Maintaining A Healthy Relationship

The fol­low­ing arti­cle describes what I have sus­pected for a long time and writ­ten about in one of my pre­vi­ous posts. We think that we should know how to man­age our rela­tion­ships and thus are very resis­tant to look­ing for help until it is often too late.

Smart busi­nesses invest in adver­tis­ing and devel­op­ment in the peri­ods of their pros­per­ity. We also invest on a per­sonal level when, as is men­tioned in the arti­cle below, we go to the den­tist for a check up. We do not wait for our teeth to decay first.

The New York Times Arti­cle, Seek­ing to Pre-empt Mar­i­tal Strife by TARA PARKER-POPE is about research by psy­chol­o­gists in the topic of rela­tion­ship main­te­nance. Since I am a coach and author, here I’d like to point out that there is a dif­fer­ence between coach­ing and psychology.

Coach­ing is only for men­tally healthy peo­ple and it is mostly ori­ented towards future actions. We do not delve into the the past and “fix” things, we cre­ate the future. If we notice that there may be some deeper issues that need ther­apy, we would refer our clients to a therapist.

Since psy­chother­apy in this coun­try is a busi­ness, and it could be a very prof­itable one, I think that too many healthy peo­ple are made to think that they need ther­apy or coun­sel­ing (which is also mostly done by ther­a­pists) in order to be able to repair their relationship.

This is by no means intended to bash psy­chother­a­pists. After all, my daugh­ter will be one very soon. There are many cases where ther­apy best be used, but I have seen many peo­ple go to ther­apy as a default option when a lit­tle healthy coach­ing can make all the dif­fer­ence in the world. Ther­apy can be expen­sive, where just a few insights into the core prin­ci­ples of a suc­cess­ful rela­tion­ships may cause all the change that you want in your relationship .

All this said, here is the link to this excel­lent arti­cle by Tara Parker-Pope that was sent to me by my friend Anabela Enes:

JUNE 28, 2010, 5:17 PM
Seek­ing to Pre-empt Mar­i­tal Strife
Stu­art Brad­ford Does your mar­riage need ther­apy? If you’re like most peo­ple, the cor­rect answer may well be yes, but your answer is prob­a­bly no.
In most mar­riages, one or both part­ners resist the idea of coun­sel­ing. Some can’t afford it, or find it incon­ve­nient. And many view ther­apy as a last resort — some­thing only des­per­ate cou­ples need. Only 19 per­cent of cur­rently mar­ried cou­ples have taken part in mar­riage coun­sel­ing; a recent study of divorc­ing cou­ples found that nearly two-thirds never sought coun­sel­ing before decid­ing to end the rela­tion­ship.
“It seems like we’re even more resis­tant to think­ing about get­ting help for our rela­tion­ship than we are for depres­sion or anx­i­ety,” said Brian D. Doss, an assis­tant psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Miami. “There’s a strong dis­in­cen­tive to think about your rela­tion­ship as being in trou­ble — that’s almost admit­ting fail­ure by admit­ting that some­thing isn’t right.”
Mar­riage coun­sel­ing does not always work, of course — per­haps because it is so often delayed past the point of no return. One recent study of two types of ther­apy found that only about half the cou­ples reported long-lasting improve­ments in their mar­riages.
So researchers have begun look­ing for ways (some of them online) to reach cou­ples before a mar­riage goes off the rails.
One fed­er­ally financed study is track­ing 217 cou­ples tak­ing part in an annual “mar­riage checkup” that essen­tially offers pre­ven­tive care, like an annual phys­i­cal or a den­tal exam.
“You don’t wait to see the den­tist until some­thing hurts — you go for check­ups on a reg­u­lar basis,” said James V. Cór­dova, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at Clark Uni­ver­sity in Worces­ter, Mass., who wrote “The Mar­riage Checkup” (Jason Aron­son, 2009). “That’s the model we’re test­ing. If peo­ple were to bring their mar­riages in for a checkup on an annual basis, would that pro­vide the same sort of ben­e­fit that a phys­i­cal health checkup would pro­vide?”
Although Dr. Cór­dova and col­leagues are still tal­ly­ing the data, pre­lim­i­nary find­ings show that cou­ples who take part in the pro­gram do expe­ri­ence improve­ments in mar­i­tal qual­ity. By work­ing with cou­ples before they are unhappy, the checkup iden­ti­fies poten­tially “cor­ro­sive” behav­iors and helps cou­ples make small changes in com­mu­ni­ca­tion style before their prob­lems spi­ral out of con­trol. (Typ­i­cal prob­lems include lack of time for sex and blam­ing a part­ner for the stresses of child rear­ing.)
“Cou­ples won’t go to mar­i­tal ther­apy with just the one thing that they are strug­gling with,” Dr. Cór­dova said. “So they end up strug­gling in places where the fix might be sim­ple, it’s just that they them­selves are blind to it.”
Not sur­pris­ingly, some ther­a­pists are cre­at­ing online self-help pro­grams to reach cou­ples before seri­ous prob­lems set in. Dr. Doss and Andrew Chris­tensen, a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los Ange­les, are recruit­ing cou­ples at to study such a pro­gram.
The online study, financed by a five-year $1.2 mil­lion grant from the National Insti­tute of Child Health and Human Devel­op­ment, will deliver online ther­apy to 500 cou­ples. It is based on “accep­tance ther­apy,” which focuses on bet­ter under­stand­ing of a partner’s flaws — a tech­nique described in “Rec­on­cil­able Dif­fer­ences” (Guil­ford Press, 2002), by Dr. Chris­tensen and Neil S. Jacob­son.
The method, for­mally called inte­gra­tive behav­ioral ther­apy, was the sub­ject of one of the largest and longest clin­i­cal tri­als of cou­ples ther­apy. Over a year, 134 highly dis­tressed mar­ried cou­ples in Los Ange­les and Seat­tle received 26 ther­apy ses­sions, with follow-up ses­sions every six months for the next five years.
Half the cou­ples received tra­di­tional ther­apy that focused on bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion and prob­lem solv­ing, while the oth­ers took part in a sim­i­lar pro­gram that included accep­tance ther­apy. Five years after treat­ment, about half the mar­riages in both groups were sig­nif­i­cantly improved, accord­ing to the study, which appeared in the April issue of The Jour­nal of Con­sult­ing and Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­ogy. Dr. Chris­tensen says about a third of the sub­jects could be described as “nor­mal, happy cou­ples,” a sig­nif­i­cant improve­ment con­sid­er­ing how dis­tressed they were at the start. (The cou­ples who received accep­tance ther­apy had bet­ter results after two years, but both types of ther­apy were about equal by the end of the study.)
The hope is that an online ver­sion of the pro­gram could reach cou­ples sooner, and also offer booster ses­sions to improve results. Even so, Dr. Chris­tensen notes that the dis­ad­van­tage of online ther­apy is that it won’t give cou­ples a third party to ref­eree their dis­cus­sion.
“Nobody thinks it’s going to replace indi­vid­ual ther­apy or cou­ples ther­apy,” he said. “There’s gen­er­ally a sense that the inter­ven­tion might be less pow­er­ful, but if it’s less pow­er­ful but is eas­ily admin­is­tered to many more peo­ple, then it’s still a very help­ful treat­ment.”
Researchers at Brigham Young Uni­ver­sity offer an exten­sive online mar­i­tal assess­ment, called Relate, for cou­ples and indi­vid­u­als. The detailed ques­tion­naire, at www.relate–, takes about 35 min­utes to com­plete and gen­er­ates a lengthy report with color-coded graphs depict­ing a couple’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­flict style, how much effort each part­ner puts into the rela­tion­ship, and other things. The fee is $20 to $40.
Aus­tralian researchers are using the same assess­ment, along with a DVD and tele­phone edu­ca­tion pro­gram called Cou­ple Care, found at, to reach fam­i­lies in remote areas who don’t have access to tra­di­tional ther­apy. The Utah and Aus­tralia researchers have begun a ran­dom­ized, con­trolled trial of about 300 cou­ples to deter­mine the effec­tive­ness of the approach.
Pre­lim­i­nary data show that cou­ples reported improve­ment, but Kim Hal­ford, a pro­fes­sor of clin­i­cal psy­chol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land, St. Lucia, in Aus­tralia, said more study of long-term effects was needed.
Dr. Hal­ford notes that as more cou­ples meet through Web dat­ing ser­vices, the appeal of online cou­ples coun­sel­ing may increase. “If infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy is inte­gral to how you began your rela­tion­ship,” he said, “then if ther­apy is required it’s not sur­pris­ing that they would look to online tech­nol­ogy.”
A ver­sion of this arti­cle appeared in print on June 29, 2010, on page D1 of the New York edi­tion.
Copy­right 2010 The New York Times Com­pany
Pri­vacy Pol­icy
620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018


If you are not sure about qual­ity of your rela­tion­ship, you may check it HERE

If your rela­tion­ship is less than you may con­sider “per­fect”, The Game­less Rela­tion­ship will expose exactly what may be missing.

Thank you



On Looking Good

If there is one drive that all humans have apart from their sex­ual drive, it must be the desire to look good. By look­ing good I don’t mean just visu­ally but also intel­lec­tu­ally. What con­sti­tutes look­ing good varies from per­son to per­son. The com­mon denom­i­na­tor prob­a­bly is avoid­ing not being good enough. In all these years of coach­ing peo­ple I have never come across a sin­gle per­son who deep inside truly thought that he is good enough. This, of course, applies to women too. Appear­ance is every­thing. What will oth­ers think about you? Do you come across as stu­pid, incom­pe­tent, not lov­able, too old or too young, not sexy enough, not beau­ti­ful, rich, respected, well dressed enough? The list goes on. Pick your own rea­sons as to why and in which area you think you are not good enough. So now you may think what has that got to do with rela­tion­ships. Maybe you already have an inkling.

But first let’s quickly sum­ma­rize where this deep “know­ing” of some­thing being wrong with us comes from. It comes from our beliefs, which are mostly formed before our age of seven or so. Some­thing kept hap­pen­ing and we inter­preted it as if it was our fault, and if only we were some­how dif­fer­ent that would not have been hap­pen­ing. Well, with­out our know­ing it we could not have inter­preted it any other way because up to that age we are very self-centered and we are not able to see the world as sep­a­rate from us.

Then we become adults and for­get about the source of the deci­sions we made when we were five and keep believ­ing that that’s who we are — sad, but true. Now all the rest of our lives we try to com­pen­sate for our not being “good enough” by prov­ing that we are, pre­tend­ing, and try­ing to appear as good enough by doing every­thing to be attrac­tive, loved, respected, accepted, approved of, etc. In other words, we are imple­ment­ing our “sur­vival strat­egy,” not being aware that we do not need one in the first place. The orig­i­nal con­clu­sion, of which we for­got the source, was faulty and for the rest of our lives we are try­ing to cor­rect a nonex­is­tent wrong.

This is where the notion of love comes in. You can­not love any­one if you do not love your­self first, it is said. In other words, how can you sat­isfy one of the basic com­po­nents in your rela­tion­ship, i.e., to love your part­ner, if your focus is on look­ing good and pre­tend­ing to be some­one you are not, which is bound to come out in almost all the con­ver­sa­tions and espe­cially the ones where you are not in agree­ment with your partner.

So, now, start notic­ing when you are not being “you”, but some­one who you think you “should” be. How often do you still try to meet some­one else’s expec­ta­tions (like your father’s or your mother’s)? How often you feel uncom­fort­able because you “must” look good. You see, the whole life is one big med­i­ta­tion, being aware where you pre­tend and by pre­tend­ing you squan­der a chance of plea­sure to be authen­tic, your true self. This is who your part­ner or spouse want you to be – just you. Don’t you?

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Teenage Relationships

A while ago I was inter­viewed by a jour­nal­ist from South Africa by e-mail about teenage rela­tion­ships. I thought you may like it … and hope to get you inspired to com­ment or ask ques­tions. So, here it is:

Lita Fifield-Weaver wrote:
Hello again
Thank you for let­ting me ask you some ques­tions, sorry I can’t ring as I live in New Zealand.

1. What com­mon thread do you see in fail­ing relationships?

All happy fam­i­lies are alike, but an unhappy fam­ily is unhappy after its own fash­ion.“
Leo Tol­stoy (1828 — 1910)
Lack of the basic Four Prin­ci­ples that must be present in every healthy and suc­cess­ful rela­tion­ship: integrity, sense of respon­si­bil­ity, com­mit­ment and love. (To find out more about these I enclose my book The Game­less Rela­tion­ship) There are as many rea­sons as there are peo­ple as to why they are not able to keep the afore men­tioned prin­ci­ples in their lives. Rea­sons vary from imma­tu­rity to alco­holism, per­sonal beliefs acquired while grow­ing up to present life con­di­tions, get­ting together for the wrong rea­sons and abu­sive rela­tion­ships. Feel free to make up your own.
2. Is there a down­side to help­ing peo­ple with relationships?

No, if you rig­or­ously sup­port them in devel­op­ing the Four Prin­ci­ples. It hap­pens often enough, though that peo­ple real­ize that both of them would be bet­ter off if they split up. That does not mean that they have to be strangers or ene­mies. Peo­ple who do not under­stand the Four Prin­ci­ples as well as the pro­found dif­fer­ences between mas­cu­line and fem­i­nine nature should not barge into other people’s relationships.

3. What meth­ods do you use to help cou­ples or indi­vid­u­als with their relationships?

I don’t think that I am using any par­tic­u­lar method. I am a per­sonal coach. So, after hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with peo­ple I usu­ally very quickly get to the bot­tom of the prob­lem and some­times have to use cer­tain meth­ods to remove the bar­ri­ers to their aware­ness to what is really going on and what kind of games they play. I find that a lack of self esteem and ingrained beliefs are most com­mon cause of problems.

4. You have a daugh­ter, does she, or did she come to you for help with her relationships?

Yes, and I am proud of it. When­ever she asks for help I have to put my “coach­ing hat” on, stop being a father (which is not easy) and become a coach. So far I have suc­ceeded, and so has she.

5. Have you used your own skills to improve your relationship?

Lately, yes, but, I wish I knew 20 years ago what I know now .

6. Are there cer­tain  per­son­al­ity types which are more suited to estab­lish­ing  a long-term rela­tion­ship in life?

I don’t believe so, con­trary, I am sure, to so many astrologers, and typologists.

7. What are the advan­tages of a long term rela­tion­ship early on in life?

I don’t see any. Men are ready when they are ready and women are ready (for very dif­fer­ent rea­sons) when they are. It is impor­tant that per­son is mature and will­ing. For some peo­ple it hap­pens at 16 and for some never.

8. Is it more com­mon that in some cul­tures peo­ple get mar­ried when they are older rather than younger?

It looks like that peo­ple in the West get in long term rela­tion­ships later in life. Fam­ily bonds and fam­ily sup­port in the West are much weaker, so peo­ple have to rely more on their own per­sonal strength to sus­tain a healthy rela­tion­ship, and that comes only with a cer­tain level of maturity.

9. What do you believe is your biggest suc­cess in life? Why?

I stopped smok­ing in 1983 after 20 years of smok­ing 3 packs a day. To beat addic­tion of any kind is the biggest suc­cess that one can have, in my opinion.

10. Is there any advice your regret giv­ing some­one? Why?

I do not regret any because, luck­ily, peo­ple never lis­tened to my bad advice. I am much bet­ter at it nowadays.

11. You want your clients to be at their best at al times,

Every­body is ALWAYS at their best. That is the law of real­ity. Peo­ple would always do bet­ter if they could. So they are always per­fect exactly the way they are and exactly the way they are not, NOW. (Please see The Game­less Rela­tion­ship chap­ter on Love)

12. But how do you man­i­fest your best?

You always do. The ques­tion is who you are going to be NEXT?

13. Have you dealt with arranged marriages/relationships in your trav­el­ling to Kuwait, Yugoslavia  and the United States, what bar­ri­ers did you have to over come in these circumstances?

In many cases, espe­cially in tribal and closed soci­eties arranged mar­riages work well. If they don’t, the peo­ple who had arranged the mar­riages did not see the pos­si­ble pit­falls. In a fast chang­ing world as it is today it is very dif­fi­cult to pre­dict the cir­cum­stances which may influ­ence peo­ple to change.

14. What are you opin­ions on teenage relationships?

It is only nat­ural that teenagers will form rela­tion­ships. It is a parental duty to edu­cate their teenagers. This is mostly done by the exam­ple of their rela­tion­ship with each other and their fam­ily mem­bers, strangers, and most impor­tantly by hav­ing a great rela­tion­ship with their chil­dren from day one. If they leave it until the time the chil­dren become teenagers, it is more often than not too late. The prob­lem is that the knowl­edge that the par­ents have about rela­tion­ships is what they’ve learned from THEIR par­ents which may not be very help­ful two gen­er­a­tions later.

15. Do you believe that teen rela­tion­ships are a dis­trac­tion? Why/why not?

Dis­trac­tion from what? School, maybe, life, no.

16. What is a healthy relationship?

We usu­ally know when we see one: peo­ple are happy, free, fully self expressed, ful­filled, love is present, etc. In other words they have the Four Prin­ci­ples as a part of their life, although they may even not know it if you ask them about it.

17. Look­ing back now, would you change any­thing about your life?

No, life is per­fect exactly as it is and it is per­fect exactly as it is not.

The Rela­tion­ship Saver

The Game­less Relationship

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Relationship Help

After deal­ing with thou­sands of peo­ple and their rela­tion­ships, it became very obvi­ous to me that the peo­ple who are look­ing for rela­tion­ship help usu­ally seek it after they have exhausted all the knowl­edge and tricks they them­selves had up their sleeve. By the time they start look­ing for rela­tion­ship help, it is often, if not too late, then at least more dif­fi­cult to get the rela­tion­ship help that would work than if they had started look­ing at the first signs of trouble.

So, what are the sources that peo­ple look for when they need rela­tion­ship help? As I men­tioned above, they first try to do what­ever they think would work. Unfor­tu­nately, solu­tions to a prob­lem can­not be found in the mind of the per­son who cre­ated the prob­lem in the first place, to para­phrase Albert Ein­stein. Rela­tion­ship help almost always must come from the out­side. At this point it must be said that not all that is intended to be “rela­tion­ship help” is actu­ally help­ful. The rule of the thumb is that the closer the per­son is to the trou­bled par­tic­i­pants in a rela­tion­ship, the less mean­ing­ful help they can offer. Our logic will tell us that the “closer the per­son is to me, like friends and fam­ily, the more they care about me and the bet­ter advice they will give me.” Not so. Rela­tion­ship help may eas­ily turn to rela­tion­ship hell when all the emo­tions of the peo­ple who care about you con­verge with your own. Rela­tion­ship help can come only from an unat­tached indi­vid­ual who has no stake in the rela­tion­ship one way or another.

Rela­tion­ship help is best pro­vided by peo­ple who can see the sit­u­a­tion clearly and who are neu­tral so that they can read between the lines and uncover the blind spots, thus cre­at­ing a dif­fer­ent con­text from which a dif­fer­ent point of view of the sit­u­a­tion can emerge. Rela­tion­ship help is also best pro­vided by pro­fes­sion­als in the field and often by older, wise peo­ple. The range of pro­fes­sion­als who offer rela­tion­ship help is vast. It ranges from social work­ers, doc­tors, psy­chol­o­gists, psy­chi­a­trists, coun­selors and coaches. Which one is best for you depends what state you are in. If you suf­fer from severe depres­sion or a men­tal dis­or­der, then doc­tors, psy­chol­o­gists and even psy­chi­a­trists may be for you. If you have a rel­a­tively small prob­lem and you are men­tally healthy, then a social worker or a coach may be your answer. Also, it is a good idea to con­sult a social worker first if you sus­pect a men­tal dis­or­der. From the feed­back I receive, rela­tion­ship help does not seem to be very fruit­ful if it comes from mar­riage coun­selors. This is not about coun­selors; the sys­tem is set up that way. It seems to be out­dated for most sit­u­a­tions. It pre­sumes that both part­ners want to get rela­tion­ship help when, in fact, many cou­ples go to coun­selors together just because one part­ner wants help with their rela­tion­ship but other is resist­ing it. In other words, one per­son wants to stay in and other one wants out.

I find, that at this stage a good coach often rec­og­nizes that the only per­son who can make a dif­fer­ence in a rela­tion­ship is the one who wants to keep it, the one who seeks help. There­fore, why bother with a destruc­tive party at all. Focus on and give rela­tion­ship help to a per­son who is com­mit­ted to the rela­tion­ship, the premise here being that a) peo­ple REACT to each other and b) no one can change any­one else with­out their consent.

So, if you want to keep the rela­tion­ship, you first need to see your rela­tion­ship in another con­text by hav­ing insights about what your part was in the rela­tion­ship break­down. Once you see that, the point of view about your rela­tion­ship changes and your behav­ior con­se­quently changes. When your behav­ior changes, your part­ner will react to THAT changed behav­ior and, voila, things turn around and a new rela­tion­ship is cre­ated. There­fore, if you think you may need help with your rela­tion­ship do not waste time try­ing to fix it your­self because if you knew how, your rela­tion­ship would not be where it is now.

I sug­gest you check out The Rela­tion­ship Saver first ( . It may be just all you need to get help with your rela­tion­ship. In case your rela­tion­ship is “just fine, thank you”, you still may want to read The Game­less Rela­tion­ship ( if you want to have an awe­some one

Good luck!


The Rela­tion­ship Saver

The Game­less Relationship

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