What’s Your Love Language and How Can You Get Your Partner to Actually Do What You Love?

I was talking with a friend this morning about Gary Chapman’s, The 5 Love Languages concept. I was relaying a discussion I had with another friend who is married to a man with Asperger’s Syndrome. Because the wife knows her husband can’t read her emotions, she has taken to writing down things she would like for him to do on a daily basis. For example, “Today is my birthday. I would like for you to buy me a gold bracelet you think I might like, say, ‘Happy Birthday’ to me and give me a hug and a kiss.” or “I would like for you to tell me one reason you love me today.”

At first glance, this feels kind of odd and unnatural. But as I was talking about this concept this morning, we started adding in things like, “Today I would like for you to unload the dishwasher.” and “Today I would like for you to squeeze my tush!” We started having a lot of fun with it. Which led directly to the 5 Love Languages. How cool would it be to have a daily “task” for couples to show their love for each other in a variety of ways? So, as a result of this conversation, I will commit to making this happen for those who want to follow and participate. My current goal is to post something on my blog minimum of 2 times a week.  Some future posts might look like this:

Person A: Today I will draw a bath for my partner.
Person B: Today I will kiss my partner for 2 minutes without pulling away.

Person A: Today I will do the dishes.
Person B: Today I will give my partner a sweet greeting card or note.

Use these daily tasks to learn and understand what is most meaningful to you. Record what makes you feel the most loved!

Follow me and let’s see how this goes!

Keeping the Romance Alive: Lessons From The Big Bang Theory

I was watching the Big Bang Theory last night with my husband. While I didn’t really enjoy the episode as it leaned more toward serious vs their typical humor filled 27 minutes, it did spark a thought regarding falling into a rut.

The longer couples are together, the easier it is to do less for one another; to recognize that we may be grossing each other out; to criticize each other’s faults. It’s not intentional. It’s quite possible that regardless of the lul in romance, we still love our partners, maybe even more today than the day we got married. So how can we keep the romance alive even when we don’t really want to anymore?

As per the Big Bang Theory, write a relationship contract. Within that contract, be sure to include at least 5 things you know speak volumes in making you feel loved. It doesn’t have to be long and detailed. Keep it simple. For example, here are 5 things my husband does (most of the time) that would be part of my contract:

  1. 1. I will cook dinner for the family 1 time a week.
  2. 2. I will take the kids to school 1 time a week.
  3. 3. I will take the kids 1 weekend morning so you can sleep in. (Are you getting how important sleep is to me?!!)
  4. 4. I will tell you how much I love and appreciate you at least 2 times a day and I will say it in front of the kids at least three times a week.
  5. 5. Our first interaction and last interaction for the day will include a hug and kiss.

Be sure to re-visit your contract every 6 months. Talk through how well your partner achieved the items you listed. Come up with ways to improve your contract or the follow through of the things that are most important to you.

Next year, write a new contract. Acknowledge how many of the items on your original contract have become part of your current daily habits and how many never made it past the first week.

Let me know how this works for you!


Conflict Resolution in Marriage: Solvable vs Recurring Issues

I was recently re-reading Dr. John Gottman’s work on relationships. As a researcher myself – I am always fascinated with statistics. Gottman pointed out there are only 2 kinds of conflict within a marriage – Solvable and Perpetual. What he discovered was that only 31% of everyday marital conflict is actually solvable. That leaves 69% of our conflicts recurring. YIKES!!! So what does that really mean?

Have you ever noticed that at the end of the day, each and every one of your arguments are ALWAYS about the same topics? For my husband and I – it’s about keeping the house clean. We’ve been married for 13 years and it’s still a topic of conversation or should I say – consternation!

So how do you problem solve a problem that will never go away? First, Gottman suggests that we learn to accept and adapt to those issues that are part of your partner’s core sense of self. Stay Tuned for tricks on how to accept and adapt . . . ’cause let’s face it . . . that’s the hard part of marriage!

Balance Shmalance: How to cope with work/life pressures

We read about this all the time. 5 tips to greater work/life balance. How to achieve better balance in your life. For those of us who have spouses, kids, households, jobs, laundry, social lives etc. sometimes those terms make us feel like a never ending failure. So is there a secret to “having it all”?

Yes! First of all, stop believing anyone ‘has it all’ all the time. I like to compare work-life balance to an experience we had when my son was 3. He wasn’t thriving. Well, that’s not entirely correct. He was thriving. He was happy and social and active and smart and super duper fun. But he was tiny. He fell off the growth charts. My husband and I aren’t particularly tall, but we’re not super short either. So we were concerned and so was our doctor. He sent us to Stanford for some further analysis. The doctor at Stanford assured us that as long as he continued to progress along the chart, regardless of where he fell (under, above, or right in the middle) he was fine. We went four times over the course of 2 years and, though he was only at the 3rd percentile after our final visit, the doc said all was good. We talked about food intake and he said, “Stop looking at what and how much your son is eating on a daily basis and look at what he is eating throughout the week . . . throughout the month. Is he getting all the nutrients he needs when you look at his intake in chunks of time?”

This is how I look at work-life balance. Some days my family suffers, some days my company suffers, some days I suffer. But from month to month, am I failing at everything or did I give enough to each of my endeavors to keep them happy and moving forward? If so, then I consider it a month well done!Work life balance

What to expect from my 6 session Coaching Practice

My preference is to have my coaching clients commit to at least 6 sessions. Each session may last longer than 1 hour depending on the needs of my clients. The sessions include a significant amount of work outside our discussions from both myself and my clients. Each person will receive their own copy of my workbook.
1. The first component includes:
Talking with each of you individually and creating a vision statement for each of you. This will help me to assess where you are in your personal thoughts and goals for the future before we start to outline a joint vision.
Homework: Complete each of the exercises in the Re-connecting section in the workbook
2. The second component includes:
a. A short individual discussion to review your vision statement and your comfort level with sharing with your partner
b. Discussion about core values and where/how they originated
Homework: Compete the starter questions & Risk tolerance in the Sharing more information section of the workbook
3. The third component includes:
Discussion about how you have decided to share information about the business etc. with each other
Homework: Complete the blueprint (individually and a joint one and the GOAL model for one specific goal. Goal can be for either of you)  in the Shared vision section of the workbook
4. The fourth component includes:
Discussion about your joint goals and your plans to accomplish your goals.
Homework: Complete the 5:1 ratio and love notes in the Deeply appreciating section of the workbook
5. The fifth component includes:
Discussion about how it felt to be truly appreciated, what worked, what didn’t. What made a difference and how did it feel?
Homework: Identify your inner language, and come up with a de-triggering word or phrase
6. The sixth component includes:
Discussion about understanding the way your partner shares information and modeling their mode of communication. Practice de-escalation techniques and ways to express frustration in a more effective and less hurtful manner. Ways to recognize when you are being hurtful and how to apologize/overcome that.
Homework: Complete the other exercises in the workbook. Practice de-escalation and de-triggering words. Join my monthly call. During  date night, use a book like, “My wish for you is _______” to generate discussion topics.
The goal is that by the end of the 6 sessions – you will
1. Have a better idea of more effective ways to communicate with one another
2. Have a clear and direct vision for yourselves as individuals and as a couple looking forward to your future
3. Better understand each others histories which can lead to greater compassion toward perceived flaws and a desire to improve upon said flaws!
4. Have a management tool you can reflect upon when working toward certain future goals.
5. Have a workbook filled with thoughts and ideas that you can re-read whenever you need a refresher.
6. Open the lines of communication regarding a myriad of topics surrounding both personal and business issues.
7. Learn ways to share your thoughts / feelings with your partner in the most compassionate way possible.

On the Same Team

Have you ever felt like your relationship has lost its way? You started off all happy and cozy with your partner and then that little pesky thing called LIFE got in the way. Suddenly you’re arguing over how to handle the kids and how much time (or how little time) your spouse spends at home. These bigger issues take hold and manifest into smaller, more inconsequential issues like putting the toilet seat down or replacing the cap to the toothpaste. At the end of the day, you’re both left with anger and resentment and it just grows and festers over time.

A while back I was conducting an interview with the spouse of an entrepreneur. Her preverbal “Ah ha” moment became one of mine as well. She and her husband had been seeing a therapist for a little while to work through some issues. Months had passed and they were still struggling with the same issues.

Mid-fight, the therapist looked at them and said, “You’re on the same team. Why are you fighting against each other here when you’re both on the same team?” Hmm. It seems so simple; and yet so profound. He was right. When you join forces with your partner and get married, you are essentially vowing to support your teammate through thick and thin. All issues, grievances and what not should be approached from an “us vs. them” perspective.

When you look at the challenges that a couple faces on a daily basis from the viewpoint of “us” instead of “me” it may change the way you approach many decisions.

In business, we collaborate with our partners and employees all the time to ensure the best outcome; so why don’t we do the same with our partners in the household?

One reason is that as time passes and our lives become more complex, we spend less time actually talking with our spouses about important issues. During one of my seminars, one couple shared what works for them. They have a “shit that matters” book in their kitchen. Throughout the day/week they write down all the things they want to discuss with each other so they don’t forget. Then they schedule a weekly meeting to talk about what’s written in the book.

Do you have a method that works for your family? If so, let us know what you do and how it works!

250K Satisfaction

One could assume that the more money you make in your business, the happier your spouse would be with regard to their role in the household. After all, you can now afford to buy more things for your home, take care of the family needs and even pay for someone to clean the house. According to research from the Harp Family Institute, however, as family income increases over $250K a year, spousal satisfaction with their role in the household decreases. Why might this be?

Happiness is a Choice

I had an amazingly profound experience with my almost five-year-old son recently that made me proud to be his mother. My husband and I were going away for the night and leaving our two boys with some family friends. When I told my son, he immediately grew very sad and perseverated on the fact that he was unhappy. Over and over he kept repeating, “I’m unhappy. I’m unhappy. Hmph.” I get it. I am the center of his universe right now and when I go away, even for just one night; that can cause anxiety and sadness.

As a mother, though, hearing those words over and over can become grating and rather depressing. I called him over to me, put my hands on his shoulders and said, “Honey, I’m going to teach you a really important life lesson right now. Are you ready?”

He shook his head, yes.

“Sweetheart, happiness is a choice. If you choose to be happy, then you will be happy. If you choose to be unhappy, that you will be unhappy. Which do you think is a better choice?”

He looked at me and said plainly, “Happy.”

The next day we dropped him off at our friend’s house. He said good-bye with a smile on his face, gave me a great big hug and said, “Have fun, Mommy!”

I said good-bye and watched him climb the steps to go inside. I stood in the driveway dumb founded! Huh? It worked? I couldn’t believe it. That’s a concept many adults struggle with.

For now – I’m thrilled, but cautious. I’m certain we will be having this conversation many times again, but for today . . . life lesson #1 . . . a HUGE success!!

Goal Setting

Research from the Harp Family Institute reports that entrepreneurs who set long term shared family and business goals with their significant other scored higher in every single area of satisfaction than those who didn’t set goals. Entrepreneurs who set those goals were upwards of 32% happier than those who didn’t. Surprisingly only one-third of entrepreneurs set shared long term business goals and about one-half set shared long term family goals with their spouse.

So why does goal setting make such a big difference to the entrepreneurial couple? To begin with, it helps to generate and maintain buy-in from your significant other about why you are on this journey together. Because if you want one thing out of life and your spouse wants something completely different, that can present some real challenge. However, if you have a shared vision for the future that has components that are important to both of you, it makes this crazy entrepreneurial journey a little easier.

So how do you begin? There are a number of ways to develop your goals; but the first step is to set a date on the calendar with your spouse. Set aside a minimum of 30 minutes to generate and discuss your own personal goals and then your joint goals. Establish timelines for which you hope to achieve your goals.

Once you have gone through the exercise of dreaming up all the things you hope to accomplish in your lives, you may find that some of those goals seem impossible to achieve. If that’s the case, whether it’s a today, 1 year or 5 year goal, I encourage you to follow the following 4-Step GOAL process to weed through the obstacles and figure out a way to accomplish your dreams together.