your choice, you let the other person really "see" who you are.

You then have the opportunity to decide together what would be the most pleasurable use of your time.

You might even make a deal that you take turns picking the movies.

Whatever it is, there is choice.

Here's a short technique we call "Yes or No" to help you make decisions from your heart and gut.

"Yes or No" is a way of discerning your emotions--a measurement tool for gauging what you're feeling and making quicker decisions on how you want to run your life.

It also helps you to get unstuck.

So how do you know whether a decision you are faced with is a "yes" or a "no"?

1. When someone asks you to do something or a choice is before you, take a moment to quiet yourself and breathe.

2. Check in with how you are feeling inside.

To practice this, think of a definite "yes" in your life, something you are absolutely certain about.

It might be "I'm a great dancer" or "I'm a good cook" or even "I have green eyes."

When you think of the "yes," what do you feel inside your body?

Where do you feel it?

When there's a "yes" for Otto, he feels a strength inside himself and a sense of expansion.

Now think of a definite "no" in your life. What does it feel like in your body?

When there's a "no" for both of us, there's a sinking and heaviness in our solar plexus and chest.

This feeling may be somewhere else for you and it might not be a sinking feeling or heaviness.

It might be a dull ache or feeling of being uncomfortable.

Whenever we are faced with a decision, if we take the time to go within, we can feel whether something is a "yes" or a "no."

By doing this, we bypass the wishy-washy place of being stuck in "maybe."

This doesn't just apply to making decisions about which movie to see.

We invite you to do this exercise to help you be clearer in your communication on a regular basis about all the things in your life.

When you do, you will be clear about who you are and what you are feeling so there's no chance of assumptions being created that get in the way of connecting with others.

Instant Relationship Breakthrough Idea #2. The power of making completions that have kept you from moving forward in your life and relationships.

Most of us have an awareness of things that have been left unsaid that needed to be said or things that needed to be done that weren't done.

If you need to do a completion about anyone or anything in your life, it can be a breakthrough moment for you and the other person.

Pam took one of our courses and told us later that she had made two completions that by doing them, she was moving forward to having what she wanted in her life.

She returned all of one man's things that were left at her house, including a computer, several months after they had broken off their relationship

She also decided to break it off with a married man she'd been seeing every now and then for years.

These things from a former lover and the relationship that wasn't going anywhere were holding her back from being with someone who could love her the way she wanted to be loved.

Completions aren't always as dramatic as Pam's but they always free up energy for something more wonderful and powerful in our lives.

On television the other day, we saw an interview with a couple who had been married 40 years. When asked how they kept their spark, they said that they never go to bed mad at each other.

That's a great example of a completion--of not allowing resentments to build--of saying unsaid words that may be getting in the way of a great connection with your partner.

We all have ways we can make completions in our lives that will free up energy so that we can have what we want. Anything left unsaid is an incompletion.

Challenges or problems in the bedroom are almost always about unspoken truths, withheld emotions and incompletions.

Try these instant breakthroughs in your relationship and see what happens.

Instant breakthroughs work.

A change for the better can really happen in your relationship right now.

Our best,

One Big Way We Avoid Fights (and How You Can Too...)

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is an often quoted line from the famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that unfortunately also describes a way that many people live their lives.

While we know that sometimes you get into situations you'd rather not be in...

...And it may be helpful to look at these situations and realize (as a coping tool) that if something doesn't kill you, it may make you stronger...

We're not sure that's the best way to go through life.

We'll explain because...,

This is especially true in our intimate relationships after the first rush of intense attraction-- or the "honeymoon period"-- starts wearing off.

This is when those differences that never seemed to bother us before start bothering us big time.

Arguments and fights can happen next because we're so wanting things to be the way they used to be (or even better) and we think that if our partner can see our point of view--everything will be okay.

Well, it usually doesn't work that way.

In fact, it can just get worse because you each get in a groove and keep repeating the same argument over and over--with the same result.

But it doesn't have to be this way and it doesn't have to end up with one person giving in to the other's way.

If you don't see eye to eye with your partner or anyone else who's close to you and it ends up in an argument or fight, you're certainly not alone.

The two of us have had our share of misunderstandings and arguments and they might have gone on and on but we learned a few things.

One of those is how to avoid conflicts (or at least when they come up, how to get resolution and re-connected more quickly).

Here's our story...

In the first years of our marriage and life as business partners, we struggled with how to deal with finances--even though we were soul mates and very deeply connected.

Otto has always been a "spender-type" and Susie, a "saver-type"--and we've certainly driven each other crazy over this one big difference over the years!

One particular big problem was over the word "budget."

You start a business--you create a budget--right?

That was according to Susie who had been the library director at a university for a number of years and was used to creating and working with budgets.

But not to Otto.

He would get really upset, feel restricted and angry--even when the word was spoken and our spender/saver difference seemed to really get out of control.

It wasn't until Otto looked at why he was so triggered by the word and told Susie about it that we started to soften around this issue.

He had worked as an ad/sales representative for radio stations for many years and budget to him meant that someone on high was dictating to him what he could and couldn't do. Budget meant restriction.

When Susie could understand where Otto was coming from and when Otto could understand how a budget that he helped to create could be useful, we could get on the same page with the idea.

The important shift for us came when Otto realized that a budget could be a guideline for success and when Susie realized that what Otto really wanted was the freedom to create and expand our business in powerful ways.

We started listening to each other and could actually appreciate where we each were coming from--and stay open to new possibilities.

We decided not to use the word "budget" (we used "plan" instead). And then after several years, Otto realized that the word "budget" didn't have a charge for him anymore.

And we actually began working together to create our finances the way we wanted them to be.

For this to work, we had to give up our pre-conceived notions of how it "should" be or how it was in our previous lives.

We had to start from scratch to finally understand one another and move forward together.

In your relationship, if there's an issue that comes up again and again, take the time and gather the courage to get out of your destructive groove.

Stop what you've been doing and saying and start all over in your mind.

Pretend you have had your mind swept of all previous thoughts around this topic and start over.

Start over and listen to each other--not a regurgitation of your favorite argument but rather talk about your motivation and feelings.

Of course you each need to take some time to identify exactly what the feeling is underneath your strong belief and stand.

Otto had to get to his feeling of restriction and be willing to share it with Susie in order for us to understand one another.

Susie had to be willing to not get defensive but just listen.

This is incredibly powerful and it works.

Both of you need to do this and if your partner isn't interested, try it anyway.

If your partner wants to keep holding on to being right and is emotionally abusive, it may be time to consider if this relationship is one you want to stay in.

As always, if you are being physically abused, get help and leave now. After you are safe, you can find out if he is willing to get help and if things can change.

Arguments and fights don't have to come between the two of you.

And you certainly don't have to use them to make you "strong" as Nietzsche said.

You can be joyful and loving in your relationships--and still learn to be strong.

Our best,

Love and Physical Affection--2 Ideas For Getting More

Question from a Reader:

"My biggest frustration in my relationship is that whenever I become even a little needy, I find my partner withdrawing.

"If I point this out, he is sweet and makes an effort but his natural instinct is to withdraw.

"Also, I want more physical affection other than love-making. I find that he is less touchy feely than me.

"How do I make my man more responsive-- physically and emotionally?

"It's important for me to overcome this obstacle so I can give as much as I want without feeling that I too need to withhold in the relationship in order to have more control/balance--which I know is not healthy because it takes away from the spontaneity in our relationship.

"Also it makes me feel unloved, which I know is not the case."

Our Comments::

If there's one question we hear over and over, it's the one our reader asks...

"How do I make my man more responsive-- physically and emotionally?"

And although we do hear it occasionally from men, we primarily hear it from women and here's why...

All the research we've read (including our own informal research) suggests that men have had a few handicaps when it comes to being emotionally and physically responsive when it doesn't involve the act of making love.

Now of course, we're not talking about ALL men and we're not making excuses for them.

But because of upbringing, life experiences and what most (if not all) cultures teach what being a man means...

Boys are taught in so many ways NOT to be emotionally and physically responsive in loving ways (as girls are generally taught), especially toward the opposite gender.

Many family cultures reinforce the idea that "too" much physical touch (outside of the "act" itself) and emotion is not the norm and is even unacceptable if you're going to be part of that "tribe."

This goes for males and females.

What all of this does is create vast differences in expectations between two people (even same-gender couples) as to what each finds desirable and natural when it comes to sharing themselves with each other in this way.

In other words, one person can be comfortable and actually want a certain level of physical touch and emotional sharing in the relationship--and the other person has a very different level of comfort--even shying away from it.

Is this an impossible situation?

If you're the one who wants more affection and emotional sharing outside the bedroom, do you just have to accept that you'll never get it and stay frustrated?

Do you have to keep asking for what you want and constantly feel needy?

Before we answer those questions, we want to talk a little about the idea of feeling needy.

If this describes you at times in your relationship (and most of us can relate to feeling needy at sometime in our lives)...

We invite you to take a close look at what happens when you become needy.

Define your brand of neediness.

For right now (we'll get to your partner later), forget about what he or she is doing or not doing and just focus on you.

What are you telling yourself about your partner or about yourself?

Are these thoughts true?

Do you tell yourself that your partner SHOULD understand what you need?

Do you tell yourself that your partner doesn't love you, even though you know that he or she does?

What stories are you spinning in your mind at these times? Are they true?

Is it that you've had a bad day at work and you want some comfort right now because you feel very alone and unloved?

Is it that something else happened to make you feel not so good about yourself and you want some assurance that you are loved?

What's your behavior?

Step back and look at yourself and what you do in those times.

Do you call your partner--and keep calling him or her until you get an answer--and then become angry and withdraw because he or she wasn't available?

Do you withhold in the relationship in order to have more control and balance as our Reader described--and if so, is it working?

If you become "needy," you NEED something and are expecting someone else to fill that need in a certain way.

You need the other person to act in a certain way in order for you to feel good.

How is it that you want the other person to act so you can feel good?

While it would be great if the other person complies and gives you what you want, as our Reader told us, it isn't satisfying and doesn't fill her need when he reacts to her request.

She senses that his natural reaction is not to come closer to her in those times and that he's "sweet" (translate that to wants to please her) but it's not what she wants

The problem with neediness is that the other person's reaction to it is NEVER what we want.

The other person either withdraws, gets angry or tries to satisfy the need but somehow fails miserably and it's not good enough.

So what can you do if you're stuck in this type of situation?

Is it hopeless?

Here are some ideas...

1. Take a breath and stop yourself from doing what you normally would do when you feel needy.

Get to the real cause of your feelings.

Find out what you "need" in that moment and really look within to see if you might be able to fill that need yourself in some other way.

If your neediness is brought on by untrue thoughts and stories you're telling yourself, then be honest with yourself and change those stories.

Reaching toward someone else for love and comfort out of neediness can be like reaching for chocolate, ice cream or alcohol in times of stress.

We THINK the comfort, the touching, the chocolate will help ease whatever is going on--and it may for a very short time--but in the long run, it doesn't.

The only thing that really DOES help is dealing honestly with a situation-- and that means looking within yourself.

2. When you aren't in the throes of neediness, invite your partner to talk about the pattern that you both play out.

Stay engaged even though it's tough and you are tempted to withdraw--or whatever you do.

Be willing to truly listen without getting defensive when your partner shares what he or she is feeling in those times.

You might ask yourself and your partner if this is a relatively recent pattern-- beginning after something happened between the two of you--or if this is how it's always been.

Talking about the "elephant" that is still hanging around and listening to each other can help you stop all of this withdrawing.

Your willingness to listen without getting your hackles up (even if you think you don't have "hackles") or withdraw will set the stage for more and deeper sharing and trust between the two of you.

3. Decide what kinds of agreements you both are willing to make around what each of you want.

If your partner isn't as touchy-feely and you want more, is there a way to get both your needs met?

Be creative and be specific.

Maybe a time each day that's just for the two of you--and it might be that you spend 10 minutes rubbing each other's feet or backs--or even sitting close to one another.

The point is to figure out what you each want in your relationship, strip away your previous patterns that sabotage you getting what you want--and then take steps that you both want to take toward what you want.

If he or she is unwilling to even talk about it with you, then keep practicing opening but also know that this may not be the partner for you.

There's a big difference between coming toward someone with neediness and lack-- and with radiance and openness.

Our wish for you is that the two of you practice dropping your defenses and going for the latter.

Our best,

This almost never works in relationships

Oddly enough, there's a relationship strategy that almost every tries at one time or another that they think will 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 peeved 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.

You start doing what we call "talking on eggshells," not really saying what you mean because irritation seems to be a constant between you.

So what can you do when this happens?

How can you learn to say what you mean when it's important to do so and it's difficult to do so?

We created some great new strategies to help you with this and many other important communication issues that you can find learn about at 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 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? Take a moment and listen in on what you are saying to yourself about this situation. Ask yourself what it would mean to get your way or if you didn't get your way. What are you telling yourself being right or getting your way will prove?

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.

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?

Why It Pays To NOT Be Honest In Relationships

What a double-edged sword the truth can be!

We all say we want to be "truthful" and to be told the truth..

Or do we really?

If we're really honest with ourselves about our relationships, when it comes down to it, the "truth" we usually want to hear is the one we agree with.

The "truth" is that in most relationships--

One or both of you dance around the truth or omit things that are important to you because you don't think your partner will like them or will get upset

When you do this, you are putting up walls to intimacy and barriers to deeper connection--no doubt about it.

But you don't want to hurt the other person with honesty, right?

So what we ALL do to greater or lessor degrees in our relationships is to NOT tell the "whole" truth with the people in our lives and most importantly-- we don't usually want them to tell us the whole truth either--especially if it's uncomfortable to hear it.

If everybody was completely honest (judgments included) in ALL their communication, it might just be too painful.

So, what we're saying is...

If we're really honest with ourselves, there's a payoff for not being completely honest in our relationships.

We get to make sure we don't hurt anyone and they won't hurt us as well.

But is this NOT being completely honest good or bad for creating close, connected relationships?

This leads us to a question around this topic that we're guessing you can identify with--because we've coped with this one ourselves and it's also a question that many of our "Relationship Breakthrough" Coaching clients have had as well...

Question from a Reader:

"How do you keep honesty and intimacy in relationships without becoming upset when told the truth?"

Our Comments:

We all know that it's a piece of cake to be honest with someone or to really hear what another person says if you think the message is something you both agree with and neither one of you finds objectionable.

It's EASY to be truthful.

But what if you have to tell someone something that might be upsetting or even make that person angry?

And what if someone tells you something that you'd rather not hear or believe?

Not as comfortable to tell or hear the truth, right?

It's the way many of us are made up--to not want to be hurtful and to get along.

But what happens when we disagree with someone--someone we love--or he or she disagrees with us?

Some of us hint at the truth or completely ignore it, hoping that it will go away without ever letting the other person know how we really feel--just to keep the peace or any other reason.

When this happens, what it really does is push the two of you further from love, intimacy and connection.

When the two of us first came together, we made an agreement that we would be totally honest with each other so that we could keep our passion and connection alive.

We had both done it the other way and knew that it didn't work so we wanted to be sure we didn't make that same mistake twice.

It sounded like a good agreement but when we started putting it into practice, it wasn't as easy as it seemed--even though there was and is great love between us.

Like a lot of people, it took a lot of courage to find out what was true inside us and then to say that truth so that the other could hear it.

And hearing it was another story...

When faced with being told something uncomfortable about ourselves, what you might imagine happened to us too...

We got defensive and either shut down, got quiet, withdrew or got angry and sarcastic.

Pretty typical response, right?

When faced with the "truth" that we didn't necessarily agree with, we fell into old patterns--just like most people--even though we had made this wonderful agreement.

What did we do to get out of our old habits and do it differently?

Here are some ways we learned to stay open to each other, even when it's been tough, so that we could build our trust, connection and intimacy...

1. Recognize that you have a "story" and your partner has a "story"--and that's what they both are--stories.

We all have very different ways of viewing the world and if we are to be in relationships with each other--especially intimate ones--we have to stop expecting that we'll all think exactly alike all of the time.

It just isn't so.

When you recognize that you have a viewpoint that might be different from the other person's that is made up of very different life experiences, you can be a little more open to just finding out what makes them tick--instead of trying to defend yourself and your ideas.

2. Recognize that you always have choice. Just because your partner says something about you or something that he or she thinks has to happen or not happen--you still have choice.

We defend when we think we don't have choice.

When the two of us remembered that very simple idea, we stopped being so defensive and could listen to one another at a deeper level.

3. Listen to hear if you can find any truth to what's being said, even though it might be painful to hear.

There have been times when Susie would say something to Otto (or to someone else) and she didn't realize that sometimes her comments sounded "bossy" and "controlling."

When it was pointed out to her, of course she would get defensive.

Because of our agreement, she learned how to stop herself by taking some deep breaths and stopping the words she normally said in defense.

In her mind, she learned to rewind the tape of the incident. Usually she could see how her comments could have been taken that way, although that wasn't her intention.

When she thought about it... and located that truth, she said one of the "Magic Words" or phrases that we teach. She said..."You are right. I can see how you might feel that way although it wasn't my intention."

And then she told Otto (or the other person) what she was feeling when she said those "bossy" words and used that particular tone of voice.

She was honest about what was inside her and what she was feeling.

Each time the two of us share in this way, we create deeper intimacy and truth between us.

We've found that it all starts with stopping yourself from what you habitually do when you feel threatened, treated wrongly or misunderstood.

In doing this, we in no way suggest that you are to become someone's "door-mat."

It's really just the opposite when you stop yourself from getting muddled in defensiveness, anger or fear.

We've found that when you do change from your old habits, you are able to speak more clearly, understand one another and create deeper love between the two of you.

So does it pay to not be honest in your relationships?

It pays if you want to remain distant from others.

If you want to create more passion, intimacy and connection--it doesn't/

Our best,

3 Ways to Get Your Needs Met in Your Relationship or Marriage

Question from a Reader: "[My problem is] my husband's inability to take the initiative in our relationship, to find what I like/want. He is unable to make me feel like a woman. I feel needed not loved.

"Is this his personality and can he change or is what we have now all there will ever be?

"If my needs cannot be met, I think I will try to leave this marriage again. I agreed to stay if things change. He believes he has changed dramatically, but he is even more insecure now.

"Why is it that it is mostly women who look for information to solve these problems? Men need to be made aware of how we feel, and start doing something about it.

"My husband admitted he knew I was unhappy but did not see divorce as an option. How long did he think a relationship could go on like this?"

Our Comments: Wow! We really hear you.

You, like a lot of other women, are tired of doing ALL the work on the relationship.

You want him to step up to the plate and and you feel like it's not happening.

You say he's unable to make you feel like a woman and you feel NEEDED not loved!

And he may not have a clue how to go about giving you what you want--let alone think of doing it on his own.

Now of course by answering this woman's question, we are in no way implying that ALL men are like this--not being able to give the women they love what they want.

But what we do know from research--ours and others--as a broad generalization, (and we do mean broad) women are theones who are more interested in personal growth and making their relationships better.

Women by in large are the ones who will lead their partners to therapy, coaching or relationship books and courses.

Again, as a generalization, men tend to seek out relationship help only when the relationship is falling apart and will end very soon if they don't do something quickly.

Why is this?

Could be the way men and women are biologically wired differently but it's also programming from an early age about what it means to be in an intimate relationship.

Our reader's husband might fall into this category...

To him, "needing" someone and being needed equals love.

To this woman, that's not enough.

Many years ago, one of our teachers said this...

Women marry men hoping they'll change. Men marry women hoping they won't.

If this woman is like many others, we're guessing that when the two of them were first together, her feeling that he NEEDED her was enough--or at least she thought it might change into something deeper as the years went on.

She saw potential in him and in the relationship and there's certainly nothing wrong with that if that was true for them.

But what happens is usually this...

As the years passed, she discovered that a relationship could be much more-- and being loved and loving is more than just being needed.

But her husband didn't necessarily get that information. He was comfortable with the way their relationship was and didn't necessarily want it to change.

She did.

So can someone (man or woman) change or is this part of his or her personality and can't be changed?

Our take on this question is this...

Anyone can change but the person has to have the desire, motivation and skill to do it.

And you have to speak the same language.

By that, we mean that you have to learn to listen deeply to each other without getting defensive and to talk honestly about your wants and needs.

You have to give up judgments and open your hearts to each other so you can understand where you are each coming from.

We'll give you an example from our own life to explain what we mean...

From the beginning of our relationship, both of us have had a strong desire to keep it passionate, alive and growing as the years go by.

So we've both had strong desires to grow--and keep growing together.

But that doesn't mean we've always been able to understand each other and talk to each other without getting triggered.

We had to learn to stop the stories in our heads that may or may not be true.

We had to learn to ask when we were unclear before we just assumed that we knew the other's intentions.

It might be a tone of voice that meant one thing to Otto and another to Susie.

We each had to learn to recognize what we do when we are triggered and defensive and take a step out of it when it happens.

So what does all of this have to do with our reader's situation and question?

We share what we've had to learn to more clearly point the way to how to learn to love someone more deeply.

Yes, you can learn how to love someone more deeply even if you've never been taught how.

And we all have specific ways that we want to be loved.

Here are a few suggestions for how our reader can get her needs met, as well as any couple who wants to increase the love in their relationship...

1. Make a list of what being loved and feeling like a woman or man mean to you. Be very specific and let your partner know--but skip the blame.

Find specific examples to point to that will help your partner understand what you want--maybe something he or she did "right."

We're all different and we all have different definitions of what being loved means.

Does it mean more touching or love- making, demonstrations of a desire to be with you more, or listening to you so that there's true understanding?

Susie knows she's loved because Otto shows her in many ways that she is important to him.

He doesn't just say it. He lives it.

Last Friday evening, we went to a restaurant with a few of our friends.

After dinner was over and we were all sitting around the table talking, Susie told Otto that she was tired, the music was loud and she was ready to go home.

He "felt" into her, into himself and listened to her request.

Otto realized that he wasn't attached to staying at the restaurant and saw and felt that Susie was ready to go home.

He didn't ask questions or make a comment. He simply looked at her and agreed.

In that moment, Susie felt a deep recognition that he was very present with her, she was deeply loved and her wishes were being respected by him.

Does that mean Susie always gets her way?

Of course not.

It just means that we've agreed that loving and being loved means listening and feeling deeply into the other and into ourselves before we automatically react from old patterns.

2. Be willing to open to the idea that your partner might be changing. It just might not be in the way you want.

If your partner thinks he's changed, with an open heart, ask him how he has changed without blaming him for not being who you want him to be.

Listen and observe first.

The woman who sent us her question said that her husband seemed even more insecure.

When she senses him feeling insecure, she can open her heart and invite him to open up to her.

We're not saying that his changes may be enough for her or in any way what she wants.

We are saying that for anyone to make changes, he or she has to feel that there is acknowledgment for the changes that are being made along the way.

Something like this...

"I can see that you are making an effort to change..."

One woman is in therapy with her husband and was focusing so much on what their relationship wasn't that she missed the changes he was making in himself.

Shift your focus to looking for the changes--whether they are exactly what you think they should be or not.

Acknowledge him for what he Is doing and not what he's not doing.

3. Discover what you both want in your relationship.

The two of you may not want the same type of relationship--or you may.

The problem is that your partner may not choose to open himself or herself to the relationship that you want.

In the end, we all make choices about how we want to live our lives and your two viewpoints may not be a close enough match for how you want to live.

But if the desire is there for both of you to follow a similar path and you both learn the skills that will take you to the relationship you want, it just might be possible.

Our best,

2 Ways to Create "Automatic Attraction" in Your Relationship...

Wouldn't it be great if you could wave a magic wand and the person you most want to be attracted to you (especially your current partner, spouse or lover) is head over heels in love with you and you really feel it at deep level?

Whether you're currently in a relationship or not...

Wouldn't that be pretty wonderful?

Well--unfortunately, there is no "magic wand" that we know of.

But we do know some ways to create what we call "Automatic Attraction."

We're going to share some of them here and...

One of those ways is to use the right words in the right ways--words that create "automatic attraction," more trust and the feeling of being loved, honored and appreciated in your most important relationships.

The right words really can make ALL the difference in your communication and connection..

So what is "automatic attraction" and how do you create it?

It might sound complicated but it really isn't.

One of our teachers explained it this way...

In order to create what you want in your life, you have to set up the conditions so that what you want happens automatically.

We'll use weight loss as an example for how to do this and then we'll give you an example about relationships to further bring the point home...

While we're certainly not experts on weight loss-- we can tell you that if you want to lose weight, it's just like what you have to do to create an outstanding relationship.

You can do it much easier if you start doing things that make it "automatic."

For example...

If you set up conditions like these--

Going to the gym and working out with a trainer 3 days a week, doing 30 minutes of exercise on the other days, eating smaller portions, and not eating sweets and certain other foods--you'll probably lose weight.

If you do those things (or whatever conditions you put in place) and keep doing them, it's almost automatic that you will lose weight.

How about relationships?

We think one of the biggest keys to creating a long-lasting, close relationship is keeping attraction alive between the two of you.

And if your perfect partner hasn't come into your life, you may be looking for that attraction or "spark" that tells you that he or she is "the one" when you meet someone new.

So attraction is big--whether you're single or in a relationship with someone.

As we were thinking about attraction and setting up conditions for making it automatic, we asked ourselves how we do it in our relationship.

What do we do to keep our attraction alive throughout the years and make it almost seem automatic?

Here are some of the "conditions" we've set in place that continues to keep us attracted to each other that you can use whether you're with someone right now or not...

(These things may seem pretty simple but don't be deceived into thinking that they aren't powerful to keep attraction alive and well!)

1. Greet each other as if we are very special to one another (which we are).

This isn't always easy and sometimes we (like a lot of people) forget to greet each other as if the other is special.

Here's an example for you to see how the smallest of things can make the biggest of differences in the love and connection...

The other day Otto was out running errandsand he called Susie to ask if she wanted anything from the store.

When he called, she was preoccupied and when she saw it was him on caller ID, she just said "yeah" in a dead-pan voice as she answered the phone.


Otto felt like he was treated worse than a stranger and all he said was...

"I'll call back."

Then he hung up the phone and immediately called back a 2nd time...

Susie got the message loud and clear.

When she answered the second time, she spoke in such a way that he knew he was special.

This seems like such a small thing but it's so relationship.

Now you tell us...

Which promotes automatic attraction-- a cold, distant "yeah" when your spouse or partner calls...

or a warm, loving greeting?

We AND you both know the answer.

It's the warm, loving greeting.

And the weird thing about this is...

The warm, loving greeting certainly isn't fake and doesn't take any longer to do.

What we're encouraging you to do is...

Set up the condition that you remember that your beloved is your beloved--no matter how busy or preoccupied you are.

And if you are not currently with a partner, treat a loved one in the same way we're talking about.

You'll be amazed what happens in your life.

Another thing you can do to start creating "automatic attraction" is...

2. Stop yourself before you make up untrue stories about your beloved (or anyone else you want to attract to you) and just listen.

It's so easy to fall into the "bad" habit of viewing everyone, especially your loved ones, from your perspective.

And when you do that, you make up stories that may or may not be true about what he or she is thinking and feeling.

Even if you're very much in love and consider yourselves "soul mates," you can't possibly assume to know what your partner is thinking and feeling.

Attraction stops when you start assuming.

When you start assuming, the other person either withdraws or gets angry.

So which do you want?

Your beloved or another to come toward you or to pull away from you?

Learning to listen without an agenda is one condition to put in place that will bring you closer.

Listening without an agenda just takes a little practice and telling your mind to be quiet now and just pay attention to the other person.

It's also telling yourself that you still have choice even though you are listening to someone else.

Creating conditions that will set the stage for automatic attraction is not as impossible as it may seem.

Does it ensure that your relationship will be exactly what you want?

...Like maybe you want more romance and your partner doesn't seem to want it?

Well, remember we said that we don't have a magic wand--but you certainly aren't out anything if you start thinking about this idea and trying out setting some conditions.

Who knows--the results might be better than you expect!

The Women Men Adore... And Never Want To leave

If you're a man.who is curious about your role in making sure your woman is the woman you adore and won't ever want to leave--then we have a very special recommendation for you that WILL change your relationship and life with your woman for the better forever.

Recently, we met Dr. Bob Grant and he's a licensed relationship counselor from the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Not only does Bob have an amazingly successful therapy practice... but he's also written an amazing book that we highly recommend.

His book is called...

"The Woman Men Adore...and Never Want to Leave."

If there's one thing we've heard a lot from our women readers it's how to keep their partners interested.

We have to tell you that we were blown away by Bob's ideas and the way he explains them in this book.

He gives practical strategies, tips and ways to move yourself from where you are now to becoming the woman your man truly adores and never wants to leave.

We loved this book.

We read it cover to cover and found it to be refreshing and amazing.

In his book, "The Women Men Adore... And Never Want To Leave," Bob seems to have an uncanny way of saying things that make getting what you want in your relationships easy (and that's a good thing.).

This book is unique in how it helps you understand how a man reacts inside when someone he loves is in pain.

It also explains why some women unconsciously "drive away good men or continually pick losers."

This book is not only written by a man, from a male point of view, but also from the point of view of a counselor.

Here's what another reader wrote: "...this book is a Godsend."

In our opinion, this book deserves not just one reading, but many and here's the best part...

When you download a copy of Bob's book--."How to Be the Woman Men Adore and Never Want to Leave..." ...You also get a personal phone consultation with Bob personally about your situation. THAT is amazing.

All our best to you.

Who's the "problem" in your relationship?

If you're like most people, your answer is probably pretty quick and definite...Your partner!

Question from a Reader:

"I am certain that my husband is the 'Problem' in our marriage because of the way he communicates negatively and messes things up and he is certain that I am the 'Problem' in the relationship.

"How do we find out 'who' is causing the bad communication, but I need to know who is causing it because I only get upset at the way my husband talks or handles our problems and not at the actual issue itself.

"How do we find out who is causing the problem even though I know we shouldn't put the blame on each other, but I'm certain our relationship would be better if my husband handled things differently."

Our comments:

What a wonderful question!

We don't care how "enlightened" and "together" you are--

At some point in your life and in some relationship (maybe more than one), you've had this very same thought.

You may or may not have voiced it--but you sure thought it.

We know because we've certainly been there-- even in our own relationship!

This thought we're talking about is...

"If only he (or she) would do this (or stop doing this), everything would be okay!"

Well, if you've ever had this thought, there's good news and there's bad news.

The good news is that because we all have different experiences and approach life differently, it's pretty "normal" for couples (even those deeply in love) to look at the other person as being the problem in their relationship.

What happens most of the time is...

If things don't seem "right" in your communication or relationship, you then start looking for all the possible reasons why.

When you start running down all the possible reasons, your mind (which loves to attach to stories) finds a story it can believe, attach to and hold on to and guess what?

It's just like looking for the robber who just robbed the bank--you, anyone or the police would naturally assume that the person who just fled the bank as the alarm was going off was the robber.

Just like when there's a problem in our relationships-- we first look at ourselves and say "I didn't do it". or "I'm not the problem" because what we said or did makes logical sense--to us.

When we figure out that we couldn't have had anything (or not much) to do with a communication breakdown, we naturally start looking at the people we're in relationship with and think...

If I'm NOT the problem, then it must be my partner, spouse or lover.

We rationalize--they're the one that's causing the problem.

Or so we think.

This is a scenario that plays out over and over in almost every relationship and it's what we call the "blame game."

Since it's so normal--it's very "fixable."

The bad news is that in order to "fix" the problem, one or both of you have to let go.

It's like you're both holding onto a rope, with your feet firmly planted, bodies tensed and pulling with all of your might in two different directions.

No chance of getting the connection and love you want when this is going on!

In fact, just the opposite happens.

You get further apart.

It's not uncommon for one person to get tired of pulling so hard and just give up--letting the rope go or giving in.

While they might have let go of the rope or given in, they have not let go of anger, resentment and the feeling of being right.

So even though one person "wins," no one really wins because the two of you never truly come together and re-connect.

And if you both won't let go of the rope, holding on for dear life, it's just as painful for each of you.

So what do you do when there's a stand-off and you don't know what to do?

The two of us remember a particular situation that used to come up between us again and again.

Like our Reader, Susie thought the way Otto communicated was the problem.

You guessed it...

Otto thought the way Susie communicated was the problem.

Here's the way it usually worked...

Susie: "Otto's tone of voice was condescending and makes me feel like I am stupid."

Otto: "Susie's controlling and she makes me feel like it always has to be her way."

It didn't matter who started it or what the particular problem was, it was a stand-off and both of us felt like we were "right."

So how did we get out of it?

First of all, it's never easy to stop doing what you are used to doing.

Old patterns are automatic and rule us whether we like to admit it or not.

So we're not saying it's easy to get out of your or our blame game.

What we are saying is that you have to find a way to communicate what's going on within you or what's important to you without blaming that other person.

And here's the thing...To get out of it, you have to want connection more.

It just takes one to let go of the rope--but let go of it without anger and bitterness.

So the first thing the two of us did, that we recommend you do, is to change your question.

Change your question from "who" to "what."

Instead of "who said this" or "who did this," shift your attention to "what" is coming up inside for both of you.

You might be saying, "I might be able to do this but my partner won't"--and you might be right or you might not be.

All it takes is for you to stop blaming what he or she is saying or doing and admit what thoughts you are having about YOU.

Separate them out from what the other person said or did.

In other words, own them because if you're really honest, they were there all the time.

In our situation, we saw that no one could MAKE us feel a certain way--and that was a huge realization.

Then we told each other the thoughts and feelings that were underneath our reactions.

When we started listening to each other, we quickly realized that how we appeared to the other person didn't match how we were feeling.

Susie didn't feel "controlling" even though she may have come off that way and Otto wasn't feeling superior, even though his voice sounded that way to Susie.

We began to understand each other a little better.

We began to understand what we each do automatically when we're triggered--and how that is perceived by the other person.

And this was NOT how we thought we were coming off.

We realized how we played off each other to create our particular stalemate--how we both "puffed" ourselves up when we felt like we were in danger of not getting our way.

Even though it was all an illusion!

Was this a deal-breaker in our relationship?

Maybe not a deal-breaker but it certainly could have destroyed our relationship if we had allowed it to stay that way.

So one great question to ask yourself is one we heard a very wise person ask...

"How are you setting it up for this person to behave in ways you don't like?"

Hint--look at your reaction when you get triggered from your partner's point of view even though you might not think you're doing anything.

If you start answering this question for yourself and making some new choices, you'll see your blame game start to dissolve.

And you'll see your love and connection deepen right before your eyes.

How To Deal With Disagreements in Relationships

It's a fact.

Disagreements happen in relationships....

There's nothing new about this.

The challenge is...

What do you do when you have a disagreement or difference of opinion with someone?

One thing you DON'T want to do is what we call "talk on eggshells".

Here's one of the BIG communication questions many people have asked us over the years...

What do you do to work through disagreements when they happen so you can work through the challenge AND keep or regain your connection-- even when you have a difference of opinion?

This is such a great question and...

Believe it or not--what you do in the split second that you feel a disconnection with another person, especially your loved ones, will determine how long you stay disconnected and distant--and if you ever feel truly close again.

Take a second right now and think about a time when you felt triggered or disconnected from a loved one.

What did you do?

Rewind the tape of the incident in your mind and slow it down so you can really see it.

We're guessing that unless you're really highly evolved and very self-aware, your initial reaction was one of three responses in some form or the other...

Fight, flight or freeze

And you might have different reactions in different situations with different people but there's probably one of these that you can pin-point that happens inside you more often.

Do you see which reaction you have most of the time?

We want to tell you which reactions the two of us have fallen into most of the time and how we work through any problems, challenges or misunderstandings that come up because of these reactions...

Consider using our example we're about to share to help you change any negative patterns in your relationship that happen when challenges come up for you.

In the past, when we have had misunderstandings and disagreements, Otto's habitual pattern has been to come toward Susie with a lot of intensity.

His physical body and mind races--his voice gets louder and his energy intensifies.

He becomes overpowering and pushing toward her because that's his unconscious way of getting what he wants--re-connection.

But of course it doesn't work that way!

On the other hand, Susie's knee-jerk, habitual response is to leave--to walk out of the room, to leave the situation.

As with most people, our responses were formed long before our current relationship.

When we looked at our previous relationships, we had similar reactions when things got tough with our previous partners.

It's just that in our relationship, we decided together that we couldn't have the relationship we wanted and still act out from our habitual responses.

We decided we had to learn to "stay."

We had to learn how to identify what we each do that takes us away from connection when we're upset and find a way to listen to and understand each other to find a solution to the situation.

As time has gone on--and with practice--Otto's gotten better at noticing when he's pushing and his intensity is "over the top."

Susie has gotten better at feeling the urge to run when things get tough. She's learned to calm her body and her mind so she can listen and speak from her heart.

To help our situation, Otto's agreed to calm down his intense energy when Susie makes a downward motion with her hand--as in turning down the volume on a stereo--in an open, loving way.

And then we do everything we can to stay open to each other and talk until we understand each other's motivation and point of view so we can feel the connection we love again.

Here are some ideas for you to try if you want to get out of your habitual ways and reconnect quicker and more easily when you feel at odds with one another...

1. Recognize what you do that takes you further from what you want.

It takes courage to do this and then change it--especially if your partner isn't buying into any of this.

But you know what?

If you hang on to what you always do, nothing will change.

2. Breathe when you notice you've gone into that familiar place.

At first, you may not be so good at catching yourself because the habit is so ingrained in you.

But if you keep at it, you'll begin to realize when you get the urge to leave, fight or when you freeze.

3. Bring yourself into the present situation and commit to staying present to what's in front of you.

Of course if you are in a dangerous situation--if the other person is a real threat to you, either emotionally or physically, don't stay but get help as soon as possible.

If possible, both of you commit to "staying" with the process of listening and understanding one another--when you're not in the situation.

If your partner doesn't agree, you can still commit to yourself to learn how to stay open to listening and speaking your truth.

This doesn't mean that you agree with the person. It may mean that you set some loving boundary for yourself.

But it does mean that you are more conscious and able to respond from a centered place than from your habitual responses.

4. If you or your partner need to calm down and you can't do it in that moment, agree to come back together at a later time to discuss this issue.

Sometimes it's just impossible to get anywhere when emotions are high.

Just be clear when you're going to come back together and don't be tempted to sweep the issue under the rug, hoping it will go away if you ignore it.

It probably won't but will only get bigger.

We invite you to learn how to stay in the moment so you can get new understandings of your partner and of yourself.

After all, that's where the growth and connections are.

Talk to you again soon...

Our best,

Relationship Tip: What to do when

Having the "right" words and knowing how to say them in an important relationship situation is critical to getting what you want in a relationship.

What do you do when you're in a relationship that's got some aspect to it that's "OK" but you find that you're still wanting more?

No matter what that one part is...

You're got to be able to identify what it is you want more of and to think that it's possible to get it.

We know what it's like...

Maybe you're like the person who wrote us today--who had worked through her jealousy but she's frustrated because she can't get her partner to share his feelings with her.

Maybe you and your partner have the same fight over and over and you can't seem to agree--but a lot of your relationship is good.

Maybe you love each other and you don't want to leave but sometimes you wonder just who this person is and why you are with him or her.

If you can relate, we know what you mean because we've been there.

We were there most of the time in both of our previous marriages...

We know what it feels like to love someone and your relationship to be "okay" but you want something more--but maybe don't know what it is or how to go about getting it.

Our question to you is this...

Are you feeding and expanding your relationship potential?

And another important question for you is...

Do you believe that more is possible for you in your relationship or marriage?

For most people, the sad truth is that they DON"T believe more is possible and that's why they settle for mediocrity.

Today, we watched a great online video by one of our favorite teachers Tony Robbins about what keeps you from succeeding in what you want.

He said that success usually happens when people hit rock bottom and they say to themselves that they are sick of this--and then they start changing themselves.

They start doing the "rituals"--1 thing a day or 1 thing a week--to follow-through to get to their goal.

These rituals become "musts" and not "maybes."

More importantly, they changed the way they thought of their potential for success in their minds.

Okay, so let's translate this to your relationship.

If you have an "okay" or "not-too-bad" marriage or relationship, you probably haven't hit rock bottom and you may or may not be at the point where you're saying to yourself, "I'm sick of this!"

We're suggesting that even though you may not be at that point (and great if you aren't because it can be pretty traumatic if you are)--we invite you to consider making a shift in what you see your potential in your relationship to be.

Take action from the place inside you that you can see the potential for what you want--and it you don't know what that is, go search for it.

When we were first together, we didn't have a clue what we wanted for our relationship. We just knew that we wanted something deeper, more passionate, and more connected than we had in our previous relationships.

We had to see the potential for something greater.

Separately, before we got together, we read Gary Zukav's "Seat of the Soul," among other books that started us creating our vision for what is possible in relationships.

From that point, we continually expand this vision--and that's part of the magic that keeps us loving and growing together over the years.

So in this area of our lives, we've been able to do as Tony explained...

We saw and felt the potential of a great relationship, we took action toward it, we got results which re-enforced beliefs that it is possible.

Now, what we do every day is to be constantly looking for evidence of how great the other is while at the same time be looking outside ourselves for new models and ideas of how to expand our love and connection beyond the level it is now (which is pretty high.)

So what if you're in a situation like the woman who contacted us...

What if your partner doesn't express his emotions to your satisfaction or you can't talk to one another or the thrill is gone--and you don't want to leave?

What then?

Here are some ideas...

1. First off, commit to an expanded vision of what's possible for you in relationship.

Where do you find that vision if all you've seen so far is relationships that are just okay or even really bad?

Start reading books that will stimulate the potential for more inside you and maybe even inside your partner.

Don't be depressed that it isn't happening right now for you.

Just get that picture for what you want and start feeling even a glimmer inside you that it is possible.

2. Take action toward your goal

Actually do what Tony Robbins suggests about creating "rituals" every week or every day.

Ask yourself-- "What continual actions can take me toward what I want."

You might decide to practice appreciating your partner 3 times every day in a genuine way.

You might decide to have a date night every week and stick to it.

3. Watch for results.

Be on the look out for results that you can point to--no matter how small--that show that you are moving toward your goal.

Many of us have the unfortunate habit of looking at the glass half empty and not half full. In other words, we see and focus on what's wrong rather than notice what's going right.

If you want more of what's going right, start acknowledging that something IS going right!

4. As you move along in this process, notice how your beliefs change for what's possible.

It's a cycle that can either propel you toward what you want or keep you mired in what you don't want.

The choice is really yours.

We invite you this week to expand what you think your potential is for your life and for your relationships.

We invite you to expand your ideas of having greater love in your life.

Talk to you again soon...

Our best,

Loss of Libido, Love, Commitment & What To Do When It's Gone and You Want To Get It Back

Question from a Reader: "I have a question which possibly reflects other relationships & hope you may have some suggestions.

"We are a couple married about 7 years, both in our mid 50s. My first wife passed away 10 years ago, my current wife had a 20 year marriage which she chose to end, then a 7-year relationship which she was left behind.

"We have no children living with us from either of our earlier marriages & we are very much in love.

"My problem is however the loss of her libido. We had a fully satisfying physical side to our courtship & early married years, but over the past 2 - 3 years her desire has dwindled to zero.

"I am not interested in going outside the marriage for satisfaction. We have talked this over repeatedly but despite her wishing to be my mate in the fullest sense, there has been no regular positive reaction to my approaches.

"I am not demanding. I believe I am fully understanding. If anything, I take the earliest signs of her discomfort & back off without further pushing my desire.

"I love this woman & she loves me. Is there anything you think can help?"

Our Comments: Thanks for your question--And you are so right!

You are one of many living with the same question--There's love--but how do you deal with your partner's lower libido?

And it's a very frustrating situation.

You don't want to leave or go outside the relationship.

You just want to have that special, intimate connection that you used to have with your beloved.

Since we don't have a special crystal ball that shows us exactly what's going on in your relationship, we can't say for sure but here are some possible reasons for lower libido that other people have expressed and some suggestions for what to do about it...

1. Physical issues. Anything from physical aches and pains of any kind to sometimes painful menopausal symptoms can kill desire.

As a body's chemistry changes, there may not be enough build up to the actual love-making act--which can be a contributing factor to lower desire.

What used to be instant, may now take some time and loving attention.

The fear of experiencing physical pain while making love can certainly keep you from fully participating in love-making that used to come so easily.

Of course, certain prescriptions drugs can have a physical effect on libido also.

2. Emotional issues. Whether you are a man or a woman--unfinished business and unresolved emotions and issues from this relationship or past relationships can come between the two of you and make love-making impossible.

They can come up at any time too. Even if things have gone along really well for many years, those old ghosts can come up unexpectantly and stay until they are dealt with and put to rest.

There can also be a feeling of lack of safety and trust in the relationship (or in life or in the other person)--and opening yourself to physical intimacy may not be possible because of the protective shield you put up.

A big emotional issue that can put an end to desire is the gradual end of connection and intimacy OUTSIDE the bedroom.

Many couples simply stop opening to each other in that way and keeping their love alive.

They rely on coming together every now and then for physical love-making--when it fits into both busy schedules.

You can't keep desire alive that way!

3. Mental issues. Negative self-talk can certainly kill libido--whether it be "My body is changing and I'm not as attractive as I once was" or "I'm too old (too fat, too plain) to be desirable."

You might even have the reoccurring thought that you don't want to disappoint your partner--that you're not _________enough (fill in the blank)--so why even try.

Of course these aren't the ONLY reasons that a person's libido can change over time.

Our culture says that older people have less desire as the years go by and that desire lessens (and dies) between two people as the years go by.

We get brainwashed.

We don't believe it!

There are too many exceptions to that "rule" to make it absolutely "true" for everyone's experience.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Here's one final possibility why libido is lower...

4. The sexual polarity is gone. This idea of "sexual polarity" is way bigger and more complex than we can completely go into here but here's a quick explanation of this idea...

Otto once attended a workshop by David Deida where he said that "Sexual attraction is based on sexual polarity, the force of passion that arcs between masculine and feminine poles."

What this essentially means is...

Just like the battery in your car or the electrical outlet in your home has both positive and negative poles that create an electrical flow-- In the same way, masculine and feminine poles between people create the flow sexual polarity.

If the energy of both people has "evened out" and is the same-- then that "arc" that causes passion and the spark will no longer be there.

Libido is one of the first things to go when this happens.

So let's back up and we'll give some tips on regaining the spark in your relationship...

1. Ask with an open heart--"What would you like in this situation?" This is one of those phrases that can gently open the other person to share his or her inner thoughts and desires.

If you are the one whose partner seems to have less desire than you want, it's time to create a safe space for listening to your partner--allowing him or her to speak what's truly in their heart--without judging or retreating.

Don't get defensive--Just listen with love and really take in what's being said. It will give you a clue what the next step needs to be for the two of you.

Then ask if your partner is willing to hear your ideas and if so, share what vision you have for the two of you and for your relationship.

If you are the person whose desire seems lower than your partner's, be willing to search inside yourself for what you are feeling. Don't hide it from yourself or your partner.

Be willing to share what is real for you and also be willing to listen.

We know this might take courage.

It doesn't mean you have to do anything to satisfy your partner's needs, but if you want to stay in a relationship that grows, you will need to truly listen to what's in your partner's heart and also what's in your own.

2. Create a mutual commitment. From what you both learned from each other, create a commitment around your intimate relationship.

It might be that you read some books that will help you both "get on the same page" and put some life back into your relationship.

There are many tasteful books out there and it can even be fun to go to a bookstore to browse "that" section.

But both of you have to WANT to re-ignite it.

That's why making a loving commitment to each other is so important.

And that commitment can be as simple as spending 15 minutes each day just sitting holding hands or looking into each other's eyes.

3. Start slow but don't retreat. When there's a difference in desire, it's really important to take some steps back and start slow with each other.

It's equally important to not retreat at the first sign of discomfort or unease.

You might think you're being "kind" but "retreating" can feel very lonely to both of you.

If you think you are "pushing" your desire, how about a reframe?

How about reframing it to finding a way that you both can feel comfortable connecting intimately?

If you are both committed to regaining the passion that once was (could even look very different), it's helpful if part of your commitment to each is to not run away or retreat.

We're not saying to ignore boundaries or the other person's wishes.

We're saying to start slow--by making eye contact, connecting and touching only (non-private parts to begin with)--and when "discomfort" comes up, to stay.

We use this idea in our own relationship.

What "staying" means to us is this...As soon as a person feels discomfort or whatever the feeling is that comes up to kill intimacy and desire--go inside (without beating yourself up) and simply feel what's there.

It may be that words need to be said or not.

The other person can ask the question we gave you earlier--"What would you like right now?"--and then wait for a answer.

It might be to simply be held.

In those times, make the commitment to come toward each other rather than away from.

You do this with love, understanding and openness.

Our final words of advice are...If you love each other, don't give up. Back up, start over and open yourselves to what's there right now and what can be there.

Our best,

Is This a Relationship Red Flag?

"Back in late December of last year I met this wonderful man, we began dating, all went well and he proposed marriage to me for next year.

"However, there is a co-worker that recently sent him a txt message to his personal phone saying "nite-nite".

"At the beginning of our relationship one of his friends told me she was happy I was in his life because the person he was dating previous to me was not being too nice to him. 

"His friend also told me his previous girlfriend was this woman from work that sent him the txt. 

"How should I deal with this? I trust him but something is nudging me behind my head. I told him he should tell her not to txt him. And to keep it professional.

"Also, when you trust, does that mean I can't check his phone? Does trust mean surrender? Because if it is then this will be a challenge." 

Our Comments:

Thanks so much for your question!

It does seem that ex's and old "friends" pop up when you least expect them--and can certainly throw a monkey wrench into your relationship.

Without knowing the truth of the situation, on the surface, we certainly agree that a phone message of "nite-nite" seems very intimate and certainly not one that an ex (and co-worker) should be sending someone who is in a committed relationship. 

And this IS a red flag to be paid attention to. 

And it is completely appropriate for you to tell him your boundaries and what you want. 

But there may be other red flags that you may not be aware of...

Here's something to make sure you do...

1. Get the full story before you speak Of course we don't know the entire story and we don't know how much conversation there was on this topic with your fiance--What we do know is that issuing a "command" that someone has to do something without listening to the other person usually doesn't work--Even though it's usually the knee-jerk reaction that a lot of us would have in a similar situation. 

It usually pushes the other person away (and we know from past experience.)

In this situation--if you haven't found out how he feels about her, have that talk.

Just listen to him talk about her and then tell him how this message sounds to you and how you feel about this kind of communication with her.

In other words, tell him how it makes you feel--and what you want.

Something like--"When you get messages like this from your ex, I feel that you want to be with her more than me--and I feel like you aren't committed to being with just me."

Then see if he's willing to make an agreement with you about her.

If he's not, then you really need to pay attention to the red flag and reconsider your relationship! 

Remember, commands are no way to begin a marriage or more deeply committed relationship that's filled with love, connection, communication and trust. 

2. Trust does not mean surrender and it also doesn't mean spying. Even though you say that you trust your fiance, your actions show otherwise and at some level you really don't trust him if you're checking his cell phone for calls or text messages from other women. 

So it's better for your relationship if you admit even to yourself that the two of you need to focus on building trust with each other.

This lack of trust is a red flag for the health of your relationship--

Something to pay attention to. 

Next, we don't know if these "nudges" you're getting are from past experiences with other partners you've had or if you're getting clear signals that your fiance isn't as he seems to be. 

Part of learning to trust each other is separating the past from the present.

So start there to discover where your mistrust is coming from.

If it's coming from the past, learn how to let go of the past .

If your "nudges" are clearly about what your current partner is doing or not doing, get those nudges on paper and look at them. 

The more specific the better--and decide what needs to be addressed and what doesn't. 

Does trust mean surrender? 

The dictionary says that surrender means "yield to the power of another."

That's certainly NOT what we mean when we talk about trust.

In a close, connected relationship, trust is a two-way street.

It's creating a bond, one moment at a time, where you each believe that both of you will honor your agreements and act in integrity to keep those agreements, keeping the health of the relationship a priority.

And trust is NOT checking your partner's cell phone to catch him doing something you fear he might be doing. 

If you trust each other, you don't have the urge or the need to check out what might be hidden in personal email or cell phones. 

Does that mean you NEVER check your partner's cell phone?

If you have reason to suspect your partner is cheating on you and you want proof, it might be a way to get the proof you need to validate your concerns. 

But we also know that spying can be very addictive.

It can take the place of communicating honestly, creating agreements and following through on learning how to trust one another.

3. Decide what you want more of and communicate that. In these kinds of situations, it's tempting to simply talk about what you don't want--for this woman to not text him any more of these types of messages.

But there's probably something more. 

If you look more deeply at your relationship, there's probably something you'd like more of--maybe it's more time together, more fun together, deeper friendship, more love-making, deeper intimacy.

When you talk about this with your partner, don't put him on the defensive but rather be specific about ways that the two of you could create more of what you want. 

It's also important to get a buy-in from him--to find out if he wants the same things. 

While saying what you DON'T want is important, it's just as important or even more so to say what you do want. 

So pay attention to red flags--but look at all of them and take some proactive steps to create the kind of relationship that you really want. 

Our best, 

Funny and scary.

Last night, we happened to watch the 2007 comedy "Knocked Up" and because we've been looking at the "magic words" that keep couples together and actually create more love and happiness--we were really aware of the words the characters said to one another.

The movie was both funny and scary...

It was funny because it was so over-the-top in its depiction of all the characters in this comedy about two people having a baby who probably shouldn't be having one.

The movie was scary because as relationships coaches we noticed that ...

Even though both of the main couples ended up "living happily ever after," we couldn't figure out WHY because of the way they talked to one another during the story.

They wouldn't have a chance in real life because of all of the name-calling and character assassination that was used--probably for the comedic element.

It was funny but it was also sad.

They were just plain cruel to one another!

Unless they stopped their cruelty and started using more loving words and try to understand each other (which we did see somewhat in the couple who got "knocked up")--their relationship wouldn't stand a chance over the long-haul.

We know that this is entertainment but...

We also know that too many people reenact these scenarios all the time--and their relationships end because of it.

In case you can relate (and we all can), here are 5 more Communication No-No's for you to add to this list of the ones we included before.

Here are 5 things you don't want to say to your partner, spouse or lover if you want to have a close connected relationship...

1. "Do it yourself!" When your partner asks you to do something, and you have unspoken grievances that you've been holding against him or her--you may find yourself saying with anger--"Do it yourself!"

It may have nothing to do with that request but it may have everything to do with what you have left unsaid from the past.

If you find yourself saying this phrase and when you stop yourself and go inside you find that there's unfinished business from the past, take a step back and tell your partner what's really going on and how you feel.

Separate out the current request or question--like "Did you iron my shirts?" or "It's your turn to pick up the kids tonight after work"--from your feelings of being taken for granted or whatever they may be.

Address those feelings but first address what's been asked of you--that's separate--with either a yes or a no.

It may not feel like a separate request but the more you address each circumstance instead of lumping all "transgressions" together, the clearer your communication will be.

2. "You're not as good as.." When you are angry, frustrated or exasperated with your partner, it's tempting to compare him or her to your ex or maybe another man or woman.

If your partner isn't particularly good at cooking as your mother or as good of a handy-man as your brother or your ex, your partner probably already knows this.

You don't have to say it and rub it in.

So often, we say this kind of phrase to feel superior because of what we perceive we're not getting in the relationship.

We play a one-upmanship game in our relationship.

Putting your partner down will only create more of what you don't want.

Instead, create more of what you DO want.

3. "You can't be trusted to..." If you've asked your partner to do something and he or she doesn't do it the way you wanted, this phrase may slip out of your mouth in exasperation.

This phrase destroys trust and is a self- fulfilling prophecy.

Instead, address the specific action that needs attention and again, don't make it a slam on his or her character.

4. "Why didn't you just..." When you use this phrase, you are not listening to the other person to find out what happened so that you can understand from his or her point of view.

Again, you are making yourself and your way superior.

You are shutting off all further communication because there is no response when the obvious implication is that the other person didn't "do it right" or "screwed up."

5 "You're so ______" Fill in the blank with whatever derogatory adjective that comes to mind about your partner when you are angry or upset with him or her.

In your anger, labeling your partner in this way completely closes down any way that the two of you can find a solution to the situation.

When you use this phrase, the usual response is either withdrawal or lashing out at you, assigning you equally damaging labels.

It's a no-win situation when you get into this cycle that can last for days or never end.

What we know is that words can either heal or hurt.

The words we use, either consciously or unconsciously, can have lasting effects that most of us have no idea about the impact they've made on others' lives.

Our advice--choose your words wisely and with love.

Don't spread any more hate--even if you are in pain--because all it does is just increase pain.

Choose love instead.

Our best,

5 Tips For Getting Past Anger & Misunderstandings

Okay, we admit it...

The two of us really mis-communicated over the weekend about something that left us feeling angry and distant from each other.

The situation was filled with misunderstanding, assumptions, unspoken meanings--and habitual responses that were more about the past than about that situation.

Since we were putting the finishing touches on our "Magic Relationship Words" book, we had an immediate reminder of what to do and what to say to reconnect with each other--and to find a way to understand one another.

We're telling you about what happened to us for two reasons...

First, to show you that it's "normal" to not communicate at your best from time to time--(we were both very tired that evening) and...

There are easy ways to either avoid those disconnections that truly strain your relationship or reconnect more quickly when they happen.

What happens when YOU get triggered by your partner?

  • Do you get defensive and critical of him or her?
  • Do you get silent and withdraw?
  • Do you get sarcastic and angry?

We all have certain automatic responses that happen when we get triggered.

Relationship researcher and psychologist John Gottman says that an early warning sign of a marriage in trouble is one where there's constant, harsh criticism.

According to Gottman, in a healthy relationship, both people feel like they can voice complaints but the danger comes when those complaints are voiced in anger and become consistent attacks on the partner's character.

He goes on to say that criticism laden with contempt (usually expressed in the tone of voice and angry expression) is particularly destructive to the relationship.

In order to create better communication and a happier relationship, the challenge is to become aware of your habitual response when you're triggered--and then choose a better one.

When you make the choice to step out of your usual way of being, you can also choose words that help both of you open to new possibilities instead of staying stuck in the same old path.

Here are some suggestions about how to move out of your old communication patterns and make other, healthier choices for your relationship...

1. Get in touch with what you are feeling. In our situation, because Susie was tired, she just blurted out something that felt like a command to Otto (which is something he doesn't appreciate from anyone.)

Susie wasn't able in that instant to tune into what she was feeling but later, she was.

Later, when we were discussing what happened, we each tuned into our feelings so that we could express what was really going on inside.

Whether you tune into your feelings as soon as you get that twinge in your gut or tightening in your chest (and that's something to work toward) or you tune in later--Make sure that you don't skip this step.

2. Find the words that will open you and your partner to pave the way to understanding and connection with one another. You might say something like this..."I'd like to talk about what happened and I'd like to share what I felt at the time. Would you listen to me and then I'll listen to how you felt?"

3. Take responsibility for how you may have contributed to the situation. What the two of us most wanted was to be understood--and you probably want to be also when mis-understandings happen.

When you take responsibility, you can see how the other person may have reacted the way he or she did--especially if you understand each other's habitual responses.

For example...

"I can see how you could have interpreted my response as a command which is really not how I intended it to be."

4. Be willing to learn some ways to let go of your habitual responses that no longer bring you want you want.

5. Always be willing to go back to your intentions for your relationship and your commitments both with each other and in your relationship.

One of our commitments to each other is to always be willing to NOT run away and to be willing to work through any challenges we may have--even if it seems difficult to do in the moment.

Our wish for you is that you find ways to create more ease and happiness in your relationships--and part of that is creating new ways of communicating-- even when it's tough.

We invite you to practice some of our suggestions this week--and see what happens!

Our best,

Have you ever compared yourself to another person?

If you're human--and honest--you probably answered "yes."

The truth is that we all have compared ourselves to others--in lesser or greater degrees at sometime in our lives.

Comparing ourselves to another seems to be part of the human experience--usually not the most desirable part.

Our comparisons are usually to help us feel superior to someone else or inferior--although much is done on an unconscious level.

When there are relationship challenges like jealousy and trust issues, comparisons to others usually end up making us feel less than and not enough--and even though we know they don't help.

We can't seem to stop doing them.

Today, we received a message from a woman who thanked us for our advice and told us that her relationship is "stronger and they are more open and honest with each other" because of it.

The problem is--Even though her partner is no longer in contact with his ex's, she finds that she compares herself to them anyway.

She makes herself miserable and she can't stop, even though she knows that it's not healthy for her relationship.

This "comparison disease" that she suffers from is certainly not unique to her or to her situation.

We're guessing that you can identify to a certain extent (we all can) to what she's feeling.

So, how can you stop?

We love Dr. Wayne Dyer's new book "Excuses Begone!" where he talks about how to change lifelong, self-defeating thinking habits.

We think that contracting the "comparison disease" may fall into the category of an excuse and here's why...

In saying this, we're certainly NOT belittling this woman's problem or making her wrong.

We've certainly had some self-defeating thinking habits and continue to do it from time to time--that would fall under the category of "excuses."

Here's our take on it...

When you are comparing yourself to others and always come up short, you are focusing outside yourself and what you are NOT instead of what you can be.

We use phrases like these to keep us from what we want:

  • "I'm not as pretty (or good-looking) as..."
  • "I'm not as smart as..."
  • "I'm not as young as..."
  • "I'm not as thin as..."
  • "I don't make as much money as..."

This type of thinking is an "excuse." It's a way to stay small and not take risks.

Comparisons like these are also great ways to end up being like or having the negative experience that you fear or doubt.

Now of course, much of this mental gymnastics that goes on when we're comparing ourselves to others is unconscious and from habit.

For example:

When the two of us first got together, our age difference caught us up in the "comparison disease."

Since Susie is 16 years older than Otto, she compared herself to women his age and of course, came up short in her mind.

Otto started thinking about the future, comparing the then present to 20 years down the road--what our relationship (and bodies) might look like when Susie is in her 70's and he, in his 50's.

We realized that we had to both stop making these comparisons if we wanted to create the kind of relationship that we wanted to create.

If we hadn't stopped, our relationship wouldn't have had a chance to grow and go on to be as incredible as it is now.


How do you stop making these comparisons that so often work to your disadvantage in creating the relationships and life you want?

Here are a few ideas...

1. Become aware that you are doing it. Awareness is the first step in making any change. Believe it or not, your comparisons start losing their power over you when you start noticing them when they come up.

Notice them from an objective place.

You can even say something like this to yourself--"Isn't that interesting? I'm comparing myself to my partner's ex and he's not even in contact with her."

It's like you're talking to yourself but instead of agreeing with your fears, you're actually just stating a fact.

2. Choose love not fear. Even though you may not realize it and it may even sound silly, it might be out of your comfort level to commit to creating a close, connected loving relationship--one without drama and pain.

In the beginning of our relationship, it was far easier for Susie to believe that Otto would leave her for someone younger than to go for what she wanted--and create it with him.

In other words, fear got in her way.

But in our case, we chose to risk going for it--going for love--and you can too.

3. Stay in the present moment--not the past or the future. We've said this many times--the present moment is all we have.

If you really stopped to think about it, most of your pain (and ours as well) is the result of living in the past or the future.

When your thoughts lapse into worrying about what happened in the past--maybe about your partner's ex's--or fear of what might happen in the future, bring yourself gently back to the present moment.

You can remind yourself by grounding yourself and saying something like this...

"It's 3pm, Friday afternoon, I'm sitting in my office and I have work in front of me."


"I'm sitting in front of my partner and we're having a good time right now."

Getting over the "Comparison Disease" involves focusing on you and your thoughts.

When you find that you are tempted to compare yourself unfavorably to others, stop yourself--focus instead on what's in front of you in this present moment and on love, not fear.

To change any habitual thought, it takes one moment at a time.

Be kind to yourself.

Our best,

Communication No-No's for Couples Who Want to Connect...

Have you ever said something that after you said it, you wished you could have "taken it back"?

Or maybe you (or your partner) said one thing that was the "last straw" and a relationship ended or was severely damaged because of it?

The good news is that we all have done this--sometimes intentional but many times from old family "tapes" that we've accessed unconsciously.

The "better" news is that it doesn't have to ever happen again.

As we've been working on our new book and audio project called "Magic Relationship Words," that will be released soon, we've been not only focused on the "magic" words to use to create open, loving communication but we've also looked at what NOT to say.

Here are 5 communication no-no's for couples who want to connect ..(No, they aren't "new" but we all could stand to be reminded not to use them!)

1. "It's all your fault!" Placing all the blame for something that happened onto someone else, even if you are irritated or upset with them, is a recipe for disaster.

The other person gets defensive and you are no where in finding a resolution or way out of the problem.

Take your share of responsibility for what happens in your life--no more and no less.

Your contentious situation will soften if you do.

2. "You should..." or "You have to..." No one likes being told what they "should" or "have to" do.

Inflicting guilt is one way to get someone to do something that you want them to--but it always backfires when you least expect it to.

The other person may (or may not) do what you want but there could be passive aggressive action tied to it or even some sabotage mixed in.

Make a request and ask the other person's thoughts and opinions.

You'll get a lot further if you do.

3. "You always" or "You never" Anytime you find that you are making a global statement like these with words like "always" and "never," you can bet that if you look hard enough, you'll be able to find instances when the statement WASN'T true.

It's tempting to use "always" and "never" to emphasize how "bad" the other person is and how exasperated you are.

But when you over-embellish by using these phrases, you set yourself up to just get more of what you don't want.

The other person either feels so badly that he or she shrinks further into a defeatist attitude (which is probably what you don't want) or he or she feels like there's no pleasing you, and stops trying.

Probably not what you want either.

So instead of global statements, be specific about the concern and what you want.

4. "How could you after all I've ever done for you?" This is a great guilt-inducing phrase and one that parents love to use with their kids--but also with spouses and intimate partners.

It can be spoken or many times it's unspoken--which can be just as damaging because the other person has no clue why you are cold, distant or angry.

When this is spoken (or unspoken), there is an unspoken barter system that's been violated and the other person may not even be aware that such a system was in place.

In other words, something like this might be the assumption that's made...

"I'll make love with you (or take care of our children, etc) if you be kind to my parents (or stay sober or faithful.)"

Again, leave the drama out of it and specifically address the problem and what you want.

5. "You're such a _____." Fill in the blank with whatever you might be tempted to call your partner at times-- a slob, a pack-rat, a mess, a liar, a prude, a s*e*x* maniac, a lazy bum, air-head, loser.

Name-calling might make you feel better in the moment but doesn't help your situation.

We know we sound like a broken record but skip the drama--and what comes out of your mouth from habit (maybe it's what you heard people in your family call each other.)

Just address and deal with the current situation without making it worse, saying what's true for you and what you'd like.

Name-calling makes openness between two people pretty impossible so don't unconsciously shoot yourself in the foot before you even get started in trying to find a resolution to an issue.

We invite you this week to listen to yourself and to others to see if you hear any of these phrases.

If you do, stop the action and take a different course toward love and connection.

Talk to you again soon...

Our best,

The physical attraction is gone-- how to get it back

What if the physical attraction in your relationship or marriage used to be there--but now it's gone...

You love him (or her) but you can't help but wonder just where did the physical attraction go?

It used to be there but now you find you're just pretending or worse yet, you're numb and maybe don't care.

But the fact is--you do care and you want that attraction back!

What do you do to get that romance, intimacy and physical attraction back?

Question from a Reader:

"I used to be incredibly attracted to my husband! Of course we all age and he is doing so much faster than I am although we are only 18 months apart. Currently, he is 47 and I am 46. I love him, he is such a great guy, but I feel so discouraged with my lack of physical attraction to him. How can I get that back?"


Losing attraction for your partner can certainly be the so-called elephant in the living room...

You're afraid to talk about it because you don't want to hurt his feelings but you know that he knows and senses how you feel--and he's hurt anyway.

You love him but where did the attraction go that used to be so strong?

What changed?

He could have changed...

  • more stressed out from work
  • overweight and out of shape
  • seemingly less interested in s*e*x and in you
  • seems old and acts old

While all (or some of that) could be true, the real reason you aren't physically attracted to him anymore is that something shifted in your mind.

It might surprise you to know but all the experts tell us that love, passion and desire is concocted in your mind.

It's your thoughts and your stories about your husband that determine how attracted you are to him, especially if you were extremely attracted to him at one time.

Just think about it....

Have you ever thought one way about something and then because your thoughts changed about it--thought another way about it?

It might be something simple like this example about baseball from our relationship...

It used to really get on Susie's nerves when Otto watched his favorite baseball team--the Cincinnati Reds--on television.

This is because when he did this, it took her back to when she was a young girl and her father "monopolized" the family's only tv set to watch the Cincinnati Reds baseball games.

It wasn't until her desire to be with Otto trumped her annoyance that she began to watch the games with him.

Not only did she start watching the games with Otto but over time, she went from being repulsed by the idea to actually growing to enjoy them as she learned more about the game.

To her surprise, now, she's actually interested in finding out how Otto's favorite team (and now hers) is doing--which she absolutely thought would never happen.

So what did happen?

She's telling herself a different story about the Reds now.

And that's how you start to get your attraction back--you tell yourself a different story than the one you're telling yourself now.

Do you lie to yourself?

No--but you do start looking for ways that he is attractive to you--even if they are small ways.

It might be his smile or it might be the curve of his face--or another part of his body.

It might be the way he reacts to your children or to your animals.

Find some ways to look at him a little differently.

Here's something else that might be going on...

Polarity between the two of you could be gone.

Polarity is the delicious clash of masculine and feminine energies that when they come together, they almost combust.

After years of being together, friendship may be the primary bond that holds the two of you together--above everything else.

While we love it that you love him and that he's a great guy, there's no juice in that.

You want to get the juice flowing again, don't you?

It may sound obvious, but we suggest you try some things to spice up your romance.

Something we do almost all of the time to keep romance in our relationship strong and growing is... We "flirt" with each other a lot.

We know we're breaking the "rules" for two people who work together but we don't care.

Flirting is one of those things that keeps the flame burning hot between the two of us.

Everybody has their own way of flirting and if you're like most couples that had a certain spark and attraction in the beginning, we're sure that flirting is something you did.

Maybe you flirted with each other a little bit or maybe a lot but chances are you did it.

The thing is you just have to remember how you did it when your attraction was strong and start there...

We're sure that if you put your mind to it, you'll remember.

And when you remember, start doing it again, even though you may feel a little awkward at first.

Figure out what your level of commitment is to finding that spark between the two of you again.

And then talk to your husband about how you'd like to amp up the romance between you--without making him wrong.

What man would take offense if his partner came to him in an open way--ready and willing to explore ways to get closer?

Not many, we're guessing.

Of course, you have to make the choice if this is what you want--and then start doing the things that will rekindle your passion for each other.

We realize that when it comes to attraction, sometimes it's either there or it isn't there--and no amount of energy can change that.

But if it was there before, you have a far better chance of uncovering it again if you learn how to open yourself to the possibility that it just might still be there.

Like a lot of things in relationships--the tendencies are to look outside yourself for the answers--but rekindling the attraction oddly enough starts with you.

Talk to you again soon.

Our best,

Ever Said The WRONG Thing?

Have you ever said something to someone (like your partner) that you immediately knew was just the WRONG thing to say?

Have you ever used words in a certain tone of voice, that as soon as you said them, you just KNEW that they weren't what you meant to say or should have said?

You probably also knew that you may have done some real damage that you already regretted.


Have you ever felt hurt by what someone else has said and you didn't know how to tell them without causing even more distance and anger?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you're certainly not alone.

We've all said things in ways we've regretted.

What came out of our mouths just seemed to slip out by its own accord.

It usually wasn't premeditated.

It just came out.

And, we've all been hurt by what someone else has said or how they've said it--and we've either regretted our response or we felt powerless to do anything about what was said.

Again, if you've felt this way, you aren't alone.

All you have to do to understand why so many relationships and marriages end in separation or divorce is to listen to the words people use when they communicate with each other.

Their communication is filled with put-downs, assumptions, accusations, and defensiveness--which escalate as each person adds to it.

There's usually no clear way out of it. 

But it doesn't have to be this way. 

We've done all these things we just mentioned too at some point in our relationship and life and let us tell you, there are some definite strategies for saying the "right thing" when communicating with someone close to you.

We'll give you some ideas that will certainly help in a moment but one thing that's for sure is... 

If you've ever wanted a more heart-felt way of relating, especially when things are tough... 

You see, we feel so passionately about bringing this information to you because these words, phrases, and questions are true communication difference-makers that can determine the quality, happiness and connection of not just your intimate relationship or marriage but all your other relationships as well.

They can be the difference between whether someone opens and listens to you or closes up, gets mad or just ignores you.

But, we're not going to keep you in suspense. 

Here are a few ideas right now that can help you...

1. Create a "Magic Words" mindset 

If you've had problems with communication with a certain person, we're going to take a wild stab at your mindset about that person?

  • Exasperation
  • "I'm right--You're wrong" attitude
  • Cautious, guarded and closed
  • Want some revenge

While you may feel you are completely justified in your mind to keep these attitudes going--and you may feel a sense of satisfaction in a weird sort of way keeping them, nothing will change if you hold your focus in that direction.

If you really want to change your communication so that there's more ease, love and connection, you'll want to adopt a "Magic Words" mindset.

Here's what a "Magic words" mindset is? 

  • Open to wanting what's best for you as well as what's best for the other person 
  • Open to hearing and understanding a different point of view (that doesn't mean you have to agree with it or adopt it)
  • Open to the possibility that you can find a way to understand each other
  • Remembering that you love this person
  • Stopping the untrue stories that swirl around in your head

Get yourself in this mindset by breathing, moving your attention inside you to your heart area instead of listening to your chattering mind.

Let go of trying to control the other person--because ultimately, you really can't.

"Magic words" are not about control. They are about opening to each other so that you can understand one another.

2. Notice your tone of voice. 

So often, the words you use do not necessarily cause the separation but it's the way you say them. 

It's your tone of voice which can be mocking, sarcastic or sharp that can push the other person away just as if the words themselves were the culprits.

Even if you don't think you were mocking, sarcastic or sharp, the other person may get that idea.

Because your tone of voice usually doesn't lie, your true feelings can seep through without you even being aware of it.

A simple example of this might be... 

If you use the words "I'm sorry" but what you really want to say is something like this... 

"None of this would have happened if you had done what I told you to do."

The other person will be able to pick up from your tone of voice that you truly aren't sorry--and that you have other words to say.

So before you communicate about a touchy issue, get in touch with your true feelings and say them in a heart-felt way--without sarcasm.

Sarcasm just masks what a person feels he or she can't say to another.

So drop the sarcasm and say how you're feeling in a way that the other person can hear.

In this case, you could say something like this...(only if you can get to a place inside you where you mean it) 

"I'm sorry that this ended up this way for the two of us. Do you have any ideas how we can repair the damage and move on?"

3. Notice what's happening in your body

Your tight jaw will give away your true feelings every time. It's one of the many places in your body that is a signal for you to notice an attitude, belief or intention that you might need to look at.

If you start to speak and you feel tightness in any part of your body, take a moment and remember to breathe and relax that part of your body before you finish. 

See if you can recognize what attitude, belief or intention wants your attention.

It's been said that more than 96% of communication is done non-verbally. If you just start to notice your interactions with others, you'll know that's true.

When you pay attention to what's happening in your body before you speak and take some measures to figure out why you closed, you'll start to see a big difference in how you relate to others as you start to open to them.

One way to learn how to communicate better involves looking at your attitudes, your beliefs, and your intentions by way of your body language-- as well as the words you use. 

Become aware and conscious of your thoughts and your words and watch how your relationships get better!

Talk to you again soon... 

Our best,

Is It Brains, Beauty (or Something Else...?

Here's what we want you to do...

Imagine just for a moment that you are the contestant in a new TV game show about relationships and we'll be the hosts...

Since you've decided to play along, here's our question for you...

What do you think is the single most important feature desired in a s*e*x*u*a*l or Intimate partner by BOTH men and women?

Is it...

  • Beauty?
  • Intelligence?
  • Status?

Or Something else?

Beauty is a good answer because after all, we ALL want an attractive or good-looking partner, don't we?

Intelligence is a good answer because who doesn't want a partner who is smart, can figure things out and have the intelligence to work with you to create the best life possible for the two of you (and your family, if you have kids.)

Some people might also think status is the most important feature in attracting a relationship partner or in the one you have.

After all, isn't the success you have in life and the future you create for yourself and your family affected greatly by status?

Of course it is...

But when it comes to the #1 single most important feature in a relationship, there is one thing that trumps, beauty, brains, social status and everything else in the desirability area of relationships and attraction.

So, what is it that trumps all the things we just mentioned?

The answer may surprise you...

It certainly surprised us when we first read about this study about what people (and couples) want in relationships...

And it just might have a huge impact on your relationship or your future relationship!

The answer is...(Drum Roll Please) ...


That's right.

In researcher David Buss's study of global s*e*x*u*a*l preferences he found that "kindness" was the single most important feature desired by both men and women in every one of the 37 cultures he studied.

Kindness ranked above intelligence, above beauty, and above status.

When we think about kindness, we don't mean just being nice--or what Susie's long-time friend's mother always used to tell her daughter--"Be pleasant, Melissa."

There are pitfalls in "being nice" and "being pleasant" when there are strong emotions that are being pushed down and not expressed.

You can wear a veneer of "niceness" and "pleasantness" that usually doesn't fool anyone--and usually catches up with you.

If you're pushing down feelings of anger to not "rock the boat" and keep your relationship on an even keel, it's inevitable that they come out in other ways...

Maybe impatience with your kids or your co-workers or maybe distance and separation from your partner.

So when we talk about kindness, it's not that.

If both men and women from all around the world rank kindness as the most desired attribute in an intimate partner, what does it mean?

While we can't speak for those people in the study, we can speak from the experience of our own partnership and the experiences of the people we encounter in our Breakthrough Coaching practice.

Here are a few examples of what we mean by "kindness"--to yourself and to others...

1. Learning how to speak your truth in a way that your partner can hear--without blame but rather from a place inside you that is the core of who you are.

If you learn this skill, you bypass the incessant stories that are make up and assumptions that are created that lead to misunderstandings and distance.

When you withhold your truth, you are really withdrawing and shutting down who you really are from your partner.

When you express your truth from a place inside you that is real, it doesn't have to be done in anger--as it usually is if you think you can't get your way otherwise.

When you learn how to speak from the certainty of that core place inside you, it can be from kindness even though it might be a subject that used to cause contention.

2. Looking at your patterns to see where you might be kinder to your partner.

When you are with your partner for many years, the tendency is to take him or her for granted.

And the first thing that goes when that happens is simple kindness.

Ask yourself how you greet your partner when he or she comes home in the evening--or you come home.

Do you not even make eye contact but immediately launch into what has to be done that evening--dinner, cart the kids to practices, grocery shop, problems at work?

If you have fallen into this trap, climb out now and start looking up from what you are doing when your partner enters the room or comes in the door--or you come in the door.

Feel inside yourself for the feeling of gladness to see him or her--no matter what happened in your day--and express it in your way.

This is kindness.

When the two of us were together for awhile, Susie started falling into the habit of treating Otto like she had treated her ex-husband.

As she talked to him, she would continue whatever she was doing--not giving him her full attention.

When he pointed out what she was doing, we made some agreements that we've kept since that time.

We greet each other--verbally and physically--when one of us returns home-- and when we talk to one another, we give the conversation our full attention.

Sometimes we're better at it than others but that piece of kindness and respect does a lot to keep our love and connection alive and growing.

3. Remembering why you love your partner, even when it's tough.

So often we hear from people who live in relationships that are anything but kind.

These people describe unjust treatment but also say they love each other.

This isn't love.

Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is not put up with mistreatment.

Sometimes love is remembering why the two of you love each other and then acting from that place.

Kindness to us is a starting place and an important ingredient in building and rebuilding trust and connection.

It doesn't mean giving over your power.

In fact, it means just the opposite.

Our wish for you is that you experience and give kindness in a new way to strengthen your trust and love for each other.

Talk to you again soon...

Our best,

The 5 Relationship Roadblocks

The 5 relationship roadblocks and how any one

these 5 "blocks" could be keeping you from having the love and relationship you want.

Question... Did you know that any relationship challenge you'll ever have will come down to a problem with one of these five things?

It's true.

As we've been working with people from all over the world to help them create the lives and relationships they really want--

One thing's clear...If you don't have the love you want and the kind of relationship you desire...

There's a block in one or more of these areas:

  • Your Thoughts
  • Your Beliefs
  • Your Attitudes
  • Your Actions
  • Your Strategies

That's it.

Everything else is just the details.

You can always trace any challenge back to one of these areas and here's a practical example to illustrate this...

Someone wrote to us recently and asked us...

"How can you stop thinking about the past and only think about the good things you and your partner have now?"

This is an excellent question and one we'll answer in this way...

The person who wrote to us didn't say whether it was 'their' past together or the past before getting together that they couldn't stop thinking negatively about so with that being said...

Here are our thoughts...

In this situation, If you can't stop thinking about the past (and it's causing challenges in the relationship) then one of two things is going on...

Either you aren't questioning the validity of a few thoughts and they seem to trigger you and keep you "stuck"...


you have unhealed issues from your past or current relationship that need to be identified, looked at squarely and healed before they destroy your relationship or marriage.

If you think about it, this person's situation is no different from anything you might be going through now or in the future.

It goes back to one of those five issues we described above.

To help you with any relationship challenge, question, issue or concern, here are some powerful questions to ask yourself to help you determine where the problem is and how you can heal and release it...

  • Are the things I'm thinking about this situation actually true or are they things I'm only worried or concerned about figments of my imagination?
  • What are the beliefs I hold that could be contributing negatively to this situation?
  • Are these beliefs I hold moving me closer to or further from the love, passion and connection I want?
  • What attitudes do I have that are contributing to this situation?
  • What beliefs do I have that are contributing to this situation?
  • Are the things I've done been helpful in this situation or have they taken me further from what I want?
  • Is there a better or different strategy I could try in this situation to help us work through this situation?

As you know from reading this newsletter, we're huge fans of the power questions in making big changes and shifts in your life.

The questions above are just a few and you're certainly encouraged to come up with your own questions to help you make shifts in your relationships and life.

So, what do all these questions have to do with removing roadblocks to what you want?

Everything actually.

Most people tend to think (erroneously) that the problems of life are 'out there" instead of "in here" or inside you.

If you are having challenges in your relationships (or any aspect of your life for that matter), asking yourself the right questions and being open to new answers is a powerful strategy to use for making shifts for the better.

Asking yourself the right questions and being open to the answer also requires you to take personal responsibility for what you are creating in your relationships and life.

This "taking personal responsibility" is, in our opinion, something that we need much more of in a world where nearly everyone wants to point the finger outward and place blame elsewhere.

We believe that you are the creator of your life.

Not someone else. It's you.

Please understand that we're NOT saying that there isn't a God, creator or higher power that created all of us and our world. That's not what we're saying at all.

What we are saying is this-- not taking responsibility for what happens in our lives is definitely a barrier to connection with the people in our lives.

And taking responsibility does not mean blame!

What we have discovered is this: When we take responsibility for our lives and everything in them-- the problems, issues and challenges we have seem to start working themselves out.

And "taking responsibility" means looking for the blocks in your thinking, your beliefs, your attitudes, your actions and your strategies--and then doing one thing to move toward what you want.

You might want to challenge your negative thoughts about the past when they come up and bring yourself into the present.

You might want to change your belief about yourself--that what happened in the past will happen in the future.

If you have the belief that you can't say what you want for fear of what your partner will say, think, feel or how they'll react.

You might want to create an attitude of being grateful for what you have right now instead of one of fearing loss.

You might want to identify an action that you could take--like learning some new ways to communicate.

You might want to learn a new strategy that will move you more toward what you want.

Whatever you decide to do, we invite you to take some action to create more ease, love and connection in your relationships by looking at what's holding you back--and then doing something about it!

Talk to you again soon

©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 Their new E-book Should You Stay or Should You Go? has just been released and is now available See Archives 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001. Other Relationship Issues, Books

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