Relationship Reset reveals the secrets to becoming a better couple through exposing valuable information from current research and identifying critical insights that make relating easier. By reading Relationship Reset you will learn:
- The Core Elements—define what’s “normal” for your relationship to experience and how to navigate through the tough spots.
- The Mind Benders—learn to take personal, thought shifting actions that will change your relationship for the better.
- The Muscle Builders—engage in exercises together that will strengthen and stabilize your love for a lifetime.
Crafted specifically for all couples, Relationship Reset focuses on making committed relationships last by offering simple and essential skills in an interactive format. Whether at the beginning of your union or well down the road, this book will revolutionize your relationship!
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
A Little Explanation
The best relationship problem solvers have the unique ability to synthesize large amounts of information while simultaneously rifling through a big catalog of solutions to address the issues in front of them. As I was mapping out the best way to approach the myriad of concerns that couples have about their relationships, I used this problem-solving procedure to come up with an order of actions that build on each other while also providing effective solutions that can benefit every couple. You see, I get it — no two relationships are alike. There is no way that one book is going to address the very specific needs your relationship has; however, I also know that there are universal insights and actions that offer positive results across the board for all couple relationships. That said, you will find Relationship Reset organized into three strategic sections to provide the most positive impact on your relationship: First, there are the Core Elements, which normalize what's going on in most relationships and get you thinking like a couples therapist. Then come the Mind Benders to expand your relational mind and help each partner become better attuned to the relationship. And finally are the Muscle Builders, which show you how to increase your couple connection and add strength to your relationship. Let's take a look at what each of these categories contains.
"Is this normal?" Due to a highly sensitive, inclusive approach to the world these days, most therapists avoid this question like the plague. The last thing they want to be on the line for is defining "normal" for any client. And while this is understandably admirable, sometimes people just need the reprieve that comes from someone saying, "Yep — I have seen this a million times," or "You know what? What you're dealing with is not very common." There is a particular relief provided by being able to categorize our fears, symptoms, issues, and concerns into a box that says, "You can let it go," or a box that says, "You need to give this more attention."
That is the purpose of the first section explaining the Core Elements. This section covers the couples journey through the Six-Stage Change Cycle of Committed Couple Relationships and what the common experiences are in each stage; Relationship Patterns and the way couples learn to dance with each other over the years; and Conflict Styles, the permanent presence of conflict in every relationship and how to become a Humble Warrior.
The Core Elements are fundamental and important ways to normalize what is going on in your relationship to put your concerns in context. Once you can normalize where your relationship is and how it operates, you will establish a baseline. This baseline will allow you to move into the remaining sections with clarity about what actually constitutes a problem and what doesn't, defining where to best put your effort toward improvement. It is amazing how many couples stay stuck and focused on issues in a relationship that are just normal relationship stuff. A little bit of insight can save a whole lot of pain and agony, which can often get stretched out and grow worse over the years.
Mind over relational matter matters. The power of our personal, inner emotional world has the greatest influence on the success or failure of our intimate relationships. This claim is bold but scientifically accurate. Ultimately, what we believe affects how we think, which affects how we feel, which in turn affects how we act. In the most rudimentary sense, this is the basis for cognitive behavioral therapy, developed by psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck, which works with the inner world of an individual to change their external experiences. This process is called self-regulation. The ability to self-regulate well has a wealth of confirmed research linked to relational satisfaction across the board. The power of self-regulation has been made enormously popular in Daniel Goleman's emotional intelligence movement and by our modern-day reintroduction to ancient mindfulness practices. Being able to manage and communicate your inner emotional experience clearly has significant benefits to our personal health and the ability to have an optimal function in life.
Also, increased self-regulation is the key to enhancing your couple relationship. Consider this: If your mind is running wild about your relationship, your emotions are too. And out-of-control emotions are guaranteed to create dissatisfaction and discontentment. The Mind Benders in Relationship Reset help you elevate your mind in your relationship, increasing your self-regulation. These actions alone have the unique ability to shift the relationship in significant ways without your partner having to change with you. Then, beyond your individual work, you will find that when you work on your minds together, it creates what most relationships are begging for: better communication.
Going the distance as a couple requires building strength in the relationship. After normalizing your relationship experiences and teaching you how to adjust your mind to benefit one another, it is essential to increase the strength of your connection. In my couples therapy office, I always have enough seats for four people: one for each partner, one for myself, and one for the relationship. As you most likely have come to understand in your experience, relationships become their own entity. Just like having a child or starting a business, at one point what begins as an excellent idea eventually grows up and develops its own personality, demands, needs, habits, problems and successes. It becomes a living, breathing, stand-alone emergence of idea in action. If given proper care and attention, the benefits are endless. If ignored or neglected, the outcome is detrimental.
Relationships are the same way — they aren't meant to go from idea to action and then just coast on for years. There isn't a relationship that can thrive that way. Instead, just like being a loving parent or reliable business partner, the relationship needs the couple to build it up. It requires strong muscles to create a sustainable trajectory toward health and longevity. Relationship Reset offers Muscle Builders that work specifically on increasing the strength of your relationship.
Once you learn the Core Elements, Mind Benders, and Muscle Builders, you will be a well-equipped relationship expert with a deeper and more insightful view of yourself, your partner, and your relationship than you have had before. And isn't a relationship expert what we should all strive to become when it comes to our most precious and intimate connections? So often we take for granted that this relationship has appeared in our world, but I urge you to take a minute to marvel at the mystery. Out of billions of people, the two of you found each other, connected, and committed. What an incredible gift life has delivered to your feet! We treat this relationship with the respect it deserves when we decide to become students of our committed relationships. So put on your thinking caps; it is time to get to work.
Think Like a Couples Therapist
Everything we buy these days has a manual that describes how the item works and how to troubleshoot problems if and when they arise. The Core Elements are a foundational manual for committed couple relationships, helping partners to understand normal function, what kind of problems might come up, and ideas on how to troubleshoot. Each Core Element highlights usual experiences that all couple relationships face with the intention of creating greater insight into your personal experiences.
Cycles-The Couples Journey
Before going on any journey, it is highly advised that you know where you are currently and where you are headed. There isn't a GPS out there that can give you directions without a current location and a destination. Mapping your journey as a couple is equally as important. All committed relationships have stages of development, and if you know what stage your relationship is in, it becomes much easier to define what is normal versus what is a problem. So often we get discouraged in our relationships because we confuse normal relationship experiences with problems. A lot of couples assume their unions are in distress when really they are just experiencing the typical growing pains that all people's relationships endure.
Like human beings, every relationship has its own life cycle. Similar to the way people go through different development stages and evolve over time, relationships do too. For instance, in the most traditional way, every new couple must adjust to living life as a team of two; couples may then decide they want to have children, and navigate the transitory and challenging period of welcoming little ones into the family system; and eventually, a couple's children will move out, leaving partners to readjust to life as a team of two again. These are very normal life transitions that create big changes and significantly affect the relationship.
Beyond couple and family life transitions, each partner goes through his or her own stages of lifespan development, which ultimately affect the relationship too. From birth to death, we are constantly growing and evolving. As we continue to understand more about ourselves through the years, we also continue to learn how to share ourselves with other people. This may be the most rewarding, yet difficult, task of our lifetime. It is no wonder that when we are involved in an intimate relationship for an extended period of time, we tend to see the largest growth curve; navigating our personal development while trying to stay in sync with another changing being is the "hard work" people associate with long-term, committed relationships. If you think about it, the standard marriage vows that have been uttered by millions over the centuries are, in essence, promoting the promise to commit to changing with one another. Have you heard this before? "I, (name), take you, (name), to be my partner, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until death do us part." These vows are saying that when life brings changes that affect us, which life inevitably always does, we will not only hang in there with each other until the end of time, but we will commit to continuously change with one another and do so with love. This is a huge promise to make to another human being. If you have made this promise, you are remarkable.
However, here's the problem: These changes often show up unexpectedly, and with them comes the inextricable byproduct of individual personal growth. And when we change as individuals, our relationships have to change, too. It is the complexity of personal development that upsets relationships and asks us to reevaluate and find each other again. Tragically, this is often when many couples become convinced that something is wrong with their relationship rather than understanding that they are in the midst of change. As a result, they may decide the relationship wasn't meant to be or that something is wrong with their choice of partner, instead of realizing that they can actually embark on a new relationship with the same person.
As a couples therapist, I have seen some ofthe greatest reliefin partners when they finally understand that the conflict and discomfort they have been enduring are shared experiences stemming from natural relationship changes. As you take a look at the Six-Stage Change Cycle of Committed Couple Relationships, hopefully you too will feel a sense of relief when you come to understand your experiences on the couples journey.
Six-Stage Change Cycle of Committed Couple Relationships
The Six-Stage Change Cycle is derived from understanding couple life-span development in conjunction with the ongoing adult identity development process. Influenced by the ideas and theories of past and present scholars, I have created a change model that highlights a couple as a dynamic, organic, and transforming system while also explaining the typical, everyday experiences partners go through individually and together. In the field of marriage and family therapy, there can never be enough attempts at encapsulating the process of the couple relationship. This is helpful not only for therapists, but also especially for couples like you who are trying to become experts on their own relationships. And that is precisely my hope in sharing this model with you; I want you to become an expert on your relationship. In turn, this will help you understand why it can, at times, be so challenging to grow with someone you love so much.
I'd like to offer a little background on what I mean by this. As I mentioned earlier, as humans, we begin growing and developing in relationships the minute we are born. Attachment theory, pioneered by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, tells us that way back in the beginning, even as infants, we were already being primed to love in adulthood. We learned early on how to bond with another human being through our relationship with our primary caregiver(s). Some of us may have had excellent teachers in our families who met our physical and emotional needs while tenderly offering us love and connection. Through our interactions with these caregivers, we learned how to attach to people in a secure way. Others may have had caregivers who were not as capable of bonding with and caring for us in the same healthy manner. This likely created an outcome of an avoidant or anxious attachment with others. The good news, however, is that most humans are enormously resilient and will continue to strive to create secure attachments throughout life, specifically in our most intimate, committed couple relationships. It is the construct of this partnership that remodels the initial childhood bond, giving us multiple opportunities to practice secure and connected love in adulthood.
The Six-Stage Change Cycle will help you see how we practice creating security in our relationships and why the couple relationship gets challenged more as we move through some of the stages as opposed to others. You will also learn how these stages correlate with transitions throughout the lifespan — times that often generate prime opportunities for us to become more confident and stable in a relationship with ourselves, others, and the world around us. Beyond that, you may identify with why couples get stuck in this cycle of change and how at times the changes or resistance of changes can cause relationships to end.
The Cycle Explained
The Six-Stage Change Cycle includes (1) You and Me, (2) We, (3) I and I, (4) The We/I Plateau, (5) The D-Factor, and (6) Us or Me. In just a moment, you will read in detail how each of these stages is defined and how they may express their presence in your relationship. However, it is important to understand that these stages are always cycling throughout the course of your relationship, and this is not necessarily a one-time, linear experience. Also, this cycle will look different for everyone. While you may find similarities with a friend or family member, each relationship cycles through the stages based on the uniqueness that each individual brings to the relationship, of which the combinations are endless. Some people may find that they have been through all of the stages in a short period of time, while others may find that they have stayed in a particular stage for an extended period of time. There is no right or wrong. The important piece to understand is that this change cycle does occur, and when it does, it often brings an uncomfortable transition to the relationship that can be perceived as a problem rather than normal growth.
You will be able to read through the definitions of each stage. This will allow you an in-depth understanding of how your relationship may respond to joint and individual changes over the years. I will review with you the indications that this change cycle may be undermining your relationship, and when it may be time to seek additional support. Also, we will look at the assets each stage offers the relationship long term. Next, I will cover challenges that the stages create and how you can navigate through them. Finally, you will have the opportunity to look at how the stages fit into the life cycle of the relationship and assess which stage or stages apply to your relationship. This last step will allow you to determine what is normal for your relationship and which areas of your relationship may need more attention as you continue to grow as a committed couple.
Excerpted from "Relationship Reset"
Copyright © 2017 Jen Elmquist, MA, LMFT.
Excerpted by permission of Risk Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. A Little Explanation 1
CORE ELEMENTS: THINK LIKE A COUPLES THERAPIST 7
2. Cycles—The Couples Journey 9
3. Patterns—Drama to Durable 49
4. Styles—All Couples Fight 89
5. Lesson from Viktor 109
MIND BENDERS: BE THE CHANGE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP 117
6. Stopping the Train 119
7. A Loving Observer 127
8. The Small Big Things 133
9. Releasing Expectations 137
10. Becoming More Critical 141
11. Relational Accounting 101 147
12. Three Positives 155
13. Clean Slate Protocol 159
MUSCLE BUILDERS: CREATE A STRONG CONNECTION 163
14. The Epic Kiss 165
15. “Can You Hear Me?” 169
16. Let’s Get It On 175
17. Vision Quest 183
18. Say a Little Prayer for Me 189
19. Getting the Whole Picture 195
20. Keep It Interesting 201
21. What about You? 207
22. The Research Project 213
CONCLUSION: A SWAN STORY 223
RELATIONSHIP RESET PLEDGE 230
RESEARCH AND RESOURCES 231
ABOUT THE AUTHOR 253