Real Lovers Appreciate Their Differences

“Opposites may not always attract, but differences sustain a relationship.”

John Thurman – Get a Grip on Your Relationship Workshop

Take a moment and reflect on the early days of your relationship. How did you meet? Who made the first move? What were some of the things that attracted you to each other early on?

I would guess that at least one piece of the puzzle was some of the ways that your spouse was different from you.

The difference is one of the things that initially draws us to our partners. Have you ever noticed how a talkative, engaging extrovert could be attracted to a quiet, reflective introvert? How about someone cautious being drawn to someone who is filled with confidence.[1]

And while this is the case in so many relationships, many times, these differences can become distractions down the road, those cute nuances can move from appealing to appalling. As time passes, many of these differences can cause conflict, misunderstanding, and even alienation.

You and your spouse are two different people. You have diverse families of origin, varied family experiences. You may come from an intact family or a family that was impacted by divorce, death, or trauma.

You have different tastes and a sense of style, and I am sure you may even have a different set of expectations. Based on forty-seven years of marriage and countless hours in the chair as a therapist, I know that you have different personality styles and love languages.

Let’s look at a few examples. While you review these examples, be sure to check and see if any of these sound familiar. (I am grateful to my friends Steve and Cindy Wright at Marriage Missions for their colorful insights)

Planners vs. Flexers:

Planners are the individuals who love organization and structure. If you were to look into their cupboard, things would be organized, because everything has a place. They generally prefer that life be neat and tidy. They use planners, keep lists, and can usually tell you what they will be doing a month from now.

Flexers, on the other hand, tend to be more malleable, able to adjust to the ebbs and flows of life quickly. They can sometimes see planners as being inflexible and being control freaks. Flexers tend to be more “in the moment,” flexible, and laid back. They take life as it comes. Loose ends are not deal breakers because they believe that things find a way of working themselves out. Planners may sometimes see this type of behavior as lazy and irresponsible.

This can prove to be testy, particularly when a planner and a fixer are married.

Big Picture vs. In the Weeds:

Big picture people have a general focus on the prize. They tend to think in terms of moving in a direction that accomplishes the mission. They are doers. People who are “in the weeds” are the detailers of life, and Lord knows Big Picture people need folks who love the attention to details.

Big-picture people tend to be abstract thinkers who are likely to see the entire situation. People who are more attentive to details tend to see the nuances of a given scenario. Big picture people paint a great image of what they want to accomplish. However,  without the perspective of the detailers, they will miss the rich nuances of the details of the journey. It is essential to understand that if a couple is matched like this, both perspectives are crucial.

Risk Takers vs. Risk Averse:

One author cleverly divides these two styles into leapers and lookers. Leapers get an emotional boost when they observe an opportunity. They want to grab the opportunity while it is hot. As a general rule of thumb, they come across as fearless and maybe even somewhat reckless as they seem impervious to danger. Those who are more risk-averse tend to be more observant, careful, and are risk-averse. They like to check out the facts, gather the data, analyze the data and take their time to look at multiple options before making a decision.

As a couple, the risk-taker can get bored and may seek new and unique experiences. Those who are more reserved and less likely to take risks will find much comfort in the familiar, routine, and predictable. In marriage, the leaper would be advised to seek the counsel, insight, and plans of the looker. Likewise, the looker needs to be stretched by the leaper. Which would tend to keep the relationship exciting.

Extrovert vs. Introverts:

Extroverts love the excitement and connectivity of the crowd. They are expressive and responsive and frequently are energized when they are around others. Introverts, on the opposite end of the spectrum, would rather have a quiet time either by themselves or with a few close friends. Extroverts tend to be in the moment, whereas introverts tend to be reserved, thinking through options before talking.

Authors Shaunti & Jeff Feldhanm’s books For Men Only and For Women Only are two books that I ask all of the couples that I work with to read. These two books provide the reader with dynamic truths about the differences between men and women. Here are just a few of their insights.

How different areas of insecurity can lead to variable emotional needs. 

Men always question how others view them, so they are filled up by knowing that their wife notices what they do. Saying things like “thank you” or good job” to your man in the little things of life is almost the same as you receive a dozen roses and chocolate. When you verbally express gratitude to your husband, you are making him feel competent, needed, and respected, which are his core needs.

Now to flip the coin. Women need to be reassured of their spouse’s love every day. Many times guys are stunned to learn that 82 percent of women are deeply pleased by simple things like holding her hand, shooting her a text to let her know that you love her, or that you are thinking about her.

Another huge difference is that our brains and, therefore, our communications stages are different.

Neuroscience is blazing many new trails into the understanding of how unique, different, and complex and that men and women’s brains are entirely different. One of the interesting findings is that women’s brains are wired to think things externally. That could be the main reason women like to talk. It seems, in sitting with each other and sharing, they can process solutions. Men’s brains are more structured to problem solve through internal processing, that could be one reason most men are challenged to find a “talking solution.”

How does this work itself out practically? Most of us guys need to pull away from emotional situations to figure out what we are rethinking and feeling to talk about it later.

Women generally tend to process emotions by talking. What a woman doesn’t is a quick, uninvited response or solution because that would short circuit her processing. For our wives, these intense feelings need to be processed by talking, and we as men would do well to learn how to sit with her and draw out those feelings.

Another big difference that we need to appreciate is how different men and women express themselves sexually.

Learning to appreciate different styles when it comes to intimacy in the bedroom and other places can significantly enhance a unique sense of closeness. Special Note: There is probably no other area in a marriage that can present as many opportunities for misunderstanding as those intimate moments.

Ladies, contrary to popular opinion, sex is not just a physical need that we guys have; it’s primarily an emotional one. Think about that; the idea of intimacy for men as an emotional one, an idea that has almost been erased from the map. A husband needs to know that his wife deeply desires him. This type of affirmation gives men a deep sense of well-being that gently flows into every other area of our lives.  

However, many times a husband can avoid these painful feelings by engaging his wife in ways that she needs instead of expecting a response that he thinks she should have if she desires him. Testosterone gives most men the “microwave response,” the ability to be ready in a short time. Women are designed to be more of a “crockpot.” Ladies, please don’t be offended by the term. 

To use a foodie illustration. Would you rather have microwaved soup or a slow-cooked pot roast with vegetables that have simmered all day?

Men, she needs to feel close to us outside of the bedroom, so letting her know ahead of time could help get her in the right frame of mind.

In all fairness, these are generalizations, the key is to appreciate the difference and adjust accordingly and intentionally

Learning to value and work with your differences will provide you an extreme advantage in your relationship as you choose to grow as a couple, experiencing intimacy in multiple areas.

I hope this post will help you be open to understanding the differences and celebrate them as a couple.

Want to learn a little more about personality styles as you learn to appreciate the differences

Hey, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave me a comment. I will respond.

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[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201508/6-reasons-appreciate-differences-your-partner

Shades of Grey-Shades of Love: Part 4, Cultivating Romance

Shades of Love 4: Lovers Cultivate Romance

By John Thurman

Sex Begins in the Kitchen is a fun and informative book that my friend Dr Kevin Leman wrote several years ago. His second book on marital intimacy is called Sheet Music. Both of which are still in print. I encourage couples to add these books to their reading list. Kevin has an uncanny ability to communicate in a clear and fun way about very important things. Years ago he and I shared the microphone on a national radio show called Parent Talk. It seemed that whenever he and I were on the show the topic of sexuality came up.

I mention that because physical intimacy consistently stays in the “Top 5,” concerns os marital conflict.

As you and I continue to move through Shades of Love, I want to give you some tips that will improve of physical intimacy. “Quantity” is the most frequent complaint that counselors hear. Unfortunately, couples often define their physical relationship in terms of “the count.” How often do we have it? How many times did one or the other reach orgasm? How much foreplay was there? How long did it last?”

It’s sad that we haven take the beauty of lovemaking and reduced it to numbers. Some couples make it worse by attempting to negotiate the numbers, comparing their numbers with the”average couple,” whatever that is, or agreeing to trade physical intimacy for help with cleaning the dishes.

Here are some proven tips to improve your intimacy:

1.    Add variety to your lovemaking. Some of us are too restrictive. Change the locations, times of day, or the lighting. Try some candles, new perfumes, or aftershaves. Put on some different music.

2.    Vary your routine. I did a Google™ search on, “how many ways you can cook a potato” and the search came up with thirteen different ways. Amazing! If you can cook a potato that many different ways, you can be equally creative in finding ways ways to share physical intimacy with your partner. A nice full body massages, is nice. And don’t forget the shower.

3.    Communicate more openly. Don’t let intimacy become a guessing game. Two physically different individuals with unique personalities, life histories, backgrounds, preferences, and hangs ups must learn to talk openly about intimacy. Be careful about making assumptions. It is fine to have these conversation, because communication will directly impact physical intimacy.

4.    Increase the desire for physical intimacy. One of the easiest ways to enhance your passion towards your partner is to let your mind wander over pleasurable thoughts about them throughout the day.

Three tips for guys:

•Sex must become something you give to your wife and not something you take.

•You will improve your physical intimacy dramatically if you learn to first give to   your wife emotionally.

•Increase your nonsexual touching. This means hugs, holding hands,

Have fun and be safe as you discover new ways to Cultivate Romance.

Shades of Grey Shades of Love – Five Types of Intimacy

Picture

(c) 2015 John Thurman Jenny & Hugh
Shades of Love # 3

By John Thurman

What is intimacy? One definition of intimacy is that it is an act or a familiar expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, and love.

I believe as a culture we have lost some of the important components of intimacy by limiting it to just a physical response.

 There has been some breakthrough research that shows which there are at least five different zones of intimacy! Take a moment and grade yourself in each zone, then ask you partner to do the same.

The first is intellectual intimacy. On this level, couples can talk about current events, share ideas and thoughts, even debate political and religious topics. They can jointly participate in the exchange of thoughts and ideas.

The second zone of intimacy is recreational intimacy. This means that there are some leisure activities that a couple enjoys together. It does not mean that they do everything together.

The third zone of intimacy is social intimacy. After decades of marriage, my wife and I realized that its completely okay for her to have her friends and me to have my friends as long as we share some “we” friends. Couple friendships can be a bonus to a relationship by being a sounding board, providing feedback and accountability.

Spiritual intimacy is the fourth level of growing deeper together as a couple. While this zone of intimacy is the most subjective, due to the various religious backgrounds & practices a couple may have, it is still a very important component. In my opinion, one of the most important because a growing relationship is at its core spiritual in nature. Spiritual intimacy is also an important factor when and if children become a part of the family.

The fifth and final level of intimacy is physical intimacy.  Sexual expression is part of our hard wiring and can be both exhilarating and invigorating for a couple, in the right context. In recent years, the primary focus has been primarily on physical intimacy. We have reduced physical intimacy into a series of positions and practices based more on applied physics than on building relationships.

Could it be that one of the reasons we see so many relationships falling apart is that we have failed to understand that intimacy works on several levels? If a relationship is based primarily on sexual expression, it is doomed to fail, in the long run. However, if a couple can grow in their understanding of these different levels of intimacy, their relationship will experience growth in all areas. As you grow in these other areas, then sexual expression within your relationship will become more intense and meaningful. This is because it is based on getting to know your partner and being known by them.

So how can you have a better sex life? Be mindful of the five levels of intimacy and how interconnected they are.

I’d love to hear your opinion.

Shades of Grey – Shades of Love Part 2

Picture

(C) 2012 John Thurman
Shades of Grey-Shades of Love Part 2

John Thurman

 

“It is a luxury to be understood.”      Ralph Waldo Emerson

Building a relationship and being married is a team sport; you either win together or lose together.

One of the keys to developing intimacy is communication. Two-way communication that is based on respect, honor, and grace is essential for two people sharing a life together.

Drs. David Olson and Peter Larson have invested their careers studying relationships. They have identified 10 Communication Skills that will enhance your intimacy.

1.     Give full attention to your partner when talking.  My wife gets very annoyed when I think I am listening, but am distracted. My suggestion turns off the phone, Ipad™, computer, or television and turn towards your partner.

2.     Focus on the good qualities and be intentional about catching them doing good.  People tend to rise or fall to our expectations, when you are intentional about finding the good in someone they rarely disappoint.

3.     Be assertive, not aggressive or passive. Share your thoughts, feeling, and needs.  One way to do this is to the old therapist standby of using “I” statements versus “you” statements. (e.g. “I worry when you do not let me know you’ll be late” rather than “You are always late.”)

4.     Avoid criticism. It is a relationship killer.  I think William Arthur Ward hit the nail on the head when he said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you.”  You can never share too much encouragement.

5.     If you must criticize, sandwich it with a least two positive comments. (e.g. “I appreciate it when you help out with cooking, the food is great. It would mean a lot to me if you could straighten up a little after you are done. Thanks again for dinner.)

6.     Listen to understand, not to judge.  Two eyes, two ears, one mouth. Listening is all about trying to understand.

7.     Use active listening. Summarize your partner’s comments before sharing your reactions or feelings.

8.     Avoid blaming each other at all costs. Instead, work together for a solution.  There is energy when we accept responsibility and decide to work towards a mutually beneficial solution.

9.     Manage your conflict.  (I will give you ten steps for resolving conflict in a few weeks.)

10.  Seek counseling.  If you are not able to have better results with your communication as a couple. Then take action.  Enroll in marriage/relationship class, read a book together, see your pastor, priest, or get counseling if you need to.

One of the best ways to increase the frequency of physical intimacy is through reliable communication. When men and women feel heard they usually are open to more intimacy.


My next article will be about the five levels of intimacy.

 

Shade of Grey-Shades of Love

Shades of Grey rolls out this weekend. The book series took the world by storm, and I am sure the movie will do the same.

But wait a minute.

One of the foundational principles of building and repairing a relationship is to understand the foundations of intimacy. It is not about technique, positions, or power, but about getting to know someone deeply.

Dwight Bain, a long time friend, therapist, and life coach shared some great thoughts in a recent presentation that I would like to pass along. It sets a good starting point for the next few weeks. Dwight was addressing married couples, but the points he makes are critical to developing any romantic relationship.

There are so many failed marriage stories in the headlines it can make you wonder, “Is an intimate relationship even possible anymore?” and if so, “How do you get one?” It seems that some couples quickly move from being fired up with romantic passion to wanting to just fire each other like a bully boss does to an exhausted employee. 

 It is no wonder people are more cautious about opening up their hearts to another person because they have likely witnessed the process of intensely romantic chemistry quickly eroding into hateful rejection and ugly conflicts. Everybody talks about wanting a meaningful relationship where he or she are loved and accepted, yet few are willing to take the chance of being vulnerable or hurt again.
Marital intimacy is about seeing into the heart and mind of your mate and learning to connect with them in multiple ways such as feeling close, accepted and loved on the inside, no matter what kind of pressure might be happening on the outside. Listen to the word intimacy slowly spoken… ‘Into-see-me’. Since real intimacy is about complete openness, and coming closer together to connect in the most intense ways.


To experience this kind of an emotional relationship, you need to understand both sides of an intimate connection to grow to a new level of purpose and passion together. These different levels of connection reflect the differences between a cultural view of relationship where romance is the primary goal; and a long-term perspective of marriage where learning to connect together with the realities of daily life is joined alongside romance to build intensity, regardless of the circumstances. You need both sides to make your relationship go the distance from short-term infatuation to build long-term success in your marriage.

My friend, Dr. Kevin Leman has an excellent resource that can help you heat it up at your house.

Sunday I will introduce the five levels of intimacy.

John Thurman is a Counselor, Speaker, and Author of Get a Grip on Depressionorder your personally autographed copy today.

How to Have a Happy Wife # 3

Be More Affectionate
 
Before we talk about how to express affection to your wife, I want to review the job description of being a good husband.

  • Love, honor, and respect her
  • Be sexually and emotionally faithful to her.
  • Listen without being judgmental
  • Support and nurture her ambitions outside the home
  • Make good faith efforts to understand how differently she is emotionally
  • Be honest at all times and always do what you say you will do
  • Share child care and domestic work


Be Affectionate
 
To your wife, affection means more than cuddling or holding her hands, and it definitely means more than wham-bam-thank-you maam. She desires a sense of closeness from you because knowing you are close to her is paramount for her being able to stay in a relationship with you. For those of you that might need this simplified; if your wife does not feel connected to you, she will leave you at some level.

No matter where you have been in your marriage, you can show up for work today. You can begin, right now to protect your career as a husband by treating this day as if it were your first day on a new job called marriage.

Action Plan

  • Forget Hollywood stereotypes, and dont try to be a hero in some romance novel. Instead,  apply some of your natural strengths to your job as a married man and see immediate improvement.
  • Focus on the benefits of marriage, not the day to day frustrations.
  • Show your wife the same traits that make you valuable as an employee: focus, discipline, reliability, devotion, loyalty, stability, intelligence, and flexibility.
  • Be determined to get better at this job of being a husband.
  • Learn from your mistakes and dont get your eyes stuck in the rear view mirror of regrets.
  • Commit yourself to the duties and responsibilities of your marital job description and reassess your progress as you go along.


Thank you to Scott Haltzman, M.D., and his excellent ideas from The Secrets of Happily Married Men. This article is adapted from that resource. Another couple of resources I like is For Men Only and For Women Only by Shauti & Jeff Feldhahn

Check out my Stages and Phases of Marriage talk

How to Have Happy Wife

Want a happy wife?

I have been a married man for over 42 years and after all that time, I still do not pretend that I understand how complex my wife is. While there are several excellent books on the topic, I will mention three that will give guys some tools to help make their wives and girlfriends happier.

At the risk of failing to sounding simplistic, I think we guys do a better job in our relationship if we treat them more like a job. A left brain, task oriented, outcomes based approach.

Here we go.

First-Make Marriage Your Job – Here is the Job Description

If building your marriage is your job, what are the expectations for the company?

To Love, Honor, and Respect Her.

From these core values based in the Word and the vows that most of us shared in our weddings come all things good in a marriage.

To Be Sexually and Emotionally Faithful.

No one issue better defines marriage than the promise of sexual fidelity, and I believe that all men know this.

To Listen Without Being Judgmental.

Since 95 percent of all Nobel prizes go to men, you’ve got to believe that men know how to solve problems. The problem is that your wife may not need you to solve her problems; sometimes she just needs to know that you are there by her side.

To Support and Nurture Her Ambitions in and Outside the Home.

Roles are changing, and that is not a bad thing. More men than women work outside the home, but due, in part to the economy, more and more women are either entering or re-entering the workplace or are starting home-based businesses. As your children grow and, opportunities open up for your wife to pursue her pen dreams, will you be there to support her.

Thank you to Scott Haltzman, M.D., and his excellent ideas from The Secrets of Happily Married Men. This article is adapted from that resource. Another couple of resources I like is For Men Only and For Women Only by Shauti & Jeff Feldhahn

5 Hot Tips for Your Relationships

Marriage and serious relationships are some of the toughest endeavors that any two humans can engage.  When a couple begins their journey they are fueled with hopes and dreams, but within the first year those hopes can sometime lead to despair and dreams to nightmares..  Here are six hot tips that can keep you moving forward.

Tip One – Watch out for Anger
Anger, hurt, frustration, and disappointment can stifle a relationship. Here are three things couple can do to lower anger, frustration.
1. Don’t let you negative feeling grow with interest.  Express your hurt, fear or frustration as soon as you are aware of it.
2. If you decide to tell your spouse be sure to share in the language style of your partner.If they are brief in their communication (a condenser) in their style, keep it brief.
3. Don’t give ultimatums during your talks.  Even if one is to be given, this is not the time of the time or the place, and it reflects control or power struggle. Rarely does it work.

Tip Two – Four Ways to Get Closer to Your Partner
1. Forgive each other for something that you’ve held on to.
2. Give up one habit that drives your partner bonkers.
3 Be generous and grateful.
4. Have Fun Together.

Tip Three – 7 Things Women and Men can do for each other.
1. See each other as allies, not enemies.
2. Appreciate each other’s power without being threatened with it.
3. Value and nurture each other.
4. Stop seeing each other as stereotypes.
5. Celebrate the differences and enjoy the commonalities.
6. Realize everybody had wounds.
7. Be there for each other.

Tip Four – Hints for a fun Special Days

1. Devote 100% of yourself to each other on those special days.
2. Rent a Honeymoon Suite at a local hotel for things like anniversaries, birthdays and Valentine.
3. Take a day off from work and enjoy each other.
4. Buy some cards or postcards and flood your spouse with them.
5. Bake or buy some heart shaped cookies.
Guys, flowers and chocolate can really help.
Girls, when he comes home from work on those special days greet him wearing something red or black like ribbons in your hair.

Tip Five – FOR GUYS – If your marriage seems a little dull, perhaps it’s you! Maybe you’re stuck in your routine.  Maybe you’re too predictable.  Shock you wife! Be unusually creative and totally unpredictable.

John is a Licensed Professional Counselor, with over thirty-five years of counseling experience. He has also been married to his first wife for 42 years. If you need help getting your relationship back on tract contact him today. John provides traditional counseling in an office setting as well as over the phone, and through SKYPE or FACETIME.

© 2014 John Thurman

Shades of Grey, Shades of Love: 4 Ways to Cultivate Romance

Sex Begins in the Kitchen is a fun and informative book that my friend Dr. Kevin Leman wrote several years ago. His second book on marital intimacy is called Sheet Music. Both of which are still in print. I encourage couples to add these books to their reading list. Kevin has an uncanny ability to communicate in a clear and fun way about crucial things. Years ago he and I shared the microphone on national radio show called Parent Talk. It seemed that whenever he and I were on the show the topic of sexuality came up.

I mention that because physical intimacy consistently stays in the “Top 5,” concerns of marital conflict.

As you and I continue to move through Shades of Love, I want to give you some tips that will improve physical intimacy. “Quantity” is the most frequent complaint that counselors hear. Unfortunately, couples often define their physical relationship in terms of “the count.” How often do we have it? How many times did one or the other reach orgasm? How much foreplay was there? How long did it last?”

It’s sad that we haven taken the beauty of lovemaking and reduced it to numbers. Some couples make it worse by attempting to negotiate the numbers, comparing their numbers with the “average couple,” whatever that is, or agreeing to trade physical intimacy for help with cleaning the dishes.

Here are some proven tips to improve your intimacy:

1.    Add some variety to your lovemaking. Some of us are too restrictive. Change the locations, times of day, or the lighting. Try some candles, new perfumes, or aftershaves. Put on some different music.

2.    Vary your routine. I did a Google™ search on, “how many ways you can cook a potato”, and the search came up with thirteen different ways. Amazing! If you can cook a potato that many different ways, you can be equally creative in finding ways  to share physical intimacy with your partner. A nice full body massage is nice. And don’t forget the shower.

3.    Communicate more openly. Don’t let intimacy become a guessing game. Two physically different individuals with unique personalities, life histories, backgrounds, preferences, and hangs ups must learn to talk openly about intimacy. Be careful about making assumptions. It is fine to have these conversations because communication will directly impact physical intimacy.

4.    Increase the desire for physical intimacy. One of the easiest ways to enhance your passion towards your partner is to let your mind wander over pleasurable thoughts about them throughout the day.

Three tips for guys:

•Sex must become something you give to your wife and not something you take.

•You will improve your physical intimacy dramatically if you learn to give first to   your wife emotionally.

•Increase your nonsexual touching. This means hugs, holding hands.

Have fun and be safe as you discover new ways to Cultivate Romance.

Want to read a great article about Marriage from a GenXer? follow this link to Relevant Magazine

You can also listen to a 29 min and 55 sec talk I did on Marriage here is the link 
I would love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas about cultivating the romance. Feel free to post your comments.

Shades of Grey, Shades of Love: 10 Skills to Build Up Your Marriage

Shades of Grey or Shades of Love Part 2

John Thurman

“It is a luxury to be understood.”      Ralph Waldo Emerson

Building a relationship and being married is a team sport; you either win together or lose together.

One of the keys to building intimacy is communication. Two-way communication that is based on respect, honor, and grace is essential for two people sharing a life together.

Drs. David Olson and Peter Larson have invested their careers studying relationships. They have identified 10 Communication Skills that will enhance your intimacy.

1.     Give full attention to your partner when talking.  My wife gets very annoyed when I think I am listening, but am distracted. My suggestion turn off the phone, Ipad™, computer, or television and turn towards your partner.

2.     Focus on the good qualities and be intentional about catching them doing good.  People tend to rise or fall on our expectations, when you are intentional about finding the good in someone they rarely disappoint.

3.     Be assertive, not aggressive or passive. Share your thoughts, feeling, and needs.  One way to do this is to the old therapist standby of using “I” statements versus “you” statements. (e.g. “I worry when you don’t let me know you’ll be late” rather than “You are always late.”)

4.     Avoid criticism. It is a relationship killer.  I think William Arthur Ward hit the nail on the head when he said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you.”  You can never share too much encouragement.

5.     If you must criticize, sandwich it with a least two positive comments. (e.g. “I appreciate it when you help out by cooking, the food is excellent. It would mean a lot to me if you could straighten up a little after you are done. Thanks again for dinner.)

6.     Listen to understand, not to judge.  Two eyes, two ears, one mouth. Listening is all about trying to understand.

7.     Use active listening. Summarize your partner’s comments before sharing your own reactions of feelings.

8.     Avoid blaming each other at all costs. Instead, work together for a solution.  There is energy when we accept responsibility and decide to work towards a mutually beneficial solution.

9.     Manage your conflict.  (I will give you ten steps for resolving conflict in a few weeks.)

10.  Seek counseling.  If you are not able to have better results with your communication as a couple. Then take action.  Enroll in marriage/relationship class, read a book together, see your pastor, priest, or get counseling if you need to.

One of the best ways to increase the frequency of physical intimacy is through reliable communication. When men and women feel heard, they usually are open to more intimacy.


Next week I will be writing about the five levels of intimacy.

To spice up your love life check out my talk on the 5 Phases of Marriage