The Death of Love Isn’t Natural: The 7 Steps to Separation



Kyle Benson

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source, it dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds, it dies of weariness, of witherings, or tarnishings, but never a natural death.” – Anais Nin

Marriages rarely end overnight. They tend to unravel over time, in ways that are now fairly predictable thanks to research by Dr. John Gottman. In 1986 Dr. Gottman and his colleagues built a Love Lab to learn the secrets of lasting love and understand why love dies.

By studying couples for over 40 years, Dr. Gottman could predict with a 90% accuracy which marriage would fail, and which would succeed. These are the factors he found most often contribute to the dissolution of a marriage:

Read more

7 Daily Rituals Intentional Couples Use to Cultivate Lasting Love



Kyle Benson

Due to the daily pressures, distractions, and dynamics of modern life, a romantic couple doesn’t have to be dysfunctional to grow distant over time. Long working hours and the demands of raising children can push date night, sex, and romantic vacations to last place on the priority list.

Researchers at UCLA observed 30 dual-career couples with young children to understand the daily challenges for finding opportunities to build strong relationships and families. They discovered that these couples: 1

  1. Spend less than 10% of their time at home with each other and without their children around
  2. Are career-focused with long working hours (partner one) and a have a double burden of work and childcare (partner two)
  3. Prioritize children and household needs over the needs of their spouse or self
  4. Become more like roommates, drifting apart emotionally and physically
  5. Miss important opportunities to connect emotionally on a daily basis

Read more

Self Care: Cherishing Yourself And Your Relationship


Ellie Lisitsa

In Wednesday’s posting on The Gottman Relationship Blog, in which we shared a recent study out of UC Berkeley on the relationship between sleep and relationship conflict, we brought up the importance of cultivating good habits in self care, one of the most critical tools in maintaining healthy relationships. This weekend, we offer you a few of Dr. Gottman’s tips for goal-setting and stress management! We hope that the following lists will help you as you work to find balance and create a healthier lifestyle, both for yourself and for your relationship.


  • Make your goals specific and measurable. Rather than telling your partner that you would like to talk more, suggest that you go on a date every other Saturday. Leave the kids with the babysitter and find some time for just the two of you.
  • Think about the pros and cons of making healthy changes. If we stick with the example above, we could imagine that a pro would be the ability to feel closer to each other and relax (at a favorite dinner spot, on a jaunt through a beloved park, in a cozy cafe), and a con could be the price of the babysitter.

Read more

‘PANTS’ Rules

Image result for Picture of a lady's underwear


Please every parent and guardian should teach their children and wards, especially toddlers, very early about ‘PANTS’ rules. Times have changed and the world has become a very sick and pathetic place to live. There are many paedophiles and rapists out there. Be careful, and note that everyone is a suspect here.

We must prayerfully protect our children by arming them with the right information:


P – Private parts are private. Nobody is permitted to touch them.

A – Always remember that your body is yours and yours only.

Read more

10 “Notes to Self” that Will Stop You from Taking Things Personally



Marc Chernoff

Let’s start off with a simple question:

Why do we always take things so personally?

There are admittedly quite a few viable and valid answers to consider.  But, the one Angel and I have found to be most common through a decade of one-on-one coaching with our course students and live event attendees is the tendency we all have of putting ourselves at the center, and seeing everything—every event, conversation, circumstance, etc.—from the viewpoint of how it relates to us on a personal level.  And this can have all kinds of adverse effects, from feeling hurt when other people are rude, to feeling sorry for ourselves when things don’t go exactly as planned, to doubting ourselves when we aren’t perfect.

Read more

Vacations Make Your Kids Happy Long After They’re Over

Image result for picture of a family on a vacation


Heather Marcoux

Whether you’re booking flights and hotels for a family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

The gift of an experience, like a family vacation, is proven to be a more prosocial, connecting present than any material possession, according to a study out of the University of Toronto.

Read more

The Love Tank Theory: How to Make Love Actually Last

love tank


Kyle Benson

  • “Our relationship is emotionally dead.”
  • “We never talk anymore.”
  • “My partner is distant, and we never have any fun.”

My inbox is full of emails like this.

These couples often ask, “How did we get here?”

Have you ever had that thought about your relationship?

Read more

7 Lessons from 10 Years of Coaching People Through Depression and Heartbreak

7 Lessons from 10 Years of Coaching People Through Depression and Heartbreak


Marc Chernoff

There are wounds that never show on our bodies that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.  Depression and heartbreak are two such wounds.  I know, from experience.

About a decade ago, in quick succession, Angel and I dealt with several significant, back-to-back losses and life changes, including: losing Angel’s brother, Todd, to suicide, losing our mutual best friend, Josh, to cardiac arrest, and losing our home in the downturn of the economy.  The pain inflicted by each of these experiences was absolutely brutal, and enduring them one after another broke our hearts and knocked us both into a moderate state of depression.  There was a long stretch of time when we shut out the world, shut out each other, and avoided our loved ones who were grieving alongside us.

Luckily, with the right support, and the gradual restoration of our inner resolve, we pushed forward, stronger and with a greater respect for life.  And while there were many intricate steps to our recovery process that I’m leaving out here, the outcome of our journey ultimately led us to the work we do today, over a decade later.  Through our course and coaching we have spent the better part of the past ten years leveraging our lessons learned to guide amazing human beings through the process of coping with significant bouts of depression and heartbreak (and other forms of adversity).  The work has been anything but easy, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding and life-changing—it has undoubtedly been the most significant silver lining of the painful losses and life changes we were forced to endure.

Read more

3 Steps to Renewing Dialogue in Your Marriage


Jon Beaty

Many couples fall out of sync. Without warning, life events disrupt the rhythm that helped them stay in harmony. Pride, strong emotions, marital and work-related stress, and different communication styles often make it difficult to reconnect.

Meet Ryan and Alyssa, a married couple struggling with connection.

Ryan’s success in his job was such an event. He zeroed in on the opportunity to achieve a shared dream, but as he did so, he and Alyssa drifted apart. Ryan dreaded going home after 11 years of marriage. He and his wife, Alyssa, struggled with how to connect with each other without igniting a conflict. Alyssa felt dissatisfied. Ryan didn’t understand why. They described their dilemma to their marriage counselor.

The Communication Breakdown

Ryan explained that he works long hours—until eight most evenings, and two or three weekends a month. He’s ambitious, driven, and skilled in his work, which has paid off financially. He and Alyssa were able to move their family from an apartment to a new home only five years after they married. They’re putting money away to invest in a vacation condo in Hawaii.

“Alyssa supported me in the beginning. We both dreamed of being where we are now,” Ryan said. “We’ve been working on the next dream. But, now she’s not happy. I don’t get it.”

Alyssa described what it’s like when Ryan arrives home each evening. “Hi, honey,” he says. “Hi,” she replies, and their conversation doesn’t go much further than that. She complained to their counselor, “He doesn’t connect with me or the kids in a meaningful way.”

Alyssa used to ask Ryan how his day went. Not anymore. He just says, “Fine.” If she asks for more detail, he gets angry and says things like, “Why do you ask? You don’t really care.” Then they argue. Ryan admits he used to say more, but from his perspective, Alyssa doesn’t appreciate his hard work. When he brought home the top sales consultant bonus for the second year in a row, Alyssa cried.

Alyssa said what Ryan knew; her tears were tears of frustration, not joy. “You really need to cut back and spend more time with your family,” she’d said. “You work too much. You don’t spend enough time with our boys. I can’t be both their mother and father.” Alyssa felt overwhelmed handling it on her own, especially because their boys were having difficulty in school. Ryan has been colder to her since then. She misses the closeness and fun she used to have with him.

Caught in a Whirlwind

Ryan seemed clueless because he wasn’t paying attention to his wife’s bids for connection. Alyssa tried to tell Ryan what she needed, but she often delivered her appeals to Ryan to change his behavior with criticism. Ryan defended himself, and he didn’t listen to the request for connection that lay beneath Alyssa’s criticism. He didn’t see that she wanted to express her needs and wanted him to understand.

Alyssa and Ryan stepped into a trap of criticism and defensiveness, which derailed their attempts to connect. Criticism and defensiveness are two of what Dr. John Gottman calls The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. When a couple fails to break free of this trap, it may not be long before the other two horsemen—contempt and stonewalling—enter the fight and put their relationship down for the count.

Renewing Dialogue

Highlighting past behaviors only invites more criticism and defensiveness, so their counselor encouraged Ryan and Alyssa to clean the slate and start over. He coached them to take turns expressing their needs and responding to each other. He guided them through the following steps. At the same time, he urged them to keep their focus on the present and to avoid bringing up the past. Most couples can follow these same steps to begin to restore a broken connection.

  1. Tell each other what you want rather than what you don’t want

When spouses can clearly state what they need from their partner without blame or criticism, and especially by using “I” statements, they help their partner see where they can focus their efforts to reconnect successfully.

Alyssa began stating her needs to Ryan. “I need you to be home at least two nights a week to connect more with me and the kids. I feel overwhelmed with the problems our boys are having at school. It would ease my stress if you and I could talk about their problems,” she said. “I need to talk to them together about situations that are coming up. And I want us to do more fun things, too, as a couple and as a family.”

  1. Respond to each other’s statements of need with open-ended questions

Open-ended questions are curiosity’s most powerful tool. These questions typically begin with words like “what,” “why,” or “how,” and are framed to avoid a “yes” or “no” answer. They provide stories for answers, which helps couples to understand each other’s needs more deeply.

To Alyssa’s needs, Ryan responded with an open-ended question. “If I cut my hours and we can’t make that vacation condo happen, how are you going to feel?”

Alyssa said, “I need you more than I need a vacation condo. I want me and the kids to be connected with you more than I want your paycheck or anything we can buy with that.”

Ryan gained a deeper understanding of what Alyssa needs to be happy. Some of her dreams and needs seem to have changed, but he didn’t know that until they had this conversation. He agreed to arrange his hours at work so he can spend more time with Alyssa and the boys. He also agreed to partner with her on helping with the boys’ school problems. And, he promised to plan some dates for just the two of them.

  1. Express appreciation and gratitude to the spouse who’s listening

Words of appreciation and gratitude say, “You matter to me, and I value you.” They express commitment to the relationship, and they cultivate trust that helps bond people together.

Once Ryan responded to Alyssa’s needs and compromised so that they can reconnect and support each other, Alyssa expressed appreciation and gratitude. “You don’t know how happy that makes me hear that,” Alyssa said. “Thank you for listening and understanding.”

A Two-Way Street

For couples to connect, communication needs to flow in both directions. Ryan took his turn expressing his needs in a different way. “I need to hear you say you’re grateful for what I do for our family. You and I both came from families that always struggled to make ends meet. I want you and the kids to have everything you need and more.”

By listening, Alyssa understood that part of what drives Ryan to work so hard is that he wants to provide for his family. “What if I told you I’m grateful every day for what you do? What if I said that at least a few times a week? And what if I said you’ve more than met our material needs? How might that change things for you?”

“That would mean a lot to hear it from you more often,” Ryan said. “You want more of my time. I get that now. That’s what’s been making you unhappy. I thought it was something else, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I understand now. It’s been good for us to listen to each other like this. Thank you. I don’t remember the last time we talked like this.”

When disconnected couples repair their connection, they can enjoy being with each other. Ryan no longer dreads going home. He and Alyssa are learning to communicate better. They now know the secret to getting back into sync; to tell each other what they want instead of what they don’t want, to ask open-ended questions, to form a compromise, and to thank each other for listening.

2 Important Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong


Angel Chernoff

“Today, I’m sitting in my hospital bed waiting to have both my breasts removed. But in a strange way I feel like the lucky one. Up until now I have had no health problems. I’m a 69-year-old woman in the last room at the end of the hall before the pediatric division of the hospital begins. Over the past few hours I have watched dozens of cancer patients being wheeled by in wheelchairs and rolling beds. None of these patients could be a day older than 17.”

That’s an entry from my grandmother, Zelda’s, journal, dated 9/16/1977. I photocopied it and pinned it to my bulletin board about a decade ago. It’s still there today, and it continues to remind me that there is always, always, always something to be thankful for. And that no matter how good or bad I have it, I must wake up each day thankful for my life, because someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.

Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. Imagine all the wondrous things your mind might embrace if it weren’t wrapped so tightly around your struggles. Always look at what you have, instead of what you have lost. It’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.

Read more

%d bloggers like this: