Communication in Relationships: Effective and Destructive

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Effective: Clean communication- clean communication is when the only intent of your communication is to reveal something about yourself.

Example: I am angry with you for getting defensive rather than listening.

Destructive: Unclean communication- unclean communication is when you have other intentions such as punishing the other person defending yourself, getting rid of your own tension or proving you are right.

Example: Yelling loudly- your listening skills suck!  (Getting rid of tension)

Effective: Being receptive which includes dropping your own agenda temporarily. (See blog from August 6th)

Destructive: Thinking of what you are going to say in reaction to what your partner is saying while your partner is talking to you.

Effective: Perceive your partner as an ally even when you are angry with him or her.  In this way, you will talk in ways that encourage listening.  If your partner has done or said something hurtful, attribute the most benign motive possible such as your partner was in pain and mishandled it.

Destructive: See your partner as an enemy whose intention is to hurt you.

What can we learn from this?  The following:  If you communicate cleanly, practice receptivity and perceive your partner in the best possible way, your communication will lead to quick resolution of conflict, more connection and more expressions of love.  Sound good to you?

Every working day I help couples develop these communication skills right with me in my office or on Skype.

Toxic Relationship: Couple Quarreling

“You’re the Worst Communicator Ever”- Confessions of a Marriage Therapist- (Me)

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I have been to many parties where people would come up to my wife and say- “You must have a perfect marriage- you are married to a marriage therapist.”  And my wife found that comment very funny!  The truth is- yes- I am a marriage therapist, and I am also a human being who grew up in a family where great communication was not modeled.  There were many times I would be helping a couple with communication and suddenly had the thought- “I think it is time to listen to my own wise words.  My clients are communicating better than my wife and I.”

This communication stuff is really simple but not easy.  It is simple because healthy communication is about sharing your feelings in a way that makes it easy for your partner to listen and to listen in a way that makes your partner motivated to share in ways that make it easy for you to listen.  Now that is a wonderful upward communication spiral.

But communication is not easy.  It is not easy because we react to protect ourselves.  My parents were wonderful, loving people but communicated emotional material like two children.  My mom would say things to get under my father’s skin and he would react by saying those famous two words- F—k you!  And that is what I observed as the way to communicate emotional feelings.  So, when my wife had any complaints (and we all do from time to time), I did not react well to them.  I became the little Todd who was angry with my mother for making my dad feel like crap.  And now my wife was making me feel like crap.  Even though, in actuality she was NOT making me feel like crap; she just had feelings; that’s it- she was just having an experience of feelings and the only one that was making me feel like crap was me.  As David Deida says in his book- “The Way of the Superior Man,”- “her complaint is the beginning of her pleasure.”  That is right- what I needed to learn to do is be open and receptive to my wife’s complaint, take responsibility for the things I was responsible for and let her know that I understood.  And the complaint and negative feelings would then transform into warmth and closeness.  It is just that simple and that difficult.

I have gotten much better.  My emotional muscle is more developed.  And I have a long ways to go!  I still react immaturely at times, get defensive and share like a child rather than an adult.  However, I intend to improve every day.  I intend to share feelings more lovingly and listen more caringly.  I could do it and so could you.  Yesterday (August 12th) we were married 31 years.  I am a far better communicator now than the first day we were married.  Can you imagine how good I will be in another 31 years at my 62nd anniversary?

Communication: Bickering, Yelling, Withdrawing, and Suppressing

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Ever have a simple item of discussion turn into a multiple hour fight? What should have been a simple chat, becomes another battle; and by the end of it, you’re no closer together.

I see it all the time with the couples I help. It comes down to a few styles of communication that are standing in the way of smooth sailing.  Watch this video to find out what kind of dynamic is going on in your home. And of course, I offer a some insights on how to turn it around in no time.

The Most Important Element Of Communication Nobody Talks About

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The Most Important Element Of Communication Nobody Talks About

Say “I” statements. Don’t be defensive. Repeat the words that your partner said. These are a few of the things people hear at basic communication seminars or what they read in communication articles. That is all well and good except that there is something that everyone has to do before anything else so that communication can be effective. And here it is:


What do I mean by that? I mean stop trying to accomplish ANYTHING when your partner is communicating. Get curious, be inquisitive, be interested in what the other person wants to express. If you drop your agenda, you will not be defending yourself, proving your partner is inaccurate or reacting to what he or she is saying. And that is because you are not trying to accomplish anything. You have dropped your agenda. You are now truly receptive to what your partner or the other person truly is experiencing and wants to convey to you. This is a very relaxed state. You are not trying to control how your partner thinks or feels or even how you feel. You are just letting everything be as it is. No forcing; no pushing; no pulling. Just being there, interested and curious. (Yes, some words need to be repeated).

This is the same state of mind as when you are in nature taking in the scenery. You are not trying to accomplish anything. You are just noticing the beauty around you. This state of mind could be practiced throughout the day for even seconds at a time. Then, when the other person wants to communicate to you, you can evoke in you that same state of mind. When you do that, your partner will notice and will feel your energy and presence is with him or her. Eventually it will be your turn to express and your partner could very well be more receptive to you because of your excellent listening. And that, my dear reader, is the beginning of great communication.

Do you have trouble doing this with your partner or anyone else? I can help with that! Contact me.


Sex in the Older Years

By | Communication, Coping, Counseling, Creating More Passion in Marriage, Great Sex, Intimacy, Long Hot Marriage, Love, Love advice, Marital Advice, Marital Problems, Marriage, Marriage Advice, Mind/Body Health, Sex, Todd’s Thursday Thought | No Comments

If we take good care of ourselves, our sexual system can outlast just about every organ system we have. People have the opportunity to enjoy sexual pleasure well into their older years. Couples that have attended to their relationship through the years can enjoy lovemaking based on sexual and emotional maturity, life experiences and a deepening of their intimate relationship. This can all help with some of the following challenges of sexuality in the older years:

  1. Women can develop some vaginal dryness due to hormonal changes such as decreases in estrogen levels. (Lubrications, hormonal balancing and some other medications can help with this challenge).
  2. Men may need more stimulation to get aroused and have orgasms. It is only natural and part of the aging process and like women, it may be due to hormonal changes, in this case- a gradual decrease of testosterone. With emotional maturity comes sensitivity, patience and acceptance of the human condition.
  3. Medical challenges can affect one’s sexuality. Prostate problems for men and hysterectomies for women definitely can affect sexuality. Also, cardiac problems, cancer and fibromyalgia as well as other chronic conditions can affect sexuality.
  4. Prescription drugs can sometimes lower libido and the ability to be aroused and/or orgasm.

I work with many older couples that have one or more of the above challenges. These couples are relieved to realize that there are solutions to these challenges. Sometimes it involves lifestyle changes that can help revive sexual health; sometimes it involves intelligent compromises where people don’t avoid physical intimacy even though they may not be able to do all that they did before. Some couples experience their best sexuality in their older years. Sex increasingly becomes a way to communicate love. There are less hang-ups and less ego. There is often more time to slow down and savor the relationship and each other. Those that are already there – please feel free to comment and share your wisdom. Those that are younger, if you play your cards right, you have much to look forward to!

Sexuality Through the Years

Sexuality Through the Years

By | Creating More Passion in Marriage, Great Sex, Intimacy, Long Hot Marriage, Love, Love advice, Marital Advice, Marital Problems, Marriage, Marriage Advice, Marriage Problems, Mind/Body Health, Romance, Sex, Sexy, Videos | No Comments

Sexuality is an important aspect for us throughout our lives. Watch this video to see how it evolves through the decades.

I cover the transitions of life before kids, through kids, physiological changes, on up to maintaining a sexual connection with your partner past the 80s! I’ve included some tips to help the transitions through the many happy years to come.

Here’s to getting the love you want!

Ready for Love? Show tonight featuring Yours Truly!

By | Communication, Conflict Resolution, Counseling, Creating More Passion in Marriage, Great Sex, Intimacy, Long Hot Marriage, Love, Love advice, Marital Advice, Marital Problems, Marriage, Marriage Advice, Marriage Problems, Relationships, Romance, Sex, Sexy, Successful Marriages, Thriving | No Comments



We will discuss maintaining or adding more passion and intimacy to your long term relationship.

  • Why is it hard to keep passion alive?
  • How to develop “emotional muscle”?
  • Have effective communication
  • Perceptions of your partner
  • What is romance?
  • Keep romance alive in relationship
  • Be courageous & experimental

Turn up the love volume and listen to the show here: http://www.newvisionsradio.com/

Or check out the archive here: www.lovecoachjourney.com/more-passion

Sexuality at Middle Age

By | Creating More Passion in Marriage, Great Sex, Intimacy, Long Hot Marriage, Love, Love advice, Marital Advice, Marriage, Marriage Advice, Parenting, Relationships, Romance, Sex, Sexy, Successful Marriages, Todd’s Thursday Thought | One Comment


Continuing the July theme of Sexuality Through the Years, this brief blog article discusses sexuality at middle age. Middle age is a pretty loose term. For most of us, it covers the time of having adolescent and young adult children, beginnings of perimenopause and menopause, and being empty nesters.

Having adolescents of course is challenging in general but it also challenges our sex life because the bedtimes are later and there are less opportunities to be alone because of that. However, on the other side of things, adolescents typically spend more time away from the house hanging out with friends. Parents need to plan ahead and be opportunistic to have time alone when the opportunities present itself. Of course, getting time away is always a good thing no matter how old your children are.

I will be writing a longer article on sexuality, women and menopause soon. Here I want to briefly say that husbands need to take the sexual symptoms of menopause seriously. Menopause and even perimenopause can decrease sexual desire and arousal. It does not affect all women the same, however; some are less affected than others. There is a decrease in estrogen, which can produce drier vaginas, which in turn can make sex more uncomfortable. The good news is that there are a number of things women can do to remedy this including using lubricants such as KY Jelly and Astroglide, other vaginal moisturizers and vaginal estrogen therapy. All these options should be discussed with your doctor.

Empty nesters can have a revival of their sex life, as they are free to be openly sexual around the house without thought of young ones around. Those couples that have put effort into staying connected through the child-rearing years can enjoy this transition and can use this time to raise the eroticism in the relationship. Those that did not do a good job of staying connected may have a crisis on their hands and need to see a qualified relationship and sex therapist to help them resurrect their aliveness and passion.

Sexuality at middle age can be a far richer sexual experience than in younger years. The reason for this is that hopefully the pair has matured together, weathered some storms together and can have a deep bond that allows for vulnerability and deeper sexual and emotional connection. It can be a time for experimentation and interpersonal risk taking. Those middle agers who have done the inner work of healing their childhood wounds are freer to enjoy mature sexuality and are less prone to act out their earlier interpersonal drams with each other. If you are in middle age and are struggling in your intimate life, please contact me wherever you are. I could help in person, via Skype or via phone. My passion is helping you enjoy passion with your partner.

Relationships are everything!

By | Teleseminar | One Comment

graphic with Sarah and I

As you know, I am passionate and helping people in intimate relationships rediscover and increase their passion. Below are a few examples of what I do:

  • I see couples in person and via Skype to help them overcome their barriers to nurturing, alive relationships
  • I do teleseminars and occasion live workshops to educate and enlighten people about their interpersonal power to make a difference in their relationships.
  • I develop information materials such as books, cd’s and downloadable products about relationships so that you can listen and watch conveniently and as many times as you want.
  • I take the time to nurture my own 30-year marriage and do my best to walk my talk.

I do this because relationships are everything!

By paying attention to the connections around me there are easy ways to create meaningful and mutually beneficial situations right in front of me that I’m determined not to pass up.

Here’s why I’m sharing this with you:

It’s insanely clear to me the power and impact relationships have to make or break your life!

Literally, in everything we do there is an opportunity to create more meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships.

Here’s why it’s imperative you pay attention to the relationships in your life starting NOW!

  1. studies show that your health and the length of your life are directly linked to the level of meaningful connections you have with others, pets and the world around you.
  2. the level of connections you have with others is also correlated to the amount of money in your bank account; and
  3. your hardest relationship offers you the lessons you need to grow and move to where you want to be with ease
  4. and it doesn’t stop there…

Here’s the deal: there is a speaker’s series happening now that will teach you all you need to get the most out of your relationships – it’s called “Maximize Your Platonic, Personal and Professional Relationships Live!

Here’s a quick summary: Over three weeks you’ll get access to 30 speakers as we discuss exercises you can do in less than 30 minutes a day to create meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships in 3 areas of your life.

Week 1: we discuss platonic relationships and lay the foundation for how you can ensure you get the most out of this series.

Week 2: we discuss how to maximize romantic relationships whether it’s with the person you are dating, married to or separated from – there are opportunities to grow, learn and expand in each that we miss all the time. (Of course that is when my interview airs).

Week 3: we discuss how to maximize relationships for professional development and achievement.

This is the quickest and easiest way I know to get you this insanely powerful information!

Join me and learn ways to maximize the relationships in your life right now! 

My interview airs on July 17th. What is the blessing and lesson that is here for you? You’ll never know unless you join me: Click here.

The event started July 6th but you can still join us. You’ll have full access to all the interviews until August 2. Take full advantage – there’s nothing like this out there

Healthy Couples Make for Healthy Children

By | Committment, Communication, Creating More Passion in Marriage, Family, Family Relationships, Great Sex, Intimacy, Long Hot Marriage, Marital Advice, Marriage Advice, Marriage Problems, Parenting, Relationships, Romance, Sex, Sexy, Successful Marriages | One Comment

Family Cycling Through A Park

“Are you kidding? You are asking me to be romantic with my husband and to flirt with him? I don’t even have time to go to the bathroom sometimes with my 3 kids running around during the summer. Two are in camps, one has to go to junior lifeguards and my husband is at work all day. By the time I am done with my to-do list, I am beat and have no time for romance and sex.”

“It’s just challenging now. There are layoffs coming and I need to work extra hard and basically be more impressive to my superiors than my coworkers. And then when I get home, my wife needs me to go pick up my daughter at dance and my son at soccer. Then I get home and eat a real late dinner and I am exhausted. And then I am supposed to take some time to be with my wife? I need to decompress, maybe watch one TV show and then go to bed.”

I hear variations of those themes almost every day I am working with couples. In the above examples, the kids are getting in their soccer, their dance, their camps and their junior lifeguards. But what they are not getting are parents who show joy to be around each other. If you were to take those children 20 years from now and ask them- If you had one less activity back then but it allowed your parents to have some time together and you got to see them smiling at each other more – would you choose that? I am telling you the answer would be yes. I am not saying that children shouldn’t have activities; as a matter of fact I am fine with them having all the activities and more that I listed above. As long as the couple has some quality time together on a consistent basis.

Maybe it is not a child’s activity that has to go; maybe it is talking less on the phone with your dependent sister. Or maybe you need to be more assertive with your boss and do your best to get home earlier. Or maybe you make just a little less money as an entrepreneur. (I know many people who refused to make a little less money, their lives got out of balance and then they ended up in a very expensive divorce and were financially far worse off than if they balanced their lives out more when married.)

Or maybe you do not have to give ANYTHING up. Being a healthy couple may take no more than a decision to prioritize attending to each other. I recently had one of those overwhelmed moms in my office who had no time for her husband. I asked her to turn towards her husband and make him feel like a million bucks. She looked at him, smiled and gently touched her husband’s face. His face lit up and he smiled back. I asked what was going on with him. He said- I liked what she did a lot! I asked her how long that took and she answered- about 8 seconds. Yup, 8 seconds to a better marriage- sounds like my next book title!

The important point here is that your children will benefit tremendously when you make being a healthy couple a priority. They will be more relaxed and having parents who outwardly show affection and fondness for each other helps children in ways that we may take for granted. I am not citing research in this blog but you can, I am sure, imagine that as children feel more secure because their parents are happy together, they could do better socially, academically and health-wise as well. And here is another benefit- you both become great role models for their future intimate relationships!

So, in a nutshell, take your kids to dance and soccer and also make sure that they see some outward signs that you both like each other and enjoy each other’s company. It all makes perfect sense now, doesn’t it?