This is an article I wrote that KSL refused to publish - it is an answer to the question I have submitted by KSL readers more than any other. I get a few letters a week from people who are frustrated their spouse isn't more into sex - So, I felt it was important to get it out there anyway.
Is a lack of intimacy hurting your marriage?
My spouse is having issues with me, because I don’t want to have sex. I’m not interested in sex anymore, but I really think the reason is the negative energy around the whole thing that he created early in our marriage. He has made me feel so pressured and guilty around it, that I have lost all interest. We love each other. We don’t want to separate, but I really don’t want to have sex with him. I force myself to do it every couple months, but then it’s “hurry up and get it done”. I don’t know how to get passed this.
The answer is yes, lack of intimacy is probably having a negative effect on your marriage, but the reason you have a lack of interest could be complicated. There are so many psychological and physiological reasons a person might have low libido, we cannot possibly address them all in this article, so, we are only going to address the one you have asked about and the most simple, a spouse who has just lost interest or decided they don’t want intimacy any more.
We see a damaging dynamic in a lot of our coaching client’s relationships, where one spouse is always asking for more intimacy, and pressure to give it has made the other one (with less interest) feel obligated into it. This obligation energy around it, makes the less interested spouse, even less interested, because it feels like intimacy is only about or for the other one. The more interested partner then experiences a lot of rejection, which hurts, and makes them even more needy for validation to feel lovable and wanted, which means they want intimacy even more. If this cycle plays out for months or years, it leaves everyone feeling taken from, unloved and mistreated.
We call this a “fear trigger cycle” and if you want to have a healthy marriage, you must learn how to change this into a “love trigger cycle”. We are going to explain how to do that, but first, you must understand why intimacy is important in a marriage relationship.
Intimacy is the one thing that makes the marriage relationship different from your other relationships. Without intimacy, you are really just friends with your spouse, and if you are only interested in being friends, you should probably get divorced, and let your spouse find someone who wants to be married. Intimacy is the foundation of the special connection and bond between two married partners. It creates a special kind of connection because of the vulnerability involved. If you really do love this person and want them to stay married to you, you probably are going to need to change this and get more interested in being intimate. But, your spouse may also need to make some changes to.
Putting pressure, shame or guilt, or in any way manipulating another person to get them to be intimate with you is wrong. If you are married to a person that tries to psychologically or physically force you into intimacy you don’t want, that is not okay and you might also consider getting out. What you want is two partners that want intimacy with each other, because they both love the other person and want to feel connected to them.
If this is not the dynamic in your relationship, we strongly encourage you to get some professional help. A professional could make changing the dynamic in your marriage easier and faster, or they will help you get some clarity and decide if you need to get out. (You also want to consult a doctor if you have low libido, because there are lots of medications, psychological or physiological causes you want to rule out.)
We also have an amazing worksheet on our website that would really help - print two copies of the Understanding your Marriage Worksheet and you and your spouse both fill one out. This will help you identify the fear triggers in each of you.
We also recommend that you try the following to change your fear-trigger cycle into a love trigger cycle:
1. Learn about the core fears (failure and loss) in play in yourself and your partner:
If your spouse fears failure (that he/she isn’t good enough), which is highly likely because most of us do, this will show up as getting offended or feeling insulted easily, having a hard time with feedback, clinginess or neediness, a need for attention, touch and intimacy to validate their worth.
If your spouse fears loss they might be controlling or pushy at times and easily feel mistreated or taken from. They are often be in a lack state and focused on what they don’t have.
The truth is, we all have both fears in play to some degree and you could have both equally too. See if you can tell which are in play with you and your spouse?
2. Understand what you each do, which triggers fear in your spouse:
Maybe he feels taken from or loss around not getting a strong marriage with great intimacy. When he tries to solve this by asking for what he wants, he triggers fear of failure in her, because she then feels broken or inadequate, because she doesn’t fulfil his needs. This fear experience around intimacy might make her withdraw from it even more, because we subconsciously pull away from fear inducing situations. Her further withdrawal may trigger even more fear of loss in him, making him even more unhappy and in need of touch and validation, but when he continues to ask for that, it triggers more failure in her, and around and around they go. We find a cycle like this in play in most relationships. See if you can identify yours.
3. Become the cure to your spouse’s core fear:
You will do this because you love this human being and want them to be happy and feel loved, wanted and good enough. (If you don’t care about whether your spouse feels loved and wanted, then you don’t really love them.) If your spouse fears loss, you can be the cure to that, by giving them reassurance and attention, which makes them feel safe. Show them they are admired, respected, appreciated and wanted daily and this will quiet the fear and make them less needy (this means initiating intimacy). If they fear failure, they need lots of validation about how wonderful, loving and giving they are. They need to feel and hear they are adored, appreciated, respected and wanted daily too.
If you are the more interested spouse, you must spend as much energy on giving validation and reassurance to your spouse, as you have worrying about what you aren’t getting. If you are less interested spouse, you must flip the fear cycle in your relationship by giving physical attention as a gift freely given from love. We encourage you to be the initiator of intimacy from this point on. Then, you won’t feel obligated, taken from or pressured in to intimacy, you will be choosing to give it. This will also mean your spouse doesn’t experience rejection any more, which removes a lot of fear from the relationship.
We would encourage the more interested spouse, to not ask for intimacy for a while and allow your partner the chance to offer and give it from love. Do this from a place of trust, without any feelings of lack or deprivation. Choose to trust you have everything you need and then generously give, validate and serve your spouse, without any strings attached, as a gift freely given too. This often turns the fear cycle around quick.
Because of the complicated physical and psychological nature of intimacy, we encourage (you both) to see a doctor and engage in some professional help for this issue, along with working on the fear issues involved.
If you think you might have subconscious issues around sexuality because of trauma or learning a shame mindset around sex early on - you may also want to get out Subconscious Sexuality Reprogramming Exercise - it helps change your subconscious feelings about sex from negative to positive.
You can do this.
Nicole Cunningham and Kim Giles are human behavior experts and master coaches who specialize in family and employee dynamics and have many tools to help you change your relationships. They are also the hosts of Relationship Radio on Voice America - Check it out!
This was first published on FamilyShare.com
As a master life coach for the past 16 years, I’ve discovered some ground-breaking people science that could drastically improve your marriage, but he following tips could also be used to help you become an amazing parent, friend or co-worker too.
When you understand another person on this level and work on these things, you can create a healthy relationship with almost anyone.
1. Know what your spouse values most
A large portion of human behavior is driven by what we value most. We believe there are four value categories to choose from. See if you can tell which one is true for your wife.
Some of us value people most. These people thrive with connection and hate to be alone. They need connection and communication and are almost always seeking companionship. They treasure and nurture relationships all the time.
Some of us value tasks most. These people wake early in the morning with a to-do list in hand. They are driven to get things done and can be workaholics. They feel a sense of value in the world from what they accomplish.
Some of us value things most. These are the artists, inventors and tycoons. They can be the beautiful models or successful businessmen, and they love beautiful, rich, amazing things.
Some of us value ideas most. These people have strong opinions, great knowledge and passion about principles. They can talk a lot about their ideas and get offended if you don’t agree or do things their way.
2. Validate your spouse on those things
Everyone needs validation that they are appreciate, admired, respected and wanted. But the best validation you can give your spouse is validation around what they value most.
If they value people most, validate and praise their ability to connect with others and build great relationships. Notice how kind, compassionate, intuitive and friendly they are. Never make them feel inadequate because they don’t like to be alone — it’s just a beautiful part of who they are.
If they value tasks most, validate and praise their accomplishments, their know-how, their hard work and brilliance. Never make them feel inferior because they can’t relax and are always thinking about tasks.
If they value things most, validate and praise their appearance, leadership skills, or inventions and brilliance. Notice what they spend time doing, building or creating and acknowledge the talent it takes to create it. Never make them feel inadequate because they are so focused on the things of the world.
If they value ideas most, validate their right to think the way they do. Acknowledge the time it takes to learn about what interests them, and praise their desire to do everything right. If you disagree with them, acknowledge their right to their opinions and still praise their commitment to their values.
3. Know what your spouse fears most
There are two core fears, and one will always be a bigger trigger.
Does this person fear failure most? Are they deeply insecure about what other people think of them? Do they feel devastated when they get any negative feedback? Do they need a great deal of validation to feel they have any value?
Does this person fear loss most? Do they often feel mistreated, taken from, worried or stressed? Do they notice when things aren’t fair and tend to keep score? Do they get angry or upset when things don’t go the way they want them to?
4. Once you understand your spouse's fear triggers, understand what they need most when they are triggered
If this person fears failure most, they need lots of validation that they have the same exact value as every other human being and no matter what they do, they will always be enough. Remind this person often that their value is not tied to their appearance, performance, property or the opinions of other people. If you need to give some feedback, start with a lot of appreciation and validation first and then ask if they would do this one thing different moving forward.
If this person fears loss most, they need lots of reassurance that things will be OK and that no one is trying to do them wrong. Remind them you are always on their side and it’s you two against problems, not you two against each other. Remind them there is order in the universe and when things go wrong, they are still here to teach us something or benefit us in some way.
When you can pull them out of their fear reactions, they will feel more safe in the world, and they will behave much better towards you.
5. Work on your own fear triggers
Make sure you understand which of the two core fears is your bigger trigger. Your main job on this planet is to improve yourself and grow (not fix the other person). If you spent all your time working on not reacting to fear yourself and showing up in trust and love, all your relationships would be amazing.
Be constantly responsible for your own fear-driven behavior, low self-esteem and overblown reactions. Work on being more emotionally mature and respond to issues that trigger you with patience, wisdom and love. If you need some additional tools and skills to get here, seek out a coach or counselor to help you.
6. See the relationship accurately
If the main objective for our being on this planet is to grow and learn, then this relationship is your classroom and this person is your perfect teacher. They often teach you by pushing your buttons though, so you can see your weaknesses and fear reactions and work on them. Every day this person is probably giving you opportunities to practice, rise and become the person you are really meant to be.
When you see your relationship every day as YOUR classroom, you will stay focused on your own self-improvement, which is exactly where you need to be.
Understanding human behavior at this level will help you to be an amazing spouse and an amazing, wise and balanced human being.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of 12 Shapes Inc a company specializing in improving human behavior and relationships. Visit www.12shapes.com to take the 12 Shapes Relationship Survey and start improving your relationships today.
I love my spouse, but there is a lot of fighting in our marriage. My spouse gets offended really easy and finds fault in me often, which leads to a lot of conflict and some pretty mean, immature and even rude behavior. The thing is, there are other times when my spouse is really wonderful. We have been like this for so long, to some degree, I’m starting to think it’s normal, though I have friends who have said the way she treats me isn’t OK. I am starting to think the amount of conflict and the degree of selfishness is more than I should put up with. When is behavior bad enough that I should walk away? What is reasonable fighting behavior and what’s not? Am I an idiot to stick with this?
Some conflict, disagreements and hurt feelings happen in every relationship because we are all going to irritate, disappoint or offend our partner on occasion. The question is, do you and your partner have the skills to resolve these issues in a healthy, rational, productive way? Can you have mature, rational conversations about these disagreements without getting angry or out of control?
If you came from a family with parents who had these skills, you may have them, but for many people that wasn’t the case. If your parents were slightly emotionally immature, angry or demonstrated any unhealthy relationship behavior, you are going to need to take it upon yourself to gain some communication and conflict resolution tools. I wish they taught these kinds of skills in school or at church, but they don’t, so you may have to reach out to a mental health professional, coach, or counselor to learn some.
In this article, I am going to give you three categories of relationship “fighting” behavior, along with some suggestions for dealing with each. You definitely need to know what behavior is unacceptable, what is grounds for leaving, and what would be considered normal.
Here are the three "fighting" behavior categories:
1. Garden-variety bad behavior caused by fear and stress.
To be in this category, the bad behavior can’t show up often, but when it does, it’s based in being stressed, tired, hungry or discouraged, and though it might be annoying, immature, grouchy or even a little inconsiderate, it’s not directly hurtful and would be appropriate to ignore or let go, without needing to bring it up to your partner. No one is perfect and everyone will have a bad day on occasion, snap, lose their temper or say something stupid.
When your partner offends you with this kind of behavior, don’t make a big deal about it. Forgive them and let it go. You will do this because you want your small “mess-ups” and bad days to be forgiven too. If you bring up every little thing your partner does wrong, you will kill the relationship. If your partner starts to live here and it becomes an everyday thing though, it would move into category two.
2. Bad behavior that happens too often, is hurtful, harsh or unkind
This behavior should not be ignored. This category includes intentionally or unintentionally hurting your feelings, yelling, being inconsiderate, hitting or breaking things, being unkind, making jokes at your expense, being unfair or selfish on a regular basis. If these behaviors show up, you should have a mutually validating conversation about it and ask your spouse to treat you differently in the future.
This kind of conversation requires you to not cast your spouse as the bad one and talk down to them. It means recognizing you both have the same value and are both imperfect, but you need to both listen to how the other person feels and what they need and then ask them to do the same for you. At the end of this conversation, you will ask your partner if they would be willing to change some things moving forward or get some help to change them if necessary.
If your partner isn't willing to change these behaviors and refuses professional help, you may find yourself in category three.
3. Bad behavior that should not be tolerated.
If your partner is not changing their inappropriate behavior from category two, or their behavior has escalated to the behavior described below, it is appropriate to insist on professional help or be prepared to end the relationship. No one deserves to stay in a relationship where they are abused or feel unsafe and uncared for.
The following types of behavior are unacceptable:
Here are some relationship rules you might want to institute with your partner to prevent inappropriate fighting behavior.
1. If either of our bad behavior is something the other can let go and forgive (never to think about it or bring it up again), then we should. If you are going to hold onto this offense, let it fester and keep bothering you, building up resentment toward your partner, adding it to the growing laundry list of their faults, then you should bring it up and work through it.
2. Both commit to bringing up any offenses in a mature and loving way. This means you cannot make your spouse the bad guy or prove you are right. These conversations must be about improving your relationship and should include things each person can do to show up better for the other because you love each other. (Read about having validating conversations in my article about getting your spouse to treat you better.) You should never attack your partner nor focus on just their past mistakes. Instead, focus on the different behavior you want to see in the future.
3. Both commit to learning how to have mutually validating conversations where each partner gets a chance to have his say and express his feelings without interruption. Both should feel that the other honors and respects their right to have their opinion, even if they disagree with it. Then together, the couple should create a win-win, compromise solution. They should try to make it the two of you against the problem, not the two of you against each other.
If you cannot find a win-win solution on your own, you could ask a third party to meet with you and help find a compromise. A religious leader, coach or counselor could help with that.
4. Needing some time and space to process and think things through leads to more appropriate “fighting” behavior. Couples must have the right to call a “timeout” and have that request honored. This is not about giving your partner the silent treatment or ignoring them or getting out of a conversation. This is about each of you having the right to call a “timeout” so you can calm down and get clear before finishing the conversation and the other person honoring that. This needs to be agreed on ahead of time, that whenever one of you call it, the other will honor it and walk away for a while.
In your case, remember you are the only one entitled to know whether it’s time to move on, or if your perfect classroom is to stay and keep working on it. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should do. Listen to your heart and inner truth, and it will tell you what's right for you.
In the meantime work on the relationship rules above and see if that helps.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com. She and Nicole Cunningham are master coaches with 30 combined years in personal development and relationship skills. They are human behavior experts.
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.
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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
on local and national TV and Radio.