Differentiation: Could Your Differences Be Your Marriage’s Assets? Ep 60

Differentiation: Could Your Differences Be Your Marriage's Asset? | Marriage & Relationship Coach

Welcome to April AwakenYou family! I am so excited for this quarter and the fun things I will be creating to help all of you on your journey to loving this life we are living. Yesterday I did the work of planning out my projects for this quarter while also working on some fun business and pleasure trips, including ending the quarter celebrating my birthday! I have three excellent AwakenYou Masterclass I am preparing for you where we will dig into your relationship with yourself, your spouse and practicing how to commit to what is true for you and your life values, beliefs and ideals. This month we will be working on Creating More Connection and creating connection that feels good to you, instead of what society has taught you about marital connection, you can find the link to register for this one hour class in the show notes and I would also suggest you go back to Ep. 59 Creating Connection That Feels Good To YOU to better prepare for the class. If you’re able to listen to that episode you can start the practices that I share and then in the Masterclass you can share how it’s going and get help with implementation.

Before we get started, I also want to remind you that I am celebrating AwakenYou’s first anniversary, and I have a special request and gift for those of you who have been listening; the request I have is that if you have been learning and enjoying the episodes, you write a short positive review on whatever platform you listen to these episodes. After you submit your review, take a screenshot of it and send that screenshot to me in an email (christine@christinebongiovanni.com) or send it to me in a DM on my Instagram or Facebook page. I will add everyone who submits a review over the next four weeks into a lottery where I will draw one name a week to win a $50 Amazon gift card; anyone who does not get drawn as a winner will stay in the lottery, so please write a short review and share it with me so I can add you! You have just two more weeks to get yourself entered so go ahead and do that while you are listening to today’s episode.

This week I am digging into a concept that I was introduced to last summer at my Advanced Relationship Training. As with most of the concepts I share here, I like to take some time to absorb what I have learned, conceptualize the theories, take them into my own life and observe what happens while I practice them. I imagine, if you are anything like me anyway, that sometimes when you are listening to therapists or coaches or any relationship expert, you may hear words or concepts that completely fly over the top of your head. Like, “oh, I hear that, it may make sense, but I’m not sure I get it.” that is my brain anyway when I listen to some of my favorite relationship experts. Differentiation was one of those words. It was quite abstract when I first heard it, and what I have learned to do with concepts that my brain isn’t quite able to understand is to give it space to grow. Sort of back to the garden analogy, with plants that I’m familiar with, I get them, and I let them do their thing, but with new plants, plants I’m not so familiar with, well, if I treat them the same typically there isn’t a good result. Instead, I have to do some reading up on their needs and pay extra attention to them, giving them space to thrive, and through that time, I start to understand them better.

Differentiation has been this way with me. I’ve allowed it to sit and marinate in my brain; my ears perk up when I hear it brought up in conversation or a teaching or coaching session, I get curious about it. It becomes one thing that gets past my RAS (Reticular Activating System – the brain filter that has you seeing that red convertible you’ve had your eye on everywhere you go – thank you, Mel Robbins for teaching the world about this phenomenon). Today I’m going to share what I’ve learned with you so that you can start seeing how important it is in your life and marriage. Today I’m going to share what differentiation is, including the opposite ends of the differentiation spectrum, why we might fear opening up to be differentiated from our spouses and other close relationships while digging into the evolution of our sense of self, including how many of us get stuck unable to develop a solid sense of ourselves and lastly why we want to increase our differentiation and four steps to doing so. Ready? Set. Go!

What exactly is differentiation in your marriage and relationships?

Differentiation is the active process of a person being able to define their thoughts, feelings, wishes, and desires to others while also tolerating and accepting their partner doing the same. When we can do this, we can hear what our partners have to say, take their thoughts and opinions into consideration without needing to agree or take them on as our own fully. It allows you to consider someone else’s opinion without making their opinion wrong and without making your opinion wrong, no judgment on either side.

Differentiation is sandwiched between autonomy or individuality, attachment, or togetherness. Many of you have heard me talk about the evolution of many relationships where we often start with attachment and togetherness and then move into more of an autonomous/individual sort of relationship, which feels very lonely, hence the roommate type of marriage existence and then when a couple is devoted to creating a more intimate, joyous, adventurous relationship they will move into a differentiated or interdependent type of marriage.

The attachment or togetherness relationship is where one or each person in the relationship desires to be loved and needs to belong in higher priority than their personal preference. They exist more in a reflected state of self where their worth is defined by how the other person treats them. This side of the spectrum has us giving up our desires and becoming absorbed into the other person.

Whereas in the autonomous or individuality relationship dynamic, there is the desire to be who we want to be without any compromise or leeway for the other person’s desires or beliefs, it has us shut off from the other person’s needs and desires if they are different from ours.

Differentiation is the ability to stay connected to and know your thoughts, feelings, and values while at the same time also being able to be close to another who might have different thoughts, feelings, and values. It has us being able to accept each other’s differences without reacting to them.

Fear of opening up to our differences

Our level of differentiation is modeled by our parents, our primary caregivers, and our family of origin. Typically, we will re-create what we see modeled to us. This modeled behavior often has us afraid of showing our truth, our authentic selves, our values, and beliefs for fear that others won’t agree or like their position possibly leading to an argument or the other person picking up and leaving. This fear leads the person to show a water-down or false version of themselves to their partner and the world.

From here, I would like to take a look at the evolution of our sense of ourselves to help us better understand the dynamic where we create a state of dependence or attachment to our spouses.

Evolution of our sense of self

Reflected sense of self

A reflected sense of self is where we start. As a relational being, initially, we rely on the feedback we get from others for our perception of ourselves because we are unable to do so ourselves, our pre-frontal cortex is not developed at this stage, and this is where we will start to develop our own self of sense as that portion of our brain develops. Initially, we are dependent on our caretaker’s feedback to get to know ourselves. As we grow into adolescents, we continue to develop this reflected sense of self through interaction with our peers. This is where peer pressure steps into our perspective: are we accepted as we are or not? What do we need to do to feel accepted?

In this state, which is often the state we are in when we enter our love relationships, we are constantly looking for external positive reinforcement and our sense of being loved; we are avoiding or dismissing anyone who may be critical or not creating that validation for us. From this state, we often conform to the crowd we are with without revealing much of our truth to avoid feeling rejected or unliked.

A solid sense of self

A solid sense of self comes from the process of building our self-confidence and being less dependent on other people’s beliefs, values and opinions to validate ourselves. Our self-validation comes from within. It’s knowing who we are, knowing our worth and value regardless of the circumstance and what other people think. We can stand in our truth AND allow others to be wrong about us AND allow others to stand in their own truth without any need to change them to feel better.

The development of a solid sense of self is a lifelong journey that contains several different facets, including our intimacy and sexual experiences.

Why would a person want to increase their differentiation?

In a nutshell: to keep your life and relationships from getting boring and lonely. Without differentiation, relationships get stale, interactions become safe and repetitive which prevents growth and change. Undifferentiated relationships don’t challenge each other to try new things, explore, and take any risk.

Let’s look at some benefits of creating more differentiation in your marriage:

  • To become myour most authentic self, creating personal freedom and a life that is big and beautiful
  • It helps the relationship become more open and accepting which then develops intimate enrichment
  • You provide a healthier psychological and emotional model for your children
  • Open up and improve ALL relationships, allowing you to let go of your ideas of how others should show up in the world so that we can enjoy them and giving ourselves permission to do the same without trying to control what other people think of us.
  • It attracts others who are more differentiated which brings more interest and dynamic to your life

How to become more differentiated

First, we start with ourselves by building a solid sense of who we are, which is the work that we do in AwakenYou, by spending time getting to know ourselves intimately. We learn about our emotional triggers and our strengths and weaknesses while learning how to strengthen our weaknesses.

We learn how to self-regulate (listen to Ep 35: Emotional Regulation In Your Marriage) when we notice ourselves or our spouse being triggered to remain calm or take a time-out so that we can keep our minds open instead of closed off. Learning how to recognize triggers and dysregulation allows us to pause and re-schedule the session after taking time to evaluate. It’s then knowing how to self-soothe from this space and get your mind and body back into a safe space, listening to Ep 38: Self Soothe To A Happier Marriage will help with this.

Lastly, agreeing and committing to continue the work together, or on your own, towards growth, knowing that marriages are self-growth mechanisms. Know and understand that relationships are like a crucible, using relationship expert David Schnarch’s metaphor for any intimate, committed relationship. He says that a relationship is a hot and visceral place where you constantly rise, flourish, fail, “die”, and become reborn. Both of the individuals in the relationship continue to stretch and re-invent themselves knowing the only way to grow is to step into the fire!

So there is differentiation for you; I would love to hear your take-aways, your questions, and what you’d like further clarification on while you start becoming aware of this dynamic in your own relationship. Are you differentiated or is this the first time you’ve heard of the concept?


I am a marriage coach who helps women and couples go from feeling powerless to change how they feel about their marriage to feeling powerful and taking ownership of how they feel. My process isn’t about changing your partner; it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage, and through this process, you will begin to find that your partner will change as well! If you’re ready to take yourself to a place where you can finally fall in love with your life and your spouse, then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s talk about the next steps to making your dream life your reality.

Creating Connection That Feels Good To YOU Ep 59

Creating Connection That Feels Good To YOU | Marriage Coach

In celebration of my first anniversary, I have a special request and gift for those of you who have been listening; the request I have is that if you have been learning and enjoying the episodes, you write a short positive review on whatever platform you listen to these episodes. After you submit your review, take a screenshot of it and send that screenshot to me in an email (christine@christinebongiovanni.com) or send it to me in a DM on my Instagram or Facebook page. I will add everyone who submits a review over the next four weeks into a lottery where I will draw one name a week to win a $50 Amazon gift card; anyone who does not get drawn as a winner will stay in the lottery, so please write a short review and share it with me so I can add you!

Next, I also want to remind you of my free coaching session challenge. This month I am challenging myself to help 25 people by sharing 25 free mini-coaching sessions. Right now, I think many of us are wondering what is happening in our world and what our near future holds, I know for me, I feel torn wondering how I can contribute, and this is what I came up with. Sharing my time helping people like you find some clarity around what is happening in our own life. Sometimes I find myself feeling guilty for getting coaching on things that could seem unimportant in the worldwide scheme of things, yet what I know is that the more clear I get with my personal life struggles, the more I can free up my energy to help others in need.

The past three months I have been taking some deep dives into the concept of becoming more aligned with our truth, who we are at our core, and being true to that instead of hiding our truth under the veils of people-pleasing, hyper-achieving, hyper-rationalizing, hyper-vigilance, perfectionism, control and falling victim to our circumstances. During this time I have been reading and absorbing concepts, meditating on them, applying them to my own life, and watching what unfolds. It’s been a fascinating three months and the foundation of the journey I take my clients through in my AwakenYou coaching program. Much of my work has been around opening up to my truth and recognizing when I am taking actions that go against that truth, and that is what has helped me tear down all of my dysfunctional relationship ideas and begin the process of rebuilding my life and my marriage into something that feels beautiful and real. As I am preparing for my April AwakenYou Masterclass where I will help you Create More Connection, I am applying many of the things I have been taking with me from what I have been learning. In my archives, you will find several different articles and episodes that talk about connection, so if you search the archives, eleven pages will pop up with your search but there are two that talk directly to the topic of creating connection. There is the article: How To Create Great Connection In Your Marriage and Ep 19: Three Ways To Create Connection In Your Marriage; now, this week, I am digging deeper into the exploration of what YOU want connection to look like in your marriage and what feels good to YOU. The reason I am digging into this is that sometimes we hear or believe a story about what connection should look like based on who knows what, our early childhood, sitcoms, romance novels, or that couple you see at the mall walking hand in hand so today let’s dig into what creating connection that feels good to you is.

Both of the previous articles and episodes have so much great information in them, and this episode will definitely have some overlap. Still, I want to encourage you also to read and listen to deepen your understanding. Creating connection that feels good to us is a journey, like all of the work we do here because most of us aren’t 100% sure what we want connection to look like. Some may think having more sex is the connection they need; others might want more gifts, time together, their spouse to help out more around the house, or more cuddle time on the couch without the distraction of a screen and the comfort of knowing they have a choice as to whether sex follows that couch time or not. Today I want to focus on discovering what connection means to you and then going there to start exploring, so let’s figure out what connection means to you, what a connected marriage looks like in your mind’s eye, and what it might look like for your spouse and we’ll develop some actionable steps for you to start the journey.

I would also like to include a caveat to everything that I am sharing in this episode and honestly, in all of my episodes where I am talking about actions to take in your marriage to help increase intimacy and understanding of your partner. I understand that many of you listening may not be in an emotional place to start taking these actions, a real story I want to share is when Jeff and I were working with one therapist who suggested we each come up with “date” ideas, do all of the planning and invite the other to join. It didn’t work, and the reason it didn’t work is that we had so many other things to work through before getting to this place. BUT, I want to share is that this COULD have worked had she then helped us work through what worked well and why, what didn’t work well and why, and then what would we do differently. She didn’t help us work through the resistance we were having to pull off these dates, she didn’t work through what was going on inside of each of us that was blocking us from feeling awful and inauthentic about these dates. I share that to help you better understand that yes, taking this advice and moving forward with it may not be where you are at today but what you can do is start working through what is in the way of you following through and as you resolve and dissolve these obstacles inside of you, you can move closer to taking the actions I talk about today. So bare with me and give yourself some grace and compassion if you still feel hopeless about carrying out what I talk about.

What does connetion mean to you?

Here is where we start. I want you to take this question to your morning writing practice and take 10 minutes to contemplate your answer. Even better, I’d like you to write that question down on a piece of paper, then set it down and meditate for 10 minutes without trying to answer the question, and then after that ten minutes is over, grab your pencil and write all of the things that come up for you and don’t be shy. Write it all down; this is only a thought download, not an “I have to do” list, don’t overthink it, just write.

I have explained connection in the past by our thoughts about someone. While I think that definition does work well with many people in our lives, I have found that there is another layer to that when it comes to our marriage and our intimate relationship. We definitely want to have positive connection thoughts about them. Still, we want to create quality time together, activities that build our inner knowing of each other; listen to episode 37: Love Maps: Getting To Know Your Spouse, activities that we enjoy and help us feel bonded to our spouses.

I also want to recognize that some couples can feel bonded and connected without doing many activities together, which often means that they have done the heavy lifting of getting to know each other intimately in the early stages of their relationship, thus building a sturdy relationship foundation. They have less “work” to do to keep it strong. If you’re here, it suggests to me that it’s possible that you didn’t build a solid relationship foundation, and by the way, many of us didn’t and that’s why we’re unhappy living in a marriage that feels like living with a roommate. This is where our work begins, building that solid foundation through getting to know our partner through connection activities.

So now that you’ve done a download of what connection means to you, you may or may not have some actual actions in that list. If you have activities listed, separate them and take some time to write why each one of these activities would make you feel connected to your partner. If you didn’t write down actual actions, then now is the time to do so; what are the things you might want to do with your spouse and why? This step is important because it helps you see what the purpose is, what your end goal is, and why it’s important to you to see why you want to be the creator/planner of this activity.

Looking at your past

For a short moment, I want you to re-visit the past in your marriage where you may have tried to create connection through any of the above activities or any activity. I want you to go back and pay attention to what happened, write it down from beginning to end; then write about what went well during that past scenario, what didn’t go so well, and what you made all of that mean. If you “gave up” on that activity why did you give up? It’s so good to go back and re-visit so that you can learn from the experience but often what we do is make that situation mean that they don’t love us, that they don’t want to participate with us, that they aren’t contributing. But when we can look at it more objectively, we can learn and understand why we’re thinking these unempowering thoughts about what happened. Also remember from Episode 57: Do You Have Bad Marital Relationship Memories that when we are unhappy in our marriage it will be hard for us to remember the things that went well in those past experiences but ask anyway. It may take you awhile to remember, write the question down and come back to it because for sure, something did go well.

Time to get your spouse involved

Before I dig into this, I want to recognize that many of us are not in the place right now to start this next step, and if you’re not, I want you to know that you can keep working on this connection piece on your own. With what you have already done, you can skip this step and start doing the work of implementing the things you want to do in your marriage, and it’s through this process you will start digging into what comes up for you. If your partner isn’t into this self-help stuff (little do they know that they are if you are and little do they know that it will get them more of what they want in this marriage too, but let them discover that on their own while you go about the business of creating the life you want), then you actually will get accelerated work on your growth journey because it’s always more difficult when our spouse isn’t playing along the way we think they should.

If you’re up for having a conversation with your spouse about everything you’re learning today, then the first place you could start is by listening to this together, having a conversation about how you want to prioritize spending time together, and getting to know each other. You can share that you’ve done this exercise of writing down things you’d like to do and why and that you’d love to share it with them to find out what, if any, of the items listed they might be interested in doing together. Also, share that you’d love it if they came up with a list of things they’d like to do together; bonus if they come up with their why so that you can start actualizing these activities together.

Remember that you are the influencer here, the initiator. You will first want to ask if your spouse is interested in creating more connection and intimacy in your relationship. If their answer is yes, then understand that they most likely won’t know how to create it and that is where you step in. Also, note that each of you might have different opinions about what connection looks like for you, this is called differentiation and it is a healthy part of the marital relationship. There may be some things on each of your activity lists that are no’s for either of you and this doesn’t need to be a problem unless there aren’t any yes’s. There is also an opportunity to create conversation about the no’s and explore what is a no for you or them; sometimes, our no is an auto-response instead of a thought-out response. Having discussions around what you like or don’t like helps you get to know your spouse better and helps you get to know yourself better. You could ask if they are willing to explore this with you or that you are inviting them to join you on this journey while together, you will see what happens.

The planning process begins!

Now it’s time to start planning which includes writing a list of all things that need to be done to make the event happen. I would say the majority of the work will be mind management work because so much will start coming up for you as you begin this new thing! Aside from that, and of course that is where I come in hint: free coaching session, there will be things you want to do before making this happen, like very first: setting a date and time! If it’s cuddle time on the couch, then planning what else you might be doing, will you be having drinks or dessert or playing a game? If it’s having your first Relationship Huddle, you will want to have the questions ready, share them with your partner so they can prepare if they choose to, and think about what you want to discuss/share.

If the activity is a bit “bigger” than those, let’s say a date night out. You’ll need to decide who does what, are they willing to be a part of the planning process, do you need a sitter, where you go, what you will do, and what time you need to leave. Better yet, since spring is coming, and that means picnics in the woods: who’s going to pick the place, who’s going to plan the food and pack it, who’s going to figure out the drinks, pack the blankets. Part of this process is to speak your truth, so if you have been the one in the past who does ALL of the planning while holding a bit of resentment inside then, it’s time to speak up about what you want help with and what better way than to share the to-do’s and let them decide what they’ll be responsible for. Don’t forget to include everything you do to prepare the house before you leave: shutting windows, turning heat up or down, taking the dogs out and kenneling them, getting kiddos to the sitters.

Remember that these don’t have to be couples-only activities; they could be family activities where you commit to paying attention to each other and speaking honestly about your needs, or they could be activities with friends or even strangers!

That’s what I have for you this week, my friends, exploring the type of connection you want in your marriage and starting the process of making it your reality. Remember, the premise of everything I talked about today was speaking your truth and creating what you want. Though you may not necessarily know what you want connection to look like in your marriage, the only way to know is to start doing things. Conversations, trips, meals, dates, adventures, events, parties – what’s up on your try it list? I’d love to hear what you want more of in your marriage and what you are doing to get it!


I am a life coach who works with women and couples struggling with how their lives and marriage feel through 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 life and marriage, which will have you see your partner changing as well. If you’re ready to take yourself to a place where you can fall back in love with your life and your spouse, then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s talk about your next steps to a life you are crazy in love with!

The 4-Step Journey To Self-love Ep 58

Hello AwakenYou listeners, and welcome to the first-anniversary celebration!! I cannot even believe that it has been a full year of weekly episodes, so much fun, so much growth, and more to talk about. To celebrate, I have a special request and gift for those of you who have been listening; the request I have is that if you have been learning and enjoying the episodes, you write a short positive review on whatever platform you listen to these episodes. After you submit your review, take a screenshot of it and send that screenshot to me in an email (christine@christinebongiovanni.com) or send it to me in a DM on my Instagram or Facebook page. I will add everyone who submits a review over the next four weeks into a lottery where I will draw one name a week to win a $50 Amazon gift card; anyone who does not get drawn as a winner will stay in the lottery, so please write a short review and share it with me so I can add you!

Next, I also want to remind you of my free coaching session challenge. This month I am challenging myself to help 25 people by sharing 25 free mini-coaching sessions. Right now, I think many of us are wondering what is happening in our world and what our near future holds, I know for me, I feel torn wondering how I can contribute, and this is what I came up with. Sharing my time helping people like you find some clarity around what is happening in our own life. Sometimes I find myself feeling guilty for getting coaching on things that could seem unimportant in the worldwide scheme of things, yet what I know is that the more clear I get with my personal life struggles, the more I can free up my energy to help others in need.

This week I am revisiting my first blog and podcast episode where I wrote and talked about How To Start Loving Yourself. Almost three years after that first blog I wrote, I find it fun to see how this topic is still relevant today. When I started writing and recording, one of my thoughts was that this information would be outdated by next year, but I have yet to find that true about anything I have written or any of my mentors have written. While we continue to learn more and more about how the brain works, the concepts don’t change all that much, we might learn new and more effective approaches, but often we still need to understand the very basics to comprehend and implement the new. This week I want to elaborate on self-love because it is the premise of creating a loving relationship with anyone else. As I move along my self-love journey, creating the marriage I dream of being in; I see how this journey is never-ending, in a beautiful way.

In episode one, I talked about starting loving yourself and how that process was as easy as deciding. What I meant by that statement is that before you can begin the journey to self-love, you have first to recognize your poor treatment of yourself and then choose to stop—agreeing with yourself that you won’t continue to treat yourself like a worthless, second-class citizen, which of course, we know here in AwakenYou that there is no such thing. We are all born equal and worthy and fully lovable, each and every one of us.

Step 1: Recognizing your self-abandonment and deciding you’re done with it

Recognizing when:

  • You put yourself down and are hyper-critical of yourself
  • You put yourself last, only giving yourself the left-overs
  • You ignore your desires and making them low-priority
  • You run yourself ragged in hopes of earning the love and respect of others
  • You numb yourself with food, work, helping others, drink, the screen instead of pausing long enough to ask yourself what is going on
  • You don’t listen to your heart but instead go along with what others want to do
  • You break promises to yourself
  • You don’t give youself the luxury of getting help working through personal problems
  • You don’t open up, admit your struggles and recognize that you need help

When we take time to pause and listen to our soul, we give ourselves the gift of self-respect, and the journey starts by recognizing that we are disrespecting ourselves and understanding that if we can’t give ourselves this gift, we will never be able to give that gift to anyone else entirely.

When I think about respecting others without respect for myself, what comes to my mind is a beautiful flower on a weak or broken sem, the supply of nutrients in the stem is cut off, causing the flower to wilt and die before it’s time. But when we love ourselves, the respect we share towards others comes from deep within, from our roots, and there is true life and honesty in the shared respect. OUr admiration comes from a solid source instead of a weak, broken source, a source where we are drawing our worth from what bits we might get through the admiration of others. Now when that admiration motivates us, as in how envy can sometimes do by seeing what others have, noticing envy, and recognizing it as something we want, that’s when we can draw fuel from that emotion and create what we see in others.

This first step is about awareness and the decision to change, no matter what. This is where we realize that there is another option besides self-abandonment, yet we don’t quite know what the opposite would be – so we start to notice when we do things that don’t feel good for us. We have to start paying attention because these actions are familiar to us; we have to pause and begin noticing the action and tune into our bodies to discover how this action is making us feel. The more consistent we get with this practice, the better we get to call it out and interrupt the old pattern and then start creating the new habit of course correcting. This is a gradual practice that might start with simply stating you won’t treat yourself like that anymore. When you feel comfortable, you can begin replacing the old action with something more supportive.

Let’s say it’s beating yourself up when you are getting dressed. You will notice this practice and how it makes you feel. The next step is stopping yourself; imagine you are talking to a duplicate of you standing in front of you and talking to that person like she is your very best friend. Remember this will feel awkward at first because it is new; you have conditioned yourself to hate your body, give yourself grace and allow it to feel awkward, over time, things will shift for you.

Step 2: Practice

You have to be committed to a result that you dream of. You have to start visualizing how it is you see yourself treating yourself, and in that visualization, you must imagine and start embodying how that new way will feel. You keep visualizing where you are going and believing that the practice will get you there.

Yes, there will be days when it feels awful, and it will seem like this is the dumbest work you have ever done until it isn’t. Meaning if you keep moving forward, find an accountability partner to help you step through the process, over time, you will start to see the fruits of your labor. Like any other good thing in your life, it took cultivating. You can pay someone to come put in a beautifully lush garden in your back yard, but if you don’t do the work of tending to that garden, it will, over time, become a mess.

I want to remind you that you have two things going on when you are working on treating yourself with self-love instead of self-abandonment. You are learning a new way of being while also unlearning an old way of being. Using the garden analogy, it isn’t as easy as having someone come in and remove the old and replacing it with the new; it is you going out into the garden and doing the work of removing the stuff you no longer want in your garden beds and planting new seeds that need to be nurtured. Those old invasive plants and weeds will keep coming back wanting to overtake your new growth, but when you go in and consistently remove what you don’t want, you leave space for the new to flourish. You can tell it’s springtime as I create this episode!

Step 3: Seeing the obstacles

Back to the weeds and invasive plants. As you build this new path in your brain, this new way of thinking, you will run into obstacles that appear to be stopping progress, like after the spring rains come and the heat cranks up, and the weeds start overtaking your life. There are going to be days when you are over it, you don’t care about your gardens, let the weeds have their way, but then you remember your old garden and what you dream your garden will look like one day and that you actually enjoy being out in the garden, even if it is pulling weeds. You go out and do what it is you know you need to do to get the results that you know are possible.

When it comes to body image, you may notice discomfort coming up for you when you tell yourself that you love yourself and that your body is entirely lovable, as it is twenty pounds heavier or twenty pounds lighter. That discomfort might drive you to buffer with food, meaning you feel uncomfortable about positive self-talk; that discomfort has you seeking something that makes you feel comfortable, food. Now you’re back to negative self-talk because of the food you ate. Time to pause and recognize that you were just wanting some comfort, that this self-love stuff is all new and it’s ok. This might be where you reach out for some added support.

Step 4: Rinse and repeat

Continued self-growth is a continual cycle of the above. You start to get comfortable in your body and your clothes, you stop beating yourself up in one area of your life, and low and behold, a weed pops up in your garden, and then that untended weed leads to another and another. This is the process. This is similar to pain in the body. The body will concentrate its efforts on the most important “pain” let’s say, you sprain your ankle, all of a sudden, your lower back issue seems to have gone away until your ankle is better. Healing one pain will always reveal the next or think about your phone. Let’s say you love your phone and its new features, but eventually, something about this new version bothers you, and finally, a new version is released that may or may not cure your discontent.

It’s completely up to you, but you may choose to stick with life as this new person who has resolved body image self-abandonment and not address other ways you may self abandon – like saying “yes” to the dessert your partner brought home “just for you” when you really don’t want it. Know that this is ok until it’s not ok. Until you realize you want to eliminate this “lying,” the process is always the same. Remember that it will feel awful for a while but you can remember the journey and also know that each journey is different, some more difficult than others.

What’s important to remember is your reason for wanting to change so that you can focus on that when things get unmanageable and always count on your accountability partner for support!

Each journey is a journey of self-discovery to your next best self, which is better equipped to elevate others. I’d love to hear what you are working on to strengthen that relationship with yourself and what questions you might have as you work through this process. Remember to book your free thirty-minute coaching session; I look forward to being your accountability partner!


I am a life coach who works with women and couples struggling with how their lives and marriage feel through 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 life and marriage, which by the way, will have you see your partner changing as well. If you’re ready to take yourself to a place where you can fall back in love with your life and your spouse, then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s talk about your next steps to a life you are crazy in love with!

Do You Have Bad Marital Relationship Memories? Ep 57

Do You Have Bad Marital Relationship Memories? | Relationship Coach

Welcome, AwakenYou listeners! I’m so excited to share that today’s episode is the last of the series I have been sharing with you over the last several months where we have been talking about how to divorce-proof your marriage. I love how life gracefully synchronizes itself because I just looked at my calendar to discover that next week’s episode will release on the exact same day that I released my very first AwakenYou in your marriage episode, which was also the very first blog post that I wrote way back in the beginning, that episode was titled How To Start Loving Yourself. When I looked back after a year of writing weekly posts and reading that article, I got tears in my eyes because when I wrote that article, I didn’t realize that this would be the premise of the work I do. My passion is to help women let go of the relationship they have used to protect themselves and bring to life the person they unknowingly held hostage most of their lives. So it feels so good to be wrapping up this series so I can bring you something special next week. What is it you’d like me to share with you? I’d love to hear because I’m not sure yet what I’ll be bringing you! This week we will talk about the memories we have of our marriage, and before we get started, I’d love for you to take some time to think back on your marriage. Does your marriage have bad memories, or do you look back and have fond memories of your relationship with your spouse?

While you’re thinking about that, I want to mention another synchronicity that has happened around this episode and last week’s Marriage Masterclass, where I talked about getting to know your partner and the work of creating your life and marriage memory book! That was not planned, my friends and I believe that these things happen on purpose, and I’ll share more about that as we dig in, but I have one more fun thing to share with you before we do that, and that is my March Mini-Coaching Challenge. I am challenging myself to share 24 free 30-minute coaching sessions this month as a gift to the world. Life will always contain uncertainty, and right now, I think that all of us are experiencing what we might consider a higher amount of uncertainty. Go to my show notes and schedule your session today and then bring me any problem you are struggling with. In that session, you will share that struggle, I will ask questions, and let’s help you create some space to navigate towards your next steps forward.

Here we go! Marriage memories, now that you’ve had some time to think about it, what do you remember about your marriage? Does your mind automatically search for all of the things that went wrong, highlighting them? Does it seem difficult to come up with anything beautifully amazing and joyful?

If you answered yes to both of those questions, you are not alone. When I begin working with my clients and ask them to tell me about the beginning of their relationship, most of them tell me everything that went wrong. They may admit that they probably felt in love with their partner at some point, but they blow over it like it wasn’t mind-blowing awesome. Yeah, I’ve been there and that’s where we start, taking a look at why that happens, and what you can do to start changing the story you tell about your past.

The story we tell about our marriage’s past when we’re unhappy in our life and marriage and why this has become our story

It’s the state we’re in. When we are unhappy in our job, we focus on everything that has gone wrong in our job since the beginning, the same in our marriage. We feel unhappy, and when we feel unhappy, we search for evidence to prove our thought that our marriage is a mess. When we try to think of the happy times our brain is confused, we might remember some details about significant times in our marriage like when we first met, our wedding, vacations. Still, our brains have buried those thoughts that make us feel happy because we are unhappy.

This is why my free Abundant Love course is so important. The course helps you see how your brain is seeking evidence that things are bad; it enables you to change your thought patterns by intercepting them and building a path back to where you are looking at your marriage differently. As you start to look for evidence that things aren’t as bad as you have let yourself think you start to feel better and are able to start doing the work of re-building your marriage foundation and part of that process includes re-writing your re-written past marriage story.

What I want you to first recognize is whether this has happened for you or not. When you look back and tell the story about your marriage’s past, how do you feel? If you’re unhappy in your marriage I would guess that you are not telling a happy story because that would be counter to what you currently believe, this is called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias has you unconsciously searching for, interpreting, favoring, and recalling information in a way that supports your belief. When you were romancing and doing the work of winning the heart of your spouse you were happy and you searched for all of the things that made you happy, discounting those things that might have made you think that things weren’t going so well.

The interesting thing is that NOTHING different has happened to your past story except how you tell it!

How to start changing the story you tell about your past

The process is all intertwined inside the work of deciding that you want to create a different dynamic in your own life and your marital relationship. As you start learning how to feel better about yourself and your life, you will start showing up differently in everything you do. You will start noticing the negative thoughts about your spouse and your marriage and decide that you will no longer think them.

Once you decide that you want to change your relationship dynamic, you start creating awareness around all of the things that I share here in AwakenYou and how they may or may not show up in your own life. In each of my episodes, as I help you create awareness around different personal dynamics, I also share steps to start taking a u-turn away from that dynamic towards the dynamic that will feel better and more aligned with your authentic self.

When it comes to telling the story about our past relationship, I talked about it in this month’s masterclass, which you can watch after listening to this episode, and I will also share highlights of that process today.

Your life memory book

I have created a tool that helps you get to know yourself better called Your Life Memory Book, but this isn’t what you see on most people’s living room coffee table; it is a deep dive into the story of your life. There are multiple purposes to creating this book, but primarily I created it as a tool to help you get to know yourself better, and in the process of making your life memory book, you will get to know your spouse better. The making of this book will have you looking at your past and recording what you remember of it, but this book isn’t something you write and then leave; it is a book that evolves and changes as you start to do the work of growing and becoming the person you dream of being, the person you are capable of being, the person you were designed to be.

If you’re curious about creating your life memory book, please watch my March Masterclass and subscribe to AwakenYou in your marriage because in a future episode, I will be talking in detail about this process so that you can start looking at your life story, sharing it with your spouse and learning more about their life story. All the while getting to know yourself and your spouse better and adding positive memories and creating your future chapter, and watching how it unfolds.

This project is a passion project in development for me as I explore all of the benefits of this tool and how I might bring it into the world in a way that changes the lives of thousands of women and their most important relationships.

Today what I want you to think about is the story you tell about your marriage’s past; notice what you want to do with thoughts you used to believe about your then partner and what you think of them now. Are you thinking in a way that confirms the story you are telling yourself about your current marriage? Now you understand why and you get to decide what you want to do about that. Do you want to do the work of changing that story? How is that story actually serving you? We know that it isn’t, and how can you start poking holes in that story? How can you stop making excuses for how you felt back then and start believing that indeed you were happy, regardless of any “flawed” thinking you believe you had back then. You could even ask yourself how your thinking right now might be flawed.

I have left you with some great questions to ask yourself this week; write them down. Each day take 10 minutes to answer each one, see what you come up with and then schedule your free 30-minute coaching session, and I will help you work through whatever it is you discover so that you can stop feeling stuck and start moving forward towards what you want.


I am a life coach who works with women and couples struggling with how their lives and marriage feel through 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 life and marriage, which by the way, will have you see your partner changing as well. If you’re ready to take yourself to a place where you can fall back in love with your life and your spouse, then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s talk about your next steps to a life you are crazy in love with!

The Secret Ingredient To A Successful Marriage Ep 56

The Secret Ingredient To A Successful Marriage | Relationship Coach

Welcome, AwakenYou listeners, so happy to be here with you this week because today I have some promising information to share with you as we work through this divorce-proofing, divorce-awareness series. The topic for this week is all around the repair attempts we make or don’t make when we are in a conflict with our spouses or anyone for that matter. If you haven’t been in the habit of attempting to make conflict repairs AND if you have all of the first four indicators, which include the four horsemen then your chances for divorce get up there, into the 90+ percentage range. The good news I have for you today is that if your relationship contains those first four divorce indicators: harsh start-ups to conflict, contempt, criticism, stonewalling or flooding and defensiveness but you are willing to learn how to make repair attempts then you are on the road to improving your marriage because being able to make successful repair attempts after conflict turns out to be the secret ingredient to a successful marriage!

As we have worked through these divorce indicators, some of them are easier to start changing than others. Many of our conflict styles start developing at a young age through modeling from our caretakers, how we learned to connect with them, and how we learned how to protect ourselves. As we grow and develop, these patterns run in the background and start to become who we are and how we unconsciously deal with conflict in our adult relationships. As we begin to notice that we aren’t getting the results we want in our relationships we typically see it as an outside problem, that our partners are the cause of our discontent.

We might start thinking that we are married to the wrong person and that if we could find the right person then the conflict would end. The problem with this thinking is that most of us have unresolved conflict coping mechanisms and we carry those into our next relationship along with mixing in the new relationship dynamic that comes from starting new with a person that has a whole different set of conflict coping mechanisms.

The other dynamic that I see with couples is getting to this place of complacency in their marriage. A place where they assume that their desires are overrated and that a stale relationship is what happens after years of being with the same person and so they stop addressing the conflict that is happening inside of them to “keep the peace.” Though this might seem to work on the outside it keeps us from growing and creating what we really want which is an intimate relationship that we look forward to going home to, a relationship where we look forward to connecting honestly, even if it means working through some differences of opinion.

Today I want to share some hope with any of you who are feeling lost and resigned to a lackluster marital future. I’m going to share a simple solution that can start you moving in a different direction and it’s something you can start implementing on your own, right now.

Stopping the conflict and stating you need a break is the secret ingredient

As you start to pay attention to the common conflict interactions between you and your spouse and begin to recognize the damage these dynamics are having on the health of your marriage you can start the process of change. As you listen through my AwakenYou episodes and start to recognize what your relational habits are you can start implementing new ways of reacting that will have you taking a u-turn in your relationship. Back in episode 38: How To Self-Soothe To A Happier Marriage I talked about coming up with a way to stop conflict in its tracks, then stating to your partner that you needed some time to decompress and then agreeing on a time to come back together and continue the discussion after both of you have had time to re-think and re-approach.

In AwakenYou if I am working with an individual this helps them create awareness within themselves while diffusing the tension allowing their partner to do the same, they become the leader in creating a new conflict dynamic. When I am working with both partners each of them is working on themselves with the tools I share so that together they can create a new relationship dynamic tsunami – meaning that the change happens much quicker when both partners are willing to do the work and are committed to finding a new way to work out their differences.

When you are able to stop the conflict and take a break you diffuse the tension helping to avoid flooding and you are sharing that you want to change, that you want to do something different in an effort to build a stronger relationship. This is called an attempt to repair and if your partner accepts your attempt to repair, over time you will start to grow closer and get to know each other better because you are actually working through your conflict instead of avoiding it. This repair attempt has you offering to start a process of reconnection with your spouse after the disconnection that comes from the conflict ( through the process of reconnection, you feel the power of connection.

What to do if your repair attempt doesn’t work

Keep at it. If you’ve been in an unhealthy conflict loop for as many years as I was, recognize that this will take time, especially if you are working it on your own. Initially, it won’t be surprising if your spouse doesn’t react in a way you are expecting because they are on the defense, they are not used to the way you are reacting and looking for an unexpected punch to be thrown! You keep working on what you are doing to change the way you show up in your life for yourself, your spouse and your marriage and things will start to shift.

Along with this is that because you are working on your relationship with yourself, you start showing up differently in general, you stop showing up the way you think you need to in order to have a happy life and are creating your happy life. With this new life dynamic you will be incorporating other tools that will help you build a stronger marital relationship outside of the time that you are in conflict. As you learn how to recover from conflict you will have more connected time to work on some of the other tools I share in this podcast to build up your relationship including Ep 37: Getting To Know Them, which by the way, is the topic of this week’s Marriage Masterclass so go get yourself registered for that right now! Also recognizing bids for connection (Ep 40) as well as responding positively to them (Ep. 41).

My action steps for you this week are to decide how you will stop conflict when it happens, share with your partner that you want to work on this and what your conflict pause action will be. Then share that with this pause you will be taking 10-15 minutes to get emotionally regulated (find out how in Ep 35) and that you want to come back together at a designated time to discuss what happened. Note that you can do this same work without having an explicit conversation with your spouse about what you are doing and you can still implement the work.

My last action step for you is to schedule a mini-coaching session to get help with this, I will share thirty minutes of my time to help you resolve a specific conflict and get you moving towards reconnection in your marriage. This month I am challenging myself to help 25 people by sharing with each of them a free mini-coaching session and right now with what is going on in our world, who doesn’t need that? Now, get that free session booked and get registered for my March Marriage Masterclass where I am going to help you get to know them better!


I am a life coach who works with women and couples struggling with how their lives and marriage feel through 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 life and marriage, which by the way, will have you see your partner changing as well. If you’re ready to take yourself to a place where you can fall back in love with your life and your spouse, then schedule your program inquiry call today and let’s talk about your next steps to a life you are crazy in love with!

A Relationship Success Story with Alicia Castaneda Ep 55

A Relationship Success Story with Alicia Castaneda | Relationship Coach

Heading into spring with episode fifty-five and an interview with one of my AwakenYou in your marriage graduates, Alicia Castaneda. Alicia shares what she achieved, and her next steps, in AwakenYou and how it has changed her already successful life and partnership. They just celebrated four years together after thinking that it was over a year ago. Enjoy this client success story and inspire you to create your success.

Alicia Castaneda is a mindset coach and certified nutrition coach helping individuals to shift their focus from their body fat to their self-worth, feel at home in their bodies, and not only make peace with but enjoy food and exercise. She began coaching fitness and nutrition in 2016. As aesthetics started to take a back seat to food relationships and body image, she later transitioned her primary focus to health psychology. She has helped nearly 400 individuals transform their minds and bodies to date.

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If you’ve been curious about how working through my AwakenYou in your marriage program can change your life and your marriage, this week’s interview will help bring you some clarity. As you listen to this interview, what you will hear over and over is Alicia’s commitment to learning more about herself and becoming a partner willing to open up and dig into what she wants in her intimate relationship. Alicia went from feeling desperate to keep the relationship together to feeling good about herself, her life, her business, and her partnership believing in herself and creating what she wants in her life regardless of what life brings to her. This month’s interview is a must-listen, and fun listen, enjoy!


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.