5 Habits of happy couples.

happy couples
Photo credit: Timothy Krause

5 habits happy couples practice.

1. Steer clear of toxic talk. If not careful, toxic talk can easily creep into daily chatter with your spouses.  One of the wonderful things a close relationship affords is lots of information about each other, the good and the ugly.  When you use the intimate information you have about each other to tease, mock or rail against your spouse you undermine the trust and safety critical for an intimate relationship. Happy couples steer clear of harsh words and share encouragement and positivity instead! Continue reading 5 Habits of happy couples.

Communication with your spouse: Win win decision making.

This week is all about win win decision making.  Last week’s post was about the importance of staying in the calm zone but what happens next? After you have noticed the signs that you are reaching your anger ceiling you have hopefully walked away, taken some time to cool off and then you return to the conversation.

Communication with your spouse isn't always easy
Communication with your spouse isn’t always easy. The right skills can make all the difference.

So what’s the next step? How can you enhance communication with your spouse in a way that allows you to tackle a tough topic and move out of conflict and into a collaborative decision making stance? WIN WIN decision making is the answer. Yes, there are a few communication basics that are helpful to understand like avoiding crossovers and learning effective listening strategies that we have covered in the past.  Once you have learned the basics, the next step is to use the win win strategies outlined by Dr. Susan Heitler in her book and workbook and skills taught at Power of Two online. Continue reading Communication with your spouse: Win win decision making.

How to communicate with your spouse: On a date

We are going to be running a short series here on the Power of Two blog over the next few weeks.  Let’s call it a mini-course on how to communicate with your spouse.  Essentially it boils down to this, communication in marriage is essential and so many folks struggle with how to do it! When you stop communicating with a spouse or partner it’s a signal that something may be wrong, but what?  Why did you stop talking?  Or maybe you talk to each other all day, and at the same time never really share anything deeper than the surface anymore.  Remember when you were first dating, falling in love or getting married, did it ever feel like there wasn’t enough time in the day to talk to each other about life, dreams, ideas, art, music, books? Getting back to that level of conversation may take time, just like anything else though you just have to start somewhere.  Here an idea of where to start…

Ask good questions.

Sounds simple right? Learning to talk to each other again is a process and takes some time and practice. Taking the time to learn new skills is invaluable for any relationship. One of the core skills groups we teach Power of Two is talking and listening.  Talking about thoughts, feelings, ideas, wishes without falling into the crossover trap and listening to learn.  While these skills require effort and time to learn, there are simple steps you can take to start to turn things around today.

We are kicking off this series in honor of Valentine’s day. The theme of this post is how to communicate with your spouse, on a date. If you are one of the lucky ones who managed to secure a babysitter and get reservations at a romantic restaurant you may want to spend a little time thinking about how to intentionally reconnect to partner while you have the time carved out. Even if you plan to stay home and do something more low key, you can invite a deeper experience with a little thought ahead of time. Continue reading How to communicate with your spouse: On a date

Marriage problems and technoference: How to ditch the device for better communication.

marriage problems
Put the phones down to connect with your partner

What does your cell phone have to do with marriage problems? Recently, several prominent news sources have presented surveys and research that point to the problem with cell phones and romantic relationships.  One survey reported that “70 percent of women said smartphones were interfering in their romantic relationship.” That’s a huge number of women! In NPR’s recent story  “technoference” was citied as a serious problem in relationships. Aside from the question of what you are actually doing on the device, the accessibility and pervasiveness of  the devices in our lives is causing several problems.  Cell phones are the worst kind of distraction, the convenience of access to all your email accounts, the camera, the social media accounts, not to mention the thousands of other apps you can fill your device with offer an endless stream of information. This coupled with the dings, ringtones and other alerts that make everyone in the room look at their phone in some sort of pavlovian response to a bell are bound to cause marriage problems.

There are certainly big questions to answer individually and culturally about the influence these devices have on our lives. Technology no doubt has it’s place in daily life.  If we can thoughtfully engage with it it can actually be used for good in the relationship.  Time savings is one instance that can benefit your romantic relationships.  If you are able to take care of a task like paying bills that may have in the past taken up precious evening time at the kitchen table you can use that time you’ve gained to connect with your spouse, but do you? The evidence seems pretty clear that by and large they are causing more marriage problems than they solve. In her research, Sarah Coyne, boiled it down to this, “What I think the most important finding is, the more you let the technology interfere, the more conflict you have with your spouse or partner and that leads to not feeling great about the relationship.” So where is the balance?  Obviously this question is best left to each couple to navigate, provided the right skills are there to actually have a win win outcome!

So here are a few tips for curbing the potential marriage problems caused by technoference… Continue reading Marriage problems and technoference: How to ditch the device for better communication.

How to cultivate gratitude in your marriage this holiday season.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude”

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The holiday season and particularly Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to take stock in your marriage.  These few weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years can get really crazy, it’s also a wonderful time to cultivate gratitude in your marriage and make sure your relationship is getting a piece of the pie! Gratitude is more than just being thankful for something you have.  It is a state of being that can bring more love, positivity and peace and health into your life. Gratitude is an intentional act, gratitude in your marriage as in all things opens the door to deeper and more fulfilling relationship and holiday season.

gratitude in your marriage

Gratitude is the antidote to desire.  How is it that as a culture we have created the story that Thursday is the day to slow down, celebrate all that we already have and experience gratitude. Then comes black Friday where we are encouraged to hurry up, get to the store and compete with each other to satisfy our never ending need for things. Cultivating true gratitude will alleviate the need for the latest, greatest, cheapest goods and will allow love, respect and joy to be elevated in your marriage and beyond.

Here are a few ways to keep the focus on gratitude and kindness this holiday season… Continue reading How to cultivate gratitude in your marriage this holiday season.

Communication in marriage is key for sex after kids.

Communication in marriage is a really important part of keeping your sex life active and fulfilling.  In a recent survey put together by YourTango and Trojan 1,055 parents were asked about their sex life post kids. Respondents answered 35 questions about their sex life. The info graphic below sums up the results quite well. While some of the results were to be expected, parents are tired and have much less time than they did prior to having children. What was surprising is that 40% of respondents said their communication was better post kids. So many couples struggle with what ends up as a sexless marriage. Avoiding this outcome requires learning what role communication in marriage play in your post kids sex life?  Continue reading Communication in marriage is key for sex after kids.

Dr. Heitler Featured in LHJ’s Can This Marriage Be Saved

She’s at it again.  Yes, saving marriages — while that happens everyday around here, it’s always fun when the story is told in a broader way.

Dr. Heitler and a gracious couple have shared the story of how this couple, with some first rate help and skills, rescued their marriage.  The couple came to Dr. Heitler because their sexless marriage needed help.  The wife’s chronic pain condition further complicated the matter.  When she discovered him using a porn website she realized it was time for a serious lesson in how to communicate with your spouse if they wanted to save the marriage.

Read the whole happy story here.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians (Isn’t Hard)

We thought we’d take a look reality tv favorites and share thoughts about relationships.

First up!  Scott and Kourtney have a key party on Keeping Up With the Kardashians:

These are two beautiful humans but boy do they behave like babies.  Scott is the number one baby in the family (and I’m counting Mason).   Kourtney should assign household chores to her assistants and producers and leave Scott’s responsibilities at lookin’ pretty and chilling with his horrible friends.

Clearly Kourtney is upset that she’s married a manchild who can’t handle basic adult duties.  However she can’t throw keys at the problem.  You can solve a lot of problems by throwing keys at them, but in this case it only makes it worse.   She tries to “teach him a lesson,” never a fun move.    I always find that “demonstrating” something to my wife backfires, and all I really demonstrate is that we tend to waste time being annoyed at each other instead of saying whats really on our minds.   I think Kourtney could have got what she wanted much more easily if she just asked him nicely, and explained what she was worried about.  Scott is a totally reasonable guy ha haha ha ha oh my goodness I’m sorry that’s hard to say with a straight face.  Scott is a somewhat intelligent guy who would probably understand a basic concern for safety with their newborn son in the house.

LESSON: Don’t throw keys, its not the keys’ fault.    Don’t try to teach your partner a lesson, they aren’t a student in your 7th grade algebra class.   Use your mouth and brain to say what you think.  Also, don’t be on a reality show.   Check out this video from Dr. Hirsch about why its important to “Say it” when you have something on your mind.

–Daniel

Psych Central just posted an article about communication pitfalls featuring Power of Two founder Dr. Susan Heitler.

Here’s the top 5 pitfalls list.

  1. Not knowing the rules
  2. Aiming for compromise
  3. Playing pin the tail on the donkey
  4. Letting escalating emotions take over
  5. Thinking that marriage is like walking

Got you curious? Here’s the article. http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/5-communication-pitfalls-and-pointers-for-couples/

Want the good news?  You can learn how to communicate like a pro with a Power of Two Online membership.

“Power of Two: Skills for a Strong and Loving Marriage” gets 5 out of 5 STARS!

Not to brag… Well, Okay, to brag just a little… Dr. Heitler’s book, The Power of Two: Secrets to a Strong & Loving Marriage received 5 stars from Denver’s Marriage Communication Examiner, Tammy Wagner.  Tammy recommends the book to dating couples, engaged couples, newlyweds, and marriage pros alike.

Read the review… then, read the book!