Sunday, April 5, 2015

52 Steps To Improve Your Relationship-Step 3

Step 3-Disclosure

In Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” she refers to a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one.
The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue.

Below is Set 1(set 2 and 3 will be presented in future steps) of this study. I suggest that you put aside at least thirty minutes and ask each other all of the questions at one time. If you can not find time, than try two questions a night. Also, take turns answering first as you go through the questions

Set I
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

“When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.” 

52 Steps To Improve Your Relationship-Step 2

Step 2-The 6 Second Hug

Give your partner one hug a day that lasts 6 seconds.
Keep in mind that this a "hug of affection" and not a "groping hug".
The biggest challenge to following through with this step is that when we are angry at our partner we do not feel like being close to him/her; however, this is also an opportunity to remind ourselves that we have a deeper connection and taking the time to connect in this way is an invitation to that feeling for both partners.

“If you would be loved, love, and be loveable.”
— Benjamin Franklin

52 Steps To Improve Your Relationship-Step 1

Welcome to my 52 Steps To Improve Your Relationship.

Each Monday you will receive a suggested behavior or shift in attitude or activity that is designed to strengthen your partnership. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by email or phone(631-928-4114-my landline-texting not available)

Also included will be a positive quote about relationships

Step 1

At the end of each day, ask your partner "What was positive about his/her day?" and "What was challenging about her/his day?"  This is to replace the usual "How was your day?" question which is less inviting to sharing.

After your partner has shared, offer your answers to the same questions.

Quote for the week

"When you stop expecting people to be perfect, than you can like them for who they are" by Donald Miller 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

52 Steps To Improve Your Relationship

Beginning January 5th, 2015, each week I will email one small step or change in behavior that you can try for a week with your partner. Since it is often difficult to make and sustain "big" changes in one's life or relationship, these will be a series of small steps which are easier to gradually integrate into a couple's life and daily interactions.

If you are interested in participating, simply email me( and I will add you to my data base for this program.

Please feel free to pass this information to any friends or family who might also be interested

Learn more:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Relationship Tip of the Week #96-Creating the Caring Connection

Why is it that our attempts to care for our partner often go unnoticed or unappreciated?

We may feel frustrated or hopeless about understanding what it takes to connect with our partner or for him/her to feel cared about. This often leads to resignation and giving up which leads to distance and the development of symptoms such as affairs, addictive behaviors or mental illness(depression, anxiety).

The caring connection begins by discovering what our partner needs and the best way to gain that information is to simply ask:

"Do you feel cared about by me? If yes, "what is it i am doing or saying that has created that feeling". If no, "what do you need from me to let you know that i care?".

When the answer comes, especially if it is a negative one, take a deep breath and listen. Even, if you believe that you have been doing what your partner claims is missing, make note that somehow it isn't working. Ask for more details of what it will take to help your message get through in a meaningful way. Take several days to think about what has been shared with you. If you are able to offer what has been requested, do so. Follow up with questions to find out if your shift in words, attitude, or behavior is working.

The process of asking the question, listening, and following through whenever possible is the beginning of creating the caring connection. Almost all partners will feel cared about if she/he knows that you really want to care for him/her.

Next week-gender issues in creating the caring connection

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Relationship Tip of the Week #95-The Challenge of caring-Part 3

The Roots of Caring

Why does it seem so difficult to care for your partner in a long term relationship when that was all you wanted to do when you first met and couldn't do enough for each other?

In the initial stage of a relationship, we want to be close, love and be loved, care for and be cared for; so naturally we put our best foot forward. We minimize differences and maximize similarities. As our relationship progresses, we notice our differences more, we now feel constraints on our individual needs that had moved to the background as the couple's needs were the priority for both members.
We feel ourselves being more critical of some of what we consider our partner's shortcomings. As in social dancing, it is almost impossible, to dance so close without at some point stepping on each other's toes or hurting one another in some way at some point. This causes us to step back from one another and become more cautious and less trusting. Unfortunately,this is a natural process and has to happen when our differences collide as we attempt to navigate the challenges of living together.
Now we are more likely to keep score of who is caring for whom and our list of resentments begins to lengthen which makes it more difficult to give freely.

All of the above is also effected by our own childhood experience of being cared for by our parents or caregivers as well as our experience of being neglected. What did your parents teach you about relationships?
Were you indulged and grew up expecting that relationship were about you receiving?
Were you neglected and learned to take care of your own needs?
Were you taught that it was your responsibility to take care of your parents as their needs were more important than yours?
Were you taught the importance reciprocal relationships?-The need to give and receive

Next Week-How to care for your partner so she/he feel cared for.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Relationship Tip of the Week #94-The Challenge of Caring-part 2

What to do when you do not feel cared for by your partner?

It is very difficult to be a caring partner when you do not experience some form of reciprocity. Unfortunately, sharing this information with one's spouse often leads to defensiveness or an argument and it becomes easier to avoid such discussions which then leads to resignation, disappointment and disconnection

Here are my four suggestions to remedy this challenge:

1) Utilize the soft start up and say something like." I know that you care about me and love me. I would like to ask you to consider adding a daily hug and a weekly date night(or fill in your need for these two behaviors) for us to the ways in which you express your caring to me.

2) Invite your partner to have a discussion about the ways in which you each feel cared for. Let him/her go first and listen in a non-defensive manner. When it is your turn, attempt to say everything in a positive way(what you want) and avoid negative or attacking comments(what you do not want)

3) If you have not made any progress, suggest to your partner that you sign up for my year long program in gift giving in order to strengthen your relationship. If he/she appears resistant, suggest that you can do it for a few weeks and then both evaluate whether it is helpful so your partner does not feel trapped.
You can do this by emailing me at and requesting to participate.

4) If this does not work, sign up for the course and model it for your partner and ask after a month if she/he is feeling cared for by you. This is the hardest to do but often has the most profound effect since it shows you are ready to care even if your partner is not able.

Next Week: Exploring the Roots of Caring

Relationally Yours,