To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” -Tony Robbins

Relationships are complicated.

Everyone has their own set of genes that governs some part of their personality.

All the intricacies that connect with one another would probably create a list that would wrap around the world more than once.

You either get along part of the time, most of the time or not at all. I might add that there is some kind of connection in all of these styles.

One style of relating for one couple may not work for another.

Couples dance to their own tune.

Couples learn to choose their tune and their dance.

Too bad there’s no good relationship gene that overrides conflict.

Do You See Yourself in Any of these Relationships?

“Why do people persist in a dissatisfying relationship, unwilling either to work toward solutions or end it and move on? It’s because they know changing will lead to the unknown, and most people believe that the unknown will be much more painful than what they’re already experiencing.”Tony Robbins

Frank and Sue have been married for 5 years. They both are professionals and work outside of the home. They have a 2 -year-old son. As a police officer, Tom just wants to be alone after a hard shift. Mary, a nurse, wants to communicate about her day and hear of the events of Tom’s day. They move apart. Tension grows.

They watched a movie on tv that reminded them when she they were first together. It was so much fun then, they thought. They were connected then. What happened? Frank mustered the courage to ask Sue what had happened with them.

Kenneth and Laura have been married for 12 years. Kenneth is a manager in a non-profit organization. Laura is an attorney for a prominent firm. He is often critical of Lauren. His drinking has increased and that has pushed them further apart. Laura seeks compassion from Kenneth. He is unable to provide it.

They grow even further apart.

She finds a supportive group of women who also have spouses who are heavy drinkers. She communicates with them and feels supported. Kenneth feels her pulling further away from him. He drinks more with thoughts that drinking masks the pain. One day in desperation, she says, “Is it possible to make things better?”

John and Ralph have been together for two years. John is outgoing and likes to be around crowds. Ralph is a loner and prefers a good book on a Saturday evening. John is feeling rejected by Ralph’s introversion. They begin to fight. Fighting becomes frequent. Neither like the tension. They stop and realize they don’t know how to talk with each other like they once had. Ralph shared that his parents often fought about money. It wasn’t that they didn’t have financial resources, it was about who would be in control. He says, “Isn’t that what we’re doing?”


“Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.” – Tony Robbins 

The couples described have different problems and dance to different tunes. However, something similar happens to all of them when the song ends. There is a pause and you guessed it. They want to communicate in a different way. They see the need to change the tune that they dance to.

The question becomes, “How do you dance to a different beat when you’ve been accustomed to the same old song?”

What did you see in the three situations that gave some clues to what to do to begin to mend a broken relationship? Yes, Talk was one. Either a question was asked, or a verbal thought was initiated. Communication is key. We could say that silence, distance, intimidation, rejection, criticism are all ways of communicating, and they are. Yet it’s not just communication that has to take place.

Something else happened. Something that wasn’t negative. There was a humble sense of emotion that took place. A sincerity that shifted communication from an attacking position to possibilities of connection. Being sincere is a second element that took place.

The third…a pause to listen.

The third element to all of this confusion, would be for the partner to respond and the other to listen.

The scenario looks like:

“Talk with Sincerity and Listen.”

Such a simple solution that is often a difficult move to make when living with negativity for long periods.

These questions began a way to break through misunderstandings and grief.

“What happened to us?”

“Isn’t that what we’re doing?”

“Is it possible to make things better?”


“Identify your problems, but give your power and energy to solutions.” – Tony Robbins

Anger and resentment gets in the way of effective communication. It stands in the way of living in a meaningful way with your partner. Anger and resentment limits growth and poisons the soul. To be free of the agony is to let go of the anger and resentment that is used to justify your ego, in attempts to prove that you are right. This blocks the purpose and meaning in life. It’s not always about you. Let it go. Reach out as it is you who is suffering. Move it out of the way and make a connection to:


Gottman is noted for working with couples in building relationships. Of course, communication is essential and the basis for important connections.

Don’t know what to say or how to say it, here are some icebreakers:

What would make things better for you?

I really like what you did.

I wish I were better at listening to you.

What one small thing could we do differently today to make things better for us?

Share a feeling.

Be Sincere

Be sincere is important as Sylvia Smith describes in her article of Top 10 Effective Communication Techniques for Couples. Talk without sincerity doesn’t bring a meaningful connection.

Sincerity is important. Usually, others can tell when one is sincere. Coming across to another with an emotion and honesty is necessary in making a difference.


Your thoughts, no matter how logical can interfere with your ability to listen to your partner’s view. Listening is critical in strengthening relationships. Remember in the beginning of a relationship, how you listened and how you felt heard? You probably utilized some important steps when doing so. Bring back the skill of pausing and listening. Remember, it’s not about trying to make it your way. it’s about letting someone know that you respect them. Practice pausing and allow your partner to speak. Then reflect what you heard them say. Talking, sincerity, and listening is the beginning of taking the first step to change an old song to a new one and begin new steps for a new dance.

Making it Work

“Do what you did in the beginning of a relationship and there won’t be an end.” – Tony Robbins

Relationships are about fulfillment and growth. To make it work, ways to work through conflicts is necessary. Couples and conflict go together. Many techniques are available to work through difficult times.

Conflicts happen. Relationships die. There is so much sorrow when the same music plays over and over that just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. The misery follows the never-ending beat.

Bad times can get better. It takes a willingness to make a difference. Keep asking what can make it better, or what I can do to help. Make a commitment to try a new way. Reward new behaviors and what you like when there is a positive difference.

Time to talk is essential. The kind of talk that welcomes feedback. There are always those things in relationships that go again the very grain of your being. Decide the meaning in the bigger picture. Is it a major battle, or can you accept the difference?

Be sincere. It’s your honesty that let’s your partner begin to trust again. Trust is the bridge that enables growth.

And Listen!

It goes without saying that tools for listening and respect are important in communicating. The technique develops crucial foundation that is at the beginning of interest in any relationship. It tells the person that he or she is important. A good read is Gottman’s book on The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work discusses principles based in research that prevent breakup.

If you need help in finding ways to communicate with your partner, call me at 513-244-6990.

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