Ellyn Bader

The Relationship School Podcast Interview with Ellyn Bader

The Couples InstituteThanks for listening to my interview on The Relationship School podcast where Jayson and I discussed so many issues to help partners have better relationships. Jayson and I even did a mini-roleplay on a topic I feel strongly about. It’s the challenge of how to ask for what you desire or need. I think I really got Jayson's attention when I said asking for what you need can create big relationship problems! How something is said can be a challenge for couples and for couples therapists. I hope you found the interview helpful. Please feel free to share the podcast and resources below. Click here to download the 3 Types of Decisions discussed on the podcast.… Read more...

In Search of Marital Honesty: A Surprising Perspective

  How often has your partner made a legitimate request and you replied, “Well, frankly I don't want to do that?” It's probably rare, even when it is the honest thing for you to say. Marital honesty involves the willingness to take emotional risks. Here's what I mean. Terry complains that she cannot depend on Jim to follow through with his agreements. It happens in the everyday problems of living like taking out the garbage, putting the kids to bed on time or picking up key ingredients for the evening dinner. Jim complains that no matter what he does, Terry is never satisfied. The job he does is never fast enough, good enough or timely enough.… Read more...

Effective Communication Goes Against Human Nature

Communication is the most common presenting problem of couples in my practice. Yet, it is not truly the main problem. Even if couples utterly fail to talk, negotiate, or make decisions, there's a bigger problem than communication. When you're in a tense, difficult or nasty discussion with your partner, the problem isn't communication. The problem is your distressed emotional reaction about what they are saying. If your distress is severe enough, you are on the way to being at your worst. When you are at your worst, you're likely to bring out the worst in your partner. But you really hope your partner will respond with their higher self.… Read more...

Rapid Fire Tips for Holiday Division of Labor

How many decisions will you make with your honey over the holidays? Whether you guess fifty or five hundred, I guarantee that you will make even more. The holidays are full of choices: gifts, guests, travels, money, menus, and more. And many of these decisions are made begrudgingly, especially as the calendar fills up and every day becomes a challenge of “who needs to do what by when.” Some of these decisions and negotiations will generate more heat than a roaring forest fire. So here's a method to turn down the heat blasts and make your holidays a little more cozy. It's a new way to think about “who needs to do what by when.” This process helps you avoid the two most common negotiation mistakes.… Read more...

The Hidden Cost of Too Much Compromise in Your Relationship

Who hasn't heard about the importance of compromise in a relationship? But how often do we hear about the price that is paid for that compromise? In a relationship of significance, most people do things that are accommodating. But what happens when that behavior becomes passive behavior and is over-accommodating? What happens when you deny, suppress or repress a meaningful portion of yourself? The result is that you become embroiled in an internal struggle. One part of you clamors to be heard and responded to, and the other parts of you go into the accommodation mode. By continuing to compromise and deny important aspects of yourself you stay anxious and conflicted.… Read more...

7 Steps to Help Your Partner Want to Change

Large leather sofa with a bunch of different thingsEveryone has something they'd like to change in their partner. Unfortunately too many partners believe, “If my partner loves me they should want to change.” Frequently this creates quite a power struggle. Here is a 7-step process to create a change in your partner. The key to the success of this process is that it makes your partner want to change instead of feeling coerced. Why? Because your gain will not feel like their loss. Here's what you do. 1. Make a list. List the top three behaviors your partner does that annoy you. For example, leaves messes around house; pouts; doesn't do their share of household tasks, etc.… Read more...

7 Step Process if You Want to Influence Your Spouse to Change

  Everyone has something they'd like to change in their partner. As a therapist, you know that the biggest improvements in a couples' relationship come when both people change and grow. Couples' relationships present an interesting paradox. Growth is spurred by partners pushing up against each other and challenging one another to change. This pushing and challenging can result in positive developmental changes and the softening of defenses. However, too often partners request change in a way that is controlling, demanded and entitled. These requests lead to power struggles and very painful interactions.… Read more...

Life Lessons from the Garden

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” – May Sarton Since it's spring, we thought we'd use the metaphor of gardening to talk about nourishing your relationship and yourself. The garden teems with life lessons. For this month turn your awareness to the wise teachings of your garden. If you don't have a conventional garden, even a container garden on your porch, or potted plants in your home offer valuable lessons. Here are a few: Water it. This is the obvious lesson everyone will think about.… Read more...

Nurture Yourself and your Partner

Nurturing yourself and your partner is a crucial part of developing a satisfying relationship. * * * * * Joe drags himself through the front door of his house after a long, difficult day. His last hope is, “Maybe, just maybe, Ann can take care of me tonight, and the kids can take care of themselves.” Seeing Ann leaning on the counter, working at the kitchen sink, Joe hits a new low. “God, she looks as bad as I feel.” Not surprisingly, Ann had a similar hope when she heard Joe pull into the driveway. “Maybe he can take over and give me a break.” After a quick look at Joe, her hopes vanish.… Read more...
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