Welcome

Is your relationship with your spouse or significant other as rich and rewarding as you want it to be?  Do you experience unresolved hurts or anger and aren’t sure what to do about it?  Are you wondering how to change things for the better?

To help you get started, check out the no-cost resources on the right: a mini-quiz on the health of your relationship and weekly tips on ways to improve your relationship. The mini-quiz is very short and helps you uncover areas in your relationship that need attention or strengths you can build on. You get your results promptly via email. The weekly tips are short, actionable suggestions, delivered via email each week, about issues that couples commonly need or want to address.

I believe that when we take personal responsibility and make it our priority to create and nurture loving, healthy, fulfilling, mutually beneficial relationships in every part of our lives, then we bestow on the world and ourselves a gift of incredible positive impact. This has the power to change the course of history, of our lives, of the very fabric of our being. What are we waiting for?

I’m committed to helping women and men build genuine, loving connections within their relationships in a way that fulfills all parties, while creating ripples of love for a more positive world.

With love,
Marie Kane

Do you want to be happy or do you want to always be right?

Sometimes partners fall into the trap of “sticking to their guns” no matter what out of fear or pride.  But, we can choose to look at things differently, to reframe our position.

We all know that our perception creates our reality.  That’s why two people experiencing the same event have a different take on what happened.  But, we may tend to assume that our perception is the reality when in fact it’s our reality.  Other people involved in the same situation will have a different experience and it will be a different reality for them.

One of the things that we can do is to first acknowledge that our perception is not the reality, that it’s our reality.  Having made that decision, we can then ask ourselves “What’s another way that I can look at this? Is there a way that is more productive that I can look at this?”  We can ask our partner what his or her experience or feeling is and accept that is their reality without blame or judgment.

One thing I find helpful personally is to decide that my first step is to look at myself, not to start out pointing to the other person and going “You caused this. When you do x, you made me feel such and such.” Actually that’s not the reality. What’s real is that when they did x, I made myself feel such and such. The good news here is that when you get in the driver’s seat about your feelings then you can make changes.  You can stop, release blame and assumptions and engage your partner in a productive discussion with the intent of mutually sharing feelings, while individually accepting responsibility.  Then you are positioned  so that together you can create a more loving and fulfilling relationship for both of you.

What to do when you have a break down in the relationship

Many people, when they’re involved in a conflict, are focused on getting away from the pain of the situation.  They’re focused on  “Let’s make this stop. Let’s make this feeling we’re having and this event that we’re having stop because it’s too painful or unpleasant.”  As soon as that’s done, they’re dusting their hands off and going “Okay, yay, we’re done and we can move on.”  BUT, that leaves the underlying causes unresolved.   If you delve into it further, breakdowns are an opportunity for breakthroughs.

When there is a breakdown in the relationship, if we ask “What’s the foundation for this? Where is this coming from? What’s driving the feelings?” then we can begin to address the cause. We can acknowledge what we’re really upset about if it’s different or in addition to what was obvious. Now we have a chance to talk about what’s going on and discover what unacknowledged or unresolved hurt or anger is driving the interaction.  We can make agreements about what we’re going to do if this happens again around the same issue.

As a result, we’ve improved the quality of our relationship and we’ve built a stronger foundation. The likelihood that things are going to come up again around that particular root cause is much lessened. When it does, we’re going to be much more able to handle it effectively.

The important distinction between intention and damage

How do you and your partner handle it when one of you feels injured emotionally by the other?

Sometimes one partner will say he or she didn’t mean to hurt the other and assumes that should take care of things.  But, there is a critical difference between intention and damage.  Not intending to hurt your partner doesn’t clear the issue of whatever damage your partner feels they experienced.  This is true even though we each react to situations because of our own experiences and issues and, in that way, we are each responsible for our feelings.  But, in a partnership, we also have a responsibility to our partner.

When partners don’t acknowledge the impact of their behavior, it’s difficult for the injured party to heal from that hurt or anger and there is a negative impact on trust in the relationship.   It’s important to both clarify intention and address the impact/damage related to your actions.  To acknowledge and apologize and make whatever amends are appropriate for the damage you participated in causing is an important step in healing breaches in the relationship. The good news is that when there was no malice in your intention that absence of malice creates the space for forgiveness.

If your priority is to preserve and strengthen a healthy relationship and intimate connection with your partner then attending to all 3 parts of this is very important.

  • Clarify your intention
  • Acknowledge the damage that occurred and your share of responsibility in it
  • Apologize, make amends

 

When both partners feel wronged this can be especially challenging.  If each partner decides they will focus on the love and care they have for the other and act accordingly, then the chances of working things out is much greater.

It’s very helpful when tension is high and feelings are hurt or partners are angry; to continually go back to the touchstone of what your priority is for the relationship, not just what the issue at hand is.  That will help you approach things with your partner in the most productive way possible and help keep you on track in the midst of a tense situation

Having an adult interaction

Let’s talk about having an adult interaction.  There are several psychological states that people can be in within their interactions with others.  One very useful model for understanding this is Transactional Analysis, discussed in a book written about 40 years ago by a psychologist named Eric Berne.  Each person may be in adult mode or child mode or parent mode in their “transaction” with the other person, where transaction means the interaction between the two parties.

When you have an “adult to adult” transaction, then you have the very best chance of creating a true partnership and quality relationship.  If you have a child to child transaction, the transaction may work because you’re both in the same mode, but the likelihood that you’re going to get a quality adult relationship out of that is remote.  What if one of you is in parent mode and the other is in child mode?  That can work also as these are reciprocal states, but that’s only going to work as a relationship if one partner wants to be in child mode with the other.  Or partners can both be in parent mode, which tends not to work because parent mode is looking for someone in child mode on the other end of the transaction.

Partners may have an unspoken agreement about what modes they want in their relationship.  You and your partner must be clear if you want an adult to adult relationship.  At the end of the day, whatever the dynamic is, it has to be one that meets the needs and wants of both partners.

Take a look at what role you have accepted in your partnership and what role do you accept or adopt when you’re in a conflict or fight situation.  If you and your partner want a quality adult to adult relationship, then each must share the power and responsibility for making the relationship work.

Manage what you expect of your romantic relationship and of your partner

Couples are sometimes prone to expect a fairytale “happily ever after” relationship that comes about in some magical way without conscious effort on their part.  But, you know that’s not the reality of a good relationship, let alone a great one.  A great romantic relationship takes work.  It takes both of you being willing to dig into what’s going on with you and your partner and find ways to make things great for both of you.

Sometimes you may have unreasonable expectations of your partner.  One of the most common is to expect your partner to read your mind.  You may feel like if you have to tell your partner what you need and want from them that somehow makes getting it less desirable, less meaningful.  It’s a kind of magical thinking that goes on along the lines of “if he or she really cares about me, they’ll just know what’s important to me and they’ll make sure that they give it to me.”

If you say that out loud, you may realize that it’s unreasonable and unrealistic, but people do sometimes fall prey to it.  Communication is the key.  Everyone has heard this about relationships, but what does it take to put it into practice.  First, determine what your needs and wants are in the relationship.  Ask your partner to do the same.   Then set aside a couple of hours to share your thoughts with each other in a non-blaming way and look for ways you can together create the kind of relationship that meets at the very least the most important needs or wants for each of you.  It’s surprising how easy this sometimes turns out to be once each of you “comes clean” with the other.