3 Actions to Take Your Relationship from Good to Great

3 Actions to Take Your Relationship from Good to Great

Want to know 3 simple actions that can take your marriage from good to great?

  1. Listen. Seem easy, right? Most people struggle with listening well. Listening is one of the key actions for moving from good to great in your relationship. Want to grow your relationship? Grow your listening skills. Only 2% of people are taught how to listen. If you want to learn about the five levels of listening and take the listening quiz to discover your listening “Villians”, click here. These teachings from Oscar Trimboli has helped many of our clients. I have found learning to listen at a deeper level takes communication to a whole new level. And, moving from good communication to great communication is a game changer.

2. Resolve Conflict. Unresolved conflict contributes to relational strain and can lead to break up. Understanding your Conflict Style for each of you as partners is helpful. Then, learning how to resolve conflict is a game changer. Conflict is part of life. Ignoring or fleeing from conflict is not resolving conflict. When you and your partner learn skills for conflict resolution, you take your relationship from good to great. You both feel safe and confident if you need to talk about a difficult subject, or any subject! You cannot grow a relationship if you are angry or hurt by an interaction. Great relationships include apology, forgiveness, and repair. 

3. Intentional Time Together and Apart. Life is busy. Our calendars can be filled with everything from work, kids, sports, and friends. Couples how grow from good to great keep their calendars with two important dates: each other and themselves. Time is an important fertilizer to grow relationships from good to great. You can skimp for a while during a season, but then time away together without kids keeps the fire burning. Over 46 years of marriage, Sharlyne and I have practiced daily time together and periodic time away, just the two of us. Our lives are busy with family and businesses. Unless we put it on the calendar, the time away does not happen. Our daily routine usually includes praying together before bed. This simple practice has continued to develop deep intimacy between our souls. The periodic time away refreshes our relationship as our only focus is each other. 

I hope these give your relationship a boost from good to great. If you need a bit of help, we help couples listen more deeply, resolve conflict more effectively, and take their relationship from good (or even poor), to great.

Happy Valentine’s Day 

Make “Someday” Today

Make “Someday” Today

The problem with New Year’s Resolution is most fail. In fact, one in four quit the first week! Only 9% make it to the finish line at the end of the year. Instead of a trying to lose weight or save money, how about focusing in on that Someday goal and make that actions for Today?

In order to convert a Someday goal into Today, you will need to FOCUS:

  • FOLLOW
  • ONE
  • COURSE
  • UNTIL
  • SUCCESSFUL

Follow involves finding a leader and walking in his or her steps. Whatever your Someday goal, the first step is finding a leader to follow. Everyone needs mentors. If you want to find success, follow those who have been successful. You define success. It might be a certain income level, or for more people today, a certain lifestyle. How do you want to live? The mentor you follow should not just have the income, but the lifestyle you desire and hold the values you embrace.

Shutting out the distractions is a major obstacle for most of us. That new shiny object is sure tempting. What about that shortcut? I can multi-task. No problem with more than one focus. If you want to find success, you need to narrow the focus to ONE. Narrowing your FOCUS to ONE thing is the secret ingredient to success.

You need a plan, a COURSE. Your mentor can help with a course. He or she built the rails. You can follow the path. Even if you are a trailblazer, there are those who designed a path to blaze trails. Select a plan, follow the plan, and stay the course.

Patience and Persistence are virtues to stay the course. Remember, one out of four quit the first week. You need to be one. You can stay the course until successful. You are the 9%. Nobody who is successful was the 91% who quit. When you face barriers and problems, both internal and external, you must decide at each moment your decision – persevere or punch out. The key to success is hanging around long enough to see the results. We live in an instant culture. Very few find instant success. Many find success through patience and persistence.

Congrats! You reached the finish line. There will be another Someday goal that needs to become Today. With each conversion from Someday to Today, you become more and more successful living the lifestyle of your dreams. 

Dreams come true when we FOCUS.

Wishing you a Someday that will turn into a Today!

Happy New Year

The Gift of Touch

The Gift of Touch

I know, I know, for some of you touch is a really hard one. You just are not a huggy, touchy type. If the love language of your partner is physical touch, you may be starving him or her. Physical touch is far more than sex, although is pretty important, too!  Here are some ideas for physical touch:

  • Hold hands during a walk or watching television together
  • Give a morning hug every morning
  • Give a good bye kiss when walking out the door
  • Give a kiss before bed
  • Give a massage to your partner – you can learn how. A massage gun can be wonderful
  • Simply cuddle
  • Here is a challenge – have sex for 12 days straight!

My wife and I slept in a queen bed for over 40 years. We liked the “feel” of the nearness of our partner. When away from each other, we really missed sleeping near one another. If you are touchy-feely or not, physical touch is important for all of us. For some, it is the primary way to receive love. If the love language or your partner is touch, let them feel the love on a daily basis this Christmas and beyond.

The Gift of Time

The Gift of Time

For some, it is far easier to give a gift than carve out time. We seem to have a scarcity of time. Everyone one is busy, even those who retire. I am not going to retire just so I have more time!  For those who want to say, “I love you” with time, here are some ideas:

  • When I spend an entire day with my wife, I shout to her, “you are important!”. We call these Day Dates. You do not need much money. You can hike, take a picnic, go to the beach, etc. One of our favorite Day Dates is driving the Columbia George Scenic Route in the spring seeing all the apple and pear trees in bloom by Hood River. We take the convertible, stop by the waterfalls, have lunch at Skamania Lodge or Hood River, then drive back to Portland over Mt. Hood. 
  • Something far more simple – set aside an hour each day to spend with your partner. No phones allowed. You might enjoy a sit down breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The key – uninterrupted time to concentrate on the one you love.
  • How about a night of nostalgia? Spend time together looking through pictures or videos from some of your best memories.
  • Spend a night building a Dream Board together. There is nothing more powerful than our dreams, especially joint dreams about the future together!
  • You can surprise your partner and take them out to lunch.
  • Give the gift of listening. One of the most precious gifts to your partner is listening deeply. Need some help? You might take the listening quiz.
  • My wife and I have a faith background. The most important time we spend together daily is prayer. We have found prayer deepens our relationship like few other activities.

My hope for you is creating some habits of sharing time together. I know couples today who rarely see each other. So difficult to enjoy a healthy and thriving relationship when time is so scarce between the two of you. May this Christmas you find a way create space for each other daily.

Holiday Family Fights

Holiday Family Fights

For some, getting through the stress of the holidays means trying to avoid the traditional family fight at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I remember my grandfather drinking too much, getting mad at my mom, she ends up crying, and him leaving early huffing and puffing out the door.  So much for a Happy Thanksgiving or a Merry Christmas!

As a mediator, I find avoiding family fights one of the top priorities for many during the holiday season.  Here are a few of the common fights:

  • The In-Law Fight. Marriage does instantly create family. Parents never accepted the partner of the child.  Children never accepted the new partner of a parent.
  • The Alcohol Induced Fight. Give anyone too much liquor and just watch the fireworks.
  • The Religion and Politics Fight. There is a reason why people stay away from these topics, especially after some alcohol.
  • The “You Never Amounted to Nothing” Diatribe. This is more of a rant than a fight. The result is just the same; victims and blood everywhere.  Alcohol always helps this one get started.
  • Last, but least, the “Why Can’t You be Like the Others” Fight. This fight ofter originates with parents focused on the misfit child. The whole family would be better if the misfit would just learn to conform or “get along.”

Now that I have described some of my favorite holiday family fights, what can you do about them? Here are a few strategies. If you are hosting the holiday gathering, you can make some ground rules. How about limiting the amount of alcohol consumption for a start?  Or, certain subjects or people are off limits for conversation.  In order to keep things more positive, how about digging out some old family photos or movies.  Many families have a great time reflecting on past events.  You could even ask each family to bring one of their favorite photos and explain why they selected it.  The point?  If you are the host, you control the environment.  You get a chance to possibly start some new traditions.

Now, if you are not hosting and attending the gathering at another family members home, here are some pointers.  Think about how to excuse yourselves if the family starts down the fight trail.    You can even have an agreed upon word or sentence that signals your spouse or family – time to leave.  If you are ready to confront some difficult family behavior, schedule a pre-holiday conversation to discuss the issue.  “We will not participate in conversations that quickly turn abusive.  If we come, and you raise issues that lead to escalating conflict, we will leave.  We would like to stay and enjoy the day.  How about we think about how to make this a good day for everyone?.”  Think about your words.  Try to describe the situation accurately without using inflammatory descriptors.  Many spouses and children do not feel safe at holiday gatherings.  Thus, they would rather stay home.

If you are ready to invest in a process to create peace for your family, we are here to help you on that journey. We offer a FREE 15-minute phone consultation to help you make the first step on the journey.

I hope this holiday brings you and your family peace, joy, love and hope.

Where is Your Labor Going?

Where is Your Labor Going?

You have heard the saying, “work smarter, not harder”. How about taking a step back and spending time considering WHERE is your labor going? Simon Sinek says start with WHY. Why are you on planet earth and what is your purpose? When you know your WHY, then you can go to the next step and vision living your life on purpose. The late Stephen Covey taught to begin with the end in mind. Many people thought this was just for time management in project planning. Productivity is important once you put the big rocks in your calendar first, not last. Then, you work effectively to spend time on what matters most to you.

Here is my Labor Day challenge. Take an hour sometime and let yourself dream about what kind of life you want to live. Where would you live? Who would live with you? What are doing? How are you working? In other words, how are you living? Now that you have a VISION for your life, reverse engineer HOW to get there. This is different than just project management for a goal. You will have goals. Just make sure your goals take you to the destination of your vision. We can accomplish goals but leave what we value most behind. As you create a vision for your life, values become your North Star to guide you. I have mediated more than one divorce or family estrangement because a goal was reached, often wealth, but important relationships were damaged. I have been present for the last moments of a person on this planet. He or she never asked for money to surround the bed. The cherished moments are family surrounding the bed and celebrating the life of the person passing. Live life on purpose. Make a difference. Know where your labor is going.