connection

Discover Relationship Saving, Connection Boosting, Date Nights

 

Ahhhh “Date Nights”, it’s the calling card of most relationship experts and magazine fodder to couples who are struggling to connect.
 
Sure, you started out on this road side by side, and then life does what life does.  Careers take off,  layoffs happen, family members get ill, bills mount, adorable kids rampage, after school activities take over, and first, you met those challenges together.  Then, needs must, and you split your resources to head off to put out one fire or another whilst the other did the same and now, you feel so very far apart, you’re not sure how you are ever going to meet in the middle and connect again

 
Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 

Date nights DO work! 

Quality time is indeed remedy. Emphasis on the QUALITY.

And on some nights, a blissful night of watching your fav shows will suffice however in this weeks LOVE LETTER I want to offer you up some serious supercharge ideas to true connection that will traverse the chasm and endear you and your partner to each other much more significantly.
 
For most of us, date nights are stolen dinners out, hopefully not looking at our phones, and often fraught with keeping the convo engaged and inspired.  We promise to NOT talk about the kids, or work but then… WTAF is there left to talk about?!?
 
 
 
Let’s take this whole DATE NIGHT concept, and dust off the cobwebs!

 
Photo by  Isaiah McClean  on  Unsplash
 

Studies have shown that when people participate in an activity together, a unique bond that is formed.  And BOND is powerful connection.

Bronze star to activities you already both enjoy together.

Silver star if one partner is introducing a passion to another.

And holy smoke level gold stars for activities that are new to both partners!
 

Dance class is a classic, heck, many a rom-com has even featured it HOWEVER there is so much more than that cliché date night to be had.

 

 
AJ Garcia via Unpslash.com

AJ Garcia via Unpslash.com

 

Here are some shiny star ideas to jump start you into your very next date night!  From those that cost the big bucks to some that cost little to nothing.


Grab each other close, & set date night mode to EXPLORE;
 

  •     Cooking Classes

  •     Cocktail making classes

  •     Lectures

  •     Personal Development Courses

  •     Music Lessons

  •     Walking Tour of Your City

  •     Museum Tours

  •     Surf Lessons

  •     Race Car Driving Experiences

  •     Zip Line Experience

  •     Continuing Education Courses

  •     Kite Surfing Lesson

  •     Fishing Day Trip

  •     Art classes

  •     Boudoir Photo-shoot

  •     Golf Driving Range Night

 
 

 

We want to curate date nights that give us more to talk about and/or create magical moments of play and laughter and/or bond us as we are first timers together. 

I know some of the above ideas, will be a trifecta for many of you!

Now, take the above, let your fingers to the walking on Google, check out groupon, and even your local town hall board and supercharge your next date night.

 
 
Which heart connecting idea will you choose?  comment below!

 

P.S.  And to all my fab singletons reading this... erm HELLLLLO  great 3rd, 4th and 5th date ideas that pack some serious connection punch right here!   Begin as you mean to go on, dearest ones. xx

 
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Have you put your own oxygen mask on first, in your relationship?!?

Relationship advice on how to combat the most common problems that cause divorce and separation. How do we rebuild connection when we feel we are no longer IN LOVE with your spouse?

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Putting the cart before the horse, in LOVE.

What's love got to do, got to do with it.
What's love but a second hand emotion.
-Tina Turner

 

 

Um, what’s a Relationship and Love Coach posting THAT lyric from Tina Turner, for?!?!   Well, firstly, cause... Tina kinda got it right!! 

We focus so much of our attention, time, energy, and despair into LOVE… however CONNECTION is the true key!


I hear it all the time… from my relationship coaching clients...
“The love is gone!” or “I’m not sure if I love this person anymore, or at least I’m not IN LOVE with them anymore.

From my Love Coaching clients...
“I’ve never properly been in love!” or “What if LOVE never happens for me?” 



Ever hear that old phrase...   You can’t put the cart before the horse?  

image; pixabay

image; pixabay

Well  darling,  LOVE is not the horse, it’s the cart.   CONNECTION is the horse, and love is the amazing cart we pile an entire life’s work into, like marriage, children, homes, holidays… even in laws!

However, without connection, that cart will stop moving. And without movement, there is no growth… and without growth, LOVE WITHERS AND DIES.


So how do we connect with others?  how do we feed the horse, connection, to pull the grand cart of love?

image via Pixabay

image via Pixabay

 

  • We connect with others through clear open communication.

  • We connect to others by inquiring about them with genuine curiosity.

  • We connect to others by listening to what they have to say. 

  • We connect with others, through sharing of ourselves. 

  • We connect with others by allowing them to see us, truly see us, warts and all. 

  • We connect with others by asking for help.

  • We connect to others by making ourselves vulnerable.

  • We connect to others through taking the quality time, to hold eye contact.

There is a very well know, and quite fascinating a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one.


The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue.



A very poignant part of this study and the many spin off articles written, is that these questions have to be done, without distraction. AND, the two people must stare into each others eyes form 2-4 minutes.  Two minutes, is admittedly, awwwwkward, however if you can push to 4 minutes, wowza some real magic starts to happen!

image via Pixabay

image via Pixabay

Doing the above can be super scary, when we are out and about dating. What if they don’t like me back?!?!   WHAT IF THEY DO??????  No risk/vulnerability, NO REWARD, babes!

Doing the above, after being in a long term committed relationship for some years, can feel like a distant memory. Often, cause it has been a long time, since we have truly tried to connect with out partners. 


We blame time. Life is so busy! 

We blame them. Why should I bother, when they aren’t?!?

We blame our jobs,. Right after this project is done, THEN we can steal some time to connect, just the two of us.  THEN I will focus in on meeting someone!

We blame having kids. I’m too bone tired to even think straight after chasing them around all day!   

 

Blame, is never very helpful. 


This isn’t about justice. This is about love. This isn’t about who’s right, this is about being happy!  This isn’t about playing it safe… and yet, LOVE offers some of us, the safest space we have ever experienced!




So, how’s that horse of yours?  I bet it’s hungry, and in need of some brave quality time. 



What will you do to feed the connection in your relationship today?


What brave vulnerable acts will you do this week in your dating life?

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Using 'Reflective Listening' To Improve Relationship Communication

Communication is a multi faceted skill set.  We often get so caught up in improving our ‘Verbal’ communication skills, we don’t dedicate the necessary time to all the other bits that make communication successful. 
 
Perhaps the most overlooked and wayward of the communication skills these days, across our society as a whole, is LISTENING.

sculpture-2275202_640.jpg

Why yes.  Remember LISTENING?  It’s that oh so crucial other half of Verbal communication, that if we don’t get it right… we miss out on the conversation and on connection, completely.
 
 
Today, I wanted to focus on one particular listening skill we can all easily work towards being better at, every day called REFLECTIVE LISTENING.


 
>> You know when your partner jumps in, midway through your well thought out rant and finishes your sentences for you?
 
>> When you find yourself tuning out your partner, as you retreat into your own mind to carefully mount your defense, AKA your response, to what they are saying?
 
>> Or how about when you KNOW you’re speaking plain English and yet still, what they heard and what you said, simply doesn’t match up??


 

Seeing RED yet?

I don’t blame you.  We’ve all been there.
 
This is what listening to respond looks like.  WE NEED to learn how to listen to UNDERSTAND! 
 
This is also why you keep having the same conversations over and over, and are getting nowhere but straight to the land of frustration and anger. 
 
Next stop on that train?
 
Derailment!   Cause why bother, right?   Why even go through the trouble oftalking about this anymore?  Nothing ever changes!  They aren’t really listening to you, anyways!


Using a technique called REFLECTIVE LISTENING can quickly help you become a better listener.  Reflective listening, begins with the simple act of repeating back what someone say to us, but in your own words.  This shows you didn’t just hear what the other person said, but understood it as well.

rying this skill set on.  At first, can feel a bit odd and insincere.  You may even think, this might prove more annoying than anything else.  However, when used correctly (and practice will get you there)  REFLECTIVE LISTENING is a killer way to drive conversations forward.
 
Here is a prime example of such an exchange;
 
SPEAKER 1
I get so angry when you spend so much money without telling me. We’re trying to save for a house!!!
 
SPEAKER 2
We’re working hard to save for a a house, so its really frustrating when it seems like I don’t care
.
 

 
Now, TONE is really important here.  We want to use a tone that comes across as a statement, with a bit of uncertainty.  The end goal is to express ‘I think this is what you are telling me, but correct me if I’m wrong’. Your reflections don’t have to be perfect.  If the other person has to correct you, that’s actually a really good thing!  Helllllo!  Now, you are actually having a conversation based on trying to really understand one another better.  Not, oh I don’t know. Trying to prove a point, win an argument, or force someone to hear you!
 
That, my darlings, is progress from the familiar train wreck we are accustomed to, in just a few sentences exchanged.


 
Try to reflect the other persons emotions, even if it wasn’t part of the sentence they spoke. 
 
SPEAKER 1
Why do you always take this route?  There is always traffic and we are going to be late again to pick up the kids?
 
SPEAKER 2
You’re worried we will be late to pick up the kids, and I’ve chosen the route I know best, that usually has traffic.  Do you know a better route we can take?

 
Speaker 1 never mentioned being worried however it was probably implied through their tone or the look on their face.  When we acknowledge emotions, it hows we are not just listening and mimicking back their words but using our eyes to read our partners communication as well.  The understanding, just got next leveled! 



 

Sometimes our partners have a whole lot to say in one statement, filled with both essential and non essential details and story lines.  And pulling out a notebook or recording device to keep up, well that might not send the right message J
 
When we reflect back, we want to pick out the main points only.
 
SPEAKER 1
First, I woke up late, because you turned off both alarms. Then I went to get in the bathroom to get ready and nearly killed myself because the floor was soaking wet from when you took a shower, my mom called and you know how that gets me worked up, the dog peed on the floor, the kids were running around with two different shoes on, I forgot to brush my teeth, and to top it all off I get into the car and there is no gas in it BECAUSE you the last person to drive it, left me on empty!! 
 
 
SPEAKER 2

I hear you saying, you had a shitty morning and that I contributed to that by not taking the time to consider how my actions may affect you. 
 

The reality is, most of us have a handful of well grooved auto responses on hand that are continuing the unsuccessful dynamics in our relationship communications. 
 
Do you know what I say when my husband complains about the route I chose to drive?
 
“Oh, sorry… did you want to drive?!?!?!“ in my best flippant nasty tone.
 
Yup. Almost every time.  Not very reflective, huh?
 
Most humans are creatures of habit.  We wear a groove and settle there.  Sometimes habitual structure can be a good thing.  We always say ‘I love you’ when someone leaves the house or a quick kiss goodnight before rolling over, like clockwork. 

However, when the groove becomes a rut, and is causing communication to break down in our relationship, the very next thing to go is connection. 
 
Without connection, love cannot survive. 
 
 

I love to hear how you get on with introducing REFLECTIVE LISTENING into your communications in the comments here!

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Hello? Can you hear me? Is Technology A Relationship Crusher?

Hello?? Can you hear me? I’ve been wondering… why the heck you won’t put down your phone and LISTEN TO ME?!?!?

 

Ever been in that conversation?  You’re talking about something important, or nothing interesting at all, and your partner is glued to their phone/ipad/laptop/netlfix/iphone/fitbit???

Pssst, come here. Can I make a top secret relationship coach admission to you?  I’m the one in my partnership busy facebooking as if it’s life itself, while my partner is talking! 

I have even heard myself say, in my best teenage angst voice, ‘WHHHHHHHAATTT? I’m busy here!!!’

Hi there, my name is Jessica Elizabeth, and apparently, I’m a newsfeed update addict!  YIKES!

 

Yup. I do it too.  We all do.  Everywhere we turn the soft glow of our screens, sing it’s siren song.

 

In my defense, (or at least the one I offer up to my partner) I’m perfectly capable of doing two things at once!  Yeah!  Except, the evidence seems to prove, I miss at least 50% of what he is saying to me.  Womp. Womp.

And. My partner hates it. He really, really, hates it.

Whenever we opt out of real conversation AND eye contact with your partner, our connection suffers. We are no longer being present and available to engagement , and love.  I have heard some pretty disturbing quotes from partners on the other end of this tech obsession; and the overarching, repetitive message “WHAT’S HAPPENING ON [social media, email, television, the internet] IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ME!”.  

Sounds dramatic. But OUR actions are indeed sending that very clear message. 

 

Do you need a tech detox in your relationship?  Take the test and find out!

Here is a fun way to score yourself on just how well you might be doing AND/OR just how much technology you might need to put down in order to connect with your partner.

 

CATEGORIES;

Bedroom Tech           Dinner Tech             Tech 2 Tune out                     

 

Hi Pat, I’ll take ‘Bedroom Tech’ for 300 please!

 

Bedroom Tech, for 300;

Television in the bedroom?  Oh come on, this culprit has been around for years. Television in the bedroom is responsible for more missed conversations AND sex opportunities since 1988.

Do you have a TV in the bedroom? (add 50 points) 

Are you watching it till you are ready to sleep? (+100 points) 

Are you and your partner at least cuddling watching it TOGETHER as an act of some ‘end of day respite’ solidarity? ( deduct 100 points from total score)

 

Quick Fix = If you are still rocking that 80’s look, it’s time to dump it.  Or at the very least put in a no TV for the last 30 minutes before lights out.  Create some space for a bit of couple time.  Catch up, cuddle, or hey, maybe even light a candle or two….     

 

 

Social media before bed? Oh yes indeed,  I went there.  Are you on your phone or tablet liking, loving, emojing and commenting till the very last moment, before turning over and calling it a night? 

Not only have scientific studies shown over and over that the light of our screens is extremely detrimental to our sleep patterns, it sure isn’t good on the relationship either.  Oh, I know, your bedroom at the end of the night, once the kids are all tucked away, is your ONLY chance to be alone and catch up on these things. You are not alone, doll.  Your partner needs some attention and so do you.  + I saw you posted, like, 10 times today!  Busted. 

Are you tweeting, FBing, instagramming till the lights go out? (+100 points) 

Are you doing it even after the lights go out? (+ 50 points)

 

Quick Fix = set up all your chargers out of the bedroom or across the room, this way it’s not there next to your bedside, singing its sweet siren song of pings and beeping news feed alerts.  

 

 

DINNER TECH, for 300;

I’ll have a steak, medium rare w/ social media sauce + some work emails on the side please.

I see pics posted every day on instagram, facebook, etc... where groups of friends are out to dinner, and everyone is glued to their phone instead of talking.  And we have all seen couples out at dinner, not talking to each other, but instead on their phones swiping, messaging….

Dinner out with your partner, is a wonderful time to have the fun chats. What I mean by that, public places are never the best venue for deep conversations laced with all that needs to change in your relationship.  HOWEVER they are amazing opportunities to talk about what films you want to go see and why, what happened during your day, share a political rant and generally unplug from it all, just the two of you. 

If it’s more than the two of you, i.e. family dinners, with every moment you shoot off that next email, or escape into the virtual reality that is Instagram… you lose. We can’t rewind time; be present, engage and enjoy those dinners, one day those cute kids might well be sullen teenagers complete with one word grunted answers.  Make it last.

Are you ‘that couple’ who spends more than 30% of dinner using your phone? (Add 300 points)

 

Quick fix = A baby step, set a time limit of 10 minutes to catch up on what you need to on all things interwebs, when you first sit down.  Epic step, silence your phone, and keep  it off the table and stored away on in your pocket or bag. If you can’t see it or hear it, you won’t be tempted to pick it up.  

 

 

Tech 2 Tune Out, for 300;

This category is for those of us who actively utilize our phones as an escape mechanism. 

If we feel a bit socially awkward at an event, if the conversation with our partner shifts to a topic we are not comfortable with, if we are so stressed out in general… our phones have become our doorway to somewhere else, fast. Not sure if you are that guy/gal?  Practice some mindfulness over the next week and take note of how often, when and why you pull out your phone when with other people.

If you are doing this when the tough topics come up between you and your partner as an act of avoidance or disengagement… I probably don’t have to tell you, that by doing that, your partner is only getting more frustrated and angry, which means the tension level you seek to avoid... is just building as a result.  It’s also high time you got real with why these conversations are triggering you to find an escape route.

Do you us technology to TUNE OUT?   (Add 300 points)

 

Quick fix – Resist, resist, resist.  This detox is going to hit you in all the feels but it’s so necessary. If you find yourself picking it up, put it back down, fast.  One client of mine, silently repeats to herself “Tune in, be present” as a mantra to get her through it. Find a phrase/mantra you can use to curb the cravings, and ditch this particular social crutch.  

 

 

So, in this game, the highest score… makes you the biggest connection loser. DOH!  

How did you score? 

Where can you tweak your tech use to create more space, time and connection with your partner and improve your relationships, starting today?

 

The first week of any detox is the hardest, stay strong… YOU CAN DO IT! 

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Everyday easy tweaks to go from disconnecting TO connecting to those around us. (That we ALL could do better and more often!)

Everyday tweaks you can make to opening up and establishing connection with those you love.

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