Thank you for downloading my Special Report!


I’m [coach name] and I’m thrilled to share with you some of the most important and valuable tips and strategies that I’ve learned for living the life you love with the love of your life, made available here for you in partnership with Relationship Coaching Institute where I received my relationship coach training, and is my gift to you!


Also included below is a Couples Relationship Assessment to help you identify areas of your relationship and life together that might need attention for a successful relationship.


And please do consider my invitation (below) for a FREE private Couple for Life Strategy Session.




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Top 5 Communication Quickies For Couples


1.    Use The 3 Magic Words of Listening - "Is there More?"

For most people, listening is far more challenging than talking. If you do nothing else, being attentive to what your partner is saying and using these 3 magic words will make you a star listener. Try it!


Are you wondering what the "3 Magic Words Of Speaking" are? Simply... "I love you". If you are expressing things that may be difficult for your partner to hear, be sure to start and end with these healing words.


2.    It's Not About You!

When your partner is expressing a thought, feeling, need, issue, or judgment, it comes from their reality, is valid for them, and it is not about you! Most arguments would never happen if we would simply accept our partner’s point of view and agree to disagree.


3.    It's All About You!

Your thoughts, feelings, needs, issues, and judgments are your reality, are valid for you, have little to do with your partner, and many people (including your partner) are unlikely to see things your way.


If you take full ownership for your experience you will be able to create the conditions for connection and harmony in just about any situation with your partner. A fulfilling relationship is about having, accepting, and negotiating differences, not being “right”, seeking sameness or consensus.


4.    Turn complaints into requests.

We bring many, many needs into any relationship and will experience an issue when a need is not met. It is impossible for all needs to be met all the time in any relationship, so you will have many opportunities to experience and express issues. Simply making a request and focusing on what you want to happen, instead of what is wrong or not happening, and negotiating a "win-win" outcome, will effectively prevent or resolve conflict.


5.    Tell your truth.

The path to true intimacy and connection is by being authentic and telling your full truth to your partner about your thoughts, feelings, needs, wants, issues, boundaries, etc. Intimacy means, "Into me I see", a transparency between two people that requires full expression of what is inside. Seeking to avoid conflict and maintain harmony by censoring yourself can work for awhile, until your suppressed truth comes out in other ways, such as withdrawal, resentment, "acting out", etc. Telling your whole truth can be scary, but will result in the kind of relationship that you really want. More about this below.


Copyright © 2017 by [coach name] and Relationship Coaching Institute.

All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.






Here is an assessment from Relationship Coaching Institute that I highly recommend. I suggest printing out two copies for you and your beloved to complete independently, then contact me for a FREE private Couple for Life Strategy Session (see below) to review your results and develop your action plan:







































Top 5 Communication Quickies for Couples:  Fast Strategies for More Love                                                                 4



This questionnaire is designed to help you set goals for your relationship. For pre- committed relationships your results will assist your long-term decision-making.







- -


- -


- - --



- - - -



- - -


- -


- -






- - - -


- - -



- - - -


- - - -





Not at all









































































1.  My requirements are met - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


2.  My Vision is supported - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


3.  My purpose and mission is supported - - - - -


4.  I’m willing to live the rest of my life with everything exactly as it is in this relationship


5.  I am not settling for less than I really want in choosing this relationship - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


6.  We are in alignment about money - - - - - - - - -


7.  We are in alignment about future plans - - - - -


8.  Addictions are not an issue in this relationship-


9.  We are in alignment about children and family -


10.  I trust my partner to be sexually faithful - - -


11.  I trust my partner with money - - - - - - - - - - -


12.  I trust my partner to be honest with me about everything - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

13.  I trust my partner to keep agreements in this relationship - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

14.  I can see myself growing old and happy in this relationship - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -





Not at all




















































in retirement















- - -








15.      We are in alignment about our lifestyle-

16.      We are well-matched in our food preferences and eating habits - - - - - - -


17.      We are well-match in our health habits and practices - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

18.      We are well-matched in our grooming and hygiene habits and practices - - - -

19.      We are well-matched in our hobbies, physical and leisure activities - - - - - -

20.      We are well-matched in our level of desire for travel and adventure - - - - - -


21.      We are well-matched in our preferences to stay home and experience quiet times -


22.      We travel well together - - - - - - - - - - - -


23.      I am able to pursue my own interests and activities in this relationship - - - - -









- - -


- -


- -






Not at all









































24.      Our families supports our relationship - -


25.      Our kids support our relationship - - - - -


26.      Our friends support our relationship - - -


27.      We are well-matched in our preferences for socializing with friends and family - -

28.       We both have individual support systems - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


29.       We seek support when we need it - - - - -













Not at all






















































Emotional Needs



24.  I feel loved in this relationship - - - - - - - -


25.  I feel good about myself in this relationship - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


26.  This relationship brings out the best in me-


27.  I feel physically and emotionally safe

in this relationship - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

28.  I feel able to be myself in this relationship - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

29.  I feel respected for who I am in this relationship - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

30.  We have equal levels of give and take in this relationship - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


31.  I have fun in this relationship - - - - - - - - -


32.  This relationship feels equal on all levels-


33.  We enjoy small moments of connection each day no matter how busy we are - - -





Not at all














































34.  We are in alignment about religious and/or spiritual beliefs and practices - - -

35.  Our values are well-matched - - - - - - - - -

36.  We are well-matched in our desire to make a difference in the world - - - - - - - -


37.    We support each other's hopes, dreams, and aspirations - - - - - - - - - - -





Not at all






























































- - - -







- -











Relationship Skills




38.  Our communication is functional - - - - - -

39.  We manage our differences positively and without conflict - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

40.  I am able to be totally honest in this relationship - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


41.  We handle stress effectively together - - -


42.  We handle differences and conflict effectively - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


43.  We are able to live positively with

our unresolvable differences - - - - - - - - -


44.  We respect each other's feelings and reactions during conflict - - - - - - - - - - - -

45.  We regularly discuss small frustrations and irritations so they don’t get larger - -

46.  We try to make things better during

or after a conflict - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

47.  We soothe ourselves and each other

in tense situations - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -













- -





Not at all





































48.  We are in alignment about having pets - -


49.  We are in alignment about how to handle kids and pets - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

50.  We are in alignment about who does what around the house - - - - - - - - - - - - -

51.  We are in alignment about our level of organization/neatness around the house-


52.  We share equally in caring for our home-







Not at all








































53.  I experience strong chemistry - - - - - - - -


54.  I’m fulfilled sexually in this relationship-


55.  I experience passion in this relationship - -


56. I experience romance in this relationship - -


57.  I find my partner very attractive - - - - - - -


58.  I get turned on with my partner - - - - - - - -








Not at all





































59.  We are well-matched intellectually - - - - - -


60.  We are well-matched emotionally - - - - - - -


61.  We are well-matched developmentally (maturity, etc) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


62.  We know and accept each other's

quirks - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


63.  We intimately know each other's likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams - - - - -





Review your scores and mark an “X on the line corresponding to your estimated level of satisfaction in each section.








































I       II      III      IV      V     VI     VII    VIII    IX




Mostly Somewhat Not at all





PWhat are your strongest areas?                                                                                  







PWhat areas need improvement?                                                                                 







PWhat do you need to learn more about?                                                                    







PWhat are the top 5 items that could most interfere with the future success of your relationship?     






PGiven the above results, what are your top 5 goals for your relationship?














Did you complete your Couples Relationship Assessment?

Learn anything new about your relationship?

Identify any relationship challenges and goals?



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  Leave this session excited and inspired with a road map for your future together!

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Bonus! Telling Your Truth and Getting Your Needs Met

Now that you have my Top 5 Communication Quickies for Couples I thought you might like this bonus info.


As a Relationship Coach, I’ve learned that to have a successful relationship you must be a good partner by being responsive to your partner’s needs. And equally important is to tell your truth and take responsibility to work with your partner to get your needs met.



We all want our partner to support us and be there for us. But we also know that this is the real world, and in reality, we need to look out for number one. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, a lot of people feel selfish for even thinking about it. Still, to have a strong relationship you must have a strong sense of self, and to have a strong sense of self, you must be clear about who you are, what you want, and what’s true for you. You must take care of yourself and speak up when you are having a hard time. This is what we refer to as self-advocacy, and it generally takes two forms: proactive assertiveness and reactive assertiveness.


Reactive Assertiveness

Reactive assertiveness is what most of us are familiar with—it’s when somebody steps on our toe,

we say “ouch,” and kindly ask them to step off.


From the checker at the grocery store who doesn’t give us the correct change to the delivery person who doesn’t deliver our newspaper in the morning, there are many, benign situations in the world where somebody does or does not do something that infringes on our boundaries. It’s up to us to take action to correct it. We need to take care of ourselves and do or say something to assert our boundaries and get our needs met.


The wish or expectation that others will step up for us tends not to work out well. Even if our best interests are in fact considered by others, like the love of our life, we can’t expect them to read our mind or automatically do things when and how we want them to be done. Advocating for our needs is a responsibility we cannot delegate. We must step up and assert our own self-identified boundaries.




You are absolutely never going to be satisfied, and life or a relationship is never really going to work for you, if you expect other people, even the one that loves you the most and that want you to be happy, to magically anticipate or figure out your boundaries for you. In fact, we will go so far as to say that there are very few absolutes in the world that we would even feel confident stating, but that’s one of them.


It’s rarely a good idea to say always and never, but we can confidently assert that you will never, ever be satisfied … you will never get your needs met … you will always be let down … things will never work for you … if you expect other people to read your mind, figure out your boundaries, or meet your needs the way you want them to be met without you having to say or do anything.


You need to speak up and assert yourself, which effectively means that you must know the location of your boundaries, those lines in life and relationships between what is okay and what is not okay for you.


Here’s an example: Last week the paper delivery person threw our newspaper in the sprinklers. Our paper was wet and we couldn’t read it. This crossed a boundary and was not okay for us, so we took action. We requested another paper and got another paper. Chances are that won’t happen again because we spoke up. If we didn’t speak up, the delivery person might have continued to throw the newspaper in the sprinklers, and over and over again we would have an unreadable paper. As a result, we would be resentful, seething, and upset. Even though it may be foreign or difficult at times, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with looking out for yourself and your best interests. In fact, we would argue that it’s necessary for fulfillment.


If you are in a park and somebody is smoking a cigarette, and it bothers you, then you have a choice to make. You could say something, and risk starting a fight, or you could simply step away and relocate yourself. Either way, in this case, if you don’t take care of yourself and assert your boundaries, then you will sit there breathing in second-hand smoke and you will feel bad about yourself for not doing anything about it.


Not only does having a boundary and not taking care of it increase our stress, it affects our physical and emotional health. What’s more, if you are unable to take care of yourself, and at the minimum summon the ability to exercise reactive assertiveness, you will not live the life that you want and you certainly won’t have the relationship that you want. But there’s always more you can do, and it starts with taking action ahead of time.



Proactive Assertiveness

If you want to ensure things go smoothly in your life, though it’s a strategy that is a little less common, you can take care of yourself in advance of an event. That’s called proactive assertiveness.


For example, let’s say you don’t like being seated close to the kitchen when you go out to eat, because you find it too noisy to talk. When you arrive at the restaurant you could say, “We prefer a quiet table please.” If you don’t speak up ahead of time, and take your chances, then you risk being seated at a table that prevents you from talking, which forces you to be reactively assertive to get your needs met. It’s far more effective to be proactively assertive and speak up in advance for something that you want or need or to protect your boundaries.


Here’s a metaphor: Reactive assertiveness would be taking care of your car when something breaks down, when there is a problem.

Proactive assertiveness would be preventative maintenance and addressing things ahead of time, because you know if you don’t there will be problems down the road. With a bit of forethought, things tend to operate smoothly and reliably, and your life is more pleasant all around.


It may come as a surprise, but people are generally willing to modify their behavior upon request in relationships if there is something that you need. It’s even better if they don’t have to step in it in order for that to happen. Your partner will generally be more receptive when you are not in a position of correcting them or changing something that’s already taken place. It’s much easier and more efficient if things go well the first time, as opposed to picking up the pieces after someone failed to meet your needs or infringed upon your boundaries.


Telling Your Truth

If you are ever to have a successful and fulfilling relationship it is crucial that you tell your truth, which comes in three forms. There is the conscious truth, which is the truth that you are aware of; there is the semiconscious truth, which is the truth that is just below the surface; and then there is the unconscious truth, which is the truth that gets uncovered only when you are looking for it or through learning more about yourself.


As for speaking our mind, it should really be a no-brainer that we would at least tell our conscious truth, and that the way to a good relationship and to take care of ourselves is to simply say what we are thinking. But we are human, and as such, we are subject to the reality that behavior follows patterns. In other words, nothing ever occurs just once and nothing is ever random.



Behavior Follows Patterns

If behavior follows patterns, nothing ever occurs just once, and nothing is ever random then we can anticipate our own needs and boundaries. That didn’t work for me in the past, so maybe I should try something different. Proactive assertiveness and reactive assertiveness can work together and paying attention can help us learn more about our truth. Realizing that what we experience is going to come up again enables us to address what we are going to do about it next time, and better yet, how we can prevent it from happening in the first place.


Still, even if we recognize the benefits of being proactive, it’s natural to avoid conflict. Asserting ourselves, even if it’s not conflict, often feels like conflict. It seems risky to tell our truth because we know people get defensive, which often leads to argument. That’s where our communications skills come in, where we make requests instead of relying on the alternatives like complaining, criticizing, and coercion. Requesting is respectful, and if you phrase things in a non-judgmental way, you can tell your truth without making anybody wrong, which, for the most part, is pretty well received.


If, on the other hand, your words come out with a judgmental tone or emotional energy behind them, as if you are upset, angry, or resentful, then your truth could stimulate conflict and defensiveness. Thinking back to the Communication Map, this is where we encounter known roadblocks such as judgment, interpretation, defensiveness, and reactive emotion. In a successful relationship, our job is to tell our truth and assert our boundaries effectively. To do that, we must make requests calmly and respectfully. It’s far easier to do so when we are being proactively assertive rather than reactively assertive.



Although telling our truth can be scary, because we fear judgment and conflict, the real risk is in choosing to keep our feelings to ourselves. That increases our chances of not having our needs met, experiencing frustration or resentment, and not having the relationship work for us. So, if we tell our truth, make a request, and assert our boundaries, yes, we risk conflict and defensiveness. But we are also more likely to get or needs met, create closeness, and have our relationships work effectively.


We always have this choice point, and because behavior follows patterns, the choice that you make tends to be repetitive. If you choose to sensor yourself to avoid conflict, that tends occur again and again. You don’t ever do it just once. You don’t ever do it randomly. That becomes your pattern. If you consistently take that risk and tell your truth, make requests to get your needs met


as effectively as you can, and assert your boundaries, then that becomes your pattern, which will work much better for you.



It’s Not About You

We want to create safety for each other. This allows us to be vulnerable and to experience frustration, which is not a negative thing. Yes, it’s okay to be annoyed and upset. It’s okay to be irrational. “I know I shouldn’t be so upset about this, but I am.” When you are partners and you allow each other to be who you are and feel what you are feeling and experience your experience, then that’s okay. You don’t take it personally. You support your partner in feeling what they are feeling and you realize it’s not about you.


Some experts believe that if there is a negative emotion coming up for someone, typically 90% of that emotion is related to the past. In other words, when there is sense of frustration swirling

around, only 10% of it is related to the current situation. Looking at it through that lens, it is evident that if your partner is upset about something, 90% of that is probably not about you; it’s probably a past experience that has been triggered. When you see the situation for what it really is you won’t take it so personally.


Remember, positive intention can alleviate a lot of the perceived conflict, and you can’t control how people will receive a question from you, nor should you want to. In

fact, the attempt to control is a problem, because that’s where we get into censoring ourselves. Rather than censoring ourselves, trying to make sure that our partner is okay, we should put effort into communicating our truth as cleanly and clearly as possible, knowing that if people take it wrong it’s on them; it’s not because we did anything wrong. It’s always okay to tell our truth as long as we own it, and it’s always okay to make a request as long as we let go of attachment to it.


Owning Your Truth

Owning your truth means that you realize that it’s your truth; it’s not the truth. You realize that it’s okay for people to disagree or think or believe differently. It means you will absolutely and cleanly stand up for your truth, but you will not present it as fact.


In telling your truth, it may be helpful to attach some sort of language to it like, “this is about me …” or “In my opinion …” or “It seems to me … “or “What’s real for me is ...” But these are merely tactics, tools that you can use to help you assert yourself. However you choose to do it, you must


be authentic when telling your truth. So, rather than creating sentence stems or certain fallback words, we would prefer that you focus on the overall strategy of telling your truth, staying real, and finding a way that works best for you.


It’s worth noting that when we give examples, they are just that—examples. We don’t believe that our way is the best and only way to do things. We assume there are many better ways to do it than our way. We are merely presenting the best way we know for right now.



Having said that, whatever words you choose in making a statement that you are trying to own, it helps to in some way clearly communicate that “This is about me … this is from me … this is my opinion … this is my truth; this is not the truth.”


Anytime you state your reality, you must be careful not to infer that your partner must believe it, too. You don’t want to get caught up in trying to couch your truth as fact. A fact is observable and measurable, so if I am communicating something that is my truth, and it’s not a fact, I need to be clean about it and own it by saying so. Then I can make a request about it. “What I need is …” or “What I want is …” or “What I require is …”


Owning your truth takes the concepts of requirements, needs, and wants, and puts them in communication in a clean way. Owning your truth means you are specific. “What I want is this …” Choose the word want infers a willingness to be flexible and to let go of the request.


If you say, “What I need is this …” then it’s a sign that this is very important to you, it’s going to be a problem for you if it’s not met, and you must connect with your partner about how to make that happen. But you must also acknowledge that there are lots of ways it could be met, and you would like to work with your partner to get it met. Saying, “I require this …” is strong language that this is non-negotiable. This has to happen for you or else there are going to be dire consequences for the relationship. The important thing is to make it clear where you are coming from.


It’s Always Okay to Tell Your Truth

We believe it’s always okay to tell your truth as long as you own it and as long as you are being clean about it. It’s always okay to tell your truth as long as you understand and indicate that this is your truth, it’s not the truth, and you are not imposing it on anybody else. You must be clear in your attitude and your language that this is about you, not your partner. “I’m not trying to control how you see or think about things or what you do; I’m just sharing with you what’s true for me.”



Incorporating its-about-me language into your communication is a much more effective and powerful way of telling your truth, asserting your boundaries, and expressing your needs, as long as you are doing it clearly and cleanly, and it’s a great way to avoid conflict. But with some people, no matter what, they will have a problem with what you say if it doesn’t mirror them. The idea of mirroring is interesting in that relationships tend to be our mirrors—the way our partner responds to us is a direct reflection of what we put out.


We can do our best to be clean and own something and yet people will sometimes have a problem with it. But we can’t be afraid of that, though, because if it becomes a pattern then we will be constantly censoring ourselves, only asserting ourselves as we anticipate that it would be okay with somebody else.



We cannot treat things as a popularity contest. That’s not going to create a happy, fulfilling life and relationship. Perhaps for some people, being popular and well-liked is enough to attain fulfillment because they don’t want anything more than that, even if it means living a lie, or at best, an incomplete truth. For most of us, however, we need to be who we are and we need to live and express our truth, even if there’s risk that some people will take our truth the wrong way or react negatively to it.


So, it’s always okay to tell your truth as long as you do it cleanly and you own it, and it’s always okay to make a request as long as you aren’t too attached to the outcome, meaning you are not set on exactly how it happens, or on it even happening at all.


Letting Go of Attachment

Let’s get back to our smoking example. If you are in a situation where somebody near you lights up a cigarette, and it bothers you, you could make a request. “Excuse me, this is a no-smoking area, and your smoking does bother me, could you smoke someplace else?” Now, there is a good chance that the person will look at you, sneer, scoff, and say, in effect, “Mind your own business.”


As long as you are willing to let go of your request, and take care of yourself in other ways, say by removing yourself, rather than needing to control other people’s behavior, you should be okay. Yes, it’s still risky to speak up, but again, the consequence of not giving yourself permission to make a request, in the most clean way, where you take ownership of it, is that you assure yourself that you will not live your truth.


Remember, your communication does not have to be confrontational—you are not judging and you are not blaming, you are simply taking care of yourself in a clean way, in which you assert that this is your need, so you are making a request about it. You are both owning your truth and leaving room for your request not to be fulfilled. You are not attached to the outcome; you are attached to your truth.


Most conflict happens because people are attached to an outcome. They are attached to having the other person agree with them and see things their way. Attachment really is the bane of our existence and the bane of relationships. If you get attached to it being a sunny day, well, what if it’s not sunny that day? Does that guarantee you’re going to have a bad day? If you just let the weather be what it is, and roll with it, you will have a much happier life.



There aren’t many ways the role of attachment works well for us. It’s certainly a good thing to have a goal, to be committed to that goal, and to have the self-discipline to go for it. But it’s also a good thing to not be too attached to exactly what happens or how it happens. Maybe you will never achieve that goal or maybe you will achieve only part of the goal. Does it mean your life is over or you will not be happy or okay if you come up short? At some point, you have to let go and allow things to be what they are.


You can see the role of attachment and the need to let go of attachment throughout life and throughout a relationship. If you are attached to somebody else agreeing with you, or doing what you want them to do, or controlling them with your words, then communication is not going to be very effective. In fact, it’s likely to result in conflict. But if you are not attached to things always going your way, and you are just telling your truth, making a request, and being clean about it and owning it, then your communication will be much more effective and promote a healthy relationship.


In life and in love we must deal with reality. You will get cut off on the highway. It will rain. People will light up a cigarette where they are not supposed to. You and your partner will have disagreements. You can’t stumble through life always hoping for things to be different, wishing things had happened the way you wanted them to happen or that people always followed the rules. You must be willing to except that life is what it is, and when you don’t get your needs met, you need to speak up or do something about it. That is a necessary thing, that’s an okay thing, and that’s just part of life. It shouldn’t be this thing that you just resent having to do, or this thing that you should avoid because it only creates problems.


We are not perfect and we need to accept that. We must allow ourselves to be who we are and love ourselves as we are, and we must remember that our partner is not perfect either. We


must love them for who they are. We can’t keep up a persona for very long, nor can they, so why

even bother.


Keeping Us Honest

It’s hard to hide forever in a relationship. You can put on a happy face, you can play act like you’ve got it all together and that you are calm, cool, and collected, but if that is an act, if you are playing a role, then you are not going to be able to keep it up for very long. That’s what relationships do—they keep us honest. They reveal who we really are. In a relationship, it’s hard to cover up

our truth, our reality, our warts, our faults, and our vices. Nor should we want to. Think of the pain and deception that comes from hiding our truth all the time. Besides,

everything will come out eventually, so we might as well accept it and allow it to come out. We must own who we are, which means standing up for it and tell the truth about it.



Full disclosure is not only accepted and supported, it’s expected. In relationships that don’t work very well or even in good marriages, the truth is often judged. And it’s rejected. “Well, I like this part of you and this part of you, but I don’t like that part of you and that part of you.” That’s not realistic. That’s not the way relationships work. It’s a package deal. We must accept the good along with everything else.


Here’s the cool part: When you have safety, and are in an environment where you are truly accepted for who you are, and you are allowed to experience your experience and you allow yourself to experience your experience, then you will relish radical communication in your relationship. You will be able to also experience and tell your truth, always. That pattern that you establish gets you even further in touch with your truth, and the additional layers start peeling away all by themselves.


There’s Always Something New

The great adventure in a relationship is that there is always something new. There is always something new to learn about yourself and there is always something new to learn about your partner. What’s more, we change and evolve over time. So, it’s not just discovering things that were there that we never noticed before; it’s discovering things that only recently developed. Just when we think we know our partner 100% they surprise us with some aspect of them that we never knew existed, that we are still discovering, and that we haven’t experienced before—and it often comes out in reaction to something.


Let’s say you and your partner are watching a movie and your partner starts crying during a particular scene, and they don’t even know why. Eventually they will get in touch with their truth and with what caused that scene to touch them so deeply. In so doing, they learn more about themselves and you learn more about them.


Situations like these come up all the time in everyday life and in relationships. There is always something you will react to that will reveal more of who you are and who your partner is. And as more truth gets revealed, your job as partners is to share it with each other. Even if you choose not to share it, your partner will sometimes pick up on it anyway—they can often see it right in front of them. It’s not always something that you talk about it, but it is something that you ideally would embrace and share with each other rather than try to keep it to yourselves.


When you keep things to yourself you live inside a rigid box. “Here’s who I am. Here’s how I think about myself. Here’s who you are. Here’s how I think of you—and that can’t change.” No, when we try to box ourselves in to fit a strict idea of who we are and who we want to be, or a strict idea of who we want our partner to be, it doesn’t work and it creates barriers or false boundaries.



Unearthing More About Yourself and Your Partner

A successful relationship is all about the never-ending adventure of discovering more about who you are, which tends to come out anyway. As we’ve stated, it’s impossible to hide in a relationship, and there are things that were always there that you are just now discovering for the first time, and there are things that arise as they change, grow, and evolve over time. In either case, the ongoing adventure of learning more about your partner is one of the true joys of marriage.


It’s a fascinating idea that you can be with somebody for a long time and continue discovering new things about them. It’s like archaeology—discovering this find that was dormant for years. “Where’d that come from? That’s a surprise!”


Discovery is part of the adventure of relationships, and in a great relationship you embrace that, encourage it, and accept it when it happens. You even seek it, going after it rather than waiting for it to come to you.


It Can Always Be Better


It’s your responsibility to tell your truth, to identify and assert your boundaries. You are responsible to communicate positively and to make requests instead of complaints. You must be proactively assertive as best you can and reactively assertive when the situation calls for it.


Telling your truth is one of those things that you can never get too good at. You never arrive. There is never a destination. You are never the expert. You always need to put effort into it. The more work you put into it the better you’ll get, and the better your life and relationship will be. But it does takes continuous effort. It never feels smooth. It always feels like you are expending energy and thought to improve.


In any communication exchange, we can identify a way that it could have been more effective. We are human beings and we are imperfect. We get better with practice. We get better with intention. You must embrace the idea that you need to put effort into relating your truth. You must never be complacent. You must learn and hone your skills, and your partner is always around to give you practice. That’s a good thing, because no matter how good you become in the realm of communication, it can always be better.




Excerpted with permission from Radical Marriage: Your Relationship as Your Greatest Adventure by David and Darlene Steele, published by RCN Press and available on



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David Steele, MA, LMFT, CLC


David Steele is a pioneer in the field of Relationship Coaching for singles and couples. A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years of experience, he is founder of Relationship Coaching Institute and the creative force behind Relationship Coaching Network.

Steele is the author of the popular, ground-breaking Conscious Dating Relationship Success Program For Singles, a structured, step-by-step workshop and coaching program that has helped thousands of singles to “find the love of your life and the life that you love,” and Conscious Mating, a powerful and innovative program that helps pre-committed and pre-marital couples create

sustainable, fulfilling life partnerships. The author has trained hundreds of helping professionals worldwide to help singles and couples using his programs and models of Relationship Coaching.

David truly has a passion for helping singles and couples have successful life partnerships. Since experiencing his parents’ divorce as a child, and his own two divorces as an adult, he has spent his personal and professional life attempting to figure out the mystery of how relationships fail and succeed.

As a couple’s therapist for many years, the author became disillusioned and frustrated with the poor success rate of marital therapy with couples in trouble. He questioned the effectiveness of working within a culture that professed to highly value marriage and family, but seemed to prioritize working on relationships only when they were on the verge of divorce, which seemed like a set-up for failure.

In 1997 David was surprised to discover the developing field of Life and Personal Coaching, a new helping profession that evolved independently from psychotherapy and mental health, originating from business consulting, sports psychology, and the personal growth movement. After first viewing this new profession with skepticism, the author became sold on personal coaching after volunteering as a practice client for a friend, and later pursuing training himself. He found coaching to be a powerful and empowering method for helping people achieve their goals, and he became passionate about applying coaching to relationships.



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Communication Map Audio Transcript

Welcome to 'The Communication Map', a one-page communication system for all relationships. I'm David Steele, founder of Relationship Coaching Institute.

The communication map is a tool that I developed in my practice with couples. I was searching for a strategy of how to help them with their communication in a way they could relate to, without jargon, that would help their functioning immediately, that they could learn in one session or less and then go home and actually use effectively and independently without my help. This was my criteria. that no other communication model could meet, so I experimented and tested until The Communication Map came together as you see it today.

My priority with couples is “functioning first.” The communication map doesn’t address feelings or the past. In my way of thinking, you must survive before you can thrive. Many couples get stuck in conflict around the big and little issues in their life together. Nobody likes arguing, which causes bad feelings, and many cope with conflict by avoiding it, which causes resentments and doesn’t help the relationship either. The communication map is a foundational system that provides you a structure for effectively addressing issues and problems in any relationship. You can then use other skills to address feelings, reasons and motivations, the past, and other aspects that might enhance the relationship beyond solving problems.

Since developing the communication map some years ago I’ve heard from many, many people that they like it, it’s easy to learn and use, and is universal enough to use in any relationship, including parent/child, manager/employee, friends, neighbors, and so on. People are amazed that they can go home and actually use it effectively right away, making their life together more functional and harmonious immediately. I hope this will be true for you as well.

Now take a look at the communication map. The front side is the actual map. It's the graphic of what happens in the communication and what to do about it when there is an

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p.2 issue. On the back of the communication map are my top five communication tips for

couples. The communication map can be used in all settings. I do call it a one-page communication system for all relationships. Even though these tips are for couples I’m sure you can apply them to other relationships as well.

The communication map comes into play when one person in a relationship experiences an issue or problem and needs to talk to the other person about it. Before you start communicating about an issue it’s very helpful to let your partner know what’s going on and ask if it’s a good time for them or make an appointment. For example “I have something important to discuss, is now a good time for you?” This gives the partner the time and opportunity to prepare themselves and clear their head to listen and be receptive. In addition to making sure it’s a good time to talk, it helps to go to a private space free from distractions. You must make sure the time and place is conducive to good communication, otherwise it won’t work from the start.

So let’s get started. In any communication there is a sender and a receiver. The communication map comes into play when the sender is experiencing an issue of some kind and needs to communicate about it. In my thinking, a problem or an issue in a relationship is about an unmet need. If it weren't a need, it wouldn't be an issue. Take a look at the rules of the road on the lower right side and you'll notice that this is number one, defining issues as unmet needs.

Number two, all issues are valid. If we assume this then we won’t argue with each other about the validity of the issue. It is not very nice to discount somebody's issues and say, "Oh come on now that's no big deal. What's your problem? Don’t be ridiculous" Don't allow someone to discount your issue. And don't discount their issue either, because all issues are valid, big and small. Just the fact that you experience an issue makes it valid, you don’t need to justify it or get agreement about whether it’s an issue or not.

Number three, who has the unmet need, owns the issue. This is what I call David Steele's Law of Relationship, and it goes two ways. For the sender it means that if you have an issue, it’s about you, you own it. It's yours. It belongs to you. There is no

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p.3 universal issue out there that if everybody experiences this one thing, everybody will

have an issue with it. Some people will. Some people won't. Needs and issues are subjective, not facts. They are your truth and not necessarily a truth that others share.

So if it's an issue for you, it's because you have the need and the need is unmet. It's not automatically an indictment that your partner is in the wrong. For example, if your partner comes home late and doesn’t call, in some relationships that might be a problem, in others it wouldn’t be a big deal. If you have a need to know what to expect it will be an issue for you if that need is unmet when your partner is late and didn’t call. The need is yours and the issue is yours. Your partner being late is simply a fact, it doesn’t make them right or wrong. It doesn’t make your issue less valid, it simply means you take an attitude of ownership.

Taking ownership of your needs and issues in a relationship is incredibly important because it empowers you to be responsible for your needs, and is much less likely to put your partner on the defensive because you’re not making them wrong or blaming them for your unmet need.

What this means for the receiver is that it’s not about you. It’s not your issue and your job is to let the sender have the issue and don’t try to take it away from them by having an issue with their issue. If you take their issue personally and make it about you then you’ll hit the wall. If you let them have their issue and support them to get their unmet need met you will be helping yourself as well because you want a happy relationship and happy partner.

Rule of the road number four is one issue at a time. This very important because when people communicate about issues and they talk about more than one at a time it often goes all over the place. They bring out everything and the kitchen sink; every resentment they’ve saved up, every little grievance.

If you want to have productive communication, if you want to resolve something between you two, you pretty much have to focus on one thing at a time.

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p.4 Number five rule of the road is to take turns. Take turns being the sender. One person

speaks at the time. This is basic playground behavior. Share and take turns. However, you notice that arguments happen because one person is not letting the other person speak, and so they feel like they have to talk louder to be heard. And then it goes back and forth. So take turns being the sender. I want to acknowledge that this is simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. When you’re hitting the wall it feels so urgent to have your partner listen to you that you have a hard time being present to them. This takes a heroically conscious effort, but it can be done.

Number six is speaking with moderation. If you're taking turns, then you don't need to yell to be heard. You can speak with moderation. Productive communication is about being calm, respectful and choosing your words carefully.

Number seven is listen with curiosity. This is an important attitude, to be curious about where your partner is coming from and not to prejudge them as wrong, or speculate that, "They really mean this.” Or “they’re just saying that because of that." Look at them through new eyes. Listen to them as if you're listening to them for the first time. Listen with curiosity. When you do I guarantee you’ll learn something new about your partner and your relationship will not only work better, it’ll be more passionate and fulfilling.

Think back on your patterns in listening to your partner. How often are you formulating in your mind what you’re going to say back to them while they’re talking? Sometimes we don't even give the other guy a chance to finish before we insert our opinions. This is human nature, it’s a bad habit, we all have this tendency and it takes a little effort to adopt an attitude of curiosity, but it’ll help you really be able to hear and listen effectively.

This is also part of taking turns. If your partner is the sender, then you need to be the receiver. You need to listen. We’ll cover later what being a receiver looks like in detail. If it's your turn to be the sender then you have a right to expect that your partner listen and receive you and if they are not playing that role you can request them to do so.

Number eight, under the rules of the road is to assume the win-win. Most of us understand this intellectually that we can negotiate. We can find a way that works for

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p.5 both of us. But what often happens unconsciously is that there is an assumption that if

you get your way then I'm going to lose and I'm not going to get my needs met.

There is oftentimes a scarcity mentality that drives people into conflict. They really don't trust that their needs will be met if their partner's needs are met at the same time. It's either or. I like to believe that it is both and. So assume the win-win. If you follow the structure of the communication map, that won't be a problem.

What I've found in working with couples is that structure is everything. When you have a structure to follow and you know what to do and what not to do then your communication and your relationship is far more productive. The communication map probably follows the 80/20 rule. About 80% of it is simply consciousness and understanding about what’s going on, and about 20% of it is actually what to do and what to say. It's actually fairly simple. The more complicated thing is being clear about how this works and what not to do.

The last of the rules of the road, number nine, is to nurture the space between. Here's a concept that oftentimes we forget about, and many couples don't even know about, which is that a relationship is more than just two people. There is a space between you where this relationship lives. This is where your children live, and everyone else that comes into contact with the two of you. There's an emotional atmosphere between you two and it needs to be clean in order to be fulfilled and happy. If you have unresolved conflict, if your communication is not clean and effective, if there are resentments and disappointments and unresolved issues between you two, that is going to pollute the space between you two and everyone, including you, will feel it. So the space between is the relationship.. We want to nurture that space; we want to treat it as sacred. It's not just about the partner and it's not just about you, it's the combination of the both of you that you are both 100% responsible for. Not 50/50, each partner is 100% responsible for what happens in the space between.

So those are the nine rules of the road.
Let’s go back to the sender and the receiver, the sender is the one with the issue and

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p.6 has a certain process they need to follow and we're going to cover what that is in a

moment. But first, let's talk about the role of the receiver. Look on the upper left side of the communication map. Eighty percent of being a good receiver is the attitude. It's being curious about what's going on for your partner. It's realizing that, hey, it's not about me! My partner who I love or who I care about has an issue, they have an unmet need. It's not necessarily my fault although I might have contributed to it, but their unmet need, their issue is not really about me. It lives inside them, its origin is with them, so I need to be compassionate, support them and listen to what's going on for them. The best role for the receiver is to be a coach, to ask questions about what's going on for the sender and to mirror back what you're hearing.

Let's take the example where one partner comes home from work, they’re late and they didn't call. They usually come home at 5:00 and this evening they're home at 7:00. No call, dinner is cold and the partner that has been waiting is upset and they’ve been worried. What might typically happen in this situation is the sender, when the receiver finally gets home, might say, "Where have you been? I've been so worried. You are late and you didn't call and I'm really upset and you know what? You are just a jerk and you're inconsiderate and I can't believe you didn't call me. You always call, why didn't you call this time? Dinner's cold and it's all your fault." That might be a little exaggerated but in a lot of relationships that I've seen that's not so far off the mark.

In that situation what choice does the receiver have? They've got to defend themselves because they're feeling attacked. What really happened here is that the sender experienced an issue because their partner was late and they hit the wall. The wall, as you can see on the right hand side of the communication map, is one of four things. It's judgment, interpretation, defensiveness or reactive emotion.

Judgment means right or wrong, good or bad. You are wrong and bad for being late. Interpretation is speculation or making meaning, creating stories around you being late or why you're late. That you are inconsiderate for being late and you must have something to hide otherwise you would have called to let me know that you were going to be late but you're feeling guilty about something so that's why you didn't call. Interpretation is about stories and making meanings.

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Defensiveness if the other side of judgment and what happens when you're feeling attacked. It's a self-protective knee jerk. It would be understandable and common for the receiver in this situation to hit the wall by being defensive and say, "What do you mean? It's only two hours. Dinner's not cold yet. OK, this was just one time but my cell phone died. Give me a break."

Reactive emotion is when you feel an emotion like anger or fear or anxiety or shame. I like to characterize the primary emotions and as mad, sad, glad, fear, shame. All other emotions tend to be variations of those five primary emotions. When you’re experiencing an emotion your nervous system is stimulated into fight or flight mode and it’s much harder to communicate productively, it's becomes about how you feel. Then you've hit the wall, which is solid, and you’re not going anywhere. It’s a dead end. Hitting the wall disrupts the connection between the two of you and the issue and unmet need cannot be addressed until you back up and start over.

Hopefully the concept of the wall will help you understand what's going on, like, "Oh, OK. I'm in judgment right now, " or "I'm wrapped up in my interpretation of why you're doing this, " or "I'm feeling defensive right now, " or "I'm in a reactive emotion right now." Once you’re conscious enough to realize that you're up against the wall you can give yourself a moment to back up and get back on track.

So, what does that mean to get back on track? Let’s talk about the sender. If you're a sender and you're experiencing an issue the very first thing that needs to happen is for you to identify and communicate what that issue is. There’s a difference between experiencing something and being clear what it is you’re experiencing. I’ll say that again because it’s important- There’s a difference between experiencing something and being clear what it is you’re experiencing . Often, you initially have a physical reaction, an internal experience in your gut, a feeling of discomfort accompanied by all sorts of thoughts and judgments, and while your discomfort is clear to you, you’re not necessarily clear exactly what the problem is. If you're upset and you try to talk about the problem when you’re not clear about it, it's not going to come out very pretty. In this

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p.8 case you're upset that your partner is late and you just ranted at them so you need to

back up from the wall and identify specifically what your issue is and communicate it clearly to your partner.

What I've found in this situation is there are two kinds of people. There are the talkers and the thinkers. The talkers need to talk about it. They pretty much think out loud. They need to talk it out with their partner to get clear about what's going on for them, express what's going on for them so that they can clearly formulate their issue. The thinkers need to think about it first. They need to internally process it so they can form the words and meanings and communicate that to their partner.

With the thinkers if you try to get them to talk too soon and they're not ready it's not going to come out very pretty, so don't push them. With the talkers if you don't let them talk it out first, if you expect that what they say is going to be clear at the very outset, then you're in trouble. So you pretty much need to understand whether you're a talker or a thinker and whether your partner is a talker or a thinker so you know what their needs are.

It's funny how oftentimes couples will have one talker and one thinker. It's like we seek each other out for a complementary relationship, but processing things differently can be challenging in a relationship. Talkers tend to judge the thinkers as too aloof and withdrawn, and thinkers tend to judge the talkers as too chatty and indirect, they just want the bottom line. If you’re the talker and your partner has an issue, it's going to be hard for you to just let the thinker think, because you need to talk about it. If you're the thinker it's going to be hard for you to let your partner just talk about it because you need to process things internally and you automatically project that that's what they should do. And you wish that they would just be quiet and think about it first and then come to you when they have it all thought out and reasonable, but that's not the way it happens.

In working with couples, typically they almost always know what they are. If you ask somebody, "Are you a talker or a thinker?" they'll almost always be able to say what

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p.9 they are. If they don't it's very easy, just ask their partner. Your partner almost always

knows which one you are. It’s amazing to me how often the thinkers are the men and the talkers are the women. Pretty stereotypical, but true in my experience.

So in identifying the issue and being able to communicate it clearly the talkers need to talk about it and the receiver just needs to listen, let them talk, let them get it out and you see that the attitude under the Receiver on the communication map is, "Help me to understand your issue." You might have a prejudged idea of what the issue might be. In this instance the example is clear. "I was late and I didn't call." That's pretty clear.

But is it clear? Is it really about that? When you prejudge and you assume where your partner is coming from you don't give them the room to be where they're really coming from and express what they're really thinking and feeling. We have to hold off our tendency to prejudge and presume and really have an open mind, listen and support compassionately, ask some questions and mirror back what we're getting. The attitude is, "Help me to understand your issue." We need to support our partner in identifying and communicating the issue clearly and specifically, even if we think we know what it is. The solution becomes clear when the issue is clear. If you try to solve something when you’re not crystal clear about the problem, the solution won’t work. This is especially hard for men. When you’re a guy, you feel bad if your partner is unhappy and want to fix it. We want to be the hero and jump in and save the day. We need to work really hard to be patient, not take it personally, let our partner own the issue, support them in communicating it to us, and offer ideas and solutions only if requested.

So let’s say you’re trying to support your partner in this situation. You could say “I’m sorry I’m late and didn’t call dear, but help me understand, what specifically is your issue with that?” You don’t assume, unless your partner clearly say so, that being late and not calling is the issue.

So let’s say the senders response is “you're late, it's 7:00, you usually come home at 5:00 and usually call if you’re late and you didn’t call this time ." Notice those are facts. Facts are typically inarguable measureable events, but in themselves they don’t identify an issue. As we mentioned before, what might be an issue for one person would be no

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p.10 problem at all for another. It’s an excellent communication strategy to start with the

facts, so you can mirror that and say- "Yes, it's 7:00, I usually come home at 5:00 and I didn't call." And then follow up with an attitude of curiosity by asking “What about my being late is a problem for you?”

In this situation the sender might elaborate by saying "I was worried and I was anxious and I didn't know why you didn't call." The receiver might be listening to that and mirror,. "OK, so it's 7:00 and I'm late and I didn't call and you were worried. Is that what your issue is?" It’s easy to assume, but at this point maybe it is and maybe it isn't what you think it is. You’re at step 3 in the communication map and working on step four, seeking confirmation from the sender, that nod of the head and positive “yes!” “that’s my issue!” so that you can reflect it back and validate their issue.

In this case the sender might say, "Well you know what? It's not so much about you being late. It's just that I cooked this wonderful dinner and it cost a lot of money and now it's cold and I think that's what I'm most upset about." So the receiver might be surprised that what they thought was the issue is not really the issue. It's up to the sender to communicate the issue. It's up to the receiver to help the sender communicate what it's really about. So the receiver might mirror that back. "Oh, OK. You're saying what you're really upset about is you spent all this money on this great meal and now it's cold and you're disappointed and you're upset about that." And the sender might respond, "Yes." Then you know you have agreement, you have confirmation, and you have validation of what the issue is. It started off being, "You're late you jerk, you're so inconsiderate, " and now it's, "Well I'm just really upset because I made this special meal and now it’s cold and I’m hungry and I wish you would have called so I could have held it off for us to enjoy together"

Being clear about the issue for yourself is the first hurdle, then you need to make sure your partner understands, you need to get and give validation about what exactly is the issue, then you can focus on how to meet the unmet need. This might sound obvious, but many couples skip this step and don’t mirror or reflect their understanding at all, they just assume each knows what they other means. So getting and giving confirmation means that the receiver reflects back their understanding of the issue to

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p.11 the satisfaction of the sender- “Yes, you’ve got it.” And, if the receiver isn’t mirroring, the

sender can ask “Now what’s your understanding of my issue here?”

Once the issue is clear to both partners, the next step is for the sender to make a request. As tempting as it might be for the receiver to fix it or offer solutions, only the sender really knows what would meet their unmet need and they need to ask for what they want, so the receiver’s role is to support the sender to make a request. If you’re too quick to give advice you don’t give the sender the opportunity to take responsibility and make a request. In my mind, requesting is the most important communication skill there is. We all have issues, we all have unmet needs, we all have things we want in a relationship for it to work for us and if we don't make a request what are we going to do? The alternatives to requesting are not very pretty, like complaining, demanding, threatening, coercion, criticizing, entitlement or mind reading.

Complaining would be “You’re late and now the expensive dinner that spent hours preparing is ruined.” Demanding: "You need to call if you're going to be late!" Or threatening: "If you're late next time and you don't call I'm going to..." Or criticizing: "What's the matter with you that you don't call if you're late? You’re so inconsiderate!" Or coercing: "You better call next time or else you're going to sleep on the couch!" Entitlement would be “I’m your wife and I worked hard to cook for you and I deserve a call if you’re going to be late!” Or mind reading: "You should know that I need you to call if you're going to be late!" All of these strategies focus on the negative don't work very well. Requesting is the only productive option that focuses on the positive of what you need to make things work.

So after the issue and unmet need is identified in Step 4 of the communication map,

step 5 is for the sender to make a request that will meet their unmet need, and the

receiver to support them to do so. Sometimes the sender gets so absorbed in getting

the issue off their chest, they feel so good talking about it that they have a hard time

moving forward. While a good receiver will let the sender fully express themselves, if it

goes on too long or becomes repetitive the receiver can support the sender to make a

request by asking “Do you have a request about that? How can I support you to get

your need met in this situation?” The interesting thing about a need is that there are

many, many ways to meet it. You can make a request but it's a good idea to let go of

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p.12 the outcome, to let go of the how. Since there's many ways to meet a need all that

matters is that the need is met, not how it's met. So you can come up with a way that works for both of you that meets your need

Oftentimes couples get stuck here because they get attached to a particular outcome, a particular way of getting their needs met. "I want you to call me by 4:50 if you're going to be late." Well that might not always be possible. What matters is that you get your need met, not exactly how it's met. . It’s also possible that after becoming clear about their issue the sender decides they don’t need anything different from the receiver. In this situation, for example, the sender might say “You know honey, I just realized that I did this to myself. I know you often have late meetings in the middle of the week and I probably shouldn’t have gone all out like that tonight. I was in such a good mood today and looking forward to seeing you tonight, and I got all excited to see your favorite dinner on sale today and wanted to cook you a special meal. I should have put it in the freezer until the weekend.”

There are two possible responses to a request. One is “Yep, no problem, I can do that.” The other is “Well, I’d like to, but that won’t work for me because of this, so how about this?” Either an unqualified “yes” or to propose something that might work better for the receiver that would meet the need of the sender, which is negotiation.

When making a request, in my experience, and I've done this hundreds of times with couples now, I'd estimate about 75% of the time the thing that you first ask for, your first request, won't work, about 75% of the time! The odds are that the first thing you ask for is not going to be the win/win, is not going to be what works best and most effectively for both of you. So you'll need to go to the next step, step six in the communication map which is negotiating.

I make a distinction between negotiation and compromise. Compromise is where two people give up part of what works for them or what they need to meet somewhere in the middle. Negotiation is a win/win. Negotiation is when both people are 100% happy; they

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p.13 don't feel like they're giving up anything. It's worth the time and effort to negotiate, to

discuss it, to brainstorm, to come up with an option that truly works for both parties. Oftentimes that option won't be apparent to you right away. Oftentimes couples will focus on either/or. "We're either going to solve it my way or your way." And they get dug in.

What I'd like to suggest is that there is a third option out there somewhere. Something that is going to be a unique reflection of both of you and it doesn't always appear right away. It's worth brainstorming and being creative. Ask friends and families for ideas; do some research on the Internet. Let it sit for a while. If you have an unsolvable problem, or something that seems unsolvable, just know that there's probably a creative solution out there someplace, you just have to find it. It's worth it because if you come up with an agreement that doesn't really work for one of the parties, it's not going to stick.

You want to come up with something that really truly does work for both parties so it does stick and if you don't know what it is right away don't worry about it. There's a saying I like, "You don't know what you don't know." Be patient with yourself, be patient with the process. This is not an emergency. In fact, in all my years of working with couples I have yet to see a relationship emergency where 911 should be called. But it feels urgent. We want to solve it right now, we are feeling bad right now, and we are attached to an idea right now.

But if in this process, the answer doesn't readily appear to you, and then be patient and agree on a plan for how you’re going to find the solution together. You don't know what you don't know. Talk about it, think about it, get some ideas from family and friends about it, brainstorm, and be patient with the process. Hopefully you're not going anywhere. Hopefully you'll find a way to solve this eventually. “Well, you see the reason I'm late is because I was in a meeting and I couldn't call you because I was in a meeting. When I got out of the meeting, you know, we only live five minutes away so it was going to take as much time to call you as it would just to drive home. So, I don't know what to do!"

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OK well if you don't know what to do, talk about it, brainstorm some options and between the two of you a third option will eventually appear if you’re open-minded and looking for it. In this example it wasn't really about being late. It was about needing some advance warning to hold off an expensive wonderful dinner that the sender was preparing. So then you could brainstorm that. In this situation you could come up with the idea of text messaging, which wouldn’t interfere with the meeting. Most cell phones even have pre-saved messages that say “running late” or “in a meeting,” which can be sent quickly, easily, and unobtrusively in a few seconds.

The receiver's role in negotiating is to help the sender identify a solution that meets their need that the receiver is able to do. Realize that it's not about you, be curious, listening and supporting compassionately by mirroring back and really wanting to understand what the sender's issue is, and maybe coaching by asking, 'do you have a request?" "what is it that you need from me?" ' Helping the sender communicate what it is they need that would resolve the issue for them.

One last thing for the receiver about requesting and negotiation: if your partner makes a request of you, my suggestion is never say no. I like to think of this as being positive. Instead of shooting down what doesn't work for you, counter-propose something that would work for you.

It doesn’t feel good to hear the word no. "Nope, sorry, can't do that ". It is much more productive and loving to say, "Well honey, you know I'd really like to do that, I'm not sure I can do it that way, how about this?"

So counter-propose something that you can do that would meet their needs. When I talk to couples about this I suggest that they do this in all areas of their lives, and that they even make a pact with each other. I've had couples when I suggest this, look at each other, shake hands and say "Yes! We agree! Never say no!"

For example if someone is in the mood for sex and the other one is not, instead of

saying no and rejecting, then that partner can counter-propose. "Well, how about in the

morning?" So it's a very positive way of being in a relationship is being safe and trusting

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p.15 that your partner will receive you, and listen to you, and be positively respondent to you

when you have a request or a need or an issue and that they won't say no to you. So I highly recommend making that pact and having that attitude. It with everyone, especially your kids. If your 5 year old sees a television commercial and then says Mommy, mommy, can we go to disneyland tomorrow?” You could say “No, you have school tomorrow.” Or, you can say, “disneyland would be a lot of fun. You know what? We’re going to disneyland this summer!” Instead of saying No and what you can’t do and why you can’t do it, I suggest to respond with what you can do, when, where and how.

And so in step 6 you negotiate, then in step 7 you agree on a solution that works, truly works for both of you that meets the need of the sender that the receiver gladly is able to do. Then the final step, step 8 in the communication map is to follow through. And that's how you know it's a plan that works. That's how you know it's a commitment that will stick. I make a distinction between a commitment and a promise. A promise is when you make an agreement that you intend to keep, and a commitment is where you actually show up and do it. A promise is a verbal statement of intent, a kind of internal commitment that you fully intend to keep, and a commitment involves action. You might with all good intentions make a promise, and yet not keep it for a variety of reasons. Assuming sincere positive intent of both parties, I propose that if you weren't able to keep the agreement, it's probably not your fault: it's because it was not a good agreement. The definition of a good agreement in step 7 is one that you can keep that works for both of you, which you sometimes won’t know until you give it a try in step 8.

A good agreement is one that you can keep, that you want to keep, because it's doable for you, and you care about your partner, and you want them to be happy. If the follow through doesn’t happen the issue will repeat itself, and you go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan that works for both of you that you can do.

So it's important in this process to forgive each other for being human, to be patient with each other and the process, for the receiver to learn how to listen and learn how to not take it personally. For the sender to learn how to be clear about what's going on for them, and to recognize when they're hitting the wall, and to bounce back from that, and

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p.16 get back on track. There is no such thing as perfection, so don’t be hard on yourself or

your partner. What matters is your positive intent and applying the communication map as best you can. Just by understanding this process and practicing these steps over time you’ll find yourself bouncing back from the wall sooner and sooner, until the day comes that you rarely, if ever, hit the wall.

However, some couples have hard-to-solve or unsolvable problems that require professional intervention, so if the communication map process isn’t working for you with your best effort, it may be time to get some help.

So as you can see, the communiction map is pretty simple. It provides structure and makes something very intangible, words and hot air going back and forth, and makes it tangible and clear. If you’re the one with the issue or problem, you’re the sender, and your goal is to identify and communicate your issue clearly and make a request about it. Issue/request, issue/request, issue/request. If you’re the receiver your job is to not take the sender’s issue personally and support them to identify what it is and make a request about it. For most functional couples with basic communication skills, enough emotional maturity to manage their emotional reactivity and bounce back from the wall, this is all that’s needed to effectively address issues big and small and prevent unproductive conflict so you can enjoy your life together and grow your love, trust, connection and intimacy. I suggest putting the communication map in a visible spot in your home or office so that you can refer to it on the spur of the moment to remind you how to respond to a potentially conflictual situation. Keep it handy and when you're experiencing an issue or your partner is, just grab it and put it in front of you, follow the structure and within a few short minutes you'll be back in connection. You have a choice in how to handle an issue, and as long as you have a choice you might as well choose what works and not repeat the unproductive pattern over and over again because behavior does follow patterns. Nothing ever happens just once. So, once you make this choice, and you do that over and over again, you'll develop the skill of being able to restore connection anytime you need to, and that is how to have a successful relationship.

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So now I’d like you to turn over the communication map and take a look at my

'Top Five Communication Tips' for couples

First, there are three magic words when you're listening to somebody. Usually we want to insert what we think, but if you're listening with curiosity you'll say, "Is there more?" And what is so surprising when somebody says that to you is, you usually say, "Well, yeah there is!" It's so contrary to what we usually do, as our partner will say something, and then you want to say back what's on our mind about that. And it is far more effective just to listen, take it in, and help your partner say even more about what's going on for them. Kind of like peeling away the layers of the onion, and until it's all out, and then respond to it. If you care about your partner and want a great relationship with them, you’ll be a good listener and invite them to share all they need to with you by asking them “Is there more?”

And if you're wondering what the three magic words of speaking might be, I suggest, "I love you." Because when you're upset at your partner and you have some feelings and some thoughts that aren't very pretty, and it's always helpful to be in touch with and communicate, "Yeah, you know you're my partner and I love you, but I'm really pissed at you right now."

And then Tip #2 is to realize, "It's not about you." And we covered this earlier in talking about the Communication Map. If you're partner is experiencing an issue, it's their issue, they own it. It's not about you, don't take it personally. And that actually makes it easier to be the receiver, if you're not taking it personally. It's like, "OK, I love you, I want you to be happy. So, tell me what's on your mind and we'll see how we can resolve this." And when we take it personally, get defensive and make it about us, we're not able to do that

Tip number 3 is "It's all about you." When we're upset about something it’s human nature to direct our attention to the person who stimulated it for us as if it's their fault that we're upset. But, the truth is in the same situation there are some people who would be upset about that, and others who wouldn't." So, the reason we're upset is about us, not really the situation or behavior. I like the idea of the 90/10 formula... if you’re upset about something, 90 percent of the emotional energy is related to the past, and only 10 percent is in the present.

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Another paradigm that I like is, facts, judgments, and feelings, and to be able to be clear and separate them out. In our example, the facts are that you're late, you usually come home at 5:00 and now it's 7:00 and you didn’t call. And then the judgments are opinions and interpretations like you're wrong, and you're bad, and you're inconsiderate, and you're a jerk, and you shouldn't do that. The feelings are anger, anxiety, fear, abandonment. When we confuse them and when we bundle them all up, and we just communicate them in a diatribe, "You're late, it's 7:00 and you didn't call, dinner is ruined and that's the most inconsiderate thing that I've ever experienced in my life, and on and on. Our communication doesn't work very well when we simply react.

Being conscious and separating the facts from the judgments and the feelings allows us to have more choice in how we respond to the situation and avoid hitting the wall.

#4 of my Top five Communication Tips for Couples is to, "Turn complaints into requests." And we talked about requesting being the most important communication skill there is. We have many, many, many needs. It is impossible that they're all going to be met all the time. So, when you have an unmet need and you experience an issue, we need to be able to make a request about that, respectfully, in connection with our partner that will create a win-win, that does not make our partner wrong and bad. And it’s important that we approach this in a positive and productive manner, by requesting instead of complaining, or expecting mind-reading, or coercing, or criticizing, or threatening, entitlement or demanding.

Communication tip #5 is "Telling your truth." The rules of the road of the communication map are so important that it creates the kind of safety that you need to be able to tell your truth, which is really being authentic with your partner about your thoughts, your feelings, your needs, your wants, all of that. And my experience in working with couples is that it's often scary for them, it’s a big risk to say what you’re really thinking, feeling, wanting and needing. However, intimacy requires telling your truth. Intimacy means, "In to me I see." So, when we're inviting someone to be intimate with us, we're inviting them to see inside us, what our world is like, and we want to be respect and loved for who we really are.

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p.19 Intimacy is what real connection and love is all about. And we can't do that if we're not

telling each other the truth. And the main reason why people don't tell the truth to each other, is that they fear conflict, that they don't want to hurt their partner, that they don't want to have an argument with their partner. They want everything to be OK, and they fear that if they tell the truth, that it's not going to be OK.

If you use the Communication Map, then you will have a structure that allows you to express any issue, and get your need met, it doesn't have to be an argument, it doesn't have to be a conflict, and it doesn't have to feel bad. So, go ahead and practice telling your truth, even if it's scary. Because that's where true connection, and intimacy comes from.

I hope you will take the Communication Map, and use it in all your relationships, especially your intimate relationships, so that from now on you'll always have a way to reconnect with your partner when there is an unmet need and an issue, simple, effective, and practical.

Remember that I started off saying that the communication map is foundational, this is about functioning first, we need to survive before we can thrive, and then you can build on this with more advanced communication techniques I hope the Communication Map will help you survive in your relationship and help you get your needs met, and help your communication be functional, so that you can thrive and be happy, and loving, and experience fulfillment. Thank you for listening.

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