How Playing Tag Could be Ruining Your Life

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By Ariel Minter

Okay, so it is probably (and hopefully) unlikely that playing tag could actually ruin your life. But, it could fatally wound your chances of a healthy relationship. 

Let’s go back to the playground. Maybe 2nd or 3rd grade: At that age, it is pretty normal to whole-heartedly believe that cooties are the worst disease you can catch, and what better way to play with the opposite sex than to chase them around the school yard? Many of us did this when we were younger. The girls would run after the boys, and suddenly there would be a shift in momentum and the boys would start chasing after the girls. Tag, you’re it. 

This game is far from over. You didn’t leave it on the playground, and you may never stop playing this game of “tag”. This is what Passion Provokers calls the “Control/Abandonment Cycle”. 

If we’re all honest with ourselves, we can start to see where we fit in the cycle. What’s fascinating about this cycle is that it changes from relationship to relationship. In my coupleship, I identify more as “The Abandoner”, but in the cycle with my sister I am the obvious “Controller”.  Marla Keller, Co-founder of Passion Provokers, describes these to types below:


“The Controller

I am in charge. I am aware of most possible outcomes, and I make sure they happen. I like people to perform as I expect. If you don’t clean the kitchen to the standards I am used to, I will clean it over again to make sure it gets done the right way (and hope you’ll watch me do it so it’s done properly the next time). I like to feel as though I have the power. In a relationship, I like security and am willing to do anything I need to do to make that happen. I will vocalize my opinion, and if you act in disagreement of that I will get upset. Most of the time, it’s “my way or the highway.” I use phrases like “You should…” or “You ought to…”. I get jealous easily. I like attention, especially yours. If you say no to something, I will probably try to get you to say yes another time. 

We all have characteristics of, and most of us can be, a controller. Described above is the 10/10 controller, on the scale of 0-10. 

Now, what about the Abandoner? 

The Abandoner

When things get weird, uncomfortable, or too close for comfort, I will likely just stop responding. Like that time we were arguing and I just walked out of the room, or when I didn’t respond to your text. My “safety blanket” is avoiding or leaving. I don’t usually push my opinion, and if you say no I won’t bring it up again (sometimes I do this to spite you). I close myself off emotionally. I know this drives you crazy. And to be honest, I sort of like that. I often react this way when I feel controlled. It’s the only defense I feel like I have, and it works. 

Again, that is an extreme example. But you get the idea.” ~Marla Keller.

There is always a role for one person and another in each relationship. Like I mentioned above, I see myself as one or the other depending on who the relationship is with. 

Most often, these cycles are unhealthy. In the perfect world, we would be healthy enough to realize that we don’t need to control or abandon in order to have love. But, because all of us have experienced pain (anything from a high school heartbreak to traumatic abuse), this is our default mode. 

This mode is how we got attention at a very early age in our development. Remember tag? Yea, you run after me and when you finally catch me it’s my turn to chase you. The chaser being the controller and the chasee being the abandoner.  

Passion Provokers has noticed a big pattern in this control/abandonment cycle. These occasions of controlling and abandoning often start to escalate. For your coupleship, it could be a 3-week cycle, a 6-month cycle, or a 2-year cycle. 

At the “end” if the cycle, there is often a big blow up. Most people explain this as a “huge fight”. Most couples kiss and make up and then they enter the honeymoon phase for X amount of time. Slowly, the control/abandonment cycle starts back up and in a few weeks/months/years it starts all over again. 

The goal becomes ending this cycle, or at least working towards a much more mellowed version if it. The more aware we are of our position in this arrangement, we can start to change our behavior. 

My husband and I were heavily struggling with this during our first year of marriage. We would often both be the “controllers” and then both flip (almost at the same time) to the abandoners. And BOY did that drive us both absolutely c r a z y. We were losing ourselves in this dysfunctional trade-off. It only started to get better once we decided to change our old argue habits. 

A huge piece of this was using the check-in tool we were taught. At first, we would be knee-deep in anger, frustration, and hurtful words, when all of a sudden one of us would stop. Just by my husband stopping how he would normally react completely threw me off. My perfectly planned come-backs became null and void when he stopped saying or reacting the way I predicted he might. 

It was a beautiful transformation, which at fist started by me huffing and puffing out of the room because I (ultimately) felt embarrassed and ashamed by my own behavior. 

Slowly, through time and dedication to be accountable to our own part in this nasty behavior, our pattern started to change. Instead of immediately going into defense and attack mode, we started to listen to each other. Our body language was literally changing before our own eyes. We were able to experience tough conversations with respect and honesty vs. irreversible pain and cold-hearted words. 

By no means are we perfect at this yet. However, just by being aware of our roles in the Control/Abandonment cycle led us to a path of healing instead of broken-ness. 

If you’d like more information on this, or would like to talk about it during your free consultation, you can CLICK HERE

How to Avoid Conscious Uncoupling

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By Marla Keller

Yep, “conscious uncoupling” has become quite the table-top conversation over the past few weeks. “Why?” you may ask, if you have been living under a rock lately, or aren’t   s l i g h t l y  preoccupied with People magazine (like I can be at times). 

Well, in case you missed it, a month ago Gwyneth Paltrow announced on her website Goop that she and Coldplay’s front-man, Chris Martin, had decided to separate. Here is the direct quote from the letter they released together:


“We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.” 

Hmmmmmmmm…Conscious Uncoupling.

This got me thinking. Fourteen years and 3 months ago I had a painful decision to make; to consciously uncouple from the love of my life, or to journey through the muck, the mire, the desperate heartbreak, and the deepest pain I had ever experienced and hope for healing between us. My soulmate came to me with the devastating news of infidelity. Everyone told me to leave. Everyone supported the assumed decisions that I should make for myself and our daughters. 

His betrayal. My approval addiction. Our unworthiness. Ultimately, he broke our commitment to monogamy, to love and cherish, to honor. And I was expected to Consciously Uncouple (and had the reasons to do so) by every support system I had.

I could have “easily” chosen Conscious Uncoupling. But instead I chose us; I chose Conscious Coupling. (Tweet This) 

So what does it take to Consciously Couple? Here are the 5 most important things that I learned to heal through the pain, and stay conscious in ourcoupleship:

1.    Don’t blame everything on your partner.

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It would have been very easy for me to play the victim. The words, “It was, in fact, Jami who chose a path that hurt ME directly, our young daughters indirectly, and our community broadly” that kept running through my head when the pain hit me like a just-tossed grenade. “How could he do this to us?” But guess what? It takes two. 

Both partners have their shame in the game. (Tweet This)

I had already done a lot of personal work on my control issues, so it was fairly clear to me how my decisions to control LITERALLY everything about my environment affected Jami. My control was toxic. Not that I pushed him to cheat, but that my issues contributed to our Control/Abandonment cycle (bookmark this blog to check in Saturday for our follow up blog on How to Avoid Your Control/Abandonment Cycle).

And, instead of blaming, shaming and Consciously Uncoupling, I chose personal accountability in my part of our dysfunctional cycle. 

2.    You choose to forgive and move forward in your individual healing, and in your healing as a couple.

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Forgiveness is always a choice before it’s a feeling. (Tweet This)

Forgiveness is for you, not for the other person. Forgiveness is not letting go of boundaries and letting someone hurt you over and over again; it allows you to establish your truth that gives you the ability to have the best healthy boundaries you have ever had. 

Jami knew that if he betrayed me again I most definitely would choose divorce. Profound forgiveness in my heart allowed me to express this boundary and mean it. I had said it before, but didn’t have the personal worthiness to keep it. 

I found myself, and my worthiness, in the middle of the pain. And through that pain I have ended up in joy. Go figure.

3.    You don’t hold on to the belief that your partner “owes you” or that you “deserve better”.

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It’s as simple as this: let it go (forgive), and then when you are tempted to use your partner’s faults or past against them, or that you deserve better, remember that you have forgiven and release it again. And again. And again. Or, if it’s a new pain, considerlearning how to write a forgiveness letter

Jami was miserable and extravagantly repentant on his own. I didn’t need to remind him of it to keep him “in line.” He was doing that himself. For him, that meantHe committing himself to a rehab facility in Northern Arizona to put an end to his behavior once and for all.

It was a truly beautiful moment when I walked up to embrace him outside of the rehab facility and looking at this amazing, transformed, humble man. It was real. He was forever changed. And I am eternally grateful for all of his hard work then, and his continued work to this day.

4.    You realize that your partner is not your “everything” or your “savior”.

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5. You communicate from your heart instead of repeating the same story, and you choose to really live in the moment. 

When Jami and I got married I really did believe that he would fulfill all of my needs, my desires, my wants, my dreams. Rude. Awakening. 

It is impossible for anyone to do this, and it’s not healthy or realistic to expect it. It is also unhealthy inside of a relationship to be so fiercely independent that you cannot connect soul to soul for fear of losing yourself. 

There is a large spectrum. On one side, you look at your partner as your savior who will bring you all the things you have always desired. On the other, you’re super(wo)man and you are your own savior in the coupleship.

It’s your job to figure out where you fall on the spectrum. Balance brings the most long-term satisfaction. 

If you are remotely spiritual, you can discover how to be interdependent (not codependent, constantly meeting other people’s needs and not your own, and not independent to the point of disconnection) through spirituality and prayer/meditation. 

If you’re not spiritual (or define your inner-peace as such), what do you do to experience joy, empowerment (humility) and peace consistently? To 

get a jump-start, we recommend reading anything from Brene Brown, journaling about what you’ve read, then meditating. It works. Promise.

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Over 14 years ago Jami and I were given an incredible tool for our recovery called “check-in” that we have used almost daily since that time. And we teach it to all of our clients because we know it is the best tool for being heard, and for listening actively. Email me if you’d like more information on this tool. 

A simple start to communicating effectively from your heart is to say, “When this even happened, I felt ______, ______, and _______” (using 3 feelings from the Feeling Wheel). When you express yourself in this way, in humility, you can only grow and connect.

One of the most difficult things for me to learn was to stay present in the present moment. It was so easy for me to disconnect from the people around me even when I was involved in conversation with them. How, you ask? By thinking about all of the tasks I needed to accomplish that day, or that week, or that month, etc. 

I valued my ability to multitask so much that I couldn’t see how it was hurting my ability to connect with Jami (and everyone else). Understandably, there are times that multitasking is important, but never when it comes to being present and connecting with those you love.

If you are on the verge of consciously uncoupling, try the tools above and see what happens, or call us for a free strategy session. You can have a passionate conscious coupleships.

Are you ready to choose a conscious coupleship?

*If you would like more information on where the phrase “Conscious Uncoupling” began, click HERE

How to Establish Good Boundaries 

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By Jami Keller

Forgiveness leads us to truth, and truth leads us to healthy boundaries. 

Forgiveness is first a choice. Rarely do we feel ready to forgive. So it must be learned. By choosing to forgive we give up the poison of holding a grudge. Holding on anger, it is said, is like taking poison and hoping someone else will die. Forgiveness does not make a wrong right, or allow it to be ok. 

Forgiveness is acknowledging what happened and choosing not to let it stop you from a bigger and better perspective. (Tweet This)

After working with thousands of people in the area of forgiveness we have noticed a powerful and distinct pattern. Hurt and pain from the past is held in our hearts actually prevents peace, personal power, and joy. Choosing to forgive, even partially, allows us to see what we really want. 

Defining what we want or would rather have leads us to seeing our part in the pain. The truth is that love is always possible, we all deserved better than we got. This truth sheds light on the conditions around what has happened and this light allows us to see a space between the event and the choices we made about that even. Now we can allow other choices and stories to become options. This process then gives us motivation of our will. 

Boundaries are really a matter of will. This is why we often teach people that what you say your boundaries are is far less important than really believing you are worth keeping that said boundary. (Tweet This)


If we have the will to stand up for ourselves and call out the truth, we have a new boundary. This boundary is much like the picket fence with a gate in a front yard. It can be moved inward or outward. As we grow we have a greater influence on the shape and size of our boundaries. 

So awareness grows, and if the discipline of forgiveness is kept, there appears to be no end to what is possible. We get to choose when the gate is open or shut, and just how far we let someone into our territory. The awareness gained is often the realization that the pain is at least half our own making. As they say, it always takes two.

Relief, freedom, and awareness are always part of the result of forgiving. If this process is continued (it can never be a one time gig, or it can end up regressing into the same dysfunction it started with)  this leads to personal power. Forgiveness is the core of humble power. You can not have one without the other. 

So by choosing forgiveness you make friends with awareness and freedom, and in turn gain the power in being who you truly are. 

If you make friends with forgiveness, then you will make an enemy of holding onto pain. (Tweet This) 


Why it is Time to Give 100%

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By Ariel Minter

A couple years ago I was talking with one of my dear friends. I was zipping through a story and somehow got to a point where I mentioned I didn’t feel as though I was giving the full potential of my part of 50:50 (in my relationship). 

She gently interrupted and said “Ariel, of course you’re not giving or getting what you feel you need to. Because you are supposed to give the person you are in love with 100%, not (less than) 50%.” 

I stopped. Generally, my first reaction to a statement like this would be to press my point. But I was too surprised and confused to do that. I was somewhere in between feeling shocked and mesmerized by the idea. 

My friend picked up on my sudden silence and continued “If you only give half, and expect the other person to give half, that’s not really love. That’s half of what your love could be.” I absorbed her words and tried to casually change the subject all while turning bright red in my face and stumbling over my words. Luckily, she’s extremely gracious and let the topic slide. 

Giving anything or anyone 100% is not only frightening, but also feels completely unnatural. Maintaining that control has to be some form of evolution, since a broken heart is a valid concern (as opposed to hoping the caveman comes back with some form of food and that we’ll make it until the morning.) 

It’s like handing over your heart in one hand with a knife in the other and saying “Alright, here you go!” At least that was my unconscious thought process before my friend brought this point to my attention. 

Days after our conversation, her words were still ringing in my mind. I felt a mixture of excitement and outrageous fear with this new way of thinking, but also guilty. I had never expressed love 100% before. 

Around the same time I spoke with my friend, my partner and I were going to Recovering Couples Anonymous. We had been engaged for several months, and we wanted to learn relationship and communication tools  so we could both have the best form of intimacy possible. RCA is a transformational program, and I recommend it to most who share they may be struggling in their relationship. 

A week after the conversation with my friend took place, one of our mentors at the meeting repeated almost exactly what my friend had said. 

It became pretty clear that something or Someone was trying to send me a message. Before I was even able to offer 100% of myself, I had to do a lot of work. Between my commitment to the Passion Provokers Process of five 90-minute sessions and attending RCA, I finally came to some tough realizations.  

Through these tools and processes, I discovered that for the majority of my life, not only did I not love myself, I resented myself. The saying is true; if you don’t love yourself you can’t truly love anyone else. Facing myself and figuring out what I needed to do in order to have peace with who I was and who I am was the hardest thing I ever did, and continue to do. 

Since I completed the process, I’ve discovered that I am now more inclined to love wholly. I am more accepting of my own flaws, therefore more accepting of the flaws of others.  

So, I swallowed my fear and started bringing 100% of myself to our relationship, instead of my standard 50%. Giving 100% of myself went something like this . . . 

1. I talked exponentially less and, as a byproduct, listened exponentially more.

2. I started to communicate non-verbally in the love languages that I knew my husband needed (if you want to figure out what your love languages are, click HERE). 

3. I began taking better care of myself by making healthy food choices and exercising more frequently. Pretty soon, we were cooking together and walking the dogs together. The bond that is created when you cook and work out with your partner is profound.

4. I practiced becoming aware of my unconscious behavior. One major thing was I noticed I used my phone as a way to avoid awkward situations. So, I started dealing with the awkward situation as opposed to avoiding it. We argued exponentially less.

5. I started accepting and believing the compliments that were given to me.

If you choose to give 100%, your coupleship will thrive. Just as happiness is contagious, giving a whole heart is as well. I’m not sure when I will actually get to 100%, but it’s more about the journey than it is about the destination. In fact, the destination is the journey. 

I am still on this journey. I have hiccups and total mess-ups on this journey. But I continue to value my coupleship over everything else. I want to be the best version of myself, not only for myself, but for him. 

You can try doing this without telling your partner, or you can do it with an open conversation. It’s scary as hell and extremely uncomfortable. But I promise that you will discover an intimacy that is limitless. 

“If you only give half, and expect the other person to give half, that’s not really love. That’s half of what your love could be.”