Coupling Connection - Dr. Jenn Oikle
Coupling Connection - Dr. Jenn Oikle

Welcome to RelationSmarts!

A Dating, Mating and Relating E-Newsletter

February 20, 2006

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Coupling Connetion - Successful Relating
Coupling Connetion - Romantic Rituals
Coupling Connetion - Passion Perks
Coupling Connetion - Reading List
Coupling Connetion - Book Reviews

Every other week, we'll be delivering smart and fresh relating tips. We know you are busy, so let these quick ideas inspire you to create your ideal relationship! Each edition will include helpful information in these three categories:

  • Dating – tips on finding and keeping the perfect partner
  • Mating – take the Passion Perks challenge and perk up your love life!
  • Relating – tips on making your connection Extraordinary

We'll also be including news of note for singles and couples, from Coupling Connection and all around the US, keeping you abreast of relationship happenings you may find useful.

RelationTip: Remember, information is only good if you USE it. Research shows that if you don't use a new piece of information within two weeks, you won't ever use it! So if you want an extraordinary relationship, try something new today!


Dating: Slow Down!

Want to know the biggest and most common dating mistake? Going TOO fast! Yup, it'll get you in trouble 99 out of 100 times. Why? Because people tend to "fall in love" before they even KNOW the other person. In the absence of real information, they plug in the missing pieces with their own fantasies of the perfect partner. Then a few months later, hearts are broken when you realize that your new partner isn't the person you thought they were. Not only does this lead to disappointment, but often people have a hard time letting go and moving on when they should because they got too attached. Don't let this happen to you.

Dating Stat: It takes at least three months to get a good sense of a person's real personality. Before then, "love" is only infatuation, driven by the body's "feel good" chemical response.

Dating Stat: Research shows that the divorce rate is significantly lower for couples who date at least 2 years before getting married.

Action Step: Take your time getting to know someone. Avoid getting excited and thinking, "They're the one". The infatuation chemicals are strong, so you may have to set guidelines to avoid getting overly attached too quickly. What's the best way to do that? Limit the amount of contact you have with a new potential partner. Don't start emailing several times daily, talking on the phone every day and seeing each other all the time. This makes a person a BIG part of your life and makes it doubly hard to move on when you realize they aren't the person for you. So build your contact up gradually as you get to know a person and only increase time together when you see signs that this really is a person you'd like to have in your life. Keep up your hobbies and friendships, don't drop them for a new love interest, since this too makes you vulnerable for over attachment.

Want more info on how to make going slow work for you? The workshop, How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk(ette) is all about learning to manage the process of getting to know someone so that you find the right person for you without getting sucked into bad relationships. This workshop is available in the Denver area on March 2 and April 2 and is also conducted by teleclass nationwide. Email for more info.

Mating: Libido is Like a Muscle

One of the most common complaints couples have today is not enough sex, whether because of lack of time, energy, desire, or emotional closeness. Passionate sex comes naturally at the beginning of a relationship because the infatuation and bonding chemicals are in ample supply. But research shows that those chemicals gradually diminish over a period of two years, so it's expected that sexual passion will hit a plateau. Once you hit the two year mark (or even sooner), it'll be up to you to keep those chemicals flowing! And it's important to do so because a satisfying sexual relationship is critical to keep your relationship strong. Fortunately, there is a simple (though not always easy) solution: make having sex a continued priority. Sounds obvious, I know, but people fail to do it all the time!

The number one culprit for letting sex slide is: "I'm not in the mood." That's understandable, because our lives are busy and exhausting. But here is the key that you have to keep in mind before you say "Honey, not tonight": your libido is like a muscle- if you don't use it, you WILL lose it. This means that the more sex you have, the more you will feel like having sex. And conversely, the less sex you have, the less you'll find yourself in the mood. Now THAT's a vicious cycle!

Relating FACT: Research shows that 50% of woman don't feel like having sex until after they have been physically stimulated!

Wow! For many women, that means if you wait until you are "in the mood", you may be waiting a very long time indeed. So, to keep your sex life alive and well, you may need to give your libido a jump start. Here's how.

Passion Perks Challenge: Consider making the following agreement with your partner:

Say "YES" even if you are not in the mood.

Just get started, and give your body 15 minutes to warm up to the idea, if after that time, you are still not interested, it's ok not to continue. Cuddle instead!

Passion Perks Bonus Challenge: Schedule at least one time this week to exercise your libido. Practice using the above agreement.

Relation Tip: Remember that the best way to keep your sex life alive is to have regular, consistent sex. This will keep your libido chemicals active and help you feel in the mood more often. If this is an issue for you, don't let sex fall off your radar, put it on the calendar. You deserve it!

Relating: End the Blame Game

One of the fastest ways to erode your love connection is playing the blame game. We all do it: point the finger of blame at our partner whenever something happens that we don't like. All too often we are saying or thinking: "It's YOUR fault." This sets up the following cycle: you blame, they defend, they blame, you defend. This cycle tends to spiral out of control and leads to both partners feeling hurt and misunderstood.

What's the solution? Take a good look at that pointing finger picture above. The old adage is true- when you point a finger at someone, you'll see that three fingers are pointing back at you. So, it's important to realize that every single interaction between you and your partner is a two way street. That means- what I do affects you and what you do affects me. There is no way around it. Our behaviors affect each other and you can't ever tell what came first, the chicken or the egg.

Action Step: Smart partners realize that they have played a role in whatever the issue is. It's your job to figure out how YOU contributed to the problem and take 100% responsibility for it. Then acknowledge this contribution to your partner and work on changing it yourself. When you change your part in the problem, your partner will have to change theirs as well. It's virtually guaranteed. You can't keep dancing the same dance if your partner changes the steps! It may take some practice on your part, but learning to take responsibility will protect your love for the long haul.

Here's an example: Let's say my partner comes home later than expected from a night out with the boys. I'm a little angry, but mostly, just feeling a little sad and left out. Once he's home, I want him to understand what I am feeling, not have a fight. So I start to tell him how I feel and he immediately becomes defensive and the tension shoots up a notch.

This is a choice point. I could do what a lot of partners get sucked into doing: continue to insist my point is heard, while my partner does the same. Neither person is heard and the conflict escalates.

OR, I could notice that my partner's response was more defensive than I expected. Then I can step back and recognize that if my partner is being defensive, I must have said something that seemed attacking. People don't defend unless they feel attacked.

So maybe:

My choice of words was poor

My tone was more harsh than I meant

Or his previous relationship experiences have made him sensitive to feeling he is being criticized, so it's easy to trigger a defensive response.

No matter which explanation is most likely true, the best response is something like:

"I didn't mean to attack you, but something that I said seems to be making you defensive. Can you tell me what's going on for you right now?"

By accepting responsibility for your contribution to the interaction, this comment nips the conflict in the bud . It says, "Oh, hey, I noticed that something about what I am doing is having a negative affect on you. Let's stop right here and get back on track." By having your partner tell you more about how they feel and REALLY listening (not just reacting emotionally to what you hear), you'll put the conversation back on a useful path.

Ending the blame game is tough! You must be able to:

1. Recognize when things are taking a turn for the worse

2. Refrain from reacting automatically and emotionally

3. Pause long enough to objectively stand back and put yourself in your partner's shoes

4. Put your own need on hold for the moment

5. Be willing to really listen and understand your partner.

This process takes patience and LOTS of practice. If it's particularly tough for you, you may find that relationship coaching can help you effectively build the skills needed to end the blame game. Email for your free half hour consultation session.


NEWS: For Singles

Rocky Mountain Singles Summit

The Rocky Mountain Singles Summit in Denver, CO has been rescheduled for March 11, 20056. Have fun, learn, and maybe meet a date! Learn more:

*New Book Review*

Dr. Phil is every where! Now, he's even offering dating advice on See if his new dating book, Love Smart, is worth checking out. Go to Book Review.

*New Teleclasses*

How To Avoid Marrying a Jerk and

They Are Just Not That Into You: Why You Put Up With Bad Behavior and How To Never Tolerate It Again

See the website for more information on either of these workshops or email if you are interested!

News For Couples

Hot New Book

Men! Have you heard about Scott Haltzman's new book: The Secrets of Happily Married Men? Articles about this book are all over the media! Haltzman, a psychiatrist at Brown University, suggests that men can best improve their marriages, not by trying to act more like women as most therapists suggest (i.e. talk about their feelings, empathize) but by making better use on the homefront of the manly traits hard wired into the masculine psyche. In other words, think of marriage as a job and use all those finely tuned career skills at home! This book seems worth a read! Learn more on his website: Happily Married Men

The Eight "Secrets" of Happily Married Men
1. Make Marriage Your Job.
2. Know Your Wife.
3. Be Home Now.
4. Expect Conflict and Deal With It.
5. Learn to Listen.
6. Aim to Please.
7. Understand the Truth About Sex.
8. Introduce Yourself.

Get Happier = Get Healthier!

Want another reason to work on making your relationship extraordinary? How about improving your health and longevity? Research shows that happily married couples are healthier and live longer than single folks, unhappy spouses, or cohabitating couples. Want to learn more? Read this article from the Mayo health clinic- Mayo Article: Marriage and Health


Know someone who could use a little RelationSmarts? Feel free to forward the newsletter to family and friends!

May your relationships bring you happiness,

Jennifer Oikle, Ph.D.

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