For Great Relationships, Ask Better Questions!


Types of questions that help grow and nurture great    relationships include:

  1. Questions that start with WHAT or HOW, such as “How could I really help make this situation better?”
  2. Questions that include both people in the relationship, such as “What can WE do to help make our marriage great?”
  3. Questions that give your partner the benefit of the doubt, such as “What could my wife be needing that I am missing?”

Avoid WHY questions and YES/NO questions in order to get the best answers.


If you would like the100 Questions to Ask Your Partner on Date Night,” please click here.


Here’s to amazing relationships!

Marriage After An Affair

Life after an Affair Marriage CoachingHow do you move forward in your marriage after an affair?

This is a question I have been asked many times as a relationship coach. I have worked with couples who decide to divorce after 20 years of marriage as well as couples who, during the coaching process, discover how to create the marriage they never had!

To move forward, couples need to consider the following after an affair….before they make the decision split or stay.

1. Understand what REALLY created the affair. Unmet emotional needs drive human behavior. For example, when a spouse does not feel like they matter to their partner, they search for significance elsewhere, such as through children, family, work or an affair. When both parties learn how to meet their own emotional needs more effectively as well as be supportive to their partner’s emotional needs, less desire to wander elsewhere occurs.

2. Consider how YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE both nurtured, poisoned or neglected the relationship. Just as a plant needs tending in order to grow, and can die from poison or neglect, so can a relationship. One partner may be poisoning the relationship with poor relationship habits, however, the other person who is shutting down or avoiding conflict is neglecting the relationship. Neglect kills plants just as much as poison! The good news is that poor relationship habits often have very little to do with the amount of love that is between the couple.

3. Decide to commit to doing the work! If you and your partner want to have a fulfilling marriage, get clear about what creates lasting change. Work with a coach to gain tools to have a different focus, a different meaning and a shift in your state of being so that you both “show up” differently in order to move forward. Just as time and attention to your career, coupled with effective work strategies, can produce success, relationships are no different. Just thinking positive or having good intentions do not produce lasting results!

4. Do what it takes to rebuild trust. Dr. John Gottman, the well-respected professor emeritus at the University of Washington, describes how building trust happens in the little moments between partners. For example, during conflict, couples can choose to turn toward their partner, instead of turning away, placing the relationship before self.

5. Forgive. (I know this one word can be taken to so many extremes and interpretations!) BOTH partners need to create a full understanding of what forgiveness REALLY encompasses AND then daily decide forgiveness of self and your partner. Blame only stifles progress toward having the marriage you want. Remember what you put out into the world will come back to you.

6. Decide what the affair means for your life. Do you choose to allow the affair to be devastation and you the victim? Or… was this affair a wake-up call for your marriage? Do you and your partner have the courage to face discomfort in order to have the marriage you both want with each other???

If you have any questions regarding the above information, or would like to create a passionately intimate marriage, feel free to contact Kim at Choose true fulfillment and amazing relationships!

Domestic violence and substance abuse need additional treatment before such considerations will be safe or effective.

Ten Tips to a Happier Marriage

Every marriage experiences challenges. However, the stronger the marriage, the greater the ability to get through and grow from those life challenges. Here are ten tips for a happier, stronger marriage that can thrive despite circumstances.

  1. Notice your spouse’s positive attributes and efforts to make you happy. Choose to interpret your partner’s (imperfect) actions as ways to make you happy. Thank them for what they bring to the marriage WITHOUT saying “Thank you, but…” Most people have good intentions even when their actions miss the mark….even YOU! Appreciate your spouse more mindfully. (Warning: This skill, when learned completely, can create a real shift for marriages!!!)
  1. Let go of a “pay-back” mentality. A pay-back mentality includes actions such as withholding sex, money, affection, attention, communication. We tend to get what we put into relationships, and revenge/resentment is like poison to a relationship.
  1. Put your spouse FIRST. Avoid letting less important busy-ness get in the way of your relationship and remember that your spouse’s concerns are your concerns. When each partner mutually focus on committing to the other in an unconditional way, a much deeper love can grow.
  1. Remember your good manners or good marriage habits. Consider the manners and habits you each had when you first met. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ as well as spending a few minutes each day connecting, bringing your spouse coffee or always ending the day with a kiss are small ways to send a BIG message that you care. Love as ACTION vs. a feeling makes for great marriages!
  1. Remember that it takes TWO people to make a relationship. In order to create a great marriage, you each have to get really honest about how YOU have contributed to the current state of affairs. Your partner may shut down but possibly due to your critical nature??? Blaming the other person keeps your relationship from moving forward. Apologize for YOUR actions and begin to see your spouse begin to make changes as well.
  1. Laugh and spend time having fun together. Sometimes what seems like a lack of passion is just a matter of spending time rediscovering why you both were attracted to each other in the first place. Increasing physical touch and affection can also recreate that connection. Giving time and attention to your relationship may be what it takes to begin to rekindle the flame and go to the next level in your marriage.
  1. Listen…without getting defensive or wanting to blame, rationalize or avoiding conflict. Really hearing what your spouse is trying to say (rather imperfectly at times) requires a commitment on your part to not engage in poor listening habits. When you become defensive, blame or try to avoid the problem so it will just go away, you are not truly hearing from a place of love, empathy and commitment.
  1. Avoid spending time with “bad examples.” Family, media, or friends who do not support a strong, loving relationship between you and your spouse may not have your best interest at heart. What emotional needs are trying to get met through others? How is that impacting your relationship?
  1. Stop criticizing and demanding your partner to change. The Pursue/Withdrawal cycle does nothing but cause frustration, resentment and further shutting down. What is the purpose of your controlling behavior? What behavior do YOU need to change?
  1. If you want a better marriage, let it begin with YOU. Waiting for your partner to do better will only lead to disappointment. Let go of false pride. The next time your interactions with your spouse go awry, hit the RESET BUTTON! Choose emotional maturity, and be the one to take the first steps to a happier marriage NOW!*


*Domestic violence and active alcohol/substance abuse require immediate medical attention.


The Mistaken Thought That May Be Keeping You Stressed

Imperfection Bedhead

In working with lots of successful but stressed out individuals and couples, one thought pattern that seems to prevail is the pursuit of perfection….whether it is perfection or “shoulds” in themselves, their spouse, co-workers, children, personal belongings, body image, an event or a task.

So does this mean that you should never try to succeed? No!

You can choose to strive toward EXCELLENCE vs. perfection.

 The need to be perfect comes from a place of low self-worth and “I am not enough” while striving for excellence comes from a place of integrity, wanting to give 100% yet having compassion for yourself and others (with maybe a bit of humor) when you don’t hit the mark.

How you can tell if you are mistakenly choosing perfection:

  • You may not try something at all because you are afraid to fail.
  • You avoid doing tasks outside of your comfort zone.
  • You tell yourself you need more of something.
  • You say YES to more than is helpful and become overwhelmed.
  • You procrastinate.
  • Your need to accomplish something at all cost compromises your other values.
  • You allow other people to disappoint you.
  • You get very stressed and anxious.
  • You blame others or something else for not accomplishing your goal.
  • You use the word “should” a lot.
  • You give up.

The benefits of choosing excellence:

  • You are less stressed.
  • You are choosing authenticity and integrity.
  • You are resourceful without compromising your values.
  • You appreciate others’ differences.
  • You can more fully enjoy and engage in the present moment.
  • You have better relationships with others.
  • You are more open to possibility and opportunities otherwise not seen if more stressed.
  • You experience more gratitude and need less.
  • You exercise more courage, thus are more likely to create a more meaningful life.
  • You utilize your sense of humor and laughter more, which can help create a longer life.

So, the next time you want to do something, whether it is take up an art class, improve a relationship, throw a party, take on a project with a team at work, get healthier, or deal with a bad hair day, choose to take a deep breath and work toward excellence while seeing the beauty in the challenge….the obstacles…and the imperfect.

How to Deal with “WINTER” in Your Relationship

couple walking in snowI have to be honest……winter is truly NOT my favorite season! However, having moved across the country a few years ago to an area that has a pretty harsh winter for approximately 7 months out of the year, I had to rethink this whole winter thing! (It doesn’t help that my husband loves winter and gets excited when it is 44 degrees BELOW zero!) No longer could I make excuses about not doing something because it was cold and snowy. Otherwise, I would rarely do anything! Ha!

So, I now make sure that I have LOTS of brightly-colored cold weather gear, pursue activities that involve snow – such as snowshoeing, walking my dogs in snow, and ice fishing (well, socializing while others actually ice fish!!!). I cannot say, that during a blizzard, I haven’t chosen a pajama day here or there, however, I have had to be more conscientious of my attitude and choices I make in order to keep my internal weather sunny and warm!

Our relationships are much the same way. As a marriage coach, I work with couples who feel they are truly in the “winter” of their relationship and see no sunny, spring days ahead. They can only see their partner’s hurtful behaviors, lack of ability to communicate, or lack of attention. Often, both partners feel they no longer really matter to the other partner, despite love that may still be present. And passion???? Well, what is that?

As I have stated in previous posts, amazing relationships are more about the habits that are created than love. Love is usually not the issue. The patterns of behavior, or habits couples choose, allow the marriage to thrive or hurt the marriage.

Couples, who are smart and successful in other areas of their lives,  sometimes unknowingly choose to neglect or poison their most intimate relationships with nasty relationship habits. According to John Gottman, a well-known researcher regarding marriage, he has found four key behaviors that are detrimental to relationships. These behaviors are SO detrimental to relationships that Gottman has been able to predict marriages that thrive vs. fail over time.

These 4 behaviors that truly promote “winter” in relationships, if not the death of the relationship, include:

  1. Criticism – Focusing on one person being right and the other person as wrong or using phrases such as “you should,” “you never,” you always.
  2. Contemptuous behavior – rolling eyes, name-calling, cursing, insults, sarcasm, hostile humor, curling upper lip.
  3. Defensiveness – Viewing self as the victim and partner as the attacker, making excuses for your behavior, cross-complaining and ignoring what your partner has said, or “yes, butting.”
  4. Stonewalling -Changing the subject, walking away to avoid conflict, silent treatment. Partner perceives it as disconnection, disapproval, and that their thoughts and feelings do not matter.

The good news is that when both partners begin to:

1. Avoid harmful communication habits when expressing wants
and needs.

2. Focus primarily on meeting their partner’s emotional needs (as
explained in a future post!)…..cherishing their partner,

the marriage begins to shift in lasting ways.

Then the winter weather is lifted…and, as they begin to see light on the horizon, even more momentum with other concepts and skills can take them out of winter….into Spring!



Should You Stay or Go?

3 giftsHere it is….the holiday season. For some people, cheer is nowhere to be found. The thought of giving gifts and celebrating with family and friends only seems to accentuate loneliness, anger, and hurt. Life feels too complicated to even consider feeling merry about anything.

All you know is that you are ready to leave your marriage. You feel pain at the thought of such a loss, but the pain you have endured for so long has to stop. You have lost your identity. You don’t feel you matter nor do you like the person you have become. You think you have tried everything to make life better between you and your partner.

What if there was still one more “try” that could save you from:

The expenses of a divorce.
Heartache from making the same mistakes again.
Going against your core values of love, family and commitment.
Bitterness and anger that doesn’t leave when your partner does.
The very negative impact on your kids and family.

In working with couples on the brink of divorce, the issues are rarely about how much love is present, but about good people choosing relationship habits that can destroy the relationship. You can leave a marriage, but you do not leave your habits behind. Instead, you take those habits into the next relationship or decide to give up on believing that a strong, loving marriage is even possible.

Common responses for couples who are stuck in a vicious cycle include:

“He won’t change.”
“She is such a nag.”
“My partner won’t participate.”
“I cannot trust my partner anymore.”
“My partner is so selfish.”
“I am not sure I WANT to be with my partner anymore.”

Sound familiar?
So, consider hiring a relationship coach who can help you take action and bring the essence of your relationship to the surface in order for you to live in such a way that you positively impact yourself, your marriage, your family as well as other areas of your life. The ripple effects from such a GIFT could go past your lifetime!



How to Create a Vision for Your Relationship

scary kimOkay…..your eyes are not playing tricks on you….this picture is not only a “not-so-great” version of me, but it is truly out of focus. My youngest son had to endure hanging out at the hair salon one day, and boredom got the best of him. He found the camera in my purse and became totally focused on taking pictures of anything and everything!
This picture has become a funny reminder to me that our vision for our life can be much the same way. Sometimes we have “fuzzy focus.” We aren’t really sure about what we truly want. We make choices, do what we feel we “should” do, and then wake up one day, wondering why we are so unfulfilled. We often know what we DON’T want, not what we DO want. However, when we gain more clarity of our life’s vision, we begin to make intentional choices that ultimately create more fulfillment and meaning in our lives.
Also,  in the midst of doing what it takes to create that life we envision, our “TO DO” list becomes difficult or scary (much like my picture…beauty has its “down” moments!). We want to give up before we even get started. Showing up in a way that we want to be and following through ALL THE WAY TO THE FINISH is not always easy, but do not be discouraged! Sometimes, we have to go through uncertainty before we can get to the outcome we want! (Just imagine if I had become discouraged about my new hairdo before my stylist had completely finished. Now, THAT is a scary thought!!!!)
The same holds true for the vision you and your partner create together….what you want your relationship to be like in this world. Sometimes difficult conversations are necessary and new skills are needed, because the old habits no longer work for the relationship.
To take the first steps toward a vision for your relationship, ask yourself and your mate the following questions:

1. What is already working in the relationship?

2. What do each of you want for this marriage?

3. What will that give your relationship?

4. How do YOU want to show up in this relationship?

5. What would support this identity for you?

6. What would you like to start happening and stop happening in your relationship right now?

7. What talents, strengths, and gifts does your spouse contribute to the relationship?

8. What strengths and values do YOU have that could contribute MORE to the relationship?

9. What resources and alternatives could help empower this vision you both have?

10. What would these changes mean for you, your spouse, and others in your life? 

So, don’t let your relationship continue to look like my “bad hair-do” photo. Take some time to reflect on these questions with the one you love!

“A vision we give to [ourselves] of who and what [we] could become has power when it echoes what the spirit has already spoken into [our] souls.” ~Larry Crabb

3 Key Questions to Ask Your Partner to Ensure a Happy Relationship

couple on beachHealthy relationships are not just about how much love is/is not present, but about habits we create in that relationship. One habit change that can be quite powerful is to replace “going to anger” or “shutting down” during conflict with a weekly habit of partners asking three questions*.
1. Is there anything that I need to apologize for?
2. Is there anything you need from me that you’re not getting?
3. How can I be a better partner?Be open to really hearing what your partner is trying to say.

Change your habits and you’ll change your relationships!

*Click here to read Karen O’Connor’s full post.

Secrets to Growing a Healthy Relationship

We know that to grow a tiny seed, DAILY care is necessary. For relationships to grow and not become stagnant or even fractured, several key factors must be a part of that care.
Sprout.According to research by John Gottman, one key factor is described as “turning toward each other.” That factor is described as the number of “bids” each person makes in the marriage for their partner’s attention, affection, humor or support….those tiny moments when we CHOOSE to turn toward our partner instead of away from them. Examples can include bringing your partner their coffee or choosing loving humor instead of choosing to fight. 
Those little doses of “care” about each other can make the difference between a healthy, intimate relationship and being roommates or adversaries. So, how does your garden grow? What tiny moments are you choosing to turn toward your spouse? Enjoy seeing the fruits of your labor!
“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.”
~Tony Robbins