Love Maps: Getting To Know Your Spouse Ep 37

Love Maps: Getting To Know Your Spouse | Relationship Coach

Welcome back and I am super excited about how last week’s episode, Six-Second Kiss Paralysis, has opened up a whole grouping of discussions around the process of rebuilding not only our marriage relationship but as always, our relationship with ourselves. Last week I mentioned twelve different ways the six-second kiss can help rebuild our marriages and create that connection we are craving so badly. In that list, I mentioned terms that might be unfamiliar, terms like love maps, self-soothing actions, emotional bank account, turning towards your partner, and bids for connection. Through different conversations I have had since last week’s episode release I have decided that digging into these topics will be useful for all of us as we do the work of believing that our relationship dream is possible and that we have the power to change its dynamic. Over the next several weeks I am going to take a closer look at each of these terms and I believe these episodes will help you build some relational resources that will help you get comfortable doing new things in your relationship and give you a new perspective around those things that you are already doing to strengthen your relationship but maybe not aware of. Today I am going to dig into what Dr. John Gottman calls Love Maps which is his term for getting to know your partner intimately, Love Maps are simply detailed knowledge of your partner’s inner self, I like to call these our partner’s storybook. As you get to know them you fill in the details of the pencil sketch of a map you started to create when you first met them, or possibly even before you officially met them.

If you think back to the beginning of your relationship there was a lot of “getting to know” each other, you were sharing time together and creating connection by being curious about the one that was attracting you and sharing information about yourself. It was fun learning new things about this person you were attracted to but over time we often let life consume our days and we forget to continue the learning process. Initially, getting to know each other is also pretty low-risk because we aren’t getting deep, we’re able to share in a way that doesn’t expose those things that we hide from and feel shame around, and then as we move through the relationship and commit our lives to each other, sweeping over those stories we hold close becomes easy.

When you start to discover that your relationship has gotten to a place that is different from what you expected and as you begin to see that you want something different in your relationship, it can feel so far from where you want to be that re-creating that intimacy can feel very challenging, almost insurmountable. It’s as though we are so far away from knowing our partners that we feel embarrassed when we realize how little we may really know about them, but if you can look at it like a fun new adventure then this getting to know each other can be fun, almost like starting over.

Today I’m going to talk about what love maps are, why we want to keep filling the details in on our maps and then I’m going to talk about how to pick this process back up from where you are now in your relationship. Keep listening because you may be surprised to hear how I suggest you start this knowing process.

What love maps are

The Gottman Institute created a theory called The Sound Relationship House, and Building Love Maps is the first floor, the foundation, of that sound relationship house. That first floor is all about how well you know your partner. Do you know their worries, their stresses, what makes them feel joy or what their dreams are, as well as knowing what city they were born in, what they thought of kindergarten, and who their favorite grandparent was? Many spouses tend to think this job is already done when they are years into the marriage but continuing to explore the soul with an interested person builds an emotional bond that many couples never experience – makes sense as to why affairs feel so rewarding. The concept of building love maps is that knowing little things about your partner and their life builds a strong foundation for your friendship and intimacy. It’s knowing each other’s world from their past to what is going on with them right now and what their dreams are for the future.

The research that Dr. Gottman discovered was that couples who were emotionally intelligent were intimately familiar with their partner and their world. This means that each partner had a beautifully detailed Love Map of themselves and their partner. These couples created plenty of space in their mind for their partner, instead of just a short, few page story of who their partner is, they had a richly detailed storybook with detailed photos and text. They remember major events from their partner’s past and they continue to edit the information as things change in their partner’s lives.

Why knowing our partners is so important

When we know more about our partner’s deep, innermost feelings it makes us love them more. This wisdom and knowledge helps us to better understand our partners when they face mountains in their lives or when together as a couple you face stressful circumstances. When we better understand our partners, and ourselves, it’s easier to navigate the difficult times and encourage each other through them, we have a better connection with them, we like them for who they are. When we don’t know our partners intimately it is much easier for us to lose our way when things change in our lives, when challenges occur creating more distance between us because we haven’t created that loving connection.

This knowing and willingness to continue to know is the glue that will keep the foundation of your relationship strong. Think about it, our lives change, and for sure, if you are doing the work of growing and changing and becoming more of your true self, if you are AwakeningYou, then it’s important to share your new discoveries with your partner. As you start shedding the habits of people-pleasing, avoiding, hiding you will evolve and be revealing your work to your partner which will help them do the same.

How to pick this process back up

One of the ways we do this is by going back to what we did in the beginning, we start to pick up the process of learning who they are which to some might seem odd because we think we should already know our partner but instead what we shared what felt comfortable to share, we didn’t share our inner selves. And actually, our partner has hopefully grown and changed quite a bit since the time we dropped the getting to know them routine so it’s sort of like starting over. The thought of starting over might sound exhausting but if it does, let me share this thought: it can also be exciting, sort of like reigniting that spark again!

Where I suggest you start in this process is starting with yourself, yes, start building your own storybook, your own love map, you start with knowing yourself more intimately. You can begin with an outline and the filling-in details. What was easy sailing in your life? When were you climbing mountains or crawling through arid deserts? Keep building it through the practice of journaling or with a professional, you don’t want your partner to be the one who is the answer to all of the things you’ve been concerned with or questioned in your life.

While you are writing your storybook you can share with your partner what you have been doing and what you are discovering and ask them some of the same questions you asked yourself letting them know that you want to get to know them better. They can be simple and fun questions like where they were born, what the first day of school was like for them, have them describe the first place they lived when they moved out of their parents house. Start a list, refer to it often and start filling in your love map right along with your partner’s love map. You can pull it out when you are on a car ride, on a hike, at dinner, or on a lazy night by the fire.

I know some of you might be thinking that your partner will never participate in such an activity, it’s ok, I understand. There are ways for you to ask these questions without them sounding like a quiz or a card game AND, what does it matter how they react? You want to get to know them, share that with them, and then share your response to the question to get the conversation started. The more you share about yourself, the more both of you will know about you and eventually, your partner will open up to the game, trust me, take your time, be consistent and you will bear fruit.

If you are interested in doing the work of re-building your marital relationship then I want to encourage you to come join my six-week marital magic course that is starting November 13th, through this Friday the price is only $59 and it goes up $100 at midnight. Go to my website to get details and get yourself registered. Join a small group of people who struggle with some of the same things you struggle within your marriage, find support and a whole lot of encouragement as I share steps to create the relationship that you love and start believing that you have the power to turn around how you feel about your marriage.

I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.

Six-Second Kiss Paralysis Ep 36

Six-Second Kiss Paralysis | Relationship Coach

Welcome to another week on the podcast, it is a beautiful week here in the upper midwest, fall and its beautiful earthy tones are on point. This week’s episode is one I have been pondering to myself because I was a bit uncomfortable with how to present what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it so what I decided was to just do it and see what comes out. If you are here it is most likely because you are struggling with how you are feeling in and about your marital relationship, you are wanting more than what you have and are unsure about how to go about the undoing of where you’re at.

First I want to say, welcome. Second, I want to share that all things are on the table for discussion here because if we don’t talk about what we are struggling with it is going to be quite difficult to come up with solutions because all we’re doing is burying it. Avoiding. Hoping something different will happen to make this discomfort go away. Something different for sure can happen, but only if you make that something different happen. You want something different, so you have to go after it.

With that said, this week I am going to talk about the six-second kiss that you may have heard about as an action to help create a more loving, connected dynamic in your marriage, then I’ll talk about feeling stuck with this suggestion and the steps to being able to implement the six-second kiss in your marriage.

Let’s dig into what I’m calling the six-second kiss paralysis.

What is the six-second kiss?

I don’t think I have to go into what the six-second kiss is except that it is something many relationship experts suggest a couple implement to help create an intimate connection. Dr. John Gottman from the Gottman Institute discovered that kissing can improve the health of a relationship and I don’t think any of us would disagree with that discovery.

Here are some things a six-second kiss can do:

  • It can build a ritual of connection.
  • It can create physical touch.
  • It can be a bid for connection.
  • If your partner has initiated, then it’s turning towards your partner.
  • It boosts fondness and admiration.
  • It builds appreciation between you.
  • It can increase your love maps of your partner’s kissing style.
  • It adds to your emotional bank account.
  • It can boost your positives for the 5:1 ratio.
  • It can lead to sex.
  • It can be self-soothing.
  • It can reduce cortisol (the “stress” hormone) and boost oxytocin (the “love” hormone).

Don’t worry if you aren’t sure what the meaning is of “bids for connection” or “love maps” or “emotional bank account” or “5:1 ratio” because over the next several weeks I will take each one of these a bit deeper so you can start exploring them while building connection in your relationship.

Six-second kiss paralysis

Six-second kiss paralysis is being stuck in a place of inaction around something you’d love to implement but the implementation seems so disconnected from where you are in your relationship.

You’re here because you want to create a different dynamic in your marital relationship and because you care, because you are tired of what you have been creating, you have probably heard how magical the six-second kiss can be to bringing you and your partner to a new level of closeness. Here’s the problem though, you are so far away from a six-second kiss that you are frozen into non-action. You might be thinking something along the lines of “I would love to have a six-second kiss but we barely have a daily peck and hugs? Hugs are few and far between if not non-existent.” or maybe it’s this, “A six-second kiss? Yeah, sure, he should be giving me that but he ain’t and until he does, you’re crazy if you think I’m going to give in to that!” or maybe this, “He doesn’t seem one bit attracted to me. I’m afraid of the reaction I’ll get if I try to give him the big hug I dream of giving much less a six-second kiss.”

Ok, friends, I get it, trust me, I get it better than you might think. I myself felt shame around what I thought should be simple to implement if I was in a loving relationship, but after analyzing my shame and discomfort I decided to expose myself. I decided to open up to the love I wanted and embrace myself for the love I wanted to create in my marriage knowing full well that I had no control over how my husband would react to my invitation.

While I had heard over and over the magic of the six-second kiss, it felt so uncomfortable because what did it mean? I myself was working on making sure I was showing up authentically and not as my old people-pleasing self. I wanted to do what I wanted to do for myself first and I wanted to be unattached to my interpretation of his reaction. This took time for me, I had work to do on myself and my reasons for my actions and how I wanted to feel if my actions weren’t received the way I thought they should be received, a way that would make me feel loved. I had to get to the place where I would be able to feel love because of my actions, not because of how Jeff showed up.

How to remedy the six-second paralysis

The first thing you have to do is start unraveling what is going on inside of you. It’s the process of looking at how you have gotten to where you are at now in your intimate relationship and why. How are you feeling about where you are at and what is the thought process getting you there? Looking at how you are showing up in your relationship, especially when we get to the place where we see that we’re not particularly happy with how we are showing up, and seeing what result these actions are getting us, instead of turning outward and blaming them for how we are feeling. As we do this unraveling we start to see how we are the creator of how we feel in our relationship and we start to let go of the death grip we have on our partner. We start to let go of the blame and resentment while learning how to show up for ourselves.

The second thing to do is to decide what change you feel only a little vulnerable making, maybe 10% more uncomfortable than what that big step of the six-second kiss would mean for you. I’ve talked about this before but let me say it again, in our relationships we often get stuck at a place of comfort, where each person in the relationship isn’t exposing themselves to anything vulnerable. When we get to this place our desire for each other fades and in order to bring some flame back into the relationship one of the two has to open up a bit in vulnerability. Because you are the one seeking information about how to create a relationship you love, you are the one who gets to do the leading in the vulnerability. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you step out boldly in vulnerability, like maybe 90%, you are most likely going to get an unexpected reaction, a reaction that might push the relationship further away rather than bring it together.

How this opening up begins is by looking at your current routine and asking for something more, from a place of love, desire, not blame. Maybe it would be in the morning when you and your partner say goodbye for the day and maybe give each other a peck. A deliberate step of courage would be to tell your partner you would love a longer hug, maybe a six-second hug. It might feel awkward, pay attention to what comes up for you during that hug, what happens in your body and then write about it. Once you’ve implemeted this baby step of vulnerability, keep doing it until it becomes comfortable for you to ask for a little bit more. After some time with the six-second hug maybe you squeeze him a bit harder and thank him for his time. The next day maybe you ask for a three-second kiss along with the six-second hug and so on.

As you do the work of opening up to a better understanding of yourself and why you are doing the things that you might not want to do in your relationship you begin to have a clearer sight of the things you want. As you do this work and start visualizing that which you want, you start to own it for yourself and begin to create it.

The six-second kiss was something I was originally afraid of, I was afraid of possible rejection until I realized that when I open up to the love I want no one can reject me, they can only reject themselves and the love I choose to pour all over them.

If you are in a place where you want to start implementing new ways of being in your marital relationship then I want to encourage you to come to check out AwakenYou, it is my one-on-one coaching program where I give you the courage and permission to achieve what it is you want in your marital relationship, starting with you. Come join me!

I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.

Emotional Regulation In Your Marriage Ep 35

Six-Second Kiss Paralysis | Relationship Coach

Welcome back to the podcast! So much of what I talk about distills out to looking at our emotions, how we are feeling in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. If you search the word “emotions,” or “feelings” in my blogs and podcasts you won’t find one or two articles or episodes but over nine pages of different articles. In my AwakenYou program we spend several weeks talking specifically about emotions while every week the underlying work is all about emotions because any action you take is driven by how you feel and every thought you think makes you feel some sort of emotion. In order to move forward from being stuck, you have to look at what emotions are causing you to stay there, whether you know what they are or not, and you will only move so far when you are suppressing, ruminating, and avoiding your emotions. Today let’s talk about why emotions are a big deal.

With that, I’m going to talk mostly about emotional regulation, what it is and why it is so important to understand and practice in your life and in relationship with others, in particular here we look at that relationship with your partner. There are several articles and podcasts where I talk about emotions, including How To Feel Your Emotions, Your Top Three Emotions And How They Reveal The Results In Your Life, and an episode on How To Process Your Emotions, Ep 23, check out each of these resources as a follow-up to what we talk about here today.

Emotional Regulation

I’m going to start off with a definition of emotional regulation from Susan Johnson’s book Attachment Theory In Practice. When I talk about the regulation of emotion it is this: “the ability to ACCESS and attend to a range of emotions, clearly IDENTIFY those emotions, MODIFY them by either reducing or amplifying them in oneself and another, and then USE them to ascertain meaning, as well as to guide our thinking and actions in a way that suits our priorities in different situations.

This definition helps us to clearly see why emotions are so important, first within ourselves because as we learn how to recognize them happening within us we can start to decide if they are working for or against us. If we can see they are working for us, we can amp them up and create more of those positive results and if we see they are not working for us we can work on dampening them so that we can reset our path with our thinking while being able to take different actions that do suit our goals and dreams.

As a coach, I help my clients and you, my listeners, look at how they are feeling because this gives us so much information. We often think that we are at the effect of our emotions but we are not. When we start to actually become aware of how we are feeling and why, that is when we can start looking for other options but until then, we have to do the work of figuring out what we are actually feeling in the moment to moment of our days.

Why emotions are a big deal

Lisa Feldmen Barrett suggests that “those who can put emotions into words, are less likely to use negative self-regulatory strategies such as…” acting out with aggression, harmful actions to self, and excessive buffering activities like over-eating and drinking. She also states that “they also demonstrate less neural reactivity to rejection situations and generally suffer from less-severe anxiety and depression.” That my friends is why understanding and learning how to regulate your emotions is such a big deal.

When we are able to specify our emotions we create awareness, the first step in creating change in our lives, the first step to opening up to receiving the love we want. Once we have this awareness we can start interrupting our current habitual cycle and pause to decide on purpose what we may want to do with this emotion as we also start to understand why it is there. Being able to interrupt our current autopilot cycle and consciously decide what we want to do with the said emotion allows us to start the process of effective problem-solving. This problem solving comes first from awareness, then reappraisal of the circumstance and what may have occurred in a previous situation so you can decide what forward steps best serve the life you are creating for yourself.

When we don’t know how to regulate our emotions, or when we disengage from our emotions, we will often blame others for how we feel and for what we are perceiving as rejection. We will ruminate on the circumstance, catastrophize and blow it out of proportion, make ourselves feel inadequate and unworthy while thinking we are a failure. Poor emotional regulation will often have us feeling overwhelmed when interacting with our partner and overwhelm is an emotion that typically doesn’t have us making decisions that move us forward. Poor emotional regulation also keeps us from knowing how to produce the results we want and will often have us withdrawing without solving the problem that created the emotion, storing it in our subconscious as another unresolved conflict, further embedding that old pattern making it more familiar.

How to start regulating your emotions

It starts with the desire to do so, to change how you are currently dealing with your life and your intimate relationship. It starts with believing that creating this change will help you start feeling better and bring awareness to your life, your circumstances, and your marriage. It requires that you become curious about what emotions you might be feeling in the different moments throughout your day, as I describe in the first article I linked above “How To Feel Your Emotions.” Then there is the podcast episode 23 linked above titled “How To Process Your Emotions” which will help you even if you don’t know what emotion you are feeling by learning how to go into your body and starting to get in touch with what that emotion is doing inside of your body. In that episode, I teach you how to describe what the emotion feels like in your body, that alone will give you an incredible amount of knowledge to create some awareness.

Another practice that I love is to journal about circumstances in your life, describing what happened, what was and is still going on in your mind, and making sure to write about both those that bring positive and negative emotions. It has been proven that simply putting those feelings into words, usually the thoughts that created how you felt or are still feeling, helps you learn how to regulate your emotions through awareness.

Tapping is also a technique that I use with my clients to help them move through the emotions they are feeling, often helping them to lessen the strength of the emotion in their body and helping them discover where this emotion may have originally manifested itself.

Meditation is a technique that helps you get out of your thoughts and into the present moment which helps alleviate ruminating thoughts and get a clearer perspective on the circumstance allowing you to better problem solve. When you are able to get out of your thinking mind, the mind that is using logic to desperately figure out the solution you can let go of old thinking and open up to new possibilities by allowing your creative mind to engage and offer new solutions that you might never have come up with from a logical perspective.

In AwakenYou we utilize all of the above techniques along with several others based solely on what is happening for my client and how I think the different practices might complement and help the client to get a different perspective in the circumstance they are navigating. All of this work gives them different angles and tools to chip away at stubborn habitual thinking that keeps you from being able to regulate emotion and move on with problem-solving.

If you’d like to experience any of the modalities that I shared today please book a free session where I will take you through one of the techniques to help bring you some emotional space and clarity.

I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.

Mental Health Versus Mental Illness Ep 34

Mental Health Versus Mental Illness | Relationship Coach

Last week I talked with relationship and marriage coach Jessica Farmer, you can find that episode here, who helps women navigate their partner’s mental illness. This week I thought it would be an appropriate follow-up to have a brief discussion of mental health versus mental illness, what mental health/illness awareness is along with some considerations around why we don’t like talking about it.

What is mental health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” It includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, affecting how we think, feel, and act as well as helping us determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

What is mental illness?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking, or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work, or family activities. The majority of people with mental illness continue to function in their daily lives and mental illness is treatable.

Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time, but a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.

I like to think about it as physical fitness versus physical illness, I think that they parallel each other well. When we aren’t feeling well physically we will adjust things in our life like our nutrition, sleep, and exercise; if things don’t get better we will go visit the doctor for an evaluation.

Our mental fitness is the same, there are many outside influences that can affect our mental health including our nutrition, sleep, and exercise when adjustments to these influences don’t help then we seek the counsel of a mental health professional. It doesn’t mean we are flawed, weak, or broken, it means that our mental health has been weakened and that treatment is available.

Mental health awarenss

Creating awareness of what to look for when it comes to a break in our own or someone else’s mental health. When we can recognize symptoms, know that these symptoms are a signal that something in our mental health needs attention it helps us to be proactive in getting help. A person doesn’t need to know how to treat themselves, they can recognize that something is wrong, like a spike in our body temperature signals that something is wrong with our physical health, and then we can schedule time with our doctor to discuss what is happening and start the process of healing.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults have had or currently have symptoms of a mental illness. This is no small number, if these people were suffering from a physical illness they would be more likely to seek medical attention but because mental illness is buried under a stigma of a mental flaw we ignore symptoms. Mental illness awareness helps normalize the breakdown of our mental health allowing more people to get the help that would lead them back to mental health.

We all have daily struggles and when those struggles get in the way of normal day-to-day functioning and the ability to enjoy life for some reason many of us think that there is something wrong with us. We feel shame and disgust that we can’t figure this out on our own and often it has people turning to food, drugs, and/or alcohol to numb the pain which only leads us further away from healing. If you suspect that someone close to you is struggling with a mental illness it may be best for you to schedule a visit with your own medical advisor to help you approach the subject with love and compassion while looking at how to best care for yourself.

In an effort to create awareness and help normalize mental health and mental illness my hope is to help anyone struggling with their mental health to discover hope and help, to not struggle with it by themselves. If you are feeling like you are not your normal self, finding yourself in a sleeping pattern that is unhealthy, a severe loss of appetite, turning to vices like drugs, alcohol, food, spending to avoid feeling emotions then please reach out to your health professional and schedule an evaluation. You matter.

I am a life coach who works with individuals to break down relationship barriers by awakening their true selves. My process isn’t about changing your partner, it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage. If you’re ready to take your life and your love relationship to the next level then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s decide together if this is your next step to creating the life you’ve been dreaming of.