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Copyright 2010 by Relationship Coaching Institute All rights reserved.
Conscious Dating: Finding the Love of Your Life in Today's World
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Welcome! This newsletter is designed especially for YOU if:
- You have met someone and are wondering if s/he is the "Love of Your Life"
- You are about to get married and want to co-create a fulfilling life partnership
- You have a good relationship and want to make it great
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Program Starts March 15th
If you are a helping professional who wants to add relationship coaching to your practice, or are an aspiring coach who wants to work in this exciting field, our next relationship coach training program begins on Monday, March 15, 2010.
If you are interested in learning more about relationship coach training with RCI, we invite you to attend our free tele-training call on Wednesday, April 14th.
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Ask Our Coaches:
Living Together: Is it a mistake?
"Is it a good idea to 'test drive' a relationship...?"
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 boyfriend and I have been together for about a year and a half. We're both in our late twenties. We've talked about marriage, however it's not on our top 10 list right now and neither of us is quite ready for that.
We each have separate living arrangements. He owns a home and I live in an apartment. We live about 10 miles apart. We've been talking about living together. It would definitely be easier and would save a lot of time and money. Also, it would probably give us some idea as to how it might work out if we got married later. Before I make any decisions to move forward with this, I would like to get some advice – pros and cons. Is it a good idea to "test drive" a relationship like this? I think my biggest concerns are the "cons" – why you might think this would be a bad idea. Any thoughts?
Erin in Englewood
Randy responds …
My general rule is "begin living together when you are within 6 months of getting engaged, and get engaged when you are within 6 months of getting married."
Living together before you are ready to get engaged and married does three things that are bad. First, living together creates all sorts of problems such as dirty socks, financial issues, feeling trapped, taking each other for granted, etc., any one of which can break up a relationship that is not yet up to the task. Second, once you are living together, there is little additional benefit for the man to get married. Third, when you are living together it is very difficult to "un-live" together if things aren't working well.
You have only been dating for 1 1/2 years. This is not long enough to have sorted out all the things that you will need to sort out before entertaining thoughts of marriage. Work on problem-solving skills together and spend increasing time overnight with each other, but hold off on moving in until you are sure this relationship is going to last. The final 6 months' "test drive" should be just a ripple in the stream, not a major decision.
Randy Hurlburt | www.partnersinloveandcrime.com | 858.455.0799
Liz responds …
The desire to spend money wisely is on most people's agenda now. I applaud you for wanting to save money and for seeking advice on this very important issue.
Living together would take your relationship to a new level of exploration. This would give you some idea of how the two of you would function as a couple. In the event that the two of you are successful in the arrangement, I wouldn't use this information as a green light that the marriage will function in the same fashion. Things can and sometimes do change after the wedding.
There is actually new research that suggests living together before marriage could increase your chances of divorce. I would suggest taking a close look at your motivation for wanting to live together. Explore all the pros and cons. Be very clear on your level of commitment to each other and what the word really means to you. If you decide to live together, -- be aware that you will be engaging in many of the dynamics of a committed relationship. This is a decision that you should make only after you've carefully addressed your needs, wants, values and requirements around commitment.
Liz Reed | www.justbelievecoaching.com | 817.992.0150
Bill responds …
Personally, I do not think that living together is a bad idea prior to marriage. However, I do believe that you should have an arrangement in place to assist you both with this transition and to increase the likelihood for your success with this level of commitment and beyond.
I hear that this is possibly the person that you eventually want to marry and spend your life with and that this is a "test run" toward that prospect. You're obviously wise to request and consider advice from others prior to making this move. Do yourselves the favor of finding a coach that can work with both of you, together, to develop a success strategy right now, at this stage, prior to moving in together. The exploration between you both and your coach will allow you the opportunity to construct a solid foundation upon which you can build a most intimate, life long, love affair.
Bill Paglia-Scheff | www.extraordinaryrelationship.blogspot.com | 860.209.9254
Murray responds …
The common reasons for a couple to choose to live together are usually related to convenience, saving money and "test-driving" a relationship. These seem like sensible reasons. However studies also show that a high majority of couples that live together before marriage eventually break up or get divorced after marriage. There are lots of understandable reasons for this trend.
I would like to address what would help make this decision work. First, consider whether a desirable outcome is ultimately marriage or a decision to create a life together. Developing clarity on your relationship goals is very important despite your readiness. Without this, one problem that can occur through living together is the ease of creating non-growth oriented relationship behavioral patterns that require change when the decision to marry comes into play.
The issue in making this decision work is how you decide to set up the relationship and your shared understanding prior to moving in. Ask yourselves the questions, "Is this part of a step toward marriage?" "How So?" "How else are you defining the move outside of convenience and saving money?" "How do you want the relationship to be?" These questions and many others may determine the ultimate success of your agreement.
Murray Dabby | www.atlantarelationshipcoach.com | 404.633.3282
Jerald responds …
For a clue, look to your self-talk. Conventional advice is contradictory. Logic asks rhetorically, "What better way to get to know your partner?" Whereas, conventional research (1987) warns, "Cohabitation increases relationship failure rate by 80%."
However, new research (2008) by Cornell sociologist Daniel Lichter concludes couples who have already decided to marry did not have the increased divorced rate. Furthermore, the divorce rate was 28% lower if this was the woman's first cohabiting experience.
Having a rock-solid commitment to marriage appears to be the key. Your story suggests you are not quite there yet. You can verify this by looking at your self talk. When alone and contemplative, do you ask yourself, "Is he really the one? Is this the man I want to spend the rest of my life with?" Or do you ask, "What can I do to make this relationship work?"
If you or he is asking, "Is s/he really the one?" perhaps cohabitation should wait. A relationship coach could help you determine whether your requirements and needs will be met in your relationship. If you both are asking, "What can I do to make our marriage work?" then moving in together might be a good thing.
Jerald Young, Ph.D. | www.SmoothDivorceRecovery.com | 917.865.2710
Infidelity: What it is and how to deal with it
RCI Coach Ann Robbins has experienced the trauma and devastation of infidelity first hand. Although her marriage did not survive it, she learned how to use her experiences to help others. Today, Ann is happily remarried.
Tara Kachaturoff: Infidelity is a common topic in the news -- usually making headlines because of its association with celebrities. However, this isn't just a problem for the rich and famous, but instead is something that has touched and will touch the lives of many men and women. How common do you think this is?
Ann Robbins: Recently we've seen what feels like an epidemic of infidelity in the news. Many high profile celebrities and politicians are making headlines due to their marital sidebar shenanigans -- everyone from the former governor of New York to golf's golden legend.
Americans hold marriage as sacred, and along with that is supposed to come fidelity. When the marriage vows are discarded and infidelity occurs, it cuts into our value system in a devastating way. Research studies done in the 1990s tell us that as much as 50% of both men and women cheat – however more recent studies, such as clinical studies and others done into the year 2000 suggest much lower numbers.
It is not clear if we can rely on these statistics. Some studies done in complete privacy with assured anonymity suggest the 50% number is more accurate whereas other studies, done where privacy is not assured, indicate a lower percentage. Regardless, we know infidelity is occurring at a rate that doesn't seem to be slowing down. And according to US News & World Report, a full 99% of Americans expect their spouse to be faithful. And the majority of Americans (80%) say infidelity is "always wrong."
Tara: Why do men and women have affairs?
Ann: There is no single reason why men and women have affairs. Most people who engage in extramarital affairs are either drawn to something, or they're trying to get away from something. Typically, there are a myriad of reasons, and some of the reasons can stem from psychological roots that go back to childhood. Being raised in a household where infidelity was present, attitudes toward the opposite sex, relationship with parents – all these things can contribute.
Often the reasons behind the affairs are sex, entitlement, lust, ego, boredom, loneliness, need for validation, need to feel desirable or knowing "I've still got it." Some people are drawn to risk, excitement and the curiosity. Others are power seekers, with a feeling the rules don't apply to them. Still others are trying to escape a painful or emotionally dead relationship. And we've seen how Hollywood places glamour and romance on affairs.
Bottom line – there is no one reason, but one of the most common reasons is, "My partner just doesn't listen. My lover does."
Tara: Are there any early warning signs or red flags that you might be dating, committed, or married to someone who would be more inclined to have an affair?
Ann: One of the best ways to determine if you're with someone who is inclined to have an affair is to examine their relationship history and patterns. History does tend to repeat itself, and your current relationship may be no exception.
Learn as much as you can about your date/mate's history by asking questions, evaluating the answers, and by having an open and frank discussion about your relationship requirements ahead of time. It is always best to have the infidelity discussion when there is no reason to – other than to learn your partner's attitudes and beliefs.
If you're already in a committed relationship, the number one red flag is a change in physical appearance. Is your partner suddenly getting a makeover? Are they more concerned about their physical appearance than before? Are they spending time and money on things like a personal trainer, new clothes, or a new hair style? This is a tip off that they're trying something new.
Another red flag, and an obvious one, is the "something has changed and I don't know what it is" feeling. Your partner may be emotionally disconnected from you, or be overcompensating to lower the risk of suspicion. Changes in day-to-day behavior, the quantity and quality of your sexual relationship, schedule, work habits and hours – all these are clues. And finally, there's technology. Is your partner suddenly overly attached to their computer or cell phone?
Tara: If you suspect your lover or spouse of having an affair, what should you do?
Ann: Most people begin in denial and move quickly to snooping. This is agonizing and destructive because if you do catch your partner, it's enormously painful and devastating to say the least. And if you don't catch them, you continue with suspicion and emotional turmoil.
The best way to find out is to ask. Many will argue, "Well if he/she is cheating, they're comfortable lying to me – so why would they tell me the truth if I ask?" Surprisingly, it helps. It at least begins the dialogue, and if your partner is cheating, he or she will know you're onto something. If they deny it, watch for changes in behavior once you've asked the question. Ultimately you will learn the truth if you ask, pay attention, and look for clues.
If you learn they're not cheating, hopefully your suspicion has created dialogue that helps your partner understand why you felt you were seeing warning signs and he/she can work with you to resolve the disconnect. And, hopefully you haven't been snooping because now your partner will have trust issues of their own.
Tara: Can relationships really survive an affair? If so, how? How do you rebuild trust?
Ann: Relationships can survive an affair, but it's a long, uphill climb. Finding and rebuilding the trust that has been lost is number one. For many, once that trust is broken it cannot be restored. A client of mine referred to it this way, "It's like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube – it simply isn't going to happen." It takes time, patience, and a willingness of both parties to move on and work toward restoration.
As a couple, you must first decide if you want to survive the affair. Is what you have together worth saving? If so, you have to save it together.
For the cheating partner, acknowledgement and accountability along with sincere promise of love, fidelity and a willingness to seek counseling, therapy, or coaching is required. Is he/she taking responsibility for the affair? If so, there's hope. If the cheating partner is placing blame, justifying their actions, or acting like it's no big deal, there may be so much toothpaste all over the counter that the tube is empty.
For the cheated partner, although it's very difficult, they must try to be open, understanding, and rid themselves of negativity. Shock, anger, sadness and depression are all common reactions. Although it's very difficult to do, forgiveness is important, but forgiveness may never occur. Understanding the "why" usually comes first, but the big question of "how could he/she do this to me" often lingers. Going it alone can be a recipe for disaster. Couples coaching or even therapy is often needed.
Tara: Is there anything couples can do to affair-proof their relationship?
Ann: As a coach, I see a wide variety of relationships. What I've noted is that the best relationships are truly partnerships. They are built on mutual respect, understanding, and a willingness to openly communicate and share responsibility for the relationship. Neither party is entitled. Neither party is solely responsible for the relationship. It is up to the partnership.
Couples who "get it" usually actively work at keeping the relationship strong. They keep romance alive, plan time together, and avoid the things they know cause their partner stress or unhappiness. Little things like planning a date night at least once a week can make a big difference. It keeps the connection going.
Additionally, learning how to negotiate differences is key. You will have times you disagree, or don't like what your partner is doing. Learn how to express your feelings while being open to listening to your partner. And fight fair. Remember, you have one mouth and two ears, and this is the proportion to which you should use them.
Often, affairs are pursued due to the excitement or stimulation the affair provides. So be sure your relationship doesn't go stale. Keep it exciting and stimulating. Look for ways to learn and grow together. Try something new, join a club together, or take those couples dancing lessons you're always talking about.
Bottom line: no relationship is affair proof. But the best relationships are founded on partnerships. Nurture your relationship as you would a precious child. Allow it to grow and evolve, and treat it with kindness, love and respect. Learn how to communicate. And listen.
Copyright ©2010 by Ann Robbins. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.
Ann Robbins is founder and president of "LifeWorks Matchmaking", a professional matchmaking and relationship coaching firm. She is a Certified Professional Matchmaker, a member of the Professional Matchmaking Network through the Matchmaking Institute of New York and a professional Relationship Coach through the Relationship Coaching Institute. 954.561.4498 www.lifeworksmatchmaking.com
Loving Relationships Heal Hurts:
Heal Your Past in Your Present
by Michelle E. Vásquez
A loving relationship can go a long way to heal the hurts of the past. You trust each other enough to be vulnerable instead of defensive. You are able to explore past hurts and let them go. You can grow together as you co-create the relationship of your dreams.
You can allow yourself to be vulnerable
When you are able to trust the one you're with, you can allow yourself to be vulnerable and let down your guard. You understand that your partner is not going to repeat the hurts of the past, at least not intentionally. You can begin to redefine yourself with your partner and let go of previous pain. It may be scary to be this vulnerable, but it gets easier as you go along and build positive experiences together.
You can explore past hurts
With the help of someone you have chosen to trust, you can explore past hurts. Letting go of the pain of the past is never a straight path. Inside your relationship, you choose new patterns to replace the old ones that did not work for you. When you both turn toward each other with support and acceptance, you don't have to reach for defensiveness as your first reaction.
You have the opportunity to grow as a couple
What is best about this is you and your partner have an amazing opportunity to grow as a couple. You get to work together to create a happy, passionate relationship. The rewards of this are limitless and you are able to do this because you trust the one you love. You get to decide to break the negative patterns of your respective pasts and live in a way that suits the two of you best.
It's not easy to do this and often, even if couples have the best of intentions, they need outside help to create this wonderful, trusting life together. That's where relationship coaching comes in handy. You can create your vision for your relationship and set your goals for living the life you've dreamed of with the one you love.
Copyright ©2010 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.trueloverelationshipcoaching.com and www.facilidating.com 714.717.5744
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