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Naked Truth: Do Both Partners Have to Work on the Relationship Together?

Naked Truth: Do Both Partners Have to Work on the Relationship Together?

Naked Truth: Do Both Partners Have to Work on the Relationship Together?

I recently started coaching a couple I’ll call Jake and Ashley. Jake can sometimes be a bit aggressive in the way he gives Ashley feedback. When he does this, Ashley gets reactive because she feels she’s being attacked and blamed for something she did wrong. On numerous occasions in our sessions Jake has sworn this isn’t the case. He isn’t “mad” at her. It’s just that he often doesn’t always have the wherewithal to approach her in a gentle way. He’s working on it, but he admits that he can come across somewhat anxious and abrasive at times.

Recently, Ashley came to see me for a private session. She had a list of incidents where Jake had “attacked” her and set her off. She was also hurt because she felt that this was Jake’s issue. He was the one who was abrasive. So, why did she have to be the one to stop reacting? Shouldn’t he be coming to coaching to work on himself?

Here’s what I told her:

  1. This isn’t an either or situation. Jake should work on his delivery just as much as she needs to work on her reactivity. Both are true.
  2. Usually in a couple, there is one person with a higher level of emotional intelligence. Often that person is the woman. Women are more naturally inclined to focus on their personal and emotional growth. This doesn’t mean the other partner should get a hall pass and not have to work on himself, it just means that one partner is able to grasp issues in the relationship faster and that partner is more likely to be the one to make the changes that are needed to balance out the emotional dynamics in the couple. In this case, Ashley is that person.
  3. It’s not true that two people have to work on a relationship together. When one partner makes changes, the other partner is also forced to change. So, just because one partner doesn’t like going to coaching, it doesn’t mean that the relationship is doomed. Each partner in a relationship has different strengths. You want to leverage those strengths. If one person is the primary breadwinner, the other person can focus more on maintaining the emotional stability in the relationship. Susan Page, one of my favorite authors, wrote a book on this very subject: How One of You Can Bring the Two of You Together.
  4. Finally, I offered Ashley this solution drawn from my own rather peaceful marriage. Whenever my husband is giving me feedback and I start to feel defensive, I calm myself by reminding myself of the following:

He chose me out of all the women in the world to be his partner, he loves me dearly, and I need to trust that his intentions are good and that any feedback he’s giving me is for the betterment of us and our relationship.

One of the many things I admire most about Ashley is how open and coachable she is. She agreed that she has more of bandwidth for personal growth than Jake. She was also willing to let go of the idea that they both had to be working on the relationship. They still come in for joint sessions, but she is also coming in once a week to do some additional work on her own. In our last joint sessions, when I filled Jake in on what Ashley and I had talked about, he said, “I really liked that part about what you said say to yourself when you start to feel defensive with your husband. When Ashley starts to get upset with me, I am going to remind myself that she loves me, that she chose me out of all the men in the world to be her partner, and that she means well.” When I looked over at Ashley, she was beaming.

 

Is your relationship struggling? Book a consultation and see how I can help!

Naked Truth: Is Someone You Love Pushing You Away?

Naked Truth: Is Someone You Love Pushing You Away?

Naked Truth: Is Someone You Love Pushing You Away?

Hi Lisa. I just lost a great woman I’ve been dating for the past year. It was going really well, but then she started nitpicking about things about me that never seemed to bother her before—my dog, where I live—and said she needed space to find herself again. I’m happy to give her that, but it’s been almost three weeks now and I haven’t heard from her. Her family says she’s confused and hurting. It’s painful knowing she’s suffering and there’s nothing I can do to help. I love her and her six-year-old daughter, and I was ready to ask for her hand in marriage… but I can’t wait forever. My question is, do I give her space and see what happens or just let her go?

Thanks,

Rick

 

Hi Rick,

I am so sorry you’re going through this. I can tell you really care about this woman. From everything you wrote, it sounds like she has an “avoidant” intimacy style that is causing her to push you away. She’s afraid of getting close and needing someone. The closer the two of you become, the more uncomfortable it gets for her. This fear is so powerful that it causes her to nitpick and push you away. What’s tricky is that she doesn’t know that her fear is what’s causing her to feel uncomfortable. She thinks the reason she starts to feel uncomfortable around you is because you’re not the right person for her.

There are some excellent relationship books that could help you understand attachment styles better. I would start with one called “Attached.” Ninety-nine out of a 100 of my clients who read it say they love it! Two other excellent books about adult attachment theory are “Hold Me Tight” and “Wired for Love.” Another option to consider—if she’s willing—is to see a therapist with her. If she is, in fact, avoidant, she will need the help of a therapist understand where her urge to run away is really coming from and how to stop it. You might also want to take a quick compatibility quiz on the “Attached” website. Here’s the link: www.attachedthebook.com/compatibility-quiz You can see what both of your attachment styles are. This information can be crucial to understand what’s happening. From what you’ve written, you seem to have a secure attachment style. When a secure person is in a relationship with someone who is avoidant, it can cause the secure person to become anxious.

My last word of advice: don’t get defensive and block her. I know she broke up with you and it’s really painful, but women are funny. Sometimes, we push men away when we really want them to come back. If you truly adore her like you say you do, I suggest you read these books (or listen to them on audio) and then give her copies. It will be a revelation for both of you. I would love to know how it goes. If you see a therapist, try to find someone who”s done some trainings with John and Julie Gotman or Sue Johnson.

I wish you the very best. I hope this helps, Rick. You sound like a good man.

Warmly,

Lisa

 

Are you struggling in a relationship or trying to figure out how to move forward? Book a consultation with me and see how I can help!

Naked Truth: Protect Your Marriage at All Costs

Naked Truth: Protect Your Marriage at All Costs

Naked Truth: Protect Your Marriage at All Costs

Hi Lisa. I am happily married to an incredible woman. Recently, several women from my past decided to walk back into my life after 20 years. How do I get them to back off before they jeopardize my marriage? The ring and paper don’t seem to be enough, and they don’t seem to be respecting traditional boundaries.

-Will

 

Hi Will,

Thanks for reaching out! The single most important person in your life should be your wife, and you need to do everything you can to protect the sacred bond the two of you share. You say these women “walked back into your life,” but I don’t think they just walked in. You had to have let them in. My guess is that you haven’t been clear enough with these women or that you are still trying to be nice and polite so you don’t hurt their feelings. I see this a lot with my male clients. The problem is, if you don’t take care of this, someone else is going to get hurt… and that someone is probably going to be your incredible wife. If these women aren’t respecting your boundaries, I would dispense with any niceties and tell them—in no uncertain terms—that you are flattered they are thinking of you, but that you are happily married and won’t respond to any further attempts on their part to contact you. Hope that helps!

Warmly,

Lisa

Is someone threatening your relationship? Book a consultation with me and see how I can help!

Naked Truth: Protect Your Marriage at All Costs

 

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?

 

The Male-Female Dynamic

The Male-Female Dynamic

The Male-Female Dynamic:

Discover how to ignite more passion, intimacy & connection in your relationship

It’s crushing, right? You set out to be in an amazing relationship and the two of you just can’t seem to make it work! You know deep in your gut that you two are just perfect for each other, but emotional baggage and unhealthy patterns keep sabotaging your relationship.

Few things can be more frustrating or painful.

But, what if I were to tell you that you could transform your relationship into one that will make you the envy of all your friends?

A fellow relationship coach, Eli Deutsch, has asked me to participate in his brand new online video telesummit: “The Male-Female Dynamic: Discover How to Ignite More Passion, Intimacy & Connection in Your Relationship.” In this interview, I share my pearls of wisdom about how to get emotionally naked so you can move past the issues that are blocking the communication and connection in your relationship.

This free event features me along with 19 other experts, partnering up to help you to have the authentic, deep, connected relationship you long for. To watch my interview, click here: http://themalefemaledynamic.com/xiu9

 

Are you struggling in your relationship? Book a coaching consultation and see how I can help!

The Male-Female Dynamic

What I Learned from Cooking with my Boyfriend

What I Learned from Cooking with my Boyfriend

What I Learned from Cooking with my Boyfriend

My guest blogger this week is my lovely assistant, Tara. In this post, she shares some wisdom from the kitchen! -Lisa

Eight months ago, I took the plunge and moved in with my boyfriend of a year. Robby is the first (and, fingers crossed, last) guy I’ve ever lived with, and he just-so-happens to be a great cook. Admittedly, I have his ex to thank for that. They were together for eight years, and in that time she whipped him into the domestic god he is today so I might reap the benefits… and a few extra pounds. I raise a glass to her with every teeming plate of pasta al limone, miso glazed salmon, and juicy ribeye he puts in front of me.

Suffice to say, my guy knows his way around the kitchen—and, to his credit, ours is not an easy one to get around. Our building dates to the 1930s, and aside from the deep, farmhouse sink, it’s hard to find much charm in the lack of counter space, not to mention total absence of a dishwasher or garbage disposal. Yet Robby manages to excel against all odds. He moves around the kitchen like a pro, with authority and confidence, and sometimes it takes everything in me to refrain from jumping him mid-sauté on our ever-so-unfortunate linoleum floor.

I, on the other hand, don’t fare so well. I overcook pasta, I forget to prep, and most recently, chose the wrong sized pan while attempting jambalaya and stood in the middle of the kitchen, helpless and on the verge of tears, as I watched our supper spew over like molten lava. Robby chops veggies with the ease of a well-oiled machine; it takes me a good ten minutes to julienne a carrot. In fact, before I met Robby, I didn’t even know what it meant to julienne a carrot. 

In my defense, I spent a significant number of my adult years in New York before moving back to L.A., and let’s just say The Big Apple didn’t bode well for my culinary development. Aside from the occasional Thai delivery, all of my meals were consumed outside the apartment— and with good reason. The closest Trader Joe’s was a dozen subway stops away, and I didn’t want to wake the cockroaches.

My (Drunken) Inner Jewish Mother

Regardless of my lack of experience in the kitchen, something about cohabitation struck a domestic chord in me, and almost as soon as I’d unpacked my last box, I found myself overcome by the urge to feed my man. In other words, my Inner Jewish Mother took over. Unfortunately for Robby and me, my Inner Jewish Mother has the culinary skills of a twelve-year-old after guzzling an entire bottle of Manischevtiz. 

Robby was sympathetic to my ineptitude. He found my remedial veggie chopping endearing, especially because I do it as a lefty. But I imagine my clumsiness in the kitchen would challenge anyone’s patience, and Robby’s quickly waned. When I attempted to sauté onions, he’d tinker with the flame on the burner to make sure I wouldn’t char the pan. When he saw me struggling to peel garlic, he’d grab a knife and explain how much easier it is to get the skin off when you crush the cloves first… and then he’d mince it for me.

Most of my early attempts at cooking would end with me stomping out of the kitchen and plopping myself down on the living room sofa, angry and dejected, while he finished preparing the meal. Sometimes shouting would be involved, and I once threw an heirloom tomato at the wall out of frustration. In the end, the food would taste wonderful, but I would feel ashamed of my amateurish skills and resentful of Robby’s having taken over. While I don’t ascribe to the motto “a woman’s place is in the kitchen,” I hated feeling like I didn’t have a place in there at all.

Romanesco and an Epiphany

For awhile, I just stayed out. I watched from the dining room table, some combination of envy and bitterness boiling up inside of me, as Robby peeled and diced and sautéed, our apartment filling with the aroma of onions and garlic… a smell I came to associate with my own inadequacy. At the local Farmers Market, which we frequent together every Sunday, I would lose myself in the rows of fresh produce and imagine a day when we might live as equals in the kitchen, julienning organic carrots side by side. Then, on one of these trips, while staring at a particularly stunning array of romanesco, I had an epiphany: if I wanted to feel like an equal in the relationship, I had to learn to hold my own in the kitchen. 

Food was such a central part of our lives that my culinary woes felt as grave as trust issues or sexual dysfunction. I knew I had to step it up. I couldn’t keep deferring to Robby when I found myself struggling in the kitchen just because I knew he was a better cook. And I couldn’t keep letting him taking over, no matter how desperate my drunken Inner Jewish Mother was for a reprieve. If it took me ten minutes to julienne a carrot, then it took me ten minutes to julienne a carrot, goddamnit!

Sous Chef at Best

And so I made a rule, and I drew a line. When I was cooking, Robby wasn’t allowed anywhere near the kitchen. There would be no exceptions. If I had a question, I’d Google it. And if things got out of hand, there was always a fire extinguisher in the hallway. I managed alright, and slowly but surely, my skills began improving. But with each mediocre dish I made, I had the sneaking suspicion that something wasn’t right. I thought having the kitchen to myself would feel empowering; that all the sweat and toil would payoff when I set that plate of food down in front of the man I loved and felt the satisfaction of knowing I was fulfilling my womanly duties. The trouble is, I wasn’t having any fun. And the feeling I got setting that plate down on the table was never as gratifying as I had hoped. Mostly, I just felt insecure, tense, and exhausted. I was trying to play the role of master chef, but I was a sous at best.

Room for Two

Regardless of its scant dimensions, I knew deep down there was room in the kitchen for both of us. I peeled back the yellow tape, and I let Robby back in. Instead of continuing to let myself be intimidated by his culinary prowess and judging myself for my inferiority, I tried embracing it. I mean, how lucky was I to have a man who could satisfy me in the bedroom and the kitchen? I let Robby take the lead, and I quickly realized that playing sous chef wasn’t as bad as I’d made it out to be.

Since that fateful night, I’ve cooked plenty of meals on my own, but the ones that taste best are always the ones we prepare together. That isn’t to say we don’t bicker and bump elbows along the way, but like any good argument, there’s always something to be gained. Cooking with Robby has taught me the virtues of patience and perseverance, and the beauty of collaboration. With each meal we create together, we’re learning how to maneuver around the kitchen and each other’s idiosyncrasies simultaneously, and we’re getting closer. And as nerve-wracking as it can be sometimes, at the end of the day we subscribe to the adage, “what happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen.” Except for the food, of course— we take that with us.

Are you having trouble finding your footing in a relationship? Set up a coaching consultation with Lisa and see how she can help you transform your love life and forge a deeper connection with your partner.

The Rules are for Fools

2016 Sexy Life Summit

2016 Sexy Life Summit

2016 Sexy Life Summit

We all have stress in our lives. But when the hard times hit, what’s the first thing that takes a backseat? If you guessed intimacy and sex, you’re right! When we’re stressed out, the best parts of our lives suffer. But what if you could find a way to take the challenges life throws at you and use them to create more passion and more intimacy in your life? How cool would that be?

Tune into the 2016 Sexy Life Summit to hear me and 20 other relationship and self-help experts tell our stories of how we triumphed over trauma and were able to lead sexier and more emotionally intimate lives.

As you know, I love connecting with other cutting edge thinkers in the world of intimacy and sexuality. If you’ve coached with me or read my blog, you might already be familiar with my concept of getting “Naked.” Whether you’re dating or in a committed relationship, getting Naked is about stripping away the protective walls that are keeping you safe and having the guts to expose the real YOU—both in love and in life. And, it’s the subject of my forthcoming book, Naked Dating®.

In my 2016 Sexy Life Summit interview, I share how my life was turned upside down a year ago when my precious husband nearly died from a fleabite! Talk about a horrifying turn of events. Let’s just say that I’ve never felt more naked and vulnerable than when I was facing the real possibility of losing the love of my life.

This 21+ day, free online event is like a “master class” in creating a thriving and sexually connecting life. Here are some of the topics that will be discussed:

  • Dealing with stress and reigniting your desire for intimacy
  • Learning how to enjoy sex again after Menopause or child birth
  • Discovering how to heal from trauma and deal with triggering emotions
  • And much, much more!

If you want start getting Naked and break through the walls that are blocking you from true love and intimacy, you don’t want to miss this.

 

Claim your “seat” by clicking on the link below:

SexyLifeSummit.com/LisaShield

 

XOXO,

 

Lisa

 

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