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July 2012

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Frankie Doiron
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David Steele
Relationship Coaching Institute

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Tara Kachaturoff
Editor | Partners in Life Couples News

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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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  Ask Our Coaches:
When discussions turn into arguments:
What's the solution?

"Time after time, little disagreements end up escalating into bigger arguments...."

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,

My husband and I have been married for 4 years. We've had our ups and downs and lately things have become increasingly stressful. Time after time, little disagreements end up escalating into bigger arguments that can include bitter criticism, bringing up past issues and put downs.

It seems that both of us really lose our perspective around what's important and what isn't. We've even had huge arguments about leaving dirty dishes in the sink (that one is my fault; however it shouldn't escalate into a battle!). We're both at fault when it comes to starting arguments.

What are some tips for making our conversations more conflict free? How can we discuss things instead of taking things to the next level which causes more hurt and damage to each other and our relationship?


Denise responds ...

Ninety percent of conflicts are unmet needs from the past surfacing. Only ten percent of arguments are actually tied in to the present. Behind every heated argument is typically an unmet need that has not been satisfied. We actually use our intimate relationships to complete unresolved childhood issues. When an emotional charge does not parallel the situation at hand, it's a signal that an unmet need has surfaced.

Take a situation that has angered you. Remember all relationships are about our reactions, our responses, and our interpretations to other people. Without making yourself wrong, without making the other person wrong, removing any judgment, just simply observe as an outsider. What is happening for you in response to your partner's actions or inactions?

Do you see any commonalities with how you related to your parents in getting your needs met? Is your anger surfacing for someone else and you have projected it onto your partner? Notice the ways that you are trying to get your needs met.

Communicate by saying "I need…" and not "You don't…." This simple exercise removes the focus from blaming your partner, which is highly explosive to a relationship, to focusing back to the source of the problem.

Denise Wade Ph.D. | | 1.610.639.6627

Jackie responds ...

Conflict is inevitable and a normal part of marriage. Healthy conflict leads to positive changes; negative conflict can be very destructive. Minor disagreements get out of hand very quickly or simple conversations suddenly turn into shouting matches because your fear of being invalidated, ridiculed, criticized or judged gets triggered.

It takes common sense, patience and practice to effectively resolve conflict. If you remember that conflict is normal, you can learn to constructively resolve problems; unless one or both of you is holding on to past hurts, affronts or disappointments. Then, managing conflict is an entirely different proposition.

That said, there are strategies for resolution that DO work. Here are six tips:

1. Clearly describe the issue(s)
2. Stay neutral, calm and grounded; don't get involved in the emotion of the issue(s)
3. Don't worry that you won't be heard
4. Re-state your understanding of what you heard in a non-judgmental way
5. Listen responsively and attentively
6. Avoid giving advice, sharing your feelings, analyzing or explaining anything

Managing conflict is an essential relationship success skill! Remember, hiring a Relationship Coach can be very valuable to help you insure the success of your marriage. I wish you the best!

Dr. Jackie Black |

Lori responds ...

When we love someone, but are arguing over silly things, it usually means we are feeling hurt or unloved. One of the things I would encourage both of you to do is to honestly ask yourself, did the other person do something that led you to feeling unloved or unappreciated? It might not even make logical sense, but just remember if something happened recently.

What I find is that if we do not express our hurts at the time they happen, resentment grows. When the past is continually brought up it is because it was not adequately resolved and forgiven. When resentment grows, everything becomes an issue -- even the dishes!

My advice is to have a clearing session where you speak your hurts, hear the other person, apologize for the hurt feelings, forgive each other and then have an agreement to continually speak your hurts. If you feel that you can't do this without the assistance of a third person, find someone and get into the habit and then you'll be able to do it yourself after that. Resentments are relationship killer. Don't let them build!

Lori Rubenstein | | 1.928.634.0252

Michelle responds …

Great job identifying an issue and wanting to resolve it! Relationships evolve over time and things that we once found cute and charming are now some of the things that irritate us to no end. Chances are the real issue is not the dirty dishes left in the sink (although I must admit this is also a pet peeve of mine). So what is the issue?

You and your husband need to communicate with each other. Set up some time to talk, freely and candidly, without any distraction. The key is to be fully present, listen to each other, tell him how you feel and then, in turn, allow him to do the same.

Set up some boundaries before you talk and, if you feel the conversation starts to go down the wrong path, don't be afraid to end the conversation in a calm manner. The purpose of this talk is to be constructive. Remember that in relationships things come up; the key is to address the issues instead of ignoring them.

You and your partner are on the same team. You both want to strengthen your relationship and that is one of the best gifts you could give each other!

Michelle Bianco | | 1. 855.624.2626

Nina responds ...

Conflict is part of life in relationships and how you manage it makes all the difference. You may be stuck in the control stage where you are both re-asserting your individuality and independence. This is a natural phase and if handled maturely and with personal responsibility, you will evolve to more peace once you allow and accept each other as you are.

To keep reactions from spiraling out of control, notice what the fear is that underlies your reactions. How does that fear relate to your identity? When you remember who you really are, you discover you're not upset for the reason you thought. When you take personal responsibility for getting what you want, you no longer have to get rid of your internal guilt by trying to give it away (blaming!).

When you disagree on an issue, find the common outcome you both want before discussing how you'll resolve it. Even if you don't agree on the best way to handle it, at least you agree on what it is you both really want.

You may benefit from training in Non-Violent Communications as a guide to effective and respectful interaction. It will benefit ALL of your relationships.

Nina Potter | | 1.651.773.0732

Feature Article:
Co-habiting Women: 5 Money Rules to Follow

by Dr. Dar

Money issues can be difficult to discuss even in the best of relationships. When you are living together, but not married, things can get messy if you don't know what you're doing. Instead of just letting things happen, have a plan for yourself. This article outlines five rules that every woman should live by when co-habitating.

#1 Do Keep Control of Your Money

Moving in together is not a sign that you should combine your money with joint accounts. You don't know what will happen in the future. You might think things are going to work out and that you can overcome anything together, but people learn a lot about each other when they move in that they never knew before.

Until you are living together for a significant amount of time or get married, there is no reason to combine your money. Sometimes it's easier to pay things like rent, phone bills and utilities from one account though. If you decide to go this way, set up a new account where you will both deposit your half of those items that are shared. Remember to keep records of the money that you put into the shared account in the event that your contributions are disputed at a later time.

#2 Don't Lend Your Boyfriend Money

Money issues cause enough problems between people without one partner lending the other money. If he needs to borrow money, this might be good insight into his finances. Why doesn't he have money? Does he overspend? Is he in debt? These are his issues which he needs to deal with himself. You are not responsible for his financial problems.

If you do decide to lend him the money he needs, make sure you get everything in writing; otherwise you may never get your money back. By the way, don't ask your boyfriend to lend you money either; and in the event he does extend a loan to you, get it in writing along with the payback terms.

#3 Do Have Separate Bills

Keep your credit card bills separate. If you start using one person's card for all of your shopping, arguments may occur over who bought what. Keep your personal spending on your own cards. If you go shopping for groceries together, try to use cash.

Many couples have different spending styles. One person may be frugal and enjoy saving money while the other enjoys treating themselves to lots of new and expensive toys. Living together as a couple doesn't give either partner the right to control how the other spends. You also want to make sure that you keep your credit score as good as possible.

#4 Don't Let Your Boyfriend Pay for Everything

Your boyfriend might have good intentions when offering to pay for everything because you are a couple, but it's not something you should allow. He might want to prove to you that he can support you. Let him know that he is very sweet to offer, but you'd rather pay your half of everything. You could suggest to him that he save the half he was willing to pay for you. He can save that half of the money for the future.

Unfortunately some men have a completely different idea in mind when they offer to cover a woman's half of everything. He may expect that you will take on all of the chores around the home even though you also work a full-time job. It might sound like a nice deal that leaves you with more money, but in the end you may feel less like a girlfriend and more like a housekeeper. You should discuss how you both will share in the expenses and have written agreements with each other.

#5 Do Have a Personal Financial Plan

Just because you move in with your boyfriend doesn't mean you have to give up your financial dreams. If you have started saving for retirement, you are not obligated to use that money for something else such as a vacation or the down payment on a house. Don't give into any guilt that might be thrown your way. You can start saving for something new, but never give up your old plans. If you have investments or want to start investing soon, stick with that plan.

Relationships and finances are a messy combination, but it's unavoidable. You must sit down as a couple and talk about how you will deal with finances in your relationship, at least once a month. If you can talk about these issues while you are dating and then move into together, your future together looks better.

Remember to keep love and money separate. Your finances should be discussed like business partners and not boyfriend and girlfriend. You will be unemotional and more objective by doing so.

Copyright © 2012 by Dr. Dar. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Dr. DarDr. Dar, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized Relationship Expert, Author, Speaker, and a Master RCI Licensed Relationship Coach for Singles and Couples. She coaches men and women re-entering the dating scene to find love, moving in together, pre-married, newly-married, and couples who are in crisis, conflict, or experiencing communication problems.

Bonus Article:
Are You in a Healthy Relationship?

by Denise Wade Ph.D.

How do you relate to your partner? When an unmet need, conflict, or issue arises, listen to the words and the tone you use. Listen to the words and tone your partner chooses. Notice how I use the word "chooses." You are at choice and so is your significant other. Are you controlling, aggressive and dominating? Is your partner controlling, aggressive and dominating?

Now really think about this. Do you allow your partner to control you? Does he/she allow you to control him/her? Are you soft, shrink down and become childlike or insecure? Does your partner become childlike, insecure or shrink back? Do you allow yourself to feel betrayed prematurely?

In a healthy relationship, we take personal responsibility for our own needs, for what we say and, yes, for how we feel by how we react and respond. Relationships are all about our interpretations of our partner's behavior, actions and even inactions. In an unhealthy relationship, we blame others and they blame us for unmet needs, for our own perceptions or for how we ourselves feel.

The Relationship Spectrum

At one end of the relating spectrum is victimization, which typically comes from individuals who experienced scarcity of time, attention, love, money, or physical or emotional needs in childhood. Victimization also comes from individuals who were stifled, neglected, abandoned or abused as children.

They tend to dismiss their own needs, assign their own unmet needs to their partner and consequently become angry or frustrated at their partner for failing to meet those needs. This mindset comes from years of feeling disempowered.

At the opposite end of the relationship spectrum is entitlement which typically comes from individuals who may experienced over abundance in childhood, may have been spoiled in the foundational years or were raised with an over-inflated idea of themselves as children. They tend to overindulge themselves and consequently may be insensitive or callous to their partner's needs. Either extreme ends of the relationship scale can be out of balance.

Below is a quiz to test your relationship health, fulfillment and maturity. The quiz should be filled out by your significant other. They will be more aware, honest, and objective than you will be of yourself and you will be more honest and objective of how they behave and respond to your needs. You are responsible for expressing your own emotional and physical needs. However, in a healthy relationship, your partner is responsible for how he/she responds to those needs.

Relationship Maturity Awareness

Put a check after any of the behaviors you recognize from your partner. This is not to blame, shame or criticize. This exercise is only to raise awareness. Raising awareness is the first step to cultivate change and growth or, perhaps, to evaluate if a certain relationship is the right fit for you.

1. My partner sulks, becomes angry or withdrawn when he/she doesn't get what he/she wants.
2. My partner becomes angry or critical when I have a different view of politics, religion, family or life in general than he/she has.
3. My partner becomes angry, demanding, sulks or withdraws when he/she feels ignored or neglected.
4. My partner makes a pest of his/herself with phone calls, texts, or emails to me to get my attention.
5. My partner becomes angry if I do not meet his/her needs.

6. My partner likes to control me so he/she can get me to do what he/she wants me to do.
7. My partner communicates his/her needs to me by using phrases such as "You don't", "You never", "You're suppose to", instead of "I need."
8. My partner does not make requests, but makes demands by shouting, screaming or making accusations like a child.
9. My partner does not like to take personal responsibility for his/her own words or actions if they have hurt me.
10. My partner tends to become physically or emotionally absent if we experience an issue or conflict.

11. My partner is uncomfortable with apologies, giving or receiving them.
12. My partner actually gets angry or defensive when I express my needs.
13. My partner blames others for his/her problems.
14. My partner is insecure about being alone. He/she would rather stay in an unhappy relationship.
15. My partner seeks approval and acceptance from me to gather his/her own self worth.

16. My partner lacks sensitivity when he/she hurts me.
17. My partner lacks compassion towards me when I am in emotional pain by failing to listen to me and failing to offer support.
18. My partner has been untrustworthy, unreliable, disloyal or undependable more than a few times. He/she didn't have my back.
19. My partner does not share my values, nor honor them.
20. My partner has limiting beliefs that interfere with our goals and future happiness.

Add up the checks:

1-3 checks = This is a healthy mature relationship.

4-9 checks = This relationship is in need of maturing. My partner needs to become more conscious, he/she may need to understand his/her own unmet needs, limiting beliefs and emotions.

10-13 checks = This relationship is immature. My partner may be self-centered and in need of understanding and responding to my unmet needs, values and emotions.

14-18 checks = This relationship or my partner is unhealthy at a child's level. He/she may not be mature enough or conscious enough of his limiting beliefs and unmet needs to be in an intimate relationship.

Remember, you are not responsible for how your partner acts or reacts. Nor is he/she responsible for your actions or reactions. You both are, however, responsible for how you allow your partner to treat you and how you respond to, perceive and interpret his/her behaviors.

Each person in the relationship must take ownership of their own limiting beliefs that get in the way of the partnership advancing to a healthy, mature level. You, alone, have to represent your own needs and values. Be your own advocates. You both deserve to be treated with respect, love, kindness and trust. You and your partner deserve to be heard, seen and valued.

Copyright ©2011 by Denise Wade, Ph.D. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Dr. Denise WadeDenise Wade Ph.D. is a relationship expert, co-author of Pebbles In The Pond and a researcher. Denise empowers, teaches, and inspires individuals to release emotional baggage, heal past pains and identify unhealthy relationship patterns and triggers. She is passionate about helping people create positive, loving, long lasting relationships.

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