This was first published on familyshare.com
Most of the couples we work with admit that intimacy continues to be the most challenging part of their relationship. We believe the one thing that creates the most disconnection and lack of intimacy in relationships is disappointment, and this is a big problem because we are all disappointed with our spouse and our marriage on occasion.
Disappointment is a problem because it creates fear of loss, which is the feeling of not getting what you wanted or having unmet expectations. With this comes resentment and a marriage where you don’t feel safe. If you don’t feel safe, you cannot give yourself to your spouse intimately in a connected way.
Here are four important principles that can help cure fear of loss and disappointment, so you can have a better connection in your relationship:
Principle 1: We are on the planet to learn and grow — not to have all our expectations met.
We are striving for happiness in life, but we must also understand the real purpose of this journey is growth and learning. Because of that, we are attracted to a person who can help us grow and learn, not a person who will make us blissfully happy every day. In other words, you marry your best teacher, and they teach you by pushing your buttons and triggering your fears — so you can see them and work on them.
You must start seeing your marriage as school with the goal to learn to love and understand another person, get past your expectations and practice being responsible for your own happiness. When you see your marriage accurately, you are more prone to focus on growth and experience less loss and self-pity.
Principle 2: In every moment there will be things in your life that aren't the way you wish they were.
You may have health problems, financial problems, a husband that struggles with selfishness, a leaky roof, a mean neighbor or a wife who is struggling with love and intimacy. When these situations show up, you might have feelings of misery, anger or self-pity. Your disappointment and frustration towards these “less than ideal circumstances” creates unhappiness.
What’s important is that you recognize you are responsible for the amount you suffer with these. Your spouse and their issues cannot make you miserable. You are always in control of how miserable you decide to be. Of course, you will always do what you can to fix and repair situations you don’t like, but you must also choose to focus on the positive around all the blessings you have, too. People who are grateful have better connection than those who feel cursed by life.
The questions you must ask yourself are: “What could this experience of lack be here to teach me? How am I supposed to become better, stronger or wiser through this in my life?” When you approach disappointments this way, you will step out of the victim mentality and into a place of growth. Connection and self-pity can’t both happen; you will have to choose which you want.
Principle 3: In every moment of your life there are things you could be grateful for.
We understand that a lack of intimacy or poor connection is painful and disappointing, but if you step back and count your blessings and look at all the problems you don’t have, you could also be really grateful. The truth is, in every moment of your life, some things will be good and others will be lacking. So if you can’t focus on the good and be happy and grateful right now, you will never be able to. Or you could choose to happy and grateful all the time. It’s up to you.
Principle 4: The secret to quality intimate connection is being the cure to their fear.
If you become the safest place on earth for your spouse, a place of encouragement, appreciation and admiration, they will feel a whole new level of connection with you and their interest in intimacy will increase.
If you often criticize, complain about or act disappointed in your spouse, they will pull away emotionally and connection will not happen. After working with hundreds and hundreds of couples, we promise that becoming your spouse’s safest place works and quickly increases connection for most couples.
If it doesn’t work for you, there are probably issues in your relationship around your spouse not truly wanting to fix it, and nothing can improve if one of you doesn’t want to.
Buddha said, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” He meant that your situation does not determine your happiness. The way you choose to think and feel about your situation does. You have the power to be at peace right now. Then, from this peaceful place, validate your spouse and make them feel safe — great connection will follow.
We know this is a hard one — but you can do it.
Kimberly Giles is the president of 12shapes.com. She is also the author of several books “The People Guidebook for Great Relationships” and "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness. Kim is also a sought-after coach and speaker.
This was first published on familyshare.com
As master life coaches, we have found that human behavior is driven by what we value and what we fear; but unfortunately most of it is driven by fear. Even many of the nice things we do aren’t driven by love, but by the need to earn validation -- to quiet the fear of not being good enough.
Here is a list of common fears and how they may impact your relationships. Take your time and think about how each might be showing up in your life.
1. Do you fear failure (not being good enough)?
This fear is the root of low self-esteem, and we all have some of this, to some degree, every day. Low self-esteem is the main cause of relationship problems, because the insecurity it produces makes you needy for validation. That need for validation means you have an empty bucket and you expect your partner to fill it. You might even make your partner responsible for how you feel about yourself. This is a recipe for disaster, because he or she can’t give you enough validation to fill your bucket when you are emptying it with negative thinking about yourself at the same time.
If this is a big issue for you, you are probably getting angry with your partner on occasion for not giving you what you need. This creates a rocky love life filled with disappointment and frustration.
2. Do you fear being rejected, left or abandoned?
You may fear this if you have experienced some loss in your past. Even if you lost someone to death, and it wasn’t their fault, you may still subconsciously fear abandonment.
This fear can make you controlling, possessive and suspicious. You probably ask a lot of fear-based questions about what your partner is doing or where they are going. This shows a lack of trust (and is at some level an insult to your partner’s character). If this goes on for a long time, you might create what you fear, because this behavior can push your partner away.
This fear of abandonment creates a relationship where fear is even driving your loving behavior, making it more clingy.
3. Do you fear not being perfect?
If you have perfectionism fear, you believe your value is tied to performance -- meaning the way your house looks, the way your family behaves, the way you do everything in your life determines your value as a person.
With this belief driving your behavior, there is a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure behind everything you do. It also means that your need to feel good enough will come before everything else. You might even treat the people in your life like employees who work for you and are expected to follow your rules all the time. This can make you controlling and domineering at times.
This obviously damages relationships because people feel you care more about things, appearances and performance than you do about them. You can have everything perfect, exactly the way you want it, or you can have rich, connected relationships; but you can't have both. Eventually the people in your life will give up trying to meet your expectations and want out.
4. Do you fear not being loved or approved of by others?
This means you base your self-worth on what other people think of you. This can drive all kinds of bad behavior, depending on who you are trying to earn approval from.
If you are trying to earn validation from your spouse, you may become overly focused on managing their emotional state and feelings toward you. This could mean often betraying yourself, and constantly worrying about trying to be someone you're not.
If you are trying to earn approval from people outside your home, you may spend all your time and energy there and neglect your family. This can create resentment and damage the connection with those you love.
5. Do you fear not having control?
Being a "control freak" is all about fear. You subconsciously can’t feel safe or peaceful unless everything is going the way you think it should. This can be poison in a relationship, because your need for control will trump your need for connection.
You will often mistreat the people in your life, especially if they aren’t doing things the way you want them done. People will, again, feel you care more about things than you care about them. You might also be pushy or have anger issues when things aren’t "right." If this shows up in your relationship, your love life is probably often in conflict and disconnected.
6. Do you fear being taken advantage of?
Our clients with this fear tend to be controlling and constantly on the lookout for anything that could be seen as mistreatment or disrespect. They often see mistreatment in everything, even when it isn’t there. If this fear is present in your life, you are probably offended, angry or defensive much of the time. This can create a toxic relationship if you are constantly disappointed in or angry with your partner, who will feel insulted or attacked often.
If you want your love life to thrive, and for you and your partner to feel happy and safe, you must learn how to live from love, not fear. You must make sure your choices are love-motivated, and you are focused on making your partner feel safe, loved, admired, respected and wanted.
Remember that it is OK to seek professional help to confront subconscious fears that can wreak havoc in your love life. The right help can set you on the path to a happier, more love-filled life.
Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the hosts of Relationship Radio and master life coaches. Visit 12shapes.com to access free resources to help you create the relationships you want.
My spouse is willing to be intimate with me, but she isn’t into it. She goes through the motions because she wants to make me happy, but it feels like another chore she just has to do. I try to make it enjoyable for her, but she still doesn’t seem to want it for herself. I’m glad she is willing but I really want connection and to feel wanted, not just taken care of. Does that make sense? Is there anything I can do to change this?
We believe what you are experiencing is pretty common, because a really connected, passionate, intimate relationship takes a lot of time and work to create, and many couples dealing with the stresses of children and work find there isn’t much time or energy left for improving the quality of their connection.
Intimacy is also a complicated endeavor. There are many physical, psychological, and emotional factors in play. It’s a touchy subject and can bring up a great deal of shame, embarrassment, discomfort, guilt and disappointment. Some couples are also dealing with past abuse, which makes the subject painful and even traumatic. We aren’t able nor qualified to touch on all of those issues, so we highly recommend seeking out some professional help if your situation involves those. But for those who just want to increase the connection with their spouse, we do have some suggestions.
Before we give you our suggestions, remember it takes two for this kind of tango to work. Both partners must be committed to making the relationship rich, close, connected and loving. You don’t have to be good at it, but you must be committed to doing some work on yourself.
If you are the only one who cares about creating this kind of connection, you have a bigger problem that must be dealt with first. We still recommend you work on the four things below, because sometimes a big shift in your approach can shift your partner somewhat. But if your partner is unwilling to discuss, work on, or seek professional help to improve your relationship, you may have a difficult time solving the problem.
In order to create intimacy that is connected, passionate, fulfilling and truly enjoyable for both parties, there are a few factors that must be present. Here are some things you can work on to make your relationship better and more connected:
This is more than just believing your partner won’t cheat. We are talking about a state where your partner feels truly safe both physically and emotionally. You trust they won’t intentionally hurt you or shame you, and you know they will make your needs as important as their own. This is a big deal because you and your spouse both battle a fear of failure — that you aren’t good enough — every day.
Your partner may be afraid of being judged, criticized, or found wanting or disappointing you. Because of this, they may feel at risk and unsafe a lot of the time and they may even see you as a threat (if you trigger their fear of failure more than you cure it).
If you are someone who points out mistakes, flaws, faults, or issues in your partner and even complains they aren’t affectionate or loving enough, then your partner might not feel safe with you. If they don’t feel safe with you, true connection can’t happen. A safe feeling can only happen when a person feels accepted, appreciated, admired and wanted for who they are right now. They need to know they don’t have to be perfect for you to feel this way either. They need to know they are good enough, even though they make mistakes.
If you are good at making your partner feel safe, there is probably a good amount of trust in the relationship. If you have had a pattern of being disappointed, frustrated or angry towards each other, you may have some work to do to build up your level of trust.
Be honest with yourself about how often you make negative comments versus positive ones to your partner. Does your spouse know you wouldn’t put them down, make fun, or embarrass them in front of other people? Do they feel unconditionally accepted and appreciated? Or are they constantly afraid of disappointing you? Are you quick to forgive or do you keep bringing up past wrongs (they can do nothing to fix)?
We believe trust is the most important factor if you want to upgrade the quality of your intimacy. In order for someone to feel comfortable being extremely vulnerable — something that intimacy requires — they must trust you.
Vulnerability is about letting your guard down, putting yourself out there, and truly letting someone see you and know you — your faults and all. A good intimate relationship requires a serious level of vulnerability on both sides. This is a place outside your comfort zone for most people, but you must get brave enough to go here if you want to have real connected intimacy.
You need to ask yourself these questions: “Am I creating a place in this relationship where my partner feels safe to be vulnerable and take risks with me? Does he/she know I’m loyal and wouldn’t betray them, laugh at them, or even worse, criticize or judge them? Do they know I won't hurt them intentionally?”
You also want to ask yourself if you are willing to get vulnerable, take risks, admit your faults and flaws, apologize for mistakes and get out of your ego and into your authentic, vulnerable, heart space? If you feel unsafe to be vulnerable because of body image issues, a lack of comfort around your sexuality, or deep insecurity, these are areas where you must do some work.
If your partner is the one with fears holding them back, you might want to offer to pay for some coaching or counseling to help them overcome these fears. Until the underlying fear issues are dealt with, they will always hold back from being vulnerable and it will be hard to have real connection in intimacy.
3. Comfort level with sexuality
The truth is some people, who grew up in homes where righteousness was in the forefront, may have not learned to be comfortable with their sexuality. We know people who were taught to see physical intimacy as dirty or bad, and they really struggle to feel comfortable with intimacy now. This is not something you can change overnight. First, it’s going to take some work and some willingness and desire to change it.
If you know this is an issue for you or your spouse, we recommend talking to a professional, who can help you create a path towards a different mindset around being intimate.
If your spouse doesn’t care that he or she isn’t comfortable with sexuality, so they aren’t even willing or interested in working on it, you might want to explore what scares them about getting help or changing their mindset. They may have fear of failure around even trying, because they are afraid they still won’t be good at it. They may have fear around how much you might expect from them if they open that door at all. They may be scared of the unknown and staying with the known feels safer.
Until you deal with underlying fear issues and also explore physiological reasons for low libido, you won’t get far on changing the mindset. Make sure you talk to your spouse with a lot of compassion, and validate, honor and respect their right to feel and think the way they do. Don’t make them feel broken, dumb or bad because they haven’t had life experiences that make them feel comfortable yet. Stay out of your fear of loss around not getting the married relationship you wanted — that is all about you and won’t help them feel safer.
You must become the cure to your partner’s fear of failure if you want them to feel connected to you; you must not be the cause of more fear of failure. This means giving them lots of validation and reassurance they are amazing and loved, and not making them feel broken.
4. Desire to both give and receive
Intimacy is connected, passionate and authentically fulfilling when both partners can equally give and receive. But many of us have a subconscious tendency to do one or the other better. Some of us are more natural takers or receivers and we love being given to, pampered, and treated like a queen or king. Others are more natural givers and servers, and we feel safer when we are giving and taking care of everyone around us.
If you are a natural giver, you might not be a very good receiver. You might even be a little co-dependent and think your value comes from giving and if you aren’t giving you may feel selfish. If this sounds like you, you need to learn how to receive, especially if you want to have amazing intimacy.
You might need to start treating yourself to a massage, let others watch your kids so you can relax and do something fun without feeling guilty around it. If this sounds almost impossible to you, we highly recommend you get some help changing how you see your own value and worthiness. There are probably many areas of your life where your over-giving is creating problems.
If you are an over-receiver (taker) you might need to do some work on setting your needs aside and really give to your partner. You may need to ask more questions, read some books, or get some help on what your partner needs and wants from you.
This is a complicated question and the answer will be different for every couple, but hopefully this gives you some ideas on where to start.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. Nicole Cunningham is a master coach and sought after speaker.
My wife and I can’t seem to get along. No matter how hard I try to please her, she says I am selfish with my choices. I am unaware of how my behavior is selfish and have taken great offense to being called this by her again and again. We have been married eight years and I am afraid this may be something we can’t come back from I’m feeling very resentful. Frankly, I think that she is the selfish one, only concerned with herself. Can you give us any advice?
It is hard to feel safe and have good connection in a relationship if you feel your partner is only concerned with their own needs and is not showing up for you. Most of us tend to pull back and focus on ourselves when we feel this too, which means we can become selfish. This is a recipe for disaster in a marriage, because if everyone is focused on what they aren’t getting — no one is giving anything.
You must accurately understand what causes selfishness though if you want to fix it. We believe the real cause of selfishness is fear of loss, and we all battle fear of loss to some degree every day. Fear of loss is basically suffering over feeling mistreated, taken from, ripped off, walked on, or not getting what you were hoping to get.
Every time your spouse does anything that makes you feel your needs aren’t being met, you may find yourself in a fear of loss, scarcity, hard-done-by state. The second you feel you aren’t getting what you expected, you can be in fear of loss and this drives you to subconsciously focus on protecting yourself, controlling things and getting your own needs met. Fear of losing out creates selfishness.
The question you must ask yourself is how much of the time are you thinking about what you aren’t getting and how often are you focused on meeting your spouse’s needs and giving to them? (The right answer is not what you might think.) Being totally focused on the other person isn't healthy either. It's co-dependent and this creates problems in relationships too. The right answer is to have a good equal balance between taking care of yourself and showing up for your spouse.
Good relationships are created when both partners are working on their own fears of failure and loss, feel secure and good about themselves and know how to ask for what they want and need (so they are responsible for their needs and don’t make it their partner's job to keep them happy.)
It is your job (not your partner's) to make sure your needs are being met and your bucket is kept full. If you are running on empty and are desperate for validation and reassurance, you are good enough, loved and wanted, you are probably not good at asking for what you need and doing self-care. This is the first thing we recommend you both work on. If you make sure your bucket is full, you will always have the energy to give to your family.
But, you could have an unhealthy partner, who despite any amount of self-care, boundaries and speaking up, isn’t interested in showing up for you. If you really feel your spouse doesn’t care and is only in this for themselves, we highly recommend you seek out a coach or counselor, who can help you both work on the relationship. If your spouse is not willing to get professional help, you may have a tough decision to make about what’s right for you moving forward.
Having said that, most of the time selfishness can be fixed if you both recognize your fears of failure and loss, and learn how to get out of them. We believe many of us withdraw when we are triggered by the fear of failure in a relationship, as we feel it’s safer to be alone and protect ourselves, especially if we receive criticism or feedback that is negative.
Your fear of failure is probably getting triggered by your wife’s feedback that you are selfish and this might be making you pull back and even become selfish because you are now focused on protecting yourself. When one spouse reacts in fear (which is selfish) it usually triggers the other person's fears and brings out selfishness in them too.
It sounds like your wife may be suffering with fear of loss, as she feels life is unfair and she is not getting the happy marriage she believed she would have. The fear of loss is triggered any time you feel taken from or your expectations are not met. Fear of loss may also be showing up in you, as you think about the impact of your wife’s criticism and the fact you also don’t have the marriage you wanted.
Instead of staying triggered in these fears you must adjust your mindset about your value, knowing it cannot be diminished no matter what your spouse thinks or says about you, and learn to see this situation as a learning opportunity.
In what ways could your wife’s feedback and comment about selfish behavior be your perfect learning opportunity right now? Would you be open to thinking about how you could use this issue to strengthen your marriage and see her feedback as just her way of trying to ask for the love she needs?
Actually, there is a powerful truth here you must understand -- all bad behavior is really a request for love. Most of the time this person who is attacking you is really subconsciously begging for validation and reassurance to quiet their fears. It is their fears of failure and loss that are driving the attacks. When you see their behavior accurately, you can handle it in a way that will create connection, not conflict.
Many of us are ill equipped with how to see behavior accurately, communicate, and ask for what we need in our marriage in a healthy way. Instead, we create hidden expectations that our spouse is supposed to fulfill, yet we don’t communicate them well, so they aren’t met, and we end up disappointed and even angry at our spouse. Where does the fault really lie for this? We believe it takes two scared people to create this dynamic, so you both have some work to do.
When expectations aren’t met, resentment begins and the label of "selfish" comes in. Instead of accepting this as a fact in your marriage, here are some things you can do:
1. Make time and space for some loving conversations and ask your partner how you could show up better for them, and let them ask you for what they need. ‘Honey, in what way can I support you right now and make you feel more loved?’ Ask your spouse this weekly.
2. Make a rule that neither of you will bring up past bad behavior, but focus only on the good behavior you want and need moving forward.
3. Pick one thing to work on doing to love your spouse better this week.
4. When you feel the triggers of self-pity, criticism or fear show up, remember your value can’t change and is the same no matter what and this is just this week’s lesson the universe has provided to give you a chance to practice being more wise and loving. We are on this planet to grow and learn. We believe your spouse can help you grow by pushing your fear buttons and bringing out your worst behavior so you can work on it, but these experiences are not a curse, they are an opportunity to become more mature, wise, strong and loving.
You can do this.
There is a free worksheet to guide you through having mutually validation conversations with your spouse on our website, and the Choosing Clarity workbook would also really help.
This was first published on KSL.com
My husband has a lot of hobbies and friends, and he stays very busy. How do I help him balance that better and let go of my resentment when he is having his "me" time? Should I always be number one (like I feel I should) or do I need to be more flexible and let him have his time? I build up a lot of resentment that I can't let go of and I feel like he doesn't want to be with me. He says he does, but he has a lot going on and is always busy. How do I communicate my feelings out of love, instead of resentment, nagging and bitterness?
Before saying anything to him about this, you must figure out what it is you really want. Do you want to spend more time having fun with your spouse? Do you want more time to go have fun with your friends? Do you want him to help out and stay home more? Or do you want your spouse to feel guilty and bad for being selfish?
If you don’t get clear about what you really want, your subconscious programming and your ego may drive behavior that will create something you don’t want. So, take a minute and decide what you really want.
Then, understand resentment around your spouse’s “me time” can be a sign that you aren’t taking care of yourself and getting the “me time” you need. And I hate to tell you this, but you are the one to blame for that.
You are the one who is in charge of taking care of your needs. If you need something more or different in your life to feel happy and fulfilled or supported, you must ask for it and make it happen.
You cannot make your spouse responsible for your self-esteem, happiness and fulfillment. You are in charge of those. If you have trouble doing self-care, you may want to get some coaching to help you get past the guilt issues that prevent you from taking care of your own needs.
It is not selfish to take care of yourself and ask for what you want and need. It’s healthy, and when you realize this and start getting yours, you will also stop seeing your husband's self-care as selfish and you will resent him less.
Also, remember there is a difference between being his first priority and you being all he needs to have a fulfilled life. We are all very different and some of us need friends, hobbies and outside interests to feel fulfilled, while others are totally happy with just their spouse and children. The question isn’t what is right or wrong, but what is right for each of you.
It sounds like your husband may be what we call an “Affectionate” Psychological Inclination. Affectionates have a huge need for friendship, connection, variety, travel and being social. They can’t be happy without it. They thrive on connection and socializing. If your husband is like this, you must decide if you can love him as he is, because it is the way he is wired.
The good news is he also loves his family and spouse a lot and values time with them too. So, if you start planning activities, trips or fun adventures with him, he would love that. If you need to get baby sitters more often so you can go out with friends or have more time away, he would also understand that.
Before you approach him to talk about your feelings about his activities, do these three things:
When you are overly selfless and sacrifice yourself all the time, even a little self-care looks selfish. So, be open to the possibility that you are the one who is actually out of balance, not your husband. I could be wrong though (maybe he is a tad too selfish) and if that’s true, you definitely need to speak up and ask him to get more centered.
Just handle the conversation right by not casting him as the bad guy, and own your issues around not asking for what you need. Then, find a solution to this problem together as a “WE,” not against each other as two “I”s. Whenever you are overly focused on protecting yourself, you are focused on the marriage. This is true because fear and love cannot happen at the same time in the same place.
In each interaction with your spouse, you are either putting more fear or more love into the relationship. If you are feeling taken from, mistreated, defensive and resentful and you are seeing your spouse as the bad guy, you aren’t bringing love, you are bringing fear.
So see your husband as the same as you, as a struggling student in the classroom of life trying to figure this whole thing out the best he can. Let him be the same as you in value and talk to him as a peer, equal and partner. As a team you can figure out how both of you can have a healthier balance between selfish and selfless. If you approach it this way, you both win.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, coaches Kim and Nicole share four ways to shift your relationship out of its current rut.
Our relationship has gotten sticky lately because I feel really unsupported by my husband. How do I feel loving, trusting and forgiving towards him, when it isn’t reciprocated? I have recently realized my actions and love are dependent upon his. When he is engaged in the home and helps me, then I will love back. But most of the time he doesn’t help at all, and I feel so drained, like we are unequally yoked, and I have been for so many years. He doesn’t even do the traditional "husband" jobs. How do I love and serve him when he doesn’t show love for me in the way I need him to? I’ve tried and I can’t get past the irritation over his behavior. Am I supposed to forgive this and love him anyway? Shouldn’t he need to change and start showing up for me too?
The answer is YES. Your spouse should do better to pitch in and help around your house, and YOU should love him regardless of whether he does, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay married to him. Loving him from afar is one of your many options in this situation.
Before you choose from those options, though, listen carefully to your inner GPS (intuition) and figure out if it is your perfect classroom to stick with him and love him while you also try to teach him to behave better, or if it’s your perfect classroom to continue on alone. Only you will know which path is your perfect classroom, but if you feel your perfect classroom is still in this marriage, and you still feel drawn to make it work, there are a few things you can do to get this marriage unstuck from its current rut.
This advice will also be helpful for everyone in a relationship right now. Whether you just met and are enjoying that playful "honeymoon" phase or you have a well-established life together and many years under your belt, all good relationships take the same core principles to work.
Here are four ways you can consciously unstick and strengthen any relationship:
1. See your relationship accurately: Remember, you are on this planet for one reason, to grow and learn. Life is a school, and every experience you have is, at some level, there to teach you how to love yourself or other people better. Your marriage is no exception to this rule. You are always drawn to and marry your greatest teacher. You were drawn to this person because they can help you grow by pushing your buttons, triggering your fears and giving you amazing opportunities to work on yourself.
It sounds like your fear trigger is around “the fear of loss,” and your spouse’s disinterest in helping you is triggering this fear and making you feel taken from, mistreated and unloved. Fear of loss can bring unloving and selfish behavior to the surface. Whenever you feel taken from or mistreated, you will want to pull back your love.
Instead, there is a growth opportunity here where you could see the mistreatment as your perfect lesson, and instead of pulling back and being less loving, you could rise to the occasion, turn this moment into a human achievement, and choose to be loving, kind and hardworking without a chip on your shoulder about it.
You could look for opportunities to encourage your spouse and appreciate his good qualities, even if they aren’t the ones you hoped for, and see them as your perfect classroom. This isn’t easy to do, but there is beautiful growth and maturity that could come from this challenge.
Ask yourself what else being married to your spouse could teach you. How else could it force you to grow? How could a spouse who doesn’t help out actually serve you in some way? When you find the answers to these questions, you will be seeing your marriage accurately, and amazing peace will come.
2. Avoid disappointment in your partner: One of the gifts of a loving relationship is the role of support, encouragement and motivation to make each of you better people. However, this support can be loaded with expectations of how things should be and where you feel your spouse should be in their work life, financially, spiritually and emotionally.
All of us wrongfully project potential onto our partners. We see what is possible and we are often disappointed with what is. Disappointment is the biggest poison in a marriage, because it brings even more fear of failure and loss into the relationship, which sucks the love from it.
The irony is that when we see partners accurately for who they are, without projections or expectations about their potential, they are more likely to fulfill their potential and become more to your liking, but this takes unconditional love and patience.
We believe the more encouraging you can be about your partner's strengths, talents and good qualities, instead of nagging about weaknesses, faults and mistakes, the more you will quiet your partner's fear of failure (which we believe is the real cause of all bad, unmotivated, selfish behavior), and he will be able to show up for you better. Keep giving as much positive reinforcement as possible, and even tell him he is the very things you want him to be. This often nudges people in the direction we want, because they like to live up to your highest opinion of them.
3. Choose to serve your partner: One of the kindest ways you can show up for your partner is to ask yourself, “What does my partner need most?” To serve him, you must see him accurately. You must take notice and really look at what he values and what he fears. What stresses, pain, imbalances and pressures are happening there? How is he balancing all of his responsibilities, and is he having his needs met?
Look without judgment or criticism, with only a compassionate and loving heart, and ask, “How can I serve my partner and love him in a deeper and more impactful way?” We believe that becoming the cure to a partner's core fear (either failure or loss) is the way you can serve your partner best.
If your spouse is doing battle with a big fear of failure (which I would guess he is since he knows he isn’t living up to his potential), he may really need validation of his intrinsic worth and to hear that he has value. You may find giving him some validation quiets his fear and shame and even motivates him. If he is just not a motivated person, look for other qualities about him you can validate and appreciate.
4. Take care of your own needs: You are the one responsible for your own happiness. Figure out who you are and what you need to fill up your bucket so you can handle giving to your spouse and family. What do you need so you have the energy and capacity to keep caring for others?
We work with many couples who have found themselves lost in this misalignment, disconnected from their own needs and showing up only for their families and harboring a great deal of resentment about it.
You must own the responsibly for your own self-esteem and happiness. So, what do you need in your life to feel fulfilled, happy, confident and joyful? What do you need to give yourself permission to do so your bucket is full and you have something to give? What are you doing to strengthen your own understanding of who you are and what you are here for?
It may be time (or long overdue) for you to engage in some personal development or coaching and find your balance and truth, which in turn could greatly strengthen your marriage. You may want to start with our DIY coaching program workbook or hire a coach.
It sounds like you and your spouse are very different from each other. You value tasks and getting things done, and he might not share these values. He might value other things that aren’t worse, just different than yours. Most of us believe the way we are is the right way — but that’s a matter of perspective, it's not fact.
Your spouse has different fears and values, and understanding those is the first step to a better connection. You may want to take our free online Clarity Assessment to see your fears and values on paper and see if your spouse would do the same. We also recommend coaching or counseling with a relationship expert. A little help makes a huge difference.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. Nicole Cunningham is a human behavior expert and master coach.
This was first published on KSL.COM
My husband and I have been married for 17 years. We have been happy for most of this time and have raised four children together. I find myself now struggling to connect, and at some level even not wanting to be around him. I look at him differently and cannot connect to the reasons I married him in the first place. I just can’t respect him for the way he is behaving now. Is it possible that some of us fall out of love or change so dramatically that our marriage can’t be salvaged?
It is possible to feel disappointed in your spouse, but it is also possible to salvage the relationship, change how you feel and even grow to love and respect your spouse again.
Understand that the way you are feeling right now is based totally on your perspective (how you are looking at your spouse), and perspective is possible to change, and when you look at something differently, it can feel totally different.
It sounds like you have lost respect for your spouse because of the state he is functioning in right now, and this can be a hard place to come back from. But the first step is figuring out which fears are driving his bad behavior. (By the way, we call any behavior that isn’t loving or positive bad behavior. This includes being mean or being insecure or timid.)
It’s easy to pull back when you experience a spouse’s bad behavior. However, the truth is, all of us have some bad behavior that is not appealing or attractive. You may not have the same bad behaviors your spouse does, but you have others. (We know this because there is always a downside to being married to anyone. We all have bad, immature or insecure moments.)
The key to changing negative behavior (in yourself or others) is understanding the emotions in play that drive the behavior. You must see the behavior as fear-based reactions, not something fundamentally wrong with the person. Your spouse is fundamentally a divine, amazing, human soul capable of fantastic behavior. It is only fear that is bringing out the bad.
All of us experience times when we feel taken from or mistreated, and when you experience fear of loss like this, you might lash out, become defensive or angry or withdraw. You will then subconsciously choose behavior (good or bad) you think will quiet your fear. You may also get defensive or withdraw when you feel insulted or criticized. If you look behind your spouse’s (or your own) bad behavior, you will see one (or both) of these fears in play.
If you understand your spouse is scared, you won’t take their bad behavior as personally. You will also remember they are in a fear state driven by emotion; they are not a bad or broken person (at least most aren’t). We can all get ourselves into a balanced clarity state and behave better too. Everyone has the potential to rise.
So, take another look at your husband and his behavior: What is going on for him lately? Has he experienced any trials, challenges or changes that were not in his control? Maybe he is feeling some loss or having his confidence or position challenged at work. Could this be making him feel insecure? Is his age getting to him; is he losing his hair, struggling with his weight or feeling out of sorts? What are his triggers that bring out his worst behavior? Is he triggered when he feels insulted or criticized (fear of failure) or when he feels taken from or mistreated (fear of loss)? If you can figure out his core fear trigger, you will also know what he needs most to rise out of the bad behavior. He probably needs a great deal of validation or reassurance.
Sadly, it’s easy to judge, be disappointed and pull back, while it takes effort to see them accurately, lean into the relationship and have compassion. We strongly encourage you to try to figure out what your spouse needs to make him feel like he is good enough, safe and on track and see if that brings better behavior to the surface.
When people feel loved, wanted, respected and admired, they usually behave much better. They also become madly in love with you and treat you really well.
The one emotion that could absolutely destroy your relationship is disappointment. If you feel disappointed in your spouse (and your spouse feels your lack of admiration or appreciation for them), it cuts to the deepest part of their fear of failure and it creates more fear of loss in you. In this place of fear, neither of you is capable of loving behavior. Love and fear cannot exist at the same time in the same place.
If your spouse can feel you are disappointed in him (at any level) he will stay in fear and the bad behavior will continue. If you can show him you see the bad behavior as fear (not who he really is) you can inspire him to rise.
When one or both parties feels disrespected or disappointed, there is always a deep disconnect in the relationship. If this is allowed to go on for years, the resentment and dislike can create a huge wedge between you that gets harder and harder to heal. We work with couples to remove these emotional blocks and forgive each other, so they can repair and prevent disconnection, disappointment and disrespect.
To prevent disappointment from occurring in the first place or to repair it, here are a few tips:
This will require both of you to connect on an equal playing field though, where you both have the same value and you are both worthy of your feelings, thoughts, ideas and experiences. You are both exactly where you are meant to be (to teach you something). It will require you to lean in and love your spouse through this fear stage and help him to see himself as good enough, safe, on track and even admirable.
You hold a lot of the power right now, as you are the one who is disappointed and therefore the only one who can change it. (We know that is counterintuitive because you could see the problem in his control). But the answer to this problem lies more in your changing the way you see him than in him changing his behavior (partly because you have no control over that).
Focus on what you have control over and choose to see the highest, best potential in him (instead of the faults). If you can help him to see himself as awesome, kind, patient, hardworking (or whatever qualities you want to see more of) you can inspire him to change himself. This works because people always want to live up to your highest opinion of them. Encouragement always works better than disappointment or disapproval.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSL.com
I grew up in a very religious household and I think it’s created a problem with shame and therefore desire for sex. I simply could care less about it now, which obviously doesn't work in my marriage, so I have a very frustrated husband. I honestly wish I could get into it and make my husband happy, but I’d much rather relax, read or watch TV. Do you have any advice? How does one change that?
You are not alone on this one. Unfortunately, when it comes to intimacy, many people are not having the experience they wanted or thought they would have. For many intimacy has become a source of stress, shame, disappointment, performance anxiety, discomfort or conflict, and with this much fear-based energy around it, who would want more? Many women also find shame around sexuality has also dampened their enthusiasm.
Whether you are in a new relationship or have been married for a long time, these issues (coming from either your mindset or your physiology) can ruin the connection and enjoyment. If you suspect your problem might be physiological make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your hormones, menopause, medication you are taking, or other factors that affect libido, also talk to a doctor if you experience discomfort.
If your issues are more about mindset, subconscious shame or that sex has become a source of stress, disappointment, anxiety or conflict in your marriage – there are many things you can do to change this. Here are four ideas to start changing your mindset:
1. Change Your Shame Mindset around Sexuality:
The world we live in offers plenty of opportunities to feel shame around intimacy. Many grew up hearing sexuality was bad and dirty, so the whole thing has a negative energy around it. The battle with pornography and sex trafficking in our world today, has brought increased shame for some men around even having sexual desire. Some tell us they feel their natural desire for intimacy casts them as perverted or bad. They mistakenly carry shame around any desire, even a pure and loving desire for more enjoyable or interesting intimacy with their spouses, even though they are wired exactly as they are supposed to be. We are all, of course, accountable for our choices and where we go to fulfill those desires, but our natural desire for intimate contact and connection is nothing to be ashamed of.
Many women were taught as girls to suppress their sexuality completely and see it as dirty and bad, because good girls don’t do that. Then, they get married and are immediately expected to find it, turn it back on, and be comfortable with it. This is unrealistic. Subconscious programming around intimacy can be changed but it can take work and commitment to do it. There is a Subconscious Intimacy Exercise on my website that could get you started on changing some of these shame mindsets.
Some people also experienced sexual abuse as a child (1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys have) and these experiences can skew subconscious mindsets and feelings around sex. Many need professional help and must do some serious work around sexuality to feel differently. Don't be ashamed to seek out help, it is never too late to process past experiences and heal them.
2. Get rid of Stress, Fear and Performance Anxiety:
Shame around sexuality can also bring fear of failure into the mix. You may have fear of failure around your appearance or gaining weight as you age. You could have fear of failure around performance anxiety or not meeting expectations. This can lead to embarrassment, frustration and disconnection. All of these can create a place where sex is more about fear than love.
Both of you must learn to hold space for each other without any expectations or disappointments. Let each partner's experience be whatever it is and perfect for today. Intimacy should just be about enjoying each other, connecting and relaxing. It is a classroom on love and connection not a test of performance.
Men you do not have to be Antonio Banderas, and know every move in the bedroom to make your wife feel amazing and relaxed. Women don’t have to be a Victoria’s Secret super model to make their husbands feel loved and wanted. All you need is to show up with a willingness to give and receive love and touch.
Women, also remember what men really want is to be wanted by the woman they love. They don’t care how perfect your body is, they only care about how much you want them and love being with them. When you can get out of your own self-esteem fears and focus on giving love and attention, you will enjoy the experience more.
Then, also let your spouse give to you and show his love for you exactly as you are. Receiving love is often more difficult, than giving love. Your conscious and subconscious fears of not being good enough may say you don’t deserve it. This can block you from receiving and create a wall of resistance that makes it hard to enjoy intimacy. If this is an issue with you, again, please download the Subconscious Intimacy Exercise and practice getting in a receiving mindset.
It would help if you will practice receiving in other areas of your life too. Allow your husband to spend money on you without feeling guilty. Allow your neighbor to watch your kids so you get a break (without feeling guilty). Small exercises like this shift your mindset to one where you deserve to have your needs met.
3. Eliminate Disappointment by Dropping Expectations:
The biggest poison in a marriage, around intimacy, is disappointment. The minute you feel either disappointed in your spouse or (even worse) a disappointment to your spouse – fears of loss and failure take over and drive the love out of the experience. Love cannot happen where there is fear.
To fix this you must drop your expectations and let whatever happens be perfect. Many of us have false expectations because of TV, movies or pornography, but intimacy in the real world never happens like it does on the silver screen.
It is usually somewhat awkward, clumsy, messy and even funny at times. Let go of any expectations around what it should look like and just focus on the joy of touch. Make sure your spouse feels successful every time and tell them often how wonderful they are, no matter what happens, because you had no expectation beyond being together, holding each other and showing up with love.
(If there has been disappointment, guilt, shame and failure in the past, you may need to apologize to your spouse for that. Promise to drop all your expectations moving forward and expect nothing but connection and gratitude for each other.)
4. Eliminate Conflict by Making the Less Interested Person in Charge of Initiating:
Make sure intimacy does not become transactional or more about one person’s needs than the other’s. It should not be about getting what you want, it should be about giving to them with no strings attached.
If you are in a negative cycle of the same person always asking or wanting sex, and the other rejecting and not interested, switch it up. Make the less interested person in charge of initiating intimacy on frequent basis. This means initiating intimacy often and making the more interested partner feels wanted, while the more interested partner should be in charge of making the other feel adored, loved, admired whether they initiate today or not.
There cannot be a transaction here. You don’t do the dishes, so she will initiate later. Instead you just serve and give, asking nothing in return, and trust your spouse to show love and want to be with you. This allows you both to create an authentic love experience where positive energy is created around intimacy.
(If you try this and it doesn't work and the less interested partner doesn't intiate, which means there is no intimacy, there are other issues in play and you may need to get some professional counseling or coaching to deal with other issues.)
Because you said you are the less interested spouse, make sure you are seeing intimacy as a chance to relax and feel wonderful with your spouse, not a chore you must do.
Imagine the way you might look forward to a great massage and transfer those same feelings to how you feel about being intimate. If you had the chance to get a massage every night before bed, wouldn’t you what that? Tell your spouse what you need to make intimacy that kind of relaxing, amazing experience for you.
If this part of your relationship is still complicated with fear, lack, scarcity, and negative energy, consider getting some professional help. We offer regular Marriage Mastery Retreats or Couples Coaching to work on the dynamics of fear of failure and loss in your relationship. This is much different than marriage counseling and is very effective for some people.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.com
The question you wrote about last week might as well be about the two of us. My husband and I both come from dysfunctional families and didn’t learn how to do relationships the right way. We seem to constantly disappoint and frustrate each other, and we are fighting way too often. He is never happy with our intimacy, and I never feel my needs are important, and sex is one more chore. How can we learn to have a healthy relationship if we’ve never seen one?
Unfortunately, most of us grew up watching parents who didn’t know how to do relationships right, and they couldn’t teach us what they didn’t know. So most of us need some tools and skills to improve our marriages. The good news is, it is never too late to start educating yourself and doing things differently.
Almost all the people we work with say the same thing about their marriage. They don’t feel their needs are getting met. They usually feel unloved, unappreciated and unwanted. The interesting part is both partners, in the same marriage, say the same thing. They both feel unloved, yet they can’t seem to find a way to give love to each other.
We believe the problem is twofold: 1) Your fears make you incapable of giving real love to your spouse because they keep you focused on what you need, and 2) Your subconscious projections are in the way of you seeing what your spouse needs. Projections are the way you see the world through the lens of what your past experiences have taught you. This is not wrong, but these perspectives are not necessarily accurate or effective, either. They also mean you might have a tendency to love your spouse the way you want to be loved or were taught to love, not as your spouse needs or wants to be loved. You also may not know what you need to feel loved, or how to ask for what you need.
Your first job is to have awareness about these issues, figure out your core fears and values (and what makes you feel loved and safe) and accept the challenge to continually work on them, which is your main responsibility in creating a healthy relationship.
Here is a checklist for men and women with general guidelines of how to love your spouse the way they want or need to be loved:
Join us for a Marriage Master Retreat in April.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
My husband started to have a friendship with a woman, and last week he went out to see her. He promised me I didn’t have anything to worry about, but after knowing someone for so long, I could tell he wasn’t telling me the truth. He looked me in the eyes and promised me nothing happened. He even got mad at me for questioning him. The next day I pressured him a little more, and he tells me he made out with this woman in her car. I read your article, and you said “staying mad doesn’t protect you from further mistreatment.” But how does it not? How am I supposed to be able to trust him again if I am not with him, and he goes out on his own? How can I make myself trust someone that so easily looked into my eyes and lied and, not only that, promised me, and got mad at me for even questioning it? I don’t want to leave this marriage; that doesn’t feel right, but I don’t want to distrust him either. Help!
You are probably going to get comments on this article that say you should leave him, and that might be the right answer here, but remember you are the only one entitled to know what is right for you. For now, it sounds like your gut is saying you should stay though and work on the marriage, so this advice is directed to someone who wants to rekindle the flame and make their marriage work.
If you want to repair your marriage, staying mad and distrustful is not going to give you the security and peace you want. Not trusting him is also not going to create a great marriage that makes you feel loved and wanted either. In my article two weeks ago about getting more of your spouse’s attention, I urged you to figure out what outcome you really want.
If you don’t take the time to figure out what you want, in any situation, you might accidentally behave in a way that creates the opposite of what you want. Once you know what you want, you can choose behavior most likely to create that.
You probably want, more than anything, to feel secure about your spouse’s love and loyalty toward you. The question is, what behavior is most likely to create that? (There is a Clarity Questions worksheet on my website that could help you figure this out.)
Let’s look first at what won’t create love and loyalty: Suspicion, checking his phone and social media accounts, asking incessant questions about where he is and what he does, and being withdrawn, angry or bitter. No fear-based response is going to create love.
Did you get that?
No fear-based response, born of protecting oneself, is going to create more love in a relationship.
Fear-based behavior is always going to damage connections and put a larger wedge between you. The more you second-guess him and check up on him, the more he is going to pull away. If you want him to draw closer to you, you must encourage him to want to do so by being positive and loving. If you want to create more love in your marriage, you must put more love into it. You must be validating, reassuring, admiring, appreciating and giving toward your spouse.
This is not easy to do, though, when you feel hurt and betrayed, but you must try because it’s a universal law — you get what you give. If you give resentment and fear, you will get the same back. If you give distrust, you create a relationship where no one feels safe. But if you were to focus all your energy on making your spouse feel loved, you are more likely to get that back. If you focus every day on appreciating, validating and reassuring your spouse, you will feel more appreciated and safe. (If this doesn't work, then your spouse isn't really in it and commited — and this will become clear pretty fast.)
Of course, this doesn’t mean you put up with infidelity and look the other way, either. You should let him know if it happens, again, you will leave the relationship because you deserve to be treated better.
Let him know you are going to make the choice to forgive him this time, though, and pour positive love into the relationship because you want to heal it. If he is willing to recommit and get professional help, you are willing to stay. This must be a firm boundary, and you must be ready to walk if it happens again. He must know you are serious. If he thinks you won’t leave, he will not be as motivated to change. We teach people how to treat us by the behavior we allow. Let him know you love yourself too much to allow that kind of behavior, again.
Here are some things you can do to create more love and security in your marriage:
1) Work on your self-esteem. You are responsible for how YOU feel about YOU. Do not make your spouse responsible for your self-worth and expect that person to keep your bucket full. Get professional help, if necessary, to know your value, and don’t let anyone diminish it. Your spouse will feel this confidence in you and will see you as valuable, too. If you know you’re a catch, your spouse will see you as one.
2) Figure out your spouse’s love language, and love that way. Make sure your spouse feels appreciated, admired, respected and wanted daily. What does your spouse value and care about? If it's a clean house, help with that. If it's physical touch or quality time, make sure you give that. If you are not willing to invest at this level in the relationship, you aren’t really in it.
3) Instead of checking your spouse's phone or social media for inappropriate texts or websites, fill the phone with love notes, playful flirting and fun from you. Be the one that blows up the phone with validating emails, texts and “I want you” messages. The best way to ensure your spouse doesn’t stray is to be so much fun that the desire to stray isn't there. If you have trouble showing this kind of love, own that, and do some work to learn how. You aren't responsible for your spouse's choice to cheat, but pouring effort into the relationship makes cheating less likely.
4) Have fun together. Plan fun dates, travel, find hobbies to do together and create exciting moments as a couple. Be the one your spouse is making out with in the car. Make it fun and exciting to be married to you, and you will have nothing to fear.
5) Get professional help. Don’t wait until your marriage is on the brink of divorce to work on it. Constantly invest in classes, retreats and counseling or coaching to improve your relationship and keep it healthy. We have a Marriage Mastery Retreat coming up that will provide this kind of relationship "upskilling." You will leave with a guidebook about creating a thriving relationship with your unique personalities and dynamics. We will show you exactly how to fix the underlying problem.
Listen to your heart on whether this relationship can and should be saved. If your gut says your spouse is going to do it, again, or if he refuses to get professional marriage help, you may consider being strong enough to leave. If your gut says the marriage can and should be saved, commit to a love-motivated course, and make him so happy he wouldn’t want to lose you.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and a speaker and author. Access all of her past article on marriage through her new app Get Clarity on your app store.
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These articles were originally published on KSL.COM
Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and is a
popular life coach, author and speaker. She was named
one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly
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