communication & conflict

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. 

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FREE CALL ANNOUNCEMENT: Managing Jealousy & Insecurity in Healthy Relationships

MONTHLY FREE COACHING CALL

Every month I host a free call for a small group on topics essential to success in love and entrepreneurship. 

We focus the conversation on tangible skills you can easily implement in your relationship and small business to build the deeply connected life of your dreams.

One hour max.  Always fun.  Always free.


MANAGING JEALOUSY & INSECURITY IN RELATIONSHIPS

Fri, August 16, 2019

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT

Online/Video Call (join from the comfort of your home)

JOIN US

Join this month's free call to learn the skills you need to manage the intensity of jealousy and insecurity so they don't negatively impact the relationships that matter most to you.

Here's what we'll cover:

1. How to identify, interrupt, and befriend your jealous reactions.

2. Skills to channel your reactive emotions for stronger connection.

3. How to communicate effectively when insecurity and jealousy come up.

4. Practices to nourish trust in your intimate partnerships.

We'll end with a quick coaching session to answer your specific questions about jealousy and insecurity in your own relationship!

When you register I'll send you an access code for my free relationship tool library, which includes eight specific tools and guides for healthy communication.

And you'll get a copy of my workbook, Managing Jealousy in Romantic Relationships.

Sign up today and join the conversation!

ABOUT YOUR COACH

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

She coaches online clients all over the world and leads retreats in the U.S.

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.


FREE CALL ANNOUNCEMENT: Healthy Conflicts Skills for Couples

MONTHLY FREE COACHING CALL

Every month I host a free call for a small group on topics essential to success in love and entrepreneurship. 

We focus the conversation on tangible skills you can easily implement in your relationship and small business to build the deeply connected life of your dreams.

One hour max.  Always fun.  Always free.


HEALTHY CONFLICT SKILLS FOR COUPLES

Fri, July 12, 2019

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT

Online/Video Call (join from the comfort of your home)

JOIN US

Join this month's free call to learn the skills and solutions commonly practiced in successful non-traditional relationships.

Here's what we'll cover:

1. The five simple rules to fighting better that create a foundation for healthy conflict.

2. Three essential skills to manage intense emotions when they come up in conversation.

3. How to interrupt cyclical conflicts (the ones that just keep coming up again and again and again and again).

4. How to reach a meaningful resolution and feel heard once and for all.

We'll end with a quick coaching session to answer your specific questions about conflict in your own relationship!

When you register I'll send you an access code for my free relationship tool library, which includes eight specific tools and guides for healthy communication. And you'll get a copy of my workbook, Five Simple Ways to Fight Better Now.

Sign up today and join the conversation!

ABOUT YOUR COACH

gs headshot 3.jpg

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

She coaches online clients all over the world and leads retreats in the U.S.

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.


FREE CALL ANNOUNCEMENT: Overcoming Trust Issues in Healthy Relationships

MONTHLY FREE COACHING CALL

Every month I host a free call for a small group on topics essential to success in love and entrepreneurship. 

We focus the conversation on tangible skills you can easily implement in your relationship and small business to build the deeply connected life of your dreams.

One hour max.  Always fun.  Always free.


OVERCOMING TRUST ISSUES IN HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

Fri, June 14, 2019

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT

Online/Video Call (join from the comfort of your home)

JOIN US

Join this month's free call to learn the five foundations of trust and how to nourish them in the relationships that matter most to you.

Here's what we'll cover:

1. The trust we've uncovered in research about trust in relationships.

2. How to cultivate more self-trust.

3. Practices to nourish trust in your intimate partnerships.

4. How to repair trust when it's been broken.

We'll end with a quick coaching session to answer your specific questions about trust in your own relationship!

When you register I'll send you an access code for my free relationship tool library, which includes eight specific tools and guides for healthy communication.

And you'll get a copy of my workbook, Overcoming Trust Issues in Romantic Relationships.

Sign up today and join the conversation!

ABOUT YOUR COACH

gs headshot 3.jpg

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

She coaches online clients all over the world and leads retreats in the U.S.

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.


FREE CALL ANNOUNCEMENT: Six Forms of Intimacy and Deeper Connection in Relationships

MONTHLY FREE COACHING CALL

Every month I host a free call for a small group on topics essential to success in love and entrepreneurship. 

We focus the conversation on tangible skills you can easily implement in your relationship and small business to build the deeply connected life of your dreams.

One hour max.  Always fun.  Always free.

These events often fill quickly. Hop on the waitlist to get access to the recording and be notified when a space becomes available.

JOIN US

Join this month's very intimate free call to learn what you need to know to sustain intimacy in long-term relationships.

Here's what we'll cover:

1. The six forms of intimacy you need to sustain vibrant fulfilling relationships.

2. How to cultivate intimate friendships without breaking trust.

3. How to manage insecurity in relationships.

4. How to better balance independence and meaningful connection in intimate partnerships.

We'll end with a quick coaching session to answer your specific questions about intimacy in your own relationship!

Whether you join us or not, download these Ten Journal Prompts for

When you register I'll send you an access code for my free relationship tool library, which includes eight specific tools and guides for healthy communication and boundaries. It also hosts my consent and intimacy guides for passionate partnerships.

Sign up today and join the conversation!


ABOUT YOUR COACH

GS headshot 2.jpg

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

She coaches online clients all over the world and leads retreats in the U.S.

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

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.

Questions to Ask When Deciding to Break Up

Making the decision to break up isn't easy. Most of you reading this have good reasons to both stay and go. For the most part, people felt super ambivalent about their relationships even if the decision seems pretty obvious. Most people have baseline dealbreakers that often go out the window when they meet someone and feel a strong chemical reaction.

Over time we start wondering if compromising those standards and some of our independence was really worth it.

Others start feeling stuck in unresolved conflict and unaddressed resentments that block our ability to deeply connect.

It’s hard to end a relationship for many reasons. If nothing else, there’s no way to end a relationship without facing the reality of loss and grief. But sometimes loss and grief are what you both need to build fuller, more enriching lives apart.

Questions to Ask When Deciding If You Should Break Up

Breaking up is obviously never easy. However, these 18 questions are designed to help you find some clarity if you're having difficulty deciding what to do:

  1. Have I been feeling unsafe, intimidated or threatened in this relationship?

  2. Have I been criticized, degraded or disrespected on a consistent basis?

  3. Have I been regularly interrogated about who I talk to, where I go, how much money I spend and related issues?

  4. Have I been walking on eggshells because I’m fearful or uncomfortable speaking my mind in this relationship?

  5. Does my partner always blame me or others for their problems or things that go wrong?

  6. Is my partner excessively possessive, calling or texting constantly, visiting expectantly to check up on me?

  7. Does my partner make me feel inadequate?

  8. How is this ending going to improve my life? The other person’s life?

  9. Does my partner keep their word or promises? Do I?

  10. Does my partner take responsibility for their actions? Do I?

  11. Is my partner willing to see things from my perspective? Will I see theirs?

  12. Does this person make me happy or would I be happier by myself?

  13. Have I asked for my needs to be met directly and respectfully?

  14. Am I expecting my partner to be the only one who changes - am I willing to make serious changes in order to make this work?

  15. Have we adequately tried to resolve conflicts and stuck points? Are we willing to hire help if needed?

  16. Do we have the same values and goals for the future?

  17. Am I ready to walk-away or am I going to end it and get back together?

  18. Can I handle being single and finding other supports for my grief through this break up?

At the end of the day, no one can decide what you should do about your relationship but you. But if you really take the time to think it over, you'll make the right decision for you.

If you want help sorting through this decision please give me a call for a consultation. I’ve supported hundreds of great folks as they decide to stay or go and I’d be happy to help you.


Gina Senarighi Madison Couples Counselor

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 co-hosts the Swoon podcast and coaches clients online all over the world and leads retreats in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest United states.

When she’s not working she’s tending her urban garden, traveling with her partner, raising her toddler, listening to podcasts or walking her little dog, Frida in Madison, Wisconsin.

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.