Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

Epic Move

April 7, 2010

quinet / Flickr

Maureen and I have just completed an epic move. After much talk and searching we have found and moved into shared office space for the first time. Now we all know when the real power struggle happens… after two folks make a commitment! We will keep you posted on this! Joining us will be Marianne Gareau, a Registered Psychologist (also an Imago therapist) and part-time will be Sara Menzel, MA, RCC (in training to be an Imago therapist) and Pam Hirakata, Registered Psychologist (trauma specialist). Our new space is still on the West Broadway corridor but closer to Cambie St. Needless to say I haven’t been able to focus on a blog entry for 2 weeks, but I will be posting on Sunday April 11th.

For now I want to announce that Jill Fein Baker, Imago Therapist and comedian extraordinaire is coming to Vancouver from Chicago to do a public lecture titled “Love in the 21st Century” and a two day “Keeping the Love You Find” workshop for individuals. You may remember from the workshop the four journeys and how, while growing up, we all lose parts of our selves (parts that remain under-developed while other parts are over-developed) and how we all develop our favourite defensive strategies. This is the focus of the two day workshop. It is open to all, single or in relationship. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Friday, April 23rd 7:00 – 9:00pm “Love in the 21st Century”
YWCA 535 Hornby Street
Tickets $20.00
Register at

Saturday – Sunday, April 24-25, “Keeping the Love You Find”
Vancouver School of Theology at UBC
9:00am – 6:30pm
Pre-register at
$325.00 per person

Til next week then…

Dare ya –

I am going to have a hot bath how ‘bout you?

Yours truly tired!

Don’t Play Games at the Games

March 2, 2010

iwona kellie / Flickr

Well by the time you read this the 2010 Olympic Winter Games will have just ended and we will be taking stock of how they impacted us, our city and our little corner of the world.

Regardless of whether you were for or against the Olympics, stayed in Vancouver or left town, felt joyful or disgusted by them, I propose we all sit back and take stock of what games mean to us, and how we play them – often capturing Gold medals of our very own.

Let’s get real, most of us play games. And the games we play we are really good at, maybe even the best in our discipline.

The events include being passive and aggressive, just aggressive, just passive, distant and withdrawn, or just plain difficult to be around.

Why do we do this? It’s not for a medal. Last time I checked the medals were nowhere as breathtaking as the ones Corrine Hunt and Omer Arbel designed for 2010 (if you haven’t checked these out you must, they are the definition of stunning).

Oh no, the medals most of us win come wrapped in a big fat discouraging box of blame and criticism.

But why you might ask? So glad you asked! Here’s what I think…..

I think we are creatures that are dominated by two things: Our feelings, especially hurt feelings, and even more, really hurt feelings. And the other thing is that we always want to be the ONE. You know what I mean, the ONE to be right, adored, supported, the list goes on. Problem is, our partner wants the same thing too!!

Herein lies the problem, both people want to be the ONE. Let the games begin.

It’s the same old story: the silent treatment; pretending everything is ok when it’s not; pretending to listen when clearly there is no listening happening; being polite yet seething with anger. There are lots more events at these games but I’m sure you get the picture.

When I play games the way I know, I’m not being totally honest with myself or my partner and I start having a lot of conversations in my head. When I do this, what I am really doing is making up stories which likely aren’t true. If I’m aiming for a gold medal, I am not going to give away my strategy, which basically means not being honest about what is going on.

adrian 8_8 / Flickr

Is this making any sense? I hope you can relate because it’s very difficult to be in a relationship and not play games. It’s how we protect ourselves from being hurt.

Recently, I learned a unique way that one couple has been turning this around…

I’ve been working with this couple for awhile now. They attended a “Getting the Love You Want” workshop last year and were doing quite well. Alas, after a time, they found themselves replaying their old dynamic. This is often the case for many of us.  They became discouraged and resorted to silence, distance and lots of reactivity. Quite by chance they began emailing each other to communicate their feelings and perspectives. Sometimes it is just too hard for folks to dialogue when the limbic system is highly activated. At these times, more distance and time are needed. Their emails became more frequent and they began understanding, even validating, each other through email. The tensions have settled and they have turned a positive corner.

This has got me thinking.

What a brilliant strategy this couple has found. They are beginning to change the games they’ve been playing for a long time. Taking time to calm the limbic brain, being intentional about what is being said and finding a way to validate your partner is key to any dialogue process. Emailing each other has seemed to lessen their reactions and now dialoging is easier for them. I believe it’s a bridge that helps you arrive at the next place (something Lawrence talks about in the workshop).

There are many different kinds of bridges. At this time, and for this couple, email is one of them. I like it!

Dare ya –

Think about your games. What are you really good at playing in your relationship? Identify it. Admit it at least to yourself and if you can, admit it to your partner. If not, make it a goal for the future. What’s really important is to CHANGE the way you are playing your game. Just do something different and see what happens!


-Keep it positive and be sweet, kind and loving.

-Your partner is not a bad person; he/she is trying to survive just like you.

-What you might see is really covering up deeper held feelings your partner can’t express.

-Mirror. It changes everything.

Gimme a Double Shot

February 23, 2010

Did you know there are two brain chemicals any relationship can’t be without? One is Oxytocin – the cuddle chemical, which is the feeling we get when we are safely held or think about our beloveds. The other is dopamine, the natural high, that we get from a good belly laugh, vigorous exercise or being pleasantly surprised.

Both of these hormones move to shut down the stress hormone cortisol. What does this mean and how does it relate to my relationship? Let’s talk about oxytocin here.

Not only does touch stimulate production of oxytocin, but oxytocin promotes a desire to touch and be touched: it’s a feedback loop that can have wonderful results. Oxytocin makes us feel good about the person who causes the oxytocin to be released, and it causes a bonding between the two people. Nursing a baby produces oxytocin in both mother and child, and this is a major part of what initially bonds the mother and her baby. Even thinking of someone we love can stimulate this hormone; when women in good relationships were asked to think about their partners, the level of oxytocin in their blood rose quickly.

Every time you get a shot of oxytocin, you will feel calmer and more content. You will feel a sense of love and happiness. Love is like oxygen for humans. We are all looking for love and we really crave feeling it as much as possible. This is because finding a secure attachment bond is encoded in our brains when we are infants, and we are wired to search for it in an adult love partner. When we feel safe and loved, our worlds are expansive. When we feel scared and hurt in our relationships our world narrows. We actually feel these sensations in our bodies. We are attachment addicts and we are always looking for a fix. The brain is a powerful thing.

Unconsciously it is as if we are asking the eternal questions:

Are you there for me?

Do I matter to you?

Can I depend on you?

Am I really important to you?

These are questions that those of us in relationships feel but are usually afraid to ask. This is where the oxytocin part comes in.

The more oxytocin we have flowing through our bodies the easier it is to answer yes to all of the above questions. The better we feel. Monogamy and long term love make sense.

You might wonder how you can get a shot of Love Potion #9….

Reach and out and touch your Partner!

Hold hands!

Give a shoulder massage or a foot rub!

Sit close while watching TV!

Orgasm (that’s always a good one)

Look at a photograph of your sweetie.

So, pull out your favorite pic of your lover, just look at it and let the feelings wash over your body…feeling it yet?

Feels good doesn’t it?

Dare ya –

Do one thing this week that non-verbally expresses to your partner that they really matter to you. Tack that special picture up on the wall where you can see it. Now look, really look, and smile back.

Yours really truly,

T & M

Valentines Day…..Again

February 14, 2010

geishaboy500 / Flickr

Well folks here it is again, the day of…well, what is it to you?

This is what people tell me, and I must confess, I have thought all of these myself:

A capitalist plot. A day filled with love and gratitude. A big letdown day highlighted by unfulfilled needs and yearnings. An excuse to receive and eat chocolate.  An important day to deeply share in connection with your partner. A day in which there is some focus on romance and a good dinner out. A day a little more special than most.  The one day a year you are likely to feel really disappointed.  A day to just try to ignore.

All of these can be true depending on where your relationship is at in the present moment. It is a complex day because many people assign such significance to it and are sadly let down. Why?

I think it’s expectations.

C’mon, admit it. Don’t we all just wanna be that special someone to our partner and when our hopes and needs aren’t met just the way we want, we come crashing down, feeling hurt and rejected.


Sister72 / Flickr

Here’s what I propose: DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO GO THERE. Do not, and I repeat DO NOT, have a set of unrealistic expectations you want your partner to meet (especially if you don’t even tell them what they are) and then feel terrible because they haven’t been met. And then do not, and I repeat DO NOT, go off and have a temper tantrum (quiet or loud) because once again you feel let down and just plain crappy about your love life.

Save yourself the heartache and instead try….

  • Focusing on the GIVING. Put your energy into giving something to your partner you know he or she will appreciate. Make it small and meaningful.
  • Do not let any money exchange hands to gift this.
  • Make it an unconditional gift and experience how it feels to do this in a mature way!

Get the picture? If you need some ideas here they are:

  • A massage.
  • A card you have made with a message from you about what you are grateful for about your partner.
  • A note you have made with a sweet poem you have found in a book or on the internet.
  • Sitting them down and telling them 6 things you really appreciate about them.
  • If you have kids, allow your partner to sleep in. Make breakfast for the family.
  • Try a new recipe for dinner and remember the candles on the table.
  • Ask to go for a walk and have fun: do not bring up a complaint!

Send me other ideas and we’ll add them to the list.

Keep it simple and keep it real!

Dare ya –

Work with yourself to stretch and grow-up a little more. Mentally prepare yourself to GIVE unconditionally and notice how this feels. In order to do this it takes real emotional preparation because you will be using your big brain. Your limbic system will not like it one little bit. Be curious and relax. I know you can do it!!!!!

Dynamic Attack!!!!!!

February 1, 2010

How’s it been going since you left the workshop?

Whether you have been dialoguing or not, keep reading…..

Let’s start with a few important reminders:

  1. Your relationship will take time and energy.
  2. Sometimes, and more than we’d like, our limbic brain’s control our behaviours and we react in ways we wished we hadn’t.
  3. Whatever you are going through, no matter where you are at, it is ALL NORMAL.
  4. We all just want to be loved.

Okay so what’s the point?

After our first workshop we left in a much better place than when we came in. Guess what? Sometime later something big or small happened and bam, we were back in an old place again.

But were we?

Yes and No.

Yes  because it is all old stuff, that never really changes. Remember, our dance is our dance. Both of us create it and we do it over and over…

That’s  the bad news.

So what’s the good news?

We really can do it differently, even if it seems the same. We do have some new skills, even if we forget to use them. Do not despair, instead have a dialogue – it will save your relationship.

But why does it keep happening? Same old fight, same old issue, same old same old…..

Talk to your brain, it’s your brain’s fault. That old limbic system keeps hijacking you to respond in old protective ways that keep circling around and getting you stuck in a negative response cycle. By now you know this has a lot to do with you and your growing-up years and less to do with your partner.

Every relationship has its own very unique response cycle. Sometimes this is referred to as a dance. Tamara and Sarah coined their own version of this tem some years ago. They call it “the dynamic attack”

Here’s how it went down….

Imagine this… Shopping at a grocery store…. in the cereal department fighting over what kind to buy…. when Sarah called it. Out of her mouth came the words  ”Dynamic attack, dynamic attack”. Tamara began laughing hysterically because it was completely stupid to be fighting about cereal and we all know it wasn’t about cereal anyway. It was about control and who would be the one; the one to pick, to be listened to and to feel important. Cereal had very little to do with it.

Years later when they start up, about anything, whoever calls it first says, ”dynamic attack”. A little humour can go a long way when the – – – – is hitting the fan!

Dare ya –

Tell your partner our idea of coming up with a code word to “call it” when it’s happening and commit to take a time out if you need to (refer to the Time Out Protocol handout we gave out at the workshop). Then use the word at least 2 times this week. Remember to calm your brain, you can do it!

Yours really truly,


RRR for 2010

January 18, 2010

Happy New Year! Here we are in 2010 just beginning a whole new year full of possibilities. How are your resolutions going? What are they? Have you been to the gym? How’s the work-life balance? Are you being nicer? More patient? Are the numbers on the scale going down? Just checking.

We begin with the best of intentions. We really do. What happens? Life gets in the way. Stress. Work. Kids. We get tense, start to disconnect, get distant, bicker and then move into full blown questioning the big things. If you live in Vancouver, the weather doesn’t help. That’s how it goes for most of us.

We propose we all try to do it differently.

Let’s all commit to RRR. Relationship Repair Remedy. Just say it RRR (those pirates were on to something). Doesn’t that feel good? RRR. It is like a cathartic release. A moment when you can let out your irritation and it reminds you that you are triggered and can choose to come back. RRR.

So what’s next? Giving yourself a moment to say RRR will remind you that it is up to you to give your relationship the repair remedy. The remedy may have to include the biggest two words the English language, “I’m sorry”. C’mon try it, you can do it. It may involve no words, just a smile or a hug. It may involve asking for a dialogue and beginning it with an appreciation of your partner. It may mean you have to sit with the discomfort because your partner needs some space, give it to them and be grown-up about it. This might mean you need to go for a walk. It may mean something else, you decide on the repair.

Let’s face it. We all screw up and we need to do a repair job. Unfortunately because of our old brains we tend to just make it worse. Blame is usually the main culprit followed up by criticism. For 2010 shine the spotlight on yourself and try the RRR factor. You were part of the rupture so try to repair it regardless of who started it. This will change things dramatically, in a good way.

Dare ya –

Think about your unique Relationship Repair Rescue plan. What’s your RRR going to be? Talk to your partner about it and develop a resolution for 2010 that will really make a difference where it counts.

Til next time…

Yours really truly,


Up Up and Away…Our love blog!

January 11, 2010

A blog?

Why you might ask?

It really comes down to just one thing.

We wonder what happens to all of you after you leave the Getting the Love You Want weekend. We want to stay connected, offer support and continue to help you all create the relationship you want.

It may sound cheesy but we really believe in this work and care about what happens to all of you after you leave the workshop.

Where do you go?

How do you do?

Do you incorporate what you’ve learned into your everyday life?

We are pretty sure that you, like all of us, have some great times, with more connection and fun.  Yet, you still have to navigate the landmines of your relationship, especially the let downs. Take it from us, they happen to everyone.  This is why we want to keep sharing common, everyday thoughts and ideas about how you can keep that lovin’ feeling after the workshop.

Ok, true confessions…

We think it will help us too! Let’s face it, we all need to support each other and keep things real. We are all on the journey of relationship. It’s not like we have it all figured out either. We want to do this because we believe it will help all of us.

This is very new for us to do so we see it as a work in progress. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. What do you want us to focus on and include in our blog? Let us know!

Our plan is to blog about once a week. It will be one or both of us. We will write about a topic, experience or idea we hope you will relate to and offer some suggestions or challenges to work on that week with your partner. This section will be called ”dare ya”.

By the way, we have nothing to sell. No money will change hands. All we really want is to stay connected and offer support to all of us in relationship. Stay tuned!

Dare ya –

What is one thing you really do love about who your partner is as a person? Think about it. Now go tell them……

Yours really truly,

T & M