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Hope for struggling relationships by Robert Baohm
“The good news is that there is great hope for struggling relationships but you are going to have to take some action towards it. Just like time and money just doesn’t materialize itself, don’t expect a revival of your relationship to magically happen.”
Let’s face it, most of us don’t live fairy tale lives.
In fact, the harder we try to live up to the Hollywood image of some miraculous balance of work / sex / love / friends / family / rest / fitness / homemaker and / and / and … the more likely something is to break.
Most of us are restricted in how much energy we can ‘put out’ and we are all restricted by time so there’s always a cost trying to achieve this miracle fairy tale. With a high divorce rate in many modern Western countries (Sweden 55%, Australia and U.S. 46%, United Kingdom 43%, Canada 40% – Divorce Fact Sheet 2012) marriages are high up on the list of broken items.
Bit by bit, we let our two biggest relationships slide – the one we have with ourselves and the one we have with our partners. We go into a protective ‘shutdown mode’ to try and protect our time and energy. Everything seems to get in the way – kids, work, mortgage stress, time stress and at some point relationship stress now gets added to the top.
As we withdraw back in this protective mode the partners simply grow apart to the point where there is not much point in holding a marriage or relationship together.
The good news is that there is great hope for struggling relationships but you are going to have to take some action towards it. Just like time and money just doesn’t materialize itself, don’t expect a revival of your relationship to magically happen.
Now that we’ve established what you already know let’s take at a look at something you may not have considered – just as people can grow apart, they can grow back together. The common advice you hear is “spend more time together”. This is all well and good but the more the relationship is in trouble the more likely it is that this advice could actually backfire against you.
The real answer is that the partners have to go beyond the surface stuff, beyond the day to day ‘what happened at work’ and ‘kids sport’ and ‘there’s not enough money for the credit cards’. Both partners have to go deeper.
The more we learn about other people, the more we find out they are just like ourselves.
On the surface we appear different but deeper down we find commonality. We all have desire and fear, wants and needs and dreams. Put less effort into working on your differences (they will always be there) and go for the commonality but don’t stop at ‘we both like gardening’. Go deeper! Remember this formula depth = commonality, commonality = love.
Mmmmm….. lurve. You feel good, others feel good and as long as we aren’t hurting anybody it’s, well, all good.
Learn more at www.fastmarriagehelp.com
Gratitude and Relationships by Robert Baohm
Today let’s talk about how developing an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ will help improve our relationships.
“Gratitude is its own reward and it doesn’t need an outside influence. Even when things are looking bleak – ESPECIALLY when things are looking bleak – we need to find something to be grateful for.”
Firstly, consider this: Do you know any ungrateful children or ungrateful adults? It’s not a very attractive character trait is it? Do you want to hang around with ungrateful people? The answer of course is a resounding…
Now think about your partner, think about your children and finally think about yourself. Do you display gratefulness? Would you be more attractive to your partner if you were more grateful in general? Would your partner be more attractive to you? Would it be more pleasant and just plain easier with grateful children?
To be grateful is a very powerful and beneficial way of seeing the world. Why? It’s powerful because you feel good for what actually is. It’s powerful because you are making in-roads on wanting what you have – not eking out a life of hollow hope and expectations. It’s beneficial because it is the opposite of being miserable. It’s beneficial because you feel just plain good.
Gratitude is its own reward and it doesn’t need an outside influence. Even when things are looking bleak – ESPECIALLY when things are looking bleak – we need to find something to be grateful for.
It took a few years for the penny to drop and for me to really hear the message:
“Develop an Attitude of Gratitude”.
Here’s what we did…
So, this is what I instituted in my family. Firstly, I don’t tell them that they are ungrateful (or at least try not to!) which could reinforce the behavior. Instead, we have formed something of a habit of when we are all together at the dinner table (the only time we sit down together once a day), I will start off with “So, has anybody got anything they are grateful for today?”
Sometimes the process is a bit slow to get started (particularly if we are all a bit tired and cranky) so in these moments I’ll start off with what I’m grateful for and bring up two or three things. “I’m grateful for all this rain” or “I’m grateful that I only got a small cut in my finger from that circular saw – it could have been a lot worse!”
If the others are a bit slow to chime I give some prompts. I’ll say something like (to the eldest daughter) “… and you got off of school today because of that rain” and she will smile and shrug and pretend that it wasn’t a bonus. I’ll prompt the youngest daughter with something like “… and what about my boots filling up with water – that was funny!” and get a laugh from everybody. Then most if not all the family starts participating and offer what they are grateful for that day.
It’s a great, positive way to set the tone of conversation for dinner – not just watching the TV or bitching about our days at school or work or whatever. Better still, when the practice is kept up I’m often not the one to start off the ‘ritual’, my children or wife will beat me to it – the attitude of gratitude spreads and it feels good.
I’m not suggesting you HAVE to do the gratitude-at-dinner-time-ritual in your house. Find a way that suits your household and works for you. If it’s just you and your partner, don’t wait for dinner or any particular time of the day just tell them what it is about them that you are grateful for.
Keep in mind though that it may take a while to get everybody on board. Just be relaxed but persistent about it. You don’t really need to explain WHY you are doing it, most people will intuitively know why.
BECAUSE IT FEELS GOOD – and that’s what counts.
It hasn’t consumed the world’s resources and we aren’t hurting anybody else. In fact we don’t have to really make an effort or do anything at all. Just BEING grateful – that’s all! ‘Doing nothing’ and feeling better. Now I call that a win – win!
Learn more at www.fastmarriagehelp.com
Equanimity and relationships by Robert Baohm
Developing Equanimity (and how it improves relationships)!
“It takes time and persistence to stop making things into a problem. It has taken time to form those judgmental habits and it takes time to undo them. We need to be gentle with ourselves.”
In a previous article we looked at developing an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ with which we can bring the whole family in on. You feel good, they feel good – it’s all good and as long as we are not hurting anybody – feeling good is what counts. But of course there’s more and in this email we will be getting a bit more personal.
Your not reading this article to be my friend so I’m not going to beat around the bush. The TRUTH is…. The quickest way to improve your relationship is to improve yourself. You’ve been trying to change your partner haven’t you – wishing for it for years even, so why not change yourself and see what happens?
Let’s kick off with a well-known parable. It makes for a longer reading but I reckon it’s worth it…
Maybe, Maybe Not
Once there was a Chinese farmer who worked his poor farm together with his son and their horse. When the horse ran off one day, neighbors came to say, “How unfortunate for you!” The farmer replied, “Maybe, maybe not.”
When the horse returned, followed by a herd of wild horses, the neighbors gathered around and exclaimed, “What good luck for you!” The farmer stayed calm and replied, “Maybe, maybe not.”
While trying to tame one of wild horses, the farmer’s son fell, and broke his leg. He had to rest up and couldn’t help with the farm chores. “How sad for you,” the neighbors cried. “Maybe, maybe not,” said the farmer.
Shortly thereafter, a neighboring army threatened the farmer’s village. All the young men in the village were drafted to fight the invaders. Many died. But the farmer’s son had been left out of the fighting because of his broken leg. People said to the farmer, “What a good thing your son couldn’t fight!” “Maybe, maybe not,” was all the farmer would say.
So reader, now I want to expand on this in my own words.
This frenzied world never stops does it?
This is a pretty obvious statement but what is less obvious is that we are habitually, continually making judgments about the world around us. We judge this endless stream of activity and events as if there is some conclusion that will be reached. We make judgments as if we are God and that we have all the information required (and that includes looking forward into the future) to make our judgments. ‘That’s good. That’s bad. I’m right, they are wrong. I’m not worthy. That was unlucky.’
But, guess what, there is NO ultimate conclusion and you are not God and you don’t actually have all the information to act as judge, jury and executioner.
Given that this frenzied world will never stop (and that includes your partner maybe not changing in the way that you want them to), what would happen if you stopped playing God? What would happen if you looked at the world with curiosity and set your judgments aside? What happens if you adopted the attitude “You know what, I don’t actually have all the information to know how ‘that’ will work out.” What happens with this new attitude called equanimity?
Well, let me tell you what happens.
Nothing except a new found peace and joy. The world goes on like it was but YOU are equanimous and at peace. You are calm and composed. You are more pleasant to be around. Through the good times and bad times, winning or losing and people disagreeing with you, so what – you don’t get pushed ‘off-center’!
Take a deep breath and let it go. Take another deep breath and let it out with a sigh. Aaagh… That’s better. We are still ‘not doing anything’ but the world is a better place because under your equanimous gaze YOU are better.
This is not some license to opt out of life, sit on the couch and say “She’ll be right!” You still have to discipline the kids, you still have to stick up for yourself in a fight – but now you can do this stuff with less attachment to the outcome & more warmth in your heart.
Just like the old Chinese farmer, you don’t escape life where things happen – you just don’t make a problem out of what happens.
It takes time and persistence to stop making things into a problem. It has taken time to form those judgmental habits and it takes time to undo them. We need to be gentle with ourselves. When we are not gentle and loving and we are giving ourselves a hard time for not being equanimous we have lost our equanimity! Be equanimous about not being equanimous!!!
You move forward two steps and drop back a step and it can seem glacially slow. Most of us have a lot of old stuff to overcome. It’s just the way it is. Trying to go too far, too fast with too much effort is painful and ultimately holds us back.
Less effort, more progress – that’s very cool.
Learn more at www.fastmarriagehelp.com
Regain Your Personal Power by Robert Baohm
Because relationship improvement IS self improvement.
“Stop living in this dream world of a Hollywood-style-happily-forever-after-fairytale and you will live and breathe a reality and personal power most can only dream of.”
This is something of an extension on my last article on your internal peace and equanimity. This step in getting your relationship back on track is to regain your personal power. Hold onto your hat though, this one may hurt a bit but the big growth moments usually do, don’t they?
You’re waiting for something aren’t you?
Somewhere along the way we get these funny ideas about how life should be. It’s probably some Hollywood version of a successful career, marriage etc and that somehow you magically get to escape the bad stuff. Little stuff like car accidents, change, bad neighbors, grieving, retrenchment, disease, poor relationships, old age and death. “No, no” you say “that shouldn’t happen to me, I want my own version of reality, I’ll just work on that!”
Guess what. You don’t escape and this is not Hollywood. It. Just. Isn’t.
“I’ll be happy when my life matches my expectations” Is the same as “I’ll be happy tomorrow” and when does tomorrow come? NEVER.
We only ever suffer when life doesn’t match our Hollywood-esque expectations. Stop dreaming, scheming and fantasizing. Stop over-evaluating. Drop your expectations. These are just ideas in your head draining you of your energy.
Stop blaming others for how you feel. When you make others responsible for how you feel you are dis-empowering yourself. That’s right. You heard me; you are doing it to yourself! Take responsibility for how you feel and you will regain your power.
This is not a power to control others. It’s the power to make a clear choice. It’s the power to not be a ‘wallflower’. It’s the power to forge your own path. It’s the power to say “no”. It’s the power to say “I don’t need something from somebody else before I am happy”. It’s the power to say “I don’t need somebody else to BE a different way before I am happy”.
Go and look.
Go and take a few minutes and look at nature. Don’t think about it. Just look and listen and absorb it. What do you sense? There is a stillness and perfection is there not?
How is this so? There are insects and animals and people dying left, right and center, there are droughts, fires, floods, hurricanes, tough times, good times, and yet within a minute or two you can see the reality of the perfection of it all, everything pushing and pulling on each other. In great noise there is silence. In the action nothing is ‘done’.
Does this stillness and perfection match what’s been going on in your own head? Or have you been busy trying to make the world and others in it bow to your expectations?
Stop living in this dream world of a Hollywood-style-happily-forever-after-fairytale and you will live and breathe a reality and personal power most can only dream of. You will lose your fear. You will make clearer, quicker and more resolute decisions. You won’t have to judge others to make yourself feel good. You will be able to love and be loved.
What more can you ask?
I’m not suggesting that you hang around in emotionally or even physically abusive relationships. If you are in one, I want to you to have the power to say enough is enough. Make a decision to take action and get some help from counselors who really specialize in this area –but don’t stop learning from these articles though!
Learn more at www.fastmarriagehelp.com
Let’s Get Physical by Robert Baohm
A good relationship involves mind, spirit and BODY!
“You are made of mind, BODY and spirit. In these articles we are looking at all three. Ignore one of them at your peril.”
What you want is quality time with your partner and we looked at that in one of the earlier articles – remember the ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ and the gratitude-at-dinner-time-ritual?
Guys and gals, we all do it but sitting on the couch watching TV is NOT quality time so switch off the TV tonight and grab some playing cards or a board game or go and rip down that old vine that you have been putting off doing (everybody likes a bit of demolition work from time to time!)
These are obvious things to do but in this article I want to look at something which is a bit more physical which can bring you and your partner together and build on you feeling good.
And there’s the key word – physical – involving the body. You are made of mind, BODY and spirit. In these articles we are looking at all three. Ignore one of them at your peril. I’m not suggesting you becoming a fitness fanatic though as that would be taking away from the other two – we want to achieve a balance.
You have a body and it likes to move, to have those muscles stretched and pushed. It holds onto stress and needs to be cleaned of toxins and excess fat. All bodies need this, yours and your partners and your families, so here’s a crazy idea – why not do it together?
Go for a brisk walk, hit/kick a ball in the park, gym/dance/yoga classes, jogging, something, anything – the point is to get the heart and lungs pumping!
It’s much harder to be depressed and dislike your partner when you are physically active, just try and follow a few simple rules…..
Do it together – but you don’t have to be joined at the hip.
Try and get back to nature.
Keep it simple. Keep it fun.
Make it regular.
Keep the effort to a minimum – don’t run yourselves ragged with planning or over extend yourselves in your physical ability.
Be consistent and persistent.
Here’s what we did:
I started a 5km run (3 miles) with a group called Parkrun as I wasn’t really enjoying jogging by myself. After a few runs, I started taking my 11 year old with me. We walked/jogged at her level until she felt comfortable to do her own thing in the group. Not long after that my wife and 8 year old daughter got in on the act (sort of). But… the younger daughter only wants to ride her bike and my wife doesn’t want to run 5km.
As much as I’d like us all to be one big happy jogging family in our unity it hasn’t quite worked out that way – at least not yet. The youngest daughter and my wife do their bike riding thing and the eldest and I do our running thing but at least we go to the same starting point in the car together and meet together at the end. We are satisfied with our individual efforts and share our stories and have created some ‘common ground’.
It’s not perfect but it’s pretty damn good and we are building on it. The younger one is now better at riding her bike and we have started riding together as a family on occasion. I’m grateful that the children are forming healthy habits and my wife and I appreciate our respective efforts and the positive, proactive approach is an attractive thing.
Now, go and create your own story.
Bonus tip: Try Meetup.com for free/cheap things to do.
P.S. Let me do an about-flip and say that if you already spend a lot of time together the old saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder” can hold true. Go spend some significant time away from your partner – a weekend, a week or two weeks – but make sure it’s quality time. Don’t bring your un-fulfillment back into the relationship!
Learn more at www.fastmarriagehelp.com
Get The Sexy Back by Robert Baohm
Some no-nonsense tips on re-establishing some ‘naughtiness’ in the bedroom.
“…to be physiologically ready, in a good enough mood (in the mood) for sex we need to be physically and mentally relaxed. You could just wait and hope for that moment or you can tip the balance in your favor.”
In my last article I wrote that a holistic relationship solution uses mind, spirit and BODY.
We are going to continue the focus on the body but now utilizing it to make a physical connection. Yep, we are going to Get the Sexy Back.
It’s nice to be talking about and thinking about sex but if your sex life is non-existent we need to crawl before we walk before we run. So let’s discuss four simple ways of re-building physical intimacy…
Sounds too simple, yeah? If you have dropped out of the habit of giving your partner a hug, any time is a good time to get re-started.
2. Hold hands
Do you ever see elderly people holding hands in public and think “That’s so awesome, they must be doing something right!” Well they are, they are holding hands. Don’t ask for permission, just slip your hand into your partners as you are walking side by side. If you get a funny look from your partner, just smile back.
3. Give a foot rub
Giving foot rubs may earn you some serious brownies (don’t do it expecting a reward though) and it doesn’t take much effort. You even get to do it sitting down whilst watching TV – easy, eh?! Don’t ask if they want a foot rub as you want to minimize the opportunity for your partner to say no*. Pick your moment when you have both been sitting on the couch for a while, hold out you hand and just kindly say “C’mon, I’ll give you a foot rub”. Keep in mind that feet can be ticklish so err on the side of using a firm touch. *An outright no still has to be respected.
4. A massage
Let’s face it, modern living is stressful living and to be physiologically ready, in a good enough mood (in the mood) for sex we need to be physically and mentally relaxed. You could just wait and hope for that moment or you can tip the balance in your favor. I’m not a massage therapist so I’m not going to go into specifics on how to massage but I can definitely help get you on your way. We are not looking to fix sports injuries here, we just want the basics and I promise you, if your intention is good and your partner is open, the basics are more than enough! It’s not rocket science.
Get your partner to lay face down on the bed. Don’t get them to be fully naked at this stage as they may feel a little self-conscious and pushed. Besides, it takes some of the anticipation and build-up out of the equation!
Close the curtains and put on some relaxing music and make sure it is no louder than a whisper. Select what you think is best (for both you and your partner), create a playlist, set the volume and do all this before you start. Do a ‘trial run’ as messing around with music at this stage can be a mood killer. Also be wary of using YouTube and playing a set of tracks where they can insert those annoying ads!
• Use an oil. If you don’t have any don’t let that get in the way – just go for it! Oil will reduce the friction so it will be a little more pleasant for your partner and easier on your hands. Olive and grapeseed oils are good but whatever oil you use, use it sparingly, your partner doesn’t need to be swimming in it. You might also use a towel or old sheet on the bed if you don’t want to be prematurely washing the bed clothes.
• Get some ‘buy in’ from your partner. Don’t ask “What music do you want?” but ask “Do you like that or this (from your playlist)?” “Do you like this oil or that oil (if you have options)?” “Do you want me to start on your legs or back?” Even when the selection is limited, people appreciate being given choice.
• Pick the middle way. Don’t be too rough but don’t be too soft either. Your partner will more than likely tell you harder or softer so don’t be concerned if you have got this right.
• Be attentive. Keep all of your attention on your partner, even if there is no particular feedback from them.
• Above all be confident! Nothing is more attractive than confidence and nothing is a bigger turn off than anxiousness. And you will be confident after watching the videos of massage examples I’m suggesting. If you are not confident, pretend to be confident and watch the change.
• Don’t rush. Massage like you have all the time in the world. When you first start massaging though, you will likely be limited by your hands getting tired. If you can, go for at least 20 minutes.
• Start getting sexy. Again, don’t rush it. Towards the end you can start massaging over the top of the underwear. It’s logical then to push the underwear to one side to do a better massage. Start kissing and caressing but don’t rush. Then it’s logical to remove the underwear altogether and then…. and then…. I can leave the rest up to your imagination…
OK, so we’ve had a look at some of the ways on how we can break down the barriers to a physically fulfilling relationship. This won’t be enough though for many because there will be pent up emotional blockages that need to be ‘dealt’ with. We are on our way there so stay tuned for further installments as you continue to learn about some amazing ways to take control and repair your relationship bridge.
Bonus tip #1 : Don’t wait for tomorrow, it never comes. Put some of this stuff into practice today.
Bonus tip # 2: Have a look at some of the vids at www.fastmarriagehelp.com for massage tips and music examples. Some of them are trying to sell their stuff but I don’t know them from a bar of soap, have no affiliation and receive no money from them. These are just the best videos I could find.
The videos span very different genre’s so be sure to check them all out. Don’t dismiss them all if you don’t like the first few. (Content warning! A few of the massage vids are a bit raunchy and some Christian sensibilities may be challenged but I can’t help that 😉
Find out more at www.fastmarriagehelp.com
Being honest (in your relationship) by Robert Baohm
One of the major steps in getting your relationship back on track is to be ruthlessly honest – about YOURSELF.
“At higher levels, we are not even talking about change. We are talking about getting back to the power of reality. Who you really are, not who you think you are and not who you’d like to be.”
If you have read any of my previous articles you will know I’m a pretty straight shooter. This article is the toughest one out of the lot so I hope you will believe me when I say it’s also the most beneficial.
Don’t skip foward!! Do this exercise fully and just as I have laid it out. This will only have impact if you ‘put some skin in the game’…
• Work out what you know about yourself and make a list. Steal from this list the ones that apply to you and add your own…
Stressed, Unstoppable, Needy, Compassionate, Horny, Confused, Worn out, Suicidal, Caring, God fearing, Wanting more money, Bi/Lesbian/Gay, Unable to cope, Depressed, Uncomfortable with the financial situation, Generous, Distrusting of men, Driven to perform, Honest about myself, Dishonest, Easy going, Hard, Always striving, Discontent, Loving etc.
I am a…
Terrible cook, Great cook, Needy person, Anxious and insensitive lover, Noisy person to live with, Demanding parent, Controlling spouse, Supportive partner etc.
Disconnected, Scared, Unloved, Unlovable, Sick and tired, Ashamed of my past, Insecure in my relationship, Let down, Unheard, Misunderstood, Bored etc.
Lost interest in sex, A big spiritual ego, A hard heart, A gambling addiction, Forgotten what it’s like to feel good, A problem with over eating, Lost faith, An over bearing personality etc.
… and work on this diligently for at least 30 minutes before moving on. Don’t cheat as you will only be cheating yourself.
• Now go back and double check your list by giving each statement a truth rating. 0 is untrue and 10 is completely true.
• Don’t show anybody your list and add to it over the next few days as things come up.
• Double check your truth ratings. Did you catch yourself out in a lie? Did you end up rating ‘Honest’ as a 2?! Now you should put it down as ‘Dishonest’ and re-rate that.
• How’s your list looking? Looking at it now, I’m sure there are plenty of ‘negative’ things on there that you own up to and have a strong truth rating. What about the ‘positive’ items? Do they have a strong truth rating or are they a bit ‘fuzzy’ (say a rating of 5-7).
• Honestly assess who you take yourself to be and have a look at the way this manifests in the way you see the world and how you treat people.
• Notice the conflicts on the list. Sometimes you are this, sometimes you are equally the opposite.
This is called deep introspection.
In case you missed it, the point is this… Maybe you aren’t as innocent as you thought you were! Maybe you are equally contributing to your relationship problems as the other is. Maybe you are hard to live with certain personality traits. Maybe you have been judgmental and not very accepting of your partner even though you have been wanting acceptance from them! Maybe you haven’t been communicating very well. Maybe you are fearful of others judging you on your ‘faults’ and have put up a brick wall around your heart. Maybe you are not honest with your partner about who YOU are.
Remember, you need to be the change you want to see and if you can’t be honest with both yourself and your partner, your partner is unlikely to be honest with you. The truth will set you free.
Being honest about yourself leads to humility, humility leads to softness, softness leads to love.
Being honest about yourself leads to clarity. Clarity leads to freedom. This is not freedom from relationships (unless you are a recluse, but even they are not fully free from relationships – first and foremost the relationship they have with themselves) but freedom within your relationships.
At higher levels, we are not even talking about change. We are talking about getting back to the power of reality. Who you really are, not who you think you are and not who you’d like to be. It’s about operating with integrity and owning those parts of ourselves we aren’t too fond of. When we deeply acknowledge those parts we get back to what’s real and we become whole.
And it’s a wonderful place to be. The ‘wholeness’, clarity, contentment, fulfillment, freedom, no longer having to hide…. it’s such a massive relief it’s a REVELATION.
You’ve gone from expending energy which drags you and your partner down to gaining insight which lifts you both up.
Isn’t this what you really want?
P.S. Come and revisit your list say once a month for a reality check and amend it as necessary. It’s a bit like a journal – just less wordy.
Learn more at www.fastmarriagehelp.com