relationship communications

Are you TWO bickering your way through the holidays, again?

The holidays can be rife with bickering, arguments and disappointment with our partners. The stress levels of trying to have ‘the best Christmas ever’ or winning the approval from the in laws come Hanukah, mixed in with running kids to even more activities than normal, buying the absolutely perfect gifts for every one on your list, end of year meetings and reports by the sleigh load at the office, all while putting on your best sparkling party dress for dinners and drinks(!!) truly exasperates the cracks and wounds in our partnerships.

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Happy F’ ing Holidays to one and all, right?

Ahem. Notice I used the words exasperates? Not creates?

Stress puts humans into survival mode. And in survival mode, our masks drop. Because, ain’t nobody got time for that. Old hurts, festering resentments bubble to the surface, unfettered by our normal level of control.

We lose out temper more easily. Our frustration levels skyrocket. And Bickering can become arguments to door busting fights in the blink of an eye.

The good news? Aside from some serious Zen Buddhist holiday makers (of whom I have yet to meet),

IT HAPPENS TO US ALL AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR!


Then we do something incredible regretful. We open the door to shame, and invite it to our holiday party. We berate ourselves and our partners with phrases like… It’s Christmas For heavens sake! Or “Can’t we just have ONE holiday season without doing this??! , Really? You want to ruin the holiday season, again??

So how can we get better at this? How can we lean into the acceptance that stress is exasperating our emotional state without said exasperation taking over, and yelling like a banshee OR spending days doing silent treatment?


I want to offer up two concepts to help you navigate this holiday season with more compassion and place happiness under your tree.

First up…

CONFIRMATION BIAS:

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Confirmation Bias is where we have already decided something is true, and then seek out, both consciously and unconsciously the evidence that supports our theory.

 

We say, “He’s ALWAYS late to get the kids!”  And so, what do we focus in on?  The two times he picked them up on time? Or the four he was late?  When we are in confirmation bias mode, we won’t even be able to see the two times he got it right.  All we seek, and therefore see, are the four times, he did not.

 

When we believe “Every Christmas, she gets so crazy, I can’t stand it!”  We wait, quietly, patiently like that creepy Elf On The Shelf, popping out with a mighty AHA!! GOTCHA!!! When she comes in with yet another box of expensive Christmas baubles or snaps at the kids whilst decorating the tree. 

 

In Confirmation Bias Mode, we are blind to the moments and events, where our partner behaved in total contradiction to this belief we are holding.

Confirmation Bias antagonizes our old resentments and annoyances about our partner.

 

Next up…

MINDFULNESS:

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We want to become way more mindful about our language. The language we use in our own heads, first.

Words like ALWAYS, NEVER, EVERY TIME, NOBODY, EVERY BODY are red light indicators we are formulating a limiting belief. These all encompassing, finite words make our emotions, what we FEEL LIKE sound all too factual.

ALWAYS late to grab the kids?

EVERY Christmas she gets crazy?

The reality is… it’s not ALWAYS, OR EVERY TIME, OR NEVER, OR EVERY BODY… but it can sure feel that way. And when we confirm those feelings with language, we are primed for a good fight.

Let us, at this wonderful time of the year, try to foster more goodwill in our partnerships. To spread more cheer to one another.

I’m rooting for you both to win, my darlings. Now, let’s get you rooting that way too!

p.s. Can you imagine if you applied the above, to a fraction of the family that drives you mad EVERY December?!?! ;) WOWZA!

Happy Holidays from me and the hubba hubba! xx

Happy Holidays!.png
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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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THE BLAME GAME

How's your Blame Game skills these days? 

Ahhhh yes, The Blame Game.  I'm well acquainted with this party trick, for sure!

It’s typically the very first thing we go to, in the heat of the moment, when we are hurt and angry.  Which is actually completely normal.  When someone feels victimized, when we are hurt, we naturally focus our attention on the person, place or thing that has hurt us.

If I am burned by the stove, after whelping a very loud ouch or, in my case, most likely a high volume expletive, my eyes will go to, the stove!  If, on hearing me scream out, you come running into the kitchen and ask, ‘What happened?’,  I will point at the stove! 

If we further unpick this analogy, we realize that the stove didn’t burn me. I burned myself on the stove.  I got too close to something hot, I was careless, doing too many things at once, the stove, of course, did not leap across the kitchen and burn me!

 

So when we are hurt by our partners, whether that harm is real or perceived, intentional or unintentional, the finger will naturally rise and point at them.

 

The Blame Game, is when we never stop to unpick our part. 

The Blame Game is when we are always carrying around with us, all the things they have done, to cause us harm. 

The Blame Game is when we decide unequivocally, that the problems and failings in our partnerships, are completely (or most often) their fault.   

 

I know what you’re thinking… BUT JESSICA, IT IS THEIR FAULT!!! 

Yes, sometimes the blame is absolutely, justified and pointed in the right place!

 

Here’s the thing;

THE BLAME GAME, IS A LOSING GAME.

EVERY.

DAMN.

TIME.

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If you want to change the communication in your partnership, and start to garner some truly effective transformation in how you express and then get your needs met… The Blame Game MUST go!

 

Here’s some tips on doing just that;

  • Never make your partner feel selfish, inadequate or incompetent. Effective communication will dissolve if we focus on pointing out the other persons shortcomings. Any human being’s natural reaction will be to go on the defensive AND/OR to be demobilized by shame.  

 

  • Find a time to have the discussion when you are calm. Attempting to have effective communication when emotions are running high, especially anger is a contradiction in terms. When we are angry or hurt, most of us will immediately pick up the blame game. Again, that’s normal to do so, it’s just not okay to try and communicate effectively when we are in that place.  Take a walk to cool off OR Set a day and time, in advance, with your partner to discuss what happened.  This allows both of you time to cool, to prepare mentally AND no one ever feels like they walked into an ambush.

 

  • How things sound in our head and how they sound in reality, can be very different.  Especially when we are hurt or angry.  Speaking to one or two trusted friends or a coach/therapist can help us ratify our thinking and shift away from the blame game, BEFORE we speak without partners.

 

Remember, you can still advocate for your needs, and point out where your partner goes wrong… just drop the BLAME GAME and pick up the tools that actually result in effective communication AND you getting what you need! LOVE!

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How do I make a donation to a cause you believe in?

Hello, my name is Jessica Elizabeth, and I think YOU should be able to read my mind!

When working with couples or empowered individuals in relationships, I have come upon a very common sentiment, that ‘my partner should just KNOW to do this, that or the other thing!’.    

And that somehow, if we have to tell them exactly what we want, or what we need them to do, they are even worse of a failure for having to be instructed so directly.  That if they really loved us, if they really cared for us, they would just intrinsically understand, and instinctively do what’s needed, to show us we are loved.

This line of thinking is fraught with assumption and shame.  Two things that definitely do not create the environment that love needs to thrive.

There is a great American proverb, (that I will write in my best Texas drawl) 'When you ASSUME, you make an ASS of U and ME

 

  • We assume, that our partner knows how to do this whole relationship malarkey, that they were given the tools for communication, conflict resolution and the language of love is one they are fluent in. 

 

  • We assume, that if they do not, know how to meet our needs, that equates to a lack of intent to love us.

 

  • We shame them from a crucial aspect of human connection, the ability to ask for help.

 

  • We shame them to side step vulnerability, to feel safe and secure enough to admit they do not have all the answers, they do not know what to do.

 

  • We shame them into believing, as we have come to believe, that they are incapable of meeting our needs and of loving another person.

 

  • We shame ourselves into the thinking, that we are not lovable.  That somehow, we do not invoke the overall desire in our partners to create the drive needed, to love us.

 

Ultimately, we position ourselves in a place where we no longer ask ourselves, how can I help the person I love, succeed, to a place of why should I help them?  And if you thought the shame and assumption was the danger zone, now we are in the center of fiery relationship hell.

 

Goodbye, goodwill. 

Hello shame, resentment and anger.

The act of love, is an exchange.  The best kind (and hardest to master) of exchanges is unconditional.  We offer our love without any expectation or conditions, whatsoever.  However, any exchange of love, even unconditional love, allows for clear instruction.  If the person wishes to return our love, to offer us love in return without condition of expectation of reward, we can absolutely tell them to do that in the way that would have the most impact.

Let’s step back and look at this from a place using the power of analogy.  I would like to make a donation to a cause, you believe in.  There are no strings, I would like to keep it anonymous, so in no way the monies can be attributed back to me.  I do not desire nor expect you to make a similar contribution to a cause I believe in. 

After the lady (or man) has protest enough. i.e. “how kind of you’s, really you don’t have to’s have been extolled. 

What is the very next step to further this transaction? 

For me to cut a check?  

NOPE.  Who am I cutting the check to?

 

For me to research on the internet, scour our social media, to figure out what ‘cause’ has the most meaning to you?  

NOPE.  What if I get it wrong?  This is a lot of money, surely you want it to go to a cause you care most about?

 

Would you sit back, and try endless Jedi mind tricks to get me to guess which cause you wanted the gifted money to go to?

NOPE. That just sounds silly.

 

In this scenario, its probably seems quite clear, that WE have to let ME know, which cause means most.  AND, if you really want to ensure I make this donation to the right place, as quickly as possible, you would probably take that extra step to send me the detailed information about where to send the check to.  Your own gratitude, would drive you to make this process as easy as possible for me to make this gift.

Why aren’t we doing the same for our partners, who are offering their contribution.  Why wouldn’t we go out of our way to let them know, how?  What acts would have the greatest benefit, which acts have the least benefit to our own happiness?

Now, what if you didn’t tell me where to send the money?  What if I never even told you I was doing this wonderful thing.  I just went ahead, saw you loved seals and made a healthy contribution to the Save the Seals charity, in your name?

Would you be angry?  Would you be resentful?  Would you huff and puff, heave and sigh, despairing to me “Why can’t you do anything right?”

Chances are, you would not. You would be happy for the seals and grateful that I had thought to do thing kind thing.  You wouldn’t think less of me.  Sure, seals wouldn’t have been your first choice, but hey, they’re cute and you do want them to be saved so…

We see the charitable monetary donation, for what it is, this purely beautiful act and one that would be best used, if we participated in helping the other person to make it. 

The love we offer our partners, and the love they attempt to offer back, should be beautiful donations.  Coins of care, love and kindness, easily and willingly placed into the bank of our relationship, to be used for good causes.   When we come from a place of goodwill for ourselves, our partners and our relationships, we do not hesitate to step up and help them do the very best they can to make that contribution count.

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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.

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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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Are Modern Dating Trends Infiltrating Relationships, too?

Do we leave behind some of the more insidious dating trends, once we get into that sometimes elusive long term relationship?

Over the recent years, in my own dating and relationship coaching practice, I have witnessed and helped my clients overcome every new dating trend, the good, the bad and the really horrific!  

The way human beings navigate finding love, and the many pitfalls, no longer surprise me however I was unpleasantly surprised  to see these dating trends outliving their seemingly obvious expiration dates, by showing their face with the couples, I work with too! 

Knowing what I do, of human nature and how the brain easily attaches to both good and bad behaviour, I shouldn’t have been surprised.  The following is a deep dive into which dating trends are taking up more permanent residence and how they can adversely affect our romantic partnerships.

 

1.GHOSTING

image; Pixaby

image; Pixaby

Ghosting first came onto the scene as the way the worst kind of people cut off all contact shortly into the dating process, providing no reason or notice to the other person at all.  Steadily, ghosting became so common, it became acceptable. Even the nicest of people consider it absolutely acceptable normal dating behaviour.

Our technology, the same one that serves us so well, like apps that allow us to order food, taxi’s, dating, buy shoes, schedule doctors’ appointments all without ever speaking to another human being… is this same technology boom that allows GHOSTING to be such an easy and acceptable mode of operation in today’s dating scene. 

As a society, we have so much available to us whose sole purpose is to allow us to avoid uncomfortable situations and avoid having REAL conversations with REAL people in the REAL world.  This now very normalized dating trend, has opened more people to avoiding conflict and it is indeed carrying over into our relationships.  Don’t want to hear how you let your partner down again, by working late?  Send a text.  Don’t want to have that tough conversation about how unhappy you’ve been, face to face tonight? Send novel long wassap message!  Want to tune out from the conversation that is indeed happening, right now live?  Grab your phone and start facebooking! 

Going ghost on confrontation and conflict, is very much happening in partnerships too.

 

2. BREAD CRUMBING

image: Pixaby

image: Pixaby

Bread Crumbing, defined by Urban Dictionary as “the act of sending out flirtatious, but non-committal text messages (ie "breadcrumbs") in order to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort,” equates to leading someone on.

Short bursts of minimal effort in order to keep partners interested and on the line, is a new trend for those in relationships as well. How this typically plays out, is two people who are in a committed relationship, but one partner is really just waiting ‘for someone better to come along’.  By taking a hostage, their current partner, they ensure they remain cared for and will show up ‘just enough’ to keep the relationship going. But they aren’t really in it, to win it! 

However even in committed relationships, where one person is not waiting for something better to come along, a form of bread crumbing can still take place. 

We know our relationship needs work, our partner has been banging on about all the things we need to do, in order to keep the relationship alive and happy.  And we do some of the things. Well, really, we do just enough of the things to get them to shut up.  We do just enough of the things, to claim a proper defense.  To state “Look!! I did this thing!!, You can’t say I’m not trying!!”.   This form of behavior isn’t necessarily malicious.  Chances are the dynamic has become so threatening, the motivation so negative, that this person is just trying to avoid pain and discomfort.  If they were motivated by their partner positively, they would do a lot more of the things, to gain the rewards

 

3. SPEAKING OUR TRUTH

imagel Unsplash & Jessicaelizabethcoaching.com

imagel Unsplash & Jessicaelizabethcoaching.com

This trend setter is everywhere we look these days.  Authenticity guru’s are abound with the honor and speak your truth.  Honest, direct kind communication in a relationship is a beautiful thing.  HOWEVER, Honesty without compassion is brutality. Keep it kind, kids!

I have a great filter I offer to clients, that helps to mediate in their own heads, what really needs to be said and when. 

  • Does it need to be said?

  • Does it need to be said, BY ME?

  • Does it need to be said, RIGHT NOW?

  • How many times does it need saying?

If we can pause, long enough to drop our thought through this filter, we can be more sure that what comes out the other side of said filter, is the truth, that needs speaking.

Furthermore, true partnerships cannot have communication, discourse and collaboration without listening too.  LISTENING is the other half of communication. If we are spending all of our time, thinking and mapping out responses, how we will deliver ‘our truth’, and real talking ‘our truth’ at every opportunity, we kill communication, dead.

 

 

4. NEGGING

image: pixaby

image: pixaby

Negging is ugly. REAL ugly.  Negging, as defined by Urban Dictionary is the manipulative behaviour of men (#notallmen) by offering up low-grade insults meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.

If we are in a relationship with someone who is using negging, the more relative term here is emotional abuse. It is absolutely not okay for our partners to be actively undermining out self-confidence and self-worth, to take the advantage.  In relationships, I witness both men and women equally negging each other, shredding each other’s confidence and esteem to bits in order to feel better about themselves, be ‘right’ or simply to assuage a long held resentment they have about their partner.

Any relationship expert, counselor or coach will assure you that partnership is about two people bringing out the best in one another, NOT tearing each other down. In my own relationship coaching practice, the bulk of the work done with couples and empowered individuals in relationships is unifying them back to a place of fighting the good fight for their life and dreams, shoulder to shoulder, together! 

 

Can you identify any of these trends in your own relationship?  What is one action you can take today, to start moving away from these trends?   Let us know in the comments!

 

It’s time to learn the 'not so trendy' behaviors and techniques that will last a life time of love.

 

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