Susie & Otto


The Motivation To Change or Improve Your Relationships

How do you find the motivation to change?

What is the secret for making changes in our relationships and lives?

Why does is usually take something "big" to happen to us get us to shift from where we are to something much better?

The answers to these questions may surprise you because...

After learning to become active participants and observers in both our own lives and in the lives of our coaching clients and countless others...

What we've learned is that we and almost everyone we've ever met are slow to change (if we ever do) -- even when it's in our best interest to do so.

Most of us wait until it's almost too late before we make the changes we think or feel we should have made all along.

What we've noticed is that at various times in our lives, each of us is given an opportunity to "wake up" to all the love and joy that is possible--if we take advantage of it.

If you're like most people, that "opportunity" usually comes in the guise of a catastrophe in our lives like divorce, a car wreck, cancer (or any other serious illness) or even the death of a loved one.

Although we certainly don't consciously want these things to happen or consciously create them, most of us need something like that to jolt us out of our patterns that keep us stuck in limiting and self-defeating thoughts and actions.

Take the singer/ songwriter and performer Melissa Etheridge...

We saw Melissa in concert the other evening and she is a beautiful example of this idea.

Even if you have preconceived ideas about her and what she's all about, there's no arguing the fact that after her bout with cancer, she is a changed woman and is now a radiant example of love and connection who wants to do her part to make the world a better place.

She chose to see her illness as an opportunity to begin living her life as if every moment counts and is precious. She chose to begin cherishing her loved ones and connect more deeply with those around her--including her audiences.

We came away from her concert deeply moved and even more appreciative of the love we have in every moment for each other, our family, friends and everything we hold dear.

Cancer was what it took for Melissa Etheridge to awaken to more love and joy in her life.

But here's what's true...

You don't have to go through cancer, any other life-threatening illness or any other catastrophe in your life to come into awareness of what's possible and live it.

You can be your own catalyst and begin choosing what's important to you and how you want to have your relationships to be and what you want for your life.

Here are some ways and new understandings we think you'll find helpful to begin to awaken without the trauma and drama of the catastrophes in our lives...

1. Know that you are worth it. Know that you are "enough" and that you are worth the love that you want. Most of us have experienced and taken to heart criticism that says we aren't good enough in some way or another.

When self-defeating thoughts come into your mind, simply tell yourself that you are good enough to have love and you deserve to have it.

2. Live in the present moment. We probably say this every week but it bears repeating--and repeating--because most of us (including us) have a hard time doing it!

When your body and mind are anchored in the present and with the person in front of you, you become aware of the joy, pleasure, excitement or whatever in that moment.

If you are constantly in the past or future, you can't possibly experience the happiness from what's happening right now.

3. Be on the look out for small expressions of love Start noticing expressions of love from others in your life. So often we're so focused on what we don't have, we miss small ways that we are loved and cared for. Don't miss what's right in front of your nose.

4. Learn to master the "twin forces of pain and pleasure" in your life We recall from many years ago that Tony Robbins said that the key to creating or accomplishing anything in your life is being able to master these two forces called pain and pleasure in your life.

One thing is for sure... we all have had and will continue to have both pain AND pleasure in our lives. One trick to being happy, successful and creating close connected relationships (or anything else) is to learn to associate more pleasure to the things that will take us toward what we really want and to associate more pain to choices we could make that will take us away from what we really want.

4. Be on the look out for ways to love yourself and others

Ask yourself these questions--

"How can I love myself today?"

"How can I love others today?"

Take time today for one or more expressions of love for yourself and for others.

If you do, the joy and love you receive will begin to show in your very being.

You will awaken to who you were truly meant to be.

Relationship Advice, Life Lessons and Flip Wilson

Sometimes relationship wisdom can come in the most unusual forms and ways.

When you think about brilliant relationship insights, you probably don't think about the late "Flip Wilson" but maybe...just maybe "Flip" was more knowledgable about matters of the heart than anyone previously thought and here's why...

If you aren't familiar with Flip Wilson...

He was a comedian In the 1970's, and was probably most famous for his variety show that ran for several years on NBC television.

On his show, one of the roles he created that was incredibly funny was the character Reverend Leroy, who was the minister of the "Church of What's Happening Now."

Although "parishioners" were wary of coming to the "church" because it was hinted that Reverend Leroy was a con artist, we loved the idea of his "church" and what it can mean to our relationships.

Now we're not being sacrilegious or making fun of anyone's religious or spiritual beliefs when we talk about church and Flip Wilson together in the same sentence.

Usually when we think of a "church," we think of a place that's sacred and important.

Add that to the name Flip gave his invented church--"What's Happening Now"--and you've got a recipe for a great relationship.

Confused? Here's why we believe that...

If we approach life and our relationships with the idea that what's happening now is sacred and important, there's no limit to the love that can be in our lives.

The trouble is that most of us are usually focusing most of our time, effort, energy, and thoughts on what happened in the past or what could happen in the future.

We are usually not living completely in the present moment when we are with the people in our lives and it shows.

We don't listen carefully, we jump to conclusions and we make up a lot of untrue stories about the motivations of others.

We also don't usually treat each moment like it is sacred either, giving it our full attention.

We don't spend quality time with our loved ones because we're so busy running here and there--getting "things" done. We put our important relationships on the "back burner."

What we're suggesting is that you make all aspects of your relationships sacred, important and filled with presence.

When we've talked about this idea in the past, many people have said something like this...

"That all sounds good but my life is too busy. I'm barely able to keep up as it is!"

We can certainly relate to living a busy life but what it comes down to is this...

It comes down to making conscious choices in every moment to be totally present with what is in front of us to do or the person we're with.

Need some ideas about how to do that?

Here are a few ways we practice (and it is something we do practice) being totally with "what's happening now"...

1. Decide that your relationships are sacred and important to you and you want to start practicing being present in every moment, especially with those you love.

There might be some activities that you have been doing that you'd like to stop doing or that you decide aren't as important to you anymore.

You may be able to stop doing those if you examine your motivations for doing them.

Start making more conscious decisions about how you spend your time.

2. Stop multi-tasking. It's tempting to check email when you're on the phone with someone or pick up the clutter in the house while your loved one talks to you.

Take the time to separate the two activities. If you're in the middle of an activity and someone wants to talk with you, either stop what you're doing or explain when you can be fully present with him or her.

3. When your attention wanders to the past or future, gently bring it back to this moment.

Notice we said "when" your attention wanders because drifting into the past or the future certainly is a habit but one you can begin to break.

We've found it helpful to first pull our wandering attention into our hearts, breathe, and then focus on what or who is in front of us.

4. Be open to creating some sacred time with those you love--whether it's your partner, children, relatives or friends--where you just devote your energy and presence to each other.

When Susie got home yesterday after being gone over the weekend, the two of us spent about 30 minutes together reconnecting. We devoted that time to us before going on to other things.

Focusing on what's happening now can be a huge gift for not only the people we are with but ourselves.

Our lives can become richer and more filled with love when we are totally in the moment--or at least bringing ourselves back from wherever we go in our minds.

Even though we may not have founded a fictitious church like Flip Wilson, we all can be more present and in turn more loving in our lives and relationships.

Why Selfishness is Okay

Like it or not, everyone (including you, us and everyone else) is selfish.

We'd all like to think we're not selfish but, we are.

In our opinion, being selfish isn't necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, being selfish can actually be a good thing but here's where the problem with being selfish comes in...

Most of us have grown up with the idea that it's not okay to be selfish. We may have been taught that being selfish is wrong and it's more noble or important to put others' needs above our own.

Along these lines, many of us were also taught that "unselfishness" is the greatest expression of love--or the way to be in relationship, as well as all the other aspects of our lives.

While ignoring another person's feelings and desires can certainly drive a wedge between the two of you, so too can acting without considering your own wants, needs or desires.

What you may not understand or realize is that EVERYTHING that you, we and every one else ever does, is done for selfish reasons.

Even the desire to do something for someone else is always done for our own selfish reasons -- because what we do makes us feel good in some way.

This still doesn't mean this is wrong or "bad." It's just that we find it to be very helpful to know our motivations behind the "why" of what we do.

Many of us have been in situations where we really didn't want to do something but felt we had no other choice.

When you go ahead and do something you don't want to do and your inner guidance is telling you not to do it, your heart is just not in it.

When you agree to do something because you are fearful that the other person will be angry with you, be disappointed with you, or make your life difficult if you don't, you are lying to yourself and ignoring what's truly inside you.

And believe it or not, this can be felt by the other person. Even worse, you may feel resentful and like a victim or martyr in those moments.

Whatever so-called self-less gift you were intending to give to the other person is totally undercut by your true feelings--and no true connection is made.

Monica was constantly "doing" for everyone including her kids and her husband--and she was tired. Not only did she have a full-time job but she was a taxi service for her kids after work and helped her husband with his business in the evenings--plus she looked in on her elderly mother several times a week.

As a lot of women, she had grown up with the idea that the role of a woman was to be completely selfless, always putting her family's needs before her needs.

While she loved being a wife and mother, she was beginning to secretly get resentful of always "doing" for others. She began to notice that she was angrier with her loved ones than she used to be and she didn't know what to do about it.

She didn't want to appear to be selfish but she wanted some time for herself to do what she wanted to do.

If you can relate in any way to Monica's situation, here are some ideas to help you create more of what you want in your life, while keeping you connection with your loved ones...

1. Take a moment to breathe before you automatically say yes! Even if you aren't ready to jump on the "selfishness" bandwagon, we encourage you to pause and take a few moments before you say yes to anything else in your life.

2. Notice what's an internal "yes" and an internal "no." Create an internal way of recognizing your "yes" and your "no." Think of a definite "yes" and notice how that feels inside you. Now think of a definite "no" and notice the difference.

Now tune in to what's being asked of you and notice whether it has a "yes" feel to it or a "no" feel.

Do your best to set aside any judgments about what's "right" or "nice" or "helpful" or "expected."

Just notice the feelings you are experiencing right now. Try to remember that there are many ways for this other person to get what he or she needs. You are not the only avenue to what is being asked for.

When Monica's husband asked if she would pick up his shirts at the dry cleaners after work, before she said yes, she paused, turned her attention inside herself and realized that she felt a loud "no."

Her day was already packed with things to do and she couldn't fit another thing into it.

3. Ask yourself what you want. Learning to listen to yourself--to your wants, needs and desires--is the first step in consciously creating your life. Many of us aren't even aware or think we deserve to have what we want so we go around doing what other people want us to do and living their lives--not our own.

When Monica asked herself what she wanted, she realized that she not only wanted some time for herself but also some connecting time just with her husband, without the kids. She and her husband often went to their kids' activities together but they seemed to never have any time alone.

4. Ask yourself what you are willing to do, taking all of your self-judgments, guilt and expectations out of it.

Monica felt that she didn't have time in her day to pick up her husband's shirts for him. Although she didn't want to disappoint or inconvenience him, she realized that if she did this for him, she would not be able to complete her other commitments and she would resent him.

So she decided that she was not willing to say yes to his request to pick them up today but she was willing to pick them up the next day.

5. Express what you are willing and not willing to do from your heart space--not from guilt, anger or resentment.

When Monica talked with her husband, she was clear that what she had already committed to wouldn't allow her to do as he asked but she could pick them up the next day.

She said all of this with love in her heart for herself and for her husband.

He was surprised but listened to her and agreed that he could find time to pick them up himself.

6. Ask for what you want. If you completely ignore what you want, you are not really serving yourself or your relationship. Your relationship can't grow if you hold back on what you want.

When Monica told her husband that she wanted to have some time, maybe that weekend, for just the two of them to be together, he was excited that she had brought it up. He wanted the same thing but knew how busy they both were and hadn't mentioned it.

They both knew that they needed to revitalize their relationship and this was a good beginning.

So just as damaging as it can be to ignore another person's feelings and desires, it is perhaps even more dangerous to ignore your own.

Knowing what you want doesn't mean you have to stomp on another person's wants. In fact, sometimes when you act from what you truly desire, you find that there is room for everyone's needs to be met.

We suggest that you leave all of your previous notions about selfishness behind.

You might even re-think the whole concept. Tune in to your feelings and what you want. Know that you aren't the only one who could do what seems required of you.

When you act from your heart and with an empowered willingness, not only will you feel better, it is likely your loved ones will too!

Trust and Your Rules

The two of us have been looking at how to create more trust in our lives and in the lives of others for many years but in the last few weeks, we've gotten some true "ah has" that we want to share with you about what trust really is and how to create more of it in your relationships.

Some of these ideas and insights may be pretty far out but stay with us because we think it will all make perfect sense to you.

One of the things we've discovered about relationships is that...

You, we and EVERYONE we've ever known has "rules" for how we want to be in our relationships and live our lives.

In fact, we all have "rules" for everything.

We have "rules" for what's acceptable to us, what we want, what we don't want, how the people in our lives should (and shouldn't) act, how much security we need to feel safe in the world, how often we want to make love, how much money we want or need and everything else in our lives.

Your rules are not necessarily right or wrong. They are the rules you've chosen to act from (usually unconsciously.)

You can learn to consciously choose which rules you want to follow in your life but most of us don't.

With that being said, here are a few of our "ah has" about the part our rules play in building or tearing down trust...

*When a person "trusts" another, he or she has the belief that the other person will act in such a way that is in alignment with his or her "rules" for living.

As long as this other person doesn't violate your "rules" for how you want your relationship or life to be, you say that you "trust" him or her.

*When trust has been broken, what actually has happened is that there has been a rules violation between the two people.

In other words, something either happened or didn't happen that violated one or both peoples' rules for what they want in their relationship and they're upset about it.

"Trust" violations can be small things or they can be much bigger issues that can really damage or destroy a relationship.

For example... failing to pick up the kids early from the baby sitter because of road construction is no where near as big of an issue for most people as it would be if one person was having an extra-marital affair. Infidelity is usually a huge trust and rules violation.

*You can trust in one area but not all areas of your relationship with that person because of something he or she has done or because of your past experiences.

*Creating trust is finding and living in harmony with people who want at least something of what you want, want to live how you want to live and have similar values and "rules" and are willing to live in these ways.

In other words, there is enough of an overlap of the other person's rules that fits with the life you want to create for yourself to create trust between the two of you.

Okay--those are a few of our insights on trust and here are some examples...

**Claire feels strongly about recycling in her home. Her husband and two kids don't feel as strongly about recycling as Claire does (it's not a "rule" for them) but they agree because they see value in doing it--and also Claire has such conviction about it that they want to support her.

Claire trusts that they will recycle but when they slip up every now and then and forget, she doesn't make a big deal of it because she knows it's not their passion but hers--and she sees that they are making a constant, good effort at doing it.

Here's a different example...

When there is conflict between Patty and Bill, they each have different "rules" for how they deal with it. Patty withdraws into silence to let Bill know how much he has hurt her. Bill gets angry and pushes Patty to talk with him.

In this case, Patty is trusting that her silence will communicate her upset to Bill and Bill is trusting that if he just keeps pushing, Patty will open up and talk with him.

They keep doing this over and over again, nothing ever gets resolved and they don't trust each other.

So if creating more trust between two people is finding the overlap in their "rules" for living or changing the rules (only if the changes fit what is wanted for his or her life)...

How do you do that?

Here are a few ideas when there's a trust issue...

1. Take a conscious look at your rules that seem to be in conflict with the other person's rules.

What is the rules violation between the two of you?

In our Bill/Patty example--Bill's rule is that you talk out conflicts until they are resolved and if you don't get cooperation, you push to get it. Patty's silence and withdrawal violates his rule for resolving conflict.

Patty's rule is that Bill should know what he had done and she shows him her upset with her silence and by ignoring him. Bill's pushing her to talk to him violates her rule that he should know what's wrong without her telling him.

2. Find an overlap in your rules, even a small one and build on it.

In our recycling example, there was enough of an overlap in the way the family wanted to live that they could come to an agreement of their rules for living on this topic.

For Patty and Bill, however, they were so stuck that they couldn't see any possible overlap.

3. If there's little or no overlap, take a good hard look at your rules to see if they are serving you--getting you what you want. Change them if those changes are in alignment with how you want to live your life.

Neither Patty nor Bill are getting what they want from their current rules so they each chose to step back and see if maybe another way might work better.

Bill agreed to pull back his energy and not push when there was conflict. Patty recognized that maybe Bill wasn't a mind reader (and didn't need to be one). She agreed that she'd practice opening up and saying what she needed to say to him.

They could adopt and practice different rules for their lives.

4. If neither person is willing to look at making changes in their rules--or they simply don't want to, both people have to evaluate whether they want to continue the relationship the way it is or not.

So this week we suggest that you look at where you have conflict or trust issues (we all have them) and see where there might be a rules violation.

Our loving advice is to be as conscious as possible about your rules for living and watch how your life and relationships improve.

How to release past hurts and betrayals inorder to gain more trust in your relationship

Have you ever felt hurt or betrayed by anyone, anywhere or anytime in your past?

No matter what age you are, we're guessing that you said "yes" to the above question.

We've certainly had them.

You may not consciously think about them but they are there, coloring your values, beliefs, thoughts, actions and interactions with others-- unless you've done some deep healing.

As you may have already experienced, these past hurts can certainly affect new relationships in harmful ways.

Here are a couple of really good questions about this issue from a person who responded to our latest survey on trust...

"How do you release past hurts and betrayals in order to gain more trust in your relationship? How do you not project those past hurts onto your current partner?"

Here's something that we feel really sure in saying...

Some of the reasons we come together in any relationship are to help each other to heal, to learn and to grow-- and this includes healing past hurts.

The opportunity for healing in a relationship can come in the form of showing us an exaggerated version of the scenario from the past that we're holding on to, a mirror for us, or showing us an alternative way of being.

What we're saying is that if you've buried past hurts, they will come up--but that doesn't mean that they have to ruin your current relationship.

While our tendency as humans is to create similar situations over and over until we learn from them, heal and grow, we can start to make healthy choices that can help us enjoy ourselves a whole lot more in our relationships.

When the two of us first got together, at times Otto felt like there were uncanny resemblances between Susie and his ex wife. These weren't physical similarities but were rather ways that both of them would react to him in certain instances.

At those times, he had to do "a lot of work on himself" (as we're so fond of saying) to remember that this was a different relationship and that Susie was his beloved and wasn't his ex wife.

So what kind of "work" did he have to do on himself?

Here are some ideas that both of us have used to help heal past hurts, create more trust, and deeper love and connection in our relationship...

1. Recognize when you are triggered and carried into the past. Ask yourself if your anger, withdrawal or whatever you happen to do when you are triggered is either magnified by something that happened in your past or maybe even totally from your past.

In other words, can you identify whether you were triggered entirely by what's happening in the present or is your reaction mostly from what happened in your past?

2. Identify your thoughts and fears and question them. You may have heard the saying that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. We suggest that you write your thoughts and fears on paper and then question their truth in your current life.

3. If you aren't sure whether your reactions or fears are about the past or the present, ask your partner for a clarification about whatever triggered you before you react. Ask with curiosity, not blame.

4. Practice discernment. Create ways to differentiate one partner from another when you are triggered--whether your current partner is actually "doing" anything or treating you as someone in your past treated you--or not.

Ask yourself--"How is this person or this experience different from my current partner or situation?" Find evidence that supports this difference.

You might even keep this "evidence" on a note card where you will see it often.

5. Remind yourself that "that was then and this is now." You are not the person you were when you had those previous experiences and although you may feel there are some similarities with your current partner, remind yourself that you can make different choices.

You can make those choices not from fear, but from what you want more of.

You can choose to focus on what you want and not on what you don't want-and look for evidence that it's there.

That's not to say that you close your eyes to harmful patterns that are actually repeating in your life.

But it is to say that you look at what's happening in your present with honesty and curiosity and not stay stuck in past emotions.

Don't allow your past to create your present and future.

The Independence vs. Dependence Juggling Act In Relationships

In the USA, it's the week of the 4th of July and that means independence day celebrations, complete with fireworks, cook-outs and get-togethers with friends and family.

It's usually lots of fun and we're looking forward to attending "Red, White and Boom" which is described as one of the biggest fireworks shows in this part of the United States.

As we were thinking about the Independence Day holiday and what we were going to do to celebrate, we couldn't help but think about independence as it relates to our relationships.

Very often, there is a issue around the desire for independence (or dependence) that happens in almost every relationship or marriage that can create some real challenges for you.

It's what we call the juggling act of independence vs. dependence and here's what we mean by this...

In relationships of all kinds, the idea of freedom, independence and inter-dependence (or lack thereof) can be one of the stickiest issues that people and couples have to deal with.

Since we're all so different, each of us has a greater or lesser desire (and need) for freedom and independence--and that's where the "rub" comes in.

If you're "too" independent in relationships, there's little or no connection--no matter what kind of relationship it is. There may be great love but the other person can feel like something is missing in the relationship and that he/she is being held at arm's length.

If you're "too" dependent (and needy), the other person can feel smothered and search for every opportunity to have some freedom.

We see this dynamic a lot in couples who struggle with jealousy but it can happen from time to time in any relationship no matter how long you've been together.

Take Carly and Tom--

Tom finds that he is jealous of the time that Carly spends with their three adult kids, and the time she's away from home doing various activities.

Carly is fed up with Tom's jealousy and wants things to change.

Of course there are many reasons why their relationship is strained but one of the most important is that they aren't in sync with their desires for freedom and inter-dependence--and they don't know how to communicate about


The bottom line is that Tom is more dependant on Carly's companionship than she is of his.

And she has become more independent as the years have gone by.

They also aren't clear or sure about how to reconnect deeper in their relationship with everything that's going on.

You may be like Carly and Tom and be wondering about things like...

How do you cope with varying desires for freedom and inter-dependence--while still creating a close, connected, open, loving relationship?

How do you balance and honor a need for independence as well as keep a strong connection?

How do you talk about this sticky issue?

Here are some of our ideas about how to deal with questions about independence, interdependence and connection in relationships...

1. Listen to yourself and know what you want. We know that we sound like a broken record but in order to connect with another person, you have to learn to connect with yourself.

Don't bury your feelings, thinking that you are being "kind" in acting in a certain way that you think the other person wants or needs--or you shouldn't feel that way.

Not necessarily true.

You can't assume that you know best for the other person. You can only listen to what's inside you and then let the other person know in a way that keeps both of you open.

In our example, Tom really wants to connect more with his wife--just the two of them doing something together every once in awhile. When Carly tunes into herself, she wants peace and also wants the freedom to do what she wants to do.

2. Listen to what the other person wants with an open heart and stay in the present moment. Listening with an open heart means not assuming and jumping to conclusions. It also means staying in the "here and now," without leaping to the future or staying stuck in the past.

All kinds of fears and triggers can come up when you tackle these independence/inter-dependence issues.

One of the best ways to stay in the present moment when you're listening is to remember what it is that you love about this person-- and that you want to find out more about him or her.

Our wants and desires change throughout the years so it's very important to learn how to listen without putting your two cents in and not allowing yourself to get triggered by what is said.

Sound impossible?

Not always easy but just start practicing and see how you get better at it!

3. Express what you want in a way that opens the door between the two of you and isn't defensive, controlling or demanding.

When you adopt a defensive or "pushy" manner when you are expressing what you want, the other person usually energetically "steps back" and can shut down any connection or line of communication--or can lash out at you.

Be aware of your energy as you express yourself. If you're unclear how you "come off" to others, ask a trusted friend for some honest feedback.

Become aware of your tone of voice, your non-verbal mannerisms and your words. You may be surprised at the feedback that you get when you ask.

Tom can let Carly know how much he loves her and wants a deeper connection with her. He can also suggest that they create a special time each week to do something together even if it's just to watch a movie on the couch without interruption.

Carly can let Tom know that she loves being with their kids and her activities and she can search inside herself whether spending special time each week with him would be something that she wants to make a priority in her life or not--and then tell him.

If she doesn't want to spend that time with him, they need to take a serious look at their marriage.

He can also work on ways to stop his jealousy because it interferes with their connection.

If Tom and Carly are going to continue to be together and create a closer and more connected relationship (whatever that means to them) -- they are going to have to figure out how to solve these issues that are created by their differing wants, needs and desires about independence and interdependence.

Love is all about respecting and honoring each other--and that includes honoring and understanding each other's needs for independence and inter-dependence.

Most people have never put any thought into the question of how much independence or interdependence they or their partner needs to feel safe, secure, happy and connected to their partner and vise-versa.

This idea can create some challenges for you in your relationships.

We've also found that this push/pull dynamic can even be the "juice" that keeps your relationship alive and growing--if you keep the lines of communication wide open and you're clear about what you want and what you need.

As with a lot of things we talk about, this requires a good deal of soul-searching, introspection and getting clear about what you want, as well as the commitment and willingness to share these thoughts, issues and info with your partner.

Relationship Blocks, Barriers and

In this series, we're looking at the "Relationship Blocks, Barriers and Blunders" to having the love, connection and relationships you really want.

If you missed the previous articles, you can find them here:

As we thought about it, one of the biggest blocks to having the relationships that you want is this...

Whatever it is that's going on in your relationship that's causing challenges or making you feel distance, separation or even a lack of connection between you and your partner (or anyone in your life) may not always be what it seems and the way you think it is.

Here's an example of what we mean and why this is important...

Recently, Susie went on a white water rafting trip with her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, staying along the Youghoigheny River in Pennslyvania.

As they hiked the paths by the river, they saw several large signs warning about poisonous snakes so they were on the look out for any sign of a crawling creature.

As they walked around one of the waterfalls, they saw what they thought was a snake's head sticking up from the rocks--ready to strike--and they all had a moment of fear until they realized it was only a stick.

But in that split second of recognizing the stick as a poisonous snake, there was real fear. The stick actually looked like a real snake!

So it is in our relationships.

Very often, we might see or hear something and make a snap judgment, being sure that it is one way--only to find later that we are wrong.

These snap judgments come from our previous experiences, our beliefs, our repetitive thoughts and even unfounded fears that we've created.

Just like the sign warning about poisonous snakes, our experiences, beliefs, repetitive thoughts and the cellular memory we hold in our bodies "warn" us about danger--whether it's real or imagined.

To the person who has jealousy issues--you may get triggered and become upset, anxious or fearful when your partner runs out to the grocery store or to fill up the car with gas and doesn't tell you "they're leaving" and when they are coming back.

If you're someone who has trouble speaking up and saying what you want or need, it might be possible that you get tricked occasionally into thinking you don't have choice in certain situations when you really do.

The number of ways in which we can think (or believe) something is one way when it's really quite different is staggering.

Take Robert and Polly for example...

They've been married for about 15 years and there's a "pattern" that Polly just told us about that she noticed in their relationship...

This pattern isn't something that is going to threaten her marriage but it can sure create some interesting challenges if she and her husband allow it to...

Here's the example...

Ever now and then when Robert comes home from work, he's distant and not very communicative.

At those times, Polly becomes fearful that he's angry with her for some unknown reason and asks him--

"Is anything wrong? Are you angry with me?"

The truth is that when this happens, Robert is usually tired from work and just wants to be left alone for a little while--and he isn't irritated with Polly until she questions him. Then he becomes irritated and he pulls away from her even more.

What can Polly do?

Here are some ideas to help you if you find that "It's not always what it seems and the way you think it is"...

1. Recognize the pattern. In Polly's case, she can see that this is a pattern or part of their "relationship dance." You have to recognize any pattern before you can change it.

2. Recognize your thought patterns and question them.

Polly can remember what she had been thinking at those times and learn to question her thoughts--because the truth is--she doesn't really know why Robert appears to be distant. Guessing doesn't bring you closer to the truth.

3. Come to an agreement about how you are going to handle future situations. When they are not in the middle of it, Polly can ask Robert what he needs during those times and she can tell him what she needs. It might be that he takes 30 minutes by himself and then they have the agreement to be together in some way later on in the evening.

It's always interesting that sometimes we make up a story that some problem, challenge or upset is about us when this may not be the case at all.

Getting to the "truth" of a situation or a dynamic takes opening your heart to one another and some times that's not easy but always worth doing.

Just remember--it's not always as it seems!

Sometimes it CAN be something totally different.

Relationship Blocks, Barriers and

Last week, we began a series of articles we're calling "Relationship Blocks, Barriers and Blunders" to having the love, connection and relationships you really want.

This newsletter article below is the 3rd article in the series.

If you missed part one you can find it here

Part two can be found here.

As we've been thinking about this topic of relationship blocks, barriers and blunders, we realize that there is no end to the ways we all create blocks and barriers to having what we want in our lives.

We've also been thinking about the fact that if you allow it to, anything (and we do mean anything) can be a barrier to love and connection.

It's been our experience that any "thing" or "person" isn't what creates the barrier. It's our thoughts about the "thing" or "person" that separate us from having what we want. 

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

Recently, a man wrote to us and said "One thing I have run across mostly about keeping a relationship or even trying to get one is that I find women are looking for someone who has money or security. I don't have either and it's hard to have a relationship."

He went on to say "A guy has to have money or security to win and keep a relationship. I have found this out 7 times in my life. And now I have not dated in over one and a half years. It just hurts too much to keep trying and know they leave to find someone with money and security."

While money and security might be important to many women, there are certainly many more women out there who have created their own money and security and don't need them from their partners.

There are other women who value companionship, love or any number of things higher than money or security when looking for a mate. There are many men in the world who (if asked) would tell you that they don't have a lot of money but the do have love or a great relationship.

So, just like a lot of people, this man's thoughts and beliefs are (in our opinion) his own worst enemy. He isn't questioning them to determine whether they are true or not. He's allowing his thoughts to keep him from finding and creating the love that he wants. 

We're also guessing that low self-esteem could be a big contributor to his problems as well.

No matter what the reason for his relationship challenges we couldn't help but wonder... 

What if he changed his belief about women and about the possibilities for his future--both in the love AND money departments?

What if he saw possibilities instead of defeat and took steps to move in the direction he wants?

What we would like to suggest to him or anyone who doesn't have love, relationship or connection you want in your life--change your thoughts and you can remove barriers!  

Last night, Susie was with a small group of really vibrant and alive women who were also mothers whose bodies had changed somewhat since their days before having kids. One of the things they talked about was how hard it was to buy a bathing suit these days.

Because they felt like they didn't have the slim bodies they used to have, buying a bathing suit was intimidating to them. They thought that their bodies were too big in various places--compared to magazine models and younger women.

As they talked, they all agreed that body image comes from your thoughts and beliefs. How you carry yourself and how you present yourself to the world depends on these habitual thoughts and beliefs you tell yourself over and over.

How much we love and accept ourselves depends on how much love and connection we can accept from others.

It's not whether you have money, a great body, or anything else that allows you to have the love, passion and connection but it's your thoughts that can open the door to having what you want.

One woman who bought one of our books told us that her negative thoughts had kept her separated from her husband. By keeping a "Relationship journal"--writing down the things that were good about her partner and her relationship, she was able to change how she felt about her relationship.

How about you?

What thoughts are keeping you from the love, passion and connection that you want? 

As you go about your day and your week, question your thoughts that create distance and negativity inside you and with others.

Test them and really look at them to make sure the thoughts you're having (and believing) are working for you in creating the relationships and life you want instead of working against you. 

Question the blocks that your thinking creates for you. Open yourself to more love and happiness.

Relationship Blocks, Barriers and

Last week, we began a series of articles we're calling "Relationship Blocks, Barriers and Blunders" to having the love, connection and relationships you really want.

This newsletter article below is the 2nd article in the series. If you missed part one you can find it here

We've been talking a lot lately about barriers to love, connection and closeness in your relationships and...

One thing we've discovered that's important

in creating close, connected relationships is not only how we feel about ourselves but also how we feel about our body.

Think about it...

Do you love yourself?

Do you love your body?

Do you like your physical appearance?

These days, almost everyone we talk to wants to look and feel better about their body and the worst part for most people is they let their body and their appearance be a barrier to the love, connection and intimacy that they really want.

Since we want to help you eliminate ALL barriers to connection and closeness in your relationships, we just HAD to let you know about this...

Our good friend Andrea is a weight loss coach with one of the most fantastic and positive approaches that we've ever heard of... and her client success rate is incredible.

What we like about her is her encouraging, heart-centered approach. She used to be overweight too, so she really "gets it".

It's our belief that no matter what your body size or type, you can have the love, passion and connection you really want.

However, if your weight or appearance is an issue for you and're interested in learning a completely different, but proven way to lose weight in time for summer, we think you will really enjoy the fantastic video that Andrea posted here:

We know that not everyone who gets our emails is interested in losing weight... but this video is so good, and so right on target, that we felt like we had to pass it along.

If you're not interested in losing weight in a conscious, healthy way, but you know someone who is, you might want to forward it to them.

Yes. It's THAT good.

Don't allow a poor body image to keep you from the love, passion and connection that you want. Take steps to make a positive change in your life that will lead you to the love and relationships that you want. 

Relationship Blocks, Barriers and 1

If there's any part of you that wants more love or a better relationship and are wondering what you might want to do to create it...

You'll be excited to know that this is the first in a series of articles we're going to write on the subject of "blocks, barriers and blunders" that keep us from having all the love, passion, connection and intimacy we want.

So, what are these blocks, barriers and blunders that keep us from having the love passion and connection we want that we're talking about?

There's certainly a whole lot more to it than this but if theres a challenge in ANY area of your life, you can know that it's something in one of these areas...

  • Your Thoughts
  • Your Beliefs
  • Your Attitudes
  • Your Actions


  • Your Strategies.

That's it.

Everything else is just the details.

You can always trace any challenge back to one of these areas and here's a practical example to illustrate this...

Someone wrote to us recently and asked us...

"How can you stop thinking about the past and only think about the good things you and your partner have now?"

This is an excellent question and one we'll answer in this way...

The person who wrote to us didn't say whether it was 'their' past together or the past before getting together that they couldn't stop thinking negatively about so here are our thoughts...

In this situation, If you can't stop thinking about the past (and it's causing challenges in the relationship) then one of two things is going on...

Either you have quite a few thoughts that you continue to think on an ongoing basis in which you aren't questioning the validity of and these thoughts seem be a trigger for you and are keeping you "stuck"...

or have unhealed issues from your past or current relationship that need to be identified, looked at squarely and healed before they destroy your relationship or marriage.

If you think about it this person's situation is no different than anything you might be going through now or in the future. It goes back to one of those five issues we described above that need to be solved.

To help you with any relationship challenge, question, issue or concern here are some powerful questions to ask yourself to help you determine where the problem is and how you can release it...

Are the things I'm thinking about this situation actually true or are they things I'm only worried or concerned about that aren't actually true?

What are the beliefs I hold that could be contributing negatively to this situation?

Are these beliefs I hold moving me closer to or further from the love, passion and connection I want?

What attitudes do I have that are contributing to this situation? What beliefs do I have that are contributing to this situation?

Are the things I've done been helpful in this situation or have they taken me further from what I want?

Is there a better or different strategy I could try in this situation to help us work through this situation?

As you know from reading this newsletter, we're huge fans of the power questions in making big changes and shifts in your life.

The questions above are just a few and you're certainly encouraged to come up with your own questions to help you make shifts in your relationships and life.

So, what do all these questions have to do with relationship blocks, barriers and


Everything actually.

Most people tend to think (erroneously) that the problems of life are 'out there" instead of "in here" or inside you.

If you are having challenges in your relationships (or any aspect of your life for that matter), asking yourself the right questions and being open to new answers is a powerful strategy to use for making shifts for the better.

Asking yourself the right questions and being open to the answer also requires you take personal responsibility for what you are creating in your relationships and life.

This "taking personal responsibility" is, in our opinion, something that we need much more of in a world where nearly everyone wants to point the finger outward and place blame elsewhere.

We believe that we are ALL the creators in our lives.

Not someone else. It's us.

Please understand that we're NOT saying that there isn't a god, creator or higher power that created all of us and our world. That's not what we're saying at all.

What we are saying is this-- not taking responsibility for what happens in our lives is definitely a barrier to connection with the people in our lives.

What we have discovered is this: When we take responsibility for our lives and everything in them-- the problems, issues and challenges we have seem to start working themselves out.

Making Conscious Agreements

If you've been getting this newsletter for any length of time, bought one of our courses or worked with us through coaching, you know that we talk a lot about creating conscious agreements and their importance in creating a relationship that's as close and connected as possible.

Recently, one of our readers wrote to us and asked this question...

"Can you give me an example of what a conscious agreement is? How would I go about making one?"

Conscious agreements are funny things. If you don't make them, you can get caught up in some pretty big misunderstandings, assumptions and disagreements.

If you do make them and keep them, the two of you can build trust in each other and in your relationship--and things can go a whole lot smoother in your life.

But both people have to agree without either of you feeling like you've "caved in" to the other.

Here's a very simple example of an agreement...

Yesterday, Otto and his sister were coming back from being with their dad because he was having surgery. Otto's sister told him that since he bought the gasoline and drove, she would buy their dinner last night. They made a conscious agreement.

We create these kinds of agreements all of the time, sometimes without even being aware that we're making them--and we're sure that you do too!

These kinds of agreements seem easy and effortless but others don't.

When there is a sticking point between you and another person--a topic that triggers both of you, making agreements doesn't seem to come so easily.

The reason why you create conscious agreements about these issues is so you'll keep your connection or get it back quickly when they arise again.

When you create conscious agreements in your relationship, you'll also have a much better chance at getting your expectations, wants, needs and desires met.

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

When we first moved into our new home, Susie's cousins (who are the proclaimed "decorators" in the family) came in from out of town to help us decorate one weekend.

As we drove from store to store, buying items for our home, Susie became more and more agitated. Much to our embarrassment, the two of us became angry and irritated with each other and we didn't know why.

We hadn't realized that the source of our irritation was that we hadn't consciously decided how much we were going to spend during this "decorator" weekend nor how we were going to pay for what we were buying.

Talk about going to sleep!

So when we realized what we had done, we decided to stop spending until we could sit down and figure it all out.

We also agreed that we would make conscious decisions ahead of time before repairs or improvements were made to the house. And we created a "home improvement" fund that we both contribute to.

Now this may not be your issue but we're sure that your life could run a whole lot smoother if you made conscious agreements with someone about something that is a source of contention.

So how do you do that?

Here are some ideas...

1. Recognize that you need an agreement and that it would be helpful for your relationship to have one.

2. Ask for ideas from the other person and listenfrom the standpoint that it's only information. Don't close down because the person may have different thoughts than you have.

3. Give your ideas with the intention that these are just your ideas and something better may surface as the two of you talk.

4. Look for where you agree and start there if you can't seem to get on the same page about everything.

5. It's helpful to have a time frame identified if it's something that is time-sensitive.

6. Make sure that you both want to do what you are agreeing to and that your agreement is clear.

Make sure that you say something like this... "Okay, here's what we're agreeing to... Is this your understanding?"

The two of us have discovered that making clear, conscious agreements with the people in our lives and with each other creates more love and connection. We're sure that they can in your life too.

Relationship Stories That Match

You could have knocked us over with a feather when we realized this foundational relationship truth!

In fact, we didn't realize it at the time, but the whole soul mate mystique is based on this idea.

Here's what we're talking about and it's a really simple way of understanding relationships (especially ones that work and are successful).

Every single one of us has a "story" about ourselves, our life and our relationships that we think is how we want them to be.

When we are drawn to someone and get into a relationship with them--whether it's for friendship or intimate partnership, we are responding to a similar, familiar story that we see in this person which matches our story.

Occasionally, when we get into a relationship with someone, we might say to ourselves something like... "You're so incredible," "I really like you," "You have a similar work ethic and like the same things I like," "I feel like I've known you forever" or even something like "I feel like I've met my soulmate"

When we say anything like these things, we can know that we have just met someone who matches our "story"--or matches a part of our story.

Of course, there's never a 100% match in stories and when it comes to our relationships... that's where misunderstandings, assumptions and conflicts come in.

That's when you say to yourself, "What happened to the person I married or fell in love with or chose as my friend?"

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

Melinda and Bill had been married for several years, with two children. When the kids came along, their agreement had been that Melinda would stay at home with them (plus working a few hours from home) and Bill would make most of the money to support them all.

For a couple of years, their "stories" matched pretty well. Bill and Melinda seemed to get what they each wanted.

Increasingly, however, Melinda noticed herself feeling resentful that her childcare responsibilities tended to be 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Even when Bill was home, it seemed that if one of their children needed to go somewhere, got hurt, or just wanted a peanut butter sandwich, Melinda was the one everyone assumed would do what needed to be done.

She loved Bill and the children dearly but she just wanted a break from time to time and to not always feel "on the job."

But every time she thought about challenging their "story" and asking Bill to help out more with the kids, Melinda's stomach knotted up and she felt guilty because this had been their agreement. After all, he was doing his part earning the money...

So here's where conflict and disconnection can easily happen.

If Melinda allows her guilt to keep her silent about what she's feeling and she still feels resentful, her feelings will still come out--maybe in cutting, sarcastic remarks and in ways that unknowingly create distance between them.

And Bill doesn't even know that she wants to change their current story and is in the dark as to why she's acting the way she is.

If Melinda complains to Bill that he doesn't help out, he'll become defensive and push her away.

So what could Melinda do?

Here are some ideas for when your "stories" no longer match and how to rewite them so that they do once again...

1. Recognize what you are feeling. In Melinda's case, she sees her resentment, tiredness and guilt and decides she can't ignore it.

2. Get clear about what you want. Melinda wants to share parenting with Bill and when she really thought about it, she would like some time for herself to do something like take a yoga class.

3. Focus on where your "stories" still overlap. Melinda can tell Bill that she still loves staying at home with their kids and is very happy being in love and married to him.

4. Communicate your feelings and your desires without blame or guilt so that the other person stays open to you. Be specific and don't generalize. Melinda can ask for the two of them to talk about how she can have some time for herself and how Bill can also get his needs met. She doesn't say to him "I want more help with the kids" but rather is specific in her request.

5. Listen to how your partner wants your lives together to be--without getting defensive. Bill may even want to have more time with the kids but feels that she has had it all under control.

6. Negotiate how you want your new "story" together to be and how you want to keep your love and connection strong and growing.

So how about you?

Is there someone in your life who has a story that used to match yours but now is a source of irritation and conflict?

We're not suggesting that you say or do anything that's NOT congruent with your values or other commitments at all.

We are suggesting that as your relationships with the people closest to you evolve and change, you may want to explore how the ideas of other people and the ways that they want to live are just as important and just as valid as yours.

Can you see how you may start looking at how you can both open to each other and shift or change your stories to be a better match with each other?

Love starts with similar stories and can change over time. Don't be afraid to make some changes that will create more love and connection in your life

Love, Relationships and Keeping The Dialog Going (Even When It gets Tough)

He's highly opinionated, provocative and some people would argue that "Dr. Phil, " the American psychologist and television personality, doesn't agree with very much of anything anyone else says but....

One thing's for sure-- after reading something he wrote in a national magazine, we certainly know that he agrees with us on this relationship issue and here's what it is..

Since we've been talking about the importance of no longer "talking on eggshells" in your relationships (especially your intimate relationship or marriage), we couldn't help but notice Dr. Phil's response to a reader's question about this communication issue.

Her question was about how to deal with her sister who makes comments that are objectionable to her.

The woman explained that the last time she had talked with her sister, she was so angry with her that she hung up on her.

In the "Oprah Magazine" article, Dr. Phil tells her to restart the conversation between them by apologizing for hanging up on her.

He then said that the only way to possibly influence her sister and one day get close to her again is to keep the lines of communication open rather than do things to close them.

He went on to say ... "You NEVER make progress (in a relationship) by stopping the dialog..."

Not only do we completely agree with him on this, but he is confirming everything we've been saying about the importance of communicating from the heart in an authentic way and not "talking on eggshells."

In a relationship, keeping the dialog open is the only way we've found to move toward understanding and deeper connection when there's conflict between two people.

It's so easy to say but not always easy to do.

What we have found is-- the minute you stop the dialog by withdrawing, getting angry, lashing out at the other person, or walking out, you end all possibility of reconnecting with that person unless one of you says or does something to open it back up.

While it's never possible to completely understand someone else's words, actions and motivations (because we don't look out at the world in the same way), it is possible to understand enough to keep your connection, love, friendship, intimacy or closeness.

Even if you can't agree with him or her, you can accept and understand that this person is not you and may have completely different internal guidance about whatever it is that has created the conflict between the two of you.

Take Otto and his 19 year old son...

Otto disagrees with his son's plans for summer work. After worrying that his son was making a big mistake, Otto realized a few things. He realized that he wasn't going to change his son's mind because Otto had already told him what he would do in the same situation--and it's not what his son wants to do.

Otto also realized that it might not even be his job to change his son's mind. Just because Otto thinks he has the answer for the direction of his son's life, Otto could be wrong. His son needs to follow his own internal guidance instead of Otto's.

When Otto asked himself what he wanted most with his son, the answer was to have a great relationship and to continue to connect with him.

So, instead of holding on to his point of view and continuing to hammer home his viewpoint on this particular topic, Otto chose to try to understand why his son was making the choices that he was making.

He decided to keep their connection strong and their communication open.

Since we've been talking a lot about our new program "Stop Talking on Eggshells," you might be thinking that Otto is "talking on eggshells" with his son.

In our opinion, he isn't and here's why...

Otto told his son about what he thought he should do about this particular decision. Otto also realized that he needed to try to understand why his son was making the choices he was making and that his son might be right.

Otto didn't agree with his son but kept the dialog open between them by changing his thinking and letting go of having to be right. Otto allowed room for the connection between them to stay alive and well.

If Otto talked on eggshells with his son, he might have withdrawn from him or be fearful of saying what he thought about his son's choices.

He didn't do those things. He kept his connection with his son foremost in his heart and his mind.

So, does the dialog stop with anyone in your life over certain topics or situations?

If so and if this relationship is important to you, what ways might you be true to yourself and also reopen the conversation and reconnect with this person?

Connection, love, understanding and intimacy do not happen by accident. They all happen because we are open to it and we do things that will create them.

Take time today to deepen connections with the important people in your life and allow yourself to open to continuing the dialog with as much love as possible.

U-Turns, Reverses and Opening to new possibilities

Have you ever been in a situation where communication did not go as you wanted it to go and you wished you could do a U-turn and reverse what you've said, done or thought? We certainly have.

Here's a typical situation that comes up for many of us where it might be wise to do a "reverse" and do things differently to create a different outcome for you, your partner and your relationship...

Imagine that your partner, spouse or someone you love does something unexpected, not what you thought you agreed on, and when you get angry about it, the other person becomes defensive, lashes out at you or withdraws. You get no where talking to each other, let alone understanding each other.

This is a common communication problem for couples (or any people who live or work together) and we're betting that you've experienced something like this and would like to know how to resolve it.

What we're calling a "Relationship Reverse" can help you to create a different and better outcome.

Here's Elizabeth's story about how she learned and applied a "Relationship Reverse," creating more room for love and connection in her marriage...

At the last minute, Elizabeth's husband stayed at work for a meeting and didn't tell her about it. She had been at work all day and had expected that the two of them would go out to dinner together. When she got home, he wasn't there--and he didn't come home for another two hours.

Elizabeth was furious and although he didn't do it often, it certainly wasn't the first time this had happened!

In the past, when he didn't call her and let her know when he was going to be late, she literally pounced on him as soon as he stepped in the door.

She would let him know that she was angry and as a result, he immediately became defensive and shut down to her as he walked into his study, slamming the door. When this would happen, It would take them several days to iron out their differences and feel close again.

Since she was tired of doing the same dance over and over, Elizabeth decided to do it differently. She did a "Relationship Reverse."

Okay, she was angry but instead of stewing in her anger while she waited for her husband to get home, mulling over in her mind how unfair his behavior was, she took the time to sit with her anger, breathing into it, to discover what was underneath it.

As she sat with her anger, the thought came up that she feared that she wasn't as important to her husband as he was to her. She didn't feel respected.

Underneath her anger was the fear that he might be losing interest in her and in their marriage. She knew that that thought was untrue because he was loving and attentive in a lot of other ways but the fear crept into her conscious thoughts anyway.

As Elizabeth started focusing on ways that her husband showed his love to her, she noticed that her fear and anger began to soften. She also began focusing on what she wanted--which was for him to call her when he was going to be late and also for the two of them to keep their connection strong.

When her husband came home that evening, he was met with a very different Elizabeth. She was open to him--and she wasn't yelling at him.

Because he didn't go into "defensive" mode, he told her he was sorry that he hadn't told her about the meeting that came up at the last minute.

Elizabeth listened and told him about her fears--that she felt she wasn't important to him when he failed to let her know about a change in plans.

He was shocked that she felt that way and reassured her that she and their marriage were most important to him. He hadn't realized what his lack of communication said to her--and it wasn't what he wanted in the future.

Elizabeth then told him what she wanted--that she would have loved to have known about this meeting earlier--maybe a phone call or text message. She asked him if he would let her know the next time it happened that he would be late.

Because he saw how important this was to her and to the health of their marriage, he agreed and told her again how important she was to him.

This interaction was completely different from any previous to this. Elizabeth could say what she needed to say and her husband stayed open to her and understood her because he wasn't shut down. They could stay connected and work out a problem without the normal anguish between them.

How about you?

What shift, change or "reverse" could you make in order to set the stage to be heard, understood and create more connection between the two of you, instead of distance?

If you can relate to Elizabeth or even to her husband, create your own "Relationship Reverse" strategy and see how your relationship changes for the better!

The Difference Between Being Honest and Being Honest In Your Communication

If you ask most people if they are honest, they will almost always give you a resounding YES!

If you were to ask most people ...

"Are you ALWAYS honest in your communication?"

....their answer would most likely be a "no," "maybe" or an "I'm not sure."

All of us from time to time don't say what we want to say--or are not a clear as we could be--because we don't want to hurt someone or we fear the consequences if we do.

As we've been working on our "Stop Talking on Eggshells" package, we've been mulling over why people aren't always honest and it comes down to this...

We don't believe that we will be loved, honored or appreciated for the truth of who we are and what we want for our lives--and we fear what may happen in the future if we are honest.

This happens in small and not so small ways in our lives every day.

It's pretty interesting when you really look at how you make the decision whether to speak your truth or not--and then the consequences of that decision.

Not telling your complete truth can even become a habit and a way of keeping people at a distance, even though you may not realize it.

We make most of these decisions unconsciously, from past experiences, from our beliefs about ourselves and from our level of trust in the other person. We make them from the stories we've created and the assumptions we've made about what may or may not happen if we share what we are really thinking.

It can be as simple as not being truthful with someone about accepting an invitation that you may not want to accept. We're not talking about being unkind but we are saying that making a clear "yes" or "no" helps both you and the other person avoid communication challenges and misunderstandings.

Or it can be something like not letting someone know how you are feeling and becoming resentful toward that person.

We've seen more hurt and upset being caused by people not being truthful and clear about what they are feeling than when they are finally being truthful.

There can certainly be consequences in our lives if we aren't truthful...

For example earlier today, a woman wrote to us and told us about how she is now suffering the consequences of keeping quiet to avoid arguments.

She said she could see exactly what we've been talking in our last few email messages we've sent you about the challenges of talking on eggshells and what it can do to a relationship.

She said that she had had a very controlling husband who wouldn't talk with her about making changes in their relationship--and she had to become physically and emotionally ill before she left him.

Her final comment was that it would have been much easier to have dealt with the issues as they came along.

So here are a few questions for you to consider...

  • When do you dance around your truth and with whom?
  • What are the consequences for not being truthful in your life? Do you worry? Does it create physical problems for you?
  • Is there one area of your life where you'd like to be more truthful? What's one step that you could take to move in that direction?

Being honest--speaking your truth--takes practice and comes from the desire to create deeper, more authentic connections with yourself and with others.

Are there times when you shouldn't be honest?

Being honest with another person may not serve you if your physical safety is in question or if your motivation is to hurt him or her.

Being honest with yourself, however, will always serve you.

You Don't Always Have to Talk

For over a year now, we've been working with the idea of how to "stop talking on eggshells" and how to start communicating for closer, more loving and connected relationships

The surprising thing we've discovered is that you don't always have to actually talk to do this.

You can communicate in other ways.

Otto's father has trouble hearing. During a recent visit when Otto's father was having even more trouble than normal hearing, a friend suggested to Otto that he "write out " what he needed to say to his father.

Writing out what you need to say isn't just a good way to communicate with the hearing impaired.

Writing your thoughts can be a wonderful way to begin communicating if one or both of you can't seem to say what you mean and if the two of you can't seem to change the way you react to each other.

Here's what one woman told us...

"Written communication allows us time to read and reread what we have to say before we actually send it. Even when we are physically together, we email and text message one another. It lifts us spiritually and emotionally throughout the day... And, the written word allows us to look back on what we have written when we might tend to overreact to a situation. We 'see' the tenderness and vulnerability of that person that we love and have a lot more compassion and empathy for a comment or statement that could easily be taken in a negative or 'wrong' way if we didn't look at the whole context."

It's actually healthy to take a break now and then from talking about what's wrong and focus on what you would like more of in your relationship.

Here's an example of how writing about their hopes and dreams helped one couple get back on track...

Tom and Charlotte were having trouble communicating and were tired of their continual picking at one another. They both wanted to take a break from their constant quarreling and decided to look at what they wanted rather than what they didn't want in their relationship.

They agreed to write what they wanted their relationship to look like and then share their answers with each other. They agreed to give each other a week to think about and respond to their hopes, dreams, desires and requests letter.

When they read each other's letters, they looked for the overlap--where the two of them could meet each other and agree on a new focus for their relationship and lives.

Writing was a way that each could open to the other that seemed safer than using spoken words. Writing allowed them to shift their focus to what might be possible rather than remaining stuck in the negative and what wasn't.

If there are issues in your relationship that you just can't seem to talk about, consider writing your thoughts and feelings. If you are very angry about the situation or issue, you might write two letters--one for yourself in which you rant and rave and then rip it up and the other in which you express what you a feeling without blaming the other person.

Use "feeling" words (sad, scared, mad, confused, tired, uncomfortable, disappointed, alone) and stay away from accusing the other person or of assuming what he or she is thinking or feeling. You might write your thoughts about the situation with the caveat that you know that they may or may not be true.

Write how you'd like your relationship to be and ask the other person to do the same.

Remember, you don't always have to talk to communicate. If this idea appeals to you, we invite you to try it this week.

(This is one of the strategies that we talk about in our "Stop Talking on Eggshells" process that we'll be releasing soon.)

Staying Connected With Your Partner During Upsets, Disagreements and Challenging Situations

Here's a great question from a reader that we think speaks to the communication issue that challenges most couples...

"We want to stay connected during our difficult times too. What is the one thing we can do every time my husband and I are angry with each other as we work through the disagreement?"

So how do you stay connected during the times that both of you are triggered and angry with each other?

How do you quickly get to the place where you both can resolve whatever has separated you and regain your connection?

The way we see it--there are two ways we could answer those questions...

-We could give you one big strategy or tactic


-We could give you the one mindset that we think is most important.

While we love using and giving practical strategies for making your relationship closer and more connected, without the proper mindset, those strategies can fall flat.

The proper mindset that we're talking about is created long before the disagreement and difficult times--and is built on conscious commitments that you make to yourself and to your partner.

For us, our mindset or belief is that at our core, we really love each other, no matter what, and that each disagreement is a learning opportunity for each of us. Because of this, we agree that we will not run away but will find ways to open to each other.

From this mindset or set of beliefs, we are always experimenting with ways to shift from being closed to one another to reconnecting.

Here are some things that help us to make a shift to reconnecting...

1. Change your breathing from shallow to slow,deep breaths.

We've discovered that when you calm yourself by using your breath, you can often shift to another perspective, away from your "I'm right and you're wrong" viewpoint.

2. Remember your commitments to each other. Every time one of you feels like walking out of the room or closing completely to one another, we remind each other of our commitment of love and not running away.

If neither of you can remember your commitments in difficult times, write them on a card and keep it where you can see it. Create some ways to pull you back to remembering your agreements.

3. Touch each other and regain your connection. Sometimes when we've gone round and round over the same issue and nothing seems to be changing, we'll simply hold hands and look in each other's eyes for a few minutes, without speaking. We might even put our hands on each other's heart and stay there until we feel our connection come back.

If you do something like this (you both need to have some agreement about it beforehand), whatever thoughts that have separated you will begin to fade. There will be a softening between you and the space for you to reconnect and resolve your conflicts.

To keep or regain your connection even when it's difficult, create your mindset and make your commitments to each other. Then be open to trying different ways to bring you back to your commitments.

In our new "Stop Talking on Eggshells" course, we're going to go into much deeper discussions about this topic and much more--and we're excited to share all of this with you.

Opening, Changing and Surprising Yourself and Your Partner

How do you keep a relationship loving, intimate, alive and growing over the long haul?

We are constantly on the look out for ideas to keep the spark alive in our relationship and we love passing them on to you.

Here are some ideas from three people who agreed to share how they keep their relationship alive and growing in one of our recent surveys...

1. Be open to trying new things. "For our marriage it is the openness to try different, new things. Go to new places, buy new things, try new activities. Just the willingness and the openness to do any of these things has a great power. Whether we continue them or not isn't the point its the trying it and being honest. Its showing trust in the other persons ideas. We have found simple things like playing a computer game my husband truly enjoys but I have never tried. Going to a new place that I have gone but he hasn't."

2. Change things up and flirt with each other. "After 12 years of marriage and 4 kids, my wife and I understand the need to 'work' to keep intimacy in our relationship. Truth be told, it is not work. We are both very good at doing the small things... sweet talk, gentle touches throughout the day, demonstrate respect for each other. But we also look to change things up a bit. I recently bought my wife a new cell phone with texting capabilities. I taught how to text and she almost immediately began texting me highly suggestive messages while I am at the office. By the end of the day, we have worked each other up mentally that we are really looking forward to see each other when I get home. Poor kids get sent to bed early A LOT recently."

3. Surprise your partner and communicate daily. "One of the key things we do to keep our relationship alive is to make sure we can surprise each other. Surprises can take the form of presents of course, or simply an unexpected evening out, meal for two or even a gesture, a kind word here and there, a joke, a new way of looking at things, a new aspect to the relationship, a new activity together. Otherwise, of course communication is key, and being open to listen to the others' concerns and feeling able to express one's own concerns is extremely important. We schedule time on a daily basis to see how the other person's day went, and also at the weekend to reflect over the week. When travelling, there are many forms of communication which can help to keep things alive, so we're thinking of each other: text messages, phone calls, e-mail."

If you have other ways of keep your relationship loving, alive and growing, we invite you to send us your story.

Are You Better or Worse Than You Think At This?

Here are a couple of relationship questions that are worth thinking about...

How good are you at following through with what you say you'll do, especially with your loved ones?

What do you value and what are your true commitments in your life?

Because our lives can "get away from us" for any number of reasons from time to time, these are great questions for all of us to as ourselves periodically.

What we've found is that many times we can have a distorted view of how good we are at follow through. Very often it's just not as good as we think.

Here's a specific question from one of our readers that touches on this topic and a couple of other ideas about relationships...

"How come we can follow through with consequences with our children but we can't seem to find or follow through with our significant other...and because of that your feelings expressed and the ultimatums you have set for them never get answered or resolved so the roller coaster affect continues?"

First, let's talk about commitments and follow-through.

If there's one thing we know for sure, it's this...

What you place your importance on, what you value and are truly committed to having is always visible in your life.

Now you might be arguing with us right now but we've seen it in our own lives and the lives of others, over and over again.

It's usually not difficult to follow through on what brings us pleasure, joy, happiness--and what we really want to do.

It might be something that we're good at or feel good doing--and follow through is never an issue.

The bottom line is this--results in a persons life reveal a person's true commitment and what he or she values.

So, in our reader's case, her significant other is committed to something other than following through on what she wants.

There could be any number of reasons that a person doesn't follow through on a commitment and here are a few...

  • passive resistance to following through with anything that other person wants
  • rebelling against something that has nothing to do with the partner
  • placing a higher value on other things in the person's life
  • not actually agreeing to do what the other person assumes will be done
  • agreeing but not really meaning it

So what about agreements?

In our work with people over the years, we've seen a lot of "mushy" agreements and a lot of assumptions made about who agreed to what.

Because the reader who asked the question used the word "ultimatum," she did not have a clear agreement with her partner about the issue--so we're not surprised there isn't any follow through.

An ultimatum is clearly one-sided and not an agreement.

If you are in a situation and you want to get someone to do something or not do something--and follow through, here are some ideas...

1. Get clear with yourself what it is that you want, why you want it and why you're asking that person for help. Become aware of what you are feeling about this situation. Get clear of your bottom line if needed.

2. Approach the other person with openness--curiosity and openness--not with your own resistance. Make a connection first.

3. Talk to the other person from your heart, saying what you are feeling and why.

4. Listen to what the other person is feeling without judging or interrupting.

5. Come to a clear agreement from what's best for your relationship and for both of you. Each of you repeat your agreement, write it down, post it or whatever works for both of you to remind you of it.

6. Re-negotiate your agreement if there's no follow-through. Take a look to see if there's a discrepancy between the agreement and both of your values and commitments.

Look at the situation as truly is and see if this agreement is possible for each of you to keep--given your different values and commitments.

Remember, when follow through is easy, it's because there's no resistance.

When follow through of ANY kind is difficult or not happening, it's because something is causing resistance.

To create or encourage more or greater follow through, all you have to do is eliminate the resistance and the follow through becomes much more effortless.

Longevity and Relationships: Is There Something to Learn Here?

Over the years that we've been teaching about and studying relationships, we've certainly heard more than a few people say that they wanted a long-lasting relationship--and we're always in search of the best ways to do that.

Speaking of long-lasting and longevity...

We were fascinated by the Barbara Walter's television special that aired recently that posed the question--Could you live to be 150 years old?

Not only did the special examine this question, but also other relevant questions like these as well:

  • Would you even want to live to be 100 or 150 years?
  • What would your life be like if you lived that long?
  • Would you be happy?
  • Would you still be able to make love?

While these kinds of questions are certainly interesting to think about, here's the question that really intrigued us...

What can be learned about creating long-lasting alive, passionate relationships from people who are mastering longevity?

In other words, we wanted to find some commonalities between what was said in this television special about personal longevity and how to create long-lasting, alive relationships.

And we did.

Here's some of what we learned from this special about people who were not just surviving but thriving at 100 years old and above--as it applies to creating long-lasting relationships...

1. When it comes to creating a great relationship, It's more than just finding your soulmate. In the Barbara Walter's special, she said that scientists say that a person's longevity is only 25% of his or her genetic makeup.

Translating this idea to long-lasting relationships-- finding the "right" person to be with is important but it's what you do after finding him or her that determines your happiness, no matter how long you are together.

2. Keep a passion for life and for your relationship The centenarians who were featured in this special all had passions, interests and purpose that kept them looking forward to living the next day and the next day.

To keep a relationship fresh and exciting throughout the years, it's important to explore new ways to keep your passion for each other and for life alive, both as a couple and as an individual.

This might be in the form of taking a class together--like learning couples massage--or exploring new restaurants or new areas of the country.

Whatever form that might take for you, be willing to expand yourself and your relationship.

3. Make the commitment to connection. The people who were interviewed for Barbara's special said that connection was important to them, whether it was with family or friends.

A relationship that lasts over the years and is still alive and passionate starts with a commitment to connection--and it's a decision that's made in every moment.

Every morning when you open your eyes, one of the first things that you might remind yourself is that you will connect with your loved one or others today--that you won't assume and make up stories but will be open to connecting.

4. You have to be able to accept loss and move on. For someone who reaches 100 years, outliving friends, spouses and possibly children is a fact of life. The people over 100 years old who were interviewed said that they had to be able to accept loss and move on to keep the quality of life that they wanted to have.

So how does loss keep us from creating and keeping passionate, alive relationships over the long-haul?

Every time we hang on to some grievance or misunderstanding and allow it to come between us and our loved ones, we chip away at our happiness and passion.

Every time we focus on what we perceive we have "lost" rather than the possibilities that are still there, we diminish our excitement for life and our relationships.

So work out whatever is holding you back from having what you want and then let it go.

One other thing we noticed when we were looking at what folks 100+ do and how they live their lives...

They appear to be more easy-going than most people and don't take themselves too seriously.

Very often we get stuck in a position and want to be right at all costs. It just seems like it's really worth fighting for in the heat of the moment.

What we've found is that when you take the longer view, these things we call "issues" can be worked out in a much easier way. Taking the "longer view" ---or looking back on this situation from the viewpoint of 10 or 20 years in the future--helps you to question whether what you're fighting or arguing about is worth it.

So as one of our favorite teachers Abraham says..

"Be easy about all of this."

Be easy and live your life in such as way that promotes longevity, aliveness and happiness.

Relationship Tips for Staying Connected When You Live with Young Children

Every now and then, we are asked for advice on how a couple can stay connected and keep passion in their relationship if they are raising small (or even not so small) children.

Our belief is that the same ideas will work no matter what your situation but we wanted to give you some ideas that are specifically for this situation.

Since our children are no longer small-- Otto's son is 18 and Susie's daughter has two boys of her own--we called in an expert(Susie's Daughter)--who has some great suggestions that she and her husband do to keep their relationship alive and growing.

Here are her suggestions and whether you have small children or not, we invite you to try some of them to spice up your relationship...

1. Create Many Mini-Moments. You don't have to spend hours making love every day to keep the connection deep and passionate-- but go for it if you can!

Instead, you can connect in mini-moments that you create throughout the day.

A mini-moment might be an appreciative e-mail or text message sent while you are apart. When you are home together you can lovingly caress your partner even with children running and playing at your feet.

When you are in the midst of that mini-moment, give connecting with your love your fullest attention. It might just be a few seconds, but those mini-moments all add up.

2. Engage in Some Non-Kid Stuff. As important as your kids are and as much as you want them to know how much you love them, you don't have to focus on them ALL of the time.

If you're like me, you want to always be there for your children. However, neither you and your relationship nor your children will benefit from this.

No matter how young, your kids are separate beings and really need to have some amount of space to experience life on their terms.

So do you and your partner.

You and your partner could make time every day for a shared activity or discussion that has nothing to do with your children. This may feel awkward at first but keep trying.

If your children are very young, take care of their needs first, then turn to your love. Give everyone a clean diaper, lay out a blanket with engaging toys, then talk with your mate about a non-kid topic that interests you both.

This might be sports, religion, politics, or even philosophy. If you don't feel like talking, just hold each other, stroking his or her hair and enjoy the deliciousness of touch.

3. Open to Touch. Especially when your children are young, it's quite common for parents-- moms especially-- to get to the end of the day exhausted and feeling "all touched out." This can be tricky because while parents of young children may want to connect physically, the same desire and energy may not seem to be there. At the same time, touch can be such an important way to keep you and your partner feeling connected.

It is vital to listen to what each person needs when it comes to touch. A mom who spent hours nursing an infant, for example, may not feel like sharing sexual touch with her mate right now. This doesn't mean that she and her love can't share touch. She might appreciate receiving a back or foot rub and then giving a massage to her partner. Even non-sexual touch can be connecting. And who knows--sensual and sexual touch might just happen too.

4. Show Your Love. Remember that you can share moments of love and care even when your children are in the room. Some of us were raised with the belief that you just don't show emotions--of any kind. Programmed beliefs like this might cause us to wait until we are alone with our mate to show him or her loving attention. Of course you don't want anyone involved to feel embarrassed or inappropriate, but at the same time show your love!

It can actually teach your children what a healthy loving relationship looks like if you allow your children to see you and your mate hug, hold hands, or kiss. Your kids know you love them because you express it to them probably every day. Openly, do the same for your partner and for yourself!

5. You CAN Have It All. It can be easy to fall into the trap of believing that there's just not time (or energy) to focus on both your kids and your relationship. In the midst of keeping up with life, it may feel like something's got to fall to the side (at least for a few years) and your relationship is probably what goes.

Many people assume they'll make time to focus on their relationship once the kids have grown up a bit. Unfortunately, when a choice like this is made, that day in the future may never come and your relationship could end up literally lifeless.

It may not seem possible but there IS enough time, energy and "you" to be both kid-centered and relationship-centered. Start by affirming to yourself that there is a way to give attention to your kids and stay connected with your love.

Tune in to how wonderful it feels when you share a game, a cuddle or a warm talk with your children. Now tune in to how fabulous it feels when you make love, take a walk, or sip coffee and chat with your partner. You don't have to choose between these great experiences. There is room for both! Once you create space in your mind and beliefs for both, it will be easier to allow them to happen in your life.

Celebrate when connection happens. Have fun and remember to laugh!

Getting Ready For Change

Tomorrow is the first day of spring and not coming a moment too soon.

Because of the blizzard that dumped up to 20 inches of snow on us in central Ohio a couple of weeks ago, we've been up to our ears in snow and now the rains are here. Probably like a lot of you, we're ready for a change.

Maybe it's time for a little change in your relationships too!

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

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

We're going to be talking about this idea of how small changes can make big differences in your relationships and life quite a bit over the coming weeks.

What we've discovered is that you are always changing and the issue becomes whether you are changing to what you want more of or less of.

Don't look outside of yourself for other things and other people to change. Conscious change starts with you and your thoughts.

We've found that our thinking (and the kinds of things we think about and focus on) are habits--and if you are in the habit of thinking about what you don't want, it will keep you stuck.

Believe it or not, it's just as easy to think about what you do want in your life and your relationships as it is to think about what you don't want.

Here's what we mean...

If you've read our articles for any length of time, you know that Otto isn't a "Mr. Fix-it" and neither is Susie. He doesn't have the interest in learning how to fix things around the house and he's never learned the skills to do them.

Since getting our previous home ready to sell and moving into our new home, he's had several opportunities to make some changes in himself so that these jobs get done.

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 has had to change.

What he changed were his thoughts, attitudes and beliefs about his abilities and he also asked for the help and support he needed to complete these small jobs--or figure out who to hire.

Remember that things do not change. We change.

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. Figure out 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.

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

5. 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.

6. 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?

We were just listening to Tracy Chapman's song "Change" and we think that it is good food for thought.

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?

As you think about these first few lines of this song, forget about any religious or spiritual overtones for just a moment and consider this...

What we're really suggesting is that given the right motivation or given the freedom to relax and know that you are always OK no matter what is going on in your life, can you, could you or will you change the small (or not so small) things that keep you from the life and relationships you really want.

We're guessing that you could.

We all can.

What we've found is that in almost every situation...

... Creating what we want is doable with the right thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and actions.

The Right Relationship Questions Make All The Difference

What do you do when you really want your relationship to be closer and more connected and you just can't seem to figure out what's going on and what's wrong?

This is a good question and if you've been getting this newsletter for any length of time at all, you know that one of the things we always talk about as being the true keys to a great relationship is asking the "right" questions of yourself and others to create the love and relationships that you really want.

We've suggested before to you that there's almost always an internal conversation that is going on inside of you ALL the time.

Part of this internal conversation are questions that you are asking yourself and believe it or not, your answers to those questions are guiding your life.

Those answers signal your brain about how to respond, what to do, what decisions to make and how to move forward next.

Sometimes this is good and is helping you create what you want and sometimes these answers move you away from what you really want.

Often we're not even aware of the challenges our questions are creating for us in our lives.

"Kim" (not her real name) sent us an email recently and was really searching for some answers to some relationship challenges.

Read her email to us (below) and see if you can relate to any of what she's going through.

Really read and hear her story and pay attention to the relationship question she is asking.

There's a good relationship lesson here that we all can apply in our lives if we're open to it.

Here's Kim's email to us...

******Kim Writes...****

"I have been married for about 4 years now and been with him for 8 years. I love him with all my heart and unconditionally. I love him for his flaws, personality, humor, his warmth, and everything else that makes a person well rounded. He is a very good guy and takes care of me but there is one issue that is affecting me and I have no clue if it is affecting him. He says it is, but I have no proof of that because his actions tell me otherwise. Unfortunately, we have been bumping heads and we are heading the wrong direction. I have tried everything but it seems that I am always giving in after a fight. This time I am trying hard not to give in. My question to you is, why are relationships so easy to fall apart but hard to glue the pieces back together...why??? I can not seem to answer this, I have answers to a lot of my personal issues but this seems to be bothering me a lot."

********End of Kim's email to us...*******

First of all, we really appreciate "Kim" for having the courage to take a look inside herself and the relationship to try to heal what's going on. This isn't always easy to do.

So what's the question that she's asking?

"Why are relationships so easy to fall apart but hard to glue pieces back together...why?

As we think about Kim's question and her struggle to find the answer to what she thinks is her most pressing relationship question, we think that her question is fundamentally flawed if she wants to create a closer and more loving connection with her husband of 4 years.

It's flawed because even if she comes up with an answer to this question, it still isn't going to solve her relationship issues.

She should be asking herself a more empowering question that will actually help her create the love and relationship that she really wants with her husband.

An example of a more empowering question might be this

"What can I do on my part to help my husband and me stop bumping heads all the time and create a more understanding and loving space where the two of us can nurture and grow our love and relationship?"

Do you see the difference between the question Kim asked and our question?

Her question is full of exasperation and is keeping her stuck in a relationship situation that is painful for her. Our question might help her to come up with answers that might open a door for she and her husband to connect.

So, how do you apply this lesson in your relationships and life?

Here are a couple of suggestions:

1) Notice the internal conversation that is going on within you.

2) Notice whether is it negative or positive in nature.

3) Notice whether it is just an internal running dialog or if it is appearing in your head in the form of questions.

4) Whether it is appearing as a running dialog or in the form of questions-- question and examine these thoughts.

Ask yourself are these thoughts serving me in positive or negative ways?

In other words, are they moving you toward what you want or further from what you want for your relationships and life?

and finally...

5. If you're finding when you check in with yourself that your internal conversation is negative simply change it.

That's all you do.

Ask yourself a new set of questions that will take you to what you want instead of away from it.

By the way, this not only works in your relationships but in all areas of your life.

Try this. We think it will help you make some shifts in your relationships and in other areas of your life that will really help you.

Relationship Lessons from a Yellow Lab

Recently, we had another opportunity to "dog-sit" with our favorite yellow Labrador retriever, Nutmeg.

While we certainly don't want a dog full-time, we had a great time with her and re-learned some valuable relationship lessons as well.

Here are a few reminders of how to create great relationships and lives from Nutmeg that we thought we'd share with you...

1. Make yourself at home wherever you are. Since we moved a few months ago to another city, Nutmeg had never been to our new home. After her owners dropped her off on their way to the airport, she quickly found a comfy couch and settled in for a nap.

Wherever you find yourself, make the best of your situation.

Our suggestion that you should "make yourself at home wherever you are" doesn't imply that you should start walking into the homes of total strangers unannounced.

It does beg the question of How can you make yourself feel more at ease wherever you are? (Everything's a choice remember)

2. There are no strangers. Nutmeg is such a friendly dog that she was excited to see anyone who came to visit us during her stay. Even our mailman petted her and told us what a great dog she was.

How would our lives be different if we treated strangers as friends? What would happen if we actually looked at people who we meet throughout the day?

3. If things don't go the way you plan, find another way. We had several friends at our home one evening during Nutmeg's stay and when it got to be 11:30 at night, it was obvious that it was Nutmeg's normal bedtime.

The only problem was--we were sitting in her "bedroom" which also happened to be our living room and sitting on her bed which also happened to be the couch.

Nutmeg did look at one woman in the hopes that she would get the idea that she was sitting in "her" spot. But when our friend didn't move, Nutmeg found another spot on the floor to fall asleep.

Our lives don't always go the way we want them to go or think they should go. What would happen if we simply find another way to either get what we want or maybe something entirely different--that might take us in a new and wonderful direction?

4. Stop and smell the roses. Nutmeg liked her morning walks--and we did too. We found that we couldn't be in a hurry thought because she liked to stop and sniff.

Many of us are in a hurry from morning to night. What would happen if we take some time to enjoy what's in front of us instead of rushing off to another thing? When have you enjoyed looking at the sky, a baby's smile, a child's exuberance, your partner's face, and anything else that is the miracle of life?

5. Have fun. Nutmeg loves to play ball! At different times during each day that Nutmeg was with us, she would get her tennis ball and urge us to play ball with her. It was so much fun to watch her run and catch the ball, then bringing it back to us. Her enthusiasm was catching.

Playing can take on so many different meanings or ideas. When was the last time you invited someone to play with you?

When was the last time you laughed and played with someone?

6. Rest often. Nutmeg played hard and then she came in and rested. She took frequent naps throughout the day.

Are you getting enough rest for your body and your soul? Do you need to take frequent breaks throughout the day to recharge?

Sometimes we even need to take breaks from what's going on in our relationships. Sometimes, we just need a quick "time-out" from the drama to really look at different things that are pressing or important to us.

7. Connect deeply with others. If there's anything that Nutmeg knows how to do, it's connect deeply with those around her. She not only acted as if everyone was her best friend but she used physical touch to show her affection. She might lay close to you or put her head on your leg or a paw on your foot.

She looked in your eyes when you talked to her or when she wanted something.

How do you connect with the people in your life? Are you truly present with them? Do you show your affection?

8. Don't look back. It's the same thing every time Nutmeg leaves when she's stayed with us for any length of time...she doesn't look back. She's on to the next adventure.

How many of us get stuck in the past? How many of us cling to how things used to be instead of looking to what we want for our future?

This week, we invite you to remember Nutmeg's lessons with a smile and add more love in your life.

Staying Connected As You Work Through Disagreements

Is it really possible to stay connected during the times when disagreements come up?

Some people say "yes" and others think differently.

We received a question from someone recently that may be an issue in your relationship from time to time...

Here's what this woman asked us...

"We want to stay connected during our difficult times too. What is the one thing we can do every time my husband and I are angry with each other to stay connected as we work through the disagreement?"

This is such a great question because what we've found is that lots of other people like you have similar dynamics in their relationships or marriages as well.

In this situation, it's certainly a big plus that this couple feels connected in the first place and wants to stay connected.

It also sounds like they both want to keep their connection--which is another huge plus.

So we'll talk a little about anger and then tell you what we think the one thing is that this couple, and any couple, can do to either stay connected or to reconnect as quickly as possible (even when disagreements come up.)

Our take on anger is this...

We ALL have a "story" about how we think everything in our lives should be.

When something happens to make us think our "story" isn't going to be fulfilled, we have a problem.

In relationships, when there is a conflict between two people about how things should be-- if both of those people are attached to being right-- anger is a very common response and reaction.

In other words, one way that anger comes up is when your story about how you think things should be is not in alignment with someone else's story or maybe even the reality of what is.

When two people are involved and one or both feel anger, there are two conflicting stories or ideas of how it should be.

When this happens, very often there's a feeling of powerlessness and most likely there's something within you that needs to be heard, valued, honored or understood.

When something happens with someone in our lives that's incongruent with what we want, some of us "get angry" and some of us do other things to cope with the situation.

Our anger closes us to the other person and if the other person is angry or closes as well, there's a stalemate, disconnection and feeling of hopelessness.

So what's the ONE thing we recommend to stay connected even when anger comes up?

When we break it down, what we recommend you do is actually a two-step process...

1. Shift your attention and look at what's underneath your anger. What want, need or desire are you not getting? What story about this want, need or desire are you telling yourself that may or may not be true?

2. Get curious about the other person's story. Find out more so that you understand. You still may not agree but there will be a softening between the two of you when you both change your perspective toward each other from demanding to be right to being curious about the other's motivations.

We'll give you an example...

The biggest issue the two of us struggle with is over finances. We often say that we are each other's best teachers, especially when it comes to dealing with money.

Since we are not only married but business partners as well, we have that lesson in our faces quite a bit--and we have learned a lot in the years we've been together.

One typical scenario is when Otto sees a training program that he knows we need to have in order to grow our business. Since Susie is our busines "accountant" and bottom line person, she usually has a different perspective or "story" about buying yet another program

This scenario stills comes up but we are so much better than we used to be at staying connected when it does.

Instead of an instant negative reaction, Susie now tells herself that Otto's suggestion is just that--a suggestion and we don't necessarily need to act on it--but we might.

The "story" underneath her anger was that she was powerless in these situations--which made her come out even stronger against his suggestions.

Now, she's usually able to listen and find out more about the program when she changes her "story" to just being curious and relaxing into the knowing that she has choice.

As for Otto--you can guess that he became angry and felt powerless too when he was hit by Susie's initial reaction to his suggestion.

What a circular pattern that was (and is, at times)!

Now, because Susie's initial reaction isn't negative and she's more open, he doesn't feel defensive. He's also finding that he's more judicious in choosing the programs that he brings up for discussion to buy.

While we don't do it this way every time the pattern comes up, we are keeping our connection stronger and stronger--even when we have "conflicting" stories.

Like anything else, it just takes practice.

Relationship Advice That Works For Everyone?

We get emails and calls from people like you every day and very often, they tell us how our relationship advice and information helps them create happier, closer, and more connected relationships.

This isn't always the case.

Sometimes we get someone like "Mary" (not her real name) who just wrote to us and thinks otherwise.

Normally we wouldn't do this, but we're sharing with you what "Mary" had to say about us and as usual, there's an amazing relationship lesson or two here.

So, If you're open to the relationship and love lessons, here's what "Mary" had to say about us and our work and our answers to "Mary"...

Mary Wrote

"The information you send -- I find -- does not ring true of a couple who communicates under the stresses of raising a family. It sounds like you are in a marriage -- without younger children -- and quite possibly this marriage between the two of you is a second or third marriage .... meaning, your marriage has not really stood the test of time.

"Anyone can dispense advice under those conditions.

"Real credibility comes from a couple who has faced TOGETHER the real world challenges that married couples face --- when going through life phases together, raising children together ... and making it stick for the long haul."

End of Mary's Email

We certainly can understand why "Mary" expressed those feelings because it can be tough dealing with the challenges she was talking about.

And, here's our take on it...

What we have discovered is that we all have different life situations and those situations and challenges that go with them can change many times.

Here are a few...

-some people are dealing with the pressures of raising small children

-some are dealing with the grief of a separation or divorced

-some are happily married and want to make their relationship even better

-some are struggling in an unhappy relationship

-some are tentatively beginning a new relationship

-some are coping with job pressures

-some are dealing with care of aging parents

For the two of us--this is a second marriage for both of us (as of this writing , we've been together 10 years) and although we didn't raise young children together, we did navigate the sometimes murky waters of creating a "blended family."

So what do we have to offer that might be helpful to you in your particular circumstance or at this point in your life journey?

No matter what your life situation is, there are stresses and challenges that come up along the way.

These stresses and challenges may look different but they are really very similar.

We have learned that it's not your circumstances but how you are able to live and move through those circumstances that makes the difference between living a life of love and just living your life.

When it comes to creating a great relationship that is close and connected, we ALL have our challenges and one person's relationship challenge may be no better or worse than someone else's.

It's ALL just the story we tell ourselves about how easy (or difficult) it is or will be to create what we want that can keep us stuck.

It all comes down to discovering how you separate yourself from others--what stories you are telling yourself about them or the situations--and making a conscious choice to either open to them or close.

It comes down to making conscious commitments from the core of who we are, even in the middle of situations that we find ourselves in, and living our lives from those commitments.

And these commitments can morph and change as our lives change.

If you have limited time because of trying to balance the care of small children and a job--and everything else that goes with that situation, you and your partner may only have 15 minutes a day to connect.

If that's all the time you have together, then truly connect with love for each other for that 15 minutes.

If you are empty nesters and you want to reconnect with each other after years of "life" getting in the way, make a step toward opening to each other by rediscovering what the two of you love to do together. You may open to new ways of being together.

If you are single, wanting to be in a close, connected relationship, and it just hasn't happened yet, practice opening in new ways to the people in your life.

No matter what your life circumstance, here are a few commitments that you might consider making to help make your life richer and more connected with the people you love...

1. Commitment to being present. It takes as much "effort" to be present with the people in your life as it does to not be present. Not being present is just a habit we've all learned.

Giving your full attention to someone is a way of showing your love and respect--and can be practiced and learned.

You might say that you are too busy to look at and make eye contact with your kids or your partner as they go to school, work or ask you a question.

You might say that they don't make eye contact with you.

We suggest that you be the one to begin breaking the "I'm too busy" habit and try that one thing.

2. Commitment to communicating with honesty and from your heart. Here again, communicating with half-truths or from fear is a habit that many of us have learned--and this way of communicating usually doesn't work--as you may have figured out by now.

No matter what your life situation might be right now, learning to feel inside you for what is true for you and then learning how to communicate from that place of honesty is important to keep any relationship strong and growing.

So much of our communication is based on reaction and not conscious intent--(we're constantly practicing this one!).

Make the commitment to practice in the moment (no matter how 'busy' we are) to stop communicating from reaction and start communicating from love.

Difficult? It can be--but it just takes practice to get better at it!

3. Commitment to look at every day as a gift. We just saw the film "Namesake" and one line stuck with us. It goes something like this...

"I look at every day as a gift as I do you."

What would happen if no matter what our life circumstance, we look at every day as a gift.

Now of course, there are going to be better days than others-- but what would happen if we reminded ourselves of this idea and tried to find the "gift" when there doesn't look like there is one?

Is this being a "Pollyanna" or as Susie's mom used to call

Susie's ever-positive sister--"Miss Merry Sunshine"?

Well, you can look at it that way or you can begin changing the way you look at what comes your way in a different light.

This week, we invite you to look at your life a little differently and discover maybe just one way you can create a better relationship with one person who is important to you.

No matter what the other people in your life are doing, we suggest that you start with you.

Staying Desirable for One Another...It Really Can Happen

As we looked at the questions that over 800 of you asked us in our recent survey about what's your biggest relationship question--one of themes that stood out most was this...

"How do you stay desirable for one another?"

As we talked about how we'd like to answer that question, Otto came up with a great analogy--

Staying desirable for one another in a committed relationship is like prepared packaged foods-- in a weird sort of way.

Before you laugh at us and think we're crazy, read on...

What keeps prepared foods looking and tasting fresh?

Additives and preservatives, right?

They are the long names on the packaging labels that you have no idea what they are.

Now, by using this analogy, we're certainly not encouraging you to eat foods that are filled with additives and preservatives unless that's something you choose to do.

But we are saying that if you want to stay desirable to one another or re-awaken desire, you have to keep adding things to your life and relationship that will do that. You also need to do things to preserve your connection and love on a daily basis.

Here are 10 ways that we add to our relationship to keep desirability high between us. These are some of the ways we preserve our love. We invite you to try out a few in your relationship or if you're single, practice with the people in your life.

Here's our list...

1. A no-blame/no-criticism vow. This is a fairly recent vow we've taken to not blame or criticize each other (ever) and so far, it's working great. How does this keep up our desirability for one another? By taking and keeping this vow, we know that above all, we'll stay open to one another, no matter what, and understand each other. Believe it or not, that's a great aphrodisiac!

2. Give each other lots of positive attention. We've noticed that what many people in relationships want, including us, is to feel important to the each other.

This importance is shown by the attention that you each pay to one another. Even if you have a busy family and don't spend much time together, bring your full attention to the time you do spend together.

3. Laugh and play together. We've said this many times before, but we couldn't create a list like this and leave this idea out.

Laughing and playing together is a great way to stimulate and wake up your desirability for one another. When you feel close and connected through laughter and play, you can feel a renewed interest in each other.

There can be new excitement that keeps your relationship fresh and growing.

4. Kiss and hug often--(or whatever physical way you choose to show affection) We know that everyone has a different level of desire for physical affection. Find out what you each like and then do more of it. When would you like a hug? When do you like to kiss that doesn't involve (or may) the act of love-making?

5. No game-playing or hiding--Call it if there's something between you. Honesty can be really important in keeping both of you desirable to one another. If trust is in question, desirability is one of the first things to go out the window.

6. Explore new love-making ideas. Be open to expanding your love-making repertoire so you can spice up the special time you spend together. It's important that you are both comfortable with your experimentation--and you'll need to talk about it. There are plenty of great (tasteful) resources out there to help you along if this idea appeals to you.

7. Make a "desirability" mind shift. If you've been thinking how undesirable your partner is, make the shift in your mind to something about him or her that does excite you--or even used to excite you.

Consciously train yourself to focus on what you love about your partner. Does that mean that you ignore what you don't like? No, it just means that you begin seeing your partner in a different, better light.

8. Notice what turns your mate on and what turns you on--and do more of it. We're not just talking about bedroom activities right now--but of course love-making is included in this.

What excites your partner?

When does he or she show passion for life? What excites you?

Open yourself to finding out more about that (if it's healthy for you to do so) or do more of it. Begin to share with each other your excitement for life.

Just by noticing and connecting in possibly new ways, you can get a lot of information about how to stimulate desire in all areas of your relationship.

9. Make a commitment to each other that you want to move toward feeling greater desire between the two of you. One person can certainly change the dynamics in a relationship but no one can change another person unless he or she wants to make the changes.

If you both want to increase desire in your relationship, these ideas can get you started doing that.

If you're facing a one-sided situation what you want more desire and your partner doesn't seem to be interested, begin to try some of our suggestions and see what happens.

10. Relax. Many of us carry inner tension around with us and we don't even realize it. One of the most important things you can do to increase desirability may be for both of you to simply practice relaxing that inner tension.

Your inner tension may have nothing to do with your partner (or it may) but if you carry it around with you, it can certainly interfere with closeness, connection and feeling desire.

So each time you come together, as well as several times during the day, take time to check inside you and encourage yourself to relax.

We hope our ideas have given you food for thought and we invite you to try some of them out this coming week.

Going Beyond Your Edge This Valentine's Day

There is a lot of hype (and hope) focused around Valentine's Day-- the day of love and just like almost everyone else we're on it. We're committed to having and creating a great Valentine's day celebration for the two of us.

Whether you are in an intimate relationship and with the love of your life or not, there can be a lot of expectations that never pan out or there can be a feeling of closeness and love with the people in your life.

Whatever your current relationship status, we suggest something a little different for this Valentine's Day.

We suggest that you go beyond your edge and here's what we mean...

We all have our "groove" that just feels comfortable, no matter what we are doing. This is especially true in the love and romance department but is in all phases of our lives.

Our "edge" is the very point where a little mystery begins--something out of the ordinary that we may not normally do.

When we go to this "edge" and beyond, we can feel expanded, more alive, have more passion for life and feel more love.

Here's a great example of what we mean...

One of the Valentine's Day gift suggestions we've seen in media ads is giving a massage from a local spa. While this might be a gift that is much-appreciated, what may be even more appreciated and going beyond your edge is actually giving each other a loving massage and sharing touch.

Felicia and Al lead busy lives. They both work full-time jobs and they have 3 beautiful young children whom they adore. Felicia coaches little league and Al prides himself on a stellar garden and yard.

When they do slow down and share touch, it is usually for lovemaking. One weekend, however, Al arranged for a babysitter and surprised Felicia by taking her to a couple's massage workshop where they learned how to give each other foot and back rubs. They've promised each other massages at least once a week as an additional way to connect.

Do you have to take a class to learn this?

Of course not (but it may be a fun get-away). The two of you can just plop on the couch, focus your attention on each other (no television but music would be great), and get your fingers moving in a loving way that may or may not be headed toward love-making.

If touch always leads to love-making, try something a little different. Just touch your partner with the intention to connect with each other.

Touching each other often may be going beyond your edge. It might be a caress of the shoulders as you walk by him or her doing the dishes. It might be that you hold hands when out shopping together or at a movie.

If you are currently not in an intimate relationship, touch is just as important--so give someone you are close to a hug or even trade shoulder or foot massage.

We invite you to come up with your own list of what it might mean to go beyond your edge. Here are some other suggestions to get you started...

1. Try a new restaurant or new foods. If you always go to the same type of restaurant, try sampling different kinds of foods--or even a different dessert. Go with a friend or your lover and share the new experience.

Susie and a friend tried Korean food for the first time a few months ago and had a wonderful time sharing a new taste experience.

2. Wear something a little different than you might normally wear. It might be a little beyond your edge to wear a piece of clothing of a different color than you normally wear or a different style.

We're not saying you have to visit Victoria Secret but we are saying to play with expanding who your clothes say you are.

3. Explore ways to expand and deepen love- making and intimacy. Allow yourself to explore books and other resources that teach new ways to be intimate with your love. There are many available that are tasteful and that can give you some good ideas about going just a little beyond your edge.

It might be something as simple as kissing more deeply instead of your normal peck on the lips. You might even dedicate an hour to just kissing--and keep it interesting!

Be sure to talk with your partner about what you'd like when it comes to this exploration and listen to what he or she likes.

4. Open up to someone who you normally might not be. Talk to your partner, a friend, a family member or someone else in your life in a way that you may not normally do.

You might share something personal about yourself that you normally don't share or you might show someone how much you appreciate him or her being in your life.

If this isn't "normal" for you, sharing about yourself and showing appreciation can be powerful ways to go beyond your edge to create deeper connections with others.

This week, we invite you to go beyond your edge, create deeper relationships with others and spread a little more love in the world.

Disagreements, Disappointments and Doing It Differently

If you're human (and we're assuming that you are if you're reading this), we're sure that at some time or another, you have disagreements with the people in your life.

What's clear is that we all have disagreements but we all have different ways of reacting when they happen.

Since we've been thinking a lot about communication lately while we've been preparing for next week's teleseminar, we'd like to share with you some of our ideas on how to deal with disagreements.

Here's a great question from a person who responded to our survey a few weeks ago when we asked you to tell us your biggest question about relationships...

"How do I learn that disagreements do not mean the end of the relationship, that they are normal? And how can I stop being so passive when they come up? - I do that so the disagreeable conversation will end."

As we said before, disagreements are normal. In our way of thinking, disagreements, anger, disappointments and upsets are only "rules violations."

Here's what we mean...

We all have rules for how we want to live our lives and be in this world and they usually come from past experiences and our particular way we've learned to view the world.

And no one views the world exactly like we do!

These rules can be conscious ones but very often they're not.

One of Susie's conscious "rules" for her life is that she likes to exercise every day in some way or another. Although she isn't fanatical about exercising, on most days she makes time in her schedule to walk, do yoga, pilates or some type of movement.

These rules can also be unconscious ones.

Those are usually the ones that come to light in a moment of reacting to something that someone says or does. When this happens, it usually leaves the other person (and you) wondering what just happened.

Years ago, Susie discovered that she had an unconscious rule that said that her partner had to vote for the same political party as she.

When Otto casually expressed that he might vote for a candidate from another party, Susie snapped back with a haughty, critical comment.

After the comment was out of her mouth and Otto had reacted negatively to what she had said, her "story" and her "rules" about what her partner should and should not do became pretty clear.

This was an unconscious rule that she didn't realize she had--one that she could and would let go of it because it was no longer important to her in the present moment and in this new relationship. Her reaction had been from the past that she had unconsciously carried into her new relationship.

So, what does all of this have to do with our friend's question?

Here are some of our ideas about changing the way you handle disagreements, whether you handle them passively or aggressively...

1. Recognize which one of your "rules" have been violated. Take a moment and think about the last time you were triggered or had a disagreement with someone. Which one of your "rules" did the other person violate? Write down what you were thinking at the time of the disagreement and it will give you a clue how to name the "rule."

2. Recognize how you feel in your body when a disagreement comes up and where in your body you feel it. Put a name on the feeling. In the example we gave you about voting for the political candidate, both of us felt anxious and our reactions were to lash out at the other. Make note of your feelings and what's underneath your reactions.

3. Recognize what you do and the story you tell yourself when one of your rules is violated. In other words, what do you do to get your way or to protect yourself? Do you lash out more of the time or do you retreat and become passive?

In either case, discover what you are telling yourself will happen if the other person doesn't do what you think they should do or if you don't do what the other person wants.

4. Understand the other person's rules. Before you react in the same old way, breathe, stop yourself and ask a question to help you understand what the other person is thinking.

You might ask something simple like this..."Tell me more about that."

And then just listen. That's what the two of us did that day so many years ago when we disagreed about politics.

After realizing what had happened and remembering that our commitment to each other was to keep our connection no matter what, we just listened to each other.

5) Never pretend that you're not upset. We're not saying that you need to confront the other person you may be upset at. See each upset as a way to understand yourself.

Get curious about yourself and your reaction.

Say to yourself, "I wonder why I reacted in that way?"

After all, as the famous motivational speaker Les Brown once said-- "If you knew better, you would do better."

The magic is in trying a different approach and catching yourself before you react out of habit in the same old way. The magic is in really listening to each other and each taking responsibility.

What if your partner won't take responsibility and look at his/her rules?

It comes down to this...

Do you want to change your habit or not?

Whether your partner buys into this or not, you have a choice whether to keep doing what you are doing or not.

Does that mean that you have to give up your rules and what makes you happy?

Of course not.

It means that you consciously evaluate if the rule in question serves your growth and the growth of your relationship or not.

The two of you can make new ways of being together that are even better than what you both were holding onto.

17 Ways to Make Your Relationships Great in 2008

We recently saw a list of the 5 top topics that people create goals around for the new year, with weight loss leading the list.

What struck us as odd was that creating better relationships wasn't on that list!

In our opinion, there is NOTHING more important than your relationships AND...

The reason we hold this opinion isn't because we're relationship coaches who write about, speak about, coach and teach people like you about creating closer and more connected relationships.

You see, everything we do or try to do in life is either about, includes or requires the help of a relationship of some kind.

If you are a parent (or have parents) that's a relationship.

If you work anywhere, you must develop relationships to be successful in your job.

Governments must form relationships with other government organizations in order to be effective and even to be in harmony with one another.

Even something like an engine in a car must have a "relationship" with the other parts of the car in order to work effectively and efficiently to provide transportation for the owner and passengers of the car.

In our way of looking at things, if you're going to have something, why not go for the best?

When it comes to your relationships, if you want them to be better than what you have right now, one of the best ways is to continually find some ways of improving them--and that starts with intentions and then setting and achieving some goals.

In case you're like us and haven't written your goals or resolutions for 2008 (or even if you never do it), we want to offer you a few ideas about how you can create growing, more loving, more deeply connected relationships in the new year.

Here are a few ways that have worked for us to keep our relationship close, connected and growing--and we offer them to you..

1. Forget about it. Forget about what happened last year. It's done. It's over. If you feel like you need resolution about something that was said or that happened, talk to the other person. If you don't get the resolution that you want, don't carry it into the new year. Forgive yourself or the other person.

Does that mean you allow yourself to be used or abused in any way. Of course not! All we are saying is that unresolved grievances may hurt you more than the other person--or more than you realize.

2. Set some relationship goals. Think about what you'd like more of in 2008 in your relationship. We suggest that you take some time together and talk about what you want and some ways that you could practice that would bring you closer to having it--if the relationship is important to you.

For instance, one of our relationship goals for 2008 might be "having more fun together." One of the ways we could "practice" is to keep a list of what "having fun" means to each of us and then doing one or more of those things every week.

3. Increase the amount of time you spend in bed--both sleeping and making love. Statistics show that most of us don't get enough sleep--and relationships can certainly suffer if you don't. If you aren't sleeping, begin some type of meditation or relaxation program. There are plenty of resources out there that can help.

If you are with an intimate partner, we suggest that you spend more time making love--from a connected space. If you don't feel connected, make it a practice to feel close and connected before love making. Talk about how the two of you can increase intimate feelings in your relationship.

4. Make your relationships a bigger priority. Most of us lead very busy lives and we tend to put most everything ahead of maintaining and growing our relationships, especially the intimate one.

We've said this many, many times but the idea bears repeating. People can very easily get "lost" from one another if they don't keep coming back to revitalizing their relationship.

Committing to doing one simple thing like having a meal together once a day--or even one day a week--and talking together can make a big difference in a relationship.

5. Do something different. Doing something different and varying from your routine helps you to expand and grow. Doing something different--something that excites both of you-can help your relationship to come alive.

Some friends of ours went salsa dancing on New Year's Eve. This is the first time in a long while that they had celebrated this holiday away from home--so it was very different for them. They told us that although they were terrible at salsa dancing, they laughed and had a lot of fun.

We suggest that you try something different that would be nourishing for your relationship.

Next week, we'll give you a few more of our 17 ways to help you create great relationships and what you want more of in 2008.

17 Ways to Make Your Relationships Great in 2008 - pt. 2

In our most recent survey about relationships, someone asked us the question (and we thought it was a good one)--

"How do you create a great relationship that really lasts in today's world of throwaway' relationships and $99 divorces?"


We wanted to say to this person...

Hold on a minute. Yes there are many more break ups than there used to be many years ago but in our opinion, there's also more joy, possibilities and connection.

As always, we want to do our part in giving you the relationship help and ideas you need to create a great relationship filled with lots of love, passion and connection.

In last week's newsletter, we gave you 5 of the 17 ways to make your relationship great in 2008.

In this series of articles, we're giving you some ideas and an invitation to create some relationship goals for the coming year that will bring you closer to what you want for your life.

We know that writing relationship goals may not be at the top of your list of things to do right now, but whether you're single or with a partner, we urge you to spend just a few minutes thinking about what you would like more of in your relationships.

Then consider our "17 ways" that you could put into action in your life.

2008 can be your best year yet and we're offering some ways to help you manifest that for yourself.

Here are a few more ways that have worked for us to keep our relationship close, connected and growing--and we offer them to you...

1. Decide to heal your past--or the parts that are constantly in your face. If you're like most people, you carry your past around with you everywhere. Now the past doesn't always get in the way of what we want but sometimes it does.

Take Sam...He just couldn't let go of his first marriage and first wife. He wanted her understanding and forgiveness because he left their marriage. He wanted her to tell him that she knew why he left and that she played a part in his leaving.

But she never did...And he could never let go so every new relationship he tried failed.

Healing for Sam would be to begin to let go of his desire that his ex act in a certain way and his need to keep living in the past.

He needs to quit judging her as he perceives she's judging him. He can begin by staying in his present and looking toward his future.

What is it in your past that you could begin to look at and heal that you've been carrying around with you that no longer serves you?

2. Recommit to your relationship. Recommiting to a relationship-- whether it's a relationship with your significant other, your child, or yourself--means looking at that relationship with fresh eyes and making the decision that this relationship is important to you.

It might mean spending more time together. It might mean focusing more attention on that relationship, making it a higher priority in your life.

If you are recommiting to yourself, you can spend more time pampering yourself in whatever way that feels good to you.

If you are recommiting to a partner, you can find time each day to focus on and love each other.

How can you either recommit to yourself or to your partner and what might that look like?

3. Learn some new relationship skills. The two of us are constantly learning about how to have great relationships and if you're reading this right now, you know that we share these ideas with you in this newsletter. Many people tell us that they use our newsletters as a jumping off point for discussions with their partners or friends.

We invite you to do the same.

In whatever area that you would like to improve--whether it's to put more spark back in your relationship, communicate better, or find a partner who you truly want to be with--choose to learn some new things that will help move you closer to what you want.

What new relationship skills will help bring you closer to having what you want?

4. Meditate, pray, connect deeper to your spiritual center and Source, God, Creator--whatever name feels right to you. Why would connecting deeper to your spiritual center and with God help you create great relationships?

We can speak from our experience. When we take time each day to pray and meditate, that is a time of relaxation and self-reflection. We can just feel what we've been holding on to all day just melt away. Sometimes we even get a big "ah ha" about how an interaction could have gone better or how our reaction could have closed the other person to us--how we could have loved more.

Now this meditation or pray time doesn't mean you have to sit still for a certain amount of time. Susie "sits" for meditation every day but Otto chooses to meditate during what he calls his "quiet, alone time" and that usually involves taking a walk by himself.

Whatever way fits you, we invite you to begin a meditation/pray/quiet time practice every day. Start with 10 minutes and you'll see the big changes that are in store for you and your relationships.

Next week, we'll give you a few more of our 17 ways to help you create greatin 2008,

17 Ways to Make Your Relationships Great in 2008 - pt. 4

For the past few weeks, we've been giving you some of the ways we've discovered that help create and keep a great relationship.

We're not just paying lip service here and reciting what we think will work or what looks good on paper. We know that these work because we practice them in our own lives.

You probably have heard of Melissa Etheridge and recognize her as a "rock star" and creator of many top hit records.

Whether you like her or her music, we think she's a changed woman who has much to teach us about the things that matter most.

For the past few weeks, we've been listening to Melissa's album "The Awakening" and this CD has made a big impact on our lives.

It''s the story of her 'awakening' after her bout with cancer. Among other things, she awakens to the idea of how important love is in her life and in the world--love for herself and love for others.

In this article (below) and in the articles we've sent you in the past three weeks, we're offering some ideas that will hopefully awaken some part of you to a desire and focus to create more love, passion and connection in your life.

When you read these ideas, you may be thinking that there's nothing new here.

There isn't really. We are sharing them with you because even though they may not seem new, not many of us are doing these kinds of things we talking about below on a consistent basis.

We're offering them to you now (in this article) so that you can open yourself to giving and receiving more love in your life.

In short, see how each of these ideas might work in your life to help you create more of what you want.

1. Be more curious. In our way of thinking, curiosity didn't "kill the cat"(or the relationship)--assumptions did! One of the biggest ways people separate themselves is by making assumptions without first asking for clarification when they don't understand or even when they think they know what another person is thinking.

We think we know what another person is thinking but we don't really know because he/she is looking out at the world in a totally different way than we are.

Here's what we think being curious means...

It means stopping yourself when you find that you have assumed or jumped to a conclusion about why a person said or did something that bothered you.

It means asking the other person something like..."Tell me more about..."

It means not weaving your own story and assigning meaning to what another person says or does.

It means staying in neutral. It may not be easy to do with some people but just start practicing.

2. Set goals in other parts of your life. What we're talking about here is renewing passion in your life--finding something that excites you and that you like to do.

What have you always wanted to find out more about that you keep putting off that you say you'll get to some day?

Susie loves to dance but keeps putting off trying tango lessons. So her goal is to take an introductory tango lesson in the next two weeks.

You goal might be to move your clutter out or to learn photography or even to travel.

Ask yourself what would make your heart sing and then don't wait to do it.

3. Find one new (or old) common interest, desire, goal, activity or cause to share with your partner or a friend.

It's no secret that one of the important elements to a great relationship is sharing time and interests. When our lives take us over (and we hear that phrase a lot), we tend to stop doing the things that have helped us keep our connections with each other.

We forget how to enjoy each other's company, whether it's doing something or just "being" together.

What would you like to do together that you haven't been doing lately? Maybe it's something new that you haven't tried yet?

Maybe it's something simple like eating a meal together without distractions or taking a walk together. Maybe it's planning and planting a garden or learning to scuba or ski.

Whatever it is, do it in part for connection.

4. Learn to breathe. Of course we all know how to breathe or we wouldn't be here. What we're talking about is learning to use your breath a bit differently.

When we are stressed, we quit breathing altogether or take very shallow breaths. When we're in that state, we're certainly not at our best. We can't think clearly and we tend to react from old patterns instead of from our hearts and from love.

So where can you begin to use the breath in more powerful ways than simply keeping you alive?

You can begin by taking a deep breath or several breaths to not only calm yourself but also to create a pause when you get triggered or are in the middle of an argument.

During your love-making, you can experiment with breathing deeply which not only heightens pleasure but helps create a deeper connection.

You can practice breathing more deeply when you are wanting to be more creative--or even wake yourself up when your senses seem to be dulled.

The idea is to use your breath as the wonderful gift that it is to more consciously create what you want in your life.

5. Have more fun. We would certainly be remiss if we didn't include having more fun in our list.

So our question to you is this...

What's "fun" to you?

Is it being with others, doing something that you all enjoy? Is it being with your loved one having a quiet evening at home snuggling on the couch?

Is it playing with your children or grand children?

Is it learning something new that you love to do?

Is it laughing at a silly movie?

Whatever it is, decide that you are going to do more of it during this year.

If you do, you'll find that your life and relationships become filled with love. relationships and what you want more of in 2008.

3 Important R's In Relationships That Can Help You Survive and Thrive, No Matter What

If there's one complaint that we hear over and over about the challenges of relationships, it's this...

"How do you find the time and energy to create and keep great relationships?"

This is such a great question especially since we all seem to be continually busy and stressed much of the time.

This is especially true this time of year when there are so many holiday activities to attend, gifts to buy and preparations to make.

We just seem to be on the go from morning until night--and if we don't interrupt the pattern, it can take its toll on our bodies, our spirits, our emotions and our relationships.

So what's the answer?

The answer comes from a surprising source.


Not just athletes-- but world class athletes who seem to always win over and over.

They have discovered that renewal drives performance.

Whether they realize it or not the best of the best athletes figure out ways to take mini-rest and renewal breaks--even during matches or games--that will help them to be at their best when it really counts.

Perhaps you've seen the tennis pro switching his/her racquet from hand to hand after a point in an important tennis match on TV. Until it was pointed out to us that this switching allowed the arms of his or her dominant hand and arm to relax, we didn't realize what was going on.

We thought it was just "nervous tension" and we didn't realize that this wasn't just nervous tension but actually a recovery and renewal break that would allow the pro to play at his/her optimum level throughout the match.

At this point, you're probably wondering what this has to do with your relationships.

It's simple. If you don't allow yourself to take renewal breaks throughout your day or week, no matter how busy you are, you cannot be who you truly are with those you love--let alone those you don't.

That's why the 3 R's (rest, relaxation and renewal) are so important to you, especially as you try to build and maintain great relationships.

It's true that we all need some amount of stress to expand and grow but continual stress with no rest, renewal and relaxation time is harmful.

When we are under continual stress, we say and do things unconsciously from habit and past experiences and do not consciously choose how we are going to be in our relationships and lives.

When you consciously make choices about your words and actions and are not muddled by stress, you are able to speak and act from a place inside you that is true.

This truth creates intimacy, connection and love with the important people in your life.

Here are a few tips to encourage you to take rest, recovery and renewal time, no matter what's going on in your life...

1. Breathe deeply When we get stressed, we forget to breathe. A mini-renewal break can simply be taking a deep breath in and exhaling all of it, emptying your lungs.Write a note to yourself and put it in your car to remind you to take a deep breath as you sit in traffic or deal with the kids who are arguing in the back seat.

2. Take a 15 minute walk outside We walk around our neighborhood and we've found that even 15 minutes can make a difference in how we feel.

3. Let it go. When something happens that is upsetting to you, don't hold onto it and mull it over. Reliving the painful memory will only keep you from living your life to its fullest and will separate you from the people around you.

Let it go as soon as you have said what you needed to say. If agreements need to be created around the issue, then suggest that the two of you talk about how to "do it differently" the next time.

"Worry" also falls in this category. Don't waste your energy and time "worrying" about someone or something. It only creates more stress and agitation inside you.

Spend your "thought" time on what makes you happy and your heart sing.

If you focus on loving yourself and others, instead of worrying about them or holding onto grudges, we think you'll see a big difference in your relationships.

Renewal, rest and recovery may seem to be the last thing that you think you have time for but we'd urge you to re-think that belief.

These 3 r's are not only absolutely necessary for the health and happiness of your physical body and mental outlook but are also essential to the health and continual growth of your relationships.

©2008 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 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001. Other Relationship Issues, Books

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