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Editor | Partners in Life Couples News
Copyright 2009 by Relationship Coaching Institute All rights reserved.
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This newsletter is designed especially for YOU if:
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- You have a good relationship and want to make it great
Message from the President of RCI
As 2009 rapidly comes to a close, I have mixed feelings about a year that was so challenging for so many. Throughout the world people struggled with financial adversity -- loss of jobs, homes, life savings -- and yet in the midst of great turmoil, many re-discovered a fundamental truth -- that what is most important is not what you own, but those you love.
At RCI we know that strong love relationships can sustain you through the most difficult times, and it is during these times people need to focus on coming together as a couple or family, to support each other and flame the hope of a better tomorrow.
If you are struggling in your relationship, I encourage you to take advantage of our vast resources, including articles, audio recordings, and of course our RCI Relationship Coaches who are experts in the relationship coaching field.
So, as 2009 comes to a close, I acknowledge the opportunities for growth and awareness that it heralded, and I look forward with anticipation to 2010 -- a year of hope and new beginnings for us all.
On behalf of the management, staff and members of RCI I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season, and wishes for an outstanding New Year.
President, Relationship Coaching Institute
Ask Our Coaches:
Not What I Signed Up For – What Should I Do?
"I think her move to leave a job, especially in
the current economic times, was incredibly selfish...."
This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to Tara@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.
My girlfriend and I have lived together for 2 years. We keep our finances separate and split all expenses based proportionately on our income – I actually make less than she does. We both have great jobs in public relations – or at least she did until about 3 months ago. She quit her job because she was tired of the pressure and the office politics. I wasn't consulted about it – she just did it. That leaves me in a precarious position.
First, our living arrangement and agreement has changed and now I have the burden of paying for everything which is really not working out well for me. I have my own financial responsibilities not to mention I'm still paying alimony and child support to an ex-wife. Now I have all of my girlfriend's expenses as well.
I've talked to my girlfriend, but she really wants to take some time off and get some mental rest and I've told her I can't continue like this because it's damaging me financially and it's not doing much for our relationship either. There aren't very many prospects for jobs in our area and the chances of her finding one are going to be slim – let alone she's not interested in looking.
We're in a two bedroom apartment and our lease is up in January. I can't afford to go on like this financially and I'm not going to go into debt to support her. This is causing a great deal of stress for me and it's affecting my career as well. I'm thinking of moving into a studio apartment and asking her to move back in with her parents until she can find another job. Her parents would love to have her back home (they're local).
What do you think? I just don't feel that I can separate out finances from our relationship. I think her move to leave a job, especially in the current economic times, was incredibly selfish and really showed a lack of consideration and respect for me. I don't think this bodes well for sharing a future together. Do you think I'm overreacting? Any thoughts?
Ron in Raleigh
Randy responds …
Contrary to popular belief, finances do play a role in relationships. Money is the common denominator of value, and like it or not, each relationship has a value, some more than others. If you are absolutely crazy about her, can't live without her and can afford to pay her way, then most likely you will do so. But apparently that's not the way things are.
If you're absolutely crazy about her and don't want to lose her but cannot afford your current accommodations on your income alone, then you can try to jointly decide on a solution – downsizing to a smaller apartment where you live together, or moving back in with family, etc. "Living together" is not the ultimate relationship, and two years is not long, so experimenting with alternatives might actually strengthen your relationship.
On the other hand, this might be an indicator that your interest in her is not super strong, and this may be an opportunity to shift the status for a while and see what happens. If you're less than "crazy-about-her" feeling is due to less-than-stellar chemistry, you might decide that someone else is a better fit for you. If your ambivalence is due to her behavior towards you, this might be a chance for her to adjust her patterns to keep you.
The bottom line is that you should make a value judgment, realistically constrained by your budget, and act accordingly without making any irrevocable decisions.
Randy Hurlburt | www.partnersinloveandcrime.com | 858.455.0799
Katherin responds …
It's time to have a clear and courageous conversation with your girlfriend. Finances can be one of the most difficult topics to discuss with a partner, but they must be addressed. You say you had a previous agreement to share expenses. When she quit her job, it seems the two of you didn't renegotiate this agreement. I believe the two of you are harboring assumptions about how relationships "should work" and that each of your relationship expectations are very different.
Be clear with her. Let her know your expectations for sharing expenses. Listen to her viewpoint. Does she think it's now your turn to take care of the expenses since she contributed a larger share of the money prior to when she quit her job? Does she think it's the man's responsibility to ultimately take care of the woman? What was her intention about quitting her job without consulting you? How does her point of view align with yours?
Brainstorm your options, both for your finances and your relationship. A cheaper apartment for the both of you? Living apart? Your girlfriend getting a new job or contributing living expenses from her savings? Do you stay together or break-up? It's time to be courageous and clearly communicate with each other. Then take action so you will both have a better future, either together or separately.
Katherin Scott | www.KatherinScott.com | 425.681.2620
Ann responds …
I read your inquiry several times knowing there was something I was missing, but I couldn't put my finger on it, then it hit me. It is full of "I" and "her" but very little "we."
You've gotten yourself into a mini marriage without thinking through and planning for what you'd do, as a couple, "when the going gets tough." Living together with all the benefits of married life also means you should be willing to live together during the difficult times. It does not sound like you're ready to do that.
While your girlfriend has a right to be happy in her work, it was not responsible for her to quit her job without discussing it with you first, giving the two of you, as a couple, the opportunity to decide what should be done and the impact it would have on the relationship.
Clearly you resent what has happened and, while it is possible for the two of you to have a future together, I'd recommend proceeding with caution, coaching, and awareness. This may be a good time to step back, take a close look at your future – singularly and as a couple.
Whether she moves back home, stays with you, or moves into her own place needs to be decided soon. Living apart will give you the time to examine your requirements, needs, and wants while determining if this relationship has a future. Relationship coaching will be of tremendous value to you as it will enable you to clearly define your life's vision, your relationship goals, and most importantly, whether you can and should try to make it work with your present girlfriend.
Ann Robbins | www.lifeworksmatchmaking.com | 954.561.4498
Dr. Dar responds …
It is unsettling that your girlfriend did not discuss leaving her job with you and the resulting financial consequences of doing so. This is a strong sign that mutual respect is not present in the relationship especially when it concerns finances. I can imagine you are feeling slighted and resentful.
Bluntly, you have every reason to ask that she move back in with her parents and are not overreacting. You have a lot to be responsible for financially and looking at your situation logically is important. If your girlfriend is unwilling to collaborate with you, or does not discuss how you both will handle things going forward or how she will manage her contribution to the relationship and household, I think you are headed in the right direction.
Since her parents are welcoming her to move back in, it sounds like this is a viable alternative for both of you. She gets the time off she says she needs, you don't have the additional stress or financial burden, and the relationship may still have a chance, if you want that. Follow your instincts Ron!
Dr. Dar | www.RelationshipSuccessSource.com | 704.651.8568
Marital Conflict: Creating a Marital Emergency Plan
by Michelle E. Vásquez, MS, LPC
Some marriages are relatively calm; others are fraught with conflict. No matter which category your marriage falls into, all married people have conflicts sooner or later. When you are in the middle of conflict, your rational mind goes on vacation and your lizard brain takes up residence.
Women, does your husband "go into his cave" when you have a disagreement? How do you react to this behavior? Do you freak out and try to get him to talk? Do you ignore him too? Does it turn into a power struggle?
Men, does your wife keep pushing you to talk to her when you're already stressed out beyond your ability to think? Do you want to get away from her so you can put your head back on straight? Are you concerned that you might "lose it" when she keeps at you, trying to get you to talk?
Often, the very things she does do to get her husband to engage her will prolong and escalate the conflict. Sometimes his silence can lead to a panic reaction in his wife. She may try to get him to talk by raising her voice or goading him with insults. unfortunately, he usually responds to her attempts to drive him out of his silence by retreating further into his cave.
Just as it's important to have an emergency plan in your home in case of fire, earthquake, or other natural disaster, it's essential that you set up a "Marital Emergency Plan" for addressing and managing conflict. This doesn't mean that you will eliminate pesky arguments; it just means you have created a way to deal with them, which you both agree on, before they begin.
If you are a wife wondering what you can do to help the situation, here are a few ideas, especially if you are dealing with his silent behavior:
• When he comes around, act as if everything is all right between you. I don't mean that you should pretend there is no problem. I mean simply greet him as if he is not doing the silent treatment. Talk to him in a normal tone of voice about normal, everyday things.
• Don't address the conflict while he is still "in his cave." Give him time to deal with it in his own head. Meanwhile, resist the temptation to talk him out of his feelings. Go about your normal routine or take time to pamper yourself. Caution: this does not mean going on an expensive shopping spree that will lead to more conflict later.
• When he does decide he has worked out the conflict in his own timeframe, refrain from saying sarcastic things like, "It's about time you stopped pouting," or "I wondered when you'd finally get over yourself." That is, unless you want to continue the conflict or create yet another one.
Give him a break when he is dealing with stuff that stresses him out. John Gottman, PhD, is the author of Why Marriage Succeed or Fail. His 20 years of research with couples reveals that men quickly get overloaded physiologically when dealing with conflict with their wives.
They need to mull it over in their own heads so they can calm themselves. Give your husband the time to do this while you take care of yourself and see if the "cave time" is reduced as a result.
Dr. Gottman also discovered that during stressful situations, women are able to calm themselves quicker than men. These gender differences in our abilities to handle stress are genetic, having evolved over thousands of years.
A man gets over stimulated quickly when in conflict with his wife. His blood pressure goes up, his heart beats faster, his adrenalin starts pumping, and his muscles get tense. His body goes into "fight or flight" mode.
That's why often he will either yell or retreat. The usual chain of events is that he yells, she feels attacked, he gets defensive and she attacks back. Or he leaves and she feels abandoned, so she nurses her hurt and gets angrier. By the time he returns, she lets him have it and the conflict escalates.
Now, this information is for both husbands and wives, since you have both experienced these behaviors. Help each other de-escalate by realizing that your spouse is panicking. Stop feeding the fire and simply listen while your spouse pours out the feelings. Yes, it sounds angry. Remember that very often anger is a mask for fear.
Your spouse may say things that are really painful to hear. If you can remain calm and refuse to give into the temptation to counterattack, you may find that the situation calms down quicker.
If you are a husband, here are some ideas that may help you get that time alone so you can reassess and de-escalate the situation:
• When you are in a good, conflict-free state, let your wife know that you want to be alone when you are dealing with stress. If your mind shuts down during a conflict with her, let her know that you want to take some time out to avoid saying things you'll regret later.
• Let your wife know that she will get much better results if she gives you your space first. Most likely, she needs some reassurance that you are there for her. This is hard to do when she is very angry. If you can practice telling her you are there for her and you need your "unwind time," it will get easier.
• Time out: Boxers get a time out every 3 minutes. Why should your arguments go on for days without a break? This is a modified "boxer" technique called the "Time Out." It's a method for avoiding unhealthy escalation of arguments. Either party can ask for a time out. Explain this in advance when you are both calm. Both of you do the following steps once either of you calls for a time out:
... Take an hour alone to wind down, think about the problem, and come up with how you can be a part of the solution.
... During this hour break, remain around the house and do some sort of physical activity to reduce the built up tension (housework, exercise, yard work, walk around the block, hammer something, etc.).
... Since a lot of women fear being left, especially during an argument, do not leave; just leave the room you both occupy.
... No alcohol during this time. Drink a calming tea if you would like. Drinking plain water can also be calming.
... Once the hour is up and you have both had some time to unwind and think, come back together. Hopefully, you have both thought about what you can do to help the situation.
... If things get heated once again, it's perfectly acceptable to take another time out.
... It's all right to take a break until the next day to address the situation again with a clearer head.
Working with a relationship coach to develop a Marital Emergency Plan is a great way for you to gain some healthy strategies for reducing the number and intensity of those inevitable marital conflicts.
Copyright ©2009 by Michelle E. Vásquez. All Rights Reserved for all media.
Michelle E. Vásquez, MS, LPC, is an RCI Relationship Coach who helps singles and couples attract the life they want and create the relationships that bring them joy. She specializes in working with couples who are experiencing relationship difficulties as well as with singles who want to find the love of their life. Bilingual, English and Spanish speaking. www.trueloveafter40.com 714.717.5744
Relationship Books for Couples
This month we asked our coaches to contribute their favorite books on relationships. Consider visiting your library or local bookstore to find one that's right for you. These books can offer helpful insights, tips and techniques for bringing more peace, joy, and connectiveness into your relationship.
Michelle Vásquez | www.trueloveafter40.com
Getting Together and Staying Together by William Glasser, MD
Dr. Glasser explains his Choice Theory and how understanding and applying its principles can improve your self-control, help you stop trying to control your partner, and allow you to live a happy, successful life together.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, PhD
Dr. Gottman's work is the result of over 20 years of scientific research with couples in what he calls his "Love Lab." I love this book because it is full of questionnaires and exercises couples can use to enhance their marriage.
Divorce Busting by Michelle Weiner-Davis
This is a wonderful book that helps you to focus on solutions to save your marriage. It is practically written and I recommend it even before couples are in a crisis, since the techniques are so valuable for problem solving.
Laura Moorman | www.relationshipawakenings.com
The New Rules of Marriage: What you need to make love work by Terrence Real
Terry gives an understanding, witty, helpful way to end our non-relational behaviors and teaches new skills for today's relationships.
Paula Martin | www.MartinMaximumMediation.com
Love Is A Decision! By Gary Smalley with John Trent
An awesome book to help men and women understand one another and keep their marriages vibrant!
Jo-Ann and Chuck Bird | www.TheLoveBirds4u.com
Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson
We love this book because it helps guide couples through difficult conversations that ultimately lead to more emotional connection. It also discusses the importance of having a secure bond with your partner.
Bill Paglia-Scheff | www.extraordinaryrelationship.blogspot.com
Getting The Love You Want by Harville Hendricks
This book offers real life, on the court insight and exercises that can take a couple into a conscious relationship. Practicing the exercises also offers the couple an opportunity to see each other as the ones they fell in love with again and to move away from the agony story they may have been living in.
Randy Hurlburt | www.partnersinloveandcrime.com
The Love Test by Harold Bessell, Ph.D.
The questionnaires in this book guide you to an understanding of your relationship and how it functions (or doesn't function). Bessell's "Ten Commandments for an Emotionally Mature Relationship" and his "63 Ways to Build Maturity" contain really helpful tips for couples.
Neurosis and Human Growth by Karen Horney, M.D.
Though not specifically designed for "couples," this is the single best book about personal growth that I have ever read. If you really want to understand your partner, you must read this book; not easy to read, but worth every minute!
Jeannine Lee | www.jeanninelee.com
The Two Step: The Dance Toward Intimacy by Eileen McCann
Good relationships have a healthy balance of togetherness and separateness. This book (literally) illustrates this dance with poignant text and playful cartoons. Some of which are adult in nature.
Lori Rubenstein | www.coachforpassionateliving.com
Mars and Venus in the Bedroom by John Gray
The second most common reason couples break up is over sex issues. This book is especially fun to LISTEN to as a couple, you'll find yourself laughing hysterically while learning!
Money Harmony by Olivia Mellan
The number one reason couples break up is over money. This book helps you deal with your money differences up front, so you understand and know what to expect from each other.
RCI has made available 35 recordings of presentations by many of the above noted authors, as well as other leading relationship experts. To access these recording from our '2009 Conscious Relationship Summit' go to:
For More Information
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Tara Kachaturoff | Editor, PartnersInLife.org Couples News Tara@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com
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