5 Simple Steps to Creating Boundaries That Strengthen Your Relationship


Setting, and respecting, boundaries is key to any healthy, fulfilling and mutually rewarding relationship. Usually the need to set boundaries in relationships arises when one person or partner feels as though their needs are not being met. Boundaries can be set at any stage in a relationship, even before the first date. This may seem like overthinking things but essentially, you are teaching others how to treat you right from your first interaction. Not to worry, you are not literally saying things like "I have a boundary around you sending me a booty call text at 3am before we've even met in person." You simply establish the boundary by not responding to said text. Easy. The earlier you can establish healthy boundaries, the better. As you’ve probably already guessed, this post is all about how to do just that. So friend, keep on reading to learn the five simple steps to creating boundaries that strengthen your relationship and will lead to ultimate, mutual fulfillment. 1. Ask Yourself, “How Do I Feel? Are My Needs Being Met?” 

You may already know that you want (or need) to have a conversation with your partner about setting boundaries, but have you fully explored your own feelings and needs at this point? If the answer is no, then you’ll need to start here or your requests will come across unclear and likely difficult to take action on. Determine the feeling first. Have you been feeling drained? Exhausted? Fulfilled? Happy? Content? and what do your instincts tell you about why this is so?

Do you feel you’re giving far more than you’re receiving? What needs, be specific, do you feel are being neglected or left to the wayside? Is it attention? Appreciation? Helping with household stuff? Once you’ve fully explored and consider your own feelings and needs, it’s time to move onto step two.

2. Now, Put Yourself in Your Partner’s Shoes

Now that you’ve taken care of yourself, it’s time to put yourself in the place of your partner and complete the same exercise. Try your very best to exercise the utmost empathy and truly explore your relationship through the eyes of your partner. Look at the past six months and ask yourself, “How have I treated him? What have I done to show him my love and support? How do I imagine he feels when I do this or that?”

Try to be completely and totally honest with yourself and get as real as possible here. No doubt this is difficult, but it's very important in creating healthy partnerships. Your learnings from this exercise will help you immensely when it comes time to have the boundary discussion with your partner.

3. Consider the Setting, Language and Tone

Where and how you have a conversation is just as important as the conversation itself. This is true for every single type of relationship, and couldn’t be truer for romantic relationships. Plan to have your conversation at home in a relaxed, familiar setting where you can both be your authentic, genuine selves and healthily engage in discussion without constraints.

Allow yourself enough time to explain where it is that you are coming from, how you’d like to proceed and then your partner can do the same. Boundary setting, and respecting, is a collaborative effort and requires both of you to give it your all. Putting a level of thoughtfulness into the experience and discussion will really help with both of you feeling heard and self-expressed. At the beginning of the discussion, you can say something like, "both of our goals are to work things out and continue on in our relationship". This can diffuse any resistance.

4. Set the Boundaries

Ready for the hard part? Don’t sweat it, because it really doesn’t need to be that hard. In fact, you may find that you truly enjoy the process of setting boundaries with your partner. This is an excellent chance to really bare your soul, and have your partner bare his, and get to know each other – and each of your needs – on a whole new level.

Perhaps you’re going into this because you feel you don’t spend enough time one-on-one with each other and want to ensure you leave work at the door. Perhaps you feel that you need more alone time, or time with your friends, so that you can truly be your own person and bring a better version of yourself to your relationship. Maybe you’ll learn that your partner has felt that your relationship with your mother or siblings is affecting your relationship at home. Maybe you’ll learn that your partner’s been craving this same conversation but hadn’t known how to start it off without coming across the wrong way.

An example of the language you can use is:

"I know you don't intentionally do (action) to hurt me but when you do it, it makes me feel (feeling). What I would love instead is (action). How does that sound?" 

Whatever the scenario, I assure you that you’ll come away feeling more confident, secure and committed to your relationship.

5. Commit to the Boundaries and Stay Committed

After you and your partner have identified and committed to boundaries, you’ve got to make sure you stick with it. It may take practice and it may take time, but I encourage you to respect the relationship work that you have done and honour your partnership by keeping it going. Your happiness, needs and love life are far too important to take a back seat to life’s many other demands. Make progress your priority and just watch, you’ll see your relationship flourish like you could never have imagined.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

Want to Become a Certified Dating Coach and Help Others Find Love?

Signs of Divorce: How to Spot These 4 Indicators… and How to Overcome Them


John Gottman, author and psychologist, is well known for conducting many studies surrounding the predictability of divorce. After a 15-minute conversation with a couple, followed by questions about satisfaction and relationship behaviours, Gottman and his team discovered they could predict whether or not a marriage would result in divorce with 93% accuracy. 93% accuracy. That’s both impressive and incredibly saddening. The reality, more in this modern day than ever before, is that nearly half of relationships end in a break up, separation or divorce. What I want to share with you, my friend, is how to equip you and your partner to beat the odds and live in a truly satisfying, successful partnership. One of the most powerful ways to do this is to train yourself to identify the three strongest indicators and work to overcome those behaviours.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

1. Criticism

Have you ever found yourself picking up after your partner, only to wind up making a comment to them about so much more than leaving a towel on the floor or a dirty dish on the counter? Criticism without the genuine aim of being constructive and positive will only ever lead to hurt feelings and a moment in time you really can’t undo. Seemingly small things like calling your partner “stupid” or reminding them that you’re the smarter one in the duo can have irreparable effects on your relationship.

When you feel yourself about to criticize your partner (and especially in heated circumstances, as mentioned), take a deep breath and count to ten. The simple “calm down” trick that you likely learned as a child will honestly do wonders even in many adult situations. If you have to, leave the room until you calm down and know you won't say something you regret. Remind yourself that your partnership is more important and more valuable than this one moment, this one dirty dish, and this one unfolded towel. Once you are feeling much more calm, take a moment to think about the positives in your partner, even if you don't want to. When you work to replace your criticism habit with thoughts of praise, even in small bits, you will see the tension between the two of you lessen.

2. Defensiveness

I was reading an article recently and the author mentioned something about how allowing negativity into your mind and heart is like stepping into quicksand. It’s real easy to get sucked down inside of it and really, really hard to get back out. The saying reminded me of a time that a client was telling me about how she had accidentally broken a wine glass and it turned into a full on argument between her and her spouse – about just about everything except the wine glass.

Jumping to defend yourself by saying, “It was an accident!” or “It wasn’t my fault!” implies, before your partner even speaks, that you expect them to attack you. This, in turns, puts the both of you on the defensive and builds a big, fat, metaphorical wall between the two of you.

You have several options for combatting defensiveness, but the most powerful is practicing accountability and recognition. Are you late to your dinner reservation because you lost track of time? Own up to it and avoid turning things around and saying something like, "oh, you're late sometimes too!" Did your partner break a vase while cleaning? Brush it off, they didn't do it on purpose and focus on appreciating you have someone who’s willingly putting in effort to share household duties.

3. Checking Out

There are a couple of terms for this particular behaviour, such as “stonewalling,” but I prefer the term “checking out.” This is what happens when you’re in mid argument with your partner and one – or both – of you whips out your phone and goes dead silent. A partner can also “check out” by simply walking away from a conversation, leaving the space or even leaving the home for a walk or drive. (this is different then briefly leaving the room to calm yourself down before re-entering, as mentioned in the Criticism piece). The problem with this type of behaviour is that it demonstrates you are either not invested in reaching a resolution or healing your relationship, or that what you were arguing about doesn’t mean that much to you in the first place. Both, as you can probably see, are super problematic.

The next time you go to bring something up with your partner, don’t do it half way. If it truly means enough to you, and has affected you deeply enough, to bring up – then do it right. Ditch all distractions and truly talk it out with the intention of reaching a mutually satisfactory resolution. If your partner asks to speak with you, dedicate your full attention to them. This means that your phone is down, the TV’s off and you’re listening full on.

Friend, if you work to identify these behaviours on an ongoing basis and make conscious, intentional decisions to replace the behaviours with positive ones – you will substantially increase the odds of enjoying a successful partnership.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

Want to Become a Certified Dating Coach and Help Others Find Love?

5 New Year's Resolution Ideas for Married Couples


The New Year is here and so are 365 more days and chances to live a happier, more fulfilling and more authentic life. For married couples, this sort of happiness often feels as though it depends on more than a single partner – it’s a joint effort to actively take steps towards improvement and happiness. In this post I’m sharing five New Year’s resolution ideas for married couples, so that you might be inspired to work together towards achieving something beautiful in 2015.

Couples Resolution 1: Do More Small Nice Things, Not Just on Special Days

This particular resolution is a highly effective one if you both vow to put in the work. You know how great you feel when you come home to the laundry put away or dinner ready on the table? Those small everyday acts of kindness have a much larger impact on your happiness and the health of your relationship.

This year, resolve to do more small nice things for one another – not just on birthdays, anniversaries or holidays! Putting away the dishes, doing the laundry, making the bed, cooking a meal or even pouring a glass of wine and putting on a movie are all small acts that will make you both feel more loved and happier.

Couples Resolution 2: Make More Physical Contact

Human touch is a transformative act, and I’m not just talking about sex. Holding your partner’s hand, giving them a neck massage after a long day at work, stroking their hair or even sitting with your hand on their leg are all physical acts of touch that aren’t necessarily sexual. Resolving to make more physical contact in 2015 will allow you to feel closer, communicate more regularly and feel a greater connection between the two of you. And yes, it will probably wind up encouraging you to spend more time in the bedroom…that brings us to the next resolution for couples!

Couples Resolution 3: Make Intimacy a Priority

A lack of physical intimacy in a romantic relationship can be incredibly harmful. Sex is a key component of a healthy adult marriage, and yet it often takes the back burner to a number of other things. This year, resolve to stop allowing long hours, fatigue or simply feeling “blah” to kibosh any possibility of physical intimacy. Many couples mind it helpful to schedule date nights and plan ahead, so don’t hesitate to do the same if busy schedules are often a problem.

Spending more time in the bedroom with your partner can lead to a stronger bond, increased individual confidence, heightened communication and a long-lasting bond between the two of you. Allowing yourself to sit on the couch and feel stressed after a long day at work offers none of the above benefits!

Couples Resolution 4: Argue More Effectively

Let’s be honest, all couples have arguments from time to time. It’s a natural part of partnership and can actually lead to a stronger relationship. However, how you argue makes all the difference and doing it the wrong way can have serious negative impacts on both you and your partner. This year, make arguing more effectively a priority – or communicating more effectively overall – and watch your relationship blossom.

When communicating, avoid playing the blame game. Use terms like, “I feel” and “When you X, I feel Y” instead of accusatory language – something I wrote about recently and encourage you to read more on. Practicing active listening and nipping problems in the bud instead of allowing them to fester will have you remembering 2015 as a very good year.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

Want to Become a Certified Dating Coach and Help Others Find Love?

Relationship Advice for Couples Who Never Fight


Yes, it’s true, there are couples who never fight and claim they do not have any relationship problems. You may have heard of these elusive couples and picture them happily agreeing about everything and in a constant state of joy. You may still remember a conversation you had long ago with a stranger, saying, “my husband and I never fight”.

How can a couple claim to “never fight?” Well it’s not as clear cut as that. Why? Two reasons are at play here:

One, people have different views on what is defined as “fighting”.

Two, if there are zero disagreements happening, then someone in the relationship is going without what they actually need. It’s an avoidance technique, really. It’s just easier to go without a particular need then to risk a fight asking for it.

Let’s look at reason One first. I was watching a cheesy reality show the other evening and the couple was posing for a photo. The photographer remarked that it would be easier if they’d stop arguing. The wife looked at her and said, “we’re not arguing, we never argue, we’re discussing”. The husband nodded in agreement. To myself and the photographer, they were definitely fighting or at the very least in a heated disagreement. I also know of another couple whom, the way they speak to each other on a daily basis is like one-long-argument. There’s no need to fight because the level of passive aggressiveness that is exchanged on a daily basis doesn’t leave room for it. These are two examples of couples who would say, “they never fight”.

Now let’s look at reason Two. There are couples who don’t fight but that is clearly not okay with one of them. Both men and women can relate to using the “Yes, Dear” approach to potential disagreements because it’s just easier. The problem is that deep down, every time they do this they are telling themselves that they are not worth speaking up for. This is no way to live, and yet it has become their go-to peace-keeping tool. No one wins in this situation and in fact, if you are too much of a yes-woman or a yes-man, it ultimately creates an even deeper issue in the relationship.

There are many couples therapists who would almost congratulate you on having a fight or fights. They agree it’s a good thing and is important to growth in a relationship. Many couples report actually feeling closer to their partner after a big fight because the process of repairing things highlighted needs that were previously overlooked.

In no way am I saying go out and pick a fight with your partner but I do believe healthy disagreements are a good thing. You each need to be reminded now and again where your own boundaries are, as well as your partner’s. You are individuals after all who likely became fully grown adults before you laid eyes on each other so it’s important to keep that person alive within the relationship.

There are no bonus points in the relationship world for being the couple who never fights. There is such a thing as healthy disagreements and a respectful resolution. If you stick to this form of negotiating rough waters in your relationship, you will always grow and feel respected.

To your authenticity,

Love, Christine

Want to Become a Certified Dating Coach and Help Others Find Love?