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June 2012

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David Steele
Relationship Coaching Institute

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Tara Kachaturoff
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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:
Best Friends Forever? We hope so!

"How can we recapture that joy and excitement we thought would never end?"

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,

We've been married 13 years and have three kids. We first met in college and became best friends. After a couple years of pursuing our careers in different cities (still keeping in touch), we met again, fell in love and got married. As friends, things were so carefree, fun and non-confrontational. We could just talk, enjoy each other's company and the conversation would never degrade into arguments, problem-solving sessions or discussions about things to add to the family To Do List.

A relationship with a friend is different from a relationship with your spouse. We all know that. We were best friends before and, somehow, that has been lost over the years. We want to be happily married and best friends. It seems hard to do the latter. Do you have any advice on how we can be best friends again? How can we recapture that joy and excitement we thought would never end?

Andrew and Chelsea

Jianny responds ...

In marriage, we forgo certain freedoms in return for living and sharing our life with our best friend. Before marriage the friendship tends to be carefree as you each have separate lives. Entering into a union of marriage starts the journey of becoming one.

We bring along expectations, desires, goals, and dreams which, many times, turn into demands on our partner. These create pressure on the relationship, robbing you of the carefree giving and receiving rhythm of love.

Here's a recipe for a carefree, BFF (best friend forever) relationship:

1. As individuals, list your expectations, desires, goals and dreams
2. Come together as a couple and share the lists
3. Notice things in common and what might be complementary
4. Agree to support each other on things which are not complementary
5. Spend 1 hour a week as a couple doing fun or relaxing things
6. Spend 1 hour a week as a family doing fun activities with the children

Real life happens while on the journey to becoming one. You get rooted and your love deepens. Although marriage requires some work, it's not all work and no play. Self-awareness and collaboration, mixed with fun and play, is integral to carefree, BFF relationships.

Jianny Adamo | | 1.954.495.4566

Cathy responds ...

I celebrate you for recognizing how important friendship is to the health of your marriage and relationship. As you remember what you enjoyed about being best friends and acknowledge the challenges you've encountered (that most married couples face), the question is how to combine them both to best support you.

First, take an inventory of what you loved about being best friends. How did you express yourself? How did you listen and respond? How did you support each other?

Next, take a look at where you are now in relation to these answers. Are you still speaking in caring ways? Are you listening to what truly matters to your partner? Are you supporting each other with care and to the best of your ability?

Finally, when challenges arise, take time to see what's important to you before opening your mouth. How do you want to be heard? When you are listening, do your best to understand what's important to your partner and reflect that back. Once you both have been heard, be creative and open to designing a solution that lets you know you both matter. Once you start doing this, the joy and excitement will start flooding back in. Best friends and married!

Cathy Hartman | | 1.386.957.4495

Michelle responds ...

First off, I want to acknowledge you both for wanting to improve your relationship. Relationships take work but what a fulfilling journey it is when you travel it with your best friend. It comes down to getting back to the basics.

Remember how much fun you had when you were dating each other, how nothing could get in the way of you being happy and in love? You and your spouse created magic moments together; it is important to take the time to re-create these moments and create new ones along the way! These moments are the reason why you fell in love with each other.

Just like you make time for things each day, you need to set aside quality time for your spouse. If time is an issue then you need to schedule it for each other. Plan a weekly date night. Set time aside for each other when you are both fully present and make each other the priority.

Communicate with your spouse. It is important to remember that men and women communicate differently. Determine what that means for you as a couple and remember timing is everything! Have fun and enjoy the journey reconnecting with each other!

Michelle Bianco | | 1. 855.624.2626

Nina responds ...

What did you do together when you were friends (go to dinner, play games, go for walks, visit friends' homes, etc.)? You can still do those things on a smaller scale to bring back the fun things you enjoyed together. For example; you could take 20 minutes and play a quick card game on the couch after the kids are in bed (put them down 20 minutes earlier and let them complain – you're in charge).

The important thing is that you make some "us" time, alone, where you don't talk about the kids or household issues but instead discuss your vision and dreams or whatever it was that you discussed as friends together.

When you are discussing issues, start by asking what each of you wants as the outcome of the issue so that you are in agreement about WHAT you want before discussing HOW you're going to get it. It's only natural that you would go about it in different ways, however if you have a common outcome, it's easier to avoid having to be right and making the other person wrong. Friends don't do that. They listen and support each other.

Nina Potter | | 1.651.773.0732

Tara responds ...

Sometimes we forget the past as we become immersed in the present and worried about the future. The best way to bring something into being is by defining it. As they say, a problem defined is half solved. If you want a strong friendship and a great relationship, you need to do two things – define it, then do it.

What does friendship look like? How does it feel? What does it include? Define friendship by discussing it, together, in vivid detail. What are both of you imagining that you're doing, being and having while enjoying your time together? Take notes so you can reference them for ideas, feelings, emotions and things that relate to what you used to have in your earlier years.

The next step is to make the decision and start acting out the authentic heart-inspired script you both created together. It might feel a bit awkward as you break away from well-worn ways of how you're currently interacting. However, like anything else, with focus, practice and strong desire, I'm sure you'll find your way to rekindle and reconnect with the the glorious thoughts, feelings and actions that made you the best friends you've really always been.

Tara Kachaturoff |

Feature Article:
How to Keep the Connection

by Marianne Oheser

The foundation of a strong love relationship is having a positive emotional connection. That means being able to give and receive emotional support. Research has shown that having close ties with others is vital to all aspects of our health – mental, emotional, and physical. When the connection is lost we feel anger, sadness, hurt, or fear. So how is emotional connection built and maintained?

Fulfilling relationships don't just magically appear on your doorstep fully formed. They are built one interaction at a time. Dr. Sue Johnson, author of Hold Me Tight, says that to build and sustain a secure bond we need to tune into our loved one by creating "moments of engagement and connection." These don't have to be big events like a special trip. It is in the little everyday things that you feel that your partner is connected to you in a meaningful way. There are lots of ways to do that.

Putting your spouse first on your priority list. Not too long ago I was talking to a prominent doctor in town. He told me about a time a few years ago when his marriage had some real challenges. His wife was the president of a local organization and she devoted a lot of time to it. He said he just didn't feel as if he was important to her. He understood why she needed to spend so much time and totally supported her in her position. She was just not making any room for him in her day. Fortunately, he was able to express how he was feeling and she responded in a way that made him feel that he mattered.

"Mattering" is the need to feel noticed, appreciated and depended on. It is important to believe that we count in others' lives and we make a difference to them.

Daily rituals. One very effective ritual is to spend at least 10 minutes a day focused on one another – with no TV or other distractions. I recently worked with a couple who fought incessantly. As we talked, it became very clear that they didn't spend time talking to each other about anything except TV and the things they argued about. They agreed that every evening after dinner they would turn off the TV and spend 10 minutes talking about what happened in their day. Within a very short time the frequency and intensity of their arguments changed significantly.

The more you know about each other the closer you feel -- and it's not just stuff that happened in the past, it's what is going on in your partner's life today. Sharing those small things strengthens the connection.

Attitude of gratitude. Compliments go a long way, so the saying goes. Have you ever told a young waitress that she did a great job and watched her face light up? If a compliment from a stranger makes someone feel good, how much more does it mean when it comes from someone you love? And compliments boost you whether you give them or receive them.

Feeling and expressing appreciation for things your loved one does has a very positive impact on the way you both think and feel. It's another way of saying that you matter to me. Keeping a Gratitude Log is an effective way to increase your awareness of the things about your spouse that you are grateful for. Every day each of you write two or three things about the other that you are grateful for. Share them before you go to bed at night. Watch the benefits come rolling in.

Cuddling – the secret ingredient. According to a study conducted last year by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University among middle-aged and older couples, cuddling and caressing help boost couples' satisfaction in long-term relationships. We know from other research that when a couple touches each other their bodies release a powerful hormone called Oxytocin – often called the "love hormone." It makes us feel content, reduces anxiety and stress and helps us feel calm and secure around our loved one. It's true for both men and women.

Speak your partner's love language. During his 30 years as a marriage counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman heard many couples say "he/she doesn't love me" while their spouse protested that they did. He concluded that all of us speak a "love language," a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. He also discovered that, for whatever reason, we are often drawn to someone who speaks a different love language than our own.

There are five love languages and we all identify primarily with one of them: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. When you and your spouse are aware of how each of you interprets expressions of love, the communication channels open way up.

Copyright © 2012 by Marianne Oheser. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Marianne OehserMarianne Oehser is a Certified Relationship Coach for Couples and Singles. She and her husband, Bill, specialize in helping clients work through mid-life transitions such as retirement, empty-nests, single again in mid-life.

Bonus Article:
Maintaining Your Boundaries

by Shirley Vollett

Each time you neglect to ask for what you need, or to confront someone who treats you poorly, you chip away at your confidence and self-esteem.
-Cheryl Richardson

A universal challenge

One topic that comes up over and over again, with virtually ALL coaching clients and irrespective of their differences, is the subject of BOUNDARIES. At one time or another, in one setting or another, most people struggle to stand up for themselves and their boundaries.

Here are the kinds of comments that can signal a boundary challenge:

• "I find it so hard to say "no" when someone asks me to do something, even if I don't want to do it."
• "I am SO busy, I never have any time for myself."
• "I get so frustrated with how my co-worker treats me and I don't know what to do about it."
• "I hate it when my mother weighs in with her opinion about how I should raise my children."
• "It drives me crazy when my son takes my car without asking me."

We can have boundaries around our time, our bodies, our hearts, our minds, our souls and in the last example, our possessions. Increasing our skill with boundaries can yield high returns. Learning some new skills in maintaining boundaries can help you feel much less conflicted and stressed. The by-product of having strong boundaries can be increased energy, peace of mind and self-respect.

The purpose of a boundary

Thomas Leonard, a pioneer of coaching and the founder of Coach University, described boundaries as "an imaginary line of protection that you draw around you to protect your soul and what's important to you."

Your boundaries determine what others can and cannot do to you or around you. They reflect what you will and won't tolerate. Says coach Cheryl Richardson in her book Stand Up For Your Life, "A strong boundary is like an energy field or 'psychic barrier' that protects your body, mind, and spirit from harm."

Boundaries demarcate those places where WHO I AM bumps up against WHO YOU ARE. The more we can learn to identify and communicate our boundaries, the more we will be treated in a way that feels good and respectful to us. When our boundaries are honored, and when we honor the boundaries of others, we experience less conflict and increased trust and intimacy.

Boundaries are YOUR responsibility

Wouldn't life be great if we had no need for boundaries? If everyone we encountered just magically knew what was hurtful or intrusive or offensive to us -- and never did it? Thinking this way is tempting, however it's wishful thinking.

Personal boundaries arise out of who we are and everyone has a different personal reality. So your boundaries will arise from your history, your gender, your family, your culture and many other personal variables.

One person's boundaries won't be exactly the same as another's. That person who has offended you may be acting in a way that is totally appropriate to THEIR boundaries, however it may not be appropriate to YOUR boundaries. Hence the need to take responsibility for your boundaries and communicate about them!

This means paying attention to your feelings and making requests of others consistent with what you need to feel safe and thrive. This means giving up your expectation that others will read your mind and "just know" how to treat you.

First things first

There are 2 aspects to maintaining your boundaries: 1) identifying what your boundaries are and 2) communicating your boundaries to others. It's difficult to maintain a boundary if you don't know what it is! So becoming aware of and identifying your own boundaries is the first step.

Perhaps in some areas, you are clear about your boundaries and easily able to articulate and act on them. If so, great! However, often we discover a boundary only when it is violated and we experience a negative reaction to something that another person does. Feelings of anger, hurt and irritation in response to another can be powerful clues to a boundary violation.

In identifying your boundaries, it may be helpful to think about them in relation to these four dimensions of yourself:

1. Your physical well-being: These boundaries pertain to your body and physical health and may include boundaries around your time and energy. Examples: I won't sacrifice my health for my job. I decide who can touch me and how.

2. Your emotional well-being: These boundaries have to do with your feelings and what is hurtful for you emotionally. This involves protecting yourself from both intentional hurt and unintentional hurt on the part of others. Examples: People can't vent their anger on me. I won't tolerate jokes about my weight.

3. Your mental well-being: These boundaries have to do with your intellectual health and what contributes to a positive environment in which to learn and grow in understanding. Example: People may not ridicule or make fun of my ideas. People can't call me "stupid."

4. Your spiritual well-being: These boundaries relate to anything which has a negative or toxic impact on your spiritual well-being or sense of self. Example: I won't take part in bad-mouthing another person. I can't participate in something that violates my ethics.

Listen to your feelings

Is there something you've been tolerating or putting up with? Are there particular situations when you repeatedly "lose your cool" or experience stress? Feelings of upset, anger or hurt may be giving you a clue that a boundary is needed. So pay attention!

Ask yourself "What is not OK with me? What boundary of mine is not being honored?" Once you identify the source of the upset, you'll be empowered to take the next step of communicating your boundary to others. The more we learn to identify and communicate our boundaries, the greater ease we will experience in navigating our life and relationships -- and the more we will be treated in a way that feels good and respectful to us.

Invitation to action

Identify a boundary of yours: Think of a relationship in which you feel stressed, uncomfortable or irritated. Ask yourself: What behavior on the part of that person is problematic for me? What boundary of mine does it violate? Is it a physical, emotional, mental or spiritual boundary? Or more than one? Name the boundary as clearly as you can.

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

ShirleyvollettShirley Vollett BSW PCC is Life & Relationship Coach who loves to help singles avoid past mistakes, rekindle their optimism and create a game plan for finding lasting love.

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Tara Kachaturoff | Editor, Couples News

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