long-term relationships

Five Questions to Ask on Date Night This Week

Nearly every week couples ask me how to keep the passion alive in their long-term relationships. They see desire fatigue set in all around them, the more we build a comfortable stable life with someone, the less we connect with the fascination, intrigue, and spontaneity that usually comes so easily early in relationships.  

Those three elements fade away as we stop exploring ourselves and each other.  Over time we start assuming we know everything there is to know about our partner.  To that idea, I say:

How incredibly boring it must be to know everything about your love! How limiting it must be to have the person you desire think they know everything about you! 

I hope you never know everything there is to know about your partner. And if you really do, you're either spending too much time together (and need more independence) or aren't growing as humans (and need to start).

The simplest way to reconnect with that energy is to start getting curious about each other.  Start asking questions again and really answering one another.  No quick one-word responses.  No mumbled answers while scrolling your phone or playing a video game.  Turn towards one another with intention like you did way back when and start discovering one another again. 

You know I send out juicy questions to bring couples closer every week.  This week, try asking your honey these on date night:

  1. What do you daydream about most often?

  2. When do you fantasize about escape?

  3. What makes you cringe?

  4. What do you want more of in your daily life?

  5. What can I do to support you in making your dreams come true?

 


 Gina Senarighi | :GBTQ Couples Counseling | LGBTQ Marriage Therapy

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

The Five Love Languages for Successful Couples

WHY ARE THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES SO IMPORTANT?

In all my years of counseling, diverse couples, marriages, and partners, it’s become clear that everyone benefits when they begin to apply them in all their relationships.

Rarely do couples share the same love language. It can create a lot of frustration when you think you are doing a good job expressing love and yet the other person is just not feeling it. If you don’t understand the love language concept, then you can feel stuck. But it, you understand that they speak a different language, then you can learn to speak that language.

 

WHAT ARE THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES?

The love languages were originally written by marriage therapist Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages. The book has a religious theme that doesn’t resonate with many of my clients, but the foundation of this basic couples theory still offers important guidance. 

Basically, there are five main ways we demonstrate love in relationships.  Everyone has a need for all five languages, but each of us prefer one of these more than others. Usually each individual values one or two of the five more than the others.

Most of us communicate love to our partners primarily through our preferred love language- which doesn’t always match our partner’s preference. This miscommunication means sometimes our efforts go unacknowledged.  And sometimes we don’t see all the love our partner is throwing our way.

Sometimes we can have trouble connecting with love even if it is all around us.

IDENTIFYING YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE…

Think of a time you felt truly loved in your relationship. You were sure your partner loved you dearly. What were they doing? What specific actions did they take? Why were these actions important or meaningful to you?

Or think about daydreams or fantasies you have about being well-loved. What’s going on?  How does the person in your dream tell or show you they care?

Now read the languages below to see which best fits with the scenario you described above.

Most people enjoy all of these Love Languages but you will see one or two of them are especially important. Knowing which is your primary or favorite helps your partner better connect with you when showing love.

Knowing which is your least priority helps you identify loving practices you might overlook in partnership.

Your preferred Love Language can change over time, of course, so identifying it clearly and talking about it with a partner will help you two connect in more meaningful loving ways.  

Focus on the love you share this week with this framework in mind and watch what happens!  


 entrepreneur relationships | couples who are entrepreneurs

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Seven Principles for Making Your Relationship Work

Hi!  I found a great summary of one of my all-time favorite relationship books, so I wanted to be sure to share it with you. 

Seven Principles of Making Your Marriage Work by John Gottman is excellent even if you're a couple who plans never to marry.  His 40+ years researching couples in everyday environments has build a critical foundation for understanding what makes love last. 

Check it out:

 

I'd love to hear what you think after watching or reading.  Pop over to my facebook page and leave a comment, or call me for a consultation to learn how to apply these principles in your own relationship.

 

Tools to Interrupt Conflict Patterns

Last week I wrote a post about conflict patterns that seems to have stirred things up for some of you.  Particularly when I talked about validation's role in resolving conflicts.  I wanted to write a little more this week to help you understand and implement validation effectively in your conflict cycles.

You can read what I wrote last week here.

Validation is not the same as agreement.  We can validate each other's perspective or experience and still disagree. 

You like anchovies on pizza and I do not is a great simple example.  If I won't validate your pizza preference I might ask you to explain why you like anchovies, or make fun of other people who like that topping, or belittle you for having that preference.  I can tell you how unreasonable it is or how I've never met anyone who really liked anchovies. 

Of course, none of that will help us order an actual pizza or feel close. Simply stating a perspective without judgmental language or interpretation can be validating.  "You prefer anchovies and I prefer cheese." Is a simple way of validating their perspective.

Although you're unlikely to take pizza choice personally, it's easy to see how we can disagree, acknowledge each other's perspective as valid at the same time. 

There are a number of ways we can validate a perspective.  Knowing these can give you options when you're feeling stuck in a conflict and want to find a way back to being connected.

Emotions

Understanding your partner's emotions is critical to connection and longevity in relationships. It's also the foundation of empathy, without which relationships cannot survive. Here are a few examples of validating emotions:

  • "You feel sad when we talk about this."
  • "I think what you're saying is, you're overwhelmed or worried about this.  Is that right?"
  • "So you're confused by this too." 
  • "Are you saying you're frustrated by ____?"

Beliefs

Everyone has opinions, and everyone is entitled to them.  But hen they become controversial in relationships it can be a real challenge to sort through and maintain connection.  Here are a few ways to validate their beliefs (even if you disagree):

  • "You absolutely have a right to your opinion."
  • "I know you have a different way of doing this."
  • "You've clearly got a solid opinion about this."
  • "I hear you've been thinking about this for a while."

Desires

Knowing your partner's wants or desires helps them feel heard and understood in conflict.  It also helps you support them in getting needs met or soothing when they're disappointed. You might say something like:

  • "You really want to go on that vacation."
  • "I know having quiet time together really matters to you."
  • "I hear you that you want more help around the house."
  • "Having more sex is important to connection for you."

Actions

All too often we overlook the specific actions and behaviors our partners take.  When we miss these they can feel unacknowledged and underappreciated and it can lead us to grow resentful.  Start taking note of specific actions to validate their experience.  Here are some options:

  • "I saw you reading. What's that book about?"
  • "You said your back hurt earlier.  How are you feeling now?"
  • "Thanks for bringing this up."
  • "I so appreciate you folding the laundry with me."

Pain

It can be super challenging to focus on our partner's pain or suffering (especially when we might have caused some of it).  Most of us work hard to avoid suffering and want to fix it right away.  However, by acknowledging the pain we can be vulnerable and deepen trust in the relationship.  Here are some examples for you to try:

  • "I can see you're hurting."
  • "I know this week has been really stressful."
  • "Honey, I'm sorry you're in pain."
  • "This has been so hard on you."

CHANGE YOUR COMMUNICATION PATTERNS

Are you inspired to change the way you communicate in conflicts?  Three ways to change your relationship to conflict for good:

  1. Lots of the information in this article draws from a great book on relationships.  Its a super quick read and a really easy listen to audiobook.  Get your copy of High Conflict Couple here (its' great even if you're not necessarily "high conflict").

  2. Download my Fight Better Guide for Couples.  Totally free.  Get it in my Relationship Resource Library right here

  3. Call me for a free consult.  Sometimes it helps to talk it through with a neutral third party to make changes that last.  I'll happily share resources or support you as a coach.  Let's talk.

SHIFT YOUR COMMUNICATION PATTERNS IN A FREE CALL

 Relationship Coach  Communication Coach

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

How to Let Go of Judgment in Relationships

I've been writing a series on conflict in relationships for a bit and wanted to take today to look more closely at the role of judgment in conflicts.  All too often when couples are stuck in a conflict stalemate judgment is playing a role.  

So learning to change the role of judgment can shift conflict patterns in significant ways.  Here's how to do it:

LEARN TO IDENTIFY JUDGMENTS

Before we can shift judgments role in our relationships we have to get confident at identifying when judgment is present.  You can use the following conversation flags to notice judgment is present:

  • Right/Wrong & Good/Bad - Narrows the focus of the conversation to defend against judgment
  • Should - Should implies right/wrong or good/bad and often results from unsolicited advice  
  • Enough/Not Enough - Measuring and evaluating are a great examples of judgment
  • Always/Never - Often indicate we're coming from a place of judgment
  • Comparison - is a form of evaluation that forces us to leave the present moment to think about other people or situations

RELEASING SELF-JUDGMENT

It is often easier to start implementing non-judgment practices within than with others.  Start by noticing your own experience without judgment. Just describe how things feel, taste, smell, or sound. 

Notice your body's experiences without trying to change or critique what's happening.  Just describe and experience it as is.

SORTING JUDGMENTS IN NEUTRAL MOMENTS

Before applying non-judgment in heated exchanges, use neutral situations to build your skills.  Notice your thoughts that evaluate, compare, measure or critique and start shifting them to observation. 

"This pizza is really good. The crust is perfect" (good and perfect are judgments) becomes "This pizza is hot, salty, and cheesy. The crust is crispy. It reminds me of slumber parties in my childhood. I want another piece."  

"The floor here is really gross. Do they ever clean?" (gross is a judgment, their cleaning practice is interpretation) becomes "The floor is sticky.  I can see drip marks and lint on it."

SAVOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP

Part of building patterns of non-judgment is learning to observe without interpretation even in non-conflictual situations.  Notice and describe your partner judgment-free in joyful and peaceful situations is just as important to cultivating new conflict skills as focusing on more challenging moments.  

Try describing what your partner is doing during even mundane moments (cooking, folding laundry, sleeping, or reading).  Commit yourself to observing instead of evaluating (right/wrong, good/bad) and when your reactions arise notice them but refocus back on observing your partner.

MINDFUL LISTENING

You can also begin a practice of mindful listening. Instead of planning your response or observing only your reactions, stay fully present with your partner's process while they talk. 

Listen for deeper understanding focusing only on your partner's thoughts, feelings, and desires.  If you notice your attention shift to yourself, the future, or the past, try to draw your attention back to simply hearing what's being said.

DESCRIBE IN HEAT

Once you've built up the practices above, start applying description instead of judgment when you notice anger or judgment between you and your partner.

"You're suck a jerk.  You always cut me off.  I hate the way you interrupt me!" becomes "I wasn't finished talking.  I want to finish what I was saying."

"Stop yelling. I hate when you lose control like this." becomes "I hear you raising your voice and I feel myself shutting down." 

 

CHANGE YOUR COMMUNICATION PATTERNS

Are you inspired to change the way you communicate in conflicts?  Three ways to change your relationship to conflict for good:

  1. Lots of the information in this article draws from a great book on relationships.  Its a super quick read and a really easy listen to audiobook.  Get your copy of High Conflict Couple here (its' great even if you're not necessarily "high conflict").

  2. Download my Fight Better Guide for Couples.  Totally free.  Get it in my Relationship Resource Library right here

  3. Call me for a free consult.  Sometimes it helps to talk it through with a neutral third party to make changes that last.  I'll happily share resources or support you as a coach.  Let's talk.

 

 RELATIONSHIP COACH | COUPLES RETREAT

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Eight Questions Happy Couples Ask Each Other

Every week I send out conversation starters for couples.  If you'd like to receive them enter your information here.


Remember the sweet beginning of your relationship? Streams of texts and emails, all-night talks that will kept you starry-eyed well into the next day. Fascination, desire, mystery, and excitement fuel you through restless days and nights.

As time passes and you begin building a life with someone life and responsibilities often come between you and that sense of wonder.  As you fall into a rut of talking about housecleaning, bills, and childcare daily conversations usually shift from loving flirtation and curiosity to mundane logistics.

Most new couples vow that this will never happen to them. Yet far too many couples become emotionally disconnected even after making that pledge. But it doesn't have to be that way!

Couples who maintain a feeling of connectedness do things differently. They're deliberate about sustaining and engaging real and meaningful dialogue with each other. Their methods don't involve large displays of affection and don't take a ton of time or money. In fact, the littlest things are usually far more impactful than infrequent grand gestures.

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to reconnect is actually the best.  By asking meaningful, open-ended questions and staying fully present in conversations couples can rekindle and maintain that sense of chemical attraction, fascination, and desire from the start of their relationship.

The following eight questions are the foundation of happiness in lasting relationships.  Use them to start a conversation with your sweetheart this week.  Set aside distraction-free time to talk and really listen (like you used to).  And begin with the intention to be vulnerable, open, and kind as you begin getting to know one another again.

  1. Who of our friends has a relationship you admire and why?

  2. What three ways can I make your life easier this week?

  3. Does anything worry you that you haven't told me?

  4. What is the best part of being in a relationship with me?

  5. What do I do that most annoys you?

  6. What dreams are you hoping to fulfill this year?  How can I support you in reaching them?

  7. How can we make our sex life better?

  8. When do you feel most loved by me?

If you'd like to get conversation starters like these in your inbox once a week add your email address below.  I'm happy to share these tools with you!


Gina Senarighi | Couples Retreat | Communication Workshop

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Four Powerful Relationship Tips from Esther Perel's SXSW Keynote

"The quality of your relationships is what determines the quality of your life."

- Esther Perel, SXSW 2018

 

As you know I hold a deep love and respect for the work of Esther Perel.  So I was very excited to hear she was speaking at this year's South by Southwest event. 

As usual, her talk was provocative and incredibly informative.  I'm outlining a few of my favorite takeaways for you below.  I'd love to talk with you more about it if you're interested give me a call.

 

Conversations are the heart of relationships.

But most of us are shying away from direct communication, complex conversations, and fully present connections.  We text instead of call, we back out instead of showing up, and we dive into distraction every chance we get.

If we want to combat the epidemic of loneliness our culture is facing we need to start showing up more courageously in meaningful conversations.

 

The tension between change and stability is key to relationship success

Thriving relationships can reconcile these two fundamentally different needs (security and safety vs exploration and adventure).  Some of us emerge from families needing more autonomy and some needing more safety.  Which leads to one of us more afraid of losing the other and the other more afraid of losing themselves.

The more we can name and work through this tension together, the closer we become.  Couples and partnerships who can hold this tension and carefully balance it (not too much of either end of the spectrum of autonomy vs connection) build more fulfilling relationships.

 

"Soulmate" is a new concept

How do I know I have found the one?  My one and only.  We want one person to meet the needs that a whole village used to provide.  Soulmate used to be god, and many of us have replaced religion with expectations on a partner.  

 

When we listen deeply to the experiences of another we end up standing in front of a mirror.

And we get inspiration for the kinds of courage we need to have in our own lives. Prioritize relationship work, intimacy, and repair in order to combat loneliness.

We need complex and nuanced conversations to transform the nature of relationships.  To modernize relationship structures as we have outgrown the old paradigms of binary gender. Shifting the roles of men and supporting their complex emotional experiences will create opportunities for wholeness in relationships.

And in order to change the future of intimacy and connection in our society, we all need to courageously tend and show up in more of our relationships.

 

Watch the full talk below:

Please participate with the blindfold activity by closing your eyes.  


Gina Senarighi | Couples Retreats | Communication Workshop | Relationship Coach

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

36 Questions for Closeness in Relationships

Even if you’ve been with a partner for years, there is always something to learn about them. These questions came from a study by Arthur Aron and others designed to create interpersonal closeness. (You can see the entire study here). 

In the study, Aron worked with students to measure closeness and found with more meaningful conversation (initiated by these questions) they started to feel closer to those around them.  You can use the same questions below with your sweetheart, a colleague, or your kids to start feeling closer as well!

Set I

1. When was the last time you walked for more than an hour? Describe where you went and what you saw.
2. What was the best gift you ever received and why?
3. If you had to move from California where would you go, and what would you miss the most about California?
4. How did you celebrate last Halloween?
5. Do you read a newspaper often and which do you prefer? Why?
6. What is a good number of people to have in a student household and why?
7. If you could invent a new flavor of ice cream, what would it be?
8. What is the best restaurant you’ve been to in the last month that your partner hasn’t been to? Tell your partner about it.
9. Describe the last pet you owned.
10. What is your favorite holiday? Why?
11. Tell your partner the funniest thing that ever happened to you when you were with a small child.
12. What gifts did you receive on your last birthday?

Set II

13. Describe the last time you went to the zoo.
14. Tell the names and ages of your family members, include grandparents, aunts and uncles, and where they were born (to the extent you know this information).
15. One of you say a word, the next say a word that starts with the last letter of the word just said. Do this until you have said 50 words. Any words will do-you aren’t making a sentence.
16. Do you like to get up early or stay up late? Is there anything funny that has resulted from this?
17. Where are you from? Name all of the places you’ve lived.
18. What is your favorite class at UCSC so far? Why?
19. What did you do this summer?
20. What gifts did you receive last Christmas/Hanukkah?
21. Who is your favorite actor of your own gender? Describe a favorite scene in which this person has acted.
22. What was your impression of UCSC the first time you ever came here?
23. What is the best TV show you’ve seen in the last month that your partner hasn’t seen? Tell your partner about it.
24. What is your favorite holiday? Why?

Set III

25. Where did you go to high school? What was your high school like?
26. What is the best book you’ve read in the last three months that your partner hasn’t read? Tell your partner about it.
27. What foreign country would you most like to visit? What attracts you to this place?
28. Do you prefer digital watches and clocks or the kind with hands? Why?
29. Describe your mother’s best friend.
30. What are the advantages and disadvantages of artificial Christmas trees?
31. How often do you get your hair cut? Where do you go? Have you ever had a really bad haircut experience?
32. Did you have a class pet when you were in elementary school? Do you remember the pet’s name?
33. Do you think left-handed people are more creative than right-handed people?
34. What is the last concert you saw? How many of that band’s albums do you own? Had you seen them before? Where?
35. Do you subscribe to any magazines? Which ones? What have you subscribed to in the past?
36. Were you ever in a school play? What was your role? What was the plot of the play? Did anything funny ever happen when you were on stage?

50 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR PARTNER INSTEAD OF "HOW WAS YOUR DAY?"

Allegedly it only takes 36 questions to fall in love with anyone, but once you’re in love, well, it takes maintenance to stay connected for the long-haul.

Couples who share deep connection long-term share one simple secret: curiosity.  Most of us start out with a strong sense of intrigue and are so invested in getting to know each other we'll stay up talking all night. 

You know those silly beginning conversations, "You like broccoli?!? I like broccoli too!  We were meant to be!"  Silly as that example might sound, there's plenty of research that shows just how important enthusiastically engaging in getting to know your partner is for your relationship's longevity.

But once we're together a little while we stop getting curious and start assuming we know everything about our honey.  In our culture, lots of stories tell us it's good to be able to read our partner's mind.  But in reality, assumptions are a total relationship buzzkill. 

Once we're assuming there's no room for growth and no element of surprise or mystery.  And those are two critical ingredients for connection and desire.

Instead of letting the initial curiosity and fascination wane, they keep asking questions and investing in getting to know their sweetheart even when time has passed.  

If you’d like to try this approach out for yourself, here are 50 questions you can try asking instead of “how was your day?” You’ll be able to think of plenty of your own once you get warmed up. 

And if you'd like to get a free set of thirty questions to get to know your partner every month you can sign up right here and I'll send them to you!

50 QUESTIONS TO ASK INSTEAD OF HOW WAS YOUR DAY

  1. What made you laugh today?

  2. Can you tell me about a time when you were kind to someone today?

  3. Were you or anyone you know unkind today? What happened?

  4. Who do you wish you knew better at work?

  5. Who inspires you at work?

  6. What did you read today?

  7. What did you daydream about today?

  8. If we were on vacation today, where would we be?

  9. What did you do that was creative today?

  10. What problems did you solve?

  11. What is the best thing that happened in your day?

  12. Did you help anyone today?

  13. Did you say “thank you” to anyone today?

  14. Who did you have lunch with?

  15. What was the high and the low point of your day?

  16. What was your least favorite part of the day?

  17. Was anyone away today?

  18. Did you feel unsafe at any time?

  19. Did you learn anything that surprised you today?

  20. What’s something that happened that made you think?

  21. What do you know today that you didn’t know yesterday?

  22. What did you find challenging today?

  23. How did someone fill your bucket today?

  24. How did you fill someone else’s bucket?

  25. What are you most proud of from your day?

  26. What are you hoping to accomplish tomorrow?

  27. How would you rate your day from 1 to 10?

  28. How were you brave today?

  29. Where would you like to be more authentic tomorrow?

  30. What questions did you ask in class today?

  31. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

  32. Teach me something I don’t already know.

  33. If you could change something about your day, what would it be?

  34. How would you describe the sort of person you were today?

  35. What made you feel happy?

  36. What made you feel loved?

  37. What made you feel confident?

  38. What made you feel worried?

  39. What would you like to achieve before the holidays?

  40. If you could swap desks with someone, who would you choose and why?

  41. If you could be the boss for a day, what would you teach everyone?

  42. If you were the boss for a day, what rules would you make?

  43. If you could have any job in the world other than yours where would you work? What would you do?

  44. When you were a kid what did you dream your day would be like?

  45. How do you hope your day will be different ten years from now?

  46. How is your day different than it would have been ten years ago?

  47. What is your five year professional development plan?

  48. What would you do with one more free hour in each working day?

  49. How could I be of support to you in your daily life?

  50. Is there anything I could do to make your day easier?


 relationships cpach | positive psychology and relationships | happy relationships

Gina Senarighi, MA, MS, CPC is a retired couples counselor and sex therapist, now full-time retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author.  Her twenty years working in communication and positive psychology she has transformed diverse relationships across the country. 

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow.

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Getting the Love You Want in Relationships: Clear Requests & Meaningful Support

One of the biggest complaints new clients come to me with is a need for more support in their relationship.  Most folks tell me they've asked and asked (maybe a thousand times) for support but just don't feel like they're getting it.  

Usually, when we talk with their partner the other side of the story includes just as many attempts at support as requests.  And on their side, these attempts are as overlooked or missed as the initial requests.  

So how do you meet in the middle?  It can help to shift the conversation by getting specific right from the beginning. While you might think you're being clear in asking for more support or telling them you feel unsupported, getting more clear will help them learn to meet your needs.

In sessions, we work to identify what meaningful support looks like to each partner- and often in each situation.  For those of you who can't make it in, I've outlined key themes in support and given examples of each on this worksheet to help you in identifying your unique support needs.  

With greater awareness and specificity you can make clear requests and your partner can more easily work to meet you where you need them most.  

Start by asking yourself, what would meaningful support look like in this situation?  What specific behaviors would help before, during, and after the situation I'm working on?  If you need inspiration download this guide for help.  

I hope this framework can help you get clearer about what you need from your sweetie- and can help them better meet you.  Let me know if you'd like my support in this conversation, I'm here for you.  

 Support in Relationships | Supportive Partner | How to be supportive

A Month of Kindness for Couples

So many incredible couples reach out to me to help them reconnect with each other.  While there are lots of ways to get there, starting on the path of reconnection can be easier than you think.

The biggest challenge is shifting your patterns to take tiny daily actions that move you towards more meaningful connection in the smallest of ways.  Most long-term couples need a reminder and a serious commitment to change in order to re-establish these smallest connections.  

So I created a little calendar to help you two commit to daily action.  Click the image to download a copy to give it a try this month.  

As always, if you'd like help nurturing the connection between you, I'm happy to support you. Give me a call. 

Nine Simple Ways to Build Closer Relationships

Staying in love long-term takes intentional action every day.  It doesn't have to take a lot of work, but by keeping these things in mind you'll be a dream partner to your sweetie.

Apologize

Strong relationships are based on trust and accountability.  Being a great partner means owning when you've hurt someone, taking accountability, and moving forward.  Try apologizing with more clarity next time (here are a few tips).

Breathe Before Responding

Most conflicts could be resolved if we just slowed down and thought things through before reacting.  Take a breath before you respond from now moving forward and notice what shifts between you.

Take Care of Yourself

If you aren't taking care of yourself you can't properly take care of your love.  Period.  Prioritize your self-care as a means to nourish your relationship.  

Make Their Day

Stop and ask yourself, what one thing might brighten my sweetie's day- and then do it.  Maybe it's a love note, a clean house, or a special song no matter what it is we all like to enjoy a special treat once in a while.  Surprise them with something new.

Show Affection

Not all communication is verbal- having strong kinesthetic communication strengthens relationships too.  Ask your partner what their favorite kind of affection is, and then follow up by doing it.  

Think Kind Thoughts

Resentment likes to build up even without our partners' help.  Notice when you start dwelling on negative thoughts, criticisms, or complaints you have about your partner and force yourself to think nice thoughts for each negative thought you're holding.

Consider their POV

When you're in conflict make sure you take your partner's feelings and ideas into consideration.  It's going to be very difficult to move forward until you do.

Compliment Them

Often as a relationship grows we forget to tell our partner the things we love about them- specifically, in person, and with words.  Take the five seconds to nourish your relationship right now- just tell them why you love them.

Share Gratitude Openly

Strong couples share genuine appreciation and gratitude regularly.  Start a daily gratitude practice and share something you're grateful for to help you stay close.

I hope these suggestions help you create a partnership you love.  Here's a version you can print for your fridge if you want a little hanging reminder to help you get into strong practices that nurture your relationship.


 positive psychology | love coach | relationship coach | couples coach | couples retreat

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC has helped thousands of couples review their growth together, and renew their connection moving forward. 

For nearly 15 years she's specialized in strengths-focused, positive psychology-based relationship advice and coaching to nurture lasting joy and and resilience in her client's relationships.  

She will help you:

  • develop a shared vision and goals- and create actionable steps to move in that direction
  • overcome outdated patterns and establish new intentional, healthy ones
  • strengthen trust or repair it after infidelity or dishonesty
  • connect in meaningful ways during and well after life transitions
  • design rituals of connection that will keep you close for many years
  • break stale or unhealthy communication patterns and learn new skills 

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

50 Free and Cheap Super Dates in Portland

Keeping the romance alive can be easier than you might think.  Portland (and the areas close-by) is completely FILLED with great date opportunities for you and your sweetie to reconnect and adventure.  

Here's a list of 50 free summer date ideas (and around) in Portland this summer:

Soak together

There are TONS of incredible hot springs near Portland and across the state.  Hike in and soak with your special someone!  Here's a great list with a map!

Eat local

If you're a foodie you know Portland is a great place to eat.  But the summer produce from local farmers makes it even better for food-inspired folks.  Go to any of the farmer's markets to taste or challenge yourself to see new parts of town by attending all the markets on this map this summer.

Watch a movie

Portland parks shows free movies all over the city three and four nights a week.  Bring a blanket and your favorite movie snacks and watch a silly show with your neighbors.  Here's the whole list.

You can also attend the rooftop movies at Hotel DeLuxfor a more grown up movie night.

Go swimming

There are over 6000 lakes in Oregon.  Start with a visit to any of the lakes on this list of 60 great summer swimming spots!

You can also attend the Chunky Dunk, or Naked Goddess Swim, if that floats your boat.

Picnic in the parks

One of my creative couples started checking off a list of every park in Portland last summer.  Their goal?  Visit every park with a picnic basket.  There are 279 parks in town- so this adventure list could keep you busy for a while!

Attend the symphony

Oregon Symphony puts on a show at Tom McCall Waterfront park for 20,000 Portlanders every summer.  You should check it out.  Here's the deets.

The Portland Festival Symphony puts on five additional shows in various parks throughout the city.  Check out the listing here.

River Festival

Free music and performances at the gorgeous Cathedral Park.  Come dance with your sweetie and celebrate how beautiful the Willamette is!

Eat some berries

Oregon overflows with berries in the summer and there are a lot of fun ways to eat them.  Attend the berry festival, go to u-pick farms near town, or wander one of the great berry picking spots off trails with your honey.

Beachcombing

Oregon is one of the best places to beach comb around.  Head to the coast at any of these spots to find agates, jasper, shells and more.

Street Fairs

I cannot believe how many neighborhood street fairs happen in Portland.  It seems like there's one every weekend.  If you've missed the early ones this summer don't worry you can still check out any of these:

Clinton/Division Street Fair

Fremont Fest Street Fair

Mississippi Street Fair

Soapbox Derby

Yes, Portland is home to an annual Adult Soapbox Derby, and if you get there early enough you can watch other adults zoom past- narrowly avoiding fate with hundreds of other onlookers.

Dessert date

Pix patisserie hosts Wednesday beer garden movie nights with free popcorn all summer.  Get something sweet for your sweetie.

Vegas in Portland

Tony Starlight is Portland's best answer to the glory of old Las Vegas.  You can pay for a show throughout the year, or attend the free Fernhill Park show this July.

Support state parks

My partner and I started this adventure list a while ago and it has given us so many beautiful days.  Support the state parks by hiking, camping, fishing, riding through or cleaning up any of the parks listed here.

Concert lunch date

Pioneer Square hosts noon concerts all summer.  Meet your sweetie for a nooner lunch date and check out the show.

Mermaid Parade

Either attend or dress yourselves up (or both) for the mermaid parade this year.  That simple- Mermaid pride!

Smell the roses

If you're into flowers- but not able to buy them consider a trip to the rose garden.  There are thousands of flowers for you and your sweetheart to choose favorites from.  

Obon Festival

The Oregon Buddhist Temple shares a traditional Japanese holiday with Portland each year.  Bring your sweetie and try something different.

See some art

Portland is such a great city for artists.  You can support art in every neighborhood.  Attend Last Thursday on Alberta, or First Thursday in the Pearl.  Or go to one of the free days at the Portland Art Museum.

Fossil Festival

Attend the Northwests Largest Fossil Festival and geek out together over the incredible diversity of rocks, gemstones, and fossils found in our home state.

Go for a ride

Portland Parkways is a program held by Portland Parks and Rec every year to quiet a neighborhood and give space for pedal-powered riders.  Bring your bike and a lunch and watch a zillion toddlers learn to pedal.  

Float the river

There are so many ways to float the rivers in and near portland.  You could attend the Big Float in town or head outside the city to float the Clackamas or the Sandy River.

India Festival

Celebrate Indian cultural heritage with other Portlanders at Pioneer Park- it's totally free.  

Nude not lewd

If your relationship is ready for public nudity, there are two clothing-optional beaches near Portland, Collins on Sauvies and Rooster Rock.  Both have cheap day-use fees ($5 and $7 respectively) so you can really soak in the sun.

Highland Games

Okay, it's not free- but it sounded so fun I had to include it.  Attend the Scottish Highland Games in Greshambecause it's that fun.

Take a hike

Oregon is arguably the most beautiful state to live in.  Get outside together to enjoy the beauty!  Here's a list of 75 awesome day hikes in driving distance of Portland.


 positive psychology | couples retreat | relationship coach | couples coach

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC has helped thousands of couples review their growth together, and renew their connection moving forward. 

For nearly 15 years she's specialized in strengths-focused, positive psychology-based relationship advice and coaching to nurture lasting joy and and resilience in her client's relationships.  

She will help you:

  • develop a shared vision and goals- and create actionable steps to move in that direction
  • overcome outdated patterns and establish new intentional, healthy ones
  • strengthen trust or repair it after infidelity or dishonesty
  • connect in meaningful ways during and well after life transitions
  • design rituals of connection that will keep you close for many years
  • break stale or unhealthy communication patterns and learn new skills 

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Top Ten Reasons to See a Relationship Coach

Relationship coaching helps couples reflect and take intentional action to create relationships filled with happiness, connection, and shared vision.  It is a little different from couples counseling, only in that it is very forward thinking, positive, and action-oriented.  I blend counseling and coaching in my work

There are many reasons couples decide to start working with me.  Here are ten of the most common:

1.  Sweethearts considering marriage.

Pre-marital counseling and coaching is some of my favorite work.  You know you want to be together, now, the question is, HOW do you want to be together?  What kind of future do you want to build?  How will you navigate life changes with grace?  Working with a relationship coach can help you get clear about the life you want to build as a committed couple.

2.  Keeping the relationship fulfilling long term.  

You have probably heard me say it already, every relationship needs a tune up from time to time.  Keeping your relationship a priority amid the many responsibilities and obligations that come up can be difficult.  It's not uncommon to lose a little luster over time.   Couples coaching can help provide time to re-assess how to sustainably keep the home fires burning for a long long time.

3.  Getting back together after taking a break.

Little known fact: LOTS of couples break up and get back together.  When you are deciding to return to partnership it can be really helpful to work with a relationship coach to both repair any gaps from your break, and work on forgiveness.  Your relationship coach will also help you determine how you want to move forward together.

4.  Thinking about becoming parents.

Parenting is an amazing journey, but it isn't for everyone and co-parenting doesn't come naturally.  Who do you want to be as a parent?  Is parenting something you both really want?  When you and your partner are ready to start thinking about a family it can be a good time to bring in a coach as a facilitator to help guide you through the decision-making and planning processes.

5.  Starting a business with your life partner.  

So we know you and your partner have great ideas and can manage projects together well (that home remodel looks beautiful!) but are you ready to start a business together?  And if you are, how will you maintain your relationship strength as your business dreams come true?  Contact a relationship coach to help you as a consultant for your business partnership when it's also our romance partner!

6.  Opening your relationship to non-monogamy.

Polyamory and open relationships are much more common than people think.  However, because we have strong cultural taboos around talking about open relationships, most couples are without support as they begin conversations about openness.  You can find poly-friendly relationship coaches and couples or marriage counselors in the national Poly-friendly Professionals or the Open List.  You can find me there too!

7.  Adventuring in new sexual or sensual territory.

Dan Savage coined the phrase GGG meaning one should strive to be good in bed, giving "equal time and equal pleasure" to one's partner, and game "for anything—within reason."for things sexually and sensually.  For some people meeting this GGG standard is not easily done.  Working with a relationship coach or couples counselor could help you and your partner explore new sensual connections and be even stronger together in the bedroom (and wherever else these adventures take you).  Check the Kink-Aware Professionals national listing for a sex-positive (non-judgmental) provider near you.

8.  Repairing a relationship after an affair.  

An affair doesn't necessarily mean you have to end your relationship.  Many couples decide to stay together.  However, repairing from a violation of trust can require professional support.  Contact a relationship counselor or couples coach to help you rebuild connection and trust and decide if staying together is the best option for you.

9.  Re-imagining the relationship after things go blah.

Lets face it, relationships take work and it is not easy to razzle-dazzle your partner every day (nor is it a realistic expectation).  Work with a relationship coach or couples counselor to help reignite that spark and fascination that brought you together in the first place.

10.  Deciding to move in together.

I have worked with many couples deciding if and when to move in together.  Many people struggle with questions of balance  privacy, space, and independence during these conversations.  It can be very helpful to have a neutral party's support and guidance as you transition to or from living together.

The bottom line is, if you are going to stay together for a long time, you are going to weather many changes to your life and relationship.  Relationship coaching is like a vitamin boost for your relationship's health during times of stress and transition.  Why not give it a try?

52 Cheap (and FREE) Portland Dates Your Sweetheart Will LOVE

Have you run out of date ideas?  It's okay, at some point all amazing relationship artists lose inspiration and steam.  All you have to do to get it back it be open to trying something new, and have a sweetheart who is willing to join you for an adventure.

Do you have those two ingredients?  Great, then read on if you use this as a weekly checklist you should have date ideas for a year!

Let me know in the comments how the dates go!

1.  Go to the library and check out each of your favorite bedtime stories from childhood.  Take turns reading to each other at night- be sure to share the memories you have of reading them as a kid!

2.  Check your Portland City Parks for free summer outdoor movies.  Even if you've seen it before, pack a blanket and some homemade treats for the show!

3.  Check out a star map from the library (or download the free google sky app) and lay under the stars with your sweetie.  Make a wish on a falling star!

4.  Go to McMenamins Edgefield for the afternoon and wander their gardens.  Really, they are beautiful grounds for a picnic or stroll.

5.  Watch the roses bloom in the Rose Garden.  Go in May for the best blooms, or check out other parts fo the park the rest of the year!

6.  Pick (at least) one theme ride from the June Pedalpalooza (I recommend Star Wars vs Star Trek) and take your sweetie for a ride.

7.  Watch the full moon rise together.  Just you two, the moon and a blanket and watch what happens....

8.  Grab your pillows and attend National Pillow Fight Day downtown.  Watch your sweetie kick some feather-filled booty!

9.  Go to the Portland Art Museum on the monthly fourth Friday free admission day.  Find a piece that inspires you and tell your honey what makes it stand out or find a piece that reminds you of them and tell them why.

10.  Check out the Powell's City of Books events calendar to find an author that interest you (or better yet, your date).  They have delicious double chocolate cookies in their coffee shop- take a sweet treat to a reading or two!

11.  Watch the meteor showers.  Make a wish on a falling star!

12.  Have you watched the swifts?  his September thousands of birds will migrate to NW Portland, and you and your sweetie will join hundreds of other Portlanders with picnic blankets to watch the swarm dance.  I promise, if nothing else, the crowd watching is worth it.

13.  Play bingo together.  Cheap grilled cheese and large colored markers.  Need I say more?  Try the East Portland Eagles Lodge, or make a list of all the bingo locations and check them off one by one!

14.  Ride or bike out to Sauvie Island to pick berries.  If you can't make it all the way to Sauvie, the Oregon Berry Festival might be closer!

15.  And after picking berries, go to the nude beach on the northwest tip of Sauvie Island.

16.  If you stay there long enough, you can play in the pumpkin patch.  Take a hay ride, pick a pumpkin, carve a pumpkin, eat funnel cakes, drink cider and have a cozy fall date with your honey!

17. Is your baby a jazz fan?  Take them to the free Cathedral Park Jazz festival and dance the night away.

18.  Portland Actors Ensemble puts on free performances all summer.  Shakespeare anyone?

19.  Have you heard of Kick Ass Oregon History?  Lets just say this is not the history lecture you remember in high school.  These are talks about piracy, sex workers, adultery, and extortion and they are all true about our home town!  Plus they are laced with profanity and take place in a secret basement bar.  Take your sweetie for a history lesson.

20.  The city of Portland hosts concerts in city parks almost every day all summer.  Check this list of concerts in the park, then hit New Seasons deli and you have a beautiful (cheap) concert date.

21.  Take a brewery tour.  Free tours, good drinks, and you will learn a lot about where your beer comes from!

22.  Make a list of five books that changed each of your lives and spend the winter cozy together reading and reviewing the list!

23.  The Oregon Rail Heritage Museum is open and admission is donation only.  All aboard!

24.  Baskin Robbins offers $1 child size cones on Tuesdays.  Check your store for participation or go to Ben and Jerry's for their regular free cone events!

25.  Check out the concert lineup at Sundown at Ecotrust and take a walk over!

26.  If you haven't had enough outdoor summer concerts yet, try the Wednesday Music on Mainstreet series downtown with your honey.  Don't forget to dance!

27.  Do you know how to play chess?  If not, you can learn here and ten teach your partner with the huge pieces at Director Park, or on one of the sets at Anna Banana's Cafe.

28.  If wellness is your honey's thing, take them to Director Park for their Wednesday free Nia Dance class.

29.  More edible (and delicious) mushrooms grow in the Pacific Northwest than anywhere else.  Join the Oregon Mycological Society on one of their fall foraging hikes and see what you two can cook up afterwards!

30.  Even on a tight budget, you can go to the symphony.  Portland Symphony hosts free concerts in the park regularly.  So get dressed up and go!

31.  Make a list of all the farmer's markets in town and attend one a week.  each week challenge yourself to try something new, or bring something new home and learn to cook with it!

32.  Is your sweetie a super hero in training?  Try out the climbing wall in Portland Parks for free climbing for beginners.

33.  Of all the strange (and donation-only) events in Portland, the annual Oregon Humane Society Portland Pug Crawl is one of my favorites.  Take your sweetie to one of the more unusual (thousands of tiny snorting dogs, in costume, at a brewery) events you will ever enjoy together!

34.  Do the Naked Bike Ride together.  At least once.  Just do it.

35.  Make a list of your date's ten favorite movies and then schedule a weekly date night to watch them together.  Rent, netflix, or borrow them from the library.

36.  Try meditation.  There are MANY free meditation sessions throughout the city.  See what comes up in silence for each of you!

37.  If you like garlic, both Festa Italiana and the Oregon Garlic Festival are free in downtown Portland!  Just make sure you bring breath mints!

38.  Free art festivals on the First Thursday and Last Thursday of each month might inspire your own artwork.  First Thursday is in the Northwest Pearl Neighborhood, Last Thursday has a lot more energy and is on Alberta.

39.  Backspace hosts Sunday night Portland Poetry Slam all year.  Go early for a bite, or to write your own piece for the open mic and share your loving words with the whole audience!

40.  Make a list of food carts you have each been hoping to try and start crossing them off on date night when you can.  Cheaper eats and adventure guaranteed!

41.  This city is covered in free public art.  Print the map in this link (or save it on your phone) and take your sweetie on a scavenger hunt for public art of Portland.

42.  Watch some old Wild Kingdom episodes on the internet and make a list of the most interesting animals you see.  Then go to the Oregon Zoo together for $4 on the second Tuesday of any month.  Make sure you see each of your favorite furry (or feathered) friends!

43.  Take your honey to the Museum of Contemporary Craft on the first Thursday of every month for free day.  Get inspired and come home crafty!

44.  Check out the Portland Swap Meet and see what inspires you and your sweetie!

45.  Among other amazing weird events keeping Portland weird, the Adult Soapbox Derby has been going strong for nearly 20 years. Design your own (even if you don't build it) and take your sweetheart to cheer the races!

46.  Portland is one of the most vegan-friendly towns in the US.  Why not try it for a week, the two of you and see how it goes?  Try Vegan Week is an annual event with meet ups and recipes for anyone wanting to give it a go!

47.  Are you a cyclist?  Not only is PDX great for vegans, its one of the most bike-friendly towns around too!  Even if you don't ride, I guarantee the Twilight Crit will entertain you and your date as super fast cyclists speed past you in the night.  If a leisurely daytime ride is more your pace, check out the Portland Parks Sunday Parkways and pedal with half your neighborhood!

48.  You may have noticed hoards of Santas roaming the streets of Portland every December.  Santacon is a bar crawl with a ton of other events where all you need is a red shirt and a Santa hat (you can make your own too!) certain to keep you two smiling.

49.  Leach Botanical Gardens hosts (free for adults) Honey Bee Hikes where you can see wildlife, look at the gardens, and create crafts together.  If you can't make it there, Portland Parks also has regular Ladybug Walks with the same kind of fun!

50.  A couple who stretches together stays together.  So try yoga at one of the free/low cost yoga studios all around Portland.

51.  Play Top Chef in your pantry together!  Dig to the back and pull out three things you never really use.  Now see what you can make together from the mystery box in your own kitchen!

52.  Hike Forest Park.  Even in winter this can be a great spot for you to enjoy the rain and get wet together!

I hope you have wonderful dates all year.  Let me know how your dates go in the comments below!