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

Welcome to RelationSmarts!

A Dating, Mating and Relating E-Newsletter

June 12, 2006

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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

Be sure to scroll down and check out news of note and announcements for singles and couples! We'll be 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: Have you Got Mental Space For Me?

It's 9am and my partner just left the house for work, after a good bye hug and kiss. Maybe 10 minutes later, the phone rings- it's him. He's calling to tell me that he just heard on the radio that Nicole Kidman got engaged to country music star Keith Urban. Does he care about this? Not a drop. But he calls because he knows I like country music and I get sort of amused about the rise and demise of celebrity couples. But do I really care about Keith and Nicole's big announcement either? Nah, not really. Still, I hang up the phone with a fuzzy, warm smile. Not because Nic and Keith have found bliss- but because I have. Here's the thing- when he calls to tell me something he think I might be interested in, or emails me an Internet link about a story that may help me, he's telling me one VERY important thing- he's got mental space for me! In other words, me, my interests, and my well being are on his mind. In fact, for both of us, we never have our partner far from our minds. And we like it that way- it makes us feel more connected, cherished, and adored than we knew possible.

Does this story sound like something you'd like to have in your life or does it make you slightly nauseous with all of the sentimentality? Because, when picking a partner, it's important to know what kind of mental space you have for someone else, and at what level you'd like that to be reciprocated. Once, I was in a long term relationship with a guy who could go all day, probably all week, without thinking about me! You can imagine how hurt that made me feel! So, mental space is one component of compatability and it is part of a larger factor I call Comfort with Closeness. Relationship satisfaction is largely based on closeness compatibility, so keep an eye on it when you are getting to know someone.

Relation Strategy: Take measure of how much mental space you have and how much you need in a partner. Then make certain that whomever you get serious about has enough mental space for YOU!

Relation Tip: Not sure what kind of mental space you have or how much comfort with closeness you need? Email me to take a quiz!

** Need more guidance on finding the right partner for you? Last chance to join a dating success group- starting in July! Email for more info.

Mating: Missionary position goes on vacation!

Once the newness of a relationship wears off, couples often slide into a habit of using the same one or two positions that seem to work for them. But even if they do work, well, they get kind of boring. Variety is the spice of life baby and no where is this more true than in the bedroom. So break out of the routine and surprise your partner with a little creativity.

Passion Perks Challenge: At least once this week, try a brand new position, or at least one you haven't tried in a long time! Need some inspiration? Check out the online version of Cosmopolitan magazine- they have a new weekly sex position added every week. Now you have no excuses! Or check out the tons of books and online resources that will stir your imagination.

Link: Sex Position of the Week

Relation Tip: Bonus for women who take on the challenge, because men love a woman who takes the initiative to try something new!

Relation Tip: Double bonus for trying a new position, in a new location!! Get outta bed already! That's so ho-hum.


Relating: Slaying the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse! Part 2: Defensiveness

Last time, we began a discussion of the four behaviors that will most damage your relationship. Engage in any of these four on a regular basis and I can guarantee you are unhappy and may be on the path toward divorce!

I hope that in the past two weeks, you took the time to weed out any Criticism in your relationship and replace it with Complaint. This week, let's talk about how defensiveness is destructive.

Defensiveness is any attempt to defend oneself from a perceived attack. Usually when couples argue- it involves a series of volleys, going back and forth: complaint, counter-complaint, compliant, counter-complaint. And before long, the conversation is in the tank, with no solution to be found. I am sure you know it well because it is our natural reflex when feeling blamed. Deflect, divert, attack, defend. Or even the poor me victim stance. All of them deny responsibility for the problem and scream to your partner, loud and clear, "I am not interested in how YOU feel!"

Let's see some examples.

You ask your partner to stop after work and pick up a gallon of milk. He agrees. When he comes home, he is milk-less! You say, "What no milk? I can't believe you didn't remember the milk. You never remember what I ask you to do. Do you even care about me?" (Notice the harmful criticism from last week's discussion).

You respond defensively in one of several types:

Defensive Deflect: Honey, we don't need milk tonight. Why are you getting so upset?

Defensive Divert: Is the steak ready? I am really hungry.

Defensive Attack: Is that all you have to say? You forget things all the time. Last week you even forgot about our anniversary. You never remember anything!

Defensive Defend: How can you say that? Of course I care about you. I show you all the time. I was super busy at work and totally forget. Last week I remembered that shopping list of 12 items.

Defensive Victim: Do I care about YOU? I think you don't care about me. I mean just last week you forgot to pick up the dry cleaning and you never ironed the shirt I needed for that important meeting.

As you can see, defensiveness has many faces, some more hurtful than others, but all corrode your love and respect for each other. And they all have something in common: no acceptance of responsibility or validation of your partner's point of view. You may find you have a favorite type of defensiveness or maybe you use all types! You may think you aren't defensive at all! But often defensiveness hides in "explanations and excuses."

So what isn't a defensive response? Try something like:

"I can see you are upset. I would be too. I am sorry I forgot the milk, it bugs me too when I forget things. Next time, I'll tape a note to my forehead to remember it (a little humor can go a long way to easing the tension!).

Action Step: Avoid defensiveness when your partner complains, criticizes, or blames you. Since defensiveness is our automatic reaction, you may have to work hard to override this response, but it can stop an argument in it's tracks.

Relation Tip: Remember, just because your partner is behaving badly doesn't mean you have to too!!! Returning your partner's attack will only cause a fight. Your love is more important than being right.

Relation Tip: Have a hard time not responding reflexively with something negative of your own? Practice pausing and taking a deep breathe before you reply. The best rule of thumb is to always, always ask your partner to say some more about how they feel. Then listen and see their point of view, whether or not you agree. Feelings aren't right or wrong, they are just real and you are both entitled to them.

** See News for Couples below for an additionally related tip!


NEWS: For Singles

Are you using internet dating, but not getting the results you want?

MSN recently had a great article about how to find your dream partner using internet dating. If you've been reading Relation Smarts- some of the ideas will be familiar- but it's an inspiring refresher course on how to make the most of this technology.

Link to article: Finding Your One

Relation Fact: The author of the above article went on more than 100 dates over a period of 6 months before she found her true love! Persistence is key! Don't get discouraged, just press on. Meeting 10, even 15 people is likely not going to be enough. You've got to stay in the game to win. I must have gone on over 50 dates myself before finding my Prince!

**Need some help creating an internet profile that gets you noticed? Coupling Connection provides afforable profile creation services that help you write, edit, and select pictures that will get you the attention you deserve!

Not sure how to proceed once you get started on the internet? Let coaching help you navigate the internet dating sea of choices with confidence and competence!

Email for more info on either service.


Dating Success Groups starting in early July!

Effective, informative, and fun! Email for more info.


Sick of being single and ready to get started on your path to the perfect partner?

Take advantage of two exciting opportunities.

Relationship Readiness Inventory

For a limited time, Inventories are half off! Clarify the characteristics of your perfect partner and learn how to get out of your relationship ruts. A powerful step toward an extraordinary relationship. Cost: $40.

*NEW* E-course: They Are Just Not That Into You

Now offered as an Email Course! You get six weekly lessons emailed to you to read at your leisure, including a weekly homework assignment that will help you gain personal insight and apply the information to your own situation. Once completed, you email each assignment back for personalized feedback. Cost: $45.

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


News: For Couples

Words of Wisdom: In a recent book filled with advice from long-married couples a wife said: "There are three words that save a marriage, and they're not, 'I love you.' They're, 'Maybe you're right.'

Boy was she smart!


*NEW* Couples Workshop

Hot Monogamy

It can be tough to keep the love alive over time, especially with busy schedules, work and financial stress, and children! But with the right attitudes and skills, everyone can keep the passion burning. Come learn how to deepen your connection, increase your intimate passion, and protect your commitment from infidelity. Leave with tools to revitalize your love. Email for more info.


* Have you tried a tip or tool from the Relation Smarts E-newsletter? We want to hear about it!? Let us know what your experience was like. Did it improve your connection? Or no? Email us! *

Do you have a topic, idea, question, or concern you'd like to have addressed in an upcoming newsletter? Email us!

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

May your relationships bring you the happiness you deserve,

Jennifer Oikle, Ph.D.

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