Blog Archives

A Complete Apology

Back in 1998 I had a conversation with Dr. Stan Dale about apologies. What stayed in my memory from that conversation is that it helps the other person feel better when we acknowledge the effect our behavior had on them. I’ve been refining this through the years…

A Complete Apology

  1. My behavior: “What I did was…”
  2. “The effect(s) on you (and/or our relationship) was…”

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Emotional Constriction

Emotional Constriction is a way I have a viewing our range of feelings and what happens when we shut down.

View your feelings as if along a number line, like this:

-10 –9 –8 –7 –6 –5 –4 –3 –2 –1   0  +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10

Imagine the feelings on the left as those that you feel uncomfortable with and those on the right as those that you really enjoy.

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Unhealthy Bonding

This month I found myself explaining to my clients some key concepts from psychotherapy that often play out with your partner. The goal is to assess if you are standing alone or bonded together in an unhealthy way.

Term: Fusion. This is the experience we have when we feel intensely,

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Choice Partnering

If you’re an individual that’s tired of ending up in the wrong relationship, or you are a couple and you want to look at the compatibility of your relationship, then give this experiment a go.

Imagine you have one chance (and only one chance) to choose a partner for the rest of your life.

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Truth Hurts?

We lie. It’s human nature. If you think you don’t lie, think again. If you withhold the truth, then you lie. If you dig down deep, you can always find ways that you tell little untruths, or ways that you hold back truths for fear that they might hurt someone.

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Tell Me About…

This month I found myself assisting my clients in reducing conflict through a very specific listening style. The goal is to get out of the trap of defensiveness, trying to win, trying to be right, or trying to hammer your point home, when you could be listening instead. When you listen without your personal agenda getting in the way of the one who is speaking,

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What is Your Purpose as a Couple?

When I was asked to create my personal mission statement I decided I didn’t like the phrase “mission statement.” What I wanted was a “life purpose.” I don’t like being on a mission. It conjures up negatives for me like being forced and directed and it sounds like plans and goals and targets.

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Being Understood

For the month of June I found myself spending significant time getting my clients to help one another stay calm. Pain and anger in a relationship can do so much damage — it leads to attacking and defending and pulling away.

The best tool to use is “active listening.” It’s called “active”

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Vulnerability

This month’s theme is vulnerability.

It takes vulnerability to get access to the pain that lives under your anger and share that with your sweetie — this simple mind-shift can change your daily experience and improve the relationship.

It’s such a simple thing, but not easy to do.

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7/7/07 Reprint of a Wave Magazine Article

Reprinted from The Wave Magazine, January 10-23, 2007 Page 27.

 7/7/07 Couples hope their lucky wedding date will bring lasting marriages.

Despite Census Bureau reports that the United States has experienced three-and-a-half decades of divorce rates reaching 50 percent or higher, some soon-to-be-married couples are feeling lucky this year.

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Colors of An Argument

I’ve been seeing a lot of high-conflict couples lately. They get too emotionally intense when in conflict. They don’t know when to back down or take a break from the arguments. Damage is done. Things are said that leave permanent scars. They are trying to win or be right and they aren’t being heard and they stop listening —

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Wanting In Your Heart

This month I have my mind filled with the difference between wanting something in your mind and wanting something in your heart.

I suggested to a client that there is a difference, and I have taken a long look at this.

I think that wanting from the mind is an “ego” thing or a “should” thing and wanting from the heart is a “soul” thing.

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Don’t Drift Apart — Pursue, Pursue, Pursue

During April I saw a lot of couples struggling to simply love on another. Why is it so difficult to just be the essence of love? Why do couples stop giving and receiving love?

Apart from the difficult and obvious issues of deep wounds and intense fighting, I have seen,

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Changing Thought and Changing Behavior

This month my clients struggled with using the power of their minds to change their behavior. I haven’t liked watching infomercials, or talk shows, where a guru tries to get us to believe that we can change our behavior with just a change in thought. I don’t like reading self-help books that claim the same thing.

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Hurt Is Not A Feeling

Hurt is not a feeling?

Well, maybe hurt is a feeling, but when you use the word “hurt” with your partner, they usually want to defend — saying they didn’t hurt you.

Instead, say that you feel pain when something happens.  As in, “It’s painful when…”

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Sailing Into The Conflict

This month I found myself using my new, favorite metaphor of sailing to describe relationships. The storm at sea is the potential conflict in the relationship.

I don’t sail, but I have played computer games about sailing. When I see the storm out at sea I have several options: 1) lower my sails and wait and see what happens,

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Debugging Your Life

Through the years I’ve worked a lot with anger management. One of the things I tell clients regularly is to notice their anger on a gradient of intensity that goes something like this: bugged, bothered, irritated, annoyed, angry, furious. Somewhere in there, you need to know where your point of no return is.

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Romance Haze

The early “romance phase” should be renamed the “romance haze”

For the month of January 2005, a theme about falling in love emerged with my clients. I’ve heard it described as bliss, enmeshment, as if we are the same person, as if we are one, etc. And, of course,

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The Walls Between Us

This month’s article was prompted by something I’ve found myself discussing with couples at least 15 times this month: bricks that build a wall between us.

My visual image of intimacy, or the lack of it, between partners is this: Each resentment that we hold against our partner is like a brick in a wall between us.

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Practicing Scales With Your Partner

This month, the theme for couples emerged as self-disclosure — how we become known to one another — that is, intimacy. How well do we share who we are and then negotiate from there? Many of us struggle with disclosing how important things are to us. So this month, I am suggesting a look at the very simple concept of a 0-10 scale.

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Cell Phone Gone Bad

Recently I heard a radio ad about a new cell phone service designed to rescue you from a bad first-date.

It works like this:

At a preplanned time, a cell-company-automated-system will call you, and unbeknownst to your date, walk you through a script, making it sound like you have to leave in the middle of your date to handle something important.

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Romance and Connection

This month I found myself repeating the importance of romantic dates for couples. I feel sad for many people in my office. They are so busy and stressed that they don’t go out on dates or pause for even a few, short moments of connection. For years, I’ve been telling couples that they need to go out on regular,

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Appreciating Your Partner

This month I was drawing a blank on my creative writing of what happens for me with clients, so I am just “freewriting” to see where it goes.

March was my birthday. It was good and bad. I see that life is a lot like that, depending on where you place your focus.

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