Create Better Marital Communication By Considering The Start-Up Ep 45

The Difference Between Marital Criticism And Complaint | Relationship Coach

Last week I did an overview of seven predictors of divorce, and starting this week, I will spend time taking a deeper dive into each, which will give you a week to focus on each. With each of these episodes, I suggest that you focus on the predictor of the week, paying close attention to your habitual practice with your partner and then taking a pause with each instance to reconsider a different approach. This week’s focus is on creating better marital communication by considering the start-up.

How you start a conversation will be an indicator of how the discussion will end unless you can take a pause and start over. Research proves this to be true, but I don’t think we need research to prove this phenomenon. We’ve talked about mirror neurons and the influence our approach to a conversation has on the other person’s response. Secondly, we can do our own research by observing and collecting data – something I highly recommend you do this week. You can do your research on your marital discussions but also expand your scope out to all of the interactions you find yourself in, maybe at work or with the kids, as well as observing other people’s interactions. Notice how the interaction starts and how that start-up influences the outcome.

First, I will share what a harsh start-up is, and then we’ll switch to looking at what a soft start-up is. As we talk about what a soft start-up is and how to switch a harsh start-up to a soft one, I will share several different examples to help you brainstorm new ways to approach your specific situations. In the end, I’ll also address what to do when your new plan of “attack” or non-attack backfires because most likely it will until you continue the practice and change old patterns.

The WRONG way to start a discussion: harsh start-up

Starting a discussion this way is pointing the finger at the other with criticism and disrespect to prove your point, damaging the relationship. It includes exaggerations like “always” or “never”; it includes opinions about the character of the other, illuding to superiority. It is sarcasm, being cynical, name-calling, mocking, angry humor, eye rolls – it is the acid that corrodes a marriage because it suggests disgust in the other.

Harsh start-ups are directed right to the other person’s core, blaming them for how you are feeling instead of complaining, which starts with how you feel about something specific and what you need or would like from the other person. Pay attention to starting with the word “you,” which points the blame towards them, versus starting with I, which brings it to how you perceive the circumstance, allowing them to explain.

An example of a harsh start-up would be something like this; “You never think about anyone but yourself. I hate that you conveniently schedule work when we clean the house. Why are you so rude?” Whereas a complaint and a soft start-up would look more like, “I see that you scheduled yourself to work during the time we normally clean the house, sometimes that makes me feel angry because I think that you are trying to get out of your household responsibilities. When do you think you can get your cleaning chores done?”

Note that harsh start-ups can happen from either side of the relationship, but if you are the female in the relationship, you may be noticing that you seem to be the one creating more of the harsh start-ups. This doesn’t mean that you are the cause of all of the problems; research shows that women are more likely to bring up things that are bothering them in their relationship to find some resolution, whereas the males are more likely to completely avoid anything that they think might create emotional stress and confrontation – which of course brings in all of the problems that come through avoidance.

The right way to start a discussion: soft start-ups

The soft start-up has a softer tone and approach; it helps both feel safer without the need to defend. If you look at the two versions of the previous example and you speak them out loud, you will notice a difference in how each feels in your body, a difference in how you receive it. Let’s look at ways to change your start-up’s dynamic and result.

Complain instead of criticize

We will dig into this a bit more next week when we talk about the second predictor of divorce, which is what John Gottman refers to as the Four Horsemen. Still, there is a massive difference between complaining and criticizing. When we complain about something, we direct the complaint towards something they did or didn’t do or a circumstance. A complaint contains three parts:

  1. How you are feeling (looking within) about:
  2. A specific situation
  3. Sharing what you need, want or prefer

A criticism is non-specific and directs your negative feelings to the core of who the other person is. Listen to these two and decide for yourself which one is a harsh start-up and which is a soft start-up:

  • “You are so irresponsible. Why can’t you get the water bill paid on time, it’s no wonder we don’t have any money to go on vacations.”
  • “I’m super frutstrated that the water bill has a late fee on it, we agreed that you would take care of the bills, what happened and what can you do to prevent it from happening again?”

Criticism also comes through the way you are showing up; it is possible you aren’t saying anything negative, but your body is showing otherwise. Eye-rolling or turning away is a perfect example of “unintentional” but destructive behavior.

Begin with “I” statements instead of “You” statements

This type of start-up has you focusing on what is going on for you instead of focusing on what you see your partner doing wrong. This can get a bit tricky if you are used to pointing the finger, saying, “I think that you never make any time for me.” even though it starts with “I,” it still points the finger at them. The “You” version would be something like “You never make time for me.” and the
“I” version might sound like “I feel really lonely lately, I miss spending time with you.”

Describe how you see the situation, your perspective

Your partner is not a mind reader though often we think they should know what is happening because it is SO obvious to us; this is where we need to practice expressing our needs in a clear way that doesn’t point to what we see as their deficiency. When you share how you see things from your point of view, it takes the blame off the other and will help you get a more helpful response.

You can still be kind and show appreciation even when you are in conflict

Differentiation has two people seeing the same thing in two completely different ways. The better we can get at allowing for this, the easier it will be to allow for the differences, come to some agreeable terms and still love each other. Oh, how far the words “please” and “I so appreciate your help here” can go in softening into what each of you needs.

Confront your conflicts

I know this sounds so cliche, but it is how we learn and get to know each other. When we confront our conflicts from the start and with a soft start-up, including love and appreciation, we learn more about what each other needs. We prevent blow-ups from happening when we are stretched thin and feeling overwhelmed – hello, Christmas week! When we store all of our negative emotions, which is resisting, see episode 43: A better way to deal with holiday emotions; what happens is we are more at risk of wearing thin and dumping it all out in one big blow-out session. This blow-out can create a flood of emotions for both of you, which leaves you completely useless when it comes to resolution, more on that predictor in the coming weeks!

What to do when your change in approach backfires

Your partner may still respond negatively, defensively, or counterattack once you begin to change your approach to conflict.

You: “I feel lonely lately, could you please share some times when we could have an hour together, just you and me?”

Them: “You don’t share your calendar with me, so how can I know when we could ever do anything?”

It would be easy to counterattack or blame or justify, but all you need to do is share that you aren’t accusing or blaming them but that you are simply asking for some options to put time aside on the calendar. You can share that you care and that you want to find time to get closer to them, to get to know them better. This can self-correct the course of the conversation and help your partner feel safe. Over time as you change your habitual way of dealing with conflict, your partners go to practices will self-correct as well.

As you absorb this information, ask yourself how you have approached conflict in the past, pay attention to conflict as it comes up this week, even if it’s a conflict you are witnessing versus being a part of. Use these experiences as examples to play with; consider how you might change the start-up to get a different result.

As you consider how you have and are handling conflict discussions, use this information to learn and grow. Keep a note in places where they will be a reminder to you of how you want to approach those things that are bothering you, write “SAFE” on a post-it and place it on your bathroom mirror or on your computer screen to remind you of how you want to approach these future discussions.

Also, consider the possibility that you may have stopped addressing conflict to avoid the harsh endings that come from your previous way of dealing with conflict. Remember that addressing what is bothering you is important. Now you have a new way to approach what is frustrating you, so even notice when you feel frustration or annoyance while sweeping it under the Christmas tree.

Addressing conflict creates conversation and connection and helps the two better understand each other versus withdrawing to avoid conflict, which will bring you to another predictor of divorce – independence or living parallel lives.

This week observe and practice because it is in the doing, the practicing that you learn, grow, and get to know.

I would love to hear what you noticed this week around your discussions and how you have done the work of starting to change the old cycle.

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.

Is Divorce In Your Future? Ep 44

Is Divorce In Your Future? | Relationship Coach

Ok, to begin, let me just clarify that I am NOT trying to put a damper on your holiday cheer and just like everything else I discuss here on AwakenYou in your marriage, I am creating awareness for you so that you can take deliberate steps towards that which you want. When I pose the question “Is divorce in your future?” I want you to listen to what I talk about today and decide whether this exemplifies your situation and if it does then listen with curiosity so you can build hope instead of despair.

The truth is that ALL of these predictors could be present in your relationship BUT if you become aware of them and choose to take steps to eliminate them you are well on your way to preventing divorce in your future.

Today what I want to do is talk about the six predictors of a relationship headed towards divorce and what else to look for if these indicators aren’t present in your marriage, then I want to share the key to reviving or divorce-proofing your marriage. Over the next several weeks I am going to do a deeper dive into each of these six divorce predictors so that you can have time every week to get a better understanding of the predictor and whether that element is present in your marriage.

To begin I want to talk about relationships in general. Most of us are taught relationship dynamics through our childhood relationship teachers and we carry those dynamics into our marriage, each of us has learned different ways to manage and interact within our relationships. With that said, conflict and the inability to resolve the conflict alone is not an indicator of divorce because most marital arguments cannot be resolved. Marital arguments are often rooted in fundamental differences in lifestyle, personality, or values. More importantly, as we will discover, it is about how the argument starts, how each partner treats each other during the conflict, and how they attempt to repair it before it runs out of control.

The six indicators that divorce is in your future

Dr. John Gottman of the Gottman Institute has dedicated his life to figuring out how to help couples create successful relationships. He realized early in his practice that the conventional way of counseling couples through conflict management wasn’t creating success over the long haul so he spent years studying indicators that the relationship wouldn’t last and analyzing what went right in happy marriages. These following indicators come from his research:

  1. Harsh Start-Up: when discussions start in a negatively where at least one is blaming the other
  2. The Four Horsemen: particular types of negative interactions within these discussions which are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling
  3. Flooding: psychological and physical overwhelm created when one partner’s negativity is extremely intense and sudden, causing the other to shut down
  4. Body Language: visible changes on the outside but more importantly internal physical changes like increased heart rate and blood pressure
  5. Failed Repair Attempts: repair attempts are efforts made to prevent an increase in tension during a discussion
  6. Bad Memories: when a couple looks back at the history of their relationship and only remembers the negative

Gottman goes on to share that there are four final stages that signal the death bell of a relationship which are:

  1. The couple seeing their marital problems as severe
  2. The process of talking things over seems useless so each partner trys to solve problems on their own (independance)
  3. They lead parallel lives (independance)
  4. Lonliness sets in

In this we see that when the couple goes from the intial phase of dependance to this place of “independance” they discover how lonely it really is. The couple who is dedicated to figuring out their relationship has so much hope, more hope than when only one in the partnership is willing to share this dedication. Often when the couple gets to the lonely stage of independance one of the partners seek something different, it might be a different relationship outside of the marriage or it might be individual “soul-searching” and this is how we get started in AwakenYou. We focus on getting to know ourselves better as individuals, we learn how to accept ourselves and strengthening the relationship with ourselves and as we do this work our interactions with our partner starts to change. With this dynamic change you bring to the relationship, your partner will also start to soften into the relationship which takes the relationship to a certain level and then at this point the person doing the work on themselves is better able to express their desires, inviting the partner to join in the journey. It is at this point where the relationship can take off and grow or where one may choose to literally take off and separate from the marriage.

With all of this said there is one more indicator of an impending bad outcome. For many couples these above six indicators are absent in the relationship yet one, or both, of the individuals, have emotionally checked out of the marriage. What might be good to know is that when couples don’t seek help after discovering that they have these indicators present, a split comes during the first 5-6 years whereas couples without these indicators but are emotionally disconnected will split on average after 16 years. The other truth is that though many leave the marriage by seeking a divorce there are also others who leave the marriage by staying together but leading separate lives and this doesn’t need to be the fate of your marriage.

To wrap all of this up and to put a bow on it, over then next few episodes I am going to dig deeper into each of the indicators of divorce so that you can increase your awareness and start creating some change in how you show up with your partner. Beyond that I want to share that cleaning all of this up will help create a new dynamic between you and your partner which then can lead to further healing in your relationship. Once you learn how to successfully handle your disagreements, you can then start working on how you interact when you aren’t in disagreement.

Most of my clients are in the camp of still living together but leading lonely lives. They desperately want connection, don’t really want to leave the relationship but don’t know how to create something different and that is when they come to me. They are frustrated and desperately want to improve their relationship. They want to feel loved and have fun again and where we start is with doing that work within themselves while they work on becoming the partner they want their partner to be. Once they’ve worked through how they work through conflict they get to start working on the process of getting to know each other again and this is where they can start rebuilding a romantic and passion filled relationship we all dream that our marriage will provide.

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.

A Better Way To Deal With Holiday Emotions Ep 43

A Better Way To Deal With Holiday Emotions | Relationship Coach

Welcome to December, and to kick the month off, I am going to share from my heart about what I am processing through right now in my life as I often do because what I learn from my own personal work becomes material I share to help you along on your growth journey. With the holiday season in full swing, I want to share some tips, so you have a better way to deal with holiday emotions affecting you and decide what you want to do with them.

This week in my Marital Magic six-week course, we are diving into the work of retelling the story we have about our past, and while this is powerful work, it can also bring up a lot of emotions, making us feel a bit “funky.” Knowing this to be true, I created a bonus teaching to complement this work that they are doing and help them better manage their minds and emotions. Then upon further reflection, I realized how much this work was helping me with where I am right now with emotions I am processing and how much it will help you with all that we have in front of us this last month of the year because for many this month can be a dozy as we face:

  • Holiday to-do’s
  • Year reflections
  • Family dynamics
  • Food
  • Already full schedules with all of the toppings poured over the top
  • Shoulds, wants, resentments, regrets, frustrations, annoyance, sadness, grief, overwhelm, hopelessness, pain…
  • Celebration

To help you out, I. am going to share how to become more emotionally aware and responsible this season to work through this month and create a different experience than in past years. Today I”m going to teach about three different ways we deal with our emotions and the results we get from each. How this will help is a better ability for you to see what is happening, your usual way of dealing with difficult emotions, which will then help bring awareness. With awareness, you can begin to bring intention to what you choose to do with those emotions.

Three ways we deal with emotions

First, I will name them, and then I’ll spend a bit of time on each.

  • Avoiding
  • Resisting
  • Allowing

Avoiding your emotions

I think that often when we think of avoiding our emotions, we think we are turning away from them, pretending they’re not there, which is an interesting way of talking about this because of what we talked about two weeks ago on the podcast: Your Response Matters: Bids for Connection. In reality, this IS what we are doing but when we turn away we turn towards something else in an attempt to feel better, basically, we are putting sugary sweet icing on top of a nasty tasting cake. We are trying to make ourselves feel better by diverting our attention towards something we think will make us feel better in the moment and possibly does. Still, in the end, we not only feel worse because we did something that didn’t give us long-term gratification, AND that emotion is still there. That emotion is still lurking there in the shadows waiting for you to do something with it.

This process is also referred to as buffering – you are putting something between you and that uncomfortable emotion, maybe it’s food, maybe it’s liquor, or screen watching, purchasing, sex, and during this season it might be doing: going to another party, getting out to do more shopping, putting up more decorations, what might your flavor be for running from your emotions?

The result avoiding your emotions gets is eating foods we really didn’t want to eat, spending money we really didn’t want to spend, spending time being disconnected instead of connecting with ourselves, and discovering what is going on for us. The other result we get is we don’t deal with the emotion, which ultimately means that it will probably get louder and louder.

Resisting your emotions

We all are familiar with resisting emotions, if you’ve been on a diet or tried to quit a habit then you have probably done a LOT of resisting, and resisting usually leads to either relapse back into that habit you were trying to kick or you may quit the habit but pick up another that doesn’t seem “as harmful.” We could use the example of people who quit smoking but pick up sucking on hard candies or snacking.

Resisting emotions is like overfilling a pressure cooker – have you ever done that? I highly suggest you don’t try it. When you overfill a pressure cooker, the food inside swells as it cooks, and it causes the pressure cooker to explode, and yes, this is what happens to you when you resist. When you resist eventually, you explode, maybe at someone else, maybe by buffering, so the result again is that you end up not moving ahead, feeling like junk, and yes, that emotion on steroids.

Allowing your emotions

This way of dealing with your emotions is often very foreign to most people taking them some time to figure out what it looks like, but I like to describe it as though you are getting to know a new person. You pay attention to it, where it resides in your body, what it feels like, ask it questions, listen to what it might have to say, and you even share with it what you are thinking. It might sound a little cuckoo but trust me, it works.

Now, because this is so foreign, it will feel not very good at first, but the beautiful thing about allowing your emotions is that you appease them for a while. Depending on how familiar this emotion is for you, how often you have resisted and/or avoided it, it will come back, again and again. Then when you think you have done the work of allowing and letting go of this emotion, something comes up that “triggers” that emotion, and it comes back to revisit.

Now, what eventually happens when you continue the process of being aware of how you are reacting to your emotions and switch from avoiding and resisting to allowing you to begin to let go of doing either of the last two, and this in of itself is SO liberating! No more emotional eating is magical! But then what you may notice is how awful you feel when these emotions arise – because you’re not using anything to buffer them away, you’re actually feeling them. Once you realize why you feel like junk, then yay, you recognize you have emotions to process, and I have an episode where I teach you exactly how to do that for yourself! How To Process Those Emotions.

If you want more help learning how to allow your emotions, please join my webinar Allowing Emotions Equals A Happier Holiday. I will help you better understand this process and answer your questions.

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.

Your Response Matters: Bids For Connection Ep 41

Your Response Matters: Bids For Connection | Relationship Coach

Happy Tuesday, my friends, and welcome to part five of my follow-ups from episode 36, the Six-Second Kiss Paralysis. Over the past four weeks, I have been sharing some fundamental and fairly basic concepts about creating and re-creating that solid marital relationship we so badly longed for. I honestly believe that these six episodes are critical and fundamental in the process of closing the abyss that so many of us feel is between our partners and us and a marital relationship that feels like we once upon a time imagined it to be. Last week I talked about bids for connection. Briefly, I talked about starting the process of recognizing bids, either our own or our partner’s, and then paying attention to how we respond to them because how your response to bids for connection matters. How you respond will determine whether you are creating more connection or disconnection.

Today I want to help you understand the different ways we can respond to a bid for connection, what those different responses may look like and how each will give you different results in your intimate relationship. If you are here listening to AwakenYou in your marriage, then it tells me that you are searching for the courage and inspiration to show up differently in your marriage. This episode will bring awareness to how you have been receiving bids, the opportunity to re-evaluate that response given what you now know, and start filling in the space between where you are and where you want to be, which is on the other side of that chasm hand and hand with your partner.

Ways we can respond to our spouses bids for connection

Make sure that if you haven’t listened to last week’s episode, Bids For Your Partner’s Attention, that you do so because it is the prequel to what we are talking about today. In that episode, I explain what bids for connection are and share some examples, and with those examples, you can look at ways you have been responding to your partner’s bids for connection:

  • Turning towards: we respond to their bid, put down what we are doing and turn towards them, we create connection.
  • Turning away: we ignore their bid by turning away or ignoring and continuing what we are doing, we create disconnection.
  • Turning against: responding to their bid with anger or aggression, basically attacking your partner, we create disconnection and break emotional connection

Throughout this episode, I will be using one specific type of bid for connection to keep things clean and followable. The bid for connection I’m going to use as an example will be in the evening, after work, when your spouse comes home from work, and you are in the kitchen making dinner. They come into the kitchen, put their stuff down on the counter, right where you were going to set the cutting board to prep the veggies, and then starts telling you a story about something that happened during his day. Using the three options about and knowing which one creates connection, what choice might you choose from these three options? Your choice is what will determine whether you are creating connection or disconnection, so let’s look at what these different responses might look like:

Turning towards

In this example, turning towards your partner would look like pausing what you are doing, even if that means taking the pan off the burner, turning to look at them, and listening.

Turning away

Turning away would have you continue doing what you are doing; you might be nodding your head and acknowledging with your body, but you are signaling that what you are doing is more important than connecting with them.

Turning against

Turning against would look like interrupting your spouse and making it clear that you don’t have time for them by telling them to leave you alone, or “can’t you see I’m a bit preoccupied right now?” or even turning it around to you by saying something like, “Don’t you remember that I had an important meeting today? You think your stuff is always more important than mine.”

Another example

Let’s try another example. This example you may not recognize as a bid for connection but remember, a bid is someone trying to get your attention for a positive connection. “I wish you would put your phone down during dinner.”

  • Turning towards: setting the phone down and saying “I’m sorry, it’s so easy to just pick it up, I want to work on putting it down when we spend time together. Thank you for helping me!”
  • Turning away: ignoring, finishing what you are looking at on your phone and keep eating.
  • Turning against: “You use the phone at dinner too, what’s the difference?”

I could go on and on sharing examples; how about one more? “Hey, did you see that house down the road where they replaced the siding? I don’t think it looks good.”

  • Turning towards: “I didn’t notice, which house are you referring too and why don’t you think it looks good?”
  • Turning away: look away and go do a task
  • Turning against: “Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something?”

Of course, with the creation of this episode, I have been hyper-aware of Jeff’s bids for connections as well as how I am responding, making sure that I turn towards, listen, and then deciding if it’s necessary to ask for a pause to finish up what I may be in the middle of. I ask myself what is more important, what I am doing or connecting with my husband, every time I decide connection.

Taking action

You know I am all about taking action. I love taking action around bids for connection because initially, it doesn’t require any vulnerability except for being aware of what is happening. Your first action step is to start paying attention to:

  • When your partner makes a bid for connection
  • When you are making a bid for connection (intentional or nonintentional)
  • How you are responding to their bids
  • How they are responding to your bids remembering you are only creating awareness, you are not using their responses now as a weapon which of course would create disconnection

As you create this awareness, start practicing turning towards your partner when you recognize a bid. In the beginning, this might look like turning away or against and then self-correcting by turning back towards them. Take time practicing for yourself and exploring when you want to turn away or against; take time to look at how that feels and then how it feels to turn towards.

As you know, for years, I complained about Jeff’s “inability to connect.” Of course, I didn’t know then that this was keeping me from a way that created the connection I so badly wanted, BUT if I had known the things I know now, I could have used other “non-conversational” ways to create connection. Through these different ways of creating connection that I have shared over the past five episodes, you can start building connection in ways that don’t look so traditional, like sitting down and having a discussion.

Lastly, I forgot to mention the six-second kiss and how it has you making a bid for connection. Now, if your partner is asking for a kiss, turning towards them and sharing a kiss will create that connection, and then you can decide where that goes from there. Turning aways has you ignoring their bid, turning your head or walking away, or diverting by starting a conversation. Turning against would have you telling them that you’re not interested in kissing them.

I’d love to hear what bold steps you are taking in your marriage to create connection and move towards the woman you want to be in your intimate relationship.

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.

Bids For Your Partner’s Attention Ep 40

Bids For Your Partner's Attention | Relationship Coach

This week is week three of taking a look at some of the benefits of the six-second kiss. Now, before you freeze or flee, I want you to know that this discussion has all stemmed from a conversation about the six-second kiss paralysis because many of my clients experience freeze or flee when they think about implementing this action into their marriage. So, if you are joining for the first time today, I would love for you to go back a few episodes to catch yourself up. One of the benefits of implementing the six-second kiss is that it has you making a bid for your partner’s connection.

So, today we’re going to talk about what bids for connection are so that you understand the concept and how it can bring you closer to your partner, learn how to create them, and recognize when your partner is sending out a bid for connection to you. Once you understand what bids are, I will share some examples of ways you can deliberately make bids for connection and catch the bids your partner is throwing your way, maybe even without knowing that they are throwing you a bid.

What are bids for connection?

A bid for connection is an attempt by your partner to get your attention, input, or opinion on a decision they are contemplating, basically, any action intended to create some type of positive connection. Bids can be as simple as a wave or a smile or even an out-of-place statement like “look at that dog over there!” Sometimes a bid for connection may not seem so positive, like sarcasm or a punch in the shoulder and this could likely be when someone feels awkward with communication and connection, especially if it hasn’t been practiced, so it’s good to pay attention because what you might be seeing as negative could be your partner’s awkward way of reaching out and attempting to connect.

I think it could be comforting to know that many times we miss bids for connection from other people and that is why having the knowledge about this connection tool can help us get better at catching them. As you learn about this tool and practice, you may even want to share it with your partner so that they can understand what a bid for connection is and how to react to it. You can even start paying attention to bids other people may be aiming at you outside of your marriage, watch your children, your friends, and co-workers, as well as practice making bids of connection with these other relationships.

Next week I will share different ways we respond to bids which is going to be a great follow-up to this episode, but for this week, we will concentrate on the fact that when we make a bid, we are hoping for our partner to turn towards us. This is why it is important to not only throw bids out but to practice noticing them and responding in a way that will create connection instead of disconnection.

After you play around with throwing and catching bids from your partner it will be a fun conversation to share what you have discovered with your partner. You can share how you’ve been paying attention to when they are throwing out bids and that you’ve been practicing bidding for attention and what you have noticed. When you share make sure you are sharing from a place of learning and fun, no accusations about how they may not be catching your bids or even throwing many at you! Simply share what you’ve learned here, maybe suggest listening to the episode together, which is another bid, and deposit into your emotional bank account (cha-ching!), and start playing the bidding for connection game!

Types of bids for connection

There are so many ways to bid for your partner’s attention, it could even be a fun game to start a list of all the ways you want to make bids, and as we learn what they are we can get better at making them. A precaution I want to throw out there is that as start this bidding game we might see that our partner is turning away from us and rejecting our bids for connection, but also be conscious of how you may have been doing the same prior to acquiring knowledge about this new tool. I would highly recommend for the sake of the relationship, that you start this practice from ground zero and let go of what we didn’t know from our past. Let’s start with looking at some simple bids and then get into some that might be a bit more difficult to perceive:

  • Asking about our partner’s day and sharing about our day
  • Texting them during the day to say hi or ask a question, share a story you read
  • Acknowledging them when they come home
  • A six-second kiss as well as a simple kiss and hug, the touching of their shoulder, reaching for their hand
  • Talking about things that are disconcerning
  • Asking to play a board game, watch a movie, play cards, go for a walk
  • Inviting them to learn something with you, read a book, try a class
  • Sharing some of your bucket list items
  • Asking your partner to help you with something, maybe it’s a household task or helping someone else
  • Asking your partner how you look or if your outfit matches
  • Inviting them to come sit by you
  • Sitting down by them
  • Pulling out the chair next to you and inviting them to sit down by you

To start, I recommend that you begin to notice bids you are making and bids your partner might be making. With bids, you recognize your partner making, notice your habitual practice in response, and now practice accepting that bid and turning towards them. If you’re making dinner or in the middle of something and you notice them making a bid, pause, turn and look at them. As you get comfortable with deliberately making small, less vulnerable bids, pay attention to how your partner responds while being conscious about not using this new knowledge as a weapon to criticize your partner, just learn and be aware. Sharing this episode with them would be a bid and them agreeing to listen would have them accepting that bid and if they say no then share the Cliff Notes version or just keep practicing on your own and notice the change you see in them because as you become more receptive those good ole mirror neurons will start working and whammo, they are responding.

I’m going to be honest and share that one of the best side-effects of helping people create the relationship of their dreams is that I am constantly thinking and learning more about how great relationships happen which has me constantly taking intentional actions in my marriage. As you incorporate this practice of bidding for connection I’d love to hear what you think about it, how you are implementing it, and the different ways you are creating bids for connection in your marriage and if you want help learning how to turn your marriage around then I want to encourage you to join my one on one coaching program where we dig deep into your relationship with yourself so that you can create the intimate relationship that feels amazing.

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.

Your Marriage’s Emotional Bank Account Ep 39

Your Marriage's Emotional Bank Account | Relationship Coach

Hello, hello everyone, and welcome to AwakenYou! Today I want to start with sharing how AwakenYou helps you in your marriage because many are confused about how focusing inward can get them from dissatisfied to satisfied in their marriage. If you’re like most of my clients and how I was, we are looking at our partners to change so we can finally have the relationship we want. Still, we hold ourselves in a strategically weak position until we look inside and find clarity around what we are REALLY dissatisfied with. We hold ourselves in a position where we don’t try anything new; we keep ourselves small, thinking everything is good just as it is, that we should be happy, or we keep ourselves angry and stressed about something that appears to be out of control and unsolvable. We are in the middle of a big tangled mess where we can’t see any other options except feeling awful. That is the short explanation, and the reason I went there is because we are starting the Marital Magic six-week course this week! This week is actually Warm-Up week, meaning we are getting to know each other, and we would love to have you join us; we officially start this coming Saturday. This course is designed to help you look at why you are dissatisfied and uninspired in your marriage and then help you courageously go after what you want. I hope you will join us! This week is a continuation of the benefits of the six-second kiss, which I shared in episode 35: Six-Second Kiss Paralysis focusing today on your marriage’s emotional bank account.

Today, I will talk about what an emotional bank account is and how deposits are not equal to withdrawals, similar to getting dinged for taking money out of your financial bank account. Then I’ll share examples of emotional withdrawals and deposits, including the six-second kiss.

Your marriage’s emotional bank account

Dr. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families defines an emotional bank account as one’s relationship with another – he says that “By proactively doing things that build trust in a relationship, one makes ‘deposits.’ Conversely, by reactively doing things that decrease trust, one makes ‘withdrawals.’ The current ‘balance’ of the emotional bank account will determine how well two people can communicate and problem-solve together.” Through Covey’s explanation, we can deduce that if we struggle to communicate with our spouse, we might want to question whether we need to make more deposits.

Deposits or acts of kindness, honesty, courtesy, integrity, and love strengthen our relationship, while acts of cruelty, disrespect, criticism, and betrayal are all withdrawals that weaken our relationship.

The weight of deposits versus withdrawals

Deposits are small, consistent positive interactions, while negative interactions are big withdrawals – like paying a ‘penalty’ when you make a withdrawal from your financial bank account. Too many negative interactions can quickly wipe out a positive emotional balance.

By the time most of my clients come to me, they have created a large deficit in their marital emotional bank account. Just like eliminating financial debt is through taking small steps daily, whether it be putting money away and avoiding spending, the same process is implemented with building up a positive balance in our emotional bank accounts. Learning how to make small daily deposits in our marital emotional accounts helps us “save up” for those inevitable negative interactions.

Then the better we get at the daily habit of turning towards our partner and making positive deposits, it permeates into helping us make deposits even DURING a conflict when we are pulling out of our investment. We become accustomed to making deposits, so when we start withdrawing, we can be more present by listening to them, seeing where they may be right, being able to understand where they are coming from, and being curious about what they have to say by encouraging them to tell you more.

Examples of negative interactions or withdrawals

  • Looking at your phone or turning away when your partner is speaking to you
  • Complaining or nagging
  • Talking negatively about your partner to others
  • Being sarcastic
  • Interrupting them when they are speaking
  • Critcizing their approach
  • Ignoring them
  • Diminishing their perspective
  • Not keeping promises
  • Avoiding physical closeness outside, and inside, of sex
  • Conditional love

Examples of positive interactions or deposits

  • Apologizing when you notice yourself doing any of the above
  • Listening to them when they talk, look in their eyes, notice them
  • Creating intentional time with them, reading, a walk, watching a show, cooking, a game
  • Welcome them when they come home
  • Be interested in their hobbies and their work
  • Find ways to laugh together
  • Take time to understand and know them (see Ep 37: Love Maps: Getting To Know Your Spouse)
  • Discover THEIR love language and take actions to speak it to them
  • Follow through on those things you promised
  • Get clear on your partner’s expectations, ask and come to a mutual agreement on how you might be able to fulfill those expectations
  • Loving without conditions
  • Physical closeness: cuddling, kissing for no particular reason, hugs and this is where the six-second kiss comes in!

When we’ve only been pulling from our emotional bank account, it’s important to recognize that big deposits may not be effective without the everyday small deposits. A long-needed vacation with your partner without implementing small daily deposits isn’t going to be sufficient to bring your account up to a healthy space, similar to paying off a big chunk of your financial debt without making changes in your daily savings and spending habits.

It’s important to start small, take action on things that make you feel just a bit vulnerable, and build up your courage bank. Every small courageous act of an emotional bank account deposit will help you feel more comfortable and confident with the actions you want to take. The more courageous and confident you get, the bigger your deposits get and the less you withdraw when conflict arises!

If you are interested in doing the work of wiping out your marital emotional debt and want help doing so, then an easy and fun way to start would be by joining my six-week Marital Magic course that starts this coming Saturday. Together let’s fall back in love with our spouses! We started this week with a bit of a warm-up and setting of intentions, but the real work starts this coming weekend and I would love to have you join this community of people who are excited to get re-inspired to create a marital relationship that they love being a part of!

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.