communication skills

Relationship Skills Practice: Healthy Boundaries With People Outside Your Relationship

Every few weeks I share easy tips to keep your relationship fresh and connected.

I draw from the best research in healthy relationships to help you grow the kind of love and intimacy you really want.

Love is built in the tiniest of moments and smallest interactions we share. Use these simple tools to improve your relationship in under ten minutes a week.

Each video includes a free downloadable PDF worksheet or reflection guide to help you keep the energy and momentum going. To get a copy of the worksheets sign up here.

If you need help implementing these, or have questions about how to adapt them to your style, please let me know. I’m happy to help you create stronger connections.

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THIS WEEK’S PRACTICE


Today we’re talking about how to have healthy boundaries with people outside your relationship. I’m going to share five basic guidelines that help my clients navigate boundaries with other people to avoid secrecy and infidelity.

Here’s how to navigate situations with your ex or your crush without threatening your current partner.

Basic healthy boundaries guidelines (in “don’t” format):

  • Don’t be unclear about your boundaries and expectations.

  • Don’t toe the line.

  • Don’t withhold information.

  • Don’t be sneaky.

  • Don’t get defensive.

Watch the video for more details and schedule a free consultation with me if you’re interested in learning more.

REFLECTION

  • How can I build more openness in my relationship to talk about people I find inspiring or interesting?

  • How can I be more open to hearing about my partner’s new crushes, attractions, interests, and inspirations without feeling threatened?

  • What can I do to interrupt myself if I feel sneaky, withholding, or defensive?

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KEEP IT UP

The truth about long-term relationships is (even though we may not want to admit it) we all get a little lazy about our communication and tending to our connection as the years pass.

We’re often highly attentive, intentional and attuned in the early phases of relationship. But as we build a life we can get caught up in other details, day-to-day hustle, career-building, and parenting- and get distracted from prioritizing our partnerships.

There’s nothing wrong with you or your relationship if this happens, but if (when) it does, use it as a call to action for the two of you to re-prioritize practices like these. Habits are changed only with attention, so use these tools to pay closer attention to your sweetie and your relationship.

Most of these exercises are designed to take under ten minutes. If you want to integrate them into a regular practice, try committing to them on a more regular basis and keep them in regular rotation even after you receive the next practice.

It’s not going to hurt you to have extra opportunities for connection and meaning.

And if you fall out of practice don’t lose heart- you can always start again. Just make sure you do.

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Finally, if you notice you have some internal resistance to these practices or tips stay curious about it. Often the things we resist have a lot to each us.

Notice if you just aren’t getting around to connecting with your partner or if you really don’t want to try these tools and tips with them and ask yourself what that’s all about. If you want support building self-awareness around your resistance, or creating a vision of change, I’m here to help.


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Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in healthy communication, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

She leads workshops and couples retreats in the Midwestern United States and Pacific Northwest and consults with clients online.

Access her free Relationship Resource Toolbox here, or join her next FREE Monthly Relationships Masterclass coaching call.

Connect with her on social media or schedule a free consultation to see if her support could help you build more fulfilling, connected partnerships.

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.