Category Archives for "Communication"

The Art of Not Communicating

By Dustin | Communication

the-art-of-not-communicatingWe often hear communication in a marriage is everything, and that is indeed true.

But good communication doesn’t always require dialogue.

One of the most proactive measures I’ve taken to bring about a more peaceful marriage is to not talk.

Well, less than I used to anyway.

The reason this is important is that men are a largely silent bunch.

They speak far less than women do—research shows women talk some 13,000 words more per day than men!—not because they have nothing of value to offer but because men don’t talk just to talk. They think first about what they have to say and then ‘bottom line’ it.

That’s not how women operate.

To us, talking is second nature; and it starts when we’re young. Our girlfriends come over, and we talk for hours on end, or they don’t come over so we talk for hours on end on the phone.

Even as adults, a ‘girl’s night out’ is often filled with incessant gabbing. And if we haven’t seen a friend in months and then spend two hours together, we feel like we haven’t said squat. “We have to get together again,” we implore. “That wasn’t enough time!”

If you’re female, this will sound very familiar. A man won’t identify with this at all—although he may recognize it from his experience with sisters, wives and girlfriends. Women talk.

I once went to a ballgame with my husband and another couple. From the moment the other wife and I sat down, she and I turned toward one another and began talking. Half way through the game, we were still talking—and still facing one another.

The man behind us finally leaned over and asked what in the world two people could find to talk about for that long, especially in the middle of a baseball game! The truth is, we didn’t even know who our home team was playing.

Now I realize that’s an extreme (although 100% true) example, and I’m not suggesting most women don’t like baseball or would be as clueless as I was about who’s playing whom.

I’m simply demonstrating that talking is a largely female activity.

As a female, if I have a thought, I need to get it out. I love to talk! To communicate! To analyze! To dissect!

I could talk all day. I talk even when there’s nothing to say.

But that was not going over well in my marriage.

Men aren’t wired to communicate the way women do. They communicate in a different way, one of which involves—ironically—silence.

There’s a great scene in the movie Aloha when a military contractor named Brian is in his former girlfriend Tracy’s kitchen. Tracy is now married to Woody, an Air Force recruit who doesn’t talk much. When Woody walks into the kitchen where Brian and Tracy are chatting, he stares at Brian for a really long time. Then he walks over to him, looks directly into Brian’s eyes, and gives him a hug. Then he walks out of the room.

Lamenting her husband’s quiet nature, Tracy says to Brian, “See what I mean?” But Brian tells Tracy she has it all wrong and proceeds to tell Tracy everything he got out of the “conversation” between him and Woody—all based solely on body language.

Men are very attuned to body language.

Your husband is deeply affected by your intonations and facial expressions, as well as by the way you walk. He’ll pick up on your mood before you’ve even opened your mouth. That’s the power you have as a female. Even when you don’t talk, you’re making a statement.

We live in a culture that celebrates the loudest among us. But the advantages of being quiet are manifold.

Not talking gives you the opportunity to collect your thoughts before saying something you wish you hadn’t. Not talking makes your husband perk up because that is his language. Not talking makes you a better listener.

If you’d like more insights on how to put this into practice (easily), be sure to grab this free communication strategy from Engaged Marriage.

So on that note, I have an experiment for you.

For one week, decide to keep your feelings to yourself. Every time you want to say something, zip your lip and think first: Do I need to say this? Weigh the pros and cons first.

Then, when you do speak, do so carefully and purposefully as opposed to just talking every emotion you have in order to release your frustrations. (You can call or text your friend for that.) After you’ve been quieter than usual for a week, watch your husband start to be more receptive.

Watch him instigate conversations with you.

Really.

Suzanne Venker

 

Suzanne Venker is the author of five books that challenge feminist narratives regarding men, women, work & family.

 

Her newest book, The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men & Marriage: HOW LOVE WORKS, will be published February 2017.

 

You can find her at www.suzannevenker.com.

From Sour Couple To Power Couple: 5 Habits That Will Power Up Your Marriage

By Dustin | Communication

From Sour Couple To Power Couple- 5 Habits That Will Power Up Your Marriage

We all know them…

Those couples who seem to have it all together.

They accomplish things together. They play together.

They genuinely seem happy and content.

They seem to have it all…

They are a Power Couple.

What’s their secret?

What is it that they’re doing to make their relationship so strong and enduring?

The secret is…

They work at their relationship. Every. Day. 

What isn’t a secret is that you can have this kind of relationship too!

By replacing a few of those old energy-draining habits with some powerful new habits… you and your partner can power out of your relationship rut and into the marriage you’ve always wanted.

So what are these powerful habits?

Let’s take a look.

Power Couples Communicate

Power couples know that communicating is more than just “talking” to each other. They are open and genuine in expressing their feelings and needs.

They are present in the moment (yes, that means you have to put down the cell phone). They seek to understand first instead of thinking of their next response.

Power couples regularly engage in deep, emotional discussions that tap into a level of emotional intimacy that just “talking” misses. They nurture that emotional connection that is so vital to marital satisfaction.

If you need one more reason to improve your communication here it is…

Emotional intimacy lays the foundation for physical intimacy. Yes, a satisfying marital sex life starts in the head not in the… you know what.

Power Couples Invest In Their Relationship

Power couples know that what they put into the relationship will come back to them ten-fold. They make an effort, do the work and take the time necessary to keep the relationship healthy.

When you invest in your relationship… you trust what you give will grow. However if you invest nothing… you have zero chance of a return.

Investing sometimes means doing the hard things even when you don’t want to.

Compromising when you want to argue or seeing the positive in your partner even when they’re at their worst. Those kinds of actions build trust and commitment. Investing signals to your spouse, “You are worth the effort”.

Power Couples Make Intimacy A Priority

Power couples know that intimacy is much more than just having sex. Intimacy is that emotional closeness between you and your partner that allows you both to let down your guard and share your innermost personal feelings.

Intimacy grows from spending quality time together. Power couples make it a point to do the little everyday things that connect them as a couple – like making it a priority to eat dinner together or taking an evening stroll. They create little everyday rituals that run through their lives like a thread keeping them connected.

Power couples know the power of thoughtful gestures: snuggling, hugging, hand-holding, sweet words – those little things that create closeness.

And here’s a bonus… Couples with higher levels of emotional intimacy tend to report greater satisfaction with their sex lives. And speaking of sex…

Power Couples Get Physical

Emotional intimacy is important but let’s face it… we like to have sex too! Sex is an important part of a healthy relationship. Sadly, it’s also one of the first things that can fall by the wayside when life gets in the way.

Not connecting lately?

Power couples know that sometimes you have to leave a trail. A well-placed sexy note, a provocative text… even a whispered sweet nothing can bring your partner’s attention to the here and now.

Power couples know that you have to prioritize sexy time. Date nights, a spontaneous rendezvous, a surprise weekend getaway… even penciling yourself into your partner’s calendar can all keep sex on the schedule and just a little bit spicy.

The bottom line is… keep sex as a top priority.

Power Couples Fight Fair

Make no mistake… even power couples have their conflicts.

What sets them apart is the way they fight. Power couples know that when handled the right way conflicts are an opportunity for growth in the relationship.

So what does “fair fighting” mean?

In healthy relationships it means listening to understand each other’s feelings. It means looking for a solution and being willing to meet each other in the middle.

Fair fighting sometimes means apologizing when you need to. Yes, even power couples have to apologize sometimes. Hurtful words do tremendous damage. Once said aloud they can never be taken back.

If they do come out… a sincere apology can help the healing process to begin. Power couples know the power of accountability and forgiveness.

A marriage is not a contest and power couples know this. It’s not about “winners and losers”. It’s about finding solutions that empower you as a couple.

Want to learn more ways to power up your marriage? If so, you need to see this:

 http://www.engagedmarriage.com/tmm-presentation

Investing in your relationship is the single most important thing you can do to build a strong, empowered and satisfying love.

The sooner you start, the sooner you can reap the rewards.

Total Marriage Makeover

Be sure to check it out today…your spouse will definitely thank you for it!

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“Fight” Your Way To Romance: 6 Tips For Conflict Resolution That Bring You Closer

By Dustin | Communication

“Fight” Your Way To Romance- 6 Tips For Conflict Resolution That Bring You Closer

It’s the un-sexiest thing you do…

It’s Fighting, and it either happens way too often (or perhaps not often enough).

No matter your case, when you think about bringing back the spark in your relationship, the last thing on your mind is how you argue…

But fighting is the ultimate destroyer of date nights and intimate moments everywhere, and the only way to keep it from spoiling the fun is understanding how to do it right.

Your first thought is probably, “We don’t need to talk about fighting fair. We don’t fight like that.

None Of Us Want To Admit That We, As A Couple, Actually Do Things Like Fight.

Call it what you will. The fact is that every couple, even the very-definition-of-happy couple, has conflict.

They fight. Sometimes those conflicts are short-lived, minor skirmishes. It’s natural, and in some cases beneficial.

When you aren’t fighting fair, those little skirmishes become full on battles ending in emotional wounds, bitterness and no resolution to the problem.

Left unresolved, the scenario will play out again. And again.

There’s a difference between healthy fighting and fighting that causes serious damage, and we’re about to show you what that difference is and just how you can start fighting fair.

Over Time, Repeated Battling Becomes The Way You Communicate With Each Other.

When you fight, you get into a sort of communication rut where it becomes the norm to say and do ugly things with the rationale of, “I was mad. I didn’t mean it.”

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “You can’t unring a bell.”  The same is true about words said in a conflict.

Once you’ve said them, they hang in the air between you. You can’t take them back. Maybe you really didn’t mean them but the hurt remains long after the apologies are made.

Fighting Done Right: 6 Key Tips For Successful Battles

If this sounds familiar, then read on!

Imagine being able to disagree, discuss and resolve a problem without yelling, tears or hurt feelings.
You’re about to learn powerful ways to handle conflicts with your partner in ways that end in resolution instead of hurt feelings.

1. Stay Cool

Yelling communicates aggression, anger and a perception of threat.

The survival response is triggered and defenses go UP! You want to speak in a way that encourages your partner to hear you not fear you.

  • Screaming at your partner doesn’t make him/her hear you any better. Yelling can actually have the opposite effect – they simply shut down and tune you out.  
  • Your partner is more likely to be willing to talk if you remain in control of your tone and manner.  Pointing in someone’s face, crossing your arms, rolling your eyes, sarcasm and similar actions communicates agitation, aggression or even disregard.
  • Your calm presence will also encourage your partner to remain calm.  It’s hard to yell and scream at someone who is staying calm and in control.   

2. Show Respect

is a really, really good time to remember: think before you speak. Being respectful sends the signal to your partner that even though you may be angry, you can be kind.

  • Avoid name calling and ugly remarks. They cut to the core and once said, will linger in your partner’s mind long after the conflict is over.
  • Use “I statements” to express how you feel.  Use words that express how you feel and what is important to you. This helps your partner understand what you want and need without minimizing what they feel.
  • Avoid demands or ultimatums. Instead, propose solutions or options to discuss.

3. Time Out!

Getting nowhere? Try one of these strategies:

  • Call a time-out! Get some fresh air, walk the dog or simply step into another room. The goal is to step away from the conflict for a few minutes so that you and your partner can cool off BEFORE either of you say something you don’t mean and can’t take back.
  • Time-outs should be at least 30 minutes. You need time to emotionally and physiologically calm down.
  • Have a signal that you can both use to safely say, “Hey, I need a break.” After your time out, check back to see if your partner is ready to resume the discussion. If not, set a time to continue. This is the key…Your partner needs to trust that you will come back and resolve the problem.

4. Here-And-Now

If you focus on past issues, you can’t address what is happening between you now. If the old issue wasn’t a problem 24 hours ago, why is it relevant now?

  • Focus on one issue at a time. You can’t resolve all of your problems at once. If you have more than one, make a list and tackle them over time. Success breeds success.
  • Avoid using “always” and “never”. They are rarely true.

5. Find Common Ground

Lose the idea of a “fight” meaning that one wins and one loses. That’s a game. Your relationship is not a game.

  • The goal is not to “win” because if one “wins”, then the other one must “lose”.  The goal is to find a resolution you can each live with…give a little, get a little.
  • Hear your partner out.  To find a true resolution, you have to understand what your partner’s feelings and needs are.
  • Seek a resolution and not just a truce. A true resolution means that you’ve shared your feelings, forgiven, apologized and found a solution that will keep the battle from being fought over and over.

6. Keep It Private

It’s easy to want to vent to others. We want someone to validate our feelings. Fight the urge!

You won’t get what you need and you’re setting your partner up for a battle he/she can’t win. You may be willing to forgive your partner but your family and friends will have a much harder time of it.

  • Your relationship, your business.  Don’t involve your mom, your BFF, your co-workers or anyone else. They are more likely to take your side and simply tell you what you want to hear.
  • No Social Media. Social media is the last place you want a conflict to play out. Your relationship is not a reality show. Respect your relationship.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that regardless of the issue, you’re fighting for your relationship.  You can fight to be right or you can fight to be happy.  

You have to decide what is most important.

Whether it’s handling conflict or keeping the relationship healthy, even the most loving couples can get off track. Sometimes a little nudge is all that’s needed to get back on the path to happiness, fulfillment, and sensuality.

Once you can get your fighting right, the romance is sure to resurge.

Ready to Learn More Ways to Help Your Relationship Thrive?

Learning how to fight is a great start, but we both know that there’s a lot more to really open up and let the romance thrive.  If you’re ready to bust out of a romance rut, you’ll LOVE our Bring Back the Romance program.

Click here to Ramp Up the Romance Today

How to Keep the Romance Alive When Kids Bring Chaos

Be sure to check it out today…your spouse will definitely thank you for it!

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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.

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