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Relationship Alive!

Neil Sattin interviews John Gottman, Sue Johnson, Harville Hendrix, Peter Levine, Stan Tatkin, Dick Schwartz, Katherine Woodward Thomas, Diana Richardson, Terry Real, Wendy Maltz - and many others - in his quest to dig deep into all the factors that keep a Relationship Alive and Thriving! Each week Neil brings you an in-depth interview with a relationship expert. Neil is an author and relationship coach who is enthusiastic and passionate about relationships and the nuts and bolts of what makes them last. You can find out more about Neil Sattin and the Relationship Alive podcast at http://www.neilsattin.com
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Now displaying: November, 2016
Nov 29, 2016

Breakups happen. With the right frame of mind, any breakup that you go through can become a golden opportunity. It can be the best thing that ever happened to you - and, believe it or not, it can also be the best thing that ever happened...to your relationship! We’ve covered the topic of Conscious Uncoupling here on the podcast, back in episode 21 (with Katherine Woodward Thomas) - and now we’re going to take a slightly different approach. In today’s episode, we’re talking with Chris Seiter of ExBoyfriendRecovery.com and ExGirlfriendRecovery.com - about what’s involved when you decide that you actually want an ex...back.

I’m going to assume that you’ve done your soul-searching here, and that getting your ex back is actually something that would be good for you (apart from a “heal my pain, now, please” kind of thing). If not, please take the time to do that. Fortunately, if you’re following Chris Seiter’s approach, you’ll find yourself with time built right into the process - time to grow, heal, and...get some perspective before you potentially dive back into something better left behind. That all being said, my own relationship went through a breakup or two on our path to stability - so it’s not necessarily over for you and your partner, especially when your do-overs give you a chance to undo the unhealthy patterns that led to your breakup in the first place.

Rehabilitate with your own growth. When it comes to break-ups and separations, especially when not mutual, there can be a lot of pursual/withdrawal and victim mentality patterning. Desperate measures are taken by the one who is left as they feel hopeless and out of control. So many of us have the tendency to rush into fixing things as quickly as possible, however going from zero to sixty only repels exes further. Resist the instinct to beg your ex, or try to win them back immediately.  The most important shift you can make, is to turn towards yourself. Make a u-turn and focus on rehabilitating your own growth. This will simultaneously increase your chances of re-attracting your ex, while rebuilding your own sense of wholeness and vitality.

How can i become the best version of myself? Given that the best thing you can do during a break up is to focus on yourself- check in with the holy trinity of well being: Health, Wealth, and Wellbeing. Ask yourself: what do I need to do to improve my health? How am I growing my mind? How am I tending to my heart? What can I do to take care of myself financially? There is a synergistic effect between these three areas of yourself, and by shifting your attention and energy to the things you do have control over will re-invigorate your sense confidence, creativity, and clarity. Not to mention that the healthier you are in a holistic sense, the more attractive you are to others. Furthermore, there are many times when through working on yourself and making needed changes, you discover that you have naturally outgrown your old relationship.

No contact rule. When in a state of fear of losing a relationship, many people focus on the other, versus finding inspiration to devote time to their own growth. Often this looks like a continual obsession with how and when to contact their ex. Data shows however that 70% of those successful of getting back together with their ex, is through using a No Contact rule. Having a period of no contact is important for many reasons, including but not limited to

  1. ignoring your ex will make them curious about you and miss you
  2. raises chances that they will pursue you
  3. interrupts the pursue/withdraw pattern, and
  4. allows you to have the space and time needed to focus on yourself.

Obviously everyone’s situation is unique, and so the rule will have to be tailored to your circumstances (perhaps you have children together?). That said, it is recommended to choose between a 21 day, 30 day, or 45 day no-contact rule.

Creating more contact: Once contact begins again, pay attention to the levels of communication, from texting, to talking on the phone, to meeting in person. Be mindful of what is too much, and what is too little. Create cliffhangers in your text messages, meaning engage your ex and then end in an open loop with an unanswered question, an open invitation, a ‘to be continued’ thought. Remember while you are reaching out that we are all hardwired for connecting, and very responsive to stories. Texting provides a great platform to re-engage your ex through humor, things you know they would find amusing or interesting, etc, however the goal is to move towards phone conversation and ultimately, the decision to go on a date together.

Small and doable. When you go on a first date, you don’t ask your date to marry you! Same goes when reconnecting with an ex. Do not try to go from 0-100 to get to 100, in fact it is neither advised nor perhaps even possible. Instead, take baby steps. Keep your sense of pressure/perfectionism in check, and focus on showing up for each moment with authenticity, compassion, and presence. Do not feel like there is one spectacular thing you could do that would unlock the possibility of getting back together, instead improvise moment to moment. Take a step towards them, then perhaps a pause, then another step, looking inside yourself to figure out what the ‘right’ step means to you. It is way more effective if you go moment to moment, and will inevitably provide important new information about whether this relationship is the right thing for you or not.

Move Move Move: If you genuinely take the time to focus on yourself, to give critical space for growth, and then you reconnect but your ex still says they are not interested, then it is time to move on. Break ups are incredibly painful, however continuing to pine over someone who is saying they are unavailable becomes dangerous as it can make quickly make you and your life feel stagnant, decrease your sense of confidence, and limits your sense of possibility and openness to anything new.

Resources:
Ask a question! Chris or his team will respond! Find his contact info here.

Check out Chris’ websites for amazing resources:

For ex boyfriend information check here!

For ex girlfriend information check here!

www.neilsattin.com/exrecoverybusting Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Chris Seiter.

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Nov 23, 2016

Did you know that amplifying the gratitude in your life can have an enormous impact on shifting you from scarcity to abundance? Today's episode, short and sweet, offers you several quick practices that can help you get into the habitude of gratitude. Enjoy, and - if you're here in the US - Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 15, 2016

What do you do when you feel like your relationship is going in the wrong direction? How do you find new things to try when you feel like you’ve tried everything? And what’s possible for you when you’re going it alone - perhaps when your partner already has one foot (or both feet) out the door? On today’s episode, we are chatting with Michele Weiner Davis, author of the bestselling books Divorce Busting, The Sex-Starved Marriage, and The Divorce Remedy. Her solution-focused therapy has helped thousands of couples come back from the brink of separation and divorce to a place of lasting, thriving love.

You can’t figure this stuff out by meditating on the top of a mountain. We are not necessarily born with the skills required to have healthy and happy relationships. Instead, we learn by watching our adult caregivers, and for many of us, this means that we did not have great role models or teachers. That said, it is possible to learn these skills, including how to navigate conflict with grace and compassion, how to show tenderness, how to communicate needs lovingly, etc. We learn how to actively love within the context of our relationships- and our relationships are always giving us teaching opportunities. In order to grow from these lessons, it is critical that we pay attention to our roles, patterns, and habits in the relationship. More often than not, one’s relationship patterns will follow them into any subsequent relationship. This may explain why first marriages end 42% of the time, but the rates of divorce for 2nd and 3rd marriages is much much higher. So, be willing to get into the weeds and to learn everything you can about how to have a good, healthy, and loving relationship now!

It takes one to tango: Do you feel like you are taking on your relationship alone? That your partner isn’t as interested or willing to ask the hard questions? One big assumption in relationships is that change has to take two people. The truth is that when one person makes changes in a relationship, their partner will change in response. You CAN effect change singlehandedly in a relationship as long as you are willing to take the first steps! You have nothing to lose (and everything to gain) by taking the initiative and trying a new approach to making changes in your relationship- tip the first domino and watch how you can be a catalyst for big shifts.

STEPS: These steps are for anyone who wants to turn their relationship around (or simply to feel better):

Step 1) Start with a beginner’s mind: Many people have loads of misconceptions about marriage in general, and long-held stories about their own. Often these assumptions and fictions are limiting and debilitating, creating an invisible context that silently stifles the relationship and gets in the way of what is needed to make things better. Get curious and bring awareness to the beliefs you hold about the concept of marriage/partnership, and check in with the stories you may have created about what is possible in your own.

Step 2) Know what you want: Many people spend a lot of energy and time cause hunting- meaning they focus on places in their relationship that are no longer working. Try to look concretely at what is working and forward to where you want to be. By identifying specific steps necessary to achieve what you would rather have, you can begin to set goals. These goals should be action-oriented, measurable, and doable.

Step 3) Ask for what you want: Once you know your goals, you will be more prepared to lovingly communicate your desire for change to your partner in a way that will likely bring you both closer to what you want, and away from the shame/blame cycle. Asking for change when you have taken the time and energy to identify your own responsibility as well as specific steps forward will mean that your partner will hear a request for change rather than a complaint. Complaints lead to defensiveness and your partner is much less likely to be curious, open, or willing to comply. Be intentional about your timing- trying to have a heart to heart while in the midst of dishes, kids, and chaos is not the time. Find quietude, and preface the conversation with conciliatory and loving statements, such as “I know you don’t mean to do this, and I haven’t been open enough with you about how this has affected me, however I would love to talk about…”. From here, be specific! Ask for what you want and help paint a path forward with concrete action steps.

Step 4) Stop going down cheese-less tunnels. Where in your relationship do you find yourself getting stuck over and over? Are you saying and doing the same thing repeatedly? Is there one place your partner really digs in their heels? Bring curiosity to stuck places as these are likely the result of consistent yet ineffective attempts to intervene and fix. Look inward and ask yourself what patterns you may be repeating that have not yet worked. The want to fix can be so strong, and the pain of disappointment or discontentment so great, that we can blind ourselves to how we may actually be exacerbating the conflict or stagnancy. Thankfully, doing something different usually brings enough movement to break free from toxic cycles of behavior, and into creativity and possibility!

Step 5) Experiment and Monitor Results:  Begin to experiment. Have a trial and error philosophy- try doing things differently- it almost doesn’t even matter what you do, because anything will be better than what hasn’t been working. Remember that spontaneity is a powerful force in relationships as it breaks patterns and opens new doors that allow for more creativity. What other actions might you be able to take that are different than your status quo? Embrace the idea that it is probably and possible that if you approach things differently, you WILL get different results!

Step 6) Take Stock: As you begin to make shifts, keep your eyes open for signs of shifting and change. Do not expect big tectonic plate sized shifts, but rather become keenly aware of microshifts, training yourself to look for small signs. Is there a change in your partner’s tone? Are they asking different questions? Body language shifts? Are they initiating conversation differently? Scale expectations down and look for the baby steps forward. This is not because big shifts are not happening, but rather because the more small shifts you can appreciate and notice, the more encouraged you will feel and this alone will bring new energy and vitality to your relationship!

Step 7) Keep the Positive Changes Going: Lasting change has setbacks- the road to positive lasting change is paved with many ups and downs. What separates those who can sustain and grow over time from those that get stuck and resentful is the willingness to take personal responsibility in the context of their relationship. Don’t wait for your partner to come to you. Take personal responsibility for doing what you need to do in the moment to get your relationship back on track on any given day.

Positive change buttons: We all know those things that we can say that really gets under our partner’s skin. Those hot button topics or statements that tick them off and totally and immediately send them into defense. Well, this ability to so quickly change the mood can be used in reverse as well! Take time to notice what brings your partner to life and makes them feel good- then begin to incorporate these ‘positive change buttons’ throughout the day!

Last resort technique? Do you feel you are in the 11th hour of your relationship? When it feels like all else has failed, the last resort technique helps with skills that work to turn things around, even without the direct support of your spouse. If you feel like you have done everything to save your marriage, but you are losing steam or hope, begin by taking a deep breath and several steps backwards. You want to break the toxic victim/defender dynamic. At this point your partner may be used to being pursued intensely, so try to stop chasing. Turn towards yourself and focus on your own growth- exercise, meditate, find friends, go out, rediscover self-care. By focusing on your own wellbeing you will feel more confident, grounded, and independent, and often, this will not only just make you feel better but it will likely bring your partner closer!

This didn’t save my marriage but it did save my life: All of the steps outlined above, including the last resort technique, will help you get grounded into yourself. They connect you with what you hope for in your relationship and your life, and to a greater sense of optimism that comes from a sense of increased clarity and capability. These steps may not necessarily save your relationship, however they will leave you feeling independent, strong, clear and inspired.

Resources:

Read the Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage
 
Keep your eyes open for Michele’s newest book Healing from Infidelity available January 2017

Learn more about Michele’s work and find more resources on her website

Call today to schedule a consultation! 1800-664-2435

Feedback? Questions? You can contact Michele directly at: michele@divorcebusting.com

www.neilsattin.com/busting Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Michele Weiner Davis.

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook
Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Nov 9, 2016

How do you increase the amount of positive energy in your relationship? Since what you focus on grows, in this week's episode I'm going to give you some thoughts on how to expand your ability to focus on what's working (both within yourself, and in the way you relate with your partner), and stop feeding into what isn't working.

Enjoy these practical suggestions that you can put into practice - today. It's always possible to find something to celebrate - especially when you know how and where to look. Which is what I'm about to teach you on today's Relationship Alive podcast.

I'm excited to hear about how this practice impacts you in your life and your relationship - make sure you let me know!

Nov 2, 2016

How do you foster intimacy, even when you're fighting? The recipe for a successful relationship involves learning how to collaborate even when things aren't going well. And once you learn how to do that, you'll find that opportunities to create intimacy are abundant in your relationship. It's the magic that happens when you're willing to work together no matter what's going on. In today's episode, we're talking to Dan Wile, the creator of Collaborative Couples Therapy. Along with seeing clients and conducting intensives for couples, Dan Wile trains therapists in Collaborative Couples Therapy, and his work is recommended by John Gottman as an embodiment of the principles recommended through his research and practice.

Here are the details on what we cover:

Create a loving conversation: Many couples struggle to communicate their way through conflict- so often resorting to withdrawing or fighting. Collaborative couple’s therapy helps couples learn to reach out to one another in difficult moments and around difficult topics so that they may create a loving conversation out of whatever it is they are going through. Through collaboration conflict can become intimate exchange.

Self-reinforcing cycles: Dan Wile explains that many couples too easily find “themselves in an adversarial or withdrawn cycle without knowing how they got into it, not wanting to be in it, and not knowing how to get out of it”. Here are the 3 self-reinforcing cycles he identifies:

Adversarial: Speaking from anger often begins a vicious cycle. When we speak from a charged place we often have a threatening tone, and we enter into either attack mode or defense mode. Biochemicals are released, and the sympathetic nervous system is leading the way, thus making us speak before we think. We make accusations that put our partner on the defensive and vice-versa, therefore reinforcing the intensity and increasing escalation.

Withdrawn cycle: Another common reaction to conflict is the withdrawal cycle. This is when one partner, or both, use extreme cautiousness and avoid saying anything evocative. While this may seem like a safer strategy at first it is dangerous as it leads to mutual withdrawal, intense distancing, and a devitalization of the relationship.

Empathic Cycle: Both the adversarial and withdrawal cycles can be shifted to a loving cycle through empathy. One partner must take a step out of their “i’m right, you are wrong” stance, and step towards their partner. When one partner acknowledges the otherness, or speaks for the ‘we’, they offer a moment of reconnection and an opportunity for repair. This can sound and look a lot of ways, for example “Wow- you seem to have a point, even if I do not agree I want to understand you more”, or “you know, I think I am saying a lot of things that I do not really mean right now because I am very angry”, or “even though this is really messy I am proud of us for trying to work through this difficult conversation because the topic is so important to us both”, or “I’m getting really upset because this is something I really care about, and I know you do too- I’m feeling like things are at stake and I’m feeling vulnerable”. Confessions such as these often helps the other partner acknowledge what is happening for them as well, and thus the couple finds themselves talking about the angry/frustration/sadness, rather than from it.

The “We need to talk” talk.  There is a common pattern in which one partner will seek out the other and say something like “we need to have a talk”. This languaging gets registered as “I have a complaint” or “you did something wrong” and immediately the conversation is derailed into a conflict as the one partner goes into defense or withdraw mode. If you are the one initiating the conversation try to:
  1. Anticipate the struggle of your partner: Initiate difficult conversations by preemptively voicing the concern that often lead to the fight, such as “I want to talk about something difficult, and it might make you feel defensive, but I want to find a way for us to have this conversation that allows me to share in a way that you can hear and we can work through this together”. Or, “I want to talk about (the state of things in our kitchen) and I already know (that you might feel overwhelmed by this) and I totally understand and yet, we need to figure out how to solve this somehow”.
  2. Turn your complaint into a wish or a fear: Learn to express what your concern is by sharing the underside of the issue and making it more about you than about them- they will be much more receptive and able to stay present for solutions!
  3. Practice: Play with taking on your partner’s side and pretending to voice their side of the fight. This kind of role play can help increase understanding and empathy.
From fight to intimacy: A fight occurs when there are two people who both feel too unheard to listen. Each person presents their point of view (often in a very charged way) and the other presents theirs and neither is acknowledging the other’s views or feelings. It is possible to shift from confrontation to intimacy. Intimacy comes from the ability to share what is most deeply on your mind- what is most alive for you in the moment. It is about sharing this feeling with your partner, and then hearing the same from them. In order to shift from fight to intimacy it is helpful to search for, and speak for the underbelly feelings/leading edge feelings: those feelings that are at the core of the conflict.
 
Leading edge feeling: Learn to get to the underlying current of what is happening for you by searching below the content for the emotions, fears, worries, and sensations that are informing how you are showing up in any given moment. Be curious and empathic with yourself as you search for the soft underbelly feelings. Once you have identified this, share it! As intimidating as these may seem at first, you will soon learn that it is the key to creating loving conversations and building intimacy with your partner. You will feel a great amount of relief once you have shared your truth and your struggle, and consequently your partner will often feel great relief as well as it allows them 1) insight into your vulnerabilities, 2) demonstrates your trust in them, and 3) may validate certain instincts or gut feelings they have had about what you have been going through. Get professional or personal support in learning to identify the underlying feelings, and then practice expressing it outward and making it known. When we can find our lost voice we allow for fuller expression of our inner struggles, and thus, create more opportunities for connections.
 
Self-empathy: When we have a lack of empathy for ourselves we are unable to get in touch with our leading edge feelings, and when this is true we either:
  1. Turn our feelings and struggles into something our partner is doing wrong. Such as if you are feeling unlovable you may believe or accuse your partner that they don’t love you.
  2. Get quiet. Sometimes if we cannot figure out how we are feeling or don't know how to speak for it we either blank out or say nothing at all.
  3. Other times we try to resolve the gap through actions. For example, if you are feeling uninteresting you might try to talk more and more. Or you turn to substances (food, drugs, alcohol) to try to self-soothe the inner struggle.

None of these strategies end up helping us get to the core of the issue. Instead they distract us into a further place of disconnection not only from ourselves, but from our partner. If finding empathy with yourself is very difficult, you can try to imagine looking at your own struggle as if it was your friend’s- what would you say to that friend? Find resources and ways that help you come back to a centered place of compassion for yourself so that you can re-find your voice and speak for your vulnerabilities.

Allow love in: While it is widely believed that you cannot love another until you love yourself, it is simultaneously true that you can learn to love yourself deeper and better if and when you feel loved by another person. As you increase your own sense of empathy for yourself, find ways to allow your partner to show up for you. This can be facilitated by sharing your struggle. By offering your partner a window into your tender places you invoke their sense of curiosity, their desire to support you, and their ability to help facilitate a warm nurturing environment for you to better step out of yourself and discover more of what you are truly feeling.
 
A relationship is how you deal with difficult moments. Healthy vibrant relationships are not devoid of difficulty, rather they have the capacity to find intimacy and connection through struggle. Work with yourself and your partner to get to the source of your feelings and speak about the deepest parts. As you do you'll help yourself and your partner get out of a triggered state, and into a compassionate and empathic place in which you are both more resourceful, creative, connected, and where you can actually repair!
 
Resources:
 
Read Daniel Wile’s book After the Honeymoon: How Conflict Can Improve your Relationship
 
Find out more about Dan’s work and workshops
 
www.neilsattin.com/wile Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Aubrey Fuller.
 
Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook
 
Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out

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