Are you a connection blocker? (Part 2)

I know you had a sigh of relief, when you read Connection Blockers – Part 1, and realized your action hadn’t created a wedge between you and your partner! From my last post, a connection blocker is someone who doesn’t really want to know and understand their partner.

Here are the final 7 connection blockers. Which one are you?

  1. You use shutdown statements and behaviors. – When you are mad or hurt, these statements bring communication to a halt.
    • Fine” or “Everything’s fine” (when it’s not fine).
    • “Doesn’t matter or Whatever
    • Give your partner the silent treatment.
  2. You shift the blame. – It’s your basic cause and effect argument. When your partners feelings are hurt, you react by saying it’s because of them. By choosing to use a counterattack on your partner shuts down any chance at connection.
  3. You use Sarcasm – Not only does it shut down the connection..It hurts.
  4. You use “You Always or “You Never” – these statements are general statements, but are not usually based on reality. Phrases like “You never listen to me” or “You always cut me off ” cause your partner to be confused. These statements tend help describe a feeling, but not the problem.
  5. You jump to your own experiences and don’t validate your partner’s issue. –  Instead of just listening to your partner’s issues, you try to minimize the damage by bringing up your own. This connection blocker hangs your partner out to dry.
  6. You try to fix it. – Sometimes just listening is the fix.
  7. You use the “I’m just no good” statement. – this will cut off any chance at connecting with your partner. By playing the victim, your partner will almost always save you from your victim stance otherwise they admit to themselves they made a bad choice. Therefore, they negate their unresolved feelings.

Now that you understand connection blockers, look out for them. If you see they exist, it’s ok. Work with your partner to identify when either of you use these blockers so you can remove them and deepen your relationship.

Coach Keith


Maintaining your Relationship is a lot like selling your house!

PG and I and the rest of the fam are trying to move. Our quaint, two-bedroom house in Northern NJ has become quite small for our family of 5 plus a dog and several tropical fish. We were ready to take the leap in 2008, but it was a blessing we stayed put. It was right before the financial crisis and it might have altered our lives forever.

Another reason we hadn’t lef is because all the work you have to put in to get a house ready to sell. It’s a lot like maintaining a healthy marriage.

Step #1 – Look for all the trouble spots.

When you decide you are going to allow other people to view your home, you must determine the little things that might deter a person from buying it. A broken light fixture, or bad lighting just might be the difference from someone liking your house. Your relationship is the same way. If you don’t step back and think about your appearance and how you present yourself to your spouse and communicate it may hold them back from experiencing true intimacy.


Step #2 – If you are committed, put the work in.

Put the work in and spruce it up. You can do simple things like changing the bedding, getting new curtains, and shower accessories to give your house a fresh new look. Relationships are no different. Sometimes you have to switch things up, in order to make it fresh. Things like going on a adventure, or to a different restaurant may go a long way to help foster a stronger relationship.

Step #3 – If things are really bad, bring in the contractor.

Sometimes the simple things aren’t enough, there are changes that need to be made that you can’t do by yourself. If you are still trying to maintain your daily routine of running a family and working, you can’t always take a step back and do the work necessary to make those changes. We needed a contractor. Relationships are no different. Relationships can be so bad, you may have to bring in a coach to strip away the bitterness, apathy and heartache that’s causing this relationship to not be at it’s best.  He/she can help you put on a fresh coat of love, affection, communication and understanding toward your partner.


Step #4 – Maintenance, Maintenance and more Maintenance!

This is the hardest job of all. You never know when someone is going to want to see your house. So every morning your house has to look presentable. In relationships, you have to constantly check in with your partner and not take things for granted. I know stepping out of your comfort zone to get an assessment of your marriage can be a little unsettling. Don’t be afraid! You never know when something unexpected happens to change the course of your relationship. By having a strong bond with one another, you can weather those unforeseen circumstances.

Step #5 – Stay positive! It only takes one!

Despite all the progress and the work we have put in, it may take awhile to get an offer. We plan to stay positive and you should too. Your relationship may also progress slowly. Stay encouraged. As long as you are following the steps, the changes will come and your relationship will be stronger than ever before.

Strivers! Make it a great week.

I will keep you posted on the house.

Coach Keith

Enjoy your marriage now! You may have only a 20 year window.

It’s no secret that we as Americans are getting married later in life or not at all. Ten years ago according to the U.S. Census Bureau..the average age for first marriage for males to females was 26.1 to 23.9 respectively. Today the age is 28.1 to 26.2.

There many factors that have pushed the age higher. Individual economic stability is primarily the main cause for the age to increase, plus the opportunity to meet more people have also reduced the trend to marry later in life.

Either way, if you do find your “soul-mate” you should consider yourself blessed.

Once you do find your soul-mate, you should do the little things to make sure you keep them. Why? Divorce!

According to a New York Times, more Americans in their 50’s and beyond are sacrificing comfort for freedom. About half of us will be calling Judge Toler of the ‘Divorce Court for greener pastures.


I have a real problem with this! What happened to fighting for the love and companionship during good times and bad?

People change., situations change..I get that. If you make a few adjustments you can have a marriage that can thrive and be long-lasting.

Make companionship a priority – which means that as a couple you should explore new challenges. In any relationship if you continue to do the same things that can get boring.

Make a point to allow you spouse to have alone time. When our spouse says, “I need to some time alone!” We tend to get nervous because that can signify there is a problem. When we get to retirement age, we have usually lost a little bit of individuality because we are no longer forging relationships outside of our homes. Try and circumvent that by finding something that you enjoy doing outside of your marriage. It can not only boost your communication time with your spouse, but also your energy because you are following a passion.

Continue to Communicate – constant chatter is still important. If you are having issues or about it. If you have let things fester for years, it’s about time you share them, instead of biding your time to leave.

In the New York Times article cited above, Katie Dunn mentionee, “When I think about the future, sometimes it’s with trepidation,” she said. “But this is the life I’ve got. It’s up to me to make it what I want.”

That is understandable..just why can’t we say the same thing about marriage?

Coach Keith

Strive 2 Succeed’s Favorite Things – The Gift of Protection

When you get married, you become comfortable. For some of us, too comfortable and we let our guard down. So when attacks come, you often wonder how did this happen to me? You didn’t exchange the ‘Gift of Protection’ with your spouse. This is essential if you want to maintain a healthy successful marriage.

What are 5 bows are needed to wrap around our ‘Gift of Protection’

Emotional Integrity

This is a very delicate subject, since in general woman are known to be emotional, and men tend to be emotionless. In reality a women wants a man with emotional depth, but she herself may not be at the level. The main reason, the relationship is based on fear. According to Don Miguel Ruiz. author of The Mastery of Love, he states, “When we are in a fear-based relationship or marriage it’s full of obligations. In the track of fear, whatever we do is because we have to do it, and we expect other people to do something because they have to do it. We have the obligation, and as soon we have to, we resist it. The more resistance we have, the more we suffer. He later goes on to say..”in a relationship there are two halves..your half and your spouse’s half. Of those halves, you are only responsible for your half; you are not responsible for the other half. So in essence, master the half you can control, and not the half you can’t.”

Escalating Conflict

You must agree how you will talk to your spouse when the storm of conflict arrives. Reduce the f-bombs when possible. Determine where and what time of day you will work out your conflicts. Seek a win-win solution by using such techniques as pro vs. con lists or 1-10 importance values. We use them in the boardroom, why not the bedroom?


When we think of protection, infidelity immediately is the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s usually other factors that cause infidelity to occur. Here are some things that you can do to minimize steppin’ out.

  • Make a commitment to grow in your marriage (inside and out).
  • Use positive talk to help aid the choices you make. Utilize a daily poem, a song, or prayer that helps you focus on importance of your marriage.
  • Talk to your spouse about what actions are off-limits and make a pont not to get close to it. If you have ever been on a subway, or train, there is a big yellow line that says, “Please don’t cross.” (I guess Herman Cain never took the subway!)
  • Find someone with integrity that will hold you accountable.


This can be challenging especially for all the obligations you have to give to the kids, the job etc…Neglecting this protection mechanism can easily lead to the one I just mentioned.

Tip: Find at least 3 activities that the both of you enjoy doing and make a point to engage in at least one of them a week.

Friends and Family

Friends and family can implode your marriage from the inside-out if you don’t quickly respond to threats. Friends and family at times are very selfish and can impede upon your boundaries. Don’t let them under any circumstances derail your marriage with negative talk  or disrespectful actions toward your spouse.

If you give the “Gift of Protection’ to your spouse with these wonderfully wrapped bows on them, you will have a wonderful marriage filled with joy and peace.

Coach Keith

Relationship Gratitude Day 15 (Thank you for taking out the trash!)

We have reached the half-way point of Relationship Gratitude Challenge. I hope that you have been able to laugh, cry, smile and enjoy your relationship up to this point. I hope most of all that things have improved between you and your partner.

If you are newlywed, or you have been married a long time. You have been through some stuff. Or maybe there was one moment that changed everything.

As part of Relationship Gratitude Day 15 lets remember those bad times, the frustrations, failures, and losses. Write them down, share them with your partner then throw it away. This is one note that you don’t want to keep.





In relationships we tend to hold onto the negative forever and it keeps us from moving forward together.

Notice how much better things are now. Focus on resiliency and renewal.


What will you throw out to save your Marriage? (M.M.M.)

Early in our marriage, I told my wife, P.G. that I wouldn’t be rich. I know she must have thought I was joking. I had graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in marketing, and was on my way to a Master’s in Nonprofit Management.  The world was my oyster, well our oyster. But my passion was towards helping people whether it be teens, or couples. What she didn’t realize, I was also helping our marriage too.

A new study by scholars at Brigham Young University looked at more than 1,700 married couples across the U.S. to determine how their attitudes toward money affected their marriages.

Each couple completed a questionnaire which evaluated their relationship and asked, among other things, how much they value “having money and lots of things.” The study, which was just published in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, found that couples who say money is not important to them score about 10% to 15% better on measures of relationship quality, such as marriage stability, than those couples where both or one spouse are materialistic.

In a somewhat surprising twist, the researchers found that those couples in which both partners said they valued lots of money—about 20% of the couples in the study—fared worse than those couples who were mismatched and just had one materialist in the marriage.

“Couples where both spouses are materialistic were worse off on nearly every measure we looked at,” said Jason Carroll, a BYU professor of family life and lead author of the study.  “There is a pervasive pattern in the data of eroding communication, poor conflict resolution and low responsiveness to each other.”

I may not have riches, but what I do have Luther states so eloquently. A good marriage.

I want to be the one that you just can’t live without
I want to be the one
that you never feel no doubt
I want to be the one that you let give you the lovin’
But, I have nothing

I want to be
the one that you always want to be near
I want to say the words that your
body and soul need to hear
I want to be the one that you let give you all the
But I have nothing

So Strivers..What will you throw out to Save your Marriage?

How toxic thinking seeps into your Marriage.

Last week as I was traveling home from an appointment, I decided to e-mail my friends to see how their marriage was going. After a few texts back and forth, I had to call her on the phone, since I was in the car. As soon as she picked up, she asked me this question, “What if I just divorced my husband and we stayed together?” It through me for a loop a bit, but I responded. “How would that help.”  She replied, “Everything was great until we got married.”

I am sure at some point their marriage was good, but what had now changed was their thoughts about marriage. They were different. They had become toxic.

According to Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D, and Susan Magee authors of Why Can’t You Read My Mind, toxic thinking  is negative thinking that have lost their basis in reality and have gotten out of control, causing you to lose your perspective. Toxic thinking is the extreme version of negative thinking. Good example of this is instead of saying I don’t like how I look which is more negative thinking, your thoughts are twisted, distorted highly negative like I’m ugly, No one finds me attractive, or I’ll always be fat.

So how does a marriage/relationship become toxic? First our society in general creates a toxic environment. When you watch the news, what do you see. They focus their article on being in the 40 to 50 percent range. This automatically can lend to toxic thinking because you can quickly internalize your marriage is doomed for failure, especially if you compare yourself to your neighbor whom you feel have an awesome marriage. The news could easily stress a 50% success rate in marriage, but they don’t.

Secondly, toxic thinking derails genuine communication. If you have toxic thoughts toward your marriage your communication will be based on those thoughts. Your whole communication approach which includes verbal and non-verbal communication will not reflect the way you want it to be, it will reflect the toxic thoughts that are at the surface.

Thirdly, toxic thinking creates a relationship Three-D effect, distraction, distance and disconnection. You become distracted because toxic thinking keeps you from focusing on the real issues at hand. You might consider your spouse and All or Nothing spouse, whereby everything they do is negative. This can create a huge distraction because you focus your entire energy on their behavior and not the issues. Your distractions will lend itself to frustration and will increase distance between one another.

To avoid dealing with these thoughts on a daily basis, we will do things to create a distance, work longer hours, join more social groups, or spend more hours on facebook just to give our brain and our toxic thoughts a break.

The problem with this according to Bernstein is when distance starts settling in, partners usually either lash out with more toxic talk or shut down into toxic silence. This is what happened to the spouse of my friend. In the e-mail message he sent me he stated “I don’t know..We just aren’t on the same page at all. Her and I need to start from scratch because we don’t even know what each other wants.” In essence, no matter what I say or doesn’t help.

If you stay distant long enough it can lead to disconnection. This is the most dangerous stage because it keep you from acknowledging and understanding your spouse’s point of view and vice-versa. At this point someone has to wave the white flag and seek coaching/counseling otherwise the next steps may lead to being part of the statistic they report on the news.

If..Then Statement for Marriage

Mexico is considering changing the civil code that allows couples to opt-out of Marriage after two years. Due to the climate their most marriages tend to end in divorce after two years and would make it easier to dissolve the relationship.

It’s radical and a little crazy because can you really finish each other’s sentences or know how your spouse thinks after two years. Let’s say this type of legislation was passed here in the United States. What would you lose if you decided to exercise the two-year option clause.

If I opted out of my marriage after two years..I would lose….



Dreams! When done together can make your life wonderful!

I love “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I use to watch it every December during the Christmas Holidays. The great thing about the film is that it helps you to appreciate what you have as opposed to what you don’t.

The clip below is great theme for our next intimacy level on
sharing our dreams with our partner.

In the last intimacy level #3 we talked about the importance
of being accepted by our partners in order to share our opinions. This
acceptance by our partner helps bridge the gap to this next intimacy level
which is the ability to share our dreams.

According to Matthew Kelly’s Seven Levels of Intimacy,
dreams are the hopes, fantasies, and our deepest desires that we have for our
future. In today’s environment it takes a great degree of vulnerability to be
able to share our dreams with our partners because we often don’t receive the
acknowledgement and support we expect or need in order to work towards
fulfilling them.

To avoid that result, we often don’t reveal our dreams and
try to make a go at it alone. This procedure can diminish your effectiveness as
a couple because you wind up traveling on different paths. You often see this
happen to celebrity couples’ as their own individual dreams take precedent over
their dreams as a couple i.e. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony or Maria Shriver
and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It was at this point, there dreams were going in different directions.
They obviously weren't having dreams about one another.

Acknowledging and accepting your partner’s individual dreams
and creating mutual dreams not only can energize you as a couple, but it can
also be instrumental in achieving the dreams you have envisioned. It will also the
direction your lives may go. This level of intimacy can be very satisfying and
exciting, but your mastery to achieve this level of intimacy won’t be achieved
until you have mastered the other three levels.

So what are the components needed to have mutually shared

  • Knowing each other’s dreams is crucial. If you
    are working toward one dream and your partner is working toward another, it will
    cause conflict because how they view  the
    direction of their life is different from yours.
  • Delayed gratification – understanding this and
    practicing takes a certain discipline and a degree of communication. If you
    have mutually shared dreams, you will have to put some of your own personal
    dreams and aspirations on hold for the good of the relationship. That may mean
    you delay purchasing that car in order to place the money into your house fund,
    or putting off the dream vacation you can’t afford now and save it in order to
    travel after retirement.
  • Write your dreams down. There are seven areas in
    which you could dream about: physical, emotional, intellectual, professional,
    financial and adventurous.  After you
    have written them down in a journal, or on the computer, set goals around them
    with a timetable. Preferably one year. Revisit your dreams once a year and
    remind your spouse of the dreams the both of you have envisioned for your
  • If you can plan a getaway to work on this, do it
    today, or set some time over the course of several weeks to get this done.

STRIVERS, get to dreaming and writing! Have a good weekend.

Coach Keith

Where Did We Go Wrong? (M.M.M.)

Yesterday, I saw my friend Stephan after church. We exchanged pleasantries and I happen to notice he wasn’t wearing his ring. I asked him how he was doing. He told me he was going through some personal things, challenges, so I asked him a question that would help him open up a little more. After a few minutes he told me that his 18 year marriage was on the verge of collapse.

I offered my services, but his wife was looking for a specific type of relationship therapist and I didn’t fit the gender category.

As I drove home, I began to reflect on how is it possible that a marriage can end after so many years? You may be in the same boat yourself,  confused about how your marriage of 10 or more years suddenly ends.

Here are Five reasons why your good marriage could turn bad.

  1. The expectations you had built up before you were married or over time never materialized.
  2. You never really examined yourself in the marriage.
  3. You never learns the skill that is needed to get you through the obstacle.
  4. The unhealthy choice, no matter how small lead to the downfall of your marriage.
  5. You just can’t overcome an unpredictable circumstance.

As I listened to my friend talk to me, I thought about today’s Marriage Music Monday selection by L.T.D, Where Did We Go Wrong.

It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong
It doesn’t matter whose to blame
We both have to swallow our pride
To make this love strong, ooh, baby

You may not know the source of your partner’s frustration, unless you make the choice to sit down face-to-face, with a coach, or a counselor and work out your problems.  That’s what my friend Stephan was going to do. He wanted his good marriage back.

We are STRIVERS and we want “good marriages”.

In the book When Bad Things Happen to Good Marriages, by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrot they provide the secrets that couples use:

  • A good marriage is made up of..2 people who take ownership for the good as well as the bad. There are a responsible couple.
  • A good marriage is made up of..2 people believing good wins over bad. They are a responsible couple.
  • A good marriage is made up of..2 people walking in each other’s shoes. They are an empathic couple.
  • A good marriage is made up of ..2 people healing the hurts they don’t deserve. They are a forgiving couple.
  • A good marriage is made up of ..2 people living the love they promise. They are a committed couple.

Have a great week. And do something unexpected for your spouse.

Coach Keith