Life Coaching for Married Couples: How it Can Help

When one hears the term “life coaching,” it can have a very different connotation than other forms of counseling. Especially that of marriage or relationship counseling, which is generally considered to be a deeper, more personal experience than that of a life coach. As well as focusing specifically on a couple’s communication with one another.

But did you know that couples all across the country are receiving positive results from their joint life coaching sessions? While the terms might have gotten muddled down along the way, life coaching is actually a viable options for couples of all statuses. Whether you’ve been together a few months or decades, a life coach can bring the insight needed to help your relationship succeed. In whatever capacity that’s preferred.

Why a Life Coach?

Life coaches have an immense amount of experience dealing with others on a personal level. Including finding a proper way to help them help themselves. Whether done as a couple or in separate sessions, life coaching can be just the cure your relationship needs to get past whatever rough patch it’s been going through. Additionally, a life coach can help you work on other areas of your life — whether as a couple or separately. By intermingling these topics, many couples have been able to find more success and in quicker fashion. Rather than just working on the relationship itself, they’re able to find positive movement in various areas of life.

While it might be the first go-to practice that comes to mind when thinking about relationship work, life coaching can be a great way to bridge communication gaps without cutting off other aspects of one’s life.

To learn more or get started today, head to our marriage and relationship page.

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Marriage Counseling Austin: Being Clear about Sex

In marriage counseling sessions, couples many times express sincere attempts to be tactful, to be “nice.” There’s nothing wrong with being kind, thoughtful, and considerate, we should all be. There’s also a time to be clear, to be firm with one’s partner in all of your interactions, yes, even when it comes to sex. Following is an edited conversation in couples counseling I had with a client who wasn’t very happy with her partner.

In the movie, “The Notebook” Noah (Ryan Gosling) asks Allie (Rachel McAdams, “What do you want.” Her response “It’s not that simple,” is what many people who spend their lives living for whatever everybody else wants fail to ask themselves.

Marriage Counseling Austin:

Client: My husband doesn’t get it about sex.

Coach: How so?

Client: He thinks groping equals foreplay.

Coach: What have you done about it?

Client: I’ve tried explaining nicely that I need a connection with him first. I feel guilty, is there something wrong with me sexually?

Coach: Sometimes a woman needs to be much more direct with her man. He’s not listening, but that’s his problem, your job is to make sure you’re very clear what you like and what you will not tolerate.

Client: But that doesn’t sound very nice.

Coach: You’re right, sometimes people can’t hear “nice” so you have to be firm.

Client: But maybe there’s something wrong with me.

Coach: There is, you’re not asserting yourself. Quite often, men understand one thing when it comes to sex, “me want, me get.” It’s different for women, you have a need to feel connected, to feel sexy and attractive, to feel loved and safe. There’s nothing wrong with this, you need to honor your own sexuality. Stop getting your cues about what is right or wrong from anyone else; listen to your own instinct and be an advocate for yourself.

Client: But what if he doesn’t listen to me?

Coach: First make sure you’re speaking loud and clear, you’re not doing that yet. If he still doesn’t get it you need to search for other ways to get past his indifference. Is it okay with you that your partner doesn’t listen to what’s important to you?

Client: No it’s not okay, I need to start being firm!

It won’t be an easy thing for this lady to change what is likely a lifetime habit of being overly tactful, it’ll take work and she’ll likely get push-back from her husband because he’s used to her being a doormat. He will want to keep the arrangement they have developed over the years. Regardless, it’s crucial to both her peace of mind and to the relationship that she change, if she doesn’t her resentment will increase and will spill over into other areas of her marriage and life.

Life Coach Austin, David Cantu

Marriage Counseling Austin 512-653-4316

Love Coaching: Neither One of You is Perfect

Love coaching for a better relationship! It’s an easy thing in relationships to get carried away by the imperfections of your lover. It doesn’t take a lot of skill to point out to your partner what she does wrong and to imagine that the true fault in your love life has much more to do with her than yourself. Love and relationship coaching is about looking at yourself, asking yourself what things you can do to improve your partnership or marriage, and better appreciating how your partner loves you.

One of the things we focus on in love coaching is communication. A key for improved communication is empathy, better understanding your partner’s point of view. People naturally want to express what they do, what they want, what they think. This is well and good, but when it comes to closeness, it’s far more important to put energy into what your partner feels, needs, and wants. This is not to say that your needs are unimportant, rather that the most powerful way for you to get your needs met is to make sure you understand where your partner is coming from. As you better understand her, you make it far more likely that she will want to reciprocate to help meet your needs.

A client recently and expressed frustration that his wife felt unheard and unimportant to him, she told him she felt very little hope that he would ever change. When I asked what his response was to her complaints about him, he said he tried to explain that she was very important to him and that he did listen to her. He went on to say how she then became angry with him. I explained to him that his response was very natural, that he was in the best way he knew trying to reassure her. Then I suggested to him that it was the worst thing he could do and that he made a difficult situation worse. In amazement he asked how that could be so. I told him that basically he had called his wife a liar. In shock he asked “what?” I told him that what he needed to do was appreciate her better by recognizing what she said and acknowledging the truth of her feelings. His response to me was, “but she was wrong!” That idea is what was getting my client in hot water. He sees himself as attentive and as a good listener, but he’s ignoring that she “feels” unimportant and unheard. The fact of whether she’s important to him is not the issue. The moment he defends himself he is in fact telling her that her feelings are wrong. The result is likely to be a fight, tears, blame, withdrawal, and frustration. I gave my client a love coaching homework assignment: “Go home, tell your wife you haven’t been really listening, that you haven’t acknowledged her feelings, that you’re truly sorry, and that as of today you’re going to practice being more attentive.”

Fortunately this client really loves his wife, but he didn’t realize that he was focusing on her imperfections rather than the things she does right. He realized that he was behaving as if his words and actions were truly perfect and all that needed to happen was she needed to listen to him. In the coming weeks, with a bit more tweaking and love coaching, he’s highly likely to become a much better listener. Marriage and family counseling can really help couples. For a marriage counselor, give us a call at 512-653-4316.

Premarital Counseling Questions, Who Are You?

Premarital counseling questions typically include ideas about spirituality, religion, finances, culture, blended families, compatibility and identity. One’s sense of identity directly affects that person’s ideas of compatibility. The reality is we’re unique and at our core we’re the same, we all want happiness, intimacy, and fulfillment in life.

Premarital counseling questions surface many deeply ingrained and cherished beliefs about who we are. But are these images real or a veneer? Yes, you are aware of what you do, what you say, and how you respond to others. But do you honestly observe your thoughts and your feelings? If you believe you are a good, loyal friend to someone you have known for years, do you respond with kindness and support, or do you criticize and avoid them? How do you treat yourself? Are you overly critical, do you overly value yourself, are you controlling, are you a people pleaser, or do you see yourself as you truly are? Honest self-appraisal is difficult habit to implement, you’re likely to delude yourself unintentionally about who you truly are and the true reasons for your habits. This makes it difficult to accomplish your greatest goals.

Marriage counseling questions can help you find out who you truly are by encouraging you see yourself in a more expansive way. Having the courage to try things when you may fail is scary, but will teach you what you are good and not so good at and provide you with clarity about who you are, how to change, and how to be true to yourself. You’ll learn what you want rather than what others around you want. You’ll open yourself to the opportunity to develop your strengths and passions and find others to help you on your life journey. The peace and self-confidence of being self-aware can be yours.

For more information about Couples Premarital Counseling please call us at 512-653-4316

Marriage and Family Counseling Austin

Most client couples prefer to focus on their intimate relationship, but many still contact us for help for the entire family. We ask that children be at least in their teens, our focus with families is the parenting as well as the marriage relationship. We believe that a stable marriage creates a critical foundation for a strong family.

Marriage and family counseling begins with a focus on responsibility. Most couples who come for help emphasize the faults and failures of the partner. While these things can be helpful and we need to know the problems of the marriage for effective family counseling, it’s essential that each person be willing to address his or her own contributions to the breakdown in the relationships. It’s not so much who did what wrong, but what each person can do to improve the situation.

Being good parents is, to say the least, a most rewarding and at the same time challenging task. Parents love their children a great deal and yet find themselves frequently overwhelmed with the tasks of balancing work, a partner’s ideas of child rearing, blending families, and the innumerable demands of running a household. It can be difficult figuring out the line between love and discipline. Is there a line? Parents also have to deal with children who are trying to establish their own identity and balancing that against their experiences as kids. As marriage counselors our aim is not so much to tell you how to be better parents, but to help you expand your ideas of parenting and explore better ways of relating to a partner, or an ex, especially when it comes to children.

Our goal in working with teens can be summoned up in one word: Trust. In order to help your children we focus first on building a relationship of trust by getting to know them and at the same time encouraging them to see themselves and others differently. We find that one of the biggest challenges for young people is confidence and feelings of helplessness in being heard. We help bridge the gap between parents and their children.

For more help with marriage and family counseling, please contact us, we are here to help.

Couples Therapy Questions for Austin Marriage Counseling

How does it work?
Our sessions for couples counseling in austin, or online, is highly interactive. After getting information from a couple we begin by giving feedback and confirming with each person about the appropriateness of the information. Couples will both get information specific to them. It’s practical, personal, and effective. We strive to make each session informative and helpful, we also give specific homework assignments to help couples implement changes.

What if the other partner doesn’t want to come in?
This happens very often with couples. The best approach is let your partner know that the intent is not to “fix him,” but to create a better foundation for the relationship. If your partner thinks it’s your problem, then encourage him to come in and tell us what exactly those problems are so you can get to work on them.

Will it help to come in without a partner?
Yes! Even though a partner is hesitant, or unwilling, we can give you specific ideas about things you can do to implement change in a relationship. It’s a myth that we can’t change other people, we can, we just need the right tools for the job! That said, it’s still an inside job, in other words the more you change yourself, the easier it will be to better influence your partner.

What if the problem is outside influences?
Unfortunately this happens all too often. Rest assured there are things you can do to address these challenges, but your primary problem is often not with the outside influences, but your relationship with your partner. Most of the time the challenge is with how the partner handles those influences, rather than the influences themselves.

Can you help with inter-cultural, inter-racial, gay, or lesbian relationships?
A relationship is a relationship is a relationship. We help people in all walks of life. With a shifting world dynamic people find themselves dating, or marrying people from all parts of the world. We’ve had Russian, Mexican, German, Canadian, English, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian… clients. Well, you get the message. We live in a shrinking world and our Austin marriage counselors have extensive experience coaching couples from any race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. To set up an initial session call us at 512-653-4316, you can also E-Mail David Cantu. For fees go to Affordable Life Coaching and Marriage Counseling Fees page.

Couples Counseling Techniques

Probably the most important couple counseling technique any counselor can use is empathy, the ability to sense and understand what each person is experiencing and feeling throughout the relationship. Without empathy a coach will be distant, the opposite of what is required to gain a person’s, or a couple’s, trust. With trust a couple will find themselves sharing both their darkest secrets and deepest needs, thus giving the counselor the most relevant information needed to best guide them forward.

Maybe the second most important couples counseling technique is the ability to read beyond a couple’s “story,” to decipher those things that are truly relevant and the root cause of their difficulties. Couples have a sense of their problems, but are often blind to their own failures and sometimes fail to see hidden motivations that greatly impact a relationship.

The third most important tool is a willingness to be firm and direct while maintaining compassion and consideration. Knowing that a coach isn’t a 90lb weakling strongly reinforces a persons confidence in him. At the same time, knowing he cares and is considerate makes it easier to deal with painful factors, rather than avoid them.

Motivation and encouragment are indispensable in counseling couples. A good coach works dilligently to create hope and a clear direction for couples to achieve their goals and overcome obstacles. A calm and peaceful demeanor, blended with humor when appropriate, are essential backdrops that make it easier for a couple to cope with serious hardships brought to the surface in a marriage counseling session.

Dozens of other techniques are important, including knowing the most opportune times to deal with certain issues, warning clients of potential dangers, sharing one’s own personal experiences, and being humble enough to acknowledge mistakes.

How to Listen Effectively

Understanding Others Through Healthy Communication


People tend to respond to what others say
with their own thoughts. This is a natural part of the ebb and flow of conversation. However, it often means they aren’t listening.

Even though we all “know” how to listen we often do a poor job of it. True listening takes effort and practice. How will you know you aren’t listening?

  1. The other person keeps repeating herself.
  2. You keep repeating yourself.
  3. You’re angry.
  4. You’re thinking what to say next.
  5. You’re arguing.
  6. You’re convinced the other person is a moron.
  7. You’re being defensive.
  8. The other person says you aren’t listening!

To be a good listener take the following steps:

  1. Be curious and ask questions.
  2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
  3. Look for ways to acknowledge how he’s right.
  4. Don’t become defensive.
  5. When you disagree, state your point directly without criticism.
  6. Avoid “facts” which are irrelevant to the discussion.
  7. Remain calm, remember the other person is merely expressing ideas.
  8. Make it a priority for her to feel understood.

This Friday evening class begins at 6:30 p.m. and goes until 11:30 p.m. The life coaching class is led by David Cantu and Carrie Manongdo. In addition to the participants, assistants who have previously taken the course also attend. A typical class includes ten people. Participants should be at least 16 years old; singles, couples and families are welcome. The fee for the class is “pay as you choose.” Please call (512) 653-4316 or email [email protected] to register.

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What Does Chemistry in a Relationship Mean

Chemistry in a relationship is like a performance; one is electrifying and another is boring. But no matter what, for love’s sake, you have to keep working at it to make it better.

Chances are you’re reading this because you’re in a relationship lacking in chemistry and wondering whether to stay or go. Maybe the chemistry was once there, but you no longer feel “in love.” Or it was never there and you suspect you made a big mistake. Consider this: Maybe the real issue isn’t so much the lack of chemistry but some other problem you haven’t identified.

How do you define chemistry? I think of it as a strong attraction that includes love, lust, infatuation, and a desire to be involved intimately with someone. Chemistry is emotional desire for relationship. It is outside of the realm of reason. With it, you may be attracted to someone who you know, intellectually, is not good for you. Without it, you may be with someone you respect but are not attracted to. At best, you can have both chemistry and love; at worst, you may have chemistry and misery or no chemistry and misery. Regardless your definition, chemistry is unconscious; we don’t “choose” who we’re attracted to. Even so, we aren’t helpless. We can do much to understand and manage it. Following are guidelines that can help you navigate the minefields of attraction.

1. Do you have to have chemistry for a successful relationship? No, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you will learn to love someone. Yes, it’s possible; but if you aren’t attracted to her, you may come to resent your decision. Be honest with yourself; do not choose a relationship primarily because “she’s a good person.” This is a formula for disaster. On the other hand, if the attraction isn’t there, it can grow. Many times people grow to love one another as they get to know each other better.

2. Because it’s unconscious, searching for chemistry in a relationship is a hit-and-miss proposition. You can find it, but you’ll have to be patient. How will you know you’ve found it? You won’t be arguing with yourself whether or not you love him. If it’s a debate, then either the chemistry is missing or he’s a poor partner for you.

3. Once found, you’ll have to be patient again – or you may make a mistake you’ll deeply regret. Chemistry isn’t the end-all, be-all solution it may appear to be. Because it’s unconscious, feeling deeply attracted to someone can be a result of childhood issues you’re unaware of or haven’t resolved. A big red flag is when you see a problem in your partner and you tell yourself things like, “This isn’t such a big deal; I can handle this,” or “I know he has a problem, but he’s working on it,” or “He really loves me; I’m sure we’ll work it out.” Ignore these problems now and you’ll have much bigger ones to contend with later.

4. If you’ve made it past these hurdles, you have one more challenge: The test of time. I’ve been coaching and counseling couples since 2000. One of the comments I hear most often is, “We’ve been married for years, but haven’t felt ‘in love’ since the early part of our marriage.” The “high” of new love rarely lasts more than a couple years. Once over, you’ll need to replace it with something more substantial: caring, respect, forgiveness, and an ability to communicate. These things can be learned, but you’ll have to work hard at them. Some may be difficult skills for you to master. You can definitely do it; roll up your sleeves and get to work!

5. Can you recreate lost love? Yes! In order to do so you must have one essential ingredient – willingness on the part of both people involved. My experience with couples is once a person has “given up,” has decided in his heart he no longer wants the relationship, the chances of rekindling love are minimal. You don’t have to have a lot of willingness; faith the size of a “mustard seed” can be enough. Counseling to help resolve underlying problems and to motivate you can be helpful. Keep the faith!

David Cantu
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Chemistry in a Relationship – Is it Love? How Do You Define it?- Article © 2009

What Makes a Good Relationship Work?

HeartThere are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. ~ Kahlil Gibran

What do you think is the most important ingredient for a successful relationship?
Would you say love? How about respect? Maybe you think it’s sex? Is it communication or commitment? Yes, all of these elements are critical. I find it hard not to put love at the top of the chart. In my mind, the others are subsets, or aspects, of love. Now, which of these ingredients is most essential for love? I got an e-mail from a friend recently and his vote is on giving. According to him, one of the biggest problems is that we generally “enter a relationship in order to get something…” This is so true.

Couple Romantic SunsetMy first response reminded me of a scene in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Little Violet: (commenting on George Bailey) “I like him.”
Little Mary: “You like every boy.”
Little Violet: “What’s wrong with that?”

What’s wrong with entering a relationship in order to get something?
I say nothing. In fact, if we didn’t get a lot of “somethings” from a relationship, I suspect humanity would have died off a long time ago. In a very real and practical way, we need a great deal from relationships. We need respect, commitment, security, and, yes, sex. The possibility of getting them makes a partnership really attractive, and that’s why we put so much energy into marriage. In addition, there’s the powerful lure of romance and infatuation. All these factors make relationships worth pursuing. If you don’t know how to receive, if your focus is too much on giving, you’re going to have relationship problems!

True as this may be, it still misses my friend’s point.
We often pursue and interact with others from a very selfish perspective. Much too often, we ignore that we’re in a relationship not so much out of a desire for mutual sharing, but with a motivation that screams, “Me, me, me.” I’ve been counseling couples for more than twelve years, and one of the main problems people cite in their marriages is communication. In order to help them, I give very specific and simple instructions to help them communicate more effectively. The essence of these directions is, “put aside for a moment what you think, and explore what your partner is saying.” Very rarely are couples able to follow the advice initially. Why? Because we find it much easier to focus on what we think and what we want rather than on what our partner thinks and wants. This is a natural habit, one that causes us no end of grief.

Fundamentally, most of us are willing to give.
What gets in our way is fear or concern that we’re on the short end of the receiving stick. Once this thinking takes root, problems snowball. We begin to withhold and become resentful; our partner reciprocates; and it’s downhill from there. What’s the answer? I suggest a healthy dose of giving with a dash of responsibility and receiving:

1. Put your energy into giving, but do it thoughtfully.

We tend to give what we want, but that isn’t necessarily what our partners want.

In his book, “The Five Love Languages,” Gary Chapman says, “People speak different love languages.” Forget for a moment how you want to be loved and figure out how your partner wants to be loved.

2. Ask yourself this important question: “Am I giving in order to get?” If you’re treating your partner with the attitude that your relationship is basically a “business deal” and you often hear yourself asking, “I do this and that for you, what are you doing for me?” – then you don’t know what it means to give, period. I’ll be blunt; you need help, go get a counselor.

3. Listening is an act of giving. Learn to listen to your partner; this takes practice; and it isn’t as easy as it sounds. See my article, Effective Communication and Listening. Your relationship will benefit a great deal if you make it a priority to “walk in his shoes.”

4. Figure out what you lack in your relationship and ask yourself: “Is this something I should be getting from my partner, or am I being unreasonable?” This question can be difficult to answer. Too often we make demands of our partners that are a projection of our own insecurities. To really figure this out you may need help from an objective friend, counselor, or minister.

5. Be clear about your own wants. Too often people ignore their needs with the mistaken idea that giving is always better that receiving. This is a fallacy that inevitably leads to resentment and heartache. In order for your relationship to flourish you must be on the receiving end on a regular basis. Practice taking responsibility for getting what you want. It’s up to you, it’s your life!

David Cantu
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Create a Good Loving Relationship – Approach it with a Giving Heart – Article © 2009

Effective Communication Tips – Speak Respectfully & Directly

Let your speech be always full of grace, seasoned with salt. ~ Colossians 4:6

Have you ever started an innocent conversation
with someone only to have it disintegrate into anger or frustration? We sometimes try to pinpoint where it all went wrong;Couple Frustrated but a more useful starting point may be, “What can I do to prevent it?” Other than those lopsided encounters with someone who talks as if there’s no tomorrow, most conversations include a give and take in which we alternate roles of speaker and listener. Following are “ground rules” that can be helpful in any interaction. The focus here is on the speaker role and, in particular, those talks in which you need to address an area of conflict, a sensitive topic, or something that bothers you. By “speaker role” I mean times when you have a complaint against someone as opposed to those situations when someone’s pointing out a problem he has with you.

Is this really an issue?

It’s amazingly easy to get caught up in drama. Before you go charging into a fray, ask yourself, “Is this important, or am I making a big deal out of nothing?” It’s so tempting to convince ourselves that we’re dealing with a real problem. Put it on hold for a day or two before addressing the issue. Allowing your emotions to take over is counter-productive; approach the situation as calmly as possible. By taking a long deep breath you enable yourself to be objective.

Be respectful.

Resolve to be respectful with the other person. In order for you to be effective it will help a great deal if you aren’t critical. Being negative or condescending will alienate others and make it difficult for them to listen to your perspective. Rather than point out how he’s wrong, focus instead on a goal. It’s easy for a person to feel defensive. If he does, let him know that you simply want a new outcome.

Be direct.

Being direct is probably the most difficult of all these guidelines. Too often we tiptoe around an issue and Couple Talkingdon’t say exactly what we mean. This doesn’t mean you should “just be honest.” We sometimes use honesty as an excuse to be mean. At the same time it’s important that you get to the point. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that being direct is offensive; it isn’t, if your intention is one of compassion and respect. A great way to be direct is to take responsibility for your choices and thoughts. Rather than saying, “I don’t think what you’re doing is right,” say, “I want you to stop what you’ve been doing.” In the first statement you place the responsibility on morality – right and wrong; in the second statement you take the responsibility yourself – “This is what I want.”

Stay focused.

You can get off track in thousands of ways. Regardless what the other person says, remember the reason you brought up the discussion; return to the topic anytime either of you veers off course. If the other person makes some kind of counter-argument, acknowledge it when true; but return to your original issue. Don’t get caught up with tangential problems.

Be willing to listen.

Finally, sometimes it’s important to change to the listener role.Couple Holding Hands Learn how to ask questions, see the other person’s point of view, and create a connection. Make connection your primary goal rather than resolution – communication first, solution later. Your efforts to become a better speaker and listener can create the foundation necessary for problem solving and result in deeper, richer relationships.
Please see my article on listening Effective Communication & Listening.
David Cantu
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Effective Communication – Speak Respectfully & Directly – Article © 2009

Power of Acceptance and Gratitude – Feel Freedom in Relationships

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it. ~ Abraham Lincoln: Letter to H.L. Pierce, April 6, 1859

Couple UpsetRelationships are sometimes a quagmire of emotion, misunderstandings, and unmet expectations. Rather than feeling free and joyful, we often find ourselves feeling trapped and frustrated. I sometimes hear people lament, “I was really happy before we got together. I think I’m better off alone.” Despite the challenges of relationships, we all have boundless opportunities for intimacy and joy in a partnership. It’s just a matter of practicing what really works and giving up those things that get in our way.

The main ingredients of healthy partnerships
are effective communication, compatibility, authenticity, commitment, and love. The “secret” element, however, is acceptance; it’s a hidden but integral part of every other ingredient. Acceptance truly helps all relationships because it is a gift of freedom.

Living in Austin, Texas, can be difficult in the summer heat.
Couple UmbrellaInterestingly, when I ask people about it, they generally have an easy-going attitude. The reason for this is that they see it as a “natural” occurrence, a fact of life. Yet those same people don’t see relationships in the same light. When we think about it, people agree that failures and emotions are a part of life. We intellectually understand no one is perfect and that even our best friends will sometimes let us down or get angry with us. Unfortunately, when it actually happens, when one’s spouse or girlfriend becomes highly emotional or behaves contrary to his desire, the response is frequently frustration, surprise, and resentment. Emotions and mistakes in relationships are natural but we often don’t see them that way.

Acceptance in relationships
says, “People in my life, including those I’m closest to, are going to make blunders, and more than occasionally will be angry, sad, depressed, or scared. I accept this as natural. I don’t condone the mistakes of others, but I don’t judge them either. Instead, I practice compassion and seek to understand them. I see emotion as part of the tapestry of life, something we all are learning to deal with. I don’t shy away from emotion; it’s life. I’m also not a doormat: I practice dealing with the ups and downs of others as effectively as I can. I speak up about wrong-doing. I listen to others’ frustrations with me with a willing ear, but I don’t tolerate abuse.”

Acceptance leads to freedom
Child and Balloon in relationships because one is no longer tied down by the bonds of expectation and demand. A person can still desire and hope for certain outcomes; but with acceptance, he frees himself from the result, whatever it may be. Acceptance is the gift of freedom to others and to oneself.
David Cantu
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Freedom in Relationships with Acceptance – Article © 2009

Key Elements to Active Listening: Effective Communication

For when you come to think of it, the only way to love a person is not … to coddle them and bring them soup when they’re sick, but by listening to them and seeing and believing in the god, in the poet in them. ~ Brenda Ueland

The first element of communication, speaking,
is impossible without the second, listening;Couple Woman Listening to be a good speaker you must be a good listener. We all want to speak; and even more, we want to be heard. When we become good listeners we create the possibility of a captive audience – people who want to hear what we have to say. In his essay, “The Statesman,” playwright Henry Taylor poetically expresses this idea: “No siren did ever so charm the ear of the listener as the listening ear has charmed the soul of the siren.”

Listening, however, is a big challenge;
even when we try hard our unconscious mind still thinks, “Soon it will be my turn.” We swim in an emotional hotbed of thought and experience, and it’s difficult to quiet its demands long enough to hear and understand what someone really means. Add to that the fact that the other person may not be clear about his own message!

Become a listening artist.
The art of communication is about creating and strengthening Couple Sunsetrelationships. An adept listener strives first to understand others and second to create a feeling within others of being understood. Your best goal is not to find a solution to whatever problem you may have with someone; the ideal goal is the tapestry of connection which is a result of putting aside for a moment your own frame of reference. A solution is much easier to find once you’re on the same page. To become competent at listening, learn to remain in the listener role until you have a “meeting of minds.” Respond and speak, but remain in the listener role. This means you don’t get to express your point of view! What you have to say may be important, but don’t do it until you’ve created a bond, a sense of oneness.

We sometimes struggle
acknowledging someone’s point of view out of fear of losing our identity or fear that we may somehow become compromised. Recognition of someone’s ideas doesn’t require agreement; its intention is a dance of understanding. Acknowledging someone with sincerity puts him at ease, helps him feel less vulnerable, more open. We often become defensive, feeling that someone is attacking us. Approach communication with the notion that another’s beliefs are merely that; they are her personal ideas, and as such don’t have anything to do with you or anyone else. In “The Four Agreements,” author Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Others are going to have their own opinion according to their belief system, so nothing they think about me is really about me, but it is about them.” His “Second Agreement” is concise and powerful, “Don’t take it personally.”

Create listening music.
Be curious; ask questions toCouple Talking Lake better grasp the other person’s meaning. Don’t defend, justify, or criticize. Do not explain how your perspective is correct or why your actions were valid. Do not ask questions meant to invalidate another’s thinking or to validate your own ideas. Be authentic, not “sweet.” True listening is not a passive enterprise but an active extension of yourself into the heart of another, which in turn invites and draws him out into a song of rapport.
Listen; you would be wise!
David Cantu
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Effective Communication & Listening – How to Listen Actively (article) © 2009

Luke 8:17-18

17”For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
18Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

How to Create a Good Relationship

To create love: be true to yourself; know yourself and listen to what your partner is really saying; choose someone you’re attracted to, someone who fits you; know your role in the relationship; make a firm commitment and love actively.

Chemistry

It helps to be “into each other.” Ask yourself: is this person someone you really want to spend your time with; is he truly interested in you for who you are? If he takes you for granted now, he’ll use and discard you. In addition, sustaining a relationship because “he’s such a good person” can be a formula for heartache for both of you. Lack of chemistry may lead to ambivalence and this is poison for a relationship. On the other hand, chemistry is a poor foundation for a long-term relationship; it’s great to have but it’s only a start. The infatuation will end. Don’t commit yourself to a relationship without the following six ingredients.

Compatibility

Compatibility is a simple requirement that we often ignore because we think love will solve our problems. It won’t. Are you on the same page? You must know the requirements you aren’t willing to compromise in a relationship; and then you’ve got to make sure your partner agrees with you. Hoping that he’ll change his mind later on is unrealistic; it’s not likely to happen. Issues you need to resolve early in a relationship include finances, children, marriage and spirituality.

Communication

Do you really know how to listen? Listening is not a passive endeavor, it requires an active desire to know what others want to say and mean. Is your partner more emotional or more thoughtful? Knowing how to honor a person’s feelings and to respect someone’s thoughts is an important aspect of communication. Do you know how to get your point across without blaming or humiliating your partner? Speaking respectfully and honestly is as crucial as listening. Equally important, does your partner communicate well?

Authenticity

Do you know who you are, how you feel and what you want? Unless you’re willing to stand up for yourself, you can’t create a good relationship. If you’re a people pleaser, if you deny your feelings until you explode or if you repeatedly sabotage relationships, you aren’t being authentic. Authenticity is speaking the truth about yourself. It requires that you love yourself enough to say yes or no and mean it. If you’re authentic, you recognize and acknowledge your shortcomings. Only by seeing yourself honestly can you see your partner honestly. Lack of authenticity makes relationships roller-coasters of deception and emotion.

Identity in the Relationship

Along with authenticity, identity in the relationship is a crucial marriage and courtship ingredient that’s often overlooked. Who is masculine and who is feminine in the relationship? Who thinks or feels more? It doesn’t work to assume answers to these questions. Most couples still want the man to lead and the woman to follow. However, we live in an age which acknowledges women’s leadership and men’s emotions. Knowing which role is true for both you and your partner will help you avoid power struggles. Sharing the role of leadership seldom works; a primary leader is needed in love. But, leadership does not mean dominance. Power is shared and each partner must understand the source of his or her power. Masculine power is different from feminine power.

Commitment

Without commitment no relationship exists. The single biggest cause of failed relationships is not money, chemistry, compatibility or even communication; it’s ambivalence – a lack of commitment. Commitment is a testament of love.

Love

Love is the essential ingredient of a good relationship. A partial definition of love is the feeling that one has for another. A more complete definition includes one’s treatment of another; love respects, honors, cherishes, forgives and is compassionate. Unless you actively love, the feelings you have are irrelevant. It’s important that your partner love you also, but look first at your own actions.
David Cantu
Life Coach Austin Texas
How to Create a Good Relationship © 2007

Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

What is Marriage All About? Dangerous Ambivalence or Joyful Commitment?

Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up. ~ Joseph Barth

Marriage brings great rewards
of loving intimacy and heart-wrenching emotional turbulence. We frequently cope with this apparent conflict with ambivalence, which makes true joy in marriage impossible. Concerning love, you cannot be of two minds and yet hope to experience her riches. Time and again we discard commitment in marriage before we’ve unearthed its great treasures of self awareness and humility. We opt for divorce as a means of dealing with the pain. Yes, there is a time to let go and a time to remain. But know that emotional pain is not the problem; it’s the symptom. It’s a call for healing, growth and understanding. Make a commitment to oneness and you create the possibility of experiencing true love. You can move beyond the doubt and hesitation by looking honestly into your heart. As you deal with your own fears and failures you will see your partner with greater clarity and compassion. This is the path of surrender and vulnerability that leads to joy in marriage or letting go in peace. Your commitment to love lights the way past suffering to wisdom. We are all connected in love and marriage is our best chance to manifest that truth.
David Cantu
Life Coach Austin Texas
Marriage – Dangerous Ambivalence or Joyful Commitment? © 2007

1 Timothy 1:5

…love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.