Twelve Essential Qualities of Masterful Listening

“Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.” — Rachel Naomi Remen

For many of us, what someone says and what we hear may be wildly divergent.

“When can we talk?” can easily translate to “Uh, oh. I’m in the doghouse.”

“You look fine,” can become “he hates what I’m wearing.”Tin can phone

Clearly, listening is not simply about hearing the words someone says. Continue reading

The Shocking Truth About Thinking Big

resolutions-1Ahhh, January! The month of good intentions.

The month of diets begun and gym memberships opened, vices sworn off and new beginnings envisioned.

And now, one week in, it may well be the month of “I’ll start over next week.”

If you’re looking to make changes—and to actually succeed—I suggest you start small. Continue reading

Warning: Don’t Trust The Wall Street Journal To Give You Marriage Advice

You're LateImagine that one morning you sit down to breakfast and your partner hands you a copy of your annual review. There in a bright yellow folder is a formal evaluation, complete with pie charts and bar graphs, highlighting the areas in which your spouse thought you’d excelled and where you’d fallen short.

“Over all, your performance is up from last year. Sex has improved, both in frequency and enthusiasm, and you’re also more punctual, which, as you recall, was a big problem last year. However, you continue to be far too irritable about the house being messy, complaining an average of five times a week…”

Sound far-fetched? Insulting? A sure first step toward divorce? Continue reading

Give Your Spouse The Gift That Can’t Go Wrong

Happy smiling woman showing blank area on hand and looking isolaWhether you’re a big holiday shopper or a minimalist, here’s one holiday gift your spouse is guaranteed to enjoy.

There’s no need to wrap it and plenty of opportunity to use it.

This year, give your partner a break. Continue reading

10 Surefire Ways To Turn A Small Fight Into A Big One

bombIt’s no secret. Couples have fights.

But not all fights are created equal. Some start small and stay small while others pick up steam as they go and leave a mess in their wake.

And the difference in outcomes is not random.

Have you ever seen a fight coming a mile away and done nothing to stop it?

Or worse, just for the heck of it you did your best to provoke it?

Sometimes we’re like that. We’re short-fused or irritable or maybe we’re bored. Or, as a friend likes to say, we’re simply a fight looking for something to pick itself on.

Other times, the last thing we want is yet another knock-down-drag-out about unloading the dishwasher, but we feel powerless to stop it.

The truth is: we’re not. Continue reading

How To Talk With Your Spouse About The Things You Don’t Want To Talk About

It’s true. There are some conversations you’d rather not have.

Woman With Brown Box On Her Head - IsolatedLike the one about the credit card or your mother-in-law or how you hardly ever have sex.

Maybe you need to talk about quitting your job or having another baby, or how you lie awake worrying that your marriage is in trouble, or that you never have fun. Maybe you think your partner is having an affair.

And the very idea of bringing it up fills you with dread.

Maybe tomorrow, you say. Maybe next week.

Then again, maybe not. Continue reading

Mastering The Art of Shutting Up

Say no more!

Face it. When it comes to marital conflict, most of us don’t know when to hush up.

If you’re anything like me, it’s hard… no, let’s be honest… it’s downright impossible to resist throwing in that one last clever comeback, that sigh, that snarky retort— even though it’s guaranteed to get the two of you all fired-up. And not in a good way.

Most of the time it seems that nothing can keep us from jumping onto the old hamster wheel and taking a run. Not even our wisest, sanest voice asking us if the thing we’re fighting about is actually worth it, suggesting we drop it, begging us to, just this once, zip our lips.

For some reason, we can’t. Or, we won’t. Continue reading