Susie & Otto


Menstuff® has compiled information and books on the issue of Relationships. This section is an archive of Susie and Otto Collins's weekly column featured daily on our homepage. They are spiritual and life partners who are committed to helping others create outstanding relationships of all kinds. They regularly write, speak and conduct workshops and seminars on love, relationships and personal and spiritual growth to audiences all across the USA.

They are the creators of the "Relationship Toolkit" which has helped people in over a dozen countries improve their relationships. It includes a video called Spiritual Partnerships plus two booklets Love and Relationship Success Secrets and 101 Relationship Quotes Worth a Million Dollars! You can also read more articles like these and subscribe to their weekly newsletter on love and relationships by visiting their web site at Their new E-book Should You Stay or Should You Go? has just been released and is now available

Avoiding Dust In Your Relationships
Being Conscious of the Differences in Ourselves and Others!
Breaking those old relationship habits
Building Trust In Relationships
Can Chocolate really bring passion back into your life?
Celebrating Those Baby Steps
Don't Take A Vacation From Love
Have You Got an 'Attitude'?
How Much do You Feel...
If Only. . .
Is Silence really Golden?
Just Breathe
Learning to Trust
Making the Connection
The Miracle of Choosing Kindness
Moving beyond your past
No Time For Love? Think Again
Partnership in Relationship
The Power of Opening your heart
The Process of Moving on
Rebuilding Trust--'I'm Sorry' just isn't enough
Staying open and not losing yourself
What are your Assumptions
What Happens after you Find your Soulmate?
"Why The "Golden Rule" is Wrong In Relationships
Withdrawing and Pushing in Relationships
Withdrawing and Pushing in Relationships" Part 2

Avoiding Dust In Your Relationships

A few weeks ago, Susie's daughter was in her car, sitting at a red light and a man began honking his horn and waving at her. Since she didn't know him, she assumed that he was angry and wanted her to run the red light! When they stopped at the next red light, he was in the lane beside her and he rolled down his window to talk with her. Since she was still thinking he was going to yell at her, she felt herself becoming more nervous and tense.

What he wanted to tell her was that her gas cap was on the top of her car! She had just pumped her own gas at a station and had not replaced the cap.

What she feared to be "road rage" was simply a man trying to help her.

Isn't this what we do in our relationships? We assume we know what the other person is thinking or feeling or what is important to them without stopping to ask them.

The other night at a concert, a friend. wonderful songwriter and performer Charley Thweatt used the analogy of dust collecting to describe what happens in relationships when you don't deal with issues as they come up. Pretty soon, dust collects and it's very difficult to have honest, open communication because of it.

One of the reasons that "dust" collects in relationships is the unexpressed assumptions that have been made by each person that may or may not be true. The reason we make assumptions is that our fears for what may happen in the relationship won't allow us to address issues as they come up.

What we try to do to avoid "dust" collecting in our relationship is to listen to each other without assuming and without being critical. When one of our "hot buttons" has been pressed by the other person, we try not to immediately make assumptions about the other's intentions. Instead, when an issue comes up, we talk about it together as soon as we can after we realize that an "issue" has come up. We explore what each of us is feeling, thinking and find out what's going on within.

We've discovered that when you do this in relationship, you no longer make assumptions because you know that honest communication will prevent any "dust" from accumulating between you.

So this week we suggest that instead of assuming you know someone's intentions and thoughts that you get out your dust mop and ask!!

Relationship Quote of the Week

"We can let go of fear when we stop judging and stop projecting the past into the future, and live only in the now." Dr. Gerald Jampolsky

Learning to Trust

Do you trust who you are in relationship with? Now, the answer seems pretty obvious if you are in a relationship with someone, but is it?

The truth is that you can be in a relationship with someone for years but not truly trust them--not be open to them.

We'll give you an example of this dynamic in action--In the beginning of our relationship, Otto started writing about marketing ideas. Because Susie is a much better editor than he is, he would ask for her help. He always became very defensive when Susie edited what he wrote and it would take some time to get past the "trust" issue of feeling criticized unfairly. He would take the criticism of the work personally instead of understanding that she was just trying to make the project better.

Even though we have felt like we were soulmates from the beginning of our relationship, there are issues from past relationships that creep in from time to time--and this was one of them.

Some people believe that when you enter into new relationships, you are starting fresh and you leave all of that baggage from previous relationships behind you. You always hope that's the case, but the truth is, you don't always heal everything from past relationships when you move on.

For the past few weeks, Otto's been writing another marketing book and guess what--Susie's editing again. But this time, we noticed a difference in Otto's reaction to Susie's suggestions for how to make the book better.

When she made her suggestions, he still had an initial reaction but this time didn't take the criticism personally. He trusted and felt that Susie just wanted to help him to make the book better.

This is a beautiful example of healing the past and the deepening of trust in our relationship. We believe that the foundation of any relationship is emotional safety and trust. This means that physical safety is a given and you feel emotionally safe enough to be who you really are and be able to express yourself freely.

Most people want to place the responsibility for trust in a relationship on someone else. They base their trust on how someone acts towards them.

Gary Zukav in his new book "The Heart of the Soul" says, "The experience of intimacy is not related to how others act or do not act, or how they speak or do not speak. It depends upon how energy leaves your energy system(your body). When energy leaves your processing system in love and trust, the result is the experience of intimacy."

So safety and trust in a relationship doesn't start with someone else--It starts with you and how willing you are to open up and allow the other in.

If you're having trust issues in a relationship, we suggest examining your own thoughts, feelings and issues from the past that have yet to be healed first before looking outward to someone else.

Relationship Quote of the Week

"Trust--this is the foundation of any relationship. Without it you cannot achieve real or even pretend intimacy. Trust is the starting point." Susie and Otto Collins

Just Breathe

The other night we watched the movie "Castaway" with Tom Hanks. One line caught our attention--Tom's character had been marooned on a desert island for several years and the only thing that kept him alive was the thought of coming home to be with the woman he loved.

The only problem was everyone thought he was dead and even though she had loved him very much, she had married someone else in the meantime.

The line that caught our attention was how he kept his life together after this crushing blow--He said, "Keep breathing. Tomorrow the sun will rise."

While it's important in times of despair to keep breathing in order to live, we use the breath not only as a way to keep living but a way to reconnect when there is conflict or distance between us.

If there's conflict or disagreement, what we do is first remember that the other person is truly our friend and not the enemy and from that place, we can begin to heal the disagreement.

We use the power of breathing as a tool to help us to regain our lost connection in those moments. What we do is look each other in the eyes and then start breathing in unison. As silly as it sounds, if you will consciously breathe in unison with your mate or friend, you will be amazed at how you can regain your center and your connection. We are then able to talk about what has happened between us and begin to heal what created the separation.

Breathing in unison to reconnect with one another is one of the most intimate things you will ever do with another person.

It only takes one person to destroy a relationship. But, it takes two people to create an outstanding relationship.

In order for this process to work, it requires both people to want to heal the relationship. It requires both people to let go of whatever fears they're holding onto and to let go of the need to be right.

This breathing exercise helps you to come into the present moment and focuses your attention on what's happening right now and not what happened with previous partners or in other relationships.

So we suggest that you take some time this week to share this idea with your mate or a friend. If you do, you will have another tool to use to help you to reconnect when challenges come up in your relationships.

Relationship Quote of the Week

Try very hard not to see your partner as the enemy. - Neale Donald Walsch

How Much do You Feel...

Remember in the movie "The Sixth Sense" where the young boy in the movie said to his mother "I see things!" We couldn't help but think about that line as we were writing this newsletter article.

In our judgement, one of the biggest keys to not just relationship success, but to enjoy a full rich life is to be able to identify and experience a full range of emotions every day-- in other words to be able to "feel things"

A few months ago, in one of our workshops, someone in the group shared that they haven't cried in over fifteen years. This is obviously a person who has put up a lot of walls so they don't have to access and feel difficult emotions.

If you are someone who is putting up walls to avoid looking at and feeling difficult or painful situations you are also keeping out the joy as well. As Barbara De Angelis once said, if you're repressing, you're repressing all emotions. You can't be shut down emotionally in one area of your life and expect the other parts to be going just fine. It's impossible. You're out of balance emotionally.

We've been watching Dr. Phil McGraw's "Get Real Challenge" every Tuesday on Oprah. In short, he's taking 42 people through an intensive, life changing 5 day workshop in front of Oprah's TV cameras so that we (the TV audience) could all learn from what these 42 people discover about themselves.

One by one, Dr. McGraw is helping each of the people unearth hidden events and emotions that have kept them from living life to the fullest. The point is that we may not all be able to have this experience with Dr. Phil but we can begin to allow ourselves to feel and then express what we are feeling.

Our society does not encourage you to be an individual, to feel your emotions and to express them. Men AND Women have both been taught to be strong, not express exuberance (except at sporting events) or grief. Our employers expect us to be back at work with smiles on our faces in two days after a personal tragedy.

In our lives, we are learning to express our emotions as they come up. By doing this, our partner doesn't have to guess how we are feeling or constantly ask us "what's wrong." We avoid the game playing that so often goes on in relationships when people hide what they are feeling from their friend or partner. As a result, we enjoy a close, connected relationship of the heart and soul. We think anyone can enjoy the same thing if they just tear down the walls.

One of the most moving speeches we've ever watched is one by the former head basketball coach of North Carolina State University and Broadcaster Jim Valvano. It was during the 1993 ESPN Espy awards and he was being honored with an award. He was dying of cancer and spoke about how he realized how precious life can be. In this speech, he said we should do 3 things every day. Number one is to laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is to think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is to have your emotions moved to tears, especially if they are tears of joy or happiness.

We think this is great advice for a life well lived.

Partnership in Relationship

As we travel across the country teaching people how to have more trust and passion in their relationships, we do it by teaching the concepts of partnership in relationship. Gary Zukav describes spiritual partnership in depth in "The Seat of the Soul" and we have used his work as one of our guides.

A spiritual partnership is when two people come together consciously as equals, growing separately together. They grow spiritually and personally--all within the framework of the relationship. They form a support system for each other, the foundation being safety and trust.

People often ask us how to create powerful and passionate relationships and the short answer is through constant communication, one moment at a time.

Openness and honesty are essential in building safety and trust which allows you to work toward being the true essence of who you are.

When you allow yourself to open totally to the other person, amazing things begin to happen. You begin to grow in ways you never thought possible because the other person is there to support you. You know deep within you that your partner is your friend and will help you build on your strengths.

Otto isn't comfortable dancing. He feels clumsy and awkward. But he goes dancing anyway, because he knows that Susie loves it. He also knows, knows that no matter how foolish he thinks he looks, Susie just wants to have a good time and gives him total love and support. He even has fun in the process.

When one of us is facing a spiritual or personal challenge, the other person is there to listen, to love and to offer support. Whether consciously or not, it usually works out for us that the person with the least fear leads--that can change from moment to moment. This is a concept we learned from Kenny and Julia Loggins in their book "The Unimaginable Life" and we've discovered that it has also been true in our relationship.

When two people come together for their personal and spiritual growth, a great deal of synergy happens. As Stephen Covey says in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, "Synergy happens when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If there is true synergy in relationship, one plus one equals three or more."

The Bible says that when two or more are gathered in my name, I will be there. Isn't that the essence of why we come together? To be closer to Spirit or to God? In partnerships, we help each other to heal, to grow, and to learn. Carolyn Myss says in her tape series "Spiritual Madness" that one of our purposes in incarnating is to get to know the parts of ourselves that don't know God yet. We believe that spiritual partnerships help you to know God.

We encourage you to form spiritual partnerships in all relationships in your lives. If you do, you will find that your life will be filled with joy, passion, growth, some pain, and a great deal of love.

Can Chocolate really bring passion back into your life?

If you're wondering where the passion is in your relationships and you can't seem to find it-- we're here to suggest that passion in your relationships is indeed possible. Not only is passion and new life possible, but you can have it *if * you want it badly enough. We're not just talking about sex here (although that is a possibility).

We're talking about creating the feeling of being alive and living life to the fullest. Recently we enjoyed the very passionate movie "Chocolat." The main character swept into a very small village that was full of passionless, grim people. She had the audacity to open a store filled with nothing but chocolate delicacies at the beginning of lent in a town where lent was taken very seriously. The people of the town had given up all pleasures such as chocolate for lent. The story unfolded as various members of the community began to "sample" her secret Mayan chocolate recipes which seemed to change their lives. One woman who was searching for a way--any way to bring passion back into her relationship with her husband purchased some chocolates and before long the sparks began to fly between them once again.

Another woman was in an abusive relationship. With the help of the chocolates and the love and mentorship of the main character, she was able to believe in herself for the first time. She then found the courage to leave her abusive husband.

Now we're not suggesting that eating chocolates will bring passion back to your relationships or cause you to gain self confidence. What we are saying is--if you find yourself in a relationship where you're just going through the motions of life, passion is possible for your life. As long as you keep hope alive and set it as your intention to create the kind of relationship you want--it is possible.

Regardless of the description offered by the critics, we thought this movie was about hope and the magic of bringing passion back into your life. We think it's a good metaphor for what is possible in our lives if we are just willing to open up and let it in. In his book "Treasury of quotes," motivational speaker and philosopher Jim Rohn said "I used to say, "I sure hope things will change. Then I learned that the only way things are going to change for me is when I change." We think that this is good advice. If you want outstanding relationships you have to start with you. You have to become the kind of person who would attract the kind of person you want to be with. Whether it's a relationship with someone you're already with or someone else, it all begins with you.

The characters in "Chocolat" learned to create their lives the way they wanted them--with joy and passion--and we believe that you can too if you're willing to do what is necessary to have it.

Relationship Quote of the Week

"In the current of universal energy in which we bathe and flow,the destination is assured. The peace we deserve and the love we seek will come to us, when it will, as it will, as abundantly as we dreamed. " Leigh Sanders

If Only. . .

We don't know if birds do it or if bees do it but we do know that most of the people we've come in contact with do it. What we're talking about is the mantra of the modern era--"If only...."

"If only" is what many of us tend to focus on in all of our relationships. We tend to focus on the qualities that we don't like in others rather than the qualities that we do like. "If only he/she would listen to me." "If only we had a bigger house." "If only he would pick up his clothes." "If only I had a better job." "If only there was more passion in our relationship."

One of the biggest obstacles to having great relationships is focusing on what we don't like about someone else.

In fact, it's not just in our relationships that we do this. It's in many areas of our lives.

One of the keys to creating great relationships sometimes requires you to change the way you look at life. It requires you to focus on what you like, love and admire about the people in your lives instead of what you don't like.

Otto has had many jobs in his career as a salesperson and marketer. As he looks back and reflects on what he considers his really "good" jobs, he left because of those two words--"If only." He was focused on the negative parts of those jobs instead of focusing on their benefits. He let "if only" rule his career and as a result, he left more than one job before he should have.

The same thing is true in your relationships.

Every time you find yourself saying those two little "If only..." words, this should serve as a reminder that you are wanting someone or some thing in your life to be different than it really is.

You've heard us say before in this newsletter about how important it is to love others in your life wherever they are and not where you'd like them to be.

We suggest that if you find yourself saying "If only..." about a person or a situation in your life, stop yourself and focus on the good things about this person or situation.

The joy in life just gets sucked out of you if spend your time dwelling on past unhappy events,things you don't like,things you can't control and futurizing about negative events that haven't happened yet.

In life and in your relationships you have a choice. You can spend your time trying to get someone else to change and be more in alignment with what you want or you can find a way to love them where they are.

If it's not possible for you to love another person where he or she is, then you have another choice whether to stay in that relationship or not.

This is also true of a job or any situation in your life. If you spend your time at work saying to yourself (if not out loud) "If only..." then I'd like my job-- then you are hoping for someone or some thing outside of your control to change or be different.

So we suggest that tomorrow you pay attention to the situations where you find yourself saying or thinking,"If only..." then write down what you appreciate about that person, job or relationship.

Keep that list handy so that you can focus on the positives in your life instead of the negatives. This is gratitude in action and can change your life.

Being Conscious of the Differences in Ourselves and Others!

When we get into intimate relationships and find that "perfect soulmate," we expect that our partner will be like-minded, have similar views, like to do the same things, have the same views on raising children, and the same ideas about spending money. The reality is that we are each separate individuals, with different backgrounds, belief systems, and emotional patterns. In the Sept/Oct 2000 issue of Modern Maturity magazine, an article highlighting inter-racial, inter-generational, and inter-cultural relationships caught our attention. Since there's a 16 year difference in our ages, this article really spoke to us.

In this article, John Gottman, author of several relationship books, said, "We often expect our mate to understand and meet our expectations. If that doesn't happen, we feel he/she must not love us enough, or is intentionally being hurtful."

The point is that your mate is just coming from another point of view. He goes on to say that because "inter" couples "often enter marriage with a more conscious awareness of the cultural, age or racial differences between them, they're more likely to address these issues by talking openly about them." This openness from the beginning of the relationship helps to depersonalize the conflicts and eliminate the hurt feelings that often arise when differences surface.

People tend to believe that if they have the same spiritual beliefs, grow up in the same community, got to the same schools, have the same family background, or like bowling, golf or dancing, they will always think alike and the differences between them won't be great. The fact is that you can grow up next door to someone, be the same age, go to the same schools but have dramatically different cultural, philosophical and personal viewpoints and belief systems.

The "inter" couples in the article said that when there are apparent differences in ideology, culture, race, age, religion, those differences stand out quickly, forcing you to deal with them up front. We've all heard people say "What happened to the person I married?" The truth is that more likely than not the differences were there all the time and were just finally coming to the surface. It seems like such a shock to you that you have these differences that you start doubting the wisdom of your choice to be in a relationship with this person who is so "unlike" you.

This concept is illustrated in Steven Covey's story about the man and the optometrist. Imagine if you would sitting across from your optometrist. Your are handed his/her eyeglasses and told to try those on. When you tell your doctor that you can't see a thing, the optometrist says, "I don't know why--they've worked well for me all these years. I can see perfectly fine with them!"

Isn't that what happens when we don't accept that our intimate mate might come from another frame of reference, separate from ours, on a particular topic?

You expect that someone else's lenses will work for you and when they don't, you are surprised and sometimes angry.

If you really want intimate, connected relationships, you have to understand and respect the "glasses" that your mate uses to see life, while honoring and sharing your own "pair of glasses." We've found that expecting that there will be differences, listening without interrupting, and then speaking freely without fear are key elements to working through the differences that arise between us.

The first step to healing anything in your life is through awareness, If you are feeling separation or distance from your mate or anyone in your life, try looking at the issue from the frame of reference through which the other sees life.

Habit 5 of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits says, "Seek first to understand then be understood."

When you do that, it's very difficult to be angry with that other person and can be the beginning of a deeper connection.

Have You Got an 'Attitude'?

Bob and Carol had a "communication problem." They talked. He thought everything was fine.

That is, until he realized a few days later that everything his partner said to him had these biting undertones of an "attitude".

So, Bob (like a lot of people in relationships) is wondering--what do you do when your partner says everything's fine but the negative energy in the room is so strong that you could cut it with a knife.

The problem is that they really didn't get their communication issue resolved and Carol isn't able to tell Bob how she is really feeling.

In psychological terms, many of us might label her actions toward Bob as passive/aggressive.

The truth is that no matter what we want to call her behavior, she is acting out of her pain about this "communication problem" that wasn't really healed.

At the beginning of her previous marriage, Susie and her husband found themselves playing a cruel game of "one upmanship."

They were very critical and picked at each other over the smallest of things. This was because they couldn't and weren't willing to talk about the real issues that were going on between them.

Their "attitudes" toward each other were masking the pain of resentment they felt about their relationship. After this went on for a while, they decided on a truce but never did tackle the real issues underneath those "attitudes" and the marriage eventually ended.

You've heard us say many times before in this newsletter that old resentments never die. They just get buried alive and come up later in uglier ways.

This is what happened in both of these examples. The people in these relationships didn't address what they were really feeling and their negative feelings didn't go away.

We've really been impacted lately by the work of Terrence Real author the book "How can I get through to you."

He says about resentment, "If you can really let go, then go ahead and do it. But then don't mope around feeling like a victim. If there's one shred of resentment in your decision then go back to the negotiating table. Even if it means kicking up a fuss."

We suggest that when an issue comes up between you and your partner, put your cards on the table and urge your partner to do the same.

One partner cannot "get" the other to communicate responsibly. You can only share what you are feeling and agree to listen to understand and without judgment to your partner.

In other words, no matter how difficult it is in the moment, talk about what each of you are feeling and stay with the process until there is a genuine understanding between the two of you.

The only reason anyone would "cop an attitude" is that they don't feel safe enough to express their feelings or maybe they can't even identify what's really going on inside them.

What's underneath all of this is the pain of a lost connection that needs to be healed.

Rebuilding Trust--'I'm Sorry' just isn't enough

Several years ago, Otto worked as a door-to-door sales person for a company in our area. One of the biggest challenges with this job was not meeting the sales quotas but rather to keep from getting bitten by dogs.

In fact, one day in less than 30 seconds after a woman told him her dog wouldn't bite, the dog charged after him at full speed. Had the dog's owner not grabbed the dog, Otto would have been bitten.

Otto was skeptical when the woman told him her dog wouldn't bite and he was even more skeptical of what she had to say after the dog tried to bite him!

It can be that way in our relationships when someone has disappointed us over and over and we've lost trust in that person. We just seem to put a question mark in front of everything they say or do.

So what do we do if we want to stay in a relationship with this person?

How do we learn to trust that person again?

We think that one of the keys to rebuilding trust has more to do with what happens after one or both of you apologizes and says "I'm sorry" than the apology itself.

We've all heard the saying, "Actions speak louder than words" and this is especially true when it comes to rebuilding trust.

When there has been an acknowledgment of wrong-doing or if one person has hurt another in some way, there are some things that both people can do to rebuild trust.

Here's what we suggest for the person who feels they have been hurt:

1. After the apology, be clear about what actions you would like the other person to take to make amends.

2. If the other person is willing, make an agreement about these actions and how this situation will be handled in the future.

3. Be open to the possibility that no matter how this person's conduct may have been in the past, this person may change their behavior. Be willing to give up the "victim" position and the desire for making them pay for what they've done.

4. Watch for positive actions by this person in the future and let them know how much you appreciate it when they've "done it right." In other words, give some positive reinforcement.

Here's what we suggest for the person who is apologizing:

1. Understand that a sincere apology is only the first step toward rebuilding trust and your connection with that other person.

2. Ask how you can make amends for what you have done and listen to what the other person is telling you.

3. Be open to the possibility that you can change and get some help if you need to.

4. If you are sincerely willing to change your behavior in the way that the other person suggests, make an agreement to make those changes.

5. Be consistent in your follow through.

We've found that rebuilding trust can take many years or it can happen in an instant.

The amount of time that it takes to rebuild trust often depends on how long the people involved are determined to protect and defend their hearts so that they won't be hurt again.

We know that there are many instances where either a person wants to change and just can't or they have no desire to make the changes that will rebuild trust. They just go through the motions and the excuses and apologies are repeated over and over with no positive actions.

If this is what you are experiencing, you have choices to make whether this behavior is important enough for you to take a stand against or not.

Remember, that no matter what has happened up until now it's always important to give love a chance. It's also important to set healthy boundaries.

It's Time to Let Go of Old Roles....

There is something happening in almost every corner of the world that is bigger than any one of us individually that is changing the face of our relationships forever.

What is happening is that men are becoming more conscious, connected and emotionally aware and women are becoming more empowered.

Some people still believe that men and women are coming from different planets and that each sex's wants and needs are so radically different that each gender requires an interpreter to figure out what each other wants.

We think that some of this may have been true at one time--but, not anymore.

In his book "The Soul Stories," Gary Zukav referred to these evolutionary changes in men and women as the "New Male" and the "New Female."

The "New Male" is desiring in increasing numbers things such as love, connection, closeness, truth, authenticity and a depth in their relationships that they simply didn't allow themselves to have in the years gone by.

Men in increasing numbers are embracing what would be typically thought of as more feminine qualities and developing a real sense that they want more from their relationships than they have allowed themselves to have in the past. They are wanting connections with their children that weren't possible previously.

What today's "New Female" is creating is a life of empowered possibilities, hope, and a new sense of self that hasn't seemed possible for many women until now. She is choosing how she wants her life to be and doesn't need someone to "take care of her" but rather is a co-creator in her life experience with another person. She is asking for what she wants instead of waiting for someone else to lead the way.

In the past, men did what was considered "men's work" and Women did "women's work." We each knew our roles and we played them well. This served us well in many ways like ensuring safety for our families and making sure the children were taken care. However, this didn't do much for creating closer and more connected relationships between men and women. In fact, in many ways it seemed to divide them.

As we see it, one of the most important things that men and women can do to create the love, connection and passion in their relationships that we know is possible is for both men and women to make it okay for men to become emotionally aware of their thoughts and feelings.

In the past, most men haven't felt like it was acceptable in this culture to feel and express true emotions of the heart. In fact, many women have helped to perpetuate the "ideal" male who is the strong, silent, tough guy--the guy who's a little wild and needs a "good woman" to help him "settle down."

While it is hardly true of all women, many, on the other hand, have looked to men to support them financially, make all the important decisions, and to be a "knight in shining armor" who will sweep them away and keep them safe.

In our opinion, the most important thing for women to do in order to create the relationships and lives many say they want is to claim their own personal power and take personal responsibility for their lives.

This doesn't mean that women should take the stance of becoming angry, hostile, vindictive, or that they "have to do it all themselves" and perhaps be alone, but rather develop within themselves the attitude of equality, worth, purpose and take responsibility for their own happiness.

In our workshops and personal coaching that we offer, one of our favorite phrases concerning differences is to encourage people to wonder about "What they can learn from others" instead of having the differences be divisive. We think it's very appropriate to include and apply this idea to this discussion.

Instead of complaining about how emotional women seem to be, men can learn a great deal if they are open to asking themselves the question about the women in their lives--"What can I learn from you about how to feel and express my emotions and about being caring and nurturing with others?"

Instead of complaining about how men get what they want and are "advantaged" in our society, women need to ask themselves when they are feeling like victims or second class citizens--"What can I learn from you to step up and assume my birthright as your equal and learn how to empower myself?"

If men and women want to create close, connected, passionate relationships, the desire for a connection of the heart and soul has to become more important to them than holding onto the gender roles that society has dictated for hundreds of years.

While these roles served their purpose at one time, in this time of expanding energy in the universe, both men and women need to learn from each other so that they can move forward into co-creating together, as partners, the lives that are possible for them to enjoy.

So this week, we invite you to spend some time reflecting on how you can find ways to create more love, connection and creativity in all your relationships.

We also invite you to examine what kinds of beliefs you may be attached to and how letting go of some of those old beliefs could actually help you move forward to a deeper place and provide the catalyst for creating a richer and more rewarding life.

It's time for all of us to become partners, co-creators and collaborators on the path of love instead allowing our fears to keep us separate and distant.

Letting go of your stuck position

Marlin and Dory found themselves in a whale's mouth hanging on for dear life, fearing that if they fell into the whale's belly, they would be eaten.

Dory happened to be able to speak "whale" so she told the whale that they were trying to find Marlin's son and that they needed the whale's help. The whale told them to just "let go."

Fearing the consequences of falling into the whale's stomach if they just "let go," Marlin asked, "How do we know it will be okay?"

The whale answered--"You don't."

This, of course, is one of the scenes from the Disney film "Finding Nemo." Although the characters are not human, we think this scene beautifully illustrates what happens in the lives of many people when they are "stuck" in their relationships and when they are faced with many decisions in their lives.

What we have found in almost every "stuck" situation is that there is either some kind of fear or an unconscious payoff that is holding them in a frozen place.

Many winters ago, Susie was driving down a very icy, steep hill and she found that no matter which way she turned or how slowly she went, her car slid sideways, blocking the road. Since she was afraid to move the car forward or backward, she just got out and left it for someone else to move.

We hope that this story gives you a visual of what can happen when you find yourself stuck in making a decision or in a relationship challenge where no solution seems to be "right."

So what might your "frozen place" look like?

A "frozen place" might be something as big as deciding whether to stay in a relationship, paying off debts or something as ordinary as holding fast to the position of "being right" in an argument.

We realize that in life, there are times to act and there are times to wait. What we are talking about is when you know that some action should be taken in order to move forward or even to heal a relationship. In situations like this, you may want to take action but are afraid of the consequences either way you decide. So you "freeze" and do nothing.

What the whale was trying to tell Dory and Marlin is that although they couldn't "know" that they would be safe before they let go, staying in the whale's mouth would not move them toward finding Marlin's son Nemo. Only by "letting go" could they hope to move toward having what they wanted.

We are suggesting that sometimes moving toward having what you want in your life takes letting go--letting go of fear, of anger, of needing to be right, of "what will others think" and anything else that might be holding you back from taking action.

Staying stuck may feel safe but it does not move you toward your goal.

So, this week we invite you to try to discover where you are stuck in your life. In what area are you not moving forward?

Take some time to look objectively at your fears and discover if there are any you can "let go" of so that you can take some action that will lead you toward having what you want.

By the way, Marlin and Dory were safely blown out of the whale's blow hole and they did find Nemo.

It's our hope that you are able to have what you want in your relationships and life, as well.

The Process of Moving on

Someone wrote to us recently and asked "how do you move forward when your spouse has cheated and divorced you for someone else?"

This is the question we're going to address in this week's newsletter.

Before we address this issue, it's important to understand that the answer to this question is not just about how to rebound after your spouse cheats on you and leaves you. It's about the mind set that allows you to rebound from anything you don't want to have happen in your life.

If your partner or spouse has left you for another person, here's the most important thing you can do to begin the healing process.

It's to recognize that you may have many relationships that come and go throughout your life, but your intrinsic value as a human being should never be judged by who you are in a relationship with or even whether you're in an intimate relationship at all.

This same thing holds true whether you've lost a job, gone bankrupt or any other crisis we humans face.

Recently we attended a weekend workshop and met John Alston and Lloyd Thaxton, authors of the book "Stuff Happens (and then you fix it.)

Both authors had come through personal crises and their purpose in writing the book was to give people tangible ways to rebound quickly from the "stuff" that happens in their lives.

The important thing that we got from John and Lloyd was pick yourself up when "stuff happens" and move forward with your life in a positive direction (even when things look bad.)

When Susie's ex-husband left their marriage many years ago, she was devastated. She found herself mourning not only their marriage, but the activities and the life they had shared.

She remembers one day, several months after he left, deciding that she wasn't going to dwell on the past any longer. She was going to look ahead to the future--her future.

In that moment, she felt like she was physically turning her body away from the past and looking toward a future of possibilities.

She also had to embrace her self worth and believe that she could create the future that she wanted.

In order to begin the healing process, she had to believe that "she was more than her relationship." She also developed the belief that because she was here and alive on this planet, she had value and worth as a person.

If you've experienced relationship crisis in your life and just can't seem to move on, consider these suggestions. They may help you begin your healing process.

1) Never look at a relationship (or anything else) that didn't work out as a failure. We believe that there are no accidents. There are only learning opportunities and that everything happens in divine order. Even if it's painful at the time.

2) Give thanks for the lessons you've learned and the growth you've experienced as a result of being in this relationship.

3) Learn from the patterns of the past. Recognize whether this is a "reoccurring theme" in your relationships and life. (And then change)

4) As quickly as possible, move from the position of blame and being a victim to one of curiosity and hope for the future.

Withdrawing and Pushing in Relationships" Part 2 ...

A few weeks ago we talked about what happens when someone "pushes" and another "withdraws" in a relationship.

Since, we spent most of the article last week focusing on the person who "pushes" and the dynamic of "pushing"in relationships, one of our newsletter subscribers asked us for suggestions on how to "prompt reaction and interaction" from someone who "withdraws."

Because it is a lonely and frustrating place to be in, most people who are with someone who "withdraws" will try almost anything they can think of to get them to open up their heart.

But, as pure as their intentions can be, we think that trying to prompt some sort of reaction with another doesn't go far enough.

In our opinion, the goal should be to find a way to reconnect with each other.

So, how do we reconnect with someone who has "withdrawn?"

What we do in our relationship when this happens is to let the other person who has withdrawn know that we are their friend and not the enemy.

What we always do next to bring about reconnection (when we are able to become the observer and get our ego out of the way) is to explain to the one who has withdrawn what we are seeing, feeling, thinking and experiencing in the moment without judging.

An example of this might be...

"I'm feeling really sad that we're not connecting. I would like to recapture the same kind of feeling that we had when we were first together and right now I'm not feeling that."

Another example might be...

"Our relationship is really important to me and I'm feeling distance between us right now and I'm wondering how I can feel close to you again?"

If you find yourself with someone who has withdrawn, share with them the specific differences between what's happening in this moment and how the two of you were when you were the happiest or most connected.

In our relationship, when both of us recognize and admit to contributing to the changes that have happened in the relationship, it helps us to regain our connection.

Realize that if there is someone "pushing" and another "withdrawing," there are probably some resentments and painful truths between both of you that have to be unearthed before this dynamic can be resolved.

If you are with someone who is so withdrawn that it is painful for you to be in that relationship, you have to decide whether you want to stay in this situation or not.

There are no guarantees that the person who is withdrawing is able or willing to open up to you or anyone. It may be too painful for them.

It is worth a try, or several tries, to allow the space, the honesty and the love to create a reconnection between the two of you.

Our purpose in talking about this dynamic is to shed some light so that both people will stop this common relationship "dance" and begin moving toward reconnection.

We hope that we've given you food for thought. If you have relationship issues or concerns that are universal in scope that you'd like us to address in future newsletters, feel free to ask.

What Happens after you Find your Soulmate?

What's your perception of life with your perfect soulmate? Joy, bliss, happiness--a life with no conflict and no major issues to work through?

Ward and June or Ozzy and Harriet with passion? In our opinion, that just isn't the way it works. In our relationship, we are best friends--we have passion--we have joy--we are totally comfortable with each other and enjoy being together. Even with all this, we still have issues that challenge us and that "rock the boat."

We hate to burst your bubble, but we believe that soulmates come together to help each other to heal, learn and grow. It's what we and others, such as Gary Zukav, call Spiritual Partnership. Some people, such as Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks and Kenny and Julia Loggins, refer to it as "Conscious Relationship."

We also believe that you can find several "soulmates" in your lifetime. Wayne Dyer said that your soulmate can be the person who you can't stand but are in your life to teach you a powerful lesson.

Carolyn Myss says in "Spiritual Madness" that we are here to heal the parts of ourselves that don't know God yet. We believe that Soulmates help us to heal those parts if we are willing to do the work and look at ourselves openly and honestly. Soulmates can trigger certain reactions in you that point the direction to what needs to be healed.

So what happens after you find your soulmate?

Remember the Zen proverb that poses the question of--What happens before enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water. What happens after enlightenment? Chop wood, carry water. We feel this is a good analogy of what happens in relationships. You still must face your personal challenges but if you're conscious and awake, you can realize that you have a powerful ally to walk beside you on your path to enlightenment.

Many of us are finding that perfect "Soulmate" and many are searching for one. We suggest that you look at the people in your life--the ones who challenge you, the ones who love you. Say of prayer of gratitude for these "teachers." When someone close to you "presses your buttons," look at what you can learn from the situation. What parts of yourself need to be healed? What feelings come up for you?

Marriane Williamson has said that every thing we do is either an act of love or a cry for help. That's what a soulmate does for you--they are there to love you AND to help you when you cry for help. They also have the ability to "press your buttons" and this is for your highest good.

Withdrawing and Pushing in Relationships

This past weekend we attended a seminar and there was an incident between the seminar leader and one of the participants that had a great impact on us.

All of the people attending the seminar were authors, speakers and seminar leaders who were there to learn how to fine-tune their message to create a bigger impact in the media world when they did interviews.

During the two day seminar, the leader's job was to try to help us bring out, fine-tune and embrace our creative genius and our message that we want to share with the world.

What was interesting was that no matter how hard the leader tried, he couldn't get one woman to recognize what her project was really about. He saw in her a genius that she couldn't see and wasn't able to embrace in herself.

Throughout the two days, we witnessed a struggle between the leader pushing and the woman withdrawing.

We think this is a common dynamic in many relationships-- where one person pushes and the other person withdraws or retreats. This creates distance and disconnection between the two people.

This withdrawal can be from any number of reasons but fear is always at the bottom. The pushing can be for many different reasons--from helping the person see his/her genius to simply getting some help around the house or with the kids. We may not even recognize that we are "pushing" even when we are.

In Susie's previous marriage, she found herself "pushing" her ex-husband to "feel" emotions. She remembers when her grandfather died, trying to get her "ex" to express the feelings that she knew he must have because they both dearly loved this man. She had the sensation of "clawing" at her "ex" to get him to feel but he just shut his emotions down even more.

This was a reoccurring theme during their marriage and she never understood that her pushing him to feel was actually causing him to withdraw even further. She kept doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result each time.

So what do you do if you are pushing someone to feel or act a certain way by another? What if you are the one being pushed?

We suggest that both people recognize and admit that this is a dynamic that happens between them. Talk about it when it's not happening.

If both people can recognize that it does happen in the relationship, you can begin making agreements about what you'll do when it occurs.

If someone is withdrawing or retreating in a relationship, they are not feeling safe in that moment, so pushing only adds to those feelings.

The person who is withdrawing may be focusing on a past negative event or projecting negative possibilities into the current or future situations. As hard as it is to believe, they may simply be feeling too much, rather than not enough. The situation may be overwhelming to them.

The person who withdraws may need just a little space. The person who is "pushing" may need to back off their energy a few notches so the person feels safer.

A question that may be asked of both people at that time is "What does this situation remind you of?"

We've used this question when it's happened between us-- when one of us has withdrawn and the other has pushed.

It may not be a question that can be answered in the moment but it has been helpful to us to agree to come back together and talk about it later.

The most important thing is for both people to create a way to feel safety and trust in their relationship so that they can regain their connection.

Is Silence really Golden?

A couple of weeks ago, we went to the movies and right before the actual movie started, there was a 30 second commercial on the screen reminding us that "Silence is golden."

While this is helpful advice for a movie theatre, we don't think it works very well when it comes to communicatingin relationships.

The problem is that many people in relationships think that if they just keep silent and not say what they are thinking or feeling, their relationship will be better off than if they had said what was on their mind.

While this sounds good in theory-- it doesn't work in reality.

When we keep our feelings to ourselves, it may temporarily keep the peace and keep the relationship going smoothly but in the long run, this creates distance, separation, mistrust and dries up passion like a weed in the desert.

In our previous long term relationships, both of us kept silent about our thoughts and feelings that were important to us because we didn't want to make waves in the relationship. While this wasn't the only contributing factor, both of our previous marriages ended in divorce.

In our relationship, we made an agreement early on to be honest about our thoughts and feelings with each other no matter how difficult or painful this might be.

One of the contributors to our "Should You Stay or Should You Go?" book told her story about how she didn't keep silent in her relationship.

She told us that she was best friends and engaged to a man who lived in a city several states away from hers. Sometime after he had moved to her city and they had decided to get married, she began feeling that the relationship would not work.

She agonized for weeks, and after much prayer, she told him her painful truth--that she felt in her heart that their relationship "wasn't right" and there weretoo many differences between them.

She told us that once she was honest with herself (and with him), her pain disappeared.

Now we're not saying that everyone has to know every thought and feeling that you have. We are saying that if you want to live an authentic, vibrant life and perhaps have a connected, passionate, alive relationship, silence is not golden.

We have found that the best way to tell your thoughts and feelings so that the other person can hear is to simply say what is true for you without pointing the finger at them (making them wrong.)

Sometimes this is easier said than done when the subject is a particularly thorny one between the two of you.

But what we have found is that if you both can listen to each other until there is some sense of understanding, without emotionally or physically running away, you can work through almost any communication issue or challenge.

Withholding your thoughts or feelings--hoping that it will all be O.K. if you just keep silent-- is rarely a strategy that works.

Making and keeping the agreement that you will both share your thoughts and feelings with each other and stay open to each other without becoming defensive helps to create more trust and intimacy in the relationship.

We invite you this week to make this agreement or other agreements with the important people in your life.

Moving beyond your past

This weekend Otto and his son saw the film "Antwone Fisher" and it made a significant inpact on both of them.

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, we highly recommend it. Rather than ruin the story for you, we'll just say that the message from this truly wonderful film was about not holding onto painful past events. It was about moving forward to create the life you want.

We think that holding onto painful past events in our lives is a huge stumbling block for many relationships. When we hold onto this pain, even when we don't acknowledge that pain is there, we keep others at a distance, even our loved ones.

This pain we're talking about isn't necessarily physical pain but rather thoughts, feelings and emotions, from traumatic events in our lives.

A traumatic event for one person may not be traumatic for another person. It's all in how the event is perceived.

We're not saying that it's always easy to let go of the memory of these events and the emotional hold they have on our lives.

What we are saying is that whether these events happened 20 years ago, 5 months ago, or 5 minutes ago--if you don't find a way to heal, those memories interfere with having the relationships and life that you want.

What are you holding onto that prevents you from having the relationships and life you want?

Up until now, what have you not been willing to let go of in order to move forward in your life?

Letting go begins to happen when you make the decision to do it. It isn't always a short, easy process and we've found that healing is usually a gradual unfolding.

The only reason it's not a short, easy process is that there are things we aren't ready to acknowledge, embrace and feel.

We've discovered that when we are able to take a step toward healing the past, it helps to make it a tangible one.

We have found that creating and doing a ritual with the intent to help us let go of a particular situation has been a powerful way to begin the healing process.

Here are just a few examples of healing rituals that we and others have created. Keep in mind that these examples are just one step in the healing process. You may want to seek the help of a professional.

  • When Susie was trying to let go of her 30 year marriage and move on with her life, one of the rituals she found useful was to go to a nearby lake and say some words of thanks for the time she had with her husband. As she did that, she poured his English Leather cologne, that she had loved, into the lake. It felt very freeing to allow the cologne, that symbolized her attachment to this marriage, move out with the action of the water.
  • As an ongoing ritual, a friend verbally "throws" her fears off a fire tower in a nearby state forest.
  • Another person we know listened to one musical group over and over, during the breakup of a significant relationship. He was stuck in his mourning of the relationship and couldn't move forward with his life. He burned 17 of the cd's in his collection of this musical group as a demonstration to himself that he no longer needed to hold onto that painful situation.
  • One woman we know is in the process of healing from several past relationships where she felt she hadn't been authentic with these partners. She decided to write letters explaining how she really felt with these partners--some she mailed and some she didn't. In both cases, the process of writing the letters was very cathartic for her.
  • At the beginning of our relationship, as our symbol for moving forward with our lives together, we had a "letting go" ceremony at Bald Head Cliffs in Maine. At the end of the ceremony, after energetically thanking our previous partners for their contributions to our lives, we threw our wedding rings from our previous marriages into the crashing waves.

So this week, if anything is holding you back from creating the relationships and life you want, we encourage you to make the decision to do whatever is necessary to begin your healing process. A ritual is one thing that we have found to be very helpful.

What are your Assumptions....

Here's an important question...

What are your assumptions about the people in your life? And just as importantly, "what if those assumptions are wrong?"

We know what some of you are thinking. "I don't assume anything about the people in my life." or "I don't make assumptions because that only leads to trouble."

What we've discovered is that almost everyone does indeed make assumptions about the people in their life and these assumptions can (and do) cause distance and separation in our relationships.

Susie teaches a Women's Studies course at our local university. One of the main objectives of the course is to foster an appreciation for differences and to learn to open to listening and understanding another's point of view--whether in agreement with them or not.

Today's discussion topic was one that is particularly divisive and sensitive. Several students spoke that they were vehemently opposed to the social system under discussion. Several other students disclosed that they were currently in that very situation and told their stories.

As the class continued, the point was made by one of the students that was in essence--"Don't judge me unless you've walked in my shoes."

We would add the phrase "or assume who I am, what I'm thinking or what I want" to that statement.

This is as true for our intimate, family and work relationships as it is for people we casually meet or those we don't even know.

Both of us have a tendency to make assumptions about each other on the subject of money and we are consciously moving to change those old patterns.

In our relationship, Susie has a preconceived idea that Otto wants to spend money unconsciously and Otto has a preconceived idea that Susie doesn't want to spend money even when it makes sense to him to do so. This makes being life and business partners pretty interesting at times.

It's a challenge for each of us to let go of these preconceived thoughts that we believe we know what the other person is thinking. The truth is, that no one knows what another is thinking or feeling unless they specifically ask.

We've found that when we do make those assumptions, we create distance and disconnection between us. When we succeed in being open to each other instead, and listen without judgment, our trust and connection grows.

A good question to ask yourself is--"What are your "hot" buttons that cause you to assume what someone else is thinking, feeling or the meaning behind what someone is saying?"

This week, we urge you to open your heart and give that person the opportunity to speak from their heart before you start judging and assuming.

It will be an enormous gift to both of you.

Celebrating Those Baby Steps...

We got an e-mail earlier this week from one of the subscribers to this newsletter who told us that he was handling the "dramas" in his life better than in his past.

He also emphasized that these were what he considered very small "baby steps" in making positive changes in his relationships and his life.

As we were thinking about his words and this newsletter article, we were struck by how often most people don't recognize and celebrate the progress and growth they have made in their relationships and their lives.

We think this is a perfect time as 2002 comes to a close to help you become more aware and appreciate just far you've come in the past year. Sometimes we've made significant progress in our personal growth and in our relationships and we don't recognize the growth until someone else points it out.

As we were thinking about our own relationship, we realized that when there are challenges that come up between the two of us, we are now spending less time being disconnected from one another than before.

When challenges come up, we are finding our center and regaining our connection much quicker than we did a year ago. We are also being a little less defensive with one another.

On the surface these seem like small, inconsequential things. But, when they are added up-- they have made a significant impact on the quality of our already outstanding relationship.

So, we invite you to take a few moments to identify the baby steps you've made this year toward making your relationships and life better.

If you have a partner, spend some identifying and celebrating the "baby steps" each of you have made this year. If you're single, either take time by yourself or with a friend who knows you well and do the same.

Earlier tonight, we took turns sharing with each other how we each thought the other had made positive steps this year in their personal growth and in making our relationship better.

You may choose to do it this way, or create your own way to celebrate.

Essentially, we're suggesting that you take some time and intentionally focus on finding the good in yourself and in your relationships.

This is important because very often we spend a lot of time focusing on what's going wrong in our relationships and not on what's "going right."

In life and in your relationships, whatever you focus on, you attract more of. We're suggesting that if you want more joy, connection and love in your life that you spend more time focusing on these things than the things you want less of or want to eliminate.

So, let the celebrating begin.

"Why The "Golden Rule" is Wrong In Relationships...

When we were young, most of us were taught to live by "The Golden Rule."

This article is to share with you why we think using the golden rule as a guideline for your relationships can lead to big trouble.

The Golden Rule says to "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." The problem with the "Golden Rule" is... No one else in the entire world is exactly like you.

No matter how close, how connected and how much you love someone else, they are not exactly like you. Because they are not exactly like you, they have different wants, needs and interests--some more important than others.

They also come from a different set of life experiences and circumstances.

The truth of the matter is other people don't want to be "done unto" as you'd like to be "done unto." They want to be "done unto" the way they want to be "done unto."

When Susie worked as a library director, she asked her staff take the Myers-Briggs personality inventory. The results were eye-opening when they discovered that each person had different preferred ways of doing their work.

Before taking this inventory, misunderstandings arose when it was assumed that everybody worked the same way. When the staff talked about how each best liked to do her work, this discovery led to better understanding and more mutual respect.

The same thing happens in your relationships. You mistakenly believe that everyone else in your life wants to do things and live in the same way you do.

We recommend that you tell your mate, partner or people in your life how you would like to be "done unto" instead of allowing guesswork, assumptions and misunderstandings to ruin relationships.

This involves taking a risk. Perhaps for some people, maybe the biggest risk of all--working through fears of not being loved if you say what you really want or how you really feel.

One of those subjects for us was gift giving to each other. We consciously decided that we would decide together what gifts we would give each other on birthdays and at Christmastime because neither one of us like surprises.

It so happened that we agreed about this subject but it could very easily have escalated into trying to fulfill expectations that weren't really there.

Now we're not suggesting that everyone needs to cut surprises out of their lives, but this is what works for us. What works for you may be something entirely different.

The whole point of all this is to emphasize that we all need to live our lives in a conscious manner instead of guesswork.

So we suggest that instead of assuming, that you talk and communicate your wants, needs and interests to those in your life. This way, by communicating openly and honestly, the chances of you getting what you want in your life and your relationships are much greater than if you don't.

The Miracle of Choosing Kindness

At times, we all find ourselves in challenging relationships, whether it's family, work situation or with people in a club or organization we belong to. Sometimes no matter how much we try, there are relationships that just don't seem to work.

This week we found out about a miracle. A miracle that proves that relationships can work and can be healed-- even when healing seems impossible.

Otto was married to his first wife for 15 years and during that time, she never did accept Otto's parents. In spite of his ex-wife's obvious indifference, his parents continued to honor the mother of their Grandson. They continued to give her presents and extend their love even after Otto's divorce.

This week we found out that a few weeks ago, Otto's ex-wife paid a visit to his parents and apologized for all the years of indifference. She extended love to them as she never had before and his parents accepted it with grace.

What an example of what can happen when you keep a positive attitude about a situation instead of downgrading the other person when things between you aren't as harmonious as you would like.

As Wayne Dyer suggests on several of his tape programs--"When given the choice to be right or to be kind, just choose to be kind."

Otto's parents weren't concerned about "being right." They didn't harbor a grudge against her for her actions. They just chose to continue being kind.

The same type of situation can happen at work too. Maybe someone else got the credit for doing something that you did. Maybe you got passed over for a promotion that you felt you deserved. Maybe you and a coworker just don't "click." Instead of blaming someone else and taking it personally, try choosing kindness instead.

When you find yourself upset about someone being rude to you, treating you unfairly or even cutting you off in traffic, don't take it personally. There may be something going on with that other person that has nothing to do with you that may account for their behavior.

Instead of focusing your energy on being right or getting even, why not try choosing kindness instead.

So, this week we suggest that when you are tempted to react to someone with anger, blame or judgement, that you try choosing kindness instead. When you do, you may be amazed by the "miracles" that can happen in your life.

Relationship Quote of the Week

"We are not here to fix,change or belittle another person. We are here to support,forgive and heal one another" Marianne Williamson

"Breaking those old relationship habits . . ."

What will your relationships be like in 2003?

Will they be better than last year? A little better? Hopefully a lot better.

If your relationships are going to be better in 2003, you are the only one who can make them better. The change has to begin with you.

So how do you make changes in your relationships?

A couple of weeks ago, someone wrote to us and asked--"How do you keep from repeating old behaviors and patterns that no longer serve you in your relationships and in your life?"

The best thing we can tell you is that you have to make creating the relationships and life you really want more important than holding on to the behaviors and patterns that no longer serve you.

This is what Otto is doing right now in the area of health and fitness. Over the last 15 years he has had a repeating pattern of gaining and losing weight and then gaining it back again.

Otto has figured out that the only way he can lose the weight he wants to lose and keep it off permanently is to make health, having lots of energy, and feeling good more important than eating most of his favorite foods that have accounted for his weight gains.

So far, Otto has been very successful at losing weight--again--primarily because of his intentions and the actions that have resulted from these intentions--one exercise session at a time, one meal at a time.

This is also the way we have made changes in our relationship and in other areas of our lives--starting with an intention and one action at a time to move us to having that intention be part of our daily experience.

If unhealthy behaviors or holding onto old patterns is something you'd like to stop doing, then start making a new choice in every moment.

*Instead of blaming and judging someone who you habitually find fault with--try finding something to celebrate in that person the moment you begin the blame process in your mind.

*When faced with the choice of being right or being kind, choose kindness.

*Before you say that unkind thing to a loved one, consider whether this will bring you closer together or tear you apart.

We could give you example after example of what you might do but the point is that only you can focus your attention on creating your relationships and your life the way you want them to be.

To break destructive, habitual patterns that are so strong in your relationships, you have to first create your intentions for what you truly want and then focus your awareness on making changes one moment at a time.

Don't Take A Vacation From Love...

Since Friday is Valentine's Day, we wanted to pose our favorite question concerning romance and fun--"Why can't everyday be Valentine's Day?"

We don't mean "Why can't it be February 14 every day?" but we do mean "Why can't everyday be filled with more love and passion than the day before?"

This week we heard a commercial on the radio that was a sad reminder of the myth about love, passion and romance that prevails in many relationships.

This myth is that romance and passion is strong in the beginning of a relationship but leaks out (kind of like a tire going flat) after a few years or maybe even after a shorter length of time.

In the commercial, one woman was describing to another woman the wonderful gift she bought herself. It was a candle that smelled like a long-stemmed red rose. She went on to say that when she lit this candle and smelled the rose scent, she was transported back to the day, in the beginning of her relationship with her husband, when he bought her a single, red rose.

The commercial ended when she told her friend that whenever she wants to feel close to her husband and remember that time in their relationship, all she had to do was light this scented candle.

In other words, the creators of this ad were suggesting that this candle can help recapture passion and romance that you once experienced in a relationship that you'd like to have again.

We think there's another way . . .

If you're in a relationship where the passion and fire has dissipated, then we urge you to start doing the kinds of things that will bring the passion back.

Go back to the beginning of the relationship and remember what it was that you did to create passion, romance and excitement and take some time to do them now.

It doesn't matter if it was 10, 20, 30 years ago--if those things were important then, they will be important to the two of you now.

Being romantic doesn't always mean a dozen red roses, a heart-shaped diamond and a bottle of wine.

One of the things that we do that we've done since the beginning of our relationship that brings us close together is to read to each other.

This may seem like an unromantic thing to do but for us, it is a way of connecting at a very deep level.

If you want a great relationship, there's no such thing as taking a "vacation" from showing appreciation, love and keeping the romance and passion alive.

This week, if you are in an intimate relationship, remember what the two of you did that kindled your romance and do it again.

If you are not currently in an intimate relationship, show your love and appreciation to someone in your life in a way that is uniquely you.

Remember the song lyrics--"What the world needs now is love"?

We think this is a great time to start rekindling love with the important people in your lives.

Find a way to start spreading love everyday and it just might make a bigger difference in the world than you think.

Making the Connection

As human beings, one of our deepest desires is a connection with other people. This connection means something different to each one of us.

It doesn't matter whether you're talking about an intimate relationship or one between friends or co-workers--we all want to connect with other people.

We define a connected relationship as one where there is strong trust between two people. There is unconditional love and acceptance, even when there is disagreement.

A connection with another is created by focusing on that relationship, giving it the time, importance and energy of something that you value.

It's also created by honoring the other person, wherever they are on their path.

In order to create a truly connected relationship, you have to get your ego needs out of the way. This can take the form of pursuing power over another or insisting on being "right," no matter what.

In order to have a connected relationship, we think there has to be a balance of power and vulnerability between the two people. This is why we believe that the best way to have this balance is to practice spiritual partnerships, where you come together with another as equals, for each person's personal and spiritual growth. You then can allow yourself to show vulnerability, revealing those inner-most parts of yourself that you usually hide.

In our relationship, if we have not spent as much time together as we normally do or if we have not spent time talking about our inner-most thoughts but focus instead on daily events, our connection isn't as strong with each other.

As soon as we realize that this distance has come between us. we take the time to reconnect.

The way we do this is to stop our "busyness," look at one another, hold one another, and talk about what is really in our hearts. One of the most important ways that we reconnect is to sit very close to one another and look into the other's soul through their eyes. We take our time and connect from the solar plexus and the heart.

Not only does "busyness" cause a disconnection in relationships, but also fear and apathy create separation.

If there's a person in your life that you would like to have a deeper connection with but don't at the present time, it may be because of fear.

Take some time this week and look at where the fear is coming from underneath the surface. Where is the mistrust? Where is the belief that your needs won't be met? Is it possible that what is holding you back is "old stuff" from a previous relationship?

As we've said before, if it wasn't for fear, we'd all have outstanding relationships in every corner of our lives.

We recognize that it takes both people desiring to have a deeper connection in order it to really happen. But we also feel that one person can make a difference.

So, take one small step to deepen a relationship by simply listening with an open, non-judgemental heart to the other person. Share something that you haven't shared with him or her before.

Set aside the fear and take a chance. If you want deep, connected relationships, you have to be willing to work through the fears.

Relationship Quote of the Week

"Find out what a person fears most and that is where he will develop next." Carl Jung

The Power of Opening your heart. . .

To the 41 year old man who wrote to us this week who's love left him--To the 20 year old woman who was afraid to tell her friend that she wanted more than a friendship with him--To those of you who have been married 4 or 5 times and just can't seem to get it right--And you, wherever you are in your relationships--Here's something for you to think about--

Think about your baby or someone else's baby. When he or she was learning to walk, did you think to yourself that the child only had a certain number of attempts at walking and that was it--no more chances?

Of course not--the child was allowed to stumble and fall as many times as was necessary until he or she learned to walk. The baby didn't give up, even when it was hard, but kept right on trying until he/she learned to walk.

That's the best advice we have to give--If you want to create the relationship that you've always wanted, you have to be willing to risk opening your heart to another. You have to take on the philosophy of "until" and keep trying rather than shutting off all hope of ever findin the love you want.

As painful as it is to be in relationships that haven't been exactly the way you want them to be, you have to keep learning and growing "until" you can do it differently. 

Opening your heart to another person requires us to risk. But to have an outstanding relationship, there's just no other way. If you don't take the risk of opening your heart, you will never have a deep connection and it will stay on a superficial level.  

Kenny Loggins writes in his song "Too Early for the Sun," "Surrender to the sun, Surrender to the Moon, Surrender to the rain, Surrender to the stars, Surrender to your heart, Surrender to the wind Take a chance, open up, and learn to love again." 

"Surrender" in this case means "So what if you messed it up again--you get another chance."

To us, opening your heart means honoring the other by listening and by accepting without judgement where the other is in his or her growth process. Opening your heart means honoring the other's history and being there to encourage during times of change. Opening your heart can mean any number of things to all of us. 

The heart is a doorway--you can open it and allow another person to come in or you can keep the door closed and protected. Keeping it closed and protected to shield you from the pain also shuts out the joy.

No matter what the relationship--even the person sitting next to you at the ball park--If you open your heart to the other person and not pre-judge or put up walls, then infinite possibilities of connection and love are available.

As Kenny Loggins says in "The Unimaginable Life"-- "We all long for love. Whether we know it or not, everything else is just killing time."

Relationship Quote of the Week

"The holy relationship is a context where we feel safe enough to be ourselves, knowing our darkness will not be judged but forgiven. In this way we are healed and freed to move on into the light of our true being." Marianne Williamson

Staying open and not losing yourself

We're reading a great book,"The Cultural Creatives," and in it, the authors, Drs. Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, give the best description of openness that we've heard--"Trusting yourself to listen to others and not lose your sense of direction."

We think these are good words to live by, especially during this holiday season.

One of the challenges for many people is to stay open to others and not lose themselves, especially during holiday get-togethers, with family, friends, co-workers and even intimate partners.

Many get caught up in other people's dramas, losing sight of who they are and taking what family members, co-workers and friends say or do personally. They get caught up in playing old roles and in old arguments before they realize what happened.

This past weekend Otto attended a seminar and during one of the breaks, had a conversation with a man he had just met. With the furor of a television evangelist, this man gave his views on a highly charged subject to several people, including Otto.

Otto found himself listening with the intent to appreciate and learn why this man was so passionately attempting to win others to his point of view about this subject.

Knowing how he felt about this issue, Otto was open to listening to his point of view and understanding where he was coming from but wasn't willing to be drawn into an argument because he didn't agree with him. Instead, he calmly told the man that that was one way to look at the topic and the man seemed to soften.

If you find yourself in one of those situations, we suggest that you listen to understand and stay open to the other person but in the words of Don Miguel Ruiz, author of "The 4 Agreements"--don't take it personally. Be the observer and stay in your center.

How do you do that? Take a few moments to quiet yourself and check in with what you are feeling in the moment. (Even if you have to go to the bathroom to take these moments of quiet for yourself.) Breathe and get in touch with you. Find your inner sense of direction.

We talk a lot about being conscious in your life and in your relationships. When you are listening to people, a good measuring stick to find out if you are staying open without losing yourself is to ask yourself how it feels inside when you "try on" what they are saying. Are you feeling joyful, excited or is there fear, anger, sadness?

Listen to your inner feelings and they will serve as an excellent guide for you.

We think that your holidays, your relationships, and your life with be filled with much more peace and joy if you do.

No Time For Love? Think Again...

As we continue reading all of your responses to our question about the biggest challenge you face in your relationships... One of the responses that keeps popping up is "not enough time for love."

The typical scenario goes like this...two demanding jobs, the kids, soccer, basketball, gotta get the groceries, pick up the dry cleaning,do your holiday shopping, somewhere in the middle of all this--make dinner, sit down and watch a little TV, go to bed and then do it all over again the next day.

The Holidays make it especially difficult because there are a lot of "shoulds" that we feel must be attended to during this time of year. There are holiday parties , Christmas programs at school or church, big family get-togethersand other things we think are obligations.


Sound familiar?

Maybe the details of your situation are slightly different but the feeling of no time for connecting with your partner, mate or even a good friend will probably resonate with you.

If you have felt that there are too many things going on and there is not enough time to connect with your partner or mate, we would suggest that this is not a time management problem. It is an issue of priorities.

The fact is that we all have the same 168 hours in a week and we can either consciously or unconsciously choose what to do with those hours. The choice is up to you.

If you would like to have time to connect with your partner or those you love, especially during this holiday season there are some things we can recommend.

First, decide if you (and your partner) want to make your relationship a priority.

If you do, we recommend starting with a commitment of spending 30 seconds each day with your partner.

We know what you're thinking-- "I spend much more time than that with my partner now."

Commit to stop what you are doing, look into each other's eyes, and for 30 seconds express unconditional love for each other.

If you do just this one thing each day, it will change your relationship in a powerful way.

If you're both open to a deeper commitment, choose a time each week when you can share with each other your hopes, dreams and plans without distractions, the kids, TV or household chores.

Start today to begin living your life the way you want to live it. If your relationships are important to you, then you have to begin making them a bigger priority in your life.

If you're not married or don't have a partner, don't discard this information and think that it's irrelevant in your life.

One of the most important things you can do to attract the kind of relationship that you've hoped for and dreamed about is to make time and space for it. In other words make it important and make it a priority in your life

One of our missions is to help people be conscious creators of their life experience.

If you want an outstanding have conscious and clear about your intentions. There's just no other way.

Building Trust In Relationships...

How do you build trust in relationships? We've found the secret is constant communication, one moment at a time.

Before we got together several years ago, we both came from relationships that simply weren't working anymore. We both had a strong desire for a different kind of relationship--a relationship filled with passion, love, honesty, trust, friendship and most of all, partnership.

Safety and trust are the twin sides of the same coin-- both involve risk and both form the foundation of any great relationship. Safety is the feeling you get when you have trust. Trust means not only learning to trust others but it's learning to trust yourself--especially if you've been in lessthan desirable relationships or painful relationships in the past.

From the beginning of our relationship, we've practiced honesty and are committed to not hiding, no matter how painful the truth is.

When you've been used to "sparing" the other person or not saying something because it might hurt their feelings or rock the boat, it's very difficult to open up and speak your truth. But we believe this is absolutely necessary to form a solid foundation of trust between two people.

People often will trust a total stranger before trusting an intimate partner because that total stranger cannot hurt them like they imagine a partner can.

Tony Robbins tells a great story about how we all trust every single day of our lives while driving our cars.

He says "The fact of the matter is--it takes a great deal of trust to drive down a road at 55 mph with another car coming the other way at 55 mph and only one white line separating the two of you. The potential for danger is great--you don't know that other person; you don't know if they've been drinking; you don't know if they'll stay on their side of the road. That, my friend, takes a lot of trust."

The challenge is to exhibit the same amount of trust in our relationships--knowing, believing, trusting that the other person is acting from their highest good --even if you've been burned in past relationships.

Two of the thought patterns that destroy trust in relationships are dwelling on past pain (whether with this person or others)and futurizing about potential negative events that haven't happened yet.

Every time your mind starts to make up wild stories that involve abandonment, guilt, jealousy--those old tapes that just keep running and don't seem to stop--bring yourself back to the present moment and differentiate the past and the future the present. If you focus on "now" and what you want, you will build trust between you and your partner.

When we have these negative feelings, we talk about them--not hiding them or hiding from them but come from a place of speaking our truth and being honest.

We've found that when we acknowledge that the source of these feelings originated from past experiences, the situation is not threatening to the other person and we are able to let those negative thoughts go.

If you place your attention on either worrying about past relationships or question where this relationship is going in the future, you lose the opportunity to be in the moment for yourself and your partner.

You also lose the opportunity to build the trust that you need between the two of you.

If you are in a relationship that has gone through some challenges, you can't heal the distance and pain between the two of you by dwelling on the past or fearing the future. You must look at where you are at the present time.

Build trust one moment at a time--remember what Dan Millman said, "There are no ordinary moments."

©2003 by Susie & Otto Collins

Other Relationship Issues, Books


Disclaimer | Privacy Statement
Menstuff® Directory
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of The National Men's Resource Center™
©1996-2019, The National Men's Resource Center