May 2016
CoupleforLife.com

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Featured Article
    10 Things to Give up to Improve Your Relationship!
  • Ask Our Coaches
    My husband doesn't like to talk about his feelings. How can I get him to open up?

FEATURED Article

10 Things to Give up to Improve Your Relationship!

By: Lori Ann Davis

Relationships can be challenging. We take two different people with different beliefs, thoughts, and personalities. We put them together and expect them to create a happy life together. Add to the fact that there are so many differences between men and women, and it is a wonder we get together at all. Letís face it, relationships take work. They are easier to navigate when we know how to do so successfully. Most of us learn a lot of things in school but how to create a long- term loving, healthy relationship is usually not one of them.

Ten things to give up in order to have a better relationship:

  1. Stop comparing your relationship to your friends or the ones you see on TV.TV is not reality, yet we can get caught up in the fairytale of how relationships "should" be. If you compare your partner to your friendís, you can set yourself up for disappointment. Remember, you do not live their life, and you are probably only getting part of the story. Find the good in your relationship and move forward from there.
  2. Stop trying to control your partner. We are unique individuals and have different thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and ways of doing things. In many situations, there is no right or wrong way, just a different way. Learning to love and accept our partner for who they are, including their differences, creates stronger relationships.
  3. Stop blaming your partner for the problems in your relationship. This also means not waiting for them to change to improve your relationship. This takes away your power to positively impact your life and your relationship. When you become the best partner you can be, you elicit the best from your partner as well. In my coaching practice, I will frequently work with just one partner helping them to successfully improve their relationship.
  4. Give up negative talk. This includes what you say to your partner, others and yourself. The thoughts and words you use are powerful! Becoming aware of your words and changing them can be a first step in improving any area of your life.
  5. Get rid of limiting beliefs. Once you look at your words and thoughts, go one step further and look for limiting beliefs that are contributing to those thoughts. What beliefs do you have about relationships that are negative? You might have learned them from your family or your past experiences. It is time to let go of them and replace them with positive beliefs. You cannot make positive changes with negative beliefs.
  6. Stop complaining about all the small things. Then realize that most things are small things. Instead of complaining, make a list of all the things you like about your partner. Once you get into the habit, it is just as easy to focus on what you like. Now take it one step further and tell your partner how much you appreciate them and why.
  7. Stop making excuses and putting off investing in your relationship. I know you are busy with work, children, and all the other priorities in your life. If you want your relationship to continue or to improve, it takes time and effort. Your relationship has to be a priority. Make time for your partner. Learn to understand them better, learn new communication skills, work on problem areas, add more fun to your time together, and make them a priority. Invest in your partnership.
  8. Let go of any resistance to change. If you do the same things you have been doing, you will get the same results. What do you need to change in your relationship in order to grow together as a couple? Start today by doing something small. If you need ideas, I have written a book, Unmasking Secrets to Unstoppable Relationships: How to Find, Keep, and Renew Love and Passion in Your Life. It is full of small things you can do to improve your relationship.
  9. Let go of unrealistic expectations. Know your requirements in a relationship, the essentials you need to build a strong foundation. Focus on those and let go of the rest. Know what issues to compromise on and when it is time to agree to disagree. Take a look at your expectations and make sure they are realistic. Your partner is not responsible for your happiness nor do they have to fulfill all of your needs.
  10. Stop looking behind you and look forward. The past is in the past, and you have a new opportunity every day to create a better future. When you stay stuck in the past, moving forward is impossible. The past provides a great opportunity to learn, but then it is time to let go. I know this can be difficult to do sometimes, and you might need help from a counselor or relationship coach.


Copyright © 2016 by Lori Ann Davis and the Relationship Coaching Institute. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Lori Ann Davis,MA, CRS empowers singles and couples to live richer, fuller, happier lives by helping them create unstoppable relationships. Lori is a Certified Relationship Specialist with over 25 years experience. For more information and free Radical Marriage resources for couples visit www.lorianndavis.com

Ask Our Coaches

My husband doesn't like to talk about his feelings. How can I get him to open up?

Dear Coaches,

My husband absolutely hates to talk about his feelings. Most of the time I have to guess at what's wrong if he seems mad or upset. I ask him what is wrong and he always says "I'm fine". If I persist, he says he is only mad that I keep asking him "what's wrong"! How can I get him to start communicating with me?


Annette Carpien

Annette responds ...

The distinction between Talker' and 'Thinker' may be helpful here. As a Talker, you want to get thoughts and feelings out in the open. As a Thinker, he processes things in his head and needs time and perhaps emotional safety to come out of his head or cave to talk or connect.

Think instead, of what could help you two be more connected, on the same team, and more available to give and receive love. Isn't that what you really want?

Useful skills (notice my reframe) to 'communicate to connect' might be:

  • Looking for the bigger picture: Telling him what outcome(s) or experiences you really want for your marriage, such as wanting both of you to feel loved, valued, appreciated and happy together.
  • Acknowledging and/or apologizing for the role you might have played in his upset.
  • Validating him or appreciating him for what he does bring to your marriage.
  • Asking what he needs to want to connect with you.

Learning how to sustainably shift from power struggle to feeling highly connected, while striving to meet each others needs, is a growth and stretching process we work towards in marriage coaching.

Annette Carpien | www.greatrelationshipscoaching.com


Lewis Denbaum

Lewis responds ...

Unfortunately, we men were taught to repress our feelings. After years of repression, most men need the help of a coach or a men's weekend to learn to be aware of their feelings and to express them. As you have experienced, your prodding is counter-productive. Try telling him what you see objectively and how it makes you feel. "When I see you sitting there quietly, I wonder if you've had a bad day. I love you and want to see you happy." Leave it at that. After using this approach, he may eventually open up. Don't push. Give him his space. That's the way he will know your care. Judging him adds to his misery and pushes him away. Be lovingly patient. Resist trying to make him happy. Be there for him when his mood shifts. Spend time with your girlfriends when he isn't available.

Lewis Denbaum | www.madlyinloveforever.com


Lynn Goodacre

Lynn responds ...

Many women dream of having a man who will open up and share his feelings just like her best girlfriends! However, for a lot of men, talking about feelings can be difficult. This can be due to 1) not knowing what they are feeling; 2) not having the words to describe what they are feeling and 3) equating vulnerability with weakness so they are actually afraid to open up. If a man has had bad experiences in the past with his feelings minimized by another or used against him, he will be extra cautious.

It sounds like your approach has been to be a bit aggressive in trying to get him to open up. Clearly that isn't working! How might things be different if you shared with him what it would mean to you and to your relationship if he opened up a bit more. Then perhaps instead of asking him how he's "feeling" (which can be a trigger word for some men!) you might ask what he thinks about something. That can act as a toe in the water for some men to start on a small scale to reveal some of their inner landscape. When he talks, be sure to give him lots of space to answer and don't jump in with more questions! This can take time, so be patient!

Lynn Goodacre | www.lovecoachlynn.com


Jean Feldeisen

Jean responds ...

As a wife and a long time counselor and coach, I can certainly relate to your frustration This is a common complaint of females in relationships and it is at least partly related to gender differences: feeling talk is much more the province of females. Don't despair, though, you are not doomed to one-word answers or silence forever.

First, consider why you want him to 'open up'? Why is it important to you and how important is it? Do you really need information here or are you looking for something else. Be clear about what you want. Next, set aside a time when you can talk with your husband. Tell him how you feel when he is silent, make a clear request of him. Let him know that hearing how he feels will help you feel closer to him and could have other benefits. Ask him when or how you could best ask him for this kind of talking without annoying him.

This is new behavior for both of you so be patient. Allow your closeness a chance to develop by listening carefully and being respectful of what this man trusts you enough to give you.

Jean Feldeisen | http://jeanannefeldeisen.relationshipcoach.org


The opinions stated are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the staff, members, or leadership of Relationship Coaching Institute.

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your question here and it will be forwarded to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.

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