long-term relationships

Swoon Podcast Episode #22 – Bad Blood : Sexual Gridlock & Conflict

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Are you ready for a life and relationship that makes you swoon?

Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire.

Whether you want fresh and honest information about sex and relationships or tools to create more fulfilling intimacy and pleasure, this podcast is going to help you connect meaningfully with yourself and your lovers.


Episode #22 – Bad Blood: Sexual Gridlock & Conflict

Sometimes sex has gotten so complicated that couples stop talking about. What do you do when you and your partner are in a sexual stalemate? Today Gina and Julie discuss what to do when sexual gridlock happens.

This episode covers:

  • What happens when you and your partner are in a sexual stalemate?

  • What is stonewalling and how do you know it's happening?

  • The difference between sexual tension, resentment, blame, and stonewalling.

  • How people can go years without sex when they get stuck in a sexual stalemate

  • What is often underneath sexual frustration or anger.

  • The role of personal accountability when it comes to sexual gridlock.

  • How to shift out of a negative feedback loop.

Quotes from the episode

“They're not talking about it, but you can feel it, it's so intense. There isn't any talking about joy or pleasure, all they talk about is how bad it is so then they avoid talking about it. It becomes this giant, invisible mountain between them.”

“People feel real shame about their frequency of sex – it's not uncommon for people in these stalemate potions to have a very low frequency of sex and really low fulfillment when it comes to how fulfilling or pleasurable it is.”

“Blame is a flag that accountability is needed somewhere in the relationship.”

“How bad should it get before going to therapy? At some of the first signs of blame and stonewalling, that's a good time to go to therapy.”

“It's OK not to want sex – when it comes to stonewalling you might not even be checking in about if you actually want sex – you might just be mad and using withholding sex/connection as a weapon and not budging from your position.”

“It can become a negative feedback loop – you do this, so I do this, so you do this, etc – and all the things we are doing, we feel like we are protecting ourselves from pain or we are the victim, but really it's just contributing to the disconnect or the mountain of frustration between us.”

“Partner #1 If only YOU would ___________ then I would want to have sex with you.

Partner #2 I you wanted to have sex with me then I would want to do __________.”

“If you look at how you are contributing, you can shift it. One of you has to be willing to move or soften or change the cycle.”

Resources from the Podcast

It's going to be really hard, nearly impossible, to break out of the cycle without a third party to help you shift the dynamic. Check out therapyden.com to find a therapist who will help you facilitate a new conversation.

Mating in captivity

Gottman Rapoport Conflict Blueprint

About Your Swoon Hosts

Dr. Gina Senarighi, PhD CPC is a sexuality counselor and communication consultant specializing in healthy boundaries, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity. She supports non-traditional couples all over the world as a retreat leader and certified relationship coach.
Connect with Gina

Julie Jeske, LPC is a sex and relationship counselor. She has a private practice where she helps clients increase intimacy, ignite passion and deepen their connection to themselves and others. Julie especially loves to help women discover who they are sexually. Through counseling, online classes, or in-person retreats; her clients learn how to talk about their sexual and relationship desires, and explore ways to make them a reality.
Connect with Julie


Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire. 

Join us and leave your review on any of your favorite podcast channels:

Four Agreements in Romantic Relationships

Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements transformed the way I think about communication with myself and with the people I love. I know for some the spiritual undertones can be off-putting, but for many of my clients over the years it has offered really powerful wisdom.

The overall theme is that four simple yet profound rules can have an enormous impact on our life and relationships. Focusing on each of them has helped me live a more intentional, integrity-fueled life and build more mindful connected relationships.

These agreements not only apply to life in general but are absolutely critical in dating. I’ll dive deeper into each of them below. You can also download this beautiful printout of all the agreements to help you keep them in focus.:


Agreement 1: Be Impeccable With Your Word

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using your words to speak against yourself or others. Use the power of your words to grow truth and love.

Being clear with your intentions, expectations, and boundaries in relationships is the best path to connection and the only way to avoid misunderstandings.

When I began to focus on this agreement I noticed many innocent lies I told throughout the day. I might run into someone I know and say “we should get together sometime” knowing I would never truly follow up. These white lies add up, and wear on us over time. And for many of us this culminates in a pattern of over-promising and over-committing in relationships. Committing to this agreement means being really honest with yourself and others all the time.

I also appreciate the focus of this agreement on being really mindful of the words we choose to create a life and commit to a narrative that works for us. The stories we tell ourselves have direct impact on our happiness and the ways people around us respond to us. Take care in choosing the stories you hold as true, and the ones you share.


Agreement 2: Don’t Take Anything Personally

Realize that nothing others do is because of you, but instead a projection of their own reality, self-work, and dreams. When you are immune to the opinions of others it will free you from needless suffering.

Let me be clear here: I’m not saying you should stop caring about anyone else. But most of us care a little too much. I see so many folks tied up in anxiety and conflict because they are too closely connected to their partner’s feelings- or worse, their perception of their partner’s feelings.

This is huge when dealing with rejection. Once you accept that rejection isn’t personal, it starts to roll off your back. Maybe your partner had a bad day, maybe someone in their past was a jerk, or maybe they’re just unhappy- unrelated to you.

Their emotional experience is beyond your control. You can help them feel a little better, but their choice to feel better does have to start from within. There’s no value in stressing about something that’s out of your hands and not about you.

Now, of course there are times something you’ve done will spark a reaction in someone else. You can still own your mistake or the impact you had on someone else without taking it personally. That might sound like responding “I’m sorry, I was running behind, and that resulted in you being late and nervous.” instead of “I am sorry I’m such a jackass. I always mess this stuff up.” Can you feel the difference?

It’s really important you take responsibility for your actions and work on improving it to minimize negative impacts on others. But don’t let it determine your self worth or define your character.

You can do better- and you will.


Agreement 3: Don’t Make Assumptions

Ask questions and communicate as clearly as you can about misunderstandings. Stay curious about yourself and the others around you to create room to honor each of your individuality and growth.

I’ve written extensively about this in the past, so I won’t bore you here, but staying curious about your sweetheart is the easiest way to avoid growing stagnant and bored in long-term relationships. Invest energy in understanding them instead of assuming they’ll never change.

The same goes for yourself. Stay curious about your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to others- there’s always plenty to learn and the more you assume you know, the less self-awareness you are likely practicing.

Most of the couples I see stuck in struggle are clinging to resentments, assumptions, and misinterpretations without really exploring them. These keep us disconnected and often lead to bitterness. Nobody wants that.

The path to fulfillment is learning and growth- neither of which will happen without a little curiosity.


Agreement 4: Always Do Your Best

Your best will change moment to moment (with your health, energy, and experience) but by investing the best of yourself you’ll avoid self-judgment and regret.

So often the regrets we beat ourselves up about are the times we didn’t act with intention, integrity- or as our best selves. Committing to doing your best all them time helps us avoid regretful missteps.

But committing to always doing your best doesn’t mean becoming a perfectionist, or striving for some high-level output 100 percent of the time. Doing your best also means being clear with yourself and those around you about what you can do, how you can show up, and what you can give moment-to-moment and say-to-day. The more mindful you are of your internal state, energy level, and competency in the different and changing areas of life, the better equipped you’ll be to communicate this with the people you care for.

If you enjoyed this, I highly recommend you pick up The Four Agreements as well as Don Miguel’s other books, The Mastery of Love and Voice of Knowledge. They are about forming healthy relationships and defeating inner voices that cause suffering and anxiety, respectively.


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Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in healthy communication, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

She leads workshops and couples retreats in the Midwestern United States and Pacific Northwest and consults with clients online. Access her free Relationship Resource Toolbox here, or join her next FREE Monthly Relationships Masterclass coaching call.

Connect with her on social media or schedule a free consultation to see if her support could help you build more fulfilling, connected partnerships.

Relationship Skills Practice: Healthy Boundaries With People Outside Your Relationship

Every few weeks I share easy tips to keep your relationship fresh and connected.

I draw from the best research in healthy relationships to help you grow the kind of love and intimacy you really want.

Love is built in the tiniest of moments and smallest interactions we share. Use these simple tools to improve your relationship in under ten minutes a week.

Each video includes a free downloadable PDF worksheet or reflection guide to help you keep the energy and momentum going. To get a copy of the worksheets sign up here.

If you need help implementing these, or have questions about how to adapt them to your style, please let me know. I’m happy to help you create stronger connections.

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THIS WEEK’S PRACTICE


Today we’re talking about how to have healthy boundaries with people outside your relationship. I’m going to share five basic guidelines that help my clients navigate boundaries with other people to avoid secrecy and infidelity.

Here’s how to navigate situations with your ex or your crush without threatening your current partner.

Basic healthy boundaries guidelines (in “don’t” format):

  • Don’t be unclear about your boundaries and expectations.

  • Don’t toe the line.

  • Don’t withhold information.

  • Don’t be sneaky.

  • Don’t get defensive.

Watch the video for more details and schedule a free consultation with me if you’re interested in learning more.

REFLECTION

  • How can I build more openness in my relationship to talk about people I find inspiring or interesting?

  • How can I be more open to hearing about my partner’s new crushes, attractions, interests, and inspirations without feeling threatened?

  • What can I do to interrupt myself if I feel sneaky, withholding, or defensive?

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KEEP IT UP

The truth about long-term relationships is (even though we may not want to admit it) we all get a little lazy about our communication and tending to our connection as the years pass.

We’re often highly attentive, intentional and attuned in the early phases of relationship. But as we build a life we can get caught up in other details, day-to-day hustle, career-building, and parenting- and get distracted from prioritizing our partnerships.

There’s nothing wrong with you or your relationship if this happens, but if (when) it does, use it as a call to action for the two of you to re-prioritize practices like these. Habits are changed only with attention, so use these tools to pay closer attention to your sweetie and your relationship.

Most of these exercises are designed to take under ten minutes. If you want to integrate them into a regular practice, try committing to them on a more regular basis and keep them in regular rotation even after you receive the next practice.

It’s not going to hurt you to have extra opportunities for connection and meaning.

And if you fall out of practice don’t lose heart- you can always start again. Just make sure you do.

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Finally, if you notice you have some internal resistance to these practices or tips stay curious about it. Often the things we resist have a lot to each us.

Notice if you just aren’t getting around to connecting with your partner or if you really don’t want to try these tools and tips with them and ask yourself what that’s all about. If you want support building self-awareness around your resistance, or creating a vision of change, I’m here to help.


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Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in healthy communication, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

She leads workshops and couples retreats in the Midwestern United States and Pacific Northwest and consults with clients online.

Access her free Relationship Resource Toolbox here, or join her next FREE Monthly Relationships Masterclass coaching call.

Connect with her on social media or schedule a free consultation to see if her support could help you build more fulfilling, connected partnerships.

Five Questions to Ask on Date Night This Week

Nearly every week couples ask me how to keep the passion alive in their long-term relationships. They see desire fatigue set in all around them, the more we build a comfortable stable life with someone, the less we connect with the fascination, intrigue, and spontaneity that usually comes so easily early in relationships.  

Those three elements fade away as we stop exploring ourselves and each other.  Over time we start assuming we know everything there is to know about our partner.  To that idea, I say:

How incredibly boring it must be to know everything about your love! How limiting it must be to have the person you desire think they know everything about you! 

I hope you never know everything there is to know about your partner. And if you really do, you're either spending too much time together (and need more independence) or aren't growing as humans (and need to start).

The simplest way to reconnect with that energy is to start getting curious about each other.  Start asking questions again and really answering one another.  No quick one-word responses.  No mumbled answers while scrolling your phone or playing a video game.  Turn towards one another with intention like you did way back when and start discovering one another again. 

You know I send out juicy questions to bring couples closer every week.  This week, try asking your honey these on date night:

  1. What do you daydream about most often?

  2. When do you fantasize about escape?

  3. What makes you cringe?

  4. What do you want more of in your daily life?

  5. What can I do to support you in making your dreams come true?

 


Gina Senarighi | :GBTQ Couples Counseling | LGBTQ Marriage Therapy

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

The Five Love Languages for Successful Couples

WHY ARE THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES SO IMPORTANT?

In all my years of counseling, diverse couples, marriages, and partners, it’s become clear that everyone benefits when they begin to apply them in all their relationships.

Rarely do couples share the same love language. It can create a lot of frustration when you think you are doing a good job expressing love and yet the other person is just not feeling it. If you don’t understand the love language concept, then you can feel stuck. But it, you understand that they speak a different language, then you can learn to speak that language.

 

WHAT ARE THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES?

The love languages were originally written by marriage therapist Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages. The book has a religious theme that doesn’t resonate with many of my clients, but the foundation of this basic couples theory still offers important guidance. 

Basically, there are five main ways we demonstrate love in relationships.  Everyone has a need for all five languages, but each of us prefer one of these more than others. Usually each individual values one or two of the five more than the others.

Most of us communicate love to our partners primarily through our preferred love language- which doesn’t always match our partner’s preference. This miscommunication means sometimes our efforts go unacknowledged.  And sometimes we don’t see all the love our partner is throwing our way.

Sometimes we can have trouble connecting with love even if it is all around us.

IDENTIFYING YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE…

Think of a time you felt truly loved in your relationship. You were sure your partner loved you dearly. What were they doing? What specific actions did they take? Why were these actions important or meaningful to you?

Or think about daydreams or fantasies you have about being well-loved. What’s going on?  How does the person in your dream tell or show you they care?

Now read the languages below to see which best fits with the scenario you described above.

Most people enjoy all of these Love Languages but you will see one or two of them are especially important. Knowing which is your primary or favorite helps your partner better connect with you when showing love.

Knowing which is your least priority helps you identify loving practices you might overlook in partnership.

Your preferred Love Language can change over time, of course, so identifying it clearly and talking about it with a partner will help you two connect in more meaningful loving ways.  

Focus on the love you share this week with this framework in mind and watch what happens!  


entrepreneur relationships | couples who are entrepreneurs

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Seven Principles for Making Your Relationship Work

Hi!  I found a great summary of one of my all-time favorite relationship books, so I wanted to be sure to share it with you. 

Seven Principles of Making Your Marriage Work by John Gottman is excellent even if you're a couple who plans never to marry.  His 40+ years researching couples in everyday environments has build a critical foundation for understanding what makes love last. 

Check it out:

 

I'd love to hear what you think after watching or reading.  Pop over to my facebook page and leave a comment, or call me for a consultation to learn how to apply these principles in your own relationship.

 

Couples Who Dream Together: Insipre a Shared Vision in your Relationship

The importance of inspiring a shared vision as a leader and at work has been well-documented.  Leaders who can inspire that vision among team members can more easily motivate for success, re-organize in conflict, and see the vision through to completion.

Why wouldn't a shared vision be just as important in personal partnerships?

This week I'm leading a workshop with 22 entrepreneurial couples to help them apply business success principles in their personal relationships.  We'll be talking about the importance of shared dreaming (join us here).  

Business leaders who succeed prioritize visioning by setting aside time to create and nourish a vision among their teams. You can do this in your family by spending time imagining what things will be like for all of you in a year, and five. Dream up detailed stories of the adventures you'll take and the lessons you'll learn together. 

SHARED DREAMING

Another way to develop your vision as a couple is to start a relationship dream list. A shared dream list is like a bucket list. It collects the dreams you have for this lifetime in one place. If we fill this dream list with interest, growth, and adventure it can help us live life fully, courageously, and intentionally.

Most couples informally share ideas and dreams over time, but clearly committing to shared dreams can be a must more powerful action step in creating a shared future. The act of writing anything out longhand helps you focus and remember it.

WRITE IT DOWN

Use the page below to start your shared list. Dream up all the possibilities you want to experience together and write them down. No dream is too big or too small- if it’s yours commit to it on paper.

This is a list that grows with you, so when you know you want to add something, simply write it down on your list, make it real in your mind, and then consider how to fulfill your dream today, tomorrow, or someday...your list is there when you’re ready. You can reorganize together it any time- I recommend you revisit it together every year.

Having a dream list helps you invest in making them come true. Keep it in a visible place to remind and motivate yourself to reach for your lifelong goals. Every day is a new opportunity.

Download the free worksheet below to help you create a relationship dream list at home.  If you'd like help strengthening your partnership please give me a call for couples coaching.  I'd love to help you!   


couples coach | couples who start businesses | successful couples | couples who work together

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Tools to Interrupt Conflict Patterns

Last week I wrote a post about conflict patterns that seems to have stirred things up for some of you.  Particularly when I talked about validation's role in resolving conflicts.  I wanted to write a little more this week to help you understand and implement validation effectively in your conflict cycles.

You can read what I wrote last week here.

Validation is not the same as agreement.  We can validate each other's perspective or experience and still disagree. 

You like anchovies on pizza and I do not is a great simple example.  If I won't validate your pizza preference I might ask you to explain why you like anchovies, or make fun of other people who like that topping, or belittle you for having that preference.  I can tell you how unreasonable it is or how I've never met anyone who really liked anchovies. 

Of course, none of that will help us order an actual pizza or feel close. Simply stating a perspective without judgmental language or interpretation can be validating.  "You prefer anchovies and I prefer cheese." Is a simple way of validating their perspective.

Although you're unlikely to take pizza choice personally, it's easy to see how we can disagree, acknowledge each other's perspective as valid at the same time. 

There are a number of ways we can validate a perspective.  Knowing these can give you options when you're feeling stuck in a conflict and want to find a way back to being connected.

Emotions

Understanding your partner's emotions is critical to connection and longevity in relationships. It's also the foundation of empathy, without which relationships cannot survive. Here are a few examples of validating emotions:

  • "You feel sad when we talk about this."
  • "I think what you're saying is, you're overwhelmed or worried about this.  Is that right?"
  • "So you're confused by this too." 
  • "Are you saying you're frustrated by ____?"

Beliefs

Everyone has opinions, and everyone is entitled to them.  But hen they become controversial in relationships it can be a real challenge to sort through and maintain connection.  Here are a few ways to validate their beliefs (even if you disagree):

  • "You absolutely have a right to your opinion."
  • "I know you have a different way of doing this."
  • "You've clearly got a solid opinion about this."
  • "I hear you've been thinking about this for a while."

Desires

Knowing your partner's wants or desires helps them feel heard and understood in conflict.  It also helps you support them in getting needs met or soothing when they're disappointed. You might say something like:

  • "You really want to go on that vacation."
  • "I know having quiet time together really matters to you."
  • "I hear you that you want more help around the house."
  • "Having more sex is important to connection for you."

Actions

All too often we overlook the specific actions and behaviors our partners take.  When we miss these they can feel unacknowledged and underappreciated and it can lead us to grow resentful.  Start taking note of specific actions to validate their experience.  Here are some options:

  • "I saw you reading. What's that book about?"
  • "You said your back hurt earlier.  How are you feeling now?"
  • "Thanks for bringing this up."
  • "I so appreciate you folding the laundry with me."

Pain

It can be super challenging to focus on our partner's pain or suffering (especially when we might have caused some of it).  Most of us work hard to avoid suffering and want to fix it right away.  However, by acknowledging the pain we can be vulnerable and deepen trust in the relationship.  Here are some examples for you to try:

  • "I can see you're hurting."
  • "I know this week has been really stressful."
  • "Honey, I'm sorry you're in pain."
  • "This has been so hard on you."

CHANGE YOUR COMMUNICATION PATTERNS

Are you inspired to change the way you communicate in conflicts?  Three ways to change your relationship to conflict for good:

  1. Lots of the information in this article draws from a great book on relationships.  Its a super quick read and a really easy listen to audiobook.  Get your copy of High Conflict Couple here (its' great even if you're not necessarily "high conflict").

  2. Download my Fight Better Guide for Couples.  Totally free.  Get it in my Relationship Resource Library right here

  3. Call me for a free consult.  Sometimes it helps to talk it through with a neutral third party to make changes that last.  I'll happily share resources or support you as a coach.  Let's talk.

SHIFT YOUR COMMUNICATION PATTERNS IN A FREE CALL

Relationship Coach  Communication Coach

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

How to Let Go of Judgment in Relationships

I've been writing a series on conflict in relationships for a bit and wanted to take today to look more closely at the role of judgment in conflicts.  All too often when couples are stuck in a conflict stalemate judgment is playing a role.  

So learning to change the role of judgment can shift conflict patterns in significant ways.  Here's how to do it:

LEARN TO IDENTIFY JUDGMENTS

Before we can shift judgments role in our relationships we have to get confident at identifying when judgment is present.  You can use the following conversation flags to notice judgment is present:

  • Right/Wrong & Good/Bad - Narrows the focus of the conversation to defend against judgment
  • Should - Should implies right/wrong or good/bad and often results from unsolicited advice  
  • Enough/Not Enough - Measuring and evaluating are a great examples of judgment
  • Always/Never - Often indicate we're coming from a place of judgment
  • Comparison - is a form of evaluation that forces us to leave the present moment to think about other people or situations

RELEASING SELF-JUDGMENT

It is often easier to start implementing non-judgment practices within than with others.  Start by noticing your own experience without judgment. Just describe how things feel, taste, smell, or sound. 

Notice your body's experiences without trying to change or critique what's happening.  Just describe and experience it as is.

SORTING JUDGMENTS IN NEUTRAL MOMENTS

Before applying non-judgment in heated exchanges, use neutral situations to build your skills.  Notice your thoughts that evaluate, compare, measure or critique and start shifting them to observation. 

"This pizza is really good. The crust is perfect" (good and perfect are judgments) becomes "This pizza is hot, salty, and cheesy. The crust is crispy. It reminds me of slumber parties in my childhood. I want another piece."  

"The floor here is really gross. Do they ever clean?" (gross is a judgment, their cleaning practice is interpretation) becomes "The floor is sticky.  I can see drip marks and lint on it."

SAVOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP

Part of building patterns of non-judgment is learning to observe without interpretation even in non-conflictual situations.  Notice and describe your partner judgment-free in joyful and peaceful situations is just as important to cultivating new conflict skills as focusing on more challenging moments.  

Try describing what your partner is doing during even mundane moments (cooking, folding laundry, sleeping, or reading).  Commit yourself to observing instead of evaluating (right/wrong, good/bad) and when your reactions arise notice them but refocus back on observing your partner.

MINDFUL LISTENING

You can also begin a practice of mindful listening. Instead of planning your response or observing only your reactions, stay fully present with your partner's process while they talk. 

Listen for deeper understanding focusing only on your partner's thoughts, feelings, and desires.  If you notice your attention shift to yourself, the future, or the past, try to draw your attention back to simply hearing what's being said.

DESCRIBE IN HEAT

Once you've built up the practices above, start applying description instead of judgment when you notice anger or judgment between you and your partner.

"You're suck a jerk.  You always cut me off.  I hate the way you interrupt me!" becomes "I wasn't finished talking.  I want to finish what I was saying."

"Stop yelling. I hate when you lose control like this." becomes "I hear you raising your voice and I feel myself shutting down." 

 

CHANGE YOUR COMMUNICATION PATTERNS

Are you inspired to change the way you communicate in conflicts?  Three ways to change your relationship to conflict for good:

  1. Lots of the information in this article draws from a great book on relationships.  Its a super quick read and a really easy listen to audiobook.  Get your copy of High Conflict Couple here (its' great even if you're not necessarily "high conflict").

  2. Download my Fight Better Guide for Couples.  Totally free.  Get it in my Relationship Resource Library right here

  3. Call me for a free consult.  Sometimes it helps to talk it through with a neutral third party to make changes that last.  I'll happily share resources or support you as a coach.  Let's talk.

 

RELATIONSHIP COACH | COUPLES RETREAT

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Enhance Your Emotional Vocabulary

There are more words out there to describe how you feel besides sad, mad, and glad—in fact, there’s a whole world of words that can describe your emotions in incredibly specific ways. For most people, there's a significant deficit in our emotional vocabulary training growing up.

Having a rich emotional vocabulary means being able to recognize, label and understand feelings in ourselves and others.  Of course happy, sad, scared, and angry are four foundational emotions, but there are far more nuanced and complex emotions experienced regularly.

Having a solid emotional vocabulary helps us navigate complexity in relationships and deepen emotional intimacy.

Together the skills of identifying her emotions and reading and responding to other people’s emotions combine to create a skill known as emotional intelligence or emotional literacy.

Emotional literacy is necessary for us to regulate emotions, effectively connect with the people close to us, and manage social interactions successfully. The larger your emotional vocabulary the better equipped you are to discern different feelings, communicate your needs, and connect with the feelings of others. 

So how do you expand your emotional vocabulary?  Start by downloading this list. Use it for any of the activities below on your own or with someone you trust to expand your use and understanding of each word.  

How to use your feelings list

1) Choose one emotion each day and try to notice where you run into it throughout the day.  Maybe in a news story, or a book you're reading. Maybe someone talks about it on a podcast or you hear a story from a colleague at work. You might see it in a TV episode. Focus on noticing the places that emotion shows up for a day.

2) Choose one emotion at random and do a five-minute free write about where and when it has been present in your life. Think about the circumstances, players and resolution. Notice what physical sensations arise when focusing attention on this particular emotion. Notice if other emotions travel alongside the emotion you picked.

3) With someone you trust, randomly select an emotion from the list and tell a story about that emotion without naming the emotion itself. Have the other person guess what you're describing.  This practice helps you develop more effective empathetic communication.

4) Imagine the emotion as a living being and draw it. Give it a body and face and use color if helpful.  Notice if it's hairy or feathered, winged or legged. Most importantly, ask it what it wants most and how it might try to help you. Jot notes as needed to deepen your learning.  

5) Keep this list handy while you watch TV at night and during the commercial breaks try to guess what the main character is feeling using words from this list.  If you're watching with loved ones you can each choose a character to guess emotions for.

There are many other ways to deepen your emotional literacy but starting with these practices will help you expand your vocabulary and ultimately deepen your connection with yourself and those you love.  

If you'd like support deepening emotional intimacy and expanding your emotional vocabulary give me a call, I'd be happy to help.  


Gina Senarighi Relationship Coach | Couples Retreats Communication Skills

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.