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June 2010

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In this issue:

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Conscious Relationship Resources

Conscious Relationship Podcast

Frankie Doiron
President & CEO
Relationship Coaching Institute

David Steele
David Steele
Relationship Coaching Institute

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Tara Kachaturoff
Editor | Partners in Life Couples News

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  Ask Our Coaches:
Who are you and what did you do
with my husband?

"What's your advice when shared values
are no longer being shared? "

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. In each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.

Dear Coaches,

John and I married 6 and 1/2 years ago -- first time marriage for both of us. We don't have children yet, although we're planning for that in the next 2 years. When we first met, we were fairly active -- going out a lot, working out at the gym, and participating on community sports teams.

Over the years, life has changed. I still enjoy exercising and keeping fit. My husband, on the other hand, has gained over 30 pounds. Being healthy and fit is important to me. Appearance is also important. I've talked to him about this, but he says that it's just not a priority with him anymore. He's somewhat concerned about his weight -- just not enough to do something about it.

There's no way I could predict that later in life his attitude and enthusiasm about fitness and appearance would change. Any thoughts on how I might inspire my husband to re-align with the values that we both once shared together? This is definitely a point of conflict between us. What should I do? What's your advice when shared values are no longer being shared? And, what does this mean to our relationship?

Jillian in Jamestown

Mari responds …

You have every right to be concerned about not only your husband's weight, but also the affect it has on his overall health, especially since you are considering having children in the next several years. Obesity and its related issues are one of the top ten medical challenges society faces today, and unfortunately, ignores. 

Keep in mind, however, that nobody gains that much weight without deeper issues involved. First, a medical exam might explain his weight gain and his apathy regarding his health. Getting him to reveal answers to these questions might provide a deeper clue as to what is going on: In what exact time frame did your husband gain the weight? What problems or issues existed during that period? How is work and his relationships there? What is his general outlook on life and his self-esteem? Has he expressed dissatisfaction over your love life?

These are just a few questions that could be helpful in assisting you to get to the root of his dilemma. Lastly, how you approach him when asking these questions is paramount. By posing these questions with a spirit of love and concern for his well-being, your hubby may feel led to confide how he feels.

Mari Lyles | 301.249.0979

Jenna responds …

My first thought is that I'm wondering if your husband has gone through any major life changes lately. Could he be depressed? If you've inquired about these changes in him without much of a response, it may be advantageous for him to talk to someone, perhaps a coach or a therapist, to help reveal the underlying issue that's causing this lack of interest.

Also, even though there's a change in a value, there's still hope for the relationship. Try to explore your feelings about the situation. Ask yourself what this change in value means to you? Do you see him differently? Do you think about him differently? In what ways? Does it change how you feel about your relationship with him? What do you still love and value about the relationship? You might also think about seeking out a couples coach. Coaching could help both of you achieve clarity and come up with solutions that are satisfactory to all involved. Good luck!

Jenna Rogers | 408.470.9743

Ann responds …

Strong relationships, and those that are sustainable, share common values. Values are the fundamental essence of who we are, and sit at our very core. Values are the basic elements of how we conduct our lives, how we make decisions, and what drive us to accomplish our life mission and purpose. Values typically do not change over time, but priorities can.

It sounds like fitness and exercise are very important to you, and are perhaps a value you possess which is not shared by your husband. When values are found to be out of alignment there are only a few things that can happen.

1. You reach a compromise or common ground 
2. You ignore the differences
3. You decide you can't ignore the differences and that compromise is not acceptable, and you walk away.

You must first try to determine why … why did your husband change his exercise habits? Why is fitness no longer a priority? Is he physically and emotionally healthy? Is he being passive aggressive toward you due to your enthusiasm toward fitness?

Carefully examine the potential reasons why – and try to have a discussion with him that focuses on your shared, common values. Try to reach an agreeable solution that both of you are comfortable with.

Additionally, I would suggest some fundamental evaluation of your requirements, needs, and wants. Perhaps you can do this as a couple, and then compare notes. A relationship coach can be very helpful in working with you to clarify and articulate exactly what you want -- as a couple. You will also uncover what is going on, and learn what changed and why.

Ann Robbins | | 954.561.4498

Feature Article:
Take Time to Align With Your Partner

by Shirley Vollett

Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.

-- Sue Patton Thoele

Our weekly meeting

Most couples juggle a myriad of tasks and commitments in any given week. Work, kids, household tasks, money, volunteer jobs, fitness, parents. My husband and I are no different.

So years ago my husband and I began the practice of having a weekly meeting. At the time, we were co-owners of a coaching business and raising two young children. There were many details to stay on top of and challenges to deal with. We found that setting aside quality time to organize, brainstorm and create our future together was not only effective; it also contributed to a real sense of shared partnership - even when our daily tasks looked very different.

My husband, who has a business background, referred to these as our "Vollett Family Inc." meetings. "Vollett Family Inc." encompassed the whole of our lives - the business, the family, our home and our dreams - and all of the responsibilities that went with those. Our meeting agendas included everything from marketing strategies to toilet-training to planning vacations.

We have discovered these benefits to a weekly meeting:

• We are able to give each other quality listening and support, as we're not trying to problem solve or discuss important things on-the-fly.

• We put some boundaries around our discussion of work, so that it's less likely to spill over into our romantic and private time.

• We feel like creative partners - in work and in family life - even if we do different tasks and take different roles in those areas.

• We are better able to maintain the balance between work and family and individual needs - and support each other in the process.

When we neglect to have this weekly meeting, we notice we feel less organized, aligned and connected with each other. The irritability factor goes up accordingly. When we meet regularly, we feel the benefits of being creative partners in our lives -- and the excitement, closeness and empowerment that goes with that.

If this idea appeals to you, here's how you and your partner can get started with your own weekly meeting. Set aside a minimum of one hour and put it into your schedules. Pick a time during the week that works best for each of you and be willing to have some flexibility as needed.

Here is an overview of the meeting format that works well for us:

1. Check-in

Each partner takes a turn to share on these questions:

• What have been your "wins" this week? (What has gone well? What do you feel good about?)
• What are your current challenges?

During the check-in, there are no interruptions, questions, or discussion. Each partner shares until they feel done. The other partner simply listens and "gets" them.

2. Create an agenda

What needs to be discussed? Make a list with suggestions from each partner. Some agenda items will arise from the challenges which are expressed in the check-in. Your agenda may include individual business/work concerns, joint business concerns, family/child issues, financial decisions or planning, relationship time (planning dates, get-aways, etc.) - anything you want to collaborate on or discuss.

3. Review agenda items and discuss as needed

After discussion, decide on actions to be taken and who'll do what.

4. Scheduling

Look at your schedules for the coming week and make sure you're informed of commitments that could affect the other. This is a good time to allocate responsibility for commitments related to the kids and to plan social and work activities. In other words, "Who's doing what?"

When the agenda is complete, you'll both feel empowered to get on with what is on your plate for the upcoming week.

Problem prevention

Your roles will continue to change and evolve as your work and your family grows and changes. When you establish this regular forum, problems and concerns have a place to be aired and dealt with BEFORE they become major issues. This will help your organization and your marriage.

A weekly meeting is one of the ways that you can consciously align your lives, your work, your family and your relationship -- and manage your many and varied responsibilities in the process. It can also be a source of nurturance and fun!

Invitation to action

Experiment with trying out a weekly meeting with your partner. Try it for a month and evaluate the difference it has made. If you feel the benefit, you can make it a regular part of your relationship care.

Copyright © 2010 by Shirley Vollett. All rights reserved in all media.

Shirley Vollett, BSW PCC is a Life and Relationship Coach, with over 20 years of combined experience in counseling and coaching. She delights in helping pro-active individuals make positive changes in their lives, their work/business and their relationships.

Bonus Article:
Change Yourself, Improve Marriage:
Three Tips to Get You Started

by Michelle E. Vásquez

The hardest person to change is also the only one you really can change: yourself. So many people give lip service to this truth and continue doing what they have been doing, which is trying to fix the ones they love. It hasn't worked up until now, so they try harder. Here's something to consider: if you change what you're doing, you really can influence people to change. Ultimately, however, it all comes back to you.

What are you doing to try to make your spouse change? Do you nag or criticize? Do you withhold affection? Give the silent treatment? Yell or blame? Has any of this worked for you? Probably. The more important question, however, is whether these negative tactics have resulted in a closer, more loving relationship.

Remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and in the same way, expecting different results. Ready to do something else? Great! Here are three ideas for you to try out.

1. Change your focus. Instead of thinking about what you don't like that your spouse does, decide that just for today, you will concentrate on what you do like about your spouse's behavior. Keep a list of all the things you can think of and keep the list with you to add to it all day. An advanced step: do it again tomorrow.

2. Catch your spouse doing something right. It works on children and animals. Why shouldn't positive reinforcement work on adults? Rather than yelling, nagging, or criticizing, say nothing when your spouse does something you do not want. Focus on what you do want and express your appreciation when it happens.

3. Change your mind. Are you holding onto unhelpful thoughts, such as "If I don't do it, nobody will" or "Nobody can do right, so I have to do it myself"? When you think in such an "all or nothing" way, you are painting yourself into a corner. There are many ways to do things. Your way is just one.

With these unhelpful thoughts, which you have surely spoken out loud many times, you have trained your spouse NOT to do those things that s/he cannot do well enough according to your standards. Let it go and see what happens.

Copyright ©2010 by Michelle E. Vásquez. All Rights Reserved for all media.

Michelle Vasquez 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. 714.717.5744

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