Make Room For The Small Stuff Too!


Each summer, John and Mary fought about running the air conditioner at night. He assumed that if Mary was cold, she would simply put on extra blankets. He felt it unfair if he wasn’t able to sleep in a comfortable environment. Like many people, Mary was embarrassed by her needs, but at her wit’s end, finally gained the courage to tell John, “It’s not the temperature I can’t deal with, it’s the many sounds of the A/C turning on and off all night that is keeping me awake!” Mary is very sensitive to every sound in the house at night.

The reason Mary felt embarrassed was because she thought her request was too eccentric to share and she didn’t want to sound needy or whiny. But once John understood the issue, he quickly put insulation in the A/C closet and closed the bedroom door at night.

Sometimes embracing the small stuff can really bring a couple together. When you’re not willing to be open with each other, your relationship will be far more challenging than it needs to be.

As a partner in a relationship, sometimes you need to just accept what seems like an odd request; you don’t need to understand everything. As the partner with the request, you need to be willing to trust your partner. If he or she loves you, they'll want to help you with your problems and challenges, even if they doesn’t totally understand your condition.

For any relationship to be successful, each person needs to be willing to give the benefit of the doubt as much as possible. If something in your relationship, living situation, or environment is causing stress, don’t assume it’s too small of an issue to bother the other partner about.

Instead, make room for the small stuff too!

Relationships And Bee Stings

Group Of Friends Celebrating Birthday At Home

Group Of Friends Celebrating Birthday At Home

Suzie’s husband planned a long-awaited birthday party for his wife. Surrounded by friends and family, Suzie enjoyed great food and friends, the perfect day. As she was refilling her iced tea, disaster struck. A bee stung Suzie’s foot, and the painful sting caused her foot to swell. Her husband rushed her to a doctor for treatment.

If Suzie focuses on the pain of the bee sting instead of all of the good food and great friends, how will she feel about her birthday party?

This is like any relationship. In any part of life, there are fun times and good experiences mixed together with occasional bad experiences and disappointments.

Dwelling more on the pain and disappointments creates powerful resentment, and we may wish we were not in the relationship. The good news is that you’re in control of what you’re focusing on.

By choosing to focus on the positives, you can make your relationship much more pleasant, leading to even more positives to focus on! You’ll be easier to live with, and your partner will appreciate being with you even more.

Start by trying this for just a few days. When you finish something, look back and notice the positives of the experiences. Don’t pay attention to any of the negatives, but instead focus only on the positives. After a couple days of doing this, see if your attitude towards those around you – especially your partner – has improved.

If you can re-write your stories, focusing only on the good times and the positive qualities of your partner, your relationship is likely to become stronger and happier.

Stop Taking the Bait


When arguments create a “High”

The apparent desire to be angry and provoke an angry response in others can result from someone with concentration issues is having a biological need for stimulation! According to psychiatrist Daniel Amen “Being mad, upset, angry, negative, or even oppositional immediately stimulates the brain’s frontal lobes…These behaviors can produce increasing amounts of adrenaline in the body, stimulating not only heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension but also brain activity.”

The important point from the quote is that an argument can create an adrenaline rush and a resulting buzz or “high” in a person. While that may not make sense to most of us, it can be a common occurrence for someone in a relationship involving concentration issues. A person may initiate an argument just to get an adrenalin rush. Here’s a quote that describes how the person on the receiving end of the argument feels: “my husband gets his adrenaline kick but I just plain feel kicked.”

Dr. Robert Wilford and Dr. Sarah Ferman have many experiences with this type of activity. Shared below are a few examples of the situations that result when a person desires this adrenalin rush. Being aware of the situations that cause these types of arguments, and the forces that are driving them, will hopefully prevent you from “taking the bait” and learn how to incorporate solutions that result in a more peaceful life with your partner.

It’s Kimberly’s Fault!

For Kimberly the hardest thing to understand about her husband was his apparent desire to be angry. He wanted to be angry and he would always find a way to make his anger her fault. He would provoke her incessantly and when she finally lost her temper he would accuse her of having an anger-management problem. The baffling part of the relationship was that no matter how accommodating she was, how hard she tried to avoid doing things that would make him angry, if he wanted to be angry, he would always find a reason. Kimberly would end up feeling ashamed yet defensive because “Most people have no idea how determined someone can be at provoking others.”

For Lucy it was “Let’s have a problem”

Lucy operates a business with her husband. She sums up her situation in this way: “Every morning, it’s as if he can’t start work until he puts his mark on my day the same way a dog marks his territory.” Lucy’s husband would actually get energized by obsessing about imaginary business problems until Lucy’s energy would get ground down to nothing. It took years for Lucy to realize that her husband desired the negative focus and the resulting energy buzz. Unfortunately, by the time she understood what was really taking place, her husband had sabotaged their best business opportunities and now they struggle to hold on.

Shelby’s Mr. No!

Shelby says her ex-husband frequently went into an automatic “No!” mode just to be contrary. “I could ask nicely or blow my stack and it made no difference. The whole point was that he refused to do anything I asked no matter how I asked. Take out the trash; come to dinner, or even the important things. I called him Mr. No.” Being disagreeable and constantly refusing your partners requests is also a tool to increase adrenaline in the brain. For their partner it results in constant yet subtle stress.

Proving that Madeleine’s wrong!

Madeleine described her situation with this example: “If I just casually mentioned it’s hot outside, my husband would insist its not hot outside!” What made matters even worse was the fact that he would then spend hours attempting to prove her wrong. Even the safest of topics would unleash a verbal storm. A friend once commented that Madeleine’s husband would argue with a brick wall. “Thank God that the behavior went away when he started legitimate therapy!” Madeleine’s story ends on a happy note. She recently noted “He even has actual conversations now; you know, the back-and-forth kind, instead of delivering monologues.”

Randi’s request for help caused arguments!

Randi was simply asking her boyfriend for more help around the house. His response was way out of proportion to the request. “You just think I don’t do anything, but I do things that you don’t even notice.” When Randi asked him for specifics, he said that he “takes out the garbage and, oh, other things that he can’t think of right now.” Then he got very worked up, dramatically sighing in exasperation, before launching into a lengthy lecture that “It takes two people to run a household, you know.”

Randi’s boyfriend wanted to make the issue about her. While that may not seem very stimulating, the adrenaline kick comes with the challenge of mounting a good defense against the “accusation”. “It’s amazing” Randi noted, “he really thinks I’ll be fooled into believing him if he’s insistent enough, and darn it, for too long I was.”

Couples Success offers solutions

It’s hard to believe that arguments and fighting can actually make some people feel calmer. Until you understand this type of behavior it’s easy to be baited into an activity that has perceived benefit on one side but harms the person on the opposing side who doesn’t understand what is really taking place.

The key take-away from these stories should be this. The more you understand these behaviors and begin to stop “taking the bait,” the better you’ll become at preventing the arguments and fighting that have nothing to do with legitimate issues. They have everything to do with subconsciously seeking stimulation.


Communication – The Key to Keeping Your Relationship Healthy


Communication Technique Overcomes the Cycle of Surprise, Reaction and Resentment

All relationships can be challenging at times. If you are in a relationship with a partner you most likely realize that it involves challenges. Living with a partner can be an exciting journey full of positive experiences. Relationships can also fall into a vicious cycle of surprise, reaction, and resentment. The key to overcoming what is often a vicious cycle is open and positive communication.

Communication will help you avoid getting stuck in a vicious cycle by learning to recognize what’s taking place at a personal level. If both people in the relationship can communicate and understand the other person’s feelings, the relationship can be a fantastic, healthy experience for both partners.

Let’s go over the steps of the cycle.


While surprises in a relationship are often fun or unexpected delights, repeated surprises can be viewed as upsets or erratic behavior. Often this behavior in a person can be viewed as inconsistent, erratic, undependable, and unpredictable. Unexpected behaviors can leave the other partner feeling shocked and confused.

One of our clients shared this example: "I sent my husband to the store for orange juice and he came home with a patio furniture set he found on sale - and of course no orange juice! We already had perfectly good and almost new patio furniture!" Living with a partner sometimes involves this sort of surprise or seemingly irrational behavior. It is vital that you to learn how to control your reaction to the behavior. How you communicate when surprised can make the situation better or worse!


Life with a surprising partner can be overwhelming because of an unending stream of surprises. You can find yourself constantly reacting to their latest unexpected behavior. Some couples talk about feeling like there are so many mini-crises each day, all they do is exchange negative reactions! One partner feels surprised and upset while the other partner feels attacked and defensive.

The surprised partner can make a simple request that triggers an emotional firestorm. What they didn’t understand was their partner was already feeling overwhelmed by life and a simple request was too much to handle. The key to breaking out of this cycle of reaction is to stop the anxiety that goes along with it. For the family unit to return to harmony, you have to find a way to diminish anxiety through positive, open communication. Look for ways to preempt the cycle of reactivity by being aware of what triggers resentment.


Resentment starts to build as both partners experience the exchange of pain in the form of disappointment, criticism, defensive responses and anger.

For example it’s common for one partner to believe that it’s easier to do all the work by themselves. It seems it’s the only way to make sure there are no surprises and to guarantee the work gets done. If you want it done right, do it yourself! Right?

Wrong! While this approach may seem to work for a while it will ultimately lead to destructive resentment in the relationship. What happens is the exciting partner – having no idea they are doing less and less – becomes less helpful while the "I'll do it myself" partner is burdened with doing nearly everything.

It will then be easy to view the excited partner as helpless, useless and having a life of doing nothing, something the other partner can only dream about! They become increasingly resentful and the adventurous partner remains clueless. If they become aware of the resentment they often don’t understand where it’s coming from. To them it appears that everything’s getting done just fine!

Use the Three C’s Technique to Break the Cycle!

Hopefully, by recognizing the cycle of surprise, reaction and resentment, you and your partner can break out of it. We regularly see this pattern when we work with couples. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle that’s vicious and can destroy relationships by eroding the foundations of trust and dependability.

The key to overcoming the downward cycle, as it is in any relationship, is good, open communication. In our clinic we use the three C’s technique as a powerful communication tool. The three C’s are Connect, Correct then Connect again. Here are the details:

  1. Connect - when you connect first with gratitude and praise your partner will be receptive and not defensive. Defensiveness is the enemy of good communication!

  2. Correct - focus on a single incident while being specific and quick in your delivery. Use a neutral and matter-of-fact tone of voice. Corrections should offer directions.

  3. Connect again - using praise and hope for the future cite something positive and uplifting or offer a gesture of kindness like a gentle touch or a quick peck on the cheek, to reconnect with your partner.

By maintaining good communication with your partner, and keeping your focus positive, you can work together to manage surprises in a relationship and keep them from causing a full blown relationship crisis.

Rediscover Your Heart's Desires


Are you actively putting your hearts desires in alignment with your choice of action every day?

If we’re not careful the world will fill our lives with busyness. This can result in a full life but not necessarily a fulfilling life? For a truly fulfilling life you must align your desires with the actions you choose!

If you have lost sight of your hearts desires or if you’ve lost your passion then how you spend your time and energy will reflect that!

Is it your time and energy spent on the Internet? Have you fallen in love with the mindless distractions of a computerized companion? The internet is just one small example of how choosing something out of alignment with your heart’s desires can quickly distract your attention and waste valuable time with unfulfilling activity.

Life is filled with things that rob us of living a fulfilling life. If you’re not vigilant they will clutter your relationships and fill your life with activity that lacks any real accomplishment.

We are challenging you to spend a few minutes each day really focusing on what you desire in your relationship. There is a great adventure in living your life as if your relationships really were the most important thing in your life. Read that last sentence again, it just might be life changing. Read it and ponder just how different your life would be if you really did put your partner first in your life.

Think about your where your daily choices are taking you and ask yourself if you are choosing to be in the driver’s seat or sitting in the back seat letting busyness or someone else determine where your life is going.

What would your days look like if you could take back control of your life and your relationships?

Do you have the will to live the life you say you’ve always wanted or are you choosing to give priority to actions that are counter to what you really want?

Here’s a small exercise that is simple to implement and can have dramatic results.

At the close of each day reflect on what choices you made since you woke up that morning. Were your choices in alignment with the desires you have in your heart?

If they were out of alignment what choice could you have made instead? Set a goal to make the appropriate choice the next day. As you do this simple exercise each evening your choices the following day will tend to be more deliberate and less a result of outside influence or bad habits.

The most tragic betrayal is when your heart and your head are in conflict throughout your day. You and your partner, as well as your family, suffer when you make choices based on habit or with little conscious awareness!

There is no need to stay unconscious any longer.

A life well lived - one filled with love, integrity and passion, is a tremendous life. Creating a life deliberately: of your own accord; of your own wishes; is central to living a fulfilled relational life.

Breaking the Cycle of Negativity

Writing positive and negative aspects of life on virtual board.

Writing positive and negative aspects of life on virtual board.

Researchers have demonstrated that negative thoughts or experiences have a much greater effect on our mood than positive thoughts and experiences. As an example, imagine how differently you would feel if you found a piece of jewelry or lost a piece of jewelry. The stress of the loss is typically far more dramatic than the joy of a sudden find.

Do you feel like your relationship is locked in an endless cycle of negativity? Are your only thoughts about what’s NOT working in the relationship? It’s So Easy to Get Stuck on the Bad! It’s easy to get swept up in a tornado of negativity if you’re in an relationship that is falling apart. If you don’t break out of the tornado, you may find your relationship being swept away from negativity. It’s important to realize that negative events have a much greater impact on everyone’s brains than positive events do- that’s everyone's - not just yours.

Negativity in a Relationship

If we think more about the pains and disappointments in a relationship, we soon begin to resent our partner. We may start to wish we were no longer partners!

In contrast, if we change our focus and dwell on the good times as well as the positive qualities of our partner, the relationship is likely to become stronger and intimate.

Every relationship has fun times and good experiences mixed together with painful experiences and disappointments. It comes down to what you focus on?

“The brain gives more attention to negative experiences over positive ones because negative events pose a chance of danger. By default, the brain alerts itself to potential threats in the environment, so awareness of positive aspects takes deliberate effort.” Nicole Force, M.A.

Why do we focus on the Negative?

The mind has a built in bias to respond to negativity more than it responds to positive. Our need to focus on the negative and forget the positive is an evolutionary carry over from our ancestors who lived in very dangerous circumstances. During their time if you remained focused on potential threats and dangers, you were more likely to survive. Better to be alive and negative than dead and positive.

This focus or “negativity bias” is no longer productive. We live in a world of cooperation at home, in the workplace, and in social environments. Focusing on the negative is now destructive and can cause be harmful to a relationship.

Remember the Good in Your Relationship

Actions fix broken relationships not intentions!

Actions fix broken relationships not intentions!

To counteract our natural predisposition to negativity here’s a great way to change your focus to the positive by asking these questions: • What first attracted you to your partner? • What good experiences have you had together? • What are your partner’s greatest strengths? • What do you enjoy doing together? The Bad is Limiting

When we focus on something the feelings that we attach to it will grow. If we focus on the negative parts of your relationship, then we “choke out” our ability to remember the other areas of our relationship that may be good. What we take action and focus on the positives and the memories that bring a smile to our face, our feelings are more productive. Focus on the good, and you open up a world of new thoughts and feelings.

The story we continually tell ourselves is the story we come to know, believe, and experience in our lives and relationships.

Actions fix broken relationships not intentions!

Couples Success is here to break the Natural Power of Negativity that has covered and hidden the true passion and intimacy that brings relationships together.

Keeping the Spark Alive In Your Relationship

Loving couple sitting on couch

Loving couple sitting on couch

If at first, you don’t succeed, give it a little more effort and you might be pleasantly surprised! When initiating intimacy with your partner, you might find some initial resistance. This initial lack of interest should be expected given how our minds work.

For many partners especially those with concentration issues, getting started can seem overwhelming. Until the neurons of interest are firing the mind is simply not engaged.

How many times have you had to convince your spouse to go do something?   Only to experience that once both of you are out having fun, they tell you they are having “the time of their life and are glad you convinced them to go.

Guess what, initiating intimacy is really no different. Offer a little notice and a drop of persistence, and you might find that once your partner gets engaged in the dance of intimacy, they may soon discover that they too are “Having a really great time!”