Some of My Favourite Relationship Resources

What are some of the most life-changing books and resources I’ve encountered in the past 25+ years of my personal growth and exploration journey?

It was very hard to narrow it down to just a few but here’s a start!

To be in healthy relationships, I think it’s essential that we have a healthy and loving relationship with self.  One of the most powerful books I’ve ever read on this is Susan Anderson’s book called “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing.”  She goes through the five stages of abandonment: Shattered, Withdrawal, Internalizing the Rejection, Rage and Lifting with a description of each and special exercises for healing.  I think everyone should read this book – whether or not you believe that you have experienced abandonment!  Her companion book “Taming Your Outer Child” is another keeper.  You will learn so much about self-sabotaging behaviour from this book.

Gary Chapman has written two very powerful books: “The 5 Love Languages” and “Love as a Way of Life.”  I encourage all my coaching clients to check out his 5 love languages so they can understand what theirs is, and the language of loved ones, whether it’s a spouse or a child.  When you understand your love language you can ask for what you need.  When you understand the love language of loved ones you can express your love in ways that are meaningful to them.  I think this is a real game-changer!  In “Love as a Way of Life” he talks about the qualities of being a loving person.  With descriptions and short assessments you can see if you walk the talk of being a loving person.  Again, a book that is very relevant to relationships

I learned about Alison Armstrong a few years ago from a male friend.  Since then, I have been to one of her “Queen’s Code” workshops, I’ve listened to audios, watched her videos and I’m a convert!  She has been studying men and women for over 25 years and she sees how women often expect men to behave like an ideal woman.  When they don’t women punish them and don’t honour who they are or what they are really good at.  I see this around me all the time and, through Alison’s work, I have learned skills and new understandings for really appreciating and connecting with men.  This is really important stuff!

Lastly, I really like a book by Daphne Rose Kingma called “Coming Apart: Why Relationships End and How to Live Through the Ending of Yours.”  She starts out with an examination of why breakups are so hard… and the overt and covert reasons we get into relationships.  The author doesn’t see ended relationships as “failures” but instead encourages readers to see them as opportunities for growth.  She offers a series of exercises to help with this process and to give closure.

I do customized coaching with my clients and I incorporate a lot of these resources.   It’s great to read books on relationships but it’s even more powerful working with a trained professional!

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5 Keys to Lasting Love

Well, February is the month of love they say (I prefer to think that every month is the month of love but I guess that doesn’t sell so many flowers, cards and chocolates!)

I was invited by my local TV company to do an interview about lasting love.  I didn’t get very long to talk so I decided to record a video and to write a blog about this because I think it’s really important.

I decided to narrow it down to five points although I have a lot to say about this topic!  Here are the 5 points:

  • make every day romantic whether it’s the time for a prolonged hug at the end of a busy day or taking time at bedtime to exchange an appreciation of one another
  • create a vision for your relationship.  What is possible?  Dream big because you are co-creating what YOU want!
  • honor your commitment.  I find that many couples don’t bring up the concept of commitment and that it’s just assumed – but this is really important!  If you make a strong commitment to one another – and keep it – you are able to express yourself honestly and openly and know that you have created a safe container.  This is where true intimacy comes from
  • take ownership for your experience and take responsibility for your feelings.  Nobody can “make” you feel a certain way.  Understand that your issues are your own unmet needs and that you can be triggered by things that wouldn’t faze others.  Learn how to communicate so each of you can express yourselves clearly and be a good listener
  • make your relationship a priority.  We all know it’s true that the more you put into something the more you get out of it!  I see a relationship as a garden that needs to be nurtured.  It needs to be watered and fertilized so that you both can reap the benefits.  Together you can grow and accomplish things that wouldn’t be possible alone.

I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts on what keeps love alive!  I love to do couples coaching so if you want a great relationship rather than a “good enough” one, let’s talk!

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How to be a Love Magnet

Have you noticed that some people seem naturally magnetic where others are prickly?  What are some of the elements that make some people love magnets?  In a recent speaking engagement I pointed out that most babies are love magnets without having to do anything: they are magnetic just by being themselves.  What happens over time to interfere with our natural birthright of being love magnets?  I think a lot has to do with others telling us we have been bad or wrong – or that we’ve disappointed them.  We start to doubt ourselves and question whether or not we’re lovable.  How can we shed ourselves of those negative messages and return to loving beings?  Here are three ways:

1) Fall madly in love with yourself! Celebrate your triumphs and be compassionate toward yourself when you make mistakes or believe that you have fallen short
2) Be friendly to others and create connections even if it’s just in a supermarket lineup! A friendly smile could be the highlight of someone’s day and it’s going to make you feel good, too!
3) Recognize the value of community. Get out there and participate! Make a difference in the world and shine that light of yours!

How might your life be different if you intentionally gave and received love with an open heart?  Why not give it a try?

With Valentine’s Day coming up very soon why wait for someone else to express love to you?  When you make a conscious choice to be a more loving person you can treat everyone you meet with kindness and compassion.  Many people save themselves and their love for a romantic partner but my belief is that if you don’t use it you lose it so why not practise love every day?

I have a friend who teases me about shining white light at people!  Actually when I walk down the street I smile at strangers.  Sometimes I get a smile back but often the person averts his or her eyes.  I hope someday everyone will feel safe to smile at a stranger.  I know it makes me feel good!

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Always Hungry – for Love?

David Ludwig’s new book called Always Hungry? was released earlier this month.  He debunks a lot of myths about weight-loss saying that it’s not about lowering your caloric intake because you naturally get hungry and then have a tendency to overeat.  He advocates a high-fat diet rather than the high-carb, low fat diet that most people have been on for the past 40 years or so – because it simply doesn’t work.   For decades people have been trying to lose weight by following the “rules” but the rule book is flawed.  I imagine most people have experienced the hunger and deprivation of a “diet” and Dr. Ludwig gives us hope.

What does Always Hungry? have to do with love?  The way I see it is that there is a “rule book” about love in our popular culture.  It says things like:

  • you need to be young and attractive to find love
  • if you’ve met your soulmate you’ll recognize them immediately
  • chemistry has to be very strong right from the beginning or it’s not “the one”
  • don’t be your authentic self because you might get judged, dismissed and left
  • you’re no one until someone loves you
  • my partner should meet all my needs

I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about loved fueled by movies and other entertainment (similar to recommendations on eating from decades ago that suggested multiple servings of crackers and pasta daily)  The portrayals in the media of couples who have perfect relationships which seem to require no effort give people such an unrealistic idea of what is actually required.

What would my new rule book for love include?  One of my rules would be that you love yourself and having loving relationships with others rather than “saving” yourself to give love only to your partner – whether you currently have one or are hoping to have one.

Love is possible at any age, not just for the young and/or attractive.   I know someone whose 83 year old step-sister found love in a seniors’ home with a man of 84. Never give up!

Another rule would be that you acknowledge that chemistry is not the only indicator of a successful relationship but that companionship and commitment are also integral.  Once the sparks and passion at the beginning dim, what do you have left?

Be your true self.  Sometimes it feels risky but whether you’re looking for a partner or married, you need to have a strong sense of yourself so you will be healthy and whole even under stress.

Believing that your partner will meet all your needs sets you up for disappointment and sets your partner up for a lot of stress!  What do you need that supports, nurtures and interests you?  Maybe it’s a service group or your church or good friends with whom to share activities.  Be sure that you have a support system so you don’t expect your relationship and your partner to be everything.

Most songs about love and portrayal of love in movies and TV shows are about infatuation and romance, not about real love.  Romance sells, unlike the daily investment it takes for self-awareness and for co-creating a healthy relationship.

If you do the inner work and hone the skills necessary for a healthy relationship you will have a much better likelihood of feeling beautifully satiated and no longer “always hungry for love.”

 

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Master of None

I thoroughly enjoyed a new series on Netflix called Master of None which focuses on the life and love of Dev, played by Aziz Ansari. His love interest is Rachel.

DEV AND RACHEL NEED ME!
Why do Dev and Rachel need a love coach? They, like many dating couples, are building the plane as they are flying it! How might things be different for them – and for you – if you really knew who you are, what you want, if you were able to communicate positive and effectively and if you could manage differences between you and your partner?
What is your vision for love? What do you think is possible in marriage? At one end of the spectrum is unrealistic fantasy of bliss that requires no work… and on the other end is the cynical belief that marriage is an outdated institution that clips one’s wings and that sucks the life out of people.
How can you have a partnership that enhances your life? First you need to know who you are and choose a partner who shares your key values and vision. Get to know him or her over time and determine whether you are both ready to make a commitment. I believe the key here is not to rush. It takes time to get to know someone. As you get to know the other person, you get to know yourself.
I believe that commitment is the key to a successful relationship. In this world of instant gratification and disposable everything, commitment might be a foreign concept to many of us. Think of what you’ve been committed to – whether it’s learning to play an instrument, learning a language or playing video games! Commitment takes dedication and focus. It’s also the key to getting results.
How might things have turned out if Dev and Rachel had me in their lives? How might things be different for you?  Contact me!

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