Susie & Otto


What is a Passionate Heart?

One of our newsletter subscribers asked an interesting question in our recent survey and we thought we'd share our answer with all of you.

She asked what the difference was between a passionate heart and s*exual ecstasy. Since we've been talking a lot lately about how having a passionate heart is so important to creating close, connected relationships, we thought it was a great topic to discuss. 

We think that a passionate heart is a way of living in every moment of your life. Whether you are waiting in line at the bank, helping your children with homework or talking with your partner, a co-worker or family member--your heart is open to experiencing the joys of connecting with others or even with yourself. 

The Oxford English Dictionary describes the word "passion" this way--"intense feeling, strong excitement, Strong affection; love, intense desire or enthusiasm."

In other words, passion or being passionate is the fire in our eyes, in our bodies and in our lives that drives us forward--whether it's in our work, our hobbies, or in our relationships. 

When people lose that passion or fire for their lives or their relationships, you can sure tell it and when people have it, you can also see it and feel it--even if they are quiet about it. 

To us, having a passionate heart means being truthful, being both powerful and vulnerable, having a willingness to stay and go deeper, taking responsibility for creating what we want in our lives, being open and allowing inner radiance to shine through--and of course being open to connecting with others, as well as to ourselves. 

Our list could go on and on but you get the idea and you would probably have many other ways of defining what it means to you.

You know when you have it and you also know when you don't.

The two of us had a misunderstanding yesterday but neither one of us closed to the other. We kept our hearts open to each other and are working out our differences as we are writing this article. That's having a passionate heart.

Back to our newsletter subscriber's question... 

In our way of thinking, love-making and ecstasy requires a passionate heart but not vice-versa and here's why we say this...

Sure, you can have love-making and ecstasy without a heart connection but you usually end up feeling empty inside, with that "is that all there is" thought.

The two of us decided when we were first together that this type of love-making was not what we wanted for our experience.

So, to our newsletter subscriber who asked the question--we say that love-making and ecstasy can certainly be part of having a passionate heart--and having a passionate heart is a lot more.

The passionate heart is the container through which everything in your life passes through.

More Ways to Remove The Blocks to Love and Connection

What are some of the things we do that get in the way of a close, connected and even passionate relationship or marriage?

This is a good question and because we're always asking ourselves how we can create more of what we want in our own relationship and how we can help facilitate that outcome for our coaching clients, we're always looking for answers to that question.

There are many answers to this question and we address many of them every week in this newsletter but here's what we've discovered...

These blocks to more love, passion and connection can be different for everyone but one of the biggest blocks to a close, connected relationship happens when one or both people begin looking outside the relationship to get their needs met.

We each saw this happen in our previous marriages and we've seen it happen in many relationships since then.

When you look to food, work, a hobby, a friend, a co-worker, another family member, or even children for love or any other primary need--instead of the partner you chose to be with--your relationship with that person deteriorates.

We're certainly not saying that you can't love food, your work, your friends, your family, or enjoy your associations with co-workers in order to have a great relationship with your mate.

What we are saying is that when you are with someone, one of the primary keys to creating an outstanding relationship is to make them feel like they are the most important person in the world.

Recently, we've been fascinated by Tony Robbins' work with couples around this topic. One couple had been on the verge of splitting up for two years. The husband had the proverbial one foot in the door and one foot out and couldn't make up his mind about what he should do.

Since we talk with a lot of people who are in similar situations and are always looking for ways to strengthen relationships, this couple's story was particularly interesting to us.

As Tony asked both of them questions, one thing that became apparent was that each of them looked outside of their relationship to fill their needs.

Do you do this? Do you make anything else more important than your mate? What would they say about the idea of whether they feel like the most important thing in the world to you or not?

In this situation where Tony was working with this couple, the woman was very close to her sister and had had a strong father who she had been very connected to. Although he had passed a year ago, it was apparent that she didn't allow her husband to be as important to her as her father had been or her sister is now.

The man seemed to also put other things in his life as a higher priority than his relationship with his wife. As Tony asked him questions, it became apparent that he chose to work long hours away from home to get his needs met.

They were both looking outward and neither one had had the courage to turn around toward their partner to see if they could rekindle their love for one another, to be "there" for each other, and to be much happier in the relationship.

So your question may be-- "How can we start to look at one another and our relationship differently?" or "What can I do to begin to make some shifts for the better in my relationship or marriage?"

Here are some ideas that you might try if you are in somewhat of a similar situation as this couple. If you are between relationships and learning how to create what you want, these ideas may help you to understand how to create a close, connected relationship that stays vibrant and alive throughout the years.

1. Take a look at who and what you seek out when you are agitated or challenged in your life. This will give you some idea of how you choose to soothe yourself and get your needs met.

As you become conscious of what you do during those times, decide whether you want to continue doing them or if there is a shift that you'd like to make that would bring you closer to your partner.

2. If you'd like to connect more with your partner at those times but you've held yourself back for one reason or another, you could begin by opening your heart and talking to him or her from that place about what's happening with you. You could also simply ask for a hug at those times.

Chances are that if you've made a habit of seeking out other people or things during times of distress, your partner may have disappointed you in the past.

If that's the case and you truly want a deeper connection with him or her, gather the courage and take the time to talk about how you would like to be supported--and then allow yourself to feel supported by them. In turn, you need to ask how you can support him or her.

3. Make a commitment to each other and a plan about how you both will move toward one another instead of away from each other.

The commitment can simply be that you will spend more time together instead of apart. It might be that you will look to each other in times of distress instead of to others or to some other outside stimulation.

The man in our example committed to be a powerful support to his wife and give her love in the way she needs.

The woman in our example committed to making their relationship more important than her relationship with her extended family.

If you are in a partnership, we invite you to look at how much importance this partnership is in your life and to move toward creating more love within it--if that is your desire.

If you are between relationships and want to have a loving, long-lasting, alive relationship, we invite you to create a vivid picture in your mind about how you'd like this relationship to be.

Sometimes we aren't aware of the blocks that prevent us from being happy and feeling loved. We invite you to take a look and move toward creating more love in your life.

It's Not My Problem

When a problem, challenge or issue comes up in a relationship or marriage, whose problem is it anyway?

Is it yours? Your partner's?

This is interesting because whether you are in a relationship where you feel like you are really alone, you're walking on egg-shells or maybe you've gone from relationship to relationship and have not found the heart connection that you want--one common question that we hear is "It's not my problem. It's their problem so what can I do about it?"

It doesn't matter whether the problem is jealousy or maybe the person withdraws and won't communicate with you, maybe the other person allows his/her anger to come between you, maybe you just don't seem to be "on the same page" or maybe your partner takes no responsibility for his/her actions.

Our answer is always the same...

If there is a problem in your relationship or maybe in relationships that you've had in the past, look at yourself first because you are part of what is happening.

Now, of course we in no way find it helpful to lay blame in your direction. Blame of any kind--whether it's toward you or your current or past partner--is of absolutely no benefit to anyone except to keep someone in roll of victim or martyr.

With that being said, we'll tell you about a situation we observed recently to illustrate what we mean.

We were at a gathering and one of the women seemed pretty upset as she explained in an exasperated tone that her husband had left the party to go home and had left the keys to their van locked inside it. She wanted to go home also but was upset that she had to figure out how to get there--without their van. She blamed him completely for her predicament.

Now on the surface, it certainly looks like this situation is all her husband's "fault" if you want to lay blame on anyone. But as we discovered later, her husband had talked with her prior to leaving but they hadn't really listened to each other and made their desires clear for one another.

We're guessing but they probably do this particular "relationship dance" quite often of mis-communicating and misunderstanding one another--not truly being "present" with each other when they are talking with one another.

So it's not just "his" problem but she has a role in their dynamic as well.

If that's the case--that both people have a role in contributing to most if not all relationship problems--how do you begin dealing with the situation if you feel that the other person is the problem?

Here are some ideas that we've used when we've thought the other person has the problem and we hope that they shed some light on helping you with your particular situation...

1. Own your part of it. Don't be seduced into thinking that it's all the other person's fault. It may be that the two of you are looking at the situation from very different eyes and from very different values. Take a few steps up and out of the situation and look at it from a hawk's perceptive high in the air. If you truly look at the situation from that vantage point, you will probably see how you have contributed--whether from something you did or did not do.

2. Take steps to truly feel what you are feeling about what has happened. It may trigger memories from past relationships or it may be a past hurt that surfaces--along with what's currently happening. When you pause to feel what's there for you, the whole situation becomes clearer. It's very easy to react from old patterns and not to go underneath of those patterns and discover what is really there. Give yourself the space and time to contact what's inside you.

3. If it's appropriate, tell the other person what you have discovered about this situation and about your part in it--without blaming either yourself or him/her. Do not speak from your "head" but rather speak from what you are feeling from your heart. The other will know and feel the difference and it can make the difference whether he/she reacts defensively or not.

4. Tell the other person how you would like your relationship to be and state your commitment to doing those things. You first have to figure what that means and then have the courage to ask for it. Be sure to be honest with yourself about what you want and be honest about your commitment to doing it.

If you want better communication, commit to stopping the things that you do that prevent communication. It might be to make sure that you are present with one another when you talk with each other, opening your hearts to one another and making eye contact so that you "hear" what each other is saying.

If you're in a relationship, especially an intimate relationship, there are undoubtedly things that come up that may be considered challenges. Whether they are big ones or small ones, take the time to look at the situation from the hawk's perspective and discover how you can grow as a person and as a couple.

If you do, you'll find that you become happier in your life and your relationships.

Dealing With The Difficult Times In Our Lives

Whether you consider yourself to be young, old or anything in-between, for most of us, transitions and life-changing events are usually difficult times in our lives.

Whether it's the death of a beloved friend or family member, a divorce, a relationship break up, the loss of a job or even getting married--those events tend to shake up our world and can be opportunities to look at life a little differently.

During the past two weeks, we were privileged to be part of Susie's mother's "transition team," along with a wonderful group of hospice workers. Susie's mother was able to pass from this world peacefully a few days ago.

The two of us learned a lot from this life transition and life-changing event.

Here are some of the things we learned...

1. Step back, take a broader view, and focus on what's truly important when things seemingly go "wrong." When Susie's mom was hours away from passing, we found that for various reasons, no hospice worker could be with her and us for several hours. Instead of getting upset, Susie's sister and the two of us were able to flow with the turn of events and simply focus on what was important--Susie's mom.

It was a big lesson for us to simply be with circumstances that we could not control and focus on what was important for us and in our power to do in the moment.

2. Life and our relationships are precious--and we need to be present in every moment. This is a lesson the two of us are always learning and re-learning.

Probably one of the biggest ways we can practice a deep appreciation for life and our relationships is by being present to what's happening inside and outside of ourselves--as well as to the people we are with in the moment.

During Susie's mom's transition, we were intensely focused on what was happening around us. We found that it was equally important to honor the emotions that were inside us and to also be very present to Susie's mom's process. We used various breathing techniques to help us move our emotions and not hang on to them as we lovingly tended to her and assisted in her moving on.

3. Take time to celebrate. Several times during the past week as family members gathered at Susie's mom's bedside, we celebrated her life. We played the Big Band 40's music of Glenn Miller which she had loved and told stories of her life while laughing and crying.

We re-learned how important it is to continually celebrate and cherish each other and our loved ones--not just at times such as these, but every day.

Life does send us obstacles and possibly even what we might consider tragedies from time to time. We've discovered that how you move through those times depends on your attitude and the love and compassion that you hold for yourself and others.

We have learned a lot from the events of the past few weeks and we are certainly different people from having gone through it.

If you've experienced a life-changing event (and most of us have) or are in the midst of experiencing one right now, we invite you to look on that event with love and discover what you can learn from going through it. It might be that you can help others in similar situations or it might simply mean that you emerge a better person.

Another Essential Ingredient For a Great Relationship

Although they may not be aware of them, everyone who creates a great relationship has certain things that they do over and over to create more love,passion, connection (or whatever is important to them) on a consistent basis in their relationships.

In any relationship it's usually not just one thing we do that creates the magic but many different things. Sort of like ingredients that go into a recipe for a favorite food or dessert-- if you leave out one of the key ingredients things don't go so well.

So what are the key ingredients in a close, connected and loving relationship?

Sadly, one of the ingredients that most people consider to be essential for a connected, alive and long-lasting relationship is something so simple but is often the first to disappear.

That ingredient is the simple act of having fun together.

That's right-- FUN.

A question many people wonder about fun is...

"Why does it disappear when it's usually part of what brought us together?"

That's a good question and we'll answer it like this.

Life gets in the way and we often choose other things on a day to day and moment to moment basis that don't move us toward more love, passion and connection.

Our jobs become priorities and when kids come along (although we may be having fun in different ways), we tend to put having fun as a couple very low on our list of "things to do."

In our relationship, even though the two of us are together most of our time together,we found that because of everything else going on in our busy lives we had allowed the "fun" part of being together fade a bit. Although we do have fun working together, we had been short-changing that part of our relationship and did a few things to get things revved up a bit.

So, we did what we're going to suggest that you do. We decided to make a list of things we considered fun to do together and do those things.

Susie already had a good quality bicycle but Otto didn't.

So, last week Otto bought a bike and we took our first ride together Tuesday evening as part of his birthday celebration. It just took an hour and boy was it fun.

Another "fun" thing on our list that we enjoy doing together is watching concerts of our favorite recording artists on DVD.

So, the other evening, after we stopped working, we watched a wonderful VH1 Storytellers concert and program featuring one of our favorite musical artists, Natalie Merchant. What a joy for both of us!

You get the point...

If you are in a marriage or relationship, we invite you to make a list of things that you enjoy doing together. They might be things that you used to enjoy together but no longer do--or they might be new things that would be fun for both of you.

If you are not currently in a relationship, we also invite you to make your list of what you consider "fun" activities. Again, they might be new activities or they might be things that you used to enjoy. Not only would this be a way to create more fun in your life, it might also be a way to meet someone special.

Whether you are in a relationship or not, you have to carve out some time from your life for having fun and doing this new or not-so-new activity.

Why would you want to do this?

It's pretty simple--It brings aliveness and renewal to your life and your relationship.

What we've found is that anytime you want to create more love, passion and connection in your relationships and life-- fun is always one place you can count on to give more of what you want to you.

We invite you to explore what fun means to you this week and to make time in your life for it.

It's so important for the quality of any successful and happy relationship.

It Really is All About You, Isn't It?

Has there ever been a past event with someone that made you upset? How about something that someone else did that made you happy or joyful?

We're imagining that if you're like a lot of people, you've had one or both of those experiences. We know we have.

Here's an interesting life and relationship truism about joys, upsets and everything else in your relationships (and life) that we want to share with you.

It's something that we've learned from our lives together as a couple and from the people we've studied.

Here's the relationship truism...

Whenever we're upset or triggered by someone else, It's never about the other person. It's always about us.

The same thing could be said for when someone else makes us happy or joyful. It's not what THEY do. It's how we interpret what they do that determines its meaning and whether we consider it a good or a bad thing.

So, before you start wondering if we've lost our minds, here's an example of what we're talking about from our own lives...

The other day, Otto was irritated because In the cul-de-sac where we live, our neighbor hadn't mowed an island of grass in a very long time that is in a very prominent common area.

The grass was way too high. It looked bad and in short made the whole neighborhood look bad. At least that's the way Otto saw it :-)

So, this is what happened...

When Otto mowed our grass, he mowed this neighbor's island of grass too. After he did it, he made up a story in his mind that our neighbor would be angry with him about what he had done. He also thought that if the neighbor wasn't angry that he would certainly feel bad that someone else had mowed his grass when it was this neighbor's responsibility.

Otto had the chance to talk with this neighbor yesterday and instead of being angry, bothered or embarrassed, the neighbor was very appreciative of what Otto had done.

So what did Otto learn from this?

He learned that it was his pride that had made up the untrue story in his mind that our neighbor might be angry or embarrassed.

Otto also learned that the emotion that he projected on his neighbor was actually his own issue about himself and how unorganized he can be and how cluttered his work area can be (and does) become from time to time.

There are also some things that came up for Otto about how he does the grass mowing of our yard. In other words, he feels like he could do a much better job at it and is somewhat angry with himself about it.

How does this story and this info help to make your relationships better?

You can change your perception when you are triggered or upset by someone or something. You can look within yourself first to feel what's happening within you.

Does that mean that the other person isn't doing anything to cause the upset?

Of course not. But it's been our experience that you will stop building walls between you and other people if you first search yourself and see what you can learn about yourself before you start pointing your finger outward toward someone or something else.

Here are some questions that we ask ourselves when we are triggered about something or someone...

1. What emotion is coming up for me right now because of what happened?

2. When have I acted in this way?

3. Is there anything that I need to say to anyone about how I am feeling or is there anything that I need to do?

4. What is it that this situation is signaling me to heal that I may have been unaware of or could have possibly been ignoring?

Although when we are triggered it's usually uncomfortable, it's also a great chance to get to know ourselves a little better and to grow.

Believe it or not, upsets are also opportunities to get closer to those we love rather than push them further from us. It's all in how you view them.

So we suggest that the next time you are upset by something or someone, you stop before you say or do what you normally do and choose to take that opportunity to learn more about yourself.

Build your relationships rather than tear them down by looking inward at your thoughts, beliefs and actions. If you do, you'll find that you life just keeps getting better and better.

One Question You Can Ask To Keep Walls From Coming Between You and Other People In Your Life

Have you ever been "triggered" or "upset" by anyone, anytime, anywhere?

Of course you have. We ALL have.

What we've discovered in our many years of learning about relationships and a deeper understanding of ourselves is that when we feel triggered by something or someone, there's always something there to be learned from the experience if we're open to the lesson.

When any of us are triggered by a person or an event, there's the tendency to resist, defend and to look outward instead of asking ourselves the question--"What can I learn from this?"

Why would you want to practice answering this question when you're triggered by someone or an event?

When you ask "What can I learn from this?" you are shifting from blaming the other person or the event to taking responsibility for growing from the experience. When you do this, you can move more easily and quickly to reconnecting with the person or just feeling better.

We'll explain with a simple example...

Several years ago, Susie was triggered by what several members of a group she was in were saying and doing. Although she had been in the group for many years, she no longer felt connected to them.

She started to "blame" them for her disconnection but then remembered to ask herself "What can I learn from this?"

What she found when she got quiet within herself was that this feeling of disconnection simply meant that she no longer wanted to be a part of this group. It was no longer a match for her and she could use the time doing things that really excited her now.

In her heart, she was grateful for what the group had given to her over the years but it was time to move on.

What does this example have to do with helping you to create more passion, love and connection in your relationships?

Every time you are triggered and you blame the other person, you create disconnection and you are not tapping in to "you."

Every time you ask "What can I learn from this?" and accept that something within you helped to create this trigger. That's certainly not to blame you but rather to shed some light on your inner thoughts and feelings and to help you to create great relationships.

It might be that the "trigger" indicates that you need to tell someone how you are feeling and what you want.

It might be that the "trigger" indicates that you need to pay attention to "you." You may need to pamper yourself in some way or to give yourself space and time to rest and rejuvenate.

It might be that the "trigger" is a signal that you have some learning and growing to do in some area of your life.

When you pay attention to the triggers, you create better relationships with yourself and with the people in your life.

We know that each one of you is triggered by something or someone at some time. And when you are, we recommend that you ask yourself this very important question so that you don't create walls between you and the other person.

We invite you to try this simple idea to create more passion, love and connection in your relationships and your life.

Looking at Your Relationship with 'New Eyes'

What do people want for their relationships and lives today?

One thing we've noticed as we listen to relationship questions and work with people in our coaching practice is that they are wanting more out of their relationships and their lives.

You've probably looked around and noticed that some relationships seem to be dissolving because people are no longer willing to stay in relationships or marriages that aren't happy and satisfying. They want more.

You might have also noticed that other people stay in relationships that seem to have died a long time ago and even though they seem to be staying in these unfulfilling relationships, they still want more.

In the back of their minds, whether they leave their relationships or stay in them, they wonder if it's even possible to have a lasting relationship that's passionate and alive.

We not only know that it's possible--we've seen evidence of it and have lived it ourselves.

One of the things that we've learned about how to keep passion and our relationship alive is to constantly look at your relationship and your beloved with "new eyes."

Now, what does that mean--to look at your relationship and / or your beloved with "new eyes"?

Here's an example to illustrate our point...

Last weekend we went to a new movie theater in Columbus, Ohio which is about an hour's drive from the city where we live.

This movie theater that we went to was in the "South Campus Area" just south of Ohio State University's campus. Even though both of us have driven past this area where this new theater is now located many times, we were shocked with what we found when we got there.

What had happened since we had last been to this part of Columbus was that this entire area had been completely transformed. What was once run-down student housing and abandoned buildings has been completely transformed with new shops, theaters, restaurants, coffee shops and more. We were amazed.

So what's the point?

The point is that in order for all this transformation to have taken place, someone had to have looked at this area with new eyes and envisioned a convenient, pleasant, exciting atmosphere for people to gather -- much different from what had been there before.

This is how we need to be in our significant relationships if they are to be alive and thriving for many years.

So how do we translate this "new eyes" idea to our everyday lives even if we may have been together with our mate for many years?

One of Susie's long-time friends told her that she and her husband of 25 years had taken the first vacation together by themselves for many years. They visited New England and toured ivy league colleges and had a great time.

She said that she and her husband learned that they really liked one another and enjoyed traveling together. They had forgotten what it felt like to just have fun together until they went on this trip.

It was pretty evident that they were looking at each other with "new eyes." They had found something that they really loved to do together and they had rediscovered that they really enjoyed each other.

Whether you've been in a relationship for many years or have just begun, we suggest that you can look at each other with "new eyes" and open your heart and mind to finding ways to do it.

If you are single and are wanting your next relationship to be different and to last, start right now to look at the people in your life with "new eyes." Begin looking at and thinking about your new or potential new partner with new eyes instead of comparing him or her to your previous partner.

What can you learn about each other? What can you re-discover about each other?

Looking at the people in your life with "new eyes" is just one of the many ways to create passionate, connected, alive relationships.

Let us know if you have a "new eyes" story. We'd love to hear it!

Can You Say 'I Love You' TOO Much?

Here's a fascinating question that we received from one of our newsletter subscribers and we are fairly certain that the question has come up for many other people in their relationships.

Our subscriber asked...

"Can you say 'I love you' too much? How can I make my partner believe that you can not overuse the 'I love you' term. He says if we say it too often, it will become meaningless."

First of all, we all come to our relationships with different past experiences, expectations and desires. Even though it may seem that the person we fall in love with is just like us, in so many ways (that usually surface after you've been together for quite awhile) they are so different.

The differences usually arise from our past experiences and how our role models (including our parents) conducted their lives and their relationships.

Our newsletter subscriber is with a person who has a different idea of what the "I love you" term means and how to use.

So can you overuse the term "I love you" ?

According to this man and probably many others, yes you can.

Does that mean that she doesn't get her needs met and she just has to put up with his ways?

Of course not.

Before we give some pointers about this situation, we'd like to give another possible explanation for these differences.

In neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), people are described to take in information and learn in three different ways...

1. Auditory

2. Visual

3. Kinesthetic

Although we each take in information in all of these ways, most of us have one dominant way.

What does this have to do with our topic?

Plenty and here's why...

Our newsletter subscriber may be an auditory learner (she may like to hear information) and her partner may prefer to get and give information in one of the two other ways. He may prefer demonstrations of love as opposed to saying it or he may prefer written notes of love.

We're just throwing this idea out for you to consider that we all don't like to receive and give information in the same ways--just as some people prefer to use email to contact people and others prefer to use the telephone.

There are many different reasons why someone may not want someone telling them "I Love You" all the time here are a couple others...

If someone doesn't want to overuse the "I Love You" phrase, it could be that they have witnessed other people in their life saying they love someone and then seeing them doing or saying things that weren't acts of kindness or love.

It could also be that they witnessed people saying "I love you" in a way that seemed insincere or trite. They may have done this in the past or saw it done and they don't want to repeat it.

So with those possible explanations why someone might have that idea, here are some suggestions if you are facing this kind of difference between you and a loved one (or for that matter, any one in your life)...

1. Listen, truly listen, to how your partner wants to be loved. If he/she doesn't want to talk about the topic, pay attention to how the person shows love for you.

Kelly's (one of our coaching clients) husband loved her by "doing" things around the house for her and by fixing things. He also sent her cards and flowers but saying "I love you" to her wasn't tops on his list. Kelly began opening more to him in ways that showed him she loved him. She began giving him her full attention when he talked with her and by doing that they became closer. And yes, she did feel more loved even though he didn't say it much more often than he had before.

2. Make sure that actions are in alignment with words. So often people say "I love you" and then in the next moment, do or say something that indicates something far different from love. They may not even realize that they are doing it.

Some people grew up in a family that made cutting, sarcastic remarks and it's become a habit for them to do it also. They don't even know that they are doing it--but the other person always does. If a person has witnessed or experienced "I love you" being followed by mean-spirited words or actions, they of course will be wary of using the term.

So make sure that loving actions follow this phrase of endearment.

3. If your partner is wary of using this phrase (for whatever reason), what are some other ways that you enjoy being loved? Do you like foot rubs, someone to help with household chores or the kids, or maybe an evening a week or a month of pampering?

Tell your partner other ways that you'd like to be loved because saying "I love you"--while it can be special--is not the only way to express love.

Whether you have this challenge in your relationship or not--we invite you to express genuine love for one another in many different ways and explore what's possible. Make sure that your words and your actions are in alignment as you move through your day toward creating the life that you want.

Can You Have It ALL In Your Relationship or Marriage?

One of the questions about relationships that many people struggle with is this--

"Can you have passion, love and connection in one relationship?"

Some people say yes and some say no.

With most relationships and marriages, here's what we find...

  • There might be friendship or compatibility with a partner but no passion.
  • There might be a feeling of being taken care of or taking care of someone physically, emotionally, or financially but that's as far as the connection goes.
  • There might be passion at times and very little or no connection otherwise.
  • There might be a deep feeling of love between the two people but they seem to be going in different directions much of the time with no real passion or connection.

So the question remains--Can you have it all?

Can you have Love, Passion AND Connection in one relationship?

Our answer is an unequivocal YES--with this caveat...

Passion, love and connection are certainly possible in one relationship but there can be and usually is an ebb and flow to it.

When the two of us lose passion for each other or our connection (love seems to always be there between us), we are committed to getting back what seems to have faded as soon as possible.

From the beginning of our relationship, we committed to each other that our relationship would be made up of all three--love, passion and connection, as well as deep friendship. We didn't experience this in our previous relationships and we decided that the pain of not having all three was greater than what it takes to have all three.

This commitment is so strong between us that we do whatever we need to do to move out of disconnection to connection --which re-ignites our passion.

So if it's possible to have it all, how do you do it?

Here are some of our ideas and what works in our lives...

1. Believe that you can have all three in one relationship. Most of us have not seen this in relationships, especially in our parents' relationship. We might have gotten the idea or even been told that you have to "settle" for one or the other.

Now, we certainly don't think anything's wrong with a relationship that is based on friendship and connection, with no passion--if that's what both people want. The problem comes in when one person feels an emptiness and wants more.

So belief that it is possible and that you can have it is where you start.

When you find that you are talking to yourself in a negative way about the possibility, change your thoughts to what's really possible for you.

2. If both of you are open to a discussion about what each of you wants in the relationship, that's a good, honest place to start. Decide what you are both committed to having and what you're going to do to move toward having it.

If you need better communication between the two of you, learn some tips and practice them. We've written a lot about communication on our web sites. The trick is to practice what will bring you closer to what you want.

If you aren't currently in a relationship, decide what you are committed to having for your experience in your next relationship and then watch for positive signs in a new partner. If you are committed to having what you want, you will be able to spot what you don't want pretty quickly and then break old patterns that no longer serve you.

3. If you are currently in a relationship and one of these elements is missing or you just want more, begin by acting from that place within yourself. If you want more passion, figure out what passion means to you (and hopefully your partner) and then do more of it. Passion means different things to different people so be clear about what it means to you.

The same thing goes for connection and love. What do connection and love mean to you and how can you connect more with the people in your life?

If you're not currently in a relationship, bring more of what you are wanting into your life. Find something to be passionate about and find ways to connect with and love others more.

Know that life is full of choices. Just make sure that you are living or are moving toward living yours.

Making The Most Of Every Moment

Although summer can be "down" time for many people, it usually ends up being even busier than other times of the year. We're feeling that right now and we know many others are feeling the same way as well.

When life gets really busy, what's often put on the "back-burner" or dropped completely is connecting with our loved ones.

Along these lines, one of our newsletter subscribers asked a very good question and we wanted to share our answer with you.

This person asked the following...

"How do you make the most out of the little moments, especially when life is busy with children, work, etc.??"

First of all, we buy into the idea that every moment is precious and an opportunity to connect with ourselves and with others. So the little moments are important.

We've observed that some couples are together all day and still don't connect with each other in a meaningful way. We're sure that you've seen the same thing.

So, connection isn't solely a matter of the length of time you make physical contact but seems to be more about how willing and open you are to connecting with each other.

If you are willing and open to connecting with your loved ones, we believe that you can "make the most out of the little moments" when life is busy and stay connected.

Here are some ideas that we and others use every day to stay connected--in the smallest moments...

1. Stop what you are doing in the moment that you or your partner either leaves or returns home and acknowledge them in some way. You or your partner might think that you don't want to interrupt what you are doing but we've found that any interruption is worth it if we can stay connected with each other.

When you stop what you are doing, acknowledge your partner or loved one (this goes for your kids also) and make eye contact. Whether you express words or not, you are saying to that person that he/she is important. You are making a connection in that moment.

2. Make time in your day to connect, even for a "5 Minute Connection Break." Believe it or not, you can do a lot of connecting in 5 minutes. You can express your feelings, you can be affectionate with each other or you can simply stop your "busyness" and feel into each other.

We've found that a "5 Minute Connection Break" is especially important when we've been rushing in separate directions and we've been in the company of a lot of different people, without any time by ourselves.

Our "5 Minute Connection Break" usually means making eye contact with each other, sitting close and holding hands or kissing, and telling each other what's going on inside us.

Be sure to make time for your "5 Minute Connection Break" every day--some time during the day.

3. Don't make connection a chore and something that you "should" do. Connect because you want to do it. Connect because you want to feel and give love. Make connecting important to you.

4. Talk about what's important to you and listen to each other to understand--not to fix. One of the things that we all want is to be understood and we want to be understood by those we love.

If you have been putting off talking about what's important to you because the two of you are too busy, maybe it's time to start looking at your priorities.

It might be time to examine what you are spending your time doing and to re-prioritize your life in such a way that you do have time to connect in a meaningful way--not only with a partner but with your kids.

A good way to do that is to talk about your values and then look to see if what you are spending your time doing is in alignment with your values.

We just heard Richard Paul Evans speak at the meeting we we talking about in "New and Notes" and read his little book "The Christmas Box." It's a short, simple, easy-to-read story that's a great reminder about how we can lose sight of what's really important in our lives. If you need a reminder, find a copy of this book.

We invite you to make the most of those little moments in your life and to connect with those you love.

There's no time like the present to begin making some little changes that will help you to move toward what you want.

We invite you to start today.

Reconnecting, Passion and Connection -- Another Question Answered

We received an interesting question from one of our newsletter subscribers in response to our recent article about closeness and connection fading over time.

Our contention is that it doesn't have to fade and that with intention and action, you can create an even deeper connection between the two of you.

Here's what our newsletter subscriber asked...

"Take your newsletter one step further--What if passion and romance was never there to begin with and now after so many years, you realize how important it is? Is it possible to reconnect?"

First of all, we're sure that this person is not the only one who has this question. We meet and hear from many people who are struggling with this relationship challenge.

Secondly, this is not "reconnection" as this person said in the question.

If this relationship was built on something other than passion and romance, what is really happening is that there is a desire on the part of one of the partners to "connect" in a different way.

In our view, what our newsletter subscriber wants to do is change the "rules" of this relationship.

Now, there's certainly nothing wrong with changing the "rules" of the relationship or wanting changes but whenever this is the case, there has to be an awareness that this is what is happening and both people in the relationship have to agree on the changes that are taking place (hopefully by intention.)

We don't know the particulars of this person's relationship but there are many reasons why people come together and stay together--other than for romance and passion.

Here are just a few possibilities...

  • to get out of a bad home-life situation
  • safety and security
  • friendship
  • desire to create a family with children
  • to be taken care of or to take care of someone

We've discovered that when one person becomes dissatisfied and wants to change their relationship, it's helpful to get a handle on what the motivations were for both people coming together in the first place.

In order to move toward what you want, it's very helpful to learn what the often unspoken "rules" and expectations are in the relationship.

You might ask yourself and your partner these questions...

1. What were the real reasons that you came together?
2. What did you hope to get out of the relationship?
3. Do you still want those things in your relationship?
4. What would you like for this relationship?

Above all, if you are wanting something different for your relationship, be conscious and clear about what you do want.

If you say "more passion and romance," clarify what that means to you--because those things mean something different to each one of us.

We are suggesting that if this or something similar is your relationship challenge, you take this opportunity to take a look at your relationship and to say "this is what I want." We also suggest that you invite your partner to explore what he/she wants.

There's the chance that your partner wants something better or different also and you can take this opportunity to create something that perhaps was never there before.

There's also the chance that your partner is happy with the status quo and the old "rules" of the relationship. You may have two different sets of desires and this is usually what happens to couples who break up and go their separate ways.

We're saying that it's healthy for you to explore possibilities and that it is possible, if both people want it, to fall in love in a different way with each other.

The Vacation Love Lesson

One of our coaching clients just got back from a vacation to Ireland and had a few "ah-ha's" that we'd like to pass along to you which we think can help you create more love, passion and connection in your relationships and your life (if you read this with an open mind and heart.)

This coaching client discovered that he actually relaxed when he was on his trip--which was unusual for him because of his demanding job and his somewhat disconnected relationship with his family. He felt "free" when he was in Ireland and had an excitement for life that he hadn't had in a long time.

What he realized was that he wanted to keep those good feelings that he had during his vacation. He didn't want to climb back into his "armour," as he put it, when he went back to his job and continued his "normal" life.

In a nut shell, he didn't want to go back to the way things were before his vacation--his feelings of separateness, anxiety and feeling like he had to control everything in his life.

The lesson from our coaching client and his vacation is that it is our job is to take those good feelings and relaxed frame of mind and heart into every aspect of our lives and live that way as much of the time as possible AFTER vacation and not just while on vacation.

When we do this, we'll literally be able to attract more of what we want and less of what we don't want into our relationships and lives-- but this isn't always easy.

If you have had similar feelings of getting a glimpse of how your life and relationships can be different and better but find that you've slipped back into the patterns of your past that have kept you stuck--here are some suggestions that may be helpful if you want to break out.

1. Acknowledge what it is that you want. Our client had a glimpse of how it felt to really and truly relax trying to control everyone and every thing and he liked it. Having a vision of "this is the feeling that I want" is a first step to having more of it.

2. Create the possibility within yourself that you can move toward having more of what you want. When you find that you are telling yourself that whatever it is that you want isn't possible, change your thoughts.

One way we like to do that is by revisiting in our minds places where we have felt happy, joyful or really relaxed. It might be floating in the ocean, cruising on a catamaran or enjoying a good baseball game. When we re-create good feelings within ourselves, even from the memory of a past experience, we find that we feel more positive in the present moment and are more open to possibilities and more love.

3. Take one step toward moving from your habits and patterns that keep you in whatever you don't want. Our client decided to be more open to collaborating with a colleague at work. He saw how he tends to try to control every situation with this colleague (and many others) and that attempt at control keeps him very anxious at his work, as well as at home.

By deciding to open to changing his approach in his mind from control to collaboration--starting with his colleague--our client has begun to ease the stress in his life and move toward the feelings that he had when he was on vacation in Ireland.

Is it possible to carry relaxed, joyful, loving feelings that we've felt at certain times into our daily lives?

Yes, it most definitely is possible.

Summer is a time when many of us go through our lives a little slower and take time to relax a little more. A vacation is usually a great way to break out of your normal routine, enjoy some different experiences and even relax. We might even catch a glimpse of how we'd like to be more in our lives.

We've found that when we allow ourselves to relax and not allow the pressures of our normal routine to build walls between us, we are closer, kinder and more open toward each other and other people.

What we've found is that it's normal for upsets or periods of stress to come and go in our lives. What also can be "normal" is for us all to come back to feelings of peace, relaxation, love, joy or whatever else it is that we want to experience.

Is It "Normal" To Grow Apart In Relationships and Marriages?"

AND "How Do You Restore Closeness When You Have Grown Apart From Someone You Love?"

Here's a common issue for many people that we wanted to address in this week's issue of our newsletter...

It's about the question of "do we have to grow apart over the years with people we are in relationships with?" and how do you restore closeness if you do grow apart?

We get lots of questions around this topic. These kinds of questions are certainly ones that we hear frequently from couples in relationships that have lasted many years.

To the person who is wondering whether it's "normal" for the closeness to fade over time in a relationship-- we say that while it may seem this way to many people, we believe that it doesn't have to be this way. We believe that if you have the intention and desire to do it, you can keep the closeness going in a relationship for as long as you want.

In order to do this, you have to have the desire to keep your relationship or marriage a top priority and do the kinds of things that create great relationships (even when it seems difficult.)

Because this is such an important topic to many people, here's what another person asked that seemed to be on lots of people's minds in a recent survey we conducted about this topic and relationships.

The question is...

"What do you do once you have already started to 'grow apart' after many years together and several kids? Can the closeness be restored and if so how?"

What a great question and first of all, it's important to note that most of us haven't been taught how to keep a great relationship close, growing and alive over a number of years. This means we're trying to figure it out as we go along and sometimes we do some things that take us away from what we want--very often without even knowing it.

We have usually seen examples of two people living together for many years, possibly as friends (or not even as friends), but the passion and closeness has gone out of their relationship. They may live very easily together-or they may not-but they don't seem to have anything in common any more. The romance and passion that was once there seems to have evaporated over the years.

Yes, this is something that many people experience and yes, closeness can be restored.

We're often asked, "Okay, if closeness can be restored, where do we start?"

You start by not "dancing around" or ignoring the issue any longer.

You start by approaching the subject with a strong desire and with the intention to begin learning how to connect again and not from a place of blame, lack or being a victim.

You start from a place of wonder and begin asking yourself questions like "What do I want my relationship to look like?" and "Is my partner happy with the way it is or does my partner want some changes?"

These are excellent questions and here's the trick...

When you have this conversation, you need to not only be brave enough to say what you'd like your relationship to look and feel like but even more importantly, you have to be able to listen and not get defensive about what your partner has to say.

Several years ago, we had a talk about what would bring us even closer. Along with our commitment to each other to spend the first hour after we wake up each day, connecting with each other, making love, and appreciating one another, Otto was willing to say what he wanted.

He told Susie that he would like her to wear something more feminine than sweat pants to work in the home office that we share. After dressing up every day for 30 years before retiring from her university job, Susie enjoyed being comfortable and wearing sweat pants to her "new" job but she was willing to listen.

When Otto mentioned his request, she didn't get defensive but searched within herself whether this was a request that she was willing and wanted to do. She actually discovered that flowing skirt were comfortable, inexpensive and she liked wearing them. She felt more feminine in them and the "spark" between us kept going even when we were at work.

We tell you this story to illustrate how in simple ways you can begin to become closer and even more passionate if you are willing to talk and listen to each other--and be open to making some changes in your life.

You may need to schedule some time together every day and begin to look at your life and your priorities so that you have time to spend together.

We urge you to start now to discover new ways to be together and recapture what once may have been between you. In many cases, it's not too late but you never know until you explore the possibilities together.

Whether you're in a new relationship that you want to last or you are with someone that you've been with for a long time, what we have discovered is that very often it's not the big things that come between us that makes the closeness dissipate. Sometimes It's the little things that we allow to build and get bigger.

One of our commitments we made to each other very early in our relationship has served us well and that is the commitment to NOT run away physically, energetically or emotionally when things were tough.

Our agreement is to work through whatever comes up between us as quickly as possible after we realize there is any kind of distance between us at all.

This isn't always easy (or convenient) but it is an excellent agreement that has been incredibly useful to us in keeping our relationship close, alive, vital and passionate.

We think this agreement will serve you and your relationship as well...

One of the Most Important Ingredients For Creating Great Communication

It shouldn't come as a surprise to you to hear us say that one of the biggest challenges with most couples and relationships is lack of communication.

Here's something we think you'll find interesting that will help you improve communication and create more connection with the people in your life.

In our recent survey of our email newsletter list when we asked -"What's the biggest question you have about how to create more love, passion and connection in your relationship and your life?"-people responded with a number of questions about communication.

Here's one question about communication from the survey that many people share...

"How do you really listen to each other, day after day? My husband and I swear we have told each other something - and yet the other does not remember it. This happens to us all the time."

The very simple answer to this question lies in a single word...

The word is "presence."

Presence is not only important when you are communicating with your spouse or significant other-- but also when you are communicating with anyone in your life. Whether you are communicating with your partner, your children, your relatives, friends or co-workers--coming into the present moment and really being "here right now" is what it takes to clear up these types of communication problems.

You may relate to this typical scenario...

You seem to always be in a hurry, doing several things at once around the house, because there never seems to be enough time to get it all done. As you pass your spouse or partner in the hallway in the morning before work, you ask him/her to pick up the dry cleaning at the cleaners on the way home from work.

During this exchange you aren't looking at each other. You are hurrying to get ready for work yourself, get the children ready for school or make your morning coffee. Your mind is on all the things you have to that day and you take your partner's grunt in response to your request as an affirmation that your request was heard. In your mind, your partner agreed to do what you asked.

Because you have spoken the words, you think that it registers in the other person's consciousness and that he/she will follow-through.

But guess what?

Your partner or spouse has similar mind chatter going on in his/her head. The chatter may have been so loud that your request was drowned out by thoughts of what was going to happen in his/her life that day. Your request may have sailed high above his/her head without any consciousness that it had been made--or it might have been heard but with no intention to honor it.

In this scenario, both people have assumed a great deal and have mentally and emotionally been elsewhere than where their physical bodies were located.

They therefore didn't "hear" one another.

So what can you do about this if this is a problem for you and your partner?

Here are some suggestions that have worked for us and we're sure will work for you...

1. When you talk with someone-whether it's your spouse, partner, child, friend or co-worker--stop what you are doing, face the person, and make eye contact.

When we were first together, Otto seemed to talk to Susie's back as she ran around straightening the house or cooking in the evenings because it had been her habit of doing that with her ex-husband. Otto called attention to the fact that she wasn't truly present with him. He asked her to stop what she was doing when she wanted to talk with him or to ask him a question and make eye contact.

She was more than willing to do that because it strengthened their connection when she did. She hadn't realized that she had been often preoccupied, simply out of habit, and not truly present when Otto was speaking. In a sense, she was taking him for granted when she didn't stop what she was doing to connect with him.

2. Bring your mind and emotions into this present moment when you communicate with someone. As you stop and face the person, making eye contact with them, mentally bring your thoughts back into the room where your physical body is. It sounds crazy but sometimes we're a million miles away in our thoughts and not really "with" the person we're talking to. It takes practice but we suggest that this will go a long with to clear up communication problems if you do this one, simple thing.

3. If the person who you are trying to communicate with isn't looking in your eyes and isn't really present with you, ask. You can have it as an agreement between the two of you to gently ask for the other's presence if they seem to be far away. If there's no agreement, you can turn and face them and ask that they turn off the television or whatever distraction is going on so that you can talk. Choose some time when they are receptive to doing this and not in the middle of something that they consider to be important.

Presence is one of the most important ingredients to great communication and is something that anyone can learn to do. We suggest that if this is a problem for you and your relationship, begin to practice the pointers that we have given you.

Creating Trust in Today's World

One of the most-asked questions that we received during our recent survey of our newsletter list when we asked the question-"What's the biggest question you have about how to create more love, passion and connection in your relationship and your life?"-was around the issue of trust.

People wanted to know how to simply relax, enjoy and trust their partner without being threatened and insecure.

One person said it this way...

"How is it possible to believe in and trust your mate when there is so much betrayal, lying and cheating in society? Even when your mate hasn't done anything to arouse suspicions...most magazines, talk shows and other people have such awful stories that it makes people such as myself wonder if being part of a couple is even a good idea."

This certainly is a good question and one that many people face whether they outwardly show their concern or keep it inside and to themselves.

Our answer is to make a conscious decision to begin to reframe your beliefs about what is possible in YOUR life and what you want for your experience.

From the beginning of time, there have been unhappy, mistrusting people and there have been people who have been secure in themselves and happy with their lives. This is our choice every day and in every moment.

We can choose to focus on all the stories (and there are a lot of them) of break up, despair, cheating, lying and betrayal-or we can choose to spend our time focused on more positive things that uplift us.

You may be reading this and saying that this is easy for us to say but we're here to tell you that this is one of the most important things we have done to relax, trust and enjoy one another.

We focus on what brings us joy and not on what pulls us down.

If you are focusing on what is making news and the sensational stories on television, stop and focus on what brings you joy in your life. If your partner isn't doing anything to cause the mistrust or uneasiness that you feel, it is your opportunity to start now to change your thoughts and your beliefs about your life.

If you are mistrusting and your mate or others are doing nothing to deserve this mistrust, somewhere within you is a limiting belief that betrayal is what you will have for your life experience.

A belief is just a thought that you've been thinking over and over and can be changed.

Here's what we do when a limiting belief comes into our thoughts...

We change it to a thought that is more in alignment with what we want.

Here's an example...

Let's say that you are with a group of people and there's a very beautiful woman or a very handsome man who you just know that your mate will be attracted to. Your mate may or may not actually do anything but you just know that the attraction is there between the two of them--and that's what you focus on.

At the moment you realize that you are thinking that thought, breathe and change your thought to a more empowering one that you can believe and say it to yourself over and over. You might tell yourself that you are okay no matter what happens, that your mate truly loves you and how much you appreciate him or her, or even shift your attention to appreciating the beauty of this person and find someone interesting to talk with.

Now we're not going to kid you--this process takes work and you have to be aware of the chatter in your head and be willing to hold the belief that you can change it. But it does work!

What if you feel that your mate (or anyone) is actually betraying you?

Don't keep your head in the sand, so to speak, and decide what you want in your life and what you are willing to "put up with." Focus on what you want but state your boundaries in the relationship. Be willing to stand by what you want for your life experience. If you don't, no one else will.

Whether your mate or anyone is doing nothing to deserve mistrust or he/she is--your choice is to begin focusing on possibilities for your life and what you want.

The Secrets to Long, Lasting Relationships

In this day of almost disposable relationships, a question on the minds of many singles and couples is how to create a relationship that will last and one that will keep its vibrancy throughout the years.

We're taking ballroom dancing lessons with another couple Sam and Rosie, who have been Otto's friends for many years. They have been married for 24 years and by spending a lot of time with them, we were able to get a glimpse of the reasons they still have such a good marriage.

Several things became very apparent to us as we had dinner together after our lesson...

1. They were good friends
2. They enjoyed being together
3. Their marriage was still passionate And perhaps most importantly...
4. Although they are very different people, enjoy very different things and have very different ideas about some things, they do not make each other wrong for having those differences.

As Relationship coaches, one of the biggest obstacles to creating a lasting relationship that is filled with passion, life and love is that the two people make each other wrong for being different.

Last night, when Sam talked about his love for basketball and playing in organized street basketball tournaments, he did not make Rosie wrong when she said that she liked to spend the time doing her own thing when he played.

Now we're all for supporting each other and it can be very important in a relationship. What we're saying is to not make the other person wrong for being different and wanting different things than you want.

We heard them talk and laugh about their different styles of packing before a trip. Sam packs several days before the trip and Rosie packs during the last few minutes before they leave.

This difference would really be a bone of contention for many couples but not for Sam and Rosie. They just laughed about it when they described what usually happens before a trip.

In our own lives, the two of us are very different. One thing that we've recognized is that in order to keep our passion and love alive, we had to learn to honor each other, even if our differences tended to drive us crazy.

What we've discovered is that by honoring and appreciating each other's differences, we've actually come closer together in enjoying similar activities.

Susie watches and even enjoys Cincinnati Reds baseball with Otto now and that certainly wasn't the case a couple of years ago. And of course, Otto's learning to dance which Susie absolutely loves!

So what we've learned from our own lives and from the lives of our friends is to honor, laugh about and enjoy your differences if you want to create a long, lasting, passionate relationship that has continued and on-going life.

We invite you to notice the differences that are not only apparent if you are in an intimate relationship or in any other relationship that you care about.

You might ask yourself how you can begin to appreciate, laugh about and enjoy those differences. If you do, we know that you will experience much more joy and happiness in your life.

What Are Some New Steps You Can Take to Create More Love, Passion and Connection In Your Relationships and Life?

Lately, we've both been thinking about ways that we could experience the gifts of connecting even more than we do already.

With that in mind, here's what Otto said that not only shocked Susie but some of our closest friends as well...

He said-- "I'm finally ready (and willing) to take dancing lessons!"

Well after a few calls back and forth with the dance studio to set things up, last night, we took our first ballroom dancing lesson. Because Otto has never had a formal dancing lesson and considers himself "rhythmically challenged," this lesson was a big leap for him.

As we tried out the fundamental steps of the rumba, tango and fox trot just to get our feet and bodies moving, two suggestions were pointed out to us...

The first suggestion was to take smaller steps and the second suggestion was to keep moving.

Being the relationship coaches that we are, we couldn't help but compare these two suggestions about dancing to ways to improve relationships.


Well here's our take on these dancing suggestions as they pertain to relationships...

We'll talk about the "taking smaller steps" idea first.

We take small steps to make our relationship better every day and help others to see how they can do it too in their lives.

A small step for one couple we once worked with in our coaching practice was to make the commitment to eat breakfast together every day as their special connecting time--without the kids--because they realized that they had grown apart over the years.

Now, they may or may not have considered this to be a small step because it involved being committed to doing it every day and changing their old routines.

The point is that they took a step toward connecting with each other and rekindling their love for each other instead of allowing their relationship to die a slow death because of inattention.

So what would make your relationships better, closer and more connected?

What one small step can you take, no matter what type of relationships that you have currently in your life, to create more peace, more love, more connection or whatever it is that you want?

Do you need to be more honest about what you're feeling? Do you need to open more to listening to what another has to say, without judging? Do you need to make more time for the important people in your life?

Take some time to answer those questions and then take that one step.

The second "dancing" suggestion that we were told was to keep moving, not stopping at one particular foot sequence but to keep repeating it.

How does that pertain to your relationships?

When you've taken your first step toward creating better relationships, keep doing it over and over.

Sounds simple? It usually isn't.

It's been said that for anything to become a habit, it takes at least 21 days of doing it over and over. You have to understand that what you've been doing in your life that keeps you from having great relationships is probably a habit and it's takes time to change those habits.

You might have the habit of keeping so busy and filling your life with things that you have to do that you neglect the people you love. You might rationalize and tell yourself that all these things that you are doing are really important and that you are the one who has to do them.

If this describes your life, only you can decide whether you want to keep doing those "things" or to let some of them go and start spending some time connecting and even having fun with those you love.

Over this past weekend, we visited Susie's family and we all took a bike ride on a scenic bike path by a river. We could have chosen to spend that time in all sorts of ways but we chose to do something that we all enjoyed together--kids and adults.

The point is to free up some time in your life so that you can begin creating some habits--things that you do over and over--that will bring you closer to the people in your life.

Next week we have our next dancing lesson and even if we don't remember the exact steps we were shown, we will remember to take small steps and to keep moving.

We hope you also remember and apply the suggestions that we were given. We think they make great advice for relationships as well as dancing.

What Is a ' Passion Eraser' and How Can You Keep It From Destroying Connection In Your Relationships?

If you're like most people, you know what an eraser is-- but do you know what a passion eraser is?

The answer is probably no.

A passion eraser is anything that you think, say or do that reduces or eliminates passion and connection from your relationships and your life. It can even be a belief.

Most of us don't take the time to find out what our particular passion eraser is, but what we know is that we all have to stop using them if we want closer, more connected relationships and happier lives.

Passion and connection erasers can be small, seemingly insignificant things like interrupting someone consistently while they are speaking or can be much bigger things like lying or infidelity. It can even be staying in a job that you hate that robs you of your enthusiasm and zest for life.

A passion eraser can simply be keeping yourself so busy that you don't have time to connect with those you love.

Here's an example of what we mean...

We just got our copy of Janet and Chris Attwood's book "The Passion Test" and loved the interview with marketing expert Jay Abraham. In the interview, he spoke about how his life had been out of balance, working eighteen hours a day, seven days a week--even having meetings at 2am.

In the interview, Jay said that now if his wife wants to go to lunch with him, he'll stop what he is doing, unless he has a very important meeting and go with her. He realized that although he was very passionate about his business, he also wanted balance. He wanted a balance of economic, intellectual, spiritual, physical and sexual elements in his life.

So here's our question to you...

What's your particular passion eraser? We all have them.

Here are a few suggestions for identifying yours...

1. Pay attention to your feelings. Look at them as indicators of what's going on inside you that you may need to listen to. Do you get a sinking feeling or agitation when you go to work? When you come home from work? Pay attention and then begin honestly addressing what is nagging at you that you may have been ignoring.

2. Pay attention to your physical symptoms. One woman wrote to us this morning that she consistently had heart palpitations and her eye twitched when she went to work. If something like this is happening to you, get checked out by your physician and then take an honest look at how you are dealing with your work or home situation.

What thoughts need to be shifted? What can you do to ease the stress of your situation? Do you have unhealthy expectations of yourself or of others?

3. Begin looking at how you spend your time and if you are spending your time the way you want to--that's healthy for you--according to your values and not someone else's rules . There's no more powerful passion eraser than living your life according to someone else's rules.

4. Pay attention to your thoughts and self-talk. Are you constantly telling yourself negative things about you or others in your life? Listen in and pay attention to your self-talk and it can certainly be eye-opening because what we tell ourselves does tend to manifest in our lives.

Our advice today to you (and to ourselves) is to look at what robs you of passion of all types in your life. Start bringing in more of what brings you passion for living and see how your happiness grows.

Opening Up More To Connecting

Whether you're a young person just starting out your work or dating life or you're a bit more seasoned and have had many relationships, we think you'd agree that what we all really want in life and love is connection.

One of the biggest relationship challenges that many people face is being open to learning what they need to learn to create closer, more connected relationships.

So often we go through life with blinders on, really seeing or understanding what's going on with the people in our lives. We make up stories in our minds about why people act they way they do and we don't look beyond our perceptions to what can be learned from the situation or person.

When we don't truly step back and look at situations from a bird's eye vantage point and "get" the lessons, we tend to repeat them over and over again.

The other day, we rented the dvd "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" based on the book by Mitch Albom. Somehow we missed this fabulous movie when it came to theaters and if you also missed it, we highly recommend reading the book or see the film.

Without spoiling the movie for you, this is a story about a man who meets five people in heaven who have important information to help him understand his life lessons and his relationships.

No matter what your personal, religious or spiritual beliefs are about life, death and beyond-- Our thought is why wait until we die to discover our life lessons about ourselves, our life and our relationships--if indeed this is what happens after death.

We suggest that you learn what you need from the people who are currently in your life so that you can have the passion and connection that you want now instead of discovering what could have been possible during your "life review" after you die.

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

A week or so ago, the two of us along with Susie's daughter, grandchildren and her sister visited Susie's mother who is in a nursing home and in the latter stages of dementia.

Later, as we all talked about how we connected with Susie's mom during this visit (we sang Girl Scout songs to her because she had been a Girl Scout leader for many years), Susie's daughter talked about how in order to connect with her now, we have to meet her where she is.

Susie's mom is no longer interested in what the grandchildren are doing like she had been several years ago. We are now connecting with her through music and through touch--and we can actually see little signs from her that she does feel the connection.

Susie's daughter made a wise observation that this is how we all should connect with each other--meeting each other where we are in this moment.

So how do you do this?

Here are some ideas...

1. Have it as your intention to connect with the other person. Your attitude and intention is more important than you might think. If you are trying to "fix" the other person or make them wrong, it's pretty apparent. So be clear in what your intention is.

2. Disregard any stories that you have made up about this person or the situation. Know that these stories are from your perspective and may or may not have any truth for the other person.

3. Be open to meeting the other person where they are right now instead of expecting them to be someone else and to be different. This is especially critical with our kids and grandkids. While we always want our children and grandchildren to be the best they possibly can be, it's also important for us to give the message that we are open to connecting exactly where they are right now without criticism and trying to "fix" them.

4. Ask "What is my lesson in this situation or with the person" and "How can I be a better person because of it or them?" When we look at people and situations as opportunities to learn what we need to learn, we do discover our "lessons" and grow because of them.

We urge you to not wait until the afterlife to discover what this life is all about. If you do discover your purpose and your lessons as you go along, you will also experience the joy of connecting with others that you may not have experienced before.

Getting What You (and Almost Everyone Else) Wants In Your Relationships

What we all truly want in our lives and in our relationships is to feel connected--whether it's feeling connected to yourself, your partner, your Creator, your family, your co-workers, or your pet.

A few days ago we saw such a great example of the joy that can come from feeling connected that we just had to share it with you.

When we saw our friend Elizabeth, she was absolutely glowing! Not only was she glowing, but she was excited about her life in a way we've never seen.

Elizabeth, who is in her middle to late sixties, has reconnected with a man who she went on a double date with fifty years ago.

As she told and showed us how happy she was, we couldn't help but think about the power of connection.

In Kenny and Julia Loggins' book "The Unimaginable Life," Kenny said, "We all long for love. Everything else is just killing time." The same thing could be said about the importance of feeling connected in our lives.

Connection is different for every single person and different for every relationship--but when it's happening you know it. It might mean talking on the phone once a month or it might mean spending most of your time with that person, interacting in a meaningful way.

The differences between how one person wants to connect compared to how another person connects can be a real problem in any type of relationship. One person might want to talk about their day when they come home with the person they are living with and the other person wants some space and doesn't want to talk. Resentments can build and even though the two people might love or care deeply about one another, there's very little connection because of the walls they've built between them.

If you'd like to connect more with the people in your life, here are a few ideas to help you do that...

1. Open yourself to connecting. Don't shut yourself off physically or emotionally from people or situations. It's pretty easy to bury yourself in television, the internet or just plain busyness as a way to distract yourself and keep you separate from those you love. Opening yourself to connection might be something as simple as stopping your "doing" and looking directly into the eyes of someone you love when you are talking with them.

2. Don't make assumptions about what you think people are thinking, saying or doing. If in doubt, ask from a place of genuinely wanting to find out more rather than judging.

3. Adopt an attitude that fosters connection. Attitudes that stop connection are-

"I'm right. You're wrong"

"I'm better (smarter, prettier) than you"

"If you'd only do it this way, everything would be fine"

Attitudes that create connection are--

"What can I learn from you?"

"You're important to me."

"My way is not the only way. Tell me your ideas."

4. Search for common interests that excite you. Focus on the "overlap" between the two of you--where you have points of similarities rather than focusing on how very different you are.

5. Talk about how you would like to connect. Don't leave it up to chance and hope that it all works out.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that connection always happens by accident. Connecting with yourself and with others requires you to be an active participant in the process. You can't sit around and hope that you find a connection with others.

If you are wanting more connection in your life and in your relationships, you can, like our friend Elizabeth, create it.

Love Lessons, Relationship Lessons, Life Lessons.-- Who needs 'em?

The truth is that we ALL need them if we want to enjoy closer, more passionate and connected relationships and here's why...

The two of us have a small group of friends that we spent time with several times a year. When we get together, we spend anywhere from an afternoon to a weekend together and it's always filled with dancing, laughter, the sharing of food and our stories-- and of course, there's always a lot of personal growth for each of us.

Somehow, we usually forget about the lessons that we'll learn when we are with these people until we're right in the middle of discovering what these "lessons" are.

This past weekend's get together was no exception! It was full of heart connections with people we really care about and at the same time "challenging."

These gatherings are "challenging" because they're no different from what happens when you get together with the people in your life (especially the people closest to you that seem to push your buttons.) People are just being themselves and anytime that happens, someone is bound to get "triggered" and when that happens, we just know that someone has a life or relationship lesson about to be discovered.

As we were thinking about this topic of our biggest relationship lessons, our feelings seem to be summarized in how one woman in this group describes what she feels when she is with all of us.

We're paraphrasing but what she said was something like this...

If there's a misunderstanding, it will be truthfully addressed and resolved. She trusts that the people in the group will be honest, say what they need to say and listen to what is being said--not carrying hidden (or not so hidden) resentments or grudges.

The two of us learned this lesson from our previous marriages and when we got together, decided that we weren't going to repeat our old patterns that had been so harmful to our previous relationships.

We decided that we were going to talk about what was happening and not let resentments build. We were going to open to each other, even though it can be very hard at times, and not shut down and leave--either physically or emotionally especially when things get tough.

This is exactly what happens within this group of friends, as well. When something happens that upsets one or more of us, we talk about it and work through any issue or problem.

Our relationships with each other are just important not to do this.

We know that you've experienced walking into a room with unspoken resentments hanging thick in the air between two people--maybe one of those people being you. One of the biggest lessons we've learned is to try to "clear the air" as soon as possible so that we are able to connect again with each other, as well as with other people--without closing our hearts.

The possibility of closing our heart is always the BIG challenge with relationship or life lessons. We have something happen and we say to ourselves "I'm not going to go through that again." And then we allow what just happened to close us. We close our hearts to life and love in ways that keep us from having true connections of the heart with the very people with whom we could have full, rich connections with.

We think that it's important for you to take a few moments and answer these questions for yourself.

So what is your biggest relationship lesson that you've learned?

Has it opened or closed you?

If you are in a committed relationship, talk it over with your partner. If you aren't currently in a relationship, talk it over with a friend.

Take some time to honor and appreciate what you have learned and if you aren't "doing" what you learned and the "doing" of it would help you connect more with others, we suggest that you make a new commitment to it.

Life and relationships are full of lessons. Which ones are you paying attention to?

We all have relationship lessons that we learn along the way. Some of these lessons open us to deeper relationships with others and some close us and keep us separate. What we've discovered is that it's not only important to recognize our lessons as we are in the midst of learning them but to also allow these lessons to open us to greater and deeper friendships and love

This is Normal

Many people don't realize this yet but...

One of the most important things that we've learned by being together is that having love and connection can be "normal" in our lives and that this is possible for anyone if they choose.

We thought about this idea just the other day as we were reading in this month's issue of Oprah magazine an article with Oprah interviewing the soul singer Mary J. Blige.

In this interview, Mary talks about her transformation and how she went from blaming other people for her circumstances and feeling sorry for herself to taking responsibility for every part of her life.

"Normal" for her was carrying around an attitude that hadn't served her mother and certainly didn't serve her. According to the interview, she drank too much to cover her lack of self-confidence and went though life as a victim, holding onto a lot of anger and unforgiveness. All of this pain and rawness came out in the songs she sang.

According to the article, her transformation is reflective in every part of her life, especially in the songs she sings now. She told Oprah that because she is singing more positive kinds of songs she has lost a million fans when she released her "Love and Life" album but gained fans who are asking "How do we get free?"

In our words, Mary has chosen to make love "normal" in her life. She said, "I've gotta love me more than anybody else loves me" and we think that those certainly are powerful words to live by.

So, we ask you these questions...

Is love "normal" in your life?

If it isn't, what can you do to start making it that way?

If it is, what can you do to keep it "normal"?

If you are interested in creating more love in your life and want to make love "normal," here are some questions and ideas that we'll toss your way to get you thinking about how you can begin doing this:

1. Is there something that you need to stop doing or start doing that will bring more love into your life, which includes loving yourself? Mary J. Blige decided to quit drinking excessively and to come home instead of staying out "partying" all night after a concert. We choose every morning to connect in a way with each other that keeps our connection strong and healthy.

2. Is there someone you need to open your heart to more? In this interview with Oprah, Mary said that she has issues hearing her husband but that she's growing. She said that she came from a family of women who were fighters and that they didn't listen to men. So in our way of thinking, opening her heart more is opening to listening to her husband without old judgments and attitudes creeping in that have nothing to do with him.

You might be estranged from someone who used to mean a lot to you. You might be in a marriage or relationship and the two of you seem to be going through the motions and not really connecting.

Whatever it is in your relationship (or even if you don't have a significant other), there is always space, if you're willing, to open your heart more and allow more love in.

3. Is there anything that you are accepting as "normal" that you no longer want to accept as "normal" in your life? Mary J. Blige accepted her life of blame, feeling sorry for herself and excessive drinking as "normal." When she overheard her now husband say that if she came home drunk again after staying out all night, he was leaving, she decided to change what was "normal" for her.

Both of us chose to no longer accept an intimate relationship that wasn't close, connected and passionate as "normal." We choose in every moment to do the things that help us to keep our relationship alive and growing--that's what's "normal" for us now.

We invite you to consider what you have accepted as "normal" and decide what you truly want in your life.

Losing It and Finding It Again In Your Relationships

Here's an interesting question...

Have you ever lost your keys or something that you needed?

Of course you have. We all have.

But, a fascinating next question may be-- Have you ever lost your identify?

We don't mean losing your identity because of "identity theft." We mean "your Identity " in a relationship or marriage.

Before you say no, consider this and then ask yourself this question again...

This past weekend, we visited Asheville, North Carolina and had a wonderfully enjoyable time visiting the city, as well as the surrounding mountains.

One of the marvelous things that we observed about Asheville was the diversity of people, restaurants and shops. There were people who were pierced, tattooed and dressed in black, those who were expensively dressed, as well as tourists in shorts and athletic shoes, like us.

As for the restaurants--it seemed that you could get any type of food from any corner of the world. We sampled everything from Mexican/Caribbean, Middle Eastern, German to raw vegetarian and of course the home-made chocolates.

What was very apparent was that these groups of people, as well as the restaurants and shops, each had their very strong identity and we found it exciting to experience those differences.

Can you guess what happens in many relationships and you might not even be aware of it when it happens?

We lose our individual identity and melt into someone who we think the other person might love.

Whether it's our parent, our spouse, a date, a friend, a co-worker, a boss--it's sometimes tempting to act from who we think the other person wants us to be. This can eventually cause built-up resentment that can either show up in the form of anger and rage or withdrawal and passive-aggressive actions toward the other person.

Whatever the result, it's simply not healthy for us to deny who we really are.

We received a question about this subject from a newsletter subscriber and here's what she said...

"Whenever I'm in a relationship, I find that I lose my identity. When I analyze it, it seems to be a fear of being hurt."

No matter what type of relationship, this is a common problem that many people face. They may not be aware of it when it is happening, but one day they might wake up and feel the distance from others and who they really are.

So how do you NOT lose your identity when you are in relationships with people?

Here are some ideas...

1. Before you agree to do something, check in with yourself to make sure that you truly want to do it. Sometimes it's so much easier to just agree to do something rather than say what you are truly feeling and wanting. Don't get into the habit of agreeing to just keep the peace. It will eventually back-fire on you.

2. Do something every week that you are truly passionate about. Whether it's dancing, reading, singing, cooking, doing needlepoint, walking in nature, fishing, playing sports--take some time to do what really excites you. Even if your partner doesn't enjoy this activity, take some time for yourself.

This doesn't mean that you don't do things that you and your partner mutually enjoy together. All we are suggesting is that you create your life in a balanced way, not forgetting about what truly holds passion for you while connecting with those you love.

3. If there is fear that someone may not like who you truly are and you might lose them if you don't play the role that you think you need to play to keep them, it might be time to rethink that relationship. You may be making a lot of assumptions about what the other person is thinking and feeling.

Even if your fears are founded in truth, you have to decide whether keeping up the pretense is worth it to you.

We invite you to re-discover your particular identity and if you have kept it hidden, allow it to begin to emerge.

We've discovered that our relationships and lives are so much richer as we continue to make sure that we keep our identities in tack--even in our very committed, connected, loving relationship.

Communicating When There are Differences (and There Always Are!")

Whether we realize it or not, we're all different. Even though we may fall in love and feel a deep connection with someone, we each bring different experiences, beliefs, and ways of looking at life to the relationship.

Recently, we received a question from someone who wanted to know how to better her communication with a person from another culture. She said that when he asks her a question, she'll give an "out of the blue" answer and that she is also negative about a lot of topics that they discuss.

She wanted help in making changes because she didn't want to lose him.

Even though there may be particular communication challenges between two people of different cultures, our answer would be the same to people of the same culture who were asking how to communicate better with a partner.

Whether you realize it or not-- we're actually all from different "cultures." If you don't think so, here's a very simple example that actually happened from our own lives that illustrates this point beautifully.

The other day, Otto said that he's was going to buy a "mixer" and Susie's daughter, who does a lot of baking, thought that he was going to buy a nice kitchen appliance for making bread. As it turns out, he was actually going to buy a Yamaha mixer for the sound studio in our home.

After a moment of explaining what Otto was going to the mall to buy, it all made perfect sense to her. What this situation shows is that sometimes even the simplest of things can cause miscommunication and disconnection.

With that in mind, here are some simple communication ideas that we use to help us keep our connection and to reconnect when we lose it. We offer them to help you create better communication in your relationships...

1. When you don't understand a question or a meaning behind a question or even a word, stop and ask ,"What does that mean to you?"

When Otto use to hear the word "budget" during our conversations about our business, he would emotionally shut down. Susie didn't understand why he had such an emotional charge over a simple word that had no emotional charge for her until he explained how he perceived that a "budget" was always held over his head in his past sales jobs.

When his assigned meaning to the word became clear, we understood each other a lot better and could communicate about our finances from a whole new place.

Sometimes, we assume that we know the meaning behind someone's question or even a word they use--and we really don't. Our assumptions create misunderstandings and cause us to disconnect from each other.

So, if you aren't clear about what someone is asking you, ask for clarification. They will appreciate it.

2. If you have a problem communicating with someone, maybe over a specific topic, pay particular attention to the judgments that are going on in your mind. If you find that you are demeaning the person even in your mind, stop yourself and bring your heart and mind into a neutral space.

Bringing your heart and mind into a neutral space is not something that most of us have been taught to do. Even if you know how to do it, it's sometimes difficult to remember to do it.

Recently, we were in a group of people and we were discussing a topic that we held different view points from others in the group. Instead of judging and blaming those people because we didn't think like they did, we shifted into a neutral space, realizing that each one of us can hold our own beliefs and we don't have to convince anyone of anything.

It would have been very easy for one or more of us to get triggered, become upset and feel hurt and disconnected from each other. This didn't happen because none of the people involved in the discussion made the other people wrong for their opinions, viewpoints and ways of looking at life. We all shifted into neutral.

3. When you communicate, have it as your intention to connect with the other person. Whether we realize it or not, our conscious and unconscious intentions are very powerful. We may have it as our intention to "be right" or to be superior to another and not even realize it.

If you find that you are triggered by what someone is saying, look inside and question what your intention is for the discussion. Is it to find out more about the person? If it is, then listening with an open heart without judgment is important. Is it to create a deeper connection with the person? If it is, then making sure that you are coming from your heart rather than your head is important.

Communication with others, especially our loved ones, can be very tricky and it is where all of our patterns tend to show up.

We suggest that if you are having communication challenges and want to create closer and more connected relationships, try some of our suggestions and see what happens.

One Moment of Understanding...

Have you ever found yourself reacting in a negative way, time and time again, to something that your loved one, a friend or co-worker says or does?

You might feel hurt, angry, disappointed or upset and you might even express those feelings, but nothing changes.

We all have those moments with the people in our lives that surface again and again--and if we look closely, we can start to see patterns and reasons why we react the way we do.

We'll explain with a story from our lives...

Yesterday, Otto had a particular "tone" to his voice that always triggers Susie to tell him (in a defensive way) that he's being condescending and she doesn't like it.

Now it doesn't happen too often anymore, but it did happen yesterday.

What was different yesterday was that instead of Otto getting angry and defensive about what Susie said, he opened to telling her what he was feeling underneath this "tone" in his voice.

She listened and understood. She understood that she had experienced the tone of his voice as condescending because it reminded her of the way her father had spoken to her at times when she was much younger.

She understood what Otto was feeling and separated this experience from the way she felt as a child with her father.

There certainly was a new "melting" between us around this particular pattern that we've been running since we've been together.

Yesterday, It came down to a simple moment of understanding that made all the difference for us.

So, is there a pattern in your life with someone that you'd like to change?

If there is, here are some suggestions that have helped us...

1. Be willing to look beyond what is happening in this moment. Is this a familiar feeling that came up with people from your past and is now repeating itself?

2. Be willing to feel what you are feeling and not hide behind your "story" and your excuses.

3. Be willing to risk saying what you are feeling instead of lashing out with anger or sarcasm at the other person.

4. Be willing to open to listening with your heart to what the other person is saying without criticizing or judging.

5. Be willing to let go of your old pattern. Just let it drop away and choose to love instead of separate yourself from the people in your life.

This of course means that you never allow physical or emotional abuse in your life. Choosing to love yourself in this case may mean getting out of that harmful situation.

We're sharing our experience with you in the hopes that if it resonates with truth for you, you will begin to make some positive shifts in your relationships.

The Courage to Change

Sometimes all it takes to create the life or relationships that you really want is one simple change.

Sometimes the changes that are required are small and subtle and some times much bigger.

What we've discovered is that if you want to do anything in life or have anything or be anything that you don't have as part of your experience right now, you must change.

What this means is this--don't look outside of yourself for other things and other people to change. Change must begin with you first.

You might want more love, more passion, more trust, more connection, better communication, more spark. Whatever it is that you want, something must change in order for you to have it.

In order for change to happen, you have to use leverage on yourself.

Archimedes said, "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world."

Webster says a lever is "a bar used for prying or dislodging something; a means for achieving one's purpose." A fulcrum is defined as "the support on which the lever turns."

We all stay stuck until we discover or become aware of the lever and fulcrum that will work, as well as the motivation to use them.

Here's a great example from Otto's life of this idea in action...By Otto's own admission, he's not Mr. Fix-it and neither is Susie. So, we've been hiring out large and small jobs around the house that need to be done. A few months ago, Otto decided that he wanted to do some of the small fix-it jobs that didn't require special expertise but he had the fear that he couldn't and that he would mess them up if he tried.

Otto has a long-time friend who is a Mr. Fix-it and so he asked this friend for advice. This friend told him to just do it and if he messes it up, he messes it up. Armed with this advice and a few borrowed tools, over the past couple of months, Otto has gathered the confidence to successfully hang a new door on the garage, replace the electric cord and fix the switch on a lamp that had stopped working, and cut an inch and a half hole in our picnic table that it is the perfect size for an umbrella post to go through to provide shade in the spring and summer. .

So what happened?

Otto's "lever" was his friend's advice to just try it. His "fulcrum" was the support of his friend and Susie as he attempted these jobs. Underneath all of this was his motivation to change. He no longer wanted to rely on other people to do small repairs around the house and live with the excuse that just because his father couldn't do these things, he couldn't either.

What does all this have to do with improving your relationships?


Just like anything that we want to change or improve in our relationships-- before any of these odd jobs around the house could be done by Otto, he had to change.

What he changed were his thoughts, attitudes and beliefs about his abilities and he also sought the help and support he needed to complete these small jobs. Now (if he chooses) he can now begin to think about bigger and more complicated jobs and projects that need to be done around the house.

Remember that things do not change. We change.

When we take a stand for what we're willing to do or have in our lives, more often than not that is what we create-- whatever we're committed to having.

If you are wanting to make some changes for the better in your relationship or life, here are some simple tips for making changes:

1. You have to have the motivation to change and you have to believe you can do it . You also have to believe that you deserve what the change could bring you.

2. You have to watch the stories you tell yourself about the change you want to make and not allow them to sabotage your efforts.

3. Discern whether the voice in your mind is from your fears or for your higher good. Bring yourself into the present moment when a fear or limitation comes up and discover whether this fear is actually true or not--right here, right now.

3. Take a small step toward what you want if the big step is too big.

4. Find your reason(s) that you want to change. Sometimes your reason why may be something as simple as making the decision to say yes to you.

5. Be willing to change and to allow something new in your life. We often get comfortable and fear change, although there may be a feeling inside that is telling us that we want something better.

What do you want to change in your life and relationships?

Before you can change anything in the physical world, you have to change your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that will allow you to create it--and you have to allow the lever and fulcrum to show up in your life.

We were just listening to Tracy Chapman's song "Change" and we think that this song says a lot about change and the motivation to change...

Here are the first few lines from her song...

"If you knew that you would die today
If you saw the face of God and love
Would you change?
Would you change?

A Matter of Choice...

Because this is a relationship newsletter, we like to give you things to think about that will help you create more love and better relationships in your life.

Most people take the date of their birth for granted because usually a person's birthday is not a matter of choice, but in our friend' Sally's case, that's not exactly what happened.

Our friend Sally's mother died this week and when she was searching through her mom's drawers to find vital papers she found her own birth certificate. When she looked at it, she was shocked because she discovered that her birth date was actually the day after the day she had always been told it was.

Although Sally cannot ask her mom how and why this happened, she can only guess that since the time of birth on her birth certificate was 12:01am on March 21 and her mom's labor obviously happened on March 20, the date that had stuck in her mom's mind was March 20--despite what was stated by the hospital.

Since Sally's mom was noted to be stubborn in a lot of ways, this certainly wasn't out of character for her to hang onto a different birth date for Sally than what it truly was.

When we heard Sally's story and how her mom had made an obvious choice of when to celebrate her birthday that was different from what was on her birth certificate, we were reminded about how much many of us think we don't have many choices in our lives but actually everything we do is a choice.

Here's what we mean...

--You have a choice each day how you will treat your loved ones. Will you take your loved ones for granted or will you stop what you are doing and pay attention to them when you are together?

We're always reminded of Thorton Wilder's play "Our Town" when we think about cherishing every moment with the people in our lives. If you don't know the play, check it out at the library. It's good food for thought.

--You have a choice how you will react to someone when they are angry with you.

Will you react in ways that separate the two of you or bring you closer together? Will you react from old ways of being and on automatic pilot rather than making your words and actions a choice?

--You have a choice whether to let go of old resentments and old relationships that have ended or hold on to them.

Often times, we don't realize that we are carrying around resentments until they come out in angry words filled with deep hurt. Even if we might realize that we've been carrying around resentments from current or past relationships, we don't choose to do anything to let them go. Somehow, we take on the logic that if we let those resentments go, the person who is "at fault" will be let off the hook--so to speak.

Whether it's an old resentment from a current or past relationship that was never resolved, you can make that choice now to look at what happened and bring compassion for both of you to the situation. Carrying around past hurts can physically and emotionally harm you and we invite you to make the choice to let those go in a healthy way.

--You have the choice whether to open yourself to love in every moment or not. Our friend Sally could have resented her mother for keeping her "real" birth day from her for 50 years but she didn't. She chose to see the humor in it and appreciate her mom for who she was.

In our new "How to Heal Your Broken Heart" book and audio package, Otto did an interview about forgiveness with therapist Leslie Karen Sann and something she said applies here. She said, "Bumps in the road are a part of life. It's how we relate to the issues that's the issue."

It's really whether we choose to look at what is happening with love or whether we choose to look at it with fear--It's really that simple.

Although one of your choices in life is probably not the day you were born, we invite you to look at every moment as a conscious choice, Are you choosing love or choosing fear? The choice is yours to make.

Attraction and What It Means in Your Relationship

There seems to be a lot of talk these days about "attraction" and "manifesting" and when it comes to love and relationships we're absolutely fascinated with these two ideas and how they relate to each other.

What we've discovered is that when it comes to attraction and our relationships (both current and future), attraction can come in all shapes and sizes. Most of us never stop to realize that we're ALL manifesting and attracting all the time. The funny thing is we just don't think of the results we're getting in our life and relationships as manifesting or attracting.

In most cases, we also don't take the time to consciously consider what attracting is and what it means in our relationships.

Recently, we received this question and it caused us to think about what attraction really means in relationships.

Here's the question...

"I have a friend who seems to be confused what a relationship is all about. He expects to find someone that he feels in his heart he's passionate about and then go into the relationship and eventually marry that person. Shouldn't a relationship start with a friendship, get to know that person and maybe feelings of passion come about? What he seems to be looking for is love at first sight - which is nice but nearly impossible."

It's obvious that this person has her idea of what attraction is all about and that relationships should begin with friendship--and her friend has a totally different idea.

In our opinion, neither idea is right for everyone and neither is wrong for everyone. They are just different ways of viewing love and attraction.

In this culture, attraction in an intimate relationship is usually defined as being a sexual attraction between two people. The belief that many people have is that it's normal for this attraction to die after years of being together.

While we absolutely know that this type of attraction can die after awhile if both people neglect their relationship, it doesn't have to.

For the purposes of this conversation, we think that this definition for attraction can and should be broadened. Like we said earlier--we are ALL attracting all the time. The question for most of us becomes "Is what we're manifesting what we want?"

The dictionary says that to attract is "to draw to or toward oneself" and we think there are many, many reasons why we draw people into our lives, especially into intimate relationships, and stay with those people for many years and we may not realize why.

Here are just a few of those reasons...

1. To be loved
2. For s-e-x
3. To be taken care of emotionally or physically
4. For financial reasons
5. For friendship
6. For passion
7. To take care of someone else
8. To feel safe and secure
9. For connection

So what does all of this have to do with you and your relationships?

We think plenty and here's why...

If you are wanting to attract a person into your life who you truly want to be with, be clear about what it is you want. Although we cannot control the chemistry we have going on with another person, we can become very clear about what we want in an intimate relationship, how we want to be treated, and our definition of what it means to be in an intimate relationship.

If you are and have been in an intimate relationship where s-e-x-u-a-l attraction seems to have lessened or it might even be non-existent--you may want to take a few minutes to discover what the attraction currently is between the two of you. Your attraction may have nothing to do with passion, but have everything to do with friendship or feeling safe and secure.

You may be happy with what you find but If you find that you are wanting something different from your relationship, then it's time to see how your partner feels and reach for something new together or maybe something that was there before and has slipped away.

Understand that we have attracted everything we have in our lives but that certainly doesn't mean that we place blame on ourselves or that we can't have what we want.

You can attract what you want into your life and knowing what you want is certainly a good place to begin.

After you know what you want then the next step is usually to remove the blocks to having what you want.

What we've discovered is that most of us don't think that we're the problem but more often than not-- it's our own ability to get out of our own way that is the problem.

We'll be talking more about this in future issues of this newsletter but know that every one of our relationship books, courses and programs listed below are all intended to help you create the kind of love and relationships that you really want.

Why Are Apologies So Important?

It seems almost silly to say this about relationships but a big key to having successful relationships is in knowing when and how to apologize.

Perhaps even more important than the "when" and "how " to apologize is the "why" to apologize.

In this article we're going to talk briefly about all three things because apologies and being willing to apologize is an often overlooked way to heal a relationship of any kind.

It's just a fact of life-- things happen in our relationships and life that upset us. Sometimes we will be the person who feels "wronged" and other times we will feel like the "wronger."

No matter what kind of relationships are you in, you will inevitably have the opportunity (or many opportunities) to either give an apology or receive one. These apologies can be about big events that have happened or can be about very small infractions and disagreements.

Apologies are important because when they are sincere and include a way to make amends, they pave the way for connection and trust-- or at the very least a "clearing of the air."

When people either don't make the apologies that they need to make or they make them and then nothing changes, those relationships start dying and mistrust usually sets in--preventing a connection of the heart.

Since we are relationship coaches and are passionate about helping people create great relationships, we'd like to give a few pointers about apologies that we've learned along the way--from our own lives, the lives of our coaching clients and from other personal growth teachers.

Here's what we recommend for the person who has wronged another...

1. Understand that an apology is for both of you. Although you may have thought that an apology is for the person who was wronged, we don't think so. Both people usually carry hurt, anger and resentment about the situation or misunderstanding. If the person who was the "wronger" in this instance doesn't apologize and "get it off their chest", they may carry around guilt, pain and a weight that can influence all of their relationships and even their physical health.

Ultimately, you can't control the other person's reaction to your apology but you can and probably should make amends to that other person in your life if you feel that you've said or done something harmful to them that one or both of you are still holding onto.

2. Make sure that your motivation for apologizing is clear to you. Are you trying to get something in return? Do you honestly mean what you are saying? Are you honestly willing and prepared to make some changes?

The complaint that we often hear from people around this topic is that they've heard too many apologies and nothing changes. If you've been guilty of paying lip-service to apologizing with no commitment to making some necessary changes, find a way to do it differently.

3. Do not be attached to the outcome or to the other person's reaction to your apology. The other person may not accept your apology or open up to you-- or he/she might. Approach apologizing with the attitude that you are going to speak from your heart and cannot control how the other person will receive your words. If you do, even if the other person doesn't accept your apology, you will feel lighter and better.

4. Be prepared to listen to what making amends means to the other person without getting defensive. Be clear if you are willing to do what is asked of you and don't promise something that you know you can't do. Get help and support to make the changes that you want to make.

5. Follow through. One of the biggest trust-building secrets is follow-through after an apology and as one expert called it, being predictable. Very simply--Do what you say you are going to do.

For the person who is receiving the apology...

1. Listen with an open heart. Even if you have been very hurt, listen. If apologies are a pattern with no changes, listen anyway and watch for something different.

2. Tell the other person what making amends in this situation means to you. What can the other person do to "make it right"?

3. If the person is willing to make an attempt to change, be willing to bring yourself into the present moment and start over. It doesn't mean that all is forgotten. It does mean that you are willing to open to the possibility of something different.

4. If your relationship has become destructive to you and the other person's apology is not based in a sincere desire to change, as well as being willing to get the support to make those changes, then you have the decision of whether to remain in the relationship as it currently is or not.

Apologies can create closer, more loving relationships and they can also help us "clear the air" in our lives. If there are apologies that you need to make in your life right now, we suggest that you take this opportunity to make them consciously.

One final question...

What if you feel that you've been hurt or wronged by someone.

What should you do?

The short answer is-- "tell them" and here's why and how...

The truth is that if something has happened between you and someone in your life that has caused you pain, then your relationship will never be as good as possible until a healing takes place.

If there is something that has upset you, then we think you owe it to them and the relationship to tell them about it. Tell them how they hurt you and what you would like them to do about it to make amends.

We're not suggesting that you "dump on them" or to take all your pain and put it back on them as a way to get back at them. In our experience this is counter-productive and will only cause more pain.

What needs to happen is for you to tell that other person about your pain from a place within you that wants, love, reconnection and healing about what happened.

Theres a big difference between these two ways of letting that other person know about your pain.

One separates and divides the two of you even more and the other way will bring the two of you closer.

In a short article like this we can't say everything that needs to be said about apologies. So, if you're interested in learning more abut trust building or communication, you can check out our relationship trust-building book and audio package or Communication Magic book and audio package.

The links to find out more about both of these packages are below in our relationship resources section.

Yuck or Yum?

The other day, a friend told Otto about a novel by Tom Robbins called "Still Life With Woodpecker." This quote from the book--"There are two mantras in life: Yuck and yum. Mine is Yum"--caught our attention because it says so much about relationships.

Robbins' quote is such a succinct way of saying what we end up teaching in almost every book, course, seminar and coaching session.

Here's what we mean...

At every step of the way --you decide what you don't want, decide what you do want and remove the obstacles to having what you want.

To use the Tom Robbins quote-- It's either a "yuck" or a "yum."

You might be saying "Well that sounds good but in the real world, it's just not that simple."

Of course it's not that simple or everyone would be living the lives and having the relationships that they want--and a lot of people don't.

What we know is that when we empower ourselves to make choices in our lives and our relationships from the point of view of this is a "yum" and I want more of it, we are happier and there is a sense of ease and flow.

Our advice to you is to figure out what makes you go "yum."

Your next question to us might be--"What if my 'yum' clashes with my partner's, my co-worker's, or my family's 'yum?'"

Good question and here's our take on that...

If you ignore what your inner guidance is telling you that your "yum" is to satisfy the needs of someone else, you are putting up walls that will keep you from the intimacy and connection that you may be trying to have with that person or in your life.

Does that mean that you ignore and violate commitments that you've made to others? Does it mean that you go ahead and have that affair or internet relationship or even eat the entire chocolate cake because it's a "yum" for you?

We say no, and here's why...

If this is the case with your "yum," we suggest that you first address the commitment to the other person or to yourself that you are wanting to ignore or violate. If you don't, the chances are slim that your "yum" will continue to be what you really want.

You need to ask yourself if this "yum" is covering up a need or concern that should be addressed and if this "yum" is for your highest good in the long-run. Is this "yum" likely to turn into a "yuck" sooner or later?

As Joseph Campbell said, "Follow your bliss." We would add--Follow your bliss in an empowering way that is authentic and above-board with the people in your life.

That certainly doesn't mean that you have to always get your way above everyone else. What we've discovered is that when we are authentic and speak and act from that place of authenticity, our lives and relationships have a way of working out for the best for all concerned.

Can you encourage more "yum" in your life?

Of course you can!

One of our coaching clients told us that she noticed that her husband hadn't been wearing his wedding ring for the past few weeks and she was worried that he was having an affair. In the past, when things like this came between the two of them, our client would allow fear to paralyze her and then all of a sudden, she would find that she was in a rage about the least insignificant thing.

What she did this time was different.

She asked him about his ring without accusing him of anything. Because of his past experience with her rages, he told her he didn't know. She asked him again and finally he told her that he had stopped wearing his ring because he hadn't known how committed she was to their relationship.

She didn't get upset by what he told her as she might have done in the past. She calmly reassured him that she was very committed to their marriage--more than she ever had been.

What started out as a potentially "yuck" situation turned into a healing "yum" because both people let their guard down and were authentic with one another. In this situation, they both moved toward what they wanted more of.

Know that you can have more of what you want in your life and your relationships. You can make choices that will bring you closer to what you want rather than take you further away from them.

The choice is up to you!

The Day After...What are You Going to Do With it?

Yesterday was Valentine's Day which is celebrated all over the world -- So what happened in your life?

Did you surprise your loved one with candy, flowers, dinner out or even a greeting card with sentiments of caring and affection?

Did you do something special for your partner?

Did you feel lonely because you don't have that perfect partner in your life?

Did you ignore the celebration completely, whether you are with a partner or not, and it was just another day?

Whatever your experience was yesterday, it's what you do today and the day after that determines the future of your current or future relationship or marriage.

If you chose to express love to your loved one in one way or another, this is a symbol of what's possible every day of the year. If you and your loved one chose to ignore the celebration of love and it seems to be missing in your relationship, this may be a symbol of what you will continue to experience.

If there's one thing we've learned in our own lives and from the lives of people who work with us in our coaching practice, it's that in order to have a truly close, connected relationship, you need to keep doing things every day to keep your love alive and growing.

If you aren't in an intimate relationship and yesterday was disappointing and you're glad it's over, then we suggest that today you express love to the people who are in your life. It is true--we do get more of what we practice and love certainly falls into this category as well as anything you might learn.

We've been fascinated by watching the Olympic athletes compete to win metals for their country's team.

Did they learn their sport overnight? Of course not.

Do they have to practice everyday? Of course they do.

Believe it or not--the same thing holds true for having great relationships.

Here are some really simple ideas for carrying on the spirit of Valentine's Day TODAY AND EVERY DAY that can build a close, connected relationship. They are simple but worth repeating because we forget to do them in our busy lives...

1. Look at the people in your life when you talk with them--especially the people close to you--your partner, your children

2. Be appreciative when they do something special for you. Stop what you are doing, open your heart, and thank them.

3. Do something nice for someone today. Maybe you've been thinking about doing something or sending a card to someone and haven't taken the time to do it. Take the time today.

4. Move past your habitual responses and truly listen to your loved ones. Do it differently today.

What we wish for all of you is to have the love and happiness that you want in your life. No matter what relationships you currently have, there is always a way to make them better.

We wish you love on this day after.

Relationship Advice So Easy-- Anyone Can Do This To Improve Their Relationship.

One of the biggest challenges many people face that gets in the way of them creating the kind of relationship they really want is that they take on the attitude of "why even try" because getting what they want seems so overwhelming.

It's been said that a journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step. For some people who want to make their relationships better and are overwhelmed, even that first step seems so difficult, if not impossible.

With that in mind, we want to introduce you to a very simple shift in thinking. If you apply it, this shift will help you create the kind of love and relationships that you really want.

Here's a totally unrelated example from our own lives to explain what we're talking about...

Listening to good music has always been important to us and has given us a great deal of pleasure.

Since we started buying recordings of music concerts of our favorite artists on dvd, we decided that we wanted to upgrade the sound on our television. The problem was--since we're in the middle of so many projects in our relationship coaching business, most of the sound systems that we heard in those specialty sound stores sounded great and we loved them but they were also more money that we wanted to spend right now on a sound system for our TV.

So, Otto, being the determined person that he is, researched equipment and finally found a small sound system that suited our needs and budget right now. After buying this sound system, we can really enjoy the music of our favorite artists the way we like to hear it.

Is it the best sound system? No, but it certainly is a step up from what we had before.

What does our new sound system have to do with creating great relationships?

We did not give up and quit our dream of having a good sound system for our television just because the ones we really liked seemed out of reach right now.

We found a way to take a step toward having what we wanted and it turned out to be a great improvement over what we had. The simple shift we made was to take one satisfying step forward and appreciate it.

You can do this with any of your relationships, no matter what kind or in what shape they are in right now.

Start by taking a baby step. Discover what you want, make it a priority in your life, take one step toward it and appreciate your progress along with way.

Here's what we mean...

A common problem that many of our coaching clients and people who write to us face is how to deal with a partner who they can't seem to communicate with. Communication might have been easy at one time, but now it seems strained and there is distance between the two people.

What's does it mean to take a baby step when there's a communication "brick wall" between the two of you?

Of course, every relationship is different but there's a simple shift you can make if you want to take a step toward better communication.

Notice one thing YOU do to stop the communication. Here are a few examples:

  • Do you multi-task when you or another person is talking?
  • Does your mind wander when you're supposed to be listening?
  • Do you immediately get defensive and make up stories about what the person said without asking for clarification?
  • Do you insist that you are right and the other person is wrong?
  • Do you find yourself judging the other person?

Taking a baby step to better communication may be saying "Yes, I do this and I'm willing to stop doing it for a week (or even a day) and see what happens."

When you are successful at stopping your habits that get in the way of your communication, make sure that you appreciate yourself for what you've done.

Does this mean that the other person doesn't have any responsibility to change? Of course not. If does mean that if you want changes to happen in your relationships, you need to start by identifying what is holding you back from what you want and then take a small step toward it by changing "you."

Changes in relationships usually don't happen overnight but they do happen if you begin making the shifts that will bring them about.

Go ahead-start reaching for what you want!

Money--A Common Relationship Challenge

Benjamin Franklin once said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

We're guessing that If old Ben Franklin would have been asked about the biggest challenges in relationships and marriages, like a lot of you, he probably would have said that money is one of the biggest "certain" issues that couples fight and argue about.

We recently received an interesting question from one of our newsletter subscribers that is about this very sticky relationship issue.

Our subscriber writes:

"I would like to hear advice on relationships that argue about money. We have been together for two and a half years and I have problems managing my money and he is fed up with it."

We absolutely know where this woman is coming from because the two of us have struggled with this issue since we got together. Not only are we married life partners but also business partners which has compounded the issue!

Like many couples, the two of us approach money and dealing with money from totally different perspectives.

While we certainly don't want to suggest that we have completely resolved this issue and that it doesn't create challenges for us from time to time, we have learned some things that help us to keep our relationship close, connected, alive and growing, in spite of our vast differences concerning our approaches to money.

If you have money issues in your relationship or marriage, here are a few things that we feel could be helpful to any couple with this very common relationship challenge...

1. Recognize that opposites generally attract and that it's no accident that you might be together with someone who has radically different ways of dealing with money. Handling finances is just one area where differences between two people become very apparent -- and irritating.

Even though it's tough to realize--these differences help to create the "spark" between two people, especially if they each learn to appreciate these differences.

We have the philosophy that we can learn from everything and everyone in our lives--either what we want more of or less of. You can learn quite a lot by the way you each handle finances differently.

So we recommend that you look at your differences as an opportunity to grow and not to separate and disconnect the two of you. Take the judgement away and don't make each other wrong.

2. Examine how you handle finances, where you learned your style, and what your beliefs are about money. What do each of you value when it comes to money? This is very important for each of you to do this.

Susie learned her "saving" style from her parents who grew up during the Depression. She's always saving for a rainy day or that unexpected event that may happen.

Otto, on the other hand, learned to spend as he made money. Otto values enjoying his money now.

3. Talk and listen to each other about your differences. It is so important that you understand one another and not make one person wrong and one right.

4. Decide what each of you can and want to do to learn from each other.

To the person who has problems managing money--What is something that you are willing to start doing that you can learn from your partner? Maybe it's something as simple as keeping your bills in a special place and marking on your calendar when they are due. Maybe it's getting some help to create a workable budget. Maybe it's beginning to change the way you think and your beliefs about money and finances.

Otto learned how to spend within what he brought in and to realistically look at his situation when he wanted to buy something.

To the person who is irritated with their partner over the way money is handled--What "strokes" are you getting from being with someone who has problems handling their money? Are you getting the satisfaction of "being right" or superior? Is there something you can learn from how your partner handles money?

On the surface, you may say an emphatic "NO!" but we're inviting you to look underneath.

Susie found that she was getting a great deal of satisfaction from being "superior" about how she handled money verses how Otto handled money. All this caused was a great deal of disconnection between the two of us until we realized that their isn't any "right way." Only the way that works for the two of any given moment.

When she dug a little deeper, she discovered that she could learn a lot about expansion and desire from Otto. When she began to appreciate that aspect of him, our connection deepened even more.

Those are some ideas that we have found to be useful around this topic and if this is a challenge in your relationship, we invite you to try out a few of our suggestions.

Believe it or not--money differences can be a way to come closer together and not continue to separate the two of you if you will begin to make some shifts in the way you approach this issue.

Surprising Thoughts about Relationships From An Unusual Source

Recently Otto was car shopping and the salesman at one of the car dealerships really surprised him with a statement he made about relationships.

While finding out more about what Otto wanted in a new car, the salesman asked Otto what he did for a living.

Otto responded that he was a relationship coach. At first, the salesman was taken aback because he looked as though he thought Otto was a s-e-x expert on one of those 900 calls. When Otto told him was that he was a coach who helped people create outstanding relationships of all kinds through books, seminars and one on one in person and telephone coaching, he seemed relieved.

The salesman then explained that he had had two happy and successful marriages.

He told Otto that his first wife died and that he was currently in another marriage that was just great.

Otto was impressed because what we have discovered is that the number of people who can say that they have been in two happy marriages are few and far between.

When Otto told Susie this story, we couldn't help but become even more aware that this salesman is someone who simply hasn't bought into one of the biggest negative mythologies about relationships.

As we see it, one of the biggest myths about relationships that are happy, harmonious, growing and passionate is that most people think that there is only one person out there for them that they can ever be happy with and even if they do find that person, they only have one shot at this kind of happiness.

They may even believe that they can never find that person and usually end up settling for mediocre relationships because that's all they believe they can have.

The truth is that you have a chance at happiness in every moment, in every day. Even in long-term relationships, we go through many stages where we change, evolve and grow and there is always that chance that the relationship will grow into a deeper, more loving union.

If you aren't currently in an intimate relationship and want to be, you have to opportunity to deepen your happiness in the relationships you are in.

The question then becomes how can your relationship grow in vital and alive ways instead of becoming stale and lifeless?

The truth is that we all change all of the time and it's what we do with those changes that dictate whether the relationship grows and is filled with happiness or becomes lifeless, with both people merely going through the motions.

In order to create an alive, growing relationship, you have to accept, embrace and appreciate that the two of you are changing constantly. Look with wonder at each other and don't assume that you always know everything about each other.

An exercise we recommend to some of our coaching clients who have communication challenges can help you to accept, embrace and appreciate changes as they come along in your life.

We recommend that you both agree to either call one another during the day or talk when you each get home from your work for 15 or 20 minutes each day. Take turns telling each other one positive thing that happened during the day and one thing that you would have liked to have gone differently while the other person just listens.

Listen with your complete attention, not trying to fix anything for the other person. Make sure you turn off the television and move away from the computer and other distractions when you have these discussions.

If you find that you are becoming judgmental and trying to fix each other during this exercise, bring your attention to your heart and open it as the other person is speaking.

Maybe you have fear about opening up to your partner. If you do, breathe and drop your attention into your heart and speak from that place, with the intention to connect with that other person.

If you are single, there's probably someone who you would like to get to know better and might be willing to do this with you so that you might have the chance to experience a deeper connection with someone.

It's a pretty simple exercise but if you allow 15 or 20 minutes each day to do this, you will find out some new things about each other and you will open to growing together.

If you continually do this exercise, it will help you understand where the other person is coming from and what they are coping with. It also helps bring compassion and more love to your relationship and you may even get to know each other in ways you didn't imagine that were possible.

We know that whether you are 18 or 85, great relationships and happiness are possible--and they can happen more than once. You just have to become aware of what you are doing to block love in your life (because believe it or not, we all block love and happiness) and do what you need to do for your relationships to deepen and come alive.

What's Your Relationship Manifesto?

You can find great relationship advice in the most unlikely places if you are just open to the advice and how it relates to other seemingly unrelated areas of your life.

The advice we're drawing from this week is from an article we just read about the band and Musical Duo, "The Eurythmics."

If you're not familiar with "The Eurythmics," they are a band started in 1980 by Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox. Over the past 25 years the British duo have sold 75 million albums and had over 20 international hit singles.

When we read the article about them in the Jan./Feb 2006 issue of the magazine "Performing Songwriter," we were so amazed that their method of guiding their business is also essential to creating relationships that are close, connected, alive and growing--as well as keeping that initial "spark" that tends to get lost in a lot of couples.

According to this article, when Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox started the band, they created what they called "a manifesto"--a list of their intentions, along with their views on music, art and fashion. This list was a guidepost on how they would proceed and make decisions for making the band successful.

Dave Stewart said, "It would have a kind of a yes and a no. We would say yes to Motown, yes to electronic cold European, yes to men's suits. And then we would say no to heavy metal, no to girls' dresses....Every now and then, we'd consult the list if we thought we'd wandered off track."

Not only is this a great way for a band to know if the music they're producing is what they want to be producing but we think this is a really great, practical idea for keeping your relationships, (especially your intimate relationship) alive and growing as well. This is actually what the two of us do on a daily basis to nurture our relationship.

The idea of the "manifesto" is that it gives you an opportunity to consciously decide together what you're about as a couple.

This doesn't mean that you aren't an individual and can't have your own interests. To us, this "manifesto" simply is a guidepost for how you are going to go through life together.

Even if you are single or dating, we suggest that you can use this idea to start creating what you want for your life experience.

So what might be in your "manifesto"?

To give you some ideas, here are a few of the things that are in our "manifesto" and we invite you to create your own:

1. We are monogamous and it's very obvious to others that we are.

2. We do not run away emotionally or physically when things get tough but find new ways to open to each other.

3. We make our relationship and passion a priority in our lives.

4. We tell each other the truth.

5. We spend time every day connecting with each other.

When we make decisions about the direction of our lives, we do as the Eurythmics do and first check whether it's a yes or a no according to our Relationship Manifesto.

Whether you formally write a document or not, we suggest that you talk about what is important to each of you, if you are with a partner, and create your own manifesto. If you are single, we suggest that you write or talk to a friend about what you want in your relationships (any kind of relationship).

If you want relationships that are alive and growing, we offer this idea as a good way to get headed in that direction.

It's What Happens After You Disconnect

It was pretty interesting as we look back on this situation that happened a few weeks ago.

A friend who we don't get to see very often got to see the two of us in a "not so perfect moment." This was a moment when lots of things were going on around us and we both had some opinions and said some things to each other that needed some healing later on.

The short version of the story is that we were disconnected from each other in that moment that our friend was there and it showed.

We all disconnect in various ways from one another from time to time. It's normal. We feel slighted, not loved, unappreciated or any number of things and these feelings create separations from those we love.

Whether it's your intimate partner, a family member, a friend or a co-worker--it happens to all of us.

We've discovered that it's what happens after you disconnect and you get into your "relationship dance" or your patterns that makes the difference whether there will be "spark" or life in your relationship or not in the future.

This has certainly held true both in our own relationship and life and in the lives and relationships of the coaching clients that we work with in person and by telephone.

Since we're creating a series of teleseminars on how to keep the spark in your relationship and how to get it back if it has faded, it started us thinking that one of the important ways to do that is to pay attention to what happens after you disconnect.

Recently, one of our coaching clients became disconnected from a friend he worked with. Our client's friend became very angry with him for something that our client had done. In turn, our client became angry because he just couldn't figure out what he had done that was so bad.

Pretty common scenario--Right?

No matter what type of relationship it is, it's what happens after the disagreement or disconnection that will determine whether the relationship grows or dies.

Here are some tips on what to do and how to come back together after a disagreement that we used after our disconnection and we offer them to you to try so that your relationships keep growing in healthy ways:

1. What the disagreement or disconnection happens, stop yourself from responding in old, harmful ways that have done nothing but keep the two of you apart. Instead, take a few deep breaths. If you do respond in old harmful ways, take a moment to recognize that you have done so.

2. Let go of clinging to the idea of being right. Everyone sees things differently and looks out at life through different lenses. Chances are, the person you had the disagreement with thinks he/she is just as "right" as you are. So don't cling to your "rightness" and possibly lose the relationship.

3. After you have yourself under control, listen to the person with an open heart and open mind. Hard to do sometimes but absolutely necessary if you are going to keep your relationship healthy.

4. Take responsibility for your part in this disagreement-- even if it's just to tell the other person that you can understand how they may feel the way they do. Tell how you were feeling and any circumstances that the other person might not know about that may have precipitated the disagreement.

5. Be open to exploring how you both can repair your relationship and make it better. If you come to this discussion with a strong desire to come back together and a sense of possibility, some ideas will emerge that will help your reconnection.

These are just a few ideas around this topic and if you want to learn much more, sign up for our f-r-e-e teleseminar that we mentioned in the news and notes section of this newsletter.

Make Your Relationship a Celebration!

What important relationship building strategy can you learn from observing a football bowl game?

--A pretty good one that could help you create more love and a better relationship for you in the new year if you just think about and apply a few simple ideas.

Here's what we're talking about...

Most people living near where we live in Ohio are Ohio State Buckeye football crazy. Whenever the Buckeyes play, people fly banners from their houses and cars and gather together around their televisions or in bars or restaurants to watch the game. This year's Fiesta Bowl was no exception.

Even if you aren't a football fan and you live in Ohio, you couldn't help but be impacted. It was a huge event in our state because the people made it so. They looked forward to the game, created parties, served special "game" food, and talked about the game when they met people the next day.

What does all this have to do with building better relationships?


And our question to you is this . . .

Do you make your relationships as important as many of the people in Ohio made this Fiesta Bowl a few days ago?

In our opinion, this is what it takes to keep relationships alive, growing and filled with connection. One of the best ways to do this is to regularly celebrate each other and the relationship.

Even if things aren't "perfect" between the two of you, find things to celebrate about each other and your relationship. In our opinion, we are in relationships to heal, learn and grow and that may involve some times of disconnection and distance.

While this disconnection and distance might be "normal," it's what you do to reconnect that can make a difference in your quality of life. We've found that regular celebrations are a great way to reconnect and keep your relationship strong.

Here's what we mean--

By the time most couples have been together as long as we have been, the spark would have faded away and they would have settled into a groove that would make their relationship "normal" and in many cases much less than it could be.

This isn't the case in our relationship. Even though we've been together several years at this point, we still have a strong, vibrant, alive and growing relationship.

We're not going to suggest that there is never any conflict or challenges because that simply isn't true.

We have them like everyone else, but our relationship and our connection is so important to us that we do the kinds of things we tell you about in our newsletter and in our books and courses to keep it strong and vibrant.

Here's an example of what we do...

Every morning, we choose to take time to celebrate each other and give thanks for the life we have together. We take that time to connect with each other and to express our love.

While we realize that not everyone has the luxury of this time together each morning, we do know that it's really important to carve out some time together each day or each week to reconnect and celebrate your relationship.

Even if you are not currently in an intimate relationship, you can do this with the important people in your life.

You can have a "celebration" for any reason at any time and you can do it whenever you want just because you want to.

We're big believers that if you set your Intention for what you want and simply remove the blocks to your having it that you can have, do or be anything and this definitely includes a great relationship.

We invite you to come up with your own ways to regularly celebrate each other and your relationships. If you do, we think that you will see exciting changes in your life.

Valentine's Day--What's Your Commitment?

Whether it's the traditional fresh flower arrangement, chocolates or dinner out--or maybe even an entire romantic weekend get-away--because Valentine's day is just around the corner, it's almost expected that we do something nice for our partner or loved one.

In our way of thinking, while this gift-giving is all well and good, what's even more important is to look deeper than simply giving gifts to each other and to examine and renew your commitment to your loved one and to your relationship.

Because we're in the middle of our teleseminar series on "How to get the spark back in your relationship," we are focused on helping people create closer, more connected relationships and renewing that alive feeling they may have had once for each other.

One thing we know for certain is that examining what you are committed to in your life and where your relationship fits into your commitments is essential if you want to start finding or keeping that spark.

The same examination holds true if you are single and want to connect with a future partner and create a close, connected relationship.

For example, Joyce (one of our coaching clients) said that she wanted a close relationship with her husband but there just never seemed to be enough time for it.

She and her husband just seemed to have brief conversations, often with their backs to each other, as they moved from one activity to another. Joyce seemed to be busy from the time she got up until she went to bed and there just didn't seem to be an opportunity to connect with her husband. Although she wants a closer relationship with her husband the way it used to be, she's often just too tired to even talk with him before she goes to bed.

If Joyce were to really look at her life and how she spends her time, she would see what she is committed to. She may be committed to having a spotless house or being an officer for a community organization or being the best, most successful, most liked person in her office.

Whatever it is--all these things have become more important than her relationship with her husband.

Now please understand that we are not picking on Joyce in any way or for her choices of how she spends her time and energy. We are only pointing out that if she wants a closer, more connected relationship with her husband and the way it used to feel, she needs to come into consciousness about her choices. Her husband, of course, needs to do the same.

So often our choices for how we spend our time and energy don't seem like choices at all. They seem to be someone else's choices for our lives.

Even if this is how your life seems to you right now, we think there is probably some wiggle room somewhere in your 24 hours where you can commit to your intimate relationship if it's your desire to do so.

If you are single and want a close, connected relationship with a significant other and it doesn't seem to be happening, we think that it's equally important to take a look at where you might open a space in your life for it to happen.

Here are a few things we suggest if this seems to be a problem for you...

1. Take a few moments and decide what kind of closeness you'd like to have with your partner or a future partner if you are single.

2. Now look at how important this is to you. Are you committed to creating it in your life?

3. List your time commitments and decide how important they are to you and your family. Is there anything that you have been doing that no longer holds passion for you that you might stop doing or do less of it?

4. What is your new commitment to yourself or your partner? What are you willing to do on a daily basis to have what you want?

It's our hope that on this Valentine's Day, you don't merely buy a present for your loved one but that you take this opportunity to re-commit to your relationship in ways that you may not have done so before.

The ' Snap-Back Effect' In Relationships

We were talking with someone recently and shared with him how much we appreciated his contribution to a project we'd all been working on.

At first the person accepted the words of appreciation with gratitude but when we continued our praise, he thought we were joking and insincere. We observed that he could accept some appreciation but it didn't take long before he wouldn't allow himself to believe our positive comments.

We were sincere but it appeared that his internal belief system would only allow just so many good feelings about himself before he shut down emotionally and viewed our comments to not be true.

This is what many of us do when it comes to our relationships. When things start going really well, we do or say something that sabotages those good feelings and snaps us back into more familiar and comfortable roles and feelings.

You may be asking yourself right now--"Why wouldn't everyone want to feel good all the time?" and "Why would feeling bad be comfortable?"

There are many possible reasons why someone would sabotage something that's going well, but one of the main reasons is the belief that "I don't deserve the happiness, the praise, the passion, the good feelings, etc."

Many people are afraid that their relationship won't last or they feel that he or she will leave them anyway so somehow, either consciously or unconsciously, they do something to push the other person away. We've seen that this happens a lot when jealousy is involved or when there's a lack of commitment.

We allow fears--such as fear of abandonment (either physically or emotionally), beliefs such as "I'm not enough," "I don't deserve happiness" and so on --to keep us from having the great relationships that are available to all of us.

If it were not for our fears and our self limiting belief systems, we would all have outstanding relationships.

While we are continually working on this within our own relationship, we'll offer you a few suggestions that have helped us.

The obvious thing would be to first identify your beliefs and fears that are holding you back from having the relationships and life that you want.

Once you've identified these beliefs and fears, then we would invite you to explore whether you are willing or not to allow them to keep you from having the relationships and life that you want.

In every relationship that you have (even the one you have with yourself), we urge you to start being as conscious as possible in all ways. Consider whether your words and actions will build the relationship into a stronger connection or weaken and possibly destroy it.

We're very fond of saying that "everything we do either brings us closer to or further from the love and relationship that we want."

The idea is to always be doing the kinds of things that bring us closer to the love we want instead of further from it.

If you don't have the kind of relationship that you want, then you can create something different starting right now.

What we've discovered is that Identifying the fears we have and our limiting beliefs will go a long way toward helping us do this.

©2006 by 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 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001. Other Relationship Issues, Books

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