healthy relationships

From Work to Home

Ruth and I have supported many clients struggling with the transition between work life and home life. Increasingly, more couples complain that they are overstressed by their jobs and long work hours; they have little left in the tank upon returning home. Also, they often report that they have difficulty letting go of their experiences of the day. Hence, connection and quality time with their partners and families is substantially diminished. Furthermore, women especially have lamented that their mates disappoint, frustrate, or anger them by relating to them similarly to how they speak or behave at work.

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Here are some suggestions for ways to make the work-to-home transition smoother and more mutually satisfying:

  • Bolster your self-care, e.g. exercise, nutrition, sleep routine, to increase your stamina.

  • Request or arrange some remote work or perhaps flextime.

  • Upon returning from work, allow sufficient downtime to de-stress before connecting with your partner and other family members. Engage in a relaxing or energy-building activity.

  • Be mindful and intentional about leaving work behind and shifting gears.

  • Accept and respect each other’s individual differences.

  • Prioritize time to talk and broaden your conversation topics, especially beyond household management and job discussion. Also focus on active listening.

  • Gently and patiently inform your mate as to how you want them to be with and respond to you. Rather than criticizing or blaming, offer specific requests and encouragement for favorable communication and behavior (which you also model). Men often require some primers regarding sustaining attention and emotional expression.

  • Develop a few mutual interests and activities.

  • Arrange regularly-scheduled dates--at least three monthly, preferably more often.

What else do you already do to spark your relationship? Can you add something brand new for yourselves to this list? I’d love to hear from you at www.info@soulfulcouples.com.

I recommend discussing the above list with your partner and together considering additional ways of enhancing your connection and intimacy during your limited time together.

Toward love in action,

Your Relationship Coach,

Jim Sharon
(303) 796-7004
jim@energyforlife.us

Jim Sharon Headshot.jpg

Jim Sharon, EdD is a licensed psychologist and couples' coach who has over four decades of professional experience serving thousands as a counselor, as a life and relationship coach, and as a seminar and retreat facilitator. Dr. Sharon has authored two books and many professional publications, most recently, Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating and Sustaining a Loving, Sacred Relationship (with Ruth Sharon, MS), published by SkyLight Paths, 2014. Jim and Ruth have been married since 1970, have raised three adult children, and have three young granddaughters.

What Is a Soulful Couple?

The other day in my office, a couple was in distress. She began to yell and attack her husband of 20 years, dumping out bitterness, resentments, and disappointments that had stockpiled inside of her. I had to shout above her voice to ask her to calm down. “Let’s use this opportunity to acknowledge your upset AND see how to rebuild the relationship you want,” I suggested. She was shaking and could not calm down. When they left, her husband looked into my eyes with a pleading for help. I emailed her later and suggested we have an individual appointment to let her vent and clear out some of the upsetting memories and unmet needs. She agreed, fortunately. Sometimes the SH*T has to hit the fan before changes can be made.

Relationships are messy.

Pushing each other’s buttons can cause blowups or avoiding each other (classic Fight-Flight). The challenge is to be aware of the upset, own it as your own (your buttons were there before your partner came along, most likely), then advocate for yourself to meet your needs. Healthy communication and shared desire are essential.

Many people in dysfunctional relationships—where conversations explode or break down so the distance between the couple widens—continue to do harm to each other. Quiet periods are interspersed with attacks of blaming and shaming. This can lead to inner turmoil, sickness, injury, abuse, divorce, legal messes, substance abuse, infidelity, and hostility that ripples out to the greater family and community. Oh, so difficult and painful.

Jim and I guide people who are locked in that state to have at least a functional relationship, where the couple may say, ”we get along ok.” They are able to manage the household and finances, raise the kids. They are often hardworking people who are caught up in their busy daily routines. They often don’t see the possibility to be able to relax, let loose, have fun, and dream big.

We have identified stages of development for couples. So we described above, the dysfunctional, chaotic, destructive types of relationship.

Then we have more functional types of relationships. This involves taking responsibility for one’s feelings, needs, wants, desires. (Have you heard of being emotionally intelligent? Take a quick quiz online—just search for EQ or emotional intelligence.)

Building skills to constructively resolve conflicts and developing attitudes to collaborate with their beloved allows for more soulful, vibrant partnerships. This stage of development describes the more high-functioning couple, with a greater likelihood that they will positively impact their children, families, communities, and the world. They are influencers in positive, proactive and important ways. The ripple effect is potent!

We like to depict this development toward being healthy Soulful Couples with the metaphor of a Mansion of Love. Picture a large sprawling palace with glorious landscaping, filled with all you desire, infused with LOVE.

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Now imagine...

The dysfunctional, reactive, victimized couple lives in the basement, minimally getting by. They need to come out and see the light of day! They can practice skills to deactivate their old patterns and learn new ways of relating. Many we have worked with have moved up to being more functional.

The functional couple lives on the main level of the Mansion, as productive, busy people. They are vacillating between being anxiously in a hurry to get stuff done, or so exhausted, they’re crashed out on the couch for the weekend. The Soulful Couples are expanding their consciousness and awakening to who they truly are, beyond the programming of their past.

They view the Mansion of Love as their birthright. They expand to occupy more rooms of their Being. The Soulful Couples long to actualize their potentials—to really go for Life!

The Soulful Couples carve out time, space, and energy to honor their natural rhythms, with fulfilling work; restorative relaxation; hobbies and interests; romantic, sexual, and sensual engagements; and quality connection with others. They set intentions for goals and visions, and are proactive in building the life of their dreams. Connecting spiritually is essential—they express gratitude, humility, a desire to awaken and use their lives fully. They support each other’s life purposes and being of service to others.

What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.

Where are you in this Mansion of Love?

Chat with your partner or a friend about this, and see how you can move along on your path to being more soulful.

Let us know how we can support you. We can engage with you in person and online for coaching, events, and programs.

And for a lively conversation that’s full of inspiring ideas for helping your relationships thrive, check out our podcast, “Give Your Love Life Some Love,” on www.soulfulcouples.com.

Your Relationship Coach,
Ruth Sharon, M.S.
Coach for Soulful Couples
www.soulfulcouples.com
ruth@soulfulcouples.com

P.S. Have you experienced coaching with us, read one of our books, or attended a workshop we facilitated? We’d love to hear your feedback on our Yelp! page.


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Ruth Sharon is a relationship coach, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). Her passion is facilitating couples to enhance the vitality of their relationship and make healthy lifestyle choices. Ruth shares her wisdom, compassion and humor with individuals, couples, families, and groups. Ruth and her husband, who have been married since 1970, co-authored Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating and Sustaining a Loving, Sacred Relationship, SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2014. They are delighted to offer coaching for couples and singles, in person and virtually, as well as transformative couples’ retreats, seminars and online courses.

Sparking!

Remember the excitement of courting, when you felt flutters in your heart and butterflies in your belly in anticipation of seeing each other—or sometimes merely thinking about each other?....Your romantic feelings may have gradually begun to fade….Eventually you may become resigned, believing that initial feeling of romance could not be rekindled. You may think, “I am just not in love anymore, or certainly not the way I was.”  

Excerpted from Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating & Sustaining a Loving, Sacred Relationship. Jim Sharon, EdD and Ruth Sharon, MS, Skylight Paths Publishing, 2014.

It’s so easy and so very common for the grind of daily routines and tasks to detract from quality, enjoyable connection in your love relationship. This is likely to be particularly true for those of you who have been together for a long time. Often we relegate special moments together to special occasions, such as vacations or passionate lovemaking.

The good news is that many kinds of ordinary gestures and activities can serve to revitalize or refresh your connection. The advent of spring is especially timely and fortuitous for such a mutual rebirth.

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Here are some simple examples of ways to regularly enhance and energize your relating, any of which will increase your intimacy together:

  • Offer sincere, unqualified compliments, best done face-to-face.

  • Write sweet love notes and vary where you place them, e.g. on your partner’s pillow, in a cabinet, or in a dresser drawer.

  • Greet and offer goodbyes to one another with notable presence and perhaps in a spontaneous manner, via words, kisses, hugs, and/or touches.

  • Have an extended conversation about a topic that you rarely, if ever, engage in.

  • Demonstrate genuine curiosity about some aspect of your mate’s past or current life, thoughts, beliefs, feelings, or dreams through questions and deep listening. You may also decide to disclose related items about yourself.

  • Wear some type of stand-out outfit that grabs your mate’s attention, ranging from something cool or funky to beautiful to seductive.

  • Flirt unabashedly with your lover in enticing (not off-putting) ways.

  • Initiate doing and completing a chore or project that is beyond what you usually do.

  • Prepare a special meal or snack for your belovedusually enhanced by creating atmosphere with candlelight and music, or eaten in a different setting, such as the bedroom or outdoors.

  • Surprise your partner with an unexpected gift, activity, or experience. These need not be fancy or expensive.

  • Give your lover a bubble bath (perhaps with wine or champagne) and/or a partial or full-body massage.

  • Suggest something different on an in-home or on-the-town date night.

  • Plan a unique outing or excursion together. Three-day weekends interspersed between longer (or more exotic) vacations can be very meaningful and satisfying!

  • Think outside the box together in a creative problem-solving attempt.

What else do you already do to spark your relationship? Can you add something brand new for yourselves to this list? I’d love to hear from you at www.info@soulfulcouples.com.

Happy Sparking!

Your Relationship Coach,

Jim Sharon
(303) 796-7004
jim@energyforlife.us

Jim Sharon Headshot.jpg

Jim Sharon, EdD is a licensed psychologist and couples' coach who has over four decades of professional experience serving thousands as a counselor, as a life and relationship coach, and as a seminar and retreat facilitator. Dr. Sharon has authored two books and many professional publications, most recently, Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating and Sustaining a Loving, Sacred Relationship (with Ruth Sharon, MS), published by SkyLight Paths, 2014. Jim and Ruth have been married since 1970, have raised three adult children, and have two young granddaughters.

I Really Need Your Love!

In this month dedicated to celebrating love, especially romantic love, I’d like to discuss the influence of much of the music written for lovers and for broken-hearted people.

A preponderance of love songs over the decades have included flagrant codependent messages reflecting obsession, desperation, and excessive reliance on a partner for stability, strength, or validation of one’s self-worth. Some songs speak of giving one’s entire self to the other, supposedly as a noble expression of devotion, while others refer to continually matched emotions--enmeshment. I will offer numerous examples of these romantic songs, many of which have been top hits, and I’ll also provide several examples of songs with healthy relationship motifs. Unfortunately, the latter are less common.

Over a hundred years ago (1913) Al Jolson sang You Made Me Love You that included these lyrics: “You made me love you; I didn’t want to do it...You made me happy sometimes...but there were times you made me feel so bad...You know you’ve got the brand of kisses that I’d die for.”

Tears on My Pillow, The Imperials, 1958: “(I have) pain in my heart caused by you.”

I Will Follow Him, Connie Francis, 1958:  “I must follow him, wherever he may go.”

Can’t Help Falling in Love, Elvis Presley, 1961: “Take my hand, take my whole life, too...for I can’t help falling in love with you.”

Hurt So Bad, Little Anthony and the Imperials, 1964: “Please don’t go, please don’t go...come back it hurts so bad, don’t make it hurt so bad, I’m begging you, please!”

Wives and Lovers, Jack Jones, 1964: “Hey, little girl, comb your hair, fix your make-up, soon he will open the door...Hey, little girl, better wear something pretty...Wives should always be lovers, too; run to his arms the moment he comes home to you.” (Notice the diminutive, little girl, while later in the song, the lyrics read, “Men will always be men.”)

You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, Righteous Brothers, 1965: “Baby, baby, I'd get down on my knees for you, if you would only love me like you used to do...Baby, baby, baby, baby, I beg you please, please, please, please, I need your love, need your love, I need your love, I need your love.”

My World is Empty Without You, The Supremes, 1966: “My world is empty without you, babe...I find it hard for me to carry on...I need your strength, I need your tender touch...I need your love more than before; I can hardly carry on anymore.”

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Can’t Smile Without You, Barry Manilow, 1977: “I can’t smile without you...I feel sad when you’re sad; I feel glad when you’re glad.”

It’s Been Awhile, Staind, 2001: “It’s been awhile since I can say I was not addicted and it’s been awhile since I can say I love myself as well.”

Breakeven, The Script: 2008: “What am I supposed to do when the best part of me was always you and what am I supposed to say when I’m all choked up and you’re OK?...I’m falling to pieces.”

Waiting for Love, Avicii, 2015: “Monday left me broken; Tuesday I was through with hoping;

Wednesday my empty arms were open; Thursday waiting for love, waiting for love; Thank the stars it's Friday; I'm burning like a fire gone wild on Saturday; Guess I won't be coming to church on Sunday. I'll be waiting for love, waiting for love to come around.”

Here are several songs that have messages consistent with healthy relationships:

For All We Know, The Carpenters, 1971:  “Let’s take a lot of time to say, I knew you well, but only time will tell us so, and love may grow, for all we know.”

The Rose, Bette Midler, 1979: a potent, poetic song of encouragement (one of my favorites): “I say love it is a flower and you its only seed...It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance.  It's the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance. It's the one who won't be taken who cannot seem to give...You think that love is only for the lucky and the strong. Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows lies the seed that with the sun's love in the spring becomes the rose.”

I’ll Stand by You, The Pretenders, 1994: promotes honest, vulnerable conversation. The singer professes loyalty and commitment to a man in pain during his darkest hour. “Nothing you confess can make me love you less...I’ll never desert you; I’ll stand by you.”

Love and Some Verses, Sam Beam of Iron and Wine, 2004: a whimsical and compassionate song that depicts a committed deep and meaningful romance.

You Raise Me Up, Josh Groban, 2009: an upbeat song expressing strong gratitude: “You raise me up to more than I can be.”

See You Again, Carrie Underwood, 2013: “I won’t cry cause I know I’ll never be lonely...I’ll see you again...Sometimes I feel my heart is breaking, but I’ll stay strong.”

Unconditionally, Katy Perry, 2013: a beautiful ballad professing to love her partner without fear or reservations and inviting him to, “Let go and just be free.”

I would welcome your comments and additional contributions to these contrasting lists.

Toward positive influences,

Your Relationship Coach,

Jim Sharon
(303) 796-7004
jim@energyforlife.us

Jim Sharon Headshot.jpg

Jim Sharon, EdD is a licensed psychologist and couples' coach who has over four decades of professional experience serving thousands as a counselor, as a life and relationship coach, and as a seminar and retreat facilitator. Dr. Sharon has authored two books and many professional publications, most recently, Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating and Sustaining a Loving, Sacred Relationship (with Ruth Sharon, MS), published by SkyLight Paths, 2014. Jim and Ruth have been married since 1970, have raised three adult children, and have two young granddaughters.