Larry James' BLOG

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How About a Healthy, Controlled One-on-one?

Filed under: Coaching,Resolving Conflict — Larry James @ 7:00 am

You were friends first, then you both decided to get serious about a relationship. Good for you. That’s about as good as it gets, right?

Hmmm. Not always. Relationships have their ups and downs. When you hit a bump in the road perhaps it’s time to have a sit down, healthy, controlled one-on-one and really get honest about what’s really bugging you.

In the early days of your relationship, it can be hard to imagine taking each other for granted and not making time for each other. Over time, however, we often find ourselves slipping into ways of communicating and behaving that can have a detrimental effect on the long term health of our relationship.

Couple ArguingStop conflict before it goes to far. . . begin communicating!

That is easier said then done, unless. . . you have agreements with each other about how this will occur. It might even be a good idea to regularly set aside a time to really “talk” with (not at) each other. Some say that communication is the number one problem in relationships. I say, that it goes deeper than that.

It also about “undelivered” communication. It’s about what you don’t say and know you should, but the last time you talked about it someone got angry and you don’t want to go through that again. So. . . you don’t say anything. You withhold. Then, one day your partner doesn’t take out the garbage and you want a divorce and it’s not about the garbage, it’s about all the things you didn’t say.

“Love sits in silence waiting to be summoned by our reverence for the sheer existence of another. Protect, honor and heighten it by expressing it genuinely.” ~ Jeffrey Levin

foldedarmsIn every relationship, you need to communicate via conversation. Once you have set a time to talk with one another, have an agreement that when your partner is talking, you only listen and visa versa. ONLY LISTEN. Do not be on the defensive. No folded arms (signaling not open to talk or “I’m shutting you out!”). Suspend any anger you may have. Never arguing. . . only listening.

Come with a brief (you don’t want to bring more than a couple of issues to the table) list of special annoyances or concerns. Take turns saying whatever is on your mind while the other listens and then repeats it back to make sure that they understand.

One of the keys is to only listen, then repeat. Critical to the conversation is that neither of you gets hurt by the information and that you each take responsibility for your role in the situation.

Relationships are individual projects first – the one with ourselves – and mutually beneficial projects second – the one with ourselves and our partner. Taking responsibility for our own stuff is a wonderful gift we give ourselves and our partner. Relationships take our constant attention; every day and every minute. It is when we forget this that problems begin.

The dilemma is this: there are two people. That means we have two people making choices and there are a multitude of choices each of us could make. Each love partner is only and always responsible for their own choices.

For this too work. . . you must both give up “being right!” This one-on-one is not about who is right OR wrong. It’s about lovingly airing your differences. It’s about speaking and listening – but not both at the same time. 😉 It’s about communicating with one another! Talking WITH each other. Got that?

Don’t sit there and think: “How can she possibly believe that I have anything to do with this problem?” Or “That really hurts to hear him say that,” or “Damn, I wish she would quit while she’s ahead. I don’t need to hear this again!”

You’re not really listening when you distract yourself from the conversation with anything that is not beneficial to it. So, think about THAT!”

I repeat, critical to the conversation is that neither of you gets hurt by the information and that you each take responsibility for your role in the situation. This “must” be done in the context of love, honor and respect rather than to knock down the other person’s interpretation of what is going on or to defend your own position.

Only listen and repeat!

This is often a scary idea to share negative aspects of your relationship. This is the time to have no undelivered communication. If you want to be improving your relationship, you must speak from your heart. Speaking from your heart means speaking what is really true for you. Speak the truth as you know it.

coupletalkOften in my relationship seminars I will ask a man and women (not the one you came with) to sit knee to knee and have the man only listen as the women pours out her heart. ALL women report what a tremendous feeling to be able to express an issue with a stranger who only listens and all women say that they wish it could be that way with their partner.

It can be! AND. . . you must have agreements before this way of communication can be effective.

It’s always best to never let a situation get out of hand by letting it fester and then only complain to someone else about it – someone who is not in a position to do anything about it. That’s stupid. Yes, we all vent now and then, but you must remember that there are consequences for not talking with your partner about what’s really bugging you.

Always make time for the two of you to communicate. To not do so only creates more ill will.

If you have allowed the situation to get out of hand, perhaps it might serve you better to talk about your issues in a safe, loving environment with a relationship coach. Is coaching worth it? With the right relationship coach and the right attitude from the couple, coaching may save your relationship. I often tell my coaching clients, “Coaching doesn’t work! YOU and your partner must do the work!”

However, most couples can avoid the coaching step if they will but agree to give up being right about their position and genuinely LISTEN and repeat to their love partner.

For a deeper look into this technique (with a slight twist), read: “Communicating is Not Optional: How to Listen So Your Partner Will Talk.”

Troubled coupleRecommendation: This is a long article and comes in 4 parts. Read it. Then, if it is something you would like to do, print two copies – one for each of you and arrange a time to get together, always following the precise guidelines. It’s never easy but this really does work. Or. . . call a relationship coach!

“Trust is the very foundation of a healthy love relationship. There can be no trust without conversation, no genuine intimacy without trust.” ~ Larry James

If you avoiding intimacy because it feels like another demand at the end of a very busy day or because you are feeling unappreciated or resentful, it’s time to do something about it.


Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and a nondenominational minister. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – and

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Articles: How About a Healthy, Controlled One-on-one? Halfway to Each Other… Does Your Relationship Need a Wake-up Call? Who Ya Gonna Call? – The […]

    Pingback by Stay With It! | Larry James' BLOG — Monday, April 13, 2015 @ 7:31 am | Reply

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