& Jim

Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski are husband and wife and the best-selling authors of four books: "The New Intimacy", "Opening to Love 365 Days a Year" and Be Loved for Who You Really Are: How the differences between men and women can be turned into the source of the very best romance you'll ever know. Their fourth is The Smart Couple's Guide to the Wedding of Your Dreams, an important book for anyone who cares that weddings support the couple and the marriage they are creating. And their latest book, The Heart of Marketing: Love your customers and they will love you back. Claim your free relationship tips at www.makingtheordinaryextraordinary.com or www.fearofbeingfabulous.com

Are You Free to be Fabulous?
Challenges, Change, and New Life
The Closer Your Success
Fertilize Your Love
The Five Keys to the New Intimacy
The Gift of Receiving
How Do You Know It’s Love?
Is Love Magical? You Bet!”
Love and Prejudice
The Magic Wisdom of Love
Make the Most of "Mistakes"
Men Are Human Too
Networking In the Spotlight
New Love, New Love
No Matter What I do, It's Never Enough!

On The Other Side Of Insecurity
The Price of Gratitude
Recovering from Romantic Fantasy
She Wants to Feel Special
The Soul of Love
Trust the Rooster
12 Secrets to Great Romance for the Rest of Your Life
What If Your Relationship Could Be . . .
Winter Beauty...in the Moment
Workin’ It Out Together
“You Are A Miracle”

The Gift of Receiving

You're busy checking off the items on your to-do list. Most of the gifts have been wrapped. And the holiday cards made it to the post office this morning. Oh, but you forgot about your daughter's teacher! And what to take to the Smith's annual Christmas Eve get together? And then the cookies for the school carnival and you used the last of the sugar in yesterday's brownies for the church fund raiser.

Then just at the same time that you are trying to figure out what to wear to the office party, what should occur? Your two tiny elves run into your bedroom loaded down with treasures they made at school, all meant just for you!

But you haven't got the time to stop and pay attention. The party's in just an hour. "Put them under the tree," you command, turning back to your closet, missing the dejection flattening those eager faces that want nothing more than to please you.

You and your spouse make it to the party on time, but when several people there tell you how attractive you look, you don't care because you're bothered by your kids sulkiness as the two of you left the house. You wonder what was troubling them.

Two days later your darling sweetheart arrives home from work with a bonus check, setting up a surprise by placing it on your pillow with a note that says, "To thank you for who you are, this will take us to Paris in the springtime! MUCH LOVE from Your Biggest Fan!" That night you stay up late to get those dozens and dozens of cookies baked, so you can drop them off when you take the kids to school the next day. When you crawl into bed at 1 AM your honey is fast asleep so you can't turn the light on. You assume thatthe crinkling paper you lay your head on is some of your darling partner's last minute office work and throw it on the floor. The next day you have to be told about the surprise and the disappointment caused because you missed it.

Gifts galore!!! And no one to receive them.

The old adage admonishes "'Tis better to give than to receive." But when the giving lands on unreceptive hearts, what good is it? In fact, as our all too familiar tale above makes clear, the excited, observant, appreciative givers find that their gifts are ignored and their feelings are hurt.

The gift of receiving is largely overlooked and overshadowed by the need to give. While gifts require money and time to purchase, or money, time, and labor to make, the gift of receiving is free and priceless.

You can't put a price tag on your children's glee seeing your face light up with pleasure when their candle-made-in-a-milk-carton turns into the finest glow the season can shine in your direction. There's no material value that equates with friends and acquaintances complimenting your looks, your talent, your friendship. And your spouse's romantic appreciation for who you really are, well, it's all you really wished for, isn't it? And yet . . .

And yet it's not too late to make a resolution that this year you will give the gift of receiving, the precious gift of paying attention to every person who wants to please you. You needn't gush or say you like something you don't. But you do have to notice any feelings that arise telling you that you don't deserve all this generosity. You do have to stay on guard against the distractions of your grocery list or that phone call you forgot to make that want to steal you away precisely at the time that someone is filling your plate with emotionally delicious goodies!


Because the gift of receiving, the heartfelt "Thank you" is often difficult to give. We've all been taught not to be self-centered, to focus on the other person while remaining modest and humble. However, most of us obey those instructions to the point of self-denial.

But then, ZAP! in one split second you are center stage. And that early teaching rings loud and clear: "Get rid of it! Pass it off! Don't get caught being admired, appreciated, or even loved! Who do you think you are?"

Take the gift of receiving seriously. When you embrace the beauty and generosity of what others give you, you will be changed. And you will be changed into a more self-respectful and self-loving person.

What better gift could you give yourself, and everyone else, than that?

And to help you expand your ability to receive, please accept our audio gift "The Power of Receiving" at www.judithandjim.com/receiving

The Price of Gratitude

Long before we get to the table laden with turkey, cranberry sauce and over-sweet yams, we are face-to-face with the challenge of gratitude all month long. For most of the year we can duck and dodge the pressures of thankfulness, and most people do -- openly admitting to having a terrible time accepting compliments, much less the larger implications of being truly loved.

So the questions must be asked: Why do we have such a difficult and sometimes painful time receiving the blessings of other people's affection, admiration and sincere love? What is so powerful that it so often fiercely defends against the uptake of that which would transform our insecurities, reduce our anxieties, and feed our comfort and creativity in the world? What makes us work so tenaciously to play ourselves down, fighting off the praise that knocks so loudly at our door? What is so powerful that often we don't even hear the knocking as a joyous visitor -- but rather as a rude intruder?

The fact is we live in prozac land, a world in which putting one another down is considered funny, punishing children's spirited relationship with life is commonplace and the resulting wide spread depression is written off as biochemical. Or is it?

Maybe we are so blind to the forces that squash the life out of us -- the brilliant, the exuberant, the spiritually dazzling -- that we can't even begin to question why we are so allergic to compliments, why our divorce rate keeps exposing how difficult it is to be loved and loving. Maybe it's long overdue for each of us to embark on an individual campaign to be recognized and respected and valued for our unique gifts and talents. Not as an exercise in narcissism, but as an exercise in receiving and then experiencing and expressing sincere gratitude.

But then, notice, we will have to give up our "safe" invisibility, our false modesty and most of all our loggy depression that protects us from being truly alive.

For when we allow someone's praise and love to truly fertilize our soul, we feel more and more of the life force awakening within. We become less and less able to stay remote, vaguely unhappy with life but unwilling to do anything about it. When we receive and feel gratitude, we want the whole world to feel the same way. We surrender our isolation. We come out of our shells. We reach back to embrace the one who graced us with their spiritual generosity. And in so doing, we are changed, transformed, made more (w)holy.

But all of this liveliness comes with a price. We must leave the outer shell of false humility behind. When we do, we become exquisitely aware of anyone who speaks negatively about our value, placing ourselves in the situation of having to do something about it or not. And we must shed those who cannot accept the magnificence that each and every one of us is.

This Thanksgiving give yourself the gift of your own unique value and vow to never again allow another to put you down, to mock you, to in any way block your light! And, at the same time, make a commitment to practice saying "Thank You!" from the bottom of your heart each and every time you are graced by another's positive recognition of who you are.

We wish you a Happy Wish Bone and the very best Thanksgiving you've ever had.

Recovering from Romantic Fantasy

Chances are you never thought you needed to be rescued from romance. In fact, you probably feel you need more romance in your life, not less.

The truth is that most hearts are broken in the painful difference between the possibility of real romance and the insistence on the fantasy of romance — with the real thing taking the loss.

Recovering from romantic fantasy is based on your willingness to accept who you and your partner are — without deceit, without drama, without all of the false puffery so many of us put around our images of love, relationship and intimacy. Recovering from romantic fantasy does not mean living without it. It means you will have, perhaps for the first time in your life, the chance to experience reality-based romance that is meaningful, fulfilling, passionate and can actually help create a relationship you can trust and delight in.

This kind of romance — real romance — can fill your soul with the feeling and knowledge that you are loved for who you are, just as you are, and it can inspire you to love deeply and fully in return.

What can you expect should you decide to recover from swept-away romantic fantasy?

Here’s an example. Judith: One evening, we bought a special pie for a friend, to thank him for a favor he’d done for us. It was a strawberry-banana cream pie with a collar of sculpted whip cream around the top. Careful not to tip it, Jim set it on the floor of the car behind the driver’s seat and we made our way home. The day had been particularly difficult for Jim, and he was feeling raw and vulnerable.

When we got home, he picked up the pie and the box caught on the edge of the seat, tumbled over and landed top down. It was that kind of day.

He looked to Juidth and timidly said, “Maybe it’ll be okay.” He opened the box and the pie, of course, was demolished, more like strawberry-banana-cream porridge. Jim slumped. Judith was angry that the pie had fallen and shocked when Jim announced it might have survived intact. She knew better.

How could he not have? But, more importantly, Judith knew Jim was suffering.

Judith understood what he was going through. So, she put my arm around him and told him, “It’s a mess, isn’t it? I’m so sorry….. Let’s get another one later.”

It was a moment of real romance that left both of us feeling whole and human, compassionate and connected, loved and loving.

In contrast to the grandiosity of romantic fantasy, we were just in our garage with a fallen pie, and yet we both experienced a sense of grace and beauty and a special bond of intimacy.

Can you picture yourself sitting around dreaming up a romantic fantasy where a dropped pie leads to heartfelt love?

Most people, being honest, would have to say, “No.” That’s just not how romance is thought of in our culture. Besides, romantic fantasy always ends up being punitive. It is contemptuous of “fallen pies.” It’s dismissive of human imperfection, derisive of anything that doesn’t reach the lofty heights of romantic bliss.

Real romance comes from beyond what you already know. It’s spontaneous, unrehearsed and open-hearted. It’s about what’s happening in the moment, about the attention and affection between two people.

When you’re open to the heightened awareness of real romance, a vivid, even ecstatic experience can spring from any unexpected moment.

If you try to hold onto it, you cancel your invitation for life to catch you off guard and take you into the deepest places of your heart and soul.


Excerpted from Judith & Jim’s first book The New Intimacy. To support your relationships, make sure to download Judith & Jim’s complimentary program “The Power and Profit of Receiving” at www.judithandjim.com/receiving

The Magic Wisdom of Love

What kind of wisdom pushes you in your choice of love partners? Often it's a wisdom that doesn't always meet the eye. In fact on the surface, it may seem like the two of you are so different that you'll not even be able to make it. But, with a full commitment to the totality of love -- it's those very same differences that will not only fertilize your love, keeping your lives vital and always changing, but will also spur you to greater personal growth.

Yesterday, Jim went into town for his morning newspaper and donut pick-up. On his way out, Judith handed him a form to take to the Library, so we could formally apply to use the Civic Center for a presentation we'll be making in September.

When he got back, Judith asked how it went at the Library. Jim looked surprised. He'd forgotten all about it and didn't even know where the form was! Well! In the early part of our marriage (we've been together 18 years, married 17) when this ditzy side of Jim would show itself, Judith would usually flip out. She'd get angry and scared and start crying in total frustration! Sometimes it would deteriorate into long, drawn out fights as we struggled to find our equilibrium -- because Jim never saw anything tragic going on and Judith always did.

You see, Judith was raised in a family that took getting things done "right" very seriously. So she developed a perfectionistic bent, coupled with a need to avoid "trouble" or getting into "trouble." (Can you identify with that?) That followed her into marriage and obviously caused a great deal of pain for both of us.

The wisdom in marrying Jim is that today Jim is still prone to being ditzy, but Judith has learned from him that his "relaxed attitude" has never caused a catastrophe and so she has relaxed enormously and seldom gets upset anymore.

That's not to say that Jim is so relaxed he's dangerous. We're only talking about non-consequential issues. But it's often the little things that drive people into divorce court when they cannot tolerate each other's personal styles.

Please remember - the other person is not you. Your partner is not you. That may sound obvious, even simplistic, but the next time you go off on your partner because s\he or she hasn't done something "right" - in other words, the way you would do it or the way it should be done - you are insisting there's only one person in the world and that is YOU! Intimacy takes two and it's most delicious when the two aren't the same. Then the adventure of love can be wondrous and your relationship can stay fresh and vital.

Jim found the Library form in his office. He'd been distracted and left it behind. He turned it in the next day. Judith didn't even lose a beat on this one and got to celebrate her cool attitude and tease Jim, in a loving way, about his "absent minded Professor," which he didn't defend.

We both had a good time on our walk today talking about how much we've learned from one another and how grateful we are for it. That's what can happen through the wisdom in your choice of one another!

Take a look at all the ways your relationship, even if it didn't work out, was a very wise choice in terms of all you've learned from it! And be grateful.

Challenges, Change, and New Life

Fundamental to all life on the planet . . . is the fact that we’re all different from each other.

And yet what do most people do when they encounter those differences?

They either change themselves “to fit in” or they try to change the other person.

Here’s why . . .

When you want to change somebody, the truth is you are scared -- under threat. You only want things to be the way you want them to be.

You want control rather than connection.

This is not to say that if someone is bothering you you shouldn't ask for change. Of course you need to speak up and insist on better treatment.

Of course.

But if you keep trying to change someone, you really only want to be in a relationship on your own terms rather than opening to a truly fabulous relationship . . . and that means being changed by the differences between you.

And when it's only on your terms, then when it comes to your love relationship, what you really want is a fantasy love rather than the real thing. Because real love takes two -- and those two will inevitably be different.

Now we know it’s not all rosebuds and apple sauce when differences clash.

Yet, once the super clash calms down, if you’re open to learning from your differences, then when you know each other’s reasons for thinking or behaving in a certain way, you will either become newly respectful of the other’s need to continue as they are, or you can begin to discuss changes . . . life enhancing changes . . . that you both can make which would improve your situation.

Either way, the resolution, the increased connection and intimacy, can only come from an open heart that moves you forward rather than clinging to your old self-centered, frightened ways.

That’s a soul-filled grace only available when you greet the challenge of your differences as an invitation to grow and expand . . .

And then you step into your new, larger, more fabulous life!

12 Secrets to Great Romance for the Rest of Your Life

You can have great romance - real romance - for the rest of your life. And, it's easier than you think!

All you have to do is begin practicing the first of these ten steps. When you feel comfortable, add the next one that attracts you most. Before long you'll notice a difference in your confidence, self-respect, your capacity to give and receive love and, of course, the intimacy that makes it all worthwhile. See what magic you create!

Step 1: Accept Compliments. Do you have trouble accepting compliments? Most people do. The first step toward The New Intimacy is to pay attention to every compliment you receive -- from anyone. A compliment is love-in-shorthand. Practice accepting compliments with a simple, "Thank you." Your heart will open, you will begin to feel generous and eager to give the gift of taking what someone wants to give to you. Then, watch the world become a place you only imagined was possible.

Step 2: Notice Differences. Differences hold the key to a richer and more meaningful life. Our differences are the celebration of all that is possible, including you. As you practice the basic truth that -- the other person is not you -- so that you have to discover who he or she is, you will move beyond isolation, loneliness and the yearning for connection. The simple act of paying attention to how different other people are from you will change your life forever.

Step 3: Express Yourself. No one just like you has ever lived before or will ever live again. That's much more than a superficial observation. It is as profound a truth as there is in this life. When you appreciate just how unique you are, you will understand the importance of never shortchanging the truth of what you feel, what you believe and what you desire. You will never pass this way again just as you are. Express yourself. Give your partner, and yourself, the chance to find out what it is that makes you you.

Step 4: Reserve Judgment. It's so easy for us to get caught up insisting on what we think is right, or sensible, or appropriate. Those are judgments. When you make them in a knee-jerk fashion, without thinking, without taking the time to find out if they really apply, you not only wipe out the person you hurl them at, you sentence yourself to the solitary confinement of being the way you've always been. If you yearn for more from your life, one of the simplest ways you can have more is to reserve judgment and let others and the world become your teacher. When you take the time to reserve judgment, you will liberate yourself from the solitary confinement of being the way you've always been.

Step 5: Listen Actively. Talking is easy for most people. Listening is another story. To listen actively you have to tune in to your partner's experience from his or her own point of view. That's the only way you'll know what's really going on. Otherwise all that happens is you stay stuck in your own world, waiting for your turn. So, open to a possibility that's different from your own. You know how boring mutual monologues can be!

Step 6: Take Responsibility. In any relationship, two people are always teaching each other exactly how they expect to be treated right from the first moment. So, you have impact. Every relationship is co-created, that's the beauty of being with someone. Why waste your time pretending to be powerless. That's only a game you play with yourself. When you take care with who you are, you give your partner the opportunity to care for you.

Step 7: Disagree. Can you say "No" when you have to? Or do you keep your frustrations hidden until you explode? If so, you're being disrespectful of you and your partner. Differences are bound to rise in any relationship. They are a chance to define who you are distinct from your partner. Make a point of voicing your disagreement. Stop yourself from being invisible.

Step 8: Love Everyday. Don't let any day go by without expressing your love in some way. It doesn't take much. Just give small kindnesses! Little gifts, surprise notes, special snuggling, calls to the office, you name it. These small moments of affection will keep your love alive and open your conscious creativity to ever more delights. After all, what's the point of being with someone and not enjoying it!?

Step 9: Ask, Ask, Ask. It's not true that if you have to ask for what you want it won't mean as much. That's an adolescent belief. In a real relationship, your partner can't hear what you're not saying. Trust enough to make yourself available to the relationship and to getting what you want. When you hold back and then are disappointed, you only creat resentment.

Step 10: Include Conflict. When two people live together over time, conflicts are inevitable. If you deny that fact, you will suffocate the life out of your relationship. The point is, how can you make them productive? Conflict is just like the sand in an oyster -- annoying, irritating, but you have to have it to get the pearl!

Step 11: Be Curious. Genuine curiosity is the finest aphrodisiac there is. When your partner wants to know who you really are, the good and the not-so-good, the whole package, what finer compliment can you ask for? And when you let your partner in to your thoughts and feelings, what finer gift can you give in turn?

Step 12: Receive Love. Love may not always show up just as you expect. In fact, it's unavoidable that your partner will express love is ways you hadn't anticipated. He is not you. She is not you. If you only want love to come the way you want it, you'll only get what you've always had. Real love is a wonder that will come from beyond your imagination. Open and receive it!

Winter Beauty...in the Moment

Winter is setting in here in the mountains. The trees have dropped their leaves, the grass isn’t growing, frost is a regular morning visitor and ice is not too far away.

It’s almost past remembering that the hills and pastures here were bursting with wild flowers just a few short months ago.

But the lush, verdant summer is only one season, like lusty passion is only one expression in the life of a relationship. Things change, and sometimes the beauty is not immediately apparent.

As we walk along the road the winter colors are muted and unassuming. We cant rely on them to excite us. Instead, we have to give more of ourselves, we have to open and extend ourselves.

We have to bring more to the exchange because one half of the partnership - the winter landscape - doesn’t have the energy it once did.

Love is like that. Sometimes our partner doesn’t have it to turn us on. Sometimes they don’t feel well. Sometimes they’re depressed. Sometimes they just want to be quiet. They’re muted and withdrawn.

That’s when we have to extend ourselves, our sensitivity, and look for the beauty of the moment. It wont leap out and grab us, but it’s there. And it doesn’t mean there’s anything we have to do but be respectful of what’s happening and, like in the winter, open to what it has to offer.

It will return the rich gifts of its season and, after a time, will be wild flowers again.

What If Your Relationship Could Be . . .

Imagine the richest relationship you could ever have. What would that be like? Envision a relationship in which conflicts, even fighting, don’t drive you apart but deepen the connection between you. Picture the sheer joy of discovering a love that thrives on the ordinary experiences of everyday life and is more passionate and spiritually satisfying than your most lavish fantasy. Trust you can keep romance alive no matter how long you are together!

Is that a relationship you want?

Not only is a love like this possible, but it’s available to you right now. All you have to do is be willing to change your mind.

Consider the Following What if you and your partner were freely and lovingly open to the differences between you? It’s easy to love what’s familiar. But when you open to the ways your partner is not you, and your partner does the same, that’s the gift of differences to be loved for who you really are!

What if you could find the most sincere intimacy at the heart of your differences? You get to know more about yourself and one another as you grow together. What if your relationship could reveal the source of a larger future than you’ve yet imagined?

What each of you brings to your relationship that is different from what you both already know provides you with the opportunity to learn. That automatically creates a larger future than you could have imagined or created alone. What if your conflicts could be a source of support and security, rather than the kiss of death?

In every conflict, each of you has some different piece of the truth. In a productive conflict, you have to recognize and appreciate your own truth as well as your partner’s and come to a resolution that benefits both of you. What if your differences could be the doorway to spiritual growth and mutual fulfillment?

Spiritual growth is about becoming more and more conscious about a genuine regard for the differences that make others who they are. That leads you to a deeper sense of connection and appreciation for the rich diversity of all of life.

What if you could have a continually changing yet completely committed love? It’s essential that you embrace the reality of change. Otherwise you will stifle if not cut off the emotional bond and spiritual energy between you and your partner. Then you’ll become bored, and your love will die.

What if you and your partner were sure you could create an intimate, loving relationship?

Your relationship would be like a work of art, an expression of each of you individually, of the two of you together, and of the oneness you share when you let your love lead.

When you take the time to understand and explore these keys to lasting love, your exploration can be a source of new intimacy for you both of you, an intimacy that allows you to be loved for who you really are.

Workin’ It Out Together

In the early days of love it all seems so bliss filled and romantic — and it feels like it will last forever.

Then you settle down, get married, create a home, have kids and……where did the magic go!?

There’s so much to do, the errands never end, the house always needs work, the kids are demanding, and your love seems to have slipped away.

Or has it?

You wish you felt more connected. You wish it was more like it was in the beginning when you couldn’t get enough of being together. And perhaps you feel overburdened and lonely doing the chores and making a living and taking care of the kids and . . .

Well, please be kind to yourself, your partner, and your relationship and check to see if you both feel the same way. Chances are you do. And chances are really good that because you’ve cared enough to ask, this kindness will open new possibilities for deciding to do more of the daily family maintenance and caretaking–together!

Sure you may have different schedules. But surely you can find some time when you BOTH fold the laundry (while watching TV, perhaps!), pick out a new paint color for the bathroom (even if one of you has to bring home a bunch of swatches from the home deco store and look them over late at night) or take the kids to the birthday party together (even if you have to forego a golf game or shopping trip just this once).

You may be thinking, big deal, it’s still a chore to do that stuff. Yes, that’s true if you only hold on to a worker-bee attitude.

But if you approach these tasks as ways to be kind and make life more enjoyable, then you will be well on your way to finding the daily romance in workin’ it out together.

Judith: Even if we seldom have company that will be shown around our house (meaning they get to see our bedroom on the second floor), we both make the bed together nearly every morning. We’ve remarked on how much this mundane kindness reminds us of our care for each other and for our home.

Jim: Frequently one of us washes the dishes after dinner and the other dries. The tasks may be menial but the bondedness of consciously doing them together is revitalizing and endearing — while making the work more fun!

So find just one thing you typically do alone and figure out how to make it a form of daily kindness to yourselves and to your relationship. The practice of teamwork, a joint contribution to being together, will allow you to trust one another more and create new avenues of shared experience and discussion.

And be really kind and caring to yourselves. For example, include your favorite snacks and good music if you’re doing something like building a new fence, re-doing your flower beds, painting the house or cleaning out the garage.

Be kind to one another and make it as fun as possible to to get the work done–workin’ it out together!

On The Other Side Of Insecurity

You’ve had the experience, just like we have, of wanting to approach someone at a party and then feeling shy, scared, not-good-enough. Right?

Just like us, you’ve wanted to ask for a job, a promotion, special guidance for the next step of your career, but then you felt weird, strangely anxious, and you either forgot about it or went ahead in some lame, bound-for-defeat kind of way.

It was a special occasion, so you decided, like we have, to wear your most outstanding suit or outfit.

But once you put it on, you started feeling uncertain whether you should actually “stand out.” Really Stand Out.

So you took it off and put on something ordinary. All the price and pain of deep insecurity. But insecurity about what? About being you. Really you. Glorious, Fabulous YOU!

Somewhere along the way you were influenced by someone, or multiple someones, who made it clear that you shouldn’t “get a big head,” “act up,” “forget your place,” or “be a know it all.” 

Those are just tiny snippets of the kinds of soul-draining messages that most of us received  in one way or another that later cost us the confidence to live our lives fully and fabulously! 

But the key to moving your life into the other side of insecurity is to remember that you weren’t born thinking you had to hold yourself back.

You screamed, cried out, and shrieked with full-bodied fury. As soon as you could crawl you got into all the No-Nos you were supposed to avoid.

And then the programming, the now unconscious programming, started to settle into who you thought you were . . . until it became the norm.

Until now . . . 

Because now, Right Now, is a choice point.

Will you stay committed to your insecurity? 

Or will you redefine your loyalty, and make it to Yourself?

If it’s the latter, then you will have moved through the process of authorizing yourself to call those false and contaminating inner tapes LIES, LIES, LIES.

And you will gain momentum in experiencing yourself in your own wondrous, rightful, unique, one-of-a-kind truth. 

Then, on the other side of insecurity, you can take yourself out into the world on your own terms and enjoy, truly enjoy, BEING YOU.

The Soul of Love

To be in a sincere and romantic relationship is to open to the hidden streams of feeling and intuition that each of you bring to being together. Surrendering to love prompts unconscious Soul shiftings that take you into areas of your individual and joined selves that are usually well beyond your imagination.

We see the Soul not as a container but as a beacon, sometimes intense, sometimes a whisper, sometimes a demand, sometimes a tease, animated by a desire to bring us even closer by pointing out the way as well as pointing to what is in the way.

Even though we’ve been married nineteen years we still have regular, long and intimate conversations, scheduled or spontaneous, when we listen not just to ourselves and each other but to what is newly alive between us – to what our Souls are pushing us to explore and move into.

We explore and witness what makes us different from each other, the particularities that make us each who we really are, and marvel at how two distinct points of view co-create a third, the unity that is our relationship.

This is not necessarily pain-free. When inspired by the movements of the Soul, love finds some of its deepest courage in seeking out old wounds, forgotten slights, insecurities and fears, all of that within us that has never yet been loved – that yearns to be loved and to be whole.

When allowed to come to the surface, the unresolved pain can be embraced and set free by the love we have surrendered to over the twenty years we've been together. This is a love built upon respect for our differences. We are committed to a trust and willingness to go wherever our Souls lead us, and a determination to provide for our own and each other's well-being.

We also delight in the Soul as a wellspring of joy.

We live in the country and very often, even in the winter, we take long walks along our winding road. We both know those moments when one of us catches a glimpse of the other unawares, nothing covering, just pure, unveiled radiance, and are filled with sweet feeling just to know that we are together.

It is only through the depth of love that the Soul invites us to develop that we can feel loved through and through for all that we are and all that we are still to be.

It is only through the wisdom of the Soul that we can transcend the need to control and, instead, open our hearts to the truth and beauty that each of us brings to what we share.

And only then can we sincerely, and from the bottom of our hearts, say to each other, "I love being with you!"

“You Are A Miracle”

Once upon a time, in a secret region of the unseen an eentsy beensty guy known as “Sperm” met up with a tiny gal named “Egg.” Their joining, the style of which dated back eons ago, was the beginning of what became a one-time-only creation.


While “Sperms” and “Eggs” have been doing their “thing”for nearly forever . . . the magic and mystery of it all unfolds with each specific new life.

Like You.

Because you were created in the very same way every other human has been doesn’t mean that you are just like everyone else.

Not hardly.

In fact, in all of time . . . estimating that our solar system came into existence about 5 billion years ago and will go out of existence in another 5 billion years . . . there has never been and there never will be another you.

You are the only You in all time.

Think about it.

That is a scientific fact.

And a spiritual wonder.

That’s why You Are A Miracle!

And this is true for everyone you know.

Every single one.

No matter their gender, race, religion, culture, education, or financial standing in the world, every single person you know and will ever know is a one-of-a-kind miracle.

Think about it.

What would your relationships be like if you consciously honored the miracle in each one you know?

And how would you live your life if you chose to express the miracle that is you . . . every day?

Because You Are A Miracle!

Is Love Magical? You Bet!”

He likes to be on time. She's always late.

She's a detail person. He sees the big picture.

He takes the world as it comes. She needs control.

She likes dinner at the table. He's a grazer.

He loves to learn. She wants things as they are and as they have been

And then they get married. Can they make it?

We'll bet your knee-jerk answer was more than likely "No. They're too different."

Don't feel alone. You're right in there with most people who think that differences can be attractive, even exciting, but they don't make for a solid marriage. That's why one of the most popular dating sites on the internet advertises a compatibility test. "We'll find someone just for you." A more appropriate pitch would be, "We'll find someone just like you."

Is that what you want? Someone just like you? Someone who thinks like you, feels the same way about things, believes the same things you believe? Again we'll bet that you're probably thinking, "Well, yes. That's what I want."

But why would you want a copy of you? Ease? Safety? Harmony? Less chance for conflict?

That's what most people believe. But we want you to know that after nearly twenty years of working with couples, that kind of sameness is the downfall of many, many relationships and marriages.

Why? Because, no matter how much two people have in common . . . religion, politics, race, financial status, whatever . . . when they get into a relationship they soon discover the many ways they are different from each other. That's an inescapable fact of life. There simply aren't two of us alike--not even identical twins.

So what's the result when two people who believe in sameness . . . or oneness as some people call it . . . find themselves face-to-face with their differences?

They don't know what to do. They're scared, confused, challenged, and self-protective. What they expected isn't coming true. Then what?

Rather than learn how to live with who they really are, they use their differences to trash each other, and end up in painful power struggles they can't win. Their relationship comes apart and they don't even know how or why.

But here's the question.

Can love, relationships, and marriage succeed based on the differences between two people? Not only is the answer yes, yes, yes . . .but real love and real romance aren't even possible without them. In fact, if the two of you aren't recognizing and respecting the differences between you, you'll can never feel truly loved--because you're not.

"Okay. Okay," you say. "What can I do about it?"

Change your mind. Sound simple? Well, it is really.

"If it's so simple," you're saying, "how do I do it?"

That's the number one question we get asked.

So here are a couple of keys.

One, remember that your partner is not you. That may come as a shock to some people, but when you forget this critical point, you become all involved in yourself. It's all about your thoughts, your feelings, and your fantasies and how your partner is not matching up. Then it doesn't matter who your partner is or what your partner does, you'll never be satisfied. Talk about a sure-fire recipe for disappointment and conflict!

Two, curiosity is key. Don't assume that you already know what your partner is thinking or feeling in any given moment. How do you feel when someone does that to you? You don't like it, do you? Then don't do it to the person you claim to love. Find out instead. Yes. It's that simple. Find out. Ask questions.

Don't stop until you feel that you understand. And be sure that what you understand lines up with your partner's experiences. That way you're on the same track.

And what's the payoff for all of this?

We call it "letting love lead." You discover instead of assume. You both get to be seen for who you really are. And, best of all, you get to be loved for who you really are and you love your partner in the same way.

Love has been called magical and this is what that means. Being loved for who you are--really are--no masks, no games, relaxed, open, and free.

Is that really possible? Yes!!

Is love really magical?. You bet.

Trust the Rooster

It was the first night of our long awaited Baja Mexico vacation. We’d had a great time in Todos Santos with Jim’s brother Bill and his wife Kelly who took us to Miguel’s for guacamole and nachos and then on to the famed Hotel California for a long, leisurely dinner. 

Now we were in bed, 10 pm Baja (Mountain) time.

What appeared as a modest, casual little hotel on the web suddenly turned into a cacophony of yapping, snarling dogs serenaded by a cat in heat.

Welcome to Mexico! 

The four-legged locals exhausted themselves around midnight and we finally got some sleep. 

But not for long . . .

The King Kong of Roosters, who lives right behind our little hotel (and immediately on the other side of our bedroom window) decided to announce day break sometime around 3 am by setting off an elaborate call and response with two neighboring cock-a-doodle-doers.

Not to be outdone, Senor Yapper Dog from the night before (who shares the same back yard behind our bedroom window) chimed in anytime the roosters took a break. 

We made the most of it all . . . laughing, teasing, and even singing a Doo-Wop duet we’re perfecting of “What’s Your Name?” (. . . Is it Mary or Sue? Do I stand a chance with you?) If you’re under 50 you may never have heard the song but we are huge fans of Doo Wop..

Blessedly, every so often sleep was more demanding than the backyard quartet so neither of us suffered the next day.

BUT at some point while Judith was lying awake contemplating two more nights there (that was Tuesday and we were scheduled to be back there Friday and Saturday nights as well) she not only jumped to the fact that under no uncertain terms would we return to that “charming” little hotel but other parts of the trip could also be changed to make it more comfortable and fun for us.

So the next morning we visited the Hacienda at Todos Los Santos and reserved a lovely private casita for Saturday night and then, upon arrival in La Paz, booked that hotel for Friday night thereby breaking up our return drive from Mulege. 

It was all now perfect! 

Why and how?

Trust the Rooster!

Because “the rooster” that appears to be wrecking everything . . . whatever form that rooster may take in your life . . . is always opening the door for you to rethink what you are doing, where you are going . . .what you want from life.

So Trust the Rooster and bust yourself loose from whatever you thought was right and good and allow the frustration, the upheaval to show you a new, easier, larger way to approach your life. 

Trust the Rooster!.

And we wish you many, many Fabulous Roosters

And a very Happy New Year!

Networking In the Spotlight

Most everyone in business talks about the importance of networking. But the real power and impact of how “meet and greet” really works usually remains a closely guarded secret.

You’ve no doubt attended a conference, training seminar, or even a singles dance and left wondering why the heck you bothered to comb your hair and wear your best shoes . . . right?

If you’re like most people, it’s happened many many times.

But that’s because you never understood what you were there to do. If it was a conference you “knew” you were to sit and listen to the speakers.

If it was a singles event, you “knew” you were there to meet the “right” person.

That’s it. That’s all you “knew.” And so that’s all that could happen.

Well, enough of that. Enough of you standing around waiting to be approached. Enough of you thinking it’s bad form to put yourself out there . . . BIG TIME.

Networking can only work for you to the degree that you MAKE it work for you.

For networking to really work for you, in business and socially, you have to not just show up, you have to put your Fabulous Self out there.

You think that’s too pushy? Too showy?

You think people who go to the front of the room and meet the speakers are obnoxious? That singles who strut their stuff are conceited?

Well, it’s time to rethink where you learned that it was “proper” to hide yourself. Then you need to betray that self-sabotaging belief by becoming a mover and shaker in your own life.

Here’s the key, the only thing we want you to firmly establish in your awareness:


If you’re single and looking how can you put yourself out there so that the person who is looking for you can actually find you?

And when it comes to business . . .

At a recent internet marketing event, a young man just out of college named Steve Naga came up to Judith and introduced himself. He told her that he’d heard us on Alex Mandossian’s Teleseminar Secrets call and that he’d subscribed to our “Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous” Tips and thought they were impressive.

Then he asked if he could get his photo taken with her and promptly asked a man nearby to do the digital honors when Judith said “Yes.”

Steve will be a superstar one day because he brought his bright enthusiasm and his clear, straightforward presence into plain sight. And not just with Judith.

He made his presence known with the same kind of easy connection and had his photo taken with several others including one of the presenters, 29-year old marketing millionaire Tellman Knudson.

Steve is young and doesn’t have his own business yet. But notice that Steve is getting press coverage in our newsletter simply by being Fabulous Steve.

So, when you’re out and about, how can you shine so you reap the kinds of rewards you want by Networking In The Spotlight?

The Closer Your Success

Art Garfunkle ran it right up the charts, singing about how: “The closer your destination, the more you’re slip-sliding away.”

You know the feeling . . .

You set your mind on a goal.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a career ambition,

Getting a date with a particular gal at the gym,

Meeting a deadline which would produce more cash than you’ve ever seen,

Getting your cousin to introduce you to her handsome neighbor,

Losing the last 5 pounds after taking off the first 30 . . .

You name it . . . we all know the experience . . .

As Steven Pressfield says “The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more resistance we will feel . . . .”

But, why would we hold back just as we’re about to succeed in tasting the new, more fabulous life we’ve so desired?

Well, precisely because it means transforming yourself to live in that new life, necessarily leaving behind the life you’ve known.

It doesn’t mean tiny, little changes.

It means big changes.

It means changing your identity.

And that’s HUGE!

So, are you ready to change your identity in order to have the large success you desire?

Are you ready to leave behind a lifestyle you’ve outgrown?

Are you ready to know love and success like never before?

If you’re answer is YES! . . . Congratulations!

But if you’re not sure, here are a couple of key points to ponder:

1) In what ways did you grow up with Fear-And-Lack as your daily childhood companions? Give this serious consideration because it may not be immediately obvious.

And . . .

2) When you say “YES” to a larger, far more fabulous life than you know now, what kinds of guilt and betrayal will you have to wrestle with?

“The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more resistance we will feel . . . .”

The stakes are huge.

Your fabulous future is calling you.

Will you claim the greatness of your soul’s evolution?

We trust you’ll say “YES”!

Men Are Human Too

To hear many relationship "experts" tell it, men are still stuck in primitive, caveman mentality. These experts admonish women to be passive and play hard to get. Why? Because, in order for a woman to interest them, they claim that men need to be on the hunt. If men aren't made to feel the need to pursue and capture they won't feel sufficiently masculine and driven to conquer and protect the woman who excites these primitive urges.

But these experts never say how true love and real romance are created and kept alive once the marriage vows have been taken. What does a man do with pursuit and capture once the pursuit is over and the capture is complete? Instead these "experts" teach that the best a woman can expect from her man is a form of role playing and, at best, compromise.

Tough Guy No Longer

While this may still be the case for some men who were raised by brutish fathers and needy mothers, our experience over the past eighteen years suggests just the opposite. We've spent a lot of time counseling couples of all ages, giving relationship workshops of all kinds, and running dozens of gender reconciliation seminars privately and for corporations. When given a safe environment to express themselves, men have voiced, over and over, their objection to being boxed into the old tough-guy stereotype. They express how burdened they feel by their wives and girlfriends who expect them to always be in charge.

And these men, from all walks of life, repeatedly ask that women take a more active and responsible role during dating and marriage. As one man said to a large group in Melbourne, Australia, "Women expect me to read their minds. But I can't. Yet I'm made wrong if I ask for their input." Many men in the audience laughed in recognition and applauded their compatriot's honesty, while numerous women giggled in guilty acknowledgment. In Detroit, a lighting technician for a television interview we did shared a recent experience he had had with his wife. "She's always saying she wants me to be more emotional. But then when I told her I was feeling anxious that I might lose my job, she told me she didn't want to hear about it, that I should just deal with it and not upset her."

Yes, Men are Fearful of Women

The fact is that men are human too. They feel deeply, they care passionately, and they want to be respected, and loved. And, as so many men have shared with us, they become self-conscious and fearful of opening themselves and expressing their truth if they're not sure women will acknowledge and respect them for their full range and depth of human experience.

You see, men are eager to share themselves with women, but only when they can feel safe that their inner reality will be valued and treated with care. Otherwise, yes, men will retreat from the threat of women's contempt or rejection. But otherwise, men want very much to have adult-to-adult relationships with women rather than acting out the pretense of Knight in Shining Armor with the Damsel in Distress who needs to be rescued from danger in order to feel loved and made whole.

But the roles that men have been expected to play have been very limited. Only recently have men been allowed to participate in the births of their children. Only recently have men been able to make the choice to be house-husbands, staying home to care for the children while their more ambitious wives go to work—without becoming the butt of jokes and mocked by friends. And only recently have men begun to actively participate in planning their own weddings.

When He's Only an Onlooker

Think about it. Women want active marriage partners, yet they've traditionally left their fiances in the dark while they went off with their mothers to plan every last detail of the wedding, reception, and often the honeymoon. What happened to the strong, brave knight? He's been reduced to an onlooker who's often cast out of the wedding planning entirely by the mother of his bride. So where would this husband-to-be learn that his input, his expertise, his participation is wanted and needed by the woman who says she loves and needs him?

No surprise then that so many men start off their marriages feeling like accessories, not nearly what their new wives had in mind. They learned their sideline role very well. So when they retreat to their computer, the newspaper, or Monday Night Football, they are only continuing to leave all the action and responsibility to their wives just as they learned during the wedding preparation process.

The Magic of Our Differences

We'd all prefer, men and women alike, to be respected and valued for who we really are, free from the old limitations and role-playing. And that's happening more and more as men and women open themselves to bridge the age-old divide between them. We call it the magic of differences, made possible by genuine curiosity and sincere listening to know the human truth beyond the old cliches about "all any woman wants is . . .", and "that's how men are".

That's why we wrote our latest book, The Smart Couple's Guide to the Wedding of Your Dreams: Planning Together for Less Stress and More Joy. We see now that more men, upwards of 40% of new grooms, are bridging the gender gap by involving themselves in the entire wedding journey—from engagement through the honeymoon. However, while there are countless books for the bride, our book is the only one written to support the wedding couple.

As one groom told us, when we interviewed him for our book, "It's about time we men got a little press." He was eager to tell us about his experience as a full partner with his fiancee in planning their wedding. He was aware that often no one listens to what men want, feel, and think about their weddings, their children, and their marriages. Then women are baffled by how men act, how men shut down and won't talk, how eager men can be to hang out with their guy friends. Well, why not if what men learn is that they're responsible for pursuit and capture but during the wedding journey their input and participation is considered a nuisance, not at all valuable.

It is only when we remember that men are human that we open the door to spiritual equality, relating as partners, making ourselves available for deeper emotional intimacy, more trustworthy and romantic love. Only then is the path available to create far more fulfilling relationships, the kind we all truly want.

How Do You Know It’s Love?

Real love and real romance, the kind that lasts a lifetime, that’s what most people want.

So why does dating have a bad rap? And why do more than half of all marriages end up in divorce?

The answer’s pretty clear when you look at what most people settle for, or worse yet, put up with.

But, the fact is, there’s a world of deep spiritual connection, great adventure, and rich unfolding romance . . . all available when you know what you’re looking for . . . and how to let love lead every day.

In our twenty years of being together(nineteen married) we’ve conducted an informal survey of couples who obviously have remarkable relationships.

Young and older, they all shared several things in common.

1) The other person was not their type.

2) There wasn’t instant chemistry.

3) They very often met in a way that was unusual, unpredictable, or at least unexpected.

4) They frequently had significant differences. These are just a few real life examples: :

  • Religion—Christian and Jewish, Buddhist and Agnostic
  • Politics—Democrat and Republican, avid campaigner and non-voter
  • Nationality—German and Japanese, Chinese and Jewish
  • Age—16-21 years apart
  • She’s Older—11-20 years beyond his years
  • She’s Taller—she’s 6'2" and he’s 5'9"

5) One or both people were often in debt or some kind of financial stress.

6) One or both were in the middle of some kind of business or career upheaval . . . or . . .

7) Frequently what the other did for a living was initially quite unsettling—one southern princess fell in love with and married a sewer maintenance supervisor, an elegant five-star hotel event booker fell in love with and married a thoroughly tattooed truck driver, and a conservative, home-body father of two fell in love with and married a free-spirited adventurer who travels in her work.

8) Often, one of them was married or not yet divorced when they met.

So, bottom line, some aspects of these outstanding relationships came from beyond what they’d imagined, beyond their previous ideas and experience of love.

And all of them had the same experience we’d had.

Whether it took days, weeks or sometimes months, they realized without a doubt that this was the relationship of their lives.

How did they know it was lasting love?

As we did and still do, all of these people experience the challenge of their differences as a profound spiritual teacher, expanding and enhancing their experience of living and loving.

And, just as it remains true for us today, twenty years after meeting, all of these couples remain committed to letting love lead. Wherever love takes them, they follow—heart and soul—knowing that while real life love isn’t always easy, it is always the finest transformational magician they’ve ever known.

And the ultimate reward for letting love lead?

Deep, joyous appreciation for being together. Every day!

The Five Keys to the New Intimacy

Since you probably received no formal training in how to date effectively or create a successful, long-lasting marriage, here are the five keys to creating a new intimacy, an emotional intimacy that takes you beyond sex-roles and techniques and tolerance, and moves you deep into the heart of a relationship that respects and values both of you.

1. Your partner is not you. In every relationship there always are two distinctly different people. In the old intimacy, both people tried to get one another to match their fantasies. In the new intimacy, both people respect and work with the differences.

2. You and your partner co-create your relationship right from the beginning. You both are active participants. Neither one of you is powerless. In the old intimacy powerlessness was expressed through dominance or submission, leading to power struggles. In the new intimacy, both people know they have real impact and work together to create necessary changes.

3. Curiosity about your partner is essential. Curiosity is the sweetest aphrodisiac there is. We all want someone to recognize, understand and desire us for who we really are. In the old intimacy, relationships were largely shaped by acting out sex-role-performances. In the new intimacy, a sincere interest in the other person, how s/he is feeling, what s/he wants and needs, creates a deep, ongoing and fulfilling connection.

4. Conflict is unavoidable when two uniquely different people join there lives together. Fair fighting and creative conflict resolution honor your changing needs and keep the relationship healthy and growing. In the old intimacy, conflict is a dangerous win-lose situation. In the new intimacy, conflict is just a warning that something needs to change and a mutually beneficial resolution is the goal.

5. You must be able to receive the love that is given to you. Being loved is only meaningful when you can receive it. When you do, the love that comes to you will be sweet and warm and completely acceptable. In the old intimacy, people hid behind role playing, suffering chronic fear that “if you really got to know me” you’d -- leave, laugh, reject me. In the new intimacy, both people know that love is expressed in many different ways and that learning to receive more and more love is a blessing to their growing intimacy.

Love and Prejudice

Much of what you learned about love and intimacy may no longer work.

Conventional ideas of relationship and marriage don‘t leave much room for who two people are as individuals. Centuries-old gender stereotypes have forced men and women to play out predetermined roles. They prejudice and limit what can happen. As a result, relationships often feel like exercises in futility, leaving people enraged or depressed wondering -- “What’s the point?”

But the source of prejudice actually goes deeper. We all grew up learning, to some degree, that those who are different are somehow “wrong,” “bad,” “not to be trusted.” So we feel threatened by those who are not like us.

When your date or mate behaves in ways that are different from what you expect, don’t you feel the impulse to want things your way? Doesn’t that wipe out the other person? And it all happens so fast, it just seems like “the way things are.”

Well, it’s not! Any time we want things to go only our way we are immersed in prejudice, in a deep seated need to protect against anything different from ourselves. Then the world becomes a tiny place, only as large as we are. And we’re left to wonder why we feel so alone and lonely.

Yet, there’s so much more to life than just what we already know. And some of the best teachers are those people who are different from what we already know and expect. It’s because they are different that we can be awakened to new consciousness about all kinds of things, most importantly to new awareness about ourselves and those we love.

To be prejudiced means to pre-judge others (and often ourselves). When we drop the fear of differences then we give ourselves and others the benefit of our openness to discovery. Then we can be alive in the adventure of life each and every day.


No matter how much two people have in common, they will always be different in many ways. And that can be challenging.

Do you feel you can speak up about issues that bug you, hurt you, scare you when your partner behaves in ways you don't like? Or are you afraid that speaking up will threaten your relationship?

If you fear that speaking up will make too big a problem, then you’re voting for your fear and your lack of value. Your fear won't let you talk about changes you want (and we ALL want some changes in a long term relationship) and you’re insisting you aren't worthy of having a voice -- only your partner’s ways count!

The other day Jim was touching up paint on molding he'd put up in our hallway upstairs -- and he was standing on an antique carpet runner we'd purchased at an auction here.

Judith was horrified of a potential paint spill and shocked Jim would take the risk. So she said, "Jim, please don't leave anything valuable around when you're painting." And Jim said, "I'm being careful." Judith replied, "OK, but most accidents happen when we're being careful. Please don't do it." In response Jim rolled up the rug and vowed he’d never do it again. He wanted her to be comfortable and not worried.

If Judith hadn't spoken she would have stewed over how dumb Jim can be, how his parents were dumb not to teach him to protect things and she would have built a private case against Jim, distrusting him more and more, undermining our relationship. That's the destructive power of not speaking up!

In the new intimacy, love is based on continually creating the relationship. Both people are loved for who they are and feel safe to speak up.

Don't cheat your love by hiding your complaints or desires -- it needs the fertilizer of your speaking up!

New Love, New Love

A few years ago we moved to a tiny mountain town, out in the country of upstate New York from Santa Monica, CA -- to live in a 200-year old farm house on 2 acres with a pond.

This move has opened us in so many ways -- ways we could never have predicted. But first we had to trust our impulse to take a big leap, to let go of a need for certainty. Of course, the same leap is required in any new relationship or when we give ourselves fully to a marriage that has been neglected.

We’re surrounded by God's beauty, we live on a road dotted with old farm houses and the skies are a painter's dream. Only because we followed an impulse to move beyond a lifestyle that had become predictable, to dance with life! We gave ourselves to the adventure of expanding intimacy -- both with one another and with nature!

Certainly this change has come with challenges -- the water smelled of sulphur, mice visited the kitchen on a regular basis, the chimney was dangerously cracked and on and on..

Yet, we are both much the richer for these encounters with a new reality. Each of us is more resilient, more flexible, more conscious of the positive blessings of our life here each and every day -- the new joy we feel in being together, the deeper levels of intimacy and tenderness we feel.

Jim learned how to put up wallpaper and keep the beavers from blocking our pond run-off. Judith now loves to wear hiking boots and puts vases of wild flowers around the house in the spring. We‘re being changed in so many ways -- and the challenges haven’t stopped -- and we’re still loving it!

So, let love play more in your life. Trust that it will be good for you. Even if you are scared or anxious, even if you feel out of control -- do it anyway!!!!

She Wants to Feel Special

You may have found yourself complaining that no matter what you do for your woman, it's never good enough. We've heard that from single men, married men, men of all ages. Yet, all too often, no matter what men may do for women, a crucial element is missing.

At the heart of what a man needs to know about a woman is that she wants, even needs to feel special. Special for being who she really is, special in the eyes of the man she loves. But, what exactly does feeling special mean?

Men have told us over and over that what they find maddening is that feeling special means something different for each woman. They say, "If I only knew what she meant, I'd do it. I'd be it. I'd buy it. Whatever." While that would make things easy, romance and marriage would suffer terribly as a result, because that kind of doing, being, buying would just be a performance.

So What Does Special Mean

To help make the meaning of "being special" clear, we first want to ask you a question. Do you like it when a woman assumes things about you? Probably, if what she assumes aligns with what you think about yourself. But what if it doesn't? Then what? Wouldn't you want to correct her misperception, her misunderstanding? Yet you know darn well that you could correct her, but if she wasn't willing to be curious about you, didn't genuinely want to know who you are, then nothing would change.

So, in reverse, curiosity is crucial to your woman feeling special.

Think about it, are you sincerely curious about the woman you are with--or, for that matter, women in general? Are you as curious about your wife (or your date) as you are about other things in your life? Do you want to know who she is, especially when you don't understand her?

Here's an even more basic question. Do you know how to be curious about her? Sure, you've got to ask questions. But do you really want to hear the answers? Do you take the time and care to sincerely listen? Listening doesn't mean paying attention to your response. Listening that lets her know she's special requires that you take in what she thinks and feels and letting her know that you really heard her.

Here's a Key

A key to remember that will deepen and sweeten your relationship is that the woman you are with is not you. Simple enough, right? After all, you're a man and she's a woman. What could be more obvious? Unfortunately, in many many relationships, that's as far as it goes.

Far more important is that she is a unique person in her own right, different from all other women. Don't lump her into a Mars/Venus muddle. That just makes her like every other female, and that's a sure fire recipe for more disappointment and misunderstanding.

She is not every other woman. She is who she is, uniquely one-of-a-kind and, in that way, very special. You don't have to do anything to make her special. She already is. But if you can't recognize that reality as the baseline for how you relate to her, then no gift, no card, no expensive night out will ever make a difference. In fact, it will only dig a much deeper gulf between you.

Remember, she's not you. Find out who she is.

Not for You but with You

In our workshops we ask couples to do a basic exercise. They sit across from each other and take turns expressing what they love about their partner. What we usually hear follows a predictable pattern.

He'll say something like: "I love you because I feel good being with you." Or, "I love you because you turn me on." Or, "I love you because you make me laugh." Can you see the problem? These are not about her. They are about him. He feels good. He's turned on. He laughs.

What if he said: "I love you because you are so insightful. You really have a gift for seeing things in people." Or, I love you because you're so adventurous. You really are bold." Or, "Your sense of color makes what you wear really compliment who you are." These are about her. And when she knows you care enough to notice, she will feel special.

Sure, her insight may impress you, and being impressed is about you. The same is true for the kick you get out of her willingness to try things, or how proud you feel when you're out with her. But if you can't tell her about her in her own right, then it's only about you and that's a drag.

Remember. She's not there for you. She's there with you.

Learning from Her

Your woman also wants to know that she is someone you are willing and wanting to learn from. If you admire her point of view on things, the way she formulates her experience of being alive, her thoughts and opinions, she will feel that you are equals. It's not only that you care for her, but that you value her even if you weren't together. So it's not just your relationship that makes her attractive. She's attractive to you as a person. Period.

One of our favorite stories was told to us by a woman in New York City. She accepted a first date with a man who took her to a very up-scale restaurant. He was good looking, dressed well, and understood wines--maybe a catch.

However, during the two hours they spent together, he never asked her one question. She knew about wines. Tried to tell him. Nothing got through. She was up on politics. Didn't matter. She was even a die-hard Yankees fan. So what. The whole evening was about him.

Before the main course was served, she placed thirty dollars on the table, told him, kindly, that it wasn't working out, took a cab home, and spent the rest of the evening reading a novel she was thoroughly enjoying.

There was nothing he could learn. And, other than sex, it's a wonder he even went out with anyone.

Real Intimacy

Most people associate the word intimacy with sex. But real intimacy is so much more than that. It's about being open, sincerely wanting to know about, understand, learn from, care for, enjoy, like, and love the person you're with--for who she really is. That’s why we’re so passionate in our new book, The Smart Couple's Guide to the Wedding of Your Derams, about the groom being fully involved with the bride in planning their wedding. But no matter the occasion, or even at the end of the day, don’t miss out on being emotionally intimate with the woman you love.

Of course, your woman has to receive and value what you give her. And she must reciprocate, because there's no such thing as one-way intimacy.

So offering genuine emotional intimacy, the real thing, is the foundation of treating your woman as special. That's how she'll know you really care about her. And so will you.

"Are You Free To Be Fabulous?"

Have you ever really thought about your super most magnificent goals in life?

No-holds barred.

You out there with no limitations on how you express yourself, knowing the world will be a better place for you being so fabulous.

It’s doubtful that you’ve allowed yourself to look into that mirror.

Why do we say that?

Because we live in a culture that cherishes mediocrity, that encourages self-doubt, and extracts apologies for making the A-team.

Well, we say enough of that. Enough!

Instead, we ask that you to begin thinking about who you would be, what you would do, and how you would impact the world around you if you experienced The Freedom to Be Fabulous.

We can tell you that we would be leading the Standing O (as our friend Art calls a standing ovation).

Yes, we would be cheering you on!

Think about it as you answer a few questions to help get you started on your path to super success.

1) Look at your life history as you answer this question – Are you afraid to stand out from the crowd?

2) If you said yes - even a little bit – what are your images of standing apart, being ahead, expressing yourself like no one else that cause the fear?

3) Now, where and how did you learn that what other people think is more important than you being fully you? Because you weren’t born feeling that way, you had to learn it somewhere.

When you answer these questions honestly, going deep below the surface to dig away at any pretense or denial– you will be well on your way to living with The Freedom to Be Fabulous.

No Matter What I do, It's Never Enough!

“You never express your feelings!”

“I wish you’d share more....”

“Can’t we just be intimate and talk about what’s really going on?”

You’ve heard this before, right? The woman who claims to love you, but she keeps badgering you to open up. And then when you do, what happens? She accuses you of not being romantic enough, or manly enough, still not enough somehow. Right? Right!

Enraging? Frustrating? You bet! So, you keep saying to yourself, “What does she want from me?” as if you might find the magic answer.

Forget it. You can’t!

It's a Closely Guarded Secret

We’re going to let you in on a closely guarded secret. Why? Because for too long men have been seen as the problem in relationships. The myth is that women are the ones who are emotionally available and skilled with intimacy. It’s simply not true. Women are just as limited and confused about love as men. In fact, many women are allergic to genuine love, preferring instead the fantasy of “true romance.”

Ask most women, and they’ll tell you they grew up believing the romantic myth of Prince Charming—the perfect man who would sweep them off their feet, carry them to bed, make passionate love and propose marriage. No effort. No complications. No discomfort.

He would be tall, wealthy, and blindingly handsome. His elegant sophistication would be offset by the dangerous glint in his eye. Marriage to him would arouse envy in everyone around.

These fantasies usually have a theme of pursuit and conquer, heroic rescue, and sexual and financial bliss forever.

Those Dangerous Messages

Forget the powerful impact of feminism. Mothers, sisters, and friends still pass on some version of the following disastrous recipe for romance. Although today’s language may be a little different, the message remains the same:

Play hard to get—men love a challenge.

Don’t reveal too much about yourself—men love a mystery.

Never call a man--he’ll think you’re chasing him.

Never beat a man in sports or cards—men need to feel like the winner.

Build up a man’s ego—especially in public.

Don’t be so outspoken—men don’t like opinionated women.

This kind of advice is usually topped off with: “It’s just as easy to love a rich man.”

So women go into the dating game armed with seductive man-catcher manipulations and filled with unrealistic ideas of who men are, and what romance will be. They hope and pray that this man (or the next one) will be the fabulous Prince. Then worries and trouble will be over. Forever.

Not Really Available

These women, who will swear that they are serious about finding a good man and settling down, are, in fact, not available for a real relationship. Their heart belongs to Prince Charming. Or, rather, the dream of Prince Charming. When this is the case, it makes no difference that you may be intelligent, funny, successful, talented, worldly-wise, and emotionally available. That you are a good man, a caring friend, and a terrific lover is irrelevant, if not annoying. Real men aren’t what these women are looking for, so reasons have to be found to reject you.

“Not good enough,” is their secret mantra. “Someday the Right Man will show up.”

How many times have you suffered this kind of unfair rejection? How many times have you asked, “What am I doing wrong?” when often the answer was “being human.” After all, how can you, as a regular guy, compete when you’re secretly compared to a woman’s perfect fantasy lover?

Worse yet, you might be susceptible to falling victim to the Prince Charming myth. You’ve been raised to provide, protect, and care for the so-called “weaker sex.” So in your misguided attempts at playing the Prince, you find yourself somehow attracted to dependent, demanding, or troubled women who seem to need your emotional care and financial rescue.

Many of you still believe that it’s your responsibility to bring a woman to orgasm. That can only produce disaster. Because, if she doesn’t want to surrender, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it!

In this way, many good men set themselves up to get used and rejected by “romance addicts.” Nevertheless, it’s tragic that your honest and imperfect love gets bludgeoned by the unconscious fascination with the famous, dangerous, impossible-to-find Prince Charming.

Then these very same women describe men as “commitment phobes” who “can’t express their feelings” and “all they want is sex” as if they, simply by being women, are ready, willing and available for committed, surrenderful love. Don’t you believe it.

If anything, women can be even more terrified of commitment—because, in their unconscious heart of hearts, they know that a real relationship will require them to abandon the perfect love of their dreams in favor of an imperfect, regular guy who, by the way, sometimes needs to be reminded to get his hair cut and forgets where he put his car keys.

But being a “romance addict” is not necessarily a fatal flaw. Many women are able to recognize, when it’s pointed out to them, that they are caught up in fantasy and not dealing with who you really are. And many of those women genuinely want a relationship that will bring them real love and lasting fulfillment. In fact, they often feel tremendously frustrated and confused about why its been so elusive. This can be as true for married woman as those who are single.

So, if the woman you are with shows symptoms of never finding you to be enough, and you think that she and the relationship are worth the effort, by all means bring your frustration to her attention.

Be very clear that the endless complaints and criticism you hear from her is her problem, and at the same time, your vulnerability to feeling “not enough” is yours. After all, the two of you are doing this dance together.

Real Love in the Differences

If she is willing to examine her impluse to never feel satisfied with you, and you are open to looking at the reasons you cave in to feeling inadequate, then the path to real love and genuine intimacy has been opened.

We’re not promising an effortless, discomfort-free walk-in-the-park. Remember!?

We’re inviting you to enter the adventure of real love, which requires the two of you to open yourselves to your differences. For it is in the differences between you, and the challenges they provide, that you can set yourselves free from old self-destructive beliefs. And you can support each other to cast off allegiances to old beliefs that no longer serve you or your relationship.

This adventure into mutual wholeness, what we call discovering the magic at the heart of your differences, can only be discovered when you both recognize that you want to be available for real love and that you both have to grow into the fullness that real love requires.

After all, what a woman really wants is a man who has enough confidence to be just that—a man.

And a final note: If you confront her idealistic expectations and she blows you off, congratulate yourself for having the courage to confront her. Then, from us to you—“Good riddance!”

Make the Most of "Mistakes"

It's so easy to feel embarrassed and humiliated by the dumb stuff we all do. You've no doubt tried to hide the evidence that would expose you. And every one of us has lied to cover up our mishaps. But what about turning moments that might be thought of as mistakes into part of your intimate family history?

The other day Judith decided she would make lamb stew. But she didn't have any flour to thicken her concoction. So she thought by mashing up some of the cooked potatoes and putting that into the mix it would do the job. Well, it didn't. So what she ended up with was a pretty runny mix.

She told Jim about her experiment and then served him what was a kind of stew and sort of like soup.

So Jim started calling it "stoup." Lamb stoup.

Now "stoup" is part of our intimate history and an endearment that will be with us for a long time.

And then another time Jim used an antique piano stool he'd bought for Judith as a step stool to fix a window blind. Oops! The mahogany seat cracked and it now wobbled when Judith sat on it to do her make-up.

At first she couldn't understand what had caused the damage, but then she put two and two together -- and voila! -- she'd solved the puzzle. Now, she had to reconcile her anger at the broken piano stool with her compassion for Jim‘s naivete about how delicate some things can be.

The answer -- to remember that it all came from love -- both the gift of the stool and the crack that happened while Jim was lovingly fixing the blind. So she decided to get it fixed so it won't wobble anymore but keep the crack -- because every time she sees the crack she sees how much Jim's behavior is motivated by love. And so the cracked piano stool is also part of our family's romantic lore.

How can you see your foibles as simply human, sometimes pretty funny, sometimes a lot of aggravation, but just human--and love your humanity while you fix the problem as well as you can? And how can you get creative and make the most loving tribute out of your sweetheart's mistakes? After all, they're just "mistakes."

Fertilize Your Love

Winter’s come and gone. And now, how does your garden grow?

No doubt it’s survived some difficult times during these past months, and yet it’s still there waiting for you to grab your favorite seeds, a bag of mulch, the trowel, and your flowered gloves so you can transform it into this year’s paradise. That’s not unlike the path of progress for romantic relationships. They, too, go through challenging conditions followed by new times of growth and expansion.

So while the grounds surrounding your home may be calling out for special care and attention, we want to take you for a stroll through the flower beds of love that live within your home. You’ll be pleased with how gardening can create marvelous magic even there.

Please join us as we start by introducing the two largest plants in our home.

We met on a blind date. Jim was 45 and twice divorced. Judith was 43 and never married.

We weren’t each other’s type and there wasn’t instant chemistry.

Yet, on the fourth date, when we first held hands, we knew something was happening that went beyond anything we’d ever experienced or even imagined. It scared us—and it was thrilling. We didn’t yet call it love. It simply announced itself through our holding hands—the heat, the intensity, the energy of a deeply connected soul-meeting.

It would be several more dates before we had the courage to kiss. And when we did, a tidal wave of emotion took over as Judith began to weep with joy—for reasons too profound to understand at the time. We couldn’t deny what was happening.

Rather soon, we began to discover how very different we were from each other—sort of like Neatly Tended Bonsai (Judith) meets Wildly Ranging Grapevine (Jim). We also came to our relationship with deeply tangled roots from our early years in separate nurseries where we grew from seedling to maturity, as well as the hot house pressures of trying to coil ourselves up the rigid trellises of others’ expectations.

Meanwhile, neither of us received expert pruning. Judith had been excessively trimmed back while Jim lacked appropriate direction. Hardly stuff for the best cross-fertilization. Yet we were old enough to know that it was in our differences that the soil of love could best be fertilized. The test would come with our first real fight. If only we could fight for the relationship and not to win.

We’d known each other four months when we went to Hanford, near the Sierras in Northern California. We had a wonderful time hiking through the redwoods, taking photographs of each other, and dancing and watching fireworks on the 4th of July.

As we paid the hotel bill, Jim saw a notice for a jazz concert a few months later and asked Judith if she’d like to come back for the event.

Judith was silent.

Rather abruptly and a bit too sharply, Jim said, “Okay, we won’t.”

Shocked and hurt, Judith shot back, “What’s wrong with you? I didn’t say no.”

Contempt curled around the edges. The fight was on.

We stalked out to the car, angry and scared, with hundreds of miles to go before the safety of our own homes.

Creepy parasites had burrowed up from the depths—Jim’s insecurity and Judith’s fear of attack. How would we respond to the pain that now flooded the blossoming of our togetherness? Would this tender exposure, forced into awareness by the hurricane of misunderstanding, kill or fertilize the new love that was taking root?

After we’d pouted and snarled a bit, we started settling into the demands of the storm,

realizing that we could either allow the winds to destroy what we had, or we could join together in discovering a new way to be together now that the weather had announced the need for change.

Judith: Why did you snap at me? I didn’t do anything.

Jim: You were silent for so long, I thought...

Judith: (defensively) I was just thinking!

Jim: Well, why didn’t you say so? I thought you hated my idea.

Judith: You didn’t have to take my silence personally.

Jim: You looked sullen, it made me feel insecure.

Judith: Insecure! Are you kidding!!?? Really? I thought you were punishing me because I didn’t respond immediately. I felt attacked.

The thorny nettles of deep truth were weeding their way into the open. Would we use them to hurt each other? Or would we treasure them as the kind of fertilzer necessary to help us grow the kind of love we wanted to share?

Digging into our conversation with curiosity and back-and-forth clarification, we slowly unearthed layers of compassion for each other’s injuries. Our growing awareness brought us much closer and eased the pain of old wounds that accompanied us on this intimate adventure.

What started out as a “stupid misunderstanding” in a hotel lobby turned out to be the profound seedling of deepest romance, richer love, and sweet sympathy for one another. It guided the rest of our trip home and informs our marriage all these years later.

We had indeed opened a can of worms. But just the kind that every gardener hopes for—those that produce rich, robust fertilizer from digesting whatever they take in.

And conflict is like fertilizer—it may not smell good but in the end it gives you a really colorful and robust crop.

Sadly, most people avoid fertilizing their love, afraid they’ll create root rot instead of revitalized soil. But that’s because they’ve never known how important conflict is to their own self-development, healing, and germination of new life. When people avoid clashing, they prohibit the growth of love and they avoid the spiritual learning that love was intended to provide.

You see, at the center of an established relationship, a couple’s garden plot will have well defined and agreed upon boundaries and support structures. Inside the garden it’s weeded, watered, and well tended. Everything is running smoothly and growing well. But out beyond the limits of their garden, it’s nothing but wilderness.

And when you get into the wilderness of your relationship, you don’t know what the lay of the land is, and you can easily crash into each other. That’s where most conflicts occur—where the wilderness needs to be cultivated to become more of your garden.

A conflict is like an SOS. It’s saying, “Listen, this clash of differences is just telling you that change is required. And the change will domesticate more of your wild territory, so that your garden can become larger and more beautiful.”

No clash is one-sided. When the beans and zucchini feel invaded by each other’s expansive growth, they each have a solid complaint. Likewise, each person in a conflict has a point of view that needs to be taken seriously. And each is similar to a plant species—it needs unique soil, moisture, pruning, and sunlight—and, to some degree, that’s always what each one is fighting for.

But out of ignorance, most people ignore each other’s differing needs and then try to force the other to give up being different. It’s like trying to get a rose to grow in the desert or a pine tree to take root in sand. It never works.

But when you use conflict as fertilizer, to learn more about yourself and each other— especially at deeper levels of emotional experience—then you both feel recognized and understood for who you really are. You then find yourself wanting to change, wanting to provide more appropriate conditions for each other’s development, and for the growth of your love.

When you love more fully through the process of conflict, you are changed. When you are loved as the result of healthy conflict, you are changed. Just like with nature’s spring flower festival, the more attention you pay to resolving weeds, mites, and beetle bugs, the more beautiful grows your garden of love.

Fertilize your love and the blessing of being together.

Fight well. Fight fair. Fight to know each other better and better.

Fight to grow the love you share.

Only then can you continually turn over new soil, creating and cultivating the very best growing conditions for your love.

© 2010, Judith & Jim

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I have always made a distinction between my friends and my confidants. I enjoy the conversation of the former; from the latter I hide nothing. - Edith Piaf

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