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September 2011

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Tara Kachaturoff
Editor | Partners in Life Couples News

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  Ask Our Coaches:
Love & Money: A Dilemma

"I have broken up with him three times because of my concern regarding finances...."

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

Dear Coaches,

I need your advice. I'm in a relationship (almost a year) and I don't think I have ever felt more loved, adored and appreciated by anyone, however he has no steady income. I am in my early 50's, divorced, and not making much money.

I am concerned about my financial future. Here's the dilemma. He provides for my emotional needs, but not the realistic side: money, decent clothes, nice home etc. This sounds a bit superficial, but it is also a reality. He knows that unless his financial situation improves, he will lose me but he talks about being together forever and that I am the love of his life. He says he has been looking for work but he is a freelance photographer.

Since we met in August 2010, I have broken up with him three times because of my concern regarding finances, yet we keep getting back together as there is a strong emotional connection.

Bottom line: I have a wonderful sweet man who loves, adores, appreciates and cherishes me unconditionally. I am comfortable with him, love him, and can be myself with him. I could end up alone and poor, so perhaps I should just be thankful and grateful for what I have. I'm not "settling" -- I'm just realizing that no situation is perfect. Do I stay or do I go?


Christina responds …

It is a common expectation for the "man" to be the provider, so I understand your dilemma. In the past it even prevented women from being with the man of her heart's choice. I read that your love for each other is strong and that it is important for you to have a relationship that is built on love first. How would you feel about changing your perspective from financial dependence to financial interdependence?

What is possible if you would seize this opportunity to step into your own power? Unless he is financially dependent on you, or if you are incapacitated in one form or another, my advice would be to get "next" to your man instead of on the opposite side, and explore together how you can improve your financial situation, instead of allowing this issue to drive you apart. Who knows what creative solutions two minds can find when joining forces!

Instead of focusing on a limiting belief that there is "not enough," support each other in being at your fullest potential and attract the finances you need! Life coaching can change your mindset and empower you to create the life you want.

Christina de Jongh | |1.707.928.6884

Lori responds ...

Sometimes we get so caught up worrying about the future, we forget to enjoy what we have right now, right here, in front of us. I totally understand the need to feel secure, but something keeps bringing you back, and that something is obviously very special.

As women, we are taught to look towards men to "take care of us." Men, on the other hand, basically have to sell their souls to be the provider, and some of them, like your man, have chosen to follow their passion instead. In fact, I am willing to bet it is that passion of his that you love. At the same time, love is not enough for a long term relationship. Money is important.

What if you looked seriously at how to increase your own income, so you don't have the money fears, and then are able to step into the relationship with this man from another direction? I'm getting a strong feeling that even though you love him, you are not going to change him. Ask yourself, "If this is what it will be forever, can I love and accept him as he is, or will I always want something else?"

Lori Rubenstein | | 1.928.634.0252

Mari responds …

One of the most vibrant feelings in the world is feeling loved and appreciated by a significant other --which is enough for some people. However, your letter cries out that it's not enough for you. You stated you've broken up with this man three times over monetary concerns -- his inability to sufficiently provide for you. These concerns are legitimate for you and should be weighed against any "emotional connection" you have.

Your first decision should be to decide the greatest priority: being loved and adored by someone who appears to be well suited for you or feeling financially secure as you grow older, an unfortunate concern given today's economy. However, please consider two things: Suppose your beloved had all the money you'd ever need, but the love and the trust were not there. What feelings would you have for him then?

Secondly, try to understand that looking outside one's self for provision, emotionally or materially, causes you to rely on outside influences for happiness. In relationships -- partnerships -- there is a joining which allows mutual give and take and connectedness for the betterment of both parties. Only you can decide what is most important.

Mari Lyles

Jianny responds …

We have certain basic needs that need to be met in order for us to function. We need food, clothing and shelter. Physical safety as well as financial security are important to our well-being. Once these needs are met the next area we need met is for love and a sense of belonging which is met through our friendships, community, family, and intimacy.

Our need for love and acceptance can often overcome the physical and security needs. It sounds like that's what you are trying to figure out -- which of these needs is more important to you. The answer is both. You need both financial security as well as love. Love and security are non-negotiable -- never compromised. The man you are considering to spend the rest of your life with should know the importance of these needs if you're looking for smooth sailing in your relationship.

Talk with your boyfriend. Can you agree on a financial plan for your current situation and for your future? If you can't come to a mutually beneficial agreement then you have your answer. Fear of being alone should not compromise your well being. I wish you love, health and prosperity.

Jianny Adamo | | 1.954.495.4566

Nina responds …

If you want to leave this man because of his financial instability even though he meets all your other requirements (I'm making an assumption that he is from your description), then you have a serious unmet requirement that will eventually cause the relationship to end.

It may be that he is financially responsible with what he makes but just doesn't make enough to satisfy your need for financial security. Ask yourself if you would be willing to be with him long term if YOU were making an adequate living to support yourself so he didn't have to. If the answer is "no," then you know this requirement may never be met by him and you should move on.

If the answer is "yes" and you want this man to be your long term partner, then start opening up to the possibilities of a higher income for yourself. You can attract the man who meets ALL your requirements when you are really clear about what you want, you focus on how it will make you feel, and you take the necessary action to meet him. Feel Secure From Within.

Nina Potter | | 1.651.773.0732

Doris responds …

We connect with people who mirror many of our strengths and weaknesses back to us. Since you are saying you aren't making much money, it's not surprising you've attracted a man in a similar position.You are more likely to create a financially successful partner when you are supporting your preferred lifestyle and accepting personal responsibility for your future security.

Successful singles -- people who are living the life they want as a single person -- attract other successful singles. What would happen if, instead of breaking up with this man off and on, you two had a heart-to-heart about your joint financial needs and decided what both of you are willing to do to meet your requirements?

Explore the possibility of a combined vision for your future financial life so you can discover if your challenge is solvable or unsolvable. A relationship coach can be a critical tool for working through your current confusion.

You'll discover what money symbolizes to you. You'll explore outdated childhood messages you are unconsciously tuned into. You'll empower yourself with possibility thinking. Then you'll never settle for less than you want in the critical area of relationship with a partner.

Doris Helge, Ph.D. | | 1.360.748.4365

Feature Article:
How to Avoid Triggering an Argument

by Shirley Vollett

Remember: If you go for the jugular, you're going to draw blood. The result will be war or retreat on your partner's part, rather than any kind of meaningful, productive discussion. ~~ John Gottman

It's not HOW OFTEN but HOW you fight

Clients sometimes ask me how often it is OK to fight in their relationship. What is normal? This question can come from someone who rarely fights with their partner – or someone who fights often and loudly.

I believe some conflict is inevitable between partners – unless one partner consistently acquiesces to the other -- which I don't recommend! However according to John Gottman, a leading relationship expert, the problem isn't so much IF you argue, it's HOW you argue.

In his excellent book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Gottman points out that couples have many different styles of conflict resolution – the key is whether or not the style works for both people.

Characteristics that lead to divorce

For many years, Dr. Gottman has been studying the behavior of married couples in his "Love Lab" – an apartment in Seattle that is outfitted with cameras and recording equipment. Couples are invited to stay in this apartment and their daily interactions are filmed and then studied. (And no, they don't film in the bedroom.)

Here's what I found amazing! From watching and listening to a couple argue for as little as 5 minutes, Gottman can predict (with 91% accuracy in three studies) whether or not that couple will split up.

His predictions are based on the information he has gathered over many years of observing and analyzing how couples interact – and then following which couples stay together and which couples divorce. Gottman doesn't claim to be psychic – rather he says he has learned (through observation) the key ingredients in the marriages that last and in those that fail.

Gottman goes on to identify characteristic ways that couples argue, which are most likely to lead to divorce. These include such things as criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stone-walling (refusing to engage). All four have a corrosive effect on a relationship. However the very first sign that a conversation has gotten off on the wrong foot can be found in what Gottman calls a "harsh start-up."

Getting off on the wrong foot

The harsh start-up refers to the manner in which you initiate a conversation with your partner about something that concerns or bothers you. Embedded in a harsh start-up is a criticism or negative judgement.

Let's take this common example: Your partner frequently leaves his/her dirty clothes on the bathroom floor after showering. You are tired of picking up after him/her and you've decided it's time to say something. Imagine the reaction if you start the conversation with this harsh start-up:

"You're such a slob! I'm sick of you never picking up your dirty clothes!"

Can you visualize how negatively your partner might respond to such an opener? Now imagine if you started the conversation in a more emotionally neutral way:

"Honey, I'd like to talk about these dirty clothes on the floor."

In this second instance, the ensuing conversation would be much more likely to end well.

Here's another example of a harsh-start-up, after one partner has been kept waiting by another:

"You're always so inconsiderate – I've been waiting here for over an hour!"

In contrast, a less provocative opener might be:

"I'm exhausted with waiting… What happened?"

If one partner starts off a conversation with accusations and blame, the other partner is likely to react in kind -- and the argument is off and running. A positive resolution is unlikely to be found to any argument begun harshly. (And just in case you think it's all about the words, think again! A critical tone can turn the most innocent sounding words into an blaming accusation.)

How to avoid the "harsh start-up"

If you have a tendency to start conversations in a harsh manner, the following strategies will help:

1. Cool off before you speak.

Harsh start-up's are most likely to occur in the heat of the moment, when your partner's behavior has triggered sudden, strong emotions in you, such as anger, hurt or fear. This is the time to take a deep breath and step back from the situation. If you can't respond in a reasonable manner, then refrain until you can. In the meantime -- breathe. That will help your heart rate return to normal.

You may need time to identify your feelings and exactly what you are upset about. Not everything needs to be resolved the moment it occurs. Sometimes it can be most helpful to take some time to cool down and identify what you're feeling, before you speak.

2. Stick to "I" statements.

If you simply must say something, then stick to statements about yourself. For example:

"I'm feeling really upset!"
"Oooh, I’m so frustrated."
"Ouch, that hurts."

When something happens to upset you, it is easy to blame the other person for your upset. It is also tempting to ascribe to the other person an intention to do you harm.

Casting aspersions on the character or intent of your partner will escalate the situation and invite a defensive response. Sticking to "I" statements will give your emotions a name (thereby relieving them) and prevent you from devolving into name-calling and accusations.

3. Translate your complaint into a request.

This is the most effective strategy and most likely to bring favorable results. Rather than criticize or complain about the situation, simply make a request. Don't assume that your partner knows what bothers you – and don't punish him/her for breaking a promise which they may never have made.

Returning to our original example, you might simply ask your partner: "Honey, could you put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket after you shower?" You might be amazed at how well a direct request, minus recriminations, can actually work!

Try a kinder, gentler approach

Raise your awareness regarding HOW you initiate conversations when you have an issue or concern. By avoiding a harsh start-up, you will give the conversation a "fighting chance" of resolving well.

Invitation to action

Observe your own tendencies to use criticism or sarcasm, when you have an issue with your partner (or your child or your co-worker). Pick one of the strategies above and try it the next time you have a "beef" with someone. Notice if you get a more receptive response when you refrain from using a harsh start-up.

Copyright ©2011 by Shirley Vollett. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

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:
Together Forever: How to Maintain Connection with Your Partner through Challenging Times

by Tara Kachaturoff

Life is complex and so are our relationships. While most of us can navigate through many of the daily disagreements and problems which arise, inevitably you'll encounter some seemingly insurmountable situations which will test your mettle as well as that of your partner.

Life-Changing Challenges

These are situations that are often life-changing and can possibly involve extreme challenges to you --physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. These times may involve serious medical issues, being a victim of violent crime, or some other catastrophic event. These are the times that can leave you dazed, in shock, and wondering how something like this could ever happen to someone like you.

Few escape challenges like this in life; it's just the way things are. These sudden events, which can turn a wonderfully normal life into a nightmare in mere seconds, will not only transform you personally, but can potentially cause upheaval in all of your relationships –- with yourself, your partner, your family and friends, and even your Creator. These are the circumstances that call on you to navigate an unforeseen future in what can seem like a long, dark, and surreal never-ending journey.

While sometimes it can seem all but impossible to keep your head above water as you deal with your own personal trauma, it's also affecting your partner who may or may not be experiencing the circumstance in the same manner or degree. Even if they were also involved, each of you will process the event differently and will heal in your own individual ways and in your own time.

Connection with Others is Important

Connection with others is vital to our well-being – and all the more so during tough times. It's important to try to maintain relationships with others because they are your support system and they help you to heal faster. Sometimes you have to admit you can't do it alone and you need to call on your extended family, your friends, and possibly other helping professionals.

Early on, while you may not be able to communicate in ways you were accustomed prior to experiencing a dramatic life change, and while you may not have the energy to do so as one tends to focus inward and there might be little desire to talk at all, still there are ways you can "walk" alongside your partner --to acknowledge him or her and maintain some sort of connection. It can be healing for both of you.

Connecting with Your Partner

While seeking out professional help is top of the list, here are some ideas you may find useful if you're ever in a situation that unseats you from all you know to be true about life. These suggestions are provided to help you maintain connection with your loved one while you're trying to regain your balance, work through the details, and re-assemble your life into some sense of wholeness.

First and foremost, communicating that you need time and space to heal is important. If you can't verbalize this yourself, seek out a qualified therapist or friend to assist. Having meetings with a supportive third party present will help dissipate tension and stress and smooth communications between you and your partner.

It's important for both of you to understand that you have (or both of you have) a full plate and that your focus may be quite different for the days, weeks, and months to come. Setting the right expectations and tone keeps both of you informed and on the same page.

Communicate your needs -- for alone time, for together time, for crying, exercise, seeing a therapist, visiting with a friend or whatever you happen to need at the moment. Your home life, your routine, and many things you did before may dramatically change. All of this can add tension to an already stressful situation.

Both of you need to understand that change will be the norm for a while. And, it might also be discussed that it's okay if you don't talk, or if you talk less. This reduces the stress of feeling obligated to engage in conversations that you might not be ready for in the early days of healing. This will give you and your partner the space and the opportunity to communicate in other creative ways.

You may not be yourself for a while and that's okay. Maybe you don't want to even talk about the situation that created the chaos in your life. That's not a reason to pull away from your partner, but it may be necessary that you set up some "rules" until you can more easily and comfortably talk about what happened. Again, working with a therapist or other helping professional can help set the stage so one or both of you can heal while still maintaining a sense of supportiveness and connection between you.

Communicating in Different Ways

If you don't feel like talking all the time, try some alternatives. For example, instant messaging or texting might feel a little more comfortable. Handwriting occasional notes will also be healing as it externalizes and grounds you. Playing a board game, watching an uplifting movie together, sipping coffee or sharing some food you both enjoy while not feeling the pressure to converse can still provide you with together time. It keeps things light without taxing your mind and emotions.

Walking together, holding hands, sitting or cuddling together on the couch to listen to some music can provide a sense of closeness, reduce mental tension and provide a non-stressful way to be together.

New or different environments may be soothing as well. Visiting a nearby park, lake, ocean or other outdoor setting can instill serenity and calm while allowing you to drink up the healing vibrations of nature. Gardening can also be quite therapeutic. Digging in the rich earth, planting things and caring for something outside of yourself, together, can be quite satisfying.

Art can also be enjoyed together, drawing on other parts of your heart and mind. Sometimes visiting a museum and enjoying the silence while contemplating the beautiful works that surround you can help to pull you into the present. Engaging in some art of your own might also be helpful. Painting together, making a collage, or working on some fun household project can also be a way to enjoy connection in a creative way.

The Journey Ahead

The road to healing doesn't need to be traveled alone. While your relationship will inevitably transform as you continue your life's journey, you can still maintain your treasured relationship with your partner.

While you may find it helpful to engage in some different ways of communicating in the early days of healing, and you may need to engage help from others to do it, you may find that these experiences actually deepen your relationship, transforming it and elevating it to a new level. To your healing, connecting, and moving forward together.

Copyright © 2011 by Tara Kachaturoff. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Tara Kachaturoff is a Master Certified Coach for Singles. Since 2003, she has coached hundreds of single men and women to create better dating relationships through her onsite and teleseminar courses. Tara is also the newsletter editor for the Relationship Coaching Institute (RCI). Her personal site is

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