Pye Jirsa

  • Contempt in Relationships | Causes, Signs, and Solutions

    Contempt in relationships is not only destructive, it’s the single biggest predictor of relationship failure.

    It is a pervasive feeling of disrespect, anger, and disapproval that goes beyond just feeling frustrated with your partner. It’s also one of the most critical areas that we focus on when it comes to our 1:1 Coaching Clients. 

    In this article, we will explore the causes of contempt in relationships, the signs that indicate its presence, its effects, and solutions to prevent its spread. Oh, and while we’re going to speak mostly of marriage and partnerships within this article, what we’re about to discuss applies to ALL relationships.


    What is Contempt in Relationships?

    Side note, here’s the TWR Podcast episode on this topic if you’d prefer to watch/listen. Otherwise, you can keep reading the article below.

    Within our relationship framework, the key component of Desire or the “want” for ANY relationship is having a high sense of Regard for someone. Regard defines the healthy sense of respect and admiration that’s needed in order to feel Desire. Whether we’re talking about a friendship or romance, you’re going to struggle to maintain Desire when you have little or no Regard for the person.

    If you put Regard on a spectrum, on the right you’d have a high sense of Regard, in the middle you’d have little or no Regard, and on the extreme left you’d have contempt.

    Contempt goes beyond having no Regard for someone. Contempt is an actively toxic dislike and feeling of disrespect that’s centered around one’s anger and resentment toward someone. 

    It’s more than just feeling frustrated or angry with your partner. It’s a feeling of anger and resentment that applies to everything your partner has done, and everything they have yet to do.

    Per the Gottman Institute, contempt is the number one predictor of divorce. 

    We’d go further to say that contempt within any relationship is the number one predictor of relationship failure, period. Whether we’re talking about a long-term friendship or family relationship, it’s virtually impossible to maintain Desire or the want for a relationship when contempt exists.

    Where you feel contempt, you simply won’t WANT a relationship.

    This is why Regard sits at the top of our relationship framework as the key component of Desire. Because if Regard is damaged, lost, or replaced with contempt; it’s the first component of the relationship that must be repaired.

    What Does Contempt Look Like?

    Contempt can show up in a number of different ways.

    It’s crucial that you quickly identify these markers in order to immediately start working on repairing contempt before it festers and continues to damage the relationship.

    Here are some of the most common indicators of contempt within the context of marriage/partnership (although again, most of these markers apply to ALL relationships).

    Dismissive or belittling language

    • “You’re so dumb. Seriously, this is so simple, how do you not get it?”
    • “You’re such a slob, I can’t stand living with you.”
    • “You’re so lazy. I honestly don’t know how you manage to get anything done.”

    Sarcastic responses to questions

    • Partner A: “What are you doing later?”
    • Partner B: “Anything that’s not hanging out with you, haha.”
    • Partner A: “Can you please make sure you arrive on time to pick me up from work?”
    • Partner B: “Sure, I’ll arrive on time just so I can sit around and wait for you.”

    Jokes that are half-truths

    Someone asks the couple, “What do you guys do for work?” One responds, “I’m a doctor, and he works on spending my income full-time, haha!”

    Eye rolling, sneering, or dismissive body language

    Physical distance, feeling repulsed by touch and affection

    Stonewalling which includes:

    • Silent treatment
    • Walking out in the middle of a conversation
    • Shutting down emotionally
    • Ignoring the other person

    Criticism and blame

    • “All you do is complain, why can’t you be more positive?”
    • “You just sit around all day, why don’t you actually do something worthwhile.”

    If you see these markers, address them quickly!

    Because if not, they lead to a number of immediate consequences which we’ll discuss next.

    Effects of Contempt in Relationships

    The obvious effects of contempt are an immediate and ongoing deterioration of trust and intimacy. Within the relationship, contempt increases conflict, tension, and emotional disconnection. You of course also know how it leads to relationship failure (divorce, separation, etc).

    But here’s what you might not realize.

    Contempt is an internal poison that will negatively impact your mental and physical health.

    Contempt is the best indicator of an unhealthy relationship. From multiple points of clinical research, we now know that an unhealthy relationship can create a variety of health consequences including:

    • Anxiety and depression
    • High-stress levels
    • Insomnia and fatigue
    • Weakened immune system
    • Substance abuse
    • Eating disorders
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Chronic pain/inflammation

    If only it ended there.

    Dr. Gabor Mate wrote a beautiful book called, “When the Body Says No.”

    It’s a compilation of all the newer research and studies that are showing how stress, anxiety, and repressed emotions resurface in the body as long-term diseases and illnesses. This field of study is known as psychoneuroimmunology and it studies the connection between physical and mental health.

    Within the book, Dr. Mate cites study after study that demonstrates how our emotional state leads to autoimmune diseases like heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer.

    Guess what is one of the most significant factors in our emotional state?

    Our relationships!

    Guess what an unhealthy relationship filled with contempt creates?

    Chronic stress and anxiety!

    The effects of contempt are so far-reaching that it’s virtually impossible to overstate its consequences. Consequences that extend far beyond simply the relationship at hand.

    This then begs the question, what causes contempt?

    Causes of Contempt in Relationships

    Contempt can come from a number of factors.

    • Communication problems
    • Power struggles
    • Resentment
    • Lack of empathy
    • Unresolved conflicts
    • Disrespectful behavior
    • Etc

    But from our research and clinical experience we find that contempt is usually born of ONE specific thing…

    Contempt comes from a misalignment in Core Values.

    You have certain beliefs and values that are not only important to you, but also guide your behavior and decisions on a day-to-day basis. We call these Core Values.

    When someone acts in support of your Core Values, you gain Regard for them.

    When someone acts against your Core Values, you lose Regard for them.

    Here’s an example:

    Let’s say that one of your primary Core Values is what we call Kindness & Compassion. At your core, you believe that ALL of us deserve love and empathy.

    Now let’s say that you marry a man who’s charismatic and charming. In fact, one of the things you were attracted to most was his confidence and strength of resolve.

    With time though, you begin to realize that he’s most definitely not a kind person. You first noticed this during your engagement period, when he was kind of rude to people that he didn’t know. You brushed it off though thinking that with time he’d mature and change. Now that you’re married, if anything you notice that it seems to be getting worse.

    Each day his behavior forces you to lose a little bit of Regard for him.

    At a restaurant, he makes fun of the wait staff when they make a mistake. At home, he leaves his clothes and things around the house expecting that you’ll pick them up. Whenever he asks you to do something, there’s no empathy or understanding when it comes to your schedule. Throughout his behavior every day he’s showing you that he not only lacks kindness but also has little compassion or empathy for things outside of his world.

    These little daily disappointments add up. Day by day you lose a little more Regard until one day you realize that not only is your Regard lost, you have nothing but contempt left for this person.

    Yes, we do see clinical examples where contempt is created from specifically bad behavior.

    But more often than not, contempt is created over time through actions that betray our individual Core Values. What starts as a relationship that’s filled with healthy Regard is eventually eroded until nothing but contempt remains in its place.

    The solution? Aligning your Core Values!

    Solutions for Contempt in Relationships

    When it comes to looking for solutions to contempt, we divide the effort into two categories:

    Short-term solutions and long-term solutions.

    Short-term solutions are what we call “relationship triage.” This is the emergency work that’s necessary to just stop the bleeding. While in the process of coaching/therapy, couples in an unhealthy relationship will often tend to continue to damage their relationship. Our first goal, stop the bleeding. We need them to stop doing the very things that are damaging Regard or even worsening the contempt that they have for one another. In this short-term triage frame of mind, we’re looking to:

    • Improve communication
    • Practice empathy
    • Learn active listening
    • Show appreciation
    • Cultivate positive interactions

    However, none of these short-term solutions are real solutions. They’re more like bandaids or sutures that we can use to stop the bleeding. They don’t actually solve the underlying issues long-term.

    This means that if a couple is purely focused on empathy, communication, and other tools for conflict resolution; while they might experience some temporary relief, there will be no long-term change. 

    In short, this is one of the biggest reasons why relationship therapy tends to fail 85% of the couples it serves (Roesler, 2020). Because when it comes to counseling and therapy, most solutions tend to be symptom-oriented. This means that once therapy stops, the likelihood of relapse is extremely high since the underlying problems were never resolved.

    For us, once the “bleeding” has been stopped, we move immediately to long-term solutions. For TWR coaching programs there are three specific steps to this process:

    1. Understanding one’s attachment wounds
    2. Processing unresolved trauma
    3. Seeking to understand and align Core Values

    Steps one and two are about resolving past pains that are negatively affecting your relationships today. Step three is about understanding and aligning Core Values moving forward.

    We call this past/future model Core Value Focused Therapy, or CVFT. It’s what’s enabled our clients to finish TWR Coaching Programs with a 99% success/satisfaction rate.


    Contempt in relationships can be a destructive force, but it is not inescapable.

    By recognizing the causes, signs, and effects of contempt, and taking proactive steps to address it, couples can strengthen their relationship and create a positive and healthy environment for growth and intimacy. Remember that contempt is not just an emotion, it is a choice. By choosing to build a relationship based on aligned Core Values, couples can create a strong and enduring bond that can weather the challenges of life.

    If you’re in this space, we’d encourage you to sign up for a FREE 15-minute consult for 1:1 coaching.

    Regardless of what you might have tried in the past, our approach to relationship coaching will cut straight to the core of your relationship issues and goals.

  • What Makes Love Last? 8 Traits of Healthy Long-Term Relationships

    Here’s the magical question, “What makes love last?” What are the traits or characteristics of healthy long-term relationships?

    We’ve all asked this question.  But don’t lie. When we’re coming off the heels of a relationship gone terribly wrong, we’re not only asking, we’re desperately seeking answers. It makes sense. After all, relationship pain is some of the worst pain that we experience in life. We not only want to know what went wrong, but we also want to know what we should be looking out for in the future.

    So here it is…

    Here are 8 traits that you should look for when it comes to understanding what makes love last.

    ONE. Trust

    Trust is the cornerstone of a strong relationship. It involves having faith in your partner’s reliability, honesty, and intentions. Duh, we all know this.

    But here’s what we might not realize.

    We think that trust is all about commitment and good communication, and sure we could say that these are indeed pieces of trust. But let’s tie trust to something a little more simple and intuitive.

    When someone acts in alignment with your Core Values, you gain trust or what we call “Regard.” When someone acts against your Core Values, you lose trust or Regard for them.

    If we go back to our opening explanation, trust “involves having faith…”

    Trust is developed over time as a person demonstrates through actions that they’re going to behave in a way that’s in alignment with what we personally believe and value. Trust cannot be spoken into existence, it must develop with time and consistent behavior.

    Because of this, once trust is damaged or broken, it can be difficult or even near impossible to repair. This is why within our Crystal Clarity Coaching Program, relationship repair always begins with Regard because that’s where our trust is housed.

     TWO. Mutual Respect

    Since we’re speaking of Regard, we might as well talk about it’s two other pieces which are respect and admiration. Since they’re closely related, we’ll lump them both up into the idea of “respect.”

    Respect is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship. It involves valuing each other’s opinions, boundaries, and autonomy. Treating your partner with kindness, courtesy, and appreciation promotes a sense of equality and fosters a loving atmosphere. Again respect is tied to having an alignment in Core Values. Who this person is and what they believe is either something that you are or something that you’re aspiring to become.

    In the context of our relationship framework, we say that Regard is the KEY component of Desire. Because without Regard, it’s almost impossible to Desire or “want” to maintain a relationship.

    Regard defines the trust, respect, and admiration that’s critical to the pull or attraction that makes us want a relationship.

    Healthy long-term relationships have two people who each hold each other in high Regard.

     THREE. Alignment in Core Values

    Regard (trust, admiration, and respect) is tied directly to having an alignment in Core Values within the relationship. Let’s talk about what Core Value alignment looks like.

    When talking about what makes love last, what we see in a healthy relationship are two people that have a shared vision for their relationship and a similar outlook on the world around them. In other words, they share similar beliefs and values that drive their behavior.

    We call this Core Value alignment and here’s what it looks like…

    When two people’s Core Values align, they’re able to…

    • Feel a deep understanding of one another
    • Create a safe and open space for vulnerability
    • Communicate openly
    • Create a similar vision and goals for their life/relationship
    • See eye-to-eye, even in moments of conflict
    • Read between the lines, even when something isn’t communicated ideally
    • Anticipate one another’s needs

    When Core Values are misaligned, it’s the opposite…

    We grind against one another in small everyday interactions. We have a hard time understanding one another, even when we’re communicating in a careful and effective manner. Small issues become big issues. We also lack the ability to relate to one another’s perspectives or experiences.

    Again, when it comes to our approach to coaching, this is why Regard and Core Values are at the top of our relationship repair list. When a relationship is unhealthy, this is a big part of our focus.

    FOUR. Open Communication

    What makes love last is a couple that values open communication over merely effective communication.

    Effective communication is most definitely something we can and should work on over time. But open communication is more about communicating one thought and feelings authentically, even if we lack the tools or understanding to do it effectively.

    With a healthy relationship, both people value authenticity and transparency over HOW it’s communicated. Meaning they’d rather be completely open and honest with each other rather than worry about not saying something the “right way.”

    Again, creating a space for this type of vulnerability in communication requires that the top three characteristics are already in place. Without Regard and an alignment in Core Values, it’s impossible to have the trust and respect necessary to create a safe place for authentic conversation.

    FIVE. Relative Emotional Intelligence

    What makes love last is having “relative” emotional intelligence. Ok, so what do we mean by “relative?”

    When we look at a healthy long-term relationship, we see two people with a high degree of emotional intelligence RELATING to the other person. Meaning, it’s not important that others perceive them to have high EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) in general.

    What’s important is that they’re able to be self-aware enough to empathize within the context of each other and their relationship. 

    This trait is again developed through Regard and Core Value alignment. It’s also boosted by having shared interests that help improve the couple’s Relatability.

    SIX. Intimacy and Affection

    Intimacy is critical. But intimacy goes beyond physical affection and includes emotional and intellectual closeness. Maintaining intimacy involves nurturing a deep emotional bond, expressing love and affection regularly, and prioritizing quality time together.

    So why is it number 6 on our list?

    Well, it’s not because of its lack of importance. It’s because fostering true intimacy requires the five steps that came before it. 

    When it comes to what makes love last, in healthy long-term relationships we see a space where both people are comfortable and completely open about their love life. They’re able to communicate their wants, desires, and fantasies without the other person getting upset or jealous.

    SEVEN. Change & Growth

    Within a healthy long-term relationship, both people understand that they’re going to change and grow over time. Actually, let’s go further. They not only understand, but they also embrace and appreciate one another’s Change & Growth.

    Relationships face various challenges and changes over time. Being adaptable and flexible allows couples to navigate transitions, accommodate growth and development, and adjust to new circumstances together.

    On top of that, they recognize that it’s through Change & Growth that they’re able to grow together and provide their relationship with new experiences. Experiences that keep the relationship fresh and exciting.

    EIGHT. Friendship and Shared Interests

    When it comes to answering, “what makes love last” one of the biggest characteristics is a strong underlying friendship with shared interests.

    Because five or ten years into your marriage or partnership, your relationship is going to look a lot more like a friendship than it does a steamy hot sexcapade. Don’t worry, it’s possible to maintain passion but your connection is going to deepen.

    The best marriages are built around what basically equates to a strong friendship. Building a solid friendship involves enjoying each other’s company, sharing common interests, and having fun together.


    I know that this wasn’t necessarily a comprehensive guide of how you address or resolve issues in each of these areas. For that, we’d need a lot more time and would recommend that you step into Crystal Clarity or our One-on-One Coaching Waitlist.

    But in the meantime, at least this list gives you a fairly comprehensive set of characteristics of healthy relationships. It doesn’t tell you HOW, but it most certainly answers the question of “WHAT makes love last?”

    It serves as a guide that you can use to see what to look for in a new relationship, or where to focus your energy in an existing marriage or partnership.

  • Are Your Expectations in Relationships Realistic?

    Establishing realistic expectations for your relationships is absolutely crucial to their long-term success. But here’s the thing, how do you know whether your expectations in relationships are realistic?

    Let’s go through several key factors to help you understand and answer this question for yourself.

    You Tend to Get What You Expect

    Throughout our podcast and website, we’ve often referred to the findings of Dr. Donald Baucom (a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina)

    In one of his research projects that lasted over a decade, Dr. Baucom was studying marital expectations among couples. Want to know what he found?

    You tend to get what you expect in your relationships. 

    Meaning, if you have low expectations for yourself and others, you’ll tend to attract people who will live up to those standards. They’ll treat you poorly and because it lives up to your expectations in relationships, you’ll stick around thinking that it’s normal.

    On the other hand, if you have high (but realistic) expectations for yourself and others, you’re probably going to end up in relationships where you’re treated quite well. Because when someone doesn’t live up to your expectations in relationships, you’re going to have no problem bouncing!

    This kind of falls into the common sense bucket, doesn’t it?

    It’s why we say, “What you tell yourself matters.” Because whatever beliefs and expectations you have for yourself, that will become your reality. Your expectations in relationships are dictated by your self-perception and self-beliefs (whether they be positive or negative).

    Still, it’s nice seeing common sense be supported by evidence-based research.

    Maybe the next question should be, what should you expect?

    What Should You Expect in Relationships if You’re Single?

    If you’re currently single and you’ve found TWR, awesome!

    We’d say to identify your Core Values and the type of relationship that you want to create (this is what we do within our Coaching Programs). Then from that place, expect your partner to bring what you bring to the table. Maybe not exactly the same things, but values, traits, and characteristics that complement the life you want to create.

    What’s unrealistic is to expect that your future partner is going to be something that you are not.

    It’s not realistic to expect your partner to be…

    • Athletic and physically fit when you’re out of shape
    • Wealthy, when you’re struggling to pay the bills
    • Emotionally intelligent and vulnerable, when you’re closed off

    Once you’ve identified your Core Values, it’s realistic to find a partner who shares similar values and beliefs. Expect that in the areas where you differ, you’ll work together to become more aligned and understanding of one another.

    In other words, if you’re doing the work to better understand yourself, it’s reasonable to expect the same from your future partner.

    But now let’s go to the other side of this coin. What if you’re coming to this article and platform already in a committed relationship?

    What Should You Expect in Relationships if You’re Married?

    For those of you that found 12 Week Relationships after you got married or found commitment, our advice is a little different.

    Don’t worry, it’s not bad or scary, just different. (Oh and pssst, and welcome to TWR!)

    For all of you married folk, we’re going to start with this.

    Most of us lack the proper knowledge and tools to identify healthy relationships that are based on our Core Values. Instead, most of us (we’re talking 80% plus) are going to marry or commit to someone who complements our attachment wounds.

    And guess what?

    Most of those recurring issues and arguments in your relationship, they’re not communication issues, they’re attachment issues. 

    Because of this, we need to tailor expectations and understand that some problems have simple fixes, while others are not. Recurring arguments and conflict generally fit into that second category.

    If you’re in a committed relationship, it’s not realistic or reasonable to expect that you’re going to be fully aligned with your Core Values. Why? Because we didn’t know any better before we got married.

    We did the same thing everyone else does, we mistake attachment wounds for “chemistry” and marry the person that subconsciously reminds us of our childhood attachment wounds.

    What I’m getting at is that it’s OK to lower or reduce your expectations a bit. Don’t get us wrong. We’re not saying that you should be OK with any form of abuse (physical or emotional). Nor are we saying that you shouldn’t expect to have a fulfilling marriage.

    What we’re saying is that you need to give your relationship and your partner time. It’s realistic to expect that both of you are in it to win it. You’re right to want your partner to work with you to improve your relationship. But you’re not right to expect that everything is going to happen RIGHT AWAY!

    It’s not realistic to expect that you’re going to be what some might call a “power couple” by next month!

    It’s going to take time. With the right knowledge and coaching, you can see significant improvement in weeks. In fact, we guarantee couples in Crystal Clarity (our online coaching program) that they will strengthen their marriage or partnership within 12 weeks.

    But the process of growing together takes time. Set the appropriate expectations!

    “Solvable vs Unsolvable” Problems

    The Gottman Institute is a research organization that has done incredible work within the field of relationship science. It doesn’t necessarily mean we always agree with their findings or approach, but we most definitely respect them.

    On the subject of expecting that “all problems should be able to be solved,” they said this.

    “We should not expect to solve all our problems in the relationship, either. My Love Lab studies found that almost ⅔ of relationship conflict is perpetual.”

    What they’re talking about is the fact that the majority of recurring arguments are due to childhood attachment wounds. This is again because, without the proper knowledge, most of us choose our relationships subconsciously based on these attachment wounds.

    This is where we’d disagree, with a little asterisk.

    We agree that no relationship will ever be perfect, there’s always going to be some problems on the table.

    But from our clinical experience, we’ve found that most of these recurring conflicts are by-in-large repairable when three things are present:

    1. The couple is committed in good faith to putting in the work
    2. Each person takes ownership of their wounds/trauma as they work through them
    3. The couple works to understand and align Core Values over time

    We don’t agree with Gottman’s solution of “lowering expectations” or seeking a relationship that is simply “good enough.” Neither do we agree that the majority of these recurring arguments are things that can’t be resolved.


    When you’re dating, you should expect potential partners to bring what you bring to the relationship table.

    When you’re married, you should expect your spouse to treat you with love and kindness. You should also expect that they’re committed to making things work just like you are.

    But you should tailor your expectation when it comes to your timetable. Strengthening and repairing a relationship takes time, but it’s most certainly doable.

    We’d also say that it’s most definitely worth the effort.

  • What Makes a Power Couple? Exploring Qualities and Characteristics

    We love the term “power couple.” I’m hoping you can feel my sarcasm through these words. Ha! Look the term power couple is one that we commonly throw around to describe two people who seem accomplished, influential, and successful. Both within their relationship as well as outside of it.

    But in reality, many power couples are far from a good example of a healthy relationship. It’s just that we can’t quite see far enough under the well-disguised surface to recognize it.

    In this article, we’re going to explore eight characteristics and traits that we feel make a couple truly a power couple.

    Oh, and we’re going to use the term “power couple” quite a bit. So that I don’t vomit in the process of writing this article, let’s go ahead and create our own definition just to kick things off.

    Power Couple – A healthy relationship between two people who have genuine respect and love for one another. Their relationship is made powerful through an alignment in Core Values that creates a synergistic effect. Made simple, the sum of their relationship creates more than its parts could do separately.

    ONE. Power Couples are Aligned in their Core Values

    In our eyes, the first marker of a true power couple comes in having an aligned set of Core Values.

    Power couples have a shared vision for their relationship and their individual lives. They communicate openly about their dreams, aspirations, and goals, and actively support each other in achieving them. Their shared vision creates a sense of purpose and direction, driving them forward as a unified force.

    Aligning Core Values can be challenging, which is why we spend so much time on this subject within our Crystal Clarity coaching program. But once aligned, having a shared set of beliefs and values makes a couple truly powerful in their vision.

    TWO. Power Couples Have HIGH Regard

    We define “Regard” as the respect, admiration, and trust that pulls or attracts us to a particular relationship. Having high Regard is KEY to maintaining Desire or our want for a relationship for one simple reason…

    You’ll struggle to maintain the “want” or Desire for a relationship with a person that you don’t respect, admire, or trust. 

    Power couples have HIGH Regard for one another. They’re also extremely diligent to protect and strengthen that Regard over time. 

    This is why they employ healthy boundaries from any person or relationship that could threaten the relationship they have with their significant other. They know that once Regard has been lost (or even replaced with contempt), sometimes it can be impossible to repair.

    THREE. Open Communication > Effective Communication

    Power couples value open communication over effective communication. Because they are aligned in their Core Values, they can understand each other on a deeper level. They can relate to one another even when things aren’t communicated in the most ideal manner.

    Rather than worrying about HOW they might communicate, they place far more emphasis on making sure they main a space to OPENLY communicate. 

    They want one another to be completely open and transparent rather than worry about how they say something. They’re confident in their ability to relate to one another and read between the lines. They’re also confident in their ability to communicate and resolve issues should they arise.

    FOUR. Power Couples Have High EQ

    Within the relationship, power couples possess a high degree of emotional intelligence. They have a deep understanding of their own emotions and can empathize with their partner’s feelings.

    This enables them to navigate challenges with compassion, provide emotional support, and foster a safe and nurturing environment for growth. This level of emotional intelligence is often less to do with deliberate training or coaching, bur rather to do with their aligned Core Values.

    FIVE. They Value Individual Growth and Independence

    Power couples cherish the time that they spend together. But they also recognize the importance of individual growth and independence within the relationship. They encourage each other to pursue personal passions, interests, and self-development. By supporting individual growth, they bring new experiences and perspectives into their partnership, enhancing the overall dynamic.

    SIX. Power Couples Collaborate

    Power couples understand the power of collaboration and teamwork. They view their relationship as a partnership where both individuals actively contribute their strengths, skills, and resources. Together, they tackle challenges, make joint decisions, and celebrate shared achievements.

    Again, it’s their aligned Core Values that strengthen their ability to collaborate. In our opinion, this is best seen in moments of conflict.

    Within moments of conflict, a healthy couple with a strong connection will ALWAYS prioritize the relationship over their individual ego. Resolving conflict is not about discovering WHO was wrong, but rather HOW they’re going to move forward together.

    SEVEN. They Have a Growth Mindset

    Power couples have a growth mindset, constantly seeking opportunities to learn and grow both individually and as a couple. They invest in self-improvement, attend workshops or therapy, and engage in activities that foster personal and relational growth.

    This commitment to growth ensures that their relationship remains dynamic and resilient. It also provides each other with opportunities to learn and grow together within one another’s experiences.

    EIGHT. Power Couples Coregulate

    Not to be confused with “codependence,” coregulation refers to the mutual process by which individuals in a relationship regulate their emotions and achieve a state of emotional balance together. In the context of a power couple, coregulation plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and harmonious relationship dynamic.

    It’s through coregulation that the couple can help each other…

    • Be more emotionally aware
    • Practice active listening
    • Be vulnerable and supportive
    • Offer stress relief and calm one another
    • Seek better approaches to conflict resolution

    In short, both people know their areas of individual accountability. But because they place ego behind their relationship and shared Core Values, they can each offer support in areas where the other is weak.


    I feel like I could go on, but we’ll stop here for now.

    Meantime, I’ll simply say this.

    Just because other people or the media say they’re a “power couple” doesn’t mean that they are.

    Instead of looking outward to identify true power couples, work on creating this type of relationship for yourself.

  • 10 Ways to Rekindle Love and Passion Within a Marriage

    You’ve been married or together for years, maybe even decades. It’s natural to be asking the question, “How do we rekindle the love and passion we once had?”

    As my dad would say, let’s not beat around the bush.

    Let’s get straight into this one with 10 ways to rekindle love and passion within your marriage or partnership.

    ONE. It’s Not Just About More Effort!

    When things aren’t as exciting as they used to be, the most common advice you’re going to hear goes along the lines of “Try harder.”

    To rekindle your love and passion you just need to…

    “Do the things you used to do!”

    “Put more effort into the relationship.”

    “Go back to dating again.”

    Sure, some of this advice might contain half-truths. But even the half-truths are oversimplified and unactionable. But depending on your situation, sometimes this type of advice is just plain WRONG.

    When your relationship is by-in-large healthy, you can skip straight to putting in effort and trying new things which we’ll list out in Tips 3-10.

    But when you’re relationship is not in a healthy or stable place, putting in more effort or even spending more time together can end up destroying the relationship that much quicker.

    In trying to rekindle love, you’re going to end up destroying it.

    For this reason, Tip #02 is to do a Regard check first!

    TWO. Repair Regard First!

    Within our caching program Crystal Clarity Online we ask clients to first check in on their sense of Regard for one another.

    Regard is the KEY component of Desire.

    Meaning your want or Desire for a relationship is dependent on having a high sense of Regard for your partner.

    So, what is Regard?

    Regard encompasses the trust, respect, and admiration that attracts you toward a relationship.

    It’s as critical to the feeling of romantic attraction, as it is to the basic want for any friendship or relationship.

    Because the truth is this…

    It’s virtually impossible to want a relationship with someone you don’t trust, respect, or admire. 

    In marriage, what often happens is that our Regard for one another is slowly eroded over the years. We lose our sense of trust and respect for one another. Then one day we wake up and think to ourselves…

    “I know that I should work on my marriage, but why is it that I don’t WANT to work on my marriage? Why is it that I have no desire for this relationship?”

    Such a feeling might even make you feel guilty for thinking it, but that doesn’t stop it from being a true and accurate representation of what you’re feeling.

    This feeling comes from the loss of Regard, and it’s further exaggerated when your Regard has been replaced with contempt.

    In these moments, before we can look to rekindle love or passion, we have to repair our sense of Regard.

    Repairing Regard goes far beyond the scope of an article. For this, we’d recommend joining our Crystal Clarity Online or our One-on-One coaching programs.

    But understand this simple truth.

    When Regard is lost, putting more effort and time into a relationship will only speed up its demise. 

    It’s like running a broken engine even harder, thinking that by doing so it will naturally fix itself.

    THREE. Rekindle Love by Nurturing Emotional Intimacy

    The next few tips are going to be about sexual intimacy. You know, the fun stuff!

    But intimacy isn’t just about physical connection; it encompasses emotional closeness too.

    When it comes to rekindling love and passion, we’d argue that emotional intimacy is the precursor to a good sexual connection. 

    Dedicate quality time to talk and truly listen to one another. Share your thoughts, fears, and dreams. Emotional intimacy acts as the foundation for a passionate and fulfilling relationship.

    Both of you should be able to truly relate to one another by understanding and aligning Core Values. Again, this is something we spend quite a bit of time helping couples to do within our coaching programs.

    Because when you’re emotionally connected, creating a space to explore sexual desires becomes far more simple and organic.

    FOUR. Communicate Your DEEPEST Desires!

    Goodness, this one sounds terrifying, doesn’t it?

    Start by having an open and honest conversation with your partner about your desires and fantasies. Encourage them to do the same. Understanding each other’s needs and wants can create an intimate space where you can explore new adventures together.

    And think of it this way.

    If you can’t create a safe space for such a conversation, then aren’t there bigger relationship issues to fry?

    FIVE. Explore Your Sexual Desires

    Once you’ve communicated your sexual desires, it’s time to do something even more terrifying…

    Start exploring them! Haha!

    As long as it’s safe, legal, and consensual you can’t really go wrong. Maybe it’s new positions, maybe it’s sex in a different place. Try it once and if you don’t like it, don’t do it again.

    SIX. Foreplay Starts Long Before Sex!

    I want you to think back to when the relationship was new. Before sex, weren’t you often flirting and talking about sex?


    You were leaving little love notes around for one another. You were maybe sexting and sending randy little text messages back and forth. Before each time you had sex, you were playing and flirting with one another.

    You don’t need to do the same things you used to do, but we do want you to start flirting and engaging throughout the day.

    SEVEN. Allow for Sexual Tension

    This one might sound a bit strange.

    You’re going to allow for sexual tension to build by not engaging in sex or sexual activities. 

    This includes pornography! Meaning if one partner is engaged with pornography, it becomes difficult if not impossible to allow sexual tension to build.

    Rather than engaging in sex every single time one person feels like it, start creating a little anticipation. Take your time engaging in flirting and foreplay, then once the anticipation has built have at it!

    Allowing for sexual tension is a simple yet powerful way of enhancing passion through the anticipation of the event.

    EIGHT. Rekindle Love via Risk!

    One of the components of our relationship framework is Risk. Risk defines the possibility of an unwanted outcome and while that sounds scary, it’s what makes something feel adventurous and exciting.

    While we’re OK with unknowns in a new relationship, we struggle with it over time. It’s why over time we tend to fill our relationships with routine because there’s comfort in what’s known.

    But what’s routine, by definition, can’t be exciting and adventurous.

    So what does this mean?

    Well, we’d say ditch advice like “go back and do the things you used to do” or “make sure you’re doing date night every Friday.” Regular date nights are a wonderful thing. But there’s something more important than doing date night every week at the same time.

    Date nights should consist of things you’ve never done before!

    Rather than go back to the things you used to do, you should be exploring new experiences you’ve never shared with each other. And don’t worry, even when things go wrong, you’ll be left with an incredible experience and story to share with each other.

    NINE. Touch Doesn’t Have to be Sex

    Focus on being affectionate and touching each other without engaging in sex. Being intimate is not just about sexual intimacy.

    Give your partner a massage. Hold each other in a tight embrace. Even the simple act of holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes for an extended period of time is shown to improve connection.

    Even if you’re not a “touchy feely” person, bring back touch outside of the bedroom.

    TEN. Prioritize Quality Time

    We define quality time as “meaningfully engaging activities.”

    This means that quality time is less about the specific activity, and more about what you find meaningfully engaging as a couple.

    Make time for each other on a regular basis. 

    This one sounds incredibly simple, and yet those with children and busy work schedules can attest to just how difficult it is.

    Regardless, make time for each other. When you do, don’t allow that time to pass sitting silently watching a movie, or having yet another quiet dinner at the same restaurant eating the same food.

    Spend time together doing things that allow you both to be present and meaningfully engaged.

  • WHY Do I KEEP Thinking About My Ex!?

    It’s been months, maybe even years. You’re in a new relationship… and yet… You keep thinking about your ex! WHY?

    Well, there are a number of reasons for this and it doesn’t necessarily mean your new relationship is doomed.

    Let’s talk about some of the common reasons why you’re still hung up thinking about an ex.

    You Never Got “Closure”

    When a relationship ends, there are often unresolved issues, conflicts, or unfinished business still left on the table. In these moments, we’ll often think or say things like…

    “You know, we just never got closure.” or “There was so much left unsaid.”

    Yes, we need closure. But our critical error in this process is thinking that “closure” has anything to do with the other person.

    In reality, the only person you need for closure is YOU. 

    Let’s discuss how by talking about the two things that we’re typically seeking when we’re looking for closure.

    ONE. We’re often stuck in our frustration of not expressing all the things that we wanted to say. 

    We want an opportunity to say, no to scream, “Dude! This ended because of you! Because of all of the insane things that you did that I just sat there and took!”

    But here’s the thing.

    Yelling at them does nothing for you. You’re still going to be left with all of your leftover anger and resentment. On top of that, if they’re as big of a jerk as you remember them to be, nothing you say will matter to them anyway. In fact, they’ll likely just brush off or deny everything you say, thus making you that much more angry.

    TWO. We’re often stuck because we want to hear what we did wrong. We want an explanation, “Why did it end?”

    When it comes to “why did it end.” What could they possibly say that would make you feel better?

    Let’s say they list out every single thing you did wrong in the relationship, is that going to truly help you grow, or just make you feel like shit? What if they say, “it wasn’t you, it was me?” Wouldn’t that just end up driving you even more crazy?

    Your closure lies within yourself.

    Even if they were a jerk, we must accept that we chose that relationship for a reason. Your closure comes in figuring out WHY.

    And when it comes to “why did it end?” You can provide closure for yourself here with the right knowledge and understanding.

    Both of these questions are things that we help clients to understand and resolve within our coaching program Crystal Clarity Online.

    Next, let’s talk about grief and loss.

    Mourning the Relationship

    Sometimes you might keep thinking about your ex because you never gave yourself time to mourn the loss of the relationship.

    The end of a relationship can result in feelings of grief and loss that are similar to the process of losing a loved one.  We might think about our exes as a way of processing emotions and adjusting to our life without them.

    This is completely natural. Necessary even.

    When we move from one relationship to the next without giving ourselves time to process the loss of a relationship, we kick our can of grieving down the road.

    This is not only unfair to the person in our next relationship, it’s not fair to ourselves either. Because it’s difficult to give your next relationship the attention it deserves when your mind is still stuck processing and grieving over the past.

    Along these same lines, there’s the emotional attachment.

    Emotional Attachment to Your Ex

    Another reason you keep thinking about your ex is because of your emotional attachment to them. Right after your relationship ends, your body is still flooded with chemicals. All of the pain and feel-good chemicals of love are still in your mind and body.

    One of the biggest mistakes that we make is entering another relationship without giving ourselves time for our bodies to get back to a state of chemical balance.

    At a minimum, this is 30 days. But depending on the relationship, it can take longer. Again, moving on to date another person too quickly means that we’re going to pull our prior emotional attachment into the next relationship.

    Just like grieving the loss of our relationship, we also need to give our mind and body time to reset from the emotional attachment of our prior relationship.

    Attachment Bonds with Your Ex

    Ok, this is a big one.

    You’ll often think back to the “euphoric” highs of your relationship with your ex because it triggered your attachment wounds. In fact, if you’re currently in a healthy relationship, you might feel as though your current relationship is boring or lacks excitement.

    In our coaching program Crystal Clarity Online, one of our major focuses is to help clients understand the nature of healthy versus unhealthy relationship dynamics. We want our clients to choose relationships based on their values rather than based on their past pains.

    Want to know why?

    Because somewhere around 80% of the romantic relationships we create are based on our attachment wounds. 

    Meaning that feeling of excitement and euphoria, it’s not “chemistry.” It’s actually your old attachment wounds that are coming to the surface and giving you a sense of “familiarity” within a new relationship. Put another way, this person standing in front of you is subconsciously reminding you of your childhood experiences. Only you’re not interpreting it this way.

    When new relationships complement our attachment wounds it feels like fate or that it was “meant to be.” We feel like this other person completes us or fills our gaps.

    As we step into the relationship, we jump into an unhealthy dynamic filled with incredible highs followed by equally as incredible lows. The emotional rollercoaster ride is creating a chemical cocktail that’s influencing you just like a drug addiction.

    This means that when you finally end the relationship, you’ll not only go through a period of withdrawal, but you’ll also crave or even miss that past relationship. You might even compare it to your current relationship and think that this new relationship just, “lacks passion and excitement.”

    But your new relationship isn’t boring. It doesn’t lack chemistry. It’s simply healthy.

    When you miss your ex because of the excitement and highs of the relationship, you must remind yourself that those highs were the result of a toxic relationship dynamic.

    There’s nothing healthy to be had there.

    Nostalgia and Reminiscing

    There’s also the possibility that you’re thinking about an ex because it was genuinely a good relationship filled with positive memories.

    This is completely natural.

    But here’s the thing with the past. For some reason, our past is always more interesting, positive, and memorable than our present. This makes the past a terrible comparison to your current relationship.

    The reason I say this is that there are two common experiences that will often trigger our nostalgia.

    ONE. You do something in your current relationship that reminds you of a positive memory with your ex.

    TWO. You’re struggling in your current relationship and that’s making you think of the past, or even compare your relationship with your ex.

    In both cases, we need to allow our memories to remain in our past and here’s why…

    For some reason, we tend to look back to nostalgic moments with more fondness than we have for present-day experiences. The pain of the past fades, and what’s left are memories that always tend to be more fun, interesting, and memorable.

    This makes your past relationships a terrible comparison point for your current relationship. Your current relationship should be evaluated on its own merit, not compared to a partial view of an ex.

    If your current relationship is by-in-large healthy, then the solution to remaining about an ex is creating new memories with your partner today. You can’t compare a relationship with an ex that has a deep history to one that lacks a similar depth of experience. Stay present and work on creating those experiences and watering your current relationship.

    If your current relationship is by-in-large unhealthy, you don’t need to be reminiscing about positive memories with an ex. You need to be figuring out of the relationship can be repaired or not. In either case, your time and energy need to be in the present rather than thinking about an ex.


    It’s normal to think about an ex.

    But it’s also worth studying WHY you might be thinking about that past relationship.

    In some cases, your nostalgia will be benign.

    But in others, it might just point you to areas of personal healing that are worth a bit of exploration.

  • Five Ways to Build a Strong Emotional Bank Account

    It was back in college when I read “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” where author Stephen R. Covey introduced the concept of the “emotional bank account.”

    It was a brilliant metaphor.

    Imagine your relationship is like a bank account where deposits and withdrawals shape its balance. Just as we strive to accumulate wealth, it’s essential to nurture an emotionally wealthy bank account between spouses.

    For the purpose of keeping this article simple and relatable, we’re going to speak from the perspective of a romantic couple. But we’d say that the concept of an emotional bank account extends far beyond romance and marriage. This concept applies to every long-term relationship that we create.

    Let’s dive in…

    Defining Your Emotional Bank Account

    Think of your emotional bank account as a reflection of the respect, trust, and goodwill within your relationship.

    Within the Super-Simple Relationship Method, the framework we developed for relationship coaching, we have a component that represents your emotional bank account.

    We call it Regard.

    Regard defines the trust, admiration, and respect that pulls you toward a relationship. Made simple, if you don’t trust or respect someone, you’re unlikely to have the Desire to maintain a relationship with them. 

    It would be fair to say that Regard represents your emotional bank account. We’ll come back to the concept of Regard in a bit, for now let’s continue defining the emotional bank account.

    Just like a financial bank account, a healthy bank balance requires more deposits than withdrawals.

    Within our emotional bank account, deposits come in the way of positive interactions, acts of kindness, and actions that demonstrate an alignment in Core Values. Withdrawals come in the way of negative interactions, self-serving behavior, and actions that demonstrate a misalignment in Core Values.

    Let’s look at some examples of these.

    Deposits to Your Emotional Bank Account

    In a marriage, deposits to your emotional bank account include ALL of your positive everyday interactions. For example…

    • Offering emotional support after a hard day
    • Invitations to spend time together
    • Heartfelt compliments or praise
    • Surprise activities or date nights
    • Simple acts of kindness

    But you can see how this concept extends outside of marriage and romance right?

    I want you to think of a close friend or family member. Not a relationship that you feel “obligated” to maintain, but rather someone who you genuinely enjoy spending time with.

    Arent you both looking for ways to serve the relationship? You invite each other out. You call each other to catch up. You’re there to support one another.

    These are all deposits that boost the positive balance of your emotional bank account.

    Now let’s go to the other side, let’s talk about withdrawals.

    Withdrawals from Your Emotional Bank Account

    Withdrawals from your emotional bank account include ALL of your negative everyday interactions. For example…

    • Disagreements and significant conflict
    • Moments of frustration and anger
    • Not making time for your significant other
    • Minimizing the experiences of your spouse
    • Failing to listen and empathize
    • Apologies that lack sincerity

    In short, anytime we’re acting against the best interest of the relationship, we’re taking a withdrawal from our emotional bank account.

    Once again, this happens in all of our close relationships, doesn’t it?

    Your friend betrays you and never takes ownership of their action. Your family member continuously steps over your boundaries whenever they need something. These are all significant withdrawals to a relationship’s emotional bank account.

    The next question is what happens when the withdrawals exceed your deposits?

    Maintaining a Negative Balance

    If your bank account held a consistently negative account balance, the bank would simply close out your account.

    Thinking of our relationships, it’s normal to go through periods where we have more withdrawals than deposits. During these so-called “relationship storms” our emotional bank account might even be in the red for a time.

    But this is NOT sustainable long term!

    Just like the bank, it’s impossible to maintain a relationship that consistently withdraws more than it deposits in return.

    Correction. It is possible to maintain a one-sided relationship where withdrawals consistently exceed deposits. But it’s going to come at the cost of your own physical, mental, and emotional health.

    Now let’s bring this back home to the concept of Regard.

    Regard, Your Emotional Bank Account

    Earlier, I mentioned that your Regard for someone is a great representation of your emotional bank account.

    Let me explain why.

    Within the context of our coaching program Crystal Clarity, we help clients understand and implement the SSRM (Super-Simple Relationship Method). You can think of it as a framework that answers the question, “What does a healthy relationship look like.”

    Inside of the SSRM is the concept of Desire (hence why I’ve capitalized Desire throughout this article). Desire is your want for a relationship, ANY relationship.

    The KEY to maintaining Desire is healthy Regard. 

    Meaning, you’re going to struggle to maintain your Desire for a relationship with someone that you don’t hold in high Regard. After all, how do you want a relationship with someone that you don’t trust, respect, or admire?

    We tie Regard closely to the idea of “attraction” because it’s hard to be attracted to someone that you don’t respect, even when they’re physically attractive. And by the same token, it’s hard to want ANY relationship with a person that you don’t hold in high Regard.

    I say all of this because I want to bring it back home to the concept of the emotional bank account.

    Every time your spouse (or someone close to you) acts against your best interests and values, YOU LOSE REGARD. Withdrawals erode the Regard you have for someone. With enough withdrawals, your sense of Regard can be damaged beyond repair, or even worse, replaced with contempt.

    In that place, your emotional bank account is so far in the negative that you’ll simply want nothing more to do with this person.

    Without Regard, you’ll have no Desire to maintain a particular relationship. Knowing that withdrawals are affecting your Regard, it’s critical we focus on making deposits. But how many deposits do we need to be making to keep a relationship healthy?

    What’s a Healthy Ratio?

    Knowing the importance now of maintaining a healthy emotional bank account you might be wondering, “What’s the appropriate ratio of deposits to withdrawals?”

    The Gottman Institute conducted research on this saying that a couple needs at least 5:1 positive to negative interactions. Five deposits for every withdrawal. They went on further to say that the best relationships had a ratio closer to 20:1.

    That said, we think that specific numbers might detract a bit from the overall purpose. There are two things here that are important to understand, the first is simple.

    ONE. You need far more deposits than withdrawals.

    In order for a relationship to remain healthy, it needs far more positive interactions than negative interactions. Trying to put a number on these interactions is a bit of a moot point since each interaction is different in its weight or magnitude. Instead, just think of it this way. In order for a relationship to remain healthy, it needs to provide a synergistic benefit to both people. Maintaining the relationship is providing both people with far more emotional benefits than it is cost.

    SECOND. Negative interactions are far more memorable than positive ones.

    We have to recognize that our brains are hardwired to place far more weight on a negative interaction than a positive one. Because it’s so easy to focus on negative interactions, we need positive interactions to far outweigh them.

    In short, put your focus on MAKING DEPOSITS!


    If you want to maintain a healthy long-term relationship, both people in the relationship should focus their efforts on making frequent daily deposits into their emotional bank account.

    This is how two people can strengthen the Regard they have for one another, which in turn increases their Desire to maintain the relationship!

  • What is the Purpose of Marriage?

    What is the purpose of marriage?

    Is it to find your “soul mate” or your “other half?”

    Is it to find fulfillment or to “make you happy?”

    We all have different ideas when it comes to the purpose of marriage, in this article we wanted to share some of our thoughts with you.

    First, why don’t we look at the topic from a historical perspective…

    The Purpose of Marriage Historically

    Marriage from a historical perspective looks nothing like its modern-day variant. Historically, marriage was by in large a vehicle for strengthening one’s social and economic standing.

    Marriage provided a stable environment for raising children, maintaining a household, and improving survivability. It was also a means of creating social and community cohesion. Marriage served as a mechanism to bring families and communities together through shared celebrations, rituals, and traditions. From a religious or spiritual standpoint, for many cultures marriage also represented a sacred union that was blessed by deities or higher powers.

    The purpose of marriage from a business or economic standpoint could be argued as being even more significant.

    Economically, marriage was a means to preserve wealth and build alliances. The purpose of marriage was to improve one’s social status and family lineage. Marriage was often used as a tool to create alliances between countries, partnerships between businesses, and friends of once enemies.

    Our point is this…

    Historically, couples never expected their marriage to be “fulfilling” or a source of “happiness” until reason years. In fact, love and companionship have only become an important aspect of marriage within the past few hundred years or so.

    So what does the purpose of marriage look like today?

    The Purpose of Marriage Today

    In contrast to our historical view of marriage, today we expect our partners to make us feel complete, and we expect marriage to be our place for happiness and fulfillment.

    Emotional connection and companionship are paramount…

    Marriage is not only support to be the place to create a family, it’s supposed to be the structure that provides us with everything we seem to be missing.

    Within marriage, we expect to have…

    • A best friend in our partner
    • Passion, emotional, and physical intimacy
    • A partner in our family/business obligations
    • Collaboration and emotional support
    • Legal and financial benefits
    • Personal growth and self-actualization

    Historically, we relied on a number of relationships to support our emotional and developmental needs. Today, many of us expect all of this to come from our marriage or partnership.

    If you don’t mind, we’d like to share our perspective.

    The Five Purposes of Marriage

    Ultimately, you’re going to have to decide the purpose and meaning of marriage for yourself.

    That said, as relationship coaches (with 40 years of combined experience) we do believe that marriage or long-term relationships have five universal purposes.

    Meaning that in addition to the purpose you assign to marriage, our long-term relationships help all of us enhance our human experience in FIVE primary ways. Oh, and just so we can keep this semantically simple when we say “marriage” you can insert any long-term romantic relationship in its place.

    The purpose of marriage is to…

    1. Provide us with a vehicle for personal growth and healing
    2. Help us find the deepest form of connection/intimacy
    3. Create a life with unique meaning and purpose
    4. Enhance a life that you have already come to love
    5. Add to your spiritual/religious experience and journey

    Within our coaching programs like Crystal Clarity Online, these are exactly what we help our clients to understand and achieve.

    Let’s discuss each of these concepts.

    One. Marriage is a Vehicle for Growth and Healing

    In and of itself, marriage will not heal you or “make you whole.”

    Quite the contrary actually.

    Marriage creates a level of intimacy that tends to reveal all of our wounds and flaws. The problem is that you and I tend to push or project these problems onto the relationship when in reality they’re problems to be resolved at an individual level.

    Sure, we should serve one another in marriage. But it’s our responsibility to keep ourselves happy.

    Yes, we can be sensitive to one another’s wounds and triggers. But it’s our individual responsibility to heal those underlying pains. This is a concept that we’ve specifically discussed in this article, “How Do I Stop Being Triggered?”

    Marriage, or more accurately the level of intimacy experienced within marriage, acts as a giant road sign that’s continually pointing us toward opportunities for growth and healing.

    But we have to recognize these road signs for what they are…

    Opportunities to look within, rather than try to criticize or seek solutions outside of ourselves.

    In this way, marriage is a vehicle that can provide us with opportunities to heal and grow in ways that no other relationship can.

    Two. Help us Find the Deepest Form of Connection/Intimacy

    The level of connection and intimacy that can be experienced within marriage is like no other.

    Obviously, physical intimacy is a big contributor to this. But beyond intimacy, the proximity and time spent with a spouse is unlike any other relationship we’ll experience.

    This means that marriage provides us with the unique opportunity of experiencing connection and intimacy in a way that no other relationship in our lives can provide. But enjoying that benefit and opportunity will require us to deal with our individual attachment wounds and traumas that often have us fearing such intimacy.

    Again, this brings us back to Purpose #01.

    When our underlying wounds prevent us from opening up and being vulnerable, we’re pointed back to an area where healing is required.

    Three. Create a Life of Meaning and Purpose

    Once again, marriage is a vehicle to create a life of meaning and purpose that you define for yourself. This is going to look different from one person to the next.

    You might find meaning and joy in creating a family and raising children.

    Whereas I might find meaning and joy in traveling and running a business together with my spouse.

    Like anything that’s meaningful in life, marriage is going to be difficult and challenging. At times it might even be painful (although this is not a requirement). But in general, “difficult” is a requirement of meaning and purpose.

    Things that are meaningful and worth celebrating in life are by definition difficult.

    It’s why we celebrate graduating from University.

    It’s why becoming a Doctor or Lawyer holds significance.

    And it’s also why creating a successful marriage and family life is something to be cherished from the inside, and admired from the outside.

    Four. Enhance a Life You Already Love

    A lot of us look at marriage as a destination.

    We think of marriage as that final act that will help “complete” our lives and create fulfillment in and of itself.

    In reality, marriage will do nothing other than enhance the life you’ve already created.

    Sure, you finding a partner might temporarily make you feel complete or “happy.” But after the honeymoon phase of the relationship has come and gone, you’re life will still be your life.

    This means that if you’re not in love with the life you have before marriage, you most certainly won’t appreciate the life you’ve created after marriage. Contrary to popular belief, marriage doesn’t solve anything in and of itself. In fact, in cases of an unhealthy marriage, it will actually add to your problem set in life.

    On the flip side, if you enjoy your life and what you do before marriage, you’ll find that having a partner and a healthy marriage will make everything you do that much more meaningful.

    With your partner, you’ll…

    • Celebrate your wins as well as mourn your losses.
    • Share ideas and relate to one another’s unique perspectives.
    • Enhance each of your experiences with a companion who understands you at your core.

    But marriage in and of itself is not going to be the destination, nor will it be the fix for a life we feel is “missing something.”

    Five. Add to Your Spiritual/Religious Journey

    For many, marriage is the final piece (or a significant step) in one’s spiritual or religious journey.

    Within many religions, it’s believed that it’s through marriage that one attains the ultimate levels of enlightenment.

    Regardless of what your beliefs on this subject might be, marriage can be an incredible experience for couples that share similar underlying beliefs. But to enjoy this benefit, a couple needs to ensure that they both share the same underlying Core Value driving their belief system.

    For example, let’s say that you’re Mormon.

    In order for you to enjoy the benefit of sharing in your religious/spiritual journey, you’d both need to be Mormon for the same underlying reasons. These “underlying reasons” are your actual Core Values and it’s what enables you to see eye-to-eye.

    For example…

    Let’s say you’re Mormon because you genuinely believe it’s a path for you to get closer to God.

    On the other hand, your spouse is Mormon because their family was Mormon and that’s where their friends and social network are as well.

    Despite belonging to the same religion, you don’t share the same underlying Core Values. This means that the experience each of you shares within day-to-day activities is not going to be something that you both can relate to.

    Within this situation, you’re likely to get frustrated at your spouse for not paying attention at church, or not taking their religious studies seriously. On the other hand, they’re likely to be frustrated at you for being too serious about what they simply view as “tradition.”

    Despite the fact that both of you are Mormon, you will not see eye-to-eye on spiritual experiences and religious matters.

    So again, to yield this benefit of marriage, couples need to ensure that their spiritual/religious beliefs are driven by the same underlying Core Values. Assuming they are, marriage can be a beautiful way of enhancing a couple’s spiritual journey.

    Our Conclusion

    Our conclusion is simple.

    We believe that the purpose of marriage goes far beyond “completing us” or “making us happy.”

    And that’s a wonderful thing!

    Because the purpose of marriage MUST go BEYOND these temporary feelings and emotional states.

    If we don’t feel a strong sense of purpose and meaning behind marriage, then when things get difficult, we’ll lose sight of what we’re trying to create.

    And make no mistake, things will get difficult.

    In those moments, we must be able to remind ourselves that what’s meaningful will be difficult. We must be able to find the purpose for our marriage that extends BEYOND what we might be feeling at any one particular moment.

  • Why Do I Get Jealous of Other Couples?

    You’re in a relationship, and yet you’re jealous of other couples. Why is that?

    Why do we get stuck sometimes thinking that the grass is greener on the other side?

    In truth, as Neil Barringham said “The grass is greener where you water it” and on that subject, we already wrote an article titled 7 Ways to Water Your Relationship Grass.

    Here, I want to do something a little different.

    In this article, I want to break down WHY we often get jealous of other couples or relationships outside of our own.

    Let’s break it down into FIVE key issues.

    Reason One. Our Issues Feel Insurmountable

    It’s easy to be jealous of other relationships when we feel as though our own relationship issues are insurmountable. In fact, we might even begin to question whether it’s even possible to create the kind of relationship we’re looking for.

    When we feel insecure within our own relationship and doubt our ability to repair it, it’s easy to look outward. In these moments, we might catch ourselves imagining a new relationship where we have the opportunity to start over “knowing what we know now.”

    In some cases, this feeling of overwhelm and doubt is justified. Sometimes we create relationships that are so fundamentally unhealthy that there’s honestly nothing we can do to repair them.

    But in many cases, what feels insurmountable is completely repairable.

    From our clinical and coaching experience, we often find that a relationship might be 90% intact, but the missing 10% is perceived as “everything.” These numbers aren’t literal of course. We’re simply saying that when our relationship is missing something that we value, it can feel far more unhealthy than it actually is.

    Honestly, the best way to know whether a relationship can be repaired is by answering two simple questions.

    1. Did the relationship start as something that was relatively healthy to begin with?
    2. Are both people willing to put in the effort in-good-faith to make it work?

    If the relationship started with a relatively decent foundation (not perfect), and both people have the in-it-to-win-it mindset, then repair is HIGHLY LIKELY. Especially when you pair it with targetted knowledge and effort as you would find in our Crystal Clarity Online coaching program.

    But let’s talk about that proverbial missing 10%.

    Reason Two. The Missing 10% Feels Like EVERYTHING

    Sex is a common and significant relationship issue, so we’ll use that as an example.

    When your relationship is healthy and the sex is decent, it feels like 10% of your overall relationship equation. But when your relationship is unhealthy and sex is missing, it feels like 90% of your overall relationship is out of step.

    And truthfully… whether it’s sex, connection, conversation, or something else…

    When your relationship is missing something you value, it will feel like EVERYTHING is out of whack.

    For the person whose relationship is lacking sex and intimacy, all they tend to see is the fact that there’s no sex or intimacy. In this mindset, they tend to disregard where the relationship is actually healthy. Instead, they become fixated on what’s missing.

    From our experience, what’s missing is often FAR LESS than what’s intact and working. Not always, but often.

    This brings us to reason three.

    Reason Three. The Other Side Has the Missing 10%

    When all you’re seeing is what’s missing in your relationship, you become hyper-sensitive to what other relationships might offer you. Particularly when it comes to your missing 10%.

    Made simple, if you’re missing sex, passion, and intimacy; you’re going to be drawn to people who are offering just that.

    Sometimes we leave our current relationship to start a new one. Sometimes we go down the route of cheating/affairs. Sometimes we do nothing other than remain jealous of other couples and “how good they must have it.”

    Regardless, when we’re in this place where we’ve felt emotionally starved for a long period of time, we’re not seeing other people or relationships clearly.

    When we’re considering a new relationship, we’re focused on how that person can help us fill this emotional void that we’ve dealt with for so long. At that moment, we’re so focused on this person providing us with our missing 10% that we ignore the other 90% of what they’re bringing to the relationship table.

    Reason Four. You Can’t See the 90% From the Outside!

    It’s funny (but not really) how we think other couples and relationships “have it all.”

    This is the problem with standing on your porch and admiring your neighbor’s yard or garden, isn’t it? Not only are you seeing it from a distance. You have no idea what it looks like behind the scenes when it comes to maintaining it.

    It’s the same thing in our relationships.

    It’s all-to-easy to be jealous of other couples. To look to another relationship and admire what’s visible. We even make up stories in our heads as to “how good their relationship must be.” In reality, we’re clueless about the work that’s gone into the relationship.

    We’re also clueless to the fact that we might be admiring something that looks healthy on the outside while it’s festering on the inside! 

    While we can clearly see our own relationship issues, we idealize other people’s relationships. We also idealize how much better a new relationship might be compared to our existing one.

    All of it is again fueled by the missing 10%. It’s fueled by the resentment in our relationship that has us ignoring all the good or the 90% of our relationship that’s healthy and intact.

    It’s only when we explore that ideal do we realize that it was anything but. 

    Maybe we leave our current relationship for a new one. Maybe we have an affair and think we’re “truly in love” with our affair partner.

    But with a little time, we begin seeing the new relationship from the inside. We start to notice things that we couldn’t have seen from the outside.

    It’s then that we often discover our new relationship might have our missing 10%, but it’s lacking the other 90% we wanted from a partner. 

    Unfortunately, we couldn’t see that from the other side of the street. We often get jealous of other couples or relationships without ever even knowing if there’s something there to be jealous of!

    Along these lines, this is why less than 2% of affair relationships end up becoming healthy long-term marriages.

    Because in order to have an affair, it takes two people who are emotionally unhealthy and looking outside of their relationship to heal. Neither person is emotionally equipped to be able to see the other person clearly.

    This brings me to our final point… Our expectations on love, marriage, and partnership.

    Reason Five. Unrealistic Expectations

    Society has taught us that your marriage/partnership should “make you happy.” It’s taught us that your partner should be your lover, your best friend, and your confidante. It’s taught us that our spouse is the one who’s responsible for our happiness and fulfillment. 


    Doctor Glen and I want to address each of these. But maybe we’ll do this in a new article.

    For right now, we’ll say this.

    Marriage and partnership are vehicles for growth and creating a life of meaning. Its purpose goes far beyond simply “being happy.”

    EVERY meaningful pursuit in life is filled with ups and downs. In fact, name a meaningful pursuit that isn’t difficult and I’ll give you a cookie… well, a metaphorical cookie.

    You can’t can you?

    What’s meaningful is challenging, because if it weren’t, then it would cease to be meaningful wouldn’t it? 

    We’re often jealous or idealizing other people’s relationships because our marriage isn’t doing what we mistakingly think it should be doing. 

    When our marriage or partnership fails to make us happy, we look outward rather than look inward to the actual problems.

    It’s our unrealistic expectations of long-term relationships that have us feeling jealous of other couples, or maybe thinking that a new relationship would be better than what we have.

    When we’re looking at a fundamentally unhealthy or abusive relationship, this is true.

    In these moments you’d be right to be jealous of other couples who seemingly have it together. You’d also be right to think that a healthy relationship would be better than your unhealthy/abusive one. Because it will be!

    But in every other instance, moments where we’re just expecting too much of our partner/relationship, we’re being led astray.

    In these moments, we need to remind ourselves to do two things…

    First, we need to learn how to repair our own pains and wounds that have us looking for external solutions to internal problems.

    Second, we need to learn how to repair our existing relationship by understanding the nature of healthy relationship dynamics.

  • How Do I Stop Being Triggered? 3-Step Guide to Healing Triggers

    Being triggered sucks, period! 

    But the trigger itself is actually a highly effective road sign that’s directing you to areas of trauma that still need healing.

    If you’re asking…

    “How do I stop being triggered?”

    The short answer would be to resolve your underlying wound that’s creating the sensitivity to the trigger. Once that pain or trauma is resolved, the trigger loses its power over you.

    But if you’re like us, then the first follow-up question you’d likely ask is…. “well how?”

    Let’s get into it in this article!

    What Does it Feel Like?

    Let’s first spend a moment discussing what it feels like when you’re triggered.

    Oh, and let’s go beyond “it sucks” haha!

    From a biological standpoint, being “triggered” is reacting to something with an instinctual life-or-death level of response (even if your life is not in danger or not even close to being in danger).

    Made simple, when you’re triggered you’re going to either fight, freeze, or flee.

    Your response actually depends on the underlying trauma. So let’s talk about that next, why do we get triggered?

    Why Do I Get Triggered?

    Let’s say you experienced emotional abuse in a past romantic relationship.

    The Toxic Ex – Part I

    Your asshole partner would say things to you like, “You’re so dumb” or “Seriously, I don’t know why you make such stupid decisions.”

    When it first started happening, you simply froze. The moment had you so traumatized that you didn’t know what to do or how to respond.

    Eventually, you began to argue and fight back. With time, you recognized this toxic behavior for what it was. You ended the relationship and rightfully never looked back!

    Today, you feel that you’ve healed from that experience.

    Not only are you happier and healthier, the relationships you choose in your life are so much higher in quality. You’re also in love with someone that you can honestly see a future with.

    But every now and then you’re triggered by things that remind you of your past emotional abuse.

    Triggers are Reminders

    This is one of the things that makes triggers so challenging.

    You don’t have to be in the same type of relationship, or even the same type of situation, to be triggered. On top of that, once you’re triggered, it’s as if that past trauma is brought right back up to this present moment. You react to the person in front of you as if it’s the same thing that happened to you before.

    That’s because triggering events are reminders of traumatic experiences in our past.

    It feels as if your pain was pulled out of your past and dropped right in front of you. And this is especially shocking when we think, “I’ve already healed and worked through this issue.”

    The Toxic Ex – Part II

    Going back to our example, let’s say someone at work criticizes your website design saying…

    “I don’t like this design. For some reason, it doesn’t scream intelligent design to me.”

    You blow up and respond, “How dare you say this isn’t intelligent design, are you calling me stupid?”

    You’re reacting to your coworker as if they’re the emotionally abusive partner who called you stupid and unintelligent. And while we could agree that the critique was perhaps overly harsh and direct, they don’t necessarily deserve a life-or-death level response.

    This is a triggered response.

    Triggers Responses are Overreactions

    The best indicator of whether you’re triggered is whether you’re overreacting to the event at hand.

    At that moment, ask yourself.

    “Does this moment warrant an instinctual life-or-death level response, or is this a moment for logic and reason?”

    In most cases, we’re triggered by moments that don’t require us to fight, freeze, or flee. That doesn’t mean that whatever was said or done isn’t troubling. It means that it’s not a life-or-death moment, so rather than responding instinctually, we should be responding with reason.

    Easier said than done though right?

    I mean, so what should one do exactly when triggered?

    What Should I Do When Triggered?

    Now that you understand trauma, and the triggers that send you right back to those painful moments, we can take this a step further. We can start diving into the question, “How do I stop being triggered?” 

    In our Crystal Clarity Coaching program, we talk about a concept Doctor Glen coined as “trauma-triggered therapy.”

    In short, it’s a process where you use your triggers as a guide to point you back toward areas of trauma that require work and healing.

    Here’s the challenge in that.

    When we’re triggered, our gut reaction is to try to control the environment. Rather than looking at WHY this moment is triggering, we react to the person or situation at hand. We tell people around us things like…

    “I need you not to say (insert things), it’s triggering for me.”

    “When you talk to me about (insert things), it’s difficult, you need to do it like this…”

    “Hey, I’m sensitive toward (insert things), I need you to not do this so it doesn’t trigger me.”

    Now,  it’s OK to help those people we’re close to understand areas where we’re sensitive. But this isn’t a solution. Because while they can be sensitive, the underlying pain is still there. On top of that, it can make the people that genuinely care about you feel as though they’re walking on eggshells. In their minds, they have to keep track of this list of ongoing things that are going to trigger you.

    This is not an effective solution.

    An outward-seeking solution also does nothing to control everyone else in this world who doesn’t care about your feelings or what triggers you. When you’re triggered, instead of looking to control your environment or the people within that environment, look inside yourself.

    Because the truth is that if it wasn’t a place where you held pain, then the triggering event wouldn’t be a trigger at all.

    In this way, it’s a lot like a bruise.

    Telling someone not to touch your bruise can help to avoid further aggravation. But healing that bruise comes from within. Then once healed, it won’t be sensitive to ANYONE’s touch anymore.

    So here’s what you’re going to do.

    When you get triggered, follow these three steps:

    1. Identify your emotional trigger
    2. Know your primary attachment wound
    3. Take the opposite action of the emotion

    Let’s go back to our example of the toxic ex.

    The Toxic Ex – Part III

    In being triggered by your coworker, you’d identify what you’re feeling. Maybe you say something to yourself like…

    “I feel like my coworker was calling me stupid and unintelligent.”

    But then you realize, they didn’t say that at all, they said, “Something about the design doesn’t feel intelligent.” While it felt like a personal attack, it was a criticism of the design itself, not of you.

    You want to get upset and scream at your coworker. The opposite and appropriate response at that moment might have been something more like, “Ok. That critique sounds a bit harsh. Can you tell me what you mean though by the design doesn’t seem intelligent?”

    Later, you think back on that previous toxic relationship with your ex.

    You want to know why today’s critique at work has you so upset.

    Thinking on that relationship, you recognize that your anxious-ambivalent attachment or people-pleasing nature had you seeking a relationship with a narcissist. Moreover, as his emotional abuse started to surface, you convinced yourself that it was normal. You didn’t want the relationship to end. Instead, you’d try to have conversations with him and ask him to see your side of the story. You told yourself to stay because “this is what love is.”

    You were and are still angry with yourself because it took you months to see something that was so painfully obvious. 

    And guess what in that moment dealing with narcissistic emotional abuse, do you know what the opposite action of your emotion is?

    Your people-pleasing nature and your anxiety over the relationship ending are what had you chasing this person through their clearly abusive behavior.

    The opposite action would have been clear boundaries, and being willing to walk from the relationship if the behavior didn’t immediately change.

    The first moment this person said to you, “You’re so dumb.”

    You would have immediately stopped them to say, “Hey, that’s not cool. If you can’t speak to me respectfully, we’re done right here and right now.”

    Owning Our Pain

    This is the power of looking inward when it comes to trauma.

    Because even in a traumatic experience like the one above, there’s ownership to be had.

    When you’re triggered, we tell you to look inward. Not because the person who triggered you isn’t responsible. In most cases, they did do something to piss you off. In some cases, they might even be the person who traumatized you in the first place.

    But in all cases, we’re asking that you look inward because your ownership is your POWER.

    If you can recognize the wounds that have you accepting unhealthy relationship dynamics, then in that ownership is the POWER to make change!

    Your triggers are the best road signs to indicate you toward those areas of change and personal healing!

    Watch or Listen to the Episode

    If you’d like to watch or listen to this episode of the podcast, click the video or any of the podcast links below.

    Subscribe on YouTube
    Follow on Instagram
    Listen on Spotify
    Listen on Apple Podcasts
    Listen on Spreaker
    Listen on Google Podcasts