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To All the Strong Women (and Men)

Strong womenI had many TURNING POINTS in my dating. One of the most significant was when I started to look at my STRENGTH.

Like many women today, I PRIDED myself on being a “STRONG AND INDEPENDENT,” too strong for many if not MOST men.

When I was 8 years old, I saw my father CRUSH my mother’s spirit when he left her for another woman.

Five years later, when my mother was DYING of breast cancer, she tried to share as much of her WISDOM with me as possible. The one thing I remember most was when she WARNED ME: “Never let a man do to you what your father did to me.” I was only 13 at the time and I STRUGGLED to put her advice in perspective.

For many years after that, I SWORE I wouldn’t wind up like my mother—left to fend for herself with two small children.

To me, it seemed like MOST women were WEAK and insipid, and I refused to DUMB myself down or PANDER to a man. I told myself anything a man could do I could do.

Since the BIRTH CONTROL PILL had been approved the year before I was born and ABORTION was legalized by the Supreme Court in 1973, I was among the first generation of women who had FULL CONTROL over their own bodies. I felt like I was free to do whatever I wanted without apology or SHAME, including act like a man.

When I set out to date again at 39, I admitted TO MYSELF that something wasn’t working with men and me. They still didn’t find me attractive, even though I had reduced myself from a size 14 to a shapely size 8. I also had done a GREAT DEAL of inner personal work. I liked myself. I had developed a POSITIVE MINDSET. I had wonderful friends and an AWESOME Dog. I thought I was PRETTY COOL… but men weren’t buying it.

At the time, I was part of an amazing SPIRITUAL GROUP spearheaded by Don Miguel Ruiz, author of ‘The Four Agreements.’ One day, Miguel brought me in front of the group and said, “This is a WOMAN OF POWER.” He didn’t say, “This is a powerful woman.” He said, “This is a woman of power.”

Miguel’s words rang in my ear for a long time. He’s a shaman, and he sees people’s TRUE NATURE. At the time, I didn’t know what to make of what he said, but I knew it was IMPORTANT.

On another occasion, he told me privately, “You are a woman of power and you FRIGHTEN MEN.” I was stunned. I didn’t say it aloud, but I thought, “Thanks, Miguel. What I am supposed to do with THAT?”

I could have used his words to feed my ego, but I didn’t because the last thing I wanted to do was frighten men. I wanted them to feel SAFE and be ATTRACTED to me.

Miguel’s words led me to question many of my beliefs about who I was. I realized that being powerful meant nothing if I was allowing that power to WORK AGAINST me and PUSH men away.

I’ve come to realize that we all have SUPERPOWERS. One of mine IS strength. I couldn’t get rid of it if I tried. It’s who I am at my CORE.

But just like all those kids in the Marvel movies, the ones they send to that school run by Patrick Stewart if I didn’t learn how to harness that power and use it wisely and judiciously, I was going to keep BLOWING things up and PUSHING men away.

I knew the time had come for me to ACCEPT the fact that I am, in fact, woman. This was a HUGE SHIFT in my consciousness, it opened up a whole new world of DISCOVERY and POSSIBILITY. I was finally able to see that I wasn’t attracting the kind of man I wanted because THAT MAN would have been attracted to a WOMAN, not a man in a woman’s body.

Ironically, the more I embraced this ESSENTIAL part of myself, the more attractive I became and the more GENUINELY EMPOWERED I felt with men.

I realized that I had never wanted to be HARD on or GUARDED with them. When I was honest with myself, I admitted that all my life I had longed for a man to PROTECT and take care of me. I guess I just hadn’t been ready to let down my guard so a man could do that for me.  I was finally learning to be emotionally naked, and I can show YOU how I started this process in my free online workshop.

Of course, I can do those things for myself, but I can feel that I am most BEAUTIFUL when my GUARD is completely down and I can be that sweet, innocent little girl who never felt SAFE enough to come out and play… until now.

For so much of my life, I’d used my STRENGTH and independence as a way of staying SAFE because I really didn’t understand what it meant to be a woman OR a man.

I now know that EVERY woman and EVERY man has to find his or her NATURAL frequency. If you’re heterosexual, bisexual, transgendered or gay, you have to be willing to EMBRACE who you truly are. You can’t go against your TRUE NATURE.

I AM a woman of power, but it doesn’t serve me to use that power to frighten men.

I still don’t suffer fools lightly. I never have and I never will. Players and misogynists INSTINCTIVELY know to leave me alone. I sometimes wonder if I wear some kind of an invisible sign that reads, “Don’t even bother…”

But now, I can honestly say that I am VERY PROUD to be a woman and I know how to use my STRENGTH in a feminine way to make a man feel SAFE and like he’s my KING. Just ask my husband if you don’t believe me.

XO,

LISA

P.S. For more dating insights, check out my Free Online Workshop!

Men, Want More Hanky Panky & a Happier Partner?

Men, Want More Hanky Panky & a Happier Partner?

Men, Want More Hanky Panky & a Happier Partner?

Read On!

According to John Gottman, renowned psychologist and relationship expert, women have two major complaints about men:

  1. He’s never there for me
  2. There isn’t enough intimacy and connection in the relationship

I’ve heard the same thing from many of my female clients struggling in their own relationships. It’s hard to have a naked relationship when they don’t feel like their male counterparts are truly there for them. It isn’t simply that they aren’t around enough or that they’re cheating, it’s that they aren’t there for them emotionally. They don’t feel like their men hear or understand them. Left unchecked, these disappointments can be the downfall of a relationship. When I talk about a having naked relationship, I am talking about one that’s emotionally open, but in this case, I am also talking about getting physically naked, too. If a woman doesn’t feel emotionally connected to her partner, odds are she isn’t going to want to have sex with him.

When my husband and I got married, one of his vows was that he would be a guardian of my soul. He promised to be there for me in every way—to listen to me, care for me, and safeguard my heart. For the 14 years we’ve been married, he’s stayed true to his word.

I’ll admit, he’s a rare breed, but one of the things that keeps our relationship so strong is our willingness to practice a simple skill everyday that Gottman refers to as attunement. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but when cultivated over time, it can truly transform a relationship.

Attunement essentially means you’re listening to your partner without judgment or pretense.

A – Awareness

T – Turning Toward

T – Tolerance

U – Understanding

N – Non-defensive Responding

E – Empathy

“When men ‘attune’ to their women,” Gottman explains, “there is less fighting, more frequent (and better) sex, and both men and women no longer feel so alone. The fights of many couples result from men dismissing women’s emotions instead of attuning to them. You dismiss woman’s emotions every time you try to fix them, distract her from them, minimize them, mock them, or ignore them altogether.”

Here are 10 ways to start attuning to your partner and strengthening your relationship today!

  1. Give your undivided attention when your partner is sharing with you. Put away your iPhone, turn off the TV.
  2. Make eye contact.
  3. Show genuine interest in trying to understand why she’s talking about a particular issue.
  4. Ask open-ended questions. For example, rather than simply asking “are you upset?” you might say, “You seem upset, is anything going on?”
  5. Listen without giving advice or immediately trying to fix the problem.
  6. Try to feel how she is feeling whether or not you agree.
  7. Validate how she’s feeling. “The emotional part of the brain calms down when it feels connected to another person and not alone. Show empathy,” Gottman suggests. How cool is that?
  8. Create opportunities for connection in small ways every day. For example, set aside 10 minutes every evening to share your day with no interruptions, or take turns giving each other a short massage.
  9. Identify shared goals. For example, maybe you both want to exercise more or plan a dream vacation together in the next 12 months.
  10. When you experience conflict, genuinely ask yourself: “Am I turning toward my partner, or am I turning away?”

When you’re in a long-term relationship, it can be easy to slip into bad habits and start to disregard your partner’s feelings. Sue Johnson, the creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) talks about how many couples today are so isolated that they become each other’s sole emotional support system. So, if you’re not tuning into your partner’s needs, she can start to feel incredibly alone and alienated from the person she loves most.

It only takes a few small steps to reignite the connection between the two of you and bring back the spark that attracted you to each other in the first place. And remember, when she gets more of she wants from the relationship, you’ll get more of what you want—a happy partner and more sex!

If you are having trouble attuning to your partner book a consult with me to see how I can help.

Men, Want More Hanky Panky & a Happier Partner?

 

Those Who Know How to Think Need no Teachers

Those Who Know How to Think Need no Teachers

8 Things to Avoid on a First Date

8 Things to Avoid on a First Date

8 Things to Avoid on a First Date

You finally went on a date with someone you feel excited about. The conversation seemed effortless, the chemistry was undeniable, and you went to bed that night with the innate sense that you would see this person again. But the days have ticked by, and you haven’t heard a word. You’re starting to wonder whether you might have done something to turn your date off… but what?

If you find yourself having trouble getting to a second date—even when you thought things went well—there’s a good chance you’re sabotaging your chances without even realizing it. Here are eight things to avoid doing on a first date… so you can have better odds of making it to the second!

  1. Making it all about you

Let’s face it: there are few things worse than being stuck on dates with people who only talk about themselves. I know because this was my biggest mistake when I was dating. I was so busy trying to entertain my dates and make them like me that I wasn’t even paying attention to whether or not they were enjoying the show. If I could go back and ask all the guys I went out with what I’d done wrong, many of them would say that they thought I was self-absorbed. What I’ve since learned is learned is to pause every now and then when I am talking to check in with the person sitting across from me. I might ask their opinion about something I’ve said or ask if they’ve had a similar experience. Here’s a tip: if you’ve been talking and notice you’ve barely touched your cocktail—but your date looks ready to order a second—you need to hit the pause button and give him/her a chance to join in.

  1. Turning your date into an interrogation

Most of us go into a date knowing there are certain things we simply must have in a partner (for example, you absolutely want children and are looking for a partner who feels the same or you require a certain degree of financial stability) and you don’t want to waste time with someone who isn’t on the same page. Before you know it, you’re firing off a dozen questions and your date feels like he/she is on the witness stand. Talk about a buzzkill. No matter how hard you try, you’re not going to learn everything you need to know on a first date. So save yourself—and your date—the aggravation and don’t try. The object of the first date is to have a good time and to see if there’s enough intrigue and attraction to warrant a second. The more pressure you put on yourself to figure out whether this person is “the one,” the more pressure you’re going to put on the date… and the more pressure you put on the date, the less likely your date is going to want to see you again. Try asking questions that are more subtle or indirect, that don’t sound probing. Instead of asking, “Are you looking for a committed relationship?” ask, “What inspired you to sign up for Bumble?” Also, really listen to what your date is saying. People reveal themselves through the stories they tell and the little comments they make like, “I can be a real bitch sometimes.” I had a client who was dating a man who mentioned he’d been accused of being narcissistic. Guess what? He was!

  1. Drinking Too Much

Sure, it might help you relax, lower your inhibitions, give you confidence and a sharp wit, but hit your limit and disaster can strike. Charm and wit can quickly make way for inappropriate questions, boasting, and first date sex. If you know you’re going to be drinking, eat something before the date and know your limits. I repeat: Know. Your. Limits. If you have a tendency to overindulge, stick to club soda. Also, remember, the rule of thumb is to have one glass of water for every drink.

  1. Trash talking

This one might sound obvious, but talking badly about people you know (you lose even more points for talking badly about an ex—don’t bring them up at all), past dates, the waiter, or the girl’s cheesy outfit at the table across from you is a no-no. The same thing goes for talking badly about yourself—self-deprecation isn’t sexy. There are so many things to talk about on a first date… trash talk is cheap and boring. You know the old adage: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Make it your mantra!

  1. Showing up late

When it comes to first dates, there’s no such thing as being fashionably late. It won’t make you seem sexy or mysterious—it will just make you look like a jerk. If you’re running late, have the decency to give your date a call or send a text and let him/her know you’re on your way. Then, offer another apology when you arrive. Or, better yet, show up a few minutes early.

  1. Airing your dirty laundry

Life is tough… maybe you think you’re going to lose your job, your roommate is a total psycho, or your meds stopped working. These are things you can talk about during happy hour with your friends or on the phone with your mom, but not on a first date. Your friends and family know you on a deeper level, they’ve invested in the relationship, and they have a reason to care. Your date does not. I don’t care how intense your connection is, there’s nothing sexy about TMI. Trust me. If you wind up dating, it will come back to haunt you!

  1. Appearing overeager

You’ve been on more bad dates than you can count, and finally, you’re sitting across from someone who’s attractive, intelligent, and fun. Within ten minutes you know you want to see this person again. That’s great… but you don’t have to announce it. It’s one thing to compliment your date and let him or her know you’re having a good time, but avoid appearing desperate or overeager. Don’t shower your date with compliments and don’t start planning the second date out loud. Everything in moderation… including enthusiasm.

  1. Bad Manners

Whether it’s talking with your mouth full, texting, picking at your teeth, or cursing like a sailor, there’s nothing like bad manners to kill the chemistry… and your chances of a second date. Learn how to use a knife and fork, save the swear words for the basketball court, and keep your iPhone in your purse (or pocket). In other words, behave like someone your date would take home to his/her parents, and you just might find yourself at Sunday dinner.

 

Are you having trouble getting second dates and not sure why? Book a consultation and see how I can help!

The Hateful 8: Eight Things to Avoid on a First Date

 

Screw the Chase

Screw the ChaseScrew the Chase:

Why sleeping with a man shouldn’t be about the “hot pursuit”

If you listen to most of the dating advice out there, the answer is yes: a man will lose interest if you don’t play hard to get. But, while it’s true that some guys may lose interest, this shouldn’t be your primary concern when deciding whether you’re ready to sleep with someone.

In my 13 years as a dating coach, I’ve seen it all. I’ve had clients who dated men who had no intention of getting into a relationship and pushed for sex. I’ve also had clients who dated men who wouldn’t sleep with them right away because they said they were interested in pursuing a relationship and wanted to get to know them first. I have male clients who say they don’t lose respect for women who have sex with them right away, and I’ve read countless studies that suggest having sex early on doesn’t necessarily diminish the odds of having a relationship.

In one such study, Dean Busby, of Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, surveyed 2,035 heterosexual married individuals with an average age of 36. Forty percent of the participants reported sleeping with their spouses within the first two dates… so clearly, many men aren’t just in it for the chase.

So, what should you be thinking about?

At the end of the day, the smartest thing a woman can do is to avoid playing games or following someone else’s rules, and start thinking about what’s in her own best interest. So, maybe it’s time you stop worrying about what a man is going to think of you and start taking yourself into consideration. What makes you feel appreciated, respected, and secure?

This might not apply to you, but most women say they feel more secure in a relationship when they wait to sleep with a man. They feel that if a guy is willing to wait for sex and spend time getting to know them first, it shows a certain level of maturity and she feels valued as a person. In fact, there are many statistics that show that when couples wait to have sex and establish a deep friendship first, they form a stronger emotional bond that can stand the test of time.

Good things come to those who wait!

You may have heard me say this before, but I encourage my clients—men and women alike—to wait between one to three months before having sex.

This isn’t because of what your date will think of you, it’s because you need to take the time to get to know someone before you sleep with him. It’s naïve to think you can know someone in a few hours or a few days. Something else to consider is that having sex too soon can create a false sense of intimacy. Even though pillow talk feels deep, it only seems so because you’re naked… and because you just had sex! Your body is literally flooded with hormones that are designed to make you feel a strong biological connection to the person lying next to you.

In the 13 years I’ve been coaching, every client—male and female—who took my advice and waited to have sex has come back and told me they were glad they did. It changed everything for them. Not one person regretted waiting.

No matter what your body is telling you, I encourage you to take the time to get to know someone before you jump into bed. If you really want a meaningful, lasting relationship, it’s wise to slow down and get emotionally naked first. The sex will be that much better.

Why He Won’t Marry You

Why He Won't Marry You

Why He Won’t Marry You 

Falling in love never felt so good

If you’re a woman who dreams of getting married, and especially if you want children, there’s nothing more devastating than hearing the love of your life suddenly start to question if he’s really the marrying kind. You distinctly remember that he was one who mentioned marriage in the first place. It was a couple of months after you’d started dating. You were at Trader Joe’s laughing and shopping together. You couldn’t believe that two people could have so much fun doing something so ordinary. Just as you were reaching for an avocado, you felt his arm around your waist. He spun you around, looked deep in your eyes and said, “I think I could get used to this. I might even marry you one day.” Your heart exploded. These were the words you’d been waiting your whole life to hear.

When reality sets in

Fast-forward two years later, and everything’s changed. The man who claimed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with you is having second thoughts. The more he applies the brakes, the more hurt and anxious you feel… and with good reason. You’re almost 35. You want kids now more than ever, and your biological clock is t-i-c-k-i-n-g! Any man in his right mind knows you don’t mention marriage to a woman unless you mean it. Did he mean it? And if he did, what made him change his mind?

In the early throes of passion, it’s easy for two people to make big promises to each other: marriage… children… a chocolate lab and a white picket fence. When a relationship is shiny and new and there are no issues or problems getting in the way, a man might really feel like the woman he’s with is The One and imagine spending the rest of his life with her. Sometimes, it’s even the man who sets the wheels in motion and brings the issue of marriage and children up first. But then, months or years down the line, things change. One day he’s talking about diamond rings and babies, the next day everything comes to a screeching halt. The man who claimed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with you is starting to rethink everything.

What the hell happened?

He led you to believe that you were on the same page, that one day you would get married and start a family together, so you invested precious years of your life in the relationship. Now, it feels like your whole life is unraveling. What the hell happened?

As a relationship coach, one of the biggest reasons I hear men give for questioning marriage is that the dynamics of the relationship have changed. A partnership that once felt easy and harmonious is now rife with anger and fighting, and the man doesn’t know how to deal with it.

When clients discuss this issue during their sessions, the women often claim the fighting and anxiety is a result of their partner’s hesitation to propose. Or, they’ve proposed, but they’re evasive when it comes to discussing the wedding. The women are convinced that all their troubles will be resolved once they walk down the aisle. But the men are afraid the fighting will carry over into the marriage. The men say that they believe there’s something about the way the women are pressuring and pushing to get their way that isn’t going to stop just because they’re married.

A vicious cycle

The more anxious and angry a woman gets, the more a man will dig in his heels. Men don’t want to be mothered or told what to do. They don’t want to be given ultimatums or deadlines and made to feel like they’re being pushed into doing something before they’re ready. Women, on the other hand, face very real deadlines, and the thought of missing out on marriage and a family can be traumatizing, not to mention anxiety provoking. It’s a vicious cycle.

Of course, there may be other factors at play as well: marriage, children, and a home all cost money. Though times have changed and many women are out-earning men, many men still feel it’s their duty to be financially responsible for their partner. There’s also tremendous pressure when it comes to taking on debt to finance a lavish wedding, not to mention the financial burden of children. Women also need to consider other, deeper issues that may be driving their partner’s fear, like coming from a broken family, having a father who cheated or a mother who was alcoholic. These difficult early life experiences can cause many men to feel avoidant and harbor a real fear of commitment, which is a serious issue that can be hard to discern in the midst of all the drama and fighting.

Getting to “I Do”

The very best thing a couple in this situation can do for themselves is to seek the help of a therapist or coach. I put my clients through some very structured listening exercises so that they can really start to hear each other’s perspectives and gain a deeper understanding of what’s happening on both sides. I encourage my clients to recognize that, in this situation, there are two people who are hurt and scared, and help them learn to come from a place of love rather than anger and desperation. Until both members of the couple understand where the other is coming from, it will be very difficult to move forward.

It is heartbreaking to find yourself in a position where the person you want to spend the rest of your life with won’t commit. With a ticking clock and your whole future hanging in the balance, it’s understandable that you would feel anxious and hurt. If you’ve found yourself in this situation and don’t know where to turn, I encourage you to set up a consultation and see how I can help.

He Lost Me at Marie Calendar's

 

 

 

 

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Slow and Stead Wins the Race

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

The other day, my client Tracy came in for a session. We had been working together for a few months. She was getting a great response online, going on lots of dates, but she hadn’t met anyone that she was excited about… until Charlie.

“Lisa, we had the most amazing date,” she exclaimed, her eyes practically rolling back in her head as she sunk into the chair. “He isn’t like other men I’ve met. He’s so sweet… and handsome… and successful… and the chemistry is OFF. THE. CHARTS.”

“Oh boy,” I thought to myself, “here we go again.”

There was no denying it: Tracy was drunk on lust, and she certainly wasn’t the first client of mine who’d taken that drink. It killed me to have to be the one to put a damper on her enthusiasm and remind her to slow down, but that’s what she was paying me for: to be the ultimate buzz kill. But seriously, I like to think of myself as the voice of reason.

So, let’s be reasonable. When you go on a first date with someone who makes your body tingle from head to toe and your brain run in endless little circles of excitement, you need to remind yourself to s l o w down, breathe, and proceed with caution. Think about this: It’s a big leap from, “Oh my God, we have so much in common and the chemistry is so intense!” to “Let’s get married, make babies, and spend the rest of our lives together.”

When I was younger, I would completely spin out when I met someone I liked. He would be all I could think about. Fourteen years ago, when I posted my profile and pictures on an online dating site for the first time, I had a little talk with myself. “Lisa,” I said, “you are done rushing into relationships. It doesn’t work. No matter how much chemistry and connection you feel with someone, you cannot truly know a man on a first date or a second date or, even, a third.” At the end of every date with someone I found attractive, I would remind myself, “Lisa’s, he’s a nice guy AND you don’t know him.”

When I met my future husband, I spent two hours staring into the kindest eyes I had ever seen. I could tell that he was someone very special and he seemed to be enamored with me, as well. Still, as I drove the few blocks from the restaurant back home to my apartment, I reminded myself, “That was one of the kindest men you’ve ever met AND you don’t know him.” I had been on dates with men who seemed wonderful in the moment, only to never hear from them again and I’d learned not to get ahead of myself.

It takes time for two people to really get to know each other, to know each other’s hopes, dreams, and fears. Most importantly, it takes time to discover the places where you both clash and draw your lines. Some people say that you don’t really start to know someone until you’ve had your first argument. I agree that the first fight is usually the turning point where most relationships start to get real. I am not a big believer in fireworks and love at first sight. In my 12 years as a dating coach I have seen almost all of these magic encounters burn out as quickly as they started.

Most people want to feel wowed when they meet their soul mate, but there are no shortcuts to creating a real love that will last. Slow and steady wins the race. I know this sounds boring, but take it from a woman who will be celebrating her twelfth wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks. Think about it: if you’re really going to spend the rest of your life with someone, what’s the hurry?

 

Are you having trouble taking your time during the dating process and need some advice? Book a free consultation and see how I can help!

The One Thing You Must Know to Make Your Marriage Last

The One Thing You Must Know to Make Your Marriage Last

The One Thing You Must Know to Make Your Marriage Last

The one thing you must know to make your marriage last is how to stop fighting over petty things and take the higher road. It’s so painful when I sit and listen to the couples I coach going round in circles, fighting over the smallest things. I can see this takes a tremendous emotional toll on their individual self esteem and on the relationship.

Couples who are able to choose their battles wisely and frequently take the higher road experience what psychiatrists call Positive Sentiment Override. Even when they have a misunderstanding, these couples are quick to override their negative thoughts with positive ones and give their partner the benefit of the doubt. Most couples are in a state of Positive Sentiment Override when they first meet. But when disappointments mount and issues don’t get resolved, many couples find themselves falling into a state of Negative Sentiment Override. This is where everything their partner says or does—whether negative or positive—seems suspicious.

Some people have a hard time believing what I am about to say, but for the past thirteen years, my husband and I have been in an almost perpetual state of Positive Sentiment Override. This isn’t blind luck. Both Benjamin and I had been in very difficult marriages in the past and we wanted to learn from our mistakes. So, we each did a great deal of therapy and other self-improvement courses before we met.

Some of the most powerful work I did was when I participated for several years in an intimate, transformational group with Don Miguel Ruiz, author of “The Four Agreements.” (If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it.) When I first met Miguel, I was a member of the walking wounded—guarded, sensitive, and hyper-vigilant. While I resonated with all four agreements, the one that changed my life was “Don’t take anything personally.” This agreement was my e-ticket to a killer relationship. For months on end, I focused on mastering this one skill. Every time someone said or did something that upset me, I would remind myself not to take it personally. If I found that I couldn’t just let an issue go, I would ask myself the following series of questions:

 

1. What is getting triggered in me?

(fear, insecurity, anger, feeling helpless…)

2. How am I using this situation against myself to make myself a victim?

(When my husband came home and went straight over to pet the dog before kissing me, I told myself that I don’t mater to him.) 

3. What fears or insecurities are coming up for me?

(I have been struggling to take off the 10 lbs. I put on over the holidays.  I am afraid he won’t be attracted to me if I don’t lose it.)  

4. What is it that I want from this person?

(I want my husband to tell me it’s okay, that he loves me no matter what. I want him to make me feel safe and secure.) 

5. Can I do something for myself instead?

(I can make sure I look my best. I haven’t been taking care of myself because I’ve been feeling so down. I could get some new clothes, have my hair done…)

I asked myself these questions whenever something someone else said or did upset me. Eventually, I was able to manage my own reactivity and stop making everything about me. The next time your partner “makes” you mad, try asking yourself these five questions. This simple process can help you start taking responsibility for your own emotional reactions so that you can stop taking things personally.   Try it! It really works! These days, my husband teases me and says, “You do ‘Don’t take things personally’ better than Don Miguel!” I don’t know if this is true, but I like the sound of it :-) What I do know is that Benjamin and I cut each other a lot of slack and we almost never fight over petty details. When it seems like he’s annoyed or frustrated with me, I remind myself not to take it personally.

I tell myself that Benjamin loves me and he’s just tired or hungry or anxious about something at work… which is usually the truth. I also trust that, if he’s really upset with me about something, he’ll tell me.

You might think you’re doing everything in your power to take the higher road and let things go, but your partner is continuing to pick fights. If this is the case, you might need to seek out the help of a professional coach to help you communicate better. When I coach couples, I often find that one partner thinks she’s giving the other partner kind and loving feedback, but I can hear the subtle—or not so subtle—ways in which she’s being condescending or critical. Recognizing these behaviors in ourselves can be challenging because we’re too close to the situation.

It’s a given that, when two people live in close proximity, they are bound to get on each other’s nerves from time to time. So, if you want a harmonious, everlasting relationship you need to become a positive spin-doctor, let the small things roll off your shoulders, and take responsibility for your own emotional reactions. If you can choose your battles wisely and take the higher road whenever possible, you will be taking a huge step towards making your love last a lifetime!

 

If you are struggling with a partner please feel free to set up a complimentary couples consultation to see how I can help you. There no reason for you to keep hurting each other. I can give you tried and true techniques to help you listen and communicate in a whole new way! Click here to schedule an appointment:

One This You must Know to Make Your Marriage Last

Listen if you want to be Heard

Listen if You Want to Be Heard

 Listen if you want to be Heard

When I ask couples to tell me three things they want to get out of coaching, finding better ways to communicate is at the top of their list. I understand. It must be devastating for two people who have shared some of the most wonderful, positive feelings they’ve ever had to find themselves devolving into constant arguments over what are often petty matters.. What’s worse it that many of them feel powerless to stop doing it. When the dust settles, they might find themselves making promises to each other, but then they don’t follow through. Without strategies for long-term change, they get stuck in a continuous cycle of blow-ups and makeups that continue to escalate their feelings of helplessness and resentment. If nothing is done to break the pattern, it can permanently damage the relationship.

In my experience, when couples say they want better communication skills, what they really need are better listening skills. The real issue is that they’re not hearing each other. When tensions are running high and one partner is sharing, the other isn’t listening to what’s being said because s/he is too busy preparing a defense. They might have started out having a conversation, but then they devolve into a debate where both partners are just trying to prove that they’re right.

Break it down

If you and your partner came to me for coaching, I would start by showing you how to break your conversation into two distinct parts where one of you is the speaker and one of you is the listener. The speaker will share his or her side of the story in a way that is non-blaming and non-attacking, and the listener would only be allowed to reflect back on what he or she hears. This may sound simple, but it can be extremely challenging for the listener to listen without countering what the speaker is saying. It takes a certain amount of self-control and a willingness to hear your partner’s side in the same way that you want your partner to hear your side. In this exercise you’ll both have the opportunity to play each role—the speaker and the listener. In this first exercise, the goal is not to solve any problems or issues, but to listen in a new way and really hear what your partner has to say.

You can both be right

Stephen Covey says, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This is because, if you want people to understand where you’re coming from, you have to first be willing to understand where they’re coming from. Keep in mind that just because you understand where they’re coming from, it doesn’t mean you agree with their  point-of-view. It just means that, within the context of who they are, you understand how they could feel a certain way. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t just one way to look at a given situation. Just because you and your partner have differing opinions, it doesn’t mean that one of you is right and one of you is wrong. You could both be right. The more you let go of your need to be right and open up to hearing your partner, the more compassion you will have and the easier it will be to resolve conflicts in a loving way. Now, lets get started!

 

Mirroring Exercise:

Think of a current issue or conflict in your relationship. With that in mind, choose one partner to be the listener and one to be the speaker.

Directions for the speaker:

Begin by using a soft start up—a gentle, loving approach intended to put your partner at ease. Think of two or three kind statements you can say about your partner. For example, “I love spending time with you,” or “Without question you’re my best friend.”

The second step is to use “and” rather than “but” language. If you use “but,” it will negate all the nice things you just said and your partner will immediately feel defensive.

For example: “I love living with you and sharing a home with you and it would be great if you would help clean the bedroom once in awhile.”

The third step is to present your perspective, using “I” language instead of “You” language. For example, instead of saying “You never listen to me” try “Sometimes I don’t feel heard.”

The last thing is to avoid using the phrase “It makes me feel.” Nobody makes you feel anything. You choose to feel a certain way. So instead of saying, “When you interrupt me all the time it makes me feel angry,” you would say, “When you interrupt me, I feel angry.” “When you do or say __________________, I feel _________________.”

Directions for the listener:

You might want to have a pen and paper on hand to take notes, because it can be difficult to listen and remember the main points when your partner has a lot on his or her mind. As your partner speaks, you want to be aware of your partner’s perspective. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and try your best to see the situation through his or her eyes. Even if you don’t agree with what he or she says, you want to understand why your partner feels that way.

Every so often, when your partner pauses, repeat what he or she just said back. Say, “What I think I heard you say is…” And then, in your own words, tell your partner what you think he or she was trying to say. If your partner doesn’t pause and you want to check in, simply ask, “Can I pause you for a second?” and then repeat what your partner just said. When you do this part of the exercise, be aware of your tone. It’s easy to come across as snarky or judgmental, even if you don’t intend to be.

 Your partner will then reply, “Yes that is what I said,” or “No, you didn’t quite understand me.” Remember, you’re not there to offer solutions or even ask questions at this point. Your only objective is to let your partner know that you truly understand what he or she just said.

Most members of a couple are so intent on getting their own point across that they don’t realize they’re not hearing what their partner has to say. This exercise is designed to get you to slow down and really listen to each other. Many of my clients who did this simple exercise for the first time came back to the next session and said that it was life changing for them. They said that it was a revelation to finally hear what their partner was saying and to be heard in return. I would love for you to give this a try and share your experience.  What new insights did you have into how you can listen better and how it felt to really have someone listen to you?

If you and your partner are having trouble communicating, book a complimentary consultation and see how I can help.  Listen if you want to be Heard

 

 

I Finally Figured it Out

I Finally Figured it Out

I Finally Figured it Out

When I posted my first dating profile online fifteen years ago, one of a handful of qualities I was looking for in my future partner was that I wanted him to be “a man in a man’s body.” I finally figured it out, but it wasn’t easy to find him. Most of my previous partners looked like men on the outside, but they were just boys on the inside. This time I wanted to attract a man who looked and acted like a grownup.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of my exes would have said the same thing about me. I’m sure they felt I had some growing up to do, too… and they would have been right. When it comes to relationships, we attract people who are at our same level of consciousness. So, I knew that if I was going to attract the kind of man I wanted, I needed to stop behaving like a needy, controlling, insecure girl and become a level-headed, self-assured, grown-ass woman.

Change is not a dirty word

I know. We all want to be loved and accepted just the way we are. Yet, it stands to reason that if the men you want to attract don’t find you attractive, then you have to ask yourself what you need to change in order to be attractive to them.

Had I met my current husband two years earlier, when I first started dating, I know he wouldn’t have been attracted to me. But by going out on dates with almost 100 different men, I was able to gain a better understanding of how the opposite sex thinks and I grew into the woman I am today—strong and capable, but also kind, caring, appreciative, compassionate, passionate, forgiving, and playful. I also attracted the “man in a man’s body” of my dreams.

How I emasculated men

Through dating I discovered that much of my behavior with men was counterproductive. A real turning point for me was when I finally realized that if I wanted a man to take the lead, I had to let him. When I was younger, I would encourage a man to take charge and then tell him how he did it wrong. Wasn’t that nice of me? Or, I would get frustrated when I didn’t think he was doing something right and take things into my own hands. I can only begin to imagine how emasculating this would have felt to a man who was trying to get close to me.

Many of my female clients tell me that they would love to find a “take charge” kind of guy, an alpha male who just knows how to assume the lead. The problem is that many women are so busy trying to run the show that, even if some man wanted to take charge with them, he wouldn’t be able to. Like me, they say they want a man who knows how to lead, but they won’t relinquish control. And here’s the real issue: when a man has feelings for a woman, he tries to make her happy. If a woman seems frustrated and displeased when he does something to try and impress her, he will give up control and let her take over, thinking that’s what she wants. It’s a catch-22, ladies.

I didn’t figure all this out until I was 40 years old. This was sad because I longed to find a man who was safe and would take the lead. I never realized that, until I let go and let a man take the lead, this wasn’t possible. My need to control situations and have it my way made it impossible for the men around me to take charge.

Appreciation is everything

So how did I fix this? I shifted my perspective. I decided that I wanted to empower the men around me and treat them with respect. So, I went on my dates and began to look for what I liked about each of them. I started to value men and appreciate their efforts. I stopped expecting them to treat me a certain way and started to see everything they did for me as a gift. Even if it wasn’t right for me, I appreciated the efforts they made. One man took me to dinner at Marie Calendar’s. That’s so not my style, but he bought me dinner and I thought it was kind for him to do that. The younger me would have felt insulted. Just because I began to look for the good and be thankful for what a man did for me, it didn’t mean that I was willing to go for any guy who bought me dinner. I was still looking for my guy, for the one who bought me dinner at a place where I felt comfortable. Still, the more appreciation I showed, the more inspired men were to take the lead and treat me well. It was a win-win for everyone.

 

If you want to stop sabotaging your dating, learn how to get emotionally naked, and find the man of your dreams click here to book a complimentary consult and find out how I can help:

I Finally Figured it Out

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