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

Welcome to RelationSmarts!

A Dating, Mating and Relating E-Newsletter

August 1, 2006

About Us
Services For Singles
Services For Couples
Free E-Newsletter
Ask Dr. Jenn
Contact Us
Tips and Tools for an Extraordinary Relationship

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.

Does an article strike a chord or remind you of a friend's situation? Please pass Relation Smarts on! Everyone deserves to have more love in their life!

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: Partner Training 101

A good friend of mine has been trying to find The One for quite some time now. He’s tried everything: scouring the city, making ample use of several popular internet dating sites, checking out the frozen food aisle….Then one day recently, he meets a girl who could be The One, in a country bar- of all places! (What’d I tell you about those country love songs a few issues back!). But I digress.

Flash forward a few months and he’s struggling to end this potentially idyllic relationship because of her temper. That’s right, she loses it- a lot and it gets very ugly. So now he’s wondering, “Do I get out or do I give her repeated chances to clean up her act?” A sticky situation for sure.

Which made me start pondering “Was there a way that he could have avoided this whole darn mess in the first place?” Yes there is. By simply remembering this principle “You are always training other people how to treat you.” (Folks who have attended my “Not Into You” seminar may recall this concept.).

From the very moment you meet someone, you are teaching them how you like to be treated- by the behavior you accept and reject. If you allow someone to treat you in disrespectful ways- yelling at you, arriving late, not calling when they said they would- you will assuredly get more of the same. When you refuse to accept such treatment, either the behavior goes away or the person does. Either way- that’s a win for you. The sooner you begin this training, the better the outcome, but it’s never too late to start!

Let’s see how this would work. I’m a laid back, easy-going person by nature and it takes a LOT to get me angry- and it takes even more for me to raise my voice. But on rare occasions with my boyfriend, I’ll become excitable, and although I am not actually yelling AT him, my voice will have raised without me even being aware of it. Here’s what happens next. Every time, my boyfriend very calmly, but very seriously says “Do not raise your voice with me.” And do you know what I do? It immediately makes me pause, realize that indeed my voice has risen and I lower it instantly. End of story. We go on and continue to have a reasonable discussion. Why does this work? Because my boyfriend has very clearly, and from the start, made his boundary known. He has said with his words and behavior that raised voices are not tolerable to him and that he will not speak with me if I engage in that behavior. Period. It’s not negotiable- it is just the rule and since I love and respect him (and know it’s the correct rule anyhow)- I follow it. And you know what, on the rare occasion when I just plain forget the rule, I am thankful that he reminds me, because it keeps our relationship on the right track.

So, back to my friend and countless others who have ended up in bad relationships. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if my friend had said the same thing to his girlfriend the very first time she lost her temper and every time after that. Either she would recognize that her behavior was harming the relationship and she would have the self control to correct it or she wouldn’t. And if she wouldn’t or couldn’t, then my friend would have a clear course: it’s time to end this partnership because it’s no longer a partnership when each person can’t respect and behave lovingly toward one another. Instead- he allowed it to occur. In effect, he trained her by letting her have her angry outbursts.

What if he had tried my boyfriend’s approach and unlike me, his girlfriend continued on ranting and raving? With his behavior, he should show her that he will not participate in such interactions. So he could say, “I will not speak with you when you talk like that. I am leaving the room. I will be happy to talk about it when you are willing to speak calmly.” Then he promptly gets up and leaves the room- and he doesn’t allow her to follow him or to continue to engage him in any way- as long as she’s yelling. He leaves the house if he has to. And he does this right away- not after 15 minutes of tongue lashing. And consistency is key- he has to do this every time she starts to get out of control.

So, here are the principles for training your new partner (or anyone else in your world for that matter!)
1. Insight: Get very clear for yourself on what your boundaries are. What behaviors are simply unacceptable to you? What will you not tolerate because it is not healthy, loving, respectful behavior?
2. Inform: From the beginning ideally (or wherever you are now), make your boundaries absolutely clear to the other person- both with your words and with your actions.
3. Enforce: Whenever a situation develops, consistently enforce your boundary. Every time, make no exceptions.
4. Action: Collect data about the other person’s behavior over several situations and be willing to act on it. Walk away if a person is repeatedly unwilling or unable to respect your boundary.

Action Step: Take a look at your past relationships...where did you fail to draw clear and consistent boundaries? What do you wish you had trained your partner about? Make your list of unallowable behaviors and form a clear intention to keep your boundaries in your next relationship.

Relation Strategy: Why wait? You can practice NOW! Often the types of behaviors you allow from romantic partners, you also allow from others in your life. Identify a current situation/or relationship (family member, co-worker, check-out line cashier) and start to practice your Person Training right now. That way, when your perfect partner comes along, you'll already be skilled!


Mating: Massage Madness

Touch is one of the biggest bonding forces in relationships. We often get so busy that we forget to touch each other. But touching, stroking, and caressing not only feels good, it releases happy chemicals that melt stress away and strengthen your bond. Plus, it may just rev up your libido- especially those light, fluttery, teasing strokes. It may be hard to make yourself "get in the mood" but often, gentle soft touching, with no further expectation for sex, can coax your inner sex kitten or tiger out of hiding.

Passion Perks Challenge: This week, set aside at least half an hour to exchange massages (15 minutes each). Work those muscles to relaxation, then focus on softer more teasing touches.

Relation Tip: If you want this exercise to help boost your sexual desire even more, agree ahead of time that no matter how much you feel like it, you WON'T finish up with sex. Taking the pressure off of sexual performance and making it off-limits, may just make it all the more appealing. Note: Sex therapists use a similar technique with couples.


Relating: Soften Your Start Up

Before we leave Dr. Gottman's venerable Love Lab, we'll talk about a few other fascinating findings to help improve your relationship. But instead of focusing on what you shouldn't do, let's focus on what you should do!

When studying happy couple's arguments, Dr. Gottman found an important difference from unhappy couples. Happy couples begin a problem discussion with a softened start-up, whereas unhappy couples use a harsh start-up. Think "Hey Honey, I miss you. Can you come downstairs for awhile" versus "Aren't you done with that darn project yet?"

In fact, Dr, Gottman has found that 96% of the time, you can predict the outcome of a 15 minute conversation based on what happens in the first three minutes! So start it off right, and it will most likely have a happy ending!

Tips for Softening Your Start-Ups

1. Begin with a positive
Ex. Remember how much fun we had when we took that weekend trip to the mountains? Let's schedule something like that soon.
Versus: We never have fun anymore. Can’t you ever make some time for me?

2. Express appreciation
Ex. It’s so great when you help do the dishes, it gives me more time to spend cuddled up with you on the couch.
Versus: Can’t you ever help with the dishes? I am always run so ragged!

3. Start with "I" instead of "You"
Ex. I was so worried when you didn't call that it kept me up all night.
Versus: You could have called. You made me stay up all night worrying about you!

4. Don't build up a list of complaints
Ex. I like it when you hold my hand when we are out together, but it’s been awhile since you’ve touched me. Can we talk about it?
Versus: I can’t stand it anymore. You are never affectionate when we are out together. You don’t want anyone to even know that we are together!

5. Check your tone.
Starting off with a tense, negative, whiny or frustrated tone will immediacy set the stage for fight rather than a productive exchange.

Action Step: Next time you have some issue to bring up- try softening your start up and notice the difference in your outcome. Avoid starting with a negative, blaming, or critical statement.

Relation Tip: Dr. Gottman has found that happy couples are able to make use of humor during problems discussions. See if you can learn to pull that off. After the fact, my boyfriend and I are able to use silly exaggerations of our issue, which get the point across, but also make us laugh.

Relation Tip: Enjoy Dr. Gottman's sound advice? Check out his book: The Relationship Cure. It contains a wealth of information on how to improve all of your relationships!


NEWS: For Singles

Join us for Date Smart! Keys to Dating Smarter, Not Harder

Once a month, Dr. Jenn is hosting a 1 hour, FREE Date Smart conference call. Each month, we'll explore another important dating topic that will inform and inspire you toward success! Plus, ask any dating dilemma question you've got!

The August topic: The Three Dumbest Mistakes Even Smart Daters Make

Monday August 28th, 7pm, Mountain Time (9 pm eastern)

Stay tuned for the conference call phone number, which will be provided in the next edition of Relation Smarts.

Got a topic you'd like to see covered by Date Smart, drop a line and let me know!!


Savvy Singles Magazine

The latest edition of Savvy Singles is now available! Find it at local hang outs, including King Soopers and Albertson's. Dr. Jenn writes the Ask the Dating Doctor column as well as a book review. Although as readers of Relation Smarts, you are already privy to the content I write, there are lots of other interesting, educational, and amusing articles in the magazine. Pick one up today. They are FREE!


Summer Sizzle Specials!

It's summer and now is the time to create the relationship of your dreams. Why not spark e a little summertime romance in your life? You deserve it!

Purchase a 6 pack of 45 min coaching calls and save! Normally priced at $270. Save $15 per call and pay only $180!

Complete the Relationship Readiness Inventory. Normally priced at $65. Save $20 and pay only $45.

Internet Dating Profile Creation. Save$$$.

Now through the end of August! Put some summer sizzle into your life!!


News: For Couples

Set Your Recorders there is a new relationship show: One Week To Save Your Marriage on TLC (The Learning Channel), Mondays at 10pm ET.

About couples on the brink of divorce who are willing to make one last ditch effort to save their marriage. Hosted by psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig.

See this link for more show info: One Week


*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.

Not interested in receiving RelationSmarts? Send us an Email with unsubscribe in the body of the message.