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
RSS Feed
Relationship Alive!







All Episodes
Now displaying: 2015
Dec 29, 2015

Title: Recipe for a Secure, Healthy Relationship: Stan Tatkin

If you’ve listened to some of the other episodes then by now you’ve heard how so much of what happens to us as kids can affect how we are, in relationship, as adults. You can get into the specifics if you want - and there are times when I think that’s a good idea - but you can also look at the big picture of whether or not you had a secure attachment with your parents (and now are able to have a healthy, secure style in your adult relationships). Or you might find that you developed what’s known as an insecure attachment style with your parents, and now THAT is affecting how you connect with  (or withdraw from) the people you love as an adult. Do you sometimes feel an overarching need for space and find yourself always feeling like your partner wants too much from you? Do you start to feel anxious when you’re alone, like your partner isn’t there for you enough. Well, guess what - this all relates to your attachment style. The great thing about it is: there’s something you can do.

On today’s show our guest is Stan Tatkin, Doctor of Psychology, one of the world’s experts on attachment theory, and the author of “Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship”. On this show we’re going to get to know the ins and outs of how we attach to others - and give you some successful strategies for knowing and understanding yourself, and your partner, and finding healthy ways to support each other in relationship. If you’re single, we’re also going to talk about the implications of attachment style on dating - and Stan’s new book “Wired for Dating” is coming out this month - January of 2016.

In this conversation, Stan Tatkin and I cover the following topics:

  • Wired for Love is a manual for how to feel safe in relationship. When we don’t feel safe and secure in our relationship it can create a lot of stress, problems with thinking and focus, creativity, patience, etc. And the long-term effects of stress can contribute to all kinds of illness and dis-ease. So there are very practical reasons for understanding clearly how to feel safe in relationship (both what will increase your feelings of safety in relationship as well as how to help your partner feel safe).
  • What is at the root of your attachment style? Your attachment style is created by the primary relationship that you have as a child, generally with your mother. As an infant we learn very quickly whether or not our parent (or primary caregiver) is there for us unconditionally. If so, we learn to trust those on whom we come to depend in our primary relationship. If not, we develop an insecure attachment style as a response to the uncertainty that our needs will be met in our primary relationship.
  • Insecure attachment styles: Islands -  People who are more “islands” in their attachment style (the ones who need extra space) typically had to perform or be a certain way in order to experience love in their primary relationship. They tend to distance themselves in relationship as they are afraid of losing themselves within the relationship, or being co-opted.
  • Insecure attachment styes: - Waves - People who are “waves” tend to be more needy and afraid of abandonment in relationship. Typically they were responsible for the emotional well-being of at least one of their parents, and so they were rewarded for being dependent.
  • Both insecure attachment styles can be distancing: Both waves and islands can also distance themselves ultimately within a relationship, waves because they are afraid of being abandoned, and islands because they are afraid of being consumed. At the root of both avenues: fear. And both islands and waves WANT relatedness - it’s just the kinds of fears that relatedness creates that lead to wave-like or island-like behavior.
  • Are you an island or a wave? How about your partner? We all have elements of secure attachment, and the different insecure attachment styles, but under duress you will probably veer more towards one than the other. And the way you go can change depending on the relationship that you’re in. Are you more of a “go it alone” kind of person, with the feeling that no one can do something better than you? This way of being is supported quite a bit in western culture, and can lead to being an island. Are you more chatty, interested in other people and relationship, very related to others, very affected by separations and reunions? Odds are that you’re more of a wave.
  • No judgment! It’s important to know that neither of these is good or bad, they just “are” and affected by your experience. With an understanding of where you are, and an understanding of your partner (or potential partners), you can come away with a map of how to build safety in your relationship - a secure container from which everything else grows and prospers.
  • These patterns of behavior only come up in relationship. So - don’t be surprised when it emerges after the courtship/honeymoon phase of a relationship. This is just “what we do” when we begin to see a relationship with another person as “permanent”.
  • What is the difference between securely attached, or creating safety, and co-dependency in a relationship? If you’re codependent, then you are overly concerned with the other person and not concerned with yourself at all. You are sacrificing yourself for the sake of the relationship. However, in a secure relationship, or a relationship where islands and waves come together in order to create a safe, thriving environment for each other, both people serve the THIRD entity, the relationship, as they see it as a path for both of them to grow/expand even more than they could if they were on their own.
  • It’s not important to worry about moving from an insecure attachment style to a secure attachment style. It’s more important for you and your partner to understand how each other operate and to create agreements that support you and your safe container. By virtue of doing so, you will naturally move towards a more secure attachment style. Either way, though, those agreements will ensure that you are working collaboratively, without judgment of each other - instead appreciating how each other is in the world, and knowing better than anyone else in the world how to provide an environment that feels safe and secure to each other.
  • Be a detective to learn what works and what doesn’t work with your partner. Taking this approach helps engage your curiosity, and helps you tune in to how what you do actually is affecting the other person. The “I’m just going to take care of me and you just take care of you” approach may sound good on paper, but it’s usually experienced as a threat to the relationship. Excessive self-reliance can actually become an exit strategy in a relationship.
  • These mechanisms are ruled by the primitive part of your brain. And, in general, if the primal part of your brain is triggered then that part of your brain is going to call the shots - the higher-functioning part of your brain can’t even do it’s job when the primitive part of your brain hijacks it or diverts resources away from it.
  • The importance of agreements: Do you have agreements with your partner that allow you to repair as soon as either of you gets triggered? These kinds of agreements allow you to come back into balance and connection with each other - and then address the specifics of what came up afterwards. If your partner is in distress then it becomes a priority for you to help them recover first - and then figure out strategies for working through whatever caused the distress.
  • Establishing the “Couple Bubble” - All of these strategies are about improving the container of your relationship, or what Stan Tatkin calls the “couple bubble”.
  • Create rituals to reinforce your togetherness. Bedtime rituals, rituals upon waking - or I also share in the podcast a ritual for reminding each other of togetherness before walking into situations that could be triggering.
  • It’s not healthy to avoid conflict. However, you can learn to “fight smart”. For one thing, are you always looking for ways to resolve conflict that are true win/win options? Only when your interests are aligned with your partner, and nobody loses, can you get out of being triggered in anger and arrive at conclusions that foster greater love and connection - even when you are in a disagreement.
  • When dealing with an island… it can be helpful to offer quick doses of love without holding on for too lengthy a period of time. Islands can be more left-brain dominant (verbal, logical) - so it can be helpful to express your love in left-brain sorts of ways.
  • When dealing with a wave… offer reassurance that you love them, touch, etc. Waves tend to be more right-brainy, so offering touch, emotion, movement - those are all strategies that can build safety and connection for a wave.
  • Your relationship is an ecosystem. And once you create a secure, safe ecosystem where you are safe being you and sharing everything with your partner, you are now have energy and resources free to be able to thrive even more in your life than you could in an insecure environment, or independent of relationship. That kind of security that only partnership can offer actually allows you to be more fully “you” in the world than you could have before.
  • Are you still auditioning? We act differently when we’re not all in in terms of commitment. One to two years is a reasonable amount of time to know if you really want to be with someone. After that, it’s time to decide if you’re really in it or not - so that you can experience what it’s like to be in relationship with this person when both of you are fully invested. And then you’ll get MORE information that will help you decide if it really is what you want for the LONG long term.
  • Eye contact and close physical proximity! Both are important strategies for fostering the biology that leads to feeling safe, secure, and happy in your relationship.
  • Another reason oxytocin/vasopressin is important: These neuropeptides allow you to experience stillness without fear. So important for fostering intimacy, particularly when intimacy can stimulate fear - either through being a survivor of trauma, or through simply being a wave or an island.
  • What about polyamory? At the core of polyamory is generally the “primary” pair. Who would you turn to first when you’re in distress, or to celebrate something amazing? That being said, the main thing is that all of your relationships should keep you feeling safe and secure, and when a relationship violates that, it’s going to be problematic, whether it’s your primary relationship or secondary, tertiary, etc.
  • How does this apply when you’re single? Bear in mind that the cascade of neurochemicals that you’re experiencing when you’re dating will keep you from really knowing what’s going on with the other person. One important tool for you is to leverage the power of your community - family, friends, etc. - to help you decide whether or not someone is actually good for you. Not that you should invalidate your own opinion and feelings, of course - but you can count on others who are not love-drunk to help you get clarity on the situation. There’s more information in Stan Tatkin’s new book “Wired for Dating” as well.


Stan Tatkin's website -

Stan Tatkin on Facebook

Stan Tatkin on Twitter

Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin on Amazon

Wired for Dating by Stan Tatkin on Amazon is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a free copy of “Wired for Love”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Dec 21, 2015

It’s been 17 straight weeks since the Relationship Alive podcast launched, and I hope you’re enjoying the deep dive into how to do relationships in a completely new way. This week, I’d like to give you a gift. There’s so much value in new information, new knowledge - I don’t know about you, but my temptation is to be always trying to learn something new, always trying to grow. And yet, some of our growth happens not when we’re trying, but actually when we’re giving ourselves time and space to integrate. You can go to bed overwhelmed, or confused, and wake up with completely new insights. Plus rest is so important for being able to bring energy to your life and everything that’s important to you.

So this week, rather than giving you another interview with another amazing guest, I’m inviting you to spend some time integrating. This is an opportunity to spend time with the important people in your life - your partner, your family, your friends - and, most importantly, yourself! You could simply let everything that you’ve heard in the past 17 episodes of the podcast wash over you - and see what percolates out in your interactions with the world.

Or it could mean taking some space to reflect. What have you learned about yourself, about yourself in relationship? What are some new questions to help fuel your growth over the coming weeks, months and years? What kind of relationship would you like for yourself - and can you develop a solid sense of what it would feel like to be in that? In terms of the podcast, maybe there’s an episode that really made an impression on you that you’d like to listen to again? Or maybe there’s one you haven’t had a chance to listen to yet? Now’s your chance!

If you really, really, REALLY want something new, my partner Chloe and I put together a free meditation to help you harness the energy of any emotional pain that you’re experiencing in your life to discover new possibility. It’s on our new website - if you want a sneak peak, you can visit or simply text the word “POSSIBLE” to the number 33444 and follow the instructions to download the meditation. It’s our gift to you this holiday season, or whenever you happen to be listening to this episode.

There are exciting things coming in the year ahead. New episodes with amazing guests, the book that Chloe and I have been working on will be coming out, and some even bigger projects that I’ll be telling you about as they take shape.

Meanwhile - I’d love to hear from you. If you have a chance, drop me a line at neilius at neilsattin dot com and let me know what’s been really helpful for you on the podcast, what you’d like more of, and what you’d like less of. Or if you have any stories about some specific change that’s happened I’d love to hear them. Lately I’ve been hearing more and more about just how much Relationship Alive has been helping people in their relationships - and I can’t tell you how much it helps me stay fired up about my mission with this podcast - to help you be able to do relationship better and be yourself more fully in relationship and in life in general. Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you next week with another new episode. Take care, and enjoy your week!

Dec 15, 2015

I wanted to put together something a little different for you today. You probably don’t know (yet) that I spent some time learning the art of physical comedy - you might call it “clown school” - at the Celebration Barn, here in South Paris, Maine. Looking back on the 15 years since then, it’s remarkable how many things I learned, about being present, about being a “yes,” and about rolling with whatever happens - that actually apply in real life. I mean, it only makes sense, right - otherwise why would theater and comedy, good theater and comedy, be so compelling? In the words of Will Shakespeare: All the world’s a stage - and today’s guest is going to help you see how to use that to your advantage in life, and in your relationship!

First let me ask you - what do you do to keep things playful with your partner? Are you inadvertently sabotaging the flow of good feelings, good energy, and goodwill in the way that you interact with each other? Is it possible that your fear of making mistakes is getting in the way of being fully there, in the moment? Today’s guest is going to talk about how to get over whatever fear is there so that you and your partner can keep building and growing in your connection.

Our guest’s name is Patti Stiles, and she is one of the world’s foremost experts on the art of improvisational theater. She studied directly with Keith Johnstone, author of the book "Impro", at the Loose Moose Theater, and has been working professionally acting, teaching, directing all over the world - since 1983. In today’s conversation, we’re going to talk about how to foster trust, acceptance, and playfulness in your relationship - so that once you see your life as a great work of improvisation - you’ll be able to do it...better!

Patti discusses the following topics:

  • What is good improvisation? Does bad improvisation exist?
  • Funny improv vs. reflective improv
  • Improvisation and real-life overlap in many areas
  • Realize it’s ok to make mistakes-this reduces fear and anxiety
  • It’s a challenge to help people overcome the fear of failure
  • Our partners are always making bids for our attention.
  • Being a “Yes,” being neutral, blocking—what do they look like?
  • What if you don’t want to be a YES?
  • Teaching improvisation is teaching to be present.
  • “Make your partner look good.”
  • The dilemma for a teacher/performer when students are glued to their cell phones
  • We don’t value the present moment in society today.
  • How you are isn’t equal to what you’re doing.
  • Sometimes doing something playful and joyous can bring the person back to the present.
  • Being creative can help overcome the boring routine.
  • Couples who are “stuck” usually think they themselves are boring.
  • When a relationship becomes “all about me,” then the focus is no longer on the story or the present.
  • There are exercises you can do to help your partner look good, like “Yes, let’s!” Learn to use the “Happy Nope.”
  • Contribute value to your partner’s world by inspiring their joy.
  • Is there a playful way to interrupt a partner’s assumption about me?
  • Improvisation seeks to bring people into places of trust, acceptance, and play.
  • How to use the negative/positive list

Resources:  Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide.

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Dec 1, 2015

What does it take to have a relationship that can thrive well into your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond? What are the best ways to FIND a conscious relationship? Or to shift your current relationship into a place of being energized for what’s possible? And have you ever wondered why it can be so easy to blame someone else in an argument - and if there’s any way to eradicate criticism and blame from your relationship once and for all?

Today’s guest is none other than Gay Hendricks, co-author with his wife Katie of the classic book Conscious Loving, as well as the new book Conscious Loving Ever After: How to Create Thriving Relationships at Midlife and Beyond. Along with his wife, Gay is one of THE experts on how to have relationships that fit into the new paradigm for love - relationships that continue to grow and be a source of inspiration both within the partnership, but also for the communities surrounding the relationship. He has been a leader in the field of relationship transformation for over 45 years - and has appeared on Oprah, 48 Hours, CNN, he is here on Relationship Alive.  Take a listen!

My conversation with Gay covers the following topics:

  • Conscious Loving Ever After, his new book with his wife Katie (or Kathlyn) Hendriks, picks up where their original Conscious Loving (1992) left off.
  • What does it take to have a thriving relationship into midlife and beyond? Are you taking into account your stage of adult development in your relationship? Does your relationship reinforce where you’re at in life? Even if you’re in your 20s or 30s, are you setting yourself up for long-term success in your life and relationship?
  • How do you find a partner for a conscious relationship, or shift your current relationship to a conscious relationship?
    • Step One is getting really clear on what you want in your relationship. What would you want to be committed to? What would you want your partner to be committed to? In our conversation, Gay recounts the steps he took on his personal journey to a “conscious loving” relationship with his wife, Katie. He crafted a “prayer to the universe” - a list detailing EXACTLY what he wanted in a relationship.
    • Step Two is to be clear about what you absolutely DON’T want. Gay had created a list of the three “must haves” and the three “must not haves”.
    • Step Three: After you’ve created your list of  Three Absolute Yesses and Three Absolute Nos in your relationship, the next step is to set a clear intention (some might call it a “prayer” - but you’re at least making a clear commitment to yourself) that you will NOT settle for less. That you are perfectly fine being single rather than settling.
  • Are you ok being alone? At this point it’s worth mentioning that if you’re NOT ok with being alone...what’s up? I’m not saying that you have to be ALONE alone, living like a hermit in some cave. Why not enjoy your community and your friends to the fullest, and the way that you can create intimacy with them, the way that your life and creative spark is (hopefully) supported by them, and let THAT send ripples out into the world (which has a good chance of leading you and your future partner to cross paths)?
  • What are the core commitments for a lifelong conscious relationship?
    • A commitment to honesty and integrity
    • A commitment to creative growth
    • A commitment to taking personal responsibility (no blame and criticism)
    • Are there any that you would add here?
  • What feelings come up for you as you make your list of musts and must-nots? In making a “list” of requirements, it’s important to acknowledge the feelings involved in each item: fear, sadness, despair, pain, love, excitement, etc. Can you feel those feelings and have compassion for yourself? Loving yourself more opens up more opportunities to love your partner.
  • Develop the skill of being present. To be “present” or “in the moment,” you have to open your heart, mind, and body and befriend your feelings. Can you be curious about your own feelings? Can you tend to the part of you that’s feeling them, especially the difficult emotions? Can you guide yourself through that instead of looking for a partner to do it for you?
  • Are you committed to your own Creativity? Many people realize at some point that they have sacrificed their creativity to fit into some “role” in life. However, allowing yourself to do something creative every day, to surprise yourself, will allow you to grow the part of you that is the unique expression of YOU on the planet. The more that you can be more fully YOU, the more that you can more fully be in relationship with a partner and encourage them to be more fully them.
  • Pay attention to how you’re using technology. Today’s technology actually brings more opportunities to be dishonest with your partner unless open-hearted communication is a priority in your relationship. Are there things that you’re hiding from your partner? Or are you letting technology get in the way of direct, face-to-face (and heart-to-heart) communication with your partner?
  • Can you commit to having a relationship free from criticism and blame? It’s easy to get addicted to the little bursts of adrenaline that we get when we criticize or blame our partners, and yet no force is more destructive in a relationship.
  • How can you stop blaming and take responsibility? First step is to commit to looking within for the answers. Try a “wonder-shift,” - saying something to yourself like “Hmmmm, I wonder...what it is that I’m doing that keeps causing this experience to happen?” or “Hmmm, I wonder...what my partner’s experience of me is right now?” get the drift, right? :-)





Resources: - Gay and Katie Hendricks's website is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a signed copy of “Conscious Loving Ever After”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment by Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks

Conscious Loving Ever After: How to Create Thriving Relationships at Midlife and Beyond by Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks

Nov 24, 2015

You’ve heard it before - here, and elsewhere - in order to show up in relationship, you have to be able to show up for yourself. What does it mean to actually be able to show up for yourself? On top of that, have you ever experienced a split between your head and your heart - and do you know how to heal it? I’ve heard time and time again with friends and clients - “my heart wants one thing, my head wants another?” - but being able to feel like you’re fully in alignment is not only possible - it’s required for you to be able to be fully YOU in life.

Today’s guest is Dr. Margaret Paul, psychologist and co-creator of Inner Bonding - and the author of the book “Inner Bonding”. As you’re about to find out, Inner Bonding is a straightforward practice - which we’re going to teach you how to do on this episode - that will help you heal the split between head and heart, and give you the presence that you need to show up fully in relationship - and in your life. It’s helpful for addiction and depression - as well as breaking patterns of co-dependence and jealousy in relationship.

Margaret and I discuss the following aspects of her work:

  • Inner Bonding is a technique in which you learn to truly connect with your feelings, your wisdom/knowing, and your higher sense of guidance - and to connect them all with each other. Not only is it helpful to be able to tune into each aspect, but it is also impactful to bring them into alignment and support with each other. The process brings about a feeling of total internal alignment and integrity.
  • Many people go into relationships to GET love instead of to SHARE love, and that is what makes all the difference in the world regarding relationships. Inner bonding will allow you to feel full from the inside out. Through practicing it, you can fully choose yourself - and then be able to share/create more love with your partner. If you’re seeking love from your partner, that is a recipe for eventual codependence.
  • In Inner Bonding, the term “Inner Child” refers to your feelings and your innocence - the core of your essence. This part of you is connected deeply to your unique potential - what you have come into the world to express. If we numb our feelings through turning to some form of addictive behavior, then we miss the huge source of internal guidance. Even a “spiritual bypass” (going to a place of spiritual connectedness BEFORE getting in touch with your inner child) can be ultimately detrimental to your being fully YOU.
  • Your “Inner Adult” is the part of you that is learning and growing each year of your life. This part of you is as “wise” as your years and experience. And, just as an adult is responsible for a child, that adult part of us is responsible for listening to and tending to the needs of the feeling/innocent/essence part of us.
  • As you will see - Inner Bonding teaches you how to access your higher guidance for wisdom BEYOND your years. Your inner adult doesn’t have to do it all alone. Through inner bonding, you can learn how to contact the part of you that is in touch with the knowing outside of the limits of your experience.
  • In Inner Bonding, there are only two intentions possible: the intention to protect against painful feelings through some sort of controlling behavior, and the intention to learn about loving ourselves. The latter intention occurs when we are in the loving adult stage and can connect with higher guidance, love, and wisdom. It is powerful in opening us up to a high-frequency energy level. Since most of us did not have good role models for loving ourselves, so we need higher guidance.
  • Why are these two INTENTIONS important in the context of relationships? If you come into a relationship feeling unworthy, disconnected, and empty, then you expect the other person to “fill you up” and give you meaning and safety - to “protect” you from these uncomfortable feelings. Frequently we also attract common levels of woundedness in a partner. As we become emptier and emptier, we become resentful and controlling to feel love and avoid pain.
  • The main cause of relationship problems is self-abandonment and the controlling behavior that results. This is where Inner Bonding comes in. Practicing the six steps will yield love, inner worth, shared love, growth, fun, companionship, and support. Aren’t those the things we all desire in a relationship?
  • What if someone says, “I’m not feeling unworthy or unloved, but I just want more sex with my partner”? If someone wants sex because that is how they create feelings of worthiness and connection, then that’s a problem. If you want sex, and your partner isn’t in the mood, and you can respond without anger and neediness, then that’s a sign you’re coming from a place of love. If you become angry and controlling, or feel rejected, then that’s a clue that you might be seeking sexual intimacy for the wrong reasons.
  • What problems might you see in relationships if you aren’t inner bonded? There might be anger, guilt trips, and a fear of rejection. Margaret shares a specific scenario in which one partner might become anxious, and the other might have the fear of engulfment and retreat more and withdraw. The separation will escalate. In a situation like this, what is the path back for this couple? Each partner needs to practice inner bonding to reconnect with themselves, so they aren’t angry, shutting down, or being resistant. Both partners should take responsibility for their beliefs and take loving action within. This remedy will translate into loving action with each other!
  • What brings people closer together is when they are open to learning with each other and not to attack, blaming, and defending. When we are triggered into our fears and retreat into our “wounded self,” then we don’t even hear what the other person says. If you’re triggered and take a moment to practice Inner Bonding, you will be able to respond from a place of curiosity (the intent to learn) instead of your triggered place (the intent to protect).
  • Many people can give compassion to others but not to themselves. They connect to all kinds of spiritual awareness but not to themselves, maybe even give and give and give without getting anything back. This will wear you out and deplete you. Inner Bonding teaches how to give yourself love and compassion. Again, to start from a place of being full, of fully choosing and accepting yourself, before you reflect that out into the world.
  • There are two categories of negative feelings:
    • Wounded feelings-we cause them through our own false beliefs, self-abandonment, and rejection of ourselves. We feel anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, emptiness, and aloneness.
    • Painful feelings of life—These are feelings caused by deep grief, loneliness, heartbreak, and sorrow. We often learn as children to abandon these feelings, often turning to some kind of addictive behavior. Even “blame” is a form of addictive behavior - making other people responsible.
  • The Six Steps to Inner Bonding:
    • 1. Feel your feelings - become aware of what you’re feeling in your body. Do those sensations have a voice? What are they saying? In this step you are acknowledging the value of the feeling part of yourself, and the willingness to take responsibility for it.
    • 2. Move into the Intent to Learn - This is when you move into being your inner adult, with a curiosity about your feelings. What are they telling you? How can you grow from this experience? How can you tend to this part of yourself as if it’s a needy child?
    • 3. Dialogue with your inner child and your inner adult. It can be helpful to write this down - and even to write as your “adult” using your dominant hand, and to write as your “child” using your non-dominant hand. Have a dialogue with yourself as if you were talking to a child. What do you need? What do you want?
    • 4. Dialogue with your Higher Guidance. As your inner adult, ask: What is the truth about this? What would be the loving action to take? Get quiet and wait for the answer.
    • 5. TAKE the loving action. Develop a feeling of gratitude towards the guidance that got you there.
    • 6. Check in with yourself. How’s your inner child doing? Are you experiencing inner alignment? Is there still some work to be done? You can repeat the steps of inner bonding until it feels “right”.
  • How might one partner enlist the other in “getting on board” with Inner Bonding? The first step is always simply to do your own work. That in and of itself can be VERY powerful. Your partner may wake up to there being something different about you - and that would be a great time to tell them about your practice. When you’re doing the work, change is inevitable - and your ability to handle whatever change happens with compassion, love, and boundaries will also improve.
  • When one’s feelings are hurt, how do you know when it’s time to separate and attend to the inner child in offering tenderness? Hurt feelings are one thing - and perhaps a good place to start with inner bonding by yourself. A hurt heart is something else. When your heart is hurt, then it’s time to speak up with your partner and see if they are open to learning, and then you can ask for support and caring from your partner.
  • If both partners are “on board,” then how can you support each other? Say things like, “I’m here for you, I love you, and I want to help.” When the intention is loving, the words aren’t so important. It’s really all about the energy, and inner bonding helps you to trust the energy you pick up.
  • What about a common feeling in relationships like jealousy? Jealousy is a wounded feeling that comes from telling ourselves lies and judgments. A jealous person has not learned to define their beautiful essence and doesn’t think they are “good enough.” Practicing inner bonding will lead to an ENORMOUS shift in those feelings. Both in the partner who is experiencing jealousy, as well as in the partner who might in fact be doing things that are out of integrity and contributing to their partner’s jealousy.
  • What about the “really big feelings”? You can’t tackle these without a spiritual source of love. If there has been trauma in a relationship or a partner’s past, then we often need another person to help with those feelings. If you continue to abandon yourself, then you will re-traumatize yourself. It can also be helpful to get therapy specifc for the trauma while developing your loving adult self.
  • How can you “show up” when a partner goes through a hard feeling? Hold them, reassure them that you are there for them and that they are not alone. Do inner bonding WHILE you’re doing that, so that you don’t go into your own triggered state!





Margaret Paul’s Website:

Inner Bonding on Amazon is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a copy of “Inner Bonding”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Nov 17, 2015

How do you get in touch with what you’re feeling in the moment? How do you take that a step further, and tune into your partner? And how do you take that state, and turn it into deep intimacy, connection, sex? And can you keep that dance alive with your partner even if you have children competing for your time and attention?

Today, our guest is Dr. Keith Witt, Integral Psychologist, and author of several amazing books, including The Attuned Family: How to be a Great Parent To Your Kids, and a Great Lover to Your Spouse. His popular online course, Loving Completely, just came out at the beginning of 2015, and he often appears with Jeff Saltzman on the Daily Evolver show. In today’s wide-ranging conversation, we get into the practical details of how to practice what Keith calls “attunement” - and how it can help you resolve conflict, deepen your connection to yourself and your partner, and, if you have kids, be a better parent. Keith distills his vast wisdom from years of practice - he’s conducted over 55,000 therapy sessions with his clients - and he is on the cutting edge of how to take a relationship to new levels of growth, connection, and passion - especially when you’re past the honeymoon stage with your partner. We also talk about infidelity - why it’s a bad idea, and how to repair when it’s occurred. So - we’re going to cover a lot of ground, and this episode is a little bit longer than most of our episodes - but stick with it as it’s value-packed the whole way through.

Keith discusses the following principles from his book and his experience as a psychologist:

  • The relationship between partners changes after the birth of the first child. This is the premise of The Attuned Family. Couples who learn to reorganize their lives and their relationship to factor in the new circumstances and transition from the honeymoon stage will be better parents and better lovers.


  • Keith discusses the stages of relationships based on evolutionary drivers:


    • Lust-when you see someone and “want” them sexually
    • Romantic Infatuation-a temporary stage that lasts 6-18 months
    • Intimate Bonding-a more permanent pattern - and this is where most people either get stuck or break down. The goal of course is to move beyond this stage and thrive in deeper intimacy and connection with each other.
  • Treat your relationship as if it needs the same kind of attention that your kids (if you have them) also need. Obviously it’s great to devote time to being a good parent to your children, and Keith’s book offers great techniques for how to do just that. The problem with modern parenting is that we often become dedicated to parenting to the negligence of our relationship.
  • One of the foundations of integral psychology is the States of Consciousness, which include the emotions and impulses that we go through during each day. There are two categories: prosocial states, which we perceive as safe, using social skills and mature intelligence, and defensive states, which we perceive as unsafe. Characteristics of defensive states are amplified/numbed emotions, destructive impulses, distorted perspectives, diminished capacities for empathy and self-reflection. Basically, the brain is preparing us for “Fight or Flight.” Most people aren’t even aware of their defensive states, but these will accelerate conflict in relationships and will be toxic to couples.
  • Defensive states will cause couples to withdraw, shut down, and avoid each other. Catching the defensive state and regulating it to a state of social engagement is one of the most profound skills we can master as humans. By doing this, we cultivate the ability to attune to ourselves and to our partner.
  • So what is Attunement, and what does it mean in relationships? Keith gives the following steps to Attunement that must be carried out - with acceptance and caring intent:
    • Be aware of the breath going in and out of your body.
    • Be aware of the sensations in your body.
    • Be aware of your emotions.
    • Be aware of your thoughts.
    • Be aware of judgments about yourself and others.
    • Be aware of what you really want.
  • To attune yourself to others, imagine the other person—what they are feeling, sensing, thinking, judging, and wanting. Many, if not most, of the issues couples have are perpetual issues that are never resolved. You definitely won’t solve them if you spend your time arguing about content. The proper process is to get attuned first, and then the content often takes care of itself.
  • How do you shift strong “negative” emotions into being accepting and caring? There are two general approaches to the experience of emotion in yourself and others, which are to be either dismissing or coaching. In the dismissing attitude, those emotions are a burden, and you would ignore them, deny their validity, or strive to change them. In coaching, you develop an attitude of welcoming emotion and looking at them as an impetus to grow, make changes if necessary, and allow the emotion to shift on its own (as it naturally will). Can you become emotionally coaching as a partner and a parent. Studies show that children with parents with coaching attitudes towards emotion will be better-adjusted and happier in life. Be aware of the strong emotion and let it lead you to deeper intimacy.
  • What if you are attuned but your partner is not? What can you do? A great place to start is to focus on eye contact. It’s harder to hurt someone while maintaining eye contact. You can also ask a therapist or coach to help if you both can’t find your way back to love and intimacy.
  • You’ve probably heard that humans are programmed to NOT be monogamous. How does that play into relationships today? In Keith’s view, a relationship of deepening trust requires monogamy. The way to experience deeper and deeper intimacy is to create a more and more safe container for your relationship with your partner. This intimacy goes beyond biology and represents an evolution in terms of our psychological and spiritual capacity.
  • In Keith’s book, Integral Mindfulness, he gives an overview of a full life of development and engagement. The idea of Integral Mindfulness  is that any given moment gives understanding of yourself and environment as we are attuned with each other. What are our states and development levels? In relationships, we have to adjust many, many times before we achieve a background hum of being safe and connected with my partner. Keith uses the illustration of taking a dance class, being clumsy in the beginning, but learning to master the steps after much practice. This principle applies to physical, emotional, social, relational, sexual, and psychological development. All forms of relationship are like dancing. When it goes bad, we often blame our partner, but taking responsibility for our part and practicing the skills over time will change the outcome.
  • How is the idea of attunement related to the definition of intimacy? The more attuned that you can be, the more that you can play with the masculine and feminine polarity in order to create sparks. As soon as you are attuned to your partner, you create an opening to sense the pleasure that being attuned creates. And tuning into that pleasure leads to the deeper sparks of polarity, play, and a sensual connection. As we discussed in our episode with John Gottman, it’s so important for each partner to also be able to say “no” - and for the partner who hears “no” to welcome that and not take it personally, to actually make it TOTALLY FINE to say “no”. Couples who are fully in their “no” get to “yes” more often, because they have created a truly safe container in their relationship.
  • What about trauma? 10% of men and 20% of women have sexual trauma, and we all have issues to deal with as we proceed through adult development. Trauma can severely impact our capacity to bond sexually with our partner. However, it’s important for you to also take responsibility for healing from your trauma. Never say, “I can’t love you or deal with you in this way because of my trauma, so get used to it.” We have to want the best for each other, including in our sexuality, regardless of past trauma.
  • What about attuning to each other in conflict and recognizing polarity? One way to navigate conflict is to respond from an opposite pole to your partner. If your partner is masculine, respond in a feminine way, or vice versa. When a partner is doing WELL, take a moment to recognize and appreciate that! See if you can find pleasure in those moments, as they are truly the “golden moments.”
  • How do you repair and rebuild trust after it has been broken? Keith says that 70% of cheating incidents recover and work to rebuild, but a small portion of cheating incidents are “exit” affairs out of the relationship. The cheating spouse needs to find the determining factor, which is usually opportunity. What was the difference? What was missing with your partner? Anyone who has a secret affair has to make their family, children, and friends disappear and give in to intensely egotistical narcissism during the moments of the affair. So you need to repair from that state, come back into alignment with your partner, and work on your vision for the relationship that you WANT to create together. And heal the part within yourself that led to the affair and allowed
  • How do you clean up the mess of a secret affair? First, become honest and stop the affair! Ask the questions that need to be asked, and reestablish the lover relationship with your spouse. For the innocent partner, they have to deal with the profound unfairness of it all, which sometimes turns into trauma work. Anchor yourself in “What do I want?” You have to find a way through the trauma and identify your partner as a trustable person when they have betrayed your trust. For the person who had an affair: commit to your development as a person. Discover your vulnerabilities. Remember that “never doing that again” is only the start of recovery. For both partners: Get back to growing a sense of intimacy with each other. Remember, “Love always involves suffering. Hurt will happen.” However, what’s amazing is the capacity for you to get beyond the hurt to even deeper levels of integrity, commitment, and intimacy - if you’re willing to do the work.

Resources:  (Keith’s online course Loving Completely is available, and his free digital copy of The Attuned Family.)

The Attuned Family: How to Be a Great Parent to  on Amazon

Integral Mindfulness: Clueless to Dialed in - How Mindfulness Makes Everything Better on Amazon is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a copy of “The Dance of Anger”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Nov 10, 2015

When was the last time you got really angry? did that go for you? Was it a positive experience, or...not? you and your partner know how to use your anger to foster growth in your connection?

The reason I’m asking is that today’s guest is Harriet Lerner, Clinical Psychologist and author of the classic book The Dance of Anger which has sold over 3 MILLION copies worldwide. Harriet is one of the world’s most trusted experts on the topic of relationships, and her work has inspired countless others on the topics of Anger, Intimacy, Trust, Fear, Courage - you name it. Today we’re going to dive deep to talk about how to make your anger a force for good in your relationship. On top of that you’ll also get some words of wisdom that aren’t just about anger, but that are also about how to identify and change the patterns that are holding you back in your relationship.

If you need help with understanding and processing anger, then join my enlightening conversation with Harriet as she addresses the following:

  • Anger—what is it? Can it be useful? Anger doesn’t have to be a negative emotion. After all, it’s part of what makes us human and helps us define “self.” Anger is a vehicle for personal, social, and political change. “The pain of our anger preserves the dignity and integrity of the self.” In other words, when you’re feeling angry, that probably means that there is some place where you are ignoring your needs and betraying yourself.
  • Many people use anger in relationships for purposes that aren’t useful. Many people get angry with ease, but they don’t accomplish anything useful with their anger! If anger is a way to blow off steam, but doesn’t actually generate positive change, then it’s not serving its purpose.
  • Or some people avoid anger altogether. Another way that we mismanage anger is by AVOIDING conflict. This leads us to avoid any CLEAR statement of self that will “rock the boat” in a relationship. So it temporarily buys you peace, but at the cost of being fully yourself in relationship. And if you can’t be fully yourself, then you can’t fully meet your partner.
  • What is the connection between gender and ways of handling anger? Our culture is more comfortable with women who are guilty, apologetic, and self-doubting than with women who are angry and want to challenge the status quo. Too often, anger is associated with feminism (“those angry feminists”) and is taboo for women.  That all being said, managing anger wisely is a universal challenge for ALL of us, regardless of gender.
  • The BIG Question =  How do we transition from nonproductive to productive anger? Anger is a difficult emotion because we are wired for FIGHT or FLIGHT when we encounter most any problems. In order to turn anger into something useful, we need to become good observers of what is going on. The first step is noticing that you’re getting angry. Once you can become a witness to your anger, you are empowered to change YOUR part in the patterns that lead to anger being toxic versus being a vehicle for growth.
  • What might you notice in yourself as a precursor to anger? Often, when you’re in full-on anger, it’s not the right time to try to resolve a situation. Can you identify the micro-changes within you that lead up to fight-or-flight? Does your heart-rate change? Does your face feel flushed? Where is your attention focused? Do you start to get defensive? In these moments, when you recognize that something is going on, do your best to see it as a sign that something within you needs to be recognized. Take space if necessary, to get clarity. Don’t focus on being “right” or “winning” - focus on getting yourself back to a place of connection within - and love/compassion for your partner.
  • Learn to deal with countermoves and resistance to change in yourself and your partner. “Countermoves” are ways that a partner tries to hook you back into the old patterns when you are trying to change. If you have patterns in the way that you interact with your partner, you can prepare ahead of time for what they will probably do to try and continue the pattern. When that happens, can you continue to not take things personally? Can you stand firm in not being pulled into an old pattern? Can you do that in a way that is kind and compassionate?
  • One challenge in relationships regarding anger is DEFINING A BOTTOM LINE. A “bottom line” is the place where your beliefs, priorities, and values are not negotiable. Can you define a bottom line in a way that doesn’t create an ultimatum, but instead offers your partner a pathway for change?
  • What if you don’t know what your bottom line is? It takes courage to acknowledge that you aren’t clear about how to proceed, and to not know what your position actually is.  Sometimes it’s ok NOT to do anything!
  • What are the roots of change in your relationship? Change comes in small steps, so don’t expect immediate and dramatic results (although they do sometimes happen!). Change is made of courageous acts instead of blaming others and staying victimized. What is more important in your relationship - being locked into a pattern of pursuing, distancing, anger, and blame---or having the courage to break free from those? These changes are not easy, and it takes courage to shift your actions and not know how your partner will respond. Can you take a position that doesn’t involve blaming others - but that still allows you to take a stand for what you need and desire in your relationship?
  • After you get clear on what you need - Start looking for positive, constructive ways to address your needs within yourself, and within your relationship. Even if a situation is 97% the other person - that still leaves 3% for you to work on and change. And once you change, the whole dynamic changes.
  • One of the strategies Harriet shares in her book is to go back to your family origins. We all have a legacy that is handed to us from the formative people in our lives about handling anger and conflict. Often, the way our family members handled conflict is transferred to us. For this reason, it’s helpful to know the history of the “hot” issues in our family and take steps to become a “pioneer” in dealing with those issues in a different way. Can you become a detective and explore what has come before you in the way other family members have handled situations - particularly contentious situations?
  • Here’s how to change patterns in a healthy way: The best way to get your partner’s attention is to try out a NEW you. Do something different. Pick out something small and try it out when the countermoves roll in.





Links and Resources:

The Dance of Anger on Amazon  is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a copy of “The Dance of Anger”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Nov 3, 2015

Today I’d like to have a conversation about a topic that’s a little dicey for some of us. Do you or your partner use pornography? What place, if any, does it have in your relationship? Is it helpful? Is it creating conflict? Is it possible that it’s having an influence on your relationship and you don’t even know about it? Today my guest is Gary Wilson, from, and author of the book “Your Brain on Porn”. 

 Rather than talking about whether or not porn is good, bad, or healthy - we’re going to talk about the effects of porn use on your brain - what can happen when you or your partner uses porn - and what can shift when you remove porn from your life. We’re also going to cover how to know if porn is having a secret impact on your relationship, how to have compassion for those who are affected by it, and how to get it out of your life.

 As for me, I’m curious - not so much about the rightness or wrongness of it - but about what porn does to you and your biochemistry. Is it helping you? Or not? And once you learn about what it does, you might be inclined to find a way to remove it once and for all.  

We all know that porn has become pervasive and woven its way into our culture, primarily by way of the internet.  The use of porn tends to have negative effects on individuals - and, by extension, their relationships, and Gary is here to discuss exactly what is happening with your body’s chemistry as opposed to approaching the subject from a religious or moral perspective.

Highlights of my conversation with Gary Wilson:

  • Gary never set out to become an expert in this field.  Several years ago, men started posting on his wife’s website forum (which was about relationships) about their porn addictions and the problems that were occurring as a result.  Many of the men experienced sexual dysfunction, but they noticed that when they gave up the porn that they had better sexual function, better relationships, and better emotional health.
  • Gary was resistant and did not want to address the subject because of the ramifications and the stigma attached to it, but he felt compelled to write articles and get the word out.  He then realized the magnitude of the problem of pornography because of the widespread interest in his articles and the website he created in 2010.  Even though almost all of the recovery stories are from men, many women are affected by porn either directly or indirectly, through problems with their partners’ addictions.
  • Gary’s work addresses porn from the perspective of the biochemical effect in the brain.  The reward circuit of the brain runs on dopamine and is most highly activated by the things that ensure the survival of you and your genes.  Food, sex, achievement, taking risks, and novelty are just a few of the things that make dopamine levels rise and say, “Do that again!”
  • So what is it about internet porn that makes it so addictive? Internet porn is “the perfect storm” that raises dopamine and hits us in our primitive reward center. It combines novelty and sex in a way that is almost irresistible to your brain. The curiosity, shock, surprise, and searching qualities of internet porn all work to raise dopamine levels in the brain - tapping into an innate circuitry that was already there to be exploited.
  • Internet porn is a “supernormal stimulus” that appeals to us far more than normal stimuli. Think of junk foods vs. the whole foods that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle consumes. The added salt and sugar in junk food stimulates the reward center and tells us to over-consume.  In the same way, the unnatural sexual stimuli provided by internet porn make its users easily addicted and captivated by it.
  • Porn addiction results in the same kinds of changes in the brain that occur in drug addiction.  There are several reputable studies that prove this.  The changes are all due to high levels of dopamine over long periods of time and include less gray matter in the reward center, less sexual arousal, and changes in the frontal cortex.
    • Porn users can also notice depression, increased anxiety (especially in social situations), and fuzzy, muddled thinking.
  • What can you do if internet porn is in your relationship?  Can you help your partner? First, remember that porn has almost nothing to do with you, the partner. The user sees internet porn use as normal and part of everyday life.  A real person can never match the novelty of internet porn, but a real partner can provide love, caring, and touch that a screen cannot. If the partner unplugs, then over time, they will become more sensitive to real interaction and relationship. 
  • Create a culture of openness in your relationship. If you can not take the problem of a partner’s porn use personally, it can be freeing for the addicted partner to talk openly about the problem. Gary Wilson has videos available on his website to clearly explain those biochemical changes that take place in the brain due to pornography and depersonalize the issue.
  • Internet porn addiction may be present in your relationship and you may not be aware of it. What are signs you might notice if this is going on? You may notice that your partner is distracted, not available for sex, or asking you to do things in bed that depart radically from what you normally do. You might have trouble connecting to your partner, or feeling their presence in the bedroom. Many users will “hit the wall” and experience extreme sexual dysfunction.  
  • What is the cycle that someone who uses porn is going through? They become so accustomed to the sexual stimuli that they need more shock and surprise to even become aroused. Everything you do trains your brain, so internet porn trains you to be rewired sexually to be fulfilled only through the internet porn and not the real-life partner. 
  • What will happen when porn use ends? The good news is that users who eliminate internet porn find real-life sex and their partner more appealing. However, they might have to give up the internet porn to find out exactly what problems were caused by its use! Positive psychological, neurological, and physical changes occur over time when internet porn is removed. Generally you will find yourself more tuned into what’s actually happening around you in real life, and connected to your partner.
  • Internet porn use can change how you view sexuality and what excites you.  Users become desensitized, which means that they need more and more stimulation to get the same “buzz.”  If you spend years watching straight porn, then you might have to resort to other, more shocking and kinkier versions of porn to be stimulated and turned on. However, it’s important to realize that the type of porn doesn’t always match with the person’s sexuality but has to do with the neuroplastic changes that are occurring in the brain.
  • Try a reboot.  Stop using internet porn for at least 3 weeks - ideally for 90 days. See what changes! If you have severe dysfunction caused by porn use, you might have to go for longer to see major shifts.
  • What strategies can be used to shift your focus and recover from internet porn addiction?  First of all, you have to be motivated to quit. You must replace the porn with other activities like exercise, socializing, meditation, hobbies, reading---things that take you away from the computer.
  • COLD SHOWERS - It’s been proven that taking cold showers can help with shifting away from the porn habit. At the end of a “normal” (hot) shower, you can turn the water on FULL cold - breathe rapidly, and rub your body in the places where the cold water is making contact. Shift so that the water contacts all parts of your body. Can you go for 10 seconds? 30 seconds? 2 minutes? Fringe benefit is that you’ll feel invigorated and the air outside the shower will seem toasty warm. :)
  • Get support - Coaching is great - as is support from peers who are also stopping porn - or who can hold you accountable if that’s necessary.
  • Create a vision for your life - Does it include the use of pornography?
  • What can our society do to transform our consciousness about internet porn? This problem may get a lot worse before it gets better.  Erectile dysfunction rates are on the rise:  27-33% of men under 40 report ED.  There will be more exposure and more availability to our young children. Sex Education is NOT the answer unless it includes education about the brain changes in the delicate reward center in the brain and supernormal stimuli.  When the adolescent brain meets supernormal stimuli, this changes sexuality even before teenagers begin to date each other.  It’s a recipe for disaster!

If porn has been affecting you in your relationship, I am so curious to hear from you - especially if you try the reboot. What changes do you notice?

Links and Resources:

Your Brain on Porn by Gary Wilson on Amazon  is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a signed copy of “Your Brain on Porn”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!


Oct 27, 2015

Does it seem that love comes and then goes away? Do you have the experience of being deeply in love with your partner one moment, and then the next moment feeling separate, or distant, or even carried away in a cloud of emotion? Well, we’re about to change all of that.

Today we have part two of our conversation with Diana Richardson. In particular, we are going to focus on how to always “get back to love” in your relationship - a topic in all of her books - and the focus of her book “Tantric Love: Feeling vs. Emotion”. If you heard part one (which was episode number two of Relationship Alive, and focused on her approach to tantra), then you know that she is one of the leading sex educators in the world. For more than 20 years she has been teaching about slow sex - a kind of cool sex that will completely transform how you experience yourself, and your partner, as a sexual and sensual being. She has written more than 6 books on Tantra, is the producer of the award-winning movie “Slow Sex”, and people travel from all around the world to take the Making Love seminars that she teaches with her partner Michael in Switzerland. You can check out her website,

Be prepared to learn a new way to experience your emotions, and a practical guide to always get back to love with your partner (and within yourself).

Diana reveals that this material, her work, was born out of her own journey and experiences.  She never expected or intended to write books and teach people, but obtained a completely new picture of sex through her lifetime with new insights and understandings.  The principles she shares developed organically, through awareness and observation. Her desire is to help others discover how their bodies are designed to connect in certain ways and clear up much of the misunderstanding surrounding sex in our world today.  “If one trusts the body and goes in with an inquiring, adventurous spirit, then all the answers will come to you.”

My conversation with Diana focuses on the following aspects of sex and relationships:


  • Flashing back to Part 1 of our conversation, Diana reiterates that when sexual energy is focused solely on the achievement or orgasm, then we miss the deeper levels of connection and awareness.  Focusing on orgasm is pleasurable, but superficial.  “There is a lot that can be engaged in and enjoyed while orgasm is hours down the road.”  
  • “Cool sex” or “slow sex” is a different way of having sex in which you are present and aware of your energy and your partner’s energy.  This kind of sex can be a vehicle for healing whereas the sensational style of sex leaves us with tension and brings isolation and separation from our partner
  • Diana explains the difference between feelings and emotions.  Feeling relates to what is happening NOW while emotion relates to something that happened in THE PAST.  Feelings stay in the system and become emotions. Therefore, emotions are basically unexpressed feelings.  
  • Why do we need to know the difference between feelings and emotions?  Fights between couples are often the result of something not happening in the present but the past.  Unexpressed feelings go sour in the system, lead to immediate disconnection, and become toxic—pure poison.  This toxicity often makes us want to seek revenge, and we spread the toxins around in our environment rather than deal with the underlying emotions.
  • How can we deal with emotions as they occur?  Identify when you are emotional and then sort the emotions out separately.  Learn to allow the feelings when they are present; don’t push them down and repress them.  Emotions are an aspect of the past being triggered in the present by a word, a deed, or a resonance in your partner’s voice.
  • Being emotional is not wrong, but not knowing when we’re emotional is wrong.  We often access old tension in a state of fear when what we long for most is really love.  We blame each other and are not able to look each other in the eyes.  We say, “I’m right, and you’re wrong,” or “You always . . .” or “You never . . .” All of these reactions spring from some kind of fear and allow the past to impact and destroy the present.
  • What are steps you can take to handle emotion properly?
    • Notice your emotions.
    • Admit your emotions.  “I am being emotional.”
    • Depart from your partner’s company, politely, and do something physical with your body to expend the emotional energy.
    • The danger in not separating for a short time is that the other partner will be tempted to become emotional, too.
  • Diana shares two “Golden Rules” from her book:
    • Never tell your partner that they are emotional.
    • Never put your anger on your partner.  Let it flow through, but don’t repress it or it will become a toxic emotion.
  • What can I do if my partner becomes emotional?  Don’t join in.  Understand that their emotion is coming from a past feeling.  Abandonment is one of the oldest and most common wounds from childhood.  It is easily triggered, so be aware that many emotions have their roots in some type of fear of abandonment.  Don’t engage with your partner’s emotion, but be present and supportive.  Make an attempt to come across with love as a way to shed light on the darkness they are feeling.  In fear, we contract, doubt, and feel lonely.  In love, we expand, trust, and feel connected.  Be generous with love and seek to cultivate it in your relationship.  AWARENESS is the key and has transforming power.  It’s not WHAT we do, but HOW we do it.
  • What can you do to cultivate the quality of love?  Simply move through life with more awareness.  Look for ways to soften tension and breathe.  Appreciate yourself and the beauty of life, and practice self-love.  Look for optimism and grace in the way you breathe, walk, and talk
  • How do I start having sex with this new awareness?  Be more aware and don’t build up the sensations.  Prolong the whole thing and become more present.  Sex can become much more fulfilling and a more loving, conscious act.  More harmony and love are created in the relationship when this new awareness and consciousness are practiced.

Links and Resources:  (Diana’s website with links to her books, seminars, and retreats.)

The Heart of Tantric Sex by Diana Richardson

Tantric Love Letters by Diana Richardson

Tantric Love: Feeling vs. Emotion: Golden Rules to Make Love Easy by Diana Richardson and Michael Richardson  is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a signed copy of “Tantric Love: Feeling vs. Emotion”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Oct 20, 2015

My philosophy is that relationships not only CAN be a vehicle for your own healing, but that it’s actually REQUIRED to do your work to heal from whatever is keeping you from fully showing up - in your life, in your relationship, AND in the bedroom. And just like we touched on in our conversation with Diana Richardson way back in episode two - there is tremendous potential for you, when you’re in relationship, to help your partner on that journey of healing - especially sexual healing.


Today’s guest is Wendy Maltz, author of The Sexual Healing Journey. Her book is about how to recover from sexual trauma and deepen your capacity for intimacy and sexual pleasure. In this episode, we’re talking about how you can take on that legacy of pain and potential disconnect - and use it to build a more solid, loving, sensual, and, yes, sexual connection with your partner. 


There are all kinds of things that could have an impact on your sexual development, cause some degree of trauma, and be an obstacle to true intimacy with your partner. So even if you haven’t been specifically affected by some form of assault or abuse, this conversation is for you to find opportunities for your own sexual growth and healing.


If you HAVE been affected by some form of sexual trauma - this conversation could potentially be a trigger for you. My goal through having Wendy on the program is to help you and your partner get through the triggers together, to a place where you can have deep intimacy, connection, and the kind of fulfilling sex life that is your birthright.


Wendy Maltz is an internationally-recognized author, psychotherapist, and a certified sex therapist with over 35 years’ experience.  Along with The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse, which is the topic of our discussion today, she also has written The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography, which also factors into our discussion.  Wendy is the co-producer of Relearning Touch, a highly-acclaimed video guide for couples who are healing intimate problems caused by sexual abuse - and which is now available for FREE on her website.  Along with her husband, Larry, Wendy runs Maltz Counseling Associates in Eugene, OR.

Here are some of the highlights from the conversation that Wendy and I share about how to develop healthy, deep intimacy with your partner as part of the sexual healing journey that you can be on together:

  • Assault, rape, abuse, and incest affect both men and women directly and indirectly.  Statistics show that 1 in 3 females and 1 in 5-7 males are sexually abused in their lifetime.  When you include the partners of those people, you start to see that this is an issue that affects many, if not most, of us in some way. Are you yourself a survivor? If not, how many people have you been with, or known, who have been?
  • What is sexual abuse?  Wendy defines it broadly as any action that dominates or exploits an innocent victim by sexual activity or suggestion.  
  • When you also look back at your own sexual development, you can often find places where you experienced trauma of some form. Someone laughed at you at the wrong moment, or you experienced shame, or embarrassment, or...any number of things could be the source of sexual “trauma.” Can you identify places in your own history that might need some attention?
  • What are some common relationship problems that can be traced back to sexual abuse?  Wendy says that reactions to abuse can include: fear of sex/withdrawal, viewing sex as an obligation, guilt or shame in touching, sexual function problems, low sex drive, painful intercourse, intrusive sexual fantasies, and dissociation during sex. It can also include hyper-sexualization - becoming overly interested in sexual activity.
  • Realize that there is a distinction between sex and intimacy. As you expand into a broader experience of intimacy and connection with your partner, it can help put sex in a context that eases some of the pressure. This also helps to create a container of safety, which will lead to more sex, and more fulfilling sex. What feeds a relationship over time is the sensual sharing that takes place during true intimacy.
  • What if your partner is a survivor of past abuse?  What can you do to help?  It helps if you, as the partner of a survivor, could be educated about abuse and its repercussions. It’s normal for you to feel in the dark, or isolated. If your sex life is suffering, traditional approaches for “spicing things up” can actually trigger your partner (perhaps you’ve experienced that?). Don’t look at your problem as one of needing to spark more desire - see it as a path towards building a container that’s safe enough for you to explore together.
  • This isn’t to say that, if you’re the partner of someone who has suffered sexual trauma, that you should deny your own desires. Learning how to communicate about your desire in a way that owns it and does not make it your partner’s “problem” can lead to productive conversations about how to meet each other sexually. This might also be an opportunity for you to look back on your sexual development and think about whether what you “desire” is what you actually want! Are you looking for an enormous hit of dopamine, or are you looking for ways to build intimacy with your partner? And if it’s dopamine - while it may feel good, in the moment - is it actually serving you in terms of what you want out of your life and your partnership?
  • Partners should be aware, be conscious, take a team approach together, create safety in sex, communicate, be present, and explore new approaches to touch and intimacy. If something isn’t working - don’t do it! Instead, shift to a mindset of working together to get through it.
  • What if the survivor reacts negatively to sexual intimacy via triggers of past abuse?  The most important thing is for the partner not to take it personally, but focus on doing the OPPOSITE of what a perpetrator might do.  Ask how the other person feels, check in with their feelings, and have compassion and understanding.
  • Is there hope?  Will you ever be able to experience sexuality and intimacy freely together? Absolutely. You can stop behavior that triggers negative feelings, work as a team, change behaviors, process feelings together, and make sex safe and fun.  Above all, realize that love is stronger than sexual abuse.
  • What can a survivor do when they are being triggered to remember the abuse of the past?  The first step is to simply notice that it’s happening, stop what you’re doing, be aware of the reaction, and identify what behavior caused the reaction. 
  • Use this as an opportunity to relax. Breathe, be calm, take a break. Talk about it with your partner if possible, and don’t condemn yourself for being triggered. Putting pressure on yourself to do it “right” is counterproductive!
  • Get in touch with the present. How old are you now? What are you experiencing in THIS moment, with your partner (or yourself). Do what you need to do to pull yourself back into the present moment.
  • After getting back into the present, you can re-approach intimacy. Try a different approach than what caused the trigger moment. How can you anchor each other in the present, in your experience with each other?
  • Definitely check out Wendy Maltz’s Relearning Touch video which is now available for FREE on her website. The video teaches touch exercises that develop skills to relax, communicate, and be present in the moment.  The exercises can be done with or without clothes, and can be used as ideas from which to create your own healing with positive displays of fun and playfulness. These exercises are also detailed in her book The Sexual Healing Journey.  
  • The exercises create a continuum of touch to move slowly toward more sexual activities as they are sequential in intensity, and will lead to completely different associations with sex and sensual contact. 
  • One idea that can be helpful is to agree with your partner to an initial “vacation” - meaning a period of time when you agree that you will NOT be having sex. Having a vacation actually allows you to explore other ways of being intimate and connected with each other (it’s not a connection vacation!) - without having any pressure around having sex. Once the pressure is off, you can discover more subtleties about how to develop your intimate connection with each other.
  • Another helpful technique is to each find a “home base” on your partner’s body, a place that you can touch that can help you feel safe and comforted when triggers bring up past abuse, or when your partner is triggered and you want to communicate your safe presence to them. Visiting the home base on your partner’s body is a way to let them know that you’re going through something and that you need reassurance, safety, and connection from them - allowing you to be in an uncomfortable place without breaking your connection completely during those moments. 


On pornography:

  • Pornography that is readily available to children (via the internet) interferes with their normal sexual development.  Children should be allowed to “unfold” their sexuality in a way that corresponds to their maturity level, and many are denied that opportunity because of graphic pornography.
  • Many adults and children are having their view of sexuality potentially formed by their interactions with pornography, versus developing from being present in real-life interactions with partners over time.
  • What is considered a “healthy” exploration of sexuality as children mature?  Boys and girls are naturally curious but should be ready and in control of their sexuality.  They should also be mature enough to know the consequences of their sexual choices.  
  • What is the impact of pornography on relationships?  Many people consider it harmless entertainment, but the repercussions are great.  Porn shows people being used as objects, shows sex as a form of power, and often displays a total lack of intimacy.  Also, about 20% of internet porn involves child sexual abuse - or the simulation of underage sex. 
  • Often, porn is the first exposure young people have with their sexuality, and therefore, they don’t learn the needed relationship skills of self-control, intimacy, and rich connection with a partner.  Porn is like fast food that dulls our appetite for better, creative, healthy food, and can potentially be an obstacle to the enjoyment of a rich, satisfying, nurturing, sexual relationship based on love. It can focus our sexual drive on chasing bigger and bigger hits of dopamine, instead of fostering deeper and deeper intimacy. Those are different mechanisms in the brain, and those choices also have different impacts on a relationship.


Wendy concludes by saying, “Those negatives about being sexually abused don’t have to be the last word on sex for us.  We CAN reclaim sexuality.”

Links and Resources:  (Wendy’s website with links to resources)

The Sexual Healing Journey on Amazon  is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a signed copy of “The Sexual Healing Journey”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook


Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Oct 13, 2015

For this episode, we’re going to focus on something extremely simple and practical -  the importance of questions. How well do you know your partner? If you say you know them well, are you sure that you’re not actually making assumptions about them? And how do you cultivate your curiosity in a way that keeps your relationship fresh, instead of stuck in the same old patterns? 

My guest today is Susan Piver, NY Times bestselling author of The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say I Do.  This book came out of the personal experience of talking to her boyfriend (now her husband) about getting married.  She contemplated the commitment:  How do I make the commitment?  How can I honor the commitment?  She proceeded to the bookstore to find help but found NOTHING on the subject. The idea for her book was born.

Susan realized that most failed relationships didn’t fail for lack of love, but for lack of ability to build a life together that both partners loved. The questions that she poses in her book are based around helping a couple get to know each other (and themselves) in various areas of life. The questions themselves are not complicated - they’re quite simple, in fact! What makes them the “Hard” questions is that answering them will require you to get really clear about who you are, and who your partner is.

Susan discusses the following topics from her book:

  • The 100 Essential Questions are pragmatic and limited to the important things that some people argue about in real life—the places of potential disconnect. She finds that it’s best to not worry so much about hypothetical questions like “what would you do if you were on Mars and only had a plunger and a rowboat?” - but to focus more on simple questions like “If one of us doesn’t want to work, under what circumstances, if any, would that be okay?” - deceptively simple, right?
  • Susan’s questions are basic and without philosophy.  More examples include: Do we eat meals together?  If so, which ones?  What if one of us is attracted to someone else, either superficially or deeply?  The purpose of these questions is to help you reflect on your experience and your partner’s experience. They can prevent entering into a committed relationship based on those assumptions that we are tempted to make. Don’t make assumptions! Tackle the hard questions!
  • As you address the questions, you do not have to have the same answers as your partner. You may disagree about some answers or not know how to answer in some cases. Your goal is to answer as honestly as possible. Or, if your partner is answering, can you listen as openly as possible? Can you put aside your own judgments? If your partner’s answer is leading you to experience certain emotions, can you notice them and set them aside, for the moment?
  • Focus on really trying to GET your partner. First of all, do you even understand what they’re saying? Reflect back to them the answer that you’re hearing to see if they confirm that you are hearing them accurately. You could then see if you can come to understand WHY they are answering in that particular way.
  • Some questions are considered “deal-breakers” and could cause the relationship to end.  Do you want to have children?  What religion, if any, do you practice?  Where would you like to live? Identify for yourself which questions represent deal-breakers, and which ones simply represent a place where you may have a conversation that evolves over time.
  • Be careful of issuing ultimatums because there is nowhere left for that conversation to go.  Remember, even “unsolvable” problems can be worked out over time with understanding and development.  Susan shares great personal examples from her own experience and how she and her husband handled those issues.
  • There is a contrast to “being in love” and “acting lovingly.”  From Susan’s perspective, you can’t commit to loving someone always because love is an emotion that is changeable.  You CAN commit fully, completely, and honestly to acting lovingly toward that person.  That means being open, caring, and willing to share with that person.  You can accomplish those acts of love even when you don’t feel “in love.” Acting “as if” will actually help you nurture feelings of loving and cherishing your partner even in those moments when you don’t feel “in love.”
  • Susan speaks of the contrast between Projecting and Hearing, especially regarding answering the hard questions.  When projecting occurs, the result will probably be a fight.  The less you critique and try to change your partner, the better off you will be, and you will hear them better.  Be honest about your fears and uncertainties.  Own your discomfort about certain issues.
  • A good practice when your partner’s answer triggers you is to get clarity by saying something like “I’m telling myself a story that you are saying such-and-such, and I’m making that mean such-and-such. Is that true?” What’s great about that language is that it helps you see that you are ALWAYS telling yourself a story about how you’re experiencing the world - stating it explicitly helps you take responsibility for your story. And asking this question allows your partner to help you discover what’s true about your story, and what isn’t.
  • Susan is a Buddhist and meditation teacher.  She teaches mindfulness and awareness as part of the meditation process.  She finds those qualities essential in her relationship, allowing her to own what she feels and separate her projections from who her husband actually is.  You can take part in her Open Heart project in which she teaches meditation online.  Those who sign up receive a free weekly video meditation.  A benefit of these meditations is that they will give you the ability to weather discomfort without trying to run from it.
  • The questions in Susan’s book cover many areas, including home, money, work, sex, health, food, and family. She wishes she had included questions about stepfamilies, alcohol/drug use, and other addictive behaviors. What questions would you add to the list? Please let us know if there are other essential questions (we can discuss them in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook)


Links and Resources:  (Susan’s website, including information on teaching, live events, and workshops.)

The Hard Questions on Amazon   (Sign up here for Susan’s newsletter, blog posts, and weekly video meditations.)  is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a signed copy of “The Hard Questions”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of these bluegrass rising stars:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Oct 6, 2015

Are you looking for ways to breathe new life into your relationship? In today’s episode, we’re exploring the power of integrity to heal problems and generate passion in your connection with your partner. What does it mean to be honest? What are you actually committed to in your relationship? How do you turn a major problem - for instance, infidelity - into a catalyst for growth and even deeper intimacy?

My guest today is Katie Hendricks, co-author of the book Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment. Having worked with thousands of couples with her partner, Gay Hendricks, Katie is experienced in helping you make the shift towards a relationship in which you and your partner are bringing out the best in each other. There are some tough topics in this episode - and our goal is to show you how to easefully and gracefully challenge your assumptions about what’s possible for your relationship.  Be sure to check out the episode!

Katie discusses the following topics:

  • Conscious Loving means to be awake and engaged, with a free choice to communicate clearly and authentically about feelings.  How do you bring out the best in your partner? Do you want your partner to be their biggest and brightest self in the world? Where does that idea create fear in you, and is it getting in the way of your being able to encourage your partner?
  • Along those lines, how are you choosing yourself as well? Are you allowing yourself to get smaller in your relationship? Are there different choices that would be more aligned with what you want to create for yourself in the world?
  • How would you know if you are experiencing “Conscious Loving”?
  • Are you repeating destructive patterns in relationship, perhaps that you saw modeled by your parents or other adults (this could be from the media and entertainment, as well as within your actual experience)?
  • Are you caught in any of these “traps” of unconscious loving?  Seeing a limited possibility for a relationship, having the viewpoint that relationships are hard work and require compromise, letting your partner get away with destructive patterns? Is your partner letting YOU get away with destructive patterns?
  • A starting point for overcoming the traps is to come back to a place of caring and respect, for yourself and for your partner. Can you challenge these negative assumptions and patterns? How would you act if you were coming from that place of caring and respect?
  • The Responsibility Principle is one that is often misunderstood.  People generally confuse responsibility with blame and burden.
  • Responsibility is being able to claim your creativity, and instead of blaming, you get curious and creative. Are you able to respond to what’s happening? Are you responding from a place of being curious, or are you reacting out of fear or anger?
  • What about a relationship that has gone through infidelity? Part of being honest in this situation is learning to communicate about the pain and being in the experience of what that means in the present. Learn to listen, and both people should take responsibility for what created and led up to that event. It is time to re-examine your commitment - what are you committed to? What are the micro-commitments that you’re making to each other? Can you say goodbye to the old incarnation of your relationship, and re-commit to the new incarnation?
  • In spite of the infidelity, the relationship can be even stronger, and commitment takes on a new meaning.  
  • In particular, both partners must commit to revealing instead of concealing. Look at all the times when you are tempted to not be truthful in your life. Can you be truthful in a way that is gentle for your partner, and for yourself? Whenever you are tempted to “conceal” - recommit to the path of revealing - revealing who you actually are.
  • It’s the committing and recommitting that gets you toward your goals in the relationship.  
  • In Katie’s seminars, she teaches people to recognize the body sensations of feelings not being expressed and teaches them to open up. Can you tune in to what’s happening in your body when you start to conceal something? What’s the deeper feeling within you? Could you express that? Even a simple statement like “I’m feeling…” could free you from that pattern!
  • Notice how much more energy becomes available for your relationship when you commit to speaking the truth about your experience in those moments!
  • The point isn’t to be perfect - it’s a process that we repeat over and over again; however, following the path of Conscious Loving can help you experience more intimacy and fun along the way, even if you aren’t yet highly skilled at it.
  • If fear is getting in the way, how does it shift if you see your partner as your ally?
  • When you practice conscious loving, you will generate more energy to create with your partner because you’re spending less and less time with power struggles, conflict, and keeping score----all those old “games” that destroy relationships.
  • Katie explains the “upper limit” problem in regards to your capacity to expand into giving and receiving love and positive energy each day. Can you honor your body’s need for rest and integration when things are getting better and better? If you don’t allow for that integration time, you may unconsciously create “problems” to give yourself that time.
  • A common relationship problem is criticism and blame--#1 relationship killers!  That criticism can be verbal or non-verbal, but it should be replaced with a commitment to appreciate your partner. Note that criticizing YOURSELF is just as toxic to your relationship!
  • Focusing on appreciation is the ONE thing you can do in your relationship to effect change today.  Strive for a 5:1 ratio of words of appreciation to words of criticism.  
  • Katie has a sequel to her book coming out in October 2015: Conscious Loving Ever After:  How to Create Thriving Relationships From Midlife and Beyond.  I hope to have her return to the show soon to tell us more!



Links and Resources:  (Katie’s website with guidelines, tips, videos, and more!)   (Katie’s website with integrity skills, tips, and videos.)  is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a signed copy of “Conscious Loving”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Sep 29, 2015

Are you curious about ways to build intimacy that aren’t about sex or being sexual? Have you had hints of feeling a deep connection with your partner, and are you interested to know how you might be able to deepen that connection even further? My guest today is Patricia Albere of the Evolutionary Collective, an internationally-known organization devoted to mutual awakening between individuals, and the development of a shared consciousness that transcends our individual (separate) consciousnesses. With over 40 years of experience working with individuals on their growth and personal development, Patricia branched out to explore how individuals could connect more deeply with others. Today we discuss her work in the context of romantic partnership, although the exercises that you will be learning could be applied with anyone - not just your significant other.

  • In today’s society, especially with so many of us focused on our personal growth, there’s a danger of our becoming TOO individuated - separated from each other like islands of highly developed people. However, once you get to that point, you have an opportunity to connect with others on a profoundly deep level, by “waking up the space between you” and creating shared consciousness.
  • In relationships, we’ve had a goal of creating an unconditional, accepting love. However, Patricia calls upon us to love in a way that also demands - where we demand that our partner show up fully, where we call them forth to be their biggest and brightest selves.
  • One of Patricia’s practices is to align yourself so that she space opens up between you and your partner.  It’s one of her Eight Principles and is called “mutual engagement” - being a total yes to the emerging experience that you’re having with someone in the moment.
  • The basic practice consists of 30 minutes:
  • For the first 10 minutes, one person is the questioner, who asks “What are you experiencing right now?” The other person responds with what they’re experiencing right then, in that moment - if possible tuning in not to stories about what’s happening, but naming the aspects of experience that are occurring right there in that moment. If they get stuck, the questioner asks again, simply “What are you experiencing right now?”
  • After asking the question, the job of the questioner is to “place their consciousness inside their partner”. This is the kind of thing that will make more sense as you try it - like a nascent ability that you may not have even known that you have, but that will evolve and develop as you put it into practice. As the other person says what they’re experiencing right now, can you get into their experience?
  • After 10 minutes of this, switch roles.
  • After another 10 minutes, you enter a “popcorn” round where you each are tuning into what you’re experiencing - at any moment each of you can speak to “we are experiencing…”
  • After that - take a moment to feel through where you’re at!
  • This shared consciousness can happen with people who aren’t lovers and even with pets! You do need a willing partner to conduct the experiment.
  • The practice can be a “big step beyond” the normal relationship and lead to a deepened, ever-expanding intimacy. You and your partner can take on greater responsibility and intimacy as difficulties and traumas arise in life—all because you share consciousness. If you have a strong foundation, for instance, you can try this technique when you are confronting a problem area in your relationship. If you have a problem, see if you can really get inside the experience that your partner is having. What light and understanding does the shared consciousness bring to the situation?
  • Patricia speaks about “loving the truth.”  You have to be a “yes” to what IS. Once you are a “yes” to the truth of your experience, there is an enormous dynamic energy available to you in your life. However, the moment you become inauthentic in your relationship, that’s the moment that you’re no longer in relationship. At that point, you have made the decision to stay separate and not let the other person into your consciousness.  Hard to share consciousness when you have secrets that you’re hiding away - since you might not want to let someone in under those circumstances!

Links and Resources:   (Patricia’s website)  (a free 77-page ebook available!)

Free Mutual Awakening Calls with Patricia Albere

Patricia has online courses, holds virtual retreats every three months, does 3-day intensive orientations for mutual awakening, and hosts a year-long program that starts every January.  Visit her website for details! is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win Patricia Albere’s Mutual Trust course - a $197 value!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook


Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Sep 22, 2015

Odds are that the way that you’re having sex is actually causing problems in your relationship. In this episode, you will find out how having orgasms is a surefire way to lead you toward getting bored of your partner, creating problems, and breaking up - and how karezza (or non-orgasmic sex) can completely change the dynamics of your relationship. Experience the increased closeness, desire, and feelings of fulfillment in relationship that will help you sustain partnership over the long term.

My guest today is Marnia Robinson, author of Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships.  Her book is about how sex and orgasms affect your biochemistry, how it can undermine your relationship, and she also describes a way of lovemaking that boosts your bonding biochemistry to help you increase your love and fulfillment in your relationship.

Marnia is a graduate of Brown and Yale and a former corporate attorney.  She blogs on Huffington Post and serves on the board of the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health. Marnia is also the moderator of the website where you can find more information about karezza and evidence to support how switching to non-orgasmic lovemaking will actually lead to a happier, more intimate relationship.

Here are some of the details of our conversation:

  • When you have an orgasm, your brain gets the biggest natural blast of neurochemicals possible without drugs.
  • The “ripple effects” of how this blast changes your internal biochemistry can continue for up to two weeks and affect how we view our partner and the world around us.
  • Some of the ripples you might experience are: mood swings, depression, anger, irritability, mental fogginess, boredom, and fatigue
  • While western society has become very orgasm-focused, other cultures have had teachings (many of them ancient) that advocate abstaining from too much sexual climax because of weakened energy. Now science can actually back up this advice.
  • It makes sense in terms of evolution and fostering diversity why you would want to grow tired of one partner and seek out another. However, since we humans are in the rare 3-5% of mammals that pair bond, we have two competing bio-mechanisms at work. If you stick with orgasm-centered sex, then you are going down the road of habituation to your partner. On the other hand, if you practice sex that is non-orgasmic, you activate the pair bonding circuitry more and more strongly over time.
  • When you are focused on bonding activities, you actually become increasingly satisfied in your relationship - and take yourself off the path that would otherwise have potentially led to your dissatisfaction.
  • Bear in mind that there is a difference for new lovers, who are in the “honeymoon neurochemistry” phase for the first two years of a relationship. During this phase you won’t be as susceptible to the same pattern of habituation - but by the time you reach two years you are in danger of rapidly shifting into an orgasm-driven downward spiral.
  • Marnia encourages gentle lovemaking and intercourse without being goal-driven and orgasm-seeking.
  • She also teaches attachment cues or “bonding behaviors” that should be part of each couple’s daily relationship.  If you download this show guide you will ALSO get a link to her FREE GUIDE on bonding behaviors that will foster oxytocin production in you and your partner.
  • This kind of sex brings more attention to each partner’s needs, a stronger connection, more tenderness, lingering contentment, better communication, reduced anxiety, more energy, more understanding, and more balance in life.
  • This kind of sex is also sustainable over the long term. If you’re in a more dopamine (and orgasmic) centered cycle, you will potentially have to always be focused on new ways to create more dopamine. Why go down that rabbit hole when your body already has a mechanism perfectly designed to keep you sexually satisfied and in harmony with your partner over the long term?

Are you intrigued?  I promise that you will learn things you have probably never heard before from Marnia’s practical explanation of these techniques.  Give them a try, and please let us know your results!

Links and Resources:   - Marnia’s website

Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow on Amazon

Text PASSION to 33444 to download the pdf version of this episode guide AND Marnia’s Free Guide to Bonding Behaviors. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a signed copy of "Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow” by Marnia Robinson.

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook   (Marnia’s episode page on my website)


Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Sep 15, 2015

My guest today is Terry Real, and we’re going to cover some advanced strategies for thriving in your relationship. Whether it’s how to recover from a grievous wrong, how to keep your relationship healthy, or how an unconventional way to take a relationship from good to great - there’s lots to discover in this conversation!

Terry is a nationally recognized family therapist, author, and he has appeared on Good Morning America, Oprah, ABC News, and 20/20. In private practice for over 25 years , his most recent book is The New Rules of Marriage: What you Need to Know to Make Love Work.  He is here to discuss his newest book and tell us practical ways to make our marriages and relationships exceptional.

Terry sets the stage by sharing how relationships today are different than they have been historically.  People today have much higher expectations of what their relationship will be in their lives. The problem is that most people haven’t mastered the sophisticated set of skills needed to maintain the kind of relationship that they want. The purpose of his book (and this episode) is to give you the skills that you need.

Terry discusses the following details about relationships:

  • The phases of Harmony, Disillusionment, and Acceptance/Repair. What stage are you in now? The cycles are ever-repeating - which should give you hope if you happen to be in a state of disillusionment at the moment. If that’s the case, what would it take to move your relationship towards Repair?

  • Cherishing. While it sounds simple (and is simple in many ways), Terry actually devoted an entire chapter to it in his book. Are you focused on appreciating your partner’s good qualities? How do you let them know?

  • Terry discusses the losing relationship strategies of harshness and self-righteous indignation. “Harshness has no redeeming value of any kind.  There is nothing that harshness accomplishes that loving firmness doesn’t accomplish better.”

  • He refers to his “Winning Strategies,” including shifting from a negative past-focus to a positive future-focus.  He also explains his “Golden Rule.”

  • Terry has a 3-step action plan for a spouse to follow if their partner isn’t ready or willing to change the relationship. Dare to rock the boat. “Listen - this is really important to me!” Once you have their attention, help them WIN. Tell your partner what you need in order to make the situation better. Then, make it worth their while! Give positive feedback. Celebrate steps in the right direction, even if it’s not fully what you want it to be.

  • Put an end to the Cinderella Syndrome! It’s ok to ask for what you want.  

  • We each have a Core Negative Image of our partner - it is how we imagine them to be when they are at their WORST. It is an exaggeration, not even an accurate description of them at their worst - but there are bits of reality in them. Anything that you do that reinforces your partner’s Core Negative Image of you has the potential to create problems in your relationship. Anything you can do that’s the OPPOSITE of that will create enormous growth in your relationship.

  • Because we get together with our “unfinished business” - our relationships have enormous Healing Potential. The gift of our relationships is what we do, how we heal, when we encounter these problems that are echoes of the past and resolve them.

  • If you have a strong relationship, you can use the Dead Stop. In a dead stop, if you see your partner starting to act like your Core Negative Image of them, you let them know (using a keyword, such as “pineapple” is helpful) - and they stop everything, and without being defensive, apologize! Acknowledge what they’re seeing. And use it as an opportunity to release your need to be right, and instead to build connection with your partner.

  • Terry gives advice about recovering from a grievous wrong in a relationship, such as infidelity or other marriage disasters. First, the person who committed the wrong needs to be accountable for their actions. Next, address the hurt partner. Recognize that they are fundamentally disoriented - help them make sense of what happened. Dealing with their trauma. Then, re-establish trust. The past needs needs to be seen as the past. A demarcation ritual acknowledging the new, transformed relationship can be amazing. The crisis has the ability to transform us if we rise to the occasion. It can also be helpful to get outside help in these situations.

  • FYI - Terry teaches live workshops all over the United States for couples and singles. An amazing experience to take your relationship to the next level.

  • Use the relationship grid in order to diagnose where you are in terms of your boundaries and self-esteem - where do you need to improve?

  • “True intimacy is not the absence of tension, but the management of tension and using tension to grow.”

Links and Resources:

The New Rules of Marriage on Amazon

Please visit Terry’s website,  for all kinds of free information about his work AND a free intimacy test to see where you are and where you need to grow.

The Relationship Alive Community on Facebook 

This guide and episode are also available at

Text "PASSION" to 33444 to download a pdf of the show guide (and be entered for a free giveaway of a signed copy of Calling in the One within the first week of this show's airing)


AMAZING intro and outtro music graciously provided courtesy of The Railsplitters - Check them out HERE

Sep 6, 2015

Welcome!  My guest today is Katherine Woodward Thomas, who is the author of the national bestseller Calling in the One: 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life, and Conscious Uncoupling (in stores 9/22/2015).  She is also a licensed psychotherapist and a highly acclaimed transformative educator who has worked with thousands of people around issues of love and relationship.

Katherine also created the online Conscious Uncoupling course to help people deal with relationship breakups and I have personally experienced this program and its benefits. It was my work and personal transformation with this course that led me to Katherine and inviting her to be a guest on Relationship Alive.

While as always it can be challenging to summarize everything here in our show guide, here are some of the salient points from our conversation:

  • We are responsible for our own lives. How you do (or don't) take responsibility for your life is THE determining factor in your ability to have an amazing relationship.
  • We often have unconscious barriers in place that can keep us from becoming magnetic to the right person, or from having an amazing relationship even if you are lucky enough to find yourself with a great partner.
  • We are on the cutting edge of what's possible in relationships. Prior generations didn't have to solve the same problems that we did, and they had completely different expectations of what it meant to be in a committed relationship with a partner.
  • We all carry around wounds from our childhood - and those wounds can impact us in the present, triggering emotions or preventing us from fully stepping into the moment. Where in your life are those wounds having an impact on you? Can you stop accepting that impact as inevitable - or as somehow tied to your partner - and instead take it on as something within YOU that can be addressed and healed?
  • That inner growth allows us to self-validate and become comfortable in our own skin, regardless of the past.
  • Are you focused in your relationship on controlling so as to avoid your fears? Or are you focused on creating and expanding into a positive vision for what is possible for you, and for your relationship with your partner?
  • We sometimes sabotage ourselves because we think the highest and best love relationship seems outside of our identity. Is your identity of who you are in relationship congruent with what you actually want your relationship to be?
  • There is a difference in how our “younger” and “older” selves function in relationships. You can learn to attend to the younger part of yourself as an adult - so that the adult is running the show. Katherine reveals a simple process for how to do this in the episode.
  • All of this work allows you to truly be a present adult in your relationship.
  • Are you able to provide support for yourself? We can’t expect support from our partner that we aren’t willing to give ourselves.
  • Not coming from your adult self is also a surefire way to ultimately kill the passion/desire in your relationship. Expecting your partner to parent you will erode the sensual energy. However, when you and your partner can be fully present with each other, that's when the true sparks (the ones that last) can truly fly.
  • Relationships are active and alive and have to be created again and again. Are you choosing your relationship every day?
  • The “source fracture wound” is the original break in your heart and what you made it mean about yourself when it happened.
  • Responding to our partner from that wounded place brings toxicity to the relationship.
  • Katherine explains how to get in touch with that source fracture so that it can be healed in the light of day.
  • Again, willingness to be self-responsible is the key to having a great, lasting relationship.

We will probably be having Katherine on the show again soon, as she has so much more to offer!  Until then, please check out the links and resources below!

Links and Resources:

Katherine Woodward Thomas's website

Calling in the One

Conscious Uncoupling


Download the show notes and more on

The Relationship Alive Community on Facebook 

Text "PASSION" to 33444 to download a pdf of the show guide (and be entered for a free giveaway of a signed copy of Calling in the One within the first week of this show's airing)

AMAZING intro and outtro music graciously provided courtesy of The Railsplitters - Check them out HERE


Sep 6, 2015

Welcome to Episode 2!  Here is today’s question:  How’s your SEX LIFE?  Is it giving you the kind of connection with your partner that you want?  My guest today is Diana Richardson, a leading sex educator with over 20 years’ experience in teaching about “slow sex.”  She has authored several books on the subject of Tantra and how to develop deep intimacy with your partner, and she teaches numerous workshops in Switzerland with her partner, Michael. 

Her teaching is completely transformative and focuses on how to radically shift your thinking about sex and sensuality.  You WILL learn something new from Diana!  Join us!

Diana discusses the following topics:

  • Tantric sex is about awareness, connection, and containing and sustaining sexual energy.  It’s about being in awareness during sex, instead of “striving to reach the end moment.”
  • Conventional sex typically doesn’t give women the time they need to “be ready.” Ultimately this creates sexual problems in a relationship - the BODY will actually lose interest and close down. However, in slow sex, you work with what naturally allows a woman's body to be open to sex.
  • Conventional sex disregards the natural polarity (positive pole/receptive pole) of the male and female bodies. Do you know where the energy center is for your partner? It might not be what you think.
  • For a woman, her positive sexual pole is actually in the breasts - not the clitoris! Focus attention there to help a woman open to the flow of sexual energy. As a woman, can you experience your breasts from within? This isn't about "stimulating" the breasts - it's more about melting into them, sending warmth through them. This is something you can do at any time of the day!
  • Conventional sex overrides the potential for sexual energy transmission between male and female.  (Hint: the “electric current” metaphor will help make this clearer.) You want to be in the flow - not building up tension only to discharge it.
  • Conventional sex is full of tension and pressure—and sometimes even trauma--for both males and females. Try not to focus on EXCITEMENT - which actually creates tension in the body. Instead, focus on relaxing into the moment with each other.
  • How do you actually FEEL after you have sex with your partner? As you switch to the slow sex approach, notice how that does it feel to have had an orgasm - vs. how does it feel if you shift to non-orgasmic sex, instead focusing on the sensations that you experience with your partner.
  • When you have non-orgasmic sex, what kind of energy do you carry within you during your day? How does it affect the way you feel towards your partner during the time after?
  • Is sex a source of conflict for you with your partner, in terms of levels of desire, or timing of sex?
  • Make a date (or an appointment) to make love with your partner. And take the TIME that you need to truly connect with each other.
  • Tantric sex teaches you to have understanding, feeling, communication, and being “present” in the moment with your partner.
  • Fall back into yourself - your body, your awareness, your breathing, your sensation - and that opens you up to something happening between the bodies.
  • Learn how to transform your sexual practice into a journey that's not about having orgasms - that's actually about diving more and more deeply into the feeling that you have with each other. Feel what is present within you during sex.
  • Sex should more than a mechanical process, but should be deeply healing and cleansing. If you slow down and focus on awareness, you will sensitize yourself to the more subtle flow of what's happening between you and your partner. The more mechanical your sex, the more you're desensitizing yourself to that dynamic flow.
  • Tantric sex can revitalize a tired and boring relationship.  It’s constantly generative and expansive as it deepens and changes. You are pulling yourself off of the continuum of tension - and discharge - and instead putting yourself onto a continuum that allows you to create deeper connectedness with your partner.
  • Even more amazing tidbits in this episode - please listen to experience the magic that is the teaching of Diana Richardson!

Are you intrigued and wanting to explore further? The good news is that there will be a Part 2 to this interview, so you can look forward to even MORE information from Diana. 

Links and Resources:  (Diana’s website)

Tantric Sex for Men: Making Love a Meditation - by Diana and Michael Richardson

The Heart of Tantric Sex - by Diana Richardson

Text PASSION to 33444 to download the pdf version of this episode guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a signed copy of "Tantric Sex for Men" from Diana Richardson.

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook   (My website has links to Diana and her work.)


Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Sep 6, 2015

Welcome!  My guest today is Dr. John Gottman, one of the world's leading experts on how to have an amazing relationship.  He and his wife Julie currently operate The Gottman Institute in Seattle, offering numerous resources and training.  Join us for a deep dive into their work!

Dr. Gottman’s findings are largely based on the conclusions he has made over many years of research and observations of couples. He and his team have how to be a master (and avoid being a disaster) at relationship.

Dr. Gottman discusses the following topics:

  • “The Sound Relationship House” - what is the foundation for a relationship that lasts?
  • Learn the importance of having high expectations in relationship, and also uncover ways in which what you'd *think* would be good for your relationship is actually counterproductive.
  • Dr. Gottman identifies Styles of Confronting Conflict:  Volatile, Validating, and Conflict-Avoiding. All of these conflict styles can lead to successful relationships. Learn what to do if you and your partner are mismatched in your conflict style.
  • Dr. Gottman discusses “bids” we make with our partner as an attempt to connect. Are you a "yes" to your partner's bids? Are they a yes to yours?
  • “Bids” that fail are often the beginnings of conflict. How do things change if you start paying attention and responding to your partner's bids in a positive way?
  • Mindfulness is the key to noticing these bids and avoiding conflict.
  • “Small Things Often” - a reminder to turn toward these bids in the small moments of life.
  • Dr. Gottman's concept of startup is a way of thinking about what you bring to your interactions with your partner. Do you start in a place that's already positive, and thinking highly of your partner? Or do you start in a place where you are suspecting the worst of your partner?
  • Build up your emotional bank account with small compliments (deposits).
  • According to John, there are three phases of any relationship:  Falling in Love (initial), Building Trust (middle), and Cherishing Your Partner (long-term intimacy). What phase are you in? The key to success is using strategies that are appropriate for where you are in your relationship.
  • The key to more sex is having the freedom to say "no" without being punished for it. If refusing sex can actually have a positive payoff, then it will actually lead to a couple having a more satisfying (and frequent) sex life.
  • Do you ever wonder how to make a good relationship GREAT? Focus on cherishing your partner.
  • What if YOU are the only partner who wants to make changes?  Can you make a difference?  Absolutely. Learn how shifts in your approach can have a profound affect on your relationship.
  • The key to success in a relationship isn't that nothing bad ever happens. It's how well you as a couple learn how to repair after those things occur. John discusses how you can learn to repair, and the positive effects that has on long-term relationships.
  • Do you know how to decide if you’re in a bad relationship?  When you're with your partner, are you at your best? Or are you veering off towards your worst? Gottman offers this simple guideline for how to know whether to stay or go. Also what to think about BEFORE you decide that you're on the wrong path.

Join us for these topics and more.  Dr. Gottman has practical information that can improve your relationship TODAY! 

Links and Resources:

What Makes Love Last: How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal by Dr. John Gottman

The Gottman Institute, Seattle    (visit to download a .pdf of this episode guide along with John Gottman's "Dreams in Conflict" exercise to help couples who seem to have irreconcilable differences. You can also text “PASSION” to 33444 for instructions on how to download the guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this show's airing, you will also qualify for a chance to win a free signed copy of Dr. Gottman’s book "What Makes Love Last".)

The Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!