This is why your sorry doesn’t work. — August 28, 2017

This is why your sorry doesn’t work.

4 Steps That Will Make You Show Your Caring.

The art of the apology is a beautiful thing.

But simply saying I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you, is not one of the actions.

There are at least 4 key actions to an actual apology.  Do this and you might begin to repair you partner’s hurt heart.


The key moments in a relationship can happen on a microscopic level.  Ever been totally blindsided about what your partner is upset about?

Frequently we feel somewhat blameless or that we’ve done nothing really wrong.

Think you have nothing to apologize for.  Just do a double check.  In case you do need a reminder of something as we talk about the four key actions.


How Have I Hurt You Let Me Count The Ways

Sometimes we have a hard time seeing just how we may have offended our partner or hurt them.  Here is an inventory of ways we can hurt our partner without even realizing it.  Once you know then you can begin to make amends.

Read over the sheet below to help you see if you are loving as sweetly as you could.

To LOVE (mark yes if you get all three yes below, if not sorry, mark No)
    1. Do you show an act of affections daily to your partner?
    2. Do you work to love them in the way THEY like to be loved (romance, kissing, or sex)
    3. Do you willing participate in things THEY think are important        yes/ no
To HONOR (mark yes if you get all three.  If not mark NO)
  1. Do you show words of admiration about your spouse accomplishments or qualities to them or others?
  2. Do you stop or interrupt others who want to “trash” or criticize your partner?
  3. Do You place Value on their needs, wants, values, and dreams                    yes/no
To CHERISH (if yes to all three mark yes)
  1. Do you cooperate on working on your marriage or relationship?
  2. Do you willingly participate in “we need to talk” times?
  3. Do you put down what you are doing to listen or spend times with your partner when they wish it?                                                                                                     yes/no
This is your final step
  • If you marked yes to 8-9 that is amazing keep it up
  • If you marked yes to 5 or more you are getting there
  • If you marked yes to 4 or less it’s time to make amends
  • But first find the SAY IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT sheet for a proper apology.    


Now You Know Where to Begin Discussing Hurts and Offenses, Check in With Your Partner and Find Out

Now armed with a few ideas you are ready for our 4 key actions.

It’s easy if you have had major injuries such as an affair, texting, or some sort of other secrecy. Well, not easy in the sense of getting through it, but easy to identify that this is a repair moment in the relationship.

What about the day to day. What about living with one another and trying to navigate the ins and outs of a relationship.

Why would it be important to talk about repair if in fact, none of the really big stuff above has happened in your relationship.

Well you may think that you know what repairs mean.  You may think it means saying sorry.   In fact that’s a really nice pat on the head at best, but not an official Repair.   It’s  Not an actual apology.

Actually the “Little stuff “is really big deal.  Over and over again the “little stuff” can really sour a relationship if it’s not tended to.

Understanding how we have hurt our partner might be easier if we talk about hurt feelings. 

The clue that hurt feelings provide are just that, a clue that someone has taken a hit. Something we’ve done, something we didn’t do or didn’t say has hit a nerve with our partner. Typically this has to do with whether they feel wanted, accepted,  and connected to you.  This can be way more subtle than we would guess as shown in the checklist.

Here are some of the day-to-day subtle ways we can hurt our partner.

  • Brushing off their protests or indicators that they have been hurt.
  • Listening for just a moment, departing the conversation before they can really say how they feel.
  • Saying Sorry, too soon without the other steps you are about to learn.
  • Defending your actions by criticizing their actions.

Now you may agree that you’ve done some of those things.  However you might be highly offended to think that those would cause an injury. Is that really something which you would need to make a repair?

Oh come on, why can’t they just get over it.   They know I didn’t mean it.

Well you or I might never feel injured by such a thing.  Thinking that way won’t help. Just like fingerprints, eye color and DNA, what effects each of us is different and VALID. Telling someone it’s not such a big deal is not gonna help them.  In fact it will makes things worse.

And here’s why.

You and I are not in charge of what hurts another person’s feelings or what helps them feel insecure, lost or lonely. That person, and only that person has the ability to say what hurts them.

Now if we want to argue with them, for sure we will be in trouble because you never can convince someone that they’re not hurt if they are.

So our only hope of  healing with our partner is to truly listen and when required offer an Actual Apology.  Having a happy, healthy relationship means to work on building the ritual and the practice of apology inside of the relationship.

The faster we get to it the quicker we can go on together, connected and whole.

What is an Actual Apology

I’m sorry won’t really hold any weight. They didn’t when you were little and you were forced to say them to a brother or sister and they don’t always have the effect you hope.

Say It Like You Mean It

Quite regularly, in long term relationships, we hurt one another.  We don’t always mean to; however, the wear and tear of sloppy or thoughtless actions can take their toll.  Perhaps your partner has told you where you have hurt them.   If not the first part of this exercise is to take the results of your HOW HAVE I HURT YOU LET ME COUNT THE WAYS check sheet and check in with your partner using the following outline, then proceed on to the second part for a TRUE APOLOGY in SAY IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT which follows.  The following guide will quickly help you turn your partners hurts into opportunities to make amends and heal their feelings.

We don’t just need our partner to hear us when we talk, we need to feel like you “GET ME”.   Research says most of us just want to feel listened to.

Try This:   From your list above pick a number where you feel you have not been up to par with your partner, check it out with them

Ask to speak to them and begin

  • I want you to know I care.
  • I Fear/ I Know I Have Done….
  • This [insert number](fill these in from HOW Have I Hurt You…)
  • And It Has Hurt You.  
  • May I Talk With You About IT?  

Now It is time to Truly Listen and tell them how Their Feelings Make Sense.

Read here for some quick pointers on actually listening.

Remember the key actions in the apology are to convey you care, that their feelings make sense to you , acknowledge you hurt them, share how you feel when you think of hurting them like that, and ask to make amends for the hurt you have caused.

And There You Have It:  The Art of A True Apology

Put your Actual Apology into a regular process and you will have a wonderful new ritual for making amends and repairing the little and the not so little hurts in a relationship.

Here’s to keeping your relationships strong in good times and in ……not so good times.  Life happens and its what we do with it that makes us either a stronger couple or derails us.

Up Next:  Tried Your Apologies, again and again and you don’t feel they are working or being accepted.     Look for Next Weeks Blog     The Journey To Forgiveness

There Is Much At Stake Do What Is Great.

What have been some tricky things you have tried to apologize for and what has happened.   Send me a quick reply.  I am curious to know where it gets hard for you.

 What have been some tricky things you have tried to apologize for and what has happened.   Send me a quick reply.  I am curious to know where it gets hard for you.


Click here for a Complimentary Breakthrough Consultation with Monica


Warmest Wishes,


5 Key Ways To Avoiding Sexual Rejection — August 21, 2017

5 Key Ways To Avoiding Sexual Rejection

Couples who talk about sex have a greater degree of satisfaction than those that just let it happen.  ( but I don’t mean the post sex, upset in the dark kind of talking). Talking about your sex is a very intimate way to express your feelings and your needs. It helps your partner get in sync with your feelings and your needs leading to a more intimate expression between you.

Believe it or not, even in a mature relationship, inviting someone to be intimate with you is a very risky proposition. If you’re not usually the initiator then you might not understand what I’m talking about. Since couples have very different arousal patterns very often one of you is the initiator.  The other one is perhaps almost always deciding whether you were going to receive that invitation. I’ll be careful, it might often fall along gender lines but it doesn’t have to.

Can you imagine if every time you would like to close to your partner you risk being told no or having your hands pushed away. So it’s helpful to take some new steps to prepare for the fact that we are never ready exactly at the same time spontaneously. So here are some tools to help you prepare to handle a pretty usual wish you in a couple.

If you can, think ahead  and plan some time to talk.  A useful conversation to have to help potential rejection and hurt feelings is the following.

Pick a time that is nowhere near an intimate event. Be curious and soft, start by saying hey I just want to be more kind and I want to be thoughtful or careful I don’t want to hurt your feelings so could I ask if you questions:

*What would you like me to do or say if I’m in the mood for sex and you are not?

*What if it’s reversed and you really are in the mood and I’m not what would be an OK way for me to say that I’d like a rain check.?

*Sometimes if one of us doesn’t really want to have sex but is afraid to say no, what would be some things I could do that would make it less pressure if you need to say not now?

*If you don’t know whether you want to have sex or not, what are some things that are OK for me to do until you know? Are you OK with me trying to get you in the mood? What kind of things are OK for me to try then?

If you’re groaning about this, saying oh my gosh we would never have these conversations, I be to embarrassed.

Welcome to the club. Although couples maybe do sex you’d be surprised at how often they don’t talk about sex.

You might need some more information. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and listen to the podcast in which I talk about the five dimensions of touch and explain those. In that audio you will hear all kinds of ways you can talk about the behaviors of sex so that you have the language and you’re not stumbling around trying to find the right words.

Sometimes it helps to have a new way to describe what you like and when you like it.
Listen to Monica describe the five dimensions of touch
as well as what turns on the brakes for you.  Having a shared sexual language can make these conversations a little more constructive and kind.

Click Here To Listen To More Ways

Here’s to conversations with happy endings 😉
Warmest Wishes

Click here to see our website

Choosing The Right Couple’s Counselor. — August 14, 2017

Choosing The Right Couple’s Counselor.

It might be time, as much as you don’t want to, you have decided to look into couples counseling.  When you do I want you to have all the information you need to make the most important decision of you life, inviting someone into your relationship. It matters who you choose. your love and your dreams are at stake.

What You Need To Know To Find The

Right Couples’ Counseling

Solution For You?


Here is a done for you list of questions to ask a potential Couple’s Counselor Therapist over the phone. In Couples’ Therapy and Sex Or Intimacy Therapy?

  1. How Will You Help Restore Our Connection, Heal Our Wounds and Deepen Our Intimacy As A Couple?
  2. Will You Give Us a Personalized Written Plan About Our Goals of Therapy?
  3. What Do You Believe About Marriage, Do You Ever Recommend A Couple Divorce……..And Why?
  4. Can You Tell Me About Your LongTerm Results With Different Types Of Couples You Work With? Have You Worked With Affair Couples 2, 3, 4 ++++Years Through The Affair.  Have You Worked With Couples To Restore Their Communication, and Sexual Intimacy?
  5. Most Therapists Have Basic Therapist’s Training Requirements………but do You Have Training IN
    1. Specialty Training In Couples Emotionally Focused Therapy and Attachment Therapy (Gottmann and Johnson Models)
    2. Certified National Sex Therapist (to manage intimacy, function, desire and affair recovery issues.
  6. How Long Do You Think We Will Be In Therapy With You?……
  7. What is Your Treatment Schedule Like For Us to Accelerate Our Healing and Reduce Our Pain?
  8. Do You Have Extended Hours or Retreats to Offer Us If We Prefer To Come For Longer Couples Retreat?
  9. What If I Have A Trip Coming Up Is There Anything We Can Do?
  10. Is there anything available other than week to week appointments
  11. How Long Are Weekly Sessions? Is That All You Offer?
  12. Will You See Us By Ourselves Alone First If I Want To Come Alone or They Want To Come Alone? Should We Fix Ourselves And Then Work On The Marriage?
  13. How Do They Keep Couples From Fighting In Your Office, What Do You Do To Ensure BOTH PEOPLE FEEL HEARD, ACCEPTED AND INCLUDED?

Want to more about therapists are trained to do couple’s therapy.  It is your right to know since you need the best chances to have a healthy, happy marriage.

You deserve to have the chance to have a healthy, happy marriage.

The counseling community is like the medical community but also a bit different.  For example, doctors go to medical school and when they graduate, if they would like to be a pediatrician, OB GYN or cardiologist they go on to receive specialty training before they ever think to try to help people with Heart Issues, etc.  This is what we call going to a specialist.

Well, in the counseling community there are two extremes of which to be aware.  On one end we have relationship coaches who are not required to have any training, education, or licenses……so anyone can call themselves a coach.  On the other end there are professional counselors and therapists like me who have a degree, supervision, continuing education, licenses and governed by state licensing divisions.

The general counselor will see kids, seniors, 10 different individual issues and then put two folks in the room to talk and call it couples counseling.  What happens is they try to use the same methods they use on individuals and every other issue they see.  This may be why couples are very nervous to go to counseling.  Many go just a time or two and feel they, the couple, have failed.  When in fact, perhaps they didn’t really receive the best treatment.

While it is very difficult to know exactly how long you will need with 100% certainty…we do know the research shows that 75-80% need 15-20 hours to make significant improvement. Often times young pre-marital couples need only 10 hours…but as they get to living life as a married couple they discover new challenges that may require a little more time with us.  You also can imagine if your hurts are very traumatic or longstanding then you know we will create a plan to Repair, Build Skills and Rekindle your relationship and make it stick over time.


If you want to communicate with your spouse again in a way that feels like they

really understand you,

If you want to connect and rebuild the trust between you so you can share the

deepest part of yourself again,

If you want to relax, and feel close  both emotionally and physically, even

Fall back in love again…..You may want to choose a specialist for your relationship.

Still Nervous About The Process I Am Happy To Help?

In this 15-30 minute Q&A, Monica will give you the straight answers on what can be accomplished with Couples and Intimacy Counseling and what cannot.  I am happy to answer your questions.

Here’s Your Next Step:

Take A Peek At Monica’s Calendar To Grab A Time.

or if you prefer

  1. Call into my office (636) 583-7738  and a real live person will answer the phone.
  2. Just ask to book a Complimentary Breakthrough Consultation with Monica and they will find a time we can talk.

If you have any questions, contact me  at (that is my email) and I am happy to answer  or set the time myself.

Monica Houttuin, LCSW, CST

(636) 583-7738

Want To Stop Drowning NOW — July 22, 2017

Want To Stop Drowning NOW

Help for the drowning.

Do you feel like you’re gasping for your last breath?

You’re screaming for help but they don’t hear you?

Are you on the verge of giving up?
Have you stopped trying; afraid your partner will never change?

Have you given up trying to improve your marriage as a result?

Here’s what’s actually causing you to feel like you’re drowning:

You’re struggling because you may be helpless, hopeless, and stuck…

And above anything else we hate that feeling and will do anything to get away from it.

Here’s one of the most common places couples feel this stuckness and Why you hate feeling stuck…
And possibly why you’re mad at your partner and yourself.
I know you’d give anything to feel the warm arms around you and them deeply look in your eyes with the sense that you were both on the same team again. Just think how that would calm your heart down.

Then you could actually take a breath and relax into the dream you had for the two of you. What’s going on. Why can’t we get to the bottom of this.

This is what is supposed to be going on in an intimate relationship.  You are looking for a partner that you can feel safe, secure someone to which you can feel bonded.  When that happens it is like a nerve tranquilizer to our insides.  We feel a sense of ease and calm.  Contentment and safety in the world.  We layer that with some sexual freedom and intimate bonding and now you have a recipe for a happy healthy adult/couple.

That’s the good news, that is what happens when we have open and caring exchange of sharing and receiving of ideas dreams and feelings.

But the bad news is if I no longer feel YOU ARE THERE for me then my whole system gets in an uproar and yes you literally can feel sick.  So being stuck and not able to reach your partner becomes an utter panic on the inside and your whole system can go into alarm mode (fight, flight, or freeze).  This is where some of our worst battles or silent treatments come from.

feelings falling

You Just Don’t Understand Me Anymore.

How To Answer the Question A.R. E. YOU THERE FOR ME?

Really if you think about it the most troubling thing about being on the outs or in a tiff with your partner is that you or they don’t feel ENGAGED in a loving way with one another.  Researchers like Sue Johnson (author of Hold Me Tight creator of EFT Therapy) states that it is this felt sense of accessibility, responsiveness and engagement that creates the feeling of a loving supported relationship.

Don’t have enough of those things in a relationship and the sinking feeling begins leading to all kinds of attempts to make it right.  Sometimes we make it worse with all the ways we try to “communicate”.  Left to its own devices we start to feel that horrible drowning feeling.  It’s really scary; our sense of security, love and affection is at risk.

So What Is A.R.E.?

A = Accessibility

If I need you and I reach out for you will you be there.  Am I important enough to you for you to make the time, effort, and access for me.  Are you tuned in to my channel when we are apart or when we are near.  Am I on your radar?

Sample Question:

  1. I can get my partner’s attention easily. T/F
  2. My partner shows that I come first. T/F


R = Responsiveness

Because we are part of an intimate team our nerves are really connected.  How you feel effects me.  When I share with you the joys and the upsets do you interact with my emotions and make attempts to soothe me or celebrate with me?  Do you care about me?  Can I let down my guard and feel safe in our world?

Sample Question

  1. If I need connection and comfort, he/she will be there for me. T/F
  2. Even when we fight or disagree, I know that I am important to my partner and we will find a way to come together. T/F

E = Engagement

It’s fair to say that almost everyone wants to see their partner wanting to be involved with you.  Who doesn’t like knowing that your partner is attracted to you and finds you valuable.  Think about the yummy feeling you enjoyed early on in the relationship.  You want to know your partner is really into you and is on your side.

Sample Question

  1. I feel comfortable that even when we are apart, that we are connected to each other. T/F
  2. I feel very comfortable begin close to, trusting my partner. T/F

How did you do?  It is just a taste, but it might give you an idea of where in the relationship the disconnect is, accessibility, responsiveness, or engagement.

Are you curious where your relationship falls on the A.R.E. scale? Take the test in the link at the bottom of the page to find out more.  (Remember this is just from your perspective).  

(2) Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, Dr. Sue Johnson (2008) pp 57-58.

We hate feeling stuck! So think about it if every time you get together with someone you feel that sense of the tension and discomfort.  It only escalates to a point of feeling stuck and unresolved… Right, it’s uncomfortable for both of you and it makes you believe that you don’t care for one another or worse.  You really are not convinced that they are there for you.

Here’s how to help yourself and help your partner get unstuck. Just like in the airplane they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself and then on your partner.

Reality Check:  We have to stop the blame game and begin to look deeply into what roles each of us play in our communication pattern.  Even if you have squarely decided that your partner is not “there” for you by reading about the A.R.E Questionnaire, WE still have to do something differently to interrupt the status quo.

Maybe we are not on the same team anymore.

Almost certainly there are times in  your  relationship where you have become isolated, lost and lonely.  Perhaps you have even spent a lot of time thinking why it is their fault.  This may  satisfy a little whisper that says see I am right, but  it does nothing to get you what you really want.

So what is it that you intend to do when you become sad, lonely, hurt and angry?

Let’s look how you can apply the information from A.R.E.  

  1. Apply: Begin first to look at yourself, are you meeting your partner’s needs from the A.R.E list, are there some of the 15 behaviors you could offer already to provide a more secure and loving attachment to them.
  2. Invite: Consider sharing that you found this quiz that could really help you understand how to be more loving to them, would they take it.
  3. Inquire: Find out what they discovered about you and themselves from the quiz.
  4. Share your results: Here is what I found out I need to do more of, here’s how I really like to be cared for.
  5. Create A Constructive Plan: Find out from them if there is a thing or two they really wish you would do more or less of.  Be Brave.  Perhaps they will want to know about you as well, or you can offer to share this with them too.

The above 5 steps, have the potential for many land mines.  Asking them to participate, getting them to share, oh and the conversation that comes next of course can be a huge  blow up just continuing the old patterns that helped you feel stuck in the first place.

Check Out This Blog On Negative Communication Patterns And How To Spot Yours

Or if you dare, and your brain will love this, you can have a brand new conversation about how each of you could be there for one another.  You Now ARE NOT STUCK.  If you truly knew what your partner needed to feel that you A.R.E. there for them it could be a game changer for the two of you.

WARNING:  If you take this quiz and then tell them all the ways they are not there for you, guess what, you will get nowhere, or even worse.  That negative cycle will rear its ugly head and you are off and running.  Be careful and follow the above 5 steps.


Marriage Myth Number 4 !   Why just talking more doesn’t help, we need to be there and repair.

4 Surprisingly Common Ways To Ruin Your Marriage Quickly and Forever… Or Not.


Take the A.R.E Questionarre Here.


Monica Houttuin, LCSW, CST

Couples and Intimacy Specialist


Even with my DARK side?…Will you love me… — July 17, 2017

Even with my DARK side?…Will you love me…

 There’s a place that I know, It’s not pretty there and few have ever gone

If I show it to you now, Will it make you run away

Or will you stay

Even if I try to push you out,  Will you return?  Everybody’s got a dark side

Do you love me?,  Can you love mine?

Nobody’s a picture perfect,  But we’re worth it, You know that we’re worth it

Will you love me?,  Even with my dark side?

Like a diamond,  From black dust It’s hard to know,  what it can become

If you give up,  So don’t give up on me, Please remind me who I really am

Everybody’s got a dark side

Do you love me?,  Can you love mine?

Nobody’s a picture perfect.    But we’re worth it,  You know that we’re worth it

Will you love me?, …Even with my dark side?

As the song says, we all can be diamonds in the rough.  I think on a day to day basis in every relationship it’s challenging to acknowledge that each of us has the ability to be hurtful to our partner.  In a few paragraphs, we will talk more about this, nobody’s picture perfect, but will you love me?

Before we go racing for what’s wrong with the two of you, let’s take a moment to go and revisit the past.


1.  What really caught your eye when you and your partner first met?

2.  How did you feel inside when they noticed you?

3.  When you did have a spat, what would happen way in the past?

4.  Would you see yourself  turning toward and accepting their attempts to make up or figure it out?

This was your couple Communication Pattern way back in the day.

If you’ve been together for any length of time chances are you’ve developed a negative communication pattern.

How does it get this way?

Believe it or not anger is not to blame! Well, not all by itself!

You still have remnants of your original pattern but over time and the years you’ve developed some negative patterns as well.
How did it get this way? Well settle in because it’s a complicated result of some very basic instincts.

A lot of people think that we are reacting out of anger when we are behaving in upsetting and hurtful ways with our partner.

In fact I would tell you that for the most part we are trying to protect ourselves.  From what?

Even in “calm” couples, the brain is still trying hard to protect us from our primary emotions like (sadness,  fear, loss and hurt).

You might be familiar with the thought that for every one negative you must then offer 10 positives. The brain is very sensitive to upset and overwhelmed and, in fact, this might be some of the key reasons we begin to have difficulty with our communication our relationship.

Over time the little comments and the little hurts can build and this is why you might be resisting feeling those good feelings from when you first met.  You can build up a negative way of thinking about your partner in general and it’s hard to break through that sometimes. The brain sees them as a threat, something that can upset us and cause us to feel pain.  It begins to try to protect us. Some of us go into attack mode and some of us go into defend or avoid.

Now as much as we’d like to blame our partner for every reaction that we have, it’s just not true. Most of us come preloaded with a full set of hurts from the years that we have been living prior to being in a relationship with our partner. Not that I’m gonna go into it but do you know hurts from growing up and passed romances can affect your current relationship?
We bring all of that to the relationship and begin to try to “communicate”.  It really is as hard for them as it is for you. If you are the pursuer or “attacker” you may think they never listen or don’t care, but on the other side they’re hurting too, overwhelmed uncomfortable and trying to get away.

See what happens right now if you take a small break and try to think of five complementary words for your partner. Please do this in 10 seconds.…….How did you do? All right let’s cut them a little bit of a break and see if we can’t try to figure this out.

It’s not just me.

I hope it was easy enough after you told the story of how you met. Maybe it was easy enough to think about all the reasons that you picked this person. Remember how they made you feel. REMEMBER how they were on your side.
Now do them and yourself a very special favor.  Let’s take a minute to think about how you act in the middle of a negative pattern with your partner.

Why am I picking on you? Not because it’s your fault or you’re worse than they are.  No it’s because it’s too easy to tell me what they do wrong, that doesn’t really help us crack the code.

We need to recognize that we both play a part in the pattern. When we understand that then we are able to take on the negative communication pattern together. So here goes, be brave, and you don’t have to tell your partner yet.

If you read the blog for anytime you do know about the 4 evils in a relationship: contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling, and criticism.  You know we’re not supposed to do these four horrible deadly things in a relationship. If you are like most of us you’re not very good at stopping when you’re in the middle of these things.  No one is?

So if you understand the four deadly things, look below at the grid so you can see what you should do instead.

Couples who master these four do these things:

Communicate in a pro couple way!

It’s not just “bad couples” or ones doomed for break up that fight.  All couples do, find out what else they do.

All couples “fight “, what that really means is you just have things you agree on and things if you don’t agree on and the devil is in the details.

How you work that out can either be a collaboration of methods or a a tense ball of reactions.  That reacting or protecting for couples can lead to a negative couple pattern that bothers you and sometimes causes you to hurt one another.

It is entirely possible to argue and “fight “but not actually damage your relationship depending upon how you do it.

What every couple needs to know about fair fighting rules.

You know your own motives.  Do you know whether you’re using fair fighting rules or you’re fighting dirty? If you don’t, look at the link above to take a quick refresher.

I’m pretty sure that your motives are not evil or negative or trying to be hurtful. If we can think that our intention is not to harm them but that we’re just trying to “work things out”, then isn’t it possible, just a little, that’s what our partners trying to do.

Couples are trying to figure out who started it or claim they were not to blame but this is what the typical couples communication pattern looks like. I can’t find the START or the end and often neither can couples.

Want to take the punch out of your fighting style? What I mean is if you could name it then you can understand it. If you know what you do then you can kind of predict what’s going to come next and try to have some choices, if possible.

What’s your fighting style
Look at the lists below

Attack attack,

  • You comment back-and-forth (or yell)
  • No one backs down
  • If it keeps up we can get louder and louder and more heated

Approach- defend

  • One of you brings things up all the time
  • The other states the position to defend their reasons
  • The approaching partner gets more and more upset and does more criticizing
  • The other defend their actions again and again


• They go feeding off of my negative emotion between them sometimes going higher and higher


  • You used to be one of the other styles but frankly you’re just exhausted and don’t have the energy for this anymore
  • Maybe you never could handle too much confrontation and you always pulled away from stressors or upsets, sorry partner this includes you
  • Sometimes both of you are very sensitive to upset an emotion and don’t like to have the tenseness and therefore any emotion between you that causes you both to move away.

Turn it inside out, what’s happening on the inside for you.

So let’s admit it. What’s at the root of our upset is the fact that we are at odds, distant and turbulent with our partner.   You grow anxious when you feel disconnected and rejected.

It can happen when:

  • they pursue or attack you with too many emotions or
  • when they move away disengage and avoid you because emotions are too much for them.

This leaves us alone and not able to talk about things and only deepens the Negative Communication Pattern.
Figuring out your couple communication pattern and labeling it is very helpful for you as a couple.  This helps you know it is just your pattern. While still difficult, this gives us a chance not to make it personal, at least at first.

Begin to discover your part in the negative communication pattern.
Answer the questions below:

When we are not getting along
I start to feel (Circle one)

I feel alone

No matter what I try I don’t feel heard

I have to do it all

Then I start to react by doing (Circle an action)

I push to make my point

I keep talking because I don’t feel like I’m being hard

I give up and walk away

What I really am feeling is (circle)




All I really need at this time is (circle)

A hug

Some quit time

Just to be told they care and it will be okay
Now go through this again but think about your partner, how they must be feeling.

Round and round it goes with each of us assuming our partner thinks and feels things they may truly not be thinking.

Why are they making me so mad?
When your partner looks mad what’s on their outside is their defense.  It’s primary reason is not to tick you off.  It really is because they are trying to defend themselves. You might ask from what but, it’s shag comes up for us on the inside.

Really we can be stuck in a rough spot.

Either you feel like they don’t want you and are attacking or you resent chasing your partner to engage and come back to you.
What do we really want!!

What we really want is to know you are there for me??
Become aware

All we really want is the feeling of connection / security is what an attached relationship can offer us.  Then our relationships tend to be happier more stable more satisfying. The need for secure emotional is at our core as humans.

If only we could just stop the fighting and improve our communication

“When we are getting along we are great…but when we are fighting it is so painful”
Read my next blog to see how to stop that drowning feeling and get a breath of fresh air for your love.

Or do it now by checking out the resource below:



I Won’t Give Up…….Will You?  — July 10, 2017

I Won’t Give Up…….Will You? 

Sometimes it’s not that we are giving up, it’s that we are becoming disheartened and growing weary of what to do.
Often the challenges of the following worries

Do you feel like you are failing as a partner

Feel your being rejected by your spouse

Accused of not being emotional enough

Fear you are failing sexually

Do you just feel like you are not good enough

Just what is all the FEAR about

If your partner withdraws you may think they don’t want to be there for you.

In fact when your partner withdraws it might   just be them withdrawing from the emotional intensity.

Many of us don’t think about it or know about it. But really,  you feel something before you even act, you feel before you think. We know that those feelings can cause you to protect and recoil from your partner. It’ll make us impenetrable to those that are trying to reach out to us and see if we are there.

So if that primary emotion that’s hit is one that’s disturbing than you might want to pull away.  You might accidentally be pulling away from your partner.

You know your partner can sense that something has happened and that you’re pulling away.  This is how come they ask what’s wrong,

what’s wrong,             what’s wrong.

And the answer is nothing

nothing                           nothing.

This creates a state of  enormous discontentment and disconnection in the relationship. It causes you  to  feel uncomfortable.

This is where you silently withdraw from one another.  It’s  easy to see it as an angry attack.  It creates insecurity and lack of safety and when we just don’t engage with our partner that leaves them lonely and afraid.
If you are the one trying to reach out This may be when you begin to feel like they’re  not there for you.   All you are wanting us to seek comfort or  care from them and they are not able to be part of the relieving efforts.  This creates immense distress and threatens the well-being of the relationship.

This is where your partner becomes hurts and wants to blame you for pulling away and creating stress and the sense of loss between you
When we feel this disconnection it can cause loneliness, anxiety, depression, anger physical pain and insecurity

If your partner isn’t there or isn’t available, or won’t respond then you’re likely to feel the following things:

Did you notice that your regular efforts to get your partners attention don’t really work.
It does create distress when our partner won’t turn to us when it would seem they would know what we’re asking for. It’s like they don’t really care about you. Your mind begins to make things up and wonder all sorts of things. Never feel like the following:

No matter what I do it doesn’t work to get their attention
They don’t care anymore they used to care

Feels like they don’t want to worry about me anymore, I’m not the first priority

I’m not good enough

They don’t love me

Are they having an affair

Over time with many attempts failing to get their connection the efforts to address the distress from the lonely partners gets bigger and bigger. You might feel an increase in pursuing or aggressive actions at times.  The disengaging partner might feel even more distressed turning inward to calm and soothe their distress  and overwhelm.
Your primary need in the relationship is to be able to reach out and connect with our partner.  We care if we can see that you are there for me.  can we feel secure and safe in our relationship with you. When this doesn’t happen and you can’t feel a response from your partner you can feel insecure and disconnected.



Here’s The danger the more and more you ask questions and try to come this down the greater danger you are in.  continuing to pursue or press for information with the withdrawing partner will lead to creating intense emotional situations that an avoiding partner would want to pull away from.

So what do you do keep on moving toward them and risk them pulling away, Or do you rarely talk about your hopes and dreams and worries

Does it always seem to be drug out for a while.
Maybe you don’t see the point in talking about feelings, what good does it do anyway.
Or perhaps you’re a little of both.  You want to talk and share because you do worry that the two of you are getting distant and losing your closeness, but you fear that you might be rejected or that it’s not gonna go well, so why get into it and you clam up

How does it go for you? Can you think of a time that you needed your partner? What did you do to try to get your needs met.   and see if they could be there for you?

How to be there for your partner even if what they’re talking about is upsetting for you

As Dr. David Schnarch puts it, “Emotionally committed relationships respond better when each partner controls, confronts, soothes, and mobilizes himself/herself.” This is because the more partners can regulate their own emotions, the more stable the relationship becomes.

Self-soothing improves the stability of your relationship by allowing you to maintain yourself and your connection with your partner during a tough conversation.

 Listening Without Getting Defensive. 

Remember even though they look attacking you must understand that some things have got them overwhelmed and emotionally feeling insecure. They may be upset insecure anxious or hurt.

Learning to talk about how we’re feeling underneath our appearances in an argument is key.  But before talking about yourself it really is best to LISTEN….and hear is how to stay present.

Above all the best you can do is to try to begin to calm yourself while you were in front of your partner. What I mean by that is to use whatever small coping strategies you have to help keep your emotions from overwhelming yourself into those avoiding or pursuing activities we talked about.

Here are two simple activities to do if you were becoming overwhelmed while talking and trying to be there for your spouse

One look at this example of how to do proper breathing to calm your nervous system and help you stay present and not become overwhelmed.  Your partner cares more that you are there for them than if you have amazing answers, try to stay present and calm.


Yes, there is a right way to breathe!

connected hearts with hands

A loving time out is an important way to show your partner that you are there but being safe.

A time-out basically involves removing yourself from a triggering situation, so you have time to cool off and gain clearer perspective.  It is not a means of blowing somebody off during an argument, but is actually a healthy way to manage anger (or another strong emotion) before it gets out of control.

When emotions are riding high, communication becomes less clear and healthy. Taking time to calm oneself can open up the door to re-enter a productive dialogue or perform another essential task at hand.

How do you use a time-out?

A time-out can happen on an informal level, where you essentially just take a break from a charged situation. For example, say you’re reading an upsetting email and you find yourself getting angrier with each word.  Instead of quickly reacting and sending off a terse reply, you can take a time-out and return to the email after you’ve calmed down some.  A time-out in this situation simply involves a conscious decision to put your attention on something besides the anger provoking issue. For example, you can take a few minutes to do something mindless like play a video game or surf the web and then later return to draft your email.

The more formal way to use a time-out is outlined below.

1.) The first step involves identifying ways that you can take a time-out.


2.) Second, you will likely need to inform others that you will resort to this option from time to time and explain the purpose for doing so.


Communicating this ahead of time is a way of being assertive and avoiding any confusion that others might feel about your behavior. This is particularly important if you’re taking a time-out to diffuse arguments with your significant other.   As you may know, it can be very upsetting if you’re arguing with somebody and they suddenly walk away without saying anything.  This can actually provoke more anger on the other person’s part, out of feelings of disrespected and abandonment.

In order to implement a healthy time-out, you will need to increase awareness of your anger level, so that you can catch yourself before you hit the boiling point, where you might say something hurtful or engage in physically violent behavior.

3.)  Let Your Partner Know You Love Them Too Much To Hurt Them.

Again, the key is to catch yourself before you engage in destructive, hurtful behavior triggered by feelings of anger.  Taking a time-out can help you do just that.

4.) Take the time-out

During the time-out, try to find ways to calm yourself and let go of whatever triggered the anger.   See the post on communication skills for couples [LINK] to get some ideas on how to calm oneself and think about ways to re-engage in a more productive, healthy manner.

5.) When you return from the time-out

Stick to your agreement to return at a specified time, if you discussed that with your partner.  At that time, if you feel that you’ve calmed down considerably, then go ahead and re-engage in a problem-solving discussion.

If you find that you’re still pretty heated and can’t do this, then take ownership of your emotional state and let the other know that you’re going to need more time.

Again, keep in mind that when emotions are riding high, communication is usually not that fruitful.  So, neither one of you is benefitting by forcing the other to keep hashing things out when in this state.

It is really confusing as a couple.  It would seem we want to get to the  bottom of  problem so hinge will be all right. We know though that the great majority of the things that couples have to manage are not things that will be immediately resolve. Given this, it becomes important that we remain “there” for our partner.
Could it be that what we are looking for is more a way of being than solving everything. We want our partner to stay by our side,  calm and secure, as we try to work these things out.

Well, I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No, I won’t give up

Jason Mraz

Warmest Wishes for a loving connection,



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You’re As Cold As Ice……. Why Date Night Can Kill A Relationship. — July 8, 2017

You’re As Cold As Ice……. Why Date Night Can Kill A Relationship.

…’re willing to sacrifice our love?   **Foreigner**

Be Careful Date Night Can Kill Your Relationship.

Imagine this.  You both are feeling lifeless, and admit it, a little bored in the relationship department.  Oh, I know, we need to go on date night.

But watch out!!  If you take those two bored brains, with their less than enthusiastic attitudes out to dinner and a movie……guess what……….you are going to find the dinner and the movie boring…….

and worse yet……….you might decide that even date night can’t save the two of you,

or they are not even trying, you interpret their bored brain and blank face to mean precisely  how they feel about




Do you matter to them anymore?
No matter what you do you can’t reach them. They feel cold and frozen to you?

So maybe you Meet at the end of the day and it’s just like another thing, no spark?
Does it look like maybe they don’t even care
Avoiding you on purpose

You might be reading this lonely, sad or probably growing irritated and frustrated. Maybe you are growing really impatient about the whole thing.
You may have decided if they don’t care and they’re going to act like were roommates then fine you will too.

Inside you might feel abandoned and rejected.
Remember… Once upon a time there was a dream.
You wanted to feel special you wanted to feel alive he wanted to feel the spark
And you wanted to do it all with your special someone.



If you’re going to have back that dream then there’s some things you need to know.                                      You have to go after that dream on purpose

It’s not as sexy as the falling in love but it is absolutely our hearts desire to want to be wanted by our partner and the feeling of that towards them.

You know I told you it’s not rocket science. But it is a well orchestrated dance at this point. It’s something I do on purpose. Love needs patience and kindness. Like you would treat an honored guest. You as a couple need these two things to feed your bond.

Ready to start the fire, ready to find your partner back from the cold. Ready to melt away the pain and the tension between you and arrive at your destination.  Really you have to strike the match first to start the very first spark.  Yes, back to the beginning.

Do you want to find out if you could melt each other’s hearts and reconnect once again?

And yes, someone has to do it first, who initiated when you first got together. Well now it’s either the same or the other person will start.

Let’s turn up the heat and get going let’s

Now Everyone You Know Says You Need To Go On Date Nights, But they are Wrong. Why Can Date Night Be The Most Awful Thing You Can Do?  If you don’t know how to approach “date night” then it can turn out awful.  So let’s do away with  the traditional dinner and a movie and take this to a whole new level.

Newsflash!!! You both are regular people in a mature relationships, these things happen.
Now I’m going to get a few of the basics out-of-the-way and you know that you can do any of the things I’m about to say with a warm and open heart or you can do them, you know, just going through the motions

  • Go on dates (a list of activities is listed at the bottom on this blog in case you need a fresh idea, but really how you do any of the activities is what we are after).
  • Plan for we time daily
  • Planned spontaneity for intimacy

But to avoid doing any and all of those without just going through the motions you probably want to read on for a few helpful shifts in your perspective. Yes by the time there is cold as ice we don’t have a very good perspective on our partner any longer.

Follow along and take a couple of these quizzes to see if perhaps you have fallen into a big chill and need to work on thawing out even as you’re approaching your partner for the above “date” date activities.

Quiz:  What I Love About You Is…

List 10 characteristics of your spouse in 60 seconds. Write them down.


Now evaluate them. Are they 100% positive, 50 % positive or do you have some thinking to do.

For each less than loving thing  go back, cross out that word and  replace the negative you listed with one of these


Each time you see or talk to your partner today see if you can remember all 10 in your mind while you’re looking at them.

Hint. Make a note and put them in your pocket, or type them in your notes on your phone and take a screenshot of them make it your wallpaper on your phone.

Challenge try this for the next five days. See if you can do it if you can’t even remember to do it ask yourself what’s going on, busy is not The acceptable answer. You are not too busy when you dated them the first time.

Checklist:  What is your Reputation in the Relationship?

“Love is patient, love is kind quotation but are you when it comes to your spouse?
Check yourself:

Does my partner believe I think about what is best for them on a daily basis?

Do I have their back, am I on their side even to others and family?

Do I really want what is best for them or just what is lest inconvenient for me?

Do I want them to believe me when I say I love them or do I really what them to feel loved by me?

Am I out for myself first or do I put their needs in front of me.  Let’s face it, even if we think we are doing nice things or loving things, there is usually a difference if it is done out of love for the other vs just what’s in it for me.

Challenge:   Three day challenge  For the next three days each day look for a small gift or a small acts of kindness that benefits you were partner in someway. Secretly do this for them without telling them why when they ask just say oh I was thinking of you, or I thought that might help your day.

QUIZ:  Are you secretly FREEZING OUT your love? Take this quiz

If a reporter asked your partner today the following questions how if you do

How does your partner feel about you, how they speak about you when you’re not there?
How does your partner treat you, are you special to them how can you tell?
Does your partner think that you are special or are they embarrassed by you ALWAYS TRYING TO CHANGE YOU?

Hint:  If you put I don’t know next to any of these then, find a sneaky way to ask some questions of your spouse or observe for a day or two.
(You are the partner in the question and they are reporting on you)




CHALLENGE:  Talk to your spouse, and dare to ask them to take the quiz about you?  Scary Right.  Would you do very well?

Image-1 (1)
Daring To Find Out If ………………. You Are There For Me?   …baby I’m right here…….baby Love   Don’t Run……….Steve Holy
Whatever the reason neglect, busy or resentment, before you go on date night you have to begin to get your perspective (some say attitude) in a place of patience and curiosity.  When folks talk about redating your mate the mean, discover them, be curious about them, try to please them, think bout their world…………..then you can ask them to

  1. Go on a date
  2. Schedule in regular WE time
  3. Plan for regular times for intimacy

Sounds a lot more fun.

Time to Upgrade Your “Dating” Skills

Read below for the ideas about great outing and new things to try.  Remember it is not so much that it is a date night but that it is something new the two of you are doing together.

ReImagine Dating Again.    You think you go on date nights and you think you spend time together, but eating out 2 or 3 times a months is just that , EATING OUT> Settling for the tried and true dinner and a movie is no longer new and novel to your brain.  It might have little to do with your spouse.  To your brain it is already a tad usual aka Boring.  Wanting to be more connected and feel special with your spouse will take some on purpose action on your parts.

ReConnected Once Again    You’re Still the one I run to ….you’re still the one I kiss good night………You’re Still the One…..Shania Twain
Do You Remember How To Date:

Despite thinking you know everything about your partner chances are you no longer do, or it has been such a long time since your conversations took on the wondering curious tone about the other person or you looked for new and different things to to

Take Turns Planning, yes planning, there is no use relying on Spontaneaity.  Time and resources are limited.  You either work or have responsibilities so it must be planned.

  1. Each of you is to look for places, actions classes or projects that neither of you have done preferably.  It is not important that you don’t really Want to do it, its just important that neither of you have.    For two weeks collect one new idea a day from each of you and place it in the jar.   At the end of the two weeks make a List with three colums.  At the top of the paper write Things To Try.  The colums will be

Possibly                                                   Pretty Sure                                          Oh Heck No

One by one each item is read and each of you on your own paper will write that time in one of the columns.  Try to reserve only one space for a Oh Heck NO, but otherwise, work very hard to place all the other activities in one of the other columns.  Try to be secret with your answers.  Once finished reading them all aloud share your list and combine your Sometimes and Always list to plan out your next dates by small medium and large time and money commitments.  It is best to pick more action oriented things or classes so you are doing as well as being together.   Walking new parks, a sports lesson, a dance lesson or even something artistic like painting and pottery.

Eating out is not the date, it can occur on the date, you have to eat, but these are Doing New Dates.    Why do something new.   Something new or a little nerve racking or challenging really wakes up the brain and the two of you together will feel the juice of the new situation.   It’s great if you love it, but it is not necessary to make an exciting and connecting experience still happen on the date.  What is necessary is to suspend your negative thinking and just show up and see what happens.  No matter what you are doing it together.  Please remember “No matter what happens, I am going to enjoy myself.” Because you are with the one you want to be with, what else matters,  positive attitude is an inside job, each of you is responsible for your own attitude.

Select from the following things to do both high time commitment to low commitment.

Resources of Activities and Locations in the Area:

Tackle the State Parks nearby.  Robertsville, Babler in Eureka, Shaw Arboretum at Gray Summit, Meramec State Park, Sullivan, Castlewood State Park, Busch Wildlife Area, Forest Park just to name a few in the central I 44 area.

Dancing can be learned just once, just enough to know, wow, that’s hard at Casaloma Ballroom in St. Louis, Ritz Carlton Lounge in Clayton  Dance Pizazz in St. Charles, Club Viva in Central West End, Wild Country in Illinois

Remember live performances are free at the Muny in the upper seats, go early pack a dinner.  Missouri Botanical Gardens has a concert or two in the evening during the summer.  Area parks departments also perform lives music in the West County Area in Summer months.

Restaurants can be fun and trying new places with exotic cuisine is the only way I would encourage you to make the meal the event.  Perhaps trying something dramatic and new and cooking together at home with music without kids (or clothes) could be another outing.  Take a cooking class at a area Supermarkets like Dierbergs.

Of course other new adventures to learn include crafts, sports, trades and anything your have not done together.   In the end it matters that you set the time and it activates your brain together, even if you didn’t like it, it does end up a great story to remember for years to come.


Oh and one last word of caution:  Even though you are in an established relationship it is still very rude to think that a “date” = “well you know”.  If this bums you out read this fun little 12 Steps to taking it nice and easy even if you already think you know each other.

In case its been awhile here is a little something to help you remember how to slowly Fall Back In Love Again.         12 steps to falling in love again. 

Overwhelming, don’t think you can do it without help, want to talk about it.  Feel free to contact me at Schedule a Complimentary Phone Consultation to Get Through the Stuck Spot.

Warm Wishes,

Monica Houttuin, LCSW, CST

Couples and Intimacy Specialist

or message me on Facebook.  or Message Me On Facebook.    @CounselingwithMonica

Reignite Your Spark!!!! — July 4, 2017

Reignite Your Spark!!!!

Happy Fourth of July. Here’s a special gift for you to reignite the spark in your relationship. Listen in as my colleague Angela Skurtu and I talk about the dimensions of touch and how to turn on the gas and turn off the brakes when it comes to desire in your 

Listen to Monica Talk about Reignitinga Your Spark.

Listen to Monica Talk about Reigniting Your Spark.
Let me know what you think. 

Have any questions? 

Contact me at email or 

visit us at the website

Find out more about Desire Differences.

Thanks for listening.


Why Do I Always Have To Be The One To Say……”We Need To Talk’. — July 3, 2017

Why Do I Always Have To Be The One To Say……”We Need To Talk’.

feelings falling
What Do I Do With All These Feelings?

It really is mind blowing isn’t it.  You pick your partner and love them for who they are……….I guess………but pretty soon ………….we are noticing all the ways in which they make us uncomfortable. We are asking them to do more, stop that, don’t say it that way or do it this way.
It is really insanity making especially if you stop sometimes are realize you feel awful when they do it to you.

All you efforts to share your feelings, make yourself and us better, lead to your partner feeling picked on, nagged and just overly criticized.  Without stopping and taking a hard look at what is going on this can really have a snowball effect of criticize, defend, criticize, defend,…………and sometimes


I suppose if our efforts to stop this, change this, talk about this don’t go well we can really just wonder, Does my partner even like me anymore? Now we are together, alone.  For most of us this is very sad and so alone.

The truth is that it is NOT REASONABLE to share your volumes of opinions and thoughts about our “issues” with your partner.  You may be the communicator in the relationship and want to talk a whole lot more.  Let’s say you are the high desire partner for communicating.  Well your partner might be the high desire partner for……… let me think…..hmmmm…..SEX.  You would never let me get away with saying that just because they have a higher desire for sex that they should be able to sex as much as they like, so the same is true for the high desire communicator, they can’t just communicate all over the place whenever they want either.  Okay, you get my point.  What I am saying is that there really are some usual and typical issues that couples annoy one another over or irritate one another over.  These don’t have to be completely ignored but we really do need to pick our topics with care.  Since we are right in the middle of this it can be hard to know which things to tackle, it really does become dizzying.

The whole reason we are in relationship is to have an intimate partner someone who is special and to whom we feel special.

Let’s step back and look at this from a third perspective, not yours, not theirs, as if one person is right, but just from a question of …..

What are we really doing all this for, the complaining and commenting about one another, why can’t we let them be?

As mind blowing as it is, talking too much in a relationship is harmful. On the other hand, not talking about the things that are really harmful in a relationship is detrimental and devastating.
Let’s take a look at a list of  things that shouldn’t be glossed over or swept under the rug.  These are the things that you really do want to address eventually in your relationship or they can be your ruin.

 1. Honesty Between Us and With Ourselves.     Of course no one wants to be bald faced lied to.  I am going to talk about two more subtle forms of dishonesty to begin with.

a. Repeatedly telling another you love them and put them first but then behaving in ways that are unloving or neglectful.

b. Knowingly committing harmful or offensive acts towards your partner that have shared with you.

Really the harm here is that someone is really asking you to not believe in what you are feeling and even taking it a step further and challenging your sense of reality.  Sometimes it causes use to feel such a sense of disorientation.  We feel unloved and undervalued or even offended, yet someone who you think you love is telling you that this is what loving you looks like.  Such confusion and disorientation can lead to ……

Verbal or Emotional Attack

2.  Intense or Habitual Anger or Defensiveness at each attempt to discuss issues or concerns.  Not annoyance, but the kind of reaction that turns the whole conversation into either a finger pointing back at you or an escalation to the point we are never able to figure out constructive plans to try and make workable attempts to solve things.

This might look like:

a.  overreactions to inquires or preferences and defensive to angry or intimidating overreactions to feedback that shut our partner down.

b. when our partner brings a complaint to use we so react by breaking down or going silent perhaps even becoming enraged to yelling.  The message is it is not okay for you to share any feedback or preferences with me.  In a sense we are being shut out or rebuked for our feelings and attempts to share these with our partners.

c. Some react by going silent or eggshelling for days or weeks.  Rude or cryptic remarks can come that cut to the heart of the other person with no intent at resolution or collaborations.

Once identified and attempts to pursue discussing these serious personal defense mechanisms is underway it may become painstakingly clear whether you will be able to get very far on your own as a couple.  You may give it a fair shot for a bit, but if no progress is made and as a couple you cannot begin to use simple communicating rules to gain some ground then you may like to get some assistance to break through these patterns to the other side by using a trained couples counselor for just such tough patterns.

We can always make it our goal to hear everything. This doesn’t mean we have to agree with what someone else is saying. However, we can strive to be open and seek feedback from people we care about and trust, so that they feel comfortable to talk to us about the more difficult subjects.

a.  look for a element of truth in what our partner is saying

b.  think about how their feelings make sense for them

c.  try to see it their way.

d.  own any part of this you can.

If your partner has trouble doing this it is one thing, if they refuse to work on this that is more serious issue to keep an eye on.


3.  Severe “Stubbornness”-Perhaps your partner wasn’t always this way, or maybe they were and you thought you could change it.   Rigid patterns of routine and extreme limits on the types of new couples experiences they will engage in.  This can be severe in the area of travel, food, friends, activities, or even engaging in employment.    Our relationships suffer when one or both of us stop being curious to exploring shared interests and activities as partners.  The wanting partner can become angry and isolated and if discussions to broaden our circles or have new adventures, even with a little “a” are refused then trouble can ensue.  You can’t force someone to do everything without regard to some preferences, but they cannot take all the choices and leave none for their partner.

Why being open to trying new things is good for a couple and even better for their relationship.

Falling In Love Again And The Role of New Activities in Keeping Love Alive In Relationships.

Perhaps our troubles start when we believe someone can be everything for us.  The falsehood that if they really knew me I wouldn’t have to tell them is realling like believing  that someone will read your mind and you won’t have to tell them or remind them.  Perhaps we forget how important it is to be honest about our needs and listen for what we are told their needs are.  In a adult love relationship no one can know without being told or asked directly.  Removing expectations that can be unrealistic goes a long way to allowing both partners room in the relationship.

Often we are not equally matched and one person can out=communicate the other.  Care is taken to move consciously and safely in discussions.  Listening, validating and empathizing skills go a long way.  Discussions and being curious when we are not reactive produce many more opportunities for understanding.

You have had the experience of talking about the same thing again and getting tense and nervous about the outcome.  Your partner feels that too, but it is not unusual to have to talk about the same requests numerous time in the relationship.  As a collaborative team, the expectation is that we will have to fine tune many things together over and over.  If we accept this and are willing to work together we are far less likely to be accused of doing things on purpose or trying to hurt one another.

It really is important to present our needs, wants and preferences while respecting those of our partner.  It’s hard to be so honest and often there just are no win win solutions to easily be had.   Honestly and respect help us through many a tense and frustrating conversation about doing this yet again.

That kind of conversation can lead to a respectful though challenging and unsettling discussion.  That is by far, however, very different type of discussion when compared to not dealing with three of the very serious types of relationship issues form above.

All couples develop their own styles of negative communication patterns, ways they respond or defend that don’t really help the couple but serve just to protect themselves.  All of us are working to identify those together and do things differently.  Safe Secure attempts to handle all of life’s ongoing and crisis problems will bring a couple even farther.

Couple Patterns Are The Root Of Most Common Couple Problems.


Part of moving into the mature part of our love and out of the initial idealistic stages is to do just this.  Remain respectful of yourself as an individual while at the same time affording that same level of respect to your partner for all their styles, perspectives, quirks and challenges.  Doing this helps us create a quality bond that highlights the best in each of us.  Relationships are known for drawing on us and if we rise to the challenge they do make us better for it.  The goal is to work as a collaborative, intimate team in as many areas of our lives as possible.

Mallory and Bob really believe that if only the other would change things would be easier.  It is so common in relationships, I talk about this every week in my office.

Mallory complains, “This has been going on for years”.  “I have told her that she is so picky, but if I do it back to her, wow is it a big deal.  It feels so unfair”, says Bob.  “He just doesn’t listen to me and I do care about more things than he does, does that make me bad?” wonders Mallory.  “It’s like he doesn’t hear me, or he just keeps doing things on purpose like how I feel doesn’t matter”.  “She gets to have all these things that bother her but if I disagree or voice a complaint then we have to talk about it for hours and its a big deal, where is the fairness here?”

Most of us remember that we are not the same person and that obviously we have different likes and dislikes.  In reality however, we do end up wanting our partner to change some things, or really needing some things to change to remain in the relationship.  The problem is that HOW we go about deciding what is reasonable to ask of our partner, and WHY we feel we need them to change this really do matter and make all the difference.

No one would disagree with me that it is important to accept anyone you love for who they are.  But, we would have a hard time agreeing on how to go about doing this.  In intimate relationships we are going to have preferences, and differences and since we do care and we are close.

How are we are going to  develop a way or a process for discussing this without hurting and alienating our partner.  You don’t feel very willing to listen or consider their input when you are being attacked, blamed, picked on and criticized.  Really when you feel attacked you literally go into “under siege” mode and change is the last thing your brain has any leftover energy for.

How do we go about expressing our needs and preferences in our relationship without tearing down and demeaning our partner.  If we could share our perspective while conveying to our partner they are loved and accepted by us we would be miles ahead of the game and in a loving and connected relationship.

Breath Into A More Relaxed State Of Mind Before Talking To Your Partner


lungs illustration

Here is a guide for how to talk to your partner without it turning into criticism and blaming.

Read Here For Healthy Skills To Use To Change Your Negative Patterns.

In order to be a loving partner and maintain our own feelings of interest and attraction, we should have regard for what lights our partner up and matters to him or her. We should see our partner as a whole and separate person who matters to us, independent of our own needs and interests. We can both encourage each other to engage in pursuits that really express who each of us is individually. Whether it’s learning a language, climbing a mountain or writing a book, we can see each other for who we really are and support each other’s unique goals and capabilities. When we give another person this space, regard and respect, we actually draw that person closer to us, as we can both really feel for each other as the true people we are.

For more ideas about serious issues that should not be ignored or avoided read the excerpt from a Facebook Post. Dr Lisa Firestone.



Many people stay in bad relationships with the desire to change their partner. In Marriage Rules, Dr. Harriet Lerner writes, “If you don’t change your part in a stuck pattern, no change will occur. Change comes from the bottom up: that is from the person who is in the most pain, or who has the least power, or who has lost or compromised too much in the relationship.”


Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That. — June 19, 2017

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That.


Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That………..What happened to Summer Lovin’?

Are you a typical couple? Parents with two kids just trying to get through the week.

You know you’ve seen the calendar ……you  both work ….then each of the children have their list of activities from dance to softball to Little League and a special select traveling team to boot.

It’s a full week and remember you’re supposed to eat together as a family five times a week.

It all looks good on paper, however, when you start to execute this here’s what happens.

  • You put in your full-time at work, 
  • You come home, many say to your second job, and begin to run your children to their activities,
  • You put in dinner,
  • You get them home bath and bed,

then you finally sit down for one second, whoops,

  • put the laundry in,
  • put it in the dryer,
  • pack some lunches…

then you think ooops!

We haven’t had any special time in a long time.

The thought of wanting to and needing to move toward your partner is now in direct competition with your me time?

I don’t mean the kind where you are out golfing or getting your nails done.  I just mean 15 minutes to sit down with nothing you are supposed to do.  At the end of the day many people feel:




…and then to top it off you now really need to get a little me time so that you can relax a second and think about some WE time. If that doesn’t happen then sometimes neither does the intimate time.  That doesn’t solve the problem either because now the problem of feeling guilty or upset settles in again. Many a day ends feeling badly or angry for numerous couples.

You would think it’s better for many singles or married couples, but to be honest sometimes it isn’t. The challenged of containing our work lives and the possibilities for evening recreation still presents the same issues.  

Oh and then …

There is our online lives that also consume for some many hours a  day.  Just like married couples with kids if it isn’t planned, it’s probably not going to happen.

I know, I just said it, Planned Sex!!  It’s almost seems like a dirty word to people. Where is the spontaneity?  Where is the romance?  But I just looked at your schedule and I don’t see spontaneity and romance scheduled anywhere in this calendar either.  In fact, there might not even be room for that.

So we have to decide in a long-term relationship.  Do you want to hang on to the “I need more romance” that might be keeping you from scheduling or do you want to feel like you work hard and you also get some time for the two of you.

Do you want to feel connected with your partner even in the biggest, most busy weeks.

Want to know that your relationship is secure and you spent time feeding it and growing yet?

How does that feel to you?

Many people say that would give them a sense of calm ease, success, a feeling that they are pursuing their dreams.

Let’s imagine a different way of running your calendars without letting your schedule run you.  

In  mature relationships, meaning mature love,  another strategy is need besides waiting for our eyes to meet and connect over the dishes or brushing past our lover with the broom.  Moments do evolve don’t get me wrong, but you have to be in the same house with the person for that. We need to be more on purpose than that. Here’s what I mean.

Partnered sex in a relationship that is established and mature requires a little bit of planning. Now I don’t mean that you’re going to plan it all out, this move, that move and this move.  The Intimate special part of your relationship actually has to have a space on your calendars.  How many times per week or per month you would like to plan this is up to you. This is sometimes called Planned Spontaneity. Here’s why we call for this.

There is a mechanism to being intimate with your partner.  The blend of bringing one person sexuality and connecting it to the we or the other person’s sexuality is very multi-dimensional and multifaceted. Here’s what one expert couples and sex therapist details:

Think about the touch that is required for intimacy to blossom as a five dimensional process. Each person has a preference for how they move from:

  1. Affectionate touch
  2. Sensual touch
  3. Playful touch
  4. Erotic touch
  5. Erotic Pleasurable touch.
Touch Type Current percentage of all touch Percentage of touch desired
Affectionate touch
Sensual touch
Playful touch
Erotic touch
Intercourse touch
Aftercourse touch

Resources: McCarthy, B. & McCarthy, E. (2012). Sexual Awareness (5th edition

Each person in the partnership is different, just as each person has a different sexuality and different preferences for types of touch. Knowing your partner’s preferences helps tremendously in terms of moving in sink in the right pace and knowing how much time and how to talk about what is needed between the two of you.

Intimate (play) time  for grown-ups is just as important to schedule as it is for scheduling playdates for kids. Knowing where you stand, knowing when you will get to be together, becomes phenomenally important in the sea of activity and busyness that happens to couples if they just let life happen.

Find out your sexual style. In this Article by Barry Mc Carthy.

Ideally, you could have fun with each other, exploring their opinions and preferences.  What’s your preferred touch and how much would you like of that?  This conversation is a bit different than one you might have if you were in a playful encounter with your partner and wanting to know what they liked. 

It’s a good rule of thumb, however,  to not have this conversation close to or during a sexual encounter together.   You’ll do best having this conversation  in a nonthreatening non-pressure situation.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That… Unless they put it on the calendar.  If time is not the problem but there’s just no spark for you read ChorePlay is Foreplay.

If you are wanting to light the spark and need a refresher on how….

12 Steps To Falling In Love Again

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