Study love

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“If he desired to know about automobiles, he would, without question, study diligently about automobiles.
 If his wife desired to be a gourmet cook, she’d certainly study the art of cooking, perhaps even attending a cooking class. Yet, it never seems as obvious to him that if he wants to live in love, he must spend at least as much time as the auto mechanic or the gourmet in studying love.
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- Leo Buscaglia

I love this quote I found on en’theos because it captures what John and I really believe and have discovered about relationships and marriage, ours and those we have coached. It takes study and practice and diligence to have what we want in life in any arena. Even love.
Study love. Spend as much time studying love as you would to study anything you want to have mastery in. Read, observe, ask questions, practice, take classes. How do we learn other things we want to learn in life? We study.
Study love.

Choose ‘in’ every day

Choose ‘in’ every day

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My feelings are a guide to my actions but they cannot be trusted to be the only guide. I must also rely on my commitment to my marriage relationship. Do I base all my actions on my feelings? I don’t. Otherwise I wouldn’t go to my job unless I felt like it, or exercise only when I felt like it, or eat healthy based on if I feel like it. I must at some point take responsibility for the choices I have made in my life. I must choose to honor my commitments in life; keep my promises. I made a vow to my husband in front of my family, his family and witnesses and I’m actually glad it’s not that easy to pull a marriage apart.
I took a vow. And actually it’s a really great thing I did. Otherwise, 29 years later, I might not have stayed married without that vow. That commitment saw me thru times when I wanted to quit. I wanted to give up. I said “this is too hard.” But that vow, that promise, that commitment to be married for life, brought me to the other side of many stormy times in our marriage.
When I was younger, I thought each time we had a fight or disagreement that we couldn’t seem to resolve, it was the end of our marriage. But as I matured and chose to stay married, I began to accept that we will not agree on everything, we will not feel romantic every day, we will not like all the circumstances of our life together all of the time. I now trust that, and realize that tough times don’t need to be the end of my marriage. They have made us stronger and more capable of handling the next challenge. We can, and do, get to the other side, together.

Sometimes you’ve just gotta slow down!

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A coaching client came to me a couple of weeks ago and in the conversation revealed that he had lost a client that represented 80% of his income and that his wife was over the top upset. In her upset, she fired off some zingers that confronted his desire for honor and respect. Wisely, he removed himself from the situation before responding in his anger and hurt (great progress over the past!) and called me. He knows I’m not one for a great deal of sympathy in our coaching relationship and his reaching out for help was genuine.

My first question was aimed at identifying his accountability in the scenario so he could actually do something about it. (It never works to try to fix the other person.) I asked, ”what basic need of your wife are you violating?” With a little help, he realized that his wife’s desire for security and surety had been tweaked with the news he presented. So on to the next question we went. I asked “what can you do to provide her some sense of security and surety in this situation?” With more help, he came to realize that he had not provided his wife any insight into his opportunity/sales pipeline and timeline which is robust.

Fast forward three days and a follow up conversation revealed that he had patiently and thoroughly walked his wife through his sales funnel. His comment: “It was like turning on a light switch! She calmed down, was relaxed and actually engaged with me on how we could close and even expand some of the opportunities. She was so positive and gave some really great feedback.”

Notice how his initial disregard for her most basic need triggered her to attack his most basic need. And it was all unconscious. You’d be shocked to know how frequently this occurs. Conversely, notice how when he slowed down, gave her all of the context and at some level met her need for security and surety, she responded in the meeting of his need for honor and respect. And notice when both had their basic needs met they returned to a loving stance. And finally, notice how is staying accountable assisted in coming to a quick, effective solution.

Remember, during upset in a relationship, stay accountable (you can only fix you), look for where you have confronted your partners most basic need (men = honor/respect, women = security), look for actions you can take to restore their sense of that need being met.

Turn it Around

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Turn it around

If you are an individual who has been married 2 years or longer, you may have started to notice some of your thoughts about marriage or your spouse are shifting. Maybe the honeymoon phase has worn off and you find yourself starting to doubt your choice of a mate. Maybe you find yourself internally criticizing them more often. What should you do?
When you find your thoughts dwelling more on the negative aspects of your spouse, than on the positive, here’s what I have learned to do.
Turn it around. Every time a negative or critical thought about your spouse floats into the ticker tape of thoughts constantly circulating in your mind, turn the thought into a question.
What is 1 really great thing my spouse does? Then let your mind dwell on that thought for a few minutes.
Try it again. This time think of 2 things that your spouse does really well. Let your mind rest on those thoughts for a few minutes. Then think of 3 things your spouse does really well and keep those thoughts in your mind a little longer.
Each time a negative thought comes in, arrest that thought as quickly as you notice it, and turn it around to the question. What does my spouse do really well?
Keep steadily practicing turning it around in your mind on a consistent basis and it will start to form a habit. Studies show it takes 21 days to form a new habit. You will train yourself to turn your thoughts around.
The longer you can dwell on the positive qualities of your spouse and minimize the negative thought patterns, the better you will feel about them, and the better you will feel about your relationship overall.
What shift can you create today in your marriage relationship by following this practice?

Saying ‘yes’ whenever you can

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How do you respond when your spouse asks a question like, ” Honey, can we spend more time together this week?” Or “Honey can we go out to dinner so we can spend time together?” How do you respond to a financial question. “Honey we really need…can we buy…?” What is your first reaction? Is it “No”? What would transform in your marriage if you said “Yes” more often? Have you examined why you are saying “No”? Have you looked at it from your spouse’s point of view? Are they thinking you always say “No, we can’t afford it, or No, I don’t have time”?
Saying no because you feel you don’t have the money or the time is a challenge. Let’s question that statement. Is there another way to say “Yes”; to be creative with money and time that opens up a possibilty that you hadn’t considered? Is there a solution you hadn’t thought of because you are either afraid, or because you didn’t take time to consider there could be a solution?
Before you quickly say “No” next time your spouse asks something, just stop and consider, what would it be like if I said “Yes?” Walk down the path in your mind. If I said “Yes” to this, what would take place? What needs to occur inside yourself for your answer to be “Yes” to your spouse?