Archive: January, 2012

And you thought we would announce our book with a big bang?

Well, we didn’t. We are whispering to you. Shhhh, the book is out, ready to be perused and appreciated by you. We are whispering because we don’t want to make too much fuss. We know that those of you who knew the book would be out shortly don’t need any fanfare. And those of you who didn’t know about the book… well, now you know too, if you are reading this blog. You probably wouldn’t be reading it if you were not looking for help with your relationship. So, we are pleased to tell you that you are in the right place!

Susan and I worked like two little ants for months and months to get our book, “Couples at the Crossroads. Five Steps to Finding Your Way Back to Love” ready for you. Then, when we finally thought it was ready, we “snuck” it in and, voila, here it is, on Amazon.com.

How do we feel about it? Almost like we had to let go of a dear friend who had been with us for years. We knew all along that one day we would have to let go of this friend; that we would have to push our feelings of wanting to be together forever aside and support his move toward independence, but it was difficult nonetheless to say goodbye. With letting go of the book, it was difficult to stop our tendency to make one more revision, one more comment, one little correction here or there, one more clarification; one more idea… Once the book was finished, we knew we had to let go, and we finally did.

It also feels a little scary, as you and everybody else can now buy our book, read it and make comments on what we said, how we said it; what we left out and what we said more than once.

But, above all, we feel excited and very, very happy. We truly believe our book can provide help for couples like you who struggle in their relationships and are desperate to understand how they got where they are; how they can find a clear path to follow and acquire the necessary tools to move out of the pain. We know the book will be helpful to you because it contains a lot of the same things we speak of in our clinical sessions with couples. And we see how these couples, slowly but surely, begin to move from their place of pain to a place of gradual openness, as they become more hopeful. We see them when they begin to look at each other with different eyes; reverse the previous patterns of mutual hostility and disconnection, and find love for one another again.

What do you think? Interested? Do you want to check our book out? Click on the link below and the book will open in a new window or tab. Just open the first page and scroll through its Table of Contents, Preface and Introduction. This brief preview will make you want to know more…

Couples at the Crossroads

Couples at the Crossroads: Five Steps to Finding Your Way Back to Love – Preview

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Do you really need another blog on New Year’s Resolutions?

Yes, because despite all the good advice available everywhere, very few people succeed with their New Year’s resolutions in the long run. We know, for instance, that 60% of the people who set losing weight as their New Year’s resolution, have regained all their weight and more by July, only six months later.

 Why?

 Old habits are hard to shed, no matter how much you try to motivate yourself by convincing, cajoling and blackmailing. Our brain tends to repeat what’s familiar and comfortable, even if dysfunctional, so new habits are difficult to stick to, particularly if we don’t pay all the attention required to keep them in the forefront of our minds. And when I say we need to pay attention, I mean paying CONSTANT attention, at least at the beginning, until these habits get established and become like second nature. So, you can’t do one thing and think about the next one, for instance, because this would mean that one thing will get done automatically, while your mind is engaged in something else. So, whatever you chose to do, you need to be mindful of what you are doing at the moment, and focus on it at the exclusion of everything else until you are done.

Remember one thing: the more you try, the more you will increase your chances to succeed. And, even if you don’t succeed as much and for as long as you would like, you will still be ahead than if you had done nothing, so acknowledge that to yourself and try again.

Before getting started, it is important to take inventory of your assets and liabilities by looking at your history: how successful have you been in the past when you set goals for yourself? What seemed to increase your chances of succeeding, and what held you back? What happened that made you lose your initial motivation? Was it something in particular that got you discouraged, like achieving your goal was taking longer and was more difficult than you had anticipated, or you became distracted along the way by some external stressor that took precedence and sidetracked you?

Write down as much as you remember from previous experiences where you failed, or were only partially successful. Then, using that information, set out to create new goals fro yourself, by using past experiences as a benchmark for your current goals. So, for instance, if you were more successful in staying fit when you went to the gym in the morning prior to going to work, rather than in the evening, set your schedule up that way again.

Create accountability and a reward system for yourself. Having a trainer, for instance, a person who weighs you regularly, a neighbor who walks with you daily, a partner willing to set similar goals with you, or signing up for a class increase your chances of succeeding because these joint activities make you accountable not only to yourself but to others as well. People who set up to achieve their New Year’s resolutions alone have a success rate of only 29%, versus the 59% success rate of people who do so with others. Involving others increases motivation because you may not want to lose face or let the other person down. You want to be admired and looked up to; you want to be respected and liked, or like the challenge of competition.

Keep track of your successes as you go along, as this reminds you of how much you have already achieved, creating added incentive to continue on the same path.

And now that you are ready to get started, set your goals for 2012 and go, supporting yourself along the way!

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How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

We get our hearts broken so easily yet the heart is also so resilient. What to do when our heart is broken? Be angry to mask the hurt? Be sad to feel the loss? Be glib to not feel the pain? Reflect on all these emotions and other emotions that come up? How to learn to listen inside?

The situation can feel so difficult that we cannot even breathe. We might not know how to love or be loved, and now we are with a broken heart.

We do not know where to turn. We may feel shame in the midst of the loss. We may feel bewildered and overwhelmed as we do not know ‘what to do’. In fact, there may be nothing to do.

What if this rift and breaking of the heart has happened so we become aware of the totality of our personality? We are stripped of our outer defenses or the various garb we wear to cover our feelings and shield us from life. We are sensitive beings and have maybe been living out of alignment with the feelings for others and ourselves. We might have been unconsciously cheating on the fullness life can give. Perhaps we made the wrong bargain to settle for less. We went for security not love.

The beings that we are, made of mind, body and soul are requiring us to face what we never thought we could. We were in the midst of a love song that stopped. The melody and the words began to fade. And, we may not have been noticing. Telling ourselves it was not the way we knew it was. Denial, avoidance, disappointment all piled up and now we have to feel the residue. The catch in our stomach or throat are not letting us off the hook.

Does the broken heart mend fast? No. Does it mend? Yes. But, it takes time. Listening within is a process. We are drawn from the outer focus to inner. We hear the beat of our heart and little else. The reactions we have will give clues into how we have coped with loss in our life before, and even from childhood on. We become aware of more levels than the present as we might have lost touch with our emotions and in the process forgotten who we are.

We are feeling helpless and vulnerable. Our anchors are gone and the old and familiar is diffused into dust. It is no more.

Out of this dust we have to re-gather the shreds of our selves and put them together like Humpty Dumpty who fell off the wall and never was together again. We will be together but like in that story, not in the same way. In fact, something had to break apart. Unbeknownst to us, our relationship was too rigid, too taken for granted and therefore lacking the viability of its life energy.

Hearts are mended slowly, over time, with help. Different forms of love and different awareness arise without the old and known path. Stepping onto a new path happens through attention to daily life and habits and dreams that open a spectrum of the world, and the unconscious. We are facing the crossroads–of transition from how it has been to the reality of what it is now and how the future will unfold in other ways than we thought or planned. It might help to remember that this has occurred because we are compelled to find the value and learning in the suffering heart so our personality can grow and we can move onto wider ground.

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Renewing the Old

Relationships that have gone on for years are in danger. People assume they will remain together when they begin, but divorce and separation rates are becoming higher for older adults. This may seem surprising. However, with longer life spans, comes the advent of realizing life does not just go on and on. This brings people to an awareness that they can and need to do now, what they’ve always wished. One or the other, or both, in a couple may have unwittingly sacrificed for the other or for the sake of the relationship. Seemingly, out of the blue an event occurs that causes people who have been together for years to be unable to go on.

Now, they might decide to go separate ways. They acknowledge that whatever they cannot stand about a partner is just too much. There is no going back and they must leave. There was too much sacrifice or too many awful experiences.

And, there is another option. They could mutually decide to open new doors, try new things, see what this partner of so many years is really about. This latter option may be both the hardest and the most rewarding. After all, you chose this person as a partner for many reasons, but the decision was made so many years ago. Do you know why? Are you conscious of the reasons why you stay or want to go? Have you explored the reasons for remaining and what you get and do not get? And, have you done all this reflection with each other? Is it possible to now become emotionally intimate?

Being together many years means you might have love, understanding, shared experiences and you may also just have routine. The routine can be comforting but can also signal that there are many unexamined areas of your relationship. For example, for years you or your partner may assume a certain like or dislike about something. This may have been true, but is true no longer. Do you check on what you assume? Do you express love and affection, not the perfunctory kind, but the real from the heart kind? Do you create surprises for each other? Do you act like you would if this was not your partner of so many years?

These are all things to consider no matter how long you have been together. It is worth it to re-examine what you have and what you want. Can you do this together and create and re-create something out of what you have? This may be possible as both partners decide to explore something new and to make it happen.

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Will You Still Love Me if I Gain 100 Pounds?

This title is and is not to be taken literally. It represents something people think should happen and that is called unconditional love. But that also might just imply going unconscious, not taking care of oneself and then being loved for self-disregard. Change in a partner has meaning for that person and for you. This may open a time for reflecting on the quality of your life together, how you treat each other and how supportive you can both be when the going gets rough. This is the true measure of self-love, consciousness and the kind of acceptance that leads to creating a safe and healthy relationship.

 Love means that you love yourself as well as value being loved. It is many-layered. When you are having a hard time, you can ask for help, receive it and give it when your partner is in need as well. If you appreciate and value yourself, you will try to have a similar attitude in your primary relationship. If you are uncaring about yourself, how will you be with others? Uncaring? Expecting your partner to save you without saying what is going on?  Or are you accepting the unacceptable without exploring this with your partner? This would mean you are acting unconsciously, not finding out what is really behind it all and thus manifesting disregard? 

 We recognize that people change in ways we cannot know at the beginning. Because we love and care for them, we remain. We discuss the change, what it means for each person and the emotions going alone with it together. We are forced to bring up issues neither partner thought they would have to face. For example, someone might get into a serious medical or emotional space and their personhood is altered as a result. Or, the metaphorical gain in weight or change in being may represent something that is going on under the surface. It may signal something serious. It may not be only emotional or psychological or it may be. Any alteration in how we have been indicates something. Remember, it is not always or only about us, but most probably is something to figure out together.

Do not assume your partner cannot just resist the dessert or merely exercise but maybe your partner is compelled to eat from a variety of inner and outer situations that you may not know about. The first step might be to get a medical exam. Check out the physical issues to see why there is a change in the person you love. In addition, there might be emotional issues your partner is experiencing that he or she has not been able to talk about. So, be open to what is going on. Do not wait. Ask questions. Be available and receptive to whatever. There is meaning in this for you, your partner and your relationship. The crisis may be the necessary catalyst to get the attention needed for growth and development.

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