A Great Relationship is Like a BMW, Not a Tank

When I started writing for this blog, I did so with the idea that I would share with people the little bits of information I was picking up along the way of working with so many couples. Since I am not sure what people will find helpful, I simply share all of my thoughts and hope that most people will benefit. So, here is a thought I hope will help many. For the lucky people that find themselves in wonderful relationships, there is a tendency to think of the strong relationship as an indestructible entity. Once we do this we do things like pile lots of stress onto the relationship because, “we can handle it”. We pursue huge goals and familial growth because “our relationship can take it”. This is a mistake that can have grave consequences. The temptation is to pile more and more onto our relationship until the once brilliant relationship dynamic has developed a slight blip that one day turns into a huge problem. Instead, we should consider our relationship as something that is both priceless and fragile. We should protect it, just the same as we protect our other valuable objects. We cherish them; ensure that […]

The Power of Love

One of the best things about being a psychotherapist that specializes in working with couples is the amazing stories of couples’ love that I get to hear and the amazing lessons that I have learned from these stories. If there is one resounding message I have been touched by it is the true power of love. In the beginning of my career, not only did I not expect to see couples, I was not really sure on what I thought about the power of love. Most of the people that I knew in my personal life have had their lives impacted by either their own divorce of the divorce of someone close to them. Then, as my professional life shifted towards working with couples I began to see a whole new side of love. So, I want to share a few things based on my experiences over the years in the hopes that others will be just as moved as I have been and can see that love really is powerful. 1. Love lasts forever. Though a divorce may end a relationship, love can last forever. A large amount of couples have come into my office either in the process […]

You Are Your Unique Couple

You and your partner were brought together for a reason, don’t ever doubt it! Think about it for just one moment, what had to happen just to bring you and your partner together? If you had not arrived at the right place at just the right time, the two of you would never have met. Can you imagine what your life would have been like if you had decided to go to a different mall that day or a different bar with your friends. What if you were sick and never left the house at all on the day when the meeting that would lead to you marriage would never have taken place. You would never have crossed paths with the person that would become your partner forever! Soak that in for a second, that means you are uniquely you so please do these 2 things. One, do not compare your relationship to anyone else’s or try to be like anyone else. You are the only you so enjoy it and just be the best you that you can be. Second, always remember your own unique strengths. Never, ever allow yourselves to think that the uniqueness is a weakness. Whatever […]

The Art of Giving Compliments

The honest truth is most of us are better at delivering bad news and criticism than we are at delivering compliments. I want to share a few thoughts in this blog that will help you become a more effective giver of compliments. First, let me share a few thoughts on what compliments do and why they are so important in relationships. Compliments provide feedback that you are still happy with your partner and still find them desirable. This is important to understand because too often we accidentally remove compliments from our dialogue once we have been together for a while and begin to only talk about daily life tasks and problems. This is a mistake and sets the environment for problems to arise. Feedback must be exchanged and we have to ensure some (or even most) of that feedback is positive. Here are a few tips to ensure you deliver compliments that keep positivity as part of your relationship. True and positive. In order for a compliment to be meaningful it only has to be true and positive. Most people have a tendency to over think this. They think we have to be telling our partner something they didn’t already […]

What do you want?

This is a simple question. In fact, it is the simplest of questions but for some reason it is so challenging for us to answer. Honestly, really think about it for a second. We are so much more skilled at answering what we don’t want than we are at discussing what we do want. In relationships this is a significant problem. We must develop the ability to articulate what we want so we can subsequently let our partners know when they are making us happy and engaged in a behavior that is advantageous to the relationship. It just shocks me how easy it is for us to get this very basic and simple idea wrong, how often we allow negative feedback loops to erode our relationships. When I was in graduate school working on my PhD, I had a professor that would always say, “we cannot, not communicate”. This means that we are always sending some sort of message to our partners. So if we are not good at discussing the positive parts of our lives together, then guess what the default becomes, that’s right, the negative. This is not productive and tears down even the strongest of couples. So […]

So, how did you do that?

Have you ever looked at your partner and wondered, how did I do that? How did I get this amazing person to fall in love with me? Well, if you haven’t, you should. Being in love is not something that happens accidently, it happens because you were able to use the best of yourself to bring out the best of someone else. That is what makes a relationship so special. This is important because when we take time to explore what the relationship was like when it was at it’s very best and how those very best times were created we improve the relationship immediately. Too often couples overlook the best times and become focused on the problems. We focus on what we don’t like, what we want our partner to change or life’s challenges. Instead we should focus on our best traits and the way we use them. By focusing on the good times we inevitably become more knowledgeable about how to overcome the challenges that occur within the relationship. To overcome any challenge or accomplish any goal we need talent, we need resources. The very fact that you have partnered in a relationship that has had a successful […]

Make this year, your partner’s year.

So, here we are. Another new year and that brings along more goals to accomplish and more opportunities to make progress towards these goals. Almost everyone will take this opening to set a resolution to ensure that the year gets started out in the right way. Often these resolutions are about improving health, saving more money, doing better at work or improving a marriage/relationship. Here is an idea to help with those that are interested in improving their relationship. This may sound radical, it may sound different but believe me, this will improve almost any relationship. But first, I have to go over a few things. A relationship is just like any other system, when something occurs within the system, or relationship, the impact will be felt throughout the system or relationship and will trigger a similar response from others within the system. For example, if have you ever noticed that when someone says, “how are you doing” almost without even thinking about it you respond by saying, “fine and you”? This is because their nice comment has triggered a similarly nice comment from you. So it makes sense that when you do something nice it often triggers a similar […]

Marriage is NOT conditional!

The truth is most of us do marriage wrong. Many people ask me, “why do so many marriages fail”? Though I am not sure I have the exact answer, I am convinced that a lot of us go about the activity of marriage all wrong. We don’t do this on purpose of course, it is just human nature. For instance, have you ever been tempted to do something nice for your partner but opted not to due to the fact you are currently arguing or you do not like your partners recent attitudes or actions? Based on my experience as a marriage counselor I suspect the answer for too many of you is “yes”. This is a mistake, this leads to the erosion of a marriage. Be kind to your partner always! Not because they deserve but because they are your partner with whom you are in love and promised to love forever. Not because it is good for them but because it is good for you to be the best partner that you can be. You deserve the outcome of this type of commitment. A marriage commitment is not only a promise to made to another person, it is […]

A Relationship Requires Learning, stay curious

Sometimes I truly do feel like a moron. I have spent almost all of my adult life studying relationships and in a relationship with my wife and to this day, the things I learn on a daily a basis about her, our relationship and relationships in general continues to amaze me. Like most people, I sometimes get a bit comfortable and think that I have learned a lot but then, the inevitable curveball comes towards me and there is a new piece of information that embeds itself in my life. A relationship is not a goal, it is a journey, a journey based on learning and applying knowledge. When I married my wife I thought she was the most amazing woman I had ever met, now, she has evolved, grown and become even more special to me. Through that evolution, I had only one job, become aware of the changes in her life and fall in love with those new pieces just as I did with the original version of her. That is where the learning comes in. If there is one piece of advice I can give to all couples it would be to stay curious about your partners. […]


Thankfulness. This is a powerful word in a relationship, in fact, this idea is so powerful that all over the America families are gathering together expressing thanks for all of the wonderful things in their lives. Don’t forget to be thankful to your partners, and please don’t only be thankful on this holiday. Be thankful all year around, be thankful all the time, express to your partner with detailed examples about what you love about them. Make this a daily habit, make this an all of the time thing. Make sure your partner is more aware of what you appreciate about them than they are aware of what you would prefer they change. This is where love flourishes, this is where love becomes powerful. The true essence of love can dominate even the most powerful of problems but only if you allow it to, only if you make loving habits a part of your daily lives. Please, add this to your daily way of life. Warmly, Elliott Connie www.elliottspeaks.com www.thesolutionfocusedmarriage.com

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