Category Archives for "Communication"

5 Communication Games Guaranteed to Bring You Closer

By Dustin | Communication

Play Your Way To Better Communication…

Communication Games Guaranteed to Bring You Closer“Let’s talk.”

Those words can stop a partner dead in their tracks.

The idea of “working on our communication” is usually met with eye rolls, shrugs or even denials of a problem.

The first reaction is often, “We talk. We talk about the kids. We talk about the house. I asked you about your day.”

You talk. But do you communicate?

If you had to stop and think about that, read on because it may be the most important thing you can do for your relationship.

Communication Is More than Talking

Talking is simply sharing information using words. It is a way to inform another person about a particular thing.

It’s important but it is not a stand-alone relationship builder.

Stick around and we’ll show you 5 simple games you and your partner can play to exercise your communication skills, deepen your romantic connection, and build a stronger life together.

But first, you need to know one key thing: communication between intimate partners is more than words – it involves establishing an emotional connection.

It is this emotional connection that is the foundation of intimacy.

The emotional connection between partners is often cited by both men and women as the most important factor that determines the quality of their relationship. Emotional connection includes:

  •        Being able to talk openly with each other
  •        Being a good listener
  •        Showing appreciation or support
  •        Doing your part to make the relationship work

That may sound really complicated, but the fact is that couples tend to build intimacy through everyday moments. It’s what you choose to do every day that enhances your level of communication and intimacy.

Verbal communication – words – makes up only a small part of how we communicate. It has been estimated that 60-90% of our communication is non-verbal.

And that 60-90% is made up of things like body language, gestures, facial expression and tone of voice. It’s the how of what we say, and it is powerful.

Learn how to master the art of emotional connection and you and your partner will find a level of intimacy that will enhance and nourish your relationship on every level.

We’ve seen hundreds of couples benefit from the techniques using our easy online system, Communicate Your Way To A Better Marriage. Along the way, we’ve learned that building communication doesn’t have to be boring, and these 5 communication games we’re about to share are anything but.

We learn by doing. And the more we do something, the better we become at it.

So grab your partner and get ready to have some fun while you break down those barriers.

#1  Twenty Questions x 2

This is a light and fun bonding game to get you started. Remember the game 20 Questions? This is the grown up version.

We sometimes forget to pay attention to the little things that make us who we are. Paying attention to the little things and remembering them creates a sense of knowing each other. Here’s the game:

Set aside some time for the two of you without distractions.

  • Prior to the sit-down, each of you should make a list of 20 detailed personal questions to ask the other. Be creative with the questions – silly, serious, different areas of life or subjects. You may be surprised what you learn.
  • Take turns asking each other a question.
  • Once you’ve each gone through your list, reverse the questions. Take your same lists and have your partner answer the question for you. For example, if you asked your partner, “What is your favorite color?” ask, “What is my favorite color?”

#2  Do You See What I See?

Here’s a fun way to gain some insight into how your partner receives and uses information. It’s also a great activity for working together.

  • For this game, you’ll need either some building blocks like Lego’s, Play-Doh or drawing paper and crayons. Facing away from each other so that you cannot see what the other is doing.
  • The first person will take a couple of minutes to build or draw something. Don’t give your partner any details or hints.
  • Next, describe what you created to your partner without telling him/her what it is. Their task is to visualize and create the same object as closely as possible using the descriptors you provide.  
  • Turn and discuss the result. How close were the two objects? What information would have been helpful to have?
  • Then switch roles so that each person has the chance to give the descriptions.

Remember, there is no right or wrong. In the beginning, it may be really hard. The more you do this activity, the easier it becomes to understand what your partner is trying to convey.

It also sheds some light on your communication style and what you might be able to express more clearly.

#3  Eye-to-Eye

This game is actually a take-off on staring contests we used to have as kids only with a grown-up flair.

The purpose of this activity is to increase comfort with expressing yourself to your partner. Being in close proximity enhances the feelings of intimacy and connection. Bonus – this game can be kind of sexy.

So here’s the game:

  • Sit facing each other so that you are close enough to hold hands.
  • Look directly into each other’s eyes.
  • Notice the feelings you are experiencing.
  • Now start talking about something. Keep it simple to start. It might be about your day or a funny thing that happened at lunch.
  • When you’re finished, let your spouse share something. Do this a few times back and forth then discuss what the experience was like.

For many couples, this exercise is uncomfortable in the beginning. That’s ok. The more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes and the deeper your discussions will go.

#4  The Top 3

This game is all about recognizing the positive aspects of your relationship and the wonderful everyday things your partner does.

  • At the end of each day, set aside a few minutes to reflect on your day. Think of the three best things your partner did for you that day.
  • Next, take turns sharing those things and why they meant so much to you.
  • And don’t forget to say, “Thank you.”

This game focuses on appreciation and expressing thanks which are two very powerful and often overlooked parts of communication and connection.

You’d be surprised at how much of a difference gratitude can make.

#5  Make a Play Date

Taken from our best-selling book 15-Minute Marriage Makeover, this is not your average date night.

Make a date to do something fun with your partner– something different and maybe even a little spontaneous. The only ground rules are that:

  • It has to be something for just the two of you and you cannot discuss kids, work or home problems like that leaky faucet in the kitchen.
  • Choose something that requires you to be present. Go sailing, go rock climbing, sneak away for a quiet weekend…the possibilities are endless.
  • Take turns picking the activity. Surprise your partner with something new.

The point of this game is to reconnect with each other in an activity that requires you both to be present for each other. You’ll be on neutral ground, away from the pressures of home and work.

This shift allows you to let your guard down and enjoy your partner while building that feeling of closeness and connection.

BONUS GAME: Picture a Conversation

This one requires a special deck of cards, but it’s fun for a couple or the whole family.  Picture a Conversation sparks real, meaningful talk…without technology!

This set of 25 cards opens the door to meaningful conversations — face-to-face, in person in real time.  No devices needed. As wonderful as our technology is, it can make us forget how gratifying and important it is to sit down with someone and just talk.

So now you have some fun and easy ways to get the communication ball rolling, and there’s more where that came from…

When you’re ready to truly revamp your relationship and find develop a deeper level of communication, we have a system to help you do just that.

Developed by Dr. Corey Allan to help his patients strengthen their bonds and change their lives, this powerful method is bound to bring you and your partner to a new level of communication, intimacy, and trust.  

Discover how deeply fulfilling your union can be with Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage.

How to Get Your Spouse to Talk to You: 7 Tips for Engagement

By Dustin | Communication

How to Get Your Spouse to Talk to You- 7 (1)Do you sometimes have trouble getting your spouse to talk to you?  Or really listen to what you have to say?

It’s amazing how often I hear from couples who struggle simply because they “don’t talk anymore.”

If you’re struggling with this issue, I hope you will find these tips helpful for establishing healthy two-way communication in your marriage.  Even if it’s not a major problem, I think we can all improve in this all-important area!

And if you’re looking to really ramp up your communication, I highly recommend you check out our most popular resource on this topic – How to Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage (Talking Optional).

7 Tips to Get Your Spouse Engaged

1. Be the Spouse You Desire

The first step to getting your spouse to treat you the way you desire is to model for them what that looks like.  You can’t directly control their actions, but you can control your own.

If you want them to be interested in what you have to say, be engaging and show how much you care about them.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of only reciprocating, but when you take that approach you both lose.  Try your best to “suck it up” and be the spouse that you want to be married to.

It’s called the Golden Rule for a reason.

2. Speak Their Language

In general, wives crave empathy and husbands crave respect.  Do your best to communicate in a way that fulfills your spouse on their terms.

I highly recommend that you read The Five Love Languages and apply the principles that you learn as a way to connect in a way that your wife or husband will respond to the best.  Speak their love language!

3. Don’t Shut Down

When you are not getting what you want, it is so easy to simply recoil and exact some “revenge” on your spouse by withdrawing.

This is not productive, and it will only degrade your communication further.  If you haven’t read the great  post by Stephanie Baffone called “What’s the Secret to a Happy Marriage?“, I highly recommend that you check it out and be conscious to avoid the unhealthy communication patterns that she highlights.

Remember, it starts with you.

4. Establish Expectations

Once you’ve gotten your own mind set in the right place, it’s vital that you let your spouse know in clear terms what you need from them.

Find some quiet time, turn off the television and tell your spouse that you really need to talk.  Sit down face-to-face, take their hands in yours, look them in the eye and really impress upon them how very important this is to you.

Don’t assume that your husband (or wife) really understands how deeply concerned you are about their lack of communication.

Tell them.

5. Don’t Expect a Mind Reader

After you’ve been married for a while, it is so easy to fall into patterns.  This is especially true in the area of communication where you develop expectations that your spouse knows what you are thinking and how you’d like them to interact with you.

Take a few minutes to read “Attention Ladies: Your Husband Cannot Read Your Mind!” and take this message to heart.

With guys in particular, you cannot assume that we know what you want…trust me. 🙂

6. Set Aside the Time to Talk

If you want to have a healthy marriage with extraordinary communication, you have to make it a priority.

This requires time, although it isn’t as difficult as it may sound.  Check out our manifesto on the topic “Take 15 Minutes Each Day to Just be a Couple” and start setting aside a little time each day for the two of you to simply interact…without all of the distractions we all face in our busy family lives.

If you’re looking for some really easy, but very meaningful, ways to open up the conversation and feel reconnected in as little as 15 minutes, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of 15 Minute Marriage Makeover.

7. Affirm, Affirm, Affirm

Make it a point to let your spouse know about the things they do that you like!  There is no better way to encourage the behaviors you enjoy than by using positive reinforcement.

My wife and I try to make it a point to tell each other one little thing each day that we liked.  This could be as simple as saying thank you for an encouraging text message or sharing how cool you thought it was that they spent time playing with the kids outside while you prepared dinner in a quiet kitchen.

A little affirmation goes a long way!

Give It a Shot

If you take these tips to heart and implement them with passion, I am confident that you can make great strides in your marital communication.  I realize that some issues run deep, and if you have serious problems or a total lack of respect in your marriage, I would strongly advise you to seek professional counseling.

For those of you who simply feel like your spouse needs a kick in the pants, I’d encourage you to take the first step and try engaging them by taking these actions for a week.

I’d love to hear if you are able to make progress toward a more fulfilling, and conversational, marriage.

Take It to the Next Level with our Popular Communication Workshop

Communication is the core of any good relationship. And it’s especially vital to communicate well within your marriage.

Communication WorkshopYour relationship has matured and so has your need for quality communication – the way you interact in the morning, the way you argue, the decisions you make with your kids and the “feeling” you give off to the household when you get home from work are all important forms of communication.

This workshop was created to help you rekindle the intimacy in your marriage through better communication, in all forms. Join Dustin and guest expert Dr. Corey Allan to learn the exact steps you can take starting today to make it happen.

5 Reasons to Tell Her You Struggle with Porn

By Dustin | Communication , Help

This is a very important guest post about a topic that needs much more attention.  Thank you to Mark Chamberlain, Ph.D. for contributing it, and please check out more about his work in the bio line at the bottom of this post.

Maybe it started during a long business trip or surfing through cable channels late at night after she was asleep.

You found yourself more hooked into it than you wanted to be. Viewing that smut violates your own values, and you know she’d be offended if she found out. Her finding out… you shudder to think about that.

You don’t want to disappoint her or have her worry that this is a bigger deal than it really is. She has enough on her plate.

So you resolve to deal with it on your own. You’re confident that you can stay away from it. Maybe some day you’ll even tell her that it was something you conquered on your own long ago. So with renewed resolve you move forward, and do manage to stay away from it – for a while at least.

But then you find yourself caught up in the porn again. Enough times now that you’d have quite a bit to confess if you were to really come clean with her.

What’s a guy to do?

Tell her, that’s what!

I know it might feel impossible, but here are five really good reasons to muster the courage and just do it:

1. Women love real men! I don’t mean men with deep voices who drive pickup trucks and bench press a lot. I mean men who are genuine and honest and open. Our wives love it when we are willing to engage and connect as we are instead of pretending to be something else. Sure,women hate it when their husbands make a habit of lusting after other women, but most women understand that porn can be addictive for men.

She will be disappointed at first, maybe even emotionally devastated. But not nearly as hurt as if she were to find out on her own. She can come to understand that you want your life with her more than you want porn – but only if you open up to her about the struggle and let her know that!

2. You’re one of the good guys who deserves support! You may have developed the habit of holding your emotions in, trying to be tough, and dealing with problems on your own. You may be living in the man box that so many of us were raised to believe we need to stay in.

However, it’s okay to admit that a struggle like this is bigger than you. If it weren’t, you would have succeeded on your own before now. If she were struggling with something this difficult in her life, you’d want her to tell you so that you could be there for her, wouldn’t you?

The truth is, after the initial shock, most women feel closer to their husbands once his porn struggle is out in the open and they’re working on it together. Together you can work on your way to porn addiction recovery.

3. You can get this wedge out from between you and your beloved! Let’s face it, for as long as you’ve been struggling, you haven’t been able to really look her in the eye. There’s a part of you that wants to fly under her radar instead of truly engage and connect with her. Caught up in the guilt, you’ve had less mental energy to devote to her and her needs.

You’ve been more irritable. You haven’t realized it, but the primary source of your misery is not actually the porn but the closeness you’re missing out on between you and the most important person in your life!

4. Teamwork is the best path out of a pornography habit! Now that she knows, you’ll be able to reach out instead of acting out. A strong relationship is the most powerful avenue of relapse prevention. Recalling her pain will be a tether to help keep you grounded when you’re tempted in the future.

You’ll have someone to talk to when you’re feeling emotionally deflated and more at risk of relapsing. And here’s the great thing about the fact that she’s a woman: you’ll be able to talk about what you’re feeling with someone who understands emotion. You’ll have someone else joining you in praying for your success in this struggle.

5. Struggling together will draw the two of you closer! (Eventually.) Communicating about this extremely difficult issue is training at high altitude. Later when you face a crisis at work or with one of your kids, you’ll have access to all of the skills and strengths you’re developing now. If you can face this together and work through it,nothing will be able to tear the two of you apart!

And you really can face this together and work through it!

Trust her enough to open up about it, and you will most likely discover that you can!

Note from Dustin: This topic is so important and too often treated as taboo.  Please do me a favor and share this post with everyone you know…you could have a real impact in a marriage if this reaches a husband that’s just waiting to hear these words.

(photo source)

______________________________

Mark Chamberlain, Ph.D. writes on the topic of porn and relationships at this blog Love You, Hate the Porn. He is also the co-author of an upcoming book by the same title.  You can pre-order Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity through Amazon.

Put Your Cell Phone Away During Date Night!

By Dustin | Communication

Put Your Cell Phone AWAY During DATE NIGHT (1)Cell phones have changed the way we communicate with our friends and family.

While this technology can help us stay connected more than ever, it can also hurt our relationships if we spend too much time looking at a screen instead of our partner.

To keep your relationships going strong, keep these cell phone etiquette tips in mind when you’re conversing with your partner.

Put Your Cell Phone Away During Date Night

Whenever you’re out on a date with your partner you should put your cell phone away.

Not just sitting off to the side of the table, but completely away in your purse or pocket. A study completed by psychologists at the University of Essex showed that even having a cell phone in view but not in use disrupts important conversations and lowers relationship quality.

Researchers put a cell phone or a notebook on a table and asked study participants to discuss certain topics with each other.

The group that had the cell phone said they felt that trust and empathy with their partner was lower during their conversation.

While the phone never vibrated or rang, and most participants had to be prompted to remember that it was there, its presence still affected the conversation quality.

Having your cell phone out during a date basically signals that the conversation you’re having with your partner isn’t important enough for your full concentration.

Don’t Have Important Conversations Through Text

Even though it may seem easier to have important conversations through a text message, you shouldn’t use that screen as a shield.

It’s impossible to tell mood or tone through a text, which opens up the possibility of a misunderstanding.

And don’t carry on a text conversation with another person while you and your partner are talking.

Send a Romantic Message

Of course, cell phones aren’t something that will completely ruin every relationship. They’re still a great communication tool.

You can use your cell phone to be alluring while you’re away from your partner. Send him an exciting text or leave her a romantic voicemail.

Or, if someone is out of town, use FaceTime or Skype to still see each other.

There are many new smartphones that have video chat capabilities. But you don’t have to spend fortunes on a new smartphone, you can get a great deal on a phone with the same capabilities such as the Galaxy S5 from carriers like T-Mobile.

Join an Online Space for Partners

If you’re friends with your partner on your social media websites, it doesn’t really give you the chance to create stronger bonds online.

You don’t want to share your intimate details on the same account that your mom sees, and you don’t want to be the couple who annoys everyone with their constant declarations of love.

Instead, consider joining an online space that’s just for couples. Websites such as TwoCup and Between let you share private photos and messages between just the two of you.

Get the Cell Phone Out of the Bedroom

While 75 percent of people admit to falling asleep with their cell phones within reach, experts say that not only can this habit affect intimacy, it can affect your sleep as well.

Even though it’s very convenient to use your cell phone as an alarm, it also makes it very easy to check your email or social media accounts one last time before you go to sleep.

The blue light given off by the LED screens inhibits melatonin, which is the hormone that helps us sleep.

Cell phones are also a distraction that prevent us from falling asleep quickly and stop us from reaching a deep sleep.

If you have to leave your phone in the bedroom, plug it in far away from the bed so you’re not tempted to reach for it during the night. And for the same reasons you shouldn’t take your phone with you on a date, you shouldn’t take it to bed with you, either.

There’s a time and a place for using your cell phone. While it’s a great way to stay in touch with your partner, once you’re face to face it’s time to put your phone away and enjoy each other’s company.

5 Awesome (and Worthless) Ways to Improve Communication in Your Marriage

By Dustin | Communication

5 Awesome (and Worthless) Ways to Improve Communication in Your MarriageSo, what’s the #1 thing most couples say is the key to a happy marriage?

Communication. Duh.

And of course it’s become the cliche, go-to response from grandparents when the video camera comes around at every wedding reception for good reason.  It’s true!

Good communication skills impact every single aspect of your relationship – from how you handle money to how you raise your kids to how you make your kids 🙂 – there’s just no way around it.

So, I think we can all agree that communication is vital to a healthy and happy marriage.

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Then don't miss our special announcement at the end of this post!

5 Awesome Communication Tips from Veteran Couples

That said, when’s the last time you’ve given your own approach to communication with your spouse any thought?

If you’re like me, it’s been a while – like most important things, it’s entirely too easy to lose sight of in the face of other more “urgent” matters.

Well, I was thinking about it recently, so I reached out to the smartest group of people I know for some advice.

Here are 5 fantastic tips they shared when asked what advice they’d give to newlyweds:

1. Under-communicate criticism.  Over-communicate praise.

2. Make your body language and your words match.

3. Always fight fair and remember you can’t take back hurtful words.

4. Use “I” statements, not “you” statements.

5. Don’t share your spouse’s faults with your family and friends.  You will soon forgive, but they may not.

How great is that?  These tips are 100% spot-on and I love them.

There’s just one problem.

Why Those Awesome Tips are Worthless

I love good marriage tips and posts with lists of Top 5 Ways to do stuff (like this one) as much as anyone.

They’re often inspirational and make us feel good when we read them.  Heck, we may even remember one or two quips to pass along to a young couple.

The problem is wonderful tips like these rarely impact your marriage in any real way.

You read them, nod and go back to doing the exact same thing in your life.

I’m not criticizing – I’m the king of the “nod and go.”

The truth is that it takes a little more effort to make a lasting and valuable improvement in your relationship.

Here’s a few reasons why reading top tips doesn’t help much and what you can do instead.

  • You Need to Invest

The reality is that you need to invest in training to make it stick.  This can be in the form of focused time or money, preferably both.

There’s free information on every topic under the sun available on the Internet, but quick and free advice rarely makes a meaningful impact.  It’s only when you’ve got some “skin in the game” that you take what you learn to heart and make it count.

  • You Need to Take Action

I’d say this is the biggest problem most of us face when we learn something valuable, and it’s tied directly to the lack of investment we have in the advice.  You can get the best marriage-boosting tips in the world, but it means nothing if you don’t act on it.

Those who take action on mediocre ideas will get infinitely more results than those that take no action on the best ideas.  If you want to improve your marriage, do something (real) about it.

  • You Need Some Real Support

This is the final area where people fail when it comes to learning and growing.  The reality is that sometimes we need some personal attention from a trusted expert to see results, and it’s always really beneficial to be part of a community.

With a sense of community, we get inspired to take action and there’s a sense of accountability.  Of course, the best accountability is a spouse who is walking alongside us in our journey to being the best husband or wife we can be.

Here’s What You Can Do Now to Make a Real Improvement In Your Marriage

I’m not going to go all Debbie Downer on you and leave you hanging here.  I’m going to tell you what you can do to make a lasting impact for the better – and it’s pretty darn easy.

Last year, I was trying to help a reader with an issue related to communication.  It was a pretty common question that I’ve seen many times.

I was starting to give her a similar answer that I’d given others in the past.  As I was typing my necessarily limited email response, it hit me – this is awesome advice that’s not going to be useful at all.

She needed more than my short “tip-type” response could offer.  She needed a full answer with practical action steps provided in a setting that required focus and investment on her part.

And frankly, she needed it from someone other than me.

Well, I should say my perspective was good, but adding in the perspective of a true communication expert was exponentially more helpful.

So, that’s where the idea of the Engaged Marriage How-To Workshop series was born.  I host a workshop accompanied by a guest expert on a very specific and highly important topic.

We present very practical, action-oriented info that benefits married couples.  Plus, we answer personal questions during the event and usually have bonus materials (like books) to maximize the help they receive.

We’ve completed five of these How-To Workshops on various topics so far, and the results and feedback have been tremendous!

Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage

Our most popular How-To Workshop was one on communication called How To Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage (Talking Optional), and we’ve made it even better with new bonuses and more convenient ways to use the training (video, audio and full text transcript).

I was joined for this workshop by my go-to resource when it comes to healthy and helpful communication, Dr. Corey Allan.  Corey is a marriage and family therapist, and he’s also a father and a husband for over 20 years.  He’s awesome.

This communication workshop is practical, actionable and it will impact your marriage for the better.  We actually guarantee as much.

So, if you’re ready to invest in your marriage and take solid action to be a better communicator with your spouse (and everyone else), you should definitely check out this workshop. 

And there’s no better time than right now during our big sale.

Click Here for Instant Access to the Communication Workshop!

How to Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage (Talking Optional)

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